Archive for January, 2013


A quick and dirty introduction to Mali

January 31, 2013

In several posts last fall, I made a series of theoretical, statistical and geopolitical background posts to what was then just the first hints of a Franco/American military effort in Mali.  Now that the operation is in full scale, readers might be interested in a more direct and contemporaneous summary of the situation.  The Burn Pit, the blog of the American Legion, has a good introduction up today, and will be a good source to follow the ongoing the imminent actions in the region.




Off topic (sort of): Lena Dunham’s “Girls”

January 30, 2013

Over at’s Big Hollywood operation, cultural critic Kurt Schlichter has a column up advising conservatives to “ignore Lena Dunham at their own peril.”    I’ve been thinking a bit about this show and wanted to write about it for some time now, but haven’t found the correct entry point . . . Schlichter’s column will be sufficient.

Although I agree with Schlichter that this is an interesting, maybe even important, show for those who want to understand the zeitgeist of the younger generation, I don’t share his barely concealed contempt.  From within his own conservative prism, Schlichter makes a lot of assumptions without doing any basic research to confirm them.  First of all, contrary to Schlichter’s claim, Dunham is not an “Ivy Leaguer.”  She’s not even a Seven Sisters grad.  She attended and was graduated from Ohio’s Oberlin College.  An eastern, liberal arts institution for sure, but not elite – not even near-elite.  Her parents are not famous and, though she is now wealthy due to her ability to maximize her talents, she is not the child of privilege.

I do find the show fascinating for similar reasons as Schlichter, thoug.   Hers is an alien culture to me – and, indeed, to many of her own generation whose voice she intends to be (or to be at least one voice).  I find it interesting that this nation has been at war for Dunhams entire adult life – and most of her adolescence, as well – and yet we see not a single piece of evidence of that in her show.  Hundreds of thousands of her fellow generational members have gone off to war, but she appears to know not a single one of them.

I happen to believe that Dunham’s generation is going to transform American politics; but I don’t believe that transformation is going to be accomplished by Dunham or her cohorts.  It is going to be transformed by the men and women who spend a decade learning the political lessons of counterinsurgency in Southwest Asia, and will return home with a different perspective and real political skills.


more on the correlation between GDP growth & carbon fuel use

January 30, 2013

On the same day that the Commerce Department announced that the US economy shrank by .1 percent in the fourth quarter, the American Petroleum Institute issued a summary showing that US petroleum demand has shrunk by 2% for the year.

It cannot be stated often enough:  The economy is a biophysical system that requires energy not only to sustain but to grow.  The health of the economy is fundamentally determined by both the quantity and the quality of its energy inputs.  No alternative energy source will be able to compete with fossil fuels on either measure for the foreseeable future (and, if one is to emerge, it is more likely to be in new generation nuclear power than in renewables).

The Obama Administrations fixation on renewable energy is it’s White Whale, and its hostility to fossil fuels could prove to be its hamartia.




The positive correlation between carbon use and GDP

January 29, 2013

not much time to post today, but I do want to point to this piece by Bob Zubrin on the relationship between carbon use and GDP.  We cannot escape our economic malaise without growing the economy, and we cannot grow the economy unless we utilize the most economic energy sources available.


Energy world in 2030

January 28, 2013

BP has issued its latest  “Energy Outlook 2030” analysis.  BP has been publishing an annual statistical review for years, but that review is a summary of current behavior.  The Energy Outlook reports have only been published since 2011, and are an attempt to examine what the energy world might look like two decades from now.  The primary conclusion of the analysis is that there will be little change in net energy supply.  If this is indeed the case, then the odds of the world shaking off its current economic doldrums are not good.  The economy needs energy to grow – and the cheaper and higher quality the energy, the more likely it is to fire economic growth.   Energy innovation will be the key to better living standards for not only developed nations but also the growing billions in the currently less developed world.  The United States is already leading the way in energy innovation through the development of unconventional oil and gas, but BP’s analytics indicate that this will only help the world to tread water.  The true game changers will come from developing kerogen or transitioning to a methanol economy.



on hiatus until January 28

January 18, 2013

here are a few links that I was unable to blog on this week

from the Asia Times, US Pivot sparks Asian Arms Race

from the Global Times, Sea Disputes Bring Unprecedented Challenges for China’s geopolitical planners

Iran and Nigeria:  Friendship or Rivalry from the Alliance Center for Iran Studies

Europe is a web of overlapping and sometimes competing geopolitical interests, and France is the spider in the center of that web, writes Luis Simon at European Geostrategy.  The full paper is behind a pay wall at the journal Geopolitics, but I highly recommend it to anyone with access.

This winter’s issue of the Journal of International Security Affairs (link opens a PDF file) takes a hard look at the challenges facing the Obama Administration in its second term.  The writers at JINSA do not give the administration high grades for its foreign and defense policy initiatives in the first term.


Some important background info on #Mali

January 17, 2013

Anyone looking for some good background on the conflict in Mali should read this post from last October.  Other items of interest here and here.