« Middle East Diary - 11 July 2014 | Main | Middle East diary - 12 July 2014 »

11 July 2014


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.



Last night, I had the opportunity to watch part 1 of "Generation War", the German movie about five friends' experiences during WWII. I found it to be quite good, and plan to see parts 2 and 3.

It has been panned by the Chicago Tribune main movie critic among others.

I'm wondering whether other correspondents of this blog have had the opportunity to see it?



I can't hope noticing in my English morning - your late night - that these days your Live Feed Dial seems to be rushing down. This seems to have increased markedly in the last few weeks.

Are your viewing figures doing well?



There has been a substantial rise in the number of daily page views. pl

nick b


Any progress on the canine front?



we have lined up a Champion five year old bitch that we are supposed to receive after she has her last litter. She is now pregnant. thanks. pl

nick b

That sounds great! Happy to hear it.



Is this a good time to take a relo to the UAE? A nice promotion comes with it, typical corporate expat benefits along with a likely promotion when transferring back in 3-4 years.

Babak Makkinejad


I would like to bring up, like the proverbial bulldog, the issue of responsibility of the electorate in US, Canada, Australia as well as EU in the current situation in Syria and in Gaza.

I was criticized for disputing the idea that a cabal or a group of influential sympathizers of Israel - Christian or Jew or atheist - in these 27 states being responsible for these policies.

Yet a number of you have expressed the opinion that the electorate in Israel is responsible for what is now transpiring in Gaza.


If I were a Jew I would say that once again the Jew is being made a escape goat - for the non-Jew electoral majorities in EU, US, Canada, and Australia are being absolved of responsibility that democratically elected governments are pursuing in their names - you know such things as destroying Iraq and Syria and waging an economic war against Iran to wreck her social fabric - while the tiny Israeli electorate is held responsible for what is transpiring in Gaza.

I hope I have demonstrated the absurdity of the position that seeks to absolve - partially or fully - the Euro-American electorate from their responsibility in electing the governments that they did.


Good. Keep it up.

Lord Curzon


Could we have FB Ali's analysis on the current operation by the Pakistan Army against the TTP?



I would happy if Brigadier Ali wishes to write on that or any subject. pl



Living is good in the UAE so long as the money thing really works in your favor. COL is high. pl


Personally, I think the vast majority of Americans does not give damn about what is going on, or not going on, in Israel. Or Gaza. Or the West Bank. I think a tiny slice of the Americans, many elite, and almost all politicians and media types, care a great, great deal. For diverse and conflicting motives. I am painting here with a firehose...but that is my take.

And further more, for the record, whatever the nation thought in 2003-4...today, that same vast majority, IF THEIR GOVT listened to them, would want the US out of Northwest Asia...Africa, and the Middle East as of yesterday. And that same tiny slice of Americans, for equally diverse and conflicting motives, wants us involved. And once again, it is the tiny minority that gets to call the tune. Yes, yes, this line of reasoning can be seen as absolving the majority of the responsibility for US policy. I understand that. But nonetheless, that is the way I see. On certain issues in the US the message to the majority is, you can 'go to hell'. And the majority is aware of that...and it is contributing to deep, deep, and profound, disillusion with govt.

FB Ali

Lord Curzon,

I have no special current knowledge of this North Waziristan operation against the TTP. However, I would be glad to share my general views on the subject.

It seems the Pakistan army is following the same CT policy it developed earlier in the Swat operation. They started off with a total curfew over the whole area for 3 days or so during which they attacked known/suspected TTP targets from the air. Then they lifted the curfew and advised the civilian population to leave the area; some 900,000 people did so over the next few days, most into adjacent settled areas (where the civil authorities and the military are trying to look after them), others into Afghanistan. It is likely that, as rumoured, most of the TTP fighters also got out with the evacuees (in both directions).

Then the army (a reinforced division plus a SF brigade) started to move in on the ground. They are slowly taking over the villages and towns, and searching them for TTP infrastructure, finding many weapon stores, bomb-making factories etc and destroying them. When these operations are complete they will allow the inhabitants to move back in. The army will probably retain a strong presence in the area even after the civil administration is re-established and takes over governance (there wasn't much of a government structure in this tribal area to start with).

The main result of the operation is likely to be that North Waziristan will no longer serve as a base for the TTP (and the Haqqani group of the Afghan TTP). While its fighters have mostly escaped, their base infrastructure will be destroyed and will be very difficult to re-establish. There has been some loss of life among civilians during the air strikes, but the main effect on the tribesmen has been their dislocation; its longer-term dimension will depend on the effectiveness of the rehabilitation program after they return to their homes. It remains to be seen how much of the blame for this loss and disruption of their lives they ultimately assign to the TTP and how much to the government.

steve g


Agree wholeheartedly. Another case
in point is the so called undocumented
immigrants. Congress, both parties and
POTUS, are in such a confrontational
mode plus the blame game factor the whole
political system national,regional and
local is on the verge of collapse. We
elect these people to do our business and
they do whatever they want. Recourse?
I am at a loss.


I recently came across a fascinating World War I essay by the late historian, Barbara Tuchman. Written in 1967 on the 50th anniversary of WWI, she discusses the U.S. entry into that war and the various factions for and against our intervention.

In her essay I was struck by her an analysis and comparison of our entry into WWI with, at the time written, the Vietnam War. Ironically today, her words 50 more years later still ring true, vis-à-vis the U.S. in the Middle East:

“…Militarily we could knock out Hanoi, and doubtless Peking, too, tomorrow, but we cannot raise a clean new democracy on nuclear ashes. Whatever our material or political power, it is not enough for omnipotence. We cannot mold the non-Western world to our desires nor require its acceptance of our concepts of political freedom and representative government. It is too late in history to export to the nations of Asia and Africa with unschooled and undernourished populations in the hundreds of millions the democracy that evolved in the West over a thousand years of slow, small-scale experience from the Saxon village moot to the Bill of Rights….”


Babak Makkinejad

Well, if the issue War & Peace cannot be entrusted to "the People" then I submit to you that it might be a good idea to give some serious thought to the "Dual Monarchy" idea that the sci-fi author Jerry Pournelle had presented in some of his novels.



"West of Honor" was a great book. pl


In response to babak and turcopolier:

Unabashed Pournelle fan here.

I've also been known to enjoy Larry Niven's Kzin books some of his explorations of duty and honour are both well written and well rounded.

Colonel/Babak if you've read the 'motie' books have you ever toyed with the idea that the mediators were the ideal hard hearted empaths?


Doug Tunnell

I'm wondering if any of the readers here have followed the Iraqi notice to the UN regarding the Caliphate's seizure of rockets armed with chemical warheads at the Muthanna complex ?


I am told that site was empty as of May, 2003. The question then is when and from where did those 2,500 rockets appear at Muthanna ?


You enjoy sci fi then?


Many things here. I have just completed EMT training through the agency and have a bouquet of additional skills usually not afforded to EMT-Bs, such as combitubes and IV sticks. We're going to need it considering the damn mess at the border. Don't listen to anyone telling you that the majority are "children" they're older teenagers claiming to be 17 and reciting the same speech. Its a mess.

Slaughtered the steer. The beef turned out amazing. I've got a pot of short ribs in the slow cooker right now for dinner. It worked out so good that I went and bought another steer last weekend. Going to try it out with an actual beef breed this time.

The monsoons have arrived, thankfully. And things have cooled down dramatically.


started reading it when I was about ten. Got anthologies from the LA County library. Heinlein, Azimov, Poul Anderson, etc. pl



IIRC the first piece of "Golden Age" sci fi I picked up was Dune. I was too young to understand all the analogies between spice and oil, but the spaceships and swords imagery grabbed a hold and I think, never let go.

I enjoy the Harry Harrison alternate history (Specifically the Hammer and the Cross), and I think you'd enjoy Glen Cook's "Passage at Arms". Das Boot in space sums it up nicely. The Polsteen Saga is alright, but goes downhill sharply after the first novel (Hymn Before Battle). I thought the concept behind Watch on the Rhine was interesting (if handled a bit ham handedly near the end): Former SS Panzer officers are rejuvenated into their 20s so they can help Germany fight aliens.

The state of SFF literature right now outside of Baen is pretty sad though. Tor is more interested in pushing novels that drip with identity politics, and wonders why their best selling novels are all forty or more years old.

nick b


I must not fear. Fear is the mind killer....

For more modern stuff, I'm rather fond of F. Paul Wilson, his 'Repairman Jack' series and the accompanying series around it. It's classified in the book stores under 'horror' but it feels more like sci-fi to me. Nothing terribly deep, but very enjoyable reading. I've read all his books now, even his works unrelated to 'Jack', and I'm jonzing for more.

The comments to this entry are closed.

My Photo

February 2020

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
Blog powered by Typepad