Monday, December 18, 2017

John F. Kennedy's Vision of Peace



What comes through is that Kennedy was essentially alone in his struggle to stave of conflict.  Yet he did succeed in backing down the rush to nuclear war with Russia, but actually that was sustained because the generals then dove into Vietnam and this bled them sober.

Vietnam stopped military adventurism for a good generation until we were forced into the Gulf War.  Now we have watched another cycle of been bled out in Iraq and Afghanistan.  That is three wars in which military power proved impossible to impose a peace or a satisfactory outcome.

They honestly have never understood just how lucky they were to have Mac Arthur  operate the Japanese reconstruction in particular.  Just that has been sorely missing everywhere else.

Iraq fell apart under reconstruction through blindingly stupid mistakes by folks whose interest supported neither US or Iraqi interests.

No one gets it but the USA has today a natural ally in Russia to accomplish the following:

1  Forming an United States of Europe with corrected borders including Russia and accepting Eastern Christianity as a dominant evangelizing force likely naturally subsuming Catholicism and other forms.

2  It can be expected that leadership will be initially Russian but power will also be moral at that level with real decisions been influenced by the rule of twelve and a range of legistlative structures.

3  Confront Islam and absorb it though natural conversion driven by simply insisting that everyone reads and understands the koan and the inherent conflicts with Christian teaching.  In that situation is is hard to see Islam as sustainable.

That is the historical trend line and it is coming quickly.

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John F. Kennedy's Vision of Peace

On the 50th anniversary of JFK's death, his nephew recalls the fallen president's attempts to halt the war machine

President John F. Kennedy at work in the Oval office in 1962. George Tames/The New York Times

By Robert F. Kennedy Jr.November 20, 2013

http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/john-f-kennedys-vision-of-peace-20131120

On November 22nd, 1963, my uncle, president John F. Kennedy, went to Dallas intending to condemn as "nonsense" the right-wing notion that "peace is a sign of weakness." He meant to argue that the best way to demonstrate American strength was not by using destructive weapons and threats but by being a nation that "practices what it preaches about equal rights and social justice," striving toward peace instead of "aggressive ambitions." Despite the Cold War rhetoric of his campaign, JFK's greatest ambition as president was to break the militaristic ideology that has dominated our country since World War II. He told his close friend Ben Bradlee that he wanted the epitaph "He kept the peace," and said to another friend, William Walton, "I am almost a 'peace at any price' president." Hugh Sidey, a journalist and friend, wrote that the governing aspect of JFK's leadership was "a total revulsion" of war. Nevertheless, as James W. Douglass argues in his book JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters, JFK's presidency would be a continuous struggle with his own military and intelligence agencies, which engaged in incessant schemes to trap him into escalating the Cold War into a hot one. His first major confrontation with the Pentagon, the Bay of Pigs catastrophe, came only three months into his presidency and would set the course for the next 1,000 days.

JFK's predecessor, Dwight D. Eisenhower, had finalized support on March 17th, 1960, for a Cuban invasion by anti-Castro insurgents, but the wily general left its execution to the incoming Kennedy team. From the start, JFK recoiled at the caper's stench, as CIA Director Allen Dulles has acknowledged, demanding assurances from CIA and Pentagon brass that there was no chance of failure and that there would be no need for U.S. military involvement. Dulles and the generals knowingly lied and gave him those guarantees.

When the invasion failed, JFK refused to order airstrikes against Castro. Realizing he had been drawn into a trap, he told his top aides, David Powers and Kenneth O'Donnell, "They were sure I'd give in to them and send the go-ahead order to the [U.S. Navy aircraft carrier] Essex. They couldn't believe that a new president like me wouldn't panic and try to save his own face. Well, they had me figured all wrong." JFK was realizing that the CIA posed a monumental threat to American democracy. As the brigade faltered, he told Arthur Schlesinger that he wanted to "splinter the CIA into a thousand pieces and scatter it to the winds."

The next confrontation with the defense and intelligence establishments had already begun as JFK resisted pressure from Eisenhower, the Joint Chiefs and the CIA to prop up the CIA's puppet government in Laos against the communist Pathet Lao guerrillas. The military wanted 140,000 ground troops, with some officials advocating for nuclear weapons. "If it hadn't been for Cuba," JFK told Schlesinger, "we might be about to intervene in Laos. I might have taken this advice seriously." JFK instead signed a neutrality agreement the following year and was joined by 13 nations, including the Soviet Union.

His own instincts against intervening with American combat forces in Laos were fortified that April by the judgment of retired Gen. Douglas MacArthur, America's undisputed authority on fighting wars in Asia. Referring to Dulles' mischief in Southeast Asia during the Eisenhower years, MacArthur told JFK, "The chickens are coming home to roost, and [you] live in the chicken coop." MacArthur added a warning that ought to still resonate today: "Anyone wanting to commit American ground forces to the mainland of Asia should have his head examined."

About six months into his administration, JFK went to Vienna to meet Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev with high hopes of beginning a process of d├ętente and mutual nuclear disarmament. Khrushchev met his proposals with bombast and truculent indifference. The Joint Chiefs and the CIA, which had fulminated about JFK's notion of negotiating with the Soviets, were relieved by the summit's failure. Six weeks later, military and intelligence leaders responded by unveiling their proposal for a pre-emptive thermonuclear attack on the Soviet Union, to be launched sometime in late 1963. JFK stormed away from the meeting in disgust, remarking scathingly to Secretary of State Dean Rusk, "And we call ourselves the human race."

As JFK's relationship with his military-intelligence apparatus deteriorated, a remarkable relationship with Khrushchev began. Both were battle-hardened war veterans seeking a path to rapprochement and disarmament, encircled by militarists clamoring for war. In Kennedy's case, both the Pentagon and the CIA believed war with the Soviets was inevitable and therefore desirable in the short term while we still had the nuclear advantage. In the autumn of 1961, as retired Gen. Lucius Clay, who had taken a civilian post in Berlin, launched a series of unauthorized provocations against the Soviets, Khrushchev began an extraordinary secret correspondence with JFK. With the Berlin crisis moving toward nuclear Armageddon, Khrushchev turned to KGB agent Georgi Bolshakov, a top Soviet spy in Washington, to communicate directly with JFK. Bolshakov, to the horror of the U.S. State Department, was a friend of my parents and a frequent guest at our home. Bolshakov smuggled a letter, the first of 21 declassified in 1993, to JFK's press secretary, Pierre Salinger, in a folded newspaper. In it, Khrushchev expressed regret about Vienna and embraced JFK's proposal for a path to peace and disarmament.

On October 27th, Gen. Clay made an unauthorized armed threat to knock down the Berlin Wall using tanks equipped with dozer plows, seeking to provoke the Soviets into some action that would justify a nuclear first strike. The Kremlin responded with its own tanks, which met Clay's forces at the border crossing known as Checkpoint Charlie. A 16-hour face-off ensued. Through my father, Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, and Bolshakov, JFK promised that if Khrushchev withdrew his tanks within 24 hours, the U.S. would pull back 20 minutes later. Khrushchev took the risk, and JFK kept his word. Two weeks later, with tensions still running, Khrushchev sent a second letter to JFK: "I have no ground to retreat further, there is a precipice behind [me]." Kennedy realized that Khrushchev, too, was surrounded by a powerful military and intelligence complex intent on going to war. After the confrontation, Gen. Clay railed against JFK's unwillingness to "face the risk of nuclear war" against the Soviets.

One year later, on October 16th, 1962, Kennedy saw aerial photographs proving that the Soviets had installed nuclear missiles in Cuba capable of reaching much of the eastern U.S. seaboard. The next 13 days were the most perilous in mankind's history. From the outset, the Pentagon, the CIA and many of JFK's advisers urged airstrikes and a U.S. invasion of the island that, as a Soviet military commander later revealed, would have triggered a nuclear war with the Soviets. JFK opted for a blockade, which Soviet ships respected. By October 26th, the standoff was de-escalating. Then, on October 27th, the crisis reignited when Soviet forces shot down a U.S. reconnaissance plane, killing its pilot, Maj. Rudolf Anderson. Almost immediately, the brass demanded overwhelming retaliation to destroy the Soviet missile sites. Meanwhile, Castro pushed the Kremlin military machine toward a devastating first strike. In a secret meeting with Ambassador Anatoly Dobrynin, my father told him, "If the situation continues much longer, the president is not sure that the military will not overthrow him and seize power." U.S. marshals appeared at our house to take us to government bunkers in western Virginia. My brother Joe and I were anxious to go, if only to see the setup. But my father, who'd spent the previous six nights at the White House, called to say that we needed to be "good soldiers" and show up for school in Washington. To disappear, he told us, would cause public panic. That night, many people in our government went to sleep wondering if they would wake up dead.

On Monday, October 29th, the world moved back from the brink. An artfully drafted letter my father wrote with Ted Sorensen pledging that the U.S. would not invade Cuba – plus JFK's secret agreement with Khrushchev to withdraw obsolete Jupiter missiles from Turkey – persuaded the Kremlin to back down.

My father was not exaggerating to Dobrynin the fragility of White House control over the military. During the 13 days, the president's hold on power became increasingly tenuous as spooks and generals, apoplectic at JFK's reluctance to attack Cuba, engaged in dozens of acts of insubordination designed to trigger a nuclear exchange. CIA spymaster William Harvey screamed at the president and my father during a White House meeting: "We wouldn't be in such trouble now if you guys had some balls in the Bay of Pigs." Defense analyst Daniel Ellsberg, who years later leaked the Pentagon Papers, reported, "There was virtually a coup atmosphere in Pentagon circles." Incensed brass were in a state of disbelief at what they considered bald treason by the president. Spoiling for a war to end all wars, Gen. Curtis LeMay, the man who pioneered the use of napalm against civilians in Tokyo during World War II, found consolation by allowing himself to believe all was not lost. "Why don't we go in there and make a strike on Monday anyway?" LeMay said, as he watched the crisis subside.

Khrushchev said afterward that Kennedy had won his "deep respect" during the crisis: "He didn't let himself become frightened, nor did he become reckless. . . . He showed real wisdom and statesmanship when he turned his back on the right-wing forces in the United States who were trying to goad him into taking military action against Cuba."

Today it's fashionable to view the quagmire of Vietnam as a continuum beginning under Eisenhower and steadily escalating through the Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon administrations. But JFK was wary of the conflict from the outset and determined to end U.S. involvement at the time of his death.

JFK inherited a deteriorative dilemma. When Eisenhower left office, there were by official count 685 military advisers in Vietnam, sent there to help the government of President Ngo Dinh Diem in its battle against the South Vietnamese guerrillas known as the Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese soldiers deployed by Communist ruler Ho Chi Minh, who was intent on reunifying his country. Eisenhower explained that "the loss of South Vietnam would set in motion a crumbling process that could, as it progressed, have grave consequences for us." Ho Chi Minh's popularity in the south had already led Dulles' CIA to sabotage national elections required by the Geneva Accords, which had ended France's colonial rule, and to prop up Diem's crooked puppet government, which was tenuously hanging on to power against the Communists. Back at home, Republican militarists were charging JFK with "losing Laos" and badgering him to ramp up our military commitment.

In JFK's first months in office, the Pentagon asked him to deploy ground troops into Vietnam. JFK agreed to send another 500 advisers, under the assumption that South Vietnam had a large army and would be able to defend itself against communist aggression. He refused to send ground troops but would eventually commit 16,500 advisers – fewer troops than he sent to Mississippi to integrate Ole Miss – who were technically forbidden from engaging in combat missions. He told New York Times columnist Arthur Krock in 1961 that the United States should not involve itself "in civil disturbances created by guerrillas."

For three years, that refusal to send combat troops earned him the antipathy of both liberals and conservatives who rebuked him for "throwing in the towel" in the Cold War. His critics included not just the traditionally bellicose Joint Chiefs and the CIA, but also trusted advisers and friends, including Gen. Maxwell Taylor; Defense Secretary Robert McNamara; McNamara's deputy, Roswell Gilpatric; and Secretary of State Rusk. JFK's ambassador to South Vietnam, Frederick Nolting Jr., reported a "virtually unanimous desire for the introduction of the U.S. forces into Vietnam" by the Vietnamese "in various walks of life." When Vice President Lyndon Johnson visited Vietnam in May 1961, he returned adamant that victory required U.S. combat troops. Virtually every one of JFK's senior staff concurred. Yet JFK resisted. Saigon, he said, would have to fight its own war.

As a stalling tactic, he sent Gen. Taylor to Vietnam on a fact-finding mission in September 1961. 

Taylor was among my father's best friends. JFK was frank with Taylor – he needed a military man to advise him to get out of Vietnam. According to Taylor, "The last thing he wanted was to put in ground forces. And I knew that." Nevertheless, Taylor was persuaded by hysterical military and intelligence experts across the Pacific, and had angered JFK when he came back recommending U.S. intervention. To prevent the fall of South Vietnam, Taylor suggested sending 8,000 U.S. troops under the guise of "flood relief" – a number that McNamara said was a reasonable start but should be escalated to as many as "six divisions, or about 205,000 men." Later, Taylor would say, "I don't recall anyone who was strongly against [sending troops to Vietnam] except one man, and that was the president."

Frustrated by Taylor's report, JFK then sent a confirmed pacifist, John Kenneth Galbraith, to Vietnam to make the case for nonintervention. But JFK confided his political weakness to Galbraith. "You have to realize," JFK said, "that I can only afford so many defeats in one year." He had the Bay of Pigs and the pulling out of Laos. He couldn't accept a third. Former Vice President Richard Nixon and the CIA's Dulles, whom JFK had fired, were loudly advocating U.S. military intervention in Vietnam, while Asian dominoes tumbled. Even The New York Timesagreed. "The present situation," the paper had warned, "is one that brooks no further stalling." This was accepted wisdom among America's leading foreign-policy gurus. Public sympathies in the summer of 1963 were 2-to-1 for intervention.

Despite the drumbeat from the left and right, JFK refused to send in combat troops. "They want a force of American troops," JFK told Schlesinger. "They say it's necessary in order to restore confidence and maintain morale. But it will be just like Berlin. The troops will march in, the bands will play, the crowds will cheer, and in four days everyone will have forgotten. Then we will be told we have to send in more troops. It's like taking a drink. The effect wears off and you have to have another."

In 1967, Daniel Ellsberg interviewed my father. Ellsberg, a wavering war hawk and Marine veteran, was researching the history of the Vietnam War. He had seen the mountains of warmongering memos, advice and pressure. Ellsberg asked my father how JFK had managed to stand against the virtually unanimous tide of pro-war sentiment. My father explained that his brother did not want to follow France into a war of rich against poor, white versus Asian, on the side of imperialism and colonialism against nationalism and self-determination. Pressing my father, Ellsberg asked whether the president would have accepted a South Vietnamese defeat. "We would have handled it like Laos," my father told him. Intrigued, Ellsberg pressed further. "What made him so smart?" Three decades afterward, Ellsberg would vividly recall my father's reaction: "Whap! His hand slapped down on the desk. I jumped in my chair. 'Because we were there!' He slapped the desk again. 'We saw what was happening to the French. We saw it. We were determined never to let that happen to us.'"

In 1951, JFK, then a young congressman, and my father visited Vietnam, where they marveled at the fearlessness of the French Legionnaires and the hopelessness of their cause. On that trip, American diplomat Edmund Gullion warned JFK to avoid the trap. Upon returning, JFK isolated himself with his outspoken opposition to American involvement in this "hopeless internecine struggle."

Three years later, in April 1954, he made himself a pariah within his own party by condemning the Eisenhower administration for entertaining French requests for assistance in Indochina, predicting that fighting Ho Chi Minh would mire the U.S. in France's doomed colonial legacy. "No amount of American military assistance in Indochina can conquer an enemy that is everywhere and at the same time nowhere . . . [or an enemy] which has the sympathy and covert support of the people."

By the summer of 1963, JFK was quietly telling trusted friends and advisers he intended to get out following the 1964 election. These included Rep. Tip O'Neill, McNamara, National Security adviser McGeorge Bundy, Sen. Wayne Morse, Washington columnist Charles Bartlett, Canadian Prime Minister Lester Pearson, confidant Larry Newman, Gen. Taylor and Marine Commandant Gen. David M. Shoup, who, besides Taylor, was the only other member of the Joint Chiefs that JFK trusted. Both McNamara and Bundy acknowledged in their respective memoirs that JFK meant to get out – which were jarring admissions against self-interest, since these two would remain in the Johnson administration and orchestrate the war's escalation.

That spring, JFK had told Montana Sen. Mike Mansfield, who would become the Vietnam War's most outspoken Senate critic, "I can't do it until 1965, after I'm re-elected." Later that day, he explained to Kenneth O'Donnell, "If I tried to pull out completely from Vietnam, we would have another Joe McCarthy Red scare on our hands, but I can do it after I'm re-elected." Both Nelson Rockefeller and Sen. Barry Goldwater, who were vying to run against him in 1964, were uncompromising Cold Warriors who would have loved to tar JFK with the brush that he had lost not just Laos, but now Vietnam. Goldwater was campaigning on the platform of "bombing Vietnam back into the Stone Age," a lyrical and satisfying construct to the Joint Chiefs and the CIA. "So we had better make damned sure I am re-elected," JFK said.

The Joint Chiefs, already in open revolt against JFK for failing to unleash the dogs of war in Cuba and Laos, were unanimous in urging a massive influx of ground troops and were incensed with talk of withdrawal. The mood in Langley was even uglier. Journalist Richard Starnes, filing from Vietnam, gave a stark assessment in The Washington Daily News of the CIA's unrestrained thirst for power in Vietnam. Starnes quoted high-level U.S. officials horrified by the CIA's role in escalating the conflict. They described an insubordinate, out-of-control agency, which one top official called a "malignancy." He doubted that "even the White House could control it any longer." Another warned, "If the United States ever experiences a [coup], it will come from the CIA and not from the Pentagon." Added another, "[Members of the CIA] represent tremendous power and total unaccountability to anyone."

Defying such pressures, JFK, in the spring of 1962, told McNamara to order the Joint Chiefs to begin planning for a phased withdrawal that would disengage the U.S. altogether. McNamara later told an assistant secretary of defense that the president intended to "close out Vietnam by '65 whether it was in good shape or bad."

On May 8th, 1962, following JFK's orders, McNamara instructed a stunned Gen. Paul Harkins "to devise a plan for bringing full responsibility [for the Vietnam War] over to South Vietnam." Mutinous, the general ignored the order until July 23rd, 1962, when McNamara again commanded him to produce a plan for withdrawal. The brass returned May 6th, 1963, with a half-baked proposal that didn't complete withdrawal as quickly as JFK had wanted. McNamara ordered them back yet again.

On September 2nd, 1963, in a televised interview, JFK told the American people he didn't want to get drawn into Vietnam. "In the final analysis, it is their war," he said. "They are the ones who have to win or lose it. We can help them, we can give them equipment. We can send our men out there as advisers, but they have to win it, the people of Vietnam."


Six weeks before his death, on October 11th, 1963, JFK bypassed his own National Security Council and had Bundy issue National Security Action Memorandum 263, making official policy the withdrawal from Vietnam of the bulk of U.S. military personnel by the end of 1965, beginning with "1,000 U.S. military personnel by the end of 1963." On November 14th, 1963, a week before Dallas, he announced at a press conference that he was ordering up a plan for "how we can bring Americans out of there." The morning of November 21st, as he prepared to leave for Texas, he reviewed a casualty list for Vietnam indicating that more than 100 Americans to date had died there. Shaken and angry, JFK told his assistant press secretary Malcolm Kilduff, "It's time for us to get out. The Vietnamese aren't fighting for themselves. We're the ones doing the fighting. After I come back from Texas, that's going to change. There's no reason for us to lose another man over there. Vietnam is not worth another American life."

On November 24th, 1963, two days after JFK died, Lyndon Johnson met with South Vietnam Ambassador Henry Cabot Lodge, whom JFK had been on the verge of firing. LBJ told Lodge, "I am not going to lose Vietnam. I am not going to be the president who saw Southeast Asia go the way China went." Over the next decade, nearly 3 million Americans, including many of my friends, would enter the paddies of Vietnam, and 58,000, including my cousin George Skakel, would never return.\

Dulles, fired by JFK after the Bay of Pigs, returned to public service when LBJ appointed him to the Warren Commission, where he systematically concealed the agency's involvement in various assassination schemes and its ties to organized crime. To a young writer, he revealed his continued resentment against JFK: "That little Kennedy . . . he thought he was a god."

On June 10th, 1963, at American University, Kennedy gave his greatest speech ever, calling for an end to the Cold War, painting the heretical vision of America living and competing peacefully with Soviet Communists. World peace, he proposed, would not be "a Pax Americana enforced on the world by American weapons of war." He challenged Cold War fundamentalists who cast the world as a clash of civilizations in which one side must win and the other annihilated. He suggested instead that peaceful coexistence with the Soviets might be the most expedient path to ending totalitarianism.


And he acknowledged that now, "above all, while defending our own vital interests, nuclear powers must avert those confrontations which bring an adversary to a choice of either humiliating retreat or nuclear war. To adopt that kind of course in the nuclear age would be evidence only of the bankruptcy of our policy – or a collective death wish for the world." In the nightmare reality of nuclear war, he said, "All we have built, all we have worked for, would be destroyed in the first 24 hours."


JFK went on to paint the picture of a world where different ideologies were allowed to flourish, supplanting the immoral and destructive Cold War with productive competition that, instead of "devoting massive sums to weapons," would divert them "to combat ignorance, poverty and disease." And, he added, "if we cannot now end our differences, at least we can make the world safe for diversity."


He concluded by proposing a blueprint for bringing the Cold War to an end. "Our primary long-range interest," he said, was "general and complete disarmament, designed to take place by stages permitting parallel political developments to build the new institutions of peace which would take the place of arms." He announced unilateral suspension of atmospheric nuclear weapons and proposed immediate disarmament talks with Moscow.

It's hard to understand today how heretical JFK's proposal for coexistence with the Soviets sounded to America's right wing. It was Cold War boilerplate that any objective short of complete destruction was cowardice or treachery. In his bestselling 1962 diatribe Why Not Victory? Barry Goldwater proclaimed, "Our objective must be the destruction of the enemy as an ideological force. . . . Our effort calls for a basic commitment in the name of victory, which says we will never reconcile ourselves to the communist possession of power of any kind in any part of the world."

Despite opposition to the treaty from the generals and Republican leaders, including liberals like Nelson Rockefeller, Kennedy's words electrified a world terrified by the prospect of nuclear exchange. JFK's recognition of the Soviet point of view had an immediate salving impact on U.S.-Soviet relations. Khrushchev, deeply moved, later told treaty negotiator Averell Harriman that the American University address was "the greatest speech by an American president since Roosevelt."


Knowing that America's military-industrial complex would oppose him, JFK had kept the text of his speech secret from the Pentagon, the CIA and the State Department. His call for a unilateral test-ban treaty shocked his own National Security and his military and diplomatic advisers.

Worse, in the month leading up to the speech, he had secretly worked with British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan to arrange test-ban negotiations in Moscow. Khrushchev embraced JFK's proposal, agreeing in principle to end nuclear testing in the atmosphere and water, and on land and in outer space, and proposed a non­aggression pact between NATO and the Soviet satellite countries of the Warsaw Pact. Kennedy supervised every detail of the negotiation, working at astounding speed to end-run his adversaries in the Pentagon. On July 25th, 1963, JFK approved the treaty. The next day, he went on TV, telling America, "This treaty can symbolize the end of one era and the beginning of another – if both sides can, by this treaty, gain confidence and experience in peaceful collaboration." Less than a month later, they both signed the treaty. It was the first arms-control agreement of the nuclear age. Historian Richard Reeves wrote, "By moving so swiftly on the Moscow negotiations, Kennedy politically outflanked his own military on the most important military question of the time."

Caught off guard, the military-intelligence apparatus quickly mobilized to derail the treaty, which still needed to be ratified by the Senate. The Joint Chiefs of Staff, who had announced months earlier that they were "opposed to a comprehensive ban under almost any terms," joined CIA director John McCone in lobbying against the agreement in the Senate. The Pentagon tried to sabotage its passage by hiding information about the ease of detecting underground tests.


The right-wing propaganda machine found plenty of arable ground in the American national consciousness to fertilize with fear. Initially, congressional mail ran 15-1 against the treaty. JFK believed the chances for passage in the Senate was "about in the nature of a miracle." He ordered his staff to pull out every stop to mobilize the population, saying that he was determined to get the treaty passed, even if it cost him the 1964 election.


By September, a monumental grassroots White House campaign had flipped public opinion to support the treaty by 80 percent. On September 24th, 1963, the Senate ratified the treaty 80-19. As Ted Sorensen noted, no other single accomplishment in the White House "gave the president greater satisfaction."

On October 10th, after signing the atmospheric-test-ban treaty, Khrushchev sent JFK the last of his personal letters. In that missive, Khrushchev proposed the next steps for ending the Cold War. He recommended the conclusion of a nonaggression pact between the NATO and the Warsaw Pact nations, and a number of steps to stop the spread of nuclear weapons and prevent their use in surprise attacks. JFK would never see the letter. State Department officials hostile toward Khrushchev intercepted it.


Khrushchev had already secretly proposed to his own government radical reductions in the Soviet military, including the conversion of missile plants to peaceful purposes. After JFK's death, Kremlin war hawks viewed Khrushchev's plan as a treasonous proposal for unilateral disarmament. Less than a year after Dallas, Khrushchev was removed from power.

JFK, at the time of his death, was planning his own trip to the Soviet Union, knowing nothing would do more to end the Cold War. Forty years later, Khrushchev's son Sergei wrote that he was "convinced that if history had allowed them another six years, they would have brought the Cold War to a close before the end of the 1960s. . . . But fate decreed otherwise, and the window of opportunity, barely cracked open, closed at once. In 1963, President Kennedy was killed, and a year later, in October 1964, my father was removed from power. The Cold War continued for another quarter of a century."


JFK's capacity to stand up against the national-security apparatus and imagine a different future for America has made him, despite his short presidency, one of the most popular presidents in history. Despite his abbreviated tenure, John F. Kennedy is the only one-term president consistently included in the list of top 10 presidents made by American historians. A 2009 poll of 65 historians ranked him sixth in overall presidential performance, just ahead of Jefferson. And today, JFK's great concerns seem more relevant than ever: the dangers of nuclear proliferation, the notion that empire is inconsistent with a republic and that corporate domination of our democracy at home is the partner of imperial policies abroad. He understood the perils to our Constitution from a national-security state and mistrusted zealots and ideologues. He thought other nations ought to fight their own civil wars and choose their own governments and not ask the U.S. to do it for them. Yet the world he imagined and fought for has receded so far below the horizon that it's no longer even part of the permissible narrative inside the Beltway or in the mainstream press. Critics who endeavor to debate the survival of American democracy within the national-security state risk marginalization as crackpots and kooks. His greatest, most heroic aspirations for a peaceful, demilitarized foreign policy are the forbidden­ debates of the modern political era.

This story is from the December 5th, 2013 issue of Rolling Stone.

Strange Geo - Glyph in NC

Strange geo-glyph discovered near Cheoah River in Graham County, NC

This is something of interest because it informs us that such signatures exist and demand excavation.  this one could easily be a fortified village made originally out of wood, that since has cultivated through to a perfectly flat surface.

As important we now know that we should be looking.  We could have thousands of villages to excavate and it would be good to have a true picture of the historical population density.

Satellite work is slowly building up an effective database and will eventually result in a deep understanding of the living past.


STRANGE GEO-GLYPH DISCOVERED NEAR CHEOAH RIVER IN GRAHAM COUNTY, NC

Posted by Richard Thornton | Dec 4, 2017 |4


https://peopleofonefire.com/strange-geo-glyph-discovered-near-cheoah-river-in-graham-county-nc.html

ERSI satellite imagery of Graham County, NC in the extreme western end of that state, has picked up a inexplicable footprint on the soil. It is located in the flood plain of Yellow Creek near its confluence with the Cheoah River. This geo-glyph is of the scale of those on the Nazca Plain in Peru. It appears to be either the footprint of a triangular European fort or an upside-down bat with the head no longer visible . . . but maybe not. This location was in the Province of Chiaha, where Juan Pardo built a fort. Note the separate rectangular footprint to the north of the wings, plus what appears to be radiating lines pointing to the southeast and southwest. Do you have any ideas about this strange structure, creature or symbol on the landscape, immediately south of the Great Smoky Mountains?

Blood flow altered in brains of preterm newborns vs. full-term infants






 The surprise is that the effects run right through to the end of pregnancy.  There is no obvious tapering off, or certainly not for critical components.

Considering that we all want a child who is 100 percent, we need to develop support protocols that ensure just that.  This is a level of perfectionism never anticipated but needs addressing.

That same approach needs to continue after birth for the first three years while utterly dependent on the mother.

Setting standards like that will not be popular but do need considering.  My own inclination is to properly depend on an organized natural community.
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Blood flow altered in brains of preterm newborns vs. full-term infants 

Blood, oxygen and nutrients follow function, with more flowing to rapidly developing cerebral regions




IMAGE: THIS FIGURE REPRESENTS THE CEREBRAL BLOOD FLOW (CBF) MAPS, CORRESPONDING ANATOMICAL IMAGE ALIGNED TO THE CBF MAP, AND THE REGIONS OF INTEREST EXAMINED. THE SCALE INDICATES THE QUANTITATIVE VALUE... view more
CREDIT: CREDIT: M. BOUYSSI-KOBAR, ET AL., THE JOURNAL OF PEDIATRICS.
WASHINGTON - (Dec. 4, 2017) - Cerebral blood flow (CBF) of key 

http://www.feedspot.com/?dadi=1#feed/f_32127/article/4340195970?dd=431151769673047

regions of newborns' brains is altered in very premature infants and may provide an early warning sign of disturbed brain maturation well before such injury is visible on conventional imaging, according to a prospective, observational study published Dec. 4, 2017 in The Journal of Pediatrics.


"During the third trimester of pregnancy, the fetal brain undergoes an unprecedented growth spurt. To power that growth, cerebral blood flow increases and delivers the extra oxygen and nutrients needed to nurture normal brain development," says Catherine Limperopoulos, Ph.D., director of the Developing Brain Research Laboratory at Children's National Health System and senior author of the study. "In full-term pregnancies, these critical brain structures mature inside the protective womb where the fetus can hear the mother and her heartbeat, which stimulates additional brain maturation. 

For infants born preterm, however, this essential maturation process happens in settings often stripped of such stimuli."

The challenge: How to capture what goes right or wrong in the developing brains of these very fragile newborns? The researchers relied on arterial spin labeling (ASL) magnetic resonance (MR) imaging, a noninvasive technique that labels the water portion of blood to map how blood flows through infants' brains in order to describe which regions do or do not receive adequate blood supply. The imaging work can be done without a contrast agent since water from arterial blood itself illuminates the path traveled by cerebral blood.

"In our study, very preterm infants had greater absolute cortical cerebral blood flow compared with full-term infants. Within regions, however, the insula (a region critical to experiencing emotion), anterior cingulate cortex (a region involved in cognitive processes) and auditory cortex (a region involved in processing sound) for preterm infants received a significantly decreased volume of blood, compared with full-term infants. For preterm infants, parenchymal brain injury and the need for cardiac vasopressor support both were correlated with decreased regional CBF," Limperopoulos adds.

The team studied 98 preterm infants in the study who were born June 2012 to December 2015, were younger than 32 gestational weeks at birth and who weighed less than 1,500 grams. They matched those preemies by gestational age with 104 infants who had been carried to term. The brain MRIs were performed as the infants slept.

Blood flows where it is needed most with areas of the brain that are used more heavily commandeering more oxygen and nutrients. Thus, during brain development, CBF is a good indicator of functional brain maturation since brain areas that are the most metabolically active need more blood.

"The ongoing maturation of the newborn's brain can be seen in the distribution pattern of cerebral blood flow, with the greatest volume of blood traveling to the brainstem and deep grey matter," says Marine Bouyssi-Kobar, M.S., the study's lead author. "Because of the sharp resolution provided by ASL-MR images, our study finds that in addition to the brainstem and deep grey matter, the insula and the areas of the brain responsible for sensory and motor functions are also among the most oxygenated regions. This underscores the critical importance of these brain regions in early brain development. In preterm infants, the insula may be particularly vulnerable to the added stresses of life outside the womb."

Of note, compromised regional brain structures in adults are implicated in multiple neurodevelopmental disorders. "Altered development of the insula and anterior cingulate cortex in newborns may represent early warning signs of preterm infants at greater risk for long-term neurodevelopmental impairments," Limperopoulos says.

###

Research reported in this news release was supported by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, MOP-81116; the SickKids Foundation, XG 06-069; and the National Institutes of Health under award number R01 HL116585-01.

Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert
system

Pentagon finally admits conventional warfare is obsolete, recommends deep cuts

 


I do not necessarily agree with all the blanket statements made here, but it is impossible to be a modern state and also conduct a major war against a similar enemy without destroying the state root and bough as we showed in Iraq..
 
The main reason  massed land forces have become obsolete happens to be the most closely guarded secret of the USA.  The USSS or US Space Service presently deploys a fleet of planetary bombardment ships able to control gravity and use kinetic bombardment and powerful rapid fire microwave lasers able to turn a human soldier into a pile of carbon.  Targeting software has been perfected using so called crop circles since the early 80,s.

Those 'missing' 40,000 forces personnel are not camping in Niger but manning facilities and ships off planet including Mars as has been also shown through one whistle blower
 
Of course, none of this is true.

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Pentagon finally admits conventional warfare is obsolete, recommends deep cuts

http://dailycaller.com/2014/02/26/pentagon-finally-admits-conventional-warfare-is-obsolete-recommends-deep-cuts/

The Pentagon announced yesterday that it would shrink the U.S. Army to pre-WWII levels. It’s about time.

They say that generals always fight the last war. The Pentagon has rendered that an understatement. 

They’ve been refighting WWII for almost 70 years, accomplishing very little in the process. Of all its military adventures, the Korean War, which remains a stalemate after six decades, is the best it has to show for trillions in debt and tens of thousands of lives.

That the Korean War was a success is a matter of opinion. Rather than containing Pyongyang, there is a good argument to be made that the U.S. presence on North Korea’s border is what has kept that nation’s communist government in power. It would seem no coincidence that the only other truly communist regime is Cuba’s, against whom the U.S. has taken a similar stance.

Even giving the Pentagon Korea, it must be measured against the unmitigated disasters in Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan. A decade hence, the latter two will be viewed in much the way Vietnam was by the 1980’s.

It isn’t that the U.S. military has failed to execute. On the contrary, they’ve executed conventional warfare admirably. It’s just that conventional warfare is obsolete. It has been for a very long time.

With over 1.4 million men and women in uniform, the American military is built to fight a first world power in a conventional war where two armies honorably bomb, strafe and otherwise reek destruction on one another. When one side gains the advantage, its ground troops surge forward, breaking the enemy’s line. In the end, the victor marches into the capital and the enemy surrenders. A peace treaty follows.

We saw this fairy tale play out in 2003 Iraq. Then, the war started.

There isn’t going to be a war between First World powers that ends anything like that. Neither Moscow nor Washington is going to let a triumphant general ride into town with thousands of troops before resorting to nuclear weapons – which means there isn’t going to be a war between first world powers, at least while a shred of sanity remains.

We certainly don’t have to worry about war with China. They’d never lend us the money.

That means there is little use for most of America’s conventional army or navy. How long would surface ships last against 21st century missile technology? Do the math.

The only thing the massive U.S. military force is good for is getting America entangled in third world boondoggles like the one mercifully coming to an end in Afghanistan, against third rate powers that don’t pose the kind of threat that makes conventional warfare obsolete.

That’s why smaller countries without nuclear weapons are the only ones that get invaded.

Anyone with a grade school sense of proportion can see where federal dollars get spent. There is no way to talk about avoiding fiscal disaster, much less balancing the budget, without deep cuts to Social Security, Medicare and the Pentagon.

Cutting the military will not jeopardize American security. It will strengthen it. Bankrupt nations aren’t secure. It’s time to resize the U.S. military for the 21st century and adopt that humble foreign policy we were promised 14 years ago.

Tom Mullen is the author of A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.
 

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Scientist Who ‘Discovered’ Gluten Sensitivity Now Claims it Never Existed






  Great science.  The real take home is that we must avoid exposure to Roundup in our bread at least.  Organic is a good start but most of us will still use commercial breads in some form.  worse the politicians are loath to force labeling.  It is not difficult to test every batch of flour as i am sure the Chinese are now doing.
I would become very rigorous regarding this chemical.  Not least because Monsanto has blatantly lied about this for decades and i am sure they knew.
Fortunately most of us seem to still tolerate some exposure.  The same was true for smoking.  It may simply take a long time to present and you could be long dead for other reasons..
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Scientist Who ‘Discovered’ Gluten Sensitivity Now Claims it Never Existed

November 13, 2017

http://econewsmedia.org/2017/11/13/scientist-discovered-gluten-sensitivity-now-claims-never-existed/ 

More than 18 million people are said to have some intolerance to gluten, the sticky protein that can be found in breads, barley, and other wheat products. But how scientifically grounded is this sudden wave of large-scale gluten intolerance?

As it turns out, it may not be gluten that is triggering health problems, but a reaction to agrochemicals being used in the harvesting of wheat.

So we have to ask: Is Monsanto’s glyphosate the true cause of sensitivity to glutenous foods?

Gluten is a protein composite that acts as a glue for bread, holding it together and giving it that fluffy, chewy texture that people enjoy. It is also used as a chewy meat substitute called seitan, widely used by vegetarians and vegans. Although some experts believe that only 1 percent of Americans have Celiac Disease, the auto-immune disorder that results in gluten intolerance, 18 percent of adults now reportedly regularly purchase gluten-free foods and about 30 percent say they want to eat less gluten.


In 2011, an Australian scientist named Peter Gibson at Monash University conducted an experiment to determine whether gluten in the diet can cause gastrointestinal distress in people who did not have celiac disease. When experiments confirmed this hypothesis, they named this condition ‘non-celiac gluten sensitivity‘ or NCGS, thus beginning the gluten-free trend, which has resulted in an estimated $15 billion industry by 2016.


Gibson was not satisfied with his findings, however, and because of how common gluten is in the diets of so many people, both modern and historically, he wanted to know why and how gluten could be causing this reaction in people who were not suffering from celiac disease. Consequently, he decided to take his research to a new level and conduct an experiment more rigorous than anything typically found in nutritional studies.

For this new experiment, Gibson sought out 37 self-identified gluten sensitive patients. The study was done double-blind with subjects that had NCGS and irritable bowel syndrome, but not celiac disease. For two weeks, the patients were given high-gluten, low-gluten, and no-gluten meals (as the control group), followed by a two-week “washout” period.

The findings of the study showed that although in opposition to the results found in the first experiment, gluten intolerance actually does not exist in people without celiac disease. A third study, also by Gibson, further supports these findings, suggesting perhaps that much of what we see as gluten sensitivity is psychosomatic.

Although gluten is no longer believed to be the culprit of health problems reportedly associated with consuming glutenous wheat, that does not mean that conventionally grown wheat is completely safe to eat. In fact, until 2005, GMO wheat was being tested in 16 states, and is known to have escaped testings grounds, genetically polluting nearby fields via airborne seeds and cross-pollination.

In addition, even non-GMO wheat is drenched with Monsanto’s carcinogenic glyphosate Round-up just days before harvest, because, as it turns out, wheat fields produce slightly more seed when sprayed with this poison 7-10 days before harvest, as researched by Dr. Stephanie Seneff of MIT.

Not only has glyphosate been found to be a probable carcinogen by the World Health Organization, but has been linked to a variety of other health issues including depression, diabetes, celiac disease and gluten intolerance.

This study from 2013 shows that fish exposed to glyphosate develop digestive issues similar to celiac disease.

“If Glyphosate ends up in bread it’s impossible for people to avoid it, unless they are eating organic. On the other hand, farmers could easily choose not to use Glyphosate as a spray on wheat crops – just before they are harvested. This is why the Soil Association is calling for the immediate ending of the use of Glyphosate sprays on wheat destined for use in bread.” – Peter Melchett of the Soil Association


It is true that not every food fad ends up being true. However, we should still take caution when choosing the foods we feed our families. Although it has been found that gluten itself is not causing an intolerance in people without celiac disease, there are still other issues with wheat production that we need to be aware of. Get your wheat from local, organic farms when possible and do what you can to avoid Monsanto and other pesticide company’s chemical toxins finding their way into your body.

Rural Areas At Risk As Water Levels Drop In Massive Aquifer

 

 

The Ogallala aquifer is finaly hitting the wall or at least that wall can now be seen. It has taken a long time and i first understood its destiny fifty years ago.

Yet i do not think the region is without hope.  It is watered by rains but less than necessary to conduct farming.  Thus it is a candidate for atmospheric water harvesting using passive Eden Machines consisting of a simple shallow circular basin perhaps three meters across with a conical net  of monofiliment erected above it.  This allows night time precipation to be collected into the basin.

These basins could even be cast from materials benficial to soils as well and made water proof with a simple layer of saran wrap or something like it.  As retaining water is not nearly so important the main thing is to have the holding frame robust enough.  Thousands of these little ponds will support a form of woodland and from that an enhanced hydraulic cycle that can steadily replenish the aquifir.

Infact a simple rotating tool can be used to augar a shallow conical depression in the soil itself.  This forces a natural wet spot for the frame.

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Rural Areas At Risk As Water Levels Drop In Massive Aquifer


Posted: Nov 12, 2017 5:42PM CST Associated Press, News 9

http://m.news9.com/story.aspx?story=36825392&catId=112032




The draining of a massive aquifer that underlies portions of eight states in the central U.S. is drying up streams, causing fish to disappear and threatening the livelihood of farmers who rely on it for their crops.

Water levels in the Ogallala aquifer have been dropping for decades as irrigators pump water faster than rainfall can recharge it.

An analysis of federal data found the Ogallala aquifer shrank twice as fast over the past six years compared with the previous 60, The Denver Post reports.

The drawdown has become so severe that streams are drying at a rate of 6 miles per year and some highly resilient fish are disappearing. In rural areas, farmers and ranchers worry they will no longer have enough water for their livestock and crops as the aquifer is depleted.

The aquifer lost 10.7 million acre-feet of storage between 2013 and 2015, the U.S. Geological Survey said in a June report.

“Now I never know, from one minute to the next, when I turn on a faucet or hydrant, whether there will be water or not,” said Lois Scott, 75, who lives west of Cope, Colorado, north of the frequently bone-dry bed of the Arikaree River.

A 40-foot well her grandfather dug by hand in 1914 gave water until recently, she said, lamenting the loss of lawns where children once frolicked and green pastures for cows. Scott’s now considering a move to Brush, Colorado, and leaving her family’s historic homestead farm.

“This will truly become the Great American Desert,” she said.

Also known as the High Plains Aquifer, the Ogallala underlies 175,000 square miles (453,000 square kilometers), including parts of Colorado, Wyoming Kansas, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Texas. That’s one of the primary agricultural regions of the U.S., producing $35 billion in crops annually.

Farmers and ranchers have been tapping into the aquifer since the 1930s to boost production and help them get by in times of drought.

However, overpumping has dried up 358 miles of surface rivers and streams across a 200-square-mile area covering eastern Colorado, western Kansas and Nebraska, according to researchers from Colorado State University and Kansas State University.

If farmers keep pumping water at the current pace, another 177 miles of rivers and streams will be lost before 2060, the researchers determined.

“We have almost completely changed the species of fish that can survive in those streams, compared with what was there historically. This is really a catastrophic change,” said Kansas State University conservation biologist Keith Gido, one of the authors of a report on the aquifer published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

If all pumping stopped immediately, it would still take hundreds of years for rain-fed streams and rivers to recharge the aquifer, Gido said.

How much energy does bitcoin mining really use? It's complicated







This is more a measure of just how big this has all gotten and it is certainly not over. My own back of the envelope calculation tells be that the actual potential market size and we are certainly working at getting there is around a price point of $1,000,000 per coin.

 At that point it matches gold and to meet real human needs it will still go much higher than this.So this story is not over. Energy consumption can actually become a major force but rising efficiency will also counter that. Bitcoin is quite capable of simply replacing the US dollar as a global reserve currency.


 What it certainly does is put all national currencies on notice that they are immanently replaceable. That is really a good thing because it finally strips the King of his power of the purse and credit.Add in the need to apply fractional baking to hte natural community and we have a completely fresh economic dispensation.







How much energy does bitcoin mining really use? It's complicated



Bitcoin hype has reached an all-time high. But if running the bitcoin network uses up as much yearly electricity as a medium-sized country, is it worth it?



By NICOLE KOBIE



Saturday 2 December 2017




http://www.wired.co.uk/article/how-much-energy-does-bitcoin-mining-really-use




Bitcoin chews through masses of energy, but exactly how much is up for debate. Regardless of the actual number, it's climbing — so is the environmental cost of the digital currency becoming too high? In short, it’s complicated. So let’s look at the numbers…





This being bitcoin, the numbers are confusing and largely made up. Power consumption is one of the major costs of bitcoin mining, as dedicated machines crunch the algorithms that build a record of every single bitcoin transaction and are rewarded with tiny fractions of a bitcoin for their efforts. As mining gets more difficult, it requires increasingly powerful hardware to be competitive. As the value of the digital currency goes up — and it's skyrocketed this year — miners are more likely to invest in ever more sophisticated hardware. Back in 2009, you could mine competitively with your desktop computer, but now you'll need specialist hardware, such as the Antminer S9 – a dedicated mining rig that weighs six kilos and costs well over £1000 before you even start thinking about the electricity bill



That evolution, as well as the global spread of miners, makes it difficult to assess exactly how much energy is spent on the digital checks that underpin bitcoin, but there are plenty of people trying to get a handle on just how much power it's chewing through.



Why does energy consumption matter? Regardless of whether bitcoin is a bubble or not, we're investing heavily in infrastructure and burning through huge amounts of energy. If this is going to be a viable alternative financial system, it needs to be financially and environmentally sustainable. And if it never has a chance of being truly useful, and is just a get rich quick scheme, are we destroying the climate for something totally trivial?



Of course, if you own bitcoin, which has leapt in value from $1,000 earlier this year to above $10,000, even a fraction of a bitcoin is no longer a trivial amount of money. No matter how lucrative, is a currency experiment worth churning through oodles of energy for?



What are the estimates?



It's nigh on impossible to know exactly how much energy is being used, but cryptocurrency tracking site Digiconomist is the source of one oft-cited estimate. According to its Bitcoin Energy Consumption Index, the network of computers that verify bitcoin transactions draw 3.4 Gigawatts (GW) — a single watt is a joule per second, and your laptop probably probably uses about 60W. That 3.4GW adds up to 30.1 terrawatt hours (TWh) per year of energy — that doesn't mean that much energy is used per hour, every hour, but is instead a measurement that equates to the amount of work those 30 terrawatts would do over an hour. In this case, that 30.1TWh is equivalent to the energy used by the entire nation of Morocco annually. Some dispute this figure. Fervently. Oscar Lafarga, co-founder from cryptocurrency consultant and developer SetOcean, reckons the real answer is likely half as much. In Bitcoin Magazine, Marc Bevand suggests it's likely lower still at between 470MW and 540MW.



There are other figures, if those don't appeal. In 2014 a pair of Irish researchers published one of the first papers on this topic. Karl O'Dwyer and David Malone estimated the total power use of bitcoin would be somewhere between 100MW and 10GW, but decided it was somewhere in the middle, choosing 3GW – comparable to their home country's consumption. Malone now pegs it at around 0.5GW, but also agrees with Digiconomist's overall estimate, because it's also within the realm of possibility. Others have picked different figures: in 2015, researcher Hass McCook pinned it at 120MW, while in 2016, a paper in the International Symposium on Computer Architecture said the power used by ASIC clouds, purpose-built datacentres of specialised mining equipment, alone was between 300MW and 500MW.



That's a lot of numbers (sorry, but it gets worse). There are plenty of other estimates, but the key point is they're all very different. The real range is probably somewhere between 100MW to 3.4GW. That's like guessing someone's age as between 15 and 65, while admitting there's a margin of error of ten years.


Let's start with timing. When you make your guess skews the figures, because the bitcoin network changes so quickly — there's always more activity and more processing power, but it's somewhat balanced by more efficient hardware. Harald Vranken, associate professor at Netherlands' Open University, studied the energy draw of bitcoin earlier this year, positing that it was in the 100MW to 500MW range, versus Digiconomist's 3.4GW. "At first glance, it appears that these are quite different figures, however this is not the case," Vranken says, because when it comes to bitcoin, numbers that are an order of magnitude apart are actually kind of the same.





As he explained to WIRED, his numbers are for January of this year and since then the network hash rate — a measure of the bitcoin network's processing power, looking at how quickly it solves the equations that run the network — has leapt by a factor of 4.2. The revenue from mining in January was $716 million, while now it's $8 billion — a factor of 11.4. Feed those factors into Vranken’s equation and bitcoin’s energy draw is between 5GW and 7GW. That's more than Digiconomist's figure, but that methodology has other inputs. "Digiconomist furthermore considers that miners nowadays spend 60 per cent of their revenues on operational costs, which would mean that my figures now would be 3GW to 4.3 GW," he says, adding that means the Digiconomist figure "is in line with my figures."



So while those two figures look different, they're roughly the same. What a difference a year makes.



How to calculate power use



Another factor influencing these figures is methodology. There are a few pieces of information we know: how hard it is to solve the proof of work, how much energy various hardware uses, how much revenue miners stand to make, and how much energy is used by the entire world as a useful top-line figure. Using those pieces of the puzzle, we can attempt to fill in the rest.






For example, Vranken notes in his paper that in January power consumption could vary from 45MW when using ASIC hardware versus 450TW when using standard CPUs — but we know the latter isn't likely. "Since the worldwide annual electricity consumption is about 2.3TW, it is clear that 450TW is completely unrealistic," he notes. Bitcoin is popular, but it hasn't actually taken over the world, yet.



That first Irish paper used a similar methodology that examined the types of hardware used, explains David Malone, one of the authors from Maynooth University. "In our paper, we estimated a range, with the top end based on everyone using either old inefficient hardware and the bottom end based on everyone using new efficient hardware," Malone explains. "This gave us a range with Ireland's energy consumption somewhere in the middle. You can also try to get estimates by balancing the cost of electricity for mining against the value of mining, but the idea is very similar."



Malone has actually reduced his estimate, saying that while it's hard to know exactly what hardware is being used, it's likely all professional grade at this point, which is much more efficient. "The difficulty [of mining] has also increased, but I reckon a significant portion of the increase in difficulty may have been counterbalanced by the increase in efficiency."



Digiconomist, meanwhile, works on the premise that miners spend a certain amount on operational costs, improving their hardware when prices go up, shifting from standard desktop PCs to GPUs then to specially designed ASIC machines. And that evolution in hardware can have a huge impact on the amount of power used.



"The index is based on the idea that more hashpower will be added as long as it's profitable to produce more," says Digiconomist founder Alex de Vries. "The costs are mainly electricity and capital equipment costs. It can be calculated that the lifetime electricity costs are then about 60 per cent of the total, based on past performance. This doesn’t mean costs are always 60 per cent, since that wouldn’t factor in production limits. It takes a few months for machines to be produced and installed. Costs are estimated at less than 20 per cent now by the index."






Tweak, correct or otherwise fiddle with any of the factors in the various equations, and the result changes — that's just how maths works, apparently, but it means it's no wonder we have such a wide estimate.



What's the cost of cash?



Bitcoin may well have merit above and beyond making miners rich, but compared to traditional payment systems — gold, cash, credit cards — is it an energy hog? The consumption range leaves bitcoin either much more expensive in terms of energy than existing transactional systems or much cheaper. Once again, it's how you pick your data.



To put these figures in some context, Digiconomist suggests Visa'spayment systems uses the energy equivalent of 50,000 US households to run 350 million transactions, while bitcoin uses the energy equivalent of 2.8 million US households to run 350,000 transactions on a good day — in short, Visa does more with less. As the site’s rationale explains, bitcoin is increasingly becoming a tool for the rich but we’re all paying the price for a system that uses 20,000 times (give or take) more energy than traditional systems per transaction.



But in his paper, Vranken counters that in the 100MW to 500MW range, bitcoin mining requires between 0.8KWh to 4.4KWh per year, but the energy required for mining and recycling gold – which backs US currency – is 138KWh a year, while printing paper notes and minting coins is 11KWh. He pins the banking system, including not only its data centres but also its branches and ATMs, at 650KWh. In other words, there's more to our traditional financial system than one brand of payment card. That said, he notes bitcoin is a much, much smaller system than cash and traditional banking, but as bitcoin scales up, so does the energy required for mining.



Using a Visa card may well be less of an energy suck than bitcoin, but in a way that point is moot — we still have both, and will for the foreseeable future, no matter how successful bitcoin is going mainstream. You're likely using them in tandem, such as selling off bitcoin to earn the dollars to pay off your Visa bill.



Is bitcoin worth it?



Whether researchers choose the high end or low end of the energy consumption range largely seems to depend on what they think of the currency itself. Digiconomist founder de Vries has a long list of criticisms regarding sustainability, so his number trends a bit higher. His critics are bitcoin fans, so they push the consumption guess down to suggest it's not a wasteful activity – Bevand notes that at his figures, mining eats up around 4TWh annually, less than the energy used by Christmas lights in the US by a third.



Regardless of how much energy bitcoin chews through now, those figures are helpful as a baseline, as its consumption is going to increase. Bitcoin's proof of works gets harder to solve as time goes on and returns fewer coins – go back to Vranken's maths at the beginning, and that's the increase in power consumption over less than a year, despite massively more efficient hardware. The system works by rewarding miners for computation, so they keep on computing.



Is there another way? Aside from pushing for more efficient hardware, there are other "proof" techniques that are less demanding, though may introduce security concerns. Proof of stake is the frequently mooted solution which uses a less demanding system to prove ownership of coins and dole them out via a raffle-like scheme, Vranken says. There's also proof of space, which he explains sees the miner use a specified amount of memory to compute the proof. There's also proof-of-space-time, which adds in a temporal element, but at this point that sounds a bit like he's trolling us all.



Bitcoin-style currencies might get more efficient, but don't expect them to get any easier to understand.

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