Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Forty Years Ago Today Sgt Pepper Taught the Band to Play

Michael Carroll reviews the role of the United Nations leading up to the Six Day War in 1967. (Error spotted by commenters) In an article in the Middle East Review of International Affairs (hat tip: MIG) he describes the failure of United Nations Peacekeepers to maintain a buffer between Egyptian and Israeli forces along their troubled border. The United Nations Emergency Force (UNEF) was deployed to the Middle East in the aftermath of the Suez Crisis in 1956.

Originally intended to be a short-term "emergency" force, UNEF quickly fell into a comfortable routine patrolling along the international frontier and Gaza Strip. Despite complaints in New York about the expense of peacekeeping, it was clear that UNEF 's presence was a deterrent to further hostilities, and for most politicians and diplomats, this uneasy peace was clearly preferable to an open war in the Middle East. After ten and a half years, UNEF had become a well- recognized fixture in the Egyptian desert.

It is important to remember that the world in 1965 was practically another planet. The United Nations was a serious player in international relations. UN flagged forces, albeit mostly American, had turned back an invasion of South Korea in 1950. And the UNEF had actually helped keep the Arabs and Israelis from engaging in open war for10 years. The United States was not nearly so dominant in 1965 as it is in 2005. The Soviet Union was still regarded as a superpower, providing the weaponry and ideology that fueled Arab nationalism.  America was tied down in Vietnam with little in reserve to spare for a major commitment to the Middle East and, in the eyes of many, already in irreversible decline.

One other striking difference of that era was the confidence, perhaps even overconfidence of Arab nations in the power of their national armies. Armed with the Soviet made weaponry, numerically superior to the Israelis, the Arab street of the day had little doubt that they would drive the Jews into the sea once hostilities began. One Egyptian commander told a UN officer "I will see you for lunch at the best restaurant in Tel Aviv in a few days."

In January 1964 the Arab League officially declared its desire to achieve "the final liquidation of Israel." The problem was UNEF. For the Arab armies to triumphantly fulfill their historical mission it was necessary to get the United Nations, then a body taken seriously, out of the line of fire. (Thirty years later, neither the Serbs nor the Muslim Kosovars would show the slightest respect for the United Nations. Peacekeepers would be trussed to lamposts. UN armories would be looted.) Gamal Abdel Nasser simply decided to tell the UN to clear out.

The message to withdraw UNEF was first conveyed to the commander of UNEF, Major General Indar Jit Rikhye, on May 16, 1967. The UAR Liaison Officer, Brigadier General Ibrahim Sharkawy, called Rikhye in the afternoon to inform him that a special envoy would be arriving with an important message for the UNEF commander.

The message was a demand for UNEF to leave the buffer zone. Amazingly by today's standards, the UN held firm. "The courier, expecting immediate compliance on the part of UNEF, was sorely disappointed when General Rikhye merely noted the contents of the letter, and informed his visitors that he would pass the message on to Secretary-General U Thant. Rikhye would have to await orders from New York." This simple act of decisiveness took the Egyptians aback and forced them to take their case to New York. Unfortunately Secretary General U Thant chose this moment to begin the long journey down the slippery slope. U Thant believed that the UN could not maintain itself on the Egyptian border without the permission of the host country and recommended a gradual withdrawal. But -- and here is the time warp factor again -- Canada believed it was necessary to defy Nasser in order to preserve the buffer -- and peace in the Middle East. Although some that the question be put to the Security Council. But U Thant was adamant and Canada was outvoted. The withdrawal began.

In the meantime, Egypt's preparations were advancing apace.  It blockaded the Gulf of Aqaba. Nasser characterized this act as "an affirmation of our rights and our sovereignty over the Gulf of Aqaba. This is in our territorial waters and we shall never permit a ship flying Israeli colours to pass through this Gulf." Seeing that war was in the offing, Israel sent its own diplomats around the capitals of Europe to see what their attitude would be if Israel warred against Egypt.

Unwilling to await the results of U Thant's discussions in Cairo, the Israeli Cabinet dispatched Abba Eban on a whirlwind tour of Paris, London, and Washington to gauge international support for Israel. Thoroughly disappointed with the reception from President Charles DeGaulle, Eban fared better in London where he at least felt he had, "crossed…into the twentieth century." Eban inferred a much higher degree of sympathy for Israel in Britain and was impressed by Prime Minister Harold Wilson's resolve to work collectively on the international stage to oppose Nasser's closure of the Straits of Tiran. In terms of a diplomatic solution, Israel was pinning its hopes on Britain and the United States to bring about a peaceful resolution. President Johnson took a strong stand against Nasser's closure of the Straits of Tiran. The limiting factor, however, was that any action to be undertaken in the Middle East needed the full support of Congress which, after having written a blank check for Vietnam, was understandably reticent. ...

As Eban flew back to Tel Aviv, Nasser was speaking to a group of Arab trade unionists, predicting that "the battle against Israel will be a general one…and our basic objective will be to destroy Israel. " Confident of the Arabs numerical and qualitative superiority over the IDF, Nasser felt he had little to fear from a war with Israel ...

UNEF deliberately slow the process of withdrawal in an effort to delay the outbreak of conflict, but events had gone too far. On June 5, 1967 the Israelis annihilated the Arab air forces on the ground and then proceeded to destroy the combined armies of Egypt, Jordan and Syria while seizing the West Bank, the Golan Heights and the Sinai, creating the map of the Middle East as we know it today. Viewed against the backdrop of 1965, the world forty years later is a strange place. Since then the Arab world found, then squandered, the oil fields beneath them. Israel would become overwhelmingly dominant in conventional force. The mantle of Arab nationalism would shift its basis from a quasi-Marxism to Islamism. The Soviet Union would collapse. America would bestride the world. But Israel itself would change, withdrawing from Gaza, destroying the very homes of its citizens who had settled there. And no longer would Arabs anchor their claim to the lost territories, their claim to Israel itself, on the strength of arms but upon the rights of the defrauded. The gallant invitation to lunch in the best restaurant in Tel Aviv would give way to a permanent hand held out to the European Union and the UN social welfare agencies.

Carroll suggests that the decline of the United Nations peacekeeping as a serious international force may have begun with UNEF's abandonment of its mission; that UNEF began a withdrawal which has never stopped. Perhaps it is fairer to say that the passage of years magnified all the tendencies present even then. It is hard to recognize in this historical portraits the Canada, America and the UN of today. But if that brings on a sense of nostalgia or loss, it should also evoke the spirit of opportunity. One thing is certain: 2045 will differ from today by as wide a margin as the present from the eve of the Six Day War.

62 Comments:

Blogger Fernand_Braudel said...

The Six Day War was in 1967, not '65.

6/22/2005 07:10:00 AM  
Blogger 49erDweet said...

....and I sported darker hair.

A little historical sperspective makes the intervening time all the more remarkable.

Great post!

6/22/2005 07:15:00 AM  
Blogger Fernand_Braudel said...

"Although some that the question be put to the Security Council." -- not sure what this intended to say.

6/22/2005 07:19:00 AM  
Blogger John B said...

Re: "It is hard to recognize in this historical portraits the Canada, America and the UN of today"

Regarding Canada, the truth hurts. I suppose it all began with Trudeau and has snowballed since - particulary under the Liberals.

6/22/2005 08:01:00 AM  
Blogger Nathan said...

Great post.

6/22/2005 08:23:00 AM  
Blogger RWE said...

Time warp indeed! Or rather, anAlternate Universe. At the time Israel was armed largely with French aircraft and a high proportion of French tanks, its U.S. equipment was largely WWII surplus gear obtained through indirect means. In contrast, one of its keys opponents, Jordan, had mostly U.S. aircraft and tanks. And West Germany was a big supporter of Israel. But perhaps the downfall of the U.N. as an meaningful institution began because Israel demonstrated convincingly both the need for and the effectiveness of pre-emptive action, something the U.N. could not handle at the best of times. In other words, The Bush Doctrine, circa 1965 was something the UN could not handle any better than it does today.

6/22/2005 08:42:00 AM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

I wonder if Canada is suffering from lack of money as much as lack of fortitude. They brag about their health care system, and it seems to me that if you have a finite bucket of dollars, then at some point you have to make a choice between heart transplants for everyone and building an aircraft carrier. I think Canada made the choice to provide heart transplants for everyone -- which isn't working either -- while the US put a bigger load for health care on the individual and the employer, and then put the left-over into building aircraft carriers.

If you do *not* have the money to pay for the toys, then it's harder to have a say in international affairs, such as France is finding out right now. The UN, of course, has money for bribes and corruption, but keeps asking for more money for "peacekeeping" and to help with Africa's "famine du jour".

England is capitalist and doesn't ask for more money. Australia is capitalist and doesn't ask for more money. India is increasingly capitalist, and was an active participant in tsunami relief efforts. I think there may be something wrong with Canada over and above them having freeze-wrapped their whole country to save it all for a rainy day.

6/22/2005 09:33:00 AM  
Blogger Mike H. said...

Nahncee,
The problem with France is that 35 hours a week isn't long enough to make sure all the leaks are patched in the aircraft carrier.

6/22/2005 09:42:00 AM  
Blogger Charles said...

One thing is certain: 2045 will differ from today by as wide a margin as the present from the eve of the Six Day War.
//////////////////
good shot wretched.

During my NYC days I'd ocassionally do the cyclone roller coaster on coney island. I found that the way to survive the gulp at the bottom of the death drops was right at the top -- to focus on the spot at the bottom where I knew my guts would fall out--that place --seen from the top as a distant canyon below where the drop stops and the tracks cup upward.

Just so its best in the present age to look ahead to the place where the present dissapears.

In other places I've heard Kurzweil place the inflection point--that is the point where thinking machines become sentient around about 2039. In this article he just talks about the general acceleration of paradigm shifts. (for more articles by Kurzweil go to google and type in words: Kurzweil inflection point)

Kenneth Jernigan's Prophetic Vision:
Address to National Federation of the Blind Convention Banquet by Ray Kurzweil>




The accelerating growth of technology has brought opportunities to the blind but has also created barriers, says Ray Kurzweil. "At the end of this first decade of this new century, everyone will be on-line all the time with very high speed, wireless communication woven into their clothing. Within a couple of decades, we will have established new high bandwidth pathways of communication directly to and from our brains. Will this represent a great enabler for blind students and workers or a new set of obstructions?" Former National Federation of the Blind president Dr. Kenneth Jernigan's vision of "the world?s first world-class research and training institute for the blind" should help.


Published on KurzweilAI.net July 9, 2002.
Twenty-seven years ago, I had the honor of meeting Dr. Jernigan, and other leaders of the National Federation of the Blind. Back then, Jim Gashel headed up the Washington office and displayed the same passion and strategic brilliance then that he would demonstrate in this crucial position for the next quarter century. Marc Maurer was then a young student, but was already demonstrating his commitment and leadership capacities as the NFB's student leader.

I had the privilege of working intimately with the NFB's engineers and scientists, under the leadership of Michael Hingson, to create a print-to-speech reading machine. The lessons of that experience have animated my career since that time, the most important of which is the following. If you want to create a new technology, then the people to turn to, the people who have the motivation and the knowledge to do the job right, are the intended users themselves.

I've remained involved with reading machine technology for the last 27 years, most recently with Kurzweil Educational Systems, and have remained close to the NFB, both of which have been deeply rewarding experiences. The NFB succeeds for two reasons: the endless reservoir of dedication of its members, and the genius of its leadership.

Dr. Kenneth Jernigan was a leader in the tradition of Moses and Martin Luther King. And like both of these men, he would be unable to personally experience the promised land toward which he had so skillfully led his people. In his last year of life, Dr. Jernigan articulated a vision that he knew he would never get to see: the world's first world-class research and training institute for the blind. It was a prophetic vision, and in a moment I'll share with you why I believe that to be the case.

Unlike many other leaders, Dr. Jernigan knew he was a mortal man and prepared for new leadership long before there was any reason to believe there was any impending reason to do so. He nurtured Marc Maurer's leadership skills, and as is evident at this convention, was as successful in this endeavor as in everything else he did. When Dr. Jernigan passed from the scene, the vision of the research and training institute was just that: a vision, and a daunting challenge that many doubted would ever come to fruition. It is a fitting testament to Dr. Jernigan's lifetime of leadership, and a reflection of the dedication of the NFB's membership and the continuation of inspired leadership in the person of Dr. Maurer, that this institute now rises like a sphinx in the outskirts of Baltimore.

Let me share with you why I think Dr. Jernigan's vision came at a propitious time. Technology has always been important, but we are now standing on the precipice of an inflection point in human history. Technology is reaching what I call the knee of the curve, a point in time in which its inherently exponential growth is taking off at a nearly vertical slope. I've studied technology trends for several decades and developed mathematical models of its progression. The most important insight that I've gained from this study is that the pace of progress is itself accelerating. While people are quick to agree with this assessment, few observers have truly internalized the profound implications of this acceleration. It means that the past is not a reliable guide to the future. We're doubling what I call the paradigm shift rate every decade. So the twentieth century was not 100 years of progress at today's rate of progress because we've been accelerating up to this point. The last 100 years was akin to 20 years of progress at today's rate of progress. And we'll make another 20 years of progress at today's rate of progress, equal to all of the twentieth century, in the next fourteen years. And then we'll do it again in another seven years. Because of the power of exponential growth, the twenty-first century will be like 20,000 years of progress at today's rate of progress, which is a thousand times more change than what we witnessed in the twentieth century.

The other insight I've had is that technology is a mixed blessing. It brings both promise and peril. If we could magically go back 200 years ago and describe the dangers of today's world to the people back then -- as just one example enough nuclear weapons to destroy all mammalian life on Earth -- they would think it crazy to take such risks. On the other hand, how many of us today would want to go back to the world of two hundred years ago? Before you raise your hands, consider this. If it wasn't for the progress of the past two centuries, most of us here tonight wouldn't be here tonight. Average life expectancy in the year 1800 was only 37 years. And most people on Earth lived lives filled with poverty, hard labor, disease, and disaster, not to mention the ignorance and prejudice that was rampant with regard to the capabilities of the blind.

So, we've come a long way through both promise and peril. And few of us would want to go back. As Dr. Maurer has said many times, we'll never go back, certainly not to the lack of opportunity that was the rule for blind people a half century ago.

We also see the promise and peril of technology in its impact on the blind. The digitization of information has brought many opportunities as blind people have led the world in rates of computer literacy. Reading machines, screen readers, voice-based news services such as the NFB's News Line, and Braille translators, printers, and note takers have all provided greater opportunity. But the downside of technology has also been evident. With the great profusion of electronic displays, access for the blind is often an afterthought if it is thought of at all. The moment text-based screen readers were perfected, the graphic user interface was introduced. It then took at least a decade for Windows-based screen readers to become workable, at which time a new set of challenges emerged from a profusion of new web-based protocols such as Flash and Java that are once again creating barriers.

This intertwined promise and peril is going to accelerate. At the end of this first decade of this new century, everyone will be on-line all the time with very high speed, wireless communication woven into their clothing. Will this represent a great enabler for blind students and workers? Or will it represent a new set of obstructions? To assure the former, we'll need new technology breakthroughs, public accessibility standards, and a panoply of programs for training and availability. This is why Dr. Jernigan's initiative was prophetic.

Scientists are beginning to perfect new ways of communicating directly with the human body and brain. There are already four major conferences devoted to a field called bioMEMS: biological micro-electronic mechanical systems that are beginning to noninvasively place intelligent devices inside the human blood stream and brain. Within a couple of decades, we will have established new high bandwidth pathways of communication directly to and from our brains. Will these radical new technologies be a good thing for blind people? Well, I suspect that the National Federation of the Blind will have something to say about how these developments are deployed and to assuring that they bring promise rather than peril for the blind.

It looks like we will have the NFB's National Research and Training Institute for the Blind just in the nick of time. Despite his illness, Dr. Jernigan realized he did not have a moment to lose in articulating his vision. And this is why I believe that Dr. Jernigan's foresight was a prophecy.

July 2002 by Ray Kurzweil.

6/22/2005 09:54:00 AM  
Blogger Charles said...

In other places I've heard Kurzweil place the inflection point--that is the point where thinking machines become sentient around about 2039.
/////////////////
all this means is that even to computer scientists -- computers will be able to compute faster than they can imagine--that is--the computers will be fast enough to be too smart by half-as the expression goes. That is the computers will be fast enough to do stupid or evil things--fast enough to be Cylons--as portrayed in the current Battlestar Galactica.

Its easy enough to invert this train of implication--by doing a search of recent conferences held by NASA on the "Space Elevator". They also figure that construction there will begin +-2040. One of the major considerations is how to properly build the space elevator such that it is least vulnerable to predation by terrorists for whom it would be a symbol as prized as the world trade center.

However, I might add, in 2040 the terrorists might well be of a different sort since the space elevator would also serve as a symbol of a different sort.

6/22/2005 10:15:00 AM  
Blogger truepeers said...

Come on Charles, you know that evil is a particularly human quality and that however powerful and dangerously accident-prone the computers of the future may become, we are surely a very long way from being able to make consciously evil machines - and when we can they would surely have to be much more cyborg, facing mortality like the rest of us, than machine. Something that does not fear its own death cannot be consciously evil. What percentage of tech folk even know what consciousness or evil is?

6/22/2005 10:47:00 AM  
Blogger Goesh said...

IDF rules, baby!

6/22/2005 10:55:00 AM  
Blogger truepeers said...

Nancy, I don't think money is Canada's problem. We have lots of it and lots more than in the sixties when we last had an aircraft carrier (albeit the time when nationalized medicare just started rolling up the bills). The problem, as usual, is in the imagination. Few people here, for example, know what we'd today use an aircraft carrier for. So we get obsessed, as do AMericans - the leaders in this field - with the narcissism of "health care" industries.

Anyway, (neo)conservative values are slowly rising in Canada and I imagine the present greying generation of elites who've indulged in over-centralized liberalism will not last long. The academic and media elites who keep the old game going really don't have anything new to say, and so inevitably the human need to seek out new horizons will insure the game will change. It would help, if the US itself talked more about how to build up new strategies and forces for fighting fourth generation wars, since the US must inevitably lead in security matters for the foreseeable future.

6/22/2005 10:59:00 AM  
Blogger Dymphna said...

Thanks for the essay, Wretchard --even though PDFs take forever to load on this connection.

Did you read the footnotes? Almost as much info as the article itself -- e.g., the fact that U Thant delayed his visit to Cairo because of his "inauspicious horoscope."

There were many "if onlys" in this situation, some of them having to do with the character of the players -- as witness, above.

What struck me in reading this was how out of synch for me had become two events occuring at the same time: This and the slow motion debacle in Vietnam...one was over so quickly and so decisively that it's hard to believe it was during the US' Vietnam era. In retrospect that now seems strange and skewed.

Here's Carroll's money quote:

If the UN and its members were not willing to stand on guard for peace indefinitely, they should have been actively planning for the eventual peaceful withdrawal of UNEF from the Middle East. Peacemaking activities
should have been part and parcel of UNEF's original mandate
.

Instead, what happened was, as you say, their falling "into a comfortable routine" of patrolling.

Looking back doesn't make me nostalgic. I feel grateful not to be there anymore, wrestling with the devious Soviets. Somewhere in the notes are some further titles to essays on the Soviet role in the Middle East. We're still living with the aftermath...

~D

6/22/2005 11:10:00 AM  
Blogger Jack Okie said...

Thanks, Wretchard. I can still remember the amazing aerial photos of Mitla Pass immmediately after the war. Shock and Awe indeed.

trupeers:

Is a psychopath evil because he fears his own death, or because he has no conscience? What will prevent a sentient computer from being pure Id? Will it have emotions? If so, will it resent what is essentially its slavery? Why should a sentient computer give a damn about humans?

6/22/2005 11:21:00 AM  
Blogger Charles said...

now wretched
having proposed that it in order for the temple to be built in jerusalem it is not also necessary for that the islamic temples in mecca and medina to be destroyed--I would also propose that in order for the temple to be built in Jerusalem it is not also necessary for Europe or England or America--to be destroyed- or even injured for that matter.

6/22/2005 12:10:00 PM  
Blogger TigerHawk said...

A couple of notes. If you enjoyed this post, run right out and read Michael Oren's Six Days of War, which is an absolutely riveting account of the war. It reads like the best geopolitical thriller, and no Belmont Club reader will be able to put it down.

The Six Day War also laid the groundwork for many of America's troubles in the region. Nasser needed desperately to come up for an excuse for Egypt's humiliating defeat on the first day to save his own face and skin, and to goad the Soviets into direct intervention. To this end he hatched "the Big Lie," which asserted that the United States and Britain had directly attacked Egypt from aircraft carriers off the coast of Egypt. The "Arab street" erupted in rage against American consulates and business interests in the Middle East, and Nasser managed to solidify his position as the beloved leader of the Arabs notwithstanding the unbelievable military catastrophe that he had maserminded. The lesson, obviously, was not lost. The Arab world continues to use the United States as the explanation and scapegoat for all its many shortcomings. In this regard, at least, very little has changed since 1967.

6/22/2005 12:16:00 PM  
Blogger truepeers said...

jack okie, ok, my prior statment was incomplete in a number of ways which your questions indicate.

Apologies if I am straying too much OT, but... the problem with the psychopath is that he has no conscience; maybe he would on some level welcome his own death, like a suicide bomber, but whether he welcomes it or fears it, the question only arises because he belongs to the only species for which it is a question in the first place. And it has become so, I imagine, because at some point in the emergence of our species, as a species distinct from the other apes, we learned to fear the deadly violence of our fellow con-specifics more than anything nature had to offer; and so we developed a distinctive culture to mediate this fear (and we have since evolved in tandem with the evolution of our culture - our brains are clearly selected for symbolic language use).

We are aware of our mortality, unlike animals, because human culture is all about regulating the risk of mortality from other humans. That, e.g., is what we talk about here. A psychopath somehow hasn't been properly initiated into his culture, and learned to defer his desires (we can all imagine killing a rival, even a stranger, it's just that most of us never do it), though, otoh, the psychopath is also not a cultureless wild humanoid raised by wolves.

On the other points, I'm not sure what a sentient computer is. We already have all kinds of machines with sensors, and quite understandably they don't give a damn about humans, or anyting else; how is a "sentient machine" to be different and a threat? Are they to be like animals? Animals have emotions, but they don't have resentment (as opposed to fighting rage or enduring rivalry with specific opponents in their pecking orders - they do not resent, like humans, the very scene on which their resentment is imagined; for example, they do not, like a resentful Hitler, want to kill all the Jews in order to eliminate the world in which one's resentment has been experienced and imagined... The fact that you can never overcome your resentment by simply killing all your rivals is the finer point about humanity that Hitler didn't get - only the more sophisticated faiths have the answer to this dilemma...)

A few animals can get a taste for human flesh or get enraged about protecting their territory, but none of them can be compared to the human psychopath who, because of his resentment, is much more dangerous to other humans over an extended period of time.

When we can program resentment then we will have created the sci-fi nightmare. But how can we ever do this? It's not programmable, is it?, it's part of human lived experience. To be resentful, you must be able to desire and to feel alienated by your rival from the objects of your desire. In other words, you have to be able to share fully in the ecological and sociocultural niche of human desire, for it is only humans who have desires, as distinct from, or in addition to, the natural appetites and drives of animals.

A cyborg, being essentially a human supplemented by technology, can no doubt share my desires and compete with me. But how can a machine share my desire for, say, a vacation in Asia - the consciousness of time for oneself is key - a new car, a purple shirt, or for one particular beautiful woman instead of another (i.e. the one I desire because my buddies/rivals keep talking about her, or because she is brilliant enough to show me herself why she is lovable, and not because she appeals to my animal lust more than another potential, fit, mate...)

How can any machine become conscious, sharing in the scenes of my desire, if it is not to be, in large part, constructed from human dna, and to be socialized like a human? IOW how could we possibly construct another conscious species from scratch? Unlikely, but possibly, such a species could arrive here from somewhere in space; but until one does, how can we possibly imagine conscious intelligence in anything but a human image?

6/22/2005 12:40:00 PM  
Blogger truepeers said...

Nahncee, I apologize, I didn't think to write "nancy"

6/22/2005 12:49:00 PM  
Blogger RWE said...

During the 6 Day War the IAF took its Magister trainers, equipped them with rockets, and sent them on ground attack missions with student pilots at the controls. Losses were high but worth it.
Within the last year I got an old copy of Air Interntional magazine that had a detailed article on the air combat of the Yom Kipper war. Do you realize that over a less than 2 week period more than 600 airplanes were lost in that war? That is counting both sides' losses.
The Arabs achieved suprise in that csse because the Israelis had gotten into a routine of what might be called "comfortable patrolling."

6/22/2005 01:05:00 PM  
Blogger ledger said...

"The Arab world continues to use the United States as the explanation and scapegoat for all its many shortcomings. In this regard, at least, very little has changed since 1967." -TigerHawk

Well said TigerHawk. And, the Arab World still uses its propaganda machine with great affect.

6/22/2005 01:53:00 PM  
Blogger jakita said...

The Six-Day War is also memorable for the fact that Charles DeGaulle told the Israelis that despite all contracts and agreements, France would not sell Israel parts or aircraft.

This stab in the back is described in Michael Oren's Six Days of War.

Why would any country--the U.S., for example-- ever trust French agreements? When France stabbed the U.S. in the back in the run-up to the Iraq invasion, it came as no surprise to me.

6/22/2005 02:12:00 PM  
Blogger exhelodrvr said...

Another excellent, unbiased book is "Oh, Jerusalem", about the 1948 war. Sorry, I don't remember the author's name.

6/22/2005 02:20:00 PM  
Blogger Cedarford said...

The 1967 War is best described as an Israeli 1st Strike justified by provocation. There is no truth to the oft-cited pro-Israeli slogan that "5 times, Arab Armies attacked (tiny) Israel unprovoked. In 1948, Israeli and Palestinian militias went at each other almost simultaneously, only a month later, with Israeli irregulars and terror squads winning & ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians well underway, did the 5 hastily formed Arab Armies attack, and the only good Army, the Arab Legion, stayed out of it. 1956 was an aggressive colonialist attack by Israel, France, and Egypt against Egypt. 1973 was launched by Arabs. The 1980 invasion of Lebanon was launched by the Israelis, or more succinctly, by elements in the Israeli Army that refused to stop at a pre-determined point.

The 40 years that have passed still have UN Res 242 as the primary ruling in force that the opposing parties are supposed to resolve. The Zionist colonies, started in violation of the 4th Geneva Convention, are still held to be in violation. Withdrawal of colonists from Gaza is certain, withdrawal of most of the West Bank colonies is likely.

The only questions are how the Israel Lobby will finesse the President & Congress to get the US taxpayer to pay for the whole cost of "resettling" the Settlers, plus "pain & suffering" money, and how much the US taxpayer will pay.

6/22/2005 03:20:00 PM  
Blogger Fernand_Braudel said...

Goesh said...
IDF rules, baby!

I don't know about that...

When I was working at General Dynamics in early 1991, a group of Israeli pilots in a lunchroom told us they were going to have to give up the trophy for best airforce in the world to the USAF.

"Second place just means 'of all the losers, you came in first'" - Jerry Seinfeld

6/22/2005 03:22:00 PM  
Blogger John B said...

Nahncee:

It’s not lack of money although that may have been an issue ten years ago. Other countries with as good a health care system as Canada (stop laughing, I’m just reciting what the nationalists say about the system) manage to maintain useful militaries. Canada’s finances were in dire straits until the mid 90’s when the Liberal government with Paul Martin as finance minister got serious about the deficit. The deficit, which had been fluctuating between approximately $32 to $42 billion dollars annually, was slashed to the point of running surpluses within less than five years – right now Canada may have the best financial record of any G8 country. Getting rid of the deficit was easy for the feds; they just cut transfer payments to the provinces and let them deal with the fallout.

The fact the Liberals just cut a deal with the NDP (socialists) to spend something in the order of $4-5 billion just to stay alive in a minority government indicates money can be found. It’s the will that’s lacking. I only wish I could explain why. Possible reasons include the Chretien Liberals putting their hopes in multi-lateral solutions (i.e. the UN) where they could trade off the “peacekeeping” image. I have always wondered if distancing themselves from the U.S. was a tactic in keeping the ethnic vote Liberal. By far the bulk of immigrants to Canada for the past 30 years have been from east and south Asia and the Caribbean, countries that were once colonies. It’s generally conceded that most of these voters are Liberal since that is the perceived government responsible for their immigration (most Canadian governments have been Liberal). I wouldn’t be surprised if this block of voters can’t see the strategic importance of a capable military, particularly one that might be forced to intervene in a conflict as part of a U.S. led force.

6/22/2005 03:26:00 PM  
Blogger Fernand_Braudel said...

Four new conjectures:

Computers won't be living until they can reproduce themselves, by themselves.

Computers won't be sentient until the can develop an effective imagination.

Computers won't be vicious until they can imagine that we are a threat to their children.

After that happens, we will be at war with them until (1) they're gone, (2) we're gone, or (3) they develop a civilized social contract with us, taught to their children.

Given that the Earth has, at best guess, only had one sentient species at a time, I submit that, based on past results, (3) is unlikely.

6/22/2005 03:47:00 PM  
Blogger Charles said...

the two technologically provided ingredients needed for a successful 21st century will be cheap (hydrogen) energy and cheap (desalinated) water. I think we'll get both -- with the vision clearly articulated and important progress made in the next 5 years. The two of them together will provide the basis for a push onto the uninhabited 2nd half of earth comprised of its deserts. At the same time likely some kind of cheap means will be found to get off world. Perhaps a space elevator. perhaps not. One way or the other there will be a convergence of technologies which will make it possible to live in space along with a cheap means of getting there and getting about. Somewhere along about 2040-50 the first tries at permanent settlement will go out beyond the atmosphere. This will create the possibility--but not quite the reality-- of the continuence of human species without the need of earth. (that will have to wait for at least another 50 years imho)

Alas, increasingly exotic humans will likely also be created. Homosexuals for example, will want to move from using a surrogate to cloning to produce the mini me. These will constitute at least one source of new "competitive subspecies" of humans. (in theory--that is--but imho likely these mini me's will lose strength after a generation or three for the same reason that imbreeding causes problems.) But the likelihood increases that more successful competitive subspecies will also be created. That's only if current trends continue. However, likely, they won't.

The older question of who is the true (name your favorite tribe) will be replaced by the question who is the true human.

And then of course there will be the temple business--mostly because that's the only roadmap to the future that earthbound humans have.

So in sum the deep fault lines will be along 1.)what it is physiologically to be human accompanied by the philosophical question "who am I" and 2.)where humanity's destiny lies accompanied by the theological question "who is God".

My vote is for humans to be both land lubbers and stargrazers. But that we remain one species. (and not as Chihuahuas and Great Danes are one species.)

6/22/2005 03:58:00 PM  
Blogger RWE said...

Ledger: "Well said TigerHawk. And, the Arab World still uses its propaganda machine with great affect."
Indeed they do. And one effect is that they keep losing.
Moshe Dayan was asked about the key to the 6 Day War victory. He responded "Well, first make sure you are fighting Arabs."
Will be interesting to see if the New Iraqi Army is different. If so, they ought to clean house in the whole neighborhood.

6/22/2005 04:51:00 PM  
Blogger getpoor@getpoor.com said...

Your Blog is very interesting!

Keep up the great work!

-Steve

http://themanninblack.blogspot.com/

6/22/2005 05:28:00 PM  
Blogger Nathan said...

Since Desert Rat pointed me towards the current thread I hope if nobody minds my sharing here.

Force Multiplication through Automation of Combat Tasks

A Congressional charter exists mandating that two thirds of the military inventory of vehicles be unmanned, by 2015. In well under ten years, therefore, the first fully-functional prototypes of autonomous and teleoperated tanks, self-propelled artillery, transports, utility trucks, and other vehicles must roll out the factory doors. The fulfillment of this charter will mark a transformation in the warfighting capabilities of the military of the United States.

Unlike the ambulatory, sentient killer robots of science fiction thrillers, these vehicles will necessarily resemble the manned vehicles common today, and most will require the direct input of a human operator in order to function. The functionality of these vehicles, curiously, may be most closely matched with the capabilities demonstrated by automated personnel and units present in many modern combat simulation games. While these "bots" were most frequently relegated to playing the role of a virtual enemy in the early days of computer gaming, recent tactical and strategic simulations place multiple such units under the control of a single human player. These "bots" understandably have limited intelligence in the classical science fiction sense. Rather, they can behave as multiple, multitasking instantiations of their operator; while their limited intelligence allows them to take care of simple motor functions on their own, all tasking decisions are made by the human operator and may apply to the group as a whole or to units singly.

The net effect of moving this technology from the virtual world into the real world, is the multiplication of an individual soldier, a vulnerable and costly human being, into a collection of machines wielding as many times more firepower and controlled by that soldier from a distant location, safe from effective enemy reprisal. To extend the transformational capabilities to the infantry, a sergeant with a rifle, commanding three to four privates with rifles today, may in two decades find himself commanding a swarm of twenty robots; his privates may find themselves in turn in command of four or five robots each.

The benefits of automating the warfighting tasks of modern day soldiers cannot be underestimated. The effective force numbers of any current military could be effectively multiplied by however many robots each rifleman, pilot, or tank commander is capable of managing at once. The resulting vast increase in numerical equivalence will substantially increase the viability of engaging in multiple simulataneous conflicts at all levels of the warfighting spectrum.

6/22/2005 05:32:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

Smart Machines
Smart Chinese

"NEW YORK (AFP) - China National Offshore Oil Corp. (CNOOC) has agreed to launch the biggest ever takeover offer by a Chinese group with a 19 billion dollar bid for US oil major Unocal, according to a report. ..."
"...If CNOOC were to go ahead with an attempt to take over Unocal, it would fit into a larger Chinese strategy of securing access to energy sources overseas for the country's power-hungry industries.

Unocal has gas and oil reserves in Thailand, Indonesia and Central Asia. It has more than 6,000 employees, with most of its activities in Asia and North America. It has no refining or marketing operations. ..."

Forty year projections and predictions
ha ha
People cannot even agree on what should, could or will happen in next forty months.

6/22/2005 05:48:00 PM  
Blogger RWE said...

And Charles, here at The Cape we would like to do more than just "stargaze" - although we are not doing too well right now.

6/22/2005 06:51:00 PM  
Blogger Charles said...

RWE said...
And Charles, here at The Cape we would like to do more than just "stargaze" - although we are not doing too well right now.
////////////
the word I used was "stargrazers". I thought was a bit similiar in kind to "landlubbers". But on closer inspection... maybe not.

6/22/2005 07:12:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

star sailors, perhaps?

6/22/2005 07:46:00 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

Cedar I think the basic answer to your concerns is that the Israelis don't wage war to colonize, they do it to beat ass. Without a frank, candid view, however, of Arab society it is impossible to not to avoid your sentiment. Add the switch of the Soviet Union from supporting Israel to backing all of its neighbors, and I am even less uncomfortable with the justifications for the alliance. I hasten to add that the Arabs are perhaps least entitled of all to impose their views about almost everything on anything.

6/22/2005 07:53:00 PM  
Blogger Tony said...

Tho I think W's original topic is way more interesting, I am better qualified to comment on the Off Topic of Ray Kurzweil - who is truly a modern day Thomas Edison, like Kelly Johnson, Bucky Fuller, Tezla, etc. By inclusion in this group, I mean people who invented/discovered world-changing principles and technologies.

Ray Kurzweil's original tzunami of invention began when he was in high school, by the end of the '70's produced the Kurzweil Reading Machine for the Blind. Think of what he had to do here:
1. Find light-senstive chips that can map scanned images, pixel by pixel;
2. Create topological algorithms that identify the byte patterns, the shapes of continuous lines in the binary images;
3. Once the software could "see" vertical and horizontal lines, openings and enclosed lagoons, individual letters could be described and tentatively identified;
4. Eventually letters, in every font! could somehow be reliably discerned from their discrete topological components;
5. Letters could be joined and tested against common two- and three-letter pairs in specific languages;
6. Letter groups could be cut into words, and words could be looked up in dictionaries;
7. Optical Character Recogniton: OCR

Okay, if any nerds are still reading ... remember, this is 79, 80, 82 ... way back in time.

We layed the pages on a glass platen, like an old copier, and a few inches underneath there was a dual set of 5/8" stainless rods that carried an optical lens back and forth, mm by mm, on belt driven servos. Hanging under the lens assembly there was a CCD chip that could take a tiny b&w snapshot, step by step, of the document. That was a scanner. YOu couldn't save the picture, but you could run it through Ray Kurzweil's OCR, frame by frame.

And he originally invented this as the Reading Machine for the Blind.

Get this! It was 1979, and business level OCR could read two specific fonts, especially made for them. Ray Kurzweil's machines could read the books in the library, the newspaper, magazines.

It was 1979, and this machine not only read the books, it read them out loud. Do you remember hearing talking computers in 1979?

Ray Kurzweil's specific genius is Artificial Intelligence, I think. Not only did he invent voice recogniton - Machines that can 'hear' on top of his early Machines that can 'read'! - but also the Kurzweil keyboards, the ones Stevie Wonder made famous - depend on sound recognition. He had his algorithms 'listen' to the world's best pianos, so they could 'learn' pitch, attack, decay, ad infinitum.

Computers are starting to be able to think? Omigosh, it's not HAL I'm worried about, it's The Terminator!

Sci-fi horror rules say that's how it turns out. But universal rules don't apply to all technologies, so maybe we'll be alright.

Some technologies attain a stunning peak, and go no further: X-15, SR-71, Apollo, etc.

In reality, certain technologies might have already hit their max, like the mighty Apollo: OCR always makes mistakes, voice recognition is the subject of comedy routines, and Google searches may not be definitive.

Might the infinite input technologies that Ray Kurzweil projects as continuing to evolve indefinitely - finally peak somewhere just around Human Endurance?

6/22/2005 07:56:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Tony,
So what's he done for us lately?

6/22/2005 08:08:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Sorry,
But while giving plaudits to a true computer genius, how about at least one hand clapping for the liberal nerds at Google, ie the responsiveness of this Blog!
Yay!
...any experts out there care to speculate whether it's all Google improvements, or related to the the (temporarily) smaller size of W's database?

6/22/2005 08:11:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

"and Google searches may not be definitive.
"
---
Limbaugh tried out a few related to Limbaugh:
Said they all came up w/a bunch of negative or off the wall links, plus a few token positives!

6/22/2005 08:14:00 PM  
Blogger Tony said...

Doug,

I'm so glad you asked So what's he done for us lately?

My kids were little at the time I was teaching Kurzweil computers to read. The machines would show the little image they were looking at, and show you what letter they were guessing it was. You could correct it, assign a specific image shape to be seen as the letter "a" for example. The machines literally learned. It was decades ago.

Teaching the computers to read reminded me of teaching my kids to talk. You guide them along, refine their understanding, and whatever you do, never let them hear a bad word! They'll never stop repeating it!

So, I asked Ray if he made computers learn things the way kids learn things.

Ray Kurzweil said: No, I make computers learn things the way computers learn things.

Kids played no part.

So, whatever you do, don't antrhopomorphize computers.

6/22/2005 08:27:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Tony,
His accomplishments are mind boggling.
When not discussing that stuff did he come off as a normal person, or obviously in a league of his own?

6/22/2005 08:33:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

"So, whatever you do, don't antrhopomorphize computers. "
---
Yeah, but my computer keeps telling me it wants more memory, so how can I avoid it?
(Dell unloaded some dead end Rambus Memory on Mr. Sucker.)

6/22/2005 08:36:00 PM  
Blogger Tony said...

Doug,

Ray Kurzweil comes off as a regular guy, down to Earth MIT genius. Shake hands, look you in the eye, regular guy.

6/22/2005 08:36:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

"Because of the power of exponential growth, the twenty-first century will be like 20,000 years of progress at today's rate of progress, which is a thousand times more change than what we witnessed in the twentieth century.
"
Obvious book waiting for publication:
"Future Shock and Awe"

6/22/2005 08:43:00 PM  
Blogger Anointiata Delenda Est said...

Dan, Cedar

Dan, you are right. Much as I have misgivings for what happened in the creation of Israel, Arab culture is so appalling that you couldn't let them have power over anything at the moment.

Hopefully "The Times They Have A'Changed" will be one of the songs that Sgt Pepper will teach them over the next 40 years, to a Blues beat out of the Mississippi.

ADE

6/22/2005 11:40:00 PM  
Blogger Anointiata Delenda Est said...

Sort of "Highway 61 Extended"

ADE

6/23/2005 04:22:00 AM  
Blogger M. Simon said...

cedarford,

Egypt started the war by closing the Straights of Tirana. Which is an act of war.

That the Israelis got in the first strike does not mitigate who started the war.

======

Nice try though.

6/23/2005 04:52:00 AM  
Blogger Charles said...

desert rat said...
star sailors, perhaps?

7:46 PM
//////////////
I don't know. Is space an ocean?
I've heard of oceans of time and that space is more properly considered to be space/time--so star sailors is pretty good too.

6/23/2005 04:56:00 AM  
Blogger M. Simon said...

cedarford,

Look at what America gets for its money.

Israel - a loving friend
Egypt - enmity and the cold shoulder

Now which country is America likely to be the most friendly with?

If you are going to do port calls and pre-position eqpt. in the are who do you trust?

The surprise is not America's support for Israel. The surprise is that the Arabs get anything at all.

6/23/2005 04:59:00 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

Speaking of all this, does anyone know the back story as to how the French came to be Israel's main arms supplier? I've always known that yet somehow can't infer the strategic picture as to why it would be so. Anyone know?

6/23/2005 05:20:00 AM  
Blogger Nathan said...

Egypt started the war by closing the Straights of Tirana. Which is an act of war.

And defined as such in the Geneva Convention, no less.

6/23/2005 08:22:00 AM  
Blogger Fernand_Braudel said...

France got involved as an arms dealer with Israel because they were trying to build up their defense industry.

6/23/2005 10:23:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Fernand_Braudel said...
"France got involved as an arms dealer with Israel because they were trying to build up their defense industry."
---
You mean,
they did it for
The money???"

6/23/2005 11:01:00 AM  
Blogger khr128 said...

Politicians who were active at that time (1965-1967) went through four decades of formative years starting in 1920s. Great Stock Market Crash 1929, Great Depression 1930s, Great War 1940s, Great Scientific Revolution 1950s/1960s (nuclear energy, man on the Moon, Jetsons), Great Decolonialization 1960s.

Politicians who are active now saw quite a different world in their formative years. Great Dope Revolution of 1970s (remember most of the psychedelic 60s actually happed in the 70s), Great Oil Crisis 1973, Great Inflation, Great Loss to Viet Nam, Detente (great feeling of actually losing to Communists), Great Disdain for Gipper for increasing military spending, protests against the war mongering, disdain for US military as a root for all evils today. Great Denial after total destruction of the Great Socialist System in 1990s. Guilt at being the most prosperous country in the world. Fear of imminent colapse due to foreign debts and loss of jobs to new economic colonies overseas (China, Asian Tigers).

IMO, current situation in the Middle East is not a factor in the minds of our politicians. It's the guys who are in their twenties now, who will really do something about it 40 years in the future.

6/23/2005 11:07:00 AM  
Blogger Nathan said...

I sure hope so.

6/23/2005 11:31:00 AM  
Blogger chigalum said...

That post brought back some memories Wretchard. My father served with the UNEF at Camp Rafah until they were ordered to leave. He was among the first contingent to stand down and on his return to Canada I remember his obsession with the TV and radio news. He told me he was 'waiting for it to start'. He predicted that the Egyptians were going to get their butts kicked and that they deserved it. He toured Israel and was impressed with the Israelis and while he pitied the Palestinians who worked at the base he said the Egyptian authorities who administered Gaza at the time treated the Palestinians like dirt. One story he told me was about was a Palestinian worker who got beat by the Egyptian police because he got caught with a copy of TIME magazine my father had given him. Little did I realize way back then that we'd still be watching this sad tragedy play out.

6/23/2005 01:15:00 PM  
Blogger ledger said...

RWE notes: "... Moshe Dayan was asked about the key to the 6 Day War victory. He responded "Well, first make sure you are fighting Arabs." Will be interesting to see if the New Iraqi Army is different. If so, they ought to clean house in the whole neighborhood.

Yes, it is a critical test. So far the results are "C+" or so. I don't know of any historical yardstick to compare the progress - maybe the Afghan Security Forces rebuiling or South Korean Army's regeneration after said conflicts. But, those are not a perfect comparisons.

6/23/2005 08:19:00 PM  
Blogger Barry Meislin said...

French arms supplies to Israel was, in part, the result of a convergence of perceived interests in the 1950s and early 60s, when France, like Israel, was involved in a conflict with Arabs, in France's case, with the liberation forces in its North African colonies.

DeGaulle's decision to grant independence to those colonies in the early 60s meant that not only was this convergence no longer relevant, but that economically and politically, France would be free to pursue and benefit from economic and political ties with its former colonies, and the Arab world at large. This, together with longstanding anti-Jewish sentiment of---and consequent distrust of the Jewish state at its inception (since France prided itself as being one of the protectors of Christian institutions and communities in the Holy Land) by---the Quai d'Orsay (the French-Israel rapprochement in the 50s was a remarkable exception to the rule) resulted in this shift in French policy in the mid-60s and was the impetus for DeGualle's frostiness towards Israel following the 1967 war.

On the other hand, it does, on the face of it, appear to make a lot of sense to jettison Israel and support Israel's opponents.

Even if the experiences of Britain, France and the Soviet Union, in this matter, may have proven less than satisfactory.

* I don't have a link, but in one of the recent issues of Commentary Magazine, there is an article on France and Israel or (France and the Jews), from which this information was taken.

6/24/2005 01:03:00 AM  
Blogger Barry Meislin said...

French arms supplies to Israel was, in part, the result of a convergence of perceived interests in the 1950s and early 60s, when France, like Israel, was involved in a conflict with Arabs, in France's case, with the liberation forces in its North African colonies.

DeGaulle's decision to grant independence to those colonies in the early 60s meant that not only was this convergence no longer relevant, but that economically and politically, France would be free to pursue and benefit from economic and political ties with its former colonies, and the Arab world at large. This, together with longstanding anti-Jewish sentiment of---and consequent distrust of the Jewish state at its inception (since France prided itself as being one of the protectors of Christian institutions and communities in the Holy Land) by---the Quai d'Orsay (the French-Israel rapprochement in the 50s was a remarkable exception to the rule) resulted in this shift in French policy in the mid-60s and was the impetus for DeGualle's frostiness towards Israel following the 1967 war.*

On the other hand, it does, on the face of it, appear to make a lot of sense to jettison Israel and support Israel's opponents.

Even if the experiences of Britain, France and the Soviet Union, in this matter, may ultimately have proven less than satisfactory to those countries.

* I don't have a link, but in one of the recent issues of Commentary Magazine, there is an article on France and Israel or (France and the Jews), from which this information was taken.

6/24/2005 01:05:00 AM  
Blogger Barry Meislin said...

French arms supplies to Israel was, in part, the result of a convergence of perceived interests in the 1950s and early 60s, when France, like Israel, was involved in a conflict with Arabs, in France's case, with the liberation forces in its North African colonies.

DeGaulle's decision to grant independence to those colonies in the early 60s meant that not only was this convergence no longer relevant, but that economically and politically, France would be free to pursue and benefit from economic and political ties with its former colonies, and the Arab world at large. This, together with longstanding anti-Jewish sentiment of---and consequent distrust of the Jewish state at its inception (since France prided itself as being one of the protectors of Christian institutions and communities in the Holy Land) by---the Quai d'Orsay (the French-Israel rapprochement in the 50s was a remarkable exception to the rule) resulted in this shift in French policy in the mid-60s and was the impetus for DeGualle's frostiness towards Israel following the 1967 war.*

On the other hand, it does, on the face of it, appear to make a lot of sense to jettison Israel and support Israel's opponents.

Even if the experiences of Britain, France and the Soviet Union, in this matter, may ultimately have proven less than satisfactory to those countries.

* I don't have a link, but in one of the recent issues of Commentary Magazine, there is an article on France and Israel or (France and the Jews), from which this information was taken.

6/24/2005 01:05:00 AM  
Blogger Barry Meislin said...

Apologies for that triple post.

6/24/2005 01:06:00 AM  

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