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August 18, 2021

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My sister's comment on the robot was "Well, there go the Olympics!" Current models seem unlikely to float enough to compete in swimming. But otherwise?

The big question would seem to be: Do they compete in Men's or Women's sports? Based on what?

The robots! OMG!

Ran across this article at the Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/aug/16/lake-mead-drought-reservoir-water-level-cuts

…which talks about mandated cuts in water allowances for states downstream of the ongoing drought conditions. It dovetails perfectly with one of the cli fi stories that I teach:
https://windupstories.com/books/pump-six-and-other-stories/the-tamarisk-hunter/

Bleak stuff.

Which reminded me of what one of my FB friends wrote the other day - that (cis het) folks who refuse vaccines and masks would rather die than change and that the gay community already got this wakeup call with AIDS and that the community that emerged from that crisis was one committed to survival.

Welcome to the pressure cooker.


What color silicone?

Remember: they will have to go into public facilities and say "Charge me" at some point.

--TP

What color silicone?

The wonder of silicone is that you can just swap it out for a different color. Whether for raw aesthetics or for any other reason. Drive the color-obsessives nuts, no doubt.

mandated cuts in water allowances for states downstream of the ongoing drought conditions.

Anybody with the least grip on reality knew this day was coming for the Southwest. We live in a desert. Sahel-like at best. But we persist in having big green lawns like we were living in a climate like east of the Mississippi. And building new suburbs, for more people, with the same big lawns.

Arizona will likely be the first to go (although Las Vegas might be a close second). I figure it will be back to its pre-Lake Mead population before mid-century. All the drought will do is speed up the process a little.

LA and the rest of Southern California may be able to muster the resources for massive-scale ocean desalination facilities. But even if they do, those lawns will have to go. As for the rest of California, anybody who invested in almond orchards and other water-intensive crops is likely looking at bankruptcy. It's not like the climate is going to return to early 1900s conditions. And even if it did, we're probably above the long-term sustainable population.

Texas friends shared the dress code info earlier tonight. I always reacted to dress codes as small minded oppression (when not also infused with sexist attitudes). So in the spirit of intellectual consistency, I hope Abbot moves to abolish all dress codes.

in the spirit of intellectual consistency, I hope Abbot moves to abolish all dress codes.

I expect that he will go with a more focused approach. Just ban dress codes from including masks, but leave them otherwise in place. Otherwise who knows what awful attire those kids would come up with?

wj,

My school, like all schools in Finland, had no dress code. The only limitations on attire were the general precepts of criminal law, prohibiting indecent exposure.

We had a couple of punk fans, who were Iroquis, long greatcoats decorated with anarchy symbols and needles and wild makeup. They were tolerated a bit like adherents of a weird religious sect. One guy wore skinhead uniform of pilot jacket and boots, with similar toleration. Otherwise, people's attire was mainline normal. Maybe, in August or May, some girls might wear tank tops revealing their navels, but what's the problem?

In general, teenagers will wear things that are part of normal youth culture, so the clothing they wear is not wilder than that worn on the street. If you don't make it a point to enforce arbitrary morality on the youngsters, they will live in accordance with the normal morality of the society.

Sorry, for some reason, I put number 2 there in the name field. It was me.

I would like to make this a post, but probably better as a comment.

The Japanese vax effort is basically two pronged. Government (on the prefectural or ward level) are doing Pfizer, which requires special refrigerations, other groups are doing Moderna. Not sure how to define the other groups, but here in Kumamoto, some examples are a bank and all of the companies they deal with and the major department store in town. Here's an article about one such place in Tokyo that I hope you can see
https://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2021/08/18/issues/tokyo-american-club-covid-vaccines/

(if you can't, save the page as html and then drop in the web browser and you can read it)

Someone else pointed out that there is an element of classism, which is true, but you have to not let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

So a lot of these larger businesses have set up vax centers, which then has them vax all their employees and their families as well.

But, with the Delta variant, there were several clusters in major department stores in Osaka and Tokyo, despite extensive vax programs. What happened?

[quick note, a department store in Japan is a bit different, read here for more
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Department_stores_in_Japan )


Well, a lot of the department stores have outsourced various things, so a person from Sapporo beer will make sure that the beer aisle is displaying Sapporo, or the Hugo Boss corner will have someone employed by the company. And these folks weren't included in the program. So whoops!

Fortunately, the department store here, while a big employer in town and which does employ people on this sort of scheme, offered the jab to anyone who worked at the department store and their family members.

discuss.

I've just about worn out my welcome in the other thread and will be heading back to lukerdom after this post, but w/r/t western water restrictions, I'll make a couple of points ...

First, 80% of the Colorado River is used for agriculture. Farmers have a disproportionate impact on politics, but when the fight comes, I'll put my money on the much more numerous retirees who vote and have a significant portion of their wealth in their golf course tract homes. Plus, agriculture's success in keeping their taxes low will work against them. State governments will always act to protect their tax base and the numbers weigh very heavily in favor of home owners. In other words, I don't see massive depopulation in the cards unless it simply gets too hot to live in some of these places.

Second, the root problem here is in the eff'ed up prior appropriation water rights in use out west. I think this issue has been covered here before, but that's why you'd see developers building stupid fountains and green lawns in the first place. It wasn't just because they were evil, it was because PAWR created a huge incentive to use as much water as possible, as quickly as possible. I'm waiting to see if the libertarians have their way and PAWR's morph into a true market system for water use, or it gets scraped altogether and water is treated like a public resource controlled by the state.

I've just about worn out my welcome in the other thread

Well, I don't think so, so that and 1.75 will get you a starbucks. I mean, I disagree with you, but you are still welcome.

The whole fight about water is pretty interesting to me for two reasons. The first is that I did grad work on Native American languages, and went out to the Klamath reservation, where the question of water rights is quite heated
https://www.statesmanjournal.com/story/news/2021/08/08/theres-not-enough-klamath-river-water-meet-everyones-needs/5489669001/

A second reason is that here in Kyushu, one of the only places that is increasing in population is Fukuoka, the neighboring prefecture. However, people acknowledge that a limiting factor may be water, but there is no way to stop the population growing. I don't think you have the severe issues that you have in the US West, but it is good to know what is happening in other places.

I've just about worn out my welcome in the other thread

dude, no way! glad to hear your voice here again.

so, between lj and me, that makes two lattes for you! but I suspect we aren't the only ones.

well played by the Paris TX Independent schools.

the Boston Dynamic robots have found a weird sweet spot previously only occupied by the best horror movies - entertaining, funny, and disturbing as hell.

drought in the southwest is just the canary in the coal mine. gonna be a lot of changes coming our way, and we're not even close to ready for them.

welcome to the pressure cooker, indeed.

a lot of people think those Boston Dynamics videos are fake.

i tend to think they're real because, if they're fake, the CGI is better than any i've seen and the company should be in the CGI biz.

My school, like all schools in Finland, had no dress code.

I believe that schools around here are down to basically:

  • No gang paraphernalia (actually that's the state education code)
  • underwear should not be visible
  • dresses or shorts must be at least fingertip length.
(The latter is a change from when I was in school. Then, no shorts and no pants for girls. Skirt had to be knee length.)

Somehow I suspect requirements in Texas may be narrower.

Is PdM being thin-skinned or a twinkie? (I kid! That's a poke at McKinney, creepily plumbed guy that he is.)

Even though I didn't comment, I had similar thoughts as those others expressed, but they didn't remotely amount to wearing out your welcome, PdM. Not for me, at least.

Thirded or fourthed on the message to PdM to stick around.

Plumbed and plumbing, this finally has me look up why those two words would be linked.

https://wikidiff.com/plumb/plumbing

https://www.etymonline.com/word/plumbing
mid-15c., "the weighting of a fishing line," verbal noun from plumb (v.). In early Modern English "the art of casting and working in lead." Specific meaning "water and drainage pipes and other apparatus used for conveying water through a building" is recorded by 1875, American English.

THE apparatus by which the water from a reservoir is carried about over a building and delivered at points convenient for use, is called by the general name of plumbing. The word "plumbing" means lead-work; and it is used to signify this water apparatus of a house because the pipes of which it largely consists are usually made of lead. [Edward Abbott, "Long Look House: A Book for Boys and Girls," Boston, 1877]
Alternative plumbery for "lead-work" (also "a building in which lead-work is done") also is mid-15c. The slang meaning "a person's reproductive organs" is attested by 1975.

Just in case you were wondering. Though I do think 1975 seems a bit late.

FFS people. I’m not going anywhere ... been lurking at this site since 2005 … I’ve been with you all along.

Besides, the Void Between Worlds is a closed shop pocket universe and inter-dimensional poultry are required to join the EEU*. Ever since we elected Candyman and Beetlejuice to leadership, they’ve forced all of us to abide by the “summoned upon saying name *n* times rule”.

So I’ll continue to post occasionally until I piss off Janie which breaks the enchantment. Union management is terrified of her.


* Eldritch Entity Union

Chemical symbol for lead being Pb from the Latin plumbum.

I want to know how those Iroquis wound up in Finland.

Was it an exchange program with Vikings in Minnesota?

OED dates Plumbing D. (the tubular organs of the body) to 1942 and has it in the dictionary of American slang by the 1960s.

The advent of indoor plumbing has saved more than a few lives from lightning.

Farmers have a disproportionate impact on politics, but when the fight comes, I'll put my money on the much more numerous retirees who vote and have a significant portion of their wealth in their golf course tract homes.

Good luck with that. Not sure how much influence the voters or their elected representatives are going to have over the agreements negotiated by the Colorado River Compact.

I expect that the coming water use conflict will attract flies like the Bundys and their 3%er minions, but they will only side with the farmers in Arizona and not with the golf course community developers.

Could get very weird if the feds and the Native American Nations with water rights have to team up to try to pacify the renegade bands of whites who are violating the treaties.

Bundy wannabes vs. HOA Karen.

I'll still put my wager on the retirees.

In the end, those agreements with the CRC are contingent on a certain minimum number of acre feet being delivered to various borders which may never happen again our lifetimes. If the HOA Karens don't get the farmers, then AGW will.

I'm sure someone [calling Michael Cain] knows a lot about this, but I remember seeing a documentary about the allocation of water from, and the building of dams along the Colorado from many years ago. Can't find the exact source but here's something close enough from Wikipedia:

The high water usage has also caused the Colorado River Delta, located in Mexico, to significantly deteriorate. Once a lush and green area from the high amounts of silt deposit, the plentiful ecosystem has now all but disappeared. The Colorado River had been over allocated since the beginning of its time, as during the signing of the Colorado River Compact, the flows were vastly overestimated and much more generous than they should have been. It was originally estimated to have 17 million acre-feet a year, but even prior to the drought flows have often been less than a third of that.[12]

The way I remember it from the documentary, probably 40 or so years ago, is that the allocations were made from a measurement of water flow that was discovered later (from tree ring studies) to have been the highest in 400 years.

OED dates Plumbing D. (the tubular organs of the body) to 1942 and has it in the dictionary of American slang by the 1960s.

Well I never heard it til McKinney used it, and I blame him.

From the New Yorker article referenced in my Wikipedia quote at 5:06:

The compact granted 7.5 million acre-feet per year to each basin. (An acre-foot is the amount of water that would cover an acre to a depth of a foot—roughly three hundred and twenty-five thousand gallons.) The total was based on estimates by hydrologists that the average annual flow of the Colorado was at least seventeen million acre-feet a year. Subsequent studies, including tree-ring analyses, have proved that the hydrologists were wrong. It’s now known that the years on which the original estimates were based, in the early twentieth century, had been the wettest since the sixteen-hundreds, and that 1922, the year of the agreement, was one of the very wettest."

Well I never heard it til McKinney used it, and I blame him.

I've heard "plumbing" used that way quite a few times over the years. Maybe it's an Americanism...?

I've heard "plumbing" used that way quite a few times over the years. Maybe it's an Americanism...?

What *other* euphemism would you use, if not "plumbing"?

"a series of tubes"? Well, that does seem to be the secondary purpose of the internet.

The primary purpose, of course, is CATS.

I always think of "inner tube" when I see the word "intertubes." Makes about as much sense as anything else. In fact, not knowing the origin, I thought it might be a plan on inner tube.

plan s/b play

where's my proofreader

I looked it up before, but did I put it here? In faulkner, Caddy gets pregnant, Quentin loses it and starts blustering and the Compson patriarch says something like 'What did you think she was going to do, run water thru it the rest of her life?' I thought it was Sound and the Fury (pub 1929), but I can't find it.

Human plumbing was designed by a civil engineer...

Since it's a open thread:

https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2021/08/liberal-democracy-worth-fight/619833/

I approve this piece.

it's over. the neocon hawks had their chance, and then another chance, and then another and another and another for 40 fucking Friedman units worth of chance after chance after chance after surge after surge.

it was a stupid idea, an the execution was worse.

and now Applebaum et al in the neocon hawkosphere are afraid we will lose our drive to stumble into new and equally stupid blunders, and then China and Russia will take over the world! no they won't, they'll stumble into exactly the same kinds of blunders as we and they have before.

nation building doesn't work.

[ the one time everybody likes to say it did work (Axis post-WWII) wasn't nation building, it was nation rehabilitation. those countries were already stable and modernized. ]

and now Applebaum et al in the neocon hawkosphere are afraid we will lose our drive to stumble into new and equally stupid blunders, and then China and Russia will take over the world! no they won't, they'll stumble into exactly the same kinds of blunders as we and they have before.

You realize this is not all what she is saying? She is talking about *defending* liberal democracy. But, I think your side will win this argument. Taiwan will eventually fall, who knows what the rest of Asia will do. When it happens, your side will hand waive it off as either having been inevitable or someone else's fault.

And, nation building worked fine in post WWII Germany and Japan. And S Korea.

Maybe the Russians but definitely the Chinese will see no need to 'remake' countries as far as export of their political model is concerned. Favorable trade deals (with preferably highly corrupt authoritarian regimes of any stripe) sound like a far better thing.
Direct meddling is better confined to the buffer zone of direct neighbours.

You realize this is not all what she is saying? She is talking about *defending* liberal democracy

well of course she is. "defending liberal democracy" is the slogan they've always used.

That’s also why the phenomenon of liberal internationalism—or “neocon internationalism” if you don’t like it—exists: Because sometimes only guns can prevent violent extremists from taking power. Yet many people in the liberal democratic world, perhaps most people, don’t want to believe this. They have long found these tools either too distasteful or too expensive. Like Ban Ki-moon and his many imitators, they sometimes even pretend that these tools are not necessary at all, because conflicts can be resolved by “talks” and “dialogue” and “cultural exchange.”

oh those wacky clowns who think maybe invasion and occupation, under the banner of "defending liberal democracy", is the best answer! when will they ever learn?

she's a neocon hawk and she's upset that people look at the ridiculous failure of the entire Afghanistan fiasco and think "hey, maybe military intervention isn't the best answer?"

We might not want any of this to be true. We might prefer a different world, one where we can stay out of their way and they will stay out of ours. But that’s not the world that we live in. In the real world, the battle to defend liberal democracy is sometimes a real battle, a military battle, not merely an ideological battle. It cannot always be fought with language, arguments, conferences, or diplomacy, or by deploying human-rights organizations, UN declarations, and fierce EU statements of concern. Or rather, you can try to fight it that way, but you will lose.

well, she's dead wrong.

the track record of neocon-style military intervention is dismal. it just ends up killing a lot of people, burning a bunch of money, and leaving countries in chaos.

it's over.

FFS

is the best answer! = isn't the best answer!

McTx: And, nation building worked fine in post WWII Germany and Japan. And S Korea.

At the risk of stating the obvious ...

Yes, nation building works when: (1) the nation is united with a strong national identity as opposed to being torn into factions (e.g., among ethnic groups); (2) local people are available to take over most of the basic tasks of government (e.g., Germany and Japan kept most civil servants and bureaucrats on their jobs); (3) the country is economically developed; and (4) there is a history of constitutional rule and the effective rule of law limiting government power.

No one seriously thought that Iraq or Afghanistan fit these criteria.

Vietnam had a chilling effect on the hawks for about 15 years. Here's hoping we get another reprieve even if it is short-lived.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R5mAuPg1ZZw

Yes, nation building works when: (1) the nation is united with a strong national identity as opposed to being torn into factions (e.g., among ethnic groups); (2) local people are available to take over most of the basic tasks of government (e.g., Germany and Japan kept most civil servants and bureaucrats on their jobs); (3) the country is economically developed; and (4) there is a history of constitutional rule and the effective rule of law limiting government power.

So, Taiwan qualifies as worthy of our efforts?

Maybe the Russians but definitely the Chinese will see no need to 'remake' countries as far as export of their political model is concerned. Favorable trade deals (with preferably highly corrupt authoritarian regimes of any stripe) sound like a far better thing.

Of course, the PRC isn't expanding its military because it would ever actually use it nor does it have any designs on those who depart from PRC orthodoxy. It just needs a place to park cash while waiting for a better investment opportunity. Just ask the Uighurs. Or citizens of Hong Kong. Or the stupid liberal democrats of Tiananmen Square.

We don't have to prop up Syria to defend Taiwan or S Korea. Nuance.

Oh, are we libz all back to being in love with the commies in China again? Weeee!!!

McTX: So, Taiwan qualifies as worthy of our efforts?

Taiwan is already "built". It represents a strategic cost/benefit analysis.

As for the PRC's military spending, I don't have a crystal ball, but we know that the hawks *greatly* over emphasized the USSR's actual ambitions. Whether that was out of an abundance of caution or a desire to increase MIC budgets is open for debate (just barely).

As for the PRC's military spending, I don't have a crystal ball, but we know that the hawks *greatly* over emphasized the USSR's actual ambitions.

A debatable point. The Warsaw Pact, at its height, had a huge balance of forces in its favor. Over time, that changed and the USSR began to fold internally due to the world's shittiest economic system. Plus Gorbechev.

But, if you're going to say, "the Hawks misapprehended the Soviet expansionist desire", then what are you going to say about the pre WWII doves? Seems to me, calculated unpreparedness has a much higher body count than any of the post 9/11 US interventions.

And, to close this out, suppose your crystal ball turns out the be made out of plastic and the PRC *does* move on Taiwan. Will the PDM position be, "Damn. Sorry about that. I guess you're screwed. Oh well, moving on . . . ".

Yes, Taiwan's position is certainly a problem, but the thing is, no one is proposing (I hope!) trying to nation-build in China to prevent Taiwan from falling.

Nuance, it's not just for the other side.

a brief and no doubt overly simplistic recent history of Afghanistan:

beginning from 1933, Afghanistan was ruled by a king, Zahir Shah. during his reign, Afghanistan established reasonably good relations with other countries, remaining neutral in both WWII and the Cold War, and made modest but steady progress toward becoming a modern nation. in 1964, Afghanistan became a constitutional monarchy, with a democratically elected parliament and guaranteed rights for citizens, notably including women. governance under the constitution was not particularly effective, because of ongoing tensions between parliament and the king's cabinet.

In 1973, while the king was out of the country getting treatment for medical conditions, he was deposed in a bloodless coup by prime minister Mohammed Daoud Khan, who became president. Governance under Khan was secular and generally progressive, but also characterized by problematic foreign policy.

Khan was assassinated in 1978 and his government replaced by the People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan in a coup called the Saur Revolution. The PDPA were also secular and progressive, but were also kind of hard-ass and generally unpopular in more rural and traditional areas of the country. That led to a lot of unrest, and ultimately drew the Soviets in in December 1978.

That led to nine years of brutal war and the rise of the mujahedin as a counter-force to the Soviet army. It also led to our sponsorship of the mujahedin, notably including the Taliban, through money, arms, and intelligence support.

Enemy of my enemy and all that.

The Soviet adventure in Afghanistan ended in February of 1989.

From that point, I'm not sure there was a functional national government. It was mostly tribal factions and warlords. Most of the infrastructure of the country was damaged or destroyed, and there was a more or less continuous series of civil wars between tribal factions.

That gave Al Qaeda safe haven, which led to our invasion in 2001. With our sponsorship, a national government was established with Hamid Karzai as president, followed by Asraf Ghani in 2014, but the national governments of this period were notoriously corrupt and for practical purposes Afghanistan continued to be riven by tribal and regional conflict and warlordism.

All of this is the armchair Wikipedia version, and I'm sure I haven't done justice to a complex story, but I think it gets the gist.

I'm not sure where in all of that the western liberal democracies were supposed to step in with their money and guns and make a hundred flowers bloom. We did make the attempt, and it arguably made things much, much worse, see also a decade of direct support to the very people we now decry as theocratic misogynistic thugs.

Not saying they aren't theocratic misogynistic thugs, just saying we were more than fine with all of that when we thought it aligned with our strategic national interest.

I take Applebaum's point that sometimes force is the only thing that will stop oppressive tyranny. But if my characterization of the reality on the ground in Afghanistan over the last 50 years is stupidly simple, hers is orders of magnitude more so.

We need to stop thinking we can tell the rest of the world what's good for them.

If we want to help, take all the money and blood we poured into Afghanistan over the last 40+ years - not just since 2001, but since we decided that funding the butchery of Soviet boys was a great idea back in 1978 - and spend it on something like the Peace Corps.

I don't think the Afghan people need any more of our bullets and bombs. They've had a half century of that, from us and others, and it hasn't made anything better.

Yes, Taiwan's position is certainly a problem, but the thing is, no one is proposing (I hope!) trying to nation-build in China to prevent Taiwan from falling.

Of course not, nor in Venezuela or Cuba or any other non-Western paradise. Just keep the PRC away from free, functioning democracies and require it to respect freedom of transit on the high seas.

But, that doesn't happen with soft power. It takes those stupid aircraft carriers and a fleet of attack submarines and a physical presence as in S Korea.

If we want to help, take all the money and blood we poured into Afghanistan over the last 40+ years - not just since 2001, but since we decided that funding the butchery of Soviet boys was a great idea back in 1978 - and spend it on something like the Peace Corps.

Ok, how will that make a difference for Taiwan and the people of Hong Kong?

And what happens when the local equivalent of the Taliban (ISIS,forex) starts slitting Peace Corp throats and posting the videos on the internet? A stiff note? A reminder that, if they hope to join the family of nations, they need to respect basic human rights?

Just keep the PRC away from free, functioning democracies and require it to respect freedom of transit on the high seas.

So, how does this apply to Afghanistan?

It occurs to me that Applebaum's reading of what it means when "We believe there is no military solution" is invoked is a bit off. If I were to say that there were no financial solution to my problems, I could easily imagine that there might be if I were Jeff Bezos. But me saying there is no finanical solution just means that it is highly unlikely that I could do it with the parameters that exist for me. Likewise, 'no military solution' means that given the parameters in place for most countries or the UN, like not being able to kill everyone and let god sort them out, apply. To think that a, in your phrase, liberal Western democracy could decide to put everyone's heads on pikes, is a pretty strange idea.

I'm honestly curious whether hawks truly don't see any difference between countries like Germany/Japan/S Korea and Afghanistan/Iraq, or simply hand-wave those differences away.

I'm also honestly curious whether hawks truly don't see any difference between maintaining military presences in countries like Germany/Japan/S Korea (where active hostilities have long since ceased, troops are not under attack, and hostiles are...well, hostile)versus maintaining active and engaged military presences in Afghanistan/Iraq.

I mean, I am honestly curious, because I truly don't know if hawks are being: 1) Dishonest; or 2) Cognitively deficient.

McTX: And, to close this out, suppose your crystal ball turns out the be made out of plastic and the PRC *does* move on Taiwan. Will the PDM position be, "Damn. Sorry about that. I guess you're screwed. Oh well, moving on . . . ".

Honestly? I'm not sure. There is a price that is too high for defending Taiwan. It sucks to say that, but it's true. To put some context on that, I rarely find slippery slope arguments to be persuasive. Taiwan is a special case as compared to its neighbors to the north in S. Korea and Japan. If the Philippines end up in China's orbit, then it will be because they have elected to follow someone like Duarte (who seems to be cooling on the PRC of late). I'm fine with allowing Taiwan to defend itself with advanced US weaponry within reason, but I don't see a scenario where the US should go all in to defend Taiwan.

Also, WWII analogies are not particularly useful in a post-nuclear weapon age where economies are more integrated than ever.

Will the PDM position be, "Damn. Sorry about that. I guess you're screwed. Oh well, moving on . . . ".

Let's make this concrete:

Would you commit the United States to a shooting war with China to prevent their assimilation of Taiwan?

How do you think that would play out?

What do you think the outcome would be?

What price are your prepared to pay for all of this? Who will end up bearing the burden of that?

I think you and the Applebaums of the world need to have good answers to those questions, and articulate them clearly enough to persuade all of the people who will be required to carry the cost of it all.

If you want to make the case, you need to count the cost. And realize and be candid about who will be required to pay it.

And what happens when the local equivalent of the Taliban (ISIS,forex) starts slitting Peace Corp throats and posting the videos on the internet?

Where did the Taliban come from? How did they get so powerful?

Where did ISIS come from? How did they manage to establish a foothold in Iraq and Syria?

No small part of the answers to all of that lie in the military adventurism of the liberal western democracies, most notably us.

So, how does this apply to Afghanistan?

It occurs to me that Applebaum's reading of what it means when "We believe there is no military solution" is invoked is a bit off.

It doesn't apply to Afghanistan. I was never a fan of the never-ending story in Afghanistan. I said that in one of my original comments on this topic.

IMO, we need the military horsepower to deter any PRC BS w/respect to our allies and actual democracies in general. Nation building comes from within and cannot be externally imposed. That is the post 9/11 lesson.

Previous to 9/11, we had NATO and a robust Pacific presence that kept things in balance for decades. It wasn't cheap, but pennies on the dollar to losing a fight now or in the near future with the PRC.

I think Applebaum's point is that, yes, there is a military solution to most military problems. Of course, that begs the question: is it worth it? Where we need to tighten our game is "where and why" we commit going forward. But, that thought exercise is a waste of time if we don't have the assets to convert theory into reality.

the neo-cons and they cheerleaders have no record of success. all they've done is kill a lot of people and burn a lot of money.

talking tough and pretending to be the only realists in the room doesn't earn them the right to demand anything of anyone. it's not on anyone else to justify anything. it's on them to learn from their repeated failures.

Let's make this concrete:

Would you commit the United States to a shooting war with China to prevent their assimilation of Taiwan?

How do you think that would play out?

What do you think the outcome would be?

What price are your prepared to pay for all of this? Who will end up bearing the burden of that?

I think you and the Applebaums of the world need to have good answers to those questions, and articulate them clearly enough to persuade all of the people who will be required to carry the cost of it all.

If you want to make the case, you need to count the cost. And realize and be candid about who will be required to pay it.

Yes, I would. Because, as we know from WWII, appeasement gets you nothing and when things get too far out of hand, bazillions die, not just hundreds of thousands. We, and hopefully our allies, would pay the largest financial cost and Taiwan would pay the largest butcher's bill.

Invading a well defended land position from the sea isn't easy if the crossing and landing are contested, with the degree and effectiveness of the contest being the determining factor. D-Day was hard enough with zero opposition to the crossing, overwhelming force and little resistance at several of the beachheads (compare Omaha to Utah beaches). Control of the air would be one of several deciding factors.

The key is deterrence. If we have a sufficiently robust presence and if we have made it clear that war with Taiwan is war with the US, we raise the stakes considerably. At that point, the PRC has some serious reflection to undertake. Trying and failing to take Taiwan would be a long term disaster for the PRC. It doesn't want that. So, arm up and deter.

It doesn't apply to Afghanistan.

You began this discussion by citing Applebaum in the Atlantic, and stating "I approve this piece".

Applebaum's piece begins:

In many conflicts, probably Syria and certainly Afghanistan, there is a military solution

IMO it would help the discussion if the goal posts didn't move quite so much or so often.

Afghanistan is not Taiwan, in spite of Applebaum's desire to conflate them. As far as I can tell nobody here is arguing that we should abandon our military presence in the Pacific Rim, or that we should simply write off Taiwan to the PRC with great big shruggie.

If you could be specific about which situation you want to discuss, and which position you want to hold in that specific situation, it would be helpful.

It doesn't apply to Afghanistan. I was never a fan of the never-ending story in Afghanistan. I said that in one of my original comments on this topic.

Well, I think that Applebaum's piece _was_ about Afghanistan, so if you aren't a fan of talking about Afghanistan, you probably shouldn't have given it the AlaMcT seal of approval. I mean, is she saying that because we bugged out in Afghanistan, we are thinking of doing it in other places? I've not heard anything about the US military all rushing home from Yokosuka or them closing down Kadena or Futenma. If it does happen, do let me know, I'd like to get to the PX before it closes.

If you want to explain about China (as you said with Nazi Germany earlier, I'll say with China, I know a bit about it), it probably might be better to lead off with an article about that rather than one that is about Afghanistan.

LJ 2.01 with added nuance.

So, arm up and deter.

unless I'm mistaken, that is our current posture. as far as I know, there is no plan to change that. I don't see anyone here arguing to abandon that, as regards China.

what are we arguing about here?

we aren't going to war with China over Taiwan.

our respective economies are too entangled.

A debatable point.

OK. Then debate it.

The Warsaw Pact, at its height, had a huge balance of forces in its favor. Over time, that changed and the USSR began to fold internally due to the world's shittiest economic system. Plus Gorbechev.

This is incoherent nonsense and ignores the claim put forward by Pdm. You are not debating. You are bullshitting.

McT: And, nation building worked fine in post WWII Germany and Japan. And S Korea.

CaseyL: I'm honestly curious whether hawks truly don't see any difference between countries like Germany/Japan/S Korea and Afghanistan/Iraq, or simply hand-wave those differences away.

Germany and Japan were arguably cases of rehabilitation, rather than nation building, but we got it done whatever. South Korea, on the other hand, was not. Making it a case (possibly a unique case) where nation building actually worked. But the cases are quite different.

Lumping Afghanistan and Iraq together only confuses things, too. Iraq has been civilized for millennia, and unarguably a nation off and on for much of it. Afghanistan? Not so much. (Although russell makes a pretty good case for it being well on the road to political modernization during the 20th century.)

Trying to argue as if the cases that worked are the same, and the cases that failed are the same, is counterproductive.

It might be useful to study why South Korea managed to make the jump that others have not. Until we figure that out, massive nation building efforts are probably not a good idea.

Would you commit the United States to a shooting war with China to prevent their assimilation of Taiwan?

How do you think that would play out?

Alternatively, do you think the PRC would commit to a shooting war with the United States over Taiwan? To date, the answer is No. And for good reason.

It's not obvious why they would. Unless they have reason to believe we would fold immediately. I suppose we could get an administration which would signal that. But I don't think it particularly likely, at least in the short to medium term. (Among other thinks, there are critical technology bits where, currently, the overwhelming fraction (like over 89%) is made in Taiwan. Unless that changes, we really can't afford to.)

South Korea, like Iraq, was a nation-state for a millennia. It only lost its status as a nation when the Chinese lost the Sino-Japan war and Japan assumed that role as protector. It began a military occupation of Korea and then annexed it in 1910. Koreans protested, culminating in the protests of 1919, which marked a period of brutal repression of Korean identity by the Japanese.

Korea (as it was arguably one national identity) was largely an afterthought in the Japanese surrender and because the trusteeship was administered by the Soviet Union in the north and the US in the south, an artificial border was created along the 38th parallel.

While the US did engage in 'nation building' after the Korean conflict, to assume that this means that what was done in Afghanistan was defensible is a pretty bad misreading of history. And I believe that some Koreans might not be too happy if it is stated or even implied that it was only US efforts after 1950 that made South Korea a nation.

Nuance, everyone's friend.

South Korea, like Iraq, was a nation-state for a millennia.

Korea was a nation state. South Korea? Not really. More like the backward rural hinterland. As far as I am aware, the government, the industry, etc. were all concentrated in the north, around Pyonyang.

Certainly the South Koreans worked hard to get where they are. But it's not like they were merely rebuilding from a recently destroyed infrastructure. Human, bureaucratic, or industrial.

P.S. Not saying it makes what happened in Afghanistan defensible. Just that it would be useful to study why it worked, when other attempts did not.

The key is deterrence. If we have a sufficiently robust presence and if we have made it clear that war with Taiwan is war with the US, we raise the stakes considerably. At that point, the PRC has some serious reflection to undertake. Trying and failing to take Taiwan would be a long term disaster for the PRC. It doesn't want that. So, arm up and deter.

Here's the thing. This statement of policy looks at the situation in Taiwan and tries to game out a conflict between China and the US.

Taiwan. Hong Kong. Ukraine. Iran. Afghanistan.

Where can we afford to commit? What becomes exposed when we commit to defending one of the others?

The US did poorly in Afghanistan when we were stuck in Iraq. Iran used our actions in Iraq to raise their own influence in the area. Syria went to hell as a result of our involvement in Iraq. Syria got us over a barrel with Turkey and Russia. Russia snatched territory from Ukraine while we were stuck in Iraq and Afghanistan.

China expanded its activities in the South China Sea because we were (you guessed it) stuck in Afghanistan and Iraq.

This is not chess. It's not the US vs. China, or the US vs. Russia, or the US vs. Iran. The US can only ever do so much, and it requires overwhelming force to do it.

20 years for Afghanistan.

One of many possible obstacles to US interests.

Today's world is all multilateral. All of it requires cooperation from allies. It can't be managed with an obsolete Cold War mindset.

The game has changed.

Where can we afford to commit? What becomes exposed when we commit to defending one of the others?

Ok, I'll address this is a second, but first:

1. AA is correct, virtually every military situation has a military response. Saying "there is no military response" is as dumb as saying "what the hell, send in the troops." Her point is that you don't persuade the Taliban or other Dictator's with soft power. You either defeat them, threaten them and hope they give in or let it go. But, the military option, or the threat, is pretty much the only thing that works with dictatorships. Our problem is that we let Gulf War I go to our heads.

2. I will repeat myself for the last time: (a) I never favored our extended presence in Afghanistan and (b) I am no fan of nation-building.

3. Taiwan is not Afghanistan.

Now, to Nous' point: we do not have existential threats all over the world. The PRC is the only real threat to *world* peace. Everything else is regional and therefore manageable (in a very loose sense). The counter, or deterrence, is a heavy naval presence, a stronger physical presence in Japan and elsewhere (our allies) and beefing up Taiwan's self defense force. We don't have to pick and choose where to allocate our main effort. The PRC is making that choice for us.

Basically, if the PRC does not think it has a high likely hood of controlling the air and the sea lanes, it cannot move. So, air and sea, that's how we would do it, along with our allies.

Nobody (including AA) says, or quotes "there is no military response". They say, and she quotes: "There is no military solution". This is an entirely different thing.

Personally, and I mean very personally, I am unspeakably depressed by what has happened in Hong Kong, and fearful for Taiwan. I am prepared to hope that combined allied indications of meaningful response will continue to act as a deterrence, but I am far from confident.

Her point is that you don't persuade the Taliban or other Dictator's with soft power. You either defeat them, threaten them and hope they give in or let it go.

then she's blind to what just happened.

we just spent 20 years proving that groups like the Taliban aren't really impressed with our military. we can't actually defeat them because they aren't a government to be toppled or a hierarchy to be decapitated - they're a movement, an idea. so our threats don't mean much. they can just sit back and wait for us to give in or let it go.

interventionists assert that intervention is the answer and that everyone else needs to prove them wrong. but they're begging the question.

And let's not forget that any meaningful or effective foreign policy (of deterrence or otherwise) depends to a large extent of who sits in the White House. If the GOP, or the US public, goes for Trump or a Trump clone, anything is possible. Your traditional allies have, since the Trump presidency, taken an altogether more (shall we say) nuanced view of the reliability of America's value as an ally.

on who sits...

Her point is that you don't persuade the Taliban or other Dictator's with soft power.

What is it that we would be trying to persuade the Taliban to do?

Who thinks we are going to persuade them to do anything they don't want to do?

I guess I'm not sure what Applebaum's point is about Afghanistan. I'm not asking you to answer for her, just expressing my own puzzlement about what her point is.

It seems like she is arguing that sufficient military effort would defeat them, and then Afghanistan would return to (or perhaps achieve for the first time) some kind of liberal western open society.

Afghanistan was taking steps toward that 50 and 60 years ago. It was problematic, because Afghanistan is a poor, largely rural, and socially conservative place. Other actors, including both the Soviets and ourselves, but also including Pakistan and the Saudis, exploited those conflicts for purposes of their own.

And so, after 40+ years of continuous destructive calamitous war, Afghanistan is a broken, chaotic, and dangerous place.

The problem is not insufficient military force applied to the situation. Because the problem is not specifically a military one.

A credible military presence in the Pacific by the US and our allies no doubt curbs China's expansionist impulses. That's probably a good thing. Maybe somebody here is arguing against that, but if so I'm not seeing it.

russell, the other day: We keep trying to make the whole world into America. And we keep failing at it.

me, responding: "Maybe we should stick to trying to make America into America."

Related, and eloquent, comment from Ruckus, one of my favorite BJ commenters.

Now, to Nous' point: we do not have existential threats all over the world. The PRC is the only real threat to *world* peace. Everything else is regional and therefore manageable (in a very loose sense). The counter, or deterrence, is a heavy naval presence, a stronger physical presence in Japan and elsewhere (our allies) and beefing up Taiwan's self defense force. We don't have to pick and choose where to allocate our main effort. The PRC is making that choice for us.

The PRC is an existential threat to us because it has designs on Taiwan?

It's an existential threat to Taiwan, certainly, but if they were to annex Taiwan it would not threaten the existence of the US.

China is only an existential threat to the US's self-image and influence in the Pacific Rim. Not existence. Status.

thanks for that Janie.

I also thought this was good.

Whatever we were trying to do in Afghanistan, I do not think we accomplished it. We killed Bin Laden, which no doubt made the world a better place, but that was in Pakistan, and we did it with intelligence and a SEAL team.

There are all kinds of reasons the Taliban are prevailing in Afghanistan today. A lack of military effort on our part is not among them. There is plenty of home-grown resistance to the Taliban in Afghanistan, including military resistance, and it remains to be seen how things will play out there.

I'm personally skeptical that the Taliban are going to be the long-term governing force in Afghanistan, and I hope they are not. If they aren't, it will be because the Afghan people don't want them to be, not because we did or did not defeat them by force of arms.

To russell's point about purpose...

The hawks are always big on quoting Clausewitz about war and policy, but Clausewitz is quite clear that military force is not compatible with every purpose and is counterproductive to many purposes.

Military power gets conflated a lot with moral purpose and with courage of convictions. Sometimes there are conflicts for which taking a stand is more important for moral reasons than is winning (says the union steward). It is folly, however, to take on a conflict of this nature believing that you are aiming for anything other than a moral victory and a tangible cost to the winner that will provoke a reconsideration.

Democracies suck at these sorts of conflicts because the people have a hard time accepting the loss of money and lives to achieve a principled loss. America sucks at this worse than most other democracies because of our great military and economic hubris.

Authoritarian regimes know this. They talk about this openly. It is part of their foreign policy. They actively court these sorts of responses knowing that they can exploit them.

Putin has said this many times.

So we need to be very careful in picking our conflicts. We are constrained in ways that other regimes and political systems are not.

Hard to argue with a word of that, nous. (Except: haven't read Clausewitz, only the famous quotations, but I'm happy to take your word for it.)

our respective economies are too entangled.

That's why WW1 was impossible
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Great_Illusion

there's a chance we've learned?

ok, so maybe it's not impossible. but shared economic interest is at least a deterrent.

plus, i'd bet a survey of Americans (and Europeans) asked to weigh the availability of most consumer goods vs going to war to keep China from annexing Taiwan would come out heavily on the side of cheap goodies.

Alternatively, do you think the PRC would commit to a shooting war with the United States over Taiwan? To date, the answer is No. And for good reason.

It's not obvious why they would. Unless they have reason to believe we would fold immediately. I suppose we could get an administration which would signal that. But I don't think it particularly likely, at least in the short to medium term.

Iirc Jabbabonk thought about it quite aloud (although 'thought' does not really fit of course). Same about the Baltic States.
But admittedly neither the Russian nor the Chinese leadership had enough confidence that he would prevail should they make an actual attempt.

Iirc Jabbabonk thought about it quite aloud (although 'thought' does not really fit of course). Same about the Baltic States.
But admittedly neither the Russian nor the Chinese leadership had enough confidence that he would prevail should they make an actual attempt.

They might also have realized that all it would take for him to totally reverse himself would be someone whispering in his ear that "Failing to fight over Taiwan will make you look . . . weak!" His horror at that threat would overcome anything.

China is only an existential threat to the US's self-image and influence in the Pacific Rim. Not existence. Status.

PRC hegemony over the Pacific Rim neutralizes Australia and India plus the entire Pacific Rim, including the Philippines and Japan. Our economy--the world's economy--would be entirely subordinate to PRC diktat. We would be an economic shadow of our former selves, global warming/climate change would be on no radar screen anywhere that would matter. It's existential. It is delusional to think otherwise. What's worse, should it come to pass, proponents of "hope for the best and plan for that and only that" will have no accountability.

Everything everyone here is saying to the effect that the PRC would do no such thing sounds like pre-WWII Jewry and Neville Chamberlain all rolled into one--"of course, they would never do that!" 50 or 60 million dead later, who turned out to be wrong?

enlist.

Not everyone. And McKinney, what do you say to the necessity of putting a reasonably responsible POTUS in place? I know you're not a Republican, but you are a self-avowed Conservative. If the allies you need for effective deterrence are wary after the Trump presidency, how do you propose to allay their fears?

And McKinney, what do you say to the necessity of putting a reasonably responsible POTUS in place? I know you're not a Republican, but you are a self-avowed Conservative. If the allies you need for effective deterrence are wary after the Trump presidency, how do you propose to allay their fears?

Do you think I'm going to argue against having a responsible president in place? How many times do I have say that DT was and remains a clown to be taken seriously?

Do you think the PRC and our allies are impressed with the Biden administration at this point?

PRC hegemony over the Pacific Rim neutralizes Australia and India plus the entire Pacific Rim, including the Philippines and Japan. Our economy--the world's economy--would be entirely subordinate to PRC diktat.

You seem to be missing a lot of interim steps here between the fall of Taiwan and total subordination of the Pacific Rim to Chinese control.

You seem to be missing any economic influence the rest of the world has on China.

You seem to be missing the many internal difficulties that China faces and may have to deal with, especially if they attempt to project force in ways that put them in a precarious position.

I take it you have never played many wargames or conflict simulations, or talked to people that do.

If Hitler had 'just' murdered Jews, no one would have gone to war over that.
Least of all the US (with a long tradition of being open for business with about anyone no matter how despicable and murderous).
And is there anything more than a few harsh words about how the PRC treats its people and in particular its minorities?
I guess the Chinese leadership has a very good understanding about how far it can go and it indeed depends in part on credible deterrence.
But deterrence (which is political as well as military) and going preemptively to war over a new domino theory are different things.
Btw, I believe the first strike, should there actually be a war, will be in cyber not meat space. And my guess is that the PRC is better able to survive that than the US.
I'll not take a bet on who would be the first one to go nuclear though since I have no idea.
As for appeasement: while unwise in hindsight Britain was not (yet) ready for war. Imo France would have had a better chance (and we know to-day that this was the one thing that Hitler feared in 1939). And to add to that: in 1938 Hitler was extremly angry about his success in Munich. in his inner circle he was all "they spoiled my war by giving in!"
Not something I think comparable to the Taiwan question.

it's always 1938 in Conservativeland.

I take it you have never played many wargames or conflict simulations, or talked to people that do.

LOL! Really? How many times did your game players game Munich? Or Pearl Harbor? Or the N Korea invasion of S Korea? Or Saddam's invasion of Kuwait? Jesus. Do you think your risk calculus is universal and set in stone? FYI, I also didn't take into consideration the strong diplomatic notes that would surely be sent or the just wrath of Singapore as it bats down the PRC menace. Or, the mobilization of the Filipino war fleet.

As for the Europeans playing economic hardball, tell me how tough the single largest continental European power is dealing with Putin just to get natural gas--which Biden approved (pipelines for me but not for thee, and yes I take the EU very, very seriously when it talks about climate change).

So, no, I'm not banking on the good opinion of the free world as a fucking deterrent to anything the PRC thinks is in its interests and is within its reach. That you and others think toothless economic externalities will deter the PRC shows just how short everyone's memories are, including many commenting here today on this topic.

Hey, we could of course buy overpriced US gas (which imo is the main reason why Washington does not like Nordstream 2). As for single largst continental power, we could not credibly invade Liechtenstein (and our neighbours are quite happy about that).
Yeah that is a problem but solving it like certain people would like us to would not be popular either here or about anywhere else.

LOL! Really? How many times did your game players game Munich? Or Pearl Harbor? Or the N Korea invasion of S Korea? Or Saddam's invasion of Kuwait?

I'll take that as a "no" then.

The wargame people I was thinking most of are in the DoD - DARPA, PEO STRI, and the like. Or RAND. I did a lot of research into how the US Mil uses simulation and wargames to set their policy. I've even published on the topic.

You keep insisting on a level of black and white here that the real world does not support and which the people tasked with exploring those real world scenarios would never entertain.

For someone who takes every situation involving a minority and tries to turn it into an individual problem to be mapped out in faithful detail, you are quite comfortable breezing past all such details when insisting on the need to project military force to keep rivals in check.

We get it. You value the show of force and are itching to show China who is boss.

McKinney,

I'm sure you understand that military power, whether for deterrence or for fighting, costs money. Federal government money. Your precious tax dollars.

So, are you willing to pay for defending BOTH Taiwan from China AND Israel from all comers? If not, which would you prioritize?

I know you'd prioritize either one over any domestic "welfare" program, so don't bother answering along those lines. I'm only asking you to rank two alternatives relative to each other, not against the field.

--TP

Oh, just to be clear, it's not my intention to evade the discussion but it's getting late over here, so I will likely not participate further until to-morrow.

You misunderstand me, McKinney. I remember very well that you were a never-Trumper, and always believed you when you said so.

My point is that when you said upthread:

But, I think your side will win this argument. Taiwan will eventually fall, who knows what the rest of Asia will do.

you were once again assuming a unanimity of opinion here, probably PRC-lovers, but certainly appeasers and (if I may say so), pussies.

I've told you before, and I tell you again. I loved Hong Kong for all its sins. I grew up there, and there are still people I love there. You cannot possibly feel what has happened there more strongly than I do. And I have no, zero, zilch love or tolerance for the PRC regime, like most people here.

One thing about who respects whom is this: Biden is infinitely more respected by every foreign leader in the world than Trump was, because he actually knows stuff, and when he doesn't, he consults people who do.

My point was this: you cannot have effective deterrence to deter the PRC without a decent POTUS. Given what has happened in America in recent years, preventing the fall of Taiwan relies more upon putting someone responsible in the White House. You see what is happening to approximately 30% of public opinion in the US. Why do you think it is more important/effective/sensible to harangue a bunch of liberals than to work for less voter suppression in the various states now trying so hard to enable the election of the kinds of people who think Biden stole the election? Are you still as sure as you were that the proposed new law in GA was not designed to suppress the African American and therefore the Dem vote?

I do not see that Dem politicians are less likely to have the kinds of attitudes you approve of towards the PRC and the MIC than Republicans are. You disliked HRC very much. Did you think she was a dove? Which other Dem politicians with a snowball's hope in hell of getting the nomination do you think are doves?

Also, to be clear, no one here has said that the US should give up on Taiwanese independence. All I have said is that Taiwanese independence is not an existential concern for the US, and treating it as such distorts the actual issues and what can be done about them.

Do you think the PRC and our allies are impressed with the Biden administration at this point?

Yes, I do.

Admittedly Trump is an easy act to follow on that score. But so far, he's not only doing a reasonably competent job (the evacuation of Afghanistan notwithstanding; and it's still early to draw conclusions there), but he's rebuilding the connections which make alliances work. And both allies and the PRC can see it.

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