Books about national security sometimes reward a second pass. On re-reading, certain passages may help you attain moments of Elmer Fuddian samsara
: "Hey! Dat was da WABBIT!"
Case in point: Confront and Conceal
, by David E. Sanger. Let's do a little wabbit hunting...
Sanger discusses the mysterious Bid Kaneh missile base explosion
near Tehran, which occurred in November of 2011. Here's the part with the wabbit:
Another Israeli plot—this one involving explosives planted by Iranian agents trained by the Mossad? Or, given the huge size of the explosion, a freak accident, similar to the kind that has struck some American rocket facilities over the decades?
"American rocket facilities" have been destroyed over the decades? How many incidents have there been? Is there a pattern? Is this really a thing?
A little googling turns up this event
, known as the PEPCON disaster
, which occurred near Henderson, Nevada in 1988. I'm not sure if this explosion is the sort of thing that Sanger is talking about, since the plant produced ammonium percholate, not "rockets" per se
Since the Bid Kaneh affair is generally presumed to have resulted from sabotage, is Sanger implying something disturbing about PEPCON?
"The Chinese know."
Sanger discusses cyberwarfare -- Stuxnet and similar.
One of the creators of the government’s offensive cyber strategy, Gen. James Cartwright, makes a compelling case that the secrecy may be working against American interests. “You can’t have something that’s a secret be a deterrent,” he argued shortly after leaving his post as vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. “Because if you don’t know it’s there, it doesn’t scare you.”
A senior intelligence official disagreed: “Everyone who needs to know what we can do, knows,” he said. “The Chinese know.” And the Iranians, he added, “are probably figuring it out.”
Okay. Then why not let the American public in on it?
Did commies nix single-payer?
Even though a majority of Americans favored single payer health care, the idea was off the proverbial table. Why? Most of my readers would offer the usual yada-yada: "Obama is in the pay of the insurance companies!" And so on.
But Sanger forces his readers to consider a factor which they may not have thought about previously. He describes a "Strategic and Economic Dialogue" held in DC between Obama and representatives from China:
But Orzsag was surprised to be asked to tote over his PowerPoint on Obama’s health-care proposals.
The Chinese weren’t particularly interested in whether Americans used a single-payer option or insured every child in the land -- the arguments that were preoccupying the cable airwaves. The Chinese had only one concern. “They wanted to know, in painstaking detail, how the health-care plan would affect the deficit,” one participant in the conversation later recalled. How, exactly, would this fit into America’s ability to manage its debt, pay its bills, and keep its currency relatively stable?
Soon the luncheon took on the air of a Wall Street meeting between prospective investors and a hedge-fund manager, rather than a diplomatic engagement between two sovereign nations.
It was the kind of conversation that was unimaginable twenty years ago, or even ten. No one buying treasury bills then would likely have asked how much it would cost the United States to invade and occupy Iraq. (Answer: more than Obamacare.) This health-care conversation with the Chinese in 2009 revealed just how tough it was to answer Hillary Clinton’s rhetorical question to the Australians: “How do you deal toughly with your banker?” Orszag’s presentation seemed to say: very carefully, and with lots of charts.
The unspoken message of China’s interest in the issue was clear: the United States was already bogged down in two wars, and appeared, to Chinese analysts, “in decline or distracted or both.” America’s lenders in China wanted assurances that the US budget deficits would not worsen, and neither would the chance that they would be paid back.
Fascinating. And grimly amusing.
The Glenn Beckians and other right-wing dolts think that single payer is a communist plot. In fact, the Chinese -- who are at least nominally communist -- would never have allowed us to go that route.
Now let's zoom out for a wider view. Even if Obama had come into office with the best of intentions (which he didn't), there is no way he could have instituted a new New Deal. Meanwhile, the Chinese themselves met the challenge of 2008 with development programs funded by a truly astonishing level of debt. We find ourselves in the same trap that so many small countries get into when they fall into the clutches of the IMF: Our lenders enforce austerity on us, while they can borrow and spend their way into superpower status.