Oct 15

We used to call it the flypaper strategy

The more things change…

It occurred to me today that the events in Syria/Iraq etc are more or less a replay of the events of 2005 – i.e. every wannabe mass murderer the world over is gravitating to the place where their deviancy is rewarded (sort of like Richard Florida’s “Creative Class” theory, but with beheadings).  Back then we called it the “Flypaper Strategy” and was seens as a good thing to have them all in one place, far away, and fighting military units.  Now we are all quite apprehensive about it – and worry about what happens when they come home, if they do.

The greater meaning eludes me.


Nov 07

Happy Birthday USMC

You’re 232 old today, and I have to say, you haven’t aged a day.

Sep 07

Random thought

The more advanced the combatants in a war, the less likely it is they’ll be fighting the same war.

May 07

A belated Memorial Day post.

There have been many, many others like it around the blogosphere today, so I’ll just second this one from Scott Kelby.


May 07

Two from Slate

  • Hitchens on Falwell – a nice vicious hit job, closing with

    It’s a shame that there is no hell for Falwell to go to, and it’s extraordinary that not even such a scandalous career is enough to shake our dumb addiction to the “faith-based.”

  • On Generals – An interesting piece on the lack of turnover at the Pentagon due to the Iraq war. Unmentioned is the lack of turnover as a result of 9-11, which should be the larger clue.

May 07

Wars in the Middle East are officially a vested interest

I read this article on

White House taps general for ‘war czar’ post
President Bush has chosen Lt. Gen. Douglas Lute, the Pentagon’s director of operations, to oversee the fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan as a “war czar” after a long search for new leadership, administration officials said Tuesday.

In the newly created position, Lute would serve as an assistant to the president and deputy national security adviser, and would also maintain his military status and rank as a three-star general, according to a Pentagon official.

and was reminded of this Albert Jay Nock quote:

Experience has made it clear beyond doubt or peradventure that prohibition in the United States is not a moral issue; it is not essentially, even, a political issue; it is a vested interest.

and this H.L. Mencken quote:

The New Deal began, like the Salvation Army, by promising to save humanity. It ended, again like the Salvation Army, by running flop-houses and disturbing the peace.

We have this horrible tendency in our culture to see the means (a big new bureaucracy) as an end in itself, nay, an achievement. What endeavor has failed because there are too few managers? The right managers, sure, lots of failures due to a lack of them. But too few?

Plus an additional bureaucracy just creates it’s own principal-agent and knowledge problems.

Functionally Lute will probably serve as a dedicated adviser, but why the title Czar? All of the Russian Czars were an odd combination of stagnant, incompetent and murderous. Why is that some role model.


Apr 07

Snipers and robot armies

After reading these two articles (here and here) about new forms of sniper scopes, I have to wonder, why aren’t robot armies in the field right now? Granted, all of the shooting must somehow involve a human, but I would imagine that remote operator could be anywhere. We’ve had unmanned aerial vehicles for years now, and those fly, which would seem to be much more complicated and expensive.

Apr 07

Cool article in Popular Mechanics

About the Army’s Land Warrior System. It’s very cool.

Apr 07

A paper worth reading

On the rise of privateers. We’ve let this option go as our country has become wealthier, but it’s worth looking at.

Apr 07

What I got wrong about the Iraq war

I was going to write this a while back, but here it is. I was on the fence about it at the time, but history did not to wait for me to reach a position.

What I was wrong about with regard to Iraq (2003 assumptions)

  • I thought we would have over 10,000 military deaths by this point.
  • I thought the war would take about a year of heavy fighting.
  • I thought it would be over after that year
  • I thought the Sunni-Shia split would not play out as it has, rather that it would stay at or around the 2004 level
  • I thought we would have much more negative blowback – for all of the shouting and protests, not much has really happened on that front
  • I thought we would have found at least chemical weapons (in large quantities)
  • I did not think that Kurdistan would turn out as well as it has
  • I thought Turkey would have intervened in some form by now
  • I thought al Qaida would have benefited more, it seems that they have been hurt (in terms of their ideological appeal) by the Iraq war (more on that later)
  • I did not think that we would still have this many troops (fighting) at this point.
  • I thought that there would be much more conventional combat, and much less of this gang warfare
  • I thought that the Iraqis would have scored at least three major wins (surprise attacks in some fashion) in the scores of battles that have happened since the war began. They don’t seem to have won any against American troops.