The Long View 2007-05-11: Merry Warming; Grasshoppers; Opinion Monkeys; The Defense of Socialism Continues; The Purpose of GWB

Iron Dome  By Israel Defense Forces and Nehemiya Gershoni נחמיה גרשוני (see also https://he.wikipedia.org/wiki/%D7%A7%D7%95%D7%91%D7%A5:Flickr-IDF-IronDome-in-action001.jpg ) - https://www.flickr.com/photos/idfonline/8194572552/, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=34360609

Iron Dome

By Israel Defense Forces and Nehemiya Gershoni נחמיה גרשוני (see also https://he.wikipedia.org/wiki/%D7%A7%D7%95%D7%91%D7%A5:Flickr-IDF-IronDome-in-action001.jpg ) - https://www.flickr.com/photos/idfonline/8194572552/, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=34360609

Here is a prediction that definitely did not happen:

The shift from deterrence to defense has gone too far to stop, I think, though the Left seems determined to make the transition as slow as possible. The awkward bit, still a decade in the future, will be the negotiation with the Russian Federation for the mutual disestablishment of the Cold War era deterrent forces. Again, we must remember that the passing of the age of Mutual Assured Destruction does not mean the inauguration of world peace; it means making the world safe for planet-wide conventional war.

Ballistic missile defense remains unproven, but the Israeli Iron Dome system works astonishingly well, which can’t be irrelevant to whether you could get similar results. For the most part, the nuclear weapons of the United States and the former Soviet Union are slowly gathering dust. There are other nuclear nations, but the vast majority of the ballistic missiles still belong to those two. Hardly anyone seems interested in the subject anymore. Maybe it is the last part of the prediction that is why: a lack of nuclear annihilation probably increases the odds of war.


Merry Warming; Grasshoppers; Opinion Monkeys; The Defense of Socialism Continues; The Purpose of GWB

What stands behind this curious mutation? Der Spiegel has come out in favor of global warming:

Despite widespread fears of a greenhouse hell, the latest computer simulations are delivering far less dramatic predictions about tomorrow's climate...

Svante Arrhenius, the father of the greenhouse effect, would be called a heretic today. Far from issuing the sort of dire predictions about climate change which are common nowadays, the Swedish physicist dared to predict a paradise on earth for humans when he announced, in April 1896, that temperatures were rising -- and that it would be a blessing for all...

It was not until the rise of the environmental movement in the 1980s that everything suddenly changed. From then on it was almost a foregone conclusion that global warming could only be perceived as a disaster for the earth's climate. Environmentalists, adopting a strategy typical of the Catholic Church, have been warning us about the horrors of greenhouse gas hell ever since -- painting it as a punishment for the sin of meddling with creation.

Actually, the Catholic Church has traditionally been sparing of apocalyptic warnings of all sorts, but Der Spiegel's religious prejudices are another issue. The question now is what caused this change in tone about global warming. Did someone show the editors on a map how far north Germany is?

* * *

Speaking of the Bible and global warming, Drudge had this link today:

GLOBAL SWARMING: In a warmer world, insect population explosion may be 'Biblical in nature'...

The link was to the Bend Weekly of Oregon, but alas, the link did not work. No doubt the site had been taken down to avoid public panic. So, we must speculate ourselves about what the Bible says about insects that might be relevant to a warmer global climates.

entomology is not a major theme of Scripture, but there is no lack of references to insects. My favorite, which I have noted in another context and is really about summertime, remains this one:

Ecclesiastes 12:5

[W]hen men are afraid of heights
and of dangers in the streets;
when the almond tree blossoms
and the grasshopper drags himself along
and desire no longer is stirred.
Then man goes to his eternal home
and mourners go about the streets.

If substantial global warming materializes, we must imagine a world of Panama suits and slowly turning overhead fans: Key Largo, but in color.

* * *

Do Monkeys edit Opinion Journal? Look at this excerpt from a piece by Michel Gurfinkel, Can Sarkozy Save France?

Demographic Upheaval. Before the 1789 revolution and the Napoleonic wars, France, a very rich agricultural country, was the most populous state in Europe, with 27 million inhabitants. Right after the defeat at Waterloo, the birthrate started to decline, and by the last third of the 19th century had fallen close to zero. ...

Maybe the rate of population growth had fallen to near zero by the last third of the 19th century, but the growth rate is different from the the birthrate (which is also different from the fertility rate). In any case, I am pretty sure that the demographic transition in France began before Waterloo; indeed, before the Revolution.

The rest of the piece seems to have merit, but bloopers like these deprive the whole of credibility.

* * *

All phases of missile defense technology have now proven sufficiently effective (indeed, in the case of point and area defense, far beyond expectations) that one rarely hears the claim anymore that strategic defense is impossible. Nonetheless, the old defense-of-socialism reflexes that tried to nip these projects in the bud when the Soviet Union still existed are not yet wholly dead, or so we must surmise from this move on Capitol Hill:

Now the Democratic majority in Congress is moving toward budget cuts aimed at slowing the administration’s plans to break ground this year on one of the bases, in Poland. Representative Ellen O. Tauscher, a California Democrat who is a member of the House Armed Services Committee, said the committee would approve “only prudent investments” in what she labeled "high-risk, immature programs" to shoot down long-range missiles, like the system advocated for Europe.

High risk to whom? The Iranians? The only consolation to this budgetary vandalism is that Congress seems to lack the courage of its own confusion:

The bill, still under consideration late Wednesday, would cut $160 million from funds proposed for construction in Poland, as part of $764 million in cuts from the $8.9 billion the administration has sought for the Pentagon’s Missile Defense Agency in 2008.

A cut of $160 million would prevent breaking ground on the interceptor silos in Poland, while leaving funds to move forward with buying the 10 interceptor missiles and installing the radar for the Czech Republic, Congressional officials say.

The shift from deterrence to defense has gone too far to stop, I think, though the Left seems determined to make the transition as slow as possible. The awkward bit, still a decade in the future, will be the negotiation with the Russian Federation for the mutual disestablishment of the Cold War era deterrent forces. Again, we must remember that the passing of the age of Mutual Assured Destruction does not mean the inauguration of world peace; it means making the world safe for planet-wide conventional war.

* * *

Meanwhile, on Iraq, Congress continues to make a nuisance of itself:

The House last night pushed through its second plan to fund the Iraq war and reshape war policy, approving legislation that would provide partial funding for the conflict but hold back most of the money until President Bush reports on the war's progress in July.

George Bush's stock has fallen low enough that it is probably time to buy. We should recall that he was reelected in 2004 because the electorate perceived he was not Lyndon Johnson, whose visible loss of nerve in 1967 and 1968 ensured that the Vietnam War could not be brought to a Korean-style draw.

Since the bombing of the Golden Dome last year, Iraq has rarely rewarded optimism. Nonetheless, there is a good chance that if Congress in July reassesses spending for the war, the Democrats will be confronted with a modestly but visibly improved situation on the ground and a commander who advises them that American troops will be needed for at least another year as an emollient to local politics.

It's possible that Congress will then just drink the Cool Aid and proceed with defunding the war in various petty ways. It seems more likely to me, though, that they will try to ensure that absolutely all the credit goes to General Petraeus, while promising to really, really end the war under a Democratic administration in 2009.

Copyright © 2007 by John J. Reilly

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