War Requires Thinking Through All Scenarios

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Gadaffi-stamp.jpgWhether it was by design or because of Senator Richard Lugar’s broadside that the White House could not just roll into any conflict it wanted to without support of Congress, President Obama has kept American exposure in the growing conflict in Libya fairly minimal.
This is a good thing. The French are in the air and have begun to strike Libyan military assets. The British have imposed a naval blockade. The UAE and Qatar are allegedly part of the plan — but we haven’t seen action by them yet, and that is essential. It would be good to have Egyptian and Saudi forces in as well so that the other GCC support looked less fig leaf-ish.
While many think in best case scenarios, when the militaries of nations collide, worst case scenarios — and really the consideration of all scenarios — is the only responsible approach.

Center for American Progress
Senior Fellow Brian Katulis has shared some of my concerns about downside scenarios of significant US military intervention in the Libya Civil War, but he has raised another really interesting possibility in this Financial Times clip today:

“There was this premature triumphalism about the passage of the UN resolution but what is the plan for dealing with this entity called Libya?” says Brian Katulis at the Center for American Progress, a Washington-based think-tank. “You could have this very awkward phase emerging where Gaddafi is entrenched while there’s a rump state in eastern Libya and some but not all states in the Arab world work to isolate the regime.”

In other words, the UN resolution was not a “regime change” resolution — and there is a scenario in which a standstill is achieved, where Gaddafi’s regime halts its offensive military moves, and then begins to get back to business with Turkey, Brazil, India, Russia, China, and other regimes who think that the UN Resolution box has been checked off.
Interesting and very credible scenario.
— Steve Clemons

Comments

49 comments on “War Requires Thinking Through All Scenarios

  1. questions says:

    Kyodo News update from the 22nd (it’s something like 2 in the morning Japan time):
    “Work to restore power and key cooling functions to the troubled reactors at the quake-hit Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant was marred Monday by smoke that rose from the buildings housing the No. 2 and No. 3 reactors, the plant operator said.
    Tokyo Electric Power Co. and the government’s nuclear safety agency said operations to revive power systems and spray massive coolant water onto overheating spent nuclear fuel pools will likely resume Tuesday after the utility observes the situation at the site.
    TEPCO said it had briefly evacuated its workers after grayish and blackish smoke was seen at the southeast of the No. 3 reactor building around 3:55 p.m. above a pool storing spent nuclear fuel, though a blast was not heard.
    The smoke stopped after 6 p.m., but TEPCO subsequently found that white smoke was rising through a crack in the roof of the building that houses the No. 2 reactor at around 6:20 p.m. The utility said later the smoke was believed to be steam, not from the reactor’s core or spent fuel pool.
    Firefighters and the Self-Defense Forces will prepare for the resumption of water-dousing operations Tuesday morning, the agency said. Three trucks with a concrete squeeze pump and a 50-meter arm provided by private firms will join the mission to pour water from a higher point.
    The Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said no injuries were confirmed in the incidents. Radiation levels at the plant briefly increased after white smoke was detected from the No. 2 reactor, but later fell.
    Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano told a press conference that ”no problems had arisen” with regard to the reactors and radiation levels after the smoke was detected.
    Hidehiko Nishiyama, a spokesman for the nuclear safety agency, said the causes of the smoke billowing from the No. 2 and No. 3 reactor buildings remain unknown and that the originally scheduled work to revive power and cooling systems at the troubled reactors will be delayed by one day.
    As the No. 3 reactor remains without power, smoke was not apparently triggered by an electricity leak or short-circuiting, Nishiyama said.
    Following a magnitude 9.0 quake and ensuing tsunami on March 11, the cooling functions failed at the No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3 reactors and their cores are believed to have partially melted.
    At present, coolant water is being pumped into the three reactors and the pools for spent nuclear fuel rods at the No. 2, No. 3 and No. 4 units. The roofs and upper walls of the buildings that house the No. 1, No. 3 and No. 4 reactors have been blown away by hydrogen explosions.
    Before the smoke was detected, external power had reached the power-receiving facilities of the No. 2 and No. 5 reactors on Sunday, clearing the way for the plant operator to restore systems to monitor radiation levels and other data, light the control rooms and cool down the reactors and their spent-fuel storage pools.
    On Monday, TEPCO finished laying cables to transmit electricity to the No. 4 reactor, as a step toward resuscitating the power systems at the No. 3 and No. 4 reactors, according to the utility and the nuclear agency.
    The plant operator was also trying to restore a ventilation system to filter radioactive substances from the air and some measuring equipment at the control room of the No. 2 reactor, but this mission remained uncompleted due to the temporary evacuation.
    The restoration of some functions at the control room would help improve working conditions, according to the nuclear agency.
    It may take more time before the vital cooling system is restored at the No. 2 reactor, the containment vessel of which suffered damage to its pressure-suppression chamber, as some replacement parts are needed for the electrical system, the agency added.
    In Vienna on Monday, International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Yukiya Amano told a special meeting of its board of governors that the situation at the Fukushima plant ”remains serious, but we are starting to see some positive developments.”
    Amano, who made an emergency trip to Japan last week, said the IAEA will ”continue to do everything in its power to help Japan to overcome” the crisis at the power station on the Pacific coast of Fukushima Prefecture, around 220 kilometers northeast of Tokyo.
    To facilitate the water-spraying operations at the plant, the government is also preparing SDF tanks to remove rubble emitting high-level radiation from around the reactors.
    Japan’s nuclear agency, meanwhile, said one of seven workers who were injured following a March 14 hydrogen explosion at the No. 3 reactor was found to have been exposed to radiation amounting to over 150 millisievert per hour.
    The level is lower than the maximum limit of 250 millisievert per hour set by the health ministry for workers tackling the emergency at the Fukushima plant.
    TEPCO and the nuclear agency said the height of a tsunami that submerged key functions at the Fukushima plant is believed to have reached 14 meters, much higher than the 5.7 meters that the utility had factored in before the disaster struck the power station.”
    http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2011/03/80015.html

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  2. questions says:

    Brave New Climate seems positively cheerful today.
    The white smoke from #3 (?) was likely water vapor. The temps seem to be down in all the reactors. There are links to reports that suggest that the worst may well be over.
    Who knows. This seems to change day by day, headline by headline.
    And if the “worst” is over, as in, “You survived the surgery”, the next stage could be pretty bad still, as in, “Well, now you’re merely chronic and you have to take 300 pills a day and puke constantly, but you’re alive.”
    So the acute phase could be over, and the chronic phase could be horrific.
    The decisions around the design of this plant are still not going to be validated just cuz the worst is over. IF the worst is over.
    *****
    You know that line that if you spill a teaspoon of water somewhere, eventually it ends up in the ocean? It’s one of those cool water cycle factoids that get kids interested in science…. Well, if you pump gazillions of gallons of water into a radioactive space right next to the ocean, eventually that water ends up, well, in the ocean…..
    Will dispersion take care of it? Will sushi glow in the dark?
    ********
    This is from a nuclear industry consultant, so several grains of iodized salt are required….
    http://djysrv.blogspot.com/2011/03/fukushima-nuclear-crisis-unwrapped.html
    h/t Bravenewclimate
    *****
    And finally, NYT:
    “TOKYO

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  3. questions says:

    h/t naked capitalism, the Telegraph reports on hunger in Japan —
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/japan/8392549/Japan-crisis-Theres-no-food-tell-people-there-is-no-food.html
    Supplies are not getting in, even far from the nuclear disaster which looks worse this morning by the way……
    *********
    The kos rov system works well for getting recent info. Go to kos, find the “mothership” diary for the Japan nuclear crisis. In that diary will be a link to the most recent “rov” that will have up to date reader comments. The mothership has huge numbers of links to resources as well.
    Here’s the mothership diary of the moment — they change over time….
    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2011/03/20/958491/-mothership-#7:-japan-nuclear-disaster
    ****
    And sorry for whatever number of posts…. It seems like a good idea to use links sometimes and sometimes not. Links are a problem in this comment section, as we all know.

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  4. rc says:

    Nice try Norway (PN, Mar 20 2011, 5:45AM), and you

    Reply

  5. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Note the date on this article. Could it be that the contaminated foods being found 83 miles south of the Fukushima facility are in fact being contaminated from a completely different structurally compromised facility??
    http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2011/03/77481.html
    URGENT: Cooling system pump stops at Tokai nuclear power plant: fire dep’t
    TOKYO, March 14, Kyodo
    The Fire and Disaster Management Agency said a cooling system pump stopped operating at Tokai No. 2 Power Station, a nuclear power plant, in the village of Tokai, Ibaraki Prefecture.
    ==Kyodo

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  6. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Well, according to Rivero, radiation levels have gone from “639” to “2040” in the town of Ibaraki in just the last twelve hours. I quote…..
    “Radiation surging in Ibaraki, Japan, indicating major new leak from Fukushima!”
    I am, for whatever reason, unable to bring up the link he provides…..
    http://www.targetmap.com/viewer.aspx?reportId=4870
    …..so I really don’t know what he is basing his assertion on. I guess Ibaraki is one of the areas where the food is registering unsafe levels of contamination.
    Even with a short half life, one must assume that genetic damage does not require long term exposure. Its my understanding that cell damage is almost immediate with high levels of exposure. So even if you are exposed to contamination particles with a short half life, the ramifications can indeed be dire.

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  7. questions says:

    MIT NSE does a really good job of explaining and defining and demystifying nuclear reactions among other things.
    http://mitnse.com/2011/03/20/fission-products-and-radiation/
    There’s a chart of half lives of fission products.
    Iodine-131 is what they are finding on crops. The half life is 8 days. This shall pass as a hazard.
    Cesium-137 has a 30 year half-life.
    There are other products listed.
    They write,
    “Note that longer half-lives do not necessarily mean more danger. Some fission products have extremely long half-lives but emit very little radiation at any given time, so they are not dangerous. Other fission products emit huge amounts of radiation but exist for such a short period of time that they are not dangerous. How harmful a given fission product is to humans is a complicated function of half-life, radiation intensity, and various human biology factors.”

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  8. questions says:

    I guess I like to think it a little differently.
    Corruption is for real, as is self-dealing. There isn’t anyone who denies it, not even the philosophers I refer to endlessly. Kant says, “The dear self ever arises” — even when we should be better. Plato’s whole fantasy city collapses because of human desire. He finds the corruption in our souls, in our dreams, in our desires, in our love of money and power, in our refusal to think that what we do might fuck up someone else’s life or our own soul.
    So, yeah, they figured this out a long time ago. (Plato dates around 390 BC, and Kant is from the 1700s in Germany.)
    But I think that there are things the government can do in terms of coordinating us, and I think sometimes the information is better than it is other times. We are in a period of massive corporate control that has really gone as unchallenged as, say Mubarak had until recently. Until we challenge some of these power structures that appear before us, until we really have countervailing forces against everything, we’re sunk.
    So, I’m half in agreement with you, and half not. The half that’s not is hoping that when the NRC does its audits of nuclear power plants, both the auditors and the plant owners agree that the audits have to be done with integrity, that safety improvements are done with, ahem, safety, ahem, in mind. I hope that the corporate money grubbing side of utilities and the regulatory capture side of regulation and the politician side of politicians is outweighed by humane decency.
    What a thing to have to hope for, instead of just being certain it will happen this way.
    (Note by the way that US boiling water reactors have many additions and extra safety features that the Japan units don’t have. Note, though, that we have in common with Japan all the corruption, self-dealing, profit-seeking bad behavior, along with the standard amount of forgetful engineers, odd confluences of events, and just plain bad luck.)
    *****
    And by the way, on the NYT paywall, Brad Delong quotes someone else — just delete your cookies after your 20 visits and you’re good to go again, unless the Times gets sneakier and uses super duper cookies with long memories….
    No one seems to like this set up.

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  9. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Well, it boils down to personal responsibility for one’s own welfare, doesn’t it??? The idiocy of believing anything these pricks tell us is astounding, whether it be their motives for bombing Libya, or the degree of danger we face from the nuclear fallout headed in our direction.
    Your points about the unmanageable aspects of a few million panicked human beings can just as easily be a rationale for our own government’s downplay of the degree of radioactivity we will soon be exposed to. Its unfortunate. I’d like to trust the EPA and the various involved agencies, but, the truth is, they have betrayed our trust far too many times to be deemed credible or trustworthy. The only common sense conclusion to be drawn is that we are on our own, and assessing the risks and dangers falls upon the shoulders of us as individuals. Its uncomfortable and scary, because our own ignorance of the science involved, and the actual level of exposure, inhibits our ability to make knowledge based decisions, and act on those decisions. The majority of us are at the mercy of our own government’s self serving CYA method of doing business, and are truly in the dark as to whether or not we are being, or will be, irradiated at dangerous levels.
    We do have enough knowledge, just by simple observation of events, (and our ability to cull out the more ridiculous claims, such as the slut Senator Alexander’s assertion that the safeguards at Fukushima worked), to draw conclusions about keeping plants such as San Onofre and Diablo online. But even when armed with such knowledge, we are powerless to mitigate the risk, except by moving away. Common sense and the obvious has nothing to do with the decision making process of these sluts in DC and their corporate johns. The only sure thing is, the FACT, (should a disaster occur), is that they, will lie, squirm, and scapegoat to escape accountability, and the effort will be successful, because they have shown themselves to be above the law and accountable to no one. Meanwhile, they could care less that your little Jimmy has thyroid cancer, or worse.
    “Decommission”.
    Yeah, you gotta love it. A shame we can’t “decommission” a few of these untrustworthy sluts in DC. Or, at least run off to Rio, and hide from it all.

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  10. questions says:

    I think the “decommission” thing happened the moment they sprayed seawater in, or even before that, the moment the earthquake and tsunami hit and rendered the place inhabitable for however long. So using this language is a kind of bureaucratic closure on something that happened beforehand.
    The half-life of the isotope of cesium that’s floating around is 30 years. It’ll take some time before it’s down to homeopathic levels I think.
    There’s food contamination all over the place and Japan has banned the sale of the crops in a decent sized swath of the region. All to the good. The undermining of market trust, the bioaccumulation of radioactive material, the effects on children and other living things all suggest this is a good idea, even if the levels are below what is considered safe.
    For now, I’m focused on this recriticality issue — if it turns out to be true, this is an open air nuclear reactor happening. I am really hoping that it stays in the nightmare fantasy realm.
    As for the TPM piece, I think it’s interesting to think through how a government CAN respond to disaster.
    The greater Tokyo area, or maybe just Tokyo itself, is some 35 million people.
    How do you move 35 million people safely, without causing deaths from the move? What happens if you panic them? Panicked masses are very very risky things. Refugee lines, decisions on what to do with elderly or infirm relatives, fuel shortages, panic, heart attacks, traffic jams/gridlock…..
    Indeed, the government cannot allow panic to ensue.
    And it really does seem that there was much unknown from the beginning. So even if there’s room for skepticism regarding corrupt officials and TEPCO (I’m sure there are, ahem, issues, there), there still was very limited knowledge, a lot a lot of inaccuracies, a lot of rumors flying.
    There are several levels of thinking that have to happen here. One is the government’s concern over panic reactions, another is the people’s legitimate concerns over health issues. And all of this really does have to be contextualized with the earthquake/tsunami death and internal refugee issues.
    No one can manage all of this and 35 million panicked people fleeing Tokyo.
    Just think urban rush hour when 1 car stalls in a middle lane.

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  11. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Questions….
    I already read that bit of fluff, and couldn’t disagree more. I think time will bear out the assertion that American media has underplayed the severity of this event, and that the Japanese media has been little more than a propaganda arm of the government as well.
    Of comical note, it is now being stated that the TEPCO is going to “decommission” this nuclear facility at Fukushima. Such an assertion is designed to underplay the severity of this event, to imply that the “decommission” of this site is a matter of choice, rather than a matter of neccesity. As if workers could simply cool down these reactors, waltz in, make repairs, and fire these puppies back up. But the FACTS are that it will be decades before portions of this site can safely be examined up close by human beings, and consequently this facility will be a no man’s land for years to come. Saying that they are “decommissioning” this site is such a disingenuous and laughable assertion that one is struck by the sheer moxie of the assertion, and the obvious disdain the Japanese government and nuclear industry has for its own people.
    One hopes against hope that these fuckers here, stateside, who feel licensed to risk the lives of millions, do not “decommission” San Onofre and Diablo in the same manner. But judging from the rosy picture that the Washington sluts and their nuclear industry Johns are painting, if these two plants are ever “decommissioned”, it will indeed be EXACTLY in the same manner as Fukushima, because these scumbags obviously intend to keep these two facilities online , no matter what the obvious and widely recognized dangers are.
    And on the other bit of prattle that is ongoing on this thread, why don’t we just let Steve moderate in the manner he sees fit, and refrain from trying to impose our own criterias?
    Paul…..
    “And especially ONE certain commenter has been annoyed more than the rest of us together, a commenter going under the aggressive moniker PissedOffAmerican, who has vented his irritation frequently and loudly and in personal terms during all these years, regarding length of comments, intellectualism, academism, or content
    (intended to “distract” or “obfuscate” from the real issue”), Israeli hashbara, fake identities, Mossad, turning on the fog machine, you name it…Questions being identical with WigWag and Sweetness included, and on and on….”
    I apologized to my fellow commentors, (which includes you), for my part in this, not just once, but on a number of occassions during the period of forced moderation. I note that I saw no one else, including yourself, take the same path. Accept the apology, and move on. Or not. I couldn’t care less.
    Really, its no skin off my ass. I will do as I am currently doing, and conduct myself to Steve’s criteria, not yours. He hasn’t been shy in the past about spanking me directly through email, and I have every confidence that should he feel the need, he’ll do so again, or simply block my comments, as he has obviously done to a couple of the other antagonists here. I note they too did not have the backbone to own up to their part in the recent flap, and attempt to atone themselves with any sincerity.
    Yes, I realize that my apology was a bit too little, a bit too late. But back off, because it was heartfelt, and offered with sincerity.
    If you want to prattle on, with others, about how you would prefer Steve moderate this blog, then full speed ahead. I will just “self regulate” myself in the same manner I do with ALL the comments that I’m not interested in.

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  12. questions says:

    This is simply worth the read….
    A TPM reader, media scholar, in Japan at the time, critiques media coverage — trashes, really:
    http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/2011/03/taking_stock_3.php#more?ref=fpblg

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  13. questions says:

    Proof that the number 4 hasn’t quite been excised from the language:
    “- Reactor No. 4 (Under maintenance when quake struck)
    Renewed nuclear chain reaction feared at spent-fuel storage pool, fire at building housing containment of reactor Tuesday and Wednesday, only frame remains of reactor building roof, temperature in the pool reached 84 C on March 14, water sprayed at pool on Sunday.”
    Now note that this is “feared” not “known.”
    Recriticality is highly unlikely, as I’ve been informed. If the fuel isn’t in the correct range of geometric formations, the chain reaction cannot be sustained. Chain reactions come from neutrons smacking into other neutrons and splitting atoms in an orderly manner at the right rate. The reactions are moderated, or interfered with, to get just the right speed, and everything has to be placed just right so that the probability of smacking into the next neutron is high enough and not too high. (Or something… It really has been a long time since I’ve been through this material.)
    So who knows what is going on. I would guess that all the boron in the world will end up piled on the number 4 spent fuel pool. And I would guess that every spent fuel pool in the world needs to be rethought so that no melted puddle of nuclear waste at the bottom of the pool can even begin to THINK about taking on a sustainable configuration. Not sure why that wouldn’t be standard operating procedure anyway, unless it simply can’t be done. What do I know…..
    And the link is:
    http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2011/03/79849.html
    Kyodo News, midnight between the 20th and 21st in Japan, list of all 6 reactors and current conditions. #4 would seem to be the worst case scenario.
    I am hopeful that “feared” stays at the level of fear, and does not become real.
    Yikes.
    File this under “it seems important enough to post even if it interrupts the meta conversation about the worth of various topics that get considered”.

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  14. questions says:

    It’s all related….
    If we cannot state with certainty something as utterly simple as what a good teacher is,
    If we cannot state with certainty what safety requirements we need for nuclear power,
    If we cannot figure out what to do about evaluating our energy economy,
    If we cannot figure out how to evaluate, ahem, “just” and “unjust” wars,
    If we don’t know when to send in the planes, trains and automobiles, the missiles and bombs,
    What ever are we going to do?
    Policy is at a loss when it cannot justify its goals and then justify its means.
    We cannot make these justifications if we don’t know what we’re doing.
    And believe me, if we can’t get k-8 education down, the rest, which is far more complex, is going to be a disaster as well.
    Things are related. Thought processes are the same even if the content or topic varies. Analysis can transfer across domains, change content, and still be analysis.
    File this under “notes to myself” by “questions”.

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  15. Paul Norheim says:

    POA,
    everyone here gets somewhat annoyed once in a while – about opinions, length of posts, topics raised and topics
    unmentioned or avoided, etc, and that’s natural.
    And especially ONE certain commenter has been annoyed more than the rest of us together, a commenter going
    under the aggressive moniker PissedOffAmerican, who has vented his irritation frequently and loudly and in
    personal terms during all these years, regarding length of comments, intellectualism, academism, or content
    (intended to “distract” or “obfuscate” from the real issue”), Israeli hashbara, fake identities, Mossad, turning on
    the fog machine, you name it…Questions being identical with WigWag and Sweetness included, and on and on….
    My heart is filled with joy now that you’ve suddenly found a new friend in Questions. Who would have imagined
    that, going back in the annals of TWN? Who would’ve imagined that even one year ago? Questions – a commenter
    you have harassed and attacked and humiliated here in unbelievably crass terms for years now, until you
    suddenly found common ground on the nuclear/earth quake/tsunami issue in Japan?!
    “Triple Happiness” – as is printed on Chinese match boxes exported to Africa.
    Don Bacon and myself? We’re just venting our frustration a bit, when noticing that Questions’ on and off topic
    rants amount to more then the rest of the commenters’ rants together here at TWN. Speaking for myself, I tried
    to suggest in a friendly manner that Questions posts less than she did before, and more than she does now.
    Nothing more than that. Go into yourself, POA – you’re walking on thin ice here.
    P.S
    Your recent discussions with Questions on the Japanese catastrophe are both extremely interesting and
    important – I’ve never felt that they were out of place. I hope you both continue to comment on the events and
    issues there.
    D.S.

    Reply

  16. Don Bacon says:

    And now India and The Arab League:
    New Delhi: India views with grave concern the continuing violence, strife and deteriorating humanitarian situation in Libya. It regrets the air strikes that are taking place. As stated earlier by India, the measures adopted should mitigate and not exacerbate an already difficult situation for the people of Libya.
    The Arab League: The Arab League chief said that Arabs did not want military strikes by Western powers that hit civilians when the League called for a no-fly zone over Libya. Reuters said Secretary-General Amr Moussa was calling for an emergency league meeting to discuss the situation in the Arab world and particularly Libya under UN resolution 1973. “What is happening in Libya differs from the aim of imposing a no-fly zone, and what we want is the protection of civilians and not the bombardment of more civilians,” Mr Moussa told Egypt’s official state news agency.

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  17. Paul Norheim says:

    I basically agree with your take, Don. Steve simply doesn’t have the capacity to create open threads five times a
    week, or comment on every significant event on the planet as they pop up, so that we can opine strictly on-topic
    about that particular crisis. And during the coming months and years, critical events will probably pop up more
    frequently than in “normal” times.
    A certain amount of respect for the topic at hand, combined with an ear for the importance, dynamics, and
    direction of the discussions as they take off, as they frequently do. It’s to some extent a question of musicality,
    rhythm, timing. Sometimes it develops into free jazz, but even improvisations take place within a context.
    (Perhaps Steve’s software could generate daily I/P treads with faux-provocative quotes, to satisfy the I/P crowd?)

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  18. PissedOffAmerican says:

    The bizarre aspect of this conversation, in my opinion, is to talk about “self regulation”, when one cannot “self regulate” oneself into not reading what isn’t interesting to oneself.
    For instance, in questions post above, he talks about two specific issues. The first, the unfolding nuclear disaster in Japan, I’m interested in, and I read. But when the first couple of words in his second topic line informed me I was treking into the realm of ho-hum, (in regards to what I’m interested in), I stopped reading, and went on to the next comment.
    There are lots of comments, daily, that I don’t read, or just quickly skim. Whats so hard about that, and who am I to point someone’s mind only in the directions that I wish to go? Don and Paul might be irritated at questions’ and my Japan postings, but obviously questions and I am interested in the topic, and this forum provides us with a slate upon which to exchange notes and opinions on that topic. For those that are uninterested in that exchange, it seems that reasonable advice would be “Don’t read those posts”.
    And please don’t snivel about the millisecond it takes to scroll past a post, or numerous posts, you’re uninterested in, (as some here have done). If your time is so valuable that you can’t afford the time it takes to scroll past a comment, even a lengthy one, then perhaps you should be out selling your time instead of squandering it here for free.
    On the I/P thing, sometimes I get the distinct impression that Steve allows the conversation to take a certain turn because it ventures into areas he doesn’t dare to go, yet would like to. And again, regardless, no one is forcing anyone to read those comments that go hither. You are bored with it??? Don’t read it? Pretty simple shit.

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  19. Don Bacon says:

    The bear and the panda don’t like it.
    BEIJING

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  20. Don Bacon says:

    recent news report:
    Russia urged coalition nations to stop the use of force against Libya, challenging the use of the U.N. no-fly zone resolution as a ” controversial step.” In a statement published on its website, Russia’s Foreign Ministry said air strikes carried out by coalition forces killed 48 civilians and injured 150.
    This is somewhat embarrassing to the U.S. as SecDef Robert Gates is currently in Russia.

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  21. Don Bacon says:

    My own personal preference, for what it’s worth, is that after a few hours or fifty comments, whichever comes first, and/or we’ve beat a topic to death from every possible angle, then it would be productive to branch off especially when Steverino is off on one of his holidays er working trips and hasn’t posted a new diary. Without automatically going to I/P, that is.

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  22. Don Bacon says:

    It’s common courtesy. If I’m in a group of people discussing mussels in Brussels I don’t suddenly start talking about kangaroos in Australia. They’re both interesting topics, but timing is everything.

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  23. Paul Norheim says:

    First day of spring in New York, Questions?
    Not yet here in Bergen, but I’m hopeful.
    I notice that you took Steve’s recent “open post” as a sign that you posted too much Off
    Topic stuff. Perhaps my comment/hint on that thread added to that, I don’t know.
    Yes, I have in the past expressed my slight annoyance that you tend to treat TWN as your
    personal notebook. Other commenters have complained too. It’s not so much the off topic
    character of some of your posts, as the amount of apparently “note-to-self” kind of
    longwinded and associative posts going in all directions simultaneously. On the other hand,
    you’re certainly among those most willing to participate in dialogues with fellow
    commenters – even on important issues :).
    And to be honest, I’m often much more annoyed by commenters who restrict themselves to
    copying and pasting stuff from their favorite partisan blogs, without ever taking part in the
    interactions on the threads, or speaking with their own voice.
    That’s just my view.
    The bottom line, Questions, is that the reactions you’ve received here are from fellow
    commenters, and not from the host. Quite frankly, I have no idea whether Steve thinks you
    post too many longwinded or off topic posts. And if he hasn’t told you so, you may of
    course type whatever you want to type, just like everybody else here. And Steve said recently
    that off topic posts wasn’t his biggest concern. What bothered him most was obviously the
    frequent ad hominem back and forth, and distortions of his own positions.
    But to the extent that these threads can be seen as a self-regulating organism, my personal
    suggestion (as a part of that organism) is that it’s a good idea to make an attempt to strike
    a better balance between on and off topic, dialogue and monologue, long and short,
    depending also on the (perceived) importance of the topic at hand or the direction of the
    ongoing discussion. It shouldn’t be so difficult, if you respect that this is a collective forum,
    not a private notebook. Going with the flow is fine. Going against the flow is perhaps even
    better. Sitting on the bank of the river typing unrelated, unfocused, and irrelevant
    reflections is not so fine.
    I would assume that when crucial events are unfolding in many places simultaneously, from
    Japan to Libya, from Yemen to Syria or Bahrain, the most important thing is not to be strictly
    on topic (and stiff and boring), but to contribute to the dynamics of the overall discussions
    here, making the comment section an interesting and vital forum for discussions. And it was
    exactly the interactive dynamics that were interrupted during the interim period of
    moderation, implemented due to ad hominem back and forth and distortions – and not due
    to off topic rants.
    In any case, I think it’s a good idea to try to strike a new balance between War and Peace (or
    Finnegan’s Wake) and muteness. Speaking for myself, I’m much more interested in your
    responses to the ongoing discussions, than to your often unrelated riverbank notes.
    Sorry if I just made too much fuzz about a minor issue.

    Reply

  24. Julie Kinnear says:

    The military operation that has already started in Libya will hopefully force Kadhafi to step down in a shorter time than the UN needed to deal with the situation in Yugoslavia back in the 1990s.

    Reply

  25. Don Bacon says:

    Looks like strategic nihilism (drew) versus opportunistic nihilism (Paul), and realism is dead.

    Reply

  26. drew says:

    Sorry: First paragraph was meant to read:
    “Tell me how this ends?” the USA’s best general since WWII correctly
    asked in 2003.

    Reply

  27. drew says:

    correctly asked in 2003.
    A person could quickly list two dozen additional nations where
    despotic leadership or simple sectarian or ethnic conflict afflicts
    their people, and many of them in worse fashion than is the case
    in Libya. So what is the purpose and meaning of this new war,
    other than the mere fact of it? What *is* our warfighting
    doctrine, as we choose to go to war again?
    Absent any coherent rationale for this war, this isn’t even politics
    by other means. It’s just some sort of strategic nihilism. Neither
    the objective nor the duration nor end state have been
    articulated by anyone. We’re just lighting off Tomahawks like
    children throw rocks at cars.
    If Samantha Power now controls U.S. foreign policy, perhaps she
    can tell us, preferably before she goes back to her teaching job,
    the faculty lounge, and her blog. Is there a lot of space between
    her interventionism and Bono’s? Is this Bono’s war?
    If Bob Gates does not possess sufficient credibility to win a
    bureaucratic influence contest with a college professor, of what
    relevance is the SecDef? If Petraeus and Gates, together, cannot
    prevent this new war, how long are they for this administration?

    Reply

  28. questions says:

    Morning nuke news —
    From Kyodo News English: Taiwan finds slight contamination of Japanese fava beans. Ups and downs with control, but this morning seems more up than down, til the next massive mess.
    Union of Concerned Scientists (all things nuclear dot org) has a great report up about the spent fuel pool gates that probably started leaking at the original loss of power moment. The design flaws are screamingly obvious and there was an incident some years ago in the US regarding this design. There have to be gates to get the spent fuel into the pools, but any opening in a container that holds water can, ummm, LEAK. So there are inflatable seals (like bicycle inner tubes, so the piece says) that do okay — until there’s no power in the air pumps.
    I’m not an engineer, but I have to say, I wouldn’t want what keeps the water level up be so dependent on one system’s working…… Worth the read.
    (I’m avoiding links so I can do this all in one post and not get too much in the way of the flow of Libya/war/missiles/spending/corruption/and the choice we make/and the value of the president….)
    Kyodo News English is right now reporting as breaking news that #6 is in cold shutdown.
    And sea water is being poured into #2 spent fuel pool.
    Brave New Climate has personal testimonial up about why he’s not leaving Tokyo, why the radiation in Tokyo has been and will continue to be in the safe range, and that those business people who have fled the country or the city will lose respect.
    From the NYT, there will be an announcement on Monday about whether or not to do something about the food supply. This is a huge issue. Probably, selling mildly radioactive milk, spinach, fava beans or whatever is not going to help Japan over the long haul. I personally probably would try to avoid Japanese imported food for a while…. But the farmers and food companies will take a huge hit, prices will go up, so those who weren’t washed to sea in the tsunami will have an even harder time. Is there deep international cooperation on this kind of issue? Would the rest of us try to make up the difference for Japan? Is there enough food being grown in the world to do this? How many acres of crops would be off limit, for how long, and how do they dispose of radioactive cows and rice and fava beans and spinach…..
    And the death toll rises. (NYT article)
    NYT also has a piece up from yesterday about how the elderly whose towns and businesses were washed away — no energy, ability, interest in rebuilding.
    kos has a comment up about robots — heavily radiation protected robots are now starting to wander all over the place where people cannot go. They’re in the nuke plant, they’re dealing with earthquake damage monitoring. This development should help enormously with information gathering.
    kos comment also about the use of US drones to help survey the damage.
    ******
    To make my day complete at this early hour on the first day of spring:
    http://www.themonkeycage.org/2011/03/its_no_fun_being_graded_on_a_c.html
    Stat gurus look over the value added scoring method used to destroy teachers unions and find, hmmm, some issues. Between the original post and the comments it becomes clearer and clearer that the method Arne Duncan and Bill Gates are touting for dumping teachers to improve the stock is a fucking mess. Statistically invalid, unfair to the teachers, bad for the kids, ridiculous….
    There may well be ways to evaluate teachers, but this ain’t it. You could have a longer run til tenure, you could do a lot more observation, you could talk to students and parents and colleagues, you could possibly find ways to use longer run reads of test scores somehow, but mostly, you should be aware that something like half the teachers who start are gone in 5 years or so, and they are probably a mix of the weak ones who really don’t get it and the better ones who really can’t take it. Maybe we should make the job decent enough that the “good” ones will be able to stand the work conditions.
    The mix of skills you need to teach: classroom control, a feel for the age of the students, mastery of the curriculum and of the broader field it’s a part of, interpersonal skills, parent-management skills, proper subservience to the principal and the superintendent and school board, extra pocket money for supplies and snacks for the kids, energy, willingness to work when you have the nth virus for the school year, ability to clean up when the kids are all puking…..
    Such is a teacher’s life. Tell me you’re going to find people who put up with this shit and Arne DuncanGatesWalkerKasichSnyder, too.

    Reply

  29. Paul Norheim says:

    “On state television on Saturday, Colonel Qaddafi said the international action was unjustified,
    calling it

    Reply

  30. Paul Norheim says:

    Gaddafi’s war against the West will first and foremost be a media war. The civilian population that the
    UN-backed Western forces are supposed to protect in this operation, could quickly turn out to be
    Gaddafi’s most valuable and dangerous weapon. Despite distancing himself in public from terrorism
    during his short stunt as an ally of the West in the GWOT, the theatrical nihilist and shrewd strategist has
    never made any distinction between himself and the Libyan population; and now he’s set the scene in
    Tripoli for a plot similar to Operation Cast Lead: overwhelming colonialist forces against a weak but
    courageous Arab resistance, protected by human shields.
    Despite the fact that Libya is much larger then the open-air prison called Gaza, Gaddafi has studied the
    dynamics of that bombardment and the outrage of of the outside world. In the first stage of this
    confrontation, Operation Cast Lead provides the script for his strategy.
    The challenge for the Western forces is to not end up looking like the brutal IDF forces in the eyes of the
    Arab world. The images of that war are still vivid in Libya and the whole region. If Gaddafi manages –
    aided by women and children and theatrical effects on live TV – to make vast Libya look like the tiny Gaza
    strip two years ago, Obama, Sarkozy and Cameron will lose this war.

    Reply

  31. Paul Norheim says:

    “The former a no thrive zone for Palestinians and the latter that ‘no drive’ zone for females.” (rc)
    Why the sympathy for Palestinians and Saudi females, rc? Are you absolutely sure they’re not involved in
    some whale hunting business?

    Reply

  32. rc says:

    Intermission:
    So while the media’s Libyan news blackout goes on perhaps a retrospective on what really works.
    A Force More Powerful (5 of 6) : South African Apartheid
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LTf_6XxEz7I

    Reply

  33. rc says:

    Yes, two very quiet elephants in the room at present — apartheid ‘white phosphorus’ Israel and ‘wako-land’ Saudi Arabia.
    The former a no thrive zone for Palestinians and the latter that ‘no drive’ zone for females.
    Funny quickly the Saudi goons clamp down on any voices for democracy (rule by the majority vote) and yet how sensitive and impotent they are to the religious fanatics who want to live in the stone age resplendent with Western technology.
    Actually sounds a bit like Israel as well come to think of it!

    Reply

  34. Don Bacon says:

    I realize that Libya isn’t technically in the Middle East, but it is an Arab state and its government has earned the attention of UAE and Qatar in the current dust-up, so I will post the remarks of James Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence, from a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on March 10.
    Q: Do you believe that in the Middle East there

    Reply

  35. DakotabornKansan says:

    Fawaz Gerges, professor of Middle East Politics and International Relations at the London School of Economics and Political Science, contributes to the mind boggling scenarios:

    Reply

  36. Tank Man says:

    Geez, let’s just crown Obomba King and be done with it!

    Reply

  37. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Total information blackout on Fukushima Unit 4 reactor raises serious questions about truth of situation
    by Ethan A. Huff
    Global Research, March 19, 2011
    The status of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant’s Unit 4 reactor is one of the most critical aspects in determining the severity of the impending nuclear meltdown. After all, the most recent temperature readings available showed that the rods there were three times hotter than they should be, which was far worse than the other reactors at the time. And yet for several days, basic information like whether or not there is actually water left in Unit 4’s cooling pool, or what the current temperature is of the spent fuel rods there, is no longer being supplied and reported, at least not accurately.
    On Thursday, NaturalNews reported that the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) had announced the cooling pools in Unit 4 had run dry, and that the temperatures were spiking out of control. As NRC made this announcement, though, Japanese officials and spokesmen from Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), owner of the Fukushima plant, insisted that the pools were not dry and that the situation was stable.
    Besides this conflicting and confusing information, there is the other disturbing fact that on-the-ground temperature readings of Unit 4 immediately stopped being taken the day of the NRC announcement. And since that day, there has been no official update on the temperature of the rods at Unit 4, or an actual verified account of the water status in the cooling pools.
    Oddly enough, there are now early reports beginning to emerge from TEPCO claiming that operators may be able to reconnect power to Unit 4 and several other units by Saturday. The temperature readings have mysteriously ceased, and nobody can verify whether or not there is actually water left in the cooling pools, but somehow workers are going to reconnect power to the damaged reactor? Something seems very out of place here.
    That so much of the available information on the situation is conflicting is questionable in and of itself. And the continual downplaying of the threat, despite the fact that the disaster as we currently know it to be is already the second largest nuclear catastrophe in history, is also highly suspect. There have been numerous fires, explosions, and other unknowns taking place and crews have largely had to evacuate the site to avoid radiation poisoning, but officials insist everything is just fine.
    Clearly everything is not fine, especially for the Japanese people. If you have been paying attention to the many other reports here on NaturalNews about the situation, you will quickly recognize the many serious factors at play and their numerous inconsistencies. There is an extremely dangerous plutonium-based fuel in one of the damaged reactors that may have already been, or eventually could be, released into the environment, an allegedly empty cooling pool exposing thousands of highly volatile fueling rods to the open air, and a US president telling everyone to chill out and do nothing other than watch television for further information.
    The people of Japan, and especially those located within close proximity to the Fukushima nuclear plant, are obviously the most threatened by the radiation situation. Many reports indicate, however, that the Japanese government is still downplaying the situation to the Japanese people even more than the US government is downplaying it to Americans.
    A recent report explains that the Japanese government deceived and withheld pertinent information from the mayor of a city 12 miles downwind of the nuclear plant — the mayor literally had to take matters into his own hands and bravely urge an evacuation of his city just last night for the people’s own protection — and he did this in direct opposition to the official government position.
    And you can be sure that if the situation gets worse for the US, the US government will likely take a similar position and continue to insist that there is nothing to be concerned about. This is why individuals must think for themselves — rather than let the government think for them — and be prepared for whatever may come. Remember, preparedness has nothing to do with fear-mongering, and everything to do with simply being smart and staying informed about a situation. Taking practical steps to protect you and your family from potential threats is the only natural response to a situation of this magnitude.
    http://globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=23791

    Reply

  38. Don Bacon says:

    Yes, here are so many possible scenarios, the mind boggles. The best-laid war plans always founder on new realities. The two major alternatives are if the regime stays or goes. If it stays there is a greater chance of some stability but under what conditions. If it goes, then who takes over — it’s a familiar vexation from the U.S. experience in other wars.
    The greater scenario, and it must be mentioned, is that this new UN role as a democracy promoter by force of arms will create a stronger movement for other, larger neocon and neolib enemies for UN resolution — yes, Iran.
    Like, that wasn’t so tough, was it Barry, and see how your popularity ticked upward. Let’s do it again. We’ll just line up UK and France and go for it, saying that the world community has spoken.
    Now that the Navy has fired off some of those old Tomahawks (at over a half million dollars apiece) they know that they still work, the crews have gotten some needed training and — real men go to Iran. If Gaddafi was fair game then why not the bigger enemy Ahmadinejad? Iran needs themselves some democracy promotion by Tomahawk (the U.S. has several thousand more). Another scenario to consider.

    Reply

  39. PissedOffAmerican says:

    At least 110 Tomahawk missiles fired at Libya:US
    WASHINGTON (AFP) – US and British forces have fired at least 110 Tomahawk cruise missiles into Libya against Moamer Kadhafi’s air defense sites, a top US military officer said Saturday.
    Vice Admiral William Gortney told reporters that “earlier this afternoon over 110 Tomahawk cruise missiles fired from both US and British ships and submarines struck more than 20 integrated air defense systems and other air defense facilities ashore.”
    continues….
    http://www.activistpost.com/2011/03/at-least-110-tomahawk-missiles-fired-at.html
    How nice. A short little search nets an approximate cost of a Tomahawk cruise missile. The lowest I could find was $650,000 dollars, but the most common figure cited is a cool 1 million, each.
    Uhm, gosh, didn’t this piece of shit Obama say this effort wasn’t gonna require any “more money”? Gee, I guess we aren’t going to replenish the stocks??? Bullshit. So, folks, a few hours in we’ve already spent 55 million bucks, just in ONE kind of armament, (if you’re so fuckin’ daft that you think that we only fired half of these missiles, the Brits firing the other half). And what do you think the logistics is costing, just to get to the point of launching one of these gold plated flying dildos that these slimey pieces of shit seduce themselves with??
    But hey, the fat cats at McDonnell Douglas don’t care who fired them, do they? No matter, the Brits, or us, it is McDonnell Douglas that has the contract to produce these missiles.
    Ka-ching, ka-ching, the war machine eats our tax dollars like popcorn, while the Feinstein’s amongst us slime their way up to the teller’s window, deposit slip in hand.

    Reply

  40. DakotabornKansan says:

    Good luck thinking through all scenarios that this war requires.
    As Digby says,

    Reply

  41. questions says:

    One brief interruption for front page Japan news:
    http://www.chicagotribune.com/la-sci-japan-reactor-damage-20110319,0,1929221.story
    Power line is hooked to the 2 most relaxed reactors, #s 5 and 6 (less risk of problems with electricity), and temps are dropping because water is working.
    Dropping temps cut down on steam which cuts down on radiation releases. So there is less radiation now.

    Reply

  42. JohnH says:

    Starting a war is easy. Victory is always at hand. In Afghanistan, all America wanted was Osama bin Laden. In Iraq, Cheney believed the US military would be greeted as liberators.
    Ten years later, what has the US military accomplished in Afghanistan? Eight years later, the US is withdrawing from Iraq with little to show for its efforts but a $Trillion of debt.
    Now the US is helping start a war with Libya. Once again, goals are unclear. Objectives are not being clearly spelled out. No end-game has been laid out.
    At a time when the country is running $Trillion budget deficits every year, little money is available to stimulate the economy or create jobs. But the military gets whatever it wants. Of course, Obama says that no money is needed, for now. Why believe him? All recent foreign interventions were cheap–at the start. Then they turned into exorbitantly expensive quagmires.
    Worse, the Obama administration has declared that it has all the authority it needs. He believes himself solely entitled to make decisions of war and peace. Congress need not exercise its constitutional role. The American people need not be consulted.
    Is Obama making a decision critical to the survival of the United States? Or is he making stupid decisions that will ultimately bankrupt the government?
    Almost no one in Washington cares to ask the tough question: what are we doing? By the time we know the answer, it may be too late.

    Reply

  43. questions says:

    “U.S. and British ships and submarines launched 112 Tomahawk cruise missiles at more than 20 targets around Tripoli and along the Libyan coastline, military officials said.
    The cruise missile barrage is designed to clear the way for aircraft from a coalition of nations to move into Libyan air space and prevent Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi from launching more attacks on besieged opposition forces.

    Reply

  44. sanitychecker says:

    >> President Obama has kept American exposure in the growing conflict in Libya fairly minimal.
    110 cruise missiles, you call that minimal exposure?

    Reply

  45. Dan Kervick says:

    The resolution is not a regime-change resolution, that is true, but it authorizes member states “to take all necessary measures, notwithstanding paragraph 9 of resolution 1970 (2011), to protect civilians and civilian populated areas under threat of attack in the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya.”
    And depending on the behavior of Qaddafi, necessary measures could go so far as actions leading the collapse of Qaddafi and his government government.

    Reply

  46. Paul Norheim says:

    Norway is now sending six F16!s to the operations in Libya.
    I am currently in the rather strange situation that the four TV
    channels I regularly watch – the Norwegian Broadcasting, BBC,
    CNN, and Qatar-owned Al Jazeera – all represent countries
    directly involved in this invasion. No critical angles left as far as
    TV goes.
    Perhaps I should subscribe to Libyan state TV for the sake of
    balance?

    Reply

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