Political Angst In America

Location: Pantego, Texas, United States

Sunday, December 31, 2006

The reporter Woodward is becoming something of a joke. He keeps telling us what people who are dead were thinking. Since the person is dead there is no way to check Woodward's veracity. I lost confidence in Woodward after his supposed interview with a man who was in a coma, and died shortly after the supposed interview. Why does anyone pay attention to this guy. The revelations the recently deceased gave him are always spectacular, and usually are damaging to Republicans. Woodward knew who leaked Valarie Plame's name, but didn't see fit to tell anyone to stop what has turned into a huge waste of money and a miscarriage of justice; but, as the perpetrators of the hoax intended, it did harm Republicans. I hold Woodward in low regard.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Usually I'm not into conspiracy theories, but the Oklahoma City bombing has always bothered me because bombings of this sort are out of character for Americans. (The usual left-wing conspiracy nuts seem curiously uninterested in this event.) There were a lot of people who saw a Middle Eastern man leave the truck containing the explosives with Timothy McVeigh. After the bombing it quickly became obvious that President Clinton wanted the event to be the work of a right wing terrorist group. Clinton definitely did not want it tied to Iraq. It always seemed odd to me that the FBI had no interest in the Middle Eastern guy seen with McVeigh and Nichols, or with their meetings with the al sayed branch of al queda. At one time a court found that there was enough evidence to allow victims families to file suit against Iraq for the bombing, but I don't know the status of the suit. This is an interesting article from Canada Free Press about the recent congressional investigation into the Oklahoma City bombing (which, like most congressional investigations was a waste of time and money).

Reporter Exposes Congressional Whitewash of the OKC Bombing Report

By Douglas J. Hagmann, Northeast Intelligence Network,

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

"As a 21-year veteran investigator and based on my extensive review of the evidence secured, authenticated and possessed by Ms. Davis in comparison with investigative results of Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, the congressman couldn't investigate his way out of a wet paper bag."–Doug Hagmann, Director, Northeast Intelligence Network

In an exclusive interview with the Northeast Intelligence Network and America’s News Source – her first and only interview since the release of a Congressional investigative report last Friday pertaining to the terrorist bombing of the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing that took the lives of 168 people and 3 unborn children, award-winning investigative journalist, and the foremost expert on the bombing, Jayna Davis, author of the best-selling book The Third Terrorist, adeptly exposes the blatant deficiencies of the incoherent, poorly researched, and jumbled "investigative" congressional report. With the deadly proficiency of a skilled marksman, Ms. Davis, methodically shoots down the critical findings that comprise the essence of this congressional report and successfully makes the case that the report represents a betrayal of justice to each and every victim of the April 19, 1995 bombing and betrays the trust of every citizen of the United States.

The report made few headlines when it became public last Friday due to its overall lack of investigative value and conclusive merit. Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, who spearheaded the "investigation" that reportedly took him two years to conduct at the expense of the U.S. taxpayers has been billed as an independent examination of a possible foreign connection, but in reality, has amounted to nothing more than the fruitless pursuit of repudiated conspiracy theories blatantly devoid of any conclusive findings.

In early 2005, Rohrabacher publicly announced that he was looking into the evidence set forth in the book, The Third Terrorist, which documents the sworn testimonies of twenty-two-(22) eyewitnesses who implicated a Middle Eastern terrorist cell aiding and abetting Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols in the plot to destroy the Alfred P. Murrah Building. The Third Terrorist, written by the foremost authority on the facts of the bombing, former investigative reporter and bestselling author of the most comprehensive book about the terrorist attack, details evidence presented by Ms. Davis but not acted upon by the U.S. Justice Department, evidence that has been unscathed by intense scrutiny and earned the endorsements of a number of credible former intelligence officials. The problem, however, is that Congressman Rohrabacher failed to address the most academic and compelling facts of the worst terrorist attack on U.S. soil until that time, opting instead to pursue a long disregarded theory of a neo-Nazi connection – a theory that was not only dispelled, but labeled as "hyperbole" and a "dry hole" by a sitting Oklahoma Judge who heard the related testimony during the trial of bombing co-conspirator Terry Nichols over 2 years ago.

Evidence presented by Ms. Davis in her book and offered directly to the Congressman is so compelling that it could easily make a prima facia case for Middle Eastern involvement in the bombing. The evidence uncovered by Ms. Davis offers detailed witness accounts of a former Iraqi Republican Guardsman identified as Hussain Al-Hussaini being seen in the presence of Timothy McVeigh prior to the bombing, getting our of the bomb-laden Ryder truck the morning of April 19, and fleeing the Murrah Building in a vehicle identified and pursued by the FBI in an all-points-bulletin issued for Middle Eastern terrorists. More significantly, two federal court rulings establish that this Iraqi soldier has no provable alibi for the morning of the bombing. Overwhelming and fully substantiated evidence developed by Ms. Davis was deliberately sidestepped by the congressman as she predicted in an interview with the Northeast Intelligence Network almost a year ago.

Noting that Rohrabacher was offered clearly outlined, well-researched, thoroughly vetted and highly credible evidence that provided a definite Middle Eastern connection to the bombing, a position envied by any legitimate investigator, Ms. Davis points out that Congressman Rohrabacher ignored that evidence and instead, chose a different investigative path. "Congressman Rohrabacher has expended the majority of his investigative energy and dollars chasing decade-old phantoms and empty leads, trying to implicate dead or imprisoned suspects who were officially cleared by the government years ago," stated Ms. Davis.

Speaking to the blatant impotence and incompetence of the congressman’s investigation, Ms. Davis added, "Much to my bewilderment, the Congressman has not yet demanded that the FBI fully investigate the multiple sightings of Iraqi Republican Guardsman Hussain Al-Hussaini in the presence of Timothy McVeigh prior to the bombing, exiting the bomb-laden Ryder truck the morning of April 19, and escaping the ill-fated Murrah Building in a getaway vehicle pursued by the FBI in an all-points-bulletin issued for Middle Eastern terrorists."

The Oklahoma City Bombing investigation appeared to be managed at the highest levels of the government from the very beginning, only to be managed again a decade later by a transparent and deceptive dog-and-pony show by a Congressman who deliberately ignored facts that could prove the well-researched conclusion that Islamic terrorists inside the U.S. were complicit in the 1995 bombing. The facts that were ignored by the Congressman in his amateurish report were so potentially important that had they been properly investigated, they could prove malfeasance at various levels of government, from the FBI to the U.S. Justice Department to some of the highest elected officials in the U.S. Facts that if handled contemporaneously, could have proven to be the proverbial canary in the mine warning of the terrorist attack of September 11, 2001.

It is unconscionable to accept that the FBI never interviewed a primary Middle-Eastern suspect in the Oklahoma City bombing about the bombing itself, never issued an official on-the-record statement exonerating him of complicity in the Oklahoma City bombing, and despite the numerous questions surrounding the ties and activities of this individual, did nothing as he gained employment following April 19, 1995 but before September 11, 2001 at Boston-Logan airport – an airport where two of the 9/11 hijacked planes originated.

Additionally, Congressman Rohrabacher never addressed the curious actions of the FBI when they outright refused delivery of twenty-two witness statements and supporting evidence in September 1997 – statements that consistently and clearly substantiated the involvement of men of Middle Eastern appearance with the primary actors McVeigh and Nichols. Having complete knowledge of the witness statements and later, sworn affidavits, the investigating congressman never asked why the FBI withheld those twenty-two witness affidavits Ms. Davis delivered to FBI Special Agent Dan Vogel in January 1999 from the defense teams of Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols.

The Congressman also failed to acknowledge the fact that the FBI assumed physical custody of original motel registration logs where witnesses testified McVeigh checked in with the Middle Eastern suspect, an Iraqi national identified as Hussein al Hussaini on the evening of April 18, 1995, but never returned those original documents to the establishment's owner. By not doing so, the evidence of the Iraqi suspect's presence at the motel could be conclusively verified.

Also failing in his investigation, the congressman never addressed the disposition of the brown Chevrolet pickup truck that was seen carrying Middle Eastern suspects from the bomb site at the time of the bombing. It is important to note that the Oklahoma City police recovered fingerprints inside the truck, however federal officials never compared those prints to the immigration files of three Middle Eastern nationals, the identities who were known to authorities, and who witnesses observed in that vehicle traveling from the Murrah Building before, during, and after the bombing.

Friday, December 29, 2006

The government now says that Yassar Arafat was responsible for the deaths of two American diplomats back in 1973. It took them a long time to figure out that Arafat was a murderous thug, something most everyone realized over 30 years ago. Our State Department overlooks a lot. The current President of Iran is also a thug who committed acts of war against the United States. I guess the State Department is willing to overlook that also. President Bush seems to recognize the thugs; maybe that's why the career State Department bureaucracy doesn't like him.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

There are not many parallels between the Vietnam War and the current conflict. But there are some critical similarities; a lot of people in the US support the enemy particularly in the media, the enemy has sanctuary from which he draws men and supplies, and the American people do not have the will for a protratced low-level conflict. One major difference is that the Vietnamese had no interest in continuing the conflict after we left the field of combat, but the Muslims intend to pursue us. We need to begin to eengage those who support the enemy, as I said yesterday. I agree with this article by a US colonel.

Dealing with the Iraq Insurgency Militarily

By Col. Tom Snodgrass

"The first, the supreme, the most far-reaching act of judgment that the statesman and commander have to make is to establish by that test the kind of war on which they are embarking; neither mistaking it for, nor trying to turn it into, something that is alien to its nature. This is the first of all strategic questions and the most comprehensive." - Carl von Clausewitz, ON WAR (Howard/Paret trans.), p.88.
The question de jour in the national debate on Iraq is simply: Is there a military "solution" on the Iraqi front of the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT)? There is, but in order to make that case, it's necessary first to examine the components of the situation. As a parenthetical thought, I use the ill-named and inaccurate term "GWOT" merely because it is the widely accepted and recognized term.

The identification of "terrorism" as the enemy is a major part of the reason why we are stumbling in our effort to fight historical and traditional Islam, which long ago declared war on the West, but this identification error is the subject for another essay.

What are the basic factors in war?

With appropriate deference to Clausewitz, war reduced to the most fundamental equation is WAR = MOTIVATION(S) + CAPABILITY. Historical war motivations have been religious, political, geo-strategic, economic, and revenge. Capability is composed of firepower and re-supplying that firepower (logistics). Remove one or both of these motivation-capability factors in war, and the war is over in short order.

What are the motivations driving the warring combatants in Iraq?

The motivations driving the battle for Iraq and the larger GWOT on the part of the Muslims are "all of the above," that is, religious, political, geo-strategic, economic, and revenge. Although it is probably fair to say, if we take what they say and do seriously, that economic reasons factor least in the equation. The bottom line motive of the Muslims (Sunni and Shi'ite) in Iraq and GWOT is religious conquest together with attendant political and geo-strategic domination.

Additionally, on a worldwide basis, including the battle for Iraq, the warring Muslims seek revenge against Western Civilization for what is perceived by the Muslim world as an assault on their former Caliphate and their way of life. Arguably, the Islamic world has created a Christian and Jewish enemy in order to mask what their own civilization has created: a murderous ideology which demands an intellectual and spiritual submission to the dictates of a ruling class adorned with the authority of Shari'a and fiqh (the Islamic way and jurisprudence, respectively). In other words, except for the one or two rare individual exceptions (i.e., al-Farabi), Islamic "philosophy" as theology reduces the individual and the people to the status of soldier. Thought is reduced to obedience and action.

Since Allah has told Muslims through the Quran that he covets not merely Mecca and Medina, but also Jerusalem and the West for the dar al-Islam, Muslims cannot understand why Islam has been in steady decline after they, the Muslim warriors, were defeated at Vienna on September 11, 1683. In their attempt to understand why Islamic Civilization is in such pitiful shape everywhere, Muslims have hit on two explanations.

First, Muslims have not practiced the "pure" form of Islam that Mohammad practiced, so they have been unable to fulfill Allah's mission of subjugating the world to Islam. This requires a cleansing from within.

Second, the "Great Satan" (Crusader America and its subservient Western nations) and the "Little Satan" (Israel, the Jewish client state of Crusader America) have conspired to keep Muslims from their rightful, world dominion.

Consequently to remedy this unacceptable state of affairs, both Sunni and Shia leaders and people have undertaken to impose "pure" Islamic law on Muslims and non-Muslims alike and to visit the revenge of jihadist "holy war" on all Crusaders and Jews.

While the Sunnis and Shi'ites are killing each other to prove the religious superiority of their particular sect of Islam, both groups' underlying motivation is the same: to ultimately establish the religious superiority of Islam over the West. While Sunnis far out-number Shia adherents, given Iran's dominant oil-rich nation-state position, it is unlikely that either sect will win a knockout victory over the other.

Thus, unless America wins the war in Iraq simply by imposing a military order, a Lebanon-type 1970's civil war will ensue, which included Lebanese factions (Muslim versus Christian and Muslim versus Muslim) and foreign fighters (Palestinians) in the fray.

But returning to the war equation and motivation, this religious motivation to convert (through persuasion, subjugation, or war and death) dar al-kufr into dar al-Islam is mandated in the Quran and legislated as law by the fiqh and Shari'a as an Allah-given sacred duty. In the interest of accuracy, it must be noted that there is also a secular motivation in play in Iraq among the deposed Sunni Baathist insurgents, who are seeking a return to political power; however, this force is a minor player in the larger scheme of things.

To sum up, it's the religious domination at work as the motivation, with attendant political, geo-strategic, and economic domination, that is the driving impetous behind the major enemy combatant forces in Iraq.

Can these religious motivations be removed from the Muslim combatants in Iraq (or in the larger GWOT for that matter) by negotiation or persuasion?

In order for negotiation or persuasion to work, both parties must see and appreciate individual advantage in compromise and mutual cooperation. Given the jihadist approach to achieving their religious goals, compromise and mutual cooperation don't appear realistic. If not, for negotiation or persuasion to work, one ascendant party must be in a position to "make an offer the other party cannot refuse" because of military, geo-strategic, or economic circumstances. In order to arrive at the "cannot refuse" situation, the military/economic threat must be credible. Needless to say at this point in history, the American military/economic threats do not ring credible to any Muslim (or secular Baathist) involved in the Iraq insurgency. They can read the New York Times and follow the elections as well as anyone.

So, the Baker-Hamilton Iraq Study Group Report notwithstanding, solution through political negotiation has a Crusader's chance in Mecca of succeeding. Canceling motivation out of the war equation just will not happen with today's circumstances on the ground in Iraq (or in the Middle East as a whole).

What are the capabilities of the Islamist warring combatants in Iraq?

The capability of Muslim firepower cannot stand up to American firepower in any conceivable conventional force or conventional force scenario. And, this is what we have heard ad nauseum from former Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld and any one of the Joint Chiefs. But, the answer to that refrain is, "So What?"

Muslim warriors have predictably resorted to what is known as "asymmetrical warfare" with suicide bombers, hit-and run rocket-propelled grenades (RPG's), and improvised explosive devices (IED's) being their primary forms of firepower, all within the protective ring of civilian men, women, and children, acting as willing and unwilling defense ramparts. It is precisely asymmetrical because the rules of engagement (ROE) of the two sides are simply not matched for this type of theatre of war.

As long as there is a supply of Muslim suicide bombers who are provided suicide bomber belts and IEDs, the Muslim firepower capability will remain lethal on the Iraqi battlefield, which is everywhere and anywhere in the country. By far the group taking the largest number of casualties in the face of these forms of firepower is the Iraqi civilian population, Sunni as well as Shi'ite. However, American GI's are also dying at an unacceptably high rate that is ground up and exploited in the political gristmill, mobilizing public opposition to the war. The American casualties are unacceptable even to the military precisely because there is no end game; no clearly defined mission that has any realistic opportunity for success as long as the asymmetry exists. And, the asymmetry will continue as long as the American ROE remain more akin to a police action than a military campaign.

The second aspect of capability is the logistical re-supply of Muslim firepower. The logistical support to the Muslim warriors comes primarily from the Muslim countries surrounding Iraq, specifically Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia, and Lebanon to name the most prominent in order of importance. At a minimum, suicide bomber belts, RPG's, IED's, terrorist replacement personnel, and money to carry out the Muslim firepower operations unquestionably originate outside of Iraq.

What course of action is available to cancel the capabilities of the Islamist combatants?

Since the Islamic motivations are not likely to be affected or cancelled out of the war equation, notwithstanding the Bush Administration's dream that democracy would have done the trick, the questions remains, can we successfully cripple the capability factor, thereby effectively removing it from the equation?

On the negative side, American forces have been killing Muslim warriors in robust numbers since 2003, but the supply of these combatants appears undiminished. At present there is much "buzz" about a "surge plan" that would increase the numbers of American forces in Iraq in an effort to suppress their firepower - a firepower which has created civil war-like conditions a la Lebanon in Baghdad (an urban checkerboard of Sunni and Shi'ite neighborhoods) and the Sunni Triangle (Sunni tribal land).

The question for military planners is, Will 30,000 to 60,000 more American troops be enough to redress the situation? As I have noted above, it depends on whether the Americans can first cancel the capabilities of the enemy and this can only be accomplished if the U.S. military can correct the asymmetry. This correction depends on the soldiers' specific mission, the ROE that govern their deployment, and how long they will remain in the field.

It would appear, judging from our historical experience thus far in Iraq, that it is imperative to conduct clear-and-hold operations first in Baghdad (where the battle for Iraq will be won or lost), until the violence is reduced to a "livable" level for the average Iraqi. Only after the completion of the pacification of Baghdad should U.S. forces move on to conduct similar clear-and-hold operations in the key urban centers of the Sunni Triangle (e.g., al-Fallujah, al-Ramadi, Samarra, Tikrit).

The reason for the two-phase approach is so that U.S. forces can concentrate all their firepower on the "Battle of Baghdad." After the failure of the last effort to pacify Baghdad in "Operation Together Forward" in the summer of 2006, the Battle of Baghdad takes on the same strategic turning-point significance as the Battle of Stalingrad. History also tells us that success of these clear-and-hold operations is determined by the continued holding presence of American forces, as insurgents have routinely re-occupied contested areas after U.S. troops have withdrawn, even when Iraqi forces have been left behind. ROE must permit the overpowering and overwhelming use of American firepower on a hair-trigger basis.

The ROE must also recognize that there is no clear distinction between civilian leadership and the warrior networks. Without tribal, clan, and family cover and support, there could be no "insurgency". When soldiers move into an area from which hostile activity or fire has been observed and their commanders on the ground order, "Shoot first, ask questions later," this cannot be subject to a court martial after the fact, even when "civilians," including women and children, have been killed in the fire fight. And finally, the American force must remain in place until the perception is widespread in the Iraqi population that the Islamic/insurgent war has been lost.

Assuming success of the operations described above to correct the assymetry, will the capabilities of the Muslim warriors be cancelled? No. And the reason is the second aspect of capability I have mentioned -- logistical re-supply remains essentially unhindered. A substantial augmentation of American forces within the borders of Iraq will change the tactical situation by making it much more difficult for the Muslims to bring their suicide bomber/RPG/IED firepower to bear, but the strategic situation remains unaffected.

At this point, American forces have two options available to stanch the logistical re-supply to the Muslim fighters, upon which the strategic situation teeters. The first option involves attempting to close Iraq's long and remote borders with Iran, Syria, and Saudi Arabia by a combination of airborne radar, aerostatic balloon and drone surveillance, ground-level cameras and acoustic sensors, airmobile reaction forces, and USAF Special Operations Specter gun ships. This option of defending the borders contains the battle for Iraq within Iraqi borders, avoiding the unfavorable public relations that would arise from the second option of attacking the supply bases in Iran and Syria. The problem with the effort to "seal" the borders is that this area is vast and this would be in and of itself a Herculean task, requiring huge investments in equipment and far, far more manpower than 30,000 to 60,000 additional US soldiers. No one deludes himself to believe the Iraqi forces, military, police or otherwise could handle this task.

On the other hand, carrying the air war into the neighboring Muslim sanctuaries which fuel the insurrection is the optimum military solution, because it has the tangible benefit of actually reducing the physical capability of the Muslim warriors to prolong the battle for Iraq. It would also have the long-term benefit of establishing the military-political point that if you aid our enemy, you are a target. And, we need not expose ground troops to bring enormous damage to your military and civilian sectors.

Returning to the War Equation, unless either the motivations or the capabilities are removed, there is the potential for the war to continue unabated.

American political leadership failed to destroy the strategic re-supply capability of North Vietnam for 14 years and, in spite of deploying 550,000 troops to South Vietnam, the American will was worn down to the eventual state of collapse. Why would the outcome in Iraq be any different than it was in South Vietnam, if the same restraint is followed, since the public opinion momentum is already headed in the same direction as it was in 1972?

Colonel Tom Snodgrass, retired U.S. Air Force, is Advisor on Military Intelligence and Strategy to the Society of Americans for National Existence (SANE). Colonel Snodgrass spent 30 years in active military duty, spending much of his time in the military as a senior intelligence officer, and has been an instructor at several war colleges. He is a highly decorated Vietnam War veteran and holds a Master of Arts degree in History and Political Science.

Monday, December 25, 2006

It may be time to send Iran a message to the effect that every time an Iranian-made land mine goes off in Iraq, an American bomb will go off in Iran. Not just at random, but in some Mullah's house.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

It seems to me that people fail to realize how much more dangerous to our liberty Democrats are as compared to Republicans. The Democrats follow the traditional approach of tyrants in that they want to pass so many laws and regulations that conflicts between them are inevitable so that it is impossible for individuals to comply with all of them. Then those in power can prosecute anyone they dislike. The Republicans are also guilty of this, but to a lesser degree. We have seen recently the prosecution of Martha Stewart and Scooter Libby for misleading investigators, even though there was no underlying crime. Hillary Clinton knew how to avoid the trap: when she was interviewed about her law firm's billing practices, she couldn't remember anything. Scooter Libby tried to be helpful: look where that got him. The message of all this seems to be, don't talk to federal authorities without a lawyer.

It took Nifong a long time to drop the rape charges. It appears to me that he will do a "slow roll," in which he gradually drops all charges. He needs to figure out out to extricate himself from this fiasco without getting disbarred or sued.

Something needs to be done about DA's such as Nifong and Ronnie Earle in Austin. They use prosecution to further political aims, and something has to be done to stop this nonsense. A person's life can be destroyed by these evil prosecutors even if the person charged is clearly innocent.

I think Prince Bandar is "the man who would be king." It will be interesting to see if he makes it. He likes living in the US. I don't know if that really makes him our friend.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Here is the second part of neo neocons piece about Cronkite and the Tet Offensive in Vietnam. This same type of reporting that supports our enemies and their propaganda efforts continues today. (For example, the AP story about the six iraqi's being burned alive.)

Tet, Cronkite, opinion journalism, and a changing press: Part II (changing the course of history)

In his introduction to that Cronkite interview featured in Part I, Dick Gordon writes:

It was February 1968, and in a three minute editorial essay on the CBS Evening news Cronkite quite simply changed the course of history. On that night, the anchor told Americans that the war in Vietnam was unwinnable; that the generals and pundits were wrong...

Think about that for a moment. Cronkite, a news anchor, goes on a trip to Vietnam (I can't find any information on how long it lasted, but my guess is a couple of weeks at most). This happens around the time of the Tet Offensive, and he's briefed on that, among other things. Then he returns home. With no particular military expertise--and, as it turns out, no basic understanding of the strategic realities of the Tet Offensive itself--he comes to the opinion that the war cannot be won.

Although prior to this he's always considered his role to be the reporting of facts and events, he now develops the idea that he must use his bully pulpit, and the influence he's gained thoughout his years as a solid and relatively nonpartisan newsman, to tell the "truth" that the government and the military have been keeping from the American people.

Why Cronkite decided to make that transition is still somewhat mysterious, although I aired some theories about it in Part I. Of course, there's no doubt that Cronkite had--and has--a right to his opinion; but we're not talking about merely having an opinion. Did he have a right to leap over the traditional boundaries of news reporting and to intone, in a voice almost all Americans had grown to implicitly trust and revere, that the situation was hopelessly stalemated?

The rules about reporting were there for a reason, after all. The responsibility journalists have is an awesome one; we rely on them for the information on which we base our votes in a republic. Journalists need to make sure that the information they convey is correct, properly sourced, accurate. But anchors are generalists, not experts--except in a very narrow field, that of conveying the news. They are good writers and talkers. They are able to keep their calm with a camera on them, and even to ad lib if necessary. But reporters should guard against the hubris of thinking that they've become expert in every field they cover.

In his broadcast of February 1968, Cronkite was careful to say in his introduction that what he was about to say was "speculative, personal, subjective." He then indicates he doesn't know who won the Tet campaign. He goes on to list a series of battles and conflicts that haven't been resolved to his satisfaction; it's all a stalemate, the whole thing.

He then makes a rather extraordinary leap, saying it's clear this will always be the case. He knows that North Vietnam can--and most definitely will--match us for every measure we can come up with, not just in the past but in the future.

In fact, in clinical terms, one might say Cronkite is speaking of his own weariness and depression in the face of the ongoing conflict. He offers no proof of his assertions of hopeless quagmire, even for Tet--he just doesn't know. But his language is the language of emotion, not facts or strategy. He is dispirited and disillusioned, experiencing a loss of faith more than anything else:

We have been too often disappointed by the optimism of the American leaders, both in Vietnam and Washington, to have faith any longer in the silver linings they find in the darkest clouds.

He calls the conclusion that we are "mired in stalemate" the "only realistic" one. And then he makes the most peculiar declaration of all:

...in the next few months we must test the enemy's intentions, in case this is indeed his last big gasp before negotiations. But it is increasingly clear to this reporter that the only rational way out then will be to negotiate, not as victors, but as an honorable people who lived up to their pledge to defend democracy, and did the best they could.

So, even if Tet turns out to have been a last-ditch effort for the North and the Vietcong, and if the enemy really does prove to have nothing left ("his last big gasp") before submitting to negotiations--Cronkite sees the US "not as victors, but as honorable people who...did the best they could."

But under the circumstances, why wouldn't the US then be negotiating as victors? We see that, even when Cronkite posits a relatively optimistic position as a hypothetical, he still can't bring himself to draw the proper conclusions from it: that it would represent at least some sort of victory. What comes across instead is an utter weariness, a personal one: that of Walter Cronkite himself.

Cronkite remains exceedingly proud of this broadcast. He's often called "avuncular," but I think the following statement of his could be more rightly called paternalistic:

There is a point at which it seems to me if an individual reporter has gained a reputation of being honest, fair as can be, and helps the American people in trying to make a decision on a major issue, I think we ought to take that opportunity.

This illustrates better than anything I can think of the slippery slope that comes from being a reporter and especially an anchorperson. For it's clear that Cronkite had come to believe in his own persona, and to feel that it conferred a certain amount of wisdom on him. If he is honest and fair and trusted in his reportage of the facts, then he seems to think it follows that his own personal opinions and judgments--even about matters outside his field of expertise, journalism itself--are also reliable ones. And that he is therefore qualified to advise the American people in decisions they make on matters of national and military policy.

So, how wrong was Cronkite about Tet? About as wrong as can be, it turns out. History has declared unequivocally that there were winners and losers in Tet: it was a grand strategy that failed miserably for the North in the tactical military sense but succeeded beyond its wildest dreams as a propaganda ploy--due in large part to Cronkite and his colleagues in the MSM.

One of the oddest things about Cronkite isn't what he did then; it's that he's still proud of it today. I've read and listened to a number of his interviews on the subject; at no time does he even address the fact that he was wrong about Tet in the military sense--nor do his questioners bring it up. Is this reticence on their part a show of respect for the frailty of an elderly man? Or are both he and his interviewers largely unaware of the discrediting facts that have been uncovered and widely aired in the intervening decades? Or do they not care if they were wrong about those things, because, after all, they were pursuing that "higher truth?"

The "lower" truth (otherwise known as the actual truth) is that Tet was a disaster for the Vietcong and the North--especially the Vietcong, who never recovered from the blow. But, in the end , it didn't matter. How they managed to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat was detailed in the definitive work on the subject, Peter Braestrup's 1978 analysis of MSM coverage of Tet, entitled "The Big Story."

...the nationwide Vietcong offensive turned out to be an "unmitigated disaster" for the communist side. But the media consensus was just the opposite - an "unmitigated defeat" for the United States.

Cronkite, along with several hundred reporters from two dozen countries, focused on how the Vietcong guerrillas managed to blast their way into the U.S. Embassy compound (but didn't make it past the Marines in the lobby). War correspondents were also impressed by the view from the cocktail bar atop the Caravelle Hotel: C-47s, equipped with three Gatling guns on one side, were strafing Vietcong pockets in Cholon, the capital's twin city 2½ miles away.

Yet the Vietcong didn't reach a single one of their objectives and lost most of their 45,000-strong force in their attacks against 21 cities. It was also a defeat that convinced North Vietnam's leaders to send their regular army - the NVA - south of the 17th parallel to pick up where the Vietcong left off.

If you want to read a summary of the conclusions Braestrup--a seasoned war reporter and former Marine who had served in Korea--reached in his book, please see this. You'd do well to read the whole thing; it's rich in important and informative detail.

Interestingly enough, Braestrup doesn't posit press political bias as a major part of the problem. The real difficulty was sheer ignorance, especially about anything military. Here are just a few of the MSM-created myths about Tet that Braestrup effectively destroys:

There had been no warning of a coming offensive.

The offensive was a victory for Hanoi.

The North Vietnamese military initiative bared the unreliability and inefficiency of our own allies, the South Vietnamese.

The characteristic American response was to destroy city districts and villages with overwhelming, indiscriminate firepower.

The sapper raid on the American embassy, the fighting in Hue, and the siege of Khe Sanh typified the war.

Khe Sanh was to be America's Dien Bien Phu.

How did the press get it so very wrong?

The press corps lacked military experience and the ability to grasp and present matters of strategy and tactics...The press's lack of knowledge and maturity resulted in a lack of discrimination in the presentation of hastily gathered or incomplete facts and contributed to the disaster theme.

The views of experienced military commentators like Joseph Kraft and Hanson Baldwin and the analyses of Douglas Pike were virtually ignored. The press reflected American ignorance of Vietnamese language and culture, had no expertise in the area of pacification, and almost no sources on the South Vietnamese government or army.

...The press was impressionable. General Bruce Palmer succinctly summed up the problem when he stated that the foe "took the battle down around the Caravelle Hotel and, so, from the standpoint of the average reporter over there, it was the acorn that fell on the chicken's head and it said 'The sky is falling.'"

And then you have what I think are the three most important press failings of all, of which Cronkite is guilty as charged, their staying power reflected in his inordinate pride in himself even today, a pride that persists in the face of a book like "The Big Story" (one wonders whether Cronkite has even read it):

There was no willingness to admit error or correct erroneous reporting after the fact. The classic example was the Associated Press's continued assertion that sappers had entered the U.S. Embassy building in Saigon more than twelve hours after it was clear the attack had been repulsed on the grounds.

...By the time of Vietnam, it had become professionally acceptable in some media to allow reporters to "explain" news, not merely report it...

...In their commentary on events in Vietnam, reporters "projected" to the American public their own opinions and fears based on incomplete data and their own inclinations.

Has any of this changed today? I think things have gotten worse, if anything; the MSM failures illustrated by the press coverage of Tet have become institutionalized in the intervening years.

Tet was a turning point all right, but in a very different way than Cronkite envisioned it: it marked the beginning of a special and destructive type of MSM hubris, in which our own media--without realizing it was doing so, and without meaning to--became, effective ly, the propaganda arm of the enemy.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

I've never liked Walter Cronkite. He is far too liberal for my tastes. Here is a piece posted by neo neocon about how after the Tet Offensive in the Vietnam war, our news people, lead by Cronkite, decided to stop just relaying the facts and started telling Americans "the higher truth." In the process they began to promote the propaganda of America's enemies, something that they continue to do until today. In fact, they pride themselves on helping the enemy if doing so hurts Republicans.

Tet, Cronkite, opinion journalism, and a changing press: Part I ("to tell a conflicted people a higher truth")

While Bush formulates a new plan for Iraq, and others say all is lost there no matter what, I'm reminded of a famous "all is lost" moment from that ever-festering sore of history, the Vietnam War: Walter Cronkite's editorial on Tet.

Cronkite's famous post-Tet broadcast of February 27, 1968, delivered on the CBS Evening News, is widely regarded as a turning point in the Vietnam War, as well as broadcast journalism. It caused President Johnson to famously say, "If I've lost Cronkite, I've lost the country," and was apparently instrumental in Johnson's decision to drop out of the 1968 Presidential race.

Those too young to remember may find such a set of circumstances almost impossible to believe. But Walter Cronkite,"the most trusted man in America" during his 18-year tenure as the anchor for the CBS evening news, is widely regarded to have had great influence on public opinion.

Take a moment to mull that one over and contemplate how the times they have a'changed: it would not seem possible for a major network anchor to be the "most trusted man in America" today (and, by the way, that "most trusted" designation wasn't just hyperbole; Cronkite was actually judged that in a Gallup Poll of the time. And, of course, today it would be "the most trusted person in America." But I digress.)

The avuncular Cronkite (and it seems no piece on Cronkite can avoid that perfect description of the man: "avuncular") held America's trust for most of his time at the job. Was it simply a more naive era? The fact that so many Americans got their news from that TV half hour (which Cronkite was instrumental in making a full half hour rather than the 15 minutes he originally inherited) through either CBS, or NBC's rival Huntley-Brinkley, made it seem as though the truth were being told there--after all, there were few competing stories to hear.

And do not underestimate Cronkite's voice and demeanor, perfect for television. Never slick, not handsome, he seemed profoundly sincere, with a deep and resonant voice and a slight (at least to me) resemblance to another familiar and fatherly icon of the times with the same first name, Walt Disney. Cronkite had distinguished himself during his coverage of the Kennedy assassination, displaying controlled but moving emotion as he took off his glasses to announce the President's death. It was a deep bonding with the US public through a traumatic time.

Cronkite earned his trust the hard way: by reporting the unvarnished news. In this 2002 radio interview (well worth listening to for insight into his thought process at the time) Cronkite describes his orientation towards his job prior to that watershed moment of the Tet offensive broadcast.

Previously the top brass at CBS, as well as the reporters there, had understood their function to be reporting "the facts, just the facts." Editorializing was kept strictly separate; at CBS, it was a function of Eric Sevareid, and clearly labeled as such.

The president of CBS news, Dick Salant, was a man of almost fanatical devotion to the principles of non-editorializing journalism, according to Cronkite's interview. Cronkite said that, till Tet, he "almost wouldn't let us put an adjective in a sentence" when reporting, he'd been such a stickler for "just the facts."

But, according to Cronkite, as the Vietnamese War had worn on, and because of the confusion of the American people about the war, reflected in letters to the station, Salant sent Cronkite on a trip to Vietnam with the idea of doing a piece of opinion journalism when he came back, in order to help the American people "understand" what was going on by explicitly editorializing and advising them.

One can speculate long and hard about why Salant decided it was time to make such a drastic change. From Cronkite's interview, it appears that the brass at CBS was part of the turmoil of the 60s with its "question authority" ethos. If you listen to Cronkite (and he expresses not a moment's ambivalence about his actions), you may hear, as I did, an anger at a military that seemed heedless of the difficulties of the Vietnam endeavor, and too sanguine--similar to the "cakewalk" accusation towards the present Iraq War.

Another fact that becomes apparent in the Cronkite interview is that he felt personally betrayed by the military men he'd talked to as Vietnam churned on. He'd been a war correspondent in the Second World War, and that conflict, in which the press had been heavily censored, had featured public pronouncements of public optimism but private "off the record" discussions with the press that were more realistic and often more gloomy. Cronkite had been privy to these. But during Vietnam, when there was no official censorship, the military self-censored when talking to the press--they were profoundly optimistic, because they knew everything they said would be reported. Cronkite seemed miffed that he wasn't given the inside info, as he had been in WWII.

Cronkite is up-front about these differences in his interview. I think it's ironic that, if there had been more censorship during the Vietnam War, war correspondents such as Cronkite might have understood better where the military was coming from and might have cut them some slack. However, that's mere speculation. What actually happened is that Cronkite felt betrayed, and he and Salant thought the American people had been betrayed, and they felt it was important enough that they needed to break their own long-standing rule and spill the beans to the American people.

It never seems to have occurred to them, of course, that in reacting to Tet as they did they were participating in a different falsehood, the propagation of North Vietnamese propaganda about the situation.

Whatever Cronkite's motivations may have been, it's hard to overestimate the effect it had when he suddenly stated on air that the meaning of Tet was that the situation in Vietnam was hopelessly stalemated and the war could not be won. We're used to this sort of thing now, and many of us have learned to brush it off. But then, to much of America, Cronkite's was the voice of trusted authority that could not be denied--despite the fact that he had no special expertise to make such a proclamation.

Of course, we are reaping the fruit of that moment today. Journalism has changed, and not for the better, mixing opinion and facts in messy attempts to influence public opinion rather than inform. In connection with that radio interview, for example, see this statement, rather typical of the genre:

It was a bold move for Cronkite, and it was an seminal moment for journalism, to go beyond the reporting of events, to tell a conflicted people a higher truth, something beyond the cataloguing of casualties or shifting front lines.

To tell a conflicted people a higher truth. That seems to say it all, does it not?

[ADDENDUM: Here is the text of Cronkite's Tet statement

The rise of the internet has impacted the ability of the media to spread "the higher truth." Revelation of Dan Rather's lies about George Bush's Texas Air National Guard is a case in point. The media are not happy about this development. So far they have not made the decision to go back to just reporting the facts.

Monday, December 18, 2006

The more Jimmy Carter pontificates about Israel the more he appears to be an imbecile. Now I read that he has been getting millions of dollars from various Arabs, particularly the Saudi's.

Dr, Sanity's blog today has a piece about the conflict with Islam. She sees the situation in much the same way that I do, as I have posted in the past. Namely, that Bush's effort to establish democracy in a Muslim country, while not likely to succeed, was the most humane approach we could take. If the Bush plan fails then millions of people, most of them Muslims, are going to die. That is because the West will eventually respond to provacations by the Jihadists. That response will come only after the threat is much greater, and the response will be massive. An analogy would be to Hitler's Germany, which the West tried to appease, and finally had to confront resulting in the loss of millions of lives. I think that history will judge todays Democratic Party harshly for trying to undermine Bush's efforts to bring democracy to the Middle East, and thus avoid a world war.

Steve Sailer has an interesting post about the birth rate as related to parents IQ. The tend is that the lower a woman's IQ, the more children she has. We have a lot of immigrants coming in from the south that have lower average IQ than Americans. All of this does not bode well for the future. By mid-century the average IQ in America may fall by up to four points. I see different numbers for the average IQ in Texas now, but it seems to be lower by from two to four points as compared to when I was young. There are more Mexicans in Texas now than the total population of the state when I was born.

An Israeli Mossad spokesman says that Iran won't have a nuclear bomb for three or four years. If they have to make the fissionable material themselves that is probably a good estimate since they do not yet have a sufficient number of centrifuges in operation. And there are reports that they are having difficulty keeping the units in operation.

In the liberal media I read that the Iranians have buried their nuclear plants so deeply in the ground that they are impervious to air attack with conventional weapons. To me that illustrates how ignorant of military matters the liberal media are.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

When Nancy Pelosi was minority leader her approach was "just say no" to all Republican initiatives in the House of Representatives. Why shouldn't the Republicans adopt the same stance now that they are in the minority? I doubt that they will do that. Republicans are used to being losers.

One of the favorite pass-times of liberals these days seems to be scholarly dissertations on how George Bush is the "worst President in history." I have a two word response to all of those articles; Jimmy Carter. Carter is also solidifying his rank as the worst "ex-President."

I read in the Fort Worth Star Telegram today that a lot of Mexican's believe that the Southwestern United States belongs to them so they have every right to enter the US. It seems to me that their thinking is seriously flawed. The land in what is now the Southwestern US was never occupied by Aztecs or Mayans. If those Aztecs amd Mayans had ventured north of the Rio Grande, the Commanches and Apaches would have killed them. The Indians and Spaniards who were resident in those areas when ownership changed from Mexico to the US were not deported; for the most part they stayed where they were, and their descendants are still here.

The Duke LaCrosse team rape case looks worse all the time. It appeared weak at the beginning, and it keeps getting weaker. I find it curious that so-called liberals seem to support the actions of the Durham DA regardles of the facts. They seem to have in their mind that this is justifiable payback for the past when Blacks were unfairly prosecuted. One thing I hear that seems odd is that the DA must have some damming evidence that has not been revealed. But, how can that be? He has an obligation to turn over all evidence to the defendants, and if he has info he hasn't turned over, he wouldn't be able to use it at trial. He probably knew at the beginning that he would have to have an "OJ type" jury that disregards DNA evidence to get a conviction. More and more it appears that he used this case as part of his election strategy.

This seems to be a pattern for Democrats. Ronnie Earle in Austin is another example of a Democrat who uses prosecution as a tool against his political enemies. Ronnie Earle got an indictment against Tom DeLay for something that was not against the law. When this was pointed out, Mr. Earle was not embarrassed. He just went to find another Grand Jury to get another indictment against DeLay for something else; he had to shop around a bit because the first Grand Jury he tried refused to indict. He probably knows that he needs an "OJ type" jury to get a conviction. But, no matter, he got DeLay out of Congress, so he is a hero to Democrats.

The "Scooter" Libby case is another example of use of prosecution as a political weapon even though no crime was committed by Libby or anyone else in the first case. That was known from the beginning, so there was no reason to have an investigation.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Here is an interesting article about Einstein's theory of relativity:


I've always been bothered about the conundrum of the slowing down of clocks moving in a staight line in opposite directions because there is no way to do an experiment to prove the theory. The whole theory of relativity is like that; it explains some things, but it requires that others just be accepted on faith, like that the speed of light in a vacuum is constant. The GPS discussion is interesting.

The speed of gravity has always intrigued me. I always wondered how anything could be instantaneous. It would be neat if we could send signals with gravity waves. That would make it possible for us to communicate with planets many thousands of light years away.

The story about US surveillance of Princess Diana is interesting. Apparently the surveillance wasn't aimed at her, but rather at her American boyfriend, who was contemplating a run against Hilliary Clinton for Senator from New York. (Remember, Bill Clinton was President then, and he used the power of his office, often illegally, to get dirt on his enemies or to intimidate women he had been involved with.) I wonder what the Democrats have to say about that. They will spin wildly if pressed, but the MSM won't touch the story so they won't have to do much spinning. I think their criticism of President Bush for his tracking of potential terrorists is the heigth of hypocrisy. I think their conduct reveals a case of projection. If they were in control they would be illegally monitoring Republicans and others they perceive as threats, so they assume Republicans would do the same.

This is getting ridiculous. It looks like "global warming" is joining President Bush as the root cause of everything.


It is not clear to me how a very small increase in the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere would cause a reduction in air density 400 miles up. I think carbon dioxide is heavier than oxygen and nitrogen. How would more of it reduce density in space?

Saturday, December 09, 2006

I have written before about what I perceive as the limit on Earth temperature increase due to an increase in the concentration of green house gases in the atmosphere. Here is an interesting discussion of the physics involved that I got from the blog 'Greenis Watch."

What is the maximum temperature of the Earth?

Questions and thought experiments around global warming and the greenhouse effect

Author: Ian Schumacher

The greenhouse effect is well known, although perhaps not well understood. Essentially greenhouse gases in the atmosphere act as a band-pass filter. High energy visible light can easily come in, heat up the ground and the atmosphere, and be converted to lower energy infrared light which the atmosphere absorbs and reflects. A question has not been asked of this process: How far can it go? What is the maximum possible temperature the greenhouse effect can produce? This paper attempts to answer this question and other related questions, and to discuss the postulates that arise as a result.

Black bodies

A black body absorbs all of the light that reaches it. It has an absorptivity of 1. Thermodynamics states that objects at thermodynamic equilibrium radiate as much energy as they receive. The Stefan-Boltzmann equation describes the energy flux as it relates to temperature for a body in thermodynamic equilibrium:

A reasonably close approximation to a black body is a spherical cavity with a small hole for radiation to enter and exit. Many of us in our youth may have imagined such a cavity with a mirrored inner surface and a small hole in which to shine a light, mentally imagining how this might "trap" the light allowing it to build up and up to some bomb-like explosive level. However, now we know that the light energy will not build up to infinity but will be exactly balanced by outgoing thermal radiation once the temperature inside the sphere reaches a sufficient level.

Now imagine that we place a high-pass filter over the entrance of the cavity. High-energy high-frequency light will go in, hit the inner surface, bounce around, and be absorbed; low-energy, low-frequency thermal radiation will be produced which will hit our high-pass filter and be rejected. Have we changed anything? At first glance it might seem that we have, if we consider an idealized high-pass filter that does nothing but filter light. However, a real filter will have a temperature, and at thermodynamic equilibrium, by definition, the temperature of the filter will be the same as the temperature of the walls inside the sphere, and so at equilibrium the situation is exactly the same as before. Once we reach equilibrium the filter becomes irrelevant and the incoming and outgoing radiation will be equal as in the case where we don't have a filter.

Postulate 1: The average temperature of a body in thermodynamic equilibrium with an external energy source can never exceed the temperature of a black body in the same environment.

The total energy flux must be equal; however, can there be temperatures inside of the spherical cavity that are much higher than the average? No. At first it seems as though energy flux can be concentrated in some areas and spread out in others. A magnifying glass, or a parabolic mirror are obvious mechanisms to achieve such a concentration. However, unlike an external energy source such as the sun, the thermodynamic radiation inside the cavity at equilibrium will have no directional bias and therefore there are no mechanisms available to be able to focus this energy.

Postulate 2: The maximum temperature of a body in thermodynamic equilibrium with an external energy source can never exceed the temperature of black body in the same environment.

Postulates 1 and 2, do not seem particularly revolutionary and to most people with a physics background they probably seem rather trivial and obvious. However, their statement up front is unfortunately necessary in order to overcome the common misinterpretation of the greenhouse effect that allows for conditions to violate postulates 1 and 2. When trying to determine the maximum temperature of the Earth, it is important to know which mechanisms limit this maximum. The parallels between our high-pass filter example and the greenhouse effect are obvious, so does this mean that the greenhouse effect does not exist? No, it does not mean any such thing. The greenhouse effect is real, however it does mean that the greenhouse effect can never produce a temperature that is higher than the temperature of a black body in the same environment.

Postulate 3: The greenhouse effect can never produce a temperature that is higher than the temperature of a black body in the same environment

For many readers this will cause a great pause and some reflection. It has become conventional wisdom that the greenhouse effect has essentially no limits, but this is clearly not true. The greenhouse effect works exactly as previously described. High energy visible light can easily come in, heat up the ground and the atmosphere, and be converted to lower energy infrared light which the atmosphere absorbs and reflects. High-energy high-frequency light enters through the atmosphere and is absorbed by the surface and atmosphere to produce low-energy low-frequency thermal radiation. This low frequency thermal radiation is more readily absorbed by the atmosphere and is radiated back to the surface and out to space. The result of the greenhouse effect is to raise the equivalent absorptivity of Earth closer and closer to unity (but never exceeding it). To those having trouble believing postulate 3, I recommend they work through postulated 1 & 2 in their mind until it becomes clear that this must be the case.

The sun, the moon, and the earth

It should now be clear that the maximum temperature of Earth can be no higher than the maximum temperature of an equivalent black body. We will now try to evaluate what that maximum is. For simplicity, all values and graphs have been obtained from Wikipedia unless otherwise stated.

The moon is quite close to a black body. It is estimated to have an absorptivity of 0.88. Conveniently the moon is nearly in the same environment in space as the Earth. The maximum temperature found on the moon is approximately 390o K. Using the Stefan-Boltzmann equation described earlier the maximum flux on the moon is

which for our values gives a flux of . Already we have a problem. The flux on Earth from the sun as measured by satellites is widely reported to be around , or significantly lower. Why the discrepancy? It is interesting to note that even with only these three elements, moon data, sun data, and the Stefan-Boltzmann equation, we end up with slightly inconsistent results, which may give us some insight into the level of uncertainty in the data that still remains in this area. Since we are interested in the maximum temperature we will take the maximum value of .

The earth is approximately spherical and receives light from the sun on a cross-sectional area of a circle, but radiates thermal energy from the area of a sphere. The ratio of the spherical area to the circular area is 4. Dividing the incoming energy flux by 4 gives the Earth an approximate maximum temperature of 285o K. Again we have another inconsistency as this maximum temperature is below the widely reported global average temperature of 288o K. Also the earth has an uneven distribution of temperatures and therefore an uneven distribution of flux, the end result of which would be to lower the average temperature even more. Still the result is quite close and it suggests that the Earth is behaving very closely to a black body and is operating very close to its maximum possible temperature.

Postulate 4: The earth is operating very close to its maximum possible temperature.

Again, this will cause many to pause as it goes against the conventional wisdom. However we will attempt to provide two pieces of evidence to support this case:

- ice ages and the runaway greenhouse effect

- climate variability/stability

Ice ages and the runaway greenhouse effect

There is a surprising amount of debate about what causes ice ages and their ending. The core feature of ice ages is their remarkable periodicity. The figure below shows sample data for the last four ice ages.

The most likely cause of the ice ages is due to fluctuations in the intensity and the distribution of solar radiation caused by changes in the tilt in the Earth's axis. This theory was first described by the Serbian scientist, Milutin Milankovitch, in 1938. There are three major cyclical components of the Earth's orbit about the sun that contribute to these fluctuations: the procession (tilt of the Earth's axis), as well as Earth's orbital eccentricity and orbital tilt. The exact cause and effect relationship between orbital forcing and ice ages is still a matter of great debate, however the match of glacial/interglacial frequencies to the Milankovitch orbital forcing periods is so close that orbital forcing is generally accepted. Other theories include greenhouse gas forcing, changes in the Earth's plate tectonics, changes in solar variation, and changes in absorptivity due to dust and gases spewed by volcanoes.

The exact cause of the ice ages is not critical to our discussion other than to note that the Earth appears to have two metastable states: an ice age period and a warm period.

Of note in the above figure is the strong correlation between carbon dioxide and temperature. As the temperature increases, ice sheets recede, which increases the absorptivity of the earth, and more carbon dioxide, water vapor, methane, and other greenhouse gases are released. This increases the temperature further, which causes the ice sheets to recede further, and causes more greenhouse gases to be released, etc. This is a positive feedback loop and is the "runaway greenhouse effect" in action. The positive feedback also works in the opposite direction causing the earth to drastically fluctuate between these two metastable states. What causes this runaway greenhouse effect to end? The answer is that once the earth has achieved its maximum absorptivity (or very close to it), additional receding ice or greenhouse gases becomes irrelevant. The climate is "pinned" to the maximum possible value.

Postulate 5: The transition from Ice Age to warm period and back to Ice Age is achieved through a runaway greenhouse effect and its opposite

Climate variability/stability

Another remarkable feature is the relative stability of the climate at the peak of the warming cycle. The variability of temperatures during an ice age is relatively high compared to periods of warming. However this makes perfect sense if one considers the climate as being "pinned" to the upper limit during the warm periods and therefore remaining stable due to strong positive feedback. At the upper limit, the major driver of upper temperatures becomes solar input as this is the only thing remaining that can effectively increase temperatures.

Postulate 6: The runaway greenhouse effect ends when the Earth has achieved a effective absorptivity as close to unity as it can get after which the earth becomes insensitive to further positive feedback changes.

Can there be a tipping point or a runaway greenhouse effect from a sudden injection of CO2/methane or the melting of ice?

No there can not. The Earth has already experienced a runaway greenhouse effect thousands of times during its lifetime. Each time it is run to the maximum possible level that it can, bringing us the much more habitable climate that we have today. It is not possible for there to be a tipping point to spiral us into a third metastable climate state that has not been shown to exist during the entire history of Earth. Barring a sudden change in input from the sun, changes in climate upwards can only occur in a smooth, slow and limited fashion. A tipping point is possible, however, towards another ice age as has happened thousands of times before.

(The paper above is an original publication. Ian Schumacher [ian.schumacher@gmail.com] has a degree in Engineering Physics and has done a master's program in physics and mathematical modeling. He used to work as a contract research scientist for the Canadian military, but has long since moved on and is now a programmer/software architect living in Vancouver, Canada)

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Democrats claim they are going to eliminate the "culture of corruption" in Congress. They are going to do this by putting a member under investigation by the FBI for a large number of criminal acts in charge of oversight of the FBI. From that position he should be able to stop the FBI from investigating him. That should take care of the corruption issue. But, probably not since he wouldn't want to stop investigation of Republicans, and in fact, probably wants to start a series of witch hunts involving Republicans.

There is a lot of buzz about Barack Obama these days. The Democrats seem to love him. I'm not sure why, since he doesn't have much of a record except being for unrestricted abortion, and against actually defending us from Islamists. (I read that his father is a Muslim, so I expect he is sympathetic to our mortal enemies.) He appears to be a collectivist on the far left end of the political spectrum, though he doesn't talk that way. Some conservatives see him as the anti-Christ. I don't know about that, but he is not a person I could vote for. At this point I think the the most likely Democratic ticket in 2008 will be Hillary and Barack, but there are a lot of potential landmines along the path to the Whitehouse.

The election of those two would be a disaster of major proportions. I expect that some of the old Clinton ideas of socialized medicine, and prevention of capital from leaving the country would be re-visited. I think the MSM never reported much on Clinton's fear that his policies would cause capital flight. That became a non-issue after the Republicans gained control of Congress in 1994. Sarbanes-Oxley has damaged capitalism in America, and Hillary could finish it off once and for all. It would be necessary to prevent rich people from taking their money out of the country for the socialist policies to work even in the short term. Where would people take their money? Ted Kennedy has his in Fiji, but there has been civil unrest there in recent times. If liberty disappears in America there is not much hope for the world.

I saw the infamous Britney Spears "no panties" photos on the web. If a guy were to do such a thing in public, I wonder if he would be charged with indecent exposure. I suspect we have a double standard at work here. I wonder what the reaction of her fan base, which I assume is teen-aged boys and girls, will be. It has been a long time since I was a teen-ager, and I suspect the sophistication of today's teen-agers is different than when I was a kid. But, I think I would have been disappointed in the mystery revealed.

Here is a excerpt from Gorge Will's column today on the Seattle School District's definition of racism.

Until June, the school district's Web site declared that ``cultural racism'' includes ``emphasizing individualism as opposed to a more collective ideology,'' ``having a future time orientation'' (planning ahead) and ``defining one form of English as standard.'' The site also asserted that only whites can be racists, and disparaged assimilation as the ``giving up'' of one's culture. After this propaganda provoked outrage, the district, saying it needed to ``provide more context to readers'' about ``institutional racism,'' put up a page saying that the district's intention is to avoid `` unsuccessful concepts such as a melting pot or colorblind mentality.''

According to the Seattle School District I am a racist. It is part of my culture as a Texan to favor the rights of the individual over the collective, and to believe that all Americans should be taught to speak standard English, and to plan for the future. I wonder how the Seattle School District feels about the culture of Texans? I suspect that they think my culture should be eradicated. On the other hand, I would bet that they are sympathetic to the Jihadists who are compelled by their religion to kill Jews and Christians.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Al Gore and a lot of other politicians tell us that all of the scientists in the world agree that the world faces a disaster due to global warming caused by the build-up of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. So I conclude that they are unaware of what Russian scientists have beensaying for many years now, or they don't regard Russian scientists as credible because they must be being funded by big oil. Here is an interesting article from the blog Antigreen. (By the way, for those who haven't considered the history of climate change, warmer is better, and contrary to what Gore and others say, warmer periods have had milder weather, not more severe storms.)

Russian scientists predict new Ice Age in 50 years

Researchers with the Russian Academy of Sciences warned Wednesday that the Earth could be headed for a 60-year cooldown, the news agency Interfax reported. Scientists based at the academy's Pulkovskaya Observatory in St Petersburg, Russia, said they expected a gradual decrease in global temperatures in 2012-15, followed by a more dramatic, 60-year period of cold to come in 2055-60. Khabibullo Abdusamatov, chief researcher at the observatory, said the predictions were based on solar cycles, and that after the 60-year glimpse of the Ice Ages warmer weather could be expected. Abdusamatov did not say how much cooler the Earth would get.

Little is known about long-term weather patterns. Evidence that the globe's surface temperature has warmed by about a half-degree Celsius in recent years has livened debate about whether a buildup of greenhouse gases is to blame for global warming, or if it is part of a naturally occurring cycle. The United States' National Academy of Sciences has reported it cannot say with any certainty what has caused the current warming. Scientists have noted a warming of the surface temperature appeared to have occurred between the 1890s and 1940s, and that a 30-year period of cooler temperatures followed.

What is clear is that a little warming goes a long way: During the most recent ice age, which ended 10,000 years ago, much of North America, including New York, is thought to have been covered in glaciers. The global surface temperature then was some 4 to 5 degrees colder than it currently is.

The Russian academy, meanwhile, did not use its predictions to weigh in on whether greenhouse gases will lead to catastrophic global warming. Abdusamatov, the researcher, did add that his colleagues had prepared instruments to monitor changes in the Earth's temperature from outer space. The technology is hoped to be installed on the International Space Station in 2008, with observations to begin in 2009. 'Such a highly accurate apparatus does not yet exist anywhere in the world,' Abdusamatov said without specifying what exactly the apparatus was.

He said the Russian government had contributed 20 million rubles (7.5 million US dollars) to cover half the project's costs. The scientists, Abdusamatov added, are hoping to find sponsors to provide the other half.


More on the Russian prediction below:

About 87 percent of Russians believe that the weather in January of 2006 was colder than usual in their regions. More than one-fourth of the polled Russian citizens said that they experienced health problems because of the cold. Therefore, pessimistic forecasts predicting even colder times on the planet sound quite trustworthy against such a background.

Many media outlets both in Russia and abroad have already exposed their forecasts about the new Ice Age. Journalists paid special attention to the statements released by the chief of the Space Exploration Department of the Central Astronomical Observatory of the Russian Academy of Sciences, the supervisor of the Astrometria project of the Russian part of the International Space Station, Doctor of Physical Sciences, Khabibullo Abdusamatov.

The scientist particularly said that a global reduction of temperatures would hit planet Earth in the middle of the 21st century because of receding solar radiation. Mr. Abdusamatov told Pravda.Ru that the new Ice Age will start very slowly. According to the scientist, the process will gather pace in 2050-55.

Abdusamatov compares the imminent reduction of temperatures with Maunder's minimum of solar activity registered in 1645-1715 (named so in honour of the English astronomer of the 19th century, Walter Maunder), when all canals froze in Holland and severe cold forced many people to leave their settlements. "The coldest years of the middle of the 21st century will be warmer than at the end of the 17th century," the scientist clarified.

Khabibullo Abdusamatov also explained the structure of solar activity cycles that last for 11 and 100 years. The scientist said that 11-year cycles do not affect the Earth's climate. Eighty-year cycles do not have much influence either, although 200-year cycles are much more powerful. The theory, the scientist told Pravda.Ru, was not considered a common scientific theory in the world. "The whole world has recognized the global warming theory, which pictures catastrophic situations in the future. I do not march in step with the world at this point. However, my theory has raised a certain interest in other countries. Hardly had I made a statement to RIA Novosti when I received several messages from scientists living in the USA, Iceland and other countries. They wanted to know more of my theory. They also want to know if I have delivered a detailed report on the matter and where it was published," the scientist said.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Here is an article about Islam and Science. This is from the blog The American Thinker. I had noticed that the beliefs of Islam are not logical, but had not realized that they don't believe in "cause and effect."

What Islamic Science and Philosophy?

By Jonathan David Carson

We know that we are being lied to. Sometimes we just don't realize how much we are being lied to.

The more sordid the Islamic present seems, the more we are told of the glories of the Islamic past. And the most glorious of the glories of Islam, the most enlightened of its enlightenments, are the "Islamic science" and "Islamic philosophy" of the Golden Age.

So what does Islamic law say about this science and this philosophy? According to Reliance of the Traveller: The Classic Manual of Islamic Sacred Law by Ahmad ibn Naqib al-Misri (d. 1368), they are unlawful, serious affronts to Islam, a form of apostasy. Apologists for Islam in the West brag about the "Islamic science" and "Islamic philosophy" that their accomplices in the Islamic world condemn.

Reliance of the Traveller lists the following sorts of "unlawful" knowledge:

(1) sorcery

(2) philosophy

(3) magic

(4) astrology

(5) the sciences of the materialists

(6) and anything that is a means to create doubts
The term "sciences of the materialists" requires explanation. It does not mean, as one might think, science that is based on the assumption that matter (and energy) is the sole constituent of the universe. Jews and Christians might agree that such "sciences of the materialists," if not "unlawful," at least present a truncated view of reality, omitting as they do the spiritual realm. It means, rather, according to the commentary of Reliance of the Traveller, the "conviction of materialists that things in themselves or by their own nature have a causal influence independent of the will of Allah. To believe this is unbelief that puts one beyond the pale of Islam."

At issue here is not the existence of the spiritual realm, but the condemnation by al-Ghazali in The Incoherence of the Philosophers of "the judgment of the philosophers," first of all Avicenna,

"that the connection that is observed to exist between causes and effects is a necessary relation, and that there is no capability or possibility of bringing the cause into existence without the effect, nor the effect without the cause."
Causes and effects are inadmissible, according to al-Ghazali, because causes limit the absolute freedom of Allah to bring about whatever events he wills. Effects are brought about, not by causes, but by the direct will of Allah.

We see then that the condemnation of "the sciences of the materialists" and the condemnation of philosophy are really the same condemnation and that the condemnation of "the sciences of the materialists" is a condemnation of far more than secular science, extending as it does to any analysis of causes and effects, whether materialist or not. It extends even to any discussion of the nature of any object, whether material or spiritual, because the nature of an object conditions how it affects and is affected by other objects. So in the end the condemnation of "the sciences of the materialists" is a condemnation of any effort to understand anything.

Averroes replied to The Incoherence of the Philosophers in The Incoherence of the Incoherence, so al-Ghazali, whose views inform Reliance of the Traveller in particular and mainstream Islam in general, attacked Avicenna, one of the two greatest of the "Islamic philosophers," who was defended by the other, Averroes.

And we are told by the entire decrepit establishment that we should honor the "Islamic philosophy" of the Golden Age!

There is, however, a still closer connection between the philosophy and "the sciences of the materialists" declared unlawful by Reliance of the Traveller. Without a notion of cause and effect, science is impossible, and the acceptance by Islam of al-Ghazali's views meant that science in the Islamic world could develop only in opposition to a fundamental tenet of Islam.

If the true cause of events is the will of Allah, and if the will of Allah is inscrutable, then the causes of events are inscrutable and science a vain pursuit. The issue is ultimately whether the universe and its creator are in any way intelligible. The West, with its traditions of natural law and natural theology, agrees for the most part that the universe is astonishingly intelligible and God somewhat so. Islam, at least at its most rigorous, denies any intelligibility whatsoever to either.

The seriousness of the condemnation of philosophy and science by Reliance of the Traveller can be seen in its list of "Acts That Entail Leaving Islam." Belief "that things in themselves or by their own nature have any causal influence independent of the will of Allah" is apostasy.

In contrast, the Jewish and Christian worlds have been informed by the notion of secondary causes propounded by Moses Maimonides and Saint Thomas Aquinas. God works, at least most of the time, through the laws of nature, via causes. Just as our wills can be both free and subject to God, and divine foreknowledge does not foreclose the contingency of earthly events, God and nature cooperate in the production of effects.

Thus, nature both has its own laws and remains subject to the will of God. The laws of nature place no limitation on the freedom of God, and science can investigate natural causes without trespassing in the divine realm. Indeed, science, by investigating the operations of nature, simultaneously elucidates divine providence. Far from being "unlawful," science is, in this view, completely compatible with the worship of God, indeed more than simply compatible because it is the product of a desire to know God, a desire even for a divine intimacy.

There are two Bibles, as it were, Holy Scripture and the Book of Nature. The heavens declare the glory of God, and the things that are unseen are known by the things that are seen. That science as an institution has been corrupted by bad philosophy and worse theology in no way negates the fundamental compatibility of true science and true religion.

The importance of "occasionalism," the doctrine that events are brought about by the direct will of God, not by natural causes, for Islam and for the West's differences with it is emphasized in the following statement of Majid Fakhry:

In fact it is no exaggeration to say that a number of distinctively Islamic notions such as fatalism, utter resignation to God, the surrender of personal endeavour, belief in the unqualified transcendence of God, etc., cannot be fully understood except in the perspective of the occasionalist world-view. (Islamic Occasionalism)
This doctrine is at the heart of Islam. Avicenna, Averroes, Maimonides, and Aquinas warned us against it, but now university, scientific establishment, media, State Department, and even corporate America, elites of every sort, pretend that Avicenna and Averroes are the paragons of Islamic philosophy and Maimonides and Aquinas their best pupils and thus in debt to Islam. If we are going to escape humiliation, madness, and death, we are going to have to educate ourselves and fight for even the simplest and most obvious of truths. The establishment is certainly not going to do it for us.

Here is an interesting article on the differences in the religions of Islam and Christianity. This long article is from the blog The American Thinker. The article points out that the two religions are totally incompatible.

Islam and the Problem of Rationality

By Patrick Poole

In the run-up to Pope Benedict's current visit to Turkey, TIME Magazine opened its pages to Tariq Ramadan, Europe's favorite Islamist and perhaps the most influential Muslim figure in the West today. Ramadan chided the Pope and Europe for ignoring the positive contributions of Islam to the development of rational thought in the West.

Writing in response to Benedict's now-famous Regensburg speech (which prompted outrage in the Muslim world) and the Pope's first visit to a predominantly Muslim country, Ramadan's article, "And He's Still in the Dark", offers a back-handed compliment to Benedict's attempt at dialogue with Muslims, warning that the Pope's efforts actually threatens the West, and directs Muslims in the West to their point of apologetic attack:

As I have written before, this profoundly European Pope is inviting the people of his continent to become aware of the central, inescapable character of Christianity within their identity, or risk losing it. That may be a legitimate goal, but Benedict's narrow definition of European identity is deeply troubling and potentially dangerous. This is what Muslims must respond to: the tendency of Westerners to ignore the critical role that Muslims played in the development of Western thought. Those who "forget" the decisive contributions of rationalist Muslim thinkers like al-Farabi (10th century), Avicenna (11th century), Averroes (12th century), al-Ghazali (12th century), Ash-Shatibi (13th century) and Ibn Khaldun (14th century) are reconstructing a Europe that is not only an illusion but also self-deceptive about its past.
But in fact, it is Ramadan who is operating under an illusion and is self-deceived about Islam's supposed prominent role in shaping the rationalist tradition of Christendom. As an article ("The Pope and the Prophet") by Robert Reilly in the current issue of Crisis Magazine ably notes, Western Christianity's rational tradition developed in the Medieval era precisely as a result of the outright rejection of the irrationalism inherent in Islamic philosophy, not the embracing of it.

Any hope of the development of a rational tradition within Islam was dashed with the rise of Caliph Ja'afar al-Mutawakkil (847-861). Prior to al-Mutawakkil's rule, a rationalist philosophy had begun to develop under the Mu'tazilite school of interpretation, which advocated for a created, as opposed to an uncreated, Quran. But Caliph al-Mutawakkil condemned the Mu'tazilite school, which opened the door for the rival Ash'arite interpretation, founded by al-Ash'ari (d. 935), to eventually take preeminence within Sunni Islam - a position of dominance it has retained over the centuries. By 1200 A.D., any hope of recovering a semblance of rational Islamic philosophy was seemingly forever lost.

It was the work of the very Islamic philosophers that Ramadan cites that prompted Europe Christian thinkers to make a break with their Muslim counterparts. Historically, the views of the Ash'arite school were rooted in the theological dogma of "volunteerism", which holds that rather than created objects having inherent existence, Allah constantly recreates each atom anew at every moment according to his arbitrary will. This, of course, undermines the basis for what Westerners understand as natural laws.

From volunteerism sprung another irrational idea amongst Muslim thinkers - occasionalism - that further prevented the development of rationalism within the Islamic tradition. Occasionalism is the belief that in the natural world, what is perceived as cause and effect between objects is mere appearance, not reality. Instead, only Allah truly acts with real effect; all seemingly natural observances of causation are merely manifestations of Allah's habits, for Allah simultaneously creates both the cause and the effect according to his arbitrary will. This view is best expressed by one of the Islamic philosophers cited by Ramadan, al-Ghazali (1059-1111), in his book, The Incoherence of the Philosophers:

The connection between what is habitually believed to be the cause and what is habitually believed to be the effect is not necessary for us. But in the case of two things, neither of which is the other and where neither the affirmation nor the negation of the one entails the affirmation or the negation of the other, the existence or non-existence of the one does not necessitate the existence or non-existence of the other; for example, the quenching of thirst and drinking, satiety and eating, burning and contact with fire, light and the rising of the sun, death and decapitation.... On the contrary, it is within God's power to create satiety without eating, death without decapitation, to prolong life after decapitation and so on in the case of all concomitant things. (quoted in "Causation in Islamic Thought" from the Dictionary of the History of Ideas)

Using al-Ghazali's own analogy of decapitation, according to the occasionalist view, when a sword struck off a person's head causing death, it only merely appeared that the sword was the cause of the decapitation: the real and primary cause of the decapitation and the death was the will of Allah, not the sword. The sword, in fact, played no part at all. Had Allah willed it so, the sword could have cut through the neck without decapitation or death. To believe otherwise, Islamic occasionalism held, would be a limitation of the omnipotence of Allah. As with volunteerism, the consequences of occasionalism had catastrophic effects for the development of empirical science in the Islamic world.

Occasionalism was rigorously opposed by the two great philosophers of Medieval Europe, Albert Magnus and Thomas Aquinas, along with the great medieval Jewish philosopher, Moses Maimonides (1135-1204), who lived and wrote in Muslim-occupied Spain. The Fourth Lateran Council (1215) also addressed the threat posed by Islamic occasionalism by affirming the ancient Christian truth that God created the universe ex nihilo (from nothing). This prevented the volunteerist view from gaining ground in the West, and thus occasionalism, merely by stating that God had actually created, and that objects in the natural world created by God have an actual inherent existence and do not need to be constantly recreated.

Other problems developed within Islamic philosophy which prevented the rise of rationalism. Perhaps the most notable following volunteerism and occasionalism is the "dual-truth" theory advanced by Averroes, who with Avicenna is considered one of the two most important Islamic philosophers in history.

In an attempt to navigate between faith and rationality, Averroes argued that what may be true in the realm of religion may be contrary to what is true in nature. Thus, the Quranic maxim, "there is no compulsion in religion," (Sura 2:256) can be entirely true from a religious sense; but in the real world and in the course of jihad, compulsion may not only be required, but entirely justifiable. The dual-truth theory was vigorously rejected by Aquinas, and eventually both Roman Catholic, and later, Protestant theology acknowledged both the authoritative nature and the necessary agreement between special revelation (Scripture) and general revelation (nature).

Aquinas also refuted Averroes on his denial of the personal element to the human soul in the classic treatise, De Unitate Intellectus Contra Averroistas. The implication of Averroes' belief was an ultimate denial of the individual and the rejection of personal immortality - an inseparable component to historic Christian theology.

Neoplatonism and its associated ideas were also commonplace to Islamic philosophy, particularly the recurrent eternal cycles of history (Ibn Khaldun), which stands opposed to the linear view of history that is integral to the development of modern science. But science and rationalism were not the only victims of the problems of Islamic philosophy: free will and ethics also became targets. Islamic occasionalism led to fatalism and ethical positivism, as articulated in recent centuries by Muhammad as-Sanusi (b. 1780):

It is impossible for the Most High to determine an act as obligatory or forbidden... for the sake of any objective, since all acts are equal in that they are his creation and production. Therefore the specification of certain acts as obligatory and others as forbidden or with any other determination takes place by his pure choice, which has no cause. Intelligibility has no place at all in it rather it can be known only by revealed-law sharīa. (quoted in Joseph Kenny, Islamic Monotheism: Principles and Consequences)
Again, this is standard Ash'arite doctrine, which is the predominant view of Sunni Islam, not an obscure element within Muslim thought. Because there are no objective standards of good or evil, even with Allah, the only resort to maintain ethics is shari'a; and as-Sanusi makes clear, there is no role at all for rationality in ethics. Ibn Taymiyya (1263-1328), the favorite medieval theologian of Wahhabis and jihadists alike, contended that there was no role or ability for man to understand Allah; man's sole response was to obey shari'a, making any use of rational faculties irrelevant (see Reilly's article on this point). This is why the reinstitution of shari'a is so critical to the current Islamist project - there are no other alternatives except a complete reconstruction of Islam itself.

Tariq Ramadan is well aware of these problems within Islamic philosophy, as evidenced by his vocal appeals to reopen the "doors of ijtihad" to allow for new interpretations of Islam to escape the irrationalism of the principal ancient schools of belief. But instead of acknowledging those problems and ignoring the insurmountable philosophical obstacles posed by his own Islamic tradition, Ramadan shamelessly attempts to claim for Islamic traditions a commonality with the fruits of Western rationality.

Rather than focus on differences, the true dialogue between the Pope and Islam, and between secularized societies and Islamic ones, should emphasize our common, universal values: mutual respect of human rights, basic freedoms, rule of law and democracy.

The reality is that none of these values - human rights, basic freedoms, rule of law, or democracy - actually exists anywhere in the Muslim world (even in "secular" Turkey) to the degree that they are practiced in or are recognizable to the West, nor are they identifiable in the 1,400 years of Islamic history. (In subsequent essays I hope to show that Islamic theology itself negates these very concepts, making any rapprochement between Islam and Western values impossible without abandoning the most basic tenets of Islam itself.)

As Robert Reilly notes in his article, this acknowledgement of the intrinsic problems of Islamic theology and its incompatibility with Western values is not just a view exclusive to just infidels, but honest Muslim intellectuals as well. He quotes the Iranian thinker Abdolkarim Soroush, who admits:

Some of the understandings that exist in our society today of the Imams . . . or even of the concept of God are not particularly compatible with an accountable state and do not allow society to grow and develop in the modern-day sense.
If Tariq Ramadan is really serious about a dialogue between Islam and the West and cultivating Western values amongst Muslims (and there is some reason to believe that he isn't serious), it must not only be open, but honest as well. Relying on an invented and purely mythological Islamic history and ignoring the problems of Islamic philosophy are not the place for Muslims to initiate the dialogue. Pope Benedict's starting point is clearly much better