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Fraudulence in Science and Politics

Thursday, April 24th, 2008

Fraud in the pharmaceutic industry:

According to the Sydney Morning Herald (April 17, 08), the US pharmaceutical company Merck has been accused of having lined up doctors (who apparently were not involved in the research) to put their names on publications in academic journals. Such ghost-writing appears to be widespread and calls into question all legitimate research of the pharmaceutic industry. Merck disputes this: although acknowledging that it sometimes paid medical writers to draft reports, it says that it then handed the reports to the doctors who did the research. However, an editorial in the Journal of the American Medical Association states that Merck had indeed manipulated a considerable number of publications promoting the pain drug Vioxx (which was withdrawn from the market in 2004 because it was linked to heart attacks, with Merck agreeing to pay $US 4.85 billion in compensation), and that some of the authors had contributed little to the work. It suggests that each author of publications in medical journals should report his/her specific contribution.

Fraud in the politicical information industry:

The New York Times April 20, 2008, published a comprehensive report on how the Bush administration has mislead the public. Full report here:

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/20/washington/20generals.html?_r=1&hp&oref=slogin

The Times successfully sued the Defense Department to gain access to 8,000 pages of e-mail messages, transcripts and records describing years of private briefings, trips to Iraq and Guantánamo and an extensive Pentagon talking points operation. Its report is based on these data.

Some excerpts here:

“How the Pentagon Spread Its Message”

“Hidden behind that appearance of objectivity, though, is a Pentagon information apparatus that has used those analysts in a campaign to generate favorable news coverage of the administration’s wartime performance…..”

“The effort, which began with the buildup to the Iraq war and continues to this day, has sought to exploit ideological and military allegiances, and also a powerful financial dynamic: Most of the analysts have ties to military contractors vested in the very war policies they are asked to assess on air.
Those business relationships are hardly ever disclosed to the viewers, and sometimes not even to the networks themselves. But collectively, the men on the plane and several dozen other military analysts represent more than 150 military contractors either as lobbyists, senior executives, board members or consultants. The companies include defense heavyweights, but also scores of smaller companies, all part of a vast assemblage of contractors scrambling for hundreds of billions in military business generated by the administration’s war on terror. It is a furious competition, one in which inside information and easy access to senior officials are highly prized.”

“In turn, members of this group have echoed administration talking points, sometimes even when they suspected the information was false or inflated. Some analysts acknowledge they suppressed doubts because they feared jeopardizing their access.”

“the campaign amounted to a sophisticated information operation. “This was a coherent, active policy,” he said.”

“Many analysts strongly denied that they had either been co-opted or had allowed outside business interests to affect their on-air comments, and some have used their platforms to criticize the conduct of the war. Several, like Jeffrey D. McCausland, a CBS military analyst and defense industry lobbyist, said they kept their networks informed of their outside work and recused themselves from coverage that touched on business interests.”

“Some network officials, meanwhile, acknowledged only a limited understanding of their analysts’ interactions with the administration. They said that while they were sensitive to potential conflicts of interest, they did not hold their analysts to the same ethical standards as their news employees regarding outside financial interests.”

“Again and again, records show, the administration has enlisted analysts as a rapid reaction force to rebut what it viewed as critical news coverage, some of it by the networks’ own Pentagon correspondents. For example, when news articles revealed that troops in Iraq were dying because of inadequate body armor, a senior Pentagon official wrote to his colleagues: “I think our analysts … properly armed … can push back in that arena”

“Conversely, the administration has demonstrated that there is a price for sustained criticism, many analysts said. You’ll lose all access, …”

See also

http://blog.une.edu.au/klausrohde/2008/01/24/iraq-and-the-military-pr-industrial-complex/

http://blog.une.edu.au/klausrohde/2008/01/09/the-military-pr-industrial-complex-past-and-present/

http://blog.une.edu.au/klausrohde/2007/10/07/the-political-responsibility-of-scientists/

http://blog.une.edu.au/klausrohde/2007/05/02/the-pillars-of-democracy-a-free-press/

http://blog.une.edu.au/klausrohde/2008/04/07/the-pillars-of-democracy-a-free-press-continued/

http://blog.une.edu.au/klausrohde/2007/03/27/iraq-war-casualties-and-iran/

Whether in science, the economy or in the media, data evaluation by people whose objectivity might be jeopardized by financial or other interests, will lead to corruption. Such corruption in politics may have catastrophic effects on the stability of the system.

Klaus Rohde: Latitudinal Gradients in Species Diversity, Reproductive Strategies and Geographical Ranges.

Friday, March 28th, 2008

I am frequently receiving requests for information about my work on latitudinal gradients in species diversity, reproductive strategies and latitudinal ranges. To make it easier to find my references on this work, I publish a list below. Abstracts of some of these papers can be found on my homepage http://www-personal.une.edu.au/~krohde, key publications.

Rohde, K. 1978. Latitudinal differences in species diversity and their causes. I. A review of the hypotheses explaining the gradients. Biologisches Zentralblatt, 97, 393-403.

Rohde, K. 1978. Latitudinal gradients in species diversity and their causes. II. Marine parasitological evidence for a time hypothesis. Biologisches Zentralblatt, 97, 405-418.

Rohde, K. 1978. Latitudinal differences in host specificity of marine Monogenea and Digenea. Marine Biology, 47, 125-134.

Rohde, K. 1985. Increased viviparity of marine parasites at high latitudes. Hydrobiologia, 127, 197-201.

Rohde, K., Heap, M. and Heap, D. 1993. Rapoport’s rule does not apply to marine teleosts and cannot explain latitudinal gradients in species richness. American Naturalist, 142, 1-16.

Rohde, K. and Heap, M. 1996. Latitudinal ranges of teleost fish in the Atlantic and Indo-Pacific Oceans. American Naturalist, 147, 659-665.

Rohde, K. 1996. Rapoport’s Rule is a local phenomenon and cannot explain latitudinal gradients in species diversity. Biodiversity Letters, 3, 10-13.

Poulin, R. and Rohde, K. 1997. Comparing the richness of metazoan ectoparasite communities of marine fishes: controlling for host phylogeny. Oecologia, 110, 278-283.

Rohde, K. 1997. The larger area of the tropics does not explain latitudinal gradients in species diversity. Oikos, 79, 169-172.

Rohde, K. and Heap, M. 1998. Latitudinal differences in species and community richness and in community structure of metazoan endo- and ectoparasites of marine teleost fish. International Journal for Parasitology, 28, 461-474.

Rohde, K. 1998. Latitudinal gradients in species diversity. Area matters, but how much? Oikos, 82, 184-190.

Rohde, K. 1999. Latitudinal gradients in species diversity and Rapoport’s rule revisited: a review of recent work, and what can parasites teach us about the causes of the gradients? Ecography, 22, 593-613 (invited Minireview on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Nordic Ecological Society Oikos). Also published in Fenchel, T. ed.: Ecology 1999-and tomorrow, pp. 73-93. Oikos Editorial Office, University Lund, Sweden.

Rohde, K. 2002. Ecology and biogeography of marine parasites. Advances in Marine Biology, 43, 1-86.

Rohde, K. 2005. Latitudinal, longitudinal and depth gradients. In: K.Rohde (ed.). Marine Parasitology. CSIRO Publishing, Melbourne and CABI Publishing, Wallingford, Oxon, 348-351, 526-527.

Rohde, K. 2005. Eine neue Ökologie. Aktuelle Probleme der evolutionären Ökologie. Naturwissenschaftliche Rundschau, 58, 420-426.

Rohde, K. and Stauffer, D. 2005. Simulation of geographical trends in Chowdhury ecosystem model. Advances in Complex Systems 8, 451-464.

Rohde, K. 2005. Nonequilibrium Ecology. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 223 pp. ISBN 052 1854 34.

Stauffer, D and. Rohde, K. 2006. Simulation of Rapoport’s rule for latitudinal species spread. Theory in Biosciences 125, 55-65.

Stauffer, D., Schulze, C. and Rohde, K. 2007. Habitat width along a latitudinal gradient. Vie et Milieu 57, 181-187.

Annan on Darfur and Iran

Sunday, March 23rd, 2008

Annan: ‘Hypocrisy’ in global response to Darfur (CNN Online March 21, 2008)

(Full article here).

Extracts:

“At a dinner in his honor on Thursday, Annan” (the former Secretary General of the United Nations) “said U.N. member states had placed the duty to protect civilians threatened by genocide or war crimes in the hands of the members of the Security Council.
“It is fair to question whether all of them have yet fully lived up to that responsibility — notably in Darfur,” Annan said.”

“As secretary-general, Annan promoted the concept of an international “responsibility to protect” those caught in conflict that was adopted by world leaders at a 2005 summit. He also played a key role in the establishment of the International Criminal Court, the world’s first permanent war crimes tribunal.”

“Annan spoke at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, where he received the first MacArthur Award for International Justice from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation at a dinner attended by 1,200 people.”

“Earlier in the day at wide-ranging round-table with journalists, Annan warned that military action against Iran would be “a real disaster” and the whole region could explode if the world community does not handle the many conflicts there carefully.

“The Iranian nuclear issue should be resolved through dialogue, he said.”
“We cannot, I’m sure, take on another military action in Iran, and I hope no one is contemplating it. It would be a real disaster,” Annan stressed.

It seems to me that Annan would not have stressed the danger of war against Iran without the belief that military action against Iran is indeed a real possibility. See my previous posts

http://blog.une.edu.au/klausrohde/2008/03/12/an-ominous-sign-admiral-fallon-resigns/

and

http://blog.une.edu.au/klausrohde/2008/01/08/iran-and-the-military-pr-industrial-complex/

Inaccurate translations of what the Iranian president is supposed to have said about Israel, uncritically accepted by some Western politicians and spread by a biassed press, are dangerous tools in preparations for war. See here.

Merkel in Israel

Thursday, March 20th, 2008

Die Bundeskanzlerin hat eine in Israel gut aufgenommene Rede über die deutsch-israelischen Beziehungen in Jerusalem gehalten. Es sollte keinen Zweifel daran geben, dass jeder Deutsche die Bemühungen, die Versöhnung mit Israel voranzutreiben, unterstätzen sollte. Diese Bemühungen dürfen aber nicht zu Kosten der Bemühungen gehen, eine gerechte Lösung nicht nur der palästinensischen Frage, sondern auch der Probleme im gesamten Mittleren Osten herbeizuführen. Die Geschichte wird darüber urteilen, ob die Politik der jetzigen deutschen Regierung dazu beiträgt.

Der Charakter des Islam.

Sunday, March 16th, 2008

Zwei Auszüge aus einem Artikel von Henryk M. Broder in Spiegel online 15.3.08. Vollständiger Artikel hier.

“HOLLÄNDISCHER POPULIST WILDERS
Wie ein Filmprojekt weltweit Panik auslöst

Ein Filmprojekt, das Schlimmstes befürchten lässt: Der holländische Rechtspopulist Wilders will einen Streifen über den Islam drehen – und noch bevor die erste Szene zu sehen ist, versuchen Politiker weltweit, ihn zu verhindern. Andernfalls könne es in vielen Ländern zu Blutvergiessen kommen.”

“Ende November 2007 erklärte Wilders, er arbeite an einem Film, der “den intoleranten und faschistischen Charakter des Koran” zeigen werde. Sprecher des Innen- und des Justizministeriums äusserten sich daraufhin besorgt, betonten aber zugleich, sie hätten keine Mittel, den Abgeordneten von seinem Plan abzubringen oder die Ausstrahlung des Films zu verhindern.”

Im folgenden ein paar Worte über den Charakter des Islam.

“Glauben und Unglauben teilen sich in Oberes und Unteres; Himmel und Höllle sind den Bekennern und Leugnern zugedacht. Nähere Bestimmung des Gebotenen und Verbotenen, fabelhafte Geschichten jüdischer und christlicher Religion, Amplifikationen aller Art, grenzenlose Tautologien und Wiederholungen bilden den Körper dieses heiligen Buches, das uns, so oft wir auch darangehen, immer von neuem anwidert, dann aber anzieht, in Erstaunen setzt und am Ende Verehrung abnötigt.”
(Goethe, Noten und Abhandlungen zum West-östlichen Divan; zitiert in Annemarie Schimmels Einleitung zur deutschen Uebersetzung des Koran von Max Henning, Reclam 1960).

Wie der Koran, so ist auch die Bibel, vor allem das Alte Testament, voller blutrünstiger Aussagen, die im historischen Zusammenhang verstanden werden müssen. Vielleicht kann mir jemand helfen, der bibelfester ist als ich: gibt es Bibelstellen, die zur Toleranz anderer Religionen aufrufen, wie zum Beispiel die Sure 109 des Koran?

“Im Namen Allahs, des Erbarmers, des Barmherzigen!
Sprich: O ihr Ungläubigen,
Ich diene nicht dem, dem ihr dienet,
Und ihr seid nicht Diener dessen, dem ich diene.
Und ich bin nicht Diener dessen, dem ihr dienet,
Und ihr seid nicht Diener dessen, dem ich diene.
Euch euer Glaube und mir mein Glaube.”

Ueber viele Jahrhunderte, als die christlichen Länder Muslime und Juden unterdrückten und oft ausrotteten, man denke nur an die spanische Inquisition, waren muslimische Länder Zufluchtsorte der Vertriebenen, bezeugt durch die grossen jüdischen Kolonien und Synagogen in diesen Ländern. Aus politischen Gründen änderte sich diese Haltung vor nicht allzulanger Zeit. Viele der gegenwärtigen Kontroversen sind nicht primär religiös sondern eindeutig politisch. Der Islam ist keine einheitliche Religion, sondern ist stark durch stammes- und historisch- bedingte Vorurteile in den verschiedenen Ländern geprägt. Um nur ein Beispiel zu nennen: Bangladesh hatte zwei weibliche Präsidentinnen oder Premierministerinnen, die Türkei eine, Pakistan eine, kaum denkbar zum Beispiel in Afghanistan.

Für einige weitere Informationen über Sex und Islam siehe
http://blog.une.edu.au/klausrohde/2007/06/03/sex-and-islam/

An Ominous Sign? Admiral Fallon resigns.

Wednesday, March 12th, 2008

According to CNN News 11.3.08, Adm. William Fallon has resigned as chief of U.S. forces in the Middle East and Central Asia after more than a year in the post, citing what he called an inaccurate perception that he is at odds with the Bush administration over Iran. Full Article here.

“The perception that Fallon has opposed a drive toward military action against Iran from within the Bush administration dates to his confirmation hearings in January 2007, when he told the Senate that the United States needed to exhaust all diplomatic options in its disputes with the Islamic republic.
But he also has said that the United States would be able to take steps if Tehran were to attempt to block the Strait of Hormuz, the outlet of the Persian Gulf and a choke point for much of the world’s oil.
And he recently told CNN that the United States is looking for a peaceful settlement to disputes “in every case.””

See also http://blog.une.edu.au/klausrohde/2008/01/08/iran-and-the-military-pr-industrial-complex/

The Nobel Prize Winner Joseph Stiglitz on the Costs of the Iraq War

Friday, March 7th, 2008

Professor Stiglitz was interviewed yesterday on SBS Dateline about his views on the American and world economies and the costs of the Iraq war.

From Wikipedia:

“Joseph Eugene “Joe” Stiglitz (born February 9, 1943) is an American economist and a member of the Columbia University faculty. He is a recipient of the John Bates Clark Medal (1979) and the Nobel Prize in Economics (2001). Former Senior Vice President and Chief Economist of the World Bank, he is known for his critical view of globalization, free-market economists (whom he calls “free market fundamentalists”) and some international institutions like the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. In 2000 Stiglitz founded the Initiative for Policy Dialogue (IPD), a think tank on international development based at Columbia University. Since 2001 he has been a member of the Columbia faculty, and has held the rank of University Professor since 2003. He also chairs the University of Manchester’s Brooks World Poverty Institute and is a member of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences. Stiglitz is among ten most cited economists.”

Here are extracts from an article in Vanity Fair about a new book by J.E. Stiglitz and L.J.Bilmes, which discusses some of the same problems as those in the Dateline interview. The present disastrous condition of the American and global economies is largely due to the Iraq war.

The $3 Trillion War
After wildly lowballing the cost of the Iraq conflict at a mere $50 to $60 billion, the Bush administration has been concealing the full economic toll. The spending on military operations is merely the tip of a vast fiscal iceberg. In an excerpt from their new book, the authors calculate the grim bottom line.
by JOSEPH E. STIGLITZ and LINDA J. BILMES
April 2008

The Bush administration was wrong about the need for the Iraq war and about the benefits the war would bring to Iraq, to the region, and to America. It has also been wrong about the full cost of the war, and it continues to take steps to conceal that cost.”

“In the run-up to the war there were few public discussions of the likely price tag. When Lawrence Lindsey, President Bush’s economic adviser, suggested that it might reach $200 billion all told, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld dismissed the estimate as ‘baloney.’ Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz went as far as to suggest that Iraq’s postwar reconstruction would pay for itself through increased oil revenues.”

“By the administration’s own reckoning, then, the cost of the Iraq war, counting only the money officially appropriated, will soon be some $600 billion, or more than 10 times Rumsfeld’s original number.”

“But even the $600 billion number is disingenuous” which is to say false. The true cost of the war in Iraq, according to our calculations, will, by the time America has extricated itself, exceed $3 trillion. And this is a deliberately conservative estimate. The ultimate cost may well be much higher.”

“To understand why the true costs of the war are so much higher than the official estimates, we can start by looking at America’s veterans. No one has suffered more from the administration’s blindness and stinginess. To date, more than 1.6 million American troops have been deployed in the Iraq and Afghanistan operations. More than 4,000 have been killed. More than 65,000 have been wounded or injured, or have contracted a disease. Of the 750,000 troops who have been discharged so far, some 260,000 have been treated at veterans” medical facilities. Nearly 100,000 have been diagnosed as having mental-health conditions. Another 200,000 have sought counseling and re-adjustment services at walk-in vet centers.”

“The least fortunate among the veterans have suffered unimaginable horrors: brain trauma, amputations, burns, blindness, and spinal damage. Because a greater number of the injured are surviving today, the relative costs of long-term care will be greater than for any previous war. This is the surge the administration doesn’t talk about.”

For further information about Professor Stiglitz and this and other books click here.

Neues aus dem Nahen Osten: Wer brachte die Hamas an die Macht? (News from the Middle East: The Gaza Bombshell)

Friday, March 7th, 2008

Here is an extract of a recent article in Vanity Fair. Full article here.

The Gaza Bombshell
After failing to anticipate Hamas’s victory over Fatah in the 2006 Palestinian election, the White House cooked up yet another scandalously covert and self-defeating Middle East debacle: part Iran-contra, part Bay of Pigs. With confidential documents, corroborated by outraged former and current U.S. officials, David Rose reveals how President Bush, Condoleezza Rice, and Deputy National-Security Adviser Elliott Abrams backed an armed force under Fatah strongman Muhammad Dahlan, touching off a bloody civil war in Gaza and leaving Hamas stronger than ever.”

“But the secret plan backfired, resulting in a further setback for American foreign policy under Bush. Instead of driving its enemies out of power, the U.S.-backed Fatah fighters inadvertently provoked Hamas to seize total control of Gaza.”

“Within the Bush administration, the Palestinian policy set off a furious debate. One of its critics is David Wurmser, the avowed neoconservative, who resigned as Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief Middle East adviser in July 2007, a month after the Gaza coup.
Wurmser accuses the Bush administration of “engaging in a dirty war in an effort to provide a corrupt dictatorship [led by Abbas] with victory.” He believes that Hamas had no intention of taking Gaza until Fatah forced its hand. “

Und hier sind Auszüge aus

BERICHT ÜBER UMSTURZPLÄNE (Der Spiegel 6.3.08, der sich auf den Artikel in Vanity Fair beruft)

USA sollen Fatah mit Waffen ausgerüstet haben

“Schwere Vorwürfe gegen US-Präsident Bush und Aussenministerin Rice: Recherchen von “Vanity Fair” zufolge sollen sie heimlich die Entmachtung der palästinensischen Hamas betrieben und die Fatah mit Waffen ausgestattet haben. Ein Sprecher des US-Regierung nannte den Bericht absurd.”

“Ein Bericht des US-Magazins “Vanity Fair” hat hektische Betriebsamkeit in Washington ausgelöst. Hintergrund: Angebliche Geheimpläne der US-Regierung sind laut “Vanity Fair” für den blutigen Bürgerkrieg Mitte 2007 zwischen den beiden Palästinensergruppen Hamas und Fatah verantwortlich. Die US-Regierung habe 2006 aus den Reihen der Fatah von Palästinenserpräsident Mahmud Abbas eine palästinensische Truppe aufbauen und bewaffnen wollen, die die Hamas entmachten sollte, berichtete das Magazin in seiner Aprilausgabe. Protagonisten seien US-Präsident George W. Bush und Aussenministerin Condoleezza Rice gewesen. Das Blatt beruft sich auf Geheimdokumente, deren Inhalt von US- und Palästinenserkreisen bestätigt worden sei.”

Die Hamas habe ursprünglich gar nicht die Absicht gehabt, die Kontrolle im Gaza-Streifen im Juni 2007 zu übernehmen. “Was passiert ist, sah für mich nicht nach einem Putsch der Hamas aus, sondern nach einem versuchten Staatsstreich der Fatah, dem zuvorgekommen wurde”, sagte Wurmser” (ein ehemaliger Berater des Vizepräsidenten Dick Cheney)

Helmut Schmidt über Amerika und Russland, usw.

Saturday, February 23rd, 2008

In einem Interview mit dem Spiegel (29.10.07), das unter dem Titel “Das ist Grossmannssucht” veröffentlicht wurde, äusserte sich der ehemalige Bundeskanzler über einige aktuelle politische Fragen. Auszüge sind hier zu finden.

Zusätzlich zu diesen Auszügen:

In Bezug auf Iran, und ob weitere Sanktionen wegen seines Atomprogrammes gerechtfertigt seien:

Schmidt: “Oekonomische Sanktionen sollen dazu führen, dass das gesteigerte Elend der kleinen Leute deren Regierung zum Umdenken bringt – für mich ist das kein guter Weg.

Spiegel: US-Präsident George W. Bush spricht indessen sogar von einem möglichen dritten Weltkrieg. Teilen Sie diese dramatische Einschätzung?

Schmidt: Ich halte sie erstens für unzutreffend und zweitens für überflüssig, weil drittens für gefährlich. Sie impliziert eine Drohung, die sich gegen den Iran zu richten scheint.

………

Schmidt:……Es (die deutsche Regierung) sollte ein Interesse daran haben, dass auch alle übrigen Partner ihren Teil der Verpflichtungen einhalten, denn das tun sie ja nicht: Statt vertragsgemäss ihre Atomwaffen abzurüsten, entwickeln sie neue Waffen, modernisieren ihre Arsenale, ihre Trägersysteme, Raketen, Flugzeuge und U-Boote…..”

Schmidt (als Antwort einer Frage über den deutsche Einsatz in Afghanistan): ” Der Grund für die Intervention war ausschliesllich al-Quaida; und inzwischen is al-Quaida nach Pakistan abgezogen. Sollen wir demnächst auch dort einmarschieren?”

Schmidt (in Bezug auf Kanzler Merkels “Ratschläge” an Putin und die chinesische Regierung Tibet betreffend)…”was die inneren Angelegenheiten anderer Staaten betrifft, so hat unsere Regierung weder den Russen noch den Amerikanern und schon gar nicht den Chinesen öffentliche Ratschläge zu geben”.

Weiteres dazu in meinen Posts unter Iran/Iraq und in meinem Post

http://blog.une.edu.au/klausrohde/2008/02/09/the-worlds-future-at-stake-the-us-elections/

The World’s Future at stake. The U.S. Elections

Saturday, February 9th, 2008

Sydney Morning Herald 8.2.08. Extracts from:

America’s choice, our future“(full article here).

“But surely the disastrous misadventure in Iraq will deter future American commanders-in-chief from launching any new wars? Not at all. There are three points here.

First, America is a country that is comfortable with war. In the 230 years since the Declaration of Independence, the US has invaded other countries on more than 200 occasions, according to the Congressional Research Service. That is an average of one foreign incursion every 14 months in the nation’s history.
Second, the end of the Cold War was supposed to mean a standing-down of the US military machine. The opposite has happened. The Pentagon’s budget today, after adjusting for inflation, exceeds its Cold War average by one-eighth, though there is no longer any nation that could be called a peer competitor.
“The truth is that there no longer exists any meaningful context within which Americans might consider the question, ‘How much is enough?’ ” writes Professor Andrew Bacevich, a historian at Boston University and former US Army colonel in his book The New American Militarism.
The total defence budget is bigger than that of all other nations combined.
“During the entire Cold War era, from 1945 through 1988, large-scale US military actions abroad totalled a scant six. Since the fall of the Berlin Wall, however, they have become almost annual events.” ”
Bacevich calls it “the normalisation of war“. He goes on: “Policymakers have increasingly come to see coercion as a sort of all-purpose tool.”

The article compares the one Republican and the two Democratic candidates: McCain is a hero of the Vietnam war who has consistently supported the Iraq war, Clinton is an opportunist doing whatever seems popular at the time, and only Obama has consistently opposed the Iraq war and stated that he wants to change America’s attitudes away from militarism, which routinely sees the military option as the option of first choice.

Past wars were bad and killed many millions, wars may be far worse in the more crowded world of the future with its more destructive weapons. The United States, with its scientific, technological and economic power, could change the world for the better, and for the far worse, since it becomes more likely that the use of nuclear weapons will not be anathema in future wars (see here).

The report in the Sydney Morning Herald does not mention the numbers of casualties in the various military excursions. Are they of concern to McCain? Here are the latest figures for Iraq (higher figures have been given, and I don’t think that they include the casualties indirectly caused by the invasion, for example due to the almost complete breakdown of the medical system, such as baby mortality):
Although the most dangerous regions of Iraq could not be sampled, new estimates arrive at a death toll of 1 million Iraqis since the beginning of the invasion.