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Messages - existoid

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1
Flat Earth Theory / Re: Found a fully working flat earth model?
« on: May 01, 2022, 03:38:33 PM »
I should have written: "In reality, the same lines of longitude cannot both converge and diverge in the same direction moving  south of the equator."

Better?
But that's not what happens under RET (which I presuppose to be your definition of reality), and troolon's "model" is just a restatement of RET with no functional changes. His entire argument relies on taking RET piecemeal and throwing a layer of confusion on top of it.

Hmm.  Let me make sure I understand something:

You are saying that in the RET model, lines of longitude don’t converge as they go south and then meet at the South Pole? 

I understand they are also curving, in this model, but that’s along a different plane, and not really at issue for purposes of this discussion.

When I look at a 3D model of a globe and  at the lines of longitude south of the equator, they certainly narrow and narrow until finally converging at the South Pole.

What terminology do you suggest to be clearer in explaining how lines of longitude differ in the RET and FET (monopole) models than “converging” and “diverging” ?  (Referring to the lines as one moves south along them, to be clear).


2
Flat Earth Theory / Re: Found a fully working flat earth model?
« on: May 01, 2022, 02:38:33 PM »
In reality, the same lines of longitude cannot both converge and diverge.
I'm glad that you agree RET is an impossibility, but in this specific instance you happen to be wrong.

Ha, well put.

Let me clarify:

I should have written: "In reality, the same lines of longitude cannot both converge and diverge in the same direction moving  south of the equator."

Better?

[Edit: and in the paragraph above I could have been more specific as well, clarifying this topic sentence:
'The lines of longitude cannot both converge AND diverge in reality crossing through a series of given lines of latitude , because the absolute, measurable distance between converging lines and diverging lines cannot be the same.

3
Flat Earth Theory / Re: Found a fully working flat earth model?
« on: April 30, 2022, 05:29:01 PM »

Every coordinate in 3D space is directly mapped from a single point on the globe to a single point on troolon's FE. It's a globe. Anyone standing on the surface of the Earth would perceive it to be a globe, which has converging lines of longitude at both poles.

I forgot to directly address is, although my above post certainly accounts for it.  But here's a more direct reply, taking into account my explanation above:

The "coordinate" that is exactly at the south pole in 3D space, when mapped to an FE map will become a circle. It will be the circumference of the world map, in fact. How can a point be a circle?

Or, if the reality were a flat earth, the many coordinates that form the circumference of the map would all be mapped onto the same single point that is the south pole in a spherical projection of the flat reality. How can a circle be a point?

4
I do want to add that I'm highly sympathetic to the concept of dishonest motives of political and bureaucratic leaders. I accept Public Choice Theory, which in brief states that those in government face the same incentives and constraints on their behavior as all of us as described in a market setting or economy. Namely, they can face strong incentives to mislead the public even on important issues, and typically do so.

However, when this happens, it is not done in a vacuum and there are countervailing politicians and bureaucrats (or other non-governmental organizations) with incentives to point out the flaws or misleading information presented.

Thus, if NASA were a big hoax, there would be some pressure on some politicians to reveal this. But there's been none in many, many decades, which strongly implies to me this is not an example of misinformation from our leaders.

5
Flat Earth Theory / Re: Found a fully working flat earth model?
« on: April 30, 2022, 04:54:05 PM »
Great work, guys. You successfully demonstrated exactly what I said. Sort of, actually. Existoid read without comprehension, so that's at least more than was apparent before.

Every coordinate in 3D space is directly mapped from a single point on the globe to a single point on troolon's FE. It's a globe. Anyone standing on the surface of the Earth would perceive it to be a globe, which has converging lines of longitude at both poles.

But by all means, continue attacking this representation of the globe, expressed in a scary foreign coordinate system.

Let me summarize troolon's point as I understand it, and as I understand you to be restating:

Troolon makes no claims as to which version of earth is a reality (globe or flat). However, whichever earth is "reality" - globe or flat - we can use a coordinate system to create a map projection to look like the other shape. In other words, if we assume the earth is a globe, we can use a 3D coordinate system to create an accurate map that looks like an monopole, it's just an AE projection of a spherical reality. Or, if we assume the earth is flat, we can use a 3D coordinate system to create a 3D model of a globe, but it's just a spherical projection of the flat reality. Of course you can use a 3D coordinate system to make any map projection, regardless of what the underlying reality is.

I'm not disputing that. You seem to think I am. I'm making a different argument:

If we assume that, in reality, the earth is a globe, and we map that globe using an accurate 3D coordinate system onto an AE projection (with the north pole at the center), and our AE projection is accurate to the globe reality, then regardless of unit of measure the absolute distances between each line of longitude at the circumference of the map is zero. That's because on an actual globe, such lines would converge at the south pole (which is represented as a big circle on this AE projection). The projection makes the lines of longitude appear to diverge, but if they diverged in reality then the distance between each could not possibly be zero. Two lines that are spaced apart can't have a distance of zero between them, can they?

Look at this image:
https://www.dropbox.com/s/ungp3c57f3ulcks/Monopole%20map%20with%20longitudes%20at%20the%20circumference%20highlighted.png?dl=0

Each red line would have a distance of zero between each other (no matter what units of measure you choose to use), if the world, in reality, were a globe, and this map was merely a projection of that real globe onto a flat surface.

By contrast, if we assume that, in reality, the earth is flat, with the north pole at the center, and we map that flat world using an accurate 3D coordinate system onto a spherical projection, with the outer circumference of the world condensed into a point at the "bottom" of the sphere, then regardless of unit of measure the absolute distances between each line of longitude which converge to a point at that "bottom" of the sphere  cannot be zero but a positive number!.

Remember, in this latter example we are assuming that the earth, in reality, is flat and so those red lines in my attached image are some measurable distance apart. Say, roughly 10,000 miles apart along the curve of the circumference. And that 10,000 miles of real ice between each is "projected" to a single point.

That's why I put an emphasis on this particular quote from troolon, which I repeat here without emphasis:

"Taking an orthogonal ruler, to a flat-earth coordinate system produces invalid results. Just like taking my bend ruler to your globe would completely invalidate it."

In other words, when you put actual, measurable numbers of distances between each line of longitude, the same coordinate system will produce invalid results depending on whether the real shape of the object measured is a flat monopole world or a globe. [EDIT: and thus my WW2 plotting chart evidence. The planes flying over the ocean had to have precisely measured distances between each stated coordinate - each line of longitude - on their charts, or else they would virtually always crash into the ocean and die. They couldn't just fly between unknown distances along each latitude until the next longitude without knowing the number of km they were traveling!].

I'll restate my final statement from my previous post a little differently given the fuller explanation above:

'The lines of longitude cannot both converge AND diverge in reality, because the absolute, measurable distance between converging lines and diverging lines cannot be the same. That's impossible. So, either longitude, in reality, converges (as in RET), but the AE projection using a 3D coordinate system merely appears like they are diverging when they're not. Or, lines of longitude, in reality, diverge further south (as in FET), but global representation merely make them appear like they are converging when they're not.

In reality, the same lines of longitude cannot both converge and diverge. They must be actually doing one or the other. Yes, the projection can make it look however you want.

6
Flat Earth Theory / Re: Experiment to Distinguish FE from RE
« on: April 30, 2022, 03:19:15 AM »
As it is is too large for us to tackle all in one go, it would seem that the rigorous and repeated measurement of still water's surface (barring surface tension artifacts) would be the logical place to begin. This has already been done for centuries in the discipline of hydrostatics. This would not tell us the shape of the entire world of course, but it would help to determine (by establishing the local observations) if spherical is even a potentially acceptable shape for the world (considering its surface is thought +70% water)

Done twice thus far. You did see reply #31 above...?

Got lots more examples if you wanna see.

Serious question. 

Could the Wiki's "electromagnetic acceleration" account for your reply #31?  In other words, the plane of the sea totally IS "above" the tops of the ship and lighthouse in your two example pictures, but the light reflecting from the sea to the observer's eyes simply makes it appear to be "below" where it really is.

I am terrible at math, so I would not be able to calculate the following, but perhaps you can:

Could we then do some sort of magical calculations (math sometimes really does seem like magic to me) to measure that the light is "bending" the same amount(? - I don't know what word to use here) in both your 100m above the sea observation AND the light of the sun to the earth creating the time zones, etc. as described in the Wiki ?

Or would we first need to know the Bishop constant to even make sure a comparison and thus we can't anyway?

7
Quote from: existoid
An analogy could be this:
1. Cthulhu is a titanic space monster who sleeps at the bottom of the Pacific ocean, but he is not real.
2. However, the US has a security imperative to protect Hawaii and the Western coast of the US from a potential attack if Cthulhu ever awakens.
3. Therefore, the US spends lots of money on weapons systems designed to specifically defend us from Cthulhu, but, crucially, these weapon systems are all completely faked. Everything about them is made up as a giant conspiracy.

After all, Cthulhu isn't real, so why would there be any need to actually make the special weapons that protect us from him?

Likewise, if RET space isn't real, what is the purpose of NASA and the pentagon to perpetuate a conspiracy to dominate a phenomena that doesn't even exist?  Put another way: If RET space exists, the security motive makes practical sense. If it doesn't, the security motive makes no sense.

In this world if Cthulhu was a part of their religion people may not accept the military declaring that Cthulhu didn't exist. People would just say that the military's submarine or sonar technology is primitive and that he could easily be hidden somewhere. It is far better for the the military and military contractors to ask for money from the public to defend against such threats. The military knows that increased defense funding and the associated development of new technologies would increase the country's security and status in general. The contractors know that increased defense funding is more money for them. The government gets to satisfy the public's fears. Politicians get to win elections, etc, etc.

If another country came along and said that they couldn't find Cthulhu and he therefore did not exist it would simply be rebutted that they they must have too primitive of technology to do it. It is better for that country to join the defense industry bandwagon.

I see. 

So if I understand you correctly, it's not so much about a domination of space, per se, but about the generalized excuse to keep funds for military and scientific uses high?   In other words, the more spent on NASA, the better off we are (new technologies discovered with military (and non-military) application, even though the rationale is made up? 

Let me accept that for arguments sake and follow with this question:

Do you believe that Washington doesn't believe that the public would want such funds spent if they knew space travel were a hoax?   In other words, the powers that be fear that if they revealed the truth NASA's funding would be cut entirely, even though it produces the public good of scientific and military advancement?






8
Flat Earth Theory / Re: Found a fully working flat earth model?
« on: April 29, 2022, 10:02:38 PM »

OP did not contend with the divergence of longitude

Quote
Yes. Yes, he did.


Well, no he didn't, at least to my understanding.   I could be mistaken, but I'll explain why I don't think I am:

To cut to the chase, in discussing lines of lat/long troolon mentions that "The map has a different distance metric. Distance is just a formula, it's up to you to choose a meaningful one." And then in response to replies to that he writes, "For the AE map, the conventional distance formula for coordinates expressed as (lat, long) does work as lat/long are preserved by the projection."  And then later, "i'm trying to make a model of reality, i'm not trying to make a map.
- Coordinate transformations can turn any shape into any other shape
- physics works with coordinate trnasformations
-> physics can be made to work on any shape universe (have a look at http://troolon.com for pictures)
-> There is no test to differentiate between the shapes. In reality we can only observe/measure the physical properties, not the shape."

And then further down, when SteelyBob presses on the question of distance, troolon writes (emphasis added):

"For an observer existing within the coordinate system, ie a person in austraiia, the world and distances appear as in reality.
For an observer outside of the coordinate system, you should measure distances with a flat-earth ruler. (which is curved and has non-equal distance markings)
Taking an orthogonal ruler, to a flat-earth coordinate system produces invalid results. Just like taking my bend ruler to your globe would completely invalidate it."

And voila, that goes directly to my initial point. WW2 planes used a plotting chart that required lines of longitude to not diverge, but to eventually converge at the south pole. If their plotting charts had matched the monopole map in reality, nearly all those pilots would have died in the ocean because they would not have known the absolute distances they needed to travel in miles to get back to their carrier or airbase.  Their plotting charts would have provided, in the words of troolon, "invalid results."

He very cleverly sidesteps the very different absolute distances between lines of longitude the further south they get from the equator if the world were monopole in reality, as compared to an oblate spheroid. He does this by discussing coordinates on map projections, and what he's written only makes sense (to me) under the assumption that the map projections preserve the coordinates as mapped to real world places, but not that the absolute distances as measured in miles would be the same between a flat monopole earth and a round oblate spheroid.

It's possible I'm mistaken about something troolon is saying, but I can't find any interpretation of what he's said in this entire thread that can be summarized as:

'Whether lines of longitude converge (as in RET) or diverge (as in FET), the absolute distances traveled between each line of longitude would be the same.'

That's nonsense, and I don't believe troolon made any claim to that effect!


9
Flat Earth Theory / Re: Found a fully working flat earth model?
« on: April 29, 2022, 08:41:43 PM »
Looks like neither of you read what OP has been writing. If you spend a few minutes actually reading, instead of knee-jerk reacting to yell "NO, FE BAD", you may just discover that the model is quite literally still the same model as the globe. Because it is still the globe model. OP spent a lot of time responding very clearly, and was very patient, and it's clear the folks that have had the most vocal opposition aren't even showing the slightest bit of respect by reading what they have written.

OP did not contend with the divergence of longitude, only that on either model the same place names on a map would be at the same lines of longitude, and that one can use the same type of calculation to derive those points regardless of the map projection used. My intrusion into the discussion adds a wrinkle not yet discussed in detail, I think, because the application of the plotting graphs in WW2 planes required the lines of longitude to not diverge.

My argument is a little more sophisticated than "NO, FE BAD" thank you very much.


10
On the Wiki page labeled The Conspiracy there is a great deal of space devoted to evidence for the conspiracy. I am not going to quibble with any of that, and for purposes of my questions we can assume all is accurate there as stated.

My questions will concern the motive, as this segment of the Wiki is rather brief (in comparison to the evidence segment), and I would like more information about it. Largely because I'm simply curious, but also because a passion of mine is understanding international relations and in particular international security (i.e., geopolitics and war, etc.). And the motive for the Space Travel Conspiracy, as explained in the Wiki, is entirely related.

Please note, this post is not intended as an argument with a declared thesis nor a self-contained challenge to any FE model or theory. This isn't intended as polemical at all. Rather, I'm curious about the reasons behind the motive and the potential explanations. I accept that there is likely not a single answer that the entire FE community will accept, so I'm happy to hear individual FEr's explanations and arguments.

Two important preliminary notes:
1. I accept RET. But I am exceptionally civil (I think I've more than proved that in these forums, despite being more of a lurker). Please reply in kind.
2. I am not intending to question the motives behind why those in the FE community might believe in The Conspiracy. Rather, I'm digging into the motives of the powers that be (in Washington D.C., etc.) as presented by the FE community. Square?

I begin:

I. The US Security Motive to Dominate Space
The US has a strong motive to dominate space, just as the Wiki presumes. At the beginning of the space race this was due to idiosyncrasies of the Cold War. In our current unipolar world there persists security logic for the US to dominate space. In fact, the necessity of dominating space is perhaps more critical now due to how a modern war involving the US would likely be conducted. The complex operations and tactics currently established in US military doctrine literally require satellites, as part of the so-called "Full-spectrum Dominance" concept. Normally, the capabilities enabled by satellite use is considered a strength because it provides precision guidance, precision timing, and superior communications. However...it also represents a constraint on the effectiveness of operations if we were to lose those satellites. Thus, we have security logic mandating domination of space (or at least of satellites). This is why, China, for its part, is developing or has developed "killer" satellites that can destroy others, which is a potential concern. It has been reported that some wargames done by the US navy have conducted them with the assumption that no satellites will be available (testing the possibility of China having destroyed them all prior to war) during a battle with China over Taiwan, and this alters the potential plans greatly.

II. The Inconsistency, or The US Security Motive to Dominate the Aether???
But...why would the US have any security logic or motive to fake the dominance of space if space (as defined in RET) doesn't exist? Here is the key quote from the Wiki (emphasis added).
"The purpose of NASA is to fake the concept of space travel to further America's militaristic dominance of space."

If space, as defined in RET with gravity enabling large bodies to orbit each other, and smaller satellites to orbit larger objects, doesn't exist, then where does the logic of the security needs flow from?

An analogy could be this:
1. Cthulhu is a titanic space monster who sleeps at the bottom of the Pacific ocean, but he is not real.
2. However, the US has a security imperative to protect Hawaii and the Western coast of the US from a potential attack if Cthulhu ever awakens.
3. Therefore, the US spends lots of money on weapons systems designed to specifically defend us from Cthulhu, but, crucially, these weapon systems are all completely faked. Everything about them is made up as a giant conspiracy.

After all, Cthulhu isn't real, so why would there be any need to actually make the special weapons that protect us from him?

Likewise, if RET space isn't real, what is the purpose of NASA and the pentagon to perpetuate a conspiracy to dominate a phenomena that doesn't even exist?  Put another way: If RET space exists, the security motive makes practical sense. If it doesn't, the security motive makes no sense.

Thus, I'm left with a very fundamental question: what is the 'real' motive for the conspiracy?  Why is NASA perpetuating it since it doesn't flow from any security logic?

or does it...? I can think of one potential security logic to lead to The Conspiracy:

III: Disinformation as Security Motive
I can think of one idea: A disinformation tactic to fool potential adversaries into thinking we're more capable than we are.

However, one key characteristic of effective disinformation in military intelligence is low cost. Since disinformation cannot be expected to always work, it's undesirable to overspend on it, rather than on hard assets that are expected to work (like actual weapon systems and personnel). A way to think of this principle is: if you spend the same amount of money on fooling your foe into believing you have an army as what you would have spent on an actual army, why not just build that army?  If you spent only on disinformation about your supposedly huge army, and that trickery fails and they attack you, you have no army to defend with. But if you spent the same money on that army, you can defend! The best way to use disinformation is as a low-cost tool to help preserve your hard (and more costly) assets.

This doesn't mean disinformation isn't critical to success just because it's low cost, however. For example, the allies spent a LOT of money on the planes, escorts, transports, weapons, and men who landed on the beaches of Normandy on June 6, 1944 as part of Operation Overlord. Many, perhaps most military historians argue that without Operation Fortitude, however, Overlord may have failed. Operation Fortitude was a huge deception campaign to trick Germany into thinking we would land in Pas de Calais (many miles north of Normandy). It worked, as Hitler didn't allow his generals to send any units from his massive defense of Pas de Calais until June 9th, three days after we were on Normandy - and the allies still had a tough time of invading! But the phantom armies and false radio signals and the like used as part of Fortitude required only a fraction of the cost and effort that the actual invasion did. This comports with how real disinformation works in warfare and international security.

So, my skepticism that The Conspiracy is to deceive our foes doesn't stem from the value of disinformation, rather from the suspicious cost-benefit analysis the pentagon would have to accept in order to spend such inordinate sums on "space travel." The US spends about 22 billion dollars on NASA every year. For sure, that's only a small portion of the 700+ billion dollars spent on the overall US military. But 22 billion on purely disinformation is a massive waste of money in a governmental area where massive waste is the norm!  (Don't get me started on the wasted dollars for the F-35. I believe every dollar spent on the F-35 has basically gone into the toilet). 

To put it into perspective, the 22 billion dollars that funds NASA could instead add 200 new F-35s to our airforce every year! Which do you think is more effective in a real war against, say, China: 2000 more actual F-35s (over 10 years) in our air force, or 10 more years of a disinformation campaign via NASA that tricks everyone into believing our military is way better than it is in reality? You don't have to know much about warfare to guess the answer.

Here are some final focusing questions for any FErs who wish to answer my questions or further explore the topic:

1. Am I simply wrong in my cost/benefit calculation, and 22 billion dollars (per year!) seems like a realistic amount to make the rest of the world believe our military is even better than it is?

2. Is there an aspect of security logic I failed to consider that creates the motives for Washington to keep NASA and The Conspiracy going?

3. Perhaps I'm wrong about the aether/space distinction. Is there a security logic to dominate the aether, rather than orbital space that I'm not aware of?  (Though this would presumably not include satellites, since those don't exist in most FET formulations).

Thanks for reading.



11
Flat Earth Investigations / Re: Sydney to Santiago Flight path
« on: April 29, 2022, 05:44:35 PM »
In 2019 170,000 people visited the Cook Islands which has a permanent population of just 17,000. It's already just a large air travel and hospitality and tourism industry. They clearly have infrastructure. 17,000 also doesn't include the people who travel seasonally or temporarily for work.

Resources come from other islands and international commercial development. They aren't alone. The concept of transportation and travel exists.

May as well claim that a small town in the middle of the US is so small and primitive that it couldnt possibly be a hub for vehicle fuel and overnight stays.  ::)

I'll accept your number of 170,000 people visiting the Cook Islands in 2019.  In the same year Hawaii had a whopping 10 million visits, or nearly 59 times more than Cook Islands.  https://www.usatoday.com/story/travel/destinations/2021/07/31/hawaii-to-reduce-number-visitors-oahu-tourism-cap/5443732001/

These are visits, not stopovers. Therefore, airlines have a substantial interest in layovers there because there is already a large number of people going to and from there anyway. So for efficiency sake it will become a natural hub for many airline routes. Not so with Cook Islands.









12
Flat Earth Theory / Re: Found a fully working flat earth model?
« on: April 29, 2022, 05:05:58 PM »
@OP

There is a problem with the flat monopole map regarding the necessarily diverging lines of longitude the further south one travels from the equator.

In brief, if longitudes kept getting wider as they go further, then every one of the thousands of WW2 battles, flight missions, and dogfights reported by US, Japanese, British, and Australia airmen and sailors that took place south of the equator must have happened quite differently than all available evidence. The planes that flew to and from carriers (and air bases on islands south of the equator) relied on plotting charts with accurate scales for latitude and longitude, and these plotting charts (of which copies are still extant and can be reviewed) do NOT show diverging longitudes, but longitudes that comport with the generally accepted globe model. (Edit: to clarify: incorrect plotting charts would result in an astonishing and intractably overwhelmingly majority of planes flying south of the equator in WW2 to be lost at sea because they could not find their carrier or air base in the vast waters).

More in depth analysis in my original post on this topic here:
https://forum.tfes.org/index.php?topic=16428.msg212915#msg212915


To all (especially the mods) - I apologize if this seems at first glance off topic, given that OP presented his model as one that can explain all the observations of physics. I argue that this is on topic because it is in reaction to the topic and summarizing sentence of the OP:
"I believe to have found a fully working flat earth model." I believe OP has not done so, because of my understanding of WW2 in the Pacific. Ergo, it's not a "fully working" one in my judgment.




13
How do we know that antarctica exists?

Here are some of the ways "we" could know that Antarctica exists (I assume by "we" you mean human knowledge writ large).

1. Humans can travel close to or on to it and document their visit with writings, photos, and videos. Some human organizations do this regularly, usually for scientific, economic or leisure purposes. (Examples of photos from leisure trips here: https://expertvagabond.com/antarctica-pictures/ )

1a. Corollary: we can infer its existence from scientific writings by humans who went there not to document its existence, but other phenomena (e.g., life cycles of penguins; geology; marine life in the littoral zone, etc.). Stuff that is reported here, for example: https://www.scar.org/

2. Satellites can take images of it from orbit. (example: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/07/science/antarctica-map-rema.html )

3. Planes can fly over it and document it.  (Third picture in this article claims to be of Antarctica from a Qantas jet: https://www.traveller.com.au/why-dont-airlines-fly-commercial-routes-over-antarctica-plan-for-perthbuenos-aires-nonstop-h1dq5r )

4. We can unearth and unfreeze an alien intent on absorbing all life on earth and then destroy it in fire to keep the rest of the world safe. This was documented in 1981.  ;D 








14
A quick search of "SpinLaunch" showed nothing in any of the forums, and thought this would be of interest to some as a private company - https://www.spinlaunch.com/ - has apparently created a new centrifugal launch platform to get satellites into orbit. It doesn't use rocket fuel. Instead it uses a gigantic spinning wheel to flip the payload at several times the speed of sound(!)

Here's a video purporting to show a test launch:


15
Philosophy, Religion & Society / Re: President Joe Biden
« on: August 25, 2021, 10:04:18 PM »
Quote
Also, I think it's quite a misnomer to label it an "unjust occupation" given that the internationally accepted government (up until last week) hosted US and NATO forces, and wanted us to stay at least until November this year.  That's not what an "occupation" is.  It may have been an unjust occupation in 2001, but that's a far cry to 2021.

Quote
An occupation that starts as unjust doesn’t become just when your puppet government gives their totally free and uninfluenced approval. Especially when the US is killing lots of civilians and pulling out lots of the countries natural resources.

Got it, so in other words, the war was unjust and the US and NATO should never have invaded?  Is that the argument?

Tracking the killing of civilians is really messy. A source would be nice. I know that the best final assessment of civilians killed by US forces in Iraq can be summed up as "Americans are literally taking casualties to prevent casualties on the part of Iraqi civilians."  At the height of the Iraqi insurgency (2006 through 2008) only about 1 out of every 100 civilian deaths involved US troops in any way. You read that right - 1%. An example year is 2006, when 16,791 civilians were killed by terrorists and insurgents, and only 225 by US troops for that whole year.

I have read a lot less about these numbers in Afghanistan, but given that it was a much more low intensity war overall, I would be surprised if the numbers were dramatically different.

And finally, given that the US has poured billions of USD into Afghanistan to build infrastructure, schools, hospitals, and other things - and has poured in FAR more money than any it could have gotten out by "pulling out natural resources" that's an odd statement.  I'm not going to defend any stealing the US may have done in Afghanistan, but the net is a flow of money and resources INTO, not out of, that country.  And this doesn't include the dramatic increase in civil rights - particularly women's rights - that were fostered under our "puppet" regime. 

Edit: One of the easiest criticisms that domestic (US) opponents of the ongoing war make is that it is so stunningly costly to keep it up (not just to pay for the military stuff, but all the so-called "nation building" stuff too). We've been pumping billions into Afghanistan via the USAID org and other means, and it's expensive. That's going to go away with the Taliban.   

Here's right from the horse's mouth all the pillaging the US government has done since 2002 in Afghanistan:
https://www.usaid.gov/afghanistan

16
Philosophy, Religion & Society / Re: The Taliban Won
« on: August 25, 2021, 09:19:10 PM »
I'm not sure Trump would have stuck to the deal had he been re-elected. There was no reason for him to publicly announce the deal was void as far back as last Fall when he was a lame duck - and the unofficial back channels that were operating to discuss the real deal and situation were likely considering multiple possibilities, but all unknown because it would have been up to Biden, since he is president when the day actually comes to withdraw.

One thing I do believe, is that if Trump had been re-elected and the same events in Afghanistan that happened in the past two weeks happened just the same, Trump would have been excoriated in the media and public to a level not seen in his first four years.

Biden is being (rightly) criticized across the political spectrum right now, but it still hasn't risen to how much vilification Trump generally received for lesser errors. I guess that's neither here nor there. I mean, I didn't vote for Trump in 2016, nor in 2020.

But it's hard to think of a way this could have been handled even worse by Biden. Defenses of anything he's done regarding this debacle are going to sound really hollow to me. (As will attempts to shift focus on what Trump did or didn't do, or even "might" have done or not done - only Biden can "own" what actually transpired under his watch in a war. He's the commander in chief.).

17
Philosophy, Religion & Society / Re: President Joe Biden
« on: August 25, 2021, 08:38:59 PM »
There's two aspects to this that should not be conflated but probably will be.

1.  A failure to get our people out of there.  Clearly Biden's fault.

2.  The country falling to the Taliban.  Really this has more to do with the past 3 presidents.

To the second point: it happened on Biden's watch. And that's as much thought as a lot of people will put into it. And really, in the final analysis the decision to move out was his. I can't imagine they didn't have intel suggesting how strong the Taliban was in the area. He could have stayed put, but he made a political calculation that I think was dead wrong and will cost him.

Fox News is eating this up and for once it's justifiable.

What exactly should have happened?  Under what circumstances could they end this unjust occupation and contain the Taliban.  The timeline to withdraw was rushed because the Taliban were becoming increasingly aggressive so the option to stay could quite easily have made the situation worse.

The Taliban were increasingly aggressive in the past few months because the US foolishly told them loud and clear we were leaving.  We could have done lots of things differently (and still pulled out), and one easy way to do so is to leave without telling the Taliban when the effective date was going to be...

Also, I think it's quite a misnomer to label it an "unjust occupation" given that the internationally accepted government (up until last week) hosted US and NATO forces, and wanted us to stay at least until November this year.  That's not what an "occupation" is.  It may have been an unjust occupation in 2001, but that's a far cry to 2021.





18
Philosophy, Religion & Society / Re: The Taliban Won
« on: August 25, 2021, 08:22:21 PM »
I'm an international security buff, so this may be a little wonky, but I'll try to keep it succinct:

"The Morning" newsletter from NYT today basically spent half of its words on the idea that there were "no real alternatives" to a highly chaotic withdrawal and evacuation. In a basic sense, that's true. The US (and Nato) lost the war, and this is what losing a war looks like - evacuation is challenging and messy, former (domestic) allies are identified and murdered by the new regime, etc.

On the other hand, there are a number of very simple things Biden could/should have done that would mitigate some of the disasters of the past two weeks.

#1 The most obvious would be to agree to delay until Winter, as the Afghani officials directly requested this past Spring. Combat operations (particularly major ones like the Taliban executed in the past 8 days to retake the country) are really hard to do in the Afghanistan Winter, so there is usually a sharp drop off of Taliban offensives each Winter. Waiting until November to evacuate would give the Afghani forces time to prepare defenses and give them a better chance of resisting a major Taliban offense in the Spring. Instead, Biden rejected this idea from the Afghani government (which was essentially installed by Biden's predecessors, note), with no serious explanation given as to why.

#2 Biden should also have ensured the operational plans for the withdrawal were far more secret, and less public. It was both a strategic and tactical blunder to announce specific dates (Trump was guilty of this too), and then this blunder is being further amplified by doubling down on not modifying it no matter what is happening. I believe this blunder stems from a belief that the Taliban will inevitably re-take Afghanistan. But it wasn't inevitable as recently as 1 year ago.

#3 And thirdly, and perhaps the most critical, it would have been ridiculously simple to send a very large contingent - say two whole divisions of the US army, and perhaps a few regiments (or even just two battalions) of US marines to the area to explicitly assist in the evacuation and withdrawal. If I'm correct that one reason we foolishly announced loud and clear how and when we're withdrawing is partially because Biden assumes the Taliban will rapidly take over (as they did), then it's even stupider that he didn't provide a large force to simply protect the evacuation and withdrawal itself.  Yes, if we did this the Taliban would believe we are launching new offensives and expanding the war, when we bring in more combat units. So? That would make them more cautious to try a rapid offensive to re-take Kabul under the circumstances. The Taliban has no illusions believing they can win any combined arms battle. They didn't even attack our forces en masse even once from 2014 to this year, when we had a paltry 14000 military personnel or so. There are other challenges created with this last idea, but suffice it to say, it would be eminently possible and allow us to evacuate and withdraw without the level of chaos we've seen.

It is framed in news, polls, and pretty much everywhere that this is "the long war" that we are still fighting after two decades. Sort of. One of the most common misunderstandings about the war at all is the role US and NATO forces play. Since 2014, when Enduring Freedom ended and Freedom's Sentinel took over, nearly all combat operations have been spearheaded by domestic Afghani forces. The US and NATO militaries have provided training, logistical support, air support (which is key), and some small scale anti-terrorism support (i.e., special forces type operations). For seven years the US and NATO militaries haven't really been conducting a war, per se. The Afghani domestic forces have. We've just been supporting them to ensure they persist.

I'm not saying we necessarily should have stayed eternally, but given US combat deaths dropped to double digits yearly in 2014, it's clear this "war" is the calmest and least deadly war the US has ever been involved in. (One way to measure that is the war has been going for about 239 months, and we've had 1833 combat deaths. That's an average of 7.6 per month. Even the first Gulf War would be reckoned at like 149 deaths per month (for a MUCH shorter war), and something like 40 per month on average for the Iraq War (2003-2011).  The only "wars" in which the US has had something like 7 deaths per month on average are not wars at all, but individual, isolated operations (the various imperial interventions our commanders in chief are so fond of (particularly ALL the presidents from Reagan through Obama)).

My point is that we could have drawn down very differently, over more time, done far more professionally and strategically. But we didn't.

What makes this more infuriating is that the primary role of a president, per the US constitution, is to deal with foreign policy (NOT domestic policy). Sadly, over the decades, the US presidency has grown like a cancer to be at least as much (if not more) about domestic politics than dealing with other nations. If Biden ran his presidency like he should, according to his enumerated powers, I think he would have handled it very differently. But his focus is on other matters that are really the province of Congress and the states. Alas.

Would Trump have done any of these things, or done them better? Perhaps not. He was not a brilliant president (though nor was he an abject failure - rather middle of the road in effectiveness, IMO, once you take away the heightened emotions surrounding everything to do with him). But I can see Trump listening to his military advisors more closely on something like this.

19
Philosophy, Religion & Society / Re: Coronavirus Vaccine and You
« on: August 25, 2021, 07:21:19 PM »
This is worth a read:
https://greenwald.substack.com/p/the-bizarre-refusal-to-apply-cost

His ultimate point can be succinctly stated:
Let's use our normal cost-benefit analysis that we (should) apply to virtually all public policy debates to the various debates regarding Covid (vaccines, lockdowns, etc.).     


20
Philosophy, Religion & Society / Re: President Joe Biden
« on: May 20, 2021, 05:08:24 PM »
As a geopolitical and international security junky there's just too much to say about the Israel/Palestine situation and the conversation would be even more intractable than an FET vs RET one  :P  ;D

But I will chime in to say that the key problem facing the Gazans (and to an extent those in the West Bank as well, but more so in Gaza) is Hamas and Islamic Jihad. That is to say, Israel is not the source of the key problems facing Gaza and the average Gaza citizen. 15 years ago Hamas was elected in Gaza, and since then zero elections have been held, and Hamas has spent those 15 years making life worse and worse and worse for the average Gazan with intensely evil human rights violations against their own people.

Israel has had no ongoing military or administrative presence in Gaza for decades now, and yet the huge amount of money that has poured in to Gaza from private donors and other states (Iran, but also lots of Arab states) has not gone to making the lives of Palestinians better, because Hamas clearly doesn't care about their own people.

Of course, Hamas, being authoritarian thugs and an actual terrorist organization in control of a polity cannot be voted out with no elections (and if there were any, the idea that Gazans would have a fair election without Hamas personnel overseeing their non-secret ballot votes is laughable, meaning Hamas would retain power anyway).

In case my ultimate point isn't clear: the plight of Palestine and Palestinians right now in 2021 can only fairly be laid at the feet of Hamas, and not Israel.

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