Links 4/11/09

Ice loss sparks new climate change fears Financial Times

Death By the Numbers: Pakistan Counts the Toll of the Bush-Obama Drone War Chris Floyd (hat tip reader Warren)

Scrappy Mortgage Blogger Fights Bad Court Ruling Columbia Journalism Review (hat tip reader Barbara)

We Have A Right To Rant Susan Lee, Forbes

Uptick in Vasectomies Seen as Sign of Recession New York Times

‘Lipstick index’ smeared by recession Financial Times

Olympic 2012 village seeks £225m bailout from European Investment Bank Guardian

Volcker Assumes Smaller-Than-Expected Role With Obama Wall Street Journal. The marginalization of Volcker, noted here, is now official.

Goldman Sachs hires law firm to shut blogger’s site Telegraph

EXCLUSIVE: Dylan Ratigan Reveals Why He Left CNBC Clusterstock

Big changes, but not much adjustment: China’s March trade data Brad Setser, This is not good news. Despite the supposed stimulus, China is running big trade surpluses while those of pretty much every other exporter is collapsing.

The Decade of Darkness Mike Whitney, Counterpunch (hat tip reader Doug)

A Letter to the FDIC on the Public Private Partnership FDIC (hat tip reader Buzz). Black humor.

Who’s manning the TARP desk? Real Time Investigations (hat tip reader David H)

Self-Haters Donate More Robin Hanson, Overcoming Bias

Why We’re Not at the Beginning of the End, and Probably Not Even At the End of the Beginning Robert Reich

The Incredibly Shrinking Market Liquidity, Or The Upcoming Black Swan Of Black Swans Tyler Durden (hat tip reader Dwight). Today’s must read (this will cheer up alex black).

Antidote du jour (courtesy BBC, so this is not Photoshopped):

A ribbon seal (Histriophoca fasciata) on a slab of Arctic ice. The Center for Biological Diversity and Greenpeace plan to sue the US government for not making the ribbon seal an endangered species. It depends on springtime sea ice, and projections show its range halving within a few decades.

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  1. gordon

    Quoting a Pakistani paper, the Empire Burlesque says: “Of the 60 cross-border predator strikes carried out by the Afghanistan-based American drones in Pakistan between January 14, 2006 and April 8, 2009, only 10 were able to hit their actual targets, killing 14 wanted al-Qaeda leaders, besides perishing 687 innocent Pakistani civilians. The success percentage of the US predator strikes thus comes to not more than six per cent…”

    I suppose the strategy is to turn Pakistan into the next Iraq.

  2. Richard Kline

    *sigh* Oh, yes. America’s Chickenshit Offensive in Pashtunistan goes on. Real credit to a faux ‘hyperpower,’ right. Blowing up women and kids from the air. They will never, _never_ kill enough actual insurgents to make the smallest dent in any organization, offensive, or intent by this method; indeed, they will recruit replacements for those thus killed at a ratio one could conservatively place as 10:1. The use of these drones is an open admission of strategic ineffectiveness, but because it has no costs _in the US_ (yet), it chews and swallows as desirable and even tasty. Cowards’ war, in a word. Perfect for Bo Prez which is just why it’s escalating now. . . . Useless. No, worse than useless.

    Pakistan has been my greatest worry for ten years. The state is failed there. Not the people—many of them charming, enterprising, and worth knowing—but the state. Things will get far worse there before they get better, regardless of what the US does. We can only make things worse faster, which by any reasonable analysis is and will be exactly what we are doing. Is the American public ready for when we surge 100k troops _into Pakistan_? Because there is, to me, a very significant likelihood that we will do exactly that. I wouldn’t predict a year, but given our ‘line in the sand’ policies, a state collapse there will bring an automatic attempt at occupation by the US. Think about it. Particularly given that the occupation of Iraq is now viewed in all areas of the US that count as a success. I didn’t put that in hesitation quotes because it is seen this way without qualification here. By the serving military. By the media. By both political parties. And back a backwash plurality of the American public. The public soured on the Iraq occupation in 06 because it looked like we were losing. As of 09 it looks like we’re winning. Thus, ‘success.’ Thus the Next One. A ‘friendly occupation’ in many respects won’t even need Congressional action except to approve it after the fact. Think Obama is going to be the Man who Lost Pakistan going into 2012? I don’t.

    If y’all liked Iraq, you’ll LOOOVVVVE Pakistan; if not, much not. In case you’re keeping a scorecard, every drone dropped increases the likelihood of state collapse in Pakistan and hence ultimate US occupation there. That is my view. And from that perspective, if someone, someany would just ship about 20k shoulderfired antiaircraft missels to Pashtunistan we in the US could be saved from ourselves. Really. I mean that, really.

  3. Richard Kline

    Tyler, buddy, that’s a wow, just a WoW! The kind of sleuthing and think-it-through my eyes die for. Too many choice morsels even to quote, ’cause context is king. The skinny for short-timers: “Pump and jump.” It hasn’t been just the bristle-hairs on the back o’ my neck and all natural suspicion which has conditioned me to think that a few Wide Boys move Mr. Market’s hand invisibly, nor even that there are enough Joe Stupids in the world to bull into this kind of suckers’ rally on their own folly only. So then, we appear primed for a Quantum Leap in the Dark, as the market-greasers hit their make-good numbers and lever themselves out while the marks are packed close like sardines in a pursesein ready for the whip-around. Kind of like the marketmakers leap first with a rope around their neck, then magickally pixel themselves out of the way with the rope cinching on everybody else’s collective neck.

    . . . Maybe that will keep us from the Af-Pak Gambit Bo Prez is backing us asswards into.

  4. fresno dan

    “Cheap money, you may remember, got us into this mess. “
    The Apocalypse – I agree with Robert Reich…hmmm…let’s make that Robert Reich agrees with Fresno Dan

  5. Anonymous

    Agree Richard.K.

    Nightmare stuff, hot sweats and soft crys for mommy.

    Loved this comment after the post…

    gamingthemarket said…

    thanks to your work we know there is $1,400T sitting in interest rate swaps, mostly split between N. America ($775T) and Europe ($555T). This OTC market dwarfs the cash equities market. I can’t find a global market figure, but NYSE Euronext is $31T. So the regulated stock market is roughly 2% of the size of the unregulated derivatives market–as of last year.


  6. Anonymous

    Ditto, Richard K.

    On your observations with Paki/Afghan conundrum. They make the Iraq war look like a under 11 rugby match to provisional match.

    Hell they don’t need weapons in northern Afghanistan, they could kill, just by raining boulders down on the narrow trails you have to use to get to them.

    Biggest rabbit warren battle field in history, look at all those that have lost their asses trying for the last 2,000 years. They really don’t even have to shoot at the troops just pick off high end assets (tanks and aircraft) long enough to blow the budget on the war, to massive budget loss aka Russia’s problem.

    Yes they have ground to air capability’s boys and girls, just saving them for a rainy day, plus if they do have a change of Gov in Pakistan they will have their innovatory of anti tank and ground to air weapons just skyrocket (no pun), See you just hide in the rocky crags and then boom 70k ground to air, just cost the US 200m or more plus pilot costs $$$$.

    I estimate 250 thousand total troop deployment to even think of getting the job done in a 5 year window. On top of that add in the rebuliding program to stabalilse the country properly to transition to Iraq functional standards, say 200B.

    Skippy…I removed land minds in Afganistan and all I got was a hangover and a T-shirt lol.

  7. Gentlemutt

    Can anyone explain this huge same-day reportorial discrepancy?

    April 11th WSJ (Andrew Batson) and NY Times (Bettina Wasener) report that Chinese exports officially dropped 17% year-on-year.

    April 11th NY Times (Floyd Norris) reports that Chinese exports dropped 41% year-on-year.

  8. endgame

    … we shall fashion these planes
    and control them far afield. See,
    no blood on my hands. Cowards all.

    So is GS now counterparty to the
    First Amendment?

  9. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    The key to pacify Afganistan, in my humble opinion, is that you have to marry their women, as Iskander once did with the Sogdian princess, Roxanne.

    I don’t know how they looked; the Sogdians, apart from being very good merchants, were good acrobats apparently, for their woman dancers were famous in Tang China and frequently performed at the capital Chang An, dancing on top of rolling balls in green pantaloons and crimson robes.

    So, even if they are ugly as wives, at least they will keep you entertained.

  10. Tyler

    Richard, I did not go into full detail on what else I gleaned from talking to all the quant guys as it would easily go into lawsuit territory with some very big names. Long story short, everyone who trades the big money on wall street 9and has insight into that market) has retreated and is waiting for the big wave. when the professional speculators are just sitting and watching the slaughter, you know things are about to get rough.

  11. donebenson

    If we find what is printed in American newspapers to be questionable, doesn’t anyone think what is printed in a Pakistani newspaper to be any more accurate? [Especially since those reporters who have access to Taliban controlled areas are very likely to have a Taliban bias].

    While I don’t mean to dismiss the tragedy of many civilian deaths, I find the ratio of 94% to be not believable.

  12. Dave Raithel

    Ok, I bit my tongue re the Stanovich essay conflating substantive and technical rationality; I bit my tonque re Socialism on the Rise (101 comments are enough), but I cannot ignore the Hanson link referencing “Psychological Science”: “We suggest that affirming a moral identity leads people to feel licensed to act immorally.” Yes, and water is wet and people need air. And no, the question is not “when is it good to make people feel bad about themselves so that they will be good to others?” The question is “What is the right way to make people feel bad about themselves should they fail to be good to others?”

    I do not intend snark. I genuinely express my exasperation that we must continuously rediscover the wheel.

  13. brushes9

    Behaving immorally harms others, but if I have no neural ability to empathize with my victim, I feel that nothing happened.

    Self-hatred (or, guilt), is the meaning of the pain I cause others, perceived through my empathic abilities.

    So, concluding that empathic-compassionate people donate more strikes me as obvious.

    Hanson seems behind the times, given the field of Social Neuroscience.

    Further, it has been proven that the neural basis for empathy can be “grown” via practice and neurogenesis.

    On the other side of the world:

    “Greece on the Verge of Bankruptcy”
    to read along with Tyler’s piece.. for effect.

  14. Anonymous

    “”While I don’t mean to dismiss the tragedy of many civilian deaths, I find the ratio of 94% to be not believable.””

    Does it matter one tiny jot? Missiles and bombs are delivered and detonated into yet another foreign country that has oil. Civilians die, politicians lie. Except for maybe Cheney that one time he promised war for a hundred years…

  15. Anonymous

    Thank you for highlighting the drone attacks in Pakistan. I have was just there and I can tell you it is having an extremely negative effect on the country. There are plenty of Pakistanis aware of the terrorist problems in their country but no-one supports these ridiculous attacks which are not accomplishing anything other than enraging the tribal populations on the border, killing innocent people and leading to a spillover of border violence into the cities in the form of terrorism (and they as always seem to be killing a lot of AlQaida No 3s). I wonder if anyone in the administration has ever taken a psychology class. Just how do they think this is not going to have an effect beyond the actual blast?

    The admin is making the classic Bush mistake which is to believe that if you are not getting the desired results its because you are not being aggressive enough…therefore bomb some more. It doesn’t even occur to them that maybe the source of the problem is them being too aggressive?

    As to the comment about any journalist with access to the region likely has Taliban sympathies – you might as well have written who are you going to believe, me or your lying eyes? Pakistani journalists have done a much better job than the western media covering these events. Those interested can read the newspapers – Dawn, The Daily Times, The News – all fairly reliable publications or the reporting of Ahmed Rashid, Hamid Mir.

    Thanks again for highlighting this issue.


  16. brushes9


    “Neoconservatism: The Return
    A new incarnation, a new name – and the same old warmongering”

    “As David Weigel put it, the FPI conference turned into a “Neocons for Obama” festival, as super-hawkish foreign policy maven Fred Kagan hailed President Obama’s Af-Pak offensive as the best thing since the Iraqi “surge”: “He’s definitely saying no to pulling back. It was a gutsy and correct decision.””

    Don’t forget Fred’s brother, Robert Kagan, of PNAC. He is happy, too:

    “Obama’s Gutsy Decision on Afghanistan” by Robert Kagan

    “The president today should probably have approved General David McKiernan’s request for additional troops next year, rather than waiting a few months to make that decision. But if he sticks to his present course, he will make the right call then, too.”

    Robert! You are smiling!

    Wow. The “word verification” for my comment is “deathed.” Thanks.

  17. Anonymous

    “While I don’t mean to dismiss the tragedy of many civilian deaths, I find the ratio of 94% to be not believable.”

    Doesn’t seem all that unbelievable, considering that 99.9999% of the population are non-“al Qaeda” civilians. It’s not like we’re talking about soldiers in a firefight mistakenly hitting civilians…not quite comparable to flattening a building, selected as a target based on possibly unreliable intelligence, with hundreds of pounds of explosives, from an aircraft remotely controlled from a hundred or more miles away, in the hopes of killing 1 or 2 targets who are likely not the only people inside.

  18. CTMM

    Can we get more background on Tyler’s piece?

    “The Incredibly Shrinking Market Liquidity, Or The Upcoming Black Swan Of Black Swans Tyler Durden”

    I’d never heard of the quant market before, don’t quite know how it interacts with the equities market, and not sure where to start looking. I do know that sigma-6 anything is worth looking twice at…

  19. lineup32

    The drone attacks in Pakistan reminds one of our attacks on Cambodia during the Vietnam War and all under the same twisted logic which generated a very unstable Cambodia and we all know how that situation ended.
    Its odd but the only rational way of understanding the drone attacks is that the U.S. wants to destabilize Pakistan similar to what they did in Cambodia. I know its a strange thought but the events in Pakistan seem to reflect the tension this is creating.

  20. alex black


    Why thank you! How very thoughtful of you to try to cheer me up!

    Excellent link – one more rock to place on my scale to try to figure out which way this sucka is gonna turn. My main indicator is still my “Secretary Contrarian Indicator”. I have all of my friends talk with the secretaries at work about their investment strategies – in 2006 they were all trying to buy houses to flip, and TIVO’ing home improvement shows – pretty easy to see where that would end up. Some pulled money out of stock mutual funds as the Dow was sinking last year, but they’re all piling back in now, realizing that the stock market ALWAYS recovers and sets new highs, and now it’s on sale! I’m content to just take the other side of their trades and not look much deeper for guidance.

    Tyler Durden is certainly an interesting and enigmatic character. In my fevered imagination, he is, in reality, Henry Paulson, who, upon watching Fight Club discoverd the cathartic joy of punching himself silly, and during one of his concussions realized that just in case there IS a hell, he should hedge himself, and start blogging the truth under his new nom de plume, resulting in brief moments of rapturous atonement. And then it’s back to work, until the guilt again begins to overwhelm…..

    Hope your book is coming along well.

  21. Anonymous

    @Alex Black,

    Your…”Secretary Contrarian Indicator”…

    I’ll hedge that with my G-guys, that style the big dog wifes and Mistresses hair private boutique goss and the well heeled butchers shop feed back loop.

    skippy…ain’t life grand, better intel on the ground than in the air.

  22. B. Mull

    You have to be careful with contrarian indicators now that the government’s implicitly backing the Dow. I can foresee a situation in which the Dow is at 16,000 and we’re all in loincloths.

  23. Anonymous

    The predator drones, although very deadly killing machines, are primarily weapons of terror inducement. And yes, they are meant to destabilize Pakistan. It is not just about the oil. Terror and fear inducement are also integral components of the the Full Spectrum Dominance goal. It has been reported that a million Pakistanis have already fled the targeted areas. It is shock and awe in a new suit. Think about what you would do if the house down the street suddenly, without any warning what so ever, exploded in a huge ball of fire and shrapnel and killed a dozen of your friends and neighbors and your children. You can not see the drones from the ground but they can observe your every visible from the air move. There is no scam ‘rule of law’ involved. No indictments. No charges. No civil liberties. No bail set. No pleading of innocence. Obama’s stooges, the ‘bottom guns’, safe in their little trailers located on scamerican soil, act as judges, jury and executioners. Do you think ‘change you can believe in’ puppet Boobama knows this? You bet your ass he does!

    What most scamericans do not realize is that the predator drones are now operational on the Mexican/scamerican and Canadian/scamerican borders. Oh yes, under the supreme guise of providing public safety and stopping drug trafficking, the main drug king pin terrorist in the White House, Boobama, head of the scamerican alcohol and tobacco cartel — that is responsible for killing over 500,000 scamericans a year (making 9/11 look like a day with Mr. Rogers) — is busy wiping out competitive drug products and feeding the prison lobby at the same time. Errrr … what was that about free markets?

    The drones are also meant to send a message of fear and anxiety inducement to the scamerican domestic population and will ultimately be miniaturized and given to local police departments (read low brow, goon, gangster muscle). Just as these gangster cops regularly and recklessly engage in high speed chases after 7/11 twinky and beer bandits — who have violated the sanctity of private property (read stolen property) — and kill innocent bystanders in the process, they will have no qualms about blowing up a ‘suspects’ (again no trial, jury or judge) car in front of you. Collateral damage – google it and get used to it!

    So the next time you are enjoying the privacy of your nicely fenced back yard, maybe doing a little nude sun bathing, getting lovey-dovey with your significant other, or if you are out in the open anywhere, remember — puppet stooge Obama is watching you — and if he does not like what he sees, you won’t get a summons … kaboom!!!!!!!!!!!

    Deception is the strongest political force on the planet.

    i on the ball patriot

  24. Anonymous

    "ts odd but the only rational way of understanding the drone attacks is that the U.S. wants to destabilize Pakistan similar to what they did in Cambodia. I know its a strange thought but the events in Pakistan seem to reflect the tension this is creating."


    The real goals of US Imperialism are always at odds with the stated ones. Many smarter minds than mine have come to the conclusion that what America really wants from the 3rd world is benighted backwards vasal states that provide inexpensive raw materials, are burdended by crippling debt, and controlled by corrupt regimes capable of keeping wages low and expensive environmental protection to a minimum.

    "Sweetheart" deals can be made for larger powers like China, who can make finished goods and accumulate soon-to-be-worth-less-if-not-worthless Treasuries.

    Whenever a state – democratic or not – shows progress outside these boundaries, we try to subvert it, go to war with it, or both.

    As you suggest, working backwards from the results is the best way to determine motives. Just look at any of Geithner & Paulson's plans, where the same principal applies.

    – StewPDX

  25. Anonymous

    Just thought I would pop this in:

    From, The Age, Australia

    Not to hit Parliament till Sept, well see you in Sept then

    New laws to stop predatory lendingApril 12, 2009 – 12:29PM
    The federal government is set to unveil draft national consumer credit laws by the end of this month, imposing strict new rules against predatory conduct.

    That follows a meeting of the Council of Australian Government (COAG) last year in which states and territories agreed to transfer responsibility for supervision and regulation of consumer credit to the Commonwealth.

    After seven months of negotiations conducted by Superannuation and Corporate Law Minister Nick Sherry, that has now been finalised.

    A government source said this new legislation, set to be introduced to parliament around September, would cover bank and non-bank mortgages, payday lending, store and car finance and other consumer credit.

    That will require lenders to abide by a code of responsible lending, legally obliging them to conduct an assessment of a borrower’s capacity to repay any proposed loan.

    All credit providers will have to be licensed.

    The corporate watchdog the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) will gain responsibility for supervising credit providers.

    The elderly, many now using reverse mortgages to compensate for shrinking superannuation returns, will also receive new protection.

    Any lender breaching the responsible lending code once could face hefty fines with repeated breaches incurring loss of licence.

    Borrowers will be able to take the lender or bank to an independent disputes resolution body.


  26. Richard Kline

    So Tyler, understood. And it’s good to hear you confirm that you had additional sourcing for your conclusion regarding the exit of prospec liquidy-ators which, for obvious reasons, you couldn’t directly attribute. That’s part of real investigatory practice. But here’s a follow-on question: Is this pull back by the Wide Boys in your view specifically related to concerns that the suckers’ rally is going to blow-off, or related to deeper concerns such as, for instance, revelations of major bank weakness or a CMBS china-syndrome moment? Your argument suggests that much of the suckers rally was _intentionally juiced_ by marginal momentum puffing: was this for a onetime profit to the prospecs or for reason of a deeper policy of some kind do you think?

    So skippy, and that’s just for Pashtunistan and the rest of the Northwest Provinces in PAK, yes. 250K dog soldiers, five years, and that just to break our teeth on it: that’s why we haven’t occupied already. We don’t have that ‘other army’ to play with. Did you really did landmines in the ‘Stan? What part??

    The bigger problem in PAK, as I don’t doubt that you know, is an ethnic-regional crack-up of the country. The principal ethnic groups have not quite reached the mutually murderous distrust of those in Iraq as of, say, 2003. More like Iraq as of 1973, minus the Baath Party. Or better Algeria 1990 but with more numerous and bitter ethnic divides. The Baluchis want out. The Pashtuns outside the cities have lost all committment to a national state. The Punjabis have failed repeatedly despite hogging all the marbles. The Sindhis are no better placed to govern the lot, but want a go at it. There is tremendous potential for civil war once the thrice-corrupt civilian administration finally sunders.

    So donebenson, that 94% number is, on the surface, one to question. But let’s pull it apart, and consider the reasons for the US drone strategy further. To begin with, concerning Pakistani journalism on the issu I’m in complete agreement with manto, who also has first hand knowledge by his remark. To the extent to which I have been able to read English language reportage from Pakistani sources, they are doing a very credible jot. These folks go to drone strike and terrorist bomb sites and _in real time interview neighbors and survivors_. They have wide access and credibility internally, ethnic divisions nothwithstanding. They report names of the deceased in not a few cases, factual evidence which can be crosschecked and disconfirmed. Even up in the hills these places are not Third World as one might imagine; there are public records, local censuses, there are schools (if not for all) and these areas do have connections to the wider country, just that they carefully guard their autonomy and limit what police can do. So the numbers that the journalists tally are likely to be _real_ numbers, and are at least likely to be the most accurate numbers available.

    —But consider what was said: “Only X al-Qaida.” That number is likey to be accurate but is only half the story. US drones are clearly targeting Pakistani nationals under color of attacking ‘al-Qaida and Afghan Taliban.’ So there will be a significant number among the dead from drone strikes who are adult males of Pakistani origin who were the actual targets, some of them perhaps even ‘legitimate targets’ on the basis of actions undertaken in Afghanistan or in direct aid to said ‘al-Qaida and Afghani Taliban.’ [Leaving aside for the nonce the actual, comparable, and arguably greater legitimacy of their resistance against foreign invasion and occupation.] The phrasing of the article carefully skirts this issue, and in that respect supports your skepticism. . . . But in reality not so much. It is abundantly clear that the bulk of dead from any drone strike upon clan-occupied compounds such as these drone strikes are and will be women and children relatives of the targets or as often simple bystanders in an American gunsight. That is the point of the article, and it is abundantly evidenced from both inside Pakistan, inside Afghanistan, and inside Iraq: most of those we kill are women and children murdered without compunction in the pursuit of our ‘policy objectives.’

    And what are those policy objectives in this drone assault? They are likely to be twofold. First, this is a straightforward assassination policy to raise the cost to Pakistani Pashtun communities of hiding, aiding, and fighting in Afghanistan alonsdie the Afghan Taliban. al-Qaida is the excuse but AFG is the issue. This policy is directly copied from the Israeli policy of continuous assassination used in Palestine and then throughout the Near East for 70 years and counting. As another commentator said, no police, no judge, no jury—because in fact the resistance was legitimate in all cases and so acquittal would follow any real trial. Drones are an instrument of state terrorism, and used here explicitly for such purposes. If Pashtunistan and the rest of the Pakistani NWP were as small as, say, Lebanon, this might have a suppressive effect; unlikley but one that could be argued by those who think states get to be terrorists unlike stateless actors. But applied here it will be not only ineffective but counterproductive. That is not simply my view; it is the view of all observers not on the US Government payroll (and many there), and the experience of scores of similar ‘raise the cost’ state terror campaigns.

    There is a further goal to these strikes, however. One effect, as mentioned by other commentors here, is the flight as refugees of significant populations from border areas into adjacent urban and semi-urban portions of Pakistan, with the attendant destabilization of those adjacent regions through a ripple effect of local insurgency and internal dissident organization. That puts great pressure on the Pakistani _Army_ to act against these internal dissidents. To this point, the Pakistani Army has been, ahh, extremely reluctant to use full military force and repression against Pakistani Taliban and other parties. For excellent reasons which remain valid. The are common nationals and co-believers, so one attacking another is extremely distasteful at best; there is little stomach for this in the ranks, and Army unit performance has been correspondingly poor when applied. The PAK Army is a mainfource affair geared toward combat with India (not that they could or would win anymore). Specifically, they have avoided insurgency training because of the implications their acting within their own borders would have on national stability, and instead farmed those jobs out to border units and the intelligence agencies. Which latter are wholly sympathetic to or actively collaborating with the Pakistani Taliban and affiliated units at this point, and so, shall we say, unavailable for force deployment. The larger goal of US drone strikes is to so destabilize portions of Pakistan internally that the PAK Army has no choice but to turn to Algerian-style repression to save _itself_. That’s it in a nutshell: yes, if all works ‘according to plan’ we will force the Pakistani Army into severe repression. At which point, it is far more likely that the country simply falls apart than that the policy succeeds.

    These are the kinds of imperial insanities which are pursued by states externally when they view such actions as having no potential for domestic blowback costs. We have seen once already how wrong that assessment proved. Triple the charge and watch the blast pattern. If you have eyes left to see. The US loves aerial counter-insurgency bombing for this kind of thing, and has used it for many decades with massive mortality and very limited policy success. Yes, air crushed insurrections in 1929 Iraq and was successful in 1930s Ethiopia. Very little since. Air was not a signicant component in the Taliban collapse of 2001 claims to the contrary; that was political when the warlords dragooned under a Taliban administration deserted the Taliban when Pakistan was forced by the US to repudiate the Taliban.

    And yes, Mexico has long been my No. 2 worry. Another failed state with high potential for collapse and disastrous US occupation. Gettin closer everyday there, too.

  27. Anonymous

    @ Richard Kline said…Did you really do landmines in the ‘Stan? What part??

    Well I got kidnapped by some Aussie guys over their whilst visiting relatives working in Peshawar, hospital/medical support to injured “freedom fighters” and civilians out of Afghanistan.

    They lived there from couple of years before the end of the Soviet occupation to the first gulf war. Went over too many times phewww, still here (alive), any how they found out about my background and called me a Yank chicken, sooo off for some manly bonding we went, on forays across the boarder. I thought up to that point, that the SWAPO in South Africa were dinged in the head, these guys raised the bar, local fighters, no matter what the flavor.

    Your dope on the area is high grade 7th generation hydro science bud, killer stuff, blows most peoples minds. Better be careful who you let smoke it, they may get paranoid.

    Skippy…did a bit of gov/military work and private in the middle world.

  28. Richard Kline

    Well, well, imagine that; me trading pixels with a smilin’ merc. All in fun ‘n’ games, right? [Don’t answer that.] True there are some genuine bad guys out there, and far more badasses who happen to get in eachother’s way. Speaking of whom, ghazi’s up in the Af-Pak hills do take their hostilities S-E-R-I-O-U-S-L-Y. I won’t be orienteering there anytime soon, I’ll say it.

    Tactics are tactics; strategy is strategy. Despite being a nonviolence type, I keep up on all this. Kind of like reading the other team’s playbook to figure out what they think they are doing. There is a very clear trajectory of counterinsurgency strategy evolving over the last sixty some years. The information is there if one cares to know. But really the possibilities have been the same for 500 years; only the technological refinements change. Look at English counterinsurgency in Ireland in the 1590s and you see the same face of power at all costs, with the same spectrum of responses. Too many such, for too long . . . Now one more.

  29. Anonymous

    Anonymous: “…what America really wants from the 3rd world is benighted backwards vasal states…”

    And Israel too, in Gaza and the Occupied Territories. Can’t have them being too successful, can we? Picturesque and illiterate camel-drivers is better for all concerned, including the tourists.

  30. Anonymous

    @Richard Kline,

    Too right, the ancestral groove going down over there is concentrated drum of bad times for anyone playing keepers.

    They know in the DOD that whiz bang toys won’t get the job done, but also know there is no popular backing for the numbers (troops)/monies needed to really get stuck into it.

    So its left to counterinsurgency tactics, plus a few extra troops to man GP/observation posts on hill tops and bottle necks to call in air power. With that said, the west better figure out who it is, and have great long range optics/contingency plans, cuz this ain’t no Iraq.

    Iraq should have been a cake walk, but bushie and Co got arrogant and were too bizzy strutting about the planet after the initial victory. They completely forgot about after the fact stabilization plans and the number of troops need to police the country till order was established, Amateur’s.

    All the same good talking to you, nice conversing with someone who knows his business.

    Skippy…hear that Brass/thinktank boys, get off your sacred back sides and join a patrol once and awhile, sit on a GP/OP for a week and maybe you will do a better job, acquire better optics.

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