Sunday, April 10, 2011

Midrats: Rumsfeld and West.

Good interviews both.

Rummy: the war against Islamism is a very broad project, involving ideological and economic components, and a very unconventional foe. There may be a power and intelligence asymmetry, in our favor, but there is a sort of moral asymmetry, that favors them. They do not restrict themselves in the ways we do (and should continue to do). And speaking of terrorism, this is not a war on a tactic, that label was a mistake, done to avoid offense.

Also: State department tends to think of itself as independent, not a tool of the President's foreign policy. Petraeus to CIA? Bad idea.

West: Afghanistan is not going well. We cannot nation build in the country. We are fooling ourselves if we think we can. We cannot expect 20 year old American soldiers to carry out such a complex project. the country is far too ossified in its tribal 9th century ways to be brought into the 21st century by a bunch of young guys from the Christian west. As things stand Pashtuns will not turn on their fellow Pashtun Taliban. Also, he sees no signs of them stepping up and helping themselves. But, the only road to success is to force them to do just that. No longer give away money, but tie it to actual performance of ANA units, and local governmental/tribal leaders. Distribute "walking around money" locally, via local U.S. platoons headed by special forces guys AND most decidedly NOT via Karzai's government. Tie it strictly to performance. And, all the while, don't think you'll be able to change the Hatfields and McCoys nature of the country. Feudin' and a Fightin' is in the country's DNA, and we can live with that as long as they keep it inside. The "freedom agenda" was misguided.

This from a guy in his 70s that has travelled to the country and embedded 5 times recently. Not easily dismissed.

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Astronomy pic o' the day: Sun closeup in ultraviolet




Click for larger version. Info:

Shown in ultraviolet light, the relatively cool dark regions have temperatures of thousands of degrees Celsius. Large sunspot group AR 9169 from the last solar cycle is visible as the bright area near the horizon. The bright glowing gas flowing around the sunspots has a temperature of over one million degrees Celsius. The reason for the high temperatures is unknown but thought to be related to the rapidly changing magnetic field loops that channel solar plasma. Large sunspot group AR 9169 moved across the Sun during 2000 September and decayed in a few weeks.