MUST-READ Abridged Excerpts From Interview of Ted Postol, Professor Emeritus, MIT, with Robert Scheer

Photo from Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Gist: From the ‘Best and Brightest’ to a ‘Bunch of Ignorant Punks’

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Postol: “My grave concern is I know some of these characters who worked for Obama, and who now work for Biden. And I’m sorry to say it—I know it will be considered arrogant to say this—but they are ignorant. Let me be very clear: this is not an accidental statement on my part. They are outright ignorant. And they’re a bunch of—you know, they trained at these elite schools; they don’t know anything, but they think they know things.

I have taught at Stanford; I have taught at MIT; I have taught at Princeton and at Harvard. So I know what a lot of these people are, because they are very privileged—this is of course a generalization; there are certainly some extremely intelligent and thoughtful people among these. But a great bulk of these people are just completely in love with themselves; they are convinced that they know a lot more than they do; they will not listen, they’re not interested in learning—I mean, you try to present facts to them, they sort of walk away from you laughing.

And they are not experts. And it’s not a problem—it’s no problem at all that they are not experts. The problem is that they’re not interested in learning. So, you know, I had this character, a guy named Colin Kahl, he’s the deputy assistant secretary now for policy at the Pentagon. He doesn’t know anything. He was at Stanford, they made him a co-director of the center there. Rude beyond belief. And you know, he tells me at one point, I’m trying to discuss something with him—discuss something—he turns around and he says, I’ve got a job, I’ve got a real job, I don’t have time for this. This is a guy who’s at the Department of Defense, top levels now, possibly advising Biden.

This is the danger. And if we look at the Obama administration, we saw similar dangers. There’s a very interesting Atlantic Monthly article written by a guy named Ben Rhodes. Rhodes was the national security advisor for communications in the White House, and he wrote a totally fraudulent, supposedly government intelligence report that was released to the public about the nerve agent attack that occurred in Damascus in August of 2013.

And it’s very interesting; I would suggest your readers go read that Atlantic Monthly article. Because in his attempt to show everybody what a smart guy he is, he’s revealing that his main objective with Obama, with the president, was to get him to make a decision which would have been a disaster for the United States, but he [Rhodes] didn’t know it. But to attack Syria, before the public outrage from the misinformation people had about that nerve agent attack died down. In other words, he didn’t want the public outrage to die down before he forced or tricked or got Obama to make a momentous decision that would have been a disaster for the United States. A total disaster. [Ironically, it was Russian President Putin who pulled Obama’s chestnuts out of that fire.]

So Rhodes is bragging about in this article about the role he played. That’s a real window that people ought to use to look into the mindset of an individual who basically, through privilege and accident [check out Collegiate School in Manhattan, where he spent his formative years], became a national security advisor with no real knowledge of what’s going on.

So we’re in a dangerous situation. We have a lot of—I’m sorry, because I’m so disturbed by this—we have a bunch of punks, you know, 30-year-old punks who come from privileged backgrounds, claiming they’re experts in policy when they actually do not have the basic knowledge. And they’re advising presidents. And this is not a good professional system. we need to do something about it.

We Will All Be Dead

With respect to why nuclear weapons cannot be used is this: if we use them, we will all die. It’s that simple. And I can explain in much more detail why what I just said is correct. So if they ask the question again, why can’t we use these weapons, the simple answer is: if we do, we are all dead. … These weapons start getting used, and before you know it, it escalates into thousands of weapons being used. It’s just inevitable. It’s inevitable that the catastrophe will not be stoppable. So that is why you really ought to be very afraid that nuclear weapons will be used at a ‘low level’.

The argument about using small nuclear weapons is equivalent to saying, if I create only a small spark in this room that’s filled with gasoline vapors, it won’t be a problem. I think this is not a bad analogy. It’s physics rather than social, but it’s basically the situation. You can’t have a small spark in a room that’s filled with gasoline fumes. It’s not going to be a good outcome.”

END OF EXCERPTS from Robert Scheer Interview of Ted Postol

Note: Professors Postol and John Mearsheimer are from Brooklyn; Robert Scheer and I are from the Bronx. None of us had even heard of the Collegiate School in Manhattan, and could not have afforded to go there in the first place.

As for me, I can still hear the admonition of my Irish grandmother, a seamstress in the employ of a wealthy socialite (and thus able to avoid the infamous Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire), as I went off at age 14 to caddy at a “exclusive” Golf Club. 

“Do you know what the ‘upper crust’ is, Raymond?”

I think I do, Grandma.

“No you don’t at all! Sit ye down, then; I’ll tell ye, because you surely need to know this, going off, as you are, to caddy at that fancy golf course.

The ‘upper crust’ is a bunch of crumbs held together by a lot of dough.”