Sunday, November 11, 2007
Saturday, November 11, 2006
Last night, Lady of tdaxp and I watched Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan. The movie begins with a beautiful rendition of the flag of Kazakhstan:
The Republic of Kazakhstan is one of several Asian nations to prominently feature a Sun Disk on its flag. Other common elements are the Star, the Crescent, and writing:
The Star may be the most common of these symbols, and it’s often included within the other symbols.
So I mapped the countries of Asia by which symbol they used. Because stars are so common, I colored those states by other symbols (so, for instance, Iraq is classified as “writing" even though it has both writing and stars). Thus:
The Sun Disk radiates out from China. The origin is even older than the KMT’s adoption fo the symbol in the flag of the Republic of China. The Qin Dynasty also used the Sun Disk. However, just as the People’s Republic only uses the Star, so do its dependencies:
The destruction of the Sun Disk, as well as mutilation and attempted obliteration of Chinese characters, are the works of Mao Zedong, a noted psychopath. This is unlike, Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan, however, which is the work of Sacha Baron-Cohen, cousin of an expert on autism.
Sunday, August 20, 2006
"The Big Bang spreads . . . the rough way," by Thomas Barnett, Thomas P.M. Barnett :: Weblog, 7 October 2005, http://www.thomaspmbarnett.com/weblog/archives2/002427.html (from tdaxp).
"President's Radio Address," by George Bush, White House Radio, 19 August 2006, http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2006/08/20060819.html.
As George Bush assumed power in January 2001, the Middle East was in a dire state. The al-Qaeda backed Taliban government ruled Afghanistan, while the noxious rule of the Arab Nationalist-Secularist governments (some in uneasy league with America, others opposed) ruled Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Palestine, Syria. If al Qaeda was a rapist, doing damage quickly and violently, the Nationalist-Secularists were parents with Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy. While al Qaeda was more mindlessly violent, the National-Secularists had been disastrous for their states, rolling back the traditional governments and traditional societies that once existed in those lands. The National-Secularists, from the Ba'ath, to Fatah, to the rest, were politically and intellectually bankrupt.
Red = National-Secularist, Green = Shia, Yellow = Tribal, Black = al Qaeda, Blue = Globalist
Since then the situation has changed for the better. In three states the National-Secularists have been driven out: by the US military in Iraq, by the people in Palestine, and by a combination of internal factions and external pressure in Lebanon. And Afghanistan, of course, was liberated in Operational Enduring Freedom.
Red = National-Secularist, Green = Shia, Yellow = Tribal, Blue-Geen = Contested between Iran and Globalist, Blue = Globalist, Purple = Muslim Brothers
That these places are unstable is not proof that Bush's plan is failing, but that it is working. As the President recently said
It is no coincidence that two nations that are building free societies in the heart of the Middle East, Lebanon and Iraq, are also the scenes of the most violent terrorist activity.
The same is true, of course, when Palestine, where the Muslim Brother's local branch, Hamas, is squeezed between a justly hostile Israeli and unjustly hostile National-Secularist dead-enders.
If we are to judge the Global War on Terrorism by the standards of Thomas Barnett:
In the end, what will have to change for all this violence in the Middle East to stop is not our withdrawal, but political reform in the region. Keeping this fight suppressed, or having it exported to our shores like it was on 9/11 is certainly a safer route for the local authoritarian regimes. Then again, I think 9/11 put us past caring about those regimes' stability like we used to.
Bush basically runs a race with Osama: who can destabilize the region's regimes first? Both sides want change, but only one wants to replace the current autocracies with a religious dictatorship. What Bush wants solves the problem. What Osama wants merely extends it.
Then we are clearly winning this Long War. We destabilized Afghanistan, throwing al Qaeda out of their only State. We destabilized National-Secularist Iraq, and now contend with Iran (not al Qaeda) in seeing which of us has the most influence in that State. We destabilize National-Secularist Lebanon, and now content with Iran (not al Qaeda) in seeing which of us has the most influence in that State.
In this New Middle East we are building, we will have to be careful. We will have to deal wisely with the new regional indigenous hegemon, Iran. But we will not have to fear al Qaeda or the National-Secularists. They will be killed. That is why we can leave Iraq now.
A New Middle East, a tdaxp series
A New Middle East 1: Our Vanquished Enemies
A New Middle East 2: Iran
A New Middle East 3: Israel
A New Middle East 4: Islam is the Answer
Thursday, October 27, 2005
"Written Turkic," by Curzon, Coming Anarchy, 26 October 2005, http://www.cominganarchy.com/archives/2005/10/26/written-turkic/.
Curzon from ComingAnarchy presents a beautiful map on the three-way split in how Turkic languages are written
Local expert Nathan gives his own view
And not just Cyrillic, but very different Cyrillic alphabets. I can kind of get written Kyrgyz and Kazakh, but I’m not entirely sure what sounds the vowels make.
On the map, I’d at least put Uzbekistan as a mix of blue and green. Even when I was there, Latin signs were fairly common and like I said, some kids couldn’t read Cyrillic.
Dari’s written in Arabic script. Tajik, however, is written in Cyrillic (but I think they’re supposed to be switching to Latin).
Beautiful cartography. Check it out
Monday, July 11, 2005
"Terror suspects escape US Afghan base," by Mark Tran, The Guardian, 11 July 2005, http://www.guardian.co.uk/afghanistan/story/0,1284,1526159,00.html.
US forces today launched a manhunt after four prisoners escaped from Bagram, the main US base in Afghanistan.
The men, described as "dangerous enemy combatants", got away from the sprawling Bagram Air Base to the north of Kabul at about 5am local time (0130 BST), US officials said.
The Arabic television channel al-Jazeera quoted unnamed sources as saying the four men were Arabs, but a US official declined to confirm this.
So on what side does the military error: tying up inmates like dogs, preventing escape, or treating them in a way that isn't embarrassing in the morning, preventing moral isolation?
Come to think of it, why is the kill-people-and-known-down-stuff portion of our military handling prisoners at all? Shouldn't that be someone else's core competency? Like a System Administrator?
Monday, May 09, 2005
"Trolling the Blogosphere," by William Rice, Dawn's Early Light, 8 May 2005, http://dawnsearlylight.blogs.com/del/2005/05/trolling_the_bl.html.
Bill at DEL read my "Full Spectrum Struggle" post and added
Dan over at tdaxp discusses network-centric warfare (NCW) and 4th Generation Warfare (4GW) here. My question to Dan is while he believes the US does poorly with 4GW in Vietnam, Somalia and Lebanon, what about Afghanistan and Iraq?
The short answer: we lucked out.
The medium answer: It's too soon to know for sure, but it does look like we are winning. In both Afghanistan and Iraq we shifted the fight from a fourth-generation struggle to a pre-modern struggle. We win pre-modern struggles. Always.
The long answer:
As I blogged before, Fourth Generation movements use violent ideological net-struggle. They are flat peer-to-peer networks that are resilient against decapitation attacks. A 4GWnet looks like
The reason that CIA Director George Tenet told President George Bush that al Qaeda would survive bin Laden's assassination is because it is true: in 4GW the movement is much more than the sum of its parts. Fourth-Generation Wars often last decades, beyond the fighting life of almost all of its members.
We have never won a fourth generation war. We lose them every time. This is why we need to focus on that sort of warfare a lot more than we are.
But guess what? There is something that is so similar to 4GW that even I confused the two. It is Pre-Modern War, and it looks like this:
When I described PMW's peaceful cousin, Pre-Modern Politics (PMP), I wrote
PMP is sometimes not included because it is barely politics as we recognize it. Unlike modern politics it is not organized for a belief, ideology, party, or even candidate -- there is no "point" to a PMP network other than the PMP network itself. PMP networks are familial networks, The only way to directly increase a familial network is to increase the number of children, though "permanent" alliances can be forged with other nets through marriages.
In both Afghanistan and Iraq we forced the enemy to move from 4GW to PMW tactics. We forced the enemy to lose.
In Afghanistan, this was easy. By 2001 most of the "Taliban" were just warriors and their kind. Afghanistan was well into transition to PMP anyway. America' adept use at tribal politics -- allying with Uzbek and Tajik forces while appointing a charismatic Pashtun as leader -- cemented the shift.
Iraq is harder. Abu Zarqawi understands what he is doing. By trying to create a civil war he is attempting to use PMW for his own ends. But Zarqawi misunderstands American strengths -- while the U.S. hosts a powerful Left that is willing to betray state allies for its own ends, the U.S. is made to fight Pre-Modern struggles.
We are better at PMW then Zarqawi. When we disbanded the Iraqi Army, when we stopped payments to Ba'ath loyalist tribes, when we de-Ba'athed the countries, we instinctively prepared for a Pre-Modern War on our terms.
From Tippecanoe to Wounded Knee America was baptized in Pre-Modern War. The same tactics which hurt us so much in 4GW -- Abu Gharibs and Mai Lais -- work wonders in PMW. In 4GW massacres and humiliations weakens political will and helps the insurgents. Such deeds strengthen 4GW nets. In PMW humiliating elders (network supernodes) and killing women and children (exposing the network's administrators as incompetent in protecting their own) helps. Such acts destroy PMW nets from the inside.
Today, in many ways, we are re-fighting the Indian Wars. My home state saw a bitter multi-angled contest between the Ojibwe (who were ethnically cleansed by the Sioux), white settlers (also ethnically cleansed by the Sioux), the Dakota Sioux (who, after ethnically cleansing the white settlers, reached an amicable peace by turning against their Lakota Sioux brothers), and the Lakota Sioux (exiled to hellish reservations by the U.S. Cavalry).
But we are also fighting Fourth Generation Wars against violent Islamism. The tactics which help us win the New Indian Wars against thugs help us lose the Ideological Net-Wars against the bin Ladens.
And at the same time, we may soon be fighting Fourth Generation Politics against peaceful Islamism.
We live in a complicated world.
Wednesday, April 27, 2005
"US arrests Afghan 'heroin baron',' by Jeremy Cooke, BBC News, 25 April 2005, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/4483469.stm (from Democratic Underground).
What's more important? Not having Islamist murderers kill pilots, hijack planes, and crash them into buildings? Or "saving" you for your own stupid decisions?
The government's chosen for you
An Afghan man regarded by the US as one of the world's most wanted heroin traffickers has been arrested, American officials have announced.
Federal prosecutors say the arrest of Bashir Noorzai on US territory will be a severe blow to the Afghan drug trade.
A US federal indictment alleges Mr Noorzai has been at the centre of a multi-million dollar heroin operation.
He is expected to appear in a federal court charged with conspiring to import heroin worth $50m (£26m).
So instead of legalizing the drug-cash exchange, and allowing people to treat their bodies as they will, we make criminals out of Americans, Afghans, and everyone in between.
With policies like this, we risk shoving rich drug barons into the hands of our enemies.
But they also believe that the arrest may have wider implications, claiming that Mr Noorzai had close links with the Taleban and had used drug money to supply Islamic militants with arms and explosives.
How many American soldiers will die to keep American drug users from Afghan drug suppliers? Because they sure are now.
Wednesday, March 30, 2005
"The unsung role of Kung Fu in the Kyrgyz revolution," AFP, 28 March 2005, http://news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/afp/20050328/lf_afp/kyrgyzstanpolitics_050328194347 (from Coming Anarchy).
This is the weirdest news of the night. No wonder the Defense Minister wasn't good at his job. I'm going to bed.
Many say people power brought down the regime in Kyrgyzstan last week. But Bayaman Erkinbayev, a lawmaker, martial arts champ and one of the Central Asian nation's richest men, says it was his small army of Kung Fu-style fighters.
In southern Kyrgyzstan, where the protests that brought down the Askar Akayev's 15-year regime first flared, the name of 37-year-old Erkinbayev seems to be on everyone's lips.
Erkinbayev is the wealthy playboy head of the Palvan Corporation, who led 2,000 fighters trained in Alysh, Kyrgyzstan's answer to Kung Fu, to protests launched after the first round of a parliamentary election on February 27.
A hero in his hometown Osh, he is generally considered to have financed the protests and sent his martial arts trainees to the front lines of the demonstrations, including in the capital Bishkek.
Heros of Democracy?
Oh, and the guy's Tony Soprano too
In the parliamentary elections of 2000 he is said to have spent two weeks on the run from the police after allegedly beating a judge who ordered him to drop out of the race for failing to disclose some of his wife's property in his registration form.
The ruling was later overturned under unclear circumstances and Erkinbayev described it as an "untruth."
"When I met the judge later he retracted his accusations," he said.
Thursday, March 24, 2005
"Protesters Seize Kyrgyzstan Government HQ," Associated Press, 24 March 2005, http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,151351,00.html (from Instapundit).
It can be hard to know if a state's military is truly great. A large discussion at Dawn's Early Light discusses this, in the context of a mock Indo-American air battle. But this is probably a sign you need new security officials
About 1,000 protesters managed to clear riot police from their positions outside the fence protecting the building, and about half that number entered the compound and went into the building through the front entrance. Others smashed windows with stones, while hundreds of police watched from outside the fence.
Protesters led the defense minister out of the building, holding him by the elbows and trying to protect him, but others threw stones at the military chief and one protester kicked him. Interior Ministry troops led other officials out, and three injured people left in bandages, accompanied by a doctor.
Yet another day in Russia's ironically crumbling post-Empire...
Tuesday, March 22, 2005
"Moldova Communists stay in power," BBC News, 7 March 2005, http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/4322617.stm.
"Russia Picking A Fight Over Kyrgystan," by Tim Russo, Democracy Guy, 22 May 2005, http://democracyguy.typepad.com/democracy_guy_grassroots_/2005/03/russia_picking_.html.
There's so many angles to this story: Putin's alienation of Moldova, joint Opposition-Government patrols, Russia's generation-old policy of trading power for money, the wave of democratic revolutions, Russia's army being so incompetent that it can't invade a country where it has military bases, etc.
In the same month two new ex-Soviet states, Moldova and the unpronounceable Kyrgystan, look to be joining Georgia and Ukraine in cutting their ties to Moscow. But everything is swamped by this headline
To those who need a second look