Friday, May 30, 2008

Old Ties

It is interesting to come across in newspapers or in on-line postings the names of former high-ranking foreigners that I met when they made official visits to the Pentagon.

Mostly these are retired British officers. But one former (1988-1991) Pakistani Army Chief of Staff, General Mirza Aslam Beg, keeps popping up. Beg established a “ think tank” to keep track of and bring pressure to bear on governments in Islamabad – one suspects on civilian prime ministers only.

Within three years of his August 1991 retirement, Beg was in the headlines with former head of the Bureau of Inter-Service Intelligence, (ISI), General Asad Durrani. Former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif claimed in a newspaper interview that the two officers came to him in November 1990 with a scheme to sell illegal drugs and use the money to fund covert foreign operations. Both officers denied the charges, and the matter was not pursued.

If that sounds like Iran-Contra, you are in the ballpark. Remember also that in 1989, when Soviet troops left Afghanistan, the U.S. left Pakistan high and dry.

Beg’s name was also tied to the “for profit” nuclear weapons and technology ring headed by A.Q. Khan. He acknowledges that Iranian officials had asked about Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program and whether they could obtain a weapon, but stated that the reply from Islamabad was no.

All this came up when a Pakistani news outlet reported that General Beg had told them that Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf was under detention by the Pakistan army and would leave the country shortly. Everyone denied the story, but it served as a reminder of how fragile the U.S.-Pakistan relationship really is ten years after Pakistan’s first nuclear weapons test.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Deceiving the Dead

One can only wonder at the temerity of the timing for the release of the latest book by a former Bush administration insider – Scott McClellan’s What Happened – on May 26, 2008, Memorial Day.

The irony – maybe cynicism is a better description – that drips from this volume by the former White House Press Secretary is so thick that even the normally ubiquitous “unidentified high-ranking White House official” is hard to find for comment.

Take, for example, the book’s title, What Happened. As it stands, the title suggests an accurate, “straight-talking” account (recall John McCain’s “Straight Talk Express”) of the behind-the-scenes debates, the options and recommendations of presidential advisors, and the decisions Bush finally made. But so direct is McClellan’s attack on the coterie of advisors and even of Bush himself that those named may be reeling from the literary equivalent of boxing’s one-two punch. If so, the book title is better put as a question from a disoriented pugilist who has gone down for the count:: “What Happened?”

McClellan opens up in the preface where he writes that History seems poised to side with the judgment of the American people (including himself) “that the decision to invade Iraq was a serious strategic blunder…. No one… can know with absolute certainty how the war will be viewed decades from now when we can more fully understand its impact. What I do know is that war should only be waged when necessary, and the Iraq war was not necessary.”

This was not the only – or by far the most damning statement, about the Bush White House and the president himself. McClellan writes:

“He [Bush] is not one to delve into all the possible
policy options – including sitting around engaging
in extended debate about them – before making a
choice. Rather, he chooses based on his gut and his
most deeply held convictions. Such was the case
with Iraq.”

Everyone is entitled to their deepest held convictions – but only for themselves. When one moves beyond the self, especially when the step up the ladder involves governing a country of 300 million people which just happens to have the ability to destroy the planet with nuclear weapons, surely the American public and people all around the globe are entitled to more from a U.S. president than “flying by the seat of his pants.

McClellan faults Bush’s national security team, particularly the National Security Advisor ands now Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice for not compensating for Bush’s aversion to exploring all options before making decisions. But then, it may have made little difference, for Bush, once he had decided that Saddam Hussein had to go, simply ignored the intelligence that pointed away from war and the justifications he used to elicit support from the American public.

McClellan’s sub-title for his book is an apt summary of this president and this administration: “Inside the Bush White House and Washington’s Culture of Deception.”

McClellan was part of that deception. As such, does he himself understand the irony of releasing his book on a day when we honor the memories of those killed in combat – in a combat that did not have to be, in a war whose whole rationale rested on lies?

We owe the world “big-time.” We must do better with the next president. One might think we could not do worse. But it will demand the attention and the participation of the U.S. voters in November’s ballot to ensure we get the best person in the White House. After Iraq, it is the least we can do for the rest of the world.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Gone Fishin'

No Blog posting May 23 and May 26.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Child Soldiers: 2008 Global Report

On February 12, 2002, – the date on which the future President Abraham Lincoln was born in 1809 – the “Optional Protocol to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict” achieved the required number of ratifications by Member States to become part of the international law. Almost two years had elapsed since the UN General Assembly’s approval of the Protocol, following which the measure went to UN States Parties for ratification or accession.

Yesterday, the 2008 version of the Global Report on Child Soldiers, the first since 2004, became public. In the four years between the last Global Report and the 2008 publication, 21 conflicts involved child soldiers on one more sides. With the peace agreements in Nepal and in Aceh, Indonesia, that number now is 19. While this was progress, the Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers noted that the drop in the number of government armed forces still using child soldiers was only one – from ten to nine.

Two other points deserve special mention. The Rome Statute establishing the International Criminal Court (ICC) contains provisions declaring that the recruitment or coercion of anyone under the age of 15 is a war crime. The first trial before the ICC involving sucj an incident is scheduled to start this June

The second point is the realization by those opposed to the use of child soldiers that this practice will stop only when fighting stops.. Even so, the temptation will always be there for governments and armed opposition groups to recruit, kidnap, or otherwise coerce children – those under 18 – to engage in war.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Intelligence Odds and Ends



The Washington Post today reported that President Bush recently signed a directive establishing that the Pentagon may start using a new category of information it does not want the American public to know about – what is called “open source.” This means that what is being reported has as its origin a “source” – newspaper, magazine, e-mail, text-message web site, telephone call, telegraph or semaphore signal, or face-to-face conversation – that is accessible to the general public or to significantly large numbers of the public.

I was pleased two years ago when the intelligence community decided to establish a center for receiving and analyzing information available to the world at large. Open source can sometimes be the missing piece of a puzzle that confirms or debunks classified materials or even the first evidence of an adversary’s change in policy or programs.

But the House Armed Services Committee is worried that some who collect open source material are becoming careless. Whether one is in deep cover seeking the most important secrets of an adversary or picking up a publication that has the verbatim text of a five-hour rant of another country’s ruler, there are basic counter-intelligence principles that all collectors should observe. After all, an adversary always wants to know everyone who might someday be gathering information on capabilities and intentions to add to their big picture.

If the Post story is accurate – or even close to being accurate – and should this directive survive the change in administrations next January, Bush not only will have trebled the national debt, come within a cat’s whisker of destroying the ground forces, and flattened two other countries, he will also have quite possibly have frozen the functioning of the foreign relations federal bureaucracy that will be unable to communicate military and other state secrets because no one will know what “classification” or “non-classification” label to use.

Maybe this is not entirely bad?

Friday, May 16, 2008

Fighting the Last or the Next War

May 13 found Secretary of Defense Robert Gates in Colorado speaking to a gathering of the conservative Heritage Foundation. Two points in his discourse caught my eye.

He expressed concern over what he saw as a tendency for “next-war-ism” – defined as “a propensity…to be in favor of what might be needed in a future conflict” rather than acquiring what is needed by those fighting “the war we’re in.”

The other point was the need to balance the existential risk of damaging the institutional structures of the Army and Marine Corps by actually “overextending” the ground forces with the need to “win” in Iraq.

His first point brings to mind the post-Vietnam army that wanted to forget everything it had so painfully learned and endured from 12 years of fighting a nationalistic insurgency – with nothing to show for it other than dead and wounded soldiers in the tens of thousands and expenditures in the tens of billions. Moreover, the crucial cornerstone on which the entire structure of civil-military relations in a democracy rests – integrity – had been nearly shattered by the deceptions of those less interested in truth than in power.

There is at work here a counterpoint to the usual charge laid at the feet of the generals and admirals that they always prepare to fight the last war. Here the Defense Secretary warns against trying to leave the current war before it is over so as to be ready for the kind of war one wants to have. But the usual error may be true more for those who won the last war. If so, then the logic of the Secretary’s statement is that the United States is on the verge of losing the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

On the second point of Gates’ speech, to this day no one in the Pentagon or in the administration has stepped forward and said that the ground forces are actually overextended. The reality that no one is facing is that the generation fighting these wars is going to lose from its ranks significant numbers of productive workers because of repeated and prolonged exposure to combat.

The problem is, in my view, that the concern about the institutional structure is too late. The damage is there and is growing in both the Army and Marine Corps -- specifically within the noncommissioned officer and the mid- level (captain to lieutenant colonel) commissioned grades who keep the entire organization ticking. Adding 90,000 more soldiers simply means more will be affected unless and until the United States ends its occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan and turns to unconditional diplomacy to resolve outstanding issues with Iran

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Iran Under Fire

The Bush administration has been busy these last two or three weeks trying to drum up support for more punitive actions against Iran. One week it’s Iran’s nuclear energy program that draws the most fire. When the White House gets tired of beating up Tehran’s mullahs but still wants the nuclear focus, it falls back on the December 2007 National Intelligence Estimate on Iran – the one that undercut earlier administration hype and, as a result, the intelligence community is out of favor. And should neither of these work, there is always the Qud Force of the Revolutionary Guards.

Some analysts detect a pattern in the rhetoric on Iran that is eerily similar to the tone and accusatory bombast used by the White House in the run-up to the March 2003 invasion. While there are similarities, I have not seen two important pats of the overall picture: the UN beyond sanctions, and a tipping point in carriers “on station.”

Bush will cite any number of authorities under which he can launch a preventive attack on Iran’s conventional /Revolutionary Guard forces—but will declare he has the “inherent power” as commander in chief.

I would not include in these “justifications” the UN Charter. Although I do not have the Congressional Record on the Senate debate during ratification, I suggest that the leeway built into Article 51 is such that only a country that HAS BEEN attacked retains an implicit right to RESPOND MORE THAN ONCE on the basis that it is preventing further attacks or to repel incursions. Thus on October 7, 2001, the U.S. Ambassador to the UN, John Negroponte, submitted a letter from the Secretary of State to the President of the UN Security Council (UNSC) declaring that in accordance with Article 51 of the UN Charter, the U.S. reserved the right to strike al-Qaeda and the Taliban rulers of Afghanistan.

This “preemptive” right is not unlimited, however. The Charter itself limits the right to a time between the attack by (or detection of preparations for an imminent attack from) a hostile state and the time the UNSC, having been formally notified of the original aggression when (or before) the “victim” country mounts a preemptive strike, takes necessary action to restore international peace.

Moreover, I suggest that trying to justify attacking Iran as an exercise of Article 51 when the attack in question (Khobar Towers) came 10 years ago, is ludicrous. The entire tenor of Article 51 bespeaks rapid (for diplomats) action over a short time frame. To claim that the UN SC took no action and therefore left the matter open to action by the U.S. at any time a future administration chooses, is disingenuous. And I would contend that a country like Iran, under threat of military attack by the U.S., arguable has the right tot undertake preemptive military action against U.S. units in Iraq – not to mention those reportedly operating already inside Iran.

There is no record that I have found that the Clinton administration ever formally notified the UNSC of the attack IAW Article 51 although tighter sanctions .were imposed on Iraq.

Monday, May 12, 2008

GAIA Consciousness

The concept of an Earth-consciousness has been part of humanity’s experience on, with, and – unfortunately – against this small planet we call earth. In pre-Christian Greece, in addition to being the personification of the female principle, GAIA was the mother of the Titans who were defeated by Zeus and the other gods of Olympus.

The idea of GAIA-consciousness should not be assumed as wholly beneficent. In fact, as in any human family and many animal social units, when the offspring deviate from the norms of behavior are prescribed for the group, it is more likely the female rather than the male who disciplines the offender.

And GAIA appears on a rage if not aa rampage Even as I write, the fatalities from today’s 7.8 earthquake centered on Chongqing are mounting swiftly above the 8,000 mark.

For the first 8½ years of the new century, this is the numerical total of the lost.

May 12, 2008 China 7.8 Earthquake 8,700 and counting
May 4-5, 2008 Myanmar Cyclone 63,000-100,000

November 18, 2007 Bangladesh Cyclone 3,000

May 27, 2006 Indonesia 6.3 Earthquake 6,000
October 7, 2005 Pakistan 7.5 Earthquake 18,000

December 26, 2004 Indonesia 9.0 Earthquake & Tsunami 212,000
September 27, 2004 Haiti Hurricane Jeane 1,050

December 25, 2003 Iran 6.6 Earthquake 28,000
August 14, 2003 France Heat wave 10,000
May 21, 2003 Algeria 6.7 Earthquake 2,100

January 26, 2001 India 7.9 Earthquake 20,000

Friday, May 09, 2008

The Small Arms of May

The Small Arms of May

DISCLAIMER: this is not a pitch for or against any presidential candidate.

April showers are supposed to bring May flowers – at least that’s what the song says. Were the truth be told, the song may scan as it does because the librettist was more concerned with fitting his choice of plain-spoken American English with the flow of the music: tempo, intervals and harmonics, chorus and other repetitions.

For the reality is that we seem to get as much rain in May as in April, if not more. We are also seeing more extreme weather, not only more intense storms and more of them, which increases the potential for flash flooding and other high water. Should the other end of the scale – drought – be the tendency, these conditions likewise seem to be intensifying, forcing thousands from the land and into refugee camps.

Talking of disasters the Friday before Mother’s Day – a day when one of the traditional gifts is a bouquet of flowers – may strike many as a poor choice. Yet there is a tie: on website is a page that includes notable women rulers – with the list itself don an ordinary wooden ruler. Four of the female rulers name lived before Christ, with the very first being Hatshepsut, who ruled Egypt in the 15th century BCE, and the last Cleopatra in the first century BCE – also Egypt.

There is then a break of more than 1,000 years to Eleanor of Aquitaine who was Queen of France and then of England. Some 16 other women who governed their realms, including that odd couple in the last century, Margaret Thatcher and Queen Elizabeth II, were identified on the ruler.

Undoubtedly there are many more. The point is that women are still under-represented in leadership positions even though they are regarded by most as thefar less aggressive gender. Maybe someday a critical mass will emerge and the world would have fewer wars.

This all comes to mind because of the descent back into anarchy of Lebanon’s capital, Beirut, where a colleague spent yesterday and last night huddled with two co-workers on the floor to avoid being shot. The trio were able to get out of the city to relative safety. But the experience will be with her for years to come.

Happy Mother’s Day

Wednesday, May 07, 2008


One of the distinguishing features of 21st century life is the explosion in the creation of enclosed spaces by erecting barriers – using “barriers” in the broad sense of creating a space or area that is exclusionary.
Three headlines in the past few days illustrate the dimensions of this observation.

The first, from the Christian Science Monitor (May 6), reads: “Iraq's New Gated Communities: Safer, Mixed, Walled-In.” The story describes the re-creation of Saidiyah, one of Baghdad’s pre-war neighborhoods. Saidiyah a year ago was largely deserted as warring militias battled each other for dominance and the “right” to “cleanse” the area of the minority religious sect.

The net flow of people is now reversing as more and more former residents learn of two developments. The first is the continuous presence of U.S. troops at two locations within the neighborhood as well as an Iraqi army unit. The second development is the construction of a 12 foot tall solid concrete barrier that completely encloses the neighborhood save for a single joint automobile/pedestrian checkpoint under control of the Iraqis.

When asked about the delays getting through the single gate, Iraqis invariably said that the delays were bearable as long as they could be safe within their walls.

While some Iraqis try to get inside Saidiyah for safety, a Washington Post May 6 story relates the status of trials of al-Qaeda and “affiliated” unlawful enemy combatants being held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba: “Justice System For Detainees Is Moving At A Crawl.”

Beyond the 775 who have been detained at “Gitmo,” there are also the thousands still confined at overcrowded U.S.-run prison camps in Iraq, at Abu Ghraib (now run by Iraqis), and quite possibly at whichever third country prison still is willing to let the CIA interrogate new “high value” prisoners. One wonders whether Bush will hand his successor the keys to the remaining “black prisons” or let the new president try to figure out where these might be – and whether “torture” albeit never defined by the Attorney General but somehow understood by the average person had continued after 2007.

Bush will undoubtedly pass to his successor in the Oval Office not only a senseless war but an equally senseless “Military Commission” apparatus that has yet to actually prosecute and convict on evidence (or what passes for evidence) any charged with planning, supporting, or knowing about the attacks of September 11, 2001.

In fact, violations by the Justice Department of the human rights of many of the Guantanamo prisoners made pose significant legal obstacles to attempted future prosecutions.

As a matter of interest, what do the three remaining major presidential candidates say they will do when (not if) Bush hands them the prison keys? Alphabetically, from the campaign web sites:

Clinton: “To build the world we want, we must begin by speaking honestly about the problems we face. We will have to talk about the consequences of our invasion of Iraq for the Iraqi people and others in the region. We will have to talk about Guantánamo and Abu Ghraib.”

McCain: “We all have to live up to our own high standards of morality and international responsibility. We will fight the terrorists and at the same time defend the rights that are the foundations of our societies. We cannot torture or treat inhumanely the suspected terrorists that we have captured. We must close the detention facility at Guantanamo and come to a common international understanding on the disposition of dangerous detainees under our control.”

Obama: “my opponent…will not be able to say that I wavered on something as fundamental as whether or not it is ok for America to torture — because it is never ok… I will end the war in Iraq… I will close Guantanamo. I will restore habeas corpus.”

Lastly, the online publication carried what surely must be a horrible sentence for the men and women who will come back from Iraq and Afghanistan suffering psychiatric disorders that raise barriers to humanity, hope, and life itself.

Representatives of the Veterans Administration told Congress Tuesday that attempted suicides by veterans under VA care could exceed 1,000 per month. Moreover, it is quite possible that, as the headline on this story read, “Suicides Of Iraq Veterans Could Top Combat Deaths.”

The latter now exceed 4,500. Where does it end?

Monday, May 05, 2008

It's Lying -- and It's Murder

One segment of yesterday’s (May 4th) edition of CBS television’s 60 Minutes provided an update on the struggle of Mary Tillman, mother of NFL star-turned Army Ranger Pat Tillman, to get the full story of the circumstances of her son’s death while in action April 22, 2004 in Afghanistan. (May 3rd was the anniversary of Tillman’s funeral that the Pentagon so shamelessly exploited through the media, including the posthumous award of the Silver Star, the second highest military decoration for bravery in the face of enemy fire.)

But Tillman had not died from enemy fire while taking on a large enemy force and giving his comrades time to regroup and eventually survive the encounter. Yes there was a very hot firefight between Taliban /al Qaeda adherents and the mixed Afghan/ U.S. Army Ranger unit hunting them in the rugged mountains of the Pakistan/Afghanistan border. Given that first reports are invariably wrong, when Tillman’s spouse and parents were informed of his death, a simple “we are still investigating” should have been the “explanation” proffered – especially to the media. But even today, Mary Tillman believes the Pentagon still has not told the whole truth about her son’s death.

Yesterday’s New York Times carried another story of lies, deception, and fraud that resulted in death by electrocution of at least twelve soldiers and marines in Iraq and Afghanistan. These deaths did not come while the soldiers were on patrol or by unexpected encounters with downed “hot” wires. These “accidents” happened in facilities used as base camps for U.S. units, camps that were to have been completely refurbished – including the wiring – under terms of a $30 billion no-bid contract awarded to the one-time Halliburton subsidiary KBR (formerly Kellogg-Brown-Root).

The deaths reportedly all were the result of shoddy workmanship in the grounding of electrical sources, both in permanent structures and in machinery when in use. The problem is not new: in 2004, Army units in theatre were alerted concerning the potential for accidental electrocution. American electricians working for KBR in the war zone observed and notified KBR and even the Defense Contract Management Agency (DCMA), the office that monitors contractor performance, of numerous instances of poor workmanship by undertrained and underpaid Iraqi and Afghan “electricians.” According to the Times, nothing was done to remedy the problem because DCMA has neither the staff to monitor whether the specifications of a contract are being met nor “subject-matter experts” with the knowledge to inspect electrical wiring to insure all safety issues are resolved.

As if it had learned nothing from Tillman, the Army again lied to the family of at least one victim, Staff Sergeant Ryan Maseth, electrocuted while showering at his base camp. The Pentagon first told his family he had taken an electrical device into the shower. A few more days brought a different explanation: the large number of exposed live wires surrounding the shower area. Maseth’s family is suing KBR for wrongful death.

That’s where the record is now. But there is more to come as Congress is holding hearings on contracting irregularities, corruption, bribery and war profiteering. The Defense Department’s Inspector-General has an enquiry of his own in progress. But unless Congress and the IG include in their investigations the influence that the KBR forgeries had on delaying subsequent maintenance and inspection schedules (as the logs would be taken as accurately reflecting what had been done) that might have corrected deficiencies, the real evil in this saga – that no one, not even those whose forgeries materially contributed to the deaths of 12 soldiers will be held accountable – will not be excised.

This is not simply corruption and fraud but a question of deaths for which specific individuals can and should be held accountable in a criminal court. Moreover, in these deaths, there is not even the excuse of the “fog of war” as appears may be the case in Pat Tillman’s death. Many deaths were at fixed installations, the rest involved large generators. Contractors had pledged to provide “life support” services in return for $30 billion, but there was from the beginning no possibility that the Pentagon could exercise proper oversight as – according to the just-resigned Agency head, Keith Ernst – the DCMA had no “technical capability to exercise oversight.”

Lewis Carroll’s Alice had to go down a rabbit hole to discover a world where everything was the reverse of “normal.” In Wonderland, “yes” meant “no” (or at best, maybe), “no” meant “yes” (or a “differently-interpreted” maybe), and records were written, approved, and filed before any work described therein or event actually happened. (After all, how can one possibly know what is to be done by whom and in what order unless everything has been carefully detailed beforehand?)

Don’t look now, but that Mad Hatter world seems to have ascended the rabbit hole and now is in full swing about us. And its inhabitants seem determined to stay for as long as they can. But what else can one expect when national identity is based on war – the ultimate madness?

Tea, anyone?

Friday, May 02, 2008

Another Canary Dies

The current issue of Orion Magazine includes an article entitled “Gray Thunder: Listening to Elephants.” It is a brief look at ancient myths and more modern stories of interaction and empathy that cut through the biology and psychology of species, crossing lines of harmony between species in a far distant past.

It is also a story with all too many similarities to what happened to Native North American tribes as European settlers and their descendents pushed across the American continent.

Black Elk Speaks is the life story of a shaman of the Oglala Sioux as told to John Neihardt, a successful author and poet who was composing a five-part epic of the American west. The narrative moves on many levels and with numerous reversals as Black Elk recognizes his calling, runs from it and its empowering vision but finds himself unable to hold back the onslaught of land speculators and miners seeking gold. Treaties signed one month were violated the next, leaving the Oglala to make do with the barren, dry Dakota Badlands. Worse, they were cut off from their traditional source of food and shelter – the bison – by the deliberate and systemic slaughter of once great herds. All that remained of a once rich culture and way of life lived in harmony with the natural world were memories, and even these crumbled as dust on dry land.

In the end, Black Elk returns to the place where he experienced his first vision to communicate one last time with the thunder spirits who were the messengers of the Great Spirit. As he chanted, clouds formed overhead, a few drops of rain fell, and those present said they heard in the distance what sounded like thunder – perhaps the final farewell, the end of the vision.

In the hunting-gathering tribal cultures of northern and central Kenya, the elephant plays an iconic role similar to that of the bison for the Sioux. When Satan challenged God for control of creation, God required a material being to be his surrogate. Since Satan “spoke” in thunder (God used lightning), the surrogate needed to “drown out” thunder – something the elephant could do with its mighty trumpeting.

Humans and elephants were depicted as living in harmony, sharing in the earth’s bounty in good times and enduring together when lean times came. And when drought ruled the land, tribes believed that the appearance of the elephant was a sign from the spirit world that rain was on the way.

But the fate of the great herds of elephants in Africa was to mirror that of the bison only taking another century before the slaughter started in the 1970s and continued through 1980s. These herds were slaughtered by poachers eager to sell ivory tusks and carved pieces for coffee tables of the rich. If it had truly survived earlier depredations, the mythic bond between elephant and human virtually dissolved in the 1970s and 1980s.
For many who remember what happened in those years, the fact that droughts are longer .
and come more often reflects the absence of the elephant.

One perhaps can dismiss any linkage between drought and the absence of elephants wandering in the animal preserves. But the authors of the Orion article point to an increase in aberrant behavior toward humans, human habitats, and even toward other animal species.

It is as if when humans wreak havoc on a species, Nature will be avenged one way or another.

Just something to ponder.