Wednesday, December 3, 2008

More Government Fear-mongering: "The World at Risk"

The world has been at risk since the reckless U.S. rulers decided to unleash the atomic bomb on tens of thousands of civilians in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Since then, they have built the most mighty arsenal of destruction as the world has ever seen. But then, this short essay is about the Commission on the Prevention of WMD Proliferation and Terrorism.

As the BBC reported:
The bi-partisan Commission on the Prevention of WMD Proliferation and Terrorism was set up after the attacks of 11 September 2001.

Its report is due to be presented to Vice-President-elect Joe Biden on Wednesday, but its contents have already been widely reported in the US media.

It says terrorists are "likely" to stage a nuclear or biological weapons attack somewhere in the world in the next five years.

Without urgent action, "it is more likely than not that a weapon of mass destruction will be used in a terrorist attack somewhere in the world by the end of 2013," the commission says.
The sharp analysts at Moon of Alabama noticed that the cracker-jack folks who put together the report, to be delivered today to Jack Bauer of CTC Vice-President-elect Joe Biden, forgot to provide corroborating evidence for their claims about near-term terrorist attack.
The 132 pages include not one paragraph or line which makes a calculation, quantitative or qualitative, that would allow one to come to the conclusion that the executive summary asserts....

It makes for scaremongering headlines as the media, like usual, do not care to really look into these issues.
Good headlines... and paperback book sales! Vintage Books, a division of Random House, has announced an "instant" book will be published of the report. At $10.95, it will only be, uh, $10.95 more than the free version published online.

Better reading than the report are the commissioner and staff biographies of those who worked on this document. They are almost all drawn from the orbit of the defense and intelligence industries. A fair number have personal or organizational ties to the GOP, Paul Wolfowitz, and right-wing think tanks. Here's a sampling:

Chair: Republican Senator Bob Graham, a 10-year member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence

Vice Chair: Republican Senator Jim Talent, an eight-year member of the House Armed Services Committee, and currently "a Distinguished Fellow at the Washington, DC, based Heritage Foundation where he specializes in military readiness issues and welfare reform"

The other commissioners
include Robin Cleveland, "a former close advisor to Paul Wolfowitz," and caught up in the Wolfowitz World Bank Scandal; Henry Sokolski, who "worked on nonproliferation issues under Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz"; former GWB assistant secretary of state Stephen G. Rademaker, and also "Policy Director for National Security Affairs and Senior Counsel for Sen. Bill Frist".

Of course, there are some Democratic Party types, drawn from its Clinton-centrist wing, like Ambassador Wendy Sherman, and former Congressman Tim Roemer, a former member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, and now president of the Center for National Policy.

The work of these commissions is really done, as everyone knows, by staff, and it is worth perusing who some of these staff members were (not inclusive):
Evelyn Farkas, Ph. D, Executive Director
Former Professional Staff Member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and Associate Professor of International Relations at the U.S. Marine Corps Command and Staff College, Marine Corps University.

Eric Fanning, Deputy Director
Former Senior Vice President for Strategic Development at Business Executives for National Security, and special assistant in the Office of the Secretary of Defense.

Raj De, General Counsel
Partner in the Washington, D.C. office of the international law firm Mayer Brown LLP. Former Counsel to the Special Bi-Partisan Staff of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee and to the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States (the “9/11 Commission”)....

Stephen Heil, Professional Staff Member
Senior Intelligence Officer for the Counterproliferation Support Office at the Defense Intelligence Agency.

Joseph Helman, Ph.D., Director for Intelligence
Member of the Senior National Intelligence Service in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

Adam Jones, Professional Staff Member
Former Chief Speechwriter in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

Abraham Kanter, Staff Assistant
Former research consultant for Department of Defense-funded analysis research institute. Served with the Transnational Threats Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Neal A. Pollard, Director for Counterterrorism
Former Dynamic Planning Branch Chief and Deputy Group Chief, Global Engagement, National Counterterrorism Center. Adjunct Professor of Microbiology, and former International Affairs Fellow of the Council on Foreign Relations. Co-founder and former Board Director, Terrorism Research Center....

William Reed, Professional Staff Member
Analyst and Presidential Management Fellow in the Department of Homeland Security Office of Program Analysis and Evaluation. Former submarine officer in the U.S. Navy.

Constance T. Rybka, Chief of Security
Detailed from the Intelligence Community. Former senior chemical and biological warfare analyst. Retired U.S. Army Officer.

Wade R. Sharp, Security Officer
Associate with Booz Allen Hamilton, providing security support services to the Office of Security & Counterintelligence within the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.
Gathered from the intelligence and security/defense worlds, populated by right wing Republicans and centrist and right-wing Democrats, the outcome of the commission's "report" was foreordained. To have expected anything different or unbiased from this crew -- whose paychecks depend on the perpetuity of the "war on terror" and fear-mongering -- would be akin to an expectation that the foxes would vote themselves out of the hen-house.

The timing of the publication of this report, set as December 2008 some time ago, was meant to both escape influencing the presidential election, but also to orient the incoming president, whoever that was to be, about what his or her marching orders were to be when it came to financing and staffing the myriad departments, offices, and committees whose existence depends on keeping the mighty U.S. war and intelligence industries chugging along.

A major section of the report describes the problem of nuclear proliferation. No major change in policy is noted, as the report argues for greater cooperation with Russia on the issue. It also argues that Iran and North Korea nuclear weapons programs, whatever they may be, constitute a serious danger and must be stopped. (When it comes to terrorism, Pakistan is marked as the most dangerous state.)

If you want a short-hand version of how the U.S. elites see the world, this is an interesting report. If you want to know about how the world really is, and who or what constitutes a threat, then don't read this fairy tale. You'll find nothing in it about threats of NATO expansionism even further into the former Soviet Union, about placing forward missiles in Poland, or advanced radar systems in the Czech Republic. You'll read nary a word about the largest stock of nuclear weapons in the world, and held by a country, furthermore, that has shown a readiness to use them.

But you can read about it here:
The United States has produced about 70,000 nuclear weapons of 72 major types since their invention. At the end of the Cold War in 1991 the United States had an active arsenal of some 23,000 weapons of 26 major types. Since that time actual nuclear warhead production has been completely shut down in the U.S., although warhead modification, retrofit, and maintenance activities continue. Much of the original nuclear weapons manufacturing infrastructure has been dismantled, and the focus of the remaining nuclear infrastructure has shifted to maintaining and extending the life of the remaining weapons, as well as dismantling surplus weapons.

The only strategic arms treaties still in force between the U.S. and the Russian Federation is the Moscow Treaty on Strategic Offensive Reductions (also called "the Moscow Treaty," the Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty, or SORT) and the START I treaty, which will expire in December 2009....

Actual production of new warheads halted in 1989. In January 1997, the first new weapon modification since the production shutdown entered service - the B61 Mod 11 (B61-11) ground penetrating ("bunker busting") bomb. This was a modification of B61 Mod 7s that were already in the stockpile. Remanufacture and updating of subsystems of existing weapons is on-going as part of a stockpile Life-Extension Program (LEP).
Of course, the nuclear weapons programs of Russia, Great Britain, France, Israel, Pakistan and India -- and now North Korea -- remain dangers to the world, though the size of the U.S. arsenal and its newer "tactical" weaponry, like the bunker-buster nuclear device, remain among the most dangerous proliferation weapons in the world. The smaller states have nowhere near the number of weapons as the U.S. and Russia, but remain dangerous nonetheless.

It's U.S. policy to be supreme in warfare (masqueraded by the word "defense"), and that includes nuclear weapons. As long as the world political system is made up of competing nation-states, based on an exploitative system that ensures the perpetuation of mass poverty, and human nature remains what it is, the destruction of the world through nuclear war remains the number one threat to humanity, and much of life on earth. While only a whisper of a hope at this point, the idea that the world will forgo competition and take up a cooperative transnational socialist system with a planned economy, and the aim of enhancing the lives of all of earth's denizens, remains our only hope. But the elites will never simply forgo profits and the insanity of power. Ultimately it will have to be taken from them, and only a mass democratic socialist party will have the power and wherewithal to do that. And that still remains, as previously noted, a whisper of a hope, wrapped in a dream.

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