Friday, November 13, 2009

Musings: Up All Night

It wasn’t a night conducive to sleeping, especially since a trembling Koko spent much of it panting in my ear. Outside, the rain fell in torrents, near-constant flashes of lightening illuminated the sky and the thunder cracked, rumbled and boomed at a volume and intensity that can only be described as unusually spectacular.

I knew we were in for some excitement when I saw the streaked and furrowed clouds that made for last night’s glorious sunset, which I viewed from the freshly washed sand of a beach pounded by giant, glassy waves that mirrored the pastel hues of the sky.

The thunder started early, and distant, almost mimicking the roar of the sea, but slowly growing nearer, and louder, until it was right on top of us, and it continued on that way through the night’s wee hours, before it slowly drifted away about 5 a.m., leaving me feeling simultaneously amped and bleary.

It seems that military activities in other parts of the world are leaving the same legacy of harmed marine mammals and toxic pollution that we’re seeing locally. A report in the scientific journal Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, which is available on line only to subscribers, tells of how Welsh scientists are working to protect the critically endangered Mediterranean monk seals from threats posed by active sonar exercises. The article also reports:

Much of the Aegean is also being polluted by uranium derived from ordnance detonation in the international waters surrounding the Greek Islands. “In 2003, during Aegean Sea exercises, the Greek navy fired 20,000 missiles containing depleted uranium…but later claimed to be unaware of the great hazards [to the marine environment] caused by this material,” says Anastasia Miliou, Manager and Head Scientist of the Greek non-profit Archipelagos, headquarered on the island of Ikaria. Training exercises in the Aegean are conducted not only by the Greek armed forces, but also by those from Turkey and NATO. “The result is a dramatic impact on marine ecosystems, as millions of organisms are killed, severe underwater noise pollution is produced, and large amounts of toxic substances are released into the environment,” she continues.

Kinda makes you wonder what’s happening here in Hawaii during the RIMPAC exercises. I mean, how likely is it that the Greek navy would be firing missiles with DU, but the American navy wouldn’t be? Especially when you consider that we’re making these toxic munitions. So far, all of the DU attention in the Islands has been focused on the Army. Maybe it’s time to look more carefully into the Navy’s record on this.

Meanwhile, Sen. Inouye is trying to get Congress to appropriate $68.5 million to build a missile defense site at PRMF, Kauai’s navy base, ostensibly to protect us from Iran’s missiles. That’s just about what it would cost to restore the full school year here in Hawaii, and yet another indication of how our nation’s priorities are seriously amiss.

In related news, The Guardian has reported that a whistleblower from the International Energy Agency is claiming that “the world is much closer to running out of oil than official estimates admit,” but the news has been downplayed to stave off panic buying.

The senior official claims the US has played an influential role in encouraging the watchdog to underplay the rate of decline from existing oil fields while overplaying the chances of finding new reserves.

A second senior IEA source, who has now left but was also unwilling to give his name, said a key rule at the organisation was that it was "imperative not to anger the Americans" but the fact was that there was not as much oil in the world as had been admitted. "We have [already] entered the 'peak oil' zone. I think that the situation is really bad," he added.


Anonymous said...

PmRf Missile ʻdefenseʻ is another one arm porker special. Inouye is a crook.
I feel safer about Iran than the U.S.

Dawson said...

I used to laugh at Eisenhower's 1961 "Military-Industrial Complex Speech" as the paranoia of an aging rightwinger.

I don't laugh anymore.

"...Crises there will continue to be. In meeting them, whether foreign or domestic, great or small, there is a recurring temptation to feel that some spectacular and costly action could become the miraculous solution to all current difficulties. A huge increase in newer elements of our defense; development of unrealistic programs to cure every ill in agriculture; a dramatic expansion in basic and applied research -- these and many other possibilities, each possibly promising in itself, may be suggested as the only way to the road we wish to travel.

But each proposal must be weighed in the light of a broader consideration: the need to maintain balance in and among national programs -- balance between the private and the public economy, balance between cost and hoped for advantage -- balance between the clearly necessary and the comfortably desirable; balance between our essential requirements as a nation and the duties imposed by the nation upon the individual; balance between actions of the moment and the national welfare of the future. Good judgment seeks balance and progress; lack of it eventually finds imbalance and frustration....

Until the latest of our world conflicts, the United States had no armaments industry. American makers of plowshares could, with time and as required, make swords as well. But now we can no longer risk emergency improvisation of national defense; we have been compelled to create a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions. Added to this, three and a half million men and women are directly engaged in the defense establishment. We annually spend on military security more than the net income of all United States corporations.

This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence -- economic, political, even spiritual -- is felt in every city, every State house, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society.

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together."

Anonymous said...

""We have [already] entered the 'peak oil' zone.

......and this fact as well as global warming was well know back in 1970 some 40 years ago and yet didn't really come to public consciousness until after Gore had the election stolen by Bush. Gore NEVER brought up his global warming concerns during his campaign for president fearing it would cost him the election and that he would be perceived as giving another Carter "malaise speech". Now Obama sells a message of hope while his actions fail to back up his words.

We got to sit around at home and watch it all begin but I'll bet there won't be many left to see it really end. When the mainly white middle class have their expected entitlements disappear as reality comes home to roost on their heads expect trouble because they have an enormous amount of firepower.

Expect sporadic MOUT, Military Operations in Urban Terrain throughout the land as US troops attempt to suppress internecine warfare, as disgruntled affinity groups vie for resources.

Of course I could be mistaken and everything will be just peachy.

Anonymous said...

"Expect sporadic MOUT, Military Operations in Urban Terrain throughout the land as US troops attempt to suppress internecine warfare, as disgruntled affinity groups vie for resources."

Can we count on a large number of PTSD vets with MOUT training to engage in these conflicts on the side of the insurgents against active duty personnel, considering how shabbily the Gov treats our vets?

Anonymous said...

If the VA represents socialized military med, and Medicare represents socialized elderly care, why do people think the government will properly handle Obamacare?

Anonymous said...

Here's something else to think about, boys and girls. It lends credence the the Missile Defense program:
Obama hails expanded US engagement in Asia
AP – 5 mins ago

TOKYO – President Barack Obama declared Saturday that an era of American disengagement in the globe's fastest-growing region is over and warned that the U.S. and its Asian partners "will not be cowed" by North Korea's continued defiance over its nuclear weapons and other provocations.

More wars and rumors of wars. Isn't our Peace Prize Prez wonderful??

They should have awarded the Peace Prize to the teleprompter. The man delivers a great speech (written by others), but beyond that he's the "Yes, We Can't" guy.

Anonymous said...

so many foreign affairs and policy experts, so little time


Anonymous said...

"so many foreign affairs and policy experts, so little time dwps"

.. ans so many of our military bases in so many other countries dependent on technology made in other countries. Problem? I see no problem.

Anonymous said...

".. ans so many of our military bases in so many other countries dependent on technology made in other countries. Problem? I see no problem."

-- pls note, if able:

1) how many more intl bases there are now relative to, say, '85 or '95 (and where, if we get that far)

2) what technologies are being invented elsewhere that would worry one (so) much



Kyle said...

"So far, all of the DU attention in the Islands has been focused on the Army. Maybe it’s time to look more carefully into the Navy’s record on this."

In 2001, when I did a FOIA for DU weapons in Hawaii, the Navy was the one branch that admitted having them stored in Lualualei Naval Magazine. It also reported that several DU rounds from its Phalanx gun accidentally fired from a ship docked at Pearl Harbor and went into the forest above 'Aiea. I assume that the Navy uses DU rounds when training at sea, but don't have documentation.