Reminder: On January 15, 2008, a U.S. federal judge ordered the Government of Libya and six of its officials to pay a total of approximately $6 billion in damages arising from the mid-air suitcase bombing of a French-operated UTA Flight 772, DC-10 wide-body jet, which was flying from N’djamena, Chad to Paris, France. The aircraft crashed into the Tenere Desert in northeastern Niger, killing all 170 people on board. The 1989 attack came only nine months after a similar suitcase bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, which killed 270 people.

The attacks were not revindicated, and it took a very long time for Western investigators to prove Libya’s culpability. Even though, who exactly gave the order(s) is not clear. Considering what passes for balanced mental activity in Libyan leadership, the worst would not be too surprising (namely that the Great Leader ordered the bombings himself, in which case he could have been tried for mass murder).

When Carter did nothing after a US Air Force AWACS was attacked, Libya engaged in bombings (for example in Berlin). Awkwardly, counterproductively, and amorally, Reagan finally reacted with a massive air raid which killed innocent people, including toddlers.

The next step for Libya was to try to terrify the French and American republics. The idea was apparently that they would then be cowed, a la Carter, and beg for mercy to the “Great Socialist People’s Libyan Arab republic” (exact title). The key was not to accept responsibility, and make the French and American governments accept the message implicitly.

Why all the animosity? OK, I will not talk much about the famous verse of the Qur’an who says that Allah wants us to obey whoever detains power:

“O YE WHO BELIEVE! Obey Allah, and obey the messenger and OBEY THOSE OF YOU WHO ARE IN POWER.” (Quran’s fascist principle, S.4; v. 59). This is a fundamental part of the Quranic ideology that makes the Islamic religion hostile to democracy. It is not a question just of clash of civilizations, it is a question of the Qur’an wanting to make society into an army.

So countries where Islam reigns without sharing with any other ideology are always dictatorships. Dictators reign because of terror that they justify best by war with a foreign enemy. Name the country with undivided Islamic ideology, and many enemies can always be found, and an active war, justifying the dictatorship. That is why the Sultan of Turkey, even at the heights of the powers of the Ottoman empire, traveled with their treasures, all the way to the battlefield (because in a state of dictatorship, there is no law, hence no security, and even the dear leader is afraid…) Khadafi, the Great Leader, although an enemy of Muslim fundamentalism (which is why the Western powers, after the Iraq disaster, decided to not apply to him the treatment they gave Saddam Hussein), had to fight the West. War creates that atmosphere dictators need to breathe…

France fought an undeclared war against Libya for years, to block Libyan attempts to extent its violent influence to the south. The USA was implicitly backing France. In the end, in a measured response, France, the USA and Britain were able to put Libya back into reasonable control (in a rare success of Bush diplomacy, headed by Biden (!), Libya consented to give up its nuclear weapon program, something developed with the rogue Pakistani, Dr. Khan).

Fast forward to spring 2009. France just opened a new military basis in Abu Dhabi. Invited and paid by the United Arab Emirates. The base has state of the art stealth supersonic interceptors (Rafales). A stealth frigate and a spy ship so secret, journalists were kept away from it when president Sarkozy came to ceremoniously inaugurate it, were in attendance.

A sophisticated French military basis, right in the middle of the Middle Earth, 200 kilometers from Iran, is a strategic game changer. An attack on the Emirates is now an attack on France. The move is part of the long term strategy of the Emirates, which are trying to push forward a version of Islamic civilization far removed from Qur’an literalism (during the Golden Age of Islam, the Shariah was under construction, but not yet an imposition).

Next thing we know, an Air France Airbus 332, four year old, just out of revision, as sophisticated as any jet anywhere, cruising in the middle of the Atlantic, disintegrates over a vast distance (it seems), without the crew being able to send any message (although they had a plethora of systems to do so, are trained to do so immediately, and had three pilots on board). No revindications. Of course.

Does this mean that we are sure the plane was downed by terrorists? No. Actually, the few facts we have indicate rather the opposite. There are pages of automatic messages sent by the stricken plane indicating a succession of failures in crucial computer systems, something never seen before, and hard to reconcile with the effect of a conventional bomb. An exceptional thunderstorm, a kind the greenhouse effect should be making more and more of, seems more likely.

The aircraft flight plan led it straight through a massive Multicell Convective System of thunderstorms which was at peak intensity. Clouds were rising fast, which makes them hard to detect on radar ( Vertical winds of the order of 200 kmh have been detected by satellite. 

In any case, this mysterious tragedy is a reminder that the possibility of terror itself is something that can only get worse, if we do not take drastic measures. One cannot let the situation rot, as in, say, Afghanistan.

The drastic measures, though, cannot come from conventional military means, such as the USA is still presently naively using in Afghanistan and Pakistan. One cannot philosophically police a country by bombing the population, ordering it around, or terrorizing it. It has to be reasoned, instead.

Similarly, Israel’s brute force approach to its existential problem cannot go anywhere close to the best outcome. 

Only new PHILOSOPHICAL approaches will bring better outcomes. Philosophy, applied to everyday life, is the difference between the most civilized people and blood thirsty savages.

To abate their rage, the opponents of the West have to be seduced by the advantages of the West. So one has to have a fully functional Western civilization to seduce with. Not the civilization of Enron, or Goldman Sachs, or of AIG and the TARP. Not the civilization of the plutocracy. (In particular, although sexist, bellicose and enslaving, Islam, at least as depicted by the Qur’an, has a strong equalitarian, even socialist and anti-capitalist ideology; thus it can easily attract those disgusted by the plutocracy, and that is exactly an old argument of the Qaeda.)


Conclusion: Whether we like it or not, it’s just one world. One small world. There is no space for rogues. The potential power of rogues has never been greater. That is one reason to not tolerate Cheney’s rogue ideology, and it is exactly the same reason for not tolerating rogue regimes either. The bottom line is that Cheney says to the entire planet that the West is disgusting, and should be fought: Cheney compromises the security of the West. Certainly more so than the North Korean nuclear dynasty, which could be crushed, if it attacked. Many would die, but it would be done.

But how would you crush billions of souls stealthily poisoned by a hefty dose of hatred for the degenerated travesty of the West ex Vice President Cheney has assaulted us all with? Thus philosophical triage requires us to deal with Cheney and company as a priority. A good way to improve air safety, and, indeed, planetary security. 



Patrice Ayme


Note on aviation safety: 1) Some software modifications of the automatic transmission system the Airbus was carrying would allow to replace many, if not most, of the functions of “black boxes”. As a plane crashes, the automatics could send the data to satellite, as the A 332 did. 

2) The Airbus was equipped with two radars. But radars see only as far as the next anvil thunder cloud. It cannot see the ones behind. There could be a trap behind, with convective cells everywhere.

AF 447 flew through a terrible Multi Convective Cell system for 15 minutes before disintegrating. Air turbulence as high as 9 (nine) g, nine times the acceleration of gravity from air turbulence have been measured. Under such an acceleration, a 250 tons widebody jet weights 2,250 tons, more than the space shuttle at take off, and of course it will disintegrate. 

Meteorological data should be downloaded to planes in real time from satellite, and the crew could map out, in real time, what to do.  As the greenhouse keeps on augmenting, the violence of storms has done so, at least anecdotally. Some large planes have recently found themselves upside down, something that did not use to occur. 

3) The clouds of Inter Tropical Convergence Zone are the highest in the world, because the troposphere is the highest in the tropics (the sun energy brings warm wet air incredibly high, and then it flows north, where it cools, drops and feed back the lower elevation trade winds. On the trajectory of AF 447, clouds went at least to 15,300 meters, nearly ten miles high. (As determined from space data later.)

Only Concorde could fly higher than this.

At high altitude, there is less air drag, and this is why planes fly there, and can go faster than trains (the Japanese experimental maglev and French TGV got limited at 580 kmh from air resistance…). But that less dense air carries less, and planes, cruising as economically as possible are not far from the speed at which air would not carry them enough, and they would stall. It is a question of 100 kmh at most. Once again a problem that Concorde, moving at 600 meters per second (2,000 ft/sec) had less of.

But there may be some mitigation possible. Modern airliners have winglets at the end of their wings, little wings that point vertically. The idea is to reduce the vortex a wing creates. Because of the pressure difference between the upper and lower surfaces of the wing (the difference which provides with lift) air rushes at the extremity of the wing in a curling pattern, and the vertical wing reduces that vertex (which the plane drags with itself).

To have a fixed wing sticking up all the time is a waste, and Boeing and Airbus are studying how to make them mobile. By putting them flat, they would give greater lift. An application (besides lower speeds for take of and landing) could be to fly higher when need be (after all the subsonic U2 could fly as high as Concorde, because it had giant wings).


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