Monthly Archives: August 2013

Good Points, Questionable Questions

Already a quagmire and we’re not even there yet,

Assad will remain. His military will remain. The chemical stockpiles will remain. Al Qaeda will remain one of the chief beneficiaries of any U.S. strike.

I think it is pipe dream to think that Assad is going to magically be replaced by a dictator of our own liking, degrading Syrian forces will aid the Qaeda rebels and that poses a problem for Iraq, seems to not bother the Saudis, and chemical weapons lying around in that situation are hardly going to be an improvement over what we current are dealing with. That is the dilemma.

I still think Mr. Walt’s suggestion is the most useful that I’ve heard to date. As far as the questions go, I’m not at all sure that self-righteous indignation is helpful to resolving the larger problem of what the hell are we going to do about chemical weapons, period. If all we are interested in is teaching lessons then we ought to nuke the eintire fucking region and say that’s for nothing, now do something.

More Along Those Lines

Opinion from the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

Fourth, the international community urgently needs to increase assistance to the civilian population in Syria and refugees in neighboring countries. Protection against chemical weapons is possible, and it should be a priority to provide protective kits and antidotes to Syrians. The Chemical Weapons Convention contains provisions for offering assistance and protection to those under threat. Neighboring states that are members—notably, Jordan—can thus request help under the convention.

via /.

Katy, Bar The Door

Apparently the idea of ceding power back to Congress was a big fucking deal at the White House. Obviously politics is going to come into play on the whole issue of bombing Iraq, Iran, Syria. Anyone who has been reading this blog for a while also knows that I do worst case scenarios, a corollary I suppose of having no expectations, which means having no disappointments. If everything that could go wrong goes wrong then who could’ve knowed? Any improvement on that still leaves a lot of I told you so room. I’m pretty good at that too. (JSYK)

But the heart of the matter remains, do international proscriptions against using chemical weapons mean anything anymore or not? If so and that is the basis of the Syrian action, does that mean *it also precludes others, in the future, from using those weapons, including white phosphorus by the United States and Israel, and whatever in the hell Russia and the rest of the major powers have in their arsenals?

If this is a one shot deal then, Katy bar the door. The world has an opportunity to move beyond the wink and the nod on the use of those weapons, but do those who posses them have the will to destroy them? For they are the poor man’s nuclear weapons, and the last act of desperate leaders of nations with nuclear weapons, and I think a large part of the resistance to Obama’s initiative is a desire to maintain the option of using those weapons at a more convenient time. Perhaps a nuke in time saves nine?

So yeah, the issue has a plethora of little problems for little minds, and since those are the majority of political leaders in our time we are already being inundated with grand polemics and rhetorical flares that illuminate the deserts of the political hobgoblins squirting blood from one eye, or the other, like tin horned toads. It is quite rightly a moral and ethical question, not about who gets to throw the first stone, if that were the case then no one could, end of story.

All the other framing of other issues is built on that foundational question, and all the square and true walls in the world are not going to make a house when the foundation is built on sand.

It is time that world, and national leaders acted their ages, not their shoe sizes. This teenage bullshit has gone on long enough.

* A bit of editing for English there.

We Can Ask No More

I can’t make the moral decision for anyone else. Whatever you think, however you feel, you need to express it through your Congressional representatives.

I thought yesterday if John Kerry had made speeches like that in 2004 he would be an ex-President today. I think the President made valid points about the basis of international laws and treaties, today, and I think he put the moral burden squarely where it belongs, on the people of the United States, in Congress assembled. In that respect the issue has been elevated to a higher plane, and it will be interesting to see if Congress and the politicians are able to rise above business as usual. This vote will echo through the ages.

Speaking for myself, I think all that could be done has been done, all that could be hoped for has been achieved in the Presidents remarks, who is determined to do what he is determined to do. Whether opening the debate up to the influence of lobbyists is worth the compromise on prerogative is just one of the unforseen consequences that those opposed to the military strike will have to accept as a price for the Constitutional forms the debate now moves into. Our leaders will now have to lead, for the will of the people is one thing, whether the people are correct another matter all together, hence the representative aspect of our democracy.

This debate is not about the sins of our fathers. This debate is about our own moral judgment in our own time, and history will judge us just as we *judge those who came before us, with modern sensibilities that we cannot posses. We must take the long view and the short view at the same time, with neither hill to stand on, nor prescience to see the unintended consequences of our own moral decision.

The world going forward will be the one you made. Compelling a President to relinquish some power back to Congress after forty years of the War Powers Act is a big fucking deal. I urge my readers to make the effort in the coming debate commiserate with achievement of the one that preceded it.

LSS: America rocks. HT to Parliament.

*changed just to judge.

Tweeter Was A Boy Scout Before She Went To Viet Nam

Found out the hard way, nobody gives a damn. Mr. Wright does some writing before getting down to the brass tack of Syria, do you give a damn about the people?

I could get snarky and note that with so many Americans, including Congresscrits, unable to answer the basic questions of who, what and where about Syria, we don’t give a damn about our own people, why would we be expected to care about the Syrians, but I have bigger digressions to fly. In the end it is a wonderful moral dilemma, sans arsonists living in the building with inner tubes tied across the windows and Molotov cocktails at their disposal.

Worth a look.

As well as: Some of the comments are insightful, others educational, and of course others make you want to run in and yell theater!


Pesky hackers,

According to Nasdaq’s account of events, the NYSE sent multiple requests to connect with the Nasdaq’s quote system, only to disconnect rapidly. The rapid cycle of connection-and-disconnection from the NYSE amounted to 26 times the normal volume of stock quotes running through Nasdaq’s system, it said.

The rapid speed of these connections then “revealed a latent flaw in the SIP’s software code”, Nasdaq said.

Starting to eat their own.

Also too,

A source familiar with the NYSE’s systems questioned why Nasdaq did not cut off the NYSE’s access to the quote system when the problem started. “They should have the ability to manage this by throttling our input, and certainly shouldn’t melt down,” the source said.

Anonymously spoken of course.


Short Of War

Alternative way forward,

First, it looks like Barack Obama’s administration has painted itself into something of a corner (though to be fair, a lot of inside-the-Beltway hawks were wielding their own paintbrushes too). With the administration having made a number of unequivocal statements about the Assad government’s responsibility for the chemical weapons attacks, it is going to be hard for it to do nothing and not get accused of being wishy-washy at best and pusillanimous at worst.

That would be by ignorant people, or those with another agenda than the well being of the United States standing in the world, and to some extent some of the very same people prattling sabres for the wee people. As the guest on PBS Newshour just noted in an interview with Mr. Brown, the ability to make things worse with a military strike are better than doing nothing at all, and if the intelligence intercepts are accurate then it would appear that there is already some lose of control already. It is essential that someone in Syria have command and control over the CW ordinance, so destroying command and control is counter-productive to the aim. By now I should have formulated an opinion on the Israeli influence in all of this, but have not. Many have. I urge a little caution there.

To be specific: Why not use the crisis over chemical weapons as an opportunity to launch a new diplomatic initiative? Start by referring the matter to the U.N. Security Council, and let everyone on the Security Council see the intelligence that lies behind U.S. suspicions. And as Sean Kay has proposed, for good measure we could ask the Security Council to refer the issue of possible war crimes to the International Criminal Court. But most importantly, before launching punitive strikes that probably won’t accomplish anything positive, the United States could invite the European Union, Russia, China, Turkey and — wait for it — Iran to a diplomatic conference on Syria.

Acknowledging the reality of the situation on the ground may be the starting point. Wishes and fishes haven’t filled the sea so far anyway.

As I have said before, our times seem incapable of producing a great man. I would challenge the President to make a liar out of me.

And The Sign Said Long Haired Freeky People Need Not Apply

So I tucked my hair up under my hat and went in to ask him why,
He said, ‘You like an upstanding young man, yes I think you’ll do.’

According to Aid, TAO’s primary base is in the NSA headquarters in Fort Meade. There, he says, some 600 members of the unit work rotating shirts 24-7 in an “ultramodern” space at the center of the base called the Remote Operations Center (ROC).

The unit bears a striking resemblance to a Chinese hacking group described in a report released by cybesecurity company Mandiant earlier this year. The report indicated that that group, APT1, was likely organized by the Chinese military. Perhaps not so coincidentally, Aid says multiple confidential sources have told him that TAO has “successfully penetrated Chinese computer and telecommunications systems for almost 15 years,” in the process, “generating some of the best and most reliable intelligence information about what is going on inside the People’s Republic of China.”

So I took off my hat, and said imagine that, me, working for you.

Signs, signs evertywhere a sign,

“Every day, they are learning how brilliant [Snowden] was,” said a former U.S. official with knowledge of the case. “This is why you don’t hire brilliant people for jobs like this. You hire smart people. Brilliant people get you in trouble.”

Maybe you should hire brilliant people to run the show. Just saying.

Sucks And Blows


The NSA seems to have finally found a PR agency with a TS/SI clearance, since there was a response to this story. They’ve also had a conference call with the press, and the Director of National Intelligence is on Twitter and Tumblr.

I am completely croggled by the fact that the NSA apparently had absolutely no contingency plans for this sort of thing.

They’re becoming the Wyatt Derps of intelligence agencies.

Wet Finger Politics

George Will takes the stage. Like Ted Cruz, Mr. Will has determined it is advantageous to oppose an unnecessary war, at this time. More thought, less talk, George.

The Feedback Loop Of The Israelis

Good read.

“Most people are bad historians. They tend to ascribe the same logic to things that are not necessarily connected. That’s what I think is going to happen in the minds of most people. …”

About the only part that I thought could be excerpted, everything else being in context to the narrative. Admittedly, I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about the Israelis, or Israel. Not even theologically.

But I do think they, like many, take opposition to policy as opposition to self. It is hard to rule one’s own passions, other’s are nearly impossible, which is what we like to call poitics. This of course is not how things truly operate in the world. Democratic societies tend to wind up manipulative of public opinion as we have seen, and perhaps learned, for a generation.

Take care gentlemen, take care.