Jury Duty in the Inferno


Jury Duty in the Inferno

Civilization only exists
where people take care of each other.

Social conditions of poverty and privation
breed criminality of desperation for survival.

Social conditions of exclusionary wealth and privilege
breed criminality of narcissistic rapacity.

The judicial institutions of such inequitable societies
prosecute the former to protect the latter:
preserving the Status Quo.

The only measure of Divine Retribution that exists today
is the Planetary Convulsion
that implacably burns inequity away from the bottom up,
and then drowns the ashes.

The only measure of Divine Mercy available today
lies in that which is universally reviled and scorned:
the Great Embrace.

May the Void have mercy on your souls,
but there can be no mercy for the soulless.

A thin black line between layers of mudstone
will mark the time when Men and Women lived and died,
to a Timeless Unconscious World that neither sees it nor knows it.


Time To Saw Through Our Ankle

Image from Near Term Human Extinction Evidence Group

Jeffrey St. Clair writes, on 9 August 2021:

“How is the new IPCC report substantially different from any of the other IPCC reports? The planet is warming. Human activity caused it. There is only a limited amount of time to take action in order to forestall the most extreme outcome. The report is a prelude to yet another global climate conference, where more non-biding, incremental measures will be agreed upon by the very leaders who profit from inaction, amid much self-congratulatory backslapping about how fraught the process was. Meanwhile, the forests burn, the permafrost melts, the methane percolates, the droughts deepen, the seas rise, the rivers flood, and the hurricanes line up in the Atlantic basin like jetliners over O’Hare.”

That prompted me to this:

At the end of the Mad Max movie (the very first one), Max cuffs, by the ankle, one of the psychopaths that killed his family, to an overturned car whose ruptured gas tank is leaking, dripping. He props a lit cigarette lighter near the drip, and tosses the prisoner a hacksaw. Max says: “Those cuffs are made of high tensile steel, it takes about 10 minutes to saw through them, the gas should explode by then. It only takes about 5 minutes to saw through your ankle.” He then drives away slowly. In the distance through his rearview mirror he sees a big explosion, the prisoner never emerged.

That’s the situation of our Status Quo: it doesn’t want to saw through its ankle, cuffed to the gas.

My friend Sergio Romero reacted to the above as follows:

“Nowhere have I read or heard in relation to this IPCC report any criticism of capitalism, or even reforms of it that might slow or alter its extractive processes for profit.”

And so I went on as follows:

Because the IPCC is in reality a grouping of government agencies (the individuals are appointed by their governments), all grouped under one umbrella as a UN project/committees, its charter is very strictly limited as to what areas it can study, report on and comment/recommend about. They can talk about the “science,” and to a lesser extent about “remediation” strategies. But they can’t out-and-out criticize the world economic and political order explicitly.

Back during Bush II the head of the IPCC was removed and replaced by Bush-led political pressure because he was seen as too critical in those forbidden areas. The best the IPCC can do is to frame its reports so that the obvious, though unstated, conclusion is that capitalism kills and must be ended, or the Planet will end for us. The IPCC alone cannot save us.

Greta Thunberg has it right: taking it to the streets by massive popular protests to ultimately compel governments to shift their allegiances to the people instead of capital and corporations, because otherwise those governments themselves will perish, be overturned: revolution; this is what is needed.

In one way or another, we’ll have to saw our ankle, and it will hurt all the way through and feel like it’s taking forever “to escape.” For energy gluttons, a post-carbon world will seem like sore one-legged limping compared to the easy-for-the-wealthier high-emissions ante-carbon good-life. Otherwise, it will be more and more of what we are seeing now — drought, fire, hurricane, flood — as time progresses.

The Science-Guy part of me knows that if we all embraced the change, we could have an amazingly exhilarating and fulfilling time (of decades) creating a truly wonderful world for all. The Dark-Poet part of me has little faith that people in general are up to the task. The Craggy and Sentimental parts of me combine to keep pushing for the vision of the Science-Guy, because I don’t want to give up and make it easier (by one) for the dickhead fuckers to have it all their way in ruining the Planet (and vampiring on human society); and because I am a self-realized Don Quixote who can at least keep making his puny farcical efforts to maintain a tattered self-respect.

“Anyone who ever had a heart” would think of the kids and their world to come.


Seventeen Beatitudes Heard By Sister Kathryn On The Pilgrimage

Seventeen Beatitudes Heard By Sister Kathryn On The Pilgrimage

Blesséd are the dispirited poor,
for theirs is the greatest claim for succor by society.

Blesséd are those who grieve,
for theirs is the greatest claim for empathy from all.

Blesséd are the meek,
for theirs is the calmness that assuages our struggles.

Blesséd are the merciful,
for they dispel the terrors of abandonment.

Blesséd are those who hunger for social justice,
for they make the progress of social enlightenment.

Blesséd are those who advance cooperation,
for they displace enmity and conflict with peace.

Blesséd are those who defend the weak,
for they impart strength and raise gratitude.

Blesséd are the resistors of oppressors and persecution,
for they inspire courage in rebellion against defeat.

Blesséd are the good-hearted,
for they infuse society with unifying confidence.

Blesséd are those who laugh and play,
for they add sparkles of mirth to our lives.

Blesséd are those who study without arrogance,
for they educate and liberate us from prejudice.

Blesséd are the selflessly creative,
for they spark the same artfulness in others.

Blesséd are those who love without grasping,
for they nurture character growth in our children.

Blesséd are those who nurture the Earth,
for they feed us all down the generations.

Blesséd are those who see divinity in all living things,
for they unite the consciousness of All-Life.

Blesséd are those who keep company with the lonely,
for they bring reassurance that allows for departure.

Blesséd are those who inspire you to do as these,
for they keep the torch of the human spirit lit.


Ella Solana García – Music



The challenge of an artist’s life is to produce tangible expressions of “art” that embody the visions, music, ideas and emotions bubbling within the artist, as vividly and exquisitely as they can imagine and without compromise to bland popular tastes and social restrictions; and simultaneously to be able somehow to gain the necessary support from the public and the commercialized world so they can survive economically and continue with their creativity while also enjoying an otherwise “normal” life.

Ella Solana García, my younger daughter, is now embarking on this endeavor. She presents a large selection of her recorded music at the website, linked below. The specific “home” page of that website shows a list of recent recordings presented as a portfolio to showcase her varied technical capabilities as a professional musician (singer, songwriter, producer, arranger), as well as extremely different genres of music she can work in, from contemporary art song originals to electronic dance music to classical big band jazz.

A convenient feature of her website is that sets of songs can be heard as a continuous sequence (with the push of the top button for each list) or individually. The link I give below is to the specific “music” page on Ella’s website, which shows three sets of recordings: Project 1 (Latest EP Project, 2021), Project 2 (Demo EP, 2020), and Project 3 (Demos and Early Works, on ‘Soundcloud’); EP is lingo for an “extended play” record or recording for demonstration purposes.

Again, pushing the top button to any of these sets will play the songs in that set in a continuing sequence (as in any album, the individual songs correspond to the movements of a classical sonata, symphony, concerto, or chamber piece). Why not give a listen to Project 1? It is short with only 5 songs, and they are all very recent and highly polished recordings of very modern music, sequenced into one artistic ensemble: gems.

Project 2 is a similar ensemble of 5 songs released last year.

Project 3 is a large listing of songs produced prior to 2020. They vary widely in style, but all are equally invested with care in their composition and performance. Because tastes vary widely within the entire spectrum of listeners, I couldn’t possibly guess which “you” would prefer. So those I mention here are just of few that I enjoyed again today.

I love Ella’s singing in Spanish, and my favorite recording for both that and just for the lovely sound of her voice is in “Noche Cubana” (the “single” version on the “home” page being the most recently mastered, but the one in Project 1 on the “music” page is just as lovely). “Bajo El Sol” is an evocative walk along the clifftops by the ocean. “Besame Mucho” is a live recording (I did a good job) of a sparkling performance on a very enchanted evening indeed.

Ella also sings in Italian, on “Lasciami Stare” and “La Regina Anziana,” both originals.

Ella has a special sensitivity to the feelings and yearnings of children, who are powerless and yet confronted with a hurried and overbearing adult world. Her songs here offer calming melodious respites from that outer chaos. Among her songs of this type are: “Chihiro”, “The Eternal Rush”, “Watch Her Away”, and “High Grade Idiot.”

In contrast to the calming and gentle songs are those that are tough feminist punches, like the driving punk-rockish “Doesn’t Mean You Matter”, the steely “Don’t Be Afraid To Be A Bitch”, and the darkly venomous “Poison.” Ella’s song “No”, listed in Project 2, is also of this upfront steely type.

And there are Ella’s send-ups and drastic reworkings of old bubblegum ditties like “Lovefool”, and simple pop classics like “Can’t Help Falling In Love (and what would J. P. Martini and Elvis Presley think?), and the most engaging version I’ve yet heard of Pink’s song “Glitter In The Air.”

Another creative reimagining of an old standard is the Gospel song “Didn’t My Lord Deliver Daniel?” Here it is honed to the essential question that had to be in the mind of any religious American slave, as it had to be in the mind of Job much earlier: why had God abandoned me?

The song “Avenue Of The Giants” was inspired by a walk among the giants Redwoods, and I can always visualize being in that environment when I hear it.

Because Ella does professional level recording and mixing of audio tracks, and writes deep expansive arrangements and soundscapes, hearing the finished productions through good speakers, instead of just the tinny little computer speakers, would significantly add to the pleasure of listening.

Ella has more original recordings and song studies from previous years, than presented on her new website, so we can be assured that new polished productions will appear on this new website as time progresses. I look forward to it all, and I hope others do too.



Why Blast Off Into Space?

The fantasy of rising above the surface of the Earth and flying out among the stars is as old as the human imagination itself. After Marco Polo brought back Chinese gunpowder to the 13th century Europeans, they were able to militarize it into firearms, and the technology of chemically-propelled ballistics took off so that by the early 20th century rockets intended to fully penetrate Earth’s atmosphere and drift out into Outer Space were being visualized and tested.

William Leitch in 1861 and Konstantin Tsiolkovsky in 1903 expressed the idea of using rockets to enable human spaceflight. From 1920 Robert Goddard proposed improvements to rocket design, and in 1926 built and launched the first modern rocket. That modernity was marked by the first use of a converging-diverging exhaust tube — known as a de Laval nozzle — which enabled the hot exhaust gases emitted by the combusting rocket fuel to convert their heat energy into outward unidirectional motion at supersonic speed: thrust!

But with the exception of tinkerers like Goddard, rockets were used as military weapons — artillery — most dramatically by Nazi Germany from 1943 with its V2 ballistic missile rocket-bombs. The American space program began in 1945 with the use of captured German V2 rockets to send cameras and scientific probes into the upper atmosphere. The USSR’s independent space program began in the 1950s, making a dramatic breakthrough — shocking Americans — with the lofting of Sputnik 1, the first artificial Earth satellite, which was launched into an elliptical low Earth orbit on 4 October 1957. It orbited for three weeks before its batteries died and then orbited silently for two months before it fell back into the atmosphere on the 4th of January 1958.

The major thrust of both American and Soviet rocket development throughout the 1950s and 1960s was to construct intercontinental ballistic missiles that could carry nuclear warheads, and have such capability presented as a threat display to deter aggression by other technologically advanced and militarily powerful adversaries: the Cold War. Putting men as the payloads in such large rockets and blasting them into Earth orbit, and eventually out to the Moon, was primarily a flagrant display to all, signaling the possession of awesome military power. Science exploration was a minor byproduct of the space race, but ultimately some of that scientific curiosity yielded the most beneficial results from the entire rocketry endeavor.

Now, 52 years after Neil Armstrong first set a human foot on the Moon, propelled by American public funding, at least three of our attention-seeking Billionaire Boys are competing to burn up disposable bundles of their money to launch themselves into space joyrides, and to then exploit the technology they have paid to have built as the basis of “space tourism” businesses.

On Tuesday, 20 July 2021, Jeff Bezos and three others were blasted in his rocket up to an elevation of 106 km above the surface of the Earth, for a two-way trip totaling 10 minutes and 10 seconds. To some this is a laudable achievement of the free market system, while to others it is a pathetic expansion of conspicuous consumption to a new exorbitant level. Many ask: could the billions extracted from the labor of Bezos’s exploited and precarious workforce not have been better spent to alleviate hunger and homelessness?, and could the massive amount of chemical energy expended to pull off this stunt not have been better used with much greater efficiency to power broadly beneficial purposes on the surface of the Earth? But such questions mistake applying standards of human solidarity and social responsibility to seek understanding billionaire’s egotistical behavior. Here, I will provide one answer to the energy question.

The minimum energy needed to loft any mass up to 106 km above the surface of the Earth is 1,022,842.066 Joules per kilogram (J/kg). So, for the total energy expenditure in any specific case, multiply the mass of the fully loaded rocket (in kg) by 1,022,842.066 Joules/kg. One joule is the energy required to lift a medium-sized tomato up 1 meter (3 ft 3 in), assuming the tomato has a mass of 101.97 grams (3.597 oz). Lofting a mass up to 106 km above the surface of the Earth requires as much energy as lifting it only 1 meter above the Earth’s surface 104,265 times.

Outer Space is considered to begin at elevation 100 km, which is called the Von Karman Line (after a renowned aerodynamicist). Satellites in Low Earth Orbit have elevations between 180 km and 2,000 km; in Mid Earth Orbit, 2,000 km to 35,780 km elevation; in Geosynchronous Orbit at 35,780 km elevation; in High Earth Orbit beyond 35,780 km; and the Orbit of the Moon occurs at a distance of 378,032 km from the Earth’s surface.

It requires 9.81 Joules of energy to lift a 1 kg mass 1 meter above the surface of the Earth (or 9.81 of those 3.597 ounce tomatoes, all at once). In terms of “g’s” pulling a mass “down” toward the center of the Earth, the g-force at the surface of the Earth is 1g, the g-force at 106 km is 0.968g, the g-force at 180 km is 0.946g, the g-force at 2,000 km is 0.579g, the g-force at 35,780 km is 0.023g, and the g-force at 378,032 km (the distance to the Moon) is negligible at 0.0002747g.

Satellites in stable orbits around the Earth need an additional energy to accelerate them up to an orbital velocity, and it is this boost to lateral momentum, in combination with the “centrifugal” (radial) pull by Earth’s gravity, that results in the curved trajectory that describes the satellite’s stable orbit, which can be either circular or elliptical.

I do not know the weight of Bezos’s rocket (I have not seen it published), but IF I assume it weighed as much as a fully loaded Boeing 707 jet airplane, 150,000 kg, then the total (minimum) energy to lift it up to 106 km would have been 1.534×10^11 Joules = 153.4 gigajoules (GJ). Whatever the actual weight was, lofting it to an elevation of 106 km requires at least 1.023 megajoules/kilogram (MJ/kg).

I am guessing that small rockets, perhaps comparable to Bezos’s, could weigh half as much (or less) as a Boeing 707 airplane (~10s of thousands of kg), and I am certain that Bezos’s rocket was much smaller than the the Saturn V rockets that lofted the Apollo Moon missions, and which initially weighed about 2.8 million kg.

The real issue is that blasting stuff up into space — away from Earth and against its gravity — is immensely energy intensive. Given that one has that energy in the first place, why use/waste inordinate amounts of it to loft small payloads into space? For a few items like weather and GPS satellites, space telescopes, and tiny robotic planetary probes, I think it is worthwhile for the expansion of scientific knowledge and the physical improvement of social conditions. But for almost all else, and most especially manned space flight, it is the total waste of space junk littering militarism and propaganda.

And now, symptomatic of our dysfunctional economics, manned space flight has also become just another item of supremely exclusive and very showy personal conspicuous consumption. As Eeyore would gloomily intone in the Winnie-the-Pooh books: “Pathetic.”

A short report in PDF form is freely available to anyone interested in the details of my calculations, at


Even Noah Would Be Amazed

A extensive televised BBC News story of 16 July 2021, titled “Catastrophic flooding across western Europe as politicians blame climate change,” showed the devastation caused by the rapid massive flooding in the region of Western Europe at the confluence of the borders of Germany, Belgium, France and Luxembourg during the third week of July 2021, when three times the monthly average of rainfall was dumped in only a day or two. In that report, the likely next Prime Minister of Germany forthrightly assigned blame for the catastrophe to global warming climate change, and urged serious and immediate national, European and world action to counter it by reducing anthropogenic emissions of carbon dioxide. (https://youtu.be/8A65JzDltY4)

If this flooding in Germany and Belgium this last week, and the vast fires and massively deadly heat in Northwestern USA and Canada, and Siberia the previous week, can cause such devastation despite occurring in the most technologically sophisticated and economically advanced and developed countries on Earth, how do you think such similarly “natural catastrophes,” amplified and accelerated by global warming, would affect (and are affecting) the hundreds of millions — even billions — of the Earth’s poorest and most vulnerable people — as in Sub-Sahara Africa, Amazonia, India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, and the Pacific Islands?

This is real life Apocalypse Now. It will continue to “explode” much more slowly than the pacing within our very short attention spans — of seconds to maybe as long as months — and that explosion of catastrophe will continue for decades and even centuries if humanity continues to remain inert before this planetary reality.

The problem — that millions and billions more people have not yet been spurred into action by the all-too-obvious degradation of the climate-weather-biosphere interlocking systems — is far beyond the simple confusion of a deer-in-the-headlights problem. Fundamentally, it is the human inertia of the retreat into reassuring habit to mask the denial of existential fear, rather than a forthright confrontation of it with intelligent action.

Our destiny has been handed to us: either we exhibit triumphs of the human spirit by acting vigorously and cooperatively to counteract global warming, or we perish ignominiously in a degrading piecemeal fashion as willfully ignorant victims of our own stupidity, narcissism and witless folly.

What amazes me is how, in the face so such evident and advancing climate catastrophes, so many can be so enveloped in their illusion bubbles and remain completely blind to the ongoing collapse of the world, both natural and human: bubbles of greed illusions in desperation to acquire more exclusive corporate and “insider” subsidies in order to “compete”; bubbles of bigotry illusions ever in search of public affirmation and normalization of their favored brand of supremacist apartheid; bubbles of fear illusions ever in search of more armed protection from other “types” and “classes” and “foreigners”; pathetic bubbles of self illusions ever in search of “power” by phishing telemarketing of fake automobile warranties and “free money,” and hacking websites large and small and Facebook pages; and the narcissistic illusion bubbles of billionaire boys trying to explode mass media paroxysms of stupidity by ejaculating their ego rockets into space; and the hubristic bubbles of unmoored superpower illusions ever seeking to project power “geo-strategically”, to monopolize hydrocarbon deposits and trade, and to stifle small countries with marginal economies, as with Cuban socialism just south over the Caribbean horizon from a sinking, collapsing and sea-level-rise-flooding Miami.

In that BBC report, Britt Blom, a café owner helping to clear the masses of debris clogging her village streets after the flood waters had receded, said: “We need to stay positive, we can cry all day but this will not help anything. So, better smiling and keep working.”

And for the rest of us in this ever shrinking wide world, that “working” means: to help clean up after the tragedies “here,” to help other victims of tragedy both near and far, and to face up to global warming climate change and biodiversity collapse, with real and cooperative action to help slow the pace of our expanding planetary catastrophe.

Wake up, people.


Freedom-Loving As Denial Of Truth And Freedom


Freedom-Loving As Denial Of Truth And Freedom

I have always been impressed by the fragility of White (a.k.a., Gringo) Supremacy. It is amazing to me that so many of these freedom-loving patriots (a.k.a., parasites) can be so incensed that the Cuban government is trying to contain and suppress the anti-government — really anti-austerity — protests going on now in Havana (and island-wide), while same said Americans having long continued to be so tolerant, and even in favor of:

— massive racialized incarceration,

— evident KKK slants in policing,

— the suppression of anti-corporate — and thus accurately equated to anti-government — protests, as with pipelines, immigration and nuclear disarmament (with federal and state convictions of protesters to long prison sentences),

— accuracy in historical education (a.k.a., “critical race theory”) being legislated against,

— vote and voter suppression by racially-motivated legislated restrictions,

— generous tolerance for minimized punishment of criminal acts committed by individuals engaged in Storm Trooper type anti-government actions (a.k.a., riots by “conservatives”),

— blatant U.S. Government interventions of obviously imperialistic nature in Latin America, with a special animus toward Cuba (because it resists being raped).

That strident outrage at the state-imposed limitations on personal freedom in Cuba, without the least concern for the evident, inequitable, wide-ranging and deepening suppression of human rights and personal freedoms in the United States, is a testament to the profundity of the tribal fear in American White Supremacy, and is the root from which sprout expressions of hypocritical outrage over the limitations of freedom in Cuba, that small and luxuriant and resistant island nation so close by and that Gringo Supremacy would love to make into the U.S.’s Gaza Strip.

In the end, tragically, it all comes down to the Melian Debate in Thucydides.


Why does the U.S. maintain a war against Cuba? Besides the traditional Monroe Doctrine white supremacy impetus of US foreign policy in the Western Hemisphere, it is all about the endless and ever fruitless search for revenge over JFK, since the killing of Che was nowhere near satisfying enough, and all out war with Russia is not an option.

Some Words About JFK

Paradox of the Humans

Excellent essay by Dave B. McDonald III. Add nuclear power to his list of energy sources in his discussion of Jevon’s Paradox (wood, peat, coal, oil, natural gas, “green energy,” and also nuclear power = the energy ladder).

David McDonald

greta 2by David Byrne McDonald III

Greta Thunberg, on January 21, 2020:
“In one aspect, lots has happened since last year….From another perspective, pretty much nothing has been done.”
This sums up Planet of the Humans. Despite everyone’s efforts, global atmospheric CO2 yesterday was at 416.98 ppm, the highest level ever measured. Yet the U.S. has 63,794 installed wind turbines and Germany has 29,844. What is going on?
Planet of the Humans, directed by Jeff Gibbs and produced by Ozzie Zehner, has been viewed (5/14/20) by 7,745,866 on Youtube alone. Everyone is astonished at the massive viewership, not least Gibbs, Zehner, and Michael Moore, who has lent his prestige to the film as executive producer. But POTH has also prompted a flood of anguished denunciations from people in the environmental movement who feel unjustly attacked and demonized. We will dip into a particularly cogent public attack on…

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Chemical Warfare In Syria, and Its Corrosiveness Beyond

Syria is at the center of a geo-political vortex of conflict that has suctioned the petroleum-fueled ambitions of the three international powers of our day — the United States, Russia and China — into an interlaced complex of bitter regional wars within the oil-rich highly fragmented and excessively inequitable Islamic and Israeli Middle East.

The Syrian Civil War broke out on 15 March 2011 as one of the numerous Arab Spring revolts and revolutions of that year. The initially peaceful and nonviolent demonstrations by the Syrian people against oppression by the state and in favor of democracy were brutally suppressed by the Al-Assad regime and thus engendered a violent defensive reaction. The ensuing Syrian Civil War quickly devolved into a power vacuum within which swirled a chaotic and inhuman multi-party scramble for political control through armed conflict.

The Shia-based affinity between the Alawite-centered Al-Assad family dictatorship in Syria with the Hezbollah Political Party in Lebanon and with the Iranian theocracy bonded these last two into arrangements and intrigues of military assistance to the Al-Assad regime.

The Sunni-based oil-rich Gulf States, which are aligned with the Washington Consensus, pursued their ideological and regional ambitions by supplying military aid to sub-state factions and terrorist groups combatting the Shia-allied forces in Syria. Israel and Turkey each also continued to pursue their own regional ambitions with a similar perspective relative to Syria.

In September 2015 the Russian government, under the direction of Vladimir Putin, intervened massively in the Syrian Civil War, conducting airstrikes and other military operations for the defense of its long time client, the Al-Assad regime, thus boosting it to a military victory in its civil war, which has been and continues to be a humanitarian catastrophe for the Syrian people. Syria hosts one of the three Russian foreign military bases outside the confines of the former Soviet Union and the former East Bloc (out of a total of 21 military bases outside of Russia proper).

That Syrian-hosted Russian military presence is actually sited at two bases: a naval facility in Tartus, and the Khmeimim Air Base. From its Syrian military base complex, Russia can project military power westward from the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea, northward to Turkey and beyond that to the Black Sea and Crimea, eastward into the Levant, and southward into Egypt and the Arabian Peninsula.

Russia’s purpose in maintaining such wide-ranging possibilities of power projection from its Syrian bases are diplomatic, they are not preparations for invasive war. They are what in the animal world is known as a threat display, a broadcast signal — mainly directed at the Washington Consensus — saying: do not think to attack our nation because we can reach far out to claw your eyes out, and rip open your petrol-carrying veins. Russian history easily justifies such a defensive posture.

What all three world powers understand is that their degree of control of world affairs rests on the extent of their control over the world’s fossil fuel commerce. The national ambitions of lesser states are easily throttled by the squeezing of the control hands wrapped around the petroleum arteries of world economics. Japan launched its Pacific War of 1941-1945 because of just this fear, sparked by the U.S. embargo of petroleum to Japan on 26 July 1941 in response to Japan’s 1937 invasion of China and its ensuing Sino-Japanese War, which then merged into World War II as one of its theaters of conflict.

Radiating out of this collective understanding of world power are: Washington’s lavish patronage and protection of the Gulf States in its orbit, Russia’s zeal at piping its abundant geological hydrocarbon bounty to Europe, and China’s unquenchable thirst for Iranian, Central Asian, and any other petroleum to help fuel the continuing expansion of the world’s largest national-regional economy.

And Syria is the stinging nettle at the center of this turbulent geo-political swirl.

With malicious desperation during its multi-faceted war against the aspirations of the Syrian people, and against the infiltrating sub-state and ideologically fanatical militias seeking control of the Syrian state, as well as against militias acting as proxy forces of foreign intervention (sometimes the same for these last two), the Al-Assad regime deployed chemical weapons on many occasions: chlorine and sarin gas aerial bombs and artillery shells. “The deadliest attacks were the August 2013 sarin attack in Ghouta (killing between 281 and 1,729 people) and the April 2017 sarin attack in Khan Shaykhun (killing at least 89 people)… The most common agent used was chlorine, with sarin and sulphur mustard also reported.” [1]

In prior decades from the 1970s, Syria had built up an arsenal of chemical weapons, with the technological help of Russia and Egypt, as its weapons-of-mass-destruction shield against external threats to the continuation of the Al-Assad regime as the Syrian state. This Syrian chemical “doomsday machine” was intended as its ultimate defense against Israeli aggression, in the same way that the nuclear powers present their arsenals of nuclear-tipped rockets as shields against existential threats to their national sovereignty. [2]

The worldwide abhorrence against the use of chemical weapons acted as a diplomatic pressure against this tactic by the Al-Assad regime domestically, and was also used as an excuse by the Washington Consensus to justify its various forms of demi-covert intervention in the Syrian Civil War. There has been much propaganda, anti-propaganda, dissimulation, lying and cover-up associated with the reality of chemical warfare in Syria, the slants and biases in the reporting and commentary of which depend on the ideological allegiances of their sources, every faction trying to muddy the waters of public perception in its favor.

In 2013, under intense international pressure against its chemical warfare and fearing a Libya-style NATO intervention, the Al-Assad regime with Russian encouragement acceded to the Chemical Weapons Convention. It agreed to eliminate its arsenal of chemical weapons under the supervision (and protection) of Russia. But the complete elimination of that arsenal did not occur, as witnessed by subsequent chemical attacks by the forces of the Syrian regime.

In 2014, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) Fact Finding Mission in Syria concluded that the use of chlorine was systematic and widespread. The following year, the OPCW-UN Joint Investigative Mechanism (OPCW-UN JIM) was established to identify the perpetrators of chemical attacks in Syria. The OPCW-UN JIM blamed the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad for the sarin attack in Khan Shaykhun, as well as three chlorine attacks. They also concluded ISIL militants used sulphur mustard. According to the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic, the Syrian government carried out 33 chemical attacks between 2013 and September 2018. A further six attacks were documented by the Commission, but the perpetrators were not sufficiently identified. According to Human Rights Watch (HRW), 85 confirmed chemical attacks occurred between 21 August 2013 and 25 February 2018, and the Syrian government was responsible for the majority of the attacks. HRW said the actual number of attacks was likely higher than 85. According to a Global Public Policy Institute study, at least 336 attacks have occurred. The report said 98% of these attacks were carried out by Assad’s forces and 2% by ISIL. [3]

In October 2019, former OPCW employee Brendan Whelan acted as a whistleblower codenamed ‘Alex’, teaming “up with Wikileaks, to expose what appeared to be a major scandal with global implications – the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), had ‘doctored’ a report in order to fabricate a chlorine attack in Syria when no such event had actually occurred… [Brendan Whelan] had been part of the team that investigated the chemical attack in the Syrian town of Douma on April 7, 2018 in which at least 41 civilians were killed. This was done, insinuated ‘Alex’, in order to frame the Syrian government and justify the missile strikes launched by the US, UK and France against forces loyal to the government of Bashar al-Assad in the days following the attack on the town of Douma in April 2018.” [4]

Russian state media and the Assad regime seized upon these leaks to claim that the chemical attack was staged and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) had been hijacked by Western nations and was no longer fit for its intended purpose.

“A draft version of a letter seen by Bellingcat and not publicly released by either ‘Alex’, Wikileaks or any of the journalists who have covered the so-called scandal, proves that a chemical attack did occur. It shows that any notion of a cover-up at the OPCW is false and confirms that the organisation acted exactly as it was mandated to. Further, it also reveals that at a diplomatic level behind closed doors, the Russian and Syrian governments have both agreed with the conclusions of the OPCW report. Yet in public – and with the help of a number of Western journalists and academics – Russia has launched a widespread and concerted effort to undermine both the OPCW and the conclusions of its report on Douma.” [5]

The unreleased letter referred to above (the relevant portions of which can be seen in [5]) was drafted by several members of the OPCW in June 2019 and then sent by the director general of the organisation, Fernando Arias, in reply to a letter from Whelan where he claimed there was no evidence of chlorine being used as a weapon in Douma, and traces of chlorine that were found were not consistent with the release of chlorine gas. In his reply Arias explains why Whelan’s assumptions are wrong – he simply wasn’t aware of the latest scientific techniques used by the OPCW because they were developed after Whelan had left the organisation. It was these techniques that allowed the OPCW to conclude chlorine gas had been released in the building in which the Syrian civilians died.

Arias wrote: “Your letter further refers to 2,4,6-trichlorophenol as being used erroneously as an indicator of chlorine exposure, and you rightly point out that this chemical can be present for a variety of reasons that do not require chlorine gas exposure. However, there were additional chlorine-containing chemicals found in samples taken from Douma, and in particular, chlorinated pinene compounds that have been shown to form in certain types of wood that have been exposed to chlorine gas. One of the Designated Laboratories that analysed samples after you completed your tenure has developed methods of analysing wood exposed to chlorine gas that can distinguish between different types of wood in the signatures of chlorinated compounds produced. This laboratory’s analysis of wood samples taken from Douma indicated that the wood indeed had been exposed to chlorine gas.” [6]

In short, the OPCW did exactly as mandated and established that a chemical weapon had been used at Douma; the OPCW had not falsified evidence nor fabricated a fictitious (false flag) chemical attack.

Arias also wrote that: “I would further like to point out that the conclusion of the final Douma report is not in question. No State Party has questioned the conclusion that there are reasonable grounds to believe that a toxic chemical was used as a weapon in Douma. This includes the Syrian Arab Republic and the Russian Federation, which in recent weeks have each sent us comments and questions on the final Douma report in notes verbale in which they themselves have indicated their agreement with the conclusion of the final report. These notes verbale, as well as our replies to them, have been made available to State Parties.” [7]

A July/August 2021 news brief by the Arms Control Association states:

“An investigation into 77 allegations of chemical weapons use by Syria has concluded that chemical weapons were likely or definitely used in 17 cases, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) reported to the UN Security Council on June 3 [2021]…

“OPCW Director-General Fernando Arias announced that the world’s chemical weapons watchdog will be addressing new issues during future consultations with Syria, including ‘the presence of a new chemical weapons agent found in samples collected in large storage containers in September 2020.’ He said that the organization had notified Syria of its intention to conduct on-site inspections and requested visas for its expert team, but never received a response…

“That is not the first time that Syria has declined to cooperate. In April 2020, the OPCW Executive Council demanded further information regarding three alleged chemical weapons attacks that took place in 2017. Syria declined, and in response, the organization in April suspended Syria’s ‘rights and privileges,’ marking the first time that the OPCW had taken such action since its formation in 1997…

“Russia has consistently defended Syria and criticized the OPCW and its investigators. In response to Arias’ report, Russia’s UN ambassador, Vassily Nebenzia, accused the OPCW of exclusively using information ‘from biased sources opposed to the Syrian government’ and of relying on ‘pseudo witnesses,’ according to media reports. He also claimed the OPCW ‘was established illegitimately’ and that therefore it is unfair to expect Syria to comply with its regulations. Russia joined 14 other states, including China, in voting against the measure to restrict Syria’s rights within the multilateral organization…

“Despite Syria’s accession to the Chemical Weapons Convention in 2013 under heavy international pressure, questions remain about the validity of the country’s chemical weapons declarations. Arias reported that one of the deadliest attacks took place in 2017, three years after Syrian President Bashar al-Assad declared that the destruction of the country’s chemical weapons program was complete.” [8]

So as of mid 2021: the Al-Assad regime remains in control of the Syrian state; there is no convincing evidence that its entire stockpile of chemical weapons has been destroyed and that it no longer has a chemical weapons production capability; there is no guarantee that Syrian military forces will never again deploy chemical weapons against Syrians opposed to the Al-Assad regime; Russian military forces in Syria, along with Russia’s diplomatic clout internationally, continue to protect the Al-Assad regime, as well as maintain Russian foreign-based military power in Syria.

Over the ten years and four months of the Syrian Civil War (so far) over 606,000 people have been killed, 6.7 million Syrians are internally displaced, and 6.6 million Syrians are refugees. The pre-war population of the Syrian Arab Republic was estimated to be 22 million. [9]

The elimination worldwide of both chemical and nuclear weapons from military arsenals — and threat display diplomacy — remain as yet unfulfilled dreams for a more peaceful and secure world.


[1], [3] Use of chemical weapons in the Syrian Civil War

[2] Syria chemical weapons program

[4], [5], [6], [7] Unpublished OPCW Douma Correspondence Casts Further Doubt on Claims of ‘Doctored’ Report,
(Bellingcat, 26 October 2020) 

[8] OPCW Confirms Chemical Weapons Use in Syria,
Arms Control Today, (Arms Control Association, July/August 2021)

[9] Syrian Civil War


On Plato’s Republic and Just Societies

I see Plato’s book, Republic, as logic-based epistemology applied to political philosophy. Anyway, that would be my claim in my undergraduate Philosophy 101 essay on Plato.

The conceptual range of “logic” and “epistemology” and “politics” in Plato’s Republic is that of a sophisticated and prosperous well-educated aristocrat of late 5th Century and early 4th Century BCE Athenian-Greek society. That conceptual range is free of prehistoric animism, and Asiatic and Celtic mysticism; it is solidly materialistic and absent any “depth psychology” of the type that would be popularized by Sigmund Freud and C. G. Jung (the psychology of the “unconscious”). That conceptual range is also absent any qualms about hierarchical society structured on hereditarily-conferred class-based social status and functional roles, and which includes slavery.

So it is easy to see Plato’s Republic as the stone at the center of the plump fruit that is Western Philosophy with its inner flesh of Christian mythology and irrationality — which appropriated, subsumed, reformulated and blended prior pagan myths and mysticisms to serve the needs of temporal political hierarchy — its middle layer of Renaissance and Enlightenment rationalism, and with its outer flesh and skin covering as later envelopments by early 19th Century Romanticism — emotionalism — and late 19th Century Nietzschean anti-religious intellectualism, Freudian-Jungian depth psychology as a substitute for discredited and discarded Christian metaphysics, and the proletarian-socialist consciousness engendered by industrialization.

As 20th and 21st Century individuals, parts of each of us live in various prior periods of the development of Western Consciousness, depending on the particulars of the arcs of our personal psychological, family, ethnic, cultural, educational, economic and political situations.

The slow inter-bleeding of Eastern and Western Thought, at least since the 19th century, has somewhat diluted both, more fundamentally in the East that has become quite enthusiastically capitalist since the 20th Century, than in the West that has added a minor flavoring of Eastern philosophy into the self-absorbed and self-indulgent aspects of its materialistic consumerist obsessiveness.

In his book, Republic, Plato lays out his political philosophy for the establishment and maintenance of a stable, well-ordered and just society. In his time societies were city-states, like Athens in the time of Socrates, Plato and Diogenes. The essential element of Plato’s scheme is the “guidance” of the city — “governing” is too strongly “micro-management” of a word — by a class of “guardians” who were carefully selected and trained from youth for the task, and who were wholly devoted to it for their lifetimes: basically philosopher-guru-priests.

However, I note that the viability of Plato’s political formulation for the construction and operation of just societies rests primarily on the incorruptible moral character of its central and guiding personnel, the guardians, and secondarily on the reasonably stable decency of behavior of the citizens: that is to say, their morality.

Please note that by “moral” I do not at all mean “religious”; there is no functional correlation between the two (and in my view more likely an anti-correlation).

At least since the end of the Neolithic, the idea developed that a stable, well-ordered society (whether just or unjust, but always to the liking of its rulers) could be established solely by political means, such as in: monarchies, parliamentary democracies, socialist and communists states (most pointedly those sharply Marxist materialist), and dictatorships (whether purely materialistic or theocratic).

By political I mean social arrangements for societal management that are constructions external to the individual person. Note that such political structures can include elements of physical compulsion on individual behavior, and elements of thought-control by indoctrination and propaganda to capture, shape and distort individual thought, and that such political structures will still be external to the individual as a moral being.

So, I do not believe it is possible to ensure the stable continuation of any momentarily just society, whatever its political structure, solely on the basis of the forced maintenance of that political structure, nor solely on the basis of a change of political structure whether that change is reformist or revolutionary. Justice as societal stability requires a taproot into incorruptible moral character by a majority of the citizens. Justice is good politics and good political structure, and is a natural outgrowth of good and intelligent morality, which in turn is individually personified as character.

Given the above, I believe that any social movement aiming to “permanently” evolve, reform or revolutionize a society in need of anything from improvement to drastic change in order to make it universally just, has to base its efforts on developing the moral character of its movement adherents and the mass of citizens it wishes to convince, for lifetime incorruptibility. Here, we have faith that a society with a majority of its citizens being of incorruptible moral character will ensure the continuation of such in succeeding generations, by the operation of its educational systems.

Of course any serious movement for social change will act politically whenever it can to counter existing injustices and respond to humanitarian emergencies. But it must never lose sight of its chronic fundamental task — instilling ethics — regardless of the frequency and variety of crisis flare-ups it reacts to during the daily spectacle.

Yes, this prescription for engineering permanent social change for the better is an idealization that may seem impossible to implement, as witnessed by the history of human civilization, but I think it is nevertheless true and has been the most powerful force that has helped bring about whatever degree of decency any of our human societies possesses today.