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, May 17, 2010

Peace is not through strength!

Dear Editor,
The seven authors of “Restoring ‘peace through strength’ (Washington Times May 11,-2010 - Edwin Meese, Elaine Donnelly, Frank Gaffney, Brian Kennedy, Herbert London, Cliff May and Herman Pirchner) need to return to the drawing board if they are serious about preserving our nation’s freedoms and security.
Their pre 9-11 thinking is virtually useless against the greatest threats we face today : nature’s pandemics, nuclear or bio engineered WMD, other dual use technologies that can fashion any SUV into a IED-WMD, economic collapse, environmental catastrophe, or the inevitable catastrophic natural disasters that will come from both inside our planet and from outside our solar system .
A strong military may be helpful in cleaning up messes or controlling chaotic conditions here or elsewhere after disasters…but reducing the number, severity and types of threats will require something different – nations working effectively together. Not just two or three. Extremely cooperative and comprehensive international partnerships between all nations, and more importantly all peoples, working for the common good.
The authors highly value the “Preservation of US sovereignty” but keeping this priority will usually be counterproductive to marshalling the essential international cooperation and coordination needed to ensure both freedoms and security. Put simply, national sovereignty is synonymous with the mental concept of independence. And independence simply doesn’t’ exist in the real world of hyper interdependence. Two examples: The US economy is now dependent upon China’s economic policy and our economic an national security remains hopelessly dependent on OPEC policy.
Do the seven authors really believe that “strength” leads to “peace”. We had the most powerful military in human history prior to 9-11. Then we used it to attack Afghanistan and Iraq. Is Iran next? We may feel safer but time is working against us. Committed adversaries will continue to use asymmetrical means. WMDs, IEDs, and other destructive capabilities are infinitely more difficult to defend against. And, they may eventually require extremely intrusive, repressive and offensive responses -- responses that ultimately aid the enemy and systematically weaken our own moral standing.
Having such a powerful military significantly increases the chances of our using it. And, our use so far against terrorists appears to have made more terrorists than it has killed. Our military reaction to 9-11 was what Osama Bin Ladin wanted. He knew he couldn’t defeat in battle, but he hoped our reaction would weaken us economically and divide us politically. Note to Authors: OBL’s still alive and appears to be doing well on both strategic fronts even as he loses every battle.
Then there is our increasing insecurity as a result of the exponential growth of powerful dual use technologies and their increasing affordability and availability globally, to anyone with a cell phone and bank account. Time is running out. We need more friends in faraway places…and military power doesn’t make real friends.
History suggests former military superpowers didn’t fail because they lacked military strength…they failed because they over used it.
And, do these seven authors really believe that ‘deterrence’ will work against fundamental religious extremists?
Regarding border controls…Just the construction costs along of effectively securing our borders against most serious threats would break us economically. The maintenance costs and the economic losses from decreased trade, commerce and tourism would bring on another great depression.
The authors call for “a foreign policy that supports our allies and opposes our adversaries”. Nowadays our allies and adversaries change faster than the weather. And they are seldom the same from issue to issue.
Here’s an idea for the authors. How about fulfilling the promise of our Declaration of Independence! It still adheres to the basic principle that all people are created equal and endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights independent of what form of government or religious majority they live under. Our Constitution was originally designed to fulfill on that promise. It hasn’t yet succeeded. As it stands it’s essentially a suicide pact. It still holds some people to be more worthy than others…simply because of the passport they carry. Until a constitution fulfills the promise of our nation’s founding document, the Declaration of Independence -- freedom and security will remain political slogans…and never fully realized. And time is running out.

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Friday, May 14, 2010

Oil spills, SUVs, RPGs and Tea party poopers.

The BP oil spill of 2010 could be the greatest thing to happen to us…if we were really open to change. Changing our minds, our priorities and our government. Unfortunately, we didn’t learn from 9-11, we didn’t learn from Katrina, we didn’t learn from Vietnam or Afghanistan, we didn’t learn from HIV/AIDS or Rwanda…and we probably won’t learn from this.
The spill is just too small. It’s been about 3 weeks from the initial pipe burst and the amount of oil released is still less than that lost by the Exxon Valdez tanker spill in Alaska 20 years ago. BP’s disaster may soon exceed it, but even if it’s capped tomorrow and all other offshore drilling efforts around our nation remain safe for the next 100 years catastrophic oil spills will continue to occur beyond our visible concern. According to Time magazine “Nigeria …has spills equal to that of the Exxon Valdez about every year.”
We’re only concerned about oil spills in our yard. Real change is needed. Consider that China is now spend twice as much as the US on research and investments in clean energy ($18 billion vs $34 billion). What are they thinking? Oh yes. Ahead. The problem isn’t faulty shut off valves…or poorly regulated drilling. It’s our addiction and dependence on oil, and our collective disregard for our own health, economy, national security and environment.
Does our involvement in Iraq and the rest of the middle east have much to do with our dependence on oil? Iran’s leadership’s incitement to genocide has Zionists and others rightfully worked up about protecting Israel, but what will be the US consequences if Israel or the US bomb Iran?
Yet every day, we get into our gasoline burning trucks, SUVs and automobiles and drive without concern to places we could have easily walked, bused, biked or trained to. Why? Because we don’t see or feel our dependence. We know it exists. We just choose to ignore it and how it relates to our debt crisis, unemployment lines, obesity rates, national security risk, air pollution and maybe even climate change.
An SUV bomb in NYC gets more attention than our addition to SUVs…and we continue to believe that drone strikes in Pakistan will reduce the number of future car bomb attacks here. Bush once said “we will fight them over there…so we won’t have to fight them here!” WTF? Did he really think they couldn’t find us again? Now, with the assistance of Google Earth they can also locate all of our oil storage tanks near our largest cities which are relatively easy targets for RPGs.
As oil and food dependent individuals we such little concern for how vulnerable we really are. But we feel good that way. And as long we feel good…that seems to be our highest priority. It appears the only time we get off our butts and do something …is when we aren’t feeling good. Ask the Tea party why they are involved? Ask them how dependent they are on foreign oil and their solution. Drill baby Drill. Spill maybe spill. Just pray and pass the ammunition. Free we will stay! Free of rational thought and appropriate action.


Friday, May 07, 2010


"Would-Be Warriors: Incidents of Jihadist Terrorist Radicalization in the United States Since September 11, 2001, by Brian Michael Jenkins via RAND corporation (Paperback • 32 pages • ISBN: 978-0-8330-4981-0)

is an excellent overview of domestic terrorism including shocking statistics from the 1970s. The only flaw I see from Mr. Jenkins' detailed analysis is his use of the word "prevention" instead of "Preemption" when labeling US law enforcement measures to stop potentially lethal terrorist acts before they occur.

For accuracy sake terrorist 'prevention' measures would have more to do with eliminating the radicalization factors or crazy factors that ultimately lead to plots -- instead of some use of force or intelligence intervention to halt a terrorist plot that is already in play.

President Bush may have left most thoughtful people with a negative view of "preemption" but in is what he believed he was wrongly believing that Saddam's WMDs were an imminent threat.
If a terrorist plot is should rightfully be preempted... that would be a rational tactic against such a threat. But such tactical actions will not 'prevent' future terrorist attacks. That will require an entirely different strategic approach to counter-terrorism. One that focuses on the global rule of law...not the global law of force.