HUMINT: Contagious Behavior

HUMINT: The best economic theory of the day suggests human behavior is contagious. It follows logically that what the article "IRAQ's NATURAL STATE" says about human nature is that"empowering figures" build self sustaining societies whereas "power consolidators" slowly descend into hell, taking every body else with them. The idea that Iraqis will reject violence sooner if more of them have jobs is a legitimate argument only if those jobs are sourced from free market investment. The entire country needs some version of Milton Freidman's Negative Income Tax. If on the other hand, tribal chieftains and theocratic oligarchs are put in control of the country's natural recourses (the only viable revenue stream based on international trade and investment at this time) the country will continue to decay. No matter how many jobs that policy would create, the country would still descend into an even worse hell than now because no faction would be happy until they control all of Iraqs resources.

I don't want to second guess any American law maker decisions (I'm probably the only one) but U.S. investment in Iraq should be from the ground up... Indeed, the entire Middle East should be looked at from that perspective. The root cause of the hell we see today is because of the suggestion offered by the authors of IRAQ'S NATURAL STATE that I excerpted. Iraq's future, and many secondary and terciary futures, are dependent on empowering populations, not elites. That's how societal transitions are made from:
  1. Primitive
  2. Limited Access
  3. Open Access

Macro and micro social dysfunction usually begins when elites start to think they matter far more than the population that authorizes their elitism. American geopolitical stability and prosperity, along this logic, can be found in our aggregate worship of everyday underdogs who become heroes by being themselves. Do Europeans do that? Not really. Instead they find themselves admiring Americans and realize that their society is far less likely to reward real heroism, they curse America for revealing their own social dysfunction. The same is true of the Middle East who are simply the economic bastard children of the U.S. or Europe anyway. Should we be surprised about the cost of social change in Iraq - or Europe...? No, not really, unless we seek a policy of empowerment. Empowerment policies are the least expensive and most effective, so I say "BOLLOCKS" to the expensive policy of dividing Iraq's natural resources between competing elites.

Patriarchal fascists have no intention of empowering their populations. They'd rather go down fighting in an exchange of nuclear weapons than lose their grip on power. What then do we do to save ourselves from them? We must save the fascist's societal children - their sons, daughters, wives, brothers, sisters, mothers and fathers... We have to empower them to overcome their social dysfunction in order to save ourselves. Any other approach is delaying the inevitable WMD dual between - Limited Access and Open Access societies.

These comments are inspired by "CLUB AMERICA" By Victor Davis Hansen

TOLIK: In case you missed it, take a look at Arnold Kling's article in TCS on difficulties of transition from the limited access order (that is more or less a natural state) to open order society - democracy in our understanding. The logic of article is the best argument against hopes of succeeding in building democracy in Iraq. Nevertheless, he also put force many interesting open-ended questions that require more thinking. New and intriguing angle (at least for me).

IRAQ'S NATURAL STATE: EXCERPT --- If we want to set up a limited-access order, then we have to determine which factions we want to have in the governing coalition, and we must give each of them something of value in return for maintaining peace. To put it crudely (so to speak), one could imagine giving each major party in a coalition government control over a particular set of oil wells. Factions that we do not want in the coalition (Al Qaeda in Iraq, for example) would have to be hunted down and killed. Factions that receive an allocation of oil wells but continue to engage in violence would have to be declared outlaws and deprived of personal security, with their oil resources confiscated and redistributed to other factions.




HUMINT: Emulating MLK

I dedicated my day to Martin Luther King Jr. not only to remember him, but also to emulate him --- Nobody suggested I do it, but I did the best I could. When I simply remember MLK, and I do often, I listen to his Mountain Top speech more than any other. April 3rd 1963 in Memphis Tennessee, king took his audience with him to the Mountain Top and it was, in my opinion, the best speech ever delivered in human history. That evening in 63 his spirit spoke to directly to the audience. It hardly mattered what he had to say because Martin’s real power was oration. He could seemingly connect his spirit directly to his voice and articulate the values, objectives and ideals of his movement. The message he gave to the world was easy to amplify with passion. His message was “love”. He was fanatical about it. The conclusion of his Mountain Top speech is clear evidence.

Well, I don't know what will happen now. We've got some difficult days ahead. But it really doesn't matter with me now, because I've been to the mountaintop. And I don't mind. Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I'm not concerned about that now. I just want to do God's will. And He's allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I've looked over. And I've seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land! And so I'm happy, tonight. I'm not worried about anything. I'm not fearing any man! Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord!!

If King was an uncompromising fanatic as I’ve described him, with love and oration as his weapons, what was his mission? Who or what was King trying to conquer? I realized early this morning, around 9:30AM that I wouldn’t be able to emulate the man in a lifetime much less a single day if I didn’t understand the essence of his life’s mission. So I went back to his writings, interviews and speeches to look for the answer to my question. What I found was striking. King was unquestionably one of the most ambitious men of his day. His intent was clear. He wanted nothing less than to save the world from itself, with love! That was his mission and it’s no surprise at all that the world adores him for it. With that realization around 11:00AM, I was ready to start the emulation process. With my best ball point pen and an 8.5X11 piece of paper, I started labeling it with mission statements:


Submission to the perception that the world is ill is a prerequisite to emulating King. For the entire day, I’ve believed the world needs a mortal savior. The idealistic and utopian seeking mission statement I attribute to King’s life required drastic alterations before it could approach plausibility against today’s conundrums. In any case, to emulate MLK is to pursue his goals, but not necessarily by the same methods he used. Love has its place in bringing people together in order to make positive social change but love cannot stand alone as the singular solution to the world’s ills. Where love might not last, great ideas are sure to, until they are replaced by better ideas, hopefully. By 12:30PM I had made a list of the world’s (America's) perceptual ills that follows:

  1. Terrorism
  2. Illegal immigration
  3. Global Warming
  • primarily from nations rich in fossil fuels
  • primarily from Mexico
  • atmospheric carbon dioxide presumably from industrialized nations burning fossil fuels

After flipping my ballpoint pen around for more than an hour, around 2:00PM a flood of ideas came to me in the form of an elaborate scenario. It was the only intellectual product that had anything to do with my emulation project so here it is:

The Saudi Royal Family [among other petro-wealthy philanthropists] finds it in their hearts to fund the construction of solar powered desalination plants in Mexico along the Gulf Coast and Baja. Money not spent funding terrorism is money well spent… right? In addition to the desalinization plants, the largest ever solar power plant is built just south of Arizona with the singular goal of producing solar panels, mirrors, solar ovens, solar pumps and wind mills for use by developing nations. Think about that for a second, a solar power plant that produces solar panels… nice huh? That really might save the world and make money doing it.

In the downstream phase, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation gets into the act by funding the design and construction of tools and computers that run off of the solar panels produced in the new Saudi-Mexican Solar Power Plant. The primary job for Mexicans (reducing the urge to immigrate the United States illegally) in and around these new solar energy intensive power plants is to grow bamboo (the fastest growing plant) and burry them to sequester carbon dioxide. More importantly however, the decentralization of electricity production and increased access to fresh water would open up new markets for Gate’s solar powered electronics and tools. This is where investors will really make their money back and then some. The returns on Gate’s investment would then be rolled into funding the “World Wide White Roof Grass Roots Initiative”, a painting program that paints black surfaces in urban areas white, in order to reflect solar radiation back into space, cooling cities enrolled in the program by up to 10 degrees (I just made that number up).

To summarize, there is no reason why at least some of the petroleum dollars flowing into the coffers of wealthy Arab families should not be recycled into carbon sequestration programs that could employ individuals who would otherwise become illegal immigrants to the United States. With respect to decentralized electronics for a decentralized solar power infrastructure in developing regions of the world, a great deal of money could be made in these emerging markets that will otherwise, remain stagnant. Poverty would be reduced, more value created in society and war would be less likely for all.

When I had finished scribbling By 2:45, it was Miller Time. I did the best I could without expectation of approaching MLK's commitment to his cause or strength of character. Happy MLK day…




HUMINT: Contextual Enemy

HUMINT: Freedom and security may be sustained, but any threat to it in the first place represents a type of failure.

LEXBAIRD: How so? Something not 100% immune to attack is a failure? Say there is a computer program that includes subroutines to excise errors or foreign code input that is determined to be harmful to the program's function. The use of that subroutine is not a failure on the part of the program, but a built in function to help prevent failure. The lack of any mechanism to adequately cope with harmful forces is a true failure.

HUMINT: Think of a house, Lincoln did. He once said, "a house divided against itself cannot stand" paraphrasing the Bible, Matthew 12:25. Now think about what globalization is and what it's doing to the economics and demographics of nations. When considering all humanity a familial house, we are still divided and this house of ours cannot stand. My model establishes a definition of failure that does not fit the model you've chosen. When a building collapses, or analogously, society descends into chaos at the macro or the micro level, I'm calling those events structural failures. I have been saying all along that capital punishment and war are the result of failure. The social descent into chaos is the failure, and the effort made by civil society to correct it is a "clear reference" to a "specific failure". To both of our credit, both of our models are abstract analogies of how we perceive the capture, trial and execution of Saddam. Your interpretation of events (as I understand it) is that civil society took the appropriate corrective measures with a deposed Iraqi dictator. In that context, you are absolutely right, the execution was certainly not a lynching.

Given the geo-political complexities of Iraq and its neighborhood, it is blatantly clear that there are multiple contexts to the trial and execution. With each context, a series of unique perceptions and behaviors will emerge. In my opinion, your context is not likely to be the dominant one. But that's not what we're trying to determine here, are we? For the sake of this debate, your context is the only one that matters... Let's call it the "American Context". From our vantage point, there should be no pessimism at all. At the birth of 2007, new optimism was born precisely because the tree of Liberty had just been refreshed with the blood of a tyrant. But the story doesn't end there. In a way, that's were it starts. Now we have to transform your narrow context and my historical optimism into the will to win - to build a new city on a hill, without losing the one we live in today... But that's not what we're talking about either, are we?

I suppose all we are really talking about is your tagline(98% satisfaction guaranteed. There's just no pleasing some people). Either one is satisfied with the events surrounding the execution, or not. The myriad of reasons why a person might be satisfied or unsatisfied are inconsequential shades of gray in a black and white world at war. It is a fact that no one else's context is more important than your own. I don't dispute that logic. No one can. Of course I agree with you. We are on the same side against a ruthless enemy. But don't get too cocky. To find that ruthless enemy in the ME, you'll need to explore more than your own context.




HUMINT: Blame Game

THORTON: The fact is, it is the Iraqi people who are failing, the Arabs who are failing, and Muslims who are failing. The same cultural pathologies that keep Palestinian Arabs sullen welfare clients, that keep Lebanon a political basket-case, that keep millions of Middle-Eastern Muslims mired in poverty and oppression and ignorance and gender apartheid, are the same forces that are keeping Iraqis in some Road Warrior dystopia. Not our blunders, or cultural insensitivity, or arrogance, or whatever other excuse concocted by self-loathing Americans. No, Iraq is failing because too many Muslims love sectarian hatred, love resentment and envy of a successful infidel West, and love their belief in their own God-sanctioned superiority and righteousness more than they love freedom and prosperity and human rights. We have spent our citizens’ lives and our money to give Muslim Arabs a chance to create a better life, and they are blowing it, all the while neighboring Muslim nations either sit on their hands or actively support the forces destroying that opportunity.

HUMINT: Blame is often heaped on societies with the capacity to absorb blame, regardless of whether or not the targeted society deserves it. From the looks of it, the current elected Iraqi government doesn't have the capacity to absorb and process blame. Honestly, I’m surprised how little thought is given to Iraqi policy. When you look at what they’re doing, they aren't really taking responsibility for the hardest questions of the day; questions only they can answer. What is amazing is that Americans will skip over the details like “who is who in Iraq, and which Iraqi is responsible for which failure”. At first glance, these observations might lead a person to think less of Americans. The pattern is pretty clear. Instead of thinking it through, Americans will accept blame for things entirely out of their control.

In fact, this kind of behavior is the exact opposite of stupid. In terms of social intelligence, accepting more responsibility is the smart thing to do, but it causes serious problems in the midst of this War. By accepting fault, Americans remain the masters of Iraq and Iraqis become near insignificant derivatives of what Americans either do, or do not do. IMO, the first act of liberating Iraq is for Americans to accept blame only when it is reasonable to do so. The second act of liberating Iraq is to specifically blame Iraqis for their faults. This second duty is impossible to accomplish if we do not know who to blame, even when we think we do.

Case in point; the enemy is portrayed, in their own words, by a media that elevates their concerns (the media’s concerns and the enemies concerns) above the objectives of allied forces. The media’s concerns are for increased ratings. The enemy’s concerns are for more influence in the battle space. Therefore the problem is systemic. There exists a naturally symbiosis between enemy action and broadcast ratings. We can rant about the media all day long and nothing will change the fact that ratings are a function of what we all do together.

So I ask the question to the ether, without expectation of reply… Who in Iraq is responsible for the problems there, beyond Maliki, beyond Sistani, beyond Talabani, beyond Hakim and beyond Al Sadr. Why is Iraqi society not taking responsibility to competently answer the most important policy questions of the day? What are the points of failure that Iraqis themselves must repair in order to transcend the hell of their own making? I have no interest in accepting faux responsibility to remain a faux master. Iraqis are not insignificant, and so deserve every bit of blame and praise befitting their unique behavior.




HUMINT: Just Vengeance


HITCHENS: "And it might be no bad thing if Americans, especially those who supported the breaking of his death grip on Iraqi society, found ways of conveying their distaste for this rushed and vindictive — and partial — version of a process of reckoning that ought to have been sober, meticulous and untainted."

EARTHDWELLER: I admire Hitchen's premise but he is showing the kind of British out of touch elitism that kept Ireland in straits for centuries. In this instance let the American's, who tamed the wild wild west take care of the details of growing a civilized society from the ground up. Picture Hitchens saying "I just don't understand why these instant civilization buttons don't work any more. Mummy, can we get a new video game? I don't like this one. It's too slow and the mind control option is like on dial-up."

HUMINT: There are a number of ways to look at executions of tyrants. If we take the simplest approach, *** those who live by the sword, die by the sword *** Saddam's fate was preordained and it really makes no difference how or why. That scenario is likely, but let's think about it further. Let's say, each view of Saddam's execution is dependant in part on the commentator's interests. So who are some, if not all, of the interested?

  1. Civilized intellectuals don't like execution at all but would have liked to see a more familiar format to the execution.
  2. The Iranian government fought an eight year war with Saddam that was exactly the opposite of civilized. It's no wonder that they are pleased with the format of Saddam's finish.
  3. The Sunni insurgency, by my estimation is fighting and recruiting at its peak, so despite their disappointment in seeing their former dictator's neck broken, they can't do much more about it than they already are. Talking about a spike in violence is futile anyway. This is a war! Spikes and lulls are indicative of things other than imminent victory.
  4. the Shi'i majority in Iraq can put to rest a few conspiracy theories about Saddam coming back to power but not about Saddam's previous conspiracies with foreign governments not revealed in the awkward trial that preceded the execution.
  5. The Kurds appear smart enough to have moved on already and are astutely mapping out their future. They realized Saddam was irrelevant to their future a long time ago.
  6. And last but not least, anyone who regarded Saddam's execution as an old fashioned lynching; they are like any audience that gathers around to see a bad guy hang, die and piss himself. The nuance between vengeance and justice is a bridge too far for them. What they do know is fear. Deserved death was delivered to a dictator who was just one among many in the region.
I estimate, no one was more attentive in the "audience" of Saddam's execution than regional dictators, theocrats and monarchs. They probably took notes on how they themselves should act when they are handed over to the people they fear the most. Maybe, after watching Saddam die like a common thug, they even considered how not to end up like Saddam, but I doubt it.




A Beautiful New Year 2007


God forbid we should ever be twenty years without such a rebellion. The people cannot be all, and always, well informed. The part which is wrong will be discontented, in proportion to the importance of the facts they misconceive. If they remain quiet under such misconceptions, it is lethargy, the forerunner of death to the public liberty. ... What country before ever existed a century and half without a rebellion? And what country can preserve its liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as to facts, pardon and pacify them. What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure.
  • Letter to William Stevens Smith (November 13, 1787), quoted in Padover's Jefferson On Democracy




  • HUMINT: Contagious Behavior
  • HUMINT: Emulating MLK
  • HUMINT: Contextual Enemy
  • HUMINT: Blame Game
  • HUMINT: Just Vengeance
  • A Beautiful New Year 2007

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