Beautify Your Home Effectively With the Stucco in Edmonton

In Edmonton, as the days get reduced and the sun gets set, sunlight coming through the windows can be a bit annoying. Wood shutters could really help in reducing this and providing you with all you need. Also, wood shutters are very great and provide measure to include historical as well as architectural details. Shutters aid windows do their job better keeping out the elements be it strong winds of winters or summer’s oppressive heat. It can be installed easily on any windows mainly because they are attached to frame that is thin and can be used on inside as well as outside of the casting or sits inside the window pinning. When the frame is installed properly, the wood shutters swing by freely and helps in reducing the day’s distraction.

Many people chose this purpose because they really don’t know there are more that could be achieved by just using stucco on the exterior part of the building. In case the heat is getting unbearable, the stucco paints help in diverting the radiation from the sun to another surface thus making the room cool. And when the temperature is getting hotter, this same stucco paints aids in preventing cold from entering the home which means the limited amount of heat in the house will be circulated and no cool breezee will be allowed to enter. Aside from that, stucco paint emits the stored heat present in it to the house at night and cold breeze at noon. This process is more or less like the two terms,– sea and land breeze.

Stucco is considered as one of the most reliable coating, it can be used either as the interior art or on the exterior parts. It is being increased considerably in the recent years. It can also be applied manually or with the aid of the stucco sprayer which helps greatly and makes work faster.

Most homes in Edmonton are painted with stucco paints, they are very incredible, and they are strong and can last for hundreds of years without wearing out. For a new home, the use of stucco paint can add incredible value and character to it, it is composed of an aggregate, a water, and a binder. It is water resistance though it will be very wet when it is applied and get dry within hours (1 to 2 hours) which make it an outstanding one among all other paints. The traditional stucco is made of lime, sand, and water, while the modern type of stucco is made up of Portland cement, sand, and water.

The most advantageous features of this type of paint are that they are water paint. They are easier to use than oil or watercolors paints; there is also no need to make use of a smelly hydrocarbon such as turpentine in mixing it. There is virtually no emitting of bad odors with water-based paint so worry yourself not and never think you are going to stink up the area with your painting

At present time, with the change in climate and temperature all over the world, the requirement for energy is increasing with each day and it is getting costly too. The cost of constructing a building is also soaring, repairs at later stage becomes a pain. Hence people want products that are reliable and can last for a long time. Acrylic painting can give all these benefits. However you should always hire a professional for acrylic stucco to get best results. It can be used for coating of the wall building and also the ceilings. As a mixture, lime is often added so that it can help to reduce the permeability and increase the work ability of modern stucco. Acrylic and glass are at the time added to improve the structural properties of the stucco.

As a building material, Edmonton stucco is durable, attractive, water resistance and as well resistance to the influence of weather. It can be applied for the interior and exterior coating, finish traditionally for direct application solid masonry stone surface or bricks. Normally, the finish coat of the stucco sometimes contains the primary color and is generally textured for appearance.

The stucco is available in different types of colors and textures, it is also used to protect and decorate the interior walls of the building. There are two major ways by which this mixture can be applied, they are:

  • By hand: Which is making use of a hawk and a trowel. Applying stucco by hands is a little bit harder to do and it often lacks the finishing touch. It also took too much of time
  • With the help of a mechanical stucco sprayer: This is the best way of applying stucco by making use of the plaster sprayer or stucco sprayer. It aids to reduce a lot of labor and at the same time save time. Stucco sprayers also provide good finishing touch which will surely make the stucco look professionals and good looking.

If you are interested in having an stucco edmonton home, make sure you call for professionals to help you choose the best stucco material and apply them for you. This will save you more stress and time. Classic styles can be limited if you visit neighborhood that is famous for having a stucco home, travel around the area and snap pictures of the stucco textures that you like, if that will not do, you can always meet with the homeowners and ask for permission to take a close up picture of the building.

Though you can get your building painted with stucco yourself, note that you will have to deal with maintenance of free materials which require an incessant maintenance work. Also, if you are the type that loves buying houses and you intended to get an stucco edmonton house, contact the professionals and let them inspect the building to find out if there is any damage with the building.

Analysis of PokemonGo since its entry to the gaming world two years ago

How PokemonGo has been fairing since its inception

You simply live in a hole or aren’t a social media maniac if you got no idea on what pokemonGo game is all about. This game brought the whole gaming industry into a standstill due to the diversity that accompanied it. It is not your ordinary game that you get to play at the comfort of your living room or whatever closed doors behind you. With this one you have to be on your toes to engage it. On your toes does not mean standing but moving around holding your phone or tablet for that matter. For those not familiar with their neighborhood or town you better leave out this game for other people who are more conversant with the area they live in.

Since its launch about two years ago, PokemonGo has recorded a high number of installs and high revenue at that putting it in the big map of mobile gaming. It has been a success owing to the millions of people with access to games downloads across the world. It has attracted a good percentage of people who have never showed any interest in games before, making pokemonGo their first ever trial in gaming. That tells how much this game has been able to capture the attention of many smart phone and tablet users and that is all due to its developer’s innovativeness that was put into action while creating it.

The hype that PokemonGo game is

We all understand the kind of hype that social media is good at creating whenever a nice movie hits the cinemas or a game for this matter hits the stores. You will find that even those that have no business at all to do with games will find themselves trying to get to know more about that particular game, or watching the movie. All this is thanks to hype created around newly introduced games and movies as well. Hype is characterized by sudden mass appeal and pokemonGo perfectly fits in that definition. You can tell that when that kind of a scenario happens, public life is disrupted in many parts of the world because people are fond of giving full attention to new apps and games for that matter even if it means compromising their ideal time with family and friends.

However, pokemonGo revenue seems to have dropped since its introduction to the mobile games market back in 2016. That proves that popularity can be short lived. However despite all that, there is still a sizeable number of downloads every single day and they are to increase as the time goes by because the game is yet to be launched in some countries. That means that the game still has a long way to go in reference to its market popularity especially due to the fact that it is getting updated now and then as it continues to incorporate newer features. Adding newer features is one way to keep a game or any app stay relevant in the market and that is a tactic developers seem to be very good at.

As is the norm with most apps, PokemonGo has received very many reviews since its inception.  Most people support and agree with the idea of having youngsters spending more time outside wandering about with their screens. The fact that the game has also helped incorporating advertising by helping lay out marketing strategies targeting a lot of users in different locations is another positive review that cannot go unnoticed. How about dominating a number of small developers who have been grossing at the top of the game for too long?

How PokemonGo has brought about new gamers

Research shows that this game has been a success in bringing out new mobile game users’ who have never engaged any top mobile games before. The game has attracted a huge number of new followers across the globe making it the most popular game to ever hit the mobile gaming industry. Which mobile games developer would not want their games become popular like pokemonGo? Yes the answer is all of them and is no doubt that some developer is sweating it out day and night looking to create a game more or as popular as PokemonGo.

Some terms that you should be familiar with while playing PokemonGo

These are mostly some of the items you are likely to find in a pokestop in your encounter of finding a Pokemon. You can also get to purchase some of them from the store.

  • Camera. How do you even get to play without this? A camera is used to take the funny pictures that usually hover around the internet of Pokemon in places you least expect.
  • Egg incubator. The egg incubator helps to hatch Pokemon eggs by starting out with an unused incubator. You are then required to walk a distance enough to warm up the egg and hatch it. You can then buy some more incubators from the store as you advance to other levels.
  • Revive. This brings back Pokemon who have fainted or knocked out during a Gym scenario by restoring them back to half of their maximum HP.
  • Incense. This is one trick that helps to lure back Pokemon that had fled from the scene for 30 minutes. You can’t achieve that by walking because the Pokemon is just around.
  • Potion. It is a healing item that usually restores about 20 HP to a Pokemon.
  • Lucky egg. This does not give you a new Pokemon but it grants you double XP for 30 minutes which is still useful.
  • Storage Upgrade. Pokemon Storage Upgrade gives you 50 or more Pokemon in your collection.
  • Bag Upgrade. This allows you to carry 50 more items.

Visiting the pokestop consistently will find you plenty of free basics taking away the need of buying items. That way you get to save your PokeCoins for more important things such as storage upgrades.

Guide on buying the best kitchen faucet

A kitchen faucet is a must have in every modern kitchen, but more important is their overall design. A kitchen faucet should not look like a 70s model. Instead, it should add beauty and glamor to your kitchen. Of course, every homeowner has his mind, so they will decide which features are most important to them.

If you are still searching for a kitchen faucet, you should take the time to read these comprehensive Kitchen Faucet Guides before you begin your shopping adventure.

High Arch

The high-arch model has turned out to be very popular. Many consumers prefer this style to the traditional model as they pay more attention to their sink. For this style to work immensely, it has to be swiveled 360 degrees, especially if you have a double sink. This swivel allows full access to the two basins, so you can use both without compromising.

The number of handles:

This should be a matter of preference, considering that there are people who want separate cold and hot controls, while others prefer a single lever that controls both flow temperature and flow rate. The number of handles can also determine the style and appearance of the faucet. You can choose to match your individual preferences regarding functionality and appearance.

Spout height:

This feature determines the range of your faucet and how comfortable you are with it. It is recommended to choose a tap whose outlet height is neither too long nor too short. It ensures that the faucet fits well into the existing sink. For those with a built-in spray bar, look at the distance at which you can move the wand, as it determines the range.

The spout and range of the faucet can also learn the overall look or look of the faucet, so keep that in mind. If you get it right with the height and reach of the faucet spout, you will have a functional and beautiful fit.

Pull-down sprayer

The pull-down sprayer is a convenient feature, and it provides proper storage while eliminating the need for an extra side spray. The low-pressure syringe should be integrated with strong magnets so that they can be gently and securely attached and loosened. If it does not have a magnetic mechanism, the sprayer will not be securely connected, which would make the entire faucet a loss of investment. While many homeowners do not even use this feature, it still offers a luxurious style and appeal.

Finish and material:

Kitchen faucets were made for years in chrome surfaces. Today, however, various other equipment materials are used for the same. These include bronze, nickel and stainless steel surfaces for a unique and impressive appearance. Consider the durability when choosing the finish. For example, PVD surfaces are corrosion, scratch resistant, and offer surfaces that have been as good as new for many years.

The inner construction is usually made of brass. There are tube and cast brass options with the cast being thicker and stronger, but both are equally good. The valves and how they are coated can determine their functionality, especially when dealing with hot and cold controls. Therefore, the water temperature is also an important factor in shopping.

The technology:

Unlike traditional faucets, which require manual operation, the new technology offers minimal touch technology while others are entirely non-contact. They are automatic and make them more practical in the kitchen. The way you settle for determines the type of energy needed to function, and this should be a consideration.

Price tag

You will get many models on the market, but none of them are comparable to Delta and Moen. These two manufacturers are constantly producing high-quality fittings with new technology and design. While these models are a bit costly than the competitor’s brand, their durability, reliability, and longevity are unmatched. If you look at the comprehensive warranty that is included in Delta and Moen products, it is not difficult to understand why the price is a bit higher. This is not to mention the unlimited benefits offered by their branded products.

Installation process

If you have used older models, you definitely recall how complicated the installation procedure is. Housekeepers could try to install the faucet for 2-3 hours, but many times, they left with a leaky faucet.

This is a thing of the past because many valve manufacturers are working diligently to develop a new process. An installation process that provides convenience and time efficiency will smooth things down with the husband of the house.

Concluding thoughts

When you buy a new kitchen faucet, you should first do thorough research and read through variety of Kitchen Faucet Guides. Always set aside some time to go through the customer reviews for each model, as these comments contain a possession of information that will facilitate the decision-making process.

Gaming fun: Everything You Need to Know about Fortnite Game

Fortnite is a video game that was developed by Epic Games in the year 2017. It has been released in two game modes so far which includes – Fortnite: Save the World and Fortnite Battle Royale. Though the modes are different, they still share same game engine and general gameplay. Both of these game modes were launched in 2017. Save the World can only be played on PlayStation 4, macOS, Xbox One and Microsoft Windows. Whereas, Battle Royale is available for those platforms as well as iOS devices and Nintendo Switch. Android doesn’t support this game yet but it is expected to release android support in mid-2018. Just before the release of Battle Royale, Save the World mode had attained more than one million players by August 2017.

Fortnite game modes: what are they and how do they work?

Fortnite is a video game created by Epic Games and a player needs to fight enemies in order to survive in open-world environment. The gameplay includes cartoonish violence and some characters that might not be suitable for younger players. You can either play this game in a solo mode or a cooperative mode.

To play this game, children will need to provide an email address, which will need verification and a username.

Fortnite: save the world – is a cooperative game which you can play by teaming up with three other players! This is a type of shooter-survival game where players have to fight AI-controlled enemies, called husks, and mysterious zombie like creatures. It can also be played solo with AI allies that help you on your missions but you can choose to turn it off for a full solo experience. This involves missions where players are supposed to protect locations from enemies or venture out in order to find survivors among the wandering monsters. In the defence missions, players spend time building and preparing fortifications and also exploring for materials required to make the items of need. The player or players will then trigger combat and start to protect their base. The map for each mission is randomly generated, except for the home base located map. The player will then have to return to home base map, which is also the location of Strom Shield, in order to increase the Shield radius. This will help to fight strange creatures that are similar to zombies and take the world back from them. The story is not very intense which doesn’t involve too many dialogues or long cut scenes.

Fortnite Battle Royale – is a free-to-play shooter game where up to 100 players fight in smaller places until only the one survives. However, it not about getting most number of kills even though you will need to kill the remaining survivors to be the last one standing, the current Meta rewards are based on the aggressiveness and built. However, matches can still be won through avoidance and sneakiness.

The game flow is as follows:

  • Every match is started on the Battle Bus, which flies over the map. The direction keeps on changing every time. Players are dropped into locations nearest to the route but you can pull the parachute right away and land anywhere.
  • After a couple of minutes, a circle appears on the map. A fewer minutes later, a storm slowly intrudes across the map and surround the circle, which pushes the players towards it. Players can survive in the circle for a little while, one would want to move there in a reasonable amount of time.
  • Another circle will appear within the first one and this process repeats. The time is taken by the circle to close in increases each time. With this, the effectiveness of the storm increases. This makes moving inside the circle more important. The less space to play in will result in you running into the other players.
  • Now, there will only be a handful of players left and you will be more likely to know the location of other players. Fortifications will be established, gunfire shot, and each player will make their move. You have to careful and make smart decisions while being aggressive in order to survive.

Why is Fortnite so popular?

There are multiple reasons as to why Fortnite, especially Fortnite Battle Royale, has become the biggest gaming fun craze of 2018. These reasons include:

  • The wide and free availability of Fortnite on all the major gaming consoles, Macs, PCs, tablets and phone versions that is available on iOS. The Android version is expected shortly, which means more accessibility for children.
  • The gameplay is extremely immersive yet simple. Cooperative games last up to 30 minutes and players can rapidly re-enter a new game which makes long sessions tremendously easy.
  • The game’s design is quite attractive. The weekly challenges and updates help the game to evolve constantly, which, in turn, helps the game to maintain its great appeal.
  • Gaming fun elements like V-Bucks, which is an in-game currency, permits the players to finish the challenges in return for rewards.
  • Fortnite has a vast social media following through streaming and video apps like Twitch and YouTube making it a famous gaming fun. The popularity drives the children to play this game in order to keep up with peers and friends.

Is Fortnite an addictive game?

Being the popular game that it is, Fortnite has a whopping 45 million users. There are reports that claim that Fortnite is an addictive game. The cooperative gaming mode is popular because of its relatively short game that lasts up to 30 minutes. Re-entering another game is quite a simple process which lures the player to play ‘just one more game’. However, some studies claim that Fortnite can promote positive skills and qualities in children like quick reactions, teamwork and expertise.

Fortnite Battle Royale is free to download game that makes it even more appealing gaming fun for the children. With its amazing visuals and graphics, it is no wonder that Fortnite is one of the most famous video game of 2018.

Selection Of The Best Grease Gun

What is a grease gun?

A grease gun is a hand tool generally used in garages for the lubrication of critical automotive parts. The lubricant is applied via the grease gun through a specified aperture to a specific point, which is called a nipple or grease fitting. The grease is then transferred via the channels behind the nipple to the desired part which requires lubrication. The apertures are designed for close fittings only and ensure that the grease is applied only at the desirable points and not spread off unnecessarily. Generally, heavier and thicker variety of grease is used for the purpose. Seeing the importance of this gun, it is equally important to select the best one that not only lasts long but shows enhanced performance throughout. This article, basically a Tools insider blog, details about all of the technicalities of a grease gun and the parameters to select the best one.

The general types

Grease guns are generally of three types based on their source of power : –

  • Hand powered guns, which use a trigger mechanism to apply pressure to the spring that aids in the release of the grease
  • Hand powered guns, which uses the back pressure developed by pushing of the butt of the grease gun to pump the grease out of the aperture
  • Air powered or pneumatic guns, which uses compressed air directed to the hoses and using this air force to inject the grease out of the aperture.

The need

After knowing about the basic uses of a grease gun, the most common question that comes into the mind is why should one require the same. As a Tools insider blog, the following reasons list down the purposes for which a grease gun can be used: –

  • The grease gun makes the process of lubrication much easier and prevents getting of the hands dirty or greasy by removing the need of applying the same from hand.
  • This device ensures that the grease gets applied at the exact points and not get wasted by spreading off to the non-required portions.
  • With the lubricant getting injected to the desired portion only, the part functions to the optimal level and gives the best of the results in the performance.
  • Speed and accuracy of the part remain intact always and it never shows any compromise in its performance throughout its working lifetime.

Parameters to consider

In the market, there are a wide number of options available for the brands of grease gun to select. However, in order to get the list of the best ones, there is a set of well-defined parameters that speaks of the desirable properties one should look for while searching the best grease guns. The following lists down the required parameters to be considered: –

  • Type of grease gun decided on the basis of the complexity of the job to be done with the device. Following are some of the viable options for the same: –
  • Lever ones, which are the cheapest and use the lever mechanism to create a pressure for the release of the grease. Used particularly for light applications
  • Cordless ones, powered by batteries and used in cases where portability of the device is an important parameter.
  • Hand powered ones, where the hands perform the pumping action to build up the air pressure
  • Pistol grip ones, where the grip over the handles aid in proper holding and can be used by both the left-handed and the right-handed operators
  • Pneumatic ones, that use compressed air for the working mechanism and generally are used for heavy-duty applications and on industrial levels.
  • The amount of lubrication required in the part, as this is an indicative feature to decide the aperture size for the gun and hence also shows the extent of the application of the device.
  • The ease of use, according to the convenience of the operator so that it provides the highest level of comfort, ease of handling and more time in the operation of the same.
  • Detailed study of the technical specifics of the gun, to easily understand the type of gun that is suitable for a particular application and hence can also determine the maximum pressure which is an indication of its performance.
  • Warranty of the device, i.e. having a good warranty period from the manufacturer so that in case of any non-human damage it can get rectified easily without incurring any additional costs.

The best ones

Based on the above-mentioned parameters, the following are some of the popular brands of the grease guns in the year 2018 : –

  • Lumax LX 1152 Heavy duty deluxe – Considered to be the one topping the list, its popularity rose primarily due to its sturdy construction of 18- gauge stainless steel. It is the perfect example of a device at a low cost but providing the best of the performance for the long years to come. Its super affordability, air bleeder valve, working pressure ranges, lock and sturdy design have worked altogether in making it a popular choice for the year.
  • DEWALT Li-Ion Grease Gun – Its high working pressure and high volume of air handling capacity have added to its popularity for the year. The battery for the same is powerful enough to sustain for longer times. The flexibility in the number of filters available, type of motor used, 42-inch hose and high volume handling capacity has worked in its rise towards the best brand.
  • Lincoln 1162 Air Operated – The best of the pneumatic gun, it is the ideal one for heavy duty applications. Its design that reduces the cases of air bleeding, automatic trigger system, one-year warranty and high working pressure are the factors that have made this design quite popular in use and in the market for the year 2018.
  • Plews Standard duty – Used for medium level applications, some of its features that have attracted a large number of customers include the greater flexibility in use, 14-ounce cartridge aiding in easy use and sufficient torque to allow the operation of the device at ease without many

A comfortable bathing experience with a shower chair

Comfort is something each and every individual wishes for in his or her life. An easy life which involves less human effort is always desirable. People also spend a major part of their earnings on machinery and other items that help establish a decent amount of ease in life. Nowadays, comfort is available during different processes including hygiene related activities like bathing. A shower chair is one such item used.

What is a shower chair?

A shower chair is basically a chair or seat that is used by different individuals while taking a shower. The user places this seat under a shower and then sits on with the shower on for bathing. These chairs are used by personnel who seek comfort while bathing and other physically handicapped individuals who find it extremely difficult to stand and balance themselves while having a bath. Seats of different sizes and shapes possessing different designs are available nowadays.

Perks of owning a shower chair

Some of the important benefits or advantages of owning a shower chair are as follows:

  • The shower chair ensures safety while having bath. Many a times, the bathroom floor is smooth and slippery. While having bath, with all the water collecting below, the floor becomes even more slippery and the bather is at a risk of slipping and falling, especially while standing or walking about. In case of a bathing chair, the individual sits and bathes due to which, added safety is provided. In certain cases, wheels are also provided to these chairs which make moving about in the bathroom easy and safe.
  • If each individual owns his or her own separate bathing chair and maintains its cleanliness, hygiene standards are taken care of and the user is less prone to diseases and other related infections.
  • These shower chairs can be used by adults as well as children. In case of children, they instil in them the quality of being independent in carrying out personal activities, bathing being one of them.
  • As stated earlier, a decent amount of comfort is provided and thus helps improve the quality of life and living standards.
  • It is a great blessing in disguise to the physically impaired and other people with weak legs who have problems in standing for a long time. Certain people are unable to balance themselves, which may be due to cerebral cortex related problems. In this case too the shower chair proves itself beneficial. Most of the times, arthritis patients prefer purchasing such shower seats and use them while bathing or other activities.

Types of shower chairs

There are different types of shower chairs available online or other brick and mortar markets. These chairs are classified mainly on the difference in design and other facilities provided. Some of the important types of shower chairs are as follows:

  • The most common and basic types of shower chairs available are the flat seat ones. These do not have much facilities or high comfort level. The usability or functionality is the main highlight of these chairs.
  • Some shower chairs come with commode type seats. These have dual functionality. They can be used while bathing as well as during other toiletry activities.
  • Certain chairs have the reclining facilities available for the back rest. The back rest can be reclined over different angles and straightened back up according to the user’s needs and comfort. The reclining facility is one appreciated by many people all over the world.
  • Some shower chairs are made up of materials like stainless steel. Stainless steel is a rust proof material which does not corrode very easily. It has non stick nature as well. Stainless steel is also unaffected by water.
  • Most shower chairs are made of polyvinyl chloride which is a polymer comprising of vinyl chloride as the monomers. Certain normal plastic shower chairs are also available.
  • Some shower chairs have wheels attached to their base with which the user can move from one place to another. It also helps in transporting or transferring the chair from place to place.

The most important fact that must be kept in mind is that the shower chair must not be a good conductor of electricity. The seat remains wet most of the time and if it conducts electricity, the person sitting on it or in contact with it by any other way may get an electric shock and suffer from serious injuries. Some shower chairs are adjustable where the height can be adjusted according to that of the user. While some are manufactured with arm rests, others come without. In certain cases these arm rests are adjustable and removable as well.

It is always better if the shower chair is an insulator of heat as well. If it conducts heat readily, the person sitting or using it may get a heating sensation, disrupting comfort. The user ought to check the quality of the shower chair before purchasing it. He or she may even sit on it and check the comfort level provided by the seat. Nobody would want to buy a faulty or uncomfortable seat after all!

Shower chairs or bathing chairs can be purchased from brick and mortar furniture shops or online shopping websites, which usually offer great deals and other incentives. The shower chairs come in different colours which definitely includes the entire spectrum of the vibgyor. However, people usually prefer the colours that suit or match the tile work or wall paint colour of the bathroom.

With the advancement of technology and wild spread of innovation, remote controlled shower chairs are also developed by certain companies. The remote control is mainly used to move and steer the particular chair. The entire mechanism and control system used in this amalgamation of shower chairs and technology is however, water proof or water resistant.

Grow Your Plants Anywhere You Wish With Full Spectrum LED Grow Lights

Light is the essence of life. We see because of light. When Thomas Edison realized that we can make light with out wasting our supply of sun, he invented the light bulb. The invention was the start of our digitalized world. Because without light, there is no world. The main use of the sunlight is to grow plants that are the source of food and nutrition to every being on earth. Without sunlight, there is no life. So, the bulb produced light that helped us brighten our nights, the basement, underground labs and railway stations, and technically, everything. So, this source of artificial light, can this help grow plants too? The idea might seem flabbergasting and unbelievable. Man made light cannot be used to grow life. But, it is possible. We have been using this artificial form of light for decades to grow a variety of plants at our basements, green houses, etc. After all, it does possess all the qualities sunlight does. So, are there any special lights that will help you achieve this task?

The stress relieving plant

As a form of relaxation and to take a break from our chaos filled life, we wish to go on a long vacation or to take time off to discover ourselves. But, majority of the people are poor and cannot afford the vacations or missing work. So, they resort to cheap liquor, alcohol, drugs, cigarettes, and weed. These are easily and abundantly available. And the best part? They are cheap. They help you forget all your problems and provide you with a high that is only satisfied when you keep doing it. It makes you delirious and happy. The dopamine is a very strong chemical indeed. For teenagers, weed and alcohol are personal favorites. We see a multitude just smoking up on the weekends or over the holidays. But, buying it can be very expensive all the time. You can’t put all the hard-earned money you get from doing various jobs on buying a small amount of it. So, the best option? You can grow cannabis yourself. And how do you do that? With full spectrum LED grow lights, of course.

About the life givers

Light is mandatory to grow weed. So, what kind of full spectrum LED grow lights is better? LED grow lights are preferred to others in the market due to their efficiency to remain stable and strong for a long time, the holding of the light over the plants can be customized to fit your necessity, they consume less electricity than others which makes them ideal. If you wan to buy a product, you have to know the shelf life. The shelf life of full spectrum LED grow lights is long, and this saves you the time and money to replace them sooner unlike the rest. If the lights go out in the middle of the light, the chances are it won’t grow. So, LED grow lights really outdid themselves in this aspect. And their best feature that sets them apart? They consume less heat and arrive with built-in fans. This saves you the trouble for finding and buying external fans. They also regulate the room temperature to suit your conditions. They are eco friendly and might be a little costly than the traditional HD lightning, but, they save you money and time in the long run.

The parameters to be considered

There are numerous full spectrum LED grow lights in the market. But, there are a few common elements in all of them based on which they are judged.

  • Wattage: To buy lights, the first parameter to be considered is the wattage. Wattage is the consumption of energy over some time. The greater the wattage, the greater energy, the better grow light.
  • The Full spectrum LED grow lights are expensive, but they also help in better growth and regulation for the entire cycle.
  • The area of coverage is another important factor to be taken into consideration. If you want to make optimum use of the grow lights, keeping them next to each other is the best option
  • The higher the angle of placement of the full spectrum LED grow light, the more area it covers. If the grow lights are set up in a lower angle, then they cover only a small patch of the plants and that is inefficient. The types which are equipped with medium angles provide a better pitch.
  • As mentioned before, the shelf life is vital. And the ones which offer better services and longer life are preferred.
  • The cheaper ones might be preferred over the costlier ones, but they might also have a low shelf life.

The best Grow Lights

  1. Marshydo Reflector 960W Full spectrum LED grow lights: The size is moderate and can therefore be used for heavy growths too. Since the models are available on a lower wattage, it can also be used to grow lower plantations. It is double special. There is a two-year warranty and a reasonable shelf life. You get the best of all parameters. Hence, slightly costlier.
  2. Advanced Platinum series P900 900W LED Grow light: Comes with a voltage adjustment option which makes it different from others. It has a unique cooling system. Since the LED’s are made of platinum, we get the optimum conditions- five-year warranty and three times the normal brightness. It is the most expensive on the market and is recommended for professionals.
  3. G8LED 600 MEGA LED grow light: it radiates ultraviolet and infrared rays. Reasonably cheap, covers larger areas and has good penetrating power.
  4. Advanced platinum series P600: It has the best of the absolute best. As the name suggest, three times the normal brightness, four times better fans, largest shelf life and is equipped with bloom switches.

Full spectrum LED grow lights could be a little costly if you want to grow your plants at optimum conditions with the best care. The cheaper ones might take you longer. Buy the best to grow the best.

Figure Out About the Best GPS for Truck Drivers

GPS truck pursuing is a framework that follows the correct area of your RV vehicles at a particular time. It will likewise reveal to you where they were yesterday, where they will be tomorrow and in the months to come. With a GPS gadget introduced in your truck, you can settle on more educated choices on the best way to work your armada. As a driver, the contraption enables you to make the most out of your course. You additionally become more acquainted with about comforts close to you and what you’re probably going to experience ahead.

As an armada proprietor, a GPS gadget helps keep you accountable for your armada. Other than that, it empowers you to distinguish operational wasteful aspects. That way, you can know the fixes to make to develop your business and oversee accounts. Also, the perceivability into your armada empowers you to enhance the courses your drivers take which mean better consumer loyalty. Over that, your drivers will get to their goals quicker supported by ongoing bits of knowledge. To get straight to the point, trucks GPS will help streamline your business activities. To know more about the best GPS for truck drivers and how can it assist you to maintain a track of your trucks, go through our article:

Hacks to selecting a suitable GPS for tracking your trucks:

  • When picking the best GPS for truck drivers, pick one with ongoing activity refreshes. GPS that associates with a continuous framework and gives reports on current movement conditions can enable you to design your breaks, take backup ways to go if necessary, and give exact entry times.
  • Trucking tolls pile up real quick, and most GPS frameworks do exclude data on where tolls are or the amount they cost, particularly for trucks. A GPS for truckers should connect to your course, reveal to you where tolls are, and give you a gauge for the sum you’ll spend on tolls.
  • A few scaffolds have low weight restrains that don’t suit business trucks, and a few bridges are sufficiently low that business trucks can’t drive underneath them. The GPS frameworks meant for trucks ought to show where these inconvenience spots are on your course and enable you to maintain a strategic distance from them with different courses.
  • A GPS for truckers must be solid, since it typically gets considerably more use than an individual utilize GPS framework. It must have the capacity to keep running for a considerable length of time at once, charge rapidly, and withstand a rough taxicab setting.
  • You must pick a GPS framework that has an arrangement of maps that constrain you to trucking courses. A normal car based GPS framework will without a doubt treat you terribly sooner or later, either by taking you to a scaffold that doesn’t oblige the weight you’re conveying or stalling out in a private society. You might have the capacity to utilize a standard GPS framework as long as it has bolster for trucking maps, which a developing number of GPS gadgets do.

A Sneak peek into the perks and advantages of getting GPS for truck drivers!

The best GPS for truck drivers offers you the following benefits, just to name a few:

  • By the means of truck tracking device, you can keep a watch on the activities of your employees. You know that your trucks won’t be misused at the hands of the drivers given that you keep a tap on your truck via the GPS system.
  • In case that the driver is going the wrong way or is not moving at all, the fleet manager has the chance to do something about the entire situation and take a suitable action against the truck driver.
  • The entire system also serves as a communicative tool. You can reach out to your clients and drivers alike with the assistance of the truck tracking GPS framework. Not just that, it also helps you in deciphering shorter routes, which in turn makes the entire process pretty convenient and hassle free for the fleet owner.
  • The GPS truck tracking framework comprises of very easy to utilize maps that assists the fleet owner in effectively understanding the patterns of traffic and the easier routes.

Significance of the truck tracking GPS:

  • Promotes easy and efficient tracking: The framework that serves as the best GPS for truck drivers makes keeping a tap on organizational vehicles basic and viable. GPS truck following is ending up more typical as organizations and government offices have begun to perceive the advantages of these frameworks. With enhanced coordination of advantages, speedier conveyance times and better armada administration, truck following frameworks can significantly enhance efficiencies.
  • Cost effective method: The GPS of trucks have the correct innovation and hardware to make it less demanding than at any other time for armada administration experts to adequately cut expenses and enhance benefit. This entire framework enables armada chiefs to watch vehicles remotely, getting data about vehicle area, bearing of movement and status of unit.
  • Facilitates efficient coordination of various trucks: Generally, the framework of a truck tracking GPS enables you to get to the measure of detail expected to watch and work on the undesirable patterns and decide and bring down fuel use. The truck tracking GPS gives constant information, with as low as 10 second interims, enabling armada administrators to coordinate their armadas productively.

With this urgent information, the present truck armadas can work as effectively as could reasonably be expected, surpassing client desires, cutting fuel utilize and enhancing wellbeing out and about. There is an increase in the availability of the specially constructed GPS systems that are designed to meet the needs and requirements of the truck drivers. Therefore, you must not settle for the mainstream GPS trackers. Moreover with the advancement of technology, you now have a plethora of best GPS for truck drivers to choose from!

Reading the future digital marketing trends

Digital marketing is a term that is used to refer to the ways of marketing products and services with the help of digital technology. While internet remains the number one medium of digital marketing, the others are mobile phones, display advertising and some other digital mediums.

Digital marketing saw major development round the 90s and 2000. Since then the brands and businesses have seen a sea change in the use of technology for marketing. With people using more and more digital marketing services are also seeing a constant rise. The digital marketing campaigns are increasingly getting popular and efficient as well and the digital platforms are now being increasingly used in the marketing plans of brands and businesses.

Popular digital marketing trends for 2018

  1. Content Marketing

Content marketing has stepped up in the last few years and has been helpful as well. It helps the customers to stay more informed, aware, educated as well as entertained. But in the rat race of increasing the content volume, there has been a lot of unnecessary content being published online.

  1. Live videos

There has been a sudden increase in the popularity of live videos after they were introduced in 2016. Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Instagram are all taking advantage of its success already. With their popularity on a constant rise, it is only obvious for the brands and businesses to get involved.

  1. Native advertising

While native advertising might sound like an old school fundamental, it is likely to gain prominence in 2017 due to the diminishing impact of other forms of advertisements. The main reasons for this diminishing impact are ad blockers, decline in banner ads, and reduced reach of social media. All this is bound to give a push to native advertising.

  1. Use of Big Data

While Big data is here for a few years now, it has not been used to its capacity. Various market researches indicate that Big data is all set to grow in the coming years. As the businesses continue to grow, its market is expected to increase from $1.7 billion in 2016 to $9.4 billion by the year 2020.

  1. Use of mobiles

This is a digital marketing trend that is popular ever since internet was introduced on cell phones and is predicted to be very much there for a number of years to come. The fact that the mobiles have taken over the use of desktop for internet use is a clear indicator that the use of mobiles as a marketing trend in the digital world is here to stay.

  1. Wearable technology

The wearable technology is definitely getting more popular in the coming year. the technology is going to improve, it will have more fans and the prices will come down slashing. Slow and steady use is predicted.

  1. Chatbots

Chatbots are definitely getting popular in 2017. Talking to faceless machines and getting one’s queries solved, getting support 24X7 or to say artificial intelligence is here to stay in 2017.

Increase Traffic with Best Digital Marketing Strategies

These increased visitors make your sales go up and results in positive way by a lot of profits. You are easily being able to achieve your goals and business goals. Your business website gets developed and updated. Here the company is developed and made them follow the right type of strategies by the use of chosen effective technology for the efficient solutions. Immediate results are experienced through their internet marketing strategies, and this is not limited, they update their technology through time.

The internet identity of your business will be escalating and popularity will develop and grow as well. The SEO here are low cost so you will not have type of problem related to finance while accessing through them. The ranking of your company can easily be raise through best selective measures. SEO offers all what all businessmen actually needs for the supreme and ultimate development of the business organization. These facilities are meant to be perfect for the small business organizations as well as medium sized business organizations. The entire success idea for the business is availed through the important strategies used here. Digital marketing services will turn your business to the right path and will offer you with qualified professional guidance and instant access for the marketing opportunities. The effectiveness of the business effectively increases through the search engine optimization services provided here. Choosing them is best option for all the businesses.

Pass your psychometric test

Education isn’t simply to peruse and compose. It is tied in with utilizing education for the own points of interest and to use the information for their progress.

Additionally one can lead their own existence without relying on others. It isn’t tied in with making individuals proficient, education is altogether a unique knowledge.

Proficiency is implied for capacity to peruse and compose, though education is discovering the purpose of everything and utilizing the reading and composing aptitudes to enhance their lives. It causes the nations to develop monetarily and treasure with flourishing.

To live immaculate life, education is vital for each person.

Why is education important and equal for everyone?

What is Education?

Education means to study various types of subjects to pick up information and understanding and endeavoring to apply it in everyday life.

Education isn’t just the book information but it also means to pick up something for all intents and purposes. The education doesn’t intend to simply go schools and universities day by day and go to exams, it is implied by social affair information relating it to our lives.

Indeed, even a robot can read and compose, however, individual uses the information admirably. It makes an individual, something more than he was actually given. Education isn’t just to utilize ourselves, yet additionally, it can be utilized to enhance other people lives.

The benefits of education

The significance of education for each individual is to live autonomously and to pick up flexibility. In any capacity, education will ensure a man both monetarily and furthermore to carry on with their life on their foot.

It permits to set gauges of life. It will give savvy information to comprehend the consequences of wrong choices and help to discover elective ways.

It will run the uneducated people and shield the world from the perils caused by them and enable them to enhance the life to style by executing laws to control them in the event of any bad conduct. It will see every single individual part and duty to fabricate the general public.

For a cutting-edge society, education is imperative. The old estimations of knowledge and morals have been clearing gradually so it is the opportune time to get taught with instilling the history to the understudies.

There is no place one can show culture, education in the correct procedure to change the way of life to present-day society. It is the ideal stage to form a man into an entire pioneer with all the human feelings, qualities and legacy.

Nowadays understudies are impacted by a portion of the awful occasions that are occurring the world over, so it is important to create them in an impeccable way.

To pass your psychometric test get linked to HIGH Q

Welcome to high Q, the world-class web-based learning platform. The high Q Online Learning entry gives a door to people, in general, to get to psychometric test. This site does not have any immediate learning content, but instead pulls together and records courses and taking in materials from educators, focuses, schools, libraries, and activities on the Israel grounds.

Regardless of whether you are a long-lasting student seeking after individual and scholarly premiums, a right now selected understudy, or an instructor or scientist, we welcome you to investigate web-based learning at High Q.

While nothing can supplant the immediate, individual corporations of grounds based training, by exploiting new advancements and research-based instructional method we can improve educating and learning on the web.

In addition, our sense of duty regarding value approaches us to make successful, available roads for individuals who want to learn.

We are anxious to draw the consideration, commitment, and duty of students all over the world, giving instructive contributions that are unparalleled in broadness, profundity, and quality.

Want to give the psychometric exam?

The psychometric test is one of the obstacles that must be passed while in transit to admission to scholastic establishments. Before it was standard just in admissions to colleges, yet today most universities additionally utilize the test. Following the appeal for a first degree, the scholastic bodies likewise raised the asked for an edge.

The request likewise prompted the thriving of numerous schools that set up the understudies for the exam, which adjusted to the requests of the scholastic organizations and the level of understudies. To this end, they opened different investigation tracks, adjusted to the understudies and to the accomplishment required for them.

Be that as it may, the change proposed by HIGH Q isn’t just at the substance level, however primarily at the level of duty. HIGH Q has chosen to set out on an inventive learning model in Israel:

If you don’t accomplish a high score in the psychometric exam, we will discount your cash. Moreover, without precedent for Israel, we founded another pay methodology for our educators, which we effectively work in other instructive organizations of our parent organization (GUS) on the planet.

HIGH Q remunerates its educators as per the achievement of their understudies in the examination and not as indicated by the number of understudies in the class, and subsequently makes a more profound duty of the instructor to the evaluations that his students will get, so the understudy gets an instructor who is well beyond his prosperity.

How does this really happen?

Computation of the educational cost expenses depends on the review of the examination. On the off chance that it doesn’t surpass the national norm, for instance, it gets a discount of 25% of the full educational cost, which is additionally considered appealing.

This consolidated move, in which the understudy feels safe in his learning condition, as well as on the off chance that he doesn’t succeed, he will get a portion of his cash back to.

So, you don’t have to worry, if you, in the case does not pass the psychometric test. One-fourth of your cash will be given back.

But at high Q, we have the agenda that student must get interactive and thorough learning so that they can pass the test.

Tips for finding sleep chairs

If you need to have sleep chairs, it is important that you ensure you do all you can to have the best. You will benefit a lot if you try to select the best ones. You need to be careful since it will not be easy for one to have the best ones if you are not carfull. It may be challenging because you will come across several categories of sleep chairs. You need to do a lot therefore in order to have the best sleep chairs chosen. Hence at RankDome.com you will find some options that you will need to consider in order to have the best sleep chairs.

  1. Comfort levels

If you really need to have the best from the sleep chairs that you get, you need to look at their comfort levels. By doing this, you will have an ample time while looking for the best sleep chairs. In order to know the comfort levels of different sleep chairs, you will need to have a test on each chair. It will be easy this way therefore for you to have the best ones that will offer you the best services. It will not take you a lot of time to know the comfort level of the sleep chairs that you come across.

  1. Durability

When looking for sleep chairs, you will need to look at the lifespan that it has in doing this, you will find it very easy to have the best ones that will give you the best serving exprience. It is important that you do all what you can in order to have a chance of getting the best sleep chairs. There is a lot that you need to know in order to understand the durability of different sleep chairs that are available. You will benefit a lot if you get sleep chairs that will serve you for a long time.

  1. Settings

It is important that you ensure that you get sleep chairs that have some heat settings. You need to ensure that you get the right sleep chairs that have the right heat settings in that you will regulate the heat as you desire. You need to ensure that you are careful when looking for such chairs. You will benefit in many ways if you look for the sleep chair that has very good heat settings. You need to do this in order to have a chance of benefiting a lot from it.

It is important that you do all what you can in order to help you have the best sleep chairs and one such way is visiting our site RankDome.com to find more of it. You will benefit in many ways if you look for the best sleep chairs that have various features that you would prefer. It is important that you ensure you are careful in order to avoid making wrong choices. You will benefit in many ways if you choose the right sleep chairs. It is important that you put efforts while looking for sleep chairs. The above content will help you a lot. There comes the time when normal recliner is not enough for treating you in a way you actually deserve. At an end of a day, after all work. You want something much better than boring lift chair, you are sitting there for years.

Something, which is relaxing, comfy, and gives you best reclining positions and with no effort. One product, is sleep chair. The chair isn’t just the typical lift chair. When I say, I mean this is used as the medical, lift, sleeper, and as the semi-massager. The chair has got the great combination of the features, which makes this worth for the people who need it medically, and for ones that are searching for the normal use. No, chair does not fly! Nor it makes you to hover or go weightless. However, zero gravity refers to the position that will distribute equally your weight throughout your body. Result? The stress free body! This something that actually works very well, even the NASA uses this to help their astronauts to cope with huge G-force when rocket launch. However, do not worry, you do not need to be in the space rocket in order to get benefit from the feature. The chair’s zero gravity will help you to fall asleep quickly and longer time. That makes this perfect option in the sleeper chairs. Furthermore, assuming in the zero gravity will better your blood circulation in the body. That in its own, has the good number of the health benefits. You will find good chair at RankDome.com and this sleep chair is best recliner to take the nap in the winters. What else you can want for while you have the sleeper chair with the warm cushions as well as adjustable positions in the cold winters night ?

When do I need Roofers Toronto?

A roofer will be needed whenever repairs and alterations are made to the roofs of a house. A roof that lets the water and cold outside pass through can lead to a series of problems inside a house; for that reason, the experience of a professional is essential. A roofer will also be needed if the roof has been damaged or used so much that replacement is the only possible solution. A house will not be completely stable if the roof does not protect it from the outside. It is for this reason that roofers are among the most important construction professionals.

What does a roofer do exactly?

A roofer repair maintains and replaces roofs of all types. They work in existing properties, but they are also part of construction teams in housing construction projects as well as in commercial premises. The roofer uses a combination of knowledge of general construction and carpentry skills to ensure that the homes are fully protected. Your task involves climbing roofs of all sizes and shapes, so you should be comfortable with heights. The roofer estimates the damage and maintenance needs before going to work with the basic work to repair the roof. You can find roofers in the surroundings through the directory of professionals on the website of Roofers Toronto.

What types of roofers are there?

Depending on the style and age of the property in question, the roofers need to have a set of particular skills to carry out the maintenance and repair tasks safely and effectively. It is essential that you hire the services of those roofers who have the knowledge necessary to manage your home in particular. A roofer adjusts repairs and maintains the tiles of a roof. The tiles constitute an overlapping roof that can be made of wood, slate, metal, plastic, asphalt, ceramic or composite materials. The roofer must assess whether the individual tiles should be replaced or repaired.

If you cannot, you will remove all the tiles from a roof along with the waterproof material. Then, it will ensure that the roof structure is in optimal conditions to house new tiles. The lower layer is fixed to the roof before the eaves and edges are placed. By using an adhesive material, usually asphalt, the roofers carefully arrange the tiles overlapping the entire roof before adding the additional tiles to the ridge. Metal roofers place extremely durable sheets and metal panels over ceilings. These sheets are normally made of stainless steel, copper and zinc, which provides a pleasing aesthetic with a simple maintenance that can last for decades. The metal roofers put the roof in place through metal screws, once they have taken the necessary measures to prevent condensation.

Roofers of flat or single-layer roofs specialize in the repair, maintenance and replacement of flat roofs, that is, those that do not have sloping surfaces on the sides that reach a vertex. It is a very specialized job since those flat roofs that have been installed incorrectly can lead to puddles of water, humidity and important damages. Roofers of flat roofs use a variety of supplies to ensure total resistance against water, which includes the use of gravel and tar, laminated lead and rubber. Roofers with flat roofs must ensure that the surface is completely sealed and that there are no tightness or wrinkles that can lead to puddles of water. In many cases, an individual sheet is used to cover a flat roof,

Roofers with hot roofs use hot tar to adjust and seal roofs. This work is relatively dangerous since the material used is at a very high temperature. Therefore, a specialized application and thermal equipment is required, as well as safety equipment.

How can I find the most suitable roofer for my project?

With homily, it is very easy to find the perfect roofer for your needs. We put at your disposal a complete directory of roofers and contractors drawn up according to their knowledge, their location and their service listings. The roofing directory of Roofers Toronto will be enough to locate roofing specialists, so you will not need to look elsewhere to hire the specialized services your home needs.

What aspects should I take into account when choosing a roofer?

The first aspect you should consider when choosing a roofer is to find out what type of roof your property has or what type of roof you would like to have. Roofers often have a specialty area, such as the installation of flat roofs, so it is always best to hire a professional with proven experience in adjusting and maintaining the type of roof you want. Some roofers will say that they are specialized in all types of roofs, but it is always better to opt for professionals who can demonstrate their trajectory in ceilings of a specific type. Some experts are specialized in repair and maintenance, while others mainly manage new installations or replacements. Use the Roofers Toronto website to compare roofers before reducing your chances to three or four candidates.

How much do the services of a roofer cost?

Do not choose the cheapest option before checking if the professional is the most appropriate. There are numerous types of roofers, so the most important thing is to choose an option that really fits the type of work that is going to be done. That said, you should be able to save money by using the Roofers Toronto website, which allows you to compare the prices charged by roofers in the area. But remember: the installation and repair of a roof is a specialized job that requires knowledge and experience. Although hiring a specialized roofer may be expensive, keep in mind that the purpose is to protect your property, and a job well done can save you a lot of money in the long term.

What other professionals do I need for the construction project of my house?

The repair, construction or replacement of a roof does not only require a competent and qualified roofer; sometimes you will find that you also need the services of other construction professionals.

5 good wireless dog fences that you should consider

Dogs are man’s best friend, and it is the utmost priority of every dog owner to love and care for their dog. caring includes a number of things like their food, their health, security, and safety.

When it comes to pet safety and security, we talk about the fences. While wooden or metal fences are the traditional ways of keeping dogs in, wireless dog fences are the new face of pet safety.

We will discuss 5 good wireless dog fences, that are suitable for your dog and will help you keep your pet safe and secure.

What are wireless dog fences?

While the conventional fences provide the physical barrier for your dog, the wireless dog fences provide an invisible boundary that is almost impossible to cross. This boundary works by static electric signals that give your dog a mild shock whenever he tries to go over the boundary. As soon as the dog steps back into the safe zone, the shock ends. This gives a sense of reward to the dog and he soon learns this new behavior that whenever he is shocked he has to step back.

The intensity of correction type:

The shock is so mild and gentle that it will not pain or harm or your dog but only act as a gentle vibration feeling to alarm him. Despite this, some people still don’t like the idea of their dogs being shocked. In that case, you can use a beep alarm along with the shock. By the association of these two, your dog will soon learn to step away from the boundary at the sound of the alarm and then you can turn off the shock settings.

How to choose what’s best for you and your dog:

There are so many brands and models available in the market so you have a wide range of variety to choose from. But it becomes hard because finding a single product that best suits your needs can be a challenging job. So, we are here to help you. We have compiled 5 good wireless dog fences systems, that you can view and choose the best from.

Pet Safe Free to Roam is a well-known brand in the market of wireless dog defense systems. It comes with a powerful low volt battery and lasts for about 30 days. The device is waterproof so your dog can play in the puddles and get all muddy that he wants without the fear of damaging the device. It comes with five levels of stimulation, so you can adjust the setting as your own will.

Our next candidate in the 5 good wireless dog fences systems is the PetSafe Stay + Play. It is a very efficient wireless dog fence system with a rechargeable battery that can last up to 3 weeks from only one charge. It provides a protection boundary of up to 3 feet so your dog can play and mess around all that he wants while staying in the safe zone. It can protect dogs weighing up to 5 pounds and having a neck size of about 6 to 28 inches. See this is a very wide range so it can protect many kinds of dogs ranging from little Chihuahua or the big giant shepherds etc.

When talking about 5 good wireless dog fences systems, it is not possible to not mention the famous PetSafe PIF-300. It is one of the most used and liked dog fence system among the users. It comes with a nonchargeable six-volt battery lasting for up to 30 days. The biggest advantage of using this dog fence system is that it can protect dogs weighing as much as 8 pounds which means it can support more weighed dogs than the previously mentioned systems. The system is waterproof to allow your dog to play and roam freely as he wants. It can support an unlimited number of dogs which means that if your dog has guests over your wireless dog fence system will protect them too.

Another bright name when talking about the 5 good wireless dog fence systems is Border Patrol TC1 GPS. It comes with a rechargeable battery. One of the biggest merits of using this system is that it has about 50 stimulation intensity levels so you can set up to any level what you want. Moreover, in addition to the tone and static correction types to alarm the dog, this system also comes with a vibration mode. That can set off vibration to alarm your dog and train him. So, the people who don’t like their dogs to be shocked, they can use this vibration tech to train their dog to stay out of harm.

If you move around a lot and always have to worry about the safety of your dog in a new land, then this amazing dog fence system can take care of your dog so you can work and enjoy without the tension of your dog’s security.

Your dog will be safe and will be shocked mildly every time he tries to leave that invisible fence.

Al of these 5 good wireless dog fence systems is cost-effective and reliable. They go easy on your budget and will even prove to be cheaper than installing a wooden fence or buying a portable metal fence. Wireless fences are more efficient, they provide you more safety and security without spending a lot of money.

One of the few drawbacks of using wireless dog defense system is that if there are any obstacles present in the area you have set up the invisible boundary, then the static electric shock correction can be interrupted and deteriorated. the efficacy might be compromised in the presence of bushes and shrubs. But it won’t prove to be much of a problem when setting it up in a home yard or garden or an open beach.

So, read the reviews about the 5 good wireless dog fence systems and make your own choice.

All about the Nexxus Aloe Rid

Many times the battered, dull, unruly, frizzy, frizzy and dehydrated hair is a response to a hair infection. The hair is constantly in contact with external aggressors that can infect it to the point of weakening it, drying it and turning it into a nightmare. Many times, our hair instead of needing more products, what it demands is its detoxification. There are shampoos and masks based on excellent natural ingredients to purify hair, make it grow and eliminate fat. Well, I used Nexxus Aloe Rid for my hair drug test! Environmental pollution, climate changes and shampoo and conditioner residues that accumulate in the hair fibre are the main causes of hair poisoning. To recover your strands and boast a healthy mane in a How we tell you how to detoxify the hair naturally. Just like I used Nexxus Aloe Rid for my hair drug test, you must also use it!

Steps to follow that I used Nexxus Aloe Rid for my hair drug test:

One of the most common solutions to detoxify hair naturally is to change shampoo. It may be time to offer other types of nutrients to your hair, but to receive them correctly, it is necessary to disinfect each strand and scalp. You can achieve this by using a neutral shampoo that offers a thorough cleaning of the hair and a considerable disinfection of your scalp. Use it for at least one month and then change it to a moisturizing shampoo. If the problem persists: there are more solutions!

Another alternative to detoxify the hair naturally is to perform a treatment with sodium bicarbonate. This detoxification consists of mixing a cup of baking soda with three cups of hot water. Get in the shower, wet your hair and apply the baking soda mixture trying to cover all the hair. Massage your scalp well with the mixture as if you were washing your hair with shampoo and after squeezing all the hair well, wash with plenty of cold water. Baking soda is one of the best remedies to detoxify hair naturally because it allows eliminating any trace of dirt and residue leaving the hair completely clean. Do not apply conditioner and carefully untangle your hair so it does not split. The next day, wash your hair with a new shampoo, preferably moisturizing.

Apple cider vinegar is also used to detoxify hair naturally. If you opt for this option, you should mix a cup of apple cider vinegar with a glass of water and apply it to your hair dry and clean like a hair mask. Massage the scalp well and let the mixture act for 20 minutes, if you want you can apply hot air for better penetration. Then, rinse your hair only with cold water and do not worry about the smell of vinegar, it disappears in a few minutes.

There are moisturizing masks that also help to detoxify the hair naturally. Mix half an avocado and mix with the juice of half a lemon, half a cup of apple cider vinegar, half a cup of sunflower oil and two tablespoons of honey. Then, apply on clean and moist hair and massage your scalp. Leave on for half an hour and then rinse with plenty of cold water.

The detoxifying action of the anterior mask is due to lemon juice. The lemon is one of the most antioxidant fruits that exist and this property helps to detoxify the hair. Add the juice of three lemons to half a litre of mineral water. Then apply to the hair massaging the scalp and let it rest for 20 minutes. Then rinse with plenty of cold water. Avoid using tap water to prevent excess sodium from further weakening or intoxicating your hair.

The olive oil has moisturizing properties for the hair that can help to give it shine and softness after detoxifying it. Make a mask by heating in a glass container half a cup of olive oil, 1/4 of crushed avocado, three tablespoons of honey and three of almond oil. Then, wait until the mixture is warm and apply to your wet and clean mane by massaging the scalp and spreading it all over the hair. After 15 minutes, wash your hair with cold water.

After I used Nexxus Aloe Rid for my hair drug test, it is important to change shampoo. If you continue using the same products, it is likely that your hair will become intoxicated again. It prefers a moisturizing shampoo, which contains vitamin B (biotin) to help regenerate the strands and does not contain sodium or sulfates. How much would you say you spend on cleaning your hair? It is no secret that the beauty industry makes millions with this type of product, and despite this, you often do not get the hair you expect. Many times this is because you need to detoxify your hair. Sometimes, the only thing your hair needs is to be free of the chemicals in those products for a few days.

The following shampoos and masks reduce hair loss and dry ends disappear, among other benefits. We invite you to try all the options and then choose your favourites. You will see how in a short time your hair looks much better. But out of them the Nexxus Aloe Rid for my hair drug test is the best!

I used Nexxus Aloe Rid for my hair drug test- This shampoo is perfect to detoxify the hair and moisturize the scalp. It is important to note that you might notice a slight discolouration because of the lemon, so you should avoid it if you are concerned about the fact that your hair is no longer dark. Another benefit of this shampoo is that you will notice that your scalp will stop itching and discomfort. To pass a hair follicle drug test has never been easier. Our Test ‘in the research team has developed a line full of hair follicle purification formulas with proven results.

Facial cleansing and acne treatment

Most of us have suffered, at one time or another, the effects of acne. More than 80% of the population, between the onset of puberty and well into adulthood, has experienced this inflammatory disease. The medical term for these defects is common acne also known as acne vulgaris and is a common condition of the skin, caused by changes in the pilosebaceous unit. These units are the structures of the skin consisting of a hair follicle and the associated sebaceous gland. The changes produced are caused by the stimulation of the androgen, which is a steroid hormone, such as testosterone. This condition takes the form of cutaneous eruptions, both inflammatory (in its most severe forms) and non-inflammatory. The acne vulgaris tends to affect more seriously skin areas with a higher density of sebaceous follicles. These areas usually include the face, upper chest and back. Acne treatment Singapore is so far the best!

The acne lesions are commonly referred to as pimples, blemishes, blackheads, acne and pimples or simply in some cases cause permanent scarring. Skin cleansing, also known as facial hygiene, is an indispensable routine both for hygiene and to keep the skin of the face more luminous. External factors, such as environmental pollution, and internal factors, such as stress or tobacco, the passage of time and makeup, make our skin lose its vitality. If we do not take care of it, its appearance deteriorates and loses the freshness of youth. And, obviously, it also gets dirty.

Why does the skin get dirty?

The sebaceous glands produce a fatty substance called sebum, which empties on the surface of the skin, through the orifices of the polysebaceous follicles. Many times this sebum along with bacteria and cells plug the opening of the mouth of the skin, they accumulate in the pores and form blackheads, pimples and imperfections in the skin. The dark colour of the open granites does not have to do with the lack of hygiene; it is the consequence of the deposit of a pigment (melanin). To avoid the normal evolutionary progression of granite, it is vital to cleanse the skin. But not only that: it is also necessary to perform it before any other facial treatment to obtain a better result.

The type of skin is important

Before performing professional facial cleansing, our professionals will evaluate your skin type to adjust the treatment to your needs.

  1. Dry skin: hardly has impurities, is usually tight and tends to the formation of scales and wrinkles. The pores, in general, are not very noticeable, the surface of the skin looks dull and dehydrated.
  2. Oily skin: it is characterized by large and open pores. The skin is thick, its surface is moist and has good hydration.
  3. The mixed skin: it is usually fat in the “T” area of the face while in the cheekbones it is rough and tight.

From there, it is time to perform facial cleansing, which will significantly improve the health and appearance of your skin. Let’s see acne treatment singapore step by step.

Step 1: cleaning

To begin, remove the remains of makeup and impurities that may have your skin.

Step 2: exfoliation (peeling)

We disincrustate the deepest impurities, by means of a peeling or exfoliation!

Step 3: ozone steam

We open the pores and blackheads, to soften the comedones and microcysts with the help of ozone vapour. This makes the difference when it comes to treating the skin better. That’s why when you extract black spots at home, it costs more and is much more aggressive and painful than when we do it in acne treatment Singapore

Step 4: extraction

We remove the unwanted black spots without damaging the skin, with care, care and expertise.

Step 5: high frequency

After the extraction, we close the pores, we cauterize and oxygenate the skin, to decongest and deflate it. Because, although we have all the care and delicacy of the world, with any process of facial hygiene the skin tires and suffers a little!

Step 6: facial massage

At acne treatment Singapore a make an extensive and pleasant massage on the face, neck and neckline to restore the smoothness to your skin, and for you to relax.

Step 7: mask

The last step is to nourish the skin. For this, we apply the most suitable mask to the type of skin based on natural active ingredients to rebalance it and make you feel good.

What do you get with a professional facial cleaning?

After performing a professional facial cleaning in you get your skin is smooth, smooth, and completely clean, like the actresses of the movies. And there is a remarkable change: your skin changes from being off, dry or too greasy, to being like porcelain: soft, shiny and healthy. After the exfoliation, if we like to remove the pimples and black spots, it is the only time allowed. If we do it at any other time, we will hurt the skin and create more infections.

REMEMBER THAT…

  • A homemade facial cleaning does not replace a professional facial hygiene.
  • The frequency of facial hygiene depends on each type of skin, but it is recommended that it be carried out, at least, one with each change of season. If you want to know when your skin needs a deep cleaning, based on your own facial evidence and not on the calendar, click here.
  • You must not extract the black dots yourself because when you squeeze the face you can become inflamed and injured.
  • Each type of skin requires daily care with specific cosmetic products that are better adapted to each need. It is advisable to use cosmetic products, either moisturizers or makeup, oil-free and hypoallergenic, to prevent more black spots from arising and irritating the skin.
  • A good daily hydration prevents ageing and provides elasticity to the skin.

So you know: if you want to renew your facial image, come to acne treatment Singapore to have a full facial cleansing and acne treatment Singapore to leave a face. In addition, if you wish you can enjoy on the same occasion our wide range of facials available. Ask for acne treatment singapore and we will tell you which one best fits you.

Are you thinking of buying a second-hand car?

Do you have the idea of selling your vehicle to an unknown individual? Follow these steps and take the necessary precautions to buy or sell your used car. The buying and selling of cars are around business for scammers who operate. The deceptions they carry out to profit illegally are becoming more varied and creative, so it is not at all complicated to fall into the trap. Below, at used cars in fontana detail the most common scams both by sellers and buyers who are engaged in cheating in this sector. We also give you a series of tips and precautions that you should take to avoid these scams and buy or sell a used car successfully. It is important that, when making an operation of this type, you stay alert and do not trust anyone. Discover the picaresque of criminals and avoid fraud in the sale of second-hand vehicles.

Guide to buying a Second-Hand vehicle

You have to separate very well the deceptions that you can find and the precautions you can take as a driver. If you read carefully the following sections, it will be very difficult to buy a second-hand car you frog.

Most frequent scams buying a second-hand car

We are willing to buy a second-hand car to save money. However, as we are not attentive to the following scams, the cheap can be very expensive. On the Internet, you cannot trust anyone! But you can trust used cars in fontana!

The car is abroad

After a while browsing the net, we found the ideal car. The price is consistent and the model is what we were looking for. Our first reason for suspicion comes when we contact the seller of the vehicle. Therefore, the seller proposes that you contact a specific transport agency to send the vehicle from abroad. It could be a reason more than enough to suspect, although it is true that there are cases in which this is not necessarily a scam. However, on several occasions, the deception is manifest.

Once you have paid the shipping costs, you find out that the transport agency that the seller proposes does not exist. A resource widely used to make possible the deception is the false web pages that the scammers themselves create. Then, the information of the seller, the car and the transport agency disappears. You run out of a vehicle and, on top of that, you lose a significant amount of money. Do not trust anyone who acts in this way!

Used cars with a very low price

It is a technique that can be quite obvious, but that is tremendously effective. This scam forces you to suspect all that bargain that you locate on the Internet. On certain occasions, scammers advertise a vehicle for sale at a price lower than its real value. When you get in touch with him, he explains that he is willing to sell you but that there are a lot of people interested in the car, since it is very well priced. In addition, anyone who wants to contemplate the vehicle is with the refusal to see it, since the seller claims to be outside. Of course, this person knows how to play with the future buyer, since he promises that if he leaves the corresponding signal, he keeps the vehicle exclusively for him. Here the scam becomes effective. The seller seizes the buyer’s signal and then all the data disappears. Therefore, you should never give a signal of something you have not bought!

Odometer manipulation

It is the deception that occurs most in the sale of vehicles. The mileage of the car is manipulated so that it can be sold at a higher price than it deserves. If you do not take the necessary precautions, you may think that the car you have bought second hand is less trotted than it really is.

You buy the car but … it’s stolen!

Another frequent fraud for the buyer of used cars is the acquisition of a stolen car. The scammer offers the vehicle at a low price and puts all the necessary facilities to teach the car. The scam falls into the trap and buys the car. The surprise comes, when soon after, the police get in touch with him … This situation can be avoided by consulting the appropriate means!

Verify that the car is free of loads

It has a cost of 8 euros. But your euros could be better spent than the whole operation. You only need the license plate and go to the DGT to request the corresponding extended traffic report. In it, you can check if the car is free of charges if it is seized – in which case you could not put the car in your name until these charges are released – and even if it is a stolen car. You can also check the number of real owners that the car in question has had. What does not always coincide with what the seller tells us or what we read in the second-hand ad?

It is also very important that you verify that the person selling you the car is authorized to do so – either the owner or a person authorized in writing. And, above all, forget about the bargains whose seller is supposedly abroad. That is very clear what the payment system is. Whether it is a professional or a private individual, be especially careful with these types of details so that you do not suffer headaches. If you signal a vehicle do not forget to claim a receipt. And if you are going to pay in cash, specify it in the purchase agreement. If problems arise later, it is better to have everything in writing.

In case you have not been able to check the vehicle or signed the contract, you should never lose a euro from your pocket. The scammers take advantage of the minimum outbreak of confidence to get the money of honest and innocent people. Do not worry and buy the car from used cars in fontana; we assure at used cars in fontana we offer the best cars and the best deals.

What should I learn about Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs)?

What is the best thing about performing the STD tests? For once overcome, your mind can rest. STD tests are a regular part of health care that you should attend as a responsible person. In addition, STD tests are quick, painless, and sometimes even free. It is important to know that if not treated properly, some STDs can cause serious health problems. Suffering from recurrent sexual transmission diseases can be a risk factor for cervical cancer in women. If you need to do tests, because you suspect having a sexually transmitted disease, there are many cheap std testing!

Information on sexually transmitted diseases

As the name suggests, these are infectious diseases that we infect through sexual contact. To prevent any sexually transmitted disease – as well as unwanted pregnancies – the most effective measure is condom use, and since the beginning of the sexual relationship.

Sexually transmitted diseases

In the middle ages, epidemics such as syphilis or gonorrhoea made real havoc, bringing the death of hundreds of thousands of people. To all of which we must add a new plague: AIDS, a sexually transmitted disease that has caused thousands of deaths since the late twentieth century.

Currently, there is a disease in the world that all relates to sex and has managed to shift from the attention of men and women to diseases that were traditionally associated with sexual relationships. We refer to AIDS or Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome, the epidemic that has been afflicting humanity for more than twenty years. The concern for AIDS has left aside the dissemination of information about these other diseases that until a few years ago were known as “venereal diseases”. Nowadays, a good part of them has been almost eradicated in the western world. However, there are still sexually transmitted diseases that create some discomfort, itching, burning and other more serious problems.

At present 30 types of STDs are known, of which 26 attack mainly women and 4 both sexes and for all this we have cheap std testing! This transmission is bidirectional, meaning that the contagion is reciprocal, in all forms of sexual contact. The signs or symptoms of infection can be different in men and women:

  • Women may have yellowish or greenish discharge, perhaps with a bad smell or pain in the vulva, need to urinate more frequently and pain or burning when doing so, pain during intercourse. It can also happen that the woman does not have any symptoms of the infection.
  • Men may have pain in the penis, yellowish or greenish discharge that stains their underwear by the penis, burning when urinating, lumps in the groin. It is also common that they do not show any symptoms of the infection, so if one of the partners was diagnosed with an STD, both must comply with the treatment indicated by the / medic.
  • Both male and female can have ulcers on the genitals, warts, blisters, swollen glands, lesions type “welts” small in any area of the body, especially in the palms of the and the soles of the feet.

Gonorrhoea

It is one of the Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) most widespread. Nowadays it is much more widespread than syphilis. An estimated 400 million people are infected with gonorrhoea every year. It is a microorganism -gonococcus- that is contagious through sexual contact and that is not capable of living outside the human being. It occurs when bacteria invade the tissues of the reproductive and excretory system, producing inflammation and painful urination. Finally, they invade the blood and can cause a generalized infection.

Chlamydia

It is the most widespread STD among women is non-specific urethritis, better known as chlamydia. It is a microorganism whose size is halfway between a bacterium and a virus. Like viruses, chlamydia is a parasite that can only reproduce within the cells of a living host.

Candidiasis

Vulvovaginal candidiasis is the second most common cause of vaginal infection. It mainly affects women between 20 and 40 years old. Vulvovaginitis due to candidiasis is caused by the excessive growth of a fungus that is normally present in the vaginal flora. It is the yeast Candida Albicans (80-90%), although there are also other yeasts, such as Candida glabrata and Candida tropicalis. It is a fungus that develops in the muscular tissues of the vagina and sometimes in the penis. In women, there is intense itching and a whitish vaginal discharge.

Trichomoniasis

Trichomoniasis is a disease of transmission caused by a parasite, a flagellated protozoan called “Trichomonas vaginalis”, which causes infections in the vagina of women and infections in the urethra of men. Trichomoniasis is transmitted through sexual intercourse – vaginal, anal or oral – with a partner already infected, women contract the disease of other men as well as other women, and however, in the case of men it is not the same since they can only contract the disease through sex with infected women. This is so because the disease cannot survive either in the rectum or in the mouth, therefore it is only transmitted through vulva-vulva contact or penis-vagina.

Pregnant women who are infected with Trichomoniasis have risky pregnancies and can give birth to babies with low birth weight or premature babies. For them there is this cheap std testing! In the case of women, the symptoms of the infection appear in the form of Sparkling vaginal discharge with a very strong odour. Vaginal discharge is unusual, abundant, light green or grey, with bubbles and bad smell. Itching burning and redness of the vulva and vagina, you want to urinate very often.

Genital herpes

Another STD frequent among women genital herpes. The symptoms begin to feel a week after having sexual contact causing the infection. The man feels a strong stinging in the penis or anus, appearing sores and blisters. The woman feels itching and stinging on the lips and entrance of the vagina. Sometimes these localized symptoms are joined by other symptoms similar to those of the flu, such as fever, headache and back pain. The itch takes you to scratch. The area soon reddens and the first sores begin to appear, which give way to red ulcers. And many more diseases are there and for them many cheap std testing is also present!

Real estate agents have got something new for you – Live Chat for Real Estate Agents

Real estate agents work with clients who want to sell land or properties (sellers) and those who want to buy them (buyers). They are in charge of organizing the sale of properties. Many also offer property management services. Real estate companies can specialize in residential, commercial, industrial or agricultural properties. Real estate agents specializing in residential property control the sale and purchase of houses and apartments. However, they can also coordinate the sale and purchase of land, hotels and guest houses, and property rental management.

Commercial estate agents work with a wide range of properties, including offices, shops and entertainment venues. The agents specialize and seeing and making the deals of home and the properties that you want to buy, sell, or are looking for it! Real estate agents are responsible for collecting information about the property, assessing its current market value, taking photographs and preparing sales details. The value of a property depends on its characteristics, such as the size, year of construction and the conditions in which it is located. So what do you think, is not it a good idea to opt for Live Chat for Real Estate Agents.

Residential real estate agents should also consider other factors, such as whether the property has a garage or garden, or nearby local services, such as stores, sports centres, schools, and public transportation. Commercial property transactions are similar to residential transactions, although they usually involve large sums of money, more complicated negotiations and greater technical knowledge. There are several factors that are taken into account when working with values, such as the possibility of parking and the infrastructure of roads and railways.

Most real estate agents also act as negotiators between buyers and sellers. They help buyers decide what they want to buy, advise on the amount of money they can borrow, ensure that an acceptable price is agreed upon for both the buyer and the seller, and organize the transaction. It’s about being in the right place at the right time. Are your agents available when visitors to your website have questions about financing or a specific announcement posted on their website?

Live Chat for Real Estate Agents offers real estate and mortgage agents, as well as other professionals in the real estate sector, the availability for direct online assistance that will allow them to speak with potential customers on the website of your company and answer your questions. Live Chat for Real Estate Agents represents both agents and website visitors an easy way to establish initial contact, exchange information and make an appointment to come see the property.

Live Chat for Real Estate Agents offers the option of monitoring the website which allows commercials to see what ads are being watched by potential customers and for how long they do it. Agents can invite website visitors to the chat at any time to discuss the type of property or home they are looking for. Then, the commercial can take advantage of this opportunity to increase the interest of the client in the advertisements in which it has been fixed.

Live Chat for Real Estate Agents chat is very easy to use. When visitors to your website need help or want to ask a question, they simply click on the Live Chat button on the website that will open a private messaging window. The client will fill in the information fields that you have previously defined, add a question and then click on the “Start chat” button. The operator will receive the chat request and review the data provided. In case of accepting the request, the operator can communicate with the client in real time through text messages.

We have;

  • Ability to negotiate
  • Ability to ask relevant questions
  • Organizational capabilities

The real estate agent must be able to interact with their customers online.

Very few real estates online have this personalized service from their website. The advantage of having a live chat is that it allows you to interact in real time with your visitors to create a unique experience. By being able to chat in real time, you have the possibility to answer questions and arrange meetings from your website, saving time for both parties. With Live Chat for Real Estate Agents, the question arises: is it necessary to be in front of the computer all the time? And the answer is that it is not necessary since the live chat service can also be attended from an application that is installed on your cell phone or your tablet and with this; you can serve your visitors from wherever you are.

The chat not only works when the user activates it, we can also activate it and the tool provides us with a history of conversations, with which we can see the previous conversations of each visitor and not repeat processes, which finally end up deteriorating the quality of the service. This tool is very complete and has essential advantages for our visitor service strategy, which from current trends are essential on the Internet; not to mention that you can open the chat from any computer and use it without being a computer expert. On numerous occasions, it has been said, that a real estate agent only limits himself to charging high fees and that’s it. Well, we want to deny that saying and explain our way of working in our own way.

We are available 24 hours a day.

Although it may seem a lie, it is a reality; we ourselves have received calls from customers even at 12 o’clock at night. The mobile is part of us, at any time of the day there may be a visit to a home, an owner who wants to talk about the situation of their property, a customer who needs information … So every day of the year, even on vacation. Let’s say we never forget that we are real estate agents.

The structure of SILO in SEO : Everything you need to know

The theory says that this silo architecture gives more relevance to keywords, and by making life easier for the user and Google, it improves the SEO of the web, so it is an SEO-oriented optimisation on-page. We will give you details for Building a Web Site Using A Silo Structure. Now, neither is it easy to implement nor is there a consensus on its real usefulness. Since the reputed SEO Bruce Clay proposed the system in 2003, it has been tested successfully on many occasions … and has also been questioned. Google, too, has modified and evolved its algorithm since then, so not all existing information is updated today.

Why Building a Web Site Using A Silo Structure?

So we will have to go a little deeper into the silo structures to answer the question that interests everyone: Does the silo architecture improve SEO? For this, you must first know how to create it.

Building a Web Site Using A Silo Structure

To create silo architecture on your website, you must take into account three factors: keywords, structure and links.

1 – The keywords for Building a Web Site Using A Silo Structure

For this, to work, you need to search and study the families of keywords that you will use and isolate in each silo. The necessary tools for Building a Web Site Using A Silo Structure for this are the usual ones:

  • Google Keyword Planner, to see monthly search volumes of each keyword, and choose the main ones. To remove long-tail keywords derived from the main ones.
  • It is not that you have to look for keywords for a whole year, but at least 50-100 yes you should have controlled and grouped by families. Each family will go into a silo.

For example, imagine a web of accessories and handcrafted, original or “author” gifts, where bags, pendants and jewelery is sold, bookmarks, and wedding details, all of them with their design and some with manual manufacturing.

2 – The is true- for Building a Web Site Using A Silo Structure

Once you have selected the keywords that respond to your idea of product/business, you have to draw the structure that the web will have, and how the silos are organized.

LEVEL 1: The main page would be the trunk of the tree, the center from which everything flows. Here you have to go your Main Keyword, the one for which you bet more strongly.

LEVEL 2: Then the main branches appear, which would be the silo or category pages . Each one of them will be destined to what we will call the corresponding Keywords Base \

LEVEL 3: From each silo page, sprout the smallest branches, posts and content related to secondary keywords or long-tail

LEVEL 4: Sometimes, depending on the product, there may be several subgroups within the same silo. In that case, the main keyword of that subcategory would go to LEVEL 3, leaving LEVEL 4 for the contents of support for that subcategory.

3 – The links for Building a Web Site Using A Silo Structure

For the silo structure to work it is not enough to create the keywords silos; you also have to make sure that they are effectively isolated, and the keywords of some do not mix with others. This is resolved by taking care that the internal links are isolated within each silo. You have to create internal links between the pages of each level and the top level page. You have to avoid internal links between different silos.

Beware that the latter is problematic. In many occasions you will have the temptation or the reason to link between one silo and another. In some blogs they say that you can do this if you put the internal link in no-follow, but this does not work: Google only considers the no-follow for external links. Dean Romero considers things for the Building a Web Site Using A Silo Structure as the “flow of Chaos” is always good for Google. That is, the search engine wants naturalness, and, what is more natural than a human structure in which from time to time a link comes out here and another there, in a somewhat chaotic and random way?

I am of the same opinion. In fact, I have the conviction (not contrasted) that Google uses the mathematics of chaos for its search algorithms. But to check the validity of the SILO architecture we need to stick to the basic rules first, so in our experiment (which I’ll tell you about right away) we will not cross internal links, and we’ll leave them all inside their silo. As the months pass and we have conclusions, we can do some experiment crossing some link between silos. But first, we have to see problems and criticisms of the SILO structure.

When to use (and when NOT) a SILO structure

In general, the biggest criticism of this web architecture is that it is inapplicable for many online projects. The reason: that they cannot isolate their products / content from each other. A news portal, for example, can have content that speaks both of “economy”, of “national”, of “science” or of “politics”. A blog is also a real challenge for this system, you have to constantly add new content and it is difficult to fit them into the structure. So in general, to know if it is appropriate for you to apply a SILO architecture on your website, I think we should start from two premises:

THAT THE PROJECT BE NEW: The silo structure is already sufficiently complex to design from scratch. If you also have to transform your entire website, it will be a nightmare, especially, if you have to make changes to the URLs. That would only hurt your online project and you would lose positions. INSISTS: Do not change the URLs of the web If you want to try a SILO structure, be it in a new project that you design from the beginning thinking about this structure.

THAT YOUR PRODUCT / CONTENT IS DIFFERENTIABLE: Your own product will tell you if it is sensible to try a SILO structure, or not. If you have clear categories that do not have to mix, go ahead.

Qualities of a Good National Security Advisor

National Security Advisor

The role of a National Security Advisor is of paramount importance, and he is expected to perform his duties with a lot of inquisitiveness and perfection. There is no particular tenure for a national security advisor. The discretion of appointing someone as an advisor vests with the president and the other council members present there. So here are some of the qualities that are very much important for a National Security Advisor.

It is always between the president and the advisor:

The President and the advisor share a very close relationship, and they are expected to function in harmony. There cannot be an intermediary between the President and the advisor. If there are a lot of people to carry information between the president and the advisor, then there will be filtration of information that might go against the welfare the nation. So the president and the advisor must have a good rapport.

Not in favor of a party or a candidate:

The person who has taken the role of the advisor is expected to paint a true and fair picture of the affairs of the state. Usually, people who have the chances of becoming the next advisor are closely involved in the operations of the government. That being the case, during election times, a good advisor is expected to stay neutral instead of voicing his opinion in favor of a particular party at least when he is not in the shoes of a common civilian. His favoritism might at times affect the welfare of the country.

Experience and position:

A person who is potentially going to take the place of the advisor of the National Security Council has to be well educated and must be well aware of the affairs of the state. In most cases, a person who was already a part of any department that is relevant to foreign policies or national security are the ones who are chosen as the potential candidates who can be chosen as the next advisor. So the experience and the present position of the candidate are very much important.

Protest if need be:

Just because an advisor has to have a good rapport with the President he need not have to dance according to the tunes of the President. His primary concern has to be the safety and the welfare of the nation and thereby he can place his opinions strongly and can protest against the president and the other members of the council if need be. If he feels that the President’s decisions might not fit the moment, he can place his views bluntly and curtly. Inhibition is not a quality of an advisor.

Adequate Knowledge:

An advisor has to possess good knowledge with regard to the foreign policies that are prevailing among different nations. This will help him make right decisions with regard to the policy affairs of his nation. There are also talks regarding the Eisenhower Test. The candidates who are looking forward to be a part of the National Security Council are expected to take the Eisenhower Test to qualify themselves as potential candidates. This again is going to set a new benchmark.

Role of the National Security Council in the United States of America

National security counsil

In the United States of America, unlike the other countries, the republican model of government is run. They do not follow the practices that are under the parliamentarian model of government. In that case, the President is always the deciding authority of the affairs of the government, and he requires a strong apex body that will comprise of an advisory committee. This committee will guide him on the rules and regulations that the state has to follow with regard to security issues and other foreign policy affairs. This is the reason behind the formation of the National Security Council of the United States of America. The NSC is also chaired by the respective Presidents during their tenure. So here we will see in detail about the inception of the council and its role in the US government.

National security counsil

Formation of the National Security Council:

The National Security Council of the United States of America came into existence in the year 1947. However, the same task was carried out by National Intelligence Agency in the financial year 1946-1947. After the NIA was dissolved, the NSC came into the picture. Along with the President, the affairs of the National Security Council were headed by a National Security Advisor and other chief officers who govern different heads of the council.

Role of National Security Council:

  • Though the NSC was proposed with a proper act that is the National Security Act of 1947, the role of NSC goes through significant changes depending on the then President, who will also be the head of the council and will preside over the affairs.
  • The main reason for why NSC came into existence is because of the sour relationship that the United States had with the Soviet Union. In order to avoid further rubbing and to promote the relationship that the US had with other countries, the National Security Council came into existence.
  • As we stated earlier, Presidents used NSC differently in their respective reign. Some of the strategies adopted by the Presidents gave the nation a better stand in the global arena. Unlike the other Presidents before and after his tenure, John.F.Kennedy used the NSC quite differently. Instead of bringing the whole council under his guidance and looking for their advice, Kennedy in his tenure decided to bring the Advisor as his close aide and had the others out of their way. The council rarely met in the tenure of President John.F.Kennedy.
  • The National Security Council played a significant role in settling the mess that happened in America after the World War II and the Great Economic Depression the struck America in the year 1921. Roosevelt, who the President then, had a diplomatic way of seeing it. Though it redeemed the nation from the issues it went through back then, the nation didn’t see a clear development. As a relief to all these issues came the National Security Council.
  • It took care of the safety and security of its subjects also at the same time it enhanced the foreign policy that prevailed in the US.
  • Even today, it is the NSC that takes care of the foreign policies that are prevailing and protects the nation from other internal and external security issues. The National Security Council works along with CIA in order to keep the peace and harmony of the country intact.

Vladimir Putin and Game Theory

You know, I try to have some love for all my brethren in the social sciences, but sometimes the economists make it so difficult.

Last week, an economist named Daniel Altman wrote a lot bit of fluff in Foreign Policy about how Putin is really a brilliant game theorist, and how game theory really explains his successes in Ukraine, and …well, the usual stuff, written by someone who (at least as far as I can tell) knows very little about Russia or Ukraine. So here’s what I said in yesterday’s Federalist:

Altman’s argument is that Russian President Vladimir Putin is a master of game theory. He’s so good at it, in fact, that he’s already won the game he’s playing over Ukraine and we clueless Westerners don’t even know it yet. “Reasoning,” Altman tells us in a recent Foreign Policy article, is Putin’s “strong suit,” and the West “could learn a lot from him.” Putin, he thinks, is working from a set of internal rules that game theorists would recognize, and unless we get up to speed pronto, he’s going to keep taking us to the cleaners. (The idea that Putin is simply running the table against an overmatched and disengaged United States foreign policy team doesn’t enter into any of this, apparently. That explanation doesn’t fit the theory – and isn’t usually bruited about in polite academic conversation.)

Now, to people unencumbered by higher education or formal training in the social sciences, this might all seem silly. Who can divine the behavior of nations, and especially of mercurial leaders like Vladimir Putin, from models? Would anyone actually rely on that kind of analysis?

Sadly, many people do — and the government, I am pained to report, actually pays some of these folks quite handsomely for it.

Anyway, I take the rest of the argument apart here at The Federalist, if you want to read the whole thing.

Syria and The Myth of the Exit Strategy

In a recent article for War on the Rocks, Peter Munson expanded on a debate I’d had with him on Twitter over intervention in Syria. WOTR generously offered me space to respond.

The overall issue is that I wonder exactly what Munson and others really mean when they ask about “outcomes” or even the dreaded “exit strategies,” in which every proposal for intervention is met with the phrase: Tell me how this ends.

Here’s what I think it all means. When someone says “tell me how it ends,” it’s another way of saying: “I just don’t happen to like this particular case for intervention,” for whatever reason.

I believe that those opposed to U.S. intervention use the insistence on an “exit strategy” as a rhetorical device and a trap: they oppose action in an impending disaster as “too early” — that is, you’re too far from a resolution and can’t see the end — and then to oppose action in an actual disaster as “too late,” because the situation is too far gone and once again, there is no end in sight.

This leads to what I call the “Goldilocks complaint,” in which opponents of intervention can never find the porridge that’s “just right” for them:

If presented with a limited strike to degrade the regime’s abilities in retaliation for WMD use, we get this: “You’re wasting lives on meaningless actions that won’t matter! You have to go big if you’re going to take those risks!”

But if told “Okay, let’s go big and really hurt the enemy, and maybe even destroy the regime,” we get the other answer: “You’re crazy! You’re trying to start a major war! You’re risking lives in a massive quagmire!” And on and on. It’s a predictable cycle, in which every major action is too hot, any smaller actions are too cold. And once again, what’s really being said is:

“I just don’t want to do this.”

Turns out the Jihadis do attack Norway

As Schindler discussed in his blog today, the Belgians estimated this week (December 2013) that there something like 4000-5000 jihadis who hold European passports fighting in Syria. (Note: EU passport holders, not necessarily Europeans.)

This is causing something of a ruckus, because it’s upending the notion, so dearly held among so many people, that Islamic extremism is about the United States and its foreign policy. So I thought I’d update and repost this piece from a year ago about jihadis being convicted of plotting violence…

…in Norway.

A quick memo to people who think that America is a special target of Islamic extremist violence because of all those icky things we do, like support Israel, keep bases in the Middle East, and produce reality TV: it’s not about any of that.

Rep. Paul: Welcome to Sweden, where this protest took place.

It’s a common, but ridiculous, belief. And not just among apologetic liberals, either: it was championed during the 2012 Republican primaries by Ron Paul, who argued that terrorists don’t attack other places, like “Switzerland and Sweden,” an assertion I’ve shown is false in an earlier post here.

Well, the hits just keep coming. Turns out that Norway just convicted two would-be jihadis of a planned attack on the Oslo offices of a Danish newspaper.

Why? Why a Danish paper, and why in Norway? Because the editorials supported Israel? Because the paper raved about how good Norwegian snipers are in Afghanistan? Because the front page called for burning mosques?

No. It turns out that….well, read for yourself:

OSLO, Norway (AP) – Two men were found guilty Monday of involvement in an al-Qaida plot to attack a Danish newspaper that caricatured the Prophet Muhammad, the first convictions under Norway’s anti-terror laws.

A third defendant was acquitted of terror charges but convicted of helping the others acquire explosives.

Investigators say the plot was linked to the same al-Qaida planners behind thwarted attacks against the New York subway system and a shopping mall Manchester, England, in 2009.

So these guys conspired with Al-Qaeda to commit murder and terrorism…because of some cartoons. Drawn by a Swede, no less: cartoonist Kurt Westergaard, whose home in Denmark has already been attacked once.

And lest anyone have any doubt about whether this particular merry band of losers were just disgruntled Saudis — because, after all, those guys attack us because we support their autocratic government, right? — guess again.

The ringleader was a Chinese Muslim (who claimed he was only planning to attack the PRC embassy, not the Norwegians, as though that makes it better). Another was an Uzbek, and the third an Iraqi Kurd. A Kurd — the guys we’re helping in Iraq, and have been for over twenty years.

So let’s review: A Chinese Muslim, an Uzbek, and an Iraqi walk into a bar get together to plot an attack on the offices of a Danish paper in Norway that carried a cartoon by a Swede.

Got that? No Americans, in any way, were involved.

What is it going to take before liberals and libertarians stop thinking that we can somehow placate these guys? Would-be jihadis, the radicalized losers, have targeted everyone from Norwegians to Canadians to Australians, with the only link among these terrorists their hatred of the secular, tolerant — and yes, sexually and culturally open — societies that both attract and repulse them.

Over cartoons.

And please, spare me the cant about how we all have to be culturally sensitive to how Islamic radicals get lathered up about portrayals of the Prophet. Christians, just here in America, have had to endure works of “art” that include the Virgin Mary painted out of elephant dung, a story the New York Times, ever the bastion of correctness, stupidly equated to the cartoon threats, and a crucifix submerged in a jar of urine (although some French protesters finally vandalized that one 25 years after its debut).

No one died over those incidents, and if Christians can take the hooliganism of ignorant bigots without killing anyone, Muslims can endure far less in the pages of a Danish paper.

And note to European Muslims: If you don’t like the way Danish newspapers publish cartoons, then here’s an idea — don’t live in Denmark. The Danes have this crazy notion of “press freedom” that’s probably just going to annoy you. But at the very least, don’t blow up Norwegians over something a Swede did just because you don’t like a Danish media outlet.

Let’s stop deceiving ourselves. Acts like these are not about religion. These infantilized men hate Western cities the way the high school loners hate the jocks. They’re the Columbine kids of the global community, constantly looking to shoot up their high school because they never feel like they belong (Two words: Tamerlan Tsarnaev.)

I gladly grant the point that Schindler and others have made about the more complicated issue here of the warping influence of Islamist ideology. But I think there’s a danger of laying this all on Islam; the issue is not Islam, but some Islamic men who cannot deal with life in the West.

 

Still, we’d be stupid to ignore the ideological element or to be towed away from talking about it by political correctness. There will always be violent losers among us; what’s dangerous about radical Islam is that its agents are combing the world, looking to aggregate those disaffected and unstable men into human bombs.

I’m all for finding those recruiters — like the late and unlamented Anwar al-Awlaki — and sending them to meet the virgins they crave. (Although I don’t think that’s going to work out for them.)

But please, let’s cut the nonsense about how terrorism is because of ” what we do.” It’s about who we are. And maybe, even more importantly in the case of the jihadi wanna-be types, it’s about who they aren’t — but perhaps wish they were.

Addendum: Some fans of the late Anwar al-Awlaki admitted in a British court on 1 FEB 12 that they were targeting the London stock exchange and several other London targets for bombing, including the U.S. Embassy. I’m sure someone will shoehorn this into the standard “it’s all America’s fault” explanationbut they all live in the UK and I’m going to guess they fit the usual profile of the would-be European jihadi.

The Great White House Jeans Caper: Updated!

So, after listening to endless digital caterwauling about how images don’t matter, and this is just nitpicking, and that all is well…

USA Today came out with a story about how closely the Pentagon is studying Vladimir Putin, right down to his body movements. This is one of those strange projects funded by the Office of Net Assessment, and some of the work is done right up here in Newport (although I have nothing to do with it, and am skeptical of some of its assumptions.)

As you read the original story, below, that I posted a few days ago, ask yourself: If this is how closely we study Putin in order, as the USA Today story says, to help  “U.S. policymakers seeking any advantage they can find as they try to anticipate Putin,” just imagine how minutely the Kremlin’s intelligence folks scrutinize every single image they can find of Barack Obama, especially at tense moments like the current crisis.

Over the years, I’ve written plenty of controversial things, and taken my share of guff for them. I’ve been called every name in the book, and had people call for my firing at least twice from educational institutions. (Ironically, the first time anyone demanded I be fired was from Dartmouth back in 1992 because I was perceived — I am not kidding — as being too anti-Ukrainian and too pro-Russian.)

But almost nothing ignited the outpouring of Twitter outrage I encountered when I did the most unthinkable thing possible:

I criticized a picture of Barack Obama.

Let’s back up. As we all know, we’ve been in the midst of a deep and serious crisis with Russia. (I’m sure you’ve heard; it’s been in all the papers.) In the midst of this, President Obama called the President of Russia, Vladimir Putin. And the White House photographer took a picture of it, as you can see here.

Now, there are a few things to know about talking to Putin. First, he’s a guy who takes image seriously. Second, he has a macho fixation, as do many powerful Russian men. Third, he is mightly pissed off these days over perceived slights to his honor from the uppity people of Ukraine, who actually want a say in their own future. And finally, it’s no secret that he and our President don’t like each other. Not one little bit.

So I saw the picture of the President, and I immediately winced. The picture of the leader of the Free World talking to America’s top competitor in his casual Saturday outfit was a lousy idea.

Hand on his hip, looking annoyed rather than angry, in jeans and casual sleeves…the whole thing is a case study in poor optics that projected a lack of urgency, a lack of gravitas, a general lack of seriousness, at exactly the time it would have been useful for Putin to know that we weren’t kidding around.

Dear God, what was I thinking. Oh, the outrage.

Basically, objections fell into three categories:

1. What difference does it make what the President’s wearing?

I got a lot of “oh my God, he’s in jeans, it’s the end of the world!” snark, even though my original point was about the picture overall. I tried to make the point that it was more about what he wasn’t wearing, but that was lost in the hysteria.

2. Other presidents wore casual clothes, you know.

Yes, I know. Bush and Reagan walked around in cowboy gear, Carter in his silly sweaters. Some of them probably wore tighty-whites, too, but I don’t want pictures of it. I had, and have, an issue with the picture as political communication, but I’ll get to that.

3. You’re a racist/hater/goon. (Or some variation thereof.) Those spoke for themselves.

I was sort of amazed at how dense people were about the notion of “communication through images” — which is not exactly a new idea — and so I lobbed all the angry, sometimes crazy tweets I’d gotten on this back over the net. Soon, after fighting with the Twitter Tennis Cannons, I went back to being distracted by the chance of an impending major war in Europe (and with a little spat I’m having with one of the fellows over at War on the Rocks).

Of course, I’d made the fatal mistake of noting that Ronald Reagan always wore a jacket in the Oval Office. I seemed to recall this from one of his chiefs of staff, and I assumed it meant when doing business. (I get it that Presidents probably hang out in the Oval in bunny slippers now and then, but that wasn’t my point.)

Bad idea. To this very moment, I am still getting triumphal ribbing from the entire planet (including my Harvard Extension colleague, UNH Prof. Stacy VanDeveer) because of pics of the Gipper in cowboy clothes in the Oval, of which I now have 4,928 copies in my timeline. (Approximately.)

Okay, gang, point taken. But there are two disturbing things that we can draw from the Great White House Jeans Caper, one about the President’s foreign policy, and the other about the President’s supporters. Both of them matter in terms of making policy.

First, no matter how much it seems a nitpick, pictures are messages, especially in a White House that so carefully, even obsessively, manages the President’s image. I was far less concerned about what the President was wearing than the message the picture conveyed, which to my eyes was something like: “Yeah, hello…Vlad? You’re ruining my weekend with this Crimea stuff. I’m tryin’ to watch the game here.”

(A lot of people pointed out that it was a Saturday, as if that were an important point. Here’s a pro tip, ladies and gentlemen: when Russia invades a European nation, you should probably assume — and send the message — that the White House is open for business, fully functional, and very busy, no matter what day of the week it is.)

Now, if this had been a candid, or if the phone had rung unexpectedly and Pete Souza had captured the moment for the White House official history for later, that would be one thing. I’m sure Presidents have gotten important calls in their pajamas, and had to answer them, and God knows we’ve later seen private photos that we probably could have lived without.

But that’s not what happened here. Not only did the President initiate the call, but the picture was taken intentionally and then released the same day.

Now, in a crisis, anything the White House (or the Kremlin) releases is going to be scrutinized by the other side. Every iota of meaning will be taken from the photo, especially if it carries the imprimatur of the Oval Office. It’s not an accidental snap by someone who happened to be in the room. In politics, pictures are part of public diplomacy, and the Russians had every reason to think President Obama was trying to tell them something.

Astonishingly, there were people in my stream who rejected any such notion, as if White House photos are just family albums for the American people. That’s plain dumb: the Russians take such things pretty damn seriously, and any picture like that is something they would assume is part of an entire package of messaging.

And that’s the part that worried me. Someone at 1600 surely knows this, just as I do. So who could possibly think that picture was a good idea? You can hold that picture up to the light, squint, turn it sideways, or fold it into an origami duck, but it’s still a picture that says — at least in the Kremlin’s world — that we just weren’t taking the Russian invasion of a sovereign nation all that seriously.

Who’s controlling that message? Are these the same people who thought Pajama Boy was part of an effective campaign for health care? Again, this is not a criticism of Pete Souza, who is a local hero here in southeastern New England. He just took the picture; someone else decided to put it out there. And that was when a picture became a bad idea.

A crisis is an intense period, in which everything matters. It’s a game of millimeters, where clarity and communication are at a premium. Putting out a picture like that suggests, at least to me, that there are people in the White House who after all this time still don’t get itthat other nations do not admire or respect American Presidents based on domestic style points. Whatever image we added to the President’s words that day needed to look as  serious as a goddamned heart attack, or we shouldn’t have released anything at all.

When asked what I would have suggested, I showed a picture of Reagan in a suit on the phone. That, I guess, was racist or sexist or something, so I then suggested this picture, from when the President spoke to then-President Medvedev some time ago:

That, to me, is a picture that says something quite different. It’s taken from a lower angle, includes clear symbols of the Presidency, and a look of confidence but seriousness on the President’s face. A far better image, in my view, but that’s just one middle-aged, male, Russia expert’s opinion.

So, okay, that damage is done. Let’s move on to the other part of this: the reaction of the President’s social media fan base.

Folks, all I can say is this: you’re all outdoing Richard Nixon’s soldiers in your protectiveness of your icon. I have never seen such brittleness, such insecure freaking-out about the criticism of a president. Or more accurately, about the picture of a president. When it gets down to the race-baiting of “we know what you’re really saying, Tom,” we’re through the looking glass; I was not only accused of racism but of never supporting the President on anything, which is demonstrably false, as anyone who reads this blog knows.

Even more interesting is the distance people were willing to go in order to say that pictures don’t matter, that images don’t matter, that substance really matters, and I was too focused on a picture of the Commander in Chief instead of his policies, and….well, anyway, it went on like that for a while.

But to make their point, many people sent me the monumentally awful picture of George Bush in his flight suit.

Now, if images don’t matter, why does that one matter? I’ll confess: I really don’t like that picture, and it hasn’t improved over time. At that moment, I remember thinking it was too much swagger, but that the Iraq war was mostly over and thus harmless. Now, it makes me wince, as it should.

But why can we all be critical of a picture like that, taken as a photo op after a war, but a mom-jeans shot in the middle of a crisis is off limits for criticism?

I think I know why. Because for some of the President’s partisans, every kind of criticism is off limits. Period.

Anyway, I let this drag on for a full evening, and then patiently blocked and banned a few dozen of the more obnoxious race-baiters, poor spellers, and doofuses. That’s more people than I’ve banned in two years, but I had to clear my timeline of all the gaseous racist smears and general mopery.

The reaction to my criticism of the picture was completely nuts, and explains a lot about our terrible state of political polarization: much like the Tea Partiers the President’s supporters deplore, there are people who so emotionally invested in the President that they cannot see any kind of criticism as rooted in reality. Just as the Tea Party conservatives are so intensely involved in hating Obama that they find fault in everything he does, there are people who find virtue, even heroism, in everything he does as well.

So be it.

But man, that picture last week was a bad idea.

Nuclear weapons and the Ukraine crisis

By now, it should be obvious that there isn’t much we in the West can do about Russian President Vladimir Putin’s seizure of the Crimea from Ukraine. This is a tremendous crisis, easily the worst of the post-Cold War world. U.S. and Allied policymakers are all scuffing their toes along the ground with their hands in their pockets while they mumble things about “sanctions” and “exercises” and other phrases, but they know there is little left for them to do that will change the facts on the ground along the Black Sea.

There’s a lot to do to provide for the future, including a full reconsideration of twenty years of policy that has clearly gone wrong. But before we take another step, it’s time to dispense with the loose talk concerning nuclear weapons. This crisis is bad enough, and we don’t need a lot of half-baked theorizing and rash recommendations. Nuclear weapons could not have prevented this crisis, and they cannot solve it.

Nuclear weapons are, as far as this whole sordid business goes, irrelevant. The exception, of course, is if Putin completely loses what’s left of his marbles and decides to threaten NATO, in which case we are headed for a nightmare that will make Cuba in 1962 seem like a mere misunderstanding among drinking buddies. (The Russians are already making growling noises about Estonia. This is unwise.) Short of that, nuclear weapons have no real role here.

There are two main lines of argument about nukes in this crisis. The first is that if Ukraine hadn’t given up its Soviet nuclear stockpile, it wouldn’t be in this mess today. The second is that now that Putin has bared his Soviet fangs, it’s time to put nuclear weapons back up front in NATO, perhaps even in places like Poland.

The first idea is wrong, the second is pure crazy talk. Let’s take them one at a time.

The idea that Ukraine is now paying for giving up its nuclear arsenal — well, technically, it was the Soviet arsenal, not Ukraine’s — some 20 years ago is coming from from a lot of directions, including the usual people whose ignorance of foreign affairs is often in direct proportion to their aggressiveness. (Two words: Sarah Palin.)

But other, more sensible people have made this argument, too, including the Ukrainians themselves. And understandably so: Ukraine, at least in theory, traded nuclear weapons for sovereignty over its own territory in 1994.

This agreement, the Budapest Memorandum (trivia points: where was it signed?) obligated the U.S., Britain, and the new Russian Federation to respect Ukraine’s territorial integrity in return for Ukraine’s agreement to give up the Soviet weapons on its territory. Should any party violate Ukraine’s territory, the memorandum obligated each party to…well, to do nothing. Actually, it does require us to go to the UN Security Council, which is in fact the very definition of “doing nothing.”

Back then, this wasn’t all as feckless as it seems now. Remember, people saying “Ukraine should have kept its nuclear weapons” are thinking of today’s Ukraine, not the post-Soviet chaos of the 1990s in which Russia looked like the most stable remnant of the wreckage.

As Ambassador Steven Pifer later pointed out, the Americans were clear that they could not, and would not, extend military guarantees to Ukraine in such uncertain times. Hindsight is easy, but the negotiators did the best they could in the world they faced. The goal was to stabilize the world left in the wake of the Soviet implosion. The diplomats did their job and bought us more than two decades of breathing room.

The larger issue here is that those critical of the Budapest process are attached to the complete fantasy that anyone, especially in Washington, was going to agree to Ukraine keeping those nukes. That wasn’t going to happen. There were hundreds of strategic weapons on Ukrainian soil, including some two hundred ICBMs that for all we knew were still targeted at the United States.

Worse, Ukraine at the time was run by a guy named Leonid Kravchuk, whose previous job had been — wait for it — as a top member of the Soviet Communist Party in Ukraine. (He had even held the ideology portfolio, usually a hard-liner’s job.) Kravchuk was a classic Soviet bureaucrat who, like so many clever men in 1991, was in the right place at the right time when the Soviet Union went down.

When Kravchuk decided to try to shake down the West for about six billion bucks in 1992, it prompted me to write one of my very first national op-eds. Published in the Christian Science Monitor 22 years ago, I was scathing in my denunciation of Kravchuk’s cheap nationalism, as I was of all the Soviet bureaucrats who had suddenly gotten religion (some, literally) after the fall of the USSR. The Russian Federation was the Soviet successor state, and like most Westerners, I wanted to deal with one nuclear state, not three or four new ones.

I was vicious to the Ukrainian regime of the time, maybe too much so. But Kravchuk was an operator, and he was less concerned with Russia than money. What he was doing was straight-up nuclear blackmail.

This, by the way, was my first career dust-up with the public. Ukrainian-Americans started a coordinated letter-writing campaign to my department at Dartmouth College, demanding that I be censored, disciplined, or even fired. My chairman, with a small and ironic smile, patiently wrote letters to anti-communist Ukrainians explaining to them that this was not the old Soviet Union, and that I was free to write as I wished.

I am obliged to report as well that I got a nice mention, too, in the pages of Pravda. This was pretty hard for a Cold Warrior like me to take, to be considered a smart young American scholar by the creeps who ran one of the worst papers in the world. (My then-wife was working in the intelligence community at the time, and you can imagine how much fun it was for her to find out from the guy down the hall at work that her hubby had made the Cool Kids List in Pravda before I knew it myself. Good times.)

Anyway, for those who think that Kravchuk made a bad deal, consider the alternative: a divided, unstable Ukraine between NATO and Russia, sitting on enough nuclear firepower to obliterate most of the Northern Hemisphere. That’s the kind of crazy situation only political scientists love. No one was going to let that happen, and it didn’t.

Kazakhstan, also home to Soviet nukes, got similar ideas for a time. Imagine if we’d caved on Ukrainian nukes in 1992, and the Kazakhs had followed suit. Try that world on for size. As it was, the Clinton administration had to spirit a lot of fissile material out of there on the sly, and if you think Ukraine or Kazakhstan should have kept those weapons, read this article about it all in the Times first.

More important, not only would a Ukrainian nuclear arsenal have played no role in deterring Putin from acting up in Crimea, it probably would have led to a Russian invasion far earlier than this.

Popular protests in the streets of Kyiv in, say, 2004, would have led the U.S. and Europe to cast nervous sideways glances at whoever was guarding Ukrainian nuclear arms. At that moment, Putin would have loved to present himself as doing the entire world a favor by intervening to “secure” those weapons.  Indeed, the Russian special services might well have made ensured that something would happen to put the weapons in danger so they’d have a pretext for action.

In short, had Ukraine kept its nuclear weapons, something awful would have happened, and it would have been a lot worse, and a lot earlier, than this.

But what about the idea of beefing up NATO’s nuclear forces now that Putin’s gone rogue?

Unless you’ve never read a single word of this blog, you probably realize that I think NATO should just dump its tactical nuclear arms and get it over with, especially since NATO’s former nuclear targets are now all inside NATO itself.

You can pretty much forget all those silly war-gamer scenarios where we and the Kremlin toss nuclear firecrackers at each other in Central Europe. World War III will be short and final, no matter how many Bright Young Things show you the clever grad school papers they wrote proving otherwise.

And yet, the idea persists. Here’s the vice president and director of studies at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments in Washington, D.C., Jim Thomas, on the subject:

A preliminary step should be making the Polish air force’s F-16s capable of carrying both conventional and nuclear weapons so that they could participate in NATO’s nuclear mission. That should quickly be followed by site surveys to identify suitable locations for potentially storing nuclear weapons on the territory of front-line allies, including Poland, if relations with Russia further deteriorate.

During the Cold War, the notion of placing nukes near the front line was to enhance their deterrent value by making them “use or lose” weapons in the event of invasion. Is that really what we want to do now, premised on a future Russian invasion of Poland?

Or perhaps we should just leave them there as targets for Russia to destroy from a distance — maybe even with preemptive nuke strikes — at the first sign of trouble. The Russians, as analyst Nikolai Sokov notes, already have a desperately crazy military concept that calls for “de-escalation” of a war against Russia with nuclear strikes because they know their conventional forces, especially compared to NATO, aren’t worth spit.

So what does nuclearizing “new NATO” buy us? What does any of this do to stabilize Europe and protect our friends? Nothing. It’s an idea to put nuclear weapons near Russian military activity in hopes of spreading the magical effect of fissionable material. If these weapons had to be used, no one would use them, nor would they make sense in combat. But they’d be there as a sign of our hope in deterrence, like a plutonium-filled rabbit’s foot.

I come from a family of cops, and I learned one thing about cops: they never draw their gun unless they’re quite willing to kill someone. That’s a good rule of thumb for nuclear arms, too. No “demonstrations,” no “signals,” or other actions that sound good at academic conferences. Nuclear weapons only have two settings, “on” and “off,” and off is where they should stay unless the US or Europe is threatened with nuclear violence.

Former Undersecretary of Defense Eric Edelman has also weighed in:

Reinforcing the NATO air policing mission in the Baltics is a good beginning, but this will also require a thorough reconsideration by the alliance of the self-abnegating undertakings it assumed at the time of the NATO-Russia Founding Act in 1997. The alliance should consider whether and how it wants to position ground combat forces on the territory of the former Warsaw Pact states that now are members of NATO. It should also reconsider the so-called three no’s—no intention, no plan, no reason to deploy nuclear weapons on the territory of the new NATO members. Bringing NATO military power closer to the borders of Russia would impose a real cost on the Russian military and might cause nationalists who support Putin’s current course to reconsider.

Ambassador Edelman is an experienced public servant, and I’m hesitant to disagree with him. In fact, I’m completely on board with increasing the number of Allied forces on NATO territory, including the number of Americans. The Russians seem to have forgotten that war with NATO means war with 28 nations at once, and it’s high time to remind them.

But nuclear weapons close to the Eastern edge? Once again, there’s no clear notion of why we’re putting them there, other than the generic belief that if we can get them close to the bad guys, the halo effect might prove calming. Or something.

The obvious flaw here is that if we’re not willing to beef up NATO conventional forces, to spend at least 2% on defense, to impose sanctions on Russia, then why would the Kremlin think we’re ready to even think about the use of nuclear arms?

In the end, talking about nuclear weapons is not a strategy. It’s a placeholder for a strategy, a nuclear crutch on which we rely when we’ve run out of any other kind of creative thinking, or when we’re not willing to make the material sacrifices that more expensive options require. Nuclear weapons are shorthand, symbols, ornaments meant to demonstrate resolve without the actual presence of resolve.

Crimea is lost. Whining about it, and making empty threats, will only deepen the severe damage the West has suffered in this latest of a string of defeats against a tougher and more seasoned Kremlin team. This is the time to be calm, to be hard, to be cold, and to be consistent.

The best thing we could do now, in general, is to stop talking. We are never as threatening as when we don’t speak, and lately, we’ve been talking too much and to no effect. It is time to to be quiet, to take stock, consult with our allies, and to make Putin ponder the reality that he is now creating a stronger America where he wanted a weak one, a more united Europe where he wanted more division, and a reinvigorated NATO where he hoped there might one day be none.

Let Putin and his henchmen in Crimea blather as they will. It is now time for them to wonder what we’re up to, not vice versa.

We can make Putin pay for his crimes in Ukraine in installments and with hefty interest until he has to explain to his own people why he is again risking making them into economic paupers and political pariahs. Then the price of his adventure on a small peninsula will be clearer to ordinary Russians, if not to him. It will take time, money, and focus. We have the first two in abundance. We need to summon the third.

What we don’t need are nuclear weapons. We can do everything we need to do and never utter those words. It is time to throw away the nuclear lucky penny, and discard fantasies about nuclear weapons. Instead of notional nuclear arms, we need to sling real rifles, pilot real aircraft, and provide real sustenance and tangible support to our friends as we stand at their sides. Only then will we see what Putin’s recycled Soviet speeches really mean.

The Crimea crisis and the abuse of history

Every international crisis brings out the amateur historian in pundits and politicians. The Russian seizure of Crimea has been no different, sparking all kinds of analogies and examples, including the inevitable Hitler comparisons. (Yes, Secretary Clinton, you have a point. But it was still over the top, especially coming from America’s former chief diplomat.)

That is not to say that history itself is not useful. Professional historians have much to tell us about the roots of this conflict, as do political analysts, who (like me) see proximate causes for the crisis in recent events, including serious errors in U.S. foreign policy. But facile historical comparisons are only obscuring more than they are clarifying.

Many of these parallels are put forward by people who understand neither the present situation nor the past to which they’re comparing it. Taking an early lead in the competition for the worst way to open an article in this category, a “senior political analyst” at Al Jazeera began a story recently by writing: “Like most of the people speaking about Ukraine, I am no expert. But I know one or two things about the history of the Cold War to recognize…”

As is so often the case, knowing just one or two things is almost always an invitation to later intellectual trouble.

If you think I’m making too much of this, just consider that Democratic strategist Bob Shrum yesterday compared President Obama to Eisenhower, as though this is Hungary in 1956. You can read the rest of my piece here.

Stupid College Tricks: Is it worth it?

Today the Daily Beast ran a piece asking the agonizing question: “The Price of College Has Increased 1120 Percent Since 1978, So Is It Worth It?”

The answer is: it depends.

I usually write about foreign policy, but I’ve been teaching undergraduates in one form or another since 1985, so I’m going to wade into this briefly because the question of the value of college, asked over and over as college tuition has skyrocketed, is the wrong question.

It’s the wrong question because it treats “college” as just one big glob of education, with no differentiation among colleges, majors, students, and programs. It’s a question that amalgamates all the costs and benefits of higher education, as though a degree in physics from MIT is comparable to a certificate in clog dancing from Bumblebee State College.

It is also a question that makes no distinction between sticking to four years at a top school and drifting through a party palace like the one described by a graduate as “that magical seven years between high school and your first warehouse job.”

So what is the right question? Here it is:

Is going to certain colleges for certain majors, for certain kinds of students, worth it?

The plain fact of the matter is this:

1. Certain colleges are a complete waste of time and money.

2. Certain majors are not only a waste of time and money, but risk making you stupider for having studied them.

3. Certain kids just shouldn’t go to college at all. They don’t like it, they’re not good at it, and they’re going to hate it.

Let’s take each of those individually.

First, there’s a lot of data out there to suggest that colleges really only fall into three categories: Elite, Public, and Bullshit.

Well, that’s not actually a category, but that third one is where people really get screwed. These are the schools that are neither Cornell nor SUNY, neither Cal Tech nor Cal State. (I am leaving aside for-profit “colleges,” because they’re not actually colleges. They’re debt factories.) Those two sets of schools, the elite and the public, service two distinct groups of students, and for the most part do it well.

So is it worth it to go to an elite school? Duh. Yes. If you can get in, go. But if you haven’t cured cancer at 18 or written for the Times Literary Supplement as your high school English project, public colleges and universities are huge bargains with top-notch faculties. (You can thank the glut of good PhDs cranked out every year for that.) Your lifetime earnings will likely be higher if you go to Amherst than UMass/Amherst, but you’re still going to get a damn fine education at a great price. (Depending on your major. More on that in a moment.)

Yes, there are craptacular state schools, places that warehouse the local dumb kids like a kind of state-sponsored adult day care.  Others aren’t colleges per se; they really exist to train people in trades, and should just hang out that shingle instead of calling themselves universities. They’re cheap, but as the saying goes, you pays your money and you takes your chances. You won’t go broke, and you might learn a skill. So I’m not talking about them.

No, it’s that third kind of school that trips people up. It’s the one that costs a fortune and yet provides almost nothing in the way of a serious or even useful education. This is the boutique school that’s got a gorgeous quad, pretty dorms, great pizza in the student center, and professors who think their job is to keep students happy and entertained. This is the place that lets Mom and Dad say their kid goes to an elite private school, even as they sweat huge payments for the privilege of saying Junior didn’t go to “State.”

These schools charge ridiculous prices that their alums will never, ever recover in their lives, and they know that the U.S. government will help students borrow themselves into penury for it. They don’t demand finishing in four years; hell, you can pay tuition as long as you’d like. They’re okay with that. Just sign here. And here. Oh, and here.

One of the reasons this happens is that for some reason, children are in charge of this process. Each year, parents make long pilgrimages to multiple campuses driving their kids around like maniacs. In many cases, the kids have no chance of getting into these schools, and mostly fall in love with them on sight, because most campuses are beautiful. The idea that you apply first, and visit later, is crazy-talk to these parents, who mostly have completely ceded the choice of school to what their kids want based on impulses flooding them while they’re trying the pizza I was just talking about.

As far as I’m concerned schools like this — and no, I’m not naming any, we all know where they are — are committing something close to fraud. Except that it’s what the students and their parents want. And if you really want to pay nearly a quarter of a million bucks for a name on a window decal, who’s to say you can’t?

[NOTE: Some readers have since pointed out that small private schools serve as a crucial middle option for people who can’t get into top schools, and don’t want to endure the mass production model of Behemoth State University. I completely agree with that, and many of these small schools are excellent. If they’ll eat some of the tuition for you, or you can wrangle a scholarship, they’re terrific options. But many of them, no matter how much we might want to avert our eyes from the reality of it, are just overpriced places to park kids for four years until they leave to get jobs they would have gotten straight out of high school anyway.]

Second, even reasonable colleges can’t stop you from majoring in worthless degrees. Now, let me be clear: I don’t mean esoteric degrees, or degrees with limited use after college. I would hate a world in which there were no philosophy or art history majors. I mean make-believe majors that demand little of the student, and mostly exist as default majors to create the life-support tuition stream that keeps small schools alive.

If you decide to major in “visual arts” at Tiny Charm School, you’d better learn to froth my cappuccino properly, Future Barista. Some majors just don’t teach you anything except how to write a check to your school. If you want to major in communications at Boston University or Syracuse, you’ll almost have to try to be unemployed, because those schools do that and are known for it. But if you major in Human Communications (i.e., “talking”) in a decrepit local school, you will prove almost nothing except that you have successfully exchanged oxygen for carbon dioxide for at least 48 months. Good luck with that.

The same goes for liberal arts degrees like history. I knew a lot of history and government majors at Dartmouth, and they’re all fine. They’re mostly on Wall Street, which is where they were headed regardless of their major. But if you head just down the road or across the river to a small state college in New Hampshire or Vermont and major in history without Dartmouth’s juice, you’re in for a rough ride.

Remember, even though some of the liberal arts are in the list of lowest-paying majors, that data aggregates all majors from all schools, as though the Lit major from Vassar is facing the same future as the Lit major from East Cupcake University. In the end, as much as it makes us itch to think of it, lesser schools cannot provide the social imprimatur, alumni networks, and other social advantages their elite cousins dish up for that pretty penny. Yes, I know it’s unfair, but grow up: Pedigree matters.

This is a hard truth. It offends every fiber of our egalitarian notions about college, because college is supposed to be the grease that makes social mobility possible. And it can be. But if you go to some half-assed school, state or private, and major in something that up until 40 years ago wasn’t even a major, you’re going to end up four, or five, or six years later wondering why you don’t have a job, money, or a future, because the fact of the matter is that while you “went to college,” you didn’t actually go to college.

Finally, this brings us to the type of person who should — or more accurately, shouldn’t — go to college. Yes, yes, I know, everyone has to go, it’s the only way to get a job, blah blah blah. The legions of unemployed people with “college degrees” (and see what I did there, using air quotes?) should tell us by now that the notion we must all go to college is crazy. When the President says he wants everyone to go to college, it is the one time I rage at my Commander-In-Chief’s image on the television as though he were a straight-up commie agitator.

The fact of the matter is that some people hate college, and are worse off for going. Their misery in college could stem from anything, but usually, it’s from lack of college-oriented smarts. We’re never supposed to say that, but some people do not have the skills for college and never will.

But so what? College smarts are not the only smarts there are, and it shows just how elitist we’ve become that we think college is the only thing that matters. This completely ignores the people around us who enjoy trades, are good at it, and get rich doing it. The world would come to a dead stop without them. I write books about world peace and all that cool stuff, but when my washing machine leaks, I’m completely useless. Explaining to me how to fix it is like explaining plasma physics to my cat.  (Maybe worse, because at least talking to the cat doesn’t cause feelings of helpless anxiety in the cat.) I just had a great electrician rewire my house, and as far as I’m concerned what he does is indistinguishable from magic.

And yet, we cling to this craziness that every single kid must go to college. So they go to college. They go to Generic University (motto: “Lather, Rinse, Repeat”), major in Something-Something-Something, hate everything about it except the partying and socializing, take several years to do it, defer marriage, work, and the onset of adulthood, and end up with little to show for it.

At this point, I can feel the irate trigger fingers on the keyboard, all wondering how many kids I’ve fleeced out of their tuition, or whether I blew a king’s ransom on one of these useless schools myself. So here’s my backstory. Briefly.

Neither of my parents went to college. We were working class folks in a mill town in Massachusetts. I had some talent — I mean, hey, I was a National Merit Scholar — and I thought I would major in chemistry, which I loved. I applied to many schools, including the classic reach schools, but in the end, it came down to Washington University, Boston University, or Carnegie Mellon. For a lot of reasons, not all of them rational, I chose BU.

In those days, BU was over-priced and under-powered. It was not a smart play, except that I was going to major in the sciences, which would help. When I defected to the socialsciences, I had a serious talk with my adviser who insisted I take a rigorous program that included economics and Russian, so that if I could get through at least an MA, I would be able to find work (it was the Cold War, after all) if I were willing to work for Uncle Sam. It was a good plan and served me well.

BU was an overgrown community college, but it was trying hard, and over the years, as BU has improved, the value of my degree improved with it. These days, BU is a magnificent place, a world-class university. In 1979, not so much.

But even now, if you’re going to go to BU because it has that bitchin’ dorm on the Charles River, and you plan to fart around for five years doing some dinky major while you “find yourself,” believe me that you will cry impoverished, angry, unemployed tears when it’s over. It’s a great school for kids with money and/or a strong sense of direction. Others might wanna rethink it.

Anyway, I worked my way through, including grinding out an MA in one year at Columbia while working 30 hours a week. (Not fun.) At one point, I was running out of money, so I was dropping out. Realism means knowing when it’s time to go to work, and I accepted a civilian job with the Army. Fortunately, Georgetown took a chance on me and gave me a full scholarship for a PhD, and I was off to DC instead of a cubicle at Fort Bragg. But it was a near-run thing.

In my teaching career, I never lost a night of sleep about teaching at Georgetown or Dartmouth; those kids were going to be fine, and it’s a privilege to teach in a rich, elite school. (Fun, too.) I felt a little hairier about moving to a tenured job at La Salle, but even there, my mission from the Dean was to improve the social sciences and get them into better shape mostly to produce kids able to move on either to good careers or to professional schools, especially law. I couldn’t stay long enough to do it, but that school cared deeply for its kids, and I have a great affection for that little island in North Philly.

Today, I teach in the Extension School at Harvard, which might be one of the greatest bargains in higher education. It’s a night program, mostly — the nation’s oldest — to get education to people who are looking for it. Some of them are there for a course, some are filling a spot in a major at another school, others are there for the skills (including writing) offered by the liberal arts degree, and some just want to come to class and learn interesting stuff. My students range from high-school to middle age. I teach them in person and by distance, in class and in hybrid modules, and it all works.

I feel like I’m doing the most “value added” in this kind of teaching, because I can see real improvement and movement toward careers in my students, all while knowing that Harvard isn’t hoovering their pockets empty doing it. I especially enjoy teaching writing, and I’m good at it: I’ve been honored with commendations and awards from Harvard for my teaching. But just ask my students if it’s pure popularity; check their workload and my demands on them, and you’ll see they’re getting something of value for the time and the money they spend.

So, that’s it. College is a great idea if you’re smart, motivated, dedicated, and intend to study something appropriate to your talents and goals. If you want to go putz around at some middling school, have a good time, but don’t think you’re ever seeing that money again. That’s gone, vanished. You might graduate. You might not. The school will get your money either way.

One last point. College isn’t a miracle that solves your problems, nor is the lack of college the sign of inevitable doom. We all have stories on both sides of that equation. I had a friend who dropped out of college, became an entrepreneur, and now owns a spread in Vermont with his own trout stream. Another, who went to high school with me, was a troubled kid who went to college on a scholarship, landed a big job on the West Coast, and ended up divorced, broke, and dead from a bar fight right back in our home town. College can do a lot to strengthen what you have. It can’t make you what you’re not.

So here are four things to bear in mind when picking a college:

1. Pick schools that offer programs you want, not campuses you like. Make sure you can imagine at least some sort of career that major leads to. (Hint: Not “video game designer.” That’s not a thing.)

2. Think hard about those programs. Have a plan B, since you could end up changing majors. (I did.) Remember, college is only four years. People have car leases that will last longer than your entire education.

3. Don’t be seduced by schools that say “we’re just as selective and rigorous as Yale!” They might be, but that’s not a marketing point. Get sucked in by propaganda, and you will not only pay now, you will pay later.

4. Take stock and decide if you really can finish in four years. If you can’t, or won’t, maybe a year or two in the job market or the military will clear your head.

In summary, do not drift by default into an expensive local charm school, pay huge money, major in Indian Fertility Rituals, sink in debt, and then make everyone around you miserable bitching about your life sucking. That, my friends, is a self-inflicted wound, and you will richly deserve the job waiting for you under a paper hat.

College should produce an educated, literate man or woman who is capable of clear expression in English, who is well read in a spectrum of literature, who possess a grasp of Western civilization, who has learned at least one foreign language (no, not Spanish, one that’s in demand), and who is competent in at least a baseline amount of social and scientific knowledge.

If you’re not going to go to a school or take a major that gives you those skills, then yes, I would like fries with that.

Were America’s nuclear codes set to zero? Looks like it. And worse.

A quick recap:

A few weeks ago, I reacted to a story that’s been going around for years: that the launch code for the U.S. intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) force was set to “00000000″ until 1977. The story, as I remembered it, and as it was since repeated many times in the press, is that in the 1960s, Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara wanted an extra layer of security against unauthorized or accidental launch, but that the Air Force decided that the best thing to do was to ignore McNamara — or more precisely, to follow the order to create a launch code but then set it at a line of zeros.

I said I doubted the story, since the only source I could find for it was Bruce Blair, who mentioned it in a 2004 article. I theorized that Blair (a former missile officer himself and a leading arms control analyst now at Princeton) had either been misunderstood or had been misleading: perhaps, I thought, he meant that the initial settings on the mechanism for the codes had to be set at zero.

The story also appears in a new book about nuclear disasters, Eric Schlosser’s Command and Control, and again, the source is Bruce Blair, although this time there is also an unnamed engineer from Sandia Labs who confirmed the story, and in journalism, two sources = confirmed, so there we were. Still I was skeptical and said so.

Within a day of the post going up, Dr. Blair himself weighed in and assured me: no, he meant exactly what he said. He then corresponded with me, and graciously allowed me to use his response to clear this up.  So here, including Blair’s comments, is the story as best as I can piece it together.

The dispute was specifically between McNamara (“the greatest SecDef in history,” said no one ever), and General Tommy Power.

Yes, that was really his name.

General Power was everything you’d expect from a nuclear commander with that name, and his views on nuclear war were nothing short of terrifying: “At the end of the war,” he told a group of pointy-heads at RAND, “if there are two Americans and one Russian, we win!” Indeed, Power’s plans for all-out nuclear war were so hideous that General David Shoup, the commandant of the Marine Corps, objected to them in 1962, an incident I wrote about here.

So I had no trouble believing that Power would defy McNamara, but I wondered why no one had ever really talked about this. Blair responded:

The younger generations of launch officers can hardly believe that unlock codes were once unnecessary…For us at the time, it was hardly a memorable fact in part because junior officers like me had no knowledge of the context (i.e., the McNamara-Power dispute).

 Blair notes that the zeroes were not actually the final code but only part of the process, and he describes what he saw before leaving the Air Force in 1974:

The “unlock codes” actually were part of the “arming” of the missiles during the launch sequence.  Three commands were involved in firing:  target, arm, and launch.  Today, without the codes, the crews can’t transmit the “enable” command arming the missiles (which remain subject to environmental sensing criteria in flight before they finally fuze and detonate), and missiles that haven’t been armed will not accept the launch signal.

While I was reading up and trying to get smarter on this, someone suggested I take a look at a small book published in 2008 by a retired Pentagon official named John H. Rubel.

Rubel talks about the creation and design of the Minuteman system in 1959, and claims that it was deliberately designed to remove the President’s ability to exercise operational control over a nuclear war once it started by making it impossible for the Commander-in-Chief to do anything except launch everything we had at once.

This sounds crazy, but it made sense in the Bizarro world of nuclear planning at the time, and it’s no crazier than the standing order that existed (until Lyndon Johnson quietly rescinded it) for U.S. forces to nuke the daylights out of everybody if a war broke out and the President went missing.

Here’s Rubel’s description of the Minuteman launch procedure as it was briefed by the system’s program manager in 1959. “Let’s say,” Rubel asked him, “that a launch message reaches a launch control center?”

He began to describe how a launch control center [an “LCC”] was laid out; it’s under the ground; it’s hardened [against blast pressure] to 300 PSI; it’s a small room with control panels and switches and dials and things like that; there are two men down there. Easch of these men has a key that fits into a key-operated switch. Between these two men is a sheet of bulletproof glass. If each man is standing close enough to his panel to actuate his switch, he is separated by that that bulletproof glass from the other man so he couldn’t intimidate the other man, at that moment at least, by threatening to shoot him.

If each of these two men inserts his key on command and turns the switch within two seconds of the other one, then the launch control center will be deemed to have “voted” to launch. If at least two of out of the five launch control centers [totalling 50 missiles] have voted to launch within some short period of time, then the missiles will be launched. That’s the kind of explanation he gave.

So, okay, two guys, two keys, a required code, and guns. What could go wrong? Even if both guys went nuts, no one could do anything, right?

Well, maybe. It turns out that under certain conditions — like, the Soviets jumped us and wiped everybody out — there was a mechanism by which one LCC could launch its weapons, and some of this may have influenced later lore about “zero” that might have confused people (including me) regarding Blair’s already scary account.

Each LCC had a clock in it that could act as a second “launch vote” if all the others were wiped out in a first strike. That clock was set to run on emergency power, and had a minimum setting of 58 minutes and a maximum of six hours (which is as long as the backup power would last). If the two guys in the capsule voted to launch, and nobody countermanded that decision within one to six hours, the clock itself would be the second vote and all remaining missiles would go.

Sounds clever, except that at one point Rubel asked a USAF colonel to verify that detail for him, and the officer said that actually, the clocks could be set to zero minutes, meaning that if the power were knocked out, two guys could start Armageddon using the backup system and a clock set to zero. [Note Blair’s comment on this issue below, including the fact that the bulletproof glass idea probably didn’t get off the ground and certainly wasn’t there by the 1970s.]

(By the way, Rubel says he has no idea why they had guns. Other missile officers, however, have told me that sidearms used to be issued with the idea that they were the “last line of defense” against an intrusion into the launch area, although no one really worried too much about Ivan rappelling down the ladders. Remember, the missiles and the LCCs are actually quite far from each other. The notion that the officers sit with the bombs is only in the movies. In any case, the guns are now gone.)

It was in the midst of all this Strangelovian nuttery that McNamara wanted an extra code, a set of numbers that would have to come from higher authority that would turn the system on so that it could armed in the first place. The Air Force, clearly worried to death about sudden Soviet attack, wanted no part of the schemes of academic pinheads, and obliged by giving the Secretary his damn code: 00000000.

General Power retired and died in 1970. Blair left the USAF in 1974, and began “quietly advocating” for enabling this panel. In 1977, someone got around to noticing this problem, and fixed it. There have been changes in procedures since then, but they’re over my pay grade and beyond my level of classification, so I’m not going to pontificate on them because I wouldn’t know what I’m talking about.

So, until someone says this wasn’t so, I believe we should accept Blair’s explanation, and admit that a very important code meant to prevent the accidental or unauthorized launch of U.S. nuclear weapons was, in fact, set to zero/zero/zero/zero/zero/zero/zero/zero until the late 1970s.

I want to thank Dr. Blair, again, for taking the time to correspond with me on this, and I will gladly edit this post should he or others point out any other details it might need.

But so far as I am concerned, I accept the story as I’ve now heard it from Dr. Blair, and that’s ground truth until someone has evidence to the contrary.

UPDATE: Were U.S. nuclear codes set to zero? Bruce Blair responds

And that’s the beauty of the internet.

In my post earlier today (as of this writing, about four hours ago), I approached the issue of whether American ICBM launch codes were all set to 00000000 as part of a passive resistance on the part of the Strategic Air Command to SECDEF Robert McNamara’s demand that the missile force be fitted with Permissive Action Links.

I noted that the only source for this story is Bruce Blair, formerly an Air Force missile officer and now at Princeton. I am reposting his response here as a post in itself, and I thank Dr. Blair for taking the time to add the clarification to his 2004 remarks. (I apologize for somehow getting it into my head that his story was from 1994, instead of 2004; all I can do is blame my editor, who in this case happens to be me.)

I’ll note, however, as I did in my response below, that I still wonder why Blair is the only source for this story. In his response, he essentially repeats what he said in 2004, but with some deeper detail. His key point, however, is that he stands by the assertion that “eight zeroes were the initial and final unlock codes until 1977.”

That’s pretty startling stuff, and since Blair is on the record as saying he saw it with his own eyes, it would be incumbent on doubters to prove it wasn’t true — which I can’t. So until someone can tell me otherwise, I have to assume this really was the case.

Blair notes that other triggers would have to be pulled for a launch to occur, but he emphasizes that as a technical matter, nothing could prevent an unauthorized launch until 1977.

Below is Dr. Blair’s complete response, although it’s clear he does not intend to comment further.

Tom,

I think you can understand that I’m unable to devote all my time to identifying and correcting the innumerable essays that have distorted, embellished, and re-invented my original article on the ‘secret unlock codes’. The gist of the true story is that eight zeroes were the initial and final unlock codes until 1977. Afterwards, the final unlock codes had to be provided in the launch order received from higher authority. At that point they became a true technical safeguard supplementing, as you note, other procedural safeguards such as the multiple launch vote system (requiring only two crews, not several, to provide two launch votes, at which point the 50 missiles will ignore any vetoes from the other three crews in a given squadron; a single vote from one crew also may suffice, in that it will begin a short-term timer to launch the squadron if no other crews issue a veto).

This introduction of actual codes in 1977 was a very significant enhancement of safeguards. Before then, no technical protection against unauthorized launch existed, and there were a number of scenarios that could plausibly have culminated in the unauthorized launch of the squadron (actually just one crew member acting in collusion with another crew member in a different squadron launch center could have issued the requisite two votes if they were vicious enough to disable their crew mates) and, moreover, in the unauthorized dissemination of an authentic-appearing launch order to the entire strategic force using the launch authorization codes inside the safes of the squadron launch centers. This is no longer plausible unless the unlock codes are somehow compromised (they have an A and a B part that are never supposed to be handled by the same people or even come into proximity physically with each other during periodic code changes of the missiles and the launch centers, but this precaution is violable and sometimes it is violated unintentionally, and other serious compromises have occurred in the past that create scope for, as they say in the vaults, you to become President.

I have not taken a normal security procedure and made it sound a lot more dangerous than it was. The introduction of real codes in 1977 allowed Strategic Command the confidence to begin allowing one of the crew members on alert to sleep in the launch center while the other crew member manned the consoles. (I still believe this is a violation of the two-man rule and is not prudent despite the code safeguard.)

As for the disobedience question, I would merely repeat my original story. McNamara wanted this system installed and wanted the unlock codes provided in the launch order, and the commander of SAC Thomas Power disagreed and went to the mat over it. McNamara thought he had prevailed, but learned from me in 2004 (the date of my article that you wrongly dated 1994) that SAC had set the combination codes to eight zeros and got away with it until 1977. Meanwhile, comparable technical coded switch devices were installed on strategic bombers in the early 1970s (the codes to which would be provided in the launch order), and in Trident submarines in 1997 (the codes to open a safe inside a safe containing the fire control key would also be provided in the launch order). One can surmise that an effort has been made to universalize these codes or otherwise the launch order would be pretty heavily loaded with unlock codes.

Many of the embellishments of this story assume that only the president controls these codes. I’ll repeat one more time for the record: all of the codes needed to authorize, arm, and launch nuclear forces are possessed exclusively by the military. The president (sometime on his person, or sometimes in his military aide’s football, or sometimes they’re misplaced altogether) carries an identification code so that in a nuclear emergency he can give orders to the military and have them accepted as coming from the president (or his successor, if the president elects to provide such ID codes, which is a big ‘if’, since most presidents pre-delegated their launch authority to senior military commanders, who weren’t going to do much more than speed dial to find a successor in any case) regardless of his location and means of communications.

I don’t look forward to the massacre of these words and so forgive me for not bothering to correct all the misinterpretation my words will engender.

The Death of Expertise

I am (or at least think I am) an expert. Not on everything, but on many things in a particular but wide area of human knowledge, specifically social science and public policy. When I say something, I expect that my opinion holds more weight than that of most other people, particularly laymen.

In fact, I have been paid by many institutions, academic and professional, to speak, based precisely on the assumption that my views on certain matters are worth paying for. And they are, generally.

Now, to most people that seems like a blindingly obvious thing to say. Unfortunately, an increasing number of other folks now reject every assumption in what I just wrote; they would whine that I’m defending the fallacious “appeal to authority,” they might then invoke the dread charge of “elitism,” and finally accuse me (or people like me) of trying to use credentials to stifle democratic dialogue.

But democracy, as I wrote in an essay about C.S. Lewis and the Snowden affair, denotes a system of government, not an actual state of equality. Having equal rights does not mean having equal talents, equal abilities, or equal knowledge. It means, instead, that we enjoy equal rights versus the government, and in relation to each other.

It assuredly does not mean that “everyone’s opinion about anything is as good as anyone else’s,” because no one really lives that way. Imagine taking that attitude with your mechanic. (I would say “imagine taking that attitude with your doctor,” except people really do take that attitude with their doctors now.) Imagine you hear a rumble in your car, you go to the garage, and the mechanic says: “I think it’s the transmission.”

You say: “Well, I read a few issues of Popular Mechanics, and I listened to Car Talk, and I think it’s the carburetor.”

“But your car doesn’t have a carburetor,” the mechanic says.

“Says you,” comes the confident answer. At which point the mechanic will (or should) hand your keys back to you and tell you to pound sand.

Discussion over.

More seriously, I wonder if we are witnessing the “death of expertise:” a Google-fueled, Wikipedia-based, blog-sodden collapse of any division between students and teachers, knowers and wonderers, or even between those of any achievement in an area and those with none at all.

By this, I do not mean the death of actual expertise, the knowledge of specific things that sets some people apart from others in various areas. There will always be doctors, lawyers, engineers, and other specialists in various fields.

Rather, what I fear has died is any acknowledgement of expertise as anything that should alter our thoughts or change the way we live. A fair number of Americans now seem to reject the notion that one person is more likely to be right about something, due to education, experience, or other attributes of achievement, than any other.

Indeed, to a certain segment of the American public, the idea that one person knows more than another person is an appalling thought, and perhaps even a not-too-subtle attempt to put down one’s fellow citizen. It’s certainly thought to be rude: to judge from social media and op-eds, the claim of expertise — and especially any claim that expertise should guide the outcome of a disagreement — is now considered by many people to be worse than a direct personal insult.

This is a very bad thing. Yes, it’s true that experts can make mistakes, as disasters from thalidomide to the Challenger explosion tragically remind us. But mostly, experts have a pretty good batting average compared to laymen: doctors, whatever their errors, seem to do better with most illnesses than faith healers or your Aunt Ginny and her special chicken gut poultice. To reject the notion of expertise, and to replace it with a sanctimonious insistence that every person has a right to his or her own opinion, is just plain silly.

Worse, it’s dangerous. The death of expertise is a rejection not only of knowledge, but of the ways in which we gain knowledge and learn about things. It’s a rejection of science. It’s a rejection, really, of the foundation of Western civilization: yes, that paternalistic, racist, ethnocentric approach to knowledge that created the nuclear bomb, the Edsel, and New Coke, but which also keeps diabetics alive, lands mammoth airliners in the dark, and writes documents like the Charter of the United Nations.

I’m not limiting this complaint to politics, which I’ll get to in a moment. No, we now live in a world where the perverse effect of the death of expertise is that, without real experts, everyone is an expert on everything. As a result, to take but one incredible example, that means we live today in an advanced post-industrial country that is now fighting a resurgence of whooping cough — a scourge nearly eliminated a century ago — merely because otherwise intelligent people have been second-guessing their doctors and refusing to vaccinate their kids after reading stuff written by people who know exactly zip about medicine. (Yes, I mean people like Jenny McCarthy.)

In politics, the problem has reached ridiculous proportions. I could give a bushel of examples, but I’ll pick one or two involving things I wrote about.

A while back, John Schindler and I wrote about the collapse of U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East, and specifically about the dangerous degree to which the Obama administration was ceding influence to Russia in the region. We wrote as two experts with differing views on many things but with a shared specialization in the politics and foreign policy of Russia.

Apparently, all that education, travel to the USSR and Russia, years of discussion, exchange, and research, and our long combined service in various government and non-government posts was all a waste of time. John and I were inundated by tweets and emails that crisply, often in fewer than 140 characters, explained to us how we just didn’t understand Russia, how we just didn’t get it about what Vladimir Putin is really all about, and how we had no idea about how foreign policy is really worked out in Washington. We were too blinkered to see how the Obama administration had really played the Russians,and not vice versa. And on and on.

This, I should note, came not from our peers, some of whom engaged us in public, and a few who engaged us electronically and in person. No, these long-awaited clarifications about Russia, finally delivering us from our bleak and ignorant state, came from ordinary folks. The ones who, you know, read websites and stuff.

Who knew? There I was 30 years ago, foolishly sitting in Leningrad during the Cold War, learning Russian, following the Soviet press, traveling to conferences, and writing books and articles, when all I had to do to understand Russia was talk to some guys on the internet. What a waste of money it all seems now. I’ll be dunning Columbia for a refund on my worthless degree in Russian affairs shortly.

Now, don’t get me wrong. The reason people like us write at all is to engage the public, and we welcome discussion — within limits and above a certain baseline of competence. We also are seeking to inform the public, to provide points of reference for further thought.

We are not, however, offering to re-litigate every thought we’ve ever had or every word we’ve ever written. People think avoiding conflict in Syria was a good thing? We’re all for that conversation. Listening carefully while laymen tell us that we don’t really understand Russia? Not so much.

Schindler has a particular problem, in that he’s taken a strong stand on the Snowden/Greenwald treason fiasco, a cause near and dear to the hearts of the young. This is a problem because young people are the most ruthlessly opposed to any notion of expertise, largely because they are the segment of the population least likely to have any. These young free-thinkers have made clear to Dr. Schindler that his references to his advanced education and to his many years of experience actually working inside the NSA are just arrogant diversions, because he just doesn’t get it. 

Some of John’s debate partners, of course, are intelligent and well-intentioned people. But some of them are just insecure — and sometimes paranoid — scolds who feel the need to lecture Schindler on how the NSA and the intelligence community really works — that world “really” pops up a lot — and to point him to things he needs to read. (I always love it when people give scholars and experts homework assignments.) If he’d just read that one really cool thing they saw on some website, they’re sure he’d finally really, really get how they figured out stuff in the few years they’ve lived since high school that he missed over the past few decades of actually serving his country.

I won’t take up the lance much more here for John; he’s a big boy and can defend himself. I’d also be the first to admit that John’s style can be abrasive beyond words. (He gets like that in real life, too, but hey, he’s my friend, and I’m the last person who can criticize anyone for being arrogant or overbearing.)

But I will say this: I completely understand how people like Schindler and others finally just lose their temper and tell people to go read a damn book. It is exhausting, electronically or in 3-D, to have to start from the very beginning of every political argument and establish the merest baseline of knowledge, and then constantly to have to negotiate the rules of logical argument.

Sorry, everyone, but not every political argument is an excuse for the less informed person to demand a list of commonly available sources, and then insist on an immediate tutorial in the subject.

This ceaseless demand for information is especially frustrating, because people often reject the parts of whatever information an expert might provide if that information conflicts with their previously held beliefs. When they’re told something they don’t like, they reject what they’re hearing by saying “well, that’s not really evidence.”

Well, yes, it is. Moreover, the ordinary interlocutor in such debates isn’t really equipped to decide what constitutes “evidence” and what doesn’t. That’s a specialized form of knowledge that takes a long time to learn. (As I say so often, there’s a reason that articles and books are subjected to “peer review” and not to “everyone review.”)

And trust me, asking me again and again for more and more pieces of information as you try to sift through my mental attic won’t help your case. After a while, the arguments become about epistemology, rather than politics. And that bores everyone involved, especially me.

Sometimes, all we are left with is to ask people to take our word on it, a request we’ve earned through experience, research, publication, service, etc. When people ask me why I think Russia has an aggressive foreign policy because, gosh, they don’t see that at all — well, there just isn’t the time or energy to take the questioner through the years of education and experience that I have and they don’t.

Now, once upon a time — way back in the Dark Ages before the 2000s — people understood this difference between experts and laymen, and there was a clear demarcation in political food fights. Usually, objections and dissent among experts came from peers: that is, from people equipped with similar knowledge. The public, largely, were spectators. This was both good and bad; while it strained out the kook factor in later discussions (editors controlled their letters pages, which today would be called “moderating”), it also meant that sometimes public policy was just a jargon duel between pointy-heads.

No one — not me, anyway — wants to return to those days. I like the 21st century, and I like the democratization of knowledge and the wider circle of public participation. That greater participation, however, is endangered by the utterly illogical insistence that every opinion should have equal weight. How? Because people like me, sooner or later, will tune out people who insist that we’re all starting from the same point, which is to say from intellectual scratch. And if that happens, the experts will only talk to each other, and the public can go whistle. And that’s bad for democracy.

Yes, I know that sounds horribly elitist. Tough. Get over it. There are lot of things going on in the world that are more important than the egos of some people who think that an internet connection is the equivalent of years of study and experience.

How did this peevishness about expertise come about, and how can it have gotten so immensely foolish?

Some of it is purely due to the globalization of communication. There are no longer any gatekeepers: the journals and op-ed pages that were once strictly edited have been drowned under the weight of self-publishable blogs (like, say, this one). There was once a time when participation in public debate required submission of a letter or an article, and that submission had to be written intelligently, pass editorial review, and stand with the author’s name and credentials attached. Even then, it was a big deal to get a letter in a major newspaper.

Now, anyone can crowd the comments section of any major publication with inane blather. We live in a huge high school boys’ room, where anyone with a marker can write anything on the wall. Sometimes, that kind of free-for-all spurs good thinking. Most of the time, it just means people can post anything they want, under any anonymous cover, and never have to defend their views or get called out for being wrong.

Another reason for the collapse of expertise lies not with the global commons but with the increasingly partisan nature of U.S. political campaigns. There was once a time when presidents would win elections and then scour universities and think-tanks for a brain trust; that’s how Henry Kissinger, Samuel Huntington, Zbigniew Brzezinski and others ended up in government service while moving between places like Harvard and Columbia.

Those days are gone. Today, the primary requisite of seniority in the policy world is too often an answer to the question: “What did you do during the campaign?” This is the code of the samurai, not the intellectual, and it privileges the campaign loyalist over the expert. (On Syria, President Obama’s chief of staff managed to get the diplomatic team overridden. Impressive.)  I have a hard time imagining that I would be called to Washington today, for example, in the way I was back in 1990: a Senator from Pennsylvania asked a former U.S. Ambassador to the UN who she might recommend to advise him on foreign affairs, and she gave him my name — despite the fact that I had no connection to Pennsylvania and had never worked on a campaign.

I also would argue that colleges have to own some of this mess. The idea of telling students that professors run the show and know better than they do strikes many students as something like uppity lip from the help, and so many profs don’t do it. Many colleges are boutiques, in which the professors are expected to be something like intellectual valets. This produces nothing but a delusion of intellectual adequacy in children who should be instructed, not catered to.

There’s also something called the Dunning-Kruger effect, which says, in sum, that the dumber you are, the more confident you are that you’re not actually dumb. And when you get invested in being aggressively dumb…well, the last thing you want to believe is that there are “experts” who disagree with you, and so you dismiss them in order to maintain your unreasonably high opinion of your own nitwittery. (I think there’s a lot of that loose on social media, for sure.)

Finally, the root of this collapse of standards lies in our manic reinterpretation of “democracy,” in which everyone must have their say, and it must not be, er, disrespected. (The verb to disrespect is one of the most obnoxious and insidious innovations in our language in years, because it really means “to fail to pay me the impossibly high requirement of respect I demand.”)

Part of this dismissal of expertise is the positive hostility to advanced degrees, an emotion almost entirely centered among people who do not have them. So, sure, some of it is envy, but some of it is based in ignorance about what a PhD means. Too many people, including the hapless folks who foolishly embarked on grad programs they can never finish, think a PhD is just several more years of college. It’s not.

If done properly, a PhD certifies that you are capable of conducting research to particular standards in your field, that you have contributed new knowledge to your field, and that you have an independent ability to frame questions and conduct serious, long-term analytical projects to answer them. That is a non-trivial set of skills, and to dismiss that level of intellectual training when arguing with a PhD is just plain hubris, and an unwise strategy for debate.

In the end, should experts rule the world? No. Technocrats and college professors make for lousy policy without some sort of political common sense. (Exhibit A: The Affordable Care Act).

Anyway, expertise isn’t going away, but unless we return it to a healthy role in public policy, we’re going to have stupider and less productive arguments every day. So here’s a good set of rules of thumb when arguing with an expert:

1.The expert isn’t always right.

2. But an expert is far more likely to be right than you are.

3. Your political opinions have value in terms of what you want to see happen, how you view justice and right. Your political analysis as a layman has far less value, and probably isn’t — indeed, almost certainly isn’t — as good as you think it is.

4. On a question of factual interpretation or evaluation, the expert’s view is likely to be better-informed than yours. At that point, you’re best served by listening, not carping and arguing.

And how do I know all this? Just who do I think I am?

Well, of course: I’m an expert.

Cyberwar: There’s no such thing.

Two years ago this week, as another Veteran’s Day approached, I wrote:

If there’s a word that’s becoming overused in national security affairs, it’s “cyber.” Not on the level of “epic fail” or other phrases, I grant you, but as a prefix, it’s starting to become nonsensical.

I am nothing if not prescient.

Since then, the “cyber” prefix has spun out of control, with cyber-warriors at cyber-command engaging cyber-enemies in cyber-warfare, after which we shall presumably see cyber-babes cheer on the cyber-veterans in cyber-parades with their cyber-medals. But we won’t have to go to the parades, since we’ll watch it all on Google Glass, which is what we’re apparently all going to be doing soon instead of dating, mating, and procreating, like any other mammalian species.

Now, finally, comes Thomas Rid, a German-born professor of war studies in the UK, to rekindle this debate. It took a younger German — irony alert — to explain to Americans what “war” means, in a new book whose title does not leave you grasping for his meaning: Cyber War Will Not Take Place.

A profile in the Boston Globe summed it up nicely:

Calling digital attacks “war,” Rid argues, wrongly equates computers with traditional military weapons. “Code can’t explode, plain and simple,” he says. “So you have to weaponize a target system, be it an airplane, a pacemaker, a power plant, something else.” Any successful digital attack must be highly tailored, requires quality intelligence, and only becomes “war” if the end result is something we’d acknowledge as an act of war.

Of course, military traditionalists love this kind of talk. For the record, I am not one of them. During the years I spent teaching in and chairing the Strategy Department at the Naval War College, I have dutifully taught the writings of Clausewitz (material I first learned as Jeane Kirkpatrick’s teaching assistant, so I studied with one of the Old Masters), but always with skepticism and with a warning not to fetishize the works of an early 19th century Prussian.

Indeed, if you want to see a good example of that kind of fetishism, here’s one of Rid’s critics in the Globe piece:

Major Paulo Shakarian, a professor at West Point and the author of the recently published “Introduction to Cyber-Warfare: A Multidisciplinary Approach,” applies what he calls a “Carl von Clausewitz approach to cyberwar.” Invoking the famous strategist’s tenet that “war is an extension of politics by other means,” Shakarian said, “It’s no different in cyberspace. It doesn’t have to involve a certain type of violence.”

With all due respect to the Major: yeah, it kinda does. This is cherry-picking Clausewitz, whose works actually provide a good reminder that war is more than hostility, it’s actual violence. (Not “cyber” violence. The real, getting dead kind of violence.)

And here, Rid is on to something essential: people have to die in wars. Lots of them. Saying that “a lot of people were massively inconvenienced” or “billions of dollars were looted and lost” is not the same thing. Consider this discussion in the Globe article of the 2012 attack against Saudi Arabia’s national oil company, ARAMCO, by a group of hackers calling themselves the “Cutting Sword of Justice:”

 In one of the most destructive hacker strikes yet leveled against a single company, 30,000 ARAMCO computer workstations were shut down and their data deleted. But, Rid points out, it was entirely nonviolent, and it did not affect oil production.

“It was a massively efficient act of sabotage, because the company was not able to operate at the office level for an entire week,” said Rid. “But not a single person was hurt.”

 

Now that’s a cyberattack.

My students, especially the younger ones at Harvard Summer and Extension, where I teach a course on the “Future of War,” sometimes object to this, arguing that a massive blackout, for example, is “terrorism” or even “war.” (This, of course, leads me immediately to tease them that they naturally think of any disruption in their constant connection to the internet as “terrifying.”) I call those actions sabotage, economic attacks, espionage…in other words, all the perfectly good words we had for those things before computers.

Think of it this way. We’ve all celebrated how the U.S. (or so President Obama, I guess, has admitted) stuck a virus, STUXNET, into Iran’s nuclear research facilities, and slowed down Iran’s march towards a nuclear bomb. Cyber-attack! And cyber-success!

I’m a James Bond fan. I kind of like the opening of Goldeneye, the first Brosnan film (take your “Connery is God” arguments elsewhere), in which 007 and 006 sneak in and blow up a Soviet chemical weapons factory out in the middle of nowhere:

What’s the difference between STUXNET and 007? I don’t see much. In both cases, agents of one power conduct espionage and sabotage against facilities of an enemy power in a way that allows deniability. (Or as the major powers of planet Earth would call it, “Tuesday.”) Why does a using a computer instead of a vodka-soaked secret agent make it different?

Spoiler Alert: It doesn’t.

My military students sometimes make a better case, but along the same lines: what if someone attacks the computer systems that control the defense of the United States? What if someone tries to squirrel around with the stuff that lets the President communicate with important parts of our defense, like, say…oh, I don’t know…our nuclear weapons?

In that case, boys and girls, ladies and gentlemen, we already have a word for what’s going on: war.

No one in Moscow or Beijing is going to wake up one morning and say: “Let’s cripple STRATCOM and see what happens.” That’s mighty serious business, and if it’s going to be done, you can be sure that we’re either already in a shootin’ war, or soon to be in one.

Yes, cyber-attacks — that is, computer attacks on other computer systems — can get people killed. (Hey, we all saw Live Free or Die Hard, we know that messing up traffic lights and causing blackouts can kill people. It’s already happened by accident.)

But the essential thing about sabotage, whether done on-site by smirky Brits or by nerds with Cheetoh-stained fingers from afar, is that it is only war if states choose to recognize it as such, which is what makes “cyberwar” nonsense. Whether an attack on a country’s information infrastructure is an act of war is up to the targeted regime to decide, not political scientists trying to coin new terms or military officers looking for new commands to create.

What’s especially maddening, of course, is that the whole notion of “cyberwar” has been pushed as though no one’s ever done this kind of stuff before. (Insert my usual gripes about the limited historical awareness of Americans here.) For years, we passed faulty technical information on a lot of things to the USSR, and by one account we even helped blow up part of the Siberian gas pipeline. Whether that was our doing is less clear than the larger reality, which is that we conducted what today’s nerds would call “cyberwar” all the way back into the bad old Cold War.

Back then, it was simply called “sabotage,” because that’s what it is. When one country discovers it and decides to do something about it — something that involves an actual, physical attack — then it’s “war.”

I said it two years ago and I’ll say it again: “Cyberwar,” and its cousin “cyberterrorism,” are to war and terrorism what “cybersex” is to sex. They might generate some of the same emotions, and they may even produce, in some limited way, some of the same physical results. But they’re not the same thing, and no one would mistake one for the other.

 

An advance look at a new book: “No Use: Nuclear Weapons and U.S. National Security”

Penn Press is allowing me to offer an advance copy of the preface, table of contents, and introduction to my newest book.

Thanks to my editor, Bill Finan, and Jaime Estrada at Permissions for their assistance.

Here’s the description and endorsements. To order the full book from the Amazon page, click here or on the image below.

For more than forty years, the United States has maintained a public commitment to nuclear disarmament, and every president from Ronald Reagan to Barack Obama has gradually reduced the size of America’s nuclear forces. Yet even now, over two decades after the end of the Cold War, the United States maintains a huge nuclear arsenal on high alert and ready for war. The Americans, like the Russians, the Chinese, and other major nuclear powers, continue to retain a deep faith in the political and military value of nuclear force, and this belief remains enshrined at the center of U.S. defense policy regardless of the radical changes that have taken place in international politics.

In No Use, national security scholar Thomas M. Nichols offers a lucid, accessible reexamination of the role of nuclear weapons and their prominence in U.S. security strategy. Nichols explains why strategies built for the Cold War have survived into the twenty-first century, and he illustrates how America’s nearly unshakable belief in the utility of nuclear arms has hindered U.S. and international attempts to slow the nuclear programs of volatile regimes in North Korea and Iran. From a solid historical foundation, Nichols makes the compelling argument that to end the danger of worldwide nuclear holocaust, the United States must take the lead in abandoning unrealistic threats of nuclear force and then create a new and more stable approach to deterrence for the twenty-first century.

 

Editorial Reviews

“A level-headed, jargon-free rejection of false choices about our nuclear future. Tom Nichols has written a very fine book for newcomers to the Bomb as well as for those who have become too comfortable with its acquaintance. At a time when domestic political wrangles and seemingly intractable nuclear dilemmas abound, Nichols offers a thought-provoking argument for the United States to drop all pretense about the Bomb and to unilaterally adopt a posture of minimum nuclear deterrence.”—Michael Krepon, Cofounder of The Stimson Center

“With the end of the Cold War, many of us stopped thinking about nuclear weapons. Thomas Nichols explains why we had better pay attention, and his thoughtful and penetrating analysis will guide us in paying better attention.”—Robert Jervis, Columbia University

“A succinct and well-written account of an important and much-debated national security issue. Nichols makes a convincing case for abandoning nuclear threats and relying on conventional deterrence and compellence to deal with nuclear proliferators.”—T. V. Paul, McGill University

“A highly readable counternarrative to sixty years of prevailing wisdom about nuclear weapons and U.S. foreign policy.”—Jeffrey Lewis, Monterey Institute of International Studies

Words of wisdom on civil-military relations: LTG Barno on MG Scales’s “corrosive” views

Three cheers for LTG David Barno(ret), who in yesterday’sWashington Post took a clear and principled stand against the inappropriate political involvement of the military in foreign policy debates.

General Barno was reacting to a piece published in the middle of last week’s Syria debate (and which I referenced in my previous post about Syria) by retired Major General Robert Scales.

Scales is a distinguished Army commander whose last post was as the head of the U.S. Army War College. He’s a tough, brilliant guy — he has a PhD in history from Duke to prove it — which is why his cheap shots in the Washington Post last week were such a stunning violation of America’s civil-military traditions.

Scales, in effect, said that the senior military commanders he knew — and he implied that he was speaking on behalf of practically the entire U.S. high command — had lost confidence in the Commander in Chief and his team of hippie nitwits.

Here are some of the more glittering moments:

After personal exchanges with dozens of active and retired soldiers in recent days, I feel confident that what follows represents the overwhelming opinion of serving professionals who have been intimate witnesses to the unfolding events that will lead the United States into its next war.

They are embarrassed to be associated with the amateurism of the Obama administration’s attempts to craft a plan that makes strategic sense. None of the White House staff has any experience in war or understands it….

It gets better (or, actually, worse). Our senior officers, according to Scales, are “repelled by the hypocrisy of a media blitz”

that warns against the return of Hitlerism but privately acknowledges that the motive for risking American lives is our “responsibility to protect” the world’s innocents….The U.S. military’s civilian masters privately are proud that they are motivated by guilt over slaughters in Rwanda, Sudan and Kosovo and not by any systemic threat to our country.

Repelled! And they’re “outraged,” too, by

the fact that what may happen is an act of war and a willingness to risk American lives to make up for a slip of the tongue about “red lines.” These acts would be for retribution and to restore the reputation of a president.

And in case you were too dense to get the general’s point until now:

They are tired of wannabe soldiers who remain enamored of the lure of bloodless machine warfare.

This is so appalling on so many levels that it’s hard to know where to begin. For one thing, it seems to imply that unless our civilian leaders are a bunch of battle-hardened GI Joes, they’d better not even think of making any policies that might contradict the innate strategic brilliance of the men and women who’ve been out there in the deserts and the jungles. (You know, like Tommy Franks, or maybe William Westmoreland.)

It also makes clear that senior commanders should feel free to gripe anonymously to retired general officers who will aggregate their views, speak for them all, and then proceed to blister the pages of the Washington Post with their complaints.

Look, I have many disagreements with official policy and I’m not shy about them. I take my job as an academic seriously enough that I think it’s actually it’s my duty as a citizen and scholar to be an active and independent participant in debates about national security.

What Scales did was different, however. He was claiming to speak for the senior uniformed military — something I and my colleagues would never claim to do. (Just a reminder for the millionth time: I have a constant disclaimer at the bottom of every page that makes clear I speak on behalf of nobody but myself.)

Moreover, Scales let his hyperbole get away from him. As I pointed out in my last post, I have no idea what he could mean when he says that “the United States is the only liberal democracy that has never been ruled by its military.” That’s just flatly wrong, and if I were a Canadian, an Australian, or a citizen of any of number of countries with a healthy history of civil-military affairs, I’d be offended and puzzled that a U.S. general with a PhD in history has no idea what he’s talking about.

Finally, Scales wrote: “Civilian control of the armed services doesn’t mean that civilians shouldn’t listen to those who have seen war.”

True. But that does not therefore mean anyone with combat experience gets a de facto vetoon policy, either, which is what Scales seemed to be arguing. (As an aside, I think this is part of an overall disdain MG Scales has for civilians, and you can read about the disagreement I had with him last spring about his views on military education here.)

Anyway, enter Lt. General Barno, previously commander of U.S. and coalition forces in Afghanistan from 2003 to 2005, and now at the Center for a New American Security.

Here’s Barno’s reaction. He said that Scales’s article

marks a dangerous breach of the fundamental civilian-military relationship in the United States. Its corrosive premise — that our civilian leadership is not up to the task of deciding the nation’s course in war — must be addressed before our military begins to believe that it should have the biggest say in decisions to go to war.

Scales…is a powerful voice among the Army’s retired generals. His words are all the more dangerous because they carry such weight.

Scales purported to speak for a uniformed military leadership that he asserts is at odds with the White House over military action in Syria. Never mind that this decision rests fully with our nation’s elected leaders — Congress and the president — exactly as the Constitution prescribes. Nor that the president’s decision to consult Congress is intended, properly, to directly engage the American people in this debate through their elected representatives.

Scales’s argument implies that, in an era in which the nation’s civilian leadership has less and less military experience, only the military has the expertise appropriate to judge the risks and rewards associated with going to war. But under the Constitution, it matters not one whit whether our civilian leadership has experienced war; Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt were neophytes in warfare, and both were superb wartime leaders.

Amen. Again, Scales is an historian and should know better. And then Barno got right to the essential point:

Arguments such as Scales’s imply that the military has a voice, and vote, of its own — and suggest that channels outside the chain of command are fair game to publicly express dissenting views.

This breach of the proper civilian-military relationship is disruptive and potentially corrosive to our constitutional division of powers. It must be publicly rejected by our uniformed military leadership, who must reassert throughout the ranks the proper role of the military as faithful servants of the nation in the profession of arms.

I just can’t improve on that. So instead, I’ll just say: thank you, General Barno.

Letting go of intervention in Syria

Last week, I wrote a piece on the reasons to intervene in Syria. I did what critics of an intervention asked, and provided two goals for U.S. action and a way forward. Since then, I have changed my mind: the time has passed, and the window for an effective intervention in Syria has closed. Even if the President were not about to lose a vote in Congress — which, it seems, is now likely — it’s time to let it go, at least for now.

This is a good place to remind you all that I write and speak in my own capacity as a scholar and policy expert, and not as a representative of any of the institutions with which I am associated.

The bitter-enders like William Kristol are arguing that we have no choice, and particularly that House Republicans should resist the urge to deliver a mortal blow to the President over Syria:

The fact is that Obama is the only president we have. We can’t abdicate our position in the world for the next three years. So Republicans will have to resist the temptation to weaken him when the cost is weakening the country. A party that for at least two generations has held high the banner of American leadership and strength should not cast a vote that obviously risks a damaging erosion of this country’s stature and credibility abroad.

I think that’s both alarmist and inaccurate. It’s true that the President will suffer a political defeat if this vote fails, but I’d argue that this whole circus has gone on for so long at this point that the damage is already done, to the President and to the country, even if the vote — somehow — comes out in his favor.

This debate, both in the country at large and in Washington, just went on too long, became too partisan, too hysterical, and too drenched in sanctimony and ignorance. Even if we do the right thing, it will be for all the wrong reasons.

Meanwhile, while we’ve dithered and argued, the Syrian regime has recovered its footing. The Brits are out, the Russians are up, the UN is down. The Syrians have used gas, and they have now learned that at best, the democracies will react to such things by tying themselves up in knots and engaging in horribly self-referential navel-gazing, dilatory hearings, and earnest hand-wringing. A stumble into Syria isn’t going to sober us up.

Letting this one go doesn’t mean giving up on everything forever. We’ve recovered from far worse than this: we went from a loss in Vietnam to putting the Soviet Union on the road to oblivion in the space of a decade. This kind of ghastly fumble is recoverable, but not right away. We need to start a far greater reconstruction of our foreign policy, and we can’t do that while we’re doubled over from punching each other in the groin over Syria.

Note that I have not changed my mind about the moral justice of intervention against the regime of Bashar Assad. Nor am I any more or less worried about the many horrible alternatives conjured up by opponents of military action. Rather — and here I am speaking to my fellow liberal interventionists — it is time to let this go because the combined actions of a critical mass of people in the elected branches of the U.S. government, the defense intellectual community, and especially in the media have created a situation in which any action now risks becoming a complete disaster both in Syria and at home.

We had a chance to do something right and good, and through our own self-indulgence, laziness, petulance, ignorance, and incompetence, we’ve blown it. There’s plenty of blame to go around. Partisans of each party will blame the President or the Congress, depending on their alliances; others will point the finger abroad at British Prime Minister David Cameron, Iran, the United Nations, Vladimir Putin — well, we should lay some blame on Putin, to be sure — and any number of other actors for the continuation of the Syrian slaughter.

But in the end, we have only ourselves, the American people, to blame. We’ve spoken loud and clear, and we’ve said in a steady voice: “We no longer have any idea what the hell we’re doing or what we stand for.”

And our elected officials have listened. In the President’s case, his initial and correct gut instinct to go after the Syrian regime for using chemical weapons was blunted by the popular argument that he needed (unlike other Presidents) to go to Congress, producing a fateful delay.

Congress in turn asked its constituents what they wanted. Faced with a hypothetical intervention — and people hate those hypotheticals –  in a place they don’t know much about, they opted for doing nothing so that they could get back to arguing over the proper use of the word “twerking.”

Of course, in the end, many of the people opposed to intervention blame George Bush and the Iraq war for their reticence. That seems plausible the first time you hear it, and then you start to wonder: do President Obama’s supporters really think he’s as untrustworthy as they think President Bush was? Do Republicans who supported Bush in 2003 really want to make the argument they were hoodwinked and are now gun-shy?

Here’s a spoiler to those questions: I think the “it’s because of Bush” arguments are just plain bullshit all around. This isn’t 2003; Obama isn’t Bush; the existence and use of WMD in this case are not notional but real; and no one’s talking about an invasion. Conjuring up a debate from last decade is just another way of running for political cover on a tough call. Enough already.

To be sure, this time around in a Middle East conflict, Americans weren’t offered much in the way of explanations or leadership. I am still mystified, as are many people, by the President’s sudden turns over the past month. Secretary of State John Kerry, in one of the best speeches of his life, made a clear case for action, but the President made an 11th-hour change that left his national security team (according to reports, anyway) as puzzled as everyone else.

On the other hand (and in fairness to the administration), you shouldn’t need a whole lot of explanation about why chemical attacks on civilians should be stopped. This should have been as close as there is to a no-brainer (if not a “slam dunk,” a term we may never use again) by the standards of post-Cold War U.S. foreign policy.

I believe if the President had made the case quickly and forcefully, our initial strikes would already be over. At the G-20, the President could now be explaining to Putin that if he doesn’t like what we did, Russia should have helped get Assad under control a lot earlier than this.

But that’s not how it went.

Meanwhile, our military leaders are…well, it’s not clear what they’re doing. Apparently, a lot of them are talking to journalists and retired generals, complaining behind the scenes about a war they don’t want to fight. The ultimate triumph of this insider campaign was an appalling piece by retired Army Major General Robert Scales in the Washington Post this week, in which Scales sought to disrupt the delicate, crucial balance of civil-military relations by letting us all know just how much our valiant warriors want nothing to do with what they obviously see as a bunch of confused chicken hawks and hippies in the White House:

Our senior soldiers…are tired of wannabe soldiers who remain enamored of the lure of bloodless machine warfare….Our military members understand and take seriously their oath to defend the constitutional authority of their civilian masters. They understand that the United States is the only liberal democracy that has never been ruled by its military. But today’s soldiers know war and resent civilian policymakers who want the military to fight a war that neither they nor their loved ones will experience firsthand.

You can almost hear Scales throwing a beer can at the television while telling Meathead and Gloria to shut their pie-holes. (And since when is America the only liberal democracy that’s never been ruled by the military? Was there a coup in Canada that I missed?)

Scales, like the rest of us, is a private citizen and can say anything he likes, but his hit piece on civilian policymakers is one of many that contained the “every military officer I talked to thinks…” line in it. That’s a dangerous thing in a democracy: as a civilian who once advised a senior member of Congress, I am not interested in which wars the military wants to fight. I didn’t realize it worked that way. (I also had no idea that retired generals were able to speak on behalf of anonymous members of the senior command in the pages of one of America’s newspapers of record.)

Anyway, the only thing worse than a bad policy is the refusal ever to give up on that bad policy, and I’m giving up on this one. After the 2003 Gulf War, U.S. Ambassador Barbara Bodine said that there were only four or five ways to have done the Iraq war right, and 500 ways to do it wrong. What she didn’t count on, she later admitted, was that we were going to try all 500 ways first.

That’s what I think is about to happen with Syria. Intervention is the right thing to do. But not if we try all 500 stupid ways first.

Syria has also been the perfect venue, like a singles bar at 2 am, for the moonbat left and the wingnut right to find each other out of desperation. (Among the many low points: Fox’s Eric Bolling covering his hand in ketchup on national television. Seriously.) And no one can flood the zone with bad information and conspiracy theories like extremists, and that does have a solid impact on an American population whose political literacy is already abysmally low.

The more disturbing trend, however, has been the way in which partisans of both parties have been mortgaging their principles in the name of party loyalty. Republicans who cheered on a full-up invasion of Iraq now thoughtfully pull on their chins and call for cooler heads to prevail while they pretend to reflect on strategic theory. Democrats, for their part, have rediscovered the joys of intervention. (Howard Dean supports a strike on Syria. Howard Dean?)

Let’s just say it out loud: we, collectively, have allowed our foreign policy to drown in a partisan swamp. The President tried to outflank Congress by handing them the power they say they want but in reality that they never want. Republicans have held up action because they loathe President Obama and do not want him to get credit for any kind of successful military action, no matter how right the cause. Democrats, meanwhile, are signing on to military strikes that they would normally oppose with screams so loud the veins in their heads would pop, all because this time it’s their guy who thought of doing it.

There are exceptions on both sides: Vietnam veterans John McCain and John Kerry are the obvious choices. But overall, there has been a partisan division in our leadership, one that reflects the sour, churlish, partisan mood of the American people.

And in a democracy, the people have the right to be wrong. Further down the road, we’ll have to pay the price for the American public’s ill-informed hissy fits on everything from the NSA to Syria, but those days aren’t here yet. While I still believe that the President could have turned public opinion around, especially if he had acted rather than displaying his own doubts, the fact of the matter is that the American public has decided that the use of chemical weapons against innocent civilians is something they can live with.

So be it. We’ll have to fight this out again when the next outrage takes place. And because of what we’ve done — what we have all done — this time around, there will be another outrage, perhaps one far worse than this. For now, we’re going to have to just tough it out, man up, and accept that Assad, at least temporarily, is going to enjoy a victory we’ve given him through a series of unforced errors, all of our own making.

We think that by refusing to engage in military action, we’ve chosen not to create a mess. That’s a comforting fantasy. Sooner than we realize, we’ll wish we had taken our chances with all this on our own initiative, instead of having more dire decisions forced upon us later.

Last week, I wrote a piece on the reasons to intervene in Syria. I did what critics of an intervention asked, and provided two goals for U.S. action and a way forward. Since then, I have changed my mind: the time has passed, and the window for an effective intervention in Syria has closed. Even if the President were not about to lose a vote in Congress — which, it seems, is now likely — it’s time to let it go, at least for now.

This is a good place to remind you all that I write and speak in my own capacity as a scholar and policy expert, and not as a representative of any of the institutions with which I am associated.

The bitter-enders like William Kristol are arguing that we have no choice, and particularly that House Republicans should resist the urge to deliver a mortal blow to the President over Syria:

The fact is that Obama is the only president we have. We can’t abdicate our position in the world for the next three years. So Republicans will have to resist the temptation to weaken him when the cost is weakening the country. A party that for at least two generations has held high the banner of American leadership and strength should not cast a vote that obviously risks a damaging erosion of this country’s stature and credibility abroad.

I think that’s both alarmist and inaccurate. It’s true that the President will suffer a political defeat if this vote fails, but I’d argue that this whole circus has gone on for so long at this point that the damage is already done, to the President and to the country, even if the vote — somehow — comes out in his favor.

This debate, both in the country at large and in Washington, just went on too long, became too partisan, too hysterical, and too drenched in sanctimony and ignorance. Even if we do the right thing, it will be for all the wrong reasons.

Meanwhile, while we’ve dithered and argued, the Syrian regime has recovered its footing. The Brits are out, the Russians are up, the UN is down. The Syrians have used gas, and they have now learned that at best, the democracies will react to such things by tying themselves up in knots and engaging in horribly self-referential navel-gazing, dilatory hearings, and earnest hand-wringing. A stumble into Syria isn’t going to sober us up.

Letting this one go doesn’t mean giving up on everything forever. We’ve recovered from far worse than this: we went from a loss in Vietnam to putting the Soviet Union on the road to oblivion in the space of a decade. This kind of ghastly fumble is recoverable, but not right away. We need to start a far greater reconstruction of our foreign policy, and we can’t do that while we’re doubled over from punching each other in the groin over Syria.

Note that I have not changed my mind about the moral justice of intervention against the regime of Bashar Assad. Nor am I any more or less worried about the many horrible alternatives conjured up by opponents of military action. Rather — and here I am speaking to my fellow liberal interventionists — it is time to let this go because the combined actions of a critical mass of people in the elected branches of the U.S. government, the defense intellectual community, and especially in the media have created a situation in which any action now risks becoming a complete disaster both in Syria and at home.

We had a chance to do something right and good, and through our own self-indulgence, laziness, petulance, ignorance, and incompetence, we’ve blown it. There’s plenty of blame to go around. Partisans of each party will blame the President or the Congress, depending on their alliances; others will point the finger abroad at British Prime Minister David Cameron, Iran, the United Nations, Vladimir Putin — well, we should lay some blame on Putin, to be sure — and any number of other actors for the continuation of the Syrian slaughter.

But in the end, we have only ourselves, the American people, to blame. We’ve spoken loud and clear, and we’ve said in a steady voice: “We no longer have any idea what the hell we’re doing or what we stand for.”

And our elected officials have listened. In the President’s case, his initial and correct gut instinct to go after the Syrian regime for using chemical weapons was blunted by the popular argument that he needed (unlike other Presidents) to go to Congress, producing a fateful delay.

Congress in turn asked its constituents what they wanted. Faced with a hypothetical intervention — and people hate those hypotheticals –  in a place they don’t know much about, they opted for doing nothing so that they could get back to arguing over the proper use of the word “twerking.”

Of course, in the end, many of the people opposed to intervention blame George Bush and the Iraq war for their reticence. That seems plausible the first time you hear it, and then you start to wonder: do President Obama’s supporters really think he’s as untrustworthy as they think President Bush was? Do Republicans who supported Bush in 2003 really want to make the argument they were hoodwinked and are now gun-shy?

Here’s a spoiler to those questions: I think the “it’s because of Bush” arguments are just plain bullshit all around. This isn’t 2003; Obama isn’t Bush; the existence and use of WMD in this case are not notional but real; and no one’s talking about an invasion. Conjuring up a debate from last decade is just another way of running for political cover on a tough call. Enough already.

To be sure, this time around in a Middle East conflict, Americans weren’t offered much in the way of explanations or leadership. I am still mystified, as are many people, by the President’s sudden turns over the past month. Secretary of State John Kerry, in one of the best speeches of his life, made a clear case for action, but the President made an 11th-hour change that left his national security team (according to reports, anyway) as puzzled as everyone else.

On the other hand (and in fairness to the administration), you shouldn’t need a whole lot of explanation about why chemical attacks on civilians should be stopped. This should have been as close as there is to a no-brainer (if not a “slam dunk,” a term we may never use again) by the standards of post-Cold War U.S. foreign policy.

I believe if the President had made the case quickly and forcefully, our initial strikes would already be over. At the G-20, the President could now be explaining to Putin that if he doesn’t like what we did, Russia should have helped get Assad under control a lot earlier than this.

But that’s not how it went.

Meanwhile, our military leaders are…well, it’s not clear what they’re doing. Apparently, a lot of them are talking to journalists and retired generals, complaining behind the scenes about a war they don’t want to fight. The ultimate triumph of this insider campaign was an appalling piece by retired Army Major General Robert Scales in the Washington Post this week, in which Scales sought to disrupt the delicate, crucial balance of civil-military relations by letting us all know just how much our valiant warriors want nothing to do with what they obviously see as a bunch of confused chicken hawks and hippies in the White House:

Our senior soldiers…are tired of wannabe soldiers who remain enamored of the lure of bloodless machine warfare….Our military members understand and take seriously their oath to defend the constitutional authority of their civilian masters. They understand that the United States is the only liberal democracy that has never been ruled by its military. But today’s soldiers know war and resent civilian policymakers who want the military to fight a war that neither they nor their loved ones will experience firsthand.

You can almost hear Scales throwing a beer can at the television while telling Meathead and Gloria to shut their pie-holes. (And since when is America the only liberal democracy that’s never been ruled by the military? Was there a coup in Canada that I missed?)

Scales, like the rest of us, is a private citizen and can say anything he likes, but his hit piece on civilian policymakers is one of many that contained the “every military officer I talked to thinks…” line in it. That’s a dangerous thing in a democracy: as a civilian who once advised a senior member of Congress, I am not interested in which wars the military wants to fight. I didn’t realize it worked that way. (I also had no idea that retired generals were able to speak on behalf of anonymous members of the senior command in the pages of one of America’s newspapers of record.)

Anyway, the only thing worse than a bad policy is the refusal ever to give up on that bad policy, and I’m giving up on this one. After the 2003 Gulf War, U.S. Ambassador Barbara Bodine said that there were only four or five ways to have done the Iraq war right, and 500 ways to do it wrong. What she didn’t count on, she later admitted, was that we were going to try all 500 ways first.

That’s what I think is about to happen with Syria. Intervention is the right thing to do. But not if we try all 500 stupid ways first.

Syria has also been the perfect venue, like a singles bar at 2 am, for the moonbat left and the wingnut right to find each other out of desperation. (Among the many low points: Fox’s Eric Bolling covering his hand in ketchup on national television. Seriously.) And no one can flood the zone with bad information and conspiracy theories like extremists, and that does have a solid impact on an American population whose political literacy is already abysmally low.

The more disturbing trend, however, has been the way in which partisans of both parties have been mortgaging their principles in the name of party loyalty. Republicans who cheered on a full-up invasion of Iraq now thoughtfully pull on their chins and call for cooler heads to prevail while they pretend to reflect on strategic theory. Democrats, for their part, have rediscovered the joys of intervention. (Howard Dean supports a strike on Syria. Howard Dean?)

Let’s just say it out loud: we, collectively, have allowed our foreign policy to drown in a partisan swamp. The President tried to outflank Congress by handing them the power they say they want but in reality that they never want. Republicans have held up action because they loathe President Obama and do not want him to get credit for any kind of successful military action, no matter how right the cause. Democrats, meanwhile, are signing on to military strikes that they would normally oppose with screams so loud the veins in their heads would pop, all because this time it’s their guy who thought of doing it.

There are exceptions on both sides: Vietnam veterans John McCain and John Kerry are the obvious choices. But overall, there has been a partisan division in our leadership, one that reflects the sour, churlish, partisan mood of the American people.

And in a democracy, the people have the right to be wrong. Further down the road, we’ll have to pay the price for the American public’s ill-informed hissy fits on everything from the NSA to Syria, but those days aren’t here yet. While I still believe that the President could have turned public opinion around, especially if he had acted rather than displaying his own doubts, the fact of the matter is that the American public has decided that the use of chemical weapons against innocent civilians is something they can live with.

So be it. We’ll have to fight this out again when the next outrage takes place. And because of what we’ve done — what we have all done — this time around, there will be another outrage, perhaps one far worse than this. For now, we’re going to have to just tough it out, man up, and accept that Assad, at least temporarily, is going to enjoy a victory we’ve given him through a series of unforced errors, all of our own making.

We think that by refusing to engage in military action, we’ve chosen not to create a mess. That’s a comforting fantasy. Sooner than we realize, we’ll wish we had taken our chances with all this on our own initiative, instead of having more dire decisions forced upon us later.

Repeal the War Powers Resolution

In 2011, as the U.S. and NATO intervened in Libya, I wrote a piece for World Politics Review on the War Powers Resolution. As we approach what looks to be the use of military force in Syria, I am reproducing it here. The original can be found at World Policy Review here.

24 MAY 2011

The debate over whether President Barack Obama violated the 1973 War Powers Resolution by committing U.S. forces to Operation Odyssey Dawn, including the drama of outraged legislators condemning yet another president for disregarding this curious law, was predictable. This most recent effort, like others before it, will probably come to nothing. But the legislation itself is dangerous, and the attempts to invoke it should stop. Republicans and Democrats now have an opportunity to remove the War Powers Resolution from our national life, and they should seize it.

There is an unavoidable tension in the Constitution between the president’s role as commander in chief (Article II, section two) and the power of Congress to declare war (Article I, section eight). Although Congress controls defense funding and the Senate must approve treaties, the legislature has little power over the actual execution of military operations. In the wake of Vietnam, an angry Congress tried to settle the matter by legislative fiat with the War Powers Resolution, passed over then-President Richard Nixon’s veto in 1973. The important clauses of the resolution allow Congress to direct the withdrawal of U.S. forces from action no later than 60 days after the outbreak of hostilities, unless Congress declares war, extends the 60-day period or is unable to meet due to enemy action, such as a nuclear attack.

This constitutes a “legislative veto” over executive authority, a concept ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court nearly 30 years ago. The War Powers Resolution itself has never been adjudicated by the Supreme Court, and from the 1983 invasion of Grenada to the 2011 NATO attack on Libya, presidents have traditionally ignored its requirements while eventually submitting reports that are “consistent with,” but not in response to, the resolution. In the meantime, a familiar dance takes place, in which the president continues military action while any legislative opposition, otherwise powerless, briefly roils Washington for a week or two by threatening to invoke the resolution. It is a bipartisan game that is always ill-advised, even with the best of intentions.

More than 20 years ago, for example, President George H.W. Bush was convinced that Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait had to be reversed or else his entire project of building a stable post-Cold War order would collapse. Republican Sen. John Heinz conferred at the time with a group of his GOP colleagues, who considered invoking the resolution. It was the law of the land, Heinz reasoned, even if his intention was to use it as a show of support for presidential action rather than as a legal roadblock. However, after considering the many constitutional and military risks involved, Heinz discarded the idea. Bush and the country would be spared the spectacle of a national debate over the president’s powers, and Operation Desert Storm took place without further political complications.

As the aide who wrote the memo that Heinz studied, outlining the dangers posed to U.S. national security by the War Powers Resolution, I am intimately familiar with this particular historical “what if” moment.

The War Powers Resolution was a bad idea then, and it is a bad idea now. As satisfying as it might be in the short term to hobble the president, both parties would come to regret the consequences of such political combat, not least because it would shift greater responsibility for military action onto a Congress that in the long run may not want it — a point raised by then-Rep. Lee Hamilton and others during a failed 1995 effort to repeal the resolution.

Worse, the War Powers Act is dangerous to our troops and to our national security. Imagine if it were ever taken seriously as an ongoing restriction on military action: A crisis arises, and the president responds by deploying U.S. forces, perhaps to support an ally or to enforce a United Nations resolution. The clock begins ticking, and after 60 days — or sooner, if Congress so directs — the president must recall U.S. troops. Thus, the resolution in effect tells any enemy that the best strategy against U.S. military force is to hunker down and wait out the 60-day period, in hopes that the resulting political fight in Washington will be messy enough to tear apart the nation and undermine Americans’ will to fight.

It is folly to tell any potential enemy that he has 60 days to play one branch of the United States government off against another. Presidents answer to the American people and, in the most extreme instance, to the Senate during impeachment. These mechanisms do not need to be superseded by a contested law that invites the micromanagement of U.S. military operations by 535 additional commanders-in-chief.

Legislators from both parties now have a rare opportunity to exercise statesmanship. They can declare that their differences might be deep and principled, but that our political system cannot be shaken during a military conflict. A bipartisan move to repeal the War Powers Resolution — and to protect the necessary ability of presidents to engage in military action now and in the future — would send a powerful message to dictators and terrorists who have always placed their hopes, however vainly, in a mistaken belief that democracies are too divided and too weak to stop them. The War Powers Resolution should be shelved, once and for all, as a danger not to any one president or party, but to the security of the United States.

The era of arms control is over…or should have been

Today, Kingston Reif over at the Nukes of Hazard blog — and you just have to love the name of that site — points out something painfully obvious: Republican presidents can talk about major reductions in nuclear weapons. Democrats can’t. And that’s a shame.

Reif points out, quite sensibly, that Republican senators, in this case, Jeff Sessions of Alabama, seize up when a Democrat proposes exactly the kinds of nuclear reductions favored by a Republican chief executive.

More to the point, Republican presidents like Bush and his father have been more willing to think about unilateral reductions, which don’t seem to cause heartburn if they say it but gives everyone the vapors if a liberal says the same thing.

Believe it or not, this isn’t pure partisanship.

Some of it comes from the way that conservatives and liberals see the world around them, as well as the fact that they just don’t trust each other. (They never really did. The vaunted era of foreign policy bipartisanship never really existed, but that’s an issue for the historians to discuss.)

In my new book — you knew the shameless plug was coming – I talk about this at length, and I argue that the United States should return to the path of arms reductions suggested by George W. Bush, which was actually a more liberal proposal than what President Obama is pushing.

Here’s Reif explaining it today:

In a well-coordinated series of press statements and op-eds in response to the speech, Republican members of Congress, former Bush administration officials, and the ICBM pork caucus trotted out the standard-issue talking points against changing our outdated nuclear strategy. But in a fit of candor, Sen. Sessions strayed wildly off-message and revealed the pure, unadulterated partisanship animating his party’s attitude on nuclear weapons issues. The day after the President’s speech, Sessions told a gathering on Capitol Hill that:

If George Bush said I think we could get to 1000, 1100 nuclear weapons and I believe we can still defend America, that’s one thing.

The thing is, George Bush pretty much did say that.

After his election, President Bush continued to voice his preference for unilaterally reducing the US nuclear arsenal. In a November 2001 press conference with Vladimir Putin, Bush announced that pursuant to a recently completed nuclear posture review, the United States would reduce its arsenal of deployed strategic warheads from approximately 6,000 to 1,700-2,200 (!) as a matter of national policy without a formal arms control agreement with Russia. “We don’t need arms control negotiations,” Bush said, “to reduce our weaponry in a significant way.”

And he was right.

Bush was showing a clear impatience with the cumbersome machinery of arms control. Like most Presidents, Bush was appalled at the size of the U.S. arsenal when he got his first briefing on it in May 2001. Like most Republicans, Bush was less about process than about outcomes.

That’s not a slam on Democrats; rather, it’s pointing out that the Democrats have always had a more lawyerly, legalistic approach to arms control than their brethren across the aisle. Sometimes that’s not a bad idea: process keeps people talking, and talking is better than fighting. But sometimes, it’s just pointless. (Exhibit A: Jimmy Carter’s chief negotiator Paul Warnke in 1977 smugly declaring that Americans must “educate the Soviet marshals” out of their “primitive” notions about nuclear war. Uh huh. Guess who schooled whom.)

This is because liberals, as a rule, value international institutions and practices more than conservatives. Conservatives, by their nature, tend to be pessimists. This is the way I put it in chapter three of No Use: 

As a general observation, American liberals tend to value international institutions, see the processes of international negotiation with opponents as valuable in itself, and are sympathetic—sometimes overly so—to the concerns of other nations about the magnitude of U.S. power.

Conservatives, by contrast, focus on the anarchical nature of the international system, and are more attracted to the classical imperative of self-help. They think in terms of outcomes, rather than processes: international institutions and negotiations are important only insofar as they tangibly assist U.S. security, a belief which that itself reveals an often corrosive—and often self-fulfilling—cynicism about those institutions and their purposes.

If unilateral reductions were okay 12 years ago under Bush, they’re okay now. We should leave the Russians behind to babysit their own oversized arsenal. Nuclear superiority, as it turns out, didn’t matter 40 years ago, and it doesn’t matter today. Time to move on.

Hating Bush: Can we talk about Iraq yet?

I’ve delayed posting this for a few days, in part because I just moved and I’m up to my armpits in cardboard boxes, but also because I wrote it initially for Duck of Minerva, the inside-baseball site for the international relations profession. My colleague Bob Kelly of Pusan National University in South Korea had written a group of posts on the IR profession and the 10th anniversary of the war, and I took issue with some of them; Bob, in the spirit of free exchange, asked me to write up my thoughts for the site, which he then re-posted at his site on Asian security issues.

The short version of what I’ve written is that I don’t think the irrational hating on George W. Bush is over yet, and until that ends, we’re not going to have a lot of productive discussions of the war. It took more than 10 years before we could have rational discussions about Vietnam, and I think we’re in a similar situation today. Of course, that’s generated some strong responses, including Dan Nexon of Georgetown, who took me to task pretty effectively for basically dismissing the war’s critics as victims of Bush Derangement Syndrome.

I’ll respond to Dan after thinking a bit more, but his criticisms are not entirely fair. A lot of conservatives, including me, despaired the day Bush hung medals on George “slam dunk” Tenet, Paul Bremer, and Tommy Franks, which was one of the most unseemly public screw-you pay-backs I’ve ever seen a president aim at his critics. Believe me, we’re not cheerleaders for W.

Moreover, critics (including Dan) have argued that I’m just kicking predictable venues like the New York Times in the shins. But this, if I may, is where the liberal “bubble” comes in: people who have never defended the war have no idea how fast any conversation with those of us who supported it degenerates into nearly rabid ranting about Bush and Cheney.

I mean, seriously: I could fill pages with examples of the visceral hatred of Bush and, perhaps even more so, of Vice President Dick Cheney. (My favorite? Former and present Congressman Alan Grayson, who once said he can’t concentrate on what Cheney says“because of the blood that drips from his teeth while he’s talking.” Nice.) I think we, as scholars, can’t ignore the degree to which our own profession, the national media, a significant portion of our political class, and many (if not most) entertainers and cultural leaders opposed the war mostly because they despised Bush personally. That emotional fixation on Bush warps the national conversation even today.

One more quick thought: think about the harsh, warlike rhetoric that came out of the Clinton administration in the late 1990s, and the way the national press and the Democrats in Congress lined up quickly to say that there was no death too horrible for Saddam. Indeed, it was Clinton, not Bush, who first tried to link al-Qaeda to Iraq. (Don’t believe me? Bet me. I dare you.)

So it was okay when Clinton said it, but when Bush said almost exactly the same thing, it was criminal negligence. Hmm. I’ll expand on this when I reply to Dan, but imagine — I mean just imagine — if Bush had launched an attack on a foreign country just before an impeachment vote. We’d still be burning him in effigy, instead of yukking it up with him as our first celebrity ex-Prez the way we do today with Clinton. I’m willing to accept that I’m being too hard on the war’s critics, but there is a major double-standard at work here.

Anyway, here’s the original piece. More to come.

I’ve been reading Bob Kelly’s thoughts – cogent as always – on the 10th anniversary of Iraq. I reject Bob’s exploration of the “culpability” of the IR field for providing any kind of intellectual infrastructure for the war, mostly because I don’t think anyone in Washington, then or now, listens to us, and for good reason. Joe Nye long ago lamented that lack of influence elsewhere, others agree  by “others” I mean “me”) and so I won’t rehearse it here.

Bob and I sort of agree that the outcome of the war doesn’t say much about the prescience of at least some of the war’s opponents: there were people whose default position was almost any exercise of U.S. power is likely to be bad, and they don’t get points for being right by accident.

But Bob’s right to make the far more important point about what we do “if we knew then what we know now.” I’m not as sure as he is that there was ever a “neo-con theory of the war,” which I think grants too much coherence to Bush’s advisors. But he zeroes in on the key question: what, if any, arguments at this point can be mustered to defend the war?

After reading the various pieces here and thinking about Bob’s iterations of the discussion, here’s what I really think about Bob’s question on the tenth anniversary of the Iraq War:

I think it’s too soon.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I don’t mean it’s “too soon” to start sorting out the damage. Actually, the sooner we do that, the better. There’s a lot to learn from the war, and some of those lessons – especially about planning, dysfunctional civil-military relations, the dangers of script-writing an invasion, and the hazards of half-baked notions about “military transformation” – are already clear and should be incorporated into our thinking about national security.

I also don’t mean “too soon” in terms of drawing historical lessons – although I think it’s too soon for that, as well. I don’t think we know, really, anything about the long-term outcome of the war and its effect on either the Middle East or the world. That whole exercise, in which people who should know better confidently explain “What It All Means,” is pure nonsense. (Sadly, I said a lot of dumb things at the time, too. Guilty.)

IR scholars don’t need to be reminded that wars have unforeseeable consequences that can take a long, long time to coalesce. Seriously: imagine talking about the outcome of the Korean War a decade after its end. Truman left office with an approval rating measured in scientific notation. We replaced him with a four-star general after a national flirtation with Douglas MacArthur, whom history should revile more than it does. By 1963, “counter-insurgency” and “limited war” were all the rage. And really, it’s not like we’ll end up staying on the Korean peninsula for another fifty years or anything…

Or imagine reassessing Vietnam in 1985, ten years after the fall of Saigon. The United States is only just back on its feet after a crushing recession and a surge in Soviet power in the late 1970s. Who could deny that Vietnam was a miserable failure, a distraction and a foolish waste of resources? After all, the whole thing was really just a nationalist struggle that we misinterpreted as a communist coalition war, wasn’t it?

Now fast-forward after twenty years, to 1995. Now, the Soviet Union…wait, there isn’t the Soviet Union. Revelations from Moscow, Beijing, and Hanoi are just beginning to tell us an ugly story, one that involves words like “Domino” and “theory” that no one would have taken seriously even twenty years earlier. Books like Michael Lind’s volume start appearing, in which Vietnam is called the Cold War’s “Dunkirk,” and the shouting starts all over again and hasn’t stopped since.

Let’s also admit there’s a dishonesty in all these “was it worth it?” discussions. There’s no adequate calculus for the measure of a human life; no one should look a grieving parent in the eye and say these wars, any of them, were worth it.

But again, none of this is why I think it’s too soon to talk about the war.

The real reason it’s “too soon” is that many American liberals and American academics (not always the same group, I grant) still cannot think rationally about the war because they still cannot let go of their desire for revenge on George W. Bush.

Sadly, this obsession with Bush really has far less to do with the war per se than with an overall burning hatred harbored by intellectuals for the 43rd president. So while I commend Bob for his calmness and his attempt to find some kind of path to a rational discussion here, I think that there still aren’t many people who are willing to think about this beyond their emotional reactions to Bush. (I can think of the exceptions, like NDU’s Joe Collins and his sobering 2008 report, and count them on one or two hands.)

Just look at some of the stuff that’s been published on the occasion of the anniversary by Bush’s critics, and you’ll see what I mean. All of it is aimed not so much at a consideration of Bob Kelly’s question – especially whether there was a good reason to go to war – but more at a furious attempt to hang everyone involved.

Gawker.com, for example, claimed to have hacked Bush’s personal email and invited people to “wish George Bush a Happy Iraq War Day.”  The usual suspects – let’s just use Michael Moore, because he’s predictable – claimed that Bush basically got away with “murder,” and should be in jail.

But even people with intelligence and wisdom lose their perspective when talking about Bush and his coterie. Consider Andy Bacevich’s recent piece in Harper’s, where he taunts Paul Wolfowitz about writing a memoir. The piece is one of Bacevich’s best: there are a few people out there whose writing not only inspires me, but also provokes my envy at their skill. Andy is one of them.

That skill, however, doesn’t hide the fact that Bacevich doesn’t really want to have a discussion about the war. He wants Paul Wolfowitz – and pretty much everyone else involved in the war – to go before the American people, fall on their knees, and beg for mercy:

To be sure, whatever you might choose to say, you’ll be vilified, as Robert McNamara was vilifed when he broke his long silence and admitted that he’d been “wrong, terribly wrong” about Vietnam. But help us learn the lessons of Iraq so that we might extract from it something of value in return for all the sacrifices made there. Forgive me for saying so, but you owe it to your country.

Give it a shot.

Well.  Who wouldn’t be inspired to write an honest and introspective book after thatwarning, which amounts to a demand not for a memoir, but for a confession? It’s like Brian Dennehy’s line in the classic movie Silverado, when he tells a captured man not to worry: “We’re going to give you a fair trial, and then a first-class hangin’.”

I’ve singled out Bacevich’s piece, paradoxically, because it’s good. It’s a great read. But the tone is pure acid – as are so many of the other “analyses” of the war.

This isn’t the place to go into why liberals hate Bush so much. That they do, and that they will violate even basic norms of intellectual inquiry when discussing his presidency, is beyond dispute. My colleague Steve Knott has written a devastating book whose title says it all: Rush to Judgment. Knott documented how presidential historians essentially discarded any scholarly standards in trying to assess the Bush presidency even before it was over.

More recently, Steve did a piece in theWall Street Journal pointing out that there was a time when almost everyone on the planet agreed that there were WMD in Iraq. (He also tells a great story about how someone in the Clinton administration, likely Madeleine Albright, wanted to engineer a military crisis with Iraq. How soon we forget.) Steve tells me that he has gotten hate mail for that piece like he’s never seen before. He’s a little surprised. I’m not.

My own theory is that intellectuals hated Bush not for what he did, but for who he was. Specifically, they hated him because he didn’t care about them. It’s important to remember that many people espouse politics as a form of self-actualization: they choose political positions based on what they think those positions say about themselves to others: “I support Obamacare because I love the poor, and that makes me a good person, and certainly a better person than you,” or “I hate gay marriage because Jesus loves me more than you and I’m going to Heaven.” Sanctimony is always the dread companion of political conviction.

Bush, in going to war, clearly didn’t care what a group of professors wanted, or what they said in a New York Times full-page ad.  That whole thing, in fact, reminded me of a story I heard about Jesse Helms, which I could swear was printed somewhere back in the ‘90s, so maybe it’s not apocryphal. The short version is that some staffer came in all in a lather because the Times had, as usual, dumped on Helms, and the kid wanted to write a rebuttal. Helms said: “Well, son, that’s just fine, and you go ahead and do that, but I have to tell you: I don’t read the New York Times. And nobody I know reads the New York Times.”

If you want to piss off the New York Times and the people who adore it, that’s the quickest way to do it, because it says to them the one thing they cannot bear: You did not matter in this decision. And until those psychic wounds heal, a lot of people are going to carry just too much baggage into this discussion.

Still, Bob asked a real question, so at the end here, I’ll answer it.

I supported the war, just as I supported the 1991 war. (I drafted Senator John Heinz’s floor statement explaining his vote in that one.)  I supported regime change in Iraq as early as 1994. Like most people, I thought we had done our job after kicking Saddam out of Kuwait. I underestimated his staying power, and I thought soon after the end of that first war that we had any number of reasons to go back to war, including Saddam’s plot to kill the first President Bush, his attempt to exterminate the Marsh Arabs, and his repeated violations of the UN cease-fire resolution.

Nonetheless, we screwed up the execution beyond belief. I have spent ten years in classrooms with many of the men and women who saw it first-hand, some of whom paid dearly for the arrogance of Rumsfeld and others. I am continually stunned by what I hear, and I can only agree with Ambassador Barbara Bodine, who often said: “There were 500 ways to do it wrong, and two or three ways to do it right. What I we didn’t understand was that we were going to go through all 500.”

That doesn’t mean I think the war was immoral, criminal, or based on lies. I think lives, American, Allied, and Iraqi, were recklessly thrown away, just as they were in the horrendous island-hopping campaign in the Pacific in World War II, as they were in the push to the Chinese border in Korea, as they were every day in Vietnam.

But unlike a lot of my colleagues, I don’t think I know what the war “means” just yet. And I’m not ready to convene any kangaroo courts: not for Bush, not for his advisors, not for the media, not for the academy, nor for anyone else.

News flash: Progressives discover hypocrisy in their own ranks

Quite a while back, I wrote about the sudden conservative infatuation with the War Powers Resolution, a deep constitutional concern that didn’t seem to bother the Right when George W. Bush was invading Iraq, but was all the rage once it was that liberal Harvard-trained lawyer in the White House jumping on the “bomb Libya” bandwagon. I will now smugly congratulate myself on my own consistency here, and note that I have always been against any use of the War Powers Resolution — and so advised Senator John Heinz during the 1991 Gulf War — both because I think it is unconstitutional and because I think it’s a dangerously stupid law.

In the first post I ever put up on this blog, I defended the Libyan operation as something that transcended — or should have transcended — partisanship. It was the right thing to do; and I believed then, as now, that the War Powers flap was just a smokescreen. The raising of the WPR by some Congressional Republicans during the Libyan operation was deeply hypocritical, especially considering that conservatives, in general, have been supportive of pretty broad executive power when it comes to military operations.

Anyway, that’s old news. Now it’s the liberals’ turn.

They are shocked — shocked — to discover such startling hypocrisy in their own ranks. And the Schadenfreude, after years of hearing them fume over how the war on terrorists was conducted under W, is overwhelming.

Excuse me while I wag.

Writing in Salon last weekGlenn Greenwald(whose views no one could ever mistake for being remotely close to mine) unleashed some serious and righteous progressive rage against his fellow liberals. As it turns out, many of the same people who screamed “abuse of power” when Bush 43 tried to — well, do anything — are now born-again ass-kickers who see no problem with drone-striking the living crap out of people, American citizens or otherwise, if they’ve ended up on that mystical document known as the President’s kill list. A majority of self-identified liberal Democrats are also in favor of keeping Guantanamo open, but the drone war is what’s really scraping Greenwald’s carrot:

Repulsive liberal hypocrisy extends far beyond the issue of Guantanamo. A core plank in the Democratic critique of the Bush/Cheney civil liberties assault was the notion that the President could do whatever he wants, in secret and with no checks, to anyone he accuses without trial of being a Terrorist – even including eavesdropping on their communications or detaining them without due process. But President Obama has not only done the same thing, but has gone much farther than mere eavesdropping or detention: he has asserted the power even to kill citizens without due process. As Bush’s own CIA and NSA chief Michael Hayden said this week about the Awlaki assassination: “We needed a court order to eavesdrop on him but we didn’t need a court order to kill him. Isn’t that something?” That is indeed “something,” as is the fact that Bush’s mere due-process-free eavesdropping on and detention of American citizens caused such liberal outrage, while Obama’s due-process-free execution of them has not. [emphases and links original]

I can’t tell what’s more wince-inducing: the fact that self-identified liberals are throwing off their own principles like a taffeta dress on prom night, or that hard-core progressive like Greenwald are stunned by it. This kind of double-standard has been the hallmark of mainstream liberalism, and especially of the U.S. news media, for a long time. Conservatives have shouted themselves hoarse trying to get this noticed, and I can only say to Greenwald what John McClane said in Die Hard:

On the other hand, I have to admire Greenwald for getting right in the face of his fellow progressives (although I note that this latest round of outrage is coming well after what Newsweek, in its fair-and-balanced way, called “the second coming” of Barack Obama).

Still, Greenwald’s a scrappy guy, and he didn’t mince words:

Obama has used drones to kill Muslim children and innocent adults by the hundreds. He has refused to disclose his legal arguments for why he can do this or to justify the attacks in any way. He has even had rescuers and funeral mourners deliberately targeted. As [former CIA director Michael] Hayden said: ”Right now, there isn’t a government on the planet that agrees with our legal rationale for these operations, except for Afghanistan and maybe Israel.” But that is all perfectly fine with most American liberals now that their Party’s Leader is doing it….

The Democratic Party owes a sincere apology to George Bush, Dick Cheney and company for enthusiastically embracing many of the very Terrorism policies which caused them to hurl such vehement invective at the GOP for all those years. And progressives who support the views of the majority as expressed by this poll should never be listened to again the next time they want to pretend to oppose civilian slaughter and civil liberties assaults when perpetrated by the next Republican President.

Wow. Well, okay. I’m not going to disagree on that last part, although I suspect I’ll be typing this blog on a block of ice in Hell before the DNC gets that apology out to the Bush ranch.

Now, Greenwald blames all this on blind leader-worship, which he thinks is a poison in our body politic. He has a point, especially among twits like Touré (the young writer whose one-word French name is, erm, how you say, tres prétentieuse) who clearly has no idea whether he supports drone strikes or doesn’t, and probably can’t pick which earth-friendly sweetener to use in his [insert trendy drink of the moment here] without asking for notes from the White House. It’s one thing to admire and support a political figure, it’s another to be a mindless fan-boy. (Hey, remember how some people hated it when Republicans wanted to name everything bigger than a toaster after Ronald Reagan? Yeah, like that.)

But I think there’s more to it, and my villain in all this isn’t Richard Nixon or Ronald Reagan or even St. John Kennedy. No, the guy I think we have to blame here is Bill Clinton.

Wait, Clinton? I can hear it already: Come on, Tom, leave Bubba out of this. He’s the best ex-President since Jimmy Carter. (Low bar to clear, but okay.)

The reason I think Clinton deserves a lot of the blame for the collapse of any standards among liberals is because he, more than any figure in the modern era of American politics, institutionalized the idea that winning is more important than principle.

That’s not to say he was the first who tried: Richard Nixon made the most frightening run at the “win-at-all-costs” model of the presidency, but he lacked the charm and solid partisan support Clinton could command. (Let’s remember that when it came time to step down, it was a group of Republicans who came to Nixon and told him he was cooked.) And although Nixon returned to public life in the 1980s, he was never again welcomed in polite GOP company.

Clinton, by contrast, shredded every principle the Democrats held dear. This is the guy who told off Sister Souljah, who took a break during the 1992 campaign to approve the execution of a mentally retarded prisoner in Arkansas, who backtracked on a campaign promise to allow Haitian refugees to come to America before he was even sworn in, who as President worked with his partner, Newt Gingrich, to dump Aid For Dependent Children and “end welfare as we know it,” who made a mockery of feminism by hiding behind the skirts of his wife and his female Cabinet members when he was caught sexually exploiting the staff, and who told the United Nations to get lost when he and Tony Blair led NATO to war in Kosovo.

Don’t get me wrong: except for his disgusting personal behavior, I had no problem with most of Clinton’s policies, especially his cooperation with a GOP Congress on the budget and his willingness to engage in preventive force against a genocidal regime in Europe. I was especially relieved once he dropped the Cone of Silence over Al Gore and took Hillary’s heath care task force behind the barn and shot it. Back during the 1996 election, one of my most liberal colleagues at Dartmouth — a good friend, actually, with whom I did Election Night radio commentary for the student network — was teasing me about how easily Clinton was going to roll to re-election. My answer was to say that a moderate Republican was going to win the 1996 election, it was just a matter of which one. My friend, in anguish, said: “Goddamn it, I know.”

Clinton knew exactly what he wanted out of politics: to get re-elected. And if that meant selling out his friends on the left…well, he was from Arkansas, and they’d just have to understand. Republicans do it too: Reagan talked a good game to the right-wing evangelicals in 1980, and by 1984 they were furious that he hadn’t turned America into a tent meeting. (As one of Reagan’s advisors was rumored to have said: “What are they gonna do? Vote for Mondale?”)

But on most issues, especially on his core commitment to anti-communism, Reagan was virtually unshakeable. He’s the one that kept putting “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall” into his 1987 Berlin speech; it was his staff, including Colin Powell, who kept taking it out. (Powell’s Nerf-like political principles are on display in all their cheap glory these days as Powell has now discovered racism in the same GOP that made him the first African-American Secretary of State.)

Love them or hate them, conservatives tend to be more consistent in their ideological views: in fact, I’d argue that the hardest attachment to conservative principle is actually what gets them in trouble or leads them to make dumb moves. Think of the scalding that Mitt Romney had to take during the GOP primaries for being a “moderate from Massachusetts,” as though that was like being a “Bolshevik from Ulan Bator” or something. From Bush 41′s “Read My Lips” pledge to Romney’s kamikaze “self-deportation” immigration policy, conservatives get into quicksand when they stick to what they think is right against all political possibility. (And when they try to reconcile principle and reality, we get the complete scramble of positions on abortion found throughout the GOP.)

Clinton was praised for being flexible, but in reality, he raised ideological flexibility beyond mere pragmatism, and systematically threw each principle and constituency under the bus as he saw fit to ensure his own political survival.

And it worked.

Today, Bubba could win a third term without breaking a sweat; Hillary is one of the most admired people in America, although I’d guess that most people can’t explain why they feel that way, and she has negatives that will always stick to her — rightly — in a way that Bill’s never had to worry about.

Once Clinton eviscerated the soul of the Democratic Party, all that was left was reflexive opposition to anything Republicans did, especially anything that came from W, whom the Left hates with a passion. (My theory is that they hate him largely because they know that he doesn’t care what intellectuals think about anything. Ignoring their opinion is the only thing Presidents can do that’s really insulting to members of the bloviating class like Paul Krugman, who’s convinced no one takes a pee at 1600 Pennsylvania without reading the Times op-eds first.)

That’s why the election of 2008 was remarkably content-free. No one really cared if Obama was going to shut down Gitmo; his supporters just wanted him to win, because winning feels great. Governing? Well, we’ll get to that, after the party!

I actually think it’s to the President’s everlasting credit that he decided to change course and blow those promises off once he got to the White House and found out that governing was a lot more complicated than it seems, and that maybe you shouldn’t follow through on things you said when you were just riling up the locals in some Wal-Mart parking lot in East Cupcake, Ohio.

Four years later, think about the election of 2012: Romney and Obama nearly burst every blood vessel in their heads trying to portray themselves as different, when in fact there wasn’t, if I may cop George Wallace’s phrase, a dime’s worth of difference between them. Greenwald, no doubt echoing the agony of a lot of progressives, gets it (although I said it first): American foreign policy has now settled into a right, or center-right, groove for the foreseeable future:

[P]olicies that enjoy the status of bipartisan consensus are removed from the realm of mainstream challenge. That’s what Barack Obama has done to these Bush/Cheney policies: he has, as Jack Goldsmith predicted he would back in 2009, shielded and entrenched them as standard U.S. policy for at least a generation, and (by leading his supporters to embrace these policies as their own) has done so with far more success than any GOP President ever could have dreamed of achieving.

Yep. But don’t blame Obama. This has been coming for a long time.

By the way, Clinton earned over $75 million in speaking fees in 2011. Good for him. Capitalism works. (Just ask Al Gore, who sold Current TV to oil-rich…oh, the hell with it. Who cares about Gore?) Liberal or not, Clinton understands the concept of self-interest in a way that should awe even hardened conservatives.

But if you’re a liberal who shudders every time a drone hits a U.S. citizen in a foreign country, don’t blame President Obama or even President Bush. You can blame an imperfect world, where rotten things happen and where rotten things have to be done. But you can also blame Bill Clinton, who took hypocrisy and turned it from a vice into a virtual art form, all in the name of winning.

In short, Obama’s foreign policy is to the right of George Bush’s. If you’re an honest liberal, and you hated this kind of military activity when Bush did it, then you should hate it now. (Likewise, if you’re an honest conservative, you should be grateful that Obama has chosen to continue a program that’s killing bad guys.) But if you’re a recent convert to “cruise-missile liberalism,” especially if you’re a journo…well, Glenn Greenwald has a message for you.

Now excuse me. I have to get back to wagging.

A former NDU instructor decides to give academic freedom a bad name

For those of you that follow the travails at our nation’s professional military education (PME) schools, you may remember a flap that ensued back in mid-2012 when the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs stepped in and shut down a course at the Joint Forces Staff College (a school run by the U.S. government’s National Defense University) taught by an Army lieutenant colonel named Dooley.

 

John Schindler, the proprietor of the XX Committee blog, wrote about it here at the time, but let’s review.

LTC Matthew Dooley, U.S. Army, was teaching a course — or I should say, a “course”– called “Perspectives on Islam and Islamic Radicalism” at JFSC as an elective. The course included Dooley’s sage advice that it might be time to use “Hiroshima tactics” against the Islamic world. (You can see some of the slides here.) The Chairman, General Martin Dempsey, finally shut Dooley down after somebody at JFSC blew the “WTF” whistle. This not only ended the course but apparently finished off Dooley’s Army career.

But of course, this being America, Dooley threatened to sue. That plan didn’t go anywhere (that I know of, so far), but he and the Thomas More Center, a conservative legal foundation in Michigan, are now trying to get the National Defense University’s accreditation as a school revoked, ostensibly for stomping on Dooley’s right as a faculty member to academic freedom.

I can’t believe I’m going to spend even one pixel on this, but I find myself in the weird position of defending NDU — a military college that has not always been a welcoming environment for academics — while simultaneously being in the itchy position of arguing for limits on academic freedom after years of trying to get our nation’s war colleges to expand academic freedom. I still support that goal — just not the way Dooley does.

For those of you outside the military world, trust me that this whole situation, in which I find myself arguing that a faculty member was out of line, is drenched in an irony that only my civilian PME colleagues can really feel.

The More Center’s case against NDU rests on two pillars:

1. That Dooley’s right to academic freedom was violated.

2. That the Defense Department’s actions “violate the national interest.” (I am not making that up.)

Both of these positions, to use the antique French expression, are so stupid that they make my teeth hurt.

I’m not even going to dignify that second point about the national interest, because it’s arrogant and silly beyond words. The More Center complaint would have you believe that Dooley is some kind of brave, lone voice warning us about the Mohammedan onslaught, and that he was silenced by a bunch of craven weenies in Washington who are scared of Muslims.

 

You can almost hear him yelling: You can’t handle the truth!

Right. Maybe Dooley thinks he’s Nathan Jessup or Jack Ryan by this point, but I don’t think we should dignify even the remotest impugning of anyone’s patriotism in this. It’s all ridiculous enough without encouraging that kind of mudslinging.

Besides, the “academic freedom” charge is the one that really stinks up the whole business. I take those two words — which are the lifeblood of my career and central to my identity as a scholar — pretty damned seriously, and I don’t mind saying I find it infuriating to see them thrown around so cavalierly as part of some officer’s pissing match (or should I say “crusade,” or maybe “jihad?”) with the Joint Chiefs.

I have taught in both civilian and military schools: for the record, leaving aside the many colleges, think-tanks, foundations, and government institutions in which I’ve been invited to give lectures, I’ve actually been paid to deliver courses at Georgetown, Dartmouth, Salve Regina, the Naval War College, La Salle, and Harvard. I have never shied away, in any classroom at any of them, from saying exactly what I think when the occasion requires it.

My duty to my students is to resist sucking the oxygen out of the room with my own views — I save that for my friends, God help them — but I also don’t patronize them with ersatz feints at neutrality. (If you took my course on the Cold War, for example, you will get the sneaking suspicion that I don’t think much of murderous hyper-Stalinism as a model for alliance relations.)

But that’s an entirely separate issue about whether I think I have a right to unfettered academic freedom at any of those institutions.

Leave the military schools out of it for a moment. Instead, imagine that I had walked into a classroom at Georgetown or Harvard and offered a course on urban policy — somehow sneaking past the deans and chairs and getting the course offered despite exactly zero qualification on that subject– and then pontificated that there was nothing wrong with downtown Detroit that a thermonuclear weapon of the appropriate yield could not fix.

(I have stolen this from the plot of a great 1972 short story by Anthony Lewis called “Request for Proposal,” by the way.)

People in those neighborhoods are “different,” I tell ya, and ya gotta be firm when you talk about gun control and getting tough on crime. Ka-boom, baby.

I am fairly certain that those schools would quickly decide that my services were no longer needed. Moreover, I’m sure they would apologize to their students, their trustees, their communities, and to all other sane human beings. They would then investigate how it is that I was getting paid to teach in their halls when I was clearly a numbskull, and promise never to do it again. (Although I did have a professor at Boston University once who said the US and USSR just should nuke each other and get it over with, and they loved him, proving only that there are nincompoops everywhere.)

If that example isn’t clear enough, let me put it another way:

Academic freedom is not a license to go apeshit.

There’s a reason that you will find, if you scroll to the bottom of every page of this blog, a short except from the 1940 statement on academic freedom by the American Association of University Professors. That’s because I believe that once upon a time (say, around 1940), professors understood both sides of their job, the rights and the responsibilities.

 

Let me save you the down-arrow tapping, and just quote it here, at length, with emphasis on responsibility:

1. Teachers are entitled to full freedom in research and in the publication of the results, subject to the adequate performance of their other academic duties; but research for pecuniary return should be based upon an understanding with the authorities of the institution.

2. Teachers are entitled to freedom in the classroom in discussing their subject, but they should be careful not to introduce into their teaching controversial matter which has no relation to their subject. Limitations of academic freedom because of religious or other aims of the institution should be clearly stated in writing at the time of the appointment.

3. College and university teachers are citizens, members of a learned profession, and officers of an educational institution. When they speak or write as citizens, they should be free from institutional censorship or discipline, but their special position in the community imposes special obligations. As scholars and educational officers, they should remember that the public may judge their profession and their institution by their utterances.

Hence they should at all times be accurate, should exercise appropriate restraint, should show respect for the opinions of others, and should make every effort to indicate that they are not speaking for the institution.

I know what some of you are thinking, because some of my colleagues in uniform have asked me this: “Tom, that’s great — but how come professors at civilian schools don’t honor this, and act like such complete lunatics? Is what Dooley did so bad?”

Frankly, given the fact that we teach America’s military leaders, I hold PME professors to a higher standard, which is to say the standards the AAUP once expected of all of us back in 1940, before universities went completely bonkers.

But sure, there’s no way around it: many professors at civilian universities violate this norm every day. I knew professors in my time at Dartmouth — which is nowhere near the craziest of universities, and more sensible, really, than most — who did things like hand out gay porn in class to undergraduates (as an assignment, no less), agitate for and sponsor political candidates in class, ridicule and even punish students for their political views, and practice rank violations of basic norms of academic courtesy and responsibility.

Okay. So what? The abuse of academic freedom in civilian universities has nothing to do with Dooley’s case. To claim that this kind of behavior is protected by “academic freedom” is an insult to the very concept of academic freedom: it is an insistence on rights without limits or responsibilities, or even qualifications, of a kind which was never envisioned in civilian universities even for tenured faculty.

Now, there’s a danger in all this, because as best as I can tell from afar, Dooley has opened a can of worms without really understanding the implication of what he’s doing. By waving the bloody shirt of “academic freedom,” Dooley is giving the perfect opening to people who think that academic freedom isn’t a good idea anywhere, and especially not in a military school. They’ll say not only that Dooley should have been shut down, but that all those academic pinheads should be put on a shorter leash too.

This is because a lot of people in military schools are accustomed to years of obeying rather than questioning, and marching through checklists rather than tackling open-ended questions (which is what they need to learn, because that’s more what real policymaking at senior levels is like). They just can’t get their heads around the notion of academic freedom as something valuable to innovation and better decision-making, and they’d rather approach an unruly seminar room by telling everyone to just pipe down.

This, I can say from experience, produces disastrous results in a schoolhouse of any kind. (Yes, liberal universities have their own orthodoxy. It’s no less stifling.)

And that’s why Dooley’s attempt to seek shelter under those words is so corrosive (and so offensive): by conflating “academic freedom” with “I just wanna cork off in class about my pet rock, whether I’m qualified or not,” it harms the cause of real academic freedom, which is always under threat in military institutions. When something like this happens, the immediate reflex is to shut everything down, and to blame “civilianization” for producing such crackpottery.

In over 16 years at the Naval War College, I’ve pressed for the greatest degree of academic freedom as hard as I can, because a school that doesn’t allow dissent is simply not a school. The good news is that successive administrations here in Newport have understood — even when they haven’t liked it — that academic freedom is crucial to the quality of the education in any institution. There are reasons the Naval War College is as good as it is, and the Navy’s commitment to academic freedom is one of them.

The bad news is that it’s not always been the case even in Newport, and it’s still a pretty tough struggle at other professional military education institutions.

NDU, ironically, is one of them: in his memoir of his time there, Howard Wiardadescribed the naked loathing with which civilians were often treated by military officers.

Colleagues at the Air University, as well as the service academies, have told similar stories (which you can read about in more detail in Joan Johnson-Freese’s new book about the war colleges.)

To have a military officer now claiming to suffer the same oppression is a strange turn, to say the least, but as John pointed out when this first came up, it was bound to happen:

DoD has too often relied on homegrown “experts” without either a scholarly background or serious training or experience.

And as Joan notes at length in her book, PME institutions lack rational quality control when it comes to faculty. Military and civilian faculty, working together, are essential to the success of senior military education, but that requires qualified civilians and officers.

I’ll be the first to admit that hiring standards for civilians are wildly uneven: that’s a whole problem in itself, and again, buy Joan’s book if you want the complete story there.

When it comes to officers, however, it gets worse: PME schools empower military officers, who already are raised from the moment they’re commissioned to think they can do anything, to believe that they can stand in front of classrooms and offer courses in subjects about which they know next to nothing — or worse, in which the little they know is wrong.

This came, as Schindler noted in a piece in the The National Interest, during a perfect storm, when the DoD was hurting for expertise on Islam, and a group of self-declared “experts” rushed in to fill the void.

The DoD schools then cut these officers and their “experts” lose in class, and let them do as they please — right up until someone wondered why nuking Islam was on the syllabus. Academic freedom doesn’t mean “unmolested by standards of any kind,” and clearly, no one was minding the store while Dooley was doing his, ah, “course.”

So in this one respect, Dooley has a defense, although I’m not sure it’s one he wants to use. He could argue, I guess, that NDU should never have assigned him as a faculty member teaching something like Islam (in which, as far as I can tell, he has no specialized background) in the first place, but that once they did, they had to honor his rights as “faculty” all the way, and they can’t just yank his chain now because he happens to be in the military.

That argument fails in two areas, however.

First, Dooley’s course would have flunked the “WTF?! Test” no matter where he taught it.This isn’t about NDU, it’s about quality control, and actually, a better case could me made for de-accrediting NDU if they didn’t shut down his little circus and his parade of supposed”experts” on Islam.

Second, Dooley cannot have it both ways. In the Thomas More Center’s complaint, Dooley’s military record is trotted out as some kind of defense against NDU canning his course. But if this is about academic freedom, Dooley’s military record is irrelevant. He can’t have the full panoply of academic rights at one moment, and then claim special exception from criticism as an honored warrior in the next.

It doesn’t work that way, fella. If you want to get out there in front of a classroom and put your ideas on the table, then get a thicker skin. And if you screw up and get called out, you can’t engage in a special pleading based on military service. (If I give a lousy course and it fails to pass a basic quality control test of the institution, what do I fall back on? That I was really smart in grad school?)

Again, the best that Dooley can argue is that NDU should have realized that he didn’t know what he was doing, and that consequently they shouldn’t have put him in a no-win situation by letting him teach a course without proper supervision. This happens all the time in PME, and it’s an argument for more, rather than less, civilian academic oversight of the curriculm.

The fact of the matter is that the PME system and its assumption that anyone in uniform can teach anything has been creating people like Dooley for years. The only surprise is that it took this long to come around and bite everyone in the ass.

In the end, Dooley’s attempt to punish NDU is not only ridiculous on its face, but it’s a double-barreled mistake: it gives a black eye to the notion of academic freedom while providing a ready-made excuse to the handful of military martinets, small but influential, who want to clamp down on legitimate debate in our nation’s war colleges, especially when it involves those pesky civilians.

For the record, I don’t know LTC Dooley, but I hope he’s managed to do as much damage to the enemy as he’s trying to do to professional military education in the United States. If he wins whatever it is he wants from NDU, it will be he, not the National Defense University, politicizing the meaning of “academic freedom.”

NDU has made a lot of bad calls over the years, and it needs improvement — but on this one, the JCS wasn’t wrong.

The future of America’s War Colleges – United states of America

Over the past several years, there’s been a rising anxiety among folks who watch and work in, America’s PME (Professional Military Education) system. At first, this might seem something of a paradox: America’s war colleges — the senior service academies that provide advanced graduate education to U.S. and selected international officers — have probably never been better than they are today.

But that’s misleading. “Better than ever” is a low bar to clear, because as recently as a decade ago, many of the departments and programs in the war colleges were in pretty sorry shape, and some still are.  Before the Goldwater-Nichols defense reform act of 1986, they were in even worse condition.

Still, back then it was a mess we could tolerate, ironically because the Cold War was so stable and predictable. If most U.S. military officers weren’t very good national security thinkers, well, so be it: there wasn’t going to be a lot of time (or need) to cogitate once the Soviet tanks started pouring into West Germany. Besides, there were plenty of civilian smarty-pantses, and they could run the country — couldn’t they?

Only the Naval War College, under the leadership of Admiral Stansfield Turner in the early 1970s, recognized that the poor intellectual preparation of U.S. military officers had left them unable to engage their civilian counterparts in the making of defense policy, resulting in the disaster of Vietnam. Whether the war was a good or a bad idea was no longer the by point; by 1972, it was a complete hash, and Turner found that instead of reasoned debate, the halls of NWC were full of shouting matches and even fistfights.

Turner decided to turn Newport into a real college. He knew that Vietnam and the general drift of the U.S. military in that time was the result of a dangerous civil-military division in the making of national policy, as he said at his first convocation in 1972:

Another sample of the ineffectiveness of our military educational system is our increasing reliance on civilians and on ‘think tanks’ to do our thinking for us. Do not misunderstand. These people have done outstanding work for us. We very much need their help and stimulation into the future. We must, however, produce military men who are a match for the best of the civilian strategists or we will abdicate control of our profession.

Turner was right. Unfortunately, a lot of senior military leaders have had a hard time buying that, and in the ensuing 26 years since Goldwater-Nichols, the cause of education has been an unnecessarily hard slog in the war colleges. And that’s especially a problem in a world as chaotic and as flatly hazardous as the one that we’ve inherited in the wake of the Cold War’s end.

How big a problem? Ask my colleague, Joan Johnson-Freese, who has written a remarkable book that just hit the presses yesterday. Joan’s become one of the leading voices on the reform of military education, and her new book, Educating America’s Military, is the first comprehensive — and fully candid — look at the modern U.S. war college system from the inside.

Other scholars, including Howard Wiarda, George Reed, and Diane Mazur have written extensively about PME, but Joan’s book is unique in several respects.

First, it’s written by a currently-serving War College faculty member. This is a bigger deal than it seems: war college faculties are not protected by traditional tenure systems, and so tend to keep their heads down when it comes to candid criticisms of their own institutions. (Howard Wiarda, for example, wrote a devastating memoir about the National Defense University — you can read my review of it here — but it was ten years after he left, and definitely had the tone of an angry tell-all rather than a more scholarly analysis.)

Second, Joan attempted to compare conditions across the war colleges as best she could. Again, this was a tall order, since people at other schools are reluctant to share their experiences openly. It may sound self-serving to note that Newport is the one senior PME school that really means to observe academic freedom, but the fact of the matter is that the Naval War College has always been more committed to this than its sister institutions. That doesn’t help much, however, when trying to write a book on problems in the system.

Finally, Educating America’s Military takes seriously the idea that the civilian academics don’t have all the answers. Indeed, if you’re a civilian faculty member anywhere, there are parts of the book that will make you itch: she is as unsparing in her analysis of the follies of the PhDs as she is critical of the military anti-intellectualism that is undermining Congress’s clear intent that U.S. military be educated men and women who know something about national security affairs.

Readers of this blog will recognize many of the pathologies of the PME system that Joan identifies, among them the box-check mentality that intentionally obliterates the distinction between “training” and “education,” the constant assauging of the fragile egos of the student-officers that keep the PME institutions in a state of constant flux as they seek to achieve complete customer satisfaction, the “faculty” positions maintained as jobs programs for unqualified military and executive branch retirees, and the top-heavy administrative bloat that afflicts all academic institutions, military and civilian.

Like Wiarda’s book about NDU — indeed, like any book that takes a peek inside academic institutions — there is a trove of wince-inducing anecdotes in Educating America’s Military. Because I worked closely with Joan as a fellow department chair in Newport, I witnessed many of these incidents first-hand, like this one:

As Chair, I attended a teleconference with other Naval War College leaders where we were instructed by a three-star admiral to “strip out the gold plating” in our curriculum. After it ended, a dumbfounded Navy captain in the group asked: “Were we just told not to excel?”

Similarly, in 2011, I was asked to comment on some Navy “cost savings” education proposals and told to keep in mind, “We don’t need Ferraris, we need Fords.”

On that last one, I also corresponded with the Navy official, Robert Kozlowski, who made the comment about “Fords,” and he wasn’t kidding. Joan didn’t include his name when she wrote the book, presumably because he was just floating some ideas. But in this quarter’s issue of the Naval War College Review, Mr. Kozlowski made his case publicly and explicitly, arguing that the goal should be to “build the purple” — i.e., joint — “Ford.”

This isn’t the place to take on Mr. Kozlowski’s arguments, (which include ostensibly more efficient changes like dumping service-specific ROTC training), but I can’t imagine Americans prefer that their military officers be the intellectual equivalent of clunky sedans rather than sports cars.

The larger point in any case, as Joan spells out, is that we’re hardly in danger of over-educating our officers: in today’s PME system, it can sometimes be a struggle just to keep the curriculum at the automotive equivalent of “four-wheels-and-a-seat,” much less a Ferrari.

Educating America’s Military also tackles directly the problem of trying to run a college with civilian and military faculty, who sometimes work magnificently well together, and other times can barely coexist in the same building. Her book should be required reading for anyone, military or civilian, contemplating a post in a war college:

Generally speaking, many military officers…. are process oriented, as following
process can keep them alive in high-risk operational situations. Such
individuals are well-trained and strong leaders, but neither equates to
being broadly educated.

Academics are broadly trained in their fields, although they also spend years developing specializations. Their careers are designed to investigate open-ended questions that often do not have clear answers. (In fact, they question everything, to the point that, sometimes, little gets done beyond raising questions.)

It’s important to point out here that Joan’s analysis doesn’t exactly glorify the academics at the expense of their military colleagues. Those striped civilian robes can hide as many sins as the shiny oak leaves on military uniforms:

Academics are sometimes seen by their military counterparts as self-absorbed,egotistical, elitist, and lazy – and some are. Academics are often elitists  regarding academic pedigrees and  always read the resumés of other academics with an eye toward “What have you done lately?”

All schools, including the War Colleges, have their dead-wood “has beens” and “never-weres.” As in civilian universities, longevity for weaker PME faculty is based on popularity with the students, mimicking team-player congeniality, and taking on administrative responsibilities, rather than scholarly activity or teaching rigor.

Ouch. Any faculty member who has sat through endless hours of a dithering committee full of blowhards colleagues (including, no doubt, people who have had to sit through meetings with me) knows the painful truth of that description.

Make no mistake, however. The book talks a lot about what the war colleges do right, especially when it comes to teaching things that at least some civilian schools would rather shut their doors than teach — like the nuts and bolts of national security affairs. (Sometimes, when they try, the result is even worse than if they had just left it alone, like the flap over the “off the record” class taught by retired General Stanley McChrystal at Yale.)

America needs places where the study of international security doesn’t begin and end with interminable readings on abstract theories, and the war colleges have an important role to play in making sure that military officers are getting what they need to become senior leaders and decision-makers.

In the end, this discussion of two cultures in one institution is, in microcosm, a depiction of the American civil-military relationship in the 21st century: conflicted, competitive, sometimes brilliantly synergistic and at other times a comic-opera of stereotypical martinets and absent-minded dons.

Of course, the PME system has a purpose in all this: it is to educate America’s future military leaders so that they can cope with the security ambiguities of a far more uncertain world, be more effective in operating in the massive institutional labyrinth of the DoD, and help civilian and military superiors formulate effective policies.

Joan suggests several reforms, starting with someone — Congress? — who doesn’t have a vested interest for or against the War Colleges actually doing a major review that looks at educational outcomes instead of middle-management buzzwords like “return on investment” that have no meaning in higher education. (The Naval War College, as she points out, actually did hire consultants to come in and look at us for “best practices,” at significant expense. When the consultants concluded that we had too many administrators, the study was paid for and buried and we never heard about it again.)

Another idea is to separate JPME, or the Congressionally mandated “Joint Professionally Military Education” component, from the awarding of a master’s degree. It is a persistent and maddening urban legend that it costs something extra to give the MA at the war colleges — it doesn’t — and the introduction of the master’s degree two decades ago came by demand of the students, who didn’t want to spend a year studying and get nothing but a mark in a file.

Whether this is a good idea, I don’t know. It’s certain that the MA work has been dumbed-down at the war colleges; the students even at Newport do a fraction of the work normally required for an MA at a civilian school, and they do it in 10 months instead of two years. But something has to be done: as Joan has pointed out repeatedly, it’s statistically impossible to take a random group of military officers, push them all through the same program, and have all of them pass with a B or better.

The war colleges should give a graduate degree, and it should mean something. (And no, it shouldn’t be a “master’s of science in operational art,” which is one of the many proposals that were made over the years meant to gut the curriculum.)

When our officers graduate, they will go back into the senior ranks of a national security and defense system that is populated with smart civilians from good schools and programs, and they need to be able to hold their own with them.

Joan’s book is nothing less than an attempt to save the war colleges from themselves. It’s especially infuriating that a lot of people within the PME system like things just the way they are, and have criticized Joan (and Reed, and Mazur, and Wiarda, and Dan Hughes, and others), suggesting that their attempts to better the system are either because they “just don’t get it” or because they have some other hidden agenda.

When former Air War College professor Dan Hughes, for example, criticized the way things are done at the Air War College — an institution that’s had so many problems it’s been a favorite cause of defense writer Tom Ricks to shut it down — one Naval War College professor took after Hughes personally, an attack Joan quotes at length in the book:

“The whine from the Air Force civilian professor that made the rounds recently suggested to me, after looking at his vita, that he probably couldn’t get a research university job, ‘settled’ for the Air Force institution and never quite grasped the mission – and for some time too. More broadly, to some extent this may be explained by the second-tier status of some significant number of civilian faculty at JPME institutions, who, at least some of them, evidently could not gain tenured positions in mainstream academia, and yet yearned for some semblance of that life.”

This was posted at the Naval Institute blog — but only  after being circulated by email among some PME profs. As Joan noted: “Not only does this kind of ad hominem attack on a PME colleague reinforce the stereotype of civilian professors as layabouts who ‘don’t get it,’ but it is also a criticism that itself sounds resentful and angry.”

Such is the risk PME critics run. Joan, for her part, made it clear that she had no agenda at this point in her career, in which she’s served at three PME institutions, other than to better the education of her students and thus better serve the national security interests of the United States. (In case any of the more small-minded critics out there are wondering if she’s going to profit from the book, the royalties are being donated to the Wounded Warrior Project.)

And that’s really the point: the PME system is coming under scrutiny from its own faculty because we actually care about the education it provides and the impact it will have on our students and their ability to act as the armed stewards of our national security. If we didn’t care, none of us would bother writing about any of this stuff: there’s no upside in it, believe me. We would cash our checks, teach whatever some bureaucrat sent us over email every term, and send our students along on their merry way, whether they learned anything or not.

The war colleges are crucial institutions that provide a specialized education to military officers that they can’t get anywhere else. They need to survive, and they need to thrive, with better faculty, students, and curriculum. Sometimes, it looks like such a big a set of problems that it’s impossible to know where to begin.

Reading Educating America’s Military would be a good start. You don’ t have to be in the military, or an educator, to read it: if you’re just a citizen who cares about how your senior officers are being educated in the 21st century, get a copy.

The Jesus Thesis and military education

Last spring, I was in the audience when retired Major General Robert Scales, the former commandant of the Army War College in Pennsylvania, made clear his emphatic disdain for any kind of tenure for civilian faculty in the U.S. professional military education (PME) system, and especially at America’s senior war colleges.

When it was suggested to him that faculty might need protection from the vagaries of student evaluations and whims, Scales was, to put it mildly, dismissive. He saw no reason to believe that faculty would ever be cowed by their military students or fear for their careers if they crossed them.

Well, someone should have been willing to cross one of the students who studied at the Army War College while Scales was the commandant there. As my colleague John Schindler discussed over on his blog at the XX Committee, apparently a Lieutenant Colonel Gregg Martin wrote his thesis in 2000 on “Jesus As a Strategic Leader.”

I am not kidding. I went and looked it up, because at first I thought someone was pulling John’s leg. Not only is the paper available online, it made the 2005 edition of the online satire of academia, the Annals of Improbable Research, which noted that Martin in a subsequent paper “refined the Jesus Model of Strategic Leadership.”

Yesterday morning, Tom Ricks (who was also on the panel where Scales derided the concerns of civilian teachers) took a look at Martin’s thesis as well, noting:

Parts of the paper read like parody. Not only are we told that Jesus assembled a “top team,” it turns out he would have made a good battalion commander. (All this time, I thought he had been a corporal.)” Jesus recognized the value of conducting AAR’s,” Martin writes. With a straight face.

Indeed, Jesus was practically an Army Ranger. He knew and taught the importance of traveling light, Martin observes. (Didn’t he say somewhere in the gospels, “Don’t forget nothing“?) He also understood the importance of taking time to recharge his batteries, we are told. And he knew how to pick his battles, rendering unto Caesar.

Judas is mentioned in the paper, but Martin does not grapple with the issue of how such a great strategic leader could be so wrong about one of his 12 closest subordinates.

I could go on. But it is like shooting fish in a barrel. At some point, one must just avert one’s eyes from this mess.

So why all the fuss?

Because Martin is now a Major General, who not only went on to serve as the Commandant of the Army War College, but is about to take over the presidency of thetroubled National Defense University.

Of course, it was all 12 years ago, and no one should be judged by one paper from graduate school. But Martin served as the Army War College commandant until this year, and so is going into his second back-t0-back academic appointment in the PME system. That’s why — I assume — people went and dredged up his prior academic papers.

For me, however, the real issue in all this isn’t MG Martin, or even Jesus Christ. Martin is clearly an intellectually able man and a seriously accomplished military leader: he holds a doctorate from MIT for Chri…erm, for Heaven’s sake. Indeed, Martin’s obvious military and intellectual capacity raise the underlying question that’s been sticking in my teeth since I first heard about this whole business:

How did this happen?

If the general had gone on to some minor assignment, or been cashiered as a mediocre officer, I suppose we could write the whole thing off as a fluke. But when a smart and capable man is allowed to turn in a personal testimony of his faith wrapped in Army-speak as a graduate-level thesis at one of the top PME institutions in the United States, something’s wrong.

I would argue that Martin’s thesis is an object lesson in what happens when civilians do not provide the oversight and quality control that maintain the standards of higher education, military or otherwise.

Apparently, then-Lt. Colonel Martin wrote his thesis with a Colonel Bill Barko, an Army health professional who has since retired and now works with the Army War College Foundation. In other words, there was no academic oversight of the Jesus Thesis: an O-5 wanted to write it, and an O-6 told him it was a neat idea.

This problem of military officers overseeing the academic work of other military officers has overtones, as John noted, of the scandal at the Joint Forces Staff College last year, which John commented on for The War Room, where an officer was teaching a course in how we needed to apply Hiroshima-like solutions to conflicts with the Islamic world, and not be overly bothered by little details like the Geneva Conventions.

Again, the issue wasn’t the course — well, okay, the course was by any standard utterly execrable, at least to judge by its inevitable PowerPoints and the account given by Wired’s “Danger Room” — but rather the fact that this could go on without anyone noticing until someone, finally, blew the whistle.

The instructor of that course, by the way, a Lt. Colonel Dooley, is claiming he’s “thinking” of using the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, General Martin Dempsey. I cannot imagine the grounds for that suit; according to Wired, his lawyers put out a press release to the effect that they will accuse Dempsey of compromising “the final bastion of America’s defense against Islamic jihad and sharia, the Pentagon” to “the enemy.”

I would think the last thing that LTC Dooley would want is more publicity, but apparently, the people who push this kind of stuff in PME schools, as Mick Jagger once said of his fellow rock stars, don’t embarrass easy.

Anyway, the issue of civilian academic autonomy really matters here, because I’m nearly certain that the vast majority of my civilian colleagues in Newport or at most PME schools would have put a stop to that thesis and tried to wrestle LTC Martin into writing something that would require deeper thought, real research, and more personal detachment from the subject.

I say I’m only “nearly” certain, however, because when one of my Naval War College colleagues asked me the other day if I thought that Martin’s thesis would have been allowed at Newport, I admit I hesitated. I had no problem saying that there’s no way Iwould have allowed such lightweight work, either as a professor or as a department chair.

But I had to wonder: if I were a newer or younger faculty member, perhaps just arrived and on a three-year contract heavily dependent on teaching evaluations, would I really have had the fortitude to tell a hard-charging, bright young officer who was obviously going places that his thesis — extolling the virtues of Jesus Christ Himself — wasn’t even remotely appropriate as graduate work?

The contract system makes PME faculty highly risk-averse, as many current and former war college faculty can attest. Howard Wiarda mentions it repeatedly in his memoir of his time at NDU, and Newport professor Joan Johnson-Freese’s upcoming book is replete with examples across the nation’s war colleges in which PME faculty struggle against outright bullying — sometimes from zealously religious or aggressively political officers — while trying to maintain the quality and rigor of their institutions.

We’ll never know what would have happened had that young Lt. Colonel pitched the Jesus Thesis to a more experienced civilian teacher instead of to a sympathetic fellow Army officer. Given the dismissive tone of Scale’s remarks about faculty concerns, it’s hard to imagine anyone taking the conflict with a student over the strategic acumen of the Son of God all the way to the Commandant.

This is why PME institutions need faculty who can hold their own with their students without fear of reprisal or dismissal. Graduate students, even the brightest ones, can come up with some really dumb ideas. (I have the first draft of my dissertation proposal at Georgetown under lock and key; it had a really stupid title that I ended up ditching, and which exists only on paper since it was written in the pre-electronic era. I’m sure my advisor doesn’t remember that early draft, which is fine by me, and I shall carry it to my grave.)

I don’t know General Martin, and I don’t think a bad thesis — and it is, as John noted, wince-inducing — should forever be a disqualification for anything. I’d hate to be judged by some of the papers I wrote in graduate school, and Martin eventually completed a real degree at one of America’s best universities.

Still, the Jesus Thesis should be a warning about what happens when the students and officers in PME institutions are left to supervise and critique each other. The civilians not only bring important knowledge to the PME world, they bring perspective, and represent the people that military officers are actually sworn to serve. Their job is to make sure officers engage in a real process of education, not self-inflating exercises in pretentious and airy discussions about deities as battalion commanders.

Someone should have been on the ball at Carlisle when that young officer was writing his thesis. Clearly, a more aggressive insistence on rigor and real thought could have averted what to me looks like a case, minor though it is, of academic malpractice. Whether any civilian would have been allowed to take on a student so ardently committed to his faith — or whether he would have risked the wrath of a commandant who clearly didn’t think much of civilians — is another question entirely.