2019 Was a Record Year for Ocean Temperatures, Data Show ~ NYT

Credit… Alexis Rosenfeld/Getty Images

Last year was the warmest year on record for the world’s oceans, part of a long-term warming trend, according to a study released Monday.

“If you look at the ocean heat content, 2019 is by far the hottest, 2018 is second, 2017 is third, 2015 is fourth, and then 2016 is fifth,” said Kevin E. Trenberth, a senior scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research and an author on the study

The study, published in the journal Advances in Atmospheric Sciences, follows an announcement last week by European scientists that Earth’s surface temperatures in 2019 were the second-hottest on record.

Since the middle of last century, the oceans have absorbed roughly 93 percent of the excess heat caused by greenhouse gases from human activities such as burning coal for electricity. That has shielded the land from some of the worst effects of rising emissions.

“Ocean heat content is, in many ways, our best measure of the effect of climate change on the earth,” said Zeke Hausfather, the director of climate and energy at the Breakthrough Institute in California, who was not involved in this study. Surface temperature measurements are more variable from year to year because they are affected by things like volcanic eruptions and El Niño events, cyclical weather patterns that pump energy and moisture into the atmosphere.

While 2016 was the fifth-hottest year on record for the oceans, it was the hottest year on record in terms of surface temperatures. There was a significant El Niño that year, Dr. Trenberth said, which moved the heat from the ocean into the atmosphere.

“And so, the global mean surface temperature is actually higher in 2016, but the ocean temperature is a little bit lower,” Dr. Trenberth said.

Measuring the ocean’s temperature has long been a challenge for scientists. Thermometers on land around the world have tracked temperatures for more than a century, but the ocean temperature record is spottier.

Argo, a global network of 3,000 drifting floats equipped with sensors that measure temperature and depth, was implemented in 2007 and created a comprehensive temperature data record. Before that, researchers had to rely on an ad hoc system of ocean temperature measurements. Many of these were taken from the sides of ships and excluded Antarctic waters until the late 1950s.

For the new study, Dr. Trenberth and his colleagues overcame some of the gaps in the historical ocean temperature record by exploiting an understanding of how a temperature reading in one area relates to ocean temperatures across the ocean overall gleaned from data from the Argo system. The new method allowed them to take the limited temperature observations from the pre-Argo era and extrapolate them into a broader understanding of past ocean temperature.

“What we find is that we can do a global reconstruction back to 1958,” Dr. Trenberth said. That year was when systematic temperature observations began in Antarctica, creating enough temperature points for the extrapolation to be feasible.

2019 Was Second Hottest Year on Record

The past 10 years have been the warmest 10 on record for global ocean temperatures. The increase between 2018 and 2019 was the largest single-year increase since the early 2000s, according to Dr. Hausfather.

Increasing ocean temperatures have harmed marine life and contributed to mass coral reef bleaching, the loss of critical ecosystems, and threatened livelihoods like fishing as species have moved in search of cooler waters.

But the impacts of warming oceans don’t remain at sea.

“The heavy rains in Jakarta just recently resulted, in part, from very warm sea temperatures in that region,” said Dr. Trenberth, who also drew connections between warming ocean temperatures to weather over Australia. The recent drought there has helped to propel what many are calling the worst wildfire season in the nation’s history.

“These sea temperatures influence regional weather patterns and sometimes even global weather patterns,” Dr. Trenberth said.

Matty Maher, an Institution at an Institution, McSorley’s, Dies at 80 ~ NYT

As bartender, manager and owner, he helped the East Village saloon survive neighborhood blight and change its ways by admitting women and banning smoking.

Credit … Ari Mintz/Newsday RM, via Getty Images


Matty Maher, the patriarch of only the third family to steward the venerable dive bar McSorley’s Old Ale House since it opened in the East Village of Manhattan in the mid-19th century, died on Saturday in Queens. He was 80.

The cause was lung cancer, his daughter Teresa de la Haba said.

Mr. Maher, who could trace his career at McSorley’s to a bit of end-of-the-rainbow serendipity in Ireland, began by tending bar at the saloon in 1964 as an Irish immigrant.

He graduated to manager as the beer hall, surrounded by neighborhood blight near the Bowery, tottered at the brink of bankruptcy; survived the loss of a gender discrimination case in1970 that forced McSorley’s to delete the last two words of its durable slogan vowing “Good Ale, Raw Onions, and No Ladies”; and endured a Health Department ordinance that, while it banned smoking, had the unintended consequence, Mr. Maher said, of encouraging customers to drink more.

The bar was immortalized early in the 20th century by the paintings of John Sloan of the Ashcan School (one, displayed at the 1913 Armory Show, was said to have been priced at $500 and failed to sell) and by Joseph Mitchell’s 1940 profile in The New Yorker titled “The Old House at Home,” the bar’s name when it was opened by John McSorley about 1854.

Mitchell had distinguished McSorley’s as a “dark and gloomy,” unpretentious and “utterly democratic” place where malt and wet hops contributed to “a thick musty smell that acts as a balm to jerky nerves.”

Mr. Maher was perfectly cast as the publican.

“He was a five-foot-eight spark plug,” the author and journalist Rafe Bartholomew wrote in a memoir, “Two and Two: McSorley’s, My Dad, and Me” (2017), “with the Irish gift of gab, a belly laugh that could fill the front room and an explosive temper when he needed it.”

When an amateur historian challenged McSorley’s reputation as New York’s oldest Irish pub, Mr. Maher commissioned a regular customer, Bill Wander, to turn the tables and prove the bar’s date of birth, which he did.

In 1936, the McSorley family sold the bar to Daniel O’Connell, a patron and police officer, who left it to his daughter, Dorothy Kirwin. In 1964, while vacationing near Kilkenny, Ireland, Ms. Kirwin’s husband, Harry, was stranded with a flat tire when who should come along to offer help but 25-year-old Matty Maher.

Harry Kirwin promised Matty a job at McSorley’s if he ever moved to New York. He accepted the offer, set off for America and ultimately, in 1977, bought the bar and the building it occupies, at 15 East Seventh Street near Cooper Square, from the Kirwins’ son.

Credit…Kristen Artz/Office of the Mayor, via Associated Press

Matthew Dennis Maher was born on Nov. 8, 1939, in Kilkenny to Patrick and Ellen (Fogarty) Maher. His father was a farmer, his mother a cook.

After leaving school at 14, he worked for a farmer, drove a delivery truck for a local meat company and caught foxes, providing them to wealthy landowners for hunts.

He married Teresa Mary Brady of County Meath, Ireland. She and Ms. de la Haba survive him, along with four other daughters, Ann Marie Pullman, Kathy Isaakidis, Adrienne Noyes and Maeve McNamara, and 12 grandchildren. Mr. Maher, who died at Flushing Hospital, lived in the Malba section of northern Queens.

Though he retired years ago, Mr. Maher, like McSorley’s itself, was a font of froth and fact about the bar and its memorabilia, which includes a sawdust-sprinkled floor, a pair of Harry Houdini’s escape-proof handcuffs, a wanted poster for “the Murderer” John Wilkes Booth and an icky accumulation of wishbones that dangles from a gas lamp over the bar.

Mr. Maher would explain that the turkey furcula tradition dated to World War I, when departing doughboys, after finishing their last full meal stateside, would hang the bones above the bar as a good luck wish that they would return safely.

As a bartender, manager and owner, he was philosophical, often reminding family and friends, “It’s not what you become in life but what you overcome.”

In 1970, after Mayor John V. Lindsay signed legislation barring discrimination in public places because of gender, altercations erupted at McSorley’s between longtime customers and female newcomers.

“I’m afraid it will be this way for a few days,” Mr. Maher told The New York Times. “They’re a little upset, you see.”

It took a little longer, until 1986, in fact, until McSorley’s added a women’s restroom. Still, Mr. Maher said, the bar somehow survived.

“That was the end of an era,” he said, “but it hasn’t changed McSorley’s.” If anything, he said, publicity over the lawsuit benefited business.

“When I started working for him full time 26 years ago, I was McSorley’s first female bartender and a little nervous going in — wondering what the old-timers would say or think,” his daughter Teresa said. (Her husband, Gregory, is an artist and bartender there, too.) “But my father said these words to quell my concerns: ‘Teresa, just tell them you’re about your father’s business.’ And so, I am. And continue to be.”

As Winter Approaches, All Eyes Turn Toward Rocky Mountain Snow pack ~ Aspen Public Radio

DEC 16, 2019

The West’s water security is wrapped up in snow. When it melts, it becomes drinking and irrigation water for millions throughout the region. A high snowpack lets farmers, skiers and water managers breathe a sigh of relief, while a low one can spell long-term trouble.

The winter bellwethers of El Niño and La Niña are absent this season. The large-scale climatic condition where longterm weather patterns are determined by the Pacific Ocean’s temperatures are in neutral conditions, making already uncertain seasonal predictions for the Colorado River watershed even moreso.

The early season spikes in snowpack totals are promising — the river’s Upper Basin is currently at 125% of average — but those who watch it closely are only cautiously optimistic.

The start of winter doesn’t smell like fresh pine trees or burning logs in the fireplace for Brian Varrella. It smells like melted crayons.

The falling snow in December will be filling streams and causing wildflowers to bloom in June. It’ll also boost reservoirs that more than 40 million in Southwest depend on for municipal and agricultural demands. But at the start of each ski season, there’s no certainty how the season will shape up, with plenty of fates hanging on each storm that tracks over the mountains.

People in the recreational community can have a selective memory when it comes to snow. They tend to only remember the good times, and forget the years cut short by a lack of snow in the mountains. It’s the opposite for those in charge of using that melted snow to keep faucets flowing in Arizona.

“It’s visceral, right?” said Kathryn Sorensen, director of Phoenix’s water utility. The city gets more than 30% of its water from the Colorado River. “Because so much of what we do depends on the availability of water and hydrology that yeah, it’s almost like a gut emotional reaction to both good years and bad years. Yeah, I do feel that.”

Sorensen can name the poor snowpack years with ease. The past two decades have brought some of the scantest snowpack totals on record for the watershed: 2002, 2004, 2007, 2012, 2013, 2015 and 2018.

“We’re always hoping for good snowpack and when it’s absent, sure, we get nervous,” Sorensen said. “But that’s why we plan methodically for worst case scenarios so that we are prepared, come what may on the Colorado River watershed.”

But while it’s important to keep an eye on year-to-year snowpack to get a sense of what short-term impacts might be, University of Colorado-Boulder and Western Water Assessment researcher Jeff Lukas says you also need to look at the watershed as a whole.

“Any one year does not set the whole system into either crisis or into recovery,” Lukas said.

Whatever happens this winter — high snow, low snow or somewhere in between — he says it won’t cause the Colorado River’s biggest reservoirs to rise or fall in any dramatic way. That takes back-to-back years of extreme highs or lows. The two largest reservoirs — Lakes Powell and Mead — are both so large and managed in such a structured way that only consecutive years of extremes cause large system-wide changes.

“There’s no good that comes from a low runoff year like 2018,” Lukas said. “But it’s not the end of the world, especially if you’re lucky enough to have that followed with a high runoff year like we had in 2019.”

And if 2020 brings another high snowpack year, that doesn’t mean the Colorado River is out of crisis mode. It just means we’ve kicked the can down the road because over the long term, climate change is diminishing snowpack across the West, Lukas said.

“And increasingly, we’re seeing unprecedented conditions relative to the last 100 or 120 years of record,” he said.

“There’s an erosion of the value of the past as a guide to the future.”

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Two Deaths and My Life ~ NYT opinion

The memento mori of two friends.


Opinion Columnist

Credit…Timothy Greenfield-Sanders/Corbis Outline, via Getty Images

Samuel Beckett, when asked one beautiful spring morning whether such a day did not make him glad to be alive, responded, “I wouldn’t go as far as that.” Life is a predicament, death the elephant at the horizon that looms larger as the years pass.

Still, life is what we have. To give less than everything to it is dereliction. In the end its wonder is unimaginable without the presence of death. As the dew dispels, the mist dissolves, and the sap rises on a morning such as the one that did not quite win over Beckett, the force of life is unmistakable. That is what put us here in the first place.

Great souls resemble the elements in their immensity. They absorb everything — pain, injustice, insult, folly — and give back decency and kindness. They are not born of a piece. They come into being through unflinching confrontation with life’s spears. They reach quiet. Discipline is the backbone of graciousness. Stoicism is the other face of wounds. In the most beautiful smile, painful knowledge hovers.

Midwinter is not what prompted these reflections, although when a freezing wind whips off the East River all thoughts turn to refuge. No, the death in quick succession of two friends was the catalyst. They were older than me. But they were not old enough and not so distant in age that their memento mori feel less than urgent.

Sonny Mehta, who died last month at the age of 77, would caress the books he loved. For them he lived. He guided Alfred A. Knopf through more than three decades of rapid change. He was a complete publisher, eclectic in his tastes, ferocious in his will, guided by a mission to bring the finest books to Knopf and publish them only once editing had honed them to irreproachable form. Yet he wanted to be remembered above all as a reader.

I knew Sonny for three decades. He published my last two books. His civility never wavered. The twinkle in his eye never faded. His friendship was constant. Whisky and a cigarette and the meandering conversation that went with them were more his thing than the treadmill. He was a beautiful man.

How so? In his gentleness that contained wisdom, in his diffidence that contained enthusiasm, in his discretion that contained curiosity. You had to listen carefully, for he spoke softly, to the clues he offered. His long marriage to his wife, Gita, brought to my mind, in its respectfulness and vitality, Rilke’s phrase about love as protecting the solitude of the other.

A child of India, brown-skinned in what was when he started the white preserve of British publishing, once asked if he was perhaps seeking a job in the stockroom, Mehta never stooped to unkindness. His writers knew they had come home. He commanded the unswerving loyalty of the likes of Michael Ondaatje, Kazuo Ishiguro, Germaine Greer and Julian Barnes. “I feel that my heart has been ripped out,” Jon Segal, his longtime colleague at Knopf, told me.

When Mehta’s father, a diplomat, died in Vienna, Mehta found in his desk a folder with every article ever published about him. The pride of his father, who had never complimented his son, was evident. Remote fathers: vast subject. Hearing this story, I understood more of my friend’s elegant stoicism.

Earlier in December, Ward Just, a journalist who turned to fiction, a great Washington Post correspondent in Vietnam who became a great novelist, died at the age of 84. Like Mehta, he was a lover of Scotch. I had not seen much of Just since we became friends in Berlin 20 years ago, but his death hit me hard. I recalled him saying to me back then: “I was useless for journalism after Vietnam. I knew I was not going to do any better work.”

Credit…Larry Morris/The Washington Post, via Getty Images

Truth, he decided, must be pursued elsewhere. “Many of the things that make you a good journalist have to be discarded to make you a good writer,” he said. “In a novel, every fact is a rock thrown in the hull, and the boat sinks a bit.”

Just probed the delusions of people and nations, and the damage they suffer. His prose was understated. In “A Dangerous Friend,” one character observes, “I have always believed that a mountainous ego resulted from an absence of conscience.” And that was before His Neediness seized the Oval Office.

As with Mehta, Just’s prodding was subtle, his smile contained sorrows, his wisdom was hard-earned, his constant humor wry. Wounded by a grenade blast in 1966, winched to safety by a chopper, he later wrote, as quoted in his Washington Post obituary: “When you got there, you said instinctively, I made it. And over and over again, Jesus Christ.”

I can hear my friend saying that, stress on the Christ. Life hangs by a thread. Pay attention to its ephemeral gifts. Of Truman Schockley, dead at 19 in Vietnam, Just wrote in 1967:

“Smoking a Lucky Strike and staring off into the mountains, Schockley died with a sniper’s bullet through the heart and stopped breathing before the cigarette stopped burning.”

Now there’s a perfect sentence that might even have persuaded Beckett. Spring passes. Truth distilled does not.

The Restorative Pause of Silent Record Week ~ The New Yorker


In 1959, a group of undergraduates at the University of Detroit sneaked two records into a jukebox in the snack bar at the Student Activities Building: one was silent, and the other played a short beep every fifteen seconds. A pretty solid gag—until people started purposefully cueing up the records. They were played so often, in fact, that their surfaces wore down from overuse, and they had to be replaced by fresh pressings. A Billboard reporter attributed the unexpected success of the silent records to “an especially determined group of somber radicals,” but it mostly just seemed as if people were increasingly eager to secure a moment of peace. The students started their own label, the Hush Record Label Company, to meet the demand. “Other customers are willing to pay for sound, but here was a group willing to put nickels in the chute in return for nothing at all,” Billboard marvelled.

The following year, the same students declared the first week of January to be Silent Record Week and hosted a revue to celebrate. Performances included a theatre critic presenting “Famous Pauses from Great Drama,” a d.j. playing “Great Things Left Unsaid by Philosophers,” and a group of sixty-five vocalists “non-singing” a piece called “The Anvil Chorus,” accompanied by twenty anvils being gently tapped by rubber mallets. The timing felt deliberate: there is perhaps no other week on the calendar in which Americans are more desperate for a flash of quietude, a pause in which to take stock and collectively reconsider our life styles. January is the month most intimately linked with abstention: no more overindulging. We reorient our lives around a list of optimistic resolutions—self-betterment via denial.

Silence itself is often linked with piousness and a kind of dignified reserve. The monastic vow of silence is solemn and unforgiving; we linger in a moment of silence to commemorate grim events; we punish each other for transgressions by responding to earnest entreaties with stone-faced silence. But silence is also a balm; even the briefest retreat from the gnawing din of humanity can be spiritually and physiologically curative. Researchers have referred to pervasive sound pollution as a “modern plague.” A study from 2006 in the medical journal Heart found that silence was more effective at lowering heart rate and blood pressure than playing relaxing music. (The scientists discovered that people actually chilled out more during the inadvertent break between songs.) A study from 2013 in Brain Structure and Function discovered that two hours of silence each day led to the development of new cells in the hippocampus of mice, the region of the brain most firmly associated with memory, learning, and emotion.

Though it has been more than sixty years since the students in Detroit took over that jukebox, the idea of paying for a moment of silence still feels relevant. (Right now, within a few blocks of my Brooklyn apartment, there are opportunities to shell out a hundred and nine dollars to float in a sensory-deprivation tank for an hour or nine hundred and sixty dollars for a series of transcendental-meditation courses.) Much of modern wellness is concerned with escaping one’s self, but, at the same time, the self—as brand, as business—has become increasingly monetized. Every day, we are told to both cultivate and erase ourselves.

My own relationship to silence is complicated. Since the nineteen-eighties, when portable audio became readily available, it has been possible for anyone with a little disposable income to spend an entire day immersed in a bespoke audiosphere of one’s own design: to willfully curate exactly what you hear and exactly what you don’t. That this has become not just socially acceptable but perhaps even socially preferable is astounding—where I live, at least, it’s unusual to see people out for a run, or sitting on the subway, or standing in line at Duane Reade without headphones tucked into their ears. (I wrote about the ubiquity of headphone use back in 2016.) I’ve had to learn how to mediate the impulse in myself. Going for a walk while listening to music is fun for a lot of reasons, but, in part, because it casts the listener as the precise center of the universe, and everyone else as a bit player in that melodrama—your problems and your pleasures suddenly become beautiful and important, because they’re all that you can access. My resolution for 2020 was to resist perpetual sound: to nurture silence when I can, and when I can’t, to be more mindful of the natural sound of the world around me.

Perhaps the most famous instance of institutionalized “silence” is John Cage’s “4’ 33”,” a conceptual piece that he began working on in the late nineteen-forties. “4’ 33” ” is not silent, exactly, but is instead the sound of musicians in a room not playing their instruments—and the sound of a fidgeting audience, unsure of how to metabolize the musicians’ inaction. Since it was first performed, near Woodstock, New York, in 1952, “4’33” ” has confounded and occasionally titillated listeners, inspiring many (very good) volumes of scholarly analysis and meditations on the definition of music. No performance of the work is ever the same. Cage was frustrated by the mixed response that the piece received, which included heckles from the crowd. “There’s no such thing as silence,” Cage said, following the première. “What they thought was silence, because they didn’t know how to listen, was full of accidental sounds. You could hear the wind stirring outside during the first movement. During the second, raindrops began pattering the roof, and during the third the people themselves made all kinds of interesting sounds as they talked or walked out.”

Ultimately, there’s a difference between accidental silence and the deliberate playing of a silent record or a piece like “4’33”.” These projects do the simple yet profound work of formally containing a few minutes—of demarcating time and calling attention to it. I like their certainty, and the way they offer a kind of sanctioned time-out, a small but serious protest against abundance. Suddenly, all sound is music, and all life is art—a corny idea, maybe, but also a powerful way of humanizing the world.

Mexico’s Most Active Volcano Erupts, Spews Ash Cloud Nearly 20,000 Feet

Officials say threat levels are at a “yellow phase 2,” and are warning people to stay away from the volcano and its crater “due to the danger of falling ballistic fragments.”


Mexico’s Popocatépetl volcano burst to life on Thursday in a spectacular gush of lava and clouds of ash that hurled incandescent rock about 20,000 feet into the sky.

The dramatic explosion of the active stratovolcano, a little over 40 miles southeast of Mexico City, was captured on video by Mexico’s National Center for Disaster Prevention, CENAPRED.

The eruption of Mexico’s most active volcano, Popocatépetl, on Thursday was captured by civil defense officials.

webcamsdemexico YouTube

Officials say no one was hurt as a result of the eruption.

Still, CENAPRED has set the warning level at “yellow phase 2,” meaning there is no imminent danger. But the center is urging people not to get too close to the volcano or the crater, which is even more hazardous “due to the danger of falling ballistic fragments.”

A satellite recorded the explosion of Popocatépetl — a name that means “smoky mountain” in the indigenous Náhuatl language.

The satellite also “detected sulfur dioxide in the plume,” the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration wrote in a tweet.

The head of civil protection, David Leon Romero, said the hours following the eruption were mostly quiet, despite “268 exhalations” that were accompanied by water vapor, gas and light amounts of ash, according to El Universal.

John Evans ~ January 9, 2020 ~ A positive Life Force

Included a favorite shot (not my photo) of John and his wife Loie floating Desolation canyon in 1971. It is so much John . . . Powering the Sport Yak through the rough water .  Matt Wells


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Jeff Lowe photo

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full moon (this morning) ~

symbol of Buddha nature

in all inherent beings


Jerry and friends,

I had not heard about John passing until Thursday night.
I always think about John this time of year.  A few days ago was the 52nd anniversary of the day that he and Barry Corbet made the first ascent of Mount Tyree in Antarctica.  (This followed the first ascent of Vinson in December ’66).  Few can appreciate what a big deal climbing Tyree in 1967 was.  To this day there have only a handful of ascents.  And then there was the Hummingbird Ridge on Logan!  Everest International Expedition 1971, Nanda Devi and the Pamirs climbing exchange both of which Peter was a part of I think. 
John’s positive attitude, humility stay with me. 
Best to you all.  
Wally Berg

Two naturalists meet … Thank you Abuelo Wells for the inspiration

Wilson Bentley known for his microscopic snow  photography. And Hal Borland was a writer with interest in natural history – Borland was a favorite contributor to among other publications, the NYT and he wrote an article about Bentley’s obsessive passion in the 1971 January issue of Audubon.  Here it is for all you snowviewers.






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~~~ “Snowflake” Bentley information ~~~

Snoflake video


Trump Has Made Us All Stupid ~ NYT opinion/ed

The decline of discourse in the anti-Trump echo chamber.


Opinion Columnist

Credit…Eric Thayer for The New York Times

Donald Trump is impulse-driven, ignorant, narcissistic and intellectually dishonest. So you’d think that those of us in the anti-Trump camp would go out of our way to show we’re not like him — that we are judicious, informed, mature and reasonable.

But the events of the past week have shown that the anti-Trump echo chamber is becoming a mirror image of Trump himself — overwrought, uncalibrated and incapable of having an intelligent conversation about any complex policy problem.

For example, there’s a complex policy problem at the heart of this week’s Iran episode. Iran is not powerful because it has a strong economy or military. It is powerful because it sponsors militias across the Middle East, destabilizing regimes and spreading genocide and sectarian cleansing. Over the past few years those militias, orchestrated by Qassim Suleimani, have felt free to operate more in the open with greater destructive effect.

We’re not going to go in and destroy the militias. So how can we keep them in check so they don’t destabilize the region? That’s the hard problem — one that stymied past administrations.

In the Middle East, and wherever there are protracted conflicts, nations have a way to address this problem. They use violence as a form of communication. A nation trying to maintain order will assassinate a terrorism leader or destroy a terrorism facility. The attack says: “Hey, we know we’re in a long-term conflict, but let’s not let it get out of hand. That’s not in either of our interests.”

The attack is a way to seize control of the escalation process and set a boundary marker.

These sorts of operations have risks and rewards. A risk is that it won’t cease the escalation, just accelerate it. The radicals on the other side will get enraged and take to the streets. Their leaders will have to appease that rage.

A reward is that maybe you do halt the escalation. The other side implicitly says: “Message received. We’ll do some face-saving things to appease the streets, but we don’t want this to get out of hand, either.” Another reward is that you’ve managed to eliminate an effective terrorist like Soleimani. Talent doesn’t grow on trees.

The decision to undertake this sort of operation is a matter of weighing risk and reward. And after the Soleimani killing, you saw American security professionals talk in the language of balancing risk and reward. Stanley McChrystal, a retired general, and Michael Mullen, a retired admiral, thought it was worth the risk. Susan Rice, a former national security adviser, thought it wasn’t.


But in the anti-Trump echo chamber, that’s not how most people were thinking. Led by Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, they avoided the hard, complex problem of how to set boundaries around militias. Instead, they pontificated on the easy question not actually on the table: Should we have a massive invasion of Iran?


~~~  CONTINUE  ~~~