Dedicated to the memory of Technical Sergeant Phillip A. Myers --   a Scholar and a Warrior; a son and a father
Born:   10 March 1979, USA.             Died:   4 April 2009,   Musa Qal'eh, Helmand Province, Afghanistan.

"We will pay for ... greenhouse gas emissions ... And that will involve human lives. There will be a human toll."
-- General Anthony Zinni

"We all stand before history · · · We all stand on trial, · · · for by our actions
we have denigrated our Country and jeopardized the future of our children.
As we subscribe to the sub-normal and accept double standards,
as we lie and cheat openly · · · we elect to make ourselves · · · slaves."

-- Ken Saro-Wiwa        
(He paid with his life.)


"Leaders ... serve as a moral compass that extends ... into the community.
Leaders ... establish an ethical climate that guards against ... moral complacency."
-- U.S. Army / Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Field Manual

"Our national honor is stained."   --   Major General Antonio Taguba

National Security and Natural Security --
the Hidden Costs of Energy.
Democratic Dysfunction and Ethical Deficits --
Blood for Greenhouse Emissions



Content: 92% Open-Source Intelligence, 8% Personal Knowledge.
No classified documents were used in producing this webpage.
No facts were tortured , to confirm pre-existing theories.  


Click to Jump to Article.   This webpage has 3 "layers" of content:   Most readers should click here to jump ahead to the mid-level content layer, which is a revised and expanded version of an article that appeared on Veterans' Day 2009 in the Tahoe Mountain News.

(1.) This Preface gives a high-level overview of our social and political context.   (2.) The main article gives a mid-level description of how most Americans live:   We are embedded in Infrastructures, yet we have no awareness of how our Infrastructures support our freedoms, but also limit our freedom -- our Infrastructures coerce individuals to conform to (increasingly obsolete and unaccountable) bureaucracies.   (3.) At the end are low-level Footnotes. These serve as the low-level "Infrastructure" for this webpage, by providing absolutely vital information -- the "gory details" that we usually don't want to think about. (Footnotes contain HTML Backpointers, allowing easy return to your original reading position in the main text.)

First, I suggest you read this webpage without taking detours into the Footnotes. Second, skim this Preface and the Article again, and do click to read each Footnote as you encounter it. The Footnotes comprise nearly half this webpage. Even if you don't want to know, you need to know this information -- the Footnotes summarize 50+ web links pointing to U.S. military and intelligence articles about our National Security. The Footnotes help "connect the dots" to show how, increasingly, our National Security depends on our Natural Security. This webpage makes the case that our Natural Security is not only dependent on our physical environment's resources and ability to absorb pollution -- Energy Security and Greenhouse Emissions. Equally important our Natural Security depends on our Social environment and our Ethical Climate. Until we recognize and repair our Ethical Deficits, our Democracy will become ever more dysfunctional.

Ultimately, America's National Security depends on the Ethical Security of its individual citizens. Hence, ordinary citizens need to arm themselves with knowledge, to help ethical people in our Security Infrastructure push back against the forces and biases that corrupt democratic values. This webpage "connects the dots" into a big picture -- showing the Unsustainability of our polarized and degraded Social Information Infrastructure.

Note to "liberals" who are mostly concerned about "Peace" and "Saving the Planet":   To achieve your goals, you must learn about Human Security Ecology.   Note to "conservatives" who are mostly concerned about "National Security" and "Economic Growth":   To achieve your goals, you must understand that people everywhere will fight for Food Security and Energy Security -- and that economic assets and income streams are vulnerable to Environmental Deflation -- as "ecosystem services" collapse from the assault of global climate change.   Both "liberals" and "conservatives" must heed Ken Saro-Wiwa's warning that our own moral complacency -- as we destroy our society's ethical climate -- undermines our personal integrity, our national honor, and the social cohesion that Democracy needs for its survival. Ken Saro-Wiwa was correct about where a nation's acceptance of widespread corruption leads:

"As we subscribe to the sub-normal and accept double standards,
as we lie and cheat openly · · · we elect to make ourselves · · · slaves."


We are not as "Green" as we think -- our habits and behaviors cause more harmful impacts to Earth's physical environment than we consciously want to admit. And we are not as "Free" as we think -- our habits and behaviors allow more harmful impacts to our own Mental Environment's Freedom of Thought than we know (or want to consciously admit). The cumulative impacts on individuals' freedom of thought damage America's social environment -- and degrade the common democratic values that, deep down, we all share.

There is a relation between Freedom and Knowledge, and why it seems we are powerless to halt the downward drift of Earth's physical environment, and of America's Social, Economic, and Political Environment. This article is about that relation. It shows how the Infrastructures of (what we call) "Democracy" hide Knowledge from us -- and how those Infrastructures impose Hidden Costs that damage and limit our freedom of thought, and our freedom of action to improve our situation. Those Infrastructures impose a Hidden Tax on our Power to change things. Our individual Power is transferred to a System of increasingly unaccountable, obsolete, and even counter-productive Bureaucracies in government agencies and private corporations -- in which we all work, yet which we feel powerless to change. (But until we learn to develop more holistic social Knowledge structures, and reverse our ethical deficits, we are not competent to change our complex Infrastructures for the better.)

Our social "division of labor" produces great economic benefits. But this imposes a corresponding social "division of knowledge" that entails great ethical costs.   Social responsibility is not merely divided, but it dissipates, degrades, and disintegrates. To dis-integrate responsibility is to destroy our integrity.   In 411 BC in Athens -- the (slave-holding) birthplace of Democracy --   the scientist-historian-warrior Thucydides recognized that a divided social configuration entails both ethical and strategic risks to democracy:   "A nation that divides its scholars from its warriors, will have its thinking done by cowards and its fighting done by fools."   During a more recent crisis of Democracy -- as this nation degenerated into Civil War -- Abraham Lincoln warned that:   "A house divided against itself cannot stand. · · ·   [We] cannot endure, permanently, half-slave and half-free."


Powerful global trends (not merely terrorism) are putting America on the verge of a permanent war footing [1]. The U.S. Army's official Strategic Context recognizes this will be "An Era of Persistent Conflict", in which, "Climate change [is] increasing the potential for humanitarian crises and population migrations ... [and has] increased potential for conflict."   Yet our social configuration is not sustainable for a wartime posture --     It is neither economically viable, ethically sound, socially responsible, nor environmentally sane.    

(If impatient readers need to quickly cram me into the simplistic, polarized American stereotypes of either "Anti-War" or "Strong on Defense", please see this Footnote. [1].)

Our de-facto Information Security policies invite enemies -- both foreign and domestic -- to routinely and ruthlessly exploit security vulnerabilities in our Critical Infrastructures with legal immunity and ethical impunity. Our own Information Ethics practices fail to abide by any common Code of Communicative Ethics to distinguish and identify honorable Friends vs. manipulative Foes.

Our most Critical Infrastructure is a hybrid of two related Systems. It is composed of our Software Information Infrastructure:   the computer "procedural code" and "data" stored in our PCs, networks, and servers -- but also the "computer viruses", "malicious code" and false data stored there. And it is composed of our Mental and Cultural Information Infrastructure:   our "procedural code" of How to do things, our "data" of What is True about things, and our ethical guidance systems of Why to (not) do which things.

But our own Mental and Cultural Information Infrastructures also are "infected by information viruses/biases":   Our knowledge of What is True, How to do things, and Why -- the linkages between our deep underlying Values and their superficial symbols, words, and actions -- are contaminated by Ignorance, by False Beliefs, and by Habits that allow others to hijack our Power to serve their interests, not ours. The Security Vulnerabilities in our computers allow them to be controlled by "hackers" who work for criminal networks and foreign intelligence agencies. The Security Vulnerabilities in our own minds allow our biases to be manipulated by "Information Warlords", when we fail to detect and defend ourselves against subtle Information Warfare attacks. Our Freedom of Thought can be compromised, and our Freedom of Action can be partially enslaved:   "Eternal vigilance is the price of freedom." But by our own moral complacency and lack of vigilance to America's deteriorating ethical climate, we allow ourselves -- we elect -- to become half-slave and half-free.

Our social "architecture of knowledge" constitutes a dysfunctional and degraded Information Apartheid.   The Information Infrastructure in our own Minds threatens both our National Security and our Natural Security. We need to bridge the vast experiential and ethical gulf that now divides most American civilians from the one-half of 1% who serve in our military and intelligence communities.   And we need to bridge the even more vast ethical gulf between who we are as a people -- half-slave and half-free -- and who we could be · · · who we should be.

A window of opportunity is opening, as more people in America's Military and Intelligence Community infrastructures begin to realize the magnitude of the distortions that our "Information Apartheid" biases and knowledge structures inflict on our perceptions and our ethics. A Top Secret security clearance is required to attend NDIC -- our National Defense Intelligence College. But fortunately, NDIC also publishes unclassified books. In one such NDIC book -- "Imperial Secrets: Remapping the Mind of Empire" -- LTC Patrick Kelley describes how our social architectures of knowledge tend to become cognitively dysfunctional and ethically degraded:

"If absolute power corrupts absolutely, it also tends to isolate completely -- twin tendencies any executive authority risks · · · Bureaucracies rise in tandem with that isolation, providing the intellectual equivalent of walls and gates; but subverting that intellectual structure by act of will can prove nearly as impossible as escaping from the physical walls for reasons of either status or security."   (p. 97)

I wrote this article to shed light on some very common misconceptions, that stem from natural psychological biases. These biases distort our perceptions of how the world works (and how it fails). Worse, these biases obscure the ethical responsibility each individual bears for our common successes (and our failures) -- whether that individual is a citizen, a scholar, or a warrior. I hope this information will help people clarify which values really matter, and understand how we might bring our behaviors more in line with the ethical standards that our better selves deserve.

As former U.S. Army Surgeon General James Peake said, "Controversy is seldom comfortable."   But the pursuit of real-world ethics "is intended to illuminate. If we cannot bear to look at past mistakes, -- particularly when they are ours -- we cannot learn from them, and therefore we cannot prevent them in the future."   Rather than keeping our eyes wide shut, as we attempt to "See No Evil" in our own habits and behaviors -- and those of our "Friends" -- let us briefly stand-down from our own domestic "Era of Persistent Conflict" · · · because we are "sustaining friendly-fire casualties" at a rate that, quite simply, is unsustainable. And let us develop some Situation Awareness -- as Abraham Lincoln counseled at the very outset of his "House Divided" speech:   "If we could first know where we are, and whither we are tending, we could better judge what to do, and how to do it."  

The word "bias" is sometimes used to mean a prejudice or a stereotype. I am not using "bias" in that sense. Instead, I use "bias" to refer to social and psychological processes that systematically distort our memories, thinking, and perceptions, ultimately leading to wrong conclusions, faulty judgements, and misconceptions. These cognitive biases have been scientifically demonstrated by experiments in Behavioral Economics and Neuro-Biology (in addition to the more traditional experiments in Psychology).

For thousands of years, human beings have known how to influence one another via our innate biases. So human cultures have evolved both formal Legal Codes and informal Ethical Codes to try to control our Power to manipulate one another's biases -- to temper that Power to control with some Responsibility to respect other people as human beings, and with methods to hold Accountable those who degrade human dignity or violate human rights. But neither our formal Legal Codes nor our informal Ethical Codes have kept pace with the increasingly unaccountable concentrations of power hidden in our Infrastructure Bureaucracies, nor with the rapid advances in scientific knowledge about human Neuro-Biology, Behavioral Economics, and technologies to manipulate people via "Weapons of Mass Deception", "Hidden Persuasion", Structural-Economic "Nudges" (to re-shape the complex multi-dimensional contours of the "level playing field" that never was and never can be), and the Arts of Information Warfare. So this article (and this entire website) offers knowledge about the Security Vulnerabilities embedded in our own minds:   how we can act individually in Self-Defense, and how we must help educate one another -- to improve our National Security and our Natural Security -- as we upgrade our informal Code of Information Ethics. For a helpful introduction to our Mental Security Vulnerabilities via which we allow ourselves to be manipulated, please refer to Wikipedia's entry for Cognitive Bias.



We're Not as Green as we Think:
Infrastructure, Psychology, Risks, and Responsibility


Unfortunately, biases and misconceptions influence all of us. Biases are a natural part of human psychology. They are very common, very contagious, and very damaging to both our natural and social environments.


Biases Distort our Perceptions and our Ethics

It's natural that we all want to believe good things about ourselves. Like the fictional residents of Lake Wobegon, large majorities of us believe we are better than average. For example, 80% of us believe we are better-than-average drivers. Our self-assessments are often unrealistic and inflated -- biased in our favor. Yet we also believe we are far less biased than average!

Cognitive biases often distort our judgements by oversimplifying our complex world. But our modern world grows ever more complex.

Ethics is about values, and tradeoffs among different values. For example, we value our time. So when driving, we can speed to save Time. But that costs more Money for gas (high-speed wind resistance means worse MPG), increases pollution, and imposes more safety Risks on other people.

Studies show that most Americans wrongly believe we are more ethical than average. But the truth is, we are mistaken in predicting how ethically we will behave in the future. And we are even mistaken in recalling how ethically we actually did behave in the past. These innate psychological biases are compounded for Environmental Ethics -- many of us believe we are far more environmentally "green" than is actually true.


Invisible Impacts:   Hype the Benefits, but Hide the Costs

One big problem is that most of our social and environmental impacts are not directly or immediately visible. For example, many consumer products contain or emit invisible carcinogens. Years later, somebody gets cancer, but the connection between cause and effect is invisible. We discover the deadly impacts to our (inner) environment, only by complicated scientific studies -- in which our own bodies have unwittingly served as guineau pigs.

Obviously, if the carcinogenic impacts of that consumer product had been advertised in big red letters on the label, nobody would have paid for the privilege of poisoning themselves (unless they were already addicted).   Millions of American women trusted drug company claims that Hormone Replacement Therapy would benefit their health. Instead, it caused a spike in breast cancer rates, strokes, and lung cancer fatalities.

Likewise, if we had known the environmental damage that MTBE would cause to our water, we never would have allowed it in gasoline. And if more Americans had paid attention to Reality, and objected to the Risk that Wall Street's Financial Weapons of Mass Destruction imposed on our economy, we could have avoided immense human suffering. Products often carry Hidden Costs.

Economists call pollution a form of "Market Failure": The price tag on the product conceals the true environmental and social costs. Economists say those true costs are "externalized" -- i.e, imposed -- on other people, on the environment, and on our future.


Infrastructures:   Invisible and Habit-forming

The consumer products we buy are just the visible tip of an invisible iceberg. Behind each product is a huge invisible supply chain bureaucracy involving extraction of raw materials (e.g, mining, drilling, logging), production lines (sometimes involving slave labor and toxic chemicals), advertising to consumers (often manipulative and deceptive), bribes and lobbying of politicians (for tax exemptions or subsidies, and to weaken regulatory laws that protect consumers or the environment), and distribution (usually involving petroleum-powered transport). So each consumer product involves an entire "Industrial Ecology Lifecycle" -- from extraction to disposal (or hopefully, recycling).

In modern societies, human beings are partly "manufactured products": From cradle to grave, our "freely-chosen" Lifestyles are supported -- but also shaped and limited -- by the "Menu" of choices available for Technological Infrastructure. We learn how to use Technological Products and Infrastructure to achieve our goals. In so doing, we are trained by those Products and Infrastructure -- we develop deeply-ingrained Habits.

The choices advertised on the menu offer us new technologically-turbo-charged Freedoms, whose benefits are obvious to the buyer. (Otherwise, nobody would buy those Products.)   But often, the Product-Infrastructure imposes Hidden Costs and Risks:   on the buyer, on other people, · · · on our Future Freedom.

One hidden cost is that our Habits can gradually become addictions that are self-destructive (individually, and/or socially).   In his 2006 State of the Union address, President Bush admitted: "We have a serious problem: America is addicted to oil, which is often imported from unstable parts of the world." In his 2007 State of the Union address, President Bush finally admitted our addiction to oil threatened major climate consequences, and so we must: "confront the serious challenge of global climate change."

(In the early 1900's, electric vehicles were the single most popular transportation choice available on the Technological Infrastructure "menu". But that choice was removed by General Motors and Standard Oil. They were eventually convicted of a conspiracy to monopolize, but by then it was too late -- that choice was off the "menu".)

Even electric vehicles can be terrible for the environment if they are charged by electrical-generating Infrastructure that burns coal.   Matching "green" consumer Products with our old, environmentally-harmful Habits, and with compatible new "green" Infrastructure, can be a 3-way Chicken-and-Egg problem.

After we've made our Menu choices, and those choices have colored our preferences, influenced our goals, and we've been trained by Products and Infrastructures to form Habits, the status-quo bias makes it psychologically hard for us to recognize that we were never allowed a completely free and fully-informed choice about forming our old habits. Instead, to participate in modern society, we meekly and blindly conform to limited menu "choices" presented to us by Corporations and Government policies, seldom asking critical questions about their hidden costs, risks, and consequences.

The motto of the 1933 World's Fair was, "Science discovers, ... industry applies, and man ... is molded by ... industry."   Henry David Thoreau recognized this dynamic in 1845, writing in his Journal that, "Men have become the tools of their tools".   In 2010, Economic Nobel-prizewinner Joseph Stiglitz writes, "We allowed markets to blindly shape our economy, but in doing so, they also shaped our society. · · · Are we sure that the way that they have been molding us is what we want?" [2]

Some Infrastructure is public, some privately owned. All of it tends to become invisible to us. "Out of sight, out of mind." (The choices that are not available on the "Lifestyle menu" are doubly-invisible! In a tragic waste of human potential, many Americans never realize that the best alternative to any Life-Style is to live a Substantive Life.)


Infrastructures:   Benefits, Costs, Risks, and Responsibilities

We assume that when we go to buy groceries, the shelves will be stocked. We take for granted that water will come out of the faucet, and electricity from the wall outlet. We assume our trash and sewage will "disappear" on schedule.

We assume that when an Angora Fire happens, government agencies (and private-sector "Critical Infrastructure" like Barton Hospital) will already have done all necessary training, logistics planning, and inter-agency liaison procedures necessary to protect our Lifestyle.

Clearly, INFRASTRUCTURE has benefits. But it also has environmental and social costs and risks. Some of those costs are "internalized" in economic values -- the visible prices, taxes, and fees we pay. Other costs and risks are "externalized" -- temporarily invisible to us.

Each American OUTSOURCES many responsibilities and harmful impacts:   Corporate and government Infrastructures and bureaucracies do our "dirty work" for us. We outsource our oil spills to Exxon, and we outsource our child labor law violations to Wal-Mart.   We outsource serving in our Armed Forces to "other people's kids", and we outsource our moral responsibility for tough decisions about lethal military actions to warmongering pundits, fulltime peace-niks, or elite commisars in our military-industrial complex. We doubly outsourced our war crimes -- to contractors not subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice, and to lawyers who seem unaccountable to the U.S. Constitution -- and that deeply troubles the honorable people who serve in the U.S. military. [3]

Even worse, many of us have outsourced our responsibility for independent Critical Thinking [4] to people who distort facts, and who turn every complex issue into a simplistic argument between "We" who are Right, and "They" who are Wrong.

Bias Reminder:   "They" are always infected with bias; but "We" are always immune to bias!


Carbon Infrastructures:   Risks and Responsibilities

Each of us is responsible for our share of harmful impacts from the Industrial Ecology and the Infrastructure that supports modern lifestyles. We've recognized many impacts, and dealt with some of them better than others. Today, the most threatening environmental impacts are caused by "Greenhouse Emissions" -- such as carbon dioxide (CO2) that have already destabilized Earth's climate. The global climate has warmed enough that already, methane emissions are being released from the permafrost, the arctic tundra, and the ocean hydrates. We may live to see the start of another Methane Catastrophe like the end-Permian extinction 250 million years ago that wiped out 90% of all life on Earth · · · but if so, we will not live to see its end:   "Climate is a wild beast, and we are poking it with sticks."

The world's richest half-billion people -- 7% of the global population -- are responsible for 50% of the world's carbon dioxide emissions. Meanwhile the poorest 50% -- who will bear the brunt of climate change impacts -- are responsible for just 7% of emissions. The average American's Greenhouse emissions equal those of 4 Chinese, 20 Indians, 40 Nigerians, or 250 Ethiopians.

Already, one billion people go hungry every day. Climate change impacts on agriculture are projected to make food more scarce, and more expensive for the world's poorest people. Last year, riots over high food prices in poor countries toppled some governments. (Feeding corn ethanol to our cars is bad socially and environmentally.)

(After taking this Pulitzer Prize-winning photo
of a plump vulture stalking another famine-stricken child in Sudan,
Kevin Carter sat under a tree for a long time, "smoking cigarettes and crying."
This young war photographer "always carried around the horror of his work".
He became another PTSD-suicide.)

Tahoe Infrastructures Multiply our Carbon Footprints

But here in Tahoe, we're much greener than the average American, right? Unfortunately, that's probably very wrong. Instead, the average Tahoe person is probably less green than the average New York City resident. [5]

Why? Because of different Infrastructures, and because urban dwellers' denser Infrastructure gives them better "economies of scale", both when measured in cash (that's why consumer products are cheaper "off the hill"), and when measured by "outsourced" environmental impacts. This is called "Location Efficiency".

For a convincing visual proof on the Web, visit "htaindex.cnt.org". Click on the "Sacramento-Yolo" region of their map. Then click on "Greenhouse Gas Impacts". This will show 2 views of the Sacramento-Yolo region. The first map shows CO2 emissions per acre from driving cars. Since urban areas have dense traffic, each urban acre emits lots of CO2. The second map shows CO2 emissions per household from driving cars. In the second view, it is clear that folks like us who live in rural areas emit far more CO2 per person (on average) than do urban dwellers.

Tahoe probably has even worse Greenhouse emissions per person than the average U.S. rural area for several reasons:

(1) All our sewage must be pumped up 1200 vertical feet, out of the Basin. That's why STPUD is the largest user of electric power in the entire Basin. And 32% of its Sierra-Pacific power comes from burning coal -- the most environmentally-damaging of all power sources!

(2) All our food must be trucked up 6000 vertical feet from sea level, along with every other consumer product (except locally grown pine nuts). And being a "Destination Resort" means we're at the end of a distribution chain -- there's nobody "further up the road" to share the transport costs.

(3) Road building and maintenance harms human health directly via air pollution, besides its huge greenhouse emissions. Here in Tahoe, snow removal operations and the extra maintenance caused by our harsh winters means even greater than average impacts.


Globalized Infrastructure: Hidden Costs of Carbon Energy

"Hidden Costs of Energy", a 10/09 report by the National Research Council (i.e, the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine, established by a Congressional Charter signed by President Abraham Lincoln), puts the Lifecycle pollution costs of coal-generated electricity at $62 Billion per year. Lifecycle pollution damages from motor vehicles totalled $56 Billion, not counting road building and maintenance. Those numbers do NOT yet include any climate change costs!

Our Infrastructure is global -- we depend on imported energy and products, and our corporations depend on global supply chains protected by the U.S. military in its role as "global policeman". The bipartisan American Security Project estimates our military spends between $50 and $132 Billion annually just to protect oil supplies. (That does not include protecting our natural gas import supply chains.)

Despite an international force that includes the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet, pirates recently hijacked a second VLCC-class oil tanker. It was en route from Saudi Arabia to New Orleans, carrying 2 million barrels of oil worth roughly $150 million. [6]


Carbon Emissions Multiply our National Security Threats

National Security experts call climate change a "Threat Multiplier for instability in some of the most volatile regions of the world." General Charles Wald warns that, "America's current energy posture constitutes a serious and urgent threat to our national security."   He warns that, "Climate change will lead to an increase in conflicts, and an increase in conflict intensity, all across the globe."   Climate change will, "make all our existing National Security threats much greater."

General Anthony Zinni was Commander of U.S. CENTCOM -- all our Mideast troops. He also was the Chair in Ethics at the Virginia Military Institute. General Zinni recognizes that dealing with our greenhouse emissions involves tradeoffs between different values.   General Zinni wrote:

"We will pay for this one way or another.
We will pay to reduce greenhouse gas emissions today ...
Or we will pay the price later in military terms.
And that will involve human lives.
There will be a human toll."

The remains of Technical Sgt. Phillip A. Myers arriving at Dover Air Force Base.
Sgt. Myers was the leader of a team tasked with disarming explosive devices.
As a scholar, he earned the U.S. Air Force Civil Engineer of the Year Award.
As a warrior, he earned both the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star   for valor.
Sgt. Myers died while protecting his unit from an IED in Afghanistan on April 4, 2009.
At the memorial service in Kandahar, Capt. Robert Scott spoke of Sgt. Myers'
humility as a leader, and his care in educating other team members:
"The impression he left people with was awe ... he personified excellence."

Those who serve in our Military Infrastructure remind us that "Freedom isn't free!" Many of them have paid the ultimate price to protect the globalized Infrastructure, which supports American civilians' unthinking and indulgent "Freedom to consume Products". The Hidden Costs of Energy are subsidized by human lives. Our Freedom entails taking Responsibility for the Risks we impose on other people. As energy consumers, we must take responsibility, not only for changing some consumer habits and some consumer products, but also for doing our part -- as citizens -- to change our Energy Infrastructure and Policies.

General Gordon Sullivan, former U.S. Army Chief of Staff, said, "Climate instability will lead to instability in geopolitics and impact American military operations around the world. People are saying they want to be perfectly convinced about climate science projections. But speaking as a soldier, we never have 100 percent certainty. If you wait until you have 100 percent certainty, something bad is going to happen on the battlefield."


Accountability: Who is Responsible for Improving Infrastructures?

It's not our job to be experts in Risk Management, or in Infrastructure Science and Engineering. But it is our responsibility to detect attempts by politicians, corporations, and military brass to manipulate our biases via misinformation, [7] by distorting risks, and by simplistic "easy answers".

We must think critically about how best to minimize and prepare for risks; to adapt to globalized economic, social, and environmental changes; and to hold our Infrastructure bureaucracies accountable for doing the right things -- before the next crisis, not after.   The destruction of New Orleans by Hurricane Katrina, and the destruction of Iraq -- including over 4,000 U.S. troops killed   AFTER   President Bush's declaration that "Major combat operations in Iraq have ended." -- shows what happens when citizens -- and soldiers -- neglect to hold their Infrastructure bureaucracies accountable ... until it's too late!

In 2007, the Armed Forces Journal published a scathing indictment by an active-duty officer, that accused senior military brass of lacking the "moral courage · · · to provide Congress with an accurate and candid assessment of strategic probabilities [in Iraq]".   LTC Paul Yingling wrote of the need for accountability, and he noted that, "a private who loses a rifle suffers far greater consequences than a general who loses a war." LTC Yingling later told a reporter that -- with a few exceptions like Army Chief of Staff General Eric Shinseki (and the retired Generals like Anthony Zinni that are quoted in this article), who had the courage to publicly state that "several hundred thousand soldiers" would be necessary to stabilize post-Saddam Iraq -- "Our generals are not worthy of their soldiers."

(Whose fault is it, if a Public Utility District or Water Company bureaucracy fails to charge its ratepayers to upgrade the system for many years? If you use those Infrastructures, look in the mirror while you blame those bureaucracies.)

Psychological biases are a natural part of being human. Our own biases are invisible to us, but can be obvious to others. Apparently many people who live near Lake Tahoe believe that, since we love outdoor recreation, we're already "green", so we don't need government subsidies [8] like STPUD's Turf-Buyback program to get us to do the right thing.

Money talks. If we want to change our own habits, we should recognize that we are influenced by visible economic costs and benefits. We like "free" stuff, but often there are hidden costs [9] that undermine our future freedom. (Think credit cards!) Modern Freedom is seldom free of complexity. Today's world of complex technological infrastructures means there are usually tradeoffs among conflicting values and risks -- some are immediately visible, but other costs and risks are hidden.

We all depend on public and private Infrastructures to survive. It's hard to hold corporate bureaucracies accountable. But government agencies work for us. As citizens, it is OUR responsibility to learn about how our Infrastructure works, so we can ask the right questions when we monitor the performance of our government agencies today, and when we assess their progress in preparing for future risks and upgrades.


Vice Admiral Dennis McGinn, former Deputy Chief of Naval Operations, emphasized the responsibility of every American to support new Policies to upgrade our Energy Infrastructure:

"There are individual steps every American can take. Using less energy, being more efficient with energy,
supporting new policies to help our country take a new energy path --
these are the steps that can help us avoid or shorten wars in the future. These are steps that can save lives. They will cost money, yes. But if we don't spend that money now, we'll still pay, and much more.
We'll just pay in American lives."


Freedom isn't free.   One way or another, somebody pays for our freedom.   It is our responsibility, as citizens and as consumers, to spend the time necessary to train ourselves so we can understand, operate, upgrade, and reform the complex Infrastructures of Democracy.   [reform]






NOTES              
(Return to: Original position in Main Text by clicking on these symbols:   _^_   )


_v_     [1]_^_ I am not claiming that having America on a permanent war footing is good or bad, per se. The contours of Power always induce war postures -- somewhere.   And there will be no permanent power vacuum in this world.   Power relations will always manifest, whatever the Security Ecology -- the mix of empires, states, global policemen, regional warlords, and geographically-distributed "Non-State Actors". (Non-State Actors typically are either 'lawful' corporations; or 'criminal' networks who -- unlike legal actors -- lack the courtesy to pay politicians, think-tanks, and judges to rewrite or selectively-enforce the laws in their favor).

As George Orwell looked back on his youth, he wrote this, more mature, insight regarding the persistence of oppressive Power Relations:

"I had already made up my mind that imperialism was an evil thing ...
I was all for the Burmese and all against their oppressors, the British ...
But I could get nothing into perspective. I was young and ill-educated ...

I did not even know that the British Empire is dying,
still less did I know that it is a great deal better than
the younger empires that are going to supplant it
."

For those readers who feel a need to quickly cram me into the simplistic American stereotypes of either "Anti-War" or "Strong on Defense", human realities are more complex than a polarized 1-dimensional spectrum.   (90% of the people in Afghanistan are illiterate, yet they understand these complexities. Ask yourself why Americans don't. Then ask yourself who wins, when the American public allows manipulative politicians and "pundits" to herd us downhill into simplistic political food-fights!   Hint -- our troops lose; innocent foreign civilians lose.)   If you want to address simplistic National Security stereotypes now, please skip forward into the middle of this other Footnote, regarding War Ethics in the multi-dimensional context of food security, environmental security, information security, and economic stability.

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_v_     [2]_^_ _^_ In modern societies, human beings are partly manufactured products -- we are molded by Infrastructure. We meekly and blindly CONFORM to limited "choices" on the "menu" of Technological Infrastructure, seldom asking critical questions about their hidden costs, risks, and consequences:   Alasdaire MacIntyre, the great moral philosopher, put it thusly:

"Politically the societies of advanced Western modernity are oligarchies disguised as liberal democracies.
The large majority of those who inhabit them are excluded from membership in the elites that determine the range of alternatives between which voters are permitted to choose. And the most fundamental issues are excluded from that range of alternatives."

In, The Whale and the Reactor, Langdon Winner wrote:

"In the technical realm, we repeatedly enter into a series of Social Contracts,
the terms of which are revealed only after the signing."

In our 1993/1996 book, Invisible Crises, I sketched the co-evolutionary process, which "molds" modern human beings into partly "manufactured products". I described how our thinking is shaped -- and our ability to imagine alternatives is limited -- by the "Menu" of highly visible choices we perceive as "acceptable options" for personal growth and social progress. I outlined how we are trained by our Products and Infrastructures ("goods and services") to internalize Habits of thinking that mentally confine our own freedom of thought:

      Biological adaptation is a two-way process of co-evolution: the environment shapes the organisms, and the organisms in turn alter the environment. Similarly, generations of technological evolution produce a series of "built environments" that, in turn, affect the human cultures enclosed within them.
      But societies are not monolithic, and the co-evolution of technology with society is strongly influenced by socio-economic power relations. · · ·
      Even in an ostensibly free market, the dominant social groups and economic institutions influence the next generation of technological development by embedding their own (often unconscious) biases, value judgements, and social "rules" in the new technological designs. Other social strata then adapt their lifestyles to the constrained technological choices available in their new cultural environment. In this manner, the dominant socio-economic power relations tend to be reproduced -- and amplified -- in the technological enclosures that arise to surround the lower social strata. "Relations of power, subsumed into the functioning of technology, become automatic and invisible."
        · · · the much-vaunted "consumer choice" of modernity. As the public sphere erodes, the public space available for community fragments, leaving individuals isolated inside shrinking private spaces -- corporate-designed technological enclosures such as the automobile and the "home entertainment center."   While mentally confined within these cells, individuals are "indulged with perfect liberty" to choose among the commodities advertised as individual "solutions" to collective social problems. ... citizens and consumers are bombarded with targeted images as symbolic substitutes for freedom and community, thereby dissipating the forces available for genuine social change. · · ·
      Thus, for citizens, "'free time' becomes increasingly subordinated to the 'labor' of consumption." People literally spend their time trying to buy their freedom and happiness. What is portrayed as individual freedom under the rubric of "consumer choice" is increasingly restricted to a constrained set of outcomes that pose no threat to the established order.

In a 1946 Preface to his 1932 "Brave New World", Aldous Huxley wrote that it was crucial to understand the relationship between Sanity, Science, and Adaptation:

"I remain ... sadly certain ... that sanity is a rather rare phenomenon. I am convinced that it can be achieved and would like to see more of it. · · · Between the [dystopia of Brave New World] and the primitive [lifestyle chosen by Huxley's character, the 'Savage'] would lie the possibility of sanity · · · [in which] Science and technology would be used as though ... they had been made for man, not (as at present and still more so in the Brave New World) as though man were to be adapted and enslaved to them."

We can adapt to anything, but should we? The specialized division of labor that produces such obvious economic benefits, can impose significant Ethical costs, but often they occur gradually and invisibly. Will our ethical alarm systems warn us, as change happens gradually? Or will our Ethical Immune Systems themselves gradually become too degraded to react, like the physical immune systems of people with AIDS are gradually weakened by the HIV virus?

We did adapt to rivers catching on fire -- for 100 years!   Ever since 1868, Americans had considered it "normal" and "natural" for rivers like the Cuyahoga in Ohio to ignite. The 1952 fire caused over $1.5 million in damage! The 1969 fire was comparatively small, but the perspectives and concepts of "environmentalism" had grown. The Social Climate had changed, alarms sounded in our Culture's newly-strengthened Ethical Immune Systems, and the American people -- collectively -- decided that the old adaptations were producing a world that was no longer worth living in. We clarified our values, we helped each other learn to recognize Threats to our values, and we took actions to safeguard what we really valued.

We can adapt to a specialization of labor, in which some of us work an 8-hour day -- herding Jews into Concentration Camp gas chambers -- while the rest of us work a 25-hour day -- keeping our eyes wide shut.
But should we?

We can adapt to the invisible Infrastructure of a Surveillance State, in which, for every 25 people, 1 of us works fulltime for the secret police, or is a regular Stasi informer. (Under East German law, failing to inform on an acquaintance was a crime. Under America's Fugitive Slave Act, failing to turn-in an escaped slave was a crime.)
But is that kind of world really worth living in?

And in America, we did adapt to the Invisible Infrastructure of a Surveillance State, in which most of our surveillance is outsourced to unaccountable private contractors and corporations, who, in turn, outsource that surveillance to digital wiretapping machines made by corporations with close ties to foreign intelligence agencies.
But should we have adapted? Having failed to prevent this concentration of surveillance power, should we not, now, demand to know the details, and insist on some ability to verify that the oversight mechanisms are adequate to hold this surveillance power accountable to democratic control?

The age-old question of, "Who will watch the Watchers?" has become far more critical, given the computer-assisted concentration of surveillance power now built-in to America's digital Information Infrastructure. The "division of labor" -- and the social "division of knowledge" -- between those few elites who wield Technological Power, and the majority of the American public who meekly and blindly adapt to whatever Technological Infrastructure "choices" appear on their "menu" (and whose Hidden Costs are initially concealed, then revealed only after the signing of that Social Contract) is a significant threat to democracy. I know, because federal government agencies paid me to research and develop computer-security and digital surveillance architectures, long before the World Wide Web even existed. And (like many others), I tried to warn the American public.   In our 1993/1996 "Invisible Crises", I wrote that creating such a high concentration of surveillance-power was extremely risky if we value democracy: "This technology carries a similar risk to that of atomic power: It must be safeguarded from misuse for generations. Just as stockpiled plutonium represents concentrated military power, and thus must be guarded in perpetuity, so centralized mass-surveillance technology offers concentrated social power, and presents a long-lived irresistible temptation -- an attraction that eventually may prove fatal to democracy."

Thanks to George Orwell, "Big Brother" has become a permanent "template" in our Culture's Ethical Immune System Library -- we detect something suspicious, we compare it to our "Big Brother" template, and this helps us defend ourselves against obvious, visible Threats to democracy. (Psychologically, we are so sensitized to this type of Threat, that not only do we suffer Auto-Immune "friendly-fire" casualties from numerous "False-Positive" alarms, but it also trains us to mistakenly think of Government as monolithic. Due to this misconception, we fail to detect other kinds of Threats to democracy.)

Our "Big Brother" concept blinds us to the fact that, in reality, Government structure is fragmented into numerous "Little Brothers" -- isolated and insulated Bureaucracies and Agencies, who do not "play together well". These "Little Brothers" are running around without proper adult supervision by citizens. Often, these "Little Brothers" get us into Big Trouble, especially when our Regulatory Agencies are captured by the corporations they are supposed to be monitoring. "Regulatory Capture" occurs when Democracy plays a Zone-Defense, and the public fails to detect an attack as opposing Corporate Players "flood the Zone" defended by one Little Brother. Heightened vulnerability to Regulatory Capture is a result of our Social "Division of Knowledge-Labor".   (Centralized government is risky. Decentralized government is risky. Government too small or too weak to stand up to devious, powerful opponents is risky. Welcome to the real world. How to defend ourselves? Why is eternal vigilance the price of freedom? Because "It is the common fate of the indolent, to see their rights become a prey to the active.")

Unfortunately, Aldous Huxley's "Brave New World" template is not a standard item in our Culture's Ethical Immune System Library:   We must recognize that our natural psychological biases render us vulnerable to gradual cultural drift, to the insidious degradation of ethical climate change, and to both intentional exploitation and unanticipated consequences that capture our Infrastructures -- creating invisible Behavioral-Economic "Nudges" to which we then uncritically adapt:
Power Relations, embedded in the menu of Infrastructure "services", become automatic and invisible.

Neil Postman warned us not to equate adaptation with sanity: "It is possible to have a nation of adapters who are really quite insane." So to maintain our "sanity", the American public works a 25-hour day keeping our eyes wide shut -- while the outward forms of our democracy remain intact, yet the inner controls of democracy are hijacked.   But should we adapt to this gradual degradation?   Our socially "Dysfunctional Division of Knowledge-Labor" has produced a specialized compartmented social configuration -- a "Mental Apartheid" dividing scholars and warriors from other citizens. This threatens our collective Ethics of freedom and democracy; and it threatens our individual Integrity as human beings. As the Athenian warrior and historian Thucydides warned in 411 BC, we all risk becoming cowards or fools, and slaves.

                   Academics close their eyes; · · · "Pushing boundaries is unwise."
                   Narrowed minds in shrinking fields; · · · Boiling Frogs with blind eyes peeled.

In 1952, 7 years after World War II, the German government granted patents to the specialized, highly-educated scientists, engineers, and doctors who designed the concentration camp gas chambers:

"Basically, I exploited the phenomenon of the technician's often blind devotion to his task. Because of what appeared to be the moral neutrality of technology, these people were without scruples about their activities."
            -- Albert Speer (Hitler's Minister of Commerce & Industry)

What new wonders might soon appear on our Menu of "choices", and can we afford them? Should we? Do the American people have any inkling what their specialized technological elites are pursuing in the fields of Nanotechnology, Neuro-Biology, and (perhaps even competitive, weaponized) Geo-Engineering? Do "They" know what's best for us? I'm sure they do. That's why these wonderful new "choices" (some affordable only to the elites themselves, and to specialized "National Security" bureaucracies) are being marketed under the designer-label of "Technologies of Human Enhancement".
(All our lives will be "enhanced"! · · · But some of us will be more enhanced than others.)

                   Cyborg stake thru human heart: · · · Transistor Ethics? Not real smart!
                   Nanotech in Frankenstein? · · · Gray Goo brain; Trans-Human slime.

To "enhance" a line from Arlo Guthrie's "Presidential Rag":   "You are the ones who shut your eyes, so you must take the blame · · · For handing out authority to men who are insane."   The American public must learn to open your eyes. You must develop the Moral Courage to see the Threat of evil, to hear the Threat of evil, and to speak out against the Threat of evil -- even when evil conceals itself in the guise of "morally-neutral" Technologies and elite Infrastructure Bureaucracies.

You must avoid simplistic overgeneralizations -- perhaps the most debilitating idea is that any Bureaucracy or government agency is monolithic. (Only fools parrot phrases like, "The Government", or "The Market" -- as though these were single, unified things.) You have allies, and potential allies, inside every bureaucracy -- "Double Agents for Democracy" -- whose ethical orientation you should learn to detect, and whose internal bureaucratic efforts you should learn to support. Consider the case of former corporate healthcare executive -- and Information-Warrior for the Dark Side -- Wendell Potter -- who experienced his "Road to Damascus" conversion when he saw American citizens camped-out in animal stalls, in order to get the healthcare they desperately needed.

Consider the case of current FBI Director Robert Mueller, III.   In 1992, as a young lawyer at the Dept. of Justice, he participated in carving-out a legal "Safe Harbor" exemption for electronic surveillance via keystroke monitoring, despite objections by researchers like me who had developed these systems, and civil liberties organizations like (what is now) EPIC.   Digital surveillance issues on the "Electronic Frontier" constitute a "complex ethical environment" -- every bit as problematic as described in FM 3-24, the U.S. Army and Marine Corps' Counterinsurgency Field Manual. Sharp legal lines can easily be drawn, but they seldom correspond to practical ethical fault lines. FBI Director Robert Mueller understood the "slippery slope" toward an unaccountable Surveillance State that he helped create in 1992, which is why he was able to recognize how precariously-balanced Democracy was, on a steep downhill glidepath toward Dictatorship. That's why FBI Director Mueller authorized the use of lethal force against Alberto Gonzalez, as he rushed to the dramatic 3/10/04 confrontation at the hospital bedside of Attorney General John Ashcroft. (Deputy Attorney General James Comey confirmed this, in 5/15/07 Senate Judiciary Committee Testimony. Search for "under any circumstances".)   On such slender threads of ethical knowledge and moral courage among three men, did Democracy depend on that day.  

If you -- the American public -- had accepted the burden of more knowledge, more responsibility, and more courage, our Political and Technological options on the "menu of Democracy" never would have narrowed, and funnelled us into that dangerous ambush. (For an educating -- and hair-raising -- antidote to our naturally-biased tendency to view "Government" as monolithic, please read this account of "Soft Power Domestic Violence" -- Information Warfare inside the Executive Branch.)

The American public must learn to stand up on their hind legs and demand a wider range of alternative choices. You must help educate each other to make more fully-informed choices -- to consider the ethical context, and to recognize Threats to our Social Climate of democratic values. Friends don't let friends degenerate into moral cowards, or accept simplistic "easy answers" and become stupidly-brave fools manipulated as tools by unethical ideological and religious warlords. You must take responsibility for grounding us, as a Reality-based community -- despite all the entertaining distractions, simplistic comforting delusions, and outright lies that pollute our Cultural Information Environment. You must demand; you must order off the menu · · · served to you by specialized elites.   Whose interests are really being served by this system?     Who is being served?   Are you on the menu?

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_v_     [3]_^_ Outsourcing our responsibility for "dirty work" war crimes deeply troubles honorable people in the U.S. military:   (This is a detailed footnote for Americans concerned about our Military Ethics, and the unsustainable Social Ethics of our civilian divisions of labor, delusions of real knowledge, and denials of responsibility.)   We doubly-outsource some of our security operations to "Armed Private Security Contractors" ("APSCs" -- i.e, mercenaries). This further weakens the democratic chain of accountability. Not until 2007 was the Uniform Code of Military Justice extended to cover APSCs. But despite Veterans' efforts to close other legal loopholes, legal frameworks cannot compensate for lack of ethical foundations. The situation overseas with unethical security ops has become so bad, that despite hearing arguments from Erik Prince, CEO of "Xe" (formerly Blackwater), the U.S. Naval Academy's Stockdale Center for Ethical Leadership issued this statement, urging that mercenaries be banned from combat areas:

Ethical Violations · · · among armed private security contractors (APSCs) · · · include insensitivity to the local populace, aggressive use of force, and other operating procedures that undermine counterinsurgency (COIN) objectives. · · ·
Law, Character, and Combat: · · · the normal rule of law -- and attendant mechanisms for oversight and punishment -- has deteriorated. As a result, the use of deadly force must be entrusted only to those whose training, character and accountability are most worthy of the nation's trust:   the military. The military profession carefully cultivates an ethic of "selfless service," and develops the virtues that can best withstand combat pressures and thus achieve the nation's objectives in an honorable way. By contrast, most corporate ethical standards and available regulatory schemes are ill-suited for this environment. We therefore conclude that contractors should not be deployed as security guards, sentries, or even prison guards within combat areas. APSCs should be restricted to appropriate support functions and those geographic areas where the rule of law prevails. In irregular warfare (IW) environments, where civilian cooperation is crucial, this restriction is both ethically and strategically necessary.

Some Americans will be skeptical of these noble-sounding ideals. Older Americans remember the My Lai massacre, and the techniques taught to Latin American death squads at the U.S. Army's School of the Americas. Younger Americans recall the sadistic abuse and torture of thousands of innocent Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib -- and the subsequent whitewash of culpability to coverup command-chain complicity in that ethical rot. Indeed, all these incidents constitute indelible marks of shame both for America, and for our military.

But for any individual, there is a gap between our ideal ethical standards and our actual achievements. And individual ethical defects -- when combined together in a Social Institution -- tend to amplify, rather than reduce, the scale of ethical problems, as Reinhold Niebuhr's 1932 "Moral Man and Immoral Society: A Study of Ethics and Politics" emphasizes.

No military will ever achieve fully ethical performance. But many in the U.S. military continue to put their lives on the line, trying to uphold higher ethical standards than most American civilians have ever attempted. The U.S. Naval Academy's Stockdale Center for Ethical Leadership hosts an annual Moral Courage Lecture.   For many years, until his death, this lecture was given by helicopter pilot Hugh Thompson -- one of the heroes who risked his life to stop the My Lai massacre, by turning his guns on the American war criminals.   Hugh Thompson describes how, for 30 years, he was vilified as a traitor and endured death threats, by people who wanted to erase from history, the stain of the My Lai massacre on America's conscience. Finally, in 1998, these heroes were given the prestigious Soldier's Medal, and asked to teach the next generation of American military leaders how to maintain honor and ethical integrity in combat. After hearing Thompson's lecture, Moral Courage in Combat: The My Lai Story, one Marine Officer stated the lesson clearly:   'Never again' is the bottom line." Said Mr. Thompson, "If I can ... impress just one person to make the right decision, it will be worth it."

But -- as individuals and via our Social Institutions -- we inevitably fall short of our ideals. After Thompson's death, Major General Antonio Taguba's Ethical Leadership lecture described how -- despite his Abu Ghraib investigation that documented high-level command-chain complicity in the scandal -- only the junior enlisted personnel received significant punishment. Taguba's integrity and diligence in pursuing his investigative task, effectively ended his career. But like his father -- who survived the war crime known as the Bataan Death March -- Major General Taguba continued to do his duty. In his Preface to "Broken Laws, Broken Lives", Taguba writes:

"Our national honor is stained · · · we can see the full scope of the damage this illegal and unsound policy has inflicted -- both on America's institutions and our nation's founding values, which the military, intelligence services, and our justice system are duty-bound to defend. · · · there is no longer any doubt as to whether the [former] administration has committed war crimes. The only question · · · is whether those who ordered [it] will be held to account."

The U.S. military can ill afford to purge ethical leaders like Taguba, because the military's failure to uphold high ethical standards constitutes a major self-inflicted wound that impairs the effectiveness of its "COIN" (COunter-INsurgency) operations, and endangers the lives of our own troops and of innocent non-combatants. The U.S. Army / Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Field Manual FM 3-24 emphasizes the importance of maintaining ethical conduct during combat, despite the emotional toll of combat stress. Temporary emotional attitudes against noncombatants are understandable. But emotional actions that threaten mission accomplishment are unacceptable. An extended excerpt explains why ethics is essential:

" Chapter 7: Leadership and Ethics for Counterinsurgency · · · Today's Soldiers and Marines ... must also rapidly adapt cognitively and emotionally to the perplexing challenges of counterinsurgency and master new competencies as well as new contexts. Those in leadership positions must provide the moral compass for their subordinates as they navigate this complex environment. · · ·

7-2. ... Leaders must ensure that the trying counterinsurgency (COIN) environment does not undermine the values of their Soldiers and Marines. Under all conditions, they must remain faithful to basic American, Army, and Marine Corps standards of proper behavior and respect for the sanctity of life. · · ·

7-3. ... Effective leaders respond quickly and aggressively to signs of illegal or unethical behavior. The Nation's and the profession's values are not negotiable. Violations of them are not just mistakes; they are failures · · ·

7-9. ... Therefore, military actions and words must be beyond reproach. The greatest challenge for leaders may be in setting an example for the local populace. Effective senior and junior leaders embrace this role and understand its significance. It involves more than just killing insurgents; it includes the responsibility to serve as a moral compass that extends beyond the COIN force and into the community. It is that moral compass that distinguishes Soldiers and Marines from the insurgents. · · ·

7-10. Senior commanders must maintain the 'moral high ground' in all their units' deeds and words ... Maintaining credibility requires commanders to immediately investigate all allegations of immoral or unethical behavior · · ·

7-11. ... Leaders do not allow subordinates to fall victim to the enormous pressures associated with prolonged combat against elusive, unethical, and indiscriminate foes · · ·

7-12. Leaders at every level establish an ethical tone and climate that guards against the moral complacency and frustrations that build up in protracted COIN operations. Leaders remain aware of the emotional toll that constant combat takes on their subordinates and the potential for injuries resulting from combat stress. Such injuries can result from cumulative stress over a prolonged period, witnessing the death of a comrade, or killing other human beings. ... These psychological burdens may be carried for a long time. Leaders watch for signs of possible combat stress within individuals and units. These signs include ... Lack of respect for human life. · · ·

7-24. Ethically speaking, COIN environments can be much more complex than conventional ones. Insurgency is more than combat between armed groups; it is a political struggle with a high level of violence. Insurgents try to use this violence to destabilize and ultimately overthrow a government. Counterinsurgents that use excessive force to limit short-term risk alienate the local populace. They deprive themselves of the support or tolerance of the people. This situation is what insurgents want. It increases the threat they pose. Sometimes lethal responses are counterproductive. At other times, they are essential. The art of command includes knowing the difference and directing the appropriate action.

7-25. A key part of any insurgent's strategy is to attack the will of the domestic and international opposition. One of the insurgents' most effective ways to undermine and erode political will is to portray their opposition as untrustworthy or illegitimate. These attacks work especially well when insurgents can portray their opposition as unethical by the opposition's own standards. To combat these efforts, Soldiers and Marines treat noncombatants and detainees humanely, according to American values and internationally recognized human rights standards. In COIN, preserving noncombatant lives and dignity is central to mission accomplishment. This imperative creates a complex ethical environment. "

Let's make sure the lesson is clear. Why is it, that:   "preserving noncombatant lives and dignity is central to mission accomplishment"?   Is FM 3-24's Ethics chapter some kind of unrealistic "liberal" nonsense that will get our troops killed for nothing? Or is the FM 3-24 Counterinsurgency ethics doctrine a deceptive "conservative" marketing campaign to "sell" the wholesale slaughter of innocent people? Answer: Neither of those distorted, simplistic arguments is right. FM 3-24 emphasizes ethical conduct in combat, because Ethics is realistic. If our ethical values are not worth dying for, then they are just hollow lies we tell ourselves, and not worth living for. The U.S. Army Command and General Staff College awarded the 2009 General Douglas MacArthur Military Leadership Writing Award to Major Douglas Pryer for arguing exactly this point, in his essay, "At What Cost, Intelligence?   A Case Study of the Consequences of Ethical (and Unethical) Leadership". (If you disagree, your ethical "standards" should disqualify you from being in the U.S. military. But you are qualified to join Burma's military junta.)   FM 3-24 has many severe flaws -- particularly its unjust and unrealistic economic ideology, which sharply contrasts with the massive economic corruption engendered by military outsourcing and by unofficial U.S. policies of paying bribes and protection money to warlords, and defacto support for heroin trafficking by Karzai's illegitimate Afghan regime. But the Ethical Leadership component of FM 3-24 is sound. (Or at least it would be, if its fine words were not undercut by corrupt actions.)

For those who place no ethical intrinsic value on human life and dignity, FM 3-24 offers a pragmatic, instrumental reason for "preserving noncombatant lives and dignity":

"An operation that kills five insurgents is counterproductive if collateral damage leads to the recruitment of fifty more insurgents. "

Unfortunately, an ethics article in the Military Review -- "The Embedded Morality in FM 3-24: Counterinsurgency" -- describes how the 2007 Military Health Advisory Team IV survey found that -- among troops stressed by "the highest level of combat exposure" in Iraq -- only 47% of Soldiers and 38% of Marines agreed that noncombatants should be treated with dignity and respect, and 10% admitted mistreating noncombatants or damaging property when it was not necessary.

To withstand ethical degradation due to repeated tours of duty in combat zones requires significant psychological strength and moral courage. I question whether the U.S. military's reliance on lengthy counterinsurgency and nation-building operations to cope with "An Era of Persistent Conflict" will be sustainable. The source of the problem is civilian: 75% of America's 17- to 24-year-olds are unfit for military service, according to the Pentagon, due to obesity, educational or mental deficiencies, or criminal behavior. Although military recruitment goals were met in 2009 (largely due to the weak economy), fully 20% of recruits still required waivers to meet acceptable military standards.   For counterinsurgency operations -- where cultural sensitivity, mental acuity, and ethical discipline are "central to mission accomplishment" -- having 20% of military personnel with substandard qualifications is like seeding our armed forces with human time bombs.

As if that weren't bad enough, the U.S. is dangerously and increasingly dependent on unaccountable "Armed Private Security Contractors" ("APSCs" -- i.e, mercenaries).

Due to some of the factors I've described above, one of the participants in drafting FM 3-24 wrote an Introduction to the print edition of FM 3-24 (not included in the online pdf), that calls our Counterinsurgency strategy "a [military] moon without a [civilian] planet to orbit."

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_v_     [4]_^_ Outsourcing our responsibility for independent Critical Thinking to people who distort facts, and who turn every complex issue into a simplistic argument between "We" who are Right, and "They" who are Wrong:   What does that have to do with Infrastructure? The Infrastructure of Democracy that is most important, most invisible, most degraded, most vulnerable to enemies (both foreign and domestic), and least accountable is our Cultural Environment -- our Social Information Infrastructure.

The polarization of American identities into simplistic and antagonistic Belief Systems is a public health problem. It is an individual problem for those whose minds are infected, and -- collectively -- it is a grave National Security threat. "Botnets" of clueless dittoheads -- whether of the Left vs. the Right, the Up vs. the Down, or the "Tastes Great" vs. the "Less Filling" crowd -- are cognitive security vulnerabilities that can be exploited and sold to the highest bidder. "Monocultures of the Mind" make attractive "soft targets" for extremists in any nation. Fundamentalist political parties are, "able to play on people's insecurities · · · Elections · · · fought on the basis of · · · how can you mobilize hatred and fear against another community."   Applying "social engineering" techniques on these "trained, compliant" individuals can be effective for Face-2-Face recruitment into extremist ideological and religious networks (whether Muslim, Hindu, or Christian). And related online "social engineering" techniques exploit the cognitive cluelessness of many Americans, in order to secretly install malicious code on their personal computers, which are then invisibly controlled by criminal networks and foreign intelligence agencies.   In his Annual Threat Assessment, the Director of National Intelligence stated that:

"Botnets -- networks of hijacked computers used to · · · launch · · · attacks --
are expected to compose 15 percent of all online computers in 2009."

The American mind -- itself -- is a soft target. We already expend significant resources, to defend our Information Infrastructure against thousands of daily attacks by external players -- particularly China. And the incessant jockeying for relative advantage by domestic Information Warlords continually destabilizes the cognitive clarity and social cohesion necessary for us to develop effective responses to the twin global economic and environmental crises -- that we caused -- by allowing these same forces to loose our grip as a Reality-based Community.   Counterinsurgency experts plausibly argue, that the "Hearts and Minds" of the American public constitute our most vulnerable "Center Of Gravity". Hence, the reference in the print edition of the U.S. Army / Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Field Manual (FM 3-24) that calls our National Security strategy, "a [military] moon without a [civilian] planet to orbit."

Beyond the dangerous abdication of ethical responsibility, the polarization is, itself, a problem: It distorts all of Reality into a simplistic, one-dimensional linear spectrum. This not only makes America disrespected around the world, it undermines our ability to compete and cooperate economically, militarily, environmentally, and scientifically with the civilized world. Those Americans who purport to be free thinkers, typically choose a stylishly-different position along a narrow one-dimensional line -- thereby conforming to the framework dictated by crowd psychology -- political positions are selected as Lifestyle-matching accessory products, not on the basis of substantive thought and ethical reflection. Other Americans "just want to be liked". They plant themselves in the "safe" middle of that herd, where they then fancy themselves to be "neutral", "objective", "unbiased", "centrist", and "bipartisan".   But "moral courage · · · is the age-old struggle of the roar of the crowd on one side, and the voice of your conscience on the other." (General Douglas MacArthur; 1/26/64)   Mainstream Media journalists and pundits often seek this cowardly centrism, to achieve social appeasement and career enhancement. In actuality, they are timid extremists -- their thinking is distorted by an extreme central-tendency bias.

Regarding Thucydides' quote, our "Social Division of Knowledge-Labor" has created a degraded and debilitating Political Reality:   Having divided its scholars from its warriors, this Nation does, indeed, have its, "thinking done by moral cowards, and its food-fighting done by political fools-tools".

The polarization of America along a simplistic 1-dimensional spectrum of opposing "Peace" vs. "Strong on Defense" camps blinds us to the multi-dimensional aspects of security -- including food security, environmental security, information security, and economic stability. Our domestic politics are vulnerable to simplistic, manipulative sloganeering, and this renders us unreliable as an international partner. And due to our military power, our erratic domestic politics are perceived as a volatile Threat Multiplier by other nations, which can lock us into unnecessary embraces of mutual escalation.   A Footnote section of an article cannot give an adequate treatment of War Ethics! But I briefly mention some issues in some Footnotes, and I sketch a conceptual framework below:

Our social "Division of Knowledge-Labor" has produced socially-compliant Ethics scholars -- moral cowards -- trained in the (aptly named) "Just War" tradition to ask just two questions regarding the exercise of Power:

  1. "Jus ad bellum": What is the "initial" justification for going to war?  
  2. "Jus in bello": What are the ethical "Rules of Engagement" that govern the ongoing conduct of war?

  3. But these socially-acceptable, academically-specialized questions obscure important issues, and distract attention from the complex, multi-dimensional spaces of Real-world Power Relations.   De facto, the "Just War" framework has become little more than a rubber stamp of approval -- "Bless our war, for they have sinned."   By framing the issues this way, it is extraordinarily vulnerable to bias manipulation. This framework routinely cranks out cheap Indulgences for those in power; moral risk-shifting via CDOs (Collateralized Damage Obligations) and CDS (Credible Deniability Swaps).

    I'm no Martin Luther, but I don't see Alasdair MacIntyre stepping forward on this issue. I'm glad that an Islamic scholar in Iran's holy city of Qum understands the implications that MacIntyre's "Whose Justice? Which Rationality?" holds for expanding civilizations' menu of "choices" beyond the Mutual Assured Destruction (and Individual Moral Degradation) of the "Jihad vs. McWorld" Political Economy food-fight. (There is intelligent life on Earth! Too bad it's not happening in my own Nation.) So I'll launch my own "Protesting Reformulation" with Just Five More War Theses:

  4. Who "initially" justifies the exercise of war powers?
  5. How is that justification communicated? What ethical "Rules of Engagement" govern the "selling" of war?
  6. What is the process for authorizing the use of war powers? Who decides? Are there any genuine checks and balances? Is there any effective fact-checking procedure, that can counteract innate individual psychological biases and embedded collective systemic biases? Does our Intelligence Community have a Code of Mission Ethics -- and do they honor it -- to ensure that their best assessments of "facts" in National Intelligence Estimates (NIE) are not politicized? Does the American public have the moral courage to demand that Congress struggle with the uncertainties that are inherent in any NIE?
  7. How are the benefits and costs of war distributed? Do those who gain the benefits, suffer their fair share of the costs and risks? In the initial "selling" of war, and in the ongoing conduct of war, are the costs and risks and their distributions clearly displayed, so that participants have the opportunity for Informed Consent?     Or are invisible Hidden Costs concealed? · · · And (plausibly?) denied?
  8. Why is there no recognition that Power is in a perpetual state of Information Warfare; hence Questions #1 and #2 interact, and cannot be examined in isolation?   (This is why our military officers struggle with poorly-defined "Mission Creep", as Info-War creates new perceptions that redefine "political facts on the ground", and move the goal posts for our "Exit Strategy":   The ethics of "Strategy" vs. "Tactics", and of "Civilian" vs. "Military" leadership, cannot be separated, because our nation is an ongoing Info-War participant in the interactions between Questions #1 and #2 -- not an isolated observer theorizing about an initial system.)   We need to deconstruct our "Social Construction of War", and examine the holistic Ethics of Power in all its guises.

Power is exercised most efficiently, when it is projected invisibly -- via "Information Warfare". That's why intelligence agents must remind themselves that even seemingly "unbiased" information sources actually seek to influence as well as inform them. For example, all human beings are subject to Confirmation Bias -- we automatically give more credibility to evidence (or selective filtering and interpretations of evidence) that confirms our pre-existing beliefs or desires. Ahmed Chalabi succeeded in playing various U.S. government intelligence agencies against one another, partly because some people desperately wanted to confirm their belief that there was a good reason to invade Iraq. (The lower-level CIA agent who saw Chalabi's informant fail a lie detector test, was unable to convince his mid-level managers to fight strongly enough against the desires of the highest levels of the Bush administration.)

James Bamford's expose' on "the selling of Chalabi's war" quoted a contract between the Pentagon and a PR firm, the Rendon Group. The contract states that Rendon will, "identify the BIASES of specific journalists and potentially obtain an understanding of their allegiances." Rendon's response confirms that studying journalists to learn how best to influence (i.e, "spin" a story to) them, is just a business-as-usual Information Warfare practice, that is routinely undertaken by all corporations, whether targeting foreign or domestic journalists:

"Tracking media and journalist dynamics is undertaken by every PR firm, marketing agency and business intelligence company -- this is commercial grade media analysis."

Unfortunately, the American public has not learned the most basic lessons of "Media Literacy", much less Information Warfare. Regardless of whether the First Gulf War was "right" or "wrong", it was clearly unethical to "sell" that war by running an Info Op (Information Operation) against the American public. In fact, as I document, the fictitious Iraqi troops who supposedly ripped non-existent Kuwaiti babies out of incubators, can trace their Info-War lineage to an Info Op that Benjamin Franklin ran against the British public during the Revolutionary War: Franklin printed a sham newspaper that reported non-existent atrocities committed by British troops in America: "29 little Infants · · · were ript out of their Mothers' Bellies."   To paraphrase H. Rap Brown, "Information Warfare targeting civilians is as American as cherry pie."   Ken Saro-Wiwa admonished us: "As we subscribe to the sub-normal and accept double standards, as we lie · · · we elect to make ourselves · · · slaves." Is it even worthwhile living, if we are complicit slave-labor, building an unethical world of lies? Has the American "Free-Speech" regime of communication law doomed us to live in an Info-War Free-Fire Zone, as perpetual Prisoners of Disinformation?

My website aims to educate (i.e, influence and inform) the American public about the Power of Information Warfare to change our Social Climate, and the Information Ethics we must develop -- to defend ourselves, and to control our own exercise of Information and Kinetic powers, as "An Era of Persistent Conflict" unfolds.

Contrary to the comforting lies told by our manipulative politicians, Permanent War will impose costs on civilians beyond those who voluntarily choose to enlist in our armed forces, and get killed or physically wounded.   Each new generation must learn for itself the lessons of war.   Unfortunately, only a small proportion of any generation are forced to study these lessons deeply; few are capable of taking them to heart. Major General Smedley D. Butler's 1930's tutorial on modern war -- in the era of techno-assisted weapons of mass deception and destruction, remains one of the better lessons (limited to Question #6 above) the public needs to learn:

War is a racket. · · · A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of the people. Only a small "inside" group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few, at the expense of the very many. Out of war a few people make huge fortunes. · · · The general public shoulders the bill. And what is this bill? · · · Newly placed gravestones. Mangled bodies. Shattered minds. Broken hearts and homes. Economic instability. · · · And we haven't paid the debt yet. We are paying it, our children will pay it, and our children's children probably still will be paying the cost · · ·

But the soldier pays the biggest part of the bill. · · · We used them for a couple of years and trained them to think nothing at all of killing or of being killed. · · · In the government hospital ... 1,800 of these boys are in pens! Five hundred of them in a barracks with steel bars and wires all around · · · These already have been mentally destroyed. These boys don't even look like human beings. Oh, the looks on their faces!

Army medic Joseph Dwyer raced through a battle zone, carrying a wounded boy.

But later, back home, consumed by the demons of combat stress, ...
"He was seized by fearful delusions and fits of violence and rage.
His wife left him to save herself and their young daughter.
Gripped by delusions, he shot up his apartment.
Police found him dying among pill bottles
and cans of cleaning solvent he sniffed to deaden his pain.
He was glad when the SWAT team arrived,
because then he could tell them where the Iraqis were.

Private Dwyer, who survived rocket-propelled grenades and shocking violence,
made his way back to his family and friends.
But part of him was also stuck forever on a road in Iraq,
helpless and terrified, with nobody to carry him to safety."

Paul Rieckhoff, executive director of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, said, "I consider (Dwyer) a battlefield casualty, because he was still fighting the war in his head." The Army Times photographer who took the above picture said, "He became a casualty of war no different than if he had died on the battlefield."   With respect, I disagree:   Pfc. Dwyer did not die on the battlefield -- he was a psychological Prisoner of War. He died while trying to escape being tortured.

Few civilians understand that 40,000 American troops may still be POWs imprisoned in cages -- their cognitive and emotional fire-control radars still embedded in weaponized worlds of PTSD horror, and their ethical command-and-control structures degraded into fibrillation, or frozen into mangled caricatures of religion. A recent study, "Invisible Wounds of War", estimated that 300,000 of our troops have experienced PTSD, Traumatic Brain Injury, or both.

American civilians allow themselves to be manipulated into a war frenzy by "Chicken-hawk" pundits -- who never put themselves at risk, but who are always willing to sacrifice other people's kids to war. American civilians need to understand that PTSD comes home -- bringing an epidemic of alienation, horror, and violence to American families and communities.   American planners at the State Dept. and Pentagon need to understand that PTSD ravages foreign civilians -- making slogans like "post-war peace", "Truth and Reconciliation", and "cooperative governance" an unrealistic fantasy.   In reality, it's far easier to break a society, than to heal it. Colin Powell was correct:   "You broke it, you own it."


Briefly, I agree with Colonel Andrew Bacevich's analysis in his "The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism", that the longstanding structural contradictions in American society can no longer be sustained. The American public must learn to become far more knowledgeable, nuanced, and discriminating about the application of limited American military power. The public must hold our politicians and military brass accountable for using our limited civilian and military resources more economically, and more ethically.

Are you "Pro-War"? America does not need to seek out wars -- already, the Pentagon is covertly attacked 360 million times each year. Are you "Anti-War"? In this "Era of Persistent Conflict", wars will seek us out to hijack America's resources to serve other interests. Those wars will find us. And when the Covert Wars heat up to overt Hot Wars and find us, I hope they find Americans far better prepared to recognize and defend our true interests than we are today.

To achieve that, the public must hold itself accountable for being used as a tool of Information Warfare by enemies -- both foreign and domestic -- who have no qualms about targeting our emotional and cognitive biases for manipulation via "Perception Management" campaigns.   We are all, at various times, both instruments -- and victims -- of Information Warfare. We are all Prisoners of Information Warfare. The only way to free ourselves, is to bring our outsourced Critical Thinking back in-house. The United Nations' UNESCO preamble was right: "Since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defences of peace must be constructed."   We must conduct Info-War counterinsurgency ethical "clear and hold" operations, to take back our own "Hearts and Minds". These will require emotional heavy lifting, and cognitive combat against simplistic easy answers and seductive illusions -- especially the comforting traps of absolute certainty, and the lures of social acceptance, status, and power. True freedom is exercising the power of self-discipline, and accepting the responsibility to wield power ethically. As Major General Antonio Taguba instructed his team of Abu Ghraib investigators, "Bottom line: We will follow our conscience."

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_v_     [5]_^_ The average Tahoe person is almost certainly far less "green" than the average New York City resident. In "Green Metropolis", David Owen writes: "The average New Yorker annually generates 7.1 tons of greenhouse gases, a lower rate than that of any other American city, and less than 30 percent of the national average."

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_v_     [6]_^_ Pirates hijacked another oil tanker with 2 million barrels of oil worth $150 million:   Hijacking a few oil tankers is not, in itself a big problem -- because America consumes 20 million barrels of oil EACH DAY!   As conservative Senator Lindsey Graham (100% rating from Christian Coalition) noted, "Every day, we spend nearly $1 billion to sustain our addiction to foreign energy sources - and we ship Americans' hard earned dollars overseas, some of which finds its way to extremist or terrorist organizations." But, besides the flow of American oil money to terrorist organizations, the economics of outright piracy are inexorable: Shipping companies will continue to pay pirates millions of dollars in ransom (or "protection money"), and this will encourage more oil tanker piracy, fund more hi-tech weapons technologies for pirates, and concentrate more political and military power in the hands of local warlords -- and globalized criminal enterprises.

Ultimately, America will pay significantly more to import oil:   Freedom isn't free. One way or another, somebody will pay for our "Fossil-fueled Freedom" -- either we will pay with money, or we will pay with the lives of American troops, tasked with counter-insurgency and nation-building operations in the warlords' (portable) power centers in "Failed States" like Somalia, Iraq, and Afghanistan.   But "climate change acts as a THREAT MULTIPLIER for instability in some of the most volatile regions of the world." So there will be no shortage of Failed States, in which these new transnational Carbon-Energy criminal networks ("non-state actors") can base their operations.

The U.S. government's National Intelligence Council assessed key global trends over the next 15 years, and issued this unclassified report, "Global Trends 2025: A Transformed World". The report warns that:

"the relative power of various nonstate actors -- including ... criminal networks -- will continue to increase. Several countries could even be taken over and run by criminal networks."

The power source for these growing transnational criminal networks is Carbon-Energy resources -- oil and gas. The report highlights the threat of:

"growing corruption and organized criminal involvement in the ... energy sector · · · the threat posed by growing transnational criminal networks in managing the world's resources -- especially global energy -- in addition to their traditional involvement in international narcotics trafficking."

The report goes on to sketch what will happen, as these criminal networks expand their control over fossil-fuel energy resources · · · and entire countries:

"[Due to] the likelihood of penetration by criminal networks [of the highest levels of government in oil-rich nations] ... we expect these organized crime networks to expand their operations, fostering greater corruption and manipulation of [national] foreign policies to their advantage."

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_v_     [7]_^_ Misinformation:   Civilian non-combatants who do not consider themselves either scholars or warriors may not want to know what is in this section, because, as the U.S. Army War College Strategic Studies Institute warns, you risk collateral damage from a "dangerous assault on core values". This section uses "military lingo", but the topic it covers is absolutely vital to our Freedom and our National Security. America's military cannot do its part to fix this security vulnerability, without the knowledge and the help of America's civilian citizens. So attention, citizens:   As they say in America's Intelligence Agencies, you do have a need to know this information!

Realpolitik:   Our nation's Civil War never ended. Our domestic Politics is   "War by other means". (Yawn -- of course.) But exactly which other means? Events of the past decade have made abundantly clear that international "Information Warfare" -- henceforth Info-War -- is a very effective handmaiden of Kinetic Warfare. But this handmaiden has a mind of her own, and a lethal "logic" that is not of our choosing. Info-War has evolved and escalated to such an extent, that it is impossible to say what constitutes a "proportionate response" vs. an "escalation" vs. a "pre-emptive attack" vs. an "unintentional false-flag response".

The U.S. Army War College Strategic Studies Institute's 2003 conference on Strategic Deception in Modern Democracies: Ethical, Legal, and Policy Challenges largely labored under the delusion that America would be on offense. It failed to recognize that Info-War is integral to Asymmetric Warfare. The 2009 conference on The Smith-Mundt Act of 1948: A Discourse to Shape America's Discourse was an opportunity to engage these challenges. But not until Rep. Paul Hodes (D- NH) spoke -- during the final session -- did anyone mention that there had been an active covert Info-War campaign specifically targeting U.S. public opinion: the Pentagon's program using TV pundits as Message "Force Multipliers" . It seems this "Discourse to Shape America's Discourse" was but a Prolegomena to a future meta-discourse on beating around the bush. It lacked the moral courage to engage the fundamental issues most vital to Democracy -- Freedom of Thought, and Free Will. It seems most participants either preferred -- or were resigned to -- the Realpolitik Prisoners' Dilemma status quo: A domestic Info-War Free-Fire Zone targeting citizen civilian non-combatants, and press-ganging them into Involuntary Servitude on Info-War Botnet plantations · · · our Nation was doomed to   "endure, permanently, half-slave and half-free."

Let's examine our society's integrity -- as both an individual moral issue and a public-health risk that has infected democracy. I raise this particular example in 2010 not to re-fight a previous domestic political Information War, but to learn from our mistakes, and to build a case for reform:

  • Our Social "Division of Knowledge-Labor" has become so pathological and polarized that it has created enemies -- both foreign and domestic -- who now intentionally undermine our social cohesion, and who have penetrated and degraded our "Center Of Gravity". This Situation is a "complex ethical environment" -- every bit as problematic as described in FM 3-24, the U.S. Army and Marine Corps' Counterinsurgency Field Manual. Our failure to recognize this -- itself -- constitutes a strategic risk to democracy.   Do these lessons of FM 3-24 apply to our own society? Do they give both ethical and pragmatic reasons why we should treat America's own civilian non-combatants with respect and dignity?
    "The Nation's · · · values are not negotiable. Violations of them are not just mistakes; they are failures · · · Maintaining credibility requires commanders to immediately investigate all allegations of immoral or unethical behavior · · ·
    One of the insurgents' most effective ways to undermine and erode political will is to portray their opposition as untrustworthy or illegitimate. These attacks work especially well when insurgents can portray their opposition as unethical by the opposition's own standards. To combat these efforts, · · · treat noncombatants · · · humanely, according to American values · · · preserving noncombatant · · · dignity is central to mission accomplishment."
    How curious, that we ask our troops to risk their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan, treating civilians under Ethical Rules of Engagement that we routinely violate here at home. Even if we suppose that American civilians are mere "Couch Potato half-slaves" who do not deserve to be treated with the dignity accorded to other human beings, does that not allow insurgents to, "portray their opposition as unethical by the opposition's own standards"? Or is there some magic barrier that prevents information from transiting between domestic and foreign audiences? Insurgents in Iraq already intercept live video feeds from U.S. Predator drones · · · in Asymmetric Info-War, who is hunting whom? Perhaps it behooves us to formulate domestic Rules of Info-War Engagement -- a Code of Fair Information-Operation Practices.

  • Those who volunteer to serve in our armed forces deserve to make an informed choice regarding their service. And I believe that military "ethics" are incompatible with honor, unless our troops honestly understand why they are sacrificing their lives. Were we honest with our troops, about why they were fighting and dying in Iraq?

    This 2006 Zogby poll of our troops in Iraq showed that fully 85% of our troops said the U.S. mission is mainly "to retaliate for Saddam's role in the 9-11 attacks." Yet 2 years before this poll, the 9-11 Commission flatly stated that, "we have seen no evidence ... that Iraq cooperated with Al Qaeda in developing or carrying out any attacks against the United States."

    If we cannot stand-up an army without lying to them, and feeding them propaganda, then clearly we believe we have no Ethical Values worth fighting for. Conversely, if our troops are driven to "self-medicate" by swallowing lies that justify their own efforts and the sacrifice of their brothers' lives, then clearly they believe America has no Ethical Values worth fighting for.

    If that's the case, then the critique by LTC Paul Yingling was far too mild: The problem is not merely that, "Our generals are not worthy of their soldiers." Instead, our entire Society is not worthy of our soldiers.
We failed to heed Thucydides' warning about the Social "Division of Knowledge-Labor". As a result, the fools that lead our Military, and the moral cowards (with MBA's and Law degrees) who lead our Politics have sold out Democracy. We suffer, even today, from this old Info-War fallout -- its "collateral damage" continues to POLARIZE the present, and its toxic impacts, increasingly, will pollute our future.

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_v_     [8]_^_ Subsidies: In modern consumer societies, most "Goods and Services" conceal their true Hidden Costs -- the "Bads and Dis-Services" that they externalize onto society. This is called "Risk-shifting". As shown by the recent meltdown caused by Financial Weapons of Mass Destruction, it is very profitable for corporations to shift risks and costs onto society, and ultimately force taxpayers to subsidize Corporate "Moral Hazard". (Modern corporations continue to extend their power over governmental regulators and lawmakers, because there is no "level playing field" of Political Economy: Corporations win most every "Public-Private Partnership" loaded Ethical coin flip by internalizing Rights and externalizing Responsibilities.) Society must try to protect itself -- to level the ethical and economic playing fields -- by trying to prohibit or tax bad Hidden Costs, and subsidize good Hidden Benefits. The Hidden Costs of carbon energy documented in this article total at least $168 Billion per year -- not counting the human toll, or any economic costs of climate change. That's quite a tilt to the alleged "level economic playing field"!

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_v_     [9]_^_ Hidden Costs: Natural neuro-biological processes bias the information we perceive: Normally, we filter-out thousands of irrelevant distractions every day. But when certain information becomes relevant -- due to our changing circumstances and motivations -- we change our Selection Bias to filter-in that information. This is how our ethical values influence our perceptions -- what we "pay attention" to.

Psychological Biases are a natural part of every human mind. Depending on the circumstances, they can be very helpful, or very damaging. Perhaps the most damaging Bias in America today is that most Americans have tuned their Selection Bias to filter-out information about the Hidden Costs of our Energy Addiction. General Anthony Zinni and Vice Admiral Dennis McGinn both emphasized our responsibility for the moral consequences of continuing our old Energy Infrastructure: American troops will pay the price -- their Blood for our Oil addiction.

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[Reform:]_^_   Some brief thoughts on reforming both Self and Society · · · both Character and Culture:

Those in military combat positions have chosen (as have I) to place more value on certain qualities of life, than on our (risk-adjusted) quantity of life -- as measured in years.   Ethically, there are interesting similarities with the "Voluntary Simplicity" approach, which values certain qualities of life more than quantity of stuff (consumer crap).

The central theme of this article -- and the entire website -- is Ethics -- questioning our Assumptions, and examining our Values -- to clarify our Situation Awareness (as Abraham Lincoln counseled) -- then setting high internal Standards (even while surrounding American society degrades, manipulates, and deforms whatever external Standards this culture once honored).

To help both civilians and military clarify their Values -- what really matters, deep down -- I offer the following Ethical Test to distinguish your honest values from deceptive false-flag slogans:

If your ethical Values are not worth dying for,        
then they are just hollow lies you tell yourself,        
and they are not worth living for.
       

But examining and clarifying our Values is a complex and never-ending task. Value can never be reduced to any one, simple dimension -- that's one reason why money can never adequately measure value.   Having headed the Dept. of Ethics at the Virginia Military Institute, General Anthony Zinni understood that Real-world Ethics involves tradeoffs between different values.   In today's modern world of complex technological Infrastructures, there are usually tradeoffs among conflicting values and risks -- some are immediately visible, but other costs and risks are hidden.   So don't be fooled into over-simplifying your Values. Ethics is a journey, not a self-righteous destination.




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