Sunday, September 8, 2013


Sent to WS and Blog
OMNI NEWSLETTER #4 ON CAUSES AND PREVENTION OF WARS,  September 8, 2013.   Compiled by Dick Bennett for a Culture of Peace.  (#1 Feb. 1, 2011; #2 March 26, 2011#3 Oct. 15, 2012).
My blog:
War Department/Peace Department


Sen J. William Fulbright
IF YOU WANT PEACE, PREPARE FOR PEACE, NOT FOR WAR, AND NOT FOR COUNTLESS, EXPENSIVE DISTRATIONS.   50 YEARS AGO May 5, 1963 NEW YORK - Sen J. William Fulbright, of Arkansas, said last night that landing a man on the moon may be a “glamorous scientific feat” but that it would have little appeal to the uncommitted peoples of the world who bear the burdens of hunger, disease and poverty. Fulbright, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said,“It is strange to me that in a world which bears an intolerable burden of hunger, disease, poverty and animosity among its peoples, we should devote the best minds of both the western and Communist world to achieve a landing on the moon where, to my knowledge, no solutions to our problems await us.” 


“To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic.  It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness...

What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something.  If we remember those times and places ”and there are so many” where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction...And if we do act, in however small a way, we don't have to wait for some grand utopian future.  The future is an infinite succession of presents and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory."  -- Howard Zinn  [Dick]

These newsletters are divided only very generally into Causes and Prevention because most authors examine the two subjects together. See War Prevention and Other Newsletters.

Nos. 1 and 2 at end

Contents of #3   October 15, 2012
Resources Wars: Water
Michael Klare, Oil
Religion, Bible: Jenkins’ Laying Down the Sword
Nationalism: Self-Sacrifice for Nation
Rev. of Strenski’s Contesting Sacrifice
Pathological Leaders: Sociopathic, Psychopathic
Lister:  Males
Myths:  Exceptionalism
Economics: US and Libya
War Contractors/Profiteers
Tom Dispatch, Michael Klare: Economics, Oil
Poor Reasoning andCritical Thinking

Pinker, Violence Decreasing
Horgan, Wars Being Cultural Can Be Ended
Prosecute Heads of State
Resist War Industry
Essays on Libyan and Afghan Wars
Dennis Kucinich vs. US in Libya
McNeely, 2 Principles Will End US Wars
Dick, Stopping Rivalries

Contents of #4
Violence a US Pathology
Militarism:  Google Search
Vonnegut: Preparing for War the Worst Addiction
Fear-Mongering: Cyber-Warfare
Dick: Killing Innocents, Creating Enemies
Tomgram, Bacevich: US Volunteer Military of 1%
Klare:  Conflict Over Resources
Nile River, 95% of Egypt’s Water
Rationalizations for War, Justifications, Lip-Service
Dick: Global/Local, Realizing the Human Potential for Peace

Subject: Protecting freedom
Date: Tuesday, December 18, 2012, 7:15 PM
David D:  yes, Dick, we have a serious, complicated problem here in the US
I have a good friend in CA who is a movement attorney, he recently sent me the following message

I appreciate a discussion of gun control, and also a discussion of mental illness. But, as Michael Moore and others point out, the American pathology of violence and gun-deaths is where the problem lies. Canadians and Swiss have more guns per capita than the US, but a tiny fraction of American gun violence.

This is an angry and frustrated population that manifests that anger because most people are totally powerless in this country. Violence and guns are the default setting in the movies, on TV, in video games, everywhere
, all the time.
For example, Tarantino is a popular director, but his shit is based entirely on violence. Americans love it. Hockey fights, WWF, Fight Club, ultimate fighting (or whatever they call it), the promo's for TV shows -----murder, murder, more murder.
Teenagers in juvenile hall refer to guns as "problem solvers".

America will never ever have the discussion regarding why this is happening because, of course, the core of it is the frustration with being powerless. That's why there's a Tea Party.

So, yes, I agree that it's good to deal with gun control and mental illness issues. But it's way bigger than that.


U.S. Militarism - Mennonite Central Committee - Washington Office
File Format: PDF/Adobe Acrobat - Quick View
U.S.. Washington Office. Guide to. U.S. Militarism ... The Center for Arms Control and ... Adapted from the Center for Defense Information (for ...

1.                             Addicted to War -- Why the U.S. Can't Kick Militarism, an illustrated ...
ADDICTED TO WAR -- WHY THE U.S. CAN'T KICK MILITARISM (UPDATED TO ... onU.S. military contracts, see the Center for Defense Information's website: ...

2.                             Addicted toWar -- Why the U.S. Can't Kick Militarism, an illustrated ...
ADDICTED TO WAR -- WHY THE U.S. CAN'T KICK MILITARISM ... I. For updated information on the U.S. military budget, see Center for Defense Information, ...

3.                             Women and Militarism | Feminist Collections | Barnard Center for ...
The Center for Defense Information, founded in 1972, is a non-profit and nonpartisan organization and "provides expert analysis on various components of U.S. ...

4.                             Full Article - COMD: Committee Opposed to Militarism and the Draft
The Center for Defense Information points out that the vast U.S. military advantage to maintain a global presence and superiority does not come cheaply: ...

5.                             Texans for Peace Issues Militarism
Strong on defense and fearless in the face of militarism - Texans have a proud ...Center for Defense Information · Gulf War Studies Documents - US Army Center ...
6.                              [PDF] 

World Military Spending - Decade to Overcome Violence
File Format: PDF/Adobe Acrobat - Quick View
tragedies of both the Tsunami in Asia and Katrina in the 
US it became more clear that ...the issue of militarism is not even mentioned in the context of shifting means in order to attend to ..... For instance, the Center for Defense Information ...

7.                             Tools for Researching Militarism | Fellowship of Reconciliation
End U.S. Military Aid to Colombia · Stopping U.S. Militarism in Latin America ... Ten Short Essays to Get You Through It - Center for Defense Information (2011) ...
8.                              [PDF] 

Militarism: A Way of Life - The Humanist
File Format: PDF/Adobe Acrobat - Quick View
by M Fitzgerald - Cited by 4 - Related articles
there is a substantial 
militarist class in the United States—people who make their living ..... Source: Center for Defense Information Military Almanac, 2001–2002 ...

9.                             Addicted to War: Why the U.S. Can't 

Kurt Vonnegut: The Worst Addiction of Them All

Kurt Vonnegut
August 19, 2013
The Nation
An excerpt from the new eBook Vonnegut by the Dozen: Twelve Pieces by Kurt Vonnegut.

Author Kurt Vonnegut Jr. in New York City in 1979., AP Photo/Marty Reichenthal,

This is an excerpt from the new ebook Vonnegut by the Dozen: Twelve Pieces by Kurt Vonnegut, a collection of essays and articles published in The Nation. The eBook is now available on tablets, smartphones and computers—download yours today.
What has been America's most nurturing contribution to the culture of this planet so far? Many would say Jazz. I, who love jazz, will say this instead: Alcoholics Anonymous.
I am not an alcoholic. If I was, I would go before the nearest A.A. meeting and say, "My name is Kurt Vonnegut. I am an alcoholic." God willing, that might be my first step down the long, hard road back to sobriety.
The A.A. scheme, which requires a confession like that, is the first to have any measurable success in dealing with the tendency of some human beings, perhaps 10 percent of any population sample anyone might care to choose, to become addicted to substances that give them brief spasms of pleasure but in the long term transmute their lives and the lives of those around them into ultimate ghastliness.
The A.A. scheme, which, again, can work only if the addicts regularly admit that this or that chemical is poisonous to them, is now proving its effectiveness with compulsive gamblers, who are not dependent on chemicals from a distillery or a pharmaceutical laboratory. This is no paradox. Gamblers, In effect, manufacture their own dangerous substances. God help them, they produce chemicals that elate them whenever they place a bet on simply anything.
If I was a compulsive gambler, which I am not, I would be well advised to stand up before the nearest meeting of Gamblers Anonymous and declare, "My name is Kurt Vonnegut. I am a compulsive gambler."
Whether I was standing before a meeting of Gamblers Anonymous or Alcoholics Anonymous, I would be encouraged to testify as to how the chemicals I had generated within myself or swallowed had alienated my friends and relatives, cost me jobs and houses and deprived me of my last shred of self-respect.
Not every member of A.A. or G.A. has sunk quite that low, of course--but plenty have. Many, If not most, have done what they call "hitting bottom" before admitting what it is that has been ruining their lives.

I now wish to call attention to another form of addiction, which has not been previously identified. It is more like gambling than drinking, since the people afflicted are ravenous for situations that will cause their bodies to release exciting chemicals into their bloodstreams. I am persuaded that there are among us people who are tragically hooked on preparations for war.
Tell people with that disease that war is coming and we have to get ready for it, and for a few minutes there, they will be as happy as a drunk with his martini breakfast or a compulsive gambler with his paycheck bet on the Super Bowl.
Let us recognize how sick such people are. From now on, when a national leader, or even just a neighbor, starts talking about some new weapons system which is going to cost us a mere $29 billion, we should speak up. We should say something on the order of, "Honest to God, I couldn't be sorrier for you if I'd seen you wash down a fistful of black, beauties with a pint of Southern Comfort."
I mean it. I am not joking. Compulsive preparers for World War III, in this country or any other, are as tragically and, yes, as repulsively addicted as any stockbroker passed out with his head In a toilet in the Port Authority bus terminal.
For an alcoholic to experience a little joy, he needs maybe three ounces of grain alcohol. Alcoholics, when they are close to hitting bottom, customarily can't hold much alcohol.
If we know a compulsive gambler who is dead broke, we can probably make him happy with a dollar to bet on who can spit farther than someone else. For us to give a compulsive war-preparer a fleeting moment of happiness, we may have to buy him three Trident submarines and a hundred intercontinental ballistic missiles mounted on choo-choo trains.
If Western Civilization were a person--
If Western Civilization, which blankets the world now, as far as I can tell, were a person--
If Western Civilizations, which surely now includes the Soviet Union and China and India and Pakistan and on and on, were a person--
If Western Civilization were a person, we would be directing it to the nearest meeting of War-Preparers Anonymous. We would be telling it to stand up before the meeting and say, "My name is Western Civilization. I am a compulsive war- preparer. I have lost everything I ever cared about. I should have come here long ago. I first hit bottom in World War I." Western Civilization cannot be represented by a single person, of course, but a single explanation for the catastrophic course it has followed during this bloody century is possible. We the people, because of our ignorance of the disease, have again and again entrusted power to people we did not know were sickies.
And let us not mock them now, any more than we would mock someone with syphilis or smallpox or leprosy or yaws or typhoid fever or any of the other diseases to which the flesh is heir. All we have to do is separate them from the levers of power, I think.
And then what? Western Civilization's long, hard trip back to sobriety might begin.
A word about appeasement, something World War II, supposedly, taught us not to practice: I say to you that the world has been ruined by appeasement. Appeasement of whom? Of the Communists? Of the neo-Nazis? No! Appeasement of the compulsive war-preparers. I can scarcely name a nation that has not lost most of its freedom and wealth in attempts to appease its own addicts to preparations for war.
And there is no appeasing an addict for very long.
"I swear, man, just lay enough bread on me for twenty multiple re-entry vehicles and a fleet of B-1 bombers, and I'11 never bother you again."
Most addictions start innocently enough in childhood, under agreeable, reputable auspices-a sip of champagne at a wedding, a game af poker for matchsticks on a rainy afternoon. Compulsive war-preparers may have been encouraged as infants to clap their hands with glee at a campfire or a Fourth of July parade.
Not every child gets hooked. Not every child so tempted grows up to be a drunk or a gambler or a babbler about knocking down the incoming missiles of the Evil Empire with laser beams. When I identify the war-preparers as addicts, I am not calling for the exclusion of children from all martial celebrations. I doubt that more than one child In a hundred, having seen fireworks, for example, will become an adult who wants us to stop squandering our substance on education and health and social justice and the arts and food and shelter and clothing for the needy, and so on--who wants us to blow it all on ammunition instead.
And please understand that the addiction I have identified is topreparations for war. I repeat: to preparations for war, addiction to the thrills of de-mothballing battleships and inventing weapons systems against which there cannot possibly be a defense, supposedly, and urging the citizenry to hate this part of humanity or that one, and knocking over little governments that might aid and abet an enemy someday, and so on. I am not talking about an addiction to war itself, which is a very different matter. A compulsive preparer for war wants to go to big-time war no more than an alcoholic stockbroker wants to pass out with his head in a toilet In the Port Authority bus terminal.
Should addicts of any sort hold high office In this or any other country? Absolutely not, for their first priority will always be to satisfy their addiction, no matter how terrible the consequences may be--even to themselves.
Suppose we had an alcoholic President who still had not hit bottom and whose chief companions were drunks like himself. And suppose it were a fact, made absolutely clear to him, that if he took just one more drink, the whole planet would blow up.
So he has all the liquor thrown out of the White House, including his Aqua-Velva shaving lotion. So late at night he is terribly restless, crazy for a drink but proud of not drinking. So he opens the White House refrigerator, looking for a Tab or a Diet Pepsi, he tells himself. And there, half-hidden by a family-size jar of French's mustard, is an unopened can of Coors beer.
What do you think he'll do?
Novelist and essayist Kurt Vonnegut (1922-2007), is the author of Slaughterhouse-Five, Cat's Cradle, and Breakfast of Champions


The Great Cyber-Warfare Scam by Justin Raimondo --
Date: Wednesday, February 20, 2013, 12:37 PM

The War Party never sleeps: there are always new variations of war
propaganda coming ’round the bend. With the coming of the internet,
the latest manufactured "threat" to rear its head is "cyber-warfare,"
which is now being touted by the Obama administration and its media
fan club as the Next Big Scary Thing – but what are the facts?

The first fact we need to integrate into our analysis is that
"cyber-security" isn’t a science, it’s an industry: that is, the
entities issuing alarming reports of this lurking threat are for
profit companies mainly if not exclusively concerned with selling a
product. And while the "threat landscape," as the jargon phrases it,
is potentially very diverse, with a number of countries and non-state
actors potential combatants, our cyber-warriors have targeted China as
the main danger to our cybernetic security – the Yellow Peril of the
Internet Age. They’re stealing our technology, our secrets, and
infiltrating our very homes! This is largely baloney, as Jeffrey Carr,
founder of Project Grey Goose and Taia Global, a cyber-security firm,
and author of Inside Cyber Warfare, points out:

"[I]t’s good business today to blame China. I know from experience
that many corporations, government and DOD organizations are more
eager to buy cyber threat data that claims to focus on the PRC than
any other nation state. When the cyber security industry issues
PRC-centric reports like this one without performing any alternative
analysis of the collected data, and when the readership of these
reports are government and corporate officials without the depth of
knowledge to critically analyze what they’re reading (i.e., when they
trust the report’s authors to do the thinking for them), we wind up
being in the position that we’re in today – easily fooled into looking
in one direction when we have an entire threat landscape left
unattended. We got into that position because InfoSec vendors have
been left alone to define the threat landscape based upon their
product offerings. In other words, vendors only tell customers to
worry about the threats that their products can protect them from and
they only tell them to worry about the actors that they can identify
(or think that they can identify). This has resulted in a security
awareness clusterfuck of epic proportions."

The "cyber-threat" from China has been much in the news lately, and
any number of self-proclaimed "experts" with a financial stake in
hyping this latest bogeyman have been pointing an accusing finger at
Beijing whenever some government agency or big corporation discovers
cyber-vandals in its domain. The latest is a report issued by a
private cyber-security firm, Mandiant, which claims these attacks are
occurring under the auspices of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). It
is, of course, just a coincidence that this accusation limns a recent
National Intelligence Estimate, which – according to the New York
Times, itself supposedly victimized by Chinese hackers – "makes a
strong case that many of these hacking groups are either run by army
officers or are contractors working for commands like [PLA] Unit

Yet, as Carr discusses here, the Mandiant report has several analytic
flaws. To begin with, the "mission area," i.e. the nature and alleged
goal of these intrusions, is supposed to identify China as the culprit
because the latest APT (cyber-security jargon for "advanced persistent
threat") "steals intellectual property from English-speaking
organizations," and that these thefts coincide with the technical
requirements of China’s current Five-Year Plan.

This kind of "logic" ought to make your BS-detector go haywire,
recalling Carr’s warning that there’s a bad case of perception bias at
work here: that’s because other nations, and non-state actors such as
criminal gangs, also launch cyber-attacks on English-speaking
organizations, which in many instances parallel the interests
contained in China’s Five-Year Plan. Russia, France, Israel, and a
number of other countries have advanced cyber-warfare capabilities,
and haven’t hesitated to use them for purposes of industrial
espionage, among other reasons: Eastern European gangsters are also
players in this game. Yet there is no mention of these alternatives in
the Mandiant report: according to them, it’s all about China.

Mandiant claims that because the rash of recent intrusions have
involved operations requiring hundreds of operators, that only a
nation-state with "military-grade operations" could possibly have
carried them out. Yet more than 30 nations are currently running
"military-grade" operations, as Carr informs us: why pick on China?

Well, says Mandiant, because the intrusions they analyzed used a
Shanghai phone number to register an email account, for one. Yet this
proves exactly nothing. Okay then, what about the fact that "two of
four network ‘home’ Shanghai blocs are assigned to the Pudong New
Area," where the PLA’s Unit 61398 is located? This also proves exactly
nothing: the Pudong New Area has over 5 million inhabitants. It is
smack dab in the center of China’s booming commercial and hi-tech
metropolis. Ask yourself how many IP addresses originate from this
area. Oh, but one of the "PLA" hackers’ "self-identified location is
the Pudong New Area." Really? So what? Aside from the demographic
information supplied above, one has to wonder if these people really
believe everything they see on the Internet is true. C’mon, guys!

The New York Times has been pushing the Yellow Cyber-Peril theme ever
since their computer system was hacked, but the question of who
exactly was responsible for that intrusion is by no means proved. In a
Times piece on the subject – with the rather whiney headline "Hackers
in China Attacked The Times for Last 4 Months" – we again come across
Mandiant pointing to the Chinese military as the culprit, but their
case against the PLA falls apart under the most cursory inspection.
For example, Mandiant’s "analysis" is based in part on the observation
that these alleged Chinese

"Hacker teams regularly began work, for the most part, at 8 a.m.
Beijing time. Usually they continued for a standard work day, but
sometimes the hacking persisted until midnight. Occasionally, the
attacks stopped for two-week periods, Mandiant said, though the reason
was not clear."

Bull hockey. There are a number of other countries in the same time
zone that have active hacker communities. The idea that the timing of
these attacks somehow pinpoints "Chinese hackers" associated with the
PLA is laughable. As Carr puts it:

"The hackers could have been from anywhere in the world. The time zone
that Mandiant imagines as a Beijing workday could easily apply to a
workday in Bangkok, Singapore, Taiwan, Tibet, Seoul, and even Tallinn
all of whom have active hacker populations."

Mandiant – hired by the Times to investigate the intrusion, and
currently in negotiations with the New York Times Company over a
possible ongoing business relationship – cites the fact that the
intrusions supposed originated at some of the “same universities used
by the Chinese military to attack U.S. military contractors in the
past.” Yet there are many universities located in the Jinan area
Mandiant homes in on, and geolocation in this instance, as Carr says,
"means absolutely nothing." He also raises an important point: if the
Chinese military was behind the Times hack, then why would they launch
these attacks from a location previously identified with the PLA?
That’s seems rather too obvious, especially in view of the lengths to
which hackers go to cover their tracks. Wouldn’t China’s Ministry of
State Security, their official intelligence agency, be assigned that
task? Yet their facilities are located in Beijing, over 200 miles away
from Jinan.

Most people are ignorant of the technical details utilized by
commercial enterprises like Mandiant to gin up an alleged "threat."
One supposedly scary tool used by the "Chinese" hackers is a Remote
Access Tool, and we are told that the specific methods used in the
past by alleged Chinese hackers are matched to the Times intrusion.
This is just plain wrong, however, as Carr explains:

"The article mentioned the hackers use of a Remote Access Tool (RAT).
One such widely used tool is called GhostRAT. The fact that it was
used in an attack against the Dalai Lama in 2008 (GhostNet) doesn’t
mean that all of the later attacks which used this tool originated
with the same group. In fact, even the GhostNet researchers refrained
from attributing this attack to China’s government.

"Another tool whose use is often blamed on Chinese hackers is the
‘xKungFoo script.’ Like GhostRAT, the xKungFoo script is widely
available for anyone to use so even if it was originally created by a
Chinese hacker, it doesn’t mean that it is used by Chinese hackers in
all instances. I personally know Russian, English, and Indian hackers
who write and speak Chinese."

This is simple logic: you don’t have to be a cyberwarfare "expert" to
realize there are many possibilities when it comes to identifying the
people behind the methods. If you’ve already decided who is the
perpetrator, however, then Mandiant’s accusations directed at Beijing
fit neatly into the available "evidence." That’s how confirmation bias

The major piece of "evidence" supposedly pointing to the Chinese
government is the timing of the intrusion: just as research for a
Times story on the financial dealings of a top Chinese government
official, Wen JaiBo, was "nearing completion." According to the Times,
the hackers gained access to email accounts belonging to Shanghai
bureau chief David Barboza, author of the Wen expose, as well as Jim
Yardley, bureau chief covering South Asia. Yet the Wen connection is
contradicted in the very next paragraph of the Times‘s own account,
which says:

"’Computer security experts found no evidence that sensitive e-mails
or files from the reporting of our articles about the Wen family were
accessed, downloaded or copied,’ said Jill Abramson, executive editor
of The Times."

So what’s the connection to the Wen story? In addition, Yardley had
nothing to do with the Wen story, and yet his email was also breached,
along with the passwords of 53 employees who are not in the Times
newsroom. So what does this add up to? A big fat zero, as far as
evidence of China’s involvement is concerned. China is merely the
go-to cyber-villain of the moment, and this is certainly true where
Mandiant is concerned.

The same kind of dicey "evidence" is being used to accuse Iran – you
saw this coming, didn’t you? Again, the tech-ignorant New York Times
is in the lead, with a story echoing the claims of US officials that
Tehran was behind the recent cyber-attacks launched against several
American banks. You can almost hear the spooky music in the first two
paragraphs of the piece, by Nicole Perlroth and Quentin Hardy, which
gives an account of how the hackers slowed down and disabled banking
sites, and then goes on to say:

"There was something disturbingly different about the wave of online
attacks on American banks in recent weeks. Security researchers say
that instead of exploiting individual computers, the attackers
engineered networks of computers in data centers, transforming the
online equivalent of a few yapping Chihuahuas into a pack of
fire-breathing Godzillas."

Godzilla’s on the loose! And it’s an Iranian Godzilla! Yikes!

"The skill required to carry out attacks on this scale has convinced
United States government officials and security researchers that they
are the work of Iran, most likely in retaliation for economic
sanctions and online attacks by the United States.

"’There is no doubt within the U.S. government that Iran is behind
these attacks,’ said James A. Lewis, a former official in the State
and Commerce Departments and a computer security expert at the Center
for Strategic and International Studies in Washington."

The skill required to carry out these attacks was minimal. As Roel
Schouwenberg, senior researcher at Kaspersky Labs, put it:

"We can confirm that the attacks being reported are happening;
however, the malware being used, known as ItsOKNoProblemBro, is far
from sophisticated. It’s really rather simple. It’s also only one part
of the puzzle but it seems to be effective, which is all that matters
to the attackers. Going strictly by the publicly known technical
details, we don’t see enough evidence that would categorize this
operation as something only a nation-state sponsored actor could pull

More "evidence" offered in support of the "Iran-did-it" theory is that
these attacks did not garner any information: no data systems were
breached. It was, in short, pure cyber-malice directed at American
banks. If this is supposed to somehow prove the Iranians are the
culprits, then it is weak tea indeed: because there are any number of
groups who hate American bankers, including, I would venture, the vast
majority of the American people. These DDOS attacks seem more like the
sort of thing we might expect from a group like "Anonymous" than from
a state actor such as Iran.

Of course, the paucity of evidence didn’t stop Sen. Joe Lieberman from

"I don’t believe these were just hackers who were skilled enough to
cause disruption of the websites. I think this was done by Iran … and
I believe it was a response to the increasingly strong economic
sanctions that the United States and our European allies have put on
Iranian financial institutions."

As is the case with Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons program, which our
own spooks have said does not presently exist, the technical details
are obscure to most of us, and therefore this realm is given over to
"experts," both real and imagined. To Sen. Lieberman and all too many
in the media, it’s just a matter of picking and choosing your
"experts," and making the "facts" fit your preconceived notions.

Aside from ginning up conflict with the War Party’s chosen targets,
the whole cyber-war scare-mongering campaign, whether the alleged
"threat" is said to be emanating from China, Iran, or wherever, is
also very convenient for proponents of Internet regulation who want to
install back doors on every web site, and every software system, so
the feds can "trace" these alleged "cyber-terrorists." It is, in
short, a scam, part and parcel of a political campaign to rein in the
wild and wooly – and largely unregulated – Internet, and make it more
amenable to the interests of our wise rulers.

The mystification of science, and the culture of "expertise," has
greatly aided the War Party in their propaganda efforts. Instead of
making up stories about babies being bayoneted in their cribs –
although there is still some of that – we are given mind-numbingly
technical explanations that point to purported acts of
"cyber-terrorism" carried out by China, Iran, or the
villain-of-the-moment. Except that the supposed "evidence" turns out
to based on non-credible assumptions and faulty technical analysis.

Remember, we’ve been through this sort of thing before: all the
"intelligence" supposedly pointed to the irrefutable "fact" that Iraq
possessed "weapons of mass destruction," which it was about to launch
against its neighbors. That turned out to be a lie. Much of this
baloney came wrapped up in impressive-sounding technical jargon, and
was validated by the media’s chosen "experts."

Has anybody learned anything from that experience? I’m thinking in
particular of the members of the Fourth Estate, otherwise known as
"journalists." The answer, unfortunately, seems to be no.

Bull’s Eye:  Riff on Lines by Neruda
By Dick Bennett
From every mother and child of Islam,
Islam emerges.
From every killed child, killed mother,
an MK-47.
From every crime,
To find the bull’s eye of our hearts.

Dedicated to poems protesting war, Cry Out, itself dedicated “To all the young people sent forth as gladiators, and to all the men, women, and children who are trivialized as the ‘collateral damage’ of war.”

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Tomgram: Andrew Bacevich, The Eternal War?
Posted by Andrew Bacevich at 8:26am, May 28, 2013.
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[Note for TomDispatch Readers: TD's version of must-see TV: last week, Andrew Bacevich argued Stephen Colbert (or at least the character he plays) to a draw in a telling and funny episode of "the Colbert Report" which takes up the issue of the open-ended Authorization for Use of Military Force resolution Congress passed days after 9/11 that started us on our present path.  Tom]
Twelve and a half years after Congress didn’t declare war on an organization of hundreds or, at most, thousands of jihadis scattered mainly across the backlands of the planet, and instead let President George W. Bush and his cohort loose to do whatever they wanted; twelve and a half years after the president, his top officials, his neocon supporters, assembled pundits, and others swore we were nonetheless “at war” and the country in “wartime,” after our media beat the drums for “war” and assured us that “war” was our fate, after followers of the president insisted we were entering a monumental, multigenerational struggle, or even World War IV; twelve and a half years after the war that hadn’t been declared was launched and the bombing of Afghanistan began, after the CIA and Washington targeted up to 80 countries in a “worldwide attack matrix” -- later given the leave-no-location-out name the Global War on Terror -- and after top Washington officials swore we would soon “drain the [global] swamp,” another president has now assured us that someday, in a distant future, in a way that we might not even notice (“Our victory against terrorism won’t be measured in a surrender ceremony at a battleship...”), we might possibly find ourselves approaching the sort-of-end of what will have been a 20- or 30-year conflict.
At the National Defense University (NDU) last Thursday, President Obama, so media reports and editorials assured us, gave a speech in which he promised to dial back the war on terror as a “global” operation, curtail U.S. drone operations abroad, and launch another effort to whittle down, if not close, Guantanamo.  But a careful look at the text of his speech indicates that he still accepts the most basic premises of the previous administration: that we are “at war”; that the country, despite visible evidence to the contrary, is in “wartime”; and that, when a president decides it’s necessary, this planet will remain a global free-fire zone for drones, special operations forces, or whatever else he choses to throw at it.  He may even, reports Jonathan Landay of McClatchy News, have quietly expanded the categories of human beings that U.S. drones can attack. 
In those twelve and a half years between 9/11 and the recent speech, it’s been a bumpy ride through a minefield of unexpected IEDs.  Two invasions of the Eurasian mainland have led to two defeats that passed for better here and are bringing U.S. combat troops home with, as this president said, their “heads held high,” but also with massive numbers of PTSD casessuicides, and other debilitating issues.  In the meantime, America’s global warring has resulted in a significant destabilization of the Greater Middle East.  (The present Syrian disaster would have been unimaginable without the U.S. invasion of Iraq.)  It’s also resulted in the growth of an ever larger secret military cocooned inside the U.S. military, the special operations forces -- 10,000 of whom are now in Afghanistan alone -- and the launching of a series of drone wars and assassination campaigns across a significant swath of the planet.  These, from a White House that has taken on ever more power to do as it pleases in foreign and military policy, the president now claims to be curtailing and bringing under his version of the rule of law, largely because they haven't been working out so terribly well.  Finally, there’s the spread of the al-Qaeda franchise into areas Washington has helped unsettle, which, as the president indicated, ensures that our “war” cannot end any time soon.  Think of it as a Mobius strip of self-justifying conflict.
And yet, the ability of the U.S. to “project force” everywhere from the Mali-Niger border to the Philippines remains impressive.  Even its capacity to engage in a series of disasters over such an expanse of the planet for twelve and a half years and still be talking about “pivoting” militarily to Asia, while maintaining a massive build-up of U.S. forces around Iran, should give anyone pause.  It's a reminder that the now-seldom-heard term "sole superpower” continues to mean something.
But what? Somehow, like our empire of bases (and the private contractors that go with it), it’s been hard to absorb the continual use of such power projection and the vast web of military-to-military relationships and weapons sales that go with it, or the increasing ability of the White House alone to determine what makes sense and what doesn’t abroad, even as both the Greater Middle East and what’s left of American democracy and liberties are further destabilized.
Much of this has not yet been taken in here in a meaningful way, though you can feel it lurking, half-expressed, half-grasped, in the president’s NDU speech.  To begin to understand what’s actually been going on, it would help to define the “war” that we’ve been fighting all these years from North Africa to China's Central Asian border.  TomDispatch regular Andrew Bacevich, whose latest book Breach of Trust: How Americans Failed Their Soldiers and Their Country will be published in September, suggests that a good place to begin is by naming that now nameless “war.” (In fact, if, having checked out his piece, TomDispatch readers want to send in their own naming suggestions, along with their explanations for them, we might highlight a few of them above a future post.) Tom 
Naming Our Nameless War 
How Many Years Will It Be? 
By Andrew J. Bacevich
For well over a decade now the United States has been “a nation at war.” Does that war have a name?
It did at the outset.  After 9/11, George W. Bush's administration wasted no time in announcing that the U.S. was engaged in a Global War on Terrorism, or GWOT.  With few dissenters, the media quickly embraced the term. The GWOT promised to be a gargantuan, transformative enterprise. The conflict begun on 9/11 would define the age. In neoconservative circles, it was known as World War IV.
Upon succeeding to the presidency in 2009, however, Barack Obama without fanfare junked Bush’s formulation (as he did again in a speech at the National Defense University last week).  Yet if the appellation went away, the conflict itself, shorn of identifying marks, continued.
Does it matter that ours has become and remains a nameless war? Very much so.
Names bestow meaning.  When it comes to war, a name attached to a date can shape our understanding of what the conflict was all about.  To specify when a war began and when it ended is to privilege certain explanations of its significance while discrediting others. Let me provide a few illustrations.
With rare exceptions, Americans today characterize the horrendous fraternal bloodletting of 1861-1865 as the Civil War.  Yet not many decades ago, diehard supporters of the Lost Cause insisted on referring to that conflict as the War Between the States or the War for Southern Independence (or even the War of Northern Aggression).  The South may have gone down in defeat, but the purposes for which Southerners had fought -- preserving a distinctive way of life and the principle of states’ rights -- had been worthy, even noble.  So at least they professed to believe, with their preferred names for the war reflecting that belief.
Schoolbooks tell us that the Spanish-American War began in April 1898 and ended in August of that same year.  The name and dates fit nicely with a widespread inclination from President William McKinley’s day to our own to frame U.S. intervention in Cuba as an altruistic effort to liberate that island from Spanish oppression.
Yet the Cubans were not exactly bystanders in that drama.  By 1898, they had been fighting for years to oust their colonial overlords.  And although hostilities in Cuba itself ended on August 12th, they dragged on in the Philippines, another Spanish colony that the United States had seized for reasons only remotely related to liberating Cubans.  Notably, U.S. troops occupying the Philippines waged a brutal war not against Spaniards but against Filipino nationalists no more inclined to accept colonial rule by Washington than by Madrid.  So widen the aperture to include this Cuban prelude and the Filipino postlude and you end up with something like this:  The Spanish-American-Cuban-Philippines War of 1895-1902.  Too clunky?  How about the War for the American Empire?  This much is for sure: rather than illuminating, the commonplace textbook descriptor serves chiefly to conceal.
Strange as it may seem, Europeans once referred to the calamitous events of 1914-1918 as the Great War.  When Woodrow Wilson decided in 1917 to send an army of doughboys to fight alongside the Allies, he went beyond Great.  According to the president, the Great War was going to be the War To End All Wars.  Alas, things did not pan out as he expected.  Perhaps anticipating the demise of his vision of permanent peace, War Department General Order 115, issued on October 7, 1919, formally declared that, at least as far as the United States was concerned, the recently concluded hostilities would be known simply as the World War.
In September 1939 -- presto chango! -- the World War suddenly became theFirst World War, the Nazi invasion of Poland having inaugurated a Second World War, also known as World War II or more cryptically WWII.  To be sure, Soviet dictator Josef Stalin preferred the Great Patriotic War.  Although this found instant -- almost unanimous -- favor among Soviet citizens, it did not catch on elsewhere.
Does World War II accurately capture the events it purports to encompass?  With the crusade against the Axis now ranking alongside the crusade against slavery as a myth-enshrouded chapter in U.S. history to which all must pay homage, Americans are no more inclined to consider that question than to consider why a playoff to determine the professional baseball championship of North America constitutes a “World Series.”
In fact, however convenient and familiar, World War II is misleading and not especially useful.  The period in question saw at least two wars, each only tenuously connected to the other, each having distinctive origins, each yielding a different outcome.  To separate them is to transform the historical landscape.
On the one hand, there was the Pacific War, pitting the United States against Japan.  Formally initiated by the December 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor, it had in fact begun a decade earlier when Japan embarked upon a policy of armed conquest in Manchuria.  At stake was the question of who would dominate East AsiaJapan’s crushing defeat at the hands of the United States, sealed by two atomic bombs in 1945, answered that question (at least for a time).
Then there was the European War, pitting Nazi Germany first against Great Britain and France, but ultimately against a grand alliance led by the United States, the Soviet Union, and a fast fading British Empire.  At stake was the question of who would dominate EuropeGermany’s defeat resolved that issue (at least for a time): no one would.  To prevent any single power from controlling Europe, two outside powers divided it.
This division served as the basis for the ensuing Cold War, which wasn’t actually cold, but also (thankfully) wasn’t World War III, the retrospective insistence of bellicose neoconservatives notwithstanding.  But when did the Cold War begin?  Was it in early 1947, when President Harry Truman decided that Stalin’s Russia posed a looming threat and committed the United States to a strategy of containment?  Or was it in 1919, when Vladimir Lenin decided that Winston Churchill’s vow to “strangle Bolshevism in its cradle” posed a looming threat to the Russian Revolution, with an ongoing Anglo-American military intervention evincing a determination to make good on that vow?
Separating the war against Nazi Germany from the war against Imperial Japan opens up another interpretive possibility.  If you incorporate the European conflict of 1914-1918 and the European conflict of 1939-1945 into a single narrative, you get a Second Thirty Years War (the first having occurred from 1618-1648) -- not so much a contest of good against evil, as a mindless exercise in self-destruction that represented the ultimate expression of European folly.
So, yes, it matters what we choose to call the military enterprise we’ve been waging not only in Iraq and Afghanistan, but also in any number of other countries scattered hither and yon across the Islamic world.  Although the Obama administration appears no more interested than the Bush administration in saying when that enterprise will actually end, the date we choose as its starting point also matters.
Although Washington seems in no hurry to name its nameless war -- and will no doubt settle on something self-serving or anodyne if it ever finally addresses the issue -- perhaps we should jump-start the process.  Let’s consider some possible options, names that might actually explain what’s going on.
The Long War: Coined not long after 9/11 by senior officers in the Pentagon, this formulation never gained traction with either civilian officials or the general public.  Yet the Long War deserves consideration, even though -- or perhaps because -- it has lost its luster with the passage of time.
At the outset, it connoted grand ambitions buoyed by extreme confidence in the efficacy of American military might.  This was going to be one for the ages, a multi-generational conflict yielding sweeping results.
The Long War did begin on a hopeful note.  The initial entry into Afghanistan and then into Iraq seemed to herald “home by Christmas” triumphal parades.  Yet this soon proved an illusion as victory slipped from Washington’s grasp.  By 2005 at the latest, events in the field had dashed the neo-Wilsonian expectations nurtured back home.
With the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan dragging on, “long” lost its original connotation.  Instead of “really important," it became a synonym for “interminable.”  Today, the Long War does succinctly capture the experience of American soldiers who have endured multiple combat deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan.
For Long War combatants, the object of the exercise has become to persist.  As for winning, it’s not in the cards. The Long War just might conclude by the end of 2014 if President Obama keeps his pledge to end the U.S. combat role in Afghanistan and if he avoids getting sucked into Syria’s civil war.  So the troops may hope.
The War Against Al-Qaeda: It began in August 1996 when Osama bin Laden issued a "Declaration of War against the Americans Occupying the Land of the Two Holy Places,” i.e., Saudi Arabia.  In February 1998, a second bin Laden manifesto announced that killing Americans, military and civilian alike, had become “an individual duty for every Muslim who can do it in any country in which it is possible to do it.”
Although President Bill Clinton took notice, the U.S. response to bin Laden’s provocations was limited and ineffectual.  Only after 9/11 did Washington take this threat seriously.  Since then, apart from a pointless excursion into Iraq (where, in Saddam Hussein’s day, al-Qaeda did not exist), U.S. attention has been focused on Afghanistan, where U.S. troops have waged the longest war in American history, and on Pakistan’s tribal borderlands, where a CIA drone campaign is ongoing.  By the end of President Obama’s first term, U.S. intelligence agencies were reporting that a combined CIA/military campaign had largely destroyed bin Laden’s organization.  Bin Laden himself, of course, was dead. 
Could the United States have declared victory in its unnamed war at this point?  Perhaps, but it gave little thought to doing so.  Instead, the national security apparatus had already trained its sights on various al-Qaeda “franchises” and wannabes, militant groups claiming the bin Laden brand and waging their own version of jihad.  These offshoots emerged in the Maghreb, Yemen, Somalia, Nigeria, and -- wouldn’t you know it -- post-Saddam Iraq, among other places.  The question as to whether they actually posed a danger to the United States got, at best, passing attention -- the label “al-Qaeda” eliciting the same sort of Pavlovian response that the word “communist” once did.
Americans should not expect this war to end anytime soon.  Indeed, the Pentagon’s impresario of special operations recently speculated -- by no means unhappily -- that it would continue globally for “at least 10 to 20 years.”   Freely translated, his statement undoubtedly means: “No one really knows, but we’re planning to keep at it for one helluva long time.”
The War For/Against/About Israel: It began in 1948.  For many Jews, the founding of the state of Israel signified an ancient hope fulfilled.  For many Christians, conscious of the sin of anti-Semitism that had culminated in the Holocaust, it offered a way to ease guilty consciences, albeit mostly at others’ expense.  For many Muslims, especially Arabs, and most acutely Arabs who had been living in Palestine, the founding of the Jewish state represented a grave injustice.  It was yet another unwelcome intrusion engineered by the West -- colonialism by another name.
Recounting the ensuing struggle without appearing to take sides is almost impossible.  Yet one thing seems clear: in terms of military involvement, the United States attempted in the late 1940s and 1950s to keep its distance.  Over the course of the 1960s, this changed.  The U.S. became Israel’s principal patron, committed to maintaining (and indeed increasing) its military superiority over its neighbors.
In the decades that followed, the two countries forged a multifaceted “strategic relationship.”  A compliant Congress provided Israel with weapons and other assistance worth many billions of dollars, testifying to what has become an unambiguous and irrevocable U.S. commitment to the safety and well-being of the Jewish state.  The two countries share technology and intelligence.  Meanwhile, just as Israel had disregarded U.S. concerns when it came to developing nuclear weapons, it ignored persistent U.S. requests that it refrain from colonizing territory that it has conquered.
When it comes to identifying the minimal essential requirements of Israeli security and the terms that will define any Palestinian-Israeli peace deal, the United States defers to Israel.  That may qualify as an overstatement, but only slightly.  Given the Israeli perspective on those requirements and those terms -- permanent military supremacy and a permanently demilitarized Palestine allowed limited sovereignty -- the War For/Against/About Israel is unlikely to end anytime soon either.  Whether the United States benefits from the perpetuation of this war is difficult to say, but we are in it for the long haul.
The War for the Greater Middle East: I confess that this is the name I would choose for Washington’s unnamed war and is, in fact, the title of a course I teach.  (A tempting alternative is the Second Hundred Years War, the "first" having begun in 1337 and ended in 1453.)
This war is about to hit the century mark, its opening chapter coinciding with the onset of World War I.  Not long after the fighting on the Western Front in Europe had settled into a stalemate, the British government, looking for ways to gain the upper hand, set out to dismantle the Ottoman Empire whose rulers had foolishly thrown in their lot with the German Reich against the Allies.
By the time the war ended with Germany and the Turks on the losing side, Great Britain had already begun to draw up new boundaries, invent states, and install rulers to suit its predilections, while also issuing mutually contradictory promises to groups inhabiting these new precincts of its empire.  Toward what end?  Simply put, the British were intent on calling the shots from Egypt to India, whether by governing through intermediaries or ruling directly.  The result was a new Middle East and a total mess.
London presided over this mess, albeit with considerable difficulty, until the end of World War II.  At this point, by abandoning efforts to keep Arabs and Zionists from one another's throats in Palestine and by accepting the partition of India, they signaled their intention to throw in the towel. Alas, Washington proved more than willing to assume Britain’s role.  The lure of oil was strong.  So too were the fears, however overwrought, of the Soviets extending their influence into the region. 
Unfortunately, the Americans enjoyed no more success in promoting long-term, pro-Western stability than had the British.  In some respects, they only made things worse, with the joint CIA-MI6 overthrow of a democratically elected government in Iran in 1953 offering a prime example of a “success” that, to this day, has never stopped breeding disaster.
Only after 1980 did things get really interesting, however.  The Carter Doctrine promulgated that year designated the Persian Gulf a vital national security interest and opened the door to greatly increased U.S. military activity not just in the Gulf, but also throughout the Greater Middle East (GME).  Between 1945 and 1980, considerable numbers of American soldiers lost their lives fighting in Asia and elsewhere.  During that period, virtually none were killed fighting in the GME.  Since 1990, in contrast, virtually none have been killed fighting anywhere except in the GME.
What does the United States hope to achieve in its inherited and unending War for the Greater Middle East?  To pacify the region?  To remake it in our image?  To drain its stocks of petroleum?  Or just keeping the lid on?  However you define the war’s aims, things have not gone well, which once again suggests that, in some form, it will continue for some time to come.  If there’s any good news here, it’s the prospect of having ever more material for my seminar, which may soon expand into a two-semester course.
The War Against Islam: This war began nearly 1,000 years ago and continued for centuries, a storied collision between Christendom and the Muslim ummah.  For a couple of hundred years, periodic eruptions of large-scale violence occurred until the conflict finally petered out with the last crusade sometime in the fourteenth century.
In those days, many people had deemed religion something worth fighting for, a proposition to which the more sophisticated present-day inhabitants of Christendom no longer subscribe.  Yet could that religious war have resumed in our own day?  Professor Samuel Huntington thought so, although he styled the conflict a “clash of civilizations.”  Some militant radical Islamists agree with Professor Huntington, citing as evidence the unwelcome meddling of “infidels,” mostly wearing American uniforms, in various parts of the Muslim world.  Some militant evangelical Christians endorse this proposition, even if they take a more favorable view of U.S. troops occupying and drones targeting Muslim countries.
In explaining the position of the United States government, religious scholars like George W. Bush and Barack (Hussein!) Obama have consistently expressed a contrary view.  Islam is a religion of peace, they declare, part of the great Abrahamic triad.  That the other elements of that triad are likewise committed to peace is a proposition that Bush, Obama, and most Americans take for granted, evidence not required.  There should be no reason why Christians, Jews, and Muslims can’t live together in harmony.
Still, remember back in 2001 when, in an unscripted moment, President Bush described the war barely begun as a “crusade”?  That was just a slip of the tongue, right?  If not, we just might end up calling this one the Eternal War.
Andrew J. Bacevich is a professor of history and international relations at Boston University and a TomDispatch regular. His next book, Breach of Trust: How Americans Failed Their Soldiers and Their Country, will appear in September.
Follow TomDispatch on Twitter and join us on Facebook or Tumblr. Check out the newest Dispatch book, Nick Turse’s The Changing Face of Empire: Special Ops, Drones, Proxy Fighters, Secret Bases, and Cyberwarfare.
Copyright 2013 Andrew J. Bace

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Running Out of Everything
Review By Amitabh Pal of The Race for What’s Left: The Global Scramble for the World’s Last Resources by Michael T. Klare.   Metropolitan Books, 2012.
Michael Klare’s new book is
ripped from the headlines—
a good and a bad
thing. Any avid news junkie will
know about a considerable portion
of what he depicts. At the same
time, he provides background and
context that is missing in much of
the coverage.
Klare, a professor at Hampshire
College and The Nation’s defense
correspondent, has done yeoman’s
service over many years in analyzing
issues such as “rogue states,” small
arms, and American defense planning.
In the recent past, he has
focused on resource conflict, and this
is his fourth book in that series. (Full
disclosure: Klare has contributed
pieces to The Progressive and the Progressive
Media Project.)
Klare’s thesis is that the world is
running out of easily obtainable
resources for operating the global
economy. The future, he says, portends
environmental disasters,
increasing conflict, and a desperate
scramble for what remains. Klare
includes in his survey everything
from oil and natural gas to food
and rare minerals. This readable
account deals with an extremely
important issue.
“The era of readily accessible oil
tionals view the Canadian oil tar
sands as such an opportunity (they
don’t have to deal with unreliable governments
in the developing world).
The extraction process is “expensive,
burns up tremendous amounts
of energy, and involves multiple environmental
risks,” he writes. “Yet even
so, many of the major energy firms
are flocking to Alberta in a desperate
search for new hydrocarbon
Similarly, he offers invaluable
details on the scary ways that waste -
water from fracking is stored—and
the potential health hazards this represents.
Klare also has a chapter on the
land grab in Africa. And while others
have covered this (such as In These
Times last September), Klare adds
depth by explaining the reasons that
China and India have entered this
realm in a big way.
The involvement of China, India,
and other rising nations in the hunt
for scarce resources brings with it an
ever-increasing chance of war, he
says. China’s disputes with several of
its neighbors over small islands in the
surrounding seas have heated up in
recent months. But will these disputes
break out into large-scale conflict?
Unlike Klare, who sees a distinct
possibility, I seriously doubt it.
The Chinese regime, while touchily
nationalistic, is also quite pragmatic
and is a master at making calibrated
Klare also scrutinizes the checkered
record of the Obama Administration
on resource exploitation. He points
out that it has permitted oil exploration
off the Alaskan coast and has
been enthusiastic about fracking.
Ashortcoming of Klare’s book is
that it is based largely on secondary
news sources. A few
firsthand accounts would have added
more perspective. And he lays out his
points multiple times—sometimes in
the introduction, middle, and conclusion.
The predictions Klare makes are
alarming in their intensity, and we
are already seeing some of that come
to pass. (The BP oil spill is very
prominently featured here, and Klare
provides useful details that go beyond
the media coverage.) The question
here is how likely is Klare’s overall
scenario? I am reminded here of a
famous bet that environmentalist
Paul Erlich made with the libertarian
economist Julian Simon in 1980 that
the prices of copper, chromium,
nickel, tin, and tungsten would go up
in the next decade. Erlich lost, since
he didn’t take into account technological
Related to this is the “peak oil”
hypothesis, which postulates that the
production of oil has reached a peak
and will be in a decline from now on.
Though Klare’s musings on this subject
occupy only a small portion of
the book, he is on the side of the
declinists. But this is a contentious
issue, with even environmentalists
like George Monbiot of the opinion
that the thesis is overstated.
To his credit, Klare does discuss
the possibility that substitute materials
could mitigate the resource shortage,
but he is skeptical of the idea
that acceptable substitutes could be
found soon. Plus, he says these alternative
materials may create shortages
of their own, even if he strongly urges
going that route.
“The race to adapt,” he says, “will
cause a grand reshuffling of the global
power hierarchy. But it is not likely to
end in war, widespread starvation, or a
massive environmental catastrophe—
the probable results of persisting with
the race for what’s left.”
Klare is wagering on what is yet to
come. The question is whether he will
win or lose the bet. On the answer
depends our collective future.

Amitabh Pal, the managing editor of
The Progressive and co-editor of the
Progressive Media Project, is the author
of the recent book “ ‘Islam’ Means Peace:
Understanding the Muslim Principle of
Nonviolence Today” (Praeger).

The Nile, Egypt's lifeline in the desert, comes under threat

Poor African capitals are increasingly challenging Cairo for the river's water, without which Egypt's economy would wither and die.

November 11, 2012|By Jeffrey Fleishman, Los Angeles Times
·                                 Egyptians sit near the Nile River at sunset in Cairo. Neighboring African countries at the river’s source, notably Ethiopia, no longer feel bound by colonial-era agreements and are moving to siphon away larger shares of water for electricity, irrigation and business to meet demands of burgeoning populations.
Egyptians sit near the Nile River at sunset in Cairo. Neighboring African… (John Moore / Getty Images )
CAIRO — Overwhelmed by cascading economic and political problems since the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak, this nation teeters from within even as it biggest threat may lie hundreds of miles away in the African highlands. Buried in the headlines is the future of the Nile River — and thus the fate of Egypt itself.
Mubarak long neglected the security danger posed by other nations' claims to the timeless pulse that provides 95% of this desert country's water, without which its delta farmlands would wither and its economy die. As poor African capitals increasingly challenge Cairo, however, the struggle has become one of the most pressing foreign policy tests for Egypt's new president, Mohamed Morsi.
African countries at the river's source, notably Ethiopia, no longer feel bound by colonial-era agreements on water rights and are moving to siphon away larger shares of water for electricity, irrigation and business to meet demands of burgeoning populations.
It is a skirmish involving diplomats, engineers and veiled threats of war over geography's blessings and slights and how nations in a new century will divvy up a river on whose banks civilizations have risen and tumbled.
"All of Egyptian life is based on the Nile. Without it there is nothing," said Moujahed Achouri, the representative for the United Nations' Food and Agricultural Organization in Egypt.
Morsi's acknowledgment of the water crisis and his desire to reach a compromise to protect his country's strategic and historical claim is evident: The Islamist leader has visited key Nile countries twice since his inauguration in June, and his prime minister, Hesham Kandil, is a former water and irrigation minister with connections to officials in African governments. An Egyptian delegation recently toured the region, listening to how Cairo might help build hospitals and schools in villages and jungles.
An advisor to the president quoted in Al Ahram Weekly said this of Morsi: "The man was shocked when he received a review about the state of ties we have with Nile basin countries. The previous regime should be tried for overlooking such a strategic interest."
For decades, Egypt had concentrated on problems closer to home, including keeping the Arab-Israeli peace and tending to wars from Lebanon to Iraq. Mubarak, who survived a 1995 assassination attempt by Islamic extremists in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, had paid little attention to East Africa. But his regime was adamant — at one point hinting at military action — in preserving the existing Nile treaties.
That echoed a warning from his predecessor, President Anwar Sadat, in 1979: "The only matter that could take Egypt to war again is water."
In a 1929 treaty and through other pacts, Egypt and its southern neighbor, Sudan, were granted the bulk of the Nile's flow. The logic — filtered through decades of politics and power struggles — was that Egypt could not survive without the river. Nile basin countries, including Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania, have seasonal rains and other water sources.
But economic pressure and increasing demand for energy and development have turned African countries' attention to the Nile. Since 2010, Ethiopia, which now gets only 3% of its water from the Nile, and five other upstream countries have indicated they would divert more water and no longer honor Egypt's veto power over building projects on the river.
The biggest challenge to Cairo is the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam. Experts estimate that the hydropower project, which is under construction and is expected to cost at least $4.8 billion, could reduce the river's flow to Egypt by as much as 25% during the three years it would take to fill the reservoir behind the dam. The project faces a number of potential setbacks and lost its biggest proponent when Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi died in August.
Ethiopia has sought to reassure Cairo that Egypt's annual share of 55.5 billion cubic meters of Nile water — about two-thirds of the river's flow — will not be disrupted and that the new dam may provide low-cost electricity to its neighbors. But the Egyptians are suspicious.
"Egypt has entered a stage where its resources are depleting and population is rapidly increasing," said Hani Raslan, an expert on the Nile basin for Al Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies in Cairo. "If the dam is complete … this will mean Ethiopia will turn into an enemy for Egypt because it will essentially threaten the country's safety, development and livelihood of its people."
He added, "Egypt would legally have the right to defend itself by going to war."

War Is Horrible, but . . . 
Anyone who has done even a little reading about the theory and practice of war, whether in political theory, international relations, theology, history, or common journalistic commentary, has encountered a sentence of the form “war is horrible, but . . . .” In this construction, the phrase that follows the conjunction explains why a certain war was (or now is or someday will be) an action that ought to have been (or ought to be) undertaken notwithstanding its admitted horrors. The frequent, virtually formulaic use of this expression attests that nobody cares to argue, say, that war is a beautiful, humane, uplifting, or altogether splendid course of action and therefore the more often people fight, the better.
Some time ago—in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, for example—one might encounter a writer, such as Theodore Roosevelt, who forthrightly affirmed that war is manly and invigorating for the nation and the soldiers that engage in it: war keeps a nation from “getting soft.” Although this opinion is no longer expressed openly with great frequency, something akin to it may yet survive, as Chris Hedges argues in War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning (2002). Nowadays, however, even those who find meaning for their lives by involvement in war, perhaps only marginal or symbolic involvement, do not often extol war as such.
Instead, they are apt to justify a nation’s engagement in war by calling attention to alternative, even more horrible outcomes that, retrospectively, would have occurred if the nation had not gone to war or, prospectively, will occur if it does not go to war. This seemingly reasonable “balancing” form of argument often sounds stronger than it really is, especially when it is made more or less in passing. People may easily be swayed by a weak argument, however, if they fail to appreciate the defects of the typically expressed “horrible, but” apology for war.
Rather than plow through various sources on my bookshelves to compile examples, I have availed myself of modern technology. A Google search for the exact term “war is horrible but” on September 11, 2006, identified 1,450 instances. Rest assured that this sample is smaller than the entire universe of such usage—some texts have yet to be captured electronically. Among the examples I drew from the World Wide Web are the following fourteen statements. I identify the person who made the statement only when he is well-known.

(1) “War is horrible. But no one wants to see a world in which a regime with no regard whatsoever for international law—for the welfare of its own people—or for the will of the United Nations—has weapons of mass destruction.” [U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage]
This statement was part of a speech Armitage gave on January 21, 2003, shortly before the U.S. government unleashed its armed forces to wreak “shock and awe” on the nearly defenseless people of Iraq. The speech repeated the Bush administration’s standard prewar litany of accusations, including several claims later revealed to be false, and so it cannot be viewed as anything but bellicose propaganda. Yet it does not differ much from what many others were saying at the time.
On its own terms, the statement scarcely serves to justify a war. A regime’s disregard of international law, its own people’s wellbeing, and the will of the United Nations, combined with possession of weapons of mass destruction—these conditions apply to several nations. They no more justify a military attack on Iraq than they justify an attack on Pakistan, France, India, Russia, China, the United Kingdom, Israel or, for that matter, the United States itself.
(2) “War is terrible, war is horrible, but war is also at times necessary and the only means of stopping evil.”
The only means of stopping evil? How can such an exclusivity exist? Has evil conduct never been stopped except by war? For example, has shunning―exclusion from commerce, financial systems, communications, transportation systems, and other means of international cooperation―never served to discipline an evil nation-state? Might it do so if seriously tried? Why must we leap to the conclusion that only war will serve, when other measures have scarcely even been considered, much less been seriously attempted? If war is really as horrible as everyone says, then it would seem that we have a moral obligation to try very hard to achieve the desired suppression of evil-doing by means other than resort to warfare, which is itself always a manifest evil, even when it is the lesser one.
(3) “No news shows [during World War II] were showing German civilians getting fried and saying how sad it was. It was war against butchers and war is horrible, but it’s war, and to defend human decency, sometimes war is necessary.” [Ben Stein]
Stein is a knowledgeable man. He surely knows that the U.S. government imposed draconian censorship of war news during World War II. Perhaps the censors had their reasons for keeping scenes of incinerated German civilians away from the U.S. public. After all, even if Americans in general had extraordinarily cruel and callous attitudes toward German civilians during the war, many Americans had relatives and friends in Germany.
Stein appears to lump all Germans into the class of “butchers” against whom he claims the war was being waged. He certainly must understand, however, that many persons in Germany—children, for example—were not butchers and bore absolutely no responsibility for the actions of government officials who were. Yet these innocents, too, suffered the dire effects of, among other things, the terror bombing the U.S. and British air forces inflicted on many German cities.
To say, as Stein and many others have said, that “war is war” gets us nowhere; in a moral sense, this tautology warrants nothing. Evidently, however, many people consider all moral questions about the conduct of war to have been settled simply by their having labeled or by their having accepted someone else’s labeling of certain actions as a “war.” Having uttered this exculpatory incantation over the state’s organized violence, they believe that all transgressions associated with it are automatically absolved—as they say, “all’s fair in love and war.” It does not help matters that regimes treat some of the most egregious transgressors as heroes.
Finally, Stein’s claim that “to defend human decency, sometimes war is necessary” is, at best, paradoxical, because it says in effect that sometimes human indecency, which war itself surely exemplifies, is necessary to defend human decency. Perhaps he had in mind the backfires that fire fighters sometimes set to help them extinguish fires. This metaphor, however, seems farfetched in connection with war. It is difficult to think of anything that consists of so many different forms of indecency as war does. Not only is its essence the large-scale wreaking of death and destruction, but its side effects and its consequences in the aftermath run a wide range of evils as well. Whatever else war may be, it surely qualifies as the most indecent type of action people can take: it reduces them to the level of the most ferocious beasts and often accomplishes little more than setting the stage for the next, reactive round of savagery. In any event, considered strictly as a way of sustaining human decency, it gets a failing grade every time, because it invariably magnifies the malignity that it purports to resist.
(4) “War is horrible, but slavery is worse.” [Winston Churchill]
Maybe slavery is worse, but maybe it’s not; it depends on the conditions of the war and the conditions of the slavery. Moreover, if one seeks to justify a war on the strength of this statement, he had best be completely certain that but for war, slavery will be the outcome. In many wars, however, slavery was never a possibility, because neither side sought to enslave its enemy. Many wars have been fought for limited objectives, if only because more ambitious objectives appeared unattainable or not worth the cost. No war in U.S. history may be accurately seen as having been waged to prevent the enslavement of the American people. Some people talk that way about World War II or, if it be counted as a war, the Cold War, but such talk has no firm foundation in facts.
(5) “You may think that the Iraq war is horrible, but there may be some times when you can justify [going to war].”
Perhaps war can be justified at “some times,” but that statement itself in no way shows that the Iraq war can be justified, and it seems all too obvious that it cannot be. If it could have been justified, the government that launched it would not have had to resort to a succession of lame excuses for waging it, each such excuse being manifestly inadequate or simply false. The obvious insufficiency of any of the grounds put forward explains why so many of us have been struggling to divine exactly what did impel the Bush administration’s rush to war.
(6) “War is horrible, but sometimes we need to fight.”
Need to fight for what? The objective dictates whether war is a necessary means for its attainment. Certainly, if the objective was to preserve Americans’ freedoms and “way of life,” the U.S. government did not need to fight most of the enemies against whom it waged war historically. Remarkably, the only time the enemy actually posed such a threat, which was during the Cold War, the United States did not go to war against that enemy directly, although it did fight (unnecessarily) the enemy’s less-menacing allies, North Korea, China, and North Vietnam. In the other wars, the United States might well have remained at peace had U.S. leaders been interested in peace rather than committed to warfare.
(7) “Of course war is horrible, but it will always exist, and I’m sick of these pacifist [expletive deleted] ruining any shred of political decency that they can manage.”
Many people have observed that wars have recurred for thousands of years and therefore will probably continue to occur from time to time. The unstated insinuation seems to be that in view of war’s long-running recurrence, nothing can be done about it, so we should all grow up and admit that war is as natural, and hence as unobjectionable, as the sun’s rising in the east each morning. It’s “how the world works.”
This outlook contains at least two difficulties. First, many other conditions also have had long-running histories: for example, reliance on astrologers as experts in foretelling the future; affliction with cancers; submission to rulers who claim to dominate their subjects by virtue of divine descent or appointment; and many others. Eventually, people overcame each of these long-established conditions. Science revealed that astrology is nothing more than an elaborate body of superstition; scientists and doctors discovered how to control or cure certain forms of cancer; and citizens learned to laugh at the pretensions of rulers who claim divine descent or appointment (at least, they had learned until George W. Bush successfully revived the doctrine among the benighted rubes who form the Republican base). Because wars spring in large part from people’s stupidity, ignorance, and gullibility, it is conceivable that alleviation of these conditions might have the effect of diminishing warfare, if not of eliminating it altogether.
Second, even if nothing can be done about the periodic outbreak of war, it does not follow that we ought to shut up and accept it without complaint. No serious person expects, say, that evil can be eliminated from the human condition, yet we condemn it and struggle against its expression in human affairs. We strive to divert potential evildoers from their malevolent course of action. Scientists and doctors continue to seek cures for cancers that have afflicted humanity for millennia. Even conditions that cannot be wholly eliminated can sometimes be mitigated, but only if someone tries to mitigate them.
Finally, whatever else one might say about the pacifists, one may surely say that if everyone were a pacifist, no wars would occur. Pacifism may be criticized on various grounds, as it always has been and still is, but to say that pacifists “lack any shred of political decency” seems itself to be indecent. Remember: war is horrible, as everybody now concedes but many immediately put out of mind.
(8) “Every war is horrible, but freedom and justice cannot be allowed to be defeated by tyranny and injustice. As hideous as war is it is not as hideous as the things it can stop and prevent.”
This statement assumes that war amounts to a contest between freedom and justice on one side and tyranny and injustice on the other. One scarcely commits the dreaded sin of moral equivalence, however, by observing that few wars present such a stark contrast, in which only the children of God fight on one side and only the children of Satan fight on the other. One reason why war is so horrible is that it invariably drags into its charnel house many—again, the children are the most undeniable examples—who must be held blameless for any actions or threats that might have incited the war.
Even if we set aside such clear-cut innocents and consider only persons in the upper echelons of the conflicting sides, it is rare to find all angels on one side and all demons on the other. In World War II, for example, the Allied states were led by such angels as Winston Churchill, who relished the horrific terror bombing of German cities; Josef Stalin, one of the greatest mass murderers of all time; Franklin D. Roosevelt, of whose moral uprightness the less said the better; and Harry S Truman, who took pleasure in annihilating hundreds of thousands of defenseless Japanese noncombatants first with incendiary bombs and ultimately with nuclear weapons. Yes, the other side had Adolf Hitler, whose fiendishness I have no desire to deny, but the overall character of the leadership on both sides sufficiently attests that there was enough evil to go around. As for the ordinary soldiers, of course, everyone who knows anything about actual combat appreciates that once engaged, the men on both sides quickly become brutalized and routinely commit atrocities of every imaginable size and shape.
So, it is far from clear that war is always or even typically “not as hideous as the things it can stop and prevent.” On many occasions, refusal to resort to war, even in the face of undeniable evils, may still be the better course. When World War II ended, leaving more than 62 million dead, most of them civilians, and hundreds of millions displaced, homeless, wounded, sick, or impoverished, the survivors might well have doubted whether conditions would have been even more terrible had the war not taken place. (The dead were unavailable for comment.) To make matters worse, owing to the war, the monster Stalin had gained control of an enormous area stretching from Czechoslovakia to Korea; and soon, because of the defeat of the Japanese Empire, the monster Mao Zedong would take complete control of China and impose a murderous reign of terror on the world’s most populous country that cost the lives of perhaps another 60 million persons (as many as 77 million, according to one plausible estimate). It is difficult to believe that the situation in China would have been so awful even if the Japanese had succeeded in incorporating the Chinese into the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere.
(9) “I grant you the war is horrible, but it is a war, after all. You have to compare apples to apples, and when I do that, I see this war is going well.”
This statement about the current war in Iraq exemplifies what some call the not-as-bad-as-Hamburg-Dresden-Tokyo-Hiroshima-Nagasaki defense of brutal warfare. If we make such pinnacles of savagery our standard, then sure enough, everything else pales by comparison. But why should anyone adopt such a grotesque standard? To do so is to concede that anything less horrible than the very worst cases is “not so bad.” In truth, warfare’s effects are sufficiently hideous at every level. What the Israelis have been doing in Lebanon recently bears no comparison with the February 1945 Allied attack on Dresden, of course, but the sight of even one little Lebanese child, dead, her bloody body gruesomely mangled by an explosion, ought to be enough to give pause to any proponent of resort to war. Try putting yourself in the place of that child’s mother.
(10) “[Certain writers] all agreed that war is horrible but said the Bible gives government the authority to wage war to save innocent lives.”
Biblical scholars have been disputing what Christians may and may not do with regard to war for almost two thousand years. The dispute continues today, so the matter is certainly not resolved among devout Christians. Even if Christians may go to war to save innocent lives, however, a big question remains: is the government going to war for this purpose or for one of the countless other purposes that lead governments to make war? Saving the innocent makes an appealing excuse, but often, if not always, it is only a pretext. “Just war” writers from Augustine to Thomas Aquinas to Grotius to the latest contributors have agonized over the ready availability of such pretexts and warned against the wickedness of advancing them when the real motives are less justifiable or even plainly immoral.
For centuries, European combatants on all sides invoked God’s blessing for their wars against one another. As recently as World War II, the Germans had “Gott Mit Uns,” a declaration that adorned the belt buckles of Wehrmacht soldiers in both world wars. Strange to say, in 1917 and 1918, Christian ministers of the gospel in pulpits across the United States were assuring the congregations that their nation-state was engaged in a “war for righteousness” (the title of Richard M. Gamble’s splendid book about this repellent episode). So invoking Biblical authority really doesn’t get us very far: the enemy may be invoking the same authority.
Nowadays, of course, one side invokes the Jewish and Christian God, whereas the other calls upon the blessing of Allah. Whether this bifurcated manner of gaining divine sanction for the commission of mass murder and mayhem represents progress or not, I leave to the learned theologians.
(11) “War is horrible but thank God we have men and women who are willing and able to protect our people and our freedom.”
These men and women may be willing and able to supply such protection, but do they? Our leaders constantly proclaim that their wars are aimed at protecting us and our freedoms—“we go forward,” declares George W. Bush, “to defend freedom and all that is good and just in our world”—but one has to wonder, considering that in the entire history of warfare in the United States, each war (with the possible exception of the War for Independence) has left the general run of the American people with fewer freedoms after the war than they enjoyed before the war. Every time the rulers set out to protect the village, they decide that the best way to do so is to destroy it in the process. Call me a cynic, but I can’t help wondering whether protection of the people and their freedoms was really the state’s objective, and after forty-five years of thinking about the matter, I’ve come up with some pretty attractive alternative hypotheses. One of them, as Marine General Smedley Butler famously expressed it, is that war is a racket, but I have others, too.
(12) “War is horrible but some economic good came out of World War II. It brought the United States out of one of the greatest slumps in history, the Great Depression.”
This venerable broken-window fallacy refuses to die, no matter how many times a stake is driven through its heart. Most Americans believe it. Worse, because less excusable, nearly all historians and even a large majority of economists do so as well. I’ve been whacking this nonsense for several decades, but so far as I can tell, I’ve scarcely made a dent in it. Should anyone care to see a complete counterargument, I recommend the first five chapters of my book Depression, War, and Cold War (2006).
(13) “War is horrible, but whining about it is worse. Either put up or shut up.”
Some people always reject the denunciation of any familiar social institution or conduct unless the denouncer offers a “constructive criticism,” that is, unless he puts forward a promising plan to eliminate the evil he denounces. I admit at once that I have discovered no cure for the human tendency to resort to war when much more intelligent and humane alternatives are available. I’m trying to convince people that on nearly all occasions, they are allowing their rulers to bamboozle them and to turn them into cannon fodder for purposes that serve the rulers’ interests, not the people’s. I’m getting nowhere in this effort, but I’m going to keep trying. I’m also going to continue to denounce stupidity, ignorance, ugliness, bullying, bad breath, and rap music, even though I don’t expect to succeed in those quests, either.
(14) “Of course, war is horrible, but at present, it’s still the only guarantee to maintain peace.”
The statement as it stands is self-contradictory because it affirms that the only way to make sure that we will have peace is to go to war. Perhaps, if we are feeling generous, we may interpret the statement as the time-honored exhortation that to maintain the peace, we should prepare for war, hoping that by dissuading any aggressor from moving against us, our preparation will preserve the peace. Although this policy is not self-contradictory, it is dangerous, because the preparation we make for war may itself move us toward actually going to war. For example, preparation for war may entail increasing the number of military officers and allowing the top brass to exert greater influence in policy making. Those officers may see that without war, their careers will go nowhere, and hence they may tilt their advice to civilian authorities toward risking or actually making war, even when peace might easily be preserved. Likewise, military suppliers may use their political influence to foster international suspicions and fears that otherwise might be allayed. Wars are not good for business in general, but they are good for the munitions contractors. Certain legislators may develop an interest in militarism; perhaps it helps them to attract campaign contributions from arms contractors, veterans’ groups, and members of the national guard and military reserve organizations. Pretty soon we may find ourselves dealing, as President Dwight D. Eisenhower did, with a military-industrial-congressional complex, and we may find that it packs a great deal of political punch and acts in a way that, all things considered, diminishes the chances of keeping the country at peace.

From the foregoing commentary, a recurrent theme may be extracted: those who argue that “war is horrible, but . . .” nearly always use this rhetorical construction not to frame a genuinely serious and honest balancing of reasons for and against war, but only to acknowledge what cannot be hidden—that war is horrible—and then to pass on immediately to an affirmation that notwithstanding the horrors, whose actual forms and dimensions they neither specify nor examine in detail, a certain war ought to be fought.
The reasons given to justify its being fought, however, generally amount to claims that cannot support a strong case. Often they are not even bona fide reasons, but mere propaganda, especially when they emanate from official sources. Sometimes they rest on historical errors, such as the claim that the armed forces in past wars have somehow kept foreigners from depriving us of our liberties. Often the case for war rests on ill-founded speculation about what will happen if we do not go to war.
People need to recognize, however, that government officials and their running dogs in the media, among others, are not soothsayers. None of us knows the future, but these interested parties lack a disinterested motive for making a careful, well-informed forecast. They have, as the saying goes, an agenda of their own. “The best and the brightest” of our leaders and their kept experts generally amount to little more than what C. Wright Mills called “crackpot realists,” and on occasion, such as the present one, they don’t meet even that standard. Hence, lately, these geniuses, equipped with all that secret information they constantly emphasize their critics don’t possess, have put forward forecasts of a “cake walk” through Iraq, a “slam dunk” on finding lots of weapons of mass destruction there, and liberal-democratic dominoes falling across the Middle East—forecasts that fit more comfortably in a lunatic asylum than in a discussion among rational, well-informed people.
The government generally relies on marshalling patriotic emotion and reflexive loyalty rather than on making a sensible case for going to war. Much of the discussion that does take place is a sham, because the government officials who pretend to listen to other opinions, as U.S. leaders did most recently during 2002 and early 2003, have already decided what they are going to do, no matter what other people may say. The rulers know that once the war starts, nearly everybody will fall into line and “support the troops.”
If someone demands that the skeptic about war offer constructive criticism, here is my proposal: always insist that the burden of proof rest heavily on the warmonger. This protocol, which is now anything but standard operating procedure, is eminently judicious because, as we all recognize, war is horrible. Given its horrors, which in reality are much greater than most people appreciate, it only makes sense that those who propose to enter into those horrors make a very, very strong case for doing so. If they cannot―and I submit that they almost never can―then people will serve their interests best by declining an invitation to war. As a rule, the most rational, humane, and auspicious course of action is indeed to give peace a chance.


Robert Higgs

Robert Higgs is Senior Fellow in Political Economy at The Independent Institute and Editor of the Institute’s quarterly journal The Independent Review. He received his Ph.D. in economics from Johns Hopkins University, and he has taught at the University of Washington, Lafayette College, Seattle University, and the University of Economics, Prague. He has been a visiting scholar at Oxford University and Stanford University, and a fellow for the Hoover Institution and the National Science Foundation. He is the author of many books, including Depression, War, and Cold War. 

Full Biography and Recent Publications

     The phrase “Think Globally, Act Locally” needs constant examination.   We cannot respond to all global problems (or local for that matter), but we can think clearly about what matters most.   Let us ask: What is most urgent?   Until recently, perhaps most people in the world would reply: nuclear weapons.  Since 1945 humans have possessed the power to destroy itself (and other species).    That was the deepest fear underlying the Soviet Union/United States (US/SU) conflict.   Now the scientific consensus and a growing public awareness add global warming.   Already many people perceive warming as the greater of the two threats.   Climate change and the proliferation of ever more deadly weapons now threaten human survival.   We can say that as we begin the 21st century humans must learn to cope effectively with these two global threats, or expect the earth’s population to be reduced from 9 billion to one.       
      We are making progress.   Realizing what we are up against is a major achievement.   Not averting our eyes from nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons and from rising seas and weather extremes is the foundation for coping.   Believing in our ability to cope is equally important and equally credible.   No leap of faith is required.  We now know, for example, that war is not immutably fixed in “human nature.”   Numerous anthropological studies have provided this additional foundation for hope.  Douglas Fry’s The Human Potential for Peace offers one survey and summation.  War is a changing, changeable social institution, which has been created by humans and can be prevented by them, as history shows in hundreds of cases.   Humans have shown themselves to be flexible, resilient, and imaginative enough to make the transition from war and the adaptation to warming conceivable.
      And now do we possess the necessary basic knowledge, we are already asking the question:  How might we prepare?    And we are already significantly at work around the world.   People understand that we must mobilize on two familiar fronts—locally and globally--, both necessary to facing the reality essential to effectiveness.   If we work only locally without thorough knowledge of global contexts, we will be undermined by our own ignorance and naivete regarding the need of individuals to push their governments; if we work only globally we will be undermined by our ignorance of how the problems affect real persons and how individuals’ ingenuity is already solving problems, and by the absence of the invigoration of people cooperating to end wars and adapt to warming.  
      We must foster goodwill in every way we can, and the grassroots human achievement in creating caring societies is so immense as to be justifiably described as evolutionary.   But our local work is not enough.  We must also create structures and institutions of effective global governance if we are to change wars and warming into behaviors that will sustain us.   Cities, states, regions, nations have created conflict resolution customs and legal systems to prevent violence to humans and to the land.  Self-regarding behavior--self-redress in conflicts and self-destruction of air, land, and water—is constrained by other-regarding laws and customs.   Because we have in the past, we know we can meet the challenge of the future by bringing the sheriff and the judge to the warriors and polluters.

Contents of #1 Feb. I, 2011
Old Men in Power
  General Smedley Butler
   Merchants of Death
Climate Change: Refugees
   Empathy, Forgiveness
   Refuting Lies, Myths, Illusions
   Graphic Truth of Combat

Contents of #2  March 26, 2011
Preventing Wars:
Kucinich: Opposition to Another US War
Libya and US: Stop the Bombing
Libya Petition
Libya: Code Pink
Causes and Prevention of Wars
Books:  Corporate-Pentagon-Congressional-White House-Corp. Media Complex: 
      Lockheed Martin by Bill Hartung and Eisenhower by James Ledbetter
      Climate Change:   Global Warring By Cleo Paskal,
William Blum, Anti-Empire Report, Deception by Leaders
Lessons Learned from War by a Japanese


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Dick's Wars and Warming KPSQ Radio Editorials (#1-48)

Dick's Wars and Warming KPSQ Radio Editorials (#1-48)