Do The Freakin Math

Liberals and conservatives alike frequently rely on limited evidence, personal experience, religious beliefs or gut emotions to determine solutions for complex problems. From immigration to global warming - taxes to terrorism - or health care to free trade - analytical study is rare. Science based policy making isn’t the way of Washington. And the consequences are catastrophic. Change is urgently needed. Just do the freakin’ math.

Monday, December 17, 2007

All people are created equal - sometimes?

Dear Editor,

William Hawkins belief that our “enemies” are not “our equals” is lethally flawed. (Dec 17, 2007. Treating enemies as equals)

First, waging war against “terrorists” ensures that many innocent people will be killed. Such collateral damage is accepted by Hawkins because he and others like him believe that American lives are worth more than foreigners and that ‘rights’ are not a function of being human, but instead a function of government generosity.

Perhaps, Mr Hawkins should review the premise of our nation’s founding document the Declaration of Independence. Any rational reading will find that ‘rights’ are not a blessing provided by government decision, but are instead inalienable gifts of God (or natural rights) that belong to all people regardless of race, religion, age, sexual orientation, nationality or political belief. And the primary function of any legitimate government is to protect those rights with due process that doesn’t sacrifice the lives of others who may not be seen as some as being worthy of such rights.

For Hawkins it doesn’t seem to be a problem that somewhere between 60,000 and 600,000 innocent Iraqi’s have been killed as a direct result of the Bush Administration’s decision to invade and occupy Iraq. Most American’s rightfully feel horrified by the loss of nearly 4000 US soldiers but demonstrate little compassion or concern for the dead Iraqis. I’m fairly certain that is NOT how the loved ones of the Iraqi dead, wounded or displaced feel. And that other’s watching from afar see such American self centeredness/selfishness as antithetical to our own ideals.

If they had seen early on that American soldiers were willing to die to protect innocent Iraqi’s instead of intimidating them with ‘shock and awe’ warfare we may have ended up with far more friends, less enemies and far fewer US casualties in the long run.

Only by demonstrating far greater concern for the “well being” of those who may look like our enemies will we be able to mobilize the hearts and minds and the intelligence sources needed to defeat our true enemies – those who show no regard for the loss of innocent lives.

Showing disregard for Iraqi lives (not even know how many have been killed or wounded) plays into Osama Bin Ladin’s global propaganda machine. Captured Al Qauda admitted that the pictures from Abu Grabe prison were their best recruiting tools.

While techniques such as "waterboarding" provided intelligence that "probably saved lives" there is little doubt in my mind that conducting and justifying such torture to protect American lives will only end up costing far more American lives on the battle field -- and at home -- in the long run.

Either we stand for the basic principle that all people are created equal or, we are only slightly better than the mass murderers we wage war against. Standing on such noble principles may cost some lives up front but such is the price of real freedom and remaining a truly great nation.

Any ideology that favors the survival of one people over another is not only un-American, unethical and unchristian…it is the clearest prescription for our ultimate defeat.

Article published Dec 17, 2007
Treating enemies as equals

December 17, 2007

By William Hawkins - The most consistent theme running through liberal-left opinion since September 11, 2001, has been concern for the well-being of the enemy. The latest example is the contrived scandal over the CIA destroying tapes of interrogations of two captured terrorists.

The first instinct of responsible members of Congress is to fulfill their duty to protect Americans from attack. Now they are pushed by ideological zealots to not only accord foreign adversaries "rights" that will protect them from effective U.S. counteraction but to harass their countrymen on the front lines in this deadly conflict.

Joby Warrick and Dan Eggen reported in The Washington Post on a secret congressional briefing given by the CIA in September 2002: "For more than an hour, the bipartisan group, which included current House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, was given a virtual tour of the CIA's overseas detention sites and the harsh techniques interrogators had devised to try to make their prisoners talk ... on that day, no objections were raised. Instead, at least two lawmakers in the room asked the CIA to push harder."

The same two reporters interviewed former CIA officer, John Kiriakou in regard to Zayn abu Zubaida, a top-ranking al Qaeda prisoner. Abu Zubaida's interrogation tape was one of those destroyed. Mr. Kiriakou argued that the harsh technique of "waterboarding" used to break abu Zubaida provided intelligence that "probably saved lives." Information gained led to the capture of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, mastermind of the September 11 attacks.

The other destroyed tape was of Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, who planned the 2000 attack on the USS Cole, which killed 17 U.S. sailors. Unlike their victims, both abu Zubaida and al-Nashiri survived their ordeals and are held at Guantanamo Bay. Within the liberal-left ideology, however, it is not the terrorists who are to be condemned, but those who are fighting them. "For what reason would the CIA destroy these videotapes other than to cover up criminal acts committed during the brutal interrogations depicted on these tapes?" asks Caroline Fredrickson, of the American Civil Liberties Union.

At the core of this perverse outlook is the principle of equality, taken to an extreme. The ACLU says it "works to ensure that the U.S. government complies with universal human-rights principles in addition to the U.S. Constitution." In his infamous 2005 rant comparing FBI interrogators to the Nazis, Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin complained they had "no concern for human beings."

So everyone is to be accorded equal treatment simply because they meet the lowest common denominator of being "human." This is the notion in play when presidential candidates say they would not authorize "torture" of a foreign terrorist even if it meant saving American lives. The well-being of the terrorist is no less precious than the lives of Americans, because all are equally human, part of a single extended family descending from some common origin.

Indeed, the entire concept of an adversarial "us and them" is to be rejected. Adversaries are just people whom we have not taken the time to understand. Common ground can be found by dialogue, and a fair settlement on the basis of mutual respect. That the purpose of war is to "compel the enemy to do our will" is distasteful to liberals.

Nothing could be more fundamentally wrong as a basis for dealing with the real world. A distinction must be made between "what" we are and "who" we are. "What" is nothing more than a crude, amoral description. It is "who" a person is that matters. How one acts and to where one owes their allegiance are crucial distinguishing characteristics. An unwillingness to differentiate between friend and foe is a fatal handicap in making national policy.

The failure of liberalism to make necessary distinctions is seen across the whole spectrum of issues, not just the stark "us" versus "them" of global warfare. Liberals have a longstanding reputation for being "soft on crime." The victims of crime fade from view and the criminals become the focus of benevolent concern. The inability of liberals to deal harshly with terrorists is an extension of their inability to deal harshly with felons. Capital punishment is called inhumane because even serial killers are considered people just like the rest of "us."

The effort to blur distinctions is explicit in the debate over immigration, as terms like "undocumented resident" are substituted for "illegal alien." It is also embodied in trade policy, where Americans are not to be favored over foreigners in U.S. economic policy (national treatment), nor allies favored over enemies (normal trade relations). Why should citizens feel any loyalty to a government that by doctrine rejects expressing any loyalty to them?

An ideology more at odds with common sense and experience is hard to conceive. And in the real world where ruthless adversaries abound, modern liberalism is a prescription for defeat.

William Hawkins is senior fellow for national security studies at the U..S Business and Industry Council.

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Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Hunger and HIV/AIDS:

On AIDS Day this December 1st we heard both good news and bad. AIDS infections were fewer than originally predicted but our global effort to develop an HIV/AIDS vaccine had failed -- again. What we didn’t hear was any news about the link between hunger and this perfectly murderous RNA based virus -- HIV. That’s a shame. Because the links between hunger and HIV/AIDS are profound.

The latest scientific thinking (conspiracy theories excluded) pegs the HIV virus originating in the primates of Africa and moving into the Human population sometime in the early to late 1940s. Then, for nearly 40 years it was ignored as it migrated down the Kinshasa Hi-way and traveled effortlessly to all four corners of our remarkably interconnected world. No one spotted it because those who fell victim appeared to be dying from hunger. Their deaths were attributed to the so called “Slims disease”. Skinny Africans dying from some ‘hunger’ disease simply didn’t draw much attention. Recently, an evolutionary biologist was able to trace our first domestic AIDS infections back to the early 1970s from a single Haitian entering the US though Miami. Few then were interested in the living conditions in Haiti. It wasn’t until the early 1980’s in the San Francisco ‘gay’ bath houses that HIV became painfully obvious to the American people. And, even then, it was only of interest to those who had special interests in medicine or sexual deviancy. Few people or policy makers consider what our world would be like today if we had been more interested in those African people dying of hunger decades earlier. Or, the health concerns of Haitians who inhabit the most impoverished and destitute place in our Hemisphere.

I learned of the terror of HIV/AIDS early and up close. My wife Laura and I were living in the San Francisco Bay area working for the Hunger Project and expecting our first child. Tauna’s birth in a San Francisco hospital in November of 1983 was the happiest day of my life. Months later that event was the source of the most frightening day of our lives. Laura had received a blood transfusion during the birthing process. Suddenly our survival was linked to the lives of the poorest people in the most remotest rainforest in Africa. My wife was far luckier than the women who became prostitutes in hopes of earning enough to feed their children. Their work helped speed the virus down every African road that any infected truck driver would take. And, those infected led all the way to the Bay Area.

Today, while most are concerned about Al Qaeda or global warming, one of the most evil and devastating alliances continues to expand. It is estimated that one out of every three people who die of HIV/AIDS actually die from TB. The compromised immune system is no match for even a weak strain of TB, never mind the drug resistant, multi-drug resistant and extremely drug resistant strains of TB that we have among us today… mostly in the poorest populations but also now making its début even in the upper classes. And too few seem to care that TB spreads easiest in immune systems compromised by malnutrition. We have cheap drugs that can fight the regular forms of TB believed to be in one out of every three people in the world. But good nutrition remains the best natural defense against TB.

The most terrorizing fact however is the continuing hyper evolution of the HIV genetic material. RNA based viruses are far less stable than DNA based. It is estimate that HIV has a 1% mutation rate. The average untreated HIV infected person has approximately 2 billion replications of the HIV virus in their bodies EACH DAY. If you do the math…that comes out to roughly 2 0 million possible variations of the HIV virus per day…per infected untreated person. One of the other frightening traits of pathogens is their ability to swap genetic segments with completely different viruses. (Regular E.coli became deadly E.Coli 0157 after it received the deadly Shigella bacterial gene segment #0157. Sometimes we speed this process with intentional biological experiments (working to create an AIDS vaccine by combining segments of HIV with the common Cold virus) or accidental biological experiments (mutinogenic toxins in the environment or the improper use of antiviral medicines during well meaning treatments). There is no shortage of examples of links between environmental degradation and hunger…or hunger and illiteracy. And, there is HIV linked every day and in every way.

Last but not least, everyone knows that war leads to hunger and the rapid spread of infectious diseases. Unfortunately, we must continually be reminded that hunger and the insecurity of poverty related diseases can contribute to exacerbating conflicts. It is now in the Horn of Africa where US Marines are more likely to be drilling water wells, building schools or irrigation projects than they are to be hunting or killing terrorists. The U.S. military knows full well from its failings in Iraq that the best way to fight terrorism is to win the hearts and minds of the locals. Their work in Africa’s poorest regions is to establish a friendly environment where Al Qaeda will not grow. Even Jarheads know that winning hearts and minds first requires a full stomach.

AIDS, like Al Qaida, spreads best in ignorance and chaos. And where ever there is hunger… we will also find ignorance and chaos.

A few years after 9-11 Colin Powel said AIDS was a greater threat to national security than Al Qaida. Recently Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates called for our government to commit more money and effort to “soft power” tools, including diplomacy, economic assistance and communications, because the military alone cannot defend America’s interests around the world.

World hunger won’t be solved until a super majority of US policy makers hunger enough for justice, wisdom, peace, sanity and lasting security. HIV/AIDS is only the most recent window through which to view the continuing holocaust of our times…world hunger…in a world of plenty.

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