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Archive for January, 2007

Friday, January 26th, 2007


The London Review of Books has a piece up by Perry Anderson, entitled “Russia’s Managed Democracy“. It is overly long and meandering, the author, as he is a liberal academic, gives short shrift to the danger posed by revanchist Communists during Yeltsin’s first term. He’s either clearly misinformed or unwilling to deal with that political complexity because it would disturb the grinding of cherished axes.

Nevertheless, if you graze through this essay, you will find good nuggets because the author’s contemporary analysis is backed by a deep comprehension of Russian history and culture. For example:

“The intelligence [of Putin] is limited and cynical, above the level of his Anglo-American counterparts, but without much greater ambition. It has been enough, however, to give Putin half of his brittle lustre in Russia. There, an apparent union of fist and mind has captured the popular imaginary.”

A phrase that makes a great deal of sense if you are familiar with the respective roles of the intelligentsia and state in the Russian cultural sphere for the last century and a half.

Friday, January 26th, 2007


“We could practice classic counterinsurgency against the Sunni insurgents but AQI members had to be killed”

-LTC John Nagl

The SWJ Blog has a post up – ” Spilling Soup OnMyself in Anbar” – by Col. John Nagl, author of the critically acclaimed Learning to Eat Soup With A Knife, which links to an interview where Nagl discusses his tour of duty in Iraq. A must read for those interested in Iraq, COIN and military affairs. Having attracted high profile contributors like David Kilcullen and John Nagl, the SWJ Blog is off to a very strong start.

A big hat tip to Dave Dilegge for alerting me as I stumbled into work this morning :O)

Thursday, January 25th, 2007


The always excellent Small Wars Council has burst it’s bonds and expanded. Great work guys!


Thank’s to Isaac’s comment, I’d like to call your attention to “Fourth-Generation Warfare and Network-Centric Warfare” by Capt Richard J. McLoughlin. One of the many new items up at the SWC this morning.


See also Curtis Gale Weeks – ” Toward A Better Understanding of 4GW


The horizontal-thinking Dan of tdaxp -“5GW Tactics and Counter-Tactics in Hockey

Thursday, January 25th, 2007


Joining Chicago Boyz has already paid intellectual dividends. John Jay has a formidible post “Whatever Hits the Fan is Never Evenly Distributed” that, in part, responds to my commentary on cyclical vs. linear views of history. Here is an excerpt:

“Trajectories matter. Real world systems are dynamic, not static. Especially human societies. But in the timescale we can measure with our fleeting consciousness and hazy grasp of both history and the present, many times we are measuring the health of our society at time intervals that are too short to determine our own trajectory, especially considering that I would model societies more as a hot-air balloon tossed by the wind, rather than as a bullet swiftly passing through the air. Humans tend to project the present situation forward indefinitely, rendering useless even our current rudimentary ability to determine how the winds of history can blow societies temporarily off course, pointing, for a moment, in a different direction from the vector of long-term progress. David Foster is fond of pointing out that humans have a much easier time discerning and predicting patterns that vary in space, rather than ones that vary in time. And he’s right. The person well-versed in history can overcome this somewhat by studying the past, but only somewhat, because history is a set of experiments in which too many variables have been fixed, so that general theory of human progress is difficult if not impossible to formulate. But at least a good historian understands that taking a single snapshot of today does not do much to help map the path to the future”

Read the rest here.

While this was a section of a much larger post, the point about our innate sense of temporal distortion is very telling. In the absence of very precise and exacting analytical thinking, the error of “presentism“is apt to reign supreme. Not only do we not see the correct angle of the trajectory, we might be oblivious of the operative variables.

Wednesday, January 24th, 2007


Hmm…I see Critt has been busy. Man, that is a lot of “Iraqi grazrs” !

General question to the computer-wise – what podcasting app is convenient and easy to use with blogger ? Anyone try running exclaimable.com audio or video through blogger ? Thanks!

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