Posts Tagged ‘war’

a lovely country ארץ נהדרת

February 18, 2010

it is thursday

my favorite day of the week since i was 9 years old

you can start smelling the weekend.

looking forward to what erez nehderet will do about the mossad job in Dubai tomorrow?

a few thoughts:

not exactly a song of ‘values’. for the lyrics, which i had a hard time figuring out, looks here.

i’m talking pedicure on our toes, toes

  • why do western countries measure Israel by western values?

we went to dubai to kill a terrorist on his way to iran, on his way to get more arms into gaza.

our team was traced.oops. that is part of the risk. it would have been nice if we had erased the video.

now, do the government summoning up our ambassadors really expect us to use israeli passports? we have to use foreign ones and once in a while it will be british. and once in a while we will be caught.

i think this is all noise that will go away in 2 weeks. then again, i am way out of my territory

don’t stop. make it pop

if you had to take sides

November 13, 2009

are weekends time for politics? or were they just made for Michelob?

i try to read and catch up on what is going on.

here is an argument between 2 people. based on the two, whose side would you take?

Man 1: … he is a small man, devoid of any sense of justice, a technocrat with no real understanding of …

Man 2: I would say that the his comments are specious and ill-befitting his post…I am content to be judged by my actions over the course of my career

read the haaretz article below to find out more on these two people

the issue is crucial. if israel mis-manages our tactics on this matter, the UN security council can approve the goldstone report. some of our soldiers and generals will be subjects of trials by the ICC in the Hague. that would make a lot of people, which  i do not like, happy

should israel carry an independent audit of what happened in gaza? are there lessons to be learned?


South African jurist Richard Goldstone lambasted President Shimon Peres on Thursday for a personal attack on him, which the president launched in response to a damning report he compiled on Israel’s winter offensive in Gaza.

“I would say that the President’s comments are specious and ill-befitting the Head of the State of Israel,” Goldstone said in an interview with Haaretz.

“I am content to be judged by my actions over the course of my career both in terms of my professional judicial career and my voluntary service.”

The jurist was referring to comments Peres made on Wednesday to Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva during a meeting in Brasilia.

Peres told his Brazilian counterpart that, “Goldstone is a small man, devoid of any sense of justice, a technocrat with no real understanding of jurisprudence.”

Goldstone added in the interview that while he anticipated there would be considerable criticism of the report from Israel, he was surprised at the many “nasty attacks” made against him personally.

reflection has been taken away from our lives

December 3, 2008

grand strategy with

John Gaddis, He is a noted historian of the Cold War and grand strategy. He has been hailed as the ‘Dean of Cold War Historians’ by the The New York Times. He is also the official biographer of the seminal 20th century statesman George F. Kennan.

Charles Hill, a diplomat ambassador and professor. involved in the iran-contra affair in a big way. teaches oratory of statehood. A career foreign service officer, Ambassador Hill was a senior adviser to George Shultz, Henry Kissinger, and Ronald Reagan, as well as Boutros Boutros-Ghali,


Paul Kennedy is a newcastle born historian specializing in international relations and grand strategy. He has published prominent books on the history of British foreign policy and Great Power struggles. his books have been translated to about 25 languages. the rise and fall of great powers.

some of the great minds at yale which produced much of US foreign policy since the first clinton adminstration. since 1992 presidents and secratery of state are yale graduates.

key takeaways:

  • what are the feedback loops of the machine? how does it balance in thick and thin times. during war and peace, expansion and contraction?
  • reflection has been taken away from our lives.
    timescale in planing a strategy. looking ahead vs the free metro newspaper that reports about you. the daily demands of ‘right now’. during office you do not acquire intellectual capital, you run on what you accumulated previously. IQ drops as you start to use powerpoint?
  • negative liberty as the absence of constraints on, or interference with, agents’ possible action. Greater “negative freedom” meant fewer restrictions on possible action. note that negative liberty is central to the claim for toleration due to incommensurability.
  • westphalian state system is convenient to ‘go back to’ and since it is easy as a thought paradigm it influences institutions. are nations the imagined communities? i think not



strategy is a way of thinking about how to get from where you are to where you want to be. calculated relationship between means and ends.

von clausewitz, war is the continuation of policy by other means. diplomacy is supreme and war is a tool, not an objective in itself. means is subject to the ends. this is significant because resources are limited. so, resource constraints are an example in which means are subordinate to the ends.

this is platitude. it reminds us of the basic, common sense, but this is exactly it purpose, to remind us of common sense while we are becoming professionals.


“Everything in war is very simple,” Clausewitz notes, “but the simplest thing is difficult.” (119) “In war more than anywhere else things do not turn out as we expect. Nearby they do not appear as they did from a distance.” (193) Moreover, “…every fault and exaggeration of [a] theory is instantly exposed in war.”

Clausewitz terms “friction” the “only concept that more or less corresponds to the factors that distinguish real war from war on paper.” (119) Friction is caused mainly by the danger of war, by war’s demanding physical efforts, and by the presence of unclear information or the fog of war.

First, the intrinsically dangerous nature of war means that in an atmosphere of blood, bullets,and bombs, “the light of reason is refracted in a manner quite different from that which is normal in academic speculation.” (113) Only the exceptional soldier keeps his incisive judgment intact during the heat of battle.

Second, physical effort in war also produces friction: “If no one had the right to give his views on military operations except when he is frozen, or faint from heat and thirst, or depressed from privation and fatigue, objective and accurate views would be even rarer than they are.” (115) Clausewitz hence reminds strategists not to forget the immense effect of physical effort upon the soldiers engaging in combat.

Ambiguous information in war is yet a third element which Clausewitz says distinguishes real war from war in theory. Although strategists should gauge plans by probabilities, it is sometimes impossible to do so during war, when most intelligence is indeterminate:

isaiah berlin, incommensurability. two concepts of liberty, He defined negative liberty as the absence of constraints on, or interference with, agents’ possible action. Greater “negative freedom” meant fewer restrictions on possible action. Berlin associated positive liberty with the idea of self-mastery, or the capacity to determine oneself, to be in control of one’s destiny. While Berlin granted that both concepts of liberty represent valid human ideals, as a matter of history the positive concept of liberty has proven particularly susceptible to political abuse. Berlin contended that under the influence of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Immanuel Kant and G. W. F. Hegel (all committed to the positive concept of liberty), European political thinkers often equated liberty with forms of political discipline or constraint. This negative liberty is central to the claim for toleration due to incommensurability. This concept is mirrored in the work of Joseph Raz.

The third and last part of Adam Curtis‘s documentary series The Trap discusses Isaiah Berlin’s concepts of positive and negative liberty

you can not have it all at once, so you have to balance

power is not singular, it has multiple forums that need to be balanced. self confidence of french army occupying moscow. ‘war and peace’. taking moscow is not enough to win.

everything is related to everything else. astonishly frequently forgotten. so it is an ecological failure. any action will have (an equal) and oppsite reaction, even across spheres.

it is a practical and effecient manner of distiliing knowledge

individual players on the field will have to make their own decisions. instincts plus some training on expecting the unexpected

charlie hill

something is lost when quantitive methods and science is applied to all domains

in humanities, as opposed to sciences, you can not solve problems once in for all

no two problems are alike

democracy in america, ‘Forces’


theories                               leadership                     concepts

skilles                                  forces                           culture

mechanisms                        rhetoric                         values


Paul Kennedy

the power of rhetoric of roosevelt and kennedy

of the 7 coalition wars between the british and the france between 1689 and 1815 the french lose all with superior population and resources. why?

king, hmg, parlament, taxes: funing and loans. now you have markets. loans are never to be defaulted upon. so by middle wars, (7 years, napoleonic) swiss,dutch and french buy these loans because the british governement is the only one that has not deaulted on loans. now you get a feedback loop. large navy. destory others resources, lines,economies

you get balanced budget in piece times. there is possibilites of transferability.

rebel without a cause

September 15, 2008

a discussion based human security report

looks at upsala univeristy and university of british columbia human security centre

world is a safer place because cold war ending and post colonialism conflicts are over. fewer wars, fewer deaths. nice ah?

more civil wars – internal vs inter-state

more non-state actors. wishing to become a state? are we heading to many small states and some superstructures?

ethnicity matters. ethnics wars are on the rise. identity matters

but still a lot of small conflicts, no big ones. formal definitions ‘civil conflict’ (25 deaths), ‘civil war’ (1000)

key takeaways:

  • wars are changing. endless, small, non-state, mutli-rebels civil conflicts.
  • only one parameter is statistically significant. GDP is a predictor of war. so if you are poor, you are really screwed
  • peace through fear. balanced conflict may cause quiet
  • with so many potential reasons for a civil conflict/war it is surprising how few there are
  • social scientist are envious of scientists
  • no research on war and lack of water! want a phd thesis? take a look at homer dickenson
  • repeat small problems are acceptable, a single big one is not!
  • are third parties facilitators or causes to internal conflicts?


perhaps less formal wars. but

  • are we safer?
  • different wars, more difficult to deal with.
  • wars/conflicts are longer and do not end
  • so it seems to me we are looking in the rear-view mirror vs thru the windshield

Nigeria has all the makings of a country to be troubled, but according to formal measures it is not. just small conflicts. poor, oil, many ethnics, strong militia, inequality of wealth, corruption, big business.

a few fresh angles:

  • proliferation of ak47, younger people play at war, power taken from older people, less rulers, harder to control
  • urbanization as s deterrent to war
  • politicizing the self vs the self politicizing?  a theory that identity and ethnicity brings you into war. a counter thesis: civil wars allow every-day politics to come to play that otherwise would not. so it is now easier to kill. a powerful mechanism.

Give War a Chance

September 10, 2008

a discussion on social theory of war. a new model, derived from Clausewitz

social organization of the actors together with what they put at stake determines and predicts the stakes of war.

key takeaways:

question: if ‘all people are the same’. everyone is toward the way of the west or got lost along the way. ‘democratic liberalism’ as the end point of social science. then we do not to understand others just force our values.

violence as a measure of (lack of) stability. are you measuring the right thing? (e.g. # of casualties in Vietnam war). you want simplicity, you may go for easy.

how knowledge is generated in the academy. intellectual history in the last 40 years. take a look at leo strauss. neoconservatism

give war a chance‘ by luttwak. – war is an evil, but can be good – achieve a resolution. UN under ‘peacekeeping’ does not allow war to run their course and have both sides tired of war and desire peace.


what is war? what is victory? is modern war called peace-keeping? international responsibility that superceeds the state. defining it by warfare or violence has limitations. what is the content of the violence.

IR (international relations) as a new discipline in social studies

realpolitik consideration of power, not values

1979 kenneth waltz  neorealism

3 parts to IR

  • war (major)
  • int’l political economy

fearon,  rationalist explanation of war

if we are all rational, anarchy will prevail. but it should not:

war can be viewed as bargaining. so rational leaders need to settle war’s in advance

but need to show inability to reach peace in order to show why war occurs.

history explains what logic does not.

jim scott here at yale domination and the art of resistance

scott discuss a ‘hidden transcript’ the the dominates speaks behind the back of the dominant.

in personal relationships we may not have that forum

don’t judge a book by its cover

September 9, 2008

a discussion about problem framing. how you frame an issue is crucial to decisions-outcome, ability to predict, gaining support to a position.


– challenge how a problem is framed

– power analysis is a good predictor of how issues are framed and solved, vs how they should

– the age of hyper-specialization. ‘experts’ with very narrow view. no common vocabulary to create conversations. we do not read the same books, just blogs.

Problem framing

problems are framed ‘onto us’ , but not by us.

so do not accept the first frame

hyper specialization:

– short term horizon

– no common vocabulary, books, values

– no conversation


power. should vs do. always analyze power and how it is not given up in a not-big way

big business has lots of power. corporates rule today more than ever

signposts, what are events telling us of trends

theory of victory for US foreign policy: co-opitition.

World problems and issues:

1648 westphalia (nation states)

nationalism is back, do not ignore it

in current power-play, unprecedented diversity of actors

Second nuclear age

iran vs israel. pakistan vs india. ukraine only nation in the world to give up nuclear power

nuclear power as a status symbol and access to money

are we losing the world’s ability to avoid crises?

so re-frame from nuclear ‘stop its spread’ to ‘ once its spread, how to make it less risky?’