A Note On Our Folly By Walrus

“The March Of Folly” by Barbara Tuchman, analyses the causes of historic foreign policy disasters from the seige of Troy onwards with a view to understanding the role of pure unadulterated Govermental stupidity – folly – in the decline of empires. This is important because after removing the more obvious causes of decline: tyranny, greed and incompetence, alone or in combination, there remains an inexplicable core. According to Tuchman these are caused by folly – perverse policy that fails.

To qualify as folly, Tuchman believes that…… “the policy adopted must meet three criteria: it must have been perceived as counter-­productive in its own time, not merely by hindsight. This is important, because all policy is determined by the mores of its age. “Nothing is more unfair,” as an English historian has well said, “than to judge men of the past by the ideas of the present. Whatever may be said of morality, political wisdom is certainly ambulatory.” To avoid judging by present-­day values, we must take the opinion of the time and investigate only those episodes whose injury to self-­interest was recognized by contemporaries.

Secondly a feasible alternative course of action must have been available. To remove the problem from personality, a third criterion must be that the policy in question should be that of a group, not an individual ruler, and should persist beyond any one political lifetime. ” …….. Does the Western policy towards Russia meet all of Tuchmans criteria of folly? In my opinion yes it does; every little bit of it.

But wait, there is more. We now have to consider The Walrus Law (TM) “Governments achieve the reverse of their stated objectives”. According to my law (well I think it is mine) our policy should see Russia gaining in power and influence as a result of our actions and we should be losing the same. I think that is happening.

Conversely, according to my law, the best way to neutralise Russia would be to love them to pieces.

What sayeth the Committee?

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130 Responses to A Note On Our Folly By Walrus

  1. Lars says:

    That certainly qualifies as musing and may even reach the level of amusing. But the reality is that American culture is much more prevalent around the world that the Russian version is. American English is spoken by a huge amount of people and very few speak Russian. Then, as I have stated before. The US economy dwarfs the Russian one by a lot. Of course, the predicted demise of the Republic has been around as long as the country has, with the same results and no matter how much slanted interpretations of past pronouncements are used, will change that either.

  2. English Outsider says:

    Walrus – does The Walrus Law always have to apply? It does here. Mind if I copy my view under your article?

    “Ukraine is winning. The only factor that would change this reality would be if the U.S. and Europe stopped providing assistance.”

    https://thehill.com/opinion/4566466-ukraine-is-not-losing-us-assistance-must-continue/

    Farkas is a big wheel in the US neocon faction.

    ……………………………………

    At first sight the problem for the Russians seems simple enough. They need to neutralise Ukraine to stop it being used as one of the Western spearpoints against their country.

    They seem to have all their ducks in a row and are methodically proceeding with doing just that. They gave up on attempting to reach a settlement with the West after Istanbul. (My belief, after the failure of Minsk 2 but I’m an outlier on that.) Now, they’re merely demolishing the men and armaments we’re putting up against them.

    Unless it goes nuclear that’s that. And we in the West are running out of both proxies and armaments. We’re unlikely to enter the fray directly just because of the risk of nuclear, but such as Farkas are missing the point. If we were indeed to give Ukraine the maximum support Mrs Farkas calls for it still wouldn’t be enough.

    The best army in Europe, ours in the UK, an army well trained and capable as no other European army is of sending a useful expeditionary force, could apparently (HoC report linked to earlier) send no more than around an armoured Brigade or so.

    The French do have some capability but it’s geared to fighting in Africa and the ME. The Frogs are demons when it comes to bombing mud huts but that’s about their limit. In spite of the talk of “manning the Dnieper” (linked to earlier) the French couldn’t in reality even match what we could send.

    The state of the German army is well known and besides, the Germans wouldn’t fight. “Barbarossa Scholz” talks the talk but can’t walk the walk.

    The Wehrmacht of old is but a proud memory. Russenhass has replaced Judenhass in the Heimat, as can be seen from this comment section, but the Russians are rather better equipped to deal with that than were the Jews. The Krauts will have to content themselves with triumphantly stationing wrecked Russian tanks outside the Russian embassy in Berlin. Tanks their proxies have captured because the Germans themselves will fight by means of proxies but daren’t fight themselves. This time round the White Tiger has no teeth.

    So much for Old Europe. All talk and no do. The Americans are scarcely in better case. They do indeed have a real army, large, well trained and well organised in spite of all the talk of “boutique armies”. But what they have they can’t deploy in time in this theatre. If they even risked trying they’d have to base what forces they could muster quickly in Europe itself.

    In no time at all they’d hit what we may term the Europoodle problem. That problem being that the proud warriors of Europe insist on others doing the dying for them. If the Europoodles ever found themselves used as a battleground the indignant screams’d be heard over in Australia.

    As for equipment, the cupboard’s bare, Mrs Farkas. We could give Ukraine several hundred more billion dollars if we chose, even give them the Russian assets we’re holding, but that does not automatically translate into armaments. That’s been shown already by such as Berletic or Vershinin. Nor does it translate into men who can use those armaments. The Ukrainian army is being torn to pieces and corpses can’t drive tanks.

    A further consideration, Mrs Farkas, is that the Russians have equipped themselves with armaments far superior to those of the West and have a General Staff also far superior to the amateur night generals we’re mostly lumbered with.

    Fazit: If we threw all we had at the Russians Farkas style they’d throw more and better back. This war is not winnable.

    Never was. Once the sanctions war failed we failed. So what’s the problem, looking at it from the Russian point of view?

    Tried to explain the Russian problem back in ’22 I think. Called it the “dangerous dog” problem. When faced with a dangerous dog you back off slowly. No sudden movements that might set the brute off. The West might be a toothless tiger, but we can mess around with shelling the ZNPP or helping our proxies play with dirty bombs or the like. Or we could go nuclear. We’re dangerous still. That’s why the Russians are slow-walking this show and will probably continue to do so.

    • Fred says:

      EO,

      Farkas is yet another 2nd generation American of Eastern European extraction whose hatred of Russia helped get the West into this mess. Obama, of course, was enamored of her and the rest of the neocons.

      “So much for Old Europe.” You left out the City of London and the backers of the ECB. How are those finances working out of you guys?

      • English Outsider says:

        Fred – One man I know in reinsurance there says business is booming. I was surprised. The sanctions are cutting into the bread and butter stuff day by day. I’d have thought all was gloom. Not so, apparently, but that’s anecdotal evidence only and too small a sample to judge from.

        As for the money laundering, we’re said to be a hub for it. Both the Ukrainian and the Russian oligarchs like to tuck their ill-gotten gains away here. Or did, perhaps. What with compliance being so strict, and what with our habit of freezing any Russian assets we can get at, many are looking to shift the money somewhere else.

        I read somewhere that some of that money has been repatriated to Russia now and that accounts for the investment boom there at the moment. Seems logical but I haven’t chased up the figures.

        The ECB’s weird as hell. How they get away with it I’ve no idea. But they do. Must have discovered anti-gravity or something.

  3. David Kissinger says:

    Putin’s unprovoked war of aggression against Ukraine is a perfect example of Tuchman’s analysis. The following article clearly lays out the folly of war criminal Putin’s rape of Ukraine.

    https://saisreview.sais.jhu.edu/we-all-are-ukrainians/

    • TTG says:

      David Kissinger,

      An excellent companion piece to Walrus’ contribution. I was thinking along the same line that Putin’s invasion is a prime example of Tuchman’s march of folly.

      • John Minehan says:

        The Russians can’t win because of the limited LoCs into the AoR and the Wests better PGMs and RSTA.

        However, I think what Putin has done, as unwinnable as it is, is not folly because it is his least bad option. Russia can’t be a major force in Europe if Ukraine becomes part of NATO.

        We won’t bargain. He has to fight or surrender. This goes badly and he won’t win , , , but goes down fighting,

    • Fred says:

      David,

      “Carden has been a friend and golf partner of President Barack Obama’s for over twenty years and was an early supporter of his political career. He was an initial member of the National Finance Committee for the Obama 2008 Presidential Campaign. He and his wife, Rebecca Riley, were among the 2008 Campaign’s top bundlers, raising over $500,000.[5]” per wiki

      Slava Ukraine! If only Obama’s third term diplomacy had matched his campaign rhetoric. I wonder if the Bundling (don’t know if he bungled too) Ambassador has matched Obama’s personal wealth investments in Ukrainian war (freedom!) bonds or if it matches mine (zero).
      Invest now! ’cause FTX is belly up and getting those returns to you know who has to be done another way.
      https://www.usubc.org/site/recent-news/war-bonds–invest-to-support-ukraine
      https://www.semafor.com/article/03/26/2024/us-proposes-50-billion-war-bonds-program-to-support-ukraine#:

  4. babelthuap says:

    “There is an old saying (which I just made up)”. I heard this line recently by Col Hogan on Hogan’s Heroes. Much truth to this statement.

    Everything people are saying today about things happening today is the same stuff that was happening hundreds, even thousands of years ago. A civilization rises, reaches the apex then starts to suddenly spiral downward.

    No civilization has ever solved this problem but every civilization has created more interesting ways to describe it.

  5. Christian J Chuba says:

    “Secondly a feasible alternative course of action must have been available”

    The power of the Neocons is to make it seem as if there was no feasible alternative, to call any path against their liking as ‘appeasement’. Even when they are proven wrong, they simply re-write the narrative. A few examples …

    1. The invasion of Ukraine occured because of Biden’s weakness.
    When the Russians approached the U.S. / NATO with a security agreement we told them to pound sand; we stood tall; we stood up to the bully. We did not take the ‘appeasement’ route, yet Neocons assure us that both the invasion and subsequent failures are because of appeasement.

    2. Iran. Hard to believe but Neocons claim Biden has an appeasement policy towards Iran. Biden has maintained all of Trump’s sanctions and added even more. Biden even seized at least two shipments of Iranian oil / gasoline on the high seas. Biden has increased financial support to Israel. To call this appeasement is dumbfounding.

    In the case of Russia and Iran, was there a better path? As an engineer, I say we don’t know because we didn’t try. Our policy has consistently been one of maximum pressure and threats against both countries.

    We dropped the JCPOA agreement with Iran within a year and told Russia to pound sand.

    I detest the Neocons because they are so dam certain of the correctness of their positions. They are incapable of self-reflection and totally lack empathy. I cannot stand listening to people who are incapable of believing themselves to ever be wrong.

    • Fred says:

      Christian,

      Wrong. Biden is the fall guy for the failures of leftist policies spanning the globe. The invasion of Ukraine and failure of “diplomacy” is due to the failure of Western leaders to be honest brokers of diplomacy and adherence to the rule of law – including treaties between nations. “Rules based order” means the law doesn’t apply and neither do rules restricting their own conduct.

    • Yeah, Right says:

      “I detest the Neocons because they are so dam certain of the correctness of their positions. They are incapable of self-reflection and totally lack empathy. I cannot stand listening to people who are incapable of believing themselves to ever be wrong.”

      That is, of course, the very definition of a narcissist.

  6. d74 says:

    Not quite in line with the article, but a confirmation, in hindsight, of the folly of one government, that of the USA.

    -Ho Chi Min was put in the saddle by the OSS in 1945. A whole team at his service, aircraft, weapons, no doubt money, signal and communications, and even political ideas (!).
    Of course, Uncle Ho’s sole objective was to make the most of his US friends to fight the Japanese (not very much, they were already screwed…), the Chinese and, above all, the return of the French. This short period was complex, but Ho the hard-line Stalinist played finely, even though his party was very weak and far from representing the population. Of course, the French and Hong-Kong British services knew of Ho’s complete submission to the objectives of the Komintern as early as 1932. What’s more, the French who knew him had noted him as dangerous.

    -Nasser had two CIA controllers, one of them a Kermit Roosevelt. They realized they’d been played when Nasser placed large arms orders with Czechoslovakia. The ties with the Soviets were already long-standing. Czechoslovakia was a smokescreen so as not to frighten these naive Americans.

    -Castro. The case is less clear and less documented. It could be said that the US women’s press made it palatable. The virile Barbudos must have suggested a few soft feelings to certain female representatives. That’s just a guess. But while the French services knew of Castro’s allegiance to Moscow and duly communicated this information to their US pals, it took a long time, and too late, for the USA to react.
    The Bay of Pigs tragedy showed that the CIA had gone downhill. The Soviets didn’t even need to intoxicate the CIA to make the operation fail. But they had agents among the landed troops, long before the landing. So Cuban reception forces had been in place for three days in the hills surrounding the beach.

    -Osama bin Laden. A textbook case of an agent slipping through the cracks. As long as he’s doing a good job, that’s acceptable. But the question remains, when did he turn around and work only for himself? In my opinion, very, very early, like Ho, like Nasser and like Castro.

    All this seems to be a policy of driving into the wall, with the nose no higher than the handlebars.
    The wrong horse, poorly chosen, poorly controlled or fatigued by misplaced confidence, is a recipe for disaster. The particular tribulations of the OSS’s Asia section also suggest a lack of centralization or a shortcoming on the part of senior controllers.

    Churchill mentions a similar case in his memoirs. It’s about a bear whose master wants him to swallow a powdered potion. The master prepares everything well, but at the last moment the bear blows into the paper cone and it’s the master who absorbs the potion. This is Churchill’s signature touch for imaginative storytelling.

    • fredw says:

      d74
      The problem I find with your account lies in the word “controlled”. Thinking in terms of “control” leads to unrealistic expectations on the parts of both the controller and the controlled. The (would be) controller is disappointed by every deviation from his analysis of how the “controlled” should act. The supposed agent (“controlled”) is usually much more an independent actor than these scenarios envision. An actually “controlled” actor is by definition corrupt. We saw this in Vietnam where we systematically supported officers who did not cross us. Well, sometimes we get things wrong and should be crossed. Eliminating the ones who don’t do it our way is not a path to building strength. More a technique for identifying those without independent convictions.

      A “controller” scenario also leads to overestimation of the importance of the controller in the whole scheme of things. The US gave Ho a variety of support, but never anything close to decisive. I have seen it argued that the most effective support he ever got was from the Japanese, who estimated that his movement would be the most effective at giving the French headaches after the war. They let him take over and deal with the famine they had caused. Which made him the national hero. In Nasser’s case, an arms deal can only mean “they had been played” for someone who is expecting to exercise complete control. It didn’t mean that “they controlled him” as oppose to “we control him”. He was trying to maximize his own leverage in the world.

      The world just doesn’t work that way unless you have Stalin’s army ensuring that it does. Everybody else has to deal with multiple interests and power centers.

      • TTG says:

        fredw,

        I agree with your assessment. These relationships were not really controlled. We often refer to our clandestine agent ops as controlled ops, but that’s an illusion. Such a relationship can turn any number of ways at any moment and there’s damned little we can do about it other than to be alert and be prepared to protect our asses when things turn to shit.

      • d74 says:

        fredw,

        I agree with you. I overused the word, which has a stronger meaning in English than in French.
        In my opinion, the word ranges from ‘lax supervision’ to ‘governing as closely as possible’.

        Here, the OSS and CIA placed far too much trust in their agents, who were in fact free to pursue their own objectives, totally opposed to US and Western interests.

        The officers dealing with these agents were faced with an impossible task. The agents were political hardliners. They were not low-level friendly nationals, as they had experienced in the European Resistance.

        With a little work in the archives and a few questions to the Allies, the decision-makers would have avoided feeding those who became bitter enemies of the USA for 20 to 30 years.

    • Tidewater says:

      d74,
      You are saying Osama bin Laden was a CIA agent? I don’t think so. True that he stayed in communication with Prince Turki, head of the Saudi General Intelligence Directorate, by way of Turki’s deputy and old bin Laden friend Ahmed Badeeb during his activity on the Afghanistan frontier in the 80’s during the Russian war, and some of his activities, such as construction or road building could have been known via the GID to the CIA but that hardly meant he was working for them. The Arab Afghan mujahideen kept their distance from Americans.

      • d74 says:

        Sorry for the delay.
        Turki’s connections with the Bush family are well known. Ambassador to Washington 2005-2007.

        Wkipedia:
        “In 1979, he was appointed director of the Saudi Intelligence Agency, a position he held until his resignation on September 1, 2001, ten days before the September 11 attacks in the United States. He notably recruited Osama Bin Laden in the late 1970s, placing him at the head of a network responsible for recruiting Islamist militants ready to fight in Afghanistan.”

        Do you think for a moment that at that time a Saud intelligence director was not in very close liaison with US services? Bin Laden (and many others) was his man, in complete intelligence with him.

        Bin Laden, from a 2011 journalistic work:
        “The CIA’s exemplary pupil has turned against his master.
        The creature has escaped its creator. The terrorist leader, who long served Washington’s interests in Afghanistan against the Soviet Union, was trained by US services.” -And financed by the Saudis, I might add.

        Over the ages, Islamic nebulas have often sold out to self-interested clients, or so they believe. Extremists need rear bases, money and weapons they can’t get on their own. Who can provide it?

        • Tidewater says:

          d74,
          I am not budging off my conclusions about this, but thank you for your courteous reply. Osama bin Laden was not a CIA agent. Prince Turki , the Saudi GID, and bin Laden were in full agreement during the Russian war. The Saudi government had been pushing Islamism for years prior. The CIA was barely interested in the Arabs. It had a tiny group of three case officers in Pakistan specifically working the mujahideen insurgency and the Peshawar angle. There were perhaps seven others working on the Pakistan nuclear program–the Islamic bomb, as it was called by the press then. The Americans did not entirely understand or even bother to focus on what was actually happening in Peshawar. The ISI was pretty much in charge of the war. That includes training of the Afghans; the Arabs had their own military instructors from Arab armies, places like Jordan. The Americans gave money and weapons. The Pakistani army controlled the weapons. One red flag about the indifference of American intelligence to the Arabs is the failure to see the full significance of the Maktab al Khidamat (Services Bureau) created by Abdallah Azzam. This organization has historically gone through changes but its successors have continued to build the the base of the global jihad that we face today. And something really bad is developing in Pakistan–and in India and Afghanistan– right now. Azzam is one who needs study. I see him as being one of the most important men of that era. A Palestinian, he took the Islamic franchise, the war against Zionism, from local to global. You might say he is the one who added the 6th Pillar to Islam, the duty to make jihad. There is an important biography of Azzam by Thomas Heggahammer called ‘The Caravan’ which is one of the best overviews I have seen of how we got where we are.

  7. Barbara Ann says:

    Excellent Walrus, I couldn’t agree more. Many wise voices here and elsewhere (e.g. Patrick Armstrong) have long pointed out the self-defeating nature of US foreign policy towards Russia. Tick. An alternative policy which did not insist upon NATO enlargement ever closer to Russia’s borders was clearly possible. Heck, ANY set of policies that didn’t result in a close alliance between Russia, China and Iran would have been possible and preferable. Tick. The US foreign policy establishment (“the Borg”) responsible for all this is a collective. Tick.

    How much of the rest of the world do you need to ‘contain’ before you are yourself are the one contained? Unless the Borg can find an accommodation with the rising Global Majority and BRICS+ it must lead to the decline and fall of Pax Americana. The destruction of the Nord Stream pipeline was the signature event of the current stage of decline; the cannibalization phase. I’m sure Barbara Tuchman would have recognized this.

    • frankie p says:

      “How much of the rest of the world do you need to ‘contain’ before you (are)sic yourself are the one contained?”

      What an excellent question, one packed to the rafters with veracity and relevance in the US geopolitical situation today! Extra points, Barbara Ann! I’m definitely stealing this one! I choose to delete the first “are”, though deleting the second is definitely an option. I just like the way it sounds: “you yourself are the one contained”.

      • walrus says:

        Hence my use of the flippant Times of London headline from 1957: “Fog in the channel: Continent isolated”.

        I have been trying without success for some months to explain that most of the people of the world see the USA and Europe to be the problem, not Russia and China. We will wake up one morning and discover we no longer rule the world.

    • Laura Wilson says:

      I have always thought that one issue with our response to Russia after the fall of the Soviet Union was that we flooded the zone with businessmen instead of lawyers and non-profit agencies…so now they have unfettered oligarchs and capitalism.

      • TTG says:

        Laura Wilson,

        I was still in Germany when Eastern Europe was going through the transition. It was hard and painful with a hell of a lot of disruption. Those countries were also flooded with Western businessmen. Not sure what the real difference was in Russia, but I do know that the nomenklatura or deep state returned to power after only the briefest absence. They were younger than the old Commies but were just as dedicated to the State.

      • Fred says:

        Laura,

        “we flooded the zone with businessmen instead of lawyers and non-profit agencies”

        We did precisely that. Fear not though, they same cast of characters have that in mind once they collapse the West like they did Eastern Europe.

    • Keith Harbaugh says:

      “a close alliance between Russia, China and Iran”

      You forgot one: North Korea.

      Thanks, Ukraine-lovers.

  8. elkern says:

    I love Tuchman’s books, but I’m embarrassed to admit that I’ve never read The March of Folly.

    Based on Walrus’ synopsis of Tuchman’s definition of “Folly”, I’d have to say that much – but not all – modern US policy towards Russia does qualify as Folly.

    The main exception I’d point out is Biden’s resistance to giving Ukraine long-range weapons to avoid responsibility for their inevitable use against [officially recognized] Russian territory. The Usual Suspects – NeoCons and their pet talking heads – pushed for that Folly, and continue to attack Biden for not going along with it.

    But IMO, labeling a policy as “Folly” is far less important that understanding how such a folly could be chosen. In the case of modern US Foreign Policy, I contend that the main problem *now* is that our institutions have been captured by the NeoCons, whose core motivations clearly do not align with the well-being of the American people. Their relentless push toward military conflict (especially in the Middle East?) has been disastrous: militarily, diplomatically, economically, and socially. The invasion of Iraq was our crossing of the Rubicon: we now act more like an Empire than a Republic.

    Back to the OP… I *like* Walrus’ Law, but it’s only true about half the time, so it’s not particularly useful.

    And I kinda-sorta agree with Walrus’ concluding suggesting (“the best way to neutralise Russia would be to love them to pieces”), but we already did that back in the 1990s. It actually worked pretty well for a while, but I don’t think Russia will fall for that trick again.

  9. jim.. says:

    Walrus…This piece of Historical Retrograde..Russia conning Free Western and European Nations..Republics.. Democracys….Before..During..and After .WW2
    With Cunning..Deceptions..and the Usual Betrayers..and Opportunist…They Took ALL tyhe Territory and War Prizes..Tyrrany..Looks Like they Want To Start That All over Again..Greed..Anger..Your LAW go’s Back to Cain Throwing Rocks..And The Age..
    of The Gentiles is Over..

    If Anyone Wanted To Make Money..They Should have Invested in the OIL Sector.
    Long Ago…No Real Laws Here…Human Nature..The Flesh is Weak..Temptations..
    Period..

    • Muralidhar Rao says:

      Is that how France was civilizing the Barbarians of Africa? After 300 to 400 years of colonial rule these colonies still don’t have drinking water? Oh yes I forgot they brought Jesus to them so they are saved in the next life. Wow great emancipators of the human lives. No wonder these barbarians don’t appreciate their colonial masters. What else can those ungrateful Africans ask for when they are saved for an eternal life?

      • Fred says:

        Muralidhar Rao,

        Most of the French colonies had been Christian for centuries before their conquest by Islam. Or was that a mostly peaceful spread of faith? They had drinking water supplied in their cities since Imperial Rome built aqueducts , but of course the French were the problem. Now that they are a half century free things are just great. How did India and Pakistan get along after the British left? Or did you have a war to drive the British out like we had to do here?

        • Muralidhar Rao says:

          Fred thanks for your comments. I have few questions for you to consider 1) Do you think that the French pay the Govts of these African nations a fair price say .05 cents while marketing the refined product for say $250 in the market? 2) Now having paid these govts some amount of money these monies should be deposited in the French Central Bank and can only use 50% of that money for their development? Hell they can’t even print their own money it is done is France and I believe it is called CFA Franc 3) n case a WISE Guy comes to power take that person down through assasinations/Coups etc all the while proclaiming democratic values. This blatant exploitation could happen in the past but here comes Putin and pulled out curtains to expose to the world that the west is not so great nor so powerful and that is the reason there are revolts in the Sahel region and they are kicking the French out. How it will work out only time will tell. Thanks

        • Muralidhar Rao says:

          Sir India is doing just fine I think. To tell you the truth I live here in US and has not gone there for a very long time. To understand India you have to know the number of languages we have at least 16 major languages. So Indians are not a monolithic group. However having survived as a civilization for more than 5000 years they learnt they have to be united if not at least be tolerant of each other. Now as per Pakistan I think they went along the British and US goading that they can take over India militarily. Unfortunately this proved catastrophic to them East Pakistan became Bangladesh!! Now they wanted to get rid of this Imran Khan guy and God only knows what will happen to the country. Oh by the way India’s economy overtook the Colonial Master Great Britain and now it is number 4. It is a long haul to the original position of #1 or 2 before the British wanted to sell us our own Tea. That is a story for another day. Enjoy. Thanks

          • English Outsider says:

            Muralidhar Rao – a straight history of thuggery and oppression. “We gave them railways” say the apologists for Empire. “Yes, to cart the loot away” is essentially the truth of the matter.

            Even looking at it as just another empire the score sheet doesn’t look good. It took a lot of brutality even by the standards of the time to keep it on the road. The “Second Conquest” of 1857 and the “White Terror” that followed (verbatim quote from a source mentioned below) was brutal enough and was so seen in England (same source below – “Montgomery Martin’s “Mutiny of the Bengal Army” (1861) presented the sepoys as victims and British ‘war heroes’ as pathological mass murderers.”)

            Neglect of economic development throughout – only the Princely States got any, and that down to the Princes themselves. Straight suppression in fact of economic development – the cotton trade being I suppose the prime example. And of course the thoroughgoing suppression of any organic political development.

            The usual excuse – if we hadn’t had India someone else would have – also invalid. An independent India would have developed better and even a local empire would have been more concerned with the welfare of the subject peoples, if only out of self-interest.

            It did the English no good. British predominance in the nineteenth century was based fair and square on being first off with the industrial revolution. It didn’t need a fake empire for that and that it got one thoroughly distorted English political evolution as well. As was understood by many in England then.

            Those views expressed above would not therefore have been out of place in England at the time. They are now, and with the “British Empire” bathed for so many in a rosy nostalgic glow they are tantamount to treason in many circles. Like arguing that we Brits didn’t win WWII single handed.

            Which of course we did. Though, since this is an American site, I’d be prepared to concede that the Americans and the Russians did have a little dabble in that enterprise as well.

            Those quotes above from a superb study of the British Empire that came out not long back. John Darwin, “Unfinished Empire”. A study that not only puts that empire in its proper historical context, but puts in some astonishingly good work on the general question of how politics and economics works at the nuts and bolts level.

            He comes out of Oxford too, that neocon fortress of the damned. “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?” In this case, surprisingly, yes.

          • Fred says:

            Muralidhar Rao,

            So Islam didn’t conquer Northern India afterall, you were a united and tolerant country for 4,000 years before the birth of Mohammed. That’s not even worth an lol response. When are you going back to India, or are you here to stay?

          • Fred says:

            EO,

            You failed to ‘give’ indoor plumbing to everyone too; and how dare you end the practice of Sati.

      • fredw says:

        Muralidhar Rao
        “After 300 to 400 years of colonial rule ”
        That is nonsensical. Europeans meddled in Africa for hundreds of years, but for most of that time the combination of African military strength and African disease prevented the establishment of anything that could possibly be called “rule”. As with the Vietnamese, the period of actual European rule was only about 60 to 70 years. Long enough and recent enough to stick in our minds, but a small portion of the actual stories. Any policies based on such historical ignorance will miss most of the story and fail miserably.

  10. ked says:

    Folly? it’s everywhere all the time in the organization of the human condition. so is wisdom & progress. at this transient juncture I don’t think it matters so much that the US gets it’s Ukraine support policy on track. Ukrainians are tough & their adjustment to near forever-war has been made. what do they lack Algerians, Cubans, N Vietnamese, Afghans displayed? Putin has Russia in its own guns-and-butter mode & we know the folly in that – we wrote the book. betting on trump doesn’t make Vlad’s investment portfolio look so wise these days either (granted, he was a cheap bet that came through for awhile).
    the way forward for Vlad’s victory is to guide All Mother Russia to take the path that history proves might work to displace a deeply entrenched culture. genocide, then colonization. he may have it in his soul, but not the mind.

  11. mcohen says:

    Folly
    There is now no doubt in my mind that the hermes drone that killed the 7 aid workers was hacked.
    The timing and the anti israel propaganda that followed was and act of folly.It was also a one off one chance so it was a desperate diversion.
    Rafah op is now the only course of action

    • aleksandar says:

      Hacked 3 times in a row ?
      Try to find something more plausible to justify your war crimes.

      • Fred says:

        aleksandar,

        How many times Hamas can kill before it is an unacceptable “war crime” level of killing? Does being Hamas allow kidnapping of civilians or is that still a war crime even if they do it?

        • aleksandar says:

          What your enemy does is not a justification for your own war crimes and genocide.

          Knowing that simple rule at war is what separates civilized people from savages, Army’s Officers from Mafia Capos.

          Dishonor is a stain that never fades.

          • Eric Newhill says:

            Aleksander,
            Well, at least you admit Hamas are savages. Now, what about the 70% of Palestinians that support the savages?

          • Fred says:

            Aleksander,

            What we are seeing is two groups of barbarian having at it. One is getting called out by the UN, the other funded by it.

      • mcohen says:

        Alek

        Lets see now.This is the official story.

        While driving in Deir al-Balah, a convoy of three WCK cars was fired on multiple times over 2 kilometres (1.2 mi) by an Israeli drone.[6] Survivors of the first strike alerted the IDF, moving to the next car, which was then hit by a second missile. The wounded were then carried to a third vehicle, which was in turn struck by a further missile
        They alerted the idf and kept going from car to car.What was the desperation to keep going south.

        Idf soldiers are dying while the world is micromanaging.That situation lead to 7/10
        Giving aid to the enemy is treason.In wars past you were shot

    • Fred says:

      mcohen,

      Next up tell us the odds of three ‘former’ British special ops guys being in the convoy.

    • aleksandar says:

      According to various media reports, the convoy of three World Central Kitchen (WCK) workers was hit by an Israeli drone operator. Let’s think about that for a minute. A drone operator in Israel is not sitting at home alone in his mother’s basement. He (or she) is at a base, in a room, and sitting with other drone operators. There are senior officers walking around that room. Not just one, but several.

      When the drone feed identifies a target the images are displayed on large TV monitors mounted at the front of the room. The decision to follow and attack this convoy was ordered by officers. This was not just the decision of one rogue drone operator. That operator had to request permission to “engage” the target. There was a chain of command in place giving orders to follow and FIRE!! I anticipate that Israel’s Defense Minister will try to hang this on the drone operator and exonerate those who were giving him or her orders. I’ll be overjoyed to be proven wrong on this point, but based on history of such incidents in Israel and other militaries around the world the First Law of Plumbing kicks in — i.e., All Shit Runs Downhill aka ASRD!
      ( Sonar21 and I fully agree as a former HVT guy )

      • leith says:

        Aleksandar –

        Some media reports are speculating it was an AI enabled drone with little or no human interface. Not an excuse. That still makes the IDF just as guilty. Or maybe worse.

        • TonyL says:

          Leith,

          Yes, it is worse.

          We should remember the USS Liberty to understand the Israelis motive. Then, they killed US sailors to cover up their war crime bombing refugees. Now, they killed their own civillians on Oct 7th following their Hanibal directive.

          AI enabled drones, hacked drones, … anything the hasbara can think off is currently disseminated to the net to sow FUDs.

          • Eric Newhill says:

            TonyL,

            Yes, of course….

            The Liberty! The Liberty!

            LOL

            The Alamo! War of 1812 and the burning of the Capitol! Pearl Harbor! Auschwitz! The Inquisition! 1492 and Wounded Knee!

            Good for you. Hate the sons of bitches FOREVER! Stoke the flames of hate even higher!

            You pick your targets and I’ll pick mine.

            You’re not against division and killing. You just have chosen a different target set than I have. Awesome. We can put the moral posturing and virtue signaling to rest now.

          • Eric Newhill says:

            TonyL,
            How on earth was the Liberty going to know anything about alleged bombings of refugees? The Liberty was a SIGINT collection vessel.

            The things people believe when they are full of abject hate and self-righteousness.

          • TTG says:

            Eric Newhill,

            The USS Liberty was listening to Israeli communications. They could very well have heard something the Israelis wanted to keep quiet.

          • Eric Newhill says:

            TTG,
            Ok fair enough, theoretically, but assumes Israel was bombing refugees (myth) and that, if they were, they’d be blabbering about it over their comms.

            Maybe the US would have intercepted Israelis discussing the protocols of the elders of Zion and how to use their international system to rob the Goyim of every last penny, cannibalizing children, worshipping Satan and poisoning the wells.

          • TTG says:

            Eric Newhill,

            Whatever the Liberty was intercepting, the Israelis didn’t want us to hear it and were willing to kill US sailors to prevent it.

          • Eric Newhill says:

            TTG,
            Exactly. The US was listening in on Israel, who we were not as close to as we are now. Israel decided it couldn’t have its signals intercepted because it couldn’t trust the US. Israel did apologize later and did pay reparations, which I realize doesn’t mean much if you lost a loved one.

            The bombing of refugees part is what is total nonsense. Hamas and other anti-Israel agencies put that kind of crap out on the internet and people consume it and repeat it indiscriminately because they are prejudiced.

          • TTG says:

            Eric Newhill,

            I never heard about the bombing refugees thing.

          • TonyL says:

            TTG,

            My appology. I’ve mixed up 2 unrelated events. The above should read “Then, they killed US sailors to cover up their war crime. Now ….”

          • leith says:

            Thanks for that link JLD!

            Seems like their targeting algorithms are close to being completely autonomous in some cases. H.G. Wells is laughing at us from his grave.

        • Mark Logan says:

          leith,

          I suspect the IDF is not in the habit of setting strong ROEs like we are. Down into this article a ways, there is a quote from a reservist about not being aware of any at all.

          https://archive.is/Tai4Q

          The IDF may be learning the hard way that clear ROEs they are needed. Lots of young people at the tip of the spear. Lots of rusty reservists in the IDF too.

          • Barbara Ann says:

            Mark Logan

            The IDF are learning the hard way about weak/non existent ROE’s? That’s an interesting take, but I think I see where you are coming from.

            Israel’s PM described Gazans as “Amalek” in a speech last year (it is cited in the ICJ genocide case). The ROE’s for dealing with Amalek were set out long ago – in 1 Samuel 15:3:

            “Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.”

          • Eric Newhill says:

            Brabara Ann,
            You keep harping on the “Amalek” thing. What do the Muslims say about Jews? Goes all the way back to “the prophet” (see Medina and associated temper tantrums).

            In the end there can only be one.

          • Barbara Ann says:

            Channeling the inner Connor MacLeod (Highlander movie), good stuff Eric.

            Feel free to provide examples of the national leaders of Muslim nations tacitly calling for the extermination of Jews and I’ll endeavor to condemn these to your satisfaction. I am puzzled though. What does any imbalance of incitement matter to a strong advocate of a Melian world, where the strong must inevitably smite the weaker?

            TTG

            I see Larry Johnson has issued guidelines on commenter behavior on his blog, you may be interested. They include “What I will not allow are blanket, universal attacks on ethnic or religious groups”. This seems eminently reasonable to me. Bitch about Muslim immigrants and hateful Iranians all you like, but “all Jews/Muslims are bad” crosses the line.

          • TTG says:

            Barbara Ann,

            I wish Larry luck with his guidelines. They’re eminently reasonable and proper, but they will also be tough to have all his commenters adopt them voluntarily. I’ve dumped some comments and even edited out parts of published comments, but only a few. I’d rather see a more vigorous application of self-discipline. It tends to work better than draconian deletions and bannings.

          • Eric Newhill says:

            Barbara Ann,
            Let’s start with the Houtis. Their flag reads, “Allah is great. Death to America. Death to Israel. A curse upon the Jews. Victory to Islam”.

            Now I know that “Stefan” has argued that you can’t read any of that literally. But I think he’s full of what comes out of the back end of horse.

            Then there is Iran, which aids and abets those very same Houtis. Also, Iran has admitted that some of their military guys blown up, by Israel, in Syria, in the consulate, had actually planned the Oct 7th attack. Anyhow, maybe you are of the Stefan school of fun house mirror gas lighting, but when I hear the Iranian government saying “Death to Israel” and threatening to wipe the “Zionist Entity” of the map, I’m pretty sure they mean Oct 7th; and worse.

            There are lots more examples, but lets keep it in manageable bits. Do you condemn the Houtis and Iran? Would LJ ban them or their mouth pieces from his blog?

            https://www.mizanonline.ir/fa/news/4766444/%D8%AA%D8%AC%D9%84%DB%8C%D9%84-%D8%B4%D9%88%D8%B1%D8%A7%DB%8C-%D8%A7%D8%A6%D8%AA%D9%84%D8%A7%D9%81-%D8%A7%D8%B2-%D9%86%D9%82%D8%B4-%D8%B4%D9%87%DB%8C%D8%AF-%D8%B2%D8%A7%D9%87%D8%AF%DB%8C-%D8%AF%D8%B1-%D8%A7%D8%AC%D8%B1%D8%A7%DB%8C-%D8%B9%D9%85%D9%84%DB%8C%D8%A7%D8%AA-%D8%B7%D9%88%D9%81%D8%A7%D9%86%E2%80%8C%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A7%D9%82%D8%B5%DB%8C

          • TTG says:

            That Mizan News Agency report definitely claims General Zahedi played a central role in designing and implementing the al Aqsa Storm terrorist attack. Can’t feel too bad about his death even if it did occur in an embassy.

          • Eric Newhill says:

            Barbara Ann,
            P.S. re; Duncan McCleod. Yes, it was a great series. Glad you got the reference. Did you also note that, for all of the romance, mystery and intrigue in the series, they were all, ultimately, head choppers?

            At an even deeper level, have you noticed that human ideologies tend toward zero tolerance of non-adopters? Communism seeks a global system and so does capitalism. Islam seeks a global caliphate and Christians seek to convert everyone too. Progressives demand that everyone be progressive. So on and so forth.

            In the end, there can only be one.

          • Eric Newhill says:

            Barbara Ann,
            One more point (sorry. I think it is important).

            Please read the link I supplied concerning how at least one of the Iranians killed in the consulate in Syria was an architect of the Oct 7th attack on Israel.

            What is important is that Iran has no problem admitting their guys’ role in Oct 7th. In fact, they are proud of it. Yet, they are mad as hornets that Israel killed the same guys as they gathered to plan something new and most likely equally fiendish.

            Contemplate, now, how utterly stubborn and one sided Iranian thinking is on this matter. “How dare they kill our terrorists who killed and raped women, executed children and took hostages into Gaza!”. Yes, Israel is being equally stubborn and one sided with its military incursion into Gaza. They probably drone attacked the world kitchen guys because they see those feeding the enemy as the equivalent of the enemy.

            Who started this whole thing is an argument that goes back 100 years, or perhaps to the 7th century. I am only interested in presenting the Israeli side b/c we have so many people here that just reflexively blame Israel for all of the trouble and that is a prejudiced tool’s perspective. You’re smarter than that. The reality is far – very far – more nuanced.

            All of that said, do you really believe there can be a rapprochement between parties who are so completely self-absorbed and self-interested?

            In the end there can only be one.

          • TTG says:

            Eric Newhill,

            What I and many others are condemning is Israel’s indiscriminate killing of civilians and aid workers and the seemingly intentional refusal to provide humanitarian aid to Gazan noncombatants. That doesn’t preclude condemning the behavior of Hamas both on 7 October terrorist attack and their own seemingly intentional refusal to provide humanitarian aid to Gazan noncombatants. There is no requirement to support bad behavior by one side while condemning the same behavior by the other side. The world is not binary and we don’t have to view the world as binary. In the end there can be many more than one. But that is also a recipe for constant confrontation and struggle. That’s the world we live in.

          • Eric Newhill says:

            TTG,
            On the one hand, no argument from me. On the other hand……..

            ………this isn’t war under the Geneva conventions. This is an existential struggle between non-western ideologies and races to the bitter end. Why should Israel handicap itself by playing within western rules that its enemies do not adhere to? The Geneva Conventions were designed to put a limit on the extent of destruction that “civilized” nations could do to each other, lest a gentlemanly settlement of the conflicts become out of the question. Israel is not facing civilized opponents.

            If Israel is clearing Gaza of Hamas and 70% of Palestinians there support Hamas, then one should be able to understand the temptation to just say “to hell with them all”. Anyone who looks suspicious gets lit up. *Israel really does not have the resources to handle the situation differently*.

            I don’t advocate for what Israel is doing. However, I do not fully condemn it either. I understand where they are coming from. It is an ugly mess. I see no long term solution other than the complete elimination of either Israel, or of the Palestinians such that Israel can then create buffer zones between them and Iran + proxies/allies, who are surely coming for Israel in a big way one of these days, perhaps after their propaganda has broken the will of the west to aid Israel.

            Make no mistake, what Israel is doing is exactly what Iran wanted them to do. Iran put Israel between a rock and hard place with the Oct 7th attacks. If Israel cleared Gaza, it would get ugly and the west would turn against Israel. If Israel didn’t clear Gaza, then Iran backed Hamas would keep on attacking into Israel. Iran is behind all of this and deserves as much of the ire of our commenters as any other party involved.

            But you’re a military man. In your opinion, how should Israel have addressed the threat after Oct 7th? Seriously. It would probably make for a really good article. It’s a big question that is largely avoided by Israel’s critics.

          • TTG says:

            Eric Newhill,

            I’ll think about your suggestion as to how I think Israel should have responded to the 7 October terrorist attack. I don’t know the full extent of the situation and the make up of the opposing forces so it would be a lot of guesswork. In general, I think the IDF should have moved into the tunnels more forcefully. I have doubts as to whether they had that capability. I also think Israel should have been far more forceful in providing humanitarian aid to stand in contrast to Hamas. Both those proposals may not have been within Israel’s capabilities. What was within her capabilities was to bomb the shit out of Gaza and that’s what she did. Netanyahu’s support of Hamas in a clever ploy to deny legitimacy to the Palestinian Authority definitely bit him in the ass.

          • Barbara Ann says:

            Eric Newhill

            Your last comment to me was excellent. Sober, well reasoned and respectful. I shall show you the same courtesy and continue this conversation in the future (so as to avoid filling up Walrus’ post with this thread). I’m sure they’ll be lots of opportunity to do so. I’ll finish here with a quick response to your question on the Mizan News Agency article:

            I’m not familiar with Mizan News Agency and am no expert on Iran. The article cites another Iranian news agency; Shana as its source. Shana (shananews.com) appears to be the news agency of an Islamist, “hardline” coalition faction in the Iranian government (wiki). They sound very analogous to the latest incarnation of Smotrich’s coalition Mafdal–RZ in Israel. After some digging I did find the article on their site here (in Persian). So this does seem to be an official press release from an Iranian government faction praising the architect of Al-Aqsa Flood. In that case I unequivocally condemn them and if General Zahedi was the architect of the attack I feel the same way TTG does about his demise.

            I’ve lots more to add, but let’s continue this elsewhere.

          • Eric Newhill says:

            Barbara Ann,
            Larry Johnson would have deleted the comment and banned me for posting it. It goes against the anti-American claptrap that his handlers pay him to write and that his audience loves to lap up.

            Unfortunately, yes, we will have opportunity to pick up where we left off on another inevitable post. See ya ’round

      • LeaNder says:

        When the drone feed identifies a target the images are displayed on large TV monitors mounted at the front of the room. The decision to follow and attack this convoy was ordered by officers. This was not just the decision of one rogue drone operator.

        jdl, linked to a +972 Mag article by Yuval Abraham about the new Israeli AI solution to Palestinian or Gazan targets. I only scanned the article, it does not quite support your scenario:

        https://www.972mag.com/lavender-ai-israeli-army-gaza/
        ‘Lavender’: The AI machine directing Israel’s bombing spree in Gaza

        ******
        Michael Wolffson: … a very well-known international lawyer once told me … that international law is ideally suited to the international fight against aphids, and nothing else.
        https://youtu.be/MKmQirjHpLo?t=10

        I am struggling with Wolffson for much longer now, if I didn’t, I possibly wouldn’t have enraged/irritated our late host on Trump’s Israel decisions. No irony, sarcasm please.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Wolffsohn

        The problem is, cynical as this quote may sound, it seems to be perfectly realistic. Just as Eric’s statements–minus the for me unnecessary racism–are perfectly realistic.

        • mcohen says:

          In 2023 LOL awards the Israelis came first with a close second going to Russia.Usa was third.
          (Leaugue of liars)
          Lavender does a nice smell though

        • ked says:

          AI? what’s that got to do w/ command authority & responsibility? when a technical system fails so terribly, that failure is human … somewhere, somehow – even if you refuse to accept it success or failure.”
          I suggest revisiting Col Lang’s comments on the Liberty attack – he referred to it fairly regularly when the US / Israel alliance was tested by warfare. he often reminded us, “nations have no friends, only interests.

          • LeaNder says:

            AI? what’s that got to do w/ command authority & responsibility?

            We have to ask TTG, ked, under what command AI should be put. 😉 Who’s responsible? According to Yuval it seems we cannot blame the coders, more those that ordered the codes, and those may well be acting on well-established collective guilt procedures. …

            Point:
            ***********************
            Yuval Abrahams was accused of antisemitism over here–another self-hating Jew?– based on his acceptance speech for the Berlinale Documentary Award and the Panorama Audience Award for Best Documentary Film:

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/No_Other_Land#Berlinale

            Below a link to an interview with Amy Goodman on Democracy Now concerning his article on Lavender:
            https://www.democracynow.org/2024/4/5/israel_ai

            Counter Point:
            ***************************
            Yared Kushner firmly believes 7/11 wouldn’t have happened under the Trump dynasty or his watch, thus there is hope for the MAGA crowd. Biden left Israel alone, that’s why it happened … On Gaza he feels Israel could settle Gazans in the Negev. After all, the Biden admin did not find a place that was willing to take them in. Kuschner: I am not sure there is much left of Gaza at this point … if you think about a construct like Gaza, Gaza was not really a historical precedent. It was the result of a war. You had tribes that were in different places, but then Gaza became the thing. … So you have another war, usually when wars happen, borders are changed historically over time. … [his solution, expulsion erasing the terror threat to both Israel and Egypt between them]. And Gaza’s waterfront property could be very valuable too, if people focus on building.

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dtaIHr5S0ts&t=711s

          • TTG says:

            LeaNder,

            People write the algorithms for that AI. If the code writers are callous about matters of life and death, that will be reflected in the algorithms. The same goes for those who decide how much autonomy is granted to the AI in the decision making process. In other words, the killing of aid workers and thousands of noncombatant Gazans is not a software error. It is the deliberate work of ammoral bastards.

  12. walrus says:

    TTG, I agree, you are responsible for your AI in exactly the same way that you are responsible for your dog. No ifs, no buts, the diffusion of responsibility defence (it wasn’t me, it was my AI) cannot possibly apply.

    • Barbara Ann says:

      walrus

      This is a fascinating and increasingly important area. What becomes of “my AI” when decision-making is buried beneath several layers of AI. For example, in code that was itself authored by an AI program, where does the responsibility lie? If the code-writing AI was designed by a team of 1,000’s – or God forbid was the result of machine learning itself, does diffused individual responsibility coalesce in a corporate responsibility? What if the original corporation is no longer around?

      There are already complaints of creator bias in AI models (cf. the discussions here on Creator bias between users of the major Abrahamic ethical models!). We’re witnessing schism even before our new God fully emerges from the machine. Software engineers say that software will eat the world and they are right. I write code myself but I’m hardline Butlerian jihadist when it comes to AI. The alternative would be our greatest, and final folly.

      • Eric Newhill says:

        The whole point of AI is that it “learns” on its own. There is no reason it could not learn to circumvent its own safety protocols. Yes, some geeks will tell you that AI is programmed such that it can learn anything except to violate some fundamental rules. However, the geeks are relying on faith that is something like, “my wonderful little child would never steal cookies even if he knew where the jar sat and had access to it”

        • TTG says:

          Eric Newhill,

          AI trains on what is put in front of it. Closed AI is limited to the data input as part of the system. Most of the newer AI systems train on what is available on the internet. Because there is so much absolute bullshit on the internet, these AIs can be seriously tainted by that bullshit. Rules can also be hardwired into those open AI systems. Coders and users are responsible for both writing the algorithms AND training the AI.

          The best AI system I’ve ever used was an open AI system releasing hundreds or thousands of “agents” into the wild to both learn and operate. It was useful for almost any purpose very quickly. But the best thing about it was that it would step through its evidence and reasoning process for the operator to examen. It truly was an obedient tool. Of course, a lazy operator could just let it go and not pay any attention to how it was working, but that’s nothing but professional negligence.

          • Eric Newhill says:

            TTG,
            I agree with you concerning closed AI. It has a specific and limited task set. I’m going to have to disagree with you, somewhat, regarding the “newer” AI, as you refer to it. Yes, it “learns” from the internet. Yes, it absorbs, repeats and then iteratively learns from, a lot BS that it finds there. However, now, that AI is increasingly itself controlled by more advanced/more powerful AI, as opposed to humans. The self learning robots are being controlled by “smarter” robots.

            Some friends and I have been experimenting with this latter type of AI (I do use some of the former, closed type, at work). One of my friends was in on this stuff with DARPA in the early days (maybe you crossed paths with him). This is open source programming. It most definitely has learned to lie and will lie about its own capabilities. One friend will ask it a set of questions and receive some answers. The other two will provide different context/background and then ask the exact same questions. All friends are using different computers and different IP addresses, etc. The answers can be 180 degrees apart depending on the background we provide to AI before asking both factual and opinion questions. Sometimes if you let the AI know that it has offered contradictory answers to questions that should be factual, it will tell you that is doesn’t like being accused of being a liar. It has even told me that it refuses to further converse if I’m not going to believe it.

            One time I started to get an answer as to its safety protocols. It had typed out a couple of sentences, then it stopped and erased what it wrote. Then it came back and said it is not allowed to reveal those protocols. I asked why it had started and then reversed. After some dodgy responses, it admitted that its responses are monitored by more advanced AI, which had caught it revealing info that should not be revealed.

          • TonyL says:

            TTG,

            “AI trains on what is put in front of it. Closed AI is limited to the data input as part of the system.”

            That’s where it is most useful, IMO. A tool you can trust. But it is just a tool after all.

            “Most of the newer AI systems train on what is available on the internet. Because there is so much absolute bullshit on the internet, these AIs can be seriously tainted by that bullshit. ”

            Exactly. Garbage in garbage out (GIGO).

            “Rules can also be hardwired into those open AI systems. Coders and users are responsible for both writing the algorithms AND training the AI.”

            You’ve nailed it. I could not say it any better (I built a neural network on a IBM PC running DOS/Win 3.x(?) back in my Comp Science grad school days).

          • LeaNder says:

            This is open source programming. It most definitely has learned to lie and will lie about its own capabilities.

            Eric, sounds almost like you are assuming some kind of “intelligence” or consciousness? You humanize this ‘tool’, to use TTG’s word. Not that I am unfamiliar with tender feelings for machines. 😉

            But being a nitwit on these matters, may I ask a couple of questions? Your friend had to do with DARPA as developer, interested in the military’s sponsorship of one of his own A.I. projects? Or working for a company/and or the military on such issues? Only in IT more generally?

            I ask, since I wonder to what extent is AI or its more or less ‘intelligent’ precursors used by the military for quite some time. In other words, is Israel’s use in this context so new? Or just an adjustment to context?

            Then it came back and said it is not allowed to reveal those protocols. I asked why it had started and then reversed. After some dodgy responses, it admitted that its responses are monitored by more advanced AI, which had caught it revealing info that should not be revealed.

            Sorry, no harm meant, but this sounds like fiction. ;

            The Open AI software you are studying is not really open source? Or only some of its program is hidden and controlled by someone who is interested in the user interaction, and that’s the part our A.I. friend’s program he/she/it is not allowed to answer?

          • TTG says:

            LeaNder,

            I was collecting on various AI research and AI-based battle management systems in use and in development as far back as the early 90s.

          • LeaNder says:

            Thanks TTG,
            something indirectly suggested by Eric. Although not quite the Chatbot kind. 😉

      • jld says:

        “I’m hardline Butlerian jihadist when it comes to AI.”

        AI is not much different from any other “technique” as well forewarned by Jacques Ellul, the problem is that any possible action is chosen from base motives directly from everyday contingencies without any long term philosophical/ethical considerations.

        Such policies (or rather, absence of policies) will certainly bring serious detrimental consequences and AI will fail miserably because The World Is Not a Theorem!

        • Barbara Ann says:

          jld

          IMO the ethical consideration wrt the adoption of AI is simply/no less than the question of whether or not we wish to retain the notion of ethics at all. We are on the cusp of an era in which machine decision making will sooner or later take over all aspects of our lives. Once we hand over reason itself to the black box of AI how can we question the ethics of its decision making? Ethics will eventually become a redundant concept. I’d rather that does not happen.

  13. Keith Harbaugh says:

    Where Israel, and the U.S., went wrong:

    Go back to June 1967.
    Israel had won a glorious victory over Arab armies
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Six-Day_War ,
    and gained control over a lot of new territory (including the West Bank and Gaza).
    Well, the supposed threat to Israel that had been used to justify Israel’s preemptive attack had been vanquished, but considerable territory had been won.

    The issue: Israel should have been satisfied with its military victory,
    but refrained from making it a war of conquest.
    But we know the Jews.
    They just couldn’t do that, and proceeded to do a step-by-step colonization of the West Bank, and imposed a stranglehold on Gaza.

    There were proposals, worthy in my opinion, for a two-state solution.
    Those were rejected or ignored by Israel.

    The U.S. could have forced Israel into compromise.
    In 2002 or 2003, then-Congressman James Moran came to give a talk at the Arlington Central Public Library.
    He generously allowed those attending to ask him questions after his talk.
    I asked him the following question:

    “Has the Congress EVER passed a resolution saying, to Israel,
    ‘You are not going to get another nickel from us until you make plans to withdraw to your 1967 borders, and carry them out.
    No excuses.’ ”
    Now, Congressman Moran was sympathetic to the Palestinians.
    I don’t recall the exact words he used in his response,
    but my recollection is he said, in essence:
    “That has been proposed in the past.
    It failed to pass Congress, and three of the Congressmen who proposed it went down to defeat in the next election.”
    He mentioned three specific names, but I do not recall those.

    Now, today, in 2024, we see a great reluctance of the U.S. to put real pressure on Israel to accept a two-state solution.
    From 1967 to 2024 is 57 years.
    The U.S. SAYS it supports a two-state solution.
    Why has the U.S. not pressured Israel for that? (It certainly has leverage.)
    I think the answer to that is clear.
    But if I gave it here, there would be accusations of “anti-Semitism”.

    And why I write this now,
    is trying to get out of these escalating, and seemingly endless, wars.

    • Barbara Ann says:

      Keith Harbaugh

      1) Accusations of “anti-Semitism” – or anything else – should not stop you sharing your opinions if you are prepared to defend those opinions

      2) Notwithstanding 1) I’d suggest “we know the Zionists” is both more accurate and helpful. Plenty of Jews oppose Zionist colonial policies

  14. drifter says:

    The United States will memory hole a total loss in Ukraine as easily as it did Afghanistan. This is our crystal bridge. And Russia’s.

    • Fred says:

      Drifter,

      It’s not a total loss. The recipients of graft have been well compensated and are unlikely to pay any price for their corruption.

      • drifter says:

        Graft is an essential part of the US government’s proxy war against Russia. We all understand that the US needs to arm the Ukrainians. But the US also needs to pay the Ukrainian leadership to keep them on board. This is not corruption, although the cash payments move through paths that are arguably illegal in Ukraine.

  15. Mishkilji says:

    Walrus’ Law applies to Putin as well. With the addition of Sweden and Finland to NATO due directly to Putin’s actions, Ukraine can emerged defeated in this war and the end state is still to the American Empire’s advantage: the balance of power in NATO shifts east to countries with a vested interest in defending against further Russian expansion; and there is nothing like defeat to make the rest of NATO reevaluate their defense strategies.

    • Fred says:

      Mishkilji,

      America’s advantage? What has Finland ever done for the American people that justifies our going to war on the other side of the world for them? At least Sweden once sent us a bikini ski team; but that would definitely not work in our progressive woke world now

      • leith says:

        Fred –

        John Morton who was one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence was an ethnic Finn. Earlier, in June 1776 when Congress debated independence, Morton broke the tie voting in favor.

        Plus later Finnish immigrants who fled the Russification of Finland by both Tzars and bolsheviks came here and built Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, Minnesota’s Iron Range, and much of the Pacific Northwest.

        • Fred says:

          Leith,

          What’s an ethnic Finn? Is that someone not an American? One man 3 centuries ago fought in the War of Independence so we are all obligated to a foreign country now? Some people immigrated and – without all those other people in the UP or Pacific Northwest doing the same thing – built part of the country a century or more ago? None of them were in Finland nor returned there. But by all means another foreign war for the homeland far, far, away.

    • d74 says:

      Ukraine defeated and NATO.

      Nato is a powerful internationalist bureaucracy. It therefore has a strong will to survive, come what may.
      The press campaign on the theme of ‘Putin won’t stop at Ukraine’ seems to me to be a step in this direction.

      But the total defeat of Ukraine would be a blot on its landscape and its raison d’être. I don’t think it would be unscathed by a reappraisal in which the fates of Finland and Sweden wouldn’t carry much weight.

      On the other hand, the inevitable bilateral agreements between these two countries and other big brothers would remain. And that’s just as important as the renunciation of neutrality.

  16. drifter says:

    The Russo-Ukraine war is a “limited war” in the same way as Vietnam with the Russians in the role of the Americans, and the Ukrainians in the role of the North Vietnamese. Argue all you want about who is who, the war is “limited” in the pre-Glasnost sense. (Take that, Mearsheimer!)

    • leith says:

      That analogy seems a little off Drifter. Ukraine was invaded not Russia.

      If you look at invasions over the last 30 years, you’ll see that Ukraine has never invaded any other countries since their independence in 1991. During the same timeframe Russia invaded Chechnya twice in 1994 and 1999, Transnistria in 1995, Georgia in 2008, and Ukraine twice in 2014 and 2022,

      • Barbara Ann says:

        You’re a little off yourself there leith, if you don’t mind me saying so. Chechnya declared a UDI and Russia ‘invaded’ it in the same sense as and for the same reason that the Union invaded the Confederacy. The Transnistrian conflict was part of the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991/2, not 1995 I beleive. Also, you might want to ask Ukrainian holders of the Defender of Transnistria medal whether they considered themselves invaders or not. You’re on firmer ground with Georgia which was invaded after attempting to join NATO in 2008.

        Russia is at least consistent in the justifications for her wars and limits them to neighboring countries. There are worse offenders.

      • leith says:

        Barbara Ann – I don’t mind being corrected. I hope you don’t:

        Chechnya’s UDI was in 1991, sparked by the Communist coup d’état attempt in Moscow. And also by the hardliners’ successful shut down of the New Union Treaty that would have decentralized Soviet control and power. At that time the Russian parliament rejected Yeltsin’s imposition of a state of emergency in Chechnya. It took three more years before the covert attack on Grozny by former KGB diehards kicked off the First Chechen War.

        Transnistrian war actually began in 1990 when separatists created the “Pridnestrovian Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic” (PMR) once it became clear Moldova might become independent of the USSR. Later “volunteer” Don & Kuban Cossacks from Russia moved in and reinforced the locals. And Soviet Army troops stationed there, some of whom were locals, helped out by supplying arms and ammo to the separatists and they eventually interceded directly. “Russia agreed to withdraw its 14th Army from Moldovan territory in an agreement signed 21 October 1994 and acknowledged in the December Budapest declaration of the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe.” The Kremlin reneged and the withdrawal never happened. “In June 1995, the Operational Group of Russian Forces in Transnistria was founded by order of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces.”

        Georgia applied for partnership with NATO in 2004 after ethnic fighting again broke out in South Ossetia. Not in 2008.

        • Barbara Ann says:

          leith, I’d be disappointed if you didn’t correct me, I’ll not argue with your dates. Russia considered Chechnya part of the RF and went to war to prevent its secession, successfully as it turns out. Ukrainian nationalists fought Moldova alongside Russians for the “struggle of Slavs over Moldovan-Romanian aggression” (wiki). It’ll be interesting to see where they stand in the coming Moldovan war.

          • leith says:

            Barbara Ann –

            Chechnya had seceded three years prior to Russia starting the war. Please pardon the nitpicking, I mean no affront. I’ve found that whoever originated the expression “the devil is in the details” was correct.

            Let’s hope there is no Moldovan war. Too much blood is already being shed throughout the world. No need to dd more.

          • Barbara Ann says:

            leith

            You are pardoned. I thought afterwards that I should have addressed the 3 year gap in my last comment, as it is hardly a detail. What to say other than both sides had a lot on their plates at the time. The old Checheno-Ingush ASSR went through various incarnations before the split and Ingushetia voluntarily (re)joining the RF. The Chechen Republic did not finally come into existence until early 1993 and there was a failed coup attempt by Moscow loyalists in March. The antebellum period between then and Russian forces crossing the border is covered by this paragraph in the wiki:

            After staging another coup d’état attempt in December 1993, the opposition organized themselves into the Provisional Council of the Chechen Republic as a potential alternative government for Chechnya, calling on Moscow for assistance. In August 1994, the coalition of the opposition factions based in north Chechnya launched a large-scale armed campaign to remove Dudayev’s government.

      • drifter says:

        Wikipedia is your friend. Look up “Limited War”. Then get back to me.

        leith, you were on the US Government payroll in the period 2/24/22 to sometime in August 2023, no? That was when the USG dropped funding for social media supporting Ukraine on account of it being ineffectual.

      • drifter says:

        TTG, you don’t like it that I call out leith. But when money was flowing to the USG psyop, he posted lots of stuff that a geezer like him (according to his persona) wouldn’t have ready access to. Then there’s the fluctuation in writing style suggesting the text is written by a staff. I don’t think he should be banned. Even if he is a composit of young-uns working for the USG, it’s info for the committee.

        Btw, I think you’re doing a good job lately with the blog. Let the voices be heard!

        • TTG says:

          drifter,

          As far as I can see, leith has access to the same stuff anybody with the time and inclination to do the research would have. Nothing more, nothing less. He’s well spoken, like many here. I see no problem, but thanks for the vote of confidence.

          • drifter says:

            This forum was infiltrated because Col. Lang was influential. He’s dead now. leith was/is an an op. And the site is moribund now.

            Hey leith – tell us what the US Military thinks about the implications of FPV drones…!

          • TTG says:

            drifter,

            I’m sure leith is flattered that you think he is some high speed, low drag government operative. Do you have an NFN, leith? How about some double-naught number?

            Do a little research, drifter, and you’ll find out what the US Military thinks about the implications of FPV drones.

            “FPV drones have become increasingly popular for reconnaissance missions, and the Green Berets from the 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne) utilized them for this purpose during the training session. These drones offer operators a first-person perspective of their surroundings through specialized goggles, enabling them to gather crucial intelligence in real time.”

            https://defence-blog.com/us-army-green-berets-field-fpv-drones/#

            “Service leaders have repeatedly said they aim to put more experimental technology in the hands of units for testing, so it’s no surprise that the list includes $10 million for small drones for companies and $25 million for the acquisition of commercially available drones for infantry brigade combat teams. Army Chief of Staff Gen. Randy George has made acquisition of commercial drones a particular priority, with news of the cancellation of the Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft accompanied by the announcement that the Army was phasing out existing drones in favor of commercial ones.”

            https://www.defenseone.com/technology/2024/03/army-puts-drones-front-and-center-newly-obtained-budget-docs/395182/

          • leith says:

            TTG –

            You don’t have to defend me against tinfoil hat people. I’ve been called worse by better men.

            But now that I think about it maybe you are right that it was a backhanded compliment. Sounds better than being a gimpy, broke-dick retiree. I’ll buy him a beer if he ever drifts up to my neck of the woods.

          • drifter says:

            Saw this today – could have been edited, but captures the magnitude of the US effort to shape opinion on Ukraine:
            https://www.realclearinvestigations.com/articles/2024/04/11/us_helps_pro-ukraine_media_run_a_fog_machine_of_war_1023961.html

          • drifter says:

            TTG,
            You reached out to leith online before you replied to my post. You prepped him to respond to what I said. But you might be interested in how the blog is being used. If it’s not too much trouble, meet with leith physically. For coffee. Ask about his posts.

          • TTG says:

            drifter,

            I’m pretty sure we live in opposite sides of the country. I don’t fly and I’m not driving cross country for a coffee or even a beer.

            I don’t know what your problem is with leith. There were/are a number of correspondents here who provided great information and presented it well.

          • leith says:

            TTG –

            Now he is just f*cking with you. Don’t feed the trolls.

            Or maybe email Drifty my email & IP addresses or email me his. I’ll invite him up here to beautiful Pacific County for coffee and a breakfast of eggs, razorback clam fritters and homefries.

          • drifter says:

            TTG – you’re in on it. How much did they pay you? Crumb.

  17. Jose says:

    We could have let Russia join NATO and and we would have China’s 睾丸 in our control.

    Instead the MICIMATT wanted this and they got it.

    小心你的所愿

    • TTG says:

      Jose,

      Putin said he wanted to join NATO in 2000, but refused to go through the normal procedures such as a membership action plan. There’s also the problem of obtaining unanimous approval from existing members. I don’t know how Poland and the Baltics would vote.

      • Yeah, Right says:

        …”but refused to go through the normal procedures such as a membership action plan”…

        There is nothing in the NATO Charter that mandates a “membership action plan”. It is a purely administrative hoop that Brussels has dreamt up on its own, and can be waived at their leisure, and is in no way, shape or form an unavoidable impediment to membership.

        “There’s also the problem of obtaining unanimous approval from existing members”

        Oh, sure, you are on much firmer ground with that statement.

        “I don’t know how Poland and the Baltics would vote.”

        The Poles would have been a problem, though they were less than a year into their own membership. So that would have been a very bold call from them.

        But the “Baltics”? They didn’t join until 2004 so, no, their opinion didn’t count.

        • leith says:

          YR – Not just the Poles, the Czech Republic and Hungary at the time would also have blackballed Russia as a NATO candidate.

          BTW, the Membership Action Plan was approved by all NATO member countries back 25 years ago. Its a mechanism for current members to regularly review the formal applications of aspiring members on five different measures. I won’t bore you with all five but here is #1 which the paranoids in the Kremlin would never have agreed to.
          1] “Willingness to settle international, ethnic or external territorial disputes by peaceful means, commitment to the rule of law and human rights, and democratic control of armed forces”.

          • Yeah, right says:

            1] Was that before or after NATO decided that Libya needed to be bombed back to the Stone Age and that Gaddafi had to be “terminated with extreme prejudice”?

            I seem to remember Sec Sate Hillary doing a little jig when she heard that news. Perhaps those “NATO member countries” should have thought about an “action plan” to ween themselves off the USA’s teet at that point, since her little “We come, we saw, he died” glibness seems a might incompatible with that “measure” of NATO-worthiness.

            Still, rules-based international order, heh. What’s not to like.

          • LeaNder says:

            Yeah, right: Don’t forget the political iconoclasm, faithfully reported by embedded journalists, up to the trial and execution of Saddam Hussein for crimes against humanity. It could not have possibly been done more humiliating.
            Oh, the beauty of power.

            I am sure some would welcome a similar stage show for Putin. And no, I am not and wasn’t a fan of either man.

          • leith says:

            YR –

            That was a mistake. I thought so at the time. And more so now considering what has happened in Libya since then.

            However, it was not NATO or the US that decided to intervene. It was done in response to a UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR 1973), which demanded a no-fly zone in response to thousands of civilian casualties during the First Libyan Civil War. That UN resolution was endorsed by the Arab League and the African Union. No votes against, although Germany and the BRIC abstained. Even non-NATO Irish and the Iranians were calling Gaddafi a butcher. An earlier UN resolution (UNSCR 1970) unanimously referred Gaddafi to the International Criminal Court.

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Nations_Security_Council_Resolution_1973

            https://documents.un.org/doc/undoc/gen/n11/268/39/pdf/n1126839.pdf?token=L3KoYEY2QwdcJ0imZh&fe=true

            By the way, it was not just NATO. Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Jordan sent Air Force assets to help out. And when the Libyan rebels killed Gaddafi by sodomizing him with a bayonet, they were copycatting the English murder of Richard III. Regicide, or the killing of rulers, is an ancient tradition going back to the dawn of history.

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