January 11, 2013

France invades Uqbar / Kush

As I more or less figured last April, today in the Washington Post we read:
French ground forces intervened Friday to help the sagging Malian army as it battles advancing Islamist fighters, opening a new and unexpectedly direct front in the confrontation between the West and al-Qaeda-allied guerrillas. 
... “We have chased the army out of the town of Konna,” Sanda Abou Mohamed, a spokesman for the Ansar Dine militia, told the Associated Press by telephone from the Islamist-held city of Timbuktu. But others reported late Friday that Mali’s forces had retaken the city.

Konna lies about 45 miles north of Mopti, the northernmost headquarters for Malian government military operations. French officials expressed fear that the Islamist forces, if they continue their advance, could capture Mopti and from there push forward to Bamako, the capital, more than 300 miles to the southwest.

Reading about strategically located Mali is little like reading the intentionally eye-glazing encyclopedia description of the land of Uqbar in Jorge Luis Borges' "Tlon, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius:"
We read the article with some care. The passage recalled by Bioy was perhaps the only surprising one. The rest of it seemed very plausible, quite in keeping with the general tone of the work and (as is natural) a bit boring. Reading it over again, we discovered beneath its rigorous prose a fundamental vagueness. Of the fourteen names which figured in the geographical part, we only recognized three - Khorasan, Armenia, Erzerum - interpolated in the text in an ambiguous way. Of the historical names, only one: the impostor magician Smerdis, invoked more as a metaphor. The note seemed to fix the boundaries of Uqbar, but its nebulous reference points were rivers and craters and mountain ranges of that same region. We read, for example, that the lowlands of Tsai Khaldun and the Axa Delta marked the southern frontier and that on the islands of the delta wild horses procreate. All this, on the first part of page 918. In the historical section (page 920) we learned that as a result of the religious persecutions of the thirteenth century, the orthodox believers sought refuge on these islands, where to this day their obelisks remain and where it is not uncommon to unearth their stone mirrors. 

You can read here John Updike's bravura description of the fictional country of Kush in his 1978 novel The Coup. He modeled it on a number of Sahelian countries much like Mali. Kush is probably most like Niger, which is sort of the New Hampshire to Mali's Vermont, or maybe Chad, which would be like Maine.


66 comments:

anony-mouse said...

France has been er, forcibly influencing its ex-colonies, AQ or no AQ, ever since decolonialisation, best shown in the career of:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Felix_Houphouet-Boigny

Hence the continuation of le Legion Etrangere

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Such is the power of Borges' Ficciones, that when I saw the title in my sidebar (I have you there permanently), I thought I recognised the name as a real place, but one I could not recall exactly.

So...exactly. I'm sure Mali is strategically vital as a keystone to some other important place, and even a minot functionary at the State Dept could explain it to me, but it is rather an eye-glaze, isn't it?

Anonymous said...

So...exactly. I'm sure Mali is strategically vital as a keystone to some other important place, and even a minot functionary at the State Dept could explain it to me, but it is rather an eye-glaze, isn't it?

Afghanistan is the Central Asian version of Timbuktu. Heck, Central Asia is a super-sized Timbuktu. One fine September morning, 19 hijackers trained in a figurative Timbuktu killed 3,000 people and inflicted tens of billions of dollars in direct physical damage and hundreds of billions in economic damage. If the rebels were anything other than al Qaeda, France would probably have made an accommodation with the victorious new regime. But al Qaeda decided to attack the West, thereby bringing upon themselves the Western military equivalent of a giant spray can of Raid.

Anonymous said...

French-style intervention involves providing firepower while letting the locals decisively slaughter the rebels and associated camp followers. On a cost-benefit basis, it can't be faulted. All of France's interventions put together probably cost less than 1 year of the US presence in Afghanistan.

Tom Regan said...

French reasoning: the societies created by the Malians and their ilk are absoloute pits of despair, long after the abandonment of colonialism was meant to allow them to rise like a phoenix. Yet the off-sloughing of these societies will make model citizens in our own nation.
Plus ca meme, plus ca change.

Auntie Analogue said...


Did I just hear Basil Seal yawn?

Larry, San Francisco said...

I always thought Kush was Chad. As i remember it was near Sudan.

Steve Sailer said...

Chad is Maine to Mali's Vermont.

Brazilian said...

Free Timbuktu!!!

TontoBubbaGoldstein said...

IIRC....

CHAD is either the ALLTEL guy, or something that United States elections hang on.

KUSH are Islamofascist mountains in Afghanistan used to crush the Hindis.

When in doubt, PUNT.

.

AMac said...

The Cathedral press doesn't do a very thorough job with backgrounders on places like northern Mali. To put it mildly. It can be a bit difficult to chortle along with the mildly amused tone of NYT pieces, when the coverage itself is the real joke.

Bill Roggio's website "The Long War Journal" was running in-depth pieces and links to Pakistani reports on Waziristan, North and South, about two years before those hellholes got serious consideration in the MSM. Turns out they have always been key to the future of Mr. Bush's other war. Who knew?

Here's one of Roggio's recent assessments of Mali, West African jihadist group forms 4 'battalions,' names 3 after al Qaeda leaders.

...but Azawad is interested in you.

Sorry 'bout that.

Anonymous said...

Even though Borges practically ignited the Latin American Boom, the world of academic literature only begrudgingly accepts him, and even then, he's never referenced as part of the "diversified" literary canon. He had no time for the left, and became increasingly conservative as he got older.

Anonymous said...

Does france have hbd paleo isolationists like we do here? Anyone to speak out against this silly stuff

Gould K.L. Brownlee said...

Niger really needs to have a name change to Jeremy since it's next door to Chad.

MQ said...

As the first comment said, France has continued its empire behind the scenes even after its nominal withdrawal from Africa. This gave the French government and corporations access to huge sums of money from African raw materials that were channeled to them by compliant dictators. From a moral perspective it's not so good but from a practical perspective it's a lesson in how to run an empire at a low cost. Once of the funny things about the Iraq invasion PR was how French PM Chirac, a tough former paratrooper and a veteran of the Algerian uprising, who probably personally tortured Algerian rebels himself, was portrayed as a wimpy peacenik trying to hold back manly George Bush, former Yale cheerleader. No, Chirac was just telling him that he was being an idiot and didn't know how to run an empire.

Anonymous said...

How can you not pine for the free state of Azawad?

These places may be off the map and sparsely inhabited, but they are big. Mali is considerably larger than Texas. As a minor footnote, the Islamist advance seems mostly tied to Azawad and Tuareg ethnicity. Relatively few heavily armed Tuaregs from Libya initially took over northern Mali with Islamist support. The Islamists have since "taken over the revolution", presumably due to a larger infrastructure in place and more boots on the ground. Also tangentially, much of northern Mali is apparently a prime drug smuggling corridor,

Anonymous said...

Updike is so wonderfully brilliant!
Robert Hume

Matra said...

French PM Chirac, a tough former paratrooper and a veteran of the Algerian uprising, who probably personally tortured Algerian rebels himself

There is no reason to believe that Chirac participated in torture in Algeria. Despite what Algerian nationalists and white leftists claim torture was not so widespread in Algeria that the average young lieutenant like Chirac "probably personally tortured Algerian rebels himself". The accusation has, however, been made against another French politician - Jean-Marie Le Pen.

Dr Van Nostrand said...


How do you say "no blood for rich uranium deposits" in French?

Does france have hbd paleo isolationists like we do here? Anyone to speak out against this silly stuff?"

Perhaps but hbd types in France are probably not isolationists as France in its historical memory has always been an empire.Its most famous historical conquest being that little island nation of England where French influence still pervades in language and culture.

How odd about 900 years after successfully turning England to a mere annex of its northern district(1066),it failed in a similar goal in a land across in the south.(the pied noirs fought as hard as they because to them Algeria WAS France).


PM Chirac, a tough former paratrooper and a veteran of the Algerian uprising, who probably personally tortured Algerian rebels himself, was portrayed as a wimpy peacenik trying to hold back manly George Bush, former Yale cheerleader. No, Chirac was just telling him that he was being an idiot and didn't know how to run an empire."

Not entirely.Bush had served in the Texas Air National Guard.To be sure,he didnt go out of his way to get deployed but he couldve called to combat and he had to comply.And the training on those planes is no joke.

This notion that a war veteran can conduct a war better than a civilian no combat experience is plain silliness.The cripple FDR did just fine against Hitler and Tojo.

WWII vet Jimmy Carter botched Iran and Afghanistan while Reagan who had not served, was far more successful in prosecuting enemies both large and small (Lebanon being the sole exception)

Anonymous said...

Wikimedia is having a meet-up in NYC.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Meetup/NYC. I think I'll attend.

Maybe Steve will attend a meet-up in LA. Maybe they'll let him give a Lightning Talk. In any case, his observations on such an event would be interesting. And it's FREE.

Two percent of Wikipedia users do 75 percent of the edits. Join the 2 percent.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C7yXx3YbcNI&feature=youtube_gdata_player

Whiskey said...

France's economic position, such as it is, depends on sweetheart trade deals with the ex-colonies, particularly uranium, cocoa, and other commodities found there. France is certainly not competitive with chemicals (Netherlands, Switzerland) or manufacturing (Germany, Switzerland, Netherlands) or much of anything else.

Critically France depends on West and Central Africa (France helped stir up but did not create the Rwandan anti-Tutsi genocide) being militarily weak. I suspect that AQ will be far tougher for France; AQ has access to a global arms network, global supply of fighters, the latest military hardware, and has higher esprit de corps/unit cohesion than France. Additionally France is vulnerable to massive Islamic uprisings (Muslims defacto control all of France's cities) which their elites cannot suppress (they need their votes just like here).

Germans were far smarter, they were cured of their dream of empire, and instead radically changed their society, in ways both simple and profound. France needs its empire to sustain its aristocracy who are a huge burden and keep their society in stasis except for demographic transformation. [Their dirigste might as well be called aristocrats, they are all but name lacking only the huge manor houses, titles, and patents of nobility.]

Carol said...

So, I took the recommendations but didn't think Updike was nearly as funny as Waugh.

Mr. Anon said...

"MQ said...

As the first comment said, France has continued its empire behind the scenes even after its nominal withdrawal from Africa. This gave the French government and corporations access to huge sums of money from African raw materials that were channeled to them by compliant dictators."

This seems a much better plan than that of the UK, whereby they maintain the trappings of past imperial glory at great cost, but almost no benefit. And certainly better than the US way - the actuality of empire today at great cost and no benefit.

Mr. Anon said...

I have always found it amusing how people will try to make some place "strategic" by simply tacking the word "strategic" to it. So the country is not just Mali, but rather "strategic Mali". I can imagine few places less strategic than Mali.

It reminds me of the slogan that some wags once dreamt up for the city of Fresno: "Fresno - Gateway to Bakersfield".

Billy Chav said...

Looks like the more important campaign has already been lost. I mean, of course, CAIR's campaign against the AP's recklessly racist use of the term, "Islamist."

stari_momak said...

"we discovered beneath its rigorous prose a fundamental vagueness."

Can be applied to any David Brooks column.

Anonymous said...

Does france have hbd paleo isolationists like we do here? Anyone to speak out against this silly stuff

The French right is hbd and paleo, but it's not isolationist or pacifist, given how close it is to the action and the large number of Muslims there, in % terms. Isolationism really doesn't work unless unless you've got a massive several thousand mile moat on both sides and weak powers to the north and south.

As far as jihadis go, history has shown that you might not interested in jihadis, but jihadis are interested in you. During Muhammad's time, the Arabs were under sporadic military pressure from the Persians, the Byzantines and the Ethiopians. In time, they overran the first two, and greatly reduced the size of the Ethiopian empire. You could say that this was payback. But did they stop there? No. They went all the way to the borders of the Chinese empire, where a Pyrrhic victory in 751 AD ended Islam's quest to conquer the Far East.

Jihadis are operating by medieval rules, where adult male captives are killed and women and children sold into slavery. 9/11 was the modern-day equivalent of the ghazwa, raids into enemy territory to destroy property and kill enemy civilians in order to compel submission to Allah. The point of these raids is to get (1) the enemy's main forces to come out from behind their fortifications and attack them and (2) enemy civilians to convert to Islam or submit to Islam as tribute-paying dhimmis. The French can't really cower behind their borders because all of their borders are porous, and the enemy resides within those borders as full citizens of the French state.

Anonymous said...

Don't forget Waugh's Azania.

pat said...

Speaking of Niger. I'm reminded of a famous American diplomat who began his career in Niger and then was posted to Togo, South Africa, Burrundi, Congo, and Gabon. He isn't black. The reason why he was always stuck in these African hell holes seems to have been his level of competency. He was let go by the Sate Department at age 43.

He was Joseph Wilson of the Plame spy outing affair.

If there is a "fast track" in diplomacy Wilson wasn't on it. After being let go he became a consultant - a euphemism for unemployed. His wife, luckily loved him, and threw little African jobs his way. You know the rest.

Albertosaurus

Anonymous said...

No because the right there accurately associates empire and foreign strength with conservatism. Not sure why paleocons think that isolationism is a inherently conservative principle. Probally because older people are crotchey and self righteous.

stari_momak said...

Totally OT, but definitely Sailer bet. Turns out a philosophy Prof. from CSULA (not UCLA) is both owner of 2012 Ken. Derby winner "I'll Have Another", and the dude flooding US in SoCal with all those 'Cash Call' commercials.

Luke Lea said...

Updike could write. His powers of discription are unreal -- or, rather, really real, almost Shakespearian. Just reread or rather listened to an audio version in the car on a long trip of Witches of Eastwick. Together with Couples it is one of his best books, even if they were best sellers.

Luke Lea said...

"West African jihadist group forms 4 'battalions,' names 3 after al Qaeda leaders"

Smart move. Sure way to draw the money in.

not a hacker said...

Seems to me Garcia Marquez, not Borges, ignited the "Latin American boom," such as it was. But anyway, I'm glad to hear the guy wasn't a leftist. Go Minotaurs!

Anonymous said...

No because the right there accurately associates empire and foreign strength with conservatism. Not sure why paleocons think that isolationism is a inherently conservative principle. Probally because older people are crotchey and self righteous.

Younger paleocons have absorbed the left's view that America is the principal source of evil in the modern world. Combined with their ignorance of the world as well of history, it's pretty natural to want to avert their eyes from any potential danger. The lion coming at you might seem a lot less scary if you close your eyes and clap your hands over your ears.

Anonymous said...

Despite what Algerian nationalists and white leftists claim torture was not so widespread in Algeria that the average young lieutenant like Chirac "probably personally tortured Algerian rebels himself".

You're referring to systematic torture where a trained interrogator figures out the minimum level of force needed to get the enemy to reveal the location of arms caches and rebel hideouts. In day-to-day hot pursuit operations, squad and platoon level personnel punched and kicked captives on-site to find out where their compatriots had secreted themselves nearby to avoid the raid.

Anonymous said...

"The reason why he was always stuck in these African hell holes seems to have been his level of competency. He was let go by the Sate Department at age 43."

Iraq, Stuttgart and Washington D.C. are in Africa? Who knew?

Anonymous said...

Dr Van Nostrand said...WWII vet Jimmy Carter botched Iran and Afghanistan while Reagan who had not served

Carter was at Annapolis while WW2 was still in progress. So he could have been said to 'serve' but not in the sense of action.

Reagan was in the army reserve before WW2 began and remained in the military until 1945. So he too served but again didnt see action.


Anonymous said...

One reason France is so involved in Africa is that it doesn't want the countries to slip out of the French-speaking orbit.

Anonymous said...

http://www.aljazeera.com/news/africa/2013/01/201311271925692123.html

In other news, earlier today French special forces were defeated by al Qaeda linked Islamist Somalian militants.

They were attempting to rescue a captured French secret agent, but they were driven off without completing the mission.

Anonymous said...

Haha let the canonization of Joe Wilson begin. Losers of a feather flock together. Is that how it goes?

Anonymous said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rkmXuN4Drko

Early Bergman made in 2 weeks. Considered minor but one of my favs.

Hunsdon said...

Anonydroid at 12:58 pm said: Not sure why paleocons think that isolationism is a inherently conservative principle.

Hunsdon replied: Ah, isolationism! The "i-word" used in conjunction with the "a-word" as a tool to whip us forward!

A neat trick. If we do less than we are doing now, we are "isolationists" and thus "isolated." Poor devils, we! Shirkers! Right wing obstructionists!

And if our (necessary!) foreign interventions go sour, at great cost in blood, treasure and reputation, why, it's only because we didn't try hard enough! (Shirkers!)

I mean, look at Mesopotamia today. What a beautiful place, how have we reformed it, molded it, shaped it in our very image! Why, it's practically Michigan, these days. Or should I choose another M-state, perchance Minnesota?

And Afghanistan. Well, words simply fail me when I contemplate how we have lifted up that backwards province, how we have brought the light of Christian civilization (I mean, Judeo-Christian, please to excuse!) to the natives. I hear there's a new NAMBLA chapter opening up in Kabul.

Given that we have no internal problems in the US, I agree that turning our gaze to foreign problems is a duty we must shoulder. Now that our populace is educated and gainfully employed, now that our infrastructure is in tip-top, bleeding edge SOTA condition, now that we are judged on the content of our character and not the color of our skin, why yes! Intervention!

NOTA said...

Anon 1:56:

Perhaps some neocons wonder what we're getting in exchange for the wealth and lives we're spending on invading the world. The US isn't the font of all evil in the world, nor are there many people past about their sophomore year in college who think so. But we do invade and blow up and topple a hell of a lot of countries, for no apparent benefit to the country, mostly for domestic political reasons. Refraining from most of that stuff would probably make both the US and the wider world much better off.

NOTA said...

Whiskey and his anon sockpuppets are in rare form today. Al Qaida has access to the latest military hardware? And has some kind of super-tough army that performs better than the French army available to help our in Mali? France's cities are all controlled by Muslims? Jihadis kill all the men and enslave the women?

Wow.

Anonymous said...

I have no clue about the strategic significance of Mali, but these stories do seem to have something of the James Bond element about them:

"The Boeing 727 found in northern Mali was registered in Guinea-Bissau but was operating with Nigerian crew under a leasing agreement in Venezuela. The same aircraft also operated regular flights between Colombia and Mali, with drugs as cargo. ... ... a section of the Malian security apparatus was implicated... ...Nearly 60% of the cocaine consumed in Western Europe – with a street value of almost U.S. $18 billion – transits through West Africa. ... ...Drugs smuggling routes through the Sahara desert are an important revenue source for Islamist groups like Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM)."

And:

"The burntout wreck of a Boeing 727 lies abandoned in the Sahara ... ... Coming in on a makeshift runway, it unloaded its cargo and was then destroyed. ... The area of Mali where the plane was discovered is a stomping ground of Islamist militants, Tuareg rebels and smugglers of all kinds."

Reuters is on the case:

Al Qaeda linked to rogue aviation network

"...the U.S. Department of Homeland Security... warned... a growing fleet of rogue jet aircraft was regularly crisscrossing the Atlantic Ocean. On one end of the air route, it said, are cocaine-producing areas in the Andes controlled by the leftist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia. On the other are some of West Africa's most unstable countries. ... ...executive jets and retired Boeing 727s that are flying multi-ton loads of cocaine and possibly weapons to an area in Africa where factions of al Qaeda are believed to be facilitating the smuggling of drugs... ...at least 10 aircraft have been discovered using this air route... One bearing a false Red Cross emblem touched down without authorization onto an unlit strip at Lungi International Airport in Sierra Leone in 2008... ...Boeing 727 landed on an improvised runway using the hard-packed sand of a Tuareg camel caravan route in Mali..."


Who says Mexican innovation isn't among the best?

...retrofitted with additional fuel tanks to allow in-flight refueling -- a technique innovated by Mexico's drug smugglers. (Cartel pilots there have been known to stretch an aircraft's flight range by putting a water mattress filled with aviation fuel in the cabin, then stacking cargoes of marijuana bundles on top to act as an improvised fuel pump.)"

Dr Van Nostrand said...

And if our (necessary!) foreign interventions go sour, at great cost in blood, treasure and reputation, why, it's only because we didn't try hard enough! (Shirkers!)"

The main problem is the terminology of the "wars"-foreign interventions" are not wars in the traditional sense and whose non success should not be chalked up to war.

I mean, look at Mesopotamia today. What a beautiful place, how have we reformed it, molded it, shaped it in our very image! Why, it's practically Michigan, these days. Or should I choose another M-state, perchance Minnesota?"

Ugh...Yes Iraq is hardly a paradise...which is wasnt even when Saddam was alive.As someone who has travelled to Iraq before and after the fall of Saddam, I can tell you the situation in some ways was considerably worse in 1991-2003 during the embargo.
And Saddams reign before the 1st gulf war it was practically a North Korea style police state where random American businessman irrespective of their connections could be randomly siezed and "interogated"

Of course I say none of this to justify an invasion,but I would be careful about comparing todays Mesopatamia(why do self declared clever people insist on using this archaic Greek term, somehow they never to Switzerland as Helvetia!) to that of Saddam's.



And Afghanistan. Well, words simply fail me when I contemplate how we have lifted up that backwards province, how we have brought the light of Christian civilization (I mean, Judeo-Christian, please to excuse!) to the natives. I hear there's a new NAMBLA chapter opening up in Kabul.

Chalk up the failures of Iraq and Afghanistan not to "war" but foreign intervention.

Given that we have no internal problems in the US, I agree that turning our gaze to foreign problems is a duty we must shoulder. Now that our populace is educated and gainfully employed, now that our infrastructure is in tip-top, bleeding edge SOTA condition, now that we are judged on the content of our character and not the color of our skin, why yes! Intervention!"

Your point(s) are noted but your attempt at satire is hardly original and tiresome.No offense.

Anonymous said...

"about 900 years after successfully turning England to a mere annex of its northern district(1066),it failed in a similar goal in a land across in the south"

Two points

1) the Normans (North-Man) weren't ethnic French. They were Viking settlers in Normandy.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rollo

2) they beat the English because they were willing to go all lengths of brutality - more than the late-50s French were prepared to do

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harrying_of_the_North

and because they had the technology to build stone castles, which the English couldn't

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_Tower_%28Tower_of_London%29

Anonymous said...

At least Whisket is consistent. He supports an aggressive foreign regardless the enemy of the day. A whole lot of crotechy paleocons loved it when we sabber rattled at the Soviets/ Russians, but all of a sudden found their inner pacifism when the enemy changed and Israel started maybe benefitting from our agressiveness.

Anonymous said...

At least Whisket is consistent. He supports an aggressive foreign regardless the enemy of the day.

Precisely. From the Revolution, through the land grabs of the 19th century and the Spanish-American War, conservatives have always championed a robust foreign policy. When I think of paleos, what comes to mind is the John Birch Society, not this motley group that feels the US is the primary source of evil in the modern world. And when they mock the saccharine pap about "freedom" being put out for PR purposes, that's just juvenile. We're using the locals as auxiliaries. We can't say to them that the primary reason we're there is to pile up great big heaps of jihadists who are also co-religionists that Muhammad explicitly warned them against killing, especially on behalf of infidels like us, whom Muhammad urge Muslims to kill, convert or force to pay the infidel poll tax.

Anonymous said...

"A whole lot of crotechy paleocons loved it when we sabber rattled at the Soviets/ Russians, but all of a sudden found their inner pacifism when the enemy changed and Israel started maybe benefitting from our agressiveness."

So it's come to this, that you can't be first and foremost for the good'ol USA without incurring mewlings of indignant righteousness and sanctimony? There's a lot of difference between existential threats and optional expeditions on behalf of foreign interests.

Mr. Anon said...

"Anonymous said...

Younger paleocons have absorbed the left's view that America is the principal source of evil in the modern world. Combined with their ignorance of the world as well of history,...."

I know of many paleocons who have far more knowledge, and even direct experience, of the wider world than do many neocons. I also don't know of any of them who think that America is the font of all the world's evil - they do however realize that we are not blameless. America uses it's might and prestige to.....do what, exactly? Bully other nations into accepting feminism, homosexualism, globalism, a juvenile and degraded popular culture. It is not surprising that a lot of people around the world will hate us for those things.

Anonymous said...

I know of many paleocons who have far more knowledge, and even direct experience, of the wider world than do many neocons. I also don't know of any of them who think that America is the font of all the world's evil - they do however realize that we are not blameless. America uses it's might and prestige to.....do what, exactly? Bully other nations into accepting feminism, homosexualism, globalism, a juvenile and degraded popular culture. It is not surprising that a lot of people around the world will hate us for those things.

How exactly does the US bully anyone into accepting feminism, homosexualism, globalism, a juvenile and degraded popular culture? Honor killings continue to go unpunished throughout the Muslim world. In what respect has the US bullied Muslim countries into punishing the troglodytes who carry out these summary executions? I really don't see it. We sell our cultural products, whereas they send mullahs to convert us to infidel-hating Muslims.

We did not interfere in Iraq or Afghanistan as the locals rolled out their versions of the sharia state. With the exception of implementing a popular vote, getting an independent press running, shielding opposition parties from ruling party attack and a few changes to textbooks to justify the American invasion, we left things as they were during the predecessor regimes.

Hunsdon said...

Dr Van Nostrand engaged: The main problem is the terminology of the "wars"-foreign interventions" are not wars in the traditional sense and whose non success should not be chalked up to war.

Hunsdon: I agree. We no longer make a desert and call it peace. But what do we call it when we're militarily engaged, shooting and bombing, if not war?

DVN: And Saddams reign before the 1st gulf war it was practically a North Korea style police state where random American businessman irrespective of their connections could be randomly siezed and "interogated"

Hunsdon: Doubtless that was "enhanced interrogation" and my oh my, why would an American businessman be suspect in the Middle East? I wonder, did the American businessmen shout, "You can't do this to me, I'm an American!" as they were led away?

DVN: Of course I say none of this to justify an invasion,but I would be careful about comparing todays Mesopatamia(why do self declared clever people insist on using this archaic Greek term, somehow they never to Switzerland as Helvetia!) to that of Saddam's.

Hunsdon: a) Iraq conforms to no rational geographic nor ethnographic consistency, b) I still refer to Transoxiana at times, c) it amuses me.

You may not be justifying invasion, but plenty of people have. I wonder what the Iraqis would say, if asked?

DVN: Chalk up the failures of Iraq and Afghanistan not to "war" but foreign intervention.

Hunsdon: As above---if it's not war, what is it? I will repeat a phrase I've used for years, perhaps not here: America's foreign policy is simultaneously far too brutal, and not nearly brutal enough.

DVN: Your point(s) are noted but your attempt at satire is hardly original and tiresome.No offense.

Hunsdon: I shall give your opinion the weight, merit and consideration it deserves.

Hunsdon said...

Anonydroid at 4:11 pm referenced sabber rattling.

Hunsdon: Saber, or sabre, or шабля, or szablya.

NOTA said...

Anon 4:11:

Just as an aside, it's not at all clear that our many foreign interventions in the Arab/Muslim world have benefitted Israel in the least. For example, Iraq is an ally of Iran now, instead of a bitter enemy--that can't be a good outcome for Israelis that want to isolate Iran to keep their regional nuclear monopoly.

Also, could it be that there are, you know, a few important differences between the threat posed by the Soviet Union and the threat posed by jihadis? Like, one was a globe-spanning expansionist empire with frighteningly effective spies and ideological appeal all over the world and a huge nuclear arsenal and a big, tough army, and the other is a bunch of disunified people with handmade bombs and small arms who can't win any wars even when they can unite against a common enemy, which they mostly can't?

Anyway, I don't suppose I quite qualify as a paleocon, but I'm quite willing to accept the claim that the second Iraq war was exactly as well-thought-out as the Vietnam war.

NOTA said...

Anonymous 5:22:

The pap about fighting for freedom isn't for the foreigners we're using as auxillaries. Do you honestly think our alleged allies among the Afghans and Iraqis and Libyas get all misty-eyed thinking abut democracy and freedom? (They probably do get misty-eyed thinking of all the money and equipment the gullible Americans give them, imagining that they are our allies.) That BS is for domestic consumption, to make Americans feel better about both the bloodshed and the costs to America (in money and lives) for our latest foray into some ungovernable third-world hell-hole.

The best way to counter propaganda is to call it out, to point out that it's BS. It is a bad thing all around for people to be convinced that some pointless war carried out for domestic political advantage is somehow a fight for freedom and democracy.

Anonymous said...

The pap about fighting for freedom isn't for the foreigners we're using as auxillaries. Do you honestly think our alleged allies among the Afghans and Iraqis and Libyas get all misty-eyed thinking abut democracy and freedom? (They probably do get misty-eyed thinking of all the money and equipment the gullible Americans give them, imagining that they are our allies.) That BS is for domestic consumption, to make Americans feel better about both the bloodshed and the costs to America (in money and lives) for our latest foray into some ungovernable third-world hell-hole.

The best way to counter propaganda is to call it out, to point out that it's BS. It is a bad thing all around for people to be convinced that some pointless war carried out for domestic political advantage is somehow a fight for freedom and democracy.


Your group of paleos certainly has a mindset different from folks I know, and quite similar to the left. People I know just want to pile those jihadist carcasses up, and don't really give a damn about "freedom". Whack them all and let Allah sort them out. We're traditional big stick conservatives - we don't give a damn if the oceans run red with wog (defined in the British sense of anything across the English channel) blood. Chalk it up to the price of screwing with us.

In my circles, opposition to a continued presence in Afghanistan is increasing because of the fig leaf social worker aspect of it. The sense is that if we dispensed with that, we would have a lot more money to spend on dropping bombs, and lose far fewer men. The finicky lefty sentiments about killing that scum along with their spawn is not traditionally American. We slaughtered the Indians during the winning of the West, shed a few crocodile tears, but nobody really gave a damn - certainly not to the point of seriously prosecuting the players involved.

Dr Van Nostrand said...


Dr Van Nostrand engaged: The main problem is the terminology of the "wars"-foreign interventions" are not wars in the traditional sense and whose non success should not be chalked up to war.

Hunsdon: I agree. We no longer make a desert and call it peace. But what do we call it when we're militarily engaged, shooting and bombing, if not war?

DVN: It is war atleast to those being bombed, not a war in the traditional sense where the meaning of victory was to impose the will of the victor on the defeated in order to further his countrys interests.Right now what we have is a surreal situation where the defeated nations interest(democracy,economy,schools for girls, infrastructure) is the U.S interest and the level of success which these objectives are achieved defines victory or defeat.


DVN: And Saddams reign before the 1st gulf war it was practically a North Korea style police state where random American businessman irrespective of their connections could be randomly siezed and "interogated"

Hunsdon: Doubtless that was "enhanced interrogation" and my oh my, why would an American businessman be suspect in the Middle East? I wonder, did the American businessmen shout, "You can't do this to me, I'm an American!" as they were led away?

DVN: The point was not to evoke an American sense of entitlement but a regime which was random and capricious in its tyranny and thats what terrified its residents.And yes it was normal for Americans to do business in Iraq.In the 80s it was quite ahem kosher!

Hunsdon: a) Iraq conforms to no rational geographic nor ethnographic consistency, b) I still refer to Transoxiana at times, c) it amuses me.

DVN: Not a lot of Mid east nations do but for that matter many European nations at point in time especially in the Balkans!

You may not be justifying invasion, but plenty of people have. I wonder what the Iraqis would say, if asked?

DVN: I can answer that having met many Iraqi refugees in Kuwait and Dubai in 2003 waiting to go back,they had said:Thank you very much for getting rid of this gangster but please secure the borders,get the utilities back on ,impose security and help us get a less odious strongman there and please please get out in a year.And these are not just Shias and Kurds.Christians(who preferred Saddam in general) and Sunnis suffered due to his defiance which led to sanctions and much hardship



Hunsdon: As above---if it's not war, what is it? I will repeat a phrase I've used for years, perhaps not here: America's foreign policy is simultaneously far too brutal, and not nearly brutal enough.

DVN: As I mentioned above,war as social work model has to die.Is it any wonder U.S has not won a war in the traditional sense since WWII? Of course because the U.S hasnt FOUGHT a traditional war since WWII ,all of its "engagements"(note the euphemism) has been atleast partly on the behest of a foreign power ,not its own interests.

DVN: Your point(s) are noted but your attempt at satire is hardly original and tiresome.No offense.

Hunsdon: I shall give your opinion the weight, merit and consideration it deserve

DVN: Oh well

Hunsdon said...

DVN: As I mentioned above,war as social work model has to die.Is it any wonder U.S has not won a war in the traditional sense since WWII? Of course because the U.S hasnt FOUGHT a traditional war since WWII ,all of its "engagements"(note the euphemism) has been atleast partly on the behest of a foreign power ,not its own interests.

Hunsdon: Hear, hear, sir. I most heartily agree.

DVN: I can answer that having met many Iraqi refugees in Kuwait and Dubai in 2003 waiting to go back,they had said:Thank you very much for getting rid of this gangster but please secure the borders,get the utilities back on ,impose security and help us get a less odious strongman there and please please get out in a year.And these are not just Shias and Kurds. Christians(who preferred Saddam in general) and Sunnis suffered due to his defiance which led to sanctions and much hardship.

Hunsdon: I wonder if they'd still sing the same song. (I doubt it.) If we had shown any inclination or capacity to perform as the Iraqis you referenced wished, I should have been less opposed to the Iraqi Fiasco.

It is one of those things that amuses me, in a bitter way, that American Christians are so eager to pursue policies which lead to the genocide of Christians in the Middle East.

NOTA said...

Anon 1:32:

Seems to me you're buying a different brand of propaganda--one that justifies an endless war that isn't actually doing us any good.

What do you think we're gaining, at this point, with the next hundred Afghans we kill? Or the next year we hold down territory in that godawful hole? If we pile jihadi corpses to the tops of the trees, what do we gain? (Most of the "jihadis" are random spear-carriers we blow up because their warlord backed the wrong horse.)

One interesting aspect about successful propaganda campaigns is that they are often multi-pronged. You don't provide one happy story justifying what you're doing, you provide a dozen, often mutually contradictory, which justify it. We're blowing up Muslims to keep America safe, and to protect Israel, and to further causes of democracy and individual rights, and to maintain our place in the world, and to scare them so they won't bother us again, and ten other justifications. And probably there is some small grain of truth in each justification, but mainly, they're all bullshit.

In my darker moments, I suspect a lot of what policies we pursue are more-or-less random--the vector sum of interest group pressures, polling numbers, political considerations, media attention, and who had a bad day or who misspoke and then felt like he had to spin it out into a policy. We're continuing to occupy Afghanistan largely because we're continuing to occupy Afghanistan.

Anonymous said...

What do you think we're gaining, at this point, with the next hundred Afghans we kill? Or the next year we hold down territory in that godawful hole? If we pile jihadi corpses to the tops of the trees, what do we gain? (Most of the "jihadis" are random spear-carriers we blow up because their warlord backed the wrong horse.)

In a word, deterrence. Arab/Muslim terrorists have been attacking American civilians for the last 5 decades. It's time they understood that the price of doing so is their deaths and the deaths of all of their comrades, and any relatives or friends in the vicinity. The message sent by bin Laden's killing was that we will find and kill those who perpetrate these attacks on US soil, even if it takes a decade to do so.

The Romans would have settled for nothing less than some combination of physical extermination, selling the losers into slavery and forced exile, but that's progress for you. My preferred solution to 9/11 would have been 100 nukes dropped on Pashtun-dominated areas in Afghanistan, and that might have become an option had 100K Americans in fact been killed on that day. Ultimately, our wars on the ummah are a long-winded way of saying "do this again and prepare to die in large numbers".

We have fought a lot of foreign wars and killed millions of enemy troops. Arab/Muslim terrorists are the first to have deliberately slaughtered large numbers of our civilians on our own soil without us being at war with them. If this goes on, we need to revive chivalric customs such as the tactic of the chevauchee (the Western equivalent of the ghazwa), with the fillip that we just burn everything to the ground along with their inhabitants until they face us in a stand-up battle.

Dr Van Nostrand said...


Hunsdon: I wonder if they'd still sing the same song. (I doubt it.) If we had shown any inclination or capacity to perform as the Iraqis you referenced wished, I should have been less opposed to the Iraqi Fiasco.

DVN: Im still in touch with some of them.
For them it is (barely) a net positve only because they have accepted that Iraq is no longer a quasi cosmopolitan society where the various sectarian and ethnic groups enjoyed mostly a brutal equality.Case in point, when my dad worked in Iraq his secretary was an Iraqi Christian(Assyrian).Her brother was sent to jail because he slapped his Sunni boss when the latter grabbed his Bible and stepped on it.The brother was sentenced to six months in jail for assault.. and that would be the end of the story in another Arab country but....in Iraq the boss was given a year in jail for insulting religious sentiments.

And note that most of them dont sing the same song only because their wish list wasnt realized! There was nothing in there about democracy and elections!
Infrastructure is still in shambles,water supply is intermittent(in the 80s the water provision and quality was comparable to West European utlities)


Hundson:It is one of those things that amuses me, in a bitter way, that American Christians are so eager to pursue policies which lead to the genocide of Christians in the Middle East.

DVN: Oh you dont know the half of it.I have personally seen the pain and loss of historical heritage of my Iraqi Christian friends (and Lebanese and Palestinian Christians as well).

As for U.S policy with regard to ME Christians- a wise man once said never attribute to malice what you can to incompetence.
And this explains U.S actions more than any Zionist cabal in Washington theory.
The prevailing wisdom before 2006 being that Arabs are dysfunctional because they lack freedom (ie elections??!!) ,give it to them and watch Netherlands bloom on the Tigris!
In this rose tinted view of the blood soaked mud swamps of the fertile valley(s) they forget that the Iraqis are the problem of which Saddam is but a symptom.
Giving power to the Arab masses will lead to more tyranny and not less.
I thought as painful and expensive as the experiences of Iraq were , atleast this lesson was learnt by both parties(fools like Lieberman and Mccain aside)

But our Messiah Obama apparently thinks the new bottle of Arab spring can enhance the flavor of this stale wine of Arab democracy.

And we have the success stories of Libya and Egypt and soon Syria.

Dr Van Nostrand said...


1) the Normans (North-Man) weren't ethnic French. They were Viking settlers in Normandy."


Oh come on! They had been in France for more than 200 years which is more than most Americans can claim in America.
This shouldnt discount their Americanness anymore than these naturalized Norman French shouldnt consider themselves French.

They viewed themselves as agents of Christian civilization and French chivalry ought to tame the savage Angles.

A good part of the Norman army was composed of Welsh and their cross channel cousins Bretons who were still seething about the Saxon invasions and saw the conquest of England as payback.

France was already a sort of mongrel of Germanic Franks(who bequeathed their name for posterity) and Gallo Romanic culture.

And those soldiers fighting in Algeria ranged from blonde to Arab brunette.
Even today one can find incredibly swarthy types in not just southern France who can claim French blood with zero Arab or Amazigh contribution.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rollo

2) they beat the English because they were willing to go all lengths of brutality - more than the late-50s French were prepared to do

Actually the French in Algeria like U.S in Vietnam never really lost a battle but lost the war due to it unpopularity back home.

I think was Robert Young Pelton(author of the flawd but interesting Worlds Most Dangerous Places) who quipped "Algeria wouldve been referred to as France's "Vietnam" had it not been for the fact that Vietnam was also France's "Vietnam""

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harrying_of_the_North

and because they had the technology to build stone castles, which the English couldn't"

Beowulf aside, what exactly did pre Norman English culture have to offer to the world?



http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_Tower_%28Tower_of_London%29

NOTA said...

Well, it didn't take long till we discovered a need to stick a hand in. This story is a beginning to what could easily become yet another ungovenable hell-hole we somehow must police. An ungoverned area the size of Australia, a century of armed rebellion on ethnic lines, lots of drug trade. What a great sausage grinder to stick our dicks in. What could be more sensible?

At a guess, the majority of pundits who spout off about this will not have the faintest clue about Mali, will know nothing of its history or geography or politics beyond maybe a couple newspaper stories and maybe if they're really industrious, the Wikipedia article on Mali. And this will not inhibit them in the least from having and expressing firm opinions about how someone else's kids should be sent over there to set the place to rights.

Now, there will be some hippies and cowards who ask what the hell business we have in sub-saharan Africa, or whether anyone involved in planning our next overseas adventure has ever, say, been to Mali, or knows anything much about it. Some unpatriotic idiots will wonder whether a country running record-sized deficits every year can afford to get tangled up in yet another horrible guerilla war. There are even a few people so lacking in decency that they will wonder if there is much reason for us to care who is on top in Mali, and some so lacking in faith in our invincible army that they will suspect that even after occupying some horrible place for a decade, we might not actually make it into anything much different than it was to start with.

Not to worry. Our absolutely reliable media will not waste any time discussing such ideas or talking to such people, and our highly-informed, principled political leaders will certainly not be listening to them.

NOTA said...

Anon 2:56:

Your explanation isn't consistent with any of our policies, and frankly doesn't make much sense.

a. We kill a lot of Muslims in our wars, but the wars all involve local Muslim allies, and the goal is always to leave a friendlier Muslim government behind. (To the extent we intend this by winning hearts and minds, it's probably hopeless, but to the extent we keep them friendly with bribes and credible threats, it can probably work well enough.).

b. Our wars in Iraq and Libya weren't retaliating for anything either country had done to us. Libya had even become friendlier to the US, including turning over their nuclear weapons program and torturing some captives on our behalf. Helping topple Libya was like anti-deterrence, announcing that we will turn even on people going out of their way to keep us happy, as soon as the political winds shift.

c. Most fundamentally, it's idiotic to think in terms of deterring the whole Muslim world, or retaliating against Muslims in Africa for attacks done by Muslims in Asia or some such thing. It doesn't work as deterrence, any more than getting mad at the US and so setting off a bomb in Warsaw makes sense.