Along comes Walter Pincus, an able enough Washington Post staff writer to disabuse us of any intention by incumbent George Bush to release his death-grip on America’s substitution for preemption over diplomacy. If you thought (or hoped) his eye was on getting back to his cats and favorite pillow down on the ranch, you never counted on Dick Cheney, or Cheney’s attack dog, David Addington.
If one were of a more conspiracy attuned mind than I happen to be, I might would feel the rising hairs at the back of my neck, the hot breath of military coups. An election, a preemptive strike before January 20th and extraordinary measures taken temporarily on a war-footing.
Nah. Couldn’t happen. Troops in the streets? Kent State? Nah.
(Non-Nuclear Warhead Urged for Trident Missile, by Walter Pincus, Washington Post Staff Writer, Saturday, August 16, 2008)
A National Research Council blue-ribbon panel of defense experts is recommending development and testing of a conventional warhead for submarine-launched intercontinental Trident missiles to give the president an alternative to using nuclear weapons for a prompt strike anywhere in the world.
In critical situations, such an immediate global strike weapon "would eliminate the dilemma of having to choose between responding to a sudden threat either by using nuclear weapons or by not responding at all," the panel said in a final report requested by Congress in early 2007 and released yesterday.
. . . The panel also said that few countries, other than Russia and perhaps China, would be able to detect a sub-launched missile "in the next five years," and that because of the few warheads that would be involved, "the risk of the observing nation's launching a nuclear retaliatory attack is very low."
In its study, the panel focused on scenarios in which it said the Defense Department in the past "seriously contemplated strikes." These involved the need for an immediate conventional strike to preempt an adversary whose missile system was poised to launch a nuclear weapon at the United States or an ally...
. . . The panel also included John S. Foster Jr., a former director of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Defense Department director of research and development and chairman of the Committee on the Present Danger;
Ah yes, and our man Foster has been quoted elsewhere as saying "National defense with maximum precision and minimum unintended damage should be an attractive challenge for scientists seeking to improve the human condition.” Dr. Strangelove rides again.
One can hardly contemplate a more improving influence on the human condition than America's current (Bush declared) Doctrine of Preemptive War, enhanced by maximum precision and minimum collateral damage. Improving the Rumsfeld scorecard. Death to the countries and regimes of choice without killing absolutely everyone. A man who identifies that as an attractive challenge is long past the childhood habits of pulling wings off insects.
If anything might chill the reader's blood, then giving this particular president another, easier, less confrontational, less ambiguous way to attack the world, certainly fills the bill.
Promising a 'new direction for America,' Pelosi flim-flammed us into giving her the keys to the Congress. Her obscure, misunderstood and unconstitutionally ‘off the table’ argument for impeachment and against this kind of clap-trap weaponization, is that this president is on his way out. "Oh, he'll be gone in a few months, what’s the point?" The point is preserving our republic as a nation of laws. What we give or allow this president, we give or allow all presidents to come, by precedent.
Remember, without the impeachment of Bill Clinton, all presidents would have been encouraged to solicit oral sex in the halls of the White House.
The claim that in critical situations, this newest weapon of choice in the Pandora Box "would eliminate the dilemma of having to choose between responding to a sudden threat either by using nuclear weapons or by not responding at all," is bogus on its face. It tempts presidents to respond by poll (something they do entirely too much already), promotes reckless and ill-advised presidential shots from the hip to juice their numbers and discourages the hard, slogging, necessary work of diplomacy.
Presidents, due to their four-year report cards, are as short-sighted as business executives in pursuit of the ever-elusive quarterly earnings statement. The difference is that presidents cook the nation’s books, often with horrendous consequences.
This administration in particular, but perhaps all modern administrations, have apparently thrown diplomacy (and the Department of State that administers it) into the dustbin of history. I argue that such successive presidential policy has pretty much destroyed American influence on the international stage. It has been recently claimed that we have more members of military bands than total employees in the State Department.
Ruffles and flourishes, the substitute diplomacy of the new century.
That shortfall in expertise is what ties the hands of Secretaries like the thoroughly beaten Colin Powell and the current abuse victim, Condoleeza Rice. They become mere firemen, dashing around the planet, stamping down insurgencies and smoldering paper bags on the porch in Darfur, Georgia, China, Israel, Palestine--and elsewhere--too many elsewheres to list.
We don't need a quicker way to strike, we need less tendency to strike and a calmer, more resolute method by which to negotiate. In a properly run government (let alone an administration) the situation in Georgia would never have been allowed to fester. GWB found himself surprised by what everyone else saw coming, but had no mechanism to prevent. Echoes of 9-11 and Condi Rice thrown to another lion.
A well organized Department of State would have (and once had) 'sections' devoted to every nation and region of the world--long term departments devoted to in-depth knowledge of an area's history, economics, world view and political persuasion. That legacy was available from secretary to secretary, president to president. A proper Department of State would have more than ten Arab-speakers in a workforce of 34,000.
Ten Arab speakers. Can you believe it? We have plunged ourselves into the darkness and expected, demanded, smashed all the furniture seeking illumination. The Middle East is in flames and America has ten people who can speak Arabic in their diplomatic service and probably fewer qualified in Farsi (the language of Iran).
How 'bout packing in the missiles, John Foster (all that's missing is the Dulles) and beating the drum for a diplomatic service fluent in Arabic, Persian, Pashtu, Albanian, Azerbiajani, Cantonese and Mandarin? You are the living embodiment of Martin Luther King’s prescient statement that ‘we have guided missiles and misguided men.’ Spending mercilessly on weaponry, we don't have the money to speak the language of our adversaries.
We can kill, but we can't communicate.
Instead of more thoughtful approaches to getting what we want politically and economically (the goals of all diplomacy), we have presented to us on behalf of the current crew of war-profiteers, yet another study that recommends an increase in weapons. The signatories to that study are (no surprise) heavily into the weapons promotion business.
Witness The Committee for Present Danger (nearing its 60th anniversary of perceived and ever-present dangers) as an example.
After sixty years of looking for present dangers, what the hell did we expect these nit-wits would find? Peace? Look a some of the signatory members:
They include, in addition to the aforementioned John Foster, we have Norman Podhoretz (advocate of attacking Iran) and associates of the American Enterprise Institute (Richard Perle), Heritage Foundation (Richard Mellon Scaife), AIPAC (a shadow American government) and Boeing.
Boeing? Yeah, Boeing, the ‘we know why we’re here’ people. As for the rest of the weapons contractors, McCain advisor Joe Lieberman is available to haul their water.
Being the last of the major powers still standing is tough work. So is policing the world. And for those who think we shouldn't be policing the world, I would suggest it has always fallen to the powerful--Rome, England, France, Spain, now us. The Pax Americana.
That difficult work should never depend upon a single president's perceptions, because no single man or woman is up to a detailed, up to date and unbiased world-view. Condi Rice is a Russia expert and yet she screwed up the presidential advice leading to the Georgia conflict, because she had no depth on the bench to assist her diplomacy.
As a nation, we are increasingly shying away from the hard work in favor of the easier (quicker, quarterly maximization of profit) route of intimidation, conflict and bipartisanship. It's not working. That's the conclusion of the 'Freeman Study,' for which no professionals were engaged and no cost incurred.
Having said that, the smart money is on new submarine armaments.