Chuck Spinney: The Economist Backs Off on Climate Change

03 Environmental Degradation, IO Impotency
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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Chuck Spinney: The Mind of the Decider — Ignorance Plus Arrogance — Disconnected from Reality While All Others Buried Their Integrity

08 Wild Cards, Corruption, Government, Idiocy, IO Deeds of War, Lessons, Military, Officers Call
Chuck Spinney
Chuck Spinney


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.

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

Chuck Spinney: The Truth About the Cuban Missile Crisis

Corruption, Government, IO Impotency, Peace Intelligence
Chuck Spinney
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


By Benjamin Schwarz, The Atlantic, 11 January 1913


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.


Chuck Spinny: Turkey Says Zionism is Fascism

06 Genocide, 07 Other Atrocities, 08 Proliferation, Cultural Intelligence
Chuck Spinney
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, 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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Chuck Spinney: Treason Thy Name is F-35A aka “Acquisition Malpractice”

Commerce, Corruption, Government, Military
Chuck Spinney
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

Chuck Spinney: Good, Bizarre, and Ugly

04 Inter-State Conflict, 05 Civil War, 07 Other Atrocities, 08 Wild Cards, 10 Security, 11 Society, Articles & Chapters, Corruption, DoD, Government, IO Deeds of War, Military, Officers Call, Peace Intelligence
Chuck Spinney


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.

C-SPAN Hour on The Pentagon Labyrinth

Budgets & Funding, Corruption, Cultural Intelligence, Government, Military, Movies

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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