Friday, February 24, 2006

America at the Crossroads

Bush's Follies unfold daily. Excerpts from Francis Fukuyama's new book "America at the Crossroads"

Published: February 19, 2006
As we approach the third anniversary of the onset of the Iraq war, it seems very unlikely that history will judge either the intervention itself or the ideas animating it kindly. By invading Iraq, the Bush administration created a self-fulfilling prophecy: Iraq has now replaced Afghanistan as a magnet, a training ground and an operational base for jihadist terrorists, with plenty of American targets to shoot at. The United States still has a chance of creating a Shiite-dominated democratic Iraq, but the new government will be very weak for years to come; the resulting power vacuum will invite outside influence from all of Iraq's neighbors, including Iran. There are clear benefits to the Iraqi people from the removal of Saddam Hussein's dictatorship, and perhaps some positive spillover effects in Lebanon and Syria. But it is very hard to see how these developments in themselves justify the blood and treasure that the United States has spent on the project to this point.

to read the complete article entitled After Neoconservatism click on this url.

Monday, February 13, 2006

The War on Terrorism: Osama bin Laden and al-Qa'ida

The War on Terrorism: Osama bin Laden and al-Qa'ida

David Durant of the Joyner Library at East Carolina University has created and maintains a comprehensive set of resources on al-Qaida and Osama bin Laden.

This page is dedicated to the victims of the horrific terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and in Pennsylvania. It provides a select list of research and background sources about the suspected perpetrator of these atrocities: Osama bin Laden and his loose knit network known as al-Qa'ida (The Base). Resources on terrorism in general and the events of September 11th are also included.

Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism

by Robert A. Pape

Book Description

Suicide terrorism is rising around the world, but there is great confusion as to why. In this paradigm-shifting analysis, University of Chicago political scientist Robert Pape has collected groundbreaking evidence to explain the strategic, social, and individual factors responsible for this growing threat.

One of the world’s foremost authorities on the subject, Professor Pape has created the first comprehensive database of every suicide terrorist attack in the world from 1980 until today. With striking clarity and precision, Professor Pape uses this unprecedented research to debunk widely held misconceptions about the nature of suicide terrorism and provide a new lens that makes sense of the threat we face.

FACT: Suicide terrorism is not primarily a product of Islamic fundamentalism.

FACT: The world’s leading practitioners of suicide terrorism are the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka–a secular, Marxist-Leninist group drawn from Hindu families.

FACT: Ninety-five percent of suicide terrorist attacks occur as part of coherent campaigns organized by large militant organizations with significant public support.

FACT: Every suicide terrorist campaign has had a clear goal that is secular and political: to compel a modern democracy to withdraw military forces from the territory that the terrorists view as their homeland.

FACT: Al-Qaeda fits the above pattern. Although Saudi Arabia is not under American military occupation per se, one major objective of al-Qaeda is the expulsion of U.S. troops from the Persian Gulf region, and as a result there have been repeated attacks by terrorists loyal to Osama bin Laden against American troops in Saudi Arabia and the region as a whole.

FACT: Despite their rhetoric, democracies–including the United States–have routinely made concessions to suicide terrorists. Suicide terrorism is on the rise because terrorists have learned that it’s effective.

In this wide-ranging analysis, Professor Pape offers the essential tools to forecast when some groups are likely to resort to suicide terrorism and when they are not. He also provides the first comprehensive demographic profile of modern suicide terrorist attackers. With data from more than 460 such attackers–including the names of 333–we now know that these individuals are not mainly poor, desperate criminals or uneducated religious fanatics but are often well-educated, middle-class political activists.

More than simply advancing new theory and facts, these pages also answer key questions about the war on terror:

• Are we safer now than we were before September 11?
• Was the invasion of Iraq a good counterterrorist move?
• Is al-Qaeda stronger now than it was before September 11?

Professor Pape answers these questions with analysis grounded in fact, not politics, and recommends concrete ways for today’s states to fight and prevent terrorist attacks. Military options may disrupt terrorist operations in the short term, but a lasting solution to suicide terrorism will require a comprehensive, long-term approach–one that abandons visions of empire and relies on a combined strategy of vigorous homeland security, nation building in troubled states, and greater energy independence.

For both policy makers and the general public, Dying to Win transcends speculation with systematic scholarship, making it one of the most important political studies of recent time.

About the Author

Robert A. Pape is associate professor of political science at the University of Chicago, where he teaches international politics and is the director of the Chicago Project on Suicide Terrorism. A distinguished scholar of national security affairs, he writes widely on coercive airpower, economic sanctions, international moral action, and the politics of unipolarity and has taught international relations at Dartmouth College and air strategy for the U.S. Air Force’s School of Advanced Airpower Studies. He is a contributor to The New York Times, Foreign Affairs, The New Republic, and The Washington Post and has appeared on ABC’s Nightline and World News Tonight, National Public Radio, and other national television and radio programs.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

The Hyper Car Concept

By Amory B Levins, The Rocky Mountain Institute

What is a Hypercar® Vehicle?

A Hypercar® vehicle is designed to capture the synergies of: ultralight construction; low-drag design; hybrid-electric drive; and, efficient accessories to achieve 3 to 5-fold improvement in fuel economy, equal or better performance, safety, amenity and affordability, compared to today's vehicles.

Rocky Mountain Institute's research has shown that the best (possibly, the only) way to achieve this is by building an aerodynamic vehicle body using advanced composite materials and powering it with an efficient hybrid-electric drivetrain.

Initially, the hybrid-electric drivetrain in Hypercar® vehicles will probably use a specialized version of the internal combustion engine commonly used in today's cars. To reach their full potential, and virtually eliminate automobile pollution, Hypercar® vehicles will be powered by fuel-cells running on tanks of compressed gaseous hydrogen fuel.

Unlike other efficient vehicles, Hypercar® vehicles don't compromise performance, comfort, or safety. Indeed, by offering extra consumer appeal and manufacturing advantages, they stand a better chance of getting on the road—and forcing old, polluting cars off—in sufficient numbers to make a big difference to the environment. Hypercar® vehicles and their kin could profitably reduce carbon-dioxide emissions (the major contributor to climate change) by two-thirds, partly by greatly accelerating the shift to hydrogen fuel cells.

In 1994 we founded the Hypercar Center® to research and promote this concept. Having proved its technical feasibility through rigorous technical modeling, the Center's staff spent the past several years making Hypercar® technology a commercial reality. Their unconventional approach has been to place the concept in the public domain and share it conspicuously with some two dozen major car companies and new market entrants to maximize competition in capturing its market and manufacturing advantages. The result: billions of dollars' private investment, and rapid movement of Hypercar-like concepts toward the marketplace.

In 1999, we took this process a step further by launching a for-profit venture, Hypercar, Inc., to speed the industry's transition by exerting direct competitive pressure. This independent company, in which RMI has a minority interest, is now taking the lead in advancing key areas of Hypercar research and development.

Here at RMI our transportation web pages continue to inform the general public and media on the Hypercar® concept in general. For the latest on what is happening today on the automotive scene, however, we recommend visiting Hypercar, Inc.'s own hompage (, and reading our bi-monthly selection of Advanced Automotive News.

For more information on the Hyper Car click here.

Hypercar® is a registered trademark of Hypercar, Inc. (
Used with permission.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Is Nuclear Green ?

Green to the Core? — Part 1
How I tried to stop worrying and love nuclear power

Nothing in life is to be feared; it is only to be understood.
—Marie Curie

A rock, glittery gold and slate colored, has been placed on a table next to a chip of old Fiestaware and a Big Ben clock inside a brightly lit classroom at Southern California Edison’s San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station, the power plant whose twin containment domes define the coastline below San Clemente. Ray Golden, a spokesperson who conducts plant tours for schoolchildren, foreign diplomats and anyone else he can interest in the magic of nuclear fission, is telling me how radiation — in the form of the clock’s glow-in-the-dark radium or uranium oxide that gives the plate its deep reddish-orange hue — has been used for nearly a century in manufactured goods. But it’s the rock, a roughly elliptical piece of solid uranium ore, small enough to fit in my hand but able to throw off radioactive particles as it slowly decays into unstable thorium, radium and, eventually, lead, that attracts me. And when Golden turns his back to write some diagrams on the classroom’s whiteboard, I quickly pick up the rock, cradling it in one hand. Small doses of alpha, beta and even penetrating gamma rays begin to bombard my skin, and I savor the transmutation of elements happening under my very nose. Just about 10 seconds pass before I put the rock back where I got it, unnoticed by Golden.

In practical terms, the chunk of ore is no more dangerous than any other stone I might have held. Still, when Golden runs a pale green plastic box, a dosimeter, across the surface of the rock to measure its radioactivity, the machine emits high-pitched beeps with each pass — sometimes slowly, like a moderate pulse, other times in rapid succession like a jammed letter on an old computer keyboard. Each beep represents 200 counts per minute; 2,000 counts makes a millirem, which is atomic science’s metric for absorbed radiation. Holding the rock for 10 seconds, I may have absorbed a millirem of radiation in various forms, which is not so bad: The average person gets about 360 millirems a year just from the radiation that beams down from the sun and occurs naturally in the Earth’s rocks and soil; mile-high Denver residents get nearly twice that. It would take much more to hurt me.

“Fifty-thousand millirems would cause a slight change on your body chemistry,” Golden explains. “Five hundred thousand, if you got it in a few hours, would bring on burns, vomiting, sickness, hair loss and, for about half the population, death.”

It would be impossible to get that kind of dose from a rock even 100 times the size of this one, and relatively easy to avoid getting any dose at all. Although it usually takes lead or concrete to block gamma radiation, the rock is so small and its gamma rays so weak that it’s mostly sending out alpha and beta particles, and when Golden places a piece of paper between the rock and the dosimeter, the beeping fades. A sheet of Plexiglas stops the beeping altogether.

Even plutonium, one of the world’s most toxic materials, emits only alpha particles, which can be blocked by paper, a thin sheet of aluminum or even your skin. “As long as you don’t ingest or inhale [them],” Golden says, “alpha particles can’t hurt you.” Or, in the words of Elena Filatova, the intrepid Ukrainian motorcyclist who documented Chernobyl’s dead zone in photographs, “You can play billiard balls with pure plutonium. Just don’t swallow it by mistake.”

To read the rest of the article click here

To read the second part of the article Green to the Core? click here.

And to discuss this story, visit Judith Lewis' blog, Another Green World.