Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Trashing Producers of Wealth

The story I copy below is a headline from today's front page of the New York Times. It is interesting from an Objectivist perspective. Forensic analysis of collectivist premises, at least. The Times is trying to indict an American copper and gold mining company (Freeport-McMoRan) for paying off the police and military of Indonesia and for creating a "three square mile mountain of waste" in the middle of nowhere (in New Guinea), and for creating wealth where none existed before. The payoffs were demanded by the Indonesian government (one of the most corrupt anywhere) and the waste is in an area smaller than 2 x 2 miles. (We have landfills in this country that are bigger.)

The story clearly details how the company was forced into the payoffs (nobody spends $35M a year on payola unless it's extortion), yet the Times distorts this into blaming the *victim*. Like there's a choice with Cuffy Meigs running the show? (Whether or not Freeport-McMoRan is run by Hank Rearden or Orren Boyle.)

There is an enormous amount of distortion in the claims of the devastation wrought by this "waste" (which is inherent in any mining operation) -- "bright green-colored springs could be seen spouting several miles away, he said, a tell-tale sign that the acids had leached out copper" -- and at least half this very long and overblown story is devoted to making it sound like the end of the world is near. (Like The Day After Tomorrow.) Keep in mind, this is in one of the most remote places on Earth (see attached pictures).

BTW, this mine is one of the richest sources of copper and *the* richest source of gold on the entire planet. The goal of the Times (and a lot of environmental activists, who obviously instigated the story -- a little web research shows it is one of their newer cause celebres) is clearly to shut it down and get the company indicted by the United States government. Shades of Rearden. There are plenty of "activists" out there who are even charging the mining company with "crimes against humanity". Give me a break. While the Indonesian military is killing company employees when their take gets too low, to entice the company into paying more.

It's interesting that as much as the Times rambles on about what an untouched, pristine part of the world the mine is in, and how much devastating environmental destruction it alleges is being caused, it fails to actually show *pictures* of the site of the mine, despite starting the story with a discussion of how easy it is to view from Google satellite:

"With a few taps on a keyboard, satellite images quickly reveal the deepening spiral that Freeport has bored out of its Grasberg mine as it pursues a virtually bottomless store of gold hidden inside."

Curiously, *I* couldn't find the mine when I went to Google satellite (on which Google Earth is based). Surprising, since the mine is so big (see attached).

3 square miles should show up very easily from space. As an example, take a look at the above pictures of a region to the east of the mine -- a place near the city (?) of "Mappi". It's close to the same size
as the Freeport mine (see scale, lower left), about 5x5miles square (really square -- see the picture!). Take a look at my attached pictures Papua5, 3 and 2, which show this region close in and farther out. Pretty easy to see, isn't it? Shouldn't be hard to find something slightly smaller nearby.

Now look at the pictures below right. This is where the mine is supposed to be. I think. The web lists all sorts of latitudes and longitudes, most close but different. But based on a preponderance of the evidence (and more than a little searching on Google satellite), I think this is the right one. Note that it points to a region covered by heavy clouds. How again did the reporter "quickly reveal the deepening spiral that Freeport has bored out of its Grasberg mine"? I doubt the satellite imagery for a remote region on Earth has been updated in the last few days. This sounds like more than a little bit of journalistic imagination. Do I hear the voice of Jayson Blair?

"They also show a spreading soot-colored bruise of almost a billion tons of mine waste that the New Orleans-based company has dumped directly into a jungle river of what had been one of the world's last untouched landscapes."

Now, there are some brown areas visible on the mountains scattered around New Guinea. As far as *I* can tell, these look like natural geologic formations, and none of these brown areas descend into any of the easilyvisible rivers. They all seem to be on mountain peaks.

But let's say we have good imaginations. (I'll call this the "Blair Witch Project", cause the Times is surely on a witch hunt, using the techniques of Blair.) Note just *how* remote this area is. Not a lot of civilization there. I think it's "untouched" for a reason. I think it would undercut
some of the outrageous hyperbola of this story to have actually shown pictures like I'm attaching.

Anyway, if you read it or not, I found it interesting cause it's a part of the world I was researching recently, and if you read between the lines there's some insights to be gleaned.


The New York Times
December 27, 2005
The Cost of Gold : The Hidden PayrollBelow a Mountain of Wealth, a River of Waste


JAKARTA, Indonesia - The closest most people will ever get to remote Papua, or the operations of Freeport-McMoRan, is a computer tour using Google Earth to swoop down over the rain forests and glacier-capped mountains where the American company mines the world's largest gold reserve.

With a few taps on a keyboard, satellite images quickly reveal the deepening spiral that Freeport has bored out of its Grasberg mine as it pursues a virtually bottomless store of gold hidden inside. They also show a spreading soot-colored bruise of almost a billion tons of mine waste that the New Orleans-based company has dumped directly into a jungle river of what had been one of the world's last untouched landscapes.

What is far harder to discern is the intricate web of political and military ties that have helped shield Freeport from the rising pressures that other gold miners have faced to clean up their practices. Only lightly touched by a scant regulatory regime, and cloaked in the protection of the military,
Freeport has managed to maintain a nearly impenetrable redoubt on the easternmost Indonesian province as it taps one of the country's richest assets.

Months of investigation by The New York Times revealed a level of contacts and financial support to the military not fully disclosed by Freeport, despite years of requests by shareholders concerned about potential violations of American laws and the company's relations with a military whose human rights record is so blighted that the United States severed ties for a dozen years until November.

Company records obtained by The Times show that from 1998 through 2004, Freeport gave military and police generals, colonels, majors and captains, and military units, nearly $20 million. Individual commanders received tens of thousands of dollars, in one case up to $150,000, according to the documents. They were provided by an individual close to Freeport and confirmed as authentic by current and former employees.

Freeport said in a written response to The Times that it had "taken appropriate steps" in accordance with American and Indonesian laws to provide a secure working environment for its more than 18,000 employees and contract workers.

"There is no alternative to our reliance on the Indonesian military and police in this regard," the company said. "The need for this security, the support provided for such security, and the procedures governing such support, as well as decisions regarding our relationships with the Indonesian government and its security institutions, are ordinary business activities."

While mining and natural resource companies sometimes contribute to the costs to foreign governments in securing their operations, payments to individual officers raise questions of bribes, said several people interviewed by The Times, including a former Indonesian attorney general,
who said it was illegal under Indonesian law for officers to accept direct payments.

The Times's investigation also found that, according to one current and two former company officials who helped set up a covert program, Freeport intercepted e-mail messages to spy on its environmental opponents. Freeport declined to comment.

More than 30 current and former Freeport employees and consultants were interviewed over the past several months for this article. Very few would speak for attribution, saying they feared the company's retribution.

Freeport's support of the military is one measure of its extraordinary working environment. In the 1960's, when Freeport entered Papua, its explorers were among the very first outsiders ever encountered by local tribesmen swathed only in penis gourds and armed with bows and arrows.

Since then, Freeport has built what amounts to an entirely new society and economy, all of its own making. Where nary a road existed, Freeport, with the help of the San Francisco-based construction company Bechtel, built virtually every stitch of infrastructure over impossible terrain in engineering feats that it boasts are unparalleled on the planet.

That history, Papua's extreme remoteness and the company's long ties to the Indonesian government have given Freeport exceptional sway over a 21st-century version of the old company town, built on a scale unique even by the standards of modern mega-mining.

"If any operation like this was put forward now, it wouldn't be allowed," said Witoro Soelarno, a senior investigator at the Department of Energy and Mineral Resources, who has visited the mine many times. "But now the operation exists, and many people depend on it."

For years, to secure Freeport's domain, James R. Moffett, a Louisiana-born geologist who is the company chairman, assiduously courted Indonesia's
longtime dictator, President Suharto, and his cronies, having Freeport pay for their vacations and some of their children's college education, and cutting them in on deals that made them rich, current and former employees said.

It was a marriage of mutual convenience. As Freeport prospered into a company with $2.3 billion in revenues, it also became among the biggest - in some years the biggest - source of revenue for the government. It remains so.

Freeport says that it provided Indonesia with $33 billion in direct and indirect benefits from 1992 to 2004, almost 2 percent of the country's gross domestic product. With gold prices hitting a 25-year high of $540 an ounce this month, the company estimates it will pay the government $1 billion this year.

With Suharto's ouster in 1998, after 30 years of unchallenged power, Freeport's special place was left vulnerable. But its importance to Indonesia's treasury and its carefully cultivated cocoon of support have helped secure it against challenges from local people, environmental groups, and even the country's own Environment Ministry.

Letters and other documents provided to The Times by government officials showed that the Environment Ministry repeatedly warned the company since 1997 that Freeport was breaching environmental laws. They also reveal the ministry's deep frustration.

At one point last year, a ministry scientist wrote that the mine's production was so huge, and regulatory tools so weak, that it was like "painting on clouds" to persuade Freeport to comply with the ministry's requests to reduce environmental damage.

That frustration stems from an operation that, by Freeport's own estimates, will generate an estimated six billion tons of waste before it is through - more than twice as much earth as was excavated for the Panama Canal.

Much of that waste has already been dumped in the mountains surrounding the mine or down a system of rivers that descends steeply onto the island's low-lying wetlands, close to Lorentz National Park, a pristine rain forest that has been granted special status by the United Nations.

A multimillion-dollar 2002 study by an American consulting company, Parametrix, paid for by Freeport and its joint venture partner, Rio Tinto, and not previously made public, noted that the rivers upstream and the wetlands inundated with waste were now "unsuitable for aquatic life." The report was made available to The Times by the Environment Ministry.

Freeport says it strives to mitigate the environmental effect of its mine, while also maximizing the benefits to its shareholders. The Times made repeated requests to Freeport and to the Indonesian government to visit the mine and its surrounding area, which requires special permission for journalists. All were turned down.

Freeport refused to make any official available for an interview and would respond to questions only in writing. A cover letter signed by its legal counsel, Stanley S. Arkin, said that Grasberg is a copper mine, with the gold retrieved as a byproduct, and that many journalists had visited the mine before the government tightened its rules in the 1990's. "Freeport has nothing to hide," Mr. Arkin wrote.

Indeed, at Grasberg, Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold mines the world's third-largest copper deposit. The mine also has proven reserves of 46 million ounces of gold, according to the company's 2004 annual report. This year, Mining International, a trade journal, called Freeport's gold mine thebiggest in the world.

Social Tensions Erupt

Since Suharto's ouster, Freeport employees say, Mr. Moffett's motto has been "no tall trees," a call to keep as low a profile as possible, for a company
that operates on an almost unimaginable scale.

But even before then, the new world that Freeport created was growing smaller. By the mid-1990's, with production in full swing, and the expanding impact of Grasberg's operations ever more apparent, Freeport was beset on all sides.

Environmental groups, able to coordinate more effectively with the Internet, made Freeport a target. Local tribes were more and more restless at seeing little benefit for themselves as vast riches were extracted from their lands. And some military commanders in Papua saw Grasberg's increasing value as ripe for the plucking.

To fortify itself, Freeport, working hand in hand with Indonesian military intelligence officers, began monitoring the e-mail messages and telephone conversations of its environmental opponents, said an employee who worked on the program and read the e-mail messages.

The company also set up its own system to intercept e-mail messages, according to former and current employees, by establishing a bogus environmental group of its own, which asked people to register online with a password. As is often the case, many who registered used the same password for their own messages, which then allowed the company to tap in.

Freeport's lawyers were nervous, a person who was at the company at the time said, but decided that nothing prohibited the company legally from reading e-mail messages abroad.

Social tensions around the mine, meanwhile, were fast growing, as was Papua's population. Papua, mostly animist and Christian after long years of missionary work, is distinct in many ways from the rest of Indonesia, the world's largest Muslim country.

Almost from Indonesia's independence, the province had rumblings of a separatist movement. Throughout Indonesia the military, a deeply nationalist institution, finances itself by setting up legal enterprises like shopping
centers and hotels, or illicit ones, like logging. In Papua, the Grasberg mine became a chance for the military not only to profit but also to deepen its presence in a province where it had barely a toehold before Freeport arrived.

For many years Freeport maintained its own security force, while the Indonesian military battled a weak, low-level insurgency. But slowly their security needs became entwined.

"Where Freeport really took it on the chin is the military who came in had no vehicles, and they would commandeer a Freeport bus or a Freeport driver," said the Rev. David B. Lowry, an Episcopalminister hired by Mr. Moffett to oversee social programs. "We had no policies at that time."

No investigation directly linked Freeport to human rights violations, but increasingly Papuans associated it with the abuses of Indonesian military units, in some cases using company facilities.

An Australian anthropologist, Chris Ballard, who worked for Freeport, and Abigail Abrash, an American human rights campaigner, estimated that 160 people had been killed by the military between 1975 and 1997 in the mine area and its surroundings.

Finally, in March 1996, long-simmering anger at the company erupted in rioting when anti-mine sentiment among different groups coalesced into what was perhaps the biggest threat to the company to this day.

The mine and its mill were shut down for three days. Rioters destroyed $3 million of equipment and ransacked offices.

The company intercepted e-mail messages that, according to two persons who read them at the time, suggested that certain military units, the community and environmental groups were working together.

One e-mail exchange, between a community leader and the head of an environmental group, was filled with tactical military intelligence, according to a person who read the messages. In another exchange, an
environmental leader urged the group's members to pull out because the demonstrations had turned violent.

Freeport told The Times that local leaders later met with company officials and said "they had provoked the disturbances as a means of expressing their aspiration to receive greater benefits from our operations."

In recent interviews, current and former Freeport officials recalled how they were stunned when, among those rioting, they saw men with military haircuts, combat boots and walkie-talkies. They seemed to be directing the rioters, at one point, to a Freeport laboratory, which they ransacked.

It was not long before a worried Mr. Moffett flew out to Indonesia in the company jet.

Freeport refused to comment on the meeting that followed. But a company official who was there recounted that Mr. Moffett met with a group of senior Indonesian military officers at the Sheraton Hotel in the lowland town of Timika, near the mine. The all-powerful Gen. Prabowo Subianto, son-in-law of President Suharto and commander of the Indonesian Special Forces, presided.

"Mr. Moffett, to protect you, to protect your company, you have to help the military here," General Prabowo began, according to the company employee who was present.

Mr. Moffett is said to have replied: "Just tell me what I need to do."

The Cost of Security

Each military service drew up its wish list, current and former company employees said.

In short order, Freeport spent $35 million on military infrastructure - barracks, headquarters, mess halls, roads - and it also gave the commanders 70 Land Rovers and Land Cruisers, which were replaced every few years. Everybody got something, even the Navy and Air Force.

The company had already hired a former C.I.A. operative, and on his recommendation, it now approached a military attaché at the American Embassy
in Jakarta, and persuaded him to join the company, according to former and current employees. Two more former American military officers were hired, and a special department, called the Emergency Planning Operation, was set up to handle the company's new relationship with the Indonesian military.

The new department began making direct monthly payments to Indonesian military commanders, while the Security Risk Management office handled the payments to the police, according to company documents and current and former employees.

"They signed a pact with the devil," said an American who was part of Freeport's security operations at the time, and who agreed with the company's decision.

Freeport gave the military and the police in Papua at least $20 million from 1998 to May 2004, according to company documents. In interviews, current and former employees said that at least an additional $10 million was also paid during those years.

Seven years of accounting records were provided to The Times by an individual close to the company. Additional records for three years were provided by Global Witness, a nongovernment organization, which released a report last July, "Paying for Protection," about Freeport's relations with the Indonesian military.

Diarmid O'Sullivan, who works for Global Witness in London, criticized the payments. It may be necessary for a company to help governments with security, he said, but "they should give the money through the proper channels, in a transparent way."

Freeport told The Times, "Our books and records are transparent and accurately reflect the support that we provide."

That support, the company said in its responses, included "mitigating living costs," as well as "infrastructure, catered food and dining hall costs, housing, fuel, travel, vehicle repairs, allowances to cover incidental and
administrative costs, and community assistance programs conducted by themilitary and police."

The company said all of its expenditures were subject to a budget review process.

The records received by The Times showed payments to individual military officers listed under things like "food cost," "administrative services" and "monthly supplement."

Current and former employees said the accounting categories did not reflect what the money was actually used for, and that it was likely that much of the money went into the officers' pockets. The commanders who received the money did not have to sign receipts, current and former employees said.

Asked if there was a reason Freeport would give money directly to military officers, Father Lowry, who retired in March 2004, but remained a consultant to Freeport until June, said, "I can't think of a good one."

The records show that the largest recipient was the commander of the troops in the Freeport area, Lt. Col. Togap F. Gultom.

During six months in 2001, he was given just under $100,000 for "food costs," according to the company records, and more than $150,000 the following year. Freeport gave at least 10 other commanders a total of more than $350,000 for "food costs" in 2002, according to the records.

Colonel Gultom declined to be interviewed.

Those payments were made to individual officers, current and former employees said, even though since the riots Freeport had allowed soldiers to eat in the company's mess and had trucked food to more distant military kitchens. "Three meals a day, seven days a week," a former official said.

Freeport also gave commanders commercial airplane tickets for themselves and their wives and children. Generals flew first or business class and lower ranking officers flew economy, said Brig. Gen. Ramizan Tarigan, who received
$14,000 worth of tickets in 2002 for himself and his family.

General Tarigan, who held a senior police post, said that police officers were allowed to accept airplane tickets because their pay was so low - as a general, his base salary was roughly $400 a month - but that it was in violation of police regulations to receive cash payments.

In April 2002, the company gave the senior commander of forces in Papua, Maj. Gen. Mahidin Simbolon, more than $64,000, for what was described in Freeport's books as "fund for military project plan 2002." Eight months later, in December, he was given more than $67,000 for a "humanitarian civic action project." The payments were first reported by Global Witness.

General Simbolon, who is now inspector general of the Indonesian Army, declined requests to be interviewed.

A former Freeport employee who was involved in making those payments said the company could not be certain how much of the money General Simbolon actually spent on those projects.

Unsolved Killings

By 2003, following the Enron scandal and passage of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, which imposed more rigid accounting practices on companies, Freeport began making payments to military and police units instead of individual officers, according to records and current and former employees.

The company paid police units in Papua slightly under $1 million in 2003, according to the records, listed under items like "monthly supplement payment," "administrative costs" and "administrative support."

Freeport told The Times that "company policies take into account the potential for human rights abuses in determining what types of assistance to provide."

According to the records received by The Times, the police Mobile Brigade, a paramilitary force often cited by the State Department for its brutality,
received more than $200,000 in 2003.

In its 2003 annual human rights report, the State Department said soldiers from the Mobile Brigade "continued to commit numerous serious human rights violations, including extrajudicial killings, torture, rape, and arbitrary detention." It cited no specific incidents from Papua.

There was another reason for extra care by the company.

In August 2002, three teachers employed by Freeport, including two Americans, were killed in an ambush on a company road patrolled by the military that Freeport had paid to protect its employees. Three years later, the F.B.I. is still investigating and the reasons for the killings have not been determined. Freeport said that it could not comment on the investigation.

The United States indicted a Papuan, Anthonius Wamang, in 2004. But it has yet to receive the full cooperation of the military, several American officials said.

Freeport employees and American officials said the killings could have been part of a turf war between the military and the police, each of which wanted access to Freeport payments.

An initial report by the Indonesian police pointed to the Indonesia military, and some Freeport and Bush administration officials have said they suspect some level of military involvement.

The police report suggested that the motivation was that Freeport was threatening to cut its support to soldiers. Soldiers assigned to Papua have "high expectations," the report said, but recently, "their perks, such as vehicles, telephones, etc., were reduced."

Questions of Accountability

Freeport has resisted nearly any detailed disclosure of its payments to the military, saying they are legal and even required under Indonesian law.

Marsillam Simanjuntak, who was minister of justice and later attorney
general in one of the first governments after the fall of President Suharto, said it was a violation of Indonesian law for soldiers or police officers to accept payments from a company. "Of course, it's illegal," he said.

But many companies do it, he said. The better question to ask, he said, was, "Is it allowed by the laws of the United States?"

This year, the New York City pension funds submitted a shareholder resolution asking Freeport to review its policy on paying the police and military. They argued that it could violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which forbids American companies from paying bribes to foreign officials. Freeport opposed the resolution.

In 2002, the funds submitted a similar resolution demanding that Freeport disclose how much it was paying to the military. Freeport kept it off the ballot.

In later filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Freeport reported that it had paid the military a total of $4.7 million in 2001, and $5.6 million in 2002. The company did not indicate whether the money was paid into commanders' personal accounts, or what the money was used for.

Freeport, in its responses, said it was complying with the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights, a set of guidelines drawn up by the State Department. They recognize that natural resource companies "may be required or expected to contribute to, or otherwise reimburse, the costs of protecting company facilities."

The principles do not address the question of direct payments to individual officers. Nor do they require companies to account for the payments.

Freeport has also said that the payments were required under its Contract of Work, its basic agreement with the government of Indonesia, first signed in 1967 and updated in 1991.

The company declined to provide a copy of the contracts to The Times. A copy
of each was provided by Denise Leith, author of "The Politics of Power: Freeport in Suharto's Indonesia." They contained no language requiring payments to the military.

S. Prakash Sethi, head of the International Center for Corporate Accountability, which recently concluded a report on Freeport's development policies in Papua, said that the company had told him that it made "in-kind" contributions to the military, for housing and food, but that he had not been given access to accounting records.

Any direct payments to military officers would be illegal, said Mr. Sethi, an expert on business ethics and corporate social responsibility and a professor at Baruch College. "It's corruption," he said. "It's bribery."

Mine Waste in the Rivers

All the while Freeport sealed its relations with the military, the country's fledgling environment ministry could do little but watch as waste from the mine piled up.

This year Freeport told the Indonesian government that the waste rock in the highlands, 900 feet deep in places, now covers about three square miles.

Down below, nearly 90 square miles of wetlands, once one of the richest freshwater habitats in the world, are virtually buried in mine waste, called tailings, with levels of copper and sediment so high that almost all fish have disappeared, according to environment ministry documents.

The waste, the consistency and color of wet cement, belts down the rivers, and inundates and smothers all in its path, said Russell Dodt, an Australian civil engineer who managed the waste on the wetlands for 10 years until 2004 for Freeport.

About a third of the waste has moved into the coastal estuary, an essential breeding ground for fish, and much of that "was ripped out to sea by the falling tide that acted like a big vacuum cleaner," he said.
But no government, even in Indonesia's new democratic era, has dared encroach on Freeport's prerogatives. The strongest challenge came in 2000, when a feisty politician, Sonny Keraf, who was sympathetic to the Papuans, was appointed environment minister.

Again, Mr. Moffett flew out to Jakarta.

Mr. Keraf initially refused to see the Freeport boss, but eventually agreed, and on the day kept him waiting for an hour and a half. "He came in so arrogant," Mr. Keraf recalled of the meeting in a recent interview, "sitting with his legs crossed."

Freeport refused to comment on the meeting. The American ambassador to Indonesia at the time, Robert Gelbard, said in an interview: "It was a terrible meeting."

Mr. Keraf said that Mr. Moffett had said that his company had never polluted. "I told him that he should spend the money he spent on paying off people not to talk about the mine to properly dispose of the waste," Mr. Keraf said.

Behind the scenes, Mr. Keraf kept up the pressure, angered that the company was using the rivers, forest and wetlands for its mine waste, a process allowed during the Suharto years.

An internal ministry memorandum from 2000 said the mine waste had killed all life in the rivers, and said that this violated the criminal section of the 1997 environmental law.

In January 2001, Mr. Keraf wrote to the coordinating minister for economic affairs, arguing that Freeport should be forced to pay compensation for the rivers, forests and fish that its operations had destroyed.

Six months later, one of his deputies, Masnellyarti Hilman, wrote to Freeport, saying a special environmental commission had recommended that the company stop using the river as a waste chute, and instead build a system of pipes.

She also told Freeport to build sturdier dam-like walls to replace the less
solid levees that it used to contain the waste on the wetlands. That practice has continued.

Freeport says that local and regional governments have approved its waste management plans, and that the central government has approved its environmental impact statement and other monitoring plans.

But in a blistering July 2001 letter, Mr. Keraf took the governor of Papua to task for granting Freeport a permit in 1996 to use the rivers for its waste. The governor, Mr. Keraf said, had no authority to grant permits more lenient than the provisions of national laws.

Despite all these efforts, nothing happened. Mr. Keraf was unable to secure the support of other government agencies or his superiors in the cabinet.

In August 2001, a new government came to power, and a less aggressive minister, Nabiel Makarim, replaced Mr. Keraf. At first, he, too, talked publicly of setting stricter limits on Freeport. Soon his efforts petered out.

The Environment Ministry has begun trying to put teeth into its rules where it can. It brought a criminal suit against the world's largest gold company, Newmont Mining Corporation, for alleged pollution, including a charge of not having a permit for disposing of mine waste into the sea. Newmont has fought the charges vigorously.

But in the case of Freeport, the ministry has had no traction. Freeport still does not hold a permit from the national government to dispose of mine waste, as required by the 1999 hazardous waste regulations, according to Rasio Ridho Sani, assistant deputy for toxic waste management at the ministry. Mr. Arkin, Freeport's counsel, said that the company cooperated well with the environment ministry and that Freeport would not otherwise comment.

"Freeport says their waste is not hazardous waste," Mr. Rasio said. "We cannot say it is not hazardous waste." He said his division and Freeport
were now in negotiations on how to resolve the permit question.

'A Massive Die-Off'

The environment ministry was not the first to challenge Freeport over how it has disposed of its waste in Papua.

The Overseas Private Investment Corporation, a United States government agency that insures American corporations for political risk in uncertain corners of the world, revoked Freeport's insurance policy in October 1995.

It was a landmark decision, the first time that the agency had cut off insurance to any American company for environmental or human rights concerns.

In doing so, two environmental experts, Harvey Himberg, an official at the agency, and David Nelson, a consultant, after visiting the mine for several days, issued a report critical of Freeport's operations, especially the huge amounts of waste it had sent into rivers, something that would not be allowed in the United States.

The company went to court to block the report from being made public, and only a redacted version was later released. A person who thought it should be made public provided an uncensored copy to The Times.

Freeport says the report reached "inaccurate conclusions." The company says it has considered a full range of alternatives for managing and disposing of its waste, instead of using the river, and settled on the best one.

A storage area would not be large enough and would require a tall dam in a region of heavy rainfalls and earthquakes, it said. A waste pipeline, rather than the river, would be too costly, prone to landslides and floods.

To the American auditors, such arguments were not convincing. Freeport "characterizes engineered alternatives as having the highest potential for catastrophic failure when the project otherwise takes credit for legendary feats," the audit noted, like the pipelines more than 60 miles
long down the mountains to carry fuel and copper and gold slurry.

At the time, the waste was jumping the riverbanks, "resulting in a massive die-off of vegetation," the report said.

The company threatened to take the agency to court over the cancellation of its insurance. After protracted negotiations, the policy was reinstated for a few months, as a face-saving gesture to Mr. Moffett, according to the head of the agency then, Ruth Harkin. It was not renewed.

Today, many of the same problems persist, but on a much larger scale. A perpetual worry is where to put all the mine's waste - accumulating at a rate of some 700,000 tons a day.

The danger is that the waste rock atop the mountain will trickle out acids into the honeycomb of caverns and caves beneath the mine in a wet climate that gets up to 12 feet of rain a year, say environmental experts who have worked at the mine.

Stuart Miller, an Australian geochemist who manages Freeport's waste rock, said at a mining conference in 2003 that the first acid runoffs began in 1993.

The company can curb much of it today, he said, by blending in the mountain's abundant limestone with the potentially acid producing rock, which is also plentiful. Freeport also says that the company collects the acid runoff and neutralizes it.

But before 2004, the report obtained by The Times by Parametrix, the consulting company who did the study for Freeport, said that the mine had "an excess of acid-generating material."

A geologist who worked at the mine, who declined to be identified because of fear of jeopardizing future employment, said acids were already flowing into the groundwater. Bright green-colored springs could be seen spouting several miles away, he said, a tell-tale sign that the acids had leached out copper. "That meant the acid water traveled a long way," he said.
Freeport says that the springs are "located several miles from our operations in the Lorentz World Heritage site and are not associated with our operations."

The geologist agreed that the springs probably were in the Lorentz park, and said this showed that acids and copper from the mine were affecting the park, considered a world treasure for its ecological diversity.

In the lowlands, the levees needed to contain the waste will eventually reach more than 70 feet high in some places, the company says.

Freeport says that the tailings are not toxic and that the river it uses for its waste meets Indonesian and American drinking water standards for dissolved metals. The coastal estuary, it says, is a "functioning ecosystem."

The Parametrix report shows copper levels in surface waters high enough to kill sensitive aquatic life in a short time, said Ann Maest, a geochemist who consults on mining issues. The report showed that nearly half of the sediment samples in parts of the coastal estuary were toxic to the sensitive aquatic organisms at the bottom of the food chain, she said.

The amount of sediment presents another problem. Too many suspended solids in water can smother aquatic life. Indonesian law says they should not exceed 400 milligrams per liter.

Freeport's waste contained 37,500 milligrams as the river entered the lowlands, according to an environment ministry's field report in 2004, and 7,500 milligrams as the river entered the Arafura Sea.

Freeport would not comment on the measurements. The company says it spent $30 million on environmental programs in 2004, and planted 50,000 mangrove seedlings last year as part of its reclamation efforts. It says cash crops can be grown on the waste with the addition of nutrients, and has begun demonstration projects.

An Uneasy Coexistence
If the accumulating waste is the despair of critics, for Freeport it signals expanding production. To keep its mine running, the company has increasingly had to play caretaker for the world that it has created.

After the 1996 riots, Freeport began dedicating 1 percent of revenues annually to a development fund for Papua to pay for schools, medical services, roads - whatever the people wanted.

The company built clinics and two hospitals. Other services include programs to control malaria and AIDS and a "recognition" fund for the Kamoro and Amungme tribes of several million dollars which, among other things, gives them shares in the company as part of a compensation package for the lands Freeport is using.

By the end of 2004, Freeport had spent $152 million on the community development fund, the company said.

Mr. Sethi, of the Center for Corporate Accountability, commended Freeport for commissioning the report on the company's development programs, saying that it was the first mining company to do so.

The report, which was released in October, concluded that the company had successfully introduced a human rights training program for its employees and had doubled the number of Papuan employees by 2001. The company was poised to double the number of Papuans in the work force again by 2006, the audit said.

Still, Thom Beanal, the Amungme tribal leader, says the combined weight of the Indonesian government and Freeport has left his people in bad shape. Yes, he said, the company had provided electricity, schools and hospitals, but the infrastructure was built mainly for the benefit of Freeport.

Mr. Beanal, 57, a vocal supporter of independence for Papua, has fought the company from outside and inside. In 2000, he decided that harmony was the better path, and joined the company's advisory board.
In November, he and other Amungme and Komoro tribesmen met with Mr. Moffett at the Sheraton Hotel in Timika. In an interview in Jakarta not long afterward, Mr. Beanal said he told Mr. Moffett that the flood of money from the community fund was ruining people's lives.

When the company arrived, he noted, there were several hundred people in the lowland village of Timika. Now it is home to more than 100,000 in a Wild West atmosphere of too much alcohol, shootouts between soldiers and the police, AIDS and prostitution, protected by the military.

Still more soldiers are on the way. Having negotiated an end to a separatist insurrection this year in another province, Aceh, the government is redeploying soldiers to Papua in a move to defeat the growing enthusiasm for independence, once and for all, and to watch over the province with the world's biggest gold mine. Freeport says its gold ore has 35 years to go.

Mr. Beanal said he was increasingly impatient with the presence of the soldiers and the mine. "We never feel secure there," he said. "What are they guarding? We don't know. Ask Moffett, it's his company."

Evelyn Rusli contributed reporting for this article.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Raining on the Global Warming Parade

In the article copied below, Roy Spencer makes the valid point that there are many "feedback" factors influencing climate heating which aren't factored in by "climatologists" and other missing link descendents of the alchemysts.

This doesn't even begin to scratch the surface. It's so commonly glibly stated that "clouds trap heat". They also *reflect* it back from the sun. Less heat gets down to Earth. But hotter climate would create an increase in the number of clouds, reflecting more heat, hence, reducing the temperature rise that would otherwise have occurred, diminishing cloud production, etc. A pretty strong feedback loop. Global temperature rise *always* has to increase the average level of atmospheric humidity, but only small increases in the humidity have to increase the clouds. Self-regulating. I have long suspected that this is far more dominant than any alleged "greenhouse" gases and that the loop gain of the feedback is so high that Earth's average temperature (whatever that means) can change very little, even for fairly substantial increases in solar radiation.

If you think about it, do an analogy between the Earth and your house. Let's say you built a glass house (all climate researchers live in glass houses) with double-pane windows to trap the heat inside. Think "glass geodesic dome". Now, I think I can say with confidence, those glass panes are probably at least as good if not better than the Earth's atmosphere (adjusting for scale, of course) in "trapping" heat. They usually use Argon gas to retard the transfer of heat from inside to outside, and while the mechanism isn't the same (thermal transfer via gas diffusion instead of by re-radiation, though the windows in *my* house also have a special plastic film that actually reflects infrared), I think the analogy is useful:

If I changed the Argon concentration in this glass house by the fraction that global warming whack-jobs claim mankind is increasing CO2 in the atmosphere (about doubling), how much would my winter heating bill go down?

NOT. Not much, anyway. I just paid a $302 gas heating bill for November. I suspect it would go down about 0.1%, or 30 cents. If that. That is, look out your windows in this glass house, and ask, if I increase the gas between the panes by 0.5% does it block much more heat going out? NOT.

Actually, as I think about it, my gaseous diffusion analogy is good. Even the Earth radiates by gaseous diffusion, at least, from the surface to the upper atmosphere -- even if there *was* a layer of CO2 to "block" the infrared radiation from Earth, the jostling of air molecules would transfer heat *past* the CO2, up to the upper atmosphere, allowing the heat energy to radiate into space anyway. This, I think is the proof that the CO2 theory is completely, totally bogus. Geez, I'm smart.

My point, as obscure as this analogy is, is that I doubt the CO2 in the atmosphere has any truly significant effect on the overall global temperature. The vast majority of heat that the Earth receives is what gets past the clouds to reach the Earth and heat it up -- but there *has* to be a balance of "what goes out (re-radiated back to space) = what comes in (from the sun)". The total solar efflux of heat is so great that whatever little CO2 there is in the atmosphere (something like 0.5%, if I recall correctly) can have only a miniscule effect on the heat balance, whether by clouds dominating, or by gaseous diffusion bypass. A lot less than the 1 - 3 degrees (or 100 degrees if you watch "The Day After Tomorrow's Most Stupid Environmental Scaremongering Doomsday Film of the Century").

Put it another way. The Earth is a "blackbody radiator", in the parlance of science. A fact widely used in science and space engineering, by the way. For you non-scientists, have you ever huddled next to a hot boulder on sunny day with a cold wind? That's Earth. Third hot rock from the sun. All that solar radiation is heating us up and we're all huddled next to the rock to keep warm. But the rock radiates back into space. The atmosphere might provide a little thermal insulation, but not much. (Certainly not like a good thermos bottle.)

But the enviro-whackoists are claiming that by wrapping a hot rock in a little CO2 that the Earth is going to have be insulated from radiating the sun's energy back into space. Meaning, higher surface temperature would be required to radiate into space the same amount of energy as the Earth is receiving from the sun. Like, if you wanted to feel the outside of that thermos get warmer, you need to put hotter coffee inside.

But putting aside alleged CO2 reflection of infrarad from the surface, how much insulation does the atmosphere provide? A thin amount. Wrap yourself in a 1mm air blanket and go outside in January in Minnesota on a sunny day. The only thing keeping you warm will be the solar radiation your body receives directly.

Actually, here's another nail in the coffin of the CO2 theory: Putting aside the fact that Earth will ultimately re-radiate even "trapped" infrared by gaseously diffusing heat (molecules bumping into each other) from the lower to the upper atmosphere (ie, right around and CO2), the effect of the CO2 itself has got to be small. If it's reflecting heat going up, it's reflecting heat coming down. Now, the standard explanation is that on the way down the wavelength of the sun's energy is higher on average than what's going up, and there's some truth to that, but it can't be that much different. The Earth is a blackbody radiator. Whatever energy gets absorbed and then re-radiated is going to have a spectrum not that much different than the Sun's, even though the sun is much hotter. Yes, there's a shift towards lower frequency cause the Earth is cooler than the sun (about 6000 degrees cooler), but the famous Planck radiation formula shows the frequency shift is not that much.

MOREOVER, if you look at charts of atmospheric absorption versus wavelength (or frequency) the trend is clearly that at longer wavelengths the atmosphere becomes more transparent. Lousy absorption. That's why radiowaves travel so far, but you can't see nearly so far even on a nice haze-free day. (Nate, don't grimace at my science. A little literary license is needed here.) So you can say that on average, the shift in energy from shorter wavelength (ie, higher frequency) from the sun, to longer wavelength (ie, lower frequency) from the hot rock Earth, should allow that heat to radiate away more efficiently, the atmosphere be damned.

Of course, the atmospheric absorption (I've got pretty graphs if anyone is interested) does have many "absorption lines", where particular gas molecules will "resonate" and absorb energy more efficiently. The global warming psychos (I will run the gamut of insulting names for them, probably ending in "scientific pedophiles" and "serial killers of rational thought") claim that it is atmospheric absorption at certain of these spectral lines that "captures" the heat so efficiently. So, these lunatic advocates of fake science that is worse than animal bestiality claim, CO2 absorbs certain frequencies of energy radiated by the hot rock, and *doesn't* absorb the frequencies coming from the sun. So what comes in heats the rock, but what the rock re-radiates gets trapped.

What a crock of rock, now that I think about it even more. The first question to ask, is: what *fraction* of what is re-radiated by the hot rock is around the wavelength at which the CO2 absorbs. Not Too Damned Much. Those atmospheric absorption lines are damned narrow. I forget the actual wavelengths for CO2, but I think it's around 10 microns. Translate to frequency, estimate the linewidth of CO2 (probably 1/1000 of the wavelength, integrate Planck's formula, and presto, hey! I bet you find the total energy that is absorbable by atmospheric CO2 is maybe 1/1,000,000 of what's re-radiated by the Earth. A guess, but my guesses are often pretty damned good when subsequently verified. (And when they're not so good I crawl into a hole in the ground and hibernate during the Nuclear Winter of my dis-contempt.) This is the fraction of solar energy that the CO2 would be trapping, and the fraction that small increases in atmospheric CO2 would be increasing.

Because the *second* question is, what fraction of the 10 micron CO2-absorbing wavelength (if that's what it is) does the atmospheric CO2 actually trap. Ain't gonna be 100%. Some's getting past, like a hockey goalie with a broken stick and a 4 foot hole in his net. Let's pick a number. Say, 10% gets absorbed. Maybe it's better than that, but I like the number. (That's the approach of the climo-scatologists, so why can't I do it, too?) Now you double the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere. How much more gets trapped? Well, it's not linear (there's an exponential for the attenuation), but to first order I think we can assume it is. We'll say twice the heat in that narrow CO2 linewidth gets trapped. Now, instead of trapping (by reflection alone!) 1/1,000,000 of the solar energy in that linewidth, it's trapping 1/500,000.

Big deal. How much could Earth heat up? At a mean surface temperature of 292 degrees (a nice day), the day gets warmer by 0.0005 degrees. No reason for air conditioning and the disaster movie doesn't make a dime.

But it's actually not even that bad. The CO2 reflects the IR at that linewidth... so it goes back to Earth (that little bit of energy that would otherwise have gone to space). What does it do there? It has to heat everything up a little more (0.0005degree). Then what happens? That energy gets spread over a wider spectrum (the essence of blackbody) and then re-radiated again over many more frequencies, with only a small fraction at the frequency you originally absorbed. The Earth has to heat up oh-so-slightly to increase the radiation rate back into space to overcome the reflection of the CO2. Damned little increase by the 1/500,000 standard, but practically, even less.

For this reason (third question): a lot of that reflected heat (a lot of a very little, that is) goes into heating the other 99.5% of the molecules in the atmosphere. Now, heated up a little more, they start jostling amongst each other like a bunch of drunken girls and boys at a college frat party, and they transfer energy (via jostling, not radiation) right on past the CO2 (getting past some kind of chaperone in this idiotic analogy). Once past (into the upper atmosphere) they have time now to re-radiate and voila, most of that 1/500,000 energy originally reflected by the CO2 now radiates into space anyway, without ever heating the Earth up nearly as much as 0.0005 degree. Maybe only heating it up 0.000005 degree.

Grossly oversimplified in detail and just as frightening as "Day After Tomorrow" in its lack of mathematical and numerical rigor, but I hope you can see that the essence of the analysis is utterly correct in principle. You need not fear global warming. Unless the sun heats up too much. Supernovae, whatever. Then you won't care, though. And probably will never know fast enough to care. But I digress.

Raining on the Global Warming Parade

By Roy W. Spencer Published 03/09/2004

There are many remaining scientific uncertainties that limit our ability to predict how much global warming can be expected due to mankind's use of fossil fuels. The largest uncertainties are related to feedbacks. Feedbacks describe how various elements of the climate system respond to an initial warming tendency, and possibly change it. This warming tendency is caused by increased trapping of infrared radiation in the atmosphere from increasing concentrations of carbon dioxide.

Feedbacks can either be positive (amplifying the warming), or negative (reducing the warming), and exert a potentially huge influence. In theory at least, they make the difference between benign warming (say, 1 deg F), or strong warming (say, 7 deg. F) over the next 100 years. Most feedbacks involve water in one form or another. Water vapor, clouds, snow cover, sea ice, and ocean circulations are the major players usually researched.

I believe the largest uncertainty, though, is one that receives little attention -- maybe because we know so little about it. That is precipitation, the only process that removes water vapor (Earth's major greenhouse gas) from the atmosphere. Since water vapor accounts for 80%-90% of the Earth's natural greenhouse effect, it is critical to understand what processes determine its equilibrium value in the atmosphere and how they might change with warming.

All of the water vapor that is being continuously evaporated from the Earth's surface must eventually return to the surface as precipitation. The climate system strikes a balance, allowing only so much water vapor to accumulate before it is depleted by either rain or snow. The term used to describe this self-limiting process is "precipitation efficiency," which is a measure of how readily precipitation processes in clouds convert cloud water into droplets large enough to fall to the surface. Theoretical research has shown that for a given amount of sunlight, high precipitation efficiency leads to cool, dry climates and low precipitation efficiency leads to warm, moist climates [1].

All of the dozen or so leading computerized climate models increase the amount of water vapor in the atmosphere, significantly resulting in a doubling of the warming that might be expected due to increased carbon dioxide alone. The absolute water vapor increase is such that the relative humidity remains about constant with warming. This is strongly positive water vapor feedback. But how could these models have any credibility on this issue unless they contain knowledge of how precipitation might change with warming? I believe that they can't.

What does the current climate system tell us about this issue? In the tropics, where more sunlight causes warmer conditions, there is indeed more water vapor in the lowest part of the atmosphere (the "boundary layer") than there is outside of the tropics. By itself, this suggests a positive water vapor feedback. But above the boundary layer, the tropical free troposphere has only slightly more water vapor, and much lower relative humidity, than at high latitudes. This wasn't widely realized until Earth-orbiting satellites gave us a global view of the relative humidity field, revealing large regions with RH below 10% in the tropics [2]. And it is this dry, free-tropospheric air that allows huge amounts of Earth-cooling infrared radiation to escape more readily to space. Deep tropical rain systems are apparently more efficient at keeping the free-tropospheric vapor at very low levels, even though the relative humidity near the surface remains nearly the same as that at high latitudes.

The processes which control precipitation efficiency are not well understood. On a theoretical level, we still don't even understand what initiates rain formation in clouds. We do know that precipitation proceeds by larger drops falling faster and growing by collecting smaller, more slowly-falling cloud droplets. But we don't know how the small and large droplets got close together in the first place. Turbulence within clouds probably plays some role.

Unlike the old adage that two wrongs don't make a right, climate models contain many processes that are probably wrong (or non-existent), but are tuned to get the right average climate conditions. So models can be tuned to reproduce the very dry tropical free-tropospheric seen in nature. But this doesn't mean that they contain information on how precipitation efficiency changes with temperature. We need to know how these precipitation processes in clouds change with warming, not just their average values, before we can have much confidence in global warming predictions. And as Joni Mitchell sang in her hit "Both Sides Now", we still "really don't know clouds at all."

1. Renno, N.O., K.A. Emanuel, and P.H. Stone, 1994: Radiative-convective model with an explicit hydrologic cycle, 1: Formulation and sensitivity to model parameters. J. Geophys. Res., 99, 14,429-14,441.

2. Spencer, R.W., and W.D. Braswell, 1997: How dry is the tropical free troposphere? Implications for global warming theory. Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc., 78, 1097-1106.

Roy Spencer recently wrote for TCS about Osama Bin Greenhouse.

Copyright C 2004 Tech Central Station - www.techcentralstation.com

Saturday, November 26, 2005

George Will, arch-Conservative

(Remarks to a friend on the Hillsdale speech copied below.)

Although George Will's general point that ideas are essential is correct (in reforming despotic/backwards countries), he reminds me (and epitomizes to me) of so much that is dangerous about Conservatives. It's no accident, for instance, that he quotes Kant. I've heard other conservatives do the same.

A few years ago Tony Snow had the mike on Limbaugh's show, and went on for 15 minutes on what a great thinker Kant was. This is what passes for deep intellectual thought in Conservative circles. Conservatives will embrace *anything* that enshrines "God" above all else, even to their own demise.

So when Will quotes Kant as saying "a prolonged peace favors the predominance of a mere commercial spirit, and with it a debasing self-interest, cowardice, and effeminacy and tends to degrade the character of the nation", I take it seriously. I don't think it's a chance quote to make another point. I put this together with Will's later point against "materialism" and see a final result (whether Will intended it or not) that is the end of individual rights and the death of the individual in this country. Eventually.

As I said, Conservatives (of the religious ilk, I mean, but they now dominate the breed) will embrace *anything* to enshrine God. That's their overarching principle. Whatever good values they might embrace today (freedom, capitalism, rights) will be tossed aside whenever confronted
with the choice of those ideas -- or faith.

Will is also wrong in saying "one of the mistakes our enemies have made -- and one of the reasons I wish our enemies would study American history to disabuse themselves of some of their grotesque errors -- is their belief that we are squeamish about defending freedom and about the violence of war." I think he is hopelessly naive about where America is right now. He cites examples of WWII, WWI, on back to the Civil War, etc., to "prove" his point that America is a sleeping giant that our enemies will rue ever attacking. (Will's running theme, based on Yamamoto's remark "then what?" in response to the Japanese leadership who asked him to attack Pearl Harbor.)

Will completely misses the sea-change in American culture that has occurred in the last 50 years. While there are good trends offsetting the bad going on, the America of today is *not* the America of December 7, 1941. The Leftist intellectuals have done their work very well in the interim. The American sense of life that Ayn Rand worried so much would be lost is very much on the ropes. In my opinion, something like half the country is no longer American in any important sense. The country is well into the modern equivalent of the Athenian post-classical era (ie, the Hellenistic era).

Ie, post-modernism. The culture is seriously decayed, and most people are bereft of any shred whatsoever of the original animating principles of the Founders. That's what characterized the Hellenistic period, after all. The loss of animating principles. And so the Athenians were conquered. In some important senses, I think the country is well beyond the Hellenistic era in Athens, it was a time (putting it simply) of shallow ideas, but there was still some overarching pride in Athens itself to bind the Athenians (to my reading).

Today, a significant percentage of our country doesn't even have that. The Left has done their job. A significant fraction of the country actually hates it, despises it (epitomized by a negative zero like Ward Churchill) whether it is for capitalism, industrialism, consumerism, etc., or even just for displacing the primitive tribes that once roamed the place. That's why so much of the vocal Left is now actually rooting for our defeat and trumpet every alleged "atrocity" of a terrorist prisoner (like, he didn't get to say his evening prayers to Allah).

So when Will naively suggests that we will all rally 'round the flag if we are attacked, I have to say -- some may; but I doubt it will be much of a rally. I watched what happened after 9/11. I heard people (including my own father) say that it was "our" fault we were attacked. (My father is a *non-* religious conservative in the Nixon mold.) I was in California that day and I saw the reaction of the company employees on the morning of 9/11 -- while a few were in deep shock, the attitude of the rest was almost utter indifference, and even shock when *I* said Iran should be glassified as the source of the disease.

A few days later, when another employee in Boston, of the same company, distributed a company-wide email letter soliciting signatures for a petition along the lines of Rodney King's famous "can't we all just get along?" (yeah, I quote Rodney a lot -- he epitomizes so much of the problem) and expressing sympathy for the *other side*, it was not *he* who was punished, but *me* who was forced to apologize for scaring people by responding in kind with a company-wide email (I hit 'reply to all') calling him a sonofabitch sympathizer of our enemies (a few days after 9/11!), and me who was ultimately fired because of it.

There's Will's spirit that will rally round the flag (my term for his position) if we are attacked. No doubt many will, but many won't.

And it almost certainly will go to WWIII. I don't think the Chamberlain's among us are so powerful that we will just capitulate to any attack, but as I've said before, if we are attacked at the level of mass casualties, as Will suggests, it can go almost nowhere else other than rapid escalation and a flacid response. The Iranians, Chinese, North Koreans, etc, etc, are opportunists, but our military *cannot* fight two or more major wars on multiple fronts without going nuclear.

Hell, under the leadership of the neocons and the cons, we can't even fight and win in one piss-ant pesthole in the Middle East after 4 years and 400 billion dollars of our money being poured down that sewer. So how does Will think we are going to unite and win a global conflagration? Sure, we'll get dragged into it incrementally, but will our political leaders of any stripe use nukes to stop Iran from attacking Israel? North Korea from attacking South Korea? China from invading Taiwan?

Not. Hell, even the Republican-controlled House and Senate voted to kill the development of a nuke to use against *underground* Iranian nuclear sites. How would they ever authorize the use of *above ground* weapons against an enemy? Would the President even use them on his own authority? Not too likely. He won't want to be condemned as a war criminal by the International Criminal Court, or even half the population of our own country.

George Will himself can't even grasp the concept of fascism and that China is a threat -- "We are today engaged in a great race to see if we can integrate China into the community..." He accepts the basic, hopelessly
naive idea of the inevitability of capitalism in turning China into an ally -- even while ostensibly rejecting the inevitability of democracy in turning Iraq into a bastion of enlightenment. That's the "power of ideas" he embraces. Ultimately, a form of hypocritical determinism.

But back to his main point. (I think it's his main point, but his speech rambles like everything else he's ever written.) Ie, his point that America has the resolve to unite and respond to a devastating attack. Do we?

Let's say the WWIII scenario arises. Do we have enough troops to send against either of those places, or, god forbid, to Europe to put down the Muslim hordes who may rise again as they did in France? Even after a nuclear attack on *this* country, I'm not so sure.

What I *am* sure about is that *the greater the attack on us*, the greater will be the cry for restraint on *our part* after a mass-casualty attack. The Left has done their job. Even Will recognizes that "today there are more Marxists on the Harvard faculty than there are in Eastern Europe" -- but he doesn't grasp the implications of that.

That's why I think Will is naive. Hopelessly. He's deluding himself with hope, rather than facts, into thinking we will respond as we did in WWII. The fact is -- we didn't. As many people were lost on 9/11 than in Pearl Harbor -- civilians! In New York City! -- and *a Republican President* took months to decide to go to war -- in Afghanistan, the most pathetic, poorist, beaten-down shithole on the planet! And he couldn't capture the leader of the attack of 9/11 because he stopped -- out of concern of violating the border "rights" of -- Pakistan! Where many of the enemy came from!

There is the *real* resolve. Meanwhile, Bush was condemned and backpedaled faster than a fish getting sucked into a turbopump after our initial wet response was briefly called "Infinite Justice" and after a casual reference to our response as a "crusade" -- out of fear it would create a religious war ("infinite justice" being a term for that, as you know) -- after an attack by religious zealots! It *is* a religious war -- their religion against our survival. (I think one of his earliest responses after the attacks was to say first and foremost what a great religion the Muslims have, that it had only been "hijacked" by a few malcontents, as we've heard time and again since.)

Given all this, we can almost put aside Bush's long slow slide away from that insensitive remark before Congress where he actually referred to the enemy as an "axis of evil" -- How bloody naive can you be!

Meanwhile, in the four years of vacillation in the face of the one enemy he should have nuked, ie, Iran, he's allowed them 4 more years to develop their own nukes (and you may be sure they didn't slow the process in the interim), while *still* playing the pathetic diplomacy game before the U.N. and the weasily Europeans, *even as* the Iranians train and support the terrorists in Iraq killing our people. (And Iran, in my opinion, probably has a nuke by now -- nothing else explains Ahmadinejad's recent behavior.)

All this under a *Republican* administration that *controls both Houses*.

How will we respond to another attack? Sure, they'll do something, but matters could blow up so rapidly over such an extent around the globe that I think within thirty microseconds of the attack the voices of vacillation will drown out any calls for a serious response. (And what would the response be if the Dems are in charge? -- almost certain in the next election, I think.)

Of course, this isn't all Will said. He did try to make the point that
"ideas matter" and are fundamental to instilling freedom, capitalism around the world (though his idea of freedom and capitalism rests on Kant).

But what ideas matter to Will? He quotes the Declaration (guaranteed, religious conservatives always quote the first line of the Declaration) saying people are "endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights", and he refers to our "God-given natural rights". No accident he inserted that part about "god-given" in there. There is *no idea* that the Conservatives won't preface with "god-given". For them that is the "power of ideas" that Will refers to. Damn them -- I wish *just once* someone would stand up in public and answer those smarmy sanctimonious fools and say "goddamn you, our rights are not 'god-given' and the most rudimentary reading of history shows this country was *not* based on god."

But that's all the ideas that ultimately matter to Will and his ilk. 1.) God. 2.) God. 3.) God. Somewhere near the bottom of his list is "freedom, rights, capitalism, yadayada", which is important to him so long as he doesn't (yet) see a conflict with ideas 1, 2, 3 ad infinitum, and so long as it gives him a means of selling 1, 2, 3, etc.

With this in mind, I interpret his point of the "long, 572-year uphill march from Runnymede to the Philadelphia Convention of 1787." For him, this is the 572 year march to subvert the Renaissance and the Enlightment with Kant while making some kind of uneasy compromise with individual rights.

A lot more could be said. To be sure, Will probably doesn't appreciate all the contradictions in his ideas (I don't think), and would probably be aghast at some of my assertions. But there's the essence of what he is ultimately defending -- a giant contradiction, faith and reason. Which is
why they have embraced Kant as their intellectual mentor. (Never mind Kant was the root of communism!) I would, however, agree with him on this point: "Our enemy has ideas. They are vicious, bad, retrograde, medieval, intolerant, and suicidal ideas, but ideas nevertheless."

I think that's what Will is ultimately defending.

The Doctrine of Preemption
George F. Will, Journalist

George F. Will writes a twice-weekly column that appears in more than 450 newspapers and a biweekly column in Newsweek. He also appears regularly on ABC's This Week on Sunday mornings. In 1977, he won the Pulitzer Prize for commentary. He has published seven collections of his columns as well as several other books, including Statecraft as Soulcraft: What Government Does and Men at Work: The Craft of Baseball. Mr. Will was educated at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut, and at Oxford and Princeton universities, and taught political philosophy at Michigan State and Toronto universities prior to entering journalism.

The following is adapted from a speech delivered on May 23, 2005, at a Hillsdale College National Leadership Seminar in Dallas, Texas.

What I will say tonight about the war on terror draws heavily on my earlier life as a professor and student of political philosophy. A long life in journalism and around Washington, D.C., has taught me not just that ideas have consequences, but that only ideas have large and lasting consequences. We are in a war of terror being waged by people who take ideas with lethal seriousness, and we had better take our own ideas seriously as well.

I think the beginning of understanding the war is to understand what happened on 9/11. What happened was that we as a people were summoned back from a holiday from history that we had understandably taken at the end of the Cold War. History is served up to the American people with uncanny arithmetic precision. Almost exactly sixty years passed from the October 1929 collapse of the stock market to the November 1989 crumbling of the Berlin Wall-sixty years of depression, hot war, and cold war, at the end of which the American people said: "Enough, we are not interested in war anymore."

The trouble is, as Trotsky once said, "You may not be interested in war, but war is interested in you." And this was a war with a new kind of enemy-suicidal, and hence impossible to deter, melding modern science with a kind of religious primitivism. Furthermore, our enemy today has no return address in the way that previous adversaries, be it Nazi Germany or Stalin's Russia, had return addresses. When attacks emanated from Germany or Russia, we could respond militarily or we could put in place a structure of deterrence and containment. Not true with this new lot.

Our enemy today refutes an axiom that has governed international relations for nearly 400 years, since the Peace of Westphalia, when the nation-state system began to emerge in Europe. The axiom was that a nation could only be mortally threatened or seriously wounded by another nation-by massed armies and fleets on the seas, and an economic infrastructure to support both. This is no longer true. It is perfectly clear now that one maniac with a small vial of smallpox spores can kill millions of Americans. That is a guess, but an educated guess based on a U.S. government simulated disaster that started in an Oklahoma shopping center. Smallpox is a strange disease; it has a ten-day incubation period when no one knows they have it. We are mobile people, we fly around, we breathe each other's airplane air. The U.S. government, taking this mobility into account, estimated that in just three weeks, one million Americans in 25 states would die from one outbreak like that.

On the other hand, the enemies who attacked us on 9/11 failed to ask themselves the question, "But then what?" That is the question Admiral Yamamoto asked when the Japanese government summoned him in 1940 and asked him to take a fleet stealthily across the North Pacific and deliver a devastating blow against the American navy at Pearl Harbor. Yamamoto said he could do that if his government would design some shallow running torpedoes and a few other things. He said he could run wild in the Pacific for six months, or maybe a year. But he asked his government, "Then what?" Yamamoto knew America, and he loved America. He studied at Harvard and had been back to the U.S. as a diplomat in Washington. He knew that after Pearl Harbor, Japan would have an enraged, united, incandescent, continental superpower on its hands, and that Japan's ultimate defeat would be implicit in its initial victory. Our current enemies will learn the same thing.

Preemption: Necessary but Problematic

Meanwhile we have worries-and these are not new worries. In 1946, Congress held what are today remembered, by the few who remember such things, as the "Screwdriver Hearings." They summoned J. Robert Oppenheimer, head of the Manhattan Project, and asked him if it would be possible to smuggle an atomic device into New York City and detonate it. Oppenheimer replied that of course it would be possible. Congress then asked how it would be possible to detect such a device. Oppenheimer answered: "With a screwdriver." What he meant was that every container that came into the city of New York would have to be opened and inspected.
This year, seven million seaborn shipping containers will pass through our ports. About five percent will be given cursory examination. About 30,000 trucks crossed our international borders today. If this was a normal day, about 21,000 pounds of cocaine, marijuana, and heroin were smuggled into our country. How hard would it be, then, to smuggle in a football-sized lump of highly enriched uranium sufficient to make a ten-kiloton nuclear weapon to make Manhattan uninhabitable for a hundred years?

To enrich uranium is an enormous, complex process that requires scientists and vast physical plants. But once you have it, making a nuclear weapon requires only two or three good physics graduate students. And there is an enormous amount of fissile material floating around the world. In 1993, some officials from the U.S. Energy Department, along with some Russian colleagues, went to a Soviet-era scientific facility outside Moscow and used bolt cutters to snip off the padlock-the sum of all the security at this place. Inside, they found enough highly enriched uranium for 20 nuclear weapons. In 2002, enough fissile material for three weapons was recovered in a laboratory in a Belgrade suburb. And so it goes. The Soviet Union, in its short and deplorable life, deployed about 22,000 nuclear weapons. Who believes they have all been accounted for? The moral of this story is: you cannot fight terrorism at the ports of Long Beach or Newark. You have to go get it. You have to disrupt terrorism at its sources. This is a gray area. It's a shadow war. But it is not a war that we have any choice but to fight.

This leads us directly to the doctrine of preemption, with which there are several problems. First, we do not yet have-as it has been made painfully clear-the intelligence capacity that a doctrine of preemption really requires. The second problem with preemption is encapsulated in Colin
Powell's famous "Pottery Barn principle," which Mr. Powell explained to the President before the second war with Iraq began: If you break it, you own it. Iraq is broken; we own it for the moment. And we are therefore engaged in nation building.

This is particularly a problem for conservatives, who understand that societies and nations are complex, organic things-not put together and taken apart like Tinker Toys. The phrase "nation building" sounds to many conservatives much the way the phrase "orchid building" would sound. An orchid is a complex, wonderful, beautiful, natural thing, but it is not something that can be built. Conservatives know it took thirty years in this country to rebuild the south Bronx. And now we have taken on a nation to build.

There are those who say that neoconservatives-and most of my friends are neoconservatives, although I am not quite-have exported the impulse for social engineering that conservatives have so rightly criticized over the years at home. There is, of course, an element in this critique of President Bush's policies that echoes in part the contemporary liberal version of isolationism. The old isolationism of the 1920s and 1930s was a conservative isolationism, and it held that America should not go abroad into the world because America is too good for the world. The contemporary liberal brand of isolationism-the Michael Moore view of the world-is that America should not be deeply involved in the world because the world is too good for America. This is not a serious argument, even though seriously held.

The serious argument over nation building is an argument conducted between conservatives of good will with one another. On the one hand, we have a school broadly called the realist school, and on the other hand, there is a school associated with Woodrow Wilson and his crusading zeal for the export of democracy. President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair, two intelligent and very good men, have in them a large share of Wilson's crusading messianic spirit, a spirit that is quite natural to America. Once you enunciate a country founded on principles that have universality written in them, as our Declaration of Independence does-i.e., "all men are created equal . . . endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights"-a kind of universal eligibility for these rights is postulated. What the realists remind us is that over time, it is the details that matter.

President Bush has said, in a phrase he got from Ronald Reagan, that it is cultural condescension to say that some people are not ready for democracy. Tony Blair, in July 2003, after the fall of Baghdad, came before a joint session of Congress and gave a wonderful, generous, good ally speech, in which he said that it is a "myth" that our values are simply "Western values," or simply a product of our culture. Our principles, he said, are "universal," embraced by all "ordinary people." The problem is that this belief-that every person is at heart a Jeffersonian Democrat, that all the masses of the world are ready for democracy-might lead you not to plan very carefully for post-war nation building. If this is true, then nation building should be a snap, because everyone is ready for democracy.

Realists know better. They know there was a long, 572-year uphill march from Runnymede to the Philadelphia Convention of 1787. Even more sobering, our Constitutional Convention was followed in less than 75 years by the bloodiest Civil War the world had ever seen, to settle some leftover constitutional questions. We know from our history how difficult regime change is. When the president speaks of regime change, he is using a term from Aristotle. For Aristotle, changing a regime did not mean substituting a
few public officials for other public officials. For Aristotle, a regime meant the habits, mores, customs, dispositions, public philosophy, and culture of politics that sustain public institutions. Therefore, regime change is statecraft and soulcraft; it is changing the temperament of a people. It is very complicated.

Major League Baseball managers often say in spring training that they are just two players away from a World Series. Unfortunately, the two players are Ruth and Gehrig. Likewise, Iraq is just four statesmen away from sturdy constitutionalism. All they need is a George Washington, a charismatic figure to unify the nation; a James Madison, a genius of constitutional architecture; an Alexander Hamilton, who can create from whole cloth a functioning economy; and a John Marshall, a jurist who knows how to change a constitution from words on parchment into a breathing, functioning document. Most of all, of course, they need the astonishingly rich social soil of America in the second half of the 18th century from which Washington, Madison, Hamilton and Marshall sprang. All of which is to say that Iraq may not be close to constitutional democracy just yet.

The Miracle of America

I say this not to disparage the Iraqi people but to increase our appreciation of what a miracle the United States is. John Adams said that the American Revolution was accomplished before the Battles of Lexington and Concord. Everyone used to learn-we do not learn these things anymore-Emerson's great poem about the battle of Concord's bridge: "by the rude bridge that arched the flood/their flag to April's breeze unfurled/here once the embattled farmers stood/and fired the shot heard round the world." But before that shot was fired, according to John Adams, independence had already been accomplished, because the spirit of independence was in the
hearts and minds of the American people, a people prepared to shed blood in defense of their God-given natural rights.

One of the mistakes our enemies have made-and one of the reasons I wish our enemies would study American history to disabuse themselves of some of their grotesque errors-is their belief that we are squeamish about defending freedom and about the violence of war. They persist in the assumption that we are casualty averse. Osama Bin Laden said as much after the Somalia debacle when President Clinton, after suffering some casualties, immediately withdrew American forces. Whether or not we should have been in Somalia is another matter, but the means by which we left Somalia clearly convinced our enemies that we were paper tigers. People have been making that mistake since General Howe made it in the Battle of Brooklyn Heights in the Revolutionary War. He chased us across the East River and figured that was that. It was said again after the Battle of Shiloh in April 1862-up to that day the bloodiest day in American history. Many observers thought the North would sue for accommodation and, in the words of Horace Greeley, let our erring sisters go in peace. It did not turn out that way.

A few days after Shiloh, some men were seen on the still corpse-strewn fields of northern Maryland, men carrying strange devices. They were from Mathew Brady's photography studio in New York, and they took pictures. Three months later, these photos became an exhibit of devastating impact in Manhattan called "The Dead of Antietam." It was the first time graphic journalism had brought the real face of war to a democratic public. And it raised the question that to this day affects us and troubles political leaders: Does graphic journalism-first photography and then, of course, television-that brings war into our living rooms, in real time, cause nations to crack when they see the real face of battle?

The First World War produced the worst carnage the world had ever seen, but not once during the war did a picture of a dead Brit or dead Frenchman or dead German or dead American soldier appear in a newspaper of any of those countries. In the Second World War, the first picture of an American soldier dead in the surf in the Pacific did not appear in Life magazine until it had been held up in the War Department (as the Pentagon was then known) for nine months. The war in Vietnam produced more anxiety about graphic journalism, where it was suggested that in fact it was television that caused the American will to break. In fact, the American will never broke-but that is another matter. This has been a constant recurring anxiety in America, as Winston Churchill could have told us-and in fact did tell us when he came to North America immediately after Pearl Harbor. Churchill gave a speech in which he said, "We have not journeyed all this way across the centuries, across the oceans, across the mountains, across the prairies, because we are made of sugar candy." No, we are not. We are much tougher than our enemies understand.

Character and the Power of Ideas

One hundred years ago, people believed not only that war was inevitable, but that war was good for us. Without it, they thought, we would have to look for strenuous domestic challenges that would be the moral equivalent of war- something elevating that would pull us out of ourselves and into great collective endeavors as war does. Tocqueville said, "war almost always enlarges the thought of a people and elevates its heart." Stravinsky, the great composer, said war is "necessary for human progress." All of these men echoed Immanuel Kant, who said "a prolonged peace favors the predominance of a mere commercial spirit, and with it a debasing self-interest, cowardice, and effeminacy and tends to degrade the character
of the nation."

There is much to be said for the commercial spirit, because the commercial spirit is a civilizing spirit. It is a spirit conducive to cooperation among peoples and within a political community. We are today engaged in a great race to see if we can integrate China into the community of nations with less catastrophic violence then that which accompanied the attempt 100 years ago to integrate the newly muscular and buoyant and dynamic nation of Germany into the community of nations. In the 33 years since President Nixon went to China in 1972, Republicans and Democrats alike have followed the same national policy, which holds that if we can only suffuse China with the commercial spirit, it can be tranquilized and made civilized. The reason for believing this is that commerce, entrepreneurship, and all the various elements of capitalism form an enveloping, civilizing culture.

Capitalism requires the diffusion of decision-making and the diffusion of information. Capitalism requires contracts-a culture of promise-keeping enforced by the judicial system. It requires banks to make self-interested, calculated, and rational allocations of wealth and opportunity. It sublimates the troublesome passions of mankind into improving the material well-being of people. It is for this reason that what we want to do with the fever swamps of the Middle East that produce our enemies is to try and drain those swamps and bring to them enterprise cultures. It is altogether right that Paul Wolfowitz, one of the architects of the war against Iraq, is now going to the World Bank where he can try and help the next stage of development, which is to spread the commercial spirit. In some ways, this is the American spirit.

On the other hand, as Tocqueville warned us, if a people is only concerned with material well-being, only concerned with commercialism, they lack
something-they lack the heights of nobility and character and aspiration. But first things first: get people into this enveloping culture of capitalism. Nor is this to say that we Americans are a materialist people. The stupidest political slogan I have heard in three-and-a-half decades in Washington was the Clinton slogan in 1992, "It's the economy, stupid." The American people almost never vote their pocketbook as is commonly said, and almost never vote merely on economics. We are a much more morally serious and complicated people than that.

In the 1790s, our party system began to coalesce with, on the one hand, Jefferson advocating a sturdy yeoman republic, a static society of the kind he lived in, and, on the other hand, Hamilton urging a speculative, entrepreneurial society with a system of credit, a dynamic urban society. Hamilton's "Report on Manufactures" was obviously couched in economic terms, but it was not about economics at all. It was about national character and what kind of people we would be. Later, Andrew Jackson defined modern democratic populist politics with his attack on the Bank of the United States. It was not about a bank; it was about morality. He argued that speculators earn their dishonest living through banks. Jackson did not understand much about the modern world or capitalism, but he held that people who earn their living that way are bad people. He thought it was bad for the soul. And throughout our history it has not mattered whether we were arguing about abolitionism, immigration, prohibition or desegregation. All of the great arguments that have roiled American politics over the years have not been pocketbook issues. They have been about the soul of the country and what kind of people we would be.

Well, the kind of people we are is a people who rise to the challenge of the new kind of enemy we have today. Our enemy has ideas. They are vicious, bad, retrograde, medieval, intolerant, and suicidal ideas, but ideas nevertheless. And we oppose them with the great ideas of freedom and democracy, which America has defined better than anyone in the world. And we turn to these people with an energy they could not have counted on. Edward Grey once said, "The United States is like a gigantic boiler. Once the fire is lighted under it, there is no limit to the power it can generate." And these enemies improvidently lit a fire under us.

We have done this before. In September 1942, General Les McGraw of the Army Corps of Engineers bought for the government about 90,000 acres of Tennessee wilderness. There was nothing there-no roads, no towns, nothing. It was along the Clinch River, in eastern Tennessee, not far from Knoxville. But very soon there were streets and shops and schools and homes and some of the finest physics labs the world had ever seen. And 35 months later, on a desert in New Mexico, there was a flash brighter than a thousand suns and the atomic age began. Thirty-five months from wilderness to Alamogordo. That is what America does when aroused, because, as I say, we are not made of sugar candy.

Today we are the legatees of all the giants on whose shoulders we stand. We live in circumstances our parents did not live in, or our grandparents. We live in a time in which there is no rival model to the American model for how to run a modern industrial commercial society. Socialism is gone. Fascism is gone. Al-Qaeda has no rival model about how to run a modern society. Al-Qaeda has a howl of rage against the idea of modernity. We began in 1945 an astonishingly clear social experiment: We divided the city of Berlin, the country of Germany, the continent of Europe, indeed the whole world, and we had a test. On one side was the socialist model that says that society is best run by edicts, issued from a coterie of experts from above.

The American model, on the other hand, called for a maximum dispersal of decision-making and information markets allocating wealth and opportunity. The results are clear: We are here, they are not. The Soviet Union tried for 70 years to plant Marxism with bayonets in Eastern Europe. Today there are more Marxists on the Harvard faculty than there are in Eastern Europe.

We must struggle today with the fact that the doctrine of preemption is necessary, and with the serious problems it entails. But what we must have overall is the confidence that our ideas are right. I grew up in Lincoln country and I am reminded that in 1859, with war clouds lowering over the country, Abraham Lincoln gave a speech at the Wisconsin State Fair. In the course of this speech, Lincoln told the story of an Eastern despot who summoned his wise men and gave them an assignment. Go away and think, he said, and come back and give me a proposition to be carved in stone to be forever in view and forever true. The wise men went away and came back some days later, and the proposition they gave to him was: "And this, too, shall pass away." Lincoln said: perhaps not. If we Americans cultivate our inner lives and our moral selves as industriously and productively as we cultivate the material world around us, he said, then perhaps we of all peoples can long endure. He was right. We have and we shall persevere, in no small measure because of the plucky brand of people, true to these ideas, such as those that have formed around the college we here celebrate tonight.