Chuck Spinney: The Economist Backs Off on Climate Change

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Chuck Spinney

Chuck Spinney

The below report in The Economist highlights the controversies overtaking the consensus position on human-induced global warming in climate science.

IMO, it is balanced; indeed, in many ways, it might even be construed as being slightly biased toward the consensus pro-warming position.  This report does not, for example, disucss the cosmic ray hypothesis of the Danish physicist, Hans Svensmark (explained here with a link to Svensmark’s very important paper), even though that hypothesis is gaining some experimental support; nor does this report address the well-known problems of instrumental temperature measurements (resulting in adjustments that have the analytically convenient effect of increasing the degree of warming over time) or the poorly understood reliabilities of proxies (e.g., tree rings, ice cores, etc) for measuring long term baselines.

What makes this report and its accompanying editorial (here) interesting is not only its balance but the fact that, to date, The Economist has leaned toward the “pro-warming” side of the climate science debate; so, this report indicates a shift to a more ambivalent position.

All in all, I think The Economist has introduced a sound dose of sanity to what has become a totured unscientific emotional debate, reminiscent of those I saw repeatedly in the Pentagon’s politically motivated uses of science to support weapons advocacy.

Chuck Spinney

The climate may be heating up less in response to greenhouse-gas emissions than was once thought. But that does not mean the problem is going away

Mar 30th 2013

OVER the past 15 years air temperatures at the Earth’s surface have been flat while greenhouse-gas emissions have continued to soar. The world added roughly 100 billion tonnes of carbon to the atmosphere between 2000 and 2010. That is about a quarter of all the CO₂ put there by humanity since 1750. And yet, as James Hansen, the head of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, observes, “the five-year mean global temperature has been flat for a decade.”

Read full article.

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Mar 29

Chuck Spinney: The Mind of the Decider — Ignorance Plus Arrogance — Disconnected from Reality While All Others Buried Their Integrity

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Chuck Spinney

Chuck Spinney

NATIONAL SECURITY

Iraq Invasion Anniversary: Inside The Decider’s Head

By Chuck Spinney, March 22, 2013

[note: a shorter version of this essay also appeared in Counterpunch here]

In the summer of 2002, during the lead up to the Iraq War, a White House official expressed displeasure about with article written by journalist Ron Suskind in Esquire. He asserted people like Suskind were trapped “in what we call the reality-based community,” which the official defined as people who ”believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.”

President Bush announces the invasion of Iraq from the Oval Office, Mar. 19, 2003.

President Bush announces the invasion of Iraq from the Oval Office, Mar. 19, 2003.

Suskind murmured something about enlightenment principles grounded in scientific empiricism, but the official cut him off, saying,

We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality — judiciously, as you will — we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.

This is a revealing statement about the mentality in the Bush White House prior to the Iraq War.

Think about it: in effect, the official is claiming the mind of a decider, who is tasked with making decisions to cope with the constraints of the real world, has the power to create a new reality over and over again. Therefore the decider need not be worried about matching his actions against those constraints, or even observing those constraints, before making his decisions.

Arrogant? To be sure.

Unusual inside the Beltway?  Not really, based on my experience in the Pentagon.

But this outlook also reflects an incredibly stupid and dangerous way to orient one’s decision cycle to events in the real world.

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Mar 22

Chuck Spinney: The Truth About the Cuban Missile Crisis

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Chuck Spinney

The below article, which appeared in the Atlantic last January, is a very important illustration of how domestic politics determine foreign policy.  Bear in mind, the behaviour described below occurred when there was (and still is) a consensus among the pol-mil intellectuals that domestic politics stops at the water’s edge and that foreign policy was and should be bi-partisan — the conclusion is a good analysis of where this kind of romantic intellectualization leads.

The Real Cuban Missile Crisis

EVERYTHING YOU THINK YOU KNOW ABOUT THOSE 13 DAYS IS WRONG.

By Benjamin Schwarz, The Atlantic, 11 January 1913

EXTRACT

On that very first day of the ExComm meetings, McNamara provided a wider perspective on the missiles’ significance: “I’ll be quite frank. I don’t think there is a military problem here … This is a domestic, political problem.” In a 1987 interview, McNamara explained: “You have to remember that, right from the beginning, it was President Kennedy who said that it was politically unacceptable for us to leave those missile sites alone. He didn’t say militarily, he said politically.” What largely made the missiles politically unacceptable was Kennedy’s conspicuous and fervent hostility toward the Castro regime—a stance, Kennedy admitted at an ExComm meeting, that America’s European allies thought was “a fixation” and “slightly demented.”

Read full article.

 

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Mar 18

Chuck Spinny: Turkey Says Zionism is Fascism

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Chuck Spinney

My experience in Turkey based on two years there is entirely consistent with Giraldi’s point of view.

Talking Turkey About Zionism

by

AntiWar.com, March 07, 2013

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is in trouble again with Washington and Tel Aviv because he dared to equate Zionism with fascism and anti-Semitism as an ideology or political movement that has brought oppression. Erdogan was speaking at a United Nations sponsored Alliance of Civilizations conference in Vienna dealing with instilling tolerance. He spoke in Turkish, but his words as translated into English were, “It is necessary that we must consider – just like Zionism or anti-Semitism or fascism – Islamophobia is a crime against humanity.” Erdogan was immediately pounced upon by the usual suspects and new American Secretary of State John Kerry was also quick to pull the trigger by saying, “We not only disagree with it. We found it objectionable.” He also stated that the comments did not help the Israel-Palestine peace process. That there is no peace process due to Israel’s unwillingness to countenance an actual Palestinian state with genuine sovereignty is apparently irrelevant, but then again it has been irrelevant to American policymakers ever since 1967, when the Israelis first occupied the remaining land that they had not already taken in the aftermath of the 1947 partition of Palestine.

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Mar 10

Chuck Spinney: Treason Thy Name is F-35A aka “Acquisition Malpractice”

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Chuck Spinney

Below is more insight into the disgraceful state of affairs of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the largest program in DoD’s history.  This commentary by Winslow Wheeler, Director of the Strauss Military Reform Project, is based on the information in yet another official Pentagon DOT&E report.  Read it and weep … I especially uge that doubters, deniers, and non-believers take the time to peruse the entire official DOT&E report at this link, also referenced in Winslow’s the first paragraph.

It is important to understand F-35’s deplorable state of affairs is  a typical albeit extreme example of where concurrency leads — higher costs, decreased performance, stretched-out and/or truncated production runs, culminating in aging, shrinking inventories and rising costs of maintaining even low rates of readiness of combat forces.  And the concurrency horrors of the F-35 are by no means unique, think F-111, C-5, V-22F-22, and F-18E/F.  To be sure, concurrency is not the sole cause of these aforementioned trends, but it is a major contributor.
But in the case of the F-35, even some parts of the Pentagon are starting to gag on the monster they have unleashed.  In February 2012, no less an authority than Frank Kendall, the Pentagon’s acting acquisition chief charactered the F-35’s grossly excessive concurrency as “acquisition malpractice.”  (Congressional Research Report (RL30563), F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) Program, see page 7).
Of course, Kendall’s statement smacked of the pot calling the kettle black.  Where was the concern by him or his predecessors when they could have done something about what is now a $1.4 trillion* problem?   It is not as if the general nature, if not the specifics, of the inevitable F-35 mess was hard for acquisition managers to foresee — if you doubt that, read my essay, JSF: One More Card in the House, published over 12 years ago in the August 2000 issue of the Proceedings of the Naval Institute.
_______
* Estimated  (as of 2011) life cycle cost for developing, buying, and operating 2443 F-35s for 30 years, assuming total production run, assuming no more unexpected problems, schedule slippages, and a full production run [source]. 
Chuck Spinney
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Mar 6

Chuck Spinney: Good, Bizarre, and Ugly

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Chuck Spinney

WEEKEND EDITION NOVEMBER 25-27, 2011

The Good, the Bizarre and the Ugly

AF-PAK Sitrep

by FRANKLIN C. SPINNEY, Counterpunch

It is becoming increasingly clear that the AF-PAK war will end in yet another grand strategic defeat for the United States.  To date, President Obama, has been able to distract attention from this issue, but given the stakes in 2012, that dodge is unlikely to last. Get ready for an ugly debate over “who lost the Afghan War.”

To those readers who disagree with my opening line, I urge you to study Anthony Cordersman’s most recent situation report on the AF-PAK War, THE AFGHANISTAN- PAKISTAN WAR AT THE END OF 2011: Strategic Failure? Talk Without Hope? Tactical Success? Spend Not Build (And Then Stop Spending)?  It was issued by the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington on November 15.  Reading the report is heavy slogging but I urge readers to download and examine it — at the very least, take a few minutes  to read the executive summary.

Now compare Cordesman’s systematic, detailed, and workmanlike analysis to the bizarre obscurantism peddled one week later, on 22 November, co-authored by Michael O’Hanlon (Brookings Institution) and former Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz (American Enterprise Institute) in a Wall Street Journal op-ed, entitled Defining Victory in Afghanistan.

O’Hanlon and Wolfowitz posit the bizarre thesis that the admittedly less than successful outcome against the FARC guerrillas in Columbia is a favorable model for justifying continuing business as usual in Afghanistan. Viewed through the refractions of their Columbian lens, O’Hanlon and Wolfowitz conclude, “Our current exit strategy of reducing American troops to 68,000 by the end of next summer and transferring full security responsibility to Afghan forces by 2014 is working. In a war where the U.S. has demonstrated remarkable strategic patience, we need to stay patient and resolute.”

Are O’Hanlon and Wolfowitz living on the same planet as Cordesman or do they live in some kind of parallel universe?

I submit it is latter. Here’s why –

Read full analysis.

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Nov 25

C-SPAN Hour on The Pentagon Labyrinth

The Pentagon Labyrinth on C-SPAN

Mar 11, 2011

Stewart R. Mott Charitable Trust | Mott House

Three former, high-level Pentagon insiders take a critical look at how the Defense Department operates and where the money it receives goes. The three- Thomas Christie, Franklin Spinney and Pierre Sprey – are contributors to the book, The Pentagon Labyrinth. Danielle Brian, executive director .. Read More

Three former, high-level Pentagon insiders take a critical look at how the Defense Department operates and where the money it receives goes. The three- Thomas Christie, Franklin Spinney and Pierre Sprey – are contributors to the book, The Pentagon Labyrinth. Danielle Brian, executive director of the Project On Government Oversight (POGO), acts as moderator for the discussion.

Watch Video: 1 hour, 2 minutes

See Also + Pierre Sprey’s “Seven Rules”:

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Mar 22

Reference: The Pentagon Labyrinth

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The Pentagon Labyrinth

It is my pleasure to announce the publication of The Pentagon Labyrinth: 10 Short Essays to Help You Through It. This is a short pamphlet of less than 150 pages and is available at no cost in E-Book PDF format, as well as in hard copy from links on this page as well as here and here.  Included in the menu below are download links for a wide variety of supplemental/supporting information (much previously unavailable on the web) describing how notions of combat effectiveness relate to the basic building blocks of people, ideas, and hardware/technology; the nature of strategy; and the dysfunctional character of the Pentagon’s decision making procedures and the supporting role of its  accounting shambles.

Chuck Spinney
The Blaster

This pamphlet aims to help both newcomers and seasoned observers learn how to grapple with the problems of national defense.  Intended for readers who are frustrated with the superficial nature of the debate on national security, this handbook takes advantage of the insights of ten unique professionals, each with decades of experience in the armed services, the Pentagon bureaucracy, Congress, the intelligence community, military history, journalism and other disciplines.  The short but provocative essays will help you to:

  • identify the decay – moral, mental and physical – in America’s defenses,
  • understand the various “tribes” that run bureaucratic life in the Pentagon,
  • appreciate what too many defense journalists are not doing, but should,
  • conduct first rate national security oversight instead of second rate theater,
  • separate careerists from ethical professionals in senior military and civilian ranks,
  • learn to critique strategies, distinguishing the useful from the agenda-driven,
  • recognize the pervasive influence of money in defense decision-making,
  • unravel the budget games the Pentagon and Congress love to play,
  • understand how to sort good weapons from bad – and avoid high cost failures, and
  • reform the failed defense procurement system without changing a single law.

The handbook ends with lists of contacts, readings and Web sites carefully selected to facilitate further understanding of the above, and more.

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Mar 10

Reference: Domestic Roots of Perpetual War

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Full Source Online

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Jan 19

Journal: Pentagon Lies, NYT Sells Out, Obama Fiddles

 

Chuck Spinney Sends

Rotting Oder of Pentagon Info Op Signals Effort to Shore Up its Great Game in the Hindu Kush

On 13 June, James Risen of the New York Times conveniently (at least for the Pentagon and the war party) reported that the “United States has discovered $1 trillion in untapped mineral deposits in Afghanistan [also attached below for your convenience].  I say convenient, because time is running out for the Pentagon in Afghanistan, and this report introduces a ‘new’ reason for occupying Afghanistan.  The timing of this report was noticed very quickly by several skeptical commentators ( e.g., here and here). 

But there is more.  The NYT report has the rotting odor of yet another Pentagon misinformation operation to lather up the masses using the willing offices of the tired old Gray Lady of journalism.  The oder is intense, because Risen’s Pentagon-inspired geological report coincides with the growing disenchantment with Afghan adventure.  And more people are coming to appreciate the disconnect between (1) a spate of credible reports (e.g., here)  describing the lack of progress in Afghanistan, particularly the failure of the showcase Marja COIN strategy to deliver its predicted result and (2) the requirement imposed by President Obama to show progress by the end of this summer.  Bear in mind, Obama’s ‘requirement’ was imposed on the Pentagon when he improved the flawed McChrystal/Petraeus surge plan and sold it to the American people last fall.  The military and spokesmen for the Obama administration began immediately  to back away from the deadline shortly after its inception, and it has already been stretched to coincide with the mid-term elections in November — which goes to show that domestic politics do not end at the water’s edge?

Although the several commentators expressed their justifiable skepticism about the timing of the NYT report, to the best of my knowledge, none have addressed the substance of the mineral estimate.  Shortly after it was published, my good friend and colleague Pierre Sprey, who has been called a vampire because he does his best work in the dark after midnight, got to the heart of the latter question and put the entire story together in an elegantly brief email that he distributed in the dark early hours of 14 June. 

Attached for your reading pleasure is Pierre’s incisive critique:

Pierre Sprey

U.S. Identifies Vast Riches of Minerals in Afghanistan
Pierre Sprey  14 June 2010

The timing of this release of ancient mining news–especially when floated with Petraeus’ name plastered all over it in a tried-and-true government propaganda outlet like the N.Y. Times–smells to me like a last ditch attempt to invent an economic justification for hanging on many more years in the hopeless Afghani morass.

Note that the now sacrosanct 1980s Russian mineral survey was “stumbled on” six years ago in 2004 by an American reconstruction team foraging in the Afghan Geological Survey Library. Then, according to the Times’ (read Petraeus and DoD) spin, nothing happened until two years later when the U.S. Geological Survey launched a 2006 aerial mineral survey followed by another in 2007, supposedly yielding all-new evidence of astonishing mineral wealth (iron, gold, copper, lithium, supposedly a trillion dollar’s worth)  just waiting to be tapped. Supposedly, this astonishing new evidence was then ignored by all until a Pentagon business development task force “rediscovered” the ignored USGS mineral data in 2009.

This spin is quite untrue: in 2005, the Afghan government, quite aware of their mineral resources, opened bidding on copper mining leases in Logar Province, bidding that was won by the Chinese in 2007. As for the reliability of the USGS data, note that they report 1.8 billion tons of potential lithium deposits (lithium is very trendy with the greens these days) but only a puny 111 million tons in proven or probable deposits.
 
But none of this purportedly astonishing USGS aerial survey data has raised much dust in the international mining world, despite the fact that the entire current New York Times scoop was thoroughly covered by Reuters and Mining Exploration News a year ago in April of 2009.

So what turned the ho-hum Reuters news of April, 2009 into a hot Times scoop in June of 2010? Is there any connection with the desperate need of McChrystal, Petraeus and Gates for a life jacket, now that the Afghan surge they floated is sinking so rapidly?

Sheep in Wolf's Clothing

Here it is….

U.S. Identifies Vast Mineral Riches in Afghanistan

By JAMES RISEN  New York Times, 13 June 2010

WASHINGTON — The United States has discovered nearly $1 trillion in untapped mineral deposits in Afghanistan, far beyond any previously known reserves and enough to fundamentally alter the Afghan economy and perhaps the Afghan war itself, according to senior American government officials.

The previously unknown deposits — including huge veins of iron, copper, cobalt, gold and critical industrial metals like lithium — are so big and include so many minerals that are essential to modern industry that Afghanistan could eventually be transformed into one of the most important mining centers in the world, the United States officials believe.

An internal Pentagon memo, for example, states that Afghanistan could become the “Saudi Arabia of lithium,” a key raw material in the manufacture of batteries for laptops and BlackBerrys.

And so on….read the full deception.

See Also:

Chapter 20, “21st Century Counterintelligence: Evaluating the Health of the Nation,” especially Dereliction of Duty (Defense); Disinformation, Other Information Pathologies, & Repression; Emprire as a Cancer including Betrayal & Deceit; Impeacahable Offenses (Modern); Institutionalized  Ineptitude; and Intelligence (Lack Of), all in the online hyperlinked version of INTELLIGENCE for Earth: Clarity, Diversity, Integrity, & Sustainability (pages 179-205, in Part III.

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Jun 16