Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Staring at Goat

TRD101: Staring at Goat

by Michael Maynard

May 2, 2006

There is a not widely known, but greatly entertaining book Jon Ronson’s “The Men Who Stare at Goats”. Well, three-quarters of the book is entering, the last one-quarter is chilling. In this book, there are men who are getting paid to stare at goats from long range in order to change their behavior. Others toss themselves at walls because they believe they will be able to pass through them, regardless of the earthly physics involved. And it gets weirder, with references to Marshall Applewhite and the Heaven’s Gate tragedy and other peculiar phenomenon.

Welcome to your Department of Defense in action. The long-distance staring at goats is part of overall psychological military operations, a/k/a. “Psy-Ops”to be able to teach soldiers to kill the enemy through mental telepathy. The goals of Psy-Ops are to create “Warrior Monks”, like a group of David Carradines of “Kung Fu”, and develop the mental techniques to liberate the world through them to reach enlightenment via truth, justice and the American way.

There is some justifiable rationale for this, even if the ideas behind it are whacked. Studies of Vietnam veterans showed that 98% of combat soldiers who fired their gun and killed an enemy suffered from some degree of post traumatic stress disorder. War is hell. If techniques can be developed to stop warfare and disarm an enemy with minimal human damage, then these techniques are just and humane. Psy-Ops operations, like constant bombardment with repetitive loud rock’n’roll music, have been credited by the DOD (whether accurate, effective or not) in capturing the strong arm dictators, Manuel Noriega and Saddam Hussein. However, as the book goes on to show, the degree of interest, the monies spent and the relative sanity of those in charge are questionable.

In the article “War-Mart” in the New Republic On-Line on March 3rd, (Print 04-03-2006 edition), Clay Risen makes references to speech given on 9/10/2001 (yes, one day before 9/11/2001). Here are excerpts from this speech:

“An adversary poses a threat, serious threat, to the security of the United States of America” - one that “attempts to impose its demands across time zones, continents, oceans and beyond. With brutal consistency, it stifles free thought and crushes new ideas. It disrupts the defense of the United States and places the lives of men and women in uniform at risk.” The speaker - Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld Was he referring to Al Qaeda or even Saddam Hussein and Iraq? No.

The enemy he was referring to was his own Department of Defense.

Upon reading Ronson’s book, you’d tend to give Rumsfeld’s ideas serious thought. However, while Psy-Ops programs started way before Rumsfeld became Secretary of Defense, the scope and funding of Psy-Ops, including the use of Psy-Ops in torture techniques, has expanded greatly. So Rumsfeld wasn’t railing against his department being out-of-control and spending money foolishly.

No, what Rumsfeld’s intent was to introduce “modern management” techniques into the DOD, including making the Pentagon act more likely modern boardrooms. Given my years of business consulting experience, including with DOD contractors, the idea of introduce “modern management” techniques was a non-starter.

If you review Rumsfeld’s track record as a CEO at GD Searle and General Instrument, his own modern management skills are questionable. His “success” at Searle relied upon pushing the introduction of Nutrasweet, which had questions then about being a carcinogenm and is now strongly suspected now to be one, quickly through the Federal Drug Agency review process. The FDA review was not as thorough as it should have been nor as long as it usually was for other similar products; i.e. political pressure was put to approve it. At General Instrument, he used the standard “slash and burn” management tactics, made popular at the time by “Chainsaw” Al Dunlap. There is controversy whether GI’s success in the television cable industry is due to Rumsfeld’s direction while CEO, occurred in spite of Rumsfeld's direction, or occurred after Rumsfeld’s tenure.

This Pentagon full of CEO’s program is part of Rumsfeld’s overall strategy of military transformation. Rumsfeld’s idea of military transformation are based upon two ideas: the US military has an continued and significant advantage in high technology weaponry, as a result troop manpower number can be greatly reduced. Both of these ideas are highly dubious in concept, as we have seen in action. That he had these ideas that he was going to implement before he was in office despite whether real world situations, such as what happened on 9/11/2001, require that he modify or scrap them is all too typical of what has happened throughout the Bush Administration. Ideology has consistently trumped reality, so the Bush-Leaguers have continued to try to spin the reality to be consistent with their ideology. That Rumsfeld has also illegally used intelligence resources to investigate, infiltrate and harass domestic peace activist groups is also all too typical what’s happened the past 6 years.

Rumsfeld’s military transformation has four major flaws in it.

1. It assumes that the US will always have a significant military high technology advantage. Given the amount of outsourcing of high tech jobs and the rise of quality international engineering colleges, that assumption is not a given and may be proven wrong sooner than we think.

2. What cost will it take to maintain this high tech weaponry advantage. Consider the billions of dollars dumped into the Strategic Defense Initiative, which despite being officially “deployed”, still doesn’t work and is 99.99% likely will never work effectively.

3. The wars of the future will be low tech, and will not be resolved with high tech weaponry. Iraq is a low tech war and it is a quagmire because the US military has continued to be undermanned, despite all the high-tech weaponry at its disposal. The wars of the future will be like Darfur and Kosovo, wars and genocides of generations of racial animus. What’s needed in Darfur are peacekeepers, boots on the ground, to separate the factions, provide the needed humanitarian aid, and do nation building and rebuilding. The pulling of troops from Afghanistan to Iraq has proven to be a major strategic mistake as Al Qaeda and the Taliban have returned, the warlords are in control of the majority of the country, and the opium trade has comeback with a vengeance. The Bush Administration’s hatred of the Clintonistas have led to its out-of-hand disregard for the real military strategy of the future, the strategy of the past: strength in numbers, humanitarian aid and nation build. If this strategy was followed in Iraq, and Donald Rumsfeld followed General Eric Shinnseki’s strategy and manpower estimations of a minimum of 440,000 troops, based upon historical analysis of effective post war operations, the US would not be bogged down in an unwinnable war that is rapidly descending into large-scale civil warfare.

The end of Ronson’s book discusses the chilling and sad case of Frank Olsen, the CIA agent who died by falling out of a New York apartment building after being secretly being given LSD.T his was one of the “Psy-Ops” programs - to study the effects of psychotropic drugs effect on behavior, so that they could be used for enemy interrogation or possibly disable enemy troop son the battlefield. There is no difference morally between slipping LSD into someone’s drink as part of an experiment and waterboarding a suspected, but not verified, Iraqi insurgent. In both cases, the end result was the same.

The goat who approved the all of the failed military strategies and policies in Iraq and Afghanistan? Donald Rumsfeld. Heaven help us all that the CEO generals of the Pentagon prevent the suicidal attack of Iran.

TRD101 knows this: There’s a reason old goats are put out to pasture, so that people driving by care stare at them in their dotage. There’s also a reason why these old goats should not put back in service.

And that is The Real Deal 101 for today, like it or not.

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© Copyright Michael Maynard, TRD101, March 2006.

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