Wednesday, December 2, 2009


"It also seems that the consensus about the safety of the LHC experiments is weakened by the fact that different theories regarding the nature of the universe and the particles that make it up lead to conflicting conclusions. If there are several different explanations for the same event, some of them must be inapplicable or wrong. This is especially important in the absence of empirical proofs. The end result is that physicists do not actually know whether one or another of the catastrophic possibilities will occur."
Will Physicists Destroy the World? The Large Hadron Collider and the Threats of Catastrophe, by Lloyd B. Lueptow

The above was taken from the weekly newsletter of the Skeptics Society. Dr. Lueptow is an emeritus professor of Sociology, at the University of Akron. He goes on to state that any uncertainty of the catastrophic outcome of running experiments with the Large Hadron Collider near Geneva, Switzerland, such as the formation of mini-black holes, and other exotic phenomena that might gobble up the Earth, and us with it, should preclude the use of the LHC until we are certain of the outcome. In the same edition his argument is fairly easily torn apart by Dr. Lawrence Krauss, a Professor of Physics and Astronomy, who quite rightly points out that these type of actions and particle collisions take place all of the time in nature and we're still here. But that's not why I'm reproducing part of Dr. Lueptow's argument.

Last night President Barack Obama addressed the nation from the Academy at West Point, stating his intention to send 30,000 additional troops to Afghanistan within the next six months, maintaining a total force level of approximately 100,000 troops there until mid-2011, at which time he hopes to turn over the security responsibilities over to the Afghan army, and begin bringing our forces home, the beginning of the end of our military involvement in that country. He justifies this escalation and further involvement in our occupation of this country by insisting we are still there to destroy Al Qaeda, and to keep the Taliban from taking back the country.
To Obama's credit he is not bombastically conjuring nationalistic fever to further his argument, proclaiming the need to spread democracy throughout the region, or intimating that if we leave expeditiously we will undoubtedly face another attack like we did on 9/11.
He admitted that there have been many views about how to proceed in this "war." The left wants to end it immediately and bring the troops home as soon as possible, the right wants to stay their indefinitely, and all shades in between, which seems to be the path our president has chosen by choosing the amount of 30,000. He hopes the situation on the ground will improve to the point that we can begin to withdraw our forces in 18 months, to do in that period of time what we have not been able to accomplish in the last eight years.
Granted, the situation in Afghanistan has only really begun to deteriorate within the last two years. Still this might not have happened if we had not diverted our attention from Afghanistan to Iraq, and finished the job instead of allocating resources in an unnecessary and costly military action, which was probably the biggest foreign policy blunder the United States has ever committed, and which the Republicans are strangely quite about while criticizing Obama and his current policies. Indeed, I don't hear much about Iraq at all any more. However, I do know we're still there.
So, what's the answer for Afghanistan? Is Obama right?
Who knows? Not me, that's for sure. I know this as well. No one knows for sure. The point of the first paragraph above is that in the absence of empirical evidence, all that can be offered is informed opinion. And if many informed opinions clash, or contradict each other, then some of those ideas and opinions, and those offering them, must be wrong.
But possibly only by degree. The point is no one knows the future, not in a matter such as this. Anything can happen.
It seems unlikely that we will be able to root out and check Al Qaeda, which is most probably not in Afghanistan, but across the boarder in neighboring Pakistan. And I don't think that should even be a worthy goal, considering its ranks have been disseminated, and it is is believed there remain less than 100 members, and they can operate in many places around the globe. There are, and will remain, larger, perhaps more lethal organizations, without and within our own country now, who pose more of an immediate threat to our national security.
The threat the Taliban poses to the United States is negligible. We had no problem with the Taliban (although I do fear and sympathize for the women, or females of that country and region, as well as many other places in the world) before 9/11. As a matter of fact we supported them in an attempt to bring order within Afghanistan.
How can we expect to get any lasting results if the pretense of a viable government remains in charge of that country? The Afghani people don't trust their own government, the world doesn't trust the Karzai regime, and knows it to be corrupt. I certainly don't trust them. How can we expect to meet any of the President's stated goals, no matter what success our military has, with such an illegitimate government in place? I believe that no matter how much time we remain in Afghanistan training their defense forces, as soon as we leave the Taliban will re-emerge as a significant power in that country, as long as Karzai remains in power, and we seem to be backing him.
A more significant problem lies in Pakistan, where the Taliban and Al Qaeda have established strongholds that the Pakistanis have not been able to control. Terrorist acts are being committed in that country at an ever increasing an alarming rate. The country maintains anywhere from 65 to 100 nuclear weapons, that are not only in danger of possibly being subverted by terrorist factions, but are also vulnerable to treasonous actions within the Pakistani military itself. It is a difficult problem considering Pakistan is a sovereign nation, at times at odds with the interests of the United States, but a problem that can not be ignored. I belive our attention should be on Pakistan, rather than Afghanistan. Many others seem to feel this way as well.
Remember, we were not attacked on 9/11 because some Muslim extremists and Al Qaeda hated our freedom, which is what President Bush continued to spew. We were attacked because we kept troops within their holy land. In other words, we were attacked because we kept screwing with them. In our future dealings with those who do not necessarily share our own interests we must still take those interests into account, and respectfully deal with them in a realistic, effective manner.
Osama bin Laden, if he is still alive, is rejoicing that we have spent so much of our national treasure, in coin and blood, in our inefficient attempts to force our way of life and politics throughout the world. Hopefully, with our new president our national path will change.
I believe it's time to bring our troops home, from Iraq and Afghanistan, and deal with the rest of the world in ways other than using our military strength, and begin nation building within our own boarders.
It's time to heal and rebuild. It's time to become strong again.

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