Saturday, February 15, 2003
It may not have been an Adlai Stevenson moment. But Colin Powell's presentation of evidence of Iraqi deception to the United Nations today was at least a Jeanne Kirkpatrick moment--in particular, the moment in 1983 when then-U.N. Ambassador Kirkpatrick presented the U.N. Security Council with audio tapes proving Soviet aircraft had downed a Korean passenger plane. To any rational observer, the communications intercepts and satellite imagery Powell presented today should offer sufficient proof that Iraq is not cooperating with U.N. weapons inspectors. But, of course, we already knew this. And so did the other members of the Security Council. The problem with Powell's presentation, and with the entire logic behind it, is that they just don't care.
The conceit of Powell's presentation was that it could budge the likes of Germany and France from their official stances opposing war and thereby extricate the Bush team from its inspections trap. But that opposition has nothing to do with the merits of America's case against Saddam. It has to do with the self-interested motives of Paris, which will do anything to frustrate U.S. policy, and of Berlin, which after supplying Saddam with much of his deadly chemical inventory now fears the domestic political costs of supporting a war to rid him of that inventory. The United States is not dealing here with individuals but with governments--and rapacious ones at that. The United Nations is simply a collection of sovereign states. And different states have their own reasons for being less than resolute in the face of evil. (via TurkeyBlog)
Friday, February 14, 2003
The Empire State Building was built in less time than has already been spent debating what to build on the site of the World Trade Center.
- Thomas Sowell
The petulance of these European states seems farcical, but in fact it is the expression of a profound historical transformation. It is not clear that the Europeans are entirely cognizant of this transformation, but it is essential, if the United States is to manage its global responsibilities effectively, that Americans be cognizant of it. For it is not the strategic impertinence of Europe that we are beholding, it is the strategic obsolescence of Europe.
Dissolve now to the mists of time, that is, to 1945. World War II, which left the fate of Europe in the hands of the United States and the Soviet Union, seemed to have pushed Europe away from the world-historical center to the world-historical periphery. For the next four decades, however, the marginality of Europe, its decline into relative powerlessness and ardent nostalgia, was obscured by the harsh suspense of the cold war.
When that conflict ended, the self-importance of Europe finally became an illusion, a psycho-strategic disorder. The kicking and screaming of France and Germany in recent weeks is the direct consequence of the collapse of the Soviet Union and the termination of the cold war. In these new circumstances, Europe is rather lacking in strategic ontology. Indeed, Europe has gladly acquiesced in its withdrawal from grand historical action, exchanging the burdens of military power for the blandishments of a continent-wide embourgeoisement, for what Robert Kagan has rightly called a "post-historical paradise." A European way of life was preferred to a European presence in the world. In this sense, the European Union represents the antithesis of NATO, and the retort to it. Meanwhile, new powers and new threats, new allies and new enemies, were emerging in regions very far away from the Louvre.
Thursday, February 13, 2003
"Madonna has put out the word that her next music video contains a shocking anti-war message, including footage of simulated dead Iraqi babies, which is expected to be a bigger draw than her latest movie, Swept Away, featuring footage of Madonna in a bathing suit."
"If it were not for the heroic efforts of America's military, France, Germany and Belgium today would be Soviet socialist republics. The failure of these three states to honor their commitments is beneath contempt."
Rep. Tom Lantos
Ecotourists are helping nature in an unexpected way - by becoming "fast food of the bush" for man-eating lions, it was claimed today.
With all the hysteria that has been going around about the use of biological weapons (not to mention chemical and nuclear), I think the best antidote of all is education and level-headedness.
So here is the REAL STORY. Remember, terrorists can't win if we aren't terrified.
Since the media has decided to scare everyone with predictions of chemical, biological, or nuclear warfare on our turf I decided to write a paper and keep things in their proper perspective. I am a retired military weapons, munitions, and training expert. Lesson number one: In the mid 1990's there were a series of nerve gas attacks on crowded Japanese subway stations. Given perfect conditions for an attack less than 10% of the people there were injured (the injured were better in a few hours) and only one percent of the injured died. 60 Minutes once had a fellow telling us that one drop of nerve gas could kill a thousand people; well he didn't tell you the thousand dead people per drop was theoretical. Drill sergeants exaggerate how terrible this stuff was to keep the recruits awake in class (I know this because I was a Drill sergeant too).
Forget everything you've ever seen on TV, in the movies, or read in a novel about this stuff, it was all a lie (read this sentence again out loud!)! These weapons are about terror, if you remain calm, you will probably not die. This is far less scary than the media and their "Experts," make it sound.
Chemical weapons are categorized as Nerve, Blood, Blister, and Incapacitating agents. Contrary to the hype of reporters and politicians they are not weapons of mass destruction. Instead, they are "Area denial", and terror weapons that don't destroy anything. When you leave the area you almost always leave the risk. That's the difference; you can leave the area and the risk; soldiers may have to stay put and sit through it and that's why they need all that spiffy gear.
These are not gasses; they are vapors or air borne particles. The agent must be delivered in sufficient quantity to kill or injure, and that defines when and how it's used. Every day we have a morning and evening inversion where "stuff," suspended in the air gets pushed down. This inversion is why allergies (pollen) and air pollution are worst at these times of the day. o, a chemical attack will have its best effect an hour of so either side of sunrise and sunset. Also, being vapors and airborne particles they are heavier than air so they will seek low places like ditches, basements and underground garages.
This stuff won't work when it's freezing, it doesn't last when it's hot, and wind spreads it too thin - too fast. They've got to get this stuff on you, or, get you to inhale it for it to work. They also have to get the concentration of chemicals high enough to kill or wound you. Too little and it's nothing, too much and it's wasted. What I hope you've gathered by this point is that a chemical weapons attack that kills a lot of people is incredibly hard to do with military grade agents and equipment so you can imagine how hard it will be for terrorists. The more you know about this stuff the more you realize how hard it is to use.
We'll start by talking about nerve agents. You have these in your house; plain old bug killer (like Raid) is nerve agent. All nerve agents work the same way; they are cholinesterase inhibitors that mess up the signals your nervous system uses to make your body function. It can harm you if you get it on your skin but it works best if they can get you to inhale it. If you don't die in the first minute and you can leave the area you're probably gonna live. The military's antidote for all nerve agents is atropine and pralidoxime chloride. Neither one of these does anything to cure the nerve agent, they send your body into overdrive to keep you alive for five minutes, after that the agent is used up. Your best protection is fresh air and staying calm.
Listed below are the symptoms for nerve agent poisoning. sudden headache, Dimness of vision (someone you're looking at will have pinpointed pupils), Runny nose, Excessive saliva or drooling, Difficulty breathing, Tightness in chest, Nausea, stomach cramps, Twitching of exposed skin where a liquid just got on you. If you are in public and you start experiencing these symptoms, first ask yourself, did anything out of the ordinary just happen, a loud pop, did someone spray something on the crowd? Are other people getting sick too?
Is there an odor of new mown hay, green corn, something fruity, or camphor where it shouldn't be? If the answer is yes, then calmly (if you panic you breathe faster and inhale more air/poison) leave the area and head up wind, or, outside.
Fresh air is the best "right now antidote". If you have a blob of liquid that looks like molasses or Kayro syrup on you; blot it or scrape it off and away from yourself with anything disposable. This stuff works based on your body weight, what a crop duster uses to kill bugs won't hurt you unless you stand there and breathe it in real deep, then lick the residue off the ground for while. Remember they have to do all the work, they have to get the concentration up and keep it up for several minutes while all you have to do is quit getting it on you--quit breathing it by putting space between you and the attack.
Blood agents are cyanide or arsine, which affect your blood's ability to provide oxygen to your tissue. The scenario for attack would be the same as nerve agent. Look for a pop or someone splashing or spraying something and folks around there getting woozy and falling down. The telltale smells are bitter almonds or garlic where it shouldn't be. The symptoms are blue lips, blue under the fingernails rapid breathing. The military's antidote is amyl nitride and just like nerve agent antidote it just keeps your body working for five minutes till the toxins are used up. Fresh air is the your best individual chance.
Blister agents (distilled mustard) are so nasty that nobody wants to even handle it let alone use it. It's almost impossible to handle safely and may have delayed effect of up to 12 hours. The attack scenario is also limited to the things you'd see from other chemicals. If you do get large, painful blisters for no apparent reason, don't pop them, if you must don't let the liquid from the blister get on any other area, the stuff just keeps on spreading. It's just as likely to harm the user as the target. Soap, water, sunshine, and fresh air are this stuff's enemy.
Bottom line on chemical weapons (it's the same if they use industrial chemical spills); they are intended to make you panic, to terrorize you,to herd you like sheep to the wolves. If there is an attack, leave the area and go upwind, or to the sides of the wind stream. They have to get the stuff to you, and on you. You're more likely to be hurt by a drunk driver on any given day than be hurt by one of these attacks. Your odds get better if you leave the area. Soap, water, time, and fresh air really deal this stuff a knock-out-punch. Don't let fear of an isolated attack rule your life. The odds are really on your side.
Nuclear bombs. These are the only weapons of mass destruction on earth. The effects of a nuclear bomb are heat, blast, EMP, and radiation. If you see a bright flash of light like the sun, where the sun isn't, fall to the ground! The heat will be over a second. Then there will be two blast waves, one out going, and one on it's way back. Don't stand up to see what happened after the first wave; anything that's going to happen will have happened in two full minutes.
These will be low yield devices and will not level whole cities. If you live through the heat, blast, and initial burst of radiation, you'll probably live for a very, very long time. Radiation will not create fifty-foot tall women, or giant ants and grass hoppers the size of tanks. These will be at the most 1-kiloton bombs; that's the equivalent of 1,000 tons of TNT.
Here's the real deal, flying debris and radiation will kill a lot of exposed (not all!) people within a half mile of the blast. Under perfect conditions this is about a half-mile circle of death and destruction, but when it's done it's done. EMP stands for Electro Magnetic Pulse and it will fry every electronic device for a good distance, it's impossible to say what and how far but probably not over a couple of miles from ground zero is a good guess. Cars, cell phones, computers, ATMs, you name it, all will be out of order.
There are lots of kinds of radiation, you only need to worry about three; the others you have lived with for years. You need to worry about "ionizing radiation", these are little sub atomic particles that go whizzing along at the speed of light. They hit individual cells in your body, kill the nucleus and keep on going. That's how you get radiation poisoning; you have so many dead cells in your body that the decaying cells poison you. It's the same as people getting radiation treatments for cancer; only a bigger area gets radiated. The good news is you don't have to just sit there and take it, and there's lots you can do rather than panic. First; your skin will stop alpha particles, a page of a news paper or your clothing will stop beta particles, you just gotta try and avoid inhaling dust that's contaminated with atoms that are emitting these things and you'll be generally safe from them.
Gamma rays are particles that travel like rays (quantum physics makes my brain hurt) and they create the same damage as alpha and beta particles only they keep going and kill lots of cells as they go all the way through your body. It takes a lot to stop these things, lots of dense material on the other hand it takes a lot of this to kill you.
Your defense is as always to not panic. Basic hygiene and normal preparation are your friends. All canned or frozen food is safe to eat. The radiation poisoning will not affect plants so fruits and vegetables are OK if there's no dust on em (rinse em off if there is). If you don't have running water and you need to collect rainwater or use water from wherever, just let it sit for thirty minutes and skim off the water gently from the top. The dust with the bad stuff in it will settle and the remaining water can be used for the toilet that will still work if you have a bucket of water to pour in the tank.
Finally there's biological warfare. There's not much to cover here. Basic personal hygiene and sanitation will take you further than a million doctors. Wash your hands often; don't share drinks, food, sloppy kisses,etc., ... with strangers. Keep your garbage can with a tight lid on it, don't have standing water (like old buckets, ditches, or kiddie pools) laying around to allow mosquitoes breeding room. Vectors, that is bugs, rodents, and contaminated material, carry this stuff. If biological warfare is so easy as the TV makes it sound, why has Saddam Hussein spent twenty years, millions, and millions of dollars trying to get it right? If you're clean of person and home you eat well and are active you're gonna live.
Overall preparation for any terrorist attack is the same as you'd take for a big storm. If you want a gas mask, fine, go get one. I know this stuff and I'm not getting one and I told my Mom not to bother with one either (how's that for confidence). We have a week's worth of cash, several days worth of canned goods and plenty of soap and water. We don't leave stuff out to attract bugs or rodents so we don't have them. These people can't conceive a nation this big with this many resources. These weapons are made to cause panic, terror, and to demoralize. If we don't run around like sheep they won't use this stuff after they find out it's no fun. The government is going nuts over this stuff because they have to protect every inch of America. You've only gotta protect yourself, and by doing that, you help the country.
Finally, there are millions of caveats to everything I wrote here and you can think up specific scenarios where my advice isn't the best. This letter is supposed to help the greatest number of people under the greatest number of situations. If you don't like my work, don't nit pick, just sit down and explain chemical, nuclear, and biological warfare in a document around three pages long yourself. This is how we the people of the United tates can rob these people of their most desired goal, your terror.
FC Red Thomas (Ret) Armor Master Gunner Mesa, AZ Unlimited reproduction and distribution is authorized.
This is simply not our tradition in the United States. We blame ourselves, and at our best universities there are professors who are paid quite nicely to find as much fault with our society as it is humanly possible to do. An insane policy by any standard you might wish to chose, except that of pure pragmatic success—the most self-critical nation in human history is also the first nation to achieve absolute superiority over all the other nations of the world; and perhaps, by some dialectic irony, it is more through the efforts of men like Noam Chomsky than Rush Limbaugh that we possess supreme military might. Can you really fear a society in which men like Chomsky and Gore Vidal are lionized, as opposed to being shot in the middle of the night in a remote forest? A society so absurdly tolerant has to be trusted; and it is precisely this trust that has kept other nations from arming themselves to the teeth against us. Talk is cheap—and, with the USA as the dominant power, quite safe as well.
But it is this peculiar penchant for self-criticism that explains why Americans have trouble even acknowledging the fantasy ideology of so much of the Arab world today. It is because we are not fond of shifting our blame to others. We do not seek out bad guys to explain our faults and failures. Hence, when we are attacked, our first response is often the classic line, "Why do they hate us so?"
In fact, they hate us because we are the bad guys in the black hats that the Arab world so desperately needs to comfort themselves for their own failures and defeats.
The pig passes through a hedge.
Homer: It's just a little dirty. It's still good, it's still good!
[Passes traffic, jumps a bridge and lands in the water.]
It's just a little slimy, it's still good, it's still good!
[It gets caught in a dam spillway, and when the pressure builds, it shoots into the sky.]
It's just a little airborne, it's still good, it's still good!
Bart: [Crestfallen.] It's gone.
Homer: I know.
Well that kind of reminds me of the German reaction to the new evidence of Iraqi material breaches that keep coming out. "It's just a little warhead, they're still being good, they're still being good."
You don't get to a place like this overnight. It takes at least, oh, a decade. We are now paying the wages of the 1990s, our holiday from history. During that decade, every major challenge to America was deferred. The chief aim of the Clinton administration was to make sure that nothing terrible happened on its watch. Accordingly, every can was kicked down the road:
There is no avoiding the danger any longer. Last year, President Bush's axis-of-evil speech was met with eye-rolling disdain by the sophisticates. One year later, the warning has been vindicated in all its parts. Even the United Nations says Iraq must be disarmed. The International Atomic Energy Agency has just (politely) declared North Korea a nuclear outlaw. Iran has announced plans to mine uranium and reprocess spent nuclear fuel; we have recently discovered two secret Iranian nuclear complexes.
We are in a race against time. Once such hostile states establish arsenals, we become self-deterred and they become invulnerable. North Korea may already have crossed that threshold.
There is a real question whether we can win the race. Year One of the new era, 2002, passed rather peaceably. Year Two will not: 2003 could be as cataclysmic as 1914 or 1939.
Why are there trees on major French boulevards?
So the Germans could march in the shade.
The hawks - and remember that the hawk is a bird that can see things from a long way off - thought that the threat of "asymmetric warfare" (ie terrorism, often by "non-state actors") was serious. They thought that fast-growing Muslim populations, whose proportion of young men both in Europe and in the Arab world far outweighs that of European Christians, would be drawn towards extremists.
They also saw how wretched was the lot of most of these Muslim populations and how corrupt were many of the "moderates" who ran their countries. If you like, they accepted certain elements of Osama bin Laden's analysis of an unstable, unequal world, though they detested his aims and remedies.
Because the hawks are so dark in their view of what is happening, European elites make two mistakes about them. The first is to suppose they are "gung-ho" and rush unilaterally into action. This is not so. President Bush got Nato and the world behind him before the attack on Afghanistan, and yesterday's performance by Mr Powell was only the latest whirl in a long diplomatic dance with the UN that, he hopes, will at last sweep even the French off their feet. Yes, America reserves its right to act unilaterally, but it bases its policy on the paradox that it is only by convincing people of your readiness to be unilateral that you can win multilateral support.
The second false analysis of the hawks' position is that, because it is fierce, it is pessimistic. If it has a fault, it is dangerously in the opposite direction. The hawks scorn the importance of preserving stability in the Middle East because they think it does not exist, except, as one of them put it to me last week, as the "stability of the graveyard". (via Occam)
During a routine self-examination last May, Shirley Magee found a lump on her breast. Within weeks she had it and some lymph nodes removed. So far so good, until it came to the follow-up therapy.
Mrs. Magee, a 55-year-old public school secretary, researched her condition on the Internet, and read that optimally, radiation treatment should begin two weeks after surgery. But the local provincial government clearinghouse that manages the waiting time for radiation therapy told her she had to wait until the end of September — nearly three months after her surgery — to begin treatment.
"I was supposed to feel lucky I got in so quickly," said Mrs. Magee, still viscerally annoyed though she has since successfully completed her radiation regime. "It's a horrible feeling that something in your body is ticking that you have no control over. If I were a politician's wife I wouldn't have had to wait."
Is America going into Iraq in search of "black gold"?
The charge has a surface plausibility because Iraq does have the second-largest known reserves in the world. But we certainly don't need to send 250,000 soldiers to get at it. Saddam Hussein would gladly sell us all the oil we wanted. The only thing preventing unlimited sales are the United States-enforced sanctions, which Baghdad (and the big oil companies) would love to see lifted. Washington has refused to go along because Saddam Hussein flouts United Nations resolutions. This suggests that our primary focus is the threat he poses, not the oil he possesses.
It's true that overthrowing Saddam Hussein would lead to the lifting of sanctions and a possible increase in oil exports. But it would take a lot of time and money to rebuild Iraq's dilapidated oil industry, even if the regime didn't torch everything on the way out. A study from the Council on Foreign Relations and the James A. Baker III Institute at Rice University estimated that it would take three years and $5 billion to restore Iraqi production just to its pre-1990 level of 3.5 million barrels a day. That would increase total world production by only 1.3 percent, and might not reduce prices at all if other countries cut output or banded together to keep prices stable.
For that matter, would our government really want a steep drop in prices? The domestic oil patch — including President Bush's home state, Texas — was devastated in the 1980's when prices fell as low as $10 a barrel. Washington is generally happy with a range of $18 to $25 a barrel, about where oil was before the strikes in Venezuela and jitters about Iraq helped push prices over $34 a barrel. If we were really concerned about cheap oil above all, we'd be sending troops to Caracas, not Baghdad.
The other possible economic advantage in Iraq would be for American companies to win contracts to put out fires, repair refineries and help operate the oil industry, as they did in Kuwait. What's the total value of such work? It's impossible to say, but last year Iraq signed a deal with Russian companies (since canceled by Saddam Hussein) to rebuild oil and other industries, valued at $40 billion over five years.
Yet the White House estimates the military operation alone would cost $50 billion to $60 billion. (Others suggest the figure would be far higher.) And rebuilding of the country's cities, roads and public facilities would cost $20 billion to $100 billion more, with much of that money in the initial years coming from the "international community" (read: Uncle Sam).
Thus, if a capitalist cabal were running the war, it would have to conclude it wasn't a paying proposition.
The truth is that Democrats want to make an example of Miguel Estrada, whose appointment to the bench could make Hispanic voters look more favorably on the Bush administration. They also want to send a message to the White House that when it comes to confirming federal judges, there are some things they simply will not tolerate. Apparently at the top of the list: Independent-minded Hispanic hotshots who don't go around thanking liberals for everything that the nominees have accomplished on their own.
Wednesday, February 12, 2003
There are excellent universities -- in Europe, in Asia, in Africa -- that still use the examination system. The applicant takes a strenuous examination that's the sole basis of admission. If he fails, he can take it a second time. If he fails the second time, he can't attend that university.
They don't ask about his background, his skin color, his home life, or what ethnic student association he was president of. They simply say, "This is the basic minimum knowledge you need to have mastered in order to thrive here."
Nevertheless, their student bodies are diverse. They're diverse because PEOPLE are diverse -- already, without social engineering. What we call diversity is a shallow fake version of diversity -- diversity of the outer, instead of the inner, person.
One of the first agreements that was made between the groups organizing the Feb. 16 anti-war protest was that none of the coalitions would propose rally speakers who had publicly attacked or worked to discredit one of the coalition groups. When members of the Tikkun Community, who have actively participated in the organizing meetings for Feb. 16, suggested to Bay Area United for Peace and Justice that it propose Michael Lerner as a speaker, it was explained by members of UPJ that since he had publicly attacked A.N.S.W.E.R. in both the New York Times and Tikkun community email newsletters, his inclusion in the program would violate the agreement among the Feb. 16 organizing groups.
And here is what he said in the New York Times about an ANSWER rally:
"There are good reasons to oppose the war, and Saddam. Still, it feels that we are being manipulated when subjected to mindless speeches and slogans whose knee-jerk anti-imperialism rarely articulates the deep reasons we should oppose corporate globalization."
And that is all he said. Can that really be called an attack? The article even states that he still sent protesters to the ANSWER rally. No wonder they don't actually quote what he said in their press release. And here is where they denounce anti-semitism:
We strongly abhor all forms of racism and bigotry, including anti-Semitism. At the same time, we don't believe that criticism of Israeli government policies should be labeled as anti-Semitism any more than criticism of U.S. government policy should be labeled as anti-American.
Boy that just brings a tear to my eye. Really convincing aren't they?
Tuesday, February 11, 2003
Monday, February 10, 2003
Donte Spector, 33, said he was forced to perform simulated intercourse with his father's girlfriend. When he was 9, he was handcuffed and blindfolded for her amusement, he said.
"I was blindfolded and sexually molested," said Gary Spector, 36. "Dad would say, 'You're going to meet someone,' and it would be a 'learning experience.'"
How completely depraved.
"Good News:CIA Officer Killed in Afghanistan Grenade Accident"
It's one thing to be anti-war, it's something completely different to cheer when Americans die. I'm so glad I don't live in San Francisco anymore. And people were shocked when SF area native John Walker Lindh ended up fighting for the Taliban. I wasn't. Those people have such wacked logic that nothing would surprise me.
Sunday, February 09, 2003
As the session was winding down, I decided to ask a question. This is something I habitually do after such discussions; it's sadistic act, the academic equivalent of shooting fish in a barrel, and it speaks badly of my character. I directed my question to Professor Turtleneck — though it could as well have been addressed to virtually anyone in the room. Recalling his notion of a "state of semi-erudition" that characterized those who support President Bush's war on terrorism, I pointed out that many of Bush's supporters would characterize the antiwar movement in much the same way. "As an epistemological matter," I asked, "how do you deal with the fact that each side sees the other as uninformed? You don't want to make the claim that your knowledge is somehow privileged, do you?"
There was an awkward, slightly panicky pause after I asked this.
Professor Turtleneck began his response by saying he'd cut a lot out of the paper he'd read and then segued into an utterly irrelevant tap dance about Adorno's own epistemological presuppositions. He was interrupted after a minute by a man sitting behind me, who called out, "You're not answering the question! You can't deny that you're making a claim to knowledge here!"
"I'm not denying that," Professor Turtleneck insisted. "I'm only saying that Adorno would say . . ."