Sunday, March 27, 2005


Happy Easter

I went to breakfast with my parents this morning. We dropped into the fruitmarket nextdoor and I bought a rabbit for dinner tonight. Yum.

Saturday, March 26, 2005


Economic Solution to Terri Schiavo?

Sometimes we focus to much on finding a perfect theoretical solution to our problems and ignore practicallity. Some questions simply can't be answered to everyone's satisfaction and it may be better to accept a good solution rather than pursue definitive answer. Some very good points were made on Kudlow and Co. about Terri Schiavo.

I think we need to defer to the courts in establishing whether Terri wishes to die over living in her condition. However, if it can't be established what her wishes are, I think that so long as the burden of keeping her alive doesn't fall on unwilling parties, I don't see any problem with any party that wishes to keep her alive doing so. I suppose now that the problem is whether parties are obscuring the situation to keep her alive against her will.

Personally, I don't know what I would want and don't really care. I'm perfectly fine with leaving that decision to others should I end up incapacitated. I feel that I can't know what I would want and I am fine leaving things up to chance should the unthinkable happen.

UPDATE: dogfaceboy has a good post on Schiavo.


Providing an Exit Strategy

Austin Bay contemplates the difficulties of providing insurgents with a viable exit strategy. Even when it is apparent that a group is fighting a losing battle, if their backs are to the wall they will fight to the death, prolonging the war increasing overall costs. If the prospects that your enemy will regroup and attack again are low enough (that they will accept defeat and reassimilate into society), it is economical to provide an exit.

Friday, March 25, 2005



I think this must read post by Frank is pretty inspiring, especially considering this and this.



Don't forget...Iraq is Bush's Vietnam. [via Frank Martin.]


Looking around...

I dropped by Frank Martin's today. He has lots of good stuff.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005


Snow Melts Peoples' Brains

A couple of inches of snow, and people forget how to drive. It took me 20 min to drive 1 1/2 mi home.

Friday, March 18, 2005



Douglas Feith, Defense Under Secretary for Policy, was in a press conference on C-Span today discussing strategy. One reporter asked of specifics regarding Iran; I think this demonstrates a lack of expertise, and even a general understanding, of strategy and war.

Strategy should not be mistaken for tactics, which are more explicit. Strategy is more of guide, containing both explicit and implicit aspects, which are used to determine tactics with the effect of achieving desired outcomes. A strategy may contain some specific tactics that are necessary to enable the use of other tactics which work with a broader strategy aspect, such as preparedness, but generally incorporating specific tactics into a strategy is limiting and likely bad strategy. An inflexible and overly explicit strategy is cumbersome and yet easily evaluated and manipulated by opponents and competitors.

Science can be used tactically in war, and many people would like to view war scientifically; however, in the art of war, being unpredictable is a generally a strength and flexibility allows skilled tacticians to turn potential weaknesses into strengths and an enemy’s strengths into weaknesses. We have seen this in Iraq, where choosing flexibility and being image conscious has cost lives on many occasions. But, being flexible allowed us to turn those losses into moderate wins, such as in Fallujah where insurgency led to more unified opposition to insurgents. And when we chose to disband the Bathist army, we may have helped fuel the insurgency, but detaining them would have been costly, limited the flexibility of the military, put more troops in harm’s way, been questionably beneficial and tied-up logistical resources and capabilities, fostered the dependency that is left behind by a totalitarian regime, and diminished the drive for independence that has been crucial in spreading freedom.

Strategy is an art and not a science and major aspects of strategy must remain implicit. Perfection is not an option; even if it were practical, the information broadcast to enemies would make it a devastating strategic weakness. While it is likely that much of the Iraq results were a stroke of good luck, it has been observed in humanitarian circles that countries tend to achieve most when they struggle against adversity. The most growth producing regions/countries of today were once considered the most hopeless, as noted by Sebastian Mallaby.

During the conference Feith said:

If you look at the war on terrorism, for example, it is clear to us that there is enormous importance to the capture-and-kill operations we do in the war on terrorism, but they will not allow us to win the war. The only way we are going to win the war on terrorism is, as a country, by dealing with the ideological support that the terrorists get.

Now this is not a Defense Department mission, but the U.S. government recognizes that to have a winning strategy in the war on terrorism, we're going to have to address what it is that allows the terrorists to recruit and indoctrinate new terrorists. And the kind of work that we need to do in the world as a government -- and the Defense Department only has a -- you know, a slice of this large responsibility -- but the work that we need to do as a government to win the war on terrorism does require activity, as opposed to just reaction.

And the president's strategy of freedom and democracy promotion is an example of changing the situation in the world in a way that contributes to strategic victory for us in the war on terrorism. It also serves other U.S. national security purposes.

Over the past several years, I’ve observed that the public in general can be pretty reactionary. This is especially true of a large portion of people in mid-eastern culture. The reaction that the US evoked in the mid-east before 9/11 and Iraqi Freedom certainly wasn’t a positive one. It seems clear to me that if democratization and promoting independence and unity in Iraq had been made central components of the explicit strategy and reasoning leading up to the war, the effectiveness would have been neutralized and they likely would have been used against us.

Because of the implicit nature of strategy, many components can be difficult to articulate. I think that often people are even incapable of articulating aspects of strategic thinking. In any case, the implicit nature of strategy will always leave some people in the dark and require those with a general understanding to champion the strategy. Some may follow these champions because of implicit understanding that they themselves are unable to articulate.

Even after the fact, strategy cannot be made fully explicit because it would provide valuable insight to our enemies.

Another point of interest from Feith’s conference is this:

Q: Mr. Feith, Mr. Feith, having said that you don't know where you're going to have to operate, have you identified any areas for priority attention, such as the Middle East, Taiwan Straits, Korea, maybe East Africa?

MR. FEITH: I don't think that the world gives us the luxury of picking areas. We have interests all over the world. I dare say that if anybody before September 11th, 2001, was listing places that we would want to focus on as a matter of priority, Afghanistan would have been rather low on the list.

I think we need to be very modest about our ability to predict the future, and I think a proper intellectual modesty is built into this concept of strategic uncertainty, and we tried to infuse that idea through these documents.

And what that means is we have interests all over the world; we have to be ready to work with countries all over the world, move and act in various types of operations, as I said, you know, spanning the whole range from humanitarian activities, diplomatic activities, combat activities anywhere in the world that they're required.

I think this implies the direction our military will be taking. We now realize that we can’t predict the conditions and even the rules we will be required to operate under in the future. September 11th and the Tsunami disaster have highlighted the importance of maintaining an active, adaptable, cutting-edge, ready and capable military. I think that incorporating humanitarian operations as training ops may prove to be a very effective tactic in the future of the military. Humanitarian missions would provide a variety of constraints and conditions that would keep our military active and adaptable. It would also help to justify the investment in a large military, which must exist as an insurance policy, though it might never be used in major combat operations.



Back in my undergrad, I learned from my Classic Civ class that the traditional definition of Martyr is someone who subjects themself to an unjust law to draw attention and compassion and effect change in that unjust law, similar to Ghandi's passive resistance techniques. So, are suicide-mass murderer-bombers protesting Allah's law that bombs will rip you apart and send the bomber onto eternal damnation?



Jenny: Do you think we lack class?

John: I think I'm classy.

Frank: I think you can't use the word "class" and have class.

John: Are you saying you don't have any class?

Frank: I implied it.

Thursday, March 17, 2005



Why do I have a blog? I had to register to post comments at Kudlow's Money Politics. Also, I figured it would help my communication skills, which are kinda weak.

Didn't make it to the bar at lunch. Guess I'll go later in the afternoon.


Happy St. Pat's

Now that I've created a blog and made my first post, I think it's time to head over to the local brewery and have a beer. Maybe I'll bring my laptop.


Cumulative Model

People store and assimilate information. Whenever we pass a bad driver on the road, we turn and look at the car and the driver. We may not memorize the details, but we absorbe the information and add it to our model. In this case, our model of bad drivers, a set of stereo types, which is part of our model of the world. It helps us to be more aware of possible dangers while we are driving and signals to help us navigate and drive efficiently. Over time we recognize the most important aspects of our environment on a subconscious level, improving our driving ability and increasing our available range of perception. Whether we are aware or not, we assimilate all the information we percieve on some level, and it changes the lens we see the world through.

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