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24951  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: President Chamberlin pressed to limit drone attacks on: June 04, 2011, 10:49:11 PM
WASHINGTON—Fissures have opened within the Obama administration over the drone program targeting militants in Pakistan, with the U.S. ambassador to Pakistan and some top military leaders pushing to rein in the Central Intelligence Agency's aggressive pace of strikes.

Such a move would roll back, at least temporarily, a program that President Barack Obama dramatically expanded soon after taking office, making it one of the U.S.'s main weapons against the Pakistan-based militants fighting coalition troops in Afghanistan.

The program has angered Pakistan, a key ally in the fight against Islamist militants. The debate over drones comes as the two sides try to repair relations badly frayed by the shooting deaths of two Pakistanis by CIA contractor Raymond Davis in January, a wave of particularly lethal drone strikes following Mr. Davis's release from Pakistani custody in March, and the clandestine U.S. raid that killed Osama bin Laden on May 2.

The White House National Security Council debated a slowdown in drone strikes in a meeting on Thursday, a U.S. official said. At the meeting, CIA Director Leon Panetta made the case for maintaining the current program, the official said, arguing that it remains the U.S.'s best weapon against al Qaeda and its allies.

The result of the meeting—the first high-level debate within the Obama administration over how aggressively to pursue the CIA's targeted-killing program—was a decision to continue the program as is for now, the U.S. official said.

Another official, who supports a slowdown, said the discussions about revamping the program would continue, alongside talks with Pakistan, which is lobbying to rein in the drone strikes.

Most U.S. officials, including those urging a slowdown, agree the CIA strikes using the pilotless aircraft have been one of Washington's most effective tools in the fight against militants hiding out in Pakistan. The weapons have killed some top al Qaeda and Taliban leaders and left militants off balance in a swath of mountainous territory along the Afghan border with Pakistan where they once operated with near impunity. No one in the administration is advocating an outright halt to the program.

 .Yet an increasingly prominent group of State Department and military officials now argue behind closed doors that the intense pace of the strikes aggravates an already troubled alliance with Pakistan and, ultimately, risks destabilizing the nuclear-armed country, said current and former officials familiar with the discussions.

U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan Cameron Munter, backed by top military officers and other State Department officials, wants the strikes to be more judicious, and argues that Pakistan's views need to be given greater weight if the fight against militancy is to succeed, said current and former U.S. officials.

Defenders of the current drone program take umbrage at the suggestion that the program isn't judicious. "In this context, the phrase 'more judicious' is really code for 'let's appease Pakistani sensitivities,' " said a U.S. official. The CIA has already given Pakistani concerns greater weight in targeting decisions in recent months, the official added. Advocates of sustained strikes also argue that the current rift with the Pakistanis isn't going to be fixed by scaling back the program.

The debate has largely been muted until now, in part because the details of the program are classified and because drone strikes against militants have generally been popular with the White House and most Republicans and Democrats in Congress.

Pakistani officials have always publicly condemned the drone program; only in private have they consented to the campaign and acknowledged to having helped the CIA pinpoint targets.

Now Islamabad is lobbying Washington in public and private to curtail the strikes because of Pakistani complaints that they take a high civilian death toll.

Lt. Gen. Asif Yasin Malik, who commands Pakistani forces fighting militants in the country's northwest, said in an interview that drone strikes are making it harder to win allies among tribal leaders.

"It's a negative thing in my area of responsibility. It causes instability and impinges on my relationship with the local people," Gen. Malik said.

Advocates for reining in the program argue that the pace and scope of strikes have become politically unsustainable because of their unpopularity in Pakistan.

In a series of recent closed-door meetings, according to current and former U.S. officials, Ambassador Munter and some senior military officials argued that more selective targeting will maintain the strikes' effectiveness while easing the political blowback in Pakistan, making it easier for officials there to work with Washington.

"You can't take your foot off the gas completely—the drones have a suppressing effect on them," a U.S. official said of militant groups in the border areas. "On the other hand, the Pakistanis need some breathing space."

Pakistan has given some indications it would ramp up efforts to root out militants, following a renewed U.S. request to do so by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen during a visit to Pakistan last week.

National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor declined to discuss the covert program or any internal debate over its future.

"The president has issued a clear directive to disrupt, dismantle and defeat al Qaeda, and the United States government is completely united behind that goal. I think the results speak for themselves," Mr. Vietor said.

The CIA's targeted killing program, ramped up by President George W. Bush in July 2008, was initially designed to target high-level al Qaeda leaders. Strikes averaged roughly one a week in the last half of 2008.

Mr. Obama has overseen a dramatic expansion of the program. The drones were originally used against specifically selected "high-value" targets, a list drawn up with Pakistani help.

But in the past year, the CIA has been targeting lower-level fighters after tracking their activities and movements.

The CIA last year conducted more than 100 strikes. The pace has slowed to roughly 30 in the first five months of 2011, partly over concerns about Pakistani reaction, a U.S. official said.

The latest drone strike came Friday, hitting three compounds in Pakistan's South Waziristan region and killing at least four people, according to an official familiar with the matter.

There is disagreement over how many civilian bystanders the strikes have killed. The Pakistanis say hundreds of civilians have died in the strikes, which is part of the reason they want them scaled back. The U.S. says 30 civilians have been slain. Both sides agree hundreds of militants have been killed.

The pushback by some U.S. officials against the drone program comes as U.S. diplomats and officials serving in Pakistan express dissatisfaction with what they see as the generally hostile tenor of the U.S.'s policy toward Pakistan.

These diplomats and officials say the deep vein of anti-Americanism that runs through Pakistani society forces its elected and military leaders, including army chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, to distance themselves from Washington to avoid a popular backlash.

"What's worrying a lot of us is whether we're turning people who should be our natural allies into our adversaries," said a U.S. diplomat in Pakistan.

A senior U.S. official said the key is figuring out what level of drone strikes can satisfy U.S. security needs and at the same be tolerated by the Pakistanis. "I think we underestimate the importance of public opinion in Pakistan to our detriment," the official said. The Pakistanis have "a legitimate concern."

Islamabad has proposed narrowing the scope of the CIA program to target militants that have been agreed to by both sides, a Pakistani official said.

24952  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Lara Logan speaks on: June 04, 2011, 04:51:28 PM
24953  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Housing/Mortgage/Real Estate on: June 04, 2011, 04:43:08 PM
ROTFLMAO!!!  cheesy
24954  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The electoral process, vote fraud, SEIU/ACORN et al, corruption etc. on: June 04, 2011, 12:57:26 PM
One of the purposes of the Campaign Finance Laws is for we the people to know to whom the candidate is indebted.  Surely Edwards would be deeply indebted to those in question here.  Yes?
24955  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government programs & regulations, spending, budget process on: June 04, 2011, 11:10:43 AM

Forgive me, but the whole construct of your answer assumes that these jobs would have been vaporized altogether which misses the fundamental point that if GM had been reorganized under bankruptcy that management, the unions, creditors, and stockholders (I think I have the order correct there, but do not swear to it) would each take a haircut according to the determination of the bankruptcy judge.

The simple fact is that BO and the Dems simply bypassed the well-established legal procedures already in place of our bankruptcy laws so as to benefit their union friends, (and fcuk over the secured creditors) and get government people put on the Board of Directors.  So much for the rule of law!

Of course my little calculation does the same thing in a sense, but it assumed (error mine it would appear given your post  cheesy ) that this was understood in order to make the tongue-in-cheek point of pointing out how stupid and deranged the whole thing was even if we were to accept BO and the Dems pretense that GM would have simply dissappeared off the face of the earth, that no other company would have expanded to fill in the purported void, and that a $10B loss was/is a "success".
24956  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: June 04, 2011, 10:59:00 AM
Agreed about Christie.
24957  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: June 04, 2011, 06:14:11 AM
I like Stratfor a lot, and here is its most recent rumination on the current sit-rep, but I am liking our YA more:

U.S., Pakistan: The Unending Love-Hate Relationship

The United States and Pakistan are developing a special joint intelligence team designed to eliminate jihadist high value targets in the South Asian nation, according to media reports on Thursday. The reported move comes within days of a visit to Islamabad by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Michael Mullen. The team will include CIA and Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence directorate (ISI) operatives. According to the reports, the team is assigned to hunt down top al Qaeda and Taliban leaders, including Afghan Taliban chief Mullah Mohammed Omar; Ayman al-Zawahiri; the deputy of al Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden, Sirajuddin Haqqani; the leader of Taliban forces in eastern Afghanistan, Atiya Abdel Rahman (purportedly the number three operational leader in al Qaeda); and Ilyas Kashmiri, the highest ranking Pakistani leader in al Qaeda who is involved in operations in Afghanistan, Pakistan and India.

“It is only reasonable to assume that Washington will continue to work on the unilateral path while pushing a viable joint operations program with the Pakistanis. In other words, the inherent problems in the U.S.-Pakistani relationship remain as is.”
That the CIA and ISI have agreed to joint operations aimed at eliminating key jihadist figures would be an extraordinary development considering that U.S.-Pakistani relations are at an all-time low. Washington and Islamabad were already at odds over American efforts to develop unilateral intelligence and military capabilities in Pakistan when U.S. Special Operations Forces on May 1 killed bin Laden in a compound some three hours’ drive time from the Pakistani capital in a unilateral operation. The incident massively aggravated tensions between the two sides, given that the Obama administration stated that its decision to go solo on the bin Laden hit was informed by concerns that the leaks within the Pakistani security system would jeopardize the mission.

So, the question is how — a mere month later — can the two sides come to an agreement on joint operations against top jihadist figures? Some of it can be explained by the fact that United States depends upon Pakistan for its regional strategy and that despite all the problems, Washington cannot simply afford to walk away from Pakistan and let it fall in its own jihadist abyss. Indeed, Mullen said, “I think the worst thing we could do would be cut them off…If the United States distanced itself from Pakistan, 10 years from now, 20 years from now, we go back and it’s much more intense and it’s much more dangerous. We’re just not living in a world where we can afford to be unengaged in a place like this.”

Accepting Pakistan for what it is and trying to stabilize it means that the United States must be careful not to completely undermine Islamabad, and thus needs to try and work with the Pakistanis. Unilateral operations that become public contribute to the undermining of the Pakistani state. This would explain the move to engage in joint operations so publicly — a long-standing Pakistani demand that in theory is designed to shore up the sagging credibility of the Pakistani government and its security establishment.

That doesn’t, however, solve the American problem in which it cannot afford to rely on a hemorrhaging Pakistani security system to fight jihadists on Pakistani soil, particularly when the United States is looking for high-level leaders who provide operational expertise, or inspirational leadership protected by, at the very least, rogue former employees of the Pakistani security apparatus. Therefore, it is only reasonable to assume that Washington will continue to work on the unilateral path while pushing a viable joint operations program with the Pakistanis. In other words, the inherent problems in the U.S.-Pakistani relationship remain as is. Liaison work between intelligence agencies is always a double game. The liaisons work together in mutual interest, while other operations deeper in the shadows work against each other. The purpose of the liaison work is to disguise those operations.

Even if the Pakistani security system was not compromised, there is another serious disconnect between the United States and the South Asian country. Washington and Islamabad agree that there ultimately has to be a negotiated settlement with local Taliban forces and that there are those with whom there can never be reconciliation. The problem is that there is a disagreement on the definition of what constitutes reconcilable Taliban.

24958  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Fascism, liberal fascism, progressivism, socialism: on: June 04, 2011, 06:06:35 AM
An outstanding question.  May I suggest the Poltical Economics thread for its discussion?

In the context of a conversation about some chilling color photos of Hitler, Nazi rallies, etc. in the 1930s that recently surfaced, an internet friend writes:
I am reading about another "picture" of 1939 Nazi Germany -- a verbal picture that is even more frightening. This ePub formatted book, The Vampire Economy, was written in 1939. It paints a detailed picture of what living under National Socialism (the Nazi government) was like from the business man's point of view. I haven't finished the book yet, but the opening chapters are enough to demonstrate that we don't ever want to "go there."

More frightening than this history itself is the light that it shines on contemporary economies in the US and around the world. Almost everywhere, people are accepting a version of "state capitalism" as their definition of "capitalism" or even their definition of "free markets." The growing number of economic "features" we share with Nazi Germany is, for me, a very disturbing development. Most of the bureaucratic details enumerated in the attached book are not to be seen in the 2011 USA, but far too many are right here, front and center. Consider the author's discussion of the "contact man":

"THE business organization of private enterprise has had to be reorganized in accordance with the new state of things. Departments which previously were the heart of a firm have become of minor importance. Other departments which either did not exist or which had only auxiliary functions have become dominant and have usurped the real functions of management.

Formerly the purchasing agent and the salesmanager were among the most important members of a business organization. Today the emphasis has shifted and a curious new business aide, a sort of combination “go-between” and public relations counsel, is now all-important. His job ... is to maintain good personal relations with officials in the Economic Ministry, where he is an almost daily caller; he studies all the new regulations and decrees, knows how to interpret them in relation to his particular firm and is able to guess at what may be permitted or forbidden. In other words, it is his business to know how far one can go without being caught."

As the author explains this role in detail, it becomes clear that it isn't so different from that of our lobbyists and our tax attorneys. As to the importance of government connections, consider Dick Cheney's importance to Halliburton.

Could the US ever reach Nazi Germany's demented depths of state capitalism (i.e. fascism)? I would like to think that is impossible, but who knows? As this book makes clear, Nazi Germany would have been a horror even if genocide had never been on its agenda. Consider also that in the 1930s the US implemented a system that was a virtual copy of Italy's fascist government -- take a look at The Sources of New Deal Regime Uncertainty ( A shocking number of Nazi Germany's economic methods were on display in the USA in this very same 1937-1939 period.

24959  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Mister, how much to save that job in the window? on: June 04, 2011, 06:05:15 AM
Taking the mid-way point between the$5B and the $15B, i.e. $10B and dividing that by 68,500 I am coming up with about $146,000 per job saved.

This is a veritable bargain comparted to the 3,000,000 jobs BO claims to have saved ( an unfalsifiable number if ever there were one!) with $600,000,000 in stimulus spending, which works out to $200,000 per job saved.
24960  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The War on Drugs on: June 04, 2011, 05:57:06 AM
The first step is to agree to go in that direction and as a society work out a consensus.

I'm guessing that it would look something like this:

Pot:  Legal, but regulated.  Home use OK, OK at clubs. bars-- just like alchohol.  Just like alcohol, no puffing in public places.  No access for children.  I'd be perfectly comfortable with no mass advertising, Home grown OK.  Stores like the clinics here in LA?  Psylocybin, peyote, and other psychedlics: Home grown OK, available at clinics.  Addictive substances (e.g. heroin and other substances which by-pass free will)  Decriminalized, but available through clinics administered by some sort of nurse practitioner or some sort of trained, certified person on site?

Just some initial thoughts.

24961  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Mish Shedlock on: June 04, 2011, 05:38:31 AM
Charts and analysis worth considering
24962  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The War on Drugs on: June 03, 2011, 07:52:44 PM
What is the point of speaking to us as if we agree with something which we don't?

Oy vey.
24963  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Way Forward for the American Creed on: June 03, 2011, 07:50:45 PM
Good discussion.  I would add that the US tax code is not only a matter of the marginal tax rate (as hugely important as that is) it is also a matter of mis-directing investment e.g. the housing bubble.
24964  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government programs & regulations, spending, budget process on: June 03, 2011, 07:45:52 PM
Doug, I didn't quite follow that.   Doug, or anyone, what is the total number of GM employees in America?

24965  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Privacy, Big Brother (State and Corporate) & the 4th Amendment on: June 03, 2011, 07:35:36 PM
Uh , , , no.  Duh.  The concern here IS American citizens.
24966  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government programs & regulations, spending, budget process on: June 03, 2011, 11:42:15 AM
"somewhere from $7-$15 billion in GM’s case (depending on average share price for 500 million shares). Should that loss have to be reported to the FEC on a dollar-per-auto-worker-vote basis?"

I'd like to do that calculation.  Would someone come up with the total number of GM employees please?
24967  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: June 03, 2011, 11:09:11 AM
Please post this in Govt programs lest this thread become a repository for any and all issues.
24968  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: June 03, 2011, 11:07:43 AM
Apparently, it was a slow news week. Either that, or our culture has really sunk quite low. But the "biggest" news concerned New York Democrat Anthony Weiner's wiener. Or more accurately, the accidental/pranked/hacked Tweet of a man's underwear-clad genitalia that was intended for a 21-year-old college student Weiner was following on Twitter. Long story short, Weiner insisted that he didn't peck out that Tweet, claiming his Twitter account had been hacked, but when pressed for investigation or at least a strong reaction, Weiner backtracked and said it was a prank -- a far less serious thing. Then he admitted that he couldn't say "with certitude" that the offending image wasn't indeed his package, and he got rather stiff and prickly when questioned by the media. That hasn't stopped the press from centering the 24-hour news cycle on Private Weiner, who now claims his lips are zipped. To be frank, however, we think the congressman is in a real pickle, and the wurst may be yet to come.

24969  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The War on Drugs on: June 03, 2011, 11:00:14 AM
C'mon GM, don't be silly.  We both know I am not opposed to all search warrants.  I am noting though that a cost of the WOD is a lot of doors getting kicked in, exigently or otherwise tongue.    This something all good Americans believe should be minimized, yes?
24970  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government programs & regulations, spending, budget process on: June 03, 2011, 10:57:38 AM

"It is a wise rule and should be fundamental in a government disposed to cherish its credit, and at the same time to restrain the use of it within the limits of its faculties." --Thomas Jefferson
24971  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / POTH: Anti-biotics in food chain on: June 03, 2011, 10:26:37 AM
Even though this is a POTH editorial, I concur.  I would add to this editorial that the anti-biotics in the animals are not destroyed by cooking and diminish our own good flora which has negative health consequences.

The High Cost of Cheap MeatPublished: June 2, 2011

The point of factory farming is cheap meat, made possible by confining large numbers of animals in small spaces. Perhaps the greatest hidden cost is its potential effect on human health.

Small doses of antibiotics — too small to kill bacteria — are fed to factory farm animals as part of their regular diet to promote growth and offset the risks of overcrowding. What factory farms are really raising is antibiotic-resistant bacteria, which means that several classes of antibiotics no longer work the way they should in humans. We pay for cheap meat by sacrificing some of the most important drugs ever developed.

Last week, the Natural Resources Defense Council, joined by other advocacy groups, sued the Food and Drug Administration to compel it to end the nontherapeutic use of penicillin and tetracycline in farm animals. Veterinarians would still be able to treat sick animals with these drugs but could not routinely add the drugs to their diets.

For years, the F.D.A. has had the scientific studies and the authority to ban these drugs. But it has always bowed to pressure from the pharmaceutical and farm lobbies, despite the well-founded objections of groups like the American Medical Association and the World Health Organization, which support an antibiotic ban.

It is time for the F.D.A. to stop corporate factory farms from squandering valuable drugs just to promote growth among animals confined in conditions that inherently create the risk of disease. According to recent estimates, 70 percent of the antibiotics sold in this country end up in farm animals. The F.D.A. can change that by honoring its own scientific conclusions and its statutory obligation to end its approval of unsafe drug uses.

24972  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The War on Drugs on: June 03, 2011, 10:22:31 AM
So?  What's your point?

You used the War on Cancer, and I distinguished its applicability to the question presented here.  Your answer is a non-sequitor.

24973  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: DBMA Training Camp August 12-14 on: June 03, 2011, 10:14:32 AM
@Francisco:  Yay!


Sorry I have dawdled on this.  Presing personal matters have intruded heavily on my time this week.  I will get out a proper newsletter and post here early next week.
24974  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / POTH: Gulf of Mexico deadzone on: June 03, 2011, 10:11:37 AM

As the surging waters of the Mississippi pass downstream, they leave behind flooded towns and inundated lives and carry forward a brew of farm chemicals and waste that this year — given record flooding — is expected to result in the largest dead zone ever in the Gulf of Mexico.

Dead zones have been occurring in the gulf since the 1970s, and studies show that the main culprits are nitrogen and phosphorus from crop fertilizers and animal manure in river runoff. They settle in at the mouth of the gulf and fertilize algae, which prospers and eventually starves other living things of oxygen.
Government studies have traced a majority of those chemicals in the runoff to nine farming states, and yet today, decades after the dead zones began forming, there is still little political common ground on how to abate this perennial problem. Scientists who study dead zones predict that the affected area will increase significantly this year, breaking records for size and damage.

For years, environmentalists and advocates for a cleaner gulf have been calling for federal action in the form of regulation. Since 1998, the Environmental Protection Agency has been encouraging all states to place hard and fast numerical limits on the amount of those chemicals allowed in local waterways. Yet of the nine key farm states that feed the dead zone, only two, Illinois and Indiana, have acted, and only to cover lakes, not the rivers or streams that merge into the Mississippi.

The lack of formal action upstream has long been maddening to the downstream states most affected by the pollution, and the extreme flooding this year has only increased the tensions.

“Considering the current circumstances, it is extremely frustrating not seeing E.P.A. take more direct action,” said Matt Rota, director of science and water policy for the Gulf Restoration Network, an environmental advocacy group in New Orleans that has renewed its calls for federally enforced targets. “We have tried solely voluntary mechanisms to reduce this pollution for a decade and have only seen the dead zone get bigger.”

Environmental Protection Agency officials said they had no immediate plans to force the issue, but farmers in the Mississippi Basin are worried. That is because only six months ago, the agency stepped in at the Chesapeake Bay, another watershed with similar runoff issues, and set total maximum daily loads for those same pollutants in nearby waterways. If the states do not reduce enough pollution over time, the agency could penalize them in a variety of ways, including increasing federal oversight of state programs or denying new wastewater permitting rights, which could hamper development. The agency says it is too soon to evaluate their progress in reducing pollution.

Don Parish, senior director of regulatory relations for the American Farm Bureau Federation, a trade group, says behind that policy is the faulty assumption that farmers fertilize too much or too casually. Since 1980, he said, farmers have increased corn yields by 80 percent while at the same time reducing their nitrate use by 4 percent through precision farming.

“We are on the razor’s edge,” Mr. Parish said. “When you get to the point where you are taking more from the soil than you are putting in, then you have to worry about productivity.”

Dead zones are areas of the ocean where low oxygen levels can stress or kill bottom-dwelling organisms that cannot escape and cause fish to leave the area. Excess nutrients transported to the gulf each year during spring floods promote algal growth. As the algae die and decompose, oxygen is consumed, creating the dead zone. The largest dead zone was measured in 2002 at about 8,500 square miles, roughly the size of New Jersey. Shrimp fishermen complain of being hurt the most by the dead zones as shrimp are less able to relocate — but the precise impacts on species are still being studied.

The United States Geological Survey has found that nine states along the Mississippi contribute 75 percent of the nitrogen and phosphorus. The survey found that corn and soybean crops were the largest contributors to the nitrogen in the runoff, and manure was a large contributor to the amount of phosphorus.

There are many other factors, of course, that determine what elements make it from crops into river water, for example, whether watersheds are protected by wetlands or buffer strips of land.

John Downing, a biogeochemist and limnologist at Iowa State University, said structural issues were also to blame. Many farms in Iowa, he said, are built on former wetlands and have drains right under the crop roots that whisk water away before soils can absorb and hold on to at least some of the fertilizer.     

Still, overapplication of fertilizers remains a key contributor, he said. “For farmers, the consequences of applying too little is much riskier than putting too much on.”


Page 2 of 2)

Hemmed in by the antiregulatory mood of Congress and high food costs, the Obama administration has looked to combat Mississippi River pollution through an incentive program introduced in 2009 by the Department of Agriculture that encourages a variety of grass-roots solutions, from wetlands creation to educating farmers on just-in-time application.

The Mississippi River Basin Healthy Watersheds Initiative provides $320 million in grant money, which has so far been spread among 700 projects in 12 states, projects proposed by farmers, environmental groups and local governments. So far, the department says the results are quite promising. Phosphorus and nitrogen found in surface runoff from 150,000 acres enrolled in the program have decreased by nearly 50 percent.
That amount of land is just a drop in the bucket for the vast Mississippi watershed, but Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack thought it was promising enough to invite the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, Lisa P. Jackson, to visit one of the farms in the program.

“There is fear, real fear, in Iowa that we’ll take what we’re doing in Chesapeake Bay and transfer it here without regard to what’s already happening on the ground,” she said during her trip in April, adding she appreciated the opportunity “to ensure that isn’t our approach.”

Mr. Vilsack said that farmers had come a long way toward understanding their effect on ecosystems downstream and that what they needed were government incentives and creation of private markets — where, for example, farmers who do a lot of conservation could receive payments from farmers who do not — to help them improve environmental safeguards while they also keep food production high.

“A lot of folks are basing criticism and concerns on the way agriculture was, not the way it is now,” Mr. Vilsack said in a phone interview.  “We as a nation have an expansive appetite for inexpensive food. To produce more, you have to turn to strategies like chemicals and pesticides.”

That stance infuriates Dave Murphy, founder of Food Democracy Now!, an Iowa nonprofit that advocates for smaller organic farms. He argues that voluntary programs are a subterfuge.

“As is standard in Iowa and other states, voluntary regulation by the polluters and the industry themselves is the preferred method of getting around any serious environmental enforcement,” he said.

Even some farmers do not disagree. Chris Petersen, president of the Iowa Farmers Union, which represents small farmers, said the country’s policy were not working. “We’ve been trying to do this for years, and we are just not turning the corner.” 
24975  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The War on Drugs on: June 03, 2011, 09:56:40 AM

The war on cancer is not kicking in people's doors.
24976  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Prayer on: June 03, 2011, 09:52:32 AM
Praying for inner harmony while surrounded by strife , , ,
24977  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Jefferson, 1781; Liberty from God on: June 03, 2011, 09:49:38 AM
"And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are the gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with his wrath? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just: that his justice cannot sleep for ever." --Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia, Query 18, 1781

24978  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The US and the Pacific: a historical strategic priority on: June 03, 2011, 12:11:21 AM

Gates and the Pacific: A Historical Strategic Priority

U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates left Hawaii for Singapore on Wednesday, bound for the 10th annual Asia Security Summit in Singapore — his last foreign trip before he leaves office at the end of the month. While in Hawaii, Gates signaled that at the summit he will emphasize the long-standing American commitment to the region: “We are a Pacific nation. We will remain a Pacific nation. We will remain engaged.”

This statement does more than reassure allies in the region at a time of personnel transition. It reflects the United States’ historical strategic commitments in the region. As an economic power, American commerce is closely tied to the world’s second- and third-largest economies — China and Japan. As a maritime power, the U.S. Navy has shifted more of its focus to East Asian waters. But while the importance of the Pacific region has grown since the Cold War, it has long been of foundational, fundamental importance to American geopolitical security and grand strategy.

“Rare is the country that does not see its relationship with Washington as at least a hedge against a rising and more assertive Beijing.”
When Gates called the United States “a Pacific nation” Tuesday, he was at the USS Missouri (BB 63), one of the last battleships the Americans built and now a museum at Pearl Harbor. Built and commissioned during World War II, the Missouri shelled Iwo Jima and Okinawa as the United States closed in on the Japanese home islands, and later provided fire support to troops in Korea. Indeed, some 50 years prior to the Missouri’s commissioning, U.S. naval officers began crafting and refining a plan to defeat “orange” — a notional adversary representing imperial Japan. For half a century, debates raged over the defensibility of Guam and ports in the Philippines, over the speed at which a fleet could be assembled to sail for the western Pacific, and what would be required to sustain it in extended combat.

Now, Gates travels to a region that has been neglected amid distraction for the United States in Afghanistan and Iraq. He travels to a region where, since Washington’s focus waned following 9/11, North Korea has tested crude atomic devices and China has made enormous strides in building a modern military — including anti-ship ballistic missiles intended to target American aircraft carriers at a range of thousands of kilometers. The status of an American air station on Okinawa has faced intense debate and South Korea is uncomfortable with American deference to China in the midst of North Korean aggression.

But Gates is also visiting a region that has been a strategic U.S. priority since the 19th century — and a theater where the country has long worked to strengthen its position. It was no mistake that the Americans forced Spain to surrender Guam and the Philippines after the Spanish-American War, nor was the domination and ultimate annexation of Hawaii or the deployment of U.S. Marines to Beijing a product of happenstance. The result a century later is a robust foundation for American national power in the region.

In terms of commerce, the region’s economic bonds with the American economy continue to grow. In terms of military presence, while the United States may have some operational challenges in certain scenarios, it can call on allies from Australia to Japan and has sovereign-basing options in Hawaii and Guam. Politically, rare is the country that does not see its relationship with Washington as at least a hedge against a rising and more assertive Beijing, particularly as China asserts its maritime claims in the South China Sea. And, it is a region of powerful intra-regional tensions. Countries are more likely to distrust the intentions of those that border them than to share a powerful alliance with them. Even in the absence of deeply entrenched alliances with Australia, Japan and South Korea (not to mention other ties, such as the Philippines on counterterrorism, or with Taiwan, which depends on U.S. military armaments), this patchwork of regional tensions provides considerable flexibility to Washington, allowing it a number of scenarios to play a spoiling role and frustrate the emergence of a single regional hegemon.

24979  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Stratfor: The future of German energy on: June 02, 2011, 09:25:18 PM
On May 30 the German government announced the seven nuclear power reactors that had been shut down in the aftermath of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami would never be reopened. In fact, they went on to announce the entire shuttering of the German nuclear fleet by 2022. Germany relies on nuclear power for roughly one-third of its electricity needs and at this point, the closure of the entire nuclear sector opens a four-way power game for the future of the German economy and German loyalties. The German plan is to replace the entirety of the nuclear industry with renewable power. Unfortunate for the Germans this is not cost possible. Nuclear power is less than one-third of wind power and less than one-twentieth the cost of solar power. Replacing one-third of their total power generation within a decade is simply not feasible much less possible. Which brings us to the other three options: the first is France.

France’s entire post-World War II strategy has been about lashing itself to Germany so that Germany can never again threaten it. In the post-Cold War era, the strategy has been refined somewhat in order to make France as essential to German plans as possible. Now unlike Germany, and France’s population is remarkably pro-nuclear and so the French are going to be trying to build as many nuclear power reactors as possible so that they can export electricity to Germany to make up as much of the difference as possible. This has already been happening to a limited degree. In the aftermath of the Fukushima disasters in Japan, French power actors have been running up to the red line in order to supply power to replace those seven nuclear reactors that the Germans took off-line. So the French already have a leg up in this competition.

The second country is Poland. Poland’s concerns are little more complex. While the French are obviously concerned about what happens should Germany get too confident, the Poles are sandwiched between a resurgent Germany and resurgent Russia. There is nowhere for them to turn; economically they can’t compete with either; demographically they can’t compete with either. They need a way to shape the relations of one or both of the states. The Polish advantage, somewhat ironically, is coal — a fuel that has been steadily phased out across Europe over the last 20 years. Poland still gets 90 percent of its electricity from coal and unlike the expensive nuclear power reactors which require several billion euros and five to 10 years to construct, you can put up a coal plant for as little as a few hundred million in a year or two. Poland is actually the country, ironically then, with this old politically incorrect fuel source that actually has a chance of coming to Germany’s rescue in the shortest term for the lowest dollar amount.

The final player in the game is Russia. Russia has been attempting to secure a partnership with the Germans for decades and such a partnership would solve many of Russia’s long-term demographic, economic and military problems. A German-Russian partnership would neutralize Poland, and really, neutralize all of Europe. It would make it very difficult for the Americans put forward any sort of anti-Russian policies in the European sphere of influence as there would simply be no one to carry them out. The United States needs Germany to at least be neutral in its relations with Russia otherwise the Russians have a free hand in all the other theaters, and as powerful as the Americans are, so long as they are involved in the Islamic world they simply can’t counter Russia everywhere. Economically, the Russians see Germany as their strongest trading partner and their largest source of foreign investment. They realize that if they can get their hook into the German soul, their life simply gets easier all around. Their plan is pretty simple. There is something called the Nord Stream pipeline which bypasses all the transit states between the Russians and the Germans that is in the process of final testing right now. It should come online in 2012 and then slowly be ramped up to a full capacity of 55 billion cubic meters of natural gas per year. That 55 billion cubic meters of natural gas is enough to replace half of the electricity that nuclear power has recently given Germany. All that has to be done is the construction of additional natural gas-burning power plants in Germany — the fuel is already there.

And so we have a four-part race: first, the Germans, who have a politically attractive plan that is economically unfeasible; second, the French, who have a politically attractive plan that is economically expensive; third, the Poles, who have a politically unattractive plan which is economically dirt cheap; and forth, the Russians, who already have the fuel source in place.

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24980  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: June 02, 2011, 09:03:36 PM
And every night they see Boener and Mitchell on the evening news as the face of the Republican Party , , ,  cry
24981  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The War on Drugs on: June 02, 2011, 08:23:31 PM
See my post of May 28.
24982  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Madison 1835 on his fellow Founding Fathers on: June 02, 2011, 08:18:33 AM
"Whatever may be the judgement pronounced on the competency of the architects of the Constitution, or whatever may be the destiny of the edifice prepared by them, I feel it a duty to express my profound and solemn conviction ... that there never was an assembly of men, charged with a great and arduous trust, who were more pure in their motives, or more exclusively or anxiously devoted to the object committed to them." --James Madison, 1835
24983  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: June 01, 2011, 11:01:29 PM
You mean Stewart is wrong and that is Weiner's penis? cheesy cheesy cheesy
24984  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / GM's brain may explode with this one :-) on: June 01, 2011, 08:53:43 PM
24985  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Officer Jared Reston on: June 01, 2011, 05:58:29 PM
24986  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Blame it on Ailes LOL on: June 01, 2011, 05:25:48 PM
24987  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Fascism, liberal fascism, progressivism, socialism: on: June 01, 2011, 10:57:09 AM
Good conversation going here.  My apologies for the brevity of what follows, but there are many demands on my time right now.

I reject separating Marx from what his followers have done with considerable consistency.  The pattern of the extraordinarily murderous nature of Leninism, Stalinism, the Soviet Empire, Maoism, the Kymer Rouge, North Korea, etc  is no accident.  It ineluctably flows from the nature of concept such as "dictatorhip of the proletariat" and "the vanguard" and so forth.  The nature of Marxist logic becomes a feedback loop that repeatedly leads to mass evil.  How many did Lenin murder?  Stalin?  the rest of the Soviet Empire? Mao? the Kymer Rouge? etc etc etc  And let us not forget the evils of a lives lived with freedom suppressed.

Rachel's post today on "The Power of Word" thread opens with "He is a self-made man who worships his creator." This captures quite a bit IMHO.

24988  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Cain promo clip on: June 01, 2011, 10:41:34 AM
24989  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / New firearms training methodology on: June 01, 2011, 10:32:34 AM


24990  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / New CMH on: June 01, 2011, 10:27:58 AM
Moving BigDog's post to here
24991  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The words speak for themselves on: June 01, 2011, 10:14:03 AM

The words speak for themselves:

George W. Bush speech after the capture of Saddam Hussein:

The success of yesterday's mission is a tribute to our men and women now serving in Iraq . The operation was based on the superb work of intelligence analysts who found the dictator's footprints in a vast country. The operation was carried out with skill and precision by a brave fighting force.  Our servicemen and women and our coalition allies have faced many dangers in the hunt for members of the fallen regime, and in their effort to bring hope and freedom to the Iraqi people. Their work continues, and so do the risks. Today, on behalf of the nation, I thank the members of our Armed Forces and I congratulate them.

Barack Obama speech after the killing of bin Laden:

And so shortly after taking office, I directed Leon Panetta, the director of the CIA, to make the killing or capture of bin Laden the top priority of our war against al Qaeda, even as we continued our broader efforts to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat his network. Then, last August, after years of painstaking work by our intelligence community, I was briefed on a possible lead to bin Laden. It was far from certain, and it took many months to run this thread to ground. I met repeatedly with my national security team as we developed more information about the possibility that we had located bin Laden hiding within a compound deep inside of Pakistan . And finally, last week, I determined that we had enough intelligence to take action, and authorized an operation to get Osama bin Laden and bring him to justice. Today, at my direction, the United States launched a targeted operation against that compound in Abbottabad , Pakistan ..

Obama used the words I, me, or my over a dozen times in his entire speech.  George Bush used them twice to say "I thank" and "I congratulate".
24992  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Wilson, 1791 Parents' duties to children on: June 01, 2011, 10:07:59 AM
Thank you for that CCP.

"It is the duty of parents to maintain their children decently, and according to their circumstances; to protect them according to the dictates of prudence; and to educate them according to the suggestions of a judicious and zealous regard for their usefulness, their respectability and happiness." --James Wilson, Lectures on Law, 1791
24993  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / SCOTUS: Kentucky vs. King on: June 01, 2011, 09:58:23 AM

Haven't read this yet, but it seems likely to be quite relevant to our discussion here:

1. Supreme Court decides Kentucky v. King -- warrantless entry case.
AELE, joined by the IACP and NSA, urged the Court to adopt an objective reasonableness standard for warrantless entries into premises predicated on exigent circumstances. The brief stressed that officers need clear guidance and a uniform rule for training and operational purposes -- and for their safety when confronting dangerous offenders. Read the AELE brief at
The Court, in an 8-1 holding, overturned the Kentucky Supreme Court. See

Note: This case is a huge win for police officers.
24994  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Left-Islamist alliance of convenience on: May 31, 2011, 04:47:37 PM
GB posts this as evidence of a hypothesis of his.  Makes sense to me.
24995  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Yemen on: May 31, 2011, 04:03:12 PM

The security situation in Yemen is no doubt deteriorating, but the opposition forces still do not have the strength to dislodge pro-Saleh forces in the capital, and that’s precisely why we’re seeing a political gridlock in Yemen continue. The Saudis are meanwhile trying to prevent civil war in their southern neighbor but because all forces to this conflict are falling back on tribal law to fight their way out of the gridlock, this is a crisis that is bound to intensify in the coming days.

Over the weekend, opposition forces, particularly coming from tribesman loyal to the influential al-Ahmar family made a number of claims to the media that large-scale defections took place within Yemen’s most elite military unit, the Republican Guard. It appears that many of those claims were widely exaggerated and that Saleh still has pretty strong military control in the capital itself.

Next door, Saudi Arabia’s obviously very frustrated with the situation. They are trying to prevent civil war in the country. They’re also largely embarrassed by the failure of the GCC mediation. What’s becoming clear now in this situation is that all sides to the conflict are falling back on “urf,” or tribal code, in trying to fight their way out of the crisis. The problem is that tribal code is not as strong as it used to be for a number of reasons. As a result you have a situation where neither side fully buys into either the political negotiations or the tribal negotiations. So the opposition hasn’t bought into the political mediation led by the GCC and the Saleh family has not bought into guarantees on paper for their immunity when tribal code actually calls for their debts. And this is really the fundamental tension we see between the modern Yemeni state and its tribal tradition, which is in effect prolonging the crisis.

Meanwhile, while the vast majority of Saleh’s forces are focusing their energies on holding down the capital, the writ of the state is rapidly disintegrating in the rest of the country. For example, in the southern coastal city of Zinjibar, we’ve seen Islamist militant activity on the rise in recent days as a hodgepodge of like-minded Islamist militants have come together in trying to overrun checkpoints, attack military targets and essentially try to assert their control over the city itself. The opposition continues to claim that this is all a charade by Saleh, using the al Qaeda card to convince outsiders of the consequences, specifically the counterterrorism consequences, of forcing him out of power.

At this point in the crisis, that argument doesn’t really hold. Most of the casualties are coming from the military and rising Islamist militant activity in the country right now could be used on the other side of the argument to say that the longer Saleh stays, the greater the risk of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula expanding its sphere of influence in the country. The propaganda on all sides of this conflict are cutting into reality, and that reality is that while Saleh is struggling to maintain control of the capital, an array of rebel forces in the rest of the country are facing the opportunity of a lifetime in trying to expand their territorial control ultimately at the expense of the state.

24996  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / name change on: May 31, 2011, 03:57:14 PM
At his requeset Hugh "C-Irish Dog" Sargent  is now Hugh "C - Teufel Hunden" Sargent.
24997  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Rush 1806 on: May 31, 2011, 08:00:35 AM

"[T]he only foundation for a useful education in a republic is to be laid in religion. Without this there can be no virtue, and without virtue there can be no liberty, and liberty is the object and life of all republican governments." --Benjamin Rush, On the Mode of Education Proper in a Republic, 1806
24998  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Economic growth in question on: May 31, 2011, 07:05:33 AM

The world's largest economy may be facing a growth problem.

After a disappointing first quarter, economists largely predicted the U.S. recovery would ramp back up as short-term disruptions such as higher gas prices, bad weather and supply problems in Japan subsided.

But there's little indication that's happening. Manufacturing is cooling, the housing market is struggling and consumers are keeping a close eye on spending, meaning the U.S. economy might be on a slower path to full health than expected.

"It's very hard to generate a rapid recovery when rapid recoveries are historically driven by housing and the consumer," said Nigel Gault, an economist at IHS Global Insight. He expects an annualized, inflation-adjusted growth rate of less than 3% in coming quarters—better than the first-quarter's 1.8% rate, but too slow to make a meaningful dent in unemployment.

A growing number of forecasters are downgrading their second-quarter growth predictions. JPMorgan Chase & Co. economists revised down their estimate to a 2.5% rate from 3%, while Bank of America Merrill Lynch economists cut theirs to 2% from 2.8%. Deutsche Bank cut its forecast to 3.2% from 3.7%.

Companies are similarly cautious. Applied Materials Inc., the largest maker of machines used in producing computer chips, said it expected growth in its semiconductor and solar markets to slow following one of its best quarters ever. Hewlett-Packard Co. cut its fiscal-year outlook amid weak computer sales and negative effects from the disaster in Japan. Clorox Co. offered a more guarded outlook for its household goods business as executives noted that higher prices may hurt sales.

The dimming outlook raises a deeper question about the economy's health: Has it emerged from the financial turmoil of 2008 and 2009 with a chronic growth problem?

Some economists think it has. "We keep expecting the economy to perform along norms that are very difficult to achieve when you have this much private debt and public debt," said Carmen Reinhart, an economist at the Peterson Institute for International Economics. She thinks the Federal Reserve's forecasts have been too optimistic, and the U.S. could be in for a protracted period of subpar growth and high unemployment.

View Full Image
.In their April forecast, Fed officials projected the economy would grow between 3.1% and 3.3% in 2011 and between 3.5% and 4.2% in 2012. That's more optimistic than private forecasters, who on average project growth of 2.9% in 2011 and 3.1% in 2012, according to Blue Chip Economics, which surveys forecasters monthly.

Even after temporary headwinds subside, the economy could face challenges as the Fed scales back its stimulus efforts, state and local governments trim spending to balance their budgets and Congress looks to cut federal spending next year.

To be sure, some corners of the economy are showing strength. Job growth has been relatively robust in recent months and expansion in emerging markets is helping to buoy export demand. But it will take strong, sustained job gains to inspire households to spend freely, economists say.

Judy Sheppers, 70, of Aiken, S.C. has no doubt the economy is improving. She recently found a job at a real estate company after being laid off in 2008 and is now able to splurge on lunches and dinners out. But she's holding back on more substantial spending. "I'd love to travel," said Ms. Sheppers, but with a tight budget, she and a few friends are planning road trips to nearby beaches. "I do the driving, they pay for the gas."

Meanwhile, with home prices falling and sales depressed, both builders and buyers are on edge.

After starting off the year on a high note, Victor DePhillips' optimism is waning. The chief executive of Signature Building Systems, which manufactures modular homes in Moosic, Pa., and employs about 165 workers, says he has seen orders slow in the past month or so.

While things aren't nearly as bleak as they were during the depths of the downturn, qualified buyers seem to be holding back, possibly because they think prices still have further to fall. "It's a little scary," Mr. DePhillips said. "I don't know what to attribute it to."

Since the recession officially ended in mid-2009, the economy's annualized growth rate has averaged 2.8%. That's no better than its performance after the much-milder 2001 recession, and far worse than the 7.1% growth rate after the similarly deep 1982 recession.

"There are pretty big costs to not really generating a sizeable recovery," said Joseph Lupton, an economist at JP Morgan Chase & Co. Most notably: high unemployment. Some 5.8 million people have been out of work for more than six months, and prolonged slow economic growth makes it less likely that they will rejoin the labor force.

Slow growth could become a central focus in the weeks ahead. Fed officials revised down their 2011 growth forecast in April. With new forecasts due June 22, they might be forced to do so again. If growth disappoints, that could mean less inflation pressure, reducing the likelihood the Fed would raise interest rates anytime soon.

Write to Sara Murray at and Jon Hilsenrath at

24999  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: Friedman on Israel's borders on: May 31, 2011, 06:57:20 AM
Not sure that I agree with all of this , , ,


By George Friedman

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said May 30 that  Israel could not prevent the United Nations from recognizing a Palestinian state, in the sense of adopting a resolution on the subject. Two weeks ago, U.S. President Barack Obama, in a speech, called on Israel to return to some variation of its pre-1967 borders. The practical significance of these and other diplomatic evolutions in relation to Israel is questionable. Historically, U.N. declarations have had variable meanings, depending on the willingness of great powers to enforce them. Obama’s speech on Israel, and his subsequent statements, created enough ambiguity to make exactly what he was saying unclear. Nevertheless, it is clear that the diplomatic atmosphere on Israel is shifting.

There are many questions concerning this shift, ranging from the competing moral and historical claims of the Israelis and Palestinians to the internal politics of each side to whether the Palestinians would be satisfied with a return to the pre-1967 borders. All of these must be addressed, but this analysis is confined to a single issue: whether a return to the 1967 borders would increase the danger to Israel’s national security. Later analyses will focus on Palestinian national security issues and those of others.

Early Borders

It is important to begin by understanding that the pre-1967 borders are actually the borders established by the armistice agreements of 1949. The 1948 U.N. resolution creating the state of Israel created a much smaller Israel. The Arab rejection of what was called “partition” resulted in a war that created the borders that placed the West Bank (named after the west bank of the Jordan River) in Jordanian hands, along with substantial parts of Jerusalem, and placed Gaza in the hands of the Egyptians.

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The 1949 borders substantially improved Israel’s position by widening the corridors between the areas granted to Israel under the partition, giving it control of part of Jerusalem and, perhaps most important, control over the Negev. The latter provided Israel with room for maneuver in the event of an Egyptian attack — and Egypt was always Israel’s main adversary. At the same time, the 1949 borders did not eliminate a major strategic threat. The Israel-Jordan border placed Jordanian forces on three sides of Israeli Jerusalem, and threatened the Tel Aviv-Jerusalem corridor. Much of the Israeli heartland, the Tel Aviv-Haifa-Jerusalem triangle, was within Jordanian artillery range, and a Jordanian attack toward the Mediterranean would have to be stopped cold at the border, since there was no room to retreat, regroup and counterattack.

For Israel, the main danger did not come from Jordan attacking by itself. Jordanian forces were limited, and tensions with Egypt and Syria created a de facto alliance between Israel and Jordan. In addition, the Jordanian Hashemite regime lived in deep tension with the Palestinians, since the former were British transplants from the Arabian Peninsula, and the Palestinians saw them as well as the Israelis as interlopers. Thus the danger on the map was mitigated both by politics and by the limited force the Jordanians could bring to bear.

Nevertheless, politics shift, and the 1949 borders posed a strategic problem for Israel. If Egypt, Jordan and Syria were to launch a simultaneous attack (possibly joined by other forces along the Jordan River line) all along Israel’s frontiers, the ability of Israel to defeat the attackers was questionable. The attacks would have to be coordinated — as the 1948 attacks were not — but simultaneous pressure along all frontiers would leave the Israelis with insufficient forces to hold and therefore no framework for a counterattack. From 1948 to 1967, this was Israel’s existential challenge, mitigated by the disharmony among the Arabs and the fact that any attack would be detected in the deployment phase.

Israel’s strategy in this situation had to be the pre-emptive strike. Unable to absorb a coordinated blow, the Israelis had to strike first to disorganize their enemies and to engage them sequentially and in detail. The 1967 war represented Israeli strategy in its first generation. First, it could not allow the enemy to commence hostilities. Whatever the political cost of being labeled the aggressor, Israel had to strike first. Second, it could not be assumed that the political intentions of each neighbor at any one time would determine their behavior. In the event Israel was collapsing, for example, Jordan’s calculations of its own interests would shift, and it would move from being a covert ally to Israel to a nation both repositioning itself in the Arab world and taking advantage of geographical opportunities. Third, the center of gravity of the Arab threat was always Egypt, the neighbor able to field the largest army. Any pre-emptive war would have to begin with Egypt and then move to other neighbors. Fourth, in order to control the sequence and outcome of the war, Israel would have to maintain superior organization and technology at all levels. Finally, and most important, the Israelis would have to move for rapid war termination. They could not afford a war of attrition against forces of superior size. An extended war could drain Israeli combat capability at an astonishing rate. Therefore the pre-emptive strike had to be decisive.

The 1949 borders actually gave Israel a strategic advantage. The Arabs were fighting on external lines. This means their forces could not easily shift between Egypt and Syria, for example, making it difficult to exploit emergent weaknesses along the fronts. The Israelis, on the other hand, fought from interior lines, and in relatively compact terrain. They could carry out a centrifugal offense, beginning with Egypt, shifting to Jordan and finishing with Syria, moving forces from one front to another in a matter of days. Put differently, the Arabs were inherently uncoordinated, unable to support each other. The pre-1967 borders allowed the Israelis to be superbly coordinated, choosing the timing and intensity of combat to suit their capabilities. Israel lacked strategic depth, but it made up for it with compact space and interior lines. If it could choose the time, place and tempo of engagements, it could defeat numerically superior forces. The Arabs could not do this.

Israel needed two things in order to exploit this advantage. The first was outstanding intelligence to detect signs of coordination and the massing of forces. Detecting the former sign was a matter of political intelligence, the latter a matter of tactical military intelligence. But the political intelligence would have to manifest itself in military deployments, and given the geography of the 1949 borders, massing forces secretly was impossible. If enemy forces could mass undetected it would be a disaster for Israel. Thus the center of gravity of Israeli war-making was its intelligence capabilities.

The second essential requirement was an alliance with a great power. Israel’s strategy was based on superior technology and organization — air power, armor and so on. The true weakness of Israel’s strategic power since the country’s creation had been that its national security requirements outstripped its industrial and financial base. It could not domestically develop and produce all of the weapons it needed to fight a war. Israel depended first on the Soviets, then until 1967 on France. It was not until after the 1967 war that the United States provided any significant aid to Israel. However, under the strategy of the pre-1967 borders, continual access to weapons — and in a crisis, rapid access to more weapons — was essential, so Israel had to have a powerful ally. Not having one, coupled with an intelligence failure, would be disastrous.

After 1967

The 1967 war allowed Israel to occupy the Sinai, all of Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Golan Heights. It placed Egyptian forces on the west bank of the Suez, far from Israel, and pushed the Jordanians out of artillery range of the Israeli heartland. It pushed Syria out of artillery range as well. This created the strategic depth Israel required, yet it set the stage for the most serious military crisis in Israeli history, beginning with a failure in its central capability — intelligence.

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The intelligence failure occurred in 1973, when Syria and Egypt managed to partially coordinate an assault on Israel without Israeli intelligence being able to interpret the intelligence it was receiving. Israel was saved above all by rapid rearmament by the United States, particularly in such staples of war as artillery shells. It was also aided by greater strategic depth. The Egyptian attack was stopped far from Israel proper in the western Sinai. The Syrians fought in the Golan Heights rather than in the Galilee.

Here is the heart of the pre-1967 border issue. Strategic depth meant that the Syrians and Egyptians spent their main offensive force outside of Israel proper. This bought Israel space and time. It allowed Israel to move back to its main sequential strategy. After halting the two attacks, the Israelis proceeded to defeat the Syrians in the Golan then the Egyptians in the Sinai. However, the ability to mount the two attacks — and particularly the Sinai attack — required massive American resupply of everything from aircraft to munitions. It is not clear that without this resupply the Israelis could have mounted the offensive in the Sinai, or avoided an extended war of attrition on unfavorable terms. Of course, the intelligence failure opened the door to Israel’s other vulnerability — its dependency on foreign powers for resupply. Indeed, perhaps Israel’s greatest miscalculation was the amount of artillery shells it would need to fight the war; the amount required vastly outstripped expectations. Such a seemingly minor thing created a massive dependency on the United States, allowing the United States to shape the conclusion of the war to its own ends so that Israel’s military victory ultimately evolved into a political retreat in the Sinai.

It is impossible to argue that Israel, fighting on its 1949 borders, was less successful than when it fought on its post-1967 borders. What happened was that in expanding the scope of the battlefield, opportunities for intelligence failures multiplied, the rate of consumption of supplies increased and dependence grew on foreign powers with different political interests. The war Israel fought from the 1949 borders was more efficiently waged than the one it fought from the post-1967 borders. The 1973 war allowed for a larger battlefield and greater room for error (errors always occur on the battlefield), but because of intelligence surprises and supply miscalculations it also linked Israel’s national survival to the willingness of a foreign government to quickly resupply its military.

The example of 1973 casts some doubt around the argument that the 1948 borders were excessively vulnerable. There are arguments on both sides of the issue, but it is not a clear-cut position. However, we need to consider Israel’s borders not only in terms of conventional war but also in terms of unconventional war — both uprisings and the use of chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear (CBRN) weapons.

There are those who argue that there will be no more peer-to-peer conflicts. We doubt that intensely. However, there is certainly a great deal of asymmetric warfare in the world, and for Israel it comes in the form of intifadas, rocket attacks and guerrilla combat against Hezbollah in Lebanon. The post-1967 borders do not do much about these forms of warfare. Indeed, it can be argued that some of this conflict happens because of the post-1967 borders.

A shift to the 1949 borders would not increase the risk of an intifada but would make it moot. It would not eliminate conflict with Hezbollah. A shift to the 1949 line would eliminate some threats but not others. From the standpoint of asymmetric warfare, a shift in borders could increase the threat from Palestinian rockets to the Israeli heartland. If a Palestinian state were created, there would be the very real possibility of Palestinian rocket fire unless there was a significant shift in Hamas’ view of Israel or Fatah increased its power in the West Bank and was in a position to defeat Hamas and other rejectionist movements. This would be the heart of the Palestinian threat if there were a return to the borders established after the initial war.

The shape of Israel’s borders doesn’t really have an effect on the threat posed by CBRN weapons. While some chemical artillery rockets could be fired from closer borders, the geography leaves Israel inherently vulnerable to this threat, regardless of where the precise boundary is drawn, and they can already be fired from Lebanon or Gaza. The main threat discussed, a CBRN warhead fitted to an Iranian medium-range ballistic missile launched from a thousand miles away, has little to do with precisely where a line in the Levant is drawn.

When we look at conventional warfare, I would argue that the main issue Israel has is not its borders but its dependence on outside powers for its national security. Any country that creates a national security policy based on the willingness of another country to come to its assistance has a fundamental flaw that will, at some point, be mortal. The precise borders should be those that a) can be defended and b) do not create barriers to aid when that aid is most needed. In 1973, U.S. President Richard Nixon withheld resupply for some days, pressing Israel to the edge. U.S. interests were not those of Israel’s. This is the mortal danger to Israel — a national security requirement that outstrips its ability to underwrite it.

Israel’s borders will not protect it against Iranian missiles, and rockets from Gaza are painful but do not threaten Israel’s existence. In case the artillery rocket threat expands beyond this point, Israel must retain the ability to reoccupy and re-engage, but given the threat of asymmetric war, perpetual occupation would seem to place Israel at a perpetual disadvantage. Clearly, the rocket threat from Hamas represents the best argument for strategic depth.

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The best argument for returning to the pre-1967 borders is that Israel was more capable of fighting well on these borders. The war of independence, the 1956 war and the 1967 war all went far better than any of the wars that came after. Most important, if Israel is incapable of generating a national defense industry that can provide all the necessary munitions and equipment without having to depend on its allies, then it has no choice but to consider what its allies want. With the pre-1967 borders there is a greater chance of maintaining critical alliances. More to the point, the pre-1967 borders require a smaller industrial base because they do not require troops for occupation and they improve Israel’s ability to conduct conventional operations in a time of crisis.

There is a strong case to be made for not returning to the 1949 lines, but it is difficult to make that case from a military point of view. Strategic depth is merely one element of a rational strategy. Given that Israel’s military security depends on its relations with third parties, the shape of its borders and diplomatic reality are, as always, at the heart of Israeli military strategy.

In warfare, the greatest enemy of victory is wishful thinking. The assumption that Israel will always have an outside power prepared to rush munitions to the battlefield or help create costly defense systems like Iron Dome is simply wishful thinking. There is no reason to believe this will always be the case. Therefore, since this is the heart of Israeli strategy, the strategy rests on wishful thinking. The question of borders must be viewed in the context of synchronizing Israeli national security policy with Israeli national means.

There is an argument prevalent among Israelis and their supporters that the Arabs will never make a lasting peace with Israel. From this flows the assumption that the safest course is to continue to hold all territory. My argument assumes the worst case, which is not only that the Palestinians will not agree to a genuine peace but also that the United States cannot be counted on indefinitely. All military planning must begin with the worst case.

However, I draw a different conclusion from these facts than the Israelis do. If the worst-case scenario is the basis for planning, then Israel must reduce its risk and restructure its geography along the more favorable lines that existed between 1949 and 1967, when Israel was unambiguously victorious in its wars, rather than the borders and policies after 1967, when Israel has been less successful. The idea that the largest possible territory provides the greatest possible security is not supportable in military history. As Frederick the Great once said, he who defends everything defends nothing.

25000  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / POTH: IAEA figures out Iran going nuke on: May 31, 2011, 06:43:17 AM
The International Atomic Energy Agency last week presented a report to its board that laid out new information on what it calls “possible military dimensions” of Iran’s nuclear program, clarifying the central issue in the long clash between Tehran and the West over nuclear technology.

The nine-page report raised questions about whether Iran has sought to investigate seven different kinds of technology ranging from atomic triggers and detonators to uranium fuel. Together, the technologies could make a type of atom bomb known as an implosion device, which is what senior staff members of the I.A.E.A. have warned that Iran is able to build.

Weapons based on implosion are considered advanced models compared with the bomb that the United States dropped on Hiroshima. In these devices, the detonation of a sphere of conventional explosives creates a blast wave that compresses a central ball of bomb fuel into a supercritical mass, starting the chain reaction that ends in a nuclear explosion.

Implosion designs, compact and efficient by nature, are considered necessary for making nuclear warheads small and powerful enough to fit atop a missile.

Iran has dismissed charges that it is pursuing such technologies as lies based on fabricated documents or real ones taken out of context. It insists that its atomic program is meant exclusively for such peaceful objectives as producing medical isotopes and electric power. The result has been a tense standoff.

Last week’s report said the director general of the I.A.E.A., Yukiya Amano, recently wrote to Iranian officials to reiterate the agency’s concerns about the arms evidence and request “prompt access” to a wide range of Iranian facilities and individuals.

The report said Mr. Amano “urges Iran to respond positively” in order to establish “the exclusively peaceful nature” of its program.

Official doubts about Tehran’s ambitions emerged publicly in 2002 and have resulted in four rounds of United Nations sanctions. To date, the penalties have failed to stop Iran from enriching uranium, which can fuel both reactors and atom bombs.

In 2009, senior staff members of the I.A.E.A. concluded in a confidential analysis that “Iran has sufficient information to be able to design and produce a workable implosion nuclear device” based on highly enriched uranium.

The new report includes some of the technical evidence behind that charge. It describes the sources of the information as “many member states” as well as its own efforts. Nuclear experts assume that much intelligence comes from Israel, the United States and Western Europe, though the I.A.E.A. in total has 151 member states.

The report cites concerns about undisclosed nuclear activities “past or current,” implying that the agency believes the Iranian arms program may still be moving ahead despite reports of its onetime suspension.

The seven categories of technology all bear on what can be interpreted as warhead design: how to turn uranium into bomb fuel, make conventional explosives that can trigger a nuclear blast, generate neutrons to spur a chain reaction and design nose cones for missiles.

Two diplomats familiar with the evidence, both of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity under the usual protocol, emphasized that no single one of the technologies stood out as indicating bomb work. Some, they conceded, have peaceful uses.

But the totality of the evidence, they said, suggested that Iran has worked hard on multiple fronts to advance the design of nuclear arms.

“It’s the whole variety of information,” one of the diplomats said. “You have to look at the whole thing.”

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