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2-25-03: Are war mongers worse than terrorists? YES

Are successful war mongers worse than successful terrorists? Yes-- if judgment is to be based on the numbers of dead and wounded incurred by war as opposed to terrorism throughout history. The numbers still cast war in a worse light than terrorism even if all the combatant casualties are removed from the numbers, leaving only deaths and injuries involving innocent civilian men, women, and children.

Indeed, it might be difficult to find very many true modern wars at all which killed and injured as few people as the terrorist attacks of 9-11-01 on America.

I use the "modern" qualification because the further back into antiquity you go, the easier it'll be to find wars which had relatively few casualties, simply because the human population was much smaller then, the armies far fewer in number of soldiers, the weapons were often less lethal, etc., etc.

Speaking only of American casualties in wars of the 20th century, there were 58,000 in Vietnam, 54,000 in Korea, 405,000 in WW II, and 116,000 in WW I. The total human casualties of these conflicts were much, much larger, with the total death toll for World Wars I and II combined, including combatants from all sides, and civilians, and deaths caused directly and indirectly by the conflicts, estimated to be around 36 million.

Speaking of non-American casualties in more recent conflicts, some 200,000+ Iraqis are estimated to have lost their lives due to the 1991 Persian Gulf war. And the American toll of that war? 8,000 Gulf War vets have died, and over 100,000 suffer from Gulf War syndrome today.

By contrast, the death toll from 9-11-01 in America-- one of the most 'successful' terrorist attacks in history-- stands at around 3000.

-- 'Minimal' U.S. Combat Death Toll Seen in Iraq War By Will Dunham; January 05, 2003; Reuters

"We now have it in our power to have a magnitude-8 or -9 war...After a war of magnitude 9.8, no one would say anything at all." [because everyone would be dead]

-- Statistics of Deadly Quarrels by Brian Hayes; Computing Science; American Scientist; January-February, 2002

-- '100,000+ victims of Gulf War syndrome'; ABC News

-- 2 of 5 Gulf War vets on disability

-- The 220,00 Casualties No One Speaks About (by Stanley Heller) - Media Monitors Network

As many as 205,000 Iraqis died as a result of 1991 Persian Gulf war.

-- FIRST IRAQ WAR BODY-COUNT UPDATE; citing this BusinessWeek article; found on or about February 13, 2003

Of course, when I say terrorism here, I'm referring to terrorism perpetrated by relatively small groups like Al Qaeda rather than full-blown nation-states. In some cases though, I must admit it can be difficult to discern between the two, except by the sheer scale of the killings. The 'cold war' proxy fights between the USA and Soviet Union generated enormous numbers of casualties over many years and in many locales, as well as encouraged various outbreaks of independent anarchy, mass murder, and ethnic cleansing across the globe. In many cases the USA and USSR themselves trained or advised and armed terrorists or so called cold war 'freedom fighters'-- such as Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein, whom were both supported by America at various times (bin Laden to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan, Hussein to fight against Khomeni-led Iran).

If only the financial costs are accounted for, war still comes out looking much worse than terrorism in virtually all comparisions. For often anywhere from tens of thousands to millions of people are displaced by war, often losing everything they own as well. The damage and destruction to industry and public infrastructure is also usually catastrophic for locals.

So who's worse? Terrorists or war mongers? As of early 2003 the answer seems crystal clear.

Newz&Viewz Contents

2-20-03: Possible downsides to American hubris: the tables could turn on the US literally overnight

The world's sole superpower can today afford to insult and harass its friends, bribe the reluctant, and pretty much bully everyone with its military and economic might. But all that could change literally overnight.

-- Bush Bullies the World

"any country that doesn't go along with us will be paying a very heavy price"

-- U.S. on diplomatic warpath

-- Bush's Dollar Diplomacy

-- Rumsfeld puts Germany in one category with Cuba and Libya in remarks this week that have outraged many Germans

-- It's hard to insult people and enlist them as allies at the same time

-- U.S. Lawmakers Weigh Actions to Punish France, Germany (washingtonpost.com)

-- US to punish German 'treachery'

-- 'Greg Palast suggests a Bush intermediary brought Tony Blair into line by threatening the British economy with similar sabotage'

-- Building a 'Coalition of the Coerced'

Yes, there's quite a few things which could take the US down many pegs in power and stature in the world, and with practically no warning.

Sure, it may be hard to envision anything doing more damage to global US credibility, prestige, and influence as the Bush Administration has so far managed since 9-11-01. But believe me, such possibilities do exist.

Here's the short list, presented in random order:

A: America could suffer a crisis of confidence in its government and financial systems which crashed its markets, depleted its reserves, and caused a collapse in the value of the dollar.

If the US government failed to stem the tide quickly, America could plunge into an economic depression, possibly not to emerge again for years.

Note that such a crisis occurs fairly frequently on the world stage. The US has luckily managed to avoid such a disaster for decades (as of early 2003), but there's no guarantee that its luck will last.

The USA itself may still be vulnerable to experiencing economic depressions in the present or future. There's no clear way to guarantee they won't occur. All we have available are clues from past experience about how we might minimize the frequency and severity of economic downturns.

-- Could We Face Another Depression? By Christopher Farrell; BusinessWeek; The McGraw-Hill Companies Inc. ; OCTOBER 19, 2001

"derivatives are financial weapons of mass destruction, carrying dangers that, while now latent, are potentially lethal"

-- Avoiding a 'Mega-Catastrophe'; Fortune

-- Apocalypse is nigh, Buffett tells Berkshire faithful

-- Greenspan warns big trade gaps can be disruptive; Forbes

-- The 20th Century Was Probably Lucky; Businessweek

"We won't be putting money into a society which is not transparent and [is] corrupt, and I suspect other countries won't either."

-- US President George W. Bush, 2002

-- EU gives more aid to Arafat in defiance of Bush by Suzanne Goldenberg; June 28, 2002; The Guardian

"...a state cannot be based on a foundation of terror or corruption...a...state must be based on the principles that are critical to freedom and prosperity: democracy and open markets, the rule of law, transparent and accountable administration, and respect for individual liberties and civil society." -- US President George W. Bush, 2002

-- a jaundiced eye - the weblog, found on or about 5-8-02; citing the New York Times at http://nytimes.com/2002/05/02/politics/02CND-PREX.html

"Fifty-one percent of 280 fund managers...said...that U.S. earnings are the worst in the world when it comes to predictability, volatility and transparency."

-- Pierre Belec, Reuters; 2002

-- Not Buying the U.S. Earnings Story By Pierre Belec; Jun 22, 2002;Yahoo! /Business - Reuters

-- Dollar near 4yr lows vs euro in Europe after Snow ; Reuters

Like many of the other cataclysms listed here, this too could take place with breathtaking speed. One day average Americans could be going about with their hum drum daily routines, and the next, they could find word of mass layoffs, runs on the banks, and declaration of martial law in many cities.

If the crisis was prolonged, America could find itself going the way of Nazi Germany, with a loss of its prosperity, democracy, and more.

Note that one of the main ways a country gets out of such trouble is with help from its friends. After WW I Germany had few friends due to its previous aggression and policies. The resulting greater span and depth of economic and political agony for its citizens paved the way for Hitler's rise to power.

But such history isn't relevant to the US, right?

B: A massive solar flare could strike our hemisphere square on, lasting only a few moments, but effectively destroying 99% of our electronics in use and storage, leaving us with only a few sparse military installations up and running, and all else dead as a doornail. This could be like the mother of all electro-magnetic pulses-- phenomena which can kill unshielded electronic circuitry over vast distances.

No one really knows if or when such a strike could occur, as we've only had roughly a hundred years of experience with widespread electrical circuits and solar flares, and just around 50 years with more delicate electronics. So for all we know a killer flare like this may splash Earth every 100+ years or so, and we're about due.

Much of the entire western hemisphere could be shut down for months, maybe years afterwards. The US might be left virtually defenseless, with no air force or mechanized ground forces, or even much in the way of communications. The world almost certainly would suffer another Great Depression in the wake of such an event. In the hours and days after the flare, as the implications sank in, quite a few countries spared from the blast might begin laying plans to pillage the US, or conquer its territory. We'd still have working small firearms and grenades, but those WW I type implements would be of little use against the 1990s and 21st century equipment our enemies would still possess. Sure, we'd still have nuclear subs, aircraft carrier groups, air force bases and maybe 80,000 well equipped troops on the other side of the world. But they'd have to race home to defend us against who knows what. And bring most all the supplies and spare parts they needed from those remote bases too-- as nothing at home would work anymore, and they certainly could expect no resupply any time soon.

Keep in mind there'd be a humanitarian crisis of unheard of proportions happening in the US, Canada, Mexico, and much of South America, with no electricity, no heat, no refrigeration, no air conditioning, no phones, no radios, no TVs, no automobiles or trucks (that depended on electronic ignitions; older models would soon stop too due to fuel shortages), no running factories, no restocking of grocery stores or gas stations, etc., happening for the foreseeable future. Millions might die of simple thirst within weeks, tens of millions of starvation within months. More tens of millions would die from the spread of disease, as the landscape became filled with decaying bodies and what meager food and water supplies remained became tainted.

In such an instance, perhaps only our friends in Europe, Asia, or Africa, plus the remnants of our armed forces left in the eastern hemisphere, would stand between us and our historical end. Let us hope such an episode doesn't occur anytime soon, as we've been treating lots of folks pretty shabbily lately.

CNN carried reports about solar flares on or about 4-9-97

Related reference from 5-23-98 Newz&Viewz: Staring at the Sun, 9 April 1998, the Guardian Online

-- Massive attack (e-bomb and countermeasures)

-- E-bomb may see first combat use in Iraq; New Scientist

C: The super volcano at Yellowstone could explode, perhaps plunging the entire world into a nuclear winter event lasting for several years, but especially decimating the USA itself. Due to the catastrophic impact on our economy and society, we'd likely lose our superpower status in many respects virtually overnight, and maybe never fully recover again. Yellowstone is way overdue to explode this way, and could happen any time, with possibly no warning at all.

Professor Bill McGuire, of the Benfield Greig Hazard Research Centre at University College, London (author of Apocalypse! A natural history of global disasters) has speculated that an explosion of the Yellowstone supervolcano/caldera could take place, devastating USAmerica and adversely affecting temperatures (via cooling) and so crop yields possibly worldwide for as much as four to five years afterwards (with luck only the northern hemisphere would be so affected). This is close to a Doomsday scenario for humanity, which would at the very least lead to big changes in the political and economic landscape of Earth.

Such an eruption could have regional or global effects similar to that of a large asteroid or comet impact, or global nuclear war.

The volcano at Yellowstone in USAmerica is overdue for eruption, by perhaps 40,000 years (it seems to go off about every 600,000 years on average, with the last eruption being around 640,000 years ago).

Since around two million BC there has apparently been two such supervolcanic eruptions worldwide about every 100,000 years. The most recent one is believed to have been that of Toba in Sumatra around 72,000 BC.

-- Supervolcanoes could trigger global freezeBy Alex Kirby, BBC News Sci /Tech, 3 February, 2000

It may be that USAmericans would have no warning at all of a major eruption at Yellowstone-- at best they might have only weeks to months of warning during which to prepare. The 72,000 BC eruption of a similar system cooled world temperatures by between 3 and 5 degrees overall.

-- Do 'Supervolcanoes' Threaten World? By Aries Keck, Discovery News Brief, Feb. 3, 2000

-- Bulge in lake worries YNP scientists

Land-based volcanoes tend to be more dangerous regarding the risk of sudden explosive eruptions than sea-based volcanoes, due to differences in the silicon composition of the liquid rock involved.

-- BBC News | SCI/TECH | Why volcanoes explode By Dr Damian Carrington , 1 April, 2000

The chance of huge volcanic eruptions affecting humanity in the near future may be significantly greater than that for comet or asteroid impacts. There's possibly around 600 volcanoes around the world which are active or could become so anytime.

-- Scientists Study Threat of Huge Volcanic Eruptions, Yahoo!/Reuters, December 15, 2000

D: A monstrous tsunami (tidal wave) could wash away the eastern seaboard of the US, with maybe only hours of warning at best. Erase the east coast of the US and you take away a good third if not more of the economy in one whack. A similar event could occur to the west coast, with like consequences. An American economic depression would almost certainly ensue and last for months, likely dragging down the rest of the world with it, making it that much harder for anyone to recover.

Perhaps worst of all, these need not be 'natural' events. They could possibly be artificially instigated via various methods which I will not describe here.

-- Coming One Day Near You -- a Mega-Tsunami By Michael Christie; Feb 25,2002; Yahoo!/Reuters

-- Tsunami Could Hit East Coast; Discovery.com News Briefs/Associated Press; May 2, 2000

-- Scientists Say Conditions for Tsunami May Exist in U.S. By Bruce Dunford; July 18, 2000; ABC News.com/The Associated Press

E: A well executed biological attack could exploit the unique bioterror vulnerability the US doesn't share with any other developed nation: its large population lacking health insurance. This could allow a horrific contagion to be thoroughly entrenched in the country before the authorities even realized there was a problem. As much as half the insured population could become infected as well before the authorities got a handle on it. The resulting massive quarantine efforts and panic could bring the majority of the US economy grinding to a halt, plunging it into deep recession and drastically weakening the country in just about every way for years to come. Alternatively, the biological threat might instead come from an accident or unwise experimentation with the USA's own secret weapons research (which seems to be what happened with the anthrax mailings soon after the 9-11-01 terrorist attacks).

In a reversal of the tsunami event discussed before, a biological plague which decimates the US need not be man-made: it could be natural in origin. Again, the US is unique among developed nations in its vulnerability to such outbreaks. Plus modern air travel would allow a contagion to spread worldwide in hours, and auto, air, and train travel nationwide would futher aid the diffusion; especially in a highly mobile society like the US.

The last time the US suffered a significant natural outbreak of deadly disease like this was the 1918 Spanish flu.

-- Report: U.S. Still Vulnerable (washingtonpost.com)

-- In U.S., Terrorism's Peril Undiminished (washingtonpost.com)

-- Unprepared for Smallpox (washingtonpost.com)

-- Vaccine Shortage: Study Exposes Nation's 'Patchwork' System; Many Doctors Scrambling To Help Children; Science Daily

Americans are more at risk from bioterror attacks than the citizens of any other developed nation on Earth due to the simple fact so many Americans have no health insurance.

"Their lack of insurance is a known risk to their own health, but it must now also be recognized as a risk to the nation's health"

-- Dr. Matthew Wynia of the American Medical Association and Lawrence Gostin of Georgetown University

-- Health experts worry uninsured may spread bioterror germs; The Associated Press/Nando Media /Nando Times; May 30, 2002

Even when a sick uninsured person does seeks help at a US hospital, they tend to receive a lower quality of care and less attention than the insured, both in cases considered routine or as emergencies-- and so a dangerous contagion from an as yet unreported bioterror attack would have that much more opportunity to spread throughout a community.

-- Lack of Insurance Hurting Americans' Health: Report By Todd Zwillich; May 21, 2002; Yahoo!/Reuters Health

-- Ready or not...by Nell Boyce, From New Scientist magazine, 29 January 2000

Human and pig influenza viruses mixed genetically to produce the deadly 1918 Spanish flu. History has not seen the last of such pandemics.

-- Pig, Human Viruses Triggered 1918 Flu Pandemic - Researchers By Will Dunham; Yahoo!/Reuters; September 6 2001

-- Flu pandemic a “global threat”

-- 'Bird flu' death in Hong Kong raises fears; New Scientist

-- A drug-resistant superbug that spreads by skin contact is infecting thousands of people across the US; New Scientist

'airliner passenger cabins are places where infectious disease and respiratory illness spread among people more often, and more easily, than in other environments'; Washington Post

F: A well planned cyber-attack on US systems could cripple vital infrastructure for hours or days, causing many disruptions. Under come circumstances critical records and data could be lost, causing perhaps weeks of problems in things like the stock market, and the operations of many major US corporations. If timed along with shrewd manipulations of currency and commodity markets, immense financal repercussions could follow. Related attacks upon other, physical targets like nuclear plants and dams around the same time could make things still worse with mass panic, and the government forced to declare martial law. This could lead to a historic shift in perceptions of US strength and stability which would dog the US economy for years afterwards. It could also embolden US enemies to exploit the crises to do things which would have been unthinkable before. Tom Clancy wrote up a scenario much like this in one of his novels (he also wrote of commercial airliners being rammed into buildings before it happened on 9-11-01).

-- Worm spread worldwide in 10 minutes - Feb. 5, 2003

-- Web-based attacks could create chaos in the physical world

-- Al Qaeda Oil Plot Could Cripple Economy

G: Faster-than-expected climate change could so disrupt US crop yields and cause the epidemic spread of tropical diseases like malaria to sweep across America as to cause widespread health emergencies and economic declines simultaneously, even as the US was forced to import massive quantities of food to make up for the shortfall. Freak weather patterns and abnormally strong storms would add to the malaise and damage, leading to huge regions of the US being declared disaster areas, and all America's resources being severely strained.

H: A strike from a certain size of comet or asteroid on US territory, and in a certain location, could devastate the nation as bad or worse than the Yellowstone eruption described before. The Earth may well be overdue for a strike of this magnitude, just from natural causes.

A comet is the more likely naturally moving object to hit us with the least warning.

But again, a powerful strike from space could also be arranged artificially, with careful calculations and one or more space launches from Earth. The more time allowed between initiation and actual strike itself, the fewer resources required to get the ball rolling.

-- A metallic asteroid may have coincided with the fall of Rome, says Duncan Steel

Sources include an article about the Hale-Bopp comet from "the Age" (on or around 3-7-97), a New York Times article about Los Alamos National Lab scientists running a sophistocated simulation of an impact from space (datestamp 1-8-98), "Scientific Debate Rages Over Danger of Asteroid; Interception Possible", March 13, 1998, The New York Times, FYI Earth faces potentially devastating calamities every day By Michael Cabbage, Knight Ridder Newspapers, 4-13-98, the Kansas City Star

Using nuclear detonations to manuever an asteroid into position to target a location on Earth with an accuracy of a few hundred miles would require 15 small (one-megaton) nuclear missiles. The maneuvering could be accomplished while the Sun was between the asteroid and Earth, so as to keep the operation secret.

-- It's 2023 and Telford's days are numbered By David Derbyshire; ISSUE 2148; 12 April 2001; Telegraph Group Limited (www.telegraph.co.uk)

An alternative method, requiring much more lead time but much less in the way of launch and nuclear weapons resources would be to utilize radio waves and/or other means over many years to nudge an asteroid into an impact course.

-- Radio waves could construct buildings in space

-- Building in space using waves by Bennett Daviss; New Scientist issue: 12 October 2002; http://www.newscientist.com

-- Space Stations Built by Radio

-- Radio Waves Could Build Settlements in Space

Many of the same methods suggested for deflecting asteroids from collision courses with Earth could also be used to do the opposite-- such as 'painting' an asteroid surface to make it either reflect or absorb more sunlight, to affect minute changes in its trajectory.

Perhaps worst of all, an asteroid strike, whether natural or artificial, could well trigger global nuclear war, if any current major nuclear power (including the US) were struck, or simply felt sufficiently threatened by same.

-- Asteroids 'could trigger nuclear war'

"the world faces a possible 'perfect storm' of security factors that has increased the risk of an accidental or unauthorised nuclear arms exchange between the United States and Russia"

-- Beware of US-Russian nuclear war - MAY 23, 2003

-- U.S. came ‘that close’ to nuclear war

Note the above is a short list of crises which could occur terribly fast, with little or no warning. A much longer list could be wrote up of disasters just as terrible which required somewhat longer to unfold (hopefully we're not witnessing one of those right now in the stewardship of the nation by the Bush Administration).

Newz&Viewz Contents

2-17-03: Site updates

The hidden costs to society of 'right-wing' political governance has gotten a substantial update.

Newz&Viewz Contents

2-11-03: Site updates

The nature of luck is a wholly new page, and an attempt to catalog all the major elements to luck-- as well as how they might be open to manipulation.

Other recently updated pages include:

Stream of web consciousness snapshot log
Leads to recent medical and health related articles and like resources
How to live well on very, very little
How small-time web sites can make it financially on the web
J.R.'s clearinghouse of used Mac ware sources
Low cost web site authoring log

Newz&Viewz Contents

1-30-03: Rushing towards our endgame UPDATED

My new page The hidden costs to society of 'right-wing' political governance suggests that it's possible for a society to suffer a vicious downward spiral in its fortunes if/when right-wing politicians gain excessive dominance over the levers of power, and then manage to maintain such control for an extended period.

Here's the gist of how such a spiral might occur:

'Right-wingers' win elections, and begin aggressively pushing their various agendas through executive, legislative, and possibly judicial actions...which leads to reduced business and environmental regulation, bringing about increased stress and fatigue for citizens, more pollution, less education and free time...which begats more accidents, injuries, disease, and lower incomes for more households, leading to rising health costs and lower productivity and competitiveness overall (relative to what could have otherwise been), possibly fewer marriages and more divorces, more wife and child neglect, abandonment, abuse, or worse, increases in other crime and underground economic activity, reduced tax collections from both those and ill-advised tax cuts, reductions in the accuracy of economic stats, larger government deficits and greater uncertainty in how to correct matters (since the stats are increasingly suspect); the standard right-wing answer to such matters is usually to cut taxes, health care, and pension benefits further, and reduce business and environmental regulations still more, which begins the whole cycle anew, but at a deeper level of malaise, with more widespread poverty throughout the society.

The above 'death-spiral' scenario can easily be worsened or accelerated by way of piling on excesses in military/security/intelligence spending (such as the instigation of unnecessary wars, or mere increases in peacetime defense/security budgets).

Some ways right-wingers gain power in the first place (and sometimes hold onto it in the face of questionable or even disasterous results from their policies) are to say most problems either don't truly exist at all, or 'require more study' (such as global warming, and racism in employment and college admissions), or else can be easily and simply explained and solved. Lots of folks are naturally attracted to claims that we face fewer problems than we thought, and that what problems do exist can be simply solved. But then when the right-wingers gain power and their simple solutions either don't work at all, or only work by shifting problems to other areas (or creating all new ones), they blame liberal saboteurs and critics, or past liberal administrations or changed circumstances, or say they 'simply' need more time or money or power for their solutions to work.

-- 'Axis of Evil' Rhetoric Said to Heighten Dangers; LA Times

-- Bush to blame for N Korea crisis: Russia

-- South Korean Leader Criticizes Bush Approach (washingtonpost.com)

-- U.S. Forced North Korea's Hand

-- Bush Administration Shifts Blame for N. Korea Crisis (washingtonpost.com)

-- Bush team blames Clinton for N. Korea crisis

-- Bush says he inherited recession By Mark Gongloff, CNN/Money; August 7, 2002

-- U.S. Military Spending Inadequate, Hawks Tell Bush

At the same time they demand more money for things like defense, they cannot or will not tell anyone where they send much of the funds after they get them.

"According to some estimates we cannot track $2.3 trillion in transactions"

-- US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld

"[the defense budget] numbers are pie in the sky. The books are cooked routinely year after year"

-- Department of Defense Analyst Franklin C. Spinney

-- The War On Waste (possibly by Vince Gonzales); CBSNews.com; Jan. 29, 2002

America and the world have experienced vicious and prolonged downward spirals and jaw dropping death tolls under right-wing control before-- check out how the Great Depression and World War II began. US citizens learned a lesson from that episode, and did not allow such folks to gain overwhelming control again for a long, long time. But that memory has now faded completely away from the majority of Americans, circa 2003, and we've once again imperiled ourselves and the world with a potentially lengthy descent into a dark right-wing fantasy. In 2000 and 2002 we ended up turning over to our domestic right-wingers control of both the Congress and Senate (our legislative branch of government), as well as our executive branch. It appears our judicial branch is also now dominated by conservatives, as it stepped in to help the executive in a squeaker 2000 vote fraught with problems and for which the deciding number of ballots fell well into the normal historical margin of error for such events.

In the 1920s, it took many years for the market crash and depression to be finally triggered by right-wing excesses, and a bit longer still for World War II to finally become unstoppable. But it may be events will move faster this time. As of 2002 and early 2003 substantial parts of the world were already regarded as being in depression or about to collapse in such fashion, even as an apparently wholly unnecessary war threatens to destablize things further. World stock markets have declined markedly for two years already, due to the bursting of a speculative bubble, war and energy worries, and massive corruption scandals in the very core of US financial markets and their various regulatory agencies.

Those now in control of US policies either cannot fathom the likely outcome of their actions, or don't care. As population growth, technology advances, and the physical law of entropy all combine to make human survival and prosperity on this planet ever more fragile and vulnerable to the unexpected, the wisest policies would seem to be to avoid war, and seek multi-lateral and diplomatic solutions wherever possible. But instead the world's sole surviving superpower seems bent upon war and confrontation with Iraq no matter what the cost-- and perhaps will war against others too after that.

Is the United States on the path to sparking World War III, based on little more than the mental state of its chief executive? So far its aggressive actions and policy decisions since 9-11-01 (when its President benefited enormously power-wise from a well-executed terrorist attack) have been primarily against Islamic nations and peoples: specifically Afghanistan, the disenfranchised Palestinians of the Mid-east, and Pakistan. Now it appears about to invade and conquer Iraq. And published policy papers of the Administration indicate Iran and Syria may be next in line. The leader of Pakistan in past days has openly worried that the immense pressures the US has already exerted on his country could end up devolving to open military attack at any time. Within its own borders, and elsewhere about the world, the US appears to be especially pursuing and persecuting people of the Moslem faith. And more, the US is in many cases stripping Moslems of normal civil protections afforded to others (even when the Moslems are US citizens!) and participating in direct or indirect torture of them, once such people have been arrested or 'detained'.

-- '...a second phase that involves confronting countries that sponsor terrorism: Iraq now, and others such as Iran and Syria later...'; Washington Post

-- 'war is coming, and the Middle East will be remade'; UK Guardian

-- Back us against Saddam or else, US tells Arab states; UK Telegraph

-- U.S. Increasingly Isolated Over Iraq (washingtonpost.com)

-- 'The endgame has begun -- not only with Iraq, but also with America's friends'; Washington Post

-- Iraq split points to far deeper divisions

-- Germans Believe U.S. a Nation of Warmongers

-- Iraq Rift Wounds German-U.S. Ties

-- Anti-Americanism Moves to W. Europe's Political Mainstream

-- Pentagon adviser: France 'no longer ally'

-- Disagreement over Iraq, America's dismissive attitude toward the Continent, and economic inequality threaten to create an enduring rift; Businessweek

-- 'Musharraf said that there was speculation that Pakistan would become the target of Western forces after the Iraq crisis' (The net closes on Pakistan)

-- The End of the West; The Atlantic

-- CIA Interrogations Said Verging on Inhumane; ABC News

-- CIA accused of torture at Bagram base; UK Guardian

-- U.S. Decries Abuse but Defends Interrogations (washingtonpost.com)

-- Security officials defend torture

-- Briton tells of ordeal in Bush's torture jail; UK Observer

-- 9-11 detainees claim abuse, violations

-- A Citizen Shorn of All Rights by Nat Hentoff

-- N.J. Secrecy Rule Keeps Arab American in Jail and in the Dark (washingtonpost.com)

-- CIA Killed U.S. Citizen In Yemen Missile Strike

-- The US may use torture against terrorism; UK Telegraph

-- US pressuring UN inspectors to abduct Iraqi researchers if necessary to gain information

-- Middle Eastern Students Jailed For Cutting Course Hours

-- Torture Is Not an Option (washingtonpost.com)

-- Widely used police interrogation technique can result in false confession

-- US interrogators turn to 'torture lite'; UK Guardian

By contrast, the non-Moslem nation of North Korea, which possesses far more in weapons of mass destruction and the likely willingness to use them than Iraq, plus a more dangerous military, is being treated with kid glove negotiations rather than dire threats and a massive military buildup.

-- Bush and North Korea: Where's the Big Stick? (washingtonpost.com)

-- Turkish chief sees U.S. hypocrisy; MSNBC

-- Butler: U.S. Guilty of 'Double Standards' on Iraq; Reuters

-- Double Standards Make Enemies (washingtonpost.com)

-- For North Korea, U.S. Is Violator of Accords (washingtonpost.com)

-- Bush Seeks $3.5 Million for Group Building N. Korean Reactors; Bloomberg.com

-- Donald Rumsfeld was a director of a company that designed nuclear power plants for North Korea, an 'axis of evil' country

-- The double standards, dubious morality and duplicity of this fight against terror; UK Independent

Though he later recanted the term, the US President's first impulsive label for his new and aggressive policies against Afghanistan and Iraq was "crusade", a term originating in what were pretty much religious wars between Christians and Moslems centuries in the past.

Even Saudi Arabia, home to Mecca itself (one of the most revered locales in Islam) appears to be under threat of future US pressures or even military action and occupation, according to various sources.

With the US blatantly supporting Israel (which possesses an armory of weapons of mass destruction Saddam Hussein can only dream about) and its control of Palestine and Jerusalem (a city considered holy by Christians, Jews, and Moslems alike) and possibly threatening the control of Mecca, as well as appearing ready to seize the oil wealth of Iraq in 2003, and perhaps the oil of Iran and Saudi Arabia after that, and treating its own Moslem citizens and many innocent Moslem travelers much harsher and crueler than others in many cases, what could the average Moslem citizen of the world be expected to think?

-- Is This a Way to Ease Muslim Fears?; ABC News

-- Thousands of Middle Eastern, Muslim immigrants face deadline to register under security program; San Francisco Gate

-- Registration Stirs Panic, Worry (washingtonpost.com)

-- Rights activist blasts US bias against Muslims

-- Indians too will have to register -DAWN - Top Stories; 21 January, 2003

-- Men from Five More Nations to Register in U.S. (washingtonpost.com)

-- 'By detaining hundreds of the foreign Muslims it lured into West Coast offices, the agency succeeded only in harming U.S. security'; Businessweek

-- 'Airline passengers detained for speaking foreign language'; CNN

-- Brookings Scholar Is Detained by INS (washingtonpost.com)

-- 2,000 Pakistanis in US flee to Canada

-- Islam vs. Christianity in a Holy War? ABC News

-- Judge Is Angered by U.S. Stance in Case of 'Dirty Bomb' Suspect; New York Times

-- Robert Fisk: This looming war isn't about chemical warheads or human rights it's about oil; UK Independent

-- Washington's Oil War

-- Official: US oil at the heart of Iraq crisis

-- Powell: US will develop Iraqi oil

-- U.S. considers seizing revenues to pay for occupation, source says

-- Planning underway to manage Iraqi oil

-- The real goal is the seizure of Saudi oil; UK Guardian

-- US is stitching up the world's oil supplies; UK Guardian

60 Minutes on CBS recently ran a report on the strong influence that certain Christian groups who are fans of Israel and various biblical Armageddon prophecies have been having on the current US Administration. The gist of the report may have seemed alarming to many observers, as it appeared to verify many of the disturbing elements described above.

The role of the sitting US President's personal religious beliefs (some might call them prejudices) in decisions is also no secret.

-- Armageddon fiction grips the US; BBC

-- America's Messianic War Cult

-- Pope Speaks of Clash of Civilizations

-- Pushing the Apocalypse

-- 'Biblical imagery nothing new for U.S. presidents But Bush critics say he's gone to [sic] far with `good vs. evil''

-- Bush and God

-- When U.S. Foreign Policy Meets Biblical Prophecy

-- Conflicts over religion showing a steady increase in the workplace

"Privately, Bush even talked of being chosen by the grace of God to lead at that moment" [the hours following the terrorist acts of 9-11-01]

-- Michael Duffy, Time magazine

"Bush’s religious beliefs are emerging as a central influence to his policies and politics....For Bush....who reads his Bible every morning, faith extends beyond the national catharsis of the moment. By his own admission, his religious views shape much of who he is and, by extension, experts say, some of his most important decision-making."

-- Francine Kiefer, Christian Science Monitor

-- Chosen By God To Lead America By Rick Friedman & Stewart Nusbaumer; War, Politics, Culture; Intervention magazine; found on or about 10-10-02

"Bush believes he's on a mission from God...sees himself as the divine sword of retribution..."

"...Bush believes he was personally called by God to lead America. Tim Russert and former NYC Mayor Giuliani discussed this on "Meet the Press" last year...."

"...Bush...now operates with an absolute sense of supreme authority without qualification and without limitation. He stands poised to unleash American might full force against anyone who would dare to defy him..."

"...Some among Bush's trusted White House staff fear what they are seeing and where Bush is taking us..."

"...Bush's...sense of divine purpose scare some of his closest advisors....Even top officials from his father's administration fear the worst, and former President Bush is among them..."

-- White House Insiders: Bush is 'Out of Control' By Mike Hersh; Sep 5, 2002

"Bush starts every day on his knees in prayer. He reads the Bible each morning and studies a Bible lesson daily."

"Religion infuses Bush's policies..."

-- White House staffers gather for Bible study; Voluntary meetings embrace president's emphasis on faith By Judy Keen; USA Today; found on or about 10-23-02

I fear for my country and the world under such circumstances.

Wiser folks than me tried long ago to 'inoculate' America against the evils that often accompany a religious bias in government. The first amendment to the Constitution, regarding the separation of church and state, is there for just that purpose. Unfortunately it appears that if a sufficient number among America's top leadership posts simply choose to ignore the Constitution, it offers no protection for us at all.

We should be sobered by the results of SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) so far: it appears every single technological civilization similar to ourselves which has ever emerged in this galaxy may have gone extinct or irretrievably collapsed not long after they reached the equivalent of our own 1900 AD in development.

(for details and references please see The rise and fall of star faring civilizations)

It's a good bet such folks were much like ourselves, and that we are making the same mistakes they did.

It's getting more dangerous for us to tempt fate with each passing day. Which mistake will be the one to finally trigger our end?

-- A Globalized Tinderbox

-- One generation to save world, report warns; UK Guardian

Perhaps it's impossible for any race like ours to survive their own endgame. It's just not in our nature. But as in the film "Wargames" with Matthew Broderick, couldn't we simply choose not to play?

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1-24-03: The Bush Administration expects Iraq to be a pushover-- but they're warming up some all new super-weapons to test in the field, just in case UPDATED

Some US war hawks and their supporters are touting secret new and advanced weaponry the US is likely to test on Iraq in the coming war, as being a significant contributor to the likelihood that the conflict will be a cake-walk for American troops.

-- Super-secret microwave weapons may be used in Iraq

-- U.S. ready to unleash weapons -- The Washington Times

-- US May Use State-of-the-Art Electromagnetic Weapons against Iraq

-- Microwave Weapons May Be Ready For Iraq; Aviation now

-- Electromagnetic Bomb - A Weapon of Electronic Mass Destruction

-- Gee-whiz weapons could pose risks - for U.S.

-- Army's secret 'people zapper' plans; UK Observer

-- Death ray weapons 'ready in a decade'

-- US working on lightning weapon; BBC

-- Top secret stealth jet revealed ; New Scientist

-- Shoulder-Mounted Thermobaric Weapons for Marine Corps

-- America's Ultra-Secret Weapon

-- Slashdot EMP Artillery Shells

-- does the Pentagon have a secret weapon that could disable the Internet?

-- frightening new high-tech devices ready to play a part in any attack on Iraq

-- The Burrowing Nuke by George Smith

-- Airborne Holographic Projector

-- The Voice and Face of God (vis-a-vis U.S. Spook Technology)

-- U.S. May Debut Secret Microwave Weapon Versus Iraq

-- The Electrocuting Water Cannon by George Smith

-- Experimental electromagnetic weaponry may soon see combat use

-- US Plans for Use of Gas in Iraq

-- America’s own secret bioweapons program

-- Pentagon Plans to Use Bio-chemical Weapons in Iraq

-- Military developing 'loitering' and 'sleeping' weapons

-- Shock & Awe: Is Baghdad the Next Hiroshima?

-- The Nuclear Option in Iraq; LA Times

-- The Microwave Phaser

-- US military considers ray guns (November 23, 2002)

-- Bunker-busters set to go nuclear ; New Scientist

-- Australia, the UK, anti-gravity and the Iraq crisis

-- Earthquake and Volcano Weapons

-- Directed-Energy Weapons Possible U.S. Use Against Iraq Could Threaten International Regimes

-- Bush Urged to Limit Weapons in Iraq (washingtonpost.com)

-- US ponders weapons strategy; BBC

-- Why any war with Iraq will be over in a flash

-- Rumsfeld foresees swift Iraq war; BBC

-- Cheney sees rapid win of an Iraq war

-- Hi-tech arms 'would finish war in a week'; UK Independent

-- 'Minimal' U.S. Combat Death Toll Seen in Iraq War

-- Rumsfeld: No World War III in Iraq - Nov. 15, 2002; CNN

Of course, the potential risk of a biological plague being unleashed by a dictator with nothing to lose (as well as other possible disasters), even during what may otherwise be a cake-walk, is practically discussed not at all.

-- Pentagon's quietest calculation: the casualty count csmonitor.com


-- 77,000 body bags (February 11, 2003)

-- Pentagon stocks up on body bags

-- Iraq war may cost US $2 trillion: Study

-- U.S. Facing Bigger Bill For Iraq War (washingtonpost.com)

-- Dictator Disposal Has Pitfalls

-- Iraq We Win. Then What?

-- War with Iraq could spark recession

-- Endless war poses a far greater danger to the United States than perceived enemies do

-- Six nightmares for George Bush -- and everyone else

-- Mbeki Fears Economic Meltdown If Iraq Attacked

-- An American attack on Iraq would be a new kind of war, with new risks and perils

-- War 'would mean biggest oil shock ever'

-- Without doubt, a preemptive strike by the US would Immediately make the first strike policy a rationalized option for leaders around the world

-- Worst-case scenario in Iraq war nightmarish

Perhaps of more import though may be the interests of miscellaneous other nations in regards to the war. Ostensibly non-participants, like Russia, China, Iran, and others. Note that various published US policy papers have actually listed lots more countries as potential US targets beyond Iraq, Iran, and North Korea, thus adding fuel to the fire of the motivations described below.

Folks like these view the US at least as a competitor, if not an outright enemy, under some circumstances.

So these kinds of folks might be eager to gather as much information as possible on any 'secret weapons' the US might unveil in the conflict-- as well as current US battlefield strategies and tactics. They'd also be delighted to see the US stumble, or even get its figurative nose bloodied in the event. Why? Mostly because if taking Iraq inflicts significant pain and costs on the US, America might be discouraged from so easily throwing its military weight around the world afterwards, via a Vietnam-type effect.

Ergo, these same nations might find it very tempting to pass along a few tips, tricks, or ideas to Saddam to try against a US invasion force. They might even help Iraq smuggle in a few technological surprises for the effort. If certain smuggled-in devices proved effective against the US military, then such evidence could make a nice marketing promotion for later sales of the gadgets to third parties.

Such help could also increase the usefulness of information gathered regarding the US war machine-- especially if the 'cake-walk' could be stretched out longer than America expected.

Too, this help might increase the chance that the US is chastened by the outcome of the war, and rendered more cautious and multi-lateral in its future international dealings-- thereby taking some pressure off nations which are presently on America's public 'hit' list (such as China).

As an added temptation for those of ill will towards the US, many may have noted how the US Administration has rammed through a war plan that many of its own military advisors have warned may be unnecessarily risky and ill-conceived, with inadequate planning for contingencies. Indeed, in one recent US simulation of a war against a country much like Iraq, the US was actually losing and losing badly due to the virtual enemy doing a few unexpected things in the battle. This prompted the higher ups to order the enemy side to cease acting unpredictably so that the US could win the war game.

-- Ex-General: War Game Rigged (washingtonpost.com)

-- War games rigged; Army Times

-- Pentagon orders the enemy to lose

-- How US won the fight: they fixed it - smh.com.au

Such weaknesses in US planning and simulations could well serve as an effect multiplier of any help America's enemies might provide Hussein. Hubris and inflexibility in America's chief executive could also add to America's woes in such a circumstance.

So chalk up yet another aspect of any imminent Iraq war that could make it more risky and unpredictable-- for everyone.

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"We will export death and violence to the four corners of the earth in defense of our great nation." -- US President George W. Bush, 2002; UPDATED

-- First Blush-- Fresh News and Commentary; found on or about 1-7-03; citing You’re Invited to the War Party, a review by Georgie Anne Geyer of the book Bush at War by Bob Woodward

4-3-03 UPDATE: Folks, it may be that Georgie Anne Geyer made an error in quote attribution here, according to at least one source. Namely, Bush may not have been the one who said this, but rather someone else Woodward encountered in his info gathering for the book. More on this later, as info becomes available. END UPDATE.

Use this handy guide to tell the difference between Terrorists and the Bush Administration

'war is a form of terrorism'

The biggest crisis in the new year is not Iraq -- it's how to pay for health care

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1-16-03: Site updates

Both 'mini-sites' Civilization's best defenses against war, terrorism, technological stagnation, and economic ruin and How to live well on very, very little: the best ideas for obtaining the essentials of modern human sustenance for minimal cost got major revamps and some new material added lately. I call them mini-sites because they each act as gateways to their own specialty collection of pages. Civilization's best defenses got a much bigger revamp than How to live well on very, very little, which itself mostly got more miscellaneous links added, and much content moved off the front page to subsidiary pages for reasons of practicality and user convenience. Despite best defenses getting the 'big' overhaul this time, there's more still to come there, as I get the time to process it.

A couple highlights of the new material in Civilization's best defenses include The hidden costs to society of 'right-wing' political governance and Reduce military expenditures worldwide and minimize weapons proliferation of all types and magnitude: a page listing the usually ignored but substantial liabilities of maintaining an excessively large military force.

Bootstrapping the singularity has been broken out into its own list/weblog.

How small-time web sites can make it financially on the web has gotten a major update, with TONS of helpful new how-to and reference links added.

Newz&Viewz Contents

12-23-02: Bush's potentially terrifying faith-based Iraq initiative (and what is to follow) UPDATED

Bush is apparently hellbent on invading and conquering Iraq despite scant evidence that Iraq poses any threat to America-- it seems Bush's evidence against the regime in this respect is virtually entirely 'faith-based'. Even Bush's own CIA chief said it appeared extremely unlikely Iraq would make any attempt on the US except in the case the US attacked him first, or appeared very close to doing so.

-- US will attack without approval; UK Guardian

-- Bush aide: Inspections or not, we'll attack Iraq; UK Mirror

-- Bush offers disinformation about Saddam; AccessAtlanta

-- Tenet: Iraq May Wait Until Provoked (washingtonpost.com)

-- MI chief: Iraq won't attack before U.S. offensive

-- Iraq Lacks Material for Nuclear Bomb, Study Says (washingtonpost.com)

-- For Bush, Facts Are Malleable (washingtonpost.com)

-- Not All Statements Coming From Bush Administration in Case Against Iraq Are Backed By Evidence; ABC News

-- Detailed Analysis of October 7 Speech by Bush on Iraq

-- In war, some facts less factual csmonitor.com

-- Iraq: A Gap between Fear and Fact; Businessweek

-- Bush's televised address attacked by US intelligence; UK Guardian


-- One man's fantasy world, one real world in jeopardy; Daily Pennsylvanian

-- Fear of U.S. Power Shapes Iraq Debate (washingtonpost.com)

-- Good Reasons Aren't Enough for Bush (washingtonpost.com)

-- Public Questioning Lack of War Rationale ; Washington Post

-- You Call That Evidence? Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

-- Bush on the warpath without proof; Sun Times


Bush means to attack Iraq (and possibly other nations after that) even though a huge array of current US allies and past US leaders and their advisors (including his father's previous advisors), and even his own present intelligence services and military advisors have cautioned against it (Bush finally had enough of this and begin pressuring those personnel under his control to change their tune-- or else). So Bush apparently has 'faith' that his way is the correct one, and the views of all the nay-sayers are wrong. Knowledge, expertise, and experience would appear to count for little in this debate.

-- Attack Iran the day Iraq war ends, demands Israel; Times Online

-- US plans to ditch industry rivals and force end of Opec, write Peter Beaumont and Faisal Islam; UK Observer

-- After Iraq, Bush will attack his real target

-- Iraq war hawks have plans to reshape entire Mideast; Boston Globe

-- Iraq War 'Unjustifiable', says Bush's Church Head

-- Dissent is Coming From All Quarters - Even in Bush's Own Church

-- Tenet: Iraq May Wait Until Provoked (washingtonpost.com)

-- Pope warns against Iraq war; BBC

-- Double warning against Iraq war; Times Online

-- Bush and father at odds over Iraq strike

-- Schroeder steps up resistance to Iraq attack

-- Russia Warns U.S. Against Unilateral Action; Washington Post

-- Doubt in the Ranks (washingtonpost.com)

-- Top Bush Officials Criticize Generals' Conventional Views; Washington Post

-- Iraq attack plans alarm top military; UK Guardian

-- Role reversal: Bush wants war, Pentagon urges caution

-- Some Top Military Brass Favor Status Quo in Iraq (washingtonpost.com)

-- Doubts on Iraq plan kept quiet

-- Desert Rat speaks out against war; BBC

-- Former Diplomat Opposes War With Iraq

-- Supporters of an attack on Iraq are struggling to find credible reasons; UK Guardian

-- Iraq: The Doubters Grow; The Nation

-- War on Iraq Is Wrong

-- 'Stormin' Norman,' Gen. Schwarzkopf Is Skeptical About U.S. Action in Iraq ; Washington Post

-- Stormin' Norman: Don't rush into war; BBC

-- Carter Says Bush Has 'Not Made a Case' for War (washingtonpost.com)

-- Nelson Mandela says U.S. wants a holocaust

-- Mandela: U.S. wants holocaust - Jan. 30, 2003

-- Episcopalian leader lashes out at Bush for 'reprehensible' policy

-- War is the worst solution, warns Chirac

-- Ex-weapons inspector warns against Iraq war

-- CIA veterans' warning on Iraq war

-- Intelligence Veterans Question Powell's U.N. Report

-- Annan Warns Bush Against Unilateral Attack on Iraq

-- Military voices of dissent; BBC


-- voices of skepticism about Iraq war; SF Gate

-- Nobel laureates denounce a US attack on Iraq; New Scientist

-- All Bush Wants is Iraqi Oil, Says Mandela

-- Bush risks isolating US, cautions Kissinger; Times Online

-- Kurt Vonnegut: I myself feel that our country, for whose Constitution I fought in a just war, might as well have been invaded by Martians and body snatchers

"...we still live in a nuclear age, and every time we go to war, that ups the odds that today is the last day for the human race..." -- Dave Winer; Scripting News; on or about 1-29-03

-- Scowcroft sticks to his guns

-- White House Bush misstated report on Iraq; MSNBC

-- Devising bad intelligence to promote bad policy

-- Top Turkish General Advises U.S. to Avoid Iraq War; Reuters

-- Gen. Zinni Says War With Iraq Is Unwise From The Tampa Tribune

-- Stormin' Norman opposes Iraq war [August 20, 2002]; The Australian

-- Diplomatic Gap Between U.S., Its Allies Widens (washingtonpost.com)

-- Sen. Hagel Cautions on Iraq Attack; ABC News

-- A War Only the White House Wants

-- Egypt leads Arab revolt against US; Times Online

-- Arab Resolve Deepens Against Invasion of Iraq; LA Times

-- American voices counselling peace

Bush wants to throw American soldiers into an invasion of Iraq despite the fact the soldiers may be unprepared to defend themselves against biochemical weapons, and even though he may already have over-extended them with his 'war on terror', weakening their overall battle-readiness, supply depth, and morale. I suppose Bush has 'faith' that the invasion will be a quick cake-walk, and even fatigued soldiers with inadequate protections and perhaps parts and ammo shortages (if the war takes much longer than weeks to conclude) will be able to take Baghdad, no sweat.

-- Troops Lack Protective Gear, Say Lawmakers (washingtonpost.com)

-- US soldiers may have faulty gear; BBC

-- Air Force Feeling Stressed as 'Unit Readiness' Falls (washingtonpost.com)

-- 15,000 reserves to serve second year; USA Today

-- State 'citizen-soldier' call-ups soar

-- Stretched to the Limit; ABC News

-- Marines Required to Remain on Duty for Next 12 Months (washingtonpost.com)

-- Chef Cheney: His cuisine will make you sick

-- 'WHERE'S THE AMMO?' (scroll down the page)

-- U.S. ability to fight two wars doubted -- The Washington Times

-- Iraqi army is tougher than US believes; UK Guardian

-- 'Military wants more planning Generals, Pentagon civilians disagree over what it will take to oust Hussein'

-- Officers: Iraq Could Drain Terror War (washingtonpost.com)

-- Some Fear Iraq May Be Afghan Distraction

-- Ex-General: War Game Rigged (washingtonpost.com)

-- War games rigged; Army Times

-- Pentagon orders the enemy to lose

-- How US won the fight: they fixed it - smh.com.au

Bush also seems to intend to use American soldiers in a way that most presidents of recent decades have been loathe to do-- in messy, guerilla-style urban combat where casualties of both soldiers and innocent civilians tend to be high. But Bush's 'faith' will surely protect both the civilians and the soldiers there to 'liberate' them (of their oil).

-- Bracing for 'Primordial Combat' (washingtonpost.com)

-- Storming the Streets of Baghdad; Businessweek

-- U.S. Exploring Baghdad Strike as Iraq Option; New York Times

Bush wishes to purposely antagonize and alarm all the potential enemies of the US in the Mideast and perhaps the world, despite the fact that America remains ill-prepared to cope with many types of terrorist attacks on its own soil-- and again, this domestic vulnerability is something even Bush's own people say is true. But it seems Bush has 'faith' that God will protect America no matter what America does.

-- Report: U.S. Still Vulnerable (washingtonpost.com)

-- In U.S., Terrorism's Peril Undiminished (washingtonpost.com)

-- Unprepared for Smallpox (washingtonpost.com)

Americans are more at risk from bioterror attacks than the citizens of any other developed nation on Earth due to the simple fact so many Americans have no health insurance.

"Their lack of insurance is a known risk to their own health, but it must now also be recognized as a risk to the nation's health"

-- Dr. Matthew Wynia of the American Medical Association and Lawrence Gostin of Georgetown University

-- Health experts worry uninsured may spread bioterror germs; The Associated Press/Nando Media /Nando Times; May 30, 2002

Even when a sick uninsured person does seeks help at a US hospital, they tend to receive a lower quality of care and less attention than the insured, both in cases considered routine or as emergencies-- and so a dangerous contagion from an as yet unreported bioterror attack would have that much more opportunity to spread throughout a community.

-- Lack of Insurance Hurting Americans' Health: Report By Todd Zwillich; May 21, 2002; Yahoo!/Reuters Health

-- The Threat of Terrorism Naturally Grows; Slate

-- Personal Data Of Military Members, Families Stolen

-- Slashdot: Military Healthcare Data Stolen

-- Huge military ID theft; reward offered - Jan. 1, 2003; CNN

-- Millions of dirty bomb sources; New Scientist

-- CIA tells Hill terror threat eclipses Iraq =TheHill.com=

-- Warning of Missile Threat to U.S. Planes

-- Yahoo! News Nov 29, 2002 Ideal Terror Weapons: Portable, Deadly, Plentiful Missiles By THOM SHANKER The New York Times

-- Senators ask Bush to protect airliners -- The Washington Times

-- Cruise Missile Threat Grows, Rumsfeld Says (washingtonpost.com)

-- Dispersed al-Qaida poses even bigger terror threat, US says; UK Guardian

-- Not Much U.S. Can Do About Suicide Bombs; ABC News

-- Shootings to spread to other cities

-- The Pentagon Plan to Provoke Terrorist Attacks

-- By attacking Iraq, the US will invite a new wave of terrorist attacks

-- Bush's Iraq adventure is bound to backfire

-- Iraq war 'will increase risk of terror attacks'

-- Bush, Blair warned of bin Laden nukes

-- Does al-Qaida have 20 suitcase nukes?

-- Al Qaeda nukes are reality, intelligence says -- The Washington Times

Bush must enjoy a very strong faith that no major unintended consequences will come of his invasion-- such as a horrific biological plague upon the world, or some miscalculation that causes escalations like another Arab oil embargo, a devastating nuclear or biochemical attack on Israel, the eruption of nuclear war between India and Pakistan, war on the Korean peninsula, invasion of Taiwan by China, nuclear confrontations between the US and one or more other nuclear powers, or simply a long, drawn out quagmire in Iraq or elsewhere in the Mid-east, which ends up looking and feeling a lot like Vietnam.

-- A New Vietnam in the Middle East

-- The Vietnam Folly Calls Out to Us as War Fever Burns; LA Times

-- Carter warns against 'catastrophic' war; BBC

-- US adviser warns of Armageddon

-- Iraq Conflict Could Soon Go Nuclear

-- Iraq attack 'means third world war'; BBC

-- Could civilization die in the place where it was born?

But perhaps the most disturbing thing about Bush's faith would be if he personally believed that he has been 'chosen by God' be the ultimate judge, jury, and executioner in the world regarding who is good and who is evil, and use the full economic and military power of the USA to carry out these aims (including Bush's personal whims), while also forcing all humanity (including US citizens) to submit to a future global empire ruled by he and he alone.

Could Bush actually believe such things? And be mis-using his office to such ends? There are worrisome indications that this might be the case.

"Privately, Bush even talked of being chosen by the grace of God to lead at that moment" [the hours following the terrorist acts of 9-11-01]

-- Michael Duffy, Time magazine

"Bush’s religious beliefs are emerging as a central influence to his policies and politics....For Bush....who reads his Bible every morning, faith extends beyond the national catharsis of the moment. By his own admission, his religious views shape much of who he is and, by extension, experts say, some of his most important decision-making."

-- Francine Kiefer, Christian Science Monitor

-- Chosen By God To Lead America By Rick Friedman & Stewart Nusbaumer; War, Politics, Culture; Intervention magazine; found on or about 10-10-02

"Bush believes he's on a mission from God...sees himself as the divine sword of retribution..."

"...Bush believes he was personally called by God to lead America. Tim Russert and former NYC Mayor Giuliani discussed this on "Meet the Press" last year...."

"...Bush...now operates with an absolute sense of supreme authority without qualification and without limitation. He stands poised to unleash American might full force against anyone who would dare to defy him..."

"...Some among Bush's trusted White House staff fear what they are seeing and where Bush is taking us..."

"...Bush's...sense of divine purpose scare some of his closest advisors....Even top officials from his father's administration fear the worst, and former President Bush is among them..."

-- White House Insiders: Bush is 'Out of Control' By Mike Hersh; Sep 5, 2002

"I do not need to explain why I say things...That's the interesting thing about being the President...Maybe somebody needs to explain to me why they say something, but I don't feel like I owe anybody an explanation..."

-- President George W. Bush, 2002

-- Rare Glimpse Inside Bush's Cabinet November 19, 2002; from a 60 Minutes interview by Mike Wallace of Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward, author of the book Bush at War; CBS Worldwide Inc.; Nov. 17, 2002 is a second date stamp associated with this article

"Bush starts every day on his knees in prayer. He reads the Bible each morning and studies a Bible lesson daily."

"Religion infuses Bush's policies..."

-- White House staffers gather for Bible study; Voluntary meetings embrace president's emphasis on faith By Judy Keen; USA Today; found on or about 10-23-02

-- Bush Turns Increasingly to Language of Religion

-- Bush Links Faith and Agenda In Speech to Broadcast Group (washingtonpost.com)

-- Bush's Messiah Complex February 2003 issue

-- 'David Gergen on Bush'

-- 'Speechwriter David Frum's bestseller about his year with the Administration helps to explain why the rest of the world is so nervous'; Businessweek

"If this were a dictatorship, it would be a heck of a lot easier, just so long as I'm the dictator"

-- US President-elect George W. Bush, December 2000

-- Bush's Hill tour comes to a close By Mark Sherman/ Cox News Service;12-19-2000

-- BusinessWeek Online: WASHINGTON WATCH A Gentleman's "C" for W By Richard S. Dunham; Edited by Beth Belton; JULY 30, 2001

-- Bush calls Saddam 'the guy who tried to kill my dad' - Sep. 27, 2002; CNN

-- President's zeal to oust Hussein may be personal

-- Bush planned Iraq 'regime change' before becoming President; Sunday Herald (second link to this story)

-- The arrogance of the Bush Doctrine; Salon

-- It's Empire Versus Democracy

-- Bush a Threat to World Peace

-- The US will be legislator, judge and executioner; UK Guardian

-- It is wrong to be judge, jury and executioner; UK Independent

-- America's bid to control the world; Mirror

-- 'The United States of America has gone mad'; Times Online [second URL]

-- The madness of war with Iraq

-- Friends and allies wonder what's happened to the United States

Believe it or not, the President of the USA's annual medical examination does not currently, and never has, included even a routine psychiatric examination. Virtually all other personnel expected to endure unusual stresses-- such as FBI and CIA agents, and professional pilots-- must at minimum pass a single such exam to begin their jobs. Not so the Presidency circa 2002, even though psychiatric problems there could literally bring on the end of the world.

-- Their Annual Checkups Should Be Complete (washingtonpost.com) By Alen J. Salerian; May 12, 2002; Page B03

-- Federal panel urges screening of adults for depression;The Associated Press/Nando Media/Nando Times; May 21, 2002

-- Fighting Mad Leader Disease (possibly by Rebecca Sloan Slotnick); Science Observer; November-December, 2001

-- 'dangers of the corporate psychopath'

In his youth, George W. Bush and pals loved stuffing firecrackers into frog's mouths, then throwing them up to see them explode in mid-air. Some psychiatric studies indicate many children who display such cruelty to animals later become adults who are abusive to family, friends, or co-workers.

-- Don't let Bush light Iraq fire by LINDA MCQUAIG; Dec. 15, 2002; Toronto Star Newspapers Limited

Mark Crispin Miller, a professor of communications from New York University, was compiling a book of 'Bush-isms', or comedic verbal errors of President George W. Bush, when he discovered some decidedly unfunny patterns to the president's comments.

The patterns appear to show a dark side to the president: a "sociopathic personality...incapable of empathy", who speaks most easily, comfortably, and coherently about topics like revenge and violence. By contrast, his verbal miscues most often appear in subjects he has little or no interest in, such as altruism and compassion. Furthermore, Bush appears to believe his personal inflexibility to be a virtue.

All this leads Bush's handlers to constantly be on the look out for him going ballistic in the language of hostile and angry retribution and violence to which he is so prone. One aspect of such handling is that Bush must be kept away from protesters at almost all costs, or else he may lose control. He may be very comparable to Richard Nixon in many respects.

-- Bush anything but moronic, according to author Dark overtones in his malapropisms President by MURRAY WHYTE; Toronto Star; Nov. 28, 2002

'We´re not saying Bush is nuts -- psychologists are'

For more information regarding the characteristics of a sociopath, please refer to the links below, or do your own Google search:

-- Characteristics of Psychopath (Sociopath, Anti-social Personality Disorder)

-- Profile of a Sociopath

Could it be that Bush's mental state is somewhat due to his admitted past substance abuse? Bush admits to alcohol abuse, and according to some sources he also did cocaine for some indefinite period. Both substances can do serious and long term damage to the brain.

-- Governor Bush's Cocaine Problem

-- Bush's Cocaine Question And The Drug War

-- Bush and Cocaine


-- George W. Bush Quit Drinking 'On His Own'

-- CNN.com - Bush acknowledges 1976 DUI charge - November 2, 2000

-- Mechanisms of Alcohol-Induced Brain Damage

-- Pictoral Proof of Brain Damage Caused by Cocaine and Alcohol Seen in New

-- Alcohol and Brain

-- Brain Damage Can Occur While Binge Drinking; ABC News

-- Alcohol damages day-to-day memory function

-- Alcohol facilitates aggression among those who express anger outwardly

-- Brain cells may be damaged for ever by cocaine abuse; UK Independent

-- Cocaine harms brain's 'pleasure center,' addict study finds; EurekAlert

-- Cocaine use may alter brain cells, play role in depression

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12-12-02: Site updates

I've made a major update to my page Civilization's best defenses against war, terrorism, technological stagnation, and economic ruin. The recommendations listed there come from over ten years worth of research for the timeline and other matters. This latest update is vastly superior to previous versions of the page, largely because I was too time-pressed to put much effort into the page before. If I can manage to make another update or two of this same magnitude to the page in future weeks or months, I believe it'll have basically reached completion and be acceptably comprehensive in scope, requiring only relatively minor maintenance tweaks after that.

How small-time web sites can make it financially on the web was also recently updated, with the addition of tons of great links relating to the subject. How to live well on very, very little and certain of its sub-pages got some updates lately as well.

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12-5-02: The vulnerability of commercial airliners to terrorism

The unknown number of shoulder-fired missiles circulating around the world today-- capable of easily shooting down airliners at and around airports during take offs and landings-- is posing an ever greater risk to air travelers now.

-- Warning of Missile Threat to U.S. Planes

-- Yahoo! News Nov 29, 2002 Ideal Terror Weapons: Portable, Deadly, Plentiful Missiles By THOM SHANKER The New York Times

-- 'the stockpile of portable surface-to-air missiles numbered between 500,000 and 700,000 across the globe'

-- 'there could be hundreds of perhaps thousands of Igla missiles available on the black market, selling for as little as $25,000'

-- Senators ask Bush to protect airliners -- The Washington Times

-- 'Incompetence' saved rocket-attack airliner

-- Boxer wants anti-missile technology on all U.S. commercial jets

It's actually surprising that these things haven't seen more use than they have so far, as it'd be fairly easy to find a spot to down planes from and then escape scot-free if desired. But in the past the USA's natural physical isolation from the other continents, along with our typically benign attitude towards most peoples and events beyond our borders (albeit with occasional spikes of belligerence, mostly covert in nature and so low profile), helped keep terrorist motivations to use such stuff against us to a minimum. The attitude thing is now gone, with the geographical element plus heightened security measures intended to maintain at least some of our past safety margins in regards to such threats. But as these missile launchers can be roughly person-sized but without need for air, food, or water for lengthy periods of time, they can likely be smuggled into the US at least as easily as illegal immigrants routinely come in via land, sea, or air routes today.

So it may be the main thing holding up such attacks in the US at this time is the planning, or logistics of getting a large enough number of weapons into the country to allow a spectacularly large-scale attack, such as downing planes at two or more high profile airports across the country simultaneously, for maximum propaganda and terror value, as well as economic dislocation.

There's all sorts of problems regarding the provision of adequate security measures against such attacks. Just one is the intimate entanglement of many airports with existing residential and commercial zones. Hefty tracts of land surrounding many airports would have to be bought up, with their present owners forcibly evicted, to provide even minimum buffer zones against such attacks. The public outcry and resistance against such a move would likely be fierce in at least some instances. Military forces can be posted around airfields, but this could put a strain on our National Guard and regular military forces, reducing our capability in other defensive or offensive operations.

-- 'Portable missiles can reach altitudes higher than 5,000 metres, making airliners vulnerable up to 50 kilometres from take-off'

And even after all this, as missile technologies improved, we'd need ever bigger buffer zones and ever larger troop deployments to get the same level of protection. And none of this would stop a terrorist in a small plane from flying at tree top level under major air routes, to rise briefly in attitude to fire at airliners, then disappear into the ground clutter again.

Other alternatives include fitting sophistocated defense systems onto airliners themselves, such as might exist today onboard Air Force One and perhaps Israeli airliners. Unfortunately, many such defenses may not do much good at near point-blank range, or if there's more than one missile fired at once. Or the missiles themselves are simply smart enough to ignore or overcome the defensive measures utilized. There's all sorts of cheap and simple ways to get around even very advanced and expensive defensive systems, as Russian and American scientists alike often bring up regarding Bush's super expensive missile defense system project. For obvious reasons I won't list any here specifically relating to missiles fired at airliners. Just suffice it to say it wouldn't be difficult to get around virtually any defense installed. That's a big reason why no one will describe such installed systems-- because such defenses depend mightily upon a mismatch between themselves and the means deployed against them. Knowing precisely which system is being used allows an attacker to choose the proper tool to neutralize it. And neutralization means exist for all such defensive systems today.

-- 'you're never going to be able to get 100 per cent assurance of security that you're going to be able to prevent the launch of one of these things'

-- Protecting Airliners is futile

And for this unreliable measure of protection flyers would have to pay through the nose. For such defenses are just as expensive as they are unreliable, in the context of commercial airliners. So how come Air Force One and Israeli airliners haven't been shot down this way more often? Well, for one thing there's been a pretty small number of attempts so far, utilizing this particular method. The fewer attempts, the fewer possible bull's eyes. For another thing, Israel's land area and number of active airliners are miniscule compared to that of the US. And the US gives Israel billions of dollars in aid and tons of free samples of the latest and greatest defensive technologies every year, which Israel can then use to lavish extraordinary protections onto what relatively meager airline resources they maintain.

Both Israel and Air Force One also enjoy things like constant or near constant combat aircraft flights buzzing the vicinity, ready at a moment's notice to intercept many threats once detected. There's no way this level of protection could be stretched over the majority of major US airports and flights anytime within the next couple decades-- at least not at a cost citizens/consumers would accept.

Air Force One also enjoys additional protections beyond all these, such as typically highly secret flight routes and take off/landing schedules, various satellite aids, and more.

Shoulder-fired missiles are just one possible terrorist threat to airliners. Some others include infiltration of maintenance and fueling crews or pilots and flight attendents (or even sky marshalls), with sabotage performed via those avenues. Carried-on weapons of any sort would not really be necessary to possibly bring down a plane.

Someone sufficiently talented or trained in persuasion techniques and a particular scenario could literally talk a flight crew or passengers to death (by getting them to endanger themselves via ill-advised actions). Such a person would not have to be onboard to be effective.

There's also other ways to exert mind-bending effects on crews or passengers which could threaten their survival.

Similar techniques could be used against our own government or military, to make them believe a particular flight was a threat, and shoot it down in error. In some cases merely a critical few pieces of paperwork might be changed or forged to create a situation seemingly offering a clear and present danger to a large city if a certain plane isn't downed immediately.

So what's my point? There's really only one way to reduce terrorism to its absolute minimum frequency and death and damage tolls without bringing about a collapse in civilization as we know it. And that is to work tirelessly to reduce and then eliminate the possible motivations for terrorism or sympathy for terrorists from the entire world population, forever. Any other course to combat terrorism can only lead to the end of humanity itself in the long run-- as we give up democracy and free will to basically become slaves to the state.

We should all keep in mind there are far worse things we could face than a small risk of isolated incidents of terrorism. For instance, imagine an entire world enslaved by an empire similar in nature to Stalin's USSR, or Hitler's Germany from WWII. The world came perilously close to this fate at least once, maybe twice in just the past century. There's no obvious reason why we couldn't face another such threat in years to come.

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11-22-02: The possible (if unlikely) Iraq surprise

The latest news reports regarding the USA, Russia, and Iraq got me to thinking.

If Russia's Putin decides Bush is acting too rashly or for the wrong reasons in regards to warring against Iraq, Putin could easily pull the rug out from under Bush in a way calculated to likely anger the US President but render him impotent at the same time. Note that Russia as a whole might like some event which put Russia toe-to-toe with the US again-- and winning. So there's plenty of political capital to be made here. There's also real money. Iraq's vast oil wealth. At the moment everyone's sure the USA and its friends will soon be divvying up Iraqi oil. Bush appears to believe seizing Iraq's oil will allow him to spend all he wants at home without paying for it tax-wise (and so politically).

But it'd be relatively easy for Russia to foil Bush's scheme. How? Formally do a friendly annex of Iraq as a new part of Russia itself. Note that Iraq would then be a remote piece of Russia just as Hawaii and Alaska are remote parts of the USA.

Russia could then claim from that day forward they would accept all responsibility for any weapons of mass destruction remaining in Iraq, and so the world need not worry (Or at least need not worry any more than they already do about the huge numbers of such weapons already in Russian hands).

Hussein might well remain the 'governor' of Iraq, with his real power over locals much diminished. Yet he'd still possess more than enough wealth to live out the remainder of his life in luxury, and he'd still retain lots more prestige and respect than he would as a despot on the run or a pile of rotting meat on a slab.

And Russia would suddenly be a global OPEC in its own right. With vast amounts of new wealth to feed government coffers and solve lots of Russian problems, and regain much world influence-- not least of which would be becoming at least as important to US oil supplies as Saudi Arabia. And look how nice we treat those guys.

And as a bonus they'd frightfully embaress and upstage the Americans. And maybe cause Bush more political trouble at home than he could easily get out of.

Of course, all this assumes Hussein would know what's good for him and sign the papers willingly, and before it was too late.

Personally, I'd much rather see Russia take over Iraq in a friendly way, than the US do it via war. I believe far fewer innocent people would be hurt in the foreseeable future. And hopefully the average citizens of both Russia and Iraq would see significant improvements in their living standards as one result. Yes, President Bush might be embaressed. But this would likely be a better fate for him than what he might encounter down the road if he doesn't somehow learn to be more moderate in general in his proclamations and ambitions (seriously folks, abuses of the power Bush has gathered for himself in things like the USA Patriot Act, the Homeland Security bill and others-- or perhaps revelations regarding his action or inaction in regards to 9-11-01, or other items currently being kept under the tightest of secrecy wraps by the Administration-- could conceivably bring about serious calls for his impeachment down the road). So what kind of true American would preach moderation? A true founding father of the republic for one: Benjamin Franklin.

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