Open Thread – 28 March 2010


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25 Responses to Open Thread – 28 March 2010

  1. Maureen Lang says:

    For those who have not yet checked out what’s happening over @ TA in March…
    May I recommend Pat’s latest Athenaeum post on cancer fighting nanotechnology developed by a Caltech team, as well as John Minnerath’s superb photographic post, “Our Own Private Star.”

  2. Be interested in the readers of this blogs take on the announcement that US will sell “Drone” UAV technology to allies?
    Am I correct that the Clinton Administration allowed the sale of sensitive technology to China allowing development of anti-satellite technology by that nation-state?
    Finally, how many countries has US sold anti-satellite technology and missle systems to at this point?

  3. b says:

    Laura Rozen reports:

    Since Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s tense visit to the White House last week, an intense debate inside the Obama administration about how to proceed with Netanyahu to advance the Middle East peace process has grown more heated, even as Israeli officials are expected to announce they have reached some sort of agreement with Washington as soon as tonight.
    Sources say within the inter-agency process, White House Middle East strategist Dennis Ross is staking out a position that Washington needs to be sensitive to Netanyahu’s domestic political constraints including over the issue of building in East Jerusalem in order to not raise new Arab demands, while other officials including some aligned with Middle East peace envoy George Mitchell are arguing Washington needs to hold firm in pressing Netanyahu for written commitments to avoid provocations that imperil Israeli-Palestinian peace talks and to preserve the Obama administration’s credibility.

    “He [Ross] seems to be far more sensitive to Netanyahu’s coalition politics than to U.S. interests,” one U.S. official told POLITICO Saturday. “And he doesn’t seem to understand that this has become bigger than Jerusalem but is rather about the credibility of this Administration.”

    Last week, during U.S.-Israeli negotiations during Netanyahu’s visit and subsequent internal U.S. government meetings, the official said, Ross “was always saying about how far Bibi could go and not go. So by his logic, our objectives and interests were less important than pre-emptive capitulation to what he described as Bibi’s coalition’s red lines.”
    When the U.S. and Israel are seen to publicly diverge on an issue such as East Jerusalem construction, the official characterized Ross’s argument as: “the Arabs increase their demands … therefore we must rush to close gaps … no matter what the cost to our broader credibility.”

    As to which argument best reflects the wishes of the President, the first official said, “As for POTUS, what happens in practice is that POTUS, rightly, gives broad direction. He doesn’t, and shouldn’t, get bogged down in minutiae. But Dennis uses the minutiae to blur the big picture … And no one asks the question: why, since his approach in the Oslo years was such an abysmal failure, is he back, peddling the same snake oil?”

    Other contacts who have discussed recent U.S.-Israel tensions with Ross say he argues that all parties need to keep focus on the big picture, Iran, and the peace process as being part of a wider U.S. effort to bolster an international and regional alliance including Arab nations and Israel to pressure and isolate Iran. This is an argument that presumably has resonance with the Netanyahu government. But at the same time, Arab allies tell Washington that Israeli construction in East Jerusalem inflames their publics and breeds despair and makes it hard for them to work even indirectly and quietly with Israel on Iran. They push Washington to show it can manage Israel and to get an Israeli-Palestinian peace process going that would facilitate regional cooperation on Iran.

    Ross is evil.

  4. N. M. Salamon says:

    Notable for misasing in MSM: DoE expect oil [roduction to fall in 211-15 span:
    That such news has to be found iin France, is self-destructive to the USA Public Good.
    This also indicates that DoD should rethinl its actions and quit wasting energy on wars and super-expensive sate of the next art equipment,
    Also indicates that Israek better smarten up, lest declining oil production mqkes her existance untenable.
    Enjoy the qarticle and ponder the future!

  5. At the Virginia Capes says:

    Thanks to Col. Lang and all the readers for making this blog enlightening and thought-provoking. I enjoy the discussions.
    Many of the foreign relations situations that are currently facing our nation involve very complex issues, with many different factors that must be taken into account. To produce a useable product for the nation’s leadership, we must have good analysts.
    What do you, the other good readers of the Colonel’s blog, feel are the most important traits/qualities/skills for a good analyst to have? In other words, what makes a good analyst?

  6. From Canada says:

    Col. Lang,
    I recently stumbled across a documentary on Youtube
    about the American involvement in Angola. The film relied heavily on the accounts of a man by th name of John R. Stockwell who was the CIA’s Chief of the Angolan Task Force.
    Do you know of this man and is he to be taken seriously?
    What are your thoughts on the American involvement in Angola?
    From Canada

  7. Patrick Lang says:

    Never heard of him and don’t know. pl

  8. Augustin l says:

    This video will help clarify any misconceptions and lack of understanding some of us may have regarding the enemy we are facing in Afghanistan. Must Watch!
    Augustin L

  9. elkern says:

    All –
    Came across this at
    Market For Military Robots Will Reach $9.8 Billion By 2016
    Money graf:
    “Growth comes as the nature of combat changes in every region while the globally integrated enterprise replaces nationalistic dominance.”
    So they expect “globally integrated enterprises” (PR-speak rebranding of “Multi-National Corporations”) to become important end-users of military robots? This is the logical end-state of unbridled Libertarian theology: they (MegaCorps) will supplant nation-states at the top of the food chain.
    Ouch. We’re headed for life in a Sci-Fi movie, and B-movie at that.

  10. Augustin l says:

    Here’s another interesting video shedding some light on what is being done in our name.
    Augustin L.

  11. J says:

    Ross is an agent for a foreign government who needs to be registered under FARA, and stripped of all access to any type of U.S. sensitive/classified documents.
    With the classified documents that Ross [in Ross’s position]is purview to, sends shudders up and down my spine at the thought of all the sensitive stuff Ross may be giving Israel’s espionage agents.

  12. Respnse to AT the Virginia Capes: My answer is that training, education and experience can lead to a good analyst including a willingness to self disclose and analyize his/her bias and weaknesses. But this is not enough. They must be able to process the information they are given and provide their best judgement ( a difficult term when it comes to individuals)but also be willing to discuss how they arrived at that judgement and what arguments or facts they utilized or discarded and why or why not? Good judgment in any arena of human affairs is of course always in short supply and difficult to obtain and therefore once identified must be treasured and treated with the greatest respect even when disagreeing with that analyst’s judgment. I just finished a wonderful biography of FDR by Jean Edward Smith and really for the first time picked up on how much FDR’s sensitive antennae and judgment failed between the death of his friend and ally Louis Howe and the rise of Henry Hopkins. Apparently both were able to tell FDR “No” or “your making a mistake” to FDR and yet he understood at some deep level how much he needed that and did not get it from others. General Marshall of course was another who was willing to disagree with FDR and of course it is well documented he disagreed with Truman’s decision to recognize Israel as a nation. If there is a singular failure in public affairs in the US today and perhaps the private sector also it is the tremendous shortfall in people with good or excellent judgment about how, where, how, and why the US should proceed in foreign relations and foreign policy in a clearly multipolar world where the integration of vast amounts of divergant information makes for great difficulty in forming sound judgement about those aspects of our (US) existence. I wish more were written about this difficult area.

  13. David J says:

    BP will close its solar-panel manufacturing plant in Maryland, the final step in moving its solar business out of the United States to facilities in China.
    BP chief executive Tony Hayward said BP was “moving to where we can manufacture cheaply.”
    So much for the green jobs for Americans the politicians keep promising.

  14. YT says:

    Nota bene.,0
    Indications of worse to come. The Four Horsemen just seem to evolve in so many myriad ways…

  15. Fred says:

    Why should any American complain about BP going to China, Walmart went there years ago. All BP has to do is put an American flag on the box, they will sell. It’s Wall Street values – the dollar, or return on it, that is most important to too many.

  16. fanto says:

    David J and Fred,
    today’s St Louis Dispatch has a front page article about the vanishing of jobs in St Louis, putting blama on lack of educated work force, that the ‘high school is not enough anymore’ – or something to that effect. Your comments make it clear that greed is the true motive, not the lack of ‘educated workforce’ – the Chinese workers are not any better educated, on the contrary, probably worse. So – what is the solution? Our cost of living cannot be the base of lowering the base pay. I am at a loss. These jobs will never come back here and on ‘service jobs’ – selling junk mortgages wrapped in “collateral certificates” will not bring prosperity back. Health care jobs will not bring prosperity back. What is the solution? I am afraid to hear the answer.

  17. J and Fred,
    Such is the China Price of Free Trade. The permanent real answer would be for America to cancel NAFTA and MFN for China, and withdraw from WTO. We would then restore the Tariff Wall of Protection against hostile production from underpaid underregulated areas and/or economies. We would have to expect revenge responses against our currency and our foreign-held debt. Those responses would be designed to either torture us into rejoining the Free Trade system, or destroy our society as an example to anyone else who might try such a defensive withdrawal from the Free Trade system. So we would have to make ourselves ready
    in advance for such a response. If we tried it and succeeded, we could re-onshore some of our missing production and build up a neoFortress America survival
    economy. (Such an economy would be materially poorer than what we still have.) Once we had that, we could afford to treat trade as a necessary evil and permit bilateral trade on a fairness and equity basis.
    To try that would be painful and dangerous. But continuing on our present Free Trade course will turn us into a CornSoy Republic in the fullness of time. We would be allowed just enough other goods and services to keep us just alive enough to keep delivering the corn and soybeans to an impatient world.
    Meanwhile, I hope the Obama Administration can maintain it posture of firm guidance to Israel. Obama is tossing Israel a flotation device but the Israelis think its an anvil.
    If they learn the difference
    in time, they will grab it and survive. If they don’t, they will sink and drown.
    Fracturing the Netanyahu Coalition would be a good thing. Every Israeli Coalition government should be fractured until every Israeli political party learns that every Israeli Coalition will be fractured until we get an Israeli Coalition which accepts our firm guidance.
    Obama will need to be a two term president to make that direction-change irreversible. I hope he changes some of the domestic approaches which could make him a one term president. For example, if he continues to fail to instruct the Army Corps of Engineers to separate the Chicago Sanitary and Shipping Canal from Lake Michigan, and those Asian carp get into Lake Michigan, and the currently oblivious people of the Great Lakes find out what has happened and why; he will lose the electoral votes of 5 other Great Lakes states in return for keeping the electoral votes of Chicago (Illinois).
    Since I mentioned the possibility of studying the mine-detecting abilities of African elephants in order to harness or mimic those abilities; I have read that some demining groups have experimented with training rats to detect landmines.
    So perhaps elephants will not be necessary.

  18. rjj says:

    BP chief executive Tony Hayward said BP was “moving to where we can manufacture cheaply.”
    So much for the green jobs for Americans the politicians keep promising.
    Posted by: David J | 28 March 2010 at 06:42 PM

    Stop grousing and look on the bright side. the wizards of wealth creation have given us a standard of living (overpriced housing and inflated medical costs) which precludes holding on to all the menial stuff. We can always get by selling one another securities, insurance, vehicles, real estate, medical procedures, and makeovers.
    By way of the caring professions, the invisible hand, and the collective wazoo:

    An estimated 70 million CT (for computed tomography) scans are performed in the United States every year, up from three million in the early 1980s, and as many as 14,000 people may die every year of radiation-induced cancers as a result, researchers estimate.
    The use of CT scans to screen healthy patients for cancer is particularly controversial. In colon cancer screening, for instance, the American College of Radiology as well as the American Cancer Society have endorsed CT scans, in a procedure often called a virtual colonoscopy, while the American College of Gastroenterology recommends direct examinations in which doctors use a camera on a flexible tube.
    For patients, navigating the debate can be difficult because doctors, patient advocacy groups and manufacturers often endorse positions that are in their economic self-interest. Radiologists, who often own and use CT machines, for instance, often endorse their use; while gastroenterologists, who often own and use camera scopes, often favor their own methods. Patient groups often get financing from drug and device makers, or physician-specialty groups.

    Scores of internal agency documents made available to The New York Times show that agency managers sought to approve an application by General Electric to allow the use of CT scans for colon cancer screenings over the repeated objections of agency scientists, who wanted the application rejected. It is still under review.

  19. Mad Dogs says:

    As we’ve chewed on it here at SST before, might as well chew on it again – via the NYT:

    Imagining an Israeli Strike on Iran
    In 1981, Israel destroyed Iraq’s nuclear reactor at Osirak, declaring it could not live with the chance the country would get a nuclear weapons capability. In 2007, it wiped out a North Korean-built reactor in Syria. And the next year, the Israelis secretly asked the Bush administration for the equipment and overflight rights they might need some day to strike Iran’s much better-hidden, better-defended nuclear sites.
    They were turned down, but the request added urgency to the question: Would Israel take the risk of a strike? And if so, what would follow?
    Now that parlor game question has turned into more formal war games simulations. The government’s own simulations are classified, but the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution created its own in December. The results were provocative enough that a summary of them has circulated among top American government and military officials and in many foreign capitals…

    A summary of that Brookings report is here (6 page PDF).

  20. BillWade, NH says:

    David J, also – there’s Evergreen Solar:
    “A solar panel company that received $58 million in state aid to build its factory in Massachusetts is now moving jobs overseas.
    Evergreen Solar is shifting some of its production, currently done at a plant in Devens, to China next year, after posting an $82 million loss in the third quarter.
    Gov. Deval Patrick calls the move unfortunate, but says some of Evergreen’s operations will remain here.”
    A real kick in the teeth this one, State funds the company to build a factory, company leaves for China.

  21. N. M. Salamon says:

    Different Clue:
    Your idea of rebuilding USA industry behind a Protectionist Wall has three problems [aside from retaliation by foreigners]:
    1., The USA has not enought capital to finance the needs of Oil companies in the next 5 years see my citation above by your Department of Energy.
    2., the USA is woefully short of most natutral resources needed for industry, which has to be imported — and there is very little the US can export due to restrictions on USA produced goods, dual purpose, strategic interest, or other nonsense.
    Finally, if DoD is right, and I think they are far too optimistic; the availability of oil will decrease very fast, requiring all kinds measures to promote alternate energy, which will decrease available to other purposes: Wars, New Factories, New Mines, Discretory goods, gasolne availability, etc.
    I agree with your notions re Israel. Though other powers could contribute to solving I/P problem if the USA does not act as a guardian angel to Israel, nor as if Israel was part of the Union.

  22. Al Spafford says:

    Col Lang: In the arrest of the “Christian” militia group here in Michigan the other day, I find it interesting that they are not termed a “terrorist group”. I am certain that if a Muslin group (even composed of full US citizenship)in Dearborn Michigan were apprehended with the intent on the mass killing of police officers, they would be termed a “Muslim terrorist group”. Why not then for this homegrown group and the Timothy McVies (with his Christian White Idenity background) being termed “terrorists”. Just our way of practicing self-centered nationalistic, ethnic thinking?

  23. Patrick Lang says:

    Al Spafford
    A strange definition of “terrorism” prevails. I remember telling Britt Hume that the Washington sniper(s) were terrorists and he was shocked, shocked. (This is the same guy who asked me once how many Muslims were willing to blow themselves up). This was before they were captured and found to be angry black men as opposed to angry white man (mens). pl

  24. curious says:

    So we would have to make ourselves ready
    in advance for such a response. If we tried it and succeeded, we could re-onshore some of our missing production and build up a neoFortress America survival economy.”
    That trick has been tried by every other empire. (Ottoman, China, Astro-hungarian, etc.)
    In my not so humble opinion, forget yesterday product, minimize and cut the lost, but make sure we are on top of next development cycle.
    Unfortunately this is where the trouble begun, it also mean a lot of status quo business and industries are going to fight it hard.
    (eg. energy, transportation, utility, health care industry, media)
    for eg. in order to build hyper-modern green city, one most likely will have to fight everything that depends on combustion engine business.
    The fact that home fuel cell + functional hybrid car + smart grid are more than ready are irrelevant.
    That’s just one aspect. Nevermind things like how do you build highspeed train with 3 times the efficiency of current intercity transportation? (fighting public perception, airplane lobbyists, town planning, outdated regulations, realigning utility supply, etc)
    The chance of africa and central asia building efficient highspeed train system is far higher than building one in the US.
    Mark my word.
    That’s the part that everybody has to worry. We fail to adapt to new century and keep partying like it’s the 50’s.
    Trade balance and energy import will go away once we move to newer technology.

  25. ked says:

    Gulf exercise…
    that ain’t no kruze misel.
    I wonder how many Trident’s the USN has ever fired in the ME? At this rate, we will resume our proper Big Power role of ratcheting pressure on Iran to grow up – they’d best pay attention to their realists rather than their fantasists. Israel has some growing up to do, too – let’s hope… ’tis the season.

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