Archive for the ‘WMDs’ Category
Courtesy: University of Texas Libraries
I hate to dwell upon such an unpleasant subject, but there’s a few stories in the news that are of interest as this train wreck continues to unfold. And a few thoughts of my own I wanted to run up the flagpole so to speak. The first is the obvious one, don’t people realize how terrible a war with Iran could be? The region has already been badly destabilized by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, another western attack on a Muslim country could trigger terrible consequences throughout the region. This is one of the main reasons, if not the main reason, why launching a war should be done only as a last resort. Wars almost never turn out the way they were confidently predicted ,there are always unintended consequences. Or look at it this way, have Iraq and Afghanistan turned into the peaceful western style democracies that the Neocons promised us when they decided to reshape the Middle East through force of arms?
Part of the problem is that a lot of militarists and people with little understanding or concern about history view war as a “zero-sum” game. That is, they think that war is like chess or a game of risk…if you can just wipe out enough of the other guys pieces…you win. In a classic conventional war between two discreet nation states, there is a certain amount of truth to this. However, the era of classical wars between nation states ended in the 19th century. Modern warfare is far more diffuse, the concept of “total war” pretty much ended zero-sum equations during world war one. Wars now are far less constrained by borders and the distinction between combatants and non combatants than ever, it’s simply no longer possible to wipe out your enemy’s army in a big glorious battle and go home to celebrate your victory. Those days are long over, but most humans, especially in military matters, are still living in the glory days of old.
In a similar vein, people don’t seem to grasp that flying over people and dropping bombs on them doesn’t get them to “see reason.” They react in the exact same way as anyone would if someone flew over them and dropped bombs. They go ballistic. In fact it’s not clear if strategic bombing (that’s bombing an enemy’s cities, infrastructure, and factories as opposed to bombing their soldiers) has ever achieved the desired results. Even in World War Two, the golden age of strategic bombing, it’s not at all clear that the bombing of Japan and Germany achieved the desired results. The damage it did has to be balanced against the known fact that it made the governments of both countries far more popular and wildly increased their people’s will to resist. Strategic bombing is easy compared to trying to find their soldiers hiding in the woods and bomb them, which is why it is so widely practised. That does not however mean it is a good idea, the easiest answer is not always the best answer.
Oh well, I’m still hoping that cooler heads will prevail. As the late Molly Ivins said: “The First Rule of Holes… … If You Are in One, Stop Digging.” Note the map above, Iran is a much bigger hole than Iraq. I’m still hoping that Bush will order the military to attack Iran…and they will say “With what, the Coast Guard?” And as our first story of the day illustrates…it’s not as crazy as it sounds:
Generals will resign? There’s a report that some top ranking US generals have said they will resign if ordered to attack Iran. The report is certainly credible, not all American generals are politically appointed toadies. Or more accurately, not all of our competent generals have yet left the military, voluntarily or forced out. Just the fact that generals are threatening to resign should give Bush pause, but sadly Bush doesn’t appear to process input that doesn’t lead to the conclusions he wants. Still, it’s a hopeful sign.
US Funds Terrorists. There are reports that the USA is funding and encouraging violent anti-government groups in Iran. Groups that have and do use tactics that would clearly be described as terrorism. Purportedly to put pressure on the Iranian government to abandon its nuclear program. And if Mexico gave weapons to pro immigrant groups in the USA and urged them to launch attacks on the USA government, that would put pressure on the American government to relax its immigration policy? This is either incredibly stupid, or cynically designed to make the situation worse instead of better.
Iran Defiant. The BBC reports that Iran continues to be defiant over its nuclear program. Note that no mention is made that under the NPT Iran’s nuclear program is completely legal. And no mention is made of India, Pakistan, and Israel who have not only refused to sign the NPT, they have developed nuclear weapons in complete defiance of it. And of course no mention is ever made of the fact that despite having their facilities open to UN monitoring, no evidence that Iran is diverting its program to military uses has ever been discovered. Bush has never let facts interfere with his final fantasy foreign policy visions before, at least the man is consistent.
Just for fun click here. Yes, Iran was once used to promote the building of nuclear power plants in the USA. Of course the USA was all for Iran’s peaceful nuclear program when Iran was run by a brutal American installed dictator. Now that Iran is a democracy, all of a sudden it doesn’t make sense for them to develop nuclear power? And I know, some would object to calling Iran a democracy. Honestly though, compared to virtually every American ally in the Middle East, Iran is a model of democracy.
US Special Forces In Iran. Again, if this is true, try to imagine if Iranian special forces were conducting military operations inside your nation. The typical American would go ape shit for example. Sadly, such is the mind-set of many Americans…we can do unto others what we would never accept being done unto us. And we call ourselves a Christian Nation?
Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.
(The above map is a public domain image and may be copied and used freely)
America’s top ranked general on capturing Osama Bin Laden: “I don’t know that it’s all that important, frankly.”
This was an incredibly moving scene for me.
There’s never any shortage of things to blog about. I’m still making my way through “The Guns of August,” a fabulously written book about world war one. On of the things that strikes me is how every country involved in the war was run by a combination of idiots and people with severe interpersonal issues. Yes, most countries throughout history are run by the same sorts of people that are running your office or company. Except of course they are trying to do something vastly more complicated than run an office or a business. There are individual exceptions here and there, but I think it’s safe to say that people wouldn’t trust their nation’s leaders to water their plants while they were on vacation, if they really knew what sort of people they were.
Which of course leads to one of history’s big mysteries, why the hell do so many people have bedrock faith in their government despite overwhelming evidence that they don’t know what they are doing? Christ, Hitler had reduced Germany to ruins and Russian tanks were rolling into Berlin, and still, people were maniacally defending him. And modern propaganda and the mass media being what it is, I think this problem may even be getting worse. More proof that our civilization is doomed, as if we needed any more proof.
Speaking of the end of civilization, I saw a movie last night which I was very impressed by: Children of Men. It’s a dark, violent, disturbing post-apocalyptic movie with a tiny sliver of hope running through it. I can’t recommend it enough, it touches upon avast array of contemporary issues, both spiritual and secular. It is however, not for the faint of heart, the movie is set in a future world where violence is endemic.
Moving right along, a few of today’s assorted news bleeps and commentary on same:
Israel Seeks Permission to fly over Iraq and attack Iran? I’m not sure what to think of this one, it says they are seeking permission from the USA to overfly Iraq on their way to bombing Iran. Um, gee, shouldn’t they be negotiating with the sovereign nation of Iraq? It’s also hard to imagine Israel doing anything so stupid unless they are trying to start a wider war in the region. Which may even be a possibility.
Comedy in Iraq. Maliki, the putative Prime Minister of Iraq claimed the crackdown was working, even as car bombs exploded in the background. He’s actually a pretty funny guy who says all sorts of amusing things along these lines. Of course he rarely if ever leaves the air conditioned splendour of the Green Zone, so his complete lack of contact with reality in Iraq can be understood.
Capturing Bin Laden “not important.” General Peter Shoomaker, the USA’s highest ranking officer, said he is unsure if the USA will ever capture Osama Bin Laden, remarking that “I don’t know that it’s all that important, frankly.” OK then. If capturing he man who murdered thousands of American on 911 isn’t important, what the fuck is important to these people? I mean, we started the whole goddamn war on terror because of this guy, hundreds of billions of dollars have been spent, hundreds of thousands of people are dead and maimed, including thousands of Americans, two countries are in ruinous wars…and capturing the guy who started it all is not all that important? Please, could some of my pro Bush policy readers explain this dogshit?
No cat stories today, I won’t debase my cats by mentioning them in the same post as General “success is not a priority” Shoomaker.
(The above image is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. It is not being used for profit, and it is central to the subject of the post. And I’m plugging their movie for God’s sake so I can’t imagine why anyone would object.)
A new breed of cat?
Another day of crappy headlines in the news, makes me want to go stomp on a puppy. Not literally of course, but that conveys my mood. Snarl. Just for fun I’m going to try a slightly different format today:
Blogger Jailed. A blogger in Egypt has been jailed for insulting Islam, sedition, mopery, dopery, and whatever else they could come up with. Yeah, Egypt is another bastion of freedom and democracy. Oh, that’s right, the blogger called Mubarak a dictator. Silly blogger, if a country is a US ally the proper term is “President for Life.” What was he thinking?
Iran Ignores Deadline. Iran ignored the UN deadline for Iran to abandon its perfectly legal Uranium enrichment program. The UN is now simply a vehicle for the west to bully people it doesn’t like with, so this is basically non news. Unless of course one is war monger who thinks all problems can be solved by blowing uppity brown people to bits, in which case this is very good news indeed.
Britney Spears. They have had to install a revolving door on her rehab centre, she’s back in rehab as of thirty seconds ago. Apparently she cut off her hair to avoid having it tested for drugs regarding an upcoming custody dispute over her children. My main question here is, who is Britney Spears and why does anyone care about this sort of nonsense?
Chlorine Gas Attacks. Some insurgents in Iraq are apparently resorting to chlorine gas attacks. Charming, just charming. War is hell, and this has a certain perverted logic to it. It will make folks even less likely to collaborate with Iraq’s quisling government, and place further strain on America’s already overstretched troops by forcing them to take protective measures against gas attack. It could backfire on the insurgents though, so we will see how this story develops.
Another Blackhawk Down. Yes, the ninth helicopter in a month has been shot down in Iraq. The insurgents are clearly making a concerted effort to down helicopters. Another demonstration that insurgents have the ultimate interior lines, usually it’s the occupier who has to keep changing tactics to respond to the insurgents, and Iraq is an excellent case in point. The American surge put even more strain on our forces and didn’t make any impact on the violence, the insurgent surge is blowing American helicopters out of the sky in alarming numbers. Of course if I say this is more evidence that the USA is losing the war, I will be accused of having a negative attitude that encourages our enemies. As if a war was some sort of sporting event where the side who gets pumped up the most wins.
Spear Chucking Chimps. In another blow to evolution deniers, chimpanzees have been observed making and using spears to hunt and kill other primates. Yes, these animals are truly our cousins, and is more proof that humans are little better than shaved chimps.
Dry Aliens. The first direct measurements of alien worlds have been made. And as has been the case every time we learn something new about planets around other suns, scientists didn’t find what they were expecting to find: water. Scientists aren’t sure why, but this is still a milestone in our exploration of the galaxy.
Cat Digits. A cat with 26 toes is making news, that’s eight extra toes. Her not terribly imaginative but well meaning people have named her “Extra.” She can shred the typical curtain to ribbons in less than two seconds (that’s one second better than average) and empty an entire litter box onto the bathroom floor in twelve seconds (two seconds better than average.) Wind tunnel tests have shown she can remain firmly attached to the carpet at wind speeds of up to 150 miles per hour (nearly 250 kph,) it is expected her progeny will be in great demand in hurricane afflicted areas.
(The above image is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law, it is not being used for profit, it is central to illustrating the post, and it is certain to become an historically important image.)
Well, Iran is still in the news. US plans for targets in Iran have been leaked, they appear to include widespread attacks on the Iranian military. Since some of this would almost certainly involved the use of “depleted” uranium weapons, we are talking about nuking Iran. Yeah, using the nuclear waste from our weapons production to bomb them them into abandoning their peaceful nuclear program really makes us the good guys. It’s been announced that basically there are two triggers that will cause a US attack on Iran, first their nuclear program and secondly a large scale attack on US forces in Iraq that can be traced to Iran. This obviously has people in Iran rather alarmed, I pulled the poster above from an Iranian’s blog. Guess what, President Ahmadinejad is about as popular in Iran as Bush is popular in the US. How did we end up in such a predicament? Sigh.
I can only continue to hope that Bush’s sabre rattling is just that, sabre rattling. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are both going badly, he can’t seriously think that bringing Iran fully into the war is going to improve matters, can he? Sadly, he can. Bush and his supporters are living in the 19th century, they think colonialism and the era of gunboat diplomacy are still going strong. They actually believe that the American way of life has some sort of innate superiority over the brown people of the world. People should have realized after Vietnam that those days were over, but instead like an addicted gambler, we have just doubled and redoubled our bets in a fruitless attempt to bring back the glory days of old.
From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members?
Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not.
Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.
(The above image is being used with the permission of the author.)
Apparently there are those who think Saddam is still alive. I guess, in a world where Harry Potter is appearing naked on stage and Britney Spears has gone bald, anything is possible. In other celebrity silliness, the US Congress passed a toothless and meaningless resolution disapproving of Bush’s “surge” in Iraq. Though the symbolism of the later is important to many people I suppose, and it’s nice to see Congress at least pretending to have a spine. In other news, Iran claims that the explosives used by a terrorist attack in Iran were manufactured in the United States. I suppose it’s possible, but that’s like saying the car a car bomber used was manufactured in the United States. The world is awash in American manufactured explosives, it’s not like they would be hard to get a hold of.
It is interesting though just how much importance people place on being able to say “the other side started it.” There’s hardly a war in history where the participants didn’t claim to be the victims of aggression. Since “he started it” isn’t generally considered a good excuse for a preschool playground fight, it’s a sad commentary on the general maturity of the world’s citizens that they so consistently fall for this line from their leaders. Of course some world citizens fall for “he was going to start it if I didn’t start it first,” which is so stupid that even preschoolers don’t try to use it as an excuse. I won’t mention any names.
OK, I’m in a strange mood today. This is the first day this year where I actually woke up feeling healthy and normal. Or healthy at least, I only pass for normal in a thick fog. We used to get lots of thick fogs here in Berkeley, but they’ve pretty much stopped in the past few years. Evidence for or against global warming depending on one’s views. I liked skulking in the fog, skulking in the sunlight simply doesn’t have the same cachet. Plus it’s too easy for the police to find you when people notice your skulking. Did I mention I was in a strange mood today?
In Baghdad the violence appears to be down slightly. There are a number of possibilities for this:
A: The new security operation is a smashing success.
B: The insurgents are laying low till it’s over.
C: The insurgents are marshaling their forces for their own operation.
Historically in this sort of situation it’s B and/or C, so I wouldn’t book any trips to Baghdad in the near future. Speaking of which, I see Condi is in Baghdad, or at least in the Green Zone, the crusader fortress the USA maintains in the centre of Baghdad. I’m a little unclear on what her job is, so I don’t really have much to say. Cheerleader for Bush? It’s a good bet that she flew from the airport to the Green Zone, and I doubt she will be making any public appearances, which pretty much says it all.
In some positive news, a tentative agreement has been reached with North Korea regarding dismantling their nuclear weapons program. That this resulted from diplomacy, and is remarkably similar to the deal that the Clinton administration reached with North Korea isn’t getting much press in the USA. Or at least the Bush administration doesn’t want to make a big deal out of it. Does this mean North Korea isn’t an issue any more? Of course not, with the codicil that they weren’t much of an issue to begin with. It’s also been suggested that Bush wants this agreement to clear the decks for an attack on Iran. That’s a depressing thought.
It’s interesting how the world’s major powers have managed to successfully convince most of the world’s population that a few, small, virtually powerless countries are focus of all the world’s problems, nu? Such is the power of modern propaganda, if this keeps up within a few decades they will have blamed all the world’s problems on one person. With my luck it will be me. Heck, my ex-wife would already agree.
(The above image is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. It is not being sued for profit and is central to illustrating the post.)
Here’s the proof…
Let me see if I understand this correctly. Before we conquered Iraq the Bush administration repeatedly claimed that Iraq was secretly building weapons of mass destruction like nuclear and biological weapons, weapons so sophisticated that only a handful of nations have mastered them. And now, the very same administration is claiming with a straight face that Iraqis need technological help from Iran to build shaped charges…a type of weapon that was in use as early as 1919. A type of weapon so unsophisticated and common knowledge that instructions to build them are widely available on the fucking Internet. The above plan came from Wikipedia for God’s sake.
I don’t know what bothers me most about this, that the Bush administration thinks the American public is so goddamn stupid that they’ll fall for this claptrap…or that millions of Americans are so stupid that they actually believe it. I mean wake up people, this is like Custer claiming that the Indians must have had help making their bows and arrows. This propaganda is so transparent and stupid that it’s an embarrassment that these people are running the country.
The Americans who are dying in Iraq, not to mention the tens of thousands of Iraqi innocents, were killed by George Bush. He is the one who ordered the invasion of a country with a third the troops required to do the job. He is the one who actually believed that a fractured foreign violent land would roll over and kiss our asses for the privilege of being run by a puppet government of criminal exiles. He is the one who has stood by and done nothing while the situation in Iraq has deteriorated for years. He and his buddies in the armaments and oil industry are the ones who have raked in hundreds of billions in profits from this war. He and his administration are the ones responsible for the carnage in Iraq.
And George Bush is the one who must be stopped before he makes the situation ten times worse by attacking Iran. We impeached Clinton for one semen stained dress, how many dead Americans laying in bloody chunks on the streets of Baghdad does it take? Wake up America, cause if we let this microcephalic would-be Caesar expand his war to Iran…well, if you think Bush’s war has been ugly so far…you ain’t seen nothing yet.
And yes, I’m losing my desire to be diplomatic when discussing the Bush regime. Osama Bin Laden is starting to look like a pacifist compared to this blood drenched cabal of madmen.
(The above image is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. It is not being used for profit, it is central to illustrating the post, and it proves that the Bush Administration is lying through their teeth in order to expand their insane war.)
The Four Horsemen, coming to a neighbourhood near you soon…
I was going to post a nice science post about Fritz Zwicky and dark matter, but alas, once again I read the headlines. Maybe later Fritz. The US has announced that the Iranian government, at the “highest levels” has been providing sophisticated IEDs to the insurgents in Iraq. The proof? Um, they’ll get back to us on that, apparently the president’s dog ate it. The mind reels. Coming ten days before the UN deadline for Iran to suspend its entirely legal uranium enrichment program, I can’t help but think this is a declared intent to attack Iran in all but name.
The same way that Bush went to great lengths to mention Saddam and 911 in the same breath ad nauseam before the invasion of Iraq, his administration is now doing the exact same thing with Iran. Every time they mention our failed occupation in Iraq, Iran gets mentioned. And thus millions of Americans come to believe that it’s Iran’s fault that the “mission” in Iraq is failing. No, it’s the fault of the people in Washington who have been pretending for years that a few hundred thousand troops could do a job that required at least a half a million troops. The unwavering ability of pro war politicians to find someone else to blame when things don’t go their way has been a hallmark of American politics for decades. At least people like Nixon and Clinton knew it was BS, the current administration appears to actually believe its own propaganda.
It’s especially galling that this is happening now, at the very same time that the lies and cooked intelligence used to “justify” the illegal conquest of Iraq are being exposed. And just in case anyone takes umbrage of my characterization of the invasion of Iraq as illegal, let me explain. Iraq did not attack the United States, the United States unilaterally invaded and occupied the sovereign nation of Iraq. The invasion of Iraq was a war crime and it was no more legal than Hitler’s invasion of Poland. No piece of paper arm twisted or manipulated from the UN or Congress, no foreign coalition mercenaries, no quisling Iraqis changes this fact. The United States attacked Iraq, not vice versa.
And tragically, it appears like the proverbial one-trick pony, Bush is going to to the exact same thing again. Except of course this is far stupider than the invasion of Iraq, and may very well result in a world war or a world wide depression or both. When the US invaded Iraq, I said mark my words: In ten or fifteen years the end result of the invasion of Iraq will be UN armies marching into the ruins of Washington to arrest Bush and company as war criminals. Attacking Iran is another milepost on this road to ruin. Thinking and acting like you are invincible is the surest way to find out you aren’t.
End rant. God help us all.
(The above image of the apocalypse pre-dates 1923 and is public domain under US copyright law.)
Lots of little things in the news this morning. Some good, some bad, some hard to identify even under bright light. I will pour a few more cups of coffee over my head and see what I have to say.
The drilling disaster in Java is back in the news. I have discussed this before, no new developments except that geologists have officially declared that drilling caused the problem. The people who were drilling dispute that conclusion, go figure. Anyhow, the recent BBC article contains aerial photographs and for that alone is worth checking out.
There’s been a big ugly strike in Lebanon, as opposition to the government tried to force it to step down. It’s a sad situation, most people in Lebanon are loyal to their clans or what not rather than to Lebanon itself. One must remember that Lebanon is not a natural nation state, it is a line on the map drawn up by colonial powers, deliberately created in order to have a Christian dominated nation in the Middle East. And the handful of Christian families the French turned the country over to are still clinging to the power they were given. Non stop meddling and invasions by foreign powers haven’t helped either. Maybe someday Lebanon will evolve into a united nation state, but it’s going to be a long hard road.
The attorney general of the United States astounded the Senate and anyone with half a brain by claiming that the US Constitution doesn’t guarantee habeas corpus. In layman’s terms, this means that the head of the US justice department thinks it’s OK for the government to “disappear” people. Yes, Gonzales thinks it’s basically OK for the government to arrest someone and hold them secretly and indefinitely. Um, history lesson, this sort of thing is one of the major causes of the American revolution. Midnight knocks on the door and people disappearing hasn’t started happening yet, but it’s scary that our Attorney General thinks it would be perfectly legal.
The hyperbole about Iran is reaching deafening levels. The USA is accusing Iran of trying to “dominate” the region. This is such a crock of sh*t it’s frightening. Iran does not have a force projection military, they are not capable of projecting military might beyond their borders in any significant way. They were unable to make inroads into Iraq during eight years of war, the USA army made it to Baghdad in less than eight weeks. The only people trying to dominate the region are in Washington and Tel Aviv, Iran is just trying to defend itself. True, Iran certainly has more influence in the region than they did a few years ago, but the USA gave them that influence by invading and occupying Iraq and Afghanistan. And yes, Ahmadinjad’s saber rattling isn’t helping.
Bush gave some sort of speech and threatened to “do big things.” Like he hasn’t done enough big things already? Congress proved once again they are simply corrupt cheerleaders by applauding him almost non stop. It really is sickening what a farce “democracy” has become in this country. I’m with the people who think Congressmen and Senators should be required to wear suits like race car drivers, with the emblems of their corporate sponsors sewed all over them. In the UK for example, Tony Blair has to give a “State of the Union” speech to Parliament every week. And afterwards, he has to answer questions! And not everyone cheers by any means. Britain may not be a perfect example of democracy, but they are miles ahead of the dog and pony show that is passed off as democracy in the USA these days.
And while we are on the subject of the USA returning to the Middle Ages, a judge has claimed that Michigan law allows people to be sentenced to life in prison for adultery. I rest my case. :)
(The above image is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. It is not being used for profit and it is central to illustrating the post.)
I am still somewhat sick. Which means I am just going to babble rudely about whatever comes to mind. Possibly the past few weeks of bed rest have damaged my brain. I taught my cats sudoku to relieve the boredom, but they’re not very good at it. On the plus side I turned on the TV today just in time to see how to open a Champagne bottle with a sword. Now that’s a handy skill to have, and swords should be easy to get once all those crazed Islamic terrorists get to my neighbourhood. Heck, I should just ask my Muslim neighbours downstairs to borrow their sword, according to Ann Coulter all Muslims keep swords in their homes, right? I’d say that was over the line, but I’m getting really tired of the anti Islamic rhetoric seeping out of the media like the so much recycled “better dead than red” crap it is.
Speaking of the above reported threat that insurgents in Iraq may have planned attacks inside the United Sates. “Conservative” bloggers are already ranting how this “proves” they are out to get us. Let me see if I understand this, the war that was supposed to prevent terrorist attacks on the USA (according to Bush and every pro war sycophant he had,) instead caused the creation of Al-Qaeda in Iraq and said plans to attack the USA, exactly as the antiwar crowd and me predicted. And this is somehow proof that the pro-war crowd was right? Give me a break. No, it’s more evidence that the people (like me) who said the invasion of Iraq would cause terrorism are right.
Or maybe it’s the ever increasing gap between reality and the White House is driving me mad. (I know, I know, someday Bush will be gone and I won’t have anything to blog about anymore. Heck, millions of bloggers will be unemployed when that dark day comes.) In last week’s interview for PBS Newshour, host Jim Lehrer asked Bush why he has not asked more Americans.. “to sacrifice something” for the war in Iraq.
The President replied: “I think a lot of people are in this fight. I mean, they sacrifice peace of mind when they see the terrible images of violence on TV every night.”
OK, maybe it is a sacrifice to watch the MSM, but still, the president’s idea of sacrifice is watching war coverage on TV? Hundreds of thousand of people are dead and maimed, including tens of thousand of Americans, and we are supposed to sacrifice by watching more TV? I’m pretty sure watching more TV will not win the war in Iraq, but at least Bush gets points for creativity.
Then of course the imminent illegal attack on Iran for doing what it is legally allowed to do under international law also has a way of weighing on one’s mind. Just as I start to feel better, Bush and Israel are planning to start a nuclear war. If two of the world’s most powerful nuclear armed nations using nuclear weapons on a nation that cannot possibly defend itself can be called war. Patriot missiles to the Gulf States, another carrier group to the Persian Gulf. Bush’s movie version of a showdown at high noon sure looks like it is in the offing. I guess he didn’t like how his movie in Iraq was turning out, and now he wants to change the channel?
If I’m lucky it will all turn out to be a fever dream.
(The above image is claimed as fair Use under US copyright law. It is not being used for profit, and it is central to illustrating the post.)
China Shoots Down a Spy Satellite, Japanese Navy Attacks Russian Fleet in North Sea, Britain Threatens War
Feline Spy Satellite. Credit: Julia
Feb 21 2008: For a post on the recent American downing of a spy satellite click here. The below post dates from January 2007.
World news continues, as always. China has successfully shot down a satellite using a missile. On one hand, shooting down a satellite is quite an achievement. On the other hand, it’s a lot easier than say, trying to shoot down a missile. It doesn’t take anything fancy to destroy a satellite, a well placed bean bag will do the trick. And unlike missiles, satellites are extremely predictable, there are even civilian “satellite watchers” who make a hobby of observing and keeping track of them.
The USA is of course very upset about this, as well they might be. At least those who want the USA to dominate the world through military force. Yes, China having an anti satellite weapon seriously threatens America’s plans to rule space. Of course America’s plans to rule space are just an excuse to build mind numbingly expensive weapons systems in pursuit of the impossible dream: absolute military superiority. At least this Chinese launch might get the subject on the table, weaponizing space is far more deadly a threat to humanity than a few crude nukes hidden in Asia’s mountains.
More importantly, this leads into the Achilles heel of American military thinking. We have become so wed to our technology that we have let the non technological aspects of warfare lag. Our generals and intelligence directors are so addicted to satellite photos and electronic eavesdropping that they have almost no “on the ground” assets. This is why after years of insurgency we still know very little about who we are fighting in Iraq. When it comes to high technology as the ultimate in gathering intelligence and waging war, the emperor has no clothes.
What I mean is this, a reasonably clever man can figure out simple ways to avoid being eavesdropped upon by satellites and electronic snoops. Like not using the telephone for example. Even better, any halfway intelligent person could figure out ways to send so much false information into the electronic eavesdroppers net that they would never figure out what was real and what was a decoy. In real life the bad guys are as smart as the good guys, it’s easy to think of simple countermeasures to high tech. This applies as much to war fighting as intelligence gathering, in some senses they are the same thing, your ability to wage war is only as effective as your ability to understand your enemies.
There’s an interesting historical example. Before the turn of the last century Japan pioneered the use of open source intelligence. That basically is intelligence gathered by people acting openly as opposed to spies. One way they facilitated this was that every Japanese Naval Officer was required to speak a second language fluently, and expected to keep their ears open when in foreign lands. Thus the Japanese had a sophisticated world wide network of spies and informants when war with Russia started, and they put it to good use.
When the Japanese learned that the Russian Baltic Fleet in Europe was going to sail to the Pacific Ocean, they used their network of spies to float a rumour that Japanese torpedo boats were going to ambush the Russian fleet while it was en route. They were able to spread this rumour so successfully that the Russians believed it. (In contrast to Japan, the Russian equivalent of the Pentagon at the time had exactly zero pemployees who could speak or read Japanese.) The Russians were so rattled that when their fleet got to the North Sea, they mistook a fleet of English fishing boats for Japanese torpedo boats…and opened fire. The resulting loss of life (modest though it may have been, only three guys died) so inflamed Britain that they came very close to declaring war on Russia themselves. Pretty slick result from just spreading rumours in bars, eh?
The point I am making is that understanding your enemy and making clever use of low tech methods is far more effective than all the superweapons in the world. America’s technological superiority didn’t win the Vietnam war, and it’s not winning in Iraq or Afghanistan. The idea that if we just build enough super weapons it will allow us to rule the world is madness, though it is making a small number of Americans rich beyond imagining. The USA is spending more money on its military than the rest of the world combined, and it has not bought us peace and security. Tom Engelhardt touches upon some of the above in his recommended Crusading Scorecard.
I am assured that no animals were harmed in the production of the above image. One cat was humiliated though.
(The above image is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. It is not being used for profit, it is central to illustrating the post, and it is properly attributed and linked. It is not yet an historically important image, but stranger things have happened.)