Sunday, September 30, 2007

Sputnik at 50

"At that moment we couldn't fully understand what we had done," Chertok recalled. "We felt ecstatic about it only later, when the entire world ran amok. Only four or five days later did we realize that it was a turning point in the history of civilization."

The surviving key men of the Soviet space program are finally free to speak. Secrecy related to nuclear and missile matters was so extreme in the Soviet Union that not only were the names of key designers a secret, but they had to design their missiles without any clear idea of the size and weight of the nuclear warheads they were destined to carry, so apparently they built them with an emphasis on throw-weight rather than durability, survivability, or ease of deployment. Which made them comparitively crummy weapons, but mighty good satellite launchers.

I also note that their testimony confirms GRU defector Viktor Suvorov's contention that the USSR lost the race to the Moon because their electronics were inferior. Unlike Suvorov, however, the rocketmen claim that the moon-race was Brezhnev's idea, not Khrushchev's.

That better explains what Henry Kissinger described as the Russians' superstitious awe of American technological superiority: Brezhnev had tried and failed, whereas the U.S. succeeded. Perhaps America's success at reaching the Moon was the key reason why Brezhnev signed so many strategic arms agreements with the Soviet Union's ideological enemy, the United States of America.

See also: On Gamma-Ray Astronomy and Nuclear War

Friday, September 21, 2007

Why stop at Ghanem?

Why stop at Ghanem? As long as assassins can't be caught and there is no political cost to the "other side's" agenda for such dastardly deeds, why shouldn't whoever wants to kill Lebanese democracy simply continue?

Whats so frustrating here, besides the fact that once again a respected leader was mercilessly and anonymously murdered in broad daylight, is that we still have NO plan for Lebanon, and it quite hard to draw any hope out of this.

I am inclined to agree with Rami. You guys need a plan. Now. Today. Why not do it on this blog, in this very comments thread? Doing so would be nothing less than an act of hope.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

"God bless Osama Bin Landin"

Today many Afghan says God bless Osama Bin Landin who attacked the twin tower and drove the world to look at our country which was in burning and also they say God bless America that saved our live and brought democracy, freedom and security...Many Afghans says it is not important for us how many people have been killed in September 11 in twin tower in New York and Pentagon outside Washington but it is important that US saved our live and released our country.

If after 9-11 the U.S. had restricted itself to anti-terrorist law-enforcement and simply apprehending Osama Bin Laden it wouldn't have made a difference in how Afghans feel about Americans. Only because the United States of America liberated their country do they say "God bless America".

I wonder what "peace-loving" liberals protesting the Global War on Terror think of that?

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

A Confession, Apology, & Obituary

This blog is premised on the basis that Solomon2 thinks he is wise. This post is proof that he is not, at least not all the time.

Last night I learned about the death of a soldier in Iraq, 1LT Andrew Bacevich. Solomon2 had ripped into and unjustly insulted this young man's father in a post two years ago. (I am too embarassed to link to it, but the post remains up.) I now realize that because I was wedded to my own fixed world-view, I vilified the father to blind myself to the other world-view he had to offer. I feel shamed and diminished that it took the death of a promising young man for me to realize this.

I apologize, Dr. Bacevich, and offer you my condolences on the death of your son.

Sophia's Voice

I was discussing this recently with a european friend and he asked why Arabs were collaborators in their own decline ? I think the question is legitimate but at the same time, one has to consider that Arab countries were never decolonised.

That statement only makes factual sense if it is taken to mean that most of the Arab states today consist of territory that was conquered, then colonized, by Arabs through religious wars. The French did colonize Algeria, but they departed over two generations ago. What became Israel was already being re-settled by Jews before World War II, though not without unnecessary hardships by many of the pioneers: many complained they had to pay two or three times for the same plot of land.

The current problems of the Arab World are intimately linked to the fall of the Ottoman Empire. Jew fought beside Arab and European in that struggle to liberate Baghdad, Damascus, and other cities, both because the Jews had been promised their homeland as a reward and because they thought their Arab neighbors deserved their own chance at self-rule.

Independent Arab states with an independent Jewish homeland were thus meant from the very beginning to be a package deal. Once the war was over, however, Arabs (1) wanted more for themselves and (2) feared the comparitive newness of a territory ruled by Jews in the midst of their own lands.

This fear was reasonable only in the sense that the examples of the Turks (where did all those Armenians and Greeks go?) and Arabs themselves was that once their ethno-religious groups dominated a region, it tended to kill or drive out the others. That the Jews arrived with the intention of not doing so could not be believed; nor the prospect (circulated by the local Imam) of the "last mosque" being converted by infidels be tolerated.

First mob violence, then armed violence, took place against the Jews. Not all Arabs participated. When independence finally came Arabs heeded the call by their own leaders to flee so conventional armies could fight unhindered, but, I guess, secretly out of fear and hatred of Jewish rule. Israel won its wars partly because the Arab states were fighting for "honor" - that is, thievery - whereas the Jews were fighting for their very lives. The leaders of the new Arab "republics" used their leverage over the law and people's fears to eject most if not all of the remaining Jews from Arab lands, seizing thier property and thus creating a permanent justification in the ruling class for anti-Semitism, for if Jews were accorded equal or even limited rights with Arabs how could they justify keeping their loot?

And what of the Arabs' original fears? The Temple Mount is undamaged, save by Muslim hands. Hundreds of thousands of Arabs returned to Israel after its war of independence. Israel-dominated territory has not experienced ethnic cleansing, save of the Jews in Sinai and Gaza. Their have been no massacres of Arabs by Jews; indeed, their population has been exploding under the twin pressures of lawlessness and unlimited food "aid".

Indeed, Bruce Thornton claims, "Since World War II, some 25 million people have died in various conflicts, only 8,000 as a result of Israel’s attempts to ward off a chronic existential threat. That number includes soldiers.

That's about one-third the casualties Assad inflicted upon Hama in a week, and less than Saddam averaged during each year of his misrule. And who counts the casualties in the civil wars of Yemen, or the Arab expansionist wars in Sudan and Western Sahara?

So how can Western colonialism be counted as one of the major ills of the Arabs? Why even associate it with Arab decline? Is it, perhaps, because Western Colonialism is a "safe" whipping boy that serves as a distraction for Arab leaders who prefer to distract their populace by waving a red herring while robbing their pockets and stealing their children to die for the sake of glory? After all, Westerners, especially Jews, don't terrorize populations by killing children for the deeds of their parents the way some Arabs do on a routine basis.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

"I am Lieutenant Hamid."

I am Lt Hamid. Thank you for this article and for this honest media. This fact all the American people need to know. They need to know that the Iraqi Army sacrifice their life to save innocent people’s life. With our sacrifice of our life, being a martyr, there is no more IED. Thank you very much.”

Hamid asked me to publish his photo. He said he wants al Qaeda to come to Sadr City and look for him.

Would this man have existed if the U.S. had employed half a million men to establish a resentful "occupation" in Iraq instead of liberating the Iraqis and providing them with the tools, training, and desire to police themselves? That was the point of Solomon2's very first post. We are not creating yet another sniggering free-riding welfare state, but strategic partners for our future security. In a world where the U.S. is only 27% of world GDP rather than the 60% or so it was after WWII, this is the way to establish world peace without great wars or empires.

The Vision and Song of Louis Armstrong

Absolutely wonderful. (H/T: The Small Wars Journal)

Monday, September 03, 2007

Guest Post: Trust Freedom

Veteran James Baxter has kindly permitted me to reprint his story on my blog:

Every September, I recall that is more than half a century (62 years) since I landed at Nagasaki with the 2nd Marine Division in the original occupation of Japan following World War II. This time every year, I have watched and listened to the light-hearted "peaceniks" and their light-headed symbolism-without-substance of ringing bells, flying pigeons, floating candles, and sonorous chanting and I recall again that "Peace is not a cause - it is an effect."

In July, 1945, my fellow 8th RCT Marines [I was a BARman] and I returned to Saipan following the successful conclusion of the Battle of Okinawa. We were issued new equipment and replacements joined each outfit in preparation for our coming amphibious assault on the home islands of Japan.

B-29 bombing had leveled the major cities of Japan, including Kobe, Osaka, Nagoya, Yokohama, Yokosuka, and Tokyo.

We were informed we would land three Marine divisions and six Army divisions, perhaps abreast, with large reserves following us in. It was estimated that it would cost half a million casualties to subdue the Japanese homeland.

In August, the A-bomb was dropped on Hiroshima but the Japanese government refused to surrender. Three days later a second A-bomb was dropped on the city of Nagasaki. The Imperial Japanese government finally surrendered.

Following the 1941 sneak attack on Pearl Harbor, a Japanese admiral said, "I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant..." Indeed, they had. Not surprisingly, the atomic bomb was produced by a free people functioning in a free environment. Not surprisingly because the creative process is a natural human choice-making process and inventiveness occurs most readily where choice-making opportunities abound. America!

Tamper with a giant, indeed! Tyrants, beware: Free men are nature's pit bulls of Liberty! The Japanese learned the hard way what tyrants of any generation should know: Never start a war with a free people - you never know what they may invent!

As a newly assigned member of a U.S. Marine intelligence section, I had a unique opportunity to visit many major cities of Japan, including Tokyo and Hiroshima, within weeks of their destruction. For a full year I observed the beaches, weapons, and troops we would have assaulted had the A-bombs not been dropped. Yes, it would have been very destructive for all, but especially for the people of Japan.

When we landed in Japan, for what came to be the finest and most humane occupation of a defeated enemy in recorded history, it was with great appreciation, thanksgiving, and praise for the atomic bomb team, including the aircrew of the Enola Gay. A half million American homes had been spared the Gold Star flag, including, I'm sure, my own.

Whenever I hear the apologists expressing guilt and shame for A-bombing and ending the war Japan had started (they ignore the cause-effect relation between Pearl Harbor and Nagasaki), I have noted that neither the effete critics nor the puff-adder politicians are among us in the assault landing-craft or the stinking rice paddies of their suggested alternative, "conventional" warfare. Stammering reluctance is obvious and continuous, but they do love to pontificate about the Rights that others, and the Bomb, have bought and preserved for them.

The vanities of ignorance and camouflaged cowardice abound as license for the assertion of virtuous "rights" purchased by the blood of others - those others who have borne the burden and physical expense of Rights whining apologists so casually and self-righteously claim.

At best, these fakers manifest a profound and cryptic ignorance of causal relations, myopic perception, and dull I.Q. At worst, there is a word and description in The Constitution defining those who love the enemy more than they love their own countrymen and their own posterity. Every Yankee Doodle Dandy knows what that word is.

In 1945, America was the only nation in the world with the Bomb and it behaved responsibly and respectfully. It remained so until two among us betrayed it to the Kremlin. Still, this American weapon system has been the prime deterrent to earth's latest model world- tyranny: Seventy years of Soviet collectivist definition, coercion, and domination of individual human beings.

The message is this: Trust Freedom. Remember, tyrants never learn. The restriction of Freedom is the limitation of human choice, and choice is the fulcrum-point of the creative process in human affairs. As earth's choicemaker, it is our human identity on nature's beautiful blue planet and the natural premise of man's free institutions, environments, and respectful relations with one another. Made in the image of our Creator, free men choose, create, and progress - or die.

Free men should not fear the moon-god-crowd oppressor nor choose any of his ways. Recall with a confident Job and a victorious David, "Know ye not that you are in league with the stones of the field?"

Semper Fidelis
Jim Baxter
WW II and Korean War

James Baxter offers us selected articles at his website, The Choicemaker

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Lebanon: The Perils of Partition

Abu Kais, I suspected from your previous report that if "everybody" is talking about partition, the rumor probably originated with Hezbollah itself. Hezbollah has effective control of a large portion of the Shia community and in police states rumors are circulated by a special service for the purpose of obscuring the truth [re: "Viktor Suvorov", Inside the Aquarium] and establishing the meme rulers feel is desirable to be at the top of the minds of the people.

Partition might have worked six years or even twelve months ago, but not now; Hezbollah is preparing. While I feel sure Syro/Hezb/Iran wants Lebanon intact as a pliable cover for anti-Western military and terrorist activity, they are preparing a fallback position in case their effort to install a compliant Lebanese president fails.

I figure that Syria and Iran, through Hezbollah, has been offerring Lebanese a choice: peace (that is, no assassinations, mob violence, or civil war) and prosperity (enjoy the things Saudi capital helped you build) in areas outside Hezbollah territory in exchange for a free hand at extending Iranian imperialism, or throw in with the West and see your leaders die, and possibly a resumption of the civil war.

Berri practically promises that siding with the West will bring immediate violence. Of course, siding with Iran reduces Lebanon to what diplomats call a "captive state". I believe this will lead to the eventual extinction of a large portion of the Lebanese population once Hezbollah's super-protected missiles are believed to be armed with weapons of mass destruction. Lebanon's current leaders may realize the paradoxical danger of opposing the West that more weapons means less security, but a few honeyed words from Persian lips, something along the lines of, "We'll get you and your family and money out before They attack", may be enough to sway some people.

I have been reading the Lebanese Constitution. The president is far from being a potted plant, especially when the threat of domestic strife is present. His powers are comparable to yet greater than those of the British monarch. In a "normally" functioning parliamentary democracy his functions would indeed be mostly ceremonial, but the Lebanese president has the capacity to single-handedly throw much of the chess-playing carpet-weaving mullahs' careful plans for a loop, and seriously complicate their plans for regional domination.

How is that? I'll just give you one example: Article 53-7 states that the President "accredits ambassadors and accept the credentials of ambassadors." In ordinary countries, that just means the President shakes the hand of the new ambassador when he arrives. But in Lebanon, the president - and ONLY the president - has the power to kick Iranian and Syrian "diplomats" out of Lebanon entirely, and putting a padlock on their embassies so none can enter.

You can now see why the presidency is such a concern to the Iranians and Syrians: without an embassy to serve as an intelligence and command center not subject to Lebanese law, their underhanded operations in Lebanon are seriously curtailed.

Syria/Hezb/Iran are not completely sure their intimidation plan will succeed. Thus their fallback plan of partition: they establish a contiguous territory subject to their control.

Why discuss partition now, rather than years earlier, and how is this linked to the presidency? Because of the Lebanese president's oath:

I swear by Almighty God to observe the Constitution and the laws of the Lebanese Nation and to maintain the independence of Lebanon and its territorial integrity."

The current Syria/Hezbollah/Iran axis has a "fig-leaf" arrangement where "territorial integrity" is just a convenient fiction, but partition is the reality. Already it is said that the Syrian Army occupies dozens of kilometers of Lebanese territory without a peep of objection from the Lebanese president responsible for his country's "territorial integrity".

A puppet president like Lahoud accepts this arrangement without blinking. But another sort of president might object, feeling that accepting it means breaking his oath. He might decide, for example, to honor his oath by calling foreign forces to assist in defend the borders.

Hence the importance of the relation of the president to the partition issue. Hezbollah's could declare partition by fiat under a compliant president who would simply comply with his masters' wishes. But Hezbollah could also bring up the question of partition under a non-puppet president via the political process, and try to use it to destroy Lebanese democracy: either accept partition or it's civil war, or accept partition and lose your democratic legitimacy.

I suppose Lebanese both at home and abroad must feel like fish in a slowly constricting net, paralyzed by fear and lack of fresh oxygen from escaping their fate. It need not be so, but in my opinion Lebanese require both a leap in logic and a leap of faith to escape their deadly fate. They did it once before when King Hariri was assassinated. Can they do it now?