Archive for the ‘WMDs’ Category
Almost everyone knows about the atomic bombing of Hiroshima during the second world war. Few know the name of the other city bombed just three days later. Sixty two years ago today in the second (and so far the last) nuclear attack in history, America dropped the “Fat Man” atomic bomb on the city of Nagasaki, Japan. Today with the possible use of nuclear weapons being used under discussion for the first time since the end of the cold war, I thought it was a good time to review this unpleasant topic.
The blast killed between 70 and 80 thousand people instantly. As nuclear weapons go, Fat Man was a small bomb, the yield was the equivalent of 21 thousand tons of TNT. That’s about what could be carried in 200 railroad boxcars, quite a bang for about 14 pounds of explosive. The blast reached 3800C (7000F,) winds generated were over 1000 kph (700 mph.) The blast occurred at about 450 M (1500 feet) above the ground. Someone was sitting on the steps of the Sumitomo Bank about 250m (250 yards) from the explosion. What is left of him or her is pictured above.
While killing hundreds of thousands of civilians, including hundreds of American POWs, the nuclear attacks on Japan hastened the end of the war and saved countless American lives. That at least is the rationale for the bombing that was developed and promulgated shortly after the war. It’s still debated today, many stick to the “saving American lives” line, while others suggest that the bombs were more intended to impress the Russians and/or to get Japan to surrender before the Russians “liberated” huge swaths of Japanese occupied China/Korea.
This is all of course self serving poppycock, as anyone who has any knowledge of history should acknowledge. Americans for the most part reviled the Japanese before and during the war, this was an era where blatant racism was acceptable. The atom bombs specifically were revenge for Pearl Harbor and generally were payback for Japanese atrocities throughout the war. People who say differently are deceiving themselves. (Even when I was in the service in the 70s a popular T-shirt had a picture of a mushroom cloud and the caption “Remember Pearl Harbour. Hiroshima, Nagasaki…they had it coming.”)
Just for grins, those who proffer the “military necessity” story have to explain away why General Eisenhower, General MacArthur, Admiral Nimitz, and many other high ranking US commanders opposed the dropping of the bomb:
“…I voiced to him my grave misgivings, first on the basis of my belief that Japan was already defeated and that dropping the bomb was completely unnecessary, and secondly because I thought that our country should avoid shocking world opinion by the use of a weapon whose employment was, I thought, no longer mandatory as a measure to save American lives.”
Dwight D. Eisenhower (1890-1969) then Supreme Commander of Allied forces in Europe, future President of the United Sates
“The Japanese had, in fact, already sued for peace. The atomic bomb played no decisive part, from a purely military point of view, in the defeat of Japan.”
Chester W. Nimitz (1885-1966) Commander in Chief of the U.S. Pacific Fleet
Like all atrocities, the nuclear attacks on Japan were a choice, not a necessity.
In final ironic note, few know that unlike the Hiroshima bomb, the Nagasaki bomb missed its target, the city centre, by two miles. This is why fewer people died in this blast as opposed to the 90 thousand or more that died at Hiroshima. By missing the city by two miles the USA did hit another target spot on, the Nagasaki bomb detonated directly over the largest Christian community in Japan. Only a few of them survived. I still don’t know what to think about that, but it’s certainly something for Christians to ponder.
(The above image of the smudge left by a vapourized human being is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. It is not being used for profit, it is central to the subject of the post, and it is an historically important image. The steps and last “remains” of this unknown person are now preserved in the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum.)
OK, I’ve been a bit remiss here lately, we’ll see if I can’t get back up to speed. I have all sorts of half written posts, but seeing as I have been gone for a bit, I’ll just be lazy today and go over a few headlines and see if I can’t flense a few interesting observations from the news.
Al Qaida likely to attack the USA. You think? Gee, there’s news. This warning comes from the same people who let Al Qaida fly four airliners past our defenses last time, so I suppose it’s a distinct possibility. Dozens, maybe hundreds will die. Of course hundreds of Americans die every day, many from entirely and easily preventable causes. In fact some fourteen million Americans have died since 911, so let’s try to keep things in perspective here. I predict that Al Qaida and it’s offshoots will continue to attack America as long as we have boots on the ground in the Middle East. That’s what they promise, it makes perfect sense, and it’s a damn shame that only one American politician has the balls to say so.
Britain Expels Four Russian Diplomats. Putin refuses to hand a suspect over to Britain in the mysterious case of the Russian dissenter who was murdered with radioactive polonium. The Russians have been baring their teeth all around lately, withdrawing from a major European arms treaty for example. Let’s see, the USA promised them we wouldn’t expand NATO eastward after the collapse of the Soviet Union. We lied, and have expanded NATO up to Russia’s borders. And we are deploying a modern first strike weapons system on their borders, I would feel threatened too. Yes, it’s a “missile defense” system against Iran. Snort. Being conveniently deployed on the Russian border where it would be crucial in shooting down the handful of Russian missiles that survive a US first strike. Nothing defensive about it, in fact it might even trigger a Russian first strike if they think a US attack is imminent. This has always been the biggest lie about missile “defense,” there’s nothing defensive about it, it’s the ultimate first strike weapon system. Feel safer yet?
There’s been a lot of problems in Pakistan with militants. Hard to say how bad it is, the hinterlands of Pakistan have never really been under government control for starters. Bush however in his infinite wisdom has a plan to make the situation far worse. He plans to distribute nearly a billion dollars of aid in the tribal regions of Pakistan to buy their loyalty and alienate the Taliban. We all know how well this plan worked in Somalia and Palestine, people taking the aid were seen as tools of the west and were swept from power, massively increasing the power of radical Islamists in both regions. So the only question is whether Bush and his advisers are trying to trigger an Islamist revolution in Pakistan, or have they simply learnt absolutely nothing from their failures to buy loyalty with cash elsewhere? I can’t think of another possibility. Aside from the old observation that one definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results.
Lots of bad news on the pollution front, it’s even so bad that it’s seeping through to the news. Terrible news from China, and an “island” of plastic trash in the Pacific bigger than Texas. The environmental movement is under hard times. With a one two punch of cleaning up the worst visible pollution and marginalizing and ridiculing environmentalists in the media, and corporations can continue to destroy the world without anyone being the wiser. I plan to blog on this more in the future, but it’s so depressing I hardly ever have the strength. Intelligent educated people have been hoodwinked into thinking that there is something wrong with being concerned about the environment. The mind reels.
In the good news front, the DOW Jones index is hitting record highs. My stock market guy says that most stocks are actually owned by the corporations themselves, so this just means the rich are getting even richer. OK, so it’s not really good news after all, unless you were already very well off. I know, I can see the cloud behind every silver lining, that’s why I named the blog Doug’s Darkworld.
(The above image of plastic debris on Aldabra Atoll is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. It is not being used for profit, it is central to illustrating the post, and in no way interferes with the distribution of the parent program, the Voyage of the Odyssey. Credit: Chris Johnson. Aldabra Atoll is one of the remotest islands in the Indian Ocean, plastic pollution is a serous world wide problem.)
The UN Security Council and the US are about to officially certify that Iraq did not have any banned WMDs. I see that exactly one paper in the so called “liberal media” is carrying this story. Gee, one would think that the official acknowledgement that the American casus belli for America invading Iraq never existed would be well covered by the news? Apparently not. I mean, it is an awkward situation. Hundreds of thousands are dead, millions are displaced, hundreds of billions of dollars have been borrowed and spent…and our justification turns out to have been in error?
Oops. I guess it’s too late to say we’re sorry? Of course some of us knew before the invasion that Iraq had no WMDs. Let’s review quickly: Iraq had no conceivable use for WMDs, Iraq had excellent reasons not to develop WMDs, Iraq had no realistic way of obtaining or building WMDs. So the Bush administration was either hopelessly out of touch with reality, or was lying to justify a war. In either case, we’re screwed.
I may even blog less about the war from now on. I mean, this is the final nail in the coffin. The invasion of Iraq was at best a catastrophic miscalculation, the light at the end of the tunnel isn’t even visible using the Hubble Space Telescope. Bush’s surge will be the high water mark of the American Empire, like the disastrous Pickett’s Charge was the high water mark of the Confederacy.
The other thing that shows how hopeless the situation is, is the steadily increasing use of air power in Iraq and Afghanistan. Air power is a sign of desperation when fighting an insurgency, it’s like using a flamethrower to get rid of the cockroaches in a house. Insurgents are very difficult to find and bomb, and every time a stray bomb kills a bunch of kids, the insurgents get more support. Try to imagine if the authorities responded to a crime on your street by bombing a house that held “suspected criminals,” killing innocent woman and children in the process.
In a final note of transcendent absurdity in this situation, as part of the certification process the UN Security Council is going through, the Maliki government in Iraq has to promise it will not develop WMDs! I couldn’t make this shit up if I tried.
(The above Mathew Brady photograph of the aftermath of Pickett’s Charge is public domain under US copyright law.)
Well, I’m in a terrible mood today. Looking at the news isn’t helping. So I thought I’d drop my usual cheery optimistic outlook on the world, and see what I can imagine if things get ugly. Maybe this will be cathartic, hopefully it won’t be prophetic. I still stick to my belief that when American tanks crossed into Iraq, we were in the run up to a world war. “The Phony War has begun” as one friend put it. Will the real war start this summer? This is my nightmare…
Seven Summer Days
Preamble: The violence in the occupied territories has spun out of control as Hamas shot its way back into power. American casualties continued to rise in Iraq and Afghanistan, with Washington increasingly blaming Iran. The violence on TV, and a few well publicized attacks against Christian institutions on the West Bank spark increasing calls from many western parties for someone to “do something.” Some vaguely worded but basically toothless UN resolutions are passed to no effect. Iran continues to defy US demands that it suspend its nuclear program.
Day One. On July fourth someone does something. The USA attacks Iran with one of the largest airstrikes in modern history, including the use of bunker busting nuclear weapons to destroy hardened nuclear sites. Israel simultaneously launches a full scale “humanitarian” intervention in the West Bank and Gaza strip. Images of Israeli tanks rolling into Palestinian territory, nuclear bombs going off in Iran, and Bush announcing the “final battle” in the “War on Terror” flood the media. “Unconditional surrender or we will use nucular weapons on you” is the choice Bush gives to the “terrorists…” Hezbollah, the Taliban, Iran, Syria, Hamas, and Al Qaeda are among those given this ultimatum.
Almost immediately there are anti-American demonstrations and attacks on Americans throughout the world wherever there are large Muslim populations, millions of people take to the streets in Pakistan and burn the US Embassy, and in Iraq the Maliki government and Army basically disappear. Iran and Hezbollah begin scattered rocket and missile fire against Israel and US installations in Iraq and on the Gulf coast, to little immediate effect.
On day two the American bombing campaign continues in Iran, the Iranian government doesn’t respond to Bush’s ultimatums. Al Sadr announces the creation of the “Islamic Republic of Iraq” and gives the Americans a counter ultimatum, call off their attack on Iran and begin pulling out of Iraq within 24 hours or he will call for war with America. Israeli troops swiftly move through the occupied territories, but Hamas and Fatah urban strongholds resist fiercely. De facto civil war breaks out in Lebanon. An Osama Bin Laden Tape is released announcing that retaliation against America will take place. The rocket fire from Hezbollah and Iran increases.
On day three Sadr announces “jihad” on America. Within an hour a small nuclear weapon is detonated over Sadr City, origin unknown. Iraq rises in full scale revolt against Americans, who dig into their fortified bases. The central Iranian government is still missing, but Revolutionary Guards units have seized local control throughout the country. In Pakistan, a military coup removes Musharraf from office and declares martial law. Rumours that fallout from the Sadr bomb drifted over the Green Zone or that an American ship has been sunk are denied by the White House.
Day four. Conventional American and Israeli bombing continues in Iran, Iraq, Palestine, and Lebanon. Pictures of Muslim atrocities against westerners flood the air waves, few note that for every westerner killed, hundreds of Muslim civilians have been killed by western air strikes in Iran, Iraq, and Palestine. Pro and anti war demonstrators clash in several American cities. Pictures taken from Al Jazeera flood the media, apparently showing an American warship exploding. The Pentagon eventually announces that a US frigate was struck by a Chinese made Iranian silkworm missile on the second day of the war, exploding and sinking, with the loss of over 100 crew, the worst US Navy battle loss since World War Two.
Day Five. The USA vetoes a Chinese/Russian UN resolution calling for an immediate end to hostilities by all combatants. The bombing continues, the US striking Iranian oil facilities for the first time. The price of oil and gas, already rising, hits historic highs. Pakistan remains relatively calm, as does Afghanistan. Israel announces it has established control in the West Bank and Palestine, an Israeli intervention in Lebanon is rumoured to be in the offing. Some now notice that missile and rocket fire from Hezbollah and Iran has been slowly increasing in quantity and accuracy.
Day Six. President Ahmadinejad emerges in Iran, widely believed to have been killed in the original attack, his re-appearance on Iranian TV sparks new anti western rioting throughout the Muslim world. Indonesia, Egypt, and Algeria (among others) declare martial law. Iran declares war on the United States, Iraq does the same within hours. Throughout the world Shia and Sunni clerics and leaders bury the hatchet and announce the expulsion of “the Zionist forces” from the Middle East. This time Ahmadinejad is quite explicit, he is calling for the utter destruction of Israel, the time for regime change is over. Taliban forces are reported to be marching unopposed into some Afghan towns, Karzais western backed troops fleeing or even joining them, western air power fully occupied defending America’s now besieged bases in Iraq.
Day Seven. American wakes up to the news that Al Qaeda has detonated a crude “dirty bomb” in Duluth, apparently smuggled in from Canada. The damage and casualties are minor, trivial really, but the media goes wild, within hours there is anti Muslim and anti liberal rioting in a dozen major US cities. That evening Bush declares martial law, gasoline rationing, the suspension of the constitution, and national conscription. Before the TV news and Internet are shut down the last thing Americans see is the American embassies burning in Turkey and Egypt.
It gets worse from there. Is this a likely scenario? Dear God I hope not. Is it possible? Certainly. Is it likely? Beats me. Sweet dreams everyone!
(The above image is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. It is not being used for profit and is central to illustrating the post. Credit: Daniel ©2005-2007 *I-NetGraFX)
Some would say no. Some would say it’s already too late. I wonder myself sometimes. Another day, another collection of odd articles in the news to comment on. Or an odd guy commenting on articles in the news I suppose. In no particular order, but eventually getting somewhere, today’s news and ramblings:
The US army is developing a giant robot teddy bear to evacuate the wounded from the battlefield. On the one hand, I suppose this is a good thing. On the other hand, gee, the Army has money to spend on incredibly expensive stuff like this, but then the wounded are sent to a vermin infested hospital where the government goes to great lengths to avoid spending money on their care? I think there’s some misplaced priorities here. I’m sorry, but this kind of insane spending for technological gadgets is what is wrong with the Army.
Apparently several thousand Turkish troops crossed into Iraq yesterday in pursuit of Kurdish Freedom fighters. The USA warned Turkey not to do this, and once again George’s bluff has been called. While the incursion is limited and not (yet) the whole scale intervention that had been feared, it may be a harbinger of things to come. It complicates and weakens the American presence in Iraq, and is another fine example of how occupying Iraq has limited America’s options and left us in a position where even our allies are taking advantage of our weakness.
Speaking of Iraq, the Iraqi parliament passed a law that if it goes into force will give the Iraqi government a say in whether the mandate allowing the US occupation of their country will be extended when it expires in six months. That could be interesting. In a similar vein, Iraqi oil workers have gone on strike protesting their working conditions and the fact that they are getting no say in the oil law that the US is pressuring the Maliki government to enact. This law, purported to fairly divide up Iraq’s oil, would be the most generous oil contract US companies have ever gotten in the Middle East. Some seventy percent of the profits from Iraqi oil would go to US companies. Well, if this oil law passes, we know then who really won the war.
There’s breaking news that the G8 nations have reached a compromise deal on global warming and CO2 emissions. It’s a good sign I suppose, though it may already be too late. In the past few weeks new reports are coming in that the Arctic, Greenland, and Antarctica are all warming much faster than the models can account for. In other words, it looks like global warming is proceeding faster than even the alarmists predicted. I can’t help but think that when the alarmists underestimated how bad things are, it means we’re really, really, hosed. On the other hand, it does seem to be lighting a fire under various world governments, so stay tuned.
There’s been major fighting in Sri Lanka, one of the world’s longest civil wars. Why they don’t just give the Tamil’s their independence is on the one hand baffling, on the other hand just normal for organized government. At some point sanity will prevail, since it should be clear to both sides that a military solution isn’t going to happen. Sri Lanka and it’s interminable civil war is sort of the world in a microcosm. I should be noted that this is an ethnic conflict, propaganda aside ethnicity, not religion, is the primary motivation for murdering your neighbours on this fine planet of ours. There’s also fighting in Lebanon and Gaza, same comments apply basically. I’m nearly 50 and wars seem as stupid now as when I was 13, am I missing something?
In media news the TV show Jericho has been uncancelled. In real life something worse than 911 is almost unthinkable, but watching it on TV helps. And in real life the USA told Iran that we would hold them responsible for another Al Qaeda attack on US soil. Since Al-Qaeda wants the US to attack Iran, isn’t this like waving a red flag in Al Qaeda’s face? And if we can’t prevent an Al-Qaeda attack on the US, how the hell is Iran supposed to? I find this a little worrisome, are we being set up for something? I have bad feelings about the rest of Bush’s term in office, I sure hope I’m being paranoid and stupid.
(The above image is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. It is also claimed as public domain under US copyright law. It is not being used for profit, is central to illustrating the post, and is an historically important image. The original painting is titled “The Scream” and is by Edvard Munch 1863-1944)
Another day, another blog. Sometimes I think I blog just so I can put off going to work in the morning. So the more I blog, the poorer I get. Sigh. The alternative is to run out in the streets and grab people and scream “wake up” at them. So in the greater scheme of things I guess I shouldn’t complain. Speaking of blogs, my quizzes continue to get lots of traffic so more are definitely on the way. My World War Two quiz is already my number two post ever, go figure. My most popular post ever is The Bible and Global Warming. Yes, I’m mystified too. I’m planning a Gulf War I quiz, that should be interesting. I think the ignorance level regarding the origins and outcome of that nasty little business is at stratospheric levels. It’s been called “The biggest drive by shooting in history” by some. And there is more than just one villain involved. Brace yourself.
Moving right along, today’s headlines. Well, Spain is suing a salvage company about a disputed shipwreck where $500 million in gold coins were recovered. The salvage company isn’t saying where they found the booty, so Spain is suing on the suspicion that it is from a Spanish ship. As an aside, anyone ever wonder how Spain went from being the richest country the world had ever seen to one of Europe’s poorest countries in just a few short centuries? For over a hundred years galleons laden with gold, silver, and jewels hauled unimaginable wealth back to Spain, what happened to it all? The answer is easy, while the Dutch and British and other colonial powers reinvested their colonial profits in infrastructure and corporations to further their colonial exploits, the Spanish nobility blew their money on consumer goods and cathedrals. Ah, but it was fun while it lasted no doubt.
The Taliban shot down a NATO helicopter, killing seven people. Being the closest thing that Afghanistan has had to a popular national government in decades, they’ll be back in power soon enough. NATO keeps responding to Taliban attacks with air raids, which kill civilians, which drives more people into supporting the Taliban. Imagine if the police responded to crime in your neighbourhood by bombing a few houses more or less at random, and you will pretty much understand why the “missions” in both Iraq and Afghanistan are doomed to failure.
Russia has fired a test missile as a warning to the US about the US installation of a “missile defence” system in Eastern Europe. They aren’t really worried, the USA has been spending hundreds of billions of dollars on “defence systems” since the forties that purport to defend against trivial or nonexistent threats. The new missile defence is more of the same, it won’t actually work but it does make tons of money for the defence industry. (In that sense it works like a charm.) The Russians no doubt are trying to encourage us to spend even more money on this junk and further bankrupt ourselves in the process. George Bush has never seen a weapons system he didn’t like, so were making great progress on that front.
It’s not really a headline, but there’s an interesting article detailing just what an expensive joke the Department of “Homeland Security” is. Some of us have known that from the start. The day after 911 the head of the FBI, CIA, and Air Force should have been fired. Hell, in some countries they would have been put up against a wall and shot, if we’d done that their replacements might have actually started doing their jobs, which was to defend America. Instead we pretended that a known enemy attacking a known target with a method of attack that had been discussed since at least 1970 was a “surprise attack.” And then we responded by adding yet another layer of bureaucracy to what was already the world’s most bloated government. Anyhow, do read the article, it’s not reassuring. I especially like how easy it is to smuggle nuclear material across the border, yeesh. I was joking when I said that Iran would have to Fedex a nuclear bomb to the US, apparently I wasn’t far off the mark.
And finally, holes have been discovered in Mars. The hole pictured about is about the width of a football field. No one knows how deep it is, it’s deep enough so that no sunlight reaches the bottom. It’s speculated that they may be the entrances to caves, which is certainly possible. (Caves can be formed by water or volcanic activity, Mars has both.) Yet another target for future investigation and the search for possible life on Mars. Tomorrow, legless lizards and dieting cats!
(The above NASA/JPL image is used within the legal guidelines for such images, as long as one doesn’t use a NASA image to say that NASA endorses a product or service…they may be used freely.)
Memorial service in Kuwait. Credit: DOD
Well, Prince Harry isn’t going to Iraq. Probably for the best, he would have been a magnet for attacks, and that’s not really fair to the troops that would have served with him. At least he was willing to go, which sadly can’t be said of much of America’s upper crust. In the fifties something like 50% of Yale graduates were veterans. Now it’s a few percent at best. It’s a shame really, this is one of the reasons I like the idea of national service. If the upper crust have to go through the military like everyone else, it’s going to keep them more in touch with what regular Americans are like. Plus with national service we’d have a much larger pool of veterans to call upon when we did need them.
Moving right along, I’m guessing now we aren’t going to be attacking Iran this year. There’s so many things that could go wrong I don’t think even Bush would risk it. And our troops in Iraq are way too vulnerable to Iranian attack if we start a shooting war with Iran. Some have suggested that Bush is more likely to attack next year after our troops are on their way out of Iraq. I suspect sometime this year we will announce a withdrawal schedule of some sort. The Army can’t maintain these sorts of losses forever, it’s stretched way too thin as it is. Of course if Bush had declared a draft after 911 we would be in much better shape now in that regard, why he didn’t still mystifies me. How can you have a war without a draft?
It’s too late though, the Bush administration blinded themselves with optimistic predictions about their war in Iraq, and is finally grasping what a mess they got themselves into. Some are saying we need to stay in Iraq until the Malaki government is a functioning secular democracy and can defend itself, but there doesn’t seem to be much chance of that happening anytime soon. Or ever. And we can’t afford to stay for years or decades more, this war on the other side of the world has been hideously expensive. Bush isn’t trying to win anymore, he’s trying to get out and pass the blame.
There really are no other options anymore, it’s just a matter of getting out without a complete debacle. I’m basically predicting now that the whole Iraq mess will end with a whimper and not a bang. Baring some other calamity like Pakistan having an Islamic revolution, Bush will let Congress twist his arm somehow and start pulling out this fall or next year. It’s pretty much standard American politics to postpone stuff like this, some 30,000 of our dead in Vietnam occurred after it was obvious that the South Vietnamese government was doomed.
Sadly too I predict that the right will blame the “loss” of Iraq on liberals, and ultimately this war will do more damage to our national psyche than Vietnam did. Many Americans don’t understand or don’t want to understand that God doesn’t take sides and sometimes things aren’t going to turn out the way we hoped. Just as in Vietnam, we launched ourselves into a war with little thought or understanding of what we were getting into, confident that our righteous cause could not fail. And like in Vietnam, we will not learn from our mistakes.
Depressing, but it could go a lot worse too. Time will tell, I don’t have a crystal ball like so many talking heads seem to possess. All I can do is pray for the safe return of our soldiers and urge Americans not to turn on each other in these difficult times. If we blame each other for our failings, our enemies win by default.
(The above image of Captain Christopher Seifert’s memorial service, March 24, 2003, Kuwait, is a public domain DOD image. Courtesy of Geekphilosopher.com)