All posts by Rand Simberg

Office Of Official Falsehoods?

This article in the Paperly Formerly Known As The Paper of Record was originally brought to my attention because it refers to General Pete Worden who, as one of the primary movers behind the DC-X program, I had hoped would continue to play a major role in reformulating military space activities.

Alas, it is not to be:

The Pentagon is developing plans to provide news items, possibly even false ones, to foreign media organizations as part of a new effort to influence public sentiment and policy makers in both friendly and unfriendly countries, military officials said.

…it recently created the Office of Strategic Influence, which is proposing to broaden that mission into allied nations in the Middle East, Asia and even Western Europe. The office would assume a role traditionally led by civilian agencies, mainly the State Department.

Headed by Brig. Gen. Simon P. Worden of the Air Force, the new office has begun circulating classified proposals calling for aggressive campaigns that use not only the foreign media and the Internet, but also covert operations.

This is a little unsettling, but I can understand why it might be necessary during wartime (I just continue to wish that there were some defined parameters that could be used to determine when “wartime” is over). I believe that it was Churchill who said something like, “truth is so precious that it must be accompanied by an escort of lies.” But it will greatly complicate reporting (no doubt overtaxing many of the mental midgets currently engaged in that profession, as well as the competent ones), and may undermine American’s confidence in its own government, if not done carefully.

I’m also afraid that it will play into the hands of those of reflexive anti-American sentiments, who are legion, both here and abroad.

US War Fever Wearies Europe

That’s the tendentious title of this article from the English version of Deustche Welle. One almost imagines the poor Eurocrats wiping sweat from their weary brows at all the Yankee war mongering. Frankly, it makes me tired. Read the whole thing, but first strap on a jumbo-sized barf bag.

Taking an unexpected swipe at US President George Bush and his repeated threats against Iraq, German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer has told a news magazine that he sees no evidence linking Iraq to Osama bin Laden or the September 11 terrorist attacks against the United States.

“Unexpected swipe”? To mix languages, I thought that such “swipes” had become de rigueur.

“No evidence has been presented to me that Osama bin Laden?s terror has something to do with the Iraqi regime,” Fischer told Der Spiegel.

I’ll be generous here (though not further down the post), and assume that Herr Fischer is simply confused. We have never claimed that Iraq was necessarily directly responsible for either bin Laden or 911 (though there were meetings between Iraqi security officials and al Qaeda operatives. In Germany, if you can imagine that).

Of course, before September 11, there was no country that we could claim was responsible for September 11, but if we knew then what we know now, we could have at least had a decent shot at preventing it.

That is the mode that we are in now, with respect to Iraq. Europeans seem to like prophylactics for sex–why do they object to them when it comes to terror?

Saddam has been at war with us for years, albeit ineffectively. So have the Iranians. So have the North Koreans. As have several other countries that the President didn’t mention (yet). We are simply finally recognizing that fact.

But what really bothers me is that I can’t get over the feeling that, for all the whining about capitalism and our “simplistic” approach that we get from some of these oh-so-sophisticated and subtle European elites, the real concern that they have is that if we take out some of these monstrous regimes, they’ll be losing some of their own best customers.

Blow To British Sovereignty

Iain Murray has already briefly commented on this, but the British grocers who were accused of violating the EU laws on food labeling (they used imperial units instead of, or as well as, metric) lost a court appeal today. The judges ruled that EU law (made by unelected Continental bureaucrats) essentially supercedes Parliament.

It will be interesting to see the public reaction in Britain to this ruling, and whether or not the British (and particularly the English) people are transmogrifying into sheep.