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PostPosted: Sun May 18, 2008 4:46 am 
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the Pirate's Daughter

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solicitr wrote:
And bin-Laden knows that too- if he's crazy, he's crazy like a fox. A surprise tactic only works once. That's why the only subsequent al-Qaeda plot involving airliners was designed simply to blow them up in midair.


Meanwhile, TSA is busily confiscating nail clippers and 5-ounce bottles of shampoo. Wonder what that whole operation costs?


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PostPosted: Sun May 18, 2008 4:55 am 
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Now, let's bring this gingerly back to Iran. Is its leadership 'rational' on our terms? Deterrence worked with the USSR- during all the long years of the Cold War no nukes were launched, because the grey men in the Politburo, devious and ruthless though they could be, were rational men, with absolutely no interest in suicide.

Does Ahmadinejad feel the same way about suicide?

Martyrdom: how sincerely do he and the Revolutionary Command Council believe in it? They're certainly happy to preach it to their followers- beyond the sick curriculum in Hamas schools and kiddie TV, recall also the Iranian method for clearing Iraqi minefields during their war: "Martyrdom Battalions" of unarmed children holding hands and running into the mines like a game of Red Rover devised in Hell, blowing themselves to Paradise (or so they were told).

So is 'martyrdom' just a cynical tool, or does President A believe in it? We know his devotion to extreme Islam is devout, fanatical, a little kooky. He believes Allah told him, personally, that his mission in life is to bring about the return of the 12th or Hidden Imam. He even bulldozed a swath of downtown Teheran to build a grand boulevard for the old boy's welcome parade.

Now here's the really, really scary part: in Shia eschatology, the return of the 12th Imam, rather like the Second Coming of Jesus, will occur at the climax of Armageddon.

So, does Iran's leadership fall within our comfort zone of 'rationality?'

:nono:


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PostPosted: Sun May 18, 2008 5:07 am 
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the Pirate's Daughter

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This is yet another Osgiliation, and possibly a redundant one, but... are you familiar with the chart made by French engineer Charles Joseph Minard regarding the French defeat in Russia? I like it because it contains so much information in such a small space. Indeed, it is generally considered a marvel of much information briefly conveyed. I post it here:

Image

The thick gray line depicts the invading army. The thin black line depicts the retreating army. It would be fascinating to see a similar depiction of Hitler's armies.


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PostPosted: Sun May 18, 2008 5:24 am 
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That is really interesting, Ethel!

I'm not much of a buff of military history, but maps always grab my attention. I wish the print showing the temperatures was a little larger!

sol wrote:
o, does Iran's leadership fall within our comfort zone of 'rationality?'


I do not consider Ahmadinejad quite sane, but we can also learn from Iraq that dropping a bomb on Teheran is more likely to bring swarms of madmen out of the woodwork than it is to get rid of the one we've got. There has to be a better strategy for dealing with world leaders like him ... and also a better advisory/decision capacity within democratic nations so that surgical options don't have to be taken off the table as a result of renegade misuse.

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PostPosted: Sun May 18, 2008 5:30 am 
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There I'm with you, Jny- how many millions would have been saved by one well-placed bullet at the Berlin Olympics!

Ethel: a fascinating chart- but the German equivalent would look very different, since they advanced on a broad front from Leningrad to the Crimea, not a single line of march like the Grand Armee. And thanks to railroads and motor transport, the Germans, unlike Napoleon, were continually reinforced.


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PostPosted: Sun May 18, 2008 5:31 am 
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solicitr wrote:
Now, let's bring this gingerly back to Iran. Is its leadership 'rational' on our terms?


It's never possible to say any such thing with certainty, but bear in mind that these people invented chess.


solicitr wrote:
Deterrence worked with the USSR- during all the long years of the Cold War no nukes were launched, because the grey men in the Politburo, devious and ruthless though they could be, were rational men, with absolutely no interest in suicide.

Does Ahmadinejad feel the same way about suicide?


Why do you think Ahmadinejad is the guy we need to worry about? My understanding is that he's very much a figurehead, and not necessarily one that the ayatollahs are thrilled with. From what I've read he has no real power at all. Do you have different information?


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PostPosted: Sun May 18, 2008 5:33 am 
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solicitr wrote:
There I'm with you, Jny- how many millions would have been saved by one well-placed bullet at the Berlin Olympics!

Ethel: a fascinating chart- but the German equivalent would look very different, since they advanced on a broad front from Leningrad to the Crimea, not a single line of march like the Grand Armee. And thanks to railroads and motor transport, the Germans, unlike Napoleon, were continually reinforced.


Still, it could be done, don't you think? Even if one had to use colors?


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PostPosted: Sun May 18, 2008 5:39 am 
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Believe me, the CIA would love to know to what extent A. wields real power, and to what extent he's a puppet. Unfortunately we still have no well-placed humint in Iran. We do know that although he is to all appearances hugely unpopular with the people, the ayatollahs arranged for the recent 'election' to reinforce his parliamentary faction.


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PostPosted: Sun May 18, 2008 5:51 am 
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[ot] The US announced day before yesterday that we would assist Saudi in developing civilian nukes. That seems less than prudent to me, given that the House of Saud has been one step ahead of a revolution for a few decades now. But I also read that forty other countries are clamoring to be included in the civilian nuclear family.

The proliferation, along with control of the technology and the high grade raw materials, will be a continuing international headache. But I don't see how we can stop this. [/ot]

[ot]Since this is the only election thread running right now, I'll post this aside here. John McCain was on SNL tonight and he was really funny. He does have a sense of humor, and is able to self-deprecate as well as roast his rivals. That is quite important to me in evaluating someone's character. [/ot]

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PostPosted: Sun May 18, 2008 6:16 am 
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Yes. The ability to make fun of one's self is a sign of self-awareness and honesty.


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PostPosted: Sun May 18, 2008 6:30 am 
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John McCain was on SNL tonight and he was really funny.


So I'm sitting here, thinking maybe I would have liked to watch that, and it's too bad I missed it. And then I look at the clock and realize that it hasn't even begun to air yet where I live! I feel like I'm in the twilight zone here. The US should be like China, with only one time zone.


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PostPosted: Sun May 18, 2008 6:30 am 
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Jnyusa wrote:
[ot]Since this is the only election thread running right now, I'll post this aside here. John McCain was on SNL tonight and he was really funny. He does have a sense of humor, and is able to self-deprecate as well as roast his rivals. That is quite important to me in evaluating someone's character. [/ot]


It's not the only election thread running right now. The continuation of the main election thread is right below this one.

And you were the last one to post in it. ;)

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PostPosted: Sun May 18, 2008 6:49 am 
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The US announced day before yesterday that we would assist Saudi in developing civilian nukes. That seems less than prudent to me, given that the House of Saud has been one step ahead of a revolution for a few decades now.


And whatever the position of the family members with official jobs, many others of Abdul Aziz' myriad and wealthy offspring have been fundraising for al-Qaeda, sponsoring radical mosques and otherwise acting like folks who maybe shouldn't have nuclear technology.

Is it possible, though, that what we're talking about is a sodium reactor? That uses fuels which effectively can't be employed in weapons (another claimed benefit is that the spent fuel degrades in 200 years to natural raw-ore levels of radioactivity).


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PostPosted: Sun May 18, 2008 7:02 am 
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solicitr wrote:
Now, let's bring this gingerly back to Iran. Is its leadership 'rational' on our terms? Deterrence worked with the USSR- during all the long years of the Cold War no nukes were launched, because the grey men in the Politburo, devious and ruthless though they could be, were rational men, with absolutely no interest in suicide.


And absolutely no interest in the attack. Deterrence worked with the USSR, because nuclear attack on the USA was never a viable political option. It was incompatible with the Soviet ideology to launch an attack that would annihilate hundreds of thousands (or millions - nukes were always presented as weapons of TOTAL destructions) of oppressed working people along with the rabid-dog imperialist top class.

Of course, the US had no such qualms and happily denounced the USSR as the Evil Empire. But both governments found ratcheting up the fear of the external enemy politically expedient, while claiming that their side was only "deterring" the other.

Ethel wrote:
You're right that Stalin had grievously weakened his armies by decimating his officer corps. But even a monster like Stalin had to (briefly) put aside political considerations when his homeland was under attack. He brought in his Siberian divisions. A capable general emerged: Zhukov. And Russia's great ally--winter--also emerged. The German guns couldn't shoot straight, or at all in some cases, because they were warped by cold. The German troops did not have warm winter clothes, and the Siberian troops did.


Ethel, good seeing you here. :)

Stalin indeed played his hand quite shrewdly when things got dire. He amnestied many officers who still survived in the imprisonment (my great-uncle was not so lucky, he was shot, although three of his brothers were there fighting). He brought back old Tzarist-style uniforms, and the Red Army became the Soviet Army and all the glory, real or invented, of the Russian military was settled on their shoulders. He also at that time relaxed pressure on the Russian Orthodox church and brought it out as an ally in the propaganda (need some reading-up on that, but it's usually quoted as fact).

Soli, this being the Iraq thread, it might be profitable to remember that both Napoleon and Hitler failed in Russia despite initial quick military success. In large, it was because of the guerrilla resistance effort that erupted behind their front lines. There is speculation that if Napoleon had promised to emancipate the serfs, or if Hitler did not so cruelly treated the civilian population, things would be otherwise. I doubt it, but who knows.

The point is, it's not enough to take. The invading army must also hold.

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PostPosted: Sun May 18, 2008 1:27 pm 
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In large, it was because of the guerrilla resistance effort that erupted behind their front lines.


I think that's overstating the effect of the partisans (Americans tend to love guerillas- it ties in with our own ahistorical myths about our Revolution, and makes for good movies). They were a nuisance, but not much of one- insurgencies are actually pretty easy to control if you're prepared to be as ruthless as the Nazis!

The major factors were 1) winter, 2) overextended supply lines, 3) the emergence of Zhukov, 4) the marvellous T-34 tank, 5) sheer numbers, and 6) some idiotic Fuehrerdiktaten, especially his 'no retreat' orders, and his insistence that complete vehicles be constructed at the expense of spare parts (the Germans lost far more tanks to breakdown than to enemy action).

Nonetheless, folks who love the 1812 comparison (Barbarossa didn't remotely resemble Bonaparte's campaign) often forget that in between Napoleon and Hitler, Hindenburg and Ludendorff completely kicked Russian booty and forced a humiliating surrender on them.

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The point is, it's not enough to take. The invading army must also hold.


If holding is the objective. For the hundredth time, we should have left Iraq as soon as we achieved the objective of nailing Saddam.


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PostPosted: Sun May 18, 2008 1:42 pm 
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I'm curious to know what you think would have happened had we done so. My best guess is that Iraq would now be a Shiite theocracy, closely aligned with Iran. Not that that is necessarily a bad thing. But we never had the right to determine what kind of government they had in the first place.

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PostPosted: Sun May 18, 2008 2:10 pm 
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I disagree, Vor. Had we left the Army intact, after purging the generals and promoting a sectarian-balanced slate of colonels to replace them, what would have arisen was a military junta: probably Shia-oriented, but of necessity protective of Sunni interests.

The Iranian influence is largely the result of the occupation: like al-Qaeda, the Quds Force has made inroads on the back of the presence of "Crusader armies": remove the foreign element and the Sunni/Shia divide would, as always, sink down behind the age-old Arab hatred of Persians. No officer who served in the 80's would make common cause with Teheran! Nor would the level of anarchy we've seen, which Zarqawi and Sadr exploited, have been likely with an intact Army to keep a lid on it.

But you're quite right that their subsequent form of government was not possible for us to decide.

EDIT: It's also not hard for the world's biggest producer of the world's best weapons to keep military governments well-disposed. I doubt many Iraqi officers think very highly of Russian or Chinese gear any more.


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PostPosted: Sun May 18, 2008 5:19 pm 
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Just to keep the WWII discussion bubbling along, (and saying in passing how grateful we were later to Roosevelt for getting the US Navy to escort convoys to the Mid-Atlantic) I would like to make the mild observation that the decision in June of 1940 when our armies were defeated in the field and in ruins to reject any peace settlement with Germany saved the United States itself from disaster and saved not just European democracy but world democracy also.
Not many people understand what a close-run thing that was.


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PostPosted: Sun May 18, 2008 5:43 pm 
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solicitr wrote:
I think that's overstating the effect of the partisans (Americans tend to love guerillas- it ties in with our own ahistorical myths about our Revolution, and makes for good movies). They were a nuisance, but not much of one- insurgencies are actually pretty easy to control if you're prepared to be as ruthless as the Nazis!


I agree to a point. I've always said that the only way to fight terror is with terror, and Nazis were more than willing to do that. However, the partisan (guerilla, not Rep/Dem ;) ) warfare in the USSR was not precisely an insurgency, it was planned and organized by the military. The cost to civilian population mattered little to them, in fact, it only provided them with extra manpower. Much like Iraq, in fact.

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The major factors were 1) winter, 2) overextended supply lines, 3) the emergence of Zhukov, 4) the marvellous T-34 tank, 5) sheer numbers, and 6) some idiotic Fuehrerdiktaten, especially his 'no retreat' orders, and his insistence that complete vehicles be constructed at the expense of spare parts (the Germans lost far more tanks to breakdown than to enemy action).


All of these were certainly major factors (You know T-34s? :love: how about Katiushas?) but I would still argue that partisans were another, since they made it necessary for the Germans to maintain an occupying army rather than a token force staffed largely by the local collaborators.

Quote:
Nonetheless, folks who love the 1812 comparison (Barbarossa didn't remotely resemble Bonaparte's campaign) often forget that in between Napoleon and Hitler, Hindenburg and Ludendorff completely kicked Russian booty and forced a humiliating surrender on them.


The Brest peace was skipped from my history curriculum for some strange reason. :whistle: My understanding is that a) Lenin had other fish to fry, b) Germans were supposed to rise up in World Revolution any moment now anyway, c) WWI was one big mess. But most importantly, it did not involve German occupation of large portions of Russian territory.

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If holding is the objective. For the hundredth time, we should have left Iraq as soon as we achieved the objective of nailing Saddam.


I did not mean to ascribe the "hold them" opinion to you specifically, but would you clarify something, please? You say we should have left. Do I understand correctly from you other posts that you feel we should not pull out now?

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I disagree, Vor. Had we left the Army intact, after purging the generals and promoting a sectarian-balanced slate of colonels to replace them, what would have arisen was a military junta: probably Shia-oriented, but of necessity protective of Sunni interests.


Possibly, but what would have been the benefit of replacing one military dictatorship with another?

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‘No. It ain’t. When people say things are a lot more complicated than that, they means they’re getting worried that they won’t like the truth. People as things, that’s where it starts.’
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PostPosted: Sun May 18, 2008 6:08 pm 
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Frelga wrote:
but I would still argue that partisans were another, since they made it necessary for the Germans to maintain an occupying army rather than a token force staffed largely by the local collaborators.


This is a very important point, imo. It is this "low intensity conflict" (so we call it now) that has the US military quagmired in 100 countries. When the enemy army is soldier-rich, the goal is not to defeat them outright but to force them to tie up as many soldiers as possible doing non-strategic things.

The big success of the fedayeen against Israel and the contra against Nicaragua was not to engage their militaries directly in decisive battles but to force the governments to maintain a military machine much larger than they would otherwise need. One must cover the entire country against random, piddling attacks that do not kill large amounts of people or result in significant confrontations but cause the military to rush from corner to corner attempting to secure areas that have already been hit. This eats away at the sense of security and thus the productivity of the citizens in general, it eats away at the GDP by forcing large military budgets on the country, and it costs very little to maintain such a strategy over decades.

One of the things my husband used to tell me when we would discuss warfare was that the goal is not to kill as many enemy soldiers as possible but to wound as many as possible, because the wounded tie up more enemy resources than the dead. It is the same kind of idea -- get the enemy to commit as many resources as possible to things peripheral to the strategic goal.

Among strategists, insufficient attention has been paid to the way this kind of warfare works, and its net effect, imo.

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