Good, bad, we’re the ones with the big guns


Watch this little sketch first, and think about it.

I am relieved to say that skulls are not an official motif in US military uniforms, although some units do use them. However, we instead have Nazi-like minds at work in our military. Here’s an excerpt from a presentation at the Defense Department’s Joint Forces Staff College, composed by Lt. Col. Matthew A. Dooley as a proposed model for how to deal with Islam.

It’s a little worse than decorative skulls.

When I hear the phrase “politically correct”, I’m afraid my knee tends to jerk, usually in the direction of some jerk’s groin. It is the tired excuse of the fanatic trying to rationalize the unforgivable. “Oh, excuse me, I’m going to talk about incinerating civilians in a nuclear holocaust, take your ‘politically correct’ objections out of the room.”

And that’s exactly what he’s discussing. Let’s forget civilized accords limiting the conduct of war, and frankly discuss nuking Mecca and Medina. It’s OK, we’re going to remove protections for those caught fighting out of uniform, and pretend that every inhabitant of those two cities is a spy, a terrorist, or a criminal.

You can download the whole presentation; it’s an awful mess of jargon and pointlessly busy military diagrams that say pretty much nothing at all, and it’s main point is to redefine every Muslim in the world as a military combatant who deserves everything we do to them.

It closes with this message:

It is therefore time for the United States to make our true intentions clear. This barbaric ideology will no longer be tolerated, Islam must change or we will facilitate its self-destruction. Let it be known that the United States remains, and will forever be, a beacon of freedom, self-determination, hope, and representative democracy. The American people will not be converted. We will not submit. We will not be intimidated, and we will not be driven from this earth.”

That is remarkably tin-eared and hypocritical. It accuses the other side of being a barbaric ideology while planning to nuke the civilian population centers of the Muslim world…oh, wait, “facilitating their self-destruction.” So we’re going to drop a bomb on them and then innocently declare that it was their own fault?

It rather deflates the grand ideals of “freedom, self-determination, hope, and representative democracy” when you use them as buzzwords to justify the murder of millions.

But perhaps that scale of terror is too immense for your brain to absorb. How about this little morsel, instead?

The American military claimed responsibility and expressed regret for an airstrike that mistakenly killed six members of a family in southwestern Afghanistan, Afghan and American military officials confirmed Monday.

The victims were the family’s mother and five of her children, three girls and two boys, according to Afghan officials.

This family was just quietly living in this house in Afghanistan, when the full weight of American freedom, self-determination, hope, and representative democracy dropped into their living room in the form of a military airstrike.

I think we’re the baddies.

But at least we apologized nicely. I’m sure that made it all better.

Comments

  1. says

    The American people will not be converted. We will not submit. We will not be intimidated, and we will not be driven from this earth.”

    Wow. Nothing like painting all of us as a single jingoistic-minded moron.

    The Inquisition with better weapons. Not good.

  2. jdrs0819 says

    Sounds like something Sam Harris would endorse. After all, he did say we should seriously discuss the indiscriminate nuclear bombing of the region as a method of preventive war.

  3. Johnny Vector says

    “This lady will now address us about the secret bombings.”

    “Secret bombings? What secret bombings? Those bombings were not secret. In fact, my late husband remarked on them. ‘Here come the bombs,’ he said.”

    Yes, an old Doonesbury is still relevant 35 years later. Does that seem right to you?

  4. Beatrice, anormalement indécente says

    It is therefore time for the United States to make our true intentions clear. This barbaric ideology will no longer be tolerated, Islam must change or we will facilitate its self-destruction. Let it be known that the United States remains, and will forever be, a beacon of freedom, self-determination, hope, and representative democracy. The American people will not be converted. We will not submit. We will not be intimidated, and we will not be driven from this earth.”

    This is why USA scares me. And why nationalism and any country’s belief in their exceptionalism scares me.

  5. ordeneus says

    Was there ever any doubt that the US are the bad guys? Surely you have been since the end of WWII???

  6. says

    This barbaric ideology will no longer be tolerated

    How about that other major barbaric ideology, the one he most likely gives praise to every Sunday?

  7. Brownian says

    [Prepares for another round of “But this time our enemies are so terrible that we have no choice but to completely abandon any principles we ever pretended to uphold in order to defend against them”]

  8. 'Tis Himself says

    This model assumes Geneva Convention IV 1949 standards of armed conflict and the pursuant UN endorsements of it are now…no longer relevant or respected globally.

    The problem with this statement is Geneva Convention IV Part 1 Article 2 reads in part:

    Although one of the Powers in conflict may not be a party to the present Convention, the Powers who are parties thereto shall remain bound by it in their mutual relations.

    What that means is that in a conflict, even if one of the powers isn’t bound by the convention, the other powers involved who are signatories* are bound by it. LTC Dooley is advocating violation of an international treaty.

    *Both the US and Saudi Arabia are signatories to the Geneva Conventions.

  9. says

    After a gruelling week of pretty much day-and-night work, I happily started preparing for my yearly visit to the closed-off parts of Toronto Zoo to see the birds, and then the rest of the Zoo after that.

    Now, all I want to do, is vomit.

  10. says

    That is remarkably tin-eared and hypocritical. It accuses the other side of being a barbaric ideology while planning to nuke the civilian population centers of the Muslim world…oh, wait, “facilitating their self-destruction.” So we’re going to drop a bomb on them and then innocently declare that it was their own fault?

    “You just shot an unarmed man!”
    “Well, he should’ve armed himself.”
    It’s like President Batman Bush said: we must rid the world of evildoers. Preferably before they grow up and do evil.

  11. nooneinparticular says

    jdros819

    Where Harris “seriously discuss(es) the indiscriminate nuclear bombing of the region as a method of preventive war”;

    http://www.samharris.org/site/full_text/response-to-controversy2

    It is a bit more nuanced* discussion than you implied. Posted just so any discussion about what Harris actually said doesn’t get too muddled with poo-throwing.

    *I’ll save you all the time; *looks into mirror* “FUCK YOU YOU FUCKING ASSHOLE, A NEWCULEAR BOMB CAN’T BE NUANCED!!11!!”

  12. nooneinparticular says

    BTW, I’m not defending Harris. Srsly, I’m not*. It’s just that what he actually said and how he defends what he actually said is informative.

    *ever helpful me; *looks in mirror again* FUCK YOU YOU FUCKING FUCKSTICK FUCKER YOU ARE DEFENDING HIM YOU ASSCLOWN!!!!1!

  13. sailor1031 says

    “Islam must change or we will facilitate its self-destruction.”

    Sometimes it’s difficult to distinguish between one barbaric ideology and another barbaric ideology. Do these morons have any idea how much damage is done to the USA worldwide when this kind of news gets out – and it always does!

  14. jehk says

    I’ve joked about leaving America to live somewhere because of our current culture but this.. this makes it true.

  15. jaybee says

    Gen. George Flynn said:

    The general said he was “quite thankful” for an unnamed military officer who brought word of the anti-Islam material to his attention.

    Dooley taught this material to hundreds of people over the course of a year. I don’t know which is more scary, that the superiors are unaware of what is being taught, or that it took a year before *one* of the students thought to question the sanity of this course.

    A much easier explanation is that neither is true, that the course material was known to the upper levels, and they are throwing Dooley under the bus now that word leaked out.

  16. Amphiox says

    Here’s hoping that this will end up one of those military hypothetical “models” that get shelved in some archive and never used, like that apocryphal plan for alien invasion….

    And in other news, anyone here still got a supply of their state-issued happy gas? You know, the one that keeps that optimistic rictus “everything’s good, American exceptionalism, rah rah rah” grin on your face?

    Cause I just blew through entire supply.

  17. xibochay says

    Did anyone read the part in a follow up article that said the program had been cancelled for precisely the reasons you all point out?

    Contrary to what some of you might think, there are some pretty sharp people working in the US military. They see the world with a pretty sophisticated and nuanced view.

    It is the job of military planners to think of potential situations, assign a probability to those situations and develop a plan for those situations. Even far fetched scenarios that offend the sensibilities of civilized people have to be considered. If their probability is low, like this one, then not much happens beyond that.

    Try not to have such knee jerk reactions that instantly condemn the men and women in uniform. Many of us are atheists and humanists too.

  18. RW Ahrens says

    Although one of the Powers in conflict may not be a party to the present Convention, the Powers who are parties thereto shall remain bound by it in their mutual relations.

    Emphasis mine.

    What that means is that if a country who is a signatory is fighting a war that includes more than two countries, and two of them are signatories, those two must follow the Convention’s rules. It doesn’t say that they have to follow them in their relations with the non-signatory nation.

    That isn’t to say that there may not be another clause somewhere that specifically includes relations with a non-signatory, but the clause you cited doesn’t seem to say what you think it does.

  19. jdrs0819 says

    @12:

    Yeah, it’s more nuanced just because he writes more words and talks about how horrible it is. The TL;DR is, “It’s an unthinkable crime that I think is just terrible, but they’re Muslims who can’t be trusted with nukes and they’re crazy and barbaric and zealous about their religion. We Americans with our nukes are noble, and wouldn’t think of using them.”

  20. Beatrice, anormalement indécente says

    Did anyone read the part in a follow up article that said the program had been cancelled for precisely the reasons you all point out?

    Did you read the part where it says that it had been taught for a while before being canceled? I guess those sharp people were a bit slow this time.

  21. says

    Keep talking to yourself like that, nooneinparticular, and you will be banned.

    Yes, you are being a fucking asshole. Don’t act so surprised when someone labels you as such. You’ve earned it.

  22. Amphiox says

    xibochay, I’ll just mention to you here what most of us already know. One of those “men in uniform” PZ’s OWN SON. And he is by no means some black sheep of the family. PZ is proud of him and had an entire thread going about his joining the US military.

    So your little snark about “knee-jerk” reactions is rather off-base. If there is a jerk in this matter, it has got nothing to do with PZ’s knees.

  23. Beatrice, anormalement indécente says

    This article (link) says that course has been taught since 2004. There is no mention for how long that particular material has been used, but I would conclude from the article that it’s at least from summer 2011 if not before.

  24. says

    Did anyone read the part in a follow up article that said the program had been cancelled for precisely the reasons you all point out?

    So? It was being used for a year before anyone called it out. That’s the problem.

    I have no faith in the soldiers that were too cowardly or brainwashed to not question this shit. Blindly respecting “our men and women in uniform” is as stupid as blindly respecting anyone else.

  25. Amphiox says

    And it goes without saying that all it takes is a single stroke of the right pen to unshelve a shelved plan.

  26. cybercmdr says

    PZ,
    You are right. Many people in the military are not atheists and humanists. This is true of almost any subgroup you may want to point to in America, if the grouping is based on profession.

    Having spent my adult life working in the military, I know that in general people in the DoD tend to be on the conservative side. And some are real assholes. But I also know a lot of dedicated, conscientious people who would react just as negatively to what LTC Dooley proposed as anyone here on Pharyngula.

    Please don’t stereotype us based on our profession.

  27. frankb says

    That model is really incomplete. He needed to finish it off with,

    ” Sincerely, Lt. Col. Matthew A. Dooley, For the preservation of our precious bodily fluids.”

  28. nooneinparticular says

    Geez, PZ, you’re going to ban me because I poked fun at the knee-jerk insults that go on here? Criminy, Pharyngula is known net-wide for just this kind of response to a post.

    Anyway, it was tasteless, I know and I knew it would upset some (one cannot post anything here without offending someone) but it’s not like I wasn’t going to get slammed for posting a link Harris’ rebuttal anyway. And I wasn’t defending him.

    Well, it is your blog and you have every right to ban me. I hope you won’t and I am sorry I was jerk enough to piss you (and anyone else who didn’t like it) off. Mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.

    I also hope, however, that even those who got pissed off by my stupid jokes will read Harris’ defense. His argument seems to be more nuanced than “bomb all them ayrabs til they glow”.

    L8er sk8ers

  29. says

    noone:

    *ever helpful me; *

    You aren’t helpful, ever. You’re yet one more in the tide of stupid, a fuckstick who cannot be bothered to learn or comprehend, an asswipe who thinks every single comment here is all fuck and no signal. The fact that you aren’t getting the signal does not reflect poorly on us.

    Just once, you might try shutting up and attempt to actually start getting one of those headaches with pictures.

  30. The Dancing Monk says

    I read a story yesterday of a schizophrenic man who was beaten to death by five US policemen. When questioned about excessive use of force the prosecutors were told that the victim deserved the beating because he hadn’t immediately responded to their demands of compliance. Many of the commentators responding to the story sided with the police & felt it was perfectly acceptable behaviour & the death was just an unfortunate side effect of a beating he justly deserved because he failed to put his hands on his knees quickly enough.

    If the general public accept violence as a legitimate response to domestic crime at even a minor level then how do you expect anyone to complain when the military propose violence to a group of people regularly portrayed as “the enemy”? There is institutional violence endemic in every strata of US society & it appears to be so deeply engrained that most people aren’t even aware that there is a problem.

    And after all if you do point it out then you are easily dismissed as a liberal commie who deserves all that’s coming…

  31. xibochay says

    @Amphiox: I am aware of PZ’s son and he should be proud of him. I specifically used the words “knee-jerk reaction” because PZ said that’s what he had, albeit to the term “politically correct.” My comment was far from jerk-like.

    @Audley Darkheart: If the military is to be blasted for having something like this in the first place, give it credit when the mistake is realized. Again, I point out that all sorts of contingency plans for many, many scenarios, far fetched or not are thought about. That doesn’t mean that every soldier that sat through the course now wants to nuke the muslim world. Nor did I claim everyone should blindly respect soldiers. Just pointing out that sometimes people have a stereotype of the military that mostly doesn’t fit.

  32. Brownian says

    Anyway, it was tasteless, I know and I knew it would upset some (one cannot post anything here without offending someone) but it’s not like I wasn’t going to get slammed for posting a link Harris’ rebuttal anyway. And I wasn’t defending him.

    This is remarkably like you getting pissed off at me for not being clear on your meaning when you admitted to using “Muslim” and “Islamist” interchangeably.

    “I’m sorry except I’m not and it’s your fault anyway.”

    What the fuck is wrong with you?

  33. 'Tis Himself says

    I also hope, however, that even those who got pissed off by my stupid jokes will read Harris’ defense.

    f

    I have no particular interest in reading Harris’s excuses for advocating nuking people he hates and fears. You being an asshole when asking me to read Harris makes my interest wain to zero.

  34. Cipher, OM, MQ says

    My comment was far from jerk-like.

    Argument by assertion? Awesome! Can everyone play?

  35. Dalillama says

    @Audley
    Exactly. The fact that the military is even thinking of these things as ‘contingency plans’ is a serious problem. Those above who have attempted to dismiss this on that basis, what potential ‘contingency’ justifies nuking major population centers? Give detailed explanation why, please.

  36. Aquaria says

    I specifically used the words “knee-jerk reaction” because PZ said that’s what he had, albeit to the term “politically correct.” My comment was far from jerk-like.

    Funny, it looked to this veteran like you were being a fjerk who was whining about everyone in the military being blasted for being a bunch of idiots (which too many of them are–I was there, you know), and justifying idiotic, genocidal scumbag plans for the extermination of hundreds of millions of people.

    This went on for over a year, at least, you jerk, and nobody called it out for that long in your precious military. Surely you realize what a sign that is of something seriously rotten in Denmark. More precisely, it makes the US military–and the scumbags backing it up–look eerily like our German enemies of old. The one with the funny hats, goosestep marching and Charlie Chaplin mustaches.

    That you can’t see this is part of the fucking problem.

    Try to keep up.

  37. anubisprime says

    One mans “barbaric ideology” is another mans “beacon of freedom, self-determination, hope, and representative democracy”

    Maybe it is just a considered scenario…still took ‘em a year to disregard that particular fucking wish list…nuking cities..are they really that twisted?

    And this document in no way ups the anti?…every mullah and his fucking dog from Afghanistan to Saudi Arabia would be well aware of that little pleasantry courtesy of the US military!

    It is a sick possibility that the present batch of uber-rethuglians’ would actually applaud such an action…for them not so much a considered scenario more an uncontrollable urge on behalf of and especially for jeebus.

    Fuck me we are well screwed with such ‘balanced thinking’!

  38. Marc Abian says

    xibochay

    If the military is to be blasted for having something like this in the first place, give it credit when the mistake is realized

    Wait, it’s a mistake? I thought it was the military’s job to plan for contingencies? Perhaps, like me, you’re finding the following statements hard to reconcile?

    xibochay

    It is the job of military planners to think of potential situations, assign a probability to those situations and develop a plan for those situations.

    presentation

    It is therefore time for the United States to make our true intentions clear. This barbaric ideology will no longer be tolerated, Islam must change or we will facilitate its self-destruction. Let it be known that the United States remains, and will forever be, a beacon of freedom, self-determination, hope, and representative democracy. The American people will not be converted. We will not submit. We will not be intimidated, and we will not be driven from this earth.”

    Sounds more like some tough guy’s fantasies.

  39. R Johnston says

    What ever happened to having military officers who are guilty of treason get locked up for a lifetime and losing the keys?

  40. left0ver1under says

    ordeneus (#5):

    Was there ever any doubt that the US are the bad guys? Surely you have been since the end of WWII???

    Throughout its history since its foundation, the only times the US hasn’t been the criminal side has been when the US was the defending side (e.g. after the attack on Pearl Harbour, the hostage crisis in Iran). It was after 9/11 too, but Bush pissed that away.

    For the most part, though, the US has operated in “US interests”, usually (and, it seems, “preferably”) to the detriment of the other countries involved: Mexico, the Philippines around 1900, Colombia with United Fruit, Iran in 1953, Cuba before the communists, Vietnam, South Korea, the School of the Americas, the opposition to democracy in South America and Greece in the 1960s and 1970s, etc.). The full list is far too long to put here.

  41. ursamajor says

    Doesn’t surprise me it took a year (or likely several years) for this crap to be removed. Back in 2004 or there abouts Michael Savage was using his radio show to promote this very idea. Nuke them infidels into oblivion and have a party.

    No scandal, no loosing his show, no boycotts. Nothing.

    There are a lot of people – especially on the right – who think genocide is a good thing.

  42. left0ver1under says

    jaybee (#16):

    Dooley taught this material to hundreds of people over the course of a year. I don’t know which is more scary, that the superiors are unaware of what is being taught, or that it took a year before *one* of the students thought to question the sanity of this course.

    A much easier explanation is that neither is true, that the course material was known to the upper levels, and they are throwing Dooley under the bus now that word leaked out.

    Go on youtube and look up Gwynne Dyer’s 1983 series “WAR”, especially the episode “Anybody’s Son Will Do”. The same sort of pro-war, pro-killing, dehumanizing propaganda and indoctrination exists in every army, the targets only differ with the current political climate. One US marine drill instructor says to recruits in the documentary, “I think there’s a few too many Iranians in this world”. (If that’s not verbatim, it’s very close.)

    I wouldn’t be surprised if the same sort of talk was said about the British during the war of independence. It existed during the crusades too, used to justify the christians’ cannibalism of the muslims they killed.

  43. Amphiox says

    I think a fair case could be made, that of all the hegemonic superpowers that have ever existed in human history, the US is one of the, if not the one, most benign.

    But that is only because all the other hegemonic superpowers have set the bar so incredibly low.

    And that is notwithstanding the question of whether or not any nation or culture SHOULD aspire to be a hegemonic superpower. Or if there ever existed any such hegemonic superpower that was not the “bad guy” of its time.

    But it also goes without saying that the US is exponentially more powerful than any other prior hegemonic superpower that has ever existed in human history, such than whenever the US does harm, even if it might do harm with less frequency or greater relative reluctance, it will still end up doing massively more harm, in gross and net.

  44. cpa425 says

    War can only be one by the greater application of force than the enemies. I would expect nothing less from a Colonel in the US Army trying to cultivate the idea of actually winning a war. Graphically filled with the concepts of killing are the pages in his presentation but if you want to win than you remove self imposed restraints. Many want to fight a nice clean happy war, but that is impossible if the enemy you are fighting is determined to use anyone and anything as weapons and or targets. He thought completely outside the box of all reason, his plan would never see the light of day for good reason but it does cause the military community a chance to dialog about the war and the battels it fights. You can be appalled and repelled from this presentation, if you are that means there is still some semblance of humaninty in you and would be the same if this presentation went up the chain of command. This could be a litmus test to see who would follow these directives and who wouldnt. It could be a measure to see what to expect and by whom in the command staff. I think many have taken this entire presentation out of the context of a training/policy development and placed it at the White House for its execution, it has not. I would fully expect this material in any military strategy class. We are talking about war not love thy neighbor.

  45. says

    War can only be one by the greater application of force than the enemies. I would expect nothing less from a Colonel in the US Army trying to cultivate the idea of actually winning a war. Graphically filled with the concepts of killing are the pages in his presentation but if you want to win than you remove self imposed restraints. Many want to fight a nice clean happy war, but that is impossible if the enemy you are fighting is determined to use anyone and anything as weapons and or targets. He thought completely outside the box of all reason, his plan would never see the light of day for good reason but it does cause the military community a chance to dialog about the war and the battels it fights. You can be appalled and repelled from this presentation, if you are that means there is still some semblance of humaninty in you and would be the same if this presentation went up the chain of command. This could be a litmus test to see who would follow these directives and who wouldnt. It could be a measure to see what to expect and by whom in the command staff. I think many have taken this entire presentation out of the context of a training/policy development and placed it at the White House for its execution, it has not. I would fully expect this material in any military strategy class. We are talking about war not love thy neighbor.

    Your concept of war is millennium out of date.

  46. R Johnston says

    War can only be one by the greater application of force than the enemies. I would expect nothing less from a Colonel in the US Army trying to cultivate the idea of actually winning a war.

    Plotting to nuke civilians and have the U.S. take the blame isn’t war on behalf of the U.S.; it’s treason against the U.S.

  47. Brownian says

    I think a fair case could be made, that of all the hegemonic superpowers that have ever existed in human history, the US is one of the, if not the one, most benign.

    But that is only because all the other hegemonic superpowers have set the bar so incredibly low.

    Without knowing where you think that bar is set, and what you consider benign, it’s hard to make this case.

    The history of the US in Latin America, particularly, does not match any sense of the word benign.

  48. says

    The thing is, the attitude expressed is so fucking cowardly that it makes my teeth hurt. I’m sure it is meant to sound tough and brave and whatever, but to my ears it comes off as being wet-your-pants scared of the boogeyman. It isn’t “brave” to talk about murdering millions of civilians to stop an “enemy” that doesn’t have the capacity to conduct an actual war against us on any level.

    It is like all these military idiots are so desperate to have a enemy like the Soviet Union that they’ve drafted Islamic extremists to take that role, even though it doesn’t make any sense once you scratch the surface. I guess if the military would admit that there’s no existential threat to America anymore, they’d have to give up their fancy toys and their overcompensating chest-pounding and all the rest of their pathetic posturing.

  49. doktorzoom says

    PZ’s thought about dropping the “the full weight of American freedom, self-determination, hope, and representative democracy” into an Afghan living room reminded me of this:

    “I thought scientists were going to find out exactly how everything worked, and then make it work better. I fully expected that by the time I was twenty-one, some scientist, maybe my brother, would have taken a color photograph of God Almighty — and sold it to Popular Mechanics magazine. Scientific truth was going to make us so happy and comfortable! What actually happened when I was twenty-one was that we dropped scientific truth on Hiroshima.”

    –Kurt Vonnegut

  50. Amphiox says

    The history of the US in Latin America, particularly, does not match any sense of the word benign.

    Most benign in the relative sense, compared to other hegemonic superpowers of the past.

    As in more benign, on average, what the Soviets did, or the British Empire did, or the Imperial Chinese did, or the Mongols did, or the Romans did, or what Alexander the Great did, or the Assyrians did, and so forth.

    And each individually relative to what their level of technology and organization allowed them to do.

  51. raven says

    War can only be one by the greater application of force than the enemies.

    The genocidal maniacs are here!!! No suprise.

    1. Are all Moslems our enemies? No. We buy a lot of oil from some of them and have for decades. Two or three million of them are US citizens.

    There is even a picture of President Bush walking around holding hands with some Saudi King.

    2. There is such a thing as proportionate force. Should we have nuked Granada, Serbia, Libya,or Panama, all former enemies that we saved from one idiot leader or another.

    In point of fact, our Moslem enemies are mostly a bunch of terrorists continually on the run and often killed by us. They never even concentrate enough for us to nuke.

    Nuclear weapons are a last resort if our survival is at stake. This has been our policy since we invented them and it’s worked so far.

  52. Amphiox says

    Your concept of war is millennium out of date.

    Two and a half millennia.

    His concept of war as described was discarded as far back as Sun Tzu.

  53. Amphiox says

    “The greatest expression of military skill is not the winning of a hundred battles, but the subduing of the enemy without a fight.”

    (Paraphrased from The Art of War)

  54. raven says

    I would expect nothing less from a Colonel in the US Army trying to cultivate the idea of actually winning a war.

    Another murderer of strawpeople. I guess this troll is a genocidal maniac all the way down to intangible people.

    That isn’t even what this Colonel was doing. He was defining 1.4 billion Moslems including women and children as enemies and advocating genocide. Colonel: “This barbaric ideology will no longer be tolerated, Islam must change or we will facilitate its self-destruction.”

  55. doktorzoom says

    Ing @ 53: I’m pretty sure Vonnegut’s problem was with political/military systems’ rather horrifying applications of science, not with science itself.

  56. Amphiox says

    Nuclear weapons are a last resort if our survival is at stake. This has been our policy since we invented them and it’s worked so far.

    Not exactly. This was the policy since AFTER the bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the US saw with its own eyes just how terrible these weapons were. (The Americans did not fully comprehend the magnitude of the horror and damage that nuclear weapons would inflict before this, as one can readily deduce from their original invasion plans for Japan, which entailed a marine landing concurrent with a nuclear bombardment of the shoreline, with the deployment of American soldiers right into the fallout zone in the immediate aftermath.)

    And certainly there was nothing “last resort” or “survival” about the deployment of Fat Man or Little Boy. The war against Japan was already won, and America was no longer under any realistic threat. Indeed, further fighting was not even necessary (if reasonable ceasefire terms had been offered to Japan, the Japanese would have taken it, as their own internal documents revealed), except for the decision to pursue unconditional surrender, which was motivated largely for pre-emptive concerns, to forestall the possibility of a future resentful Japan and Germany starting yet another world war.

  57. raven says

    I’ll add here that if we nuked some country without a compelling reason like survival, nothing would happen. For a while.

    Every single country would smile at us and quietly start building nuclear weapons like mad. They are easy to make, I’ve seen plans on the net more than once and the Chinese were giving the plans for a moderately advanced warhead away during the 1990’s to anyone who wanted them.

    Then one day, someone would get nervous (or smart) and nuke us back on the theory that it is better to launch their missiles before we launch ours.

    It’s just MAD, Mutual Assured Destruction in slow motion.

  58. says

    I think a fair case could be made, that of all the hegemonic superpowers that have ever existed in human history, the US is one of the, if not the one, most benign

    Sometimes it’s like we in the US are still congratulating ourselves for not, you know, taking over the world during those brief years of nuclear monopoly, and the ensuing years of clear superiority. And damn, weren’t we nice to Japan after nuking two of their cities and firebombing others? We let them have freedom and stuff.

    This would leave open the option once again of taking war to a civilian population wherever necessary (the historical precedents of Dresden, Tokyo, Hiroshima, Nagasaki being applicable to the Mecca and Medina destruction DP in Phase III).

    Scary thought: that anyone with any power in the military could look at these examples of deliberate slaughter of civilians and see, not atrocities, but historical precedents.
    But they’re just contingency plans, right? We’ll only do that shit if we need to. You know, to save American lives.
    I’m not sure what sort of war crimes you couldn’t justify with that argument, which is why it’s horseshit.

  59. Amphiox says

    Then one day, someone would get nervous (or smart) and nuke us back on the theory that it is better to launch their missiles before we launch ours.

    And they would have a fully rational supporting argument for doing so, namely that of all the nations in the history of humanity, the US was the only one that ever deployed a nuclear weapon of mass destruction against a civilian population when its own survival was not at stake, with full knowledge of precisely what the results of such a strike would be, and thus could not, ever again, be trusted to possess nuclear weapons.

  60. alicebradley says

    When we were on the way back from deployment, the Commodore came to visit our ship. All of us officers gathered in the wardroom to hear his words of wisdom, which turned out to be along the same lines – Islam is evil and must be stopped, etc. A couple of the guys agreed, but most of us were pretty shocked. Later, I overheard the CO and XO talking about how said Commodore had been told by higher-ups to stop, but he continued to give that speech anyway. It’s definitely completely unacceptable that there are high-ranking military officers who think this way.

    /cool story

  61. Amphiox says

    I’m not sure what sort of war crimes you couldn’t justify with that argument, which is why it’s horseshit

    None or all, depending on how you approach it.

    Because this basically amounts to rules-lawyering until NOTHING is a war crime anymore.

  62. Amphiox says

    Sometimes it’s like we in the US are still congratulating ourselves for not, you know, taking over the world during those brief years of nuclear monopoly

    American exceptionalism!

  63. says

    I think many have taken this entire presentation out of the context of a training/policy development and placed it at the White House for its execution, it has not. I would fully expect this material in any military strategy class. We are talking about war not love thy neighbor.

    Of course nobody ever expected these extreme ideas to come anywhere near being a suggestion for a president of the united states.

    the idea of actually winning a war

    I noticed we didn’t defeat nazi Germany in less than four years by being nice.

    I also noticed we’ve been in Afghanistan for almost 11 years with absolutely no progress. And when we leave the exact same thing will happen that happened to Vietnam, another never ending war that we should not have been in and which Johnson and his idiot generals completely screwed up. Johnson was vetoing any idea that might actually accomplish something. An Eisenhower or a Barry Goldwater would have won that war. Or maybe that’s a bad example. Maybe Vietnam was impossible to win as is Afghanistan.

    I suggest do everything possible to avoid war, but if we get in a war anyway then get it over with fast instead of worrying about being accused of not being nice about it.

  64. Amphiox says

    I noticed we didn’t defeat nazi Germany in less than four years by being nice.

    Godwin on first comment. Really, is that the best you can do?

    I suggest do everything possible to avoid war, but if we get in a war anyway then get it over with fast instead of worrying about being accused of not being nice about it

    You know, Orson Scott Card isn’t actually an authority of the proper conduct of war, and Andrew Wiggin isn’t actually a real tactical or strategic genius.

  65. says

    I suggest do everything possible to avoid war, but if we get in a war anyway then get it over with fast instead of worrying about being accused of not being nice about it.

    You seem confused about the idea of a goal.

    If you go to war to acquire a resource, territory, or to aid a group for humanitarian reasons and you end the war by destroying that resource, territory or group; you still loose. This isn’t hippy tree hugger pacifism, it’s basic ruthless rationality.

    What you’re talking about is burning your house down to get rid of a termite problem. You’ll succeed, but the solution is absurdly fucking stupid because it ignores why the termites were a problem.

  66. Amphiox says

    And scorch-the-earth-salt-the-wells-terminate-everything-that-breathes isn’t necessarily the only, best, or even most likely to be best strategy for ending a conflict quickly.

  67. raven says

    We always win our wars, at least since Vietnam.

    Our opponents are not very competent third world armies whose main function is propping up a dictator by keeping the civilian population in line. How hard is it to terrorize unarmed civilians?

    We sometimes lose the peace though. We stomped the Taliban rather quickly despite not even having good access to Afghanistan. Near as I can tell we could stay in Afghanistan forever and not make any progress. And it’s not our fault, some people seem to like living in the Dark Ages, I guess.

  68. Gregory Greenwood says

    This barbaric ideology will no longer be tolerated, Islam must change or we will facilitate its self-destruction. Let it be known that the United States remains, and will forever be, a beacon of freedom, self-determination, hope, and representative democracy.

    Yes it’s genocide, but it is a good genocide, a necessary genocide, because of… umm… democracy and freedom and hope and stuff…

    It worries me that the most powerful and technologically advanced military in the world churns out such morons. The horrifyingly casual genocide apologia is the worst of it, but it is also worth noting that someone with as much power and status in the American military as Lt. Col. Matthew A. Dooley doesn’t see the staggering hypocrisy inherent in his words – invoking principles of freedom and self-determination to justify defining over a billion civilians as targets for lethal force. It is hard to exercise self-determination when you’re dead, afterall. I have no confidence in the judgement of anyone who invokes human dignity as an excuse to kill others for the supposed crime of observing the ‘wrong’ religion.

    Former President Bush once made a speech about the importance of stopping the world’s worst people (meaning crazed, apocalypse-obsessed fanatics) from getting hold of the world’s worst weapons. The trouble is that crazed, apocalypse-obsessed fanatics are already in control of one of the largest nuclear arsenals in existence – it just so happens that they are crazed, apocalypse-obsessed xian fanatics, and for some reason that is supposed to be OK.

    This is the stuff of nightmares. Everyone always goes on about the threat of militant Islam, but it seems to me that right now America is clearly the single greatest threat to the continued existence of global civilisation.

  69. Amphiox says

    And the fastest way to end a war, and indeed the only unilateral action that can guarantee ending a war quickly, is to immediately surrender unconditionally.

  70. says

    I’ve seen some select presentations of Koran verses and the explanation of what they mean- I’d have been really frightened if I didn’t know about the parts of the Bible that say similar things.

    *It came with some arguments for why this time it’s different but I don’t think it’s so impossible to get people viewing the direct words of their prophet differently than the ones devoted to jihad have for so long. Definitely won’t change as fast as I want but I think it will work out before we go causing a nuclear Winter.

  71. Amphiox says

    I’d have been really frightened if I didn’t know about the parts of the Bible that say similar things.

    I didn’t pull ‘terminate-everything-that-breathes’ out of nowhere.

    It’s from the Book of Joshua, as a direct order from God.

  72. vaiyt says

    This…

    What is this?

    This is EVIL. I mean, supervillain evil.

    Gotta love the total lack of awareness when the geniuses propose trying to reduce Islam to “cult status” with nukes. What kind of harebrained scheme is that?

  73. says

    An Eisenhower or a Barry Goldwater would have won that war.

    Eisenhower had the sense not to get involved in Vietnam. He had the chance; he got a lot of advice to intervene when the French were about to go down at Dien Bien Phu. But his experience in military affairs taught him not to trust ridiculously optimistic projections, and when trusted advisers told him what would be required to win in Vietnam (half a million troops, 5-10 years with no guarantee of success) he smartly declined direct intervention.
    Seriously, we dropped a shit ton of bombs in Vietnam. Short of annihilating North Vietnam, and bits of Cambodia, Laos, and at least some of the country we were supposed to be defending (which might have had repercussions, I suspect) we did about as much as we could do.
    The whole “they didn’t let us win” is Rambo bullshit, sort of the American version of the “November Criminals” myth from post WWI Germany.

  74. says

    Lets see if I follow the logic. A few loony Muslims have carried out terrorist attacks on America. In turn these military madmen believe it is necessary to nuke the entire Muslim world and kill every last Muslim to protect America.
    Seems to me that gives the entire Muslim world justification fr getting in first and staging a pre-emptive nuclear strike on the US.
    Just as well the only Muslim country with nukes is Pakistan and they couldn’t run a three seater dunny, (that’s a toilet for you yanks who don’t speak Strine).

  75. speedweasel says

    I agree that militant Islam must be eradicated but it’s the idea that must be killed, not the people who hold the idea.

  76. imthegenieicandoanything says

    Like any other large organization, the US military has a very large number of thoughtful, well-meaning people who seek to make themselves, their nation, and their culture better for all.

    And like any other large organization, but one whose basic mission is harming, even killing, people while taking as few risks as possible, it contains – and is often run by – stupid, even evil, people who think to become powerful by draining or turning into poison every last drop of their basic humanity.

    Nothing new here, that is.

    Like every other military ever, that of the USA has done good things more or less by chance. The top brass simply wants to be comfortable and important – they have no time to spare being moral, unless it clouds the results of their prejudice and idiocy.

  77. joed says

    u s culture and society is very sick.
    There is no difference between Democrat and Republican
    Psychopaths have been elected and reelected over and over again for at least 35 years. The psycos now run the u s. the psychos do as the ceo’s of the corporations say.
    The people are unaware and unable to think in a clear and critical manner. Dumbed-down for many years.
    It is a very sick society and the cure is not available to the people.
    The dues for justice and freedom are sacrifice and hardship. The people are way behind in their dues.
    The bad guys won and there is no going back.
    BUSH FOUND GUILTY OF WAR CRIMES
    http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article31297.htm

  78. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    BUSH FOUND GUILTY OF WAR CRIMES

    Wasn’t even aware he was being tried by the Hague. What a loser if you think anything other than that is meaningful. And your post is chock-full of loser thinking. Including no difference between the two parties.

  79. robro says

    raven — “We stomped the Taliban rather quickly…” We drove them out of Kabul quickly. It took a little longer to win some other towns in the south and east. But the Taliban are still quite capable of inflicting damage on US assets in the country and it’s proxy government. What the media calls “the Taliban” are approximately equivalent to the NFL (Viet Cong) for the Pashtun “tribe”…all 40+ million of them. Of course, the US helped invent this military organization to fight the Russians…the Great Game continues.

    feralboy — “Eisenhower had the sense not to get involved in Vietnam.” Not correct. Ike backed the 54 Geneva Accords that divided Vietnam, prevented the agreed to elections, supported the Diem government with weapons/training, sent in military “advisers,” and was otherwise deeply involved in the political situation throughout Southeast Asia. No one has clean hands.

  80. Cipher, OM, MQ says

    There is no difference between Democrat and Republican

    Yep! Having people in charge who are actively attempting to take away women’s bodily autonomy and queer people’s rights is exactly like having people in charge who aren’t!

  81. ericpaulsen says

    Yeah, there’s a HUGE difference between the parties – the Democrats accidentally get something right every now and then. Oh and we show up as blue on the election night maps silly, otherwise how would we know which red states we are in?

  82. Esteleth, Raging Dyke of Fuck Mountain says

    Cipher, don’t you know?
    Joed was talking about important differences. Women-stuff isn’t important.

  83. says

    Frankly, being an ally of the US doesn’t make you any safer. It isn’t like H.W.Bush didn’t do business with Saddam before deciding that he was the enemy. And his son ridiculed the US’s relationship with Old Europe.

    We have used nukes on civilian populations. We have responded to the hostilities of another country by engaging in war before the enemy ever engaged in hostilities. The rabid right wing in this country is very xenophobic and has almost all of the “be nice to Jews to bring along the End Times” crowd. The AirForce is heavily evangelistic and they started out the Iraq war with “Crusades” hand painted on missiles.

    I think someone up thread talked about leaving the US. I think it’s the only place safe from America. And that’s saying a lot considering our domestic policies.

  84. Pierce R. Butler says

    … Mecca and Medina destroyed, Islam reduced to cult status.

    Isn’t that what the Roman Empire felt about Judaism & its secondary sects when General Vespasian DX’d the Temple in Jerusalem 1,942 years ago?

    (Except that there are over a billion Muslims not living in M & M, many of whom wouldn’t need a movie or comic book to declare themselves Avengers. To deal with them, we’d have to unroll a carpet of bombs from Morocco to the southern Philippines – then there wouldn’t be any left except maybe a handful of cells in Hamburg and Ft. Lauderdale, and they couldn’t do any harm, right?)

    Hang down your head, Lt. Col. Dooley…

  85. joed says

    @91
    Seems scotus is only concerned with keeping corporations safe from the people.
    Seems scotus is no longer concerned with social issues. The days of scotus deciding social issues is long past, scotus don’t care about you any more than your politicians do.
    Your politicians do not represent you, they represent the corporations.
    Any body seen Denis Kucinich lately?
    The states now decide the lgtb, women issues and those social issues.
    To clarify, there is no difference between democrat and republican where foreign policy is concerned. this article does concern foreign policy.

  86. Cipher, OM, MQ says

    Joed was talking about important differences. Women-stuff isn’t important.

    Oh gee, of course, what was I thinking? That uterus of mine, running away with my fluffy pink ladybrains…

  87. Cipher, OM, MQ says

    The states now decide the lgtb, women issues and those social issues.

    And the states? Totally not run by democrats or republicans.

  88. raven says

    U.S. resumes Bahrain arms sales despite rights concerns
    Reuters – 2 hrs 13 mins ago………

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States will resume some military sales to Bahrain, a key Gulf ally facing Iran, despite human rights concerns linked to months of popular protests against the island kingdom’s rulers, the State Department said on Friday. etc..

    Latest headline.

    We are selling military arms to Bahrain, a Moslem nation. Because they don’t like the Moslem Iranians and neither do we.

    Colonel Dooley is guilty of overgeneralizing from a ragtag bunch of terrorists such as Al Qaeda to 1.4 billion Moslems. Ironically, over 90% of Al Qaeda’s victims have been…other Moslems.

  89. otrame says

    Scary thought: that anyone with any power in the military could look at these examples of deliberate slaughter of civilians and see, not atrocities, but historical precedents.

    They are historical precedents. The first two are examples of continuing strategic bombing when it had already been shown to be ineffective for the stated purpose of discouraging the civilians. The fact that Germany bombed the shit out of the UK and did not succeed in discouraging the civilians, and that the British and Americans had been bombing the shit out of Germany and Japan for several years, with no results but a bunch of dead people, just didn’t seem to register. They just couldn’t believe that it wouldn’t work, even though they knew it hadn’t and wasn’t. In other words, not only were they going against rules we supposedly believe in (at least try to avoid killing civilians) but IT DOESN’T FUCKING WORK. Strategic bombing has never worked. Not once. As historic precedents go Dresden and Tokyo should serve as excellent examples of WHAT DOESN’T WORK.

    What’s scary is that there are top people in the American military who don’t seem to know that.

  90. unclefrogy says

    let us be real for once. there was never a time when I would have considered the Europeans who settled this continent or this country to have been a benign hegemony.

    while Europe was doing its war thing and building empires around the world the united states was benignly conquering the north american heartland from sea to shining sea over the bodies of the inhabitants they encountered. So please let us not forget america was built with blood.

    this plan or what ever it was contingency or dooms day. It illustrates why we need civilian control of the military . They should not be left unattended for long. They should at no time direct or define international policy or any policy at all like don’t ask don’t tell.

    now I will go back and finish reading this thread,

    uncle frogy

  91. Amphiox says

    They are historical precedents. The first two are examples of continuing strategic bombing when it had already been shown to be ineffective for the stated purpose of discouraging the civilians.

    There was not a small component of plain atavistic desire for violent revenge in the motivation of much of those, as well.

  92. Amphiox says

    Colonel Dooley is guilty of overgeneralizing from a ragtag bunch of terrorists such as Al Qaeda to 1.4 billion Moslems. Ironically, over 90% of Al Qaeda’s victims have been…other Moslems.

    In other words, his “kill all muslims” agenda would be most efficiently served by…. hiring Al Qaeda as mercenaries.

  93. zb24601 says

    It has always been a problem for a society faced by a serious challenge to decide just what measures it can take, and how far it can go in opposing and meeting that challenge. If you argue that you can only preserve your way of life by adopting certain means which negate that way of life, that you can only preserve democracy or free speech by limiting them for example, or preserve a high standard of living by taxing and restricting it, or preserve liberty by regimentation, or moral order by inquisition, then you run the risk of sacrificing exactly the things you say you are fighting for. You run the risk of sacrificing precisely those things that you use to justify the sacrifices in the first place. And you risk becoming so like your enemy, that the differences matter very little.

    Those words were spoken by Eugen Weber in 1989 on his educational show “The Western Tradition” when he was talking about the fall of Rome, but I have thought about them many times since 2001. This no longer seems like the country in which I was raised, maybe it never was.

  94. says

    How is a psychopath like this allowed to stay in the military? The military are supposed to be trained professionals. There is nothing professional about what is coming out of this idiot’s face. The officers should be an example for the enlisted people. This is the worst kind of example; a historical revisionist and racist. The situation with the Jebusification of the air force, and not getting rid of cretins like this, is priming the pump for the sequence of stupid that happened in Europe 70 years ago. At the very least, it is going to seem like a nod to some loose cannon in US forces abroad to attempt another massacre.

  95. laurentweppe says

    The fact that Germany bombed the shit out of the UK and did not succeed in discouraging the civilians, and that the British and Americans had been bombing the shit out of Germany and Japan for several years, with no results but a bunch of dead people, just didn’t seem to register

    Except that bombing the hell out of Germany and Japan was never intended to discourage the civilian population during the conflict: it was to make sure that after the war no one would believe the stab-in-the-back myth: since during the interbellum, the nazis had taken advantage of this myth, the idea was that by doing enormous damage to urban centers, should surviving nazis and/or japanese nationamists try after WWII to peddle the same lies, the surviving civilians would answer “Well, if you were doing so well, why the fuck were you unable to defend us against air raids?“. It was certainly a cynical, cold blooded and ruthless calculus, but it did in fact work: neo-nazis and über nationalists in Germany and Japan have tried for decades to convince people that the axis defeat was a close call with no success whatsoever.

  96. Amphiox says

    It is not completely accurate to say that strategic bombing of civilians was never effective in breaking enemy morale.

    It did work once, in Spain, the very first time it was used.

    After that people adapted. It was one of those many tactics in the history of war that only works once.

  97. Amphiox says

    Except that bombing the hell out of Germany and Japan was never intended to discourage the civilian population during the conflict

    The strategic bombing of Germany was in no small part revenge for the London Blitz. The London Blitz was partly revenge for an accidental bombing of a civilian target by the British, and partly an attempt to break morale.

    The strategic bombing of Japan was in no small part revenge for Pearl Harbor.

  98. ibyea says

    @Amphiox
    This crap makes me think that there should have been war crime trials for the allied nations too.

  99. bigj says

    And no small surprise, the first point on the page after the one shown in the post:

    This nation was founded under a “judeo-christian” ethic of reason and tolerance. Intolerance is usually marginalized and compromise often celebrated.

  100. Azuma Hazuki says

    Jesus pogo-sticking Christ. And everyone says I’m the crazy one when I talk of wanting to leave the country. When does this madness end?!

  101. evolvejohn says

    Please, the DOD is not inherently evil. This is just one of dozens of possible contingencies that must be considered. In all likely hood this option would not get to the execution point unless the the United States was desperate and under attack. PS. This is my first post.

  102. says

    Speaking of brilliant tin-eared militaristic douchenozzles, there’s the US Marines VMFA-122 f/18 hornet squadron. Squadron name: “The Crusaders” Logo: a red crucifix with arrows at the ends of the bars. They temporarily changed the name of the unit to “The werewolves” when they deployed to the gulf, but changed it back when they were stateside again.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/VMFA-122
    I wonder if anyone has ever asked if this violates the constitution its members are sworn to protect? Nah.

  103. says

    We always win our wars, at least since Vietnam.
    Our opponents are not very competent third world armies whose main function is propping up a dictator by keeping the civilian population in line.

    We also spend more on our military than the rest of the world, combined. (Or damn close, depending on whether or not you count our massive intelligence apparatus as part of our military, which I do) For all intents and purposes we could be bombing people with bricks of money and it’d probably work better. Take the cost of the Iraq war and imagine how quickly Iraq would have gotten rid of Saddam and established a republican-style plutocracy if we’d just offered them the cash we were about to spend blowing the place up? I did the numbers early in the war and we could have offered every officer in the Iraqi military $1m+, and every noncom $500k, to turn their guns the other way… Of course, now, the payouts would be obscene.

  104. says

    I agree that militant Islam must be eradicated but it’s the idea that must be killed, not the people who hold the idea.

    I rather like PZ’s idea for this, but how can we get people classifying themselves by their evidence based view of the world, faster? I’m tired of just explaining this or that to people that aren’t that interested in listening and winning a few converts from the fence sitters that overheard.
    Isn’t there something I can do that maybe takes blood sweat and tears- well I know they cry over what I’m already doing but I’m talking about my own bodily fluids there.

    Having people in charge who are actively attempting to take away women’s bodily autonomy and queer people’s rights is exactly like having people in charge who aren’t!

    I picture myself as having a really strong bias in favor of the dems but even from my perspectives they’re not exactly stopping the republicans from taking away rights, and frequently go along with them on those issues if they can sneak a little funding to their own state into the bills.

    I’m not especially well informed but from what I’ve seen that is flat out the nicest spin I can put on the party as a whole. Entire system is really skewed at this point since the people that get their way turn out to vote a lot while those that don’t are fairly strongly gripped by the idea that their votes don’t count, and thus don’t bother to vote which in turn leads the people in congress to not be very concerned with representing them.

    But anyway I see a lot of good coming from criticizing everyone. People with a lot of power tend to not get criticized and lose touch with the populace all the faster for it.

    Here’s an idea- how about if we don’t use nukes at all, even if the other guys do set one off in our backyard? It would be all the push we needed to really get our army involved wherever the nuke came from and not nuking them back would sort of send the message, internally and externally, both that we are above using those things and that murdering civilians in a wall of fire just makes the people with guns fight harder. If some enemy group has the capacity to send more nukes our way it isn’t like we could destroy that infrastructure and/or stockpile by making civilian centers glow and the particular groups we think would nuke us in the first place are most certainly not going to be deterred by the threat of mass death and city destruction. If we actually stand to lose multiple metropolis areas then it stands to reason that a lot of countries with less land mass to their name are at the same risk and I know at least a majority of them are smart enough to see that nukes toppling the US would not remotely serve to slow down the rate the bombs were being flung. An atomic bomb enforced enrollment in the new caliphate might look like a way to get out of this but since we know that the terrorist groups in question mainly kill other Muslims it’s fairly easy to see that you couldn’t hide from the nukes like that either.

    So in the scenario where multiple nukes are a real threat we appear to have two options:
    A: Nuke their civilians back for a really hollow sort of revenge that won’t particularly upset our enemies so much as motivate them and create new enemies.
    B: Apply the least (or about one margin of error more,) force that we have to, with the assistance of a majority of countries that actually have functional armies, while specifically stopping this revenge mentality bullshit at the door.
    C: Casual Fridays.

    Couple of options outside of that spectrum that are technically possible but utterly unrealistic. Either way I don’t see any strategic or political gain from using nukes. Any time our enemies actually have a fortified position full of weapons we’d rather they didn’t have it seems like we can get rid of it with smaller bombs and more collateral damage doesn’t seem to improve the results in any way I can see.

    I haven’t watched a nuke on the horizon wipe out extended family members and acquaintances so maybe I’m misjudging the emotional impact but judging by the length of that carpet of bombs we would need to wipe Islam off the map I don’t think just giving a large number of them a vivid memory of what a mushroom cloud looks like would really be something we could afford with even the bare minimum value for human life.

    It all seems utterly unfeasible on every level, save the one that ignores reality for some divine mandated crusade or other such methods of convincing yourself that these human beings are somehow less than human.

  105. anubisprime says

    #84 @ DLC

    “Gen. Martin Dempsey. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.”

    A glimmer of hope in this farrago I suppose…

    What is a concern above and beyond the truly chilling brain farts of Lt. Col. Matthew A. Dooley …is the fact that in certainly one wing of a political party he would be treated as a visionary and a jolly good egg!

    That is the nature of this rancidity…there are folk out there that would wholeheartedly support this muppet, presumably to the point of a offering him a position at their table of bigotry and ignorance.

    This is not just one rogue officer…this is THE mind set of a group of christo-fascists with glory on their twisted minds!

  106. avianistheterm says

    Sounds like something Sam Harris would endorse. After all, he did say we should seriously discuss the indiscriminate nuclear bombing of the region as a method of preventive war.

    After reading through this thread I still haven’t really seen any meaningful discussion here.

    I think that the above quoted sentiment is a gross misinterpretation of Harris’s view.

    You should read his response on the subject (linked to near the beginning of the thread, I think) before jumping the gun and criticising his point.

    He does not advocate nuking arab countries unprovoked, or ‘because they’re Muslim’. What he spoke of was a hypothetical situation wherein a (hostile) Islamist regime or terrorist organisation gained long-range nuclear capabilities.

    His point was that a ‘cold war’ situation may not happen: if they sincerely desire martyrdom and thus do not follow the logic of ‘If we nuke America, they will nuke us back > therefore we won’t nuke America unless they nuke us’ (i.e. they don’t care if they are nuked, as long as they die for the Cause) then you have a radically new situation. It’s like his position on torture: while in practice he agrees with most liberals that torture is wrong (and he does not support what the US did in Abu Gharib or Guantanamo), he believes that it is impossible to rule out (in purely ethical terms) a situation where torture would be ethical (e.g. the hypothetical ‘Ticking Bomb Scenario’).

    Note that I don’t necessarily agree with all his conclusions. I think he is very much wrong on the profiling thing.

    My position on the profiling issue is:

    If there were a) A way of objectively, accurately discerning Muslims from Non-Muslims and b) A way of objectively, accurately discerning extremist Muslims from run-of-the mill moderates, then I would support profiling of ‘extremist Muslims’.

    However this is patently not the case. PZ is right: there is no way to tell if someone ‘looks Muslim’, and even if there were, 99.99% of Muslims aren’t terrorists. My objection with Harris here is not a moral one (I don’t have a problem with profiling based on e.g. behaviour – where there is some accurate way to tell if a passenger is suspicious), but a practical one: it’s silly, a waste of time and groups Muslims into a mould that only very few of them fit.

    TL;DR Based on my interpretation of Harris’s writing he doesn’t support a ‘Nuke Teh Arabs!’ policy; also, profiling of Muslims is stupid.

  107. avianistheterm says

    Oh, and sorry for the double post (no edit function?) but I’d just like to add my support to the ‘this US Military guy is a tool’ bandwagon. Seriously? Nuking civilians because they have a different superstition to you?

  108. says

    anubisprime @116:

    This is not just one rogue officer…this is THE mind set of a group of christo-fascists with glory on their twisted minds!

    I think this was the message Dr. Strangelove was trying to convey with the paranoid extremism of Gen. Jack Ripper. People didn’t catch the message because christo-fascism doesn’t necessarily involve our precious bodily fluids. Allowing people with any sort of delusion to be in charge of the big guns is a danger for everyone, including those the guns are (currently) pointing away from.

  109. Matt Penfold says

    Except that bombing the hell out of Germany and Japan was never intended to discourage the civilian population during the conflict: it was to make sure that after the war no one would believe the stab-in-the-back myth: since during the interbellum, the nazis had taken advantage of this myth, the idea was that by doing enormous damage to urban centers, should surviving nazis and/or japanese nationamists try after WWII to peddle the same lies, the surviving civilians would answer “Well, if you were doing so well, why the fuck were you unable to defend us against air raids?“. It was certainly a cynical, cold blooded and ruthless calculus, but it did in fact work: neo-nazis and über nationalists in Germany and Japan have tried for decades to convince people that the axis defeat was a close call with no success whatsoever.

    This is not true. Churchill, Portal and Harris were all quite explicit that the aim of Bomber Command was to “de-house” German civilians and bring about a collapse in civilian moral. The US was less explicit, pretending to concentrate on precision bombing, but in reality that was a fiction.

  110. says

    Interesting coincidence that a discussion about bombing comes up when my house was buzzed by a B-24 Liberator, B-17 Flying Fortress and a P-51 Mustang on their way to the local air museum for the weekend.

    The bombers have four engines each. Those engines aren’t the ones that are in the current generic prop planes flying overhead. They were the most powerful that space and the technology of the day allowed.

    Imagining those three planes and nine massive engines overhead, and then multiplying by several dozens, creates a stunning mental and aural image. Hearing such a terrifying sound and then carpets of seemingly randomly dropped bombs detonating in your city, if not all around you, would be among the most demoralizing things I could imagine.

    There has to be a lesser acknowledged danger to the precision of the modern bombers. They are quick and quiet and have generally accurate targeting. The public around the bomb site aren’t going to be demoralized, they are going to be pissed and fully ready to mete out retribution. Any sort of military mission now can become something entirely unexpected in a big hurry.

    Even with a strong case for casus belli in Afghanistan, the adventures of the US military have only succeeded in making lukewarm friends, at best, of only a small portion of the population and opened the door for the return of the Taliban. Having some nutter blowhard waving his gun-penis around, even if just verbally just adds to the mental fodder people abroad must be storing up about this country. If the people ranking higher and equal to this nutjob colonel aren’t sending ‘you’re not helping’ messages to him, I will be pretty disappointed with people in the command structure.

  111. jackrawlinson says

    @nooneinparticular: #12

    It is a bit more nuanced* discussion than you implied.

    Sadly – and as you were very quickly reminded – nuance doesn’t really impress the loud and monochrome commenters who seem to have come to dominate the “conversation” here these days. If you try to even suggest shades of grey around certain topics you’re just going to get shouted down and subjected to such reasonable observations as, “You’re yet one more in the tide of stupid, a fuckstick who cannot be bothered to learn or comprehend, an asswipe who thinks every single comment here is all fuck and no signal.” Oh, and even a threat of a banning from the man himself, it seems. Which is depressing.

    I really need to stop even glancing at the comments here. I keep doing so because I hope this has just been a phase for Pharyngula. Perhaps my memory of a few years ago is hazy and rose-tinted but it seems that the quality of exchanges was a bit more civilised and reasonable. Either way, it’s become much too ugly to consider entering into a debate here now, and it makes me sad to see such rabidly inflexible and abusive responses to anyone who doesn’t march lockstep with the preferred take on an issue. If I wanted to see a bunch of internet tough guys calling each other “fucksticks” and “asswipes” I’d hang out at 4chan or somewhere like that.

  112. avianistheterm says

    @jackrawlinson

    I’m not sure I’d go as far as you, but I must say I’m not impressed with the commenters’ response to the PZ’s articles about Sam Harris and profiling.

    What PZ posted was not an incitement to ‘Let’s all hate on Sam Harris’. He critiqued an article that Harris wrote, and rightly so – Harris’s stance on profiling is silly and wouldn’t work in practice.

    I don’t want to overgeneralise about the commenter response but there were a number of commenters who apparently can’t read and decided it was a ‘PZ SAYS SAM HARRIS = BAD, BADMOUTH SAM HARRIS’. That’s stupid and pointless, and neglects the fact that sometimes people can be wrong about one thing, and right about others.

    And I may be projecting, but I’m pretty sure PZ doesn’t hate Sam Harris. He might not agree with him (and I’m in the same boat) but that’s no excuse for commenters to engage in evidence-free bashing.

    We’re meant to be the rational ones, remember?

  113. Matt Penfold says

    We’re meant to be the rational ones, remember?

    We we are, but clearly you are not if you evidence-free tirade is anything to go by.

  114. Lars says

    Contrary to what some of you might think, there are some pretty sharp people working in the US military. They see the world with a pretty sophisticated and nuanced view.

    Aha, so that’s why they’re so eagerly carrying out Al Quaeda’s plan for them?

  115. Matt Penfold says

    Contrary to what some of you might think, there are some pretty sharp people working in the US military. They see the world with a pretty sophisticated and nuanced view.

    But not, with one exception, those who took the course in question. And not those who run the staff college where the course was held.

    That adds to a fair few people who clearly are neither sophisticated nor nuanced. They would also seem to have seriously comprised morals and ethics.

  116. R Johnston says

    Sadly – and as you were very quickly reminded – nuance doesn’t really impress the loud and monochrome commenters who seem to have come to dominate the “conversation” here these days.

    “Islamist regimes aren’t subject to deterrence” is the exact opposite of nuanced.

    The amount of evidence in favor of rulers of Islamist regimes wanting martyrdom for themselves rather than merely encouraging it among the proles is zero.

  117. jayarrrr says

    PZed sed: “So we’re going to drop a bomb on them and then innocently declare that it was their own fault?”

    Why not? works just fine for wife beaters.

    “I wouldn’t beat you if you didn’t make me angry!”

  118. avianistheterm says

    We we are, but clearly you are not if you evidence-free tirade is anything to go by.

    If you want evidence of commenters bad-mouthing without actually reading what either side is really saying, read the comments on the respective articles.

    What, exactly is irrational about actually trying to read the debate surrounding this issue before making a judgement?

    The way some people are acting, you’d think Sam Harris was a loon on the level of Ken Ham and company.

  119. avianistheterm says

    The amount of evidence in favor of rulers of Islamist regimes wanting martyrdom for themselves rather than merely encouraging it among the proles is zero.

    That’s a good point – it’s hard not to wonder how truly the leaders themselves ‘believe’. Obviously they must believe at least some of their own crap, but you don’t see them queueing up to suicide bomb, do you?

  120. Matt Penfold says

    If you want evidence of commenters bad-mouthing without actually reading what either side is really saying, read the comments on the respective articles.

    I have. The evidence you claim is there does not exist. It is true people were calling Harris a bigot, but since a very good case can be made that he, that cannot be used as evidence for bad-mouthing.

    What, exactly is irrational about actually trying to read the debate surrounding this issue before making a judgement?

    Nothing. What is irrational is that the bad-mouthing exists only in your head. Care to explain why you are making stuff up ?

    The way some people are acting, you’d think Sam Harris was a loon on the level of Ken Ham and company.

    Some of what Harris has said approaches that level of lunacy. The idea that Muslims can be identified by looking at them for example ? That is totally insane.

  121. KG says

    Short of annihilating North Vietnam, and bits of Cambodia, Laos, and at least some of the country we were supposed to be defending (which might have had repercussions, I suspect) we did about as much as we could do.- feralboy12

    Goldwater’s bright idea was to use nuclear weapons in Vietnam. It makes me want to vomit when this evil scumbag is portrayed as the acceptable face of conservatism just because he supported the separation of church and state.

  122. Drolfe says

    Going back to Amphiox’s point for a sec, “And each individually relative to what their level of technology and organization allowed them to do.” is the crux of it; given that the US is equally ‘bad guy’ with the Soviet Union since our level of technology and organization both permitted us to destroy all of human civilization many times over given our pre-treaty nuke stockpiles. Right? It’s a tie in as far as you can’t be any worse than both being able of destroying everything ever?

    Further OT, but speaking of nukes, isn’t it cool that the Tea-haddists figured that Lugar was an enemy of the state for trying to tie down loose nukes with Obama and primarried [that’s a word now right?] him out of Congress? GOOD TIMES!

  123. KG says

    The fact that Germany bombed the shit out of the UK and did not succeed in discouraging the civilians, and that the British and Americans had been bombing the shit out of Germany and Japan for several years, with no results but a bunch of dead people, just didn’t seem to register. They just couldn’t believe that it wouldn’t work, even though they knew it hadn’t and wasn’t. In other words, not only were they going against rules we supposedly believe in (at least try to avoid killing civilians) but IT DOESN’T FUCKING WORK. Strategic bombing has never worked. Not once. As historic precedents go Dresden and Tokyo should serve as excellent examples of WHAT DOESN’T WORK. – otrame

    Unfortunately, this is not wholly true. Certainly the German bombing of Britain didn’t work: they just didn’t have enough bombers, and the British developed effective counter-measures. The British/American bombing of the Ruhr did work, at huge cost in civilian lives, in terms of seriously reducing German industrial capacity and forcing the Germans to divert resources from the eastern front, and the same was true of the American bombing of Japan. The strategic error in the German case was to divert attention to Berlin, Dresden etc., which were too far from the bases, and less important (or in Dresden’s case totally unimportant) in industrial terms. The bombing of the Ruhr, at least, probably shortened the war. Whether that means it was justified morally, I find it very hard to judge.

  124. Drolfe says

    I meant my post at 133 specifically, not KG’s. KG is wonderfully informative as usual.

  125. avianistheterm says

    I have. The evidence you claim is there does not exist. It is true people were calling Harris a bigot, but since a very good case can be made that he, that cannot be used as evidence for bad-mouthing.

    Okay, here’s how PZ concluded his first article on profiling:

    Thorough reform of the security process is needed to make us genuinely safer. Scapegoating ethnic groups is not, however, the answer.

    Makes sense, right? Of course.

    Here’s a commenter (no. 36 in that thread), and I’ll be fair and say they weren’t all like this, but they are there:

    Those brown peoples are so scary, amirite Sam? There should be a lower standard of evidence needed to arrest, search, and convict them. After all, “Every moment spent frisking the Mormon Tabernacle Choir subtracts from the scrutiny paid to more likely threats. Who could fail to understand this?”

    … (edited for length, read original comment http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2012/04/30/no-racial-profiling-please/comment-page-1/#comment-323329)

    Now, admittedly that isn’t the rudest example, but it’s an absolute strawman. I don’t really want to be in the position of defending Sam Harris because I think he’s wrong.

    What he thinks (or at least, what I think he thinks) is that Islam is quite possibly more dangerous than any other religion at the present day (which may be true; depends on how you count indirect evil ala Catholicism and contraception), also the majority of terrorist incidents today involve Muslim extremists.

    Where his logic falls down is the transition from ‘a lot of terrorists are Muslims’ to ‘a lot of Muslims are terrorists’, which is a plain non sequitur.

    But hey, the fact that he published Schneier’s piece on his site indicates he’s open to new information, which is encouraging.

    Nothing. What is irrational is that the bad-mouthing exists only in your head. Care to explain why you are making stuff up ?

    Yes, it’s a great idea to read what you’re commenting on, and the piece it’s responding to. I can’t be entirely sure, but I would bet a fair few commenters haven’t read the relevant pieces.

    Some of what Harris has said approaches that level of lunacy. The idea that Muslims can be identified by looking at them for example ? That is totally insane.

    Oh I agree that the idea that you can profile Muslims on sight is stupid. I just don’t think that Harris says that because he thinks ‘hurr derp Muslims all look Middle Eastern, all the women wear full burqas’ and so on. I think he’s wrong, and thankfully I believe he has published a piece by Bruce Schneier – a security expert who (obviously) saw why racial profile doesn’t work.

    The problem for me is the snide dismissal of Sam Harris as some kind of crank. It’s one thing to laugh and look down on Ken Ham, or Eric Hovind or whoever because there’s no way in hell (no pun intended) they’re going to change their minds.

    Harris has indicated (through his publication of Schneier’s piece) that he is open to discussion and serious debate.

    That’s why I think that cheap shots, strawmen and dismissal are not the correct way to approach this. This should be approached as an evidence-based inquiry: is there a way to tell if someone is a terrorist by their looks? That’s a factual claim and security experts seem to think that ‘Muslim’ is not a good criteria for profiling.

    As for his other views, mostly I don’t have too much of a problem with them. The torture thing – I have a hard time arguing with his logic in purely hypothetical terms. On a practical and legal level, I still believe (as does he) that torture is wrong and should be illegal. Meditation – it’s a good idea to try and distance mental tricks that actually work (and are subject to neuroscientific research) from metaphysical bullshit. As far as I know research suggests that meditation techniques (or at least, some of them) do have an effect on the brain, and furthermore the effects have nothing to do with the supernatural – they are explainable in terms of our physical brains.

    Looong post, but the point I’m making is simple: debating the merit of what Harris, or anyone else thinks is all well and good, but I don’t think snide dismissal is the appropriate mode of discussion.

  126. Matt Penfold says

    Now, admittedly that isn’t the rudest example, but it’s an absolute strawman. I don’t really want to be in the position of defending Sam Harris because I think he’s wrong.

    In what way is it a strawman ?

    Harris said that profiling should be concentrated on those who conceivably look like they might be a Muslim. He failed to specify how we identify Muslims just by looking at the them.

    There is no physical characteristic that Muslims share in common. I would defy you or anyone else to tell a Nigerian Muslim apart from a Nigerian Christian, or an Indian Muslim apart from an Indian Hindu. Harris cannot have mean characteristics such as dress, or facial hair, since again these are not characteristics common to all Muslims, and have the addition problem that they can be easily circumvented. So what did he mean ? The most obvious answer is he had in mind in the stereotypical Muslim, that being an Arab. In which case the comment about brown people is quite appropriate.

    The problem for me is the snide dismissal of Sam Harris as some kind of crank. It’s one thing to laugh and look down on Ken Ham, or Eric Hovind or whoever because there’s no way in hell (no pun intended) they’re going to change their minds.

    Harris is a crank. That he suggests ludicrous ideas such as profiling people who look like they maybe a Muslim despite this being unworkable is evidence that he is. How is that suggestion not the work of a crank ?

  127. KG says

    I don’t want to overgeneralise about the commenter response but there were a number of commenters who apparently can’t read and decided it was a ‘PZ SAYS SAM HARRIS = BAD, BADMOUTH SAM HARRIS’. – avianistheterm

    You have, of course, absolutely zero evidence for that claim. I’m perfectly well able to read, and to infer that PZ’s attitude to Sam Harris is much too forgiving of the latter’s fuckwitted bigotry.

  128. KG says

    nooneinparticular@12,

    Thanks to linking to Harris’s “response to controversy” page. It confirms that Harris is not only an apologist for torture, and an advocate of a nuclear first strike against an Islamist regime in control of nuclear weapons – which he admits would probably lead to global catastrophe – but also a complete idiot with respect to so-called “parapsychology”. As we’ve just seen, he’s also moron enough to think you can identify Muslims by appearance.

  129. KG says

    What he thinks (or at least, what I think he thinks) is that Islam is quite possibly more dangerous than any other religion at the present day (which may be true ; depends on how you count indirect evil ala Catholicism and contraception) – avianistheterm

    That you can say that in the context of the current post shows that you are nearly as fuckwitted as Harris.

  130. concernedjoe says

    I think Sam Harris is concerned that an Islamist regime, if it had nuclear weapons and could deliver them to our “Western World”‘s harm, they would. That is not an irrational nor implausible possibility.

    But that also does not make it the inevitable consequence. Sam implies it is. He ignores alternatives in his discussion. There are reasons why people ignore alternatives.

    So why does he?

    Is he fanning fears and kindling desire for an unwarranted response? Is he creating a mindset? Is he, like any good propagandist, using a glimmer a truth and a bit of nuance, and a whole lot of omission, to nudge a mind toward the desired thinking?

    He neglects the amount of superior technology one would need to sustain attack on us. He cannot fathom this reality?

    He neglects that even if we did not strike back with nukes, our alternatives for defense against and incapacitation of enemies is awesomely formidable – once our dogs are cast in a fight.

    He most tellingly neglects that this would not be “nation building” (almost impossible and not popular anywhere) – but our legit defense – even if preemptive – and that most of any faith or of no faith would side with us – in some sense (to wit N. Korea situation). They would, if not out of “love for us” but at least out of common interest.

    I see in his own words an agenda that belies the defense. It is subtle- it is nuanced – it is advertised as being for a different purpose. BUT it is propaganda nonetheless offered to nudge our fears and our hopelessness toward a bigoted view.

    That is my opinion. Here are his words with his own intonation and emphasis. See what you think.

    It should be of particular concern to us that the beliefs of Muslims pose a special problem for nuclear deterrence. There is little possibility of our having a cold war with an Islamist regime armed with long-range nuclear weapons. A cold war requires that the parties be mutually deterred by the threat of death. Notions of martyrdom and jihad run roughshod over the logic that allowed the United States and the Soviet Union to pass half a century perched, more or less stably, on the brink of Armageddon. What will we do if an Islamist regime, which grows dewy-eyed at the mere mention of paradise, ever acquires long-range nuclear weaponry? If history is any guide, we will not be sure about where the offending warheads are or what their state of readiness is, and so we will be unable to rely on targeted, conventional weapons to destroy them. In such a situation, the only thing likely to ensure our survival may be a nuclear first strike of our own. Needless to say, this would be an unthinkable crime—as it would kill tens of millions of innocent civilians in a single day—but it may be the only course of action available to us, given what Islamists believe. How would such an unconscionable act of self-defense be perceived by the rest of the Muslim world? It would likely be seen as the first incursion of a genocidal crusade. The horrible irony here is that seeing could make it so: this very perception could plunge us into a state of hot war with any Muslim state that had the capacity to pose a nuclear threat of its own. All of this is perfectly insane, of course: I have just described a plausible scenario in which much of the world’s population could be annihilated on account of religious ideas that belong on the same shelf with Batman, the philosopher’s stone, and unicorns. That it would be a horrible absurdity for so many of us to die for the sake of myth does not mean, however, that it could not happen. Indeed, given the immunity to all reasonable intrusions that faith enjoys in our discourse, a catastrophe of this sort seems increasingly likely. We must come to terms with the possibility that men who are every bit as zealous to die as the nineteen hijackers may one day get their hands on long-range nuclear weaponry. The Muslim world in particular must anticipate this possibility and find some way to prevent it. Given the steady proliferation of technology, it is safe to say that time is not on our side.

  131. gillyc says

    Interesting that it’s people who believe “our god is all-loving, and he’ll send you to hell if you don’t believe that” also believe that “the USA is defending freedom and democracy and we’ll nuke the crap out of you if you don’t believe that”.

  132. deee says

    I’m kind of scared of the USA. If it were my government, or some other european country doing shit like this, at least I’d have some modicum of chance to influence it, or protest it or whatever, but what can I do when a country like USA is threatening the freedom of the rest of the world?

    It kind of seems to me that the US military has grown so big and powerful, that there’s basically nothing the rest of the world can do about it if USA decides to attack some place or another, sure we can express our disapproval but that’s like pissing in the wind, so to speak…

    And I’m not saying other countries aren’t doing horrible shit too, but none of them have this ultra-powerful military entity backing them up… when we also consider the recent extraditions of non-US citizens to be judged in US courts for “crimes” that are only illegal in the US, it paints a scary picture. It’s like no one is safe from the US military-industrial complex. I don’t condone violence against civilians of any country, but all this kind of makes me understand why someone would become a terrorist… not approve, but understand.

    I just kind of feel scared and helpless about all of this, and I wish there was something I could do about it…

  133. Pteryxx says

    re concernedjoe @142:

    But that also does not make it the inevitable consequence. Sam implies it is. He ignores alternatives in his discussion. There are reasons why people ignore alternatives.

    So why does he?

    What bothers me most about that extended quote from Sam Harris is that replacing references to Islamism/Muslim with “Premillennial Christians” changes little about the argument. A sizable proportion of the US population, and many of its politicians and military personnel, also believe that war in the Middle East is both inevitable and a welcome sign of the End Times; and Muslim countries have far fewer alternatives to protect themselves from the US than the other way around.

    (ref. Libby Anne’s post here: linky)

  134. nevsayeed says

    @AvianIsTheTerm

    The extent of Sam’s belief in Eastern mysticism goes far beyond meditation. He’s on record as saying he believes in telepathy and life after death. Here is an interview he gave to Salon magazine where he says there is scientific evidence for telepathy:

    “Questioner: It sounds like you’re open minded to the possibility of telepathy – things that we might classify as psychic. You’re saying it’s entirely possible that they might be true and science at some point will be able to prove them.

    Sam Harris: Yeah, and there’s a lot of data out there that’s treated in most circles like intellectual pornography that attests to there being a real phenomenon here. I just don’t know. But I’ve had the kinds of experiences that everyone has had that seem to confirm telepathy or the fact that minds can influence other minds.

    Questioner: Tell me about one of those experiences.

    Sam Harris: Oh, just knowing who’s calling when that person hasn’t called you in years. The phone rings and you know who it is and it’s not your mother or your wife or someone who calls you every day. I’ve had many experiences like that. I know many people who’ve had even more bizarre experiences. But that does not rise to the level of scientific evidence. The only way to determine if it really exists is to look in a disinterested and sustained way at all of the evidence.”

    Read the full thing:

    http://www.salon.com/2006/07/07/harris_24/singleton/

    In the same interview he says that life after death is a possibility, a point he makes numerously in The End of Faith where he claims there is evidence for reincarnation: “There may even be some credible evidence for reincarnation.” (The End of Faith, Page 242)

    Again:

    “Most scientists consider themselves physicalists; this means, among other things, that they believe that our mental and spiritual lives are wholly dependent upon the workings of our brains. On this account, when the brain dies, the stream of our being must come to an end. Once the lamps of neural activity have been extinguished, there will be nothing left to survive. Indeed, many scientists purvey this conviction as though it were itself a special sacrament, conferring intellectual integrity upon any man, woman, or child who is man enough to swallow it. But the truth is that we simply do not know what happens after death. While there is much to be said against a naive conception of a soul that is independent of the brain, the place of consciousness in the natural world is very much an open question.”

    (The End of Faith, Page 208)

    In his more guarded moments like the Salon interview he prefers to say “We don’t know what happens after death” than openly espouse his stated belief in the afterlife for which he was laughed at by scientists during the Beyond Belief conference some years ago which you can find online. Newsflash to Harris: We do know what happens after death. Nothing.

    James Randi has twice denounced Sam’s kooky belief in Eastern superstition which you may find below. To this day he refuses to retract this anti-science quackery and says in his blog post called Response to Controversy that he cannot dismiss it out of hand because there is credible evidence in its favour. Here is Randi on the nature of that evidence:

    http://www.randi.org/jr/2007-06/062207.html#i8

    http://www.randi.org/jr/2007-06/062907.html#i5

  135. rickschauer says

    Several books come to mind that outline the barbaric history and genocidal nature of the USA: Buried My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown and Global Predator by Stewart Halsey Ross.

    To put it lightly, history may not repeat itself but it does appear to swim in the same waters from time-to-time. And yes, it is very scary. Valor, honor, glory are at the root of the old lie; dulce et decorum est pro patria mori

  136. nevsayeed says

    Can someone tell me how to use the quote function please? And how to make a passage bold. The instructions for doing so are hard to follow. Thanks in advance.

  137. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Quotes: <blockquote>material to be quoted</blockquote>

    Can someone tell me how to use the quote function please?

    Bold: <b>material to be bold</b>

    The last word is bold.

  138. says

    Okay, so this back and forth here has been essentially to condemn or defend both this DOD class and S. Harris’ views, a few ad homim attacks, and of course a lot of pithy “I hate America” comments, however not much on the problem that both these items have raised. So how about we shift this discussion a bit and task this list’s great minds on the problem raised rather than waste more time berating each other.

    So I pose the question that both this DOD class and S. Harris have:

    What will we do if an Islamist regime, which we know from experience (911 and others) may be willing to martyr themselves and others, ever acquires long-range (or another way to deliver) nuclear weaponry?

    What can we do?
    What steps can we take?
    If prevention fails, what do we do?
    If deterrence fails, what do we do?

    Don’t an ass but don’t be shy either, the worst thats going to happen on this list if your ideas are presented politely is someone else will will try and tear them down – okay – someone may call you a fuckwit but I think most of us can survive such withering assaults. It’s okay to not have an answer. It’s okay to say you believe another’s answer is wrong. But the problem still exists so lets get some ideas here. Maybe, just maybe we’ll come up with something viable, something that could potentially save us from ourselves.

    I unfortunately have to go to work right now so I can’t begin the discussion with an idea, but when I return tonight or maybe tomorrow, I will make some kind of attempt.

  139. nevsayeed says

    @ Nerd of Redhead

    Let me see if this works by rendering my gratitude in bold quotations:

    Thank you Redhead for setting this newbie straight. Thank you!

  140. julietdefarge says

    I hope reporters will ask both Presidential candidates for their reaction to this. I love to see squirming, flinching, and coughing.

  141. nevsayeed says

    So I pose the question that both this DOD class and S. Harris have:

    What will we do if an Islamist regime, which we know from experience (911 and others) may be willing to martyr themselves and others, ever acquires long-range (or another way to deliver) nuclear weaponry?

    The first thing to note is that there are two Muslim states with nuclear arsenals, Pakistan and Turkey, the former of whose civilians we kill routinely from drone strikes without any reprisals from the state. But individual citizens like the Times Square bomber will try to exact vengeance for the destruction we rain down on them so perhaps you should revise whom the belligerent party is. And I hope you will not pretend that America did not intervene in the the mideast until 9/11 and that we did not overthrow Iran’s parliamentary democracy in 1953 and install a despot who killed tens of thousands just as we back other despots in the region against the wishes of the Arab pro-democracy movements in Egypt and Bahrain.

    The question to ask is why anybody might want to bomb the United States in particular as opposed to other “infidel” countries like Japan or South Africa which are much closer to the mideast. Which is why Harris and his neocon buddies would rather be skinned alive than focus on the foreign policy motivation driving terrorism.

    Harris does not oppose terrorism. He just thinks America and Israel should have sole possession of it.

  142. Pierce R. Butler says

    KG @ # 140 & nevsayeed @ # 146 have clarified Harris’s proposition for me at last: we need to screen airline passengers (and eventually, all sorts of other people) for Islamic tendencies by stationing trained telepaths at boarding gates.

    Of course, this will require increased funding for applied neuroscience research. I bet Dr. Harris could help us find some proposals in that area!

  143. anuran says

    “We’re gonna liberate the fuck out of you.”

    And they wonder why there are Muslims who don’t love and worship the United States of America…

  144. brasidas says

    The suggestion that the allied bombing of German cities was for military reasons is pretty much refuted by Churchill’s statement that, “”It seems to me that the moment has come when the question of bombing of German cities simply for the sake of increasing the terror, should be reviewed.” He is unlikely to have asked for a review of a policy that the allies weren’t putting into effect, so there was actually a policy of bombing German cities purely to cause terror. Baddies.

    German war production climbed throughout the war until the last few months of the war despite the mass bombings.

  145. The Swordfish, High Enlightened Grand Master Janitor of the Gayluminati says

    I think the thing that scares me the most about this is the implications for civilian control of the military.

    Either the civilian government knows what’s going on, and thus offer at least tacit approval (which seems unlikely in this case; unspeakably horrifying if true), or it doesn’t, which would seem to indicate that the military has grown so large and complicated that it’s impossible for there to be any real civilian oversight. The whole McChrystal fiasco really wasn’t reassuring on that point.

  146. says

    What will we do if an Islamist regime, which we know from experience (911 and others) may be willing to martyr themselves and others, ever acquires long-range (or another way to deliver) nuclear weaponry?

    911 showed no such thing. 911 showed that an ideological organization would do that. Not a government, which is by nature, interested in the long term self preservation.

    A better question is why you have this double standard. What deterrence does the Arab world have against the Israeli nuclear arsenal, given numerous examples that the Israeli military has very little disregard for the lives or borders of their neighbors?

  147. Rey Fox says

    I’m just going to start taking “politically correct” as a compliment. I’m correct politically, and my accuser is wrong. Thank you for pointing that out, Mr. Jingo. I guess all that time I spent learning about the world paid off.

  148. Amphiox says

    GregfromCanada, you need to clarify what you mean by “know from experience”.

    If the “experience” is 9/11, then do you mean the case of Osama bin Laden directing a coup of a nuclear armed state and installing himself as dictator? Oh, wait, that can’t happen, since bin Laden IS DEAD.

    Or are you just assuming that EVERY Islamist state will ALL be identical, and just because al Qaeda has shown itself capable of suicidal martyrdom, every and all Islamist states will all, automatically, be equalling willing to commit national suicide by attacking anyone in the West with a nuke?

    Assuming that you are NOT saying that, what WOULD you consider “experience” that said hypothetical state was absolutely going martyr itself and normal deterrents would not apply? Harsh blustering in the past? Does that mean we should have nuked the USSR after Khrushchev made his “we will bury you” speech?

  149. Amphiox says

    Forget the Israeli arsenal, what deterrence does the Islamic world have to the American nuclear arsenal, given the clear evidence that America ACTUALLY USED said arsenal against civilian populations, TWICE, in a situation where America was already fully and easily capable of achieving all its aims with conventional means?

  150. raven says

    What will we do if an Islamist regime, which we know from experience (911 and others) may be willing to martyr themselves and others,…

    This is blatantly false. Also a strawpeson again. The genocidal maniacs of strawpeople are here.

    Mohammed Atta and the 18 9/11 hijackers weren’t an “Islamic regime”. Unless you want to call 18 people an “Islamic regime”. Which makes myself and my cats a “Pagan regime” I guess. And PZ Myers an “Atheistic Biologist Cephalopod Fan regime”.

    Al Qaeda isn’t an Islamic regime either. Their main target is other Moslems and their governments.

    If you want to worry about hypothetical situations, then consider a heavily armed country that develops nuclear bombs and proves beyond doubt that it will use them by actually bombing say, two cities full of civilians. One that for example occupies the southern half of a whole continent. Bounded by two oceans. Whose first letter is “U”. The only country proven to use nuclear weapons in war is the USA.

  151. raven says

    I forgot to mention that this hypothetical nuclear bomb state has around 75 million weird religious cultists whose best idea is to sit around in a catatonic daze and hope a Sky Monster shows up Real Soon, kills 7 billion people, and destroys the earth.

    The Sky Monster is 2,000 years late but they never, ever lose hope. They call themselves…fundie Xians.

    There is always the chance that someone like Sarah Palin, Rick Santorum, or Michele Bachmann gets control of the thousands of nukes and decides to help jesus out with the deeply hoped for and long delayed Apocalypse.

  152. says

    Please tell me that the spokesmoron was promptly slapped down and muzzled.

    The U.S. goes on inspiring resistance to its murderous forays. Can they not imagine what it would be like to have another country invade and bomb them, killing a few hundred thousand civilians “for their own good” until they installed the ‘proper’ form of government to suit the foreigners’ culture? How much would they want to resist?

  153. says

    Ike backed the 54 Geneva Accords that divided Vietnam, prevented the agreed to elections, supported the Diem government with weapons/training, sent in military “advisers,” and was otherwise deeply involved in the political situation throughout Southeast Asia. No one has clean hands.

    No, Eisenhower’s hands weren’t clean, by any stretch. In fact, the record of covert operations under his watch is pretty scary stuff.
    But, responding to the assertion that he would have “won that war,” Ike had a much better sense of what that sort of effort would cost in terms of dollars, casualties, and time. He was painted a scenario very similar to what took place under later presidents, received advice to take that course, and resisted it. I do think there’s a difference between sending arms and a few thousand advisors and maintaining a presence of 400,000 troops for several years.
    No, I don’t think Ike would have “won that war.”
    One of the most unfortunate legacies of the McCarthy era was the way democratic politicians were made to worry about the “soft on communism” label, which led to some really shitty decisions. War heroes like Ike and long-time red-baiters like Nixon could make decisions without worrying about that. I suspect a democrat would have had more political difficulty letting Dien Bien Phu fall or making trips to China and Russia.
    And the republicans have been using that essential strategy ever since–once the cold war ended, “soft on crime” was the grenade they used, and since 9/11, “soft on terrorism” became the catch phrase.

  154. David Marjanović says

    Was there ever any doubt that the US are the bad guys? Surely you have been since the end of WWII???

    That was overshadowed by the fact that the other guys were, most of the time at least, even worse guys. The Soviets, I mean.

    Monumental war of evil against evil against evil against evil against evil.

    It existed during the crusades too, used to justify the christians’ cannibalism of the muslims they killed.

    o_O

    Cannibalism???

    Reference, please.

    “The greatest expression of military skill is not the winning of a hundred battles, but the subduing of the enemy without a fight.”

    (Paraphrased from The Art of War)

    “First win, then go to battle.”

    Indeed. How bad is it to be more war mongering than Sun Tzu?

    Was Sunzi a warmonger?

    Every single country would smile at us and quietly start building nuclear weapons like mad. They are easy to make

    Enriching uranium isn’t easy, it’s lots of hard work. Plutonium doesn’t occur in nature in any serious quantities, it has to be made first – from uranium…

    I suggest do everything possible to avoid war, but if we get in a war anyway then get it over with fast instead of worrying about being accused of not being nice about it.

    When you’re in a war, and you notice it isn’t winnable, why don’t you just pull out and go home? Or pull out and pay someone else (the UN for instance) to go in instead?

    Are you perhaps committing the fallacy of sunk costs?

    An Eisenhower or a Barry Goldwater would have won that war.

    Barry Fucking Goldwater? Barry F. Goldwater wanted to nuke Vietnam. That’s why he lost the election. In your guts, you know he’s nuts – and in your brain, too.

    Godwin on first comment. Really, is that the best you can do?

    Yes, this is the best inhumanape can do. This has been tonight’s episode of Easy Answers To Easy Questions. See you tomorrow, same time, same channel.

    Never mind the fact that the US was a lot nicer in WWII than it could have been. Didn’t even pillage like the Soviet Union.

    You know, Orson Scott Card isn’t actually an authority of the proper conduct of war, and Andrew Wiggin isn’t actually a real tactical or strategic genius.

    ROTFL!!!

    the only Muslim country with nukes is Pakistan and they couldn’t run a three seater dunny

    Thread won.

    the British and Americans had been bombing the shit out of Germany and Japan for several years, with no results but a bunch of dead people

    Oh, there were results: it was counterproductive. The survivors were, like, totally pissed and actually ended up trying to believe the “now more than ever” and “to the last drop of blood” propaganda. This may have prolonged the war.

    What’s scary is that there are top people in the American military who don’t seem to know that.

    Doomed to repeat history, I suppose.

    Except that bombing the hell out of Germany and Japan was never intended to discourage the civilian population during the conflict: it was to make sure that after the war no one would believe the stab-in-the-back myth

    That’s interesting. I’ve never read this before.

    And yes, this way, it did work. Still, wouldn’t a slightly narrower focus on military or at least economic goals have driven that point home just as well?

    he believes that it is impossible to rule out (in purely ethical terms) a situation where torture would be ethical (e.g. the hypothetical ‘Ticking Bomb Scenario’)

    …which shows that he’s really bad at thinking things through.

    Do I need to spell it out? When the bad guy tells you where the bomb is, you still need to go there and disarm the bomb – while in fact it goes off somewhere else because the bad guy, bad as he is, lied to you. Oh, sure, you can punish him for lying afterwards, but that’s too late, the victims are dead, the terrorist has won.

    *sigh*

    This is not true. Churchill, Portal and Harris were all quite explicit that the aim of Bomber Command was to “de-house” German civilians and bring about a collapse in civilian moral.

    Ah. I was wondering.

    What will we do if an Islamist regime, which we know from experience (911 and others) may be willing to martyr themselves and others

    Wait, wait, wait. There is no experience with any such regime.

    No, not even Iran in the initial holy enthusiasm right after the Islamic Revolution.

    But let’s take the hypothetical at face value anyway:

    ever acquires long-range (or another way to deliver) nuclear weaponry?

    How about not starting a war and instead sending the CIA to kidnap the regime and/or disable the nuclear weapons? Or sending the Mossad if you think the Central Ignorance Agency isn’t up to that kind of task?

  155. avianistheterm says

    The extent of Sam’s belief in Eastern mysticism goes far beyond meditation. He’s on record as saying he believes in telepathy and life after death. Here is an interview he gave to Salon magazine where he says there is scientific evidence for telepathy:

    See, that sounds strange to me, because I was at his talk at the Global Atheist Convention and from what I gathered he didn’t seem to believe in life after death there.

    As far as telepathy goes – I agree he’s probably giving cranks too much credit. Could there theoretically be evidence for telepathy? Yes. Is there? No, and as long as it stays that way (doesn’t negate actual scientific research!) it shouldn’t be seen as anything more than silly woo.

    That’s the only sense in which I agree with him there: we can’t catagorically dismiss telepathy as impossible, because theoretically there could be natural mechanisms in which it would work (though it still has absolutely no evidence and as far as we can tell there’s nothing in the brain to suggest telepathic transmissions – so it can still be dismissed based on current evidence, just not catagorically), whereas we can catagorically dismiss the Biblical explanation for our existence, because not only does it conflict with modern evidence (e.g. ‘the smaller light to light the night’ – it’s a REFLECTOR, not a light) it isn’t even internally consistent.

    But that also does not make it the inevitable consequence. Sam implies it is. He ignores alternatives in his discussion. There are reasons why people ignore alternatives.

    Agreed. I don’t think a nuclear-first strike should be our immediate response. I think the question of ‘what to do when an Islamist regime gets nukes’ is a bit more open to debate than ‘nuke em til they glow’.

    If you want to worry about hypothetical situations, then consider a heavily armed country that develops nuclear bombs and proves beyond doubt that it will use them by actually bombing say, two cities full of civilians. One that for example occupies the southern half of a whole continent. Bounded by two oceans. Whose first letter is “U”. The only country proven to use nuclear weapons in war is the USA.

    But… but… the US has the Guiding Light of Christianity. Christians would never advocate killing anyone because of a difference of belief.

    (, obviously)

    What will we do if an Islamist regime, which we know from experience (911 and others) may be willing to martyr themselves and others, ever acquires long-range (or another way to deliver) nuclear weaponry?

    What can we do?
    What steps can we take?
    If prevention fails, what do we do?
    If deterrence fails, what do we do?

    Those are the questions I really don’t have an answer to.

    How do you reason with someone who wants to be killed in order to get into Paradise?

    Mohammed Atta and the 18 9/11 hijackers weren’t an “Islamic regime”.

    I don’t think terrorist cells and so on are the real problem here – what everyone’s worried about is a radical Islamic government (e.g. Iran) gaining long-range nuclear weapons, and deciding they have nothing to lose by using them.

  156. says

    I don’t think terrorist cells and so on are the real problem here – what everyone’s worried about is a radical Islamic government (e.g. Iran) gaining long-range nuclear weapons, and deciding they have nothing to lose by using them.

    If your concern is that an entire government becomes suicidal at once then I think I can safely reassure you.

    Seriously, AFAIK Islam doesn’t even have a Millennial apocalyptic obsession like Christianity does…we DO have a military dominated by a religion that believes the mass extinction of the human race is a goal to be longed for.

    WHY ARE YOU FOCUSING ON ISLAM!?

    FFS, even a cult as small as Jones Town couldn’t get people on board for just a mass suicide.

  157. raven says

    I don’t think terrorist cells and so on are the real problem here – what everyone’s worried about is a radical Islamic government (e.g. Iran) gaining long-range nuclear weapons, and deciding they have nothing to lose by using them.

    Thanks Mr. Obvious. But I was responding to some moron who thinks 18 terrorists make up a suicidal “Islamic regime”.

    You mean like North Korea? A Stalinist country ruled by a newly made up religious cult that just so happens to deify the ruling dynasty, which seems to be three generations of loons by now?

    It’s a good thing we nuked them before they developed nuclear weapons. Oh wait we didn’t. Must have forgot.

    Iran is a problem but nuclear weapons should be a last resort, not the first resort. And indiscriminately nuking a whole religion is genocide to no purpose. Iran has lots of enemies and they go back millennia. The Arabs, who are mostly Moslem. At this very moment, we are selling arms to the nearby Arabs in case they end up in war with…Iran.

  158. says

    what everyone’s worried about is a radical Islamic government (e.g. Iran) gaining long-range nuclear weapons, and deciding they have nothing to lose by using them.

    What ‘everyone’ are you referring to? I’m not. Islam isn’t inherently any crazier than judaism, christianity, or any other religion. Suicide attacks are a strategy stemming from desperation and powerlessness.

    The reason a country wants to get nukes is power; so that they can defend or dominate – not so that they can die. It’s a hell of a lot of work and expense to go to, if you’re hankering after death. The canard that Iran’s leaders (who are not stupid) are going to suddenly lose their minds and decide to die attacking Israel is a lie. If they were that crazy, they could do a pretty good job of getting killed by Israeli nukes by launching a conventional attack (which you’ll notice they haven’t tried to do)

    The real issue is that Israel doesn’t want to lose their nuclear monopoly in the region. Everything else is window-dressing.

  159. avianistheterm says

    If your concern is that an entire government becomes suicidal at once then I think I can safely reassure you.

    This is true – you don’t see the leaders of these regimes/terrorist organisations giving up their lives, which I agree makes such a situation far less likely.

    Seriously, AFAIK Islam doesn’t even have a Millennial apocalyptic obsession like Christianity does…we DO have a military dominated by a religion that believes the mass extinction of the human race is a goal to be longed for.

    WHY ARE YOU FOCUSING ON ISLAM!?

    I agree that in realistic terms we have much more to fear from Evangelical Christians than from Muslims. They’re the ones who would agree with the sort of military practice endorsed in this military report, plus they’re the ones pushing for destruction of separation of church and state, removing women’s rights (not that there isn’t a problem with that in Islam) and so on.

  160. says

    How do you reason with someone who wants to be killed in order to get into Paradise?

    How does this not apply to christians, or any other religion in which death leads to paradise? All religions with an afterlife of reward have the same problem.

    What’s going on is that, right now, “islam” (by which we generally understand Iran and any of the other arab states that have any kind of military) is having the cards stacked against it by the mostly-christian US and the mostly-jewish Israel. You’ll notice that there isn’t a whole lot of talk about African muslims acting up. Because nobody gives a shit about them because they’re not threatening to the US and its puppets or Israel and its colonies.

  161. avianistheterm says

    How does this not apply to christians, or any other religion in which death leads to paradise? All religions with an afterlife of reward have the same problem.

    It absolutely applies to Christians too. I’d like to think that the lunatic fringe (or the even-more-lunatic-than-the-rest-of-them fringe) doesn’t have enough power to seriously pull something that drastic off. However, I’m not so sure about that if this is what the American military is seriously looking at.

    What’s going on is that, right now, “islam” (by which we generally understand Iran and any of the other arab states that have any kind of military) is having the cards stacked against it by the mostly-christian US and the mostly-jewish Israel. You’ll notice that there isn’t a whole lot of talk about African muslims acting up. Because nobody gives a shit about them because they’re not threatening to the US and its puppets or Israel and its colonies.

    While I agree that the US cares about Islamic nations mostly because of a) oil interests and b) Israel it is true that there aren’t too many Christian theocracies on the level of, say, Iran around at the moment. That isn’t to say Christians aren’t causing damage or influencing policy, but they don’t have a Supreme Leader who claims to be directly obeying God’s will, and who have the power to declare war and control the military.

    You mean like…zero?

    It’s a question of belief on behalf of the leaders. How much of their own bullshit do they believe?

    If they truly believe that martyrdom will lead them to Paridise then it is possible that them being armed with nuclear weaponry could lead to catastrophe.

    However, I think it’s equally possible (if not more likely) that (while they probably do believe at least some of what they preach) the true motive for encouraging jihadist ideas is political rather than purely religious. In this case they are very unlikely to risk nuclear war at the cost of their power or their lives.

  162. left0ver1under says

    Marcus Ranum (#176):

    What ‘everyone’ are you referring to? I’m not. Islam isn’t inherently any crazier than judaism, christianity, or any other religion. Suicide attacks are a strategy stemming from desperation and powerlessness.

    Mild disagreement. Suicide attacks are a result of fanaticism, of individuals blinded by ideology to give up self-preservation.

    During the time of the crusades, christians regularly performed suicide attacks. If christians had possessed airplanes in 1001 CE, they would have done a 9/11 into Saladin’s citadel.

    The reason a country wants to get nukes is power; so that they can defend or dominate – not so that they can die. […] The real issue is that Israel doesn’t want to lose their nuclear monopoly in the region. Everything else is window-dressing.

    Stronger disagreement. Some lunatics see others as less deserving of life, or are unwilling to think about the consequences, making them more willing to use such weapons. Israel’s leaders are actually willing to use them, as evidenced by their indiscriminate use of cluster bombs, white phosphorus and other weapons against civilian populations, or Israel’s policy of isolation and starvation of the Palestinians.

    If Iran did launch a nuclear weapon against Iran, the jet stream would send the radiation east onto other predominantly muslim countries, as well as India and China. Israel’s leaders – not the people, the leaders like Netenyahu – are callous enough to think that’s acceptable.

  163. avianistheterm says

    I’m sorry Iran encourages Jihadists? You are fucking confused.

    I wasn’t specifically talking about Iran in that last part, but about a hypothetical nuclear-armed regime. Yes, Iran could fill that role in terms of gaining nuclear weaponry, but my point was that an extremist regime could follow that logic.

    I doubt Iran will, because it’s almost certainly more interested in its own continuation than in jihad. In fact, Saudi Arabia is a better model ideologically (they did recognise the Taliban as a legitimate regime, remember), and even there I’m pretty sure their monarchy wouldn’t be too keen to engage the West, especially with their lucrative oil deals…

    Jihadist ideas aside, a nuclear Iran is still a major threat – as I said previously they are basically a theocracy (albiet with sham-democratic elements). What exactly is the response if a nuclear armed Iran does decide that it wants to attack Israel or the West? (Note I’m not saying it *will*, because I think they realise that would cause absolute chaos and would probably not end with them still existing).

    Also note I’m not defending the US’s military policy or its ties with Israel, I think there are serious issues there, but even so this is a theoretically possible (if very unlikely) situation.

  164. avianistheterm says

    The problem is we really don’t know what Iran plans to do with nuclear technology. We know they want nuclear weapons – nobody seriously believes that they are only using it for civilian purposes.

    The most probable guess is they just want to have enough power to ward off any attack by a hypothetical hostile Israel.

    I mean, really, I don’t want anyone to have nukes – I think Israel and Pakistan are dangerous enough, let alone the US or Iran.

  165. avianistheterm says

    Hypothetical hostile Israel!?

    Hostile towards Iran, I mean, not to the US.

  166. KG says

    The first thing to note is that there are two Muslim states with nuclear arsenals, Pakistan and Turkey – nevsayeed

    Turkey does not have nuclear weapons.

    Oh, there were results: it was counterproductive. The survivors were, like, totally pissed and actually ended up trying to believe the “now more than ever” and “to the last drop of blood” propaganda. This may have prolonged the war. – David Marjanović

    [citation needed]

    To anyone arguing that Allied bombing of civilian areas in Germany in WWII didn’t work, get hold of a copy of Adam Tooze The Wages of Destruction: The Making and Breaking of the Nazi Economy, look up “Ruhr: RAF bombing raids” in the index, and read the pages indicated. Steel and hence armaments production was considerably affected. As I’ve already said, whether this justifies the heavy civilian casualties is a separate matter from whether it worked, and not one I feel sure of either way.

  167. Matt Penfold says

    To anyone arguing that Allied bombing of civilian areas in Germany in WWII didn’t work, get hold of a copy of Adam Tooze The Wages of Destruction: The Making and Breaking of the Nazi Economy, look up “Ruhr: RAF bombing raids” in the index, and read the pages indicated. Steel and hence armaments production was considerably affected. As I’ve already said, whether this justifies the heavy civilian casualties is a separate matter from whether it worked, and not one I feel sure of either way.

    It was not only the direct damage to production but the necessity for the Germans to divert resources to air defence. Building fighters to defend the skies over Germany meant building fewer bombers, building anti-aircraft guns meant building fewer anti-tank guns and so on.

  168. nevsayeed says

    See, that sounds strange to me, because I was at his talk at the Global Atheist Convention and from what I gathered he didn’t seem to believe in life after death there

    Sam Harris did not ever retract his stated belief that scientists are wrong to think death marks the end of life because according to him consciousness is not generated by the brain and continues beyond the grave. Listen:

    “The idea that brains produce consciousness is little more than an article of faith among scientists at present, and there are many reasons to believe that the methods of science will be insufficient to either prove or disprove it.” (The End of Faith – 208)

    Taken with the passages I cited before about his rejection of “physicalism” and his belief there is evidence for reincarnation and xenoglossy (speaking in tongues), nothing short of an explicit repudiation if this quackery will suffice.

    As far as telepathy goes – I agree he’s probably giving cranks too much credit. Could there theoretically be evidence for telepathy? Yes. Is there? No, and as long as it stays that way (doesn’t negate actual scientific research!) it shouldn’t be seen as anything more than silly woo.

    There could be evidence for anything theoretically. Tooth fairies may exist theoretically and astrology may be right. It’s not a question of possibility, but probability, and there is no grounds at all for thinking telepathy is more likely than astrology. It’s anti-science bunk.

    That’s the only sense in which I agree with him there: we can’t catagorically dismiss telepathy as impossible, because theoretically there could be natural mechanisms in which it would work (though it still has absolutely no evidence and as far as we can tell there’s nothing in the brain to suggest telepathic transmissions – so it can still be dismissed based on current evidence, just not catagorically), whereas we can catagorically dismiss the Biblical explanation for our existence

    The paranormal has as much claim to scientific credibility as the Bible and reincarnation. Both are theoretically possible and both stand against everything we know about physics.

    Turkey does not have nuclear weapons.

    Turkey has loaned nuclear warheads from the United States as a member of NATO. It was a key reason for the Cuban Missile Crisis.

  169. KG says

    Turkey has loaned nuclear warheads from the United States as a member of NATO. – nevsayeed

    I’m well aware American nuclear weapons are stationed in Turkey; that doesn’t mean Turkey has nuclear weapons – unless you have evidence that the Turkish government (or armed forces) could make use of them without American consent. There are American nuclear weapons in Germany too, but that doesn’t mean Germany has nuclear weapons.

    Matt Penfold@191,

    Yes, Tooze makes that point also.

  170. nevsayeed says

    I’m well aware American nuclear weapons are stationed in Turkey; that doesn’t mean Turkey has nuclear weapons – unless you have evidence that the Turkish government (or armed forces) could make use of them without American consent. There are American nuclear weapons in Germany too, but that doesn’t mean Germany has nuclear weapons.

    A semantic game. Possession of nuclear arsenal is what is meant by the phrase “to have”. Britain cannot deploy its Trident nuclear missiles without American consent either because they are leased from America.

    All European powers with nukes stationed on their soil from Italy, Netherlands, Britain, Turkey and Germany must have the greenlight from Uncle Sam.

  171. Anri says

    Ing:

    Also oddly N Korea, which has nukes and a crazy theocracy where everyone IS expected to lay down their lives for the whim of the great leader, is often removed from this discussion.

    Well, of course it is.

    It requires thought – and possibly self-reflection – to examine that fact that North pants-on-head-crazy Korea has had the restraint to use nuclear weapons 100% fewer times than the USA.

    Thought and self-reflection are frighteningly well correlated with liberal policies.
    Can’t have that.

  172. KG says

    A semantic game. Possession of nuclear arsenal is what is meant by the phrase “to have”. Britain cannot deploy its Trident nuclear missiles without American consent either because they are leased from America. – nevsayeed

    It’s you who’s playing semantic games: Turkey does not have nuclear weapons in the sense that Pakistan does (nor does any continental European state except France). Turkey is not considered a nuclear weapons state under the NPT, to which it is a signatory.

    Britain is in an odd position. It is considered a nuclear weapons state under the NPT. Contrary to what you say, Britain’s nuclear weapons are not leased, and the UK government could “deploy” (by which I assume you mean use) its nuclear weapons without American consent – unless the UK government is simply lying about this, which is possible but for which there’s no evidence AFAIK. However, the missiles are bought from the USA and serviced there, and some warhead components are manufactured there, so it is certainly not an “independent nuclear deterrent” as British governments like to claim: if the US and British governments were to fall out, it would become non-operational in time, but it’s hard to estimate how long this would take. See here for a description of the current position.

  173. David Marjanović says

    Seriously, AFAIK Islam doesn’t even have a Millennial apocalyptic obsession like Christianity does…

    The Shiites kinda do, but Iran has lost the burning desire to die as a heap of martyrs.

    Oh, there were results: it was counterproductive. The survivors were, like, totally pissed and actually ended up trying to believe the “now more than ever” and “to the last drop of blood” propaganda. This may have prolonged the war.

    – David Marjanović

    [citation needed]

    I was only talking about demoralisation of the populace by the bombing of residential areas, not about the bombing of actual military/economic targets or the need to divert resources.

    I’ve never seen it doubted that the bombing of houses tended to make the survivors hate the bombers more than the Nazis. That’s why I’m not aware of written sources.

    It requires thought – and possibly self-reflection – to examine that fact that North pants-on-head-crazy Korea has had the restraint to use nuclear weapons 100% fewer times than the USA.

    The Kim dynasty is not crazy enough to risk non-mutually assured destruction. That’s very easy to understand. When the US used nukes, nobody else had any or was in any other way able to cause problems to the US.

  174. nevsayeed says

    It’s you who’s playing semantic games: Turkey does not have nuclear weapons in the sense that Pakistan does (nor does any continental European state except France). Turkey is not considered a nuclear weapons state under the NPT, to which it is a signatory.

    Israel is not a contracting party to the NPT nor is North Korea. There is no causal link between being a signatory to the NPT and nuclear arms.

    Britain is in an odd position. It is considered a nuclear weapons state under the NPT.

    It’s an odd position only if you make the unjustified assumption that you don’t have atomic weaponry unless you can deploy them with American assent or are a signatory to the NPT.

    Contrary to what you say, Britain’s nuclear weapons are not leased, and the UK government could “deploy” (by which I assume you mean use) its nuclear weapons without American consent – unless the UK government is simply lying about this, which is possible but for which there’s no evidence AFAIK.

    The British Guardian says:

    Our Trident missiles are currently leased from the US.

    As for deployment capability the Guardian has this to say:

    The missiles are aimed with the help of US satellites.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2010/mar/22/trident-nuclear-deterrence-uk-us

  175. phoenicianromans says

    And damn, weren’t we nice to Japan after nuking two of their cities and firebombing others? We let them have freedom and stuff.

    As shown by US moves when the post-war Italians looked like electing some Communists as part of their parliamentary government, you only let people have the right kind of freedom and stuff if you can help it.

    And if a few nuns end up raped and dead in ditches, such as in Central America, well, that’s the way the communion wafer crumbles.

  176. phoenicianromans says

    The problem is we really don’t know what Iran plans to do with nuclear technology. We know they want nuclear weapons – nobody seriously believes that they are only using it for civilian purposes.

    The most probable guess is they just want to have enough power to ward off any attack by a hypothetical hostile Israel.

    Pardon me, but I point out that a superpower with the world’s largest army and largest nuke collection has invaded Iran’s neighbour to the east and its neighbour to the west, regularly makes threats towards it, and has explicitly discussed bombing and invading it at times.

    Indeed, the US military itself has stated that the greatest “threat” from an Iranian nuclear weapon is NOT that the Iranians would use it preemptively on Israel – it is that the existence of such a nuke would “constrain America’s freedom of action in the area”.

    Which to many of us seems like a good idea.

  177. sundiver says

    Phoenicianromans, one thing I’ve been harping on about Iranian nuclear ambitions is the bare fact that America invaded Afghanistan and Iraq, two countries without a nuclear arsenal, and left North Korea alone, which does have an atom bomb or two. I think the Iranian leadership has sufficient adjacent brain cells to see this. Of course, there aint no oil in Korea either, but still. I’ve no love for the theocracy in Iran but they aint that goddamn different from any other bunch of humans and must figure if they can pack a nuclear sting, we may think twice about fucking with them. And I wholeheartedly agree that’s one fucking good idea.

  178. truthspeaker says

    cybercmdr
    11 May 2012 at 4:26 pm

    PZ,
    You are right. Many people in the military are not atheists and humanists. This is true of almost any subgroup you may want to point to in America, if the grouping is based on profession.

    Having spent my adult life working in the military, I know that in general people in the DoD tend to be on the conservative side. And some are real assholes. But I also know a lot of dedicated, conscientious people who would react just as negatively to what LTC Dooley proposed as anyone here on Pharyngula.

    Please don’t stereotype us based on our profession.

    Nobody did.

    You know what sucks even more than knee-jerk criticism of everyone in the military? Knee-jerk reactions to criticisms of specific people in leadership positions. Criticizing a few officers, or the crooks in Washington who set military policy, is not a criticism of everyone in the military. Treating it as such makes you look like you’re trying to deflect criticism away from the people who deserve it.

  179. truthspeaker says

    cpa425
    11 May 2012 at 5:36 pm

    War can only be one by the greater application of force than the enemies. I would expect nothing less from a Colonel in the US Army trying to cultivate the idea of actually winning a war.

    I would expect a colonel in the US Army to have accurate information about who our enemy is and what motivates them, and if he were in a teaching position, I would expect him to convey accurate information to his students.

    Hence the fail here. He wrongly identifies all Muslims as the enemy, and is wrong about what Muslim beliefs are. He taught his students things that were wrong, things that would lead to bad decisions in battlefields and command centers. Bad decisions don’t win wars.