Recycling old nonsense

Obama05-spiritxo Toward the end of the war in Vietnam there were a number of odd arguments concerning withdrawal advanced by people suffering from non-combat fatigue.

One had to do with the idea that because people had been lost in the war, it would be necessary to fight until the psychological arithmetic involved in the loss could be justified emotionally by "victory" or at least "pay back."  I have heard that one several times in the last couple of days from dizzy blondes on 24/7.

A second argument was made in those days  concerning personal investment and profit involving; the careers people had made related to SE Asia, the loot collected by "Alaska Barge and Transport" or "Foremost Dairies," etc.  One was asked, "surely you do not believe that those so "invested" will ever allow the war to end?  Surely.  That argument has returned as well.

Then, there were the Democrats of the left.  Post Cronkhite, they wanted nothing so much as an immediate end, in all ways to American participation in the war.  Out!  Out now! The devil take the hindmost.  In 1975 they got their way by enacting their wish into law.  The devil DID take the hindmost.  If you don't think so ask the Vietnamese diaspora.  Ask them.  Now the Democratic Left is unhappy because President Obama has decided that we will leave Iraq in a prudent way.

Well, that war DID end and so will this one, the only question is "How?"  pl

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62 Responses to Recycling old nonsense

  1. barrisj says:

    Co. Lang…it astounds me that somehow you saddle the “Democratic Left” with the aftermath of the US withdrawal from Vietnam, as the Nixon-Kissinger “Peace with Honour” machinations virtually guaranteed that the South would eventually capitulate to the NVA and submit to reunification terms issued by Ho Chi Minh. Even the notoriously corrupt regime of Nguyen Van Thieu recognised that there was absolutely no choice but to endorse the “peace” terms negotiated by the US and GNVN, and endure whatever consequences would flow from the decision. After all the (Nixon) years of expanding the war to Cambodia, bombing of Hanoi/Haiphong, additional thousands of US and hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese casualties, despite all of that the inevitable writing on the wall spelled “it’s over”, and the Vietnamese themselves would sort out the post-war arrangements, the legacy of which presented no apparent threat to US national security (unless you reckon “loss of prestige” a national-security issue).
    IMO, Iraq will go the same way, where a new government radically different from that displaced by war will assume power, and the internal dynamics of Iraqi politics – ethnic, religious, territorial – will ultimately impose the composition and direction of post-war/post-occupation Iraq. I simply can’t accept that the “reach” of domestic US politics trumps the ability of a foreign peoples to place their own mark upon their own county; the removal of all US military tomorrow or two years from now won’t make any significant difference in what emerges within Iraq after all the shouting has subsided.
    Yes, it would be comforting to know that “success”, “victory”, a “job well done” was achieved after all these years of warfare, but – in the long run – it’s out of the Americans’ hands, full stop; totting up “gains” or “losses” to US national security or interest in the immediacy of the wind-up to the war serves no good purpose at all.

  2. Patrick Lang says:

    Absolute bullshit. “The corrupt Thieu government?” Wow. You really ARE a lefty! You know perfectly well that the Thieu government had accepted the cease fire with North Vietnam because we insistted that they do so. That cease-fire persisted for two years until the Congress of the United States passed a law forbidding any further assistance of any kind to South Vietnam. This was an unmistakable signal to the North Vietnamese. Who controlled the Congress then and to what constituency were they responding? pl

  3. regulararmyfool says:

    How many of the families in the Vietnamese diaspora actively collaborated with the invaders?
    Oh, somewhere between 99.9 per cent and 100 per cent.
    So, bring all of our collaborators to the US and shut down these ignorant futile wars. Our collaborators will not be one tiny whit better off after another year and a half of killing than the Vietnamese collaborators were after our 13 years of killing in Vietnam.

  4. João Carlos says:

    Well, I fear will not be important for Iraq’s future how much time the US troops use for get out.
    Iran will control Iraq’s shia government, because the shia parties, all them, have links to Iran. That will happen if the US troops stay 10 years or they get out at 5 months or they get out at 16 months. It is inevitable.
    But Pres. Obama need time for get the troops out making sure the troops will suffer no damage and they will not see more casualities (or at least save the most troops lives he can). It is better an organized retreat than an unorganized run out.
    The objective is save the US troops lives. He cannot make them get out at one month because they will stay vulnerable while retreating. They need time for retreat a safe manner.
    Better start to talk to Iran and build a possible deal. But I think Obama will try it.
    Neocolonialism is dead, no way it will survive to Iraqi fiasco…
    But I fear we will see they will blame Obama for not make Iraq a new US protectorate.

  5. jonst says:

    I think it fair to note that it was the so called “Democratic Left” that controlled Congress in the early 70s, the time the Col is focusing on. And they were certainly responding to their constituency, and, I would guess, the majority of Americans when they passed the total ban. Something often overlooked by the ‘hawks’. The question that should be asked is how and why did we get to a situation where Congress, and people in the nation felt they had to pass something so total a bar to assistance as they did? Could it be because they had lost faith in a lying, and corrupt government here, in DC? Could it be that they felt that the only way to stop the GOP Admin from reengaging in Southeast Asia–regardless what the Admin said in public– was by the total ban against aid? Perhaps they were wrong in that conclusion. Perhaps they were not. In any event, to think that the total ban was the only way to stop the ‘hawks’—by that time seeming addiction to foreign adventures— was logical given what had gone on the preceding twenty five years or so.
    Moving forward to today, while I have no objective criteria to prove this, my general impression is the “Left”, at least as represented in the blogsphere, seems to have taken this rather in stride. I realize that Pelosi and Reid have moaned a bit. But that is about it. I think most people are satisfied with the speech and the policy time line. So long as he sticks to it. That is.

  6. Patrick Lang says:

    I was in Saigon the day the RVN government accepted the cease fire under Kissinger’s pressure. We threatened them then with abandonment to get them to agree. How would they have fought without resupply from us? My counterpart, a Vietnamese Army paratroop lieutenant colonel with one eye and one leg told me that it was “only a matter of time before you abandon us.” He was right. A decent interval passed and it was so.
    The RVN government was corrupt? All 3rd world governments are corrupt. Do you think the communist Vietnamese government is not corrupt? If you think so, then you have not tried to do business with them. Business corruption made the RVN government illegitimate? Was the Bush Administration not corrupt in its business connections? Did that make them illegitimate?
    I should “get over it?” Hell no! Treachery is treachery. pl

  7. John Kirkman says:

    55,000 U.S. soldiers and possibly over a million Vietnamese died in a war in Vietnam that never should have started.
    It was their country and we were the invaders. If they wanted to be Communist who gives a shit, it was their business, not ours. War is not the answer, unless, of course, you’re pushing for rank. Our country has never been the same since, and now we make damn sure it is only the working class doing the KIA. Ike warned us about the crazies in the Pentagon and their buddies in the industry, but we were raised on John Wayne movies and B.S., propaganda unrelated to the smell of flesh in a napalm fire.

  8. Patrick Lang says:

    “unless, of course, you’re pushing for rank.”
    You piece of S–t. Let us meet somewhere. pl

  9. Babak Makkinejad says:

    João Carlos:
    You wrote: “…Iran will control Iraq’s shia government,…”
    In the eternal words of Col. Lang: “Bull Shit”.
    The people of Iraq, regardless of their religious or linguistic affiliations, are very very aware of the price oil & gas resources in the world. There is absolutely no way for a foreign power to control people who are – in principle – independently wealthy.
    The most one could claim, in my opinion, is that in the area of security & stability of the current dispensation in Iraq, the government of Iraq will welcome all help that Iran can afford.
    John Kirkman:
    IKE’s government was the one that oerthrew a sovereign government in Iran- under the guise of pre-empting communist threat- in order to rape that country’s oil resources. He, more than any one else, bears responsibility for what followed in 1979- in my opinion.
    If you are looking for saints among US presidents you might want to consider Mr. Jimmy Carter.

  10. Patrick Lang says:

    Old lefty and zionist assholes (sometimes the same)
    Go elsewhere for your forum. you will will not be posted here. pl

  11. mike says:

    Colonel –
    With friends like some of those above you do not need any enemies.
    God bless you for telling it like you see it. There are too many self-licking ice cream cone blogs. Yours is refreshing.

  12. Charles I says:

    ‘Old lefty and zionist assholes”
    Cripes! 2 outta 3, can I still get on?
    Tom Ricks’ new book moots that the ultimate Iraq war, to be fought by the Iraqis, awaits withdrawal.
    Good luck and God Bless all those who lose life of loved one before its completed.
    Now, wasn’t the Powell doctrine supposed to solve the usual political consequences of ill considered war or ill-timed withdrawal?
    Its a bit late I know, but if only 400,000 SOLDIERS, not contractors and caterers had been deployed in Iraq, or in Afghanistan for that matter, with the appropriate focused mission: “No more nuke plans, don’t attack us or the neighbours from here; OK then its all yours”.
    And therein lies context of every American war and every American withdrawal.
    And every American “betrayal” as seen by the weary, honourable, bloodied soldiers who fight them. God help them all, except the ones shooting at me or mine, or my allies.
    Its not up to General Powell. Its up to Congress and in time, the voters. For better or worse, we’re free, hopefully, to be better. Next time.

  13. dilbert says:

    Viet Nam and a lot of other countries suffered because “Elephants were fighting and the mice got stomped”.
    A friend of mine flew the American planes that brought the French back into Indo China in the 40’s. Truman did that.
    What a lot of lives and treasure would have been saved if we had just let Ho take over then. The communist experiment would have been over sooner and with less loss of lives.
    My guy who cuts my hair is back in VN to see family and friends and no one cares that he was in RVN inteligence during the late unpleasantness.

  14. plahey says:

    Colonel, you’ve jumped the shark.

  15. Highlander says:

    Damn Colonel,
    Remind me to never get seriously crossed up with you.
    You just have to remember. The military man’s concepts of honor, integrity, and faithfulness are totally alien to some who populate your forum. These “panty waists” have no real idea why you are angry with them. In addition many of them are glad when America suffers a defeat.
    Thank you. For after 30 plus years you being so forceful in defending the honor and memories of those who did serve in Vietnam both the Americans and our allies(many of whom were incredibly brave men).
    Especially for those who have now been long dead.
    Semper Fi

  16. barrisj says:

    Col. Lang…I assume that it is I who must suffer the “old lefty” denunciation/ban. I’m sorry that my comments so offended you, and that certain opinions simply aren’t tolerated ex post facto, much to my chagrin. Frankly, whether you post this particular comment is irrelevant to me now, but I just wish to point out that your own particular personal and career participation in the Vietnam War has left you – nearly 35 years later – rather short on objectivity when events from that painful period resurface.
    Whatever your opinion of the rightness or wrongness of the entire US involvement in Vietnam, you must concede surely that Cooper-Church (6/70),Case-Cooper (6/73), War Powers Act (1973), and, yes, the Congressional vote in March, 1975 (a result that Pres. Gerald Ford expected, and one that he did NOT try to rally either the Republicans or the public at large before the actual vote) were in culmination of both an enormous voter weariness with and hostility to further US engagement in the war, AND Congressional frustration with an Executive Branch engineering and then conducting a war with minimal “advise and consent” input from the Congress. Ultimately, the “power of the purse” was used, in early 1975, that finally drew an end to the US’s contribution and influence in aid of the South Vietnamese government. Yes, tens of thousands – more, perhaps – of America’s former ally were left holding the can, but the die had been cast already. Few people believed that “Vietnamisation” would in fact substitute for a huge US military commitment; at best it would only prolong a bitter, bloody internecine conflict that would have resulted in the same denouement: reunification under the GNVN. As the ’75 vote was taking place, the NVA were streaming tank, artillery, mechanised infantry, the lot, from the North toward Saigon, and Thieu know the game was up. You don’t think his American contacts were telling him that whatever Nixon, Kissinger, Ford, Mel Laird had promised, Congress and the public were done with it?
    I also wish to say that my comments were a sincere effort at dialogue – I never slag off other posters or the blog editor – and I (wrongly, it seems) had expected a like response. Perhaps you should start a “Who lost the war in Vietnam?” thread, as you certainly have a lot to say on the subject. But I’m afraid that your personal feelings severely hamper your judgment when dealing with comments that deal either directly or peripherally with the topic.
    Well, I did enjoy visiting and posting here…I only can wish you well and continued success for your blog.

  17. I want to post something that refers to a thread from two or three weeks ago – regarding the chimp cartoon in the NY Post.
    I made comments then about racism in New York City. I then thought that there may be more than one good honest New Yorker who might argue with me that I’ve painted the city and its people with too broad a brush.
    I saw a wedding announcement today in the NY Times that told me some things in New York do change… or rather, in the melting pot that is NYC, some things never change. The Irish and the Italians go from fighting gang wars to marrying each other; other ethnic groups follow:
    My best wishes to the happy couple, two NY CIty police sergeants.

  18. steve says:

    Whatever our initial goals were in invading iraq, I think we have achieved what is mostly achievable with COIN. We have put Iraq in a place where it can decide its future. We cannot and should not do that.
    It is time to leave, and leave responsibly. We need to accept financial realities and face other mounting issues around the world. Mexico anyone?
    I am concerned about Afghanistan and what they are deciding to do there. We are already seven years there, and people are projecting ten years more at a minimum following COIN practice. What model do we have for such a protracted conflict? What happens after we leave? Is Barnett correct in assuming that whenever we leave, now or in ten years, Afghanistan is likely to revert to a decentralized, tribally dominated country open to use by small terrorist groups?

  19. Yohan says:

    Col., correct me if I’m misinterpreting, but are you saying that had the US congress not passed the ban on US aid to South Vietnam then the North would not have invaded, or at least not when it did? Would US aid in 75(in the form of bombing, resupply, etc.) have allowed the South to rebuff the Northern invasion, like in 72?
    To the others: why do you come here? Is it to have your preconceived notions praised, or is it to learn?

  20. Andy says:

    I think there is a difference between a desire to “end the war,” which really means end US involvement in the war and not an end of the war itself, and completely abandoning South Vietnam as we did in the 1970’s, or Iraq or Afghanistan today.
    On the subject of the anti-war left, I’m largely in agreement with Col. Lang – they want to have their cake and eat it too. They apparently do not see themselves as holding any responsibility for the negative consequences that flow from the policy choices they support and successfully implement. Just look at some of the comments in this thread.
    This same strain of leftism is now complaining that Obama isn’t getting out of Iraq now and is suddenly very worried and vocal about the “escalation” and “endless war” in Afghanistan. It’s another case where anti-war ideology is more important than a rational consideration of the consequences of a particular course of action given a particular situation. It’s frankly refreshing to see Obama reject that view take a pragmatic and rational approach. I, for one, am quite tired of ideological decision-making no matter where it comes from, right or left, that we’ve seen in recent years.

  21. We don’t have cable TV here at home, and my blood pressure monitor is happier for it! So I am suspecting that proponents of the first couple of arguments and the Democratic Left must be cable TV gasbags that I never see. And quite frankly, I think are becoming less and less relevant.
    A perusal of what I would think are some of the most popular grassroots, lefty blogs – Daily Kos, Eschaton, Hullabaloo, and Talking Points Memo – all come up pretty much empty on Obama’s plans other than simply highlighting them back on the day he gave his speech. They’re covering all sorts of other issues.
    I think Obama will be able to move forward as planned with no sustained opposition.

  22. Patrick Lang says:

    My conception of salvation involves the willingness to sacrifice for others. Your friends and mine died for that. Their deaths are not wasted.
    On the other hand I would have preferred to win. By “win” I mean an end state in which the people of the Republic of Vietnam would have had a chance to decide for themselves what sort of political system they wanted to live under. Most Americans who think of themselves as having opposed that war from opposition to brutality have no idea what VC agitprop cadres did to the country people to keep them in line. Having buried a lot of the results of their “discipline” I can not forget it.
    I do think the NV government would not have launched their war winning conventional offensive in 1975 if the propect of American air intervention had been present. They had a lot of experience of what B-52s would do to them given the opportunity. The ’75 offensive brought them out of hiding and across the border en masse. The roads were jammed with their tanks, towed artillery and infantry in truck convoys. They knew better than to do that if the
    BUFFs were a probability. pl

  23. zanzibar says:

    Since I seldom watch TV news I have been fortunate to not see the shrill talking heads try to gin up controversy.
    It is to be expected that the neocon/Israel first crowd will try to create the message backdrop of “stabbed in the back” while some of those that opposed the Iraq invasion vociferously will demand an even faster withdrawal. Compared to the Vietnam war I believe the vast majority of the American people sincerely supported our soldiers and felt for their families despite which side of the divide they were on the political decision to invade Iraq.
    Obama was pretty clear during the campaign that he would order a prudent withdrawal strategy. But the actual mechanics would be based on consultation with the military leadership. He has done that and I don’t doubt his resolve to see this orderly and safe return home of our soldiers.
    IMO, Obama’s Iraq speech could not have been more clear. He has done exactly what he said he would do during the campaign. He is to be commended for recognizing the sacrifice of military families who served and followed the orders of our political leadership. I also feel that his demeanor reflected the sober nature of the issue at hand. I hope for all our sakes that the sordid chapter that is Iraq – when our people were propagandized into an invasion and occupation of a country that posed no real or imminent threat to us on the basis of false pretenses – will be closed with respect to all those that paid the ultimate sacrifice and continue to pay dearly including our military families as well all the Iraqis killed, maimed and displaced. I hope they will find their peace. I suppose that I belong to a minority that believes that we need to openly examine the political decision making that led to this strategic debacle for the US and hold those at the highest echelons of political power who made the decisions accountable.
    Lest we forget, those elected leaders that had the courage to oppose the AUMF and voted against the blanket invasion authority were by large Democratic “lefties”. Further those that stood with the Constitution and voted against the Patriot Act, the FISA sham to provide retroactive immunity, warantless spying on American citizens and other transgressions of liberty that the hysteria around 9/11 and Iraq created were tragically few. My respect for these senators & congressmen who recognized their oath to defend the Constitution have only grown although I disagree with them on many issues.

  24. Babak Makkinejad says:

    You wrote: “…rational consideration of the consequences of a particular course of action given a particular situation.”.
    No such thing; i.e. rational choice has ever existed or practiced in fact, as far as the historical record shows -in my opinion.
    Policy is envisioned, designed and implemented by men with all their passions and prejudices.
    In fact, I cannot think of a single war or historical leader whose actions could be justified or understood on basis of Reason.
    Perhaps it is because such (Universal) Reaon does not exist among men.

  25. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Indeed! The portions of Mr. Obama’s speech addressing the people of Iraq should have been delivered by Mr. Bush in 2003 or 2004. That he did not do so always left me wondering if US were after Iraqi oil after all.

  26. John Waring says:

    Why couldn’t the South Vietnamese stop the North Vietnamese conventional offensive?

  27. Patrick Lang says:

    John Waring
    Ah… Now that is a good question.
    My answer would be that European style nationalism harnessed to the service of Marxism-Leninism was a much stronger organizing principle than the old style Confucianist society that the Republic of Vietnam represented.
    And then, there was the debilitating effect of understanding that there would be no help from outside.
    Some fought, but not enough. Social Darwinism prevailed. pl

  28. Andy says:

    Naturally pure rationalism does not exist and everyone has their biases. However, that people are subject to passions and prejudices does not mean they are absolute slaves to them, nor does it mean that everyone is affected equally. In the end, those differences matter when considering policy and the more ideological one is, the more likely inconvenient facts and alternatives will be ignored or explained away leading to bad policy.

  29. curious says:

    Why couldn’t the South Vietnamese stop the North Vietnamese conventional offensive?
    Posted by: John Waring | 01 March 2009 at 07:49 PM
    There is no single answer to this. it’s a process that had started 20 years before then. The parties, the bureaucracy, the supply, war strategies, international geopolitics, public disenchantment, etc … It was not about about a single battle line anymore.
    simple snipped from wiki, pretty much capture the complexity.
    In 1960, at the Third Party Congress of the Vietnamese Communist Party, ostensibly renamed the Labor Party since 1951, Lê Duẩn arrived from the South and strongly advocated the use of revolutionary warfare to topple Diệm’s regime, unifying the country, and build Marxist-Leninist socialism. Despite some elements in the Party opposing the use of force, Lê Duẩn won the seat of First Secretary of the Party. As Hồ Chí Minh was aging, Lê Duẩn virtually took the helm of war from him. The first step of his war plan was coordinating a rural uprising in the South (Đồng Khởi) and forming the National Front for the Liberation of South Vietnam (NLF) toward the end of 1960. The figurehead leader of the NLF was Nguyễn Hữu Thọ, a South Vietnamese lawyer, but the true leadership was the Communist Party hierarchy in South Vietnam. Arms, supplies, and troops came from North Vietnam into South Vietnam via a system of trails, named the Ho Chi Minh Trail, that branched into Laos and Cambodia before entering South Vietnam. At first, most foreign aid for North Vietnam came from China, as Lê Duẩn distanced Vietnam from the “revisionist” policy of the Soviet Union under Nikita Khrushchev. However, under Leonid Brezhnev, the Soviet Union picked up the pace of aid and provided North Vietnam with heavy weapons, such as T-54 tanks, artillery, MIG fighter planes, surface-to-air missiles, etc.
    Meanwhile, in South Vietnam, although Ngô Đình Diệm personally was respected for his nationalism, he ran a nepotistic and authoritarian regime. Elections were routinely rigged and Diem discriminated in favour of minority Roman Catholics on many issues. His religious policies sparked protests from the Buddhist community after demonstrators were killed on Vesak, Buddha’s birthday, in 1963 when they were protesting a ban on the Buddhist flag. This incident sparked mass protests calling for religious equality. The most famous case was of Venerable Thích Quảng Đức, who burned himself to death to protest. The images of this event made worldwide headlines and brought extreme embarrassment for Diem. The tension was not resolved, and on August 21, the ARVN Special Forces loyal to his brother and chief adviser Ngô Đình Nhu and commanded by Le Quang Tung raided Buddhist pagodas across the country. In the United States, the Kennedy administration became worried that the problems of Diệm’s regime were undermining the US’s anti-Communist effort in Southeast Asia. On November 1 1963, confident the US would not intervene or cut off aid as a result, South Vietnamese generals led by Dương Văn Minh engineered a coup d’etat and overthrew Ngô Đình Diệm, killing both him and hid brother Nhu.

  30. Keith says:

    My counterpart, a Vietnamese Army paratroop lieutenant colonel with one eye and one leg told me that it was “only a matter of time before you abandon us.” He was right. A decent interval passed and it was so.

    In retrospect, do you think the para was wrong? Even in at the time, did you think there was a real chance that the politicians would have ever approved starting the war back up after declaring victory or something approximating it?
    I ask, because I think this has some relevance to potentially similar “guarantees” that we might issue in Iraq or Afghanistan. I begin to surmise that any such guarantee would be hollow (which is fine if that is the intention, but I would prefer we not deceive ourselves).

  31. zanzibar says:

    I speculate that Cheney convinced Bush that the Iraq colony could have been got on the cheap. When it didn’t turn out that way it was too late to matter. Bush/Cheney had lost all credibility after ginning up the invasion on the pretext of WMD that never did exist.
    I am glad that Obama made it very clear. I actually believe that Obama gets foreign policy and strategy and has got a solid national security team. I feel his real Achilles heel is his economic team and it seems so far he is out of his depth when dealing with the financial institutions.

  32. Babak Makkinejad says:

    I think most mainstream economists are out of their depth when it comes to the current financial crisis.
    I recall the late Marxist economist Paul Sweezy repeatedly warning against the growth of financial sector is US (and abroad). I suppose it would make too much sense to hire a few Marxist economists to guide the rescue effort – at least they might help prevent groupthink.

  33. Babak Makkinejad says:

    yes, I agree.
    But then all policy choices ought to be considered as choices among evils.
    Perhaps the best policy paradigm would be to do nothing.

  34. china_hand says:

    With all due respect to everyone here —
    It would seem to me that doing honor to another’s sacrifice would also include the ability to admit that what was accomplished — or sought — was never worth the gamble in the first place.
    The sense of betrayal felt by the men and women who have killed and died in places like Korea, Vietnam, and Iraq stems, it seems to me, not from the lingering questions over the ethics that motivated the violence, but rather from the lack of public awareness — and lack of public empathy — for the experiences of those men and women who served the public will.
    WWII, WWI, the Spanish-American War — these were all highly publicized, and in each case the entire U.S. infrastructure was universally focused upon them. During those wars, everyone in the U.S., everywhere, knew what the end goal was and followed it closely. In most cases, when the warriors returned their opinions were closely attended to, and their needs closely followed.
    Ever since Korea, that has not been true. For my part, virtually no-one outside of my father has anything to do with the war, and his role is only that of a money-handler for a military firm (an honest one, let me add).
    I think that is true for most Americans.
    Ignorance breeds contempt, and in the current U.S. culture — with “men” like Rick Santelli selling their souls on T.V. — such contempt for our soldiers’ effort is shameful.
    I would like to point out one other thing:
    There is a fundamental disparity of action between those who would begin a war of aggression, and those who would only seek to expand our political and economic power peacefully. It’s much easier for a Cheney to lie the United States into an imperialistic war than it is for the Congress, or the U.S. people, to get us out once it’s started.
    In situations like that, the people who bear the brunt of the emotional and physical damage are our military. But it seems clear, now, 60 years later, that the U.S. was wrong to get involved in Vietnam in the first place.
    Many mistakes were made, at that time — by the military, by the economic and social elite, by our religious and political leaders — the U.S. made a terrible, awful mistake, and it resulted in the deaths of millions of innocent and defenseless people.
    Nobody in the U.S, i think, deserves to be blamed any more or less than the others — we are all equally guilty, and — from my standpoint — very deeply guilty. Withdrawal was handled badly, sure; but that wasn’t the only mistake made.
    But for the Vietnam War, there is more than enough blame to go around. It makes me sad to see that, 60 years later, our public opinions remain so fractured that they still cause such rifts as have been opened here, on this blog, in the last few days.
    I am glad we have people like you serving as our highest advisors, Colonel. I consider it a great gift to read and learn from your insight; thank you for your efforts here —
    and i can see clearly that, sometimes, it is an effort few of us readers can really fathom.
    I have followed closely what you have said, here, and your wisdom and recollections have tempered any inclination i might have to push for a rushed withdrawal, or to urge others to that end. For that, you have my deepest respect and gratitude — you have given me a role to play among my fellow citizens, and however small it may be it is something i hope you can take pride in —
    and i hope — fiercely — that you will continue engage this challenge, that through this pulbic dialog, these struggles may at last be elevated to something that benefits us all.

  35. curious says:

    I think most mainstream economists are out of their depth when it comes to the current financial crisis.
    Posted by: Babak Makkinejad | 02 March 2009 at 11:53 AM
    On the contrary, all the experts already know what to do. The problem is political. (the rich and powerful have to lose a lot of money. equity cut, investment wiped out, holding lost, etc)
    This is the reason they keep bailing out what everybody already say…zombie banks. It’s pretty much basic banana republic problem.
    And by now, the market is anticipating an “L” shape recovery as a result. Everybody expect the banks will be weak, cannot clean up and admit massive lost, and as a result cannot function as conduit of investment properly. (Hence Japan ‘L” shape recovery.
    as you notice, people now start pulling money out of stock market (that stock market isn’t going anywhere with L shape recovery) Lesson learned from Japan.
    and with continuing collapsing equity, that means portofolio value deflate further. ..etc, etc.. the negative cycle.
    It will be interesting to watch middle east economy with L shape US recovery. I hate to be the saudi, egypt, kuwait…Iran even. It will be massive inflation and slow growth for next 10-20 months. (dollar being dumped into the market will drown the middle east with no place to recycle it.)

  36. kim says:

    i’m not sure what “democratic left” you’re looking at.
    i’m satisfied with obama’s plan and numbers. juan cole is satisfied (in salon, sunday)and seems to understand the significance, as you noted,of this “address to the troops”. and move on sends me 2 emails nearly every day telling me how truly cool it is.
    maybe it’s just the right biased media pushing that meme,as they do at most any opportunity to discourage change and progress.

  37. Babak Makkinejad says:

    On another thread, I submitted my estimate of the amount of financial instruments that cannot be backed by the real economy to be around 222 trillion dollars globally.
    The actual figure might be close to 300 trillion dollars.
    US is responsible for 1/3 of global production. Thus her share of bad assets would be – at a minimum – close to 70 trillion dollars. [Probably more ~ 100 trillion dollars).
    How can an economy of ~ 13 trillion dollars a year deal with bad assets with nominal valuation of 70 to 100 trillion dollars?
    This is not a political problem alone – it is a problem of political economy [where is a Marxist when you need one?]
    You heard all of this first from me here.

  38. curious says:

    It’s all paper money. Fiat. there is no such thing as “real” economy. The whole transaction is as real as it can get. The joy of having world currency. Inflation goes somewhere else (as oppose to zimbabwe). Plus if one look at US sovereign debt, it’s still in range of 40% or so. compared to Japan and Germany, way over 100%+. I think Japan is near 200% of GDP. That’s just jiggling big number. In the short term it’s not a big disaster if it’s U recovery.
    In the long term however, with baby boomer retiring, social security and tax revenue balance will change quite drastic. L shape decade long recovery is definitely bad.

  39. jedermann says:

    If the military is a tool of the polity and war the extreme application of that tool by the polity then it is a misconception to define spheres of military operations or political activity in such a way as to lead to thinking “if only the politicians had let us do it the right way…” or “if only our generals had adopted the right military strategy from the beginning…”. One does not exist without the deep influence of the other.
    Political choices were made to initiate military involvement in Vietnam and prescribe the nature of operations there. Those operations in turn influenced subsequent political decisions. Vested interests became established in the military and the polity for staying engaged there and for doing things this way or that. Feedback loops established themselves and information started to flow with both predictable and unpredictable consequences. For instance, following the quiescent Fifties the rise to prominence of the New Left came about as a relatively small group of people seized a moment to become the lens for focusing the energy of socially and economically liberated Baby Boomers coming of age and the eventual groundswell of their opposition to the war. The New Left, while rooted in a variety of past political and cultural causes, was essentially an artifact of the war that quickly faded away with the end of the conflict.
    The war, its supporters and its opposition all shaped one another. The deceit and corruption of the Johnson and Nixon administrations could be said to have engendered an opposition so distrustful, and in a sense so reactionary, that it was blinded to prudence and common sense when it came to disengagement from the war. The way we left Vietnam is a national disgrace, but it was the culmination of an historical process that generated imperatives not simply of the moment but out of the complex continuum. I believe that President Obama is taking responsibility for a prudent and honorable withdrawal from Iraq. However, this is but one thread – though a powerful one – in the process that will generate the imperatives of our disengagement there. All kinds of other elements are likely to be heard from and we will do well to keep our heads and refrain from self indulgence or excessive zeal of any kind as we ride and – we hope – guide history to the moment of our departure from that place.

  40. Paul Escobar says:

    Back in 2006, that ‘old lefty’ Noam Chomsky had a good take on this:
    “The principle is that invading armies have no rights whatsoever. They have responsibilities. The prime responsibility is to heed the will of the victims.”
    He went on to cite Iraqi opinion polls:
    “The (Iraqi) population has made it pretty clear. Even U.S. and British polls make that clear. Overwhelming majorities want the U.S. to set a timetable to withdraw and adhere to it.”
    The website “World Public Opinion” has a collection of polling data from Iraqis. That’s what Chomsky cites.
    His position made alot of sense back then…& it still makes sense today.
    What do the Iraqi people think of Obama’s withdrawal plan?
    Maybe they want the pace of withdrawal to slow.
    Or maybe they’d like the occupying force gone yesterday.
    That’s the crucial issue here: What do the Iraqi people want?

  41. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Once again we have to agree to disagree.
    I think there is such a thing as real economy – it produces bread, clothes, cars, and various sundry objects. It has men in hard hats digging ditches and fixing broken pipes and electrical conduits.
    I cannot comment on the various projections of the future but I think focus has to be on the real economy – in the sense that I have described – rather than on what to do with these financial assets.

  42. Eric Dönges says:

    I admit I’m not an economist, so I may be way off here, but it seems to me most of the bad debt is not really real – it’s pretend money that banks owe to each other and investors. There are no assets in the real economy to back it. If the real economy refused to believe in it, it would simply go away, because nothing has changed in the real economy (except that Americans can no longer finance their lifestyle on credit).
    Of course, our masters will never let us stop believing in their make-believe riches, because then they would stop being our masters. Instead, we get the bailouts that are designed to turn the make-believe money into real money by passing the debts on to people who actually have real assets, namely those of us who work for a living.
    Reading your last comment again, it seems to me we might actually agree – the important thing is to make sure the real economy keeps running. I say we don’t need the geniuses who got us into this mess for that; let them rot.

  43. ads says:

    Babak Makkinejad:
    In fact, I cannot think of a single war or historical leader whose actions could be justified or understood on basis of Reason.
    Louis XIV’s cannons were inscribed with the motto “Ultima Ratio Regum” (the Last Argument of Kings).
    (That little factoid comes from Neal Stephenson’s Baroque Cycle trilogy, the first novels I have read since rereading LOTR when the Jackson films came out.)
    I don’t know if I agree with you though, some aggressive war aims are rational from a realpolitik standpoint, at least in the beginning, like Frederick the Great’s seizure of Silesia. Others (the Athenian invasion of Sicily, France’s rivalry with Britain 1688-1815, the Thirty Year’s War) are less so. Or maybe that’s hindsight.
    Or does your capitalization of Reason denote the philosophical concept? I enjoyed Logic but always thought philosopy was a waste of time.

  44. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Eric Dönges:
    The investors mentioned by you included pension funds [defined benefits] and a variety of retirement saving instruments.
    They will have to absorb some of these – as you say, paper -losses with the attendant reduction in purchasing power and standard of living of the retired people that they cover. The loss in some retirement instruments in US is close to 50% of face-value. These losses will severely limit consumption [including drugs, elective surgery, etc.] among the retired people.
    Some of the other investors were Venture Capitalists who used their money and invested [mostly for amusement]in High-Tech & Bio-Tech; creating he Silicon Valley etc. They are also going to be very very restricted in what they can fund. And these people were the real force behind much of US R&D.
    A third group of investors hurt very badly are charities and universities in the United States. Charities cannot fund at the levels that they used to. And the universities can neither do capital improvements to their facilities, hire more faculty, or help students with their educational costs to the extent they could even a year ago.
    You are correct that these assets constituted largely paper wealth but in industrialized countries financial assets (i.e. promissory notes) have constituted the predominant form of wealth for decades – even before WWII. These losses are quite painful in a real sense for many many people.

  45. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Men claim that there is a faculty of human mind called Reason. It is in that sense that I have used it.
    Your usage of the word rational, on the other hand, is that of the application of an algorithm [if one such exists] to reaching a stated goal. I think this may also be called cunning.
    But the goal itself will forever remain beyond the reach of either “reason” or “Reason”.

  46. curious says:

    I think there is such a thing as real economy – it produces bread, clothes, cars, and various sundry objects. It has men in hard hats digging ditches and fixing broken pipes and electrical conduits.
    Posted by: Babak Makkinejad | 04 March 2009 at 09:23 AM
    I don’t dispute that manufacturing or farming are the life and death of national economy. But the meaning of money (the amount of debt you quoted, is not entirely grounded on manufacturing alone. It is fiat. As world currency, dollar has slightly different behavior.)
    if the US economy were iceland or korea, or Belgium, it would have blown to pieces. With top 10 banks all collapsing. The export, import imbalance will also sunk the nation long time ago.
    It takes a long time and much more mismanagement to doom US economy. (tho’ I seriously doubt anybody wants to find out how much more.)

  47. different clue says:

    I was in upper elementary
    school, junior high school and senior high school while
    the Vietnam War was going on. The War looked unwinnable to the best of my
    adolescent knowledge at the time and all I really knew beyond that was that I did not want to get sent and I hoped they stopped the War before it was time for me to
    Based on what little I may have actually learned from everything I have read or heard or been told; I think the North Vietnamese would have never stopped fighting to take South Vietnam. So if winning meant getting the North to stop fighting and accept the
    long-term existence of South
    Vietnam as a separate country; I don’t see how we could have won that kind of surrender-of-ultimate-goal by the North. If we had used total unlimited violence (which we did not use) we could have destroyed the North into admitting long term defeat; but did we dare risk an outright war with the North’s Soviet and Red Chinese backers? At the time I think our leadership decided we dare not risk that. And the Soviet and Chinese backers were never going to stop their massive assistance to North Vietnam to secure a victory deemed crucial to the Soviet and Chinese backers. So we could delay that victory as long as we kept fighting and/or aiding South Vietnam,
    but were we going to keep fighting for years more? Or
    decades more? With North Vietnam and its Soviet/Chinese backers still fighting and/or supporting just as hard as ever? Far more people than just the left wing Democrats
    were tired of that. And the Congress (and the people
    it represented) had learned such distrust of the Executive Branch whomever the occupant, that they probably viewed a request for aid as a holding action to prepare the political ground for a return to active American combat engagement if the aid proved to be not enough for the South to stop the North with. Congress might have been wrong to distrust the Executive so totally, but that is how they felt. And to the best of my recollection today, I felt the same way too.
    Would staying and aiding, or staying and fighting, for 5 more years or 10 more years have altered the final outcome? Or merely delayed it anyway?
    (Though if we had stayed just longer enough to plan and assist an orderly withdrawal and resettlement-to-America of all our South Vietnamese friends, colleagues, and supporters who felt they would have no future or even safety in the
    eventual Communist Vietnam; that would have been fairer to them then the sudden departure by which we left).
    Does the memory of bitter
    treachery enhance or detract from the ability to dispassionately analyze all the events in America affecting the Anerican political and social side of
    the course of the conflict?
    (There is a school of thought that the time America spent fighting there
    was time given to the South East Asian dominoes to nail themselves to the table. So
    when the Communists took the
    South; the broader Communist
    movement found itself unable
    to advance beyond IndoChina into the rest of Southeast Asia. Lee Kwan Yew laid this view out in a speech he
    gave in 2006, which can be found here:,5692,
    I regret that my programming/computer combination doesn’t allow me
    to make that URL come up blue and clickable.)

  48. Eric Dönges says:

    but how much of these losses are directly linked to bad investments in financial services companies, as opposed to the collateral damage to companies that actually produce something of value ? My point is that if we told the financial wizards to go screw themselves, then perhaps the real economy would only take a moderate hit. 2009 would be a bad year, not a catastrophic one. Instead of pouring billions into the banks, maybe we should be using that money to keep the real economy afloat.

  49. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Eric Dönges:
    In 2006, 40% of US corporate profits came from the financial sector.
    A decision was made, back in 1950s, that US was going to be the banker of the world [a similar decision was made 60 years earlier in UK, leading to a de-industrialized UK}.
    This worked for a long time quite well- if you were in that sector but it deprived the rest of US economy from capital.
    In the meantime, US began selling her manufacturing jobs abroad to attract more capital and to grow the financial sector.
    This process has come to a screeching halt leaving millions of people with no livelihood all over the world.
    Whether 2009 will be a catastrophe or not depends on how the rules of capitalist economy are applied to these so-called toxic assets. In other words, how can US deal with 50 to 75 trillion dollars of bad assets within the rules of capitalist economy?
    There were studies of scenarios in 1980s about how to deal with US budget deficits. One way was sustaining 20% inflation for a number of years – less than a decade, if I recall correctly. Would that solution work now? Yes it will but it will take decades of 20% inflation in US to absorb 70 trillion dollars of bad assets.
    Alternatively, US can declare a default and let the rest of the world go screw itself.
    Or it can be added to the national debt and serviced – just like the debt of WWII or the Japanses debt accumulated during 1990s – as a budgetary item. But then that item may come to eat more and more of the US Federal budget, won’t it?
    Some one has to hold the bag. This someone will be the people of the world – there is no other way. But “Who is going to tell the people?”.

  50. curious says:

    A decision was made, back in 1950s, that US was going to be the banker of the world [a similar decision was made 60 years earlier in UK, leading to a de-industrialized UK}. Posted by: Babak Makkinejad | 05 March 2009 at 03:32 PM
    Yes. but that was the most practical outcome of WWII ruin. There are only one industrial and capital center left, the US. And Europe can only be revived by martial plan. But it turns out by 60’s dollar is not big enough to cover world economic growth, it was perpetual deflation. So somebody has to print the money. (follow the various global monetary agreements/accords/treaty.) They are not an overnight construction, but a long process mostly a reaction out of crisis or imbalances.
    UK collapse is not mainly because of competition from the US, but their imperial economic structure weren’t sustainable after WWII. An imperial doesn’t lost a huge chunk of colony without experiencing major disruption in industrial supply chain and capital movement.
    >In the meantime, US began selling her manufacturing jobs abroad to attract more capital and to grow the financial sector.>
    you can
    t create a super power economy by manufacturing alone. Who cares about garment industry, farming, or what not. They are boring and job for machines.
    I had this long discussion with a professor that lament about the demise of TV manufacturing industry. And I said, yeah but who cares about making tv set? Nobody is making money making television tubes. on top of that those tube is gong away. (this was before LCD and plasma mind you)
    and lo and behold, we are watching full collision between internet and TV. They say it would be interactive TV and all that BS. but the kids and new generation simply don’t watch TV anymore. They are glued to computer and smartphones. TV is dead.
    You were very annoyed when I said the possibility of high automation line for centrifuge assembly. Well, that’s the future of manufacturing. If I were the power that be I will kill current car companies and transfer the worker to post combustion vehicles.
    How fast do you think we will drop combustion engine car with full burn research? less than a decade!
    so that’s the biggest chunk of trade balance. Do you still want to talk about how important car manufacturing is to national economy?
    basic manufacturing on specific product will go the way analog phone, TV tube, newspaper, labor intensive farming, etc.. WHO CARES… by the time one is done training a division of workers to assemble something, the technology is already obsolete.
    National resource should be focused on maintaining high quality education, research centers, sensible policy, and well being of citizen. Not saving obsolete manufacturing lines or bailing out has been industry.
    do you really think the oil culture is sustainable? It is not. all those plastics have to be replaced with something more sustainable. All those combustion engines has to be replaced. It’s not a question of if. It’s a question of when.
    imagine the global balance of power with 60% of car running on hybrid and advance battery. Even Iran learn that high dependency on gasoline is national security liability.
    … etc. quit living in the 80’s already. gah… It’s the new millenium.

  51. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Thank you for your response.
    I will attempt to reply to some of your points.
    I had not considered the effect of monetary policy and dollar as world currency. It is, as you say, was an enabler for the vision to become the world’s banker. But, by extension, as the world’s banker you could make more money by lending money that by investing in dirty, real manufacturing. It was in the 1960 that US began de-industrialization – Studebaker board decided to leave automobile manufacturing, John Deere, which never fired workers, started firing them, etc.
    I agree that the immediate cause of UK’s financial collapse was WWII and later the decolonization. However, this does not detract from my thesis that they started deindustrialization 60 years earlier. As an example, consider chemical dies – first invented in England in late 19-th century but due to lack of interest by the ruling circles in England in anything industrial (capitalization) their further wealth-creating development took place in Germany – a hungry country.
    Again, there are reasons that people cannot make money in manufacturing – one of them is lack of cheap capital. Free market does not entirely decide the price of capital – states have a lot of influence on it. And you would have cared about manufacturing if your livelihood were dependent on it.
    But since you do not care about agriculture or manufacturing, pray tell me, how are you going to make money? What service are you going to provide, what goods are you going to supply, to a market that could sustain your standard of living? For all the gadgets that you have enumerated – smart-phones, Plasma TVs, computers are produced outside of the United States.
    You stated “You were very annoyed…”. Not at all. I just thought you live in a fantasy world. I suggest you walk into a manufacturing plant and see for yourself how things are built.
    American agriculture, with 2% of labor force, is feeding the United States and consistently produces extra food. It does so by being the highest consumer of high-technology in the world [yes, even more that DoD boys and their toys] This is what manufacturing has to be to survive in the United States. However, in order for that to occur capital must be directed to it at reasonable rates – rates that were not available until the implosion of US financial sector.
    You wrote: “National resource should be focused on maintaining high quality education, research centers, sensible policy, and well being of citizen”. This statement is so pregnant with utopianism that I do not know where to start to rebut it. But, for the start, Americans are not poorly educated. There are more highly educated people that there is commensurate work for them. And not everyone can do research – they lack aptitude, interest, patience, and disposition. And what is sensible policy? A policy that condemns manufacturing and industrial activity to death will need to be able to create the sort of employment for people of average cognitive skills.
    Yes, I do believe that the hydrocarbon culture is sustainable for foreseeable future. I would like to point out that there is a lot of natural gas in the world that has not been tapped. In fact, there are multiple gas fields in the Mobile Bay each of which could power the United States for 300 years.
    And please spare me your hybrid car tripe – all people are doing with hybrids is to push the energy consumption to the more inefficient upstream systems that use mostly coal.

  52. Eric Dönges says:

    In 2006, 40% of US corporate profits came from the financial sector.
    Which is completely insane. After all, the financial sector does not produce any wealth itself; it is an enabler for others that produce things of real value.
    Alternatively, US can declare a default and let the rest of the world go screw itself.
    Actually, if what you say is true (and I have no reason to doubt it), the U.S. would screw itself if it decided to default. After all, most of the real stuff is created overseas.
    There are more highly educated people that there is commensurate work for them.
    This is wrong, at least in engineering. There are simply not enough good engineers to go around. The growing problem we are facing is that the cognitive skills of the average human is not keeping pace with the demands of technology. Since I don’t see us slowing down technological advancement for a number of reasons, this leaves us with an increasing number of superfluous people. What do we do with them ? Put them on welfare, give them make-work jobs, or kill them off ? Attempt to breed more intelligence into ourselves ? Human nature being what it is, I’m afraid this is going to end very badly.
    And please spare me your hybrid car tripe – all people are doing with hybrids is to push the energy consumption to the more inefficient upstream systems that use mostly coal.
    Actually, large-scale power plants are a lot more efficient than internal combustion engines, even when you factor in transmission losses incurred when transporting the generated electricity, so I don’t think this is a valid argument against hybrids or fully electric vehicles. Where they currently fail is in battery technology, which is still far behind what it would need to be to be able to compete with hydrocarbons in energy density. Unlike curious, I’m skeptical we’ll be able to develop and widely deploy an alternative to the combustion engine in the next decade, so I hope you’re right that the hydrocarbon society is sustainable into the medium-term future.

  53. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Eric Dönges:
    This study purports to show that US colleges are producing more graduates in sciences and mathematics than there are jobs for them.
    In regards to large power plants – how are you going to power them except by burning fossil fuel?

  54. I would argue that Iraq ending has yet to be written. Oddly enough I would say the same for Viet Nam. Let’s see how both look another 100 years down the road. Sometimes enemies of the US are changed depending on the performance of our soldiers, sailors and airmen/women and their basic integrity as armed forces and as human beings. Just finished two histories of the Korean War an certainly China and S. Korea were changed forever by US participation and force of arms. Perhaps even N.Korea eventually. Of course the real problem with the organized violence that is warfare is that those fighting and others (collateral damage) get killed very dead and injured in the short run. I think East Asia is not likely to see war this century. The same cannot be said for S.Asia and Southwest Asia or Sub-Saharan Africa. In those areans the seers that suggest resource wars will govern the future may be right. My guess is that the class of civilizations is even now evolving towards an unknown less violent future, but could be wrong. Personally, I believe the critical countries of Iran and China are the least likely to take on the Western Powers this century. Only smart and determined people in those countries survive to the top in essentially court politics, designed centuries ago.

  55. Eric Dönges says:

    This study purports to show that US colleges are producing more graduates in sciences and mathematics than there are jobs for them.
    My point was that we don’t have enough good engineers, not that we don’t have enough people calling themselves engineers. Just because somebody graduated does not mean that they are any good. My current job was open for over a year because the company couldn’t find anyone qualified to do it (granted, this was at the end of 2007, when times where good). Note that I’m merely competent, not exceptional, so it’s not like there are only 10 people on earth who would have fit the bill.
    In regards to large power plants – how are you going to power them except by burning fossil fuel?
    In the medium term, I think nuclear fission is the way to go, augmented with wind, water, tidal and solar power (where applicable). Long term, I think we should be able to get nuclear fusion working. The point here is that just because there is no short-term replacement for fossil fuels does not mean we shouldn’t be developing alternatives now.

  56. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Eric Dönges:
    Now your are qualifying your claim by the adjective “good”. That your company has not find any one “qualified” means only that your company is looking for someone with a very narrow set of skills and an acceptable (to the management) salary requirements. And then there is the general unwillingness – specially in the IT-realted fields – to train people.
    There is no shortage in my opinion – if there were salaries for engineers would have surpassed those of MBAs long time ago.
    In regards to Wind enegry – evey turbine creates 3 jobs abroad and 1 in US. And then the energy cost is just not there compared to coal. But if you want to subsidize job creation outside of US – be my guest.
    Nuclear fusion is another white elephant of physics – just like the Unified Field Theory. There is a powerful fusion lobby and they get funded playing with their toys.
    Even if these (mostly ) Plasma physicist can create a sustaible fusion reaction – say hours – a nuclear fusion plant can never ever be built. The reason is that the radiation damage from fast particles will damage the containment vessel so rapdily that evey few months you have to shutdown the power plant to replace the walls of the containment vessel. No utility can operate on that type of maintenance schedule.
    Warp drive is more probable than Fusion power stations.

  57. Eric Dönges says:

    Now your are qualifying your claim by the adjective “good”.
    Actually, that was my initial claim.
    That your company has not find any one “qualified” means only that your company is looking for someone with a very narrow set of skills and an acceptable (to the management) salary requirements.
    You may consider programming embedded computer systems a “very narrow set of skills”, but it’s a very important set of skills for a growing number of industries, and there are not enough people who are good at it.
    In regards to Wind enegry – evey turbine creates 3 jobs abroad and 1 in US. And then the energy cost is just not there compared to coal.
    Why would a turbine erected in the U.S. create three jobs abroad ? Are Americans too stupid to build their own wind turbines ? And why should I care, not being an American ? And why do you assume that just because wind energy is not really competitive right now, this will always be the case in the future ?
    Even if these (mostly ) Plasma physicist can create a sustaible fusion reaction – say hours – a nuclear fusion plant can never ever be built.
    How would you know what will be technically possible in 50 or 100 years ?
    So, what is your suggestion ? Go on our merry way and hope that some deus ex machina will save us once fossil fuels run out ?

  58. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Eric Dönges:
    I stand by what I said in regards to engineering – who makes more money in a technical company, the embedded programmer who knows several assembly languages, knows how to do FPGA programming, is proficient with Simulink or the MBA type who only knows how to use MS Excel in the most primitive way?
    In US, at any rate, it is the marketing guys who set the agenda and make the most money.
    In regards to the wind turbines creating more jobs outside of US, I do not know the specific mechanism in this case.
    Since you are not living in US, it would not make any difference to you if jobs are created in US. But for many people in US that does matter. If you live in EU and the jobs are created in India perhaps you would find my observations more sympathetic.
    Turbines are not cost competitive right now. Nor are solar cells. Solar cells, for example, will become competitive once they become as cheap as concrete.
    I do not have a religious faith in the creative powers of humankind like you and many others. I know the physical characteristics of a durable containment vessel and it requires materials with several orders of magnitude better than we currently can even dream of making.
    For 50 years the fusion racket has been telling gullible politicians and the public that a sustainable fusion reaction is only a matter of another decade of work. It is always 10 years out. At some point you have to evaluate the evidence dispassionately and conclude that you have been lied to.
    I think the most promising approach to indefinite energy production on this planet is the breeder reactor technology since it can consume U238 (easily available for millions of years from the oceans) and create nuclear fuel.

  59. Eric Dönges says:

    In US, at any rate, it is the marketing guys who set the agenda and make the most money.
    I agree, and it’s not only in the U.S. However, this has nothing to do with wether there is a shortage of engineers or not – despite what free market true believers would have us believe, the labor market (like most other markets) is not solely based on supply and demand.
    If you live in EU and the jobs are created in India perhaps you would find my observations more sympathetic.
    Well, in my view one job created in the EU and three in India is preferable to no jobs created anywhere, or even just one job created in the EU.
    Turbines are not cost competitive right now. Nor are solar cells. Solar cells, for example, will become competitive once they become as cheap as concrete.
    Again, my point is that they will be competitive in the not-so far future, if for no other reason than that burning fossil fuels will be to expensive (either because of supply issues or environmental concerns). As an example, just a decade or so ago solar cells required more energy to produce than they generated in their entire lifetime. This is no longer the case.
    I do not have a religious faith in the creative powers of humankind like you and many others. I know the physical characteristics of a durable containment vessel and it requires materials with several orders of magnitude better than we currently can even dream of making.
    Fair enough. It’s an occupational hazard – you can’t be an engineer if you don’t believe in technological progress. When you consider that many of the technologies we take for granted today where not dreamed of 100 years ago, I think my faith is not entirely misplaced.
    I think the most promising approach to indefinite energy production on this planet is the breeder reactor technology since it can consume U238 (easily available for millions of years from the oceans) and create nuclear fuel.
    I agree (at least for the short and medium term future). However, I think there will have to be serious world-wide power shortages before this is possible politically.

  60. DE Teodoru says:

    Barisj, Nixon seized victory from the jaws of defeat. He had to both prove to China that we were not interested in a permanent base under China’s soft underbelly (you will recall that Khrushchev desperately wanted US draw into SE Asia to frighten Chinese into removing Mao, replacing him with Liu Shaochi, and run back to USSR for protection against Americans. In the meantime he gave a green light to Ho to move South then West right up to border of ally India for full encirclement of China. Soviets had asked pres-elect Nixon if they could do a “tonsillectomy” on China’s nuclear sites and he declared any attack on China as an attack on US. Then as Pres, he went to China and offered US protection of its North against Soviet attack in return for China stopping DRV march west. To prove he didn’t want permanent bases, Kissinger carried the message that Cambodia is for you to handle and pulled out of SVN. He thus got Chinese boys to do what Congress would no longer allow American boys to do. Considering that in 1958 NSA meetings Ike said that protecting Thailand is ONLY reason for our presence in Indochina, one might say that Nixon did just that: saved Thailand from DRV invasion. JFK totally plopped at that and capitulated in 1962, thinking he could cut off Hanoi at Saigon. By the time LBJ sent in US troops, the issue was not VC but PAVN regulars trying to decimate ARVN before US had a chance to come in. Old Westy, per Hanoi, achieved the elusive “cross-over point” by causing PAVN to lose more men and supplies in Central Highlands that it could replenish. Hanoi then realized its only hope was Paris. But since SVN went from 85% rural in 1963 to 75% urban by 1967, Hanoi had to attack the cities. It got creamed and VC never reappeared as South Vietnamese PHOENIX wiped out rural VCI so well that in April 1975 ARVN Command proposed moving to Mekong Delta where it could hold out permanently. Duong Van Minh replaced Thieu and Chinese asked him to hold off surrender for 48 hrs while they stop PAVN advance at Dalat. He chickened out and the war was lost. But Chinese in 1979 were as good as their word to Nixon and stopped westward ho of Ho’s replacement Soviet-citizen Le Duan. All in all, all the leftie stuff about “we lost and nothing bad happened” is testament to Nixon9 Not Kissinger who was duplicitous freak and had to be threatened with replacement). All this is now available in Hanoi archives. Here’s a taste of stuff to come (besides the book I hope to write when I can bring my fascination with molecular medicine under control and abandon my obsessive studies of Islamic Jihad):
    Work in Progress: “The Vietnam-Soviet Union-China Triangle Relations during the Vietnam War (1964-1973) from Vietnamese Sources” with Pham Quang Minh
    February 20, 2009 : 12:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.
    Event Summary
    On February 20, 2009 Dr. Pham Quang Minh, the dean of the Department of International Studies at Vietnam National University in Hanoi, discussed the evolution of the triangular relationships between Vietnam, the USSR, and China from the Geneva Accords in 1954 through the end of the Vietnam War in 1973. Following his presentation, Bernd Schaefer, senior scholar at the Cold War International History Project and former research fellow at the German Historical Institute, commented on the triangular relationship and its meaning for Vietnam.
    Making use of secondary literature as well as access to Vietnamese archival sources, Minh discussed how the Soviet Union and the People’s Republic of China used the Vietnam War as a strategic tool to maintain and expand their power and influence. The Soviets believed involvement in Vietnam would assert their position of leadership in the communist movement, project their power as mightier than that of China, and help Vietnam in its communist experiment. Yet the Soviets did not want actions towards Vietnam to come at the expense of the process of détente. Chinese relations with Vietnam were motivated by a desire to weaken the USSR and the United States, prevent the expansion of Soviet-American rapprochement, and avoid a larger war.
    From 1954-1956, Minh argued, the Soviets and the Chinese shared objectives in Vietnam. They played an important role in reaching a settlement in the First Indochina War and they aided in the construction of Vietnamese socialism. After Khrushchev denounced Stalin in 1956, Chinese priorities diverged from those of the Soviets. Vietnam continued to receive aid from both countries, but felt increasingly pressured to choose a side. In 1963, under pressure from the Chinese leadership, Vietnam criticized the Soviet Union and Soviet “modern revisionism.” In response, the USSR threatened to change the Vietnamese leadership and to cut off assistance, Minh suggested citing Vietnamese sources. When Brezhnev replaced Khrushchev in 1964, relations between North Vietnam and the USSR became friendly again and assistance continued—this time with less involvement in the internal affairs of Vietnam.
    Yet even as Soviet-DRV relations improved, China-Soviet relations continued to influence the level of aid in Vietnam. Minh suggested that animosity between the two communist superpowers affected their cooperation on Vietnamese matters throughout the 1960s. Beijing strongly disproved of the Soviet suggestion that Hanoi reach a negotiated settlement with the US on the war. For its part, Moscow distrusted the close relationship between the DRV and the PRC leaderships. Ultimately, however, both countries knew it was in their interest for the DRV to come out victorious, and continued to provide assistance to Hanoi.
    Nixon’s 1972 visits to Beijing and Moscow were viewed in Hanoi as a betrayal, Minh argued. The Vietnamese leadership had pushed hard to make sure that both its allies would snub the Americans until a settlement was reached, Vietnamese archival sources show, but to no avail.
    Bernd Schaefer commented on the frequency of Vietnamese challenges to Moscow and Beijing. He argued that post-Khrushchev, Vietnam was able to take advantage of the disharmony between the USSR and China to obtain more assistance as each superpower wanted to increase its influence with the other communist countries. The Sino-Soviet split Schaefer argued, allowed Vietnam to not only receive higher levels of assistance, but have more freedom in determining how it was used.
    Drafted by Melissa Smith and Mircea Munteanu
    Christian Ostermann, Director, HAPP/WES

  61. DE Teodoru says:

    The Dems had an obsession, the old saying about Ike and Korea: DEMS START WARS AND REPS FINISH THEM. In 1967 Nixon made clear that Vietnam made action on Mideast in 1967 impossible and never again would he as president allow Vietnam to cripple the US elsewhere. So his plan– HE *DID* HAVE A PLAN– was to protect China’s NORTH in return for China blocking North Vietnam’s march West to India as a Soviet proxy. To prove that the US had no intent to put permanent bases under China’s soft underbelly, he pulled out of Vietnam. When Hanoi did attack, the Dems were so worried that after the 1972 Offensive Saigon might survive and reinforce that old saying that they cut off Saigon from bullets to gas to medical supplies. But when Saigon collapsed, the Chinese stuck to the deal and asked Thieu’s replacement as President, Big Minh, to hold out surrender for 48 hrs while Chinese stop Hanoi’s march at Dalat. Minh had this Diemist thing about “entre nous vietnameins” and refused. But when Hanoi moved West after consolidating the South, China attacked, again keeping its word and saving Thailand. To understand what this meant we must read NSA transcripts from 1958 when Ike insisted that we take a forced stance in Laos because if Laos goes Thailand is gone; so while Ike didn’t see intrinsic value in Indochina, he wanted to hold it as the “cork in the bottle” that stop’s Hanoi’s march West over SE Asia. Weeeeell, it looks like the then VP, in 1970s president, Tricky-Dick Nixon snatched victory from the jaws of defeat as he worked out a deal with China and crevassed a massive irreparable cut between Soviets and Chicoms that made Reagan’s Cold War victory possible. Responding to the Soviet offer of a “tonsillectomy” on the Chinese, attacking their nuclear facilities, Nixon as pre-elect warned that any attack on China is an attack on US. He thus snatched Vietnam victory (saving Thailand) from jaws of defeat. But Obama is a bit of an ass and doesn’t read history. Petraeus (reading his PhD thesis) and McChrystal must be cognitively illiterate out of careerist ambition and know no history. West Point class of 76 is made up of generals that should have been limited to sergeant because West Point was hard-up for students. We are paying now for the inability of the Pentagon to learn from Vietnam. I recall a general on loan to the Bush White house warning me in 2003 that if I want meaningful dialogue with him on Iraq I better never bring up that “looooser’s war, Vietnam.” The dumb always get the stars because they are so good at fetching the ball for their masters. But what do you do when the stars got their heads?
    Please read below and contemplate the analogy:

  62. turcopolier says:

    Sent wirelessly via BlackBerry from T-Mobile.

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