Friday, June 01, 2007

The coming Iran war--- or perhaps they are not morons, after all

Are we headed toward war?

Russ Daggatt has been reminding us that the next twenty months are fraught with dangers, even as the Administration of George W. Bush settles into a tailspin of lame duck political irrelevance. It is vital to remember that, although despised by 3/4 of the electorate, the President retains several great powers.

For example the authority to grant pardons, which I discuss elsewhere - keeping his henchmen in line with the allure of get-out-of-jail-free cards. That is, unless the democrats decide to get really clever.

Of course, the great presidential power that Bush will find irresistible, as his days wane, is the one that he has used recklessly to make the mess we are in. That of ‘Commander in Chief.’ Daggatt worries, rightfully, that Bush will almost certainly use that power yet again, before leaving office. If for no other reason than it is there.

From all the signs -- some of them blatant -- the swan-song “decider” spasm will manifest in a fierce and sudden military attack upon Iran.

The waters are being tested and prepared. Take the recent piece in OpinionJournal, the online presence of the Wall Street Journal editorial page. It is by long-time editor of Commentary, Norman Podhoretz, generally considered the godfather of today's neoconservative movement. The Case for Bombing Iran I hope and pray that President Bush will do it. “

Comments Daggatt: I'm not making this stuff up -- these are the guys Bush listens to. And it's not like they are keeping this secret. This is the WALL STREET JOURNAL.

Almost every paragraph has a factual error or some bizarre assertion -- I'm not even going to begin to try to refute them all.

(E.g., It is not true that "schools in England are dropping the Holocaust from history lessons to avoid offending Muslim pupils." It is still law in England that the Holocaust must be taught in English schools. This has become a very popular right-wing myth in this country. One unnamed teacher in one unnamed school in Northern England dropped it from one course -- but it was taught in other courses.)

Podhoretz seems to think that Iranians would respond to an attack by the US by overthrowing their own government ("But a bombing campaign would without question set back its nuclear program for years to come, and might even lead to the overthrow of the mullahs ").

Makes perfect sense. The US overthrew a democratically-elected Iranian government in the '50's (Iranians have a long memory about this kind of thing), shot down a Iranian civilian airliner in 1988 killing all 290 aboard, supported Saddam Hussein's war against them, has a couple of hundred thousand troops occupying countries on both sides of them, has it as official policy to overthrow the Iranian government, and is currently holding five Iranian consular officers hostage. But if the US engages in an unprovoked attacked on them, they would respond by overthrowing their own government.

That's what WE would do if attacked, obviously. And, after all, the neocons have pretty much a perfect track record forecasting outcomes of US military adventures in the Middle East. And there is a certain logic to their arguments -- the more we follow their advise, the more dangerous the world becomes, which forms a compelling paranoid case for following more of their advise. (It's like Republican ideology generally -- the more they screw up their management of our government, the more it supports their case that government is a total failure.)

Like other neocons urging an attack on Iran, Podhoretz expresses confidence that Bush will do so ("Accordingly, my guess is that [Bush] intends, within the next 21 months, to order air strikes against the Iranian nuclear facilities from the three U.S. aircraft carriers already sitting nearby. " Our only hope is that the neocons are as WRONG about this as they are about everything else they predict.). Seymour Hersh has been writing in The New Yorker about plans for such an attack for months. He anticipates a large number of military resignations if such an attack is actually ordered (the uniformed military may be our last, best hope for averting this disaster -- and we may never even know it, at least at the time).


---
Allow me to comment and offer my own perspectives on this frightening scenario.

First, and yet again, please find for me one commentator who has been saying, longer than I have, that our chief hope must rest upon the skill and loyalty and patriotism and basic sense of the men and women of the US Officer Corps. They are the top victims of this gang. The ones most relentlessly oppressed and harassed and intimidated by a clade of genuine monsters.

As for the rabid neocons. Yes, Podhoretz & co are absolutely loony. When it comes to predicting Iranian actions, they are recapitulating one of the worst mistakes that bad leaders have relentlessly repeated, 4,000 years of statecraft -- assuming smugly that the enemy will react in a way that is DIAMETRICALLY OPPOSITE to the way that you and I or any normal person would react.

Why do leaders and others do this? If we were attacked by an outside foe, we would rally together courageously, bury our differences and meet the challenge, even if we despise our leaders. It is what human beings nearly always do! Moreover, it is what Iranians have done -- on a lower lever, political scale -- ever since Condi Rice began her loco and insipid "Axis of Evil" campaign of saber-rattling. With the sole palpable effect of driving the moderate Iranian majority into the mullahs' arms.


IS THERE ANY CAUSE FOR HOPE?

All right, Daggatt and I are in agreement about Podhoretz. And we concur that a drumbeat is rising, propelling the fringe 20% of diehard neocons in this country toward declaring war on Iran, on behalf of the other 80% of us. Because - putting it simply - they have a president and we do not.

At risk of belaboring a point that merits endless repeating... to me, the issue is plain. Will the professionals of the intelligence community, the civil service, the foreign service and the United States Officer Corps find a way to do their jobs, at last? Will they, during the next 20 months of danger, protect us from this pack of outrageous lunatics who have hijacked the top three or four tiers of every Executive department of this great nation, filling those layers with graduates of BobJones University and Messiah College? With maniacal third raters who devoutly believe they are doing God's work by pushing us toward Armageddon?

I have ranted endlessly that "this is all about the professionals." Only they can penetrate the cabals, find out the truth, counter-suborn henchmen, and whistle-blow in ways that take away their power to destroy America. Only they can put in place procedures that would SLOW DOWN an attack on Iran, until sane and adult political processes can step in to shelter brave officers who just-say-no.


WHY THE RUSH TO YET ANOTHER WAR?

All right, that's the top agenda and I think we're in basic agreement so far. But...

...but where Russ and I differ is over WHY this is happening. Why the rush toward an attack upon Iran? With nearly all of our land forces already committed to a land war of attrition in Asia, why should we press the accelerator and take on another nation, several times the size of Iraq?

It seems that a great many sincere people are subscribing to a weird notion that Israel is the prime driver. That the Jewish state is fervently chomping on the bit to blow up every nuclear facility between the Jordan and the Indus. Some of our dear friends on the left point to the goggle-eyed, pro-Israel statements made by those on the neocons’ “Book of Revelations wing.” Fanatics who see Israel-centered wars leading to the Big One on the Plains of Meggido - yum..

It's all very elegant and satisfying. And indeed, the most rabid of the fundamentalist Israel supporters do seem to fit this image.

But do the Israelis themselves? Not according to my contacts over there, who universally tell me that there is deep worry about being pushed into war with Iran by an over-eager US administration. (They are also very, very wary of their “dear friends” on the fundamentalist movement, who ALSO yearn for blood to gush from the eyes of every Jew who refuses to convert, when the Battle of Armageddon comes around. DOUBLE yum!)

Look, the Israelis do not have time for delusional games. These people are grownups who have their kids lives on the line. They know that A few bombed reactors will swiftly be replaced by others, financed by the Saudis. Pakistan already has nukes and these may swiftly be put at the disposal of a pan-Islamic Uma, if that widely sought dream ever comes about. (OUR fundies are not the only ones dreaming about a showdown in Megiddo!)

Despite short term hopes of hampering Iranian bomb production, in the intermediate term, Israel is going to have to rely upon deterrence, the same way the US did, threatening enemies with MAD.

In the long term, only peace will save the region from some horrible day. And the Bushites have done nothing to propel that. Zero engagement. Not a finger lifted. Because the their best friends in the region do not want it.

The Israelis know this. And except for their own fringe, nobody on Earth will be more glad to see a new US Administration. One that is run by adults.


THEN WHAT’S THE UNDERLYING REASON?

So, if it ain't Israel, WHY is the Bush Cabal violating every principle of leadership, government, or common sense and preparing to launch yet another war, when our reserves are already committed, our alliances are already in tatters, our social cohesion already ruined, our finances beggared and our nerves already frayed?

We keep on trying to explain Bushite behavior by adding epicycles of stupidity, graft, dogmatism and insanity. These Ptolemaic edifices often collapse -- (for example, if we went to Iraq for oil... where's the damned oil?) -- but always excuses are made and new epicycles inserted so that the gears keep turning to the satisfaction of those who hate these guys.

I do, too!

But maybe it's my union card as an astronomer... and a guy who helped to plan space missions ... that makes me grow weary of constantly filing and shaping and refitting gears in order to maintain a theory that simply does not work anymore!

Because, even though I believe that the Cheneykleps ARE stupid, venial, fanatical and insane, I also know that such people would have, by now, at least by sheer accident, have done ONE thing right! Complete morons would have stumbled into one successful policy, simply by random chance.

Instead, in managing the government of both America and Pax Americana, they have demolished nearly all of our strengths and made the whole world discontented with what had been a complacently-accepted unipolar world..

Their perfect record of mismanagement and destruction of US influence, popularity, power, wealth, cohesion, strength and so on ought to be suspicious! There comes a point when a mature, scientifically-minded person must consider other possibilities. At least for the sake of open-minded exercise.

OF COURSE, I COULD JUST BE MESSING WITH YOU.

I am paid to be interesting, not to be right. Yes, I have a top scoring record for successful predictions. But even more prevalent is a propensity for contrarian “poking.” At whatever notion seems prevalent or too-readily accepted as common “wisdom.”

Perhpas. Perhaps that is what’s going on here, right now, before your eyes.

Perhaps.


THEN AGAIN... PERHAPS THEY ARE NOT MORONS, AFTER ALL

Will anyone, anyone at all, be willing to ponder the simple, "Copernican" alternative explanation for all of this?

If the effect has been to ruin Pax Americana in twenty different ways... will NO ONE even posit the remote possibility that perhaps the universally consistent outcome of all administration practices might have been deliberate, after all?

Does it really take a fiction writer to ponder this “manchurian” thriller-plot, even as a remote possibility?

Try the idea on for size -- even if (like me!) you cannot bring yourself to believe it "officially." Because it certainly does fit the run up to a spasm-war against Iran, perfectly. Because such a spasm attack would:

* instantly unite all Iranians behind their mullahs for a decade.

* end the Sunni-Shia rift, uniting Hezbollah and Hamas and Al Quaeda, joining in common cause against the "crusaders."

* finish off our last shreds of popularity in Europe and anchor rising Russian influence in the Middle East.

* bring to the US Air Force and the US Navy all the joys that have been experienced, in recent years, by the Army and Marines. (While putting THREE CARRIER GROUPS into unnecessary jeopardy in the narrow waters of the Persian Gulf...


Oh, I could go on, but here's the chief point. Stupidity, venality, dogmatism and insanity are insufficient to explain why a leadership clade would deliberately destroy the nation and system they are sworn to defend... and where they keep their money.

If you have a better explanation for the perfection of their record, and for the perfect way that certain groups have always benefited from apparently "stupid" decisions, then come on, out with it! But stop with the boring attempt to explain away such consistency as the product of epicycles of stupidity and coincidence.

The coming Iran War is much more than it seems.

It is proof that we need to finally slice through the epicycles and contemplate a simple, heliocentric explanation for the last six years.

(See also: Stop the IRAN War now…)

96 comments:

Brendan Podger said...

The question isn't "Where is the oil?", it is "Where is the oil supposed to be?"

Given that if you can believe the policy makers behind the war(and yes I know this is a stretch), the war was supposed to be both quick and inexpensive. The US would be met with open arms by the Iraqi people and greeted as liberators. This would result in a pro US government being put in place that would be happy to give US oil companies access to the fields that they had been completely shut out from.

If the above had in any way come about it could be argued the US would have benefited and its oil interests benefiting the most.

Now I believe this as about as much as I believe that the war was started because Sadam "tried to kill my daddy" to quote your glorious leader.

Another question that springs to mind of the same type is: "Where is the wheat?"

Since the new Iraqi Gov discovered the Australian contract corruption, their contract has been canceled and the US now is the largest seller of wheat to Iraq, a market that as with oil they were completely locked out.

Now I no more believe the US went to war for wheat than I do for oil, but the (heavily subsidised)US wheat market were one of the first groups knocking on doors in Washington demanding their piece of the pie once the invasion was complete and demanding inquires into the pre-war contracts.

I may be wrong, but if the figures are examined, I would bet that the amount of subsidy paid for all the wheat shipped to Iraq would by far exceed the amount offered by the AUB to get the contract. It offers an interesting philosophical question really. Who is acting more ethically, the briber or the subsidiser?

Zechariah said...

It is good to posit every possible scenario, even the Manchurian Candidate kinds. Heck, I know people who still think Clinton was involved with leaking military technology to China, especially considering the shady campaign contribution. When the lack of any proof is brought up, even after years of Republican control, they just say "that's how well he covered it up".

The only question is, how well did Bush cover things up? I for one don't think he'll do that many pardons. He hasn't done that many so far. Far fewer than Clinton in fact (though Clintons don't appear to have anything to do with China)

Anonymous said...

With regard to 'where is the oil?' - This is the wrong question. Why bother extracting oil from Iraq when the last few years of fun and games have pushed the global price up so dramatically
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Oil_Prices_Medium_Term.png
.. and petrochem companies can actually make more money by doing less. Sounds like a win to me ....

Shep

Don Quijote said...

that our chief hope must rest upon the skill and loyalty and patriotism and basic sense of the men and women of the US Officer Corps.

I wouldn't hold my breath...

Impeach Bush & Cheney. It's the only sane thing left to do.

Doug S. said...

Basically, the dilemma we have regarding Iran comes down to this:

1) Use whatever force is required to end Iran's nuclear program.

2) Allow Iran to have stockpiles of nuclear materials that can be easily used to build weapons (or a stockpile of actual weapons).

Trying to accomplish option 1 through pinpoint bombing probably won't work. Basically, we'd either have to conquer Iran and then rule it, or just blow up the whole country with nuclear weapons ourselves. Conquering Iran would be easy, but ruling it will be about as difficult as winning World War II; we'd have to have the kind of absolutely massive public support that might only come from a Pearl Harbor type of incident.

Iran's current president is scary, but he's not very popular and he might disappear in the next election. (I don't know if their Supreme Leader is scary or not.) I think the United States can live with a nuclear Iran, much as we lived with the Soviet Union and China (and are currently living with North Korea). I'm not so sure that Israel can live with a nuclear Iran, though. A nuclear exchange between Iran and Israel seems more likely than a nuclear exchange between the US and the Soviet Union, if only because Communism isn't an ideology of martyrdom.

Anyway, the best analysis of the situation I've read is here:

http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1159193330631&pagename=JPost/JPArticle/Printer

I do believe that the Western world is currently fighting World War 4 against an ideology as pernicious as Soviet Communism or Hitlerism. However, I don't think that bombing Iran will get us one step closer to winning the struggle against religious extremism; we just have to use the old Cold War strategies of containment and hope that they work.

tacitus2 said...

David
As always, you are entitled to your Manchurian opinion. Even if few agree with you it is thought provoking.
Here's a note of optimism. The classic stupid error made by people who should not be put in charge of armies is to fight the LAST war. Hence the assumptions that Iraq would cave quickly, and that the people would rise up in joy. (with lives on the line batting .500 is not sufficient).
If there is a next war, regrettably likely given human nature, it will be with the lessons of Operation Iraqi Freedom fresh and raw.
Look, Iran is a much bigger, much more populous, probably more nationalistic place that Iraq. Bombing from afar would not work at all. Occupying a region larger and more IED infested than multiple Iraqs would not be possible.
So, no, you will not see Operation Iranian Freedom in the dying days of the Bush admin.
I take hope from the fact that Iran and US are more or less dealing with each other in the conventional fashion. We pick up five of their citizens (agents?), they scoop up some Iranian/Americans and accuse them of spying. Soon enough a cold war style exchange will be arranged. Even the naval jostling in the Persian gulf, although not without risk, is business as usual. I imagine that the respective forces keep each other updated to avoid foolish clashes.
Now, if Iran both tests and nuke and has the means to launch it at Isreal there could be neutrons flying. I think one of the quietly wise things being done is to deploy a limited anti missle system in eastern europe. But in the long run we have to get used to states with clinical signs of early rabies getting their hands on this sort of hellish stuff. In the next administration.
Let's ask all the aspirants to the job what they think on this question!
Tacitus2

Pat Mathews said...

Dana Blankenhorn suggests that Bush is neither stupid nor evil, but rather, totally blinded by his Nixon-Era ideology.

Ed said...

I still think these jackoffs believed everything they said about how easy the war would be. Everything else they said was bogus but I think they figured once the public saw our mighty victory then their lies about going to war would wash away in our euphoria. There'd be a bunch of money made by the arms companies, our oil companies would have a access to huge oil fields and Bush would be a conquering war president that could walk into a second term.

Perhaps a quick spanking of Iran will help the Shrub with his legacy. One more shot at a victory...

President Ahmedinajad said...

READ THE FOLLOWING PASSAGES FROM THE BIBLE AS IT HAS IMPLICATIONS ON THE WAR AGAINST TERROR/ISLAM and the claim of Israel that god gave them the land. If the child is an infant than the Judeo-Christian version becomes null and void and we are wasting our time and resources i.e. we could save trillions of dollars and create a more peaceful world rather than fighting against Islam the religion of Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad (peace be upon them all).

The COVENANT with Abraham and his DESCENDANTS is central to JUDAISM/CHRISTIANITY/ISLAM.

Please note this is not a competition between faiths but an attempt to decipher fact from fiction.

Genesis 21:14 Contemporary English version se below link


http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=GENESIS%2021;&version=46;

Early the next morning Abraham gave Hagar an animal skin full of water and some bread. Then he put the boy on her shoulder and sent them away.

GENESIS 16:16
And Hagar bore Abram a son; and Abram called the name of his son, whom Hagar bore, Ish’mael. Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore Ish’mael to Abram.

GENESIS 21:5
Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him.

At Genesis 22 Abraham had only 2 sons others came later. The Quran mentions that it was Ishmael that was sacrificed hence the reference in genesis 22:2 your only son can only mean someone has substituted Ishmael names for Isaac!!

BY DOING SOME KINDERGARTEN ARITHMATIC USING ARABIC NUMBERS (1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10)
NOT ROMAN NUMERALS (I, II, III,IV,V,VI,VII,VIII,IX,X) NB no concept of zero in roman numerals.

100 years old – 86 years old = 14 ADD 3 YEARS FOR ISSAC’S WEANING

THAT WOULD MAKE ISHMAEL 17 YEARS OLD IN GENESIS 21:14-21
BUT IT IS A DESCRIPTION OF AN INFANT.

Carefully read several times the above passage and then tell me the mental picture you get between the mother child interactions what is the age of the child. If the mental picture is that of a 17 year old child being carried on the shoulder of his mother, being physically placed in the bush, crying like a baby, mother having to give him water to drink, than the Islamic viewpoint is null and void. Why is there no verbal communications between mother and (17 YEAR OLD) child?

GENESIS: 21:14 - 21
So Abraham rose early in the morning, and took bread and a skin of water, and gave it to Hagar, putting it on her shoulder, along with the (17 YEAR OLD) child, and sent her away. And she departed, and wandered in the wilderness of Beer-Sheba. When the water in the skin was gone, she cast the (17 YEAR OLD) child under one of the bushes. Then she went, and sat down over against him a good way off, about the distance of a bowshot; for she said, “Let me not look upon the death of the (17 YEAR OLD) child.” And as she sat over against him, the (17 YEAR OLD) child lifted up his voice and wept. And God heard the voice of the (17 YEAR OLD) lad; and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven, and said to her, “What troubles you, Hagar? Fear not; for God has heard the voice of the (17 YEAR OLD) lad where he is. Arise, lift up the (17 YEAR OLD) lad, and hold him fast with your hand; for I will make him a great nation.” Then God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water; and she went, and filled the skin with water, and gave the (17 YEAR OLD) lad a drink. And God was with the (17 YEAR OLD) lad, and he grew up; he lived in the wilderness, and became an expert with the bow. He lived in the wilderness of Paran; and his mother took a wife for him from the land of Egypt.


The age of Ishmael at this stage is crucial to the Abrahamic faiths. If he is 17 than the JUDEO/CHRISTIAN point of view about the Abrahamic covenant is correct. This has devastating theological consequences of unimaginable proportions.

This makes the conflict between Ishmael and Isaac and there descendants a work of fiction. I would strongly suggest it is clear cut case of racial discrimination and nothing to do with god almighty. The scribes have deliberately tried to make Isaac the only son and legitimate heir to the throne of Abraham??

Please can you rationally explain this anomaly?

I have asked many persons including my nephews and nieces - unbiased minds with no religious backgrounds but with reasonable command of the English language about this passage and they all agree that the child in the passage is an infant.
AS THE DESCRIPTION OF ISHMAEL IN GENESIS 21:14-21 IS THAT OF AN INFANT IT CAN BE ASSUMED SOMEONE HAS MOVED THIS PASSAGE FROM AN EARLIER PART OF SCRIPTURE!!! AND HAVE GOT THERE KNICKERS IN A TWIST.

For background info on the future religion of mankind see the following websites:

http://www.islamicity.com/Mosque/Muhammad_Bible.HTM

(MUHAMMAD IN THE BIBLE)

http://bible.islamicweb.com/

http://www.islamicity.com/

http://www.islamonline.net/english/index.shtml

http://www.islamalways.com/

http://ifamericansknew.com/

http://www.witness-pioneer.org/vil/Books/MB_BQS/default.htm

(BIBLE, QURAN and SCIENCE)

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/

ANTI-WAR

http://www.harunyahya.com/
(EVOLUTION DECEIPT)

http://www.barnabas.net/

http:/www.answering-christianity.com/ac.htm



HOLY QURAN CHAPTER 37 verses 101 - 122


101. So We gave him the good news of a boy ready to suffer and forbear.


102. Then, when (the son) reached (the age of) (serious) work with him, he said: "O my son! I see in vision that I offer thee in sacrifice: Now see what is thy view!" (The son) said: "O my father! Do as thou art commanded: thou will find me, if Allah so wills one practising Patience and Constancy!"

103. So when they had both submitted their wills (to Allah., and he had laid him prostrate on his forehead (for sacrifice),

104. We called out to him "O Abraham!

105. "Thou hast already fulfilled the vision!" - thus indeed do We reward those who do right.

106. For this was obviously a trial-

107. And We ransomed him with a momentous sacrifice:

108. And We left (this blessing) for him among generations (to come) in later times:

109. "Peace and salutation to Abraham!"

110. Thus indeed do We reward those who do right.

111. For he was one of our believing Servants.

112. And We gave him the good news of Isaac - a prophet,- one of the Righteous.

113. We blessed him and Isaac: but of their progeny are (some) that do right, and (some) that obviously do wrong, to their own souls.

114. Again (of old) We bestowed Our favour on Moses and Aaron,

115. And We delivered them and their people from (their) Great Calamity;

116. And We helped them, so they overcame (their troubles);

117. And We gave them the Book which helps to make things clear;

118. And We guided them to the Straight Way.

119. And We left (this blessing) for them among generations (to come) in later times:

120. "Peace and salutation to Moses and Aaron!"

121. Thus indeed do We reward those who do right.

122. For they were two of our believing Servants.



ISHMAEL IS THE FIRST BORN AND GOOD NEWS OF ISSAC DOES NOT APPEAR UNTIL AFTER THE SACRIFICE?????
Therefore the claim that god gave the land to Israel is destroyed without the need of any WMD’s.
HADITH

Volume 4, Book 55, Number 583:

Narrated Ibn Abbas:

The first lady to use a girdle was the mother of Ishmael. She used a girdle so that she might hide her tracks from Sarah. Abraham brought her and her son Ishmael while she was suckling him, to a place near the Ka'ba under a tree on the spot of Zam-zam, at the highest place in the mosque. During those days there was nobody in Mecca, nor was there any water So he made them sit over there and placed near them a leather bag containing some dates, and a small water-skin containing some water, and set out homeward. Ishmael's mother followed him saying, "O Abraham! Where are you going, leaving us in this valley where there is no person whose company we may enjoy, nor is there anything (to enjoy)?" She repeated that to him many times, but he did not look back at her Then she asked him, "Has Allah ordered you to do so?" He said, "Yes." She said, "Then He will not neglect us," and returned while Abraham proceeded onwards, and on reaching the Thaniya where they could not see him, he faced the Ka'ba, and raising both hands, invoked Allah saying the following prayers:
'O our Lord! I have made some of my offspring dwell in a valley without cultivation, by Your Sacred House (Kaba at Mecca) in order, O our Lord, that they may offer prayer perfectly. So fill some hearts among men with love towards them, and (O Allah) provide them with fruits, so that they may give thanks.' (14.37) Ishmael's mother went on suckling Ishmael and drinking from the water (she had).
When the water in the water-skin had all been used up, she became thirsty and her child also became thirsty. She started looking at him (i.e. Ishmael) tossing in agony; She left him, for she could not endure looking at him, and found that the mountain of Safa was the nearest mountain to her on that land. She stood on it and started looking at the valley keenly so that she might see somebody, but she could not see anybody. Then she descended from Safa and when she reached the valley, she tucked up her robe and ran in the valley like a person in distress and trouble, till she crossed the valley and reached the Marwa mountain where she stood and started looking, expecting to see somebody, but she could not see anybody. She repeated that (running between Safa and Marwa) seven times."
The Prophet said, "This is the source of the tradition of the walking of people between them (i.e. Safa and Marwa). When she reached the Marwa (for the last time) she heard a voice and she asked herself to be quiet and listened attentively. She heard the voice again and said, 'O, (whoever you may be)! You have made me hear your voice; have you got something to help me?" And behold! She saw an angel at the place of Zam-zam, digging the earth with his heel (or his wing), till water flowed from that place. She started to make something like a basin around it, using her hand in this way, and started filling her water-skin with water with her hands, and the water was flowing out after she had scooped some of it."
The Prophet added, "May Allah bestow Mercy on Ishmael's mother! Had she let the Zam-zam (flow without trying to control it) (or had she not scooped from that water) (to fill her water-skin), Zam-zam would have been a stream flowing on the surface of the earth." The Prophet further added, "Then she drank (water) and suckled her child. The angel said to her, 'Don't be afraid of being neglected, for this is the House of Allah which will be built by this boy and his father, and Allah never neglects His people.' The House (i.e. Kaba) at that time was on a high place resembling a hillock, and when torrents came, they flowed to its right and left. She lived in that way till some people from the tribe of Jurhum or a family from Jurhum passed by her and her child, as they (i.e. the Jurhum people) were coming through the way of Kada'. They landed in the lower part of Mecca where they saw a bird that had the habit of flying around water and not leaving it. They said, 'This bird must be flying around water, though we know that there is no water in this valley.' They sent one or two messengers who discovered the source of water, and returned to inform them of the water. So, they all came (towards the water)." The Prophet added, "Ishmael's mother was sitting near the water. They asked her, 'Do you allow us to stay with you?" She replied, 'Yes, but you will have no right to possess the water.' They agreed to that." The Prophet further said, "Ishmael's mother was pleased with the whole situation as she used to love to enjoy the company of the people. So, they settled there, and later on they sent for their families who came and settled with them so that some families became permanent residents there. The child (i.e. Ishmael) grew up and learnt Arabic from them and (his virtues) caused them to love and admire him as he grew up, and when he reached the age of puberty they made him marry a woman from amongst them.

Brother Doug said...

Interesting Brin: obviously the Backwater mercenaries want to destroy the officer class. And I found a interesting quote from Thatcher in the quaker economist.

tqe.quaker.org



"In Margaret
Thatcher's memorable words, "There are still people in
my party who
believe in consensus politics. I regard them as
Quislings, as
traitors... I mean it!"

In the years since Reagan and Thatcher, the breakdown
of political
civility and conflict resolution seems to have
progressed much
further in the USA than in Britain. Along with this
has come a
concentrated effort to increase the numbers of
political appointees
in government, so as to strengthen the hand of the
president in
imposing his will on the civil service. Thousands of
governmental
positions that were once protected from political
influence are now
appointed at the pleasure of the president, based
primarily on party
loyalty."


It makes you wonder if this whole war was an exercise in destroying consensus politics?

Cat Vincent said...

David,

Long time reader (of your fiction), first time poster...

One query about this fascinating piece:
"Stupidity, venality, dogmatism and insanity are insufficient to explain why a leadership clade would deliberately destroy the nation and system they are sworn to defend... and where they keep their money."

Who says their money is in the US?

Lots of offshoring, friendly countries with loose banking regulations, multinational corporate entities with Panamanian homes... add the likely Wall Street speculation that would be going on and a war with Iran could net billions for the well-placed neocon.

Plus I really think they believe they *can* take it with the.

Anonymous said...

We took Iraq down in three weeks.

Our special forces will take Iran out in three days.

It will NOT be done by bombing from on high.

It will be done up close and personal. Think Special Forces.

Bush knows exactly what he's doing.

Death to the Islamofascists!

David Brin said...

Boy there's been some interesting quasi spam that I was tempted to delete... but WTF? I mean, I actually quite enjoyed the Ishmael/Isaac rant and learned a lot, even if the point is loony.

As for "special forces will take down Iran in 3 days." Ah...

spoken by one who hasn't a clue what special forces are.

They are the intellectuals of the active/fighting Army. Every SF sergeant speaks several languages, knows a dozen technologies, has lived with villagers all over the world, can cook innumerable cuisines, negotiate a treaty, deliver a baby, organize a revolution.

These are the guys who were entrusted with Clinton's war plan in Afghanistan, to which Bush Jr had only time to say "go!" A war plan that made use of already existing contacts, arrangements, timetables, and worked better than anyone could have imagined.

So yes, competent professional plans enacted by skilled pros can accomplish a lot... when accompanied by skilled diplomacy by professional diplomats and good intelligence from skilled professional spooks, and so on.

NONE of which is in the offing when we attack Iran. Because the Bushites have waged relentless war against every skilled governmental profession, including the US officer corps.

What we do have - still relatively intact - God bless em - is the US Navy. Why do you think 3 carrier battle groups were sent into the narrow waters of the Persian Gulf?

Dig it, the so-called haters of "islamofascism" are in fact the biggest allies of islamofascism. Because nothing on this planet will unite Shia and Sunni more quickly than the proposed attack upon Iran.

When, oh when, will anybody consider that these moronic moves - ALWAYS harmful to American influence in the world - are being instigated WITH THAT PRECISE OBJECTIVE in mind?

The tragic thing is that - perhaps - the only thing keeping me alive right now is the laughable way that I am getting zero traction with any of this! If I am right, then they don't want to draw attention toward my Cassandra rants.

Ah, but then, could I be wrong and abso-freaking-lutely everybody else be right?

Heh... well... officially, I concede the remote possibility. hrm.... ;-)

Woozle said...

My own ongoing theory, as tweaked from skimming the above (no time for more detailed reading, and my apologies if I'm rehashing):

Would it be a claim of "incompetence" to say that Bush's short-term strategy is his own, but his long-term strategy has been handled from afar? Not by direct orders, but (taking the theory to its obvious conclusion but not necessarily the only valid one) by paternal-style advice from certain close Bush family friends in the Middle East?

I'm thinking Londo Mollari and Mr. Morden, here. It starts with a semi-disgraced scion who is (along with other major players on the political stage) cleverly manipulated into an alliance with a hidden power whose main interest is de-stablization.

What's going on here is a war of ideology. On the one side, progress and civilization and inquisitiveness and everything that empowers the human spirit and makes life worthwhile. On the other side, neo-feudalism and anti-science and fundamentalist dogmatism and kleptocracy. (If anyone thinks that's too black-and-white, show me the evidence.)

As has been observed by the far right, Christian fundamentalists and hardline Muslims have more in common with each other than they have in common with their own countrymen -- and they've finally figured this out and have started working together, each for their own reasons.

This isn't to say that they're all intellectually on the same par; Bush may be making what seem like good moves to him and yet still not see the longer-term implications of those moves -- which may, for example, have been suggested to him in the best family-friend, helpful-paternalistic style by, say, those previously-mentioned Bush family friends. Mister Morden rides again.

So... maybe Bush thinks he's "enabling a strong presidency" (for example), which seems to be a really good idea to him -- even though it was possibly suggested by some folks who knew (by their much more thorough study and understanding of history) the effect that it (plus maybe a few other helpful suggestions along the way -- "Don't let them question you, George! Show them who is boss!") would have on America.

(Sorry if this post is a little chaotic; had to finish up sooner than planned.)

Markbnj said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Markbnj said...

Dr Brin said (not sarcastically at all):

If the effect has been to ruin Pax Americana in twenty different ways... will NO ONE even posit the remote possibility that perhaps the universally consistent outcome of all administration practices might have been deliberate, after all?

Markb says:

Think of it this way. on May 9th the answer to your question was issued by the White House.
here is the ORIGINAL white house press release:
White house original press release


Now: part one:
the "conspiracy theorists" (I am NOT usually one of them)
found this on MAY 23rd, and publicized this on their show "coast to coast".
If you follow the logic, it seems to point to getting ready for a "TAKEOVER" of this country
a la right wing conspiracy (See also Orson Scott Card's Newest book "Empire" Here:
OSC's EMPIRE


Question 1:
Why has not ONE mainstream news agency, radio station, newspaper, or TV station not caught this?
Is the MEDIA in on this?

Question 2:
Can you really say we do NOT NEED to IMMEDIATELY start to IMPEACH the VP, Attorney General, and President
IN THAT ORDER!!!!

(see my "poem of the day" project HERE: for a impeachment related poem:
impeachment poem 1
or try this: impeachment query one
or just go to my main blog HERE:
impeach query two (main blog)

(and to think I fully agree (for a change) with Don Quijote that they (AND alberto) need to be impeached
Alberto impeachment poem/limerick HERE:
alberto Limerick

Question 3:
Can you,Dr. Brin,elp to get some press coverage on this change in the "continuity of Goverment" policy?

Question 4:
Have I gone and become one of 'dem "loonies" too?
Area 51, here I come???

Question 5:
Have YOU written to your congressman/senator, asking for them to start IMMEDIATE impeachment hearings?

Question 6: If you have a (R) in your state/district, have you told them that support of impeachment will be the only way you vote for them in 2008?


mark b...

PS: if you go HERE: 04 Ohio Elections

You'll find another intersting article I caught on slashdot.

Interesting. Apparently it appears that the Republician "tactics team" re-engineered the internet in ohio on election night in 2004. And the domain for Ohio's Secretary of State website, which handles election reporting, was RE-directed On Nov. 3 2004. Netcraft shows the website pointing out of state to a server owned by Smartech Corp. According to the American Registry on Internet Numbers, Smartech's block of IP addresses 64.203.96.0 - 64.203.111.255 encompasses the entire range of addresses owned by the Republican National Committee.

SO before our eyes, we have another potential "WATERGATE" break in that is FULLY documented.

AHem

Conspiracy? I think Dr. Brin might even buy into this.


Possible outcome.

1. Asswipe(s) [MY PERSONAL opinion-- I am STILL allowed,, last time I checked!] in the White HOUSE attack IRAN
2. As Dr. Brin suggested, ALL unite against IMPERIAL AMERIKA
3. AMERIKA (our new country name, instituted and inspired by President BUSHKI)
4. AMERIKA is attacked, President Bushki activates the New CONTINUITY of GOVERNMENT provisions of May 9th office.
5. HE takes FULL charge (via the memo) of PUBLIC and ALL PRIVATE commerce, to (as the memo states: continue the effectance of a 3 part (ha-my comment) american government

6) the Novel 1984 has just taken place, and we are no longer in the country we are today

TOTALLY chilling, and I hope I am not right.

BUT I THINK most of our BLOGS will be gone REAL FAST AFTER THAT..

ANd when they come to take me away, I hope you will remember these words.

When the Nazis came for the communists,
I remained silent;
I was not a communist.

When they locked up the social democrats,
I remained silent;
I was not a social democrat.

When they came for the trade unionists,
I did not speak out;
I was not a trade unionist.

When they came for me,
there was no one left to speak out.

AND I for one, love this country, and WILL NOT BE GOING QUIETLY, and MEEKLY
Call me the first non-war patriot to risk their life/liberty/??


Sorry if this seems WAY too negative, but I really am this disillusioned by our current government

And here is Nancy Pelosi's EMAIL : sf.nancy@mail.house.gov

Send HER your requests to start impeachment proceedings.

Please forgive the length of this massive missive!

MarkBnj

Oh, and another question for you, especially don and President!

My quick and easy (ha ha) solution to the mideast problem.

Forget the two state solution based on the 1967 borders.
Instead go back to the 1948 UN Two state solution to the 1948 Palestine solution

TWO different states. Israel was created, the jews accepted it. ARABS? they call it the nakba, THE CATASTROPHE.
Why is it a catastrophe?
They didn't accept their state that was given to them.
The land was STOLEN/ANNEXED by another local state. (can you say JORDAN?)
They tried to kill and do a POGROM and kill all the jews.
They failed, at least 6 times.
They (IMANS) told ALL their congregants to FLEE, while they kill the tender, vuneralble Jews.
They failed. Their congregants became the refugees that were DENIED entry to EVERY OTHER ARAB country.

So. It was a catastrophe.
==================
Lets go back in time.
let's get the land back from Jordan (Negotiating step one)
Let's set up the state.
Let's arrange to get EVERYONE re-patriated to Jordan
Let's work on the INTERNATIONAL state of Jerusalem ((Negotiating step two)

AND let's get one more thing arranged.

Unless you (arabs) fully accept this, and agree to this,
there would be no more Windows NT/XP/2000/2003/2008/Vista ARAB LANGUAGE packs at all
(did you know that windows NT/[and all current windows] are developed by MICROSOFT in Haifa??)
As well as the ARAB language packs (also developed there!
(Negotiating step three-- get billionaire Bill to help achieve this for PEACE

ANd one more thing.

Peace is not a COLD dead peace like we have with Egypt, where we officially ended hostilities, but
NO trade, Nothing like what was envisioned

PEACE is going from country to country without having to have israel stamped on a separate piece of paper so I can go to iran, or Saudia Arabia.

Oh, and yes, full entry to ALL arab coutries.

-----------------end of original post.----
NOW COMMENTING on COMMENTS HERE-----


As President Ahmedinajad said...
--wait--another interlude...
President. we thank you and the arab states for MANY many innovations, including
arabic numbers, algebra, advanced mathamatics, and keeping many many things alive during the
"age of stupidity" in the western world during the middle ages.
Oh and we can also thank your palestinian acquaintenances for the innovation of
the Sucide (better to use Isaac Asimov's concept of "stupid bomber" instead) Bomber

--end of interlude...

We can talk about the religious statements.

First, an overview:
==============
Both of Abraham's two sons, Isaac and Ishmael Did inherit quite a lot.

Isaac and his descendants (jews) got the land of Israel (small in size, no oil, etc) and a spiritual inheritance;

Ishmael got all the material inheritances; i.e. practically all of the middle east and its resources.

Essentially, the bible says that Hagar was told that her son too, would become a great nation.

===========end of this spammed isaac/ishmael section...

And ALL the DF#$^& I want is peace with my brother.

Damn it, STOP trying to drive me into the sea brother.
YOU have 95% of the RESOURCES, size, population, land, and OIL.

All we darn have is the state of israel, and our spiritual blessings.
Can't you at least let us have that? or are you STILL so bitter about
the fact that you still lost in 1948/56...etc/etc
makes you SO SO BITTER, that the sea or nothing is all you can spare for your Brother?

And in Closing, thank you again Dr. Brin, for your patience, and writing...
=====================

TheRadicalModerate said...

Well, the commentary so far has been... interesting...

I'll bore you all again with my three objectives that have to be satisfied by any Middle East strategy:

1) Protect the flow of oil from the Persian Gulf.

2) Deny jihadism a safe haven, in preparation for annihilating it as an ideology.

3) Protect Israel.

#1 trumps everything. By my reckoning, the gulf states constitute about half of the world's proven oil reserves. Any lengthy interruption of the West's access to those reserves is potentially a civilization-ending event, at least for the next 10-15 years.

Seen in this light, invading Iraq makes all kinds of tactical sense, in that it puts a large military force astride the oil supply and nicely brackets the country most likely to interdict that supply. Unfortunately, this made absolutely no strategic sense, given the rise of a persistent insurgency. But surely you can all see how you'd do this if you thought (foolishly) that a decapitating attack on Iraq would lead to an immediate installation of a US-friendly government that would be happy to let us base troops in perpetuity.

Now, Iran with nukes poses a threat to the achievement of objective #1: How do you prevent Iran from being able to interdict the oil supply if it has access to nukes and delivery systems for them?

Iran's two biggest enemies, other than the US, are Saudi Arabia and Israel. Due to how their populations and industry are concentrated, these two contries can be completely destroyed using no more than ten nuclear weapons. This is a problem for the US, because without these two countries, Iran can interdict the oil supply whenever it wants.

So the question becomes: How to prevent Iran from either coercing or destroying its neighbors to gain absolute control over the Gulf? Some possibilities:

1) Sanction Iran into giving up its nukes. Not very successful so far.

2) Raid Iran to destroy its uranium enrichment industry.

3) Accept a nuclear Iran and rely on deterrence.

Personally, my bet is on #3, but it certainly seems reasonable make one last try at getting #1 to work by threatening #2. I sure hope I've diagnosed this accurately, because I completely agree that actually executing a raid would achieve the exact opposite of what we'd intended.

Of course, #3 has all kinds of problems that really need to be thought through. Can Israel provide a "doomsday" nuclear deterrent? (I.e., can they reliably destroy Iran even after they've been destroyed?) Can the Middle East be protected from Iranian delivery systems using ABMs? Will the Iranians find a US nuclear umbrella, where we retaliate if Iran attacks its neighbors, credible?

To me, these are much more interesting questions than cooking up non-existent conspiracies. After all, while the world may be stranger than we can imagine, politics isn't.

Onion Volcano said...

I'm sorry I don't have anything religious to say.

I really like the Manchurian Candidate idea. Unfortunately, the Bush administration seems to have zero talent for conspiracy.

Could these poor people really be doing something as complex as what Dr. Brin suggests?

It boggles the mind. It's like trying to imagine the Keystone Cops taking out the guns of Navarone.

But Dr. Brin...you are right so often...

Logan Gawain said...

Excellent ideas as always Dr. Brin.

What if W. hates his father so much, he feels the need to destroy the "new world order" of global institutions his father promoted while he was president?

W. has a tendency to do the opposite of his daddy. Remember that once when H.W. confronted W. about his drinking and driving W. told his dad, "Do you want to go mano-a-mano?"

I know this gets into Maureen Dowd's ideas of H.W. being the good father, and Cheney being the bad father, the "Darth Vader", but it is a nice simple way to look at it: He hates his dad, and wants to show up his dad by destroying everything is father cared about.

(Think back to H.W.'s famous lines from the book he wrote with Scrowcroft about why he didn't occupy Baghdad in 1991. H.W. predicted exactly what an occupation would lead to.)

Of course none of that explains how the rest of the government goes along with this madness. The Democrats don't seem to have the moral courage to go for impeachment. (Let alone keep shoving exit timelines at him, as they shold have.)

I find it remarkable that it was John Ashcroft his his deputy that raised opposition to his wire tapping schemes. That makes Ashcroft far more courageous than Colin Powell or George Tennet who pretty much rolled over and played dead.

I mean we've seen in history when a megalomaniac persuades a nation with some charisma or powerful oratory. But, this little creep from Texas can't string a coherent phrase together. His speeches leave people laughing at his ineptitude. His simpleton rhetoric only seems to have an impact on the 20-28% that still support him -- people who walk with their knuckles dragging on the greensward.... people with nothing behind their eyes.

Perhaps all they need are fear triggers: September 11th! Axis of Evil! Democrats will ban the Bible while gays are allowed to wed! Trouble right here in River City!

Well, I don't think there is a good answer.

Though watching Bill Richardson run a pretty bad campaign so far, I'm thinking an Al Gore - Sen. James Webb (D-VA) ticket would be great to start reparing the damage.

Don Quijote said...

Now, if Iran both tests and nuke and has the means to launch it at Isreal there could be neutrons flying. I think one of the quietly wise things being done is to deploy a limited anti missle system in eastern europe. But in the long run we have to get used to states with clinical signs of early rabies getting their hands on this sort of hellish stuff. In the next administration.

One small question?

How the F*** is a anti-missile system based in Eastern Europe suppose to protect Israel from Iran?

And how do you account that the Russians think that it is there to counter their Nuclear Arsenal?

And how do you take into account the fact that Russia has more than enough Nukes to overwhelm our Anti-Missile Systems?

Bunch of stupid kids playing chicken with Nuclear Weapons.

Don Quijote said...

Of course none of that explains how the rest of the government goes along with this madness. The Democrats don't seem to have the moral courage to go for impeachment. (Let alone keep shoving exit timelines at him, as they shold have.)

It's not an issue of Moral Courage, It's the lack of a reliable base.

The reason they don't have one is that every time they had to chose between their base and Corporate America, they have sided with Corporate America (NAFTA, WTO, Bankruptcy reform, etc...).

tacitus2 said...

Don Q
In response to your question
An antimissile system in E.Europe does not protect Isreal. It protects Europe. Yes, they are used to living under the threat of destruction from the Sov. era. But Europe is extremely dependent on ME Oil, and their politics are susceptible to intimidation.
Assuming that:
A. We can't keep places like Pakistan, Iran, N.Korea etc nuke free without conquest.
B. That ain't gonna happen.
C. Second/third tier countries are not going to have thousands of missles to launch, maybe a handful.
Then it makes sense to have a few anit missle defense interceptors in south eastern Europe and on the US West Coast.
Russia is making a fuss out of orneryness, the ability to stop two or three intermed. range missles lauched from the mid east will not alter the strategic bal. of power.
The Iraq debacle has tainted the legit. aspects of worrying about nuke proliferation. But when rogue or at least dubious nations test a weapon, and have the means to deliver it, we need to be prepared. Even if the counter is a system of unproven ability. God I hope such a system is never needed.
Imagine a scenario where the Iranians, or more likely some faction within Iran, launch a single missle that is intercepted. It would alter the geopolitical world overnight. Even that is some deterrent to the sane.
Now, what I really worry about is a smuggled weapon. Different story. Quieter story.
Isreal, btw, either has, or will develop its own antimissle sytem. The Arrow is probably as adept as the newer Patriot batteries. And their submarine based cruise missles are a very plausible deterrent.
Tacitus2

HawkerHurricane said...

The Soviet excuse me Russia is upset about the missile defenses in Eastern Europe because it prevents small scale nuclear blackmail. "Do as I say or a waste Gdansk!" only works if you don't have to launch a dozen missiles to get one city. It doesn't prevent them form making any country of thier choice a radioactive wasteland, just from smaller scale blackmail that wouldn't provoke a major power response.

In response to anonomous:
"It will take six days. Maybe six weeks. I doubt six months." Don Rumsfeld, who should have known better.
Sure, we could wipe out Iran's regular military in 3 days with a mix of Air Force, Navy and 'special forces'. THEN WHAT?
NeoCons seem to have problems with the 'THEN WHAT?' question. They like half plans, which don't account for even the possibility of the worst case scenario. I know the military accounts for things like that, the Navy's war plans since WW2 always account for the possibility of a 'Pearl Harbor'.

Woozle said...

(I knew I was forgetting something...)

All of the parties on the neo-feudalist side have an interest in de-stablization, either of the United States or of the world (especially the Middle East).

GWB benefits from internal de-stablization because it gives him the excuse to enact the "catastrophic emergency" clause of the NS/HSPD (the May 9 directive mentioned by another poster). He also is allied with the fundies...

The fundies benefit because chaos drives people towards hardline religion. Chaos also breeds ignorance, which also aids their cause. (And of course many of them have been convinced that catastrophic mass destruction would be a good thing for its own sake.)

The GOP benefits, because danger makes people vote more Republican.

The Islamic hardliners benefit for much the same reason as the US fundies: chaos drives people away from moderation and into the hands of extremists.

The Saudis benefit for a number of reasons, mostly involving Iraq (their neighbor to the N/NE): we've knocked out any worries they might have had over Iraq being either a major oil-producer, powerful, democratic, or non-hardline Muslim. US actions have also helped greatly in Saudi efforts to spread Islam, and we are now apparently about to take out one of their main enemies. The Bandar-Bush connection is pretty well established, so I won't go into that.

And in general, war tends to favor the already-strong over the weak. Neo-feudalism is all about using modern tools and techniques to (re-)build a world where the strong rule and the weak serve.

There's probably more, but that's what comes readily to mind.

Don Quijote said...

An antimissile system in E.Europe does not protect Isreal. It protects Europe.
From what? the Boogie Man?

Yes, they are used to living under the threat of destruction from the Sov. era.
Who isn't? If we were to use but a small percentage of existing Nukes sitting around people's arsenal we would destroy this planet and damn every living thing on it.

But Europe is extremely dependent on ME Oil, and their politics are susceptible to intimidation.
So is every one else's, remove the ME Oil from circulation and watch the global economy come to a sputtering halt.

Then it makes sense to have a few anit missle defense interceptors in south eastern Europe
Since when are the Czech Republic, or Poland in south eastern Europe?

Russia is making a fuss out of orneryness, the ability to stop two or three intermed. range missles lauched from the mid east will not alter the strategic bal. of power.
It's not orneriness, it's called a Sphere of Influence, and I have to say that so far the Russians have acted far more rationally than we would if China was setting Military bases in Mexico.

The Iraq debacle has tainted the legit. aspects of worrying about nuke proliferation.
Considering that they did not have any WMDs, it has convinced every one who is or may end up on the US shit list to get a few Nukes. It is the smart thing to do.

But when rogue or at least dubious nations test a weapon, and have the means to deliver it, we need to be prepared.
Who determines what is a rogue or dubious nation? (I have a sneaking suspicion that a good chunk of the Planet considers the US to be the ultimate rogue nation)

Imagine a scenario where the Iranians, or more likely some faction within Iran, launch a single missle that is intercepted. It would alter the geopolitical world overnight.
No it wouldn't, it would just convince people to build better missiles.

And their submarine based cruise missles are a very plausible deterrent.
And that is the only thing that can protect us from Nuclear war, Mutually Assured Destruction.

Don Quijote said...

The Soviet excuse me Russia is upset about the missile defenses in Eastern Europe because it prevents small scale nuclear blackmail. "Do as I say or a waste Gdansk!" only works if you don't have to launch a dozen missiles to get one city.
a) Putin isn't anywhere as stupid a Bush is.
b) Why use Nukes for blackmail, if you control the supply of natural Gas?
c) What happens after the Poles tell you to go f*** yourself? Do you go and Nuke Gdansk and start WWIII? or do you just go home with your tail between your legs?

It doesn't prevent them form making any country of thier choice a radioactive wasteland, just from smaller scale blackmail that wouldn't provoke a major power response.
If you think the Europeans are going to let someone Nuke one of their cities without retaliating, I have a bridge to sell you.

HawkerH said...

Don, it's not about reality, it's about possibilities.

Tell me, would the French or British sacrifice EVERYTHING to defend Gdansk? If you think so, I've got some land in the Chzeck Republic on the German border I'll sell you.
Why Putty Put is upset isn't because MAD suddenly won't work, it's because Brinkmanship becomes harder. And saying he's 'Smarter than Bush' is damning with faint praise.

Markbnj said...

More comments and cites from
Markb

TheRadicalModerate said...

...snip...
3) Accept a nuclear Iran and rely on deterrence.

Personally, my bet is on #3, but it certainly seems reasonable make one last try at getting #1 to work by threatening #2. I sure hope I've diagnosed this accurately, because I completely agree that actually executing a raid would achieve the exact opposite of what we'd intended.

Of course, #3 has all kinds of problems that really need to be thought through. Can Israel provide a "doomsday" nuclear deterrent? (I.e., can they reliably destroy Iran even after they've been destroyed?) Can the Middle East be protected from Iranian delivery systems using ABMs? Will the Iranians find a US nuclear umbrella, where we retaliate if Iran attacks its neighbors, credible?

Markb says...

Take a look here "radical" (and all)... An interesting article flew by last year (again under the radar)
Israel STRATEGIC SUB fleet!

I almost should NOT point this out, but as "radical" says, he is afraid that without a doomsday deterrent, Israel is chopped meat.

Goodbye cruel world, you wanted "GOG Vs. MaGOG"??? Sorry, israel's "strategic" submarine fleet is (I read between the lines) NUC-ULE-AR capable and armed!

And I'd guess that there's an automated "REVERSE" doomsday routine that allows automatic firing of 'dem babies at Mecca, iran, and EVERY singl oil field and world capital, including (i'd hope) the US of A, UNLESS it is rescinded every X minutes by a radio/encrypted signal from israel
...In other words, If I were writing the plot of the "doomsday" backup bomb for Israel, I'd presume that Israel was gone, UNLESS i explicitly heard from base counteracting the order for another time period. To me it's a no brainer!



and...
Don Quijote said...
how is a europe based anti-missle system supposed to save Israel.
Where do you think a good part of the system is designed?? Israel..(the arrow subsystem)

I really have to hand it to you guys (fellow brothers)
it seems that the memory lapses that are suffered afte EVERY war really make the nation of Ishmael start
from SCRATCH after EVERY single war, without remembering ANYTHING of value from the war!
such as:
...Not Telling your population to FLEE before the battle, so civillian casualties are lowered.
...Not remembering that the bible SAYS, the hand of GOD will follow his "chosen" people, and give them victory.
...NOT realizing that before your religion and prophet was even there, we were there. YOU didn't become a viable nation for another thousand -fifteen hundred years after we were established.
... AND for stupidly inventing the most annoying tactic of all modern warfare, the sucide/homicide/stupid bomber!

and Woozle said...
(2nd post:
...snip...President BUSHKI (I swear I will find and post the song parody , to the tune of "OFFICER KRUPKE"(west side story)
TONIGHT, and put the link here somewhere in this THREAD!!! It'll be on the my-poem-a-day.blogspot.com blog. )

...snip...President BUSHKI...is DYING to become our country's FIRST "dictatorial" president.
Last year (somewhere) I said (jokingly) that he would run the BUSH twins as president/VP in 2008, and just DECLARE them the winners...
The May 9th directive (google "NSPD 51" (Nat. Security Presidential Directive 51) sends chills up my spine, especially since it (at first glance seems non-authoritatian!)

At any rate, I am anxious to hear Dr. Brin's take on this..

I really fear for our country greatly!


Mark brown in NJ

Oh, and Don:

With Israel's Doomsday Subs, it doesn't matter. ONE hit on Israel, the rest of the world is TOASTED ground for 500 years

Anonymous said...

This same topic came up on another blog. One commenter there pointed out that before any military action against Iran is initiated, the following five questions need to be satisfactorily answered:

Then what?
Then what?
Then what?
Then what?
Then what?

TheRadicalModerate said...

Mark--

Thanks for the interesting blurb on the subs. Of course, the next requirement for a genuine MAD-style deterrent is that both sides are rational and place the protection of their populations and industries above everything else. I'm hoping Iran meets that criterion. But it's a lot dicier a proposition than it was with the Soviets.

David Brin said...

Mark is a little scary and exaggeration does not help. Let's put the same thought a bit more carefully...

The problem Israel faces - making the missile sub less effective - is that deterrence will not work against sheiks who sincerely believe that their own cities are valueless and who envision themselves as modern bedouin lords, albeit living in air-conditioned tents well-stocked with servants and sherbets. The people of iyadh are not plausible hostages to a MAD scenario. Their value to the top tier has already bee disproved.

Where my operating theory breaks down (that the sons of ibn Saud are all geniuses) is here -- "What - exactly - do they expect to happen once all the Israelis are driven into the sea?"

I mean seriously, do they want to live in a future where a substantial fraction of the world's best scientists are at least as radicalized as any Palestinian, but vastly more ingenious and well-funded and fiercely motivated for revenge. Do these guys actually believe they can accomplish that widely stated end, with impunity?

And if they do not, then WTF? Spend a hundred billion$ on the "palestinian Arc" - make them rich and happy and put an end to this!

In contrast, the Iranians are intrinsically capable of sanity and even democracy. We could have reached out our hand to them...

--

For once I do agree with Don on something. Russia's new power is oil, not bombs.

Still, they are clearly happy that the Bushites have systematically ended the "unipolar" world dominated by a respected and unmatchable Pax Americana.

Vilyehm said...

Posted by request...

(It seems many rejoice when the mighty have faltered.)

Amazon.com glitched. Y2K still lives?

If you buy books on Amazon.com, beware of the publication date 1900.

There must be thousands of bad listings, usually with outrageous prices.

How can a book on the evils of radio advertising be printed in 1900?

Yet there the listing be.

I've been putting books on Amazon all weekend and suddenly books "printed" in 1900 are popping up everywhere.

For one book I listed, the true publication date is 1964, and there are many copies, now starting at $10. And here is a copy dated 1900 for $98.

Nobody can "honestly" pick up a
1964 book and "accidentally" type in 1900.


Forget about any reference to the river. It seems Amazon is filling up with boobs.

tacitus2 said...

Someone asked if Britain and France would go to war over Gdansk. They did in 1939.

Tacitus2

Sam said...

So... What do you think the U.S. should do? Make it concise please.

Jon said...

I just want to say that I think that the best (if not the only) step right now is for every member of congress to be *flooded* with letters (snail mail says you're more serious than faxes or emails) saying "Either impeach the Pres. and the VP or I'm voting you out of office next time you're up for election. Period."

Aside from that, I reccommend reading the book "Chasing Ghosts" by the founder of iava.org. (Hawker Hurricaine, I *really* hope that your library gets this one at some point.)

Markbnj said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Markbnj said...

updated the link to make it work!

Dr. Brin said:
(I added a set of parentheses and fixed a typo...)
Mark is a little scary and exaggeration does not help. Let's put the same thought a bit more carefully...
The problem Israel faces -(which makes the missile sub less effective )- is that deterrence will not work against sheiks who sincerely believe that their own cities are valueless and who envision themselves as modern bedouin lords, albeit living in air-conditioned tents well-stocked with servants and sherbets. The people of iyadh are not plausible hostages to a MAD scenario. Their value to the top tier has already been disproved.

Mark says:
That’s part of the “beauty/scary part” of what I see the Israeli response being.
a) You wanna take us out? no problem, but ALL your Darn oil, and the whole damned world will be in a nuc-ule-ar winter TOO. So don't even think YOU, the elite will survive. Take us out, you get taken out too...
b) … Are you SURE you want to boogie in the desert in your radioactive gear? It doesn’t matter, there won’t be any oil that can be used, and your entire lands will Also be gone!

Dr. Brin continues:

Where my operating theory breaks down (that the sons of ibn Saud are all geniuses) is here -- "What - exactly - do they expect to happen once all the Israelis are driven into the sea?"

I mean seriously, do they want to live in a future where a substantial fraction of the world's best scientists are at least as radicalized as any Palestinian, but vastly more ingenious and well-funded and fiercely motivated for revenge. Do these guys actually believe they can accomplish that widely stated end, with impunity?

mark sticks his nose in here again.
I agree. That’s why my theory of Billionaire Bill (gates) and Microsoft could help immensely:
Arab-boycott
THink of it this way
If Billionaire Bill (gates) and Microsoft could ensure world peace by enforcing a "no israel, no arab windows NT language packs"
besides pushing people to LINUX, it would be helpful.

But Dr. Brin, that IS the problem. I don't think the palestinians, the house of saud, the Iranians, or ANYone in the mideast have ever thought this one thru either.

-- In theory, they want to reverse their "nightmare (Nakba)" and go back to 1929 when they massacred thousands of jews in nablus.

-- As you said, I don't think they KNOW what they want, and I (personally) don't think it IS realistic to think they will ever defeat Israel and push them back to the sea.(short of nukes...)
--- and if they DO nuke, I think we will all be going thru "the postman" (one of MY favorite books btw...)scenario in some measure...



Dr. Brin continues

And if they do not, then WTF? Spend a hundred billion$ on the "palestinian Arc" - make them rich and happy and put an end to this!

In contrast, the Iranians are intrinsically capable of sanity and even democracy. We could have reached out our hand to them...

--

For once I do agree with Don on something. Russia's new power is oil, not bombs.

Still, they are clearly happy that the Bushites have systematically ended the "unipolar" world dominated by a respected and unmatchable Pax Americana.


ANd Mark asks again.

(what about the 1948 UN two state solution?? ) ANd btw, did you KNOW that SIR WINSTON Churchill was EXTREMELY culpable for parts of this huge problem when he was the
high commissioner of Palestine in 1924? He gave away one third of the land of the mandate to a "friend/petitioner" for a new state, called TRANS-Jordan...


What DO they really want.
Everyone claims it is a state for the palestinian. I agree with you, and don't think they really KNOW what they REALLY want.

HHurricane said...

There is a reason I mentioned Chzech land bordering Germany in my comment on Gdansk.
Before England and France went to war to save Poland, they threw Austria and Chzechsloviakia to the wolf.
AND left Poland occupied by the Soviets for 40 years.

David Brin said...

I am deeply opposed to talk of impeachment right now.

Please note that Culture War is THE great accomplishment of these bastards. Impeachment would be a declaration of war between two set-piece "sides" in which America's conservatives would suddenly be driven back inside Karl Rove's Big Tent.

Even if we won that fight... just like if Hillary becomes President ... we will lose and victory will taste like ashes. The nation will become ungovernable and that is the neocons' goal.

What we NEED is an end to "culture war."

Yes, the Bushites must be neutralized. But that can happen in better ways. By continuing to undermine them politically, with plummeting popularity etc. But also by OFFERING SHELTER TO DECENT AMERICAN CONSERVATIVES who are starting to wake up and rouse their heads from ostrich-posture, under the sands of denial.

If we make clear that our first goal is a return to pragmatic modernist governance and a willingness to engage in open debate and honest decency, and a turn away from ALL fanaticisms, then we may draw enough of these people into at least a temporary alliance to save this nation, our alliances, our civilization.

Above all, if we create a safe situation for whistle blowers, we might see today's trickle of honest and sincere American professional civil servants who disclose Bushite travesties become a flood.

You want impeachment?

Is your heart that wrathful? Fine. Then put my methods FIRST!

When the professionals and the henchmen start blabbing in droves, THEN you'll get your "indictable" offenses, lined up in long and irrefutable rows.

upasna said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Don Quijote said...

Before England and France went to war to save Poland, they threw Austria and Chzechsloviakia to the wolf.
AND left Poland occupied by the Soviets for 40 years.


I didn't see the US willing to start WWIII to save Chzechsloviakia in 68 or Hungary in 56.

Don Quijote said...

Please note that Culture War is THE great accomplishment of these bastards. Impeachment would be a declaration of war between two set-piece "sides" in which America's conservatives would suddenly be driven back inside Karl Rove's Big Tent.

The Declaration of war between the two sides occurred in 96 when the Repugs won the House, and the Hostilities started by the Impeachment of a center right president in 98, the theft of an Presidential Election in 2000, the Coup that put the Terminator in power in Kaleefornia and the redrawing of congressional maps in Texas.

Even if we won that fight... just like if Hillary becomes President ... we will lose and victory will taste like ashes. The nation will become ungovernable and that is the neocons' goal.

And you wonder why you guys just can't win, you are more afraid of victory than of losing. If Hillary wins, we will have another Clinton Administration, center-right competent who will f*ck over it's base in the attempt of of making the Right Wing Nuts happy. They won't be happy, and the Democrats will lose more of their base, after all what is the point of voting for politicians who spend more time making their enemies happy than their supporters.

What we NEED is an end to "culture war."
What we need to do is embrace the "culture war", build up our troops and go out there and fight it. Fight it to win, fight dirty and destroy your opposition, make the right-wing media lose money, make their corporate sponsors life as miserable as possible, make their "religious organizations" pay the price for playing politics.

Yes, the Bushites must be neutralized.
No, they can't be!

But that can happen in better ways. By continuing to undermine them politically, with plummeting popularity etc.
By the time you are done doing that, we will have another couple of more Katherinas, two years of Surge in Iraq and possibly another war in Iran. The world Nor the US can afford having such an incompetent running the US government.

But also by OFFERING SHELTER TO DECENT AMERICAN CONSERVATIVES who are starting to wake up and rouse their heads from ostrich-posture, under the sands of denial.
One would think that the last 6 years would have made you realize that their is no such thing as a DECENT AMERICAN CONSERVATIVE.

CONSERVATIVE = greedy, short sighted, racist, scared jingoist a**holes.

You want impeachment?
YES!!!

Is your heart that wrathful?
YES, I want to Shrub & Dick's head on a pike.

Fine. Then put my methods FIRST!
Will not work, you fight fire with fire.

When the professionals and the henchmen start blabbing in droves, THEN you'll get your "indictable" offenses, lined up in long and irrefutable rows.

We already have our indictable offenses, California Energy Crisis, WMDs, Iraq, Katherina, Tapping US Phones, Ignoring the FISA court, Playing Politics with US Attorneys, Politicizing the hiring Process at the Justice Department.

Prog said...

Re: Missile defense in Europe

It grieves me to say anything that might be construed as being in defense of Bush and his cronies but their assertion that missile defense installations in Europe would be for protection from an Iranian nuclear threat are at least plausible. The presumably in-development Shahab-4 ICBM would supposedly have a range up to 2,000 miles putting most of Europe in range. They could nuke Helsinki, which I'm sure is high on their target list. Hmmm...

Yeah, I know. But it's plausible.

Anonymous said...

Brin said:

"If we make clear that our first goal is a return to pragmatic modernist governance and a willingness to engage in open debate and honest decency, and a turn away from ALL fanaticisms, then we may draw enough of these people into at least a temporary alliance to save this nation, our alliances, our civilization."

Last night at a bookstore I browsed around in a bit in Zbig's new book. At the end he says that "Pax Americana" [as Brin puts it, not Zbig's words] has a second chance after 2008. Zbib says it will take many years of skillful effort, but it's doable. Then in italics he says "there will be no third chance."

ERic said...

With all this side chatter, I'm glad to see that Woozle finally summarized what Dr. Brin has been getting at. I'd like to thank him for it, and repeat it, because I've been reading this blog for quite a while now, but Dr. Brin never seems to state it quite as simply and clearly as Woozle did.

Bush & Co. want to destroy the US.

They want to do it because it they and their allies will (generally) get wealthy/thrive in the ensuing chaos.

I'd like a confirmation that Woozle and I have correctly stated Dr. Brin's theory.

I more than half expect that he'll prevaricate and wax poetic rather than actually answer. Probably because suggesting something like that that succinctly from such a high-profile personality is risky.

Only Rosie O'Donnel can get away with such wildly paranoid fantasies.

TheRadicalModerate said...

David--

In contrast, the Iranians are intrinsically capable of sanity and even democracy. We could have reached out our hand to them...


I agree that the Iranian people are sane and have deomcratic leanings. I'm not so sure about the people in charge.

I'm not worried about Ahmadinejad. He is, after all, merely the court jester for the people who are really in power: the mullahs. I keep wondering if they'd be willing to send a big chunk of their population off to heaven in a blaze of glory in exchange for wiping out Israel and a bunch of Sunnis.

David Brin said...

Eric. Well, duh! Of course I will get poetical and artsy and avoid committing myself fully to a theory that (1) is so completely unconventional, (2) could expose me (if it’s true) to terrible retaliation, and (3) set me up as a strawman carricature.

Look. My role is to spin out ideas for people to mull over. And if enough people start mulling them, then most of that job is done. I am especially attracted to concepts that seem under-noticed compared to their potential importance and plausibility.

Hence, I am pushing this meme for the simplest and most persuasive reason. Because NOBODY else is even mentioning it! And I mean no one. At... all. In fact, I find (to my amazement) that when I mention it, most people blink and stare and seem to have trouble even parsing what it is that I am suggesting!

People who despise the Bushites even more lividly than I do, seem incapable of imagining them as SMART venial-dogmatic monsters... instead of dismally stupid ones. Not only do I consider this gap in idea-coverage to be blinkered and myopic and possibly even psychotic-hysterical (a basic human sanity trait is to at least ponder plausible-if-unlikely dangers) - but this tunnel vision totally scrapes raw my contrarian personality, which drives me to consider anything unusual and say "yes...but..." to conventional thinking.

(A personality that would have got be strangled very early in any other civilization. Hence my utterly ferocious dedication to this one!)

So, if everyone were shouting "deliberate treason!" at Bush, would I be saying "yes...but... maybe he's just a dogmatic idiot"?

Hm. Well. Yes, I think I would. The short answer is that I am more a believer in mental agility and contrarian diversity of ideas than I am a believer in my own damned theory! (Take it as an ultimate enlightenment trait, oh grasshopper modernist-accolytes.)

The long answer?

Do I "officially" believe W and his top partners were long ago suborned through a combination of blackmail - (e.g. pictures with a donkey, taken on Prince B's yacht?) - and bribery, plus psychological manipulation of weak minds and weaker values? Combine this with a belief in the ancient and prevalent human tradition of aristocratism, and do you have a formula for full-tilt “Manchuran Candidate” deliberate betrayal of the United States of America and all the the Great Experiment values that it stands for? Is that what I sincerely and seriously believe to be today’s factual situation?

Well... let me answer with a question. Can you name a period in history when a nation's enemies did not try subornation as a method to undermine it from within? Use of this general approach has been historically pervasive, prevalent, even ubiquitous. Moreover, our intelligence agencies used to be wary toward the possibility! During WWII and the Cold War, they applied great attention and resources to counter-intelligence activities that sought out even the slimmest clues. And yet, today, these same services and professionals not only appear to ignore the danger, they seem unable to even parse it in their minds.

(Um, let’s see. We are at war with poor “Islamofascists”... in their millions... but the very idea of looking for trouble from rich ones... well, somehow that’s unthinkable.)

As if such methods could never possibly be applied against us by people who have stated openly and in the very textbooks from which they teach their young, that they yearn to use their vast assets to undermine our civilization at its weakest points and bring it crashing down?

People who have, during the span of this Administration, never seen a single desire of theirs thwarted, a single policy enacted that they dislike, a single official appointed in the US Executive Branch of whom they disapproved.

Do I officially believe that all of this adds up to a "manchurian" scenario? One that could simply and easily explain why the Bush Administration has so thoroughly demolished American influence in the world? Our alliances, our popularity, our finances, our economic health, our science, our technology, our internal social cohesion, our systems of accountability, our military strength and our readiness? Is this much simpler "heliocentric" model better (in my view) than the almost universally preferred "ptolemaic" system of convoluted epicycles? The relentless efforts that go into trying to explain one weird Bushite governance error after another as a separate case of dogmatic stupidity?

Does this alternative explain, far better, the fact that "stupid men" have such a PERFECT score of mismanagement - in tens of thousands of individual decisions, appointments and actions - somehow avoiding even ONE good decision, even as a matter of pure accident?

Do I officially believe all this?

hm... lemme think about it some more. When it seems a little less lonely out here on this limb.

Nicholas Walter said...

Ahmedinejad, the Saudis, etc profit from Israel being around. Just as the GOP profits from abortion being legal. It's a hot-button issue that works to keep the proles in line. I seriously doubt Israel is under any material threat.

Review the assorted wars with Israel. In 1948, the Syrians massed 25K troops on the border... and just sat them there. There was no massive invasion. Similar situations have repeatedly arisen. The Arab states have no material interest in destroying Israel.

Just a thought.

Enterik said...

And here I thought Operation Iraqi Liberation was conceived to ensure the continued hegemony of US fiat currency as transaction currency for petrochemical profit recycling into dollar denominated assets...

Onion Volcano said...

Dr. Brin said: "hm... lemme think about it some more. When it seems a little less lonely out here on this limb."

I'll try the limb out. Is Bush against America? What, for him, defines America? Please examine:

1. At the 1992 Republican Convention, GOP chief Rich Bond famously said: "We are America; these other people are not America."

2. Remember New Orleans and the abandonment of its citizens. Was this the first genuine shot fired in the "Culture War?"

3. The new Alternative Minimum Tax snares people who live in areas with high state and property taxes. Blue states, in other words. A hidden Democrat Tax.

These are telling incidents. If I'm a neoconservative, is the American Left not part of my country? Are its people just a source of taxation undeserving of representation?

If we're trying to fit evidence to Dr. Brin's theory of Bush being against America, how about if Bush gets to choose the America he opposes?

Woozle said...

(Expounding further upon "my version" of the theory, which is not by any means the only version I find acceptable...)

Bush is not knowingly harming America, as he understands it.

The problem lies with a combination of two things: (1) his understanding of what America *is*, and (2) calculatedly bad advice from a trusted but malevolent outside source. (The results of that advice probably seems less horrific to him than to us, as his goals are rather closer to those of the source than ours are -- though he might well still be horrified if he understood what they are really working towards.)

Bush probably believes that a "strong presidency" is a good thing for America, because we need to be a strong country, and a strong leader makes a strong country, right? Even when we're obviously losing, the important thing is to be strong, or else we can't win! (I'm irresistably reminded of the Daleks in a recent episode...)

He doesn't understand (or perhaps doesn't care) that he is undermining the essential principles on which the country was founded. What do a bunch of abstract principles mean when we've got a *war* to fight? The important thing is that *we* need to be the winners! And we will make whatever sacrifices we need to make in order to win! And anyone who isn't marching in the same direction threatens our strength, threatens our ultimate victory, and is clearly rooting for the terrorists.

(Is there such a thing as "ideological treason"? I don't think I'd want there to be an actual law against it as such, but perhaps it's a good, catchy phrase to convey concisely the overall nature of Bush's transgressions.)

The misunderstanding of (or disregard for) the basic principles of liberal democracy is what allows the "bad ideas from outside" to seem like good ideas. From Bush's point of view, they're not even all that bad, as they mesh fairly well with his worldview: ignorance is strength, freedom is slavery, war is peace. (If people are ignorant, they have no choice but to trust the leaders. If the people are free, the leaders are forever chained to their whim. If there's a war on, you don't have to scurry around justifying everything.)

Another variation of the theory: "The Shadows" are not the Saudis but the people behind the Federal Reserve and the global banking system. Watch America: Freedom to Fascism (long) for more on that angle. (I'm still analyzing that one and have definitely not come to any conclusions yet.)

I would even add another variation, which would be that the whole "stronger presidency for a stronger America" line is just that -- a line calculated to sound plausible -- if it weren't that it is so exactly the "Authoritarian Leader" point of view, as documented extensively by academic research on authoritarianism.

Jon said...

"Yes, the Bushites must be neutralized. But that can happen in better ways. By continuing to undermine them politically, with plummeting popularity etc."

I have to disagree with you entirely on this one. Bush's popularity is in the toilet, the Dems were swept into office on the opposition to this war, "old school" conservatives have been bitching about bush for awhile (hell, even some of *them* are calling for impeachment) the war is a disaster, various military officers are taking the unprecedented step of criticizing Bush openly etc etc etc....


...and the Democrats still backed down (on defunding the war). That's it really; they can't realize that they were put in place to *stop* this insane power grab and mismanaged war; if they can't stand against Bush when they practically have the entire country begging them to..

Then we just can't rely on them to do jack shit. Not investigate, not reassert Congressional authority to delcare war and/or over the power of the purse, not anything.

"You want impeachment?

Is your heart that wrathful?"

Is it wrathful to want a criminal off the streets? Is it wrathful to want a monster out of power? You might as well say "Do you want the firefighter to extinguish the blaze? Is your heart that wrathful?" "Do you want the bank robbers caught? is your heart that wrathful?"

I want the abuses curtailed, and my country to regain some semblance of responsible government.

"Fine. Then put my methods FIRST!

When the professionals and the henchmen start blabbing in droves, THEN you'll get your "indictable" offenses, lined up in long and irrefutable rows."

With all due respect: Bullshit.

We have indictable offenses going all the way back to 2000 and continuing to this day, from Katrina to torture to mismanagement of the war to everything. Read "The Case for Impeachment" or "Armed Madhouse" if you doubt me.

It's not "The paid protector caste" that is going to fix this country, or the officers corps, or any other subset you choose, official or otherwise. It's you and me and the majority of the citizens. Period.

We determine what happens and what we let our government get away with. We tell the parties what we want them to do in office and it is our job to *force* them to with our votes. All the investigations in the world won't stop a man who has the power to override and ignore them, to jail anyone he deems necessary, and acts as a unitary executive. Only impeachment will (if he doesn't declare martial law or stage a coup, how is *that* for your paranoid scenarios?) and the Democrats (and the Republicans) will not until enough citizens remind them who is really in charge, with their letters, voices, and most importantly, their votes.

Anything else would be unworthy of what this country is supposed to be about.

Calling for impeachment isn't culture war; it's a call to return to accountability; it's for all of the citizens.

Markbnj said...

Dr Brin said:

Above all, if we create a safe situation for whistle blowers, we might see today's trickle of honest and sincere American professional civil servants who disclose Bushite travesties become a flood.

mark says:
OK. Here's another one... Look Here Head of GSA testifies
The head of the GSA, supposedly a NON-political agency by RULES. is CAUGHT in congressional testimony LYING about having PARTISAN lunch group meetings!

Enough to make ME sick of it!

Oh yes, David. and to quote
Network I wish we could all yell,
"I'm mad as Hell, and I'm not going to take it!" out the window too!

David Brin said...

Sorry Onion. Your scenario fits into the Standard Model. It isn't really heretical at all.

Sure, there's overlap between the standard catechism and my own crackpot heresy. Those who want to transform the Republican party into a dedicated instrument for returning civilization to an aristocracy-controlled, oligarchic model could be called enemies of the "true America", seeking - for their own selfish benefit - to bring an end to the Great Experiment that America stands for.

Fine. Though perhaps a bit philosophical and abstract. And yes, it does subsume most of the portions of the Bush agenda that deal with greed and secrecy and political cheating.

But there’s so much more. The standard model simply does not cover great swathes of the spectrum of governance calamities that have been perpetrated by these Monsters. How, for example, will it help a new aristocracy for climate disruptions to create half a billion refugees and spur dozens of vicious Water Wars during the next fifty years?

How does it benefit western plutocrats to wreck US military readiness, to undermine the professional civil service, to wage war against the officer corps and thoroughly disrupt American momentum in science?

And where does a new American oligarchy benefit by ruining US political influence around the world? Tearing down our alliances? Spoiling our advantage in underlying popularity, or our position as role model to the world? (The one thing, above all other factors, that won the Cold War.)

Under the Standard View of the Bushites, you'd expect the oligarchs behind them should want -- and go get -- oil, they should want economic benefits far beyond a few tens of billions of Halliburton-style graft, they should want to RETAIN the unipolar world that we had in 2000, unquestionably led by an unmatchable and generally well-liked Pax Americana!

But in fact, only stunning and idiotic myopia on the part of all the Michael Moores out there keeps the mainstream liberal punditry rationalizing that "it's all about access to oil." Writhing and twisting to find excuses for why, in fact, our poor suffering troops got "us" very little oil, after all.

In the end, it always boils down to "they're evil and dogmatic cheaters and thieves... who are also raging, incompetent morons... and THAT explains why the Bushites BOTH competently do bad things AND incompetently mismanage what they have won!"

Can anybody see how convoluted and irrational the Standard Model is? How desperately it depends on an hysterical, perhaps even hallucinatory need to view the foe as richly endowed in a vast panoply of mutually contradictory traits? Traits that can then be plucked selectively to explain this and then that... hundreds of specific examples of bad governance... interpreted with countless epicycles of individually fitted exegesis?

Look, I do not know - nor can I prove - that the "manchurian" explanation is valid. (Though I know there are men and women out there, some of whom have read this very missive, whose patriotic and professional duty it is to at least INVESTIGATE whether some of the patterns smell funny! Who should by now have sniffed the odore of subornation and begun to actually do their jobs.)

What I can tell you is that the “standard model” sucks. And the liberals who cling to it are almost as intellectually lazy as those stubborn "ostrich conservatives" I keep talking about, who keep shaking their heads yelling "Nah! Clinton was almost as bad! Nah!" Yeah, liberals are more like that than they would like to believe.

The Manchurian or Heliocentric hypothesis may be wrong. I pray it is!

But for it not to be on the table at all is an indictment against the imagination, logic and vision of many tens of thousands of decent people whose civilization needs them to weigh all options, carefully. Right now.

Like Cassandra, I am willing to stand here, shouting, all by myself. (Indeed, my loneliness may be the only thing keeping me alive! How's THAT for romantic paranoia! ;-)

Unlike Cassandra, I am cheerfully willing to say "my warning may be wrong." Heck, I may not even believe it myself.

What I will NOT do is shut up. This civilization is the first decent one this species ever produced. The first with the emergent properties of a truly multicellular, proto-intelligence....

Oh, let’s put is more simply; I am a soldier in its defense. My only sword is the needle of inconvenient ideas and I will wield it till I die.

Tony Fisk said...

Sayeth David:
I find (to my amazement) that when I mention it, most people blink and stare and seem to have trouble even parsing what it is that I am suggesting!

I have no trouble parsing the theory. Nor has anyone else I've mentioned it to. Why might this be? Possibly because the perspective is a little different in this hemisphere. Possibly because people in the states associate power with the presidency and don't look behind the thr... chair in the Oval Office for the real director: the ingratiating and trusted sidekick who uses the fool as a smokescreen.

Do I believe it? Well, given the lack of any evidence, it might be best for your health to say no.

As for them's as are decrying the 'spineless' democrats backing down on the withdrawal timetable issue... well, I don't know whether you've noticed, but the current administration have about 200,000 sons and daughters held hostage to patriotic duty. At least the veto rate is soaring.

Sure, it's frustrating to watch Bush continue to caper about. But there are rules to be observed.

Revolutions never helped anyone but a very few. Which is just the scenario we're trying to avoid, isn't it?

Ari173 said...

Hi, dad!
I didn't really understand what you are talking about, but I'm sure it's brilliant! lol Sorry to interupt the discussion, keep on talking, it sounds really interesting...i'll need just a minute to decipher the highly sophisticated language, though...
Ok, well, have a fantastic week,
-Ari

Zechariah said...

Just a link to a learning robot that japan put out recently.
On Youtube (in japanese, but you can see the thing move and act)
News Article in english.

I don't know how much they'll learn about childhood development and building AI from this, but I do know it is a great illustration of the
"http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uncanny_Valley">Uncanny Valley

Enterik said...

David Brin queried...

And where does a new American oligarchy benefit by ruining US political influence around the world?

Has US political influence truely been ruined or merely transformed? An unstable, war-prone world seems like a good place to turn a profit if you happen to be one of the premier producers and distributors of military commodities. Also consider that many subscribe to Machiavellian that it is better to be feared than loved. And in evolution of cooperation Axelrod counsels cultivating a reputation for brutality when confronted with likely defectors. This new influence has already rendered unto Caesar the fruits of Pentapolis (meaning Libya's nuclear program). The US is now free to move boldly, brashly to conduct policy by other means.

One need merely look at the destruction and reconstruction of Iraq to see how the oligarchs profit. They supply the equipment used to conduct the war, they repair and replace it. They even supply mercenaries and contractors. They bid for reconstruction contracts. The government has instituted a massive WPA for US corporations, you should feel grateful that some of that money goes towards domestic defense infrastructure.

And as I alluded to before, our oligarchs rest up a mountain of fiat currency and if the world starts to turn toward the Euro as a transaction currency, the gig is up. There would be a run on the bank as national reserves started dumping the dollar. And forget about credit grudgingly extended as a consequence of trade imbalance. The US could very well experience a downward spiral of Weimar-like hyperinflation and dollar depreciation.

What does this have to do with the apparent inordinate cost and sacrifice of our endeavor in Iraq? The Ba'athist regime made a tidy sum by converting it's reserves from dollars to euros and insisting on payment in the latter. This threatened the hegemony of the dollar. Especially since the Iraqi Ba'athist were going to promote this profitable scheme at the next OPEC meeting, which was set to occur just after the invasion began and proceeded with the US appointed representative. But wait there's more! All those euro denominated exploration and pumping contracts went the way of the Ba'athist regime and reverse prior nationalization so as to return what rightfully belongs to corporate America.

Tearing down our alliances?

I'm trying to think of an alliance that has been severed? NATO? NAFTA? Outside the muted sentiments of political eunuchs where are the negative consequences? Members of the not so willing coalition withdrawing troops is no more than a dance of seven veils. Everyone knows what lies beneath, US motivations laid bare with nary a fig leaf to salve the delicate sensibilities of our ineffetual allies.

Spoiling our advantage in underlying popularity, or our position as role model to the world? (The one thing, above all other factors, that won the Cold War.)

You mistake envy for popularity. The world wants what the US has, our lifestyle, our materials, our liberty, our carelessness. They will even come here to get it, but don't think for a moment they will assimilate (that is the job of their progeny). They are infected with our pernicious meme transmitted by our profitganda industries, music and video. However infectious I think that meme of selfish wastefulness is, I still do not think the US would have won the cold war were it not for $12/barrel oil.

Nicholas Walter said...

I agree that the "Standard Model" falls short of the Bushite political equivalent of the Grand Unified Theory of Everything. That said, for the purpose of intellectual exercise I think we can look at it like this (I believe Dr. Brin has pointed this out before in his ‘waxing poetic’ manner, some time ago; unless I read it elsewhere):

1. The interests involved are transnational. This is one thing Michael Moore got right in Fahrenheit 9/11 - Bush and Cheney have more common cause with the Saud family than with the Smiths of Omaha, Nebraska. Nike, Boeing, etc have publicly voiced their lack of "patriotism" insofar as their interests are not tied to one geopolitical entity (I'll dig for quotes, but they're on camera saying as much in the aforementioned film).

2. As a result, the misuse/disuse of US capability is a goal (not THE goal), not a product of incompetence. What they're after, it seems to me, is to make a "Holy Roman Empire" of sorts. Conversely, in order for this to transpire, it is necessary to wield the levers of power in the US to prevent opposition from... well, opposing. Therefore sufficient power must be centralized. Like any good Mafia, corrupting government into not doing its job (oversight, transparency, regulatory enforcement).

3. How would they profit from this? Why make that charge? Why be so incompetent?
3.a. With a decline in confidence in government and the subsequent loss of efficacy of regulatory power, there is little in the way of stopping the resource grabs for lumber, oil, etc. Provided people still make enough to continue consuming; ultimately someone needs to sell stuff to someone.
3.b. The military-industrial complex doesn't make as much money when there aren't wars running. Iraq, Iran, whoever (I wonder what we’ll do when Castro croaks?).
3.c. The corporatists in the US don't *care* about the people in New Orleans, etc. A greater purpose is served by derailing confidence in government. Apathetic and cynical voters don't get pissed off and run to the polls (whatever good that might do). It takes some pretty serious stuff to get people really pissed. Iraq? Only 3500 dead. Not enough to drive the American people to riot as they did for 'Nam. Provided they don’t go beyond a certain ceiling of “criminal” or otherwise nefarious activity, I think they’re okay. Let the people grumble, as long as they show up to their jobs and consume.

4. Why go into Iraq? Aside from oil, that is. It’s worth noting, as has been mentioned here, that limiting supply is a good thing for these folks, as is just plain controlling it. Private companies control the spigot – it is not a nationalized industry as it was under Saddam. Iraq was also an “enemy” that we could “easily” defeat (and remember, the initial invasion went well). Permanent bases in the region allow for more direct influence. Geo-political entities must cede "right-of-way" if not outright power to these folks.

5. So why rattle sabers at Iran? Same reason. Nationalized oil industry, and they don’t want to play according to “the rules.” Provided enough power is maintained (via US and/or European forces, nukes, etc), they may be able to prevent competition. Recall that the PNAC document called for a unipolar world; the underlying difference being that “American” power doesn’t necessarily mean what we think it should mean.

6. In the long run, how do they (our happy cabal of transnational capitalists) profit? By securing their position at the top of the pyramid.

This is just some spewing off the top of my head, and if someone felt like taking Occam's Razor to it that would be lovely. I'm inclined to think the grim scenarios under discussion may look kinda like what I have sketched out, but a healthy dose of CITOKATE is never unappreciated.

David Brin said...

Enterik, you offer interesting insights. Still, if I may demur on a few points.

1- Bullying bluster does not work for Pax Americana, which won the Cold War twenty years ahead of schedule for one reason only. No, not “because of Ronald Reagan.” Because we were admired and popular. The cascade of border openings, from Hungary to the Berlin Wall, happened because Eastern European people wanted to be Western. As simple as that. (Well, actually, it’s nowhere NEAR that simple. But it is the main phenomenon.)

So why is Condi Rice storming about, screeching at everybody in sight, blustering and threatening, the Iranians, the Russians, our allies, even though it always, always results in diametrically opposite effects to those she claims to desire?

According to the Standard Model, she is one more neocon idiot, unworthy to even shine Henry Kissinger’s shoes. (If she had sent W on a “Nixon to Tehran” mission in 2002, the Middle East and the world would have been transformed.) I have to tell you that here I am willing to be gentle toward the lady, and ascribe to the Standard Model.

But the Heresy must be contemplated. When a foreign policy is run so consistently in ways that defeat its own stated goals, you have to wonder - could it be deliberate?

2- Likewise, the smarter believers in the Standard Model have noticed, at last, that no oil has flowed from Iraq. Therefore, in order to maintain the venality leg of the model, they have pointed to military contracting graft. Halliburton and all that. And yes, all of that is true. To the undying shame of all decent conservatives, they have turned their backs on the blatant removal of all normal accounting and contracting rules, allowing crony-based single-sourcing on an “emergency” basis that has led to corruption of unparalleled proportions. Even more hypocritical has been the way they ignore the cosmic-levels of INEFFICIENCY that single bid contracting allows. Supposed defenders of free enterprise. My eye.

And yet, I have to tell you that it is all small potatoes! Ten billion dollars here... twenty billion there. The graft is horrendous and if Clinton had done a scintilla as much the hypocrites would have blown up ! Nevertheless, to damage America, and Pax Americana and The West as much as they have... just for a hundred billions in graft? OMG the Standard Model is depressing in one special way, because it portrays these jerks just like some asshole hunter who kills an elephant in order to dine on its tongue! Like burning down a house in order to crack open the safe.

If there’s anything worse than a thief, if is one who wreaks far more harm on the victim than any benefit the thief derives. Hell, why don’t we just offer the CheneyKleps a hundred billion dollars as a bribe to leave us alone!

(That is a serious suggestion. That and a Truth & Reconciliation Commission to get the facts, including blanket pardons! I just want to get past them and back to building civilization.)

Sorry, guys. But this is one more area where my “manchurian” explanation is far simpler and “heliocentric” than these convoluted epicycles where we say “HERE they are mostly venial but smart! While THERE they are dogmatic and stupid!”

Ponder that the graft is merely gravy for them. We went to Iraq in order to PREVENT oil production, send up oil prices and benefit the real masters. Then destroy American influence, readiness, finance, science and cohesion.

Roll it around. It may not be true. But shouldn’t we be taking precautions, now, just in case it IS?

Onion Volcano said...

But what's the motivation? If it's not simple graft (the bribe suggestion would work, I think), then why are they doing it?

I know the Standard Model includes the following idea: "Bush is an Evangelical who wants to bring about the apocolypse."

So if it's not that, what kind of world do they want? If it's not one in cinders, do they want America to return to horse-and-buggydom?

If we accept this idea, things look pretty villainous. Where's the villain's soliloquy? They've got us pretty well tied up at this point, and that's when the villain reveals his plan.

David Brin said...

Excellent question. And one that I have answered repeatedly while folks just shake their heads, so conditioned by habits of Enlightenment reasonableness that they assume villainy must be limited by SOME sort of rational motive.

But we already know - and see enshrined in law - the fact that there are classes of villain, ranked according to many scales.

1- the total amount of damage they do. Stalin's infamous quotation notwithstanding, we know a mass murderer OUGHT to merit closer attention than a one-timer. And a one-timer more attention that a guy who slashes your tires.

2- The Robin Hood Effect. It moderates a crime for it to both achieve and be motivated by some other good like feeding the hungry or saving the nation. And lest right wingers sneer at this, what the $$@# do they claim is happening in Guantanamo?

3- Ability of the victim to endure the harm done. Even in the priggish 1930s, a jewel thief was portrayed as far less "evil" than rascally. The movie code did not allow him to keep the jewel, but he didn't go to jail, either.

4- Proportionality. Does the criminal operate zero-sum - depriving the victim only of what the thief actually needs and takes? Is the damage negative sum? (The victim suffers far more - from ancillary or deliberate extra harm - than the perpetrator benefits? Indeed, there are tales of POSITIVE sum crimes, in which the unwilling victim is nevertheless better off in some unambiguous way.

5- is harm the actual end being pursued (rather than just occurring as a side-effect of the criminal benefitting)?

Believe it or not, public opinion, juries and even judges can be steeply influenced by such things.

Now, as to the criminals who are actively destroying four things - America, Pax Americana, Western Civilization and countless lives. Here's the thing.

You guys keep struggling to fit the Bushite Cabal's behavior according to standards that avoid the extreme ends of these spectra. Especially the last one. You keep looking for EXCUSES for them! That they are motivated primarily by a simple desire to advance themselves parasitically at our expense.

Or that their dogmatism makes them insane - hence the hypothesis that Bush is actively seeking Armageddon, the way some of his most outlandish fundie supporters do. (A preposterous notion. He milks and parasitizes them. He is not one of them.)

Or that sheer incompetence and stupidity explain the extra harm that they do with their crimes.

What nobody will wrap their minds around is the possibility that all that we have seen is entirely deliberate. And the end achieved - diminishing and weakening America, Pax Americana, and Western Civilization - is PRECISELY what the villains have in mind to achieve.

Look, at this point, as a short-attention-span contrarian, I am growing more interested in the phenomenon of people being unable to parse such a simple idea, than I am anymore in the idea itself!

Hey, if Dr. Evil aimed to bring down America, in a movie, you'd be able to grasp it, right?

Try pondering who might actually want such a thing in real life. Is it really all that hard?

(Hey, this is fun!)

Anonymous said...

In case you haven't seen it, another version of this theory is offered by War Nerd:

Iran wins so big in this war that I've already said that Dick Cheney's DNA should be checked out by a reputable lab, because he has to be a Persian mole. My theory is that they took a fiery young Revolutionary Guard from the slums of Tehran, dipped him in a vat of lye to get that pale, pasty Anglo skin, zapped his scalp for that authentic bald CEO look, squirted a quart of cholesterol into his arteries so he'd develop classic American cardiac disease, and parachuted him into the outskirts of some Wyoming town. And that's how our VP was born again, a half-frozen zombie with sagebrush twigs in his jumpsuit, stumbling into the first all-night coffee shop in Casper talking American with a Persian accent: "Hello my friends! Er, I mean, hello my fellow Americans! Coffee? I will have coffee at once, indeed, and is not free enterprise a glorious thing? Say, O brethren of the frosty tundra, what do you say we finish our donuts and march on Baghdad now, this very moment, to remove the Baathist abomination Saddam?" It took a couple years for Cheney-ajad to get his American accent right and chew his way into Bush Jr.'s head, but he made it like one of Khan's earwigs, got us to do the Ayatollahs' dirty work for them by taking out Iraq, their only rival for regional power. Iraq is destroyed, and Tehran hasn't lost a single soldier in the process.

But seriously, the basic problem with this notion is still motive. If it's true, how do Bush & Co think they would benefit from the destruction of America? What is their real ideology, and how were they exposed to it? Do you have any suggestions or even speculations?

occam's comic said...

Why? Why? Why?
Why would the ambassador do something so evil ( and something that would not optimize his income) ?



Is he an intelligent, rich, warrior on a jihad, who in a fit of self-actualization tries to bring down a hyperpower?

jon said...

How about:

We don't need a Manchurian Cadidate scenario. Who benefits if America goes down the tubes?

Those who can bankroll a private (blackwater) army.

Who benefits if America is hated around the world?

People who want American to live in fear and elect and re-elect them because "it's a dangerous world out there and only we can protect you."

Who benefits if Western Civilization and pax Americana and whatever checks and balances we had and redress options (labor laws, services for the poor, etc.) go away?

Those who always benefit. The rich and powerful who can have foreign bank accounts up the wazzoo, run things from poverty ridden corrupt backwaters, and who would love to operate with any kind of oversight.

That doesn't take a Manchurian candidate. Just look at the Bushies and their hard core supporters, Rupert Murdoch for one.

Onion Volcano said...

So: motivation.

What can history tell us? Which nations have been knowingly mangled by their own rulers?

Rome is interesting: Caligula? Nero? Crazies. For historical precedent of Dr. Brin's idea, we need sane, malicious intent.

What about Tiberius? He greatly increased Rome's wealth, but he was of withdrawn temperment and unpopular with Romans.

By the end of his reign, his son had been killed. Tiberius' will specified two successors: famous open-minded partier Caligula, as well as his own grandson (promptly assasinated by Caligula).

It's been argued that Tiberius did it on purpose. Caligula was known at the time to be trouble. Tiberius had enriched Rome, but was not liked. If he wanted to get back at the Roman populace, he couldn't have done better without explosives.

This is simplistic and full of supposition. Can anyone else try?

David Brin said...

Sighing, let me remind you that there is one group that expresses friendship to America when they speak in Oxford-accented English...

...while promoting religious institutions around the world -- and subsidized textbooks for millions of kids -- wherein bilious, life-or-death hatred of Western Civilization is so ferocious and bloodthirty that those same textbooks are state secrets, lest they fall into the hands of the few western journalists who still have independent voices.

Is it so hard to take people at their word when, in their own languange, they express a desire and intent to see our culture falter and fall?

What, exactly, is "paranoid" about giving such people the respect of believing that they are sincere?

There's motive. The means is a trillion dollars. At least. Read that again. A trillion. Probably two.

Opportunity? Well, start with the one described at:
http://www.davidbrin.com/blackmail.html

...and then add bribery, plus flattery, plus vanity and a well-nurtured appeal to the sense that democracy is for fools. That the natural human social order is aristocracy, so why not set up an orderly one, both well-deserved and enduring?

Ponder, there are events on the horizon, e.g. the arrival of a transparent and open society, that might end all possibility of secretive, obligate inherited privilege, forever, subjecting ALL power players to relatively even competition with their fellow human beings.

There are more than enough people WITHIN our civilization who no-doubt dread that prospect. Perhaps even enough to ally themselves with those I just mentioned above. As I have often said, it is not rich-vs-poor. It is the reflexively stupid old-style feudalist rich against the new-style satiable but ambitious crative rich, who "get" this civilization and are loyal to it.

If enough of the latter wake up to what's happening... and join re-awakening professionals... then we citizens won't be alone in standing up for our civilization. Alas, the enemy has a crucial allie on his side...


...human nature.

Ah Pericles.

Kelsey Gower said...

Ah Pericles.

Heh, I get that.

I regret commenting here so late. This thread is getting interesting. I do have a few questions though.

You've been against Hillary Clinton becoming the Democratic candidate for awhile, and you've repeatedly said, "No Senators." Is it really just because you don't want the neocons to call for war against us? (Like they haven't already.) Or do you have other suspicions about her that you're not telling us? Does she fit into this Manchurian scenario too?

And while we're at it, what about the Democratic Party? People voted them in to stop the war and they didn't? Do you think that's just incompetence when nothing else is in your scenario?

Help us out here. The scenario you're talking about simply screams for mass impeachment proceedings on several people in our government, but when we agree to that idea, you say, "Wait, wait! I didn't mean it like that!" Please explain what you mean.

Why do you think no one's come to take you out yet on that lonely limb out there? No wait, let me rephrase that. Why, exactly, are you still alone out there?

Anonymous said...

So you're suggesting that the Saudi government has pictures of Bush, Cheney, and various other key figures being naughty, and are blackmailing+sweet-talking them into doing Saudi Arabia major favors. If we accept this for the sake of argument, there are two comments I would make:
* Even under this scenario, it's unlikely that Bush & Co. would actually realize that they're working on pulling America down - why would their hypothetical Saudi handler take such a major risk as telling them this when he could simply give them specific instructions like "Invade Iraq", "Invade Iran", etc.?
* Moreover, you don't even have to postulate that the Saudis want to bring America down (and no, I don't think it's at all obvious that the Saudi elite believe the ideologies they promote.) Saudi Arabia's two main regional enemies were Iraq and Iran. Is weakening one then the other at no cost to itself, while making a vast profit off the resulting rise in oil prices, not a sufficient motive for a little blackmail?

Incidentally:
"those same textbooks are state secrets"

Seeing as I own a few (quite boring) Saudi textbooks, and was unaware that I might be breaking Saudi law by doing so, and have seem quotes from Saudi textbooks frequently appear in newspapers and webpages, can you explain/support this claim?

lightning said...

A motion to adjourn is always in order, and the "null hypothesis" is always a possibility in science. And we always have to consider that what's happening is going just the way somebody planned.

However, I have my own "heliocentric" theory.

1. The "neocons" are Communists who have switched sides. They're still Marxists. Reverse Marxism has the same flaws as regular Marxism, and the same attraction for intellectuals.

2. Karl Rove sincerely believes that nothing exists outside his little world of partisan politics and electioneering. In his world, *anything* that produces an election victory is good, regardless of "real world" effects.

Combining these, you get the "ideology is everything" idea that puts loyal incompetents in charge of things. I'm not kidding when I describe Bush's cronies as "commissars".

Reverse Marxism is working every bit as well for the US as regular Marxism worked for the Soviet Union.

TheRadicalModerate said...

Folks, you're missing the obvious. The Saudis don't have to blackmail BushCo, just as they didn't have to blackmail ClintonCo and won't have to blackmail NextGuyOrGalCo.

It's all about the oil.

The Saudis have it. They're willing to give it to us as long as we behave. Without it, the West's economy reverts back to about a 1960 level.

Everything, er, flows from the need for the oil. Now you do have to throw in a dash of Stupid (well, maybe a couple of dollops) to reproduce all the behaviors that we've seen over the past 6 years. However, mod the intelligence/competence of any administration and congress, nothing will change. It can't.

Change is possible only when we no longer need the oil.

We need to remove oil from the equation as quickly as possible, with as little uncertainty in the technology as possible. That seems to narrow it down to coal or nukes. Since I'm a global warming non-denier, I'll assert that the answer is nukes. Lots and lots and lots of them, with all the fourth-generation technology fast-tracked and the licensing streamlined and the licensing enforcement beefed up to whatever level necessary to ensure public safety and enough public indemnification to make new plant investment attractive and a waste disposal strategy that asserts emminent domain over whatever lands are necessary to get the job done. Solar, wind, cellulosic ethanol, fusion, are all lovely--thirty years from now. We can get nukes online in ten years.

Markbnj said...

NO!!!!!!!!!!!!
No Nukes!

We lived thru that in the 90's and we almost had it conquerored.

We need to 1)
DEMAND that the US car companies

# 1 culprit in my mind, import into US the ULTRA small cars they sell in Europe, and change them to meet the US emission controls

#2: get GM to reintroduce the EVO electric car they squashed.

3) Billions into investment into alternate fuels/wind/solar

Fergit the damned oil. It's lost

Charge a FUEL consumption tax on LARGE cars.

If it ain't registered to a corporation, and it weighs over
(say 1.5) tons, it has an added $5k per ton tax.

In other words TAX them FR*CKING hummers off the roads.

THERE IS ABSOLUTELY no reason for my local pizza place to use HUMMERS to deliver pizza!!!

gross, and I dont patronize them because of it.

AND... if it's a company, and they have more then one car, unless they need to have a ladder, need smaller cars too

sigh. this IS all about OIL after all

AND... I would be interested and want to start a non-profit co-op in NJ to re-engineer/modify diesel cars and refine/sell Waste Veggie Oil (WVO) (say from Wendys', KFC, Mc'D's) etc...

wish I knew how to start that!
any venture capitalists want to help out with the economy/environment?

Markb in NJ

Nicholas Walter said...

Markb,

What is wrong with nuclear power? Aside from the detail of finding a good way of disposing of nuclear waste, it is clean (by orders of magnitude over coal), cost-efficient, and safe. Ask France.

TheRadicalModerate said...

Mark--

Congratulations--with all the things you've suggested, you've just achieved a 10% reduction in oil consumption. How are you going to squeeze out another 40%-60%?

Also, please note that an electric vehicle doesn't save much energy. It just converts the load to electricity. Yes, that's much better, because you don't need as much gasoline and you can produce electricity from a lot of different sources. However, the vast majority of those sources are fossil fuels today, and will be for the forseeable future--unless you go nuclear.

You seem to have missed my main point: There are lots of alternative energy sources that will eventually come on stream. It will take about 30 years before they are mature enough to be mass-marketed and capable of replacing oil. You can invest as many billions in that as you like and it won't change things.

Alternative energy is not a "moon program" or a "manhattan project" where we can provide a low-scale solution at whatever price we want. It's a highly elastic commodity industry that actually has to be only slightly more expensive than the energy sources it's replacing.

Nuclear is the only mature technology that can be brought online in the next ten years. Yes, it's about twice as expensive as a gas-fired plant. But a big chunk of that extra expense is to defray perceived risk, not because it's that much more expensive in capital or operational expenditures.

Governments are real good at assuming and defraying risk, and could therefore significantly reduce the cost of nukes. Governments suck at producing marketable technologies. Please note that I am not saying that government doesn't have a big role to play in green technology research. But it cannot bring these technologies to market, and if you think this just happens overnight without a delivery model, you're dreaming.

If your goal is to cut dependence on foreign oil by more than half while minimizing CO2 emissions, there's only one technology that's going to get you there pretty quickly.

Kelsey Gower said...

@ Markbnj,

So, your only solution is to tax the larger cars and use the money to develop more energy-efficient cars. There's no incentive there to get a car that gets above 25 mpg, and it won't improve the average gas mileage of the country significantly.

No, if you really want people to use less gas, you,

#1. make every car that gets above 50 mpg (or its equivalent) completely tax-free (and the first 100 gallons of gas, or its equivalent, for that car will also be tax-free). The average American will start demanding more efficient cars, especially alternate fuels.

#2. Scrap the damn gas-guzzlers entirely. Your taxes may take the hummers off the road, but they'll just be lying around not doing anything in garages or used car marts. Completely useless. Give a 3000$ tax break for every 20 mpg or under car you take to the scrap yard. We'll build the next generation of green cars from recycled hummers.

And #3. That single lane for carpools on certain highways? Make that 4 lanes for carpoolers, and one lane for people who commute to work alone. (Exceptions could be made for delivery vehicles. They don't really become more efficient with 2 or more people in the car)

It's not really that hard to make Americans use less gas when driving. Just give some incentives, that's all.

David Brin said...

Actually, I have a very limited set of complaints about Hillary, none of them substantial enough to keep me from working my tail off for her, if she becomes the Democratic nominee. I will. My tail. Off. If she’s the nominee of the Enlightenment against Feudalism.

Nevertheless. Let’s list pluses and minuses.

ON THE MINUS SIDE

1 – If she’s nominated and/or elected, we will suffer Culture War at its full and unprecedented fury. Like Lincoln, sending conciliatory telegrams even as his train approached Washington, she will struggle to avoid Civil War Act III… by appointing many decent conservatives to high posts and promoting from within the Civil Service and offering grand “consensus-building” conferences…

…and it will do no good at all. You can expect homegrown terror and violence from the same people who could not swallow Bill and hate her 10X worse. By the time 2012 rolls around, the nation will be ready for the Mayan Yuga… and the rise of Nehemia Scudder.

2 – She’s a Senator. And a calamity for that reason alone. Only one candidate has moved directly from the Senate to the White House in 100 years, and one could argue that JFK deserved to win as much as George W Bush did in 2000. (Please. I say provocative things. JFK was a mixed bag, but a far better man. Still… Chicago.)

Why, oh why, with the nation and civilization at stake, should we take a chance trying to break a trend like that? Especially when we have at hand a governor who the right would never dare to insult, for fear of alienating the fastest growing demographic in America…

3 – Hillary brought us the neocon age!

Yes, the pot was already simmering to a boil, Culture War was stewing and the plans wrought at the Heritage Foundation were ready for unleashing. Still, one of the chief reasons Newt Gingrich was able to trounce the dems in 94 and take over both houses of Congress was public reaction to the politically mismanaged Health Care Bill that Hillary was principally responsible for.

Yes, much of the propaganda against it was totally manipulative and unfair. From a policy wonk’s perspective, the bill wasn’t even that bad and had some very clever traits. But as a politician, she simply should have known and understood America better than that! If she had said “Let’s start incrementally and insure all the children first,” no one would have dared to fight hard against her! American psyches tend to be far more “socialistic” toward the helpless, especially children, while retaining a cowboy mentality toward adults.)

Sure it’s unfair to “blame Hillary” for the Neocon Revolution. But there it is. Trigger and bullet.

ON THE PLUS SIDE

1 – She’s one of the smartest people in America.

2 – She really wants us to move forward as a diverse, eclectic, modern, rich and yet responsible nation, a beacon to the world, defeating our civilization’s foes the best way – the way we won the Cold War – by setting an example.

3 – She knows everybody and can rebuild the spirit of competence we saw under Clinton-Gore, relying heavily on the skilled professionals of the Civil Service and the US Officer Corps. Secrecy will plummet, accountability will skyrocket. An open government will apply the rules that made Clinton I the least corrupt and most efficient federal administration in US history.

4 – She’ll have one heckuva First Advisor, who will scurry everywhere rebuilding friendships that the Cheneykleps have trashed. He can charm anybody (evidence, he “took away” W’s dad!) I can’t wait to see him unleashed on the Middle East.

A FINAL, DECIDING NEGATIVE

Is NOBODY out there embarrassed by the “dynasty effect”? It’s one thing for the Republicans to do it, amid their drive for an inherited aristocracy. But the dems? Please. We really don’t need to be ridiculed over the dynastic name thing.


Back to the “Manchurian” scenario

Kelsey, if my nightmare scenario is true, then it’s a lot more than blackmailing some guys over a few pictures of them with a donkey, on some prince’s yacht. It is a systematic thing that includes a relentless effort to cow the top four or five layers of our civil service, law enforcement and officer corps. Only a few at the top need be totally in on it. Nevertheless, the thoroughness has been really awe-inspiring.

Both the weakest part of the nightmare scenario… and its scariest… is the fact that our professional counter-intelligence agents know very well about this process I’ve been describing, one that is called “subornation” of a nation’s elite. It has been used relentlessly throughout history. In fact, half of Rome’s conquests were achieved this way! We’ve seen it tried many times during the Cold War, including the notoriously destructive spies - Hanssen, Aldrich Ames, the Walkers, and those US Embassy Marine guards. (Interestingly 100% Republicans, straight on down the line.)

So why no sensitivity to this possibility, regarding a group whose declared ideology is even more anti-Western than Communism, that has unlimited resources, countless episodes of “unsupervised control” over top American figures, and hires many of them blatantly, openly, as soon as they leave office?

Indeed, is it a weakness of my scenario, that it should be so obvious to the professionals? So obvious that, really, we can assume they have already investigated thoroughly, by now?

Just because I don’t see even the slimmest sign of such an awareness, that does not mean our counter-intelligence agents haven’t quietly done their jobs, correlating and sifting and looking for patterns. I pray, in fact, that they have… and that their diligence has proved my dark suspicions to be wrong.

But even the blatant and openly public patterns sure do look damning. Making one worry about the opposite possibility. That the very first targets of subornation might be the centers of expertise that are charged to watch for such things!

Take the layers of political hacks that have been appointed to ride herd on our professionals, to cow and intimidate and browbeat and frighten the prosecutors, the FBI agents, the military men and women… and, yes, the counter-intelligence guys.

“Go after Islammofascist terrorists! But NOT the rich ones!!!”
Not the ones pulling strings and promising the political hacks rich consultancies.

You can see why I keep returning to the pros. Which is ironic since I am also chief promoter of the “Age of Amateurs”! But for right now, this moment, I see the professionals as our only real hope. If they find their guts. If they remember their duty. If they start standing up for civilization, for their nation, for us.

And that, folks, is why I am in no hurry to wage “culture war.” Or join a premature and silly/useless screech for impeachment. Falling into yet another Rovean trap. There are bigger matters afoot.

Markbnj said...

Dr Brin (and fell0ws)

1) with regard to fuel/stuff
a) I noticed that the "jerks" from detroit (what else could we call these self-centered, id10ts? Not businessmen, not forward looking.

And they were testifying before congress complaining that they aren't the cause of the problem.
BS.

When I can get a tesla (currently 100K) for 30K, we'll know we're close to the solution.

With regard to nuc-le-uar option, I think that the China syndrome
is a lot closer then three mile island, the plant in Georgia that may re-open, and chernobyl.

It still makes me cringe, just like if a smart hijacker had taken one of the four planes into THE POWER plant less then 25 miles from NYC, that would have Blasted MoST of the city/state and NJ into "dead-land"

OK, so I am old enough to remember Faye Dunnaway as a young thing. (heh).

The fact that the folken in Detroit realize that they are only PARTIALLY guilty, is quite telling

And did you hear? good old Honda discontinued the Accord Hybrid.
it doesnt do enough gas milage, and since it's a v6 its not economical enough. See here for a link about fuel economy

I agree we have very little to do.
I
I think that gas at $100/per barrel? is still realistic, and possible (Although I admit I may have been off by a year--2008 maybe).

I think gas going higher and higher will HELP destroy any thoughts that Detroit still has on SUV's and Hummers... Although I do agree that your suggestion of junking anything under 20mpg, and free taxes for over 35mpg is a start.

thanks again!

TheRadicalModerate said...

David--

I wonder if what you're terming the "culture war" isn't merely the result of dramatically improved communications and management productivity:

1) The web makes it vastly simpler to mine data on multiple tiers of the bureaucratic hierarchy, looking for "nails that stick up."

2) Productivity software allows a single Arbiter of Administrative Purity to do the work that would have required ten people ten years ago. This means one person can purge and/or discredit more people faster.

3) Marketing segmentation and differentiation is orders of magnitude more sophisticated and accurate than it was ten years ago. Feeding undesirables to the interest group most likely to destroy them constitutes a powerful form of outsourcing.

4) Mass-mailing of daily talking points to the political flaks for a particular interest group stifles diversity of opinion. Any idea that's floated that an interest group even slightly disapproves of gets blown out of the water early.

5) The sad fact is that media shout-downs and a variety of other phenomena have so dumbed down discourse that "warfare" now substitutes for "debate."

When you add up the effects of all of these contributing factors, you may discover that the culture war is merely a more efficient version of politics as usual. This hypothesis can be falsified if the dems win in '08 and don't purge for ideological purity, or if the GOP wins and takes steps to restore the bureaucracy.

Enterik said...

DavidBrin...

We can disagree on the sentiments that underly westward progress during the cold war. I suppose it would comforting to think it was our feel good meme and not the nefarious geopolitics of our partners in crime...The House of Saud (who helped to keep the price of oil down AND bait the USSR into Afghanistan). In fact, I do think it was both factors.

As for your further questions, I do have ancillary responses, most of which fall into the category of furthering the genral goals of an "oligarchical" meme, wherein the wealthy extract what value they can, now, as they go along. It is the classic defector phenotype.

Now maybe the Administration et.al. are merely Manchurians for the meme, whose decisions, while destructive for the overwhelming majority, are none the less rational.

If you have entertained a different candidate "Angela Lansbury" I would be interested to hear...

Brohter Doug said...

This is getting interesting. But Brin if you think others will take up this idea and flesh it out you may have to wait 20 years. Go for it now! So it sets you up as a straw man, some of the worlds most effective social innovators suffered in the same way. You are a good writer and I don’t see anyone else of your caliber and renown who is willing to talk about it. If things get too bad just say that it was all done for publicity for your next novel and the neo-cons will forgive you for being such a diligent free marketer.

I don’t believe in a Manchurian candidate but you have opened my eyes that Bush is getting exactly what he wants. That his buddies in Halliburton, Backwater, SCIC, Cubic, and numerous other for profit military contractors get fabulous profits and a private army beholden only to the fundamentalist elite. While his oil connections get double the pre war profits. Actually oil has been flowing in Iraq but the American Military became the worlds largest consumer of fuel thanks to the war thus there is still a shortage and high prices/profits.

Also you should read the article I mentioned earlier on Corruption in America. It has some ideas similar to what you have been saying.

http://www.quaker.org/tqe/2007/TQE157-EN-Corruption.html

Jumper said...

If you knew for dead sure that the US was going to tank, could you make money leveraging your knowledge?

ErnieG said...

Top reason not to vote for a candidate:

The belief that a top down authoritarian solution will work.

Examine the programs that candidates endorse and see who want to tell us how to live our lives.

This belief precludes any other solution that might be tried.

The other handmaiden of this approach is that pragmatism ( discarding "solutions" that do not work keeping ones that work) is trumped by the Iron Law of Bureaucracy.
Bureaucracy wants to survive and grow.

Most of the candidates believe in government authority and "know" what is best for you.

They are centralizers, federalists, statists.

They against the idea that the people know what they want. That the people can be trusted.

Pragmatically on average central government programs do not produce the results originally wanted. So instead of scrapping the program the error is compounded by trying to fix it. The underlying assumptions on how the method is supposed to work are never examined, and the assumptions on what is a desired result are never examined.

But most important the justification in law, the constitution is never examined or even debated.

Tony Fisk said...

It is indeed interesting that you say most people you mention your 'Manchurian' scenario just don't comprehend it. Personally, I find it quite straightforward (regardless of what the real situation is)

You state that you have spoken/presented to members of various intelligence agencies, who should be very familiar with 'subornation'. Have you mentioned your hypothesis to them? Do they have the same reaction?

I don't know how far your thinking's progressed on this, but here are a couple of possible reasons why it might be so:

1. misunderstanding: they think you're being serious, not just presenting a hypothesis.

2. innoculation: we are so used to paranoid fantasies as entertainment, that we have come to regard any such proposition as fictional. So how can such a theory (from a writer of sf, yet!) be taken seriously?

3. The 'God Bless America' effect: as a nation you do a lot of flag waving and utter lots of propagandic bruhaha about 'truth, justice etc.' Having stoked yourselves up as the greatest good in the world, it would come as a bit of a shock to find that maybe you aren't.

4. Occam's lazy razor: accept the simplest explanation that fits *most* of the facts. So, things like a perfect zero score on foreign policy is a bit nit-picky, they're just plain dumb. (As I mentioned earlier, that's probably what Mad King George is there to be)

5. Mental laziness: people don't like changing their mind. Once they've formed an opinion or committed to a behavioural model, they'll stick to it, and defend it.

6. Indignation induced double think (see also point 3) strawman eg America good... GOP is America... ergo GOP good... man say GOP leaders not good... GOP leaders represent GOP... GOP not good... GOP is America... America not good... unnnhhh????

----

What are these classified textbooks that you know about but independent journalists apparently do not?

(a recent incident involving the King Khalid university in London tends to support this, BTW)

David Brin said...

RM culture war is anything BUT what you describe... or rather, trivialize. While I do not think it is purely left-vs-right, and I indeed despise the “left-right axis”, and indeed I believe there are many enemies of the Enlightenment also on the self-described “left...

...nevertheless, this is about a lot more than the technological debasement of debate. Frankly, at that level, I think things are far BETTER than the 60s, 70s, 80s... though dismal compared to what’s possible & needed.

No, this is about a concerted campaign against the Enlightenment. Against science, tolerance, professionalism, amateurism, social mobility, transparency, accountability and so on. To not recognize that it is that serious, that vile, is total ostrichdom.

Jumper, you forget something. Others who had great plans to topple the US were rudely awakened to the fact that Americans are more resilient that enemies assume. Just because the puppetmasters are clever, that does not make them smart. I’d hedge that bet, if I were you.

Ernie, you make nice libertarian rant. And it is nonsense. Sorry. Clinton & Gore reduced the size, manpower, cost and waste of the non-defense federal staff, for the first time since WWII, while reducing secrecy and enhancing both efficiency and honesty.

Your cynicism is satisfying, I am sure. But the facts show that people who believe in BOTH “left and right handed” problem solving tools are capable of wanting both hands to be effective. Freemarket solutions are best, of course.

But pragmatic people recognize how puerile it is to scream at “government” when there are wide swathes of problems that enterprise avoids. Nostrums about “iron laws” are only warnings, not laws of nature.

See my old "libertarian article" at:
http://www.davidbrin.com/libertarianarticle1.html

or a newer four-parter at:
reformtheLP.org

Don Quijote said...

Culture War example:

The Ballad of Ake Green

With the Senate considering new hate crimes legislation that adds sexual orientation to the list of protective categories, bloggers have been noting the acceleration of a right-wing disinformation campaign that I first noticed on election day in 2004. I was listening to Christian radio flush out Republicans to the polls. I learned, as I wrote then, that

a certain bill Senator Edward M. Kennedy wishes to pass, with the intention of providing federal penalties to thugs who beat up people for reasons of sexual orientation, is actually an opening wedge to anti-Christian pogroms. Dobson and his cohorts have been railing that is not just a step but a giant leap down the same slippery slope that found a Swedish minister named Ake Green sentenced to prison for preaching against homosexuality from his pulpit.


The Ballad of Ake Green: An E. coli conservatism postscript

It's easy to imagine - in fact, likely - that this strategy was originally hatched far from any house of worship. Say in the house of Grover Norquist, or perhaps Karl Rove (who, reportedly, is an atheist). Or maybe some wood-paneled conference room deep within those moral dungeons the U.S. Chamber of Commerce or the National Association of Manufacturers. In this scenario the ministers are merely the punks.

...

Recognizing sexual orientation in a hate crimes bill is the camel's nose under the tent. How long, these economic royalists would have to wonder, before sexual orientation became recognized in employment discrimination law too? It's easy to forget - most Americans don't know it in the first place - that, rare among industrial nations, American employers can "fire at will": can get rid of an employee for any reason, or no reason at all. One of the rare exceptions - one of the few tenuous toeholds on fairness that Americans enjoy in the workplace - is that under the 1964 Civil Rights Act (as amended) and laws like the Americans with Disabilities Act, firing someone for reason of race, gender, religion, age, disability, or military status is illegal.


And the "culture war" goes on...

Corporate America using Religion & Propaganda to manipulate people into acting against their self-interest.

TheRadicalModerate said...

David--

First, let me emphasize that I'm not denying that the symptoms of what you call "culture war" are real and constitute a grave threat. However, I think you've misdiagnosed the underlying cause. You can certainly palliate the symptoms through a large amount of shouting and eternal vigilance (i.e. the good ol' fashioned way), but examination of the root causes may shed light on a way to fight smart rather than fighting hard.

First, note that all of the antecedents of the culture war must be latent in society from way back. Any other assumption requires a huge number (hundreds of thousands) of 4-sigma, intelligent, genuinely evil people. This is statistically unlikely.

So what's changed, if the underlying attitudes haven't changed? I assert it's the modern tools of public life that have super-empowered a slim plurality of society so that they can execute an agenda that they genuinely believe is good for the nation. Prior to the advent of such extreme communication productivity, they simply couldn't organize and promote their message effectively enough. Now they can.

Let's go through your list of things being attacked:

Science
The tendency has been around forever. For example, the US has always been at least 40-70% creationist. We've always been rife with pollution-deniers, biology-deniers, physics-deniers--you name it, a large segment will hate it. However, science got promoted anyway because it was cogent and organized, while its opponents hadn't a clue how to argue their case (mostly because they were profoundly ignorant of the issues they hated). No longer true--a small number of cogent talking points can be rapidly disseminated to apply as much pressure as needed to influence policy.

Tolerance
You've misdiagnosed this one. Tolerance hasn't diminished and isn't being attacked. What's happening is self-selection. Groups of people can refine their criteria for association as much as they'd like. This generates more virulent special-interest groups, which in turn makes the inter-group mudslinging more pronounced.

Professionalism
I covered this one in the previous post. Every administration in the history of the nation has wanted the ability to purge the people who were going to go off-message. However, prior to efficient communications, the off-message people didn't have a forum, and the administration didn't have a way of tracking them. Now you get low-level bureaucrats that can wield huge power by leaking, either on- or off-record. But the administration can identify the source, mine their databases for a semi-suitable replacement, and effect the replacement with a minimum of fuss and muss. Automated patronage is a big deal.

Amateurism
Not happening. Amateurs get co-opted at every level of public life. What has changed is that the amateur has equal access to the talking points, which makes them conform to the strictures of whatever group they're associating with, and therefore appear more faceless.

Social Mobility
Well, I don't have a good answer for this one. But I do have two partial answers. First, self-organized criticality produces a population with a power law distribution, which means that, as the economy grows, you're going to get individuals with historically unprecedented levels of personal wealth and power, while the head of the curve remains virtually unchanged. Second, the information economy really has forced a very steep educational cutoff, below which you simply can't thrive. This problem is as amenable to policy fixes as any other educational problem, i.e., not very.

Transparency, Accountability
Come on, do you really think there's a sizeable amount of stuff that this administration is doing that we don't know about? You of all people know that all of the powerful crave opacity, but the system for finding stuff out hasn't been seriously degraded. Yes, I know that Bushco has reclassified a bunch of stuff. So what? First, with a high operational tempo, there are legitimate operational reasons for some things being secret. Second, some of the reclassification resulted from discovering things that shouldn't have been declassified in the first place.

I know you're going to argue with me on this. But if transparency and accountability weren't working well, the Democrats wouldn't be in charge of the legislature. You still can't keep substantive things secret for very long.

The more important question is, does the amount of transparent information actually improve public policy? Here, there's a problem with information overload. When there's too much stuff, the layman is going to fall back on oversimplified explanations and solutions.

Again, I'm not denying the problem, nor am I trying to explain it away! But I am looking for the real, underlying explanations. Your "war on culture" is a symptom, not a cause. Unless we deal with the underlying causes, we can't produce a stable system that delivers diverse but high-quality information to the electorate, and we'll wind up with a modern-day Tower of Babel.

---------------

Finally: "Ostrichdom?" That would be "a land of ostriches", when what you really want is, "the state of being an ostrich." I believe that would be "ostrichitude."

TheRadicalModerate said...

Hope you all saw this report on a stem cell technology breakthrough, and this one, too.

So, just because I'm being exceptionally contrary today, here's a question: Do you all think that we would have discovered the set of proteins necessary to reset a differentiated cell back to an embryonic form as quickly as we did if there hadn't been a US ban on embryonic stem cell research?

Yeah, I know it's a Japanese group that made the breakthrough. But it certainly leverages a lot of US research from the last few years. Also, just for the record, I thought the ESC ban was idiotic. But sometimes the law of unintended consequences actually works in your favor.

David Brin said...

Astonishing. RM, are you from a family of circus contortionists. I haven't time to answer all that pile of rationalization, except to say that the Bush popularity nosedive is based upon just the very tip of the iceberg.

Brother Doug said...

O come on Radical Moderate, that is just silly.

look at this that someone emailed to me today.

http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/060607H.shtml

When you see a story like this on the nightly news or the front page of a major paper, backed up with facts and figures then you might be able to argue that we have a transparent society that works well.

Also I used to have a security clearance and 90% of the items I encountered should have never been classified. As Chalmers Johnson has said if you really want to keep a secret you just hold the information close to you. The whole state secret process is about protecting power.

ErnieG said...

I am for the rule of law and restoring the republic by reading the constitution rather than interpreting it. It is in

english not french or kurdish.
I am for personal liberty and being a citizen not being a subject of Imperial America.
I am against the tyrant in the executive office. A tyrant being a ruler with absolute power and no legitimate

basis for his power. See recent presidential directives on how the executive can declare an emergency and who

has the power in the emergency.

My point about how to choose which candidate for president is this:
Distrust any one who advocates more government.
Distrust any one whose first idea is a new law, or a new program.
Trust someone whose first response is how do we protect liberty.
Distrust someone who wants to add more government control over us as a first response.
Trust someone who asks if this law or program is constitutional.
Distrust anyone who does not ask "How will we pay for this?" "How much will it cost?"

David are you saying that we should not at least periodically examine the efficiency and efficacy of all

programs? I thought you were for more power and independance to Inspector Generals.
This is a true pragmatic view. Go with what works for the lowest cost, the most bang for the bucks. No Bang No

Bucks.

David are you saying that legislation by any branch of government should not be examined for effect

on our liberties? Maybe we need Ombudsmen Generals to ask if it is constitutional.

The US Government is headed for bankruptcy. Just look up the comptroller of the US, head of the GAO, David

Walker. The closest thing we have to a quality control department for government.

We have unfunded obligations of 46.4 trillion dollars today (present worth). This means to pay future

obligations we would have to put 46.4 trillion dollars today into an investment at current US treasury security

interest rates to get the money (future worth) to pay those future obligations.

I am not against all things the government does, I just want a debate whether the government should even be

doing it in the first place. The question should at least be asked first. It should not be assumed government

first.

David Brin said...

Will someone explain to Ernie what a non-sequitur the following is?

"David are you saying that we should not at least periodically examine the efficiency and efficacy of all
programs? I thought you were for more power and independance to Inspector Generals."


Uh... is not that EXACTLY what I was talking about, above? Moreover, just because Clinton DID ALL THAT... and was given no credit for it by libertarians or republicans, whatsoever... that does not mean the Livertarian inside me does not yearn for more!

While I am the biggest defenders of our government professionals against the bloody, super-empowered monsters who have been waging war against professionalism for 6 years...

...I am ALSO the chief promoter of the "age of amateurs"... hoping to see an era when UNDER- empowered amateurs (the rest of us) take on more and more of society's functions. The withering away of the state is an end goal that we share.

But, unless you have read the four parter I wrote for www.reformtheLP.org, you really aren't ready to discuss this. There are too many concepts there that are new to most libertarians.

The crux. Reflex hatred of government is simply, simply the stupidest VERSION of libertarianism imaginable. It is supposed to be about loving freedom! And only by turning from hate to love can you start to see how government can be WARILY used as a TOOL for helping us migrate from the implicit toward the explicit social contract.

The implicity what? If you just said that, then you need to study, even if you wind up disagreeing. They are concepts worthy of knowing, even if you wind up hating them...

...or even proving them wrong.

conspiracy net said...

If David is right, my pet theory is that the cabal behind all this are neonazis who are out for revenge against the victors of World War II. The problem is that this is one of those theories that explains everything, but for which there is zero direct evidence.

You may also want to check out the "vaccines" the military is forcing on its servicemembers.

However, a more likely explanation is that the American elite is made up of very selfish and stupid people, sort of a group of Commoduses. This is consistent with what happened in other empires.

Anonymous said...

I'm surprised that no-one here has condisred the possibility outlined below (I'm also surprised at where it turned up).

http://amconmag.com/2007/2007_04_09/article.html

- Lars

Doug S. said...

ROFLMAO!

Bush and company from a parallel universe? Yes, that makes sense. ;)

greenup said...

I found your post huge and wandering, so I'll clip what I thought were your main points, try to make it even shorter yet, then do some wandering of my own.

Brin:
We keep on trying to explain Bushite behavior by adding epicycles of stupidity, graft, dogmatism and insanity.
...
Because, even though I believe that the Cheneykleps ARE stupid, venial, fanatical and insane, I also know that such people would have, by now, at least by sheer accident, have done ONE thing right! Complete morons would have stumbled into one successful policy, simply by random chance.
...
Their perfect record of mismanagement and destruction of US influence, popularity, power, wealth, cohesion, strength and so on ought to be suspicious!
...
Oh, I could go on, but here's the chief point. Stupidity, venality, dogmatism and insanity are insufficient to explain why a leadership clade would deliberately destroy the nation and system they are sworn to defend... and where they keep their money.
...

I think you are trying to say
"(Bush / his drivers) MUST be malicious or being blackmailed, because mere stupidity probabilistically will result in occasional successes"

When you define the "successes" and "failures" after the fact, it's easier to select items that fulfill the requirements. Generic unmeasurables like "destroyed the pax Americana" also fit with fortune-teller tools of the trade.

Personally, while I feel that your argument is a possibility, it still seems less likely than straight stupidity.

Even straight stupidity is something like a subset of your proposal. If someone who hates America is deviously smart, (we'll call them "the terrorists") they may be able to construct convincing arguments that would cause someone stupid to behave like a tool. For instance, if the terrorists wanted to make Americans look like belligerent imperialists, they might suggest to Bush or his advisors "that a 'strong presidency' is a good thing for America", (suggested by woozle) which would reinforce thoughts that Bush already had, and cause him to act out in the desired way. For prime effectiveness, it would be handy if the terrorists had an "in" with the cabinet/cabal, but I don't think it be essential, so long as the topics were chosen properly so as to align with some kernel of what they already wanted to do or believe.

As for Bush himself, my wife has said "It is good to know when you are not an expert in a topic, He listens to his advisers." Hoping for the moment that she is only talking about Bush, I would say that externally, this makes it seem that he's a puppet on strings.

Another factor is the quaint (horrible) quote "the terrorists have won". They have. Democracy doesn't have a defense against terrorism. (I could go on about how much the government/administration likes to use it... ) If a politician grows a spine and tells a terrorist "No", it causes pain that the voters feel, and they kick him out. If the first guy doesn't get the message, the next one voted in will. I'm afraid I have a disillusioned perspective of the voting populace, but I think that they are frequently too stupid to recognize "enlightened self-interest", or the value of long term planning. It all comes down to the lowest common denominator.

As it turns out, after setting the ball in motion, "the terrorists" didn't really have to do much else, we took care of it for them. They didn't really want to be "all men created equal", they want to be "the special ones of Allah", and being a persecuted underdog is a great way to maintain your religious identity and rally the troops. Much better than having them drift slowly away, experimenting with free thinking and materialism. If that isn't enough reason to provoke American imperialism, there's always the premise of the book "The Mouse that Roared": "We declare war on Monday, are vanquished Tuesday, and rehabilitated beyond our wildest dreams by Friday night."

Adding another random thought to this random list, "To a man with a hammer, everything begins to look like a nail." It can be true with CEOs and downsizing/outsourcing, and it can be true of National leaders and wars. Maybe war is the only thing Bush has got in him, and he just doesn't know how to adequately handle domestic problems. (not that this is a great foreign solution, but... Hammer!! YES! Look at all the POUNDABLE THINGS!!!)

To conclude, a summary of my perspectives:
1. Listening to sufficiently bad (evil-inspired) advice may produce worse results than stupidity

2. The terrorists have won. (And our leaders thought it was such a great idea they'd do it too.)

3. The Hammer. One tool for all purposes.

Bonus: Maybe Bush just doesn't REALLY care about the same things we do, but will do ANYTHING IN HIS POWER to keep everyone focused on international affairs, so they can't discover that someone (probably one of his cronies) has been disposing of dihydrogen monoxide in our water systems.

greenup said...

Whups; I just noticed, one element of my previous comment could be read to mean "woozle is a terrorist". Not what I had in mind. I meant more along the lines of: "woozle had a good example of an idea that might have been planted by a terrorist".