Archive for the ‘WMDs’ Category
“Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player, that struts and frets his hour upon the stage, and then is heard no more; it is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” —William Shakespeare
It’s been two weeks since the Boston bombing. I’ve never heard so much bullshit in my life. Or more accurately, I’ve never heard so much pontificating crap regarding such a minor event. My God, one would think another Pearl Harbor or 9/11 happened from all the calls from on high for vengeance and change. Perspective people, two disaffected losers set off some bombs. Something that has happened multiple times in US history. Then, sanity prevailed, and life went on while the authorities did their job and hunted down the perpetrators. Except this time, it’s the crime of the century, and both the immediate response and the aftermath have been wildly out of proportion. The Mayor of New York has even suggested changing the Constitution, or at least our interpretation of it, in response to this. Good job freakazoids, now our real enemies know how to spook us; a few backpack bombs and we will run around like chickens with their heads cut off.
In other words, we’ve so obsessed on preventing another 9/11 that our response to this bombing was wildly out of proportion. 9,000 troops deployed to hunt down a teenager? A whole city placed under unconstitutional martial law? American citizens treated like an occupied country? Because of one wounded teenager? This was insane. You’d have thought Chuck Norris was loose with a neutron bomb for God’s sake. And the thing that really shows how absurd this all was, the bomber wasn’t caught until after people were let out of their homes and a citizen spotted him. The whole goddamn shutdown of the city, and the massive cost that entailed, was completely utterly unnecessary. And yet people cheer, so caught up in the Hollywood style dark comedy that the War on Terror has become.
I have bad news people. We can’t prevent all terrorist attacks, assuming this is even terrorism, which is a stretch at this point. Welcome to reality. I mean, after 9/11 we spent trillions of dollars on foreign wars and creating the greatest expansion of federal government ever, so called Homeland Security. And we passed vast and sweeping laws allowing government unprecedented powers to snoop in the name of security. And with all this staggering expense, an expense that rivals our spending in World War Two, we still got “attacked.” And the knee-jerk response from government and pundits is “We need more security!” No, we need more sanity. We should analyze the risks facing America like adults, and not be panicked into doubling down on a strategy that not only has failed, a strategy that is making terrorism more likely, not less.
It’s already clear that it aint going to happen, self-reflection and debate is no longer part of the American character. Americans are living in a Dickian Hollywood movie now, a scary world where imaginary Hitlers infest every corner of the globe and must be fought with ever more blood and sacrifice. The Republic has failed.
(The above image is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. It’s not being used for profit and it is central to illustrating the post. Tomorrow, ten specific ways our response to Boston was exactly what our enemies wanted.)
Another week gone by. Two more days to the last and final debate between Romney and Obama. Both sides are pulling out all the stops. I’m more bored by the day. What’s this, the tenth election in a row billed as “the most important election ever?” I don’t think so. Might be the most screwed up election ever. Now that “both sides” have convinced their base that the only thing that matters is their narrow ideological stand on a handful of of social issues, there is zero chance that any of the real issues facing this country will be addressed. Climate change? What’s that? Our endless overseas wars? Don’t go there. Our every expanding security state? Fracking? GMOs? Forget about it. Nope, just legions of people who thinking they are saving babies or saving women by their respective vote for a dyed-in-the-wool agent of the 1%. Like in the previous election, I’m hoping that the Republican wins, because it might breath new life into the antiwar left, which Obama has effectively driven into a lobotomized coma. Yes, Obama has succeeded where Nixon and his generation only dreamed, he destroyed the antiwar movement. In any event, a few random notes on recent events, in no particular order:
A huge US led anti-mine drill in the Persian Gulf was a disaster. It was called the single largest naval drill in history, with more than 30 nations participating. Twenty nine simulated mines had been planted, the whole point of the exercise was to demonstrate the West’s effectiveness to find mines and keep the Straight of Hormuz open. Reportedly the drill was an abject failure, with less than half of the simulated mines being found. Not exactly sure what this signifies. I can’t see why the US would lie about something like this, maybe they want to encourage the Iranians to do something rash? Seems like sowing international doubt about our ability to keep the straight open wouldn’t be worth the damage it would do to the US’s credibility and efforts to prevent diplomacy with Iran. It’s certainly possible that we’re just that bad, a huge amount of military spending the past few decades has been about enriching the arms manufacturers, with limited attention paid to whether equipment will actually work under real world conditions. Who knows, curious though.
An interesting poll was just taken in Egypt. Apparently there is a trend towards support for Iran and Egypt acquiring nuclear weapons. And the military is still the most trusted institution in the country. Interesting for a number of reasons. I think it’s a good thing that Egyptians are turning away from the USA and the west and more interested in hewing their own path. It’s painfully clear at this point that the USA doesn’t give as rat’s a** about the people of the Middle East, and is only trying to maintain western and Israeli hegemony in the region. And it’s also painfully clear that the nuclear powers, declared and undeclared (cough Israel cough) have no intention of giving up nuclear weapons and are perfectly happy to have the current situation perpetuated forever. It was also interesting some of the reaction to the poll in the west. They saw it as a sign of the rise of extremism in Egypt. Yerp, people deciding they know what’s best for their countries and not wanting to be a satrap of the USA is extremism. The US and Israel keep reaping what they sow, and there seems like no end in sight.
Scientists have decided to send a paddle boat into space. Those crazy scientists, what will they think of next? OK, not space exactly, they want to send a paddle boat to Titan, a moon of Saturn. It’s actually a good idea, it will get to sample both the lakes and the atmosphere of Titan, and move around a bit to get more varied data. The plan is for it to last for six months to a year. The last Titan lander lasted 90 minutes. Considering it’s nearly 300F below zero that’s a tall order. I’m assuming it will be nuclear powered. In other space news someone stitched together the above panorama from shots taken by the new Curiosity rover on Mars. I love pics like this, really shows it as the surface of a planet; add a few juniper bushes and it could have been taken in Nevada.
I have a number of dedicated posts I have been chipping away on. Hopefully I will get some of them out in the next week. Another week where I have a lot of work. that’s good, the wolves have been pushed back out the door at least. I hope everyone had a good weekend!
(The above image is public Domain under US copyright law. Credit and copyright: NASA. For the readers of coarser tastes so to speak, a stone penis was also recently discovered on Mars. I don’t think it’s going to give the Face on Mars a run for its money.)
There’s been a developments in Iran, Syria, and Afghanistan, so another extemporaneous post on this scary and developing situation. Iran first. The UN has been asking to look at a military base where it is suspected that Iran may have been testing components for a nuclear weapon. This has been an issue for at least six months or so. The inspectors spent a few days cooling their heels, and are now on their way home. Much sabre rattling and threats from the USA ad Israel, with Iran not backing down in its own stead, pointing out that the have the right under international law to launch a preemptive attack at the forces arrayed around Iran if they think an attack is imminent.
This is not good, but it’s not what it seems. The military site isn’t a nuclear site, and Iran is within their rights to refuse access to it. Especially since the US has been known to place spies in UN inspection teams, and considering that the “evidence” claiming this base has been used for nuclear testing isn’t exactly iron clad. Look at it this way, would you let your sworn enemy to send their finest James Bond type guy into your most top secret military base on the basis of what you know to be faked evidence? The damage done by something like that could be incalculable, they are damned if they do and damned if they don’t. They’ve wisely chosen the known diplomatic damage by refusing entry, instead of the unknown damage a spy could cause.
Does this make an attack on Iran more likely? Yes, yes it does. I still think it’s a crazy idea, but Germany declaring war on France and England in World War One was a crazy idea, and they did it anywise. Add whatever historical examples of stupid wars one wants, there are a lot of them when it comes right down to it. Lastly on Iran, note that this military base is NOT a nuclear facility, yet somehow the UN is demanding to see it? Iran’s nuclear fuel supply and enrichment facilities are carefully monitored, this is another example of the USA making demands that are above and beyond Iran’s treaty obligations. (The UN is now just an organization for rubber stamping pretty much whatever the USA wants.)
Sigh. Moving right along, anti-US riots and protests in Afghanistan, several dead. These were triggered by locals discovering charred copies of the Koran dumped in a local dump by US forces. Two points here, the first being that while the burned Korans triggered these protests and riots, they’re a symptom of deep anger and dissatisfaction at the foreign presence in their country. Secondly, how the hell did this happen? Our forces are unaware that if they were going to burn copies of the Koran, they shouldn’t let the locals know about it? Talk about a PR bonanza for the Taliban. Major facepalm. And in Syria, two western reporters were killed. That will certainly spur more calls for the west to “do something” in Syria.
Not a good morning for news out of the Middle East. As a capstone to all this madness, US proxy forces in Somalia have captured a major town. Yes, decades after our humanitarian adventure in Somalia ended in Black Hawk Down, we are still intervening and Somalia is still a bloody mess. That’s because humanitarian intervention really means invasion, meddling, and often occupation. And oddly enough, people tend to resent outside powers fucking up their country, that’s because it’s their country, something the west has forgotten under the all encompassing Christian religion known as cultural imperialism.
Sigh. Tomorrow I will get back to the GOP’s War on Women, another fine example of Christianity’s dark side.
(The above image is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. It’s a very low resolution copy of the original poster, it’s not being used for profit. Credit: Advertisement from the 1970s by American nuclear-power companies. It’s used to show that times have changed, and that Iran’s reasons for building nuclear power plants are as good as they were then. Of course then they were a US lackey, today they are one of the world’s few remaining sovereign states.)
Today is the 65th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima in World War Two. And for the first time, the USA sent a representative to the ceremony at the site. Note however that the USA is not offering an apology for the nuclear attacks on Japan. Predictably there are those on the right outraged by even this minor gesture of sympathy and understanding. Me, I don’t think it means much one way or the other. It’s not like the USA is going to give up its nuclear arsenal, and Obama’s comments about a nuclear free world are as believable as any of Obama’s liberal remarks. IE, if there’s any liberals who still believe them, then some liberals are as stupid as arch conservatives love to go on about. In my case, I’ve noticed that stupidity is completely without ideological trimmings, and can be found anywhere among any group of people.
In any event, the nuclear attacks on Japan are a wonderful example of poor logic, propaganda, and outright lies. For one thing, they didn’t “end the war.” The war was already over, it was just a matter of how and when Japan would surrender. The bombings didn’t save any lives, American or otherwise, they killed huge numbers of people, the vast majority of who were innocent civilians. The bombings served little to no military purpose, neither town was a major military target. In fact the bombings were completely opposed by the leaders of the US military at the time, since they were indeed war crimes under the law at the time. The decision to drop the bombs was a purely political one made by Truman and his cabinet. Yes, it takes a politician to justify blowing up a city with a nuclear weapon.
August was also the month that World War One started. A war that everyone involved in confidently thought would be over by Christmas. A war that ended up being one of the bloodiest wars in history. A war that destroyed three great empires, redrew the map of the world, and set in motion events that are still killing people to this very day. To put it mildly, World War One had so many wide ranging, completely unexpected, and disastrous results … that it’s hard to imagine why anyone would ever risk such a thing again. And to humanity’s credit, World War One did usher in an era where politicians at least had to pay lip service to the idea that major wars should be avoided if possible. Hence the League of Nations, the UN, and a host of international treaties designed to minimize the chances of “World War Three” breaking out.
Sadly however the lessons of the twentieth century seem to be fading rapidly into history, and the politicians of today are more and more practising the kinds of brinkmanship and foreign adventures that could lead to wider war. People’s memories are short, it only takes a few decades for the memories of war to fade. For example, after the US Civil War, the USA actually stayed out of wars for decades. Yes, it was the only prolonged period of peace in USA history. By the 1890s though it was all over, and the USA plunged into a century of war and intervention that is still going strong today. Hell, we are in a state of permanent war it seems these days, so much for the peace movement of the sixties and seventies. Where have all the hippies gone?
And this August, there is a chance of a larger war breaking out … an interesting link left by a previously unknown commenter bears some consideration. Basically it points out that with a US election coming up in November, and a new US intelligence report due on Iran’s nuclear capabilities in September … in August Israel might attack Iran. The thinking being that so close to the election American politicians would feel they have no choice but to back Israel 100%, and with the intelligence report almost certain to say “Well, Iran seems to have stopped trying to make nuclear weapons in 2003,” Israel might as well strike while the iron is hot.
Sigh. You know, an Israeli attack on Iran would be really annoying. The price of gas would double overnight. And that’s the absolute minimum bad news an Israeli attack on Iran would engender.There are a number of other extremely unpleasant possibilities that could result from an Israeli attack on Iran. One of which is the destruction of Israel for example. Hell, the collapse and break up of the American Empire is a possibility. I’m sure some will say both of these outcomes are “impossible.” Yeah, and if in 1914 someone claimed that the war would result in the destruction of the Austrian, Russian, and Ottoman Empire, they would have been ridiculed as well.
So, August, a good month to prepare for the worst. I was thinking of making up an on line calculator people could use to predict when and where war is going to break out, but it’s a project that I don’t have the time for. Maybe I’ll make up a post, outline my proposal, and solicit donations; then I could find time for it. In any event, if I had such a calculator, the “Israel attacks Iran” percentage would be way up there now.
Have a great weekend everyone.
(The above image is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. It’s not being used for profit, is central to illustrating the post, and is arguably an historically important image. And I searched diligently for the copyright owner to no avail. It’s a picture of the Nagasaki Medical College Hospital, about 2,300 feet (700 meters) southwest of the Nagasaki bomb’s ground zero. The wrecked machines are from the Mitsubishi Shipyard. I chose it because in was one of the few colour images I could find of the aftermath of Nagasaki, the “forgotten bomb.” I just wanted to emphasize how real nuclear weapons are and the damage they can do, and point out that starting a war is how nuclear weapons will likely end up getting used again. I rest my case.)
Well, a random roundup of current events. It gets stranger every day. I mean, just look at one recent story … a guy gets caught smoking in an aeroplane bathroom … and not only do jets get scrambled, the president is notified? I don’t know what’s more absurd about this situation … the fact that an air marshal couldn’t use common sense … or that the hysterical over-reaction to the incident is basically condoned by both the public and the media.
Nuclear reduction, Yes, Obama has cut a deal with the Russians to cut our mutual nuclear arsenals. This is basically a PR stunt combined with an effort to put more pressure on North Korea and Iran, since there is little of actual substance in the agreement. The thing that’s hysterical about this is how the Republicans are reacting to it. They are screaming the usual nonsense about how this is making us “less secure.” Yeah, right, some future US president sees the need to use nuclear weapons … but he’s going to refuse to do so because of something Obama said years ago? Or some rogue nation decides to launch some dastardly attack on us … because they know know we won’t hit them back becasue of something Obama said? Give me a break. It’s painfully clear now that the modern Republican party’s only agenda is disagreeing with whatever Obama says or does. Yeah, that makes them a really relevant party. And shows just how low political “discourse” has sunk to in the USA.
Then there’s the collateral murder video. Again I’m horrified on at least two levels. I’m horrified once again that this is what our military does overseas. And I’m horrified that so many American’s will either ignore this, rationalize this, or be shocked by this. In Hollywood land and the mouths of our politicians, our military consists of heroes fighting for our freedom and fighting to make the world a better place. In reality land, the USA has simply assumed Britain’s colonial mantle, and our armies are fighting to make the world’s resources available to western corporate exploitation. And routinely committing atrocities in the process. Jesus wept.
On the domestic side, despite all the hoopla about the “improving” economy, the American economy is a hollow shell based on funny money. So sooner or later it’s all going to come crashing down, and we will no longer be able to afford mind-numbingly expensive colonial adventures. Which sort of leads to an interesting observation, how is it that the same people who have no problem with us spending staggering sums of money allegedly helping out the people of Afghanistan and Iraq … totally freak out about the possibility of their tax dollars being used to help sick Americans?
In further news on the international front, Israel seems more determined than ever to isolate itself and become a pariah state like apartheid South Africa. Yes, American tax dollars (not to mention American UN vetoes) at work once again to keep Israel’s dream of ethnic cleansing all of Palestine of the troublesome Palestinians alive.
Heck, while we are on depressing topics, how about the drug wars in Mexico? I’d say I don’t even know where to start on this one, but I do. Start with this article. It at least gives some history and context to a horrible situation. The only thing I would add is that this horrible mess is funded entirely with US drug money and the weapons are virtually all from America as well. This is what prohibition and a culture of gun love has wrought.
I guess the overarching theme I’ve wandered into here is that America has created horrible problems overseas almost entirely due to domestic politics, lobbying, and corporate corruption on a breathtaking scale. On the one hand it can’t last, on the other hand people have been predicting the collapse of the American economy and our overseas empire since at least the eighties. Yet somehow the powers that be figure out new and more insidious ways to transfer wealth upwards. And even now there’s a hell of a lot of wealth in America, combine that with a population so propagandized that they make sheep seem like free thinkers, and you have a formula for years or decades of slow moral and economic degeneration. The middle class in the USA has been losing ground since the seventies, for those who have been paying attention.
Fun times indeed. And just for the record, my personal life is better than it’s ever been, so my negative impressions aren’t generated by internal demons. And I would be happy if I was wrong in every particular, and America’s foreign policy and domestic politics led to a world of freedom, prosperity, and peace. Wake me when that happens, I’m going back to bed.
Have a great weekend everyone.
(The above image is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. It’s not being used for profit and its use here in no way interferes with the copyright holder’s commercial use of the image. It’s also very likely Public Domain under US copyright law. I have no clue who to attribute the image to. It’s some American GIs holding a captured Nazi flag during WW2. I chose it because it’s an interesting image, some of the juxtapositions in the image, and as a lead in to my upcoming post about how World War Two never ended.)
A reader suggested that mainstream news broadcasts these days should be preceded by a disclaimer like one sees in TV shows: “Based on true events.” Because that’s pretty much what’s going on. This latest business with Iran demonstrates that to a tee, while it is true that Iran revealed a nuclear fuel processing plant last week, that’s about where the factual reporting ended. In fact the stream of nonsense coming out of the mouth’s of Clinton, Obama, and Netayahu beggars belief. And the media just parrots this nonsense as if it were fact. And like the good sheep they are, the citizens of the USA and Israel dutifully swallow this claptrap and regurgitate is as if they were actually expressing an opinion of their own. I apologize for being so mean-spirited, but it’s really annoying to hear people who apparently got a good education and have a fine primate brain using both to simply regurgitate mindless propaganda. It’s also going to be the death of us all, because it’s not since the run up to World War One has sabre rattling and mindless jingoism reached such dizzying international heights.
Sigh. In any event, a review for the people who still want to hear something besides the usual CNN/Fox/etc blather disguised as reporting. This may not be as polished as my usual posts, because I wanted to wait till then last minute to write about this topic, in case there were any late breaking developments. Fortunately the USA and Israel haven’t carried out their threats … yet. Considering the level of invective though, it does seem possible that an attack on Iran is in the cards. Sigh. At least the situation is easy to understand though, it’s very very simple in fact. Last week, Iran announced they had built a facility for making nuclear fuel. The plant is at least six months from completion, so they fulfilled their obligation under international law. They also announced that of course they would allow International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to inspect said facility, again in accordance with international law. In short, Iran acted like a good international citizen and did exactly as it was required to do under treaty obligations regarding their nuclear program.
And the gates of propaganda hell opened in the west, spewing forth some of the most incredible nonsense since the Maine was sunk. (Yes, I feel like using hyperbole today, shoot me.) Clinton may have made the most amazing remark, she literally issued an ultimatum that the Iranians had to allow inspectors into this plant. Since Iran had already announced it would allow the new plant to be inspected, Clinton’s threat transcends the absurd. Obama, Netanyahu waded right in though and added absurdities of their own. A huge deal was made about this “secret” plant. Actually, the US and Israel had known about it for years, so it wasn’t that much of a secret. And Iran announced it well within the required deadline for doing so, so how is this a secret? A big deal was made of the fact that it was underground, as if this too was proof of Iran’s evil intent. News flash, the USA and Israel have been threatening to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities for decades, Iran should just build them them out in the open for Israel to bomb? Get real. And of course Israel claimed this was “proof” that Iran was pursuing nuclear weapons and must be stopped. And the oft repeated claim was made that if Iran gets nuclear weapons, they will of course immediately use them. Along with the claim that Iran was “the greatest threat to peace” in the world.
Right. For the record, Iran hasn’t attacked another nation since the nineteenth century. Unlike, say, um, the USA and Israel. Iran has never threatened to “nuke” Israel, the endless repeating of this nonsense is probably the greatest propaganda coup in history. And for the record, the people who inspect Iran’s nuclear facilities, and every American intelligence agency, have all concluded repeatedly that there is zero evidence that Iran has a secret nuclear program. And for the record, not only is it sensible for Iran to be pursuing nuclear power, it’s an excellent idea. Oil is easily Iran’s largest source of hard international currency, so supplying their own power with domestic nuclear plants means even more money for them. It also means that the pollution and health problems that go with oil fuelled power plants are someone else’s problem.
And yes, it is possible that Iran might secretly make a few nuclear weapons. Considering the non stop threats that the USA and Israel make, not to mention that the USA has invaded and occupied two countries that border Iran, making a few weapons to defend themselves with seems pretty rational. So Iran gets a few bombs, so what? What isn’t rational is the idea that if Iran got a few bombs they will immediately use them or turn them over to terrorists. The USA or Israel would turn Iran into a parking lot if they did anything so mind numbingly stupid. Iran has been a nation state a lot longer than the USA or Israel, in fact longer than most of the world’s nation states. You don’t exist as a nation for several thousand years if your people are prone to suicidal stupidity.
So are Obama, Netayahu, and Clinton stupid? Of course not. The powers that be in the USA and Israel have spent the last sixty years or so using exaggerated foreign threats to consolidate their power and enrich themselves. And in the process have created an enormous industry and lobby that absolutely requires foreign threats to justify its existence. Again, for the record, Israel and the USA have enourmous military machines, the first and fourth largest in the world. In fact the USA spends more money on defence than the rest of the world combined. So it is essential that their populations be kept in a state of fear so that these expenditures are justified. It’s just sad to me that so many in Israel and the USA completely swallow this threat mongering with no understanding that their leaders are simply lying. And that the once at least semi-independent media goes right along with it, as one Russian observed, in the old Soviet Union they had to shoot people to get the press so subservient to the state. Go figure.
And yes, there’s a lot more going on of course, a tremendous amount of background and other information. I’m not going to post on it though, the information is there for those who want to see. I’ll be posting links on it in the sidebar in the next week or two. I’ll post on Iran again if there are other developments. Coming later this week, the story of how two inches of dirt and some leaking cannisters set back space exploration by three decades. And I haven’t forgotten Felinae maculosus atrox either, global warming’s biggest threat.
(The above image was released by the Iranian semi-official Mehr News Agency, and then picked up by AP. I’m claiming it as Fair Use under US copyright law. It’s not being used for profit, is central to illustrating the post, and its use here in no way interferes with the copyright holder’s commercial use of the image. Credit and copyright: AP and Mehr News Agency. Yes, Iranian sabre rattling isn’t helping either, but it’s not like they have any choice. To put it mildly, if someone actually threatened the USA and Israel the way they routinely threaten other countries, we would do a lot more than just fire a few test missiles.)
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
Well, I got my Internet connection back, and I got my cable TV back, all is right with the universe. At least my little corner of it. Lots of news this week, though it’s more and more apparent to me that what passes for news in the mainstream media is little more than talking points issued by the administration on behalf of their corporate handlers. So with that in mind, a random look at the week’s “news.”
US soldiers withdraw from Iraqi cities! This was touted as some sort of big moment for Iraqis, the Iraqi government even went so far as to declare it a national holiday. This is just another in an endless series of stage managed events for the benefit of the American taxpayers. Pretty much the story of our occupation of Iraq from the get go, when the Pentagon bussed a handful of Kurds around to have pics of happy Iraqis welcoming our troops. Or the Saddam statue pull-down. The reality is that packing up your tent and moving it a few miles down the road doesn’t constitute a “withdrawal” of any sort. We still have a massive (and mind numbingly expensive) military presence in Iraq with no sign it’s going anywhere soon. And the Iraqi “government” is a puppet government at best, a quisling government at worst.
Moving right along, I read an article about an interview with President Obama. I was shocked by a few points, so I’ll comment on this news article. It starts with Obama lecturing the Russians and telling them “The Cold War” is history. Excuse me? Yes, for Russia it’s history. For the USA and its allies, the Cold War never ended. NATO wasn’t dissolved, it in fact has been expanded right up to Russia’s borders with plans to expand it into the former Soviet Union on the table. NATO is fighting in Afghanistan. In other words the US Cold War policy of encircling, isolating, and weakening Russia continues to this day. As long as NATO still exists, the USA is in Cold War mode, that Obama can say this sort of insulting nonsense with a straight face shows what a consummate politician and liar he is.
The article goes on to say “With most experts in agreement that there’s a good chance Iran could have a usable nuclear bomb sometime during his presidency.” Actually, the experts say precisely the opposite, the USA’s own intelligence agencies have concluded that Iran stopped working on bombs years ago. And yet here is a “news” article basically stating as fact that Iran is trying to acquire nuclear weapons. In the same vein Obama said that Iran cannot be allowed to become a “nuclear power,” whatever that was supposed to mean. More effort to conflate Iran’s nuclear program with a weapon’s program, so that the demonisation of Iran can continue apace. As I have stated before, Iran’s nuclear program is completely legal under international law (unlike, say, Israel’s covert nuclear program,) perfectly sensible for them in an economic sense, and even if they did build a few nukes, so what? The USA and Israel’s vast modern nuclear arsenal is more than a match for a few fifties eras nukes and will be for generations to come.
In any event I will post more on Iran and the situation there sometime next week. Unlike most people who simply regurgitate talking points (TV really has destroyed most people’s ability to think for themselves) I try to look at as much of the picture as I can and come to my own conclusions. And there’s a whole lot of “big picture” when it comes to Iran, so I will be doing a lot of research this weekend. I may even change my mind about aspects of the situation, it’s been known to happen.
To be fair, the article did end with one Obama quote that I am in complete agreement with. When it was pointed out that since he signed the $780 billion economic stimulus bill in February, the economy has lost more than 2 million jobs, Obama said: “What we are still seeing is too many jobs lost, …” As the expression so crudely puts it, no shit Sherlock. All the various stimulus packages around the world did was shovel more money upwards, basically bandaging the problem while the foundation of the economy continues to rot. No matter how much lipstick and perfume you use, a stinking corpse is still a stinking corpse.
Next week, Iran, maybe more on the economy, the Battle of Gettysburg, and watever else pops up. Have a great weekend everyone.
(The above image is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. It’s almost certainly public domain, is an historically important image, and its use here in no way interferes with the copyright holder’s commercial use of the image. I don’t even know who to credit it to, if anyone knows let me know and I will properly attribute it. The image is from Catherine the Great’s grand tour of newly acquired lands in Crimea in 1787. It was alleged that General Potemkin built fake villages to impress the Empress with the value of Potemkin’s conquests. How much truth there is to the story is debateable, but it does nicely illustrate that the idea of using spin to legitimize invasion and conquest has been around for a awhile.)
I’m a little concerned about developments in Pakistan. More than a little concerned actually. This is easily the number one spot on the planet where all hell could break out in the near future. And by all hell, I mean a major war, possibly even a nuclear war. Usually when our leaders in Washington make hysterical claims about some grave danger we face overseas, they are exaggerating for their own propaganda purposes. In the case of the unravelling situation in Pakistan, Washington may be misstating the problem and ignoring the role they played in creating it, but there is no doubt it is a problem.
First of all, what’s going on? Well, the Pakistani government has been cutting deals with militants in its border regions. In fact Pakistan has basically ceded control of parts of Pakistan within 100 miles of the capitol to Taliban militants. Oh my. Instability has been spreading throughout Pakistan for a number of reasons. A collapsing economy. Indian meddling. Pakistan was basically forced to join a war against the Taliban that they weren’t enthusiastic about to begin with, and their war effort is falling apart. And there seems to be no doubt that America’s rocket attacks are turning Pakistanis against the USA and their own government in large umbers. This is one of the amazing examples of how war supporters have fatal tunnel vision, they can rant and rave about the rocket attacks Gaza and how even one rocket justifies Israel’s military violence, yet they can’t grasp that firing rockets into Pakistan is going to piss the Pakistanis off in the same way so many Israelis are outraged.
In any event, I digress. Adding to the problem in a huge way are the comments of our leaders in Washington. Both Clinton and General Petraeus have recently lectured the Pakistanis on how they are conducting themselves with their rebellious border provinces. Clinton was particularly harsh, basically accusing the Pakistanis of abdicating to the Taliban. Quick poll, how would Americans react if some foreign leader lectured us and told us we had to do things their way or else? To put it mildly, people would be rushing to American leaders who told the foreign leaders to butt out.
Which leads to the conclusion that Washington is trying to destabilize Pakistan, maybe with hopes of inspiring a military coup. At the very least these comments aren’t helping, and are a propaganda godsend for the Taliban and other such groups. I mean, for seven years now we have been losing ground in this part of the world, while the power and influence of our chosen enemies is increasing. Yet our only response is more troops and more threats and more rocket attacks … the very things that have been destabilizing the region for years?
God only knows what is going to happen, but at least the chances of nuclear weapons falling into the hands of the Taliban or the like is small. The Pakistani army retains very tight control of them, they no more want the Taliban to have the bomb than the USA does. And if it seems that an Islamic revolution is sweeping Pakistan, there’s no doubt that the USA /India/Israel would take military attack to destroy the Pakistani nuclear arsenal … very possibly with the support of the Pakistani military. Still, that would only add more fuel to the fire.
In some ways what most disturbs me about this mess is that western thinking on the subject never seems to change. For two centuries now British and then American armies have periodically marched through the region trying to impose our version of secular reality on them, and despite two centuries of bloody failure, we just keep doing the same thing and expecting a different result.
Maybe this will all work out OK. Obama does seem to be a little more inclined to diplomacy than Bush. A little. However, he seems to have the same blind spot as everyone in Washington regarding spending on war, no price is too high. (Well, no price in American dollars and foreign blood.) I don’t see how we can possibly invade and occupy Pakistan, yet we seem determined to forge a course where abject surrender or massive war are our only options. This is not a sound geopolitical strategy.
Maybe I’ll write a post of the ten biggest blunders in the “War on Terror,” that could be fun. Stay safe everyone and have a great weekend.
(The above image is claimed as Public Domain under British copyright law as it was executed prior to 1939. The author is unknown. It’s a nineteenth century painting of the Battle of Maiwand, where in 1880 an Afghan warlord defeated a British army in one of the few victories of an Asian army over a western one in the nineteenth century. Just another example of our endless penchant for pouring European blood on the ground in foreign parts.)
“My fellow citizens, at this hour, American and coalition forces are in the early stages of military operations to disarm Iraq, to free its people, and to defend the world from grave danger.” —George Bush 2003
It’s been six years since former President Bush announced that US forces were entering Iraq to defend us from the evil Saddam and his terrible weapons that could destroy American cities at any moment. Iraqis lined the streets and threw flowers as our heroic troops marched into their land and freed them from tyranny and oppression. It brings a tear to my eye just to think about, thousands of years of using armies to plunder and conquer, and finally a man had the vision to use military force to reshape the world for noble purposes.
Snort. Gag. Retch. Projectile vomiting. OK, this is very simple. If you thought that the US invasion of Iraq was about defending America and for the benefit of the Iraqi people, I have a bridge you might want to buy. Too subtle? OK, if you thought that Iraq was a threat to the USA, you’re an idiot. Maybe you’re not always idiotic, but your brain dropped the ball on this occasion. The idea that Saddam’s Iraq posed a “grave danger” to the world didn’t pass the laugh test.
Sure, if Saddam had really tried he might have been able to smuggle explosives or what not into American cities and pulled of some sort of 9/11. Maybe a dozen 9/11s. Tens of thousands of Americans dead. After which we would have turned Iraq into a parking lot. Saddam was evil, not stupid and suicidal. And of course every other country on the planet, hundreds of corporations, insurgent groups, and criminal organizations could do the same thing. My God, should we invade all them too?
Six years, and what has Bush’s war in Iraq wrought? Hundreds of thousands are dead, at least as many are wounded, including hundreds of thousands of American GIs. That’s right, hundreds of thousands of returning GIs may have brain injuries according to the Pentagon. Due to modern armour and medical care, guys that would have died in previous wars are now coming home alive … but with injuries that will haunt them their entire lives.
In fact, it’s fair to say that many of these men (and women) will die in the years to come from their injuries, and that Bush has done with their lives exactly what he did with our money. He spent it today, but the future will have to pay the bills. Deficit dying as it were. Not only are Americans still dying in Iraq, they will continue to die for decades even if we pull out tomorrow. Some accomplishment.
Six years later and I’m still angry. I’m angry that so many Americans bought the WMD nonsense and the idea that Iraq was some sort of threat to the USA. I’m angry that Americans are still dying and being maimed in Iraq. Yes, increasingly sophisticated attacks on US troops in Iraq continue, and they will never stop. And I’m angry that Americans simply forgot about the war when the violence slightly decreased. A permanent drain on our treasury and our youth’s blood, and we can’t even continue the public debate as to the wisdom of this? I guess not.
In any event despite the image above, I’m not trying to compare America to Nazi Germany, Bush was no Hitler. There is one parallel though that we ignore, when Hitler launched his crusade to reshape Europe by force of arms, there was a lot of justice in his cause. The Treaty of Versailles that Germany was forced to sign at gun point in World War War was a grossly unjust treaty. There were people at the time who said it would be the cause of the next war.
And by 1940 Hitler had rectified these wrongs, and he had his “Mission Accomplished” victory tour of Paris. Granted even by then his forces had done some very bad things, armies and soldiers always do bad things. No one imagined at this point just how bad it would get as Hitler got carried away by his success. In that sense we are fortunate that Bush’s invasion of Iraq was such a failure, if it hadn’t so quickly turned into a bloody mess Bush would almost certainly turned his sights on Iran and Syria. In that sense maybe the sacrifices of our dead in Iraq weren’t entirely pointless, they may have prevented Bush launching a much bigger bloodier war.
Finally, the point I’m dancing around with this post, it is far more accurate to say that “war makes monsters” than “monsters make war.” It doesn’t matter how noble your motives might be, war brings out the worst in men, not the best. At the Nuremberg Trials they decided that invasion was the mother of all war crimes, because it is the crime from which all the rest flow.
Six years later and I still think the invasion of Iraq was a terrible ghastly mistake. The people who predicted wonderful things would follow our invasion were naive at best, and liars at worst. Though Dick Cheney is much more than just a liar, but I’ve save his evil rantings for another day.
God rest the souls of all who have died in Bush’s misbegotten little war.
(The above picture is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. It’s not being used for profit and is an historically important image. It’s Hitler on his one and only tour of Paris in 1940. I chose it because it’s high enough resolution that you can see the expression on their faces, click on the image for the full size version. The guy on Hitler’s left is Albert Speer, Hitler’s architect. They are trying to look noble, they just look hollow and lost to me. Hitler went on from this moment to end up dying by his own hand in a Berlin bunker in 1945. Speer not only survived the war, he survived the Nuremberg Trials as the “Nazi who said he was sorry.“)
OK, in a previous post we have escaped being incinerated by a nuclear weapon’s initial flash through dumb luck, and escaped being crushed and imploded by the ensuing shock wave through quick wits and a fortuitously placed shelter of some sort. Now we are standing outside the subway staring at the starkly beautiful and terrible mushroom cloud rising a few miles away. “This can’t be good” would be a reasonable assessment of the situation, aren’t we now doomed to die a horrible death from fallout induced radiation poisoning? No. In fact if you’ve made it this far, there’s a good chance you will be around to tell this story to your grandchildren. And they won’t be mutants from fifties horror movies either, well, at least some of them.
The reason is that the danger from fallout is exaggerated, and even better, a few simple precautions can reduce that danger considerably. What is fallout? Fallout is dust and debris sucked up and pulverized and irradiated by the nuclear explosion, tossed up into the air by the mushroom cloud, and delivered to nearby locations by the wind. Unless the bomb was designed to create fallout, which is unlikely, fallout is going to be rather minimal. However, even better, fallout is simply radioactive dust falling from the sky, possibleyin rain, possibly invisibly. Why is that better? Because, for that dust to really hurt you, it has to get inside you. Thats right, the mere presence of radioactive fallout, while not a good thing, is not nearly so bad as inhaling or swallowing the dust.
So now the clever reader just figured out the purpose of the pillowcase they had stuffed in their briefcase or purse because they read about it in Doug’s Darkworld, and has already ripped it into strips to act as an impromptu breathing mask. Wrap your face so that as much as possible you’re breathing through cloth, wet cloth if it can be arranged, and proceed on your way. The fallout is only going to drift downwind from the bomb site, try to proceed away from both the bomb site and any area downwind from the site. Think of it this way, invisible poisonous dust may be falling from the sky, if you can avoid breathing or eating it, you will be OK. It’s also a good idea to not let any accumulate on your body.
How can all this be accomplished? Wear a mask of some sort, improvised if necessary. Change the mask every 15 minutes or so. Don’t eat or drink anything that has been exposed to fallout, not a good time to quench one’s thirst in puddles or fountains. Changing into uncontaminated clothes and showering yourself off is a good idea when possible. A good idea to cover your hair if you are outside.
OK, by now it is clear that while fallout danger can be minimized, boy, it’s not going to be easy or safe to run around in a fallout contaminated area. On the plus side only areas downwind of the central blast site are going to get fallout. That means if facing the mushroom cloud the wind is at your back, count your blessings and proceed in a direction away from the blast area, preferably with the wind in your face. Fallout is only really dangerous for a few days, it takes decades to fade away entirely but most of the radioactive material in fallout is unstable and decays into harmless dust very quickly. This is why the fallout shelter was invented, if one can get to a decent fallout shelter fast enough, the danger from fallout is mitigated even further.
Which leads to part three of my “How to survive a nuclear attack” series. Fallout shelters. Yes, rather than run around in the aftermath of a nuclear attack, it might be a good idea to lay low in a fallout safe structure. It is even possible to build a fallout shelter. Coming soon. In conclusion, I’m not trying to minimize the terrible danger of nuclear weapons (or nuclear power plant fires, the above information also applies if your local nuclear plant catches fire,) I’m trying to illustrate the central idea that there are many possible calamities in our lives where a little knowledge quickly applied is the difference between being a survivor…or a statistic.
(The above image was taken by a US government employee in the course of their duties, and is thus public domain under US law. This is a picture from the Apple-2 nuclear test on 5 May 1945, also known as Operation Cue. This was the last big public(!) nuclear test, and was extensively covered by the media of the day. It’s also the test where the iconic video images linked in the previous post were. Yes, civilian volunteers were trucked in to witness the test and its aftermath, those were the good old days!)