Afghanistan: Vertical Opium Monopoly
- • From 2005 to 2006, opium production in Afghanistan rose from 4519 tons to 6724 tons, a 50% increase.
- • Providing 92% of the global supply of opium, Afghanistan now stands as the most concentrated site of production on the planet for any illicit substance.
- • In conjunction with the surging production of raw opium, Afghanistan now processes almost all of its domestically grown, unrefined field product before exporting it to world markets, thereby making the country a vertical manufacturing monopoly in opiates like street heroin and morphine.
- • Taliban forces ousted in the U.S.-led attack on Afghanistan, which commenced the still-ongoing military phase of Operation Enduring FreedomAfghanistan on October 7, 2001, are using revenue from opium production to fund their continuing battle with multi-national forces now operating under the auspices of NATO in the country.
The graphic below presents the 2007 World Drug Report data on potential opium production in Afghanistan for the years 1990 through 2006.
The graphic depicts the rise, fall, and resurrection of the opium production industry in the country. The early years of Taliban rule were marked by a relatively constant output; the dramatic drop that began in the last two years of the 20th Century was the result of the central government bowing to international pressure to stop cultivation of the poppy plants from which the opium comes. As evidenced by the virtually non-existent output by 2001, the success of the Taliban rulers was remarkable, in part because their authority had pervaded most of the country and driven into some degree of inactivity the old, entrenched drug warlords of what would later come to be known as the "Northern Alliance" working with Coalition forces. With the swift collapse of the Taliban regime under the onslaught of Operation Enduring FreedomAfghanistan, civil law enforcement came to an end, and it would not be long before vast swaths of the country beyond the capitol were back under the rule of local forces that would induce farmers to move fields away from grain and toward the poppy plants.
Interestingly, however, the recent, massive secondary spike in production is the result of the resurgence of the Taliban, itself, militarily and economically controlling larger and larger tracts of the countryside, particularly in southern provinces. With farm gate prices attractive and the willingness of Taliban forces to use violence on those who resist, many farmers who had up until recently continued to commit their fields to grain are now pressing their acreage into service for opium production, this despite continuing (albeit highly variable) risk of drug interdiction raids by Coalition forces working in coordination with central government instrumentalities and personnel.
With the United Nations report predicting a continued increase in opium production through at least 2007, and with much of that increase due to the Taliban consolidating more widespread control, any claim of a lasting beneficial effect from Operation Enduring FreedomAfghanistan, either in Afghanistan or beyond, remains far less a realistic assessment than merely another attempt by the Bush Adminstration to divorce its propaganda from any connection whatsoever to the realities its incompetence has wrought on the Middle East and Asia Minor.
The Dark Wraith would like to imagine that Americans are learning a lesson about the unintended consequences of using brute military force, but that would probably be hoping for too much.
China, the Internet, and Censorship
Through a massive, expensive, and complex system of computers, government agencies, and private citizens, the People's Republic of China has constructed a nationwide control zone over what people in the country can see and hear on the Internet. Highlighted recently in an article at CNN.com, this information embargo has come to be known as "The Great Firewall of China," a systematic work in progress by the leadership of that nation to prevent its people from knowing what the Communist government does not want them to know about everything from what naked people look like clear through to the details and photographs of the 1989 Chinese military's massacre of thousands of unarmed, peaceful demonstrators at Tiananmen Square.
Acting in sometimes open conspiracy with the Chinese government's wide-ranging engine of information repression are American companies that want to curry favor with China. Yahoo came under massive criticism for handing over private information within its possession about Chinese dissident Li Zhi, who was subsequently tried, convicted, sentenced, and imprisoned by Chinese authorities. While in negotiations to gain access to the huge consumer market in China, Google opted to acquiesce to demands by Chinese authorities that its search engine service in China, google.cn, actively prevent sites critical of the PRC government from being revealed in user queries (notwithstanding the subsequent blubbering by Google co-founder Sergey Brin about how "uncomfortable" the capitulation was). More broadly, Amnesty International has accused industry leaders, Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo, among others, of colluding with the Chinese government to operate in violation of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights with respect to the censorship of information and the surrender of private user information to Chinese law enforcement authorities.
In addition, the United States government works at odds to itself with respect to China's censorship. On the one hand, the U.S.-sponsored Voice of America, at least at one time, was openly paying developers to create software that would provide alternate server relay services so Internet surfers in China could go around official servers and their filters. On the other hand, the U.S. government declines to view information as a trade commodity that is being officially and selectively embargoed by the Chinese in direct violation of international trade agreements.
With all of this as backdrop, writers and readers of online news and entertainment can find out what Websites are blocked by going to the Great Firewall of China or directly to their URL test page to key in any Web address to see if the servers in China are blocking the site. If you have a Website and find out that it is, indeed, being blocked by China, Great Firewall of China offers banners you can proudly display. Otherwise, if you are a blogger, please feel free to post one of the graphics at left and right in your sidebar to let visitors know that your blog is blocked in China. The code snippet for the larger, 175x175 graphic and the smaller, 125x125 graphic may be found here.
As readers may see in the right sidebar here at The Dark Wraith Forums, this Website is, indeed, blocked by China. A number of possible reasons for this exist. The video series "Money Economics," published here explained that the Chinese have willfully, systematically, and for years forced their currency to be massively undervalued against the American dollar. This has caused Chinese imports to the United States to be cheap here while concomittantly making American exports very expensive in China, the net effect of this exchange rate distortion being that enormous amounts of U.S. currency, along with millions of American jobs, have flowed to China. In "The Long Twilight of Economic Empire," I set forth the simple fact that the huge, year-over-year federal budget deficits being run by the fiscally reckless Republicans are being in large part financed by those very same U.S. dollars now in the hands of the Chinese, who acquired them through artificial manipulation of the yuan-greenback exchange rate to the effect of transferring control of U.S. jobs, equity, and even autonomy over to the Chinese. The just-mentioned articles are only the more recent in a continuing effort I have made to apprize readers of the economics of foreign trade and the destructive influence of the Chineseacting as the are in classical, mercantilist fashionon the welfare of this country and, perhaps, the Western World. Earlier articles highlighting these important matters include "Foreign Trade and Debt" and the follow-up article, "Exchange Rate Regimes," as well as the graphical post, "A Walk-Down Primer on the U.S. Trade Deficit with China."
The Chinese authorities most decidedly have good reason to block their citizens from reading articles I have written. They have yet, however, to find a way to keep the Chinese college students here in the United States from seeing this and other content that exposes the corrupt, brutal, violent, mercantilist nature of their leadership. Some of those young people know me, and I make sure, while they're here, that they see everything they won't be allowed to see when they return to China. They particularly like to see the Websites with lots of pictures of naked people, but they really do spend a lot of time surfing the Internet for more informative content, as well, always making sure, of course, that the few among them who are Chinese government informants don't know what's going on.
Over a period of time, such information consumers cannot help but become painfully aware that their leaders are nothing more than a cabal of lying, brutish thugs Hell-bent on wrecking other countries while systematically repressing the rights of the citizens. Awareness is, of course, only a first step; afterward comes the ugly part: rebellion or surrender.
Once the Chinese figure out which choice is best, they can let us know. Provided, of course, we can get to their Websites when the time comes.
The Dark Wraith wishes everyone a wonderful night surfing the Internet for good pictures of naked people and decent blog posts on how to crush Communist mercantilist thugs and their American neo-conservative soul-mates.
As fair warning, although this would qualify as perhaps a 30- to 45-minute affair in a typical classroom setting, it might take you longer, given that you are being blindsided by it from out of the blue, and given that you might need some time to get those math brain gears of yours to start spinning with some degree of efficiency. That means you should set aside maybe an hour or so for this little project, bearing in mind that doing something like this is a far better use of your valuable time than many other things you could be doing, instead.
Indeed, it is.
The Dark Wraith appreciates your effort.
The Audacity of Cynicism
While not wishing to be the bearer of contrarian negativism when it comes to prospects for justice to prevail, at least insofar as Mr. Gonzales is concerned little is being revealed, claimed, or shown at present that offers reason for optimism. In this editorial, I set forth the essence of my beef with this stew being stirred by progressive journalists.
First, far and away too many bloggers and some congressional investigators are quoting Monica Goodling with respect to a meeting she had with Alberto Gonzales that she claimed made her "uncomfortable." Monica Goodling has zero credibility, this despite the kid-gloves, grovel-at-her-feet, immunity-on-a-silver-platter treatment accorded her by congressional Democrats, who still seem to be afraid that they're going to treat the wrong person harshly and thereby garner the wrath of some electorate that is so poorly informed and capriciously engaged that it wouldn't notice Harry Reid as a Senator even if he were a contestant on American Idol.
Monica Goodling contorted her sworn testimony to portray herself as some lowly office bimbo. She wasn't. Her testimony was, at best, misleading. More to the point, in a sane era where the rule of law prevailed, her behavior prior to testifying would have been judged in contempt of Congress, and her eventual testimony would have bordered on perjury. Goodlingtogether with the other fresh-out-of-Christian-law-school, young-pup dominionistsvirtually ran the hiring-and-firing scam at DoJ deliberately crafted as part of an ambitious effort (actually, a "scheme" in legal terminology) to turn the United States justice system into the spear point of an Executive Branch driving to turn the United States of America into the medieval abyss of a "Christian nation."
Monica Goodling is no hero; she isn't even a person worth quoting.
And on the topic of quotable people being embraced by progressives, Department of Justice hero du jour James B. Comey served at DoJ as nothing other than a tool of Right-wing interests (masquerading as conservatives, I might add) that had already infected the highest levels of the government in the early years of the Bush Administration. Comey was a proactive shill who used his status as Acting Attorney General in the investigation of the outing of non-official cover operative Valerie Plame as the means by which his henchman, U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, could once and for all destroy the presumption of journalistic confidentiality of sources, an effort consistent with the less-than-flattering term "zealous" used in a Washington Post article to describe him and some of his activities. "Fitzy" (to use the Left's once-adoring term for him) declined his otherwise golden opportunity to force President George W. Bush to testify under oath before a grand jury; he let Vice President Richard V. Cheney have counsel present (try getting that sweet deal for yourself when you're hauled in to face a federal grand jury); and in the end, he came up with a conviction of one, little man. Comey, described by the Washington Post as the "unofficial president-for-life of the Pat Fitzgerald Booster Club," was part and parcel of what cannot be described as other than a whitewash, as laid out here at The Dark Wraith Forums in an October 2005 editorial and again in a January 2006 editorial.
And now, to top it all off, Mr. Fitzgeraldthat bulwark of law enforcement, that square-jawed defender of justice, that prosecutor who went after a judge who tried to stop him from breaking the lawhas made it known to Congress that he would have little to say if called to testify about what he learned during his investigation, an investigation which, by the way, ended up costing an appallingly miniscule fraction of what was spent by politically and privately motivated prosecutors hunting down the Clintons during the 1990s. Miserably miserly as Fitzgerald's expenditures in the pursuit of justice were, he spent public money, and now he advances the amazing proposition that the product of that public money is his to keep all to his precious self, despite the fact that a sound legal argument could be made that his refusal to disclose everything he knows constitutes obstruction of justice.
Now, let us finally take note of and address the curious, falsely satisfying spectacle of resignations up and down the top tiers of the Department of Justice. This trickle of soon-to-be-extinct dodos lining up for the American version of hara-kiri might be good theatre for the buzzards promoting the buzz in Washington, but take solemn note: the Department of Justicethat now-grandly humiliated agency, that giant stone slab looking every day more and more like a cross between a mausoleum and a Soviet-era party houseis still headed by none other thangasp! are you ready for this?Alberto Gonzales.
He's not leaving. Not yet, anyway. Other people at DoJ are losing their jobs; other people are being embarrassed, disgraced, criticized, threatened, subpoenaed, harassed, bullied, and cajoled by committees full of Democrats struttin' their stuff for the C-Span cameras; but Alberto Gonzales is still at his desk, still daringsimply daringanyone to remove him.
Mr. Gonzales, then, stands as the stark, yet entirely sublime, living metaphor of the only man to whom he answers: George W. Bush, the head of the entire Executive Branch, the man who has without question committed unconscionably wrongful acts against the Republic, and in so doing, has laid bare the sham of every grave intonation about the "rule of law" in this land.
Yes, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby is headed to jail. Yes, top officials of the Department of Justice have resigned. Yes, a general who lied about the situation in Iraq is now gone. Yes, aides to White House political operative Karl "He of the Cloven Hoof" Rove have quit. But to what does all of this amount?
It is as if the progressives from the Blogosphere to the Capitol are standing at the edge of a national sewer, reaching in and randomly grabbing a passing chunk of stool, then proudly hoisting it for all to see while bawling, "We GOT one, by golly! Boy, are we gonna show it who's boss!"
And yet the sewer, itself, roils on, bubbling forth the stench of the neo-conservative meat wagon lashed to the twin demons of dominionist Christian vision and plain, old-fashioned redneck thuggery.
The era of George W. Bush is far from coming to a close; and, in fact, unless a wildly sweeping, systematic prosecution of the top officials of the United States comes, we shall be right back here within a decade, the possible election of a Democrat as President in 2008 notwithstanding. It took less than a decade for the Right to begin its hateful rise once again after the fall of Richard Nixon. It will take even less time in this era if nothing is done to legally, forcefully, and resoundingly punish George W. Bush.
The Democrats have shown no inclination whatsoever for the grim task necessary to save this Republic from an evil that no doubt has a veritable legion of easily punishable minions in the lower ranks of the White House, the Department of Justice, and every other agency, but that has its heart and soul in the man who sits in the Oval Office just daring the cowards in Congress to take him on. The Democrats in Washington simply cannot.
But those same Democrats will still want your votes the next time they're up for re-election; and, of course, they'll really want your donations. Believe it or not, they'll also be asking for your trust.
It's almost like they're just daring you to do something, isn't it?
The Dark Wraith has spoken.
A Blogger Has Passed On
Pat was the embodiment of what my kin used to call "good people."
The Dark Wraith wishes good people could stay longer.
The Written Peace: Open Forum of June 10, 2007
And by the way, for those of you who have watched that ten-minute snippet in the previous post, contemplate that level of roaring diatribe going on, not for 10 or 15 minutes, but for three hours. Fortunately for the hapless students, I do give 10-minute breaks at the top of every hour. They seem to appreciate those, especially smokers and those with less than robust bladders.
I am glad I was able to share with you the part of that first lecture where I had my ritualized hissy-fit about how the U.S. Constitution grants no rights to the People. What to this day still shocks me is how many students look in total amazement at the Establishment Clause and the Separation Clause: they're right there in plain black-and-white, and some students even comment on the disjunction between what they're seeing with their own eyes and how it's all been framed for them in the media and even in their high school government classes as some kind of disputed idea. Many of the schools in this area have faith-based "teachers" come in to give the abstinence-only sex education classes, and those church ladies who pretend to be actual educators are not averse to dropping in religious nonsense that has no place whatsoever in a public school. That, at least, is what I hear, especially from eighth-graders, for whom this targeted marketing campaign seems to be the most intensive.
My favorite line, by the way, in that part of the lecture is always where I thunder, "No, this isn't a 'Christian nation' any more than it's an Islamic nation, a Jewish nation, a Buddhist nation, or a Zoroastrian nation!" I think that helps them sort of see how far any Right-wing, fundamentalist crap is going to get with me in that particular class.
Being a corrupting force in modern America is edifying.
You might recall that a few days ago my "Quoth the Dark Wraith" noted the Center on Education Policy, which just released a report declaring that student math scores have been rising under No Child Left Behind. Dispensing with the post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy walking around on stilts in that tripe masquerading as analysis, I summarily dismissed the entire stupidity of the study by pointing out that, no, students are not coming to college any better prepared in math than they have been for years. This NCLB nonsense does not work other than to self-validate through forcing teachers to spend entire school years getting students ready for those idiotic tests. The students are coming out of this new education fad every bit as bad off as they did with "New Math," except that the new way is to terrorize them with Do the Test Well or Be Damned to Hell. That's really making for college students with a good attitude toward math, as if they didn't have a sour enough attitude before the standardized test flogging they're getting now.
Yes, I'm on a rant, and I'll tell you why. This is the last semester I'll be able to run a developmental/remedial math class by what is called "discovery learning" methods. By the end of the first day, the studentsvirtually all of whom are woefully deficient in technical algebraic manipulation skills and even basic arithmetic knowledgewere having the time of their lives. They were working in groups; they were doing goal-oriented problem solving; they were having to write out explanations of how they were proceeding through the steps of their work-out procedures; and most important of all, they were enjoying it. On Thursday, we did "body graphing": that's so they could learnusing themselves as points on lines laid out on a giant grid I'd set up in a big auditoriumall about slopes, x- and y-intercepts, and equations of straight lines. At one particularly strange juncture we did the "Slopey-Pokey"; toward the end, we passed cupcakes in rise-over-run fashion to see how slopes work. The students think these kinds of hands-on math classes are pretty cool.
And you know what? Those students are learning. The problem is, they are learning at a pace that is not lock-step, and their growing knowledge base, while extraordinarily cumulative, is at once non-summative, not right away with this method, anyway. Developmental studentsthose whose "problems" with math go beyond math problems (and that includes a whole lot of students)as well as many remedial students do not get anything out of obsessively goal-oriented pedogogy that promotes mathematicians' preferred skill sets, which I should point out remain to this day largely unchallenged. To that last point, why in God's name should a student majoring in history, sociology, or even business, for that matter, have to own a Texas Instruments TI-84 calculator, which costs well over a hundred dollars? Even for that business student, a graphing calculator is a waste of money: no business person is going to walk into a board meeting and hold up a calculator to show a bar graph of the quarterly sales figures. Yet, still, we not only require that all students own either a TI-84 or its more muscular brother, the TI-89, we require that use of the calculator be integrated fully into the curriculum. Why do we do this? It's not only because we wildly fear looking like a school full of technological Luddites, but also because we could have the pencil-pushing accreditation jockeys do something really bad to us.
I suppose I should admit that what I've been doing for years works only when it's done properly, with a veritable scientific precision entirely hidden from the students who are its beneficiaries. It has to be done by those who know what they're doing, and certainly not by the self-precious, tenured faculty who see what looks to them like a shiny toy that makes them bawl, "Mine! I can be a fun person, too, y'know," which is inevitably followed by the ruination of the program. That's what happened with my discovery learning program, which is why it is now dead. It's the same thing that happens with a lot of good ideas in education.
In macroeconomics, there's a famous truism: Bad money chases out good money. In education, the version is thus: Bad pedagogy chases out (and then shoots) good pedagogy.
No, make that GRRR.
Okay, to be honest, it probably helps (or maybe doesn't help) my perspective that I really suck at math. For God's sake, do not repeat that: I've managed to clock more than two-and-a-half decades teaching math (among many other things) without one college at which I practiced my craft finding out. The last thing I need at this late stage of the game is to have one of mine enemies in academia find out the honest, ugly truth about me. I already had my office taken away from me since, as I knew was going to happen after they gave me that Faculty Member of the Year Award, my allowed hours working there (teaching and doing maintenance stuff) were reduced back down to where they're "supposed" to be for someone of my status. They could still take away my department mailbox. That would hurt.
Anyway, I should get off the subject of education, at least the kind that goes on in institutionalized environments like schools and colleges. There's plenty of work to do out here in the Blogosphere. Considering the pay isn't all that much less and the working conditions afford me a chair, I think this is the preferred environment for the new century. I should have thought of this long ago. Then again, I kind of miss not being able to roar with my vocal cords out here.
I need to welcome a few of the newly registered commenters here at The Dark Wraith Forums. Alley Cat just registered but has yet to post a comment, so I herewith encourage the plunge into our community of discourse. Lynn at ZelleBlog is now commenting somewhat regularly here, and I would encourage you to go over and see her at her own blog. Labrys is new, I think. So is Lisa from Ranger Against War. We have a few others, new and old, who have yet to comment, among them Weaseldog of Weaseldog's Lair, although he doesn't seem to be getting my confirmation e-mail messages.
And a special "Get Well Soon (and I mean it)" goes to our good canine, blackdog of Big Brass Blog, who had some grueling medical issues just awhile back. The man has been through the wringer over the past few years, although that seems to be not at all uncommon for folks around these parts. I'm sort of hoping it's not some contagion associated with visiting this Website. I'd hate to have to go to a full quarantine, at least until I add the extra space to the lounge and dining areas at this hotel.
As it is now, all is good. It's late, the crowd is relatively unrowdy, and we have plenty of coffee and snacks in the backroom, provided, that is, Peter of Lone Tree and Mr. Goat haven't been back there doing body surfing in the potato chips bin again.
Say what you have to say on the topics of the day or on whatever else interests you. And always remember that George W. Bush and his ilk will be gone from the White House 590 days from the date of this post. That's not all that long.
Okay, yes, it is a long time from now... but it's not forever. It's just going to seem like it.
The Dark Wraith should probably buy more liquor for the cash bar.
Special Video Post: Foundations of the Legal and Regulatory Environment of Business
A Total Rant, Ladies and Gentlemen
Multi-millionaire heiress Paris Hilton, who on Monday began serving a 40-day jail sentence for DUI, was released this morning, reportedly because "She wasn't eating much of the jail food," (quoting an entertainment article at CNN.com, which is doggedly following this breaking story), or because of some other mental condition.
JAYZUS HAROLD CHRIST ALMIGHTY! What th' HELL, man?!
Buttfuck a plucked duck! This is our system of "justice"? That trollop goes free while hundreds of thousands of normal people get processed like meat through the sausage grinder of our hateful, mandatory-minimum-sentence, git-tuff-on-crime court system, which throws the wretched average folks in jail, destroys their lives, and then gets honored by TV cops-and-lawyers shows that make sick-ass remarks about the prison gang rapes those convicts will endure over and over again?
And while we're at it, can we let some of those GITMO "enemy combatant" detaineesexcuse me, "unlawful enemy combatant" detainees (just to make it alright with the black-hood military judges)go now before more of them starve themselves to death out of complete hopelessness? Oh, of course not. Those detaineess are engaged in asymmetric warfare against us when they starve themselves to death. I forgot. My bad.
Thank God for Paris. Our silly Founding Fathers and that whole aversion of theirs to the ancient European nobility thing is just so passé in this day and age, what with our desperate, pathetic need to have someone to whom we can look when we despair of our own ugly faces, unshaved crotches, and singing voices we have to show off so everyone in TV Land can laugh at us. Boy-o-boy, we need those princes and princesses gracing the covers of those magazines, just so we have something to get us through long lines at Walmart where we have the privilege of buying cheapo imported, poisoned slop from China to feed ourselves and our pets.
Geez, how else would I know what a loser I am if I didn't see those gorgeous bodies I'll never have, either on my own skin or grunting underneath me? Hey, maybe if I pay the ten bucks for a movie ticket, they'll let me look at them for a whole hour-and-a-half as they practice their craft that is so beneficial to the betterment of the world.
Wait a minute! I'm being sarcastic, aren't I? Sarcasm is so unbecoming. It's why we bloggers are such trash in the grand scheme of the journalistic media. I shouldn't even be an online publisher if I'm going to put up with this kind of disrespectful diatribe on one of my Websites.
Good Lord! I just realized what has to happen now that I've ripped my ass at and about that little trollop and all her fellow she-trollops and he-trollops. I'm going to have to ban myself!
Dear God! I hate having to do that; but it's the only just thing to do.
Oh, wait a minute. The rule of law is a joke.
Whew! Boy, there for a minute I had myself really worried.
Whoa, dudes! Thank God for the 21st Century.
The Dark Wraith is finished ranting, now.
Statistical Trends in the American-Iraqi War
As of June 2, 2007, Operation Iraqi Freedom had cost the lives of 3475 American soldiers, with another 12 deaths awaiting confirmation by the Department of Defense. On a monthly basis, the death toll for Coalition troops has been highly volatile, rising significantly during periods of intensified operations, such as during the seige of Fallujah in late 2004 and after. May 2007 marks yet another month of significantly higher casualty rates than are typical, and this is in part due to the "troop surge" President Bush initiated early this year, but it is also the result of what the Washington Post describes in a June 3, 2007, article as "increasingly sophisticated and lethal means of attack" being used by insurgents.
The graphic below, derived from statistics available at the private, highly informative site, Iraq Coalition Casualties, shows the month-by-month Coalition casualty numbers, the vast majority of which represent deaths of U.S. troops.
Note in the above graphic that the monthly number of troops killed had been trending downward from the beginning of this year until April, when the casualty figure jumped steeply and then climbed even higher in May. No let-up is expected: Queen Mary College military analyst Toby Dodge is quoted in the Washington Post article cited above as expecting "a very nasty summer" as disparate insurgent forces, including al-Qa'ida in Iraq, Ja'ish al-Mahdi, and others, turn away from targeting Iraqis and set their sites on killing American soldiers with increasingly sophisticated operational tactics and more destructive weaponry.
Evidence of the maturation of the insurgency in its various factions comes in many forms, but perhaps the most troubling statistic is captured below, which shows the month-to-month ratio of wounded-to-killed Coalition soldiers. The lower the ratio, the more lethal, on average, attacks had been during a given month. The chart below, again derived from data available at Iraq Coalition Casualties, shows the troubling trend.
The red line is the three-month (reverse sum) weighted moving average of the wounded-to-killed ratio, and it clearly shows that the ratio has been generally trending downward since about the last half of 2006. According to GlobalSecurity.org director John Pike, quoted in the Washington Post article, "[T]he closer you... get to that 3-to-1 ratio," the more like a "stand-up fight" characteristic of 20th Century wars the American-Iraqi conflict becomes.
With the trend toward more sophisticated, targeted, lethal violence against U.S. troops, and with no prospect in the foreseeable future for any drawdown of American involvement in Iraq, the Summer is, indeed, shaping up to be "very nasty," as is the Autumn and well beyond.
The Dark Wraith trusts that the Democrats in Congress have already prepared their future excuses for failing to stop the Bush Administration's debacle.
A Short Rant on Free Markets and Asymmetric Warfare
Then it turns out that this poison got into the food chain leading to humans.
Then, there was that warning a couple days ago about imported monkfish actually being deadly poison puffer fish.
And now the FDA is telling people that cheapo toothpaste imported from China has ethylene glycol in it! ETHYLENE GLYCOL?!! The stuff in ANTI-FREEEZE?!! What th' HELL, man? I don't mind my teeth chattering in the Winter, okay?
Is this insanity merely proof once again of what happens under "free market" conditions (both here and in China), or is this really a case study in why the Soviet Union never won the Cold War, just because the Russians thought nukes were the battelfield weapon of choice and never even thought of killing all of us (and our cats) with poisoned food and oral hygiene products? Whichever it is, I am NOT brushing my teeth with any more toothpaste from Aldi's, that's for DAMN sure.