Secretary of Defense Admits Perfection is Required

Yesterday, in a speech to STRATCOM, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel said: “Perfection must be the standard for our nuclear forces. … there is no room for error. … Americans trust you with their security, their families, and their future.” Unfortunately, saying that perfection is  required, does not mean perfection is achieved. After all, “to err is human.” So why are we relying on nuclear deterrence when just one mistake could destroy our homeland, and us along with it? Continue reading

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Avoiding Needless Wars, Part 9: Iraq

The two reasons given for invading Iraq in 2003 were baseless: Saddam Hussein’s WMDs were illusory, as were his connections to al Qaeda. While this needless war is often attributed to an intelligence failure, we all are at fault. Our elected officials failed to ask the questions they should have before going to war. So did our media. And so did we, the citizens who hold the ultimate power of the ballot box. The drumbeat to war hypnotized the nation, overcame rationality, and led to disaster. Continue reading

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Why Russia Resists a UN Resolution on Syria

The mainstream media has largely failed to mention one of the main reasons Russia has been resisting a UN Security Council Resolution which would allow the use of force if the US believes that Syria has failed to meet its obligations. Back in March 2011, Russia allowed UNSC Resolution 1973 which authorized “all necessary measures” to protect Libyan civilians. The West then used that resolution as the basis for air attacks leading to regime change and Gaddafi’s murder — an interpretation of the resolution with which Russia strongly disagrees. Continue reading

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Avoiding Needless Wars, Part 8: Syria

There are strong indications that President Obama will take military action against Syria,  even though several key questions have not been answered.

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Avoiding Needless Wars, Part 7: Afghanistan

Our October 2001 invasion of Afghanistan, less than a month after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, might seem like an unavoidable war because the Taliban had sheltered Osama bin Laden, and we could not afford to risk a repeat of that disaster. But a more careful analysis shows that our Afghan war, like the others examined in this series, could have been avoided. The trick is not to start the analysis on September 1,, 2001, but on July 3, 1979, when President Carter started to arm jihadists who were fighting the Soviets in Afghanistan. One of them was Osama bin Laden. Continue reading

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Avoiding Needless Wars, Part 6: North Korea

Over the last few months, North Korea has severely tested the world’s patience. It conducted its third nuclear test, canceled the armistice ending the Korean War, threatened the US with nuclear ruin, warned foreigners to leave the country because war was imminent, cut its hotline with South Korea, and readied a missile for firing. This shrill, irrational behavior seems to confirm the conventional wisdom that North Korea is a rogue nation, run by a nut job – end of story. In that perspective, there is little we can do other than hope that our military power deters them from following through on their hair-brained threats. While there is truth in that perspective, it pays to examine some other hypotheses which, if true, would give us more effective options for reducing the risk of a needless war.  Continue reading

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Avoiding Needless Wars, Part 5: Operation Northwoods

Operation Northwoods is a prime example of why we need to raise critical questions before going to war. Written seven months before the Cuban Missile Crisis, this formerly top secret proposal by the Joint Chiefs of Staff suggested ways to build public support for an American invasion of Cuba, including: “A ‘Remember the Maine’ incident could be arranged … We could blow up a US ship in Guantanamo Bay and blame Cuba. … [Or] we could develop a Communist Cuban terror campaign in the Miami area, in other Florida cities and even in Washington. … [fostering] attempts on lives of Cuban refugees in the United States even to the extent of wounding.” I have highlighted key passages in the attached seven key pages from the original document. Continue reading

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