Category Archives: Military

Quote of the day: What’s sauce for the goose. . .


James Bamford is the journalist who’s done  the most to expose the inner workings of the U.S. National Security Agency, and in an essay for Reuters he puts the whole matter of those Clinton email hacks into much-needed perspective:

National attention is focused on Russian eavesdroppers’ possible targeting of U.S. presidential candidates and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Yet, leaked top-secret National Security Agency documents show that the Obama administration has long been involved in major bugging operations against the election campaigns — and the presidents — of even its closest allies.

The United States is, by far, the world’s most aggressive nation when it comes to cyberspying and cyberwarfare. The National Security Agency has been eavesdropping on foreign cities, politicians, elections and entire countries since it first turned on its receivers in 1952. Just as other countries, including Russia, attempt to do to the United States. What is new is a country leaking the intercepts back to the public of the target nation through a middleperson.

There is a strange irony in this. Russia, if it is actually involved in the hacking of the computers of the Democratic National Committee, could be attempting to influence a U.S. election by leaking to the American public the falsehoods of its leaders. This is a tactic Washington used against the Soviet Union and other countries during the Cold War.

In the 1950s, for example, President Harry S Truman created the Campaign of Truth to reveal to the Russian people the “Big Lies” of their government. Washington had often discovered these lies through eavesdropping and other espionage.

Today, the United States has morphed from a Cold War, and in some cases a hot war, into a cyberwar, with computer coding replacing bullets and bombs. Yet the American public manages to be “shocked, shocked” that a foreign country would attempt to conduct cyberespionage on the United States.

Read the rest.

Headline of the day II: An insecurity blanket


Sports in the days of globalized high anxiety, with a screencap of the lead story on the homepage of the London Daily Mail, linking to this story:

BLOG Rio

Chart of the day II: Obama/Clinton war legacy


From the Pew Research Center:

BLOG Asylum

Headline of the day: We are not surprised. . .


From the London Daily Mail:

Trump asked a foreign policy adviser three times in ONE HOUR why U.S. doesn’t use its nuclear weapons

  • Joe Scarborough made the revelation Wednesday on Morning Joe
  • ‘Several months ago, a foreign policy expert…went to advise Donald Trump and three times he asked about the use of nuclear weapons’  
  • The adviser told him Trump at one point asked: ‘If we have them, why can’t we use them?’
  • Former NSA and CIA Director Michael Hayden said on the program that nuclear program was designed for speed, not debate
  • Four-star general says he can’t support Trump because he’s ‘erratic’ 

Headline of the day: Paging Franz Kafka


From the McClatchy Washington Bureau:

Official who oversees whistleblower complaints files one of his own

  • Daniel Meyer says Pentagon retaliated against him over ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ case
  • The case fuels criticism that the whistleblower system is broken
  • Meyer has since moved to key role in Obama effort to overhaul treatment of retaliation complaints

Climate change linked to inter-ethnic conflict


The current presidential campaign, coupled with the controversy over police shootings and the Black Lives Matter movement, have revealed deep inter-ethnic tensions in the U.S., so it should come as now surprise that in nations already plagued by such divisions, the existential crises wrought by climate change can be the match that ignites the powder keg.

From the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research:

Climate disasters like heat-waves or droughts enhance the risk of armed conflicts in countries with high ethnic diversity, scientists found. They used a novel statistical approach to analyze data from the past three decades. While each conflict is certainly the result of a complex and specific mix of factors, it turns out that the outbreak of violence in ethnically fractionalized countries is often linked to natural disasters that may fuel smoldering social tensions. This finding, to be published in the Proceedings of the US National Academy of Sciences, can help in the design of security policies – even more so since future global warming from human-made greenhouse-gas emissions will increase natural disasters and therefore likely also risks of conflicts and migration.

“Devastating climate-related natural disasters have a disruptive potential that seems to play out in ethnically fractionalized societies in a particularly tragic way,” says lead author Carl Schleussner from the Berlin think-tank Climate Analytics and the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK). Almost one quarter of conflicts in ethnically divided countries coincide with climatic calamities, the scientists found; importantly, this is even without taking climate change into account.

“Climate disasters are not directly triggering conflict outbreak, but may enhance the risk of a conflict breaking out which is rooted in context-specific circumstances. As intuitive as this might seem, we can now show this in a scientifically sound way,” says Schleussner, who has also been a research fellow at Humboldt University, Berlin, at the Integrative Research Institute on Transformations of Human-Environment Systems (IRITHESys).

Previous research often either focused on climatic variables such as temperature increase that cannot be directly translated into societal impacts, or has been limited to case studies. The new study moves beyond that by focusing directly on natural disaster-related economic damage data, collected by the international reinsurance market leader Munich Re. Using the mathematical method of event coincidence analysis, this is combined with a conflict dataset established by security research, and a common index for ethnical fractionalization. The study looks at the period 1980-2010.

“We’ve been surprised by the extent that results for ethnic fractionalized countries stick out compared to other country features such as conflict history, poverty, or inequality,” says co-author Jonathan Donges, co-head of PIK’s flagship project on co-evolutionay pathways COPAN. “We think that ethnic divides may serve as a predetermined conflict line when additional stressors like natural disasters kick in, making multi-ethnic countries particularly vulnerable to the effect of such disasters.”

“A very special co-benefit of climate stabilization: peace”

The study cannot provide a risk assessment for specific states. Since armed conflicts and natural disasters are fortunately rare events, data from single countries is necessarily limited and does not suffice for statistical analyses.

“Armed conflicts are among the biggest threats to people, killing some and forcing others to leave their home and maybe flee to far-away countries. Hence identifying ethnic divide and natural disasters as enhancing destabilization risks is potentially quite relevant,” says co-author Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. “Human-made climate change will clearly boost heatwaves and regional droughts. Our observations combined with what we know about increasing climate-change impacts can help security policy to focus on risk regions.” Several of the world’s most conflict-prone regions, including North and Central Africa as well as Central Asia, are both exceptionally vulnerable to human-made climate change and characterized by deep ethnic divides. “So our study adds evidence,” Schellnhuber concludes, “of a very special co-benefit of climate stabilization: peace.”

Article: Schleussner, C.-F., Donges, J.F., Donner, R.V., Schellnhuber, H.J. (2016): Armed-conflict risks enhanced by climate-related disasters in ethnically fractionalized countries [open access]. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (Early Edition, EE).

Conventional Wisdom: Humor & Weimar America


As the GOP convention winds to a close, a video take on the event and the election.

We begin with a brutally frank assessment of the Republican convention from Lewis Black, during a guest sport on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.

And he’s got the best idea yet on what to do with the two November contenders:

Lewis Black On The Election: “It’s A Social Experiment”

Program notes:

The comedian and star of “Back in Black” on Broadway suggests that by choosing between two deeply unpopular presidential candidates, voters are participating in a grand social experiment.

The election as emerging fascism fueled by both parties

Next up, a Paul Jay interview with journalist and former Berkeleyan Robert Scheer on the emerging fascism of Weimar America, and the way both parties have worked to bring it about.

From The Real News Network:

Robert Scheer: Neofascist Trump or Corporate Hawk Clinton Are No Choice at All

From the transcript:

JAY: So let’s start with question one. Is this just a kind of eccentric right populist, and another variance of the Republican Party? Or is this something that’s gone further into what you can call a new authoritarianism, developing neofascism, or such?

SCHEER: Well, it’s precisely a neofascism, and I think we should explain, particularly to younger people, what we mean by this. Because it’s not just throwing around some frightening word. But we’ve had this phenomenon. We have it right now in Europe. We have it where you’re–basically what you’re, what you had under the rise of Mussolini and Hitler, in Italy and Germany.

And what you’re really talking about is scapegoating real problems, there are real problems, you don’t get fascist movements taking over, rising to power, without people being in pain. Hurting. The economy in shambles, their aspirations are limited, they’re worried about their future. And we have a situation now in the United States that is increasingly resembling a kind of post-Weimar Germany. It’s neofascism, it’s not fascism. But basically, people are perplexed: why is life not getting better? Why is income disparity more glaring? Why did my $38 an hour job in [inaud.] or mining disappear, and now I have to work for $7, $8, $9 an hour. What about the benefits I thought I had? What about my ability to send my kid to college?

So we have lowered expectations in America. We have a great sense of pain. And it’s not, you know, just one region and one group of people. And it’s in that atmosphere that you can basically have one of two narratives to respond. You had the Bernie Sanders narrative that said yeah, we got real problems, here. Income inequality is getting worse. The good jobs are not there. The benefits are not there. And we’re going to propose a progressive alternative. And that’s why Bernie Sanders, you know, almost knocked Hillary Clinton out of the box, because Hillary Clinton represented the establishment that had enabled this kind of pain out there.

On the Republican side, Trump did something amazing. He wiped out the whole Republican establishment. He did it up from Maine to Alabama. And he was able to do it across the country because people are hurting. They’re not fools, they’re not desperate to back a fool. What they are desperate about is having a good life for their kids, for themselves, and they’re worried. And so this demagogue of the right comes along with a neofascist message, and by that I mean precisely blaming the undocumented worker, you know, blaming people who don’t have your religion, or gay people, or minorities, or something of that sort. Blaming them for the problems that people with power have caused.

And that’s the key ingredient of neofascism, is to distract people from the real origin of the problems, and make them think it’s the undocumented Mexican worker, which is absurd. They’re not the people who have destroyed housing in America. They’re not the people who did the collateralized debt obligations and credit default swaps and all the junk that Goldman Sachs and others did that brought the economy down. And to blame some guy who’s crossed the border, or some woman who’s crossed the border and is trying to clean a house or help raise a kid there for your problems. . .is absurd.

And Michael Moore declares Trump will be the winner

And he gives a plausible rationale for his analysis in this special convention of HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher.

Also featured in Tony Schwartz, the man who really wrote Donald Trump’s The Art of the Deal and who has proclaimed that Trump’s victory in November would herald the end of civilization:

Bill Maher Live RNC Special Edition: July 20

Program notes:

Bill Maher and his guests – Michael Moore, Dan Savage, Joy Reid, and Tony Schwartz – discuss the 2016 Republican National Convention during this special edition of Real Time.