S/SW blog philosophy -

I credit favorite writers and public opinion makers.

A lifelong Democrat, my comments on Congress, the judiciary and the presidency are regular features.

My observations and commentary are on people and events in politics that affect the USA or the rest of the world, and stand for the interests of peace, security and justice.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Fear innoculations

Fear about "what will happen to us" in our country need not be as endemic as currently seems to be the case. There are antidotes to this national poison. The venom of fear-mongering can be neutralized by using the following pain relievers. Here are my prescriptions:
  • Healing compound -- Knowledge and information is an important antidote that raises alternative possibilities. The very best example of this is a dissenting view to the concept of the Global War on Terror (GWOT for short). I learned about it from the Washington Post's Op-ed piece by David Ignatius, titled "The Fading Jihadists." Ignatius says, "Politicians who talk about the terrorism threat -- and it's already clear that this will be a polarizing issue in the 2008 campaign -- should be required to read a new book by a former CIA officer named Marc Sageman. It stands what you think you know about terrorism on its head and helps you see the topic in a different light." The new book is out called "Leaderless Jihad." Its author, Marc Sageman will be on C-SPAN tonight talking about it:

    10:00 PM (ET) 1 hr, 26 min. Leaderless Jihad: Terror Networks in the Twenty-First Century. Author: Marc Sageman. Upcoming Schedule: Sunday, March 2, at 10:00 PM Monday, March 3, at 4:00 AM.

    Marc Sageman looks at the rise and operation of Islamic terrorist groups around the world. He spoke at an event hosted by the New America Foundation in Washington, DC. CNN terrorism analyst and New America Foundation fellow Peter Bergen provides commentary. About the Author -- Marc Sageman, who worked for the CIA in Afghanistan during the 1980s, is the author of "Understanding Terror Networks." He currently works as a forensic psychiatrist and a government counterterrorism consultant.

  • Anesthetic -- Emphasizing positives and minimizing negatives, while remaining truthful, can ameliorate some of the pain of factual distortions. Except for the run-up to the invasion and occupation of Iraq, there has been no issue so full of lies and distortions than the governments illegal program of spying on Americans. We must have the truth about this. Glenn Greenwald, a brilliant constitutional lawyer, routinely exposes the administration's factual distortions associated with the current impasse about amending the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance act. For example, his article from February 23 is headlined, "McConnell/Mukasey: Eavesdropping outside of FISA is "illegal." To quote:

    The most difficult job in America -- it's really impossible -- is satirizing Republican exploitation of Terrorism. No matter how far the satire goes, the actual fear-mongerers always easily surpass it. House Democrats want Terrorists to be able to sue the phone companies. That's what this is about.

  • Antibiotic -- Confronting with truth prevents propaganda from infecting the body politic. It is a shame we did not know this earlier. (HT to "betmo" for this) From The Nuclear Vault at The National Security Archives I quote from the article:

    "Prevent the Reemergence of a New Rival"
    The Making of the Cheney Regional Defense Strategy, 1991-1992

    Declassified Studies from Cheney - Pentagon Show Push for U.S. Military Predominance and a Strategy to "Prevent the Reemergence of a New Rival"

    The documents recently declassified by the Defense Department in response to the Archive's appeal provide an inside view of the making of the Defense Planning Guidance from September 1991 to May 1992, when Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Colin Powell and Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Paul Wolfowitz approved it. Writing in the wake of the Soviet Union's collapse, the group of Republican-oriented officials that produced the Guidance wanted to preserve the unique position of American predominance that was emerging. With the leak of a draft in March 1992 and the resulting public controversy over the language about preventing a "new rival," "Scooter" Libby and his colleagues recast the document so that it would pass public scrutiny while meeting Richard Cheney's requirements for a strategy of military supremacy. Believing that military spending at Cold War levels was no longer possible, Cheney and his advisers wanted to develop lower-cost strategies and plans to prevent future global threats to American power and interests. To protect U.S. territory, citizens, and military forces from attack, to back up security guarantees to allies, and to "preclude any hostile power from dominating a region critical to our interests," the authors of the Guidance argued that the United States had to:

    ▪ Pursue the "military-technological revolution" to preserve its superiority in the latest weapons systems (e.g., smart munitions)

    ▪ Sustain the "forward" presence of U.S. ground, air, and naval forces in strategically important areas, to validate commitments, and to provide a capability to respond to crises affecting significant interests, such as freedom of the seas and access to markets and energy supplies

    ▪ Preserve a smaller but diverse "mix" of survivable nuclear forces to support a global role, validate security guarantees, and deter Russian nuclear forces

    ▪ Field a missile defense system as a shield against accidental missile launches or limited missile strikes by "international outlaws"

    ▪ Maintain a capability to reconstitute military forces in the event a regional hegemon threatens to become a global threat

    ▪ Find ways to integrate the "new democracies" of the former Soviet bloc into the U.S.-led system

    ▪ Work with allies in NATO Europe and elsewhere but be ready to act unilaterally or with only a few other nations when multilateral and cooperative action proves too "sluggish" to protect vital interests.

  • Teflon band-aid -- Courage under fire is signified by which way we run when assaulted by fear-mongers. Do not turn your back on them. Bluebloggin's "bosskitty" reports that it is us who are to blame for the sinking economy, according to our current president. To quote the key elements of his interview with Ann Curry:

    Curry reminded the President that his wife had once said, “No one suffers more than their president. I hope they know the burden of worry that’s on his shoulders every single day for our troops.” The conversation continued thusly:

    “Bush: And as people are now beginning to see, Iraq is changing, democracy is beginning to tak[e] hold. And I’m convinced 50 years from now people look back and say thank God there was those who were willing to sacrifice.

    “Curry: But you’re saying you’re going to have to carry that burden … Some Americans believe that they feel they’re carrying the burden because of this economy.
    “Bush: Yeah, well –

    “Curry: They say — they say they’re suffering because of this.
    “Bush: I don’t agree with that.

    “Curry: You don’t agree with that? Has nothing do with the economy, the war? The spending on the war?
    “Bush: I don’t think so. I think actually, the spending on the war might help with jobs.

    “Curry: Oh, yeah?
    “Bush: Yeah, because we’re buying equipment, and people are working. I think this economy is down because we built too many houses.”

    In other words, in honor of the soon-to-arrive fifth anniversary of his war without end, the President has offered a formula for economic success in bad times that might be summed up this way: less houses, more bases, more weaponry, more war.

  • Releasing endorphins -- Humor in bizarre situations takes away the headache caused by silliness. The blog NPI opened its "In Brief" post (admittedly anti-Clinton) with the following, from which I quote:

    Yesterday's big presidential primary dust-up started when the Clinton campaign released a new ad asking voters who they wanted answering the White House "red phone" when something bad happens at 3:00 AM.

    It's an interesting choice in the wake of Clinton's plagiarism accusations against Obama, because as the ever-observant folks on the 'tubes have pointed out, a McCain supporter released an earlier video using exactly the same argument, albeit with lousier production values.

    To make matters worse, those same persnickitty intertubers dug up video from Campaign 2004 of Bill Clinton reminding people of the difference between fear-mongering and hopeful inspiration - a clip that, after watching it, we hope the Obama campaign makes liberal use of.

    Obama responded to the Clinton ad with an elegant statement asserting that it's not who picks up the phone we should so much be concerned with, as what kind of judgment that person will exercise when they do. His point is well taken, what with Mrs. Clinton demonstrating ample poor judgment these past few days: her choice to go negative and her selection of issues on which to do so. Doubly so given Obama's own long-running stance against the Iraq war.

Hope about "what will happen to us" in our country needs to based on knowledge and information about politicians running for office. I admire the Democrats for maintaining a positive, though very competitive, atmosphere in their Presidential campaign. The blogosphere acts as an important candidate fact-checker for us to get at the real truth. I believe that we are less fearful and more courageous, the more time passes and the more medicine we apply. Fear-mongering can be neutralized by using these pain relievers, including a little humor every now and then. Who did not chuckle as you read the Ann Curry interview above?

View my current slide show about the Bush years, "Millennium," at the bottom of this column.

My links:

(Cross-posted at The Reaction.)

My “creativity and dreaming” post today is at Making Good Mondays.

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The Future Was Yesterday said...

With this bunch of fear mongers, so little is required to give oneself immunity, so very little, yet so few are willing to stand up and scream at the top of their lungs, "This is wrong! STOP IT!"

Carol Gee said...

Future, I think a lot of people really know it is wrong, and just look the other way.
The latest reading is that it is not the telecoms that are screaming for immunity. The immunity is designed to screen the administration from scrutiny. Thanks for your holler, Man. My regards. . .