February 08, 2010

CSM: Zhari fight just beginning

Four years after Canadians first deployed to Zhari district, here is one writer's synopsis of all that we achieved:

"In many places, as in Zhari, the battle is just beginning."

Interesting that current American forces are currently held up 4 miles (7 km) east of "Mullah Omar's mosque", aka the village of Sangisar. In 2007 there was an ANA patrol base in Sangisar, which shows how much of a fighting retrograde our time there really was. Seven km east of Sangisar would mean the Americans of the 1-12 Infantry are still basically confined to the area within weapons range of the Bazaar-e-Panjwaii-Zhari district centre road, Zhari's primary north-south route (I won't use its NATO name here, but it started with an "S" and ended with a "t"), built by Canadians and the area where we were largely limited to in 2008-09 and where a couple big battles to get the initial lodging were first fought back in 2006.

As for the insurgent leaders mentioned, Kaka Abdul Khaliq and Jabar Agha, yeah, I know those names, too. You gotta give 'em credit for keeping alive this long with all the effort put into hunting them over the years. Slim customers, those two.

Posted by BruceR at 04:10 PM


Jonathan Kay has trouble connecting dots, apparently. Quote 1:

"The smug left-wing take on the Tea Party movement is that its members are nothing but shell-shocked racists....I saw no evidence of that sort of bigotry in Nashville."

Quote 2, same story:

"As the weekend progressed, it became clear that a speaker could hurl literally any slur he wanted against Mr. Obama, and people would scream enthusiastically and smack their hands together."

About says it all, really.

Posted by BruceR at 07:32 AM

On that global warming thing

I'm not normally a big fan of Bjorn Lomborg, but he's talking a lot of sense here:

"Carbon taxes could play an important supplementary role in funding research and development, but they are not the primary fix. Indeed, putting a high price on carbon first, then hoping that alternative technology will catch up, is not a sound policy. Until the technology is ready to compete on its merits, carbon taxes will simply bleed the economy, while providing no real benefit to the climate."

I don't place much stock in the various attempts out there, including those Lomborg has been associated with, to discredit the science. Scientists are human, and work in an milieu that always has in itself aspects of competition, exclusivity, and reticence, and generally always looks unimpressive under the kind of hyper-close examination climate science is under right now. Strangely, though, they still seem to come up with iteratively closer and closer approximations to reality in their theories, and I have little doubt that's the case here. Eventually the self-correcting tendencies will kick in on this issue, as well.

It's the politicians and particularly the people trying to make a buck for their country or themselves out of the various forms of wealth transfer to polluters to get them to stop polluting that I remain extremely skeptical about. Mark Schapiro's piece in the current Harper's on what's really happening with carbon credits lays out some of the problems with that idea already clearly in evidence. There seems no likely way you could ever pay people on a global scale not to pollute efficiently and equitably, and it really seems folly to continue to try.

That leaves taxes, and while obviously skepticism is warranted there too, I would have to agree with Lomborg that some role for carbon taxation, although moderate at first, now seems warranted. Revenue-neutral changes in manufacturers or commercial property taxes to be more reflective of carbon waste on company and land owners would seem only prudent at this stage: particularly if some additional funding for energy R&D could be derived. Conversion of some level of our sales taxes, and eventually home property taxation, to encourage less carbon use could also be worth investing time into right now.

Future international agreements, rather than focussing on large-scale transfers of wealth between hemispheres, unattainable targets, and cap-and-trade boondoggles, might gain more benefit faster from revitalizing international institutions that could help, such as the IAEA, or defining limitations that could be imposed on the otherwise noble goal of international free trade on those states that refuse to impose some level of carbon-based taxation on their own industries, and ultimately people as well.

Posted by BruceR at 07:09 AM