`Owning’ the weather??PART IX

By Rahnuma Ahmed

Does something lie behind the global warming agenda, behind the UN Summit at Copenhagen where world leaders had met to agree on how to tackle global climate change? Has weather warfare, as Michel Chossudovsky, director, Global Research (Canada), asks us, already started?
Some observers think, climate wars, caused by uncontrolled greenhouse gas emissions, are the future. That the world will be ravaged by wars over land, food and water, forcing countries to use the military to barricade borders.
This scenario?climate wars caused by global warming?is distinct from the weather warfare one, which is related to planned projections of `owning’ the weather, of developing technologies which `weaponise’ the weather (`Weather as a Force Multiplier. Owning the Weather in 2025,’ US Air Force commissioned study, 1996). This is real, admittedly so, by top-ranking US policy makers. By Zbigniew Brzezinski, former US National Security Advisor, “techniques of weather modification could be employed to produce prolonged periods of drought or storm” (1970). By William Cohen, former US secretary of defence, “alter[ing] the climate, set[ting] off earthquakes, volcanoes remotely through the use of electro-magnetic waves…It’s real” (1997). By US Admiral Pier Saint-Armand, “We regard the weather as a weapon” (US Senate, 1972).
A reality further attested to by the ratification of an international Convention by the UN General Assembly, the Convention on the Prohibition of Military or Any Other Hostile Use of Environmental Modification Techniques (Geneva: 18 May 1977), one to which both the US and Soviet Union were signatories.
I find it interesting that both global warming and ENMOD are assumed to lead to similar environmental disasters?droughts, storms, hurricanes, earthquakes?and thereby, to untold human suffering, but that global summits and international meetings express an orchestrated alarm over only set of anthropogenic activities, i.e., CO2 emissions. No mention of warfare. Of depleted uranium. Or CO2 emissions caused by warfare in Iraq. The Pentagon’s daily fuel consumption. Or, for that matter, HAARP.
Many scientists and climatologists have repeatedly pointed out that climate change is a misnomer because climates do change. Should change. That change, for God’s sake, is natural. Climate science, they say, is in its infancy. We know very little. In such a situation, to commit the whole planet to policies that are extensive and far-reaching?and in reality, are based on shaky scientific findings, the result of computer modelling, simulation exercises, anecdotal evidence, and worse still, what we now know post-CRU, that the data was forced to fit a pre-determined theory, that the raw data of temperature records was not stored but (horror of horrors) deleted?is downright stupid.
And close on the heels of Climategate were a series of other `gates,’ Glaciergate, Amazongate, Pachaurigate. Okay, we should have learnt our lesson, no rush. Calm down. Go slow.
But, as Andrew Orlowski points out, Climategate raises far more questions than it answers. How did such a small group of scientists, backing a new theory, in an infant field, come to have such a huge effect on global policy making? Why is the climate debate beset with “a sense of crisis and urgency, and the ascendancy of a quite specific and narrow set of policy options”? Why has it become the “Rosetta stone” of a whole political and business movement? Does the answer lie (only) in the billions to be made from carbon trading, predicted to become the world’s largest commodity market 5 years from now, worth $10 trillion?
There was another leak at Copenhagen in December 2009, the Danish text leak. Taken together with the CRU e-mail, close watchers are more convinced than ever that these are the acts of whistle-blowers, of dissident insiders. An idea difficult to stomach for those who think that dissidence belongs to the Cold War era. To people yearning to be free of the Iron Curtain. To flock to the `free world.’
Developing countries reacted furiously to the leaked draft agreement. It proposed to hand more power to rich nations. To sideline the UN’s role in all future climate change negotiations. To abandon the Kyoto protocol, the only legally binding treaty on emissions reductions. It “force[d] developing countries to agree to specific emission cuts and measures that were not part of the original UN agreement.” It proposed a green fund, to be run by the World Bank and the Global Environment Facility (a partnership of 10 agencies including the WB and the UN Environmental Programme). It sought to put “constraints on developing countries when none were negotiated in earlier UN climate talks.”? According to a diplomat, “being done in secret” it is effectively “the end of the UN process” (Guardian, December 8, 2010).
Pray, to be replaced by what? The UN secretary general Ban Ki-Moon spoke of a global governance structure. ?The new EU president Herman van Rompuy said, it was another step towards the global management of our planet. Global governance and global agreements, said Al Gore. at 1:14 mts
Billed by the UN as possibly the most important meeting in the history of the world, the leaks, says Alex Jones (an American talk radio host and filmmaker, violently anti-communist he describes himself as an “aggressive constitutionalist”) discredited the globalists. It exposed the conspiracy of the international elite, a group of industrialists and bankers, to secretly institute a regime of global authority and global rule by an unelected bureaucracy. To scare the “world population into relinquishing their rights and turning it over to an IMF-World Bank elected government that taxes the West, then takes that money, and turns it back to third world and first world nations and then makes those nations agree to a list of demands to destroy their industrial capacity which will result in a death sentence.” To institute a system of climate colonialism. To conceal the fact that while the World Bank chief revels in biofuels having boosted food prices, ethanol production in the US took a third of grain production out, causing an additional 10 million people to starve to death in 2008. The Copenhagen summit, says Jones, was undoubtedly a massive failure. The conspiracy to coopt national sovereignty and elected governments, to force the people of the world to live under structures like the European Union which has forced Europeans to lose their sovereignty to “unelected bureaucrats in Brussels” was successfully resisted. But these elites will try again, this year. In Mexico. The fight against the usurpation of civil liberties and sovereignty, says Jones, must go on.
Has weather warfare really started? Some HAARP-watchers think that the earthquake in Sichuan province in China, which killed 68,000 people, was not natural. They cite the observance of luminous, glowing cloud-like phenomena in the sky 30 minutes before the earthquake took place on May 12, 2008 (recorded by cellphone in Gansu province 450 km northeast of epicenter). According to Epoch Times, several weeks after the quake, high-level Chinese military sources secretly disclosed that it had destroyed the Chinese army’s largest armory, new weapons test bases, and part of nuclear facilities including several nuclear warheads. Initial calls for help were reportedly ignored by the Chinese authorities for the first 72 hours because they did not want “potential spies from the outside world” snooping around. The presence of concrete debris, including concrete slabs and blocks, reported by witnesses, have led some experts to think that a nuclear explosion had occurred near the epicenter, that the concrete belonged to the concrete cover of underground military bases. News of nuclear explosion has raised questions about cause-and-effect: whether a nuclear explosion caused the earthquake or the earthquake caused the explosion. A nuclear accident was also said to have occurred, 2,700 chemical workers were sent to parts of the earthquake-hit area to help cleanup.

Picture showing how the mountain area in the earthquake region [May 12, 2008 Sichuan province looks like after a big explosion. Local villagers said the explosion was so huge that the big mountain seemed to be cut in the middle. (Photo provided by mainland Chinese Internet Users) “
On May 23, 2008, a chemical defense troop of the Chinese army was deployed to Chenjiaba Township, Beichuan County. (The Epoch Times)

Benjamin Fulford, a Japan-based journalist, claimed in early 2007 that while interviewing Heizo Takenaka, a former finance minister in Japan, he confronted Takenaka, and accused him of “having sold the Japanese financial system over to the Rockefellers and Rothschilds.” According to Fulford, Takenaka’s response had been that a group representing ?American and European oligarchs? had used the threat of manmade earthquakes in an attempt to pressure the Japanese government to ?hand over control of the Japanese financial system.? Japan had intially refused, only to relent after the July 17, 2007 Niigata earthquakes. I have not come across any refutation or rejoinder of Fulford’s claims/allegations by any Japanese government spokesperson. Fulford further says, the 2008 Sichuan earthquake had coincided with the BRIC meeting [Brazil-Russia-India-China]. Two days before it took place, a Taiwanese satellite had reportedly “detected a 50% drop in the amount of electric energy in the ionosphere above the earthquake zone.?
Working on the Weather series, and writing it has not been easy. Least of all, because as I explained to Anu Mohammed, who had called to tell me that he was eagerly reading each instalment, But Anu, I am not into weather and climate and such stuff. I’d only thought of writing about the earthquake in Haiti. But what I don’t understand is what on earth are our climate activists doing? The people on whom we rely to inform and educate us, to tell us what the score is, so that we can create well-informed demands in our struggle for social justice. I will skip what Anu replied. Shireen Huq, another friend said, I’m sure our climate activists have contacted you… No Shireen, I replied, no one has. I don’t expect anyone to, either.
I think they are too busy regurgitating what’s said at international conferences and seminars. But I want to be proven wrong. There’s too much at stake.
Published in New Age 29 March 2009

The ?soul-less? war on terror

by rahnuma ahmed

?a particular kind of violence is intrinsic to imperialism, and imperialism is a danger not merely to the populations invaded but also to the soul of the imperialist. [italics added]
Talal Asad, anthropologist, Comment on ?Clash of Civilizations?
AMERICAN patriotic journalist Thomas Friedman is a ?small indication?, according to Asad, of the damage done to imperialist souls. Asad quotes Friedman, who wrote soon after the Iraq invasion: ?The ?real reason? for this war, which was never stated, was that after 9/11 America needed to hit someone in the Arab-Muslim world. Afghanistan wasn?t enough because a terrorism bubble had built up over there ? a bubble that posed a real threat to the open societies of the West and needed to be punctured. ?. The only way to puncture that bubble was for American soldiers, men and women, to go into the heart of the Arab-Muslim world, house to house, and make clear that we are ready to kill, and to die… Smashing Saudi Arabia or Syria would be fine. But we hit Saddam for one simple reason: because we could, and because he deserved it, and because he was right in the heart of that world.? Smashing. Hitting.

They could. And they did.

The ?spurious reasons? advanced by US President George W Bush and former British prime minister Tony Blair were, of course, different. It was ?to disarm Iraq of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), to end Saddam Hussein?s support for terrorism, and to free the Iraqi people?.
Nearly five and a half years on, the invasion and occupation of Iraq has resulted in 1,255,026 Iraqi deaths (, 3.4 million internally displaced Iraqi refugees, 2.2 to 2.4 million Iraqi refugees living abroad. The number of Iraqi refugees admitted to the US is 3,222.
US military casualties number 4,150. Other coalition troops 314. Iraqi Security Force deaths number 7,924. Contractor deaths have reached 444. Three hundred and twenty thousand American veterans of the Iraq war have brain injuries. According to internal e-mails written by Dr Ira Katz, the Department of Veteran Affair?s head of mental health, suicide attempts among Iraqi war vets are about a thousand per month.
According to March 2008 estimates, the invasion and occupation has so far cost $526 billion. The estimated long-term bill is $3 trillion (Foreign Policy In Focus).
And the damage done to imperialist souls? It is beyond reckoning. It continues unabated.

Anthropology for warfare, or ?culture? spies.

The Pentagon has devised a programme for recruiting anthropologists in the ?war on terror?. Situational awareness, it seems, is not enough. ?Cultural awareness? of the people invaded and occupied is needed to win the war. Lieutenant Colonel Fred Renzi, US Army (Military Review, Sept-Oct 2006), cites an incident to illustrate what is meant: Retired army Major General Robert Scales had asked ?a returning commander from the 3rd Infantry Division how well situational awareness (read aerial and ground intelligence technology) worked during the march to Baghdad?. The reply was, ?I knew where every enemy tank was dug in on the outskirts of Tallil.? But the only ?problem was my soldiers had to fight fanatics charging on foot or in pickups and firing AK-47s and [rocket propelled grenades]. I had perfect situational awareness. What I lacked was cultural awareness. Great technical intelligence…wrong enemy.?
The programme, known as the Human Terrain System (HTS) is run by the US Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC). It recruits anthropologists, and other social scientists, to ?understand the people among whom our forces operate? (?hit? and ?smash?), and also ?the cultural characteristics and propensities of the enemies…?. The US military, according to the HTS website, needs to improve its ability to ?understand the highly complex local socio-cultural environment in the areas where they are deployed?. As Renzi writes, information is needed on indigenous forms of association, local means of organisation, and traditional methods of mobilisation which create ?invisible? networks (of support), and are available to America?s ?adversaries?.
In other words, those occupied and conquered have not welcomed their liberators, the insurgency is strong, Iraq has turned into a quagmire.
The function of Human Terrain Teams will be to provide direct ?social-science support in the form of ethnographic and social research, cultural information research, and social data analysis?. These will be used by brigade commanders and their staff ?as part of the military decisionmaking process?. The programme is run by BAE, a contracting agency. The modus operandi is in many ways similar to Blackwater (a private military company, also known as ?the world?s most powerful mercenary army?), since anthropologist ?embeds? are not people who are already in the military, but ?contracted? to work alongside the military, embedded in army units. The starting pay is over $100,000. It can reach a high of $300,000, a tax-free amount if the period of service abroad is more than a year.

The soul of anthropology

The involvement of anthropologists in US military projects is not new, as Nayanika Mookherjee points out in a discussion moderated by her in ASA Globalog (Association of Social Anthropologists). Its historical precedents are to be found in the colonial roots of anthropology. Not only that, she adds, it reminds anthropologists of Project Camelot, the social science research project initiated by the United States Army in 1964, aimed at assessing the causes of war, and preventing these through government action. According to critics, the project was aimed at strengthening established governments and crushing revolutionary movements in Latin America.
There is a critical difference, however, between anthropology?s previous and current engagement with counter-insurgency programmes. Anjan Ghosh, in his post to the ASA discussion says, since Human Terrain Teams are embedded with combat units, anthropologists ?are directly involved with combat operations?. As part of combat units, anthropologists wear army fatigues and carry guns (Newsweek, April 21).
The project of embedding anthropologists to gather ?ethnographic intelligence? (Renzi) has ?caused anger?, ?uproar?, ?intense debate? in anthropological circles, and in the professional bodies of anthropologists. As David Price, who teaches anthropology at St Martin?s University in Washington, and author of Weaponizing Anthropology says, both sides are passionate. Both sides are worried ?about the soul of their discipline?.
Embedding ethnographers with military units raises ethical issues. Price says, fundamental research ethics require that research subjects ? those on whom, or with whom, research is being carried out ? have voluntary, meaningful and informed consent, that they?re told what?s going to be done with the research, and that no harm should come to those who are studied. ASA?s president John Gledhill says working for the military would foster suspicion within universities worldwide. It would cause problems in the field. ?If we are writing about sensitive areas, we anonymise place names and, often, people. If research enables people to identify human beings, there is no guarantee that nothing harmful is going to happen.? And, of course, suspicion can spread, it can stick. ?If people on the ground in foreign countries get the idea that some anthropologists work for the CIA, then they are not going to feel like being very friendly.?
Those who speak for HTS, like Felix Moos, an anthropology professor at the University of Kansas, deride the ?divide between academe and the intelligence community? because it is detrimental to national security interests at home and abroad. Those against cite the involvement of anthropologists in the Vietnam-era military project called CORDS (Civil Operations and Revolutionary Development Support), which mapped the human terrain, and identified suspected Viet Cong sympathisers. This later led to the assassination of 26,000 suspected Viet Cong.
The recent swing in British universities towards teaching and researching programmes on international security has been noted for its ?affinity? with the research agenda of UK funding bodies such as the ESRC (Economic and Social Research Council). Filippo Osella, one of the contributors to the ASA blog says the ESRC?s Radicalisation Programme, seemingly open-ended, focuses only on Muslims/Islam. It thereby assumes that existing forms of radicalism are internal to Islam as a religion, and that all Muslims are potential terrorists. ?Radicalisation is thus seen as a Muslim social problem.? This precludes analysis of radical state policies, of radical ?Western? state policies. How Muslims look at Western foreign policies is something that is taken for granted, it is part of a wider reluctance to engage with debates among Muslims that is taking place globally, on the role of western neo-colonialism.
Postscript: The US defence secretary, Robert M Gates (president of Texas A&M university before becoming defence secretary), in a speech had called on the Pentagon to embrace intellectuals. On the other hand, anthropologists circulated an online pledge calling on their fellow anthropologists to boycott Human Terrain Teams, particularly in Iraq.
The hitting and smashing in Iraq continues. The damage done to imperialist souls continues.
First published in the New Age on Monday, 1st September 2008