Friday, September 22, 2006


Optimism From John Robb

Robb is a bit of a pessimist. I, personally, do not think that the civilized world is quite as screwed as he thinks it is. That being said, his views are not to be scoffed at. This is from his most recent post:

The reasons should be obvious. US forces are now surrounded by a sea of militias and insurgents. Within Baghdad itself, where the current pacification effort is focused, US troops are badly outnumbered in extremely difficult urban terrain. Worse yet, the opposition is growing in numbers, sophistication, and aggressiveness at a rate more rapid than the static number of US troops can build up the Iraqi military. It is now only a matter of time before either a misstep or a calculated event pushes the countryside into full scale warfare.

In this near term conflict, we are likely to see a repeat of the lightly manned defensive hedgehog used successfully by Hezbollah against Israel (that lesson was not lost on this war's open source participants). If placed along critical US military supply routes or immediately outside US mega-bases, and augmented by informational superiority (a combination of better local intelligence and advanced signals intercepts), these defensive tactics would extract a heavy toll on US troops (even as the US wins a tactical victory). Further, if repeatably successful, these efforts will force the US to forgo all efforts at offensive pacification operations in favor of basic force protection (not only for US troops, but the tens of thousands of civilians on these bases). From that point on, the timer will be on until a US forward base is overrun (when it finally goes off, we will be cooked).


Thursday, September 21, 2006


Quote: understatement

On the one hand, we are faced with a nuclear arms race in the Middle East, nuclear blackmail and terrorist chaos at the heart of the world's Persian Gulf oil supply, and terrorist-planted nuclear weapons in America's cities. On the other hand, we can choose an economically disruptive war with Iran that will alienate us from the world, push us to and beyond our military limits, and that even then may not even succeed. The by now stock phrase, "there are no good options" doesn't quite do justice to the awful choice we face

- Stanley Kurtz

Of course they could offer to drop their sanctions and give a security guarrantee in exchange for ending Iran's enrichment programs. It might not work, but given that Iran has basically offered the same deal to America, chances are they would take it.


Ratzinger Attacks Individual Conscience

The Pope has decided to play inquistor. Given that he is the former head of the congregation of the doctrine of the Faith, aka, the inquistion it is not surprising that he is slipping into his former role.

The crux of the matter is people are not listening to what the Vatican is telling them to do. Mostly because what the Vatican is saying doesn't fit into the modern experience of life. For example, "Don't use condoms" is dangerous and immoral command in the age of AIDS.

Benedict has decided to attack the concept of individual conscience. My example above shows me using my individual conscience to decide what I thought of the Vatican's doctrine. He does not want us to do this because it erodes his authority.

In a recent speech he has outlined what he thinks of individual conscience. A quote, via Daily Dish, is enlightening.
The subject then decides, on the basis of his experiences, what he considers tenable in matters of religion, and the subjective "conscience" becomes the sole arbiter of what is ethical. In this way, though, ethics and religion lose their power to create a community and become a completely personal matter.
I know for a fact this statement is not true. I have been party to communities that have been created by people of individual conscience expressly for ethicial reasons. Greenpeace, the antiglobalization movement, and the antipoverty movement personified by Bono are all example of movements and communities built by individual conscience.

Frankly, democracy demands that we take responsibility for our actions, and we can only take responsibility if we act according to our conscience. To act according to the dictates of others is to surrender our freedom and autonomy, to become moral slaves. It becomes impossible to live morally if one does not live by one's conscience.


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