“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."

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Nation Building in Afghanistan

Do you think much has changed in one year?

Lessons Learned in U.S. Nation-Building Efforts

  • Many factors -- such as prior democratic experience, level of economic development, and social homogeneity -- can influence the ease or difficulty of nation-building, but the single most important controllable determinant seems to be the level of effort, as measured in troops, money, and time.
  • Multilateral nation-building is more complex and time-consuming than a unilateral approach. But the multilateral approach is considerably less expensive for individual participants.
  • Multilateral nation-building can produce more thorough transformations and greater regional reconciliation than can unilateral efforts.
  • Unity of command is as essential in peace operations as it is in war. This unity of command can be achieved even in operations with broad multilateral participation when the major participants share a common vision and tailor the response of international institutions accordingly.
  • There appears to be an inverse correlation between the size of the military stabilization force and the level of casualties. The higher the proportion of troops relative to the resident population, the lower the number of casualties suffered and inflicted. Indeed, most of the post-conflict operations that were generously manned suffered no casualties at all.
  • Neighboring states can exert significant influence, for good or bad. It is nearly impossible to put together a fragmented nation if its neighbors try to tear it apart. Every effort should be made to secure their support.
  • Accountability for past injustices can be a powerful component of democratization. Such accountability can be among the most difficult and controversial aspects of any nation-building endeavor, however, and therefore should be attempted only if there is a deep and long-term commitment to the overall operation.
  • There is no quick fix for nation-building. None of our cases was successfully completed in less than seven years.
Source: America's Role in Nation-Building: From Germany to Iraq, by James Dobbins, et al., RAND, 2003.

Further reading

Reliability of Afghan army called into question by Pentagon

By Ben Farmer in Kabul and James Kirkup Published: 7:00AM BST 14 Jul 2010 Telegraph

Raising the competence of the force is central to the entire Nato strategy for Afghanistan. Western nations have said they will withdraw their forces only when the Afghans can secure the country themselves.

With the Afghan National Police widely regarded as corrupt and unreliable, even greater importance rests on the Afghan National Army (ANA).

Nato leaders have repeatedly claimed that the ANA is making excellent progress, but those claims have been questioned by a US government audit.

Arnold Fields, the US Defense Department’s inspector general for Afghanistan, concluded that the capabilities of many “top-rated” ANA units have been “overstated” by Nato commanders.

Several ANA units officially passed as able to operate without international support or guidance have not proved they are capable of independent operations, the auditor found in a report last month.

Nato admits that Afghan forces remain totally reliant on Nato for air support and artillery, for medical evacuation from the battlefield and often for supplies.

The audit’s findings are echoed by Nato commanders in the field.

Many Nato troops have hair-raising stories of careless young Afghan soldiers accidentally firing their weapons, including rocket launchers.

Commanders in the field have also occasionally questioned the Afghans’ commitment.

On a recent visit to the Babaji area of Helmand, where yesterday’s shooting took place, The Daily Telegraph saw Afghan troops refuse to carry their own food or water on patrol and demand that Gurkhas supply them instead.
Some Afghan soldiers also refuse to patrol at night or in the heat of midday. One British officer said: “The Afghan soldiers and police like to have fresh food. They are fixed to their meal times. Sometimes they have been out on patrol and said 'It’s lunchtime, it’s over’ .”

There are currently about 119,000 members of the ANA. To allow the transfer of security duties, Nato has set a target of 171,000, due to be reached by 2014. That means an accelerated process that sees new recruits given two months’ basic training before being assigned to units, often formed from scratch.

Prof Michael Clarke of the Royal United Services Institute said a few units are of good quality but, because of the short training period for rank-and-file soldiers, “the quality is always going to be patchy”.

There are questions about the commitment of the ANA and Prof Clarke estimated that one in ten newly trained ANA soldiers go absent without leave.

British officers training the ANA say that there is a particular shortage of non-commissioned officers, the sergeants and sergeants-major who are the backbone of any modern army.

Paul Flynn, a Labour backbencher and critic of the Afghan war, described the ANA as “a group of drug-addicted mercenaries” that could not be trusted.

He said: “Its members have little or no loyalty to their election-rigging president, their own government or international governments. Why on earth do we expect to build a stable Afghanistan on that crumbling foundation?


  1. What does an employer and business owner do when a significant part of his work force are stoners and drug addicts?

    A. Close the business.
    B. Relocate.
    C. Fire the workers.
    D. Find a job.

    The political leadership in Washington and the Pentagon have to have a reason to maintain this charade. National defense cannot possibly be one of them. Can it?

  2. This is, absolutely, the silliest thing we've ever done.

  3. Let me point out something:

    The video clip is over a year old. The Telegraph article is from today. The nation building analysis is from 2005.

    Clearly the Pentagon has bought into the entire nation building concept. That goes back to the wars with American Indians and reached its pinnacle with the US occupations of Japan and Germany.

    It also should be clear to the Pentagon that successful nation building followed the unquestioned unambiguous destruction and defeat of the enemy.

    Why are not more American general officers resigning in protest and speaking out over this nonsense?

    Why does honesty and a realistic appraisal have to come from sergeants and enlisted troops on the ground?

    Are their careers that important to them?

    We know the politicians, our rulers and masters, are shit sack merchants. We know that few in the MSM will call the shit masters on it under Obama.

  4. Yes, their careers are that important to them. They were in Vietnam, and they are here.

  5. B-52's on the Pashtun, and split the country up, or get out.


  6. Every empire gets to chew on Afghanistan for a while just before they break up. Alexander did it. Queen Victoria did it. Brezhnev did it. Now it's Obama's turn.

    So is Svetlana available for me to hit on, or is she just Bob in drag?

  7. Any moron private (like me) knew his second day "in-country" that the Vietnamese didn't give a shit about "Johnson's War." At that point he started counting the days.

    Any moron can see this is even worse.

  8. Wouldn't it be fun to have half a dozen combat sergeants, (not hand picked by the Pentagon) to testify in congress without the powerpoint charts.

    In 1967 many in my outfit had been rotated in and out of Viet Nam on a TDY basis. At that time air force regs could not send you on a third consecutive overseas assignment so they sent us TDY. Almost all went to Da Nang.

    Most of the enlisted men thought there was no way we were going to win. None of the officers thought we would not.

  9. The amazing thing is, "We" have nothing to gain. In Alexander's time it was the silk road. Brezhnev wanted to get to the Indian Ocean. We're just there breaking our Army, and our treasury, for no good reason.

  10. The enlisted men talked to the Vietnamese. The officers talked to each other.

  11. I'll take on anybody T it's my job.

    Till I go to college this fall, then I'm a new girl.

  12. Bob doesn't do drag he's just an honest older farmer in love.

    He made up Svetlana just for the fun of it.

  13. The thing is those Afghanis are reacting in a fairly rational way. They're getting little money, and NO glory.

    They could give a rats ass if the Americans take that hill, or not. They know the Americans are leaving, and that Karzai, and his crew, are going to take all the money. They know that next year they're either going to be sitting around smoking hashish, or they're going to be dead at the hands of the Taliban. They'd rather be sitting around smoking hash.

    I don't blame them.

  14. In short, they know that this is a joke, and not a joke worth dying for.

  15. The sorry thing is about all of this is we didn't have any argument at all with the Afghans till the shit hit the fan on 9/11 and none of them really had anything to do with it. Just a few at the top. Whole thing is damned sad.

  16. Svetlana: I'll take on anybody T it's my job. Till I go to college this fall, then I'm a new girl.

    Sort of a reversal of the Lesbian Until Graduation (LUG) concept.

  17. I do like your legs though, Miss T.


  18. I was halfway through The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo by the time we left Cartagena. Hadn't managed to pick it up again since.

    Finished it late last night.

    Stieg Larsson should probably be shot for going out of his way to write the most dissatisfying ending ever in the history of literature.

    Really. There oughta be a law.

    Today I pick up the final third of Under The Banner Of Heaven.

    Trish has to leave home and be cooped up with The Family to read a book anymore.

    Sad but true.

    What are you people missing? Trish's brother's campfire story of The Bleeding Hemorrhoids.

    To be entered into the Campfire Story Hall of Fame.

  19. A good article on life in Gaza:

  20. But you must have stayed at a Holiday Inn last night, coming up with the best metaphor:

    "bleeding hemorrhoid"

  21. You like it? I'm so glad.

    We're staying way the hell out on one end of the lake. Same house as last time, three years ago.

    A certain cousin's boyfriend, not saying whose, needs to be taken aside and have campfire story protocol explained to him. Like, you do not get a whole half hour to yourself. Especially as a newcomer. You take ten minutes, tops, and then let someone else take the lead.

    My mother and I spoke about this yesterday morning. No one wants to discourage him, but honestly. We've got a lot of people and a lot of stories and have to keep things interesting and moving along.

  22. I just saw a coyote run by the front door. He or she must live in the wheat field to the east. It's the second time I've seen he or she.

  23. Trish, maybe all you people need to go skinny dipping, it's very relaxing, and takes the edge off.

  24. You know what else takes the edge off? Speaking for others:

    A half gallon of both cheap rum and Tanqueray. Five bottles of wine. Four cases of beer. And (ugh) numberless Smirnoff coolers.

    And, lemme see, it's only WED.

    I personally do not go in the lake, naked or otherwise, because it's full of shit you cannot see.

    And no, Blue, you do not have my permission to use "bleeding homorrhoid" in conjunction with any official of the present administration.

  25. NATO's International Security Assistance Force confirmed the eight American deaths. Five died Wednesday in southern Afghanistan, one in a bombing and the others in a small-arms attack. Three were killed Tuesday as they repelled an insurgent attack on a police base in Kandahar city.

    At the Afghan police station, 3 Americans and one Afghani cop killed. That pretty much tells you all.

  26. There you go again what the hell is WED?

    Speak in plain ENGLISH will you ever?

  27. Oh, and a bottle of tequila.

    Not good tequila, mind you.

    I missed that little party.

  28. wed
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       /wɛd/ Show Spelled [wed] Show IPA verb, wed·ded or wed, wed·ding.
    –verb (used with object)
    to marry (another person) in a formal ceremony.
    to unite (a couple) in marriage or wedlock; marry.
    to bind by close or lasting ties; attach firmly: She wedded herself to the cause of the poor.
    to blend together or unite inseparably: a novel that weds style and content perfectly.
    –verb (used without object)
    to contract marriage; marry.
    to become united or to blend: a building that will wed with the landscape.
    Use wed in a Sentence
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    bef. 900; ME wedde, OE weddian to pledge; c. G wetten to bet, ON vethja to pledge

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    Related Words for : wed
    conjoin, espouse, get hitched with, get married, hook up with

    Jesus I have no idea what you are talking about.

  29. I have got my dad to talk more about Vietnam.

    He was slated to go to Korea but had his heart set on going to war, which desire was granted.

    When he arrived they showed him on the map where he was to be located. The map went from floor to ceiling. He was to be up on the ceiling. On the DMZ.

    He'd just come out of Holabird was to be a CI adviser to the Vietnamese. "The Vietnamese have been running CI operations for a thousand years. What the fuck am I supposed to advise them about?"

    He still had his Artillery insignia on his uniform, however, and felt that saved him somewhat from what he thought a laughable position.

    That's how he ended up in the Piper Cub.

  30. Keep him talking, Trish. It will be good for you, and Great for him.

    He's bound to have some good stories; many will probably be funny, and a few might even be True. :)

  31. Easier said than done, keeping him talking.

    He's the quietest man on earth.

    He has to be caught in the rare talkative mood and brought to the subject more or less incidentally. And then there can be no crashing of the conversation on the parts of more or less beloved, but oblivious others.

  32. A silent man is generally a good man, you're a lucky woman. It's the talkers cause most of the trouble. After all if there is no jaw jaw there is hardly ever an argument. My wife's father for instance, I bet no more than twenty words passed between us. He liked me, he gave me a dulcimer, and his daughter, too. Both great presents.

  33. What's the worst portion
    In this mortal life?
    A mysterious mistress?
    Or a talkative wife?

  34. What's the worst portion
    In this mortal life?
    A talkative mistress?
    Or a mysterious wife?

  35. What's the worst portion
    In this mortal life?
    A talkative client
    And a bounced check.


  36. "A silent man is generally a good man, you're a lucky woman."

    I think it's a neutral characteristic all on its own.

  37. What's the worst portion
    In this mortal life?
    A talkative client
    And a bounced check.

    Conan! What is best in life?

    "To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of their women."

  38. My son is a very quiet guy, to say "hi" is a big conversation, but I've come to love him for it, as I remember my father in law, uncle Newland, and a farmer friend named Earl C. All tall, dark, productive and.....silent.

  39. Rufus,

    Instead of relying mostly on an intuitive sense that ethanol is not a viable source of portable fuel that can eliminate a substantial amount of the US dependence on foreign oil (a view supported by a number of articles/analyses I have encountered), I have decided to conduct a review of the analytical basis for the counter argument.

    To that end, could you please provide me with links to what you would consider the most thorough "business cases" for corn based ethanol in the US? I would be most grateful.

    By the way, I may be in Memphis in the next month and would relish the opportunity to meet in person and drink a cold one over some of Memphis' finest BBQ!


  40. It would, indeed, be a pleasure, jwillie. You can reach me at - - I'm quite well known as someone who relishes my Barbeque, and Bud Light.

    As for the business case for corn ethanol - let me get woke up, first. :)

  41. A closed mouth gathers no foot.

    JW and Rufus, I would like to hear where you guys will be BBQing and Beering as Memphis is my home town.

    I wont be meeting you as I am in Dallas buy I can pretend. Too much TexMex here for my taste.

  42. but I can pretend. And I wasnt assuming I would get invited, but I'm just sayin'

  43. Good company is Always welcome, GR.

    I'm thinking a rendezvous at Rendezvous. :)

  44. So is Svetlana available for me to hit on, or is she just Bob in drag?

    Go ahead, T, have at her.

  45. Trish's brother's campfire story of The Bleeding Hemorrhoids.

    To be entered into the Campfire Story Hall of Fame.


  46. "YIKES!"

    Um. Yes.

    And outrageously funny.

    Husband did a water rescue this afternoon. One of the younger guests, wandering too far out in a rushing creek.

    And like I said, it's only WED.

  47. I know what that means, it means Wednesday.


  48. And you gotta quite smoking, Whit.


  49. I *was* able to engage my dad for the latter part of the afternoon. Almost everyone was gone and we sat on the back deck alone.

    I asked him straightforwardly after about ten minutes if he thinks Afghanistan bears a strong resemblance to Vietnam.

    Then the conversation got really interesting.

  50. Then the conversation got really interesting.

    Yes, but what was the upshot?

  51. BP Begins Critical Test That Could Halt Oil Spill

    "If the pressure test shows that the well is damaged and the valves have to be reopened, full containment of the oil would probably not occur for several weeks, until one or two more ships could be brought in to handle more of the flow.

    That would raise total collection capacity to more than 60,000 barrels a day, the current high-end estimate of the well’s flow rate. Halting the gusher would then await the completion of the first relief well


    So after more than 100 days, they might have enough capcity on site to handle the oil.
    What, me worry?
    Why rush?

    A heck of a lot more could have been contained/burned from day 1.

    More could recovered and sold for profit with the new cap, instead, more ends up in the sea as we leisurely bring in new resources not as needed, but long AFTER needed.


    Wouldn't want BP to waste a nickle on a boat that arrived before it was needed.
    They haven't yet.


    Good to remember Big Sis assuring us a week or two in that the Admin’s response at that time was authorizing two C-130s to spray dispersants!


    Friday, April 30:

    —Obama sends Napolitano, Salazar and other top officials to Gulf Coast.

    —Defense Secretary Robert Gates approves request for two C-130 planes to respond to incident.

  52. I had already known that he was threatened with a Court Martial near the end of his tour by his commander. Returning from one overflight with 34 bullet holes in the plane in which he was the regular observer. CMDR was himself terrified of unit casualties and wasn't going to have a 1LT fuck up everything.

    Dad got terribly drunk afterward, figuring if that didn't kill him nothing could.

    So he went up again. And simply forewent an Air Medal for doing so.

    He called in fire from the ground and from the USS New Jersey in the course of the job. The rounds were almost large enough that you could see them. So dad says. And they did a job on a grid square.

    That was just after TET.

  53. Svetlana said...
    "I'll take on anybody T it's my job."

    She lies T!

    Turned me down Big Time!

  54. "Yes, but what was the upshot?"

    Indeed, there is a significant resemblance.

    We get back again to the issue of windows of opportunity and windows closing. (Also interesting compare and contrast w/ Iraq.)

    But I'm four up on the Yuengling and wouldn't do it justice right now.

  55. I did not, I just want a bankable check.

    And I want to know what Trish's father said.

  56. McChrystal has issued some of the strictest directives to avoid civilian casualties that the U.S. military has ever encountered in a war zone.

    It’s “insurgent math,” as he calls it – for every innocent person you kill, you create 10 new enemies.

    He has ordered convoys to curtail their reckless driving, put restrictions on the use of air power and severely limited night raids.

    He regularly apologizes to Hamid Karzai when civilians are killed, and berates commanders responsible for civilian deaths.

    “For a while,” says one U.S. official, “the most dangerous place to be in Afghanistan was in front of McChrystal after a ‘civ cas’ incident.”

    The ISAF command has even discussed ways to make not killing into something you can win an award for: There’s talk of creating a new medal for “courageous restraint,” a buzzword that’s unlikely to gain much traction in the gung-ho culture of the U.S. military

    But however strategic they may be, McChrystal’s new marching orders have caused an intense backlash among his own troops.

    Being told to hold their fire, soldiers complain, puts them in greater danger.
    “Bottom line?” says a former Special Forces operator who has spent years in Iraq and Afghanistan.
    “I would love to kick McChrystal in the nuts.

    His rules of engagement put soldiers’ lives in even greater danger.
    Every real soldier will tell you the same thing.” …

    McChrystal may have sold President Obama on counterinsurgency, but many of his own men aren’t buying it.

  57. And as the man himself put it, Afghanistan is not a target rich environment.

    Could you maneuver the USS New Jersey into place, what the fuck are you going to take out?

    Iraq was better, easier in that respect.

  58. Yuengling?


    I don't have a clue as to what that means, and I'm not going to look it up.

    I understand fission, fusion, omissions, crimes of commission and nuclear bombs, and younglings, though I'm not supposed to do that, and rarely do, I obey the law as it isn't.


  59. Trish's dad echoes Rumsfeld.

    Now that's kinda funny.

  60. The Tribes

    The American military is a world leading institution when it comes to developing and using emerging technology. Unfortunately that technology now allows our bloated, top heavy staffs to micromanage units in the field to an unprecedented degree. The results were predictable back in the 80’s when my Marine peers and I were first dealing with the impact of satellite position reporting systems, radios which actually worked most of the time and commanders who had video screens to watch in their operations centers.

    What we predicted back then and are seeing today is the stifling of initiative on the ground combined with the removal of the tactical decision making by the commander on the ground.

    Our OODA loop has now been slowed down so much by the ability of multiple staffs far removed from the battle to insert themselves into the process that we risk becoming as slow and cumbersome as the old Soviet Army.

  61. Five hundred bucks I'm a class act and I like the free advertising on the EB and my e-mail is

    Just don't write me on Sundays.

    Never, never on Sundays.

    If you remember the old movie.


  62. East Afghanistan

    Spencer Ackerman over at Danger Room wrote a post last week with the disturbing title of East Afghanistan Sees Taliban as “Morally Superior” to Karzai.
    This assessment came from the after action slides of Col Randy George who commanded Task Force Warrior this past year.

    There is nothing in the article or Col George’s slides which is a surprise to anyone who has been paying attention.
    What is not obvious to those outside of Regional Command East is that there is the distinct possibility that change is afoot.


    Never On Sunday


  64. Don't call me a slut big boy you're the guy that wants it and doesn't have the money.


  65. You asked I declined, if you remember correctly, Pineapple.

    You had no money at the time.

    Just begging.

    I can play around with you all day, but there is no profit to it.


  66. ...and no, I didn't go to Geno's to get a cheese steak. I never did like their steaks anyway. But it sure would have been entertaining.

  67. Remembering that Corn had a fuel used to extract a viable ethanol product, was 1 to 1.4.

    Not a good ratio, which is why switch grass and/ or Sweet Sorghum reaches level of 1 to 6.

    Which creates a sustainable model.

    Previous assumptions held that ethanol’s lower energy content directly correlates with lower fuel economy for automobiles. Those assumptions were found to be incorrect. Instead, the new research strongly suggests that there is an “optimal blend level” of ethanol and gasoline – most likely E20 or E30 – at which cars will get better mileage than predicted based strictly on the fuel’s per-gallon Btu content.

    The 2007 flex-fuel Chevrolet Impala utilized in midlevel blends testing revealed a 15% increase in fuel efficiency using the Highway Fuel Economy Test (HWFET) for E20 in comparison with unleaded regular gasoline. For the same vehicle, the highway fuel economy was greater than calculated for all tested blends, with an especially high peak at E20. The new study, co-sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy (“DOE”) and the American Coalition for Ethanol (“ACE”), also found that mid-range ethanol blends reduce harmful tailpipe emissions.

  68. Honestly the best meal I've had in a long time is that salmon dinner and that trout dinner that my daughter and I get at the Coeur d'Alene Resort so what if it costs forty dollars you only have one daughter and one life at a time they just need to steam the veggies better but the view is nice over the lake and we can talk about things.

  69. My daughter is very understanding, a girl wise beyond her age.

    Her fault is, she thinks we can eat at fancy restaurants all the time.

  70. When I love a man
    I love them all the way
    It's just a feeling I get
    Like the phlox swaying in the wind
    Or the water running in the streams
    I don't know what it is
    It's just a feeling I get sometimes
    It feels so good
    To have true emotion
    And be alive


  71. Taliban Grant Renegade Afghan Soldier, Killer of 3 British Troops, Asylum

    A soldier in the Afghanistan National Army based in Helmand province, at a joint base with the British 1st Battalion, Royal Gurkha Rifles, went berserk on Tuesday and killed three British soldiers, wounding two others. One of the dead was of Nepali heritage, the others were Britons. British military officials speculated that the renegade soldier may have had family ties to the Taliban or that the latter may have taken family members hostage.

    This speculation is leant credence by the Taliban announcement that the soldier had fled to their territory and that they had given him refuge.

    The incident rattled the British, and raised questions about the strategy of training and partnering with the Afghanistan National Army, in preparation for turning the country over to it beginning next summer.

  72. B-52'S on Kandahar or get the hell out.

    Keep our guys alive.

  73. Kum and Go is selling E85 (85% Ethanol - 15% Gasoline) for $1.79

    That Ethanol has approx $0.48/gal subsidies embedded ($0.10 in the Corn, and $0.38 in the Blenders Credit.)

    Add in the subsidies, and you are looking at $2.27/gal.

    This is an American Company, motivated by Profit, and, only Profit. At a price of $2.70 for gasoline the average American car "at this time" needs about a $0.55 discount for E85 to "break even." (with NO subsidies) Kum and Go is within $0.12 of being there, and, if you'll take my word for it, they could easily knock $0.12 off their price and still be very profitable.

    Now, this is a "for profit" business buying ethanol from a profitable refinery that is buying corn from a profitable farmer. And, those figures are with all subsidies removed. (note the removal of those subsidies do Not effect the refinery any at all since the blenders credit goes to the "blender," which is farther up the line from the refinery; and the removal of the %0.10/gal corn - $0.30/bushel - subsidy to the farmer wouldn't be a "show-stopper," either.

    So, there you have it. The American Free Enterprise System profitably producing a gallon of ethanol in a sustainable manner, and selling it, in an E85 blend, very profitably for $2.27/gal.

    That's as good a "Business Case" as I know how to make. No "Theory." No "In the futures." No "Guesswork."

  74. Kum and Go sounds like a company I might have stared, if I were in the business of a start up company, which I'm not, thought it does sound like my line of work.


  75. Kum and Go does sound like my kind of company if I were a start up company but it does describe my line of work.


  76. Did I mention the new Buick Regal 2.0 220 HP Turbocharged Direct Injected Engine available this fall will get within 5% the mileage on E85 as on gaoline? Or that the next iteration of that engine - with the heated injectors - will get the same mileage on E85 as on gasoline?

    26 mpg (combined) at $2.70/gal or 25 mpg at $2.27?

    $2.70 / 26 = $0.10/mile

    $2.27 / 25 = $0.09/mile

    Without Subsidies for the corn ethanol. We'll leave out the Billions in Direct, and Indirect Subsidies, and damage to our balance of trade from oil.

    And, this is if oil doesn't get more expensive. Any bets on that?

  77. Did I mention

    You didn't, but after three or four more years of this, I'm gettin' me a brand new car.


  78. Anyways, "Corn" ethanol is yesterday's news. The Renewable Fuels Standard 2 caps "Corn" ethanol at 15 Billion Gallons/Yr. Including the refineries under construction we're at 14.5 Billion Gallons/Yr Capacity

    You'll notice that the linked map shows several new plants in the East, and the West, as well as some completed in the South.

    The "Future" is in "Cellulosic" ethanol (Ethanol from switchgrass, corn cobs, sorghum, hybrid poplar, waste paper, etc.)

    A small refinery in every county - that's the ticket.

  79. Rufus: A small refinery in every county - that's the ticket.


    Loving County is a county in the U.S. state of Texas that is the least populous county in the entire United States. With no incorporated municipalities, its seat and only community is Mentone. The nearest sizable towns are Pecos, Texas, and Carlsbad, New Mexico. In 2000, its population was 67.

    There's another county in Nevada with 622 folks, enough to man a refinery, but no grass to speak of.

  80. :)

    That's incredible, T. The world (and, especially Texas) is just a wondrous, and amazing place.

  81. Actually, it looks like you might be able grow quite a bit of stuff there, T. From Wiki:

    The Pecos River is the county's western boundary, forming the Red Bluff Reservoir along its northwestern border with Reeves County, Texas and Eddy County, New Mexico. The terrain of Loving County is described as flat desert, with a few low hills. Desert shrubs, range grass and cactus abound, with salt cedars along the river.

    The main thing, here, seems to be that the county is, basically, a "ranch." Actually, a "Part" of the Haley Ranch.

    What a State.

  82. Parts of the American West are pretty sparsely populated, that's fer sure.

    Could be a good place for solar collectors, or windmills.
    Or just left as it is.

    I forget all the napkin figuring, but I do recall that if we had as much acreage in Sweet Sorghum or switch grass, as we do in corn, and distilled those crops, we'd need not import oil for gasoline.

    If we had about 85 million acres producing high value Growth Fuels, rather than lay farrow, it would have to positively impact the US economy. More so, I am confident, than spilling a $Billion$ USD into the Persian Gulf each and every day, for the foreseeable future.

    Our domestic oil production would more than suffice US, then. Domestic oil blend with our Domestic ethanol fueling our future in a sustainable way..