NOTE: Words of Power is published on a bi-weekly basis, and alternates with the GS(3) Intelligence Briefing, also posted on a bi-weekly basis. As circumstances dictate, we may post special editions. "Words of Power" commentary will explore a range of issues in the interdependent realms of security, sustainability and spirit. The GS(3) Intel Briefing is organized into five sections: Europe, Middle East and Africa, Asia Pacific, Americas, Global and Cyberspace. Each issue will provide insight on terrorism, cyber crime, climate change, health emergencies, natural disasters and other threats, as well as recommendations on what actions your organizations should take to mitigate risks. For more information, go to www.wordsofpower.net.
Words of Power #4: Toward a Post-Bush Vision of Global Security
"I was a scientist before I was a politician. And as a scientist I know you need facts, evidence and proof - and then you check, recheck and check again...The fact was that there were no facts, there was no evidence, and there was no proof. As a politician the most serious decision you can take is to commit your armed services to war from which they may not return." (Baroness Margaret Thatcher, former British Prime Minister, speaking out on the Iraq War, Independent/UK, 10-14-05)
"Sixty years ago, Arnold Toynbee concluded, in his monumental 'Study of History,' that the ultimate cause of imperial collapse was 'suicidal statecraft.' Sadly for President George W. Bush's place in history but - much more important - ominously for America's future, it has lately seemed as if that adroit phrase might be applicable to the policies pursued by the United States since the cataclysm of 9/11. (Zbigniew Brzezinski, former national security adviser to US President Jimmy Carter, speaking out on the Bush Doctrine in general and Iraq in particular, International Herald Tribune, 10-13-05)
You don't have to read animal entrails or tea leaves to get a glimpse into the future, and thereby gain an advantage on its challenges. You simply have to open your mind and look deeply into the present. Of course, to look deeply into the present, you must understand that everyone and everything, everywhere, is interconnected-it is a natural law that flows from divine truth. Looking, you will see that the world situation is careening from bad to worse. There was no way that the creation of a “new world order,” and there is need of one, was going to be easy. But it has certainly been made much more dangerous than it should have been, not because of 9/11, that threat already existed, but because of bad decisions made by a few foolish individuals, with great power. Sooner or later, however, through one Constitutional means (i.e, the two term limit) or another (i.e., impeachment), the Bush administration will come to an end, and the U.S. will choose new political leadership. Someone has to pick up the pieces. It is imperative that security and intelligence professionals from across the ideological spectrum begin to articulate a post-Bush vision of global security. (Yes, global security. Put aside the term "national security." There is no "national security" without global security.)
What should our post-Bush vision of global security encompass?
Here are some insights on three grave but largely unacknowledged threats that must be dealt with and four recommendations on where to start in lessening their impact.
Beacon of US Temporarily Hidden Under a Bushel
One of the greatest threats to global security is the precipitous fall of US prestige, and the reasons behind it. The US is still the world's greatest economic and military power. But unless the US stands for the Good, in a real, meaningful and consistent way, and, just as importantly, is recognized as standing for the Good, it will not be so powerful in a few short years.
America's image is still so tattered abroad after the Iraq war that China is viewed more favorably than the US in many countries, a global poll finds. Its image has not recovered in Western European countries, the US-based Pew Research Center found. In none of the 16 countries surveyed, the US included, does a majority of the public think the war leading to Saddam Hussein's removal made the world safer. (BBC, 6-23-05)
More than half of people surveyed in a BBC World Service poll say the re-election of US President George W Bush has made the world more dangerous...The survey found that 47% of the 21,953 people questioned now see US influence in the world as largely negative, and view Americans negatively as well. (BBC, 1-19-05)
What destroyed the prestige of the US?
Certainly the invasion and occupation of Iraq, and the decision to resort to the torture and abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib, in particular, are paramount. It is as if Osama Bin Laden had written the script himself.
Consider the remarks of British playwright Harold Pinter, winner of the 2005 Nobel Prize for Literature, concerning the invasion and occupation of Iraq.
"A bandit act, an act of blatant state terrorism, demonstrating absolute contempt for the concept of International Law," and "an arbitrary military action inspired by a series of lies upon lies and gross manipulation of the media and therefore of the public. An act intended to consolidate American military and economic control of the Middle East masquerading - as a last resort (all other justifications having failed to justify themselves) - as liberation...We have brought torture, cluster bombs, depleted uranium, innumerable acts of random murder, misery and degradation to the Iraqi people and call it " bringing freedom and democracy to the Middle East". But, as we all know, we have not been welcomed with the predicted flowers. What we have unleashed is a ferocious and unremitting resistance, mayhem and chaos." (Independent, 10-14-05)
But the Bush administration's rejection of the Kyoto accords and its refusal (even now) to acknowledge the reality of global warming or come to grips with its dire consequences has also been profoundly damaging to U.S. prestige throughout the world.
The world has now already lost several crucial years it could not afford to lose.
Consider this San Francisco Chronicle story from 2002.
From the tropics to the poles, evidence is growing stronger than ever that Earth's climate is warming dangerously. In the Arctic Ocean, floating masses of sea ice are shrinking and splitting apart, and the massive Greenland ice cap melted more this past summer than ever before...Coral reefs are living creatures. As they die, their calcite skeletons build up the reefs over millions of years. They are a crucial part of the world's marine ecosystems, vital to the productivity of many tropical fisheries..."There is growing agreement that doubling of the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere means a 15 percent decline in the coral population," said Robert W. Buddemeier, a senior chemist with the Kansas Geological Survey, who has studied the impact of climate change on coral reefs. "By the end of the century, with the effects of increasing levels of carbon dioxide on temperature and on ocean chemistry, the corals will be in the worst shape we've seen in the past 50 million years. Things are really dicey," he added...Global warming will cause "major political instabilities in the developing world that could disrupt the global economy," said Lester R. Brown, founder of the Earth Policy Institute and a noted environmental analyst who spent 10 years as a policy adviser in the Department of Agriculture. If measures aren't taken soon to curb greenhouse gas emissions, the changes in climate will force rapid changes in the way the world's food crops are grown. That has important implications for feeding the world's growing population, expected to increase to at least 9 billion by 2050. "The vast corn belt of the Northern Hemisphere, for example, will become hotter and dryer, and that change can't be resolved merely by creating new corn belts further north, because the soils further north are not the same at all," Brown said. "Each global increase of 1 degree Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit) around the world will reduce grain yields like rice and wheat, as well as corn, by at least 10 percent," he said. And because aquifers are being tapped at an increasing pace throughout the world and water tables are falling, the outcome will soon mean a devastating blow to agriculture -- particularly in the developing world, he said. "This disruption by a combination of climate change and water shortages has the potential for creating political instabilities on a scale that we can't even foresee," Brown declared.
(San Francisco Chronicle, 12-23-02)
James E. Hansen, a NASA scientist spoke out bravely about the Bush administration’s policy of denial and delay on Global Warming.
"The Bush administration is trying to stifle scientific evidence of the dangers of global warming in an effort to keep the public uninformed, a NASA scientist said. "In my more than three decades in government, I have never seen anything approaching the degree to which information flow from scientists to the public has been screened and controlled as it is now," James E. Hansen told a University of Iowa audience. Hansen is director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York and has twice briefed a task force headed by Vice President Dick Cheney on global warming. Hansen said the administration wants to hear only scientific results that "fit predetermined, inflexible positions." Evidence that would raise concerns about the dangers of climate change is often dismissed as not being of sufficient interest to the public. "This, I believe, is a recipe for environmental disaster." Hansen said the scientific community generally agrees that temperatures on Earth are rising because of the greenhouse effect - emissions of carbon dioxide and other materials into the atmosphere that trap heat. These rising temperatures, scientists believe, could cause sea levels to rise and trigger severe environmental consequences, he said. Hansen said such warnings are consistently suppressed, while studies that cast doubt on such interpretations receive favorable treatment from the administration. He also said reports that outline potential dangers of global warming are edited to make the problem appear less serious. "This process is in direct opposition to the most fundamental precepts of science," he said. White House science adviser John H. Marburger III has denied charges that the administration refuses to accept the reality of climate change, noting that President Bush pointed out in a 2001 speech that greenhouse gases have increased substantially in the past 200 years. Last December, the administration said it was planning a five-year program to research global warming and climate change. Hansen said he was speaking as a private citizen, not as a government employee, and paid his own way for the Iowa appearance. (Associated Press, 10-27-04)
Torquemada vs. Osama
The rejection of science, not only to appease corporatist views, but also to appease religious extremism is another one of the great threats that we confront as a species.
As Pinter, the Nobel laureate, observes: "The 'free world' we are told, as embodied in the United States and Great Britain, is different to the rest of the world since our actions are dictated and sanctioned by a moral authority and a moral passion condoned by someone called God. Some people may find this difficult to comprehend but Osama Bin Laden finds it easy."
In the US, religious extremists and the political leaders who pander to them threaten our global scientific heritage, by positing "intelligent design" as co-equal with evolution in school curriculums, and by restricting US federal funding of stem cell research.
In the US and the Arab world, religious extremists threaten our global spiritual heritage, which is enriched and deepened by numerous strong traditions, from the Shamanic to the Buddhist, that do not share their narrow view of the universe.
In March 2001, the Taliban blew up the Bamiyan Buddhas, despite an international outcry, and two visits by UN special envoy Pierre LaFrance in an attempt to save them. Carved into sandstone on the sides of a mountain somewhere between the second and fifth centuries A.D., the two statues, which stood 50 meters (165 feet) and 34.5 meters tall respectively, had been counted among the great archeological treasures of the world. India and Pakistan led global condemnation of the Taliban's destruction of two ancient statues. Taliban Supreme Leader Mulla Mohammad Omar said his decree ordering their destruction was in line with a fatwa from local Islamic clerics designed to prevent the worshipping of "false idols." Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee described the demolition of the Buddhas in central Bamiyan province as "an act of barbarism." Pakistan Foreign Minister Abdul Sattar Pakistan's Foreign Minister Abdul Sattar, who has accused the international community of doing too little, said it was "a tragic disaster." Even a delegation of senior Muslim scholars from the 55-nation Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) had been unable to dent the Taliban's resolve to annihilate the country's pre-Islamic heritage...(Agence France Press, 3-2-01/Reuters, 3-12-01)
Meanwhile, in August 2000, in the American Midwest, called by some the "heartland," religious extremists launched an attack on our global scientific heritage.
"The Kansas Board of Education decided in August to impose upon the rest of us in the state its doubts about evolution, its aversion to scientific explanations for the origins of the universe, and its disbelief in geological evidence for the age of the earth...The board declined to include evolution in its optional teaching standards for public schools in the state, and decided that students need not be tested on the subject...In 1998, the state Board of Education appointed a blue-ribbon committee of 27 scientists, educators, and other citizens to prepare standards to guide the teaching of science in the state's public schools. The committee created a 100-page draft document, using standards prepared by the National Academy of Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the National Science Teachers Association, and other reputable scientific groups...Steve Abrams - a veterinarian from Arkansas City and a member and immediate past chairman of the board - read the committee's proposed standards for science education and found them objectionable. He took it upon himself to rewrite the standards, enlisting the assistance of a Missouri group called the Creation Science Association for Mid-America. Abrams not only wanted to rid the standards of evolution; he also wanted to relegate all science to the status of unproven "theory." His version stated: "Since science today is defined as empirical, and therefore inductive, no one can rationally claim that any scientific theory has been certified to be true." Under that assumption, even the laws of gravity failed to qualify as scientific fact...The Abrams standards created great consternation among the board and the public...Abrams and two other members of the board then prepared another draft...That draft eliminated evolution, as normally defined by biologists; any references to the big-bang theory of the origin of the universe; and all references to the earth's being billions of years old. The three board members even removed almost all mentions of famous scientists and scientific achievements of the past...The most disturbing part of the board's debate on all of the versions was the clear suggestion from the majority of the board that one could not believe in both God and evolution - or, for that matter, in both God and science..." (Robert E. Hemenway, Chancellor, University of Kansas, 8-21-00)
And this religious extremism as been endorsed and encouraged by George W. Bush, who, as recently as this summer, said he believes schools should discuss "intelligent design" alongside evolution when teaching students about the creation of life. (Associated Press, 8-2-05)
Religious extremism not only threaten science and spirituality, it also threatens security.
Consider the strange tale of General Boykin.
"After it was revealed that the deputy undersecretary of defense for intelligence had been regularly appearing at evangelical revivals preaching that the US was in a holy war as a "Christian nation" battling "Satan", the furore was quickly calmed...Boykin was not removed or transferred. At that moment, he was at the heart of a secret operation to "Gitmo-ize" (Guant‡namo is known in the US as Gitmo) the Abu Ghraib prison. He had flown to Guant‡namo, where he met Major General Geoffrey Miller, in charge of Camp X-Ray. Boykin ordered Miller to fly to Iraq and extend X-Ray methods to the prison system there, on Rumsfeld's orders...Boykin was the action hero side of his boss, Stephen Cambone, a conservative defense intellectual appointed to the new post of undersecretary of intelligence. Cambone is universally despised by the officer corps for his arrogant, abrasive and dictatorial style and regarded as the personal symbol of Rumsfeldism...Cambone set about cutting the CIA and the state department out of the war on terror, but he had no knowledge of special ops. For this the rarefied civilian relied on the gruff soldier - a melding of "ignorance and recklessness," as a military intelligence source told me. Just before Boykin was put in charge of the hunt for Osama bin Laden and then inserted into Iraqi prison reform, he was a circuit rider for the religious right. He allied himself with a small group called the Faith Force Multiplier that advocates applying military principles to evangelism. Its manifesto - Warrior Message - summons "warriors in this spiritual war for souls of this nation and the world ... " Boykin staged a traveling slide show around the country where he displayed pictures of Bin Laden and Saddam Hussein. "Satan wants to destroy this nation, he wants to destroy us as a nation, and he wants to destroy us as a Christian army," he preached. They "will only be defeated if we come against them in the name of Jesus". It was the reporting of his remarks at a revival meeting in Oregon that made them a subject of brief controversy...With the Geneva conventions apparently suspended, international law is supplanted by biblical law. Boykin is in God's chain of command. President Bush, he told an Oregon congregation last June, is "a man who prays in the Oval Office." And the president, too, is on a divine mission. "George Bush was not elected by a majority of the voters in the US. He was appointed by God." (Sidney Blumenthal, Guardian, 5-20-05)
It is bad enough to blunder into war based on corporatism and religious extremism, justifying it to yourself as a “war on terrorism,” but it is even worse to let religious extremism blind you to the real enemy. The real enemy is not “Satan,” as General Boykin believes. The real enemy is ignorance.
"Two years ago, the UN-commissioned Arab Human Development Report for 2003 asserted that the U.S.-led war on terror had radicalized more Arabs angry both with the West and their autocratic rulers who are bent on curbing their political rights...The U.N. report that focused on addressing challenges of modernity illustrated how far the 270 million Arabs lagged behind other regions in 'acquisition of knowledge' The report said even a best selling novel sold on average only 5,000 copies compared to hundreds of thousands elsewhere...The number of books published in the Arab world did not exceed 1.1 percent of world production though Arabs constitute 5 percent of the world population...Arab universities were overcrowded with old laboratories and poor libraries...No more than 10,000 books were translated into Arabic over the entire millennium, equivalent to the number translated every year into Spanish...Fewer than one in 20 Arab university students were pursuing scientific disciplines, compared to one in five in South Korea...The number of telephone lines in Arab countries was barely one fifth of that in developed countries...Only 1.6 percent of over 270 million Arabs have internet access, one of the lowest ratios in the world, the report said." (Reuters, 10-2-03)
Global warming is only one head of a two-headed monster. The other head is the “End of Oil.” That’s correct. We are spending our last years of peak oil production changing the climate in sweeping and destructive ways, and on the other side of it we have the destabilizing impact of a profound and steep decline in oil production to look forward.
What does it all mean? Does it mean war with Iran in the next few months? Does it mean war with China in the next few years? It is already the central geopolitical issue—although no one will admit it in the corridors of power.
Consider this recent Guardian story on Colin Campbell.
"The one thing that international bankers don't want to hear is that the second Great Depression may be round the corner. But last week, a group of ultra-conservative Swiss financiers asked a retired English petroleum geologist living in Ireland to tell them about the beginning of the end of the oil age. They called Colin Campbell, who helped to found the London-based Oil Depletion Analysis Centre because he is an industry man through and through, has no financial agenda and has spent most of a lifetime on the front line of oil exploration on three continents. He was chief geologist for Amoco, a vice-president of Fina, and has worked for BP, Texaco, Shell, ChevronTexaco and Exxon in a dozen different countries. "Don't worry about oil running out; it won't for very many years," the Oxford PhD told the bankers..."The issue is the long downward slope that opens on the other side of peak production. Oil and gas dominate our lives, and their decline will change the world in radical and unpredictable ways," he says. Campbell reckons global peak production of conventional oil - the kind associated with gushing oil wells - is approaching fast, perhaps even next year. His calculations are based on historical and present production data, published reserves and discoveries of companies and governments, estimates of reserves lodged with the US Securities and Exchange Commission, speeches by oil chiefs and a deep knowledge of how the industry works. "About 944bn barrels of oil has so far been extracted, some 764bn remains extractable in known fields, or reserves, and a further 142bn of reserves are classed as 'yet-to-find', meaning what oil is expected to be discovered. If this is so, then the overall oil peak arrives next year," he says. If he is correct, then global oil production can be expected to decline steadily at about 2-3% a year, the cost of everything from travel, heating, agriculture, trade, and anything made of plastic rises. And the scramble to control oil resources intensifies...But the Campbell analysis is way off the much more optimistic official figures. The US Geological Survey (USGS) states that reserves in 2000 (its latest figures) of recoverable oil were about three trillion barrels and that peak production will not come for about 30 years. The International Energy Agency (IEA) believes that oil will peak between "2013 and 2037" and Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iraq and Iran, four countries with much of the world's known reserves, report little if any depletion of reserves. Meanwhile, the oil companies - which do not make public estimates of their own "peak oil" - say there is no shortage of oil and gas for the long term...According to Campbell, companies seldom report their true findings for commercial reasons, and governments - which own 90% of the reserves - often lie. Most official figures, he says, are grossly unreliable: "Estimating reserves is a scientific business. There is a range of uncertainty but it is not impossible to get a good idea of what a field contains. Reporting [reserves], however, is a political act." According to Campbell and other oil industry sources, the two most widely used estimates of world oil reserves, drawn up by the Oil and Gas Journal and the BP Statistical Review, both rely on reserve estimates provided to them by governments and industry and do not question their accuracy. Companies, says Campbell, "under-report their new discoveries to comply with strict US stock exchange rules, but then revise them upwards over time", partly to boost their share prices with "good news" results...Most serious of all, he and other oil depletion analysts and petroleum geologists, most of whom have been in the industry for years, accuse the US of using questionable statistical probability models to calculate global reserves and Opec countries of drastically revising upwards their reserves in the 1980s."
But there is hope. Here is a story of indefatigable human enterprise and indomitable human spirit—not from Houston or Detroit, but from Brazil.
”Alcohol made from sugar cane is becoming the fuel of choice in Brazil, and other countries - so much so that global sugar prices hit a seven-year high this week. Regular car engines will run fine on a 10 percent blend of alcohol and gasoline. But by using computer sensors that adjust to whatever mix is in the tank, flex car engines run on either ethanol, gasoline, or any combination of the two. And they have been roaring out of dealerships here since Volkswagen sold the first TotalFlex Golf in March 2003.
"Today, flex cars are outselling traditional gasoline models. In August, 62 percent of new cars sold were flex, according to industry numbers. "Demand has been unbelievable," says Barry Engle, the new president of Ford Brasil. "I am hard-pressed to think of any other technology that has been such a success so quickly." As many countries reexamine their dependence on petroleum fields for fuel, Brazil offers a model for how to make the switch to cane, beet, wheat, or corn fields. The successful transition here comes down to many factors, but price is the primary one, experts say.
Unlike hybrids sold in the US, for example, flex cars sold in Brazil don't cost any more than traditional models. In fact, some models are only available with flex engines now. Ethanol engines use 25 percent more ethanol per mile than gasoline. But ethanol (the alcohol produced by fermenting sugar) usually sells at somewhere between a third to half of the price of gas. Even people who were reluctant to take the plunge and buy a flex say they have been won over by the savings.
Christian Science Monitor, 10-7-05)"
Restore the Pillars of the Temple
There is so much to do vis-à-vis national and global security—particularly in the fields of Homeland Security, Cyber Security and especially limiting and controlling weapons of mass destruction. But here are four central issues that must be acted on as soon as regime change comes to the US. Yes, our four recommendations are sadly remedial. Most of it is work that had already been started, and has to be re-done or jump-started.
* Millennium Goals: The US must commit to achieving the Millennium Goals domestically and participating in a global effort to achieve them on a planetary level. That would be a real war on the root causes of "terrorism," and won that can be won.
* International law and treaties: The US must restore and re-affirm its commitment to binding and vital treaties and bodies of international law that it has already vowed to uphold, e.g., the Geneva Accords and the UN Charter, and also move forward to sign on to newer accords and agreements, e.g. the International World Court and the Convention for Children’s Rights.
* Global Warming: The US must ratify the Kyoto Accords, and go beyond it, to lead the world, by example, as it reorients its economic and industrial base toward sustainability.
* Multilateralism: Restore and reaffirm the Western Alliance, politically and militarily, i.e., NATO, etc., and reach out to new formations such as Mercosur in Latin America, and others, to establish common ground.
Richard Power is the founder of GS(3) Intelligence and www.wordsofpower.net. His work focuses on the inter-related issues of security, sustainability and spirit, and how to overcome the challenges of terrorism, cyber crime, global warming, health emergencies, natural disasters, etc. You can reach him via e-mail: email@example.com. For more information, go to www.wordsofpower.net.