Finally, the truth . . .

. . .  on ISIS and Iraq. Item:

WASHINGTON — Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter said Sunday that Iraqi forces had demonstrated “no will to fight” against the Islamic State, blaming them for a retreat that led to the terrorist group’s victory in capturing the Iraqi city of Ramadi.
Story.

When has the Iraqi army shown the will to fight? Not under Saddam in both Gulf Wars, not with a lot of American help during the occupation, and not now.

There have been and are exceptions, but for the most part, calling the army an army is like calling salamanders fearsome reptiles. (And yes, I know they're amphibians.)

So now that the truth is out - and recognized at the highest levels of American government - what happens next?


Pac nostalgia

It's funny the things that become cultural landmarks - Pac Man turns 35 today.

I still remember "discovering" the game at a dumpy diner near Newburgh, N.Y. a millennium ago. It was an absurdly effective if entertaining way to waste time.

More recently, I had the privilege of working with Namco-Bandai (currently Bandai Namco), Pac Man's parent. That work often took me to their Santa Clara studios, where between sessions on Ace Combat  we discovered a vintage Pac Man game tucked into a corner of the building. The machine became almost a member of the team; I wouldn't be surprised if it's included in the credits.

To this day, I have nightmares about being chased by angry blobs of eyeball-blinking mush men.

At least I think that's because of the game; it could be an old landlord my subconscious is fixated on.

Wired story:
Pac-Man, the biggest arcade game of all time, turns 35 today. Here’s a look back at the era when Pac-Manfever ruled the world.
Released by the Japanese company Namco on May 22, 1980, Pac-Man was like nothing else at the time. At a time when Space Invaders and Asteroids and other games with abstracted, monochrome graphics ruled the arcade, Pac-Man offered a colorful cartoonish design with an appealing central character. It revolved around eating, not shooting; and it was designed to appeal to young women and couples, not dudes in sketchy bowling-alley bars (although they all played it too).
Rest of the story here.

(Search Pac Man on Google for a playable version of the game.)

Reality follows fiction . . .

Item:
BEIJING — The Chinese navy repeatedly warned a U.S. surveillance plane to leave airspace around disputed islands in the South China Sea, a sign that Beijing may seek to create a military exclusion zone in a move that could heighten regional tensions.
The warnings, delivered eight times to a P-8A Poseidon over the Spratly Islands on Wednesday, were reported by a CNN team aboard the plane.
Story.

Sounds a lot like the plot of Red Dragon Rising, though I have to admit I hadn't thought of filling in atolls with concrete to create islands . . . maybe if we do more.


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Ramadi


The capture of Ramadi in Iraq by ISIS not only demonstrated the utter incompetence of the Iraqi government and its laughable army, but is a sad and tragic footnote to the story promulgated during the American occupation about the great peaceful awakening of the local Iraqi tribes.
The story, featured in books and new articles, claimed that peace had come to Ramadi mostly because of the cooperation of local tribes, who got together and kicked the bad guys out of town. Nearly all of those stories emphasized the supposed actions of local Iraqis, seeing their “cooperation” as signs of a new way for Iraq.

That was bullshit. Most of them were as inept then as they are now.

Peace came to the city because U.S. forces killed so many of the insurgents that they were too decimated to mount effective attacks; that was far, far more important than anything the local tribal leaders did. The corruption and general ineptness that had existed before America’s actions in Ramadi remained, just as they remain to this day.

When the war started, many people suggested that Iraq would be best off as three separate countries, one dominated by Shia in the south and east, one by Sunni in the west, and one by Kurds in the north. The U.S. insisted on keeping the country together as one. That hasn’t worked, and we now have the worst version of the separation: an Iranian-dominated Shia province, a terrorist-dominated Sunni west, and an uneasy and besieged Kurdish north.

The ineptness of the Iraqi government and its so-called Army make ISIS look as if it’s a powerhouse. It’s not. But in the calculus of Iraq – and the Middle East – brute force and violence is a lot more important than sharing tea around a campfire. Not admitting that makes you cannon fodder, and worse.