Weekend reading recommendations

A few interesting articles you might have missed during the week.

  1. Growing Evidence US Won’t Honor Iraq Pact“, at Antiwar.com, 14 December 2008 — “Gen. Odierno Says US Troops Will Remain in Cities Despite SOFA Timeline”
  2. The Fed Who Blew the Whistle” {on illegal wiretapping}, Newsweek, 22 December 2008 — “Is he a hero or a criminal?”
  3. One plus one equals 20 extra votes for Franken“, Ann Coulter, 17 December 2008 — Voter fraud is an increasing problem in America.  Fortunately we’re sheep, and so don’t mind.
  4. Obama’s War“, Patrick J. Buchanan, 19 December 2008
  5. Analysis has begun of 2008’s global temperature records.

Excerpts from 4 and 5

4.  Obama’s War“, Patrick J. Buchanan, 19 December 2008 — Excerpt:

Just two months after the twin towers fell, the armies of the Northern Alliance marched into Kabul. The Taliban fled.

The triumph was total in the “splendid little war” that had cost one U.S. casualty. Or so it seemed. Yet, last month, the war against the Taliban entered its eighth year, the second longest war in our history, and America and NATO have never been nearer to strategic defeat.

So critical is the situation that Defense Secretary Robert Gates, in Kandahar last week, promised rapid deployment, before any Taliban spring offensive, of two and perhaps three combat brigades of the 20,000 troops requested by Gen. David McKiernan. The first 4,000, from the 10th Mountain, are expected in January.

With 34,000 U.S. soldiers already in country, half under NATO command, the 20,000 will increase U.S. forces there to 54,000, a 60 percent ratcheting up. Shades of LBJ, 1964-65. Afghanistan is going to be Obama’s War. And upon its outcome will hang the fate of his presidency. Has he thought this through?

How do we win this war, if by winning we mean establishing a pro-Western democratic government in control of the country that has the support of the people and loyalty of an Afghan army strong enough to defend the nation from a resurgent Taliban?  We are further from that goal going into 2009 than we were five years ago. What are the long-term prospects for any such success?

… Why is America getting seamless continuity when it voted for significant change?

5.  Analysis has begun of 2008’s global temperature records.

Not much evidence of global warming in the 30 year temperature records, even after heavy adjustments.  Let the battle commence to spin climate change from the numbers.  (no excerpts given for these posts)

2008 temperature summaries and spin“, Gavin Schmidt, at RealClimate, 16 December 2008 — “The great thing about complex data is that one can basically come up with any number of headlines describing it – all of which can be literally true – but that give very different impressions. Thus we are sure that you will soon read that 2008 was warmer than any year in the 20th Century (with the exception of 1998), that is was the coolest year this century (starting from 2001), and that 7 or 8 of the 9 warmest years have occurred since 2000.”

Gavin Spins with Spaghetti Diagrams!“, Lucia, at The Blackboard, 17 December 2008 — “{Schmidt’s post} was, indeed an “interesting” spaghetti diagram. The tendentious twaddle surrounding it was even more interesting.”

*2008 Tropical Temperatures“, Steve McIntyre, at Climate Audit, 18 December 2008 — “We now have a 30-year period of satellite records. Within that period, 2008 ranked 26th out of 30 (5th coldest), 23rd for RSS, 16th for CRU and 15th for NOAA and GISS.”

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4 thoughts on “Weekend reading recommendations

  1. Buchanan has been one of the best writers against the Iraq war from the beginning, and he advances the same arguments here.

    Somehow, I don’t believe the new administration is dumb enough to think they can “win” in Afghanistan, but they think they can stymy the Taliban somehow. Maybe they envision some such an outcome as is evolving in Iraq, where one portion of the country (the Kurdish north, in the case of Iraq) effectively secedes from the rest, and the remaining parts lock in some kind of standoff. Maybe they’re hoping Pakistan will come apart, and the Taliban will be content to establish their theocratic state there. After all, just as there is no real material interest for us in Afghanistan (as Buchanan points out), aside from some pipeline project which have been shelved by now, there is none for the Taliban, except prestige.

    A cynical view, which is not wholly implausible, is that our Middle East/S. Asia policy is not literally to win anywhere, but merely to keep the pot boiling, states failing, our military needed everywhere, and our domestic population distracted or frightened by the on-going War on Terror.

  2. Each year, the supply of opium out of Afghanistan, from which most of the world’s heroin comes, sets a new record. Payoffs by narcotics traffickers are corrupting the government. The fanatically devout Taliban had eradicated the drug trade, but is now abetting the drug lords in return for money for weapons to kill the Americans.

    And if only opiates were legal, none of this would be a problem.

    At least we get the jolly good feeling of saying we oppose the stuff. Which apparently makes everything Buchanan describes worth it.

  3. Regulated legalization of drugs will be needed to ‘win’ in Afghanistan. The terrorists will, until then, be making inroads into the drug trade and even distribution.

    I don’t see that under Obama, so I see further and longer work in Afghanistan. It’s unlikely to be much better by 2010, while Iraq will be probably looking OK; it will be interesting to see the difference between ‘successful Bush in Iraq’ and ‘Obama in Afghanistan’.

  4. “Obama’s War”?
    Yes and no. Buchanan is being too cute on this one. In sibling squabbles, history and Shakespeare, the popular perception is always “who started it?” It’s seldom called “Nixon’s war” or “KIssinger’s war”, but Kennedy’s or Johnson’s. Brutus or Othello are not the villains of the piece, but Cassius and Iago.

    The truth is, it’s neither Bush’s war, nor Obama’s, but the American empire’s.

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