Justice was done.
There is more to be done.
31 December 2006
30 December 2006
This is something I have been thinking on for awhile and have given commentary elsewhere about and put forward a slow rise in force structure as part of The Jacksonian Party position. But, Oakleaf does ask the question that, if you are put in control of CENTCOM what would your response be to the offer of 30,000 troops? There are quite some number of answers and I tried to stay away from the existing and commentary ones, while I thought about it and ran across a further response on this over at Dawnsblood.
The essential problem of '30,000 troops' is that they come with their Tooth to Tail ratio: how many support troops for each active combat soldier. In Viet Nam this was a 1:7 ratio, so that each active combat soldier had 7 soldiers in admin, supply and so on to back him up and ensure that equipment stayed operational, that he got fed and so on and on. Lately that has been pared down by contracting out such things as food service and other services that can be done without the need of using soldiers to do them. And Oakleaf puts it currently at 1:3, which sounds about right given the amount that has been handed over on the logistics and stores area to private firms to manage.
With that your 30,000 troops gets divided by 4 to get you active combat soldiers: 7,500.
Now these are to be put into Baghdad to quell the resistance there. A bit of calculation shows that this is not so many folks to cover an area the size of Baghdad, and may be composed of National Guard or Reserve units that may not have previously been in Iraq and who may not even have had the most recent MOUT course, which is essential as that entire training regime should have been upgraded to reflect current knowledge and state of the art. If the logistics folks do it, then active combat capability should have been doing this about the same time.
In theory, this force could be used to substitute out troops in less nasty areas, but the further question of the linguistics and cultural training that the Active Forces have gone through is also in question. It does *no good* to take out well known and skilled forces and replace them with new forces that can't even keep the rudiments of local knowledge down and teaching them OJT is damned difficult as you need those trainers for other jobs. So, most likely that is a non-starter as the LAST thing you want to do is PO local tribes that you have been working with by handing them newbies that don't know the lingo and don't have time to learn the ropes. You do not want Baghdad 'quelled' only to face an 'unquelling' in areas that had previously been secured because of our own lack of training.
So, as a Theater Commander I am basically in a bind. And since this civilian polrep is also letting you know it is based upon a John McCain fragile 'Congressional Coalition' that will hang together for an expected short period of time, you cannot look forward to having a nice, long shift in forces, either. But this is a polrep, so, instead of politely saying: 'No, I wish to win here not find a strange and stupid way to make it unravel' you do the #1 thing that a polrep understands.
You make a counter-offer.
Here is where you dig into your tactical command school training and dredge that up and start thinking over the situation at hand. The current strategy has had pluses and minuses to it and you tick those off first.
By deciding to by-pass the cities and built-up areas, by and large, the immediate post-war problems were addressed via an 'inverse oildrop' concept. Every 'oildrop' tried on every other insurgency or rebellion had basically pushed the rebellion into the rural areas and set urban populations against rural ones, so that the entire conflict has turned into class-based warfare. That has never worked long or well, even though it gives superficial peace in the cities, the entire Nation would hang by a thread and most likely dissolve into the real deal of revolution. Avoiding that required:
1) Taking on the weakest insurgency *first* which was also the most hated - The Ba'athists. The first push along the south-central axis divided the Ba'athists and they retreated towards the north as their resupply lines end in Syria. No surprise there. However, that was followed with the Riverine to Tal Afar campaign which made the Ba'athists finally unwelcome in much of Anbar.
2) While this went on, the quiet provinces to the north were given basic protection and were the natural training areas for the New Iraqi Army. That was *not* only the Kurdish regions, but then extending outwards from there. By working long and hard, especially in Mosul and environs, the insurgency to the north was being dealt a fatal blow until al Qaeda lost so many people that they started to disintegrate as any force there at all. Unfortunately they drew back into Anbar just at the tail end of the Riverine campaign and getting the Ba'athists first was more important. Still, this allowed for the north and central axis of Iraq to not only get quieter, but to serve as a building block for the New Iraqi Army. al Qaeda proved a *perfect* learning experience.
3) Taking care of Fallujah was of paramount importance as al Qaeda could not be allowed to consolidate. That part of the campaign was nasty and slowed things down while the Iraqis had to spin up military and police to actually help cover the regions of the country they already had and ensure that peace was kept. Getting out of Fallujah has been a process, but does clearly demonstrate that the MNF is not 'taking sides' with the Sunni or the Ba'athists. This bought good local relations, as these things go, and started to win over the tribes. Putting the Poles in charge of the entire central region was a stroke of great luck, as their deeply held religious values and understanding of despotism has won over friends faster than anything else around.
4) Slowly turning the forces into Anbar has been a problem, which has required endless on-the-ground commitment to tribal relations and the slow winning of those tribes to the Government. That and the fact that al Qaeda is cash rich and man poor has been leading to uncovering huge caches of bomb making equipment, RPGs, AKs, and Dragunovs. All tell-tale signs of al Qaeda suppliers and tactics. By August, when the fighting really got nasty, a corner was turned in Anbar with 25 tribes committing to the Government side and only 6 loosely allied to al Qaeda. The Ba'athists tried to make some show of going against al Qaeda, but that has been minor red on red as they are both man poor now.
5) The UK has been a great force for capturing and initial quelling of the south, but their oversight, or lack of same, on the police forces is coming to a head. The Brits are now having to take down the corrupt police units and hope the others are not too badly corrupted. Basra and environs has been so-so, with definite Iranian infiltration and multiple captures of armed Iranians and Iranian spies setting up listening posts and such. That border area is far more porous than the US southern border and something *really* needs to be done there, but not without Iraqi say-so. Basic holding pattern with shallow upward spiral there.
6) The border forts, however, have come together pretty quickly north of that and have allowed for better monitoring and some interdiction along the entire Iraq/Iran border. Until Iraq gets a solid, if inexpensive, UAV presence, that will always be the case, although some remote ground sensors and such do help.
7) Ramadi was the central point for the resistance and insurgency and is now slowly being taken over by Iraqi forces, and they have needed MNF help on some of the huge weapon stores that have been found there. It is amazing how much money al Qaeda will spend on equipment and so little on training that they run out of people *first*. Some of the local Shia insurgents are finding that they are not welcome, and that is starting this next phase of the campaign off.
8) Baghdad, by sector, is not great, but not in absolute chaos, either. The bad sectors are known and the INTEL folks are piecing together the supply routes and contacts. That really should go in one, large operation around MAR 07 and it *cannot* be pushed. To take down the insurgency it needs to be scoped out and then rooted out fully. The current work is to isolate the insurgents into groups or pockets with coms intercepts targeted against them and roadblocks and such to pick up the strays. UAVs are also proving a good way to bring a few of the more adventurous out to try something that appears safe and ends up suddenly lethal.
9) The major problem in Baghdad has been Iraqi Army training and 'spin-up' time for new troops. They have plenty of troops, but many units have to be battle-hardened and have a thorough going over for infiltration before they become fully operational. Baghdad and Ramadi have been great places to have them show allegiances, so that they can be isolated and taken care of by internal units in the Iraqi Army. By switching units between the two, all sides of the insurgency are exposed, thus allowing for all sides of infiltration to come to light. A slow and unappealing process, but the effects are higher Iraqi morale and readiness, even though they lack basic supplies. While they are brave they are not foolhardy and know the difference between the two. So, without a faster cleaning process for the Army units, it will be some long months if not a year or more until Baghdad is properly taken over by Iraqi forces.
10) Targeting the Shia insurgents is having big windfalls, now that al Qaeda is seen as a 'weak horse' and the Ba'athists force to suckle from Syria. Many of the central tribes have listened to other tribes, had great meetings with the MNF, again with the Poles, and the Government, which is what is allowing Ramadi to slowly be taken over. Considering Ramadi to be a 'smaller Baghdad' that means waiting for Iraqi troops to do everything will be a long time. To buy some of that now allows for the active targeting of the Sadrists and other Iranian mercenaries, which the Government doesn't like so much, but they are having few choices on the matter. Sistani, while scuttling the cross-ethnic agreement has *also* continued his tirade against all insurgents. The 'nasty suspicion' is that he is using the removal of the other armed factions to put the Iranian backed militias into stark contrast with his own beliefs. That may or may not be a winning concept, and waiting for that to come through is also a non-starter. Still, he will not sanction any militia, so that is all to the good. Probably wants Sadr out of the picture. With the work of the UK the breakup of the major insurgent groups into smaller 'bite sized' pieces should continue through the spring and early summer.
Given all of that, what do you do with this polrep? Not being able to ignore the politics at home, you would really love to get the insurgents off of the TV screens, too. No one wants to go out and see what little else the insurgents can actually do, these days, but so long as they can get air time, that is all that matters.
Sitting back and thinking: are there any other historical situations like this? Where it was basically duck and fire and long waits and patrols and danger at every corner, but not all the time everywhere?
The Balkans don't count and nothing like that in recent years anyways.
Viet Nam? No, nothing like this.
Korea? No, too fast moving to have to deal with this.
Basically everything *since* WWII does not lead to this sort of situation, save for the 'peacekeeping' in places like Haiti and the less said about those places, the better.
No, you need to pull up the insurgency as individuals as they do not fight as a coherent force.
Berlin? No, that was definitely cohesive forces right down to the room-to-room fire fights in apartment blocks. The insurgency isn't capable of that.
Stalingrad? The death of tanks? Not really... except... small forces... interdiction... fast movement between long lulls... why, yes, there IS a historical analogy and a damned good one, too! Excellent, in fact, as it does not rely on armored forces nor artillery and Baghdad does not have to be shot up and as an operational city will actually MAGNIFY the effect. A definite Chinese water torture to the insurgency and they have ZERO to counter it. There will have to be a change to the ROE, but it is minor... trivial.
Your answer to the Political Representative of the CinC?
"Tell you what, instead of regular combat troops, can you give me every single sniper team available across the US Armed Forces for about 3 months? We need to have the ROE changed so we can get rid of the insurgent contacts, too, so that their networks can be degraded and pulled up by regular units, both US and Iraqi. A bit better UAV coverage would help and some back-end coordination between units, but that should be pretty easy to do. Basically, I need the guys who can reach through walls and hurt someone and has the patience to do it right... lots of them working together. I guarantee low Civilian casualties."
The extremely befuddled look on the polrep's face tell you that you have just hit him upside the head with a 2x4, so you help him out.
"This is a fight of removing effectiveness and cohesion. To do that we are already isolating the insurgents and putting them into pockets to ID and scope out via INTEL. The faster way to do that is to get a pair of eyes that will always be watching them across all of Baghdad and give them time to do the best job they can until 'go-day'. All the Snipers will have picked their spots, deconflicted their fire zones, arranged for good patrols, set up their replacement schedules and become the eyes and ears of the entire setup, and the long arm that will reach out once the scoping is basically done. I need their eyes and patience, first, so the INTEL ops folks can figure it all out and set up the priority list. Then, on the go-day, it will be killing time. They will not know what hit them."
After Afghanistan and Iraq and other places that cannot be mentioned, you, as a Theater Commander *know* what this tool of warfare is and what it means. Stalingrad became a no-go because of the rubble and people hiding everywhere. They were not hiding from the tanks.
They were hiding from the Snipers.
And in a clean and undamaged city, the Sniper is King.
And with the version of the rifle introduced in Afghanistan, reaching through cinderblocks to hurt people is not a problem.
This would not end the insurgency, but it would make keeping them *out* of Baghdad a whole lot easier as the militants, their commanders, their suppliers... all of that goes. And anyone fool enough to not be in the recognized Iraqi or MNF Uniforms and carrying a weapon... will find a sudden end to their lives. A bitch to get going, probably take 3 weeks just for that alone... but once the observing is in place, and a few hits here and there to take out the few 'oddballs' and let people know they are being watched, that should do it. Stop daytime ops against personnel and let them think the night is safe, while we harvest INTEL. Exhausting for the Snipers, true. But it should a be a job they will enjoy after CNN...
"The only other thing is that whatever the Snipers need in the way of equipment, they GET. Nothing is spared from this, but I doubt they will need much. You want the violence of the TV screens gone, I can deliver, but only after something no one has ever witnessed before, anywhere."
'That's it?', the polrep asked.
"Yeah, some good Sharpshooters to hang around once the Snipers leave so that good eyes can still be had to make sure the insurgents don't get back in too easily. My regular forces can keep the peace pretty well after that with the few hot-headed instant radicals that still will pop up."
'You are planning something else, aren't you?', the polrep asked.
"Of course I am! You asked me about Baghdad, you don't have to know about the rest as the CinC will get this in a nice briefing book in a day or two."
The polrep shuddered. 'What about Congress?'
"This is war, son. The CinC wants something done and I am going to do it if he gives the go-ahead. Congress might think about getting me some of the other stuff I need for the long haul and stop trying to run a war."
28 December 2006
This analysis will be using the underlying work of Roger Stern's article released online at 26 DEC 2006 on The Iranian petroleum crisis. The article is released to Open Access before publication.
On of the misconceptions about the Middle East is that it is a region not only with lakes of oil, but regimes wishing to maximize the use of such lakes. These are misconceptions on two counts: 1) not all lakes are economically equal, and 2) most regimes are out to maximize income, not maximize production. These two things, taken as a basis for work and reasonable, based on the attitudes of the regimes involved, then let a closer examination of Iran and its oil reserves to be done. The article starts with an overview of the petroleum sector of Iran. Here the basic understanding is that some of what is produced goes for internal use, and the rest for export, thus a balance between production and consumption must be maintained for steady export. Now, no proper study of such a thing can be done without a colorful graph and they do provide a nice one in 3D, showing the total quantities of each. I, personally, would have preferred a line graph with production and then consumption overlayed with the difference between them being exports as it is more visually appealing and a better rendition of the data. Be that as it may, here it is:
What is seen from this, then, is that save for a drop during the war with Iraq, Iran has had a steady increase in production that has been plateauing since the late 1990's. There have been upticks over the last few years, but also notice that there are subsequent declines, this the article attributes to some better oil recovery techniques on older fields, opening of old oil rigs damaged in the Iraqi war, and not continuous increases in production or new production coming online.
If you are in charge of the Iranian regime, however, the greatest worry is that set of lines in gold which is domestic consumption. That has been on a continual, steady increase even *with* the war with Iraq and has not abated, year on year. As trendlines go, these point to a crossing at some point in the future if there is nothing done to either increase consumption or decrease demand. That center bar is exports and as consumption increases and production plateaus, exports decrease as a result. Being a part of OPEC, however, Iran has export quotas to meet and has been missing them for the last 18 months, which Mr. Stern points to with interest as the only other time there has been a shortfall was during the war with Iraq.
Now, to understand an oil based export economy, you have to understand the processes behind the extraction and refining of oil, just in overview. I will not try to make this a fully encompassing review of that, but to at least get a good sketch of the ideas involved. Yes it is lengthy, no it is not a thorough review of the actual process.
First off is that when one starts to drill for oil, you expect to come up with some dry wells. This is still more of an art than a science, and doing a good analysis on sub-surface geological structures, finding ones with oil, finding ones with oil that have some porous rock, and finding ones with oil that have porous rock that allows pumping requires knowledge, skill and experience in the actual geology involved. To do this one studies actual outcroppings if they appear at the surface as a very first hand thing to see what you are dealing with. As structures can extend thousands of miles, a first, actual look at a possible containment rock strata may occur in another Nation or even, with continental drift, another continent. With that in hand you can then head over to a lab, thin section the rock and start killing your eyes for hours on a microscope counting crystals and grains, looking at spaces and then determining the 3d structure of the rock involved and determining how porous it is.
Things like shale may have plenty of oil in them, but it is locked into the granular structure of the rock itself. If there is not overt pressure and heat to force the less dense oil from the rock, it will just sit there, so plenty of oil in an oil shale may be right near the surface, but your only option is to mine down to it. Some structures may have a great porosity and even have an oil shale or other oil bearing formation that is under them, with enough depth to cause the necessary pressure to let the oil move through it if the temperature is right. Typically a sandstone, but many other rock types can also fit this bill based on grain types, spacing and a host of other concerns. But, if that sandstone has multiple layers and one is relatively impervious to this movement, you will have a much lower entrapment of the oil than you would with a rock strata that had more uniform porosity.
Next up is a seismic survey of the area you suspect may have oil. This is done in the modern day mostly by 'shaker trucks' and going out and having them plunk down, shake a bit while you get the readings, then the truck raises, drives on a bit, plunks down again, shakes... almost all of this is done with GPS today, but back a few years ago you brought a survey team out first, put down lots of little flags and hoped a windstorm wouldn't take them all away. Then you throw all of that wonderful data into a computer with various software tools to get rid of noise, adjust incoming data waves based on rock density that is known and start to build up an idea of where the rock strata actually are. This, for a virgin field, can take a long time. What one likes to look for are domes or other formations that will act as a 'trap' for lighter oil and gas in a porous rock layer. So with the measurements of the depths of the layers you throw all of THAT into a computer and start doing your adjustments to remove surface elevation and get a real idea of what the subsurface looks like. In the old days that was sometime done with clay or sand and plaster and toothpicks and whatever else you could devise. Today a subsurface 3d modeling or graphing program will do that for you and let you twist and turn everything every which way.
Two years later and you are now at the point where you will dig your first test wells! Isn't this grand? If you have a suspected area with rock the right porosity, depth, pressure and so on, in an entrapment structure with known oil bearing strata beneath it, you can now actually drill a bore hole and not only get a core sample down to the expected depth of a well, but then put down other instruments to measure such things as density, fluids, and hydrocarbon emissions. Now, at this point once you finally get the core sample and start doing the data analysis you can find out a whole lot more, but the investment has just gone up to do this, too. You may get the core sample and find that the pressure has morphed the target layer to being semi-porous or even to being impenetrable. You may also find that you are not getting the exact same type of rock as you examined earlier, and find that it has changed its characteristics in that strata. Thus it may still be oil bearing, but the oil now adheres more to the granular structure rather than flow through the spaces due to changing in grain and space size. Do this at a few sites to get an idea of the actual strata changes and characteristics and then refine your calculations and do one or two more test drillings before you call in the big rigs.
At three or four years out you may *finally* analyze it all and realize that it 'looks like a reservoir' but the amount of pore space is so small that even modern steam technology isn't going to get a fair return on the investment. All the money spent by that point was for naught, though the company or Nation involved may file that for 'future use' when the technology gets better. But if everything has gone as expected, you may finally do the first real expensive work of getting a full rigging crew in and boring into the target area. This usually requires a more intense seismic survey, more subsurface mapping and so on.
You can find that even at this point, the well gets drilled, the core samples are spot on and you decide to fracture the pipe at the best calculated depth and you get *nothing*. Something just changed down there or you made a miscalculation or the oil bearing strata just isn't cooperating. Another hole can be done, but only for a really promising prospect, and most companies will do another 'just in case'. If all the folks working with you have done the best they can and nature has cooperated with you, then you can hope to get oil with a known and expected pumping rate. You have calculated the volumetric reserve space and now you have good predictions on just how long that field can produce at that rate. Large fields tend to get more wells drilled as the expected reserves go up in estimation.
The moment you begin pumping you begin the process of utilizing the reserve: you are taking oil and gas out of the reservoir. As the input of new oil into a reservoir is based on subsurface structures and conditions, it may prove to have somewhat greater reserves than expected. Or lesser. What is done is to give a minimum expected reserve size based on expected capacity and you go with that.
All of this gets shortened with known reserve areas, and, over time as more wells go in, a better idea of the entire field comes into view as more data populates the subsurface structure maps. Thus you get adjustments on expected reserve size even in fields that are well known and utilized.
Thus the main factors for starting up an operation are the upfront cost expenditures necessary to find the potential area, explore it, analyze it, do test wells, integrate that data and then actually put in the hard cash for a real well. That cost gets spread over the lifetime of the well itself and is a static cost onto which maintenance and overhead get added. But all of that gets added in to what actually makes it out of the system, which can be something rather less than what went into it.
Here the main obstacles are mostly physical: oil pipeline waste and leakage. Some problems also crop up with suspended sediments or with natural gas that was held in solution under pressure or with a high degree of brackish water mixed with the oil. Filtration, sorting and then piping that to a refinery will account for system loss. The natural gas, if the system is not set up for utilizing it, will be vented and flared off. When you go for oil, you also get natural gas as a result of it, because it, too, is a hydrocarbon. Brackish water, because of the pressures involved at depth, may be in suspension and then turn into steam or hot brine at the surface. Luckily it separates out pretty well and can be handled. Sediment is mostly handled through screens and this thing known as 'cleaning out the pipe'. Usually an automated, remotely operated vehicle, but often a man in a protective suit with high pressure hose/sand blaster/shovel/scoop/bags depending upon situation. Also, the entire affair will leak oil sooner or later and finding those holes and patching them or adjusting fittings is another headache. I got to hear about all of this in a seismic prospecting class so you don't have to!
Still, compared to the actual volumes and economic worth of the oil involved, this stuff is tiny in comparison, although the loss due to leaks and systemic inefficiencies (old equipment slowly breaking down and losing oil) is non-minuscule in the case of Iran. Most oil rich Nations don't let their equipment go to pot, and will hire foreigners to take care of it. You don't employ your own people because, if you did, they might get this silly notion that they could run it better than the Government could! Can't have that, now, can we?
So, from the Stern report we get the known depletion rate for Iran, as a whole, as 8% for the fields alone hich includes pipeline leakage and such, and an additional 2% due to domestic consumption, for a 10% decline in total exports (export decline rate). Mr. Stern cites 5-6% edr as a Global average, so 10% is indicative of something negative happening and, if that former oil minister he cites is correct and it is really on the order of 12%, then that amount left over for export is declining rapidly. Now most companies and Nations combat this by either opening up new wells, finding new ways to utilize their old wells, or seek to stem consumption. If the amount pumped goes up, year on year, then so long as it outpaces the increase in domestic use, there will be a continuous supply for export.
That said the cost to add to an existing field, as seen above, still has Marginal Cost to it, which must be calculated before figuring out if it is economical to do. That cost will be associated with the expected output and that which is then associated with the overall production rate so that an annual cost of investment can be determined. Yes, you plan on investment based on known reserves, some future exploration, and the amount of oil you want to export so as to keep ahead of domestic demand. While it is economics, it is *not* rocket science and has been done for decades if not a century or more for this and other industries. For Iran to keep its export amount steady, it must invest $2.7 to $3.2 billion/year in its petroleum infrastructure each and every year. This includes the amount necessary for simple infrastructure maintenance, which comes in around $1.6-1.9 billion/year.
Future demand and current and sustained capacity have assumptions built into them, and forecasting means that those assumptions have to be pretty close to what actually happens so you don't wind up with a disaster. For the last four years Iran has been investing enough to keep its current infrastructure going, but very little to upgrading and keeping up with additional production. Since Iran has only been investing $2.1 billion/year on average since 2004, it is seeing a significant shortfall on additional growth capability. If, however, they are expending more into growth, then infrastructure is getting shortchanged, and as they actually do have pipeline and refinery loss of petroleum, that is indicated.
Further, expected expansion on current fields is seen as optimistic and even if properly funded and put in place they will not come online until 2009-10 at earliest. And Iran's own ability has not been put to use since the 1978 revolution, so the one project that Iran is overseeing on its own has some question marks by it as to if it will be done right and economically. A major sticking point in this is one of the larger buyers of Iranian oil, Japan, holding Iran to its Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and *not* supplying it with the funds to actually start these new expansions. So even the fully functioning old oil platforms that are brought on line, and one doubts the ability of Iran to get them into fully operational condition based on pipeline and refinery losses, will only raise the plateau by a smidgen while slow and steady draining of existing reserves will start to deplete those reserves until actual, total production starts to fall. Remember, starting a project *now* means additional capacity in 4 or 5 years, not tomorrow.
To further complicate things, the regime in Iran has instituted a 'buyback' system for oil production so as to keep foreign investors from 'owning' the wells which has caused much grief as the traditional 'share of the goods' concept now requires a cross-payment system between the producer and supplier. What this means is that a complex series of offers and agreements gets yanked by politics at the whim of the regime. Any international problems it has with any Nation can instantly have offers withdrawn, marked up or replaced with a lesser offer. This wrecks havoc on forecasting and ensuring a steady supply of production and has led to companies and Nations, beyond Japan, not doing any investment in the Iranian infrastructure. This started in 1998 with international pressure and has gotten worse over time, which means that the pipeline and refinery problems that are being seen are not 'point source' but systemic: point sources are related to individual events and happenings, systemic are year-in and year-out unaddressed problems.
With the loss of foreign support and investment, then, comes a loss of foreign expertise, management and training in the petroleum industry. Since the revolution, Iran has not led a successful major expansion plan on its own and could very well be incapable of bringing such a project online. Without foreign support, the regime then needs to rely upon interior knowledge, and that is demonstrated as lacking by those self-same infrastructure problems. To get to the problems one needs the knowledge and skills that can be provided by those with expertise. If Iran had the expertise, they would *not* have the problems.
That has led to the lack of secondary methods for oil recovery from existing fields from operating effectively which is slowly increasing the depletion rate of those fields upwards on an annual basis. For oil, as a whole, this is a worrying concern as an inefficient utilization of relatively inexpensive methods now, will cause a resorting to even more expensive methods for recovery sooner rather than later.
On the natural gas side, Iran has a problem of subsidized domestic use of natural gas and committing to large, foreign export contracts. Because the domestic market does not need to pay a market price, domestic use is expanding at a far higher rate than expected, to the point where actually having enough natural gas to meet foreign contracts is called into question. While trying to bribe its home population and curry favor with Asia in natural gas exports, the regime has suddenly found itself in a bind with inefficient recovery techniques for natural gas. This is so tearing at the regime, itself, that it is now trying to decide if it can actually export ANY natural gas within five years, not to speak of meeting contracts on it. Topping all of this off is that the best way to get more oil from existing fields is to inject natural gas INTO them so as to change fluid levels and allow additional extraction. Thus, natural gas is already being torn between domestic demand and trying to meet foreign contracts and then is no longer available for petroleum field maintenance and secondary production.
For refined products, such as gasoline, Iran has been subsidizing those, also. Again, the domestic market is treated to sub-sustainment level pricing, which allows for gas to go at a set, low price. What that returns is increased and heavy demand for said gasoline which then starts to outstrip domestic production of it. Foreign gasoline is more expensive to the public, but less expensive than refining it domestically as that system is not efficient to do so. Yes, by encouraging use and not maintaining the refineries for gasoline, Iran may be reduced to buying foreign refined gasoline of its own crude oil! And that resulting sticker shock to the Iranian populace will be hard and heavy as they are paying 34 cents per gallon and the open market price is in the $1.30-$1.50 range without additives and such for meeting emission standards. A sudden rise in Iranian gas prices by four to six times current amounts will have a decidedly negative impact upon their domestic economy.
So, while there is a 'sea of oil' under Iran, the 'sea of cash' is heading directly into the pockets of the regime. After minimal outlay into maintenance and now none into future expansion, Iran has a decided problem, just on that *alone*. This is further compounded by running a regime and market so hostile to foreigners, that they will no longer invest in Iranian petroleum or natural gas production as there is no way that a guarantee of future production can be assured. As this has been going on for some time the actual pipeline and processing infrastructure has started to lose its knowledge and support base and run less and less efficiently over time. This is seen in actual loss of petroleum in refineries so that a marked 3-4% of all petroleum is actually LOST just from field to finished delivery while most other Nations achieve so close to 0% as not to be funny. As crude and refined petroleum are the lifeblood of Iran, it is willing to lose 3-4% of that which will not reach any market, anywhere as it is lost to waste and inefficiency and unrecoverable. It is *not* stolen or hidden or sequestered: it is produced and LOST.
The domestic marketing of natural gas and finished products, like gasoline, have increased demand for both substantially, far out of line with normal economic expansion. These internal subsidies no longer gain any bonus for the regime, save a modicum of bought 'good will' for providing the cheap goods. What that has done is further make home refining uneconomical and marginalize their own refineries to the point where they may no longer be used for refining. On the natural gas side, increased consumption, both for home use and for electricity production, are removing a disproportionate stream of natural gas to pure use. As there has been no substantial increase in natural gas production, promises on that to buy good will with foreign markets is now coming into question. And without a substantial amount of natural gas to revitalize older oil fields, those oil fields lose additional production and may have to resort to more expensive oil recovery techniques which will further drive down the actual profit made on it. By removing the natural gas stream to a rapidly expanding domestic economy, Iran may have no ability to meet foreign contracts or to maintain actual crude oil production.
What is being seen is that the export capability for Iran in both crude oil and natural gas is in danger by the regime, which has used oil profits to fund terrorism and buy weapons, instead of investing in their 'cash cow' first. As domestic natural gas production is dedicated more and more to domestic use, and that use expands rapidly due to subsidies, the current plateau of oil production will start to dwindle rapidly within a decade. And as that goes, so goes exports as they are the difference between domestic consumption and total supply. When those two lines get closer, exports dwindle and contracts are no longer met.
When does that happen?
From the beginning of the article it is noted that for 18 months Iran has not met its OPEC export quotas. That is one of the most basic of futures to be met: the agreement amongst Middle Eastern States to ensure world crude oil supply. Iran is failing that.
So when you hear that 'Iran may threaten to cut off its exports' it may not be due to ANY outside activity at all. They may have simply run out of oil to export.
And that will happen far before those two lines meet as when a system that is complex like oil refining begins to decay, it indicates that the most complex part of a very complex interlocking system is already going to hell. When that part of the system cannot be maintained properly, even at a LOSS, which is the case now, there is then a leading indicator that the less sophisticated parts of the system, like pipelines, pumping stations, well-head pumps, separation facilities and so on, are also being run inefficiently. The expertise needed to run those is in the same league, but more distributed as that needed to run the refineries. Those are now seen as not running up to capacity, either.
The explosions and missiles and weapons that you see causing harm in Lebanon and Iraq that are supplied by Iran are doing far more damage to Iran's petroleum infrastructure than they can ever do to Lebanon or Iraq. They may be going off elsewhere, but the damage being done is at home where it is not only not being fixed, but being actively disregarded.
If Iran announces that they will *not* be expecting to let any liquefied natural gas contracts of a substantial amount or will be stopping existing contracts, then a first and mighty indicator will be seen.
If Iran buys gasoline or any other finished petroleum goods en mass and announces refinery 'problems' then that, too will be an indicator.
And in the next five years if Iran announces that it will be 'shutting off its oil to the world', that means that it is no longer producing enough to sell and that it can barely cover internal needs.
When I first heard of this article and what it portends, the indicators were shocking to me. The blatant disregard of modern economics and basic prudence in this field by a Nation so heavily dependent upon it is beyond amazing. Iran is slowly unraveling no matter *what* the price of a barrel of crude oil actually IS, they are slowly closing the gap between production and consumption on both sides of the equation. Trying to get old, inefficient equipment on the old maritime oil platforms up and running will in no way meet this need and may even draw off further resources from maintaining the current infrastructure.
Exactly how close is the Iranian petroleum system from collapse?
It is a metastable system with a heavy change bias to it. Internal collapse between 2012-19 is certain with current domestic market needs increasing and actual oil field production declining. And like many systems in decay the half-life is very important, because it is usually the inflection point for catastrophe: it is the point where a ship sliding to its side will suddenly capsize. It is the spell of bad weather for a year or two that can change lush cropland into dustbowls.
A point of no return.
27 December 2006
It has been an interesting time chasing down Syrian WMD capability, to say the least! Starting from a short list, that expanded to cover chemical, biological and nuclear abilities, plus long range missile capabilities. From experts and intelligence experts to members of Congress to a dissident Syrian journalist who has first hand knowledge of the sites, I have been piecing this together bit by bit and coming to some very basic conclusions.
First, and most importantly, is that the phosphate deposits in Syria are a multi-part threat. Phosphates, of course, are used in agriculture for fertilizer and in the steel and glass-making businesses, along with standard chemical industry. Phosphate is one of the basic building blocks of life and a necessary element for life to continue. As such it also serves as the dual basis for the chemical and biological weapons development going on in Syria. The prime mover in this is that Syria has not signed on to the Chemical Weapon's Convention and feels free to develop such weapons. On the biological weapons side, things are a bit more nebulous: even though a treaty signatory, Syria has been putting together a multi-use pharmaceutical industry which would also serve as the basis for a bioweapons industry.
A number of pharmaceutical sites that had been constructed, however, have been abandoned, some while only partially complete. While Syria is a relatively poor Nation, starting large industrial capability and then not following through on same either points to extremely poor internal planning or to deliberate deception. Syria does aim to become a net exporter of finished pharmaceuticals, and that has been their state goal for some years. That said the entire suite of capability necessary for that in the way of equipment is 'dual use' with the bioweapons manufacturing area. Just how much equipment was pre-purchased for these now defunct factories and where such equipment would get to is speculation at best, at this point.
On the chemical weapons side, however, there is no doubt of Syrian manufacture of same, especially VX nerve gas and Sarin. These are both dependent upon the phosphate industry and the steep ramping up of that industry does not bode well for those trying to limit Syrian manufacture of chemical weapons.
The third part of the phosphate WMD complex is the uranium that is chemically stored as part of the structure of the phosphate, itself. While this is only measured in parts per million (milligram per kilogram), Syria has a production capability at just one ore mining area of 2.65 Mt per year. Other, lesser deposits, are being mined: for example the 0.5 Mt per year in the Charkiet deposit. The production of enriched phosphate ore via processing yields 'yellowcake', which Saddam was looking for in Niger in 1998-99, as it is the first step towards getting more highly enriched uranium via further processing.
This plant has a rail siding running to the main processing house and is thusly connected directly into the railroad system of Syria. Additionally, tractor-trailer rigs are evident in the imagery, including tanker trucks, so this site appears to have large-scale need of transport for bulk, processed phosphate ore.
Thus with finishing plants elsewhere Syria can concentrate the uranium and segregate the 'yellowcake' as part of the production cycle and continue on with phosphate processing to other ends, all in the comfort and safety of factories dedicated to civilian phosphate production. The most worrying part of this is the facility purchased from Sweden constructed by MEAB for such work that is definitely in the 'triple use' category for not only civilian products, but uranium separation and phosphate production for chem/bio weapons. Now that company has provided exactly ONE photograph of the plant, which is heavily tinted and such, but the layout of it is clear.
This plant has been variously cited by Congress, International Arms Control Agencies and assorted press accounts as being: co-located with the Homs oil refinery, adjacent to the refinery, underground, or 'nearby' the refinery. The problem with the oil refinery, itself, is that it lacks one resource that would greatly help processing phosphatic chemistry: water. It is very possible to pipe water in, but for the huge amount that Syria aims to process a more ready supply would seem necessary. Thus the 'nearby' is about 7 km south of the refinery on the shores of Katina Lake, something that no source has bothered to tell us about.
Note the rail line curving off to the NorthEast of Katina and into the plant itself and the sidings inside the plant to receive rail shipments.
Here is the angle view of the plant, to get some perspective and direction similar to that of the photograph:
And then the top down view for planar review:
This is the plant that the Swedes feel 'snookered' about as they thought it was going to be going for the separation of uranium for purification of the phosphate, not to separate it for 'yellowcake' production. Such are the vicissitudes of chemistry and WMD production. I go over most of this in my post on Homs and Palmyra. That covers the basics of where the foundation of the Syrian WMD program is, and how it works. Out of this, beyond the huge tonnage of phosphate that is left over, the amount of U-235 that becomes available in 'yellowcake' form is that for about 5-6 nuclear devices of the AQ Khan design in Pakistan. That is mentioned as Iran had deep ties in that web by being a purchasing agent and shipper for such things as the Mitutoyo nuclear separators.
From here is a jog into the chemical and, most likely, biological weapons component that Syria has going and they have married that up with their SCUD missile production area to the SouthEast of Aleppo at Al Safira, which is at the bottom right of this imagery snap.
For anyone serious about getting good INTEL on this site, the place to head to is GlobalSecurity.org as they have a raft of imagery and analysis on it. So a look at that is now in order and first up is the large overview of the CW and Missile combined facility.
The layout of this place is pretty easy and spotting it in Google Earth is similarly so as it is on a 'U' shaped ridge or hilltop.
Because it is so distinctive it is easy to find. One of the great features of Google Earth is the ability to put in an overlay and fit it, within reason, to the actual imagery. I covered how to do that with this post on the Tell Hamoukar archaeological site, and the lessons learned for that are equally applicable to imagery on imagery. And that overlay looks like this
The lovely benefit of having someone else having done the work for you! Now, one may peruse the GlobalSecurity folks for the full run-down on this site, and the test firing range and capabilities and chemical complex and all the lovely odds and ends there. The Syrians have done a wonderful job of making this a fully integrated and operational area for the production of SCUDs and chemical weapon's warheads. A sort of 'one-stop shop' of mass destruction at a distance.
What comes next is a bit of imagery analysis with Google Earth, so be patient, it is important.
One of the foundational problems of finding buried sites is that they are, well, buried. However, when moving large objects, say missiles, in and out of an underground facility one must have these things known as 'surface entrances'. Now Batman went through a good deal of trouble to hide the entrance to the Batcave and, being a wealthy individual, could afford to do so. Syria, lacking temperate vegetation and easy money has to make do with something a bit less than that, plus it needs to move SCUDs with their TEL carriers into and out of their bunkers. Global security has this image, which I will overlay and then zoom in:
Notice how, when tilted, the tunnel entrance is definitely conforming to the flat surfaces? That is indicative of a sheer face and these entrances conform to those sheer faces. That is the underlying elevation information of Google Earth with the imagery draped on it. Together features such as this become immediately obvious, when from the overhead view you see what appears to be a shadow with nothing to cast it. A bit further on the tilt and the presence is obvious.
Clearly these are entrances into a hillside. That little bit of work will come in handy as the next bit is not so clearly seen until you get there.
The senior journalist, Nizar Nayouf, apparently got a bit too close to a few things while he was in Syria and decided to defect from Syria so as to retain his life. The basic story is here, but the important thing is that beyond the Katina site near Homs and the al-Safira site near Aleppo, he lists three other places where WMD research, production and storage are going on. I covered my search for those sites in this post on finding the mentioned, but not pointed out. One site has very poor imagery in Google Earth and, thus, no real analysis can be done there. A second site sits in the middle of a weapons testing complex that sprawls all over the place, so that is relatively easy to spot. However, the third place near Tal Snan is mentioned as an underground facility.
Yes, in that coloful blobfield is a military base AND an underground weapon's complex! The base was easy to find and the complex took a bit of figuring out. But, with the help of the terrain draping effect it becomes readily apparent.
So first glance:
There is definitely an underground complex here with doors big enough to take in SCUDs. And since nothing comparable gets built like this in Syria, it can only be the place the journalist cited. Without better INTEL, but having this as part of an overall confirmation of structure type and placement, the burden of doubt shifts from the reporter to those trying to nay-say the place. It exists, it has entrances into a hillside, is placed where it was claimed to be and does, indeed, look like something very similar to al-Safira in layout, but on a larger scale.
From here it is to the Furqlus Depot, as cited at NTI.org. That was described as a chemical munitions storage area by the Defense Intelligence Agency and being some 40 km SE of Homs. So back to Homs and I will add in a nice marker using the measurement tool and then zoom into the depot itself.
Of note is the different dates on imagery and the tonal contrasts between them. So long as there is continuity between features, however, that should not deter one from getting a good, hard look at places. Now for the close-up.
There it is in all of its glory! Another user has put in some markers for SAM sites in the base. The controlled access point on the SouthWest and general layout of this place is indicative of a major base, as was seen on my post on the not pointed out and *that* base. Similarly, this one has that control point to it. But one thing is extremely telling and I will zoom up for a good, close look on it.
Each of those oblong objects is a tractor trailer rig, with the trailer being some 25m long. These are the Transport Erector Launchers for SCUDs. The central building is obviously some central storage facility for these devices, either whole or in-part.
Now for the fun, or lack thereof, of finding the Khan Abu Shamat depot. It is supposed to be 20km due East of Dumayr and heading over there I will place down another measurement line.
Again, not a site wonderful to behold. That said the Google Earth community members had a person or two a bit interested in this and they have already taken a look here and dropped off the SCUD Alley marker.
Unseen nearby is one of the phosphate markers that I dropped way back when for scoping that out and it is, indeed, for the Dumeir Deposit, which extends about 50 km to the NNE along this set of ridges. But the controlled entrance, again marking this as a primarily military site, but dual use. The 'dual use' is that it is also for phosphate mining, thus allowing for mining into the hillside, then stabilizing that cut and using it for military storage. Here, again, a tilt will clearly show the storage areas for SCUDs.
The actual settlement, can't really call it a town, of Khan Abu Shamat lies on the other side of the ridgeline to the south. There are large and small phosphate mining areas all through this area, but this central one is definitely not only for mining, but for military storage as one does not put permanent hillside entrances into a hill when the majority of mining is open surface. With all of that said, the mining here appears to be a distant thing of the past and the more active areas on the other side of the ridgeline. So perhaps only 'dual use' for general locale, only.
There are still many more sites on the long list of places to find, some, like al-Bayda, will wait until better imagery or more ground photos can be found. Stuff like oil refineries, which are obvious and easy to spot, I am not including, save to give a quick 'once over' to ensure that nothing strange is going on there. Smaller facilities for research in cities are a difficult thing to find without an actual address or geo-coordinates or, rarest of all, a photo of it can be found. Thus they are also put on hold until such can be found. And the eastern part of Syria, save for one city and a few border strips, are still pretty much 'blobography' that requires good and solid backup information to identify things beyond towns and fields and such.
So I hope you have enjoyed your tour.
Oh, and one other thing: any or all of the storage sites could have easily hidden a few truckloads of stuff from Saddam's WMD industry. Syria may have actually displaced some of its own material to the Sudan to do this. And the sprawling nature of the Khan Abu Shamat site would easily and quickly lend itself to hiding such materials by the truckload. If it can take a TEL with SCUD, then a flatbed trailer is no problem at all.
25 December 2006
Wouldn't it be wonderful if we all had the support of the rich? I mean, lets face it, personal valet service, tutoring for children, no worries about health care or a mortgage or about such minor things as traffic tickets. Such a splendiferous world to have people at your beck and call at all hours for all things so that you need never worry about actually *living* a life and, instead, can look forward to time in Martha's Vineyard or that ski vacation in the Alps or globetrotting over to some poor, third world Nation to bemoan their plight. Yes, it would be wonderful to be rich... and that is what Hillary Clinton believes in her message of woman running to be First Mom! Instead of hand-picked servants, however, she realizes that We, the People to be Mommied at, deserve something different.
Government servants and service.
Her concept of Health Care was something that covered everyone, and was bought and paid for by the Government... which would have to grow in a huge way, employ tens of thousands of people currently on the private rolls and then offer us Government overhead and guarantees of Government efficiency that is the envy of every third world dictatorship in the world. Because, you know, 'It takes a Village to raise a child'. Yes, and it takes a Government bureaucrat to require you to fill out forms in triplicate, get everything signed and cross-checked, schedule you for treatment, follow-up your treatment, get feedback on your treatment, ensure that just the right drugs in just the right dosage is prescribed to you... and most likely phone you when it is time for you to actually TAKE your medications, too. Because that also 'takes a Village'. To nag you to death.
If you have ever been in line at your State DMV, filling out forms and then waiting in the waiting area with tens of other people, you can start to see where Government *anything* heads: to the anonymization of you as an individual so that everyone gets treated equally. And if THEY happen to get the paperwork wrong and you get scheduled or billed for something that they messed up on, then you get to go BACK in line to start it all over and maybe, just maybe, this time they will get it right. I had that little problem with a hybrid vehicle getting registered, somehow, as a gasoline only vehicle. Driving the vehicle itself up to an individual at the DMV was NOT enough! No, I had to go back through my dealer, to the company which is overseas, to that production plant and get the actual real record that this VIN is, indeed, that of a hybrid vehicle.
Now imagine what you would go through if you got a wrong pacemaker. Or a misfiled surgery type so that you woke up without a swath of your intestines when it was your thyroids that needed to be dealt with. Yes, you would go back in line, fill out forms, go through procedures, probably get some sort of a hearing and then, if you are very lucky, you will get the needed surgery done. Because it 'takes a Village to run a Government Program'.
Outside of the very few things Government is actually necessary for, I have problems citing instances where it runs efficiently, courteously and immediately addresses problems. Love Canal, that wonderful 'Superfund Site' is STILL fenced off and unsafe to live in after being 'treated' to Federal Standards. The US Army Corps of Engineers is asked to build flood protection around sinking land! It is true! That land is the City of New Orleans, and it is sinking and local bureaucrats do not want to address the long term instability of the ground, which nothing that mankind has invented will solve, but, instead, shore up the city and create NEW water projects that make the entire system LESS stable! Yes, that should really 'take a Village' to figure out.
But, apparently, putting Health Care on par with, say, the IRS is good enough for Hillary Clinton. Not that they have ever been noted for their kindly nature, outgoing attitude or customer service. And, if we are lucky, we will get something that puts a pitiful fraction of its budget to actually handling emergencies and then loads up the rest of its budget with all sorts of wonderful programs that will be 'for the good of everyone'. Perhaps that will lead us to where the Dept. of Agriculture has gotten so that Doctors can get paid NOT to go to work and take extra time off! Yes, that would be so very 'progressive' of them and looking out for 'the health care worker'. Perhaps they would all take the month of August off and let thousands of elderly and sick die of the heat. And the Dept. of Agriculture does have a portion of its actual budget to go out to those farmers that have been struck by disaster: it is the smallest and nearly invisible part of its budget as the rest goes to such 'good idea programs' and handouts to Big Agriculture.
To get an idea of what Mrs. Clinton sees as her 'solution' to health care, here is an excerpt from her 2000 debate with Rick Lazio for the NY Senate seat, Tim Russert is moderating:
RUSSERT:Not only was the system a 'Hillarycare' but it was a Nannystate approach from the top-down, because of the assumption that Government will know best. What one becomes, instead of an empowered Citizen exercising Your Rights is a supplicant to a bureaucratic State. And because Mrs. Clinton likes this idea so much, she wants even more of it! She clearly said as much in the Democratic National Convention on 27 AUG 1996:
Mrs. Clinton, you have no voting record as such. People, in order to determine how you will behave as a legislator, look to your principle policy initiative: health care. I want to ask you a couple questions about that.
In 1993-94 you proposed a health care bill that was very controversial in this state. The man that you want to replace, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, had this to say and I'll show you on your monitor and I'll show our voters: ``The administration's solution was rationing. Cut the number of doctors by a quarter, specialists by a half.'' And he went on to say ``teaching hospitals would be at risk. The finance committee passed a bill in `94 to provide financing for the medical schools and the teaching hospitals. The Clinton administration rejected the committee bill.''
Why did you propose cutting the number of doctors by 25 percent, the number of specialists by 50 percent?
Well Tim, let me start by saying that I'm delighted to be here this evening with you and with Bob and Scott and the audience. And I really appreciate this opportunity to talk about the important issues in this race facing New York and our country.
You know, in 1993 and 1994 we did attempt to reform our health care system to provide universal health care coverage. Now as everyone knows, that was not successful. But we learned a lot and I in particular learned a lot about what we can do step by step to try to reach the goal of providing quality, affordable health care.
And here in New York there isn't any more important part of the health care system than the teaching hospitals, which are really the crown jewels of the health care system. We did propose a funding stream that would've provided additional funds to the hospitals. But we still have not done enough six, seven years later. Senator Moynihan is absolutely right to propose a piece of legislation that would guarantee that our teaching hospitals will be funded to perform the functions that they do which can not be performed within the market at a profit, namely, training our doctors and nurses and providing health care for the sickest of the sick and doing the research we all benefit from.
You know, when we made a proposal, Tim, it was to be a starting point, a basis for argument and compromise within the legislative process. But I've always been committed to ensuring that we have the specialty care that's needed and particularly, that we support our teaching hospitals.
When the 57 teaching hospitals and the 12 medical schools in the state with the Democratic governor, Democratic Senator say the bill would have been devastating to New York health care when you were not a New Yorker. Will you now change your view that you are a New Yorker?
Well, I wanted to emphasize that I believed in teaching hospitals then. I did have a piece in the legislation, as I recall, that would have provided funding for the teaching hospitals. And I have supported Senator Moynihan's plan, which is a plan that would provide what's called all payers payments for our teaching hospitals that would guarantee that the places that do the work that all of us rely on for the quality of our health care system will be given the funding that they needed. And I supported that in a different form. But I am fully committed to it now.
Mr. Lazio, your response.
You know, a New Yorker would never have made that proposal. In New York we say you've got to tell it like it is. And the way it is is that Mrs. Clinton has had two opportunities - two opportunities to make policy: One on health care and one on education. And on health care it was an unmitigated disaster. Even the people in her own party ran away from it. And worse still, it would have been a disaster for New York. It would have led to health care rationing. It would have destroyed teaching hospitals. It would have led to all types of unintended consequences, perhaps. But the bottom line is it would have been terrible for New York. But it didn't stop just there. Mrs. Clinton also stood silently by when the president exercised his only line item veto - to hurt Medicaid going to New York. And that's the true picture in this case.
But we are all responsible for ensuring that children are raised in a nation that doesn't just talk about family values, but acts in ways that values families. Just think - as Christopher Reeve so eloquently reminded us last night, we are all part of one family - the American family. And each one of us has value. Each child who comes into this world should feel special - every boy and every girl.Ah, yes, the wonderful Socialist idea that since Everyone is Responsible for Society, then Society via its Government must be made Responsible for everything. From that attitude one finds one's Rights going with those Responsibilities, the foremost of which is personal decisions on how to run one's life and oversee and have recourse upon those decisions. We can already see that the idea of *mandating* good ideas suddenly makes them a burden to those that need to carry out such mandates. The 'American Family' apparently has some crotchety elders sliding hands into the pocketbooks of the working youngsters, the youngsters too busy to take care of the grandchildren and they are going to have to be looked after by the bureaucrats of the State to ensure that they get a nice, State mandated upbringing. And then, to help out folks, why lets make sure that *everyone* gets nursing care if they fit some pre-determined set of prerequisites and assume that all problems hit all individuals equally. To help 'parents meet their responsibilities' requires Government oversight and funding for a huge bureaucracy or the impoverishment of those institutions trying to meet unfunded mandates which put overhead on the system.
But today, too many new mothers are asked to get up and get out after 24 hours, and that is just not enough time for many new mothers and babies. That's why the president is right to support a bill that would prohibit the practice of forcing mothers and babies to leave the hospital in less than 48 hours.
That's also why more hospitals ought to install 24-hour hotlines to answer questions once new mothers and fathers get home. That's why home nurses can make such a difference to parents who may not have grandparents or aunts and uncles around to help. We have to do whatever it takes to help parents meet their responsibilities at home and at work. The very first piece of legislation that my husband signed into law had been vetoed twice - the Family and Medical Leave Law.
And all of this will be assured by the omnipresent, every needful health care providers that will just come crawling out of the woodwork or over the border to meet this wonderful new need! Yes, you will always have a personal staff, on call, at all times for your health care needs... and find it as efficient and capable as the IRS and as spendthrift as the Dept. of Agriculture. Perhaps we can put the FBI in charge of database integration! They only failed to do that TWICE across their computer systems and finally gave up and just bought PCs and put off an integrated system until another day. While she does point to the FMLA as a success, it is one of those 'on the fringes' proposals that most workers in good jobs could have gotten time off or adjusted work schedule for in any event. The economic impact has been trivial because it was already being done on a person-to-person basis in businesses, not needing a Government mandate over it.
Now, as Mrs. Clinton sees the Federal Government as the best place for placing responsibility for health care, she also wants to make it the best place for placing the responsibility for education. And in her debate with Mr. Lazio, this is what her education plan is, and in the opening she is asking if any of the members of the NAACP who put up the question are present:
CLINTON:Here again, it is the Nannystate of Hillary Clinton as seen in her conception of things. As schooling is everyone's responsibility, let us make it no one's responsibility and leave it up to the bureaucrats. Even in 2000 the idea of a 'wireless network' was not out of the question for schools too old for traditional wiring and would lead to a somewhat more adaptable, if slower, network overall. And as the wireless nodes can be cheaply upgraded to newer technology, along with low cost receivers for the computers, you suddenly have an upgradeable, adaptable network that can be used in older facilities without the expense of rewiring. But, if Mrs. Clinton put bureaucrats in charge, it would be: one size fits all, but fits none well. Wiring is neither the best nor the cheapest thing to do for all situations and putting in a copper system *today* may require pulling it out in a few years for a fiber optic system. That is not that much of an overhead for newer facilities with wiring conduits and such, but historical older buildings are not amenable to that without tons of forms and procedures to ensure it is done without damaging the building itself or making it unsafe. So, why stick with one concept when multiple different ways that can be decided at the local level can do just as well?
I'd love to just have them maybe raise a hand so I can see who's asking the question. Thank you.
I have a plan for education that builds on what needs to be done in the public school system. You know, I've now visited schools throughout the state and some of them are among the finest in the world that you could find anywhere. But others are overcrowded, under-resourced, don't have the certified, qualified teaching staff that they need, and we're not doing the job that's required to give our children the kind of education that the 21st century demands. That's why I put forth a plan that I and the Senate would do to try to get the teachers that we need, to recruit and train them and to provide the funds that are required for modernizing our schools, as well as setting high standards, making them safe from violence, doing what is needed to give our children the kind of warm and supportive atmosphere that every young child needs.
Now, I do not support vouchers. And the reason I don't is because I don't think we can afford to siphon dollars away from our underfunded public schools. You know, when we go into a school that I do all the time, that's built for a thousand, as I was in - in Queens not so long ago, where there are twice as many children, that's work for the public school system to be done.
I was at the Black Rock Academy here in Buffalo a few months ago, a wonderful old school but it's so old they can't figure out how to wire it for computers. So those children don't have access to what's needed.
I'd like us to do what we know works: smaller class size, discipline, qualified teachers, high standards. Let's do what we know works and not give up on public education.
Sure. I unveiled a strong education plan to address the needs of New York. I said that we should begin to test teachers but we should also try to attract and retain the very best, that we should offer scholarships to teachers, to students who finish in the top 10 percent of their class, with a need to go into science and math. I've said that we should help provide more scholarships for our young people because I know how difficult it is to afford to pay to go to college. But I also believe that it's immoral to ask a child to go to a school where they can't learn or where they're not safe. You know, Vice President Al Gore recently said, If I was in one of those failing school districts and I was a poor parent, I'd want to have some help too. I'd want a voucher too. So Al Gore believes it and according to the Hunter College poll that just came out, 80 percent of African-American and Hispanic parents feel that they need it. Why should we trap poor kids in failing schools simply because the teachers unions won't agree with it?
Would you take money from public schools in order to do that?
Absolutely not. As a matter of fact, in my education plan, I create a new funding stream for what I call opportunity scholarships. I reserve the vast amount of money for public schools. I'm a public school graduate. My two little girls are going to second and third grade in New York public schools Our first responsibility is the public school system. But we need to address the over 100 failing schools in New York.
And, while on that, reducing class size is not necessarily a component of the number of teachers, either. If more efficient teaching methods that can reduce in-class time can be found, then by cycling students at a faster rate through classes would effectively reduce class size. But *that* gets thrown out if there is a huge bureaucracy over the school system so as to prevent it from advancing into this wonderful, modern age of electronics. This is a problem that we *already* have in this Nation and putting yet another layer of bureaucracy on top of the others and requiring them all to interact will further stultify any chance at change or modernization.
The main reason that the Agencies in charge of looking after Homeland Security and protecting the Nation have not gotten much of anywhere is that a brand new inter-Agency coordinating bureaucracy for a large portion of it is standing up its brand new bureaucratic empire: the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. All of the problems between the Agencies for passing INTEL to each other now have yet another bureaucratic layer to go through and it must justify its existence by putting in new barriers, new forms, new councils and lots and lots and lots of new meetings for everyone to attend. Lets do THAT to Education, why don't we?
One thing that is to be noted, however, is that while the Clintons did not trust Chelsea to the Public Schools in DC, Mr. Lazio DID trust his children to the Public Schools in New York. That, itself, is an interesting statement on the faith and support that Mrs. Clinton puts into the Public School systems: None. Mind you, Chelsea would *still* have had tutors if she needed them AND Secret Service protection, so worries about her *not* getting supported to her greatest ability was never in doubt. Even with that, the Clintons chose a private school and eschewed the schools in the City that is overseen by Congress. The DC schools should be the showcase of the Congress, and, instead, it is something that gets brushed aside as 'local politics' when it is Congress that has final say over the 'local politics'.
Then again, it is not surprising that Sen. Clinton has such a dim view of public education as her statement on that was incredibly insulting and one of her many controversies that she has self-inflicted. In this one it was before the US Chamber of Commerce (Source: CBS News via AP) where she stated:
After telling an audience that young people today "think work is a four-letter word," Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton said she apologized to her daughter.She then got a tart phone call from her daughter who informed her that young people did, indeed, work very hard to get ahead and achieve things. So, to try and mollify things she decided that, yes, the Federal Government should step in and mandate loan repayment by students:
"I said, 'I'm sorry, I didn't mean to convey the impression that you don't work hard,'" Clinton said Sunday in a commencement address at Long Island University. "I just want to set the bar high, because we are in a competition for the future."
Clinton spoke to more than 2,000 graduates days after she criticized young people at a gathering of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington. In those remarks, she said young people have a sense of entitlement after growing up in a "culture that has a premium on instant gratification."
New York's junior senator, who is up for re-election this year, also told the graduates she plans to introduce a bill that would help college students manage and repay their loans. The proposal would limit loan payments to a certain percentage of their incomes, she said.So, here is the thing: students can do this thing known as 'renegotiate loans' or bundle a loan into a better loan package or, if they really want to get ahead, pay it off EARLY. Yes, believe it or not, that is something that one can do by just paying more against the principle each month and find that the overall term of the loan decreases. Amazing, isn't it? This little thing known as 'freedom'. And yet Sen. Clinton prefers to mandate set amounts so that those youngsters who really don't know very much will not get that freedom to choose... yes, by 22 they are woefully unprepared for the real world, don't you know? By that point you still are just nor ready to be part of 'the Village' and *still* need to leave decisions up to those running the place.
But then letting Government make choices is what Sen. Clinton is all about, especially in schooling. Here is a bit from 22 FEB 2006 (Newsday.com with h/t to Michelle Malkin and SpunkyHomeSchool)in the Bronx when she talks about school vouchers:
CLINTON: Suppose that you were meeting today to decide who got the vouchers. First parent comes and says 'I want to send my daughter to St. Peter's Roman Catholic School' and you say 'Great, wonderful school, here's your voucher. Next parent who comes says, 'I want to send, you know, my child to the Jewish Day School. Great here's your voucher! Next parent who comes says, "I want to send my child to the private school that I've already dreamed of sending my child to.' Fine. Here's your voucher.Hopefully not you or any bureaucrat, Sen. Clinton.
Next parent who comes says, 'I want to send my child to the school of the Church of the White Supremacist.' You say, 'Wait a minute. You can't send...we're not giving a voucher for that.' And the parent says, 'Well, the way that I read Genesis, Cain was marked, therefore I believe in white supremacy. And therefore, you gave it to a Catholic parent, you gave it to a Jewish parent, gave it to a secular private parent. Under the Constitution, you can't discriminate against me.'
Suppose the next parent comes and says 'I want to send my child to the School of...the Jihad.' Wait a minute! We're not going to send a child with taxpayers dollars to the School of Jihad. 'Well, you gave it to the Catholics, gave it to the Jews, gave it to the private secular people. You're gonna tell me I can't? I'm a taxpayer. Under the Constitution.'
Now, tell me how we're going to make those choices.
As the ones I came to this by already presented, money is ALREADY going to ideological based schooling, which happens to be leftist, elitist and anti-democratic. And even worse is that in California there is Racist schooling that teaches racial separation that IS being funded by the State, which is getting the ire of a few folks out there, including State Sen. George Runner. Why does Senator Clinton NOT speak up about that? Or are 'some races better than others' when it comes to teaching racial segregation, bias and hatred? Perhaps it also 'takes a Village' to promulgate hatred, bias, and racial division.
Come to think of it, all that money towards education 'reform' and to making a Cabinet Level Office for Education hasn't changed the rate that American children read since that dreaded year of 1958. For all of the billions upon billions of taxpayer dollars sent to 'improve' the system and 'fix' the system, the system remains exactly, squarely where it was for that statistic and many others. Of course one could always just tie payments in proportion to performance, but that, apparently, requires that schools and those who teach actually rework how they teach and find better ways of doing so in search of reward for that. Yes, all those wonderful ideas of making it 'the problem of the Nation' has not *solved the problem*. We have had boatloads of 'experts' that haven't gotten it right for so long that we have long passed the 'Village' quantity and are heading towards 'Good Sized Town'. I am sure Sen. Clinton would love to see a full Metropolis of Experts, figuring out how to chisel more money from Americans and *still* not fix the problem.
So has anyone ever met a Mom like this? One that constantly tells you what you should be doing in life, nagging at you about everything, decrying the lack of initiative the 'younger generation' has, telling others what they should be doing with their lives, and wanting to leave everything up to 'experts' who haven't gotten it right for decades?
One so set in her ways that she cannot conceive of actually letting go of power. Continually ragging on people for their faults, while not admitting to any of her own...
One so dead-set in her tracks that all you ever get from her is biased in an attempt to sway you to 'her way of thinking' which is to say 'the right way of thinking'. And her way is so divorced from the actual world that it has little in the way of ties to it.
I actually have met moms like this, and I do not want one of THOSE to be 'First Mom'.
And I have seen just the kind of Village that this requires: where no one has names, only numbers and are seen as just 'units of society'.
No.6 (addressing the crowd during a campaign rally): “Unlike me, many of you have accepted the situation of your imprisonment, and will die here like rotten cabbages.”