Showing posts with label IDA & Climate Change. Show all posts
Showing posts with label IDA & Climate Change. Show all posts

Friday, September 3, 2021

More on Afghanistan - After IDA Will US Get Serious About Climate Change ? - August 2021 Execution Stats For TIJ

Do you mean to tell me that our top brass could not figure this one out ?


 ~ From Informed Comment: 


Failure in Iraq and Afghanistan: Did the Mighty, Cutting-Edge US Military Machine founder on Guerrillas' Humble Improvised Explosive Devices? 


 "Southwest Harbor, Maine (Special to Informed Comment) – Victory always seems to be just around the corner or at the end of the tunnel, until it isn’t. With the humiliation of defeat compounded by the difficulties extricating US personnel, second guessing is well underway and will likely last for years. The corruption of the government in Kabul is a favorite explanation, though the US role in installing that government is downplayed. But perhaps the most glaring omission from the post-war discussions is the role of air power, especially aerial bombardment in war. The last time the US won a war it commissioned an independent inquiry into the role of air power in victory over the Germans. The surprising conclusion, as summarized by commission head John Kenneth Galbraith:

    “The bombing of Germany, both by the British and ourselves [America], had far less effect than was thought. The German arms industry continued to expand its output until autumn 1944, despite the heaviest air attacks. Some of the best-publicised attacks, including those on ball-bearing plants, practically grounded the 8th Air Force for months. Its losses were that heavy. At the end of the war, the Germans had ball bearings for export again. Our attacks on their airplane plant were a failure. In the months after the spring raids of 1944, their production increased.”

The commission’s explanations, though not directly relevant to the Afghanistan war, do suggest lines of inquiry that should be pursued. Galbraith wrote that the “reasons were threefold. First, the machine tools were relatively invulnerable. They’d be buried under rubble but could be dug out in a day or two. Second, it was possible to decentralise production: to move the machinery into schools and churches. It was reorganised in much less time than was imagined. The Germans discovered that it wasn’t necessary for production to be in a single factory. They also discovered that it was possible to redesign a lot of equipment to reduce the use of ball bearings. Third, it was possible to reorganise what had been sporadic and less than diligent managements.”

…There had been two broad strategies. The British bombed at night and went for the central cities, because that was all they could find….

American strategy involved daylight raids; we aimed for the plants themselves. The problem was targeting. In a large number of cases, we couldn’t hit them. There was a saying in 1945: we conducted a major onslaught on German agriculture.

We have here some possible convergences. Weapons in caves can be relatively invulnerable and training and command structures decentralized. And as with all fighting forces missing the target was an inevitable part of the enterprise.

There are more compelling reasons to oppose such massive bombardment campaigns but failures of such magnitude across frames of era and ideology leads one to ask what factors did motivate these continuing campaigns.

Galbraith concluded,

    “All the wartime bombing, accidents apart, being on the far side of enemy lines, knowledge of the destruction depended on the reports of those in the bombers or later aerial reconnaissance. Neither source was given to understatement; [emphasis mine] neither air crew nor photographs minimized the admittedly ghastly consequences. Out of the several proposals in November, 1944, came the United States Strategic Bombing Survey. It was to be independent of the Air Force, although advised and supported by it, and independent and accurate in its findings. Accuracy to many of the Air Force generals had a somewhat specialized connotation; it meant establishing with some clarity that the bombers won the war.”

Now lets fast forward to the early stages of the Trump Administration. NY Times reports:

    “During the years of intense fighting in Afghanistan, the United States dropped a handful of similar bombs to destroy caves believed to be used by the Taliban and Al Qaeda, as well as to frighten troops dug into trenches who were not immediately killed. The military offered a similar rationale on Thursday for using the bomb — a successor to the ‘daisy cutter,’ a heavy bomb designed for the instant clearing of large sections of jungle in Vietnam.”

Islamic State fighters in Afghanistan “are using I.E.D.s, bunkers and tunnels to thicken their defense,” said Gen. John W. Nicholson Jr., the United States commander there, referring to improvised explosive devices. “This is the right munition to reduce these obstacles and maintain the momentum of our offensive.”

So here we have it. The mother of all non-nuclear bombs versus the home made IED.

In a pattern to be followed throughout the war the mother of all bombs continued to evoke anguished criticism.

“While the damage from the bombing, which occurred at night in a remote area, was unclear, the strike quickly brought backlash. Hamid Karzai, Afghanistan’s former president, was among those who condemned it.

‘This is not the war on terror but the inhuman and most brutal misuse of our country as testing ground for new and dangerous weapons,” Mr. Karzai wrote on Twitter. ‘It is upon us, Afghans, to stop the USA.'”

Blowback and the IED

The US has been in a two decade war because previous efforts to dominate the Middle East not only have failed, they have been counterproductive .

The Taliban, armed by the US under President Carter to drive the Soviets out of Afghanistan,

The Muslim fundamentalist fighters of Afghanistan against the Soviet Union were originally known as Mujahidin. Some later joined the new movement of the Taliban that incubated among Pushtun refugees in the seminaries of northern Pakistan. Backed initially with a small investment by the Carter administration, the Mujahidin came to receive as much as $5 billion in a year from the Reagan administration, with matching funds from Saudi Arabia. They developed the skills and the firepower to turn on their benefactors, whose presence as of 2001 in their holy land was deemed blasphemy. In Iraq itself, US imperialism also unleashed its own demonic response. Its often stated goal is to extirpate the terrorism and extremism to which it has contributed so mightily by bombing suspected ISIS sites in Iraq and Syria. Yet as Phyllis Bennis of the Institute For Policy Studies points out, you cannot bomb extremism. Bombing these selected targets inevitably kills civilians and becomes a tool to recruit further extremists. This pattern has continued throughout the 21st century wars of the U.S.

Though blowback has been written all over the rise of ISIS, less attention even in the Left press has been devoted to another factor in the United States’ long and agonizing retreat/defeat in this region. That is the role of the humble IED, improvised explosive device. Seldom is mention made of Pentagon efforts to defeat/prevent the use of these devices. University of Hawaii International Relations theorist Jairus Grove, author of Savage Ecology: War and Geopolitics at the End of the World, points out that the Pentagon spent 26 billion dollars over a six year period to achieve its goals only to see attacks increase from about 800 to over 15,000 between 2006 and 2012. IEDs accounted for two thirds of all soldiers wounded and killed in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

In dollar terms, the legacy of the IED is even more pronounced. The US has spend over $16,000 to defeat the IED for every dollar the insurgency has spent.

Distant cousins to the defensive land mines of the earlier world wars, these devices are far more. They have totally disrupted the major arteries on which the modern US army depends for its imperial adventure.

IEDs have received far less academic scrutiny than other weapons of war, such as nuclear armament and chemical weapons. Nuclear’s capacity to destroy civilization and the pall it cast over an entire era obviously justify the attention it receives, but in more subtle ways IEDs have reshaped not only Iraq and Afghanistan but war as well. There are at least three reasons for this paucity of scholarship. Traditional scholarship looks at the weapons of war as following a fairly predictable course. The most powerful and technologically advanced societies develop new weapons first, with their presence and demand for them then moving outward to lesser powers and wannabees. In addition, IEDs have no famous scientific parent and no path breaking scientific theory upon which their development rests. Finally, they are hard to define. They are not reducible to any one component or even to one particular whole. Citing another scholar, Grove points out that as with a coral reef, which can be composed of coral but could instead be composed of dead tires, no single totality defines it. Yet both teem with life and we can tell the difference between a reef and a parking lot.

J. Grove argues convincingly that the IED is revelatory of modern life. It is an event, one that never stands still. IEDs “are the weaponization of the throbbing refuse, commerce, surplus, violence, rage, instant communication, population density, and accelerating innovation of contemporary global life.”

The larger context in which this event has emerged is war itself. Grove observes, “War has always been an assemblage of things in which any particular human being played only a linkage or fulcrum of a larger, more heterogenous orders.” Artisans and tinkerers are not the only factor keeping the constant evolution of the IED alive. “It is the stubborn perdurance of high tech and manufactured waste dumping that provide the near limitless flow of materials from place to place. The protocols of production, waste disposal, and consumption habits– that are never entirely human—generate the exteriorization waste from the centers of cutting edge commerce to the periphery.” (700 million new computers will be manufactured this year, up from 183 million just five years ago. )

Ironically the US, with overweening confidence in its technological mastery of the social and nonhuman world, for years refused to sign a land mine treaty. But as the tables turned it then endorsed such treaties, but characteristically remained blind to the ability of the mine to evolved in unpredictable ways.

Galbraith was right. This entire saga exposes the consequence of elites’ consistent overstatement of their own power and ability to control nature. They repudiate ecological perspectives on the world. Ecology appreciates, in Groves’s words, “ creativity and participation at multiple levels of complexity and organization, species, populations, individual organisms, and assemblages of living and non-living things…To this end ecological relations are characterized by shifting stability, creativity, and variable involvement from top to bottom, cosmos to microorganism.”

An account that treats the IED as itself a complex evolving species deeply intertwined with social, economic, and nonhuman forces and agents exposes the arrogant faith in technology of the military planner and of much of contemporary economic thought. It is little wonder the IED has proven to be the most painful blowback from our most recent imperial venture."


Bonus Video added by Informed Comment:

From last year: Afghanistan: why the Taliban can’t be defeated | The Economist 


" About the Author

John Buell has a PhD in political science, taught for 10 years at College of the Atlantic, and was an Associate Editor of The Progressive for ten years. He lives in Southwest Harbor, Maine and writes on labor and environmental issues. His most recent book, published by Palgrave in August 2011, is "Politics, Religion, and Culture in an Anxious Age." He may be reached at"



To keep up with Afghanistan...and the world....

Everything here:

 Foreign Policy 



 IDA wrought havoc and death from Louisiana to the Northeast. This is the future, we might have a chance if we act and seriously deal with climate change. But we cannot do it all alone, the entire world will have to actively participate, which I think is unlikely. And, serious climate change policy would have to be mandated...can you imagine the fight which would take place on Capitol Hill over that? By the time any agreement would be made, we would all be long gone. An interesting interview last night on PBS  with Alice Hill:


 ~ From PBS:

 Ida's Aftermath Shows Need To Address Climate Change, Invest In Infrastructure 


So, it is not at all weird to be somewhat pessimistic despite the correctly impassioned feelings of the environmentalists and conservationists alike - sorry to say. BTW, don't miss Catherine Osborn  -  looks like Mexico and Brazil so far do not get even a passing grade on climate change. Go to the link and you can subscribe to her reports for free (but you can't copy & paste them, dang it).


 ~ From Foreign Policy:


There's No Wake-Up Moment on Climate in America 


 September 3, 2021, 2:55 PM

"Extreme weather events driven by climate change are the new, terrifying normal. In the United States alone, heat wave seasons are more than three times as long as they were during the 1960s, and the number of weather-related disasters causing more than a billion dollars in damages (adjusted for inflation) has soared. Once-rare crises have become quotidian. A freak winter storm took down Texas’s electrical grid. Drought contributed to one of California’s worst fire seasons. Hurricane Ida killed more people in the New York City metropolitan area than in Louisiana, where it made landfall. Floods supposed to happen once every hundred years are now expected to happen every 30.

In a rational world, this would mean that we are about to break the feverish opposition to dealing with the climate change emergency long predicted by scientists’ models. Surely now is the time for a come-to-Gaia moment when we put aside our differences and act.

But, as the current enthusiasm for expensive horse dewormer over free vaccines among part of the U.S. population shows, the United States is not a rational country. Nor is the world a rational place. Far from it. Facts alone are insufficient conditions for action.

Climate nihilism is probably unwarranted, but climate pessimism isn’t. The politics of the response to the COVID-19 disaster demonstrate that climate action in the United States and internationally will be extremely hard to achieve. The battle over policies like vaccine mandates has merely previewed the coming decades’ war over climate mandates.

Washington wonks love to describe complex problems as requiring a “whole-of-government” solution. By that, they mean that a problem is supposedly so wicked—in the technical sense, meaning intertangled and extremely difficult to solve—that no single official or agency, or even a small group of them, will be able to handle it alone.

When officials and think tankers throw such labels around, they mean to invoke something like a wartime spirit, summoning cohesion from chaos. When the World Health Organization optimistically called for a “whole of society ” approach to pandemic readiness in 2009, the organization similarly meant to both diagnose the scale of the problem and summon the solution into being: “a concerted and collaborative effort by different various government ministries, businesses and civil society to … mitigate impacts on the economy and the functioning of society.” This was the vision emblazoned in rankings that confidently stated the United States was the best-prepared country in the world for pandemic response.

Seamless collaboration makes for an appealing slogan but a poor theory of politics. Whole-of-government approaches rarely perform well due to the complexities of coordinating agencies with diverse procedures and conflicting interests. The real-world whole-of-society response to COVID-19 in the United States and many other countries (albeit not all of them) similarly ran aground.

Even though much of society even in countries like the United States complied with measures from masking to vaccination, many elements of society not only failed to cooperate but actively impeded cooperation. A whole-of-society approach premised on voluntary coordination, it turned out, was a partial solution at best.

This holds true not even in the United States, with its widely publicized resistance to such sensible tools of civilized society as vaccine mandates, but at a global scale as well. International initiatives aimed to guarantee equitable production and distribution of vaccines, but COVAX has failed to deliver on those promises. Rich countries (or those with access to manufacturing capabilities) have prioritized their own needs over those of the poorest countries. Some projections put the date by which the globe will be fully vaccinated at 2023. A great many Americans will receive their third booster shots before many Africans receive their first ones.

The scope of the climate challenge requires a whole-of-planet approach, meaning that the scope for misunderstanding, lack of coordination, and conflict will run all the way from the United Nations to local governments. That the scale of the stakes is even greater than that of the pandemic might seem to make collaboration easier. Yet there is no clear link between a challenge’s scale and willingness to cooperate—especially when the benefits and costs of policies fall unevenly, as they always will.

Wars for national survival may be able to overcome such complexities. Yet we have yet to identify a moral equivalent of war that can supply a clear, visible foe against which to organize.

Consider the challenges of mobilizing sustained climate action in the United States. Gallup polls show that Americans now favor protecting the environment over prioritizing economic growth by a margin of only 50 percent to 42 percent, one of the narrowest margins in nearly a decade. Just two years ago, 65 percent favored the environment over 30 percent favoring the economy. Volatile opinions do not make for sustained efforts.

That’s especially true given the gap between Democrats and Republicans on the issue in a Pew Research Center poll from this January. Whereas 59 percent of Democrats said dealing with global climate change should be a top priority for the president and Congress, only 14 percent of Republicans agreed. Pew also found that the overwhelming majority of Republicans did not favor the multilateral cooperation that will be necessary to address environmental concerns on a global scale. The same sorts of polarization that have hindered U.S. efforts to address the pandemic will hamstring the country’s ability to face climate change.

Some speculate that democracy’s apparent shortcomings in responding to climate imperatives may justify authoritarian measures. A jolly green strongman certainly beckons as a cheat code to the complexities of securing consent and endlessly refuting anti-scientific claptrap. Yet despite some real climate successes by the Chinese government, it’s not clear that authoritarian models offer a general solution. Restricting speech and freedom of information makes monitoring environmental conditions harder, and officials in such systems face their own bad short-term incentives.

In the United States, it’s easy—and frequently correct—to blame the Republican Party for many of the problems involved. Yet opposition to necessary climate policies extends beyond conservatives—and gets all the more tangled as you drill down into local issues. Even those who think globally don’t always act locally.

Reducing carbon emissions will require transforming energy generation in the United States and elsewhere by switching from coal and natural gas to sources like solar and wind power. Polls show that Americans favor these changes overwhelmingly, with nearly three-quarters favoring more emphasis on producing solar energy and two-thirds favoring more reliance on wind.

Yet both of those numbers have fallen since 2013 as U.S. solar and wind production has grown. More consequentially, communities where solar and wind projects will be sited often oppose such developments. In July, developers abandoned trying to turn a stretch of Nevada desert into what would have been the largest solar power array in the United States after opposition from a broad (and notably inter-ideological) coalition of residents, conservationists, bicyclists, and skydivers. As the project would have contributed up to one-tenth of Nevada’s electrical capacity, that single project’s failure threatens the state’s goal of achieving 50 percent reliance on renewable sources by 2030.

Green backlash threatens the politicians who need to enact climate-friendly policies where it counts the most: at the ballot box. Leah Stokes, a leading scholar of political science and energy policy, found in a 2016 article in the American Journal of Political Science that Ontario voters living near new wind energy infrastructure punished the Liberal provincial government, with vote share for the Liberals decreasing among affected communities by between 4 and 10 percent.

The benefits of energy transitions are global, Stokes emphasizes, but the costs are local. It’s easy to mock all-terrain vehicle riders in Nevada for not wanting their recreational spaces turned into a green power plant. It’s easier to be sympathetic with Ontario residents who reaped some benefits of decarbonization but faced immense costs in the form of a new wind turbine in their backyard.

Similar dilemmas will play out in many policy areas. Making cities denser could substantially improve climate outcomes. Actually doing so will require American politicians to change zoning laws that make dense housing difficult or even illegal to build—a measure deeply unpopular with many homeowners, and especially the deeply unrepresentative set of citizens who show up to public hearings about new development.

In principle, solutions to these problems exist. Politicians could sweeten the climate deal to make costs easier to bear. Stokes and co-authors found evidence in a 2020 article in Environmental Research Letters that Americans might support putting climate policies in packages with other policies, such as minimum wage increases, job guarantees, and affordable housing. Similarly, federal or state governments could preempt local governments and simply require policies enabling new housing (or just build housing themselves).

In practice, these face the same challenges as any whole-of-whatever approach: The incentives facing actors in the short run don’t align well with what’s needed for a fix in the long run. It’s hard to avoid noticing that the sugarcoating of policies that make climate adjustment easier to swallow looks a lot like a Democratic wish list—and, for that reason, would be a poison pill for Republicans. Hopes for vigorous international coordination of climate action ultimately resolve to a need for the United States to play a leading role in cooperation with China, Europe, and other powers—which would be hard to pull off under a second Trump (or first Ron DeSantis) administration, and even hard in a Biden administration with the narrowest of congressional majorities.

Even if those burdens could be overcome, there’d still be the problems of making good on international U.S. pledges by investing in clean energy, new housing starts, and other forms of infrastructure and social programs. The experience of COVID-19 shows that this may be extraordinarily difficult. Many U.S. states and localities won’t even mandate vaccines—a simple solution for a well-defined problem. It’s hard to see how the much heavier lift of uprooting neighborhoods, curbing energy budgets, and sharing other costs will be borne by politicians responsive to an electorate more interested in the short term and immediate costs than in complex, long-term solutions.

The pandemic showed that no amount of getting mugged—or infected—by reality could make U.S. politics work better. Science didn’t win out, and political conflict—between parties and levels of government—hindered efforts to fight the problem, with implications that reached far beyond U.S. borders. Compared with the uncertainties and generational time scales for climate policies, the pandemic was easy mode—one that even came with the kind of technological quick fix (in the form of a vaccine) that’s unlikely to fix the climate.

With little appetite among some key U.S. legislators for even the first steps needed to address environmental issues, what seems likelier is a form of muddling through climate mitigation: occasionally addressing some long-term problems but mostly reacting to the mounting short-term costs of climate inaction. Even the shock of an apocalypse isn’t the one weird trick needed to force action on catastrophic issues."

Paul Musgrave is an assistant professor of political science at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.



Meanwhile, and almost as an afterthought after the extreme events in the world...and truthfully, because nothing really changes here, it is the same old story:

 ~ From Zeta: 


 Cierra Agosto Con 157 Asesinatos En Tijuana


 Destacados  -    - miércoles, 1 septiembre, 2021 12:47 PM

 "Three men deprived of life and one injured was the balance of various armed attacks recorded during August 31, in Tijuana. With these events, the month that has just concluded closes with 157 intentional homicides and 1,380 so far in 2021.

According to police reports, they indicate that around 11:40 a.m., in the Motozone motorcycle workshop, located on Bernardo O'Higgins and Durazno streets in the Moreno neighborhood, an employee was killed by a firearm. The deceased, unidentified, has a dark complexion and a thin complexion; He wore blue jeans, a black shirt, and black boot-type shoes. Five casings were struck at the crime scene.

Then halfway up the sidewalk on Education Street in the Camino Verde neighborhood, the body of a 26-year-old man identified as Miguel Ángel Rossete Valdivia was lying, with various gunshot wounds. According to witnesses, after 6:00 p.m., detonations by firearms against a person who was in the aforementioned street were reported to the emergency number. According to the information provided, three men, aboard a white Nissan Sentra sedan, were allegedly responsible for the attack. 30 meters from where the body was found, six ballistic evidence was located.

Finally, inside a “machine shop” located on Pacífico Street in the Playas de Tijuana subdivision, there was a shooting that left one person dead and another injured. The unidentified deceased, approximately 50 years old, wore gray shorts, a white shirt, and had injuries to the head and left shoulder. While the injured, identified as Miguel Ángel Salgado Sánchez, 39, was injured in both legs.

In none of the cases are detained persons reported."



Take Care Y'all