September 26, 2007
On this day, in 1983, the end of the world was almost accidentally triggered.
Stanislav Petrov chose to consider that it was highly illogical that just 5 missiles should be detected by new satellite detection systems when ground radar picked up nothing (in tense ensuing minutes). Instead of triggering a Soviet attack based on false readings (it was in fact sunlight at a particular angle setting off the alarms) Petrov considered it quite implausible that the USA would attack with a handful of missiles.
He was disciplined for not reporting the false alarm and thus prevented a possible triggering of a nuclear war of the worst kind.
September 25, 2007
On a MB (Message Board) on The Agonist – one of the best blogs in the business:
“I meant Trade Center Bombing 1993, first year of Clinton in office same as 2001 for Bush. I think Al Qaeda likes first term Presidents, a point of weakness before they get their bearings.”
Perhaps that is the pattern and why the USA developed a pattern of inevitability on election day every two cycles – GW Bush should not have won the last two elections on merit alone. Greeting a President with a potentially life changing act of terror gives Al Qaeda an agenda setting edge. How can the incumbent ignore the taint? It is this understanding of the political behaviour of their enemy – that is a concern as it has created a sense of preordained destiny in the political narrative of “America” (I think George Bush calls the U.S.A. “America” over and over and it leaks into the media, but Bush is the President of the U.S.A. – and referring to it as “America” is just winding Hugo Chavas up).
It is too late to save the Bush Administration from itself. “America” will suffer terribly as a result, and economically, if you read between the lines.
September 23, 2007
Clinton’s main point toward the end of this friendly interview is how pork barrel politics – election fundraising activity is depriving the future leaders of sleep – and makes a case for public funding of campaigns.
It would make sense – where the Republicans have huge contributions from Halliburton and Diebold to their election efforts – the Democrats have moveon.org and Michael Moore (not as rich or influential to the final vote count).
September 22, 2007
September 21, 2007
When companies like Blackwater erupt in the news as responsible for a massacre of civilians one must wonder if the Allies (US and UK) are in fact the “good guys” or if we are carrying on with a tradition of evil towards the third world and indulging in apologetic “aid” as an appeasement to the marginalized.
The scandal is that the US taxpayer is funding these shadowy organisations that send in the thugs and charge clients Governments billions to employ professional soldiers who then shoot at the citizenry. Rather than expel Blackwater, the Government of Iraq should ask for a refund of US$100M for each citizen killed – make them commercially responsible for their job – that is primarily to bring safety to the citizens while protecting officials – a hard job to achieve considering suicide bombers, the “private army” on the other side of the equation.
One could compare the economic reasons for both the Blackwater contractor and the suicide bomber as motivated contractors, outside of the normal rules of war. The contractors are there because modern democratic Governments can not openly run huge military complexes the way they used to, the Vietnam war and 50,000 body bags of “our boys” is replaced by a fee. The death of professionals does not have the same political value as a tax payer funded soldier and private armies tend to invest heavily to protect their people where tax pay funded soldiers have wider priorities. So it seems like an attractive proposition – quietly sell the silver and fund the war by taking control of foreign assets. Then setup a puppet Government that administers the assets. Do private armies thus distort the picture?
Of course they do. But war is not justice. Quite the opposite. Conventions like Geneva prevent “inhumanity” on the battlefield and for POWs. These conventions have been torn up by the Bush bungled “war on terror”. It make the acts of Al Qaeda seem historically pale, the fact that we return to the colonial invention, Iraq, and do everything possible to stir up a civil war. Makes me wonder if that was always going to be the plan, if there is a darker story at work in this post colonial world. The western powers are holding onto their power by any means and that has a lot to do with the scare mongering that has painted Iran as evil, painted North Korea as a misguided and introverted (evil) regime, painted Iraq as on the verge of launching nuclear weapons against European cities, maintained Al Qaeda by not decapitating it, a terrible mistake as Osama bin Laden invites more chaos in Pakistan and no doubt another large “staged event” like 9/11 is brewing.
The use of private armies is a direct result of the insane politics that ended the “Cold war”. Instead of a USSR that would keep China busy for decades, we now have a Russia privately funding Iran, Iran funding Syria, a proxy war in Iraq between the US and Iran, Israel bombing Syria, North Korea providing nuclear materials to Syria and Iran, a dead duck in the White House. The vacuum in security following the collapse of the USSR created a fragmentation of the “forces of evil”. It is no longer efficient to have a huge lumbering army – but as Israel is demonstrating to America, it is possible for limited airstrikes to work. To win so conclusively and instantly that nobody can argue. It is like when Clinton was in office and spent a few hundred million sending in cruise missiles to get Bin Laden instead of a few trillion sending in the troops to take control of the Middle East.
September 17, 2007
September 14, 2007
Ahmed Zaoui has been accepted as a refugee in New Zealand and – finally – given clearance as not a security risk.
Letters to the Editor seem to be very divided about this. On one hand (the Left) there are those who see this as a victory over paranoia, and for human rights. On the other we have the paranoid murmurings that NZ is opening the doors to terrorists. They claim this precident means Osama bin Laden would have to be protected by our soft border security which they describe as a “soft touch”.
More like a deadly fly trap, if you ever manage to catch one of those Australian or New Zealand border control fly on the wall documentary reality shows. Our customs service is quite ferocious and will put you on a plane back to where you came from if your documents are not in order. Ahmed Zaoui traveled on a false passport and destroyed it and declared refugee status on his arrival in 2002. He was placed into solitary confinement for 1 – 2 years. Until lawyer Deborah Manning started to help prove that the charges against Zaoui were at best generalised and possibly concocted which is hardly surprising as he was escaping the brutal military dictatorship that ousted the government he was a part of … Ahmed Zaoui is Algerian. He has no history of terrorism, but being a politician had many contacts at various levels of the ousted opposition. He claims to be a man of peace, and his behaviour in this affair befits such a label.
I am fairly sure if Osama bin Laden were to arrive seeking shelter – the left wing liberal bleeding heart conspiracy would also hold him in jail, just as anyone would, and happily hand him over to the USA for his crimes and collect some healthy foreign exchange.
There is such a difference between a politician/professor/refugee of a brutal military coup and a billionaire/pendant/mass murderer. For some, it’s like if they have beard or something. We have no right to jail people without reason. The War on Terror will only be won if we respect the human rights and democracy we pledge to defend.
September 12, 2007
“Global Warming” (and cooling) has always been a natural process! So are the natural processes that excessive pollution threaten to upset. What about the scale of extinctions since the industrial age started to poison rivers and air? These scientists correctly say an ice age would be worse that “global warming”. Tell that to land owners who are affected by a sea level rise. If we abate pollution, it will not stop “global warming”, but it may allow the trend to, one day, revert. If its a cycle, then its either naturally getting warmer or colder.
It seems a little irrelevant to worry about if its going to become warmer or colder if our risky activity could be projected into an outcome of life extinction. Sure the Earth may recover, but the dinosaurs did not.
Climate change is the present and real danger that we are causing. And poisoning our environment is just a crime against nature. It will pay us back. But we have already buried the worst culprits, the giants of pollution, until GW Bush came along and tried to keep America on top of the tables, but Asia will out-pollute them as they compete to try to catch up.
The world does not need another billion SUVs badly maintained in a Chinese economy that is collapsing in 2060 as their economic sunshine fades. One possible future.
“Global Warming” is the wrong target. The melting ice will not stop to examine tree rings. Change will occur with or without us, but we are contributing more than dinosaur flatulence and we should spend more on research into reducing our energy footprint. It is just responsible!
Harnessing free energy supports moderate growth. Burning all the oil competitively does not. It is time for the great nations of the world to stop competing for control of the Earth’s resources and paid the true cost to this and future humanity, (as well as repair nature).
War is redundant if you can not support a decent quality of life for all citizens.
September 11, 2007
Martin Amis – article on 9/11
September 6, 2007
Muslim converts target Germany – Times Online – Home grown dissent exists in every country – but for dissenters to execute terror campaigns against their neighbors for the sole purpose of killing them – only encourages militant leaders to emerge. (For example: will Islam force another Bush upon the world by scaring the votors)?Western Governments are becoming increasingly sensitive to the issue as perhaps ideological in nature. Nazi-ism was also idealogical in nature and witness the support its heartless faith acquired as its iron glove crushed freedom. But it was the reaction, by the allies – that burnt European cities. It is the reaction of Governments that raises the ante for the forces that reproduce terrorists. Breeding terror is the real cause for alarm. When words like “surgical” are applied to acts of war, you can be fairly sure that civilians are still dying – why? Because they have. Wars are not won or lost. People are lost. War becomes its own inevitability and should always be avoided unless the cancer is worse. Rebirth from utter destruction is expensive. There is no human condition, however desperate that requires annihilation. Even from despair, we find a way to reform ourselves, hence the wounds of war never heal, they are inherited. …this one has shocked Germans more than any other: it has exposed the existence of a home-grown terrorist potential.
Home grown Islamic and other forms of terrorism existed before 9/11. Why it still shocks us is the same reason Bush gave for invading Iraq. Acts of war based on what ifs and profound logic have proven to breed terrorism, as totalitarianism will, also. It is up to people to turn the tide away from American interference, away from nuclear weapons, away from environmental damage, away from terror threat and back to putting our spare resources into understanding each other.
Rapid fundamentalism is the result of no education.
September 4, 2007
This comment shows why America needs to impeach its President and Vice-President. Aside from the issue of poor war planning, and huge waste of strategic advantage that the Iraq war has been – the wire tapping issue – the hiding behind legislation brought specifically to hide the actions of the Bush Presidency from International law courts – war crimes committed with weapons of inhumane dimensions and extraordinary tactics – are enough to try, without getting into conspiracy theories however plausible.