Weekend yard sale
Some items of interest that readers may want to look at over the weekend. Topics include John Boyd, the NYT on Army stabilization doctrine, a forgotten Iranian dissident, Barack Obama and the Ramones, "pimping": the word, Black Helicopters, how Benazir Bhutto died, plus my thoughts on the New Republic's question. "Why did Asian Americans vote so overwhelmingly against Barack Obama?" After the Read More!
Frank Hoffman looks at the career and thinking of John Boyd at the Small Wars Journal. "Regrettably, Boyd’s career is too often truncated into well known “OODA Loop.” But Boyd had a lot more to offer. His contributions to flying tactics, fighter development, and operational theory are profound. The historical analyses and scientific theories he employed are not well documented nor well understood. This is principally due to Boyd’s reliance on briefing slides." But a number of books now give him the full treament. Mentioned in Hoffman's article are The Science, Strategy and War: The Strategic Theory of John Boyd and a pair of biographies. "Likewise, Boyd’s exploration of what we now know as chaos and complexity theory was a decade ahead of its time. Students of the nonlinear sciences, including Dr. Dave Kilcullen, have exploited the concept of complex adaptive systems in relation to modern adversaries like Al Qaeda in his own ground breaking studies. Dr. Osinga makes it clear that we can and are still learning from the iconoclastic Boyd."
The New York Times has an article that describes recent changes in Army Doctrine emphasizing stabilization operations as "an illustration of how far the Pentagon has moved beyond the Bush administration’s initial reluctance to use the military to support “nation-building” efforts when it came into office." The evolution of stabilization operations is something I've had the good fortune to follow closely and in my opinion any comparison between the sophisticated doctrines which have since evolved and "nation building" are a travesty. The concept of "nation building" survives in fossilized form today in the various UN Peacekeeping operations around the world. The important thing to grasp is that stabilization operations are now part of a total concept of war. But more to the point -- and the NYT will not tell you this -- stabilization operations can only work when there is a political commitment to investing time and energy to carry it out and providing the security cover under which it can operate. Both the long linger-time and the security cover are subjects which those eager for a quick "exit strategy" will never accept.
Claudia Rosett describes the fate of the men who are left behind by the media spotlight. "His name is Fathi Eljahmi. His offense has been to speak up for the cause of political pluralism in Libya ... We know something of Eljahmi's current condition because both Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have recently issued calls for his release from prison on the humanitarian grounds that he is gravely ill and in urgent need of medical care. But there are bigger reasons than that to call for Eljahmi's release, and it is not only human rights organizations, or private commentators, who should be doing so. It is time for Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and President Bush himself to step up to the plate and redeem - with specific reference to Gadhafi's abuse of Eljahmi - a vital pledge made more than five years ago, that 'America will call evil by its name.' ... Gadhafi, meanwhile, has hit the jackpot as America's prime example of a rogue regime on rehab." And Eljahmi is yesterday's news.
What would students of realpolitik say? Would they quote Omar Khayyam?
The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
Moves on: nor all your Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all your Tears wash out a Word of it.
Maybe, but it's still a shame.
Did Barack Obama's theme of the audacity of generic hope come from the Ramones? "If you're not in it, you're out of it."
That "pimping" word. MSNBC host Keith Olbermann once accused President Bush of "pimping" General David Petraeus and of making the general into a "political hack" at the risk of moving America's government toward a "military junta." Just recently MSNBC's David Shuster remarked that Chelsea Clinton was being "pimped out" presumably by her mother's campaign. Shuster was suspended. "Shuster, who apologized this morning on MSNBC and will again this evening, has been suspended from appearing on all NBC News broadcasts, other than to make his apology." Interestingly enough the words "pimped out" were used to promote a Roto-rooter product, according to Engadget. Maybe the MSNBC pundits should get a wider vocabulary.
The "Quiet One": a history of America's real life Black Helicopter. Conspiracy theorists have dreamed it; movies have imagined it. Now meet the airframe that started the legend: the OH-6A “Loach”.
How Benazir Bhutto really died, according to Scotland Yard. "UK police reached their conclusions by studying TV footage of the assassination, and X-rays of the victim."
Isaac Chotiner, writing in the New Republic asks "Why did Asian Americans vote so overwhelmingly against Barack Obama?" He suggests that Asians are risk averse, that many of them are fleeing from tyrannies, they were racist, etc. But he misses what I think is the essential reason they voted for Hillary by a 3-1 ratio. Asians have no white guilt; had nothing to do with slavery. And therefore they see Obama on his merits, without the distortion of that particular lens. Asians who vote for him will do so for other reasons, but not for the reason Andrew Sullivan gave, "his face". My impression of the voting patterns of the overseas Chinese in Southeast Asia, where by definition they have to vote for a person of another ethnic group, is that the vote goes to the candidate who offers the best prospects of social stability and a good business environment. Ideas like "hope" count for less than concrete possibilities.