Thursday, April 22, 2004

Land of a thousand battles, cradle of civilization: Iraq

Suffering Suckatashs, What a Predicament!

Needlenose web-blog has a discussion about the awesome essay that Billmon wrote on his blog.

Billmon has three "must-read" paragraphs:
The fact that realism has been pushed to the fringes of the political debate says a lot about America's collective mental condition. Sanity isn't very popular these days -- not for those desperate to rescue Israel from its demographic predicament, or for those dreaming of a world that looks "just like us," and certainly not for a president who believes he's God's vice-gerent on earth, or for the 15%-20% of the population that's counting down the days until the Rapture.

We seem to have reached the point where a half-baked strategy for endless war in the Middle East is actually easier to sell politically than a sensible energy policy, an end to American subservience to worst instincts of the Israeli national security state, and a focused campaign to destroy Al Qaeda while drying up the pools of hatred in which jihad festers and grows.

Clausewitz, that ultimate realist, once said that "he who neglects the possible in quest of the impossible is a fool." That just might end up being the epitaph for America's imperial adventure in the Middle East.
[emphasis added]

Phil Carter at Intel Dump has a discussion about over-reach and the "D"-word. We are fast becoming boiled frogs. (CSM)

The problems may compound in that according to Col Lounsbury's bitter mood we are already seeing an increased destablization of Jordan to accompany Saudi Arabia's descent into murky territory.

Oldman himself has blogged about some of these questions and for a sample post (including a reference to "Fog of War") look here.


First any problem needs to be broken down. Certainly we already know what to do. Ideas have been posted here, elsewhere, etc. Indeed, the question is almost academically and historically trivial. In the words of McNamara himself:

"As I told you, I am not going to comment on President Bush," McNamara said, patting his briefcase. "I refer you again to the 11 principles. You apply them! …You don't need me to point out the target. You're smart enough!"

Indeed the whole situation is not a historical or sociological or scientific one. What "needs to be done" is quite clear. The entire question is cultural and political. Have we as Americans so far lost touch with reality that we can no longer reconnect sufficiently to avoid or curtail disaster? If we can or can't, it's all up to us to avert disaster.


Greenbody recently joked in response to my last post regarding: "How about a bake-sale for the troops? Or maybe gun aficianados can donate one or two pieces from their gun collection to the troops."

Actually I think this is a grand idea, though we need to formalize it a bit. In light of our government's shameful refusal to do the right thing by our troops, I think we can get some good PR for shaming the government by starting a "Buy a soldier body-armor" donation fund.

Now I've never done anything like that before, and don't know how to get it organized. But if we could get a national campaign going, I would certainly put in some time and money. I've personally donated to police officer body-armor funds before, so this is nothing new to me. We could probably get military families involved to help organize and distribute it in a lottery style system.

In addition, I've been thinking about boots. Your typical military boot might look something like this.

However, this is clearly leading to all sorts of injury like this with injuries to arms, legs, and eyes.

I think a great place to start would be to get into production a better boot.

Now special multi-layer Kevlar already exists in boots to diminish chain-saw injuries.

We'd want stitch-down sole construction, and a hidden inside zipper "covered by a Velcro flap". The last model listed even has titanium leg-sliders for crash protection.

Indeed we already know how to create boots with reinforcement for things like race crashes. Now just replace with a steel-titanium mix and standard features like a "steel-toe" to keep things light and strong and away you go! We could also add goretex to make it "breathable". We could also treat it to be fire-resistant.

I think it would be possible to put together a hi-tech combat boot for about $500 that would significantly cut down on lower leg extremity amputations.

One could imagine an updated fore arm bracers combined with shooting gloves (fingerless version). And yes, they have them in goretex as well.

We could probably produce a decent set of fore-arm protection (with titanium reinforcement) and shooting glove that would retail for less than $100 a pair. Remember that body armor (types) have already saved many lives. Body armor as Kaplan discovers can be quite expensive however. (The Atlantic)

Now designing, producing, and marketing new body armor for feet and hands, or creating a non-profit donation fund to just buy body armor for our troops might seem to be a tangential sort of thing to do.

However it has three benefits.
(a) It can be done now.
(b) It will help our troops.
(c) It will buy instant credibility for future discussions.

And this is what is missing most in the cultural and political discussion regarding our rather botched middle-east policy. (i) People don't know who to trust (ii) People are looking for somebody who can get the job done.

It strikes me that creating such products and a donation fund for body armor would shame our government in a very straight forward fashion. It would expose them to the general public for the callous bastards that they really are.

If any one has more ideas about how to accomplish this or contacts in the boot making industry, they can contact me at:

oldman (at)

That's right, the oldman is trying out the gmail thingy and has already claimed the "oldman" address. Sucks for all the other old duffs and gaffers out there that I beat them to it.

Until next time,


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