Archive for the 'Military/War Rants' Category

With Regards To Bergdahl’s Release – Updated x2

June 5, 2014

Updates below.

Below is my response to this diary:

For me refusing to participate in the carnage that is Afghanistan takes more courage than going along with it. Our soldiers have committed plenty of their own crimes against the people there. It is no secret that our own have often treated the Afghan people like shit. It seems from what I have read this is what drove this young man to want to walk away from it all.

I am waiting to hear what he has to say, if he ever gets to tell his side of the story. I know it bugs the hell out of a lot of my fellow vets that Bergdahl left his position (I will hold off on calling it desertion until he is prosecuted for such). My question is, is there really any honor in staying if your fellow soldiers are abusing the very people they are supposedly there to help? Are all those that served in Afghanistan, or Iraq for that matter, heroes by default?

Do not misunderstand me, I am not calling this man a hero. But I do think that there is a certain sanity in walking away from something that you can no longer consciously participate in, even if doing so will be quite unpopular, to the point that you may forever loose your own freedom.

As everything at this point is speculation, I will withhold my final judgement of him until I know more. And I will not forget that mine is but one opinion amongst many. Even what I have written here and elsewhere is based more on emotion and my own speculation than any real facts. What I will not do is parrot right-wing talking points, nor will I call for his head out of some archaic sense of honor.

If anything good were to come from this, I would wish that we as a nation would finally take stock of the past 13 years and finally come to terms with our own guilt. A guilt that comes from sending our men and women off to foreign lands to fight wars that have no ultimate objective, no way to ‘claim victory’ at the end of the day. A guilt that is drenched in the blood of countless faceless peoples who never posed a real threat to our lands. A small band of lunatics attacked us on a fateful day 13 years ago. What happened afterwards will be looked back on as insanity.

Update – I want to share this reply to my above comment:

A good insight into the war as a whole!

“I know it bugs the hell out of a lot of my fellow vets that Bergdahl left his position”

I am sure you can understand this, even if you don’t agree with it.

And that point is why many vets who are progressives feel the way they do. People trying to paint it as listening to the RWNJs just don’t understand. The lack of dependability of a fellow soldier in your unit in a combat zone is what bothers vets. In the field you only have each other, and abandoning your unit in a combat zone is just plain reprehensible. If he felt like he could no longer serve, he should have went through proper channels and gotten discharged or sent to another unit.

and my response:

I can understand that position.

We band together out of a sense of camaraderie. What else can we do in that situation? Thrust into combat, lives on the line, our strength, our very survival, is dependent on those around us, just as their survival is dependent on us. We must move as a unit. Live as a unit.

I can also see the ultimate folly of war, especially this one. And I can say with certainty that I would rather a person walk away if they are not of the mindset spoken of above than have them by my side. If this was his reason, if he was disillusioned and no longer capable of carrying out his mission, then he was a danger to those around him. Let us speculate for a minute that this is indeed the case, and that he honestly thought he could make it out of the country on his own. If so he is guilty of being a fool, of being far too sure of his own abilities and skill.

Should he instead have gone to his chain of command? Perhaps, though I doubt it would have done any good. His complaints would most likely have fallen on deaf ears. Or worse it would have caused him to be thrust deeper into the very travesty he wished to escape from. Those in command can be fickle that way.

So yes, I can understand your point. At the end of the day his worst mistake was signing up at all. For if he was not prepared to stay, to participate, and to die with his unit regardless of his own personal feelings, then he had no business being there in the first place. Such is the mindless nature of the military.

I do have to wonder if the vets that are appalled by this man’s actions are equally ready to cast disdain upon their fellow soldiers who committed the countless crimes against the Afghan and Iraqi peoples which we as a nation seem to collectively refuse to acknowledge.

Update 2 – Another aspect to this I feel needs included here (As I have been in several conversations on this topic today, below is another comment I made in a different diary on the subject of whether those traded for Bergdahl are terrorists or enemy fighters. I think this is an important distinction):

So I guess we should just start parroting the right-wing talking points many of us here have spent countless hours pushing back against. The Taliban was A-OK with our government and corporate masters back in 1999. They only became the enemy when they refused to give up bin-Laden. Were they shit bags before that? Hell yes. But when the US wanted a pipeline deal their evil was ‘not so bad’ to get in the way.

It has driven me nuts how the word terrorist has been abused in this country. Everyone suddenly became one (it has been hurled at those of us on this site too). Most people in Afghanistan didn’t even know about 9/11 until we showed up guns a-blazing. A lot of the people we have been fighting were ‘radicalized’ by our invasion. But they all get called terrorists.

Let’s not confuse the issue here. The war is winding down, we did a prisoner swap. If the American public is still too damn stupid to understand what happened over the past 13 years then yes we have a problem. But let’s not aid the Right in their spin.

Juan Cole at Informed Comment sums it up:

Obama clearly saw this prisoner swap in the light of the imminent end of hostilities in Afghanistan, as an early implementation of steps that would have to be taken swiftly in 2017 anyway, to meet US treaty obligations under international law. Those politicians demanding that officials of the former Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan remain in Guantanamo forever with no charges filed against them and after hostilities have ceased are asking for a Star Chamber, for something that is un-American and which is illegal in US law.

I want to also point out that there has been a considerable amount of flip flopping on the Right. Countless people on that side of the spectrum have been spending their time and energy backtracking on their previous calls to bring Bergdahl home. Many are even now scrubbing their websites, Twitter feeds and the like of any past support for his rescue from the Taliban. We are seeing a deliberate whitewash in action.

One last note. I highly recommend reading this piece:

Dead or alive, we get our people home, whatever the cost, that’s the one promise that must never be broken.

The day we forget that, the day the fear of “what will the terrorists think” becomes more important to us than that sacred obligation, that’s the day America dies.

Whether or not Bowe Bergdahl is a hero or a deserter or just a hapless fool who screwed up under the enormous pressures of war, he’s still an American.


A moment of silence please….

May 26, 2014

This year marks the 19th anniversary of the death of an American hero.

And because archives only go back so far, I am going to type all of this out in it’s entirety.

First, an example of the information we get from the government about accidents in the military, from the Fort Worth Star Telegram:

Jet pilot killed in training mission

(date not on newspaper clipping)

FORT BLISS-A military jet crashed during a training mission yesterday in rugged Texas terrain on the northern edge of Fort Bliss. The pilot was killed. Ground troops saw the twin-engine, single-seat A-10 Thunderbolt II, an anti-tank plane nicknamed the Warthog, disappear behind a hill just before the start of a joint Army-Air Force training exercise, Fort Bliss officials said. Cause of the crash was not immediately known. The pilot’s name was being with-held until relatives could be notified.

But the truth sometimes rears it’s ugly head:

Military pilot killed in NM crash saved others, witness says

Associated Press (via The Dallas Morning News)

FORT BLISS, Texas-An Air National Guard major may have saved about 100 lives by staying with his plane instead of ejecting before it crashed last week in New Mexico, a witness said.

Maj. Clarence Marsh III of Park city, Utah, died Friday morning in the crash of an A-10 Thunderbolt II.

“If he had ejected, he would have taken out the whole bank (of soldiers),” said Spec Paul Foster of Fort Sill, Okla., part of a Howitzer battery training at Fort Bliss’ McGregor Range when the crash occured about 30 miles north of El Paso.

Maj. Marsh’s plane, flying with an Air National Guard unit from Battle Creek, Mich., slammed into a sand dune Friday morning.

“He came in from the east and banked to the left,” Spec. Foster said. “He came in real low over our firing point. I mean real low. If he had been any lower, he would have taken out the tubes of our guns.”

When Spec. Foster first saw the plane, he said, it was nose down and heading straight at his group of 85 to 100 soldiers. At the last second, the pilot nudged the nose upward and skimmed over the soldiers’ heads, he said.

Spec. Foster said it looked as if the pilot was trying to make it to a nearby road for an emergency landing.

“The landing gear was down, and the canopy was still on. There was a 500-pound bomb underneath,” he said.

Maj. Marsh didn’t make it to the road.

“He hit the ground about 150 meters away from me, slid for about 50 meters, impacted into a sand dune, jumped a little, then the tail hit the sand dune, and the plane exploded,” Spec. Foster said.

The soldier said he’s thankful that Maj. Marsh stayed with the plane and was able to miss the soldiers.

“There would have been a whole lot of casualties if he had ejected,” he said.

The 41-year-old officer had served in the Air Force from 1977 to 1987 and had been a member of the Air National Guard since 1998. He also was a pilot for Delta Airlines.

Air Force investigators haven’t determined the cause of the crash. Maj. Marsh and Spec. Foster were taking part in a joint Army-Air Force exercise.

Spec. Foster said members of his unit, the C Battery, 3-18th Field Artillery, are taking up a collection to send flowers to Maj. Marsh’s widow, Anne, and their three children, ages 9, 6 and 4.

Maj. Marsh’s father, also named Clarence Marsh, said he was not surprised by his son’s decision to stay with the plane.

“When there is impending disaster, pilots are trained to try to avoid ground troops. He would have tried to do that,” said Mr. Marsh, a retired Army colonel reached at his home in Hampton, Va., by the El Paso Times.

I have included both articles for a reason. The first was the official statement put out by the military. The second led to the discharge of a career soldier.

We came out of the field 3 days after the crash. Like everyone else, Foster called home. His fiancee had heard nothing of the crash, so Foster decided to call the local press and tell them of the heroic sacrifice Maj. Marsh had made. The story made the local radio, and Foster left (got kicked out of) the Army soon afterwards. He had served in Germany during the Cold War and Iraq during Desert Storm. He had been phased out in 1992 and had come back in 2 years later. And he got shit canned for telling the story of a hero.

Well, I was there, and Maj. Marsh’s sacrifice saved my life. And today of all days I say thank you to him for his sacrifice, for his bravery.

I remember it in snap shots of time. I was sitting on a water jug leaning against the FDC (Fire Direction Control) vehicle, smoking a cig, enjoying a couple of minutes of down time. We had just refueled and reloaded. and were watching the A-10′s flying missions over our heads. We were to join the exercise again soon, and everyone was getting some sleep, bathing, or just relaxing.

I remember someone yelling “Look!” and I turned my head to the left and say the under side of the A-10 as it banked hard to the right literally right in front of me, its wingtip not more than a couple of meters above the ground.

I just sat there, eyes glued to the impending tragedy before me, as the plane barely leveled out before it’s tail hit a sand dune. The tail ripped off and the plane began to bounce nose to tail across the desert.

The FDC vehicle I was next to was the closest vehicle to the crash, and we had the medic stationed at our vehicle. I remember him jumping out of the vehicle, throwing one soldier a water jug and me a fire extinguisher as he ran towards the wreckage.

I followed him into the thick black smoke. It was awful. The fumes choked me, and then the anti-tank rounds from the Gatling gun began to burn off. I dove to the ground, waited a minute and then got up and ran after, well, just ran into the smoke.

I came out on the other side to find the medic trying to put a fire out around a burning cactis. I ran over with the fire extinguisher and began discharging it. Then I realized why the medic was working so hard to put this particular fire out: because the pilot’s body was burning there too.

The rest of the day is a blur. We secured the area, then loaded up our gear and moved down the road. Chaplins came out of nowhere, we were “debriefed”, and then we spent the next couple of days waiting for an opening so we could roll back in. End of exercise.

I would count myself blessed if this were the only death I had witnessed in the Army, but it wasn’t. And to think I never saw combat.

Clarence Marsh III is buried in Arlington National Cemetery:

Clarence Talmage Marsh III
Major, United States Air Force Virginia State Flag
BATTLE CREEK ANGB, Michigan (Air Force News Service) — A pilot assigned to this base was killed in the crash of an A-10 jet fighter in New Mexico, north of Fort Bliss, Texas, May 19, 1995.

The pilot, Major Clarence T. Marsh III, 41, of Park City, Utah, was an Air National Guard member of the 172nd Fighter Squadron, the base’s flying unit.

Marsh, a 1977 graduate of the United States Air Force Academy, was a command pilot assigned as an assistant flight commander for the squadron. He was employed full-time by Delta Airlines.

He is survived by his wife and three children at home, and parents in Hampton, Virginia.

The accident is under investigation by a board of Air Force officers.

Major Marsh was buried with full military honors in Arlington National Cemetery on 25 May 1995 after having been provided with a waiver for such burial.

The waiver was supported and proposed by Rep. Randy Cunningham (R-Calif.) and Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), John McCain (R-Ariz.), Dan Coats (R-Ind.) and Robert Bennett (R-Utah): Deceased was Clarence Marsh, active duty 1978-87, killed while training with Air National Guard. Major Clarence T. Marsh, U.S. Air National Guard, was flying as part of an Army exercise over White Sands Missile Range when his plane crashed. According to reports of the incident, he remained with the plane as it crashed to prevent it from crashing into the approximately 100 soldiers on the ground, thus saving their lives at the expense of his own.
NOTE: His father, Clarence T. Marsh, Jr., Colonel, United States Army, died in May 2001 and was also laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery.

He died so that fellow soldiers could live. Clarence Marsh III is a hero.

Please remember everyday that there are people out there risking their lives for the protection of our Republic. And soldiers die in training accidents far more frequently than most folks know. Don’t wait till Memorial or Veterans’ Day to say thank you to a soldier. Especially in this time of war, remember all those who serve so you can live in peace here at home.

How far are we willing to go? (Updated)

August 28, 2013

OK, so there’s this:

There is a chorus of criticism over the pending action from those who argue that it will not resolve the conflict in Syria and fear that any action taken will lead to the kind of protracted on-the-ground involvement that has proved so costly and fruitless in Iraq and Afghanistan. These critiques are misguided. There is no reason why targeted and carefully proscribed, but nonetheless potent, air attacks could not effectively deliver a message to Assad that these abuses must stop. His air defenses can be targeted. His weapons stores can be targeted. Economic assets associated with his closest associates, upon which his regime depends, can be targeted. This last approach — targeting the financial backers and cutting off money stream — is what ultimately proved to tip the scales most effectively in the former Yugoslavia during the 1999 bombings known within NATO as Operation Allied Force. This was an example of successful but limited use of air power without ground support that advanced a specific goal — in that case, the withdrawal of Yugoslav forces from Kosovo. (Ironically, tellingly, the rationale President Bill Clinton’s administration gave for the bombing included the fear that failing to undertake it could be a disaster in Kosovo that could claim some 100,000 lives — the same total lost to date in Syria.)

So to be clear, we can bomb them and then they will know that we can bomb them. Some more. Agreed. That is what they will know. Also, Syria is not Yugoslavia. The Serbians didn’t have a defense system meant to counter the Israeli air force.

What is really breaking my brain right now is reading people I respect make the American Exceptionist case:

If it is true that the regime killed hundreds of civilians with nerve gas in a Damascus suburb last week — and Secretary of State John F. Kerry said Monday that the use of chemical weapons is “undeniable” — then Obama has no choice. Such use cannot be tolerated, and any government or group that employs chemical weapons must be made to suffer real consequences. Obama should uphold this principle by destroying some of Assad’s military assets with cruise missiles.

This is a case in which somebody has to be the world’s policeman.

Says who sir? You?

But, what if in being bombed, that is, they become desperate because, well, we just bombed them, and so in desperation they use that pile of chemical weapons we are told they have. I mean, why the hell not at that point?

How far are we willing to go? Once we drop bombs we are fully committed. As is stated above, anything can be targeted. Never mind that those targets include human beings, that collateral damage thing we occasionally hear about.

Where do we draw the red line on our own actions? If the civil war continues to worsen, we will be expected to escalate our response. We will already ‘be there’.

Once we jump into this we are in. Into a civil war that can more accurately be described as chaos. We would be bombing amongst other things targets that would weaken the capabilities of a regime on the side of Russia, China, Hezbollah and Iran, which would have the effect of allowing a highly fractured, and increasingly radicalized, rebel force to, um, suddenly shit a collective rainbow and get along?

I am starting to have flashbacks. I am pretty sure we went through this fairly recently. Has one person actually came out and said there is conclusive proof of these chemical attacks? Or who perpetuated them?

And let’s say they did happen, and the Assad regime committed these crimes. OK. Now what? We bomb, then maybe bomb again. The regime retreats to the coast, doing what ever it takes to get there. Possibly. Then what? Do we sit by and let more ethnic cleansing happen? You think it won’t?

Never mind the battles between rebel forces already happening, never mind that no one seems to know how to deal with the massive refugee issue that is surely to arise from our actions as they intensify. And they will.

Or that no matter what we do we will still be hated even more in the region. Somehow our actions will be used to recruit more terrorists.

Will Russia, China, Hezbollah, and Iran respond? In what ways? Again, how far are we willing to go? And for that matter what concessions are we willing to make to ensure they don’t?

If we do this, we have to acknowledge the fact that we may very well become bogged down, that we will be on the hook for more support, possibly ground troops regardless of what anyone says right now. We have to accept that we will have to help rebuild, and we haven’t proven successful in that endeavor as of late.

Or we don’t, and end up looking like dicks for blowing up their infrastructure, which anyone will need to rebuild.

So what’s our commitment? Drop a few bombs? Make a point? What point exactly? That we can?

Then what? I highly doubt Assad has any plans to surrender. So we are in this till when exactly? And if other countries decide to back him, what is our game plan? And most importantly, what imminent threat does all this pose to the US?

Well, that’s my peace. I would hope it doesn’t happen but I am tired of being disappointed.

Update – Here is a lot more background on the groups involved in Syria.

Just a thought…

May 11, 2013

Still waiting for those hearings on the invasion of Iraq. Any day now…oh look, Benghazi, that’s a foreign sounding place. Close enough I guess.

Government Sponsorship of Illegal Human Experimentation: Scientific Opportunity or Product of Political Culture?

January 29, 2012


During the Nuremberg Trials held after the defeat of the Axis powers in World War II German scientists were found guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity for conducting illegal human experiments and for the use of slave labor. The research presented in this paper shows that the crimes committed by German scientists and doctors concerning illegal human experimentation during the holocaust were not unique events that could only have been perpetuated in Nazi Germany. To the contrary, the Americans, British, Japanese, and Soviets also conducted illegal human experimentation in the twentieth century. After the war the governments of the United States, the Soviet Union, and Great Britain actively sought to exploit the research conducted in Nazi controlled Germany, often employing the scientists and doctors behind it. Many German scientists were shielded from prosecution, smuggled out of Germany and allowed to work on top-secret government research regardless of their complicity in crimes for which their peers were imprisoned or put to death. The war crimes committed by Japanese scientists and the subsequent shielding of their crimes by the U.S. will also be discussed to show that the German case was not unique. In addition, episodes of illegal human experimentation conducted before and after the war by the U.S., Britain, and the Soviet Union will be reviewed to establish its existence outside of Nazi Germany and to show the continuation of these crimes after the development of the Nuremberg Code.

Given the differences in culture and government that existed in the time leading up to, including, and after World War II between the aforementioned nations, the suggestion that Nazism alone enabled certain crimes to be committed which were otherwise impossible outside of its influence can not be true. The Nazi government was a sponsor of illegal human experimentation, but the same can be said of the other governments previously mentioned as well. Presented the opportunity, scientists seem willing to engage in experiments that violate the Nuremberg Code regardless of the political culture of the nation in which they commit them. The heinous nature of the Nazi crimes is not diminished in this realization. Instead an observation is made that the potential for the support of systematic illegal human experimentation is not confined to one form of government. Instead it is the acceptance within any given political culture that the security of the state takes precedence over basic civil rights that allows systematic illegal human experimentation to be perpetuated.

The Nuremberg Code & State Sponsorship

Illegal human experimentation is defined in the Nuremberg Code as any research conducted on a human being without that person’s full consent or when the test subject is not made completely aware of the true objectives and dangers of the experiments. While a consensus did not exist amongst scientists or governments before the end of World War II on what constituted illegal human experimentation, within this research all experiments committed on the unwitting will be classified as illegal in accordance with the guidelines established by the Nuremberg Code.

The Nuremberg Code was created during the Medical Trial to establish ethical human experimentation guidelines, and though the code itself has not necessarily been ratified into law in all countries, the U.S. being a notable example, the ten points contained in the code have been accepted as the international standard by which the legality of human experimentation is measured. The Nuremberg Code was used as the basis for subsequent international and national laws, including the U.S., on human experimentation. During the Nuremberg trials German scientists were charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity, criminal categories directly related to activities conducted during the war. As such German human experimentation during the war and the use of slave labor constituted war crimes and crimes against humanity, while human experimentation committed on the unwitting outside of the theater of war by other nations is hereafter referred to as illegal when it violates the Nuremberg code. Persons who were illegally experimented on are victims and will be referred to as such.

The definitions of war crimes and crimes against humanity used in this research are those stated in the charter for the International Military Tribunal during the Nuremberg Trials. War crimes were defined as: “namely, violations of the laws or customs of war. Such violations shall include, but not be limited to, murder, ill-treatment or deportation to slave labor or for any other purpose of civilian population of or in occupied territory, murder or ill-treatment of prisoners of war or persons on the seas, killing of hostages, plunder of public or private property, wanton destruction of cities, towns, or villages, or devastation not justified by military necessity”. Crimes against humanity are: “namely, murder, extermination, enslavement, deportation, and other inhumane acts committed against any civilian population, before or during the war, or persecutions on political, racial, or religious grounds in execution of or in connection with any crime within the jurisdiction of the Tribunal, whether or not in violation of domestic law of the country where perpetrated.”

Government sponsorship in this research is defined as a government providing financial and material support to the researchers conducting the experiments, including access to victims. The government, or a segment of it, also determines the general areas of research, for instance telling the researchers to focus on the effects of a particular drug or disease. The last major component of sponsorship is providing protection from scrutiny of the experiments and those conducting them in such a way that the courts, the general public, or even bodies governing specific scientific or medical disciplines, cannot determine the legality of the experiments. This also applies to the inability of the victims or their families to seek redress for suffering or loss caused by the experiments.

The Nuremberg Codes states, “The voluntary consent of the human subject is absolutely essential.” The code also acknowledges the right of an individual to withdraw from their participation in an experiment and the duty of the scientist to stop an experiment if the health of the test subject becomes endangered. Developed at Nuremberg in response to the crimes against humanity committed by German scientists, it set down ten principals to be observed when conducting human experiments. Before it’s creation no universally recognized guidelines existed, a point the Nazi doctors brought up during the trial in their own defense. While the heinous nature of the crimes committed by these doctors should not be overlooked, they did have a point. No internationally recognized law or code expressly condemned their actions. In fact, other countries were performing their own experiments on the unwitting, experiments that caused subjects to suffer and in some cases to die. With no legally established guidelines, issues of right and wrong were left up to scientists to decide.

As with the law no consensus existed between scientists on what constituted humane testing, or even if it was the responsibility of scientists to make such distinctions. The Nazi doctors claimed that under government sponsored research morality and personal responsibility were irrelevant. Hitler’s personal physician, Dr. Karl Brandt stated that what was critical was “whether the experiment is important or unimportant.” This point was raised in a 1992 paper by Professor Lewis Wolpert, former chairman of the Committee for Public Understanding of Science in Britain who said, “It is not for scientists to take moral or ethical decisions on their own: they have neither the right nor any special skills in this area. There is, in fact, a great danger in asking scientists to be more socially responsible.” Given that scientists seem willing to perform human experiments when given the opportunity in violation of the Nuremberg Code, then the responsibility for setting rules falls on society through government. But if the government shields scientists from public scrutiny, then these experiments take on a systematic nature that allows for wide spread abuse.

If the crimes committed by Nazi Germany were so illegal to warrant the Nuremberg trials and death sentences, was it not hypocritical to actively persecute one group of people for the same crimes committed by others regardless of the information they could provide? Is there knowledge so worth having that criminality, including murder, can be ignored? To answer this question one has to understand that similar crimes were already being committed in the United States prior to World War II and that a relationship between government and science had already been established through the Eugenics movement.


The Eugenics movement of the late 1800s to mid 1900s is an episode that bears scrutiny as a precursor to systematic illegal human experimentation. Credit for the term ‘Eugenics’ is given to Sir Francis Galton, cousin of Charles Darwin, who used the term to describe the improvement of the human ‘race’ through selective breeding and forced sterilization. Galton tied intelligence to heredity in his book Hereditary Genius, and went on to push for governmental involvement in deciding who could marry and have children. Eugenics is not a science; the ‘value’ of a person is based upon arbitrary cultural standards usually involving racist or class-based stereotypes. During the early 1900s the science of genetics was still in its infancy, but already there was a wide spread belief amongst the scientific community that all human traits could be linked directly to a certain gene. And since genes are passed from parent to child, it was assumed that those children born of ‘inferior’ parents would themselves be naturally inferior. Those targeted for sterilization in Britain and the U.S. included anyone with a mental defect, diseases such as tuberculosis, or those with epilepsy. But the group also included criminals and the poor.

Eugenics quickly caught on amongst the British and American middle to upper middle classes as a way to improve society. Societies promoting Eugenics were established in both countries and polls showed that the public in general supported the idea of sterilization. In the U.S. biologist Charles B. Davenport established the Eugenics Record Office and numerous states passed laws legalizing the forced sterilization deemed to have ‘inferior’ genes. Germany, under Nazi control, was not the first country to enforce sterilization.

Physician Fritz Lenz argued in 1923 that Germany was actually falling behind the United States when it came to sterilization laws. The Heredity Health Courts that were established after Hitler’s ascension to power to determine who should be sterilized mirrored the U.S. Eugenics Records Office. It should be noted at this point that the shift from sterilization to euthanasia and eventually mass murder did not happen in other countries; regardless, the ideas for genetic inferiority and sterilization sprang from the minds of American and British scientists long before Hitler wrote Mein Kampf, before the Nazis controlled the German nation, and before any crimes were committed in that country. To hold the Nazis alone accountable for their sterilization policies is to ignore the fact that the same was happening elsewhere and that those policies had support amongst the American and British public, with forced sterilization laws on the books on the U.S. up to the 1960s, decades after World War II ended.

The Eugenics movements in the U.S. and Germany were conducted in the open, and had wide spread public support. Eugenics was founded on the idea that it was the responsibility of those who saw themselves as superior to ‘fix’ society, in this case by gradually ridding society of those deemed inferior through forced sterilization with the full backing of the government. While a direct link between Eugenics and illegal human experimentation is not established here, this episode does show that science has the ability to be abused on this scale only with full government sponsorship. Once the idea of forced sterilization became law it was able to take on a systematic nature. Scientists and doctors were able to act without fear of prosecution. And if challenged they could point to the government and claim neutrality in discussions of the legality of their actions. This relationship between government and science would also develop another dimension. Scientists would be given the opportunity to conduct experiments that were hidden from the public and where therefore be able to avoid accountability.

Tuskegee Syphilis Study

One such experiment conducted in the U.S. was the Tuskegee Syphilis Study, which began in 1932, in which almost 400 poor and illiterate black men were made to suffer to effects of syphilis without any treatment. Government organizations aware of the study included the Public Health Service, the Center for Disease Control, and local medical societies, along with the Surgeon General of the Unites States and the American Heart Association. The study was conducted in Alabama, in a poor area with high illiteracy rates and little public medical knowledge available. The subjects were told they had ‘bad blood’, a reference to a folk term used to describe numerous medical problems in the rural south. For forty two years a system was set up to deny these men any medical treatment for their disease; clinics were expressly told not to give them medication even though a cure, penicillin, became widely available in the 1940s. Far from being conducted in secrecy, reports on the study were published in medical journals, with a 30th anniversary paper published in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

The experiments were finally brought to the public’s attention in 1974 through the work of an investigative reporter. Once the study became known, it was soundly rejected by the same organizations that had conducted it. Victims and their families received cash payments, but no one was ever charged with wrongdoing. Even though the study was started before the existence of the Nuremberg Code, its continuation after 1947 is in direct violation of the code. Yet no medical personnel were held responsible regardless of the fact that the study itself proved that the men experienced more sickness and died earlier because of the untreated disease. And since the men were not told what disease they had, there is the real chance they spread the disease to their sexual partners and even their offspring. However, after the study was made public no effort was made to determine if this had in fact happened.

The U.S. was able to claim the mantle of defender of freedom and liberty after World War II while the Nazi crimes were exposed to the world for the evil that they were. Yet the U.S. had already committed its own crimes, and would continue to, without facing any real consequences for these actions. In the end both governments would share two things in common. It was the government that dictated who the victims were and that scientists were willing to experiment on them. Nazi scientific research was conducted on prisoners in the concentration camps while after the war U.S. scientists experimented on those in mental wards, prisons, children in state care, drug addicts and prostitutes. The fact that the U.S., along with the British and Soviets, would also employ German scientists guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity because of the knowledge gained from the commission of those crimes reinforces the notion that no one political culture is immune from taking on a “security first” dominated mindset.

Illegal Human Experimentation in Germany

After the war the true horrors of the Holocaust became known. Allied troops liberated death and labor camps, discovering one tragedy after another. Millions of people had been worked to death, experimented on or simply killed in a ruthless system never before seen. Those not immediately sent to the gas chambers were often used as slave labor to support the war effort. These slaves worked endless hours with little food, knowing that if they stopped for a minute they would be beaten or shot. Other prisoners were used as human guinea pigs in often-gruesome experiments to study subjects ranging from the effects of pressure on the body to how much salt water a human can ingest before dying. For these crimes many people were punished with life sentences and death. However, those with knowledge deemed important were swept up by the U.S., Russia and Great Britain in an effort to capture the scientific knowledge of Nazi Germany.

This knowledge was considered essential to all three countries. The Nazis had made many technological achievements, and these nations felt that who ever captured it would have the military advantage. How complicit these scientists and doctors were in Nazi war crimes was of less importance than what information and expertise they could provide. The U.S. in particular made great efforts to obtain and protect Nazi scientists. Through projects Overcast and Paperclip hundreds of scientists, doctors and engineers were brought to the U.S. to work on military projects. Some of them would go on to become leaders in their fields and industries.

The most notable example was Hubertus Strunghold, who was brought to the U.S. under Project Paperclip. During the war he headed the Luftwaffe Institute for Aviation Medicine in Berlin and was a Luftwaffe colonel. Strunghold had been well known in the US before the war, and was at the open house for the AAF Aero Medical Center in Heidlberg in 1946. During the war he had been responsible for overseeing medical experiments performed by doctors in Experimental Block #5 in the Dachau Death Camp. When American soldiers liberated this camp they discovered half starved prisoners, human body parts scattered around the labs and other remnants of gruesome experiments.

One set of experiments, conducted by Paperclip scientists Konrad Schaefer and Wilhelm Beiglboeck, involved forcing prisoners to ingest salt water to see how long a downed pilot could survive on seawater. The victims, all Gypsies, were divided into groups. One group received no water at all, while the rest drank either ordinary seawater or partially desalinated water. One observer of the experiments noted that the victims suffered horribly, losing up to two pounds a day. Many of the victims experienced heart seizures and feel into comas. Others had their livers punctured by a long sharp instrument used to drain blood and saltwater. In the end most died. Another experiment, conducted by Siegfried Ruff, Dr. Sigmund Rascher, and Hermann Becker-Freyseng, involved studying high altitude and low pressure effects in which the victims, Poles, Russians, and Jews, were placed in mobile pressure chambers to mimic the affects of parachuting out of a plane without oxygen. The victims experienced terrible agony, starved of oxygen many died of heart seizures while others went insane. Autopsies were performed to study the trauma on the organs. Freezing experiments were performed by forcing victims to stand naked in the open winter air while others were made to lay in tanks of ice water. Dr. Klaus Shilling infected 1200 prisoners with malaria. Once infected the victims were given varying mixtures of strong drugs, from which many overdosed.

While many of these scientists would eventually stand trial, Strunghold would not; instead he was protected from public scrutiny. When first captured Strunghold told his interrogator, US Army Major Alexander, that he had known nothing of the experiments and had only heard of them at the trial. However, during the Medical case the other scientists said he personally received the orders to conduct the experiments, advised on them, reviewed the final reports and even had the power to stop them. Instead of jail Strunghold went on to head the Air Force School of Aviation Medicine then the Department of Space Medicine. He is considered the father of space medicine and has received the Americanism Medal from the Daughters of the American Revolution. The Texas Senate declared June 15 ‘Dr. Hubertus Strughold Day’ and the official U.S. Air Force building in San Antonio named after him.

In addition to the experiments listed above German scientists also infected their victims with diseases. At the Natzweiler concentration camp, for example, prisoners were deliberately infected with typhus to test vaccinations. Others were infected to keep a supply of the disease available. Bullets were dipped in poison and then fired into the bodies of prisoners to study how long it took the poison to kill them. Women at the Ravensbrück camp were infected with gangrene. While the sheer volume of experiments conducted by the Germans dwarfs in scale the Tuskegee experiment, both could only have happened with the active participation of a large number of scientists. And with both the scientists involved that escaped prosecution could only do so because government officials decided their work was more important that justice.

Slave Labor in Germany

Illegal human experiments were not the only crimes of which German scientists that were brought to the U.S. under projects Overcast and Paperclip were guilty of committing. On the night of August 17, 1943, Allied bombers struck the missile factory at Peenemünde near the Baltic Coast. The Germans quickly worked to establish a new production facility in the storage tunnels near the city of Nordhausen in the Harz Mountains. Adolf Hitler had given high priority to the rocket program a few months earlier; in order to comply with his orders to get the program running again thousands of concentration camp prisoners were moved to the site to work day and night to get the factory operating. Many died from dysentery. Others were transported back to the camps for extermination. Once running, Mittlewerk factory was a sight of unrelenting work and abuse. Prisoners were worked until they passed out from exhaustion or died from diseases such as cholera. Those that stopped working were shot, while any prisoner could be beaten for perceived offences by guards and scientists alike. The adjacent camp, Dora, was used to house the prisoners; the American troops who liberated it discovered six thousand bodies scattered outside the caves and the furnaces of Dora left open and smoldering. All the victims were casualties of the brutal conditions inside the factory.

The scientists who ran this factory, and Peenemünde before it, were not merely researchers working to build rockets for the war effort. They were actively involved in the use of slave labor. The chief engineer at Peenemünde, Arthur Rudolph, was already preparing to use Russian prisoners of war in early 1943 when Heinrich Himmler presented him with option of using concentration camp prisoners. Rudolph saw slave labor as both economically practical and advantageous from a secrecy standpoint after witnessing the 4,000 slave laborers at the Heinkel factory north of Berlin in Oranienburg. Once at Mittlewerk Rudolph served as Production Manager, setting the grueling hours prisoners worked and filing sabotage reports with the SS that led directly to prisoners being hanged, often inside the factory itself as a warning to others. Wernher von Braun, who worked for Rudolph, attended meetings where the use of slave labor in rocket production was discussed. Von Braun and Brigadier-General Walter Dornberger, the head of the rocket program, also advocated using slave labor as part of the production calculations. In his role as General Manager Georg Rickhey regularly instigated prisoner hangings inside the plant.

All of these scientists had advocated for and participated in the use of slave labor. Instead of standing trial at Nuremberg all were brought to the United States. Rudolph was stationed in Fort Bliss, Texas after the war where he worked on rockets for the AAF before later becoming Project Director of the Saturn V rocket program. His past almost caught up with him in 1984 when he was found complicit “in the abuse and persecution of concentration camp inmates who were employed by the thousands as slave laborers under his direct supervision” by the U.S. Justice Department’s Office of Special Investigations. Rudolph flew back to Hamburg, Germany rather than stand trial. Von Braun had been classified as a potential security threat because of his membership in the NSDAP, the SS, where he was a major, and four other Nazi organizations. He was also sent to Fort Bliss and in 1957 he became the first director of the Marshall Space Flight Center. Another scientist from the rocket program at Fort Bliss, Kurt Debus, had been a member of the SS and SA. Debus once turned a colleague in to the Gestapo for making anti-Hitler remarks. Even though he too had been included in OMGUS Security Reports, in the U.S. he would go on to become the first director of the Kennedy Space Center. Dornberger was shipped to Wright Air Field in Ohio; he would later become a vice-president at Bell Aircraft Company. Rickhey did eventually stand trial on accusations of instituting hangings and a work pace that led to thousands of deaths from exhaustion but he was found not guilty and then the trial was classified. Herbert Axster, who was Dornberger’s chief of staff, also arrived at Fort Bliss but left the U.S. in the early 1950s after accusations were made that he abused slave labor on his estate during the war.

The Japanese Case

The Germans were not the only country in which scientists committed war crimes only to have them covered up by Americans after the war. Imperial Japan established a facility officially named the Anti-Epidemic Water Supply and Purification Bureau, known as Unit 731, in a remote part of the Manchurian Peninsula at Pingfan. The facility was similar in size to the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz, with rail lines, laboratories, barracks and a crematorium. The Japanese doctors performed horrific medical experiments on prisoners, a mixture of Chinese, Mongolians, Russians, Koreans and even western prisoners of war, under the leadership of Dr. Shiro Ishii. In one set of experiments, prisoners were dissected while still alive. In another, limbs were amputated to study blood loss. The doctors removed organs and rerouted others to see the affects on the victim’s body. And in experiments similar to those conducted by German scientists, prisoners were frozen to death and then defrosted so that doctors could study gangrene. Other prisoners had their limbs frozen but were kept alive. The Japanese scientists also locked their victims inside pressure chambers or put them in centrifuges and spun them around until the prisoners died. Prisoners were hung upside down until death in order to determine how long a person could survive in this condition. Gas chambers were set up to study the effects of phosgene gas. The livers of prisoners were exposed to high levels of radiation. The military also used the facility to test weaponry, using the prisoners as live targets to test flame-throwers and grenades or so that soldiers could test how sharp a sword was. Diseases such as cholera, anthrax and the plague were manufactured at the facility as well. Bombs were filled with the diseases and then they were released on whole villages, killing an estimated 400,000 people.

The scientists at this facility were well aware of the nature of their actions. Dr. Ishii is quoted as saying to his staff, “A doctor’s God-given mission is to block and treat disease, but the work on which we are now to embark is the complete opposite of those principles.” Yet after the war nearly all of the scientists were freed despite that fact that the British and Americans knew what had happened in Unit 731. Evidence was gathered and sent directly to United States President Harry Truman by war crimes prosecutors, but it was never seen again. The reason for this is the same as why many German scientists were shielded from the Nuremberg Trials; the knowledge they possessed was deemed valuable. Immunity from prosecution in the Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal was given to the Japanese scientists in exchange for the data their research had developed. As was the case with the Germans, the Americans wanted the data before it fell into Soviet hands. So the crimes were covered up. Dr. Ishii died at home after a long career. And unlike the case in Germany, atonement has yet to be made by the Japanese to the Chinese for these crimes.

American & British Crimes Post WWII

The United States would go on to expand the use of human test subjects after the war. Through CIA funded programs thousands of soldiers were exposed to chemical agents originally developed by the Nazis. An as yet unknown number of civilians would be given concoctions of drugs in secret psycho-chemistry experiments. Others had electrodes implanted on their brains to see how scientists could control their bodies. In addition to these experiments chemical and biological agents were intentionally released on the general public to study dispersion patterns. None of the victims were ever informed before hand, and for those that were able to prove these crimes happened justice often came too late or not at all.

Scientists in Nazi Germany and Japan had conducted experiments on unwitting humans and at least some of the scientists involved had been held accountable for these crimes at the Nuremberg and Tokyo trials. Yet American and British researchers went on to mimic these experiments in their respective countries. The Central Intelligence Agency ran several programs, including Bluebird and MKULTRA, in which soldiers and members of the public were given LSD in order to study its effects on the mind. The military tested other drugs besides LSD on soldiers at Edgewood Arsenal in Maryland while the British did the same at the British Chemical Defense Establishment at Porton Down, Wiltshire.

At Edgewood soldiers were given Sernyl (known as PCP or angel dust) or other incapacitating agents. Many experienced horrific visions, amnesia, and some would later commit suicide trying to forget what they had been through. While many of the soldiers technically volunteered to be part of experiments, none were told of the dangerous nature of the experiments. The Army’s inspector general, in a 1975 review of the experiments, found that despite the guidelines established for human experimentation the policy was quite often ignored. Soldiers were frequently told they were volunteering for experiments that involved equipment testing when in fact they were being poisoned. The British government in 2006 paid victims of drug tests it performed on soldiers in the 1950s. The soldiers were told that they were part of a test to find a cure for colds. In reality scientists working for MI6, the British equivalent to the CIA, had given the soldiers LSD to test its use as a mind control drug.

In another set of experiments victims received doses of radioactive substances and were then studied to determine the effects of radiation on the human body starting in 1945 and continuing until the 1970s. The studies received funding from the Department of Defense, the CIA, and the Department of Energy under programs MKULTRA, the MANHATTAN Project, and the Boston Project. The unwitting test subjects included patients at hospitals, people receiving treatment from University medical departments, and prisoners. In one study 18 patients were injected with plutonium by doctors at the University of California in San Francisco as part of the MANHATTEN Project. Another experiment involved radiating the testicles of prisoners in state prisons in Washington and Oregon. The men involved were paid a fee for receiving a dose of radiation, for each time a testicle was biopsied and for completing the experiment. As a precaution each prisoner was given a vasectomy. Though the men had volunteered and been paid, a lawsuit in 1976 brought out the fact that they men had received 100 times the maximum recommended dose of radiation. In other experiments clouds of radiation were released into the atmosphere to assess dispersal rates, often affecting populated areas. This was the case when the Hanford Nuclear Facility released radioactive iodine-131 in a project code named GREEN RUN over 8000 square miles that included the city of Spokane, Washington.

Under MKULTRA, children were given injections of radioactive or fed radioactive food at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of Minnesota, and John Hopkins. Pregnant women were given doses of radiation as part of their prenatal care at Vanderbilt University in Tennessee. Also under MKULTRA in 1961 mentally challenged children were given radioactive iodine at Wrentham State School by researchers from the Boston University of Medicine, Harvard Medical School, and the Massachusetts General Hospital. While the fate of every victim is not known, amongst the pregnant women who received radiation several had children who died. Regardless, none of these people had given consent. This would be the case in other experiments conducted by other nations as well. The British exposed military personnel to the affects of nuclear testing in the 1950s in Australia. The Soviet Union used German, Italian and Spanish prisoners of war for radiation experiments up to 1962 and performed ‘submersion’ experiments, and Amnesty International has classified their treatment of political prisoners in psychiatric hospitals as ‘torture’.

The examples presented thus far of illegal human experimentation and the shielding of war criminals has largely depended on researchers who have reviewed government documents through the Freedom of Information Act. The total number of victims of illegal human experimentation committed after World War II is not known due to the continued classification of documentation related to this subject. However, the fact that such crimes are documented not only proves their existence; it also proves that the environment for scientists to perform these types of experiments can exist in diverse political cultures.

Science & Government

If these crimes can happen in any country regardless of it’s political culture, are there particular aspects that they share that can tell us if the potential for systematic illegal human experimentation exists? From World War II on all of the previously mentioned countries were either in a state of war or perceived that they were. German and Japanese scientists were sponsored in support of the war effort while the Cold War was used to justify experiments conducted by the U.S., Britain, and the Soviet Union. In each of these countries those in government saw the security of the state as being under threat. Once the protection of the state became the primary focus, the experiments that were performed were deemed necessary regardless of their legality. Any concerns for the health and welfare of those that became victims became lost. The state became a sponsor, and scientists were freed to perform experiments without fear of prosecution. At this point these governments shared another aspect. The government decided who the victims would be. The German scientists experimented on concentration camp prisoners. In the U.S. experiments were performed on patients in mental wards and at hospitals, children under state care, prisoners and soldiers. In China the Japanese scientists experimented on prisoners of war and civilians, the Soviets on political prisoners and the British on men in the military. The victims were made such by the government.

It was the government’s sponsorship that created the environment for the systematic nature in which these crimes were committed. But what about the scientists involved? Could the argument be made that they too felt threatened and therefore acted out of a sense of patriotism? Or were their intentions purely academic? Answers to these questions can only come from those involved, and as of today little information is available on the majority of scientists involved. But a few examples do exist of scientists being questioned about how they viewed the nature of their work. The astrophysicist John Simpson, who was part of the MANHATTAN Project cautioned about criticizing the injections of plutonium that were given because without them “radioactive dangers would be greater throughout the world today.” Dr. Karl Brandt, when he was asked about his attitude concerning people dying during human testing replied, “Do you think one can obtain any worthwhile fundamental results without a definite toll of lives?” As for the notion of patriotism Wernher von Braun is quoted as saying he did not care who he worked for as long as they provided the funding. On a more general note insight can be gained from a story told by British physiologist J. B. S. Haldane. His father, also a physiologist, had put the younger Haldane into a coffin to test the effects of certain gases on the boy’s body. In another instance the elder Haldane submerged his son into a freezing lake, an episode in which the boy almost drowned. The fact that his father was willing to risk his life provides an opportune view into the level of risk scientists are willing to take concerning their test subject’s well being.

In order to avoid the risk of condemning all scientists the point must be made that there were those who spoke out against bringing German scientists to the United States. Concerned scientists, military personal and citizens protested the German scientists being allowed to receive citizenship and participate in society. They feared that the Germans would bring the racial hatred of the Nazi doctrine to the U.S. Debates amongst scientists also focused on whether acquiring the knowledge gained from war crimes and crimes against humanity was worth the cost of keeping the Germans out of prison. As for the German scientists who were brought to the U.S., a quote from Dora survivor Jean Michel shows the complexity of their legacy: “…I could not watch the Apollo mission without remembering that that triumphant walk was made possible by our initiation to inconceivable horror.”

As the existence of illegal human experimentation after the war was made public some members of Congress did call for hearings. One case that stemmed from the hearings on American experimentation made it to the Supreme Court. Though the victim, James Stanley, lost the case, in the dissent Justice William Brennan stated, “Having invoked national security to conceal its activities, the Government now argues that the preservation of military discipline requires that Government officials remain free to violate the constitutional rights of soldiers…” At this time no American scientist has ever stood trial for conducting illegal human experimentation under government sponsorship.


The purpose of the research presented here is not to lessen the impact of the crimes committed in Nazi controlled Germany. The horrors of the Holocaust happened on a scale unprecedented in history. But the fact that they have not been repeated in such a large systematic fashion cannot be seen as evidence that they never will again. Nor can it mean that smaller episodes are less significant in terms of their illegality. The number of victims alone is not what should be compared. Consider that the Germans and Japanese committed a larger volume of crimes in a relatively shorter amount of time on people they did not recognize the rights of and that the governments of both countries were open about their disregard for their victims. Their view was that the people experimented on were not citizens and therefore they had no rights. But then what can be said of the U.S. and Britain, countries that experimented on citizens whose rights were never supposed to be in question?

Again the point is not to make one case worse than the other. This research makes no distinction between illegal human experimentation committed during or outside times of war. And war alone cannot be seen as a necessary precondition for their existence, since the Tuskegee Study was not related to war-time activities. The environment in which they are performed is irrelevant. What is important is to recognize that as long as there exists a willingness in any government to put security and military concerns ahead of civil rights, then the environment can exist in which the conducting of these types of experiments is seen as a viable option. Compounding this is that scientists seem all too willing to perform experiments in violation of the Nuremberg Code when they know that the government will shield them from scrutiny.

The total scope of illegal human experimentation is beyond the limitations of this research. Other examples of illegal human experimentation committed by countries not discussed surely exist given that the mindset that sponsors them is one any political culture can assume. Just in the last decade it was revealed that the United States tortured prisoners of the War on Terror. While much of the information about this episode of torture remains today heavily classified, many in academia and the media have asked the question of whether doctors were involved in developing and administering torture techniques.

There is much more on the subject of human experimentation that needs to be studied. The same is true for the post-war rush to acquire German scientists and technology. Just how many scientists have been shielded from prosecution may never be known. But acknowledging the existence and wide spread nature of these crimes does make apparent the necessity for transparency in government and scientific inquiry. For if government is tasked with guiding science, then ultimately it is the responsibility of the citizenry to make sure their government acts in a manner consistent with the law.



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What he said

October 18, 2011

I offer without comment:

Obama’s War

November 28, 2009

You own this war Mr. President. The blood is on your hands now.

McKiller (Updated)

October 6, 2009

Update – And he’s gone.

The Christian Science Monitor posted this article discussing whether or not currently serving military officers should or should not speak publicly about current operations if they might contradict the President. Well, I have always felt that your right to free speech doesn’t end when you don a uniform. In fact I think it’s quite the opposite; when it’s your butt that’s going to get shot at you have every right to speak up.

Wars are generally fought by the young for the benefit of the moneyed. Most young people I met in the army didn’t know a damn thing about the world beyond the farm they grew up on, or the inner city/suburb they grew up in. However, we are not talking about just anyone here. No, we are talking about General Stanley McChrystal.

General McChrystal is in charge of our forces in Afghanistan. Back in Iraq, you know, the war that is apparently over, he ran torture prisons and death squads. Now he wants to ramp up the Afghanistan occupation.

Just what we need. Because the Afghan people haven’t suffered enough. No, it would seem they need to be murdered and tortured much, much more. Ignoring that we shouldn’t be in Afghanistan at all, General McChystal is the wrong person to head anything other than a third world murder mill. He will escalate the occupation, further alienate the Afghan people, no doubt piss off Pakistan and Iran (he does love illegal cross border raids) and generally make a fucked situation worse.

We now have the moral equivalent of a serial killer in charge. Many on the right and in the media like to say General Betrayus’ “surge” worked. No, he just used McChrystal to assassinate everyone and anyone until there was was no one left to speak out.

To me it’s not a matter of whether or not General McChrystal should have spoken up, it’s that he is a fucking psycho who shouldn’t be listened to.

That place named Iran

October 2, 2009

Juan Cole, who continues to amaze me through his consistently, well, amazing analysis, has a great post up titled “Top Things you Think You Know about Iran that are not True“. Well worth the read. A couple of highlights:

Belief: But didn’t President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad threaten to ‘wipe Israel off the map?’

Reality: President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad did quote Ayatollah Khomeini to the effect that “this Occupation regime over Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time” (in rezhim-e eshghalgar-i Qods bayad as safheh-e ruzgar mahv shavad). This was not a pledge to roll tanks and invade or to launch missiles, however. It is the expression of a hope that the regime will collapse, just as the Soviet Union did. It is not a threat to kill anyone at all.

Belief: The international community would not have put sanctions on Iran, and would not be so worried, if it were not a gathering nuclear threat.

Actuality: The centrifuge technology that Iran is using to enrich uranium is open-ended. In the old days, you could tell which countries might want a nuclear bomb by whether they were building light water reactors (unsuitable for bomb-making) or heavy-water reactors (could be used to make a bomb). But with centrifuges, once you can enrich to 5% to fuel a civilian reactor, you could theoretically feed the material back through many times and enrich to 90% for a bomb. However, as long as centrifuge plants are being actively inspected, they cannot be used to make a bomb. The two danger signals would be if Iran threw out the inspectors or if it found a way to create a secret facility. The latter task would be extremely difficult, however, as demonstrated by the CIA’s discovery of the Qom facility construction in 2006 from satellite photos. Nuclear installations, especially centrifuge ones, consume a great deal of water, construction materiel, and so forth, so that constructing one in secret is a tall order. In any case, you can’t attack and destroy a country because you have an intuition that they might be doing something illegal. You need some kind of proof. Moreover, Israel, Pakistan and India are all much worse citizens of the globe than Iran, since they refused to sign the NPT and then went for broke to get a bomb; and nothing at all has been done to any of them by the UNSC.

Speaking of that Green Revolution

October 1, 2009

In my last post I mentioned that imposing further sanctions on Iran would mean “more clamping down on democratic protesters”. I am not the only one who feels this way.

Former presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi, Iran’s main political opposition leader, called Ahmadinejad’s foreign policy “wrong and adventurist” this week but came out against new sanctions, saying he worried that “deprived people” would pay the highest price.

“Sanctions would not affect the government but would impose many hardships upon the people, who suffer enough as a result of the calamity of their insane rulers,” Mousavi said in a statement.

Government critics and dissidents, dozens of whom are on trial on charges of fomenting unrest after Ahmadinejad’s disputed June 12 reelection, probably would come under more pressure if tougher sanctions were imposed, according to politicians and analysts on both sides.

“The government will say that critics of their policies are doing the foreigners’ bidding” and will use sanctions as a pretext to silence opponents, said Ali Shakouri-Rad, a leading member of the opposition Islamic Iran Participation Front.

So even the people risking their lives to run against Ahmadinejad can see that sanctions will only give the government an excuse to crack down on anyone who opposes the current regime. And only the average Iranian will suffer from sanctions as it becomes harder and harder to make a living and feed their families.

Kind of like what we did to Iraq for years. Saddam Hussein sure suffered in his many giant homes while we imposed sanctions on his country. Of course all those American companies buying oil through their European subsidiaries helped him live large, as they broke federal law in the process.

The article goes on to mention the possibility that sanctions will fuel unrest against Ahmadinejad’s rule. I disagree. It’s one thing to hate your dictator, it’s another thing entirely to have an outside entity, that has a history already of fucking up your country, try to force it’s will upon you. Something about him being an asshole but at least he’s our asshole.

Given how the US has helped overthrow a dictator in Iraq only to help impose a new one in the making, backed one in Pakistan in opposition to the will of the people until they finally threw him out themselves, our total support of countless dictators across the Middle East, and our help in installing one in Afghanistan; with all that, how could anyone think that any action against Iran will drive it’s people apart? We are to be feared by dictators (not friendly to our business interests) and democratic activists alike.

And as long as we openly and unequivocally support Israel’s constant aggression towards its neighbors and the Palestinians the Iranians would be insane to think we have their interests at heart. We blew that when George Bush called Iran part of the “Axis of Evil”. That little remark is what propelled Ahmadinejad into the presidency; before him Iran had a moderate president, one that was actively working with the US to defeat the Taliban in Afghanistan.

We are repeating the Iraq war build up with a whole one letter change. Iraq, minus a q, add an n, Iran. Wow, that was too easy.

I’ll leave it to the ever amazing Glenn Greenwald to define American imperialism. Read more of his site for further analysis of the Iran war build up hype.