The BU$H Agenda
Women, Fire, and Dangerous
Things George Lakoff
The Republican War on Science
A Darwinian Left
The Coming Anarchy
Rise of the Vulcans
Bush at War
Plan of Attack
State of Denial
The BU$H Agenda
Subtitled: INVADING THE WORLD One
Economy at a Time
C1 The Bush
The book starts with a description of the talk by Bush before
UN on Sept 14, 2005. Two days before the bodies of 45 people
been discovered in a New Orleans hospital following Katrina.
spent 95 seconds on Katrina of the 25 minute speech. Most of
talk was devoted to the War in Iraq and on free trade. "Our
agenda for freer trade is part of our agenda for a freer world."
This agenda goes back to George H W Bush and its framers
Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Kalmay Khalilzad, Robert
Zoellick, and Scooter Libby. "Free Trade
is a shorthand for a number of economic policies that expand the rights
of multinational corporations and investors to operate in more
locations, under fewer regulations, with less commitment to any
Critics refer to this as corporate
globalization. These "policies free the
multinational corporations from government regulation but they cost
the rest of society a vast amount of economic and social security."
One year prior to 9/11 the CIA warned "that rising global
financial inequality will foster political . . . and religious
extremism, along with the violence that often accompanies it."
This concept was born at the end of WW II, the difference is
Bush has directly aligned economic might with military force.
There are supporters, especially those in the energy industry.
Juhasz finishes the chapter by describing her interest in this area and
one of her most defining moments, when Bush gave his State of the Union
address after 9/11 when he explicitly stated that "trading in freedom",
"free trade", and "free markets" were synonymous with "freedom" and
that the United States was willing to implement this theory with
military force. "It was pure imperial ambition, which the
advocated of the Bush Agenda had been waiting for decades to implement."
C2 Ambitions of
Empire One of the advantages of reading a book,
putting it down, reading a couple of other books, and then coming back
to the first book is that you see it with slightly different eyes.
This time my eyes spotted the name of the author of two of
the books that I just read, Robert D. Kaplan. The author
calls him a prominent conservative and a part of the pro-empire crowd.
That's not exactly what his two books said. Yes,
Kaplan says the US is an Empire. If it walks like a duck,
talks like a duck, and looks like a duck - I am not going to call it a
chickadee just because you don't like ducks. We are an empire
- he was offering some guidance on how to do the job better.
Is he a conservative - define conservative for me.
My father was a conservative - he believed in leaving the
land better than he got it. He also voted for a few
Republicans - they certainly weren't the kind of republicans who are
running our country into the ground today.
The chapter is mainly about those who want to make the US into a bigger
empire than it already is. This is primarily about the
"Vulcans". See Rise of the Vulcans
by James Mann with a couple of additions. If you wish a
better discussion of the American Empire see American Theocracy
by Kevin Phillips, it is much more complete. The current
is strictly about the Bush version of a phenomenon that is much longer
lasting. None of this makes it good, just get the facts
straight and do not confuse them.
C3 A Model for Failure: Corporate Globalization The
creation of the IMF (International Monetary Fund), World Bank, the
creation and subsequent destruction of the International Trade
Organization and its replacement with the WTO (World Trade
Organization). These were created at the end of WW II to
the damage. The original discussions were held at Bretton
They were gradually taken over by the interests of
corporations to promote laws that they desired. There is a
gallery of nations that borrowed money but then were badly damaged when
some of the provisions were enforced, Zambia, Russia, and Argentina.
How Wal-Mart exploits foreign and domestic workers using
organizations and the laws that they require. Some of the
resistance that is building.
Corporations: Bechtel, Chevron, Halliburton, and Lockheed MartinThe
author first describes the links that the major Bush players have with
the corporations, then describes the origin of the companies and then
some examples of their "anti-social" behavior in other endeavors,
mainly overseas. In a few cases a number of their current
with the Bush Administration at lower levels of government.
C5 "A Mutual
Seduction": Turning Toward Iraq
Oil has been known to exist and has been used since biblical
times. It is only in modern times (since 1900) that leaders
and large oil companies began joint efforts to exploit this resource.
Armed forces of Europe, America, and others to a lesser
soon became involve. This chapter discusses the complicated
economics and politics of Iraqi oil in the latter half of the twentieth
C6 The Economic
Invasion of Iraq
The remaking of Iraq according to the Bush Agenda as carried
by Paul Bremer. The Iraq war began on March 17, 2003 and can
arbitrarily said to have been completed on May 1, 2003 when Bush spoke
on the Deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln under the "Mission Accomplished"
banner. Bremer took charge of the occupation of Iraq an
instituted a number of rules and laws that Bush and the corporations
wanted. The author describes a number of these orders and
what effect they have on the economy and society of Iraq. A
number of these orders specifically violate the Geneva Conventions of
1949 and the Hague Regulations of 1907. These orders made it
extremely difficult to develop businesses in Iraq which would benefit
the people of Iraq and extremely easy for multinational corporations to
carry out business with no regard for the welfare of the Iraqi people.
"Free Trade" in Place of "Freedom" to the Middle East: The
US-Middle East Free Trade Area
A description of the efforts to set up a MIddle East Free
Area. This is primarily the story of Robert Zoellick.
has worked for or around the Bush family for most of his life.
is the author portions of the 2000 Bush-Republican campaign strategy on
foreign affairs and he was the chief negotiator for many of the
discussions with Middle East regarding a free trade zone.
According to the author he is a very persistent negotiator
not above lying to get his way. He definitely uses threats of
force. Some of his discussions with Saudi Arabia, Egypt,
Kuwait, Yemen, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Morocco, Oman, and
Iraq. Other negotiations with Israel, Jordan, and Bahrain
discussed. The author criticizes these agreements.
C8 The Failure
of the Bush Agenda: A World at Greater Risk
The so called "War on Terror" is increasing the likelihood of
terrorist attacks rather than reducing the risk.
for al-Qaeda and for Muslim groups continue to report that they hate
the activities and policies of the US and not our freedoms.
is also confirmed by studies performed by the Defense Department.
C9 A Better
Agenda is Possible
"Bush has guaranteed that we will live in a safer, more
prosperous, freer, and more peaceful world if" his policies are
followed. "The Bush Agenda has proven to have the opposite
effect: increased deadly acts of terrorism, economic insecurity,
reduced freedoms, and more war." "The Bush Agenda is a
for all but its drafters - including executives of the largest
multinational corporations." The problem will not go away,
if Bush and Cheney were to disappear tomorrow support for the agenda
will continue. To solve the problems we must take positive
stop the war, end economic and cultural imperialism, and end corporate
globalization. The troops must be brought home, US corporate
reconstruction contracts must be replaced by Iraq reconstruction
contracts and the US-Middle East Free Trade Area must be canceled.
Corporate globalization contracts must be terminated and
by contracts with countries without external pressure.
Some more explicit examples are the following:
The author shows a tendency to "cherry pick" facts that support her
ideas. Again this is sort of a "bad people doing bad things"
book. I would prefer to see more in depth analysis.
terms of what to do to solve the problems of the Bush Agenda I would
like to see more specific suggestions and analysis. The
are based on a simplistic moral analysis, stop doing that, its wrong.
This is countered by the Bush - keep doing that - its right.
For one of the examples - Bring US military contractors home
Add more details. How many are there? Can they just
everything or will it take a while to finish up? How long
this take for various scenarios? How much would it cost - for
what? Imagine if Juhasz were appointed Emperor. How
it get done? This would be a much larger book - it would also
a more complete book that confronts the actual issues that would come
up. The dust cover of the book calls her a "renowned
international trade and finance policy expert." This is what
would expect such an expert to do, not make me guess at what needs to
be done or how to do it.
- Bring American troops home immediately.
- Introduce an international peacekeeping and/or security
Force under the auspices of the UN and supported by local countries.
- Bring US military contractors home.
- Bring US construction contractors home.
- Terminate the Bremer political and economic orders and
bring the people home.
- Establish an Iraq Reconstruction Fund with international
- Assist Iraq in transitioning from an oil extraction economy.
- Increase energy efficiency in the US and explore
alternative energy sources.
- Pass regulations requiring corporations to become more
to local issues and all of their stake-holders (customers and employees
- Eliminate forced free trade agreements and reinvigorate the
- Cancel all debt to impoverished countries from the World
Bank and IMF.
The book ends with 16 pages of notes and 21 pages of index.
This book has the longest, most run-on subtitle I have ever seen.
It was also a bit of a disappointment as far as I was
I like a clear statement of the problem, documentation that
exists, possible solutions, and then the most probable solution to
solve the problem. Good interesting writing helps.
realize that this is an ideal that won't work for every topic but it's
not a bad goal. This book, along with many others states the
problem, documents the problem, (go back to step 2 until you run out of
ink), write the final chapter.
I understand the problem, the conservative right has found a workable
tool, misleading language and appropriate framing, and a few other
techniques, and successfully used these to change the balance of
political power in the United States over the last 40 or so years.
These are not totally new techniques, they have just been
consistently and they have been met with total unpreparedness and no
appropriate response from liberals. In terms of documenting
abuses Nunberg has done a very good job. In terms of
appropriate solutions he doesn't do much. George Lakoff, who
writes fairly similar books, does a much better job of presenting a
theoretical framework for understanding the differences between
conservative fundamentalists and liberals (progressives) suggests
methods of countering their propaganda. Nunberg is just
us a story of bad people doing bad things. It's all based on
language so we don't have many physical atrocities but language is how
you explain that atrocities are Essential For Our Way of Life.
I have said before, I would prefer a computer searchable database of
these "bad words" and then suggestions as to how each phrase could be
It closes with a description of how word counts were performed, 41
pages of notes (he has done a superb job of documentation), and a 10
Women, Fire, and Dangerous Things
George Lakoff April 2007
I was somewhat disappointed with this book. I am interested
his thoughts regarding linguistics and politics and how political
decisions are made. This book was written before he was doing
much writing on politics. It is easy to see where many of his
later ideas came from, but it is still a book on linguistics.
The book is broken into three main parts, the first deals with how
humans categorize experience and form the cognitive models that they
use in their lives. The second part deals with philosophical
implications of our assumptions and how the effect our openness to new
ideas. The third part deals with three case studies, anger,
and there. This is heavy duty linguistic theorizing with
many examples. Way beyond my linguistic knowledge or interest.
In very brief the first part states that different cultures have very
different ways of viewing the world and although we (Western - Greek
and Latin based cultures) tend to view the world in one way, many other
successful cultures do it differently. There is no reason to
state that our views are the best. He goes into a lot of
on other methods.
The second part discusses the objectivist viewpoint (which arose in
large part from Greek philosophers) shapes our view of the world and
why this viewpoint is not necessarily the best for explaining many of
the new views of science.
(Begin Rant Mode!) In this and other books Lakoff makes many
disparaging remarks regarding efficiency and computer modeling.
He is careful to qualify some of his comments, but it strikes
that these are primarily emotional reactions to perhaps overzealous
practitioners of the art who are enamored of these terms. If
efficiency is defined to narrowly only consider financial return to
investors - he is correct. However if efficiency is more
defined to consider the entire system, with all of the results -
efficiency can be a valuable tool. Again, if computer
viewed as the final savior to science and all further study is
irrelevant, then he is again correct. But if computer
seen as a theorizing tool which can be used where other tools
seem to work as well, then he is over reacting. One explicit
I objected was his continued use of the term, algorithm.
modeling is much more than algorithmic modeling. In my
heuristic modeling along with stochastic probabilities, shows a lot
more potential than simple algorithmic modeling. (Exit Rant Mode!)
Your philosophical viewpoint can dramatically change your openness to
new ideas and how you respond to the data you are presented with.
The viewpoint typically associated with most Western
is called the objectivist viewpoint. Lakoff believes this
us to see certain categories there they do not naturally exist and to
ignore categories of information that do exist. I found his
description of Western philosophy and its relationship to scientific
thought much better expressed in his book Philosophy in
the Flesh. Of course that is another 600 pages to
The book ends with 12 pages of references, 3 pages of name index, and
10 pages of subject index.
The Republican War on Science
PART ONE WHERE
C1 The Threat
the 2000 campaign Bush promised Catholic Bishops that he would not
support research that would kill live human embryos. Then on
9, 2001 he announced his "sixty genetically diverse" embryonic stem
cell lines. Unfortunately many of these were not
derivations of lines (not genetically diverse) and within 3 years there
were only 22 (of 60) lines left. Many types of research could
be done using them because the lines were selected from what was
available, not for specific purposes. They were selected to
satisfy political (religious) needs, not scientific needs.
The problem with many conservative (fundamentalist) Republicans in
general, and Bush in particular, is not that they oppose a few specific
programs like stem cell research, global warming, EPA regulations, etc.
The problem is that science is seen as a tool to advance
political (religious) programs. There are two main
pushing this: industry, waiting to escape governmental regulations by
any means possible and religious conservatives, seeking to promote
their moralistic agenda even if it includes the use of the prestige of
science. Other lesser factors include the conservative
of "big government" and much science involves federal funding or
governmental agencies, the dislike of the right for liberal higher
education, and dislike of environmentalists who are typically Democrats
and often use science to attack conservative positions.
Conservative politicians of course do not agree that they are
anti-science. They say that they support "sound science" as
opposed to the "junk science" used by environmentalists and regulators.
To be fair he mentions a number of primarily environmental
who have abused scientific standards: genetically modified
animal rights movements, avoidance of studying the genetics of human
behavior out of fear of eugenics style abuses.
In summary, conservatives seem to be against anything that involves
evolution, climate change, or reduces profits. His final
comparison was between modern fundamentalists and followers of Lysenko
Science is a process. It involves testing and
hypotheses. However the process is messy.
immersed in a social and cultural context. The main thing is
the process of science works, it is useful, it just isn't always
perfect. Since it does work so well, numerous people claim
trappings of science to further their own purposes or beliefs.
Science intersects with politics at many points.
problem is not in the funding of science, the problem is the results of
the science. Many politicians listen to the scientists and
attempt to incorporate scientific findings into their policies.
However some, currently mainly conservative, fundamentalist,
Republicans, try to deny or distort the information. This
explores the area where science interacts with politics: providing
input into decision-making. According to Robert Frosch,
administrator of NASA under Carter, "What politicians ofter want to
hear from scientists is, 'Well, the science says that you must do what
you wanted to do anyway.'" This is not new, however under
and the conservative movement it has hit a new high.
What constitutes political science "abuse"? His definition
"any attempt to inappropriately undermine, alter, or otherwise
interfere with the scientific process, or scientific conclusions, for
political or ideological reasons." To turn science into a
for political advocacy. What are some of the specific
Scientific results should inform, but not dictate policy choices but
you shouldn't defend outcomes by distorting the science.
science itself. ex. Creationists deriding
evolution as "just a theory".
Refusing to release scientific information because it
disagrees with political policy.
individual scientists. Under Bush I, James
Hansen's testimony was altered.
- Rigging the
process. Packing advisory committees with
ideologues or changing rules.
- Errors and
misrepresentations. Bush II's statement of "more
than 60 stem cell lines.
uncertainty. Demanding absolute certainty for
- Relying on
the fringes. Get "advise" only from those who
agree with you.
- Ginning up
contrary "science". Attempts to bias the
scientific literature, tobacco is a case in point.
- Dressing up
values in scientific clothing. Political
appointees to the FDA rejected recommendations for the drug Plan B.
C3 From FDR to
Russell Train, staunch Republican, founder of the US branch
the World Wildlife Fund, administrator of the EPA, Chair of the White
House Council on Environmental Quality, and member of a political
endangered species: a moderate, pro-environment Republican.
During WW II scientists helped win the war, scientists were perceived
as valuable under Eisenhower and Kennedy. The break between
science and the conservatives started when Goldwater ran for president
in 1964. Rachel Carson's Silent
was a major catalyst for economic conservatives.
like the Pacific Legal Foundation and the Heritage Foundation
were started in the 1970's to push conservative agenda against
environmentalism. Nixon abolished the White House Science
Adviser. Science came back somewhat under Ford and Carter.
Science" and Reagan's "Dream"
With the advent of the Reagan presidency the access to the
House for science virtually stopped. There were still
in government, C Everett Koop for example, who refused to toe the line,
but support for unbiased science ceased coming from the White House.
The only scientists who were welcome were those like Edward
Teller who supported Reagan's initiatives. Reagan appointed
new religious conservatives to his administration such as Gary Bauer
who pushed their agendas and creationism was warmly received.
Against the Dumb
Newt Gringrich is a confusing person. He is a PhD -
so he qualifies as an intellectual and is pro-science - but he wants to
select the scientific information that he receives. As
the House, Gingrich led the fight to eliminate the Office of
Technology. When the time came to ask questions of
called in his own carefully selected scientists to testify.
Funny, they sort of said what he wanted them to say.
final half of the chapter discusses the benefits of the Office of
Technology and what happened to testimony on Global Warming after the
Office had been abolished. Here we are now, more than 10
later, nothing has been done, and we are getting warmer.
C6 Junking "Sound Science" The newest term on the
is "sound science." The related word to this is "junk
In the conservative lexicon, sound science is requiring that
regulatory activity be based on clear data demonstrating that there is
absolutely no doubt that a particular practice or chemical specifically
harms all human life in a disastrous manner. Junk science is
scientific evidence that suggests that harm will result without
absolutely conclusive evidence. This is the moral equivalent
observing that all 150 people were killed by a .32 caliber bullet fired
directly into their brain, however there is no evidence that a .38
caliber bullet would do the same, we need to study the issue in more
depth before we will consider placing regulations on this behavior.
This type of argument has been used in the debate over smoking, high
sugar foods, mercury contamination of fish, the Endangered Species Act,
and climate change. The Data Quality Act is an outgrowth of
effort. In the words of George Lakoff this is an example of
framing. Almost all would agree that good science requires
precision, but to require that only those programs that you don't like
must adhere to standards way beyond the standards that you apply for
programs that you do like is morally bankrupt. An example of
is the level of reliability accepted in the Star Wars proposals.
PART TWO THE
BUSINESS OF SCIENCE
C7 "The Greatest Hoax" A recent star of
Republican War on Science has been Senator James Inhofe from Oklahoma.
He has been an extremely apt follower of Frank Luntz,
theorist. Most of this chapter is devoted to the leadership
of Inhofe in attacking the concept of global warming.
C8 Wine, Jazz, and "Data Quality" This
devoted almost entirely to Jim J. Tozzi. Tozzi is an
PhD and failed jazz musician who move to Washington in 1964 working for
the secretary of the army. He started overseeing Corps of
Engineers projects but then moved to reviewing regulations.
then moved to the OMB under Nixon. There he stayed for some
The Paperwork Reduction Act established a new branch of the
the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) and Reagan
appointed Tozzi as deputy administrator. Reagan centralized
review of government regulations at OMB. This gave Tozzi the
ability to bury proposed regulations. Tozzi then moved into
His main contribution has been the "paralysis by analysis" under the
guise of regulatory reform. Two of his efforts have been
extremely productive from the conservative point of view. The
first was the "Shelby amendment" which allows the Freedom of
Information Act to be used to request "all data produced" by any
publicly funded study. This allowed industry to reanalyze
and put their own spin on it and hinder agencies. The second
the Data Quality Act. This created even more problems for
agencies. The remainder of the chapter documents how these
processes hinder the normal actions of public agencies.
C9 Eating Away
This chapter is devoted to attempted control over the
process for two substances, sugar and mercury. A WHO report
linked excess sugar and obesity. The sugar industry attacked
on many fronts. One of which was the attempted suppression of
government scientists from participating in international bodies.
Tozzi was a participant in this effort.
Mercury is released from power plants, especially coal fueled plants.
Methyl mercury is a serious neuro-toxin. The power
industry does not like regulation. Here Inhofe played a role.
There are many examples where industry employed scientists
presented testimony contrary to the actual science.
C10 Fishy Science This chapter is
discussion of the issues facing the Klamath river in southwestern
Oregon and Northern California. The main question is how much
the water in the river should be dammed up for irrigation and how much
should be released to support fish and other species downriver.
The "sound science" - "junk science" issue played a large
well as the Endangered Species Data Quality Act of 2004.
C11 "Creation Science" 2.0 This chapter
creationism and its modern aspects of the Discovery Institute in
Seattle and the "intelligent design" movement. ID as it is
is the main push of the Discovery Institute and they are obvious
outgrowths of the creationist movement. ID is dressed up in
language to avoid some of the legal battles that creationism lost but
it is the same thing.
Embryonic stem cell research. First, Bush's stem
announcement was totally incorrect and not based on any real scientific
facts. These cells were taken from samples left over from
fertility clinics. They were from a very small population of
relatively wealthy white donors who had trouble conceiving.
what you want if your goal is Alzheimer's research, or diabetic
research, or for almost any purpose. Why were they left over?
Were they defective, too old, or some other problem?
were also grown on mouse feeder cells - this may result in virus
contamination or immune system rejection. Some creationist
leaning scientists are proposing adult stem cells. They are
the same for several technical reasons. Even if they were
similar, where is the published research results. The only
studies were poorly monitored and have not been replicated.
only adult stem cells that have been shown to work are those in bone
marrow which form blood cells. They work well for that one
purpose but for nothing else. And they also have to be very
Embryonic stem cells can be used in four currently identified ways.
1) they could be used to grow tissue for transplantation 2)
could be used for drug tests where animal analogs are not appropriate
3) we don't know how many diseases develop, research using stem cells
could help with this research and the subsequent development of
treatments, and 4) individuals vary widely in their response to drugs
and other therapies, stem cells could be used to aid in developing
treatments tailored to a specific individual.
In 2001 Bush set up a President's Council on Bioethics. The
was a neoconservative (Leon Kass) but two of the members were
pro-research. These members were fairly quickly removed and
replaced by more conservative members.
are there any problems? One of the conservative
efforts has been to attack the safety of abortions. There
been numerous attempts to "prove" that abortion is dangerous to the
physical and mental health of women who have an abortion. One
example is Joel Brind - a faculty member of the City University of New
York. He has a quest to prove an abortion-breast cancer link.
He cofounded a think tank (Breast Cancer Prevention
which publicizes his ideas. However he has not published any
reviewed papers on the topic. Mooney goes on to site several
studies which show that there is no relationship. Another
contributor to this effort is David Reardon. He attempts to
abortion to all sorts of ailments. He claims a PhD in
from Pacific Western University. This "university" is a well
known diploma mill and does not appear in any list of accredited
institutions. He has published a number of papers, most of
have been criticized for poor procedures.
Dr. Joe S. McIlhaney is leader in the "abstinence only" movement
against birth control, condoms, and STD prevention. Again,
his research seems based on the idea of determining an outcome and then
attempting data to support that outcome - ignoring data that does not
support the outcome. The chapter mentions several others of
similar beliefs who have been appointed to oversight boards by Bush.
PART FOUR THE
C14 Bush League Science "... scientific
should always be weighed from an objective and impartial perspective to
avoid perilous consequences ... the administration of George W. Bush
has, however, disregarded this principle." From a statement
the Union of Concerned Scientists, Feb. 18, 2004. This was
by over 60 leading scientists and former government officials which
included 20 Nobel laureates. It was later signed by 48 Nobel
laureates, 62 National Medal of Science recipients, 135
of the National Academy of Sciences, and thousands of others.
Mooney briefly discusses some of the events that lead up to
statement and then devotes much of the chapter to the Presidents
Science Adviser, John Marburger. Marburger, a distinguished
scientist in his own right, was unfortunately forced to defend the
President's actions. Many of his statements are discussed.
Some of the problems caused by the Bush attitude and actions toward
We Can Do We must:
- Spreading large amounts of misinformation to the American
These include breast cancer risks, global warming, stem cell
research, and others.
- The relationship between science and policy and the
politicization of federal science reports.
- This process will reduce the number of reputable scientists
who will accept federal positions.
- This erodes public respect and confidence in science.
- Draws a distinction between science based reality and
The book ends with 8 pages of the description of the context of all
interviews and those who refused interviews, 1 page of similarly themed
articles by the author, 2 pages of notes on sources, and 14 pages of
- Continue to warn against the dangers of politicization of
- Push for safeguards that strengthen the role of legitimate
expertise in informing policy makers.
- Revive the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment or
an equivalent office.
- Raise the Science Advisor to the rank of Assistant to the
President if not higher.
- Restore the White House Office of Science and Technology
Policy to its previous strength if not higher.
- Pass legislation to safeguard scientific advisory
- Repeal measures like the Data Quality Act.
- Eliminate the "peer review" superstructure instituted by
the Data Quality Act.
- If any review of scientific advisory committees is deemed
necessary they should be formulated with the assistance of the National
Academy of Sciences or another competent body.
- Eliminate laws like the "Endangered Species Data Quality
Act" that tend to politicize science.
- Increase the education of reporters who write on science
so that they better understand the process of science and how built-in
procedures protect the integrity of science studies.
- Help reporters understand that "political balance" is not
appropriate for science. Scientific "balance" is achieved by
repeated independent studies and similar studies.
- Change our legal system so that violations by industry have
more severe penalties directed at individuals as well as corporations.
- Demand and support schools in their efforts to teach valid
science. Religion has no place in schools other than survey
courses that discuss multiple religions.
- Support responsible Republicans who reject fundamentalist
and religious demands.
Subtitled: Politics, Evolution and Cooperation
This is one of those books that I got for really no good reason,
perhaps because it was short and I wanted something with printing.
It's not really politics, it's not really science, and it's
really religion. Singer is a philosopher and in this book he
doesn't have very much to say. He talks about views from the
- read that as mostly Karl Marx but with references to others,
Darwinism - mainly old stuff with a few modern references, and modern
politics - splitting it into strictly "right" vs. "left". It
almost like reading something written in the 1890's or perhaps the
1930's. Most of his references (not all) were pretty old -
1980. There have been a lot of concepts put forward in
science and evolution since then -
he does discuss reciprocal altruism but that is about all.
I just wasn't impressed.
Subtitled: The American Military on
While reading this book, and listening to immigration debate I realized
that what we need is a new Einstein, someone with a whole new look at
many of our current problems. A possible step in this is to
one of Einstein's ideas. One of his major breakthroughs was
idea that light could be evaluated as either a wave phenomena or a
particle phenomena. For immigration and drug traffic at the
level these could be evaluated as a fluid pressure phenomena.
immigration you have tens of millions of very poor Mexicans and Central
and South Americans with no jobs, children in rags and very little
food. What parent would not try to go to where there are jobs
money to pay for food and clothes for their children? These
millions exert a tremendous amount of pressure on the permeable border
between Mexico and the US. The only real solution to this
is not to pick them off one at a time as particles, it is to reduce the
pressure on the sieve-like border. They need good jobs in
and points south.
In drug traffic we have the same permeable border but in this case we
have a vacuum on the US side created by the ready market and huge
demand. The way to solve this problem is to reduce the
perhaps by greater education (not successful so far), perhaps by more
treatment (likewise not successful so far), or perhaps by satisfying
the demand in other ways - perhaps legalization with legal suppliers.
Of course you still have some incredibly evil people who
on the dark cracks around our laws. These can still be
particles to be eliminated by our legal system.
In international relations and war we have similar problems.
Certain "problems" can be solved by mass actions initiated by
central authorities. Some of these Krystal Knacht,
Fire Bombing of Dresden, Atom Bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
For others, for example, the neutralization or elimination of
particular terrorist or cell of terrorists deeply embedded within a
neutral or perhaps even somewhat negative population the only practical
method is the careful targeting by a well trained group of people with
a great deal of specific knowledge of the local culture. More
a legal system approach with very flexible "rules of evidence."
In more "systems speak", an intervention at one level of aggregation is
not necessarily appropriate at a different level of aggregation.
Far to many of our politicians do not understand that there
be a difference.
Now, the book. Some time ago Kaplan saw a map in the
It outlined the five areas of responsibility for regional
commanders. Five separate commands encompassing
earth. It was remarkably similar to a map drawn up in 1931 by
Professor Karl Haushover for the German military. Truly a map
a global empire. Kaplan defines imperialism as a form of
isolationism which demands absolute undefiled, security at home which
leads one to conquer the world. "By the time an imperial
becomes truly manifest it is a sign that the apex of empire is at hand,
with a gradual retreat more likely than fresh conquests." He
finds a striking similarity of the Indian Wars of the middle and latter
half of the nineteenth century and the military aspects of the early
After seeing the map Kaplan decided he wanted to travel to these areas
and interview men and officers in the field to see what their life is
like. His main interest was on Special Forces units and the
Marines to a lesser extent. He visited Yemen in the winter of
2002 (CENTCOM). Columbia in the winter of 2003 (SOUTHCOM), Mongolia,
Spring 2003 (PACOM), the Philippines in the summer of 2003 (PACOM),
Afghanistan in the Autumn of 2003 (CENTCOM and SOCOM), Fort Bragg and
Camp Lejeune in the winter of 2003-2004 in the US (NORCOM), and the
Horn of Africa in the winter of 2004 and Iraq in the spring of 2004
(both in CENTCOM). He evidently didn't get to EUCOM during
During his time with the troops he traveled with them, ate with them,
slept in their barracks or tents, and talked with them.
he was not trusted at first but he came with good recommendations and
he had been in the military so he was almost always accepted after a
while. He found that almost without exception they were hard
working, dedicated, moral, and carried out their missions rapidly and
carefully with a great deal of respect for the locals. One
debate the merits of their mission but they carried it out with a great
deal of professionalism.
The main message that I got was a large number of men (the Special
Forces does not recruit women) who are capable of almost any type of
anti-terrorist or human assistance mission as long as they are given
the right personnel, equipment, and support to perform the task.
Often they do not have the right personnel (translators,
training, or indigenous knowledge support) or support to perform their
tasks. In many cases they will discover situations which
exploited for gain or personnel safety and they are required to wait to
get multiple levels of approval which often takes many days.
the people in the field cannot be trusted to carry out the mission
(with review) they should either be brought home or replaced by someone
who can. Extended levels of approval is merely a CYA
The book ends with a 6 page glossary, 10 pages of notes and an index of
Subtitled: Shattering the Dreams of
the Post-Cold War
After reading the previous book I thought, Oh-oh, more of the same (I
just grabbed some books in the library). It wasn't at all.
This book was written over most of the 1990's and mostly
published in The
Atlantic Monthly. Small sections were originally
published in The
National Interest and The
Wall Street Journal. One section is original
with the book. The book was finished in late 1999 and
published in 2000.
C1 The Coming
scarcity, crime, overpopulation, tribalism, and disease are destroying
the social fabric of the planet.
Is West Africa a preview of coming attractions for much of
world? Seemingly random violence is everywhere, national
boundaries are set up one way and tribal loyalties are arranged at
right angles to these. Is Darkest Africa coming back?
with our modern vaccinations it is arguably more dangerous than it was
before antibiotics - when Sir Richard Francis Burton traveled there.
And these are only the direct human caused problems, wait
environmental degradation and climate change really begin to hit.
Can a civilized human culture exist with all of the versions of
religion, culture, demographic shifts and distribution of natural
resources that we are currently faced with? Some slums such
Abidjan terrify the outsider, Kaplan found the near slum called
Altindag or "Golden Mountain" outside of Ankara, Turkey quite friendly
Rural poverty is age-old and almost a normal part of cultures, urban
poverty is socially destabilizing. Power is gradually
from oil rich countries to water rich countries. Turkey is an
example of this.
A coming serious problem is maps. Most of them were drawn in
halls of London, Paris, etc. They were ways of dividing up
great mass of the rest of the world and were drawn with no knowledge of
the people who lived there. Now the people think that they
and arbitrary lines on a piece of paper just may be ignored.
Many people like to fight, especially young men. Worrying
mines and ambushes frees you from worrying about mundane details of
daily existence. "Only when people attain a certain economic,
education, and cultural standard is this trait tranquilized."
Considering that 95% of the worlds population growth is in
poorest areas of the planet, there will be more fighting, the question
is just who and when. What will happen when populations
soil fertility lowers, rivers dry up, and oceans rise?
C2 Was Democracy
Just a Moment? As
we attempt to plant our version of Democracy abroad, in places where it
can't succeed, it is slipping away from us at home, too. Why
democracy will destabilize the world much as early Christianity did.
Aside, in 1943 Abraham Maslow published a theory of human
motivation. In brief it said that there are five levels of
and only after one is satisfied can the next be considered.
are physiological (food, water, air, etc.), safety (security of body,
resources, health, family), love / belonging (friendship, family,
sexual intimacy), esteem (self esteem, confidence), and
self-actualization (morality, creativity, problem solving, acceptance
The main force of this chapter is that democracy cannot thrive unless
people have food and safety. Kaplan does not mention Maslow
this is the type of problem he is describing. I do not know
democracy fits into Maslow's needs but it is surely above
physiological, safety, and love/belonging. It is probably
esteem and probably within self-actualization, but we can certainly
find many government officials who fail to exhibit morality,
creativity, spontaneity, problem solving, lack of prejudice, and
acceptance of facts. Are we setting a minimum level here or
democracy slipping away from us?
Kaplan goes on to say that our founding fathers were somewhat
pessimistic, that is why we have checks and balances and separations of
power. In many areas of the world forms of government other
democracy seem to result in higher levels of needs satisfaction.
Western democracy was a product of hundreds of years of years
relatively benign governmental systems in which power slowly flowed
from church and king to citizens. Without those hundreds of
democracy quickly turns into anarchy or totalitarianism, sometimes
benign but often not. Without this history, a free press,
literacy, and with negative factors such as ethnic or regional disputes
a democracy will probably fail. "Africans want a better life
instead have been given the right to vote." Many of the third
world leaders the press is so fond of reviling may be just what a
country needs if they can manage to raise the level of unmet needs of
most of their populace higher on the Maslow chart. This
our first goal in "nation building".
Won't Stop Mass Murder Balance-of-power
politics and better-funded spy agencies, not war-crimes tribunals, will
reduce the risk of future holocausts. An inquiry into why
beings are best protected when they are assumed to be unimprovable.
Progress will solve all of our problems! Well,
War-crimes trials, 10 to 15 years after the fact will not
genocide or ethnic cleansing. When the Israelis say "Never
they mean for Jews, other people will have to look out for themselves.
If we are really against mass murder we will have to be ready
take direct action very early and very quickly. We can't wait
until they are mostly done. And Americans have shown a
to "stay the course". We need a good reason to accept
In WW II it was not the Jews, it was Pearl Harbor.
wasn't Saddam gassing the Kurds, it was the threat to Saudi oil fields.
the roles of the CIA and the armed forces will eventually merge.
Rather than become obsolete, the power of the intelligence
community in Washington will increase.
This was written when the CIA is under specific attack.
They are again. We need more Special Forces and CIA
operations because the age of large armies doing WW II things is over.
We need a high level of professionalism in the CIA and break
feedback from it to electoral politics, now the problem is with the
presidency - will it be tomorrow? Our ability to avoid future
wars will rest on our ability to know what others are doing
C5 And Now for
the News: The
Disturbing Freshness of Gibbon's Decline and
Fall (of the Roman Empire) Why Gibbon's book reflects the
world as it is today in Africa, the Middle East, and the former Soviet
I personally have never read this work, perhaps I should.
Kaplan believes that it has a great deal to say about the
activities and realities of 21st century America. Too many
too few hours.
A Realistic Approach to Foreign Policy What should the United States do
in the Third World, where there is too much to do and too much that
can't be done?
In many places throughout the world, Africa is the best
example, there is too much to do and we don't have the power and the
will to do it all. The best we can do is to take small steps
have the possibility of allowing them to take more steps on their own.
His recommendation is to use the principle of proportionalism
advanced by some Catholic theologians. In this you accept a
certain amount of "evil" to make possible a proportionately greater
amount of good. Example, accept contraceptives to reduce
abortion. This is anathema to moral and ideological purists.
In foreign policy it would mean continuing aid at relatively
current levels, early warning systems, and extremely rare
interventions. Give aid where it will do the most good (at
lower levels of Maslow's needs), be very aware of potential problems,
and intervening using the Powell Doctrine, do it quickly and where it
can be easily accomplished. Extended overseas wars, like
very quickly generate resistance. It must meet what the
calls the "parents' test", a Pentagon official can stare a soldier's
parents in the eye and tell them that their son or daughter died in the
service of something worth dying for. Sometimes bad things
happen, do what you can and get the most bang for your buck when you do.
C7 Kissinger, Metternich, and Realism A World
a book about the Napoleonic Wars Henry Kissinger wrote when he was
a young man, shows the merciless ironies of history that we
at our peril, even if Kissinger carried these lessons too far in Vietnam.
Kaplan thinks that Kissinger's reputation is due to the poor
performances of his successors more than his good performance.
Kissinger's views were shaped by the Napoleonic Wars, his
up as a teenager in Nazi Germany, and his studies. He hated
revolutions. From his writings Kaplan picks up several
He conjectures that Nixon and Kissinger deliberately extended the war
in Vietnam not to win it, but to impress Russia and China with
America's willingness to fight if we felt we needed to.
- Disorder is worse than injustice.
- The "most fundamental problem of politics . . . is not the
control of wickedness but the limitation of righteousness."
People convinced of their own moral superiority are the most
dangerous because they can safely ignore the opinions of all others.
- The real task of statesmen is to forestall revolutions.
real heroes of history are enlightened conservatives who fight
Nostromo and the Third World A redefinition of realism with
the help of Joseph Conrad's great work of fiction.
A second book report. The first was about
works, this second is Joseph Conrad's Nostromo, a 1904 novel about life
in a small South American country, Costaguana. A small group
foreign merchants, alternately exploiting and being exploiting the
locals, an indolent upper class, and ignorant lower class, corrupt
government, rival bandit groups, and the leader of the dock workers.
He finds the novel to be a wonderful description of the
in many third-world countries. Something that is not
in many social science texts and is never dreamed about by many
students in political science and journalism who come from well-off
backgrounds and hold idealistic views. Many would do well to
and try to understand this book.
C9 The Dangers of Peace A
long period of peace in an advanced technological society like ours
could lead to great evils. The ideal of a world permanently
peace and governed benignly by a world organization is not an
optimistic view of the future but a dark one. In
several ways his most depressing chapter. He starts off with
a quotation from Gaetano Mosca, The
(1939), "Universal peace is something to be feared, because it would
come about only if all the civilized world were to belong to a single
social type, to a single religion, and if there were to be an end to
disagreements as to the ways social betterment can be attained."
Prior to WW I, war was respectable. Mass revulsion
modern political science. Those statesmen who argued against
were successful, amongst themselves. The Nazis and the
military disagreed and everyone was at a disadvantage to them.
This didn't happen after WW II because of the Cold War.
Mosca also notes that every society contains a number of males driven
to impulsive physical action. A standing army is a method of
canalizing and bureaucratically controlling this violent behavior and
steer it toward a useful end. If our standing army is to
farther and transform into a more elite, corporate-style force what
will we do with our frustrated, action-prone young males.
will be their outlet?
Could we have a peace under the United Nations, or just a new sort of
tyranny? The UN values consensus. Consensus often
long time, allowing evil to proliferate. Attacking evil
grows often takes a strong leader who can act quickly. Is Ray
Kurzweil's Singularity Man the answer to this problem? We
be very sure before we set up any system to govern ourselves.
Another problem with a so called world at peace is that we would raise
up generations of leaders who would have no memory of any other type of
system and hence no wisdom to perceive pitfalls in their plans.
This was the case following the Napoleonic Wars. No
could see the tragic events preceding WW I coming because they had no
experience. Perhaps our coming struggle against climate
and environmental degradation will keep us honest. Whatever
we must take into account human nature when making our plans,
idealistic assumptions alone are not enough.
The book ends with a 12 page index.
of the Vulcans
Subtitled: The History of Bush's War Cabinet
Bush was criticized during his first presidential campaign for his lack
of foreign policy knowledge. He countered this by pointing to
advisers and repeating how much they knew. They were Dick
Colin Powell, Condolezza Rice, Paul Wolfowitz, and Richard
Armitage. The began calling themselves the Vulcans after the
statue outside Birmingham, Alabama. Rice, the foreign policy
coordinator had been raised there as a child. After Bush won
were appointed to high positions in the government. They did
all agree with each other but they all agreed on a strong military,
leaving business to private concerns, American power and ideals are a
force for good in the world, and were optimistic about America's
capabilities and its future. Bush was not knowledgeable on
foreign affairs and they prepared all of his briefings. He
usually only arbitrate conflicts between them, seldom proposing new
The first 230 pages of the book cover the life of the coming Vulcans
individually and sometimes together. Rice, as the youngest
is not mentioned until about page 150. We follow them in and
of government, sometimes working together, sometimes not but never all
at the same time. Several others show up periodically,
Libby and Richard Pearle but they are never members of the main group.
The Vulcans as a team started to coalesce in 1998, two years before the
2000 election. During this time period Powell was not a part
the team. His support was valued but only as an outsider.
were a number of problems in parceling out the positions the Vulcans
would have in the new administration. The Republican
conservatives led by Cheney had a great deal of power over the
appointment process. In this Powell lost power and his friend
Armitage also lost power. During the early part of the Bush
administration things sort of muddled along.
Then 9/11 happened. We can never know what would have
not for 9/11 but the events of that day certainly changed the
government. The conservatives took the opportunity and ran.
Cheney moved back further out of the spotlight but arguably
became more influential. Powell lost power. Rice's
The book dealt with the minutia of politics, who met with whom, why she
said that and what he thought of it. The nuts and bolts of
gaining and maintaining power. I found it very slow going
of my lack of interest in this type of stuff. The book ends
the start of the Iraq war. I was very happy for the final
chapter because it pulled together some themes that I had trouble with
because of all of the "trees" in the way. The book is
absent in any comments about Bush. It is almost as though he
doesn't exist in any meaningful way. Is this true?
the brain power exist in his cabinet? Was his only real
due to the fact that he was a superb fund raiser?
The book includes some of the foreign policy ideas and themes that
permeate the Vulcans as they rose to power over some 30 years.
They often used 9/11 as the defining moment for the war in Iraq, in
reality they already had the reason to go to war, they just needed the
excuse. In a way Powell is the tragic figure in this era.
He tried to be a good soldier, he had an ideology but he was
dominated by reality. Armitage was similar, he just never
such a high rank. The rest seemed to be dominated by their
ideology, they never had to face reality other than the infighting of
the boardroom. The book has 33 pages of notes and 16 pages of
- They believed in the centrality and the efficacy of
American military power.
- They believed in America as a force for good in the world.
Iraq is simply a first step in spreading democracy and
throughout the Middle East.
- They had an extraordinary optimistic assessment of American
capabilities. We have the duty, the capability, and the power
transform the region.
- They were reluctant to enter into agreements or
accommodations with other countries. They did not want
anything to interfere with our freedom of action.
- War in Iraq served as a demonstration of the Vulcans'
to the strategy that Paul Wolfowitz's Pentagon staff had drafted in
1992 and 1993.
three books are in reality a single work in three volumes.
part, State of Denial, is subtitled "Bush at War, Part III".
two are each approximately 90 pages longer than the previous work for a
total of 1,404 pages.
The first book begins on 9/11/2001 and extends for 100 days.
It covers the thinking of the White House during and after
9/11 and the preparation for and the invasion of Afghanistan and some
very early thinking on Iraq.
The second book starts before the inauguration of Bush but primarily
covers the planning for the invasion of Iraq up to the start of the
invasion with a small amount of wrap up after the beginning of the
The third book starts out in the fall of 1997 as Bush is deciding to
run for the Presidency. It ends in July of 2006. It
mainly discusses the interactions in and around the White House with an
emphasis on the Iraq war.
There are not a lot of conclusions expressed in the books.
The format is mainly chronological and the author doesn't
draw many moral or strategic conclusions. One can tell by the
tone of the works that the author was becoming less and less happy with
the events as the books progressed. However he was always
very careful to keep his own opinions to himself and act as a strictly
factual reporter. I respect his viewpoint but I would have
liked to see more of his opinions of what went wrong and why.
I will be eagerly awaiting his book in which he brings out as
much detail as he thinks appropriate concerning the final 2 1/2 years
of the Bush Administration and discusses the lessons that can be
learned from this dismal period in American history.