Recent comments

  • Reply to: Liveblogging the bombing of Gaza.   1 min 6 sec ago

    It barely stops on the front lines, certainly doesn't stop in command HQ as you've pointed out, and it absolutely, positively doesn't stop back on the various home fronts. I'm not sure why you think it does. Sun Tzu has plenty to say about national leadership and the home front, plenty to say about politics, morale and motivation. 

  • Reply to: Liveblogging the bombing of Gaza.   38 min 26 sec ago

    . . .is evidence that the signs were there--the argument is over how they should have been interpreted and how unreasonable it was for Stalin to be caught *completely* unprepared.

    And there are certainly people who will argue that FDR was at least negligent in preparation given indications that the attack on Pearl Harbor was coming.

  • Reply to: Liveblogging the bombing of Gaza.   55 min 16 sec ago

    So hopefully I can get some more insight.  At least into what the level of annoyance with Israel is with its treaty partners.

  • Reply to: Liveblogging the bombing of Gaza.   55 min 19 sec ago

    You want to make some point about how power doesn't grow from the barrel of a gun, something fuzzy and numinous about great leadership and who holds the gun.  I can't think of anything in Clausewitz or Sun Tzu to counter this cart-before-horse proposition of yours.  I say war is what happens when the politicians stop doing their jobs and war stops when they start doing those jobs again.  In the mean time, it's up to the soldiers to defend their nations and there Sun Tzu and Clausewitz take over and the political theory guys can take a coffee break.

  • Reply to: Liveblogging the bombing of Gaza.   1 hour 5 min ago

    Martirosyan argues that Stalin held back because of a lack of reliable evidence of the coming attack, and had legitimate concerns about deliberate misinformation by German intelligence.

    20-20 hindsight is a great thing.


    Technically, Pearl Harbour shouldn't have come as a surprise, either.

  • Reply to: Liveblogging the bombing of Gaza.   1 hour 10 min ago

    our neighbours have been making war on us for several decades - three official hot wars, the Kargil invasion of 1999, numerous terrorist "non-state actors" assaults, including Mumbai 2009 and the attack on the Parliament in 2001.


    Yet our political leaders (and this is bipartisan) have in the main resisted calls for "hot pursuit" of terrorist camps in our neighbours country, or even bombing to rubble (and there is a strong and vocal lobby seeking a "final solution").   And this is not out of ideological belief but simply pragmatism and a realisation that at the end of the day you have to live with neighbours elements of who may hate you.


    We live with the aftermath of Partition and the mass expropriation of whole populations (my parents were both expropriated refugees).  I do not think we have come to terms yet with the mass uprootings of our cultural moorings - and I know the same is true of those living in those over there as well.  But we have reached a stalemate, and perhaps, an unhappy truce.  Yet this is far better than what is happening today in Gaza.




  • Reply to: Liveblogging the bombing of Gaza.   1 hour 25 min ago

    BBC. CIA.



    Edit: Oh, and as a bonus? Pravda, via the LA Times.

  • Reply to: Liveblogging the bombing of Gaza.   1 hour 30 min ago

    IANAMH, of course, but most of the accounts of the launch of Operation Barbarossa in mid-1941 would answer your question with "damn few". The conventional accounts have Stalin fairly clueless as to German plans - and of course, no one in the Soviet leadership would dare try to inform him otherwise. IIRC, the Soviets were still shipping large consignments of commodities  to Germany (in accord with the terms of the 1939 Hitler-Stalin Pact which the Germans managed to mostly renege on) practically right up until the invasion commenced. And right afterwards, Stalin supposedly retreated into a funk for days until reality (and the magnitude of said reality) finally sunk in.




  • Reply to: Lunatics.   1 hour 30 min ago

    in Chicago even), and I clearly remember that withdrawing from Iraq was an important part of his platform.  It may even have been a reason for his victory.


    So how does "unserious about keeping combat troops in Iraq" come into the issue?  The whole point of his election was to come out of Iraq.  And insofar as the USA elected him President, we can assume that a majority of Americans wished him to do so.  Isn't that how a democracy works?


    Also, IIRC, there was the small matter of the recession.  Keeping a very large military occupation force in another country for no other reason than to prevent sectarian violence may have been counterproductive.

  • Reply to: The Bird Dog Doctrine   1 hour 45 min ago

    Incidentally, William Dalrymple has a fascinating book on the 1st Afghan War of 1842.  It seems the tribal protagonists of the war between the British and the Afghans are almost exactly the same as the Americans and the Afghans today.


    And although few in the West are aware of it, as the United States prepares to withdraw from Afghanistan, history is repeating itself. We may have forgotten the details of the colonial history that did so much to mold Afghans’ hatred of foreign rule, but the Afghans have not.

    Today, Shah Shuja is widely reviled in Afghanistan as a puppet of the West. The man who defeated the British in 1842, Wazir Akbar Khan, and his father, Dost Mohammed, are widely regarded as national heroes. Mr. Karzai has lived with that knowledge all his life, making him a difficult ally — always keen to stress the differences between himself and his backers, making him appear to be continually biting the hand that feeds him.

    In 2001, top Taliban officials asked their young fighters, “Do you want to be remembered as a son of Shah Shuja or as a son of Dost Mohammed?” As he rose to power, the Taliban leader Mullah Omar deliberately modeled himself on Dost Mohammed, and, as he did, removed the Holy Cloak of the Prophet Muhammad from its shrine in Kandahar and wrapped himself in it to declare jihad, a deliberate historical re-enactment, the resonance of which all Afghans immediately understood.

    The parallels between the current war and that of the 1840s are striking. The same tribal rivalries exist and the same battles are being fought in the same places under the guise of new flags, new ideologies and new political puppeteers. The same cities are being garrisoned by foreign troops speaking the same languages, and they are being attacked from the same hills and high passes.

    Not only was Shah Shuja from the same Popalzai sub-tribe as Mr. Karzai, his principal opponents were Ghilzais, who today make up the bulk of the Taliban’s foot soldiers. Mullah Omar is a Ghilzai, as was Mohammad Shah Khan, the resistance fighter who supervised the slaughter of the British Army in 1841.


    The same moral issues that are chewed over in editorial columns today were discussed in the correspondence of British officials during the First Afghan War. Should foreign troops try to “promote the interests of humanity” and champion social reform by banning traditions like the stoning of adulterous women? Should they try to reform blasphemy laws and introduce Western political ideas? Or should they just concentrate on ruling the country without rocking the boat?

    As the great British spymaster Sir Claude Wade warned on the eve of the 1839 invasion, “There is nothing more to be dreaded or guarded against, I think, than the overweening confidence with which we are too often accustomed to regard the excellence of our own institutions, and the anxiety that we display to introduce them in new and untried soils.” In this early critique of democracy promotion, he concluded, “Such interference will always lead to acrimonious disputes, if not to a violent reaction.”

  • Reply to: Systemic Financial Fraud - It's Real and the Government is Typically Indifferent   1 hour 47 min ago

    Eric Holder: 

    I am concerned that the size of some of these institutions [banks] becomes so large that it does become difficult for us to prosecute them when we are hit with indications that if you do prosecute, if you do bring a criminal charge, it will have a negative impact on the national economy, perhaps even the world economy.

    did they receive orders?


    Who knows. Dick Durbin famously said "frankly, the banks run the place". If that's true of Congress, why not the DoJ and the regulatory agencies.


    are the cases unusually difficult?


    In the last financial crisis (S&L), hundreds of Wall Street execs were convicted and jailed b/c of fraud. Even if the law were so absurdly tilted against fraud prosecutions, that wouldn't excuse D leadership from failing to change the law, especially since they passed the Fraud Enforcement and Recovery Act of 2009.


    are they actually in cahoots with the financial industry?


    Some evidence against that is that Wall Street gave more $s to Romney than Obama. On the other hand, tho MScott doesn't like it when I mention it, the collusion between banks and the DoJ in shutting down Occupy Wall Street shows it wouldn't be the first time.

  • Reply to: Liveblogging the bombing of Gaza.   2 hours 4 min ago

    As far as matters went for rational thinking, the Axis should have been cleaning up the Mediterranean theatre, blockading Britain, getting access to Middle Eastern petroleum etc. Especially after Greece fell, the Med theatre was the logical place to continue. Rommel lost because of poor backup as the war provisioning shifted to Russia.

    Of course Stain knew Hitler would attack Russia. He needed more time to manufacture more tanks and aircraft and other stuff for his war machine. We can't forget that the Russians crushed the German war machine comprehensively in just 2 years.

  • Reply to: Liveblogging the bombing of Gaza.   2 hours 36 min ago

    and useless.

  • Reply to: Systemic Financial Fraud - It's Real and the Government is Typically Indifferent   3 hours 1 sec ago

    I mean, did they receive orders, are the cases unusually difficult, are they worried that prosecutions might create market upset and therefore there's too much bureaucratic heat to risk putting one's neck on the line, are they actually in cahoots with the financial industry?

  • Reply to: Liveblogging the bombing of Gaza.   3 hours 28 min ago

    More like "five year plan."

  • Reply to: New, bright and shiny open thread   3 hours 40 min ago

    . . .as opposed to Maher, who has clearly had issues with women for at least the last fifteen years, if not all along.

  • Reply to: Liveblogging the bombing of Gaza.   4 hours 33 min ago

    A poll released this week showed 86.5% of Jewish Israelis surveyed say Israel cannot accept a cease-fire because "Hamas continues firing missiles on Israel, not all the tunnels have been found, and Hamas has not surrendered," according to the Jerusalem Post.

    It's unclear how many in Gaza want militants to stop rocket attacks.

    Last month, a poll by the Washington Institute for Near East policy found most Palestinians in Gaza oppose a two-state solution and want to work toward a five-year goal of abolishing Israel. But the majority said they support nonviolent methods of "popular resistance."


    Abolishing Israel?


    The deaths in the conflicts mentioned in this thread were all sizable proportions of a population being killed...which does not bode well for our current conflicts in the Middle East...Gaza/Syria/Iraq.



  • Reply to: Liveblogging the bombing of Gaza.   4 hours 54 min ago

    it has little to do with my point. I'm not saying Stalin was a great leader, or that he was the best leader to fight the Germans, or that all his decisions ultimately proved right (they didn't). What I'm saying is that it was his leadership, for better or for worse, that ultimately won the war. It was political unity that drove Red Army & Soviet economic mobilization, doctrine and ultimate victory, not "the barrel of a gun." The Germans had guns too, and even knew how to use them a lot better. 

    "Managed to dig nation out of the mess he overwhelmingly caused in the first place" is not a terribly persuasive endorsement of the value of great leadership.

    That's a bridge too far. I believe Hitler overwhelmingly caused the mess the Soviets found themselves in. And if we're going to indulge in counterfactuals, we could say that Hitler never would have considered invading a Russia with stronger leadership in the 1930s. For that matter, if a certain lance corporal had breathed just a little deeper when the mustard shells were falling back in 1918, we might be having a whole different conversation.


    In any case, Stalin blundered, Churchill blundered, FDR blundered, Tojo blundered, Mussolini blundered, Hitler (eventually) blundered... pointing out blunders while ignoring results is itself a blunder.

  • Reply to: New, bright and shiny open thread   5 hours 7 min ago

    ....Bill Mahr is a comic with a comics sensibility; Dawkins is a professional provocateur thinker....and what is interesting is that, I was going to make a comment over on the LA Times on the Israel/Palestinian War, but, understanding that the internet is forever...I thought better of it.


    Oddly, I don't feel the same about The Forvm, though I do temper my more outlier thoughts...but I agree with both Mahr and Dawkins....probably because I am both a comic and a thinker...;>}}}


    However, there is something more insidious I'd like to note: It is fun being a snarky scold rather than tackling the tough issues of crazy old women or Israel/Palestine...Likewise the degrees of Rape...both of these are, imo, legitimate topics of discussion.


    Anger is fun, and Democrats are at a loss to understand the power of Republicans....anger and bile people understand, it is more fun to hate the government that try the backbreaking and thankless work of trying to fix it.


    So let that little witch bitch...I don't see her adding any critical value to the conversation.



  • Reply to: Liveblogging the bombing of Gaza.   5 hours 19 min ago

    . . .that the Soviet Union would have been worse off if Stalin had been replaced in, say, 1935 with some random Communist @$$#ole who decided *not* to murder every officer in his military with an ounce of independent thinking ability and who *didn't* leave the Soviet Union open to attack by ignoring signs of impending German betrayal in 1941. "Managed to dig nation out of the mess he overwhelmingly caused in the first place" is not a terribly persuasive endorsement of the value of great leadership.