Friday, August 09, 2002

ZoNotes: Roxxxannne, You Don't Have To Wear that Dress Tonight...

Last night I ventured over to the venerable Georgetown insitution Tombs for a dinner and banter with assorted alumni. ZoNoters in attendance and I had a fun evening (well, I hope that they had fun when I was there). I usually don't go out that much, but it was as fun an evening I've had lately. The lucky attendees got to hear my super-secret strategy to stop Steve Spurrier's offense in Washington! Egads!

Smarter than She Looks, Talks, Dresses
Anna Nicole Smith propelled herself from the small Texas town of Mexia through Playboy, millions of dollars of her deceased husband's money, right through to the E! Network on the considerable trajectory of her, um, anatomy . I also opine that Ms. Smith displays a startling capacity to hornswaggle and hoodwink the rest of America to think that she is a ditsy bimbo. Ok, maybe in real life she IS a ditsy bimbo. But considering that she has her own show, has triggered commentary from the Obsorne family, and has discovered a vehicle to continue her "career," Ms. Smith has done quite well for herself. That said, it must take a lot effort on her part to appear so fecklessly vapid.

"Panic is excitement without optimism."

Thursday, August 08, 2002

ZoNotes: You Dropped the Bomb on Me, Baby

American Grafitti
President Uribe, meet the guerrillas. Guerrillas, Mr. Uribe...
The bombing in Bogotá upon Alvaro Uribe's inauguration as Colombia's president is again indicative of the problems faced not only by the Colombian government, but of the countries that make up the Andean quadrant of South America. In this corner of the Americas, the problems are politico-military in nature. In the South Atlantic quadrant, the main problem is the economic contagion initiated by the Argentine economic corrosion. Subsequent financial crises in Uruguay and Brazil triggered International Monetary Fund loans upwards of $31.5 billion, with the lion's share of the money trageted straight for Brazil. The bailout and aid efforts in South America represents even a bigger rescue than the Clinton Administration's 1995 bailout of the Mexican government. In this case, the move is to prevent the economic disarray of nearly the entire South American economic structure. Between guns on one side and bank shutdowns on the other, the region's leaders need to right the ship.

"You can be a supervisor yet still not control anything."

Wednesday, August 07, 2002

ZoNotes: How do you like me now?

I'm posting to Pride of the Fall tomorrow. Anyone care to offer thoughts on Florida State coach Bobby Bowden's use of the "Let's Roll" phrase to motivate the 'Noles this season? Plus, Wisconsin coverage! This season I'm planning some postings on the big games of the season -- Texas-OU, Miami-Florida, and a host of others. Volunteers appreciated!

The Empire of Fluffy
Last night while on the treadmill at the gym I read an interesting article on Japan in the journal Foreign Policy. Basically, the article asserts that Japan's cultural reach -- "soft power" -- was extending throughout the globe, heralding Japan as a cultural superpower. Japanese influences on the American pop culture -- movies, other forms of media, computer recreation -- indeed have become more pervasive. Personally, I hope Japan becomes a pop superpower, with legions of bubbly female consumers from Toronto to Tashkent all answering their cell phones nestled in Hello Kitty cell phone covers and phalanxes of overeager American males killing evil warriors on their GameCubes. The Empire of Fluffy, which would be a mix of Japanese artistic eccentricities with American marketing tactics, is infinitely preferable to The Empire of the Sun.

A popular refrain from my undergraduate days was the nerdy but apocalyptic belief that the Japanese could build nuclear weapons in "3 months," given the technological prowess of the island's economy. Today, this still holds true. If you are a strategist in Beijing, Seoul, Jakarta, or even Washington, a factor that concerns you in the next few decades will be a Japanese resurgence. Tokyo has all the capabilities to create the conditions to be a politico-military force again. The country's defense industry, if given the order, could establish a regime sporting both airpower and seabased power-projection assets. Very quickly the Japanese could establish a precision-guided weapons regime to rival the best that NATO, Israel, or the U.S. alone could offer. Up to now, the Japanese have been constrained by the post-World War II constitution, and the horrors of the atomic strikes Hirsoshima and Nagasaki still ring in the public's general consciousness. However, if the U.S. were to ever lessen its presence in the Pacific, the Japanese could produce a leader ambitious enough to embark on such a program. Perhaps, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, long the foundation for Japanese pacifism, could become the trigger for Japanese assetiveness --a "never again" for Asia. Prime Minister Koizumi took the step of sending Japanese ships to help out during the Afghanistan phase of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM. I'm sure that admirals from Seoul to Singapore noted that. Indeed, maybe even officials in Karachi and New Delhi made their own calculations.

Now, does all of this mean that we will see a redux of the buildup of the early-to-mid-20th century? Not entirely. Japanese politics don't make for sustaining, enduring coalitions. A serious rearmament program and agressive strategic approach requires a powerful leader willing to buck the existing constitution and spark waves of discontent with its trading partners. Up to now, that type of leader couldn't emerge, Koizumi's stature notwithstanding. The youth of Japan doesn't seem compelled to form an army of conquerors, and would rather be an army of consumers and exporters. That still doesn't mean that the rest of us won't harbor thoughts in the back of our minds.

"You can mean well and still get overthrown."

Tuesday, August 06, 2002

ZoNotes: Can't you see this is the land of confusion?

Desert Storm II or So
Today is shaping up to be awfully busy here at work, so I will be as brief as I can. Last night my old boss MAJ F. Andy Messing, USAR (Ret) was on HARDBALL!! to discuss the prospects of fighting in SW Asia, primarily in Iraq. His description of the special operations forces community highlighted the fact that these men are deployed frequently and in the most unforgiving places. Mike Barnicle, filling in for Chris Matthews, asked what it would take to take out Saddam with our special operators. MAJ Messing in turn spoke about a 1998 article that he penned in USA Today providing a blueprint that would take out Saddam. It is strange, in open-source media today, to speak about the pending removal of one of the world's most troublesome tyrants. It speaks to the absolute strength of the American position to be able to speak so freely about "taking someone out." If the U.S. doesn't actually follow through with something viable, all this talk could deteriorate into the same avenue that we did when Fidel Castro took power in Cuba back in 1959. What was discussed? Oh, packing seashells with explosive charges, spiking Castro's cigars with LSD, and an actual invasion of the island. We all know where tha last option ended up, awash in blood on the beaches of the Bay of Pigs.

THIS is the paramount American problem -- voluminous talk about decisive action while in turn not following up. I posit that the fear on the part of our allies isn't that we are too strong and unilateral, but that we will back out after taking a forceful, unilateral stand. Lefties love nuance, so let's play with it. The tilt of the criticism towards the U.S. in regards to an Iraqi redux is slanted like this: "will we do it right, this time?" The endgame of DESERT STORM wasn't the only case. After declaring victory and going home in 1993 during the Somalian affair, we went back to prop the UN misison. After a series of calamitous mistakes that culminated with the Black Hawk Down incident, the U.S. removed its formidable combat power.

"Football is the extension of regional rivalries by other means."
By the way, both Kathy Ellwood (F'00) and Aaron Ammerman responded to yesterday's wordplay about golf:
"I've been golfing a few times with my husband and after figuring out how to hit the ball, I've found out one thing. Golf is what binds all white guys. There's a ladies golf store, a separate ladies tee, even the clubs are different. No wonder the Scots couldn't keep an empire together."

"Has Mike [Gallagher (C'00)] been smoking something in your general
vicinity? :-p
Golf is great, I'll admit, but it's impossible to
call it universal. Even in the great morass of
Washingland, how many people know the difference
between a hook and a slice or a chip and a wedge? You
can't appreciate golf just by watching it- it's just
men hitting a small ball toward a hole with a
stick. Only when you know the rules can you really
identify with the artificial challenges that man has
set up for himself. The rules make the game, and not
knowing the rules excludes a lot of "us all."

Monday, August 05, 2002

ZoNotes: Whiskey For My Men, Beer For My Horses

Is it coming? You know, the end of modern western civilization as we know it? Can we see its inevitable onset now that Texas is ranked #1 in the Dallas Morning News' Top 25 poll? As a sop to A&M, the Aggies are ranked #21. The real stiffing is done to the Miami Hurricanes, who received a paltry #6 ranking. Somebody tell 'Canes headman Larry Coker that he has bulletin board material for the season!How long before the alumni stage a palace coup? After the Oklahoma game? When Chris Simms throws an incompletion in the season opener?

Of Subs and Men
Aaron Ammerman reviewed the Harrison Ford Russian sub thriller, K-19. His thoughts:
"It's been said that there's no such thing as a bad
submarine movie. On the
other hand, it's also been said that the only good
communist is a dead
communist. "K-19: The Widowmaker" is undoubtedly a
fine submarine movie, but
its resounding political message will actually have
you on the edge of your
seat, cheering for the sailors of the Soviet Navy
to succeed against all

"K-19" spins the sordid tale of the 1961 launch of
the Soviet Empire's first
'boomer' .. a nuclear submarine capable of
launching intercontinental
ballistic missiles halfway across the Atlantic into
the streets of New York
and Washington. The story of its fateful maiden
voyage has previously been
silenced by the Kremlin for the last four decades.
Liam Neeson and Harrison
Ford shine as co-captains of the title boat; a
simply phenomenal supporting
cast brings the crew alive. Neeson loves the men
and the boat entrusted to
his care and will do everything in his power to
guard them from harm. Ford
plays the obsessed captain who knows that the
Soviet Union's arsenal lags
well behind that of the U.S. and that the continued
survival of his nation
depends upon the success of his mission.
As you see the crew of the Widowmaker struggle at
the top of the world
(featuring some awesome underwater and Arctic
footage courtesy of National
Geographic), you cannot help but realize that the
Cold War consisted of two
battles: the US vs the Soviet Union .. and the
Soviet Union versus its own
people. For all the criticism heaped upon the
incompetent American
bureaucracy or the feckless dilettantes of Western
Europe, "K-19" hammers
home the fact that the Empire of Evil has no equal
among modern states. The
ruthless oppression of its own citizens, of its
bravest and most dedicated
citizens no less, should leave no doubt in anyone's
mind of the fates that
would befall the rest of the world in the aftermath
of Soviet conquest.
Despite the horrendous Russian accent, Harrison
Ford continues to embody the
virtues he has previously portrayed in such
American icons as Indiana Jones,
Han Solo, and Jack Ryan. You will walk out of the
theater wondering how any
American ever felt the nerve to "sympathize" with
the Communists during the
Cold War. You will have even less sympathy for
those who shed tears today for
America's enemies.
"K-19" is an amazing movie for midsummer. It is,
however, poorly marketed,
poorly distributed, and tremendously underrated by
the critics and its
lifespan in the theater is thus nearing its
twilight. If you've got a
significant anyone who's pushing for you to see
something sophisticated this
weekend, and you want to avoid the Road to
Perdition, the impressiveness of
"K-19" will satisfy anyone's craving for serious
drama for at least a month
or two."

"Golf is the language that binds us all."