Dear Mr. President: Vote for computational science

Dear Mr. President: Vote for computational science

Summary: You've seen the movies. Scientists with Zeus-like powers in their secret labs using super powerful computers make discoveries that change the world...

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TOPICS: Apps
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zeus.jpgYou've seen the movies. Scientists with Zeus-like powers in their secret labs using super powerful computers make discoveries that change the world...for good or evil. Over decades and millennia, the future of society and the planet depend on scientific discoveries, enabled by current and future technology, especially high-performance computing. The cure for AIDS and other diseases, tapping into new, clean power sources, understanding and harnessing the dynamics of the universe, forecasting earthquakes and other complex problems are all dependent on utilizing advanced computational resources.

A recent assessment by the President’s Information Technology Advisory Committee (PITAC), entitled "Computational Science: Ensuring America’s Competitiveness,"  found that U.S. preeminence in science and engineering is compromised not just by the lack of focus on education in those domains, but also by a lack of collaboration and sharing within both academia and Federal R&D agencies. According to the PITAC report, "Current efforts are characterized by a short-term orientation, limited strategic planning, and low levels of cooperation among the participants. To address these deficiencies, the report recommends that the National Science and Technology Council  (NSTC) commission the National Academies to convene one or more task forces to develop and maintain a multidecade roadmap for computational science and the diverse fields that increasingly depend on it."  The report also recommends specific initiatives in three areas:

  • Create a new generation of well-engineered, scalable, easy-to-use software suitable for computational science that can reduce the complexity and time to solution for today’s challenging scientific applications and can create accurate models and simulations that answer new questions.
  • Design, prototype, and evaluate new hardware architectures that can deliver larger fractions of peak hardware performance on key applications.
  • Focus on sensor- and data-intensive computational science applications in light of the explosive growth of data.

The report warns that the U.S. is at a tipping point, "with generation-long consequences for scientific leadership, economic competitiveness, and national security if we fail to act with vision and commitment." Based on reports from PITAC, the General Accounting Office (GAO) and other governmental agencies, the U.S. isn't adequately addressing the threats of cybersecurity, the need for graduating more science and engineering majors and now creating a roadmap and shared goals for advanced computing initiatives. Other countries today are equally if not more ambitious today in seeking the answers to grand challenges, ranging from economic forecasting and astrophysics to computational fluid and plasma dynamics, as well as the less savory applications such as simulating the effects of weapons of mass destruction. While the PITAC recommendations are reasonable, they don't amount to much unless the administration and Congress act on them. It's just another political issue that has to be couched in terms of ceding leadership to another country or endangering the U.S. economy to get any attention. If the U.S. wants to attract more Einsteins in the making, then following the recommendation of PITAC regarding computational science is a good start. It's not just a U.S. welfare and stature issue--in the modern, connected, collaborative world, and with increased funding for computational science, the progress of science could be greatly accelerated globally.  

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  • "I love cornpoopers"

    That's why we have an agricultural subsidy
    pesky_z
  • open source is a cancer

    If you dont let people earn a living in a field, new generations no longer flock to that field.
    zzz1234567890
    • Oh, you mean outsourcing..

      or all those companies Microsoft has put out of business, or the CEOs that have embezzled millions, etc.

      Name one field that open source has done away. Name one company put out of business because of open source (that wasn't an open source company to begin with). Heck, name just one person that has lost their job because of open source.

      Sorry to burst your bubble, but sciences have been on the decline for a long time now - well before open source made the scene. Why would someone want to bust their behind through college just to realize that they will make half of what the person who cruised through and got an MBA will. I look back an realize that if I had joined my neighbor's building company after high-school, I would be making 10 times what I am now.

      Open source didn't kill sciences; sports and entertainment did.
      Patrick Jones
      • Screwed up Priorities.

        We are a screwed up society. I agree with the poster in that we reward brutality and comic stupidity with more money than any Scientific researcher gets. When a scientist works for a company and makes a great discovery, it becomes the property of the company and the reward is determined by the company. The patent for the discovery is usually sold to the company for a dollar or something like that, and the employee gets squat in comparison to the profit that the company makes. Most scientists cannot make discovries without the financial help of the large companies, and in a irony the companies can't make the discoveries without the talent of the scientists.
        Yet a football player and a basketball player can make more in one year than most scientists will in their lifetime. How freaking screwed up is that?!? When is the last time football saved more lives than penicillin, or gave us fantastic tools like computers or space travel?
        I as a person in the technology sciences am incredibly disheartened that we pay atheletes more than nobel prize winners. Then there are those that say that science should be done for the love of the job and the benefit of mankind, not the money. Last time I checked, that worked for sports too.
        We need to reward the thinkers and doers more than the beaters and the chasers or we will never succeed as a species. Yes, I say species. This is bigger than just the U.S. As a start though, we should be rewarding American scientists with big bonuses for discoveries to encourage people to pursue the sciences. Our whole reward system needs to be reversed, although I doubt it will ever happen.
        Zorched
    • Kid of like...

      ...the fact that you can turn on a faucet, or dip a bucket in a stream to get free water, has just killed the bottled water companies.....oh wait, people still pay big bucks for bottled water, despite the fact that you can get water for free.

      So....was there a (valid) point in your post?
      anonymous
    • LOL. What does open source have to do with offshoring?

      I agree entirely; I sure as hell won't be in IT after a couple of years or so. Given the patent stranglehold, the litigation industry is about to bloom a lot of pretty roses. Nice big plump green roses.

      Or the military. Until they cut more benefits; it offers a nice life and medical benefits... oh, until you get your leg or face blown off...

      But how does open source equate? Novell, Apple, Red Hat have taken peoples' free work, packaged it up, and sold it at ludicrous prices and also offer grossly overpriced training and certification courses. Doesn't sound like open source is crippling anybody - except for the volunteers who never anticipated corporations HIJACKING the free works for their own bloated profits.
      HypnoToad
  • "Intelligent Design" is the answer

    Just have the committee alter its report to say that the requested advances in computational science will prove "Intelligent Design" theory of the creation of the universe. Then the administration will back it.
    WaistingMyTime
    • Works for evolution

      Just tell people that there is "overwhelming evidence", show them a gorilla skull and say it is "cro-magnon man", and they will buy it despite the many fallacies and hoaxes.

      Or how about telling them that stem-cell research WILL provide cures for disease, and bingo, instant acceptance of that theory also.

      How truly unscientific to dismiss the "theory" of intelligent design, while accepting the theory of evolution as fact. The slang term "whack" comes to mind.
      anonymous
      • Evolution vs. Intelligent design

        Hi, Spoon Jabber.

        This is a slightly off-topic tangent to computing, but I guess I'll take a stab at it. :)

        First, let me say that I respect anyone's religious beliefs. I'm an atheist, but none of what I'm about to say should be taken to mean I know for a fact that no God exists. I don't believe in a God, but I also didn't believe that the CD format would ever take off. ;)



        Evolution and intelligent design are [i]not[/i] on the same level, scientifically. First, let's deal with the question of "theory". Evolution is not a theory, in the sense most non-scientists understand that word. To quote Scientific American:

        [i]Many people learned in elementary school that a theory falls in the middle of a hierarchy of certainty--above a mere hypothesis but below a law. Scientists do not use the terms that way, however. According to the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), a scientific theory is "a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world that can incorporate facts, laws, inferences, and tested hypotheses." No amount of validation changes a theory into a law, which is a descriptive generalization about nature. So when scientists talk about the theory of evolution--or the atomic theory or the theory of relativity, for that matter--they are not expressing reservations about its truth.[/i]

        (http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?articleID=000D4FEC-7D5B-1D07-8E49809EC588EEDF&sc=I100322)

        I point this out because for some people, calling evolution a "theory" leads to the belief that the jury's still out. That's not what the word means, in this context.

        The basic mechanisms of evolution, natural selection and gene inheritance, have been demonstrated experimentally and are put to practical use every day in drug development. (I happen to work in the pharma industry.) By contrast, intelligent design theory is based not on experiment, but on, at best, [i]lack[/i] of evidence. Essentially, intelligent design says, "Well, life couldn't have evolved, so it must have been intelligently designed." Not only is the supposition that life couldn't have evolved dubious on its face, but even if evolution [i]was[/i] an incorrect model, it doesn't automatically suggest intelligent design.

        My main objection to intelligent design theory is not that it's a religious theory. (Strictly speaking, you can have an intelligent design model where aliens plant life on Earth, not requiring a supernatural force at all.) My main objection is that intelligent design is a cop-out, because it throws the natural processes we know completely out the window, and substitutes an unknown, unknowable creative force that science can't understand or examine. And it does it for no good reason.
        bhartman36
        • Supposition

          The theory of evolution, and it is still a theory, starts with the assumtion that there is no God. It further assumes that the earth is millions of years old. AAMOF, the assumed timeline is essential to the theory, without the millions of years the thory falls apart.

          As I'm sure you are aware, carbon dating has been proven to be very inaccurate, and without any proof of the age of things, we are back to the assumption of millions of years.

          As far as [i]...The basic mechanisms of evolution, natural selection and gene inheritance, have been demonstrated experimentally...[/i], human manipulation to achieve the desired outcome is hardly proof of evolution, and in fact it would seem to disprove the whole timeline thing, as this manipulation was done in a very short period.

          In Fact, nearly every new "discovery" in the field of evolution, demands a complete rewrite of the timeline, or even a rethinking of how life started on earth, at least according to the scientists who have made the discoveries.

          Now for "proof" of the theory of Intelligent design, the word tells us that there are at least three types of proof of God's existence.

          One is creation, one can just look around and realize the immensity of the universe and the perfect balance and order, and the fact that the conditions for life are perfect on earth, and no where else (that we know of for sure) and one could indeed intelligently conclude that it was designed.

          Two is the fact that, even from early childhood, we have a conscience that tells us the difference between wrong and right, in our hearts if you will.

          Three is the fact, revealed through the historic record and in our hearts, that Jesus Christ existed and claimed to be the son of God (I believe he was). Only two possibilities there, either he was who he said he was, or he was a liar. I believe the former.

          So I guess that in both instances, evolution and belief in God, it takes some faith, as we can't reach the same conclusions based on looking at the same "evidence". But I appreciate most points of view, especially when it is presented as you have done here. :)
          anonymous
          • Evolution

            Hi, Spoon Jammer.

            You said:

            [i]The theory of evolution, and it is still a theory,[/i]

            Yes, it is a theory, but again, examine how scientists [b]use[/b] the word "theory". We speak of "gravitational theory", but, as I'm sure you're aware, gravity has been demonstrated repeatedly.

            Now, to go on...

            [i]starts with the assumtion that there is no God.[/i]

            Actually, it doesn't. It starts with the assumption that life can be explained without [i]reliance[/i] on the concept of God (or any supernatural power, for that matter). Evolution does not, in any way, exclude the idea of God. Indeed, evolution can be seen as an instrument of God - a mechanism of divine creation. What evolution excludes is the idea that life was created out of nothing.

            You further state:

            [i]It further assumes that the earth is millions of years old. AAMOF, the assumed timeline is essential to the theory, without the millions of years the thory falls apart. As I'm sure you are aware, carbon dating has been proven to be very inaccurate, and without any proof of the age of things, we are back to the assumption of millions of years.[/i]

            Carbon dating is not the only form of radiometric dating. In fact, carbon dating is [i]useless[/i] in any circumstance in which you're not dealing with organic material. This is particularly true in the case of dinosaur remains, which are usally stone. Other materials, such as Samarium-147, are therefore more useful for dating non-organic materials. If someone tried to disprove evolution by refuting Carbon-14 dating, they were, to put it kindly, pulling the wool over your eyes.

            You further state:

            [i]human manipulation to achieve the desired outcome is hardly proof of evolution, and in fact it would seem to disprove the whole timeline thing, as this manipulation was done in a very short period.[/i]

            Actually, you don't need human intervention (other than observation itself) to see gene inheritance and natural selection. Scientists study organisms with very short lifecycles (such as fruitflies, bacteria, and other lifeforms) that reproduce rapidly, have very simple gene sequences, and therefore evolve relatively quickly. Not only that, but speciation is observed in the wild, where new species of animals arise from older populations.

            As I said before, I work in the pharma industry, and you can see evolution and natural selection there, too. Organisms develop resistance to drugs, and new drugs need to be developed. (This is becoming a particular problem with tuberculosis.)

            You continue:

            [i]In Fact, nearly every new "discovery" in the field of evolution, demands a complete rewrite of the timeline, or even a rethinking of how life started on earth, at least according to the scientists who have made the discoveries.[/i]

            Actually, the fields most discoveries concerning evolution are made in are archaeology and bioogical chemistry. Evolution isn't a field of study itself, but rather, is part of many different disciplines (archaeology, biology, chemistry, etc.). These different disciplines have all provided evidence consistent with evolution. That's not to say that everyone agrees on the particulars. Part of what marks a scientific theory is the constant questioning, experimentation, and testing of it. This inquiry has lead different scientists to come up with different theories about how evolution progressed (rather than how it works). For example, it was once commonly thought that Neanderthals were ancestors of homo sapiens. The genetic evidence now is pointing to Neanderthals being a dead-end branch on the evolutionary tree. How evolution progressed is frequently questioned, but [i]that[/i] evolution happened is not, because that is the explanation that makes the most sense, given the totality of the evidence.

            The reason that Creationism is not a science, by contrast, is that it is not subject to constant review, study, and experimentation. Creationism starts with a conclusion: The world was created the way the Bible says it was, and so was Man. To pull this off, you have to ignore evidence that's right in front of you (such as the speed of light, rock and soil erosion, the study of other planets, archaeology).

            I'm glad you're enjoying the conversation as I am. :)
            bhartman36
          • Thanks, but...

            [i]..."gravitational theory"...[/i]

            In the text books that were used when I went to school, it was referred to as the law of gravity, as it pertains to a definite force that can be measured, and the only theory part is of course what causes it. Einstein even had differing theories as to the actual explanation of the force, but it is an undeniable force.

            [i]Evolution does not, in any way, exclude the idea of God...[/i]

            The word of God tells us that man was created, in the form that we are now. So if you believe evolution, you would have to presume that at least the word is wrong. It is rare that someone who believes in evolution would also believe in God, in my experience. So it would seem to me that, in some ways, evolution does exclude the idea of God, since they are contradictory.

            [i]Other materials, such as Samarium-147...[/i]

            While I am not very familiar with this particular isotope, again you are relying on the "half-life" of this isotope, and as with carbon dating, assumes a constant atmospheric condition in measuring its decay. I am assuming that you must be referring to the naturally occuring isotopes and not the ones created by fission (or fusion?). If you mean the naturally occurring types, are there some that have half lives more than a few years? Some/one of the man made type/s are believed to have a half life of 100,000 yrs, yet they have to come into existance at some point as "new", so it's not inconceivable that it is created and therefore seemingly can be "rejuvinated" or added to or taken from, depending on atmospheric conditions.

            [i]If someone tried to disprove evolution by refuting Carbon-14 dating, they were, to put it kindly, pulling the wool over your eyes.[/i]

            I meant that it was the only method used for many years to support evolution, and coincidentally when it was proven innacurate, another method had to be used, which basically uses the same concept of half life. Why is the new technique any more accurate or dependable than the old?

            [i]Scientists study organisms with very short lifecycles (such as fruitflies, bacteria, and other lifeforms)[/i]

            I am familiar with the fruit fly experiments, and as I recall there were no apparent physical mutations (maybe slight color differences, not necessarily attributable to DNA changes) but claimed genetic differences (maybe the DNA was different). In other words, none of the flys had any hint of more limbs or any extra eyes or more brainpower etc. Animals/humans can develope tolerances to drugs without their DNA being altered, right?

            Our DNA is not that much different than that of a banana, but we are obviously tremendously different.

            [i]To pull this off, you have to ignore evidence that's right in front of you (such as the speed of light, rock and soil erosion, the study of other planets, archaeology).[/i]

            Do we know that the speed of light has always been a constant? We can only assume that is has always been constant. I can look at the same evidence and come to different conclusions.


            Yes I do enjoy being able to have a discussion, with differing opinions, and not lose our cool.....which isn't a popular thing these days. I have already learned alot just from our discussions, and hope you can answer some of my questions or opine on them. :)
            anonymous
          • Some clarifications

            Hi, Spoon Jabber.

            You said:

            [i]In the text books that were used when I went to school, it was referred to as the law of gravity, as it pertains to a definite force that can be measured, and the only theory part is of course what causes it. Einstein even had differing theories as to the actual explanation of the force, but it is an undeniable force.[/i]

            Gravity's cause is not the only thing being studied. Also under consideration is how gravity behaves on very large or very small scales (say, galaxies vs. strings). In a sense, this is about what causes it, but in another sense, it's about how it works.

            Here's a definition of gravitationl theory from thefreedictionary.com:

            http://www.thefreedictionary.com/theory%20of%20gravitation

            "the theory that any two particles of matter attract one another with a force directly proportional to the product of their masses and inversely proportional to the square of the distance between them"

            So what you see here is that, although gravity itself exists and can be measured and proven, there's still room for a "theory of gravity", in the sense that people study how gravity works. That's the same sense that is meant by the "theory of evolution".

            To use another analogy from cosmology: You might study "black hole theory". The fact that you call it a theory doesn't mean that black holes themselves are in doubt (although they were until they were observed directly). The theoretical part is how the black hole is formed, or what happens inside it, etc.

            As far as the radio isotopes go, the half-life of Samarium-147 (if I'm reading this chart right) is 106 billion years:

            http://pubs.usgs.gov/gip/geotime/radiometric.html

            As far as the atmospheric pressure goes, radioactive decay is not dependent on atmospheric pressure. Radioactive decay is based on quantum mechanics. Also, you need to realize that dating methods are not applied in isolation. That is, you can cross-check one dating method with another. (Tree rings, for example, are used to corroborate carbon-14 dating.)

            I found this on http://www.skeptictank.org/hs/matson-v.htm :

            (You might not like the site, but the citations are what I'm pointing to here.)

            "Evidence of past history of C-14 concentration in the atmosphere is now available through the past 22,000 years, using ages of lake sediments in which organic carbon compounds are preserved. Reporting before a 1976 conference on past climates, Professor Minze Stuiver of the University of Washington found that magnetic ages of the lake sediments remained within 500 years of the radiocarbon ages throughout the entire period. He reported that the concentration of C-14 in the atmosphere during that long interval did not vary by more than 10 percent (Stuiver, 1976, p. 835).

            Thus, the available evidence is sufficient to validate the radiocarbon method of age determination with an error of about 10 percent for twice as long a period as the creation scenario calls for. (Strahler, 1987, p.157)"

            As far as the speed of light goes, we know experientially that it [i]must[/i] be a constant. If it wasn't a constant, we would be able to observe subtle changes over time in the speed of regular events (the rotation of quasars, for one). Also, we know that special relativity dictates that the speed of light is a constant that is independent of any frame of reference. Einstein's theory of relativity has been proven correct many, many times. (If Einstein was wrong about relativity, August 9, 1945 would've just been a typical sunny day in Hiroshima.) In short, many of the things we rely on today only work if the speed of light is a fundamental property of our universe, independent of time (which is dependent on the speed of light in the first place).

            In regards to the fruitfly experiments: Actually, there have been severe mutations observed in fruitflies by manipulating their genes. Turn a specific gene "off" or "on", and you end up with legs coming out of the fruitfly's eyes. In nature, we see obvious mutations wreaking havoc on physical structures. (I was born with spina bifida, a condition where my spine was exposed at birth, with all kinds of nerve damage attendant to that.) Knowing that these severe mutations can occur, and be passed on, one can see how severe changes can happen from slight differences in DNA.

            As far as bananas vs. humans go, a lot has to do with [i]what[/i] genes are changed, rather than how many. If you slightly change the nucleotide sequence on a single chromosome, you alter the protein that that gene codes for. This might prevent the protein from being produced, or cause the protein to be misshapen, and have a different effect than the original protein had. If I recall correctly, there's only something like 2% difference between us and yeast. My point here is that you don't need vast amounts of variation to get very different organisms.

            Now, here's how the drug resistance thing works (to the best of my understanding): A bacteria infects a host and multiplies, causing havoc on that host's immune system. The host produces antibodies. If the antibodies are successful in attacking the bacteria, the bacteria is destroyed. If not, the bacteria continues to reproduce. As this reproduction takes place, mutation occurs. Most of this mutation is meaningless, but (potentially) some of it results in bacteria that are resistant to the antibodies. It is these resistant bacteria which turn into the drug-resistant strains that are begining to plague us now.

            Of course, the opposite also applies: sometimes, a host might produce mutated antibodies that are resistant to a bacteria, where no such resistance exists in other hosts. (There are some people, for example, who seem to be resistant to the HIV virus.)

            So strictly speaking, the host's cells aren't altered, so to speak. They remain the same. They either have the resistance, or they don't. (Of course, this resistance can be provoked by immunization, but that's another case we won't deal with right now.) The attacking infection, on the other hand, mutates as it reproduces, and that's where the resistance (guided by natural selection) comes in.

            You can e-mail me at bhartman24 at comcast dot net to continue this. I'm not sure we should be crowding a tech board with this discussion, but I am enjoying it. :)
            bhartman36
          • Excellent

            A lot to digest there, but I will send an email to you shortly, thank you. :)
            anonymous
  • You're looking to THIS president

    For leadership on EDUCATION? This is a man who is proud to be illiterate- publically claiming that he doesn't read. He doesn't have any clue about what's going on in the real world- he can't even lead an army to win in Iraq, let alone know what's going on with technology. And worse yet, he's typical of this whole society in decline- the throwaway generation.
    seebert@...
    • I'd slap you,

      but $hit splatters!
      anonymous
      • Bush won't Get It on Computational Science

        I agree with the first reply that this president won't see the big picture on the priority to advance computational science in the US. He has no grasp of past history or the forces [and choices] that shape the future destiny of civilizations and individual nations.

        The quagmire of Iraq is a clear indication that he believes he can make something happen just because 'he' thinks it's the right thing to do and does not require careful thought on his part. The long term impacts of insufficient computational science investments also requires careful thought and attention this President can't deliver.
        eddie.jones@...
        • Riiiiiight

          Yeah....quagmire....that's it. I have noticed that as we turn control over to the Iraqis, more Iraqis are dying and less Americans, as we have already begun to bring troops back home......hey, just like the plan that the pres laid out. I guess that you missed that though.

          But I do admire your mind reading, and fortune telling skills.....well, I should say that I would admire them if they turned out to be correct. (not correct so far)

          Could you please let us know how you know what Bush is thinking? Do you use tarot cards or what?
          anonymous
          • Reply to Riiiiight

            When the facts finally come in and quit being obscured and 'doctored' by this administration I am sure the American people will see that this whole Iraq war had nothing to do with 'terrorism'.

            It was the first 'resource' war of the 21st Century and not the liberation of an oppressed nation. I don't see us sending 'liberation' forces to the Sudan or other troubled areas in Africa. They don't sit on a 'gold mine' of oil. You can pretend all day that this administration is working for noble causes of liberty. That's plain hog wash and Republican party 'double-speak'.
            eddie.jones@...
          • Some More Facts

            Hi, pejones.

            [i]When the facts finally come in and quit being obscured and 'doctored' by this administration I am sure the American people will see that this whole Iraq war had nothing to do with 'terrorism'.[/i]

            What "facts" are you talking about here? I would argue that many of the facts that have come out are abyssmally bad for the administration already, so to say that they were "doctored" is absurd. Think about it: What's the first thing you'd do, if you were trying to falsely sell a war that everyone keeps claiming was solely about WMD? Well, the first thing [i]I'd[/i] do is to plant some WMD. Sounds reasonable, doesn't it? So, if we go by any logical standard, it seems pretty ridiculous to say the information coming out of Iraq now was somehow doctored. Why even [i]report[/i] casualties of U.S. forces, if that's the goal? You could easily make the case that reporting such casualties is counter-productive and even dangerous for the troops in the field. The truth is, it hasn't been possible to scam this kind of information since the widespread adoption of the Internet, because there are too many sources of information to go to. They could never pull off the kind of obfuscation you're talking about.

            Incidentally, the war [i]wasn't[/i] just about terrorism (even though the prior administration's planned indictment of bin Laden mentioned Iraq:

            http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/004/274fwxli.asp?pg=2)

            or WMD, or liberation. The war was about ousting a leader who was a destructive, divisive beligerent force in the region, who wouldn't abide by the ceasefire of the Gulf War. He needed to get taken out for that reason. The democratization of the region (to the extent that it's already happened and the extent that it will happen once they get a constitution together in August) is a strategic benefit, but it's not the only one.

            You further state:

            [i]I don't see us sending 'liberation' forces to the Sudan or other troubled areas in Africa. They don't sit on a 'gold mine' of oil.[/i]

            Bush has already declared what's going on to be genocide

            (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/06/01/AR2005060101725.html)

            and we are providing economic and logistical assistance. However, not only have we not been asked by the African nations to intervene militarily in the Sudan, but we've been specifically told [i]not[/i] to intervene, because the African Union wants to handle the situation itself.

            Quoting from the same article:

            [i]The United Nations and other groups have accused Sudan's government of arming Arab militiamen known as the Janjaweed to bomb villages and crush the rebels. But Mbeki said: "It's critically important that the African continent should deal with these conflict situations on the continent. And that includes Darfur. And therefore, indeed, you will notice that we have not asked for anybody outside of the African continent to deploy troops in Darfur. It's an African responsibility, and we can do it."[/i]

            Incidentally, if you look up the natural resources of Sudan

            (http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/fields/2111.html)

            Here's what you find:

            "petroleum; small reserves of iron ore, copper, chromium ore, zinc, tungsten, mica, silver, gold, hydropower"

            Please note what resource is listed first.

            As a matter of fact, it's estimated that the Sudan produces 500,000 barrels of oil a day.
            bhartman36