Network commonwealths may become a powerful and viable alternative to transnationalism. James C. Bennett argues that the Anglosphere is one such network. The Anglosphere is the set of English-Speaking, common-law countries with shared cultural norms.

Anglosphere Primer I, Primer II, Primer III

It’s been a while since Francis Fukuyama declared an end to history. His thesis was simple: Liberal Democracy triumphed in the Long War over all possible alternatives. Just a decade after that victory, I think the idea that political evolution came to an end is discredited.

Islamism is not a potent enough force to tear down Liberal Democracy. The challenges arise elsewhere, like the authoritarian capitalism of East Asia and Russia. In Europe, John Fonte describes the rise of “Transnational Progressivism” (pdf) (shorter version here).

Transnationalism is a merger of classic socialism with international legalism, both of which are failed ideologies on their own. Transnationalism as an ideology is spreading and evolving in Europe to challenge the legitimacy of classical Liberalism.

The National Science Foundation created the “Dark Web” project to hunt for Jihadis online.

This is where the Dark Web project comes in. Using advanced techniques such as Web spidering, link analysis, content analysis, authorship analysis, sentiment analysis and multimedia analysis, Chen and his team can find, catalogue and analyze extremist activities online.

One of the tools… is a technique called Writeprint which automatically extracts thousands of multilingual, structural, and semantic features to determine who is creating ‘anonymous’ content online.

Via Belmont Club, where Wretchard’s comments about the evolving arms race in the Cyberwar. The Jihadis are learning to fight back with “booby-trap” viruses and other countermeasures.

Lumo Motls has a good essay about the myths laymen have of science.

This failure of laymen to get a realistic picture of science is not just a fault of the media and science communication: it is largely a fault of the laymen themselves who often prefer colorful conspiracy theories about the interactions of people over the actual technical content of science. The truth found by science is OK but it is arguably too boring for too many people. Myths are sometimes better even if they are entirely untrue.

Can I ask why Admiral William Fallon is in charge of CENTCOM? Alright, before I put on the uniform I want to say this while I’m still allowed to – why the fuck is this arrogant incompetent sailor in charge of land-wars? Sorry for the french.

Fallon is strongly committed to losing strategies and anyone who disagrees with him is a “chickenshit.” We got another Rumsfeld asshole in charge. My respect for Gen. Petraeus just shot up even more.

This is disconcerting. North Korea (and possibly Iran) may have worked with Syria to start a nuclear program. Israel is apparently releasing intelligence to the US to expose this secret project.

So is that what the Israelis were shooting at last week? If so, keep shooting guys. Thanks!

So what were the Swedes doing during World War II?

God Bless the Finns

This is the precedent for the 8th Amendment in the Colonial Massachusetts Body of Liberties.
Clearer language, I have never seen.

No man shall be forced by torture to confess any crime against himself nor any other, unless it be in some capital case where he is first fully convicted by clear and sufficient evidence to be guilty, after which if the cause be of that nature, that it is very apparent there be other conspirators, or confederates with him, then he may be tortured, yet not with such tortures as be barbarous and inhumane.

Don’t torture, unless you have to, and in that case, don’t go too crazy. It looks like the colonists dealt with their own “ticking timebomb” scenarios.

President Kennedy’s famous order of preferences:

“There are three possibilities in descending order of preference, a decent democratic regime, a continuation of the Trujillo regime or a Castro regime. We ought to aim at the first, but we really can’t renounce the second until we are sure that we can avoid the third.”

Take a moment and lay out rational choices available to you. What seems like a desirable move at first may turn out to be a disaster. Other actors are also behaving rationally and sometimes not so rationally. You have to take into account their responses. Play the ‘game’ out as many moves ahead of time to see how it may play out. Then take your first move. Like Kennedy, you’ll find out that the Trujillo Regime option is the most feasible and desirable given your constrained options.

James W. Ceaser offers an historical account of anti-Americanism. Europeans long criticized a symbolic America, going back to Colonial times.

This included the “degeneracy thesis” where Europeans deemed Americans biologically inferior or racial impure. This actually still occurs, but the main line of criticism is intellectual. America lacked a romantic philosophy and history as a nation – it threatened the ideal of European nation-hood. The intellectuals also criticized American “technologism” and soulless consumerism.

To be fair, the Americans created a symbolic Europe of haughty aristocrats and useless philosophers talking about nothing with occasional outbreaks of mass murder.

Strategy Page describes Al-Qaeda declining fortunes. AQ is making the same mistake as the Armed Islamic Group (GIA) in Algeria. In 1991, the Islamist political party was about to win the general elections. The military government cancelled the elections, so the Islamists rebelled. They initially had popular support – they represented reform, less corruption, and promised better government services.

Then the GIA started to actually fight. As the decade-long civil war dragged on, the GIA waged an ever more brutal campaign. Extremist interpretations of Islam, ultra-strict religious laws, terror attacks and mass murder of civilians turned the population against the Islamists. The Algerian government won the war in 2002 after 200,000 were killed. Today, a handful of Islamist radicals continue to terrorize Algeria under the name of al-Qaeda.

Al-Qaeda seems hell-bent on repeated the GIA’s “stragery.”
They took what should have been a mass movement and made it a hyper-violent fringe. AQ’s greatest success in winning converts, luckily for us, has been here in the US and Europe.

The scientific method works so well because other people double-check your experiments and test your theories. Our cognitive biases limit our ability to willingly disprove our own ideas. No method accounts for our strange attempt to defend our hypotheses rather than falsify them.

Specialists have the most knowldege within their field. This gives them the toolset to critically evaluate someone else’s ideas within their specialty. But take them out of that narrow field and insert them into a different field or politics where they lack information, and they will adopt a simplistic explain-all fantasy belief. They turn into “slogan-chanting zombies.”

No one is a consistent skeptic.

Ralph Peters describes seven signs that states will be losers:

  • Restrictions on the free flow of information.
  • The subjugation of women.
  • Inability to accept responsibility for individual or collective failure.
  • The extended family or clan as the basic unit of social organization.
  • Domination by a restrictive religion.
  • A low valuation of education.
  • Low prestige assigned to work.

He also describes the “New Warrior Class” and how it differs from the soldier class.

This is a follow-up to Fantasy Ideologies

Humans self-organize into scale-free networks. Traditionally, individuals were locked into their tribes and extended families. This was true for the hunter-gatherer period and remained true throughout the agricultural period.

The Industrial Revolution created a new form of social organization. Individuals were no longer tied to the land and family for survival. Volunteer civic associations replaced tribes. Individuals no longer had a fixed tribal identity – they could freely join or leave any civic organization they choose. They could change religions, political party, circle of friends. Individuals could freely migrate across the social terrain.

Individualism was quickly challenged by a series of reactionary collectivist ideologies which seek to restore fixed tribal identities. This New Tribalism includes different group ideologies like identity politics, nationalism, cultural marxism.

Former Spook offers an analysis as details continue to emerge. The raid was more complicated than first reported, but no one knows what exactly the target was. They may have intercepted an Iranian shipment of arms to Hezbollah.They may have tested the Syrian “air defense”. There are now rumors that the Israelis just hit Syrian nuclear installations. Syria has nuclear installations? Seemingly they’re cooperating with the Iranians. Fantastic, if true.

This will only get stranger.

The US has disaggregated the Jaish al-Mahdi by separating the Iranian-backed “Special Groups”, the criminal mafias, and the “Noble” JAM loyal to Sadr. Sadr called for a six month ceasefire and suspension of JAM activity while he reorganizes the militia.

The US is opening negotiations with the “Noble” Jaish al-Mahdi. The idea is to temper the extremists by dividing and negotiating. This method shows JAM supporters that the “moderates” get results through diplomacy and politics while the violent factions get a bullet in the head.

I believe the gravest mistake in Iraq was to ignite a Jacobin revolution in the name of democracy. At worst, it sparks a violent terror to rapidly restructure society, and at best it leaves behind an unstable Illiberal Democracy.

Bill Ardolino interviews a Fallujan. I find it interesting that the Fallujans and Americans agreed upon a pleasing myth. They’ll blame the conflict on outside jihadists like Al-Qaeda even though they both know the vast bulk of the fighters were locals. But now that they are allies, it’s better to gloss over that time period.

INDC: When did things go bad for al Qaeda?
Leo: I think it was maybe … 10 months ago? Ten months, one year, that’s it. And everything began in Ar Ramadi, the Awakening of the al Anbar tribes. And when we see it’s working, Fallujans talked about the same actions and tried to save the people and save Fallujah from al Qaeda.
INDC: And what did al Qaeda do that was so bad, specifically?
Leo: Specifically, they targeted our mosques, our imams.

Al-Qaeda certainly has a unique way of disagreeing with the religious leaders of Islam.

Putin appoints Russia’s provincial governors and now he doesn’t want to be bothered with a Parliament. So he dissolved it for now. This is because of “a desire to give the president full freedom in making decisions.” Yes, clearly.

Do they know what they call a President with full freedom in making decisions?

Orson Scott Card discusses How Our Civilization Can Fall.

Card describes the historical fall of civilizations, concentrating on Rome. He tries to find the general principles behind the fall and comes up with this: complex economies are very robust under normal circumstances but are very fragile when attacked.

Once the economic flows are disrupted, specialization comes to an end. Then society is reduced to autarky and poverty. As he says, “In the crash, you fall farther”

Card explains how the United States is vulnerable to the same kind of disruptive attacks. Niall Ferguson concurs, and worries about “Sinking Globalization”.