Saturday, January 13, 2007

Bush's Imperialist B.S.

The truly amazing thing about this article, is that much of Cabal News caught the Iran/Syria threat immediately, just as Mr. Roberts and many of us did. Cabal News used to be as much as 3 months behind people like Mr. Roberts.

(Sorry, I do not include Fox News, as I do not perceive Fox as a news channel anymore; more like Pravda on the Potomac.)

Bush is not merely a lame duck, he is a roasted turkey, whom everyone, with more than three neurons firing, sees as full of it.

By Paul Craig Roberts

01/12/07 "Information Clearing House"

Bush’s “surge” speech is a hoax, but members of Congress and media commentators are discussing the surge as if it were real.

I invite the reader to examine the speech.

The “surge” content consists of nonsensical propagandistic statements. The real content of the speech is toward the end where Bush mentions Iran and Syria. Bush makes it clear that success in Iraq does not depend on the surge. Rather, “Succeeding in Iraq . . . begins with addressing Iran and Syria.”

Bush asserts that “these two regimes are allowing terrorists and insurgents to use their territory to move in and out of Iraq. Iran is providing material support for attacks on American troops.” Bush’s assertions are propagandistic lies. The Iraq insurgency is Sunni. Iran is Shi’ite.

If Iran is supporting anyone in Iraq it is the Shi’ites, who have not been part of the insurgency. Indeed, the Sunni and Shi’ites are engaged in a civil war within Iraq. Does any intelligent person really believe that Iranian Shi’ites are going to arm Iraqi Sunnis who are killing Iraqi Shi’ites allied with Iran? Does anyone really believe that Iranian Shi’ites are going to provide sanctuary for Iraqi Sunnis?

Bush can tell blatant propagandistic lies, because Congress and the American people don’t know enough facts to realize the absurdity of Bush’s assertions.

Why is Bush telling these lies?

Here is the answer: Bush says, “We will disrupt the attacks on our forces. We will interrupt the flow of support from Iran and Syria. And we will seek out and destroy the networks providing advanced weaponry and training to our enemies in Iraq.”

In those words, Bush states perfectly clearly that victory in Iraq requires US forces to attack Iran and Syria.

Moreover, Bush says, “We are also taking other steps to bolster the security of Iraq and protect American interests in the Middle East. I recently ordered the deployment of an additional carrier strike group to the region.” What do two US aircraft carrier attack groups in the Persian Gulf have to do with a guerilla ground war in Iraq?

The “surge” is merely a tactic to buy time while war with Iran and Syria can be orchestrated.

The neoconservative/Israeli cabal feared that the pressure that Congress, the public, and the American foreign policy establishment were putting on Bush to de-escalate in Iraq would terminate their plan to achieve hegemony in the Middle East. Failure in Iraq would mean the end of the neoconservatives’ influence. It would be impossible to start a new war with Iran after losing the war in Iraq. The neoconservatives and the right-wing Israeli government have clearly stated their plans to overthrow Muslim governments throughout the region and to deracinate Islam.

These plans existed long before 9/11.

Near the end of his “surge” speech, Bush adopts the neoconservative program as US policy. The struggle, Bush says, echoing the neoconservatives and the Israeli right-wing, goes far beyond Iraq. “The challenge,” Bush says, is “playing out across the broader Middle East. . . . It is the decisive ideological struggle of our time.”

America is pitted against “extremists” who “have declared their intention to destroy our way of life.” “The most realistic way to protect the American people,” Bush says, is “by advancing liberty across a troubled region.” This, of course, is a massive duplicitous lie.

We have brought no liberty to Iraq, but we have destroyed their way of life. B

Bush suggests that Muslims in Afghanistan, Lebanon and Palestine are waiting and hoping for more invasions to free them of violence. Did Bush’s invasion free Iraq from violence or did it bring violence to Iraq? It is extraordinary that anyone can listen to this blatant declaration of US aggression in the Middle East without demanding Bush’s immediate impeachment.

Republican US Senator Chuck Hagel declared Bush’s plan to be “the most dangerous foreign policy blunder in this country since Vietnam.”

In truth, it is far worse. It is naked aggression justified by transparent lies. No one has ever heard governments in Iraq, Syria, or Iran declare “their intention to destroy our way of life.”

To the contrary, it is the United States and Israel that are trying to destroy the Muslim way of life. The crystal clear truth is that fanatical neoconservatives and Israelis are using Bush to commit the United States to a catastrophic course.

The Real Problem: Capitalism on Steroids or Imperial Corporatism.

This pretty much says it all!

By Charles Sullivan 01/12/07 "Information Clearing House"

Sometimes you look around and wonder how things could have gone so wrong so quickly. America has become the antithesis of everything she purports to be. We are the greatest purveyors of violence the world has ever known; the largest weapons dealers on earth; and death and misery are our principal exports. Everything is for sale here, even men’s tormented souls—at least, those who still possess them.

Our imperial leader, an impish little man with clear sociopathic symptoms, is incapable of empathy for the struggles of the common people, as those born into wealth and privilege often are. The man with his finger on the nuclear detonator is mentally ill, incapable of remorse—a fact that should terrify every world citizen. I do not say this out of malice or to demean the president; it is simply a statement of fact based upon quantifiable evidence that any student of psychology would easily recognize.

The fact that such a misfit could ascend to the presidency is testimony to the effectiveness of the capital system. Under capitalism, political power is not derived from the people, as would be the case in a democracy; nor does it not flow from the bottom up—it matriculates from the top down. It is really quite simple: The men and women who are in office were put there by people with immense wealth to represent the interests of the wealthy, to make money for them. And that is exactly what they are doing.

In many ways, George W. Bush is the perfect man for the job, if one understands what his real work entails as an emissary of the ruling class. He possesses all of the qualifications the vocation requires: callousness and indifference to the needs of others, the absence of conscience, truncated mental capacity; the inability to reason and to analyze; the incapacity to admit wrong doing; a penchant for cruelty that includes the enjoyment of inflicting pain and torture on others, as well as a powerful sense of nobility and entitlement that stems from being born into wealth and privilege.

He is also a pathological liar. From the president’s sickly perspective, the admission of failure is equivalent to a declaration of weakness and indecision, which explains his inability to change course, even if it means the destruction of America. Thus he has no guilt about sending thousands more men and women to kill and die in Iraq. You see, the president’s mind is defective. It does not work like the minds of normal human beings.

Corporate America placed George W. Bush in the White House to wage endless war; to bankrupt the federal treasury to the extent that few social programs will survive, and virtually all of our tax dollars will go into supporting the military industrial complex. The people who put him in office intend to end public ownership of the commons, as well as all government programs that do not directly benefit the wealthy. Let me clarify what this entails. If Bush and his handlers prevail in the class struggle, all social programs of value to the middle class and the poor, including Social Security, will be privatized and run for profit. The National Parks, National Forests, and all public lands will be privatized, and divvied up to private vendors such as the Disney Corporation. The public school system, like the public airwaves, will become for profit entities to serve corporate interests. Educating our children will be of secondary importance to the profitability of the corporations managing the schools. Every public service will be transferred to the private sector in order provide more wealth to corporate America at public expense.

We see the foundations of privatization being laid in Iraq by the war profiteers. Billions of dollars in stolen wealth are being hauled out of Iraq by the very same corporations that lobbied for war. War is money and in America money is power to control the political process. It is a vicious cycle that will not end until the people recognize it for what it is and rise up against it. Certainly no man of conscience or integrity could so easily betray the people of America he is sworn to serve.

That is why George W. Bush is the right man for the job and he is abetted by a compliant Congress acting under the influence of corporate lobbyists. But the president and his accomplices in Congress are only symptoms of a more pervasive disease that deeply afflicts our political system—capitalism. Class war is being waged simultaneously on many fronts and the dough keeps rolling in. Sources: Bush on the Couch: Inside the Mind of the President, Justin Frank, Harper Collins, 2004 Charles Sullivan is a photographer, free-lance writer and social justice activist residing in the Ridge and Valley Province of West Virginia. He welcomes your comments at

This is more than pathetic!

American troops may not only be responsible for actually carrying out the Bush "surge" plan. As reported in an AP story today, "Soldiers found themselves explaining the new U.S. strategy to Iraqis, many of whom said they hadn't seen Bush's speech on television because they had no electricity."

Of course, they didn't miss much of interest because nowhere in Bush's 20 minute rambling did he even mention words like electricity, power, energy, or restore.Azzaman, an Iraqi newspaper, reported the same day as Bush's speech that Baghdad - a city of nearly 6 million people - suffered a "total outage (as) the result of sabotage in which power lines feeding Baghdad were knocked out."

The most current news update on the official Iraqi Ministry of Electricity website appears to confirm the story."It is not only Baghdad that is plunged into darkness," Azzaman added. "The national grid is so rickety that no province in the country now enjoys non-interrupted" power. Even under regular conditions, Baghdad only receives about 4 hours of electricity each day.Rep. Dennis Kucinich recently noted that "after the first Gulf War, Iraqis reestablished electricity within three months, despite sanctions. Four years into the US occupation there is no water, nor reliable electricity in Baghdad." Azzaman also pointed out that the nation had more electricity under Saddam than the current regime.

Electric power is a staple of modern life in both the Western world and in much of the Middle East. Iraq has had electricity since 1917. Regardless of any progress we have made or hope to achieve in Iraq, we cannot expect to win any Iraqi hearts and minds if they are constantly "plunged into darkness."

Simply killing more bad guys will have little effect if people continue to maintain a substantially lower quality of life than when we showed up.


Friday, January 12, 2007

So, we are safer, eh?

Tony Snow was right about one thing: The whole world is watching

The whole world is against us., as well.

This, all because of G.W. Bush and his happy band of delusional NeoCons.

Well, at least these terrorists, whomever they are, went after the government and not citizens.

Hey, W.! There are consequences for more than elections! You do not own the freakin' world!


ATHENS, Jan. 12 — Shortly before sunrise today, a missile ripped through the United States embassy here, causing minor damage to the building but no injuries. The missile was fired from the street over a 10-foot high security wall, smashing the glass in front of the embassy and spraying debris inside.

“We have yet to locate the staging area of this rocket attack,” said Assimakis Golfas, the head police chief of the greater Athens area. “We are scouring the region, mainly buildings across from the embassy.”

Vyron Polydoras, the public order minister, said an anonymous caller, claiming to be a member of the Revolutionary Struggle terror group, had telephoned a local security company to claim responsibility for the attack, which occurred just before 6:00 a.m.

“We’re investigating whether in fact this claim is true,” Mr. Polydoras said after visiting the site.

Charles Ries, the American ambassador, said this morning that the embassy had not been warned of an attack.

“We can’t speculate who’s behind this,” Mr. Ries told reporters. “Still, treat it as a very serious attack. There can be no justification for such a senseless act of violence.”

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, in Washington, was awakened to the news that the embassy in Greece “was under attack,” an embassy official said.

The embassy said in a statement that it was hit by a missile. Mr. Ries said that the site was not occupied at the time of the attack and that it was now a crime scene under investigation by Greek authorities.Revolutionary Struggle, a Marxist group with strong anti-American sentiments, emerged in 2003, bombing an Athens courthouse complex.

The group remains the most active Greek terror organization since the downfall of the country’s most deadly urban guerrilla group, November 17, blamed for killing 23 people — including American, British and Turkish officials — and for dozens of bomb attacks.

Today’s hit against the United States mission was not unprecedented.

On Feb. 15, 1996, an anti-tank rocket hit an outside wall of the embassy, damaging three diplomatic vehicles. While no group claimed responsibility, American officials believe the attack was committed by November 17.

The November 17 guerrilla group was dismantled in 2002. Since then, however, a string of copycat terror cells have emerged, striking government buildings and foreign business interests.

This morning’s attack forced the embassy to re-evaluate its security, already among the tightest at American diplomatic missions.

The mission is surrounded by a high steel fence. Guards are posted at every entrance and at street corners around it.

Authorities this morning were searching apartment buildings near the embassy, a hospital and a nearby construction site for evidence that could explain how terrorists managed to penetrate the capital’s most guarded district and attack the mission.

Local residents called in to state television saying they had felt the powerful explosion, which shattered windows in the front of the building.

This morning’s explosion snarled traffic for more than three hours, as scores of policemen cordoned off streets around the embassy. Police helicopters monitored the sky, circling over the building.

A strong anti-American sentiment runs through a segment of the Greek population. Still, senior Greek government officials condemned the attack.

“Such actions in the past have had a very heavy cost for the country — moral, financial and for the international standing of the country,” said Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis, who visited the embassy after the blast. “The Greek government is determined to undertake every effort to not allow such phenomena to be repeated in the future.”

Herding Cats Toward a Green Harmony

Anyone, who does not believe, at this late date, that our planet and the human race is not in serious trouble, is either in denial or is an idiot.

Is what is happening on the planet part of natural cycles? Probably. Are we making the cycles more intense with our activities? Yes, probably.

Is there dire danger in continuing those activities, unregulated and unabated, as if science didn't exist? You bet there is, and the people living closest to the poles are already seeing the consequences.

Why do some people refuse to see reality, where this is concerned? Well, of
course, we can count on greed playing a role in this unreasonable thinking and behavior.

What is less obvious, is the disconnect from our origins. I'm not talking about family of origin or original nationality, though those origins are important, in some respects.

Right now, I am talking about our national origin. I am talking about our identity as a "can do" people; a people with vision, typical of people who move away from their homelands to come to a new country, because they have dreams for themselves and/or ideas for making life better for everyone.

As a nation, we have always been too adventurous, when it comes to taking valuable land and resources that do not belong to us, for my taste, instead of negotiating and being patient with a process toward the good of all.

This nation's government, in many of its incarnations, has been too quick to war, instead of finding the value in and of peace.

Lincoln warned us about the danger of corporate power, long before Hitler and Mussolini proved it, way beyond a reasonable doubt..

Eisenhower warned us about the Military/Industrial Complex; the beast that would have to be fed, constantly. As we have seen, over and over again, since Ike left office, feeding that beast is alot like throwing money down the toilet, or using the money as a fire starter, with which to burn down the house, more often than not.

Both of these good men were, seemingly, presceint.

Even, the man who led us down the road to splitting the atom, warned us, that the splitting of the atom changed everything, except the heart of man. Einstein was wise as well as a genius; a rare find in human beings.

By the time the oil crisis hit in the 70s, many of us already had a pretty good hunch, based on early scientific evidence and common sense, that the industrial revolution was taking its toll on the environment, as well as on society and culture. Industry is good, but it also polutes, unless it is regulated, to some degree, and made to act like good citizens, when its loyalty is to the bottom-line.

Richard Nixon and the congress of his day, started the EPA. Nixon may have gone off the deep end, but at least he had a functioning brain and was capable of seeing further than his nose and deeper than his pockets.

I was not a fan of Richard Nixon's, by a long shot, nor was I a fan of Lyndon Johnson. They both lied to the American people and to our elected representatives about something as important as war; the escalation and expansion of that miserable war in Southeast Asia, which haunts our minds, anew, today.

Johnson wanted to create the Great Society; one in which there would be real equality under our Constitution, for everyone. Johnson pushed through the Civil Rights Act, helped, I am sure, by the murder of the young, martyred president he replaced.

Both Nixon and Johnson did good things for the American people. Unfortunately, their attempt to deceive the people, and/or abuse their power, drove them both from office, eventually.

Now, we have an administration filled to the rim with officials who have deceived the American people into another hideous war, yet who have not done one clearly indentifiable good thing for the American people and, until this month, have been aided and abetted by a forthing-at-the-mouth, partisan congress.

We have an administration which certainly seems to hate science and finds it threatening, will go to any lengths to throw major wealth at their corporate cronies, while giving the people the shaft in every way possible; from Medicare D, to Hurricane Katrina and disaster-profiteering, to war-profiteering in Iraq, and god only knows where all else, to draconian bankruptcy laws (which favor their theory of evolution; socio-economic Darwinism), to some of the worst abuses of power I have seen in my lifetime.

We, the people, need to face the simple fact that we are not going to get any real leadership from the Bush administration on anything. The environment cannot wait for another two years. It may well be that we are already past the point of hoping or working for anything other than a soft landing.

We are, once again, on our own, just as we were when we faced off with the other King George.

So, let's remember who we are, when we are at our best, as a people.

David Roberts is a staff writer at Grist and contributes frequently to their blog, Gristmill. This is the first of a two-part attempt to present a potential unified agenda for greens. Part II will be published Thursday.

It is up to greens to make sure that in 2007, a year full of possibility on energy and environmental issues, change moves in the direction of long-term sustainability and justice. Powerful forces will be pushing the other way. They—chambers of commerce, dinosaur corporations, think tank and government shills—tend to speak in a unified voice.
The good guys—the side of clean energy and emissions reductions—are a rump coalition of liberal environmentalists, libertarian conservationists, conservative evangelicals, geeked-out entrepreneurs and paranoid defense hawks, among others.

That's a lot of cats to herd, and the green movement-that-isn't usually produces a cacophony. Diagnoses and solutions range wildly in spatial and temporal scale, emphasis, cost and feasibility. Everything from light bulbs to organic food, to flex-fuel cars to a carbon freeze tax—no, make that a cap-and-trade program—clamors for attention.

Before I suggest a positive agenda most elements of the green coalition can agree on (in my dreams, anyway), it's important to understand why circumstances are uniquely aligned for action, and forecast a few of the forces against which greens should consciously countervail.
Circumstances favor progress. Greens confront opportunities in 2007 that haven't come around since the energy crisis of the 1970s. A new consensus is coalescing.

Public awareness is high, thanks to Al Gore and whole cavalcade of events and media coverage this past year. In addition to a few counterintuitive new members of the green coalition (among them God and Wal-Mart), pop culture trendsetters embraced green as the new black.

Everybody's talking about it.

Virtually every winning Democratic candidate in the dramatic November elections was vocal about alternative fuels, energy independence, and (to a lesser extent) global warming, issues that have largely been stripped of their effete, elitist connotations. Particularly at the state and local level, Republicans are blazing environmental paths, part of the coast-spanning Schwarzenegger/Pataki Axis of Non-Crazy. Bush and his political appointees represent an increasingly isolated, reactionary anti-green corporatism. Green is emerging as one of the few areas ripe for efficacious bipartisanship.

Business elites have also seen a vision of our fossil-free future and are aggressively preparing for its arrival. Corporate behemoths like Wal-Mart, DuPont, and GE are focusing on efficiency. Venture capital is pouring into the clean energy sector. The mighty giant of American entrepreneurialism awakes.

Nonetheless, certain political and corporate interests hope to stall progress, or at least use it to further entrench and enrich themselves. There will be the obvious polluters and the old battles , but also a new set of politically-connected industries pushing solutions better for their bottom lines than the public interest. Only a united green front can counter their influence and push in more sustainable direction.

Ethanol. The recent hype around ethanol stands primarily to benefit Big Corn: Archer Daniels Midland alone stands to receive about $2 billion of direct or indirect government largesse in 2007. Big Auto's also getting a piece: For every "flex-fuel" car they crank out, American automakers receive a credit against their federal gas mileage requirements. They put those credits toward making more gas guzzlers while the vast majority of flex-fuel car owners don't even live in areas where E85 is available, much less use it.

Add to this the fact that corn ethanol's energy balance is modest in the most optimistic assessments. Not to mention that corn production is environmentally devastating. Not to mention that ramping up ethanol will increase food prices, and there isn't enough arable land in the U.S. , even if we wanted to level all of it for chemical-intensive monocrops, to supply both sustainably.

Different green constituencies will offer varying levels of support to corn ethanol and its much-discussed but rare successor, cellulosic ethanol. But they should all be able to agree that the backing of multiple large corporate lobbies and a network of powerful farm-state legislators is enough for ethanol, and other, less-heralded sustainability options would benefit from their attention.

"Clean" coal. Following closely behind ethanol on the energy hype scale is coal liquefaction at what are commonly referred toIGCC plants, usually accompanied—at least rhetorically—by carbon sequestration. Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle plants burn somewhat cleaner and can more easily separate out the CO2 so that it can be injected underground. This is how coal companies justify their continued existence.

But where are the IGCC plants adjoined by working sequestration operations? Good luck finding them. IGCC technology is substantially more expensive than traditional coal plants. Sequestration, which is highly speculative, adds another 30-60 percent to the cost, along with huge new demands for energy and water. Meaningful commercialization and deployment are likely decades away. Even if that bright day arrives, "clean coal" still involves the environmental devastation of coal mining, the generation of substantial mercury and particulate pollution, and a per-kilowatt energy costs no better than wind and far worse than energy efficiency.
Nuclear power. The threat of climate change has given the nuclear industry its best talking point since "too cheap to meter" went inoperative. A few fear-stricken greens have fled into the nuclear embrace, much to the delight of man-bites-dog loving pundits.

But nuclear's problems have gone nowhere. Each nuke plant is fantastically expensive, uninsurable, subsidized out the wazoo, vulnerable to terrorist attack or accident, and constantly generating waste that we still don't know what to do with. Nuclear is a market Frankenstein, kept alive with jolts of taxpayer cash and bully-pulpit support from political, military and business elites.

Note that all these are supply-focused solutions. The same focus is behind the perpetual push to drill and mine more places (offshore, ANWR, Rocky Mountains, Appalachian Mountains). It's behind the implacable opposition to carbon emissions limits. It goes to the very animating spirit of U.S. power elites.

The green agenda threatens all that. The decentralization and democratization of energy production and the development of a more conscious, thoughtful consumer lifestyle will yield an economy powered by less cheap oil and more valuable human labor—along with a foreign policy conducted from a position of security and independence. Justifications for imperial adventures will be harder to come by.

If greens hope to make any progress, they must use this time of immense possibility to join together and push in the same direction.

Excellent Article on the Psyhcology of Hawks and Doves.

Why are hawks so influential? The answer may lie deep in the human mind. People have dozens of decision-making biases, and almost all favor conflict rather than concession. A look at why the tough guys win more than they should.

Elizabeth Glassanos/FOREIGN POLICY:

Should Hawks Win?

Matthew Continetti of the conservative Weekly Standard and Matthew Yglesias of the liberal American Prospect square off in an FP web exclusive debate. Kahneman and Renshon respond to the debate here.

National leaders get all sorts of advice in times of tension and conflict. But often the competing counsel can be broken down into two basic categories. On one side are the hawks: They tend to favor coercive action, are more willing to use military force, and are more likely to doubt the value of offering concessions. When they look at adversaries overseas, they often see unremittingly hostile regimes who only understand the language of force.

On the other side are the doves, skeptical about the usefulness of force and more inclined to contemplate political solutions. Where hawks see little in their adversaries but hostility, doves often point to subtle openings for dialogue. As the hawks and doves thrust and parry, one hopes that the decision makers will hear their arguments on the merits and weigh them judiciously before choosing a course of action.

Don’t count on it.

Modern psychology suggests that policymakers come to the debate predisposed to believe their hawkish advisors more than the doves. There are numerous reasons for the burden of persuasion that doves carry, and some of them have nothing to do with politics or strategy. In fact, a bias in favor of hawkish beliefs and preferences is built into the fabric of the human mind. Social and cognitive psychologists have identified a number of predictable errors (psychologists call them biases) in the ways that humans judge situations and evaluate risks. Biases have been documented both in the laboratory and in the real world, mostly in situations that have no connection to international politics.

For example, people are prone to exaggerating their strengths: About 80 percent of us believe that our driving skills are better than average. In situations of potential conflict, the same optimistic bias makes politicians and generals receptive to advisors who offer highly favorable estimates of the outcomes of war. Such a predisposition, often shared by leaders on both sides of a conflict, is likely to produce a disaster. And this is not an isolated example. In fact, when we constructed a list of the biases uncovered in 40 years of psychological research, we were startled by what we found: All the biases in our list favor hawks.

These psychological impulses—only a few of which we discuss here—incline national leaders to exaggerate the evil intentions of adversaries, to misjudge how adversaries perceive them, to be overly sanguine when hostilities start, and overly reluctant to make necessary concessions in negotiations. In short, these biases have the effect of making wars more likely to begin and more difficult to end.

None of this means that hawks are always wrong. One need only recall the debates between British hawks and doves before World War II to remember that doves can easily find themselves on the wrong side of history. More generally, there are some strong arguments for deliberately instituting a hawkish bias. It is perfectly reasonable, for example, to demand far more than a 50-50 chance of being right before we accept the promises of a dangerous adversary. The biases that we have examined, however, operate over and beyond such rules of prudence and are not the product of thoughtful consideration. Our conclusion is not that hawkish advisors are necessarily wrong, only that they are likely to be more persuasive than they deserve to be.


Several well-known laboratory demonstrations have examined the way people assess their adversary’s intelligence, willingness to negotiate, and hostility, as well as the way they view their own position. The results are sobering. Even when people are aware of the context and possible constraints on another party’s behavior, they often do not factor it in when assessing the other side’s motives. Yet, people still assume that outside observers grasp the constraints on their own behavior. With armies on high alert, it’s an instinct that leaders can ill afford to ignore.

Imagine, for example, that you have been placed in a room and asked to watch a series of student speeches on the policies of Venezuelan leader Hugo Chávez. You’ve been told in advance that the students were assigned the task of either attacking or supporting Chávez and had no choice in the matter. Now, suppose that you are then asked to assess the political leanings of these students. Shrewd observers, of course, would factor in the context and adjust their assessments accordingly. A student who gave an enthusiastic pro-Chávez speech was merely doing what she was told, not revealing anything about her true attitudes. In fact, many experiments suggest that people would overwhelmingly rate the pro-Chávez speakers as more leftist. Even when alerted to context that should affect their judgment, people tend to ignore it.

Instead, they attribute the behavior they see to the person’s nature, character, or persistent motives. This bias is so robust and common that social psychologists have given it a lofty title: They call it the fundamental attribution error.

The effect of this failure in conflict situations can be pernicious. A policymaker or diplomat involved in a tense exchange with a foreign government is likely to observe a great deal of hostile behavior by that country’s representatives. Some of that behavior may indeed be the result of deep hostility. But some of it is simply a response to the current situation as it is perceived by the other side. What is ironic is that individuals who attribute others’ behavior to deep hostility are quite likely to explain away their own behavior as a result of being “pushed into a corner” by an adversary. The tendency of both sides of a dispute to view themselves as reacting to the other’s provocative behavior is a familiar feature of marital quarrels, and it is found as well in international conflicts.

During the run-up to World War I, the leaders of every one of the nations that would soon be at war perceived themselves as significantly less hostile than their adversaries. If people are often poorly equipped to explain the behavior of their adversaries, they are also bad at understanding how they appear to others. This bias can manifest itself at critical stages in international crises, when signals are rarely as clear as diplomats and generals believe them to be.

Consider the Korean War, just one example of how misperception and a failure to appreciate an adversary’s assessment of intentions can lead to hawkish outcomes. In October 1950, as coalition forces were moving rapidly up the Korean Peninsula, policymakers in Washington were debating how far to advance and attempting to predict China’s response. U.S. Secretary of State Dean Acheson was convinced that “no possible shred of evidence could have existed in the minds of the Chinese Communists about the non-threatening intentions of the forces of the United Nations.” Because U.S. leaders knew that their intentions toward China were not hostile, they assumed that the Chinese knew this as well. Washington was, therefore, incapable of interpreting the Chinese intervention as a reaction to a threat. Instead, the Americans interpreted the Chinese reaction as an expression of fundamental hostility toward the United States. Some historians now believe that Chinese leaders may in fact have seen advancing Allied forces as a threat to their regime.


Excessive optimism is one of the most significant biases that psychologists have identified. Psychological research has shown that a large majority of people believe themselves to be smarter, more attractive, and more talented than average, and they commonly overestimate their future success. People are also prone to an “illusion of control”: They consistently exaggerate the amount of control they have over outcomes that are important to them—even when the outcomes are in fact random or determined by other forces.

It is not difficult to see that this error may have led American policymakers astray as they laid the groundwork for the ongoing war in Iraq. Indeed, the optimistic bias and the illusion of control are particularly rampant in the run-up to conflict. A hawk’s preference for military action over diplomatic measures is often built upon the assumption that victory will come easily and swiftly. Predictions that the Iraq war would be a “cakewalk,” offered up by some supporters of that conflict, are just the latest in a long string of bad hawkish predictions.

After all, Washington elites treated the first major battle of the Civil War as a social outing, so sure were they that federal troops would rout rebel forces. General Noel de Castelnau, chief of staff for the French Army at the outset of World War I, declared, “Give me 700,000 men and I will conquer Europe.” In fact, almost every decision maker involved in what would become the most destructive war in history up to that point predicted not only victory for his side, but a relatively quick and easy victory.

These delusions and exaggerations cannot be explained away as a product of incomplete or incorrect information.

Optimistic generals will be found, usually on both sides, before the beginning of every military conflict. If optimism is the order of the day when it comes to assessing one’s own chances in armed conflict, however, gloom usually prevails when evaluating another side’s concessions. Psychologically, we are receptive not only to hawks’ arguments for war but also to their case against negotiated solutions.

The intuition that something is worth less simply because the other side has offered it is referred to in academic circles as “reactive devaluation.” The very fact that a concession is offered by somebody perceived as hostile undermines the content of the proposal. What was said matters less than who said it. And so, for example, American policymakers would likely look very skeptically on any concessions made by the regime in Tehran. Some of that skepticism could be the rational product of past experience, but some of it may also result from unconscious—and not necessarily rational—devaluation.

Evidence suggests that this bias is a significant stumbling block in negotiations between adversaries. In one experiment, Israeli Jews evaluated an actual Israeli-authored peace plan less favorably when it was attributed to the Palestinians than when it was attributed to their own government. Pro-Israel Americans saw a hypothetical peace proposal as biased in favor of Palestinians when authorship was attributed to Palestinians, but as “evenhanded” when they were told it was authored by Israelis.


It is apparent that hawks often have the upper hand as decision makers wrestle with questions of war and peace. And those advantages do not disappear as soon as the first bullets have flown. As the strategic calculus shifts to territory won or lost and casualties suffered, a new idiosyncrasy in human decision making appears: our deep-seated aversion to cutting our losses.

Imagine, for example, the choice between: Option A: A sure loss of $890 Option B: A 90 percent chance to lose $1,000 and a 10 percent chance to lose nothing. In this situation, a large majority of decision makers will prefer the gamble in Option B, even though the other choice is statistically superior. People prefer to avoid a certain loss in favor of a potential loss, even if they risk losing significantly more. When things are going badly in a conflict, the aversion to cutting one’s losses, often compounded by wishful thinking, is likely to dominate the calculus of the losing side. This brew of psychological factors tends to cause conflicts to endure long beyond the point where a reasonable observer would see the outcome as a near certainty.

Many other factors pull in the same direction, notably the fact that for the leaders who have led their nation to the brink of defeat, the consequences of giving up will usually not be worse if the conflict is prolonged, even if they are worse for the citizens they lead. U.S. policymakers faced this dilemma at many points in Vietnam and today in Iraq. To withdraw now is to accept a sure loss, and that option is deeply unattractive. The option of hanging on will therefore be relatively attractive, even if the chances of success are small and the cost of delaying failure is high.

Hawks, of course, can cite many moments in recent history when adversaries actually were unremittingly hostile and when force produced the desired result or should have been applied much earlier. The clear evidence of a psychological bias in favor of aggressive outcomes cannot decide the perennial debates between the hawks and the doves. It won’t point the international community in a clear direction on Iran or North Korea. But understanding the biases that most of us harbor can at least help ensure that the hawks don’t win more arguments than they should.

Daniel Kahneman is a Nobel laureate in economics and Eugene Higgins professor of psychology and professor of public affairs at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.

Jonathan Renshon is a doctoral student in the Department of Government at Harvard University and author of Why Leaders Choose War: The Psychology of Prevention (Westport: Praeger Security International, 2006).

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Is Bush Delusional or just a run-of-the-mill Sociopath?

I keep hearing pundits say that Bush really believes in what he is doing; that he does have some kind of messianic delusion about his War on Turr and really believes what he says.

I heard Lindsay Graham say an odd thing to John Dean when Dean testified before the Judiciary Committee. Graham was clearly agitated and red-in-the-face angry with Dean. He asked him if he believed that Bush, Cheney and their co-religionists in the "Cult of Neo-Conservatism" (not his words; mine) believed in what they were saying, that they really believed in what they are doing? Dean said he believed that they probably did. I know Dean has some pretty good inside sources. I doubt he has any, who really know, what George Bush really believes.

From everything I have heard, he does not reveal his mind, directly, to any but a small clique of people. We have had some indicators from insider reports, if they can be trusted. The Bush White House gang are some of the most clever leakers I have ever seen. (Oh yes, they have been caught a number of times, but it sure hasn't really hurt them until last November. They have been able, thanks to the American media and a GOP Congress, to keep this delusion going in the minds of enough Americans for long enough, so they would vote for Bush, in enough numbers to, at least, keep the vote close enough to flip with voting machine chicarnery and out- and-out vote suppression of minorities and others, whom they believed would to be more likely to vote for Democrats) .

They may be falling apart a little now. Sure seems like it.

I am to a point where I do not trust anonymous sources out of the administration, unless what they say rings true with that which I know to be true, because of bipartism evidence. The first book I read about this president was the first Woodward Book and the second was the Paul O'Neil book, by Ron Ruskind, for example.

Number 1: If that it is true, and the guy is really is delusional to the degree he would have to be, at this point, he needs to be out of the White House, yesterday. We do have a 25th amendment, which speaks to what needs to happen if, for any reason, a president is incapacitated, for any length of time at all (I'm not sure if there is a specific length of time mentioned, or if they left it kinda loose, as they usually do, when an amendment it wiritten about anyone's power.) If I am not mistaken, the amendment is a gift from the Eisenhower administration, I think, but I shall have to look it up, to be certain. (Wouldn't it be odd if the last really good Republican president we have had in my lifetime, who warned us implicitly, about the Military/Industrial Complex (the beast which must be fed, and is currently on a freakin' feeding frinzy, if that old General/president has gifted us with a relatively fast answer to our national nightmare).

The delusion would either have to be fully shared by those in his cabinet, or it is their reponsibility to ask for a 25th amendment hearing. I think that if that is the case, that Bush is delusional, his cabinet should be held accountable, with an iron mallet if they have allowed a truly delusional man to sit in the White House.

Number 2:

I have a hard time believing that he is delusional. I have even a harder time believing that we are dealing with a well developed, shared delusion in this situation, no matter how many times "group think" has been blamed for Iraq. No doubt there has been group think. Where can one find a group of authoritarians where there is not group think? Group think is not the same as delusion.

A president who is determined to keep diggin now, that he is 40 feet down into the 5th hell realm of foreign policy, and has heard, loud and clear, from enough dissent to break the windows right out of the White House, were it acted upon in a violent fashion, is either so delusional his cabinet could not miss it, or he is a sociopath, who is willing to sacrifice more lives, blood and treasure, both of Americans and Iraqis, for political reasons, both here at home and in the middle east. This is as much about Saudi Arabia as it is Israel, and it is about both.

Hell yes, it's about the oil. How could anyone ever have doubted that for a minute. But it was more about keeping supplies down, controlling the flow of oil, than it was about cheap oil. What oilman in his right mind would want cheap oil prices. Nor would any American oil man want to be paying Euros for oil. Talk about a kick to the solar plexus of the dollar.

I watch one delaying tactic after another. Every investigation report, is delayed until after one election or another. Why, for God's sake? Shouldn't we hear what the report says before we vote? But No! Reports are delayed for months, or just killed off. To say that reports from important investigations of any branch of our government, can't be released in an election year, because it would just be politics and confusing to the people, is an insult to the American people.

Is this guy just kicking this war of his down the road like a tin can, hoping the entire middle-east doesn't blow up on his watch, or is he determined to make it blow?

His history would lead me to believe that he, at least, would like to drop a huge mess in the lap of his replacement and disappear from sight.

Other than going into Iran, there is no way to get people's attention of the quagmire in Iraq.

Unless.....God forbid....there is another " new pearl harbor," on American soil or one of our naval vessels is sunk, in the Persian Gulf, a more heinous Gulf of Tonkin, one could say.

Someone needs to have a talk with Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney. They need to know, that we are already highly suspicious of the "new Pearl Harbor." A "new Gulf of Tonkin" would leave us with a fair certainty about the NeoCon agenda and just how it was all made possible. much to our everlasting regret.

In other words, Bush-critters, don't even think about it! Be warned!

If you try to keep pushing this failed, immoral policy down our throats, there will be a Constitutional confrontation. Count on it.

GWB plagerizes LBJ? This is just strange.

This is spooky, if you ask me.

Can't help but wonder if the White House staff knew about the date coincidence.

The big news story that night? President Lyndon B. Johnson's State of the Union address.
The topic that dominated all others: Vietnam.

I'm going to guide you to some excerpts of that address -- exactly 40 years ago tonight. See how it compares to some of the excerpts from President Bush's speech that were just released minutes ago:

LBJ, Jan. 10, 1967: We have chosen to fight a limited war in Vietnam in an attempt to prevent a larger war--a war almost certain to follow, I believe, if the Communists succeed in overrunning and taking over South Vietnam by aggression and by force. I believe, and I am supported by some authority, that if they are not checked now the world can expect to pay a greater price to check them later.

GWB, Jan. 10, 2007: Tonight in Iraq, the Armed Forces of the United States are engaged in a struggle that will determine the direction of the global war on terror – and our safety here at home. The new strategy I outline tonight will change America's course in Iraq, and help us succeed in the fight against terror.

LBJ, Jan. 10, 1967: I wish I could report to you that the conflict is almost over. This I cannot do. We face more cost, more loss, and more agony. For the end is not yet. I cannot promise you that it will come this year--or come next year. Our adversary still believes, I think, tonight, that he can go on fighting longer than we can, and longer than we and our allies will be prepared to stand up and resist.

GWB, Jan. 10, 2007: Our past efforts to secure Baghdad failed for two principal reasons: There were not enough Iraqi and American troops to secure neighborhoods that had been cleared of terrorists and insurgents. And there were too many restrictions on the troops we did have.

LBJ, Jan. 10, 1967: Our South Vietnamese allies are also being tested tonight. Because they must provide real security to the people living in the countryside. And this means reducing the terrorism and the armed attacks which kidnaped and killed 26,900 civilians in the last 32 months, to levels where they can be successfully controlled by the regular South Vietnamese security forces. It means bringing to the villagers an effective civilian government that they can respect, and that they can rely upon and that they can participate in, and that they can have a personal stake in. We hope that government is now beginning to emerge.

GWB, Jan. 10, 2007: Only the Iraqis can end the sectarian violence and secure their people. And their government has put forward an aggressive plan to do it.

LBJ, Jan. 10, 1967: This forward movement is rooted in the ambitions and the interests of Asian nations themselves. It was precisely this movement that we hoped to accelerate when I spoke at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore in April 1965, and I pledged "a much more massive effort to improve the life of man" in that part of the world, in the hope that we could take some of the funds that we were spending on bullets and bombs and spend it on schools and production.

GWB, Jan. 10, 2007: A successful strategy for Iraq goes beyond military operations. Ordinary Iraqi citizens must see that military operations are accompanied by visible improvements in their neighborhoods and communities. So America will hold the Iraqi government to the benchmarks it has announced.

LBJ, Jan. 10, 1967: We have chosen to fight a limited war in Vietnam in an attempt to prevent a larger war--a war almost certain to follow, I believe, if the Communists succeed in overrunning and taking over South Vietnam by aggression and by force. I believe, and I am supported by some authority, that if they are not checked now the world can expect to pay a greater price to check them later.

GWB, Jan. 10, 2007: The challenge playing out across the broader Middle East is more than a military conflict. It is the decisive ideological struggle of our time…In the long run, the most realistic way to protect the American people is to provide a hopeful alternative to the hateful ideology of the enemy – by advancing liberty across a troubled region.

LBJ, Jan. 10, 1967: A time of testing--yes. And a time of transition. The transition is sometimes slow; sometimes unpopular; almost always very painful; and often quite dangerous. But we have lived with danger for a long time before, and we shall live with it for a long time yet to come. We know that "man is born unto trouble." We also know that this Nation was not forged and did not survive and grow and prosper without a great deal of sacrifice from a great many men.

GWB, Jan. 10, 2007: Victory will not look like the ones our fathers and grandfathers achieved. There will be no surrender ceremony on the deck of a battleship…A democratic Iraq will not be perfect. But it will be a country that fights terrorists instead of harboring them – and it will help bring a future of peace and security for our children and grandchildren.

Not much to add here -- the words of Lyndon Johnson and George W. Bush pretty much speak for themselves.

Two things, though. First of all, only 7,917 American troop had died in Vietnam through the end of 1966, or ten days before Johnson's speech. From the beginning of 1967 though the end of the war, an addition 50,285 -- more than six times as many -- Americans would lose their lives.

Also, and we're not endorsing this action by any means, then or now, but it is interesting to note that in that 1967 SOTU, LBJ also called for a 6 percent surcharge on personal and corporate income taxes to pay for the cost of the war. That's a level of responsibility -- and yes, sacrifice -- for war that our current president is unwilling to take.

Find more like this over at Attytood

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

OMG, who are we and what have we done?

Just this week, the Bush administration is considering making a little futuristic news. The President might soon approve "a major step forward in the building of the country's first new nuclear warhead in nearly two decades," the Reliable Replacement Warhead. If only names were reality...

Critics are already claiming that the new "hybrid" design of the weapon, now planned to come on-line in 2012, will raise safety and other questions (and may someday lead to the resumption of underground nuclear testing). In other words, peering into our nuclear future, it's possible to imagine that -- to the tune of an estimated $100 billion -- the crucial word is likely to be "proliferation."

In fact, the future, as the military sees it, is simply filled to the brim with multibillion dollar American weapons systems of a sort that were once relegated to sci-fi novels for spacey boys. Now, they are the property of spacey generals, strategists, military planners, and corporate CEOs. Just a week ago, the Bush administration presented a supplemental military budget of nearly $100 billion to Congress to cover our ongoing disastrous wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as to replace equipment lost or worn out in both. But evidently Air Force officials, in a "feeding frenzy," just couldn't resist slipping in a futuristic ringer -- the funding, according to Jonathan Karp of the Wall Street Journal, for two of Lockheed Martin's F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, a high-tech plane still in development.

By the way, as Richard Cummings points out in a stunning recent piece on Lockheed in Playboy, Dick Cheney's son-in-law, Philip J. Perry, is a registered Lockheed lobbyist and his wife Lynne was on Lockheed's board until he became Vice President. On settling into Washington, George Bush appointed Lockheed's President and CEO Robert J. Stevens to his Commission on the Future of the United States Aerospace Industry. "Albert Smith, Lockheed's executive vice president for integrated systems and solutions, was appointed to the Defense Science Board. Bush had appointed former Lockheed chief operating officer Peter B. Teets as undersecretary of the Air Force and director of the National Reconnaissance Office," and that was just the beginning as the military-industrial revolving door spun wildly and the corporation made money hand over fist.

This month Tomdispatch is focusing special attention on the Pentagon, militarization, and the imperial path. Sunday, Nick Turse laid out Pentagon plans to fight crucial future battles in Baghdad 2025 and the mega-slums of other global cities. Today, Frida Berrigan of the Arms Trade Resource Center and a regular writer for this website, considers a range of weapons systems slated to come our way somewhere between tomorrow and 2040. If that's not ownership of the future, what is? Next week, stay tuned for a Michael Klare series on the militarization of energy policy. Tom

Raptors, Robots, and Rods from God
The Nightmare Weaponry of Our Future
By Frida Berrigan

We are not winning the war on terrorism (and would not be even if we knew what victory looked like) or the war in Iraq. Our track record in Afghanistan, as well as in the allied "war" on drugs, is hardly better. Yet the Pentagon is hard at work, spending your money, planning and preparing for future conflicts of every imaginable sort. From wars in space to sci-fi battlescapes without soldiers, scenarios are being scripted and weaponry prepared, largely out of public view, which ensures not future victories, but limitless spending that Americans can ill-afford now or twenty years from now.

Even though today the Armed Forces can't recruit enough soldiers or adequately equip those already in uniform, the Pentagon is committing itself to massive corporate contracts for new high-tech weapons systems slated to come on-line years, even decades, from now, guaranteed only to enrich their makers.

Future Combat Systems

The typical soldier in Iraq carries about half his or her body weight in gear and suffers the resulting back pain. Body armor, weapon(s), ammunition, water, first aid kit -- it adds up in the 120 degree heat of Basra or Baghdad.

Ask soldiers in Iraq what they need most and answers may include: well-armored Humvees (many soldiers are jerry-rigging their own homemade Humvee armor); more body armor (an unofficial 2004 Army study found that one in four casualties in Iraq was the result of inadequate protective gear), or even silly string (Marcelle Shriver found out that her son was squirting the goo into a room as he and his squad searched buildings to detect trip wires around bombs).

The same Army that can't provide such basics of modern war is now promising the Future Combat Systems network (FCS), a "family of systems" that will enable soldiers to "perceive, comprehend, shape, and dominate the future battlefield at unprecedented levels." The FCS network will consist of a "family" of 18 manned and unmanned ground vehicles, air vehicles, sensors, and munitions, including:

* eight new, super-armored, super-strong ground vehicles to replace current tanks, infantry carriers, and self-propelled howitzers;

* four different planes and drones that soldiers can fly by remote control;

* several "unmanned" ground vehicles.

Put together these are supposed to plunge soldiers into a video-game-like version of warfighting. The FCS will theoretically allow them to act as though they are in the midst of enemy territory -- taking out "high value" targets, blowing up "insurgent safe houses," monitoring the movements of "un-friendlies"-- all the while remaining at a safe distance from the bloody action.

To grasp the futuristic ambitions (and staggering future costs) of FCS, consider this: The Government Accounting Office (GAO) notes that "an estimated 34 million lines of software code will need to be generated" for the project, "double that of the Joint Strike Fighter, which had been the largest defense undertaking in terms of software to be developed."

In charge of this ambitious sci-fi style fantasy version of war are Boeing and SAIC (Science Applications International Corporation). They are the "Lead Systems Integrators" of this extraordinarily complex undertaking, but they are working with as many as 535 more companies across 40 states. They promise future forces the ability to break "free of the tyranny of terrain" and "an agile, networked force capable of maneuver in the third dimension" in the words last March of retired Major General Robert H. Scales in a Boeing PowerPoint presentation entitled "FCS: Its Origin and Op Concept."

Defense Secretary Rumsfeld once famously asserted, ''You go to war with the Army you have, not the Army you might want or wish to have." Pentagon planners seem to have taken the opposite tack. They prefer the military they, or their blue-sky dreamers, wish to have for the kinds of wars they dream about fighting. And it won't be cheap. A March 2005 GAO report found that the total program cost of Future Combat Systems alone "is expected to be at least $107.9 billion." In 2005, the Pentagon had already allocated $2.8 billion in research and development funds to FCS and, in fiscal year 2006, that was expected to increase to $3.4 billion. (Keep in mind, that all such complex, high-tech, weapons-oriented systems almost invariably go far over initial cost estimates by the time they come on line.)

"The Maserati of the Skies"

In 2006, the F-22 Raptor began rolling off the assembly line. The Air Force plans to buy 183 of these high-tech, radar-evading stealth planes, each at a price tag of $130 million, being manufactured in a joint venture between Lockheed Martin and Boeing. But it turns out that the $130 million per plane cost is just one-third of the total price, once development costs are factored in. The whole program is slated to cost the Pentagon 65 billion big ones. In July 2006, the Government Accountability Office asserted. "The F-22 acquisition history is a case study in increased cost and schedule inefficiencies."

Even if it were a bargain, however, it is a classic case of future-planning run amok. The plane was originally conceived to counter Soviet fighter planes, which haven't menaced the U.S. for more than 15 years. The plane itself is technologically awe-inspiring, reportedly having a twice-the-speed-of-sound cruising speed of Mach 2. (The Pentagon jealously guards its maximum speed as top secret.)

In 2007, the only reason the military might need such a plane is to outfight its predecessor, the F-16, which Lockheed Martin has sold to numerous countries that benefited from the corporation's vociferous lobbying for new markets and our government's lax enforcement of arms-export controls.

In this classic case of boomeranging weaponry, Lockheed Martin has triumphed three times: First, General Dynamics sold F-16 fighters to the Air Force beginning in 1976; second, Lockheed (which bought General Dynamics) sold the planes to Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Venezuela, and other nations from the 1980s to the present moment; and third, Lockheed Martin (having merged with Martin Marietta in 1995 and adjusted its name accordingly) now gets to produce an even higher tech plane for a U.S. Air Force that fears it might be outclassed by foreign military hardware that once was our own. The Bethesda-based company ended 2001 with a stock price of $46.67 a share -- and began 2007 at a celebratory $92.07.

The Next Generation Fighter

Of course, the lesson drawn from this is to produce yet more futuristic planes. The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, built by a team led (yet again!) by Lockheed Martin, made its initial flight on December 15, 2006. The total program could surpass $275 billion, making it the most expensive weapons program in U.S. history. Prime contractor Lockheed Martin is sharing the work and profits with partners Northrop Grumman and BAE Systems (not to speak of scads of subcontractors).

The Air Force already hails the F-35s "transformational sensor capability" and "low-observable characteristics" that will

"enable persistent combat air support over the future battlefield. Furthermore, [the] F-35 will help enable the negation of advanced enemy air defenses because it will possess the ability to perform unrestricted operations within heavily defended airspace."

Somewhere in there it is implied that this plane launches missiles that kill people, but it is very deeply embedded. Nowhere does it say that its opponent in the skies could be the F-22 Raptor, once it is sold to all those nations who find their F-16s woefully out of date.

What's Next Next Next Next?

Even with such spiraling, mind-boggling investments in advanced weapons systems, the aerospace industry is never satisfied. The quest for new justifications for ever "better" versions of already advanced weapons systems is the holy grail of the business. These justifications pile up in industry magazines like Aerospace America, the organ of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

In a typical article in that magazine, the industry makes much of a comment then-Air Force Vice Chief of Staff Gen. T. Michael Moseley made to Congress in March 2004. In charge of the U.S. air campaign over Iraq, he observed that most of the sorties originated from neighboring countries that were allies in Operation Enduring Freedom. But what if, he wondered, you wanted to go to war and there were no local allies willing to offer basing facilities. On the classic Boy Scout theory, be prepared, he promptly warned in written testimony to the House Armed Services Committee, "In the future, we will require deep-strike capabilities to penetrate and engage high-value targets during the first minutes of hostilities anywhere in the battlespace."

And he was only making a public point of already popular Air Force doctrine. The 176-page Air Force Transformation Flight Plan was issued in all its glittering verbosity in November 2003, bristling with a dismal, hyper-militarized view of the future. In it, Air Force planners envisioned a world with the United States even more embattled and unpopular than it was at that moment, and where we lacked all powers of persuasion to entice other nations to join future "coalitions of the willing."

The solution: new bombers that could fulfill those "deep-strike requirements" which, sadly, cannot be carried out by tomorrow's F-22 and F-35 fighter planes. (They "may not have enough range to attack critical ground targets far inside enemy territory, repeatedly, and under all circumstances.")

Not surprisingly, Lockheed Martin tried to knock two birds out of the sky with one stone, responding to criticism that the F-22 was irrelevant and too expensive, while rushing to meet the Air Force's perceived need for a new long-range bomber by suggesting yet another plane: the F/B (for fighter-bomber)-22. As they described it, in a vision of a kind of high artistry of death, this wonder of modern air war would even be capable of changing color to match the sky.

A January 2005 article in the Atlanta Journal Constitution gave Lockheed Martin visionaries a chance to share their chameleon of a "high-speed, high-altitude bomber" which could also change shape, becoming "slimmer and more aerodynamic as its fuel tanks drain on long-distance flights. It would be invisible to radar, carry precision bombs and missiles, and fly fast enough to outrun most fighters." Sounds cool, right? This might be one instance where the weapons designers and imagineers took a few steps too far into fantasy land. There has not been any progress on the idea since 2005, but don't be surprised if the chameleon fighter-bomber changes color and shape and soars again in the race for future weapons funding.

Even without the magical fighter-bomber, over the next eight years or so the Air Force imagines fielding systems like the Common Aero Vehicle-- "a rapidly responsive, highly maneuverable, hypersonic glide vehicle that would be rocket-launched into space" according to the Air Force documents. The CAV would be equipped with sensors and bristle with weapons it could launch from space against fixed and moving targets on land, and that could be delivered anywhere on earth within two hours.

As John Pike, a weapons expert and director of, told the Washington Post in March 2005, CAV programs will allow the U.S. "to crush someone anywhere in world on 30 minutes' notice with no need for a nearby air base."

Looking beyond 2015, the Air Force sees systems like the B-X Bomber; space-based Hypervelocity Rod Bundles (nicknamed "rods from God"), a mystical sounding system that promises "to strike ground targets anywhere in the world"; the Guardian Urban Combat Weapon, an "air-launched lurk and loiter reconnaissance, rotary winged, unmanned, combat air vehicle designed for urban warfare"; and the High Powered Microwave Airborne Electronic Attack, an "anti-electronics high powered microwave weapon against ‘soft' electronic-containing targets" that would be operated "from an airborne platform at military significant ranges."

The Air Force and the Army are not alone in imagining fabulously wild wars of the future and the multi-billion dollar weapons systems they can build to fight them. The Navy has its own gold-plated crystal ball. Their new KDD(X) program could end up totaling $100 billion for some 70 warships including destroyers, cruisers, and a seagoing high-tech killer called LCS (Littoral Combat Ship).

Generously, the Pentagon decided to give the project to two different ship building companies -- Northrop-Grumman Ship Systems (Ingalls, Mississippi) and General Dynamics (Bath Iron Works, Maine). According to the Pentagon's "Program Acquisition Cost by Weapons System," the DD(X) will include "full-spectrum signature reduction, active and passive self-defense systems and cutting-edge survivability features." At $3.3 billion for two ships in 2007, it better.

Building one ship in each location with each contractor raised the cost by $300 million per ship, according to GlobalSecurity.Org, but to members of Congress representing each district that is a small price to pay for maintaining "flexibility." In this business, one becomes accustomed to flexibility's magical spending properties. In its 2006 report, the White House's Office of Budget and Management commented that the Littoral Combat Ship and other systems mentioned above have a "high potential to meet current and future threats." Congress, where so much of the game is bringing the bacon (i.e. shipbuilding contracts) back to the Baths of the nation, wholeheartedly concurred. That was just about the sum total of the debate about these multi-billion-dollar ship systems, multi-million-dollar boons for a few companies, and the dark specter of the future threats these ships will theoretically protect us against.

Missile Defense: The Great Misnomer in the Sky

While many of the systems described so far are, at least, futures that, in some heated imagination, exist, the misnamed Ballistic Missile Defense System is moving full steam ahead despite being irrelevant, unworkable, and obscenely expensive in our less-than-futuristic present moment. The BMD program got another boost recently when incoming Defense Secretary Robert Gates gave it his full support, telling the Senate Armed Services Committee: "I know we've spent a lot of money on developing missile defense, but I have believed since the Reagan administration that if we can develop that kind of capability, it would be a mistake for us not to."

The mistake is wasting one more dime on decades-worth of failure and bombast that have cost an estimated $200 billion so far without producing a single workable system to shoot down an enemy missile or even the sitting-duck targets that have taken the place of such missiles in half-baked tests of the woeful project.

Missile defense funding is set to soak up another $9.4 billion in fiscal 2007 -- part of the Pentagon's ongoing corporate welfare system -- and the Defense Department's Future Years Defense Program report proposes that funding averaging $10 billion annually be continued for research and development of the system through… (this is not a misprint) 2024. (The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office projects that annual missile-defense costs will, in fact, increase to $15 billion by 2016.)

Nuclear Projections

And it is not just in the Pentagon where such blue-sky spending for an overarmed world is underway. Hidden in the innocuous sounding Department of Energy is the National Nuclear Security Administration, which has big plans laid through 2030. Their Complex 2030 vision, released in April 2006, sees a "responsive nuclear infrastructure" that can continuously dismantle and rebuild nuclear weapons, reducing their numbers and increasing their potency, while ensuring that, at any moment an American leader might want to destroy the planet many times over, nuclear production rates can be rapidly increased. The Department of Energy estimates that Complex 2030 will require a mere capital investment of $150 billion, but the Government Accountability Office suggests that, as with so many initial estimates for future weapons systems, that number was far too low. Even if the program cost only a dollar, it is but another typically dangerous and provocative step by the military-industrial complex that threatens, in this case, to encourage yet more global nuclear proliferation. Complex 2030 would, in fact, plunge us back into a Cold War atmosphere, but with far more nuclear-armed adversaries. It even promises a return to the underground testing of nuclear weapons and could require upping the production of new plutonium pits (the fissile heart of nuclear weapons).

What Do We Dream?

As engineers and physicists at Lockheed Martin and the Air Force dream up new weapons -- shaping bombers out of polymer and pixels -- politicians and Pentagoneers imagine the threats those super-bombers of the future will blast to bits.

Only the money -- billions and billions of dollars -- is real…

But as those billions are sucked away, what happens to our dreams of clear skies, cures for pandemics, solutions to global warming and energy depletion? To make more human dreams our future reality, we have to stop feeding the military's nightmare monsters.

Frida Berrigan ( is a Senior Research Associate at the World Policy Institute's Arms Trade Resource Center. Her primary research areas with the project include nuclear-weapons policy, war profiteering and corporate crimes, weapons sales to areas of conflict, and military-training programs. She is the author of a number of Institute reports, including Weapons at War 2005: Promoting Freedom or Fueling Conflict.

God, Help Us!

Well, duh..this all seems so damned obvious to most of us and has for many of us, for a very long time.

...Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; Mere anarchy is loosed
upon the world,The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere....

The ceremony of innocence is drowned;The best lack all conviction, while the worst....

Are full of passionate intensity...And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?
Y. B. Yeats, "The Second Coming"

In the Vietnam-War era, which was the crucible of activism for my generation, we had a devil of a time trying to get the Democratic Party to recognize the necessity for withdrawing our troops from that ill-advised, unwinnable war. With regard to Bush's misadventure in Iraq, it turns out not all that much has changed. The midterm election and many polls since have clearly demonstrated that Americans recognize that Bush's Iraq policy is and has been a thoroughgoing disaster -- from taking us into war based on lies and deceptions to the way the Occupation has been totally mismanaged. Our troops are now caught in the middle of a brutal sectarian civil war. But the Democrats appear to be divided about how to proceed: give Bush one last chance to "win," whatever that may mean, or start pulling out our troops while we still can with at least a shred of dignity.

Given this situation, the time for politeness, for speaking around the truth, is gone. Civility yes, holding one's tongue, no. Not while more and more young Americans are dying in Iraq, 3000 to date, with an estimated 25,000 maimed; not while up to 3000 innocent Iraqi civilians are being slaughtered every month; not while billions of dollars each month (half-a-trillion! total so far) are being siphoned from the U.S. treasury, and vital social programs, to pay for this moral monstrosity of a war. And definitely not while CheneyBush are determined to send tens of thousands more U.S. troops into Iraq's civil-war hellhole.The "surge" scenario is one written to satisfy the Administration's political goals, not one expected to change much on the ground in Iraq, which is why so many military leaders are opposed to it. Clearly, the "surge" is a public-relations, fig-leaf operation to cover Bush's embarrassing exposure of mendacity and fecklessness.


If we all spoke something like the truths discussed below, our words would not change the minds of the Bush Bunker crowd; they've set their course, and intend to stay that course. But such truths surely are catching the attention of Republican powers-that-be and office-holders, who saw what happened to their ilk in the midterm elections over the Iraq issue. They would like to keep their jobs and influence in 2008 and perhaps have a shot at getting back in power. It will be those Republicans who are best able to get the message through to the Bush Administration on the necessity for drastic changes in policy -- only a small chance of that happening -- or, even more far out, to get Cheney and Bush to resign. Definitely not going to happen. If it comes to it, they seem willing to take the country and Constitution down with them.With no major foreign or domestic victories to his credit, Bush's legacy is Iraq, and he doesn't want to leave office with yet another "loser" sign slapped on his back. Ergo: the "surge," one last attempt to stabilize the stalemate in Iraq. Best-case scenario for the Bushistas: something, anything, that can be called a "victory." Alternative best-case scenario for Bush: The "surge" takes two years to fully unfold, and the inevitable U.S. defeat in Iraq happens on the next President's watch.For the Bush Administration, those two alternatives would be a win-win, and to get there our brave young men and women in uniform will just have to "sacrifice" -- in many cases, their lives -- for the Bush cause.So here are five truths that need to be aired, and their implications:


CheneyBush and their cohorts have decided to ignore the voters with regard to Iraq, ignore the military, ignore the troops, ignore the allies, ignore the experts, ignore reality on the ground in that country, and are moving America full-speed over the cliff of catastrophe. As Democratic Sen. Joseph Biden suggested the other day, the Bush Administration is willing to sacrifice thousands of more young American troops as long as it delays the inevitable U.S. retreat from Iraq until after the 2008 election. And, to sweeten the pot, Bush -- per usual, years late and smarts-short -- is advocating a jobs program for young Iraqi men. Might have worked in 2003, ain't gonna work in 2007. The Bush-botched situation is way beyond that now, deep into outright sectarian warfare.


Since CheneyBush and their court lackeys are determined to try to stalemate the war in Iraq for another two years, and have the power to do so -- fully aware that Iraq is a lost cause (see Biden link above ) --there are only three ways to stop them.A. Cut off funding for the escalation. Speaker Pelosi and Rep. John Murtha are flirting with this idea of putting restrictions on the use of appropriations for the Iraq War. This in order to make sure that funds are spent for the drawing down of U.S. troop levels, rather than for the introduction of more soldiers. And, to avoid the charge of "not supporting our troops," the Democrats will continue to fund the soldiers currently in Iraq.Congress could pass a bill requiring that the Administration consult with the appropriate committees before major shifts of policy occur in Iraq. Bush might veto, or ignore, such a resolution, of course, but at least he'd be on the record as impeding the effort to close down a war that the American public, in the election and in poll after poll, has decided is not worth continuing.B. Impeach Bush and Cheney for their high crimes and misdemeanors, which would include their lying and deceiving Congress and the American people into supporting the 2003 invasion and occupation of Iraq and the escalation of the war in 2007.Impeachment may or may not have traction at first, but it will grow as the congressional committees, chaired now by Dems, hold hearings on Bush policy and corruptions; besides, if the Administration is forced to deal full-time with impeachment, they will have less time and energy to focus on getting involved in mischief elsewhere. C. Refuse to participate in this politically-motivated escalation of the Iraq War. Rather than waiting to be fired for indicating that the "temporary" surge (which rightwingers correctly define as at least 18 months and probably longer) is a reckless, doomed idea, let there be mass resignations at the Pentagon, with the generals and colonels publicly denouncing the escalation madness.To stanch the flow of increasing opposition, Bush and Cheney have cleared the Administration's decks of anybody but pro-escalation loyalists; Generals Abizaid and Casey, both of whom have questioned the wisdom of escalation, are gone, and perhaps the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who reportedly are leery of implementing a politically-motivated "surge," may be on the chopping block next. Public support for the "surge" is at about 11%; not even Bush's base is buying in. Republican politicians already are out there with their opposition, and it's not just conservatives Chuck Hagel and Gordon Smith and Norm Coleman anymore. Hard-Rightists Ollie North and Heather Wilson, for example, also have come out against Bush's "surge" scam. As that snowball of public opposition rolls down the political slope, more Republican leaders will have "cover" to denounce CheneyBush's war policies. More troops in-country or those ordered to Iraq likely would refuse to participate in a war the generals themselves -- as well as many of their civilian bosses in the Administration -- have abandoned as unwinnable. The refusal of Lieutenant Ehren Watada to return to Iraq is just the tip of the iceberg of resistance inside the officer corps, and among the rank-and-file troops as well: Hundreds of on-duty soldiers have signed a petition calling for "redress," urging the U.S. to withdraw from Iraq.


It's clear that the neo-con goal of changing the geopolitical face of the Middle East, by threat or use of force, remains in place as the operating principle of the Bush Administration. Iran and maybe Syria are still in the crosshairs. If the bombing of Iran's nuclear facilities does not happen in the next few months, either by the U.S. and/or ally Israel, it is being planned for before Bush leaves office. This may explain why an admiral is taking over the ground wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, supplanting Abizaid at Central Command: the navy will be tactically important in any move on Iran.


Not only is CheneyBush policy endangering our national interests abroad -- U.S. actions are the best recruiting tools for expanding extremist jihadi ranks -- but America's military is stretched way too thin for the country's good. The Reserves and National Guard are being overused in Iraq to the point of angry frustration and exhaustion, and Army/Marine recruiters are told to get new bodies into the training pipeline however they can: huge bonuses, lowering the moral and educational and psychological requirements, going abroad for foreign soldiers for hire -- even, I kid you not, asking those already slain in battle in Iraq to sign up for a new hitch! (Yes, of course, the last named was a bureaucratic screw-up, but symbolically it seems quite in keeping with the Bush Administration's overall tendency to FUBAR whatever they touch.)


Our freedoms, supposedly what we're fighting to protect, have been snatched from us, mostly in secret, by the Bush Administration. The concept of habeas corpus -- of justifying to a court why someone has been arrested -- is dead. The right to a jury trial: dead. The prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment (i.e., torture): dead. Attorney-client confidentiality: dead. Guaranteed access to a lawyer: dead. Right of privacy in one's home: dead. Letter and email privacy: dead. And so on. All these police-state actions are in violation of the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh and Eighth Articles of the Bill of Rights. Under a cockamamie theory that a president can ignore or violate laws whenever he claims he's acting as "commander-in-chief" during "wartime," Bush has: authorized secret "disappearances" and tortures of suspected "terrorists," including American citizens; has established a network of secret CIA prisons around the world; has authorized "extraordinary renditions" of suspects to countries that specialize in especially brutal torture. Police agents can enter your home, tap your phones, peek into your computer and emails (and now snail-mail) -- and are not required to present a court warrant or even tell you that you are being subjected to an investigation. The Constitution is in shreds.

The Republican Party for most of its modern life (especially after Waco) has been vehemently opposed to the federal government amassing too much police power in its hands. But this White House crew these days is after as much power as it can get its hands on -- and is aided in this by their GOP lackeys in Congress and in the corporate-owned mass-media -- and has created huge bureaucracies to snoop and spy on its own citizens.


Ordinary Americans have to see politics less as a once-every-election activity and more as an ongoing, daily campaign to save our country. That means actively opposing the worst of CheneyBush policies, of course, but it also means constantly letting Democratic leaders and our members of Congress know how we feel about their vacillations and timidity; we must hold their feet to the fire and demand that they truly act differently than the Republicans -- not just with regard to Iraq but to a whole host of domestic and foreign issues, where all too often they have caved in the past and let Karl Rove and his minions roll all over them.No more. The issues for which we're fighting are far too important for us to slip back into our lethargic, let-someone-else-do-it mode. Keeping democracy alive and well ultimately is up to us, each of us. In the Vietnam-War era, five different presidents were told by their national-security experts that there was no chance for the U.S. to win a stalemated war with guerrillas in that country, but those presidents persisted in the disastrous folly anyway. More than 54,000 U.S. troops and an estimated two million Vietnamese died in the slaughter before the Americans conceded that they had made a terrible error. Unless the Democrats, and the rest of us, step up now to stop Bush's nonsensical escalation of the Iraq War, a similar catastrophe awaits. The Democrats have to be warned in no uncertain terms about their responsibilities with regard to rescuing our troops in Iraq. Either act as an authentic Opposition Party should, or risk being abandoned in 2008 by the activist base that returned them to power. Perhaps the prospect of the incumbent Democrats reverting to non-relevancy, with the Republicans back in the majority with their boots once again on the Dems' necks, may finally concentrate their minds on what American voters sent them to Washington to do.

Copyright 2007 by Bernard Weiner