When is a first strike not a first strike?
When it's Anticipatory Retaliation.

May 31, 2004

O'Rourke Strikes Again

Bravo Romeo Delta

P.J. O'Rourke has another offering in the WSJ.

A few quotes:

One thing to whine about will be the fate of Israel. Without American safeguards that nation is certain to be militarily attacked. To judge by previous Israeli wars, in 1948, 1956, 1967, 1973 and 1982, the result will be serious headaches for Israelis as the Knesset furiously debates the status of Jewish settlements outside Damascus and on the west bank of the Euphrates.


The threat of nuclear proliferation will abate as dangerous stockpiles of atomic weapons are quickly used up. The loss of life will be regrettable. But this will be counterbalanced by the welcome disappearance of long-standing international flashpoints when the India-Pakistan border is vaporized, Tehran disappears in a mushroom cloud, and whatever is left of the Korean Peninsula becomes reunited.

(Courtesy American Digest)

Launched by Bravo Romeo Delta at 12:46 AM | Retaliatory Launches Detected (1)
» My Pet Jawa Retaliates with: No Wife and No TV Make Rusty A Something Something

May 28, 2004

Ya ever notice...

Bravo Romeo Delta

How when the US hires support personnel to augment their forces, they're mercenaries, but when the UN hires combat troops, they're peacekeepers helping to stabilize the troubled regions?

I'm just sayin'...

Launched by Bravo Romeo Delta at 03:24 PM | Retaliatory Launches Detected (1)

May 26, 2004

Algerian Nuclear Program

Bravo Romeo Delta

On May 21st, BBC Worldwide Monitoring Service reported that Algerian Islamist opposition radio Al-Salam cited unconfirmed reports from Western intelligence agencies that confirm Algeria's intention to develop a nuclear capability, as well as stating that the weapons should be available in 2005.

In general, these sorts of reports don't merit a lot of credence, although the role of Iranian insurgent groups in unveiling the Iranian nuclear program do provide a counterexample that suggests that not all such reports can be dismissed out of hand.

Launched by Bravo Romeo Delta at 12:21 AM | Retaliatory Launches Detected (1)

May 25, 2004

Why Iraq Won't Settle Down

Bravo Romeo Delta

In a lot of talk about Iraq and whether or not it can be pacified, there are a few glaring points that seem to get missed.

Short version - it won't any time soon. That may not be that bad.

Think for a minute: if Iraq turns peaceful tomorrow, both Syria and Iran (who know that they're not getting Christmas or Ramadan or Kwanza or Hanukah cards from us this year) will have the prospect of 140,000 troops sitting on their border. As long as we're tied up in counterinsurgency operations, so the logic goes, we won't invade either country.

This approach has a couple of possible outcomes [NB: this list is not comprehensive and the items listed below are not mutually exclusive].

1) An increasing level of violence prevents formation of an effective Iraqi army and police force, and America eventually suffers from conflict fatigue and withdraws.

2) An increasing level of violence prompts America to take much more aggressive actions with regards to Syrian and Iranian support for Iraqi insurgents.

3) The US is able to keep on top of the insurgency such that an Iraqi army and police force is formed and able to keep a lid on things. Seeing this, Syria and Iran reduce their support for insurgents and stability ensues.

4) The US is able to effectively fight the insurgency so that an Iraqi army and police force can be formed and take over stabilization activities. Iran and Syria continue their support - this leads to direct military confrontation between the US and either state.

5) The US beats down the insurgency long enough for Iraqi institutions to be developed to effectively address instability. The US then invades Syria or Iran for reasons that may or may not include their support for insurgents.

As indicated above, this is not an exhaustive list. One thing that I would recommend keeping in mind, however, is that an insurgency cannot function effectively for long periods without external support. This was the case in Vietnam. In a bid to prevent Iraq from taking on Vietnam-like characteristics, we need to figure out how to shut down foreign support for insurgents.

Another possibility worth mentioning is that Iran may be doing this to put pressure on the US in order to buy breathing room for their nuclear program.

All being said and done, we can no longer effectively assume that the insurgents are Ba’athist holdouts. We have been fighting a broader war since 9/11 and this essential fact cannot be forgotten.

Launched by Bravo Romeo Delta at 04:40 PM | Retaliatory Launches Detected (2)

May 24, 2004

More on Moore

Bravo Romeo Delta

An article by the Guardian (Observer) on Mike Moore at Cannes. I post the link mainly because this newspaper is one that has been uniformly critical of Bush and the Iraq War. The acknowleged editorial slant of the newspaper both provides an interesting background to what the reporter found as well as demonstrating that a solid commitment to reporting can still produce good articles, despite editorial bias. (Courtesy Tim Blair))

Launched by Bravo Romeo Delta at 04:27 PM | Retaliatory Launches Detected (0)

May 22, 2004

Chopping Off Heads

Bravo Romeo Delta

Check out this article about the cultural background of decapitation in Islam.

Fascinating. (Courtesy Werner in the comments at A Small Victory)

Launched by Bravo Romeo Delta at 02:59 AM | Retaliatory Launches Detected (0)

Feeding The Trolls

Bravo Romeo Delta

Well, I've been spending a fairly large amount of time online involved in an experiment. People are always saying, "Don't feed the troll."

I started to wonder what happens if you feed a troll. More specifically, can a troll be overfed? So that's what happened to the comments section in Michael Totten's post about Sarin. We're up to comment 162 as I write this.

I was going to go count the number of times a request or question was left unanswered by my opponent and myself. When I got to the print preview (it's easier to mark on a hardcopy), I found that the whole thing had gone on to 59 pages.

So I skipped it.

Then I started looking around at some other cool stuff that I wanted to write about.

  1. Bombers are back in vogue in the Pentagon
  2. Writing about North Korean ability to shell Seoul
  3. A treatise on the right to bear arms

But I find myself tuckered out - enough that I'm not really that hot to blog right now.

And the object of my responses keeps coming back for dose after dose.

I still haven't found out if it's possible to overfeed a troll. But I do know that it takes too damned much effort to find out. Sort of like the Tootsie Pop Problem.

Sadly nobody has invented an automatic licker for this sort of experiment, but then again, they don't tend to be all that accurate either.

Keep tuned for further updates in this incredibly inconsequential bit of debate.

Launched by Bravo Romeo Delta at 02:38 AM | Retaliatory Launches Detected (1)

May 21, 2004

Raising Rugrats

Bravo Romeo Delta

Over on the Totten blog, there's a discussion, carried on from post on Asymmetrical Information and Matthew Yglesias on the merits of raising children in the city versus suburbs.

All of these folks, in various formats, don't seem to be ultra thrilled about the prospect of bringing one's hatchlings to maturity in suburbia. Some of their commenters disagree.

These are kind of interesting posts, in so far as all three of these folks, Michael Totten, Jane Galt, and Matthew Yglesias are all of a relatively similar age, and don't have a lot of first hand recollection of the urban decay that was spreading across American cities during the middle twentieth century.

For many folks the age of these blogger's parents the decision that the city was a bad place to raise kids may have stemmed, in some part, from imagery such as the Watts Riots (in which 34 were killed, 1,100 injured, 4,000 arrested, and $100 million in damages) and the like which were popping up all over the country at the time.

Those scenes of violence, and the collapse of domestic heavy industry also strongly prompted white flight from the cities and fostered urban decay in many places. Urban decay is something that a lot of folks may have little experience (particularly historical perspective) with.

Fortunately, the Detroit News did a five-part series on the decay of a city block in Detroit. The entire thing is well worth reading - I know it's long, but it is a classic anatomy of the death of a this bit of America.

Failing that, I give you the following: a comparison of the 1900 block of Elmhurst Avenue in Detroit in 1953 versus the same block in 2001.

The neighborhood in 1953 versus less than half a century later in 2001.

Or, for another view - the evolution into urban prairie ...

The view looking east from atop the abandoned apartments at 1977 Elmhurst in Detroit shows the block after five decades of white flight, abandonment, crime, absentee landlords and lax bureaucracy.

Launched by Bravo Romeo Delta at 02:14 AM | Retaliatory Launches Detected (0)

May 20, 2004

Guns, Guns, Guns

Charlie Victor Echo

(After more thought, I did a little editting and posted it anyhow...sometimes, you just need to go with your gut. -CVE)

One of the interesting things about a column like this is the way it lets you get a better look at the writing process. There are, after all, a metric ton of pressing and relevant issues that I could (and probably should) write about right now.

Iraq War, execution of hostages, treatment of prisoners, what's the point having Geneva Conventions if you're just going to say 'its not really a war' and ignore them, Israel v. Palestine, China v. Taiwan, North Korea v. Everybody. The list goes on. And while I do have many and varied things to say about all of these issues and more, all it took was a random link from a buddy and I'm off the reservation onto an issue that, while possibly important in the election come November, isn't really on the front burner right now. But its the one stuck in my head, so that's the one I'm going to write about.

This writing thing's a funny business, ain't it?

So a friend of mine sent me a link exposing the malpractice involved in Michael' Moore's Bowling for Columbine. I've said before that I have little use for Moore, and that link tells you why.

Thing is, he had an opportunity to make something worthwhile on the subject of America and Firearms, and no matter how much money he made on Columbine the fact remains that the subsequent research into the crap he pulled with it have blown any long term credibility he or his film might have had.

And that's a shame, because there are some serious and troubling issues to be addressed in this matter, and all Bowling for Columbine did was obfusacte them. So I'm going to take a stab at them.

Here's my question:

Why do Americans need guns?

To save some time (and pad my word count) let me anticipate the probable responses, and give you my rebuttals:

1. Hunting is a Way of Life

Hunting was a way of life. I won't discount the importance of game hunting in an agrarian society, but we haven't been primarily an agrarian society in quite some time. Hunting for pleasure is a luxury and an indulgence, not a neccessity. To argue that the pleasure hunters recieve while hunting compensates for the number of guns deaths we suffer strikes me as a rather callous attitude. To be sure, most gun deaths are attributable to handguns rather than rifles or shotguns so perhaps hunting could be considered sustainable. But if we accept the hunting argument, then we should therefore be willing to do away with non-hunting weapons like handguns and assault weapons, and the NRA wants us to have those too...

2. I need it to Defend Myself

This one's tricky, because a quick search across the web shows as many different numbers for "self-defense" shootings as there are websites talking about it. A common number is 43 times as many wrongful gun deaths as justified ones, but that number seems to include suicides, most of which would have been accomplished without a gun present. So let's toss out the numbers for a moment and go with feel. I remember Bernie Goetz and the huge amount of press he got for shooting some punks in New York. That was a big deal. I can't imagine that similar situaitions where an intruder is shot in a house or an attacker is gunned down in self-defense wouldn't recieve at least some media play, even if only locally. But despite my living in a major metropollitan area and reading a newspaper every morning, I can't recall very many cases like that.

But every week, and sometimes every day, I read about another shooting death, either a murder or an accident. And unless someone wants to make the patently ludicrous argument that the American Media would willingly give up a quick buck to hide flashy stories like that, that sure seems to suggest that guns used successfully for self-defense are a fairly small minorty of the guns used for everything else, even if we remove hunting from the equation entirely.

So is the feeling of security you have from a gun worth the increased risk it adds to your life? Because there is extra risk, both for an accident as well as someone losing thier temper and doing something they'd later regret.

3. The Constitution Says I Can

Does it really? Sure, everyone's heard the oft repeated "the right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed." Thing is, that's leaving out half the Amendment:

"A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed."

What happened to the well regulated militia? What are gun control laws if not attempts to regulate well? We can 'Michael Moore' the thing, if we like. Here's a version:

"A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall be infringed."

All I did was drop three letters from the Amendment and suddenly the whole thing goes off in a completely different direction.

How much more off the rails do we go if we ignore twelve whole words? Isn't that what Moore was doing? Wasn't he ignoring words he didn't like and twisting the ones that remain to fit his purpose?

How is dumping 5% of the Bill of Rights any different than that?

4. I Need Guns to Overthrow the Government if they get Oppressive

I love this one. I really do. When I first had that one explained to me I broke out laughing.


Unless you want to start handing out M-1s, F117s, and nukes, you're not going to overthrow the U.S. Government. The military power is out of reach. Its been 139 years and a few days since several states tried that route and failed. A few guys with pistols and rifles aren't going to accomplish a damn thing.

More to the point, if you believe that a group of insurgents armed only with second rate gear could hold out indefinitely against the modern American Military, then you should also be saying that we need to get out of Iraq, because that's exactly what we're facing over there.

How well did Ruby Ridge and Waco work out in the "overthrow the government" scheme?

Some Concluding Thoughts

"So what are you saying Chuck, that we should all hand in our guns?"

Well, no. Whatever ideals I may hold, I'm too much a historian to get fooled by utopian ideas like that. Guns are integral to American culture, particularly in the South and West, and they're not going away on my say so.

But let's look at it another way. We regulate driving. We say you have to be at least 16 years old and able to see this well and be smart and educated enough to pass a basic test on how to drive. This is for a vehicle designed for transportation that could, if used incorrectly, injure or kill others.

For guns, on the other hand, all most states ask is that you show an ID and wait a week, and not have had a felony conviction. This for devices that are designed to injure and kill. What's more, the NRA doesn't like even that much. And making mandatory the kind of education and testing that we require to drive a car?


But why is it unthinkable? We regulate things that harm others. That's fundamental to Modern Government. We require a certain degree of expertise to drive a car, fly a plane, or operate heavy machinery. We ban smoking in public areas to prevent injury to bystanders. We say you can't blast your music in a residential area at night. We ban telemarketing after 9pm.

Why can't we just say, "You need to have some education before you own a gun."

Launched by Charlie Victor Echo at 07:49 PM | Retaliatory Launches Detected (5)

More About Sarin

Bravo Romeo Delta

Today, James Taranto bristles at statements in the LA Times to the effect that trace amounts of Sarin were found in our most recent celebrity artillery shell. He does correctly note that newspapers are using the term "trace" to give the impression that the total amount of chemical weapons found were miniscule.

However, James is slightly off the mark here.

The shell in questino was a binary agent, meaning that it had two less toxic chemicals, held in separate chambers, which produce Sarin when mixed. Apparently the EOD guys drained at least one of the chambers during their attempted disarmement of the device. This is a pretty prudent move since it means that if you accidently detonate the bursting charge, you don't have 4 liters of sarin to contend with, but a much smaller residual amount.

Thus, during the disarmament of the shell, some of the chemicals mixed, but not the entire 4 liters. Hence, only trace amounts of Sarin were detected.

To say, however, that this means that it is not a violation of disarmament conditions completely misses the point. Having two weaponized halves of a binary munition is not mysteriously less of a chemical weapon than a one weaponized unitary munition.

By way of analogy, if someone has claimed to have given up smoking, but you discover them with a lit cigarette in hand, they aren't technically puffing away, but you can pretty easily make the case that they haven't actually kicked the habit.

Moreover, since binary munitions capability was a proscribed technology, this is something that should have been declared as part of any disarmament program - even if the weapons were subsequently destroyed. Similarly, the Iraqis failed to indicate that any artillery shells were filled with Sarin - unitary or otherwise. So, above and beyond the actual existence of the shell, it represents a double violation of Iraq's obligations.

Launched by Bravo Romeo Delta at 06:02 PM | Retaliatory Launches Detected (0)
» Electronic Countermeasures Retaliates with: So cutting edge it kind of hurts.

The Kay Report

Bravo Romeo Delta

I know it's long overdue, but in light of the Sarin round, I wanted to post a few selections from David Kay's interim report. A lot of folks been going around yammering about how Kay didn't find anything, but as usual the yammering isn't really altogether, let us say, "correct."

So, here's a selection of a few key grafs...

Biological Weapons:

With regard to biological warfare activities, which has been one of our two initial areas of focus, ISG teams are uncovering significant information - including research and development of BW-applicable organisms, the involvement of Iraqi Intelligence Service (IIS) in possible BW activities, and deliberate concealment activities. All of this suggests Iraq after 1996 further compartmentalized its program and focused on maintaining smaller, covert capabilities that could be activated quickly to surge the production of BW agents.

Chemical Weapons

Let me turn now to chemical weapons (CW). In searching for retained stocks of chemical munitions, ISG has had to contend with the almost unbelievable scale of Iraq's conventional weapons armory, which dwarfs by orders of magnitude the physical size of any conceivable stock of chemical weapons. For example, there are approximately 130 known Iraqi Ammunition Storage Points (ASP), many of which exceed 50 square miles in size and hold an estimated 600,000 tons of artillery shells, rockets, aviation bombs and other ordinance. Of these 130 ASPs, approximately 120 still remain unexamined. As Iraqi practice was not to mark much of their chemical ordinance and to store it at the same ASPs that held conventional rounds, the size of the required search effort is enormous.

While searching for retained weapons, ISG teams have developed multiple sources that indicate that Iraq explored the possibility of CW production in recent years, possibly as late as 2003. When Saddam had asked a senior military official in either 2001 or 2002 how long it would take to produce new chemical agent and weapons, he told ISG that after he consulted with CW experts in OMI he responded it would take six months for mustard. Another senior Iraqi chemical weapons expert in responding to a request in mid-2002 from Uday Husayn for CW for the Fedayeen Saddam estimated that it would take two months to produce mustard and two years for Sarin.

Nuclear Weapons

With regard to Iraq's nuclear program, the testimony we have obtained from Iraqi scientists and senior government officials should clear up any doubts about whether Saddam still wanted to obtain nuclear weapons. They have told ISG that Saddam Husayn remained firmly committed to acquiring nuclear weapons. These officials assert that Saddam would have resumed nuclear weapons development at some future point. Some indicated a resumption after Iraq was free of sanctions. At least one senior Iraqi official believed that by 2000 Saddam had run out of patience with waiting for sanctions to end and wanted to restart the nuclear program. The Iraqi Atomic Energy Commission (IAEC) beginning around 1999 expanded its laboratories and research activities and increased its overall funding levels. This expansion may have been in initial preparation for renewed nuclear weapons research, although documentary evidence of this has not been found, and this is the subject of continuing investigation by ISG.

Delivery Systems

With regard to delivery systems, the ISG team has discovered sufficient evidence to date to conclude that the Iraqi regime was committed to delivery system improvements that would have, if OIF had not occurred, dramatically breached UN restrictions placed on Iraq after the 1991 Gulf War.
Launched by Bravo Romeo Delta at 12:57 AM | Retaliatory Launches Detected (0)

Odd Synchronicity

Bravo Romeo Delta

Roger L. Simon writes this post about polarization today. Among other things, the comments section is, by and large, full of some really insightful commentary. The other parts of the commentary are also interest, less for what they say, but what they say about the worldviews of the commenters. Worth a read. Most of my take on a few of the issues they touch on is here.

The odd bit, is that on one of my other regular reads, Michael Totten, there resides a virtual spambot of a commenter who just can't seem to live with the notion of the Sarin shell found in Iraq. In the comments, I actually post some stuff about chemical weapons and background.

The interesting bit to me about the whole thing, is that it is seldom that one runs into a person so adamant in their beliefs and so confident in their abilities that they don't dissolve into a haze of ad hominem attacks. In so doing, this guy provides some real insight into the mindset of a 'true believer' of the anti-war crowd.

Now, if I were really insightful, I would use this guy as a test case to test the veracity of some of the claims made in Roger Simon's comment section. But I'm all tuckered out from responding to the guy in Totten's blog, that I am going to let the opportunity slide. But, if y'all do that and find anything interesting, let me know, and I'd be happy to post it.

Launched by Bravo Romeo Delta at 12:48 AM | Retaliatory Launches Detected (0)

May 19, 2004

The War On Terror and It's Cousins

Bravo Romeo Delta

There has been a fair amount of talk likening the current War on Terror to other conflicts in American history. And, like all analogies, these fall short in particular instances. Or, as Mark Twain said, "History doesn't repeat itself, but it does rhyme."

Without rehashing some of the various proposed rhyme schemes, one conflict in particular has been gnawing at the back of my skull for attention.

That conflict would be the Plains Indian Wars. Granted, there are a lot of dissimilarities, but a couple of points tweaked my interest.

First, the absolute disparity in what constituted moral behavior in war. Indians scalped and engaged in other acts that whites viewed as atrocities, while the western way of total warfare was seen as an abomination by Indians. Both sides found themselves locked in an increasingly bitter feud that crept, by increments, to a nearly genocidal fever pitch.

Secondly, there is a passing resemblance between the difference in social structures between the two groups. On a most basic level, Indian loyalty was generally to the tribe above all others (the Algonquin roundtable notwithstanding), in much the same way that much of the Arab world tends towards clan loyalty. On the other hand, you found a western government steeped in traditional western values and immersed in a very western outlook.

Third, there was a marked difference in the ability of both factions to fight wars. The Indians were, by and large, raiders and weren't terribly good at European-style pitched battles. By the same token, Arab armies don't tend to be terribly effective in mechanized warfare and have chosen terrorism and guerilla warfare as their prime mode of engagement.

Fourth, the role of the agricultural lands in the future of the United States could be seen as a very rough parallel to the strategic importance of petroleum products for the globalizing world.

Fifth, the ever-shifting array of alliances, proxy wars, client combatants and otherwise Byzantine political arrangements marked the unsteady progress of the war over the course of decades. Similarly, we've been engaged in the Middle East for decades in a swirling maelstrom of alliances, treachery, and political machinations.

All in all, this could simply be a whim, but there were enough features in common to at least give me pause, even if the match is not complete.

While it seems that Wretchard of the Belmont Club has already alluded to this issue, I swear I thought of it on my own. At any rate, his comparison to the Civil War is definitely worth a gander.

Launched by Bravo Romeo Delta at 12:51 AM | Retaliatory Launches Detected (0)

May 18, 2004

Rules of War

Charlie Victor Echo

I've got another post in production, but upon a re-read, I'm not sure I like it much. So while I continue to think on that one, here's another issue I've had in mind...

The Bush Administration likes to remind us that we're fighting a war. Its the "war on terror" this, the "war on terror" that. Just yesterday Veep Cheney brought it up again, this time during a luncheon for a Georgia Congressman.

Here's the thing. If this is a war, and they constantly tell us it is, then why aren't we playing by the rules of war? Setting aside the lack of a formal Declaration of War before we invaded, conquered, and are now occupying a (formerly) sovereign nation, it also now seems that we're not following the Geneva Conventions when dealing with prisoners from that nation.

Now that were thinking about it, shouldn't the Taliban soldiers we picked up in Afghanistan also be considered prisoners of war? We invaded that country, albeit with cause, but again, not Declaration of War, and no Geneva Conventions.

I'm not bringing this up because I'm particularly fond of the Taliban or Baathists. Far from it. They represent the worst elements of human society, and its sickening to see that after millions died to stamp out that kind of thinking 60 years ago that its still running rampant across the world. Its good that they're out of power and the world will probably in the long run be better for it.

I bring it up because its setting up a terrible precedent. If North Korea goes over the 38th Parallel (which is more likely now that we're talking about removing our troops from South Korea) or China jumps Taiwan in the next ten years, its going to be without a formal Declaration of War. We've already shown that you don't need one of those anymore. They're not going to respect the Geneva Conventions, either. Both will claim that its an internal police action against rebels and that anyone helping their opponents are terrorists or insurgents, even if it happens to be the U.S. 2nd Infantry Division.

They'll say that its not a "real" war.

You know, just like we did in Iraq and Afghanistan.

And when that leads to Americans recieving the same or worse treatment than we're inflicting on the Iraqis, I hope we recall how that came to be.

Launched by Charlie Victor Echo at 09:27 PM | Retaliatory Launches Detected (2)

Out Of Context

Bravo Romeo Delta

In Iain Banks' book Excession, he drops a term: "Out-Of-Context Problem." An Out-Of-Context Problem is one that is so wildly bizarre and alien that effective countermeasures are effectively inconceivable (at least at the time). And, as it happens, Out-Of-Context problems quite often pose existential threats to a society.

Think about how a 'cargo cult' would respond if their first contact with the larger world was full-scale nuclear war. They would quite simply die.

Or, for a more capricious example, if you're a BBC producer filming a teatime drama on the banks of the Thames, how do you respond when a gigantic writhing Kraken erupts forth and devours your cast. Pretty clearly, you might want to call the boss and explain that taping will be delayed for reasons far beyond your control.

Now, the post-9/11 environment has been likened, on occasion, to the whole Matrix-esque red bill/blue pill thing. Some folks have taken the red pill and now see the world as one gripped in a titanic struggle between classic western values, such as liberalism and rational scientific enquiry and 7th century mideval tribalism, while others have taken the blue pill, and see no such war.

As a rather perverse twist of fate, the folks who have taken the blue pill seem to think they've taken the red pill, while everyone else has taken the blue pill. But (without prejudice to either side), human self-delusion is sufficiently powerful that there may just not be a way to objectively prove anything on this whole pill issue at all.

But this all starts to obscure the more fundamental nature of 9/11 and its transformational effect on American culture. For some Americans, they think that folks are reacting to the idea that 9/11 itself was an Out-Of-Context problem. This folks, is simply wrong. As bad as 9/11 was, it wasn't truly Out-Of-Context. Countermeasures are conceivable, and it would take an almost unlimited number of 9/11s for the nation to fall.

It was, however, symptomatic of the Out-Of-Context Problem of militant Islamic fascism (or whatever you want to call it). Even to this day, I am not entirely sure we've really adapted to this new context. I am certain that folks who view 9/11 as the problem itself certainly don't grasp the larger looming threat lurking beneath the waters. They are, more or less, like the film producer above who has lost his cast to the Kraken, and wonders about where they're going to get new actors and if he'll have to pay scale. The other type of person will probably be more concerned about what to do with this god-awful creature lurking in the Thames. To take this a bit further, is that the first type of person, confronted with an Out-Of-Context Problem seeks to regain context by redefining the problem in more manageable terms. The second sort of person leaves the problem as is, and runs around trying to get a handle on this new troublesome context.

This all leads to important problems with the whole 9/11 commission and the like. Those who persist in limiting 9/11 to 9/11 itself simply think that this a blip that can be gotten over and we can all return to something resembling status quo ante. For such folks, the idea that the world around us is not the one that we understood on September 10th, 2001, is, to their eyes, propaganda put forth by the administration to provide cover for their nefarious activities.

Folks in the second category see the world through different eyes these days. They see the creature of Islamic fundamentalism cruising through the black and waiting to snatch passerby.

These people also tend to view 9/11 in much the same way I do. September 11th was simply unpreventable. I mean, aside from the fact that the hijackers had violated no laws in the US prior to 9/11, even if they had, somehow, been stopped, a similarly grisly attack of similar scale would have occurred sooner or later. People seem to forget that a plot to hijack 10 trans-Pacific airliners and crash them into the ocean (which would yield ~4,000 dead) was foiled in the late 1990's. No one apparently remembers that an Algerian plot to fly a plane into the Eiffel Tower was also stopped some years ago.

In all cases, all the evidence available could, in hindsight, lead one to understand the threat of 9/11. All the bits of evidence, except one, the fact that the problem itself was Out-Of-Context. And, if you think about the nature of Out-Of-Context Problems as being initially beyond the realm of countermeasures, there is another implied result - they are absolutely beyond the realm of preventative measures. Because, if they could be prevented, then they would be foreseeable, and therefore, not Out-Of-Context.

Or, to go back to some previous analogies, it wouldn't make a hell of a lot of sense for any of the characters in the Matrix to pick up a cell phone and ask to learn how to fly a helicopter with the absolute conviction that they would know how in a matter of seconds, unless they had taken the red pill. Or, it doesn't make sense for the Melanesian tribesmen of the cargo cults to start trying to figure out how to make a Geiger counter.

To that end, the transformation in the American mindset, or apprehension of the Out-Of-Context problem, did occur rather quickly. By my count, the transformation was well underway by the time the passengers of Flight 93 opted to fight back, rather than be a willing missile.

And when it gets down to cases, there is no other way, whatsoever, that the transformation could have taken place without the horrific events of that day. For if it were possible, then all of the passengers on all of the planes would have fought back, because we did have (in hindsight) signals about terrorist intent with both the trans-Pacific airliner and Eiffel Tower plots.

The last fear that I have, is that neither the doves nor the hawks have truly taken the red pill, but rather that this is simply a introductory conditioning phase before the real bitter phase starts. Kind of like the pause between the 1948 Berlin blockade and the Cuban Missile Crisis.

UPDATE: Check out Posts by Demosophia and My Pet Jawa on Similar Subject Matters

Launched by Bravo Romeo Delta at 02:36 AM | Retaliatory Launches Detected (1)
» Demosophia Retaliates with: The Daily Depress
» My Pet Jawa Retaliates with: The "C" Word
» Winds of Change.NET Retaliates with: Know Thine Enemy

May 17, 2004

20 kT and Counting

Bravo Romeo Delta

Well, by all reliable measures, I've passed the 20,000 visitors mark. Whee!!

And I've gotten past the bulk of my hellish time obligations, so it's about high time for some darned maintenance.

Among changes I've made is that since I already link members of mu.nu, and some of the blogs to which I've previously linked have moved to mu.nu, I'm taking off their original links in a bid to save space (and due to the fact that I've already got them linked once).

Also, as you may already know, Rachel Lucas is back from the dead, with a shaved head [Ed: What? It rhymes, but it's still stupid]. So go meander by and take a look-see. The first genuine blog which has been prematurely listed as a smoldering crater goes back for another round of strikes.

So, without further ado, here are new additions to the target list...

To start with a nice big airburst to the Pudgy Pundit, who seems to be Right-winging it with great verve and vigor. Among other things, y'all should check out his double-barreled posts on the Religion of Peace™, in which it is shown how the Umma practices Senseless Acts of Random Somthing-or-another.

We also have a nice sub-launched cruise missile delivery of atomic love to Marcland, which is appropriately hosted at Marcnet. Two fantastic linkages he doth post - first, an absolute must-read link on the effects of the Evil Palestinian Wall and Assorted Security Barrier. He also has some utterly gratiuitous bashing of Carl Levin, to no good end.

There is also the long overdue detonation of an atomic demolition munition over at the Imperial Senate. Of particular note is this account of a blogger being investigated by our Nation's Security Apparatus. It seems that Bushitler or Bushcheneyrove or whatever he's called is busy cracking down on the poor down-trodden 'speak truth to power' crowd. Or something.

I've also, by means completely unknown to me, gotten linkosity from Gerard Van der Leun of American Digest. This guy deserves (and gets) all 8 MIRVs of Peacekeeper-love, and ground-bursts, each and every one. Even if he didn't have the fine and lovely taste to link me, the guy has a truly high-quality blog worth looking at. After spending a good chunk of time reading, I actually had some difficulty picking out individual posts to highlight (but in a good way). I did choose these few posts as just being tasty and otherwise generally link-worthy.

Launched by Bravo Romeo Delta at 10:56 PM | Retaliatory Launches Detected (4)
» marcland Retaliates with: Incoming!

May 14, 2004

Say What, Again?

Bravo Romeo Delta

Many of you may have stopped to pause and wonder why and how it is that both sides of this war issue seem to have such radically different recollections of the arguments given and promises made leading up to the war. Well, the short answer is that folks were given different answers based on their pre-existing political leanings.

Similar behavior was seen in both the Gulf and Iraq Wars. Political leaders that were in favor of the war, but had reluctant constituencies tended, on whole, to spin their sale of the war, in a bid to bring people on board. For example, in the Gulf, a week or so after the bombing campaign started, a few Arab newspapers expressed concern that the Israelis had won in Six Days, but the vaunted Americans were taking much longer. Sort of similar to the early quagmire talk in Afghanistan and Iraq. The Arab leaders had sold the war, in part, on the notion that it would be a cakewalk, and the fact that the US troops hadn't even crossed the line raised some eyebrows and latent fears that the Americans really were paper tigers, and that the Egyptian, Syrian, and other troops would just be grist for the mill for the feared Iraqi army, as the Americans turned tail and ran.

Similar behavior was seen in the prelude to Iraq. Democratic politicians, who generally have more dovish constituencies, sold the WMD heavily and sold 'imminent threat' heavily. More hawkish constituencies need require as much soft-soaping, and were much more attentive to the ‘long, hard, slog talk.’ Furthermore, in the debates leading up to the war, folks spent a lot of time listening to those who agreed with them, and discounting dissimilar opinions (as folks are often wont to do.)

When comparing the statements of various leaders, one can see a marked difference in the sense of urgency conveyed in the tones. For example, House Minority Whip, Steny Hoyer, (D-MD), sold the imminent threat and WMD more heavily, than the President did during the relevant State of the Union Address. This all derives from the fact that Hoyer’s constituency simply was less inclined to support the war reflexively, and therefore required a harder sell.

So if you wonder where either the vast disagreements in who said (or emphasized) what, or where the sense of betrayal some folks have comes from, this might not be a bad direction to look in.

Launched by Bravo Romeo Delta at 04:03 PM | Retaliatory Launches Detected (2)

Alert - Scribbletry at Winds O' Change

Bravo Romeo Delta

Anticipatory Retaliation is starting to take command of other launch centers. Well, at least one launch from a different silo, but hey, who's counting?

That's right kids, I've done my first guest bloggery at Winds Of Change.

It seems that there's something about lack of sleep and heavy work loads that cultivates one's fisking ability.

Go check it out. And just leave the negative comments here, and the positive ones over there. :)

UPDATE: Skip the trip over to Winds of Change. Now that I've gotten away from the post itself, it is pretty clearly below par - even by my lousy standards - far too much snark, not enough substance. I'll let you all know when we hit something of a bit higher grade.

Launched by Bravo Romeo Delta at 05:52 AM | Retaliatory Launches Detected (2)

May 13, 2004

Back in the Saddle

Charlie Victor Echo

After a brief hiatus to set my personal affairs in order, I'm back and ready to jump up and down on my side of the good ship Anticapatory to keep it from capsizing to starboard. Given that my old friend and counterpart BRD posts more often than I do and controls the linking (which, by the by, I'm perfectly content to leave in his capable hands) there's an inherant list to our endeavour, but no one is ever completely "fair and balanced" so why should we be any different?

Anyhow, I'm back and hope to have something longer and more relevant to say up shortly.

Launched by Charlie Victor Echo at 07:44 AM | Retaliatory Launches Detected (2)
» Right Wingin-It, The Pudgy Pundit Retaliates with: As you all know, i
» Right Wingin-It, The Pudgy Pundit Retaliates with: Cold Coffee & Hot Blogs

May 11, 2004

Asymmetries at Abu Ghraib?

Bravo Romeo Delta

Belmont Club notes that this may be, perversely, a high water mark of morality in this war, in much the same way that unrestricted bombing of civilian targets was anathema at the outset of World War II, but de rigeur by its end. This echos one of the critical weaknesses of terrorism as a whole, which I spoke of in an earlier post on Asymmetries and Terrorism.

I just found the reports of the video-taped beheading of the American contractor, Nick Berg. Bookending Abu Ghraib with the mutilation of corpses in Fallujah and the beheading of a prisoner on tape, is a somewhat puzzling strategy. Even if you don't like Bush, they do say that God looks out after children, drunks, and fools. This is about as incredible a propaganda victory as the US could hope for (provided that you discount the 'Arabs Respect Strength' thesis). I am deeply curious to see how this plays out in both American and international media.

On the one hand, it most certainly will take some of the heat off of the US for the prison thing. If we follow the high road on this, then we may be in a position to score a major propaganda victory. We may not have huge moral authority in this conflict, but these idiots are bound and determined to make sure they don't have it either.

Launched by Bravo Romeo Delta at 12:31 AM | Retaliatory Launches Detected (2)

May 10, 2004

Mike Moore - My Much Maligned Martyr

Bravo Romeo Delta

A letter to his loyal lickspittle lackies.

Well, not really, but I'm just addled from avoiding alliteration at all costs.

Launched by Bravo Romeo Delta at 09:45 PM | Retaliatory Launches Detected (0)

May 09, 2004

What to do with Iraq?

Bravo Romeo Delta

Given the troop losses, the political turmoil, and general opprobrium what to do with Iraq?

Give it to France.

What with the loss of national self-esteem, why not? Make them an actual, for-real global player again.

Sort of a right-back-atcha for Viet Nam.

Launched by Bravo Romeo Delta at 11:38 PM | Retaliatory Launches Detected (1)

May 07, 2004

Midway Through Hell

Bravo Romeo Delta

Just wanted to let y'all know that I'm midway (more or less) through my hip-deep in sh!t phase and hope to be blogging more substantially soon.

In the meantime, amuse thyselves with Saltacol, in which you get to be a ... a ... abomination? that hops tither, hither and yon. Surprisingly addictive.

Write down the passwords at each stage so you don't have to start from scratch each time around.

Launched by Bravo Romeo Delta at 10:02 PM | Retaliatory Launches Detected (0)

May 06, 2004

North Korean WMD

Bravo Romeo Delta

North Korea is currently thought to possess:

8-12 nuclear devices
2500 - 5000 tons older-type chemical weapons (blister agents, phosogene)
Weaponized anthrax, smallpox - possibly plague.


Launched by Bravo Romeo Delta at 10:22 PM | Retaliatory Launches Detected (0)

May 05, 2004

Iraq From Inside The Beltway

Bravo Romeo Delta

Well, from some off-the-record breifings, the Congress is starting to get awfully itchy about Iraq. Reportedly, one senior former administration official has spoken off-the-record to two senior military officers (independently of each other) who have suggested that we need to start examining near-future exit options.

Congressmen who have supported the war are a bit miffed at the amount by which the Bush administration allegedly lowballed the cost and manpower commitment associated with Iraq.

Among other things, it is entirely possible that the troop levels required may necessitate a broader mobilazation (above the 46% of reserves currently mobilized). International support would be of fair utility. In Europe, the only folks who aren't entirely tapped out are the French. Moreover, if an upcoming UN resolution passes to give the occupation more legitimacy, it may be possible to rent peacekeepers from countries that traditionally rent peacekeepers to the UN such as Bangladesh, Pakistan, Argentina, Finland, et al.

Odds on this aren't real high.

As far as an Iraqi take over, it is currently estimated that the Iraqi Army rebuild will take five years.

More tomorrow.

Launched by Bravo Romeo Delta at 06:24 PM | Retaliatory Launches Detected (0)

May 04, 2004

Iraq - Asian Winners And Losers

Bravo Romeo Delta

What of Asia in all this Iraq nonsense?

Well, Japan is evidently a pretty big winner, but is now in a more unstable region. The US-Japan alliance has been strengthened, and Japan is much more of a global player than it was previously, particularly prior to 9/11.

In the strategic blind created by the war, China has become much more assertive regionally, and has also forged closer ties with the EU. Long term results uncertain.

South Korea has experienced a minor net gain. Increased global and regional visibility offset by damage to its relationship with the US.

North Korea - as always, hard to say. Recent ploys with nuclear programs have not yielded expected results (maybe) but has lost ground with respect to the formation of the 6-party dialog process. Now all regional powers have aligned in their opposition to North Korean nukes. Does it mean anything? Too soon to tell.

Taiwan? Behind closed doors, tensions with Washington are rising. This is offset by the mutating relationship between Washington and Beijing. Expect increasing tension cross-straights for years to come.

Launched by Bravo Romeo Delta at 10:22 PM | Retaliatory Launches Detected (0)

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