Aug 31, 2006

Managing All Our Terrors

I remember learning the following wayback and somewhere, all on the tax payer's dime. It was taught to us so we could put it to good use in opinion management operations. "People can be positioned to fool themselves into believing their biased views follow logically from available facts. We are going to teach you just how to exploit this'.

Now, on to this post's cut 'n paste exercise.

Terror management theory (TMT) is a developing area of study within the academic study of psychology. It looks at what researchers claim to be the implicit emotional reactions of people when confronted with the psychological terror of knowing we will eventually die (it is widely believed that our awareness of mortality is a trait that is unique to humans). The theory was first developed in the late 1980s by Skidmore College psychology professor Sheldon Solomon and others. Solomon was inspired by the theories of Ernest Becker (The Denial of Death, 1973) and Freud, on how potent reminders of one's own ultimate death often provoke a belief in some form of mystical transcendence (heaven, reincarnation, spiritualism, etc.).

The theory builds from the assumption that the capability of self-reflection and the consciousness of one’s own mortality, can be regarded as a continuous source for existential anguish. Culture diminishes this psychological terror by providing meaning, organization and continuity to men's and women's lives. Compliance with cultural values enhances one's feeling of security and self-esteem, provided that the individual is capable of living in accordance with whatever particular cultural standards apply to him or her. The belief in the rightness of the cultural values and standards creates the conviction necessary to live a reasonable and meaningful life. Because of this men and women strive to have their cultural worldview confirmed by others, thereby receiving the community’s esteem. However, when one’s worldview is threatened by the weltanschauungen of another, it often results in one’s self-respect being endangered as well. In such a situation people not only endeavour to deny or devalue the importance third party weltanschauung, but try to controvert the ideas and opinions of others which may, as a consequence, escalate into a conflict.

Research has shown that people, when reminded of their own inevitable death, will cling more strongly to their cultural worldviews. The data appears to show that nations or persons who have experienced traumas (e.g. 9/11) are more attracted to strong leaders who express traditional, pro-establishment, authoritarian viewpoints. They will also be hyper-aware of the possibility of external threats, and may be more hostile to those who threaten them.

The theory gained media attention in the aftermath of 9/11, and after the re-election of President George Bush in the USA, Prime Minister Tony Blair in the UK, and John Howard in Australia.

Terror management researchers have shown that making research participants think about death will lead to such changes in behaviors and beliefs that seemingly protect worldview and self-esteem. Nevertheless, these researchers have not yet demonstrated that this happens for the reason they propose, namely to alleviate unconscious fears of death. Direct tests of this hypothesis are likely to soon emerge in the scholarly literature.

Links to additional resources on Terror Management Theory
1 Dept. of Alberta, University of Alberta
2 Interview With Dr. Sheldon Solomon And Dr. Tom Pyszczynski
3 Trailer For The Movie: Flight From Death

Mind Fuckers Extraordinaire - The Rendon Group

Much of what is successfully pulled off in the world of psyops is the result of work contracted out to private firms by government entities.

One of the foremost companies operating in the world of psyop production and sales is the Rendon Group. They wage psychological warfare campaigns against the U.S. domestic population, contracted directly or per corporate proxies, on behalf of various U.S. government entities. The irony of course is that the U.S. tax payer is financing a warfare campaign aimed at herself. That my fellow meatballs, is pure poetry.

Somewhere in the world, and always here at home in the U.S., there are hitmen busy at work fucking with millions of minds including your own. Democracy has to be tamed. Fortunes can't be left to the whims of paupers if they are to persist. Continuity is not for the squeamish.

Pentagon Contract For More Positive Spin On Iraq War Available For Bid

Here is an interesting opportunity for public relations professionals:

U.S. military leaders in Baghdad have put out for bid a two-year, $20 million public relations contract that calls for extensive monitoring of U.S. and Middle Eastern media in an effort to promote more positive coverage of news from Iraq.

The contract calls for assembling a database of selected news stories and assessing their tone as part of a program to provide "public relations products" that would improve coverage of the military command's performance, according to a statement of work attached to the proposal.

The request for bids comes at a time when Bush administration officials are publicly criticizing media coverage of the war in Iraq.

The proposal, which calls in part for extensive monitoring and analysis of Iraqi, Middle Eastern and American media, is designed to help the coalition forces understand "the communications environment." Its goal is to "develop communication strategies and tactics, identify opportunities, and execute events . . . to effectively communicate Iraqi government and coalition's goals, and build support among our strategic audiences in achieving these goals," according to the statement of work that is publicly available through the Web site . ...

The proposal calls for monitoring "Iraqi, pan-Arabic, international and U.S. national and regional markets media in both Arabic and English." That includes broadcast and cable television outlets, the Pentagon channel, two wire services and three major U.S. newspapers: The Washington Post, New York Times and Los Angeles Times. ...

The media outlets would be monitored for how they present coalition or anti-Iraqi force operations. That part of the proposal could reflect Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld's often-stated concern that the media does not cover positive aspects of Iraq. ...

The proposal suggests a team of 12 to 18 people who would provide support for the coalition military command as well as the Iraqi government leadership.

Prospective contractors are also asked to propose four to eight public relations events per month, such as speeches or news conferences, including "preparation of likely questions and suggested answers, themes and messages as well as background, talking points."

Aug 29, 2006

Get Smart At High Noon - Time To Kick Some Kook Ass Out Of Dodge

It’s time for Americans to recognize that the enterprise that some neoconservatives refer to as World War IV is unwinnable in a strictly military sense. Indeed, it’s past time to re-examine the post-Cold War assumption that military power provides the preferred antidote to any and all complaints that we have with the world beyond our borders.

In Iraq, the world’s only superpower finds itself mired in a conflict that it cannot win. History’s mightiest military has been unable to defeat an enemy force of perhaps 20,000 to 30,000 insurgents equipped with post-World War II vintage assault rifles and anti-tank weapons.

In Gaza and southern Lebanon, the Middle East’s mightiest military also finds itself locked in combat with adversaries that it cannot defeat. Despite weeks of bitter fighting, the IDF’s Merkava tanks, F-16 fighter-bombers, and missile-launching unmanned aerial vehicles failed to suppress, much less eliminate, the armed resistance of Hamas and Hezbollah.

What are we to make of this? How is it that the seemingly weak and primitive are able to frustrate modern armies only recently viewed as all but invincible? What do the parallel tribulations—and embarrassments—of the United States and Israel have to tell us about war and politics in the 21st century? In short, what’s going on here?

The answer to that question is dismayingly simple: the sun has set on the age of unquestioned Western military dominance. Bluntly, the East has solved the riddle of the Western Way of War. In Baghdad and in Anbar Province as at various points on Israel’s troubled perimeter, the message is clear: methods that once could be counted on to deliver swift decision no longer work.

What was it that made the IDF in its heyday look so good? According to the punch line of an old joke: because they always fought Arabs. In 1991, the Americans finally had their own chance to fight Arabs, and they too looked good, making mincemeat of Saddam Hussein’s legions in Operation Desert Storm. In the spring of 2003, the Americans looked good once again, dispatching the remnant of Saddam’s army in a short and seemingly decisive campaign. In Washington many concluded that an unstoppable U.S. military machine could provide the leverage necessary to transform the entire region.

The truth is that U.S. forces and the IDF looked good fighting Arabs only as long as Arab political leaders insisted on fighting on Western terms. As long as they persisted in pitting tank against tank or fighter plane against fighter plane, Arabs were never going to get the better of either the Americans or the Israelis. His stupidity perhaps matched only by his ruthlessness, Saddam may well have been the last Arab leader to figure this out.

So it turns out that Arabs—or more broadly Muslims—can fight after all.

We may surmise that they now realize that fighting effectively requires that they do so on their own terms rather than mimicking the West. They don’t need and don’t want tanks and fighter-bombers.

What many Westerners dismiss as “terrorism,” whether directed against Israelis, Americans, or others in the West, ought to be seen as a panoply of techniques employed to undercut the apparent advantages of high-tech conventional forces. The methods em-ployed do include terrorism—violence targeting civilians for purposes of intimidation—but they also incorporate propaganda, subversion, popular agitation, economic warfare, and hit-and-run attacks on regular forces, either to induce an overreaction or to wear them down. The common theme of those techniques, none of which are new, is this: avoid the enemy’s strengths; exploit enemy vulnerabilities.

What are the implications of this new Islamic Way of War? While substantial, they fall well short of being apocalyptic. As Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has correctly—if perhaps a trifle defensively—observed, “Our enemy knows they cannot defeat us in battle.” Neither the Muslim world nor certainly the Arab world poses what some like to refer to as “an existential threat” to the United States.

Despite overheated claims that the so-called Islamic fascists pose a danger greater than Hitler ever did, the United States is not going to be overrun, even should the forces of al-Qaeda, Hamas, Hezbollah, Iraqi insurgents, and Shi’ite militias along with Syria and Iran all combine into a unified anti-Crusader coalition. Although Israelis for historical reasons are inclined to believe otherwise, the proximate threat to Israel itself is only marginally greater. Although neither Israel nor the United States can guarantee its citizens “perfect security”—what nation can?—both enjoy ample capabilities for self-defense.

What the Islamic Way of War does mean to both Israel and to the United States is this: the Arabs now possess—and know that they possess—the capacity to deny us victory, especially in any altercation that occurs on their own turf and among their own people. To put it another way, neither Israel nor the United States today possesses anything like the military muscle needed to impose its will on the various governments, nation-states, factions, and political movements that comprise our list of enemies. For politicians in Jerusalem or Washington to persist in pretending otherwise is the sheerest folly.

It’s time for Americans to recognize that the enterprise that some neoconservatives refer to as World War IV is unwinnable in a strictly military sense. Indeed, it’s past time to re-examine the post-Cold War assumption that military power provides the preferred antidote to any and all complaints that we have with the world beyond our borders.

In the Middle East and more broadly in our relations with the Islamic world, we face difficult and dangerous problems, more than a few of them problems to which we ourselves have contributed. Those problems will become more daunting still, for us and for Israel, should a nation like Iran succeed in acquiring nuclear weapons. But as events in Iraq and now in southern Lebanon make clear, reliance on the sword alone will not provide a solution to those problems. We must be strong and we must be vigilant. But we also need to be smart, and getting smart means ending our infatuation with war and rediscovering the possibilities of politics.
Excerpt Of An Article By Andrew J. Bacevich, The American Conservative

Andrew J. Bacevich is professor of history and international relations at Boston University. His most recent book, The New American Militarism, is just out in paperback from Oxford University Press.

27 Year CIA Vet Ray McGovern - Iran, Air Power, And Mini-Nukes For Kooks

During the Veterans for Peace National Convention in Seattle, Dahr Jamal conducted an interview with Ray McGovern. McGovern was a CIA analyst for 27 years and is co-founder of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).

*Dahr Jamail: What is your perspective on the possibility that the US could take the present day situation in Lebanon and use it as a pretext to wage war against Iran?*

*Ray McGovern:* If you are talking about pretexts, there doesn't have to be much reality behind the pretexts. We saw that in Central America. We were told that the Soviets were going to use the Nicaraguans as pawns to come up into Texas, remember? Did Ronald Reagan really believe this?

They don't really have to plant anything - they've got the Iranian missiles there [southern Lebanon] there are stories about Iranian soldiers in there advising them, stories which to my knowledge are not true. But if they want to use this as a pretext to take off after Iran, they are free to do so.

Who would do it? As with the case with respect to Iraq, Iran poses no danger to the US. I repeat, no danger to the US. Iran has not started any wars in that part of the world. They hate us for other reasons.

They hate us because they had a democratically elected government in 1953 and we overthrew it because we wanted their oil, pure and simple. They know that, and they are used to it, and they don't want it anymore.

*DJ: How does this lead into Iran, if you are the policy-makers in Israel/US?*

*RM:* What we have here is that Israel does feel threatened. Why? Because the Israelis have a nuclear monopoly now in the Middle East, and most people believe they have about 300 nuclear weapons which they can fire from missiles and submarines and whatever else. And Iran and their other neighbors have none.

Now, if Iran were to develop a nuclear weapon, would that be a threat to Israel's security? I don't think so. They'd have to be suicidal to mount an attack on Israel because they would be obliterated. What would it give Iran? It would give Iran a certain modicum of what we used to call deterrence. It's a word that's dropped out of the vocabulary of Washington but it worked for 40 years after WWII. It would give them a measure of deterrence. So if the Iranians, say 10 years from now, saw the Israelis about to pounce on Syria and do what they are doing to Lebanon, in this case to Syria, perhaps the Ayatollahs would say, "Now wait a minute, we know of your plans. Don't think that you can do this with impunity."

And this would give the Israelis pause. Up until now, they have had free reign, they have been unencumbered in doing whatever they hell they please in the West Bank, in Gaza, and now in Lebanon, with the support of the US government and military, and they don't want to lose that kind of freedom of action. So they are hell bent on preventing Iran from becoming a nuclear power. In that sense they see a threat.

Now, our government ... On inauguration day 2005 Dick Cheney found it necessary to say that Iran was a terrible threat , the top of the list of threats to us. That it should not get a nuclear weapon. And that the Israelis just might go ahead and take that capability out and let the rest of us pick up the pieces.

He said that in such a way as to indicate that that would be fine with him, it's a possibility, and why not? Since then, the president in the US has time after time talked about "our ally Israel." That "our ally Israel" deserves our support, and if "our ally Israel" is attacked, we will automatically spring to its aid under our defense treaty.

Now, Americans who might be reading this, listen up, as we used to say in the Army. There is no treaty of mutual defense between the US and Israel. That's a lie. It's a misrepresentation; juridically speaking Israel is not our ally.

I've often been interested in that. When I started out as an analyst I wondered, why is there no treaty? And I concluded, very understandably, that this was a mark of US prudence. Why would we want to tick off the Arabs even more than we already have? Why would we want to be juridically obliged to engage in hostilities in the Middle East?

But guess what? That wasn't the case at all. In 1967 after the first Arab/Israeli War, we offered Israel a mutual defense treaty with the rationale that perhaps this would give the Arabs pause from attacking Israel again, and give us a certain leverage over the Israelis. And guess what? The Israelis said, "Thanks, but no thanks."

I was surprised to hear that. I asked the people who were involved in this, who happen to be involved in Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, including one person who was actually in the process of making this overture to Israel. I said, "Why did they turn it down?" He said, "Ray, mutual defense treaties require clearly defined international boundaries.

And the Israelis, after they took the occupied territories in '67 and '73, didn't want any part of clearly defined international boundaries. And also, the Israelis really like to be able to do what they want to do. If they want to attack Iraq and take out the Osirak nuclear reactor as they did in 1981, they don't want to have to ask Washington, they just want to do it. So they didn't want to be inhibited by any of the normally accepted norms of behavior. If you have a mutual defense treaty, you usually tell the other partner what you're going to do, if you are going to invade or bomb another country."

So what's the upshot of all of this? There is no mutual defense treaty between Israel and the US. But why does the president say there is? Well, I don't know why he says there is. General Scowcroft, his father's National Security Advisor, told us, "Sharon just has him wrapped around his little finger." He had our president "mesmerized," according to Scowcroft.

In any case, he has made it out that there is a defense treaty with Israel. So, the Israelis are smiling all the way to the bank and saying, "Hey, we have no treaty obligations on the one hand, and yet we've got just as good as a treaty because the president either really believes there is one or he's going to act as if there is one. So we've got the best of both worlds. We can have our cake and eat it too."

That, to me, bespeaks a violation of the admonition of our very first president, who happened to be a general and knew about this kind of stuff. George Washington warned us, very vividly, against entangling alliances. The kind of alliances where the perceived needs of another country become inextricably woven around what we perceive to be the needs of our country. When, in fact, those needs do not coincide.

*DJ: What are some of the intermediate steps US/Israeli policy makers might take before beginning a war with Iran?*

*RM:* So this is a very important factor here, and I mention that because if this president is going to proceed on the assumption that Israel is a mutual defense treaty partner of ours, and Israel takes off after Iran and takes the first shot (and they do have the capability, not of doing the whole job, but of doing half or 3/4 of it, with our weaponry of course, our smart bombs and everything else) then, as Cheney pretty much explicitly said, we will be in the position of picking up the pieces. Because Israel is our ally, and we'll be involved in what will be the most dangerous situation that our country has faced since Pearl Harbor.

We'll be involved in a major war in the Persian Gulf with a country that has done us no wrong, has posed no threat to us - but has in Israeli eyes caused a possible longer-term threat - a country that has incredible oil resources which the Chinese desperately need, which the Indians desperately need. And we'll have a major world conflagration there, because I'm sure the Iranians will - I'm sure - do the kinds of things that will put the world economy back several steps, drive up the price of gasoline to over $10 a gallon, and cause all manner of trouble to our troops in Iraq.

Our troops in Iraq are incredibly vulnerable. The Iranians can send three Revolutionary Guard Divisions right across that border into Iraq within a week or two. And our guys are busy with the resistance on the part of most of the Iraqi population. We're not deployed to contain an
invasion from Iran. Indeed, the Iranians wouldn't even have to do it themselves. All they have to do is encourage their Shia allies to cut our lines of communication and cut our supply line between Kuwait and Baghdad, an easy thing to do, and our guys would be in deep kimshei. Because what happens then?

The only option the US would have would be to use these clever mini-nukes. That really scares me because the people advising this president are convinced that these mini-nukes are just a little more powerful than high explosive weaponry and our air force is so precision targeted that we can cope with this kind of thing. Not only if the Iranians pour across the Iraqi border, but if the North Koreans start to fool around ... and this is idiocy.

Anyone who knows about either of these situations, the Middle East or Korea, knows that these are not options, and if they are options everyone will suffer monstrous losses.

Aug 28, 2006

Former CIA Analyst and Presidential Daily Briefer - Iraq And Iran: Pretexts, Lies, And Kooks

Ray McGovern, former CIA Analyst and Presidential Daily Briefer, talks about the role that fudged and spun intelligence played in the lead-up to Iraq and the pending war against Iran. This is an episode of BackTalk produced by Salisbury Democracy for America, Salisbury, MD. Washington DC March 8, 2006

Of Course Iran Is Doable

The standard of success for corporate beneficiaries of war, which operate from behind the facade of neo-conservative forces in and around the Bush administration, is based more on business profitability than on the conventional military success on the battlefield.

The primary concern and the measure of success for civilian militarists lies in the mere act or continuation of war, as this would ensure increased military spending and higher dividends for military industries and war-induced businesses.

From a military point of view the war on Iraq has been a fiasco. From the standpoint of the powerful beneficiaries of the Pentagon budget it has been a boon and a huge success. This explains, perhaps more than anything else, the ongoing tensions between the military and militaristic civilian leaders, or chicken hawks.

While civilian militarists, headed by Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, are said to have drawn plans to bomb Iran, senior commanders are openly questioning the wisdom of such plans.

The administration's recent statements that it is now willing to negotiate with Iran might appear as a change or modification of its plans to launch a military strike against that country. But a closer reading of those statements indicates otherwise: such pronouncements are premised on the condition that, as President George W Bush recently put it, "The Iranian regime fully and verifiably suspends its uranium enrichment."

In light of the fact that suspension of uranium enrichment, which is nothing beyond Iran's legitimate rights under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, is supposed to be the main point of negotiation, Iran is asked, in effect, "to concede the main point of the negotiations before they started".

Military professionals question the administration's plans of a bombing campaign against Iran on a number of grounds.

Most importantly, the professionals' opposition to the administration's bombing plans stems from the fact that, as pointed out by renowned investigative reporter Seymour Hersh, "American and European intelligence agencies have not found specific evidence of clandestine [nuclear] activities or hidden facilities" in Iran. Hersh further writes, "A former senior intelligence official told me that people in the Pentagon were asking, 'What's the evidence? We've got a million tentacles out there, overt and covert, and these guys - the Iranians - have been working on this for 18 years, and we have nothing? We're coming up with jack shit.'"

So far, the jingoistic civilian leaders do not seem to have been swayed by the expert advice of their military experts. And the discord over Iran policy continues.

Some observers have attributed the conflict to Rumsfeld's uneasy relationship with the military hierarchy, arguing that his cavalier attitude and unwillingness to accept responsibility are the main reasons for the ongoing friction between the military and civilian leadership. While there are clear elements of truth to this explanation, it leaves out some more fundamental reasons for the discord. There is a deeper and more general historical pattern - often shaped by the economics of war - to the recurring disagreements between the military and militaristic civilian leaders over issues of war and peace.

Evidence shows that business or economic beneficiaries of war, who do not have to face direct combat and death, tend to be more jingoistic than professional military personnel who will have to face the horrors of warfare. Furthermore, military professionals tend to care more about the outcome of a war and "military honor" than civilian leaders, who often represent some powerful economic interests that benefit from the business of war.

Calling such business and/or ideologically driven warmongers "civilian militarists", military historian Alfred Vagts points to a number of historical instances of how civilian militarists' eagerness to use military force for their nefarious interests often led "to an intensification of the horrors of warfare". For example, he points out how in World War II, "civilians not only anticipated war more eagerly than the professionals, but played a principal part in making combat ... more terrible than was the current military wont or habit".

The 2003 US invasion of Iraq serves as another blatant example of civilian militarists' instigation of war in pursuit of economic and geopolitical gains. A number of belatedly surfaced documents reveal that not only were the civilian militarists, representing powerful business and geopolitical interests, behind the invasion of Iraq, but that they also advocated a prolonged occupation of that country to avail their legal and economic "experts" the time needed to overhaul that country's economy according to a restructuring plan that they had drawn up long before the invasion.

As we posted earlier at SMC, one such document, titled "Moving the Iraqi Economy from Recovery to Growth", was obtained from the State Department by well-known investigative reporter Greg Palast. The document, also called the "Economy Plan", was part of a largely secret program called "The Iraq Strategy".

Here is how Palast describes the plan: "The Economy Plan goes boldly where no invasion plan has gone before: the complete rewrite, it says, of a conquered state's 'policies, laws and regulations'. Here's what you'll find in the plan: a highly detailed program ... for imposing a new regime of low taxes on big business, and quick sales of Iraq's banks and bridges - in fact, 'all state enterprises' - to foreign operators ... Beginning on page 73, the secret drafters emphasized that Iraq would have to 'privatize' [ie sell off] its 'oil and supporting industries'."

After a detailed account and analysis of the plan, Palast concludes, "If the Economy Plan reads like a Christmas wish-list drafted by US corporate lobbyists, that's because it was. From slashing taxes to wiping away Iraq's tariffs (taxes on imports of US and other foreign goods), the package carries the unmistakable fingerprints of the small, soft hands of Grover Norquist."

Norquist, once registered as a lobbyist for Microsoft and American Express, is one of many corporate lobbyists who helped shape the Economy Plan for the "new" Iraq. In an interview with Palast, Norquist boasted of moving freely at the Treasury, Defense and State departments, and in the White House, "shaping the post-conquest economic plans ...".

The Economy Plan's "Annex D" laid out "a strict 360-day schedule for the free-market makeover of Iraq". But General Jay Garner, the initially designated ruler of Iraq, had promised Iraqis they would have free and fair elections as soon as Saddam Hussein was toppled, preferably within 90 days.

In the face of this conflict, civilian militarists of the Bush administration overruled Garner: elections were postponed - as usual, on grounds that the local population and/or conditions were not yet ripe for elections. The real reason for the postponement, however, was that, as Palast points out, "It was simply inconceivable that any popularly elected government would let America write its laws and auction off the nation's crown jewel, its petroleum industry."

When Palast asked lobbyist Norquist about the postponement of the elections, he responded matter-of-factly: "The right to trade, property rights, these things are not to be determined by some democratic election." The troops would simply have to wait longer.

Garner's resistance to the plan to postpone the elections was a major factor for his sudden replacement with L Paul Bremer, who, having served as managing director of Kissinger Associates, better understood the corporate culture. Soon after assuming power in Saddam's old palace, Bremer canceled Garner's scheduled meeting of Iraq's tribal leaders that was called to plan national elections.

Instead, he appointed the entire "government" himself. National elections, Bremer pronounced, would have to wait until 2005. "The delay would, incidentally, provide," Palast notes, "time needed to lock in the laws, regulations and irreversible sales of assets in accordance with the Economy Plan ... Altogether, the leader of the Coalition Provisional Authority issued exactly 100 orders that remade Iraq in the image of the Economy Plan."

Palast's report is by no means an isolated or exceptional story. It is part of a historical pattern of how or why civilian militarists, often representing powerful interests of the beneficiaries of war, tend to be more belligerent than the professional military. The report also shows that, contrary to popular perceptions, the jingoistic neo-conservative forces in and around the Bush administration are not simply a bunch of starry-eyed ideologues bent on "spreading US values". More important, they represent influential economic and geopolitical interests that are camouflaged behind the facade of the neo-conservatives' rhetoric and their alleged ideals of democracy.

There is clear evidence that the leading neo-conservative figures have been longtime political activists who have worked through a network of warmongering think-tanks that are set up to serve either as the armaments lobby or the Israeli lobby, or both.

These corporate-backed militaristic think-tanks include Project for the New American Century, the American Enterprise Institute, the Center for Security Policy, the Middle East Media Research Institute, the Middle East Forum, the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs, and the National Institute for Public Policy. Major components of the Bush administration's foreign policy, including the war on Iraq, have been designed largely at the drawing boards of these think-thanks, often in collaboration, directly or indirectly, with the Pentagon and the arms lobby.

Even a cursory look at the records of these militaristic think-tanks - their membership, their financial sources, their institutional structures and the like - shows that they are set up in essence to serve as institutional fronts to camouflage the dubious relationship between the Pentagon, its major contractors and the Israeli lobby, on the one hand, and the warmongering neo-conservative politicians on the other. More critically, this unsavory relationship also shows that powerful interests that benefit from war are also in essence the same powers that can - and indeed do - make war. Additionally, it explains why civilian militarists are so eager to foment war and international tensions.

By the same token, the incestuous relationship between war beneficiaries and warmakers goes some way to explain the increasing tensions between the military and civilian militarists in and around the Bush administration, especially in the context of the administration's plans to bomb Iran. When contemplating war plans, military commanders make some critically important decisions that seem to be of no or very little significance to civilian leaders. Not only will the military have to face direct combat, death and destruction but, perhaps more important, the commanders will have to think very carefully about the outcome of the war and the chances of victory, that is, the honor and pride of the military.

So ask not what you're country can do for you. Ask instead what you and your country can do in Iran for some opportunely connected big businesses and their donees.

Aug 27, 2006

Shape Shifting News

Using the 1992 presidential election as his springboard, documentary filmmaker Brian Springer captures the behind-the-scenes maneuverings of politicians and newscasters in the early 1990s. Pat Robertson banters about "homos," Al Gore learns how to avoid abortion questions, George Bush talks to Larry King about halcyon -- all presuming they're off camera. Composed of 100% unauthorized satellite footage.

Aug 26, 2006

Tender Of One VAT Excempt WMD Pretext

Hey Rumsfeld!

Need some Niger-ish yellow cakey help in securing buttressing pretexts for any pending hits on Syria or Iran?

Here's a conveniently obscure one that can be dusted off and buffed up. I'm sure this crap can be recycled into a credible enough WMD-scare tale.

I'll invoice you from Switzerland so there'll be no VAT surcharges. Consider perhaps mulling over it with Santorum - he might very well be able to find an exploitable angle that eludes the rest of us effwits.

If this exchange turns out to be but the beginning of a long and beneficial relationship for growing pet coffers and Israel then we can let future remunerations run through a great Dutch sandwich set up I have ready to let roar.

PS - How's your squash game faring? Still finding time?

Until Toledo,
Meatball One

Aug 24, 2006

People Get Ready, There's A Train A-Coming.

OK, now back to highly speculative and frivolous pièce de résistancies. We seldom go wrong with them. How's this for restarters?

Haven't we projected many a time here at SMC that official admissions of chaos in Iraq would be roosted upon until such time that we need to redeploy our troops into position for our attack on Iran, at which point sudden admissions of civil war will become a handy pretext for the shuffling of fighting assets? I know we have.

Certainly we have pointed out that claims will be made just prior to our attack on Iran that troop redeployments are being made to move troops out of harms way from the ungrateful Iraqi's who have chosen to go beserk instead of embracing the freedom and democracy we have tried so selflessly to endow them with - when of course these admissions of chaos will be but cover for the redeployment of troops into positions of pre-launch readiness.

Oh boy, now we're getting really close to sealing a long done deal. I wouldn't want to be part of any cheese eating multinational buffer zone force in Lebanon, caught in the crossfire of what's soon to go down. Those suckers are nigh to noon about to have their camo-thonged Euroloins tenderized. And such a calamity in itself will probably be used to provide rallying pretext for the timid weekend warrior Euroreluctants to throw a wholehearted shoulder to the U.S. wheel as it thunders over Iran. Even Euroskanks still dream of goose stepping and donning patriotpuffy chests in goosebumps and Kevlar against a pigmented enemy.

British troops today pulled out of a base in southern Iraq that had come under frequent attack, aiming to reposition their forces along the area bordering Iran and crack down on smuggling.

Camp Abu Naji in Amarah, 200 miles south-east of Baghdad, was turned over to Iraqi authorities, Maj. Charlie Burbridge, a spokesman for British forces, said from Basra.

The camp in Maysan province, which had housed about 1,200 troops, had been frequently targeted by militants over the past three years.

On Tuesday, a barrage of 17 mortar rounds was fired at the base, wounding a British soldier.

Another mortar landed in the camp yesterday, although it didn’t cause any casualties.

-Excerpt From The Irish Examiner

Crack down on smuggling my ass!

Goosebumps Für Alles - 101

"Once you base your whole life striving on a desperate lie, and try to implement that lie, you instrument your own undoing."
- Ernest Becker, The Denial of Death.

It's not hard to understand how propaganda works. You don't need a college degree, or to even to read any of those thick textbooks everybody hates. Everything relevant can be explained in one not-particularly-long post. And, I guarantee you, you must understand how propaganda targets you, to immunize yourself against the attempts.

Propaganda works by appealing to our most base, animalistic instincts. It does not appeal to our better nature, although one of the purposes of it is to convince us it does. It pretends to appeal to our reason, when in fact it appeals to our most primitive emotions. There is good reason for this: perception travels through the emotional brain first, to the rational brain last.

Specifically, propaganda works by appealing to three things: emotionalism, tribalism and narcissism.

I just mentioned perception travels first to the emotional brain, then the rational brain. This happens to everyone, including people who con themselves they are the most rational and intelligent of intellectuals.

As for tribes, we share with every nearly every animal in the world the instinct to form tribes, arranged in a hierachy, with a leader. We are group animals. The fact we look to a leader to take care of us is one of the most firmly established principles in psychology (if you don't remember anything else, remember that).

When anyone transgresses the taboos of a tribe, they can, and often are, ostracised or even expelled. An example? Say some people oppose a war. What happens? They are often called cowards and told to leave the country. Who hasn't heard the insult, "You're a coward! If you don't like it here, get out!" People who say such things think they're being patriotic; in reality they're acting like animals. Emotional, irrational, herd animals, prone to the fear and flight activated by propaganda. Individuals think; groups do not, and cannot.

Narcissism is our inborn tendency to see everything as grandiose or devalued, good or bad, with nothing in-between. It's why nearly every tribe in the world -- and nations are just tribes writ large -- called itself "the People," "the Humans," "the Chosen," "the Motherland," "the Fatherland," or "the greatest nation on earth," relegating everyone outside the tribe to a devalued non-people, non-human status (aka "collaterial damage"). No wonder it's so easy to kill the outsiders -- they're just not quite human.

When you combine those three concepts, you have the basis for all propaganda. If a leader of a tribe tells the people their goodness is under attack by insane, evil people who want to destroy them, they will react just like animals and attack. The Nazi propagandist Herman Goering noticed all you had to do to get people to march off to war is for the leaders to tell them they were under attack, denounce protestors as traitors exposing the tribe to danger, and the people would slander, ostracize and expell the protestors, and then tramp straight off to be slaughtered. He said this technique worked in every country of the world.

The Bush administration used exactly this technique to start two wars. Essentially they told the public that our goodness was under attack by insane and evil people who wanted to destroy us. See how it works? Tribalism, emotionalism, and narcissism.

Supporters of the war responded by attacking protestors as traitors -- trying to expell them from the tribe -- and marching off to war. It's altogether too simple, and too easy.

One man everyone should know is Edward L. Bernays, the American disciple and nephew of Sigmund Freud. He was for all practical purposes the founder of modern propaganda techniques.

Bernays despised most people and regarded them as his inferiors, especially because of intellectual or social claims. (See how it works? I just appealed to your emotions, and convinced you Bernays was attacking you. You fell for it, right?)

Bernays not only pretty much founded modern propaganda techniques, but was also the father of modern PR. Although, you could say they are same thing, and that there's really no difference between them.

In his 1928 book, Propaganda, Bernays wrote, "The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country…"

Remember that quote. Burn it into your memory. Bernays thought people should be ruled by an extremely small elite, who should manipulate them through propaganda. That means you. People who believe in the wonders of government, and that it is their friend, should think twice about it.

In another book, In Crystallizing Public Opinion, Bernays wrote how governments and advertisers can "regiment the mind like the military regiments the body." This can be imposed, he said, because of "the natural inherent flexibility of individual human nature," and suggested the "average citizen is the world's most efficient censor. His own mind is the greatest barrier between him and the facts. His own 'logic-proof compartments,' his own absolutism are the obstacles which prevent him from seeing in terms of experience and thought rather than in terms of group reaction."

Bernays also thought "physical loneliness is a real terror to the gregarious animal, and that association with the herd causes a feeling of security. In man this fear of loneliness creates a desire for identification with the herd in matters of opinion."

Bernays claimed that "the group mind does not think in the strict sense of the word…In making up its mind, its first impulse is usually to follow the example of a trusted leader. This is one of the most firmly established principles in mass psychology." What Bernays called the "regimentation of the mind" is accomplished by taking advantage of the human tendency to self-deception [logic-proof compartments], gregariousness [the herd instinct], individualism [exalting their vanity] and the seductive power of a strong leader.

Bernays also expressed the opinion people "have to take sides...[they] must step out of the audience onto the stage and wrestle as the hero for the victory of good over evil." This also means appealing to our narcissism, our inborn tendency to see everything as either good or bad, with little or nothing in-between.

He also noted the need for people to feel as if they belong to something larger than themselves. Again, this also means appealing to our narcissism, such as people claiming they belong to "the greatest nation on earth."

When people consider themselves as part of the Humans (by whatever name they call themselves), they exalt themselves. Still again, those outside the tribe are non-people, "collateral damage."

"Mental habits create stereotypes just as physical habits create certain definite reflex actionism," Bernays wrote. "...these stereotypes or clichés are not necessarily truthful pictures of what they are supposed to portray." Perception is everything, the truth matters little or not at all.

Now, let's boil all this down and see what we have:

Mass Man, the herd, cannot think, and is instead ruled by its feelings. The herd will look to a leader to save it. The best way to accomplish this is for the herd to feel it is under attack. The herd will draw together, expell those who see the truth and protest, and then march off to war.

The full quote from Hermann Goering? "Vote or no vote, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country."

Tell the herd they are the Humans, or the People, or best of all, have God on their side. Paint their enemies as insane and evil. Again, this is appealing to people's narcissism, the tendency to see everything as either good (us) or evil (them). Evoke paranoia and hysteria in them by convincing them the insane evil ones want to conquer and destroy them. What will happen? You can get them to march off to war by the millions, just as Goering noticed. The truth doesn't matter, only the manipulation of perception.

To make it as simple as possible, everything that is needed for a successful propaganda campaign can be summed up in those three aforementioned words: emotionalism, tribalism and narcissism.

We con ourselves we are so advanced. In reality, the human race is stuck in One Million Years BC, except there's no Raquel Welch in a two-piece fur bikini.

I forgot -- there is one other component to sucessful propaganda: keep repeating the message over and over.

So remember, "We live in a post 911 world. Unimaginably evil and democracy hating terrorists want to kill us. Nothing can ever be the same. We are fighting a Long War". Remember, remember, remember...

Politicization Of Iran Intelligence Requested By GOP

This politicization of intelligence is most unseemly considering the damage wrought so far by the same malfeasance regarding Iraq.

Some senior Bush administration officials and top Republican lawmakers are voicing anger that American spy agencies have not issued more ominous warnings about the threats that they say Iran presents to the United States.

If the threat was as bad as these lunatics imagine, the intelligence community would not be keeping the facts of the matter under wraps.

A recent Israeli intelligence report -- forwarded to U.S. intelligence agencies -- claims that Iran may be as close as seven months from having a workable nuke. The most recent U.S. estimate says at least four years.

Needless to say, U.S. intelligence analysts are not buying it.

The kooks are out in force:

"When the intelligence community says Iran is 5 to 10 years away from a nuclear weapon, I ask: 'If North Korea were to ship them a nuke tomorrow, how close would they be then?' said Newt Gingrich, the former Republican speaker of the House of Representatives.

What a ludicrous statement. Even if North Korea had a workable nuke (which contrary to the conventional wisdom--they don't) they could ship these weapons to any country in the world, not just Iran. Under Mr. World War III's rationale, we would be forced to take action against every conceivable enemy just because they might receive a weapon from the DPRK.

The issue at hand is Iran's nuclear program.

The GOP members of the House intelligence committee is moving to further politicize the intelligence regarding the Iranian nuclear program.

A key House committee issued a stinging critique of U.S. intelligence on Iran yesterday, charging that the CIA and other agencies lack "the ability to acquire essential information necessary to make judgments" on Tehran's nuclear program, its intentions or even its ties to terrorism.

The 29-page report, principally written by a Republican staff member on the House intelligence committee who holds a hard-line view on Iran, fully backs the White House position that the Islamic republic is moving forward with a nuclear weapons program and that it poses a significant danger to the United States. But it chides the intelligence community for not providing enough direct evidence to support that assertion.

"American intelligence agencies do not know nearly enough about Iran's nuclear weapons program" to help policymakers at a critical time, the report's authors say. Information "regarding potential Iranian chemical weapons and biological weapons programs is neither voluminous nor conclusive," and little evidence has been gathered to tie Iran to al-Qaeda and to the recent fighting between Israel and Hezbollah in southern Lebanon, they say.

Not good enough for pretextual uses. Go back and look again, the House intelligence committee says.

There is an interesting caveat to their report:

(The report)warns the intelligence community to avoid the mistakes made regarding weapons of mass destruction before the Iraq war, noting that Iran could easily be engaged in "a denial and deception campaign to exaggerate progress on its nuclear program as Saddam Hussein apparently did concerning his WMD programs."

The operative information operation is reflected by the existence of this "study."

Jamal Ware, spokesman for the House intelligence committee, said three staff members wrote the report, but he did not dispute that the principal author was Frederick Fleitz, a former CIA officer who had been a special assistant to John R. Bolton, the administration's former point man on Iran at the State Department. Bolton had been highly influential in the crafting of a tough policy that rejected talks with Tehran.

It is really important to a certain element in Washington that the U.S. attacks Iran. However, the track record of this bunch is shaky at best.

Failure is never an option to these people. It is the only possible outcome of their actions.

Aug 21, 2006

A Nellis Up Our Sleeve

There's more on its way here at SMC on the fascinating role of UCAVs in NGO-trendy African wars and how they are deployed to support per proxy (that is to say, the U.S. and its war on terror) certain corporate conglomorates so as to muscle out their corporate rivals in the ongoing all out dash for some of the goodies of the continent.

Somewhere in all this, Swedish ex prime minister Carl Bildt and Lundin Petroleum have a finger in the pie together with the Chinese but it's a finger that's going to get swatted by our friends at Nellis and their joysticky colleagues. The Chinese just don't have the force projecting UCAV capabilities of the U.S. and it could cost Lundin and their Sino-Euro likes the treasures they covet in the Sudan. But now I'm getting way off track. Back to the future. -M1

Hard on the heels of its July unveiling of the Polecat high altitude research UAV, Lockheed Martin has revealed plans for a diverse range of new unmanned combat aircraft — some bordering on the exotic.

Among them are an unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV) variant of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, a fan-in-wing vertical take-off and landing aircraft known as the Various, a morphing-wing Hunter-Killer, the submarine-launched Cormorant and a hypersonic “deep strike” aircraft called the Falcon.

“This, along with the Polecat, is our way to get back into the unmanned systems business,” said Frank Mauro, director of UAV programs at Lockheed Martin’s Advanced Development Programs unit in Palmdale, Calif., otherwise known as the Skunk Works. “A little of it is playing catch-up; a little of it is leapfrogging forward.”

First up may be the pilotless F-35, which Mauro described as Lockheed Martin’s way of compensating for its absence from the Pentagon’s Joint Unmanned Combat Air Systems (J-UCAS) bid, which aims to provide unmanned strike aircraft for the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Navy.

In operation, manned F-35s would control up to four UCAVs through an aerial wireless Internet setup, Mauro said. This would eliminate the need for satellite communications while allowing the removal of sensors from the drones, which would serve solely as bomb carriers.
Initial plans show the unmanned F-35 retaining its cockpit and canopy, though a follow-on version would eliminate those features and use the space for additional fuel.

“We’re focused on our manned F-35 now,” Mauro said, “but will pick up the unmanned version as interest among the military grows. And, unlike J-UCAS, we have a vehicle flying now.”
Development of the Various, a ducted-fan UAV capable of vertical flight, is at an earlier stage. This aircraft is slated to meet a naval requirement for a 6,000-to-8,000-pound vehicle to replace the Firescout, a UAV based on a light civil helicopter. Wind tunnel testing of Various models is underway, Mauro said, and several wing configurations, including morphing and/or telescoping, are under consideration.

Adjustable wings are a key aspect of the Hunter Killer UCAV, which aims for the ability to dash like a strike aircraft but loiter like a dedicated reconnaissance platform. Achieving a four-to-one ratio between the high speed and the low-end is the goal, Mauro said.

Lockheed Martin is partnering with the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) on Morphing Vehicle technology, and plans are to use a small demonstrator to prove that in-flight control can be maintained during the shape-shifting process. Subsequent tests with a larger vehicle are expected to evaluate this approach under mission conditions.

Cormorant, a stealthy, submarine-launched UCAV powered by a pair of Tomahawk cruise missile engines, is also in its first phase. Engineers are seeking to prove that this vehicle — also with morphing wings — can be launched from the missile silo of a converted ballistic missile submarine, fly a mission, and be recovered, perhaps by an unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV).

“They want to see if they can seal the vehicle, crash it into the ocean and get it back into the tube,” Mauro said, adding that the aircraft will land in the water with its wings in the extended position.

Falcon, the hypersonic UCAV, addresses an anticipated Air Force requirement for an unmanned “deep strike” aircraft able to reach anywhere in the world from the continental U.S. in two hours or less. Propulsion is the key to this capability, and Falcon is slated to employ turbine engines that morph into supersonic combustion ramjets, or Scramjets.

Designed around a weapons load of around 16,000 pounds, this Boeing B-52-sized drone could one day fly for 5 hours at Mach 10 (7,612 mph) at the edge of space.
-Excerpt Of An Article At C4ISR

Podcasty News Feeds

Aug 20, 2006

Projecting Loony Лефтиес

Lebanese scholar Gilbert Achcar writes: "Many of you have certainly seen an interview allegedly done with [Hezbollah leader] Hassan Nasrallah by a Turkish radical left newpsaper... I have enquired about it, and a source in Beirut in close touch with Hezbollah has confirmed to me that it is a forgery."

Counterpunch keeps the forgery on its website, despite growing questions about its authenticity. The faux interview is nonetheless interesting because of what it reveals about the romantic illusions some wishful lefties cultivate about radical Islam. Have a whiff.

(I know, this is a useless post too)

Aug 18, 2006

Bombay Sapphire Peekaboo

An acquaintance and arguably one of the world's foremost authorities on assymetric warfare and modern terrorism in the occidental world said quite matter of factly that the London plot did not appear to be an Al Qaeda plot whatsoever.

A psyopy female psychologist buddy postulated (free and frosty alcohol along with loud music was indeed involved in the discussion) that if this plot was anything close to be being the real deal then lead tracking services most likely would've let the terrorists do their stuff and reaped the windfall. It would've been too good an opportunity to bust up. Well that does sound rather conspiratorial so I'll just say Gladio and leave her boozy conjectures to be. She's simply way too hot to be right about such matters of grave import - despite her cool security clearances.

And now for a little article by an ex-career diplomat in the Birdy Nam Nam Foreign Service:

One of the significant contributions to the "war on terror" by Britain's home secretary David Blunkett before his abrupt departure from the Tony Blair cabinet last year was his statement on terrorism in the House of Commons that specifically flagged the possibility of a "dirty bomb" being planted in Britain by terrorists.

That was in November 2002, when preparations were already in an advanced stage for the march to Baghdad. We are still waiting for the dirty bomb and its lethal radiation. The dirty bomb genre, however, provoked two years later a brilliant television series on BBC2 by acclaimed documentary producer Adam Curtis, titled

The Power of Nightmares: The Rise of the Politics of Fear.

Curtis's argument was that much of the threat of international terrorism turns out to be in actuality "a fantasy that has been exaggerated and distorted by politicians ... In an age when all the grand ideas have lost credibility, fear of a phantom enemy is all the politicians have left to maintain their power."

Curtis placed al-Qaeda terrorism in a long line of dramatic panics in Britain's checkered history since the Elizabethan era, which included the arrival of Spanish raiding parties, French revolutionary agitators, anarchists, Bolsheviks, and Irish republicans.

Naturally, Curtis comes readily to mind a week after British authorities arrested some two dozen Muslims on August 10 for plotting to blow up trans-Atlantic flights from United Kingdom to the United States. Not a shred of evidence has since seen the light of day in this Mother of all Dastardly Plots.

Meanwhile, wild stories of new plots in the making are in circulation. The latest was the "breaking news" regarding the emergency landing of an aircraft in Boston on Wednesday due to the tantrums of an "unruly" woman passenger. Last weekend, Michigan police locked up three hapless Palestinian-Americans for allegedly plotting an act of terrorism. The three "terrorists" were caught red-handed purchasing 80 cell phones from a Wal-Mart store.

Michigan police concluded that the cell phones could be used as detonators to blow up the Mackinac Bridge, which connected the peninsula's upper and lower parts. Subsequently it transpired that the three detained "terrorists" bought and sold cell phones to make a living.

The London plot itself is becoming curiouser and curiouser. Reports have appeared that the British security agencies were feeling increasingly uncomfortable that their American counterparts rushed to make out that the alleged plot was linked to al-Qaeda. More importantly, it appears that sources in London have begun distancing themselves from the plot by claiming that the British side was pressured from Washington to go public with the plot despite a lack of evidence and clear and convincing facts whether any conspiracy in fact existed at all.

Not surprisingly, the loudest voices of skepticism about the alleged plot are heard in Pakistan, where of course the public is habitually cynical over anything that goes to the credit of the establishment. This despite the insistent claim that the UK, US and Pakistani security agencies had actively coordinated in thwarting the plot - a scenario that cast Pakistan as a plucky, feisty partner in the "war on terror", quite contrary to the prevailing impression that Islamabad is possibly indulging in doublespeak.

The skeptics in Pakistan feel that the entire plot is a crudely executed hoax by the Bush administration. It was not only the so-called "jihadi" circles in Pakistan that ridiculed the plot but even sections of opinion, which usually put primacy on reasoning. The Pakistani newspaper Daily Times commented editorially, "There is a horrible war going on in Lebanon and it is not unfolding in favor of Israel, US and UK. Iraq has gone bad; Afghanistan is getting worse.

"The Bush-Blair duo is in trouble at home and both need something really big to happen to justify their policies and distract attention from their losses ... the past record of intelligence agencies everywhere suggests they are quite capable of blowing up or underplaying things for better media management of their respective governments' performance. So a bit of skepticism is in order."

Adam Curtis had an explanation for the dilemma facing the saner sections of opinion in times of public hysteria. As he explained two years ago, such plots, when blown up in larger-than-life terms and whipping up an atmosphere of hysteria, have a way of trapping us. In the process, we get "trapped by a fear that is completely irrational".

Indeed, in a poll after the plot story broke, 55% of Americans voiced approval of Bush's handling of terrorism and homeland security. A beaming Bush promptly promised his nervous nation that the terror fight may last for "years to come". Democrats are beginning to accuse the Republicans of using the scare to political advantage ahead of the November elections to the US Congress.

Former US president Bill Clinton said: "They [the Bush administration] seem to be anxious to tie it to al-Qaeda. If that's true, how come we've got seven times as many troops in Iraq as in Afghanistan? I think that Republicans should be very careful in playing politics with this London thing because they're going to have a hard time with the facts."

All the same, it is extraordinary that the mainstream media in the US could so willingly suspend their disbelief over the patchy official claims that the plot was a "real idea" of cosmic significance. Furthermore, they dutifully ran "expert opinions" by commentators on the alleged plotters' al-Qaeda connections. Not a single mainstream newspaper in the US challenged the plot theory as such - leave alone pointed out the patent gulf between the London plotters' ambition and their ability to pull it off.

It could be that they have succumbed to the "suspiciously circular relationship between the security services and much of the media" (to quote Curtis) in which official briefings become the stuff of dramatic press stories and prompt further briefings and further stories.

At any rate, terrorism thrives on bluff. Think of the horrific bomb blasts in Mumbai last month. Unlike the ethereal London plot, it was tangible; it was verifiable. It was of a piece, by all indications, with the cycle of violence ripping apart India's composite society for the past decade or so since the Babri Mosque was pulled down by vandals incited by Hindu fundamentalists.

Yet, in the wake of the Mumbai blasts, an attempt has been made to link the abhorrent violence to al-Qaeda. As if al-Qaeda is an organized international network. As if it has members or a leader. As if it has "sleeper cells". As if it has corporate-style affiliates and subsidiaries. As if it has a strategy towards India.

Indian media people seem to be unaware that al-Qaeda barely exists at all and that it is more an idea about cleansing the impure world of Islam corrupted by the al-Adou al-Qareeb (Muslim apostates) and al-Adou al-Baeed or the "far enemy" (Israel and the Western powers), through violence sanctioned by religion explicitly for such extraordinary times.

Indian opinion makers seem to believe that countering al-Qaeda justifies a national security objective. Some among them no doubt fancy that a closer "strategic partnership" with the Bush administration becomes possible if only India were to assertively stake claim to be a frontline state in the "war on terror". But there is no way that India can hope to gain entry into the exclusive, charmed circle that comprises the US Central Intelligence Agency, Britain's MI6 and Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence.

The so-called Islamic terror network is the trinity's fabrication. It has become what would be known in intelligence parlance as an "asset" or an "instrument". The "intelligence assets" do enjoy a certain measure of independence and autonomy vis-a-vis their sponsors but that is part of the art of dissimulation. Al-Qaeda has incrementally become then a situation or a chain of events in politics that can arouse a particular emotional reaction instantaneously.

M K Bhadrakumar served as a career diplomat in the Indian Foreign Service for over 29 years, with postings including India's ambassador to Uzbekistan (1995-1998) and to Turkey (1998-2001). But hey, don't let that fool you. Published in ATO

Aug 16, 2006

Condom Alert For Chad de Skank

As we reported previously with great intrepidity, Iranian President Mahmoud Chad Ahmadenijad has a new blog of his own though he appears to roll 4 hour meatballs where we miraculously manage to scrape by with 15 minutes. According to some reports, the blog is singling out Israeli visitors for cyberattacks.

Several Israeli bloggers, including Yael K.’s Step By Step, which I read regularly, report that if you access the Ahmadenijad blog from an Israeli IP address the site sends you a little gift, a cyberattack in the form of a virus or trojan (reports vary) designed to exploit an Internet Explorer vulnerability.

The attack is smart enough to mostly ignore IP addresses from anywhere other than Israel, though it has been reported to have been triggered from Spain as well.
-Excerpt From A Post At O'Reilly Network, Linux Devcenter

Thanks for the tip-off, Monsieur Effwit

Aug 15, 2006

Failure Wants More

As a result of the Lebanon war, the recently increased insecurity in Iraq, and the continuing troubles in Afghanistan, there will be those in Washington who will urge immediate action against Iran. From such a perspective, the Israeli failure in Lebanon will result in a steady increase in Iranian influence across the region and a likely acceleration in its nuclear programme.

Any such development remains utterly unacceptable to the Bush administration as well as Israel, so it may be better to contemplate military action against those nuclear facilities now rather than later. Moreover, such action would be a powerful diversion in the run-up to the mid-term elections to Congress in November 2006. The guns of August might yet become the bombs of October.

In the thirty-six hours before the uneasy ceasefire in Lebanon took hold on the morning of 14 August 2006, Israel poured thousands of troops into southern Lebanon and was still conducting air raids across the country two hours before the deadline. Hizbollah, in turn, fired 250 missiles into northern Israel in the final eighteen hours, demonstrating that even these huge Israeli troop movements were not sufficient to force even a temporary halt to the missile threat.

The main reason for the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) action was to enable its troops to systematically search the territory they had occupied in order to find and destroy the numerous underground bunkers, stores and munitions dumps established by Hizbollah. This would severely weaken the organisation, at least in terms of its military capabilities south of the Litani river, giving the Israeli government and the IDF some reason to claim an effective result from the month-long war. It is therefore surprising that reliable sources within the IDF are calling for a rapid withdrawal from southern Lebanon to positions very close to the border.

This withdrawal is, admittedly, planned to take up to ten days and is dependent on Lebanese army units being available. In turn, however, it means "that the IDF will not be conducting searches for Hezbollah fighters or arms caches in the areas that it has captured over the last few days, which the army defined as 'the heart of the operational campaign' against Hezbollah" (see Amos Harel & Aluf Benn, "Tense calm across Lebanon as UN-brokered truce takes effect", Ha'aretz, 14 August 2006).

Israel's belief in the value of an early withdrawal is underpinned by knowledge that Hizbollah remains highly effective; if the ceasefire were to break down with up to 20,000 IDF personnel embedded across much of southern Lebanon, the result would be a situation where the IDF would suffer heavy casualties while Hizbollah would still retain most of its missiles. This is just one more indicator of the problems facing the Olmert government, now that calls for Olmert's resignation are increasing.

More generally, it is indicative of the concern among neo-conservatives and other pro-Israeli groups in Washington that Israel has failed to use the political and military support offered by the United States to decisively defeat Hizbollah (see "The US and Israel: a marriage under pressure" (7 August 2006).

The concern in Washington is mirrored in criticisms in Israel that the Bush administration actively encouraged the Olmert government to take action against Hizbollah. While the United States did not specifically urge Israel to respond to the Hizbollah border raid, this was little more than an incident that set up a pre-planned operation. Moreover, at a key meeting between Bush and Olmert at the White House on 23 May, seven weeks before the start of the war, Bush is reported to have made clear his support for Israeli military action against Hizbollah (see Robert Parry, "Israeli Leaders Fault Bush on War" Consortium News, 13 August 2006).

It now appears, even if some quarters in Israel may dispute it, that the Israeli action against Hizbollah was not far short of a joint operation (see Seymour Hersh, "Watching Lebanon", New Yorker, 14 August 2006). The US air force (Usaf), in particular, is intensely interested in how the Israeli air force handled the issue of targeting the numerous Hezbollah bunkers, some of them buried forty metres or more underground (see "The Lebanon war's pivotal moment" 11 August 2006). It is widely believed that Hizbollah has used Iranian and even North Korean technology and experience in constructing these facilities. Depending on how such an operation went, the Usaf might therefore get highly useful information that it could use in planning operations against Iran.

The Iran factor

The actual experience on the ground makes clear that the original expectation in Washington has backfired in a remarkable way. If Israel had succeeded in its aerial "shock and awe" campaign against Hizbollah, this would in principle have undercut Iran's ability and opportunity to respond to an attack on its nuclear facilities by encouraging action by its Hizbollah surrogate against Israel. The Bush administration would therefore have solved one of its key problems, thus diminishing too Iran's wider prestige across the region.

Instead, the opposite has happened and Israel's failure to disarm Hizbollah is in consequence also a failure of United States policy towards Iran (see "Hit Beirut, target Tehran" 21 July 2006). If the Israeli military, with all its air power, modern equipment and weaponry and direct experience of warfare cannot defeat a guerrilla force of a few thousand in a small country, what is the chance of an Israeli or American attack on Iran avoiding an Iranian-inspired response that makes the continued US occupation of Iraq unsustainable?

The implication is that US or Israeli action against Iran's nuclear facilities becomes much more problematic at precisely the time when Iran's standing in the region has been much improved by the war in Lebanon. Yet Iran still remains the real enemy for the Bush administration, with the need to confront Tehran's nuclear ambitions being as strong as ever.
-An Excerpt Of The Article An Unfinished War By Paul Rogers, Oxford Research Group

Aug 14, 2006

Who Self-Fulfills Whose Prophecy First?

Here's a truly creepy piece. It's not creepy because we believe in any promises of prophecy per se, such as those suggestively presented by Joel Rosenberg below. Of course when employed as an action plan by zealots or cynics pandering to frothing snake kissing cretins, prophesy can take on certain aspects of relevance in the domain of politics. Otherwise, it is best left to the coddlings of the Taleban, Mormons, and full-service bookies. I'm certain Steve Forbes and his fortune would agree.

Joel's piece is creepy because he, with flaccid Limbaughesque authority, embarks on a rigorously opportunistic treatment of prophetic claims that he perfectly twists to either suggest the wisdom of a preemptive strike on Iran or, and much more likely so, aid in setting up the dramaturgic framework with which we are to interpret developments should we launch a pretexting false flag operation designed to provide casus belli and wag us justifiably into war as Iran is made to appear as if they were first strike hasteners of prophecy.

God forbid Hannitized Joe ain't just up to wishful and quixotic speculation as usual but is indeed a contracted stagehand tasked to pen a provocative piece that conditions the audience to swallow a narrative and its leading plot points that lie in pregnant wait to be unleashed upon us and Iran.

Suffice it to say, Iran can't touch us unless we reach out and touch Iran first. Iranian President Mahmoud Chad Ahmadinejad knows that all too well, despite his dismal taste in cardigans and hair cuts. Chad might secretly jerk off in the presidential john while listening to pirated Britney Spear's ballads and leafing through confiscated back issues of Stern, but he isn't insane or irrational. Rochau's Realpolitik translates quite nicely into the Farsi of this particular Islamist and he has shown ample proof of that to date.

So the question begs to be asked, "Does your handler pay better than Tyndale House or Hannity, Joel baby?"

Is Iran planning an apocalyptic strike against Israel and/or the United States for August 22? If so, what should the U.S. do to protect Americans and our ally? Such questions are worrying a growing number of officials in the White House, at the CIA, and at the Pentagon, and for good reason.

As a devout Shiite Muslim, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is telling colleagues in Tehran that he believes the end of the world is rapidly approaching. He also believes that the way to hasten the coming of the Islamic Messiah known as the “Hidden Imam” or the “Mahdi” is to launch a catastrophic global jihad, first against Israel (the “little Satan”) and then against the U.S. (the “Great Satan”).

In recent days, Ahmadinejad and his advisers have said that Iran will answer the world regarding the future of its nuclear program on August 22. That happens to be a very significant date for Muslims: It is the anniversary of the supposed “night flight” by Mohammed from Saudi Arabia to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem to heaven and back again. There is a worry that Ahmadinejad is planning some sort of apocalyptic attack as his ‘“response” on August 22. If so, time is short and the clock is ticking.

It is hard for many Americans to imagine an Iranian leader (or any other world leader) [Oh really?!] actually trying to bring about the end of the world by launching a nuclear attack to destroy millions of Jews and Christians.

Bernard Lewis of Princeton University, arguably the world’s foremost expert on Middle Eastern history, wrote an essay for the Wall Street Journal last Tuesday warning that Ahmadinejad’s apocalyptic objectives could lead to a “cataclysmic” attack on August 22. Lewis observed that there it is not possible to say with any certainty that such an attack is planned, but he felt compelled to explain to Americans just how dangerous Ahmadinejad’s thinking is, especially in light of Islamic, Jewish, and Christian “end times” theology, such as the “War of Gog and Magog” and “Armageddon.” How, Lewis asked, can you negotiate with a man who believes it is his religious duty and mission to bring about the end of the world?
How can you deter a man who wants to die and go to paradise, but believes he won’t actually die in such a war because Allah is on his side to kill millions of “infidels”?

But ’Lewis himself is suggesting that Iran may be planning “cataclysmic” attacks to begin as early as August 22. That doesn’t leave a lot of time for long-term planning. We all hope and pray that August 22 is not the day Ahmadinejad has chosen to launch the apocalypse, but there is little doubt in the White House and at the CIA that the Iranian leader is feverishly trying to build, buy, or steal nuclear weapons, and that he will quite likely use them once he has them.

All of this raises very serious questions for the president and the nation. How much time do we have to pursue a diplomatic track with Iran? At what point do we have to conclude that negotiations are going nowhere? Are we prepared to live with a nuclear-armed Iran? If so, how? If not, what is the president prepared to do to protect Americans and our allies from an Iranian nuclear-strike, or nuclear blackmail?

Today, the country is deeply divided over whether using military force in Iraq was the right thing to do. But the Iranian nuclear threat is now far worse than the Iraqi threat of having or obtaining weapons of mass destruction was then. President Bush has a decision to make and precious little time to make it. For let’s be clear: should Iran go nuclear on this president’s watch, all the gains made to date in the War on Terror will be wiped out overnight. That is not a legacy this president wants, nor one this nation can afford.

A Jumbled And Tumbled Excerpt Of An Article By Joel Rosenberg For The National Review

Joel C. Rosenberg
, a one-time aide to former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Deputy Prime Minister Natan Sharansky, is a New York Times best-selling author of Middle East-based political thrillers.

As a communications strategist, Mr. Rosenberg has helped clients in national political campaigns, political conventions, economic conferences and the Middle East Peace Summit at Camp David.

Aug 13, 2006

Chad's Got A New Blog - Iranian President Goes Technocrati

This has to beat Bob Dylan's MySpace page in countercharacter web behavior.

Check out President of Iran Mahmood Chad Ahmadinejad's new blog. Click on the little UK-USA hybrid flag up in the right-hand corner - it links to a version in English.

You might however want to check out a nifty little service called Tor first.

Hersh: Lebanon Is Warm Up For Iran War

Investigative reporter Seymour Hersh says that the U.S. and Israel coordinated the air war against Hezbollah in Lebanon to destroy the Shiite militia's capability to respond to a U.S. attack against Iran.

The Bush Administration was closely involved in the planning of Israel's retaliatory attacks. President Bush and Vice-President Dick Cheney were convinced, current and former intelligence and diplomatic officials told me, that a successful Israeli Air Force bombing campaign against Hezbollah's heavily fortified underground-missile and command-and-control complexes in Lebanon could ease Israel's security concerns and also serve as a prelude to a potential American pre-emptive attack to destroy Iran's nuclear installations, some of which are also buried deep underground. ...

According to a Middle East expert with knowledge of the current thinking of both the Israeli and the U.S. governments, Israel had devised a plan for attacking Hezbollah -- and shared it with Bush Administration officials -- well before the July 12th kidnappings. ...

A Pentagon consultant said that the Bush White House "has been agitating for some time to find a reason for a pre-emptive blow against Hezbollah." He added, "it was our intent to have Hezbollah diminished, and now we have someone else doing it." ...

Earlier this summer, before the Hezbollah kidnappings, the U.S. government consultant said, several Israeli officials visited Washington, separately, "to get a green light for the bombing operation and to find out how much the United States would bear." The consultant added, "Israel began with Cheney. It wanted to be sure that it had his support and the support of his office and the Middle East desk of the National Security Council." After that, "persuading Bush was never a problem, and Condi Rice was on board," the consultant said.

The initial plan, as outlined by the Israelis, called for a major bombing campaign in response to the next Hezbollah provocation, according to the Middle East expert with knowledge of U.S. and Israeli thinking. Israel believed that, by targeting Lebanon's infrastructure, including highways, fuel depots, and even the civilian runways at the main Beirut airport, it could persuade Lebanon's large Christian and Sunni populations to turn against Hezbollah, according to the former senior intelligence official...

The Israeli plan, according to the former senior intelligence official, was "the mirror image of what the United States has been planning for Iran." ...

Cheney's office supported the Israeli plan, as did Elliott Abrams, a deputy national-security adviser, according to several former and current officials. (A spokesman for the N.S.C. denied that Abrams had done so.) They believed that Israel should move quickly in its air war against Hezbollah. A former intelligence officer said, "We told Israel, 'Look, if you guys have to go, we're behind you all the way. But we think it should be sooner rather than later -- the longer you wait, the less time we have to evaluate and plan for Iran before Bush gets out of office.' " ...

The long-term Administration goal was to help set up a Sunni Arab coalition -- including countries like Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Egypt -- that would join the United States and Europe to pressure the ruling Shiite mullahs in Iran. "But the thought behind that plan was that Israel would defeat Hezbollah, not lose to it," the consultant with close ties to Israel said. ...

Nonetheless, some officers serving with the Joint Chiefs of Staff remain deeply concerned that the Administration will have a far more positive assessment of the air campaign than they should, the former senior intelligence official said. "There is no way that Rumsfeld and Cheney will draw the right conclusion about this," he said. "When the smoke clears, they'll say it was a success, and they'll draw reinforcement for their plan to attack Iran." ...

The crisis will really start at the end of August, the diplomat added, "when the Iranians" -- under a United Nations deadline to stop uranium enrichment -- "will say no."

You heard it here first, folks.