Church of God National Bishop Killed in Haitian Earthquake

From here:

Church of God Haitian overseer Elysee Joseph and three from a Canadian delegation have died as a result of the devastating earthquake which took place in Haiti on January 12…

Dr. Joseph was a leading pastor and had served the church as national overseer on two occasions. He is survived by his wife and children.

Other groups associated with the Church of God were also in the country when the quake hit. Among them was a delegation from Canada and Southern New England, and a short-term missions team from Potter’s House in Columbus, Ohio. According to Rev. Jacques Houle, administrative bishop for the Church of God in Quebec/Maritimes, three from the Canadian group have died. Traveling with that group was administrative bishop of Southern New England Jonathan Ramsey and Boston area pastor Othon Noel. Ramsey and Noel, as well as the Ohio group are safe, but remain in the country awaiting transportation back to North America. Details on how the three from the delegation were killed is still unclear…

Since 1933, the Church of God has had a presence in Haiti. Jacques Vital-Herne wrote on March 17, 1933, to S. W. Latimer, the third overseer of Church of God, to affiliate with the Church in Cleveland. At that time, there were eight local churches and by 1936, Haiti had 30 churches. Presently there are 741 local churches, 327 missions and more than 250,000 members. The Church of God is among the largest Christian movements in Haiti and also includes schools, such as the Seminaire Biblique. It is one of four bachelor’s-degree granting schools in Haiti and one of three in the country that is approved to train public school teachers. The Church of God has more than 100 schools (including elementary), several clinics, hospitals According to LeRoy, due to strained communication a full assessment of the casualties among church members and damage to buildings and homes will not be possible for some time. LeRoy did confirm that some of the national buildings were damaged, but the national office and missionary home are intact.

"Believing in Evolution" is a Religious Statement

Every now and then I read an article that is so patently absurd in its premises that it’s bound to get traction with a large portion of our population.  Such is the case with Paul Waldman’s article “Can Obama Stop the War on Science?

First: the whole concept of a lawyer stopping a war on science is about as ridiculous as expecting William Ayers to stop people from overthrowing constituted authority, which is one reason why the current administration is so conflicted about dealing with organisations like al-Qaeda.  If we really want people in power who understand science, we need to start by putting people in power with scientific backgrounds, like the Chinese do.  But that would take such a societal upheaval in the Anglophone world that we’d be better off handing it all over to the Chinese to start with.  (Which is, in reality, what we’re headed for, but I digress…)

Then Mr. Waldman regales us with things like this:

You get slightly different results depending on how you phrase it, but no matter how you ask the question, Americans just aren’t buying the paradigm that underlies our entire understanding of the biological world. A Gallup poll taken last year found that only 39 percent of respondents “believe in the theory of evolution,” while 24 percent said they didn’t believe in it, and 36 percent didn’t “have an opinion either way.” When you give people some wiggle room to get God in there — by offering them the possibility that evolution occurred, but God was guiding the process — the number consenting to evolution approaches 50 percent (see here). Interestingly enough, the numbers on this question have been essentially unchanged since Gallup started asking the question in 1982, which, if nothing else, suggests that the “intelligent design” strategy hasn’t resulted in any major shift in opinion.

Waldman, like many of his idea, equates scientific wonderfulness with “believing in evolution.”  But he doesn’t realise that, by putting it this way, he’s defeating his own purpose.  An illustration should suffice to demonstrate what I’m talking about.

One of the courses I took as an undergraduate in mechanical engineering was Dynamics, i.e., the direct application of basic Newtonian mechanics to things that move.  It wasn’t an easy course, and many of us struggled with it.  One day we were trying to get down another new concept and one student told another in class, “Do you believe in that?”

“Is this a theistic argument?” our professor shot back.  He had an interesting point.

If we’re really serious about any scientific proposition, we ultimately must get past accepting it in the same way as we do a theological postulate.  (And some of us, along the way, changed the way we look at theology because of our exposure to science, but that’s another business…)   When one says that one “believes in evolution,” that’s basically a statement of faith.  If we say that the evidence, as we understand it, indicates that organisms evolve, that’s a more really scientific approach, as it is with anything else we observe in the natural world.

But that’s not the way it’s done these days.  “Belief in evolution” is a litmus test to show that we’re “scientific,” but as presented it’s a statement of faith.  And saying one “believes in evolution” may look like a firm stand but it really raises more questions than it answers.

And that leads to yet another absurdity that Waldman sets forth without even realising it:

Weirdly – for a country where “We’re No. 1!” is such an article of faith – most Americans don’t realize just how dominant their country is in scientific advancement. Japan might make better robots, and we ceded the creation of globe-destroying black holes to Europe when the Large Hadron Collider went live, but there is little question that the U.S. is the dominant scientific power in the world by any measure. We’ve produced 239 Nobel Prize winners in physics, chemistry, and medicine (the next-highest ranked are Germany with 85 and the U.K. with 80). People come from all over the world to study science in our universities. We invented the lightning rod, the cotton gin, the telegraph, the telephone, air conditioning, the copying machine, the cell phone, the laser, the microchip, the Internet, GPS, and Tivo. Yet when Pew asked Americans how U.S. scientific achievements rated, a paltry 17 percent said they were the best in the world, compared to the 31 percent who said they were average or below average.

That leads me to think of a less elevated story than the first.  While in the family business, my two field service people and I went to the Netherlands to make some major alterations to a very large pile driver.  While cruising the motorway between Amsterdam and Rotterdam, one of the field service men looked out on a field and said, “That’s something the old cowboys said couldn’t be done.”

“What’s that?” I asked.

“Cows and sheep grazing in the same field,” he replied.  The Dutch, not having the land we do, organised their livestock to coexist.

So the question for Waldman and others of this idea is this: how is it possible for a nation where so few people “believe in evolution” to produce so many inventions and Nobel laureates?

I have a few ideas as to why this is so.  I would love to hear Waldman’s explanation for something he implies is impossible.

Blind Authoritarianism Isn't God's Way for the Church

I’ve made this point before, but the Anglican Curmudgeon does it very eloquently here:

I have been thinking about a comment made here some time ago, in connection with a post about the polity of the Church. “Polity” comes from the same Greek root as does “politics”: the root is polis, meaning the unique form in which Greek democracy expressed itself — the “city-state”, or the body of citizens living in a common environment (city) and organized as a self-governing state.

In the polis of ancient Greece, the people came together to make decisions and to elect representative officials in a periodic assembly. All citizens could come to that assembly, and in Athens in the fifth century before Christ, there were assemblies of as many as 43,000. And do you know what the Greek term for that assembly was? It was called an ekklesia — the same Greek word used by the early Church to describe its local assemblies of communicants in a given city, and from which comes our word “ecclesiastical”, meaning “of or having to do with a church.”

It was the function of the ekklesia, among other things, to decide whether to declare war, and to elect strategoi in charge of the armed forces of the polis — or what today we would call generals. During times of peace, the strategoi became politicians — Pericles was one oustanding example. Such leaders were elected to annual terms; the elections were usually held in the spring, at a regular ekklesia called for that purpose.

The concept of an elected leader or representative thus has a very long history, dating back for more than 2,500 years. A person so elected has always been regarded as receiving the trust of the people who do the electing. Or, said in legal terms, there is a fiduciary relationship between the person elected and those who elect that person. The representative has a duty, as a fiduciary (the word comes from the Latin fides, meaning “faith, or trust”), to act in the best interests of the electors.

As soon as a representative relationship is established, fiduciary duties arise, and are inescapable. The law is especially protective of the people for whom a fiduciary acts — they are called beneficiaries, or people by whom the fiduciary must do well in order to perform his or her responsibilities to them.

And so we come to the point of this little excursus into ancient Greek history: one cannot have an ekklesia without there being fiduciaries and beneficiaries. The former are elected or appointed to act in the best interest of the latter in doing the job for which they were elected.

I’m still waiting for the Gothard people to come up with a reasonable answer for this…

Episcopal Worship is Exclusive Worship

And, in case, you forget this, there’s a sign, like the one at the right, to remind you…

Photo taken at Ft. Monroe, Virginia.

Actually, the chapel was built by the Episcopalians, so I supposed they should have first dibs on the place.  Superior financial resources–both personal and ecclesiastical–has always been an advantage for the Episcopal Church, especially in the last few years when the attending membership has been too small (and not growing) to support the extraordinary physical plant of the church.  (If they keep wasting it on lawyers trying to keep it, they’re going to blow that, too.)

It’s also worked in the favour of seceding Anglican churches, too.  It’s a lot simpler, even if you lose your property, to get up and running again when you have at least some members with the ability to bankroll a new place to worship.

If you wonder about the rather high-handed attitude exhibited in this blog’s banner or here, you can ascribe at least part of that to the good old Episcopal Church.

There is something else wrong with this sign: the Episcopalians meet at 0730.  Since same Episcopalians have a long tradition of serious drinking, they doubtless have a struggle making that early hour.  They’d be better off letting the “General Protestants” go first and allow themselves the privilege of coming in at a more civilised hour.

And for those who can’t take a joke: yes, I’m perfectly aware that the Episcopalians, unlike other Protestants, worship liturgically.  Just look in the upper right hand corner of the blog.  (That, too, is potentially useful for hung-over Anglicans (because it follows the 1662 and 1928 BCP) who want to make a fast check on Sunday morning before they trudge off to church.)

HARM AGM-88A Missile

Although I don’t usually commemorate the date, on this day in 1977 I started my first job as an engineer for Texas Instruments in Dallas.

My first (and only) work there: design of the HARM AGM-88A missile for the U.S. Navy (actually, a joint development of both the Navy and the Air Force, but we interfaced mostly with the Navy.)

Overview of the Missile

There’s a lot out there for the very technically minded on this weapon (such as the Australian and Dutch sites here) but I’ll try to present the simple view.

HARM stands for High-speed Anti-Radiation Missile.  “Radiation” in this case isn’t a nuclear facility but a radar installation.  The missile’s purpose is to take out radar installations and thus blind the enemy combatant to incoming planes or whatever other airbore weaponry that the U.S. military decided to delopy against an enemy.

The missile is the direct descendant of the Shrike and Standard ARM missiles used in Vietnam.  The Shrike was produced by Texas Instruments and that is what put TI in the missile business.   The Missile and Ordinance Division (which was contracted to develop the HARM) was at the company’s central facility in Dallas at the time, although it was later moved to Lewisville, TX.

The primary Navy point of contact for us was the Naval Weapons Centre in China Lake, CA.  Tests on the prototypes were conducted there and they were excellent people to deal with, although Navy projects in particular suffer from excessive mission expansion.

The missile (as shown in the photo above, with two of its wings removed to fit in the rack) is divided into four parts:

  1. The Seeker, at the very front of the missile.  A plastic nose cone (radome) covers the antenna, which seeks out and locates the radar installations.  The electronics to process this information are also there.
  2. The Warhead, where the explosive charge to destroy the target is contained.  During the test program, this was the Test Section, which contained telemetry (as was the case with the space program) to monitor the missile’s flight status and enable us to evaluate both its performance and our modelling of same.
  3. The Control Section, where the wings were rotated to alter the course of the missile during flight.
  4. The Rocket Motor, which propelled the missile away from the aircraft from which it was launched (it’s an air-to-surface missile) and bring it up to the velocity necessary to reach its target.  The HARM is ballistic in the sense that the rocket motor only operates during the first few seconds of flight.

The video below is a good overview of the mission of the missile, from an early (around 1980?) video.

At the time the missile was developed, the main enemy was Soviet.  However, most of the action it has seen has been, unsurpisingly, in the Middle East.  Its first use came in 1986 in Libya; it was also used in the 1991 Gulf War and 2003 Iraq invasion.

Development

If you read the development history of this missile, one thing that strikes you is the length of time it took from start to finish.  Developing HARM took most of the 1970’s and early 1980’s, and this is a fairly simple weapon compared to, say, a fighter or a large warship.  There are two main reasons for this.

The first is, of course, the bureaucratic nature of government.  It’s tempting to say this is the only reason but it isn’t.  Much of that is due to getting funding through Congress, which can be an ordeal for all kinds of projects.  And, of course, changes in administration don’t always help either.  Right after I came to work at TI Jimmy Carter was inaugurated, and funding for the project was put on some kind of “hold.”  My job wasn’t affected but some people’s was.

The second is that our military doesn’t like to leave anything to the imagination or chance if it can help it.  It wants to cover all of its bases and make sure whatever is buys is operational in all environments and meets all of the threats it’s intended to meet.  With radar installations, this leads to the complicated sets of modes that you see described both in the linked articles and in the videos, including the obvious one: shutting off the radar to try to throw the missile off course.   Given that the electronic counter-measures (ECM) environment is very fluid, this leads to a constant cycle of revision during development to meet changes in the field.  In an era when such changes had to be hard-coded into the electronics, meeting this took time.  (Later versions of the missile went to the “soft” coding that is routine today with virtually every electronic device.)

My Work

But another challenge–and one I was involved in–concerned the missile’s electronics and controlling the temperature they operate at, from the time the plane is launched until the missile hits its target.  This is an easier problem to explain now that it was thirty years ago.

In order to function properly, electronic devices have to be kept below certain temperatures.  There are two basic sources of heat.  The first is the electronics themselves, as anyone who has tried to operate an aluminium MacBook or MacBookPro wearing shorts will attest.  To get rid of that heat usually requires a fan of some kind, which isn’t an option on the missile.  (The avionics for it, stored on the aircraft, is another story altogether; it’s similar to the box for a desktop computer, although it has to operate in the thin air of elevated altitudes.)

The second source is external.  For most electronic devices on the earth, that means when the room temperature is too high, or the ventilation is inadequate, either heat is introduced to the unit or not allowed to escape.  That’s why it’s important for your computer or any other heat-generating electronic device to be properly ventilated.  With any kind of air or space craft, at elevated speeds heat is generated by friction with the air.  The most spectacular (and tragic) demonstration of this took place in the 2003 disintegration of the space shuttle Columbia.  Since the HARM’s most sensitive components are located at the front of the missile, that only added to the challenge.

To meet that challenge was, from the standpoint of most engineering in the 1970’s, “the shape of things to come.”  We used simulation software for everything: flight, component stress, heat, you name it.  The aerospace industry was the leader in the development and implementation of computer simulation techniques such as finite element and difference analysis, things that are routine in most design work today.  Most of the work we did was in “batch” mode, and that meant punching a batch of Hollerith cards and taking them down to the computer centre for processing.  Interactive modes via a terminal were just starting when I left, as were plotting graphics.  Today most any flight and flight related wargame posesses the same kinds of simulation we did then, only more, and the graphics to watch what’s going on.  That last was, in my view, the biggest lacuna of our simulation; we only saw and interpreted numbers.

The Company

Texas Instruments was one of the early “high tech” (“semiconductor” was the more common term at the time) companies like Fairchild and later Intel.  It had a breezy, informal (if somewhat spartan) work environment, complete with an automated mail cart which followed a (nearly) invisible stripe in the hallway to guide it to its stops.   It encouraged innovation and creativity in its workforce through both its work environment and its compensation system.  The only time coats and ties came out is when the “brass” (in this case military) came.  That was, from a corporate standpoint, the biggest challenge: keeping the Missile and Ordinance Division, an extension of the government (as is the case with just about any defence contractor,) creative, while at the same time trying to keep the bureaucratic mindset and procedures from oozing into the rest of the company.  Our Division was, to some extent, “quarantined” from the rest of TI to prevent the latter from taking place.

For me, it was a great place to start a career, and I got a chance to work with great people on an interesting project.

My thanks to Jerry McNabb of the Church of God Chaplains Commission (and a former Navy chaplain) for the photos.

Life Lesson for Barack Obama: The Only People Who Blame Everything in Life on Others are Failures

He’s still blaming Bush:

He says “the buck stops with me,” but nearly a year into office, President Barack Obama is still blaming a lot of the nation’s troubles — the economy, terrorism, health care — on George W. Bush.

Over and over, Obama keeps reminding Americans of the mess he inherited and all he’s doing to fix it. A sharper, give-me-some-credit tone has emerged in his language as he bemoans people’s fleeting memory about what life was like way back in 2008, particularly on the economy.

“Yes, we can”?

Try “Yes, I have.”

My years in the family business taught me one important lesson: people who spend their lives blaming everyone else for what’s wrong are, by definition, failures.  That’s something I had to learn for myself as I saw it in others.

Everybody gets dealt a bad hand somewhere along the way.  The current administration’s position is unenviable.  The financial collapse, preventable in part by different government choices, is larger than any stimulus he can throw at it (and some of the stimulus measures that are being thrown at it don’t help.)  A gram of prevention is far better than the metric ton of cure (how about that for a bromide update!) that is now necessary.

The war on Islamic careerism is no fun either.  Neither the “kill-kill-kill” tactics of the right nor the appeasement ones on the left will work.  Everything else is incomprehensible to American elites and non-elites alike.

But that’s the job Barack Obama ran for and now he’s got it.  His job is to lead this country into the future, not just demonise parts of its past.  As much as some of us would like to, we can’t live there any more.

My guess is that this endless Bush drone is aimed at two groups:

  1. His base, which never tires of hearing it and will carry their hatred of Bush into the nursing home, where they’ll curse and slap any of the help who wears a cross or an elephant.  (And that moment, for a good deal of his base, isn’t far away.)
  2. Those independents who likewise blame everyone else in life for what’s happened to them, and to whom this kind of thing appeals to.  (And that, in no sense, covers all or even most independents.  His falling ratings amongst independents are a testimony to that.)

But if these groups are the only ones he’s trying to appeal to, his ratings will only worsen.

Some Interesting (and Disturbing) Statistics about Vietnam Veterans

From this Weekly Update of the Church of God Chaplains Commission:

Army Chaplain (COL) Charles Howell, Command Chaplain at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Washington, DC, works with a lot of old Vietnam vets. He recently sent us these interesting facts about the Vietnam War:

  • Of the almost three-million Americans who served in Vietnam, today, less than 850,000 are alive.
  • The youngest American Vietnam veteran’s age is 54 years old.

Consider these other facts:

  • Nine million military personnel served on active duty during the Vietnam era.
  • Of the three million who served in Vietnam, 1.2 million (40-60%) either fought in combat, or provided close support for our combat troops.
  • 58,202 died during this war.
  • 7, 484 women (83% of them nurses) served in Vietnam, and the peak troop strength in Vietnam was more than 500,000 (April 30, 1968).

Some other interesting facts are that the oldest soldier killed in Vietnam was 62 years old, 303,000 were wounded, 150,000 were injured but required no hospital care, 75,000 severely disabled, 23,000 disabled 100%, 5,000 lost limbs, and over 1,000 sustained multiple amputations. There were, during this era, 766 prisoners of war; with 114 of them dying in captivity.

If you are further interested in these facts, you may want to send a note to Chaplain Howell at: clhowell55@yahoo.com

One other interesting (if unrelated) item in the Update was as follows:

Army Chaplain (CPT) Ismael Serrano, currently deployed to Iraq, reports: “Continue to pray for our soldiers; many struggled emotionally during the holidays. One sailor in our region, who was a Muslim, committed his life to Christ and was baptized on the 12th of December. Since getting saved, he has read the entire Bible in less than two months. Also, I am glad to report that I was recently inducted into the honorable order of Saint Barbara, Baghdad, Iraq, on December 17th.”

Is Allah the Same God for Christians and Muslims? It Depends Upon Whom You Ask…

Don’t ask the Muslims in Malaysia:

‘Four Malaysian churches were attacked with firebombs, causing extensive damage to one, as Muslims pledged Friday to prevent Christians from using the word “Allah,” escalating religious tensions in the multiracial country.’

‘Many Malay Muslims, who make up 60 percent of the population, are incensed by a recent High Court decision to overturn a ban on Roman Catholics using “Allah” as a translation for God in the Malay-language edition of their main newspaper, the Herald.

‘The government says Allah, an Arabic word that predates Islam, is exclusive to the faith and by extension to Malays. It refuses to make an exception, even though the Herald’s Malay edition is read only by Christian indigenous tribes in the remote states of Sabah and Sarawak. At Friday prayers at two main mosques in downtown Kuala Lumpur, young worshippers carried banners and gave fiery speeches, vowing to defend Islam. “We will not allow the word Allah to be inscribed in your churches,” one speaker shouted into a loudspeaker at the Kampung Bahru mosque. About 50 other people carried posters reading “Heresy arises from words wrongly used” and “Allah is only for us.” “Islam is above all. Every citizen must respect that,” said Ahmad Johari, who attended prayers at the National Mosque. “I hope the court will understand the feeling of the majority Muslims of Malaysia. We can fight to the death over this issue.”

In this country, it’s “politically correct” to assume that a) both Christians and Muslims worship the same god and b) by extension, it’s permissible to call him by names common to both religions.  This is the line encouraged by CAIR and other groups.  However, I have seen this attacked in Muslim literature as Masonic, not Islamic.  Evidently that, in a roundabout way, is the position of the Muslim protesters in Malaysia.

The court, on a factual basis, is correct.  Christians in Muslim countries (especially Arab ones, but also in places such as Indonesia) routinely refer to God as Allah and this is reflected in Biblical translations.  Conversely all English “interpretations” of the Qur’an before the last century translated the Arabic Allah as “God.”  It was left to Marmaduke Pickthall to transliterate the term “Allah” because, in his opinion, “there is no corresponding word in English.”  Evidently he felt that the Christian and Islamic conceptions of God were so different that different names were necessary.

The insistence on the “two Gods” of Christianity and Islam has been ascribed only to Christian fundamentalists.  (There’s really only one; the serious question is how do we obtain access to him and properly worship him.)  But this idea is mirrored on both sides, and politically correct platitudes only serve to obscure the issue and cloud our understanding of others.

Casey Johnson: When Wealth Doesn't Quite Make a Life

Casey Johnson is just the latest reminder:

Casey Johnson, the socialite daughter of New York Jets owner Woody Johnson and heiress to the Johnson & Johnson business empire has died, a spokesman for the family and police said. She was 30.

TMZ.com reported that Johnson was found dead Monday. Police officers responded to her Los Angeles home around 11:51 a.m. where paramedics had already pronounced Johnson dead, officer Sara Faden said.

Most of the commentary centres on the fact that she was a lesbian, but for me the fact that she was an heiress is most significant.

There’s a school of thought out there that, if you have wealth, you have it made.  That’s the underpinning behind a lot of things in this country.  If we are rich, we are told, we are happy and successful.

But it doesn’t always work out.  As a Palm Beacher, I found that out first hand, with my own schoolmates.  Many of them, with famous names and inherited fortunes, had miserable lives, many of which have been cut short (and the money that fuelled them usually runs out first.)  The principal culprit in the shortened lifespan is drug and alcohol abuse.  Wealth bought many things, but it could not fill the void of an empty life.  Filling it with sex, drugs, rock and roll and alcohol only put toxic substances into the shell which ate away at it until it too was gone.  Throwing money at the problem with rehab didn’t work because a) a lot of rehab doesn’t have victory as an objective and b) when you’re rich, it’s easier to say no to any form of help.

We can lust after wealth all we want and achieve it, but as long as Jesus Christ does not reign in our lives we are empty.  Once that is done, then we have the following:

Do not then ask anxiously ‘What can we get to eat?’ or ‘What can we get to drink?’ or ‘What can we get to wear?’ All these are the things for which the nations are seeking, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But first seek his Kingdom and the righteousness that he requires, and then all these things shall be added for you. (Matthew 6:31-33)

To see what happens to people like Casey Johnson grieves me.  But it can be fixed:

The Greatest Game of All: Central Asian Oil and Gas

Lost in the angst over the war in Afghanistan, underwear bombers and fanatical jihadis is the whole competition for oil and gas access in Central Asia.  The Russians and the Chinese, not natural allies by any means, have struck up a cooperation for the production and delivery of oil and gas from Central Asia to Europe, and as a side note to Asian markets as well:

The inauguration of the Dauletabad-Sarakhs-Khangiran pipeline on Wednesday connecting Iran’s northern Caspian region with Turkmenistan’s vast gas field may go unnoticed amid the Western media cacophony that it is “apocalypse now” for the Islamic regime in Tehran.

The event sends strong messages for regional security. Within the space of three weeks, Turkmenistan has committed its entire gas exports to China, Russia and Iran. It has no urgent need of the pipelines that the United States and the European Union have been advancing. Are we hearing the faint notes of a Russia-China-Iran symphony?

Maybe, maybe not…

To some extent, this alliance of convenience between Beijing and Moscow is driven by what the U.S. has done.

Most Americans think of the war in Afghanistan as a war to prevent the country from becoming the spring training camp for people who want to repeat and expand on 9/11.  But a little geography will show that Afghanistan is a stepping stone to the formerly Soviet Central Asian republics, which are not only rich in oil and gas, but also the logical pipline routes to get those resources to market, primarily in Europe.  An American presence there would not only give the U.S. dominance in this path (and thus the resources) but also a gateway to help insurgents in Xinjiang, which would destabilise the U.S.’ rising rival, China.  (Why we would be stupid enough to support jihadis in Xinjiang after the blowback from supporting them in Afghanistan against the Soviets is beyond me, but it’s our government…)

So one rationale to support the war in Afghanistan is to keep in the game in Central Asia.  A Sino-Russian alliance definitely has the inside path (just look a the geography) in this situation; developing that relationship has taken time, but now it’s moving forward.

Now that this alliance as congealed and our pipeline dreams turn into pipe ones, another player potentially gets cut out: the Iranians.  Their decision now is whether to go along with this or try to develop their own path for the oil and gas out.  Given that the U.S. military surrounds them on three sides, that may not be a difficult decision, but it would leave the Iranians as decidedly the junior partner of two powers which have shown that they will do what they have to do to eliminate Muslim power challengers.  That last point is significant: if the Obama Administration, true to its intellectual roots, turns the Afghan “surge” into a prelude for withdrawal, Russia and China, probably with some help from India, will, IMHO, make short work of any power challenger in Afghanistan or Pakistan.

And, of course, since we’re speculating, same Obama Administration might consider using planned weakness in the Middle East to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels.  How? By using same planned weakness to cut off our supply from this region, making it look like someone else’s fault.  Who needs cap and trade in a situation like this?