Pearl Harbor Day

I can’t let the morning go by without noting that today is Pearl Harbor Day.

As the living veterans of that day age and leave us, it is – I believe – more important that we keep the day in mind, and remember that the world is often a dangerous place.

We should also keep in mind that we can triumph over danger and that we can do so in a way that doesn’t surrender what makes us human.

Next summer I’ll be heading to Japan for a few weeks to meet my family-by-marriage. Think about how unlikely that would have seemed in 1941.

And how 1941 is recent enough that the young men and women who were in uniform are still with us.

So let’s think about that the next time we look at the world today – and despair and worry that the strife we see will last forever…

Swiss Minaret Ban – A Contrary View

I commented below on Joe’s piece on the Swiss minaret ban; my take was that the ban is a bad idea and fundamentally wrong. It is not about controlling something that Muslims do – some criminal behavior, or even one that’s annoying (a call to prayer). It’s a lashing out at them for who they are.

David Blue and I have disagreed frequently and strongly on this site over whether is issue is Islam or Islamists; I flatly believe that the issue is not Islam – although we do have issues with Islam, just as we do with other cultures that were formerly ‘Third World’ because they are beginning to compete with the West for political and ideological dominance. But that competition is vastly different than the murderous acts of a small minority who want to remake Islam, and we do have immediate, serious and lethal issues with those Islamists.

The problem, as I see it (and as Dave Kopel over at Volokh saw it) is summed up by my comment:

1) Swiss Gov’t comes to accommodations with various Islamist groups for internal security reasons – do what you want here, but no attacks;

2) Islamist groups use Swiss facilities with increasing visibility;

3) Non-Islamist Muslim population grows;

4) Non-Muslim Swiss population (who are, like the French, stunningly racist by nature) is PO’ed at the government actions and at the increasing visibility of both the Islamist and benign Muslim populations and performs a gratuitous act of foot-stomping. Or, as Otter put it, “a really futile and stupid gesture…”

I’ve predicted in the past that Europe wasn’t at risk of becoming Islamic, but instead that there would be a right-wing xenophobic reaction that risked Europe going to something that looks a lot like fascism (violent, racist nationalism). I’m standing by that prediction, and I’ll suggest that’s as bad an outcome as any Eurabia.

My Pet Climate Project

So I’ve been reading the IPCC reports over the last few days.

In spite of the appearance that my bet with Chris having been settled by the admission that the raw climate data is pinned to its perch, I’m genuinely interested what the research has to say.

I’d like to crowdsource a small research project with the intent of putting together two things – an influence diagram and a checklist of datasets and models cited so that we can in turn explore the availability and state of them.

To do that, I needed a set of papers; I wanted to pick a sample, so I chose a chapter from the latest IPCC report –

IPCC Historical Overview

– and pulled a set of papers that seemed relevant from it – 20 papers in total.





Barnett, T.P., et al.,
1999: Detection and attribution of recent climate change: A status report
Bull. Am. Meteorol. Soc., 80, 2631-2660.

Barnett et al., 1999


Brohan P., et al., 2006:
Uncertainty estimates in regional and global

observed temperature
changes: A new data set from 1850
. J.
, 111,
D12106, doi:10.1029/2005JD006548.

Brohan et al., 2006


Francey, R.J., and G.D.
Farquhar, 1982: An explanation of C-13/C-12 variations in tree rings.
Nature, 297,

and Farquhar, 1982


Hasselmann, K., 1997:
Multi-pattern fingerprint method for detection and attribution of climate
change. (purchase)
Clim. Dyn., 13, 601-612.

Hasselmann, 1997


Hegerl, G.C., et al.,
1996: Detecting greenhouse-gas-induced climate

change with an optimal fingerprint
J. Clim., 9, 2281-2306.

Hegerl et al., 1996


Hegerl, G.C., et al.,
1997: Multi-fingerprint detection and attribution of greenhouse-gas and
aerosol-forced climate change.
, 13, 613-634.

Hegerl et al., 1997


Hegerl, G.C., et al.,
2000: Optimal detection and attribution of climate

change: Sensitivity of
results to climate model differences.

Hegerl et al., 2000


Jones, P.D., et al.,
1990: Assessment of urbanization effects in time series of surface air
temperature over land.
Nature, 347, 169-172.

Jones et al., 1990


Keeling, C.D., 1961: The
concentration and isotopic abundances of carbon

dioxide in rural and
marine air.
Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta, 24, 77-298.



Keeling, C.D., 1998:
Rewards and penalties of monitoring the Earth.
Annu.Rev. Energy Environ., 23, 25-82.



Peterson, T.C., et al.,
1999: Global rural temperature trends.
, 26,

Peterson et al., 1999


Petit, J.R., et al.,
1999: Climate and atmospheric history of the past 420,000 years from the
Vostok ice core, Antarctica. (purchase)
Nature, 399, 429-436.

Petit et al., 1999


Santer, B.D., et al.,
1995: Towards the detection and attribution of an anthropogenic effect on
Clim. Dyn., 12, 77-100.

Santer et al., 1995


Santer, B.D., J.S. Boyle,
and D.E. Parker, 1996a: Human effect on global climate? Reply.
Nature, 384, 524 .

Santer et al., 1996a


Santer, B.D., T.M.L.
Wigley, T.P. Barnett, and E. Anyamba, 1996b:

Detection of climate
change, and attribution of causes. In:

Change 1995: The
Science of Climate Change
J.T., et al. (eds.)]. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom
and New York, NY, USA, pp. 407-443.

Santer et al., 1996b


Santer, B.D., et al.,
1996c: A search for human influences on the thermal structure of the
Nature, 382, 39-46.

Santer et al., 1996c


Stanhill, G., 2001: The
growth of climate change science: A scientometric study. (purchase)
Clim. Change,
48, 515-524.



Stott, P.A., et al., 2000:
External control of 20th century temperature by natural and anthropogenic
Science, 290, 2133-2137.

Stott et al., 2000


Tett, S.F.B., et al.,
1999: Causes of twentieth century temperature change. (purchase)
Nature, 399,



Tett et al., 1999


Stott, P.A., et al.,
2000: External control of 20th century temperature by natural and
anthropogenic forcings.
Science, 290, 2133-2137.

Stott et al., 2000


Willett, H.C., 1950:
Temperature trends of the past century. In:
CentenaryProceedings of the Royal Meteorological Society. Royal Meteorological Society, London. pp. 195-206.


Take a look at the list and the chapter and tell me if you think I missed any of import.

Then I want to assemble a simple


in the hopes that people will pick a paper and fill out a datasheet on it.

Again, we are not trying to judge the quality of the papers or research – I won’t pretend to be qualified to do so.

But what I’d like to do is see what core data is used throughout, what models are used, and what root papers are cited. That way we can build an influence map of the people, papers, data and models. I’m not sure what – if anything – it’ll show. But I can’t help thinking it’ll be interesting.

Pentagon Roundtable

After the speech, I participated in a Pentagon roundtable with bloggers and journalists.

I’m going to digest my reactions overnight and comment tomorrow.

You can listen here. (The IA is confusing – the player is in the middle, where the scrolling ticker is – give it a moment and it will autoplay. Otherwise, just click the ‘pause’ button, then the ‘play’ button…)

Obama’s Speech, My First Reaction? Despair…

It’s all grand tactics. And those aren’t enough. From Summers again:

We thought we were pursuing a new strategy called counterinsurgency, but actually we were pursuing a defensive strategy in pursuit of a negative aim – a strategy familiar to Clausewitz in the early nineteenth century. In his chapter on purpose and means in war Clausewitz discusses various methods of obtaining the object of war. One way is what Clausewitz calls “the negative aim.” It is, he said, “the natural formula for outlasting the enemy, for wearing him down.” In a later chapter, Clausewitz discusses the relationship between the negative aim and the strategic defensive. “The aim of the defense must embody the idea of waiting,” he said. “The idea implies . . . that the situation … may improve … Gaining time is the only way [the defender] can achieve his aim.” Basic to the success of a strategic defensive in pursuit of the negative aim, therefore, is the assumption that time is on your side. But the longer the war progressed the more obvious it became that time was not on our side. It was American rather than North Vietnamese will that was being eroded.

In his review of General Westmoreland’s biography, Hannah writes:

… [General] Westmoreland mentions several factors that prolonged the war, but … we are entitled to conclude that he did not regard these factors likely to be decisive. Indeed, he tells us he suffered these impediments because he believed that “success would eventually be ours.” But it was not. Why not?

General Westmoreland does not directly answer the question but the answer emerges without being stated. We ran out of time. This is the tragedy of Vietnam – we were fighting for time rather than space. And time ran out.

In the introductory chapter to this book we posed the question – how could we have done so well in tactics but failed so miserably in strategy? The answer we postulated then – a failure in strategic military doctrine manifested itself on the battlefield. Because it did not focus on the political aim to be achieved – containment of North Vietnamese expansion – our so-called strategy was never a strategy at all. At best it could be called a kind of grand tactics.

I’ll think about it more and comment. I also participated in the post-speech blogger conference call…more on that as well.


I haven’t written nearly as much about Afghanistan this year as I did about Iraq last year; a lot of that is the unavoidable fact that the war in Afghanistan is deeply personal to me now, and I want to try and separate my personal feelings from the larger questions I want to think about as a citizen.

Now, President Obama is about to announce his decision on Afghanistan troop levels…and what do I want him to do?

I want him to do the same thing I wanted George Bush to do in 2003: Lay out what the conflict is about; lay out our goals; lay out the broad means we intend to use to meet those goals.

This is congruent with some of the critical things I’ve said about Bush; specifically that he hasn’t articulated or sold his plan. I think it is necessary that he do so, because ultimately this war will be won by the side with the stronger faith; we are matching our faith in our vision of the future against our opponents’.

Trent [Telenko] thinks my position is silly, and makes some strong arguments that I’ll leave to him to fill in; in summary, his view is that Bush has a plan, but can’t articulate it for political/diplomatic reasons, and that we need to simply trust him – that we can simply rely on his character.

My reply is “nope”.

Even if I stipulate that Bush has grown immensely wiser and more credible than he was in his early life…and I do believe that he has grown, although I’m not convinced that he’s grown immensely…I just can’t accept the notion that we’re sending our sons and daughters – hell, that I may send my son – because GWB says so.

And I don’t think that I’m alone.

Modern leadership involves propagating your vision – of a project, or a business. It involves creating faith which can motivate people to accept discomfort, pain or loss. When a team shares a vision, they have some understanding of the high-level plan which will make them more tolerant of not knowing the low-level plans.

But you can’t ask people to accept burdens based solely on one’s character any more. We are past the point of kings.

In other words, I want a Grand Strategy.

COIN v non-COIN isn’t a grand strategic debate, it’s a debate over which set of ‘grand tactics’ we want to use to implement our goals (although I think the choice of grand tactics should be driven by and in turn helps decide larger scale strategies).

Surge vs. non-surge isn’t a strategy either. Let me bring in an expert to try and explain what we’re missing.


On my bookshelf I’ve got a faded copy of Col. Harry Summers’ great book ‘On Strategy: A Critical Analysis of the Vietnam War.‘ He’s got a few things to say about this, and right now I think it’s really important that people go read them…

One of the more simplistic explanations for our failure in Vietnam is that it was all the fault of the American people – that it was caused by a collapse of national will. Happily for the health of the Republic, this evasion is rare among Army officers. A stab-in-the-back syndrome never developed after Vietnam.

The main reason it is not right to blame the American public is that President Lyndon Baines Johnson made a conscious decision not to mobilize the American people – to invoke the national will – for the Vietnam war. As former Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs Phil G. Goulding commented, “In my four-year tour [July 1965 – January 1969] there was not once a significant organized effort by the Executive Branch of the federal government to put across its side of a major policy issue or a major controversy to the American people. Not once was there a ‘public affairs program’…worthy of the name.” According to his biographer, President Johnson’s decision not to mobilize the American people was based on his fears that it would jeopardize his “Great Society” programs.

What the military needed to tell our Commander-in-Chief was not just about battles and bombs and bullets. They needed to tell him that, as Clausewitz discovered 150 years earlier, “it would be an obvious fallacy to imagine war between civilized peoples as resulting merely from a rational act on the part of the Government and to consider war as gradually ridding itself of passion.” They needed to tell him that it was an obvious fallacy to commit the Army without first committing the American people.

– Chapter 1

Ever wonder where Colin Powell got the roots of his Doctrine? Summers goes on, in Chapter 8 – ‘Tactics, Grand Tactics, and Strategy’

“Based on the pattern of events and . . . their outcome” makes it obvious that the problem in Vietnam, as in the early days of the Civil War, was not evil leaders or faulty arithmetic as much as it was a lack of strategic thinking. As George Allen, one of the CIA’s primary Vietnam analysts put it, it wasn’t so much the numbers, “it was a fundamental question of the soundness of our policy, of our whole approach to the war.”

This lack of understanding of the “Big Picture” was not peculiar to Vietnam. It is a common failing. Writing about 14th century warfare, Barbara Tuchman observed that “what moved knights to war was desire to do deeds of valor . . . not the gaining of a political end by force of arms. They were concerned with action, not the goal= which was why the goal was so rarely attained.”‘ Fifty years before Clausewitz, Marshal Maurice de Saxe observed that “very few men occupy themselves with the higher problems of war. They pass their lives drilling troops [an essential skill, by the way, for 18th century tactical success] and believe that this is the only branch of the military art. When they arrive at the command of armies they are totally ignorant, and in default of knowing what should be done, they do what they know.”

In Vietnam we also did what we knew. As was said in the introduction to this book, in “logistics and in tactics . . . we succeeded in everything we set out to do.”” But, as we have seen, our failure in strategy made these skills irrelevant. This is the lesson we must keep in mind as we look to the future. While we will still need “deeds of valor” and proficiency in logistics and tactics, we must insure that these skills are applied in pursuit of a sound strategy.

– Chapter 8

In the video I did with Uncle Jimbo, I said (starting about 2:50 in) “…to be honest, if you’re not a heroin addict in New York City, I’m not sure what America’s strategic interest in Afghanistan as a country really would be.” And I meant that, and mean it today.

If my son is fighting only to bring civil society to the 34 provinces of Afghanistan, eff it – bring him home tomorrow. Bring all of our sons and daughters home tomorrow.

I need to hear some kind of broader explanation of what we’re doing there and what we hope to accomplish through our efforts there – not only in Afghanistan itself, but in the region and in the rest of the world.

Craig Mullaney had the beginnings of some answers when I got to talk with him.

It is my genuine hope that we’ll hear more from the President tomorrow – and my genuine fear that we won’t.

I’ll try and do something on the politics around this – and on some of my hopes and darker fears about them – in the morning.