Tuesday, April 29, 2008

An H-Bomb Love Sonnet: Part I

How to Quit Worrying and Love the Bomb
Part One: H-Bombs as a Antidote to Incompetence - Cleansing Nuclear Fire? 23

Those of us who experienced the perpetual terror of the Cold War can probably remember thoughts about just how incredibly awful all those h-bombs made the world. Who could imagine that the day might come when we looked fondly upon these mega-death arsenals as our last bastion of national defense?

We face many types of crises. Thanks largely to the immense and cynical greed of those in our government, it seems that every avenue of our culture is challenged, seriously corrupted or in an outright failure state. But, leaving all that aside, let us focus on the rather concrete problems we now face in our national security.

Given the system of our choice of government, we are inescapably compelled to place our trust in the Commander-In-Chief. The velocity of events in the world clearly require that viable decisions be made far more quickly than what would be possible if they required the methodical education of the citizens. Only the most direly Polly Anna would dare believe that no threats exist.

However, the consistent descent in the quality of these leadership decisions has, without any particular influence of ideology or partisanship, led us to a critical lack of trust. You can still dance with the words if you wish, but right now our government has taken both your sons and your treasure (and your son’s treasure, and probably his son’s treasure) into a exquisitely sleazy political gambit, and it has become a horrific disaster. Our government and, especially, its executive branch has lied to us.

Just as we remember the terror of the Cold War, we also remember the shameless, unending lies of the Viet Nam War. The body counts. The indescribable yet inevitably concrete evil of the enemy. The daily “turning points” toward a final, yet continually mysterious success. By the end of this mortal national toothache, twenty years or so later, no one believed the President no matter who he might have been.

Mr. Rove designed the political features of this nightmare. The military requirements suggested by the Generals would mean nothing. The size of our invading army would be determined by political expediency. No one in the nation would be asked to pay for anything. The entire affair would be financed by money borrowed from Chinese savings accounts. (There ceased to be any here, long ago.) The public relations for this train wreck would be managed by scaring the hell out of everyone who might possibly oppose it. Poison gas. Nuclear bombs. Terrorists. When that fell apart, he added a bit of Bush-style Texas religion. The enemy was “evil” or “criminal.” Our military goal became liberation instead of defense.

The generous commentator might describe it as “unfortunate.”

Still, whether we believed all these terrifying innuendoes or not, we citizens were still not too concerned with our national safety here. (“Fight them over there so we don’t have to fight them over here.”) Without ever actually saying it in so many words, we were all lulled into a comfortable conclusion that, even if we lost in Iraq and suffered all of his manufactured threats as actual fact, we would remain safe and secure. You know. Stop by the grocery on the way home from the office.

No matter how obviously bad everything was going “over there,” life here would continue to be about the same.

So, it must be time to direct our thoughts back to our H-bombs.

There exists the unsettling possibility that an actual threat to our “home” security might arise while we still enjoy the genius of this Commander-In-Chief. Is there, now, anything he could tell us that would, once again, garner our trust in a way sufficient to defend ourselves? We could probably still respond in a self-preservation manner, but only after enough blood had been spilled to inject some credibility back into his rather hollow character.

Even then, as we licked the wounds of our next horrible injury and sat in our homes terrified, someone like Mr. Rove would continue to work at manipulating the scene to a partisan advantage. The media would be managed with even more frenzy. The mushroom clouds and the poison gas would be trotted out as reasons justifying even more cheap grabs for power. Worst of all, some of us would believe it all. “You go to war with the President you have, not the President you need.”

Well, world, count on this. No matter how incompetent our greed crazed President may be, there is someone left (after he fired all those disagreeable Generals) who will still push the button on all those old nukes. Regardless of how much damage this government can inflict on our military, our State Department, our reputation, our economy or our national spirit as it pursues its childish ambitions, this old and constant weapon can still be unleashed.

Yes, we have lost a ground war to some trailer park east of Cairo. Gloat all you wish about that, you enemies of ours, but remember that somewhere within us, we have a continuing impulse to survive the errors we have made in our fear and greed. Listen up, all of you who would attack us. Granted, the cowards in charge would probably have no stomach for it, but still go ahead and cultivate your worst fears. There still exists an American finger for that American button!

Has this Cold War weapon become our last bastion? The only one beyond the debilitating touch of these grotesque leaders? Do we really want to spend our years in this period of imperial decline hiding behind our Minutemen?

It's ugly, but it seems like that is exactly what we asked for. Twice.

An H-Bomb Love Sonnet: Part II

How to Quit Worrying and Love the Bomb
Part Two: H-Bombs as a Response to a Rotten Economy - A Bargain at Twice the Price! 24

It is no secret that the engine which makes it possible for a great state to fight wars, legitimate or not, is always its inherent wealth. With enough money we can create a military might suitable for any imaginable capability. The last Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Bill was for $108 Billion. What if we couldn’t borrow the cash to make such an appropriation?

If that were to be the case, we would have to determine just how essential such a war actually was to our national interests. Perhaps we could sell Alaska back to those recently prosperous Russians for enough money to continue our fight for another year! Is Iraq that essential to our national interests?

What is happening to our economy might very well turn out to be no more than a semiserious recession. On the other hand, there is a suspicious odor about this particular “collapse,” “correction” or “adjustment.” It might easily turn out to be a bit more severe than our memories of generally painless “stagflation,” “inflation” or “recessions” in the past.

No problem. We can rest assured that our Chinese bankers will be happy to reconfigure our debt payments, restructure our interest or, at least, give us a break until things improve a little. Those Chinese are famous for that sort of compassionate lending laxity. Maybe they would like to buy Alaska! A great idea, especially if they can be convinced to pay for it with something other than our dollars.

The financial burden of a great military, especially one with an appetite for irrelevant and expensive assets, is, simply enough, that it costs a lot of money. Unhappily, we have been “hollowing” out all the equity of our economy and turning it over to our billionaires in a brave act of unbridled capitalism (best termed national socialism). We have to suspect that these stalwart American billionaires might be a little reluctant when it comes to financing our extravagant and illogical military should an actual threat to national security arise.

Here we should consider a comparison to the Roman model during the times of that empire. The division of wealth was almost total. The rich, noble families held immense assets (Africa, Spain, Gaul) as a standing form of incentive to assure their loyalty to Caesar. Unlike today when such fortunes must be shielded from the public eye by apologies and deceptions, those Roman folks considered them to be strategic assets!

The compensation was very great for these noble families. They could and did finance their own armies and successfully pursued all sorts of expeditions to enlarge the empire. Of course, the looting involved in such military victories also enhanced their wealth, and to some extent, the wealth of the common Roman. Looking over all the territory, slaves and plunder, they would inevitably say “See, everybody wins!”

Our situation is a little different. First, we can rest assured that no matter how grave the insult to our physical country, these billionaires will continue to do just swell. Their view of our current economy is that profits will be handled capitalistically (15% capital gains tax) and losses will be handled socialistically (Bear Sterns bailout).

However, we must, here, recall that our expensive military is paid for by taxes on “earned income” while the wealth of the billionaires is generated by “unearned income.” Not only is the source stream of these separate types of tax revenues different, the destination of the tax money collected may as well also be considered separate.

As a consequence of this, we might experience a fiscal necessity to start lowering the expense, and hence the military capacity, of our armed forces. This is not to say that we would cease the purchase of all sorts of expensive, irrelevant equipment right away (a precipitous withdrawal). That sort of picky shopping might reduce some of our billionaires to the drudgery of the “earned income” category.

What such a change in policy would suggest is that we would have a continuously smaller and less potent military. Fewer tax dollars means fewer soldiers (but probably not fewer wars).

Here we come, once more, to the H-bombs. Oh yes, we wasted five trillion on stars wars, but we finally paid for those old ICBMs from the 1960’s! We now own them, free and clear! They are like roads and bridges and dams. Of course, the billionaires enjoy the nebulous advantage of the security they provide along with the rest of us “earned income” types, but they don’t own them.

Are the ICBMs really the right weapon to fight “The Global War on Terrorism?” Well, probably not, but they are a weapon we can afford, especially since they are already paid for, and Lord knows, we have plenty of them. And, “You have to go to war with the weapons you have, not the weapons you want.”

Get it?

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Ignore the Man Behind the Curtain

Blog doc 22 The Rest of the Story? Where’s Paul Harvey when we need him?

Gee whiz. It would be wonderful if the campaigners would just stick to the issues. Well, we might need a bit of media honesty as a prelude to such a happy development. “The Rest of the Story” has to do with what the next Democratic President will do to correct all these insults.

It’s hard to ask for answers when you don’t know the questions.

So, what are the questions? Here are a few that seem to pop up in the media blackout.

In The News: Stuff that doesn’t seem to really be done yet.

Children’s health care: Okay. It got vetoed. Then what? Did we just give up? How can we find the facts about this?

National debt: 10 Trillion Dollars. Okay. Exactly what did we buy? This doesn’t include the war money we borrowed from China. How can we find the facts about this?

Global Warming: Right. We can’t do anything right now. The crooks need to get organized so they can loot all the money we’re going to spend. Plus, President Genius still thinks it is a faith based problem. How can we find the facts about this?

NAFTA: This is an awful thing that nobody did. All the awful things it did to American workers and business aren’t actually awful. It has to stay awful forever because there is nothing that can be done about something that nobody actually did. Besides, nobody ever even thought it was a good idea. How can we find the facts about this?

Veterans Administration: Simple. Don’t pay for what it needs. After the rats and the cockroaches are gone, shut up the story and say weird things about all the folks who won’t support the troops. Whatever the problem is, they did it. How can we find the facts about this?

Medicare Pharmaceutical Bill: See, it is bankrupting the country. It is the very best bill that could be written by the folks who get the money from bankrupting the country and passed by the Very Responsible Republicans in the Congress. At 3 AM. Was this the same phone call? Plus, it proves that universal health care is impossible. Or, at least, could be impossible if we let these same folks steal all the money. How can we find the facts about this?

Congressional Subpoenas: These are faith-based subpoenas. The President and his cronies have faith that these subpoenas should never be served. They don’t want to be war criminals or fraud felons. How can we find the facts about this?

Crooked Elections: This only happened once in Ohio. And Florida. And, it didn’t really even happen at all. If it had actually happened, the Democrats would have done something about it before the next election. So. It will be a thunderous landslide for McCain. Or maybe Bob Dole. We should call all the electronic voting machines back from Iraq. And Mexico. Do we export democracy or crooked elections. Right? Right? How can we find the facts about this?

K-Street: These lobbyists are actually the only people anywhere who actually know what the voting electorate of the country really wants. They haven’t done such a bad job of running the Congress they bought. Oh yes, they are a little expensive compared to Federal campaign financing, but how could anyone run the government just based on what we think? How can we find the facts about this?

Federal Prosecutors: Did they throw them out for political reasons or not? Their world doesn’t end with a bang. It ends with a whimper. Who possibly cares what happened, anyway? In fact, who hasn’t already been confused enough? Who hasn’t forgotten all about it? Harriet Meiers? Dick Cheney? How can we find the facts about this?

Signing Statements: What right thinking President wouldn’t want to just keep going with them? Do we really need to write legislation to resurrect the Constitution or what? How can we find the facts about this?

Habeas Corpus: Why should we worry about some faith-based problem in the Magna Carta? Anyway, we might figure it out while we are racing for a trial before death from old age. Especially if we start while we are still young. Think about it. With no trials we would get even with all those lawyers. How can we find the facts about this?

911 Commission: Uh, weren’t there supposed to be two parts to this thing? Maybe Bush’s toady who was running that outfit just got too embarrassed. You know, maybe about the faith-based collapse of building seven. Just remember: “They hate our freedom.” I guess. Keep moving. There is nothing to see here. Everything is exactly what we said it is. How can we find the facts about this?

Governor Siegelman: The Republicans cheated this Alabama Governor out of his election. Then they threw him in prison. Then they threw away the key. Boy, oh boy, does this baby ever stink! Faith-based justice? No, It just stinks. How can we find the facts about this?

Torture: If a certain draft-dodger says it isn’t torture, well, that means it isn’t torture. Yes, of course it is disgusting, but more than anything else, it is grotesque. Like the rest of it. How can we find the facts about this?

War Profiteering: Harry Truman was a trouble making fire brand. This is not treason. It is not treason because it is less than a trillion dollars. That means it is a misdemeanor. Right? No need to investigate. Move along. Nothing happening here. How can we find the facts about this?

Outing CIA Operative: Well, this bitch was asking for it. After all, it was her mean old husband who tried to embarrass the President when he was lying about yellow cake in the State of the Union. She needed to mind her own business, the harpy. Oh, it was her business. Never mind. It doesn’t matter. Dick Cheney can’t go to jail because he has a heart condition, a pardoning President and a string of failed Attorneys General. How can we find the facts about this?

Scooter Libbey: While we are at it, let’s see. The Special Prosecutor was supposed to figure out what happened. Scooter obstructed. The President commuted. Dick Cheney is as innocent as the driven snow. That’s it. Move along. Nothing happening here. How can we find the facts about this?

Federal Election Commission: (See also “Crooked Elections”) The FEC can’t really do anything because nothing really actually happened. Anyway, the FEC can’t do anything because there aren’t enough commissioners to vote in a quorum. So, that means there isn’t any election fraud. It also means that whatever McCaine did with his federal money is, well, okay. Right? You bet! How can we find the facts about this?

Katrina Reconstruction: God sent the hurricane to drive all the evil Democrats and other wrong colored people somewhere else. Now, New Orleans is a Republican city and all the bad people are just sitting there whining about the poison gas in their trailers. For $60 Billion it was a good deal. You know, heaven sent. “Great job, Brownie!” Did everyone get their money? How can we find the facts about this?

Iraq intelligence: No. No. No. It wasn’t a bunch of cheap oil stealing lies. It was an honest mistake. Anyway, what does it matter now? Do you possibly think that sacrificing General Powell didn’t hurt the President? You bet it did! So. It was faith-based intelligence about Jesus and Crusades and stuff. What else could we have possibly done? How can we find the facts about this?

Science: Certain complaining voters want their money back for all the science they paid for that got crapped by the faith-based truth squads. Stem cells, global warming, NASA. What a bunch of whiners. What do all these voters even know about something like this, anyway? Come on. How can we find the facts about this?

We are clearly living in an engineered environment where the autocrat is insulated from the consequences of these deceptions. Amazingly enough, we citizens have actually bought into the propaganda message that there are no consequences! Somewhere in this preliminary list are at least a couple of ideas for questions for one of those “debates.” Still, maybe it is better to talk about patriotism. “If Rev. Wright were a talking frog, and he said the bitter thing, would he be more patriotic than you are?” After all, we must not forget that “They hate our freedom.”

Saturday, April 12, 2008

How Happy Destiny Strikes the Hour in Iraq!

Blog doc 21 Entreaties to the Coincidence of Paranoia

Extracting actual news in a culture of media blackout is always, at its best, a suspect process. We watch what has been selected for our corporately interpreted interests with a kind of voluntary suspension of disbelief. Yet, although presented as features of our reality without even the most insignificant connection, one to another, we see ethereal “threads” running from one story to another.

We express our utmost gratitude to these corporate knowledge managers for not upsetting us with some whimsical apparition of casual consecutiveness between these troubling, yet innocently congruent, “entirely independent” stories. By “entirely independent” we mean stories which have absolutely, positively nothing to do with each other, yet stories which have been cast by the timing of inescapable “Fate,” or perhaps inexorable “Destiny,” to an erroneous state of possible relational causality. There are many of these sinister little tid bits inadvertently thrown to us, but here we shall consider exactly two of them.

The first will be our Defense Department’s provocative contract to acquire military aircraft tankers from a foreign source. And, not just any foreign source but that (“Freedom Fries”) really sneaky French Source! Oh my! Unlike the sweet and profitable relationship between our own giant aircraft manufacturer, Boeing, and our own pure, stalwart capitalistic (“by your own boot straps”) government, these mean Frenchmen have SUBSIDIZED Air Bus in ways that make it an UNFAIR COMPETITOR!

Now, now. All of this was a little complicated to have a lasting life in our short memories or our news coverage, so we can just go ahead mindlessly to the next news story. Blah. Blah. Blah. But then, egads! Air Bus returns to the news! It will be none other then these same, unfairly SUBSIDIZED Air Bus MD-80’s which will suddenly reappear as the troublesome safety problems which booted a quarter million American air travelers out of their reservations in a single week!

The FAA, an entirely innocent, nonpolitical agency dedicated to the safety of the American traveler grounds 2,500 flights in a desperate administrative gambit to, somehow, resurrect at least a bare modicum of safety in these unfairly SUBSIDIZED “death buses” made and sold by the very (“Freedom Fries”) sneaky Europeans who declined to accompany us to the glorious salvation of Iraq!

It was entirely innocent. Boeing has no undue influence in our government. The FAA, although it found no particular actual cases of this near-fatal wiring problem, acted without any possible consideration other than our safety.

It was a COINCIDENCE, stupid! Quit being so paranoid!

Now, for another example of the cruelties of this nothing less than sheer “Fate” as it injects stories of yet another one of these innocent coincidences into our dynamic and penetrating media culture.

Mr. Malaki, the pretend-autocrat of Iraq, throws his shaky Iraqi Defense Force at the militias in Basra. No one, and perhaps we should emphasize here, no one, thought that this was a tactic which could even possibly yield anything more than additional confusion to Iraq’s ongoing tragedy.

Oh yes, aside from being rather incomprehensible, Mr. Malaki’s action was “brave,” “independent,” “promising,” “determined,” “a new beginning” and, of course, “a concrete sign of the great improvement of the situation” which was a result of “the stupendous success of our surge,” “a new reconciliatory atmosphere in the pretend-government of Iraq,” “a clear signal to the Iranians to stay out of Iraq’s domestic affairs,” “a new commitment to the extension of Iraqi law and order over all the country” and “proof that our coalition allies, especially Britain, had been completely vindicated by the great work they had done in the South (near the entirely innocent oil pipeline).

Well, as “Fate” would have it, this excursion (400 to 1,200 dead) into Basra was, of course, a GRAND success! Coupled with US air strikes against some of the more difficult areas of resistance, this crack team of Iraqi Security Forces (some of them have been in intensive training by the US military for as long as four years!) was able to prevail in scattered areas of the port city for almost three days before the evil militias sent them running to the cease-fire table.

And not just any cease-fire table. And, in fact, not the cease-fire table run by the high-borne ideals of the American military. Rats. It was that other cease-fire table run by the illegal terrorists of the Iranian Kudz! Oh well, these are just complicated details which won’t merit more than a single mention, you know, as an aside, in our network news. Perhaps on our late Friday night recap.

Far more important and even cosmically more fortuitously coincidental, this GRAND success became available as another serendipitous cosmetic for The General and The Ambassador Talking Frog Show! Added to the “peace” in the now successfully bribed desert trailer park known as Anbar, even the imminently rational and judicious Lindsey Graham (Not the rat-faced boy! It’s probably botox.) would now be comfortable interpreting these promising, although innocently coincidental events for those of us who would otherwise still be suffering from a news blackout. It is just so fortunate that Mr. Malaki, entirely on his own initiative, that is, without any urging from us in any possible way, no matter how subtle, undertook this Iraqi suicide run at just the right moment to have it available for the Talking Frog Show!

And. Bingo! GREAT SUCCESS! What a coincidence, stupid!

Friday, April 11, 2008

The Telephone Call

Blog doc 20 Afternoons with John

It’s three o’clock in the afternoon in the White House.

The telephone rings.

President McCain is taking his nap.

The Chief of Staff rushes through the halls toward the phone, frantically trying to answer before it rings again. He takes a message.

The President can get a bit cranky if he is disturbed in the afternoon.

After all, remember what happened to Paraguay.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Waterboarding Only Takes a Minute

Blog doc 19 My Hand in Distant Torture

There was an endless, pundit driven debate, slightly nauseating, over the question: “Is this a civil war [in Iraq]?” There was another, also slightly nauseating, debate over the question: “Is this a recession?” Here, however, we must consider yet another nauseating question: “Is this torture?”

Well, we can take some comfort from the fact that we didn’t really do it too much. In fact, on considering what we did, some, several, many, most folks don’t really think it was torture. In any event, what could it have to do with us, anyway? It amounted to a few days of panic, hysterical screaming elicited from a really bad person. No more than that.

Once it was complete, there were a trickle of bad feelings, all originating from some Moslem whose name we never knew. If he was lucky enough to encounter our “high-borne,” idealistic side, he returned to his life of poverty and insignificance. Once there, he could begin his own journey toward “forgiveness” or “I just got what I deserved.”

Of course, he told his grandchildren. And they told their neighbors. And the daughters of these neighbors told their sons. And these sons talked about this with other sons after school. So, did it become perpetual in some esoteric way?

Sliding forward a decade, or several decades, we encounter yet more war. One of these other sons, one of those who talked about it fifth hand, years later, after school, now finds himself with a Kalishnikov and twenty-eight bullets. He is hiding behind the wreckage of a wall which used to be part of a mosque, before the air planes, before the bombs. They bombed the mosque a day after they bombed his uncle.

There are a few targets, all U.S. Marines. They are good shots. They have plenty of everything. Good rifles. Good bullets. Good boots. They seem to be everywhere, and they already suspect he is there somewhere, waiting for his shot. It might be his shot at one of them. It might be their shot. At him.

Three of the other boys had already been captured that morning. This boy had never read the great debate in the New York Times about whether or not it was torture. All he knew about it came from the after school talks with his friends. Still, there was the question for him. “Should I sacrifice everything to get my chance to put one of these bullets in one of those Marines?” or “Should I let them take me? At least then I might have a chance. But, ...”

Facts mean nothing. Facts mean everything.

Friday, April 4, 2008

The Basic Rules of Conflict

Rifles for Peace 18

Military conflicts, no matter who hosts them or what the prize might be, are habitually fought at levels. There are players who involve themselves -- or, in fact, instigate the matter -- for the final incentive of great material gains, usually the control of resources or stabilized power for all sorts of advantage. There are the others, aside from the plebiscite who inevitably make the armies of the ambitious, who will struggle to resist the reassignment of wealth sought by the former, commonly those with control of such advantages at the outset.

In the isolated calm of the United States we receive the news of such conflicts portrayed as abstractions. And not, by the way, as innocent portrayals. Our images are always constructed from the fabric of the implied interests of the participants if not outrightly as their conveniently named ideologies. National sincerity which would reasonably be directed at the man with his finger on the trigger or the man with the new bullet hole in his chest is de-energized as these players are replaced with speech makers and bar charts estimating the change in ownership of, well, everything involved.

We indulge media focused on the reasons for conflict rather than the results of it. As a consequence, we willingly make the assumption that the whole affair is little more than a misunderstanding, one we could correct if only all those at war weren’t so mistakenly head strong. Or religious. Or hungry. Or thirsty. Or even, perhaps, if these victims didn’t mind so much when they were raped. Or enslaved. Or made into refugees. Sometimes, there is not enough of anything for both sides to have what they need.

Oh, it all seems so intractable! We simply must take sides or miss the opportunity to flaunt our sterile high ground. Yet, all these people are so difficult! Our historical national maturity makes the enticing suggestion that it might be better to let them get it all out of their systems. After all, in every case future peace has begun with the stink of the moments after the battles have ended.

Is there a possibility of ending it? We seem, as a nation, unable to rise above our greed long enough to make much of a contribution. Every time it appears that we are ready to help, we see the same depressing old style U.S. subterfuge. Fifteen billion dollars for AIDS in Africa seemed like a truly high-borne idea. Yet, we find contracts for the most expensive drugs from our U.S. suppliers. We see a nifty new trade agreement with India to stop producing generics. We see a grotesque President with his erectile fascination with abstinence.

Is anyone else embarrassed?

There might be a solution arriving on this troubled scene -- one materializing from an unlikely quarter. Returning to this violent inclination infecting our world, we have always been, at least we have said we were, strong proponents for disarmament. Gee, if we could initiate a cease fire and follow it up with a major dose of “turning in” weapons, peace might break out in these four hundred or so constant local wars.

Perhaps the solution lies in driving these ugly little situations in a different direction. Instead of disarming the combatants, perhaps we should consider arming them!

Now, with existing technology this might seem to a bit of a stretch. However, with new technology there might be, at least, a fleeting promise of making sense from some of this chaos. After all, what is going on now is a picture of refugees, rape victims and other war torn civilians. Military violence has a special attraction when one side is heavily out gunned in the conflict. This idea holds true whether you find the conflict in the deepest jungles of Africa or in the first class section of a hijacked air liner. Indulging either temptation turns out to be much less “manly” when everyone can shoot back!

Yet, pouring guns into unstable regions, at least guns in the current sense of the word, can guarantee and endless struggle. Placing guns, again guns in the current sense of the word in the hands of every airline passenger, would probably evoke all sorts of mischief. We will need different guns!

Visit the train wreck at Darfur. Supply them all with weapons and ammunition, but supply them with weapons which can last no longer than one year. At the end of their usable cycle, these guns become permanently worthless. During the year, put such a rifle in the hands of the woman who was raped and beaten on the way to her watering hole. See if conditions change.

Weapons such as these could probably never be used in much of an offensive way [there is still the issue of ammunition supplies]. On the other hand, slugs pass through the bodies of bullies with the same effect as they do when passing through the bodies of civilians.

As for the jet liners. Put a pouch under the tray table. It is locked until the pilot throws a panic switch in the cockpit. Then it falls open, placing an airline version of a single shot, gas cartridge driven weapon in the hands of every passenger. It fires a tumbling plastic bullet that cannot penetrate the shell of the fuselage, but can penetrate the body of a hijacker.

Gee whiz! Can we think that passengers could handle this? Possibly the young men, perhaps soldiers on the way home, but never the old man who has already had a couple of beers or the old lady who was doing her knitting just before the mad man took over. Gosh, some of them would miss! Darn, some of them would never do it!

On the other hand, if you were a nervous hijacker and you suddenly saw twenty or thirty of these little guns pointing at you from the passenger seats in the plane, well, it might change the way things turned out in the end.

Arms for peace? Why not?