Monday, May 25, 2009

Strategy Debate

The best evidence of our president’s affirmation that ‘the record is clear’ regarding Guantanamo having generated more terrorists than it has prevented would be that it is mentioned in jihadist recruitment materials. But that does not prove it is an effective recrutement tool. It might be intended for western consumption, to throw confusion into the enemy ranks, which indeed it has done. The record would be clear if it could be demonstrated that a) such mention actually motivated terrorist recruits and b) that this number exceeded the number of those detained. Does a clear record on these points exist? It seems incredible that a group addicted to kidnapping and slitting throats, not discreetly but on video eagerly broadcast to the world, would get excited, one way or the other, by detention under any circumstances and the sort of rough-stuff practiced which has been inflicted on two or three of them during the past eight years.
In any case, to both donkeys and elephants who condemn Guantanamo I would ask: even if the current crop of detainees can be somehow done away with, what do you propose for future un-uniformed jihadist picked up on battle-fields around the world, even if you are not interested in asking them a few little questions but just keeping them off the streets? What, in other words, should the short-sighted junta of Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld have done in the first place?
Despite all the yammer, however, most donkeys and elephants seem to side with the junta, given the massive rejection of funds requested by the president to close Guantanamo, to say nothing of donkey declarations to the effect that “terrorists” (NB, not “agents of man-made disaster” or some other euphemism) are not welcome on US soil, even in the restricted area of a US prison.
The obvious solution is to shoot un-uniformed combatants on the field of battle, per the rules of war. In this we would perhaps deprive ourselves of useful information which might be throttled out of such rascals, but it would spare our sensitive souls the sort of vindictive squawk in which Madam Speaker seems to have over-indulged, and which our new president promised would end on his watch. Even Madam Speaker may now be longing for this more civil era, in which we politely ignore past excess.


Their are problems with Anne Korin’s argument (see Strategic Oil).
A) Expanded US oil production would put downward pressure on the international price which, according to Korin’s assertions, would tend to oblige OPEC to make adjustments. Whether or not OPEC actually did make such adjustments, increased US production would tend to reduce thier income flow; either the price would go down or they would be obliged to reduce their own production to maintain the price.
B) America could create a protected national market by eliminating the gasoline tax on fuel produced from US crude, as well as other fiscal inducements, and perhaps mandating a gasoline price higher than what the market would otherwise call for (which might still be less than what it is today), in order to channel all US production into the domestic market, in effect destroying the fungibility problem. Were this not possible though economic inducements internal production could simply be mandated for internal use. If the USA is truly the biggest energy market in the world, this could hardly be an economic hardship to the producers involved. As for international repercussions, apart from finger-pointing, the effect could not be very important, given the universal nature of the market. I am not the one to make the calculations, but surely there would be a way to make this economically interesting to the producers, and given that a great part of gasoline prices are tax, to the customers as well.
C) Surely the tanker loads of crude oil which criss-cross the oceans protected by the US navy are traceable! It seems amazing that petroleum’s fungibiliy could not be interfered with on the basis of this information.