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14 September 2016


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The Italian City States of the early Renaissance viewed the military exactly that way, as a service the rich could pay for as required and to the extent they could afford. And it worked for those for whom it worked for about a hundred years until until Charles VIII, who's older sister had created the first modern, integrated state out of detritus of the Holy Roman Empire in the Mad War, strolled through and conquered most of them in a year or so.

Lucky for them, he knocked his head on a door jamb and died. But by then the mercenary armies had all got the picture of where true power lies when the social structure breaks down. Within 50 years the Italian principalities had all reformed as territorial states with more or less standing, domestic, patriotic armies.

The ultimate problem with the market utopia of force is that at the end of the day, any commercial entity will fire its staff/soldiers to keep its money, the reason its in commerce in the first place. Once some "war lord" with a brain takes over, he realizes patriotic loyalty is an easy sell if you treat your poor decently and behold, state power is decoupled from the whims of the rich: it could happen here!

Vote Dollary Clump!

Babak Makkinejad

"The Closed Circle" - a polemic - and "The Chatham House Version: And Other Middle Eastern Studies" are worth reading to get a different perspective.

Keith Harbaugh

Cybersecurity, or rather the lack thereof,
has been much in the news in 2015.
The OPM data breach is a mammoth blow to U.S. security,
with ripple effects such as "China and Russia are using hacked data to target U.S. spies".
And of course there have been many other worrisome hacks of governments at all levels and corporations.

My question is:
Would it not be a good idea to establish a high-level commission
to address the issue of what can be done to make U.S. computers and networks more secure?
Is anyone really looking at the big picture, from the long range point of view,
looking at "blue sky" possible solutions to the problem,
conducting tradeoffs which individual groups might not be able to make?
For example, and perhaps most critically,
have we made the correct tradeoff between ease of use and security?
Could we make our systems more secure by making them a little (or maybe a lot) harder to use?

Should there be national commission,
and perhaps a national agency (a National Cybersecurity Agency),
working this problem?
(I think, surprise!, the answer is indubitably "yes".)

Chris Chuba

I know that I am operating on wonderful 20/20 hindsight but I think the get Gaddafi operation was wrong for transactional reasons.

The guy made a deal with us, he got rid of his nuclear infrastructure, was decommissioning his other WMD, I read that he was helping us with Al Qaeda but I'm not sure about that, and he was also blocking the human trafficking. So to turn around and take him out because he was undesirable just makes it harder to make deals with these medium / small powers like N. Korea in the future. For future Libya sized problems, we threw the Carrot out the window and now the only tool we have left is the stick.

The way Hillary maneuvered things was even bad, she instrumented false claims about the Civil war to justify R2P which can pretty much gin up a justification under a lot of circumstances. Again, I'm not just trying to pick it apart because of the outcome, it's more about the precedent it sets in future situations. For example, China or Russia might be the only countries that have even the slightest chance to deal with N. Korea short of a military conflict. We might actually get in the way. Just my opinion of course.


Chris Chuba

"he got rid of his nuclear infrastructure, was decommissioning his other WMD" He had no nuclear infrastructure. He had no functioning "other WMD." The Libyans had a couple of warehouses full of pieces of equipment that they had bought that would have been useful in a nuclear program but had never uncrated because they had no idea what to do with it. They had built a couple of chemical weapons plants out in the desert many years before but after a couple of trial runs by foreign workers the Libyans realized they had no use for many green plastic barrels full of sarin and the like and stopped producing the agents. US intelligence and the propaganda machine converted these into real assets in the public mind. Libya long wanted to be let in the house and out of the dog house but they were a convenient bogeyman. After the invasion of Iraq in 2003 the Bush Administration was looking for a friend in the Arab World and Libya was offered the chance of redemption in return for "surrender" of its non-existent nuclear and chemical programs. They jumped at the chance. Help against AQ. I don't know but I doubt it was worth much. They generally couldn't find their asses with both hands. pl


"Persian axis" not even exist in Iran ,never heard of that not even an Iranian axis I heard. There is an axis leading by Iran which they call it "resistance axis" which supposedly is formed to resist western hegemony and hubris in ME, you perhaps mean that.
On the other point you raised, as far as I can tell many Iranian educated mostly westernized including some lefty and communist did predict the fall of the shah, but since they were self westernized or western educated they were detached ( kept themselves detached) from the lower social levels and couldn't think that instead of them the majority will go for an Islamic format. As the result, this group for a while up to Iraq war thought the Islamic Revolution was a US conspiracy and continuation of the American green belt theory around USSR. When the American backed Saddam I. The war is when they realized their intellectual disconnect with real Iran and left for west.

Robert Fortune

Any thoughts on the Colin Powell email hack? I would love to see the entire chain of emails between him and Condoleeza Rice regarding Iraq, Rumsfeld, Brenner, etc. Its a helluva way to add to the historical record.


IMO, the problem with he (Ghaddafi) like Saddam was, they both showed, that both were unpredictable, inconsistent, not reliable. Unpredictable operative rulers are worst then the enemy.


Trump did not mention anything about "... ram you or fire on you or attempt to board .." from what I read. Only that the Iran patrol boats were harassing by coming close and making "gestures". If there has been more to it than that, I haven't noted. As such, this bellicose utterance seems typical of other "red meat" statements he throws out to his crowd to chew on.

On the other hand, Rusiian jets have reportedly been "buzzing" close calls with US planes and ships for some time now. Granted, probably difficult to tell at those speeds if any "gestures". Trump totally silent on that.


To fully appreciate the trilogy (both in terms of historical development of plot & characters as well as the author's scholarship), all of the above are excellent. I do think that the first book in particular can be read as a standalone & perhaps the others as well.

In fact, perhaps you should read the trilogy first. So many aspects of the war are covered that, at the end, you'll be able to pick and choose from a wealth of topics that may be of interest to you...diplomacy, the role of the navies, tactics, geography, medicine, spies and security/intelligence, financing of war & respective resources of men and materiel, bios of generals & politicians, etc. But don't forget to read the authors mentioned above at some point.


At present Israel has an arrangement with the NSA where it is presented with "unminimized" [raw] data, which not even the other Five Eyes get. The 4th Amendment (private mail, home, effects) is now a bad joke. As is the 8th (Gitmo). Snowden showed the NSA spies on EVERYBODY, and the sheep didn't even blink. Feinstein currently differentiates between hoovered data that's looked at by people, vs. by computers; however, computers (Watson) are already arguably sentient, and this explodes exponentially in two years. With the advent of always-on microphones (Alexa, Google Home), we are well on our way to 1984.

Apple is certainly looking at reinstating the 4th by restoring harder-to-break security. This got amazing pushback from the FBI. Existing solutions such as Tor are being hacked (by our government) and effectively criminalized.

So thus, in the end, we get the security that we deserve.

Note that Hillary explicitly circumvented her own secure systems because she did not want to leave a paper trail subject to FOI.

Since a fascist theocracy that differentiates between chosen ubermensch and sub-humans is successfully spending $75M a year to control 98% of Congress, I disbelieve any state-imposed solution will prove beneficial.

Also note Julius Genachowski, chairman of FCC, was selected half on the basis of a $3.5M pay-to-play donation. Sad, but that's the reality one has to deal with.

The private cybersecurity companies are already extremely well aware of the problem, and well-motivated with billions in competitive profits. Government could start getting out of the way by restoring the 4th Amendment, stopping spying on everyone, and ceasing to send raw data abroad.



Ah, another HC troll. You want to twist my words? You won't be here long. I have a lot of you making runs at SST like the Iranian patrol boats. BTW to make a threatening run on a naval vessel is a threatening gesture. I don't know if he realizes that. someone wrote the the remark for him, something like "basket of deplorables" Come on back at me. I am looking to ban you. pl

Chris Chuba

Okay, so what has Hillary said about the Iranian speed boats and Russian Jet buzzing that is so profound?

Trump is expressing a willingness to fire on said assets and yes, he has mentioned Russian Jets with the caveat 'after we talk with the Russians and if they don't respond we'd have to shoot them down'. I am taking this as shorthand for 'I need to get more details on the matter to see what needs to be done and one way or another this will stop'. I would not rule out an agreement that we'd possibly back off where we do our patrols or that we keep our transponders on. I've read that us turning off the transponders really annoys the Russians. I am obviously not a military guy but if I was him, the first thing I would ask our military is the military value of these flights, do we have to take this route and keep our transponders off?

Regarding the Iranians, the news report on the Iranian threat to our spy planes contained two very interesting tells. Our officer said, 'we were just outside their airspace at 13 nautical miles and we like to test the Iranian response'. If I was Iran that would tick me off too but if they actually fired on our planes, of course that is an act of war. However, this looks unnecessarily provocative to me.

Most stories on Iranian harassment just say 'international waters or airspace' but leave out details of how close we are to their territory or the location of the contact. That particular detail is relevant in judging their behavior. If the IRGC was noodling around Key West or New Orleans in 'international waters', they would likely get some playtime from us.


"Everyone on the ground knows they are jihadis“
"Nobody believes in it. You’re like, ‘Fxck this,’” a former Green Beret says of America’s covert and clandestine programs to train and arm Syrian militias. “Everyone on the ground knows they are jihadis. No one on the ground believes in this mission or this effort, and they know they are just training the next generation of jihadis, so they are sabotaging it by saying, ‘Fxck it, who cares?’”



Col. Lang, regarding your "the proper study of Mankind is Man" comment, I ruminated a lot about it and tried several approaches to reply it in a meaningful sense, but, in few, ultimately I consider my math gift the most significant thing in my life (positivist 3rd world, you certainly know how much it helped to be STEM able here) and concluded that, to me, the answer to the "Know then thyself" challenge would be to identify something I would trade that gift for (in hypothetical terms, since my math gift is already hybernating for good.) In the end, my choice would still lead me far away from the humanities.

It seems to me that I do understand people, but the real challenge would be to be able to make people do what one wants. Since you are on genius level on that and related abilities, perhaps you underestimate the abyss there could be between an artist in the abstract realm (even a lower one as me) and an artist in the Intelligence field.

Apart from a few wondrously gifted people I guess most genuine STEM artists would turn out bureaucratic Intel people, at least where influencing other people eye to eye is concerned.

I think you set the bar too high in that one. All humanities lore in the world wouldn't make me "understand people" in the level you do. I'd rather live a true gift fulfilled by half, than cram my way into something I would always be mediocre in. This I did. I am, after all, Deplorable.


'Rebel Yell' by Gwynne and Grant's memoirs.


Imagine if it was Russian spy planes showing up off the coast of the US? Dont you think they would be justified in doing a close fly by to deter it


Snopes shoots it down.



The problem is that when people whose heads are empty of the Humanities try to do things that require such knowledge they generally screw them up. Example, the generals who invaded and occupied Iraq had no comprehension whatever of that with which they were dealing. They tried for a year or so to deal with Iraqi resistance as being in fact a rear area security problem in conventional warfare and got angry if you told them it was not that. pl


Hard to top Shelby.....


That was really interesting. I have no way of judging the credibility of the short piece because I have no military background, but it sounded plausible to my nonexpert eyes.


A good day for the sovereign state of Syria and patriotic Syrians - a dignified speech by Assad: http://thesaker.is/syrias-assad-sends-a-message-to-western-officials-from-recaptured-city-english-subs/


Yup, it is great to know that the American tax dollar is providing air support for Al Quaida in Syria.

The hutzpah of Obama today saying the Palestinians deserve their own state after just handing the Isralis $40B to slaughter the Palestinians is just unbearable.



Is the City of Alexandria discussing "Virginia Mourning Her Dead" when they say the "Appomattox" statue in this report?



They seem to have given up on everything but re-naming Jeff Davis Highway. pl

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