Re: Ask The Mineshaft: Truth From Power

1

"Who does your hair?"


Posted by: slolernr | Link to this comment | 03-27-08 10:21 PM
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2

How's Cass in bed?


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 03-27-08 10:21 PM
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Avoid anything about the "monster" stuff; it won't be very interesting. I'd just let her ramble about foreign policy for a while, with a few questions about what sort of things college students can do (or plan to do) if they're interested in conflict and human rights issues.


Posted by: Matt F | Link to this comment | 03-27-08 10:23 PM
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What specific actions can the next President take to restore America's international credibility?


Posted by: slolernr | Link to this comment | 03-27-08 10:25 PM
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Or, "What's should the threshold for humanitarian intervention be?"


Posted by: Matt F | Link to this comment | 03-27-08 10:28 PM
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Sorry, 1 should have been "Hey, who cuts your hair?"


Posted by: slolernr | Link to this comment | 03-27-08 10:28 PM
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7

What's your favorite energy drink?

If you were Charlize Theron in a ugly makeup what kind of ball would you go to?

What kind of mash is a graveyard smash?

Is there a kind of truck with enormous tires that you're particularly fond of? How should I refer to that truck?

I can't quite remember, what's the latin for an omen or portent?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-27-08 10:28 PM
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There are going to be helpful suggestions too, right?


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 03-27-08 10:31 PM
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9

Did you really want to bed my friend F, or was he just trying to impress me by telling me that?


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 03-27-08 10:33 PM
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10

Pop quiz, hotshot: Canada invades Iceland, starts moving nukes into Rejkjavik. The Cook Islands say invade, but Laos counsels restraint. What do you do?!?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-27-08 10:34 PM
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I'd like to ask her to define "humanitarian hawk." Dual emphasis on both "humanitarian" and "hawk."


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 03-27-08 10:35 PM
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Alternatively, you could ask her about the damage the Saddam prosecution did to the precedents established by the milosevic trial, and whether Chomsky is a big ol' douchey douche or just a douche or an excellent linguist.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-27-08 10:35 PM
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I object to seven. There's no suggestion in the song that a graveyard smash is a kind of mash. It is merely asserted that there was a particular mash, and that mash was also a graveyard smash. But the coincidence could have been entirely accidental.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 03-27-08 10:36 PM
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Is unilateral humanitarian intervention ever legitimate? Apart from questions of legitimacy, is it ever a good idea? Under what circumstances?

Who, apart from the UN Security Council, ought to be able to confer legitimacy on a humanitarian intervention? NATO? OAS? ASEAN? West African Union? GCC? EU?

What do you think of the proposal, for which John McCain has voiced support, of a League of Democracies that would organize collective security without the participation of authoritarian countries, including China?


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 03-27-08 10:39 PM
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13: the "it" referenced as "a graveyard smash" is clearly the monster mash of the previous line. A monster mash does therefore onstitute a correct answer to the question. Certainly, if she had a different sort of mash to propose for graveyard smashiness I'd be interested to hear her justification.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-27-08 10:40 PM
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How do I patch KDE2 under FreeBSD?


Posted by: peter | Link to this comment | 03-27-08 10:40 PM
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17

"What's your real last name?"


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-27-08 10:40 PM
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18

How long until we put boots on the ground in Sudan?


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 03-27-08 10:41 PM
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A train leaves Chicago at six pm traveling 43 miles an hour. Your career as a campaign official is on it. How long until you are rehabilitated in the eyes of the party?


Posted by: TJ | Link to this comment | 03-27-08 10:42 PM
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20

Did you ever blow Cass and realize that he had, you know, been with Nussbaum since his last shower?


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 03-27-08 10:42 PM
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21

Are you any relation to Cat?


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 03-27-08 10:42 PM
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22

Would it be awesome to invade the moon? What if the moon men were, like, starving Pia Zadora?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-27-08 10:42 PM
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23

Abnormally Ambitious Woman's Ball was Halle Berry in ugly makeup. And it was more like sweaty makeup.


Posted by: Auto-banned | Link to this comment | 03-27-08 10:42 PM
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23: I wondered that, but forged ahead, in a spirit of American exceptionalism.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-27-08 10:43 PM
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So, is it true what they say about Irish men? Yeah, I thought so.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 03-27-08 10:44 PM
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I don't deny that the graveyard smash and the monster mash are one in number, Sifu. What I deny is that it's clear that graveyard smashes are kinds of mashes. Remember, you used the indefinite article ("what kind of mash is a graveyard smash?" (Sifu Tweety, comment #7 on unfogged thread "Ask The Mineshaft: Truth From Power; emphasis added). The particular graveyard smash in the song happened also to be a mash, and therefore a particular kind of mash, and that kind was: monster mash. But there's no suggestion that it was a monster mash qua graveyard smash.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 03-27-08 10:44 PM
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27

26 to 15, obviously.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 03-27-08 10:45 PM
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28

Have you ever had a moffle? If so, what toppings did you put on it?


Posted by: Gaijin Biker | Link to this comment | 03-27-08 10:45 PM
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29

If you had a daughter, would you name her 'Flower,' just for fun?


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 03-27-08 10:45 PM
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30

Fleur Peur!

Flower Fear!


Posted by: peter | Link to this comment | 03-27-08 10:46 PM
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31

What is the dumbest joke anyone has ever made about your name? (no offense to #28.)


Posted by: Gaijin Biker | Link to this comment | 03-27-08 10:46 PM
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32

I want a moffle.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 03-27-08 10:46 PM
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33

29 I sure would.


Posted by: TJ | Link to this comment | 03-27-08 10:46 PM
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Re #31: Oops, no offense to #29. #28 was me. (No offense to me either, though.)


Posted by: Gaijin Biker | Link to this comment | 03-27-08 10:47 PM
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26: I could have said "what kind of mash has been shown to be a graveyard smash under the right set of circumstances?", but I think that sort of nuance gets lost when you're discussing foreign policy in a campaign, and I'd rather she navigate the question as I anticipate John McCain will be asking it.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-27-08 10:47 PM
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36

Canada invades Iceland, starts moving nukes into Rejkjavik.

Oh, you and your kooky counter-factuals. There are actually more people of Icelandic origin in Winnipeg than in Iceland itself, and no talk of going nuclear at either end.

I once had an Icelandic room-mate who once made a vinaterta for my family, which was very delicious indeed. Her brother was a bit of a hockey goon.


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 03-27-08 10:47 PM
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37

I am planning to buy a moffle maker and start making moffles.


Posted by: Gaijin Biker | Link to this comment | 03-27-08 10:47 PM
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38

"Would you like to play a game of chess?"


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 03-27-08 10:48 PM
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39

May I entreat my lady to play at whist?


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 03-27-08 10:49 PM
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40

Would you appear in a pornographic film, if, by doing so, you could stop the killing in Darfur for one week? How about for one day? For one hour? What? Still thinking about it? But you would ask 18-year-old soldiers to sacrifice their lives for humanitarian interventions? OK, good. So what if the film involved ass-to-mouth?


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 03-27-08 10:49 PM
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36: that's how they get you, my poor naive sister from the north. Vinaterta is the appetizer, vast stretches of countryside blasted into glassy uninhabitability is the dessert. The entree is, I assume, some kind of fish.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-27-08 10:49 PM
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39 wins, and does anyone else think that Knecht is showing himself a bit crasser than usual?


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 03-27-08 10:50 PM
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43

In the 90's, were you a big fan of C&C Music Factory?


Posted by: Gaijin Biker | Link to this comment | 03-27-08 10:50 PM
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44

"when did you start working for Raila Odinga?"

"oh, then, what do you think of Raila Odinga, the pride of us Luos? Great leader or greatest leader?"

"why don't you want to talk to me? is it cos I'm black?"


Posted by: peter | Link to this comment | 03-27-08 10:51 PM
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45

Fleur's asleep, you see. At least I hope she is.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 03-27-08 10:51 PM
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46

"Is my wife asleep? How do you know?"


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-27-08 10:52 PM
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47

30 to 45


Posted by: peter | Link to this comment | 03-27-08 10:52 PM
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48

When you went out drinking in college, did you or your friends ever say anything like, "Absolut corrupts Power absolutely"?


Posted by: Gaijin Biker | Link to this comment | 03-27-08 10:53 PM
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49

How do you feel about the fact that you need to pose in a sleek dress in Men's Vogue for people to start paying attention to your ideas?


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 03-27-08 10:54 PM
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50

If you could wipe a single country off the face of the earth, which one would it be?


Posted by: Gaijin Biker | Link to this comment | 03-27-08 10:54 PM
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51

Do you read Unfogged?


Posted by: Gaijin Biker | Link to this comment | 03-27-08 10:55 PM
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52

49: She talked about her ideas in that article?


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 03-27-08 10:56 PM
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53

You think I read it?


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 03-27-08 10:57 PM
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51 should really be "what pseudonym do you comment under at Unfogged?"


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 03-27-08 10:57 PM
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55

Do you wear makeup?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-27-08 10:58 PM
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56

1. "How worried should we be about a potential Kurdistan?"

2. "To what extent are we staying in Iraq lest some other significant power come in and fill the vacuum?"


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 03-27-08 10:58 PM
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57

"Is there any way for a man today to wear a fedora without looking toolish?"


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 03-27-08 10:58 PM
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58

When do we get to invade and occupy Canada?


Posted by: fnook | Link to this comment | 03-27-08 10:59 PM
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59

If the EU was disposed to let in Turkey, should it refuse to do so until Turkey admits responsibility for the Armenian genocide?

Americans' seemingly insatiable desire for Irish tchotchkes (claddagh rings, reproductions of the Blarney Stone, statuettes of harps made from compressed peat): weird in a good way or weird in a bad way?


Posted by: ixnaythemetier | Link to this comment | 03-27-08 11:00 PM
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41: Yeah but, Sifu, she gave me those round knitting needles and the wool, and taught me how to make those hardy but brightly-patterned sweaters. Wherein lies the evil, I ask you?


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 03-27-08 11:01 PM
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60: sweaters, or a-bomb cozies? Worth asking.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-27-08 11:03 PM
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62

Why do the footnotes in chapter four of the paperback edition of A Problem From Hell skip from 10 to 12?


Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 03-27-08 11:21 PM
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63

Which Tom Clancy film does she most admire: Hunt for Red October or Clear and Present Danger?

Follow up, Miss Power:if an astroid were, an i am not suggesting it is, heading towards earth at a catastrophic heading, would you prefer to send Bruce Wlilis and his band of merry oil-men or Robert Duval and the girl who played the NAtional Security Attache during the final years of The Wsst Wing?


Posted by: bend | Link to this comment | 03-27-08 11:39 PM
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8: There are going to be helpful suggestions too, right?

Worst interview question, ever.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-27-08 11:48 PM
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65

54: NOT TELLIN'


Posted by: OPINIONATED FORMER OBAMA ADVISOR | Link to this comment | 03-27-08 11:52 PM
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66

21, but for Tyrone, Junior or Senior.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 03-27-08 11:53 PM
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67

65: Your pseud slip is showing.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-27-08 11:57 PM
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68

If you were going to start your own line of suits, what would you call it?


Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 12:19 AM
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69

Are you my mother?


Posted by: Max Power | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 12:19 AM
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70

If someone would have asked a living Rafael Lemkin how many orgasms he valued a sense of self-righteousness at, what would he have said?


Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 12:22 AM
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OT, This surprised me:

[Google CEO Eric] Schmidt also received $480,561 in 2007, including $478,662 in expenses incurred by Google mostly for Schmidt's personal security.

Is it normal for a major company to spend almost half a million bucks a year to provide "personal security" for their CEO? How many people out there are trying to kill or kidnap Schmidt? And how much can it really cost to stop them?

Ask Power that, why don't you.


Posted by: Gaijin Biker | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 2:30 AM
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Ooh, ooh, I've got a good question:

"What do you think would happen if Taiwan declared its independence from China right now, while the Chinese government is determined to behave itself during the run-up to the Beijing Olympics? Wouldn't China be unable to do anything serious about it?"

Seriously, wouldn't that be cool?


Posted by: Gaijin Biker | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 2:38 AM
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1. Do what, specifically in Darfur? Isn't it the height of irresponsibility to demand non-specific "action"?

2. Is "do something" any more of a plan in Darfur than it was in Iraq? Isn't the assumption that the whys, wherefores and logistics can be left to the professional military men a huge abrogation of responsibility?

3. Is "get tough with Khartoum" a plan either? Why is the making of empty threats considered a sensible substitute for diplomacy for states that we don't like?

4. Isn't Alan Kuperman right that "provoke a genocide so that the USA will intervene and give you an independent state" is now a major tactic of every nationalist movement in the developing world, no matter how unrepresentative of their population?

5. Have ICJ war crimes indictments helped or hindered matters in Northern Uganda? Isn't there good reason to believe that the whole post-Yugoslavia international justice system has been misdesigned?

6. Isn't any weakening of the international law prohibition on wars of aggression a de facto policy of American unilateralism and how can you be so sure that the future model is going to look more like Sierra Leone than Iraq?

7. Would you agree that Operation Turquoise, which was badly thought out, badly executed, totally counterproductive and had much more to do with domestic political priorities than genuine humanitarian concern, was actually very typical of real-world humanitarian interventions?

8. Why (oh fucking why) do you think that wars in the future will be commanded by people like Samantha Power rather than people like George W Bush? Why are you assuming that large states will use their military power based on the general interest and on level-headed factual assessments, rather than short term political considerations and on the normal pathologies of bellicose "intelligence" methods? We have had nearly three thousand years since Plato first suggested the rule of philosopher-kings to realise that it isn't going to happen, why the fuck aren't you learning?

9. A "graveyard smash" simply means "a record or dance that was a smash hit in the graveyard", doesn't it?


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 3:45 AM
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1. As an immigrant worker yourself, how have you expressed your solidarity with undocumented immigrant workers who have suffered so much at the hands of the INS, and now ICE?

2. As a sometime journalist for US publications which advance an aggressively nationalist, pro-business line, while simultaneously trumpeting their "objectivity", do you feel that you were complicit in the erosion of substantive political discourse in this country?

3. If your grad students unionized and went on strike, would you cross their picket lines?

4. If you and Lawrence Summers and a large carving fork were locked in a room together, would you grab the carving fork, and commence to chasing Summers around the room while repeatedly stabbing him in the buttocks and yelling "Whose got the innate ability now, Larry?"


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 5:29 AM
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75

"Who's" obviously.


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 5:34 AM
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73: D-squared lucidly states the brief for the opposition, as usual. I don't think, however, that you can blame Samantha Power for (4). Aggrieved minorities and overmatched belligerents have been raising the specter of humanitarian catastrophes to goad the U.S. into intervention since long before she was born (the alleged rape of Belgian nuns in 1914, etc.), and anyway, the probability of the U.S. intervening directly to stop an actual genocide is something like one in eight, going on recent evidence, so Kuperman's nationalist schemer would be too clever by half.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 5:51 AM
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FWIW, I think that passionate advocates of humanitarian intervention like Samantha Power play a valuable role in our discourse, even if, like D-Squared, I'm not sure I want them making our foreign policy, and as long as they are extra-vigilant about getting off the boat when their humanitarian motives are hijacked for cynical ends (I'm looking at you, Kanan Makiya).

To the extent that the Powers of the world can succeed in making something like a permanent, securely funded UN Peacekeeping Brigade a reality, we would have a lot to thank them for. I'm not holding my breath or anything, mind you.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 5:58 AM
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78

Do you expect to have a place in Obama's cabinet?


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 6:14 AM
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i know nothing about Iraq or Power, just thought always that if shiya and sunni Iraqis can't live peacefully in one country may be they need to be separated, that Iraq would be better off turning into three independent states, kurdish including, or join whatever state they would like to join, like Kurds may join to Turkey or shia Iraqis to Iran for example, sure through self-determination plebiscite like. The UN could supervise fair and just divide between them of their share of the national resources etc
just curious if Obama wins and Power'd be his foreign adviser, how would she feel about this?
impossible, stupid, rational


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 6:23 AM
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Well, to begin with I feel safe in responding that it's one question per customer, and so-called "Dsquared" and so-called "Minneapolitan" can go fuck themselves. Who do they think they are, anyway?

In due time 'll respond more fully to the serious questions by serious people.


Posted by: Samantha Power | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 6:35 AM
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Pop quiz, hotshot: Canada invades Iceland, starts moving nukes into Rejkjavik.

Sifu is so ignorant. Canada is planning to invade Denmark, in defensive of the oppressed Canucks of Hans Island.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 6:36 AM
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76: The Belgian nuns were asking for it.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 6:44 AM
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83

First vinaterta, then Hákarl


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 6:51 AM
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84

OK, for powers: What does Sadr mean when he says that the ceasefire is still in effect?


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 6:53 AM
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85

84: The moral high ground is an excellent firing position, with superb observation and command over the battlefield.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 7:04 AM
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More seriously (new thread?): This seems to have been a go for broke gamble for Maliki, and so far it looks like he's losing. (I.E., it's a standoff, so he loses). So the U.S. is in the position of having to either increase its military involvement or start all over from scratch. Increased military involvement could include the destruction of Sadr's home base from the air -- otherwise it will cost a lot of American casualties.

So this completely discredits the last 8 months of Bush administration propaganda. (Specifically, it should end Fred Kagan's career: a few days ago he proclaimed that the Iraq civil war is over.)

So my question is: will the media report what actually happened? Will the Democratic candidates finally go on the attack, or will they continue to be "serious" and mumble thoughtfully? This looks like a disaster to me, and it should be hung on Bush. Will that happen?

Cheney talked to Maliki a few days before this started. Did he tell him to go ahead? Was this Cheney's idea in the first place? Bush has spoken supportively of the attack. Will he be allowed to back out?


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 7:27 AM
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as long as they are extra-vigilant about getting off the boat when their humanitarian motives are hijacked for cynical ends

If they did that they'd need to be champion fucking swimmers.


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 7:28 AM
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Specifically, it should end Fred Kagan's career: a few days ago he proclaimed that the Iraq civil war is over.

How drunk are you? If "should" made a difference, Kagan would lack teeth, functioning knees, and entrance into the circles of the Great and the Good. And yet.... For gawd's sake, the Democrats can't even turn the neocon label into a smear; killing an actual neocon's career is well-neigh impossible.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 7:34 AM
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Iraqi generals had been openly threatening something like this well before the Cheneygram. (And wouldn't you want to send one of them to your worst enemy?)

I'm going for the overdetermined mess option; it's very reliable. Maliki/SCIRI/Dawa wanted to a) bash the next door gang, b) impress the US, possibly c) prevent elections they would lose, and possibly d) get in a big enough fight to force the US to back them up. Further, they had the opportunity - not having to fight the Sunni insurgents, they had spare thugs. Given the various signs of the deal with the Sunni breaking down, they might not have them for much longer, and so they had a time factor to think of.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 7:35 AM
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Specifically, it should end Fred Kagan's career

Oh, Emerson, how you do crack me up. When has being wrong about every goddamned thing under the sun ever hurt one of those clowns' careers?


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 7:37 AM
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Tim-pwned!


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 7:37 AM
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Y'all have noticed that Dan Fucking Senor is sidling back into the public square? Frankly, seeing as he was the CPA's propagandist and press spokesman, the guy who encouraged Bremer to go after Sadr in the spring of 2004 (a decision beaten for stupidity only by invading in the first place), the guy who actually said "we're listening to the silent majority" AND a foreign policy adviser to the Rudy Giuliani campaign, the biggest political fiasco in recent US history, you'd think he'd be like the scorched organic matter on the surface of a meteorite; more than toasted.

But no; neocons survive political cataclysms like C.radiodurans survives irradiation.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 7:38 AM
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So my question is: will the media report what actually happened? Will the Democratic candidates finally go on the attack, or will they continue to be "serious" and mumble thoughtfully? This looks like a disaster to me, and it should be hung on Bush. Will that happen?

As far as I can tell, the only metrics Americans really care about is (1) how many American troops are being killed, and (2) how much they hear about it on the news. The details of power struggles within Iraqi society are completely lost on most voters, who probably couldn't tell the difference between Sunni and Shiite, much less between the Mahdi army and the Badr brigade. Anyone paying attention has known for months now that the surge is a complete failure; I don't think this extra piling-on is going to convince anyone else. It's all about the number of (American) bodies, and the amount of time they get on TV.

I'm interested in people like Power, and in particular what kinds of "good wars" they want to kill people for in the future. We've just reached the point where "serious, respectable" opinion has decided that the war in Iraq is a pointless failure, and that America now has to find some long and torturous way of withdrawing while simultaneously making it look like it's not actually withdrawing. I'm waiting to see how long it's going to take for America's think tank class to finally get there on Afghanistan (and then wait for the ten-plus years it'll take to stop pointlessly killing people in Afghanistan while the US pretends it isn't withdrawing from Afghanistan).


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 7:43 AM
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Kagan made his statement on national TV about a day before the civil war started.

We're talking about he fall election as though the U.S. were redeemable. If even this can't break the Bush media monopoly, who cares whether Hillary or Obama is elected? They'll be playing on the same playing field, and neither one of them has absolutely rejected the neocon line.

If the Democrats are still mumbling and tweaking a week from not, who cares if they win? They have to hang this on Bush and Cheney and make a lot of loud noises.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 7:46 AM
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Kagan made his statement on national TV about a day before the civil war started.

Yeah, but what percentage of Americans have even the faintest idea who Fred Kagan is? Four? Five?


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 7:50 AM
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Totally off-topic: every so often I mention that Rhode Island is far more fucked-up than anyone outside it would imagine given its overwhelmingly Democratic makeup. Example. To distract from the fact that the state's budget has imploded - after years and years of tax cuts for the rich - our GOP governor has signed an executive order basically instructing the state police to inspect everyone they stop for their immigration status, and to round up any undocumented immigrants they find in the process. The article does the standard "quote from a supporter, quote from an opponent" thing; in Rhode Island, both the immigrants-rights guy and the crazy string-up-the-messicans yahoo are Democrats.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 7:55 AM
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Y'all have noticed that Dan Fucking Senor is sidling back into the public square?

Oh, he'll continue to coast merrily along. It helps to be married to a CNN anchor. Be sure to remember who her husband is when Campbell Brown says:

It's difficult to say that you're against the war and at the same time not say that you're against the troops

or

General David Petraeus made his reputation taking on insurgents in Iraq. But when he came to Capitol Hill in September, he was confronted by American insurgents, a liberal anti-war group called MoveOn.org

Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 7:57 AM
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They'll be playing on the same playing field, and neither one of them has absolutely rejected the neocon line.

Forget "reject[ing] the neocon line." They should be rejecting the neocons. If not the candidates--and I can understand why they, and particularly Obama, can't--then the Democratic party apparatchicks. If the conservatives can turn "liberal" or "left" into a swear word, how hard can it be to do the same to "neocon." Where is the fucking McCain article about McCain and the "N-word"? (Actually, there is probably a better way to phrase that.)


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 7:58 AM
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killing an actual neocon's career is well-neigh impossible.

I'd say well-oink impossible, but that's just me.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 8:01 AM
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And now we're (by which I mean, the US is) dropping bombs on Basra, because we have come up with a new method for using airstrikes in urban areas, which really works this time. I still maintain I was correct to give this one the benefit of the doubt, but when these things go to shit, they go all the way to shit.


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 8:06 AM
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96: stras, I also believe that RI is the only state in the northeast to have a law on the books that will automatically criminalize abortion should Roe fall.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 8:10 AM
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It would be much better if the public square was an actual square, you know? So when you caught sight of Dan Senor sidling into it, you could knock him down and mash the fucker's head against one of the Doric colonnades.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 8:12 AM
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100: We're not just dropping bombs on Basra.

U.S. forces in armored vehicles battled Mahdi Army fighters Thursday in the vast Shiite stronghold of Sadr City and military officials said Friday that U.S. aircraft bombed militant positions in the southern city of Basra, as the American role in a campaign against party-backed militias appeared to expand. Iraqi army and police units appeared to be largely holding to the outskirts of the Sadr City fighting, as American troops took the lead. [...]

Several Mahdi Army commanders said they had been fighting U.S. forces for the past three days in Sadr City, engaging Humvees as well as the Strykers. By their account, an Iraqi special forces unit had entered Sadr City from another direction, backed by Americans, but otherwise the fighting had not been with Iraqis.

"If there were no Americans, there would be no fighting," said Abu Mustafa al-Thahabi, 38, a senior Mahdi Army member.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 8:14 AM
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If they did that they'd need to be champion fucking swimmers.

Great, another swimming post.*


(* Great, another swimming post joke.)


Posted by: Robust McManlyPants | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 8:21 AM
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Look, guys, I understand your cynicism about Kagan, but as long as he's taken seriously, we've lost. getting him out of public life wouldn't be sufficient to put US foreign policy on the right track, but it's pretty much necessary.

That's why I've been so suspicious of Obama's "reaching across the line". We should talking about ending a lot of careers and prosecuting those who have committed crimes. Just slotting in new personnel from a slightly different part of the same pool will leave us about where we were. The Iraq War has gone badly enough that there have to be some token substitutions, even from the point of view of the perps. I'm just waiting for McCain to distance himself from Bush while Bush smiles benignly.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 9:01 AM
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Are 1 and 2 in D-squared's 73 supposed to have any resemblance to positions Power has articulated or is she just being addressed as "generic advocate of humanitarian intervention"?


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 9:04 AM
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Specifically to her. She was an early and prominent advocate of "do something".


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 9:10 AM
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getting him out of public life

I'd love to never hear from Kagan again or, better yet, to have him laughed down every time he tries to speak, but I'm not sure what you're proposing here. I mean, the American Enterprise Institute isn't going to expel him, and that's the only real job he has, right? And the national media will never stop parading AEI hacks in front of the cameras to tell America what alternate reality to believe.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 9:12 AM
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96: That's gonna work great until Rhode Island realizes that they, not being ICE or USCIS, can't actual initiate deportation proceedings, so all they'll manage is lots of harassment. The federal government may have 'dropped the ball', but they're sort of necessary to the whole national boundary bit and deporting non-felons is not a priority.

Anyhow, I imagine it's rather fucked up because it's a state that's heavily Catholic, so it's a group that historically identifies with Democrats, but has gotten more loony as it's gotten wealthier, but for whatever contingent reason they haven't left for the Republican party (like a weak Republican presence in the area generally.)

(RI is really white, too. This is like the Smallville public library having terrorism evacuation procedures.)


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 9:12 AM
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And the national media will never stop parading AEI hacks in front of the cameras to tell America what alternate reality to believe.

Recently Ann Coulter has been demoted at least, and O'Reilly and Matthews have been taking some hits (mostly from Olbermann).

If there were any international relations people who are worth a dime, the whole lot of them would be ridiculing Kagan in a loud unanimous chorus, and every time he showed up in public people would be throwing this in his face.

That's not happening, though, as we can see. The problem is that Hillary and Obama get their foreign policy advisers from a group which is not willing to ridicule Kagan . And if Clinton or Obama is elected, their range of possibilities will be defined by the same TV crew, and Kagan is a respected member of that crew.

It's bad enough that people who were wrong in 2002-3 still run the show. But on Tuesday Kaplan assured us with complete confidence that the civil war was over and that people who didn't know that were fools. On Wednesday the civil war blew up, and it seems to be spinning out of control. How much more decisively can you be discredited?


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 9:28 AM
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110: Coulter was always little more than a freak show and O'Reilly and Matthews aren't foreign policy anythings, they're just cable TV hosts. The three of them occupy very different positions in the political ecosystem than think tank residents like Kagan.

Hillary and Obama get their foreign policy advisers from a group which is not willing to ridicule Kagan

This is indeed the problem. Just about the entire political establishment in this country didn't just step in shit as regards Iraq, they positively wallowed in it. And nobody, but nobody, has paid any sort of price for it.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 9:41 AM
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You don't go after Kagan; you go after "neocon," and then call Kagan a neocon. Attacks on an "ideology" sound more substantive and less personal.

And if Clinton or Obama is elected, their range of possibilities will be defined by the same TV crew, and Kagan is a respected member of that crew.

Certainly if HRC is elected; her crew doesn't actually disagree with the neocons all that much. On Obama--let's see. It may well be the same.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 9:43 AM
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her crew doesn't actually disagree with the neocons all that much

I'm not concinced Obama's does either. Power's whole "humanitarian hawk" nonsense resembles nobody so much as Paul Wolfowitz.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 9:49 AM
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Meanwhile, it looks like Limbaugh's next syndication will be Radio Milles Collines.

Fortunately his mystery device is "impossible to debug", he says, which sounds like it should be completely useless.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 9:51 AM
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The three of them occupy very different positions in the political ecosystem than think tank residents like Kagan.

And yet they are all part of the same, to coin a phrase, vast right-wing conspiracy. Really. There is an overall media ecosystem that prizes right-wing craziness above other values, and all four are part of that ecosystem, because the conservative think-tanks are, themselves, an important part of it.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 9:56 AM
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Will the Democratic candidates finally go on the attack, or will they continue to be "serious" and mumble thoughtfully? This looks like a disaster to me, and it should be hung on Bush. Will that happen?

What is the independent probability of a "The way I see it" aphorism on a disposable Starbucks cup containing any wisdom? Pretty damn low, right? What is the independent probability of a political statement by Newt Gingrich containing any wisdom? Even lower, surely. And what is the dependent probability of a "The way I see it" aphorism containing wisdom, given that it originates with Newt Gingrich? Infinitessimally low, one must conclude.

And yet... this morning during a breakfast meeting with a client, I read the following from the former House Speaker printed on the client's Starbucks cup:

"In the battle of ideas, winning requires moving toward the sound of the guns."

Heed this, O Democrats! Heed this and act on it! For God's sake, stop cowering in your foxholes hoping the artillery barage will pass. Take the battle of ideas to the enemy with fixed bayonettes. A few of our side may fall in the charge, but the enemy lines are stretched thin, and a crushing victory is in reach.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 9:57 AM
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I'm still holding out some hope for Obama. He pretty clearly has staked his campaign on being able to make the case that the neocons are wrong, wrong, wrong - and so far he's proven to be a gifted communicator.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 9:59 AM
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I'm not concinced Obama's does either. Power's whole "humanitarian hawk" nonsense resembles nobody so much as Paul Wolfowitz.

I can see that. In part, I'm betting that the personal relationships between the Obama people and the same set on the crazed Right are much less strong. And I think it is, in part, those personal relationships that make it so unlikely to get a fierce attack on the neocons.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 10:02 AM
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You don't go after Kagan; you go after "neocon," and then call Kagan a neocon.

No, you go after "Bush-Cheney conservatives". Twenty years from now, the Dems still need to be running against "Bush-Cheney conservatives". And once the perjorative modifier starts to stick to the substantive, you go after "conservatives" touts courts.

When the Democratic candidate in Mississippi (Musgrove) lauds himself as "conservative" in his TV ads (as he did when he ran for governor), and "liberal" considered a self-evident insult by the even the SCLM, we'll never get anywhere.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 10:02 AM
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No, you go after "Bush-Cheney conservatives".

I think that work is largely already done, largely by circumstance. See the "McSame" ads. I'd like to get rid of the neocons because (a) I think they're nutters who have the proper training not to seem nutters, and who are broadly accepted as the non-nutter Republicans (how in gawd's name is Hagel less respectable than Kagan?), and (b) they're extraordinarily well-placed, given they're actual numbers, and therefor potentially easier to root out.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 10:10 AM
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#116. Disguise fair nature with hard favored rage etc., etc.

"It's quite possible I will be choosing the Democrat nominee with operatives inside the Democrat National Convention, covert operatives."

I'd say this is about as likely as being molested by Bigfoot.


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 10:14 AM
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Attacks on an "ideology" sound more substantive and less personal.

I don't get that at all -- it sounds super-wonkish. It's not either or, but putting a face on an enormous blunder makes it easier to sell to the average person. Especially because Kagan is so plump and silly-looking.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 10:15 AM
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Kagan is think-tank subsidized, but he's a TV / op-ed creature. His existence and think-tank career aren't the problem, it's his visibility and voice.

I don't think that there can be a foreign policy change without an open break, a lot of ruined careers, and a significant change in the media voices. A Democrat can't just sneak in and quietly make everything right.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 10:17 AM
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Not a parody site? The guy seems to have lost it.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 10:23 AM
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Kagan is so plump and silly-looking

I don't disagree with anything in 123, but the question is still: how do you get there?


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 10:30 AM
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Hey, Samantha Power is going to be here next week. Is the Asker of the Mineshaft a student at Becks U.?


Posted by: L. | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 10:35 AM
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I especially like the way his SUPER SECRET COVERT OPERATIVES!!! will be wearing SUPER SECRET COVERT OPERATIVE!!! hats, as advertised next to the text. These people really are part of the same American tradition as medicine shows, quackery, and get-rich-quick schemes.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 10:35 AM
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permanent, securely funded UN Peacekeeping Brigade

In all seriousness, why doesn't the UN just hire Blackwater ( or some equivalent) for these missions on an ad hoc basis, rather than establishing a permanent infrastructure?


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 10:35 AM
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My point is: If we don't get there, we lose. You and I are coming from different ends of the argument.

One thing candidates, and campaigns, can sometimes do is change the terms of the dialogue. That's how Gingrich and Reagan did what they did.

But they can only do that if they try. The Democrats seem to have made a firm principle of not trying, and of speaking to the electorate's present beliefs rather than trying to persuade them.

I can't see a stealth candidate accomplishing much. Maybe if they have a reserve plan for going ballistic once they have control of the bully pulpit. But I hate having to vote strictly on trust.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 10:36 AM
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Is the Asker of the Mineshaft a student at Becks U.?

Don't think so. And hello L. Enjoying college?


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 10:39 AM
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In all seriousness, Blackwater?


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 10:39 AM
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The SUPER SECRET COVERT OPERATIVE HATS are cool, but what seals the deal is the encrypted hand-held device that nobody will be able to debug because nobody will know whose is encrypted and whose isn't.

Secret Decoder Rings!


Posted by: felix | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 10:41 AM
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Enjoying college?

I am. You're going to love it.


Posted by: L. | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 10:42 AM
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131. It's all in the ROE and contract provisions, JE. Hefty fines for violating the ROE. They are only trigger happy cowboys because their current mission is to protect the VIPs, period. Change the mission, change the ROE, change the result.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 10:51 AM
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L.! You live!


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 10:51 AM
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I can't believe that you're serious, TLL.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 10:52 AM
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It's all in the ROE and contract provisions

Well, that and in the signatures signed in blood.


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 10:55 AM
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In all seriousness, why doesn't the UN just hire Blackwater ( or some equivalent) for these missions on an ad hoc basis, rather than establishing a permanent infrastructure?

Because ad hoc is no way to do this job. Peacekeeping is hard to do right, and private military companies like Blackwater have never demonstrated competence at anything* resembling a successful peacekeeping mission.

To be effective, the rapid response brigage would need:
- an evergreen budget, both to cover its recurring operating costs, and to be able to launch a deployment on short notice without passing the hat around the Security Council
- At least a bare-bones logistical and communications capability, with dedicated gear, networks, and in-theatre assets, and enough long-range transport capacity to maintain a supply line (though not necessarily enough to surge the troops into theatre--that should be provide by supporting states for efficiency reasons)
- A trained corps of professional peacekeepers, and a training infrastructure to replenish/reinforce the ranks on short notice if required.
- A set of rules to govern its deployments so that it does not get tied up in long-term deployments, but rather is relieved by traditional peacekeeping units after a period of months.

*The stronger form of this statement would put the period here.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 10:58 AM
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I am serious in the fact that most of the Blackwater opsfolks are highly trained. The vast majority are former US military senior NCOs. One thing they have is discipline. Many current UN peacekeeping forces lack that basic necessity. And quite frankly, should the UN decide that a permanent "action brigade" be needed, I would bet that the training would come from Blackwater anyway, if not the actual personnel.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 11:00 AM
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The problem isn't Kagan and the problem isn't "neocon" or even "Bush-Cheney conservatives." The problem is that all of these things are symptoms of the same disease, and it's a disease that's thoroughly infected both parties since at least the end of World War II: the assumption that the purpose of American foreign policy is to rule the world, and the belief that the main lever for this rule is military force. This is a mindset that's arisen from a number of structural factors, from a pervasive and corrupt military-industrial complex that profits from a state of perpetual war to a foreign policy elite dominated by ambitious careerists to a defense department bureaucracy constantly jockeying for more power and influence, and that mindset isn't going to go away just by taking down Fred Kagan or by making "neocon" a dirty word.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 11:06 AM
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Do the practical difficulties involved in intervention in Darfur make you rethink any of your arguments about Rwanda?


Posted by: Timothy Burke | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 11:09 AM
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138. I only want to add to your laundry list the authorization to take more than "defensive" action. The first several times that the UNRRF goes in harms way they will be challenged. A reputation will need to be made.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 11:09 AM
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Why would an international peace-keeping group prefer Americans?

Blackwater also recruits mercenaries from places like Chile, Argentina, the former Rhodesia, white South Africa, etc.

Blackwater is well-connected politically with the most right-wing, most militarist groups in America. It cannot be thought of as neutral.

"Highly trained" and "disciplined" can mean anything. Somehow it didn't prevent the events you blamed on the ROE. One of the motives of hiring contractors and mercenaries was to put them outside both military discipline, and we have forced the Iraqis to exempt them from Iraqi law too. There's no possible way that I'll grant them a clean bill of health without a very thorough investigation.

Mercenaries are famously unreliable and problematic even in the best case, and Blackwater's right-wing ties and Bush ties make them very far from the best case.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 11:10 AM
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BW providing soldiers to the U.N. is a terrible idea. It's not the ROE, it's the impunity. Discipline isn't innate in a person, it's provided by a chain of command that ultimately answers to a legitimate gov't & commanders with disciplinary authority & responsibility for their subordinates' behavior. Not Erik fucking Prince and Gary fucking Jackson.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 11:11 AM
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And they're allegedly only taking "defensive" action in Iraq, to preserve the fiction that they're not being used in combat. So that doesn't help at all.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 11:13 AM
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140. But stras, that mind set didn't develop sui generis after WWII. The feeling was that twice we had to go to war in Europe, and that that was enough. The rule the world stuff is bullshit. As long as people are free to buy Coca Cola, that is enough.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 11:13 AM
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Stras, I never said that. What I said is that as long as Kagan is there, you know that the mindset is unchanged. Nobody said that getting Kagan out was sufficient to make things OK. Nobody but an idiot would say that. Who here do you think is an idiot?

I did mention that the problem with the Democratic candidates is that I'm not sure that they really plan a major change in strategy. I used failure to confront the likes of Kagan as evidence that they were not likely to change strategy. I said that a change in strategy only could come noisily and openly, not by stealth and finesse. This is what I've been saying for months.

If you want a clue as to why you intensely annoy people who mostly agree with you, look for it in #140.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 11:17 AM
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The rule the world stuff is bullshit.

Is that why America has permanent military bases in hundreds of countries across the globe, and why it intervenes in the name of its "national interest" anywhere from Iraq to Somalia to Latin America to Gaza to pretty much anywhere it decides it doesn't like what it sees?


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 11:19 AM
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I am serious in the fact that most of the Blackwater opsfolks are highly trained. The vast majority are former US military senior NCOs. One thing they have is discipline.

I'm not saying there should not be any role for private sector contractors, but there is no reason to believe that they are inherently more cost effective than a properly run international brigade, and a lot of reason to be concerned about having the profit motive be a driving concern behind the conduct of peacekeeping missions*.

A peacekeeping force does not have the same requirements as an effective fighting force. Discipline is obviously a requirement for both, but I defy anyone to argue that Blackwater personnel in Iraq have exhibited greater discipline than, say, Canadians in Eritrea or Australians in East Timor.

*whichever libertarian troll wants to jump in and says "if we took all the billions that have been squandered on peacekeeping and dedicated it to performance bonuses for PMC's", have at it.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 11:21 AM
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If you want a clue as to why you intensely annoy people who mostly agree with you, look for it in #140.

John, I know that I intensely annoy you. To this day, I have no idea why. Maybe, as I've suggested before, you could stop reading and responding to the things I write, if they annoy you so much.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 11:22 AM
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that mindset isn't going to go away just by taking down Fred Kagan or by making "neocon" a dirty word.

So what's the program? Emerson has laid out his theory of change, and he even has a backup plan: emigration. What's the stras program?


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 11:22 AM
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The "right wing" ties bother me less than you. And I have no problem having the contract specifically include the responsibility of the chain of command that Katherine is talking about. (Although whose jurisdiction is problematic in a multinational force) And I could give a shit about who gets the contract, be it Blackwater, or Executive Outcomes or Universal Export. I just think that the last thing the UN needs is another permanent infrastructure. Holy moly, if you think the Pentagon is bad, imagine it on steroids and that is what the UN military command would look like. Look at Unicef, or the Human Rights Commission as examples.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 11:25 AM
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I'm not saying there should not be any role for private sector contractors

To clarify this point, I could see a reputable PMC running the operations of a "West Point for Peacekeepers", or even a "Parris Island for Peacekeepers". The U.S. military is clearly uninterested in this kind of mission (and one could argue that it really is a distraction from their "core competence"), so PMC's could be a good way of channeling some of the technical skill and professionalism of the U.S. military into the international brigade.

But to give them command responsibility for a peacekeeping mission? Heavens, no.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 11:26 AM
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I responded very civilly to you and explained why you annoy me. You have mentioned being baffled by why you annoy me, and I just explained. If you want this to continue as a personal feud, it will. I'm no more inclined to pay any attention to your suggestion that I shut the fuck up than you apparently are to pay attention to what I've said. I'm not the only one here that you annoy.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 11:27 AM
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Emerson has laid out his theory of change, and he even has a backup plan: emigration.

I don't see how emigrating helps things. I might get better health care in another country, but everywhere on the planet is subject to America's foreign policy. And its economic and trade policy, for that matter.

What's the stras program?

The stras program is to vote for the lesser-evils, if there are any meaningfully-lesser evils on offer, until the empire collapses, and hope that it hasn't done the rest of the world fatal damage in the meantime.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 11:27 AM
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If you want this to continue as a personal feud, it will.

Dude, in case you haven't noticed, you're the only one here interested in making this personal. I think you're batty but otherwise likable, and I'm still not sure what bug's gone up your ass. If some other stock lefty had written 140 - minneapolitan, say, or d-squared - you wouldn't have gotten all huffy about how personally affronted by it you were.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 11:30 AM
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KR, both the Aussies and the Canuks have "good" fighting reputations, which allow them to be effective peacekeepers. And you are making an apples and oranges comparison, since it is not Blackwater's current mission to be a peacekeeping force.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 11:31 AM
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Look at Unicef, or the Human Rights Commission as examples.

Why not the WHO, or the ICAO, or the IAEA?

And what makes you think that Blackwater is so efficient? I mean, really, is there a trace of evidence for that other than the conviction that private companies are always more efficient than government (or intergovernmental) agencies?


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 11:32 AM
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since it is not Blackwater's current mission to be a peacekeeping force.

Similarly, I contend that FedEx would make an awesome peacekeeping force, because they deliver packages with incredible discipline and professionalism.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 11:33 AM
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Of course, a big part of why some international agencies don't function very well is that the US is determined -- in some cases as a matter of publicly avowed policy -- to undermine them.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 11:35 AM
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158: Isn't Blackwater actually much more expensive, on a per-soldier basis, than the regular-old military?


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 11:35 AM
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FedEx. When it absolutely, positively has to get peaceful overnight.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 11:36 AM
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re: 161

About 10 times as much, iirc.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 11:37 AM
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Yes, wars and military operations are always best contracted out. National armies and the like are silly. There should be a merc hiring hall at some central location, and countries wanting to fight wars should email in their orders for troops. Because bureaucracy is bad.

You don't need to tell us that Blackwater's right-wing staffing and connections don't bother you, TLL. We knew that. I was just baffled that you tried to convince us that Blackwater would be a good choice. Much less the UN. It's not quite as dumb as suggesting that Israel should have hired (very well trained and disciplined!) demobilized German troops to lead their army in 1948. Not quite.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 11:38 AM
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TLL, I get that the Blackwater guys are all highly trained, but no one's arguing that the problem with Blackwater has been they're slacking off playing Wii, but that their accountability only goes as far as a paycheck, which historically hasn't proven to be a way of keeping mercenaries well behaved.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 11:39 AM
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Yes, I think that the the profit motive is stronger and leads to "efficiency". And I am unsure as to the motivation of an individual joining the UNRRF. Perhaps if we made some really cool "Top Gun" type movies, to boost recruiting? Swooning potential sexual partners, of whatever stripe, while the men and women of the "Blue Berets" march off to a rousing theme song? That might work better than your legal thriller.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 11:42 AM
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Yes, I think that the the profit motive is stronger and leads to "efficiency".

There's no evidence in the case of private military contractors that this is the case.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 11:43 AM
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166: Efficiency how? We pay them ten times as much and they have no accountability?


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 11:45 AM
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Is efficiency really the most important goal?


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 11:47 AM
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Hang on folks, the original proposal was a permanent "mercenary" force, under some as yet to be determined UN command, and responsible to (?) the UN. Lots of hand waving going on.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 11:47 AM
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Well, TLL put efficiency in quotes, so he could mean "efficient profit making enterprise with no accountability." Them shits is efficient.


Posted by: Willy Voet | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 11:49 AM
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Then how are they still mercenaries? Why not make them just a regular force with training, etc, to be provide by private contractors?


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 11:50 AM
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And I am unsure as to the motivation of an individual joining the UNRRF.

It may interest you to know that participation in peacekeeping is a significant factor in military recruitment/retention for certain countries including Canada, France, Holland*, Germany (for career soldiers, not the conscripts), and Brazil (post-dictatorship).

The self-understanding of the U.S. military ("we blow up things and kill people") is a fine one to have as far as it goes, but not every person on this planet aspires to be part of an organization with that mission.

*Before you say it, yes, I realize that Dutch peacekeepers didn't cover themselves in glory in Sebrnica.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 11:50 AM
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Peace-keeping forms the bulk of all UK army recruitment videos, too.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 11:51 AM
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The fact is, they [Mercenaries] have no other attraction or reason for keeping the field than a trifle of stipend, which is not sufficient to make them willing to die for you.
The Prince, Chapter XII

Today I would say that this last manifests itself not as cowardice but as a depraved indifference to human life. If they're not willing to take risks to avoid killing civilians, they would be worse than useless in any conflict they're likely to be involved in.


Posted by: ixnaythemetier | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 11:56 AM
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Peace-keeping forms the bulk of all UK army recruitment videos, too.

Boy, is that not the case here.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 11:57 AM
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And those are "national" armies, not some transnational amalgam. "Join the UNRRF, see the world" will work in a French Foreign Legion kind of way, but one shouldn't conflate joining the Coldstream Guards with that.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 11:57 AM
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I realize that Dutch peacekeepers didn't cover themselves in glory in Sebrnica.

Due to ROE, mot cowardice, I would posit


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 11:59 AM
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re: 177

Isn't that the proposed model for any future reaction force too?

The proposed EU rapid reaction force would be formed from units from the regular armies of constituent EU nations.

I fail to see how making any proposed 'army' a private business will make a blind bit of difference unless you also propose to pay the private contractors a great deal more, in which case, bang goes your efficiency claim.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 12:01 PM
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Here's what I wonder: To what degree is it appropriate to blame Democratic politicians, and to what degree is it appropriate to blame the Democratic polity.

What I mean is, I think I accept Emerson's premise that Reagan and, to a lesser degree, Gingrich were game-changers. As politicians, they were able to alter the terms of the debate and thereby alter the course of history.

But Reagan still trod ground that had been prepared for him by a decade or two of howling right-wing nutjobs.

My best guess is that the liberals are finally catching on. You're getting your think tanks and your Moveons and even something of a media infrastructure, at least on the web. Insufficient hate is being directed at the mainstream media, but at least the MSM are declining in power.

If I could change one thing, it would be more active resistance to the media on every level. Edwards was right to boycott Fox, but politicians can't really take on that fight directly. The masses really need to be raising more hell about this stuff, and I think they are starting to.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 12:02 PM
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The stras program is to vote for the lesser-evils, if there are any meaningfully-lesser evils on offer, until the empire collapses, and hope that it hasn't done the rest of the world fatal damage in the meantime.

I thought that was the much-ridiculed politicalfootball program. Are you being sarcastic?


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 12:08 PM
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166: Efficiency how? We pay them ten times as much and they have no accountability?

You answer your own question. That is exactly the way they are efficient.

TLL is right that profit-making enterprises are often very efficient at making profits. But obviously, in government run enterprises such as the military, there are really, really important goals that are resistant to the profit motive.

Note that even TLL has the sense to put "efficiency" in quotation marks in 166.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 12:13 PM
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176: No, here it's like, climbing rocks and jumping out of airplanes and, like, computers and shit.


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 12:52 PM
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The point at which the maintenance of American world power will come to seem immoral to Americans is at least ten minutes after it has come to seem impossible. In this context, starting a war with Iran, which results in national bankruptcy and the loss of the army in Iraq, looks a pretty effective recipe for the adoption of an Emersonian foreign policy. You know it has to be a big defeat. Not just a retreat -- there are plenty of Americans who still believe that Vietnam was a vicotry, or at least a draw -- but the actual, unequivocal, irrecoverable loss of an entire army. Of course, even 140,000 casualties would be trivial compared to what has been done to Iraq. But they would be hard to ignore. They would make it easier to mock Kagan and all the other enablers.


Posted by: Nworb Werdna | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 2:47 PM
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Is this a prescriptive or descriptive argument?

Making it "easier to mock Kagan and all the other enablers" is not, by any stretch of the imagination, an object for which 140,000 people should die. I agree with the claim that empires almost never give up on imperialism until they are forced to. However, one of the only policies to cause more suffering than imperialism is "heightening the contradictions."


Posted by: ixnaythemetier | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 3:09 PM
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184: but the actual, unequivocal, irrecoverable loss of an entire army. immediately followed by Iran becoming a glowing glass-paved parking lot no matter who is in the White House. You've got to be kidding. Even so, it would still be called a victory.


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 3:45 PM
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http://www.boston.com/news/globe/ideas/articles/2007/05/20/give_me_back_my_legions/

didn't stop the Romans


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 3:49 PM
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In this context, starting a war with Iran, which results in national bankruptcy and the loss of the army in Iraq, looks a pretty effective recipe for the adoption of an Emersonian foreign policy. You know it has to be a big defeat.

Is there a force in the region even capable of inflicting a military defeat of that kind on the U.S.?


Posted by: Gabriel | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 3:49 PM
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TLL you are implying that only Blackwater can provide soldiers with enough financial incentive to want to fight for something other than patriotism.

Profit motivation for the soldiers themselves is great. Why not, they need some motivation. No problem with that.

Soldiers working for a corporation which, being a corporation, wants maximum profits is not great.


Posted by: peter | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 3:58 PM
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immediately followed by Iran becoming a glowing glass-paved parking lot no matter who is in the White House.

I suspect when we started taking losses we'd pull back and just use conventional bombs to level the areas around our positions. Huge collateral damage of course.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 4:24 PM
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Again, I have no brief for Blackwater, per se. But in the rapid reaction force proposed by Knecht, the soldiers were to be under the sole command of the UN, not their home country.
To the extent that the Powers of the world can succeed in making something like a permanent, securely funded UN Peacekeeping Brigade a reality, we would have a lot to thank them for.

Now maybe these soldiers and officers are TDY from their national army to the UNRRF, but I took it to mean raised and trained by the UN exclusively, and thus answerable only to the UN. I think this raises more questions than it answers, so I proposed hiring the military contractors. I also think that Katherine's questions about authority and responsibility have merit, but are also not answered by an independent force made up of soldiers recruited from many nations, but answerable only to the UN command authority. Maybe I misread "permanent".


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 4:31 PM
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190: In reality, exactly. I was following the assumption of sudden US losses along the lines of a double Cannae, accomplished by dragons or witchcraft.


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 4:43 PM
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Yes, I think that the the profit motive is stronger and leads to "efficiency". [in the case of mercenary soldiers -dd]

it's almost as if this empirical proposition had never been tested.


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 6:07 PM
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double Cannae

Quadruple envelopment?


Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 6:11 PM
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Is there a force in the region even capable of inflicting a military defeat of that kind on the U.S.?

No-one is going to fight the kind of huge WWII era set-piece battles that lead to the massive loss of men and material in a single engagement.

But, is it possible that over a slightly longer period a nation like Iran could inflict smaller but politically/domestically unsustainable losses short of that? Sure.

Further, total nuclear annihilation of such a power seems unlikely. Unless you really are total moral monsters, of course.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 6:17 PM
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inflict smaller but politically/domestically unsustainable losses short of that

Sort of what they are doing already? And convenient for them, the fighting actually takes place in another country. Win- Win!!


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 6:21 PM
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Bullshit, TLL. We're fighting Iraqis, some of whom have some connection with Iran.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 6:27 PM
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A distinction without a difference, JE.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 6:31 PM
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195

"No-one is going to fight the kind of huge WWII era set-piece battles that lead to the massive loss of men and material in a single engagement."

Sinking a carrier would do it.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 6:36 PM
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Sinking a carrier would do it.

I doubt it. (forcing a withdrawal, I mean. Iran certainly could sink a carrier, if that was the only mission.)


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 6:42 PM
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A distinction without a difference, JE.

Perhaps the difference would become more clear to your if Iran decides to send 100,000 Revolutionary Guard over the border.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 6:48 PM
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Perhaps the difference would become more clear to your if Iran decides to send 100,000 Revolutionary Guard over the border.

And initiates the set piece battle that the US would clearly dominate? Methinks you are trying to hard to move the goalposts.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 6:50 PM
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And initiates the set piece battle that the US would clearly dominate?

Only if you think they're going to march across in formation wearing uniforms. But maybe you think our military can tell the difference between an Iraqi and an Iranian in street clothes.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 6:53 PM
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200

I meant "lead to the massive loss of men and material in a single engagement."

And I think loss of a carrier would be pretty bad politically.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 6:53 PM
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C'mon, gswift. 100K infiltration over what time period, and how would they coordinate? I think it would be noticed.

And I think loss of a carrier would be pretty bad politically.

true, but I think it would have a "Pearl Harbor" effect, not a "Blackhawk Down". Opinions differ.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 6:57 PM
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You're completely full of shit, TLL, and as you often do, you're retailing talking points. That's the neocon spin du jour. The present "defining moment" offensive was supposed to show that the Iraqis were able to stand on their own, and now that it's shown that they can't, it's supposed to show that we need to invade Iran.

The CFR already got their Oped published in the Times or the Post. Only a few days after one of their guys (Kagan) explained to the world that the Iraqi civil war was over, and that anyone who disagreed was a complete idiot. And now these same wise men are telling us that it's really about Iran.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 6:58 PM
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Emerson, you know as well as I do that Sadr is supported by the Iranians, with men, material and money. This is not controversial or new.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 7:03 PM
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What Brown was really saying is that the US will continue as it has until something terrible happens. War with Iran is a somewhat secondary issue. Nothing less terrible than the loss of an army will change the American mind.

I'm not sure TLL disagrees. He doesn't want the American mind to change.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 7:03 PM
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205

"true, but I think it would have a "Pearl Harbor" effect, not a "Blackhawk Down". Opinions differ."

Depends. If it came after an already unpopular attack on Iran I would bet on Blackhawk Down.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 7:06 PM
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Yes, and so is Maliki. One effect of our glorious war has been to increase Iranian influence. But we're fighting Iraqis who get some support from Iran. Different than what you said or insinuated.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 7:06 PM
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100K infiltration over what time period, and how would they coordinate? I think it would be noticed.

Baghdad area is what, 7 million? And the last several years have made it abundantly clear that we don't have a clue who is who over there.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 7:07 PM
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207

"This is not controversial ..."

Actually it is.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 7:07 PM
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But in the rapid reaction force proposed by Knecht, the soldiers were to be under the sole command of the UN, not their home country.

I wasn't really making a specific proposal. I would imagine that the rapid reaction force would be dispatched under the authority of the UN following a security council resolution (which is a pretty big hurdle to get over, remember), but the unit command structure might well be national in character, given that individual units are going to need to be linguistically homogeneous for them to be effective.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 7:08 PM
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Actually, JE, I would favor a return to splendid isolationism. Let the wogs kill themselves, what do I care? I would cut the heck out of the military budget, because it makes adventures like Iraq too tempting. Of course, thinking like that is what delayed our entrance to WWII, which in turn led to thinking that we must not shrink our military to prewar levels, Cold War, blah blah.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 7:09 PM
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Oooh, oooh, TLL and Shearer in a throwdown! Can they equal the vitriol of Emerson and Stras? Stay tuned!


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 7:10 PM
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Baghdad area is what, 7 million? And the last several years have made it abundantly clear that we don't have a clue who is who over there.

Sure, but being able to run a resistance-style movement requires a lot less communication and coordination than putting together a large-scale offensive force.

I don't see how the loss of an army (or an aircraft carrier) is likely to happen to the US any time soon.


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 7:11 PM
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Hell, Knecht, that's what they do now. I thought you were proposing some new force. Nevermind then.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 7:13 PM
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Well, TLL, why don't you quit relaying cynical neocon crap then?


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 7:13 PM
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Because I think there is a big difference between what "I" would do, and "the way things are". Look, natter said that there would be no set piece battle to wipe out an entire army, no Stalingrad or whatever, but that the US is vulnerable to the tactics being used by the insurgency. This works to the benefit of Iran, so the mullahs happily fund the mayhem. I think it is splitting hairs, given the environment, to not recognize that.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 7:18 PM
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Sure, but being able to run a resistance-style movement requires a lot less communication and coordination than putting together a large-scale offensive force.

Sure, but the death by a thousand cuts could be significantly ramped up. And it's not like they have to deploy everyone. But if everyone thinks our casualties look bad now, imagine the number of guerrilla style attacks we'll be taking with thousands of trained Iranians thrown in the mix.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 7:18 PM
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216

"I don't see how the loss of an army (or an aircraft carrier) is likely to happen to the US any time soon."

One would hope not. But I suspect carriers are more vulnerable than the Navy wants to admit and given Bush's proven total incompetence I would not put losing one past him.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 7:19 PM
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Hell, Knecht, that's what they do now. I thought you were proposing some new force. Nevermind then.

The difference, TLL (and this idea is not original to me; others have thought out the details much more thoroughly), is that to get a peacekeeping mission going today, you have to get the authorization (hard enough by itself), gin up the funding from voluntary contributions, gin up the contributions of troops from willing nations, and then find them proper equipment (since the armies that supply the warm bodies typically don't have the requisite gear in the requisite quantities, and typically lack long range logistical capabilities entirely). The result is that the opportunity to turn a temporary ceasefire into a lasting peace may be lost. Also, the prospect of a peacekeeping deployment is too uncertain to have maximum impact in trying to get the parties to agree to a ceasefire in the first place.

So the rapid reaction force is most definitely not the garden variety UN peacekeeping mission.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 7:21 PM
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TLL, you were saying the same thing that the neocons are saying, that we're "really" fighting Iran. But we're not. We're fighting a big Iraqi faction that gets some support from Iran.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 7:22 PM
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I don't see how the loss of an army (or an aircraft carrier) is likely to happen to the US any time soon.

The Chinese think they can do it.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/news/worldnews.html?in_article_id=492804&in_page_id=1811


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 7:23 PM
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Carriers strike me as sitting ducks for anyone who has ballistic missiles.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 7:27 PM
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Don't put words in my mouth, John. I said "sort of what they are doing now". if you think that is a neocon talking point, so be it. Glibness will be the death of me yet.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 7:28 PM
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Carriers strike me as sitting ducks for anyone who has ballistic missiles.

Well, it depends upon how much room they have. The Gulf is pretty small, afterall. But I was a jarhead, not a squid, so I am not the best judge.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 7:31 PM
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Bush called the operation "a defining moment in the history of a free Iraq," saying the government is fighting criminals there. "It was just a matter of time before the government was going to have to deal with it," he said.

The president also hailed the operation as a sign of progress, emphasizing that the decision to mount the offensive was al-Maliki's.

"It was his military planning; it was his causing the troops to go from point A to point B," Bush said. "And it's exactly what a lot of folks here in America were wondering whether or not Iraq would even be able to do it in the first place. And it's happening."


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 7:34 PM
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If you're a paleocon, it's a good idea to avoid using the latest neocon spin on the same day that it's being rolled out in the Times. Even jokingly. People get the wrong idea.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 7:35 PM
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The fighting has sparked fears that a seven-month cease-fire by al-Sadr's Mehdi Army, regarded as a key factor in a dramatic drop in attacks in recent months, could collapse or that the U.S. military will have to bail out the Iraqis.

Oh no! The war might threaten the ceasefire! That would be terrible!


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 7:37 PM
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I must have switched my "cons" without knowing. Happens all the time when you get older.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 7:41 PM
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So the rapid reaction force is most definitely not the garden variety UN peacekeeping mission.

So, like a MAB, but under UN command,

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marine_Expeditionary_Brigade

Like the units that rotate through the MAB, the units could be from different countries, each taking a turn. Good luck when the (name of European country) has to take turn in (name of third world hotspot) and Parliament balks. I already know the US wouldn't send any troops.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 7:58 PM
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Good luck when the (name of European country) has to take turn in (name of third world hotspot) and Parliament balks. I already know the US wouldn't send any troops.

That's one of the best reasons for the rapid reaction force. Today there is a mismatch between the countries that are willing to supply manpower (Bangladesh, Pakistan, Uruguay, Jordan) and the countries with the money, skills, and infrastructure to make a mission successful.

Graft a little bit of the latter onto the former, and give the institution a predictable budget so that it can build some sustainable capabilities, and you make peacekeeping deployments into a much more flexible tool for ending conflicts.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 8:12 PM
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Also, I think the RRF should be equipped with black helicopters and given the right to overfly Idaho and Eastern Oregon and to confiscate firearms, just to fuck with those dudes.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 8:15 PM
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"... you make peacekeeping deployments into a much more flexible tool for ending conflicts."

Per Yglesias, the purpose of peacekeeping forces is not to end conflicts it is to enforce peace agreements arrived at by the warring parties. If there is no agreement there is no peace to keep.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 8:20 PM
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the purpose of peacekeeping forces is not to end conflicts it is to enforce peace agreements arrived at by the warring parties. If there is no agreement there is no peace to keep.

No disagreement, there. I didn't mean to imply otherwise. The point is that when outside parties are trying to mediate in a conflict, the promise of a peacekeeping deployment can be the tool that gives both parties the confidence to agree to the ceasefire. The weaker party may be concerned about laying down its arms and being overwhelmed in a surprise attack, while the stronger party may be worried about giving the weaker adversary time to regroup. A credible prospect of a peacekeeping deployment is a powerful tool here, but too often the prospect is insufficiently credible, or is freighted with too much uncertainty, or simply takes to long to realize before the ceasefire unravels.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 8:36 PM
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That's one of the best reasons for the rapid reaction force. Today there is a mismatch between the countries that are willing to supply manpower (Bangladesh, Pakistan, Uruguay, Jordan) and the countries with the money, skills, and infrastructure to make a mission successful.

True, but it's not at all clear that you can just combine third-world manpower with Western money, skills, and infrastructure, and come up with anything useful.


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 8:55 PM
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True, but it's not at all clear that you can just combine third-world manpower with Western money, skills, and infrastructure, and come up with anything useful.

If Halliburton can staff its entire Iraq operation with people from Fiji and the Philippines, sure this is feasible as well.


Posted by: Fatman | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 8:57 PM
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it's not at all clear that you can just combine third-world manpower with Western money, skills, and infrastructure, and come up with anything useful.

Of course there's no guarantee, but it has been done before.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 9:01 PM
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I can't believe forgot about the Gurkhas. Recruiting soldiers from one of your colonies is a bit different than integrating random third world soldiers into some sort of multinational force, in a way that seems relevant.


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 9:07 PM
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In a way that's similar to the difference between mercenaries and soldiers, that is. Not that I don't think trying something new is worthwhile, but I suspect that a big part of the problem in raising independent powerful military forces is that no one who has gone through the trouble of creating their own powerful military wants to turn around and create another one that may be used against it or against their allies.


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 03-28-08 9:11 PM
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(returning after a night's sleep)
History is littered with the corpses of armies that couldn't possibly be defeated. I don't see defeat coming as a kind of alamo; something more like a series of sieges. The American consumes fantastic amounts of supplies. If these can't be brought up from the south, what are they going to do? What will they eat? what will they use for petrol? How will they get out?
I do understand that all of the area around their camps could be bombed continually from 30,000 feet until the bombs run out. That would no doubt stop an Alamo scenario. But there are other ways to lose an army. Napoleon didn't lose a single battle in Russia.


Posted by: Nworb Werdna | Link to this comment | 03-29-08 12:51 AM
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The US Army has already been defeated. This much is obvious. But I don't see any way to get past the "OK, shit is going sort of wrong, we're going to drive everyone to this airbase, fly them out, and anyone who comes within a mile gets shot" means of withdrawal, barring fantasizing about the breakup of NATO or some such.


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 03-29-08 1:38 AM
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re: 240

Nepal was never actually a British colony.

The British army does contain soldiers from former colonies -- Fijians, people from various Caribbean nations, etc. -- but the Ghurkas aren't actually that.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 03-29-08 1:45 AM
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They didn't get in by air; there is a limit to the amount of stuff they can get out by air. Getting out and leaving all your bases and all your tanks and most of your guns behind -- supposing it can be accomplished without significant casualties -- will look like a defeat even to people watching on network TV.

I was talking to a friend (academic, former war correspondent, reliable) who teaches at one of the staff colleges here about this last year; according to him, the British Army is quite clear that the Americans will have to retreat overland through Basra when they go, which is why they wanted us to hang on here. That might also be a reason for the present outbreak of fighting.


Posted by: Nworb Werdna | Link to this comment | 03-29-08 1:51 AM
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245 to 243. Also, Dunkirk. We didn't lose all that many men there. But we lost almost all the equipment which is one reason why it mattered so much.


Posted by: Nworb Werdna | Link to this comment | 03-29-08 1:53 AM
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Nepal was never actually a British colony.

Was it a protectorate? Still different from the US-Uruguay or France-Bangladesh relationship...


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 03-29-08 1:54 AM
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Also, Dunkirk

Right, and Dunkirk was so demoralizing that it marked a turning point in British militarism and caused them to leave the rest of the world to their own devices...


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 03-29-08 1:57 AM
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re: 247

Not really. But the Nepali rulers were allied with the British [against the surrounding Indian nations, etc.]. That particular relationship has been over for more than half a century but the British continue to recruit Ghurkas.

I don't think there's necessarily any super-special thing about Nepal that means a similar model couldn't be adopted in other circumstances.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 03-29-08 2:09 AM
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It was rather more of an existential threat than losing an army in Iraq might be. And I think that imperial Britain was much more militaristic than imperial America. Just look at the education of the ruling class and the casualty rate among their children in wars.


Posted by: Nworb Werdna | Link to this comment | 03-29-08 2:16 AM
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And I think that imperial Britain was much more militaristic than imperial America. Just look at the education of the ruling class and the casualty rate among their children in wars.

That's right. You only have to go to any public school [i.e. private school] or Oxbridge college to see the rolls of dead. We're not talking decimated. We're talking about 50% of them killed in major wars.

The British upper classes, even now, many many years into the post-Imperial age, still send a shit-load of their children into the military. The US has never been like that.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 03-29-08 2:20 AM
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ttaM -- I think the US civil war was fought, on both sides, by the ruling classes. I may be wrong: there was certainly a possibility of buying your way out of the draft. If I am, there's be a historian long to correct me.

It also looks as if there was a lot of US elite participation in WW2; but there of course, the casualty rate was very low compared to the experience of almost every other country involved. You don't get the war memorials.


Posted by: Nworb Werdna | Link to this comment | 03-29-08 2:48 AM
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re: 252

Good point.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 03-29-08 3:06 AM
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