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28 January 2016


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Funny, thing: there is a huge fight on this very topic in US education establishment: how to teach math. For past 100 years, schools have been going back and forth on whether math should be taught based on formulas or if it should be taught on the underlying ideas. Neither side managed to implement their ideas for a long time (and, in most cases, precisely because there was no time or resources allocated to really train the teachers properly, everything wound up being done "by the formula" anyways, just different formulas.) The current iteration of this fight is being fought over so-called "Common Core."

At the crux of the fight was the very point you brought up: most students are not being trained to be mathematicians. They need only to do the basic calculations needed to get by, and just learning formulas is enough. (so the fight always becomes a fight over the formulas, not the principle behind the teaching philosophy) To be honest, I can't really dispute this.

The German general staff training, at least historically, evaded this problem by dividing the officer corps into two classes: the brightest were given general staff training, with all the attendant rigor; while the more mundane were given only practical training to be good officers. The system was inherently elitist and, often, blocked off careers for those not deemed "brightest" (even in cases when they were, in fact, very capable--Rommel was a major for 15 years or something, because he was not chosen for general staff training, although given the nature of the Reichswehr, the fact that he was retained at all probably says that he was deemed quite competent and intellectual nevertheless.) Even as the general education could be made formulaic (perhaps even more than it is currently), I don't see why a very high level of rigor and intellectual skepticism should not be demanded of the "brightest."

I tend to get frustrated by much of the criticism against "social sciences" because, in some sense, it is undeserved because it can and should be made better. Unfortunately, a lot of "social science" education as widely practiced is akin to the by-the-book, formulaic staff training where only the "right answers" are taught without ability to understand the limits of these answers and to think creatively at the margins. Unfortunately, these are also the people who are churned out by graduate schools and work in policymaking. I share Colonel Lang's frustration about lack of well-trained, intellectual military leaders, but mine is directed at social scientists who lack imagination and creativity and know nothing beyond the faith that their textbook theories must be right...because textbook.

Babak Makkinejad

I do not think it can hold together.

Babak Makkinejad

Right but in Iran they are not cuddling addicts, pushers, smugglers.

Nor the dope-heads in Iran claim that they are exercising their inalienable natural rights to personal liberty.

The Doctors of Religion are all on record condemning it as well.

Babak Makkinejad

How can you call a Plant the Enemy of the United States?

Surely, you must be joking.



"Merkel's Millions" is just a tag line for all the recent immigration into the EU of non-Westerners. If you want to think of that as me channeling my inner Tyler then feel free to do so. Remember however that my response is to dmr's comment which I think is inherently part of an "ideological stronghold", to use your term, which is both anti-German and lacks an understanding that a nation's military is an instrument of the State.

As to your other point, same Fred; but yes, my views have certainly changed since 2007. Just think of it as matriculating from my freshman year at SST University. Another decade or so and I might actually know something. I do miss the threads on Scotch and Bourbon though, even if my doctor and my liver don't.


Paul, I have no idea, if Rommel was a military genius. He sure was lionized by Nazi propaganda, that's why he was given the chance to kill himself, once the plot against Hitler unraveled. Putting the former hero before a screaming fanatic Nazi judge, would have produced at least some publicity. Not even Goebbel could have handled that. ...

I could imagine that a book published originally in German in 1981 addresses the issue. Thus: "which cuts pass a lot of bs about Rommel."

Nevertheless there must have been some victories before, otherwise the Nazis couldn't have put him on such a pedestal.

Swami Bhut Jolokia

PL, Are you kidding? India has its hands full with Kashmir and the Pakistani terrorists. Why would they want to get entangled in Afghanistan?


The J. H. Morgan book is available for free on archive org, the books on Amazon are reprints.

It's form 1915 and a little more then a translation it seems, you are set on the right pass, I guess, or are directed how you have to look at it. He even integrates a short essay on Treitschke, which is a German national-liberal historian, who triggered the the Antisemitim Debate in the late 19th century.

I suppose this is the author:

Archive Org link:


Yes, misogynist Bill shares with us his Opinion that women in the military serve no purpose other than to pleasure their 'superior' male counterparts.




Prof, Kao,

In the occident west, Knowledge is 'compartmentalized' into narrow 'theories' or 'fields' without the 'scholars' seeing the big picture holistically.

They fail to see past the trees for the forest whole.


Writing that paper must have been a lot of fun.


kao, I have highly mixed feelings about "elite" and/or "the best and brightest".

No matter which side of the social/political split uses it in sloganeering and/or as solution or something to fight.

alba etie

Jack & Fred
The drug addiction epidemic has many causes -for example the over prescription of dangerously addictive opiods that never should have been allowed on the open market by the FDA . And yes banksters make tens of billions of dollar laundering El Chapo 's illegal money . If we wanted to invest DOJ's resources then we could probably make many banksters indictable under RICO statutes,. But the one best way to combat the drug addiction epidemic in my opinion is to decriminalize in some fashion all of the controlled substances on the books with the one big caveat that we all acknowledge addiction is a disease just like diabetes - and all the money spent on drug law enforcement , incarceration , et all be spent on treatment strategies for defeating the disease of addiction .


So the basic best case is to let Afghanistan separate along natural partition lines with Pakistan supporting one partition and India, China and Iran supporting the other. US role would be to disengage and perhaps provide some funding and training over a couple of years.



Therein lies the dilemma, isn't it? You can't realistically teach advanced anything in depth, with all the nuances, caveats, and "errors," to everyone. Not everyone will get it, nor will they need it. But you do need someone who is trained to go beyond the textbook solutions when necessary, which may be rare, but are necessary somewhere pretty much all the time. While the terms "elite" or "best and the brightest" do carry some questionable implications (which is probably why the US education establishment in particular, including, apparently, the military, seems to prefer formulaic solutions to everything.) I think this is also the reason behind a lot of problems everywhere: trying to force square pegs into round holes for no other reason than that is what they learned, and unfortunately, being physically strong enough to break both the hole and the peg in process.

Lord Curzon


My understanding was, for all his prowess, Rommel exasperated OKW to the point of real antipathy for the way he carried on.


OKW??? By now it's apparent, I am tired of acronyms?


By the way, not too long ago I read a book about one of the real evil Germans, the one that was technically in charge of the gas trucks, as it is often called as desktop operator/Schreibtischtäter.

To leave out other interesting items, not least around his later South American shelter, the former one in the region remembered him as pleasant citizen on his way to Chile ... OK maybe I shouldn't leave out that several intelligence agencies were interested in him on his way there and his expertise.

But nevertheless, and no I haven't really checked below the larger diplomatic interests of my source ...

At one point he was sent to North Africa to take care of the Jews there, but apparently, at least that's what I was told by the former diplomat with access to the case files, and other documents, sorry I read the book a while back, Rommel had no patience for him or his mission.

Now you tell me, is he trying to uphold the Rommel myth, or telling me something I should mentally tag?

noticed you around here, Lord is pretty impressive, no doubt.



Oberkommando der Wehrmacht (OKW) was Hitler's command headquarters for the German armed forces as a whole. this was something like the US Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS). OKW was perpetually annoyed with Rommel in N. Africa because of his unwillingness to follow their instructions when they did not make sense to him. He was lionized by the German public as a romantic figure out in the North African desert and that is why Hitler made a fuss over him. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oberkommando_der_Wehrmacht BTW we will continue to use acronyms. pl

Bill Herschel

If you wipe out the world's poppy crops, you will save the lives of thousands of American young people. That is not a joke.

Now, if you say that the enemy is the people who are growing the poppies, that kind of makes sense, but if they are eliminated, others will take their place. If the crop and that acreage the crop occupies (an easy target) are eliminated, then it really doesn't matter who grows it, does it?

The message is, "Don't grow poppies. If you do, the United States will destroy your crop." Pretty simple.

If you prefer to kill people, that is okay, but I don't think it will help much. It sure as hell has a crappy track record.

Heroin is not a medically utilized opioid. It is not even particularly useful medically. Medical opioids are also abused. But the opiate that is killing young people today is heroin, and it can be eliminated. I suppose that if the poppies were being grown on the grounds of the palace of the King of Saudi Arabia, there would be an issue of sovereignty, but in general the U.S. doesn't pay much attention to sovereignty. So, in the words of Sammy the Bull Gravano, where's the problem?

Bill Herschel

Afghanistan does not supply the alkaloid to the pharmaceutical industry. Presumptively, we would not bomb the nations that do supply it:

"Global production of poppy straw containing morphine as the main alkaloid has fluctuated between 30,000 and 52,000 tons per annum. The main producers of the straw are Australia, France, Spain, and Turkey."


"Therein lies the dilemma, isn't it?"

"the crux of the biscuit" To put it in terms in my own a way off topic association. Pushing you onto no doubt an un-academic layers:

In any case the "stinkfoots" are everywhere, never mind the social layers.


I by the way, love the son's interpretation:

Although, he is not as far as I can tell, the same caliber of musician ...

Babak Makkinejad

NO, the enemy is not the poppy growers half across the world.

The "Enemy" resides inside all those people in North America and Europe who crave opiates and hallucinogens and do not give a fig about others - including how their drug appetites is destroying other countries.

More than 3000 Iranian policemen have been killed over the last 30 years in trying to interdict opium and heroin flow out of Afghanistan.

How many DEA agents have died in the line of duty in the United States over the same period of time.

Some governments have skin in this game.

Some none at all.

Babak Makkinejad

The text in the post of the URL above states:

"...what am i to you, but an idea within your mind...."

This text could not have been written by a man, a male, who experiences desire and lust and most assuredly knows that a woman is more than an idea in his mind; and largely is not interested in what is in the mind but that which is outside of it.

You gotto get out more often girl, and see the world.


James Corum's Roots of Blitzkrieg is very good, nuanced, modern view of the German military before and during World War II. A lot of work by contemporary German officers have a bit of self-forgiving bias, at least from the perspective of this civilian (me). A lot of modern books, on the other hand, are too revisionist. Corum's book is a very good balance, I think.

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