June 27, 2005
Off for the week
Well, I'm off tomorrow to take Mrs. Chester to sit on the beach for a few days. I don't plan to blog at all. Hope you all have a pleasant week and then I'll return full-force after July 4th.
June 26, 2005
Congressman Kucinich and insurgent leadership make same demands of Bush
Congressman Dennis J. Kucinich, speaking on the House floor:
"But this war can end another way. It can end if enough members of Congress consider and cosponsor H.J. Res 55, a bi-partisan bill introduced last week, to require the President to initiate troop withdrawal no later than October 1, 2006. Thank the troops, and bring them home."US 'in talks with Iraq rebels' - Sunday Times - Times Online:
The Iraqis had agreed beforehand to focus on their main demand, “a guaranteed timetable of American withdrawal from Iraq”, the source said. “We told them it did not matter whether we are talking about one year or a five-year plan but that we insisted on having a timetable nonetheless.”What esteemed company the authors of Res 55 find themselves in! The Americans were meeting with Ansar Al Sunnah, The Islamic Army of Iraq, the Iraqi Liberation Army, and Jaish Mohammed.
June 25, 2005
MAKE: A new magazine subscription
The first issue has an interesting article noting that the time is coming for do-it-yourself vehicles, and then the author goes on to compare different vehicle platforms that might make good "open-source" automobile bases. He ends with this interesting note:
A true people's car is doable. It just needs a Linus Torvalds (or maybe 20) and a user community. But before we throw down our Linux boxes to save the world with a publicly built 100 mpg tank, here's the biggest catch: legislation and registration. Most kit cars fly under the radar because the are registered as the original vehicle of the chassis "donor". A recent Californian bill allows for "special Construction" vehicles, but it's limited to 500 per year, and the demand already exceeds the allotment.This got me to thinking of the similarities between the regulatory issues mentioned and those of the FEC's would-be regulation of political speech on the internet (see all the special commentary on this topic at RedState.org).
Unless a new popular donor chassis is appropriated from industry, a group or organization would have to agree on a chassis/body and have it crash tested. This is an expensive process, but NOT IMPOSSIBLE.
If the do-it-yourself trend is on the rise, then it seems that one of two possibilities will occur with regard to the resulting regulation of "do-it-yourself" activities and commerce: either the regulations that restrict human behavior will become increasingly complicated, abundant, impenetrable and asinine. or they will be swept away as fed-up DIY'ers grow in political power and lobby their politicians to repeal them.
There is a whole host of issues that this applies to: the regulation of blogging, and build-at-home cars being but the tip of the iceberg. I don't know how it will play out, but I have a feeling that increasingly complicated regulations will also have an increasing number of loopholes to exploit, such that the sum total effect of such regulations might be negligible -- though they'll certainly piss off a large number of innovative and creative people in the process.
Woe be unto the government at whatever level that tries to cut off human creativity.
As I've said before, the state is welcome to regulate my blog when they pry it from my cold dead hands.
Incidentally, MAKE is a great magazine, whether you are the tinkering kind or not. Even though my tinkering is limited to the blog-and-html-kind (do-it-yourself opinions, I suppose), it still gives me a good feeling to know that I can flip open the magazine and learn how to make an aerial camera from a kite and a disposable Kodak. This would be a great magazine to have lying around if you have kids that like to tinker too, I imagine.
June 22, 2005
An Alert Reader sent me a link to Small Wars Journal, which is both a journal and a blog. Great stuff. I will make it a daily read.
I'm getting inundated with trackback spam. Don't know why. I'm using Blacklist to moderate it but it is time-consuming. Sorry to complain.
Under the Radar
Here's a few under-reported events and stories that have caught my attention:
1. Porter Goss's recent interview with Time has been remarked upon elsewhere, especially his statements about the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden. But it doesn't seem that many people have paid much attention to this exchange:
Q: YOU HAVE BEEN A BIG CRITIC OF CIA HUMAN INTELLIGENCE. WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO FIX IT?I won't speculate on the many new things Goss says are in the offing, but I just want to draw attention to the tone of this response as compared to "we need another five years" from George Tenet. Let's hope Goss isn't blustering.
A: We're fixing it with quantity and quality. We're changing methods. We're changing systems. We're changing it from the beginning to the end, from the recruitment--the types of people we are trying to attract--to the way we bring them in, to the experience we give them in training, to the ways we get them on station or in places where they are of use to us. We are focused very much on finding ways to get our eyes and ears out and about on a global basis. And we are doing it in ways that you can't even imagine and I'm not even going to slightly discuss.
2. A few weeks ago I noticed that during his trip to Asia, Rumsfeld spent a few quiet moments with his South Korean counterpart, and they agreed to the contingency plan in case of the North's collapse (from the Korea Herald via Benador Assoc.):
Code-named OPLAN 5029, it calls for joint military actions to be taken in line with different levels should there be any kind of internal trouble in North Korea, including massive defections, a military coup or a regime change.I noted our policy toward North Korea back in December. See this Korea Times piece:
In an apparent policy turnaround, the United States will seek transformation of the North Korean regime without attempting to change or overthrow it, a top U.S. security policymaker said Tuesday.Could it be that these two things are related? All manner of pressure to transform the regime a la Eastern Europe in the 80s and then a contingency plan for when all hell breaks loose and the party cadres come south with the peasants?
Worth thinking about. Here's some more background.
3. Finally, Forbes recently carried an interesting piece: an analysis of the war by Oxford Analytica, which is one of those foreign policy analysis outfits kind of like Strategic Forecasting. Check this little bit out:
. . . the Administration is moving toward a new phase in its anti-terror campaign. It is likely to embark on developing a new Presidential Decision Directive.If any of this is accurate, we are in for a round 3 that is as different as rounds 1 and 2 were from each other. Especially interesting is the idea of painting the conflict as a civil war within Islam. Perhaps such efforts would change things in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, places where we want change but are hamstrung by economic and political ties with parts of the government. Those places in particular seem the ones destined to be affected most by such a campaign.
This document, which would replace the one created in October 2001, will provide interagency strategic guidance to U.S. counterterrorism policy.
The review will probably increase the scope of counterterrorist strategy, involving more instruments of state power than the current military/intelligence-heavy approach.
More focus will fall on terrorist groups such as Hezbollah and Hamas. These are known to be separate from al Qaeda and its affiliates but share some logistical assets.
Regime change in so-called state sponsors of terrorism (Cuba, North Korea, Syria and Iran) is not high on the agenda.
In essence, the strategy will aim to make permanent the gains so far accrued in the war against terror by striking at the root causes and residual networks of Islamic terrorism. A growing trend in Islamic terrorism is the decay of global operations by al Qaeda against principally U.S. targets and the proliferation of local affiliate cells that strike mainly at perceived U.S. proxies or civilians in their own country of residence. The U.S. Country Reports on Terrorism 2004 document noted that al Qaeda's leadership threatened about three dozen countries in 2004, encouraging local affiliates to develop their own terrorist campaigns.
Washington is thus focusing rising levels of security assistance on a broad range of threatened nations in an effort to fight terrorists where they are active. State Department-administered counter-terrorism assistance rose from $38 million in 2001 to $133 million recently requested for fiscal year 2006. Since 2001, 20 new countries have begun receiving assistance, which means the number of states receiving training is now 67. Key focus states include Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Indonesia, Philippines, Columbia, Kenya and Malaysia.
In addition to response and post-incident investigation, a large proportion of training focuses on the border security aspects of preventative security. A growing number of U.S.-led initiatives are underway to reduce unregulated cross-border movement, control access to the global air-transport network, and "fence off" areas of weak government control where terrorists can develop bases.
The U.S. government is also focusing more attention on the intangible but vital dimension of the "war of ideas" between radical Islam and moderate Western and Islamic thought. The Pentagon's September 2004 National Defense Strategy stressed the need to counter ideological support for terrorism to secure permanent gains in the war against terrorism.
It stated the importance of negating the image of a U.S. war against Islam, and instead, developing the image of a civil war within Islam, fought between moderate states and radical terrorists. This kind of imagery will feed into the broader debate beginning in the U.S. on how to win such a war of ideas and how to cultivate moderate democratic Islamic states.
How 'bout them apples?
June 21, 2005
Discussion Topic: Diplomacy and North Korea
President Reagan made some interesting moves which cut across his rhetoric about the Evil Empire. On the one hand he condemned it, but at the same time, he was willing to have summits and other meetings with its leadership.
Should President Bush make similar moves with respect to Iran and North Korea? What would be the advantages and disadvantages? Was Reagan successful because of his personality, or would similar tactics work for Bush as well?
What do you think?
June 19, 2005
Time for a Pep Talk: What Bush Should Say on June 28th
Human will, instilled through leadership, is the driving force of all action in war. - Warfighting Marine Corps Doctrinal Publication One
Last week, five members of the US Congress "introduced a resolution calling for the beginning of troop withdrawal from Iraq by Oct. 1, 2006." From the Washington Times:
Democratic Reps. Neil Abercrombie of Hawaii and Dennis J. Kucinich of Ohio and Republican Reps. Ron Paul of Texas and Walter B. Jones of North Carolina introduced a resolution yesterday calling for President Bush to announce a withdrawal plan by the end of the year.Time vs Event-based Decisionmaking
The congressmen said, however, that they don't expect to see any action on the resolution, but hope it will start a public conversation resulting in the troops coming home.
"This is a proposal that will be the basis for the beginning of the end of the war in Iraq," Mr. Kucinich said. "This is really about bringing our troops home. It's about saying, 'Come home, you've done your job, come home.'"
Congressman Kucinich's mistake is in attempting to dictate a timetable for what is the most fluid and ever-changing of all human endeavors. Indeed, the very next paragraph of Warfighting quoted above is this:
No degree of technological development or scientific calculation will diminish the human dimension in war. Any doctrine which attempts to reduce warfare to ratios of forces, weapons and equipment neglects the impact of the human will on the conduct of war and is therefore inherently flawed.One might add timetables to this list. Why October 1st, 2006? Why not October 2nd? Or September 1st? Or October 1st, 2005? By what magical timetable, or secret sliderule does Mr. Kucinich calculate the point at which our efforts must be curtailed?
Furthermore, why must those efforts be wed to a date? What is wrong with the already explicit event-based decisionmaking that is in place today? Our leaders have made it abundantly clear that the US drawdown will begin when Iraqi forces are capable of handling their own security in an ever-increasing fashion. Perhaps these few congressmen believe that if we publish a schedule, the enemy will adopt it themselves and retire from the field on cue, as though possessing the same dance card.
Martin Van Creveld had a bit to say about the mechanistic thinking which necessitates timetables in war. He notes the following about the mindsets that prevailed in the German General Staff before World War I:
The scientific spirit of the age, which believed with Lord Kelvin that physics had already reached the limits of its development, also affected command in another way. War itself, long regarded as the province of art, now came to be thought of as a science, and consequently as subject to systematic study and analysis in the same way that physics or chemistry is. Clausewitz's warnings concerning the incalculable moral forces governing war was often overlooked, and his discussion of the correct use of numbers in time and space was regarded as the key to his doctrine.The results of the Germans' thinking are well-known. Their vaunted Schlieffen Plan, which called for 42 days of scripted maneuvering resulting in the destruction of France, led to years of trench warfare instead.
It All Comes Down to This
There are two reasons why such calls are being made on the floor of the House. The first is the nature of Western culture and of Western war. Victor Hanson notes in The Wars of the Ancient Greeks that decisive engagements are one of the eight characteristics unique to Western war-making:
5. CHOICE OF DECISIVE ENGAGEMENT: the preference to meet the enemy head-on, hand-to-hand in shock battle, and to resolve the fighting as quickly and decisively as possible, battle being simly the final military expression of the majority will of the citizenry. The Persians felt a destructive madness had come upon the Greeks at Marathon, and so it had, as they ran head-on into the Persian ranks, a practice frightening to behold for the easterner, as the battles at Plataea, Cunaxa, Granicus, Issus, and Gaugamela attest.Hanson believes that this military goal of decisive battle is influenced by the democratic decisionmaking of assemblies, congresses, and the like: an issue voted upon is thereby decided once and for all.
We witness this same preference two and a half millenia later. When our forces can seek decisive engagement, they are at their most destructive and receive the highest levels of support, and when they are involved in lower-intensity wars which seem to drag on, that same support soon falters.
Here is our conundrum: while we are geared culturally, and militarily for decisive battle, our enemies do not give it so willingly. They instead seek to harrass, disperse, and fight against our softer targets, fleeing when we come in large numbers to kill them, returning when we don't find them all and withdraw. This is classic guerrilla thinking and it is being employed with great skill by Al Qaeda in Iraq. Thus it is not our forces which are targeted, and it is not our military which Al Qaeda seeks to defeat, but instead it is our will they seek to rend, and the political victory of our withdrawal is their goal.
Another corollary to this fundamental aspect of Western warmaking is its resulting mobile nature. A mobile force's objectives are more easily observed by those watching at home, via press reports and the like. And the decisive pursuit of the enemy leads to a mobile force.
In another text, The Soul of Battle, Hanson notes that General Patton understood these aspects of US military power implicitly.
Patton realized that it was very American to keep an army constantly on the move, uprooting its headquarters every few days, entering and leaving new landscapes almost simultaneously, always shooting on the run . . .Today we find ourselves involved in a war of relative physical stasis, against an enemy who will not allow himself to become decisively engaged. Such conditions of war are poison to the American populace's will to fight, and that toxicity is beginning to show. In fact, this is the second reason for the Kucinich bill.
More than any other American commander, Patton also understood that the American army fought best when it exploited its inherent mobility as part of a continual allegiance to the indirect approach . . .
. . . Patton proved that the idea of a great democratic march, an ideological trek in which a fiery commander might pour his spirit of vengeance into his citizen soldiers, was not lost, regardless of the sheer magnitude and deadliness of such an undertaking in the murderous new age of mechanized warfare.
A Continuation of Politics by Other Means
Again, why October 1st, 2006? Could it be that such a date is known to be too soon? Nearly every Senator who I've seen on Meet the Press this spring has said we need at least two more years. So October 1st, 2006 is short by some 9 months. If the Democrats were to make October 1st, 2006 their artificial and self-imposed withdrawal date, and were then to propagate this far and wide as a reasonable time for our forces to be home, and were that date to then come and go without such events, you can bet your bottom dollar that there will be commercials in the final month of the midterm election asking why Republicans can't get the troops home on time. Make no mistake about the choice of dates in Mr. Kucinich's bill.
The popular will to continue the war is waning. This must not be allowed to continue.
Consider this report by Fox:
The issue of whether to set a deadline to pull U.S. troops out of Iraq is beginning to creep into the early stages of next year's midterm congressional elections.See the video here, and hear Ford make this statement:
Tennessee Democratic Rep. Harold Ford Jr. began running a television ad last week, his first as a U.S. Senate candidate in 2006, a race he entered last month. The advertisement asks the question of whether it is time to start bringing troops home and plays off the public's impatience with U.S. involvement in Iraq.
I am Harold Ford Jr. and I approve this message because this Fourth of July I hope all of us will take a moment to remember those brave Americans fighting to make the world freer and America safer. Let's work hard to bring them home soon and with honor, and make them as proud of us as we are of them."Such statements, which link in the same breath the lack of political will of those like Ford with the resolve necessary to fight honorably is off-putting to say the least -- and these same sentiments, no matter how falsely emotive, or incoherent from the standpoint of victory, are likely to be increasingly prominent if the national will is not bolstered and fast.
What must be done
We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender!President Bush has a major address planned for June 28th, the one year anniversary of the transfer of sovereignty back to the Iraqis. What will he say?
He needs to give the pep talk of his life. He needs to tell the American people that there has been great progress in Iraq and needs to lay that out explicitly. He needs to give concrete examples of the progress of Iraqi forces and note as clearly as possible how our own presence there depends upon their progress. He needs to spell out clearly where the path to victory leads, and he needs to be very, very clear about the catastrophic results of a premature withdrawal.
He then needs to ask people for sacrifice, and for two kinds of sacrifice. First, he needs to ask for people to join the military. He needs to ask those who've thought about it for awhile to come off the bench and get in the game. Make it very clear that their country needs them. Don't mention any kind of economic incentives, etc, because while those are nice, they won't give his remarks the right tenor. Instead, call upon people to serve in the same inspiring language that has always marked such calls.
The second sacrifice needs to be from the rest of the population. What it should be I'm not sure, but there needs to be some kind of program that people can participate in, contribute to, and otherwise get a sense of involvement in the war. It needs to not just be such in spirit, but also in effect, such that it won't just give people a feeling of involvement, but it needs to actually help the war effort. It might be adopt-a-soldier, it might be war bonds, it might be a list of charities that help the war effort (like Spirit of America), or it might be something else entirely. There is a great untapped reservoir of popular patriotism and a similar reservoir of desire to be involved and to play a part in victory. The President must tap that vein and find a way for people in general to have a sense of ownership for the conflict in which we are engaged. A country told to shop or travel rather than told to get their heads in the game will be one that loses the war. The President needs to draw upon his own unwavering confidence in the cause and imbue the nation with it.
This is a tall order. Whatever the President says will be relentlessly dissected and sniffed at by the media. This speech needs to be one for the history books. It needs to be the most rousing, inspiring, rhetorically impressive feat of public-speaking he's ever given. For a President who has the fault of not being known for his speech-making skills, this is a very tall order.
That's why he needs to enlist some help. He needs to announce a bipartisan coalition of representatives of the White House who will travel the country for a month drumming up support for the war. My first choice would be Zell Miller, but the rest must be bipartisan and out of the box. Get John McCain in there. Hillary is on the record on TV as supporting the war. Let her have her shot. Get a couple of actors, get some war heroes, get some old cagey veterans of World War II, get a diverse group and make your points with them standing behind you, and then let them loose on the country. This will do much to cut off at the pass partisan sniping and press criticism, and will serve to shift the focus of such criticism from Bush himself, since he seems to drive his opponents absolutely bonkers.
Finally, make sure to get Zell Miller's speechwriter too, but don't blame the Democrats with another barnburner, just use his rhetorical skills to ask for sacrifice. We will give it in spades.
From today's Meet the Press:
MR. RUSSERT: We have considerable commitments in Afghanistan and Iraq, deployments. These were the headlines that greeted Americans just last week. "Just over 5,000 new recruits entered Army boot camp in May. ... Early last month, the Army ... lowered its long-stated May goal to 6,700 recruits from 8,050. Compared with the original target, the Army achieved only 62.6 percent of its goal for the month [a shortfall of almost 40 percent]." What will happen if for the next year the recruitment for the volunteer Army falls 40 percent short of the goal?
SEN. McCAIN: We're in trouble. We have to understand that we need to do a couple of things. One of them is to increase the incentives for people to join the military. To some degree, this is a marketplace for a pool of young Americans, men and women. So it's very important we do that. We should consider a shorter term enlistment for some 18 months active duty, 18 months Reserve duty in return for $18,000 in educational benefits. But I think we also have to talk a lot more--a lot more--about patriotism, about national service, about the challenges that America faces throughout the world and maybe try to re-ignite some of the patriotism that America felt after September 11.
A question for you lawyers out there
If I had worked at Guantanamo Bay, in any capacity, say guard, intelligence specialist, or interrogator, and I wanted to get together with a handful of my fellow guards etc, and sue Senator Durbin for libel, slander, etc, would I have a case?
If any of you legal types can offer opinions on this, I'd be interested to hear them. I haven't seen that mentioned as a possiblity anywhere else.
UPDATE: An Alert Reader draws my attention to this paragraph in Article 1, Section 6 of the US Constitution:
The Senators and Representatives shall receive a Compensation for their Services, to be ascertained by Law, and paid out of the Treasury of the United States. They shall in all Cases, except Treason, Felony, and Breach of the Peace, be privileged from Arrest during their Attendance at the Session of their respective Houses, and in going to and returning from the same; and for any Speech or Debate in either House, they shall not be questioned in any other Place.So I suppose that a slander or libel lawsuit would include "questioning" in some other place Durbin's speech and therefore, he can't be sued for it. On the other hand, if he was charged with Treason, which I suppose would be a criminal offense, rather than a civil offense, he would not be exempt from arrest. Am I reading this right?
June 18, 2005
Publius has interviewed an Iranian poll monitor . . .
. . . and the result is very telling. Sounds like Michael Moore has been fully embraced by the propagandists inside the Iranian regime.
June 16, 2005
Houston Meetup Successful
Light posting this week since I've been out of town. Will begin posting again this weekend probably.
The Houston meetup was successful -- 8 of us grabbed dinner and tried to solve the world's problems in between swapping a few stories. Great stuff.
I will investigate some future meetup possibilities for LA and Dallas.
June 10, 2005
I was in a wedding in St. Louis a few weeks ago and had a first: I met a Loyal Reader who was not a prior friend, acquaintance or relative. I had never met a reader before.
I know very little about most of you readers out there.
I'll be in Houston on business Mon-Friday this coming week. From the readers I've corresponded with, it seems like there are a fair number there.
Would anyone be interested in a meetup? It would have to be in the evening for me. Mon, Tues, or Thursday night. Would be fun to have a couple of hours of conversation with fellow blog-readers, no?
Comment or email and let me know what you think . . . if there's enough interest, I'll put something together.
June 9, 2005
Friday Reading & Misc.
You must immediately read this post from Dadmanly: Grief and Anger.
Geopolitical Review notes that 600 people have been killed in Thailand in the past 18 months as a result of terrorism.
COUNTERCOLUMN is in high dudgeon about the plans for the WTC memorial, and rightfully so. (Thanks to an Alert Reader for sending this link).
Was Hemingway a lousy war reporter?
A bit of, well, sobering humor from Tech Central Station: And So the Kinder, Gentler War on Terror Began...:
"I don't care, sir! If the bad guys have information, I'd do anything short of torture to get it out of them. I'd take to those Korans like Gallagher to watermelons. I'd use rendering plants, pigs in yarmulkes, Vegas strippers, wood-chippers, sumo wrestlers, leather-clad perverts, battery acid, Jesuits -- everything! I'd feed every last Koran in the world to rabid aardvarks if it would save the life of even one of my men. And if that ticks off the 'patriotic Iraqi protestors,' maybe somebody better tell them that in the civilized world, lives are worth more than books."
"Guards, arrest that man on charges of bigotry and crimes against sensitivity!"
"I'm not a bigot, sir! If it was Catholics plotting terrorism, I'd hire fat guys to use consecrated hosts as deodorant pads. If Greenpeace was responsible for 9/11, I'd feed 'em dolphin nuggets at every meal. You can arrest me all you like, sir," cried Snuffy, as a horde of burly men dragged him away, "but if you keep playing pattycake with them insurgents, pretty soon me and all my hilljack buddies will get elected to high office, because the American people want soldiers to be soldiers and not diversity consultants. Get real with the bad guys, or we will!"
The Daily Demarche is organizing an exchange between left and right blogospheres. Careful. Actual debate taking place in a civil manner.
Pejmanesque: THOUGHT FOR THE DAY (THE "I REALLY WOULDN'T WANT TO MESS WITH HIM" EDITION). I think it's a good thought. The same one is in the first few chapters of "Ender's Game" I think.
Submit your questions to the Big Pharaoh here.
The Bill Gertz story Analysts missed Chinese buildup makes me wonder: perhaps a cadre of intelligence generalists should be created within the intelligence agencies of the US? Rather than expertise in a specific region, they would be asked to analyze all manner of things. Some of their output would not be valuable because they would not latch on to the correct details. But much of it might find connections between far-flung events and between methods and conditions that stove-piped country-specialists, or technology-specialists, might not see as easily.
I wonder how often our nation's intelligence analysts are told to shut up and get back in their boxes? One reason I don't think I could do this.
The mother of all blogrolls, is, as to be expected, taking longer than I thought it would. But I'm making some steady progress.
Coming soon: The Adventures of Chester gear! You can be the first on your block to get some cool Adventures paraphernalia. Should be fun.
Finally, I'm reading the new book, "Sniper" right now. Thus far (80 pages in) it's great. Brings back lots of memories of the invasion. When I'm done I'll post a review.
Is the Revolution starting?
Iran is going nuts. It has just achieved a seat for the World Cup and there are massive demonstrations, tied into political protests against the regime. Go to Regime Change Iran and just keep scrolling.
June 8, 2005
Zimbabwe and the Kitty Genovese Incident
In The Shield of Achilles [link in sidebar], Phillip Bobbitt's epic tome on the future of the state, he entitles one chapter, "The Kitty Genovese Incident and the War in Bosnia."
In 1964, Kitty Genovese was repeatedly attacked and stabbed early one morning outside her apartment building in Queens as she got home from work. Despite her screams for help, and despite watching the attacks, her neighbors did nothing until she was dead.
Indeed, it was not until almost 4am that a call was finally made to the police. Throughout the assault, not one person telephoned the police or any of the emergency services. The man who ultimately did call explained that he had only done so after much deliberation; in fact he had asked a friend on Long Island for advice and that person had persuaded him to call the police.Bobbitt notes that many psychological explanations were attempted for this failure of collective action:
One psychiatrist attributed the tragedy to a constant feeling in New York that society was unjust . . .Bobbitt is doubtful:
Another psychiatrist proposed that it was the confusion of fantasy with reality, fed by the continual watching of television, that was responsible . . .
A psychiatrist suggested that the murderer vicariously gratified the sadistic impulses of those who witnessed the murder . . .
Dr. Karl Menninger, the director of the Menninger Clinic, attributed the tragedy to "public apathy that is a manifestation of aggressiveness." And one theologian suggested that "de-personalizing in New York had gone further than we realized," to which he added, "Don't quote me."
One is inclined to be skeptical about such explanations. They seem to provide, if they provide anything, a commentary on the world of the speaker more than the world of the event . . .A new emergency is brewing in Zimbabwe, as Wretchard has reported today and yesterday.
. . . Some of the most fruitful psychological research into the subject of intervention was undertaken as a consequence of the Genovese murder. Two psychologists, John Darley at Princeton University, and Bibb Latane of Ohio State University, spent four years in a program of research into what determines bystander intervention in emergencies. In a remarkable series of experiments, staging "emergencies" in stores, offices, and laundromats, ranging from epileptic seizures to thefts and disorderly conduct, they managed to discredit virtually all the usual explanations. Darley and Latane hypothesized that the paralysis that seemed to grip bystanders resulted from what they called a "diffusion of responsibility" that occurred in situations as diverse as when a woman falls and sprains an ankle, smoke pours into a room through a ventilating system, or a cash register is robbed . . .
In fact, it is hard to imagine The Zimbabwean Pundit being more explicit:
We need your help! Speak out to your representative, contact one of the organizations at http://www.kubatana.net; or if you know anyone in Zimbabwe spread the message, we are going to stand up for what's rightfully ours.What is planned is called "stay away" and is meant to be a two-day peaceful protest wherein folks simply stay home and off the streets. Zimbabwean Pundit also notes
The last succesful stayaway which started on November 11, 1998 paralyzed the country as youths and rowdy crowds fought running battles with anti-riot police and the army. This last strike led ultimately to the formation of the MDC [Movement for Democratic Change].Indeed, The Herald - Zimbabwe News Online reports thus:
POLICE yesterday warned that they will deal ruthlessly with people who will engage in an illegal protest being planned by a coalition of the opposition forces bent on disrupting peace in the country and assured law abiding citizens of protection as they carry on with their daily activities . . .Returning to Bobbitt: he concludes his examination of the psychology of emergency response:
To summarize, we can say that there are five distinct stages through which the bystander must successively pass before effective action can be taken: (1) Notice: he must become aware that some unusual occurrence is taking place; (2) Recognition: he must be able to assess the event and define it as an emergency; (3) Decision: he must then decide that something must be done, that is, he must find a convincing reason for action to be taken; (4) Assignment: the bystander must then assign some person, himself or another, or some institution to be responsible for action; he must answer the question, "who should act in these circumstances?" (5) Implementation: having decided what action should be taken, he must then see that it is actually done. If at any stage in this sequence, a crucial ambiguity is introduced, then the whole process must begin again. The presence of ambiguity in urban life, not the callousness of urban dwellers, is precisely what makes emergency intervention in cities so problematic . . .Bobbitt then takes us to the first stop on our journey:
So it was with the horrifying events of the three years 1991-1994 in the former state of Yugoslavia: fascinated, frightened, appalled, the civilized world was anything but apathetic. And yet, like Kitty Genovese's murderer, the killers in Bosnia returned again and again, once the threat of outside intervention dissipated, leaving the rest of us as anguished bystanders.Another quote is perhaps relevant should things in Zimbabwe go downhill fast, and the world begins to move through the five stages, perhaps to "Decision" or even "Assignment:"
MiraclesFrom Infantry In Battle, prepared in 1934 by the Military History and Publications Section of The Infantry School under the direction of [then] Colonel George C. Marshall.
Time and again, numbers have been overcome by courage and resolution. Sudden changes in a situation, so startling as to appear miraculous, have frequently been brought about by the action of small parties. There is an excellent reason for this.
The trials of battle are severe; troops are strained to the breaking point. At the crisis, any small incident may prove enough to turn the tide one way or the other. The enemy invariably has difficulties of which we are ignorant; to us, his situation may appear favorable while to him it may seem desperate. Only a slight extra effort on our part may be decisive . . .
It is not the physical loss inflicted by the smaller force, although this may be appreciable, but the moral effect, which is decisive.
A good thing for bloggers to remember indeed.
UPDATE: Remember, "intervention" can take many, many forms.
UPDATE2: A tangent: There are of course similarities between the five conditions of emergency response and Boyd's OODA Loop. But I think there are key differences. Boyd meant mainly for his OODA concept to be applied in situations involving actors who were clearly arrayed vis a vis each other and where the outcome was likely to be a zero-sum. With emergency response, there are multiple actors, they could be hostile, they could be friendly, the outcomes may be zero-sum or not. Feel free to discuss these differences in the comments.
UPDATE3: Welcome Instapundit readers! If anyone would like to be on my email list just send an email with "Subscribe" in the subject line to "terrier_manchester at yahoo.com." You'll get 1-3 emails a week with nothing more than a hyperlink to something I've posted. You can opt-out anytime. I never share my list with anyone. Well, enough of that. Keep reading. There're good comments.
Discussion Topic: Markets and Networks
Is a network a market? Seems to me the two are very similar, with the understanding that the store of tradable value in networks isn't always money but can be trust, shared interests, or beliefs. Similarly, markets often exist in collective or public goods which are best supplied by vast networks. What is the relationship between these concepts, network and market? Is there one, or is it not worth discussing? Consider the insurgency. Is it a network? If so, doesn't it create a market for providers of jihad to interact with its consumers? Their product is war.
I'd like to hear your thoughts.
June 7, 2005
Strange Reports on Matador from Debka
Two separate Alert Readers have drawn attention to this article: DEBKAfile - Impatient for Assad to Go, Washington Made Much of Routine Syrian Scud Test. Among other claims, the article makes these assertions about the recent Operation Matador:
Last month, aware of the ground shaking under his feet, Assad performed an epic about-face – or at least gave the appearance of turning over a new leaf.The salt required to swallow this comes in a very large shaker. Consider:
He ordered his army to pitch in with support for “Operation Matador”, the important U.S. assault against insurgents along the Iraqi-Syrian border, thereby tipping the scales in favor of the American forces. This was revealed by DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s military sources in an exclusive report from Iraq on May 20. Thanks to Syrian cooperation, American troops were for the first time able to come up from behind Iraqi and Arab insurgents and al Qaeda gunmen, including followers of Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi. From launching pads on Syrian soil, units of the 2nd Marine Division, 2nd Marine Expeditionary drove into Iraq and executed a west-to-east sweep of terrorist bases (as you will see on the special map accompanying this article) .
The US operation was two-pronged: one arm drew a 15 square-mile square around a patch of al Jazira Desert in the al Qaim region. It was delimited by the Syrian frontier town of al-Hary and the Euphrates River, the area around the Iraqi town of Ar Rabit, on the northern bank of the river, and the Iraqi cities of Khutaylah, Sadah and Karabilah on the southern bank.
Simultaneously, the second American arm drove southeast for a systematic purge of insurgent lairs along the centuries-old smuggling route from the Syrian border. They cut through a corridor more than 200-mile (320-km) long, winding from the Syrian border town of Abu Kemal, crossing through the Syrian Desert and ending near the Shiite shrine town of Karbala in central Iraq. Numerous Arab and al Qaeda sanctuaries and launching-pads were mopped up along the route.
According to DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s military sources, Syria deployed an armored brigade between Abu Kamal and the Syrian banks of the Euphrates to cover the US Marine operation around and inside Al Hary. The brigade was under orders to shield the Marines from insurgent attack on the Syrian side of the border and to cut the guerillas’ links via the Euphrates to their comrades on the Iraqi side of the border.
The dense reeds, bushes and vegetation provide cover on the river banks for armed ambushes and hideouts. Syrian forces undertook to cut off the guerrillas’ escape route back into Syria while the Marines hammered these riverside lairs.
The Syrian military umbrella left the Marine Force and the Army’s 814th Multi-Role Bridge Company free to construct a pontoon bridge across the Euphrates and cross safely into Iraq. US forces and Syrian troops then formed a defensive perimeter around the area.
Upon reaching the northern bank, the Marines began their offensive in Iraq, coming at the guerrillas from the rear and forcing them to flee toward western Syria – where they were stopped. Finding themselves running into the arms of Syrian troops, they turned south and took the smugglers’ corridor bound for Karbala. Here they were trapped by the second prong of the US clean-up operation. Those who could, fled east. Most reached Iraqi towns and villages along both banks of the Euphrates at points north of Ramadi and Fallujah in the Sunni Triangle.
1) An operation of this magnitude involving joint US and Syrian forces would be very difficult to keep a lid on. US reporters were embedded with US forces during Matador. Why would they keep quiet about being in Syria?
2) Why keep this cooperation secret? Publicizing it would work extremely well in our favor. and for the Syrians.
3) Some of the descriptions of tactical actions do not make sense. Like, "The Syrian military umbrella
left the Marine Force and the Army’s 814th Multi-Role Bridge Company free to construct a pontoon bridge across the Euphrates and cross safely into Iraq." The Euphrates runs perpendicular to the border; it does not divide the countries. One can cross it and one would still be in the country one started in. Moreover, many press accounts have stated that difficulty in spanning the river led to delays which drew enemy fire from the insurgents. How was this possible if a "Syrian military umbrella" was in place?
4) I'd be extremely surprised if any US commander would recommend joint operations with the Syrians. Though they were on our side in Desert Storm, an operation as described would require significant command and control cooperation -- and would therefore give any Syrian military personnel with ties to the insurgency a window into our operating methods in general and battle plans in particular. I doubt an American general would be ok with this. The doublecross factor is too high.
I think I used Debka as a source once, but I don't think I'm going to use them again.
June 5, 2005
Ho Chi Minh Trail vs the Euphrates Line of Communications
On Saturday, the New York Times published an article by John Burns entitled Iraq's Ho Chi Minh Trail, wherein he makes several errors of analogy:
From Husayba on the Syrian frontier through Qaim and the sand-blown towns of Rawa, Haditha, Asad and Hit, onward through Ramadi and Falluja to Baghdad, the corridor has become the Ho Chi Minh trail of this war.Consider the two maps below. First, the Ho Chi Minh Trail, running through Laos and Cambodia, adjacent to Vietnam:
Like the bane of American commanders in Vietnam, the 300-mile stretch of river is not so much a single route as a multi-stranded network of passages, some hewing close to the lush silted landscape of palms and reeds that run along the banks, others crossing vast reaches of stony desert on either side . . .
For their part, the insurgents have access to a resource network of their own - Sunni Arab mosques sympathetic to the insurgency in almost every village and town from Damascus to Baghdad. American officers say they have become stations on a relay run straight into the heart of Iraq.
In numbers, the foreign Arab recruits account for a fraction of the insurgents operating across Iraq, whose total is estimated by the American command to range from 12,000 to 20,000. How small a fraction can be guessed from the fact that, as of last week, only 370 of the 14,000 men held as suspected insurgents in American-run detention centers in Iraq were foreigners, according to figures provided by the American command . . .
Nor is there much doubt that the foreign Arabs' impact has been out of proportion to their numbers, primarily because of the willingness of the non-Iraqis to die in suicide bombings. According to a tally kept by the American command, more than 60 of these bombings took place across the country in May, responsible for about two-thirds of the civilians who died.
Iraqis commonly insist that suicide bombing is alien to the Iraqi character, and American commanders agree. "In every case we've seen, the driver has been a foreigner," an American officer who has studied the bombings said last week.
The officer said intelligence reports had established that many bombers passed through mosques in Damascus, Syria's capital, or Aleppo, another Syrian city, and from there through a network of mosques that filtered, in many cases, down the Euphrates, through Qaim, Haditha and Ramadi. At every stage, the officer said, the handlers were organized in cells, each separate from the next, so as to guard the network's secrecy.
As for the bombers, he said their sojourns in Iraq were generally short.
"They don't stay in Iraq very long," the officer said. "They get a lot of indoctrination along the way, but once they're here they are moved into operations very, very fast."
Iran News Roundup from RegimeChangeIran
DoctorZin provides a review of this past week's [5/29-6/4] major news events regarding Iran.
Iran's Presidential Elections:
- Townhall.com reported that the son of the late Shah said, Boycott Iran's Sham Election.
- Payvand reported that Iranian students wonder whether they should vote.
- The Peninsula reported that Iran's reformist camps faces a dilemma: Change or drop out.
- Khaleej Times reported the brother of Iran's president was assaulted by hardliners at pro-reform rally: party.
- Reuters reported that Iran's leading reformist presidential candidate, Moin, launched a radical platform, promising profound reviews of the Islamic state's political structure and of Tehran's relations with the United States.
- Iran Focus reported an Iranian survey predicts: 92 percent of voters to stay away from presidential polls.
- Khaleeji Times reported that Rafsanjani said the Islamic regime needed a radical rethink of the way it deals with the international community. Rafsanjani's student supporters.
- Agence Franc Presse reports that the Iranian public is being told, voting is as important as praying.
- Ekbatan Observer Blog reported amongst Iranian political activists boycotting this election is the only honorable option left to the citizens.
- Answers.com provides a useful briefing on "who's who" in the Iranian Presidential elections, set for June 17.
- OpenDemocracy.com reported that Rafsanjani says he has spent all his money.
- LA Times reports that recent moves by Khamenei removed whatever tiny doubt remained about who calls the political shots: What he says, goes.
- The Associated Press reported that U.S. intelligence and foreign allies have growing evidence that wanted terrorists have been residing in Iran.
- SMCCDI reported that many believe the murder of an Iranian residing in France is the work of Islamic regime's notorious hit squads.
- Kuwait News Agency reported that Yemen condemned clerics to death on charge of spying for Iran.
- Reuters reported that Al Qaeda's leader in Iraq Abu Musab al-Zarqawi had fled the country after being seriously injured in a U.S. missile attack and may have been moved to Iran. The Iranians denied this. Dan Darling and Richard Miniter weigh in. Finally, Donald Rumsfeld warned Iraq's neighbors not to shelter Zarqawi.
- Arutz Sheva asked, Does Iran Already Have Nuclear Weapons?
- Sunday Times reported that Iran announced that it had successfully tested a new solid fuel missile motor for its arsenal of medium-range ballistic missiles.
- Yahoo! News reported a statement President
Bush made may have misled the Iranians into thinking Washington is open
to their being able to enrich uranium to low levels.
- VOA News reported that Condoleezza Rice says she hopes Iran is ready to support stability and democracy in Iraq rather than interfering in its affairs.
- Expatica reported that President Bush said the United States would not compromise with Iran on the uranium enrichment issue.
- The Hill reported that members of Congress push tougher line on Iran.
- The New York Times reported that the
Bush administration is preparing to discuss efforts to join forces with
other nations in intercepting weapons and missile technology bound for
- VOA News reported that Nicholas Burns as saying, Iran presents a serious challenge to the United States and other democratic countries.
- The Associate Press reported that President Bush says it was a "reasonable decision" to let Iran apply for membership in the WTO.
- Bloomberg reported that the US Secretary of State Condi Rice says nuclear material headed to Iran intercepted.
- The Jerusalem Post reported that the Bush administration is revising its counter-terrorism strategy.
- WebIndia123.com reported that Secretary of State Condi Rice
described Iran's elections as "a country where an un-elected few
continue to suppress the desires of its people for democratic elections." Iran responded.
- Washington Times reported that U.S. lawmakers and former military officers are backing the MEK.
- Iran Focus reported Iranian political prisoners announced are going on a hunger strike.
- Iran va Jahan reminded us that the offspring of dictators openly and baldly flaunt the most basic laws, this is true in Iran.
- Islamic Republic News Agency reported that a group of women from "Women Activists Movement" staged a protest.
- Yahoo News took a look at Hashem Aghajari -- the dissident.
- Photos of Iranian dissident Akbar Ganji at home.
- Iran Press Service reported that Iranian dissident Qasem Sho'leh Sa'di was prevented from leaving Iran.
- BosNewsLife News Center reported that an Islamic court acquitted Christian lay pastor Hamid Pourmand on apostasy.
- Yahoo News reported on Iranian bloggers.
- Wired reports on the end of the Iranian blog spring.
- OhMyNews.com reported on the influence of weblogs has spread to every aspect of Iranian people's daily lives.
- SMCCDI reported Iran's soccer victory over N. Korea leads to mass celebration and unrest. More.
- SMCCDI reported that Iranians boycotted massively the commemorative or official ceremonies marking the 16th anniversary of the death of Khomeini.
- Iran Focus reported that Tehran students protested against paramilitary forces.
- SMCCDI reported that several of the Islamic regime's plainclothes agents were gunned down in the rebellious City of Esfahan.
- SMCCDI reported that students of Shiraz University protested against the persistent repression in Iran. Photos.
- SMCCDI reported that sporadic clashes happened at Khoy University, in western Iran.
- SMCCDI reported of sporadic clashes between dissident students and the Bassij students at the Amir Kabir University. Photos. More Photos.
- SMCCDI reported that the body of a young man who was hanged from a tree has been found in the rebellious City of Eslamshahr. A MUST READ!
- Photos of Iranian students supporting imprisoned dissident Akbar Ganji.
- Photos of Iranian students asking people to boycott the upcoming elections.
- RegimeChangeIran.com asked blogs to join the "Blogosphere Supports Real Democracy in Iran" Campaign. MSNBC gave us an encouraging plug.
- Iran va Jahan reported that Reza Pahlavi warned European leaders.
- SOSIran.com has just released a petition directed at the leaders of the G8 nations.
- Asian News International Iran is reportedly contemplating to hold a trilateral meeting with India and Pakistan.
- Adnkronos International reported that Iranians living abroad have accumulated more than a trillion dollars in earnings.
- People's Daily (China) reported that Iranian President Mohammad Khatami has proposed that all Muslims take what he calls the "Great Islamic Middle East" initiative to counter the US "Great Middle East" plan.
- The American Spectator asked, if France can have a referendum, why not Iran?
- NBC News reporter Tom Brokaw was in Tehran and produced three reports on : Women, the elections and nuclear issue. Video clips.
- Investors.com blamed former President Jimmy Carter for our problems with Iran and Islamic terrorism.
- Ryan Mauro has just published an interview with me regarding current events in Iran and possible U.S. options.
- Dennis Ross claimed, the
Iranians seem to believe they can continue to move incrementally toward
developing fissile material openly and clandestinely and without
incurring any real costs--and recent history would suggest they're right.
- The Washington Institute suggested three things the U.S. can do to signal its support for the promotion of democracy in Iran.
- Charles R. Kesler took a close look at Democracy and the Bush Doctrine.
- Henry Sokolski, Policy Review took a serious look at our options at defusing Iran’s bomb.
- The Washington Institute reviewed the "Lawful Crimes" in Iran.
- The Middle East Economic and Political Analysis issued a report, Iran's Nuclear Programme - Assessment of Goals and Future Actions.
- Michael Ledeen warned that President Bush is drifting in his war on terror.
- The Boston Globe interviewed Gene Sharp, author of 'From Dictatorship to Democracy," about how to turn nonviolence into a weapon against totalitarian regimes.
Reza Pahlavi, who has lived in the U.S. since his father was overthrown in the 1979 Islamic revolution, said:
Iran was the only country in the world "whose written constitution specifically denies that sovereignty belongs to its citizens."
June 3, 2005
This weekend, if all goes as planned, I hope to create the mother of all blogrolls. I've had an anemic blogroll for far too long and I aim to remedy this oversight!
Here's a lot to keep you occupied:
Michael Yon photoblogs from Dohuk, Iraq, north of Mosul, and reports that it is a peaceful and stable with place with nary an insurgent or US troop tobe found. Great stuff, great pictures.
Henry Sokolski tries to crack the Iran nut in the latest issue of Policy Review.
The Atlantic Online has just posted a new article about wargaming a Korean Peninsula conflict. Haven't read yet. May be subscription only.
The Emirates Economist looks to be an interesting blog and I've just bookmarked it.
In the Red Zone has been updated several times since I last checked in. Steven Vincent's travels through Iraq continue. Just keep scrolling.
The Word Unheard details the laying of the keel for the new class of US Navy's littoral ships. Also, check out "Have You Heard the Word?" a newswire feature patterned after Chester's Newswire here. I imagine that USMC_Vet will do a better job than I have at updating it!
Finally, the only thing I have to say about this is that morale among the British seems exceptionally high. Or, maybe all of their morning PT sessions are like this?
UPDATE: If you need even more stuff, here's some more great reading from American Digest.
And Syria Exposed looks to be a fascinating blog that Alert Reader Dymphna has brought to my attention. Check it out.
June 1, 2005
Thunder and Lightning Silent and Invisible; "Blogosphere Supports Real Democracy in Iran Campaign"
I'm saving my next map for when there's some news. No news about Thunder or Lightning in Baghdad for two full days now.
Instead, check out A Daily Briefing on Iran over at Regime Change Iran. RCI is starting a new campaign to publish as much news about Iran as possible in the weeks leading up to the Iranian election. Here's a blurb from RCI:
The next few weeks in Iran may prove critical to the efforts of the pro-democracy forces there.I've joined the campaign (and will post the button shortly) and will be posting a weekly roundup from RCI on Sundays. I encourage all to participate, as I've been a proponent of changing regimes via awareness myself as well.
On June 17th, Iran has scheduled its Presidential elections and as the LA Times said recently:
It was already one of the most important elections in the world this year. It now also promises to be one of the most watched.This time the world will see for itself that the elections in Iran are a fraud. The regime permits only those candidates that support the present regime to run. As Amir Taheri says, the outcome of the election is certain. The Supreme Leader of Iran will remain in complete control, the Presidency is meaningless. But the regime needs a high voter turnout to fool the world community that they are the legitimate representatives of the people.
This is why the people of Iran are boycotting the election as they did in the last Parliamentary election. They want a real democracy. But this time the world media will be watching. We need to make sure the world is watching.
Those of us in the blogosphere need to publish the news on Iran in order to help Iranians searching for news know that we support their efforts to replace the existing regime with a real democracy. This is why we ask you to publish our campaign logo on your blog.
Why republish the news? Because the regime is blocking access to most major news sites and the blogosphere is a means to frustrate their efforts. It is also important for the people of Iran to know that people around the world are standing with them in their struggle. This support has proved invaluable to others that successfully overthrew their oppressive regimes in other places around the world, such as Georgia, the Ukraine, Lebanon and elsewhere.
This struggle will likely not end on June 17, but has the opportunity to pick up steam over the coming weeks and months. There will almost certainly be a run off election and a few weeks later a major anniverserary of a bloodly crackdown of pro-democracy forces there. There has never been a more volitatle situation in the Islamic Republic that that it faces this summer. Now is the time to act.