• Bush,  Israel,  Obama

    Worth reading – Gaza edition

    From Col. Lang – a very interesting post on the structure of the IDF.

    Also, lost in all of the moral analysis of the current mess (why must San Diego always get bombed by Tijuana in analogies?) is how Israel benefits from it’s current engagement. The rocket attacks were bearable for quite some time – and no one goes to war out of principle anymore. The explanation of doing it while Bush is still in office doesn’t seem to be that credible, Obama hasn’t said anything different than Bush 43, and he has something to prove, so I imagine he would be even more agreeable to Israeli action than Bush (and as a reminder, Bush stopped the Israelis from bombing Iran a few months ago).

    I suppose the War Nerd’s explanation of the attacks being used to weaken Hamas so Fatah could eventually win their civil war has the most credence, but that has problems too.

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  • Biz,  Funny,  Humor,  Iran,  Israel,  Judaism,  Tech

    Friday link clearing

    • Sarah Silverman, Obama, and the Jewish vote – not safe for work, but worth watching
    • Small Banks are doing fine it seems
    • Israel asked Bush for permission to bomb Iran, and it seems Bush refused! Good. No point in throwing away all the gains in Iraq
    • Making money twice – worth reading
    • Who serves in the military? Well worth reading.
    • Jetpacks!
    • The difference between Sunni and Shia in short form
    • And this little nugget – via Ezra Klein

      Dear American:

      I need to ask you to support an urgent secret business relationship with a transfer of funds of great magnitude.

      I am Ministry of the Treasury of the Republic of America. My country has had crisis that has caused the need for large transfer of funds of 800 billion dollars US. If you would assist me in this transfer, it would be most profitable to you.

      I am working with Mr. Phil Gram, lobbyist for UBS, who will be my replacement as Ministry of the Treasury in January. As a Senator, you may know him as the leader of the American banking deregulation movement in the 1990s. This transactin is 100% safe.

      This is a matter of great urgency. We need a blank check. We need the funds as quickly as possible. We cannot directly transfer these funds in the names of our close friends because we are constantly under surveillance. My family lawyer advised me that I should look for a reliable and trustworthy person who will act as a next of kin so the funds can be transferred.

      Please reply with all of your bank account, IRA and college fund account numbers and those of your children and grandchildren to so that we may transfer your commission for this transaction. After I receive that information, I will respond with detailed information about safeguards that will be used to protect the funds.

      Yours Faithfully Minister of Treasury Paulson

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  • Iran,  Israel,  Middle East

    The Israel lobby complex

    A question to my many readers

    I recently watched Hillary Clinton basically state that her administration would treat an attack on Israel as an attack on the United States. Charles Krauthammer makes a similar proposal in a column here. He is kind enough to give some reason as to why the US should assume this burden, specifically

    it will be said, because Israel could retaliate on its own. The problem is that Israel is a very small country with a small nuclear arsenal that could be destroyed in a first strike. During the Cold War, both the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. created vast and invulnerable submarine fleets to ensure a retaliatory strike and, thus, deterrence. The invulnerability and unimaginably massive size of this American nuclear arsenal would make a U.S. deterrent far more potent and reliable than any Israeli facsimile — and thus far more likely to keep the peace.

    If I remember correctly, Israel has nuclear missile submarines, which would make a successful Iranian first strike unlikely.

    The question is, does anyone seriously expect that Iran would be willing to gamble on a sixty percent change of annihilation, but not a 100% chance? Realistically that would be more like a 90% chance due to American political wavering, but let’s call it 100% for arguments sake.

    The obvious answer to this is “The Iranians are irrational” which is a claim not borne out be history. They’ve been quite skillful players of brinkmanship for years now. Evil and harmful yes, irrational and stupid, definitely not. Is there really that much value to pandering to the American fans of Israel?

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  • Israel,  Kurdistan,  Middle East

    A second Israel

    I’ve been in favor of moving American troops to Kuwait and Kurdistan and letting the various Iraqi factions settle itself, with American troops playing Spoiler for our own interests. Upon further thought I’m not so sure.

    Kuwait isn’t really a factor, but Kurdistan is. Assuming that the Kurds do secede (which seems likely) we would be the guarantor of last resort for an ethnically homogeneous enclave, much like we are with Israel. While supporting the Israelis is perhaps the right thing to do, it’s doubtful that the relationship is worthwhile on a cost benefit basis. That raises the question, do we really need another exposed ally with little to offer surrounded by hostile countries? Supporting the Kurds would alienate the surrounding countries and be a considerable financial and troop expense.

    Then again, it does put another outpost of democracy and freedom (for the region) in the area and the second Israel isn’t the same as the first.

    Decisions, decisions.

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  • Alt Energy,  Hybrids,  Israel,  Photography,  Tech

    Monday link roundup

    • An in-depth examination on how to build an energy efficient house
    • Robot snipers in Israel
    • Strobist begins Lighting 102
    • No one thinks seriously about alternative energy. Check out this post from TreeHugger “New Battery Pushed Prius to 125 MPG“. It’s a great idea and invention, but it’s a plug-in hybrid. The motion is coming from the power grid. Granted electricity is usually more efficient than gasoline, but that’s like saying that a diesel engine gets infinite mileage because it doesn’t burn any gasoline at all.
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  • BigThink,  Israel,  Middle East,  Predictions

    Funny and strange quotes

    From this rather odd article about the future of Israel

    As Peter O’Toole said as Lawrence of Arabia in the movie of that title, “Nothing is written.” However, it seems clear how to bet. As so often in history, bet on the horrible outcome.

    I think the post is flawed as it assumes that the current Israeli situation will not change by several orders of magnitude in qualitative ways as the decades roll by. Of course, there is no reason for the changes to be good, but current trends seldom hold before Bit Rot settles in. Worth reading

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  • Israel,  Weirdness

    Saturday rapid fire

    • Thought crime in High School writing class

      Allen Lee, 18, faces two disorderly conduct charges over the creative-writing assignment, which he was given on Monday in English class at the northern Illinois school.

      Students were told to “write whatever comes to your mind. Do not judge or censor what you are writing,” according to a copy of the assignment. This is the first salvo in the education establishments overreaction I suppose.

      I wonder how far it will spread. It’s bad enough that 99% of corporate writing is so measured and passive it might as well be written in Latin, now it’s going to start even earlier.

    • An interesting profile of international arms dealers. This one is worthy of a James Bond villain status.
    • An Israeli newspaper ranks the US presidential candidates in terms of their willingness to defend Israel. Curiously lacking is the American counterpart to their prime ministers.
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  • Funny,  Israel,  Jimmy Carter,  Photography,  Predictions

    Monday rapid fire

    • Prediction Markets
    • Shutter Speed
    • Carter: Bush Israel’s ‘worst ally’ in D.C. – this is American Politics at its most vapid. Two parties, or in this particular case, one party, arguing over who can better serve a foreign government? Is it so much to ask what we get out of it? Israel does have a knack for drawing the proper enemies, but this is a country that has spied on us and sank one of our warships, must we be this servile?
    • Jack Handey’s Art Ideas
    • The Pickin’ Barn
    • Half of U.S. Still Believes Iraq Had WMD – Journalism at it’s most vapid. It’s bad enough the author uses the horrid acronym “WMD” but then he contradicts himself in the article. Half of the US still believes that Iraq had WMD, chemical weapons in this case, because they did, just not in meaningful quantity. The poll gave an accurate answer, but the author uses that as a mini rant, and it’s billed as news, not commentary.
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  • Israel,  Lebanon,  Middle East

    Interesting thoughts from Belmont

    These musings do make the Israeli strategy a bit more rational. To wit:

    what is the most important component of Hezbollah’s power in the south? Again the answer is easy. It is the Hezbollah cadres themselves. Hezbollah’s most precious possession isn’t Katyushas, long-range rockets, night vision goggles or antitank missiles or electronic equipment. It is the trained core of its military force. Equipment can be replaced but Hezbollah’s cadres represent an expensive, almost irreplaceable investment. In them resides the organizational knowledge of Nasrallah’s organization. It embodies man-decades of operational experience against Israel. Rockets can be replaced. The stars of Hezbollah’s operational force are less expendable.

    The Hezbollah are doing the single most stupid thing imaginable for a guerilla organization. They are fighting to keep territory. Oh, I know that this will be justified in terms of “inflicting casualties” on the Israelis. But the Hez are probably losing 10 for every Israeli lost. A bad bargain for Israel you say? No. A bad bargain for Hezbollah to trade their terrorist elite for highly trained but nevertheless conventional infantry.

    That was why Spartacus’ revolt against the Romans failed as well.

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