The first and lead-in to my reviews is: Force structure, grand strategy and forcing the issue.
While not an explicit review, my analysis of why Constabulary Forces are not in the cards for America is here: On re-making the world and why the US doesn't do such things.
My thoughts on Pt. 1 of the series of interviews is here.
The numbering reflects the pre-series lead-in and then follows Mr. Hewitt's numbering designation. At some point I will need to do a re-edit on the previous article and reflect that.
Unlike my thoughts on Pt. 1, I will do a bit more of a glossy look at some of the issues involved in Pt. 2. This is done because this interview is a higher level discussion of military analysis for procurement via threat assessment. Thus large scale topics get involved and are done in a overview fashion. So, with a little bit of luck this will *not* be my typical, lengthy rejoinder.
Thematically, and not in the order presented, the very highest level being addressed by Mr. Barnett as he lays them out:
Tier I : The International System of States
Tier II: Individual Nation States
Tier III: Individuals
In looking at this analysis I am struck by the unmentioned, unviewed and thus, inherently dangerous concept that is NOT addressed by this. This is the interstitial fluid between these things that work across all levels of this and at an undefined level *to* this schema. What that is are the International and Transnational organizations: businesses, charities, Non-Governmental Organizations, monetary systems, trade organizations, criminal organizations and terrorist organizations.
The traditional argument is that these are composed of individuals that reside within States which can be addressed by the use of diplomatic means via State to State work and addressed. What this does, however, is leave ecological 'niches' for uncontrolled expansion of organizations by using those Nations that are not part of a full suite of Treaties and agreements to then shift resources, personnel and power via those means that are not fully or even partially covered by State to State Treaties and agreements.
An example of this is the uncontrolled monetary transfer networks in the Middle East. The Hawala system, which grew up as an indigenous part of local cultures to meet localized social needs. By using this system of trusted intermediaries that had no oversight over monetary transfers or no reason to keep exacting records of them, criminal organizations, terrorist organizations and businesses have been able to use these systems to shift funds outside the standard banking system in an unaccountable manner. After 9/11 many States regulated or outlawed such things, but the fact that many did *not* and that these indigenous systems grew up without National oversight indicates the ease with which they can re-create their infrastructures. Here State to State treaties and agreements are circumvented not only by non-agreeing States but for the ubiquity of need and the fear of governments in those regions of the world and the necessity of paying bribes or other fees via *standard channels*. As with cigarette taxation in the US driving smuggling operations for tax-free items, so the Hawala system grew up to present the least overhead and fully reliable system of economic interchange outside of governmental control.
This system type grows up in any Nation that has the following: authoritarian government, use of bribery or coercion to allow transactions, high inflation, untrustworthy banking operations. Similar networks in SE Asia, Latin America and Africa allow for the movement of small funds in numerous transactions to be filtered through these inter-locking systems with very low overhead to them. While International Banking typically has little to no overhead for transactions, the necessity of minimum account size, annual fees and other overhead make them burdensome to individuals and small organizations. Thus *any* individual can step up to one of these establishments, pay a minimal transfer fee, specify the destination and get assurances of its arrival. Bad actors get ratted out for theft and the lowest level remains relatively *clean*. That said, criminal and terrorist organizations use these things to launder money globally, actually make money through temporary investment of transit cash and, in general, sustain global operations through these means.
If Nation States could clean up this system it would have already happened.
It cannot happen due to the ubiquity of need and the low cost to get connected to the system and low overhead to run it. Here Moore's Law outruns International Law by driving the means for entering such a system downwards, and speeding up rates of transactions. Further, slow build-ups of funds or cross-network large cash dissemination, make the ability to track such transfers difficult if not impossible. Here a global flexing of money can *instantly* concentrate for large item procurement in an untraceable manner.
An example of how this works was demonstrated by Overstock.com as seen in this article at its investors area. After the Afghanistan conflict ended, Overstock sent its agent to Afghanistan to purchase hand made crafts wich sell well in the international market. By hiring one woman in Afghanistan, Neelab Kanishka, and giving her direct spending authority for goods, she traveled all over buying items and then putting in requests for good sellers. In 2004 Overstock.com became the largest private employer in Afghanistan by using the similar concept of central point distribution of funds attached to a global cash system. While this was the *normal* global monetary system, anyone as part of the Hawala system can do just the same by finding locals that are part of that system and the flexing funds through them for concentration and purchase or re-distribution. That is the power of a globalized system that is a reflection of the *normal* global system: it works in the same way and allows for the sudden concentration of effort out of nowhere.
By attempting to put issues into a PowerPoint formula of talking points, Mr. Barnett puts forward categories that are not only *not* representative of the entire threat sphere, but leaves such large holes in it that problems can move through them unhindered just as they do today.
And note that until an actual *purchase* is made, the military threat from this system is ZERO. Yet, low cost military small arms that are also available through irregular suppliers and re-sellers allows for these two systems, banking and supply, to suddenly allow the 'spin-up' of terrorist cells on a near global basis instantly. Infiltration of skilled external operatives with local contacts is one way to do this. The other is to train local operatives, have them return home 'empty handed' and then get cash to them via the unofficial system for procurement from known and trusted suppliers. Again, there is very little that can be done to actually address this from the Nation State side of things or even the International Treaty and agreements system. These banking and supply systems work outside of normal channels and are not amenable to the standard oversights used for mere criminal enterprises.
To actually begin to address this with the war powers the United States does have and does not use the full suite of, requires some rethinking on things from Foreign Policy to actual Warfare. I will get to that after a brief look at China as a good part of the interview is spent there and on force structure and needs.
Mr. Barnett puts forth the fully understandable paradigm that the US build-up of forces to counter China is done in their response not only to the US but to overcoming the defenses of Taiwan. By trying to use such things as cruise missiles and procuring stealth ability, China is seeking to thwart both the defenses of Taiwan and the ability of the US to project power via Carrier Battle Groups. Even with higher economic work between the US and China, the Chinese continue to work hard at getting asymmetrical capability to counter US power and still stage a successful invasion and takeover of Taiwan. That said the region of Asia is *not* addressed as a whole and the full power of the US is not considered in this equation. The other way for the US to flex power is through the distribution of better technical capability to the ALLIES of the US in the region: Japan, South Korea and Taiwan.
In point of interest is that China, while having saved North Korea from defeat, is in no way held accountable for the actions of that Nation after the war went on hold. This has led to a complete stagnation of Foreign Policy here and has only put forward that 'economics' is the key to reforming China. I disagree with that premise but even with that as a given it is a long-term affair and the problems in the region are becoming short-term. He sees a lovely scenario where China forgets its Nationalist outlooks that the Communists have espoused for so long and that they will become so integrated with the global economic structure and unable to build up to counter current US forces that they will, in actuality, give up on trying to do so or just simmer. Unless North Korea does something, of course.
Just *when* the Chinese government will give up on getting Taiwan back is another issue. I do not see economic integration as a healing salve, but spreading infection in Chinese society. But then I talked about that in my previous review.
So a look there on Foreign Policy would help to distinguish what can and cannot be done and put some definition on things.
Finally a major point of agreement between myself and Mr. Barnett!
That said my outlook is more than slightly different from his, in that I have not seen a real-live, honest to goodness *explainable* Foreign Policy for the Nation since... well since the middle of the Cold War. The United States threw the gearbox on Foreign Policy into Neutral sometime around the Carter Administration and it has stuck solidly there since. Currently there is no explainable, comprehensive Foreign Policy of the United States. We do get lots of good meaning programs and negotiations and agreements... but zilch on what it is all a part of or intended to achieve as a whole.
Mr. Barnett would like to have some definition on what a Foreign Policy for the 21st century would look like so that we can understand just what the nature of the threat IS that the US Armed Forces have to meet. If you can start to get a handle on the threat, you can size the forces... if they fit within the Nation State Tier set. Those things that fall OUTSIDE that Tier set would remain staunchly unaddressed. That means that one must rethink the ENTIRE concept of Foreign Policy of the United States so that *everything* gets addressed.
In actuality that is very simple to do. This is not rocket science nor nuclear physics nor trying to design a party for 1,000. And as the People of the United States prefer something that breaks down into easy to understand chunks, the chunks define themselves and then allow for them to be addressed separately. Needless to say I have gone over that and the ramifications of doing so previously:
A Proposed Foreign Policy for the United States - There are three main areas involved. Every Nation and every individual fits into one of those.
That then drives out Goals on the Global War on Terror - This actually works to SUSTAIN and enhance the Foreign Policy.
Addressing China means not to address them, first, but to implement the US Foreign Policy.
There are ramifications on current Treaties and such because of this, too, such as NAFTA in which one trading partner has not lived up to its side of the bargain and has been abusing the Sovereignty of the US. And it requires eliminating those organizations that serve no useful purpose and to start distributing the few things that do need to be done via other means.
Now, since the Goals on the Global War on Terror start to redefine who enemies are by their *actions* and that the threat is distributed and asymmetrical, that requires an entire re-analsysis of 21st century warfare to address this. Transforming warfare and how it is fought is just the start, now we have to look into Our Nation and see what has been given to us to *fight* these modern wars that are against non-Nation States and not amenable to 20th century conceptions of warfare. Because an entire set of tools in the toolbox has not been opened for a century and a half and it is vital to this modern fight.
This also gives wider ranging capability to do things to the Citizenry to actually carry out Foreign Policy, even when the Federal Government cannot act because of the restrictions placed upon it.
Note that the order of precedence here is to set out understandable Goals and Objectives and then craft necessary policy that directly *links back* to them without intermediaries and well-wishing.
Programs enforce policy, instead of creating it.
We have lots of programs from the Federal Government.
But no policy to give it directivity and objective goals.
To end *that* candidates must talk about the goals FIRST and then cite how programs will enforce those goals.
If we don't then the Nation will not even be able to keep to its *original* objectives as Freedom and Liberty are frittered away program by program, and the Government assumes those powers from the People.
31 January 2007
The first and lead-in to my reviews is: Force structure, grand strategy and forcing the issue.
29 January 2007
Two posts of interest on the Kerbala attack that killed high level US personnel there during a visit to the local government.
First hints of no-good came from Omar at Iraq The Model when he suspected it of being an 'inside job' due to the logistics and such involved. He also noted the irregularities of weapons, uniforms and the fact that 'vehicles do not make those driving them'. In other words US vehicles do not mean that the drivers of them are from the US.
The second, and one I enjoyed the most, was from Bill Roggio who looked at the problems of supply and attack type. He speculated that it typifies an attack from Imad Fayez Mugniyah and is similar to those he has pulled off previously. So I left the following comment there to help bring a bit of connectivity to things:
Cars stolen in the US have been tracked to Iraq and verified by the VIN of those vehicles. Late model vehicle types of those used by the US overseas have been the target for theft from the Gulf Coast and LA Basin areas. It is apparent that these are not chop-shop specials, but whole vehicles that are exiting via some means, possibly through crime cartels, and then shifted to the Middle East. Unraveling that entire chain is something that really does need to be done, but is not a high priority amongst law enforcement... or they are very quiet about it.A bit of clean-up on the HTML was necessary and all spelling errors and syntax left as-is.
Omar at ITM suspects the Kerbala attack to be an inside job, also.
There is an apparent conjunction between Transnational Terrorist operations involved with standard criminal syndicates and getting this larger picture in focus is very necessary, especially due to the Hezbollah operatives in the US that have been using similar contacts. Particularly worrying is the cooperation between FARC and Hezbollah in South America as FARC needs to operate amongst the various drug cartels, emerald gangs and drug kingpins in the region. Exactly how integrated Transnational Terrorists are with the criminal element is a large unknown, but they are not isolated networks. State based support can play a part in this, too, but the entire network is no longer dependent upon States.
So having Hezbollah spin-up a well integrated cell or set of cells, using distributed support and supplies is not unknown to that organization as that is how it operates in Lebanon, Turkey, Argentina, Brazil and Venezuela... and the US, apparently. In-filtering a few, select and skilled individuals is well within their capability and scope. al Qaeda, by being a smaller and more highly distributed system could do the same, but that requires some few individuals at distributed points to be pulled together and work together, which is not their standard mode of operation. They prefer the spin-up of indigenous cells, clean out any questionable individuals, give some nominal training and oversight and leave them to their own ends until a larger operation needs to happen, at which point they start bringing in external cells for surveillance, logistics and clean-up, allowing the local cell to suddenly gain those things to pull off the operation. That would more clearly have been seen in Karbala, but was not, as that would be far more people than a Hezbollah standard operation.
This sort of attack, as Mr. Roggio noted, was more indicative of such from Mugniyah and also note that this type of attack is more in the style of FARC and South American counter-police/military assassinations which Mugniyah had opportunity to learn during his stay in Argentina during the early 1990's. That is how the Transantional Terrorist network operates.... it is interesting to compare/contrast FARC military tactics used in South America to those of Hezbollah in the summer of 2006. Much of what was seen is better for a tropical climate with large amounts of vegetation than for the arid regions of Lebanon. That would, however, give him the necessary wide-ranging contacts to carry off something like this both from the criminal supply side and from the infiltration side in Karbala.
This is how the Transnational Terrorist network operates over time. It allows for the interconnection of multiple groups, the passing of skills and tactics between groups and for supply and organizational support POCs to be had across the entire network. While individual groups operate to their own goals, these groups do have a large element of sharing and can cross-coordinate so as to come to 'arrangements'. Further the criminal syndicates, such as those illegal gem and goods operations, along with the narcotics operations, cross-integrate inside their own networks outwards to a global basis. That is how Hezbollah *gets* grey market goods to mark-up for sale in the US: they use their terrorist contacts to find the suppliers and then, with their identities verified, are able to open up another conduit for the flow of goods through their own people.
Even if the major Nation State support was absolutely *removed* in the form of Iran, North Korea, Syria, China, Russia and nodding acceptance in the Malaysia and Indonesia areas, they would *still* have their separate individual and group contacts for supply of goods which would allow them to continue operations. Removing the Nation State support is necessary but not sufficient to the removal of Transnational Terrorism, its supporters and suppliers. No military organization or even ALL of them combined can do this. This requires a set of operations that the true, private operative concept can attack.
That should be one of the major Goals on the Global War on Terror.
And none dare speak it as it shows up the deficiencies of Nation States... and the power of the People of the United States, if we dare use it.
28 January 2007
Some of the interesting things I have noticed is in the area of warfare, campaigns and, of course, the misnaming of strategy and tactics by many.
In 1979 the War against the United States opened in Iran with a direct attack upon Sovereign Soil of the Nation. That went without response.
So did the two Beirut Embassy bombings and the Beirut Marine Barracks bombing. In less than five years the US had suffered four attacks upon its soil, its diplomatic corps, and its military. The response was zero.
While the Chinese Water Torture of opening up the southern borders and no longer keeping out illegals has been the long term destruction of the interior of the Nation, these attacks have been the erosion of its exterior sovereignty as well. Following the erosion of support for the United States after the Vietnam war because the Nation let an Ally to hang out in the winds of Communism and see those winds scour its neighbors, the movement from a Superpower that understood what it was about to mere Large Power that has difficulties even understanding what it means to be a Nation have been evident. The United States may have some repsect remaining for its economic might, but the rest of what the Nation once stood for is palpably gone.
Those things were *not* lost because the United States wanted an 'empire' or was 'ignorant of cultural differences' or was seen as a 'giant oppressing the poor'. Quite the contrary, when those things were upheld and put forth as the reasons the Nation DID things,tyrants may have naysayed, but they were, after all, tyrants. They knew that they were in the cross-hairs of Freedom.
Without standing for those things that make the American People a *good* People, the respect for the Nation has diminished. This is not the Nation of World War II or World War I. This is no longer the Nation that upholds Freedom and Liberty even when it was difficult to tell *where* that exactly *was* at many times in our History. Today we have a small but vocal minority that argues *for* letting Totalitarian States prosper, that argues *for* letting those that we have helped out from under Tyranny to slip back into maw of that beast and that argues *for* the willful destruction of the very civilized infrastructure that allows modern life to continue.
In large part this is driven by pure anti-Americanism.
There is also, however, the movement to combine the irresolution at home over having Citizenship as a meaningful standard for Nationhood and the drive to remove America from supporting Liberty and Freedom, even though it has a cost in blood to do so. The 19th century view of liberalism and the Rights of Man did win out in the West, but not elsewhere. The majority of the global population has only seen meager benefit due to this victory, even when their material circumstances have improved, greatly. Liberty wins through when there is a basis for democracy and decisions by individuals to be reflected at the National scale and when their internal differences are respected. That is the old liberalism.
Much of the modern Conservative movement has embraced that, but has lost its grasp that it is Liberty and Freedom *first* which empower the utility of goods and advancement. This strange idea of 'Free Trade Freeing the Globe' has not had that as a short or long-term consequence for the decades it is has been espoused and pushed. That formula, in point of fact, is one that is entirely modern in its cast as it was *not* the necessary antecedent for the birth of the United States. The Mercantile Trade system and centralization of limited heavy industry in the British Isles removed the ability of the Colonies to *have* Free Trade. Still, as Crown Citizens, the imposition of taxation without representation was seen as an abrogation of the rights of those Citizens. It is not 'Free Trade' that the Citizens wanted, but a VOICE in the affairs of trade as a Colony.
Liberty *before* trade.
Doing the reverse is a Capitalist system icon for trade expansion via market expansion. Free Trade is the means to open markets to goods... not promote Liberty and Freedom. The guns, goods and buildings of the Crown Colonies in America were *not* stamped out by machine, not made by great lumber mills, nor created by Big Business: it was hand-made in small shops and businesses and by dedicated individuals. It was worth fighting *for* the right to have a say as Citizens of the Crown when the Government abrogated the rights of the people in removing their say in trade, taxation and governance.
The foundations of a Nation built upon the Rights of Man were a necessary precedent to gaining Liberty and Freedom. That understanding did not require modern telecommunications, mass production, factories, or any of the things that are mere *goods* to be used in living. It did require an ability to ensure people were informed, that the necessary underpinnings of liberty and freedom were transmitted and disseminated and that the Citizenry understood its role in BEING the actual Nation. That is what is *missing* in modern America: the understanding that the Citizens hold the Nation in Common between them all.
That lack of understanding has come from an outgrowth of the Socialist ideals of a Global Proletariat. Global Socialism was taken up as the way to remove the Nation State as the means for the People to identify who and what they were. Of course that was to be a long way off in the distant future of Capitalism... when industry was *everywhere* and the actual basis for society was that of the industrial working class. Because that, of course, was the basis of industrial society. Until it wasn't.
In this strange world Socialism got stuck in one Nation so that those practitioners, while still mouthing the words of International Socialism had to deal with Nations, Nationalism and the identification of Peoples with Nations. It didn't help that Russia was a non-industrial society, either. So adaptation took place and in Italy and Germany Socialism got combined with Nationalism while Russia still looked toward International Socialism or Communism. The ideal of everyone *working together* and losing their identity in the 'greater cause' was still present in both, just towards different ends. And with all the problems of Capitalism and the end of the old Imperial Colonial system, surely this was the foreordained end of Capitalism that Marx had foreseen. Until it wasn't that, either.
A funny thing happened to make one lose identity in the 'greater cause': the Rights of Man as an Individual got shunted aside and removed from the Socialist ideal. Meanwhile, back on the Capitalist Nationalist side of things, the concept of combating Communism by supporting every tinpot dictator that was *against* Communism was put forth. The Left decried this, but never reconciled their OWN support of tyrannical Communism with the ideals they used to denigrate the Right's support of dictators against Communism.
Suddenly there were NO supporters for the Universal Rights of Man that actually adhered to them and espoused them in a non-economic way.
Today the Left has pretty much removed any of those ideals and replaced them with blatant anti-Americanism.
The Right has *also* removed them in favor of the mantra of 'Free Trade Freeing People'.... to do *what* exactly they have never put forth.
So those left that actually raise their hands in *support* of the Universality of the Rights of the Individual *and* to have Nations that are different from each other are left out in the cold. These folks are neither Right nor Left today. They do not fall on the 'political spectrum' of binary irreconcilable sides that have no fractions in their counting nor basis in the old identity of the Individual being the basis for society and Nations.
The Left does not support that. They mouth the words, but immediately turn AGAINST bias based on National outlook. So, which is it? The Rights of the Individual to come together and form Nations so there is commonality or not? If you support that Right, then having a bias FOR your National viewpoint is valid. If you don't support that, then you have no basis in saying that you support *any* Rights of Man as Individuals.
The Right does not support that, either. The mouth the words of Nationalism, but they immediately put forth that it is ONLY with 'Free Trade'. Even though the United States and other Free People have gotten Freedom and Liberty WITHOUT 'Free Trade'. How much of a factor did 'Free Trade' play in the Polish National self-conception of themselves as a devout People who are Free? Since the 10th century, mind you... for that is how long the Polish People have SEEN themselves as Free People. Before *any* notion of 'Free Trade' and Capitalism were around and, indeed, Capitalism would have been a strange idea in that era. Freedom and Capitalism can go together, but they are not a wedded couple. You can have Freedom without Capitalism as the United States has demonstrated. And you can have Capitalism without Freedom, as China has demonstrated and any number of those tinpot dictators that got support during the era of 'Realism' in Foreign Policy.
Can we have some of that old 19th century clarity, please?
Support of the Universal Rights of Man as an Individual and *not* as an economic unit?
You know that concept? Individuals responsible for their actions and not 'blaming society' or 'blaming their upbringing'?
Because that IS Freedom and Liberty.
Personal decision and responsibility First and above ALL ELSE. And you cannot divorce the responsibility of the Individual *to* their society and being held accountable for their actions to that greater whole that they have identified as having meaning and validity for themselves. That is the investment of self in that self-identification of that thing that holds People together: Nations.
Without that accountability you do not retain Freedom and soon Liberty is lost, too, as society collapses. The free-for-all view of Libertarianism is a form of Anarchism: Society is put *after* the Individual and the Individual need not uphold Society to have their Rights.
And if you do not uphold the Society one finds that the basis *for* their Rights as part of a Social Compact disappears.
Ring any bells?
That is *not* 'Social Conservatism', which puts a religious basis to the underpinning of Society. This is far more basic than *that*. This is the right of Individuals to come together and form a common identity and create a social order for themselves and *then* to create governance amongst themselves so that they may retain that identity.
Don't believe in that?
Ok, lets try someone else's words:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.Now there is one thick writer for you! Do we see 'Free Trade' there? How about 'society is to blame' or 'society is the underpinning of rights'? Or don't those words mean that Individuals come together to make society and governments? You know, to create a society that ensures that Rights are not usurped?
When asked what the difference is between a Jeffersonian and a Jacksonian is, I usually come up with a variation on the following:
Jeffersonians espouse the Universal Rights of Man.That is why, as an Individual, I do, indeed, support my Nation and my People. That is why when the Nation goes to War it fights to *victory* and then helping up those who we have fought so that they can then learn to take care of themselves in a fashion that allows them to determine *who* they are and *what* they are about.
Jacksonians mean them.
After WWII Germany had to make the transition back *to* democracy, and had only a weak understanding of it. Imperial Japan needed to have the entire thing taught from the ground up and took a decade to do.
The Philippines took almost nine decades, but a couple of World Wars interrupted things, and the Cold War didn't help much because of the damned 'Realists'.
Long fight, huh?
The Declaration of Independence was, indeed, a call to arms.
Against Despotism. Against Tyranny.
It is formed without respect to economic system as it is amenable to *any* system so long as that system is held accountable to society.
That is what it means when these Rights are conceived of as 'Universal'.
The call to arms was in 1776 and everyone acknowledged it would be a *long war*.
And for the Universal Rights of Man as Individuals to create their own societies and Nations.
One does not fight to uplift a People from Despotic Rule and then decide it isn't worth the cost and throw them back to Despotism.
That IS Anti-American.
You fight until the last Free Man on Earth dies in this struggle as stopping at anything less than the Universal is defeat.
It continues to this day in far off lands that have never had a single drop of Liberty or Freedom ever grace their deserts.
I am sorry for those in America that can no longer commit to this struggle because they have started to fit themselves for the shackles of Tyranny once more. They no longer believe in the Universality of the Rights of Man as Individuals. They have surrendered and no longer adhere to Liberty or Freedom for All. Just for themselves.
These people who do this are not to be hated.
They are to be pitied as already enslaved to their hatred of Freedom, their hatred of Society, their hatred of Nation.
They may speak of Liberty and Freedom, but cannot commit to the cost in blood and lives to gain it and sustain it.
Because they are enslaved to hatred.
Jeffersonians espouse the Universality of the Rights of Man.
Jacksonians MEAN THEM.
And the fight from 1776 still continues on.
“Americans are not a perfect people, but we are called to a perfect mission.” - Andrew Jackson
This post has been previously cross-posted at Classical Values and Power and Control.
I had been in conversation with Simon at Classical Values and Power and Control on the Iranian oil problems cited in a recent set of documents and that I had done an overview on in my Iran's Oil Problem post. Recent events and reports of explosions and such in Iran have kept me busy looking to see what is being involved there, but I cannot find coincidence with the general petro-infrastructure. One of my previous views has been, when asked 'what would it take to knock out Iran's oil sector?' had been : "One A-10 with EW escort for one flight or two teams of special forces and a week."
This is *why* I came to that conclusion.
So much in the way of emails was generated on this topic with Simon, who then asked to have a larger post put together. For those familiar with my works, which tend to be on the 'verbose, long-form', doing such a post was beyond my capabilities as I had mentally taken a topical area of each structure inside the petro-industry and addressed it then identified the points of system control, positive and negative, and then examined repercussions in follow-on areas. This covers a wide range of topics from economics, pumping stability, pipeline utility, the role of maintenance and expanding production, utility of actual materials to re-invigorate the system, lack of economic outlook by the regime in Iran and so on. Once a section was generally firm, I could then use the interlocking components and examine wider effects and look for wider causations.
Some causations appear to be non-involved at the start, but as a society integrates as a large-scale system, changes in that society will lead to systemic changes throughout the entire structure of it. This is partly why we have so many of the 'Law of Unintended Side-Effects': very few people actually look at second or third order fall out from changes and see if those have wider ramifications. As James Burke has said, and I do paraphrase: 'Change your outlook slightly and the whole universe changes.'
That is *why* the refinery problems in Iran are so troublesome: they represent the fall out of primary, secondary and tertiary level changes *simultaneously*. They are the most complex part of a complex system and the first to show up problems when anything starts to go wrong systemically. If the refineries are going to pot, then the entire system is in trouble.
The following is the post itself as seen at Classical Values and Power and Control:
This is a really long piece by A. Jacksonian. He wrote this as a series of e-mail exchanges with me and I edited it making some minor corrections which A. Jacksonian has approved. It covers the outlook for oil production for the next 5 to 10 years. The short version: Iran and Venezuela will probably be dropping out of the oil market as producers.Yes, Iran is in a Metastable state that is rapidly moving to unstable. The recent Saudi announcement that their entire reserve production capacity covers ALL of Iranian output is a clear indicator that Iran can be taken out *without* a shock to the world oil market which, in actuality, hurts the Middle East more than the industrialized Nations as they, too, depend upon a steady income flow and surges and diminishment wreck their financial systems as they do not *reinvest* money into their Nations or their Peoples. By not having a manufacturing basis for economic production, the oil producing Nations of the Middle East are underwriting their own destruction in the long term: either to Peoples seeking freedom or towards an even more highly repressive regime which grants NO liberty at all.
The petroleum infrastructure of any Nation or company has multiple components for input, output and feedback. Economic, of course, is the main judge of the overall system, but not the only guide as to system health. The physical 'plant' component of pumps, pipes, pressure gauges, platforms, and then refineries, which are their own specialty, are critical to continued economic efficiency. That said the system is maintained by the actual people hired on to do the work and their skill base is reflected *into* the system itself. An individual, here or there at a low level, can do some OJT, but for the system to work as a whole, good management and training are essential. Economic feedback *into* this system then goes for pay, training, upkeep, exploration to replace depletion and increased demand, and keep output steady with a slow upward spiral to it. Overall the system is 'motion stable' with feedbacks to reduce wobble and instability. The numbers on the amount fed into this system, economically, will either establish/maintain stability or reduce stability. Boom/bust cyclicity is not wanted as sudden surges/declines means an unstable labor base and the physical plant suffers due to that.
The purpose of the interior system feedback dynamics, is to keep the entire system on an 'even keel' and at a steady and stable state. Deprive the system of economic input, and training suffers then basic upkeep and maintenance and then one starts on a downward decay cycle. Throwing in bursts of cash make that cycle nastier, while giving short-term gains. If you do not have the training to bring up old areas or properly scope-out new areas, then even if you bring them online you are stuck with higher overall depletion and actual loss through mismanagement. The large scale 'wobble' that is now showing up in Iranis due to the 18 months of not meeting export quotas. That is also due to National fiscal policies in Iran coming back with teeth to bite them. The Islamic world, by trying to eschew such concepts as 'compound interest' has problems dealing with the world of economics and markets. It is a key part of the mental toolbox that is missing, and even if *learned* it may be seen as an 'outsider thing'. Strong xenophobia thus exculdes key concepts for actually running a Nation and the Nation suffers and starts to see infrastructure decay.
The servo, if operated under a steady load, but designed for a small slowly increasing load, is a good example. A flywheel spinning up far below its design tolerances but suffering uneven control and feedback are another. Sudden changes in load, electrical input and stress will each start to put strain on the overall system. If the system is designed for such strain, small amounts of it are acceptable. A petroleum infrastructure is like a mechanical watch in that regard: you need enough winding to ensure continued operation, but getting it actually 'cleaned' for maintenance once in a great while is also necessary. Otherwise the junk builds up, friction increases and no matter how much you wind it, the poor thing stops. Works right up to the last tick!
Iran is performing the strangest form of economic suicide I have witnessed: willful degradation of a 'cash cow' the Nation depends upon so that the cow stops giving milk and then dies. Feeding the poor thing lots *now* will just stop up its guts... while it can still operate it needs a limited increase in grazing and a good, thorough exam. Soon there will be a carcass if that doesn't happen, so you won't even get steaks from it. A 'poison pill' that Iran has already swallowed... the Nation will run for awhile, but less well and it will start grabbing for high-cost solutions, like buying gasoline. And that will start a very nasty downward spiral as the motion stable system begins to slow and the wobble builds up and suddenly falls over, heading to the complete stability of death as it turns and turns and turns on the ground going nowhere, save to a stop.
The overall supply/demand and boom/bust cycle are inter-related, although the longer term trend analysis looking at reserve capacity points to a plateau in current existing supplies of oil as we have known it. Oil shale and oil sands, however, have reached a price point in which the improved technology has brought the extraction price down and the as the market price for oil has trended upwards over time. So, the 'easy to get to' first generation oil reserves are already starting to see replacement by oil sands production in Canada. And as those reserves dwarf anything in the Middle East, they have a longer-term price stabilizing component in them with the limiting factors being: capacity expansion and production capability. One of the early notes of mine on Canada commented on this and the impact this would have in actually capping actual prices at a ceiling when Middle Eastern oil starts to hit its first real stumbles. Chevron, as an example, in 2005 alone invested $70 billion in the oil infrastructure in Canada, mainly Alberta. Canada, itself, has an interesting system of being a welfare regime at the top end, but not having any say over local resources. The central-western provinces of Canada now have a negative unemployment rate and cannot get enough Canadians to relocate there to fill these jobs. Not just in the petro-industry, but across the board for services as well. These provinces are also getting fed up with subsidizing Quebec and a few other provinces, looking to get their money out of the oil revenue stream.
Recent Israeli work on oil shales, which they have an abundance of, is now showing real promise and they do point out that even with their relatively low content oil shale it will be economical to start extracting oil from it. That report also points out that US oil shale has twice the concentation of the typical Israeli oil shale... which is why Montana is doing its first major prospecting to getting an oil shale industry up with the older technology. So the old reserves are running out, slow but sure, but the untapped future reserves will now become economical and start to change the landscape and cash flow from inefficient Middle Eastern regimes to more efficient industrial and manufacturing Nations. That, of course, will be seen as 'oppressive' by some parts of the political sphere...
Subsidies are wrecking the oil system, just as they are relatively useless in the US agricultural system. For the $13 billion the USDA pays for its subsidies and emergency support $0.5 billion is for emergencies. The rest are subsidies, 'price supports' and encouraging farmers not to farm... for all the arguments on 'cheap food in the US' we are also getting an erosion of the basis of farm labor by inefficient companies continuing to use sub-minim wage workers who do not have a part to play in society. Thus the Federal Government is paying for the erosion of National Sovereignty to get us 'cheap food'. Yet, even there, the first realms of automation are starting to be felt, with the Mondavi Vinyards, as an example, is moving towards automated harvesting of wine grapes. Florida has pushed research into robotic pickers with chemical sensors that can tell by the direct analysis of fruit if it is ripe to pick or not. While still clumsy and in prototype stage, the need for this in multiple industries to drive out the cyclic costs of labor are immense. Robotic picking can be continuous, set to specifications for fruit grade and done on a 24 hour a day picking cycle. Further, such robots can be retooled for individual tree/plant maintenance during the year on that same cyclic basis. Add in GPS and wireless and farmers can now tell how much moisture they are getting and vary the harvest so that it is at 'peak' for all parts of the crop.
China is facing a problem of subsidized fuel, a shift to the middle class and yet they still having a huge amount of their population living in rural conditions. Destabilization of its Western provinces by Islamic terrorists is no longer unknown. The Central provinces are facing population decline and economic collapse for the population that remains. Eastern and Southern China are now facing multi-prong threats as the Magic Kingdom of Mr. Kim has stolen food trains from China. China delivers the food 'aid' and North Korea says the trains are part of the package and confiscates them, too. Mr. Kim then turns around and says: You keep feeding my people or I will open my borders. Who would have thought that starving millions would be a political weapon? Finally China is coming face up to the fact that the Rising Sun is returning with modern equipment that makes theirs look antiquated. Japan has put the first of a new set of Aegis class ships out to sea. And with Mr. Kim going atomic, Japan has let it quietly be known they are thinking that option over, too... which, coupled with their existing space rocketry, makes them an instant global power with nuclear tipped ICBMs. China also realizes that if Japan does that, it will have manufacturing capability to turn those out like Toyotas.
All of that while China subsidizes a 1950's base factory system with a few spotlights on high-tech here and there. They run extremely polluting factories and are seeing things like lung cancer in cities go upwards. When a city disappears from satellite due to smog, you know you have a problem. When a yellow, noxious cloud hangs over it continuously, even after rain storms, you have an immense problem. Without a market and societal based feed-back into the industrial base, that base will be non-sustainable. Cheap gas, oil, and land have led to urban sprawl and decay, which it already had but is now spreading faster. Compress the US history between 1910 and 1960 without the sustainability of industry and you get an idea of the problems China will have. They are also getting this damned thing known as cheap telecom, which is starting to liquidize their social cohesion. Attempting to put a 'Great Firewall' in has proven that you need lots of folks to plug leaks and that some of those folks are none too trustworthy in that job. Even if that were done, the SMS cellphone capability has made distributed messages of pure text to be something easily done at nearly no cost burden at all. Add to that increasing storage capacity, processing power and cameras, and you suddenly have individuals who are their own file servers with autonomous wireless connectivity. Attempting to stop the wired internet has proven impossible *inside* China, as the low cost of computers and storage now makes redundant, off-site, fail-over possible. Pull down one server and two others will pick up at distributed locations. To end this China would have to get rid of *all* computational capability, including cellphones, which now serve as the wireless conduit into the world. To step forward they must let go, to let go is to invite disaster, to stay authoritarian invites overthrow, and to try and buy off the population just speeds the acceptance of modern digital technology which the State is not very adept at handling.
This same scenario is playing itself out in the Middle East in spades. The Iranian 'demographic bomb' is already destabilizing enough without the added petro-insanity. Saudi Arabia has *tried* to ban all picture phones, and failed. Phone dating and exchanging nude and other pictures is now commonplace amongst the younger generation there and the social taboos cannot be enforced via a *firewall*. And as there are too many overland routes for smuggling, just outlawing the picture phones raises the nominal expenditure and puts off buying one for a couple of months. In Iraq the majority of the population now has celllphones, at least one per household if not more. One of the great things going on there is that *everyone* has their own favorite downloads, web sites and such that they share with each other. Even if the insurgents got their wish and *won* they would be face to face with a population that is alien to them. Every day that Iraq holds together is a day further off that a repressive regime can come to power without wiping out a growing percentage of the population. The Iraq we invaded is no longer the Iraq on the ground, and *we* have to face up to that in the West, too. The one bright light of Iraq is the realization that subsidies kill. They are being removed and people are facing up to having to get real jobs to survive. The Kurds, in particular, see the need to transfer to a manufacturing based economy with a strong oil sector... not a strong oil sector and a Socialist State leeching from it. Iraq will turn the corner the day electric meters start to go in on houses.
In many ways I agree with your idea of Iran as Socialist concept, but would also say that they have had a strong anti-technology streak in certain areas. While the 'National Flower of Iraq' is the Satellite Dish, in Iran they are attempting the pure Totalitarian move of limiting all 'net access. Throttle it down and thwart it... which just means other conduits will open and distributed comms will start to increase throughput across all the networks to overcome the localized bottlenecks. The oil industry, however, is retrograde. By actively removing the educational basis for it and the economic understanding of it to fund terrorism, they are going far and beyond even a Soviet concept here... Luddite is more the concept, I think. Just bonkers. Really there is no word to describe it as even the USSR knew it had to re-invest in its oil fields. Its industrial production was junk, but the idea was in the right place. Iran has neither the industrial capacity nor the educational capacity to understand this, now. I actually expect depletion to be reaching levels where it can't increase in amount as actual reserves and ability to pump it from the ground are going down.
Perhaps pre-industrial is what this is? Used more to the concept of 'piece work' rather than industrial integration. Any way you cut it the multiple feedback mechanisms no longer work and a downward spiral will begin within the next year or so, especially if they get put out of OPEC as a reliable supplier. Without steady export output, contracts for the long term start to dry up. If that is not addressed then the oil trade slowly moves to the spot market, where daily fluctuations will destroy any Nation depending upon it.
In the petroleum industry, there are few forms of adding capacity: exploiting new fields, expanding on old fields, rejuvenating old fields. Each of these have overhead time and cost and a multi-year timeline to them. The longest is the new field area, which can be as long as a decade to finally get economic production from a field. It adds yield, but at a higher marginal cost. Expanding old fields is only a 2-5 year timeline, but that is based on the 'knowns' of subsurface configuration and expected reservoir size. This will increase depletion of the field, but has a lower marginal cost and is the easier route to go with, especially on large fields. Rejuvenation starts with the repressurizing scheme, of injecting natural gas *into* the field to raise pressure levels and force oil through the pore space. After that you start to look at some more exotic techniques, each of which cost more to do. The marginal cost is higher than expansion but lower than new field work. While we may view those from the outside as 'chunks', to the industry these are minor and discrete operations towards an operational system. Still, $70 billion by Chevron in Canada is a huge investment and they promise lots more behind them as do the other companies.
Iran is not expanding oil output via new reserves nor by expanding on existing reserves in an amount that is above domestic use. Further, their subsidized use of natural gas puts the cheapest form of rejuvenation in peril. This isn't Socialist... its asinine. Even Socialists *try* to understand industrial production cycles. This? A rare form of seppuku. Take all the regulators and sensors off your servo, feed in a 'dirty' power stream and put a large delay on any control on the system or, no control for balance and see if it can stay in place. Something has got to give. In Iran it will be the refineries which are the most complex part of a complex system. Probably not with a bang, just a sigh of relief that they aren't going to be abused any more.
The Cartels are actually only being set up to meet demand at a given price point. Their goal is to control the price point by their own supply of product. They were much more powerful when they had less competition, but their overall part of global production has been in decline for some years. And they have to be in this wonderful bind of having to either 'cover' for Iran or increase quotas and curse Iran. At some point they will realize that Iran is no longer an 'Exporting' Nation that is reliable. Cartels love reliable environments and seek to manipulate those. Throw a spanner in the works and they seize up and fly apart. The question is: which spanner gets them first? Iran or Canada? My guess is Iran, based on spin-up time for the Canadian fields, and the rate of increase of Iranian problems.
It is very telling that not even Gazprom will touch Iranian production. Of course Russia has been faced with insurgents backed in the Chechen region by both al Qaeda and Iran, so they may be having an internal problem deciding exactly how to treat Iran. If I were into conspiracies, I would almost suspect Putin of encouraging the decline of the Iranian petro-industry to hand the West a long-term problem. China, of course, just wants oil, but even *they* haven't invested in the petro-industry in Iran, which is saying a lot, right there. So much for their 'Russian and Chinese friends' who will give Iran nominal cover so long as they continue to pony up and buy hardware from them. One does wonder if such 'support' will last past the point that Iran can no longer buy anything from them nor pay off its debt....
The analysis at multiple levels is difficult without knowing exact conditions. Iran, internally, is coming apart already as seen by student and worker demonstrations. Older, 19th century, divisions are reappearing *again*, with even a Monarchist faction still there. On a nearby regional basis and global basis the question is: how will Iran collapse? When is now a min/max timeline that I see starting in 2010 or so and ending at 2019, but the instabilities are now too numerous to fix a lower date anymore. From unstable regimes seen in the world prior to this, things rarely go to an extreme and often collapse before that... the American and French revolutions come to mind, while the Russian Revolutions are more towards maximum dissatisfaction being reached. They may try to put the al Qaeda management of savagery approach into play to become a distributed threat, but without a State sponsor... well that puts them on par with al Qaeda's poor rich man's road to Empire. The Persian population of Iran should prove relatively cohesive, but the multiple ethnic minorities at the periphery, those have serious problems some of them now wanting to *be* in Iran to start with.
My basic outlooks on energy independence for the US is in these following posts:
Basic energy independence policy, Review of the Popular Mechanics article, Nanotech to the rescue or not, The Stop-Gap Energy policy for the next 30 years, Dealing with Tom Vilsack and then the algae folks in the comments section.
Behind all of that is the view that the Middle East has nearly plateaued in oil production capability and they are now on a depletion curve over the next 50 years. OPEC has not only gone downwards in market share and power, but also in pure output capacity. While they have 'reserve capacity' that means that if that is used you get increased depletion of the oil fields and a shorter lifespan of them. To milk the cash cow longer, they would like to extend the life of their oil fields at the minimum necessary export amount to get them the maximal cash influx. What they have forgotten is that modern life runs on petro-chemicals and even tiny Nations like so many of the Emirates, are facing increased demand curves at home. Iran has this in spades with a huge population and subsidized fuel - a double-whammy that will get them in the end. Even if China, as I have heard, wants to put in lots of money, they may be faced with the regime actually *removing* Iranian money and depending on Chinese money, and the Chinese are unprepared to be the servants of Iran. Really, though, one Nation cannot hope to fill the multivariate needs of Iran's petro-infrastructure, and I doubt that any amount of Chinese money or skill will do more than steady the plateau or slow the downward spiral. That is at best... at worse it will be money down the drain and a rebellion changing the Nation and deciding not to pay off any debts. Funny how Socialist regimes do that and then get peeved when others do the exact same thing to them.
Venezuela has also gone bonkers. No two ways about it: by taking the socialist route and the anti-technology view towards the petro-economy, Chavez is ruining the entire system. Future projects going on hold or being cancelled are the death knell for a system that requires expansive forward capacity to keep exports stable. Stop running and the treadmill flips you off the end of it. By trying to bribe the population, allow Iran to get a terrorist base of operations and legitimacy in South America, and by buying Soviet and Chinese military hardware, he is using short term-profits to little good long-term effect. Mind you, the USSR actually was able to maintain an oil system that at least *tried* to keep up with domestic demand... and Putin's recent efforts there to take over Western oil capital goods in the way of exploration, well equipment, pipelines and so forth are heading Russia down that same path. On the South American front, the goals of Iran have been clear, even if one only bothers to peruse a half-year's worth of articles at the RFE/RL archive at Globalsecurity. What is happening is the workings of the internetworked Transnational Terrorist system with State sponsorship.
What this results in is increased terrorism and performance of terrorism on a global scale as the entire system of terrorism gets infused with money, goods, personnel and training. Much of what was seen in Lebanon this past summer bears a striking resemblance to how the FARC operate, which then looks like cross-training based on the RFE/RL reports. Iran has been working its way into the narcotics trade and other illegal goods trade in South America, looking for funding sources. It is more than ready to exploit Chavez to use any capital or legitimacy he can give so that the Iranian Foreign Legion #3 - South America, can get up and running as a going concern. Iranian equipment and training, however, will diffuse into the FARC and Shining Path, locally, and from those points back outwards globally into the internetworked terrorist system. One of the very pointed questions I put up on TTLB asks the GOP Leadership: What is the stance of the GOP towards illegal immigrants that will be ethnically hispanic, but aligned with Hezbollah? After the arrests and convictions of Hezbollah agents in the US, that is exactly what we are facing now. And those arrests point to Mexican drug lord contacts, contacts with the Asian Triads, and standard criminal and organized crime contacts. While there is some overlap between the criminal and the terrorist systems, notably FARC and North Korea, they are not one in the same, but separate systems with different global goals. Local concerns have their own goals, of course, but the system itself has a global outlook and that is spread via the common parts of each system.
So, Chavez is not only ruining the Venezuela petro-structure, its economy, and importing tons of cheap military hardware, but also helping Iran put a permanent enclave of terrorists in place to recruit locally and start to intimidate the smaller criminal and terrorist operations, like the Emerald Gangs and smaller narcotics outfits. As a resource, narcotics are far more dependable than oil, and cheaper to get, too. Low overhead, high profit. This is a major long-term destabilizing factor in South America and in the entire Western Hemisphere due to the porous nature of the US borders. Here the US 'bargain' of cheap labor to harvest goods and work in sub-minimum wage packing plants will come back heavily to bite us as that bargain will now start to have Hezbollah infiltration along with the unchecked illegals. The US is giving away National Sovereignty for cheap food and that is a recipe for disaster.
In the Middle East, so long as there is oil flow and relatively easy profits to be had, terrorism will continue onwards. The chilling part of that is the Western ability to produce cheap goods now means that terrorism can be supported by less money *and* be more effective. This strange notion of 'cheap goods' leading to freedom seems to have the contrary effect of arming the enemies of freedom and letting them operate in a more deadly fashion as time goes on. With that said within 15-20 years, the Middle East will no longer be a large minority supplier of crude oil, their global output is dropping in percentage terms as Canada starts to enter the market. Similarly Israel and the US will start to exploit oil shales and steady out demand curves over the long haul as *mining* is far more dependable than sub-surface structure analysis for oil and gas exploration. At some point the US Continental shelf will be opened to such exploration no matter how much the environmentalists squawk: the environmentalists have had three long decades to 'put up or shut up' about renewables. Their 'put up' time is nearly over and their 'shut up' time is coming. Americans will not stand for a decreased standard of living to 'save' shore birds when the companies doing such work have not seen a major spill from an oil platform in decades. A proven safety record is hard to beat. A move to nuclear power is all to the good and third and fourth generation nuclear facilities do not operate in a metastable manner requiring constant oversight. The best of pebblebed designs will shutdown if containment is breached due to the denser nature of the air vice their standard coolant. The large 'nuclear batteries' that some companies are proposing are completely self-contained and sealed with set automatic control systems and sub-critical mass elements that cannot even undergo the 'China Syndrome'.
All of that spells a marginalization of the Middle East for importance in the world, increased repression, increased terrorism and strikes against the affluent Nations for 'exploiting' them and for 'not taking the path to virtue'. Only once supply and demand curves near each other will the Middle Eastern State and rich individuals stop being able to fund terrorists. Smaller Emirates realize this and are moving into service economies: banking, trade and the such. Iraq realizes this and the long term goal is to get a manufacturing economy in place for high-skill jobs and long term increasing profits. That latter is 15 years away, at least, but the education cycle for it is already starting and the Kurds point the way towards that future.
Iraq, for all of being a desert climate today, was a lush grassland 5-6,000 years ago. The Israelite description of the Garden of Eden and the lush lands of the two rivers is modern day Iraq. The climate changed, civilizations fell and folks moved around. The soil basis and rainfall basis are gone for that sort of agriculture in Iraq, but the Israeli's have shown the way forward with plant-drip dryland irrigation techniques that yield decent crops. Syria has been trying 1960's style 'Green Revolution' concepts, but lack the water basis for that and remain in some troubles due to that. The smaller Emirates will live quite well on imports and have a cash flow, due to services, that will allow that to continue even once the oil runs out. Iran is another story, and their agricultural sector was a bright spot back in the 1960's, but that era is long dead. Recovery of an agricultural sector in Iran within the next 20 years is critical for their population so as to have the majority of the population fed by home grown goods or via a trade system. Iraq is now a net *exporter* of agricultural goods and is taking up its role along the riverine areas of becoming the 'bread basket of the Middle East'. An expansive use of dryland agriculture will be necessary for the long haul in the Middle East. Iraq should make it, and was saved in time to not only recover but get a robust system in place. Iran is dicey, and will require help from Iraq and Afghanistan to recover its agricultural industries and get them into the modern era.
If Iran implodes in the next 5-10 years, all bets for the region are 'off'. The fragmentation of Iran would be just as disasterous as that of Iraq if it happens soon. My articles on that situation in overview are addressing the tribal nature of Iraq, but is applicable across the entire Middle East, save Israel. Even Turkey is not immune from this breakdown. The closest long-term historical analogy is that of The Balkans, save they had coherent Nation States bounding them to stop the ethnic/religious/cultural divisions from splintering Europe. There are NO such bulwarks in the Middle East, thus this analogy spreads from Sinai to India, the Empty Quarter to Russia. Getting Iraq into a coherent Nation State is critical to stop that splintering and fracturing and remove them as long term faultlines of instability in the Middle East. Long term peace in that region depends upon that solution being applied over and over throughout the region. The reason that is something I see as a solution, is that it has worked before the last time religious sects went after each other. The incoherence of Islam is a main sticking point, but even without that a 'place-by-place' solution can be done but only if that Geographic Center of the Middle East has come to terms with itself. That place is Iraq. Everything of importance on the human side of the equation runs right through there. Quite a lot of commerce, transport and communications, too. All of that is necessary to a vital region and without that there will be no peace (although stability is another and only somewhat related question) there nor globally.
The last time America ran we got stuck with a huge death toll from those who depended upon us, degradation of National affinity, and a route seen to bring the United States down. In point of fact we got stuck with problems that are *not* amenable to Nation State solutions of the 20th century - if they had been we wouldn't have them. Even with some relatively coherent Nations in the Middle East, the 20th century has re-formulated pre-20th century warfare into something that Nation States gave up as warfare... all save one... as those means to fight those kinds of wars are enshrined in the Constitution, only the People of the United States may take them away. There is a State based component in this, and providing semi-capable and freer opportunities to live will help to finally curb Nation State terrorism. The other kind, the non-Nation State side which got the Soviets out of Afghanistan, is not affected by that. To do that will require the most radical altering of any Nation, that is the US actually embracing the ideals it set forth and recognizing that in an era where individuals can be a mass destructive threat, so it is only individuals who can fight those wars.
That I do not see happening any time soon.
And the world is at peril because of that oversight and the unwillingness of a Free People to embrace their Freedom.
This is a long war and the military of the United States can win wars and topple States. But only the People taking up their rightful responsibilities to *fight*, as we have set down in our Constitution, can *win this war*.
The young Republic of the 19th century could easily have coped with this and thrived.
What we have today cannot.
It is pessimistic, but also based on how these systems operate. The feedback mechanism is in place, just not engaged in the way set forth for it to be applied. Our survival depends upon it. And our willingness to take up that old cry of: "Give me Liberty. Or give me Death."
For that is the choice we are left with in the end.
And the center of the Middle East must hold for any chance at a better future for the region and the world.
That center is Iraq.
26 January 2007
It is hard to put down exactly where one can begin with this strange notion that Instapundit cites from Jay Nordlinger that has thoughts that giving the Democrats complete control of the White House and Congress will somehow make them accountable:
I have a friend who, in a phone conversation last weekend, said the unsayable. Come to think of it, this friend makes a specialty of saying the unsayable. That is one reason he is invaluable.Yes, this one is a pretty strange observation, as if, suddenly, the ranting children will suddenly become absolutely docile once the cookie jars are open and the tractor-trailer with cases of cookies backs up to them. So let us look instead at the past three 'full monte' Democratic Administrations with full or partial control of Congress during their terms. This ought to demonstrate, beyond a shadow of a doubt how CAPABLE the Democratic Party actually *is* at this sort of thing.
He said, “The Democrats have to win in 2008 — I mean, the whole enchilada: House, Senate, and presidency.” You ought to know that my friend is a staunch conservative Republican. “Why?” I said. “Why do they have to win?” He answered, “Because that’s the only way they will be fully onboard the War on Terror. They won’t fully support it otherwise, because they will always be trying to trip up the Republicans. If you want the Democrats onboard the War on Terror, they have to be in charge. Period.”
A dark, dark proclamation. And redolent of ol’ Joe, the one from Wisconsin. I am not entirely convinced of its wrongness, however.
And we start, of course, with Lyndon Baines Johnson. Yes, his term started with the assassination of President Kennedy, but he played on that to get all sorts of wonderful new programs passed and greatly expand government in the lives of the People. The term Great Society comes to mind on that. Now the concept of actually adhering to the Constitution to ensure that all Citizens were treated fairly and not discriminated against via skin color was, indeed, something that is necessary to make America Great.
The War on Poverty, however, got us such things as urban eyesores for housing complexes from the Model Cities Program, which would tend to be very Soviet in design and capability, and remove the ability of poor people to actually *own* their own residences. And for all the money put *into* education, the actual reading rates of children remained steady from 1958 when Johnny couldn't read to this very day. Much in the way of 'feel goodism' but little in the way of actual results. And while Food Stamps may have served some immediate need, their long term goal has been to use up over-produced food by US agriculture and distribute it via Federal means... while the old idea of giving a tax break and letting companies and charities work out these things was bypassed. Can't have progress without a large Federal Program donchyaknow? Such things as 'Community Action Agencies' were finally replaced with Block Grants so as to get the Federal middle-man out of the equation, to a greater or lesser extent, but in conception it was yet another 'top down' idea of how to impose Federal oversight in things it had no role in.
Now you can't have a Federally Funded Great Society without huge bureaucracies to intrude into area of medicine, which was done with Medicare. The outlook of helping older Americans get 'affordable medical care' included forms to be filled out in triplicate, a huge bureaucracy, and something known as an additional 'entitlement'. Over time the older population of the US has not looked to their own resources to take care of themselves, for good and ill, but have depended upon the largess of the working taxpayers to get these medical goodies. One of the larger problems with this has been the fact that companies realized that they can start over-charging, increasing their fees and generally ensure a steadily increasing cash flow from Federal payments even with a 'set cost adjustment'. This is done by the entire industry raising prices for goods and services, which then requires the Federal Government to RESPOND by increasing payments above and beyond the rate of inflation. Added into this was the Welfare portion for medical assistance, known as Medicaid, which has its own problems on payment, increasing costs and Federal adjustments.
Out of the Great Society came the National Endowment for the Arts and the Humanities, which were meant to get the poor starving artists and writers and such from the 'down and outs' and make socially relevant pieces to 'uplift society'. Today, of course, we get to see religious icons with dung on them as a result... somehow that does not seem to be so socially uplifting. Why a Free People need to give money to artists and such is beyond me. Added into this was the Corporation for Public Broadcasting which has gone from wonderful and basic education programs for children to empowering all sorts of leftist non-sense via news and opinion shows and, generally, disenfranchise segments of society that are just not seen as holding to a Leftist outlook. Throw into this all sorts of 'cultural centers' and one begins to get the idea that Federal Bureaucratic Culture is the goal of these things and *not* actually expanding the sphere of Citizen interaction.
Lest we forget the Urban Mass Transit Authority started and continued the process of removing trolleys from Cities and replacing them with diesel buses. Yes, lovely and generally quiet trolleys with regular service and distributed pollution at electrical generation power plants was changed over to buses and the result was increasing smog as the buses were slow, the routes were unfathomable and navigating such systems impossible for anyone who could buy a car. Which is why even poor folks started to buy cars.
About the only good ideas from the Great Society, beyond the Civil Rights bills, were such things as traffic safety, environmental clean-up, fair labeling of foods and a few areas that are, in truth, things that the Federal Government can point to as actual, real things given to them in the Constitution to do. They ensure that Citizens be informed about those things that they eat are safe and open up the marketplace from advertising designed to disguise product drawbacks and flaws. And cross-State environment is the purview of the Federal Government, although having to work with States to get things done is still necessary.
We haven't even GOTTEN to Vietnam, yet!
And that is a telling reminder of how Democrats look at conflict and warfare: they 'micromanage'. President Kennedy didn't really like the Diem government in South Viet Nam and made it known that nothing would be done to protect him. So when rebels found and assassinated Mr. Diem, that was actually something an American Administration was willing to put up with: the removal of a duly elected leader of an Ally because the President did not like him. After the assassination of President Kennedy, LBJ opened up the war and committed more and more forces to it early on. Going from small-scale counter-insurgency to large scale warfare against an enemy was seen as a change in tactics, not strategy. While some of that was necessary, the overall effect was one that did not lead to the defining moment that should come in warfare when large scale escalation begins: you are no longer looking to remove an insurgency, but remove the Nation supplying it.
The Johnson Administration then started to move from escalation to attrition, without addressing the actual enemies and how to deal with them and preferred that the war itself still be considered some sort of counter-insurgency effort. Interdiction of supply routes from the air is harassment at best, and limited by the terrain and cover of the region. Defoliation is a brute force method of trying to deny territory instead of actually capturing it, holding it and performing full-scale closure of supply routes. President Johnson had begun to have the actual direction of operations move out of the field and up the chain of command until it reached very high into the Administration. Even the great successes of actually destroying entire North Vietnamese Military build-ups and armies, after the successful removal of the Viet Cong, had never been played up nor analyzed for their long term effects because those that would need to do that were *running the war*. High level strategic impacts upon the actual suppliers of weapons and war material could not be taken in, analyzed, and reviewed for their wider impact in the Cold War. The highly detrimental effects of having to totally resupply the North Vietnamese three if not four times upon the USSR was never done. Instead the war was fought in the 'living rooms of America' from the White House.
Far be it from me to say that I am given great heartening by the ability of one of the most astute politicians of his era, which LBJ *was* to actually come to terms with a far off proxy war and botch it so badly on the home front. That disillusionment that he suffered was a stark realization of the limitations of the Power of the Presidency and that delegating such powers is *necessary* in wartime. Not only was the actual military situation never properly addressed and reviewed, but the longer term interests of the US in the Cold War were harshly impacted because no one had time to see what the effects on the USSR were. The further loss of the Democratic Party to the Left and the slow removal of the 'National Security' contingent started to change US Politics and put in-place an anti-American attitude that made the old Isolationism seem benign in retrospect.
Next up is the Carter Administration.
Now, Mr. Carter had served in the 'Silent Service' with nuclear subs, which was a very key part of the strategic outlook of the late 1970's. That said, Mr. Carter served in the era with a whole host of terms associated with it: stagflation, climbing interest rates, rising unemployment, 'put on a sweater', 'malaise', Billy Carter, New York City bankruptcy, 1979 Energy Crisis, canceling the B-1 Bomber, Iranian Revolution, Embassy Hostage Crisis, the 'Rose Garden Strategy', Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan, the Carter Doctrine for the Persian Gulf, The Ogaden War, Moscow Olympics boycott, Sandanistas in Nicaragua, Panama Canal Treaties, the botched hostage rescue, and disco with 'leisure suits'. Does this, perhaps, ring a bell or two with people?
And to deal with these he sought MORE Federal Bureaucracy: Dept. of Energy, doing a two-fer to make two departments from one in the form of the Dept. of Education and the Dept. of Health and Human Services. This is not to say it was *all* bad during the Carter Administration! The Israeli-Egyptian Camp David Peace is still the major centerpiece of this noxious bouquet, along with a fine sprinkling of Federal deregulation of the airlines, trucking, oil, finance and other industries. The creation of the Rapid Deployment Force was a first attempt to try and understand the needs of the blossoming of Soviet expansion on a global basis, although President Carter couldn't place the fact that moving from 'containment' to 'castigating the USSR for human rights abuses' was seen as a softening of the US stance towards the USSR. President Carter would also be the first President to send money to the Islamist rebels in Afghanistan and start to make them a cohesive force, which would later divide and subdivide into much of the noxious mess that had to be cleaned up there after 9/11.
In full tally President Carter tried to move from an assertive stance in US Foreign Policy to one of protecting the oil interests and generally not much else. The problems in the military would need to be addressed by the Reagan Administration, because such things as equipment repair and replacement had not actually been properly funded under the Carter Administration and morale was *still* recovering from Vietnam. This inability to actually confront dangers abroad, look towards government bureaucracy in the energy field as a way to get out of the 'energy crisis', and by being unwilling to run a tight fiscal policy all led to an interlocking set of pieces by the government that started a downward spiral both in capability and National outlook. Further, by not trying to find and support non-religious, Nationalist elements in Pakistan and Afghanistan, the poison of distributed non-State terrorism was given a huge boost. Funding that went to Afghanistan would soon lead to the first true Transnational Terrorist organizations that had a global view and outlook. Undermining defense posture and Cold War outlook put regimes at peril on a global basis to a Communist System that was expanding as it had a method to defeat the US via Proxy War.
And it must be mentioned that the entire attack on the US Embassy was an Act of War. To which President Carter never responded, nor any President thereafter.
In all, I find this a less than heartening background to giving the Democrats full reign of power.
And President Clinton, although having to suffer with a divided Congress, did get a couple of years in which he could have enacted his 'magic' at the start of his term. Here, again, we get micromanagement of 'problems' that was the hallmark of LBJ in Vietnam and with the Great Society, and with Carter in trying to solve the energy crisis via a new bureaucracy and make two Federal Bureaucracies from one so as to increase overhead. This did not stop with President Clinton who gave us programs large and small: the Family and Medical Leave Act, "Don't Ask, Don't Tell", enacting NAFTA, the Brady Bill, the Earned Income Tax Credit, "Hillarycare", and a tax hike. All of THAT in four years.
What we also got was something called 'The Peace Dividend'. With the end of the Cold War there was the attitude that the US would not need as much in the way of military forces and would concentrate on a 'Two War' basis for military planning: being able to fight two simultaneous small wars that are geographically separated. That being the outlook, one must actually *maintain* the military forces that are left and by the end of the Clinton Administration this was no longer being done, as witness the problem with Army Readiness due to overextended Peacekeeping missions and two units dropping to the lowest readiness since the Vietnam war. The long list of 'Peacekeeping missions' gives one pause on to exactly how you can have a 'Peace Dividend': Mogadishu, Bosnia, Kosovo, Haiti, Missile attacks against Afghanistan and Sudan, Operation Desert Fox.
Direct attacks upon the United States and its Armed Forces by terrorists, however, were not seen as illegitimate Acts of War, but mere criminal problems. Thus the Nation would not respond to such acts even when they hit actual US soil and Sovereign Embassies, nor seek reprisals to end those that attack US Armed Forces: 1993 Mir Aimal Kansi killing of CIA employees in Virginia, 1993 Riyadh residential compound attack, 1993 World Trade Center bombing orchestrated to include multiple terrorist organizations, 1993 Bombing of a US Diplomatic Convoy in Gaza, 1995 Karachi Embassy attack, 1996 Khobar Towers bombing, 1996/97 Leavenworth Letter bombs, 1997 Karachi UTP murders, 1998 African Embassy bombings, 2000 USS Cole bombing.
Mind you these are the ones that succeeded, others point to long lasting terrorist campaigns aimed at the US which should have served as sharp reminders to the Clinton Administration:
1993 NYC Landmarks bombing plot orchestrated by Omar Abdel-Rahman from a US jail, 1995 Oplan Bojinka, 2000 foiled plot against USS The Sullivans which was *before* the USS Cole bombing, 2000 Millennium attack.
I am pretty sure that the President remained as Commander in Chief throughout all of this and did not do very much at all to respond to direct attacks upon the Nation, its Sovereign Territory, diplomatic personnel and military personnel, and attendant families of US personnel abroad in service to the Federal Government. So where was he in defining the threat against the US and its People? Because all of those are Acts of War and he was the Commander in Chief.
Looking at the attitudes of many on the Democratic side on actually *having* a Foreign Policy and addressing terrorism as Acts of War leaves very, very, very little for encouragement. And one can be sure that *any* Democratic President will try to get at least one or two huge Federal Programs started, increase taxes and then cite the growing 'gap' between rich and poor based on such taxation. The Democratic Party needs a major 'cluebat' applied to it for a year or two to see if ANYONE in it can actually get a clue and stand up for the Nation as a whole, not just parts of it they hope to combine to some minimal 'majority' while turning off the actual majority from all political intercourse.
Let me know if you see any of those around.
Because the current ones don't seem to have any message to give and they seem to be fully intent on blaming *everyone* for the problems of the Nation.
And I doubt that they can get a clue *to* save themselves, either.
24 January 2007
My thanks to Serendip at Bereft for taking some of my commentary and adding it into a post! Truly I do think that others make more of my words than I do... Be that as it may, I will send them along here and hope that they give some edification to those readers that wander by. As usual all spelling and syntax left intact to show the incapacity of the writer and editor... namely myself:
Doing nothing in the Middle East, save strive for economic 'stability' was a goal of the 'Realists' in foreign policy, and got us the mess of radical islam, non-Nation State terrorism that cannot be addressed by mere military means of the Union and a stasis that has not allowed vital demographic shifts to take place in that region. These were the exact same folks who did not want to fix the problems caused by the original drafting of National boundaries after WWI and left the place in a metastable condition for decades. Something that all the wonderful 'post-war analysts' and those decrying same have *missed* in their efforts to exhort sloth in foreign policy and do-nothing-ism. Considering that all these fine folks CAUSED the problems by not adhering to the original outlines after WWI, allowing unstable regions to be pushed together, backed autocrats and aristocrats tied to extremists in religion... actually doing nothing *now* is a positive guarantee of even worse things than a mere 3,000 dead one bright September morn.Truly, nothing I haven't said before, but maybe a bit better this time around... there are times when I really do think the Nation has lost its character and is, instead, just run by a bunch of *characters*.
The last time America ran from her responsibilities to an Ally, millions died. Well, it is a small world now and there is no place to run, no place to hide and 'lets all get along together'ism doesn't work too well when some folks not only *don't* want to get along together, but would prefer you in a non-free state of being or just plain dead. The flaccid response of the intellectual elite in the West is appalling. Unwilling to stand up for personal freedom and liberty, they cannot form a rational basis for having *rights*. Worse are those that will place *anything* above fighting... which means slavery as that, too, comes before fighting when that is placed dead last. If you don't want to be enslaved that means you must be willing to fight before that, somewhere, sometime. And if you do *that* then criticizing people who put it a bit higher on the scale of things they will not submit to is being morally relative and disingenuous, both. Most un-PC to make that distinction as all value systems should be equal in that conception... and if they *aren't* then a good reason for valuing one higher than another needs be put forth. And that means one must have a *bias* in outlook. I am personally biased for civilization, the universal rights of man to be free and the opposition of Empire wherever it tries to stand up as it is *always* the enemy of Liberty.When you remove a tyrant you stick around to help people up out of the chaos that results and get them able to stand on their own two feet to handle things. That can take a fair while. Maybe, someday, Germany will finally feel ready to do that as Japan is now.
Took a fair bit after the initial war in the Philippines in 1901 to get the worst of the insurgency beaten back, there. A few global phenomena like world wars, depression and having to recapture the place delayed things a bit but they finally did ask us to leave... and we did. The volcanic explosion was *their problem* then, but we stood ready to help those we had helped stand up to be Free. Not a great record that, but far better than the Wilsonian adventure in Haiti, which proved to be a fruitless, feckless nightmare due to the US political class. The UN hasn't done much in Kosovo since 1999... mind you Afghanistan and Iraq have both been freed, put together constitutions and held free elections while Kosovo has just stagnated. But that, too, was a Wilsonian 'good idea' by the Left.
As was Somalia until folks started to get killed. Can't say I think much of Reagan for bugging out of Lebanon, either, when Hezbollah backed by Syria and Iran had only bombed the US Embassy once and then the Marine Barracks... they bombed the Embassy again as a reminder they were still there afterwards. Running has just worked out so well! 300,000 Shia Iraqi dead because Bush 41 could not keep a promise to anyone there.No, saying it is all a mess and only the fault of 5 or 6 generations of diplomats doesn't let this generation escape the fact that if it does *nothing* then we hand our children a worse world and one that has liberty and freedom threatened more... and with less will to fight the enemies of it.
We sorrow over those that we lose in such fights, but to then feed those we save from the boot of the tyrant and throw them into the mouth of the maelstrom of chaos is dishonorable. We are scratched! The pain! And then millions die when we let go of those lifted up from such... and Allies betrayed because we are scratched. We have a lot of bad choices in this world and empowering those seeking empire is the worst of all.Time to stop running. Put paid to the butcher now. For this one will not be stopped by seas nor armies nor anything save death.