“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Iceland, going down for the count with humor.


  1. Nico is an Icelander?

    Or the cat, perhaps ...

  2. Iceland's a cold country. Even their bank accounts are frozen.

  3. Wolfgang Munchau in the FT:


    We know that the current driving force behind this downturn is “deleveraging”...There is no chance of a sustained economic recovery until that process is almost complete.

    We are still some way from that point. For example, on my calculations it will take a total peak-to-trough decline in real US house prices of some 40-50 per cent to get back towards long-term price trends and for price-rent ratios to return to more sustainable levels. We are about half-way through this process. The good news is that most of the nominal adjustment will have taken place by the end of 2009 or early 2010.

    I am a lot less optimistic about the financial sector. While it is also reducing its leverage, it will not achieve a sustainable position quickly without a lot more government capital. But this would require deep restructuring and would take time.

    On the basis of this admittedly brief sketch, I arrive at three policy priorities for 2009. The first is for central banks to avoid deflation. If ever there has been a need for a central bank to target price stability, it is now. I mean this in the European sense of the term, meaning a small but distinctly positive rate of inflation, say 2 or 3 per cent annually. I assume that central banks will succeed in this endeavour, given the full power of policies deployed. I worry, though, that the US will try to raise inflation afterwards, which would reduce the real level of US debt but create massive distortions in exchange rates and financial flows and produce another global financial and economic crisis.

    The second priority is to shrink the financial sector. A disorderly collapse would be catastrophic, but it is neither desirable, nor possible, to maintain the financial sector at its current excessive size. Take the market for credit default swaps, an unregulated $50,000-$60,000bn casino that serves no economic purpose except to enrich its participants at massive risk to global financial stability. I would be in favour, as a matter of principle, of regulating any financial activity on the basis of its economic purpose. Since a CDS constitutes insurance from an economic point of view, we should treat it as such and subject it to insurance regulation (which would kill it of course).

    In particular, we should try to avoid the temptation to regulate too much in detail. This is a game regulators will lose. The financial sector is good at deploying existing instruments, and creating new ones, to circumvent any inflexible rule set. We should instead focus on breaking up too-large-to-fail banks and reducing the size of the financial sector in relation to a country’s GDP. In particular, we should not try to guarantee the obligations of a banking sector several times the size of our economies.

    Third, and perhaps most important, we need to co-ordinate the policy response at global level, since this is a global crisis with many global spillovers. What I would like to hear from US President-elect Barack Obama’s economic team is not a narrow-minded discussion about whether the stimulus will be $700bn or $850bn, or which programmes it will be spent on. What I want to know is how they intend to co-opt the Europeans and the Chinese into a joint strategy.

    What national governments should not do is blow even more money on infrastructure investments and on education. Whatever problem this is supposed to solve, it is a different problem from the one we need to solve right now.


    Amen and yea verily.

  4. Marginal Revolution:

    Macroeconomics without Supply
    Alex Tabarrok

    Paul Krugman writes:

    ...if you believe that a surge in private spending would raise employment — and even the critics agree on that — it’s very hard to explain why a surge of public spending wouldn’t have the same effect.

    Brad DeLong writes:

    But surely we believe that if the U.S. government were to follow the Countrywide plan--to send its representatives out onto the streets to have them walk up to people and say: "Here's $500,000. You can have it if you go buy a house"--then that would drive a recovery, right?

    What's interesting about these statements is not so much whether they are right or wrong (let's just say that it depends) but that Krugman and DeLong are so immersed in the Keynesian viewpoint that they cannot even see any other way of looking at the issue. Thus "even the critics" and "but surely we believe," as if no other view were conceivable.

    Well if the only frame you can see is the "spending increases employment" frame then whether the spending is private or public may seem like a niggle. But many of the critics of mass fiscal stimulus have an alternative frame in mind, namely, that "employment increases spending."

    Frame the issue this way and it becomes clear that the choice between private employment and public employment as a driver of spending is crucial. Moreover, when we remember that employment drives spending we focus attention on the real allocation of labor and capital across sectors of the economy, on internal and external fiscal balance, on investment as well as on consumption and on time paths of development. The "spending drives employment" frame misses all this.

    December 29, 2008 at 07:35 AM

    In re Gaza: What Is Occupation noted at Belmont the rather muted outrage of the usual suspects. This is one of the indicators of being on the right path. Another is the disappointment, frustration, and frothy contempt of the nahncees and whiskeys.

    So many moving parts. So little noise. I'd call that a good couple of days.

  5. ...or simply many are resigned to watching the same old thing yielding the same old results. Mind you I haven't checked out BC but I'm not seeing much new in the Israeli attacks and I don't expect doing the same old thing (repeating the you hit me I hit back 10x harder) will give a different result this time. What's that ole definition of insanity?

  6. I didn't really understand a word he said. Was he speaking Icelandic?

  7. You know, even I don't want to hear too much "supply sider" shit right now.

    Actually, I don't want to hear too much "Keynsian" shit either.

    Just fix the fucking mess, okay?

  8. Ash said...
    but I'm not seeing much new in the Israeli attacks and I don't expect doing the same old thing (repeating the you hit me I hit back 10x harder) will give a different result this time. What's that ole definition of insanity?


    No offense, your study of Israel and the Arab conflict sucks...

    The rules of engagement have been reset to more successful parameters...

    Once again FEAR is being instilled in the ARAB puny mind...

    Shoot rocket at Israel USED to be a afternoon party... Now if you shoot a rocket EXPECT to DIE...

    This is CHANGE...

    and good change it is....

    and if all the arabs/islamists learn is that if they attack Israel there will be HELL to pay then that is not the same old thing...

  9. Both can work, when the System is stable. They've operated in tandem, before.

    But the System is far from stable. Heard that over $8 trillion is sitting in cash, the owners unwilling to risk a further drumming by the System.

    The Federals have disperced over $300+ billion, buying preferred Bank eqities, with no authority, yet, over the management of the Banks. Not even to demand an accounting of the funds used to buy the preferred positions.

    The Fed Reserve has been pumping money directly to the banks, bypassing the historic inter-bank markets.

    Iceland is now a terrorist State, so declared by the UK, the staunchist US ally, in all the world. So there you have it, as regards those financial terrorist Icelanders.

  10. "I'm not seeing much new in the Israeli attacks and I don't expect doing the same old thing (repeating the you hit me I hit back 10x harder) will give a different result this time."

    Ash, you really should be over commiserating with the resident loonies at Wretchard's. There's so much more subtle encouragement and reinforcement to be undertaken there.

    If you have not, by the end of the day, gotten the excitable to screw themselves further into the ceiling, while in such a state failing to recognize or savor the fact that they are significantly in agreement with you, the bad liberal, well, you just haven't put much effort into it.

    For my part, I'm going grocery shopping.

  11. The 9% confidence in Congress and the 20 some % confidence in Bush has added up to a confidence deficit amongst the general population.

    And in the over reaction to the housing bubble bursting, due in most part to the 'markets' having allowed themselves to enrich themselves, fraudulently.

    Beyond the sub-prime underwriting, it was the repackaging of those loans, along with more conventional and prime lender loans and insuring that they were AAA, without any capital reserves to support the insurance.

    A criminal enterprise if any of you or I attempted such a scheme. One to be subsidized if the Federal Socialists and their cronies do it.

    Until confidence is returned to the public, there will be no recovery. Trendlines flow both ways and the correction could still find bottom 5 to 15 points above the trend, rather than 5 to 10 below.

    If Obama does not fumble, he could be a real confidence booster, though that would sure pain bob.

    Curiosity got to me and I scanned the BC. W coming to see the fallacy of the "Long War" was all I gained by it.

    He's a foereigner so the misjudgement of US can be understood, as to why he is so far behind the curve, but the others ...

    They do not believe in confidence, but fear the future. Sad, really.

  12. You got me to do a scan as well Trish. Mostly what I expected to read though I must say I was surprised at the popularity of the notion that Obama is a secret Muslim out to destroy Israel. Ms. T seems to have morphed into Michelle Renee for some reason and...

    Man that Israeli/Palestinian situation a mess. No, WiO, the urge to instill fear in the Arab is not new but rather has a long and tortured history.

  13. p.s. Shocking and Awing the palis for domestic political consumption - hmmm.....

  14. Nothing is more important for the US than to regain financial independence and economic strength.

    Everything should be made subservient to that goal or the US will become more reactive and subservient to failed dogma and tactics. That includes treaties, alliances, doctrine and sentimental attachments.

    If Obama is a pragmatist, he has a unique opportunity before him, or as a once Philadelphia Congressman, Ozzie Myers, once said, "I'm gonna tell you somethin' real simple and short. Money talks in the business and bullshit walks. And it works the same way down in Washington."

  15. Chicago's pols are punk asses compared to the Philadelphia crowd:

    from a Philadelphia reporter, Clark Deleon:

    "One of the bragging rights enjoyed by Philadelphia newspaper columnists over those from other American cities is the simple declaration that our politicians are more corrupt than theirs. I remember being interviewed by Noah Adams of NPR's "All Things Considered" during the height of the Abscam scandal in the early 1980's when Philadelphia elected officials, from City Council to Congress, were being locked up faster than a drive-through window at McDonald's.

    By the end of the sting operation prosecutions Philadelphia had lost two members of the U.S. House of Representatives and a half dozen members of City Council — including Council President George Schwartz — in the most outrageous pay-to-play scam ever concocted by the FBI.

    (Federal agents wearing phony beards were videotaped pretending to be Arab sheiks offering bribes to Pennsylvania and New Jersey politicians. Nowhere did elected officials sell their offices faster and more greedily than Philadelphia).

    At the end of the NPR interview about which city was more corrupt, Philadelphia or Chicago, I reminded Adams, "Just remember, we're No. 1!"

    It wasn't simply the scale of the graft sought by Philadelphia's crooked politicians, it was the style. Who can forget drunken South Philly Congressman Michael "Ozzie" Myers boasting on videotape to federal agents that in Philadelphia, "Money talks, bullsh—t walks"? Or a few years later when Councilman Leland Beloff tried to shake down developer Willard Rouse for $1 million using a Roman salute to silently signal the deal was done? I mean these guys acted like they were part of Tony Soprano's crew."

  16. May be wrong but I think Icelanders have the highest alcoholism rate in the world. But, there aren't that many of them.

    This Fellow thinks the Iraq war didn't go so badly, leaving aside the question whether there should have been one in the first place. Don't forget, the dems voted for it too.

    Ash said...
    but I'm not seeing much new in the Israeli attacks and I don't expect doing the same old thing (repeating the you hit me I hit back 10x harder) will give a different result this time.

    Well then Ash, unless you expect the Israelis to sit there and take it, maybe you'd see the wisdom of their just nuking the problem out of existence?

    What would you do?

    Negotiate, I suppose. Negotiate your own demise.

  17. At least we're all getting a good laugh (it doesn't take a whole, hell of a lot to make an American laugh) watching the financial, know-it-all, asshats like Mort Zuckerman scream like a stuck pig at the royal fucking they gave themselves via Bernie "Made Off" (what a hell of a name, eh?)

  18. There's only One Worthwhile Question at the end of a war; Did You Win?

    We Won.


  19. I want to hear General Ash's solution to daily incoming rockets from the folks next door.

    What's your solution Ash, to make it stop?

  20. I've never been less sure of anything in my life than I am as to what the price of a gallon of gasoline will be in 2009.

    To say, "I haven't the foggiest" would be to way overstate my certitude.

  21. Bernie really made a name for himself.

    Rufus, I can answer your question, because a prognosticator on Coast to Coast addressed the question the other night. You'll have to translate it from dollars per barrel to dollars per gallon though.

    His answer was, anywhere from $20 per barrel to $200 dollars per barrel, depending on what happens.

    There, I've cleared that up for you.

    Information you can use to plan ahead.

  22. You can buy access to his newsletter for a few bucks a month, but I wouldn't really recommend it.

  23. The Battle In Gaza and the Wider War

    Yup, I think Obama will make things worse. And I think his Achilles Heel might be energy policy, as I don't see he really has any. No nukes, no drilling, wants to build some windmills.

  24. The Rushin Perfesser looks kinda like Pat Buchanan, doesn't he? Sounds a lot like him, too. Twin brother, separated at birth?

    As for your energy expert, Bob; that was kind of the range I wuz looking at, too. But, mine was a little "broader." :)

  25. Rufus, just had a chat with an engineer I know. He says Idaho's on the wrong side of the Rockies for wind generating. Said if you windmilled the entire east side of the Rockies from border to border you might get 15% of the nation's electrical needs out of it, maybe, and would take a couple of decades to do. Forgot to ask about geothermal. He thought we'd get the nuclear plant down in south Idaho, sooner or later.

  26. Probably in 15 or 20 years our electicity needs will have increased by the amount, or more, that windmills can provide.

    Better get cracking.

  27. Any operation that doesn't result forthwith in the Potsdam Declaration is stupid and pointless, bob. We all *know* this. Ash *knows* it, nahncee *knows* it, Juan Cole *knows* it and, apparently, the bad penny Ledeen *knows* it.

    Somewhere a couple of days ago, however, there was one fellow sitting at his desk, looking at photos of dead guys and smiling.

    As so often in life, it's the little things that count.

  28. And somewhere, on the other side, a few days hence there will be a fellow looking at photos of other dead people, and grinning, just as ferociously.

    Another series of meaningless lifes lost, as far as the fellows that own those desks and their jockeies are concerned.

    As in Rome, bread & circuses.
    The venues and the scale of the circus has changed, but not the bump and grind of the show, that has stayed the same.
    Watching the titillating death of someone else.

  29. Get me a beer,
    and pass those peanuts,
    will ya please, barkeep?

  30. What you do, bob, is set up your radar to pinpoint the launching areas and have mortars or artillery at the ready to counter-battery each launch by Hamas of any rocket.

    The total area of Gaza in question is extremely small, 139 sq mi.

    That is smaller than Scottsdale AZ.
    Scottsdale has a population of 240,410
    - Density 1,305.2/sq mi

    Gaza has 1,482,405 folks and a density of 10,665/sq mi.

    Almost eight times as many people per square mile. One of mat's paradises on earth, for the electric car.

  31. All of Israel is smaller than Maricopa County and Gaza is smaller than Scottsdale.

    That this is a continued "Crisis" is an example of how inept the leaders of the past 60 years have been, if they were truthful in their attempts to solve it.

    It is and has always been a manufactured hot spot, since the demise of the Ottomans, anyway.

  32. Labor Secretary Marianito Roque said the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) is closely monitoring the employment situation in the export zones. “The export industry is definitely affected because it is dependent on credit,” he said.

    “We are going to talk to locators and see who are vulnerable. We are concerned about the Taiwanese and Korean locators,” Roque added.

    Both Taiwan and South Korea are export-oriented economies heavily battered by the global economic meltdown.

    Export Sector

  33. While at the grocery I purchased a nice Swiss. To be cubed, speared, and dipped lightly in celery salt. A little sausage, a few cornichons, and you have the perfect beer snack. But then, of course, you must have the perfect beer. Alas, it's not to be had here. Chimay will do.

  34. What you do, bob, is set up your radar to pinpoint the launching areas and have mortars or artillery at the ready to counter-battery each launch by Hamas of any rocket.

    - Rat

    Like we've been doing across the border from Afghanistan? For six years?

  35. Blogger trish said...

    Any operation that doesn't result forthwith in the Potsdam Declaration is stupid and pointless, bob. We all *know* this. Ash *knows* it...

    Your sarcasm is noted and no, any operation that doesn't yield such a declaration is not necessarily a failure in my view. I do, however, object to the notion that there is a military solution to this particular problem. Possibly the firing of rockets could be countered as Rat advises but I think even that solution has proved untenable. You, like Bobal, and many other are looking for the General to lead the Israelis and Palis out of the mess they've created for themselves. Alas the solution (and I do not suggest there is an easy one) lies elsewhere. The Israelis have made their bed and they are lying in it. There is a long history to this and more of the same is not likely to yield different results.

  36. Ash, I never suggested that the current operation is the cure for cancer. I think they're doing the right thing, and doing it well - the perfect thing being nowhere near at hand.

  37. There is little simularity between the Gaza Strip and th border region of Afghanistan/Pakistan, trish.

    Population density tells that tale.
    I've seen the videos, there are not even 500 people per square mile, neat the border.

    No one is shelling Kabul, from Pakistan. The comparison as a tactical strategy to stop future rocket attacks, not at all applicable

  38. Just south Warizistan, alone, has 4,473 square miles of territory, much of it out of range of even 155mm artillery, from Afghanistan.
    All of Gaza can be targeted by Israeli artillery.

    South Warizistan has a population of 429,841, a third of Gaza's with 39 times the territory.

    Fire away and hit the dirt and stone. That will not happen in GAza.

    Similar strategies are not applicable as the problems are vastly different.

  39. South Warizistan, 100 people per square mile, not 10,000.

    One effort has failed, the other could bring results, in a political conflict such as in Gaza.

  40. Yesterday the President betrayed signs of nervousness. "We know that Pakistan is in difficulty.

    We need more help," he said, adopting a plaintive tone. "We deny that Pakistan is a failed state.

    We ourselves have accepted that we have a cancer. But we are the cure."

    Tensions With India

  41. A tidbit from sam's link. The Pakistani surge to the Indian border, while verbally protesting the US for attacking Pakistan. This course of action will not fly with real patriotic Pakistanis, not for long.

    Setting up the Indians as strawmen is the historical norm for Pakistan, here they go again. Right on schedule we hear the plea

    "Send another $14 Bn USD, please"

    Islamabad, Pakistan - Pakistan summoned the US ambassador today to protest over missile strikes by pilotless US aircraft on the Pakistani side of its border with Afghanistan, a Pakistani government spokesman said. The protest came two day after missiles fired by a suspected US drone killed up to 20 militants in the lawless South Waziristan border region.

    Still averaging a better KIA ratio than the Israeli.

  42. If someone is dumb enough to take target practice at
    Israel, let them suffer the consequences.

    However, Israel is not a US problem or a responsibility. If the Arabs or the Shiites care about the Palestinians, let them take care of them.

    Israel is going no where. No combination of Arab countries can do anything seriously against Israel and live to tell the tale.

    Israel has all the capabilities of defending itself and it has the luxury of running a welfare state at the same time. The US would be doing itself and
    Israel a favor by staying out of hostilities and the entire so-called peace process.

  43. This comment has been removed by the author.

  44. That this is a continued "Crisis" is an example of how inept the leaders of the past 60 years have been, if they were truthful in their attempts to solve it.

    As long as US Presidents are holding hands with Saudi Jihadis, expect this morbid theater to continue.

  45. Doubtful as President elect Obama has promised to be hands on, from day one, ready, willing and able.

    An undivided Jerusalem that is the capital of Israel and Palistine.

    No sense in rebuilding the facility at Turtle Bay, move the General Assembly to Jerusalem, make it an open International city.

  46. trish said...

    "I think they're doing the right thing, and doing it well - the perfect thing being nowhere near at hand."

    While I agree that the perfect thing is nowhere near at hand as well I'm not convinced they are doing the right thing. I mean, what are they doing? It appears they are bombing the heck out of anything that has the semblance of a Hamas label on it. What will that achieve in the end? Will it stop the rockets? I doubt it. Early evidence appears to suggest that rocket fire has increased. Will it remove the allure of Hamas from the hearts of the locals? I doubt it. In fact they, like Hezbollah, will gain support from the actions. Basically the Israelis are raining terror down from above. History suggests that such bombing does little to encourage the locals to view the enemy in a favorable fashion leading to peace down the road. There certainly appears to be very little military to degrade so the door remains open for the Israelis to march in an occupy the place that doesn't seem to hold much appeal to them.

  47. The Islamists have warned they could resume suicide attacks against Israel for the first time since January 2005.

    The Israeli attacks came after days of spiralling violence since the expiry of a tenuous six-month truce in and around Gaza on December 19. They also come ahead of early parliamentary elections in Israel called for February 10.

    Earlier today, Israel turned the force of its punishing Gaza campaign toward Hamas field operatives, bombing their homes to tear at the roots of the militant organization.

    Destroy Hamas

  48. The simplicity of the counter-battery strategy, it is both overwhelming while being totally proportional.

    Tit immediately after a tat.
    There'd be a lot of collateral damage and soon a...
    "Not in My Neighborhood"
    attitude would develop, amongst those living in Gaza.

    Or not.

  49. Trish: What you do, bob, is set up your radar to pinpoint the launching areas and have mortars or artillery at the ready to counter-battery each launch by Hamas of any rocket.

    And then you do what Krauthammer suggested, and set the whole thing on automatic. Every missile from Gaza to the Negev results in a missile flying back from the Negev to Gaza, with no human in the decision loop. No more international condemnation. Every rocket attack will amount to the Gazans banging their head on a very hard wall, and the more frequently they bang their head, the more lumps they get.

  50. The simplicity of the counter-battery strategy, it is both overwhelming while being totally proportional.

    Exactly. When the IDF starts using their 155 canons, we'll know they're beginning to get serious. Until then, all this amounts to is just an expensive show.

  51. Why couldn't the Gazans set their rockets to fire with timers, getting the hell out of the firing area before launch?

    Might be better to just go the whole hog, fire at Gaza City, after all, the Gazans are firing at civilians.

    Someone said refurbish a couple of b-52's and carpet bomb the place.

  52. The US won't sell the B-52's bob.

    The neighbors know the rocketeers, when they realize the consequence, immediate consequence, of allowing the rocketeers to operate, they'll develop a "Not in My Neighborhood" attitude.

    That would, more than anything else, lead to the people turning on Hamas.

  53. The object is not to kill the rocketeers, bob, but turn the population.

    Develop plans for expanding the living area, triple or quaduple the living space, into the Sinai. Take down the wall and improve the quality of live for the Gazaians.

    While bracketing the targets, one long, one short, fire for effect. In an urban landscape, like Gaza, the collateral damage from artillery fire would be extensive.

    An effective tit compared to the blank tats the rocketeers tend to fire.

  54. Jerk chicken.

    I make a helluva jerk chicken.

    The red beans and rice were a cheater. I used Goya. I do prefer their pinto beans and rice. None to be had at the Giant Eagle.

  55. Israel has all the capabilities of defending itself and it has the luxury of running a welfare state at the same time. The US would be doing itself and
    Israel a favor by staying out of hostilities and the entire so-called peace process.

    Mon Dec 29, 07:19:00 PM EST

    So your notion to bring Israel into NATO has been discarded?

    They're gonna be heartbroken, the Israelis are.

  56. I think they've been trying to do that re. the rocketeers - kill them. The logistical problem being a single or couple of guys dash out, set up the rocket, and fire it all within a minute or two and they run off. Response time doesn't follow close enough to hit the buggers. As far as turning the population, well, that's been the desire all along with the you hit me I'll hit you ten times harder. It ain't workin'.

  57. Rat, who are you kidding, you wouldn't have a room temperature word of praise were the Israelis firing artillery into Gaza. It would simply be one more occasion for remote scorn. That is your game.

  58. No, ash, the Israeli hit the approved target list, Police Hdqtrs, Mosques and such.

    Just as they did in Lebannon, bombing the same buildings, again and again. That's their style.

    Now they are targeting the homes of the "leaders" who are already living underground, elsewhere.

    If it didn't work, there'd you be.
    But the rtillery is only one part of the "Plan". The Israeli object to the opening of the Egyptian border, insisting that they control all traffic, electric and water to the area.

    That should change, the Gaza residents reclaiming their Egyptian heritage and natural citizenship.

  59. Not as part of a real peace package, trish. Which would include opening Gaza to Egyptian authority.

    Cornerstone of the strategy, really.

    A combined operation of carrots out weighing the stick, but using the stick, to make the point. To achieve a victory.

    To end the war. Not prolong the status que of crisis.

  60. rat, sure, that's what they've been hitting in the latest series of attacks but these rocket attacks have been a persistent problem for quite awhile now. The Israelis have been trying to counter it all this time. They've been trying to hone in on the 'spot' and blasting it. The problem remains - it is a single guy or two running out shootin' the damn thing and then splitting. The casualty rate has been very low - hardly and existential threat to the State. The other approach has been trying to interdict the importation of supplies necessary to build this little rockets. They fire off a bigger one every now and then but it is the Quassam that seems to be the main rocket.

  61. As counter-battery fire, trish, it is purely defensive, politically.

    Not an aggresive move by Israel on Gaza. The cease-fire in Hamas's hands. But smother the launch sites with fire, while offering a peace with an Egyptian occupation as the authority.

  62. Mon Dec 29, 07:19:00 PM EST

    So your notion to bring Israel into NATO has been discarded?

    They're gonna be heartbroken, the Israelis are.

    Not at all, Israel in Nato, an established treaty organization, with defined obligations and benefits is far different from the nebulous special relationship without reciprocal obligations, that currently exists between the US and Israel.

    Israeli membership in NATO should be the high water mark for a US-Israeli relationship not a consolation prize. Israel is the child of European failures and a refuge for Jews tired of being murdered by Europeans when they get the urge for a pogrom or two.

    Israel exists and will continue to exist. Being part of the EU and NATO would not be a perfect solution but would ensure the end to the Arab myth that there is the possibility that Israel will not exist. It would also give cover to rational moderate Arabs that accept normal peaceful and profitable relationships with Israel.

  63. 3 Genes = 50 Million Dead

    Researchers make progress tracking down the culprit of the 1918 flu epidemic.

  64. But, ash, the target is not the rocketeers. Whether they get away or not is unimportant.

    The population of Gaza has been greatly inconvienced, in their battle with Israel, but have yet to suffer physically from the siege tactics the Israeli have used, to date.

    The Israeli have to return Gaza to Eygpt, whom they took it from in 1967.

    Not to create a rump of a CityState that is more of a ghetto than a city and not any kind of a real State.

  65. Bring Israel into NATO is a good idea.

  66. The best jerk chicken comes from the Filipinos.

  67. The problem with Israeli membership in NATO, in my view, is that would obligate US and other NATO members to support many policies of Israel which we do no necessarily agree. Membership for Israel could, very quickly, drag US into a wider middle east war which would most probably not be in our interest. Why bind ourselves so intimately to such a 'problem child'? NATO had a purpose vis a vis the Soviets and Europe what's the purpose vis a vis Israel? Sentiment?

  68. The Egyptians don't want them. The Jordanians sure don't want them.

  69. Escalate the "Death from Above" until the Peace Process is palatable to the Gazaians.

    The Peace policed by the Eygptians, in Gaza.

    By Jordan on the West Bank.

    Countries that Israel is a peace with.

  70. Looked at from another point of view, Ash, it might prevent the Israelis from going Lone Ranger against Iran. You've been against attacking Iran.

  71. Rat, on the face, this current attack is all about the rockets. Now this may be an excuse to attack but, then, for what goal? There is an election looming in Israel and a populace pissed off by the constant incoming fire. They've carefully laid the diplomatic framework for the current bombing runs. The main goal, in my view, has to do with domestic Israeli politics. The bigger game, not much has changed.

  72. I can honestly say, dear host, that that is some of the most convoluted thinking I have come across.

    In the past fifteen minutes.

  73. Escalate the "Death from Above"

    Back to the B-52's which we won't sell.

    Quess the F-16's can do the same thing, only taking a little longer.

    It does seem the solution to the problem lies in a real change of attitude among the Gazans.

    If I was running the place I'd turn it into a gambling, diamond trading, and banking center. Stuff like that. Scuba diving off the coast. Belly dancing.

  74. Nato has evolved from being a bulwark against Soviet aggression.

    Nato has decided that is a force against regional instability. The concept has legs in Eastern Europe and the Middle East in Turkey.

    Israel would have to comply with Nato and would obviously find Nato less pliable than US politicians. That would take some adjustment, but Israel does not have a better plan "B".

  75. We've had three straight days of rumblings and grumblings from Yellowstone, which is unusual. The scientists are flocking to their instruments.

    If I Go Silent, It Was Nice Talking To You All

  76. Thinking is by its very nature is convoluted. It is up to the speaker to define the clarity in the thought and the listener to determine if it was successful. I obviously failed to make my case with you or perhaps the beans have been disagreeable.

  77. We had an earthquake in Costa Rica about twenty minutes ago. It lightly disturbed my tranquility.

  78. This comment has been removed by the author.

  79. The secret to Israel's success is having come up with a Plan B, C, and D, roughly every two weeks for the entirety of its existence. If they need NATO, they're in far more trouble than NATO can hope to ameliorate.

  80. Exactly, ash, victory and peace have to be defined, then achieved.

    The Eygptians or the Chinese could police Gaza, it's smaller than Scottsdale, AZ., for Pete's sake.

    It is a not Country, a City, but no State.

    It is a comical pretension to even assert it could be. Lacking the seriousness that adults should bring to the table.

    You asked, bob, what could be done. With a mixture of diplomacy and force the way forward is clear.

  81. Israel in ‘all-out war’ on Hamas
    By Tobias Buck in Jerusalem, Harvey Morris at the United Nations, and Andrew Ward in Washington
    Financial Times

    Israel on Monday declared it was in “all-out war” against militant Palestinian group Hamas as international calls grew for a diplomatic solution to be found.

    Hamas and other militant Palestinian groups on Monday fired at least 60 rockets at Israeli towns, suggesting that three days of heavy bombardment of the Gaza Strip by Israeli warplanes has yet to dent the Islamists’ ability to inflict pain on its enemy.

    The barrage from the Gaza Strip, which killed two Israeli and injured many more, came amid further massive air strikes on the Hamas-controlled territory and warnings that Israel would escalate attacks that have already claimed the lives of at least 325 Palestinians. A United Nations agency said it had determined that at least 62 civilians had been killed in Gaza.

    Ehud Barak, Israel’s defence minister, told parliament Monday that the country was engaged in an “all-out war against Hamas and its kind”, sounding a line that appeared markedly tougher than earlier statements by other ministers."

    interesting time line

  82. Makes no difference what they want, bob.

    We pay them both, huge amounts of money each year. They take it or the fence/wall is destroyed and the folks force to migrate.

    Give 'em no choice, bob. That's why we pay 'em, to do as we want, or quit payin' 'em.

    Peace could be at hand bob. The Chinese would send policemen, they are acceptable to the Israeli and the Eygptians, both. Both already do lots of business with China, they are an acceptable partner in peace

    The World could find a way, it is not the big a deal, really. Move 1.5 million people, nothin' at all, really, as migrations go.

  83. Well to remember - isn't it always - the reason we began NATO expansion: Post-Soviet economic integration. NATO was the road to the EU. The military liabilities were not a concern.

  84. The problem with the framing of the beast as an "all out war with Hamas" is what the heck that means. Traditionally you take over your enemies territory and run their institutions. What will a victory over Hamas look like? Israel has no intention (from what I can tell) of occupying Gaza and running their institutions. If they are unwilling to invade, occupy, and run the place, what the heck is victory? Do they seriously hope to simply kill all the Hamas supporters and leave the running of Gaza to Fatah, or the Egyptians, as Rat wishes? The Egyptians have no desire to run Gaza, Israel has no desire to run Gaza. They can't simply bomb Hamas out of existence. Tough nut this one...

  85. Conversely, one of the chief reasons Israel is an ally is not because it is a weak sister, but because it is an effective counter to Iran.

  86. The EU knows deep down it’s ideology is untenable. No way would Greece stand for 3,000 rocket attacks directed at it’s civilians from Albania, no way would France tolerate the same from an elected body of Germans in the Palatinate directed by “revenge” and return of Alsace-Lorraine.

    Nor is the European drive to selectively establish moral equivalency and peace at any price working out. By seeking to stop a war from reaching a conclusion and by stating both sides in a conflict are “morally equivalent” all the Euros and the UN have done is suceed in establishing about 40-50 unresolved global conflicts where both sides are told they are morally equivalent (thus, in the right…). Left unfinished, for decades. And both sides arm and anticipate future conflict in peacetime, that can flare up at any time.

    Of course Right-Wingers have their foibles too, like screeching about their beloved noble Georgian “Freedom-Lovers!” paying a steep price for stupidly starting a war, that Russia then happily finished.

    All I am saying, is give war a chance.

    Once started, wars may in fact produce less casualties and a more lasting peace if taken to conclusion. Nor are the civilians that support war or unrelenting conflict and hostility towards another people best left immune to consequences. Geneva and all the vaunted “human rights” crap aside - unless civilians think they will pay a steep price or do so, they will continue to support sending someone else’s sons out as gunfodder to fuel their dreams.

  87. I'm willing to bet I won't live to see the day when the Chinese are policing Gaza. But you never know.

    But then, with the rumblings from the south east I might not live long.

    If she blows, you'll liking get a dusting of ash down your way Rat.

    I don't think the maps in that article show the real deal. Other articles I've read show I'd be under about 30 feet of ash.


    what the heck is victory?

    That's the good question. How do you ever make a temporary peace stick? You're right Israel doesn't want to go back in there permanently, so they say. How do you ever make it stick?


  88. The mission, if accepted by both sides, could potentially allow for the easing of restrictions on checkpoints across the Palestinian territories.

    Israeli air strikes continued on Tuesday with attacks targeting Hamas ministry and security buildings that destroyed the foreign and finance ministries, Hamas sources and witnesses said.

    In all, the Israeli campaign has killed at least 360 Palestinians and wounded more than 1,690, the director of Gaza's emergency services, Moawiya Abu Hassanein, told AFP.

    Gaza Crisis

  89. Israel does not need NATO and NATO does not want Israel.

    None of the so-called nuclear powers of Pakistan, India, Israel, N Korea, or Iran have missiles that can deliver a nuke warhead to CONUS. Only the Russians have the capability with China close behind.

    I favor a missile defense and continued work on it. But I don’t see us in dire danger from any of those nations “nuking” us any time soon, or for that matter Israel. Nuclear deterrence is the only plausible reason for NATO to exist.

  90. When the Czech Republic takes over the rotating EU Presidency on January 1, it will have a tough act to follow after France, which is widely regarded to have had an impressive stint at the bloc's helm in the face of numerous global crises.


    The Czech Republic will have to represent the EU at a summit that Russia will host at some point during its presidency.


    Russia will also be a factor in the preparations for an EU Neighborhood Policy "Eastern Partnership" summit scheduled to take place in Prague in the spring. The Eastern Partnership project was conceived by Poland and Sweden as a response to the French-inspired creation of a Mediterranean Union earlier this year.

    EU Presidency

  91. That would take some adjustment, but Israel does not have a better plan "B".

    When oil is no longer a factor, there will be no more jihadis. The Sinai Jordan Lebanon Syria Iraq will all be part of Israel. Anything identified as Jihadi will be killed.

  92. Nuclear deterrence is the only plausible reason for NATO to exist

    Poland, and some of the other small countries, might disagree.

  93. Mat, you sound like Menachem Begin, with his talk of from the Nile to the Great Rivers.

  94. Looks like the attack in Bombay is having some of it's intended results--

    The Taliban activity in northwest Pakistan also comes as the country shifts forces east to the Indian border because of tensions over last month's terrorist attacks in Mumbai, potentially giving insurgents more space to maneuver along the Afghan frontier.

    Taliban Behead and Burn Through Swat Valley

  95. Only I would have insisted Egypt quarry the limestone of the pyramids and hand it over as payment for a ceasefire.

  96. Btw,

    Everything that goes on in Gaza, goes on with the connivance of Egypt. Make no mistake about that.

  97. What is common to these specific threats is their unconventionality. Between 1948 and 1982 Israel coped relatively well with the threat from conventional Arab armies.

    Indeed, it repeatedly trounced them. But Iran’s nuclear threat, the rise of organizations like Hamas and Hezbollah that operate from across international borders and from the midst of dense civilian populations, and Israeli Arabs’ growing disaffection with the state and their identification with its enemies, offer a completely different set of challenges.

    And they are challenges that Israel’s leaders and public, bound by Western democratic and liberal norms of behavior, appear to find particularly difficult to counter.

    Feels Threatened


  99. Well, good--

    December 29, 2008 - by Patrick Poole

    The Jerusalem Post reported on Monday that Israeli Defense Forces aircraft bombed suspected Hamas terror laboratories located at the Hamas-run Islamic University of Gaza (IUG).

    According to the article, IUG professors were using the labs to build explosives for the terrorist organization. A BBC report confirmed that the IUG science building was the target of the Israeli retaliatory strikes.

    Thus far unreported is that the IUG science and technology lab was financed and constructed with the assistance of the Dublin, Ohio-based Arab Student Aid International (ASAI). In fact, the IUG website has a page dedicated to ASAI’s ongoing contributions to the Hamas institution and specifically mentions the labs financed by the Ohio Islamic group. Additionally, the ASAI website promotes its assistance in creating the IUG science and technology center, which was completed in 2002.

    In a previously published article I revealed ASAI’s extensive financial ties to the IUG, including direct cash payments to the Hamas school in addition to the facilities construction projects supported by ASAI. The Washington Post also revealed in April 2006 that ASAI had financed the Western education of a number of top Hamas leaders.

    The organization’s primary benefactor is Prince Turki Ben Abdul Aziz, a former high-ranking Saudi government official and half-brother to King Abdullah. Prince Turki has lived in exile in Egypt since the 1970s following a highly-publicized marriage scandal, his 100+ entourage occupying the top three floors of the Cairo Ramses Hilton. The prince serves as ASAI’s chairman of the board, and the labs built by ASAI at the IUG bear his name.

  100. Blogger 2164th said...

    The best jerk chicken comes from the Filipinos.

    Mon Dec 29, 09:29:00 PM EST

    To which Trish replies:

    Blogger trish said...

    I can honestly say, dear host, that that is some of the most convoluted thinking I have come across.

    In the past fifteen minutes.

    Mon Dec 29, 09:36:00 PM EST

    Lesson learned? Never scorn Trish's jerk chicken.

    Care to share your recipe, Trish?