Chapomatic

July 30, 2006

Link Dump 30 July

Filed under: — Chap @ 9:08 pm

While I’m waiting for the computer to crunch through some other work…

  1. It’s been a while since I looked at 2Slick. He’s got an older post quoting Lt Gen Petraeus that is worth looking at with observations like “Act quickly, because every Army of liberation has a half-life.“.
  2. Pixy links to a movie called “Obsession” on Google Video that I would look at later but have not yet. Subject line: Islamists.
  3. The Armchair Generalist reviews the new Zinni book. The review (and the commenters on the post) think that Zinni’s channeling Thomas Barnett, or at least read one of Barnett’s books. The Generalist points out that building something like a Genocide Prevention Corps or SysAdmin or Zinni’s “National Monitoring and Planning Center” is a larger organizational change than was Goldwater-Nichols, and thus will be difficult to implement. I also noticed that the solution Zinni posits, as described by the Generalist, sounds awfully DoD-centric. (I haven’t been in complete agreement with Zinni for a couple of years, so this might be worth reading.)
  4. Speaking of Barnett, here’s his latest column. I’ll be darned if I can figure out why “equilibrium” is a good thing–and it sure sounds like Scowcroftesque “stability”, which I consider a nonstarter. I also don’t see a problem with the US continuing to be more powerful economically or militarily, which makes this column a bit silly to me. But there’s the link–you make the call.
  5. B3ta’s been digging into the YouTube a little too much. One of the more pixilated videos is here.
  6. Chaotic Synaptic’s new place is a new, clean design.
  7. The Doc is spending his anniversary in the Box. Drop him some deployed commenting love, willya? (Which reminds me: went to the yuppie grocery store again today, and complimented the early-twentyish girl at the counter on her new tat. New tat was a writeover, as she had her husband’s name on it, and the new tat we hadn’t seen was “Never” on one inner wrist and “Again” on the other. This is in Omaha, mind you. Now tell me tattoos aren’t mainstream.)
  8. A wonderful extracted comment from a polemic that needed written, over at Galley Slaves. The movie discussed is pretty lame indeed.
  9. Professor Dauber’s been on fire this week, including this zinger and…never mind. Just keep scrolling.
  10. This blogfight won’t register on Allah’s Top Ten, but it is pretty sad. Not really worth the click; but I typed this anyway.
  11. Tammi’s going on tour.  Hope she gets her trackbacks fixed by the time she comes back, though…
  12. Jason van Steenwyk thinks bonds are bottomed, agreeing with this guy.  Could be, or at least some of the cash sitting in our money market after getting out of First Command could go to a bond index.
  13. A profile of Walid Jumblatt from the Wall Street Journal.

July 29, 2006

New Computers

Filed under: — Chap @ 1:09 am

Back when the Thinkpad died I had such a bad time that I decided I would not buy a Lenovo. So, particularly noticing how Windows Vista sounds almost as bad as certain initiatives at work, I went Mac. Herewith my last few days when not taking care of sick kid and tired spouse and other things.

(more…)

Link Dump 28 July

Filed under: — Chap @ 12:33 am

It’s been a bit of a difficult week. But I did take some time to look at this Internet thingy a couple of times. On the “series of tubes” I found some of the following:

  1. An interview with HuffPo’s Greg Gutfeld, professional bear baiter.
  2. Der Spiegel’s op-ed from a former Israeli peace activist, now with a different opinion.

    The result is confusion: I go to sleep at night thinking I am a dove and wake up in the morning to find out I am a hawk.

  3. Smash gets all activist again, dealing with a disgrace to the uniform.
  4. Lexicons abound, and they’re all good. Tim Blair has his, channeling Ambrose Bierce; Victor Hanson has a different one, with a more academic-sounding version of what Mark Steyn did back in the day.
  5. I think I got this from BoingBoing: a Russian Livejournal page with a guy’s visit to a Russian submarine base, an underground tunnel complex (balaklavskeye, boomers) converted to museum abandoned and looted. You can load the link into the Fish to get a translation. Here’s one shot of the inside from Russo’s site, proving that it will take a rather large weapon to destroy something in here:
  6. Abandoned Russian sub base
  7. Ralph Peters on Israel and Hezbollah. Here, an observation on Hezb:

    Now we see Arabs fighting tenaciously and effectively. What happened?

    The answer’s straightforward: Different cultures fight for different things. Arabs might jump up and down, wailing, “We will die for you Saddam!” But, in the clinch, they don’t – they surrender. Conventional Arab armies fight badly because their conscripts and even the officers feel little loyalty to the states they serve – and even less to self-anointed national leaders.

    But Arabs will fight to the bitter end for their religion, their families and the land their clan possesses. In southern Lebanon, Hezbollah exploits all three motivations. The Hezbollah guerrilla waiting to ambush an Israeli patrol believes he’s fighting for his faith, his family and the earth beneath his feet. He’ll kill anyone and give his own life to win.

    We all need to stop making cartoon figures of such enemies. Hezbollah doesn’t have tanks or jets, but it poses the toughest military problem Israel’s ever faced. And Hezbollah may be the new model for Middle Eastern “armies.”

    The IDF’s errors played into Hezbollah’s hands. Initially relying on air power, the IDF ignored the basic military principles of surprise, mass and concentration of effort. Instead of aiming a shocking, concentrated blow at Hezbollah, the IDF dissipated its power by striking targets scattered throughout Lebanon – while failing to strike any of them decisively.

    Even now, in the struggle for a handful of border villages, the IDF continues to commit its forces piecemeal – a lieutenant’s mistake. Adding troops in increments allows the enemy to adjust to the increasing pressure – instead of being crushed by one mighty blow.

  8. Says Mr. Hawk to a person who needs a little more grace in her life than she currently has. There are people in this world who are just not nice (h/t Allah):
  9. You do not intimidate me Jill Greenberg. You are IN MY OPINION a morally bankrupt individual who has no problem manipulating children (interesting how your website is called The Manipulator) and trying to intimidate others from expressing their opinion and excersising their constitutional right to free speech.

  10. If you’ve been watching any of the several inside baseball games going on in the blogosphere, here’s a grand slam (Patterico and cast of thousands vs. Greenwald) which will make no sense whatsoever unless you’ve been rubbernecking this particular trainwreck for a while. Must have been a fast train that hit, because there are cars everywhere
  11. oh man. Somebody has a Japanese TV blog. Makes me almost want to break out the old Japanarama DVDs. How much more weird could Japanese TV be? None. None more weird.
  12. Finally, John of Argghhh! has changed his castle from Argghhh! to FIELD DAY! See what spectacular shenanigans he’s up to, as he takes a grand old lady home in style after her seagoing service with the Mexicans.

    I’ll have to tell you about my romantic walk along the beach with a Mexican Admiral…

July 24, 2006

Opportunity Cost

Filed under: — Chap @ 10:23 pm

The first of two new computers arrived Chez Chapomatic today.

I think blogging will be a bit, uh, light.

But I took notes on a Sudan thing and will update with a trip report.

A Couple Of Interesting Lebanon Reads

Filed under: — Chap @ 1:53 am

Mahmood isn’t happy with world politics based upon a somewhat disingenuous graphic from the British Independent. In the comments to his post, I found two articles I’ve seen before, but not linked. They may well be worthy of your time: Treppenwitz with an ugly bar fight analogy, and Alan Dershowitz with a discussion of the lose-lose logic Hezbollah has managed to foist upon its enemy.

Update: This Mark Steyn column is also insightful.

July 23, 2006

So Who’s Being More Punk Rock?

Filed under: — Chap @ 6:38 pm

Example One:

Aging hipster, late thirties, with CBGB t-shirt, recent small tribal tattoo on ankle, shopping at the Whole Foods in town with the checkout clerks with their gauges and tats.

Example Two:

Me, at the same yuppie food store, with a “Naval Station Guantanamo Bay Cuba” polo shirt.

You wanna be punk rock?  You wanna be different, think for yourself?

Heh.

Thanks, U.N., For The Hezbollah Talking Points

Filed under: — Chap @ 6:14 pm

Remember Jan Egeland, the UN functionary who called the United States “stingy” for our post-tsunami governmental response?

He’s at it again, making a difference–and not a clueful or useful one.

Israeli bombing of a Beirut neighborhood where Hizbullah had its headquarters has breached humanitarian law, a senior UN official said on Sunday. “It is horrific. I did not know it was block after block of houses,” Jan Egeland, the UN emergency relief coordinator, told reporters as he toured the shattered Haret Hreik district. “It makes it a violation of humanitarian law.” “It’s bigger, it’s more extensive than I even could imagine,” he said, surveying a pile of rubble.

A couple of blocks? More extensive than he could imagine? I wonder what he thought the tsunami was. And thanks for that outstanding misinterpretation of jus in bello, thankyewverymuch.

But let’s let him continue:

We are setting up a major relief operation but the violence has to stop,” Egeland said, calling for a halt to the war. “The rockets going into Israel have to stop,” he said. “The enormous bombardment that we have seen here with one block after another being leveled has to stop.”

Oh, good. That will certainly do it.

“It is costing too many lives and it will not lead to a solution in the south. There is no military solution to these things, it is only a political solution.”

Heinlein’s Mr. DuBois was apparently not his teacher in class (as typed in here)…

The girl told him bluntly: “My mother says violence never solves anything.”

“So?” Mr. Dubois looked at her bleakly. “I’m sure the city fathers of Carthage would be glad to know that. Why doesn’t your mother tell them so? Or why don’t you?”

They had tangled before–since you couldn’t flunk the course, it wasn’t necessary to keep Mr. Dubois buttered up. She said shrilly, “You’re making fun of me! Everybody knows that Carthage was destroyed!”

“You seem to be unaware of it,” he said grimly. “Since you do know it, wouldn’t you say that violence had settled their destinies rather thoroughly? However, I was not making fun of you personally; I was heaping scorn on an inexcusably silly idea–a practice I shall always follow. Anybody who clings to the historically untrue–and thoroughly immoral–doctrine that “violence never solves anything” I would advise to conjure up the ghosts of Napoleon Bonaparte and the Duke of Wellington and let them debate it. The ghost of Hitler could referee, and the jury might well be the Dodo, the Great Auk, and the Passenger Pigeon. Violence, naked force, has settled more issues in history than has any other factor, and the contrary opinion is wishful thinking at its worst. Breeds that forget this basic truth have always paid for it with their lives and their freedom.”

Always.

But if you’re the loser in the war, especially when you win going very slowly and lobbing rockets at homes and bombing Mike’s Place every once in a while, such talk certainly helps.

This Egeland. I’m sure he is well respected in the U.N. bureaucracy.

July 22, 2006

Oh The Anticipation

Filed under: — Chap @ 8:12 pm

I cannot wait until Commander Salamander gets a hold of this

Two former Pentagon officials, including an acting secretary of the Navy, have been accused of scheming with a banned American contractor to get lucrative rebuilding contracts in Iraq, The Associated Press has learned.The contracting firm, Custer Battles LLC, was suspended two years ago by the military for submitting millions of dollars in fake invoices.

The charges come in a sealed federal lawsuit, a copy of which was obtained by The AP. It was filed by two whistleblowers — one of whom won a $10 million judgment in another suit when a federal jury agreed that Custer Battles had swindled the government.

The current suit names former acting Navy Secretary Hansford T. Johnson, former acting Navy Undersecretary Douglas Combs, and Custer Battles LLC officials including founders Scott Custer and Mike Battles, who were barred in 2004 after billing the government for work that was never done and for padding invoices by much as 100 percent.

Also named were six companies connected to the contracting firm, including Windmill International Ltd., a worldwide contractor run by Combs and Johnson, and a Romanian company, Danubia Global, which purchased Custer Battles in 2005.

Read on–it gets ugly indeed.

Oh, That’s Why…

Filed under: — Chap @ 11:11 am

I don’t read The Onion much any more.

July 21, 2006

A Must Read….from Rick Santorum?

Filed under: — Chap @ 10:25 pm

I always thought the guy was a lightweight, only visible and a driving force for socially conservative causes. I, however, am not one of those, and don’t really like those causes very darn much.

However.

Tigerhawk has a speech by Santorum in which he effectively characterizes the war.

Why is it so hard to see the nature of this war?

It should not be difficult to see clearly who our enemies are. Every major Islamic fascist leader has openly identified the United States as their prime target, and repeatedly promises the creation of a new, global, “caliphate” where Islamic fascism will rule mankind. This language comes from both Sunni and Shi’ite fanatics, whether Arab, Persian, Indonesian, American, or British.

We are fighting Islamic fascists in two forms: states like Iran and Syria, and organizations like al Qaeda, Hezbollah, and Hamas.

And yet we are foolishly reluctant to come to terms with this terrible reality. It’s an old, sad story isn’t it? Over and over again, our enemies announce their intention to attack us, and we refuse to believe them. Hardly anyone took Mein Kampf seriously, and when Nikita Khrushchev pounded his shoe on the table at the U.N., announcing, “We will bury you,” it was widely treated as a moment of comic relief.

If we have learned anything from the twentieth century, it should be this lesson: when leaders say they are prepared to kill millions of people to achieve their goals, we must take them at their word. Particularly in this case when the enemy sees dying for their cause as a desired objective as opposed to a tragic consequence.

But we have not learned that lesson. If we really believed that the Islamic fascists were a real threat to the future of our country, we would not be screaming and hollering about how our government is tracking terrorists’ money, and monitoring their telephone conversations. Instead we’d be screaming and hollering that these programs are being compromised.

So why are we so unwilling to define our enemies?

One part of the problem is that defining the enemy correctly has a direct impact on our personal lives. It forces us to recognize that we, the infidels, are being hunted. This is not just happening someplace thousands of miles away. The enemy is doing his utmost to kill us, because of who we are, wherever we are, at home or overseas.

An excerpt doesn’t do this one justice–the speech is worth reading in its entirety.

Desire, Armed

Filed under: — Chap @ 9:29 pm

(Too much personal info follows.)

You won’t know what I’m talking about. I’ll give you a nickel if you do. I’m a fan of a band that was an antecedent to one of my favorites (Camberwell Now) called This Heat.

I quote from Calvin Trillin in a Chinese restaurant as he asks a waiter what that listing on the menu is: “You won’t like that.” I like music that would break a lease, or drive bugs from your house. Lucky they didn’t ask me to mix the General Noriega DJ party.

(How twisted is my musical taste? Okay. There’s a Japanese noise band called Merzbow; it’s one guy. The tough indie rawk kids went to the concert and said it was the loudest noise they’ve ever heard. Merzbow has some rich fans–there even was a one off record for sale, hard wired into a Mercedes car stereo; you had to buy the car and everything. See, there’s people who would buy that. I’m the kind of guy who break into it one night and replace the CD with Baby One More Time, and wait for the guy to react like the doctor in the movie High Anxiety. For fun.)

From a blog of course titled “20 Jazz Funk Greats” comes a link to This Heat….and a newly reissued 6 CD set.

I think I have a new suggestion the next time I get asked about presents.

“Armed”? Yeah, the linked blog’s politics ain’t the same as my own–I know the pictures on television are selected, and know which ones were on the TV because a group of nasty people wanted it there, and that those pictures don’t appear when the bad things happen to people who aren’t doing sales via mass murder.

The sympathizers of Hezbollah will do their thing; I do mine.

Mahmood On Lebanon

Filed under: — Chap @ 10:29 am

Mahmood’s got an interesting analysis, worth a read.

It All Makes Sense Now

Filed under: — Chap @ 2:23 am

I don’t watch much TV.

This site tells me what I missed.

I had no idea about he who shares the same name as Ambassador Bolton’s moustache…

Hewitt And “180s”

Filed under: — Chap @ 12:58 am

Me, I prefer a cold forty, but you know how it is.

Here’s Hugh Hewitt beating on a couple of folks in a rather interesting post.  I don’t know if his prescriptive is what I would do, but it’s one possible approach, anyway.

“The trouble is,” Chait proclaims from the editorial pages of the country’s worst-run major paper,  “that Bush isn’t just a nonintellectual, he viscerally disdains intellectuals.”

Blind pig.  Half an acorn.

In attempting to tell us what drives Bush, Chait is in fact revealing what it is that drives the former supporters of the war turned defeatists and the increasingly frenzied denouncers from respectable perches like the big papers, the Council, and the weeklies:  They feel disdained.

July 20, 2006

An Interesting Development

Filed under: — Chap @ 9:34 am

Via Real Clear Politics, two interesting developments:

–Claudia Rosett discusses the first Oil-for-Food scandal conviction.

–Ohio senator Voinovich, he of the unhappy reaction to a certain ambassadorial nomination, writes an op-ed….titled “Why I’ll Vote For Bolton“. Whoa.

July 19, 2006

And People Die In Information Warfare, Too

Filed under: — Chap @ 10:38 pm

My Syrian friend sent me a link to a web site that shows pictures of little kids in Lebanon having been blown up. Terrible pictures, ugly and unpleasant, not for the squeamish.

This is terrible, for a little kid to be blown up.

But the reason for them having been blown up? Not the reason the web site says. See, just like the Palestinian fighters shoot with kids all around them, or the anti-Iraq forces who grab women and children as shielding while they shoot with impunity, or the people who use ambulances as troop carriers, Hezbollah has their human shields in Lebanon. As does Iraq and Syria have their shielding by fighting wars by proxy.  This illuminating LGF post has a related theme, too–to have the little kids grow up to strap on the ol’ Semtex, you gotta get them to hate early.

I certainly don’t remember my friend sending me links to shocking websites when buses got blown up, or Mike’s Place got blown up, or any of the decades of innocents getting blown up a couple of dozen miles south.

I wonder if there’s a reason for that.

Not Lowering This Flag

Filed under: — Chap @ 12:07 am

En Revanche quotes from an op-ed by William F. Buckley, who didn’t like the adventure in Iraq from the start, and doesn’t like it much now, either. Buckley says

We pronounced, in the Declaration of Independence, ideals we conceived of as universally appealing, but which no one had the least intention of exporting beyond the boundaries of the newly independent country.

All of that came much much later, becoming full-blown U.S. policy only in the reign of Woodrow Wilson, whose espousal of ideological diplomacy caused desperate problems for himself, his administration and the League of Nations. Missions for world reform came back in the late ’30s, provoked by the universalist aims of Soviet communism and, though more finite in its appetites, the far reaches of the Nazis’ Third Reich. The rhetoric of the Four Freedoms and of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was there to justify international activity on the part of the United States: the Marshall Plan, NATO, and the hundred meetings of native idealists who reasoned, with great appeal, that the liberties we would not ourselves do without were written in a universal idiom, leaving us as chief agents of evangelism.

Two challenges are posed. The first is relatively manageable: Lower the flag on American universalism — not to half-mast, but not as toplofty as it has been flying since the end of the Second World War. The second is tougher. Why is Islam burning bright? What on earth do they have that we don’t get from Christ our King? If what they want is a religious war, are we disposed to fight it?

I find fault with Buckley’s thinking in these respects:

  • “No one had the least intention of exporting beyond the boundaries of the newly independent country”? Do attempts to take Canada, Manifest Destiny, the Monroe Doctrine, the adventurism of the 1890s, and so forth not count? How about misisonaries? Businessmen? Filibusterers (military adventurists trying to take over countries)? Back then it was a lot more likely that the acquired territory become a state; these days we’re less acquisitive in that manner. Buckley’s point may be contra Sharansky, but stated disingenuously.
  • Buckley, the author of God and Man at Yale, seems to have forgotten what Yale is like these days, where God shows up in the form of guys like the Taliban public spokesman. Not that many people are “getting from Christ our King” these days, particularly in Western Europe and the blue states. Those who do certainly aren’t descending into the style of apocalyptic faith that cleanses the world through blood as the Christians had to deal with immediately following the Reformation and the Muslims are dealing with now (and globalized!). That combination of secularism on one hand and apocalypse and nihilism on the other is pretty characteristic of a good portion of the conflict. It took many decades for Wahab’s work to catch on; Qutb was tortured and killed in the seventies, the ayatollahs took over the Iranian embassy in the seventies. This situation has taken a long time to get here; it’ll take a long time to kill off.
  • It’s not exporting American universalism that we really want. We want sic semper tyrannis faster; we know free people tend not to obsess over ways to blow up Americans, so we want the tyrannies to be freer. This doesn’t mean sham elections, or anarchy; it means moving towards more democratic institutions. The Republic of Korea had its first really free elections only a decade ago after a de facto sorta benevolent and gradually liberalizing military dictatorship; these things take time, and it’s not merely a ballot box with “Thug One” or “Thug Two” selected by the ruling thugs as in the Palestinian or Iranian elections.

Apparently George Will has the same hymnal as Buckley, because Will’s singing a similar tune with an “I Hate The Weekly Standard” twist.

Still, it is not perverse to wonder whether the spectacle of America, currently learning a lesson — one that conservatives should not have to learn on the job — about the limits of power to subdue an unruly world, has emboldened many enemies.

Speaking on ABC’s “This Week,” Rice called it “shortsighted” to judge the success of the administration’s transformational ambitions by a “snapshot” of progress “some couple of years” into the transformation. She seems to consider today’s turmoil preferable to the Middle East’s “false stability” of the past 60 years, during which U.S. policy “turned a blind eye to the absence of the democratic forces.”

There is, however, a sense in which that argument creates a blind eye: It makes instability, no matter how pandemic or lethal, necessarily a sign of progress. Violence is vindication: Hamas and Hezbollah have, Rice says, “determined that it is time now to try and arrest the move toward moderate democratic forces in the Middle East.”

Will sure sounds defeatist, and sounds like Scowcroft arguing for status quo ante. The administration has decided that status quo ante with nuclear weapons and the Internet is not desirable.

(Update: Phibian thinks Will’s spot on in considering Iran a bridge too far for the Americans. I would only point out that if we think so, then the Iranians and their clients will act unconstrained by our desires, and the result of that may well be worse. I’ve not done that analysis; I’m just saying.)

Hugh Hewitt (on a new site with cancerous advertising Javascript–thank goodness for Mike Skallas’ ad blocker!) has some comments about Will’s op-ed that identify a problem with making too close an analogy between the Soviets and the Islamists:

Perhaps in a future column, George Will can expand on the Kennan argument as applied to President Ahmadinejad, and of the consequences if he is wrong. Reread the Long Telegram. The Soviet Union Kennan considered appropriate for “containment” was radically different from the Islamist jihadis of today.

“The theory of the inevitability of the eventual fall of capitalism has the fortunate connotation that there is no hurry about it,” Kennan wrote. “The forces of progress can take their time in preparing the final coup de grâce.”

No 12th Imam there. No need to hurry his return. And in Iran today, as with al Qaeda, there is no leisurely pace, only fury and fervor.

Containment applied to such a force is surely appeasement. It is a recipe for a disaster far greater than 9/11.

A foreign policy based upon the reality of the Iranian regime does not mean a war with it or Syria, though neither would war be ruled out. But it certainly wouldn’t indulge in the fantasies that characterized Stanley Baldwin and his followers. The very first step is clarity about the nature of the enemy.

Hewitt also calls for debate on the situation in Congress, and that’s not a bad idea–although some debate other places would be good as well.

I think Hewitt’s got a point about the Long Telegram. That document was a part of what helped frame our response to Soviet aggression. Right now the closest thing I can think of would be the Bush Second Inaugural, informed as it is by Natan Sharansky’s The Case For Democracy, and codified into the National Security Strategy. From the inaugural address:

At this second gathering, our duties are defined not by the words I use, but by the history we have seen together. For a half century, America defended our own freedom by standing watch on distant borders. After the shipwreck of communism came years of relative quiet, years of repose, years of sabbatical – and then there came a day of fire.

We have seen our vulnerability – and we have seen its deepest source. For as long as whole regions of the world simmer in resentment and tyranny – prone to ideologies that feed hatred and excuse murder – violence will gather, and multiply in destructive power, and cross the most defended borders, and raise a mortal threat. There is only one force of history that can break the reign of hatred and resentment, and expose the pretensions of tyrants, and reward the hopes of the decent and tolerant, and that is the force of human freedom.

We are led, by events and common sense, to one conclusion: The survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands. The best hope for peace in our world is the expansion of freedom in all the world.

America’s vital interests and our deepest beliefs are now one. From the day of our Founding, we have proclaimed that every man and woman on this earth has rights, and dignity, and matchless value, because they bear the image of the Maker of Heaven and earth. Across the generations we have proclaimed the imperative of self-government, because no one is fit to be a master, and no one deserves to be a slave. Advancing these ideals is the mission that created our Nation. It is the honorable achievement of our fathers. Now it is the urgent requirement of our nation’s security, and the calling of our time.

So it is the policy of the United States to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world.

This is not primarily the task of arms, though we will defend ourselves and our friends by force of arms when necessary. Freedom, by its nature, must be chosen, and defended by citizens, and sustained by the rule of law and the protection of minorities. And when the soul of a nation finally speaks, the institutions that arise may reflect customs and traditions very different from our own. America will not impose our own style of government on the unwilling. Our goal instead is to help others find their own voice, attain their own freedom, and make their own way.

The great objective of ending tyranny is the concentrated work of generations. The difficulty of the task is no excuse for avoiding it. America’s influence is not unlimited, but fortunately for the oppressed, America’s influence is considerable, and we will use it confidently in freedom’s cause.

Buckley would like to lower his flag. I think others are going to keep theirs high, for better or worse, and for a long while.

Real Social Justice

Filed under: — Chap @ 12:02 am

Instapundit links to a series of rallies and/or vigils to highlight the Iranian hanging of two people, supposedly for being gay. The top post on that site right now is a series of emails from people coordinating or arguing about the thing, and there are a few things of note in this confusing argument by email:

…Despite what you say, anyone observing what has transpired in recent weeks could see that the demonstrations you have called for do not center around your five demands. They center around the tragic images of two young men hanged in Mashhad. Those images, in flyer and website, poster and powerpoint presentation, have been captioned, branded, harnessed to service in the cause of “gay rights,” magnified and manipulated to serve the reputations of the living, transmuted and exalted and refined and deformed by earnest and desperate imaginations, pressed into a politics which would have been beyond the comprehension of the dead. Even in your open letter, you move quickly to what obviously lies for you at the heart of the matter: condemning Paula Ettelbrick and myself for questioning a particular narrative around their deaths.

I do not play games with the dead.

Good point. If I am that upset about the political ad that used our Dover coffins, I can sympathize why some folks would be unhappy about the use of dead people’s images for such an aim. I haven’t thought through the plus and minus of such imagery in the service of stopping future images from happening, though. (Not to mention the advertising or persuasive power of the image of a dead guy. Lynching photos in the US used to be post cards for racist tourists; now, they’re used for shock value, or to add a frisson of transgression for a political point.)

Also, it’s a damn shame folks like Human Rights Watch don’t have linkings to folks who do what I do for a living, particularly since the work we do tends to enable their goals and the work they do. Personally, I don’t agree with much of what they do–some of it is personal political choice, such as

the death penalty (“some people need killin’ and Tookie shoulda fried”), more of it is turning a blind eye to things that are orders of magnitude worse than the mote in the eye of us American types–but even my friend who believes of abomination doesn’t think kids should swing by the neck for it. Hate the sin and all that. Plus, we have guns. Power is needed to initiate change; power flows from the barrel of a gun[/mao]. If HRW can work with Egyptian factions, they can find ways to swallow the smug and work on common goals.

Oh by the way, it’s not just gay people who need to be free. Us breeder types would like to be free, too. Shared self-interest goals are easier to achieve, and trapping oneself in identity politics can be just that, a trap, keeping those shared goals away from everybody. If you want social justice to be real, it helps to work with people who aren’t just puppet head-making, A.N.S.W.E.R.-connected, leftie types….

July 18, 2006

Piled Higher And Deeper: A Bleg

Filed under: — Chap @ 7:14 am

bumped, because I wanted to

(From the old education joke. You know what B.S. is. An M.S. is more of the same, so…)

I’ve got an opportunity to enter a postgraduate degree program. I delayed for a year because it was the worst professional year I ever had. Now I’m trying for a reattack but am having difficulty figuring out how to frame the initial question for solving in a hundred thousand word thesis. I’m not afraid of the size of the project–this blog hit over a million of my (or quoted) words a while back; the money is in the bank ready to be spent as needed; and time in the off hours is achieveable. I’ve got some advisors for my master’s who will vouch for me at the new school.

But what to do, what to do.

So far, I’ve been considering three ideas.

  1. What a Navy foreign area officer is and how to make it work (not a big enough subject; file 13’d.)
  2. Change in military organizations, as a “how to make it happen”. Individuals in organizations, changing organizational culture, affecting procurement and development of weapons systems. Others have done a lot of work on this already, although I haven’t seen much on “how do I make this happen?”
  3. How would a “Genocide prevention unit” work; how to enable it, how to get the support, how it fails, how it might succeed.
  4. Something involving information warfare and Islamism.

Any comments / suggestions / ideas? I’m stumped, and if I’m stumped this early in the problem there’s no way I’ll finish the thesis proposal.

July 17, 2006

Mickey, We Hardly Knew Ye

Filed under: — Chap @ 10:11 pm

Ace has the big rundown on the passing of Mickey Spillane, mensch. Includes this beautiful one liner:

“[My wife's] an intellectual,” he told me in the car, disgruntled. “She loves politics. I married her on Hallowe’en. Still don’t know if it was a trick or treat.”

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