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From My Corner

by Howell Hurst

Smarts and Intelligence

Jan 06, 2018

A massively intriguing and well-documented current book should be read by anyone seriously interested in understanding America’s frustrating position against terrorism.

It is titled: “The Secret State, A History of Intelligence and Espionage.” I am not enamored of the book because I was once a U.S. Army Intelligence Captain. Mine was a very low level Intelligence job. However, this book is very impressive, fascinating, and extremely well written.

The book’s writer is a former British Intelligence Colonel, now a military historian, named John Hughes-Wilson. He does not claim, as does Mr. Trump, that some secret political force runs America. He simply reports dramatically how vital intelligence and intelligence are to a country’s survival in this age of terrorism.

When you compare Trump’s assertion that he knows more than America’s Intelligence sources with Hughes-Wilson’s real Intelligence evaluation, you begin to see what an intellectual vacuum of self-obsession Trump labors within.

You discover in Hughes-Wilson’s explanations what will surely dictate who actually wins this battle. Particularly you see this if you accept that America is struggling with fanatic ideological terrorists who have entranced poorly-educated, politically-disenfranchised people worldwide (including even some Americans).

This book is strikingly timely. It is far more interesting and vital than anything on American TV, or in the words of Internet bloggers. It is pithy. It is detailed. And it is written with similar passion and fervor of topnotch novelists.

The most convincing point Hughes-Wilson makes is that the fanatic ideological terrorists, as have all terrorists historically, will eventually destroy themselves by internal infighting.

This, he makes clear, is not just what will finally defeat them – but becomes, rather, our key to taking them down. This battle is not going to be won with high tech weapons of mass destruction. It hinges on the fragility of the human mind.

Terrorism is a war based on intelligence (smarts) and Intelligence (knowledge). Its defeat requires intimate understanding of the terrorists’ mental state, plus persistent in-depth detail of their physical locations, movements, finances, and ideological fantasies.

Paranoia evolves in terrorist history as the fundamental weak point that undermines their strategy. They habitually begin to mistrust one another and through infighting eat themselves up internally.

This provides us the rational means to help them end themselves. They either have to be infiltrated to a degree they begin to mistrust themselves, or be deceived so thoroughly that they dare not trust one another. Hughes-Wilson spells out how this is accomplished by astute opposing minds.

There is no doubt that the zealous terrorists view the U.S. as their prime enemy. They abhor our freedom of expression: our admittedly-flawed but still intrinsic sense of sexual, religious, political, economic, emotional equality.

The prime weapon of terrorists is fear. Terrorist martyr attacks create deep anxiety among a nation’s population. What becomes the necessity for us then? How do we combat this fear?

Only Intelligence and intelligent strategies can bring us the victory we seek. We are battling self-proclaimed grieved zealots. And we have weaknesses of our own to overcome. Ideological weaknesses, Intelligence weaknesses.

One of our advantages is that the American public is not intrinsically against Defense. But Americans are also not wholeheartedly for the inordinately expensive weapons-of-mass-destruction strategy of American defense profit seekers.

The billions of dollars being spent on the profit-motivated manufacture and deployment of weapons will not defeat terrorism. Our present fascination with ill-designed physical weapons will not send us across any imagined goal line.

There must be deep public support for winning the struggle against an irrational terrorist ideology. That includes our coping with and resolving the various grievances of our own home-grown discontented and would-be terrorists; those lost souls who turn against the basic humane norms of historical U.S. values.

When our president is ruled by his own narcissistic self-obsession, rather than by a rational assessment of our country’s Security and Intelligence system, we are rejecting the history lesson that tells us all wars are eventually won on sound – or unsound - Intelligence.

American Intelligence has made many mistakes in the past. But American Intelligence has learned a lot from its mistakes. It is time now for the leader of the United States to be a person capable of using rational intelligence to guide and heed U.S.

Intelligence. It is also time the American public absorbed this concept and made sure such a person ends up inhabiting the White House.

There is no better place to begin than John Hughes-Wilson’s book: “The Secret State, A History of Intelligence and Espionage.” It is far more intellectually sound, emotionally sensitive, and mindfully profitable than its unfortunate title proposes. I suggest you buy it and read it before you watch more TV news or dig deeper into more Internet babble.

Trump vs Truth


The historical writer Arthur Hoyle comments at a farsighted point in his excellent biography of Henry Miller that eventually, “we shall see whether the ability to make money and the ability to survive are one and the same.”

America’s flirtation with its richly-unread president tests this premise to the limit. Never has the country elevated to such a high level one so uneducated, purely on the basis of his ability to ruthlessly scoop money into his bank accounts.

One must search far to discover men more different than Donald Trump and Henry Miller. Miller, all-too-narrowly known for his sexually explicit writing, was an extremely well-read man, whose total body of writing was far more profound and far-reaching than his earliest books suggested.

Particularly, Miller wrote in the same vein as Thoreau and Whitman: from a somewhat mystical perspective of mankind as the tiniest possible, but most important, speck of life in an unfathomably immense and controversial universe.

Meanwhile, Trump twitters solely and persistently from the most superficially possible perspective: his own earthly self-aggrandizement. Miller was seeking an understanding of humanity. Trump seeks the financial bottom line.

Trump, who never exhibits any tendency toward self reflection, let alone humility, glorifies the acquisition of wealth. Miller stands for the idealistic concept of humanity capable of constituting its own divinity. The difference between the two viewpoints could hardly be more pronounced.

Following The State of The Union address, the adjective that comes to my mind describing America at this point is: “tragic.”

As example, note that Trump poses the U.S.’s nuclear arsenal and his desire to massively update it, as a necessity – since, he explains, humans are not yet ready to discard it. For him, that justifies the expansion of this obscenity.

Any thought that his political role might require him to lead the world in discarding atomic weapons utterly eludes his intellectual grasp. He never mentions the billions of dollars of profits to be earned by so many as he guides America toward this goal.

Consecutively, the most tragic aspect of our nation’s political condition at the moment is the supine complicity of America’s middle class with Mr. Trump’s ambitions. Much of mainstream press has passively declined comment on many of his viewpoints, as have members of the political party he has so distorted, and even a few Democrats.

This glib professional salesman has finally learned how, via teleprompter, to turn the phrases that appeal to the largely-inarticulate middle class. He begins now with his speech-writers’ words, to attempt to enlarge his supportive voting base.

This moment is reminiscent of pre-World War II, when Great Britain’s leaders began to believe the words of another master of propaganda. And did so despite the accumulated facts contradicting their naïve embrace of his counterfeit rhetoric.

Trump has belittled America’s science; he has belittled the world’s environment; he has belittled various of its races; he has denied factual truths; he has exalted lies. And, as their advertising dollars have flowed, our media have gradually become remarkably complicit.

One can begin to foresee another seven years of this distortion of truth. When the people of a country dismiss such destructive actions, camouflaged by manufactured alternative truths, a disastrous line is crossed.

When a nation’s people begin to trade in truth for well-mouthed words, promising them security from imagined enemies, such as desperate refugee immigrants, the die begin to be cast for a perilous future.

It has been said, and proven time and again by domineering autocratic personalities, that if one tells a lie long enough, a nation’s people will eventually accept it as truth.

The truth of this trite saying appears to be emerging in America.

The danger to anticipate is whether a narcissistically sociopathic personality may become a psychopathic one. If it does, its emergence will lie directly at the feet of a American middle class insecure about its own culture. And the consequences to them will be formidable.

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