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FM newswire for June 17, interesting articles about geopolitics

17 June 2010

It’s a big day for news and analysis.  If you find this useful, please pass it to a friend or colleague.

  1. What happens to a political movement when the big lie becomes daily fare?  We’ll see; they’re doing fine so far with lies like this:  “Health Care Law and W-2 Forms“, Fact Check, 26 May 2010
  2. Today’s antidote to faux economics:  “Magical Foreigners, Austerity Edition“, Paul Krugman, blog of the New York Times, 1 June 2010 — Follow the link he gives to a paper describing these dynamics in detail.
  3. A fine example of liberal problem-solving:  close our eyes and pretend.  “The Myth of Black-on-Black Violence“, Natalie Hopkinson, The Root, 16 June 2010 — “As we head into another long, hot summer, the media — and black folks — need to retire this loaded term.”
  4. Bad news:  “The Dangers and Difficulties of ‘Bottom Kill’“, Der Spiegel, 16 June 2010 — “BP has only one arrow left in its quiver, a method known as ‘bottom kill.’ The idea is for relief wells to stop the gushing oil from below, but the technical challenges are formidable. Past experiences show that the oil may continue flowing into late autumn.”
  5. Justice: “Challenges to Foreclosure Docs Reach a Fever Pitch“, American Banker, 16 June 2010
  6. Congratulations are in order to the Obama Justice Department“, Scott Horton, blog of Harper’s, 16 June 2010 — “It seems on the verge of establishing the legal proposition that officers of the American executive are free to torture and commit other heinous crimes with complete impunity.”  Conservatives who’ve accused him of being a radical leftist will write notes of apology.  Canadians, whose government has acknowledged its errors and apologized, will pity us.
  7. Another step towards the next global financial regime:  “South Korea Imposes Currency Controls for Financial Stability“, RGE Monitor, 16 June 2010 — Controls on capital flows will play a central role. As they did before they were abolished during the 1970’s, and do in China today.
  8. Multiculturalism trumps feminism in our news media:  “‘Soft’ Censorship: Honor Killings That You Won’t Read About“, Phyllis Chesler, PJ Media, 16 June 2010 — Also see this note by Mark Steyn at NRO.
  9. Possible bad news for the Gulf of Mexico:  “Doubts over safety tests on Gulf oil dispersants“, New Scientist, 16 June 2010
  10. Baby steps back to common sense:  “Realism in Afghanistan: Rethinking an Uncertain Case for the War“, Anthony H. Cordesman, Center for Strategic and International Studies, 16 June 2010 — He doesn’t admit his premises are wrong, but starts a paper trial to whitewash defeat (after years of cheerleading).
  11. More dancing, careful to avoid the central lie — we’re in Afghanistan to defeat al Qaeda and prevent another 9-11 nonsense — “Afghanistan: Graveyard of Assumptions?“, Andrew Exum (aka Abu Muqawama), Center for a New American Security, 16 June 2010 — Good analysis of ephemera.
  12. Wonderfuel: Welcome to the age of unconventional gas“, New Scientist, 17 June 2010
  13. The most important to watch (hard data, reported weekly):  New claims for unemployment insurance, flat at high levels since mid-December.   Bad news for the Democratic Party in November.
  14. Think-tanks new and larger role in the military-industrial complex:  “The Surge of Ideas“, Michael Flynn, AntiWar, 17 June 2010
  15. Discussion one of America’s greatest strategic weaknesses:  “End Them, Don’t Mend Them“, P. J. O’Rourke, Weekly Standard, 21 June 2010 — “It’s time to shutter America’s bloated schools.”

Today’s feature articles appear below the fold

(16)  Helmand: anatomy of a disaster“, Stephen Grey, Foreign Policy, 1 June 2010 — Excerpts:

He describes the many changes of strategy, then says “Whatever the mistakes made in the early days, success depends on the speed and wisdom with which you assess and then adapt.”   His motto is try, try, try again. Or is this insanity, as defined by AA.

“For all that, as a counterinsurgency campaign, the war in Afghanistan is yet young.”  Nine years is not young for foreign armies fighting insurgencies.  Conflating foreign armies fighting insurgencies with domestic conflicts is a common error.  They have different dynamics.  Most importantly, foreign forces almost always lose — governments fighting alone usually win.

(17)  A website I recommend for your bookmarks:  FactCheck, with articles like these:

  • More Malarkey About Health Care“, 19 April 2010 — “The legislative debate is over, but the false and exaggerated claims just keep on coming.”
  • Arizona’s ‘Papers Please’ Law“, 3 June 2010 — “It’s not just a mirror image of federal law, and allows some profiling. But, in theory, no more than what the courts permit already.”

(18)  Three interesting articles from the May/June issue of Miliary Review:

  • To be secure we must attack anyone who might threat us, becoming a rogue hegemon until we’re broken or destroyed:  “Can a Nuclear-Armed Iran Be Deterred?“, Amitai Etzioni — “A military option targeted to suppress Iran’s nuclear ambitions may be the best answer in the long run.” 
  • At What Cost, Intelligence? A Case Study of the Consequences of Ethical (and Unethical) Leadership“, Douglas A. Pryer (Major, U.S. Army) — “The ‘intelligence at any cost’ mindset led some in our Army in Iraq to systemically violate the laws of war. We must prevent its reoccurrence.”
  • Review Essay- Black Hearts: A Study in Leadership“, Paul Christopher (Lieutenant Colonel, U.S. Army, Retired) — “At the vortex of Jim Frederick’s Black Hearts: One Platoon’s Decent into Madness in Iraq’s Triangle of Death (2009) is a gripping account of a single incident involving some of the most despicable actions by U.S. Soldiers since the My Lai Massacre in Vietnam.”

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