Category Archives: Survival

CFR Member Calls on Elites to “Rise Up Against Ignorant Masses”

 

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In a column for Foreign Policy Magazine, Council on Foreign Relations member James Traub argues that the elite need to “rise up” against the “mindlessly angry” ignorant masses in order to prevent globalization from being derailed by the populist revolt that led to Brexit and the rise of Donald Trump.

Concerned that, “Today’s citizen revolt — in the United States, Britain, and Europe — may upend politics as nothing else has in my lifetime,” Traub notes that Brexit was an “utter repudiation of….bankers and economists” and an example of how “extremism has gone mainstream”.

Citing the potential for Trump to split the Republican Party even if he loses and the increasing unpopularity of France’s socialist government, Traub argues that establishment political parties in major western countries must “combine forces to keep out the nationalists”.

“With prospects of flat growth in Europe and minimal income growth in the United States, voters are rebelling against their dismal long-term prospects,” writes Traub. “And globalization means culture as well as economics: Older people whose familiar world is vanishing beneath a welter of foreign tongues and multicultural celebrations are waving their fists at cosmopolitan elites.”

Traub’s tone is so contemptuous, he even describes the pro-Trump Republican base as “know nothing” voters and sneers at voters in Poland for being concerned about “values and tradition,” while stressing that the push for further globalization will pit “poor and non-white and marginal citizens” against “working-class and middle-class whites,” whom he describes as angry “fist-shakers”.

Traub admits that his outlook is “elitist” but that, “It is necessary to say that people are deluded and that the task of leadership is to un-delude them.”

Reaction to the article was piercingly vitriolic, with one respondent commenting, “If you’ve ever wondered what the conversations between aristocrats were like as the peasants were storming the Bastille, I suspect some of them were a lot like this Foreign Policy article.”

The piece is yet another stunning example of how disconnected elites are to the people whom they insult and wish to rule over.

Traub, a Harvard graduate from a super-wealthy family that owns the Bloomingdale’s chain of luxury department stores, has no idea whatsoever how things like mass uncontrolled immigration, deindustrialization and globalization impact ordinary working westerners.

His sneering pomposity is precisely why many Brits voted for Brexit and why many Americans will vote for Donald Trump.

In refusing to listen to or understand the concerns of hundreds of millions of people who have been disenfranchised by globalism, and instead arrogantly doubling down on his chutzpah, Traub is only ensuring that more people will join the populist revolt that led to Brexit in the first place.

 

CFR Member Calls on Elites to “Rise Up Against Ignorant Masses”.

Tensions Between US/NATO & Russia Are Flaring Dangerously

As if there weren’t enough crises to worry about in the world already, from shooting rampages to accelerating species loss, the US and NATO continue to ‘poke the bear’ and risk an outbreak of war with Russia.

I wish this were idle speculation. But if you haven’t been paying close attention, you’ll probably be shocked at just how much direct military and diplomatic provocation has been going on between NATO/US and Russia over the past several years — and in recent weeks, in particular.

Even more shocking is that no one in power can provide us with a compelling reason for exactly why these tensions are flaring. It seems that Russia’s main sin is in not entirely, completely and immediately giving the US/NATO anything and everything they request.

In other words, it’s imperial hubris and petulance that seems to be driving the ship of state. That’s a dangerous thing.

I’ve written extensively on the dangers of war with Russia as my concerns have mounted ever since the situation in Ukraine devolved in 2014.

There have been plenty of chances to dial down the rhetoric and mend fences, but they’ve all come and gone without healing. In fact, as we detail below, quite the opposite has happened.

The bottom line is this: If you’re not already mentally and physically prepared for the prospect of a NATO/US war with Russia, you really should be.

Perhaps the chances of outright war are still low on a relative scale, but the costs would be catastrophically high — making this worthy of your attention. A low risk of a catastrophic outcome is the very reason we all buy insurance – life, auto, and home.  Not because we wish things to go wrong in our lives, but because they sometimes do nonetheless.

A Russian Warning

The list of aggressive provocations by NATO that have been received as belligerent acts by Russia is quite long. It stretches back several years and continues to grow rapidly, making the chance for an ‘accident’ or unplanned incident quite high.

I was impressed with a recent piece penned and signed by eight prominent writers and blogger with Russian heritage. Titled A Russian Warning, it ran on a wide variety of blogs knowledgeable about the Russian situation including Dmitry Orlov’s and The Saker’s. I encourage you to read the whole thing. Right now, if you’ve got the time. I can wait.

To cut to the chase, the harsh conclusion of the piece is this: If there is going to be a war with Russia, then the United States will most certainly be destroyed, and most of us will end up dead.”

Russia is, of course, a major nuclear power with a long history of surviving being attacked by outsiders. But for some reason, US/NATO military and diplomatic efforts have all been geared at further encroaching upon and/or isolating Russia.

They note:

The US leadership has done everything it could to push the situation to the brink of disaster. First, its anti-Russian policies have convinced the Russian leadership that making concessions or negotiating with the West is futile. It has become apparent that the West will always support any individual, movement or government that is anti-Russian, be it tax-cheating Russian oligarchs, convicted Ukrainian war criminals, Saudi-supported Wahhabi terrorists in Chechnya or cathedral-desecrating punks in Moscow.

Now that NATO, in violation of its previous promises, has expanded right up to the Russian border, with US forces deployed in the Baltic states, within artillery range of St. Petersburg, Russia’s second-largest city, the Russians have nowhere left to retreat. They will not attack; nor will they back down or surrender.

Imagine for a moment that Russia had positioned its military less than 100 miles from New York City and installed armored battalions with artillery. How would we in the US respond to that provocation? Probably with outrage, anger and defiance — and rightly so. So why are we expecting Russia to act any differently?

The conclusion:

The sole reason why the USA and Russia have found themselves on a collision course, instead of defusing tensions and cooperating on a wide range of international problems, is the stubborn refusal by the US leadership to accept Russia as an equal partner: Washington is dead set on being the “world leader” and the “indispensable nation,” even as its influence steadily dwindles in the wake of a string of foreign policy and military disasters such as Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Yemen and the Ukraine.

Continued American global leadership is something that neither Russia, nor China, nor most of the other countries are willing to accept. This gradual but apparent loss of power and influence has caused the US leadership to become hysterical; and it is but a small step from hysterical to suicidal. America’s political leaders need to be placed under suicide watch.

The summary here is that Russia feels surrounded by an increasingly belligerent NATO/US military presence. It can find little common ground with diplomats from NATO generally and the US specifically. If fully backed into a corner, once it perceives it is out of other options, Russia will defend herself. I’m not sure how anybody could deny or begrudge her that right.

If the West, meaning the US and Europe, decide to further goad Russia, war is likely inevitable. (I’m leaning heavily here on the historically-dependable formula: Time + Shit Happens = Conflict).  Sooner or later, Russia will have to switch from response mode to reaction mode. I’ve written about that precition here, here and here.

The Provocations – Neocon Central

Here’s a very short and incomplete list of the provocations that have been undertaken against Russia. Again, just try to imagine what the reaction would be by the West were the roles reversed:

2014

2015

In return, Russia has been busy fighting its ‘isolation’ by inkling major energy deals, openly testing its nuclear weapons platforms, and railing against the double standards of the West:

You get the idea: both sides are settling into a pattern of escalating responses. The trajectory is alarming.

What’s alarming is the above selection of headlines is a miniscule sampling of the possible ones I could have picked. The evidence is everywhere.

Now let’s fast forward to 2016 where things are really heating up.

2016

The US and NATO have been putting increasing emphasis on placing more military hardware and training exercises in the Baltic and Black seas as well as the Mediterranean ocean.  In one incident, Russian jets flew within yards of a key US naval asset over and over again in a provocation that John Kerry said the US “would have been justified” in shooting those jets down.

U.S. issues formal protest to Russia over Baltic Sea incident

Apr 14, 2016

(CNN) White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest says the U.S. Embassy in Moscow has communicated formal concerns to the Russian government about the incident in the Baltic Sea this week in which fighter jets flew very close to the USS Donald Cook.

A U.S. official described the Russian maneuver as “strafing runs” without firing any weapons. The unarmed Russian aircraft swooped in over the deck in the same flight profile that would have been used if an attack was underway.

(Source)

Here’s a video of that flyby:

And, no, the US would not have been justified in shooting down those Russian jets. Kerry is being clearly belligerent with that statement.

A more level response comes to us from a retired Navy commanding officer:

“Well, we’re not at war with Russia,” Capt. Rick Hoffman said. “It would be one thing to be operating and have a threatening attack profile from someone who might not recognize me — that’s not the case here.”

If you have visual identification of the jet, can see it isn’t carrying weapons, and don’t detect any electronic emissions suggesting there was a missile lock on the ship, there’s nothing to be done.

And ultimately, the rules of engagement allow the CO to take defensive action if they feel they safety of their vessel is in danger, according to U.S. European Command spokesman Capt. Danny Hernandez told Navy Times. In this case the CO did not feel threatened, he added.

“You don’t get to kill people just because they’re being annoying,” said Hoffman, who commanded frigate DeWert and cruiser Hue City.

(Source – Navy Times)

Thankfully there are saner minds in the military, even if the State Department is itching for a fight.

Which brings us to the most insane head scratcher of them all.

State Department Loses Its Cool

In yesterday’s Wall Street Journal (6/16/2016) came the bizarre revelation that 51 internal State Department officials signed a document protesting Obama’s lack of direct military engagement with Assad’s government forces in Syria:

U.S. State Department Officials Call for Strikes Against Syria’s Assad

Jun 16, 2016

BEIRUT—Dozens of State Department officials this week protested against U.S. policy in Syria, signing an internal document that calls for targeted military strikes against the Damascus government and urging regime change as the only way to defeat Islamic State.

The “dissent channel cable” was signed by 51 State Department officers involved with advising on Syria policy in various capacities, according to an official familiar with the document. The Wall Street Journal reviewed a copy of the cable, which repeatedly calls for “targeted military strikes” against the Syrian government in light of the near-collapse of the ceasefire brokered earlier this year.

(Source)

Now just reflect on that a moment. But as you do, be sure to recall that Russia is fighting alongside Assad’s forces. In other words, these State Department officials are asking for military action to be taken against Syria’s allied forces fighting to preserve the current government’s hold on power.

In other words, there are 51 insane people (a least) in the US State Department that think attacking Russia directly would be a swell idea. All in the interest of promoting a foreign policy of regime change that has not worked out well in the Mideast countries where we’ve recently tried it. Iraq and Libya are unmitigated disasters, especially for the citizens left living with the aftermath.

I would certainly love to know the names of those 52 individuals. I’d bet good money that the list is heavily stocked with neocons.

Also be sure to recall that Russia moved the s400 antiaircraft missile system into Syria last year. This battery is widely respected and feared by pilots due to its enormous reach:

(Source)

So not only are these State Department folks agitating for direct military engagement with Russian forces by agitating for US airstrikes against Syrian targets, they are seemingly either unaware of or uncaring about the extreme risk US pilots would face in trying such a move.

Most likely the US would lose a fair number of planes if such action was attempted. I suspect, though, that would play to the hands of the neocons at State. Dead heroes would provide exactly the sort of justification they’d need to expand the war they’ve been itching for all along.

But just in case a regular shooting war doesn’t break out, NATO is busy laying the groundwork to justify one along other channels.

Expanding the Definition of “War”

Recently, NATO has expanded the definition of “war”. Let’s remember that NATO exists as a collective defense treaty organization. An attack on one member country is treated an attack on all.  NATO allies are obligated to come to each other’s defense.

Here’s the language:

Collective defence – Article 5

(Last updated Mar 2016)

The principle of collective defence is at the very heart of NATO’s founding treaty. It remains a unique and enduring principle that binds its members together, committing them to protect each other and setting a spirit of solidarity within the Alliance.

  • Collective defence means that an attack against one Ally is considered as an attack against all Allies.
  • The principle of collective defence is enshrined in Article 5 of the Washington Treaty.
  • NATO invoked Article 5 for the first time in its history after the 9/11 terrorist attacks against the United States.
  • NATO has taken collective defence measures on several occasions, for instance in response to the situation in Syria and in the wake of the Russia-Ukraine crisis.
  • NATO has standing forces on active duty that contribute to the Alliance’s collective defence efforts on a permanent basis.

(Source)

Now you and I might think that, if one member nation were invaded, that would meet the definition of “war”. But NATO, clearly not happy with that limitation, has recently proposed expanding that to include – get this – cyberwarfare:

NATO adds cyber to operation areas

Jun 14, 2016

BRUSSELS (AP) — NATO agreed Tuesday to make cyber operations part of its war domain, along with air, sea and land operations, and to beef up the defense of its computer networks.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said the decision to formally consider cyber operations a military domain is not aimed at any one country. He says the allies need to be able to better defend themselves and respond to attacks on their computer networks.

The decision has been long in coming, particularly amid rising tensions with Russia, which has proven its willingness to launch computer-based attacks against other nations.

Russian hackers have been blamed for a breach into an unclassified Pentagon computer network and for a breach of NATO’s computer network two years ago.

In 2014, after years of debate, NATO finally agreed that a cyberattack could rise to the level of a military assault and could trigger the Article 5 protections, which allow the alliance to go to the collective defense of another member that has been attacked.

(Source)

Got that?  Now a cyberattack could be used as justification to invoke Article V and bind everyone to engage the enemy in an actual ‘boots on the ground’ war.

Now that makes sense on some level. After all if a hostile nation took down your electrical grid by a cyberattack (which is entirely possible, by the way), that would be a threat to national security.

But in this world of electronic cat and mouse, creating a false-flag cyberattack that seems to originate from a hostile country could be initiated from anywhere, including the “attacked” country.  But the time all that had been sorted out, the bullets would likely have already been flying.

Conclusion

OK, that was a lot to read through. Thanks for persisting to this point. The punchline to it all is: War with Russia is a distinct possibility, and US and NATO are increasing that risk through escalating provocation.

Should a war break out, it could be along a variety of dimensions which are outlined in Part II below.

For now, it should be (hopefully) sufficient for you to take the threat seriously and to make whatever provisions seem prudent to you. To my European readers, such preparations seem even more necessary because you will be close to the front lines of any direct, conventional hostilities that break out.

In Part 2: How To Prepare For War, we explain how conflict can take many forms: trade wars, energy wars, financial wars, cyberwar, shooting wars, and nuclear war. We lay out in great detail the steps we, as individuals, can do to prepare for each.

And fortunately, this preparation comes with an upside: as many of these precautions will be life-enhancing steps even if — hopefully, if — tensions de-escalate from here.

Click here to read Part 2 of this report (free executive summary, enrollment required for full access)

 

Tensions Between US/NATO & Russia Are Flaring Dangerously

The Surveillance State Didn’t Stop the Orlando Shooting — Nor Will the Resultant Police State

pulse-shooting

 

Mass surveillance has, for the larger segment of the U.S. populace, become an integral facet in the illusory feeling of security. But does it serve any purpose at all — other than providing the Surveillance State a handy excuse for keeping tabs on anyone it chooses, while simultaneously quashing every one of our paltry remaining legal rights?

 

While it may be comforting to feel the overarching blanket of indiscriminate surveillance keeps us all safe from harm, the deaths of at least 50 people in an Orlando nightclub prove indisputably the contrary.

 

In fact, the National Security Agency and Federal Bureau of Investigation — and, indeed, every agency — attempting to employ the weary excuse they spy on you to keep you safe can be disproven in the events of the early morning hours this past Sunday.

 

No less than 50 people perished at the hands of at least one gunman in an Orlando LGBTQ-friendly nightclub as they unwound from the week’s stress on Latin night in the early morning hours of June 12. And while foreign news outlets first reported the mass shooting, American media soon caught up to what had taken place on U.S. soil.

 

Unfolding over a period of hours, Pulse nightclub took to Facebook to sound the alarm, posting, “Everyone get out of pulse and keep running” — as the shooter (or perhaps shooters) mowed down revelers and reportedly took survivors hostage.

 

In the aftermath of the carnage, several aspects of the attack become startlingly clear.

 

 

First, discrepancies in eyewitness’ accounts of unfolding events — such as on-the-spot interviews describing not one, but two shooters — were not slated to hit mainstream headlines.

 

Second, any number of dragnet, mass surveillance programs — or even those targeting, specifically, ‘questionable’ individuals — had done nothing to foreshadow, much less prevent, the slaughter for the NSA or FBI.

 

How could that be? How could programs tasked with specifically trawling social media, personal correspondence, and thus profiling individuals most at risk for committing such atrocities, possibly miss the mark — exponentially?

 

Simple. These programs were never designed to detect, stop, or catch actual terrorists in the first place.

 

What? Seriously? You mean the government’s welcoming, protective arms did nothing at all to save us?

 

No.

 

But in the aftermath of a mass murder event, it’s expected we would all ignore that particularly relevant detail and succumb to further intrusions on our most basic liberties to cozy into the safe blanket of surveillance, which most frequently targets those who stand against the State causing extremism in the first place.

 

Shortly after this disgusting infringement on the personal freedoms we hold dear, there are calls for stricter strictures on gun control and freedom of association emanating from the mouths of politicians — who, no less, happen to be involved in contentious electoral proceedings. We are, of course, expected to swallow this — no questions asked — as the U.S. government moves to ‘rein in terrorists and their agendas.’

Don’t be fooled. Though the quote by Benjamin Franklin — “Those who would give up essential Liberty to purchase a little temporary Safety deserve neither Liberty nor Safety” — has been so incredibly skewed from its original meaning, the modern understanding holds fast.

When we base the usurpation of freedom on the fleeting comfort provided by the government in times of tragedy and strife, the resultant disavowal of rightful freedom soon follows; and to no laudable ends, whatsoever. Consider recent reports the NSA has expanded plans to use your so-called ‘smart’ appliances against you — and now seeks to expand those programs to include even biomedical devices, like pacemakers.

Consider Americans under consistent, constant scrutiny — as contentiously revealed by Edward Snowden in 2013 — for the basic act of using their cell phones or deeming necessary encrypted email accounts. Or using the phone. Or journalists under the watchful NSA eye. Or, worse, the complete erasure of rights inextricably linked to the same concept of terrorism far too many Americans willingly accept as the root of the entire issue.

We are a nation under attack, indeed, but not by the brown people those in power would have you believe are out to steal our freedoms. No, to the contrary, we are under attack by the very government that would commandeer our basic civil liberties under the all-too false guise the terrorists want what we have.

But we have too little. We have too few of the basic freedoms that once defined us as a people who broke away from the governmental chokehold. What we’re left with, in the meantime, are the scraps and trappings of a liberty so far removed from its original intent as to be ineffectual in preserving the same.

Whatever your opinions, or even assertions, about the events in Orlando — understand — we are gazing over the precipice from whence there exists no ability to return. We have the temporary luxury of gazing expectantly over the edge, or we can pull back the reins that seemingly hold us in place and say, ‘Enough.’

Enough with the facade of programs whose blueprints offer little more than the feeling of safety. Enough with a State so paranoid it seeks to stomp out any opinion in opposition to it. Enough capitulation.

We see you watching. We see you do nothing with said evidence. But most imperative of all, we see you seeing us — to no substantive ends, whatsoever.

Take the admonishments of the State proffered by whistleblowers who see the bigger picture — this will not end well. No matter the hysteria, signing away your rights can do nothing but strip you of power.

Don’t — no matter your apparent, personal justification — allow them to take more than the miles you’ve already voluntarily offered.

Op-Ed by Claire Bernish

 

Claire Bernish writes for TheFreeThoughtProject.com, where this article first appeared.

 

The Surveillance State Didn’t Stop the Orlando Shooting — Nor Will the Resultant Police State.

Putin Warns Romania [US] and Poland [US] Against Installing ABM Missiles

From the “Can you hear me now?” Russian president to the deaf, Nobel Peace Prize winner[?] corporate federal United States president, Putin is essentially telling Obama that the blatant lies to Russia, indeed to the American people and world at large, are insanely putting everyone at risk of nuclear war, and Russia is being pushed too far.

The US has been lying to Russia for decades, ever since 1990, when Gorbachev was told there would be no further expansion, no encroachment by NATO upon Russia.  Every promise made by the US since then has been broken and disregarded, and now the US is seeking to have Romania and Poland move further toward the point of no return in forcing Russia’s hand.

Putin Warns Romania and Poland Against Installing ABM Missiles

On Friday, May 27th, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin again asserted that American President Barack Obama lies when saying that the reason America’s anti-ballistic missile (“ABM”) or Ballistic Missile Defense (“BMD”) system is being installed in Romania, and will soon be installed in Poland, is to protect Europe from Iranian missiles that don’t even exist and that Obama himself says won’t exist because of Obama’s deal with Iran. Putin is saying: I know that you are lying there, not being honest. You’re aiming to disable our retaliatory capacity here, not Iran’s. I’m not so dumb as to believe so transparent a lie as your assurances that this is about Iran, not about Russia.

Putin says that ABMs such as America is installing, disable a country’s (in this case, Russia’s) ability to retaliate against a blitz invasion — something increasingly likely from NATO now as NATO has extended right up to Russia’s very borders — and that Russia will not allow this disabling of Russia’s retaliatory forces.

He said that “NATO fend us off with vague statements that this is no threat to Russia … that the whole project began as a preventive measure against Iran’s nuclear program. Where is that program now? It doesn’t exist. … We have been saying since the early 2000s that we will have to react somehow to your moves to undermine international security. No one is listening to us.” 

In other words, he is saying that the West is ignoring Russia’s words, and that therefore Russia will, if this continues, respond by eliminating the ABM sites before they become fully operational. To do otherwise than to eliminate any fully operational ABM system on or near Russia’s borders would be to leave the Russian people vulnerable to a blitz attack by NATO, and this will not be permitted.

He said: “At the moment the interceptor missiles installed have a range of 500 kilometers, soon this will go up to 1000 kilometers, and worse than that, they can be rearmed with 2400km-range offensive missiles even today, and it can be done by simply switching the software, so that even the Romanians themselves won’t know.”

In other words: Only the Americans, who have designed and control the ABM system, will be able to know if and when Russia is left totally vulnerable. Not even the Romanians will know; and Putin says, “Russia has ‘no choice’ but to target Romania” — and later Poland, if they follow through with their plans to do the same.

By implication, Putin is saying that, whereas he doesn’t need to strike Romania’s site immediately, he’ll need to do it soon enough to block the ABM system’s upgrade that will leave Russia vulnerable to attack and (because of the fully functional ABM) with no ability on Russia’s part to counter-strike.

He is saying: Remove the ABM system, or else we’ll have to do it by knocking it out ourselves.

Putin knows that according to the Article Five, “Mutual Defense,” provision of the NATO Treaty, any attack against a NATO member, such as Romania, is supposed to elicit an attack by all NATO members against the nation that is attacking. However, Putin is saying that, if NATO is going to be attacking Russia, then it will be without any fully operational ABM system, and (by implication) that Russia’s response to any such attack will be a full-scale nuclear attack against all NATO nations, and a nuclear war resulting which will destroy the planet by unleashing all the nuclear weaponry of both sides, NATO and Russia.

Putin is saying that either Romania — and subsequently Poland — will cancel and nullify their cooperation with U.S. President Obama’s ABM installation, or else there will be a surgical strike by Russia against such installation(s), even though that would likely produce a nuclear attack against Russia by NATO, and a counter-strike nuclear attack by Russia against NATO.

When Putin said “No one is listening to us” on the other side, the NATO side, Putin meant: I don’t want to have to speak by means of a surgical strike to eliminate a NATO ABM system, but that’s the way I’ll ‘speak’ if you are deaf to words and to reason and to common decency.

He will not allow the Russian people to become totally vulnerable to a nuclear attack by the United States and its military allies. He is determined that, if NATO attacks Russia, then it will be game-over for the entire world, not only for Russia.

He is saying to Obama and to all of NATO: Please hear and understand my words, and be reasonable, because the results otherwise will be far worse for everyone if you persist in continuing to ignore my words.


Since posting the above, lest the uninformed still believe the US is not guilty of anything against Russia and believes all the elite-sanctioned propaganda mainstream news, here is yet more:

UK To Stockpile Tanks, Heavy Equipment Close To Russia’s Border

And then, as if on cue, NATO made it even more explicit that its primary prerogative remains to provoke Russia into an offensive move, when over the weekend the Times reported that the British military may soon start stockpiling tanks and other heavy equipment in Eastern Europe as part of NATO’s military beef up close to Russia’s border. The decision may come at the upcoming NATO summit in Warsaw in July.

tanks_0

 

Putin Warns Romania [US] and Poland [US] Against Installing ABM Missiles – Gold And Liberty.

The Pentagon is building a ‘self-aware’ killer robot army fueled by social media — INSURGE intelligence — Medium

Imagine one of these giant robot dog things being weaponized and chasing you through the jungle because you turned up on a Pentagon kill list after posting angry stuff on social media

The Pentagon is building a ‘self-aware’ killer robot army fueled by social media

Official US defence and NATO documents confirm that autonomous weapon systems will kill targets, including civilians, based on tweets, blogs and Instagram

by Nafeez Ahmed

This exclusive is published by INSURGE INTELLIGENCE, a crowd-funded investigative journalism project for the global commons

An unclassified 2016 Department of Defense (DoD) document, the Human Systems Roadmap Review, reveals that the US military plans to create artificially intelligent (AI) autonomous weapon systems, which will use predictive social media analytics to make decisions on lethal force with minimal human involvement.

Despite official insistence that humans will retain a “meaningful” degree of control over autonomous weapon systems, this and other Pentagon documents dated from 2015 to 2016 confirm that US military planners are already developing technologies designed to enable swarms of “self-aware” interconnected robots to design and execute kill operations against robot-selected targets.

More alarmingly, the documents show that the DoD believes that within just fifteen years, it will be feasible for mission planning, target selection and the deployment of lethal force to be delegated entirely to autonomous weapon systems in air, land and sea. The Pentagon expects AI threat assessments for these autonomous operations to be derived from massive data sets including blogs, websites, and multimedia posts on social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

The raft of Pentagon documentation flatly contradicts Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work’s denial that the DoD is planning to develop killer robots.

In a widely reported March conversation with Washington Post columnist David Ignatius, Work said that this may change as rival powers work to create such technologies:

“We might be going up against a competitor that is more willing to delegate authority to machines than we are, and as that competition unfolds we will have to make decisions on how we best can compete.”

But, he insisted, “We will not delegate lethal authority to a machine to make a decision,” except for “cyber or electronic warfare.”

He lied.

Official US defence and NATO documents dissected by INSURGE intelligence reveal that Western governments are already planning to develop autonomous weapons systems with the capacity to make decisions on lethal force — and that such systems, in the future, are even expected to make decisions on acceptable levels of “collateral damage.”

Behind public talks, a secret arms race

Efforts to create autonomous robot killers have evolved over the last decade, but have come to a head this year.

A National Defense Industry Association (NDIA) conference on Ground Robotics Capabilities in March hosted government officials and industry leaders confirming that the Pentagon was developing robot teams that would be able to use lethal force without direction from human operators.

In April, government representatives and international NGOs convened at the United Nations in Geneva to discuss the legal and ethical issues surrounding lethal autonomous weapon systems (LAWS).

That month, the UK government launched a parliamentary inquiry into robotics and AI. And earlier in May, the White House Office of Science and Technology announced a series of public workshops on the wide-ranging social and economic implications of AI.

Prototype Terminator Bots?

Most media outlets have reported the fact that so far, governments have not ruled out the long-term possibility that intelligent robots could be eventually authorized to make decisions to kill human targets autonomously.

But contrary to Robert Work’s claim, active research and development efforts to explore this possibility are already underway. The plans can be gleaned from several unclassified Pentagon documents in the public record that have gone unnoticed, until now.

Among them is a document released in February 2016 from the Pentagon’s Human Systems Community of Interest (HSCOI).

The document shows not only that the Pentagon is actively creating lethal autonomous weapon systems, but that a crucial component of the decision-making process for such robotic systems will include complex Big Data models, one of whose inputs will be public social media posts.

Robots that kill ‘like people’

The HSCOI is a little-known multi-agency research and development network seeded by the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD), which acts as a central hub for a huge plethora of science and technology work across US military and intelligence agencies.

The document is a 53-page presentation prepared by HSCOI chair, Dr. John Tangney, who is Director of the Office of Naval Research’s Human and Bioengineered Systems Division. Titled Human Systems Roadmap Review, the slides were presented at the NDIA’s Human Systems Conference in February.

The document says that one of the five “building blocks” of the Human Systems program is to “Network-enable, autonomous weapons hardened to operate in a future Cyber/EW [electronic warfare] Environment.” This would allow for “cooperative weapon concepts in communications-denied environments.”

But then the document goes further, identifying a “focus areas” for science and technology development as “Autonomous Weapons: Systems that can take action, when needed”, along with “Architectures for Autonomous Agents and Synthetic Teammates.”

The final objective is the establishment of “autonomous control of multiple unmanned systems for military operations.”

Such autonomous systems must be capable of selecting and engaging targets by themselves — with human “control” drastically minimized to affirming that the operation remains within the parameters of the Commander’s “intent.”

The document explicitly asserts that these new autonomous weapon systems should be able to respond to threats without human involvement, but in a way that simulates human behavior and cognition.

The DoD’s HSCOI program must “bridge the gap between high fidelity simulations of human cognition in laboratory tasks and complex, dynamic environments.”

Referring to the “Mechanisms of Cognitive Processing” of autonomous systems, the document highlights the need for:

“More robust, valid, and integrated mechanisms that enable constructive agents that truly think and act like people.”

The Pentagon’s ultimate goal is to develop “Autonomous control of multiple weapon systems with fewer personnel” as a “force multiplier.”

The new systems must display “highly reliable autonomous cooperative behavior” to allow “agile and robust mission effectiveness across a wide range of situations, and with the many ambiguities associated with the ‘fog of war.’”

Resurrecting the human terrain

The HSCOI consists of senior officials from the US Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA); and is overseen by the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Research & Engineering and the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs.

HSCOI’s work goes well beyond simply creating autonomous weapons systems. An integral part of this is simultaneously advancing human-machine interfaces and predictive analytics.

The latter includes what a HSCOI brochure for the technology industry, ‘Challenges, Opportunities and Future Efforts’, describes as creating “models for socially-based threat prediction” as part of “human activity ISR.”

This is short-hand for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance of a population in an ‘area of interest’, by collecting and analyzing data on the behaviors, culture, social structure, networks, relationships, motivation, intent, vulnerabilities, and capabilities of a human group.

The idea, according to the brochure, is to bring together open source data from a wide spectrum, including social media sources, in a single analytical interface that can “display knowledge of beliefs, attitudes and norms that motivate in uncertain environments; use that knowledge to construct courses of action to achieve Commander’s intent and minimize unintended consequences; [and] construct models to allow accurate forecasts of predicted events.”

The Human Systems Roadmap Review document from February 2016 shows that this area of development is a legacy of the Pentagon’s controversial “human terrain” program.

The Human Terrain System (HTS) was a US Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) program established in 2006, which embedded social scientists in the field to augment counterinsurgency operations in theaters like Iraq and Afghanistan.

The idea was to use social scientists and cultural anthropologists to provide the US military actionable insight into local populations to facilitate operations — in other words, to weaponize social science.

The $725 million program was shut down in September 2014 in the wake of growing controversy over its sheer incompetence.

The HSCOI program that replaces it includes social sciences but the greater emphasis is now on combining them with predictive computational models based on Big Data. The brochure puts the projected budget for the new human systems project at $450 million.

The Pentagon’s Human Systems Roadmap Review demonstrates that far from being eliminated, the HTS paradigm has been upgraded as part of a wider multi-agency program that involves integrating Big Data analytics with human-machine interfaces, and ultimately autonomous weapon systems.

The new science of social media crystal ball gazing

The 2016 human systems roadmap explains that the Pentagon’s “vision” is to use “effective engagement with the dynamic human terrain to make better courses of action and predict human responses to our actions” based on “predictive analytics for multi-source data.”

Are those ‘soldiers’ in the photo human… or are they really humanoid (killer) robots?

In a slide entitled, ‘Exploiting Social Data, Dominating Human Terrain, Effective Engagement,’ the document provides further detail on the Pentagon’s goals:

“Effectively evaluate/engage social influence groups in the op-environment to understand and exploit support, threats, and vulnerabilities throughout the conflict space. Master the new information environment with capability to exploit new data sources rapidly.”

The Pentagon wants to draw on massive repositories of open source data that can support “predictive, autonomous analytics to forecast and mitigate human threats and events.”

This means not just developing “behavioral models that reveal sociocultural uncertainty and mission risk”, but creating “forecast models for novel threats and critical events with 48–72 hour timeframes”, and even establishing technology that will use such data to “provide real-time situation awareness.”

According to the document, “full spectrum social media analysis” is to play a huge role in this modeling, to support “I/W [irregular warfare], information operations, and strategic communications.”

This is broken down further into three core areas:

“Media predictive analytics; Content-based text and video retrieval; Social media exploitation for intel.”

The document refers to the use of social media data to forecast future threats and, on this basis, automatically develop recommendations for a “course of action” (CoA).

Under the title ‘Weak Signal Analysis & Social Network Analysis for Threat Forecasting’, the Pentagon highlights the need to:

“Develop real-time understanding of uncertain context with low-cost tools that are easy to train, reduce analyst workload, and inform COA [course of action] selection/analysis.”

In other words, the human input into the development of course of action “selection/analysis” must be increasingly reduced, and replaced with automated predictive analytical models that draw extensively on social media data.

This can even be used to inform soldiers of real-time threats using augmented reality during operations. The document refers to “Social Media Fusion to alert tactical edge Soldiers” and “Person of Interest recognition and associated relations.”

The idea is to identify potential targets — ‘persons of interest’ — and their networks, in real-time, using social media data as ‘intelligence.’

Meaningful human control without humans

Both the US and British governments are therefore rapidly attempting to redefine “human control” and “human intent” in the context of autonomous systems.

Among the problems that emerged at the UN meetings in April is the tendency to dilute the parameters that would allow describing an autonomous weapon system as being tied to “meaningful” human control.

A separate Pentagon document dated March 2016 — a set of presentation slides for that month’s IEEE Conference on Cognitive Methods in Situation Awareness & Decision Support — insists that DoD policy is to ensure that autonomous systems ultimately operate under human supervision:

“[The] main benefits of autonomous capabilities are to extend and complement human performance, not necessarily provide a direct replacement of humans.”

Unfortunately, there is a ‘but’.

The March document, Autonomous Horizons: System Autonomy in the Air Force, was authored by Dr. Greg Zacharias, Chief Scientist of the US Air Force. The IEEE conference where it was presented was sponsored by two leading government defense contractors, Lockheed Martin and United Technologies Corporation, among other patrons.

Further passages of the document are revealing:

“Autonomous decisions can lead to high-regret actions, especially in uncertain environments.”

In particular, the document observes:

“Some DoD activity, such as force application, will occur in complex, unpredictable, and contested environments. Risk is high.”

The solution, supposedly, is to design machines that basically think, learn and problem solve like humans. An autonomous AI system should “be congruent with the way humans parse the problem” and driven by “aiding/automation knowledge management processes along lines of the way humans solve problem [sic].”

A section titled ‘AFRL [Air Force Research Laboratory] Roadmap for Autonomy’ thus demonstrates how by 2020, the US Air Force envisages “Machine-Assisted Ops compressing the kill chain.” The bottom of the slide reads:

“Decisions at the Speed of Computing.”

This two-staged “kill chain” is broken down as follows: firstly, “Defensive system mgr [manager] IDs threats & recommends actions”; secondly, “Intelligence analytic system fuses INT [intelligence] data & cues analyst of threats.”

In this structure, a lethal autonomous weapon system draws on intelligence data to identify a threat, which an analyst simply “IDs”, before recommending “action.”

The analyst’s role here is simply to authorize the kill, but in reality the essential importance of human control — assessment of the integrity of the kill decision — has been relegated to the end of an entirely automated analytical process, as a mere perfunctionary obligation.

By 2030, the document sees human involvement in this process as being reduced even further to an absolute minimum. While a human operator may be kept “in the loop” (in the document’s words) the Pentagon looks forward to a fully autonomous system consisting of:

“Optimized platform operations delivering integrated ISR [intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance] and weapon effects.”

The goal, in other words, is a single integrated lethal autonomous weapon system combining full spectrum analysis of all data sources with “weapon effects” — that is, target selection and execution.

The document goes to pains to layer this vision with a sense of human oversight being ever-present.

AI “system self-awareness”

Yet an even more blunt assertion of the Pentagon’s objective is laid out in a third document, a set of slides titled DoD Autonomy Roadmap presented exactly a year earlier at the NDIA’s Defense Tech Expo.

The document authored by Dr. Jon Bornstein, who leads the DoD’s Autonomy Community of Interest (ACOI), begins by framing its contents with the caveat: “Neither Warfighter nor machine is truly autonomous.”

Yet it goes on to call for machine agents to develop:

“Perception, reasoning, and intelligence allow[ing] for entities to have existence, intent, relationships, and understanding in the battle space relative to a mission.”

This will be the foundation for two types of weapon systems: “Human/ Autonomous System Interaction and Collaboration (HASIC)” and “Scalable Teaming of Autonomous Systems (STAS).”

In the near term, machine agents will be able “to evolve behaviors over time based on a complex and ever-changing knowledge base of the battle space… in the context of mission, background knowledge, intent, and sensor information.”

However, it is the Pentagon’s “far term” vision for machine agents as “self-aware” systems that is particularly disturbing:

“Far Term:

•Ontologies adjusted through common-sense knowledge via intuition.

•Learning approaches based on self-exploration and social interactions.

•Shared cognition

•Behavioral stability through self-modification.

•System self-awareness”

It is in this context of the “self-awareness” of an autonomous weapon system that the document clarifies the need for the system to autonomously develop forward decisions for action, namely:

“Autonomous systems that appropriately use internal model-based/deliberative planning approaches and sensing/perception driven actions/control.”

The Pentagon specifically hopes to create what it calls “trusted autonomous systems”, that is, machine agents whose behavior and reasoning can be fully understood, and therefore “trusted” by humans:

“Collaboration means there must be an understanding of and confidence in behaviors and decision making across a range of conditions. Agent transparency enables the human to understand what the agent is doing and why.”

Once again, this is to facilitate a process by which humans are increasingly removed from the nitty gritty of operations.

In the “Mid Term”, there will be “Improved methods for sharing of authority” between humans and machines. In the “Far Term”, this will have evolved to a machine system functioning autonomously on the basis of “Awareness of ‘commanders intent’” and the “use of indirect feedback mechanisms.”

This will finally create the capacity to deploy “Scalable Teaming of Autonomous Systems (STAS)”, free of overt human direction, in which multiple machine agents display “shared perception, intent and execution.”

Teams of autonomous weapon systems will display “Robust self-organization, adaptation, and collaboration”; “Dynamic adaption, ability to self-organize and dynamically restructure”; and “Agent-to-agent collaboration.”

Notice the lack of human collaboration.

The “far term” vision for such “self-aware” autonomous weapon systems is not, as Robert Work claimed, limited to cyber or electronic warfare, but will include:

“Ground Convoys/Air-ground operations”; “Ballistic rate multi-agent operation”; “Smart munitions.”

These operations might even take place in tight urban environments — “in close proximity to other manned & unmanned systems including crowded military & civilian areas.”

The document admits, though, that the Pentagon’s major challenge is to mitigate against unpredictable environments and emergent behavior.

Autonomous systems are “difficult to assure correct behavior in a countless number of environmental conditions” and are “difficult to sufficiently capture and understand all intended and unintended consequences.”

Terminator teams, led by humans

The Autonomy roadmap document clearly confirms that the Pentagon’s final objective is to delegate the bulk of military operations to autonomous machines, capable of inflicting “Collective Defeat of Hard and Deeply Buried Targets.”

One type of machine agent is the “Autonomous Squad Member (Army)”, which “Integrates machine semantic understanding, reasoning, and perception into a ground robotic system”, and displays:

“Early implementation of a goal reasoning model, Goal-Directed Autonomy (GDA) to provide the robot the ability to self-select new goals when it encounters an unanticipated situation.”

Human team members in the squad must be able “to understand an intelligent agent’s intent, performance, future plans and reasoning processes.”

Another type is described under the header, ‘Autonomy for Air Combat Missions Team (AF).’

Such an autonomous air team, the document envisages, “Develops goal-directed reasoning, machine learning and operator interaction techniques to enable management of multiple, team UAVs.” This will achieve:

“Autonomous decision and team learning enable the TBM [Tactical Battle Manager] to maximize team effectiveness and survivability.”

TBM refers directly to a battle management autonomy software for unmanned aircraft.

The Pentagon still, of course, wants to ensure that there remains a human manual override, which the document describes as enabling a human supervisor “to ‘call a play’ or manually control the system.”

Targeting evil antiwar bloggers

Yet the biggest challenge, nowhere acknowledged in any of the documents, is ensuring that automated AI target selection actually selects real threats, rather than generating or pursuing false positives.

According to the Human Systems roadmap document, the Pentagon has already demonstrated extensive AI analytical capabilities in real-time social media analysis, through a NATO live exercise last year.

During the exercise, Trident Juncture — NATO’s largest exercise in a decade — US military personnel “curated over 2M [million] relevant tweets, including information attacks (trolling) and other conflicts in the information space, including 6 months of baseline analysis.” They also “curated and analyzed over 20K [i.e. 20,000] tweets and 700 Instagrams during the exercise.”

The Pentagon document thus emphasizes that the US Army and Navy can now already “provide real-time situation awareness and automated analytics of social media sources with low manning, at affordable cost”, so that military leaders can “rapidly see whole patterns of data flow and critical pieces of data” and therefore “discern actionable information readily.”

The primary contributor to the Trident Juncture social media analysis for NATO, which occurred over two weeks from late October to early November 2015, was a team led by information scientist Professor Nitin Agarwal of the University of Arkansas, Little Rock.

Agarwal’s project was funded by the US Office of Naval Research, Air Force Research Laboratory and Army Research Office, and conducted in collaboration with NATO’s Allied Joint Force Command and NATO Strategic Communications Center of Excellence.

Slides from a conference presentation about the research show that the NATO-backed project attempted to identify a hostile blog network during the exercise containing “anti-NATO and anti-US propaganda.”

Among the top seven blogs identified as key nodes for anti-NATO internet traffic were websites run by Andreas Speck, an antiwar activist; War Resisters International (WRI); and Egyptian democracy campaigner Maikel Nabil Sanad — along with some Spanish language anti-militarism sites.

Andreas Speck is a former staffer at WRI, which is an international network of pacifist NGOs with offices and members in the UK, Western Europe and the US. One of its funders is the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust.

The WRI is fundamentally committed to nonviolence, and campaigns against war and militarism in all forms.

Most of the blogs identified by Agarwal’s NATO project are affiliated to the WRI, including for instance nomilservice.com, WRI’s Egyptian affiliate founded by Maikel Nabil, which campaigns against compulsory military service in Egypt. Nabil was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize and even supported by the White House for his conscientious objection to Egyptian military atrocities.

The NATO project urges:

“These 7 blogs need to be further monitored.”

The project was touted by Agarwal as a great success: it managed to extract 635 identity markers through metadata from the blog network, including 65 email addresses, 3 “persons”, and 67 phone numbers.

This is the same sort of metadata that is routinely used to help identify human targets for drone strikes — the vast majority of whom are not terrorists, but civilians.

Agarwal’s conference slides list three Pentagon-funded tools that his team created for this sort of social media analysis: Blogtracker, Scraawl, and Focal Structures Analysis.

Flagging up an Egyptian democracy activist like Maikel Nabil as a hostile entity promoting anti-NATO and anti-US propaganda demonstrates that when such automated AI tools are applied to war theatres in complex environments (think Pakistan, Afghanistan and Yemen), the potential to identify individuals or groups critical of US policy as terrorism threats is all too real.

This case demonstrates how deeply flawed the Pentagon’s automation ambitions really are. Even with the final input of independent human expert analysts, entirely peaceful pro-democracy campaigners who oppose war are relegated by NATO to the status of potential national security threats requiring further surveillance.

Compressing the kill chain

It’s often assumed that DoD Directive 3000.09 issued in 2012, ‘Autonomy in Weapon Systems’, limits kill decisions to human operators under the following stipulation in clause 4:

“Autonomous and semi-autonomous weapon systems shall be designed to allow commanders and operators to exercise appropriate levels of human judgment over the use of force.”

After several paragraphs underscoring the necessity of target selection and execution being undertaken under the oversight of a human operator, the Directive goes on to open up the possibility of developing autonomous weapon systems without any human oversight, albeit with the specific approval of senior Pentagon officials:

“Autonomous weapon systems may be used to apply non-lethal, non-kinetic force, such as some forms of electronic attack, against materiel targets… Autonomous or semi-autonomous weapon systems intended to be used in a manner that falls outside the policies in subparagraphs 4.c.(1) through 4.c.(3) must be approved by the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy (USD(P)); the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics (USD(AT&L)); and the CJCS before formal development and again before fielding.”

Rather than prohibiting the development of lethal autonomous weapon systems, the directive simply consolidates all such developments under the explicit authorization of the Pentagon’s top technology chiefs.

Worse, the directive expires on 21st November 2022 — which is around the time such technology is expected to become operational.

Indeed, later that year, Lieutenant Colonel Jeffrey S. Thurnher, a US Army lawyer at the US Naval War College’s International Law Department, published a position paper in the National Defense University publication, Joint Force Quarterly.

If these puppies became self-aware, would they be cuter?

He recommended that there were no substantive legal or ethical obstacles to developing fully autonomous killer robots — as long as such systems are designed in such a way as to maintain a semblance of human oversight through “appropriate control measures.”

In the conclusions to his paper, titled No One At The Controls: Legal Implications of Fully Autonomous Targeting, Thurnher wrote:

“LARs [lethal autonomous robots] have the unique potential to operate at a tempo faster than humans can possibly achieve and to lethally strike even when communications links have been severed. Autonomous targeting technology will likely proliferate to nations and groups around the world. To prevent being surpassed by rivals, the United States should fully commit itself to harnessing the potential of fully autonomous targeting. The feared legal concerns do not appear to be an impediment to the development or deployment of LARs. Thus, operational commanders should take the lead in making this emerging technology a true force multiplier for the joint force.”

Lt. Col. Thurnher went on to become a Legal Advisor for NATO Rapid Deployable Corps in Munster, Germany. In this capacity, he was a contributor to a little-known 2014 official policy guidance document for NATO Allied Command Transformation, Autonomy in Defence Systems.

The NATO document, which aims to provide expert legal advice to government policymakers, sets out a position in which the deployment of autonomous weapon systems for lethal combat — in particular the delegation of targeting and kill decisions to machine agents — is viewed as being perfectly legitimate in principle.

It is the responsibility of specific states, the document concludes, to ensure that autonomous systems operate in compliance with international law in practice — a caveat that also applies for the use of autonomous systems for law-enforcement and self-defence.

In the future, though, the NATO document points to the development of autonomous systems that can “reliably determine when foreseen but unintentional harm to civilians is ethically permissible.”

Acknowledging that currently only humans are able to make a “judgement about the ethical permissibility of foreseen but unintentional harm to civilians (collateral damage)”, the NATO policy document urges states developing autonomous weapon systems to ensure that eventually they “are able to integrate with collateral damage estimation methodologies” so as to delegate targeting and kill decisions accordingly.

The NATO position is particularly extraordinary given that international law — such as the Geneva Conventions — defines foreseen deaths of civilians caused by a military action as intentional, precisely because they were foreseen yet actioned anyway.

The Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) identifies such actions as “war crimes”, if a justifiable and direct military advantage cannot be demonstrated:

“… making the civilian population or individual civilians, not taking a direct part in hostilities, the object of attack; launching an attack in the knowledge that such attack will cause incidental loss of civilian life, injury to civilians or damage to civilian objects which would be clearly excessive in relation to the concrete and direct military advantage anticipated;… making civilian objects, that is, objects that are not military objectives, the object of attack.”

And customary international law recognizes the following acts as war crimes:

“… launching an indiscriminate attack resulting in loss of life or injury to civilians or damage to civilian objects; launching an attack against works or installations containing dangerous forces in the knowledge that such attack will cause excessive incidental loss of civilian life, injury to civilians or damage to civilian objects.”

In other words, NATO’s official policy guidance on autonomous weapon systems sanitizes the potential for automated war crimes. The document actually encourages states to eventually develop autonomous weapons capable of inflicting “foreseen but unintentional” harm to civilians in the name of securing a ‘legitimate’ military advantage.

Yet the NATO document does not stop there. It even goes so far as to argue that policymakers considering the development of autonomous weapon systems for lethal combat should reflect on the possibility that delegating target and kill decisions to machine agents would minimize civilian casualties.

Skynet, anyone?

A new report by Paul Scharre, who led the Pentagon working group that drafted DoD Directive 3000.09 and now heads up the future warfare program at the Center for New American Security in Washington DC, does not mince words about the potentially “catastrophic” risks of relying on autonomous weapon systems.

“With an autonomous weapon,” he writes, “the damage potential before a human controller is able to intervene could be far greater…

“In the most extreme case, an autonomous weapon could continue engaging inappropriate targets until it exhausts its magazine, potentially over a wide area. If the failure mode is replicated in other autonomous weapons of the same type, a military could face the disturbing prospect of large numbers of autonomous weapons failing simultaneously, with potentially catastrophic consequences.”

Scharre points out that “autonomous weapons pose a novel risk of mass fratricide, with large numbers of weapons turning on friendly forces,” due to any number of potential reasons, including “hacking, enemy behavioral manipulation, unexpected interactions with the environment, or simple malfunctions or software errors.”

Noting that in the software industry, for every 1,000 lines of code, there are between 15 and 50 errors, Scharre points out that such marginal, routine errors could easily accumulate to create unexpected results that could be missed even by the most stringent testing and validation methods.

The more complex the system, the more difficult it will be to verify and track the system’s behavior under all possible conditions: “… the number of potential interactions within the system and with its environment is simply too large.”

The documents discussed here show that the Pentagon is going to pains to develop ways to mitigate these risks.

But as Scharre concludes, “these risks cannot be eliminated entirely. Complex tightly coupled systems are inherently vulnerable to ‘normal accidents.’ The risk of accidents can be reduced, but never can be entirely eliminated.”

As the trajectory toward AI autonomy and complexity accelerates, so does the risk that autonomous weapon systems will, eventually, wreak havoc.

Dr Nafeez Ahmed is an investigative journalist, bestselling author and international security scholar. A former Guardian writer, he writes the ‘System Shift’ column for VICE’s Motherboard, and is a weekly columnist for Middle East Eye.

He is the winner of a 2015 Project Censored Award for Outstanding Investigative Journalism for his Guardian work, and was twice selected in the Evening Standard’s top 1,000 most globally influential Londoners, in 2014 and 2015.

Nafeez has also written and reported for The Independent, Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, The Scotsman, Foreign Policy, The Atlantic, Quartz, Prospect, New Statesman, Le Monde diplomatique, New Internationalist, The Ecologist, Alternet, Counterpunch, Truthout, among others.

He is a Visiting Research Fellow at the Faculty of Science and Technology at Anglia Ruskin University, where he is researching the link between global systemic crises and civil unrest for Springer Energy Briefs.

Nafeez is the author of A User’s Guide to the Crisis of Civilization: And How to Save It (2010), and the scifi thriller novel ZERO POINT, among other books. His work on the root causes and covert operations linked to international terrorism officially contributed to the 9/11 Commission and the 7/7 Coroner’s Inquest.


This story is being released for free in the public interest, and was enabled by crowdfunding. I’d like to thank my amazing community of patrons for their support, which gave me the opportunity to work on this story. Please support independent, investigative journalism for the global commons via Patreon.com, where you can donate as much or as little as you like.

 

The Pentagon is building a ‘self-aware’ killer robot army fueled by social media — INSURGE intelligence — Medium.

Transforming Our Communities Ourselves With Technology

microfactoryBy Brian Berletic

Many people may mistakenly believe that the future is something that others, like big companies or governments usher in and that they themselves play either a minor active role, or one that is entirely passive. In reality, there are already groups of regular people just like you or me around the world literally building the future of their communities themselves with their own two hands and in collaboration with their friends, family, neighbors, and through the power of the Internet, with like-minded individuals around the world.

Above image: Instead of some planned community built by government or developers, we can add a layer of opensource technology over our existing communities, on our rooftops, in our offices, and at existing public spaces or markets. In addition to this added layer of physical technology, a little change in our mindset will go a long way in transforming our communities.

Because of the exponential progress of technology, the impact of small, organized projects is increasing as well. Think about 3D printing and how for many years it remained firmly in the realm of large businesses for use in prototyping. It was only when small groups of enthusiastic hobbyists around the world began working on cheaper and more accessible versions of these machines that they ended up on the desktops of regular people around the world, changing the way we look at manufacturing.

Similar advances in energy production, biotechnology, agriculture, IT, and manufacturing technology are likewise empowering people on a very distributed and local level.

What we see emerging is a collection of local “institutions” giving people direct access to the means to change their communities for the better, bypassing more abstract and less efficient means of effecting change like voting or protesting.

Political processes, however, will become more relevant and practical when people actually have resources and direct hands-on experience in the matters of running their communities. Demanding more of those that represent you will have more meaning when those demands are coupled with practical solutions and enumerated plans of action.

asset3D printing has come a long way since the first RepRap desktop printers and their derivatives which includes MakerBot’s first designs. 3D printing has gone from an obscure obsession among hobbyists to a mainstream phenomenon that is transforming the way we look at manufacturing. 

Let’s explore these “institutions” and see what is possible, what is already being done, and how you can get involved today in physically shaping your community’s future starting today.

Makerspaces

A makerspace is exactly what it sounds like: a space where you make things. However, it is often associated with computer controlled personal manufacturing technology like 3D printers, CNC mills, and laser and/or waterjet cutters. There is also a significant amount of electronic prototyping equipment on hand including opensource development boards like the Arduino, which allows virtually anyone to control physical objects in the real world.

OMG_SGA well-equipped makerspace in Singapore. 

Makerspaces also generally include a small core team with skills ranging from design and engineering to software development. These teams usually are eager to bring in new people and introduce them to the tools, techniques, and technology they are so passionate about.

Makerspaces already exist around the world and it is very likely that no matter where you live, you have one relatively nearby. Makerspaces hold workshops for both absolute beginners and experienced tech enthusiasts.

11831662_10153498305854054_7334928807928857564_nMakerspaces hold frequent workshops to share their knowledge and enthusiasm with others, often absolute beginners. There is a good chance your local makerspace has workshops available. Some are even free.

You can prototype virtually anything in a makerspace, making it the perfect place to go when you have a problem and want to develop a practical, tangible solution to solve it. Everything from an opensource solar charger to a new kind of 3D printer could be (and has been) made at a makerspace, making it the perfect nexus for our local community and the variety of other local institutions that may crop up there.

Local Agriculture

A combination of rediscovered traditional practices combined with modern technology makes local food production both practical and profitable. Community gardens are not uncommon, and there is a growing interest around the world, particularly in urban areas to utilize the sun-soaked rooftops to grow food with which to consume or distribute to local restaurants and markets.

6512514787_19c44032c3_bUS-based Growing Power proves what communities can accomplish by working together. They have proven that community urban agriculture can be both practical and profitable, with their project becoming not just a local business, but a resource for the community as well. 

The Comcrop project in Singapore provides a particularly impressive example, having been in operation for several years now, serving not only as a source of locally produced food for restaurants and grocery stores, but also as a community resources teaching all who are interested how to raise crops in a dense urban environment like that found in Singapore.

1533928_389833864495338_1822153760_nSingapore’s Comcrop project has proven that even in the densest of urban environments, agriculture can be carried out by communities for profit, fun, and education. Collaboration with local makerspaces could further enhance their operation’s efficiency.  

Another impressive example of local agriculture is US-based Growing Power where greenhouses, vermiculture, and aquaponics are all combined to generate an immense amount of food feeding into a local distribution network the project has diligently developed over the years.

Local food production and distribution is steadily expanding around the world as the concept of farmers’ markets spread and entire communities of both producers and consumers connect in a much more relevant, transparent, and beneficial manner than possible under the existing mass consumerist paradigm of big-ag and big-box stores.

Applying the resources found at a makerspace to local agriculture gives us the ability to take organic agriculture and increase its efficiency through automation. That’s the idea behind ProgressTH’s own automated agriculture project, and others like it. There is no reason why local communities cannot have locally produced organic food, and utilize technology to bring efficiency on par with that claimed by large-scale operations.

Power Production

Modern civilization does not function without electrical power, something we are reminded of every time the power goes out during a storm. Currently, most of the world’s power still comes from centralized national grids and large power plants.

3017799-poster-solarcityDropping prices and increasing capabilities is making solar power an attractive means to help decentralize and localize power production. 

However, the march forward of technology is finally making the means of producing power locally more accessible to more people around the world. An extreme example of a localized, distributed power grid can be found in the remote hills of Thailand’s Phetchaburi province where the national power grid never quite made it. A local team created a tech-center of sorts where villagers were trained in the designing and installation of solar power systems, bringing the village light and power for irrigation house-by-house. The villagers have created a sort of collaborative network where everyone helps out when expanding the network’s capabilities.

12376007_1741837166035713_3364478883118053319_nThe Pedang Project in Phetchaburi, Thailand has literally brought power to a tiny remote village isolated from the national power grid.  Now it is taking its experience and sharing it with others around the country to replicate their success.

This network also trains people from all over the country to replicate their success elsewhere, even in areas where the national grid does reach, but where independence in power production is still sought.

This includes a school halfway across the country that is entirely solar powered which has incorporated alternative energy in the curriculum giving students practical experience and skills to use once they graduate.

3609A5FD89134C30889AEFF923B80445A school in Thailand’s northeast has also become a center for alternative energy and organic agriculture, all of which is combined with more traditional curriculum. Students grow their own food and help maintain the solar power system that powers the school during studying hours. 

Imagine every community, rural or urban, developing their own alternative power solutions themselves, managing both the physical infrastructure and the knowledge required to maintain it. It doesn’t necessarily need to replace current power production, but it could augment it until technology makes it possible for complete, localized and distributed power production.

Healthcare + DIYbio

Makerspaces are already collaborating with hospitals and healthcare professionals around the world to speed up the process of developing solutions to everyday problems, or lower the costs of existing solutions that remain out of reach for many patients.

makerhealth-space-utmbThis healthcare professional is working on a prototype in a makerspace placed literally within the hospital he works at.

MIT’s MakerNurse program is one example of this. Bangkok-based QSNICH (Queen Sirikit National Institute of Child Health) is another example. Decentralizing and opening up the development of biomedical technology is key to lowering its prices. While subsidizing healthcare now is necessary to ensure people who cannot afford treatment can still get it, in the future, healthcare will be so cheap such subsidies will have less impact on the quantity and quality of care.

Biomedical technology, the hardware you see in hospitals is one thing, the actual pharmaceuticals and therapies administered to patients is another. DIYbio (do-it-yourself biology) is a growing community much like the maker movement that seeks to open up biotechnology to a wider audience by lowering the cost of equipment and opening up knowledge by making their work collaborative, transparent and, most importantly, opensource.

CAM046523D-printed prototypes developed for healthcare professionals at a Bangkok-based children’s hospital by ProgressTH’s in-house makerspace. 

And, believe it or not, cutting-edge technology like gene therapy which has actually already cured cancer in terminal leukemia patients and shown promise in clinical trials for everything from heart disease to blindness and deafness is being approached by the DIYbio community. For now, it borders between something like a community lab and a small start-up company, as is the case with Bioviva or Andrew Hessel’s Pink Army Cooperative. In the future, we can see current collaborations between makerspaces and healthcare professionals extending and evolving between biotech researchers and local community labs.

5633564fc361888e528b460eLiz Parrish of Bioviva is blurring the lines between traditional R&D and accelerated and smaller-scale progress in developing therapies for patients. 

Again, the makerspace allows for the prototyping and development of much of the opensource biotech equipment already being produced and making headlines around the world.

Microfactories

Microfactories are localized manufacturing facilities that specialize in small-run production. Say that you create a brilliant prototype at your local makerspace, but need to make only 100-200 of them at a time. Traditional factories because of current economies of scale usually will not help you, at least not for a reasonable price. Microfactories can fill the void between makerspace prototypes and mass production.

08_firstbuild-hackathon-28Microfactories already exist, but require large capital investments for the amount of machinery required to efficiently carry out small-run production. Advances in personal manufacturing will continue to lower these barriers, and many makerspaces around the world are already working to bridge the gap between prototyping and small-run production.

In the future, microfactories may evolve into an entire network of distributed manufacturing making mass production obsolete. This is, again, dependent on the progress of manufacturing technology. When computer-controlled manufacturing processes like CNC mills and 3D printers can handle more materials, faster, and more efficiently, small-run production will become more and more practical.

And already, microfactories are going from concepts to actual physical locations as is the case with the GE-backed FirstBuild microfactory in the US. In Thailand, electronics company Gravitech has created a production facility just north of Bangkok making Arduino-compatible boards for the local market cheaper and of better quality than could be imported.

aCAM04834An Arduino-compatible board made in Thailand for the Thai market beats out Chinese-made boards both in quality and even price. This is part of a trend toward the gradual reduction of manufacturing “hubs” and lead toward a more distributed and local means of manufacturing.

This is just the leading edge of a shifting paradigm toward fully distributed manufacturing. Again, makerspaces will play a crucial role, providing educational and training resources for the local community to learn how to design and develop ideas into prototypes and then pass them on to local microfactories for production and distribution.

microfactory-typeLocal Motors is pioneering the concept of distributed car manufacturing. Microfactories in the future may make everything from handheld devices to something as big as a car, on demand or in small runs that will challenge or entirely shift our current globalized manufacturing paradigm. 

Just how far could this go? Looking at US-based Local Motors, who is attempting to create (which much success) a distributed auto-manufacturing network, it can probably end up encompassing nearly everything we use on a daily basis short of aerospace and architecture. With 3D-printed buildings cropping up around the world, each community might have their own cooperative-owned system for that as well.

Other Possibilities

Maybe now you can see how communities possessing these key institutions could begin to tackle their problems head on, practically, with tangible solutions instead of waiting for others, far away, to address them for them. By doing so, people will become more directly involved in their own destiny, possessing both skills and experience in running and improving their communities, giving them better insight and discretion when engaging in political processes beyond their community.

And because of the talent that is attracted to and produced within makerspaces, the means of creating, for example, parallel mesh communication networks or water production and distribution systems, could exist as well. Virtually everything in one’s community could end up a product of local talent, entrepreneurial vision, and innovation.

But it is important to remind potential critics that this is not a process toward tens of thousands of isolated communities scattered across the planet. Like makerspaces today, while each one possesses its own tools and talent, they are all connected and collaborating together with other spaces around the world taking and adapting great ideas when needed, while sharing their own success with others through an opensource culture.

The distributed nature of these economic, manufacturing, healthcare, agricultural, and infrastructure networks also means more resilience, especially because they are collaborative on a much larger scale. There is no single power plant or agricultural region to “wipe out” to plunge a huge population dependent on either into crisis. Disasters and crises can be absorbed and compensated for by neighboring communities unaffected. The loss of power in one community will not affect another if both are self-sufficient in power production. However, temporary assistance would be possible for one community to lend another.

“Standards,” if you will, would still exist, honed not through legality and policy, but through actual performance data, user feedback, and reputation. And because this process by its very nature is a flexible one, unforeseen opportunities and threats could be capitalized on or met as needed.

How Can You Get Involved Today?

Yes, you can get involved today! All you have to do is find your closest makerspace (or here) and drop by to check it out. You can also begin teaching yourself by taking advantage of the huge amount of fully free resources online covering everything from the basics of 3D printing, to opensource electronics, to local organic agriculture, to DIYbio. Let your favorite Internet search engine be your guide and find the resources you find most useful to your own style of learning. On YouTube alone, by simply typing any area of interest in, you can usually find dozens of tutorials and presentations.

uB8qp72A makerspace in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Just a few years ago, there were no makerspaces at all in Thailand, now there are clubs and spaces from north to south and a growing community connected through collaboration and enthusiasm about the power of hands-on innovations and solutions.

Get your friends involved; and if none are interested, it is easy to make new friends who are interested in this shifting paradigm, since “collaboration” is in fact at the very heart of it. If you are in Bangkok, feel free to contact us for workshops that ProgressTH and its many friends have on offer, some of which are even free.

The most important thing to remember is, no matter how small your progress is day to day, it will all add up in a year’s time to something that will surely surprise you. The only sure way to fail is by doing nothing — after all, zero times all the days in the year still only equals zero. You do not need to be a trained engineer or professional designer, biologist, or experienced farmer to begin building up your local community. Many of the most prominent names contributing to this current paradigm are college dropouts, or entirely self-taught. You will surely run into professionals, however, and you will learn a lot from them.

It is a truly exciting journey, and one that will have direct benefit to both yourself and your community. You can do it part-time in addition to your existing job. And many have ended up making a living full-time by contributing. We have, and will continue covering this unfolding movement, and we would love to cover your contributions… so start contributing!

Brian Berletic writes for Progress Thailand. Follow ProgressTH.org on Facebook here or on Twitter here.

Transforming Our Communities Ourselves With Technology.

9 Ways to Stop Cooperating with the Ruling Elite’s Control System

 

trueworldorder

Done sneakily, or under the illusion of democracy, in recent times more oppressive laws have been made than ever before. Between us being subjected to more and more ordinances, rules, restrictions and outright laws then demonizing our dissension and opinion  should we object… It’s as if we can’t do anything right.

How long will it take for the masses to wake up to these grossly restricting laws and realize how un-free they are?  The masses’ unchallenging complacency with these laws has been made that much easier through social conditioning engineered over the years by the ruling elite.

In this charade, the power-mad egomaniac manipulating controlling parasitical ruling elite impose themselves on almost everything for their ulterior motives: ownership, power, profit and political gain – and that’s it. It’s that straightforward. It’s that pathetic.

These forever-increasing control mechanisms: regulations, rules, absurd mandates, threats of fines, intimidation, extreme petty police reprisals and imprisonment … are designed to sap the life-force from us while denying our true self-expression as we’re expected to bow down in acquiescence. It’s all designed to erode humanity into a subservient entity.

How do we break this manipulation?

The road to achieving this involves refusing to cooperate with the ruling elite’s control system.

By refusing to cooperate we go into a different agreement which will manifest a different reality to the otherwise planned doom and gloom. So here are 9 ways to stop cooperating with the ruling elite’s control system.

1. Question everything

Remember, accepting the narrative given to you by the authorities and the general consensus of the masses without your questioning means going into agreement with a fake reality, thus having a disempowering relationship with the unreal.

Question the motives behind the mainstream media, the lawmakers, the politicians or corporations pushing their encroaching agendas. Question the education system. Question military actions. Question yourself over the job you’re in and do you really want to do it … etc.

In other words question anyone and anything you hit upon contrary to your findings, or contrary to that which goes against your freedom.

When living life as an inquiry, challenging the official narrative, you can then act on your findings by spreading the word. Live your truth. Walk your walk and talk your talk.

2. Disengage from the imposing controlling matrix

Enough is enough. Break those imprisoning mental, physical and spiritual chains foisted on you by the ruling elite and their associates.  Don’t fall for their fear-mongering as you rebel. Fear is all part of the controlling matrix illusion. See it for what it really is.

The more you disengage the more confidence gained in your stand for non-cooperation.

Break your agreements: If you’re unwillingly serving the ruling elite’s disempowering, destructive control system, then walk away.

Healthcare workers, if you don’t like being involved in a system that seriously injures or kills numerous patients with medicines supported by a medical/pharmaceutical establishment that puts profits over genuine welfare concern then walk away.

Police, if you’re involved in policing unjust oppressive laws then walk away…

Soldiers, if you’ve worked out the war deception with all its illegal, immoral, indiscriminate activity then do what your heart tells you. Lay down your weapons and walk away…

How are the ruling elite and their associates going to deal with us if we demonstrate our non-cooperation in high numbers?

3. Disengage from distraction

In our socially engineered society we have been manipulated to get caught up in distraction. Mindless entertainment, overly competitive sports … Then there are those economic, political, intellectual, religious, cultural and societal differences, race issues, etc. serving as nothing more than distraction with more than their fair share of never-ending dialectic conflict. It’s all designed to stop us from seeing the big picture and rising up.

It becomes a lot easier to disengage from the distraction when seeing the big picture. That it’s nothing more than a carefully cultivated control system…

The next 2 ways are indeed major examples of distraction. See them for what they really are. Then ‘throw down the ball,’ refuse to play these pointless, going nowhere, energy-sapping games, and move on:

4. Don’t vote for any of the major political parties

By voting for one of these parties you’re only giving your power away to help the ruling criminals’ further advance their NWO agenda. Stop believing the Republican-Democrat paradigm; or, if you’re in the UK, the Lib-Lab-Con sock puppet campaign shows backed and financed by T.H.E.Y (The Hierarchy Enslaving You).

It doesn’t matter who gets voted in. They’re all funded and backed by the ruling elite. So whoever wins, the politicians who get in office will only be there to serve their lords and masters the ruling elite instead of the wishes of we-the-people.

Yes, there are a growing number of people who know this, but many still don’t fully understand. Any advantages of selecting one party over the other because of, say, a policy in your favor or to your advantage will only be a short-term payoff. In the end, if you vote for one of the major parties because of this then you’ll only have to suffer the far greater long-term cost for having chosen the party with their connections to the ruling elite’s agenda.

5. Stop giving your attention to corporate-sponsored mainstream media news

Switch off the TV (Tel-Lie-Vision). Turn to alternative/independent media sources instead for the truth. Learn to discern the differences between disinformation and the truth on the Internet.

6. Refuse to join the military

Don’t become a sucker for the ruling elite’s war machine, secretly manufactured to line the pockets and favor the directions of bankers, corporations and politicians, while serving as a planned de-population agenda…

cache_38434361.jpgNo matter which side or viewpoint you take no one ever wins; and, just like choosing a major political party, nothing ever changes. Understand the related big picture and then spread the word to others so that they too will see the deception and refuse to join.

7. Refuse vaccinations

With the current push for mandatory vaccinations refusal has never been so important. They cannot deal with us if we refuse in overwhelming numbers. Vaccines are NOT safe and have been known to be ineffective. You could end up seriously ill, brain-damaged or even dead from these fraudulent big pharma money spinners to which the revenue-raking government and their paid-off media is only too happy to support through disinformation and lies…

8. Stop buying junk food and say no to GMO

Don’t let any greed-driven corporation deceive you with their deceptive marketing. Avoid junk food with its high sugar, salt and cheap/nasty trans-fats … for disease protection. Chemical-laden, processed, irradiated or GMO foods should be avoided.

Don’t buy a microwave oven. Avoid cooking with microwave or non-stick coated or aluminum utensils which in effect turns the food into junk food that could lead to health problems through toxic contaminants.

Don’t cook food using high temperatures for too long. Extreme temperatures cause the nutrition value (vitamins and enzymes in particular) to denature and greatly reduce the food value.

Junk foods and GMOs are all part of the ruling elite’s destructive hidden agenda.

cache_38443308.jpg9. Stop consuming

As a consumer, ask yourself do you really need it? For instance, do you really need to become one of the ‘Planet of the Apps’ spending endless hours wasting time on health-threatening low-EMF WiFi, covert spying electronic applications?

Get into the habit of no longer consuming things you don’t really need.

As a consequence of 1-9

The system and its unconscious nature will break down.

Our non-cooperation will no longer give the ruling elite’s control system its power.  Non-cooperation will take us up and away from getting further dragged down towards the terminal precipice.

Non-cooperation is quite simply the key to our freedom.

By Paul A. Philips

Top Image Credit

 

 

Source : Activist Post.

The Ascendance of Sociopaths in U.S. Governance

Submitted by Doug Casey via InternationalMan.com,

An International Man lives and does business wherever he finds conditions most advantageous, regardless of arbitrary borders. He’s diversified globally, with passports from multiple countries, assets in several jurisdictions, and his residence in yet another. He doesn’t depend absolutely on any country and regards all of them as competitors for his capital and expertise.

Living as an international man has always been an interesting possibility. But few Americans opted for it, since the U.S. used to reward those who settled in and put down roots. In fact, it rewarded them better than any other country in the world, so there was no pressing reason to become an international man.

Things change, however, and being rooted like a plant – at least if you have a choice – is a suboptimal strategy if you wish to not only survive, but prosper. Throughout history, almost every place has at some point become dangerous for those who were stuck there. It may be America’s turn.

For those who can take up the life of an international man, it’s no longer just an interesting lifestyle decision. It has become, at a minimum, an asset saver, and it could be a lifesaver. That said, I understand the hesitation you may feel about taking action; pulling up one’s roots (or at least grafting some of them to a new location) can be almost as traumatic to a man as to a vegetable.

As any intelligent observer surveys the world’s economic and political landscape, he has to be disturbed – even dismayed and a bit frightened – by the gravity and number of problems that mark the horizon. We’re confronted by economic depression, looming financial chaos, serious currency inflation, onerous taxation, crippling regulation, a developing police state, and, worst of all, the prospect of a major war. It seems almost unbelievable that all these things could affect the U.S., which historically has been the land of the free.

How did we get here? An argument can be made that things went bad because of miscalculation, accident, inattention, and the like. Those elements have had a role, but it is minor. Potential catastrophe across the board can’t be the result of happenstance. When things go wrong on a grand scale, it’s not just bad luck or inadvertence. It’s because of serious character flaws in one or many – or even all – of the players.

So is there a root cause of all the problems I’ve cited? If we can find it, it may tell us how we personally can best respond to the problems.

In this article, I’m going to argue that the U.S. government, in particular, has been overrun by the wrong kind of person. It’s a trend that’s been in motion for many years but has now reached a point of no return. In other words, a type of moral rot has become so prevalent that it’s institutional in nature. There is not going to be, therefore, any serious change in the direction in which the U.S. is headed until a genuine crisis topples the existing order. Until then, the trend will accelerate.

The reason is that a certain class of people – sociopaths – are now fully in control of major American institutions. Their beliefs and attitudes are insinuated throughout the economic, political, intellectual, and psychological/spiritual fabric of the U.S.

What does this mean to you, as an individual? It depends on your character. Are you the kind of person who supports “my country, right or wrong,” as did most Germans in the 1930s and 1940s? Or the kind who dodges the duty to be a helpmate to murderers? The type of passenger who goes down with the ship? Or the type who puts on his vest and looks for a lifeboat? The type of individual who supports the merchants who offer the fairest deal? Or the type who is gulled by splashy TV commercials?

What the ascendancy of sociopaths means isn’t an academic question. Throughout history, the question has been a matter of life and death. That’s one reason America grew; every American (or any ex-colonial) has forebears who confronted the issue and decided to uproot themselves to go somewhere with better prospects. The losers were those who delayed thinking about the question until the last minute.

I have often described myself, and those I prefer to associate with, as gamma rats. You may recall the ethologist’s characterization of the social interaction of rats as being between a few alpha rats and many beta rats, the alpha rats being dominant and the beta rats submissive. In addition, a small percentage are gamma rats that stake out prime territory and mates, like the alphas, but are not interested in dominating the betas. The people most inclined to leave for the wide world outside and seek fortune elsewhere are typically gamma personalities.

You may be thinking that what happened in places like Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union, Mao’s China, Pol Pot’s Cambodia, and scores of other countries in recent history could not, for some reason, happen in the U.S.. Actually, there’s no reason it won’t at this point. All the institutions that made America exceptional – including a belief in capitalism, individualism, self-reliance, and the restraints of the Constitution – are now only historical artifacts.

On the other hand, the distribution of sociopaths is completely uniform across both space and time. Per capita, there were no more evil people in Stalin’s Russia, Hitler’s Germany, Mao’s China, Amin’s Uganda, Ceausescu’s Romania, or Pol Pot’s Cambodia than there are today in the U.S. All you need is favorable conditions for them to bloom, much as mushrooms do after a rainstorm.

Conditions for them in the U.S. are becoming quite favorable. Have you ever wondered where the 50,000 people employed by the TSA to inspect and degrade you came from? Most of them are middle-aged. Did they have jobs before they started doing something that any normal person would consider demeaning? Most did, but they were attracted to – not repelled by – a job where they wear a costume and abuse their fellow citizens all day.

Few of them can imagine that they’re shepherding in a police state as they play their roles in security theater. (A reinforced door on the pilots’ cabin is probably all that’s actually needed, although the most effective solution would be to hold each airline responsible for its own security and for the harm done if it fails to protect passengers and third parties.) But the 50,000 newly employed are exactly the same type of people who joined the Gestapo – eager to help in the project of controlling everyone. Nobody was drafted into the Gestapo.

What’s going on here is an instance of Pareto’s Law. That’s the 80-20 rule that tells us, for example, that 80% of your sales come from 20% of your salesmen or that 20% of the population are responsible for 80% of the crime.

As I see it, 80% of people are basically decent; their basic instincts are to live by the Boy Scout virtues. 20% of people, however, are what you might call potential trouble sources, inclined toward doing the wrong thing when the opportunity presents itself. They might now be shoe clerks, mailmen, or waitresses – they seem perfectly benign in normal times. They play baseball on weekends and pet the family dog. However, given the chance, they will sign up for the Gestapo, the Stasi, the KGB, the TSA, Homeland Security, or whatever. Many seem well intentioned, but are likely to favor force as the solution to any problem.

But it doesn’t end there, because 20% of that 20% are really bad actors. They are drawn to government and other positions where they can work their will on other people and, because they’re enthusiastic about government, they rise to leadership positions. They remake the culture of the organizations they run in their own image. Gradually, non-sociopaths can no longer stand being there. They leave. Soon the whole barrel is full of bad apples. That’s what’s happening today in the U.S.

It’s a pity that Bush, when he was in office, made such a big deal of evil. He discredited the concept. He made Boobus americanus think it only existed in a distant axis, in places like North Korea, Iraq and Iran, which were and still are irrelevant backwaters and arbitrarily chosen enemies. Bush trivialized the concept of evil and made it seem banal because he was such a fool. All the while, real evil, very immediate and powerful, was growing right around him, and he lacked the awareness to see he was fertilizing it by turning the U.S. into a national security state after 9/11.

Now, I believe, it’s out of control. The U.S. is already in a truly major depression and on the edge of financial chaos and a currency meltdown. The sociopaths in government will react by redoubling the pace toward a police state domestically and starting a major war abroad. To me, this is completely predictable. It’s what sociopaths do.

ZeroHedge Editor’s Note: A big part of any strategy to reduce your political risk is to place some of your savings outside the immediate reach of the thieving bureaucrats in your home country. Obtaining a foreign bank account is a convenient way to do just that.

That way, your savings cannot be easily confiscated, frozen, or devalued at the drop of a hat or with a couple of taps on the keyboard. In the event capital controls are imposed, a foreign bank account will help ensure that you have access to your money when you need it the most.

In short, your savings in a foreign bank will largely be safe from any madness in your home country.

Despite what you may hear, having a foreign bank account is completely legal and is not about tax evasion or other illegal activities. It’s simply about legally diversifying your political risk by putting your liquid savings in sound, well-capitalized institutions where they’re treated best.

We recently released a comprehensive free guide where we discuss our favorite foreign banks and jurisdictions, including, crucially, those that still accept Americans as clients and allow them to open accounts remotely for small minimums.

New York Times best-selling author Doug Casey and his team describe how you can do it all from home. And there’s still time to get it done without extraordinary cost or effort. Click here to download the PDF now.

Source : Zero Hedge.

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