Tuesday, November 30, 2010


A curious connection came to me.

Gareth Porter, noted and always worthwhile defense-issues commentator, has this piece that stems from the Wikileaks document dump.*

One of the dumped documents is a diplomatic cable from the Russians last February, in which they assess and refute in great detail a US claim that the Iranians had a mysterious missile – somehow allegedly purchased from the North Koreans – which had the range to put all of Europe within the reach of alleged mobile, land-based Iranian nukes. The Russians raise extensive objections that substantially make it almost impossible for the alleged missile to work or for the Iranians to launch it (presuming they would have bought the untested product in the first place), and conclude by seriously doubting the existence of any such missile at all.

None of which is particularly relevant to the SO Mania Regime.

But then he gets to this bit: Both the ‘New York Times’ and the ‘Washington Post’ had access to the Russian cable through legitimate international media channels. BUT while they both published the US scare-stories about what the missile could do, they did not publish the seriously substantive doubts raised in the Russian cable. Because, the papers now say, the US government asked them not to.

Now note this: the papers were not refraining from publishing classified material – many of the world’s major papers have provided their readers with the Russian objections as well as the US scare-scenarios. The papers were purposely under-informing (thereby mis-informing) the American public in such a way that the public would be frightened by the scare-stories and there would be no countervailing facts or substantive and logical counter-possibility (to slow down any stampede that the selective reporting and non-reporting might cause).

The two major US papers published a scare-scenario that would serve the purpose of inciting a stampede, while at the same time they did not publish the substantive counter-possibilities (that would snuff out or slow down any such stampede).

Even more interesting is the fact that now the Wikileaks document shows that there was significant internal US government disagreement on whether such a magic-missile even existed at all. You can’t help but wonder, some day, what a Wiki-type document dump might reveal about government and legislative opinion in the run-up to the initiation and continuation of the SO Mania Regime and its enabling laws and the manipulative stampede of public opinion that lubricates it.

Neatly, the US government official who was assigned to take the point on the matter said that the government “believes” that the Iranians had the missile (which also of course presumes that the magical thing exists in the first place) but can offer no reliable sources or grounds for that belief.

In response to Russian requests for verifying information, the US said that it had no “hard evidence’, come to think of it, but produced a video of a North Korean military parade; the Russians reviewed that video and identified the missile in the parade as a different type of missile entirely. Which makes you think that the US government is either verrrry incompetent in vital matters or verrrry dishonest in vital matters.

Surely the SO community has entertained such thoughts from time to time.

When the US made some technical assertions that would at least provide the circumstantial possibility that such a missile’s existence was possible (and if THAT doesn’t sound kinda iffy then you haven’t been keeping up with the SO Mania and the government’s Findings and assertions), the Russians quickly demonstrated how each ‘explanation’ tossed out was individually close to impossible and taken as a collection of possibilities was statistically improbable to a stratospheric degree.

Anyone who has looked at the theoretical explanations of the dynamics of repressed-memories put forward by the supporters of recovered-memory can only nod in recognition at seeing this type of gambit by the government.

The government produced a “modeling study” that showed what would happen if this magic missile had just 300km more range to it than even the US dares to assert. But the Russians pointed out that to push the missile that far beyond its maximum range would exponentially increase the possibility that the thing would burn itself out before it ever got where it was going.

Oh, and that it was a missile designed to be launched from a submarine’s missile tubes, and would require major structural modifications to work from trucks or mobile launchers, and that the type of fuel system that worked in the controlled environment of a nuclear-sub’s storage and launch facilities would not work in the far less controlled environment of mobile-launching by land units.

What strikes me most forcefully in all of this is how quickly sensible and well-grounded objections can snuff out a stampede, especially when both the assertions and the objections are published for the public to review (which is what happened in Europe and the rest of the world).

In the SO Mania, this did not happen. You only have to look at the 570-page, densely packed double-issue of ‘Psychology, Public Policy, and Law’ for March-June 1998 to realize how many serious experts and professionals, from numerous areas of expertise, had, even at that early date, carefully laid out the extensive and profound problems with the ‘sex offender’ and what I call the SO Mania Regime. **

Of course, a media that was really trying to fulfill its responsibility as “a free press” might well have prevented a stampede by publishing the objections to the government’s (and the advocacies’) raging reports and claims. But – long before the Iranian missile matters of today – the media had decided to treat the government as just another important ‘demographic’ within its ‘consumer-base’, to be kept happy wherever possible by publishing what the demographic wanted to read. And, of course, a government is not just another consumer: it is the generator and keeper of many secrets and major public matters, and the bestower of gifts and bennies on a press that serves it well.

The article concludes with a comment by the head of an international strategic study institute that also debunked many of the US government assertions: the US and the Russians had “two different approaches to the subject”. Specifically, he said, “the Russians talked about the most likely set of outcomes whereas the US side focused on what might happen”.

Unpacking that comment – which says a lot on its very face – I get this: the Russian approach is to study all the evidence and then arrive at that “most likely set of outcomes”, whereas the US merely comes up with a nightmare scenario, says it “might” happen, and – secure in the knowledge that the American major media will not give any voice to countervailing information - simply sits back and waits for the desired public stampede.

Which, you have to admit, is a pretty good description of the SO Mania’s dynamics from the get-go.

And now it’s being deployed, these 20 years later, in the international arena, in a game of frightening nuclear brinkmanship (as they used to call it half a century ago).

This is what American policy – and politics – has come to: a dishonest manipulation of the public and in the service of a bad policy on grounds that are so largely phantasmagoric. You evoke the type of scenarios that arise in anybody’s middle-of-the-night nightmares, and then use that fuel to generate the hot fear that such things are happening in the actual waking world, and that therefore the desired program just has to become law and policy immediately.

Goebbels meets the Red Queen.


*I have written about the SO adventures of Julian Assange, the head of Wikileaks, on this site previously. As you may recall, in late summer he was suddenly accused of some sort of ‘sex offense’ by two females. Just about all the circumstances of their ‘report’ (they made no charges) and of the Swedish government’s handling of it (a lower level-prosecutor goes along with it over the weekend, a higher-level prosecutor withdraws everything on Monday, then nothing, then – just before the most recent big document dump – a curiously vague ‘international sex offense warrant’ is issued by a Swedish court, not with ‘charges’ but, as best I can make out, simply to interview or question him, though prosecutors refused several offers on his part to be interviewed; the warrant sounds more like a material-witness matter except that Assange is the accused (but still not charged) perpetrator.

**”Psychology, Public Policy, and Law”. Vol. 4, Number 1 / 2, March/June 1998. ISSN 1076-8971. This journal is published by the American Psychological Association, which has not otherwise distinguished itself in attempting to address the SO Mania Regime with any significant degree of integrity, but somehow allowed this journal to publish this remarkable double-issue volume, or at least failed to notice and stop it. A good-sized library may well have it; hard copies may still be available from the journal’s site.

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