Friday, August 12, 2005

Unintended Consequences

The VT or proximity fuze, which some rate at par with radar and the Atomic Bomb in Second War importance, emerged in response to the difficulty of stopping determined attacks by high speed enemy aircraft. Although the US had the best dual-purpose heavy antiaircraft weapon of the war in the 5"/38 gun, it was still woefully inadequate against threats like the Kamikaze because the shell had to directly hit its target to destroy it or hope that the mechanical fuze would detonate the shell close enough to do the job. But the proximity fuze enabled an AAA shell to detonate when it passed near enough to its target to damage it. The improvement was dramatic: whereas it used to take an average of 1,162 5-inch rounds to bring down an aircraft with a mechanical fuze, VT-fuzed shells were achieving one kill per 310 rounds expended. Anti-aircraft efficiency was quadrupled at a stroke. Radar too evolved in response to the need to strip the cloak of night or weather from enemy aircraft and submarines. As the Second War progressed, these three important weapons were combined for greater effect. The Atomic Bomb was a perfect example of this synergy. It combined nuclear physics, a proximity fuze to sense the height of bomb over the ground and possibility of aiming the whole via radar. That these three weapons represented a technical advance is unquestionable; whether they contributed to civilization is quite another.

X-ray backscatter technology may some day be viewed with the same ambivalance. American Science and Engineering's Z-Backscatter Van, now being deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan, allows any van, equipped with the right equipment, to surreptitiously look right through the skins of cars, vans and trucks to find contraband and car bombs.

American Science and Engineering of Billerica, MA received a $9.5 million firm-fixed price contract for eight Z-Backscatter Vans to meet U.S. Central Command requirements for Afghanistan and Iraq. AS&E's Z Backscatter Van (ZBV) is a low-cost, extremely maneuverable screening system built into a commercially available delivery van. The ZBV employs AS&E's patented Z Backscatter technology, which offers photo-like images that reveal contraband that transmission X-rays miss - such as explosives (including car bombs), people and plastic weapons - and provides photo-like imaging for rapid analysis.

What's new is the ability of these vans to "drive by" whole streets at normal speed and examine each and every vehicle it passes. The manufacturer's website describes this capability in more detail and provides a video, complete with cheerful music, showing how the equipment can turn everything it passes into the opacity of clear glass. The backscatter X-ray is tuned to organic wavelengths, enabling it to find hidden people and explosive. But this is not all it can do. For an optional extra, the Z-Backscatter Van can also find those pesky dirty bombs and nuclear weapons that every well-managed city wants to be rid of, all at a low price and in an environmentally responsible manner: getting frisked by the Z-Backscatter Van only requires an exposure equivalent to a fifteen minute flight on a commercial aircraft.

Early models of the World War 2 proximity fuze were bulky affairs powered by commercial dry-cell batteries. But under the pressure of war, 1940s technology produced "radio components rugged enough to withstand an accelerative force 20,000 times stronger than gravity and a centrifugal force set up by approximately 500 rotations per second, yet small enough, together with the other three components, to be contained in a space approximately the size of a pint milk bottle." It is conceivable that X-ray backscatter technology, as one example of the many developed in response to the challenge of asymmetrical warfare, will eventually be miniaturized and integrated with other weapons systems to the point where like the shipboard AAA systems of the late Pacific War it produces an exceedingly lethal system. As the one decimated the poet-warrior of Bushido, unafraid to die yet doomed withal, what happens when swarming robot insects, able to see through walls, can call down directed energy fires over a networked battlefield? Not just the Jihadi, but man himself is inevitably diminished by his own creation. Islamic terrorism, by threatening ruthless destruction, has provoked 21st century technological civilization into responding without limit; every scientific advance, every mathematical discovery, every material, method or craft will be brought to bear at a geometric rate on the Jihadi problem until it is solved.

This may overstate the case, but only just. The principal problem following the Second World War was how men could coexist with their own creations. Not until a half century from Hiroshima was there was some sense of coming to grips with the monumental forces unleashed in 1945. And then came September 11. Osama Bin Laden and Zaraqawi may feel that they have nothing to fear from X-ray backscatter technology. Perhaps not; but it is what comes after, and after, and after that will be truly terrifying.


Blogger al fin said...

This terror insurgency in Iraq and the intifada in Israel are both simply previews of organised insurrections coming to many countries and cities in the near future. That is why it is so important that the US and UK are over there learning how to combat these tactics firsthand.

Improved surveillance technology is a vital counter-tactic to the guerilla war style terror tactics of the undercover terrorists. Nanotechnology will allow the authorities to observe anyone, anywhere completely undetected. The terrorists are the mother of invention in this regard.

Too bad about the concept of privacy.

8/12/2005 05:14:00 AM  
Blogger ShrinkWrapped said...

Asymmetrical Warfare in ten years will include clouds of mosquitto sized robots with neurotoxin and/or cyanide equipped stingers.
Once the bad guys are found, they won't know what hit them. They will be taken out (targeted assassinations) from 100 miles away.
A major advantage will be that the MSM won't even know there is a war going on. Without daily body counts to fuel the anti-war MSM, the information war will be winnable.
Just a guess, but an educated guess.

8/12/2005 05:43:00 AM  
Blogger wretchard said...

al fin,

Terrorism is a mode of combat which creatively uses privacy to cloak operations. Like the situations where a kidnapper uses a hostage cover, both shield and shielded suffer in a takedown.

The invention of uniforms historically permitted a separation between combatant and noncombatant. As long as the distinction was observed it incidentally made privacy possible. There was a Zone of the Front where anything went, and there was a Zone of the Rear where old ladies were helped across the street and civilities were observed. The abolition of the distinction between civilian and military, which the Jihadis thought so clever, provides only a short term convenience. What it actually does is revert warfare back to its pre-modern state, in which defeat was arbitrated not by the liquidation of armies, but of entire populations.

The Leftist practice of insisting that enemy combatants be treated as civilian criminals in regular court only makes matters worse because that stance is only tenable while terrorism can be endured. Once terrorism starts producing mass casualties the system of civil rights will be dragged down with the Jihadis to which it has been chained. By pretending enemy combatants are normal citizens, the rights of ordinary people will suffer the same fate as those of terrorists. It's already happening in a small way. Airline passengers are assumed to be suspects and are searched, poked and screened because Mohammed Atta once had the bright idea of passing himself off as an ordinary flyer.

I don't want to exaggerate the point, but I can't share the enthusiasm some on the Left feel for this wonderful terrorist method of warfare. The Jihad is spitting in the well of civility and we'll all have to drink from it.

8/12/2005 05:45:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

So, it's late, you just got blown up, can't sleep: Blog!
She got linked in the Post.
That just means every lightning strike, stroke, and heart attack will be blamed on the CIA, our military, or Rove gone mad.

8/12/2005 05:58:00 AM  
Blogger RWE said...

The microwave radar technology that was developed in WWII became so cheap and reliable that today every Podunk Police Department has some to catch speeders - and it is used to open doors for shoppers.
That success and the attendant familiarity made the debut of stealth aircraft that much more effective and shocking.
False starts and frantic pursuits of untamed waterfowl are more common than not - but when combined with other developments lead to unexpected advances that change everything.
But the real impact of such developments is not mere weapon - counterweapon responses but in patterns of thinking. Airpower eventually led to an emphasis on maneuver warfare and that led to decision loop analysis that affected everything from basic tactics to overall strategy - all because a fighter pilot was trying to figure out how best to get on someone's tail.

8/12/2005 06:17:00 AM  
Blogger Fernand_Braudel said...

I would argue that the best dual-use anti-aircraft gun of the second world war was the german 88mm/L71 gun made by Rheinmetal (the same company that today makes the 120mm cannon for the Abrams.)

8/12/2005 06:20:00 AM  
Blogger Meme chose said...

The merits and/or lacunae in our constitution are the main things which protect and/or threaten us as we navigate this series of technological rapids.

As we rush forward into the future we become ever more dependent on the founding fathers to our rear.

8/12/2005 06:25:00 AM  
Blogger wretchard said...


The "best dual-use heavy anti-aircraft gun" was probably the USN 5"/38 (122 mm). The German 88 was much lighter. The 5"/38 sank battlcruisers (Hiei) yet could engage 300 mph Zeros. In its powered gunhouse, it could develop 15 rounds per minute per barrel. In combination with radar fire control and the proximity fuze it was deadly.

8/12/2005 06:31:00 AM  
Blogger Fernand_Braudel said...

ShrinkWrapped said...
Asymmetrical Warfare in ten years will include clouds of mosquitto sized robots with neurotoxin and/or cyanide equipped stingers.
Once the bad guys are found, they won't know what hit them. They will be taken out (targeted assassinations) from 100 miles away.
A major advantage will be that the MSM won't even know there is a war going on. Without daily body counts to fuel the anti-war MSM, the information war will be winnable.
Just a guess, but an educated guess.

I can't help wondering what the Third Reich would have been able to do with such weapons. It makes Orwell look positively silly in comparison.

Meme chose said...
The merits and/or lacunae in our constitution are the main things which protect and/or threaten us as we navigate this series of technological rapids.

As we rush forward into the future we become ever more dependent on the founding fathers to our rear.

Which, all the more, makes Activist Judges utterly intolerable for the Constitution to survive. Even a Strict Constructionist is inadequate in this eventuality. We would need Constitutional Literalists to hold the line against the Orwellian police state.

8/12/2005 06:43:00 AM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

We're going to Mars, and that's technology, too, and that's good.

We're becoming ever more heavily computerized, to the point where some folks are predicting that machines will achieve a mass melded-mind of their own. But it's technology and that's good, too.

I think Wretchard is having a small case of the "what if's" vis-a-vis change. A lot of people see any change as scary because of all the potential "what if's" involved, such as loss of privacy. But I think because we can *see* what the bad things might be we can avoid them, and that like evolution, change is almost always a good thing.

For example, so far I can see very little difference in the normal life of Americans (and I would think Australians and Brits) because of newly enacted laws on fighting terror. I am not aware of ANY citizen who feels that their privacy has been invaded. It's predictable that the "no change" people would also react to Tony Blair's proposals to start deporting bad guy Muslims by claiming that it will harm everyone else, when it's blatently obvious that no such thing will happen. Ever.

It's the unintended consequences, the things we can't foresee, that make change interesting and sometimes scary. But I just don't see where a new doohickey that can see through walls is gonna be that big of a deal. Unless your name is Atta or Zaqarwi.

8/12/2005 06:48:00 AM  
Blogger Baron Bodissey said...

One thing about the new hi-tech world we're envisioning here is that it can't exist or function within a tyranny. Dictatorships require tight control of everything; the technology and tactics Wretchard and the commenters are describing require an absence of control: loose, fluid, de-centralized networks able to change and respond rapidly to evolving conditions.

Those boys in Iraq who jury-rig their own defenses rather than wait for the Pentagon's behemoth to move; the guys who throw together laptop networks on the battlefield in their Humvees; milbloggers passing information around among themselves: this requires the essentially permissive American style, that assumption of freedom that we all live with, one that's so ubiquitous we hardly even think of it most of the time.

It's something we should thank God for: systemically, Big Brother will not be able to use these techniques. They will be his downfall.

8/12/2005 06:58:00 AM  
Blogger Bravo Romeo Delta said...

Couple of interesting thoughts come to mind:

What will be the impact on drug smuggling surveillance? (And airline security, and border control, and, and...)

I also assume that this technology can be used to spot buried IEDs.

The synthesis moment is when the technology gets comapct and long-range enough to be placed in UAVs. With currently deploying automated launch/land UAVs, it wouldn't be spectacularly hard to set up a patrol pattern along roadways and, well, I leave the rest as an exercise to the reader.

8/12/2005 07:12:00 AM  
Blogger Andrew Scotia said...

wretchard: You're right about the 5"x38. anybody who has heard the measured bang, bang, bang, bang and has seen the puffs of smoke bracketing a drone will never forget the experience. The 88 was good but it was a manual loader.

The spitting in the holy water font/well of civility is an accurate metaphor. But, I don't believe it's effects are an unintended consequence. Like multiculturism's social fragmentation, support of asymetric warfare is seen as hurrying the Revolution, the "R" word which was banned when the Left began its "Think globally, act locally" push for poltical power. The Left has always been in love with Hobbe's war of all against all as a means for a revolutionary Octoberist cadre to seize power.

8/12/2005 07:14:00 AM  
Blogger Andrew Scotia said...

My good Baron:

"Fast, cheap and out of control"; the meme invented by Rodney Brooks, the MIT robot scientist that accurately describes what is not achievable in a tyranny.

8/12/2005 07:20:00 AM  
Blogger nonomous said...

Let me suggest reading '"From old wars to new wars and global terrorism". The article shows the guerilla war in Columbia is statistically similar to the war in Iraq. The authors suggest both conflicts are driven to a steady-state index which is a function of cohesiveness among combat units. Since technology has a role is supporting cohesion (communication, etc) and fragmenting groups (weapon systems), the balance point is of interest rather than any specific technology.

8/12/2005 07:23:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

And if we could have the common sense Blair exhibits, grandmothers and white children would not have to be probed just as often as Atta Wannabes just to get on a plane.
...but that would mean no more Minetta -
horrors, CHANGE!

8/12/2005 07:31:00 AM  
Blogger Pierre Legrand said...

Since I am a worry wart let me just say that when the terrorists realize they are on the backside of a tech revolution that threatens to eliminate them and all of their supporters they will strike with all of their might to hopefully deal a death blow to us.

Its a race to see who gets there first.


8/12/2005 07:44:00 AM  
Blogger Marlin said...

Wretchard -

I just need to write and thank you for all your posts and all that I learn from them. It's exciting just getting up in the morning and looking to see if there's a new post.

I understand your pessimism about the development of new weapons, but I'm sure that could have true at any time in history. I'm pretty confident the human race will find a way to cope.

8/12/2005 07:48:00 AM  
Blogger Fernand_Braudel said...


What happens when a Hillary gets hold of the Presidency, replaces all the CIA and FBI leadership with her goons and starts using mosquito drones to eavesdrop on the RNC, FoxNews, Rush, Sean, Drudge, and every other Red-State blogger in the country. Or when, one day, since the MSM won't be able to detect the presence of a war going on (much less report it if they knew Hillary was doing it) she neuro-toxins all of here opponents?

Hmmm? In my experience, as a big-time reader of both sci-fi and history, anything that has been imagined as eventually been implemented. That goes for Carnot's vision of a hot-air balloon invasion of England during the Napoleonic wars, Ely Whitney's submarine. Jules Verne's nuclear subs, and Lunar landings.

I see nothing that would indicate that neuro-toxin mosquitos with Z-Backscatter and millimeter radar eavesdropping on everyone and stinging to death anyone who utters the slightest derogatory sentence about Hillary, isn't in the cards for the future.

And Baron, for a police state, Nazi Germany was pretty damn inventive! Jet planes, cruise missles, ballistic missles, cluster-bomblet munitions, Type 21 submarines, homing torpedos, Fritz-X, Surface-to-Air missles. Just read Albert Speer's "Inside the Third Reich". (He was Hitler's Minister of Armaments in the later half of the war.

Even the Soviets did it later with the Mig-15 and ICBM's.

8/12/2005 07:50:00 AM  
Blogger Fernand_Braudel said...

Same for you, Andrew Scotia.

8/12/2005 07:51:00 AM  
Blogger RWE said...

On the 5 inch/38: A WWII vet once told me that a Japanese Admiral surrendered himself to the USN at the end of the war and assumed that he would be put to death by the victors, but asked that he be granted one last request. He asked to see that automatic 5 inch gun we had shoot from up close.
And it was not just the gun. We had fire directors and range finders on our WWII destroyers that make Star Trek's ship to ship battles look crude in comparison.

8/12/2005 07:51:00 AM  
Blogger Peter UK said...

Whilst there is emergent technology which will be useful on the battlefield,the spectre of genetically engineered selective diseases is going to enter the equation.There are states which would not take a soft approach to their own 9/11.

8/12/2005 08:01:00 AM  
Blogger Baron Bodissey said...

Fernand -- the technology of the early-to-mid 20th century was conducive to tyranny. That's why tyranny was so widespread -- the means were available for centralized control of people via the new technology.

But we have entered a new era of technology, one in which de-centralized networks provide all the competitive advantage. I've seen it in my work: the smaller companies with de-centralized PC networks leap ahead of the huge old "dinosaur" competitors and their mainframe systems. I watched a prominent insurance company spend 5 million dollars and 5 years to upgrade their old mainframe system, and the project never even reached the beta stage! Meanwhile the places like the one I work for, new businesses which implemented PC networks as their first IT systems, are running rings around the big companies.

It's easy to see the same thing happening in the military. The greatest successes occur at the lowest levels, where innovation is allowed to run rampant.

I'm not denying that Hillary could do all the bad things you thought of -- just that she could ever establish a dictatorship. Anyone who tries to wrap a tight fist around modern systems and maintain absolute control will find themselves left behind in the dust.

The only tyrannies will be retro-tyrannies.

8/12/2005 08:03:00 AM  
Blogger Fernand_Braudel said...

Marlin said...
Wretchard -

I just need to write and thank you for all your posts and all that I learn from them. It's exciting just getting up in the morning and looking to see if there's a new post.

The same goes for me Wretchard. I enjoy talking with you.

The more I look into the future, the more I see the Earth looking like the surface of Mars. Sterile - dead.

Stanislaw Lem's "Darkness and Mildew" comes to mind.

8/12/2005 08:09:00 AM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

Gad...what a thread...the mind reels. The notion that the deadlier becomes technology the more critical becomes the U.S. Constitution is a delightful skip across two different parts of my brain...and it thanks you for the stimulation. As you might surmise by its directing of my fingers to type this.

8/12/2005 08:11:00 AM  
Blogger Howard said...

I get the feeling by reading your links that this technology is being developed at a leisurely pace and not the triple shift seven day week. This technology has been talked about for over a year and nothing has happened. Somewhere there is some fucking Pentagon piece of crap who is taking kickbacks, and I'll bet on it.

8/12/2005 08:19:00 AM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

Nothing quite as refreshing as another argument--and an argument that a lefty can grasp--against the endless extension of 'practical' (because the founders were SO eighteenth-century) penumbrae in order to conform the Constitution to current exigency: "Keep it up, you idiot, and soon enough a robot insect will legally sting your ass to death--for being late to work!"

8/12/2005 08:19:00 AM  
Blogger timmah! said...

Physics check!

1) "Nanotechnology will allow the authorities to observe anyone, anywhere completely undetected".

Care to offer some specifics? Given that measuring something generally involves interacting with the thing and thus changing its state, the "observe without being observed" statement, without a lot more detail, is implausible.

Nanotech has some reality, but it's largely:

(A) a marketing scheme designed to chisel physical sciences research money out of Congress, the latter having cut funding for physical sciences while vastly expanding bio research;

(B) Investment speculation filling the void left by the .com collapse.

2) "Getting frisked by the Z-Backscatter Van only requires an exposure equivalent to a fifteen minute flight on a commercial aircraft."

Let us count the lawsuits:

(A) Suppose the van can reasonably check a length of street equivalent to itself (I'm making this up because I don't see the numbers in a quick glance at the marketing-hype-laden website). So a twenty foot truck moving 30 mph, or 44 feet per second, would have to pulse 2.2 times per second to scan continuously. At 28,800 seconds per 8 hour shift, that amounts to 63,360 pulses, or 950,400 minutes flying time in a single eight hour shift. In a 2000 hour work year, that amounts 15,840,000 pulses for 237,600,000 minutes flying. That's 3,960,000 hours of flight time. Good luck negotiating that contract with the Teamsters.

The order of magnitude indicates that this is not a device that will be used in any kind of continuous scanning mode.

(B) How are you going to track dose for people walking down the street, sitting at home, etc? Are you going to get out and put a dosimeter on everyone, get their name, address, etc? Kind of blows the whole covert bit, no? And if you don't track every individual dose, you'll be accused of massively exposing the population to--oh my God!--radiation!!! You thought the asbestos industry was dead? Imagine if the trial lawyers had evidence.

8/12/2005 08:24:00 AM  
Blogger Jamie Irons said...


In awe of your original and analytic mind, let me add my voice to the chorus of praise.

In trying to decide whether to feel optimistic or pessimistic about potential technological advances, we would do well to keep in mind that an indidual's proclivity to optimism or pessimism are more often than not a constitutional or temperamental given, rather than an objective value predicated on "facts" (who was it who called those "the idlest of superstitions"?).

We should have a term for "middle-of-the-road-mism," an attitude that, overall and on average, mankind tends somehow to muddle through.

Because that seems to be what happens.



Jamie Irons

8/12/2005 08:24:00 AM  
Blogger Jamie Irons said...

Of course, I was trying to spell the word individual...

Jamie Irons

8/12/2005 08:29:00 AM  
Blogger Alan said...

When I was in Viet Nam in the artillery with the 25th Infantry Div, we were always amused by the Air Force pilots when we shot fuse VT. The artillery fuse VT is used to get a perfect air burst height over the ground for maximum damage to anyone on the ground. And our fuse VT would also work just as well on an aircraft that happened to be flying by the round as the round traveled to its intended target. Before we in the artillery actually fired, we were required to announce on an Air Force frequency the fire mission, the location of our fire base, the target and what fuse we were using, so the pilots could avoid the rounds in the air. Now the pilots usually totally ignored our fire mission warning except if we announced fuse VT, then we would get pilots from 50 miles away calling in to make sure they weren't in danger. Those pilots sure knew what a VT fuse could do to an aircraft.

8/12/2005 08:30:00 AM  
Blogger Brian said...


I think you are starting to examine some fascinating consequences of the events occurring today. But let me momentarily don the tin foil hat and simply ask, why do these have to be unintended consequences?

Do you think BinLaden really thought that the US would be cowed by leveling the World Trade Center? If so, perhaps he should have attacked when an Administration considerably weaker on terrorism was holding office? It seems to me that the timing allowed an Administration, that already had Iraq war ambitions in 1999 before coming into power, allowed that Administration to easily enact a militarist foreign policy, and domestic erosions of civil liberties and privacy. Things that would simply not be tolerated by the world in the case of the former, and by Americans in the case of the latter, had 9/11 never occurred.

But let that point drop for a moment.

There are policies on the agenda in the great "free societies" (US, UK, Australia) that pre-date the current age of the war against terrorism. The last attempt for national id cards in Australia failed in 1987 by popular condemnation. The UK is on the brink of passing National ID card legislation, and even in the wake of bombing attacks in their subways, there is great popular opinion against the cards. The US has surrepticiously passed the Real ID act in an appropriations bill, after it failed to pass in its own bill. Its not quite a national ID card bill, but it is well on its way there.

And the people, at least in the US, support it. To random searches on NY subways, they say, I don't like it, but I accept it since it keeps us safer. We are being conditioned to accept even more and more reductions in the bill of rights in the name of security.

I believe our governments should try to protect its people, but to see them gleefully erode liberty and install surveillance states, all with the people's blessing, profoundly saddens me. I hope we know what we're doing.

It is amazing what world changes can be accomplished by so few people with the will to do terrible things.

8/12/2005 08:32:00 AM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

But, Jamie, what about us indiduals?

(and, neologism-wise, yours is parlously close to the 'mesomorph' from whozzit's clssification of I guess morphology--tho there may've been soom temperament implied--of humans into mesomorphs, endomorphs, and ectomorphs)

Okay, thru picking on you now. ;-)

8/12/2005 08:38:00 AM  
Blogger Jamie Irons said...

Do you think BinLaden [sic] really thought that the US would be cowed by leveling the World Trade Center?

Yes. I believe he said as much, though in different words.

Jamie Irons

8/12/2005 08:40:00 AM  
Blogger Jamie Irons said...


As a free indidual in a free society, you are of course entitled to your opinion.


And I was quite consciously invoking an allusion to mesomorph!


Jamie Irons

8/12/2005 08:42:00 AM  
Blogger Fernand_Braudel said...

Baron, retro-what?

Anyway, I've been in the computer industry as a computer scientist for over 20 years. I know technology. The 20th century was conducive to tyranny. So was the 19th, the 18th, 17th, it goes all the way back to the paleolythic. The 21st century will be too. And even easier. It's always gotten easier.

It's all merely a time/space problem. There are only tiny windows of freedom in history when people had the freedom to outrun the pursuit of the law, like, when the automobile gave gangsters the ability to outrun the police - until the police radio was invented, for example. And anything that can be used by a policeman can (and has) been used by a tyrannical police... state.

Fundamentally it boils down to "Can you run faster than the communications". Can you cross the Rubicon faster than that Roman Post rider? Can you ride that Carriage faster than that semaphore flag (Louis XVI escaping Paris in 1792)? Can you ride that train faster than that telegraph message? Can you cross the Atlantic faster than that Packet Mail Steamer, or later, the TransAtlantic cable? Can you outrun that cop's radio with your Ford? Can you outrun that anti-aircraft gun with your plane? Can your JumpDrive LightSpeed starship outrun subspace communications?

Technology has improved communications between more and more people in larger and larger territories. And technology has always improved the ability to control things, to gain economies-of-scale for one. To organize, focus, and monitor. Just read "Guns Germs, and Steel" by Jared Diamond, for example.

Anything man has made for the above reasons, man has perverted to dominate other men. It begins with tapping the trans-atlantic cable in 1916 (hence the Zimmerman Letter). Then wiretapping phones. Then running snooping software processes to monitor the phone and internet traffic and filter out important information (and a dictator gets to decide what sort of information is important). Then remote sensing, millimeter wave radar to see through houses. Then voice recognition software and transcription. Then voice-tone lie-detection (recently invented in Israel). Then it proceeds to actionables - to automatically interrupt communications if two people are talking about forbidden topics (just ask Microsoft right now why they are helping the Chinese government block any internet communications that involve "anti social" words like "freedom", "liberty", and "democracy").

From automated communication monitoring, to automated information analysis it then proceeds to automated responses. First it's disconnection of communication (like Microsoft's China activity). Then disconnection of the person, with a nanite-mosquito darts... or whatever.

You see, technology is a whore. It will sell to anyone with enough money. Dresser industries sold single crystal turbine blade manufacturing processes to the Soviets for pipeline pumps. The Soviets turned it to making jet fighter engines. Toshiba sold 6-Axis numerical control milling machines to the Soviets, and they turned it to making quiet submarine propellars.

Maxim sold the machinegun to Germany yesterday. Microsoft to China today. It's someone else's bio-engineering technology tomorrow and It's someone else the day after that.

The only thing that is certain is that the capability for X, if it doesn't exist today, will eventually come on day Y. The only thing that can save Mankind from it comes not from the level of technology, for technology is neutral. It comes for the level of the spirit, and faith.

Breaking the chain of history requires a spiritual revolution.

8/12/2005 08:49:00 AM  
Blogger plainslow said...

It's interesting, how the terrorist want to stop technology, and thier actions have instead, hastened it. Which will in the future make us richer and more powerfull.

8/12/2005 08:55:00 AM  
Blogger Jamie Irons said...


...I've been in the computer industry as a computer scientist for over 20 years. I know technology. The 20th century was conducive to tyranny. So was the 19th, the 18th, 17th, it goes all the way back to the paleolythic [sic]. The 21st century will be too. And even easier. It's always gotten easier...

Great post.

I think you need to move a bit, though, toward mesomism.

Recent history seems to show rather clearly a trend toward greater freedom (on average) in societies across the globe.

Men do pervert technologies, and abuse them, but -- the perversions and abuses are perverted and abused in turn. And sometimes toward positive ends.

Breaking the chain of history requires a spiritual revolution.

Couldn't agree more.

And it is happening before our eyes.

Jamie Irons

8/12/2005 08:59:00 AM  
Blogger Brian said...

Do you think BinLaden [sic] really thought that the US would be cowed by leveling the World Trade Center?

Yes. I believe he said as much, though in different words.

Well, somehow I don't think the "lets attack America so they can bomb us back to the stone age and invade our safe haven countries" would have been a very good sales pitch for motivating potential followers.

I, personally, don't think Bin Laden is that stupid.

The technology we have today gives us more tools for global population control than we've ever had before. The war on terrorism gives us the excuse to use and further develop it.

Yes, there is today a certain amount of freedom on the internet. I doubt it will last. The problems of identity theft and file sharing will be solved with more and more stringent security measures. The internet is already surveilled by intelligence agencies (recall the FBI's carnivore).

The freedom in a surveillance state is the freedom to do whatever the government lets you. Right now it is still fairly liberal, but having the surveillance system in place, and adding the right events and rhetoric, it will not be hard to tighten those contstraints.

8/12/2005 09:22:00 AM  
Blogger Fernand_Braudel said...

Timmah, shame on you!

Physics check!

1) "Nanotechnology will allow the authorities to observe anyone, anywhere completely undetected".

Physics check! The earth is flat!

Physics check! The speed of sound cannot be exceeded!

Physics check! You can't make fire out of Uranium, it's just a metal!

Physics check! You can't put a vaccuum tube on the head of a pin!

Physics check! You can't, you can't, you can't.

The only thing you can't do is say "You can't". Someone will find a workaround.

8/12/2005 09:30:00 AM  
Blogger Annoy Mouse said...

The US customs used to use a little device called a “Buster”(circa 90’s). It was essentially a shielded gamma source that could illuminate objects of interest and detect the back scatter from hydrogenous materials through the bremsstrahlung effect, breaking radiation, which when reacting with gamma particles, tends to bend them and eventually turn them around to the way they came in. It primarily interacts with low atomic number organic stuff like nitrogen(bombs) and hydrogen (people). The customs agent would hold the hand held device up to a car door, and if there was any “dope” (hydrogen) inside it would scatter back to the detector sounding an alarm. Interesting to note, they found that occasionally when they were searching for hidden compartments that they would detect people instead, giving them potentially a pretty good dose of energy. The technology has improved by going large scale, enabling scanning shipping containers using better detectors and less energy.

8/12/2005 09:37:00 AM  
Blogger Fernand_Braudel said...

Buddy Larsen said...
Nothing quite as refreshing as another argument--and an argument that a lefty can grasp--against the endless extension of 'practical' (because the founders were SO eighteenth-century) penumbrae in order to conform the Constitution to current exigency: "Keep it up, you idiot, and soon enough a robot insect will legally sting your ass to death--for being late to work!"



Thanks Buddy L., I needed that to keep from getting depressed. I feel like Cassandra without guys like you. :)

8/12/2005 09:47:00 AM  
Blogger Fernand_Braudel said...

Jamie Irons said:
We should have a term for "middle-of-the-road-mism," an attitude that, overall and on average, mankind tends somehow to muddle through.

It's call a "phlegmatic".

8/12/2005 09:52:00 AM  
Blogger brdavis said...

What it actually does is revert warfare back to its pre-modern state, in which defeat was arbitrated not by the liquidation of armies, but of entire populations.

Uh, Wretchard? Your initial response to al fin should be expanded into a full posting in its own right.

...quite a gem, and deserving of greater exposure than in a comments section. (And deserving of an attaboy: Huzzahs!)

Your point is cogent to the argument that some of us make when we advocate a nuclear response to in kind terrorist attacks. And would have been helpful in adding clarity to the basis for Tancredo's recent remarks.

Jihadism has reintroduced the concept of total population genocide as a battlefield tactical necessity ...chilling. Worse ...cogent. And so the Christian introduction of the Western concept of Just War some 1300+ years ago is finally rendered untenable? What have the Islamists wrought? - Armageddon as a solution?

Really. You should expand on it.

8/12/2005 09:55:00 AM  
Blogger nuggs said...

I have to disagree with the wretchard's commentsI can't share the enthusiasm some on the Left feel for this wonderful terrorist method of warfare. The Jihad is spitting in the well of civility and we'll all have to drink from it. I think terrorism is future of warfare. It appalls our western sensibilities, but our guerrilla warfare appalled the British in the Revolutionary War. Yet today all open war is fought using guerrilla tactics. I believe a strong argument can be made to embrace this new form of warfare and bring it to our enemies. Terrorism does not have to consist of suicide bombers. It could be knapsack bomb on an Iranian bus, a parked truck bomb in the Syrian capitol, or tainted vaccinations in the Sudan. As inhumane as those hypotheticals sound, forcing the enemy to harden soft targets and expend resources trying to stop the attacks could work to our advantage. A western mirror Al Qaeda organization planted into enemy countries could cause havoc without declaring open conflict. The largest benefit of anonymous terror attacks is the lack of responsibility by nations. You can hurt your enemy without the political fall out. Terrorism is effective. The PLO will have their own state, it worked.

8/12/2005 09:56:00 AM  
Blogger Nathan said...

I, personally, don't think Bin Laden is that stupid.

There was no precedence for strong and meaningful American reaction to terrorism. Bin Laden most likely escalated his war against the United States with the expectation that a few cruise missiles lobbed at baby formula factories or whatever would be the most America would do in return. That kind of measured reaction had precedence, bolstering the impression not only to Bin Laden and Al Qaeda but to the Arab Islamic world writ large that America was a paper tiger; or, at least, spiritually weak, decadent power-worshippers pitted against the perpetual matyrdom of Islamic power-worshippers.

Winston Churchill's The River War shows remarkable insight in to the mindset of the Arab Muslim. Meeting their challenges by withdrawal, appeasement, and combat less than total are in fact provocative to Arabs- proof of their own strength and their enemies' weakness- rather than conciliatory. Bin Laden may have believed, extrapolating from prior experience, that a strong blow against the heretofore weak United States would have yielded both further proof of American ineffectuality and a strengthening of his own position in the Muslim world.

He may have received the former; but not unlike the Khalifa at Omdurman, he seems to have wrongly expected a repeat of the tragedy of Gordon and got Kitchener instead.

I don't think anybody- conservatives, liberals, foreign powers, or terrorists fully comprehended in early 2001 that this foolish new American president from the backwards, ignorant state of Texas who had blundered into office more or less by chance, was going to embark on a campaign that would change the world for better or for worse- not by the pretty and ineffectual words familiar to the liberal, effete cultural elite, but by the blood, sweat, and tears understood by both this cowboy from cattle-country and respected by a culture on the other side of the globe.

8/12/2005 10:02:00 AM  
Blogger Nathan said...

Nuggs brings up an interesting concept. Fiction has conjured up visions of culturally and technologically Western mercenary groups combatting both good and evil by their own agendas, controlled or possessed by no state, perpetually sailing international waters in nuclear submarine home-bases and chronically involved in matters of international intrigue. Such fiction sometimes disregards the practical matter of financially supporting such expensive and well-equipped non-state organizations without necessarily entangling the public, official governments of powerful nations. But what if such a force could exist? Nuggs posits that it already does, and that it serves evil. What guarantee is there that similar groups organized in the West will not also eventually turn to evil as well? Terrorism as the warfare of the future is not a hopeful vision; it is a harbinger of universal misery.

8/12/2005 10:17:00 AM  
Blogger sunguh5307 said...

Re: Nuggs

I don't think terrorism will dominate 21st century warfare. I see the same things you are, and I think there will be more of it- but I think that this is due to an overall breakdown in the separation between the state, soldiers and civilians- codified into international (read: European-centric) agreements of which most prominent are the Geneva Conventions.

We relied in the past on this compact to moderate war, but no one we fought fecently seems to follow it. Even the European states, which were once so fearsome, don't follow it so well. Which leads to the modern controversy over human rights... in the 'market' of international anarchy, in step the jihadists to exploit this critical weakness. It worked pretty good for almost 30 years, but now we are seeing a massive reassertion of state power in response. Unintended consequences indeed...

Our 'modern' conception of human rights, sovereignty and all these 'Western' concepts are all under review, as many are noticing. I wouldn't bet on things continuing to 'progress' towards even more 'rights' such as those championed by the socialists as 'economic and social justice'. So we go back to history to see that insurgencies can be stamped out and will. Just not using Amnesty-approved methods.

8/12/2005 10:21:00 AM  
Blogger Fernand_Braudel said...


As a child, if Bin Laden had worked with Texan's in the middle-eastern oil fields instead of spending his time in England he would have thought differently of W.

8/12/2005 10:23:00 AM  
Blogger Nathan said...


8/12/2005 10:25:00 AM  
Blogger Annoy Mouse said...

Neutron backscatter devices have been installed on standard mine sweeping (imaging) equipment. The mine sweeping equipment can detect the firing pin in plastic mine. Unfortunately it will detect every other small bit of metal, that is why it is a good idea to localize nitrogeneous material as a second indicator. The sweeper use bubble jet like technology to mark the lane with a paint, indicating positions of objects of interest.

Airborne doesn’t work well for this technology because of the relative distance. An airborne sniffer can work though using ion mobility spectroscopy. Also multi-spectral imaging works very well for airborne applications.

8/12/2005 10:28:00 AM  
Blogger Brian said...

Kudos on a good response, Nathan.

Perhaps you are right in that the only response to militant Islamism is total war. But then where, exactly, does it stop? I remember Bosnia, in the mid 90's, had a problem with militant Islamics. If I remember right, they started mass killings of muslims, and we later bombed Serbia for it.

I disagree with you in that anyone who's last name is Bush, who's dad was President, and who's brother is currently Governor of Florida, bumbles into the Presidency by accident. The Bush family is a political dynasty. It was probably always intended for W to be President eventually.

I live in the backwards, ignorant state of Texas, and while I'd like to think that I would have predicted the Afghanistan campaign as a response to a 9-11 style attack, maybe retrospect is too kind. I do agree that noone, besides maybe the neocons, envisioned the magnitude of the response, and the magnitude of the changes, we have seen in these last 5 years. It has been a Republican and neocon windfall, no doubt. Yes, we've really made great strides. My question is, to where?

The speed of it all makes me think that there were some agendas planned in advance that are exploiting terrorism for political gain. One thing that I am sure of, is that terrorism is being used as a political tool, on both sides of the war.

8/12/2005 10:29:00 AM  
Blogger Red River said...

So must our consciences.

Why should we feel anything for these murderers? Why do we think Redemption applies to everyone?

8/12/2005 10:34:00 AM  
Blogger ex-democrat said...

would somebody kindly explain to me why my tax dollars are currently supporting blithering maroons like senators boxer and durbin and are NOT being used to pay for the services of wretchard (and certain others on this site) to think through and successfully prosecute this war??

8/12/2005 10:35:00 AM  
Blogger Baron Bodissey said...

Fernand --

I agree with everything you say about technology, but I'm talking about systems. A centralized system of control will invariably be bested by de-centralized systems as they exist now.

Maybe new technology will re-enable the despot with the iron fist. But for now, tightly-controlled hierarchical structures will lose out.

8/12/2005 10:45:00 AM  
Blogger dbsfacs said...

When I was a schoolchild in the San Fernando Valley of the early 50's my classmate brought a proximity fuze to show and tell an several occasions. Obviously her father was proud of his work.

It was exciting to live in an area and era of technological advances and it is gratifying to see how well the "good guys" are doing a couple generations later. I suspect it will always be so.

8/12/2005 10:49:00 AM  
Blogger Nathan said...

The speed of it all makes me think that there were some agendas planned in advance that are exploiting terrorism for political gain.

I doubt it. I think that's a serious overestimation of the extent of human clairvoyance. Unless Hari Seldon is both manifest and highly persuasive to this administration in particular, there is far too much to account for to genuinely plan for let alone execute such meticulous affairs. Short of the minutely controlled regimes of certain dictators the course of human events, even in government but in elected government especially, has always been clumsy and ham-handed, and probably always will be. This remains both the greatest strength and the greatest weakness of liberal democracies.

One thing that I am sure of, is that terrorism is being used as a political tool, on both sides of the war.

Yes, but I am equally certain that this is a matter of opportunism rather than ubiquitous foresight.

8/12/2005 10:55:00 AM  
Blogger Hanba'al said...


I do agree with you on principle that technology is a whore willing to go to the highest bidder. But there is a qualification to that concept and technology is only transferable and usable immediately within short time frame is very much depending on transferable state of the involved parties. That is when war is started between USA & the opposite parties, do you think Toshiba will sell machine and technology to USSR, or Microsoft selling technology to China if war occurred?

I also grant that in a controlled society technology can be advance and when the first shot fire, the difference could very not well be noticeable. Unless the outcome of a war is decisive within a couple of years, the longer the war continue, the worse the controlled society in term of financial and intelligent resources. The proof is abundance even in the peace time, else Russia and China would beat America and/or Japan to the punch bowl.

So fundamentally wise, the open society will always have an upper hand in all things when push comes to shove, meaning war, provided it is not weaken internally by its member. This weakening is not unlike the house being infested by termite. When the house is collapsed by 5 miles wind, it is not the wind that destroy the house but the termite did to the house years before.

The information age is helping the world in this part for its distributed intelligence to raise the conscience, the factual truths, the logic, the arguments across all spectrums. Like a light into every dark corners, even though it won't be able to help the blinds but at least it gives some tinkling of warmness.

I can't speak for the Baron, but I do want to frame our discussion in a way that technology is not very much difference in peace time between parties but that will not be true in war time. Especially from this information age forward.

8/12/2005 11:10:00 AM  
Blogger fjelehjifel said...

Lost wars can do more to delegitimize a system of government than anything else. Look at the aftermath of World War I: the pre-existing system of government in each of the defeated powers disappeared almost overnight, thus opening the way for truly ruthless men to grab power in the name of the perfect race or the perfect class.

I've often wondered if today's anti-American Left, in this country and elsewhere, oppose the Iraq War chiefly to bring about an American defeat in the hope that a consequent delegitimizing of our constitutional system of government will at last enable the Revolution.

8/12/2005 11:15:00 AM  
Blogger dhunter said...

I have no proof or documentation, but I always believed bin Laden thought he could create chaos in the U.S. with the 9/11 attacks. In that regard he reminded me of Charles Manson.

8/12/2005 11:17:00 AM  
Blogger Baron Bodissey said...

Lan Nguyen, I agree that wartime technological processes will be very different from peacetime ones. Actually, it's difficult to see exactly how the technology would play out in a major war. For example, a war with China would almost certainly have a space component, and the Chinese are rumored to have the capability of generating an EMP that would take out most of our non-hardened electronics. What would that do to a lot of our networks? And, looking past the military issues, it would essentially destroy the world's financial systems, at least for a time. What does that lead to? Does the distribution of oil and food shut down? And how about hospitals, air traffic control, etc.? The mind boggles...

8/12/2005 11:26:00 AM  
Blogger Aristides said...

Nahncee: "But I think because we can *see* what the bad things might be we can avoid them, and that like evolution, change is almost always a good thing."

"To avoid tragedy you must think tragically." It is good to be cautious, and it is dangerously wrong to think change is always good. The effects of our actions will inevitably become unmoored from our good intentions. We are building ourselves tools of control, strings to be pulled by but a few. I admit to a little fear in that regard.

Baron: "The greatest successes occur at the lowest levels, where innovation is allowed to run rampant."

I think you are right about the propensity towards freedom in the US. I am more worried about a threat from without than from within. It is not inconceivable that the mosquito killers be Chinese or Iranian built. It doesn't matter who invented the tech once everybody has it.

Brian: "The freedom in a surveillance state is the freedom to do whatever the government lets you."

A nation governed by law needs a strong foundation to survive. Our Constitution gives us the necessary reference points to protect our legal code from the whimpsy and ill intent that make a surveillance society such a problem.

Our system ensures that the government will be in a state of permanent revolution, inevitably and continuously answerable to us the People. We will control the law, and constrain its application. With expansive new media and the easy dissemination of data, the harsh spotlight of public interest will provide a good safegaurd against any potential devolution into tyranny.

As long as it remains a political expedient to uncover an opponent's collusion in a vast, dark conspiracy, such things will remain in check.

Sunguh: "We relied in the past on this compact [Geneva] to moderate war, but no one we fought fecently seems to follow it."

This effort at artificially limiting warfare was always doomed to fail. The attempt to constrain such a corrosive activity with the very type of rules it was meant to tear down was admirable, but ultimately a vane hope. War is a deconstructive friction, and chaos reigns in its application.

8/12/2005 11:30:00 AM  
Blogger Hanba'al said...

I appologize for my cryptic writting make my thought seems incomplete. It could be the habit of my brain programming to exclude the automatic logical deduction following such statement that makes things hard to follow.

For example

"That is when war is started between USA & the opposite parties, do you think Toshiba will sell machine and technology to USSR, or Microsoft selling technology to China if war occurred?

Automatic following by the question, that if they cannot take advantage of technological transfer occuring during peacetime, can their people keep the same advantage as before during the war time with that opposing parties?

And using the wrong word at the wrong place not going to help either like this one

the longer the war continue, the worse the controlled society in term of financial and intelligent resources.

should change to be intellectual resource.

8/12/2005 11:30:00 AM  
Blogger Hanba'al said...


I don't think a war with China or Russia will not occur in a short order, except in war game, because in order for a war to occur with China or Russia, there must be a worthy cause and that probability is very low for a worthy cause, not even Taiwan.

8/12/2005 11:53:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

"I think you are right about the propensity towards freedom in the US."
While visiting Solomon's house, a certain "B. Larsen" reminded us of our luck in having new real estate to own contrasted with the "deeded up" situation in Europe.
...did make for different outlooks and outcomes.
(never was a big space travel fan, but it do give one second thoughts.
...being a hopeless romantic about this beautiful earth, my limited remaining mortality is no doubt appropriate.)

8/12/2005 12:02:00 PM  
Blogger Karridine said...

Wretchard, once again we're veering from a technology-centered discussion to the ethics and morality behind the use of such technologies.

We stand, technical giants and moral midgets... uhm, present company possibly excluded.

To guide humanity to a higher understanding of our rights as individuals and responsibilities as individuals and societies, Baha'u'llah came to humanity.

A rational investigation of His teachings can change the giant-midget ratio.

8/12/2005 12:12:00 PM  
Blogger Brian said...

Nathan, perhaps it is an overestimate of human foresight if you focus on particulars. But I don't see hypotheticals based on generalities being above human capacity. This continues today with more and more hypotheticals and contingencies formed around terrorist WMD attacks on US soil.

Nathan and Aristides,

I do think that if any country can withstand the pressures of modern threats today and still preserve a free society, it is the United States. I agree, that we do have wonderful checks and balances that largely reigns in would-be dictators and keeps the government accountable to the people.

But on the other hand, what people have been seeing with regards to the Bush Administration, is a fair amount of political bullying. Disagreement met with cries of disloyalty and such. And with majorities in the House and Senate, the Republican party is well equipped to get what they want passed. And after an event like 9-11, any congressperson who voted against measures like the PATRIOT act, would surely have their own patriotism questioned.

The mass media, as useful as it is as a watchdog, is also useful as agitprop. The time it takes to truly understand current events is astounding. Most people watch CNN and Fox, and will not have the many hours a day it takes to read what the blogosphere is saying. And when reading blogs, there is always credibility to consider. The point being, as long as the government is answerable to the people, then influencing what the people think is akin to political power. Mass media seems to be a good tool for doing that, especially since the government is blessed with a certain amount of innate credibility by the media and by the people.

So I notice a major struggle currently-- and admittedly its probably always been like this, I've just never noticed-- in spin and counter spin. Information, and by proxy, ideological warfare waged through the mass media.

8/12/2005 12:17:00 PM  
Blogger Karridine said...

Lan Nguyen, Baron...

On the transfer of technology, Google "Why Arab Armies Lose Wars" for some factual, startling insights.

The mindset of the buyers of technologies often dictate that those technologies CANNOT EVER be used within that culture, for example, a weapons system which needs air force and army cooperation cannot be used in a Muslim/Arab culture where there MUST be fracturing of lines of command LEST THEY COOPERATE to overthrow the government!

And the same for ANY weapons systems bought by a 'knowledge-is-TRIBAL-power' matrix... OUR guys get the instruction pamphlets, NOT end-users!

And more. Technology may be a whore, but a lot of buyers STILL can't enjoy her services, even when they CAN pay her price!

8/12/2005 12:22:00 PM  
Blogger Cardozo Bozo said...

Man, it doesn't happen often that a post title becomes obsolete just one post later, eh?

The Unstoppable IED indeed ...

8/12/2005 12:32:00 PM  
Blogger Vercingetorix said...

Nuggs, I have to disagree. Terrorism is NOT the future of warfare. Decentralization IS, and the US is already well on its way to doing, and one-upping, the terrorists. Consider three pieces of evidence in the bureaucracy; logistics, Units-Of-Action, and technological acquisitions.

Logistics now depends more and more on civil carriers, spreading out the empathsis to civil industries such as UPS for special parts requests from the Continental US to near the theatre stations, and presumably civil storage in warehouses and in part the Maritime Prepositioning Ships, in which naval operations have supplies off the coast of hotspots already in position. Specialists are the best for specialist duties, and decentralization allows more specialization to duties, just as the US Army doesn’t manufacture its own Abrams with its own privates.

The F-22 was developed in the 80s; twenty years later it has finally started, tentatively, to enter service. Now we are developing entire classes of weapons that were only on the drawing board on 9/11. Wartime acquisition is always faster, as Wretchard’s post makes clear, but the focus on the technological lead for current US forces is similar to the qualitative lead the US insisted on in the Cold War; there is reason to assume that the current process will be permanent or drastically more efficient than the old one.

Units-Of-Action, the new structure the Army seems to be adopting with the Future Combat System and the Iraq war, seems to be more flexible, oriented on task forces that can have other units, such as heavy weapons, communications, intelligence, etc, grafted onto it at a moment’s notice. The move away from a more rigid battle structure, divisions-to-battalions-to-company-to-platoons, to the more amorphous emphasis on the bottom rung, is a prime example of decentralization, tied to technology such as networks. More empathsis at this level allows a combat unit to spread out and when it must, quickly mass and deliver a violent counterblow; perfect for fighting in jungles, woods, and cities.

Woe to the jihadis. Marius has delivered a new legion.

8/12/2005 12:53:00 PM  
Blogger Cedarford said...

1. Timmah! - Thanks for the reality check. Once you get past the marketing hype, there really isn't that much there. Adding, even if it did work, the problem of the irradiated Teamster driver would be miniscule compared to the torts made on hundreds of millions irradiated who could sue. This backscatter technology might have use in ports and war zones, but the notion of dozens of trucks tooling around London giving millions a hefty dose of ionizing radiation while looking for 4 jihadis making bombs 75 miles away in Sheffield is nuts. As is other posters talking about Hillary nano-robots controlling America..

2. High tech will never be the answer to defeating radical Islam. This is a clash of ideas, not technological toys. You kill the idea, or most of the people carrying the idea. The defense technology industry is out to make hundreds of billions on "evildoer fighter" toys. I watched C=SPAN for a hilarious AF session as they touted the F-22 as the "premiere terror-fighting platform of the 21st Century".

3. The more we spend on security to fight an enemy within without doing anything to eliminate the enemy within only puts us at further economic disadvantage to those countries that fatalistically accept some people will die from teror but spend no real money on lowering risk (India), those nations that keep themselves ethnically pure enough to prevent a Muslim enemy from within developing (Japan, China, Korea).

4. The US needs more innocent blood shed in the homeland before the ACLU, the Left, and the liberal Jewish intelligensia will be removed from power. 9/11 wasn't enough of a blood-letting.

5. The same is true of the Far Right libertarians who think loss of terrorist's (radical Islamists) liberties and rights - that they believe terrorists are fully entitled to as Americans or "guests in our country" - is worse than fighting them.

6. I am surprised that otherwise well-informed Belmont readers refuse to read what bin Laden has publically stated his goals are, what his central tactic is....and prefer to speculate.

Read his Fatwas.

As for his central tactic, he says it is not to kill, but to bleed. Make it too painful financially for the West to continue it's policies - cripple them in morale and budget like Afghanistan did to the Soviets. Make the West spend hundreds of billions on wasteful security to hurt their economies and let 3rd world economies Rise, make them squandor their capital in wars protracted and made insoluable by Jihadi assymetric war tactics.

The guy has written and disseminated his strategy globally. If you have the time to read the tech specs of the Mach 8 DDX "evildoer eliminating tungsten bolt" (assuming we ever know where certain evildoers are) - then you have time to read Binnie's war strategy. Needless to say, Binnie would absolutely love every city equipped with 8-12 X-ray zappers roaming the streets full of pissed off people, cops on OT guarding every target so "our heroes can keep us safe from the GWOT evildoers", and while the nations Borders are unguarded because the Leader wants corporate bucks.

8/12/2005 01:09:00 PM  
Blogger miasarx said...

Wretchard- welcome to the fallen world. It won't be over until it's over.

8/12/2005 01:15:00 PM  
Blogger miasarx said...

Wretchard- welcome to the fallen world. It won't be over until it's over.

8/12/2005 01:15:00 PM  
Blogger Vercingetorix said...

Also, critical to the discussion of technology on civilization, consider precedent.

Consider the car and the theatre. Did the opportunity to escape from their minders allow young folks the opportunity to fashion a separate culture, one allowing space for sexual openness, that in turn shaped the culture at large. Yes, it did.

Consider the train and industrial revolution, how such advances allowed the spread across the American West, something that might have taken far longer otherwise and once there, allowed a divergent third American culture separate from the cotton-addicted South and the Industrial North (where even Rhode Island could out-produce the entire South during the Civil War). Here technology again allowed for divergent behavior, this time across sectional boundaries and not generational boundaries.

But also consider that the institutions of America, its culture, its traditions, its schools of thought, its fashions, undergo continuous change but are remarkably resilient. There are precedents for nearly every phenomenon in current life. The internet did NOT stop history, it just sped it up.

Similar things could be said of Japan, for the Meiji period saw Japan take up German constitutional democracy but kept Japanese-ness always there. China is as precariously perched as the Qing Dynasty ever was, and as brutal. Europe, even in the Dark Ages, had traditions of association, democracy, and private property that are recognizably Western. Asia, Africa, India, and onward; the core of history, and culture, survives the incremental, or exponential, advance of technology. What stops it is cataclysm.

8/12/2005 01:18:00 PM  
Blogger al fin said...

FFE's comment at 11:15 makes a lot of sense. Leftists in the media, academia, and popular culture, are behaving as if this is "Vietnam: take two."

After the first Vietnam, the US left quickly completed its takeover of the US media, academia, and popular culture. What are its plans for the aftermath of Vietnam II?

The total takeover of the US government, of course, to complete the conquest. Followed quickly by ratification of Kyoto, the World Court, and any number of further surrenders of national sovereignty and trashing of the US Constitution conceivable.

All of that presupposes that the american public can be duped into believing that the war against violent arab muslim supremacists is just a repeat of Vietnam.

I may spend most of my time outside the US, but I take comfort in the existence of at least one nation that is willing to move against the lemming tide of international self-immolation.

8/12/2005 01:36:00 PM  
Blogger ambisinistral said...


Another thing you forget is that Bin Laden had the example of the Soviet Union, an assumed Super Power at the time, going into Afghanistan, doing poorly, and collapsing as a result. I'm sure in his narrative of the Soviet intervention, it was the mujahadin that caused the Soviet collapse. I believe he thought he would do the same thing to the US -- lure them into Afghanistan and entangle US forces there, all while the mythical "Arab Street" was rising to his call for jihad.

It was a huge miscalculation on his part. That is what I most fear in the coming years, not jihadism -- which I suspect is loosing steam -- but another huge miscalculation by the Islamists that will draw a needed, yet still frightful and horric response.

I may be mistaken, but one of the subtexts I get out of Wretchard's excellent series of posts is that tribal societies have been able to tap into modern technologies to spread the tribal style of raiding warfare globally and increase its lethality. Taken to the next level, an attack on a city by nuclear, biological, or chemical weapons will of necessity cause massive escalation on our part. There will be a psychic cost to employing so much violence it kills millions of people. That is the seems to be the inevitable tragedy lurking on the horizon because of this current situation.

8/12/2005 01:36:00 PM  
Blogger Jamie Irons said...


Have you seen the "The Fourth Rail" essay cited below?

Jamie Irons

8/12/2005 01:50:00 PM  
Blogger Jamie Irons said...

Sorry, my reference seems to have been truncated by "Blogger."


Go to "The Fourth Rail" and scroll down to "Tactics, Strategy, Grand Strategy: A Warning."

Jamie Irons

8/12/2005 01:57:00 PM  
Blogger Brian said...

I sense that Cedarford has leveled 4,5, and 6 at me. You might as well just call me out.

It's true that I haven't read all of Bin Laden's material, and I probably should. I've read some of it, and if anything, its not stupid. Just going on what you've said, it sounds like a good description of whats going on, with a nice jihadi spin. Much like the US government describes what is going on, with a nice American spin. Both are selling the war to people on both sides in order to keep it going.

I take issue that you feel that it is necessary for more terrorist attacks to dislodge people from their beliefs, as it is some sort of political tool. This is also why I feel that we will never gain back the liberty that we lose in the name of protection from terrorists, because all it takes is another, bigger terrorist attack to justify more surveillance, more searches, more police state.

We need to decide, as Americans, whether liberty is worth dying for, or whether it is not. I feel that we've already made this decision, and we've decided on safety at all costs. Unless we decide that liberty is worth the risk of a terrorist attack, then it is doomed, and freedom as we knew it is also doomed.

But make no mistake, I want to protect Americans, their lives, and their liberty. I just believe we are doing it in ineffective, liberty encroaching ways, when other more effective ways exist. Why not take all these resources and target it at the border, rather than at American citizens?

It's one thing to find, target, and kill terrorists, which I have no qualms about. It's the targeting of American citizens and other civilian populations by the security measures that I find troubling. Maybe I'm just a far out right wing libertarian. Sigh.

8/12/2005 01:57:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

(Can't remember famous Biologist's famous phrase for miserable situations, so no title for this cheery post:-)
Abundant land for our entire history.
150 years free of war on our soil.
100 years of nearly free energy.
60 years free of World Wars thanks to the bomb.
A near monopoly on the means for mass production following WWII.
Years of low cost drained brains from India and etc.
A native population largely fluent in science and mathematics.
(not to mention, English, our un rewritten history, and etc.)
C4 says:
"The same is true of the Far Right libertarians who think loss of terrorist's (radical Islamists) liberties and rights - that they believe terrorists are fully entitled to as Americans or "guests in our country" - is worse than fighting them."
I say activists on ALL fronts that sound goofier than the most radical civil libertarians of the 60's.
Just thought I'd add a little optimism.

8/12/2005 02:05:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Why is our history replete with Wartime measures later rescinded?

8/12/2005 02:08:00 PM  
Blogger Brian said...

ambisinistral, thanks for that post.

You are entirely correct, and there were media and public fears at that time of similar things happening to US forces.

Of course the muj had CIA and US backing when fighting the Soviets. And stinger missiles. Imagine what Stinger missiles in terrorist hands would do to US forces in Afghanistan today. We've had some bad luck with helecopters so far, but I imagine it would be much, much worse with high-quality anti-air missiles in enemy hands.

Still, that does not discredit your excellent point.

I should probably stop commenting on Bin Laden's thoughts until I read his material like Cedar said. Although, I do believe it to be neccessary to take them with a healthy amount of skepticism. I don't really trust Bin Laden enough to believe everything he says.

8/12/2005 02:10:00 PM  
Blogger Brian said...

Doug, I suppose you mean interment camps for Japanese during WW2 and the like?

Can you elaborate a bit more?

I suppose you mean in times of war we have restrained civil liberty in the interests of security. Hard to argue against that, and I'm fine with that since they are temporary measures.

But WW2 and other wars were fought against nation states, who eventually either have to win or surrender. How do you force a global group of religious jihadis to surrender? I just don't see this war ending anytime soon, and so these measures are not likely to be temporary.

I am not encouraged by the fact that congress has seen fit to extend the sunsetted clauses of the patriot act, permanently.

So this time, more than any other, I see long term reductions in liberties, even if the cause is security during war.

8/12/2005 02:18:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

I was thinking of the most extreme case: Lincoln.
In the present case I am thinking of Blair kicking out the enemy while we kiss up to them and the politicians take their lobbbyists dollars.
...and the civil libertarians say chinese grandmothers are just as likely to blow up airplanes as young male arabs.
and the borders are still open
and and and

8/12/2005 02:26:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

What would you do at present if you had opportunity we had with the bin Laden clan, w/benefit of hindsight?

8/12/2005 02:28:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

I see a greater threat to the cross being permanently outlawed than will muslim sensitivity classes.

8/12/2005 02:30:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

I see people still debating, even post 9-11, and post Weldon, whether Gorelick or Ashcroft better protect our right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

8/12/2005 02:35:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

ot, more Gorelick/Ashcroft post 9-11:
Honest Al Felsenberg -
Honest Al:
We didn't know, oh, yes we did.
They didn't know, oh, yes they did.
It was in Afghanistan, oh yes it was here also.
Atta was not mentioned, oh, yes he was.
The Commissioners didn't know, oh, yes they did.
...but it was not included for the very good reason that it did not fit the timeline of our fictional account of what happened.
...and Sandy Burglar just accidently stuffed his socks and shorts with top secret stuffing.
How all the "Reporters" that won't report live with themselves is beyond me.
(not really: they have no conscience, even when the entire country is at risk.)
But Dr Sanity RULES on this one:
Check her out!

8/12/2005 02:53:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

my last ot able danger on this thread, sorry:
Dr. Sanity:
Many bloggers have terrific updates and more news and speculation (especially Strata-Sphere, The Anchoress, Captain Ed, PowerLine, and many, many others.

There is no doubt in my mind that this is the most important story of the year (perhaps the last several years). Here, for the first time the issue of the Enabling Behavior that facilitates, encourages, apologizes, denies, dismisses, and finally covers-up for terrorists and terrorism is finally being discussed openly and in the context of the 9/11 attacks.

8/12/2005 03:00:00 PM  
Blogger Vercingetorix said...

Freedom in the public sphere is different from absolute freedom, Brian. There are restrictions on many things that are consonant, morally, with the founder’s conceptions. Freedom to privacy from callers to private residences, restraining orders in place of civic shame, and openness to scrutiny in public.

Like it or not, it is fully within the writ and warrant of the public and constitution to question individuals of interest especially when such individuals step outside their residences. An unlimited regime, perhaps not, but there is very little morally wrong, in principle, with such transparency provided the regimen is subjected to the same scrutiny.

The only objection I have is along the Fifth Amendment, the right to not incriminate oneself, along with the right to silence. Complete transparency could end up selectively incriminating everyone, or anyone randomly, but I’m for it, in principle.

8/12/2005 03:16:00 PM  
Blogger Hanba'al said...


Physics check!

1) "Nanotechnology will allow the authorities to observe anyone, anywhere completely undetected".

Care to offer some specifics? Given that measuring something generally involves interacting with the thing and thus changing its state, the "observe without being observed" statement, without a lot more detail, is implausible.

Someone famous many moons ago said (I paraphase but anyone knowing that famous person's name please indicates, but I am sure he is not Lord Kevin but Timmah is not in the league of Lord Kevin to start with)

"Heavy than air thingy can fly? Give me a break? Only on your dream, pal"

Let me borrow your phrase above and insert into his words to make it complete

"Care to offer some specifics? Given that heavier than air something generally involves interacting with the thing and thus changing its state ie flying, without a lot more detail, is implausible."

Unbelievable mindset for a "science major". And I do believe W said nanotechnolgy WILL, not IS. For a science major, you should read Richard Feynman about the role of microrization in technology and he said that way before you really understand what science really means. How big was the transistor in 1955 and how big is it today?

Nanotech has some reality, but it's largely:

(A) a marketing scheme designed to chisel physical sciences research money out of Congress, the latter having cut funding for physical sciences while vastly expanding bio research;

(B) Investment speculation filling the void left by the .com collapse.

I guess you never go to certain semiconductor company to look at their data sheet for your work else you would not utter the nonsense above. Here is your clue

"15 years ago, Analog Devices revolutionized automotive airbag systems with its unique iMEMS® (integrated Micro Electro Mechanical System) accelerometers. iMEMS accelerometers were the first products in an array of Motion Signal Processing™ solutions to use innovative design techniques to integrate small, robust sensors with advanced signal conditioning circuitry on a single chip. Today, ADI offers the industry's broadest accelerometer portfolio, with products addressing a range of user needs including high performance, low power consumption, and small size."

If you ever see the micro x ray picture of those marvelous levers, gears embedded into the little thingies, they are making in their research lab, you probably think twice before saying something out of a myth rather factual base. But don't they teach logic today in science school anymore or teaching multi-culti or diversity as the new requirement in thinking to graduate? Shame on you.

8/12/2005 03:24:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

SETTING LIMITS ON TOLERANCECharles Krauthammer, Washington Post, August 12, 2005
. INTELLIGENCE? YOU KIDDING ME?Michael A. Ledeen, NRO, August 12, 2005

8/12/2005 04:17:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Captain Ed:
UPDATE III: Pierre at Pink Flamingo has had this information on his site for almost three years. (Sorry, Pierre, it didn't pop up on Google.)
ATTABOY, Pierre!!!

8/12/2005 04:22:00 PM  
Blogger Wild Bill said...

I just wonder if we aint about to "out smart" ourselves ? While we get smug in our thoughts of Superiority, then we get overcome by swine flu, an airborne AIDS virus, SARS, or some such pathogen that there is no stopping.. Who is to say that those next generation plagues have not been already created and bottled and sent to the U.S. or U.K., and are waiting to be unleashed, just as they say the suitcase nukes are ?? What gun or radar or x-ray is going to stop it ?? The Patriot Act or the Border Fence isnt goint to have any effect on it either.. Its too late to think of closing the barn door now, the mule is already out !! Why havent we already seen another mass attack?? The smugness factor, I would guess.. Let us do what we can to protect ourselves, and get as comfortable and sure as we can be, and when it looks like we have all the bases covered, then stick one up right up our ass !! Hey, if we have already done all we can do, what do we do next ?? With so many cries of "do something, even if its wrong" , it leaves a lot of possibilities out there, and people are going to expect DRASTIC changes to happen, PRONTO !! Thats when all that techno comes in.. Millions dead, but hey, we got all that techno stuff..

8/12/2005 04:28:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Best day in a long time to see the decadence and worthless of Drudge:
Cortney Love, Grieving mom, Oil Price, etc, but STILL no 9-11 Coverup Headlines!

8/12/2005 04:29:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

"near worthlessness"

8/12/2005 04:31:00 PM  
Blogger Vercingetorix said...

Wild Bill, plagues are a problem...I think that's a wonderful mistatement, don't quote me...but a virulent plague will quickly become everybody's problem and the once it is contained, the first person they kinda sorta maybe think is guilty is going to be dog meat.

8/12/2005 04:33:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...


8/12/2005 05:27:00 PM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

I've heard that, too, Wild Bill--that the breakouts in remote Chinese ag areas are bioweapons that leaked. Who the hell knows--but rest assurred that right or wrong, the rumor was certain to pop up. That's the only certainty.

8/12/2005 05:56:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

From Ledeen Link above:

JJA: Right. So, as usual, the "scandal" is the wrong scandal. You know a thing or two about that, don’t you?
ML: You mean the Rome thing?

JJA: Exactly. You put the Pentagon in touch with people who really knew what was going on, didn’t you? Those Iranians...

ML: Iranians who provided the U.S. government with accurate information about Iranian activities in Afghanistan aimed against American troops. The information seems to have saved American lives.

JJA: And what happened? Did you get a medal?
ML: Uh, well, not exactly.

JJA: Don’t be coy with me. State and CIA threw a tantrum over it, and decreed that nobody should talk to those Iranians ever again.

ML: In fact, Rumsfeld gave orders that Pentagon officials were forbidden to talk to Iranians, period. One DoD official, who had Persian relatives, asked if all family members were off limits.

Politics trumps everything.
...he ends with "Fire the bastards," but doesn't name names.
Condi's second in command is one that should go.
And Gorelick is still in govt. employ, I think?

8/12/2005 06:00:00 PM  
Blogger David said...

In world II radar and radio components survived in the atomic bombs because an engineer figured out that putting hot wax in the "boxes" would freeze the components in place. Nine years later the man had a smartass son who now comments on blogs like this.

8/12/2005 06:02:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Nahncee said,
"For example, so far I can see very little difference in the normal life of Americans (and I would think Australians and Brits) because of newly enacted laws on fighting terror. I am not aware of ANY citizen who feels that their privacy has been invaded. It's predictable that the "no change" people would also react to Tony Blair's proposals to start deporting bad guy Muslims by claiming that it will harm everyone else, when it's blatently obvious that no such thing will happen. Ever."
A few years back, CA liberal Dianne Feinstein got so many complaints from her constituents about Ashcroft and the Patriot Act that she conducted her own investigation of the record.
As I recall, she found ZERO violations of people's civil liberties.

8/12/2005 06:21:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

I guess a Physics Prof could be both a Smartass AND Smart.

8/12/2005 06:24:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

My 2:05 post is not very clear as to it's point, but the point was most of those things are rapidly going away:
Do you find it harder to find students w/top notch math/science skills than once was the case?

8/12/2005 06:27:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Another Evil Jewish Plot .
A Sun'splot to be exact.
ht J Pod

8/12/2005 06:34:00 PM  
Blogger Marcus Aurelius said...


I've often wondered if today's anti-American Left, in this country and elsewhere, oppose the Iraq War chiefly to bring about an American defeat in the hope that a consequent delegitimizing of our constitutional system of government will at last enable the Revolution.

The left is a movement without books & history. I think for most of them it is a jerk of the knee not any sort of plan. Interesting speculation though.

8/12/2005 06:57:00 PM  
Blogger David said...

Good question Doug and five years ago I probably would have responded in the positive. But since then I have had some pretty good classes. I do wish they knew what vectors were though, even students with the entire calc sequence have never seen vectors.

Perhaps it just seems this way but my male students don't have the skills they had when I was an undergrad. But the females are starting to show some talent (though their interests run to sciences like Geology, Ecology,etc.)

I have some hopes that the young lady AIMing her friends in the room behind me will go into something that uses her math mind.

Proud Papa

8/12/2005 07:04:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Hard to imagine leaving out vectors, but look what they leave out of history books!
Consider a vacation on Maui:
Our son could no doubt arrange a tour of the Supercomputer that works on data from the telescopes on Haleakala.
(as well as lots of other work)
They've got some pretty impressive high speed space trackers up there.
Seems like he's always AIMing, phoning, gaming, or working, but then he's young, so he has more time than I!

8/12/2005 07:26:00 PM  
Blogger writegirl said...

Nuggs...I agree with you totally. I have felt that way for the last 4 years.

8/12/2005 07:28:00 PM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

I do not feel like my freedoms have been eroded, and I simply cannot understand why people like Brian insist in trumpeting that the "sky is falling" in that direction. If and when I *do* feel like a freedom has been eroded, I and many other Americans like me will have the opportunity to vote out who-ever is doing the eroding. If the pendulum does, somehow, swing too far in the direction it *is* a pendulum and we can MAKE it swing back.

Unless Brian thinks that one of the freedoms that is gonna be eroded by having technology that can see through walls is the freedom to vote.

Change of topic: poster said that if the Muslims figure out they are losing,
they will strike with all of their might to hopefully deal a death blow to us. Might I ask what the hell they *have* been doing for the past 10 to 20 years?!? Just how much more might are Arabs and Muslims likely to be able to come up with? Especially since the mightiest of them are now skulking in caves or tending to belly wounds, neither of which are conducive towards conjuring up a might that will satisfactorily confront the enraged and awakened bear that is America.

8/12/2005 07:36:00 PM  
Blogger Dr. Sanity said...

I wonder if we can even imagine now where our technology will take us in say, 20 years? Every time someone has tried to predict the future, they have always underestimated the creativity and originality of the human species. And with every quantum leap in technology the unintended consequences present another set of challenges for the next generation of creators and imagineers. I have to say that no matter how awful some of those consequences may seem, I remain optimistic that someone will pick up the challenge and keep the cycle going.

8/12/2005 07:36:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

OT, but this is such a GREAT example of our unbiased press, I hope you don't mind.
(I just posted it at your place, Pat.)
White — herself a Clinton appointee — wrote directly to Reno that the wall was a big mistake.
"It is hard to be totally comfortable with instructions to the FBI prohibiting contact with the United States Attorney's Offices when such prohibitions are not legally required," White wrote on June 13, 1995.
"The most effective way to combat terrorism is with as few labels and walls as possible so that wherever permissible, the right and left hands are communicating."

That memo surfaced during the 9/11 hearings. But The Post has learned that White was so upset that she bitterly protested with another memo — a scathing one — after Reno and Gorelick refused to tear down the wall.

With eerie foresight, White warned that the Reno-Gorelick wall hindered law enforcement and could cost lives, according to sources familiar with the memo — which is still secret.

The 9/11 Commission got that White memo, The Post was told — but omitted any mention of it from its much-publicized report. Nor does the report include the transcript of its staff interview with White.
. Deborah Orin .
. Mr. Ashcroft's Smear .
The "single greatest structural cause for the September 11th problem," Ashcroft said, "was the wall that segregated or separated criminal investigators and intelligence agents," and the "basic architecture for the wall . . . was contained in a classified memorandum" from 1995 -- which Mr. Ashcroft had conveniently declassified for the hearing. "Full disclosure," he said, "compels me to inform you that the author of this memorandum is a member of the commission" -- that is, Ms. Gorelick. Mr. Ashcroft's allegations, which triggered criticism and demands for her resignation from prominent Republicans, are grossly unfair.
And blaming her for the "wall" is absurd in any event.
In fact, Ms. Gorelick was an advocate of increased collaboration between spies and cops, not greater separation.
Pretending that such a deep-seated institutional problem was Ms. Gorelick's single-handed creation should have been beneath the attorney general.
WaPost (of course)

8/12/2005 07:50:00 PM  
Blogger Dreamer said...

I enjoyed reading the last two articles (it's hard to call them simply "entries"), and I'm probably going to read more.

I'm a 17 year old student with an interest in military history.

Please correct any spelling mistakes.


8/12/2005 07:57:00 PM  
Blogger Karridine said...

Doug, Brian: Your 'What if...' questions are right on.

IF there is a nuke in Cincinnati or Britain-wide outbreak of hemorrhagic fever followed by massive deaths, there will be little choice for the stricken nation(s): catch the attention of Muslim/Arab states, in a BIG WAY! Communicate that "THIS is what you're unleashing on the world!"

And it will be painful, and it WILL catch their attention! There MAY even be Islamo-thugs targeting a Muslim heart-target PRECISELY to precipitate a 'chaotic state' that they THINK THEY WILL DOMINATE.

Suggest we do an end-run around them by broadcasting short, concise Islam-centric news items reminding them of the Promises and Prophecies of the Qaim and the Mahdi, the importance of the Year 1260 AH, and how those all come together in the Coming of the Bab and Baha'u'llah!

The mullahs will only amplify the dynamic by denying it OR by accepting it. The only way to slow it is to be 'lukewarm'. And this propaganda ploy costs a lot less than nuking cities, altho Iran places itself in the mini-sun crosshairs in no uncertain terms!

8/12/2005 08:08:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Did DoD lawyers blow the chance to nab Atta ?
Government Security News Magazine.

“I personally talked with [Philip] Zelikow [executive director of the 9/11 Commission] about this,” recalled the intelligence officer. “For whatever bizarre reasons, he didn’t pass on the information.”

The State Department, where Zelikow now works as a counselor to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, said he was traveling and unavailable for comment.

8/12/2005 08:20:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Eliminate the State Department !
War On Terror: A bruised and betrayed Britain vows to kick out foreign Muslim clerics who inspire violence and hatred while blocking entry of radical imams. But America keeps ushering them in — by the hundreds.

Are we really that stupid? Yes. Since 9-11, the multiculturalists at the State Department have admitted more than 1,000 religious workers from Muslim nations, including terror hotbeds like Pakistan. In fact, they've granted religious-worker visas to 113 imams from that country alone, immigration records show.

8/12/2005 08:25:00 PM  
Blogger trangbang68 said...

Nuggs post is interesting as it proposes a bridge across that great gulf between our enemies,the Jihadis and us in the west.
We have a dynamic economic and technological engine capable of bounding past our enemies in leaps of stainless steel .We also are hampered by a civilizational ethos that precludes the wanton slaughter of non-combatants.
The Jihadis are dark age luddites who would turn off the lights on earth and bring us back to caves controlled by drooling imans.They can't win an arms race in a million years,but their finely tuned precise nihilism would still hurl the biggest rock into our world they can.
Nuggs says basically we ought to take our high tech toys and play pseudo jihadi.An intriguing thought,but its not a great leap from there to Omar Bradley's quote(cited by Carridine)where we become "technological giants but moral midgets"And the world ends not with a whimper but a bang.
I have advocated a modified Nuggs strategy where we don't target all the Islamic world,but bring massive force on known ist havens such as the Bekaa valley.The notorious "Arab Street" might howl,but secretly many would be glad their maddogs have been deleted.

8/12/2005 09:54:00 PM  
Blogger diabeticfriendly said...

c4: 4. The US needs more innocent blood shed in the homeland before the ACLU, the Left, and the liberal Jewish intelligensia will be removed from power. 9/11 wasn't enough of a blood-letting.

interesting, in many posts, c4 claims that jews are neocons and rightwingers, now he claims they are "liberal intelligensia" which is it? right wing neocons or left wing liberals? Or do you just seek to demonize jews on both the left and right?

I really find it amazing when c4 can post ANYTHING without blaming jews for something...

8/12/2005 10:30:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

It's very complex,
See my 6:00 PM Post:
The neocon loving Rumsfeld was told by the Jew loving State Dept not to talk to NeoCon Jews who talk to Iranians.
(Maybe they were Iranian Jews?)

8/12/2005 10:51:00 PM  
Blogger M. Simon said...

The proximity fuze was an amazigly simple technology.

A primitive metal detector.

For those interested, the schematics are widely available on the net.

The key as Wretchard points out is designing the electronics, using tube technology, that could withstand 50,000 Gs (which was the design specification). There was also the problem of designing tube filaments that would come up to operating temperature in seconds as opposed to the usual minutes. And batteries that could take the G forces, sit idle for a number of years, and then provide the necessary power for about five minutes or less.

The proximity fuze was initially only used over water to prevent duds from falling into enemy hands.

An amazing bit of technology for the 1940s.

The tubes were widely available post war as surplus items and were used by a number of amateurs to build low power portable recievers. The tubes were rather flat and had wires as opposed to pins for their connections. They were soldered into circuits rather than plugged in.

And now? We have DSP chips that can perform a billion operations a second as the intelligence for our missles.

We have come to the point where our liberties are dependent on the restraint of government. We are coming to the day when there will be no secrets.

8/13/2005 12:25:00 AM  
Blogger Orendon said...

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8/13/2005 12:40:00 AM  
Blogger M. Simon said...


Activist judges are exactly what we need.

They keep finding rights we never knew we had. Sometimes I don't like the outcome. I do like that attitude.


8/13/2005 01:04:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

The problem is they find rights for criminals and terrorists.
Not to mention using some brilliant European finding instead of OUR Constitution.
Who empowered them to do that?
Not the People or the Constitution.
As buddy will be pointing out, soon they'll be finding things under EuroPenumbras, and that ain't some kind of women's underwear.

8/13/2005 02:14:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Illegal Alien Rights:
At least this Democrat Governor isn't saying everything's honky dory, and whining about Vigilantism like a Republican President I know.
Border emergency declared in New Mexico.
Border emergency declared in New Mexico
(CNN) -- New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson declared a state of emergency Friday in four counties along the Mexican border that he said have been "devastated" by crimes such as the smuggling of drugs and illegal immigrants.

The declaration said the region "has been devastated by the ravages and terror of human smuggling, drug smuggling, kidnapping, murder, destruction of property and the death of livestock. ...
"[It] is in an extreme state of disrepair and is inadequately funded or safeguarded to protect the lives and property of New Mexican citizens."
He said on CNN that he "saw the trails where these illegal routes take place" as well as fenced areas along the border where the fence is "literally nonexistent."

According to Richardson's statement announcing the declaration, "Recent developments have convinced me this action is necessary -- including violence directed at law enforcement, damage to property and livestock, increased evidence of drug smuggling, and an increase in the number of undocumented immigrants."

In announcing the state of emergency, Richardson -- a Democrat who served in President Clinton's Cabinet -- criticized the "total inaction and lack of resources from the federal government and Congress" in helping protect his state's residents along the border.

"There's very little response from the Border Patrol," he said on CNN. "They're doing a good job, but they don't have the resources."

There will also be new efforts to protect livestock in the area near Columbus, "along a favorite path for illegal immigration where a number of livestock have been stolen and killed," the statement said.

"My people on my side asked me to take this step, and I've done so reluctantly," Richardson told CNN. "As governor, I have to protect the people I represent."

He noted he is the nation's only Hispanic governor, and "we're a state that's been very good to legal migrants. ... This action, I believe, had to be taken."

8/13/2005 02:17:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

There's a nice 4 minute free video of the Governor at CNN.

8/13/2005 02:19:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Will Normie's DOT require Sharia Compliant Transportation?
. Nigerian city starts Sharia public transport system .
KANO, Nigeria (Reuters) - The northern Nigerian city of Kano on Tuesday launched a fleet of single-sex public transport vehicles to allow Muslims to comply with Islamic Sharia law.
Thousands converged on the Pillars soccer stadium to see the vehicles, which include 100 ten-seater minibuses for women only, 100 motorcycle-taxis for men, and 500 three-wheeler microbuses that can carry only men or only women at any given time.

The motorcycles circled the pitch in a jubilant parade as thousands cheered and chanted
"God is greater."
"It's a good development for the ease of the transportation problem. It will also reduce social vices," said Umaru Suleiman, who was among the crowd.

8/13/2005 03:25:00 AM  
Blogger nuggs said...

Trangbang68 don't get me wrong, I do not propose this strategy only for our current enemy (Islamic Jihadis). The world is slowly being desensitized to horror of terrorism. Many in Europe see the PA attacks on Israel as justified. The US still refuses to call Chechnyian terrorists what they are. Environmentalists turn a blind eye toward eco terrorists like the ELA, and in their silence condone the tactic. I think if we do not at least investigate the benefits of using clandestine terror activities we risk falling behind in what could be a new arms race of terror cells. Take our probable future conflict with China over Taiwan. Who really wants to engage China in a "hot" war and risk nuclear confrontation? Some well placed sleeper cells in China protesting, violently, their environmental policies or occupation of Tibet could divert resources. The modernization of their military could be slowed by forcing those resources into combating terrorists at home.

8/13/2005 04:01:00 AM  
Blogger M. Simon said...


I think you are exactly correct. With out a revolution in spirit we are doomed.

In September Congress will pass a law (the House has already voted for it 4:1) that official American policy will be the end of tyranny in 25 years. And not a moment too soon.

8/13/2005 05:41:00 AM  
Blogger M. Simon said...


I worry about the liberal Christian agenda.

And what is the Pope up to? And the Dali Lama? Does he get steamed when people say: "Hello Dali"?

In fact we are in great danger from the people with the wrong agenda. To prevent that I propose all agendas be date coded. That will make it easier to tell if you are getting intimate with the wrong agenda.

I think if you come to America or just stay here you ought to give up your interests and take up a hobby.

8/13/2005 05:51:00 AM  
Blogger M. Simon said...

Ecoterrorist: ELA.

Earth Liberation Arghanization.

8/13/2005 05:54:00 AM  
Blogger M. Simon said...


Even if the cross is outlawed there will always be cross people.

8/13/2005 05:57:00 AM  
Blogger M. Simon said...


Why is there so much smuggling of drugs and illegal immigrants?

We have laws.

8/13/2005 06:02:00 AM  
Blogger M. Simon said...


Our founding document: The Declaration says we ought to take into account the opinions of mankind.

The Constitution is the implimenting document. It is silent on the matter.

8/13/2005 06:05:00 AM  
Blogger M. Simon said...

You know God has been grating on me for a long time. I'm shredded by the experience. I suppose it helps separate the wheat from the breakfast cereal.

8/13/2005 06:08:00 AM  
Blogger phil g said...

RE: 7:36 post
"Just how much more might are Arabs and Muslims likely to be able to come up with?"

What is concentrating my mind and I believe our administration is if these nut jobs get their hands on an atomic class explosive. That is the great force multiplier that I believe these nialists are desperately trying to acquire. God help them if they ever do.

8/13/2005 06:17:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

At least Simon, while impersonating doug, did not "chime in" on the ELO.
(Electric Light Orchestra.)

8/13/2005 06:48:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

The Euroweenies are not part of ManKind.

8/13/2005 06:50:00 AM  
Blogger trangbang68 said...

Nuggs,the Israelis deployed the strategy you are advocating against the Black September group who committed the Munich atrocity.They used telephone detonaded es and other techniques to eliminate the cell as well as Arab diplomat enablers.There was collateral damage as a very large explosion eliminated the group's leader ,Husseini along with everyone else on a street in Beirut.It had the effect of slowing assymetrical warfare against Israel
at least until the current crop of human offal wrapped in C4 and det cord.
The problem we face is finding trustworthy middleeasterners to penetrate the vipers nests and bring the message.The Beirut job mentioned above was carried out by a British national working for Mossad so there are ways.

8/13/2005 07:13:00 AM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

Doug, I think I know what you mean. To ape M. Simon's ellipticalism, freedom is an illusion in that it comes with obligation--its own antithesis. This linkage has been Mankind's Grand Project, so that to deny the link--the mission of the modern leftist--is to enter that weenie-world (in Europe or anywhere else) where, as you imply, Mankind doesn't live. To be deliberately no longer part of "Mankind" shows up in all sorts of ways, as the other mankind, that is the mankind in his animal-kingdom slot, is thereby emphasized in the breach of the other, higher Mankind. Problem is, "so what?" That's where God comes in, whether He's an invisible guy who lives in the sky, or simply an altruism gene--or even a selfish gene (as so-called 'immoral' behavior is killing in every way, which is of course the genesis of the godly encomium which is human history).

So maybe that's the appeal of bin Ladenism--that it's "not selfish". It's freely generous with its valuables--its people. Except for the leadership, of course, which can't afford such luxury as coherence with itself.

8/13/2005 07:52:00 AM  
Blogger nuggs said...

LOL sorry for the typo

8/13/2005 07:56:00 AM  
Blogger Vercingetorix said...

Not sure what you said, Good Buddy, but it was beautiful, Man. [sniff]

8/13/2005 09:37:00 AM  
Blogger Aristides said...

There is a great difference between covert action on a terrorist cell and actual terrorist action on a civilian populace. If I read you right, you are advocating the latter?

I think that is a horrible idea, and, thank goodness, incredibly unlikely. Terrorism is what the weak do to the strong. It is a defection from all international norms; because cooperation in such an ethical paradigm renders the terrorist impotent, he chooses to operate outside the arena of acceptable behavior to achieve his goals, whatever they are.

We have a very strong interest in keeping this dynamic alive. As long as terrorism remains outside the norm, and as long as we continue to offer large disincentives for its practice, it will remain rare and unattractive as a strategic option. If the strongest player in the game begins to operate outside the cooperative norms, then the norms themselves will crumble and there will be a large flight towards total defection. The only thing that keeps countries from defecting now is the strength and posture of a United States ready and willing to add massive costs to any such move towards the unethical.

If we are to truly become safe from terrorism, we need to strengthen this ethical paradigm, and we need to get better at enforcing it upon everyone else.

8/13/2005 10:03:00 AM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

Jeez, Verc, you're right, I just read what I wrote and it makes no sense at all. I was trying to watch "Bulls and Bears" and yak with my daughter while I was writing it, and I forgot to edit out the nonsense (that is, the whole thing) in my haste. Thanks for the heads up! And the LOL!

8/13/2005 10:35:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Are Terrorist Cell MeMe Carriers like Normal Cells?

8/13/2005 11:33:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

"Terrorist Cells"
MeMe, Myself, and My Bad.

8/13/2005 11:34:00 AM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

That thing Wretchard said about comments deteriorating after awhile, wot a laff, what the hell was he thinking about?

8/13/2005 11:39:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Yah, what WAS he thinking?

8/13/2005 11:46:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

How come Verc has become an x-ed out Ghost of his former self?

8/13/2005 11:46:00 AM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

One can only slay dragons when there is dragons about.

8/13/2005 11:54:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Cool Hamilton Quote:
The open quality of American life is the product not only of geographic advantages and historical background, but also of functional thinking. The original creation of our system of government and finance, primarily by Alexander Hamilton, was based on an understanding that the strength and wealth of a nation depend on the freedom to live one's own destiny to the fullest. In his efforts to establish an economy in which manufacturing and commerce would balance agriculture, Hamilton's thinking was as follows:

…minds of the strongest and most active powers for their proper objects fall below mediocrity and labor without effect, if confined to uncongenial pursuits. …the results of human exertion may be immensely increased by diversifying its objects. When all the different kinds of industry [exist] in a community, each individual can find his proper element, and can call into activity the whole vigor of his nature…To cherish and stimulate the activity of the human mind, by multiplying the objects of enterprise, is [an important] expedient, by which the wealth of a nation may be promoted. …Every new scene, which is opened to the busy nature of man to rouse and exert itself, is the addition of a new energy to the general stock of effort. The spirit of enterprise, useful and prolific as it is, must necessarily be contracted or expanded in proportion to the simplicity or variety of the occupations which are to be found in a Society. [2]

It was Hamilton's vision that America's "spirit of enterprise" be "expanded", and bioenergetic expansion is a hallmark of American life.
. American College of Orogonomy

8/13/2005 11:54:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Desert Rat has had some pretty lyrical descriptions of how I live out my destiny in my mind.

8/13/2005 11:56:00 AM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

Where else would you live out your destiny? In someone else's mind?

8/13/2005 12:00:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Ken Timmerman was on Prager saying the Mullah's want to provoke Israel into a strike in order to stay in power.
(Not to mention giving them a Rationale to wipe out the Joos.)
Says they parade there Missiles down the streets w/
"Israel Must Burn"
Painted on them.
Remember when they started busting the Navy Guys and AF too for having UN PC commentary on their JDAMS.
Two different systems.
...or more.

8/13/2005 12:01:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

A Vibrating Thigh, Maybe?

8/13/2005 12:04:00 PM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

Those Mullahs must fall. They're not gonna quit, reform, see the light, or be deterred. Nutjobs in control of a nation. The higher oil prices get, the longer the prices stay there, the more terrorism is going to be flung at the rest of the world. At least Hitler didn't have a giant pipeline pumping gold into the SS.

8/13/2005 12:10:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Pumped his Gold right past that last.

8/13/2005 12:12:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

He figures the Israelis will have 24-48 hours after they start loading the missiles, and about 8 minutes after they fire.
Say's they are holding off, since pre-emptive might stir up the world in unpredictable ways.
WOULD was no doubt the term.
Says it would take the entire Air Force, which I doubt they have anywhere near enough tanker capacity for.
The Crap is thick and getting thicker.

8/13/2005 12:16:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Did you see my Ledeen link above where Rumsfeld was told not to talk to him/or Iranian dissidents any more?

8/13/2005 12:19:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Timmerman favors massive aid to the dissidents.
Says it's the only humane way out.
Thanks, Jimmy.

8/13/2005 12:20:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Timmerman claims they got enough stuff from Pakistan to make 24 Nukes.

8/13/2005 12:23:00 PM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

Another early warning will be their leadership echelon going to ground. They know full well that Israel will take a very large number of the bastards with her when she goes.

8/13/2005 12:29:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

. A Hooked Fawkes .
Cook the Hook, cook the Hook,
What a magnificent scene!
Cook the Hook, cook the Hook,
God save the Queen!
Hip hip hoorah!
Hip hip hoorah!

A mole in the mosque to find out who's boss.
A wiretap to catch him.
A hanging judge to hold the grudge.
A length of rope to dispatch him.
Dangle him by his ratty beard
In neighborhoods where he's revered.
Then hang him by the neck instead--
Hang him, as they say, till dead.
Hip hip hoorah!
Hip hip hoorah!
. Twenty First Century Fawkes.

8/13/2005 12:32:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

"When the emotional plague character comes into contact with the natural life functions of living human beings, he experiences an intolerable stirring up of the energy in his own organism and feels that he must destroy the functioning of others, whose very existence torments him by exciting his own trapped life energy."

8/13/2005 12:35:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

"An essential characteristic of the emotional plague is that its stated reason for an act of destruction is never the true reason. The reason given often involves religion or politics, but the emotional plague must be viewed as a biophysical rather than a religious or a political phenomenon."

8/13/2005 12:37:00 PM  
Blogger Vercingetorix said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

8/13/2005 12:47:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Arthur O. Sulzberger, Jr., the publisher of the NY Times, goes by
Pinch. His father was called Punch. What are the origins of these
(I've heard that Pinch has a slightly obese son waiting in
the wings. Paunch.)

8/13/2005 12:49:00 PM  
Blogger Vercingetorix said...

Buddy, Doug, check out this post I wrote over at Geopoliticalreview
The Day After

8/13/2005 12:50:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

8/13/2005 12:52:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

How far beyond Basra does Vincent's portrayal of Sadrs' control of the police extend?

8/13/2005 01:05:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Timmerman says there are others besides Sistanni on the right side, and resentments from their treatment by the "racist Persians" still fester.
He's pretty sanguine about that, (Iranian connection) but no Iraq expert, he says.
The weapons and funding alone represent a big negative.

8/13/2005 01:08:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

His next book is going to be how the State Dept Sabotaged OIF.
Says if Chalabi had been set up as originally planned at the start, they had excellent Intel to keep the insurgency from growing the way it did while Bremmer and Co fiddled.

8/13/2005 01:10:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

MeMe Closed.
Aristid Development.

8/13/2005 01:20:00 PM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

That's some very excellent, very clear-eyed analysis, Verc. Wish we were farther along, but with an Iraqi general staff under daily assassination attempts, it's a tough deal. Grinding. Like our other wars, just a hard, hard, deal.

8/13/2005 01:25:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

After Iraqi's take over, limited airstrikes into Syria?

8/13/2005 01:42:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - President Bush said on Israeli television he could consider using force as a last resort to press Iran to give up its nuclear programme.

"All options are on the table," Bush, speaking at his ranch in Crawford, Texas, said in the interview broadcast on Saturday.
I forgot:
When Timmerman said there would be no question that Israel would strike when they saw the missiles being loaded, he reminded us that right around 2nd Inauguration, Cheney gave clear signals we would let them.
Sounds like we might have to help them.
...that strategic reserve better be conserved with some serious measures while things get straightened out.
If Ever.
Should have a Manhatten Project to build Nuke Strategic Electrical Reserve.

8/13/2005 01:50:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

"Tehran says it aims only to produce electricity and denies Western accusations it is seeking a nuclear bomb."
As the Israelis (and us, no doubt) observe them modifiying their missiles for a nuke.

8/13/2005 01:55:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Mohamed ElBaradei:
Baghdad Bob Reincarnated.

8/13/2005 01:57:00 PM  
Blogger Vercingetorix said...

I don't think airpower will solve much in Syria...there are few targets to hit, fewer targets that will leverage a desired outcome; cessation of support for terrorists and liberalization of Syria. The best that can be done is to exert an influence that will constrict Syrian influence across its borders, which Syria will desire as it reduces its contact with roiling influences such as Iraq, Lebanon, and Turkey.

I think the goal is to box Syria into a corner and keep her there.

Iran is different. Military and diplomatic goals can be accomplished by military strikes, to its nuclear program, missile program, command and control, etc. In no case will security be gained by diplomacy and so military action can buy security whatever the cost of Iranian sympathies.

8/13/2005 02:20:00 PM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

I agree. Turkey and the looming specter of Kurdistan should be sufficient--and least possibly counterproductive--to neutralize the Syrian input to the global terror offensive. Iran, tho, is another matter. Her offensive military power is becoming world-war-igniting in nature. To those who say it's too late to nip it in the bud, we have to ask, how do we know this isn't the bud? Anyway, saber-rattling has to be credible. Paradox, sure, but true. Those Mullahs have to start believing they're going too far. Somehow. I'm beginning to believe we are going to see another of those six-week high-intensity air campaigns--simultaneously with the IDF doing something about the Hamas Rocket Brigades.

8/13/2005 02:55:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

With Oil at $65+ per barrel and limited supplies vis a vie demand there is not much room to maneuver.
The Mullahs believe, rightfully so, that our options are limited.
A blockade could be counter productive. There are over 300 sites, that the EU3 have told the Iranians, on the prospective target list. Would air strikes against any or all of them initiate an Iranian embargo?
$100 per barrel oil means gas at over $5 per gallon. Not a pleasant picture.

The Israelis and Indians are not NPT signatories that have Nuclear stockpiles. We trade and actively interact with each, celebrating a new defense pact with India.
Iran is a NPT participant and claims it right, under the treaty, to develop nuclear power.
Our hypocrisy is showing.
By never listing Iran as an opponent in the War on Terror we have done ourselves a disservice.
Here is a peaceful nation trying to develop it's lawful, by treaty, ability to generate electric power.
Other than suspicion, fear and over a dozen years of hiding aspects of their nuclear program there is no evidence that the Iranians would build a bomb.
Granted I think they would, but that is based on no HARD evidence.
Driving the World into an oil shock recession/ depression is right out of UBL's playbook.
He no longer drives around in a SUV

8/13/2005 04:52:00 PM  
Blogger Aristides said...

How likely is it for us to use an EMT weapon on Iran then go in with the SF's? I know that we can destroy the command and control structure with our stealth force, but I don't think it would be that bad to light up the sky over Tehran with a huge upper-atmosphere nuclear burst, and be out of Iran with our mission accomplished before the sun rises the next day.

But I'm not a military guy.

8/13/2005 05:34:00 PM  
Blogger Aristides said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

8/13/2005 05:46:00 PM  
Blogger Aristides said...

We need quick punitive action, not a long drawn out engagement. Plus, turning night into day would be a great display of power.

With the power out and communication effectively eliminated, it would give us a chance for an uprising. I'm sure we have forces in the country prepping the battlefield for such a situation (at least I hope). Two strategic objectives accomplished in one night. Three if you add the boost that UN resolutions will get afterwards. Perfect for the American media consumer, no?

Of course, this may not be possible. But it sounds great to me.

8/13/2005 05:52:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

The difficulty lies in the what ifs...
If the Mullahs are not deposed, quickly, their strangle hold on the oil production and export give them a hole card.
I would discount our using a nuclear device of any type in a first strike. The adverse PR, world wide, would be substantial.

The oil fields could be seized, in conjunction with air strikes on the nuclear sites.
If we stayed out of the population centers we could limit our exposure to a protracted Insurgency. We would need to have an anti Mullah contingent to hand off to, quickly. This type of collaboration with locals has never been our forte, re: Iraq & Vietnam.

8/13/2005 06:20:00 PM  
Blogger RWE said...

aristides: A NUDET over Tehran to produce a disabling EMP would have a number of problems. It would be technically feasible, but would be diplomatically difficult because of the proximity to both Russia and Iraq. Russia would be p.o.ed, and we would face the possibility of knocking our systems in Iraq that we would not wnat to lose. Our military systems probably would not present that much of a problem - but would still be affected to some degree - and we would likely lose civillian systems, including orbital systems, that we would rather not do without.
We do have other means of knocking out electrical and electronic systems more selectively, and not all of them go "boom" in an obvious way.
Doug, Buddy and Rat: The possibility of a Iranian nuclear attack on Israel offers some interesting "what if's." Now, if the Iranians shoot and the Israelis knock down the missiles with the SDI technology we have been sharing with them - then no one can blame them for what happens next. Well, where are those armed nukes going to fall?
Look at a map and figure out what the trajectory would have to be and where the RVs would impact. Maybe they would not go off when they hit, but perhaps they would.
It sure would be funny if airpower solved the Syrian problem, especially if it was Iranian "airpower."

8/13/2005 06:21:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

Would the Iranians really take a MAD chance with Israel and US?

The Iranians are not faceless and stateless terrorists. They have cities and large populations, would they risk it all in a desire to watch Israel burn?

I think not. I think they want to hide behind a MAD shield, not wield the nuclear sword. I could be completely wrong, having never visted Iran or knowing any Mullahs.

8/13/2005 06:36:00 PM  
Blogger Mətušélaḥ said...

By never listing Iran as an opponent in the War on Terror we have done ourselves a disservice.

Wasn't Iran named as one in the Axis of Evil?

8/13/2005 06:50:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Timmerman thinks they think they have to to avoid a revolution.

RWE: A resident of Israel would sure have to have a lot of faith in SDI, no?
No scuds those.
Timmerman thinks they are unwilling to take the chance w/less than 15 min to live, thus he says if they are seen arming the missiles, Israel launches.

8/13/2005 07:43:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

That's what I thought Mr Go rilla.
...I mean killa.

8/13/2005 07:44:00 PM  
Blogger Aristides said...

If I remember right Rasfanjani publically vowed to destroy Israel, even if it meant losing 200 million Iranians to a counterstrike. As he said, one or two nukes and Israel doesn't exist anymore. With his perverted calculus, the cost to Iran would be worth it.

And he was the moderate.

We know that Israel won't live with that threat. America won't either, and Iraq already has a long list of complaints, a list that pales when compared to the risk of a nuclear Iran next door.

Iran will not give in to diplomacy. Sanctions from the EU and US are likely, but not from the UN because of Russia and China. Even then, it would not guarantee a nuclear-free Iran.

Therefore, from this vantage point US military action looks inevitable. We want to make this look like a punitive action, so leaving it to Israel causes all sorts of diplomatic problems. It would be seen as a war of aggression by the Arabs, and all the conspiracy-theorists would be seen as vindicated about a Zionist plot to control the ME (C4). Plus, the US would have to okay the mission and Israel would have to use Iraqi airspace. The Israel option therefore seems untenable. If we dally, Israel will be forced to do it, but the cost to our overall strategy in the ME would be enormous.

Iraq would also cause problems, most of which having to do with the quality and success of the mission. That leaves us. In the near future, we will be forced to attack Iran.

Does anybody see any flaw in that argument, and if not, what happens when Iran comes to the same conclusion?

If something is inevitable, it should be done when chances favor us and we control the initiative. A slow wind up in the UN won't cut it, I fear, yet I expect it will happen anyways. In the meantime, Iran is getting ready.

8/13/2005 07:51:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

The Book Review totally savages his book, but Lehman says this:

"With so many amateur intelligence experts clouding the public dialogue, it is a pleasure to read the work of an author of real professionalism. Timmerman adds texture and clarity to the gross failures of our intelligence establishment and new visibility to the role of Iran in the Islamist war against America.” —
John f. Lehman, 9/11 Commission member and former Secretary of the Navy

.Kenneth Timmerman's Website

8/13/2005 07:58:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

The reviewer cannot even comprehend Iran supporting
"the Sunni Insurgency."
Maybe he thinks our State Dept makes their decisions for them?

8/13/2005 08:01:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

"Iran is getting ready."
And we can be assured Israel is too.
...unless they've lost their minds and desire to have their children live.

8/13/2005 08:03:00 PM  
Blogger Cutler said...

"Would the Iranians really take a MAD chance with Israel and US?

The Iranians are not faceless and stateless terrorists. They have cities and large populations, would they risk it all in a desire to watch Israel burn?

I think not. I think they want to hide behind a MAD shield, not wield the nuclear sword. I could be completely wrong, having never visted Iran or knowing any Mullahs."

Absent a major attack or another wild card event, our only option, is ultimately waiting them out. We do not have a credible military option and either sanctions or military attacks risk the future coup that we are ultimately guarenteed.

The Iranian youth do not hate us, a majority of the country was born after the 1979 revolution. They have very little reason to hate America; the Great Satan rhetoric is alien to them.

Give it 10 to 20 years and it'll be a much different Iran, likely an American ally. The trick is of course surviving 10 to 20 years with the Mullahs, but MAD is the only answer absent total war or nuclear preemption, and the forfeiture of the pro-American sympathies of Iranian youth.

Not a popular answer, but my opinion. We'll help the internal dissidents, but won't do anything to give the Mullahs an excuse to crack down and use us as a scapegoat. Iranians like us, but they will rally against outside interference, and the nuclear bomb is a popular acquisition; it is one of the few areas in which the Mullahs have majoritarian domestic support - the natural consequence of a country surrounded by enemies and with a historical fear of outside interference.

-my briefly expressed, iconoclastic opinion

8/13/2005 08:25:00 PM  
Blogger geoffb5 said...

This is not exactly on topic. In 1995 Neal Stephenson wrote the science fiction novel "The Diamond Age" which is very much about warfare using nanotech. Also a good read.

8/13/2005 08:26:00 PM  
Blogger Cedarford said...

I suppose we may get to a point of risking 5 dollar a gallon gas and 100 dollar a barrel oil.

Desert Rat made a very good point. Iran is a signatory to the NPT that we think might one day violate it, and the Israel backers are demanding the US start another major war to "take out" the threat.

Israel, India, and Palistan are all violators of the NPT (or as Israeli lawyers would say .... technically we Israelis aren't because we refused to sign that or the BioWar Convention). N Korea threatened to withdraw and was offered major aid packages and nuke plants from S Korea and the USA. For the last 27 years, our strategy is to give our undeclared nuclear-armed "special friend" Israel several billion a year - in return they give our politicians manila evelopes full of cash. Lately we started giving nuclear-armed Pakistan a few billion a year, and we just signed a major pact with India.

So - getting this straight - we must attack NPT member Iran that swears it isn't going to build nukes, because a country with 250 thermonuclear and boosted fission bombs wants us to??

And take our 3rd major Oil Embargo on behalf of our "special friend"? 100 dollar plus oil? And risk a major war that we might have to resurrect the Draft for and torpedo our economy?

That doesn't strike me as too popular a move.

8/13/2005 08:35:00 PM  
Blogger Aristides said...


I am not as sanguine about waiting as you are, and I don't think Israel is either. If Israel thought it was necessary to attack Osirak, they are not going to allow Iran to bring their nukes online. And an Israeli attack could shatter the fragile progress we've made in Iraq so far, and the entire region could erupt in turmoil.

I think it comes down to time, and we simply don't have any. If we had 15 years, then sure, a revolution would be our bet. But we don't. The processing plant is back in action, the bomb design is ready, the Shahab-3 has been remodeled, and the hardliners have taken over the entire government. Ahmadinejad is training thousands as suicide bombers, and the ruling elite do not even bother to hide their intentions: they are going to spread Islam, whatever the cost, and they are going to start with Israel and the US.

To quote Saruman: "What time do you think we have?"

C4: Israel is not a signatory to the treaty. And yes, that makes all the difference. They developed the tech on their own. NPT signatories do not, they are given nuclear tech in exchange for promises, which Iran has broken.

Give it up. Iran is not just a threat to Israel. They are our problem, too.

8/13/2005 08:44:00 PM  
Blogger Aristides said...

And I am not an Israeli lawyer.

8/13/2005 08:45:00 PM  
Blogger Cedarford said...

Cutler - well said. I know Iranians in the US that work nuke plants. America trained 10's of thousands and once had the Shah slated to have 22 American reactors installed by the late 80's. The Revolution cancelled the American nuke orders. About 1/4th of the American trained nuclear workers moved to the West and the rest await the Iranian industry. It is a universally popular national program in Iran, support coming from all Iranian groups. If the US invades on Israel's wishes, the country will unite behind the Ayatollahs. Best wait it out and ignore the neocons, who are getting hysterical lately.

Verc writes:

The F-22 was developed in the 80s; twenty years later it has finally started, tentatively, to enter service. Now we are developing entire classes of weapons that were only on the drawing board on 9/11. Wartime acquisition is always faster, as Wretchard’s post makes clear, but the focus on the technological lead for current US forces is similar to the qualitative lead the US insisted on in the Cold War; there is reason to assume that the current process will be permanent or drastically more efficient than the old one.

Actually, keeping the DoD budget small to preserve Bush's tax cuts for the wealthy and the McMansion program is causing real procurement problems as America burns through Reservist eligibility, existing DoD funds, weapons platforms, and spare parts for the Iraq War.

Lawrence Korb, Reagan's DOD ass't Secretary, says given the money diverted from procurement to Iraq that unless the budget finds new money for defense - the F-22 must fall, no new sub building is possible, cancel the DDX ship, the Osprey must never fly.

Joining the Comanche, the Paladin artillery on the scrapheap.

Keep the tax cuts going! Do your wartime patriotic duty and ...Shop! Travel! Do something nice for a neighbor. By a Chinese made US flag & magnetic yellow ribbon to show you suport the troops!

On the brighter side, Korb says after the Iraq-caused hemorrhage of procurement dollars we might have enough left to afford the F-35 if we cut everything else.,0,1900864.story?coll=la-news-comment-opinions

8/13/2005 08:56:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

C4 figures if Israel Attacks it means we did too since we'll be there licking their behinds.
You don't really think they might hand one over to AQ types, do you? that really a big problem anyhow?

8/13/2005 08:58:00 PM  

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