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10 August 2009

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Nightsticker

Colonel Lang,

Much of the current discussion revolves around the possible outcomes of various possible US escalations [increase US troop strength,increase rural development,increase strength of Afghan Army, etc]. I have been thinking about the possible outcomes of various possible Resistance escalations [introduction of an effective anti helicopter weapon, introduction of a reasonably precision guided surface to surface missile, some means of degrading drone effectiveness, capture and exploitation of a large number of US prisoners, etc]. Some of the technical escalations I refer to above are possible for well funded non-State players, to say nothing of many regional State players. If every Jihadi resistance fighter had the anti-helicopter equivalent of the Panzerfaust I think the US would face a major military defeat.

Nightsticker
USMC 1965-1972
FBI 1972-1996

N. M. Salamon

Colonel:

The Chinese curse: may you live in interesting times, is most appropriate to the USA situation.

But equally appropriate is T.S. Eliot's the Hollow Men [re congress, k-street, wall street et al] or W.H. Yeats' The Second Coming .
Most unfortuate!

steve

Having sucked the life out of the American economy over the past 30 years, there's not much more the politicians can do except boil the bones of the middle class for glue.

Duncan Kinder
. We are yet to wean ourselves from the old paradigm: the $3 billion we borrow each and every day -- principally from China -- to maintain the world's highest standard of living, based on conspicuous consumption, at a time of growing world shortages.

This assumes not only that the Chinese will continue to be willing to loan us such sums but that they also would be able.

Should the Chinese economy implode, our funds would be cut off under circumstances we could not negotiate and nobody could control.

steve

In the fine spirit of Obama's bipartisanship, I should add that my above comment is directed at both political parties.

These days, even the democrats are incapable of throwing a few crumbs to the middle class (healthcare).

Matthew

Private note to Col. PL: "I understand that construction of permanent looking US facilities goes on apace in Afghanistan. The Burger King is pleased."

I almost split my gut laughing at this. You just might get John Stewart's job yet.

Fred

Mr. Borchgrave should really get out more. “A pledge to limit tax increases to those making more than $250,000 a year is a pipe dream. Someone has to pay the health piper.” And we can’t tax ‘Two major entrepreneurial tycoons, in the multibillion-dollar league’?

McChrystal needs more troops? Time for Lincolnesque Obama to call out the national militia! Obama could also be bi-partisan enough to take a page from that fine southern president, Jefferson Davis, and have the militia pay their own way – especially when they want to leave Afghanistan in the middle of a winter campaign. I’m sure Wayne LaPeirre is just waiting for the call to service.

William R. Cumming

WE certainly do live in interesting times and not likely to stay this interesting much longer. Much as I hate to say it I will say the health care, education, and the environment might just not be the most pressing problems right now for the US. It looks like a restructuring away from the FIRE sector as fast as possible and from a 70% GDP based US consumers needs to be accomplished NOW. How do you do that? Well infrastructure investment might be a start and reorientation from physical infrastructure protection to cyber protection, and finally figure out what is really needed for US defense not offense. It seems to me that all it will take is say the "Big One" [earthquake] in CA or someother unplanned for event to really sink the GDP further. And STATE and LOCAL governments should not be able to get federal disaster relief for their negligence. Time to grow up America! Let's fund those stud ying languages to create a real corp of eligibles for positions requiring those abilities. And let's stop discarding our youth with frying their brains with video games and cell phones. NO CELL PHONE until age of majority. But then free cell phones for all for emergency calls. Special numbers! Hey let's stop letting Microsoft and others shift the burden of defects in software to the consumer. And let's police the 10% of GDP devoted to non-profits and tax-exempt organizations that provide little in the way of return except for their officers. And on and on.

rick

Hey Steve,
I share your blaming of "the politicians" for the state of the US. They sent tehmselves back into office, election after election, doing things that the voters plainly disapproved of and which they repudiated at their very first oppertunity. You know, they way Bush was kicked out of office after the torture scandal broke. Oh, wait, that's not a good example...

The poor, powerless electorate. Wouldn't it be neat if there was some way that we could hold these politicians accountable? Maybe it could be some kind of periodic polling...

Duncan Kinder

If the United States took the money it propose to spend in Afghanistan and spent it instead on alternative energy R&D - particularly dispersed, localized sources, then the United States would be both wealthier and more secure.

Yes, the United States could still be vulnerable to terrorist attacks, but the resulting ripple effects of any such attack would be minimized.

This has been clear since the first Arab oil boycott in the early '70's.

Of course, promoting such an alternative energy drive would entail a massive restructuring of American society. Neither Wall St. nor Park Ave. are particularly good locals for solar panels.

So the current effort in Afghanistan is not so much an effort to achieve American security as to preserve the present structure of American society.

A populist would blame the Park Ave. and the Wall St. types. And indeed they are to blame. But we must note that the Peoria types seem equally gung ho.

Bobo

The WSJ article theme is now being disowned by the Pentagon and McChrystal, thus there has to be some truth to it.

I did think the James Risen article in the NYT today showed that the opium problem is being dealt with in a properly executed unconventional manner. This gives some hope that our Afghanistan COIN op may not be so fully "full blown". But then who knows what to believe with our major newspapers seemingly trying to out guess themselves before McChrytal's full report??

De Borchgrave's article was right on target though a little to heavy on the military.

Fred

WRC those are excellent ideas. When are you running for office? I would be happy to contribute both time and money.

Cold War Zoomie

My coworkers and I a few years ago used to think that China had us by the balls. After further "analysis" (bullshitting around the office) we concluded that we have each other by the balls. They loan us the cash so we can buy their stuff. Sure, China could cut us off, but then they would be cutting off their biggest customer!

And if we were in China's shoes, what is the alternative? Where can they make the best return on their investments right now?

When we lose our ranking as China's number 1 customer, that's when things will get worse.

Personally, I would not mind losing our empire as long as we don't destroy ourselves during the process. Britain was the last country to lose an empire, and life there ain't so bad. Now if we could just brew a better IPA in this country, that would make my day.

steve

Yes, Rick--

While every government--anytime, anywhere, including our own--has always seen the system gamed to some extent by the powerful, at least in the past occasionally there were political giants who would surface and LEAD.

Lincoln, FDR, and LBJ (domestically) come to mind.

Nowadays, no politician even makes the pretense of going out on a limb for the "greater good" and expressing any commitment to principle.

The nation has had a conscious policy of de-industrialization, a transfer of wealth to the wealthy, and the promotion of fear and angst among the middle class.

There are few men or women of principle in politics.

The only ones on the national scene that spring to mind are Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich--and of course our media (a more wonderously effective machine at suppressing criticism of the status-quo than anything Stalin could have dreamt up) ridicules and marginalizes them.

Vanasek

Col. Lang,

De Borchgrave's sources (thinly veiled as Rupert Murdoch and Jim Rodgers) raise some interesting points, but is nothing that hadn't been already mentioned almost twenty years ago in Paul Kennedy's book on the rise and fall of the great powers and imperial overstretch.

Why Obama and his generals want to be bogged down in Afganistan propping up yet another corrupt regime is beyond me. It's not like bin Laden and his types are going to launch another terrorist attack from there anyway.

Seems to me the best thing would be for us to cut a deal with the various Taliban insurgants whereby they hand us the al-Queda leadership and we leave them alone to run their own fiefdoms. There is no such thing as "Afganistan" for us to keep together (just as there is no "Iraq") and the sooner we realize it and stop wasting blood and treasure attempting to achieve such aims, the better.

Combine the amounts we spent there and in Iraq over the last seven years (over $1 trillion) and we would have had to borrow a lot less from the Chinese, and kept our economy is a less fragile state when the financial meltdown hit.

De Borchgrave is astute, however, in pointing out that we can maintain our position as global leader provided we maintain our technological, entreprenueral and educational leadership. When the world's children stop striving to go to Yale, Harvard, MIT and the like and instead enroll at the University of Shanghai or when China cranks out more patents than we do, that's when the game is up.

Cieran

CWZ:

Now if we could just brew a better IPA in this country, that would make my day.

Then consider your day made...

Go west, young man, to Chico, CA, for a tall draft of Sierra Nevada's estate-bottled pale ale. The hops come from the verdant fields just south of the brewery, and the Vina Loam found there is some of the finest soil on the planet.

You can even enjoy your rare ale with some credible fish and chips, served on the taproom's patio with a view of the hopyard.

I see in the WaPo (Aug 5th, Food and Wine section) that this pale ale is going to start showing up in bottles soon, so you may be able to save on travel.

William R. Cumming

Thanks for the vote of confidence FRED! I am just a broken down 67 year old retired civil servant (and veteran but not of combat)and keep hoping younger, brighter, stronger, faster folk might take up your offer. Of course I can think of an excellent representative of the Class of 62 VMI that would also be great to have to vote for. Hey its a free country at least I keep hoping. This blog and its host keep giving me some hope.

Fred

CWZ,

Personally I'd go with the New Holland brewery's Mad Hatter, but here's the '09 IPA champions:
http://brackets.brewingnews.com/tmenu.cfm?tid=306230

WRC, I'll see if I can't do better than second place next time out. Kind of glad not to be in office now with the health care brew-ha-ha boiling over right now. Interesting times indeed. I'll second that vote for a VMI candidate.

optimax

Yellow Snow IPA--sounds unappealing.

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