Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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May 29, 2008
By: Cheryl Rofer

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, PSI!....In an article less tinged with snark than usual, Dana Milbank critiques National Security Advisor Steven Hadley's appearance at the fifth anniversary celebration of President Bush's Proliferation Security Initiative.

This is one of the administration's initiatives designed to keep us safer since 9/11, but they can't tell us what it's doing to keep us safer because that would tell the evildoers.

I'll agree with Milbank that Hadley's speech was deadly dull and chock-full of stuff he didn't need to say. But The Sun goes him one better, aided by certified neocon and John Bolton aide David Wurmser. Wurmser is not at all happy that the PSI has grown to 90 nations from the seven he and Bolton personally selected.

This initiative was precisely an answer to the ossified, broad based proliferation structures that were failing us. It was meant to be an association of like-minded nations genuinely worried and serious about counter-proliferation.
Hadley gave one of those mysterious non-examples, all identities removed to protect sources and methods, as they say.
One example of its success occurred in February 2007, when four nations represented in this room worked together to interdict equipment bound for Syria -- equipment that could have been used to test ballistic missile components. A firm in one nation had manufactured the equipment. A firm in another nation was the intermediary that sold it to Syria. The shipping company was flagged in a third nation. And customs officials at the port of a fourth nation were alerted to offload and inspect the equipment -- and send it back to the country of origin.
Wrongdoer nations were included: one of the nations "represented in this room" had hosted the firm that manufactured the equipment, another hosted the intermediary firm and a third hosted the shipping company. This says nothing about their governments' involvements, which were presumably on the side of the angels.

But it is an example of why you've got to talk to everyone. Which is probably what's upsetting Wurmser.

(h/t to MC)

Cheryl Rofer 1:44 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (21)

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Actually, what this illustrates, a point probably lost on neo-con idiots, is that the primary agents of proliferation are, of course, mostly nations already in the nukular and/or ballistic-missile- delivered-weapons club. And most, if not all of them, allow all this to be produced by private firms that are, in turn, allowed to sell this shit to other nations.

Then again, there is (are) the Internet(s).

Posted by: Jeff II on May 29, 2008 at 2:17 PM | PERMALINK

It's funny how we've got all these fools running all these important national agencies who have absolutely convinced themselves that they're always right and that it's necessary that they wrest control of the country from liberals.

Here they are about to give up on Iraq. They've surely acknowledged to themselves privately by now that it's not going to work. They're just waiting until after the election to make it the official Republican policy that Iraq is a failed expedition.

Posted by: Swan on May 29, 2008 at 3:02 PM | PERMALINK

Funny, too, that there are liberals who can't appreciate that these guys are sleazoids.

There was some right-winger dude on TV claiming that Buchenwald wasn't unusual in the history of war-- as if in the Revolutionary War and the Civil War and the Spanish American war (or pick any random war) the combatants were throwing civilian prisoners who had been arbitrarily arrested into forced labor camps where they were summarily executed, skinned alive, and had junk-science torture-experiments performed on them. Buchenwald was just a death camp without the gas and incinerators. But to people who secretly wish Jews (and others) could be shipped off to such camps in America nowadays, such distinctions only matter for how you can fool the American public about a detail of Barack Obama's family's history.

Posted by: Swan on May 29, 2008 at 3:07 PM | PERMALINK

There are some of us who would like to ship Swan off to summer camp.

Posted by: optical weenie on May 29, 2008 at 3:09 PM | PERMALINK

Conan will show science woman how to spin leaf on wolf tooth if science woman ask nice.

Posted by: conan the barbarian, aka thersites on May 29, 2008 at 3:15 PM | PERMALINK


I'm not by any stretch of the imagination apologizing for any right-wing "dudes" and certainly not the Nazis. But someone needs to point out to you that the history of war goes back to well before the American Revolution and that in the long 10,000 year tragedy that is the history of human "civilization" the wholesale slaughter of civilian populations in wartime has not been all that uncommon.

Posted by: thersites on May 29, 2008 at 3:30 PM | PERMALINK

I already know how to punch holes in leaves with my teeth. What I want to know is where do I get the USB leaf reader.

What the point is it to have a memory stick if all one keeps doing is losing it because it is so small and the desk is so messy.

Posted by: optical weenie on May 29, 2008 at 3:39 PM | PERMALINK

We get a lot of self-congratulatory dinners and awards, and a lot of damage control and fig-leaves, but we don't get a lot of real accountability.

Hell, the corporate news I saw on TV last night portrayed former CIA director George Tenet as a critic of George W. Bush's Iraq war policy. Bush gave that guy a medal like yesterday!

Thersites, no one needs to point out to me or anyone else that in the history of warfare, there have been many atrocities, but in the western world, by 1940, Attilla-the-Hun-like warfare atrocities (and certainly ones that were organized by a combatant's leadership or forces, rather than spontaneous actions of individual troops) were almost eliminated. The western nations even entered into treaties (like the Geneva Conventions) to outlaw such things.

By the way, your singling out of my use of the word "dudes" is totally irrelevant and certainly a distraction from what we're discussing. It's just the type of thing someone who wants to excuse the people who are touting this crap about Buchenwald would do. Just sayin'.

Posted by: Swan on May 29, 2008 at 3:46 PM | PERMALINK

Shorter Thersites:

If you go back to the Inquisition, or the ancient Romans, or pre-Christian barbarians, kidnapping innocent civilians because of their religious affilication and ethnicity, imprisoning them, working them to death, killing them at random, and flaying them alive wouldn't have seemed too unprecedented, so therefore it's kind of alright if the Nazis do it after hundreds of years of progress of civilization have passed.

Cue Thersites and a bunch of others screeching that Thersites wasn't arguing that it was alright (although it's actually the clearest explanation for why he or she is putting the effort into arguing this)....

Posted by: Swan on May 29, 2008 at 3:54 PM | PERMALINK


Go back to pre-1865 America. I apologize for and excuse nothing, I merely point out its existence. But I won't argue with you anymore.

Posted by: thersites on May 29, 2008 at 4:08 PM | PERMALINK

SCREECH - Thersites wasn't arguing that it was alright!

Posted by: optical weenie on May 29, 2008 at 4:42 PM | PERMALINK

I'm just a historical liar, that's all.

And look up Aztecs, Incas, Cherokees. But that all happened in the pre-Christian era, didn't it?

Posted by: thersites on May 29, 2008 at 4:57 PM | PERMALINK

Thersites, I rest my case. The Native American people were barbarians. Furthermore, they weren't part of Western civilization. Furthermore, physically barbaric crimes committed by white people against non-whites were rationalized on racist grounds, and certainly were not the norm of cross-racial interaction by 1940, and were being phased out through public measures (such as the Geneva Conventions). It's amazing, if you're truly a liberal, that you're arguing that war crimes similar to the scale and organization of a Buchenwald are some kind of a well-entrenched norm of our civilization that Buchenwald wasn't even a deviation from.

Anyway, Native American behaviors were by and large nothing compared to the Old World. Native American barbarities were more individual acts; the genocide white Americans and Europeans intermittently committed against them looked a lot more like the Nazi genocide, if you want to judge by comparison.

Thersites wrote: And look up Aztecs, Incas, Cherokees. But that all happened in the pre-Christian era, didn't it?

You can't exactly be influenced by the western civilization if you're a member of a totally alien culture who only has met a few individual members of a western civilization intermittently, if any at all. It was totally ridiculous (and distortionist) to treat my argument as if I was saying that at the chronological advent of Christianity, all cultures somehow stopped being barbaric (did I not mention the Inquisition, by the way) as if some magical force sweeped the world and did it to them, whether they ever encountered the societies influenced by Locke, Hobbes, Rousseau and Spinoza, or not.

Here is a knowledgeable person relating what happened at Buchenwald, just to cut off any troll who shows up and contradicts my description in the hopes that people will fall for any Republican who makes a noise as if they spotted a distortion: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/menachem-rosensaft/using-the-holocaust-to-sm_b_103990.html

Posted by: Swan on May 29, 2008 at 5:21 PM | PERMALINK

The Nazis certainly had the benefit of every civilized nation (or every nation they considered civilized) having long-banned slavery, and in most cases all other ethnically-discriminatory laws, long before the Nazis created the Buchenwalds of the world.

This had been institutionalized for decades and certainly the idea that human beings shouldn't be treated like animals was common.

Posted by: Swan on May 29, 2008 at 5:24 PM | PERMALINK

Swan, I said I was done arguing with you. I lied.

When I referred you to the histories of various Native American civilizations, I was referring to the behavior of civilized Christian Europeans toward native peoples, not the behavior of the Native Americans.

You say, and I quote you exactly The Native American people were barbarians. Whose ethnocentric ignorance and bigotry is on display here?

And for the last time I am not making excuses for Nazi atrocities, merely pointing out that they're not quite as unique as we would like to believe they are.

Posted by: thersites on May 29, 2008 at 5:30 PM | PERMALINK

Anyway, about the only thing the argument "Everyone else is doing it, so we can, too" justifies is eating, breathing, living in a house, and sleeping (but the Republicans don't accept that argument, because then you get to accepting the idea of human rights-- rather they only accept this kind of an argument when it's used to justify torture and kidnapping innocent women and children and elderly people and imprisoning them).

Posted by: Swan on May 29, 2008 at 5:31 PM | PERMALINK

Thersites, please stop giving Swan the provigil.

Posted by: optical weenie on May 29, 2008 at 6:13 PM | PERMALINK

Weenie, I thought it would help clarify his thinking. I guess I was wrong.

thersites, that well-known apologist for atrocities.

Posted by: thersites on May 29, 2008 at 6:16 PM | PERMALINK
equipment that could have been used to test ballistic missile components.

That could be any general purpose electronics testing or measuring equipment like multimeters or oscilloscopes. Hell you could use a battery and a bicycle light to test missile components.

AQ, Father of the Islamic bomb, Khan, once got in trouble for smuggling oscilloscopes. Or maybe I thinking of his pal Frans van Anraat who sold precursor chemicals to Saddam. (They once got stopped together at the Belgian border in car with something in the trunk, maybe thats what I remember. Chemical guy Van Anraat was detained... and the nuclear engineer Khan was not.) Anyway that would be kind of silly considering how common scopes have be become these days. Precisely the kind of silly thing you would expect Hadley to hype.

Posted by: uu on May 29, 2008 at 6:45 PM | PERMALINK

Cheryl, let’s give credit where it is properly due. This action was facilitated by the Lugar-Obama Nonproliferation legislation.

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