Updated: 5/16/2006; 2:35:31 PM.

Current events
Post-9-11 events and analyses


daily link  Sunday, July 25, 2004


Data on the polarized electorate:  Comparing the approval ratings of the president among members of his own party vs. members of the opposition party.   The gap varied between 37-48% through Carter (Nixon was 48%, Eisenhower-Carter under 43%), but rose to 69% under Reagan and 74% for today's Bush.  9:36:20 AM  permalink  

The Quest for the Nonkiller App.: Nonlethal weapons could improve peacekeeping operations: "''What we really want to do,'' Karcher explained, ''is give people more choices between shouting and shooting, more tools between the bullhorn and the bullet.''

[After Somalia, Gen. Zinni assembled]  nonlethals that already had proved effective in law enforcement, including ''sticky foam,'' a sprayable substance that can glue a suspect to the ground; stinger grenades that explode into rubber shrapnel that deters; spikes called caltrops capable of puncturing tires; and many others...

The Active Denial System [relies] on millimeter wave energy to heat the top layer of the skin. ''It causes palpable pain,'' LeVine said, ''and the effect is very universal, all ages and genders.'' And unlike many nonlethal weapons, the A.D.S. can operate beyond small-arms range, enabling an operator to deter a foe long before a potentially fatal clash occurs. ..

[A] truck driving over a blanket-size swatch of spiked netting, [screeches] to a halt as the wheels and axle get caught in the net. Marines used it successfully in Haiti this spring, Karcher said, and a related technology -- webs of fabric shot out of a cannon into the path of oncoming motorboats -- can entangle propellers and keep suspicious small craft from coming too close to warships. ..

the Mobility Denial System is a fluid that can be dispensed from a backpack or a tank. ''It's like a thick goo,'' Karcher explained. ''It has the friction coefficient of wet ice.'' Any area sprayed with it instantly becomes impassable. ''You can't walk on it, drive on it; you can't land or take off an airplane.'' Karcher said he had tried it out himself: ''I resembled the scarecrow in 'The Wizard of Oz.' You really can't stand on it.'' ..

Janet Morris of M2 Technologies would like to see ''calmative agents'' -- weaponized versions of Valium and other drugs -- deployed in battle. ''The current [Chemical Weapons] convention forbids us from using chemical agents to chase people off the battlefield,'' she noted dryly. ''We can't tranquilize them. No, we have to shoot them.'' ..

Some critics of nonlethals argue that even with strict adherence to international treaties, they are still cause for concern. Stephen Goose worries that they will erode the so-called force threshold. While a soldier in Iraq might refrain from using lethal force in certain situations, Goose pointed out, he or she might be tempted to apply nonlethal methods in situations that don't merit it. ..

Still, if weapons like the Active Denial System leave no mark on a victim's body, couldn't they be used for torture? ''There's always that potential,'' Cordone concedes. And Goose adds, ''What happens when some of these weapons get into the hands of militaries with poor human rights records?'' He paints an Orwellian picture in which repressive regimes obtain nonlethal weapons to keep restive populations in check without resorting to the sort of bloodshed that can earn a country unwanted attention. "

  8:56:58 AM  permalink  

Richard Clarke: Honorable Commission, Toothless Report: "What the commissioners did clearly state was that Iraq had no collaborative relationship with Al Qaeda and no hand in 9/11. They also disclosed that Iran provided support to Al Qaeda, including to some 9/11 hijackers. These two facts may cause many people to conclude that the Bush administration focused on the wrong country. They would be right to think that.

Had [the reccommended] changes been made six years ago, they would not have significantly altered the way we dealt with Al Qaeda; they certainly would not have prevented 9/11. Putting these recommendations in place will marginally improve our ability to crush the new, decentralized Al Qaeda, but there are other changes that would help more.  ..

[First, fresh people:] at the F.B.I. and C.I.A., the key posts are held almost exclusively by those who joined young and worked their way up. This has created uniformity, insularity, risk-aversion, torpidity and often mediocrity..

Second, .. we must also place the C.I.A.'s analysts in an agency that is independent from the one that collects the intelligence ..

Either the C.I.A. or the military must create a larger and more capable commando force for covert antiterrorism work, along with a network of agents and front companies working under "nonofficial cover'' ..

The commission properly identified the threat not as terrorism (which is a tactic, not an enemy), but as Islamic jihadism, which must be defeated in a battle of ideas as well as in armed conflict.

We need to expose the Islamic world to values that are more attractive than those of the jihadists. This means aiding economic development and political openness in Muslim countries, and efforts to stabilize places like Afghanistan, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. Restarting the Israel-Palestinian peace process is also vital.

Also, we can't do this alone. In addition to "hearts and minds" television and radio programming by the American government, we would be greatly helped by a pan-Islamic council of respected spiritual and secular leaders to coordinate (without United States involvement) the Islamic world's own ideological effort against the new Al Qaeda."

  8:35:36 AM  permalink  

NYTimes.com 2004 Election Guide: Fantastic interactive tool for visualizing swing state electoral votes, weekly poll results, comparisons to previous elections, and information about the House, Senate, and governor's races.  1:29:07 AM  permalink  

 
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Copyright 2006 © Ken Novak.
Last update: 5/16/2006; 2:35:31 PM.