Saturday, September 26, 2015

RESPONSE TO A CLIMATE CHANGE DENYING FRIEND

By Ronald T. Fox


NOTE:  An old climate change denying friend forwarded me a statement by a person named Patrick Moore that appeared on conservative radio talk show host Dennis Prager's website.  In the statement, Moore expresses skepticism about the validity of climate science.  (See: Patrick Moore on Climate Change). Moore bills himself as a scientist and co-founder of Greenpeace.  Listening to the statement, inspired me to write a response. Please understand, this friend and I have gone back and forth on the global warming question for years. This is just the latest salvo.  I've decided there will be no more.  Have you ever tried arguing with a climate change denier?  I don't need to say more.  Anyway, inspired by the Pope's visit, which my friend panned, I decided to post my response to the friend.  (I'm sending this while on vacation in Switzerland.)


Friend,

I listened to the statement.  Moore doesn’t deny the planet is warming, but since it has also warmed in other centuries, he questions whether the recent spike is a result of human-caused carbon dioxide emissions. OK, call him a climate change skeptic, not a denier. As this view conforms to what you have expressed over the years, I can understand why you forwarded the pronouncement. It’s also your bible, the Wall Street Journal’s position.
 
I won’t attempt to go into the evidence that disputes this position—done that before to no avail (facts don't seem to matter).  Instead I’ll touch on the credibility of Patrick Moore and what’s behind the anti-climate science campaign.
 

Friday, September 11, 2015

OUR WAR AGAINST ISIS: NOTHING SUCCEEDS LIKE FAILURE


NOTE:  The post below was written by Tom Engelhardt and  published on his web site: TomDispatch.com. I'm posting it on Phronesis because it offers a good update to my five-part series on the rise, military success, and expansion of the Islamic State:

September 10, 2015
Tom Engelhardt

TOMGRAM: NICK TURSE, NOTHING SUCCEEDS LIKE FAILURE

Let’s take a moment to consider failure and its options in Washington. The U.S. has been warring with the Islamic State (IS) for more than a year now. The centerpiece of that war has been an ongoing campaign of bombings and air strikes in Syria and Iraq, thousands upon thousands of them.  The military claims that these have resulted in death tolls high enough to stagger any movement. In Iraq, the Obama administration has also launched a major effort, involving at least 3,400 military personnel, to retrain the American-created Iraqi army that essentially collapsed in June 2014. Impending offensives to retake key IS-held cities are regularly announced. In addition, in Syria there is an ongoing $500 million Pentagon effort to find and train a force of “moderate” Syrian rebels to battle IS militants.  Despite such efforts, reports now suggest that the Islamic State is at least as strong now as it was when the U.S. intervened in August 2014.  If anything, from Turkish border areas to al-Anbar Province in Iraq, it has expanded its holdings.  Only recently, its fighters even began to move into the suburbs of Damascus, the Syrian capital.
 

Saturday, September 5, 2015

THE LEGACY OF THE HIROSHIMA MYTH

By Ronald T. Fox


NOTE: Part I (Scrutinizing the Hiroshima Myth and Legacy) and Part II (Why Did the U.S. Drop Atomic Bombs on Japan) of my three-part essay on Hiroshima examined distortions of truth surrounding the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. These distortions formed a mythology about the bombings that has become deeply embedded in the collective American conscience. Part III, below, explores the legacy of the Hiroshima Myth.

Enduring American allegiance to the Hiroshima Myth—or, conversely, our collective failure to confront its truth—has had a profound impact on the United States, both at home and abroad. Perceiving the atomic bomb as a decisive war-winning weapon led most Americans to embrace it as the essential protector of our nation. To be safe, we needed to stockpile nuclear weapons and be prepared to use them, a belief that would spark a massive nuclear arms race in the ensuing decades. Accepting the Hiroshima Myth meant accepting nuclear weapons as a fact of national and international life.
 
The belief that the bomb killed thousands to save millions imparted a moral righteousness to the bomb that today translates into a collective American numbness to matters of mass destruction, even genocide. Almost anything is permissible if used to “save American lives.” This numbness, along with our belief in American exceptionalism and the decisiveness our military power, helps explain why the US is prone to deploying extensive force and using increasingly destructive weapons against perceived international enemies, however unthreatening they may appear to the reasoned mind.