The New Iran Treaty


Fascinating book.


Except we have a horrible track record in that regard. I visited the military cadet school ESMA in Buenos Aires in January. Many thousands of people were kidnapped, tortured, and disappeared there, mostly by throwing them out of airplanes into the ocean. The United States, through the CIA, provided planning, training, and logistical assistance to the military dictatorship in carrying this out. I’m relatively certain that the U.S.'s actions in our own hemisphere have been, on balance, nefarious–actively opposed to “democracy, self-rule, human rights.”


This includes, and was mostly centered on, “information retrieval” training. It was the torturers and executioners who the US trained, not the troops.


We have always promoted the freedom for other countries to do exactly what we tell them.


So, I did a little googling and came up with the basic data that the largest populations in the US are 24 +/- and 54 +/-. And the older you get the more likely you are to vote.

In 2016 37% of young voters went Trump. 43% of the oldest group went HIllary.

I still haven’t figured out how to post an image so sorry for the above. But while I don’t claim that as the final word I do think condemning entire groups is pretty idiotic.


You make it sound like collective punishment is unfair or something.

Seriously, I wonder if group demonization obeys a conservation law.


I would send all Cowboy and Yankee fans out of the country.


Add in Packers and Cardinals fans, and you have a deal.


Interesting Der Spiegel interview with Michael Hayden, CIA director under Bush. Not that he is, umm, such a swell guy in his own right. But anyway.

DER SPIEGEL: So why did Trump decide to pull out of it, despite the advice of his intelligence agencies?

Hayden: Because he doesn’t make decisions based upon objective reality. He has this kind of a priori, assumed narrative of the way the world works, and he has almost a natural self-confidence in it. Almost all American presidents have said: “On balance, the more free trade there is, the better it is for America. On balance, immigration is a net positive for the United States of America. On balance, America is strengthened by having mature, strong allies.” And we now have a president who is opposed to free trade, who views immigrants as a threat and who views allies as a burden. And that’s turning the America of the last 75 years on its head. The single most powerful predictor of where the president comes down on any given issue is where Barack Obama was. He does the exact opposite of what Obama did. You’ve got the Affordable Care Act, the Paris Climate Accord, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, Syria, and now the Iran deal.

Another curious bit. One minute I’m like “you bastard!” and then I’m like “you reasonable bastard!”

DER SPIEGEL: The reputation of intelligence agencies has suffered tremendously in the last several years, partly due to the many scandals: the CIA torture program after 9/11, the justification for the Iraq War, mass surveillance as unveiled by Edward Snowden. Isn’t Trump partly right in criticizing the agencies?

Hayden: I don’t have to accept all of your premises to answer your question. But American intelligence is a human enterprise, sometimes you have a good day, sometimes you don’t. Full disclosure, I’m in the room voting for the Iraq national intelligence estimate. I’ve got fingerprints on renditions, detentions, interrogations, targeted killings and electronic surveillance. You can probably tell from my tone, I’m cool with that. What I did was effective, lawful and appropriate.

DER SPIEGEL: But isn’t that the major problem for U.S. agencies: that they either got it wrong in crucial situations or pushed the envelope too hard?

Hayden: We have always rested uneasily inside American democracy. I was fond of saying as director of NSA, I only need to be two things to be successful – powerful and secretive. On balance, American intelligence is actually a pretty good enterprise. We’ve never been used by a president as a political tool, which not all agencies around the world are able to say about themselves. When Donald Trump tweeted after the election that Obama wiretapped his phones in Trump Tower, there was the allegation underneath it that Barack Obama used American espionage for political purposes. In an interview afterward, the president said: “A lot of people agree with me, that’s why I’m right.” That’s it. That’s the post-truth world.


Never mind, he’s just a bastard.

DER SPIEGEL: You are a strong supporter of Gina Haspel’s nomination as CIA director, although she was deeply involved in the torture program on CIA “black sites.” Why is she the right candidate?

Hayden: Who else you got? By merit alone she’s a very good and wonderful choice.

DER SPIEGEL: She helped destroy video tapes of the torture interrogations.

Hayden: First of all, we don’t define it as torture. And second, she didn’t destroy evidence. She was a key member of our counterterrorism center for extended periods of time.


Yeah. As I’ve said before, one of the worst things about Trump is that he’s made us reliant upon the grotesque and fundamentally evil intelligence community to salvage democracy from a dictator, but talk about getting into bed with the devil…


Hayden was a neocon. You can disagree with his methods and premises, but what he illustrates is how much worse Trump is.

Hayden did things you think are terrible, but he had the best interests of the country on mind. He wasn’t a traitor. He wasn’t doing it to get rich.

In many cases, Trump supports those exact same acts, like torture… But not because it will actually help the country. He doesn’t care at all. Trump supports torture because he wants to look tough. He’s just feeding his own ego.

The two people are inherently different.


Dunno. The Bush administration/neocons tried to “act tough” too. There must have been some ego involved. Maybe Trump is just more of a loner (wolf?) versus a pack wolf (or whatever)?


The tough act for the neocons served a purpose though.

For Trump, it’s just that he wants people to perceive him, personally, as tough.


Yeah, while I disagree with a lot of the premises Hayden is working under–things like the idea that his actions and the actions of other groups in places like Iraq and Afghanistan, for example, were inherently effective and necessary–at least I can understand him. You can work with someone like that, even if you don’t like him.


I cannot fathom working with a torturer. Dude deserves to be in prison, ideally suffering the same torments he inflicted on his victims. Preferably done by machines, both for precision accuracy and also to prevent creating an imprisoned-torturer recursive loop.


Pretty much.


The tough act was delusional.


The future God-emperor does think things through.


Quite possibly. I wouldn’t like working with Hayden, but at least I’m reasonably confident we could get things accomplished, and no, they wouldn’t all have to be horrible things. People like that need a strong civilian leadership to keep them in line, sort of like the dogs of war you let slip when crying havoc becomes the pressing need. I’m under no illusions about how statecraft ends up working, but I do like to keep the horrors to a minimum. Someone like Hayden will actually listen to arguments and, probably, follow orders.

But yeah, torture is more about your own psychology than it is about actual results To work it has to be widespread, inevitable upon capture, and focused on very specific bits of information that people can, and will, divulge with regularity. In Algeria, for instance, the French used it fairly successfully it seems to extract the names of other cell members from captured FLN people. They laboriously built up their picture of the group’s organization this way. But the cost was astronomical. For one thing, they had to torture everyone, as they didn’t know who was FLN until, well, they divulged their contacts. This of course pissed off so many people that even though the French “won” the Battle of Algiers, they lost the war. For another, it undermined the entire war effort even more than it was already undermined, and poisoned future relations with Algeria.

There’s a great scene in Pontecorvo’s magnificent film The Battle of Algiers where Col. Matthieu, a composite of the French para colonels who fought the battle, bluntly asks the assembled press whether they want to keep Algeria French or not. He says, if you do, then you have to condone and accept our methods. Your other choice is to abandon Algeria; torture is the price of empire. Blunt, honest, and to the point, in that context at least. He was right, too; empire rested on violence and torture, just like Fanon says. That doesn’t mean all foreign policy should.