Monday, February 1, 2010

How can a world of debauched people be saved?

Yesterdays post was about the book State Secrets: An Insider’s Chronicle of the Russian Chemical Weapons Program by Vil. S. Mirzayanov which was about the development of chemical weapons and nerve gasses. The whole subject is distasteful and the worst part wasn’t the perfecting the techniques for killing — that has been going on since the very beginning of life itself. What was most disturbing to me was the keen intelligence of the author and yet his willingness, even eagerness to participate in this kind of research and development. It saddens me because I have encountered that attitude time and time again when meeting with famous scientists. What bothers me is what fine people they are and how dedicated they seem to be in trying to make the world a better place. The people I have known have been associated with designing and deploying H-bombs and not nerve gasses but the end results of their research is going to be the same — lots of mostly innocent human beings dieing agonizing deaths.

What may seem strange to most people is that these scientists were not doing their creative work for the money! The author of this book, Dr. Mirzayanov, when in prison, tells the story of a conversation with a murder who claimed to spend more on women every night, before entering prison, than this world-class research scientist earned in a month.

I don’t believe these brilliant scientists were evil and that their motivation was in the least motivated by wanting to destroy other human beings. The ones I have met have been some of the most pleasant people one could hope to meet. And yet … they create these horrible weapons.

It isn’t because these extraordinarily intelligent men haven’t thought about the outcomes of their research and development. J. Robert Oppenheimer famously said on seeing his first atom bomb explode at Alamogordo, ”Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.” And yet he went on developing weapons until forced to quit because of his suspected possible loyalties to communists. I met privately with him at his house in Princeton and we talked for half an hour. I found him to be one of the friendliest and most considerate, of my personal feelings about things, of anyone with whom I have ever spoken. This was heart felt honesty. You can convincingly fake being nasty much easier than fake being a really decent person and he was a decent person.

One would doubt that these scientists (politicians and everyone else) motivation be, the gaining of respect of the other people in their chosen fields of science, when so many of their companions end up treating them so very badly? Dr. Mirzayanov’s gives many examples, in his book, of ugly behavior by those with whom he supposedly is on the best of terms. He is photographed with looking as comfortable with some of these others as a couple of lovers and yet they easily get ugly and deceitful. Oppenheimer had very similar problems with his companions, such as with Edward Teller.

Perhaps they were seeking public fame. This seems unlikely because most scientist types, and certainly the ones mentioned in this post were reputed to be very private people. Perhaps they wanted some personal self adulation and the public adoration was only some sort of proof of their self aggrandisement.

Or is it possible, as I wrote a couple of days ago in, Is a perfect world possible?

Perhaps unlimited debauchery is the natural human condition.

Each human being is only seeking their own form of debauchery and for these scientists it is found in research. The simple fact that their work is destructive of humanity doesn’t compute in their equations for unlimited satisfaction for their personal form of debauchery.

State Secrets by probaway

State Secrets: Russian Chemical Weapons – review

State Secrets: An Insider’s Chronicle of the Russian Chemical Weapons Program by Vil. S. Mirzayanov is for me a very scary book for several reasons. (1) You can’t trust a nation’s leadership to tell the truth even when they are making solemn international agreements. (2) You can’t expect the legal processes to reliably release innocent people. (3) You can’t expect the formal powers that are in control to follow clearly stated laws when it conflicts with their own self-interest. (4) You can’t expect scientists to keep secret their success in creating novel new ways of killing people. (5) You can’t expect the details of how to create these new ways to be kept secret from other governments. (6) You can’t expect that the exact methods for creating these horrible new war gasses from becoming common knowledge and easily available on the internet.

My take home message after reading this book: This book is a must read for all policy makers of the world because it illustrates why it is so important to have verifiability of instituted agreements. Making fine sounding laws written up into eloquent text and spoken by refined politicians with perfect idealistic rhetoric means absolutely nothing and in fact may be counterproductive without a mechanism for checking to make sure everyone is obeying the agreements. This requires numerous parties with conflicting interests traveling into the mutually antagonistic situations with different supporters to be able to check everywhere and at any time for compliance. Furthermore, there must be built-in instantaneous punishments for noncompliance. This can be done by having each independent party having something of great value to them already submitted to an escrow holding authority and held in common by the other parties which can be taken away immediately.

If one of the parties can circumvent the agreed upon conventions then they have an advantage and if they can keep it a secret they have a double advantage, if they can keep the other from developing the parallel advantage they have a triple advantage and if they end up deploying the item, such as a super poison gas weapon, they have an ultimate advantage. That is why the inspecting teams must already have in their possession the power to punish the transgressors instantly. Punishment after “thoughtful deliberations” for transgression is futile because there is always plenty of weasel room in post negotiations.

This all seems obvious but the book shows that even as major chemical warfare agreements were being drawn up between the USSR and the Western Powers, there were cunning efforts by the USSR to write out of the negotiations subtle precursor war chemicals which could easily be hidden in standard agricultural insecticide production. Thus, there could be developed a vast weapons program which could easily be hidden. Apparently thousands of tons of these precursor chemicals were stockpiled for near instant use even though the chemicals themselves were relatively benign. The contending countries were developing what are called binary weapons which mixed the relatively safe precursor chemicals in special artillery shells after they had been fired from a standard gun. Using these techniques relatively safe “agricultural chemicals” could be transported to a battle field without violating the carefully negotiated conventions. This is a policy of infinitely evil. It is hypocrisy carried to the ultimate and it will lead to the destruction of common humanity.

At great risk to his life Dr. Mirzayanov had worked for years helping to develop these chemical weapons and then at what appeared to be even greater risk to his life he became a whistle-blower on the hypocrisy of their development. He published an article called A Poisoned Policy which exposed the Russian political duplicity on this issue, without revealing any secret formulas. He was brought before the judicial system of the old USSR with a recent veneer of a new more democratic constitution but the enforcers of this new system were still of the old mentality. Although eventually declared innocent of the charges he was subjected to months of prison confinement before and during a secret trial. The confinment was so brutal it can only be assumed that it was intended to sicken and kill him “accidently” and thus eliminate their judicial problem.

In my proposed beautiful new world of the distant future Weapons of Extermination ( WOEs ) must not only be unavailable they must he absolutely hidden and those who seek them or the knowledge of how to make them must be eliminated. That may be harsh to these few intentionally evil people but it is kind to the vast numbers of innocent ones who won’t die because of these chemists wicked actions.

In the future world we may have peace— in the present world, it is impossible.