Posts Tagged ‘GWOT’

Yet another “scientific” whore caught in the act

February 4, 2009

So much for the bullshit about “hundreds of thousands of excess Iraqi casualties”:

In a highly unusual rebuke, the American Association for Public Opinion Research today said the author of a widely debated survey on “excess deaths” in Iraq had violated its code of professional ethics by refusing to disclose details of his work. The author’s institution later disclosed to ABC News that it, too, is investigating the study

AAPOR, in a statement, said that in an eight-month investigation, Gilbert Burnham, a faculty member at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, “repeatedly refused to make public essential facts about his research on civilian deaths in Iraq.”

Hours later, the school itself disclosed its own investigation of the Iraq casualties report “to determine if any violation of the school’s rules or guidelines for the conduct of research occurred.” It said the review “is nearing completion.”

Both AAPOR and the school said they had focused on Burnham’s study, published in the October 2006 issue of the British medical journal the Lancet, reporting an estimated 654,965 “excess deaths” in Iraq as a result of the U.S.-led invasion in 2003. An earlier, 2004 report, in which Burnham also participated, estimated approximately 98,000 excess deaths to that point.

Sounds like another Michael Bellesiles

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The most damning commentary I’ve seen about Obama

August 23, 2008

Wow, Michael Barone has just eviscerated Senator Barack Obama.  He talks about Chicago politics, and about how in order to “get into” Chicago politics you have to know somebody.  To put it in the Chicago vernacular, to “be somebody” you have to be “somebody somebody sent”.

How did this outsider from Hawaii and Columbia and Harvard become somebody somebody sent? His wife, Michelle Robinson Obama, had some connections: Her father was (I believe) a Democratic precinct committeeman, she baby-sat for Jesse Jackson’s children, and she worked as a staffer for the current Mayor Daley. Obama made connections on the all-black South Side by joining the Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s church. But was Obama’s critical connection to le tout Chicago William Ayers? That’s the conclusion you are led to by Steve Diamond’s blog.

William Ayers, the unrepentant terrorist who was quoted in the new York Times on September 11, 2001

I don’t regret setting bombs. I feel we didn’t do enough.

It would be one thing to suck up to a guy who used to be a terrorist, and now rejected that behavior and repented of it.  It’s quite another to pal around with someone who believes that terrorism is acceptable behavior.

Would you associate with a former gang thug, someone who beat up people, torched houses and businesses, but who now recognized that what he did was wrong?  Who regretted what he’d done, and tried to make up for it?

I would be willing to associate with such a person, and would not reject out of hand someone else who associated with such a person.

Would you associate with a “former” gang thug, who was no longer big, strong, and tough enough to beat up other people, but who fondly looked back on memories of his criminal behavior, gloried in his crimes, and had no regrets?

If you had two candidates running for DA, Sheriff, or Chief of Police, and one of them used that “former” gang thug as a fund-raiser, and valued supporter, while the other avoided all such people, would you vote for the one who hangs out with the thug?

So, will you vote for President a man who counts an unrepentant terrorist among his most important supporters?  Shall the Global War on Terror be led by a man who clearly doesn’t think that terrorism is all that wrong?  (Because if Barack Obama thought terrorism was wrong, he never would have associated with William Ayers.

If you don’t believe in a “war” on terror, if you believe it’s simply a “law enforcement problem”, will you vote to elect as the chief law enforcement officer of the United States of America, a man who associates with known, unrepentant, terrorists?  A man who’s only able to run for the office in the first place because of support of a known terrorist?

Jerry Pournelle is wrong

August 12, 2008

Jerry Pournelle, a man whose opinions I often respect, wrote the following on Sunday:

A New and Needless Cold War

We are clearly playing with fire. We have overseas adventures, entangling alliances, and total involvement in the territorial disputes of Europe. We sided with the Albanians against Russia’s Serbian allies. We are shouting at Russia about the war in Georgia.

Thank God that Georgia is not a member of NATO. Nonetheless we are in a new cold war.

Yet the United States has more common interests with the Soviet Union than we have with most of NATO. We have expanded NATO to ring Russia with bases and allies — to what purpose? This is no policy for a Republic; it’s not even a policy for a competent empire. If we are going to play balance of power games, the new Russian empire is definitely a major part of that game. Working at restarting the Cold War is not in our interest in any way, and there is no outcome to this that is favorable to us.

Has everyone at State and in the Pentagon lost their minds?

No, they haven’t.  But on this subject, Dr. Pournelle, I believe you have.

  1. Russia is a corrupt dictatorship.  Given a choice between a Communist / other totalitarian dictatorship, and a non-totalitarian dictatorship, I’ll take the non-totalitarian one.  But dictatorships are our enemies.  Because dictatorships, especially corrupt ones, give their people lower standards of living, and fewer opportunities to succeed.  I’ve discussed this before: less freedom strongly correlates with more support for terrorism.
  2. Russia is our enemy.  Who is supporting Iran in their attempts to get away with nuclear proliferation?  Russia.  Who is supporting other State sponsors of terrorism in their disputes with the US?  Russia.  Why are they doing it?  “National Pride”?  Desire to show they’re “relevant”?  I don’t know, and I don’t care.  They have chosen to put themselves on the side of evil, they have decided to support terrorists.  They are our enemies.
  3. Georgia has supported us in Iraq (to the tune that we transported 2,000 of their troops from Iraq back to Georgia to help them fight against the Russian invaders).  Worthwhile countries are worthwhile allies.  If we wish to be (justifiably) considered a worthwhile country, then it’s time for us to be a worthwhile ally.
  4. It is not in our best interests for Russia to be able to threaten those countries around it.  Economic competitors make us better (consider the quality of US built cars today, compared to the quality of cars built in the US in the 1970s).  Military competitors do not.  The more Russia is able to throw its weight around militarily, the more dangerous the world gets.  To the extent that we can humiliate the Russians, and the Chinese, every time they try to be military bullies, we should.  Because that makes the world a better place for all decent people, including us.

The goal is not to “play balance of power”, the goal is to be number 1, in a world where no one competes with us militarily.

It’s like the choice between MAD, and “Assured Survival”.  Dr. Pournelle once understood that Assured Survival (for us) was better.  Why he thinks having a Russian Empire that can threaten us is a good thing, I don’t know.  Because it’s not.  A Russian “Empire” that cannot expand militarily, that is surrounded by an SDI system that means they can’t threaten to nuke anybody, is the only kind of “Russian Empire” that isn’t a threat to us.

Now, if Putin had spent his years in power stopping the Serbs from using their military might to massacre Bosnians, encouraging Russian minorities in formerly conquered and now freed countries to be good citizens of the countries they were part of, and working the the US to shut down Saddam, and keep the North Koreans, Iranians, Libyans, etc. from getting nuclear weapons, IOW, if Russia had acted like a civilized country that wanted the world to be a better place, rather than acting like murderous thugs, my opinion of them would be different.

But if the Russian government wasn’t a group of murderous thugs, the situation in Georgia wouldn’t have arisen in the first place.

Screw Russia.  Until they stop choosing to be thugs, we should choose to diminish them in any and every way we can.  If that means another Cold War, so be it.  If they want respect, they’re going to have to stop being thugs.  Because if they only way they can be “important” is to be thugs, they are undeserving of respect.

Why the Terrorists are an Existential Threat

August 1, 2008

Orin Kerr has an interesting post over at Volokh.  He says:

But before posting some substantive response to the book, I wanted to flag a dynamic that I think is driving both the book and the blog responses to it: Assessments of the terrorist threat.

My sense is that each person’s assessment of the terrorist threat heavily influences where they come out on what measures the government should take in the war on terror. At bottom, everyone in this debate is a pragmatist. Everyone balances the values of advancing public safety by taking aggressive measures against the value of advancing civil liberties by rejecting those measures.

The big difference comes in assessing the terrorist threat. Those who favor the most aggressive measures such as torture, detention without review, and lots of surveillance tend to see the terrorist threat as very grave in the short to medium time horizon. They consider terrorism an existential threat to the country, and they conclude that any step that might avoid a successful terrorist attack is a worthwhile step to take.

At the opposite end, the civil libertarian critics of the Bush Administration tend to see the threat as relatively modest in the short to medium time horizon. Al Qaeda can be dangerous, sure, but they’re no more dangerous than lots of other threats the country faces. Al Qaeda is just a few dozen people, and they can’t threaten the county in any real way. And even though they want weapons of mass destruction, the chances that they would succeed in a way that causes many thousands or millions of U.S. casualties is actually relatively remote. To believe otherwise is to fall for the Administration’s fear-mongering.

The different assessment of the threat explains why the two sides of the debate often talk past each other. To those who see the threat as grave, it is inconceivable that some would insist on playing by Marquis of Queensbury rules and be more focused on world opinion than the threat to American lives. To those who see the threat as modest, on the other hand, it is inconceivable that some would ignore the rule of law and recklessly injure our standing in the world. Each side tries to optimize social welfare based on its assessment of the threat, and each side thinks the other is shockingly uninterested in that goal.

While he is right in that, I think he has missed a major point.  And that is that while a “military” approach to fighting terrorism can end the terrorist threat, a “police” approach can’t.

If you are one who loves government, if you are one who wants a powerful government, then the “police” approach is ideal: it slowly corrupts the US (as each attack, or attempted attack, leads to more restrictions being imposed on the American people), giving us threats that only the government can fully deal with, without ever doing anything to really make those threats go away (that’s what happens when you punish people for doing things, rather than killing them before they can attack the US).

Look at the things that get the Left upset.  Do they scream about innocent American citizens being forced to take off their shoes in the airport, or the restrictions on carrying liquids?  No.  Do they get horribly bent out of shape at the government for spying on known terrorists, and those (almost certainly not innocent) Americans they contact?  Yes.  In other words: making Americans more subservient: good.  Effectively fighting terrorists: bad.

The terrorists are an existential threat not because of what they can do to us, but because of what their actions can lead us to do to ourselves.  The longer they remain free to attack us, the more harm they do us.  If you value the freedom of Americans, then you want the war on terror to end as quickly as possible.  Ad there are only two ways it will end: We win, and destroy the terrorists and all of their State sponsors.  We lose, and change ourselves to such a horrible extent that the terrorists no longer feel the need to attack us, because we no longer “threaten” them.  (Attention Lefties: Hollywood, with its movies pushing non-Islamic ideas, is one of the major threats they see in us.  I promise you, you will hate any America the terrorists find unwothy of attacking.)

One moral ignoramus wrote this in the comments:

Assessment of the seriousness of the threat is only half of the equation. There is also the assessment of the importance of the rights on the other half of the tradeoff.

I think that many of us civil-libertarian types would rather see ourselves and a few thousand of our closest friends killed by terrorists than to see the country pursue the course of arbitrary perpetual detention, internal movement controls, wholesale surveillance, and so forth.

What’s wrong with what he said?  Well, for one thing, what he’s “fighting against” isn’t “arbitrary perpetual detention, internal movement controls, wholesale surveillance”.  If you’re caught on the field of battle, your detainment isn’t “arbitrary”, and it takes a moral moron to claim that it is.  “Internal movement controls” like, oh, the way we’re forced to show ID to fly?  Where is it that the left, or even the “civil-libertarian types”, have been fighting those?  As for “wholesale surveillance”, spying on terrorists, and the people they talk to, isn’t “wholesale surveillance”, it’s targeting and intelligent surveillance.  And it’s what the left fought so hard to block, in the recent FISA fights.

But the most idiotic part of it is the claimed belief (I won’t dignify it with the word “thought”, because it’s pretty obvious no thought went into the comment) that having the terrorists kill a few thousand Americans would be better than those things.  Because having the terrorists kill a few thousand Americans is the best way to get a vast majority of Americans behind the kind of restrictions he claims to oppose!

The problem isn’t just a difference in threat assessment, it’s also a difference in desired outcome.  If you don’t want an overweening government becoming more enmeshed in our lives, then you want the war to end.  If you love or even care about America, you want it to end in an American victory.  And that means using the full power of America to hunt down and destroy our enemies and their supporters.  That means making it clear that this kind of behavior is not acceptable, and that engaging in it is bad for your health, your power, your ideology.

Because anything else leads to more government, and less freedom, for Americans.

Execute him

July 15, 2008

This is disgusting.

AP photographer Rahmatullah Naikzad was a witness to a Taliban murder.

Not only ws he a witness, he took photos.  And video.  Of the murders.

And the AP published the photos.

He should be arrested, found guilty of being an accomplice to First Degree Murder with Special Circumstances (1: Two people murdered.  2: Done as part of a terrorist war against the US), and executed.

Whoever at the AP approved of running those pictures should be fired, and blacklisted.  Until that is done, teh US Military should consider the AP to be willing accessories to the Taliban, and refuse to give any person connected with the AP access to any information.  no press releases, not access to US troops.  Scratch that, it should not just be the DOD.  The entire US Government should blacklist the entire AP until everyone involved with publishing those photos is fired.

If you think that is too extreme, you need to go to Rusty’s site and read the whole thing.  Then you should watch the snuff film he recorded, and released, for the Taliban,

Barak Obama, idiot

July 15, 2008

Yes, that’s harsh. Unfortunately, it’s justified.

The New Yorker has an article about Obama that shows him, in his own words, to be a complete idiot. The following is from Obama’s response to the 9/11 attacks, published on September 19th in the Hyde Park Herald:

Even as I hope for some measure of peace and comfort to the bereaved families, I must also hope that we as a nation draw some measure of wisdom from this tragedy. Certain immediate lessons are clear, and we must act upon those lessons decisively. We need to step up security at our airports. We must reexamine the effectiveness of our intelligence networks. And we must be resolute in identifying the perpetrators of these heinous acts and dismantling their organizations of destruction.
We must also engage, however, in the more difficult task of understanding the sources of such madness. The essence of this tragedy, it seems to me, derives from a fundamental absence of empathy on the part of the attackers: an inability to imagine, or connect with, the humanity and suffering of others. Such a failure of empathy, such numbness to the pain of a child or the desperation of a parent, is not innate; nor, history tells us, is it unique to a particular culture, religion, or ethnicity. It may find expression in a particular brand of violence, and may be channeled by particular demagogues or fanatics. Most often, though, it grows out of a climate of poverty and ignorance, helplessness and despair.
We will have to make sure, despite our rage, that any U.S. military action takes into account the lives of innocent civilians abroad. We will have to be unwavering in opposing bigotry or discrimination directed against neighbors and friends of Middle Eastern descent. Finally, we will have to devote far more attention to the monumental task of raising the hopes and prospects of embittered children across the globe—children not just in the Middle East, but also in Africa, Asia, Latin America, Eastern Europe and within our own shores.

Read that bolded part again. No, Senator, terrorism does not come from “poverty and ignorance.” The 9/11 attackers were middle class, and college educated. As Alan Krueger points out in his article “What Makes a Terrorist”

the available evidence is nearly unanimous in rejecting either material deprivation or inadequate educa­tion as important causes of support for terrorism or participation in terrorist activities. Such explana­tions have been embraced almost entirely on faith, not scientific evidence.

The Pew Research Center’s Global Attitudes Project conducted public opinion surveys in February 2004 in Jordan, Morocco, Pakistan, and Turkey, involving about 1,000 respondents in each country. One of the questions asked was, “What about suicide bombing carried out against Americans and other Westerners in Iraq? Do you personally believe that this is justifiable or not justifiable?” Pew kindly provided me with tab­ulations of these data by respondents’ personal characteristics.

The clear finding was that people with a higher level of education are in general more likely to say that suicide attacks against Westerners in Iraq are justified. I have also broken this pattern down by income level. There is no indication that people with higher incomes are less likely to say that sui­cide-bombing attacks are justified.

Marc Sageman, a forensic psychiatrist and former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) case officer, has written a book titled Understanding Terror Networks. He found that a high proportion of mem­bers of al-Qaeda were college educated (close to 35 percent) and drawn from skilled professions (almost 45 percent). Research on members of the Israeli extremist group, Gush Emunim, that Malecková and I conducted, also pointed in the same direc­tion. Perhaps most definitively, the Library of Congress produced a summary report for an advi­sory group to the CIA titled, “The Sociology and Psychology of Terrorism: Who Becomes a Terrorist and Why?” which also reached this conclusion—two years before 9/11.

One set of factors that I examined did consis­tently raise the likelihood that people from a given country will participate in terrorism—namely, the suppression of civil liberties and political rights, including freedom of the press, the freedom to assemble, and democratic rights. Using data from the Freedom House Index, for example, I found that countries with low levels of civil liberties are more likely to be the countries of origin of the perpetra­tors of terrorist attacks.

In short: living in a dictatorship makes you more likely to be a terrorist. Especially if you’re a Muslim.

Yes, Obama made these comments in 2001, and this article was published in 2007. However, we knew the backgrounds of the 9/11 attackers by then, and they weren’t backgrounds of poverty. Obama’s comments were the babbling of a left-wing zombie. “Someone attacked us, we must engage in global social work.”

If he’s retracted these claims, and since then admitted that the problem is “lack of freedom in the Middle East”, rather than “poverty”, I’ll take back my claim of him being an idiot.

But I’d bet I’m not going to have to take back that claim.
Hat Tip: Ace

PS

I win that bet. Thanks to Geraghty, I found this talk by Obama at the Woodrow Wilson Institution, on August 1, 2007

Al Qaeda’s new recruits come from Africa and Asia, the Middle East and Europe. Many come from disaffected communities and disconnected corners of our interconnected world. And it makes you stop and wonder: when those faces look up at an American helicopter, do they feel hope, or do they feel hate?

We know where extremists thrive. In conflict zones that are incubators of resentment and anarchy. In weak states that cannot control their borders or territory, or meet the basic needs of their people. From Africa to central Asia to the Pacific Rim – nearly 60 countries stand on the brink of conflict or collapse. The extremists encourage the exploitation of these hopeless places on their hate-filled websites.

Freedom must also mean freedom from want, not freedom lost to an empty
stomach. So I will make poverty reduction a key part of helping other nations reduce
anarchy

This is more of the same.  he’s just too dumb to be able to learn.  At least, not when learning would require him to grow up and give up a left-wing fantasy.

Wow, I thought Saddam wasn’t making WMDs

July 5, 2008

Nice little bit of news via Yahoo

The last major remnant of Saddam Hussein‘s nuclear program — a huge stockpile of concentrated natural uranium — reached a Canadian port Saturday to complete a secret U.S. operation that included a two-week airlift from Baghdad and a ship voyage crossing two oceans.

The removal of 550 metric tons of “yellowcake” — the seed material for higher-grade nuclear enrichment — was a significant step toward closing the books on Saddam’s nuclear legacy. It also brought relief to U.S. and Iraqi authorities who had worried the cache would reach insurgents or smugglers crossing to Iran to aid its nuclear ambitions.

What’s now left is the final and complicated push to clean up the remaining radioactive debris at the former Tuwaitha nuclear complex about 12 miles south of Baghdad — using teams that include Iraqi experts recently trained in the Chernobyl fallout zone in Ukraine.

What?  You mean Saddam had a nuclear weapons program, and yellowcake that coudl have been turned into nuclear bombs if we hadn’t invaded?  I thought everyone “knew” that was just a Bush Administration lie?

/sarcasm