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27951  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Military Science on: April 15, 2007, 10:06:47 AM
The Pilotless Plane That Only Looks Like Child’s Play
Published: April 15, 2007

IF you’re the type of shopper who spends billions of dollars on lethal military gadgets, and you’re ever invited to visit General Atomics Aeronautical Systems — the small, privately held San Diego company that has quickly become one of the military industry’s most celebrated businesses — take a bit of advice: accept a ride on the corporate jet.

Thomas J. Cassidy Jr., left, president of General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, prepares for takeoff. He was commander of the Navy station that housed the “Top Gun” school. He even had a bit part in the movie.

The plane isn’t fancy. The cabin is cramped and the seats a little threadbare. (Want a beverage? Open the cooler, help yourself and quit whining about the heat.) Still, such bare-bones accoutrements haven’t stopped a parade of top military officials and politicians from clamoring for their own seats on General Atomics flights.

If you’re lucky, after the jet lands at the company’s airstrip in the high desert east of Los Angeles, you’ll tour one of the room-sized shipping containers clustered near the runway. Inside is a video-game addict’s idea of a cockpit, with joysticks, gauges and high-tech screens sprouting everywhere and a cushy chair that has improbably become one of the sexiest seats in the military. From that perch you can guide an unmanned airplane, known as the Predator, that is potentially thousands of miles away and can hover over suspected enemies for dozens of hours before raining down missiles.

For years, such planes — known as U.A.V.’s, for unmanned aerial vehicles — were pariahs within the military industry, scorned by commanders who saw them as threats to the status quo. But during the last several years, U.A.V.’s have amassed unusual political firepower. “For a long time, the only thing most generals could agree on was that they didn’t want any unmanned vehicles,” says Senator John W. Warner, the Virginia Republican who is a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. “Now everyone wants as many as they can get.”

In fact, only a decade ago, crucial Air Force commanders were lobbying to prevent battlefield deployment of U.A.V.’s, according to Congressional staff members. By 2005, however, John P. Jumper, then the Air Force chief of staff, had sufficiently about-faced to tell Congress that “we’re going to tell General Atomics to build every Predator they can possibly build.”

This transformation is, in many ways, a reflection of how the military’s priorities and goals have changed over the last decade. It is also a testament to how much clout General Atomics has amassed in a short period of time.

All of which raises another bit of advice if you’re visiting General Atomics: Don’t be late.

More than one official has learned the hard way that when the pilot of the General Atomics corporate jet says he’s flying back at noon, he means it. And that pilot is likely to be Thomas J. Cassidy Jr., a 34-year Navy veteran, former rear admiral, onetime commander of the station where the “Top Gun” flight school is based and now the president of General Atomics Aeronautical Systems. Mr. Cassidy’s belly may hang a bit over his belt now, but he’s so authentic that when the producers of the film “Top Gun” needed someone for a bit part who oozed power, they cast him.

Which is only fitting, for while General Atomics boasts elaborate technological gizmos and martial splendor, its authority also derives from its political savvy. In the last decade, the company has outgunned some of the nation’s biggest corporate heavyweights in the battle for prized military contracts. Soon, analysts say, Americans may rely on a host of General Atomics military devices, including magnetic cannons that use pulses of electricity to drop ammunition on distant targets, radar systems that can see through even the densest clouds and guns that shoot laser beams.

“Everyone talks about how the world has changed,” Mr. Cassidy says. “We’re building the technology for where it’s going.”

NO single moment marks the ascent of General Atomics. But to understand its rise and what that says about changes in military contracting, it helps to go way back, to a point before a pair of wealthy, intensely private brothers bought it, before General Dynamics spun it off, and before it even existed — to the 1930s and a group of angry German commanders plotting revenge.

After World War I, while France and other Allies were building military defenses modeled on trench warfare, German commanders were shaping a nimble fighting force. Using new technologies — like radio and fast-moving armored vehicles — they created the blitzkrieg, or “lightning war,” a strategy that allowed them to end-run their enemies’ trenches by using panzerdivizions — small, sprightly forces that revolutionized how battles were fought. In 1940, Germany toppled France in 20 days and the panzerdivizion symbolized war’s shift from drawn-out conflicts using massive fortifications to rapid-fire engagements built around manned, motorized armor.

Nearly 70 years later, the Predator and General Atomics reflect the military’s transformation from conflicts built around manned armor to strategies organized around surveillance. U.A.V.’s embody the potential for quick, relatively effortless wars fought by drones controlled from great distances, and thus have become lightning rods for battles over the military’s direction.


Page 2 of 4)

General Atomics, the progenitor of General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, started life in 1955 when a major military contractor, General Dynamics, feared that the military hardware market might dry up. It began exploring peacetime uses of atomic energy, but abandoned the effort when cold-war military spending took off. General Atomics eventually passed through the hands of a number of energy companies before landing in the lap of two Denver real estate moguls, Neal and Linden Blue, who bought it in 1986 for about $50 million.

At the time, a big part of the company’s revenue came from contracts focused on fusion experiments. (General Atomics, today a sister company to General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, still runs one of the world’s largest fusion programs.) But the Blue brothers wanted to pursue the fascination with airplanes and national security they had carried since they were students at Yale in the 1950s, Neal Blue said in an interview.
While still in college, they persuaded Life magazine to finance a trip around South America on a propeller-driven Tri-Pacer, in exchange for sending back photographs. After graduation, the brothers moved to Nicaragua to found a cocoa and banana plantation with the family of Luis Somoza Debayle, then Nicaragua’s president. (They were “enthusiastic supporters” of the United States-backed fight against Communism in Nicaragua during the 1980s, Mr. Blue said, though, he added, not formally involved.)

After serving in the Air Force, the brothers expanded their business holdings to include petroleum mines in Australia, natural gas wells in Canada, manufacturing concerns in the former East Germany and hundreds of acres of ranches in Arkansas, Colorado and California. Neal Blue, now the chairman of the company, said that both brothers have top-secret clearance with the United States government, but declined to discuss if they have worked for the Central Intelligence Agency.

All the while, they remained flying enthusiasts. Linden Blue served as president of Beech Aircraft from 1982 to 1984 and was briefly imprisoned by Fidel Castro after his private plane skirted Cuban airspace a few weeks before the Bay of Pigs incursion.

Soon after the brothers gained control of General Atomics in 1986, they unleashed their passion for advanced aviation by turning the company into a leading pioneer in drone warfare.

Military efforts to develop unmanned planes had existed for decades, but unreliable technology and shifting priorities had killed most of the programs. The Blues, however, were convinced that technological advances in microprocessing and global positioning systems had made it possible to build inexpensive, technologically reliable and ultralight unmanned airplanes that could stay aloft for days. They poured tens of millions of dollars into the project, eventually establishing a separate company, General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Neal Blue said.

At the time, the Defense Department was less enthusiastic.

“The military can react to new threats and new enemies very quickly, but there is a very high bar to shifting how forces are deployed, because a mistake can be catastrophic to national security,” said Andrew L. Ross, a professor of political science at the University of New Mexico. “Commanders are skeptical about machines that remove soldiers from the field.”

The Predator itself has offered critics some ammunition. One analyst estimates that 20 percent of all Predators sold to the United States military have crashed, because of errors by pilots controlling them from the ground. Another analyst, who has flown the aircraft but asked not to be identified to maintain his relationship with General Atomics, says they offer significantly less maneuverability than manned jets.

Another analyst who has studied the history of U.A.V.’s says the Predator has failed at some crucial tests.

“It has never done everything the military originally wanted it to do,” said Tom P. Ehrhard, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, a nonpartisan research organization. “It still fails on flight reliability, flight worthiness, the camera’s accuracy, the ability to fly through clouds. There are a whole series of operational limitations that normally would prevent a device like this from getting military adoption.”

Officials at General Atomics declined to discuss those and other criticisms in detail. An Air Force spokesman said that the number of Predator crashes had declined, and that the plane’s limitations had not prevented its combat use.

Another obstacle to military adoption of U.A.V.’s, say the Blues and others, is a dynamic even older than the panzerdivizion: resistance to innovations that threaten entrenched power structures.

“There is a very strong tendency to reward commanders for figuring out how to win the last war,” says Neal Blue. “The fiefdoms within the Department of Defense were built upon putting more people into airplanes or into the battlefield. Technologies that didn’t include cockpit pilots or moving soldiers were seen as unattractive.”


Page 3 of 4)

For its part, the Air Force disputes that turf wars ever impeded the Predator’s deployment. “It is hard to name any other aircraft that has accomplished so much in so little time, or that has had such an immediate impact on how we conduct combat operations,” it said in a statement. “It was the Air Force that gave birth to the concept that Predator could both find and attack fleeting targets, a concept that has paid huge dividends.”

The Blue brothers bought General Atomics in 1986 for $50 million. Neal Blue is now chairman.
Nonetheless, the Blues’ early attempts to find military supporters of U.A.V.’s during the 1980s and early ’90s met with little success.
“No fighter pilot is ever going to pick up a girl at a bar by saying he flies a U.A.V.,” says Andrew F. Krepinevich, a former Defense Department analyst who is executive director of the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments. “When defense contractors initially talked about U.A.V.’s, they advertised them as replacements for fighter pilots. Fighter pilots don’t want to be replaced.”

BUT, ultimately, fighter pilots don’t run the military. Politicians do. And when Bill Clinton entered the White House in 1993, there was already a sense among some elected officials that the military was stuck in cold-war thinking, according to members of Congress at the time.

Those politicians, however, were increasingly butting heads with Pentagon officials. And the military industry, which collected billions of dollars a year selling expensive jets and submarines, was in no rush to tell customers that they needed smaller, cheaper equipment.

So the politicians used stealth tactics. In 1993, John M. Deutch, a deputy defense secretary under President Clinton, invited Neal Blue to the Pentagon under the pretense of discussing fusion reactors. Mr. Blue said in an interview that when he walked in, he discovered an array of high-ranking officials waiting to hear about the Predator. Mr. Deutch asked how long it would take to deliver a flight-ready aircraft. Six months, Mr. Blue promised.

“We were looking for technologies that were sufficiently path-breaking that they offered justification for changing military doctrine,” Mr. Deutch recalled.

Flashy images helped, too. The live video feeds from cameras attached to Predators were transmitted to commanders and politicians back home.

“There was a lot of work to make sure that G.A.’s product made it to the battlefield before the bureaucracy could stop it,” said Representative Duncan L. Hunter of California, the ranking Republican on the House Armed Services Committee. “We knew that once we sent all those pictures to Washington, D.C., the debate would be over.”

After the Predators’ deployment in the Balkans conflict in the 1990s, the military’s support for them began to grow. Although many analysts were already suggesting that Predators could easily carry weapons — cruise missiles use similar technologies — General Atomics avoided even mentioning such possibilities until clients requested them.

“There was an unspoken deal. It was obvious the technology existed to make the Predator into more than just a surveillance platform,” said Daniel Goure, a defense analyst at the Lexington Institute, a military policy research group in northern Virginia. “But fighter pilots shoot the missiles, and fighter pilots have a lot of power within the Air Force. So G.A. made it clear pilots didn’t have to worry about Predators doing something they hadn’t asked for.”

(In the late 1990s, armed Predators were rolling off the assembly line two months after they were requested by Air Force commanders, according to company executives.)

After taking office in 2001, President George W. Bush gave his defense secretary, Donald H. Rumsfeld, a mandate to remake the military into a more technologically advanced organization, and U.A.V.’s became a top priority, say former department officials. The Sept. 11 attacks and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan heightened the push.

By the time a Predator-launched missile killed a suspected Al Qaeda leader in 2002, even the public was accustomed to hearing about unmanned planes’ successes. Voicing enthusiasm for U.A.V.’s became an easy way for the military brass to show that it had signed on to Mr. Rumsfeld’s program.

“Predators became emblematic of what Rumsfeld wanted,” said Loren B. Thompson, a military analyst at the Lexington Institute. “Suddenly, everyone was saying they were ordering Predators, whether they actually wanted them or not.”
27952  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Martial Art teacher gets 15 years for pledging to teach AQ on: April 14, 2007, 06:49:13 PM
Thank you for that. 

FWIW, although there are substantial and important areas of disagreement that I have with him, I found UHO to be an interesting guy who could handle himself very well and express himself quite lucidly in internet exchange.  Indeed I quoted him extensively in one of our threads on the Politics & Religion forum.

27953  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Another Fred Thompson part two on: April 14, 2007, 12:36:36 PM
Thompson also served as chairman of the Senate Government Relations Committee, which he used to investigate fundraising irregularities in the 1996 presidential election cycle. Republicans had high hopes that Thompson's inquiry would add to the political difficulties of the Clinton White House stemming from its malfeasance on campaign financing.

After the hearings ended, Fox News Channel's Brit Hume described Thompson as "flying high before his hearings . . . and shot down once they started and all the way through them."

Thompson says "the congressional investigative function is not a prosecutorial function" and acknowledges that the hearings produced "mixed result in many respects." He believes the criticism stems from the fact that "few people went to jail."

As Thompson considered his future, he began telling friends that he was not certain he wanted to seek reelection in 2002. He changed his mind after the attacks of September 11. Thompson, who served at the time on the Senate Intelligence Committee, announced in late September that he would run again. "Now is not the time for me to leave," he said. "This is the way now, it's perfectly clear, for me to contribute the most." He spent the next several weeks traveling to churches throughout Tennessee talking about the attacks and the coming U.S. response to them.

At a hearing of the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee on October 4, 2001, Thompson sounded a skeptical note about the prospect of reorganizing the federal homeland security bureaucracy. "The government, basically, cannot manage large projects very well," he said. "Maybe we can learn from our past experience with other government agencies and other crises and things of that nature and not make the same mistakes as we go about trying to rearrange these boxes and decide who reports to who and who has what authority. And maybe we'll take the lessons that we've learned from our other management problems in particular."

Then in late January 2002, his daughter Elizabeth Panici died suddenly following a heart attack. She was only 38. Thompson's friends say he was devastated. A month later he announced that he had changed his mind--he would not seek reelection. "I simply do not have the heart for another six-year term."

At a press conference after his announcement, he lashed out at the media for their intrusive coverage of his private life. "Every public official has to understand that he or she is a public official and that's the price you pay. For the most part, that's appropriate," he said. "That's the price your whole family pays. There are lines to be drawn. I think it's extremely unfortunate and uncalled for for the local newspaper to discuss the details of this. Her death obviously played in my decision, but the details of all of that, what news value does that have? Why did she have to pay that price? Why does her little five-year-old boy have to pay that price because her daddy chose to try to serve his state and his country? It's over the line and more like the National Enquirer-type stuff than anything else."

In his final months in the Senate, Thompson concentrated his efforts on legislation that would create the Department of Homeland Security. He fought efforts by Democrats to subject the new workforce to union and collective bargaining rules that apply to federal employees more broadly. The bill passed two weeks after the 2002 midterm elections, on a vote of 90-9.

"This is the most significant thing I've been involved in and certainly the most significant thing I've had my name on because it involves the main function of government, and that is protecting its citizens."

More than four years later, munching on a turkey sandwich and sour cream and onion potato chips at his dining room table, he displays an unusual willingness to second-guess his own decision. After Thompson criticized the growth of bureaucracy under the new director of national intelligence, I asked him why the new bureaucracy under Department of Homeland Security is any different.

"Well, to tell you the truth, in retrospect, we may conclude that it wasn't any different. But it got to the point where almost anything would have been an improvement," he says. "A lot of those agencies were in and of themselves dysfunctional, so bringing them together was not going to make everybody greater. . . . But you've got to start somewhere and you can't wait until everything is just right until you start coordinating. So we were kind of jumping aboard a moving train."

It was an admirably honest appraisal of what he once pointed to as the crowning achievement of his career in Congress. As we spoke, I was struck by the fact that Thompson didn't seem to be calibrating his answers for a presidential run. On issue after contentious issue, I got the sense from both his manner and the answers he gave me that he was just speaking extemporaneously. Many of his answers would drive a poll-watching political consultant nuts.

My suspicions were confirmed when Thompson asked at one point if he could have a transcript of our interview. "I found myself talking on some subjects that I haven't really thought that much about," he explained. "Oh, so this is what I think, huh?"

* Thompson says he came to respect George W. Bush during the 2000 campaign because of his plan to reform Social Security. Congressional Republicans considered the plan a political liability, and it went nowhere. Thompson says that although it was only tinkering on the margins of real reform, it was a good start. He won't share his own plan--"I'll roll that out at the appropriate time"--but the general principle he articulates sounds like a political risk.

"It's based upon the proposition that granddad and grandmom will be willing to sacrifice a little bit if they feel like it helps their grandkids avoid financial disaster, and that their sacrifice is not going to be wasted down some government rathole," he explains. "Under most plans, most good plans, you know current retirees probably would not be affected that much at all. . . . We've been operating under the assumption in this country that it's the third rail and that if you talk about it, those people who are most concerned about retirement programs will kill you. I don't think that's true."

* He believes that elements of the CIA were out to get Scooter Libby and his boss, Vice President Dick Cheney. Libby, though not the original leaker of the identity of CIA employee Valerie Plame, was convicted of lying and obstructing justice. "It makes me mad as the devil just to think about it," Thompson says. He had never met Libby when he volunteered to serve on the advisory board of the Scooter Libby Legal Defense Trust. Is Libby innocent? Thompson answers with one word. "Yes."

Do you think there will be negative political fallout from defending the convicted former chief of staff to an unpopular vice president?

"I have no idea. I have a hard time seeing it. If I'm wrong about the temperature of the American people on this, then I'm wrong about a lot of things about the American people. And we might as well find out."

* I asked him about his vote for the Iraq war and the Bush administration's failure to explain to the American public the real story of the prewar intelligence on Iraq. I ask Thompson how it is possible that a majority of the country believes the Bush administration lied about Iraqi WMD, when the U.S. intelligence community and the world consensus was that Saddam Hussein had these weapons.

"Part of it had to do with what has become almost a knee-jerk suspicion on the part of a lot of people with regards to anybody in authority," he says. And then he directly faults the Bush administration. "A part of it has been the administration's inability to sufficiently communicate the reality of the situation. It's not just the president. . . . You have to have an organized, pervasive ability to get your message across and rebut erroneous misstatements of the history. It is amazing to me how something like this could be perceived so erroneously by so many people. Because we all
 know what the facts are. We've all seen the statements and the comments of Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton, and the ranking Democrat on the intelligence committee, and the list goes on and on and on."

Thompson slips into sarcasm. "It is amazing to me how a man that they say is so dumb fooled so many real smart people. But that's what they're saying about Bush. Bush
 canoodled the entire Democratic establishment. Absurd on its face, and yet some people want to believe that sort of thing."

Then he goes on to give a better defense of the White House than anything that has come out of the White House communications shop in four years.

The irony here is that intelligence services had consistently over the years understated the capabilities of enemies and potential enemies. Now, here there was unanimity among the intelligence services, some of whom are supposed to be better than ours. . . . People don't understand intelligence. They don't understand. It's seldom clear. It's often caveated. It's sometimes flat-out wrong. Different people often have different ideas. That's what a president is faced with. And some today would say that politically a president has got to have unanimity before he can make a choice. And then they say that if he has that unanimity, the president has to make that choice--at the same time talking about how deficient our capabilities are. But if those deficient capabilities produced a recommendation, the president of the United States and leader of the free world has to take that recommendation. That has been so faulty in the past. It's absurd. Presidents in the future, as always, have to make a determination based on a lot of things, and intelligence is one of them. And the president not only has the right to evaluate the intelligence that he's receiving, he has a duty to do that. He listens to the British. I mean, if history was any judge, I don't know about now, but if the Brits tell me that there's an [Iraqi] deal with Niger and our guys don't know whether there was or not, I tend to rely on the Brits. I mean, those are the calls the president's got to make, and the question is really: Which way do you want the president to lean? Caution--that it's probably not so? When bad news is delivered, he gets mixed messages, he gets various intelligence reports of various kinds. Did you want him all balled up in all of that, you know, trying to apply some kind of a scientific equation to it for fear that somebody in an intelligence committee is going to wave it around at a hearing later on or something like that? Is that what it's come to? If so, the world is going to be a lot more dangerous than it otherwise already is. You've got to exercise the authority and the responsibilities that you've been given. I mean, in this debate over intelligence and what it is and what it ought to be and how it's used and all of that, you know, [it] needs to be dealt with and laid out in a way that people can understand it. . . . The next report says somebody's got weapons of mass destruction, you know what're we going to do with that? You know, just because history--a cat won't sit on a hot stove twice, but he won't sit on a cold stove either.
* He is equally blunt about Iran. Thompson says that the actions of the Iranian regime--harboring senior al Qaeda leaders, funding and training Iraqi insurgents, supplying terrorists in Iraq with devices that are killing American soldiers--are acts of war. He stops short of calling for a military response, but seems to suggest that he would be saying something different if circumstances were different.

"Unfortunately, today it can't be considered in isolation, so you have to take into consideration our capabilities and our priorities worldwide right now. And unfortunately we're stretched too thin." Nonetheless, he says, the long-term objective in Iran is the same one that led to the Iraq war. "I think the bottom line with Iran is that nothing is going to change unless there is a regime change."

* In the days since Thompson allowed that he was thinking about running for president, his views on abortion have come under scrutiny. Thompson finds the news reports from his first run for Senate perplexing.

"I have read these accounts and tried to think back 13 years ago as to what may have given rise to them. Although I don't remember it, I must have said something to someone as I was getting my campaign started that led to a story. Apparently, another story was based upon that story, and then another was based upon that, concluding I was pro-choice."

But, he adds: "I was interviewed and rated pro-life by the National Right to Life folks in 1994, and I had a 100 percent voting record on abortion issues while in the Senate."

Darla St. Martin, associate executive director of National Right to Life, supports Thompson on those claims. She traveled to Tennessee in 1994 to meet with him. "I interviewed him and on all of the questions I asked him, he opposed abortion," she told the American Spectator's Philip Klein.

Thompson says he thinks Roe v. Wade is bad law and should be overturned, but he says he does not support a Human Life Amendment.

One of the few times Thompson was unwilling to share his thoughts came when I asked him if he thought Rudy Giuliani was too liberal to win the Republican nomination and if Hillary Clinton could make a good president. The only question he would answer about his potential rivals concerned John McCain.

Thompson was one of four senators to support McCain in 2000 and served as the national co-chairman of his campaign. So I asked him why he's not supporting McCain again.

"You know the old joke about--what about me? As self-centered as that sounds, and it is, that ought to be the way it is." He adds: "Besides, you can't predict what's going to happen anyway, with any of them. Anybody could implode. Anybody could take off."

Before his appearance on Fox News Sunday, Thompson called McCain to let him know that he would announce that he was seriously considering a presidential bid. The conversation was friendly. "If we do this," he says, "we'll remain friends and we'll be friends after this."

There is considerable talk among the other Republican campaigns that the Thompson boomlet is driven by little more than celebrity. Maybe. But history suggests that Thompson may actually be underpolling right now. As was the case when he ran for office in Tennessee, he has a very recognizable face but his national name identity is actually quite low.

Gallup conducted a survey in late March asking respondents an open-ended question: "What comes to your mind when you think about former Tennessee senator Fred Thompson?" Sixty-seven percent of Republicans responded that they had no opinion of Thompson or were not familiar with him. And yet he shows up in the top three choices of potential Republican nominees in most of the polling that includes his name. As voters come to associate that name with a familiar and well-liked face, and if they get to see the personable Thompson on TV, Thompson strategists assume those polling numbers can only go up.

When Thompson met with Bill Frist at the Mayflower Hotel, they had important business to discuss. More than two years ago, Thompson had been diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. It is "indolent" lymphoma, a slow-growing form of the disease that is not usually symptomatic. If you're going to have one of the 33 varieties of lymphoma, Thompson says, this is the one you want. "It's easy to diagnose, easy to treat and easy to live with," Frist, a physician, confirms. But it sounds scary, the kind of thing that might spook potential primary voters if it were disclosed by an announced candidate.

"We thought we had to get it out early," says Frist, "in the sense that he's going to be announcing."

If Frist's acknowledgment that Thompson was going to run may have been a slip, Thompson's own words also suggest he's running. He says he understands "how hard it is, how difficult it is, how embarrassing it is, how intrusive it is." And he knows that as a candidate he could be subject to harsh attacks.

"That's the least of it anymore," he says. "It's not pleasant, but it's not that important anymore because you're straight with your family, you have a level of understanding and knowledge about your family, and they with you, and with the man upstairs, and that's that. You know, ain't really much past that. And it kind of frees you up in a way."

Yes, it does.

Stephen F. Hayes is a senior writer at THE WEEKLY STANDARD.

© Copyright 2007, News Corporation, Weekly Standard, All Rights Reserved. 
27954  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Another Fred Thompson on: April 14, 2007, 12:32:34 PM
 From the Courthouse
to the White House
Fred Thompson auditions for the leading role.
by Stephen F. Hayes
04/23/2007, Volume 012, Issue 30

A strange thing happened a few weeks back when I went to the Café Promenade at the Mayflower Hotel for an off-the-record interview with an unpaid adviser to the non-campaign of unannounced presidential candidate Fred Thompson.

Fred Thompson showed up.

Thompson was there to have lunch with Ed Gillespie, former chairman of the Republican National Committee and a powerhouse consultant with ties to the White House. The two men worked together in the fall of 2005 on the confirmation of Supreme Court nominee John Roberts. Thompson had invited Gillespie to lunch to discuss a potential presidential bid.

On March 11, just a week before, Thompson had appeared on Fox News Sunday and told Chris Wallace that he was giving "serious consideration" to running for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination. Ever since, advisers on other campaigns have tried to figure out how he'll affect the race if he runs.

Several patrons in the restaurant recognized Thompson. One well-dressed man with thick white hair approached him for an autograph. It's possible that this man wanted the autograph because Thompson served for eight years as a senator from Tennessee. But it's more likely that he wanted a memento of the day he ate at the same restaurant as Arthur Branch, the sagacious district attorney on Law & Order; Law & Order: Special Victims Unit; Law & Order: Criminal Intent; Law & Order: Trial by Jury; and Conviction, a spin-off of, well, you can probably guess. The same man returned to the table twice more. Each time Thompson put his conversation on hold and graciously tolerated the interruption.

After an hour, Thompson and Gillespie--currently chairman of the Republican party of Virginia--rose and left the restaurant. Ten minutes later, Thompson walked back in with former senator Bill Frist. They were led to a different table, but Thompson's waitress was the same. She laughed as she took his new order. Thompson says this second lunch was unplanned. Although he and Frist talk daily, the two Tennesseans met this time by chance. Finding they both had gaps in their schedules, they spent the next two hours at Café Promenade talking about a Fred Thompson for President campaign.

There is some discontent among Republicans with the current choices for the party's nominee in 2008. The complaints are well known: Senator John McCain, the maverick Republican, is too much maverick and not enough Republican. Former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani is thought to be too willful and too liberal: He recently suggested he would allow his new wife to attend cabinet meetings and reaffirmed his support for federal funding of abortion. Mitt Romney seems pleasant and competent, but pleasant and competent doesn't beat Hillary Clinton. Senator Sam Brownback is unknown and uncharismatic. And former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee is from Arkansas.

According to an adviser to one of the leading candidates, the rationale for a Thompson run is best illustrated--as so many things are--by The Simpsons. In one episode, Homer Simpson's civic-minded neighbor Ned Flanders tells a large crowd of fellow Springfield citizens that they must choose someone to lead an anticrime campaign in the town.

"Who should lead the group?"

"You," shouts a man from the crowd. The entire mob begins to chant.

"Flanders! Flanders! Flanders!"

When Flanders humbly begins to explain that he doesn't have much experience in such matters, Moe the Bartender cuts him off.

"Someone else!"

The crowd joins in.

"Someone else! Someone else! Someone else!"

One obvious advantage Fred Thompson has is that he's someone else.

In recent Republican presidential preference polls, Thompson tends to run third, behind Giuliani and McCain but ahead of Romney and the rest of the field. In a Bloomberg/Los Angeles Times poll released last week, Thompson came in second, just ahead of McCain, with support from 15 percent of those surveyed. In late March, Thompson won a straw poll of Republicans in conservative Gwinnett County, Georgia, earning more votes than all of the other candidates combined. And Iowa Republican party executive director Chuck Laudner told the Washington Times, "He's the biggest buzz in the state."

Representative Zach Wamp, a fellow Tennesseean who is running an effort to "Draft Fred," tells me he expects 60 congressional Republicans to show up early next week at a meet-and-greet with Thompson. Mark Corallo, who has volunteered to answer press inquiries for Thompson, has been getting dozens of calls each day--not only from reporters, but from Republicans around the country who have seen his name in the newspaper and tracked him down at his private consulting firm to sign up for a Thompson campaign. Politicians are reaching out to Bill Frist to offer their support. Says Frist: "I have governors who have called me, fundraisers I've known from my days as majority leader who are ready to go."

All of this, for a candidate who has not yet announced for anything.

Last week, I went to Thompson's home in the verdant Washington suburb of McLean, Virginia, to talk to him about his prospective presidential run. We spoke for more than four hours about his life in Tennessee, his family, his acting career, his foray into politics, and his future.

I was 30 minutes late. Thompson, who was on the phone with Howard Baker, his political mentor, didn't seem to care. He hung up, extended his large hand, offered a friendly greeting, and led me to his office. We were alone. Thompson's work space looks just like what the home office of a successful politician or CEO should look like--though a little messier: a large desk, dark wood, leather furniture, lots of books and magazines and newspapers, a flat-screen TV, and box upon box of cigars--Montecristos from Havana.

The presence of the cigars and the absence of a press chaperone were clues that Thompson is taking a different approach to his potential candidacy. A campaign flack would have insisted on hiding the cigars--Senator, how did you get those Cuban cigars? Isn't there a trade embargo?--and might have dampened Thompson's natural candor. On subjects ranging from Social Security to abortion, the CIA and to Iran, there would be lots of candor over the next several hours.

And by the end of the conversation, two unexpected realities had emerged. If he joins the race for the Republican nomination, and if he campaigns the same way he spoke to me last week, Fred Thompson, a mild-mannered, slow-talking southern gentleman, will run as the politically aggressive conservative that George W. Bush hasn't been for four years. And the actor in the race could well be the most authentic personality in the field.

Thompson seems to recognize that he wins the guy-I'd-want-to-get-a-beer-with primary the moment he announces. He comes across as a regular guy--"folksy" will be the political cliché that attaches to his candidacy--and punctuates explanations of his positions with the kind of off-the-cuff homespun witticisms that Dan Rather spent a career trying to come up with.

We sat facing each other in leather armchairs, and after some small talk I asked him what life was like growing up in Lawrenceburg, Tennessee. He began talking, and about 30 minutes later it was already 1994 and he was about to be elected to the U.S. Senate. I'd tried to interrupt with questions here and there, but he had a story he was determined to tell.

It's a good story. Thompson was born in Alabama and lived for most of his young life in Middle Tennessee. His father sold used cars and his mother took care of the house. Neither one graduated from high school, although Thompson's father earned his high school equivalency certificate later in life. His family ate dinner every night at 6:00 P.M. "It was like clockwork," he says. Thompson was not a great student in high school. At one point, he says, several of his teachers worked together to strip him of the title given to him by a vote of his peers--Most Athletic--because his grades were substandard. His father was something of a jokester, but also when necessary a disciplinarian.

"I grew up not having anything to live up to from an economic or professional standpoint, but having a lot to live up to from a growing-up and becoming-a-man standpoint," says Thompson.

That example would be important at a young age. Thompson married his high school sweetheart at 17, and together they enrolled at Memphis State University, where he studied philosophy and political science. Thompson worked several jobs to put himself through college and support a growing family.

"I sold clothing," he says. "I sold shoes. I sold baby shoes. I sold ladies shoes. I worked in a factory."

His wife's uncle and grandfather were both lawyers, and Thompson says he wanted to live up to the professional standards of her family. The law school at Vanderbilt University had seemed an unattainable goal for an underachieving high school student from a family without means. But it was a goal nonetheless. Thompson got serious academically as an undergraduate, and won admission.

Once a lawyer, he had a brief stint with the U.S. attorney's office, then went into private practice--"hung out my shingle," he says--and volunteered to work for Howard Baker's reelection campaign for Senate in 1972. Shortly after Baker returned to Washington he asked Thompson to join him for what he thought would be a short-term project. A special committee had been established to look into the Committee to Reelect President Richard M. Nixon, and Baker, the panel's top Republican, asked Thompson to serve as minority counsel. Thompson could often be seen at Baker's side as the investigation grew from a routine oversight hearing into the proceedings that would cause a president to resign. Thompson, who wrote a book about his experiences called At That Point in Time: The Inside Story of the Senate Watergate Committee, asked the question that led to the revelation of the White House taping systems. "Mr. Butterfield, are you aware of the installation of any listening devices in the Oval Office of the President?" And Thompson is often credited with feeding Baker the line that would become one of the most famous of an era: "What did the president know and when did he know it?"

Thompson says he passed up several offers with big Washington law firms to return to Nashville, where he entered a private practice with two law school classmates. He took the case of Marie Ragghianti, the head of Tennessee's Parole and Pardons Board. Ragghianti had grown concerned about what she saw as a pattern of suspicious pardons ordered from the office of Governor Ray Blanton. Her suspicions were later confirmed and Blanton was forced from office in a cash-for-clemency scandal that continued until his last day.

Peter Maas, author of Serpico, turned Marie Ragghianti's story into a book creatively titled Marie and published in 1983. Director Roger Donaldson bought the movie rights and came to Nashville to interview the major players. After meeting Thompson, Donaldson asked him if he'd like to play himself in the movie. Thompson agreed.

Over the next two decades, Thompson would appear in dozens of films and television shows as a character actor, often one who personifies government strength. It is a role that seems to fit. "Literally, I don't think Fred ever acts," says Tom Ingram, a longtime friend from Tennessee who now serves as chief of staff to Senator Lamar Alexander. "He played himself in Marie, and he's been playing himself ever since."

When Donaldson needed someone to play the role of CIA director in his next film, No Way Out, he turned to Thompson. A string of movies followed: The Hunt for Red October, Days of Thunder, Die Hard 2, Curly Sue, Cape Fear, In the Line of Fire. And there were cameo appearances on TV's Matlock and later Sex and the City.

Thompson never moved to Hollywood, choosing to stay in Tennessee, where he continued to practice law and remained involved in Republican politics. When Al Gore was elected vice president, Tennessee's Democratic governor, Ned McWherter, appointed one of his top advisers to serve until the 1994 elections, when a replacement would be elected to fill the final two years of Gore's term. Thompson's name came up early, and eventually, in July 1993, he filed papers for an exploratory committee.

Thompson knew from the beginning that it would be a difficult race. His opponent was Jim Cooper, a popular conservative Democrat who had developed a national reputation as a legislative expert on health care, widely considered one of the country's most important issues. Thompson started the race well behind Cooper. He told the Memphis Commercial-Appeal that he was a moderate Republican. The reporter who interviewed Thompson described him as "pro-choice," but noted that he supported restrictions on abortion at the state level and opposed federal funding. (A 1994 story in National Review also described Thompson as pro-choice.)

In a poll taken in February 1994, 36 percent of those surveyed said they would vote for Cooper, while just 17 percent supported Thompson. The Hotline, a Washington-based digest on campaigns and elections, reported the poll results under the headline: "They Know Thompson's Face, But Not His Name." It would prove to be an accurate diagnosis of Thompson's difficulties.

"For a year, I didn't scratch," Thompson says, looking back.

At the low point, Thompson met at a Cracker Barrel with Ingram. Thompson told his friend that he wasn't having any fun campaigning and was pessimistic about his chances to win. He was considering dropping out. Thompson had had it with the rubber-chicken Republican dinners and the rigors of campaigning across the state. "Fred was beleaguered by the traditional way of running for office," Ingram remembers. "He was expressing his misery over things."

Ingram had a question for Thompson: What would you do if you ran the way you wanted to run? Thompson thought for a minute, then said he'd shed as much of the campaign apparatus as possible and drive around the state in a pick-up truck. Ingram suggested he do just that, and Thompson thought it a good recommendation. Thompson would soon be known for his red pick-up truck. Cooper's campaign complained that it was a Hollywood-style gimmick designed to make Thompson look down to earth, and it surely was that. "But it was more than a device," Ingram insists. "It made Fred comfortable as a candidate. He felt liberated to just be himself."

Thompson ran on a strong small-government--even antigovernment--message. "America's government is bringing America down, and the only thing that can change that is a return to the basics," he said. "We will get back to basics and make the sacrifices and once again amaze the world at how, in America, ordinary people can do very extraordinary things." Thompson emphasized issues that would appeal to disaffected voters--making laws apply to the members of Congress who pass them; congressional pay raises; entitlement reform.

It was a message that began to resonate. Two months before the election, a poll by national Republicans put the race dead even. And as Thompson increased his advertising--allowing voters to put his famous face together with his name--he took the lead, and it grew. "Some people knew me and knew my face, but I started out 20 points behind" he says. "I just had to work at it until I raised enough money to go on television and then I went up pretty fast." Cooper asked for and was given free air-time for his ads after stations played movies starring Thompson. But it was too late.

Thompson won 61 percent of the vote, Cooper just 39 percent. Part of the explanation was that Thompson was swept along in the historic Republican tide of 1994. But Cooper would later say that he'd underestimated the political importance of Thompson's film career. "He was in so many movies," Cooper told the Nashville Tennesseean in 2002. "I should have been more worried than I was because that is a powerful way to present yourself to the public."

Thompson's new colleagues in Washington immediately tried to capitalize on his ability to communicate. Bob Dole, recently elevated to Senate majority leader, picked Thompson to present the televised Republican response to a national address by President Bill Clinton.

On Christmas Day, 1994, Thompson was a guest on ABC's This Week. Sam Donaldson opened the interview by telling viewers that while they might not know the name Fred Thompson, they might recognize his face. "I want to just show people how accomplished you are, because if they have been sitting at home saying, 'You know, I know this guy, I know this guy,' there's a reason," he said, before playing clips of the actor.

Thompson was at his most self-deprecating. "When they needed some middle-aged guy who'd work cheap, they'd call me for a little part and I'd go out there two or three weeks and knock one out," he explained to Donaldson.

Donaldson asked Thompson why he was chosen to give the GOP response to Clinton. "I want to keep boring in on this question of--perhaps you were chosen because the Republican leaders said, 'Fred Thompson is not just another pretty face.' I mean, Fred Thompson--"

"That's for sure."

Then Donaldson asked Thompson about presidential politics. "Who are the Republicans going to put up to run for the presidency in two years?"

"I think that it's going to be wide open," Thompson replied. "I think that there's at least a half a dozen people out there. There might be someone that hasn't been mentioned."

"Let me give you a name," Donaldson pressed. "Let me give you a name: Fred Thompson. Senator Fred Thompson."

Thompson found the suggestion amusing. "There's one thing, I think, for certain that I've observed around here over the period of time that I've been here, and watching all this for years, and that is when people come to town, somewhere along the line, if they do anything at all, if they're shown to be able to put one foot in front of the other, they're mentioned for the national ticket. So now you've mentioned me, and I appreciate it, so we can move on to more serious topics."

Thompson had not yet been sworn in.

In eight years in the Senate, Thompson developed a reputation for an independent streak, yet he compiled a voting record more conservative than one might expect of one who had described himself as a moderate in his first campaign. Over the course of his time in Congress he earned a lifetime rating by the American Conservative Union of 86 percent. He was not quite as conservative (using 2002 numbers) as Rick Santorum (87), Strom Thurmond (91), Trent Lott (93), or Jesse Helms (99), but more conservative than Arlen Specter (42), Olympia Snowe (52), John Warner (82), and John McCain (84).

His voting record suggests a strong belief in federalism. Thompson was frequently a lonely voice opposing the federalization of what in his view were state issues. His unwillingness to compromise on that principle even put him on the losing end of a 99-to-1 vote on the so-called Good Samaritan law, legislation that protected individuals from being sued if their good faith efforts to help someone in distress were unsuccessful. He thought it should have been left to the states.
27955  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Die Less Often 2 trailer-- ruff edit on: April 14, 2007, 10:08:13 AM
Woof All:

Here is a ruff edit of the trailer for "Die Less Often 2":

27956  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: What does Kali Tudo Groundwork have in store for us?? on: April 14, 2007, 10:02:11 AM
Woof Tom:

For the moment I think I will keep my cards close to my vest  wink  At the moment the intention is to shoot "Kali Tudo 2" this summer.

I've heard of Eddie Bravo and his rubber guard, but do not know much about it.  Roy Harris has an excellent reputation, but again I do not know much about his particular approach.  Machado BB and Inosanto Blend man Chris Hauter introduced me to the Machados back in 1990.  Its been several years since I've seen what Chris is up to, but I always found him to be very innovative in his thinking and approach.

27957  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Martial Art teacher gets 15 years for pledging to teach AQ on: April 14, 2007, 09:55:17 AM
SB Mig et al.

In the year 2000 I received a very brief email from an email address in Syria asking for knife training.  I asked who they were and they replied that they were a "Syrian kickboxing club".   I did not respond further and have always wondered who they were , , ,
I have received other inquiries which also had my spider sense tingling and have acted accordingly.

In answer to your specific questions:

1) I do gage to the best of my ability and have deflected away some people.

2) To "ensure" is not possible.  One can only do one's best.   IMHO we also need to keep in mind that there is lots of lethal info out there and that virtue does not consist of fighting it by defanging one's self.  I do believe that a society of sheeple is more likely to have problems than a society where criminals, Islamo-fascists, etc must fear the capabilities of a righteous unorganized militia.

3) One part of the answer for me is that with our Die Less Often material is that I orient the answer around defending the knife attack as is commonly done by thug culture.  Thus, unless I feel confident about who is in the room, I do not show what thug culture already does not know.  I also seek to anchor the material continuously with higher consciousness values.

You may remember a thread here on this forum where I asked about finding out about people's criminal records.  Unfortunately it seems that getting someone's records is either illegal, really expensive and/or a great pain in the ass (e.g. records are county by county).  The logic of this eludes me.  To me it seems quite sound for criminal records to be a matter of easily accessible information to one and all.

4) We can only do the best we can-- and must avoid letting the perfect become the enemy of the good.   FWIW I see my posting of this thread as an example of raising consciousness about these issues.  The more we the unorganized militia think about these things, the better I suspect we will do in making good choices.


What can you tell us about what has happened with the Silat Mubai people?  What news of their leader (Usatz Hussein Udom or something like that?) 

Concerning mixing martial arts and politics, at the moment my thinking is that for some arts (e.g. submission grappling) keeping them separate is possible.  Others, e.g. Kali/FMA because of their weaponry orientation, need to be careful about how they go about things.  Western civilization in general and the United States in particular are being targetted by world-wide Islamo-fascism.   In many circumstances, the skills and knowledge of our art would be ideal for the killers of Islamo-fascism and we must be vigilant.

The Adventure continues,
Crafty Dog

27958  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Fred Thompson on: April 14, 2007, 09:19:08 AM
Case Closed
Tax cuts mean growth.

Saturday, April 14, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

It's that time again, and I was thinking of the old joke about paying your taxes with a smile. The punch line is that the IRS doesn't accept smiles. They want your money.

So it's not that funny, but there is reason to smile this tax season. The results of the experiment that began when Congress passed a series of tax-rate cuts in 2001 and 2003 are in. Supporters of those cuts said they would stimulate the economy. Opponents predicted ever-increasing budget deficits and national bankruptcy unless tax rates were increased, especially on the wealthy.

In fact, Treasury statistics show that tax revenues have soared and the budget deficit has been shrinking faster than even the optimists projected. Since the first tax cuts were passed, when I was in the Senate, the budget deficit has been cut in half.

Remarkably, this has happened despite the financial trauma of 9/11 and the cost of the War on Terror. The deficit, compared to the entire economy, is well below the average for the last 35 years and, at this rate, the budget will be in surplus by 2010.

Perhaps the most fascinating thing about this success story is where the increased revenues are coming from. Critics claimed that across-the-board tax cuts were some sort of gift to the rich but, on the contrary, the wealthy are paying a greater percentage of the national bill than ever before.

The richest 1% of Americans now pays 35% of all income taxes. The top 10% pay more taxes than the bottom 60%.

The reason for this outcome is that, because of lower rates, money is being invested in our economy instead of being sheltered from the taxman. Greater investment has created overall economic strength. Job growth is robust, overcoming trouble in the housing sector; and the personal incomes of Americans at every income level are higher than they've ever been.

President John F. Kennedy was an astute proponent of tax cuts and the proposition that lower tax rates produce economic growth. Calvin Coolidge and Ronald Reagan also understood the power of lower tax rates and managed to put through cuts that grew the U.S. economy like Kansas corn. Sadly, we just don't seem able to keep that lesson learned.
Now, as before, politicians are itching to fund their pet projects with the short-term revenue increases that come from tax hikes, ignoring the long-term pain they always cause. Unfortunately, the tax cuts that have produced our record-breaking government revenues and personal incomes will expire soon. Because Congress has failed to make them permanent, we are facing the worst tax hike in our history. Already, worried investors are trying to figure out what the financial landscape will look like in 2011 and beyond.

This issue is particularly important now because massive, unfunded entitlements are coming due as the baby-boom generation retires. We simply cannot afford higher taxes if we want an economy able to bear up under the strain of those obligations. And beyond the issue of our annual federal budget is the nearly $9 trillion national debt that we have not even begun to pay off.

To face these challenges, and any others that we might encounter in a hazardous world, we need to maintain economic growth and healthy tax revenues. That is why we need to reject taxes that punish rather than reward success. Those who say they want a "more progressive" tax system should be asked one question:

Are you really interested in tax rates that benefit the economy and raise revenue--or are you interested in redistributing income for political reasons?

Mr. Thompson is a former Republican senator from Tennessee whose commentaries, "The Fred Thompson Report," can be heard on the ABC Radio network.
27959  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: the titles of the teachers in the fillipino martial arts on: April 14, 2007, 09:04:48 AM
The following was posted on the Eskrima Digest-- please do not infer an opinion on my part!

I am very excited to announce that a book called "CEBUANO ESKRIMA: Beyond
the myth" written by Ned R. Nepangue, M.D. and Celestino C. Macachor. Here
is a brief synopsis:

  * Cebuano Eskrima: Beyond the Myth boldly unravels with compelling and
    provocative hypothesis on the Hispanic origins of the Filipino
    Martial Arts known as eskrima, arnis and estokada

      * The last vestiges of the extinct European medieval fencing could
        be found indirectly linked to Filipino eskrima

          * The authors present prima facie evidence on the fraud of the
            supposedly precursor art called kali

              * A more plausible theory on the origins of eskrima are
                presented in startling detail from its early beginnings
                as a defense against Moro pirates and slave traders and
                its later fusion with Spanish fencing through the Jesuit
                warrior priests during the pivotal years 1635-1644, the
                height of Spanish rapier fencing in Europe during the

                  * It also presents a comprehensive chronology on the
                    development of eskrima in Cebu, a meticulous
                    commentary of Cebuano pioneers and innovators of
                    eskrima and elucidates the pre-eminence of Visayans
                    in the art of eskrima / arnis / estokada

                      * As both authors are practitioners of this martial
                        art, technicalities in eskrima never before
                        detailed in other materials on the subject are
                        carefully discussed in the book

                          * Other interesting topics related to eskrima
                            like the esoteric practices and healing
                            modalities are also explained in fascinating

                        If you are interested feel free to email me at
               and will send the details
                        to you. Thank you. Respectfully,Jason AutajayLos
                        Angeles Chapter, United States Eskrima De Campo
27960  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Carlos Vamos on: April 14, 2007, 01:21:21 AM
plays "Little Wing"  shocked
27961  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in Europe on: April 13, 2007, 09:53:13 PM,00.html


Bin Laden's Eurofighters

By Yassin Musharbash
242 jihadists, 31 attacks, 28 networks. After examining militant Islamism in Europe, researchers have found that self-recruitment is on the rise among terrorist leader Osama bin Laden's Eurofighters, and that there is no such thing as a standard terrorist.
Dutch researchers Edwin Bakker and Teije Hidde Donker had an ambitious goal in mind when they wrote: "We must find out who the jihadists are, where they come from and what they look like." Although they were not able to answer that question in its entirety, their study, "Jihadi Terrorists in Europe," does offer plenty of fascinating results.
They researched the stories of 242 people who, between 2001 and 2006, were organized in 28 networks, planned 31 attacks and, in some cases, executed or allegedly executed these attacks. (Some are still considered presumed terrorists because their cases are still pending.) The list includes little known plots, such as the attempt to attack the Spanish Supreme Court in 2004, as well as prominent terrorist attacks, including the murder of Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh in 2004 and the 2005 London bus and subway bombings.

Photo Gallery: Bin Laden's Eurofighters

Click on a picture to launch the image gallery (5 Photos)

One of the most important findings of the Dutch study is that there are no standard jihadists. According to the researchers, the 28 networks they identified differ considerably from one another. In some cases, authorities were dealing with individual attackers, whereas more than 30 people were involved in the 2004 bombings of trains in Madrid. The data also cover a wide range when it comes to the attackers' ages. The youngest was 16 and the oldest 59, which makes the average age of 27.3 years not especially meaningful.
Homogeneous cells
Internally, however, the cells are surprisingly homogeneous. Pakistanis generally get together with Pakistanis, Moroccans with Moroccans and -- as in the case of -- Lebanese with Lebanese. Most jihadists are men. Only five women appear in the study.
There are also few differences when it comes to goals and methods. Transportation systems were by far the most common targets, and in many cases explosives were the weapons of choice. The choice of specific targets was consistently perfidious: the plans were directed exclusively against civilian facilities or civilians themselves. Of the 242 jihadists, 11 were suicide bombers -- and they were the ones who committed the most devastating attacks.
Great Britain and the Netherlands have proven to be at the greatest risk during the period studied, with 12 of the networks operating in Great Britain, seven in the Netherlands, four in France and three each in Spain and Belgium.
Searching for a profile
By far the most interesting aspect of Bakker's and Hidde Donker's study is their analysis of the origins and radicalization of the attackers and presumed terrorists.
A total of 29 nationalities are represented, but there are clear clusters. The 55 Algerians in the study make up almost one-fourth of the entire sample. Together with other North Africans, they account for more than half of those studied. They were most likely to be active in those countries where many of their countrymen had settled: France, Spain and Belgium.
The second largest group consisted of 24 attackers of Pakistani ethnic origin whose attacks were planned primarily for Great Britain.
The Dutch data are even more meaningful when compared with a study by US researcher Marc Sagemann, who presented a similar analysis of international terrorists with ties to al-Qaida in 2004. The Dutch researchers also provided such a comparison, and it clearly points out that the European jihadists are already part of a different generation than those in Sagemann's sample.
His jihadists were mainly Arabs, especially Saudis and Egyptians, who went abroad. Seventy percent of them became radicalized outside the country in which they had previously lived. The situation is reversed among al-Qaida's Eurofighters: More than 80 percent of them found their way to armed jihad in the country in which they lived.
Radicalization with friends and family
These numbers indicate that the impact of Afghan training camps on radicalization has since been largely offset.
Bakker and Hidde Donker summarize the issue of radicalization as follows: Their group of jihadists differs "fundamentally from the global mujaheddin." This conclusion is also supported in other ways-- by the realization, for example, that the jihadists who became active in Europe "radicalized with little outside interference, ...often together with friends and family members."
What this boils down to is that these Euro-terrorists are recruiting themselves. The Internet plays an important role in this process. Many of the jihadists featured in the study obtained al-Qaida propaganda via the Internet, especially in the last few months leading up to their attacks.
This reinforces a fear security officials have long had: The radicalization phase is becoming shorter and shorter.
Another difference between the Dutch study and Sagemann's results is also disconcerting: 58 jihadists were noticed by the police before their planned attacks -- almost one-fourth of the sample and far more than in Sagemann's study. Small-time criminals are apparently finding their way into al-Qaida in Europe more often today than in the past.
A higher proportion of converts than in the Sagemann study (a total of 14, including 13 former Christians and one former Hindu) also confirms that there are more detours on the road to jihadism than there were in the past.
New generation of European jihadists is a fact
Despite all the interesting details, a profile cannot be derived from the data. The types of attackers are too diverse. Perhaps the most useful fact for the purpose of profiling is that so many terrorism suspects were minor criminals in the past.
The authors of the study believe that they have confirmed that "homegrown terrorism" is the new megatrend among Europe's jihadists. However, the debate among terrorism experts is currently moving away from this term again, now that investigations of the July 2005 London bombings revealed connections to Pakistan and possibly the central leadership of al-Qaida. These ties contradict the conclusion that the attackers acted entirely on their own.
But the real value of the study is likely to lie elsewhere: in the simple analysis of what has already happened. For example, the light the study sheds on the trends among active terrorists in selecting targets in Europe is helpful in prevention, as is the empirically backed conclusion that there is a correlation between propaganda on the Internet and rapid radicalization.
Most of all, what the study shows is that most attackers who commit acts of terror in Europe first developed into jihadists within European societies, and in most cases completely without any prior battlefield experience and without having attended terrorist training camps.
The "new generation" of jihadists in Europe is not the writing on the wall, but reality.
27962  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Internet and related technology on: April 13, 2007, 09:45:51 PM
The Wireless Wars
April 13, 2007; Page A13

The 10-year war mounted by EU bureaucrats and Europe's communications giants against America's leading wireless technology innovator, Qualcomm, is now reaching a climax. On Monday, Nokia refused to renew licenses on next generation technology following EU ally Broadcom's suit at the International Trade Commission to bar import of cellphones containing Qualcomm chips from factories in Taiwan.

A decade ago, with its single, unifying cellphone standard known as GSM, Europe led the world in mobile communications. But threatened by Qualcomm's CDMA breakthrough, the Europeans launched a ferocious political and PR offensive, hoping to scare off potential customers of the young American firm. The technology was all hype, they said; it "violated the laws of physics."

When Qualcomm proved them wrong and its mobile technology deployed across the U.S. and Korea, Europe went to plan B. They excluded the Americans from the standards process for third-generation, or 3G, technology, battled in the courts, and mandated their "new" system for all of Europe. But in fact, the new European and Japanese standard, called Wideband CDMA, was essentially a copy of the American CDMA system.

We've come a long way.
With the new mobile system flourishing -- accommodating many times more voice callers and beating the previous generation in security, dropped calls and data -- everyone finally admitted that the American company had a lock on the fundamental technologies. The Europeans and Japanese licensed the American technology, CDMA and its sibling WCDMA, assuring that it would be the future of wireless mobile communications, an industry now selling a billion handsets a year.

Today, however, with those 3G licenses coming up for renewal and a fourth generation of wireless in sight, Europe is once again pushing the political levers to control the future -- this time with the unwitting assistance of the U.S. government. Although their immediate target is U.S. dominance in cellphone technology, a collateral victim would be the U.S. broadband economy.

Until recently, the obscure International Trade Commission played a minor role in the enforcement of patents. But with a Supreme Court ruling in 2006 making it more difficult for patent holders to win federal court injunctions against violators, complainants can now turn to the ITC. Unfortunately, complainants can also use an intellectual-property dispute as a cover for enmeshing competitors in the protectionist mazes of international trade law.

And that is what's happened to Qualcomm, the titan of U.S. intellectual property in wireless, with close to 5,700 patents on the next generation of cellphones and wireless data systems around the globe. Attempting to upend the San Diego titan's well-earned dominance are Broadcom and its European "Gang of Six" sponsors.

At a recent ITC public hearing, Broadcom CEO Scott MacGregor declared that the U.S. wireless telecom system would function better if it completely capitulated to the European standard. The Broadcom campaign began in May 2001 when it purchased, from an obscure bar-code and RFID company called Intermec, a set of three flimsy patents that they are now attempting to use to block the importation of all Qualcomm wireless data chips incorporating its (Qualcomm's) state-of-the-art data system called EV-DO.

EV-DO chips not only make mobile voice-over-IP possible, but they also allow cellphones to function more like multimedia computers, carrying eight to 10 times more data than previous technology. At the ITC public hearing, Verizon Vice President Richard Lynch noted that without EV-DO, "handsets go back to being voice and text."

Not coincidentally, Qualcomm recently announced an upgrade to EV-DO that permits transmissions at up to 9.3 megabits a second, a broadband service faster than U.S. wireline services and fast enough to permit mobile TV and streaming music with simultaneous voice and VoIP calling.

The Broadcom action is part of a campaign, reaching from Seoul through Brussels and cropping up in courts from New Jersey to California, to bring down Verizon's and Sprint's aggressive expansion programs for their EV-DO networks. The EU has its sights set on Qualcomm: The Eurocrats contend that with 20% of global market share in cell-phone technology, Qualcomm is a monopolist, guilty of the sin of inventing new systems needed for successful mobile Internet data access.

At stake in the litigation is who will control the next two phases of wireless technology -- 3G and 4G. Nokia's action on licenses is part of this coordinated attack.

However, with no commercially available alternatives to the Qualcomm EV-DO chips that Broadcom wants to block, the administrative law judge who considered Broadcom's claims noted that a "significant financial burden" falling on third parties, including handset manufacturers, wireless carriers and consumers, "weighed heavily" against categorical exclusion of cellphones containing the chips, which would take at least two years to replace.

And there's the rub. Wireless has become the largest source of profits for nearly all major telcos; and a paralysis on the wireless front would reverberate throughout the American broadband economy.

Verizon's mobile phones, for example, are about two-and-a-half times more profitable than its wireline phones. For the most recent quarter, Verizon Wireless profits were $804 million, while wireline profits were $393 million. AT&T affirmed the strategic importance of wireless last year when it acquired BellSouth for $67 billion. All analysts agreed AT&T's chief interest in BellSouth was the remaining 40% ownership of Cingular, the nation's largest mobile carrier with 54 million customers. And EV-DO's own strategic importance was manifest in the Sprint-Nextel merger. According to Sprint executive Bill Elliott, the ability to migrate Nextel customers to Sprint's EV-DO network "was one of the key reasons for the $35 billion merger."

In the past, U.S. telcos used wireline phone revenues to fund their wireless expansion; now they use revenues from wireless to fund fiber-to-the-home. It is profit from its wireless network, for example, that allows Verizon to maintain its stock price and attract the capital to sustain its ambitious $23 billion program of fiber deployments expected to reach 18 million households over the next four years. Any major setback at Verizon wireless would thus likely halt Verizon fiber.

Similarly, profits from the Qualcomm-based technology used by Cingular (now AT&T Wireless) for next generation systems will be critical to fund AT&T's ambitious Project Lightspeed broadband rollout.

Broadcom's attempt to close down Qualcomm on the basis of some flimsy patents on power-management techniques seems preposterous. The entire Qualcomm system, going back two decades, depends on an exquisite dance of exhaustively patented automatic gain controls and instant power regulation. But by the magic of injunctive relief at the ITC you can shut down the entire U.S. broadband industry in favor of European rivals.

With nearly all chips made or packaged overseas, the entire U.S. information economy now depends on ersatz "imports" based on designs and innovations that nearly all originate in the U.S. and generate profits here. The bottom line: Foreign governments can manipulate U.S. companies to favor their own industrial policies by pressing protectionist buttons at the ITC, putting much of U.S. broadband, wired and wireless, into sleep mode.

Is it not the ultimate irony that this new ITC authority is based on an obscure provision of that protectionist grim reaper, the disastrous Smoot-Hawley Tariff of 1930? Surely the president and Congress can act to remove this new U.S. vulnerability -- one that springs from laws and regulations based on an obsolete vision of segregated national economies shipping products across the seas in clipper ships in exchange for transfers of gold.

Mr. Gilder is a founder of the Discovery Institute and the Gilder Technology Fund. Both Broadcom and Qualcomm are on his Gilder Technology Report list of favored companies.

27963  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Giuliani and the defeat of the line item veto on: April 13, 2007, 09:42:09 PM
Rudy's Big Apple Baggage
Will New York politics haunt Mr. Giuliani?

Friday, April 13, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

Here's a little nugget from the past, a tale that may offer some insights into the next stage of the GOP presidential race, and the fortunes of front-runner Rudy Giuliani:

The date is the mid-1990s, and Republicans have swept Congress with their Contract with America. A top promise is greater fiscal responsibility, and a crucial element of that is a vow to pass a line-item veto and give the president the power to weed out pork. In 1996 Republicans are as good as their word, and grant the opposition's Bill Clinton a broad new power to strip wasteful spending.

Mr. Clinton is enthusiastic, and in August 1997 uses his tool for the first time to strike down a special-interest provision tucked in a bill. That provision gives New York hospitals a unique right to bilk extra Medicaid money, and the veto is expected to save federal taxpayers at least $200 million. Quicker than a Big Apple pol can say "pork," New York officials sue, challenging the line item veto's constitutionality. That suit, Clinton v. City of New York, goes all the way to the Supremes, which in 1998 put the kibosh on veto authority.

The kicker? The guy who brought the suit and won--or, rather, the guy who helped stall one of the more powerful tools for reining in government spending--was none other than former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani.
27964  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Parkour on: April 13, 2007, 09:02:32 PM
I've never seen this sort of stuff before.  Amazing athleticism.  Hat tip to John Spezzano.
27965  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Internet and related technology on: April 13, 2007, 07:03:51 PM
One year seems rather mild to me based upon the presentation of the facts in this piece.
27966  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: WW3 on: April 13, 2007, 05:35:49 PM
That's a keeper GM. 
27967  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Military Science on: April 13, 2007, 05:26:48 PM
Sorry, no URL for this one, but it seems sound and comes from a sound person:

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The military's controversial V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft will head to Iraq for its first combat tour later this year, Marine officials announced Friday.

After 18 years and $20 billion in development, the plane will deploy to western Iraq in September to support Marine Corps combat operations for seven months, Marine officials said.

The plane, which is intended to replace the Corps' 40-year-old fleet of CH-46 helicopters by 2018, can fly like a plane and land like a helicopter, giving the Marines more flexibility in the field, officials said.

The V-22 can carry troops three times as far, twice as fast and has six to seven times more survivability than the CH-46 widely used now in Iraq, the military says.

The Osprey's performance has also been noticed by the Air Force, which has plans to use it as a special operations aircraft.

The aircraft has been redesigned after two fatal accidents in 2000 that killed 23 Marines. Accidents in 1991 and 1992 killed seven other people, but Marines say the plane's problems are in the past.

"It's been through extensive operational testing and evaluation, and it is our fervent feeling that this aircraft is the most capable, survivable aircraft that we carry our most important weapon system in, which is the Marine or rifleman, and that we will successfully introduce this aircraft in combat," said Lt. Gen. John G. Castellaw, deputy commandant for aviation.

Critics say the tilt-rotor design may still be too unsafe for the complexities of flying in combat operations.

The Marine Corps maintains it is a much more controllable aircraft in those situations.

Since 2003, the Marines have lost seven aircraft in combat operations. The Marine Corps says the V-22 can better avoid being shot down because it can fly higher than the missiles that have been targeting helicopters. In addition, people on the ground cannot hear the aircraft approaching, giving insurgents less time to prepare to shoot as it flies at low altitude.

"I flown the V-22, and I have taken it and used it in a tactical manner," Castellaw said. "The ability to maneuver this aircraft is far in excess of what we have with the existing helicopters."

CNN's Mike Mount contributed to this report.
27968  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Syderco's balisong legal troubles on: April 13, 2007, 12:46:12 PM


OAKLAND - LAWFUEL - American Law Newswire - United States Attorney Scott N. Schools announced that Spyderco, Inc., a Colorado corporation, pleaded guilty and was sentenced today to mailing butterfly knives, which are nonmailable, to pay a $75,000 criminal fine, a $125 special assessment, and to forfeit all such knives seized by the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement from its corporate offices in Golden, Colorado (estimated to be valued at over $400,000). The guilty plea and sentence is the result of an investigation by United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement ("ICE").

In pleading guilty, Spyderco admitted that from June 2005 through January 2007, it had mailed butterfly knives, after importing the knife components from Taipei, Taiwan, through the Port of San Francisco and the Port of Oakland, to Golden, Colorado. The U.S. Customs and Border Patrol had issued a ruling to Spyderco holding that these knives fit the definition of "switchblade knives" as an imported knife "with a blade which opens automatically by operation of inertia, gravity, or both" and were therefore not allowed into the United States pursuant to the Switchblade Knife Act, 15 U.S.C. §§ 1241-1245, and were further not to be mailed in the United States.

Spyderco agreed to issue a Notice of Recall on its internet site for these butterfly knives and to mail this recall notice to reasonably identifiable customers. Spyderco also agreed not to import, transport, distribute, manufacture, sell, introduce, or attempt to introduce into interstate commerce knives defined as switchblades under the Switchblade Knife Act, in violation of the law.

The sentence was handed down by U.S. Magistrate Judge Wayne D. Brazil following the corporate guilty plea to one violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1716(j)(1), a class A misdemeanor.

Maureen Bessette is the Assistant U.S. Attorney who prosecuted the case with the assistance of Cynthia Daniel. The prosecution is the result of a one year investigation by the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Further Information:

Case #: CR0700203WDB

A copy of this press release may be found on the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s website at

Electronic court filings and further procedural and docket information are available at

Judges’ calendars with schedules for upcoming court hearings can be viewed on the court’s website at

All press inquiries to the U.S. Attorney’s Office should be directed to Natalya LaBauve at (415) 436-7055 or by email at


SpyderFly/SzaboFly Recall Announcement

(2007-04-12) US Customs brought to our attention that some of the parts used in the construction of the SpyderFly/SzaboFly were imported contrary to U. S. Customs laws. Additionally, federal statutes require that only certain classes of individuals may purchase knives that fall within the definition of switchblade knives under the federal Switchblade Knife Act, 15 U.S.C. §§1241-1245. Switchblade knives may be lawfully acquired and possessed in particular state and local jurisdictions. In other jurisdictions, they may not. They may be transported in interstate commerce only under certain circumstances. Accordingly, it is incumbent upon anyone acquiring a knife that may fall within the legal definition of a switchblade knife to check the Federal law and laws of your local jurisdiction to determine whether such a knife may be lawfully acquired or possessed. In order to comply with US Customs regulations, Spyderco will not be manufacturing this product in the future with any improperly imported components. They will be shipped only to persons legally authorized by law to acquire them. In order to conform to legal requirements, Spyderco is asking for any purchaser of the B01 SpyderFly or B03 SzaboFly from January 1, 2006, through January, 2007, to review the attached Acknowledgement and Representation form to determine whether he or she qualifies as an authorized dealer or purchaser of the knife that was acquired from Spyderco. If so, please execute the form and return it to Spyderco. If you did not qualify as an authorized dealer or purchaser at the time of acquisition of the knife(s), please return your purchase directly to Spyderco for a credit or refund. Please cut and paste this link into your browser for the form: Please contact Spyderco at 800-525-7770 for more information.
27969  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: April 13, 2007, 10:41:55 AM

Geopolitical Diary: Iraq's Worsening Crisis of Governance

The al Qaeda-claimed suicide bombing in the Iraqi parliament cafeteria on Thursday killed three members of parliament -- two Sunnis and a Kurd -- and wounded numerous others, including several Shiite parliament members.

By targeting the parliament building, which is located in the maximum-security Green Zone in Baghdad, the jihadists are trying to prove that the United States is unable to provide protection to any of the three principal ethno-sectarian groups in Iraq. Given the pressure on the Bush administration to withdraw troops from Iraq and the dire need of each communal group for U.S. protection, this attack was well timed. Moreover, it makes a mockery of the U.S. surge policy and the Baghdad Security Plan.

But though critically timed, the attack should not be viewed as evidence of jihadist dominance in Iraq. In fact, the militants are trying to counter the threats from the mainstream Sunni community and nationalist insurgent groups that have turned against them. The militants also are keeping an eye on the intensifying U.S.-Iranian back-channel negotiations because they fear the discussion will move toward a settlement on Iraq.

Al Qaeda realizes the only way it can block such a settlement is to create a crisis of governance, which could be realized if a large number of parliamentarians were eliminated. The jihadists know all too well the vulnerabilities within the fledgling Iraqi political system because they have seen how difficult it has been to establish the legislature and the Cabinet.

The deaths of a large number of parliamentarians would divert the attention of the Iraqi government and the United States toward filling the political vacuum -- a process that would only further exacerbate existing political tensions within the country.

Iraq's largest Sunni political bloc already is threatening to leave the government because it feels the Baghdad Security Plan has not contained Shiite militias. And the Sunnis believe they have upheld their end of the bargain by going after the jihadists operating within their midst.

However, the Shia, especially the radical al-Sadrite bloc, also are threatening to leave the coalition government unless their demand for a U.S. troop withdrawal timetable is met. It is no secret that the Shia are perhaps the most internally divided of all of Iraq's communal groups, which is why Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's government has been unable to make much progress with plans to disband Shiite militias -- a key prerequisite in containing the Sunni insurgency.

Meanwhile, another complex communal fault line is emerging in the northern Kurdish territory over the future of Kirkuk, where Shiite and Sunni Arabs could end up facing off with the increasingly assertive Kurdish community. Further complicating the situation in northern Iraq is the aggressive posture toward Turkey of Kurdistan Regional Government leader Massoud Barzani. Barzani has issued more than one statement warning Ankara that if it tries to intervene in northern Iraq in an effort to go after Turkish Kurdish separatist groups that Iraqi Kurds will cause trouble in Turkey's southeastern Kurdish areas.

On Thursday Turkey's military chief announced a major offensive against Kurds within Turkish borders and asked the government for permission to send troops into northern Iraq. Barzani's warnings and the resulting escalation of tensions has fellow Kurdish leader and Iraqi President Jalal Talabani worried, which would explain why he has tried to placate Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, saying he regrets Barzani's comments.

Talabani's reaction to Barzani's statements is indicative of the rivalry between the two principal Kurdish leaders and their respective groups. Barzani knows that Talabani will not be around for long because of his advanced age and declining health, and is angling to emerge as the top leader of Iraqi Kurds -- moves that will only exacerbate intra-Kurdish struggles.

Given the various moving parts that form Iraq and the multilevel conflicts in which they are engaged, it must be questioned how much stability can be derived from a U.S.-Iranian accommodation on Iraq, which is another messy affair altogether.
27970  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / bajas en produccion de petroleo on: April 12, 2007, 05:53:21 PM
MEXICO: Mexican President Felipe Calderon decreased Mexico's base commitment to supply oil to a proposed Central American oil refinery during the Plan Puebla Panama (PPP) meeting in Campeche, Mexico, on April 9-10. PPP is a regional integration and development initiative started by Calderon's predecessor, involving Mexico's nine southern states and Central American countries. Although the PPP meeting aimed to revitalize regional development, Calderon reduced Mexico's commitment from 230,000 to 80,000 barrels per day (bpd) due to declining production at Cantarell, the country's largest oil field. Panama, Costa Rica and Guatemala are vying to be selected as the site for the proposed refinery, which is to have a 360,000 bpd capacity; firms from China, India and Japan are bidding to build it. Calderon's reappraisal is a further indication that Mexican oil output is headed for a serious collapse if legal barriers to foreign cooperation in offshore exploration are not addressed soon. Furthermore, if Mexico cannot provide sufficient crude for the Central American refinery project, the project could become unviable.
27971  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Mil-blogs: Michael Yon and others (support our troops) on: April 12, 2007, 05:09:07 PM

I am in Basra, with our British Coalition partners, who this week launched a clever operation that lured enemy fighters into combat, a decision that proved fatal for more than two dozen of militia members and terrorists. Please click the link to read about Operation Arezzo.

New readers will find the dispatch Tabula Rasa gives context to my work from Iraq.

Another dispatch, with more than 100 photos of the 1-4 Cav at work in Baghdad, is nearly ready. What an excellent bunch of soldiers! I'll send out an announcement when "Desires of the Human Heart" is published and folks at home can see and read about things rarely reported.

I am energized by this embed with British soldiers, which has me in the thick of things with their soldiers who are engaged with the enemy. I broke yet another lens in combat with the British on Tuesday.

Before it got smashed, the lens was taking great photos, some of which you'll see in the latest dispatch, and others will be published in the coming days.

This site is wholly contingent on reader support, for which I'm truly grateful. In addition to keeping me in camera lenses, reader support is the best indication I have of how important it is for me to continue this work.



Also, read this!

27972  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Saudi Woman kicks butt on: April 12, 2007, 05:06:38 PM
Saudi woman kicks butt
27973  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Nuclear War? on: April 12, 2007, 03:15:46 PM

Special Dispatch Series - No. 1538
April 12, 2007 No.1538

Is it Legitimate to Use Nuclear Weapons Against the West? A Debate on An Islamist Forum

The Islamist website Al-Firdaws recently posted an article by a certain Abu Zabadi titled "Religious Grounds for [Launching] a Nuclear Attack." [1] The article, presented as a response to "recent rumors about Al-Qaeda's plan to attack the U.S. with WMDs such as a nuclear bomb," unequivocally opposes the use of WMDs by Muslims against the West, and attempts to counter the legal justifications for their use recently put forward by some prominent religious scholars affiliated with Al-Qaeda and other jihad movements. [2]

The article sparked a fierce debate among participants on the forum, with some participants supporting the author's reasoning and conclusions, and others forcefully rejecting them.

The following are the main points of Abu Zabadi's article, and excerpts from some of the responses to it.

A Nuclear Attack Results in Indiscriminate Killing, Which Is Forbidden by Islam

The author's main concern is not the legitimacy of obtaining WMDs for purposes of deterrence, but whether Islam sanctions a first-strike nuclear attack by Al-Qaeda against the U.S. or Europe. The author states that such an attack is forbidden, and presents several arguments in support of his position.

Using WMDs May Provoke U.S. WMD Counterattack

Abu Zabadi first points out that a nuclear attack results in indiscriminate killing of both innocent and guilty, which violates Allah's commandment to preserve the lives of the innocent.

Next, he dismisses the claim that the U.S. itself has used WMDs - such as phosphor bombs, cluster bombs or depleted uranium - against its enemies, which makes it legitimate to attack it with WMDs. The author states that these are conventional weapons, and that, unlike nuclear weapons, "they do not kill millions at a single strike." From a practical point of view, he adds, "using WMDs against America and its allies will provoke them... to aim a painful blow at Muslims, and this time not with conventional weapons but with WMDs." Such provocation, he states, stands in contradiction to the Prophet's conduct as attested in the Islamic tradition. "Since America and its allies are stronger than the Islamic nation," he says, "circumstances forbid us to provoke America and its allies... even if Al-Qaeda succeeds in obtaining a nuclear bomb."

"If God Wishes to Wipe America Off the Face of the Earth... The Matter Is In His Hands"

Abu Zabadi next addresses the claim that the U.S. must be destroyed because it is an immoral country that encourages corrupt behavior such as consuming alcohol and visiting brothels. He responds that a similar argument can be used to "sanction the killing of our brothers in Yemen, Egypt, and other [countries]." Pointing out that the murder rate in Yemen is very close to that of the U.S., he asks: "Are we therefore permitted to destroy Yemen... with WMDs because of [its]... moral corruption?" He concludes, "If God wishes to wipe America off the face of the earth because of its great corruption, the matter is in His hands [and not in the hands of the mujahideen]."

"If Bin Laden and His Followers Wish to Respond [to U.S. Attacks] in Kind, They Should [Confront] the Evil Troops on the Battlefield"

The author rejects the argument that killing innocent Americans can be regarded as legitimate retribution for attacks on Muslims, which some claim is sanctioned by several Koranic verses. [3] When bin Laden used this argument to justify the attack on the World Trade Center, says Abu Zabadi, he was basing his claims on a flawed understanding of the Koranic text. The Koran, he explains, permits to take revenge on a person who commits an act of aggression, but not to take revenge on his family or friends, as the verse says: "Fight in the way of Allah against those who fight against you, but begin not hostilities. Lo! Allah loveth not aggressors [2: 190]." He therefore concludes, "If bin Laden and his associates wish to respond [to the U.S. attacks] in kind, they should go out and [confront] the evil troops on the battlefield. However, they are not permitted to target unarmed civilians.... men, women, children and elderly people. This is... not permitted by Islamic law."

Forum Participant: The Article "Is All Distortions, It Laughs in the Faces of the Muslims"

Most of the forum participants who criticized the article took up religious arguments made in the past by prominent contemporary Islamist sheikhs (see endnote 2).

A participant calling himself Abdal Al-Sham began with a personal attack on the author, saying: "This article was not written by a Muslim... but by an American, and more specifically, by [someone from] one of their strategic centers for countering the Islamic jihad..." Regarding the content of the article, he said: "The essence of the article.... is that the U.S. bears no responsibility for the killing of Muslim children... And [even in cases] where it is proven that the U.S has killed Muslim women, children and elderly, [the article stipulates that it is permissible] to take revenge only on the one [directly] responsible for the killing... This is a distortion. [The article] laughs in Muslims' faces... It essentially [misrepresents] some of the [texts] it quotes from the Koran and the sunna..."

"The Destructive Power of the... Bombs Dropped on Afghanistan Alone Was Greater Than That of the Atomic Bomb Dropped on Hiroshima"

Abdal Al-Sham then argues against Abu Zabadi's legal reasoning: "The distinction between WMDs and conventional weapons, based on the extent of death and destruction they cause... is theoretically valid. But in reality, this distinction is false!!!... The amount of destruction... and the number of deaths to Muslim civilians - women, children, and the elderly - caused by the... conventional weapons used by the U.S. throughout its years-long Crusader war against Islam is equivalent to the [extent of death and destruction] caused by WMDs!!... The destructive power of the one-ton bombs dropped on Afghanistan alone is greater than that of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima... The ignorant writer should consider this fact!!!"

It Is Permitted to Strike the Infidels When Their Women and Children Are with Them

Abdal Al-Sham continues: "The principle of retribution in kind applies, for example, when the infidels do something that is completely forbidden to Muslims, such as mutilating corpses. It is prohibited for Muslims [to do such a thing] unless the infidels commit [this crime] against Muslims!!!... However, striking the infidels when their women and children are with them is permitted independently [of] the principle of retribution in kind."

Legally, Americans Are Considered a Single Individual

"It is clear that the elected American government..., the military and civil organizations associated with it, and [the American] nation [as a whole] legally constitute 'a single individual' when it comes to [responsibility for] the killing of women, children and the elderly... by U.S. troops in Muslim lands. This aggression is committed by every American who is [a citizen of] the United States and does not wash his hands of it or keep away from it... Legally, all of them are considered 'one individual.' An American who is against this aggression against Muslims should emigrate from America to a safe place... in order to avoid the punishment [meted out by] the Muslim mujahideen. It is not the concern of the mujahideen to distinguish him from... those Americans who do support the aggression."

Americans Have Used Biological, Chemical and Nuclear Weapons

Another forum participant supported Abdal Al-Sham's position, saying: "[WMDs] include biological, chemical and nuclear weapons, which the Americans - as admitted by their [own] judicial authorities - have used to varying degrees. The U.S. sanctions the killing of civilians day and night, and claims that it is an unavoidable [consequence] of war... It is permissible to kill the infidels..."

Another forum participant criticized Abdal Al-Sham's grasp of the religious sources and provided additional proof-texts in support of the position expressed in Abu Zabadi's article.


[2] For a summary of the arguments presented by some of these scholars, see Special Report No. 34, "Contemporary Islamist Ideology Authorizing Genocidal Murder," September 15, 2004, See also Reuven Paz, "Global Jihad and WMD: Between Martyrdom and Mass Destruction," Current Trends in Islamist Ideology, 2, (2005) pp. 74-86. For a May 2003 article by Islamist Saudi Sheikh Nasser bin Hamad Al-Fahd justifying the use of WMDs, see Nasser Al-Fahd, Risalah fi hukm istikhdam aslihat al-damar al-shamil dhid al-kuffar, (May 2003):

[3] As an example, the author cites the following verse: "Whoever commits aggression against you, you should commit aggression against him like he has committed against you" (2:194).
27974  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Part Two on: April 12, 2007, 03:14:35 PM

How is this case to be sustained in the face of contemporary test data indicating that non-Ashkenazi Jews do not have the elevated mean of today's Ashkenazim? The logical inconsistency disappears if one posits that Jews circa 1000 C.E. had elevated intelligence everywhere, but that it subsequently was augmented still further among Ashkenazim and declined for Jews living in the Islamic world—perhaps because of the dynamics described by Cochran, Hardy, and Harpending (that is, Oriental Jews were concentrated in trades for which high intelligence did not yield wealth).

Recent advances in the use of genetic markers to characterize populations enable us to pursue such possibilities systematically. I offer this testable hypothesis as just one of many possibilities: if genetic markers are used to discriminate among non- Ashkenazi Jews, it will be found that those who are closest genetically to the Sephardim of Golden Age Spain have an elevated mean IQ, though perhaps not so high as the contemporary Ashkenazi IQ.


The next strand of an alternative to the Cochran-Hardy-Harpending theory involves reasons for thinking that some of the elevation of Jewish intelligence occurred even before Jews moved into occupations selected for intelligence, because of the shift in ancient Judaism from a rite-based to a learning-based religion.

All scholars who have examined the topic agree that about 80–90 percent of all Jews were farmers at the beginning of the Common Era, and that only about 10–20 percent of Jews were farmers by the end of the first millennium. No other ethnic group underwent this same kind of occupational shift. For the story of why this happened, I turn to a discussion by Maristella Botticini and Zvi Eckstein entitled "Jewish Occupational Selection: Education, Restrictions, or Minorities?" which appeared in the Journal of Economic History in 2005.

Rejecting the explanation that Jews became merchants because they were restricted from farming, Botticini and Eckstein point to cases in which Jews who were free to own land and engage in agriculture made the same shift to urban, skilled occupations that Jews exhibited where restrictions were in force. Instead, they focus on an event that occurred in 64 C.E., when the Palestinian sage Joshua ben Gamla issued an ordinance mandating universal schooling for all males starting at about age six. The ordinance was not only issued; it was implemented. Within about a century, the Jews, uniquely among the peoples of the world, had effectively established universal male literacy and numeracy.

The authors' explanation for the subsequent shift from farming to urban occupations reduces to this: if you were educated, you possessed an asset that had economic value in occupations that required literacy and numeracy, such as those involving sales and transactions. If you remained a farmer, your education had little or no value. Over the centuries, this basic economic reality led Jews to leave farming and engage in urban occupations.

So far, Botticini and Eckstein have provided an explanatory backdrop to the shift in occupations that in turn produced the selection pressures for intelligence described by Cochran, Hardy, and Harpending. But selection pressure in this classic form was probably not the only force at work. Between the 1st and 6th centuries C.E., the number of Jews in the world plummeted from about 4.5 million to 1.5 million or fewer. About 1 million Jews were killed in the revolts against the Romans in Judea and Egypt. There were scattered forced conversions from Judaism to another religion. Some of the reduction may be associated with a general drop in population that accompanied the decline and fall of the Roman Empire. But that still leaves a huge number of Jews who just disappeared.

What happened to them? Botticini and Eckstein argue that an economic force was at work: for Jews who remained farmers, universal education involved a cost that had little economic benefit. As time went on, they drifted away from Judaism. I am sure this explanation has some merit. But a more direct explanation could involve the increased intellectual demands of Judaism.

Joshua ben Gamla's ordinance mandating literacy occurred at about the same time as the destruction of the Second Temple—64 C.E. and 70 C.E., respectively. Both mark the moment when Judaism began actively to transform itself from a religion centered on rites and sacrifices at the Temple in Jerusalem to a religion centered on prayer and the study of the Torah at decentralized synagogues and study houses. Rabbis and scholars took on a much larger role as leaders of local communities. Since worship of God involved not only prayer but study, all Jewish males had to read if they were to practice their faith—and not only read in private but be able to read aloud in the presence of others.

In this context, consider the intellectual requirements of literacy. People with modest intelligence can become functionally literate, but they are able to read only simple texts. The Torah and the Hebrew prayer book are not simple texts; even to be able to read them mechanically requires fairly advanced literacy. To study the Talmud and its commentaries with any understanding requires considerable intellectual capacity. In short, during the centuries after Rome's destruction of the Temple, Judaism evolved in such a way that to be a good Jew meant that a man had to be smart.

What happened to the millions of Jews who disappeared? It is not necessary to maintain that Jews of low intelligence were run out of town because they could not read the Torah and commentaries fluently. Rather, few people enjoy being in a position where their inadequacies are constantly highlighted. It is human nature to withdraw from such situations. I suggest that the Jews who fell away from Judaism from the 1st to 6th centuries C.E. were heavily concentrated among those who could not learn to read well enough to be good Jews—meaning those from the lower half of the intelligence distribution. Even before the selection pressures arising from urban occupations began to have an effect, I am arguing, the remaining self-identified Jews circa 800 C.E. already had elevated intelligence.


A loose end remains. Is it the case that, before the 1st century C.E., Jews were intellectually ordinary? Are we to believe that the Bible, a work compiled over centuries and incorporating everything from brilliant poetry to profound ethics, with stories that speak so eloquently to the human condition that they have inspired great art, music, and literature for millennia, was produced by an intellectually run-of-the-mill Levantine tribe?

In The Evolution of Man and Society (1969), the geneticist Cyril Darlington presented the thesis that Jews and Judaism were decisively shaped much earlier than the 1st century C.E., namely, by the Babylonian captivity that began with the fall of Jerusalem to the forces of Nebuchadnezzar in 586 B.C.E.

Darlington's analysis touches on many issues, but I will focus on just the intelligence question. The biblical account clearly states that only a select group of Jews were taken to Babylon. We read that Nebuchadnezzar "carried into exile all Jerusalem: all the officers and fighting men, and all the craftsmen and artisans. . . . Only the poorest people of the land were left" (2 Kings 24:10).

In effect, the Babylonians took away the Jewish elites, selected in part for high intelligence, and left behind the poor and unskilled, selected in part for low intelligence. By the time the exiles returned, more than a century later, many of those remaining behind in Judah had been absorbed into other religions. Following Ezra's command to "separate yourselves from the peoples around you and from your foreign wives" (Ezra 10:9), only those who renounced their foreign wives and children were permitted to stay within the group. The returned exiles, who formed the bulk of the reconstituted Jewish community, comprised mainly the descendants of the Jewish elites—plausibly a far more able population, on average, than the pre-captivity population.

I offer the Babylonian captivity as a concrete mechanism whereby Jewish intelligence may have been elevated very early, but I am not wedded to it. Even without that mechanism, there is reason to think that selection for intelligence antedates the 1st century C.E.

From its very outset, apparently going back to the time of Moses, Judaism was intertwined with intellectual complexity. Jews were commanded by God to heed the law, which meant they had to learn the law. The law was so extensive and complicated that this process of learning and reviewing was never complete. Moreover, Jewish males were not free to pretend that they had learned the law, for fathers were commanded to teach the law to their children. It became obvious to all when fathers failed in their duty. No other religion made so many intellectual demands upon the whole body of its believers. Long before Joshua ben Gamla and the destruction of the Second Temple, the requirements for being a good Jew had provided incentives for the less intelligent to fall away.

Assessing the events of the 1st century C.E. thus poses a chicken-and-egg problem. By way of an analogy, consider written Chinese with its thousands of unique characters. On cognitive tests, today's Chinese do especially well on visuo-spatial skills. It is possible, I suppose, that their high visuo-spatial skills have been fostered by having to learn written Chinese; but I find it much more plausible that only people who already possessed high visuo-spatial skills would ever devise such a ferociously difficult written language. Similarly, I suppose it is possible that the Jews' high verbal skills were fostered, through secondary and tertiary effects, by the requirement that they be able to read and understand complicated texts after the 1st century C.E.; but I find it much more plausible that only people who already possessed high verbal skills would dream of installing such a demanding requirement.

This reasoning pushes me even farther into the realm of speculation. Insofar as I am suggesting that the Jews may have had some degree of unusual verbal skills going back to the time of Moses, I am naked before the evolutionary psychologists' ultimate challenge. Why should one particular tribe at the time of Moses, living in the same environment as other nomadic and agricultural peoples of the Middle East, have already evolved elevated intelligence when the others did not?

At this point, I take sanctuary in my remaining hypothesis, uniquely parsimonious and happily irrefutable. The Jews are God's chosen people.
27975  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Jewish Genius on: April 12, 2007, 03:13:42 PM
A piece of scary implications , , ,  shocked

From issue: April 2007
Jewish Genius
By Charles Murray
Since its first issue in 1945, COMMENTARY has published hundreds of articles about Jews and Judaism. As one would expect, they cover just about every important aspect of the topic. But there is a lacuna, and not one involving some obscure bit of Judaica. COMMENTARY has never published a systematic discussion of one of the most obvious topics of all: the extravagant overrepresentation of Jews, relative to their numbers, in the top ranks of the arts, sciences, law, medicine, finance, entrepreneurship, and the media.
I have personal experience with the reluctance of Jews to talk about Jewish accomplishment—my co-author, the late Richard Herrnstein, gently resisted the paragraphs on Jewish IQ that I insisted on putting in The Bell Curve (1994). Both history and the contemporary revival of anti-Semitism in Europe make it easy to understand the reasons for that reluctance. But Jewish accomplishment constitutes a fascinating and important story. Recent scholarship is expanding our understanding of its origins.

And so this Scots-Irish Gentile from Iowa hereby undertakes to tell the story. I cover three topics: the timing and nature of Jewish accomplishment, focusing on the arts and sciences; elevated Jewish IQ as an explanation for that accomplishment; and current theories about how the Jews acquired their elevated IQ.


From 800 B.C.E. through the first millennium of the Common Era, we have just two examples of great Jewish accomplishment, and neither falls strictly within the realms of the arts or sciences. But what a pair they are. The first is the fully realized conceptualization of monotheism, expressed through one of the literary treasures of the world, the Hebrew Bible. It not only laid the foundation for three great religions but, as Thomas Cahill describes in The Gifts of the Jews (1998), introduced a way of looking at the meaning of human life and the nature of history that defines core elements of the modern sensibility. The second achievement is not often treated as a Jewish one but clearly is: Christian theology expressed through the New Testament, an accomplishment that has spilled into every aspect of Western civilization.

But religious literature is the exception. The Jews do not appear in the annals of philosophy, drama, visual art, mathematics, or the natural sciences during the eighteen centuries from the time of Homer through the first millennium C.E., when so much was happening in Greece, China, and South Asia. It is unclear to what extent this reflects a lack of activity or the lack of a readily available record. For example, only a handful of the scientists of the Middle Ages are mentioned in most histories of science, and none was a Jew. But when George Sarton put a high-powered lens to the Middle Ages in his monumental Introduction to the History of Science (1927-48), he found that 95 of the 626 known scientists working everywhere in the world from 1150 to 1300 were Jews—15 percent of the total, far out of proportion to the Jewish population.

As it happens, that same period overlaps with the life of the most famous Jewish philosopher of medieval times, Maimonides (1135–1204), and of others less well known, not to mention the Jewish poets, grammarians, religious thinkers, scholars, physicians, and courtiers of Spain in the "Golden Age," or the brilliant exegetes and rabbinical legislators of northern France and Germany. But this only exemplifies the difficulty of assessing Jewish intellectual activity in that period. Aside from Maimonides and a few others, these thinkers and artists did not perceptibly influence history or culture outside the confines of the Jewish world.

Generally speaking, this remained the case well into the Renaissance and beyond. When writing a book called Human Accomplishment (2003), I compiled inventories of "significant figures" in the arts and sciences, defined as people who are mentioned in at least half of the major histories of their respective fields. From 1200 to 1800, only seven Jews are among those significant figures, and only two were important enough to have names that are still widely recognized: Spinoza and Montaigne (whose mother was Jewish).


The sparse representation of Jews during the flowering of the European arts and sciences is not hard to explain. They were systematically excluded, both by legal restrictions on the occupations they could enter and by savage social discrimination. Then came legal emancipation, beginning in the late 1700's in a few countries and completed in Western Europe by the 1870's, and with it one of the most extraordinary stories of any ethnic group at any point in human history.

As soon as Jewish children born under legal emancipation had time to grow to adulthood, they started appearing in the first ranks of the arts and sciences. During the four decades from 1830 to 1870, when the first Jews to live under emancipation reached their forties, 16 significant Jewish figures appear. In the next four decades, from 1870 to 1910, the number jumps to 40. During the next four decades, 1910–1950, despite the contemporaneous devastation of European Jewry, the number of significant figures almost triples, to 114.

To get a sense of the density of accomplishment these numbers represent, I will focus on 1870 onward, after legal emancipation had been achieved throughout Central and Western Europe. How does the actual number of significant figures compare to what would be expected given the Jewish proportion of the European and North American population? From 1870 to 1950, Jewish representation in literature was four times the number one would expect. In music, five times. In the visual arts, five times. In biology, eight times. In chemistry, six times. In physics, nine times. In mathematics, twelve times. In philosophy, fourteen times.

Disproportionate Jewish accomplishment in the arts and sciences continues to this day. My inventories end with 1950, but many other measures are available, of which the best known is the Nobel Prize. In the first half of the 20th century, despite pervasive and continuing social discrimination against Jews throughout the Western world, despite the retraction of legal rights, and despite the Holocaust, Jews won 14 percent of Nobel Prizes in literature, chemistry, physics, and medicine/physiology. In the second half of the 20th century, when Nobel Prizes began to be awarded to people from all over the world, that figure rose to 29 percent. So far, in the 21st century, it has been 32 percent. Jews constitute about two-tenths of one percent of the world's population. You do the math.


What accounts for this remarkable record? A full answer must call on many characteristics of Jewish culture, but intelligence has to be at the center of the answer. Jews have been found to have an unusually high mean intelligence as measured by IQ tests since the first Jewish samples were tested. (The widely repeated story that Jewish immigrants to this country in the early 20th century tested low on IQ is a canard.) Exactly how high has been difficult to pin down, because Jewish sub-samples in the available surveys are seldom perfectly representative. But it is currently accepted that the mean is somewhere in the range of 107 to 115, with 110 being a plausible compromise.

The IQ mean for the American population is "normed" to be 100, with a standard deviation of 15. If the Jewish mean is 110, then the mathematics of the normal distribution says that the average Jew is at the 75th percentile. Underlying that mean in overall IQ is a consistent pattern on IQ subtests: Jews are only about average on the subtests measuring visuo-spatial skills, but extremely high on subtests that measure verbal and reasoning skills.

A group's mean intelligence is important in explaining outcomes such as mean educational attainment or mean income. The key indicator for predicting exceptional accomplishment (like winning a Nobel Prize) is the incidence of exceptional intelligence. Consider an IQ score of 140 or higher, denoting the level of intelligence that can permit people to excel in fields like theoretical physics and pure mathematics. If the mean Jewish IQ is 110 and the standard deviation is 15, then the proportion of Jews with IQ's of 140 or higher is somewhere around six times the proportion of everyone else.

The imbalance continues to increase for still higher IQ's. New York City's public-school system used to administer a pencil-and-paper IQ test to its entire school population. In 1954, a psychologist used those test results to identify all 28 children in the New York public-school system with measured IQ's of 170 or higher. Of those 28, 24 were Jews.

Exceptional intelligence is not enough to explain exceptional accomplishment. Qualities such as imagination, ambition, perseverance, and curiosity are decisive in separating the merely smart from the highly productive. The role of intelligence is nicely expressed in an analogy suggested to me years ago by the sociologist Steven Goldberg: intelligence plays the same role in an intellectually demanding task that weight plays in the performance of NFL offensive tackles. The heaviest offensive tackle is not necessarily the best. Indeed, the correlation between weight and performance among NFL offensive tackles is probably quite low. But they all weigh more than 300 pounds.

So with intelligence. The other things count, but you must be very smart to have even a chance of achieving great work. A randomly selected Jew has a higher probability of possessing that level of intelligence than a randomly selected member of any other ethnic or national group, by far.


Nothing that I have presented up to this point is scientifically controversial. The profile of disproportionately high Jewish accomplishment in the arts and sciences since the 18th century, the reality of elevated Jewish IQ, and the connection between the two are not to be denied by means of data. And so we come to the great question: how and when did this elevated Jewish IQ come about? Here, the discussion must become speculative. Geneticists and historians are still assembling the pieces of the explanation, and there is much room for disagreement.

I begin with the assumption that elevated Jewish intelligence is grounded in genetics. It is no longer seriously disputed that intelligence in Homo sapiens is substantially heritable. In the last two decades, it has also been established that obvious environmental factors such as high income, books in the house, and parental reading to children are not as potent as one might expect. A "good enough" environment is important for the nurture of intellectual potential, but the requirements for "good enough" are not high. Even the very best home environments add only a few points, if that, to a merely okay environment. It is also known that children adopted at birth do not achieve the IQ's predicted by their parents' IQ.

To put it another way, we have good reason to think that Gentile children raised in Jewish families do not acquire Jewish intelligence. Hence my view that something in the genes explains elevated Jewish IQ. That conclusion is not logically necessary but, given what we know about heritability and environmental effects on intelligence in humans as a species, it is extremely plausible.

Two potential explanations for a Jewish gene pool favoring high intelligence are so obvious that many people assume they must be true: winnowing by persecution (only the smartest Jews either survived or remained Jews) and marrying for brains (scholars and children of scholars were socially desirable spouses). I too think that both of these must have played some role, but how much of a role is open to question.

In the case of winnowing through persecution, the logic cuts both ways. Yes, those who remained faithful during the many persecutions of the Jews were self-selected for commitment to Judaism, and the role of scholarship in that commitment probably means that intelligence was one of the factors in self-selection. The foresight that goes with intelligence might also have had some survival value (as in anticipating pogroms), though it is not obvious that its effect would be large enough to explain much.

But once the Cossacks are sweeping through town, the kind of intelligence that leads to business success or rabbinical acumen is no help at all. On the contrary, the most successful people could easily have become the most likely to be killed, by virtue of being more visible and the targets of greater envy. Furthermore, other groups, such as the Gypsies, have been persecuted for centuries without developing elevated intelligence. Considered closely, the winnowing-by-persecution logic is not as compelling as it may first appear.

What of the marrying-for-brains theory? "A man should sell all he possesses in order to marry the daughter of a scholar, as well as to marry his daughter to a scholar," advises the Talmud (Pesahim 49a), and scholarship did in fact have social cachet within many Jewish communities before (and after) emancipation. The combination could have been potent: by marrying the children of scholars to the children of successful merchants, Jews were in effect joining those selected for abstract reasoning ability with those selected for practical intelligence.

Once again, however, it is difficult to be more specific about how much effect this might have had. Arguments have been advanced that rich merchants were in fact often reluctant to entrust their daughters to penniless and unworldly scholars. Nor is it clear that the fertility rate of scholars, or their numbers, were high enough to account for a major effect on intelligence. The attractiveness of brains in prospective marriage partners surely played some role but, once again, the data for assessing how much have not been assembled.


Against this backdrop of uncertainty, a data-driven theory for explaining elevated Jewish IQ appeared in 2006 in the Journal of Biosocial Science. In an article entitled "Natural History of Ashkenazi Intelligence," Gregory Cochran (a physicist) and Jason Hardy and Henry Harpending (anthropologists) contend that elevated Jewish IQ is confined to the Ashkenazi Jews of northern and central Europe, and developed from the Middle Ages onward, primarily from 800 to 1600 C.E.

In the analysis of these authors, the key factor explaining elevated Jewish intelligence is occupational selection. From the time Jews became established north of the Pyrenees-Balkans line, around 800 C.E ., they were in most places and at most times restricted to occupations involving sales, finance, and trade. Economic success in all of these occupations is far more highly selected for intelligence than success in the chief occupation of non-Jews: namely, farming. Economic success is in turn related to reproductive success, because higher income means lower infant mortality, better nutrition, and, more generally, reproductive "fitness." Over time, increased fitness among the successful leads to strong selection for the cognitive and psychological traits that produce that fitness, intensified when there is a low inward gene flow from other populations—as was the case with Ashkenazim.

Sephardi and Oriental Jews—i.e., those from the Iberian peninsula, the Mediterranean littoral, and the Islamic East—were also engaged in urban occupations during the same centuries. But the authors cite evidence that, as a rule, they were less concentrated in occupations that selected for IQ and instead more commonly worked in craft trades. Thus, elevated intelligence did not develop among Sephardi and Oriental Jews—as manifested by contemporary test results in Israel that show the IQ's of non-European Jews to be roughly similar to the IQ's of Gentiles.

The three authors conclude this part of their argument with an elegant corollary that matches the known test profiles of today's Ashkenazim with the historical experience of their ancestors:

The suggested selective process explains the pattern of mental abilities in Ashkenazi Jews: high verbal and mathematical ability but relatively low spatio-visual ability. Verbal and mathematical talent helped medieval businessmen succeed, while spatio-visual abilities were irrelevant.
The rest of their presentation is a lengthy and technical discussion of the genetics of selection for IQ, indirect evidence linking elevated Jewish IQ with a variety of genetically based diseases found among Ashkenazim, and evidence that most of these selection effects have occurred within the last 1,200 years.

No one has yet presented an alternative to the Cochran-Hardy-Harpending theory that can match it for documentation. But, as someone who suspects that elevated Jewish intelligence was (a) not confined to Ashkenazim and (b) antedates the Middle Ages, I will outline the strands of an alternative explanation that should be explored.

It begins with evidence that Jews who remained in the Islamic world exhibited unusually high levels of accomplishment as of the beginning of the second millennium. The hardest evidence is Sarton's enumeration of scientists mentioned earlier, of whom 15 percent were Jews. These were not Ashkenazim in northern Europe, where Jews were still largely excluded from the world of scientific scholarship, but Sephardim in the Iberian peninsula, in Baghdad, and in other Islamic centers of learning. I have also mentioned the more diffuse cultural evidence from Spain, where, under both Muslim and Christian rule, Jews attained eminent positions in the professions, commerce, and government as well as in elite literary and intellectual circles.

After being expelled from Spain at the end of the 15th century, Sephardi Jews rose to distinction in many of the countries where they settled. Some economic historians have traced the decline of Spain after 1500, and the subsequent rise of the Netherlands, in part to the Sephardi commercial talent that was transferred from the one to the other. Centuries later, in England, one could point to such Sephardi eminences as Benjamin Disraeli and the economist David Ricardo.

In sum, I propose that a strong case could be assembled that Jews everywhere had unusually high intellectual resources that manifested themselves outside of Ashkenaz and well before the period when non-rabbinic Ashkenazi accomplishment manifested itself.
27976  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: April 12, 2007, 02:58:54 PM
Second post of the day:

PAKISTAN: Gunmen thought to be Sunni Muslim tribesmen on April 11 raided the Shiite Muslim village of Chardiwar in Pakistan's Kurram tribal region, near the Afghan border, killing five people, officials said.

AFGHANISTAN: Former Taliban Ambassador to Pakistan Abdul Salam Zaeef said he and other members of Afghanistan's old regime will not mediate between the current government and rebel forces, as President Hamid Karzai has asked them to do, until the United States backs the plan, and unless they receive safety assurances from the government and their Taliban comrades. Zaeef said that while the Taliban believe Karzai is serious about his desire for peace talks, the Pashtun jihadist movement does not think the Afghan leader is free to make this decision.
27977  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Consequences Continue on: April 12, 2007, 09:51:58 AM
The consequences of Bush-Rumbo failing to increase our military when they should have done so back in 2003-4 continue:

WAR ON TERRORISM | Effective immediately, deployments are three months longer

Army extends war tours

The action affects troops in Afghanistan and Iraq, or those about to be sent there, but not Guard and Reserve units or Marines.


McClatchy Newspapers

WASHINGTON | U.S. Army soldiers deployed to Iraq will serve at least 15 months there instead of 12, the Defense Department announced Wednesday.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates said the new rotation schedule, which also will affect soldiers sent to Afghanistan, would allow the Pentagon to guarantee units at least 12 months at home between war zone rotations. Without the change, five brigades would have had to return to combat after less than a year at home, he said.

On U.S. Army bases, commanders and families scrambled to determine the effect of the new deployment schedule.
About 100 soldiers from a company of the 705th Military Police Battalion at Fort Leavenworth have been deployed to Iraq since December for a 12-month tour, said post spokeswoman Janet Wray. Her office had not received official word whether these troops would be affected by the extended deployment.
The extended deployments probably will affect about 6,000 soldiers currently deployed in Iraq from Fort Riley, and an additional 3,500 soldiers will be deployed to Iraq within the next year, said Master Sgt. Cameron Porter, a Fort Riley spokesman.

The longer deployments will greatly affect military families, said Michelle Joyner, spokeswoman for the National Military Family Association, based in Alexandria, Va.
“It’s difficult once you start marking two birthdays that are missed or two anniversaries or two holidays — that makes it seem like a much longer time,” she said. “It is a long time for families to be separated, especially while they’re worried about the safety and well-being of their loved one that’s deployed.
“For military families, once the service member deploys, many of us have a mental countdown clock as to when they’re coming home and when they’ll be someplace where you know they’re safe. It becomes very difficult when you’ve adjusted to that, to recondition your thoughts knowing it’s going to be longer.”

Joyner said that extended deployments also might affect families’ practical plans that had been made for celebrating the deployed service member’s homecoming.
“This plays heavily on the children,” she said. “They don’t understand why mommy or daddy isn’t coming home” as scheduled.

Democrats charged that lengthening the time that troops would be expected to stay in Iraq is proof that the “surge” President Bush announced in January is really a long-term increase in troop strength likely to last well into next year. They also called it an acknowledgment that the Iraq war has seriously overstretched the U.S. military’s largest branch.
“The decision to extend the tours of U.S. service members by three months is an urgent warning that the administration’s Iraq policy cannot be sustained without doing terrible long-term damage to our military,” said Sen. Joseph Biden, a Delaware Democrat. “We don’t have to guess at the impact on readiness, recruitment and retention.”

The new schedule is effective immediately for all Army troops serving in or getting ready to deploy to Iraq or Afghanistan. It does not affect the Marine Corps, whose members are rotated into the war zone for seven months, with six months between tours, or Army National Guard and Reserve units, whose tours will still last 12 months.

Gates said units that had already been extended would not be extended again.
Gates conceded that “our forces are stretched; there’s no question about that,” but said that it was better for the troops to have firm timetables.
Marine Gen. Pete Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the extension was part of a U.S. strategy to give Iraqi leaders more time to find a political solution to violence.

“What we are doing as a U.S. armed force with our coalition partners is buying time for the Iraqi government to provide the good governance and the economic activity that’s required,” Pace said.
Andrew Krepinevich, director for the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Analysis, a Washington think tank, said the extension is likely to heighten debate in Congress over whether to set a timetable for U.S. troops to begin withdrawing.

Before the Iraq war, the Army’s policy called for troops to serve one year in combat and rest for at least two years before being redeployed.
That rotation schedule quickly fell to the demands of the Iraq war, which has required far more troops than administration officials originally envisioned.
27978  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: April 12, 2007, 02:33:51 AM
Pakistan: The Challenge of Religious Extremism and the Musharrafian State

Pakistan's government remained internally divided April 11 over how to handle the standoff with extremist mullahs running a key mosque in Islamabad. Just as civil society groups -- rather than secular political parties -- spearheaded the public unrest stemming from the legal crisis over the sacking of Pakistan's top judge, ultra-conservative social elements -- not Islamist political parties -- are stirring the controversy over vigilante attempts to Islamize the capital. The nature of the controversy and the manner in which it is being handled will prove detrimental to both President Gen. Pervez Musharraf and his opponents.


Since February, radical clerics and their followers at a mosque/seminary facility in the Pakistani capital of Islamabad have been challenging the government's authority by trying to impose their version of "Islamic" law in parts of the capital through kidnappings, illegal occupations of buildings and attempts to forcibly prevent "un-Islamic" behavior. Moreover, these armed mullahs have established a self-styled Islamic court and have said that if the Pakistani government does not enforce Islamic law, the mullahs will do it themselves. The extremist clerics have also reportedly threatened suicide attacks in response to a government crackdown.

The standoff between authorities and the hard-line mullahs from the Red Mosque continued April 11. Despite a second meeting with ruling Pakistan Muslim League (PML) party chief Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, the two top clerics at the mosque/madrassa complex -- Maulana Abdul Aziz and Ghazi Abdul Rasheed -- are in no mood to negotiate an end to the standoff at the mosque and its affiliated madrassa, Jamia Hafsa. Meanwhile, senior Cabinet members are at odds over how to resolve the matter; some advocate an ironhanded policy, while others urge caution.

Meanwhile, in northwestern Pakistan, fighting between Pashtun tribesmen and transnational jihadist elements is continuing in the South Waziristan agency of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). A PML parliament member appealed to Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf to deploy the army to quell raging Sunni-Shiite clashes in FATA's Kurram agency. In Karachi, a new kind of sectarian violence has emerged; a Barelvi religious group (the main school of thought in Pakistan that adheres to Sunni Islam's Sufi leanings) used high-powered assault rifles to attack Wahhabi mosques April 10 in retaliation for a jihadist suicide attack that killed top leaders of the Sunni Tehreek.

The growing security problems and political unrest would explain Musharraf’s comments April 11 in a speech at a political rally in the eastern city of Narowal, during which he said he will not dissolve parliament despite growing pressure to do so. The crisis involving the mullahs has overshadowed the legal crisis over Musharraf's dismissal of Pakistan's chief justice, giving the president a breather, but the mosque/madrassa standoff could create both short-term and long-term problems for the Pakistani state.

Ruling PML party chief Hussain has been pushing for a negotiated settlement with the mullahs, arguing that the government cannot handle the black coats (a euphemism for the legal community) and the black burkas (the female vigilantes who have symbolized the religious extremist campaign in Islamabad) teaming up against it. However, the Red Mosque issue has given Musharraf something with which to scare his secular political opponents into treading carefully, lest they empower the religious right. Conversely, his political opponents -- particularly the Pakistan People's Party Parliamentarians (PPP-P), with whom Musharraf is engaged in power-sharing negotiations -- hope to convince the president he needs them to stem the rising tide of religious extremism. His secular opponents hope that a Musharraf weakened by the Red Mosque crisis would be more likely to deal on their terms. Put differently, each side wants to use the situation to extract concessions from the other.

While Musharraf has been focusing on dealing with the political forces -- both secular and Islamist -- the problems he is facing are not coming from political groups. In both the legal crisis and the mosque/madrassa controversy, his opponents are civil society groups. In fact, the mosque controversy is posing problems for the country’s main Islamist group, the Mutahiddah Majlis-i-Amal (MMA), which is worried that the religious vigilantes in Islamabad are actually hurting their cause. Moreover, the crisis has sharpened the differences between the MMA’s two main component parties.

Having contained the MMA and engaged the PPP-P, the government feels that it still has a handle on the overall situation in Pakistan. However, because the political parties have proven ineffective, public discontent of one kind or another has found other channels of expression, including civil society groups. This was the case in the aftermath of the suspension of the country’s top jurist, when the legal community and the media took to the streets to demand rule of law while the pro-democracy groups either did not want to or were not able to take up the cause.

Similarly, the social liberalization that Musharraf has been pushing has triggered another backlash from the conservative elements of society -- people affiliated with mosques and seminaries who have taken it upon themselves to thwart the re-secularization of state and society.

Musharraf must hold and win a presidential election at some point between late September and early October, but his problems seem to be increasing with time. On one hand, the legal crisis is still playing out; on the other hand, he is faced with religious extremists in the heart of the capital creating an even more disturbing crisis of governance.

He has some time to fix the legal crisis because it has now moved to the Supreme Court, and the wheels of the judicial system turn very slowly. But the crisis with the rogue mullahs in Islamabad will have to be dealt with much sooner. Part of the problem is that the president's current civilian allies in the ruling PML are not on the same page as he is on issues related to the role of religion in society and state.

This would explain why Hussain has pushed for a conciliatory approach to the mullahs. Musharraf's lack of social capital, due to his alienation of mainstream political forces, prevents him from taking a firmer stance against religious extremism in the country. Part of the reason he has agreed with the defensive approach is his concern over the backlash that could come should he adopt an ironhanded policy against the mullahs when dealing with such a sensitive issue.

If the crisis deepens, Musharraf could impose some form of emergency rule -- which does not involve dismissing the Cabinet or the parliament. But in the end, Musharraf’s only hope for effectively combating growing religious extremism in the country is a deal with mainstream political parties. For that, he will need to cut a power-sharing deal with his opponents, which is something he wants to avoid for as long as possible.

Whether the standoff with the mullahs ends peacefully (which would involve the government giving concessions to the mullahs) or in police action, it will have long-term repercussions for both the current government -- in terms of its ability to maintain power -- and for its opponents, who will be around long after the Musharrafian period has ended.
27979  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Open Letter to Muslims, Liberals, Democrats, et al on: April 12, 2007, 02:25:40 AM
Quite right.

IIRC I posted somewhere on this forum (anyone?) a piece that 12er Assassin posted a piece on GetofftheX (I found his many posts while there quite educated in a tradition with which I was and am completely unfamiliar.  I found them thoughtful too.    Working from memory, a distinctive theological point is that Ahmadinejad seeks to create the conditions that will lead to the return of the 12th Iman, whereas Sistani of Iraq is of the "quietist school" i.e. lead a good Muslim life and the 12 Iman will re-appear when he wishes.  This latter school of thought would seem to be more amenable to some sort of separation of Mosque and State.
27980  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Weird and/or silly on: April 12, 2007, 02:05:51 AM
Cranewings et al:

Please include a brief statement of the contents of the URL and why you are posting it.

Thank you.
27981  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / The Prisoner's Dilema; Game Theory on: April 11, 2007, 07:46:25 PM
Although this subject could easily be part of the Evolutionary Psychology thread, I give it its own thread because I think it worthy.

First, a description of the PD:'s_dilemma


Next, an article and a high IQ friend's comments:

Human Nature Redux

Published: February 18, 2007
Sometimes a big idea fades so imperceptibly from public consciousness you don't even notice until it has almost disappeared. Such is the fate of the belief in natural human goodness.

The Way We Live Now

This belief, most often associated with Jean-Jacques Rousseau, begins with the notion that "everything is good as it leaves the hands of the Author of things; everything degenerates in the hands of man." Human beings are virtuous and free in their natural state. It is only corrupt institutions that make them venal. They are happy in their simplicity, but social conventions make them unwell.

This belief had gigantic ramifications over the years. It led, first of all, to the belief that bourgeois social conventions are repressive and soul-destroying. It contributed to romantic revolts against tradition and etiquette. Whether it was 19th-century Parisian bohemians or 20th-century beatniks and hippies, Western culture has seen a string of antiestablishment rebellions led by people who wanted to shuck off convention and reawaken more natural modes of awareness.

It led people to hit the road, do drugs, form communes and explore free love in order to unleash their authentic selves.

In education, it led to progressive reforms, in which children were liberated to follow their natural instincts. Politically, it led to radical social engineering efforts, because if institutions were the source of sin, then all you had to do was reshape institutions in order to create a New Man.

Therapeutically, it led to an emphasis of feelings over reason, self-esteem over self-discipline. In the realm of foreign policy, it led to a sort of global doctrine of the noble savage - the belief that societies in the colonial world were fundamentally innocent, and once the chains of their oppression were lifted something wonderful would flower.

Over the past 30 years or so, however, this belief in natural goodness has been discarded. It began to lose favor because of the failure of just about every social program that was inspired by it, from the communes to progressive education on up. But the big blow came at the hands of science.

From the content of our genes, the nature of our neurons and the lessons of evolutionary biology, it has become clear that nature is filled with competition and conflicts of interest. Humanity did not come before status contests. Status contests came before humanity, and are embedded deep in human relations. People in hunter-gatherer societies were deadly warriors, not sexually liberated pacifists. As Steven Pinker has put it, Hobbes was more right than Rousseau.

Moreover, human beings are not as pliable as the social engineers imagined. Human beings operate according to preset epigenetic rules, which dispose people to act in certain ways. We strive for dominance and undermine radical egalitarian dreams. We're tribal and divide the world into in-groups and out-groups.

This darker if more realistic view of human nature has led to a rediscovery of different moral codes and different political assumptions. Most people today share what Thomas Sowell calls the Constrained Vision, what Pinker calls the Tragic Vision and what E. O. Wilson calls Existential Conservatism. This is based on the idea that there is a universal human nature; that it has nasty, competitive elements; that we don't understand much about it; and that the conventions and institutions that have evolved to keep us from slitting each other's throats are valuable and are altered at great peril.

Today, parents don't seek to liberate their children; they supervise, coach and instruct every element of their lives. Today, there really is no antinomian counterculture - even the artists and rock stars are bourgeois strivers. Today, communes and utopian schemes are out of favor. People are mostly skeptical of social engineering efforts and jaundiced about revolutionaries who promise to herald a new dawn. Iraq has revealed what human beings do without a strong order-imposing state.

This is a big pivot in intellectual history. The thinkers most associated with the Tragic Vision are Isaiah Berlin, Adam Smith, Edmund Burke, Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, Friedrich Hayek and Hobbes. Many of them are conservative.

And here's another perversity of human nature. Many conservatives resist the theory of evolution even though it confirms many of conservatism's deepest truths.

Interesting article.  I think that using evolutionary psychology to justify the Statist leviathan contains a number of very serious problems.  Politicians should not be seen as altruistic Platonic Guardians; rather, they would simply be ambitious, probably ruthless human beings seeking to maximize their own genetically-mandated fitness criteria, just like everyone else.  The best system would be one that harnessed our self-interested behavior towards value creation at the societal level.  Of course, Adam Smith discussed this a long time ago.

Stephen Quartz, who I believe is still at CalTech, has performed a number of interesting experiments with people placed in game situation with the following rules:  Person A starts the game with $5.  He can decide how much of this to share with Person B.  Whatever he decides to share, that amount will double before it gets to Person B.  Person B can then decide if he wants to give any money back to Person A.  The game can be played with an unknown number of iterative rounds, but it is truly fascinating when both players are told in advance that the game will have, say, 10 rounds of play.  (By the way, the players are complete strangers to one another and do not communicate with each other during the game).

If one knows how many rounds are going to be involved in the game, it is easy to "defect" during that round and keep all of the winnings to oneself.  Knowing this, the other player will defect a round earlier.  And so on and so on...a regression to the first round takes place and the game theoretical solution would end up with Person A simply pocketing the $5 and walking away, operating under the assumption that any money given to Person B will never be seen again.  However, virtually no one actually plays this way.  A typical game begins with Person A making an initial offer of $2.50 to the other player.  If the other player gives the (now $5) same amount back or something close to it, a tentative "trust potential" has been formed.  MRI scans performed on the brains of the players have revealed that blood flow to pleasure centers is enhanced when a cycle of trust has been completed.  We really seem to enjoy cooperative, win-win arrangements when we can find them.  The game generally continues through the full number of rounds, with Person B sharing 50% of the final pot with his new "partner".

The Hobbesian gimmick used by some Socialists to justify their social engineering programs does not reflect the true nature of the human animal, a social primate equipped with an intuitive sense of cooperation and a finely-honed ability to keep track of favors given and received

27982  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Tapado on: April 11, 2007, 07:16:19 PM
Woof All:

Tapado made its appearance in Tape 6 of the RCSFg series.  As announced on the Eskrima Digest, here's this about Tapado:


  Here are some videos of Original Filipino Tapado (OFT), the indigenous long stickfighting art founded by the late Grandmaster Romeo "Nono" C. Mamar in Brgy. Taloc, Bago City, Negros Occidental, Philippines in 1960.  OFT is currently headed by the founder's nephewe and 1st Generation Inheritor Grandmaster Benefredo "Bebing" Mamar Lobrido, who is the president of the Original Filipino Tapado Long Stick Fighting Association (OFTLSFA),Inc. (http://oftlsfai.blogspot,.com). 
  GM Benefredo "Bebing" Mamar Lobrido feeding for Senior Instructor Dr. Raymund Antonio A. Maguad of Conceptual Martial Arts Soceity (CMAS) at 13.5 KM, Bago City
  GM Benefredo "Bebing" Mamar Lobrido demonstrating advanced techniques of OFT together with OFT and Filipino Tang Soo Do Master Elmer V. Montoyo

  GM Benefredo "Bebing" Mamar Lobrido demonstrating the basic strikes of OFT
  OFT and Filipino Tang Soo Do Master Elmer V. Montoyo demonstrating the basic strikes of OFT with GM Benefredo "Bebing" Mamar Lobrido
  GM Benefredo "Bebing" Mamar Lobrido feeding for his brother Master Clodualdo "Budoy" Mamar Lobrido at Brgy. Taloc, Bago City
  GM Benefredo "Bebing" Mamar Lobrido feeding for OFT Senior Instructor Joeffreu S. Deriada of CMAS at the Philippine Integrated Martial Arts Academy-Filipino Tang Soo Do Association, Group K Complex, Bacolod City.
  GM Benefredo "Bebing" Mamar Lobrido demonstrating advance OFT techniques on Senior Instructor Joeffreu S. Deriada of CMAS
  Senior Instructor Joeffreu S. Deriada demonstrating advance OFT techniques on Senior Instructor James U. Sy Jr., both  of CMAS
  Senior Instructor Joeffreu S. Deriada demonstrating advance OFT techniques on Senior Instructor Narciso "Hansy" Alojado, both  of CMAS
  Senior Instructor Narciso "Hansy" Alojado demonstrating advance OFT techniques on Senior Instructor Joeffreu S. Deriada, both  of CMAS
  GM Benefredo "Bebing" Mamar Lobrido feeding for Tapondo black belt Jezreel Bugna
  GM Benefredo "Bebing" Mamar Lobrido demonstrating lastico on OFT and Filipino Tang Soo Do Master Elmer V. Montoyo
27983  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Venezuela Pol?tica on: April 11, 2007, 06:43:24 PM

Sorry for the extended delay in my response.  Business matters and family vacation are to blame.

Anyway, I agree.

27984  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Mexico on: April 11, 2007, 05:40:40 PM
George W. Bush went to the U.S.-Mexican frontier to highlight his proposal for immigration reform this week. But on the other side of the border, a different U.S.-Mexico issue is getting most of the headline ink.

Since taking office in December, Mexico's new President Felipe Calderón has launched an all-out assault against the nation's organized crime networks, which supply U.S. narcotics demand. Given the money to be made under prohibition, it's not surprising that the drug cartels are not yielding easily. Rather, they've been fighting back with increasingly extreme terror tactics and threatening to turn Mexico upside down.

The month of March was one of the bloodiest on record for the country's "war on drugs." According to the Dallas Morning News, more than 50 people were killed in drug violence in a single week -- and not in only in notoriously rough cities like Tijuana but in traditionally stable locales such as Monterrey in the state of Nuevo Leon, which saw the brutal killing of a police officer, a police commander and numerous civilians. April hasn't started off too well either. On Good Friday, a reporter for the Mexican television station Televisa, who had just finished a radio interview in Acapulco, was shot in the back three times and killed. According to Reuters, local Mexican media also reported 12 other execution-style killings in Mexico on Good Friday. The killers have grown more vicious in their messages to would-be snitches, leaving behind severed heads, corpses with ice picks driven through them and most recently a Veracruz victim who had been castrated.

It's worth noting that lowly policemen, hundreds of whom are reported to have been handing in resignations around the country, are not the only targets. Last month Mr. Calderón confirmed that he and his family have been receiving serious death threats since he launched his "war." Nevertheless, Mr. Calderón says he's not giving in and that the war could last longer than his six-year term. If so, it looks like an awful lot of Mexicans are going to die for the cause of stopping Americans from using drugs.

-- Mary Anastasia O'Grady
Opinion Journal, WSJ
27985  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: April 11, 2007, 05:37:20 PM
PAKISTAN: Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf said he will not dissolve the country's assemblies, despite calls to do so. Musharraf added that this is the first time in Pakistan's history that the assemblies will finish their full terms, and that elections will be held to continue the democratic process.

PAKISTAN: An operation in the Wana Valley of Pakistan's South Waziristan agency has cleared out all foreign militants, regional commander Maj. Gen. Gul Muhammad said. However, he added, a key Uzbek militant linked to al Qaeda has not been captured. The general said the operation's success was due to the cooperation of local tribesman, whose relations with the foreign fighters soured after the militants killed several locals.

PAKISTAN: The radical fundamentalist Red Mosque in the Pakistani capital of Islamabad has weapons on the premises and will defend itself should the government attempt to crack down on its Taliban-style "morality campaign," deputy mosque leader Abdul Rashid Ghazi said. The government has continued to negotiate with the mosque's leaders despite public pressure to crack down on "Talibanization" in the city.
27986  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / AFPA Newsletter on: April 11, 2007, 04:58:09 PM

AFPA April 2007 Health & Fitness Online Newsletter
vol. 12 no. 4
When you wish to instruct, be brief; that men's minds take in quickly what you say, learn its lesson, and retain it faithfully. Every word that is unnecessary only pours over the side of a brimming mind. - Cicero (106 BC - 43 BC)


Table of Contents:
AFPA Re-launches all New Website
AFPA Fitness Conferences for Spring 2007
God Does Answer Your Prayers
Cancer Rates Continue to Worsen
Are You Eating Enough Fruits and Vegetables?
Calcium Supplements Fail to Improve Children's Bone Health


AFPA Re-launches all New Website
AFPA Re-launches our award winning website with more information, articles, members area, and more.


AFPA Fitness Conferences for Spring 2007
April 27-29 Beach Jam XIII Fitness, Trainer, Sports & Mind Body Conference, Ocean City, MD.
May 10-12 Myrtle Beach Fitness, Trainer, Sports & Mind Body Conference, Kingston Plantation, Myrtle Beach, SC.


God Does Answer Your Prayers
According to a new, comprehensive analysis of 17 major studies on the effects of intercessory prayer -- prayer that is offered for the benefit of another person -- there is a positive effect for people with both medical and psychological problems.
Some individual studies have found positive results, while others have shown no effect. A meta-analysis of all studies allowed researchers to take into account the entire body of research.
When the effects of prayer were averaged across all 17 studies, controlling for differences in sample sizes, there was a net positive effect on the group being prayed for.
Research on Social Work Practice, Vol. 17, No. 2, March 2007: 174-187
Science Blog March 14, 2007


Cancer Rates Continue to Worsen
America's aging population will increase the number of cancer patients 55 percent by 2020, and doctors may not be able to cope with the additional burden.
Today, 11.7 million people, or one in 26, have been diagnosed with the illness.
Analyses predict that the number of Americans who are diagnosed with cancer will grow to 18.2 million by 2020, about one in 19 Americans. There may not be enough doctors to care for so many sick people; if current trends continue, the country could face a shortage of up to 4,000 cancer specialists.
Increases in cancer have paralleled the increase in the number of Americans over 65. The country can also expect to see increases in heart disease, diabetes and Alzheimer's disease as the population ages.
Journal of Oncology Practice, Vol. 3, No. 2, March 2007: 79-86
USA Today March 14, 2007
The following are some excellent recommendations:
Control your insulin levels: Make certain that you limit your intake of processed foods and sugars as much as possible.
Get appropriate amounts of animal-based omega-3 fats and make sure you use cod liver oil if you don't have regular access to sun exposure.
Get appropriate exercise. One of the primary reasons exercise works is that it drives your insulin levels down. Controlling insulin levels is one of the most powerful ways to reduce your cancer risks.
Normalize your vitamin D levels with safe amounts of sun exposure (addressed in my video). This works primarily by optimizing your vitamin D level. If you have regular access to sun exposure then you should use fish oil, not cod liver oil, as your primary source of omega-3 fats. Ideally, it would be best to monitor your vitamin D levels.
Have a tool to permanently erase the neurological short-circuiting that can activate cancer genes. Even the CDC states that 85 percent of disease is caused by emotions. It is likely that this factor may be more important than all the other physical ones listed here, so make sure this is addressed. Energy psychology seems to be one of the best approaches and my particular favorite tool, as you may know, is the Emotional Freedom Technique.
Only 25 percent of people eat enough vegetables, so by all means eat as many vegetables as you are comfortable with. Ideally, they should be fresh and organic. However, please understand that, frequently, fresh conventionally grown vegetables are healthier than organic ones that are older and wilted in the grocery store. They are certainly better than no vegetables at all, so don't use that as an excuse.
Make sure you are not in the two-thirds of the population who are overweight and maintain an ideal body weight.
Get enough high-quality sleep.
Reduce your exposure to environmental toxins like pesticides, household chemical cleaners, synthetic air fresheners and air pollution.
Boil, poach or steam your foods, rather than frying or charbroiling them.


Are You Eating Enough Fruits and Vegetables?
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, fewer than a third of American adults eat the amount of fruits and vegetables recommended by the government.
This trend has remained steady for more than a decade, and is well below the benchmark for the national goal of getting the majority of Americans to eat two servings of fruits and three servings of vegetables each day by 2010.
The information comes from a massive diet survey of more than 300,000 adults in 2005. It showed that only 27 percent of adults ate vegetables three times a day, and only about 33 percent ate fruit twice a day.
Senior citizens were more likely to eat more fruits and vegetables. Adults aged 18 to 24 ate the fewest vegetables, and those aged 35 to 44 ate the least fruit.
Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, Vol. 56, No. 10, March 16, 2007: 213-217 Free Full-Text Report
San Francisco Chronicle March 15, 2007


Calcium Supplements Fail to Improve Children's Bone Health
A new analysis shows little benefit to using calcium supplements to improve bone health in children. Nineteen randomized controlled trials were reviewed to determine the effectiveness of calcium supplementation for improving bone mineral density in children. Supplementation had no effect on the bone mineral density in the neck or spine and caused only a small increase in the density of the upper limb, equivalent to a 1.7 percentage increase in the supplemented group compared with the control. No lasting effect of supplementation was seen in the one study that reported total body density after supplementation stopped.
Winzenberg T, Shaw K, Fryer J, Jones G. Effects of calcium supplementation on bone density in healthy children: meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. BMJ. 2006;333:775

27987  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / ABC wants you on: April 11, 2007, 04:55:57 PM
ABC's "20/20" Seeking "Armed Citizen" Stories
Friday, April 06, 2007

Gun ban groups often claim that private citizens rarely, if ever, use guns
in self-defense. ABC News' "20/20" is now putting that claim to the test,
asking viewers to submit their own real-life "Armed Citizen" stories.

ABC's website asks:
Have you ever defended yourself from a crime in your home, in your business,
or in public by using a gun? Perhaps you warded off a potential attacker by
simply showing a gun?

If you've personally used a gun in a legitimate act of self-protection
against a criminal attacker, we encourage you to tell your story to ABC News.

To tell your story, go to
and complete the web form.
27988  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Help our troops/our cause: on: April 11, 2007, 04:54:53 PM
This chickenhawk warmongering keyboard commando suspects the Rumbo DOD to have been miserly with the troops.

From FoxNews:

The struggle to entice Army soldiers and Marines to stay in the military, after four years of war in Iraq, has ballooned into a $1 billion campaign, with bonuses soaring nearly sixfold since 2003.
The size and number of bonuses have grown as officials scrambled to meet the steady demand for troops on the battlefields in Iraq and Afghanistan and reverse sporadic shortfalls in the number of National Guard and Reserve soldiers willing to sign on for multiple tours.
Besides underscoring the extraordinary steps the Pentagon must take to maintain fighting forces, the rise in costs for re-enlistment incentives is putting strains on the defense budget, already strapped by the massive costs of waging war and equipping and caring for a modern military.
The bonuses can range from a few thousand dollars to as much as $150,000 for very senior special forces soldiers who re-enlist for six years. All told, the Army and Marines spent $1.03 billion for re-enlistment payments last year, compared with $174 million in 2003, the year the war in Iraq began.
The Associated Press compiled and analyzed the budget figures from the military services for this story.
"War is expensive," said Col. Mike Jones, who oversees retention issues for the National Guard. "Winning a war, however, is less expensive than losing one."
The soaring budget for re-enlistment bonuses — particularly for the Guard and Reserves, which have seen the most dramatic cost increases — has prompted some observers to question whether the country can still afford its volunteer force.
"I believe the whole issue of the affordability of the volunteer force is something we need to look at," said Arnold Punaro, who heads an independent panel established by Congress to study the National Guard and Reserves.
The higher bonuses come as support for the war continues to wane both in Congress and with the American public. That decline is fueling concerns that more soldiers will leave the military under pressure from families who fear the rising death toll and are weary of the lengthy and repeated overseas deployments. The Iraq war has claimed the lives of at least 3,280 U.S. troops to date.
Incentives for Army Guard and Reserve members combined have skyrocketed from about $27 million in 2003 to more than $335 million in 2006.
The active Army, meanwhile, poured more than $600 million into these payments last year, a six-fold increase from $98 million in 2003. The Army gave two out of every three soldiers who re-enlisted a bonus last year, compared to less than two in 10 who received one during 2003.
Those who don't get bonuses are generally in jobs that are not in high demand or are not in war zones. For example, certain artillery crewmembers who re-enlisted outside Afghanistan or Iraq would receive no bonus, said Army spokesman Lt. Col. Bryan Hilferty.
Bonuses for Marines have nearly doubled, from about $50 million in 2003 to nearly $90 million in 2006.
The incentives help the military compete with private employers who often pay much higher salaries, Hilferty said.
"Soldiers with valuable skills and experience are aggressively sought after by industry," Hilferty said. He said while the extra money is important, "people don't re-enlist in a wartime Army for $13,000. ... If soldiers didn't think they were doing the right thing for the right reason, they would get out and get a job back home."
He said soldiers with special skills can get bonuses between $10,000 and $30,000, with a select few eligible for payments up to $50,000. Only very few highly qualified special forces soldiers would get the top bonus of $150,000. Nearly all soldiers deployed to Iraq, Afghanistan and Kuwait get a maximum of $15,000 for re-enlisting, just a bit more than the average.
Bonuses for Marines in certain critical specialties can go as high as $60,000 for a new four-year tour. On average a Marine who re-enlists this year can receive as much as $24,000. About eight in 10 Marines with up to six years of service will get a bonus this year, as will more than half of those with six to 14 years in the Corps.
Punaro, chairman of the Commission on the National Guard and Reserves, calls the soaring costs "a ticking time bomb."
"My instinct tells me ... that the Guard and Reserve will continue to be a real bargain for the taxpayer" because the costs for the active duty military have gone up a lot more, he said.
So far, the extra cash appears to be working. The active Army, the Guard and the Army Reserve are all on track to meet their re-enlistment goals for the fiscal year that will end Sept. 30.
Sgt. 1st Class Richard Doran, who works full-time for the Guard, signed on for another six-year tour late last year, just before he returned home from Iraq. That not only gives him the $15,000 bonus but also makes it tax-free because he was on the battlefront when he re-enlisted.
"It helps a lot of guys out," said Doran. "And I think it does sway some of the decisions to stay in when guys are on the fence trying to decide."
But for some who have been sent to war as many as three times, the money isn't enough.
"We had some that, once we got back, opted to say goodbye and just leave. Some guys said the money did play a part in their decision to stay, others said the $15,000 wasn't worth it."
Jones of the Guard said boosting the maximum re-enlistment bonus from $5,000 to $15,000 caused most of the budget increase. And, he said, more soldiers signed up than anticipated.
"When we're at peace, and when we're not deploying units, the bonuses probably don't need to be what they are today," said Jones. "When the risks are lowered, the reward would be lowered. But one of reasons we struggled in 2005 and 2004 is because we were slow as a nation to increase the rewards at the same time as we increased the risk."
27989  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / McCain on: April 11, 2007, 09:30:30 AM
Today's WSJ

These columns have had more than one disagreement with John McCain over the years, especially on issues that typically win the Arizona Republican accolades from the rest of the media: campaign-finance reform, global warming, detainee interrogations and tax cuts. Yet now that he is under attack from his erstwhile media "base" for refusing to repudiate the war in Iraq, we think he deserves some covering fire. The word for what he's demonstrating is character.

Presidential campaigns often have their defining media moments, for better or worse: Think of Teddy Kennedy's fumbling replies to Roger Mudd's Chappaquiddick questions in 1979, or George H. W. Bush shaking off the so-called wimp factor in his 1988 interview with Dan Rather. It's too soon to say if Mr. McCain's interview Sunday with Scott Pelley of CBS's "60 Minutes" will be equally defining. But it certainly illuminated the chasm that distinguishes Mr. McCain from the Beltway media that used to adore him.

The most revealing exchange came when Mr. Pelley, in all apparent seriousness, asked the Senator "at what point do you stop doing what you think is right and you start doing what the majority of the American people want?"

Answered Mr. McCain: "I disagree with what the majority of the American people want. I still believe the majority of the American people, when asked, say if you can show them a path to success . . . then they'll support it." Later Mr. Pelley observed that Mr. McCain was betting his entire campaign on the success of the current "surge" strategy in Baghdad. The Senator replied that he'd "rather lose a campaign than lose a war."

It's hard not to respect that. Hard, too, not to notice that statements like those exist at a vast and principled remove from the recent Solonic utterances of other Senators who supported the war when it was popular. Such as "let's cut and run, or cut and walk" (Oregon Republican Gordon Smith, running for re-election next year), and "if we knew then what we know now, there wouldn't have been a vote and I certainly wouldn't have voted that way" (Hillary Rodham Clinton, trying to appease the antiwar left as she seeks the Democratic Presidential nomination).
The difference is not merely of consistency but of conviction. Mr. McCain is making clear he understands that leadership is often by nature unpopular. He has been equally clear about the consequences of U.S. withdrawal from Iraq--"chaos" and "genocide" were among the scenarios he painted for Mr. Pelley.

He has also shown that he understands the moral obligation his vote authorizing the war entailed, which was to see it through to victory, or at least until the conclusion becomes inescapable that victory is impossible. With General David Petraeus only recently installed in Baghdad and his surge strategy not yet fully under way, Mr. McCain realizes that we are nowhere near being able to draw that conclusion.

Not surprisingly, all this has the media in a state of apoplexy, with his former liberal pals shaking their heads in phony regret that his supposed blunder in Baghdad--observing last week that a market is safer than it was only a few months ago--is going to sink his candidacy. Our view is that Mr. McCain's difficulty so far in attracting conservative voters has nothing to do with Iraq, and everything to do with the positions that once made him the media darling. On the contrary, his support for the war and his appreciation of the stakes is one thing that keeps his candidacy alive, at least within the Republican Party.

Later today, Mr. McCain will deliver a speech at the Virginia Military Institute about how the war in Iraq can be won. Along with many Americans, we will listen with interest and respect, not because we always agree with Mr. McCain, but because he has demonstrated that his views on the subject are serious and born of belief, not of polls. That's more than can be said for most of our political and chattering classes, and a reason to admire a politician whose newfound unpopularity coincides with his finest political hour.
27990  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Ajami: Iraq in the Balance on: April 11, 2007, 09:25:43 AM
From today's WSJ:

Iraq in the Balance
In Washington, panic. In Baghdad, cautious optimism.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

BAGHDAD--For 35 years the sun did not shine here," said a man on the grounds of the great Shia shrine of al-Kadhimiyyah, on the outskirts of Baghdad. I had come to the shrine at night, in the company of the Shia politician Ahmed Chalabi.

We had driven in an armed convoy, and our presence had drawn a crowd. The place was bathed with light, framed by multiple minarets--a huge rectangular structure, its beauty and dereliction side by side. The tile work was exquisite, there were deep Persian carpets everywhere, the gifts of benefactors, rulers and merchants, drawn from the world of Shi'ism.

It was a cool spring night, and beguilingly tranquil. (There were the echoes of a firefight across the river, from the Sunni neighborhood of al-Adhamiyyah, but it was background noise and oddly easy to ignore.) A keeper of the shrine had been showing us the place, and he was proud of its doors made of teak from Burma--a kind of wood, he said, that resisted rain, wind and sun. It was to that description that the quiet man on the edge of this gathering had offered the thought that the sun had not risen during the long night of Baathist despotism.

A traveler who moves between Baghdad and Washington is struck by the gloomy despair in Washington and the cautious sense of optimism in Baghdad. Baghdad has not been prettified; its streets remain a sore to the eye, its government still hunkered down in the Green Zone, and violence is never far. But the sense of deliverance, and the hopes invested in this new security plan, are palpable. I crisscrossed the city--always with armed protection--making my way to Sunni and Shia politicians and clerics alike. The Sunni and Shia versions of political things--of reality itself--remain at odds. But there can be discerned, through the acrimony, the emergence of a fragile consensus.
Some months back, the Bush administration had called into question both the intentions and capabilities of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki. But this modest and earnest man, born in 1950, a child of the Shia mainstream in the Middle Euphrates, has come into his own. He had not been a figure of the American regency in Baghdad. Steeped entirely in the Arabic language and culture, he had a been a stranger to the Americans; fate cast him on the scene when the Americans pushed aside Mr. Maliki's colleague in the Daawa Party, Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari.

There had been rumors that the Americans could strike again in their search for a leader who would give the American presence better cover. There had been steady talk that the old CIA standby, former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, could make his way back to power. Mr. Allawi himself had fed these speculations, but this is fantasy. Mr. Allawi circles Arab capitals and is rarely at home in his country. Mr. Maliki meanwhile has settled into his role.

In retrospect, the defining moment for Mr. Maliki had been those early hours of Dec. 30, when Saddam Hussein was sent to the gallows. He had not flinched, the decision was his, and he assumed it. Beyond the sound and fury of the controversy that greeted the execution, Mr. Maliki had taken the execution as a warrant for a new accommodation with the Sunni political class. A lifelong opponent of the Baath, he had come to the judgment that the back of the apparatus of the old regime had been broken, and that the time had come for an olive branch to those ready to accept the new political rules.

When I called on Mr. Maliki at his residence, a law offering pensions to the former officers of the Iraqi army had been readied and was soon put into effect. That decision had been supported by the head of the de-Baathification commission, Ahmed Chalabi. A proposal for a deeper reversal of the de-Baathification process was in the works, and would be announced days later by Mr. Maliki and President Jalal Talabani. This was in truth Zalmay Khalilzad's doing, his attempt to bury the entire de-Baathification effort as his tenure drew to a close.

This was more than the political traffic in the Shia community could bear. Few were ready to accept the return of old Baathists to government service. The victims of the old terror were appalled at a piece of this legislation, giving them a period of only three months to bring charges against their former tormentors. This had not been Mr. Maliki's choice--for his animus toward the Baath has been the driving force of his political life. It was known that he trusted that the religious hierarchy in Najaf, and the forces within the Shia alliance, would rein in this drive toward rehabilitating the remnants of the old regime.

Power and experience have clearly changed Mr. Maliki as he makes his way between the Shia coalition that sustains him on the one hand, and the American presence on the other. By all accounts, he is increasingly independent of the diehards in his own coalition--another dividend of the high-profile executions of Saddam Hussein and three of the tyrant's principal lieutenants. He is surrounded by old associates drawn from the Daawa Party, but keeps his own counsel.

There is a built-in tension between a prime minister keen to press for his own prerogatives and an American military presence that underpins the security of this new order. Mr. Maliki does not have the access to American military arms he would like; he does not have control over an Iraqi special-forces brigade that the Americans had trained and nurtured. His police forces remain poorly equipped. The levers of power are not fully his, and he knows it. Not a student of American ways--he spent his years of exile mostly in Syria--he is fully aware of the American exhaustion with Iraq as leading American politicians have come his way often.

The nightmare of this government is that of a precipitous American withdrawal. Six months ago, the British quit the southern city of Amarrah, the capital of the Maysan Province. It had been, by Iraqi accounts, a precipitous British decision, and the forces of Moqtada al-Sadr had rushed into the void; they had looted the barracks and overpowered the police. Amarrah haunts the Iraqis in the circle of power--the prospect of Americans leaving this government to fend for itself.

In the long scheme of history, the Shia Arabs had never governed--and Mr. Maliki and the coalition arrayed around him know their isolation in the region. This Iraqi state of which they had become the principal inheritors will have to make its way in a hostile regional landscape. Set aside Turkey's Islamist government, with its avowedly Sunni mindset and its sense of itself as a claimant to an older Ottoman tradition; the Arab order of power is yet to make room for this Iraqi state. Mr. Maliki's first trip beyond Iraq's borders had been to Saudi Arabia. He had meant that visit as a message that Iraq's "Arab identity" will trump all other orientations. It had been a message that the Arab world's Shia stepchildren were ready to come into the fold. But a huge historical contest had erupted in Baghdad, the seat of the Abbasid caliphate had fallen to new Shia inheritors, and the custodians of Arab power were not yet ready for this new history.

For one, the "Sunni street"--the Islamists, the pan-Arabists who hid their anti-Shia animus underneath a secular cover, the intellectual class that had been invested in the ideology of the Baath party--remained unalterably opposed to this new Iraq. The Shia could offer the Arab rulers the promise that their new state would refrain from regional adventures, but it would not be easy for these rulers to come to this accommodation.

A worldly Shia cleric, the legislator Humam Hamoudi who had headed the constitutional drafting committee, told me that he had laid out to interlocutors from the House of Saud the case that this new Iraqi state would be a better neighbor than the Sunni-based state of Saddam Hussein had been. "We would not be given to military adventures beyond our borders, what wealth we have at our disposal would have to go to repairing our homeland, for you we would be easier to fend off for we are Shiites and would be cognizant and respectful of the differences between us," Mr. Hamoudi had said. "You had a fellow Sunni in Baghdad for more than three decades, and look what terrible harvest, what wreckage, he left behind." This sort of appeal is yet to be heard, for this change in Baghdad is a break with a long millennium of Sunni Arab primacy.

The blunt truth of this new phase in the fight for Iraq is that the Sunnis have lost the battle for Baghdad. The great flight from Baghdad to Jordan, to Syria, to other Arab destinations, has been the flight of Baghdad's Sunni middle-class. It is they who had the means of escape, and the savings.
Whole mixed districts in the city--Rasafa, Karkh--have been emptied of their Sunni populations. Even the old Sunni neighborhood of Adhamiyyah is embattled and besieged. What remains for the Sunnis are the western outskirts. This was the tragic logic of the campaign of terror waged by the Baathists and the jihadists against the Shia; this was what played out in the terrible year that followed the attack on the Askariya shrine of Samarra in February 2006. Possessed of an old notion of their own dominion, and of Shia passivity and quiescence, the Sunni Arabs waged a war they were destined to lose.

No one knows with any precision the sectarian composition of today's Baghdad, but there are estimates that the Sunnis may now account for 15% of the city's population. Behind closed doors, Sunni leaders speak of the great calamity that befell their community. They admit to a great disappointment in the Arab states that fed the flames but could never alter the contest on the ground in Iraq. No Arab cavalry had ridden, or was ever going to ride, to the rescue of the Sunnis of Iraq.

A cultured member of the (Sunni) Association of Muslim Scholars in Baghdad, a younger man of deep moderation, likened the dilemma of his community to that of the Palestinian Arabs since 1948. "They waited for deliverance that never came," he said. "Like them, we placed our hopes in Arab leaders who have their own concerns. We fell for those Arab satellite channels, we believed that Arab brigades would turn up in Anbar and Baghdad. We made room for al Qaeda only to have them turn on us in Anbar." There had once been a Sunni maxim in Iraq, "for us ruling and power, for you self-flagellation," that branded the Shia as a people of sorrow and quietism. Now the ground has shifted, and among the Sunnis there is a widespread sentiment of disinheritance and loss.

The Mahdi Army, more precisely the underclass of Sadr City, had won the fight for Baghdad. This Shia underclass had been hurled into the city from its ancestral lands in the Marshes and the Middle Euphrates. In a cruel twist of irony, Baathist terror had driven these people into the slums of Baghdad. The Baathist tyranny had cut down the palm trees in the south, burned the reed beds of the Marshes. Then the campaign of terror that Sunni society sheltered and abetted in the aftermath of the despot's fall gave the Mahdi Army its cause and its power.

"The Mahdi Army protected us and our lands, our homes, and our honor," said a tribal Shia notable in a meeting in Baghdad, acknowledging that it was perhaps time for the boys of Moqtada al-Sadr to step aside in favor of the government forces. He laid bare, as he spoke, the terrible complications of this country; six of his sisters, he said, were married to Sunnis, countless nephews of his were Sunni. Violence had hacked away at this pluralism; no one could be certain when, and if, the place could mend.

In their grief, the Sunni Arabs have fallen back on the most unexpected of hopes; having warred against the Americans, they now see them as redeemers. "This government is an American creation," a powerful Sunni legislator, Saleh al-Mutlak, said. "It is up to the Americans to replace it, change the constitution that was imposed on us, replace this incompetent, sectarian government with a government of national unity, a cabinet of technocrats." Shrewd and alert to the ways of the world (he has a Ph.D. in soil science from a university in the U.K.) Mr. Mutlak gave voice to a wider Sunni conviction that this order in Baghdad is but an American puppet. America and Iran may be at odds in the region, but the Sunni Arabs see an American-Persian conspiracy that had robbed them of their patrimony.
They had made their own bed, the Sunni Arabs, but old habits of dominion die hard, and save but for a few, there is precious little acknowledgment of the wages of the terror that the Shia had been subjected to in the years that followed the American invasion. As matters stand, the Sunni Arabs are in desperate need of leaders who can call off the violence, cut a favorable deal for their community, and distance that community form the temptations and the ruin of the insurgency. It is late in the hour, but there is still eagerness in the Maliki government to conciliate the Sunnis, if only to give the country a chance at normalcy.

The Shia have come into their own, but there still hovers over them their old history of dispossession; there still trails shadows of doubt about their hold on power, about conspiracies hatched against them in neighboring Arab lands.

The Americans have given birth to this new Shia primacy, but there lingers a fear, in the inner circles of the Shia coalition, that the Americans have in mind a Sunni-based army, of the Pakistani and Turkish mold, that would upend the democratic, majoritarian bases of power on which Shia primacy rests. They are keenly aware, these new Shia men of power in Baghdad, that the Pax Americana in the region is based on an alliance of long standing with the Sunni regimes. They are under no illusions about their own access to Washington when compared with that of Cairo, Riyadh, Amman and the smaller principalities of the Persian Gulf. This suspicion is in the nature of things; it is the way of once marginal men who had come into an unexpected triumph.

In truth, it is not only the Arab order of power that remains ill at ease with the rise of the Shia of Iraq. The (Shia) genie that came out of the bottle was not fully to America's liking. Indeed, the U.S. strategy in Iraq had tried to sidestep the history that America itself had given birth to. There had been the disastrous regency of Paul Bremer. It had been followed by the attempt to create a national security state under Ayad Allawi. Then there had come the strategy of the American envoy, Zalmay Khalilzad, that aimed to bring the Sunni leadership into the political process and wean them away from the terror and the insurgency.

Mr. Khalilzad had become, in his own sense of himself, something of a High Commissioner in Iraq, and his strategy had ended in failure; the Sunni leaders never broke with the insurgency. Their sobriety of late has been a function of the defeat their cause has suffered on the ground; all the inducements had not worked.

We are now in a new, and fourth, phase of this American presence. We should not try to "cheat" in the region, conceal what we had done, or apologize for it, by floating an Arab-Israeli peace process to the liking of the "Sunni street."

The Arabs have an unerring feel for the ways of strangers who venture into their lands. Deep down, the Sunni Arabs know what the fight for Baghdad is all about--oil wealth and power, the balance between the Sunni edifice of material and moral power and the claims of the Shia stepchildren. To this fight, Iran is a newcomer, an outlier. This is an old Arab account, the fight between the order of merchants and rulers and establishment jurists on the one side, and the righteous (Shia) oppositionists on the other. How apt it is that the struggle that had been fought on the plains of Karbala in southern Iraq so long ago has now returned, full circle, to Iraq.

For our part, we can't give full credence to the Sunni representations of things. We can cushion the Sunni defeat but can't reverse it. Our soldiers have not waged wars in Afghanistan and Iraq against Sunni extremists to fall for the fear of some imagined "Shia crescent" peddled by Sunni rulers and preachers. To that atavistic fight between Sunni and Shia, we ought to remain decent and discerning arbiters. To be sure, in Iraq itself we can't give a blank check to Shia maximalism. On its own, mainstream Shi'ism is eager to rein in its own diehards and self-anointed avengers.

There is a growing Shia unease with the Mahdi Army--and with the venality and incompetence of the Sadrists represented in the cabinet--and an increasing faith that the government and its instruments of order are the surer bet. The crackdown on the Mahdi Army that the new American commander, Gen. David Petraeus, has launched has the backing of the ruling Shia coalition. Iraqi police and army units have taken to the field against elements of the Mahdi army. In recent days, in the southern city of Diwaniyya, American and Iraqi forces have together battled the forces of Moqtada al-Sadr. To the extent that the Shia now see Iraq as their own country, their tolerance for mayhem and chaos has receded. Sadr may damn the American occupiers, but ordinary Shia men and women know that the liberty that came their way had been a gift of the Americans.

The young men of little education--earnest displaced villagers with the ways of the countryside showing through their features and dialect and shiny suits--who guarded me through Baghdad, spoke of old terrors, and of the joy and dignity of this new order. Children and nephews and younger brothers of men lost to the terror of the Baath, they are done with the old servitude. They behold the Americans keeping the peace of their troubled land with undisguised gratitude. It hasn't been always brilliant, this campaign waged in Iraq. But its mistakes can never smother its honor, and no apology for it is due the Arab autocrats who had averted their gaze from Iraq's long night of terror under the Baath.

One can never reconcile the beneficiaries of illegitimate, abnormal power to the end of their dominion. But this current re-alignment in Iraq carries with it a gift for the possible redemption of modern Islam among the Arabs. Hitherto Sunni Islam had taken its hegemony for granted and extremist strands within it have shown a refusal to accept "the other." Conversely, Shia history has been distorted by weakness and exclusion and by a concomitant abdication of responsibility.
A Shia-led state in Baghdad--with a strong Kurdish presence in it and a big niche for the Sunnis--can go a long way toward changing the region's terrible habits and expectations of authority and command. The Sunnis would still be hegemonic in the Arab councils of power beyond Iraq, but their monopoly would yield to the pluralism and complexity of that region.

"Watch your adjectives" is the admonition given American officers by Gen. Petraeus. In Baghdad, Americans and Iraqis alike know that this big endeavor has entered its final, decisive phase. Iraq has surprised and disappointed us before, but as they and we watch our adjectives there can be discerned the shape of a new country, a rough balance of forces commensurate with the demography of the place and with the outcome of a war that its erstwhile Sunni rulers had launched and lost. We made this history and should now make our peace with it.

Mr. Ajami, a 2006 recipient of the Bradley Prize, teaches at Johns Hopkins and is author of "The Foreigner's Gift: The Americans, the Arabs, and the Iraqis in Iraq" (Free Press, 2006).
27991  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Iran gets feisty with the Russians on: April 11, 2007, 09:12:49 AM
1137 GMT -- RUSSIA, IRAN -- Iranian military exercises near its Bushehr nuclear power plant April 6 have raised tensions around the project, Interfax reported April 11, citing a Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman. Russia has expressed its surprise over the air defense practice and has asked Tehran to inform Russia in advance about plans to hold military exercises in the future.
27992  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Hope for the Warriors on: April 11, 2007, 09:01:29 AM
27993  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Dog Brothers East Cost Seminar featuring Guro Marc “Crafty Dog” Denny on: April 11, 2007, 03:09:59 AM
Two reviews of this seminar from the Warrior Talk forum:

My background: approximately 2 years of JKD style training, to include Kali, Silat, Boxing, Muay Thai, and BJJ. I know a little bit of everything, but am certainly not an expert in anything.

My familiarity with Guro Marc Denny's material, prior to attending this seminar, was from his "Die Less Often" DVD, as well as reading things he had posted and watching videos on the Dog Brothers site.

Titan Fitness was an excellent facility for the seminar. They have considerable amounts of floor space, including a lot of mat space, which is helpful for any evolutions that involve going to the ground. They were also very close to lodging and multiple eateries. (These, at least for me, are important considerations!)

Guro Denny, aka "Crafty," started the seminar on time at 10:00am, Saturday morning. We began with a fun warmup, which Crafty referred to as a "prison yard riot." It got everybody moving and having fun at the same time, which is often a difficult thing to do. After that we did some stretches and moved right in to the instructional block of material.

Crafty started us out with some very basic footwork drills, but obviously footwork is the key to fighting, and I appreciate that greatly. All of Crafty's footwork is straight from Kali/Silat paradigms, however he has a different perspective on it. Further, he's used a different naming convention more in keeping with the Dog Brothers mentality. Instead of calling things "triangles," they're called variants of "teeth." Additionally he introduced the "Kali Fence."

We built upon the initial footwork drills, and as the instruction continued, it became apparent that what Crafty was offering was an "entry system." The remainder of the seminar confirmed this hunch. Crafty's specialty, at least during this block of instruction, was getting from the outside range and into real engagement distance. Crafty referred to it as "filling in the vowels in the alphabet." He said that most styles teach you what do to once you've gone hands on, but many of them fall down when it comes to closing the gap.

Crafty is a fan of taking a later lunch, and the first day we didn't break for a meal until 1:00pm. For those of you who eat every few hours, I recommend you bring a protein bar and water or similar. His instruction style and scheduling is a bit more informal than some other seminar instructors, so be prepared for a more "flexible" schedule. Based on what I saw, you may have regular breaks, or not. You will likely end each day closer to 5:30pm than the scheduled 4:00pm. I was fine with this, but some people don't like that sort of schedule. You should simply know about it and come prepared.

During the afternoon of the first day, Crafty went into his "Die Less Often" material. For those of you not familiar with it, it is a system to deal with very agressive knife attacks on the forehand line. What Crafty taught during this phase was exactly what you get in his DVD. He went into the "Dog Catcher," as well as all of the nuances that make or break this technique.

The beginning of the second day was more of the DLO material, and then some of what Crafty calls Kali Tudo, or the implementation of Kali and Silat principles into armed and unarmed fighting.

As the day progressed, we started working with stick fighting paradigms. Once again, Crafty was teaching entries, this time with single and double stick. Prior to this point, everything had been quite simple, and, as near as I could tell, everybody in the seminar had no problems grasping what Crafty was teaching. When the sticks came out, however, things changed quite a bit.

While the stick paradigms that Crafty was teaching were still basic, many of the seminar attendees had very little experience with singel or double stick, and so they were having problems. I'm left to conclude that a seminar is, quite possibly, the worst place to try and pick up single or double stick.

Overall I had a great time at the seminar. Crafty is very engaging, and more than willing to entertain questions about any aspect of his instruction, training, past, philosophies, etc. He continually mentions and gives credit to other instructors from which he has learned, most especially Guro Dan Inosanto.

Throughout his instruction he is actively discussing the problems he's trying to deal with, as well as jokingly referring to some of the techniques that he plays with: "oh, that doesn't work, does it?" He is very reality based, and he talks about the differences between the ring and reality quite a bit.

I enjoyed the seminar and would highly recommend it. One of the things I really appreciate about what Crafty teaches is the fact that you can plug it in to just about any other martial art and make it work. He has spent a considerable amount of time researching and playing with the area that I feel many martial arts don't deal with so well, and I believe with a bit of practice, the things I learned from Guro Crafty will be a part of my standard repetoire from here on out.


Really good overview of the seminar. I'm going to add my two cents or so, from a rather different perspective.
The first time I trained with Crafty is pushing 11 or 12 years ago- his seminar format (and content) has evolved quite a bit over that time. I would guess that I see Crafty something around every two years (though that will likely as east coast appearances are on the rise) so there is definately an evolution in progress. 10+ years ago the emphasis was on the stick and on preparing for and then playing "real contact;" an early model impact based force on force if you will. If I had to sum up "Seminar Crafty" circa 1995 or 6 it would be "here are some variables you must plug into whatever you do if it is going to work under pressure."

Moving forward, today's Crafty is teaching a very coherent series of modules which dovetail nicely (one underlying theme for the weekend was similarity of footwork grids and final positions relative to the opponent regardless of the particular tool being used.

There was also a very real sense of the material being developed beyond simple fight strategies and pressure-testing. Crafty has a very well-developed theory of violence and agression and weaves this through the various blocks of instruction. A very refreshing part of this was the frequent warning that America is a gun culture, and that one is as likely to be dealing with a firearm as any other type of weapon.

The only real negative in Jayman's review was the observation that quite a few folks had some degree of difficulty with the stick material. This certainly was the case, although I think part of the difficulty may have been that, while Crafty is known as a stick teacher, this event was not so much a stick seminar. Perhaps is the sticks had come out early on day one rather than late on day two there might have been less brain fade...on the other hand I really enjoyed the new material.

As anyone who reads his posts knows Crafty is a pretty analytic fellow- his seminars are honestly worth it just for the thoughts and ideas one can pick up. His material is evolving and growing, though he does always make a great effort to give credit to his sources, teachers, and inspirations. This was the first time I had seen him since he really started collaborating with Gabe- I think the exchange of ideas is working well for both men.

The short conclusion- if Crafty isn't on your short list of people to train with you should re-think that list.
27994  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Earn Them on: April 11, 2007, 02:31:19 AM
"Earn them" ...  A classroom without any desks..

Back in September of 2005, on the first day of school, Martha Cothren, a
Social Studies school teacher at Robinson High School in Little Rock , did
something not to be forgotten. On the first day of school, with permission
of the school superintendent, the principal and the building supervisor, she
took all of the desks out of the classroom.

The kids came into first period, they walked in, there were no desks. They
obviously looked around and said, "Ms. Cothren, where's our desk?" And she
said, "You can't have a desk until you tell me how you earn them." They
thought, "Well, maybe it's our grades." No," she said. Maybe it's our behavior.And
she told them, "No, it's not even your behavior." And so they came and went
in the first period, still no desks in the classroom. Second period, same
thing. Third period.

By early afternoon television news crews had gathered in Ms. Cothren's class
to find out about this crazy teacher who had taken all the desks out of the
classroom. The last period of the day, Martha Cothren gathered her class.
They were at this time sitting on the floor around the sides of the room.
And she says, "Throughout the day no one has really understood how you EARN
the desks that ordinarily sit in this classroom."

She said,"Now I'm going to tell you." And then Martha Cothren went over to
the door of her classroom and opened it, and as she did 27 U.S. veterans,
wearing their uniforms, walked into that classroom, each one carrying a
school desk. They
placed those desks in rows, and then they stood along the wall. And by the
time they had finished placing those desks, those kids for the first time
....I think perhaps in their lives understood how they earned those desks.

Martha said, "You don't have to earn those desks. These guys did it for you.
They put them out there for you, but it's up to you to sit here responsibly
to learn, to be good students and good citizens, because they paid a very
dear price for you to have that desk .....and don't ever forget that."
27995  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Open Letter to Muslims, Liberals, Democrats, et al on: April 10, 2007, 11:38:16 PM
Thank you.
27996  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iran on: April 10, 2007, 06:00:56 PM : Iranian Nukes Not For Sale

The Islamic Republic of Iran celebrated its first national "Nuclear Technology Day" on Monday. The celebration began at 9 a.m. local time, when school bells across the country rang in unison, congratulatory text messages from the government were sent out to millions of mobile phone users, U.S. and Israeli flags went up in flames and a massive cake colored to resemble yellowcake was devoured. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad led the festivities at the country's enrichment facility at Natanz, where he boldly announced that Iran "has joined the nuclear club of nations and can produce nuclear fuel on an industrial scale.''

Let us not forget that Ahmadinejad also announced a year ago that Iran had joined the nuclear club by running two cascades of 164 centrifuges. So, what's the news in this latest statement?

Producing nuclear fuel on an industrial scale that would place Iran well on its way to a uranium-based weapons program would involve something on the order of 3,000 defect-free centrifuges enriching to around 90 percent of the fissile isotope of uranium, up from the 3.5 percent that Iran is likely capable of in small amounts today. When asked if Iran had started injecting gas into 3,000 centrifuges being set up at the Natanz facility, National Security Chief Ali Larijani vaguely said, "Yes we have injected gas." The deputy chief of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, Mohammad Saidi, offered a bit more clarification when he denied they had reached the 3,000-centrifuge stage and said, "We have so far been dealing with the completion of two cascades of 164 centrifuges as a pilot stage and passing this phase means industrialization of uranium enrichment." Claiming industrialization is still quite a stretch when one factors in the crude quality of Iran's centrifuges and the approximately 3,000 functional centrifuges needed for a rudimentary industrial capacity -- at the very least.

The Iranians tend to promote their nuclear program one step ahead of what they have actually achieved. That is, the nuclear announcement a year ago was likely indicative of what the Iranian scientists had achieved in a test run, and Monday's announcement is the culmination of experiments conducted over the past year that have brought Iran to a stage at which its perfected enrichment is around 3 percent to 5 percent with two cascades of 164 centrifuges -- still well below the needed threshold for a solid weapons program, much less a power program that would take dozens of times more.

Putting the techno-babble aside, it is important to examine the purpose of Iran's nuclear program in the context of the ongoing negotiations between Washington and Tehran over Iraq. Though Ahmadinejad has been talking about a big announcement since early February, it appears that the declaration of Nuclear Technology Day came at a politically convenient time for the Iranians when viewed in the context of the Iraq negotiations.

Iran and the United States are both aggressively moving to try to gain the upper hand in these talks. The Iranians played their most recent hand, the British detainee incident, quite skillfully. In what was seen as a risky maneuver, Iran in one swoop called the U.S. and British bluff that military force is a viable option against Iran, humiliated the British government through the public confessions from the detainees and, finally, demonstrated that it can effectively negotiate and deliver -- just as it could in a potential Iraq deal. Though the British detainee incident helped strengthen Iran's bargaining position, it provided Iran with only a minor advance. The United States did not waste time in making its next move with a new military offensive called Operation Black Eagle against Iran's Shiite militant allies in the town of Ad Diwaniyeh south of Baghdad, Iraq.

This is why Iran relies heavily on the nuclear card in these negotiations. When Iranian dissidents leaked details of Iran's covert nuclear program in 2002, Iran's chances of achieving full nuclear capability without facing a direct threat from Israel or the United States were severely crippled. When Washington made clear that it did not feel the need to negotiate with Iran over the future of Iraq in the spring of 2003 -- when the war was still in its early stages and the United States was still denying a Sunni insurgency existed -- Iran made the strategic decision to ratchet up the nuclear threat and utilize its militant assets throughout the region to bring Washington back to the negotiating table on Iran's terms.

Though this process is still ongoing, the United States and Iran have now reached a level in the Iraq standoff in which both sides realize they need to deal with each other to avoid their worst-case scenarios in Iraq. This mutual dependence also has given Iran the confidence that its nuclear program need not be viewed solely as a bargaining chip by the United States, and instead must become part of any deal Washington wants on Iraq. In other words, Iran is gambling that a final deal over Iraq will not require an Iranian capitulation on its nukes. Even if Iran agrees to inspections of its nuclear facilities or a cap on a certain level of enrichment, the clerical regime is likely calculating that these guarantees can be manipulated down the road for Iran to reactivate its program without much trouble.

This could be why Larijani announced on Sunday that Iran is now ready to "begin real negotiations" over its nuclear program, signaling that the Islamic Republic has reached a technological level that is advanced enough to put it on the path toward a weapons program, but not threatening enough to require pre-emptive military action -- a nice, cushy spot for negotiations.

The United States, on the other hand, is unlikely feeling pressured enough to grant the Iranians their nuclear wish. Already Washington has made an effort to separate the nuclear and Iraq issue in order to deprive Iran of one of its key bargaining tools. Washington also is not about to go against the interests of Israel, Russia and other invested parties in the dispute that do not wish to see the emergence of a nuclear-capable Iran.

Even so, Iran is making one thing very clear in this stage of the Iraq negotiations: Iranian nukes are not for sale.
27997  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Military Science on: April 10, 2007, 05:52:34 PM
Its no secret I think a lot of www.stratfor .  That said, the following piece makes some points with which I disagree-- specifically in its analysis of the possibility of blockading Iran.

IMHO the decision not to embargo was less a military one (and the piece is a discussion of military theory) than a political one-- and again IMHO naval power may well be quite necessary if we are to stop Iran from going nuke.

The Limitations and Necessity of Naval Power
By George Friedman

It has now been four years since the fall of Baghdad concluded the U.S. invasion of Iraq. We have said much about the Iraq war, and for the moment there is little left to say. The question is whether the United States will withdraw forces from Iraq or whether it will be able to craft some sort of political resolution to the war, both within Iraq and in the region. Military victory, in the sense of the unfettered imposition of U.S. will in Iraq, does not appear to us a possibility. Therefore, over the next few months, against the background of the U.S. offensive in Baghdad, the political equation will play out. The action continues. The analysis must pause and await results.

During this pause, we have been thinking about some of the broader questions involved in Iraq -- and about the nature and limits of American military power in particular. We recently considered the purpose of U.S. wars since World War II in our discussion of U.S. warfare as strategic spoiling attack. Now we turn to another dimension of U.S. military power -- the U.S. Navy -- and consider what role, if any, it plays in national security at this point.

Recent events have directed our attention to the role and limits of naval power. During the detention of the 15 British sailors and marines, an idea floated by many people was that the United States should impose a blockade against Iran. The argument was driven partly by a lack of other options: Neither an invasion nor an extended air campaign seemed a viable alternative. Moreover, the United States' experience in erecting blockades is rich with decisive examples: the Cuban missile crisis, barring Germany's ability to trade during World War II or that of the American South during the Civil War. The one unquestionable military asset the United States has is its Navy, which can impose sea-lane control anywhere in the world. Finally, Iran -- which is rich in oil (all of which is exported by sea) but lacks sufficient refinery capacity of its own -- relies on imported gasoline. Therefore, the argument went, imposing a naval blockade would cripple Iran's economy and bring the leadership to the negotiating table.

Washington never seriously considered the option. This was partly because of diplomatic discussions that indicated that the British detainees would be released under any circumstances. And it was partly because of the difficulties involved in blockading Iran at this time:

1. Iran could mount strategic counters to a blockade, either by increasing anti-U.S. operations by its Shiite allies in Iraq or by inciting Shiite communities in the Arabian Peninsula to unrest. The United States didn't have appetite for the risk.

2. Blockades always involve the interdiction of vessels operated by third countries -- countries that might not appreciate being interdicted. The potential repercussions of interdicting merchant vessels belonging to powers that did not accept the blockade was a price the United States would not pay at this time.

A blockade was not selected because it was not needed, because Iran could retaliate in other ways and because a blockade might damage countries other than Iran that the United States didn't want to damage. It was, therefore, not in the cards. Not imposing a blockade made sense.

The Value of Naval Power

This raises a more fundamental question: What is the value of naval power in a world in which naval battles are not fought? To frame the question more clearly, let us begin by noting that the United States has maintained global maritime hegemony since the end of World War II. Except for the failed Soviet attempt to partially challenge the United States, the most important geopolitical fact since World War II was that the world's oceans were effectively under the control of the U.S. Navy. Prior to World War II, there were multiple contenders for maritime power, such as Britain, Japan and most major powers. No one power, not even Britain, had global maritime hegemony. The United States now does. The question is whether this hegemony has any real value at this time -- a question made relevant by the issue of whether to blockade Iran.

The United States controls the blue water. To be a little more precise, the U.S. Navy can assert direct and overwhelming control over any portion of the blue water it wishes, and it can do so in multiple places. It cannot directly control all of the oceans at the same time. However, the total available naval force that can be deployed by non-U.S. powers (friendly and other) is so limited that they lack the ability, even taken together, to assert control anywhere should the United States challenge their presence. This is an unprecedented situation historically.

The current situation is, of course, invaluable to the United States. It means that a seaborne invasion of the United States by any power is completely impractical. Given the geopolitical condition of the United States, the homeland is secure from conventional military attack but vulnerable to terrorist strikes and nuclear attacks. At the same time, the United States is in a position to project forces at will to any part of the globe. Such power projection might not be wise at times, but even failure does not lead to reciprocation. For instance, no matter how badly U.S. forces fare in Iraq, the Iraqis will not invade the United States if the Americans are defeated there.

This is not a trivial fact. Control of the seas means that military or political failure in Eurasia will not result in a direct conventional threat to the United States. Nor does such failure necessarily preclude future U.S. intervention in that region. It also means that no other state can choose to invade the United States. Control of the seas allows the United States to intervene where it wants, survive the consequences of failure and be immune to occupation itself. It was the most important geopolitical consequence of World War II, and one that still defines the world.

The issue for the United States is not whether it should abandon control of the seas -- that would be irrational in the extreme. Rather, the question is whether it has to exert itself at all in order to retain that control. Other powers either have abandoned attempts to challenge the United States, have fallen short of challenging the United States or have confined their efforts to building navies for extremely limited uses, or for uses aligned with the United States. No one has a shipbuilding program under way that could challenge the United States for several generations.

One argument, then, is that the United States should cut its naval forces radically -- since they have, in effect, done their job. Mothballing a good portion of the fleet would free up resources for other military requirements without threatening U.S. ability to control the sea-lanes. Should other powers attempt to build fleets to challenge the United States, the lead time involved in naval construction is such that the United States would have plenty of opportunities for re-commissioning ships or building new generations of vessels to thwart the potential challenge.

The counterargument normally given is that the U.S. Navy provides a critical service in what is called littoral warfare. In other words, while the Navy might not be needed immediately to control sea-lanes, it carries out critical functions in securing access to those lanes and projecting rapid power into countries where the United States might want to intervene. Thus, U.S. aircraft carriers can bring tactical airpower to bear relatively quickly in any intervention. Moreover, the Navy's amphibious capabilities -- particularly those of deploying and supplying the U.S. Marines -- make for a rapid deployment force that, when coupled with Naval airpower, can secure hostile areas of interest for the United States.

That argument is persuasive, but it poses this problem: The Navy provides a powerful option for war initiation by the United States, but it cannot by itself sustain the war. In any sustained conflict, the Army must be brought in to occupy territory -- or, as in Iraq, the Marines must be diverted from the amphibious specialty to serve essentially as Army units. Naval air by itself is a powerful opening move, but greater infusions of airpower are needed for a longer conflict. Naval transport might well be critically important in the opening stages, but commercial transport sustains the operation.

If one accepts this argument, the case for a Navy of the current size and shape is not proven. How many carrier battle groups are needed and, given the threat to the carriers, is an entire battle group needed to protect them?

If we consider the Iraq war in isolation, for example, it is apparent that the Navy served a function in the defeat of Iraq's conventional forces. It is not clear, however, that the Navy has served an important role in the attempt to occupy and pacify Iraq. And, as we have seen in the case of Iran, a blockade is such a complex politico-military matter that the option not to blockade tends to emerge as the obvious choice.

The Risk Not Taken

The argument for slashing the Navy can be tempting. But consider the counterargument. First, and most important, we must consider the crises the United States has not experienced. The presence of the U.S. Navy has shaped the ambitions of primary and secondary powers. The threshold for challenging the Navy has been so high that few have even initiated serious challenges. Those that might be trying to do so, like the Chinese, understand that it requires a substantial diversion of resources. Therefore, the mere existence of U.S. naval power has been effective in averting crises that likely would have occurred otherwise. Reducing the power of the U.S. Navy, or fine-tuning it, would not only open the door to challenges but also eliminate a useful, if not essential, element in U.S. strategy -- the ability to bring relatively rapid force to bear.

There are times when the Navy's use is tactical, and times when it is strategic. At this moment in U.S. history, the role of naval power is highly strategic. The domination of the world's oceans represents the foundation stone of U.S. grand strategy. It allows the United States to take risks while minimizing consequences. It facilitates risk-taking. Above all, it eliminates the threat of sustained conventional attack against the homeland. U.S. grand strategy has worked so well that this risk appears to be a phantom. The dispersal of U.S. forces around the world attests to what naval power can achieve. It is illusory to believe that this situation cannot be reversed, but it is ultimately a generational threat. Just as U.S. maritime hegemony is measured in generations, the threat to that hegemony will emerge over generations. The apparent lack of utility of naval forces in secondary campaigns, like Iraq, masks the fundamentally indispensable role the Navy plays in U.S. national security.

That does not mean that the Navy as currently structured is sacrosanct -- far from it. Peer powers will be able to challenge the U.S. fleet, but not by building their own fleets. Rather, the construction of effective anti-ship missile systems -- which can destroy merchant ships as well as overwhelm U.S. naval anti-missile systems -- represents a low-cost challenge to U.S. naval power. This is particularly true when these anti-ship missiles are tied to space-based, real-time reconnaissance systems. A major power such as China need not be able to mirror the U.S. Navy in order to challenge it.

Whatever happens in Iraq -- or Iran -- the centrality of naval power is unchanging. But the threat to naval power evolves. The fact that there is no threat to U.S. control of the sea-lanes at this moment does not mean one will not emerge. Whether with simple threats like mines or the most sophisticated anti-ship system, the ability to keep the U.S. Navy from an area or to close off strategic chokepoints for shipping remains the major threat to the United States -- which is, first and foremost, a maritime power.

One of the dangers of wars like those in Iraq and Afghanistan is that they soak up resources and intellectual bandwidth. It is said that generals always fight the last war. Another way of stating that is to say they believe the war they are fighting now will go on forever in some form. That belief leads to neglect of capabilities that appear superfluous for the current conflict. That is the true hollowing-out that extended warfare creates. It is an intellectual hollowing-out.
27998  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: April 10, 2007, 05:38:05 PM

Ya shoulda read them first cheesy  Although not devoid of lucid points, there a plenty of places where these pieces come up short e.g.  the complete absence of any consideration of Iran and its nuke program.

Geopolitical Diary: A Snub and a Warning from Iran

Iran denied passage through its airspace to Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki while he was en route to Japan, members of al-Maliki's entourage disclosed on Sunday. Al-Maliki's aircraft had to be diverted to Dubai, where he waited at the airport for three hours for refueling and a new flight plan. On the same day, Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki warned Iraq that failure to secure the release of five of Iranian consular officials arrested in January in the northern Iraqi town of Arbil would adversely impact relations between the two neighbors.

While the Iranians appear to be directing their ire against Iraq's Shiite-dominated government, the intended recipient of these diplomatic signals is the U.S. government. Tehran knows that Washington, and not Baghdad, is really calling the shots in Iraq and is employing a two-pronged strategy. The United States is pressing ahead on the military front, not just with its surge policy but also with operations in Iraq's Shiite south. On the diplomatic front, Washington wants a second public meeting involving U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Mottaki to take place early next month. In fact, Rice last week openly said that she would want to engage in bilateral talks with her Iranian counterpart.

Given Washington's bi-level strategy, Tehran has to operate in a more or less reciprocal fashion. This would explain the move against al-Maliki, which was designed to send a message to Washington that Tehran is not intimidated by the U.S. success in getting al-Maliki to crack down against Shiite militias. In fact, the Iranians are likely signaling that the United States should not view al-Maliki's decision to assist with the U.S. plan as much of a victory. By forcing the diversion of the prime minister's aircraft, Tehran sends the message that Washington is betting on a weak horse.

The Iranians can afford to use al-Maliki in such a way. Pro-Iranian Iraqi Shia constitute the largest group within the Iraqi government. It is not as if al-Maliki and his faction, Hizb al-Dawah, have the freedom to assume an anti-Iranian posture. Al-Maliki is indeed a weak prime minister and is not really the head of his party -- which in any case does not enjoy the kind of influence within the Iraqi Shiite community as either Iran's main ally, the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, or the al-Sadrite Bloc. The party's rival faction -- Hizb al-Dawah Tandheem al-Iraq, which controls the national security, trade, and education ministries as opposed to the single Cabinet position held by al-Maliki's faction -- is also much closer to Tehran.

More importantly, the decision to snub al-Maliki allows the Iranians to underscore their own unpredictability and willingness to do the unexpected, in order to throw a monkey-wrench into the American plan for Iraq.

It is therefore not a coincidence that radical Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sadr -- currently residing in Iran -- issued a call for his Mehdi Army to target U.S. forces instead of fighting Iraqi security forces. He also urged the security forces to disassociate themselves from U.S. troops. The Iranians, having released the British naval personnel they captured in March, now want to see the return of their own five consular officials detained by U.S. forces in January. This is all the more important because Tehran also wants to see next month's meeting with Rice take place -- which becomes difficult to do without securing the release of the five detained officials.

Tehran is reminding the United States that it has the ability to badly mess up the Iraqi chessboard. In saying this, Iran hopes not only to get Washington to release its officials, but also to get the Bush administration to back off from trying to weaken Iran's position in Iraq. The question now is what the American response will be.
27999  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants on: April 10, 2007, 05:25:48 PM
Woof SB:

Good questions.  Please post them on WW3, War in the Mid-east, Geopolitical Matters or some analogous thread.
28000  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: MMA Thread on: April 10, 2007, 05:17:06 PM
I was on vacation with the family and missed the fight.  I must say I was surprised when I heard the results.  One comment I saw said something about Serra using an unconventional striking game.  Anyone?
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