Re: How To Be Mendacious And Influence People

1

You're going to write a letter to the times, I assume.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 05-12-08 2:30 PM
horizontal rule
2

The people of West Virginia and Pennsyltucky know this already, Mr. Luttwak. And they cain't understand all them large things with lots of symbols you're usin'... I think y'all cityfolk call 'em 'words.'


Posted by: norbizness | Link to this comment | 05-12-08 2:31 PM
horizontal rule
3

Okay, I take it back, now this is my favorite unfogged thread. That guy's way stupider than the Levis ad!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-12-08 2:32 PM
horizontal rule
4

But, as I keep telling my serially outraged mother: get used to it, we've got several months like this, and much worse, to go.

You might also remind her that it's better to be likable than to be right (that was the point of "Death of a Salesman," right?), and Obama's likable.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 05-12-08 2:32 PM
horizontal rule
5

Oh, and look at the evil wingnut takeaway from L/sa Sch/ffr/n at the Corner:

The New York Times -- yes, the Times -- which has heretofore called anyone and everyone who even raised the possibility of a Muslim childhood for Barak Hussein Obama a scummy, racist, McCarthyite fearmonger (and readers have written far worse to me,) implicitly accepts that he was born and early-on raised a Muslim, by allowing the argument over the meaning of that fact.

Thanks, Times!


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 05-12-08 2:33 PM
horizontal rule
6

It would complicate the security of the President's missions to Muslim countries? The fuck? Does Luttwipe honestly think that now we just turn over security to the local government? Wouldn't we already have this problem when Christian presidents visit Saudi Arabia, where, as the right continually reminds us, Christians are second-class citizens?


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 05-12-08 2:34 PM
horizontal rule
7

implicitly accepts that he was[...] early-on raised a Muslim

Um, no they don't either. If she's related to Lalo I'm going to cry.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-12-08 2:38 PM
horizontal rule
8

But ogged, you can't trust Muslims to tell you things about their own faith, because it's part of the Arabic character to lie (unlike all other humans) (citation omitted because I can't find it) and all Muslims are Arabs.


Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 05-12-08 2:41 PM
horizontal rule
9

I got pretty angry at Luttwak for a piece he wrote in Harper's a while back, which included this:

There are many natural predators in the Iraqi population, probably because of the high proportion of ex-nomads and their direct descendants, for whom the razzia is still an honorable and manly tradition.

For some reason, I felt like I wasn't giving him a fair shot, though. Good to see my initial suspicions confirmed.


Posted by: destroyer | Link to this comment | 05-12-08 2:42 PM
horizontal rule
10

Silver lining, people. Real* muslims now really, really hate Obama and McCain becomes the default candidate of the Islamofascists. Supersedes the Hamas endorsement, where's Aaron Klein?


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 05-12-08 2:43 PM
horizontal rule
11

where, as the right continually reminds us, Christians are second-class citizens?

It is true that Clinton had to leave his highly-trained team of ultra-busty chauffeurs at home when he visited SA.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 05-12-08 2:47 PM
horizontal rule
12

Lord love a duck. And you know the only reason he's writing any of this is so "Didja know Obama's technically a Muslim?" will be passed around the water cooler.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 05-12-08 2:48 PM
horizontal rule
13

10: At least this exposes Hamas as the hypocrites they are, claiming to truly believe in their religion but betraying it like so many Americans have done with our cherished traditions.


Posted by: Dinesh D'Souza | Link to this comment | 05-12-08 2:48 PM
horizontal rule
14

But does Obama have a Jewish grandparent?


Posted by: ML | Link to this comment | 05-12-08 2:51 PM
horizontal rule
15

Did Obama convert to Christianity in any sense other than the "according to orthodox Islamic doctrine" one? I think not.


Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 05-12-08 2:56 PM
horizontal rule
16

Daniel Pipes was on this months ago. God, what a crock. It would probably be good for the Times to be inundated with letters asking why they published this crap.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 05-12-08 2:56 PM
horizontal rule
17

But does Obama have a Jewish grandparent?

No no, the proper order would be Jewish grandparent, Christian parent, and Muslim sibling. Presumably with an agnostic child and atheist grandchild.

Great-grandpa believed some surprising stuff.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 05-12-08 2:58 PM
horizontal rule
18

Is it concern troll day in the MSM? Douglas Schoen in the WSJ:

First, and obviously symbolically, he must start wearing the flag lapel pin. He simply cannot afford to raise doubts about his patriotism.
...
He must reassure people that he understands diplomacy has its limits. Part of this reassurance should consist of a speech that Mr. Obama should give on the subject of what Ronald Reagan called "American exceptionalism" -- still a core value for most Americans, and particularly swing voters.
...
but he needs to emphasize, as he has tried to do a number of times, that his own values are the opposite of Mr. Wright's. [emphasis added]

Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 05-12-08 2:58 PM
horizontal rule
19

It would probably be good for the Times to be inundated with letters asking why they published this crap.

It would make no impression whatsoever, b/c that would just activate their Dirty Hippie Earplugs, which discount any criticism coming from anyone to the left of the New York Times.


Posted by: Anderson | Link to this comment | 05-12-08 2:58 PM
horizontal rule
20

Mr. Schoen forgot to mention that Obama should speak at the next meeting of the Illinois chapter of the National Socialist Workers' Party, to demonstrate that he's not a hostage to the wild-eyed notions of the Far Left.

Oh, and to show that he's firmly against Jewish-sponsored child pornography. Because I haven't heard anything about his position on that.


Posted by: Anderson | Link to this comment | 05-12-08 3:01 PM
horizontal rule
21

18: Shorter campaign advice for Obama:

You're half-white. Let people know it!


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 05-12-08 3:05 PM
horizontal rule
22

16: The comments to the NYT article are largely encouraging, for a change.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 05-12-08 3:06 PM
horizontal rule
23

OT:

Two things:

1) How do I make those parallel lines that announce OT?

2) How would I find out how much non-Western, Muslim coverage there is about something? I'm trying to find non-Western, Muslim reaction to the honor killing of Rand Abdel-Qader, a 17 yo Iraqi girl.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/may/11/iraq.humanrights

Thanks!


Posted by: Annie | Link to this comment | 05-12-08 3:07 PM
horizontal rule
24

Annie if you look just above your enter key you'll see a key with something like this depicted: "|". Hit that key twice.

Ta-da! You've paused the thread!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-12-08 3:09 PM
horizontal rule
25

||
Thanks!
||


Posted by: Annie | Link to this comment | 05-12-08 3:11 PM
horizontal rule
26

Annie if you look just above your enter key you'll see a key with something like this depicted: "|". Hit that key twice.

... while holding "shift".


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 05-12-08 3:12 PM
horizontal rule
27

Actually (to take Luttwak's troll-bait) I wouldn't be surprised if even the most wild-eyed Wahhabi imam deemed Obama a Christian - since his only connection to Islam was an apostate father who left him at the age of two.

I was reading about Luttwak on Wikipedia and found this interestingly-titled book. Anyone know if it's worth reading?


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 05-12-08 3:12 PM
horizontal rule
28

"American exceptionalism" -- still a core value for most Americans, and particularly swing voters.

Yeah, not like those filthy Republican voters, who always want to put the US under UN control.

I just love this laughably ex recto stuff about swing voters - who think exactly like my fellow partisans!

You know, most disinterested parties think I'm right.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 05-12-08 3:12 PM
horizontal rule
29

I thought that you had to make some kind of profession of faith to be considered a Muslim.

Now that I'm thinking about the five [Muslim things], I might write up an op-ed saying that people need to stop giving to panhandlers because it's an Islamic practice to give alms. Jesus says we will always have the poor among us -- so treat yourself to that extra fancy coffee!


Posted by: Zippy the Comment Frog | Link to this comment | 05-12-08 3:13 PM
horizontal rule
30

Unless someone tells Annie about the "play" key-combo, we'll be stuck in Pause forever.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 05-12-08 3:14 PM
horizontal rule
31

Actually (to take Luttwak's troll-bait) I wouldn't be surprised if even the most wild-eyed Wahhabi imam deemed Obama a Christian - since his only connection to Islam was an apostate father who left him at the age of two.

"Christian"
s/b "Muslim", right?


Posted by: peter | Link to this comment | 05-12-08 3:14 PM
horizontal rule
32

30: |>


Wait...

||

Obbtn Obbtn fgnegrq bss nf n cresbeznapr gurngre tebhc ng gur Havirefvgl bs Unjnvv-Znabn va 1974, ohg vg jnf nf n gevb pbafvfgvat bs Wnzrf Tenag Oragba, Rq Xn'nurn, naq Enc Ervcyvatre, gung "Obbtn" eribyhgvbavmrq vfynaq ragregnvazrag jvgu gur qrohg bs "Xnanxn Xbzrql" ng gur Greevgbevny Gnirea va 1975.

Fbzr bs gurve zngrevny naq zhpu bs gurve cerfragngvba ersyrpgrq gurve gurngre genvavat ohg gurl jrer nyfb xrra bofreiref bs ybpny punenpgre glcrf, naq rkpryyrag pbzvp npgbef.

Gur vasyhrapr bs Obbtn Obbtn pna or frra naq urneq va gur zngrevny bs nyzbfg rirel ybpny pbzrqvna gung sbyybjrq.

|>


Posted by: peter | Link to this comment | 05-12-08 3:15 PM
horizontal rule
33

26: surely she could have puzzled that out.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-12-08 3:17 PM
horizontal rule
34

Unless someone tells Annie about the "play" key-combo, we'll be stuck in Pause forever.

Sifu was cruelly teasing about pausing the blog. I doubt anyone has the power to stop this thing.


Posted by: Annie | Link to this comment | 05-12-08 3:17 PM
horizontal rule
35

29: Moreover, under one interpretation, everyone starts out as Muslim, but end up in the religion their parents teach them. And Allah is cool with that. Even though we're all apostates.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 05-12-08 3:18 PM
horizontal rule
36

Somebody should baptize Obama Mormon in absentia just to get it over with.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-12-08 3:20 PM
horizontal rule
37

Google indexes arabic. Transliterating (http://www4.ncsu.edu/~yahussai/A_E/) and searching
رند أبدل-قدر gives 0 hits, surname alone gives a bunch. But I am illiterate, so the transliteration may be wrong.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 05-12-08 3:21 PM
horizontal rule
38

I prayed for Obama as part of a controlled trial on the efficacy of prayer. But I think I was one of the placebos, since I don't speak Muslim.


Posted by: Dvi srovės | Link to this comment | 05-12-08 3:22 PM
horizontal rule
39

31: No, I meant Christian (I don't think I mixed up the piled negatives in that sentence).

35: Finally, some real knowledge!

There's plenty of information out there on the formal process of "becoming" a Muslim, but that's for converts - hard to say how/if it applies to children.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 05-12-08 3:24 PM
horizontal rule
40

36: No hurry!


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 05-12-08 3:26 PM
horizontal rule
41

32: Nobody read that all the way through, unless you want Yog-Sothoth to come at you RIGHT THROUGH YOUR MONITOR.


Posted by: Anderson | Link to this comment | 05-12-08 3:29 PM
horizontal rule
42

did Lovecraft use rot13 to come up with his space languages?!?


Posted by: peter | Link to this comment | 05-12-08 3:34 PM
horizontal rule
43

Apparently the column was first published by Frontpage.


Posted by: David Weman | Link to this comment | 05-12-08 3:40 PM
horizontal rule
44

What's the point of this post? I see a lot of sneering at Luttwak but no explanation of why he is wrong (if in fact he is).


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 05-12-08 3:50 PM
horizontal rule
45

I think you've answered your own question, James.

The point is to sneer at the guy because -- even if there is some marginal validity to what he's saying under some Koranic interpretation or other -- the only reason he wrote it (and the only reason it was published) was to further embed the "SEEKRIT MUSLIM!" meme in the popular consciousness.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-12-08 3:54 PM
horizontal rule
46

45: Do Not Feed The Trolls Mother Fucker!!!


Posted by: Zippy the Comment Frog | Link to this comment | 05-12-08 3:59 PM
horizontal rule
47

Zippy really means it.

I think you need to read the post more carefully, James. The argument is that, first of all, if the Times is serious about this issue, they should ask an actual muslim to opine on it. I also noted that people who live a religion don't have the same approach to doctrinal purity as outsiders like Luttwak, and his lame attempt to ground the importance of apostasy in two half-examples from Iran and Saudi Arabia is evidence for how serious this issue isn't for practicing muslims. Third, we heap scorn on the Times for being complicit in smear meme mongering. Finally, I noted that Obama isn't in any real sense a muslim, and Luttwak doesn't establish that he is.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 05-12-08 4:11 PM
horizontal rule
48

"Edwark"?


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 05-12-08 4:12 PM
horizontal rule
49

Fixed.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 05-12-08 4:16 PM
horizontal rule
50

Ignore the non-existent merits of this piece. Does Luttwak have any expertise to be commenting about contemporary Muslim theology? He knows about military theory and Italian politics, and he's apparently written something controversial on late Roman and Byzantine military tactics. It'd have been nice if the Times saw fit to publish him talking about why invading Iraq was a dumb idea rather than something that, as far as I can tell, I'm as qualified to hold forth on as he is. Possibly more, since I read Peter Lamborn Wilson's (not good) book on the Hashashim and right now looking at my copy of Emmanuel Sivan's Radical Islam.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 05-12-08 4:18 PM
horizontal rule
51

right now looking at my copy of Emmanuel Sivan's Radical Islam.

This, by the way, is my nomination for best completely non-seditious book to carry onto a plane if what you want is to be arrested and ass-searched. Certainly the best choice from our own bookshelves.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 05-12-08 4:22 PM
horizontal rule
52

Does the blink tag still work? Because if so, I should've used that in my historic denunciation of troll-feeding.


Posted by: Zippy the Comment Frog | Link to this comment | 05-12-08 4:27 PM
horizontal rule
53

This post is linked at HuffPo. Should we expect pie?


Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 05-12-08 4:28 PM
horizontal rule
54

Well, at least we know Obama's no longer going to have to convince people he isn't just a media darling.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 05-12-08 4:29 PM
horizontal rule
55

I think that blogger knows the DC crowd. We ain't that important. There's also a longer post at HuffPo by an actual Muslim about this.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 05-12-08 4:32 PM
horizontal rule
56

"veryfying" is cute.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 05-12-08 4:57 PM
horizontal rule
57

47

Saying Luttwak is unqualified is not the same thing as saying he is wrong.

"... Finally, I noted that Obama isn't in any real sense a muslim, and Luttwak doesn't establish that he is."

Not surprising since Luttwak is not claiming that Obama is, just that some Muslims would consider Obama an apostate. This doesn't really inspire confidence that he is wrong.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 05-12-08 5:04 PM
horizontal rule
58

Luttwak is not claiming that Obama is

Luttwat wrote: "Obama was born a Muslim."

So yes, in one sense he is claiming that Obama is a Muslim.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 05-12-08 5:10 PM
horizontal rule
59

Inasmuch as many Republicans may be indicted as war criminals by other countries, wouldn't that complicate the security planning of state visits by President McCain and his staff to those countries?

Not that such complications in our dealings with the civilized world are likely to be a major factor with American voters, and the implication is not that they should be.


Posted by: slolernr | Link to this comment | 05-12-08 5:11 PM
horizontal rule
60

According the norms of douchebag culture, Luttwak was born a douchebag. Don't listen when he claims he's not a douchebag, since many douchebags still consider him one.


Posted by: ed bowlinger | Link to this comment | 05-12-08 5:47 PM
horizontal rule
61

This meme about "scary group that claims you can never stop being a member" is interesting, though. I think we got it about reporter Jill Carroll, who while kidnapped by some group in Iraq was forced to make a video in which she "converted" to Islam. I've also seen it recently in the "question" of whether Celtic Paul Pierce made a gang-threat gesture to an opponent in the last playoff series; that also triggered a round of "you can't ever leave them" -- gangs, in this case.


Posted by: DonBoy | Link to this comment | 05-12-08 5:48 PM
horizontal rule
62

I read this over lunch and was pretty outraged. Glad you decided to blog it.


Posted by: Becks | Link to this comment | 05-12-08 6:07 PM
horizontal rule
63

Does anyone remember "Give War A Chance"? A little bit of it ran in Harper's, in their a little bit of it section. Luttwak argued that UN intervention in the Balkans was a poor idea, because it would just unsustainably tamp down burning hatreds that would reignite, and you just had to let that shit play out like the U.S. Civil War. Also, "burning hatreds" above makes it seem as if he was saying "tribal enmities"; his point was slightly more sophisticated (the Civil War was his example), saying that wars were fought over issues that would not be solved just because the wars were stopped.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 05-12-08 6:25 PM
horizontal rule
64

27: I got it when it came out. Interesting then. Luttwak is probably trying to become relevant again. I think I remember him saying, when the USSR came apart, that things were really going to become scary. He was right.


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 05-12-08 6:40 PM
horizontal rule
65

53, 55: Hm. I've actually never read the Huffington Post. Weird place.

There was an odd interview with Arianna on Democracy Now the other day about her apparently having recently publicized the fact that McCain once told her (at a dinner party at Lauren Bacall's! I believe, though I feel I must be misremembering that) that he hadn't voted for Bush, though now he denies it. McCain as liar. It was a little strange: certainly, out the guy if he's lying, but it winds up as a he-said-she-said sort of thing. I suppose all's fair.

Ah. I see the Bacall dinner party thing was on HuffPo. No doubt.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 05-12-08 6:52 PM
horizontal rule
66

when the USSR came apart, that things were really going to become scary. He was right.

Fear of tic tac toe global thermonuclear war seems to have declined, though.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 05-12-08 7:13 PM
horizontal rule
67

66: Fear of global thermonuclear war seems to have declined been redirected, though.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 05-12-08 7:28 PM
horizontal rule
68

No, I actually think fear of total annihilation as a result of diplomatic/international relations failures has made an overall decrease.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 05-12-08 7:32 PM
horizontal rule
69

Meanwhile, did someone mention the the security protecting a President Obama?


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 05-12-08 7:36 PM
horizontal rule
70

And: Slate's Today's Papers takes the Luttwak argument seriously and helpfully pushes it for the benefit of people who won't read the whole thing.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 05-12-08 7:41 PM
horizontal rule
71

The mosques and Islam-o-tchochke stores around here all have Obama signs in their windows. I don't know whether that means they think he's a Secret Muslim or a Black Nationalist, but I'd imagine they wouldn't so visibly support an apostate.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 05-12-08 8:28 PM
horizontal rule
72

FWIW, I agree with 68.

I'm old enough (just) to remember growing up with the fear of global thermonuclear war. OTOH, I remember seeing "Failsafe" for the first time, and thinking, "Goddamn, those people in the 50s were really scared of global thermonuclear war."


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 05-12-08 9:11 PM
horizontal rule
73

69: Fucking A.

Assholes.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 05-12-08 9:12 PM
horizontal rule
74

Meanwhile, did someone mention the the security protecting a President Obama?

Holy shit.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 05-12-08 9:15 PM
horizontal rule
75

Eh. The SS are basically police, and there are 3000+ of them. I'm not surprised that there are some people with bad attitudes on race related issues. I assume it increases with age and seniority, which sucks for people who work for them, but leaves hope that the problem will grow smaller with time.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 05-12-08 9:25 PM
horizontal rule
76

68, 72: Fear can be fungible ya know. Just sayin.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 05-12-08 9:27 PM
horizontal rule
77

Sure, but there's no first law of phobodynamics.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 05-12-08 9:30 PM
horizontal rule
78

Fear is a man's best friend.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 05-12-08 9:30 PM
horizontal rule
79

72: Yes, we really, really, really were afraid of the H-bomb, the USSR, and mistakes. No doubt about it. apocalyptic themes abounded in movies, SF, and general conversation; it wasn't something one could ignore if one had even a bit of imagination.

Yeah, I think that general fear of annihilation has dropped. It's been raised in the big cities tho', the ones labeled 'high value targets". No?


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 05-12-08 9:36 PM
horizontal rule
80

OK, you guys win, we would never be rushed into anything hasty or unprincipled due to fear of destruction by the weaponry of others these days...

Anyway, here is a great site (Conelrad) for all your cold war paranoia needs (check out the "atomic platters").


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 05-12-08 9:45 PM
horizontal rule
81

OK, you guys win, we would never be rushed into anything hasty or unprincipled due to fear of destruction by the weaponry of others these days...

Yup, that's exactly what I said. And in those words too!


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 05-12-08 9:47 PM
horizontal rule
82

Here is a great site: ThingsYoungerThanMcCain.com.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 05-12-08 10:02 PM
horizontal rule
83
More broadly, most citizens of the Islamic world would be horrified by the fact of Senator Obama's conversion to Christianity once it became widely known -- as it would, no doubt, should he win the White House.

Good thing those citizens of the Islamic world don't have access to the New York Times.

It would probably be good for the Times to be inundated with letters asking why they published this crap.

Nah, can't do that. What do you think we are, conservatives ?



Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 05-12-08 10:06 PM
horizontal rule
84

82 is great. FM radio! The chocolate chip cookie! Alaska and Hawai'i!


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 05-12-08 10:09 PM
horizontal rule
85

79: I think it's lower even in the big cities. If you managed to kill 100 times as many people as on September 11th, you are just starting to scratch the surface of what you might do with a smallish nuclear weapon. San Francisco has pretty high publicity value, but between NAS Alameda, Hunters Point, and the Blue Cube, the entire Bay Area would have been well and truly fucked in a full scale nuclear war.


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 05-12-08 10:11 PM
horizontal rule
86

79: What water moccasin said, plus New Yorkers don't exactly seem to be paralyzed with fear of terrorist attack.


Posted by: Hamilton-Lovecraft | Link to this comment | 05-12-08 11:13 PM
horizontal rule
87

I'm going to commit an analogy.

A gay activist I know comments that once, just once, he'd like to see a formal or informal defense of gay panic from someone that any gay person would conceivably wish to flirt with. But he found that the answer "Relax, you're so far from being interesting, let alone appealing" didn't actually help.


Posted by: Bruce Baugh | Link to this comment | 05-13-08 12:57 AM
horizontal rule
88

Luttwak also famously predicted that the battle-hardened Iraqi Army would prove a tough nut to crack in 1991. "All those precision weapons and gadgets and gizmos and stealth fighters . . . are not going
to make it possible to re-conquer Kuwait without many thousands of casualties."


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 05-13-08 2:56 AM
horizontal rule
89

Eh, wasn't so improbable at the time. Iraq had just kicked Iran's ass in, and we'd spent our time invading Grenada and Panama. Iraq-Iran was a proper war; Grenada and Panama were training. Keep in mind the last real war we'd fought was Vietnam. Our success in Iraq I was something of a revelation.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 05-13-08 3:41 AM
horizontal rule
90

Yeah, as a teenager in the eighties, I was vaguely expecting to be suddenly incinerated at all times. Even if I thought a terrorist attack on NY was likely, which I don't, I'd be surprised to be personally injured in one.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-13-08 5:44 AM
horizontal rule
91

Biohazard is spot on. When I turned 40, I remember briefly thinking, "Shit, what do I do now? I was planning to be dead by this time." This is probably the greatest single difference between boomers and the younger cohorts.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 05-13-08 6:13 AM
horizontal rule
92

Our success in Iraq I was something of a revelation.

I'd say it was more of a reminder as to why we don't see a lot of conventional action. Pretty much anyone who thinks they're going to confront us with heavy equipment on open ground should take a good look at Gulf War I, and then come up with a different plan.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 05-13-08 6:44 AM
horizontal rule
93

When I turned 40, I remember briefly thinking, "Shit, what do I do now? I was planning to be dead by this time."

I'm know this feeling! I've got six months left before I turn 40, though.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 05-13-08 6:47 AM
horizontal rule
94

I think it's lower even in the big cities

Yup. It's weird to try and remember how much anxiety there was in the eighties. Two big stressors--global thermonuclear war and rampant crime--have essentially disappeared. Even mass unemployment --we had something like 10% unemployment in '82--feels, if not is, unlikely.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 05-13-08 7:03 AM
horizontal rule
95

Even mass unemployment --we had something like 10% unemployment in '82--feels, if not is, unlikely.

The magic of persistent undercounting.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-13-08 7:09 AM
horizontal rule
96

As a child in the eighties, I just assumed imminent destruction was something everyone had to deal with. My approach: nothing to be done, so I'd better win the summer reading derby! Which I did, Montclair Elementary bitches. Hint: The secret of my success was Edward Eager.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 05-13-08 7:26 AM
horizontal rule
97

Biohazard is spot on. When I turned 40, I remember briefly thinking, "Shit, what do I do now? I was planning to be dead by this time." This is probably the greatest single difference between boomers and the younger cohorts.

Right. Instead, we're thinking "By the time I'm 40, the world will be plunged into mass chaos because by then climate change will have started destroying entire civilizations. But at least I'll be alive, because I live in a rich country!"


Posted by: Ardent reader | Link to this comment | 05-13-08 8:16 AM
horizontal rule
98

This is probably the greatest single difference between boomers and the younger cohorts.

"You've thrown the greatest fear that could ever be hurled
The fear to bring children into this world."

I actually always thought that was overstated, but: A. as I said, the 50s/early 60s were 10X more paranoid than the 70s/80s, by which point we'd had detente and 30-odd years of equilibrium; and B. as I mentioned on the bottleclypse thread, parenthood really does shift your perspective on this sort of thing, but I was a kid in the 70s/80s.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 05-13-08 8:18 AM
horizontal rule
99

The magic of persistent undercounting.

Come on, now, Sifu, there's no comparison between the unemployment situation in '82 (in much of the country) and anything since. You had plants employing 10,000 people shutting down on a weekly basis; now a significant manufacturing plant may not even reach 4 figures of employment. Even with the housing market bust, we're not looking at as many construction jobs going away as we saw in 1982.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 05-13-08 8:24 AM
horizontal rule
100

JRoth is right. Instead of unemployed people, now we have people who are employed but with no chance of ever ceasing to be poor. Keeps them tired and off the streets.


Posted by: Ardent reader | Link to this comment | 05-13-08 8:27 AM
horizontal rule
101

99: well, right. The jobs have either moved off-the-books or overseas, and people who get fired get fired from service industry jobs, and often don't qualify for unemployment, so the actual jobless numbers are much lower than they were when pensioned, unionized workers were getting laid off and looking for similar work. It's like magic!

As far as the actual number of people who can't find enough income to support their families, I doubt we're in any better shape than we were.

I'm cribbing from half-remembered excerpts of a Harper's article I can't find online, but anyhow.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-13-08 8:30 AM
horizontal rule
102

80: That Conelrad site is both funny and creepy to someone my age. To get the right POV fpr the times one needs to turn off any sense of humor and take it all in with deadly seriousness.


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 05-13-08 8:46 AM
horizontal rule
103

I think the level of concern about actual thermonuclear death in the 50s/60s is being somewhat exaggerated, a lot of it was people adjusting to the thrill of the concept of possible apocalypse (for instance the wacky nature of a lot of the stuff on the Conelrad site linked in 80). From my perspective more of the paranoia and concern of the time was around the sly Commies winning the hearts and minds of the world, not that we would all die. By the 80s it was just the insane lies of the CIA and the Reaganites (but from comments above clearly they had an impact).

But I find much more raw fear in the country today than at any time in my life (admittedly it could be me; age, family situation etc.), even if it is not fear of thermonuclear destruction specifically.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 05-13-08 8:48 AM
horizontal rule
104

103 w/o seeing 102, I think I am a bit younger than you Bio, so it all probably struck me a bit differently.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 05-13-08 8:50 AM
horizontal rule
105

I'd guess overall fear was higher for a period after 9/11 but is lower now. My oldest sister had nuclear war nightmares during the Reagan years....my parents were doing nuclear freeze-y stuff back than, so maybe she was more aware of it than some kids, but I don't think it was so uncommon.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 05-13-08 8:58 AM
horizontal rule
106

My oldest sister had nuclear war nightmares during the Reagan years

Oh, me too. All the time.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-13-08 9:01 AM
horizontal rule
107

Fear of what?

In the cold war maybe it was fear of our enemies.

Nowadays it has been replaced by fear of an inevitable doom that can be attributed to nobody in particular.


Posted by: Ardent reader | Link to this comment | 05-13-08 9:01 AM
horizontal rule
108

Nowadays it has been replaced by fear of an inevitable doom that can be attributed to nobody in particular.

I'm not sure that's true. Or it may be true for people who have similar levels of fear, but I think that those people are a smaller percentage of the baseline population.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 05-13-08 9:04 AM
horizontal rule
109

105: You are right that it does seem to have subsided from post-2001, which literally drove us crazy. I don't think the freaking terrorist alert code manipulation stuff from 2004 would work this year (in fact do they still do the colors?) Sadly, it was still strong enough in 2004 to help elect buffoon boy. (My heart sank when a potentially reasonable guy at work I had been working on told me the day before the election that he was still going for Bush, because "I gotta protect my little girls".)


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 05-13-08 9:05 AM
horizontal rule
110

I had nuclear war annihilation dreams as a kid, and I think I'm about the same age as Katherine. I remember one in particular.... anyway, it involved nuclear annihilation of the Bay Area being entirely my fault because my Viking costume did not sufficiently distract the Soviet bombers.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 05-13-08 9:12 AM
horizontal rule
111

for a nuclear annihilation dream that's kind of awesome.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 05-13-08 9:14 AM
horizontal rule
112

because my Viking costume did not sufficiently distract the Soviet bombers.

Goddammit, JM. The braids aren't enough: you need the gold boobie-plate. Nuclear war is no time for half measures!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-13-08 9:16 AM
horizontal rule
113

They dropped the bomb on my elementary school, of course.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 05-13-08 9:16 AM
horizontal rule
114

105, 106, 110: I'm learning something here. I really thought those fears were over by then (or at least not pervasive). I guess it was just me not taking into account that impressionable young kids are defenseless against the inflammatory political rhetoric of adults.



Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 05-13-08 9:18 AM
horizontal rule
115

114: keep in mind TV and movie theaters were full of things like The Day After and Red Dawn and the Mad Max movies. Apocalypse seemed very present to my impressionable little ass.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-13-08 9:20 AM
horizontal rule
116

Following on #115, it's really hard to communicate a change in, for lack of a better phrase, emotional climate. That really struck me when Megan from the Archives mentioned the crime issue a while ago. It has just dropped off the table. There aren't endless discussions that go on for years about the creation of superpredators. And the same has happened with the end of world by war, and (I think) economic terror.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 05-13-08 9:24 AM
horizontal rule
117

When I was in fifth grade, the topic of the local nerd competition (for eighth graders, but my district's eighth graders were going on a trip so they tapped us fifth graders) was nuclear war & disarmanent. We had to do research by reading papers and the WSJ and then go to a competition where we brainstormed with other nerd children a solution and won points for being good debaters and being good facilitators of discussion.

It was certainly on everyone's minds.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 05-13-08 9:24 AM
horizontal rule
118

115: Yes, and that was when the Nuclear Winter stuff first came to prominence. I was inured by 20+ years of government lies and it was obvious to me that the Soviets were going to succumb to the onslaught of Levis and McDonalds. (I worked with a number of technically-oriented Soviet ex-pats in the late 70s and early 80s, they hated the government there, but were surprised at the strawman we had built up.)


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 05-13-08 9:25 AM
horizontal rule
119

Crime is def. part of why I think overall fear has declined--a combination of actual declines in violent crime rates in many places & the emergence of the newer, fresher terrorist bogeyman. You'd think we might be able to get some saner policies out of this, but politicians are so habituated to the idea that "soft on crime" = political suicide that I don't know.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 05-13-08 9:27 AM
horizontal rule
120

It was the era of Star Wars, too. And Chernobyl. In general, as a kid I really didn't realize we were on a deaccelerating nuclear terror-mobile.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-13-08 9:27 AM
horizontal rule
121

118: Ha! I've been assuming you were much too young to remember all of this. Nevermind.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 05-13-08 9:28 AM
horizontal rule
122

Interestingly, Tim, your age in my mental picture of you has been revised upwards by quite a bit lately. In fact I think I may have had a dream last night where you were Barbara Walters (or some older female TV personality; it's a little fuzzy).

Boy do I spend too much time commenting here.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-13-08 9:29 AM
horizontal rule
123

121: Nah I'm just another boomer 5th columnist sent here to sow discord and ensure that my generation gets to spend every dime of Social Security and leave you punks with fuck all. I like to think that I've been more subtle than Bob, but looks like my cover is blown now.

122: In fact I think I may have had a dream last night where you were Barbara Walters dressed as a Viking, riding a bomb down like Slim Pickens in Dr. Strangelove.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 05-13-08 9:36 AM
horizontal rule
124

1. I was just commenting on my childhood hatred of the Russians with my dad. As a child, I'd gone out to a seal preserve with my school and learned that the seals had been hunted nearly to extinction by nineteenth-century Russian trappers; I remember distinctly thinking, "Russian exterminators, well, that figures."

2. When I was a freshman, the best Lincoln-Douglas debater in my high school (I think she made the top ten nationwide or something) was running an argument about how nuclear deterrance ran counter to Kantian ethics, as a form, basically, of mass terrorism. It absolutely blew my young mind.

3. I think I've mentioned this one before: my first political memory dates from first grade, when a classmate asked me whom my parents were voting for. I said Reagan, and he started screaming that Reagan was going to get us all blown up. (His mother was a potter, a total hippy, a very nice woman, but apparently politics were a very emotional business in their household.) Scared the crap out of my six year-old self.

4. A favorite outdoor game in my best friend's terraced garden was to run panicked along the little paths shrieking "The Russians are coming! The Russians are coming!" I have no idea where we got that one. I think it interchanged nicely with the "Run away from the Sex Maniac!"game.

Anyway, some data points. I was born in 77.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 05-13-08 9:46 AM
horizontal rule
125

I still have the occasional nuclear annihilation dream, always some very detailed visualization of the moment the warheads fall from the sky or the bombers appear on the horizon. The setting is always my hometown, where I haven't lived in a decade and a half.


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 05-13-08 9:52 AM
horizontal rule
126

And Chernobyl.

When Chernobyl happened, my engineering teacher took us out to measure the school with a geiger counter. it was freakishly high on the rainward side compared to the side sheltered from the rain.

That was a bit disturbing.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 05-13-08 9:55 AM
horizontal rule
127

Anyway, some data points. I was born in 77.

I was born in 82. I have absolutely no memories of anything Cold War-related.

So there you go!


Posted by: Auto-banned | Link to this comment | 05-13-08 9:56 AM
horizontal rule
128

I always comforted myself with the knowledge that living about 3 miles from a major oil refinery, and less than 30 from a couple of submarine bases, that I'd have been annihilated in the first couple of minutes of any nuclear exchange.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 05-13-08 10:07 AM
horizontal rule
129

Biohazard is spot on. When I turned 40, I remember briefly thinking, "Shit, what do I do now? I was planning to be dead by this time." This is probably the greatest single difference between boomers and the younger cohorts.

For some reason, I never felt very much of this. As a war-aviation-history nerd I was certainly aware enough, much more than most my age, of the possibilities. Guess psychologically I'm always inclined to think "whimper" more likely than "bang."


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 05-13-08 10:07 AM
horizontal rule
130

That was why the Soviets were going after my elementary school. Something to do with the optimal distance between the refinary, the city, and something else. If I'd managed to distract them with my Viking costume, they would've dropped the bombs somewhere unimportant, like Stanford.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 05-13-08 10:09 AM
horizontal rule
131

103

"I think the level of concern about actual thermonuclear death in the 50s/60s is being somewhat exaggerated, ..."

I believe it was much higher than in the 80s as was the objective danger (of nuclear war at least).


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 05-13-08 10:12 AM
horizontal rule
132

I can't say I ever genuinely felt any fear at all about nuclear war. But, when we discussed it, after things like Threads and The War Game came on telly, it was always pretty clear to me that if the 'big one' hit, central Scotland would be a smoking hole in the ground anyway.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 05-13-08 10:14 AM
horizontal rule
133

Anyway, some data points. I was born in 77

Huh, I was born in 79 and lived about 60 miles from a SAC base in a state full of nuclear missiles and I don't remember much real fear of nuclear war growing up.


Posted by: CJB | Link to this comment | 05-13-08 10:19 AM
horizontal rule
134

89

"Eh, wasn't so improbable at the time. Iraq had just kicked Iran's ass in, and we'd spent our time invading Grenada and Panama. Iraq-Iran was a proper war; Grenada and Panama were training. Keep in mind the last real war we'd fought was Vietnam. Our success in Iraq I was something of a revelation."

The predictions of high US casulties didn't make sense even at the time and if I remember correctly at least one of the people making them admitted later he was exaggerating in an attempt to prevent the war. And the Iraq-Iran war was a stalemate, it was not a decisive Iraqi victory.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 05-13-08 10:20 AM
horizontal rule
135

Also born in 1982, also have no memories of the Cold War, at least not that come to mind today. I probably knew about the fall of the Berlin Wall not too long after it happened, but the first memory I have of seeing or reading about it was in a comic book which, according to Wikipedia, was published in 1993.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 05-13-08 11:15 AM
horizontal rule