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[P]
IISS releases report on Iraq's WMD arsenal

By mirleid in Media
Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 08:47:37 PM EST
Tags: Politics (all tags)
Politics

The International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) has released today a report on Iraq's Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) capabilities. The IISS has also posted a shortened version of the report on their web site. I am not trying (nor am I willing) to dispute the report. However, I do object to how several media agencies (USAToday, The Guardian and CNN to name but a few) have portrayed it.


The report was based on the information gathered by the 1991-1998 UN inspection program. This alone could indicate that the conclusions might be less than sound (the most recent information is at least 4 years old). On the other hand, one could also argue that any capabilities that Iraq had before will have been upgraded through these last four years, since it was able to work unencumbered by prying foreign eyes. So, let's take what we are being told at face value: the report states that, with regards to nuclear weapons
  • Iraq does not have fissile material in sufficient quantities to produce a nuclear weapon
  • With substantial (technical and material) foreign help, Iraq could produce a nuclear weapon in months
  • Iraq could use "allowed" radioisotopes (eg, medical) to produce a crude radiologial device
The statements listed above seem to indicate that unless a technically competent party starts aiding Iraq (with both technical personnel and fissile material), the best that Iraq can aspire to is an Al-Qaeda style "dirty bomb", which would not be (in my opinion) of significant help in terms of Iraq's strategic goals. In any case, the potential threat of Iraq's nuclear capabilities is offset by its lack of missile technology capable of delivering such a device.

One starts feeling unconfortable when a look is taken at the headlines of the articles mentioned above:
  • "British think tank warns of Iraqi threat" (USA Today)
  • "IISS: The case against Iraq" (CNN)
  • "Iraq could build nuclear weapon within months" (The Guardian)
The reader is driven to think that they must have found something big (or, in the case of having previously read the report summary, "what the hell did I miss in there?"). Looking further through the articles, one is confronted with statements like:

But without stealing or buying nuclear material the development of an Iraqi bomb could take several years, an International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) report said.

Basically, what every one of those articles states is what the report (that, unlike the average newspaper reader, we've had a look at) is saying: without fissile material and some time to develop what is called a "physics package" (the components of a missile that take care of the actual in-flight detonation of the bomb) it could be some considerable time before Iraq has nuclear weapons capabilities. But they are saying this and at the same time, still bearing headlines and intros that seem to indicate that the report proves without a shadow of a doubt that Iraq is on the verge of building nuclear weapons.

To cut a long story short, I think that these articles are just trying to create momentum to support an intervention in Iraq, and attempt to do so based on manipulation of information: this is nothing new, what I think is reaching levels never before witnessed is the obvious support that the media are providing to one of the parties in this conflict. IISS' role in this is also less than transparent: when interviewed by CNN, one of their research fellows is asked"Does your report make a compelling case for George Bush or not?". The answer starts out ok, when it is stated that "the report was not intended to make a compelling case one way of the other", but then goes about doing precisely the opposite, basically stating that we'd better hit them now when their capabilities are still (allegedly) under construction, than getting confirmation first and striking later.

For me, this all just comes as confirmation that one can't trust newspapers to be impartial anymore, and that any attempt to create an informed opinion based on anything that is written in the media is an exercise in futility at best.

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Poll
Impartial, informative news can be found at
o National Journal 0%
o USA Today 0%
o CNN 3%
o Le Monde 3%
o BBC 15%
o Die Welt 0%
o Pravda 6%
o Nowhere 72%

Votes: 133
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o Internatio nal Institute for Strategic Studies
o shortened version
o USAToday
o The Guardian
o CNN
o Also by mirleid


Display: Sort:
IISS releases report on Iraq's WMD arsenal | 220 comments (214 topical, 6 editorial, 0 hidden)
Include a link to IISS' spin on things (4.66 / 3) (#3)
by dmt on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 12:06:31 PM EST

They have put up a statement here:http://www.iiss.org/news-more.php?itemID=88

Interesting poll.  I don't think any news service is impartial in itself; rather that a viewed combination of many different news services (time permitting) gives something approaching impartiality.  Shortwave radio and the Internet are great for this sort of thing.

IISS link about the report. (4.50 / 2) (#4)
by graal on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 12:07:17 PM EST

http://www.iiss.org/news-more.php?itemID=88

You probably have to buy the thing. At any rate, they replicate one page of the report and report the findings in the link above.

I'm always a little wary of think-tank reports.

--
For Thou hast commanded, and so it is, that every
inordinate affection should be its own punishment.
-- St. Augustine (Confessions, i)

Poll (3.60 / 5) (#6)
by Koala2 on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 12:10:04 PM EST

Nice Article, but your poll opinions are very Us/Anglocentric. Two Big European Newspaper that are known for independent news: Le Monde diplomatique (France/French) Neue Zürcher Zeitung (Swiss/German)

Also (4.00 / 2) (#14)
by krek on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 01:50:21 PM EST

He forgot AFP (Agence France-Presse) and SMH (Sydney Morning Herald), two excellent sources.

[ Parent ]
May I add (4.00 / 2) (#35)
by behindthecurtain on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 02:49:09 PM EST

Two English news publications who are also known to be impartial: Harper's and World Press Review.

lalala

[ Parent ]

Let's not forget... (4.00 / 2) (#7)
by imrdkl on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 12:22:34 PM EST

the issue of what we don't know we don't know -- Donald Rumsfeld

Classic (n/t) (1.50 / 2) (#25)
by graal on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 02:23:03 PM EST


--
For Thou hast commanded, and so it is, that every
inordinate affection should be its own punishment.
-- St. Augustine (Confessions, i)
[ Parent ]

I have to assume (4.00 / 1) (#58)
by imrdkl on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 07:47:04 PM EST

you're referring to my sig.

[ Parent ]
Its all C-Y-A anyway. . . (3.85 / 7) (#8)
by Pop Top on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 01:01:45 PM EST

IF the US invades and recovers a valise of bomb grade plutonium THEN the world cheers and President Bush is a hero who can say "I told ya' so!" whether or not the U.N. says "okay" and whether or not the U.S. Congress says "okay"

IF intelligence suggests Saddam currently has a cache of plutonium sufficient to build a bomb, I say go today and damn the political fallout. Political fallout being the lesser of evils. . .

Yet, does anyone think the Israelis would hesitate to act if a Saddam bomb was imminent?

The MLP link seems to say Saddam is months away from a nuclear bomb, however that clock doesn't start counting until or unless he acquires weapons grade plutonium and/or uranium. Okay, fair enough, but that fact has been true for a long, long time and is not new information.

President Bush does need political cover (C-Y-A) in the event the US does invade, NO uranium or plutonium is discovered, Saddam plays hide and seek with US Special Forces, the Kurds start fighting for a Kurdish state, Iran seeks to annex southeast Iraq, no one steps forward to unify the country and 12 months after the fact Iraq is one heck of a big mess.

IF the United Nations - or even a majority of the European Union - says to "get Saddam" then I am okay with the idea. Then, we can call on the world community to help re-build Iraq after the fact.

But to go unilaterally will require a long term deployment of US forces with the whole world whining - unless - the US finds the plutonium.

Its a really big gamble to go it alone, or with Tony Blair as the only US ally. The 2004 election might even be at stake!

Easy solution to CYA (3.40 / 5) (#10)
by br284 on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 01:26:32 PM EST

Send in some of the idle LAPD Rampart officers with the initial Special Forces invasion. Plant evidence. Have some grunt trooper from the Midwest find the planted evidence. Parade the evidence to the world. Go to full war. All problems solved -- you put some of LA's corrupr gang-busters to work, you convince the world that Saddam deserved the war, and good ol' Slim Pickins from the farm in the Iowa becomes the new hero and posterboy for the US defense establishment.

-Chris

[ Parent ]

I thought plutonium could be traced [n/t] (4.00 / 2) (#23)
by Pop Top on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 02:19:11 PM EST



[ Parent ]
Not likely. (5.00 / 2) (#42)
by ti dave on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 03:37:31 PM EST

You're probably thinking of SemtexTM, which contains particles that bear each particular lot number.

I'm sure you could dope plutonium in a similiar manner, but who would want to do that?

"If you dial," Iran said, eyes open and watching, "for greater venom, then I'll dial the same."

[ Parent ]
You mean, like how gold can be traced? (none / 0) (#212)
by haflinger on Mon Nov 04, 2002 at 11:33:03 AM EST

Nope. Plutonium's an element. No complex molecular structure; no molecular structure at all, in fact.

Did people from the future send George Carlin back in time to save rusty and K5? - leviramsey
[ Parent ]
problem? no problem. (3.83 / 6) (#13)
by F a l c o n on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 01:48:49 PM EST

- unless - the US finds the plutonium.

They will find some, whether it's there or no. That's what the CIA is for, isn't it? And Bush Sr. was CIA director once.

If this were a movie, I'd give it a bad score for utter predictability.
--
Back in Beta (too many new features added): BattleMaster
[ Parent ]

What we need is another Osirak (4.25 / 4) (#45)
by Demiurge on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 04:43:53 PM EST

What Israel would do is launch a limited, pinpoint strike at suspected weapons factories. Quick, simple, and relatively painless.

[ Parent ]
I don't trust them not to plant evidence (4.00 / 1) (#112)
by DodgyGeezer on Tue Sep 10, 2002 at 09:12:33 AM EST

IF the US invades and recovers a valise of bomb grade plutonium THEN the world cheers

I don't think the US can be trusted to do this.  The stakes are very high, and I wouldn't put it past the US to plant evidence afterwards to justify their actions.  I haven't heard the follow-up to this story yet, but an initial inspection of the little that has been published leaves me very troubled.

[ Parent ]
The 2004 election may be the point of it all... (3.00 / 1) (#121)
by Ricdude on Tue Sep 10, 2002 at 10:25:00 AM EST

Its a really big gamble to go it alone, or with Tony Blair as the only US ally. The 2004 election might even be at stake!
If you ask me, Bush doesn't mind stalling until we get closer to the 2004 elections, and he can use the old "How dare you not support your president in this time of national crisis?" line again. Think about this. If we start a war against Iraq today, Bush will have two years to produce a tangible positive effect as a result of that effort. If there is none, then that's a mark against him for the 2004 election.

But, if he starts a war against Iraq in say, May 2004, he won't be expected to produce a tangible positive effect by the time the elections roll around. The US is in an "Iraq is Bad, Stop Hussein" fervor, and blind patriotism dictates that the masses follow the lead of the president in a war, no matter how stupid.

Not to mention we'll have two whole years of (even more) anti-Iraq FUD to get the whole nation in a big anti-Iraq mood, so any dissenters will be declared "turncoats", maybe even "heretics", arrested as "enemy combatants" and summarily shot. Ok, maybe that was stretching it a little. But only a little.



[ Parent ]

Hmm... (3.60 / 5) (#12)
by Run4YourLives on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 01:30:01 PM EST

So you're surprised that the three major press sources you provide... CNN, USA Today (ha ha, hey what's on Inside Edition tonight, btw?) and The Guardian support their current government's position...

Where was the rock you just crawled out from again?

I, in fact, do agree that there is a major problem with the lack of "independent" media coverage out there today. However, I'm really starting to take issue with the fact that people continue to feign surprise over this fact. "What??? You mean USA Today has an interest in supporting the large corporation(s) that provide it with an operating budget??!!?? No Way!!?? Who would have guessed it???!!!"

For me, this all just comes as confirmation that one can't trust newspapers to be impartial anymore, and that any attempt to create an informed opinion based on anything that is written in the media is an exercise in futility at best.

I really feel for you if you're just figuring this out now...
 

It's slightly Japanese, but without all of that fanatical devotion to the workplace. - CheeseburgerBrown

My rock (3.00 / 1) (#15)
by mirleid on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 01:51:40 PM EST

...is in Europe. And I still believe that the press is obligated to impartiality (in my country, there is even an independent agency, with actual power, whose job is to ensure just that). So, I am sorry if my naivete has somehow annoyed you. It has at least reinforced your conviction (which you couldn't resist to share with the rest of us) that everyone that still thinks that mass media should communicate based on a set of principles is an idiot...



Chickens don't give milk
[ Parent ]
The way I do it (4.50 / 2) (#24)
by krek on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 02:19:45 PM EST

Is to find as many sources of information that I can, and then I identify their bias as best I can, then after reading all of these opinions I hopefully have enough to discern that which is reality.

This is easiest with heavily biased news sources, Independant Media is the best source of heavily biased information, it almost always pushing far left politics.

Another good source of heavily biased information is business reporting, this tends to look purely at the fiscal side of any conflict and often gives the most acurate view of the politics involved.

Bad sources of information are those like CNN, ABC, BBC and all of the other mainstream media outlets, they, as has been pointed out, are purely in it for the money, and are pushing the least offensive and least controversial view of any situation. They provide some of the facts mixed with as many inflammatory descriptors as is feasible, and bias varies with the reporter. It is very difficult to see what side they are pushing, but they do push it, the use of subtle, inflammatory descriptors places the correct mindset into the reader, thus allowing the sparse facts to push the agenda in the direction that the descriptors have laid out.

An example:

At the refugee camp last night, there were over a thousand refugees staging protests over the conditions in which they are being kept.

Versus:

Last night, at one of the camp for illegal immigrants, there were thousands of illegals running riot, protests broke out over the supposed less-than-ideal conditions in which they are being detained.

Bias is impossible to elminate and objectivity is one of those theoretical concepts, like the frictionless surface, the point particle, and the perfect vacum, they exist only as an ideal. The best way to defeat bias is to be able to identify it and learn to filter based on this discovered bias. Whether you blindly believe mainstream media or indy media, it all amounts to the same thing, you, taking on faith, all information given to you. Your only defense is your own mind, and then, the bias just does not matter.

[ Parent ]
Also don't forget youre brain... (1.50 / 2) (#65)
by marc987 on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 08:35:12 PM EST

It tends to be biased against information that makes it feel stupid.

[ Parent ]
Yours might be. (4.00 / 1) (#120)
by krek on Tue Sep 10, 2002 at 10:10:32 AM EST

Information rarely has ever made me feel stupid, on the contrary, it has always given me a sense of enlightenment, people, on the other hand, are quite capable of making me feel stupid.

[ Parent ]
I'm confused (3.00 / 1) (#162)
by marc987 on Tue Sep 10, 2002 at 08:30:47 PM EST

Sometimes i think i'm being poetically clear but my comment ends up lacking substance and relevance.

Information rarely has ever made me feel stupid, on the contrary, it has always given me a sense of enlightenment

I feel the same also

people, on the other hand, are quite capable of making me feel stupid.

If a person makes me feel stupid, offended or upset i will have more trouble noticing if there are any valid parts in the information being presented to me. I believe my feelings originate from processes in my brain.

If you or anyone felt any disrespect it definately was not my intention.

[ Parent ]

ditto (3.00 / 1) (#185)
by krek on Wed Sep 11, 2002 at 12:20:40 PM EST

If you or anyone felt any disrespect it definately was not my intention.

Right back at you, or anyone else that needs it, and not just in this thread.

It may, in fact, be my brain playing prejudicial tricks on me, but in my experience, those who go out of their way to make you feel stupid are, generally, those who have little of relevance to say, so instead they sabotage the conversation.

In my opinion, these people have nothing that could be of any use to you, their opinions and ideas are tainted with their need to make others feel less than they, feel no shame in learning nothing from these people.

[ Parent ]
Hang on a second... (2.55 / 9) (#16)
by seebs on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 01:52:53 PM EST

We're talking about an entire *COUNTRY*, which you admit freely has had three or four years of uninterrupted time to work on this, and, at the time, it was clear that they could have been well on their way to a bomb with any outside help... and you think it's scare-mongering to hypothesize that they might have done it by now?

The number of starving people in Iraq, compared to the amount of money they take in, should make it pretty clear that a lot of resources have been turned to *something* other than support for the populace.  Any bets on what?

I would say that, if they were "not very close, but could maybe do it with help" three or four years ago, and have been presumably doing their best to smuggle stuff for the intervening time, they could easily have a nuke of some sort by now.

Three years is a long time if you're willing to starve your people to fund your weapons research.


If Bush and Blair (and seebs) are so sure. . . (2.50 / 2) (#22)
by Pop Top on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 02:16:50 PM EST

be like Nike -  just do it - then beg forgiveness, not permission.

[ Parent ]
I agree (4.00 / 2) (#27)
by krek on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 02:30:26 PM EST

I do not agree with the desire to go to war with Iraq in any way, but, at the same time, if they are going to do it, then do it. Pansy-assing around, treatening like a big bully does nothing but give Iraq the time required to build support and prepare defences.

Delaying war helps only your enemy.

[ Parent ]
I didn't say I was sure... (2.00 / 1) (#33)
by seebs on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 02:47:14 PM EST

I just think the casual dismissal of the possibility that an entire country, given three years, might be able to cobble together some nukes, is pretty much ridiculous.


[ Parent ]
Hey, nothing casual here. . . (2.00 / 1) (#37)
by Pop Top on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 02:55:57 PM EST

IF Saddam has a nuke, I would hope US forces would be racing the Israelis to "take down" Saddam, to lapse into lingo from Cops . . .

Having no security clearance, or access to Pentagon intelligence, I have no clue whether Saddam has a bomb or not, but since neither the US nor Israel are currently on the ground in Iraq, that makes me think Saddam ain't got one yet.

[ Parent ]

Playing the odds... (3.00 / 1) (#43)
by seebs on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 03:53:21 PM EST

If they *KNEW* he had a nuke, perhaps.  If they merely think it's *likely* or *possible*?  Then they have to weigh the damage done by guessing wrong... and so on, and so forth.

It's not a simple issue with nice easy answers.


[ Parent ]

$3 crack reaches K5? (3.66 / 3) (#91)
by Steve Ballmer on Tue Sep 10, 2002 at 02:49:53 AM EST

I'm amazed that someone was so threatened by the parent comment, he felt compelled to rate it "0". Anyone with TU status care to reveal the offender's username?

[ Parent ]
Remember their technology level (4.00 / 1) (#125)
by ph317 on Tue Sep 10, 2002 at 10:55:52 AM EST


There was a report out not long ago with an interesting quote that was to the effect of (paraphrased): The middle east missed the industrial revolution, and now the information age is passing them up as well.

If you took a slice of the US (both rural and urban) to match Iraq's population, landmass, and raw resources, that slice coudl very well develop nuclear arms in less than three years without starving people.  However, Iraq doesn't have the industrial and information infrastructure to support this kind of rapid development.  Besides, how many start physicists do you think they have to develop an untested device on the fly without proper resources and make it work the first time?


[ Parent ]

Impartiality (4.00 / 4) (#17)
by DesiredUsername on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 01:54:08 PM EST

"...confirmation that one can't trust newspapers to be impartial anymore."

I agree that they are not impartial. But you imply that they are printing Administration-created propaganda which I don't think it necessarily so. The average Joe on the street wouldn't mind "killing Saddam" and in any case "Iraq has The Bomb!" is a great paper-selling headline. The theory that the papers are scaremongering (rather than corrupt) is sufficient to cover the facts.

Play 囲碁

Headlines: (1.60 / 5) (#18)
by FredBloggs on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 01:58:17 PM EST

"But they are saying this and at the same time, still bearing headlines and intros that seem to indicate that the report proves without a shadow of a doubt that Iraq is on the verge of building nuclear weapons."

&

"To cut a long story short, I think that these articles are just trying to create momentum to support an intervention in Iraq"

Sorry, buy all newspapers do this all the time! Nothing to see here...


Building the Bomb (3.80 / 5) (#19)
by Alias on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 02:03:04 PM EST

With substantial (technical and material) foreign help, Iraq could produce a nuclear weapon in months.
Big deal. The same can be said of about 90% of the world's countries. Even Switzerland tried to build the Bomb...


Stéphane "Alias" Gallay -- Damn! My .sig is too lon

Countries? (4.14 / 7) (#46)
by Happy Monkey on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 04:49:00 PM EST

With substantial technical and material foreign help, 100% of the world's people could do it.
___
Length 17, Width 3
[ Parent ]
A threat to the US ... or to Israel? (1.45 / 22) (#20)
by snowcold on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 02:13:53 PM EST

The entire story can be summarized as follows: Data shows that Iraq is not a threat to anybody yet the media twists the words of independent researchers to say the opposite.

The fact is that Iraq poses no danger to the United States, however they have enough conventional military power to worry the government of Israel. Since, in sharp contrast with other middle-east countries, Iraq has a government that is not a puppet of the Jewish/US power the Jewish owned and operated media in the US and Britain start a smear campaign against them.

---
Freedom is not free; free men are not equal; and equal men are not free.

Good website... (3.50 / 2) (#31)
by worth on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 02:35:55 PM EST

It also contains a link to a website that sells "Aryan Wear."

[ Parent ]
Ah yes... (4.75 / 4) (#32)
by cr8dle2grave on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 02:42:54 PM EST

...those damn pesky Jews and their quest to control the world. I mean, how can you doubt it after having read the The Protocols of the Elders of Zion?

---
Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera


[ Parent ]
The search for decent news coverage. (4.66 / 6) (#21)
by graal on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 02:15:10 PM EST

You could do worse than The Christian Science Monitor. Personally, I listen to alot of NPR, but try to balance it out with conservative sources like The National Review. There are a variety of other news sources I use, most of them online, when I want a faith-based perspective.

But news free from bias? I'm not sure that it's possible.

I recall a high-school geography teacher explaining map bias years ago. After some discussion about the various projections, someone in class suggested a globe as a non-biased map. No, said the teacher. The labels are in English, and so the map favors English-speakers. It occurred to me later on that a truly non-biased map would be a black and white globe, with no labels or borders at all: black continents and white water. Non-biased, to be sure, but pretty boring and practically useless.

--
For Thou hast commanded, and so it is, that every
inordinate affection should be its own punishment.
-- St. Augustine (Confessions, i)

Once (4.50 / 2) (#28)
by krek on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 02:30:47 PM EST

I had a globe as a child that was just a satelite image, printed on a 3D globe, with raised mountains and slightly sunken oceans. The effect, in my mind at the time, was that it was a perfect representation of the planet. I now know that I was a bit off, but still, no colors other than the color of the land, no typography at all (other than the copyright I assume).

I don't know, just thought I would bring it up.

[ Parent ]
Bias against the color-blind. (4.50 / 2) (#30)
by graal on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 02:34:08 PM EST

:)

But it sounds pretty cool. That's probably about as close as you could get, besides my harebrained black-and-white globe idea.

--
For Thou hast commanded, and so it is, that every
inordinate affection should be its own punishment.
-- St. Augustine (Confessions, i)
[ Parent ]

Was South America on the Bottom? (4.00 / 1) (#124)
by jforan on Tue Sep 10, 2002 at 10:51:21 AM EST

A truly non-biased globe would rotate vertically.  Of course, depending upon which way you place it in the room, there is always a torque bias.

Jeff

I hops to be barley workin'.
[ Parent ]

It rotated on three axises (4.00 / 1) (#187)
by krek on Wed Sep 11, 2002 at 12:27:43 PM EST

One where it was attached to the base, on a vertical axis; One attached at the poles, on an axis that would simulate the true rotation of the earth; The third was at the equator attached like a gyroscope would be attached, so you could fip it upside down, and even have Japan pointing up, or down, if you wanted.

Best globe ever.... aside from the one with the liquor cabinet inside, oh, and the one with the "Destroy World" button inside of course.

[ Parent ]
Huh? (2.40 / 5) (#48)
by delmoi on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 05:13:06 PM EST

A black and white map in such a manner would be racist against white people, because it would be saying land is "black" and meant for black people, while white people should be pushed into the sea.

Perhaps a photographic image of the surface earth would work better..
--
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
[ Parent ]
Another bias (1.80 / 10) (#52)
by Meatbomb on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 05:38:46 PM EST

Q: Why is North "up"?

A: Because the white people with the guns say it is.

_______________

Good News for Liberal Democracy!

[ Parent ]
Re: Another bias (4.50 / 2) (#130)
by Eccles on Tue Sep 10, 2002 at 12:05:38 PM EST

Q: Why is North "up"?

A: As any physicist will tell you, it's the right hand rule (based on the rotation of the earth.)

[ Parent ]
there's bias, and then there's bias (3.00 / 2) (#60)
by speek on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 07:58:05 PM EST

The fact that everything has bias is not a compelling reason to defend intentional misdirection, obscuration of the facts, and manipulation of people's emotions. While it isn't possible to be free of bias, it is possible to remove bias once recognized, or at least counteract it.

--
what would be cool, is if there was like a bat signal for tombuck - [ Parent ]

Let's say (4.57 / 19) (#26)
by medham on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 02:23:29 PM EST

That Iraq does build nuclear weapons, say a couple. Who gives a shit? What are they going to do with them?

  • Attack our soldiers? Ok. Don't send our soldiers to take over their country. Problem solved. Also, see answer below:
  • Attack Israel? Yes, Hussein has gotten this far by his predilection for suicidal gestures. Israel has far more WMD than all of the other countries in the region combined, and would be glad to use them if given a pretext.
  • Threaten Kuwait or Saudi Arabia with impunity because of nuclear shield. The problem with this is they still don't have a nuclear shield. The current administration would likely use WMD first if Iraq tried something like this, which they don't have anywhere near the military strength to do.

The solution is exercise tight military-import controls on Iraq and work to democratize the region. And by 'democratize,' I mean 'encourage democracy' not 'instill U.S.-friendly dictator.'

Why do people think this is so complicated?

The real 'medham' has userid 6831.

Glad to see you're pro BMD (3.66 / 3) (#34)
by Minion on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 02:47:41 PM EST

Since you seem to believe that the only method of delivering a nuke is via missiles or aircraft.

[ Parent ]
Oh boy (4.00 / 1) (#40)
by medham on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 03:07:56 PM EST

Let's say that some Iraqi agents smuggle a suitcase bomb into Manhatten concealed in a bale of marijuana. The result? Instant annihilation, same as if they launched a VX attack against U.S. ground troops.


The real 'medham' has userid 6831.
[ Parent ]

How to tell? Dust the bomb for fingerprints? (nt) (5.00 / 1) (#44)
by pyramid termite on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 04:29:03 PM EST


I'm just pandering to the lowest common denominator here.

- thelizman
[ Parent ]
Yes, actually... (5.00 / 4) (#72)
by gr3y on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 09:51:17 PM EST

Weapons-grade uranium and plutonium have distinct chemical signatures, based on impurities in the material when it was refined.

In effect, a fingerprint.

Using the fingerprint, it's possible to trace the material back to the mine it was taken from, the laboratory that refined it, the personnel that worked with it, and every step thereafter.

Note I said "possible". Having this information makes it easier to trace, but is by no means a guarantee.

I am a disruptive technology.
[ Parent ]

Assuming (4.50 / 2) (#50)
by delmoi on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 05:14:13 PM EST

That we could figure out who did it. Or maybe we'll just attack iraq no matter what happens, as we seem to be doing...
--
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
[ Parent ]
work to democratize the region (4.00 / 1) (#36)
by Humuhumunukunukuapuaa on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 02:51:44 PM EST

I think a better strategy is this: one by one support fundamentalist regimes in Middle Eastern countries. The point is that Islamic fundamentalism is one poor way to run a country. It doesn't take long for people to discover how bad it is. Once they have discovered that you can then push them toward democracy (look at Iran for example). Any Middle-Eastern country that is pushed toward democracy is always going to be at risk of turning to fundamentalism unless the population have seen it first hand.
--
(&()*&^#@!!&_($&)!&$(*#$(!$&_(!$*&&!$@
[ Parent ]
Brilliant plan! (4.14 / 7) (#47)
by delmoi on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 05:11:33 PM EST

Yes, similarly, I think we should work towards fundamentalist Christian rule in Europe and the US as well, because these places are tending towards Christian fundamentalism, and people won't realize how bad it is until they've gotten a chance to experience it.

After all, people are stupid, and the lives of whole nations of people are really just toys for armchair generals to play around with.

Or maybe, here's a thought, we could just stop fucking around with other countries
--
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
[ Parent ]
Europe certainly isn't tending towards... (4.00 / 1) (#51)
by Humuhumunukunukuapuaa on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 05:34:03 PM EST

...Christian fundamentalism. And I wouldn't propose this strategy for the US because it's too big. That's why I said "one at a time". If all the Middle-Eastern states turned fundamentalist at the same time we'd be in big trouble. One relatively small country at a time would be manageable.

Or maybe, here's a thought, we could just stop fucking around with other countries
Oh, I forgot. Foreigners actually like living under despots with inhumane 'justice' systems and no civil rights and we shouldn't help them.

My ethical principles don't stop at a border just because some tin-pot general posted a flag in the ground and said "this is my country" or because they didn't swear allegiance to the Constitution.
--
(&()*&^#@!!&_($&)!&$(*#$(!$&_(!$*&&!$@
[ Parent ]

US too big? (5.00 / 1) (#101)
by martingale on Tue Sep 10, 2002 at 06:50:06 AM EST

...Christian fundamentalism. And I wouldn't propose this strategy for the US because it's too big.
You're behind the times, Humuhumunukunukuapuaa. The bible belt is already full of people you can just nudge in the right direction. Leave California alone for a while, they've already mutated into some other plane of existence. That leave the East Coast. Not as big as it looked in the beginning now, isn't it? I think it's doable.

[ Parent ]
Apologies for my lack of clarity (5.00 / 1) (#133)
by Humuhumunukunukuapuaa on Tue Sep 10, 2002 at 01:21:39 PM EST

I don't mean it's too big to convert. Too big to be safe to convert. If the US became a fundamentalist Christian nation there'd be no turning back. They'd send out crusades and we'd all end up dying in a prophecy fulfilling apocalypse. Similarly if many Muslim nations simultaneously became fundamentalist we'd have a pretty nasty situation on our hands.
--
(&()*&^#@!!&_($&)!&$(*#$(!$&_(!$*&&!$@
[ Parent ]
How many centuries you got? (4.00 / 2) (#84)
by SomeGuy on Tue Sep 10, 2002 at 12:00:04 AM EST

Once they have discovered that you can then push them toward democracy (look at Iran for example).

The Iranian revolution was in 1979. If 23 years and counting is your definition of "doesn't take long", I'm awestruck at your patience...

[ Parent ]
23 years is but a moment (5.00 / 1) (#118)
by decaf_dude on Tue Sep 10, 2002 at 10:00:26 AM EST

In historical terms. You are talking about nation-building here, not a quick fix boob job.


--
http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=89158&cid=7713039


[ Parent ]
the problem is... (4.00 / 1) (#71)
by dachshund on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 09:35:44 PM EST

The solution is exercise tight military-import controls on Iraq and work to democratize the region. And by 'democratize,' I mean 'encourage democracy' not 'instill U.S.-friendly dictator.'

The problem is this: if Saddam Hussein obtains a nuclear weapon, then we can never force him or any other government out. He becomes a fixture. Still, I'm not in favor of invading Iraq unless somebody can give us real evidence that he's close to getting a nuke and that there's absolutely no other way to stop it (for instance, the way the Israelis did back before the Gulf War.)

[ Parent ]

how is that a problem again? (4.50 / 2) (#102)
by martingale on Tue Sep 10, 2002 at 06:55:03 AM EST

medham suggests that the US shouldn't force Hussein or any government out, and you say that's peachy, but the problem is that way you can't force him or any other government out? Forgot to click the preview button again?

[ Parent ]
Medham's position (4.00 / 1) (#204)
by dachshund on Fri Sep 13, 2002 at 10:52:39 PM EST

medham suggests that the US shouldn't force Hussein or any government out

Why? Medham offers no support for this position, and that's mainly because it's unsupportable. Will the US never have any reason to invade the country? Can he assert that, or is it just a hopeful position?

I suppose I thought that this was obvious, but I should have made it explicit in my response.

[ Parent ]

Nothing new (4.66 / 9) (#29)
by cr8dle2grave on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 02:32:16 PM EST

The summary posted at the IISS site does nothing but reiterate the same information and projections that have been widely reported for years now. According to Dr. Khidir Hamza, a founding member of the Iraqi nuclear program and its head from 1987 until his defection in 1996, Iraq perfected its diffusion technique for enriching uranium shortly after the end of the Gulf War, but the inspections severely hampered the project's progress. By his estimate, if Iraq had a working centrifuge, they would still be a couple of years away from producing a working nuclear device. Any evidence of an operational Iraqi centrifuge would be significant news, but that is not what is being reported here.

As for a reliable source of information, The Federation of American Scientists is probably the most reliable public source of information on the nuclear capability of any country. They maintain an up to date and comprehensive report on Iraq.

---
Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera


Hamza (2.00 / 3) (#38)
by wji on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 02:57:01 PM EST

If Hamza is the guy I'm thinking of, don't trust him. He's a lying sack of something brown. His information doesn't match any of the information collected by anyone else and he has no proof of being "Saddam's bombmaker" or being involved in his nuke program in any major role for a long time.

In conclusion, the Powerpuff Girls are a reactionary, pseudo-feminist enterprise.
[ Parent ]
Not sure... (4.50 / 2) (#41)
by cr8dle2grave on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 03:16:36 PM EST

...if he is who you are thinking of, but it wouldn't surprise me if he was attacked by a leftist ragsheet or two as he offers up evidence a number people don't want to hear: Iraq vigorously pursued a nuclear weapons program since the late sixties and currently has the knowledge to cobble together a nuclear weapon if given access to right materials. There was a lot of false information floating around about Hamza immediately after his defection, including claims attributed to him which he maintains he never made. One thing is for sure, he was the director of the Iraqi nuclear program before and after the Gulf War. If he weren't don't you think someone associated with IAEA or UNSCOM would have called his bluff? I saw him testify before congress with Richard Butler, former director of UNSCOM in charge of Iraq, and they both intimated professional knowledge of one another dating to time of the initial weapons inspections of Iraq.

If he has been thoroughly discredited, please post a link substantiating this claim.

---
Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera


[ Parent ]
Couple things (4.00 / 1) (#79)
by wji on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 11:27:13 PM EST

Perhaps he's not the guy I'm thinking of.

Iraq did indeed pursue nukes at least up to 1991 but the program was dismantled by the IAEI (or some acronym like that) inspectors. Nukes aren't like bio- or chem- weapons, you need heavy duty equipment to either enrich uranium or produce plutonium and it's relatively easy to stop. Intelligent and determined teenagers could breed anthrax or formulate sarin, but not make a nuke without being handed plutonium.

And that's another point -- the statement "Iraq could make nukes if it had plutonium" is idiotic, as any country with an engineer and some physics books could make nukes if they had plutonium. If you just want a super-truck-bomb explosion and some nasty irradiation a kid could do it. The problem is you need an entire nuclear reactor to make plutonium, which takes a lot of resources and effort.

In conclusion, the Powerpuff Girls are a reactionary, pseudo-feminist enterprise.
[ Parent ]

Yes and No (5.00 / 1) (#83)
by cr8dle2grave on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 11:56:04 PM EST

Iraq did indeed pursue nukes at least up to 1991 but the program was dismantled by the IAEI (or some acronym like that) inspectors.

Iraq reported to the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Association) as it had an acknowledged and legal (under the terms of the non-proliferation treaty) nuclear program. Although the IAEA never found a smoking gun, many had long suspected Iraq of secretly running an illegal nuclear weaponization program; a suspicion which was irrefutably confirmed after the Gulf War. UNSCOM was the UN body established to investigate and dismantle Iraq's illegal weapons programs.

Nukes aren't like bio- or chem- weapons, you need heavy duty equipment to either enrich uranium or produce plutonium and it's relatively easy to stop.

Agreed. You need a reactor to produce plutonium and Iraq lost their French reactor when the Israelis bombed it. Among the various methods of producing enriched weapons grade uranium is the use of a centrifuge and technique known as diffusion. This, according to Hamza -- and confirmed by weapons inspectors -- was the technique pursued by the Iraqis after the loss of their reactor. As for its being relatively easy to stop, that depends entirely on whether or not you know where the centrifuge facility is. Pakistan and Iraq both managed to build one and use it to enrich uranium without being detected (or, at least, without being widely exposed).

And that's another point -- the statement "Iraq could make nukes if it had plutonium" is idiotic, as any country with an engineer and some physics books could make nukes if they had plutonium.

True, but neither I nor Hamza made any such claim. Hamza's claim is that Iraq has the technical knowledge and experience to make a weaponized nuclear device within a few years (perhaps less now, as this assessment was made in 1988) if it had in its possession a sufficient amount of fissible material.

---
Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera


[ Parent ]
Correction (4.00 / 1) (#85)
by cr8dle2grave on Tue Sep 10, 2002 at 12:04:24 AM EST

I messed up my last point.

You said:

And that's another point -- the statement "Iraq could make nukes if it had plutonium" is idiotic, as any country with an engineer and some physics books could make nukes if they had plutonium.

I meant to say it's no small accomplishment to build a nuclear weapon, even if you have plutonium -- there are significant engineering problems to overcome to produce even a positively simple nuclear bomb. The important point made by Hamza is that Iraq has the ability to engineer a more sophisticated design and to domestically produce enriched uranium, which would allow them to manufacture a far greater number of nuclear devices.

---
Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera


[ Parent ]
See my diary entry (3.90 / 11) (#39)
by wji on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 03:01:43 PM EST

The IISS kind of overstates things and presents nebulous suspicion as solid evidence, but it's the media who really acted as propagandists here. CNN's headline was basically "Saddam could make nukes!!!!!!...if someone gave him plutonium." I'd bet a significant number of K5ers could build nukes given plutonium -- hell, for a terrorist "dirty bomb" you've just got to smack two pieces together with your hands.

The Guardian was even worse, though. As I recall they said something like "Saddam could kill millions of people with nukes!!!!!!...if he had nukes."

It hasn't all been propaganda in the media, though. Scott Ritter finally got on CBC radio and got represented fairly, unlike on CNN where he's presented as kind of a nut and they don't mention he's an ex-Marine Corps colonel and a registered Republican.

In conclusion, the Powerpuff Girls are a reactionary, pseudo-feminist enterprise.

Just wondering (5.00 / 5) (#53)
by cr8dle2grave on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 06:12:25 PM EST

What's the stock defense of Ritter's credibility when considering the apparent vast discrepancy between his stated position today and the position he stated in his 1998 UNSCOM resignation letter? You know, the one that contains:

The sad truth is that Iraq today is not disarmed anywhere near the level required by Security Council resolutions. As you know, UNSCOM has good reason to believe that there are significant numbers of proscribed weapons and related components and the means to manufacture such weapons unaccounted for in Iraq today.

Keep in mind, Ritter (nor anyone else for that matter) has not returned to Iraq since that point as anything more than a guest of Iraq, and neither has he been privy to any secure intelligence.

---
Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera


[ Parent ]
From the site you linked to... (3.00 / 1) (#57)
by marc987 on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 07:27:07 PM EST

It seems Ritter wanted to carry out his madate but was continually stopped or held back by the US gouverment. Under these conditions who knows what deals where made to garantee a "pleasant" separation for both side.

Maybe later he put the "disarmement level of the security council" in a larger context and decided it was absurd, just guessing.

[ Parent ]

His own explanation: (4.75 / 4) (#62)
by wji on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 08:02:35 PM EST

Ritter's own explanation, I think, is that it's indeed true that they never diarmed Iraq to the required level. But that meant accounting for literally every single weapon, which was just impossible. Ritter tells a story about the Iraqis blowing up a weapons warehouse and burying it, forcing the UNSCOM guys to dig it up and do forensics, as if it was an airline crash site. They eventually recovered (IIRC) 93 unique serial numbers out of 96 missiles. The 3 were listed as not destroyed. Chem and bio weapons break down over time and many facilities were destroyed in Desert Storm. It's just impossible to account for everything, but in light of that a "90 to 95 percent" accounting is a very large figure.

In conclusion, the Powerpuff Girls are a reactionary, pseudo-feminist enterprise.
[ Parent ]
Doesn't fly (5.00 / 6) (#69)
by cr8dle2grave on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 09:24:42 PM EST

That doesn't address the central discrepancy between his stated position as of 1998 and his current position first forwarded in 2000.

As of 1998, Ritter was on record as making two substantive and independent claims:

  1. The US was not solidly in support of the UNSCOM inspection program and failed on numerous occasions to advance the cause of inspections in the Security Council. He further charged that the US and the Security Council abandoned "[their] most basic of responsibilities" and "made the Security Council a witting partner to an overall Iraqi strategy of weakening the Special Commission." (Italics mine) He wanted the US to play hard ball and it, instead, played politics.
  2. The weapons inspections were an ongoing necessity because "UNSCOM has good reason to believe that there are significant numbers of proscribed weapons and related components and the means to manufacture such weapons unaccounted for in Iraq today." (Italics mine) He also claimed:

Iraq today is challenging the special commission to come up with a weapon and say where is the weapon in Iraq, and yet part of their efforts to conceal their capabilities, I believe, have been to disassemble weapons into various components and to hide these components throughout Iraq. I think the danger right now is that without effective inspections, without effective monitoring, Iraq can in a very short period of time measure the months[sic], reconstitute chemical biological weapons, long-range ballistic missiles to deliver these weapons, and even certain aspects of their nuclear weaponization program.

By 2000 Ritter had turned around completely and was making significantly different claims:

  1. He still maintained that the US was playing political games, but now his claim was that it was in the form of unauthorized inspections that "have historically produced little to do with disarmament, and given the misuse of sensitive information gathered by UNSCOM from such sites in the past, they would be viewed with mistrust not only by Iraq, but also by many members of the Security Council" In 1988 his complaint was that the US was dragging its heels on the inspections issue and helping (not necessarily intentionally) Iraq, whereas in 2000 his complaint was that the US was abusing the inspections for alternative purposes.
  2. On the matter of Iraqi capabilities, Ritter's turn-about is truly interesting. Compare the above quotations to:

It allowed UNSCOM to ascertain, with a high level of confidence, that Iraq was not rebuilding its prohibited weapons programs and that it lacked the means to do so without an infusion of advanced technology and a significant investment of time and money.

The two positions simply don't coalesce. He went from arguing that Iraq could re-initiate its illegal weapons programs in a matter of months, to maintaining that by the time the inspections stopped UNSCOM was highly confident that Iraq couldn't re-initiate its weapons program without significant outside assistance. At minimum he is guilty spinning the facts in two totally opposite directions at different times.

Sources:

Scott Ritter's resignation letter sent UNSCOM in 1998.

Transcript of an interview Ritter did on the The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer in 1998.

The Case for Iraq's Qualitative Disarmament the definitive report documenting Ritter's current position, published in 2000.

---
Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera


[ Parent ]
This would make a great article on its own (nt) (4.00 / 1) (#136)
by ethereal on Tue Sep 10, 2002 at 01:31:56 PM EST

The whole "en tea" thing is pretty stupid, don't you think?

--

Stand up for your right to not believe: Americans United for Separation of Church and State
[ Parent ]

Agreed, and you've less room for the title [n/t] (4.00 / 1) (#140)
by cr8dle2grave on Tue Sep 10, 2002 at 01:49:46 PM EST


---
Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera


[ Parent ]
Home-made nukes (4.50 / 2) (#54)
by Cloaked User on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 06:22:57 PM EST

The real thing, I suspect, is very hard to get right - after all, you don't want a crash to set them off, or for them to be easily used against you if they fall into the wrong hands. You also want them to be nice and stable and low activity in storage, yet a good high yield when used in anger.

That said, yes, anyone with a basic knowledge of (nuclear) physics, given the right equipment, could easily build a nasty, dirty, low-yield, unsafe, unstable but effective nuke. The hard part is getting your hands on enough fissile material.
--
"What the fuck do you mean 'Are you inspired to come to work'? Of course I'm not 'inspired'. It's a job for God's sake! The money's enough and the work's not so crap that I leave."
[ Parent ]

Cable News (4.50 / 2) (#75)
by DarkZero on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 10:15:49 PM EST

It hasn't all been propaganda in the media, though. Scott Ritter finally got on CBC radio and got represented fairly, unlike on CNN where he's presented as kind of a nut and they don't mention he's an ex-Marine Corps colonel and a registered Republican.

It's a sad state of affairs when the only representation of the main voice of opposition to the war with Iraq that I've seen that wasn't watered down to two out-of-context statements or an onscreen quote filled with brackets and ellipses was on The Daily Show on Comedy Central. They had Scott Ritter on, they let him explain his past profession and get very technical in his reasoning for why Iraq can be handled without military action, and they asked him much harder questions than anyone else on cable news has.

I can't believe we have to go to Comedy fucking Central for unbiased, intelligent news now.

[ Parent ]

The Daily Show (4.00 / 1) (#129)
by Eccles on Tue Sep 10, 2002 at 11:38:18 AM EST

Do they reshow shows? I'd like to see that. Even a transcript would be good.

[ Parent ]
Re: The Daily Show (4.00 / 1) (#163)
by DarkZero on Tue Sep 10, 2002 at 08:33:08 PM EST

They reshow their shows occasionally, but unfortunately there's no transcript on the site and the reruns are usually randomly played.

[ Parent ]
Plutonium (5.00 / 1) (#98)
by zordon on Tue Sep 10, 2002 at 05:06:08 AM EST

I agree with you that the CNN headline is pretty stupid. Making a nuclear bomb is pretty simple. The hard part is aquiring the radioactive materials and creating a suitable trigger mechanism. Hell, some teenager in Michigan basically created a nuclear reactor in his back yard as part of his eagle scout project. read about it here [http://www.dangerouslaboratories.org/radscout.html].
zordon
[ Parent ]
an important consideration: (4.25 / 4) (#49)
by logiterr on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 05:13:21 PM EST

is to remember that news agencies like CNN provide news to a perceived audience. not an actual audience. if there was an actual audience it would be hard to provide specific programming to fit individual tastes. CNN to me is like the McDonalds of news agencies. its food/news. but its got that weird taste some people love, but gets old if you eat too much in too short a period.

it is then a good thing to identify the target audience of a news agency then compare this audience with yourself. if you identify with this group then probably the news will be relevant to you. if you do not identify then you might only find the news as a passing interest.

a good way to get good at this is identifign the audience of a TV commercial. for example find the commericials that are geared for women and those for men. those for family and those for kids. look at those that arent targetted at you and ask yourself what is interesting about those commercials. the techniques used in commercials are a sure way to learn about how to make something that isnt apparently interesting interesting. and in the world of news this can lead to stories seeming to be taken out of proper context.

dionisio snookems ? (en sea) (1.11 / 9) (#56)
by bjlhct on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 07:13:04 PM EST


* Beware, gentle knight - the greatest monster of them all is reason. -Cervantes
Part of Presidential power is media frenzy (3.25 / 4) (#61)
by kholmes on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 08:02:12 PM EST

In other words, the president can focus the attention of the nation on pretty much anything he chooses. Not only that, but when The President says he wants to go to the war, it causes everyone else to either agree or say "why not?" And since Hussiene is someone people in the US know and generally don't like and Bush has pretty high approval ratings, "why not?" is an incredibly hard question to answer. This is because the proper question is "why?"

Part of the presidents power is explicit Appeal to Authority. In this case, the president is the authority. Thats what makes it easier for the press to support the president. Because then it doesn't have to answer "why not?"

If you treat people as most people treat things and treat things as most people treat people, you might be a Randian.

That's easy (4.00 / 3) (#64)
by andrewm on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 08:30:33 PM EST

Q: "Why go to war with Iraq?"

A: Because Saddam is an evil doer thwarting American oil interests.

The only valid answer to "why not?" is "because I want to thwart American oil interests, too."

The world is full of less than pleasant governments that are quite happy to torture small puppies and blow up tall buildings because the residents don't face the right direction when they pray.

Sometimes the US government deals with these governments, gives them money and military aid, and never seems to acknowledge those pesky little details, such as the government being a military dictatorship with a history of torture, murder, and a large stockpile of weapons of mass destruction. Other times, the US government sends in the army to nobly liberate the oppressed civilians and defend freedom for the world.

There has to be some way for the US to decide when to intervene, and when to let other countries deal with the own internal issues.

Are there seriously any people who still don't know how that decision gets made?

(Yes, I'm well aware that this is nationalistic anti american hatespeak and that I'm obviously Osama's right hand man because I dared to criticise the Holy American EmpireGovernment - after all the elected US government would never do anything like that, so I clearly can't be allowed to do it either. If you want to point this out, could you offer an alternative explanation for how the US government decides which evil doers to attack, and which evil does to do business with. If that's too hard, perhaps a US citizen (one eligable to vote for the government, preferably) could explain why torture and mass murder aren't enough to qualify one as an evil-doer.)

[ Parent ]

Please (4.60 / 5) (#74)
by kholmes on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 10:04:01 PM EST

First, cut out the sympathy. Damn, most people here aren't all that fond of the US government here.

I'm an american, not that anyone should give a shit. But truth is, most people here are as puzzled about our government as you are. For the most part, Americans don't trust their government. Problem is, on election day, we don't know who to trust. One government doesn't seem all that different from another. So we don't vote because it doesn't really matter.

For Americans, democracy isn't a form of government, its entertainment. Since we are pretty sure we are going to be screwed over no matter who gets in, we watch the elections (24-hour coverage on network television!) as we would a spectator sport. We tune into the debates to see what stupid thing Bush can say next or how much Gore is going to snicker when he is off camera. We take sides, maybe some of us bet money, we hope our side wins.

On election day we watch the states light up "democrat" or "republican"--to see who is winning. We see the latest polls. We watch the campaigns. We hear the speeches.

Some of us eat popcorn.

But as soon as we learn we have won, we know we lost. If we loose, we still loose. You see, us Americans don't trust anyone. We can barely stand our neighbors. And we have a difficult enough time resolving politics in the workplace. The best we want to say to the talking heads on television is to frankly shut up. If you are American, you probably already know this. If you are from somewhere else, expect other stupid things from us in the future.

Now don't get me wrong. I'm American and I love my country. We have a lot of things going for us, but our political attitude isn't one of them. We have low unemployment. We have a strong military. The poor get fed. We still have lots of rural areas and parks. We have fresh water and good health care. We have universal eduction for 13 years and a 24 hour weather channel.

But we aren't fond of our government.

DISCLAIMER: This is my experience with talking to people I know in poor to middle class living in suburbs or rural areas of the united states. Other people's mileage may differ. I don't mean to speak for all Americans but I realized it wasn't right to speak badly about Americans without including myself in that group. It also wasn't right to consider myself an exception. I suppose I am as American as anyone else here, for better or for worse.

If you treat people as most people treat things and treat things as most people treat people, you might be a Randian.
[ Parent ]

I don't believe it (5.00 / 3) (#90)
by Josh A on Tue Sep 10, 2002 at 02:29:36 AM EST

For the most part, Americans don't trust their government.

Yet we keep voting in Democrats and Republicans like a battered spouse that can't stop apologizing for making our lover beat us.

The best we want to say to the talking heads on television is to frankly shut up.

Yet we keep on watching (and calling and emailing) and so they keep on talking.

Turn OFF the television.

---
Thank God for Canada, if only because they annoy the Republicans so much. – Blarney


[ Parent ]
Ratings (4.00 / 1) (#154)
by icastel on Tue Sep 10, 2002 at 05:25:44 PM EST

... and Bush has pretty high approval ratings

What's pretty high? Just last week, his ratings, War On Terrorism at its peak and all, were below the lowest Clinton ever had during the BJ scandal.




-- I like my land flat --
[ Parent ]
That's because most Americans... (none / 0) (#219)
by haflinger on Mon Nov 04, 2002 at 11:48:20 AM EST

... either secretly wished they could blow Clinton or that they could acquire his sex life. :)

Okay, I exaggerate. But didn't his approval ratings actually go up during some parts of the scandal?

Did people from the future send George Carlin back in time to save rusty and K5? - leviramsey
[ Parent ]

Easier to support the president? (none / 0) (#218)
by haflinger on Mon Nov 04, 2002 at 11:46:24 AM EST

Huh. I guess that explains Limbaugh in the '90s.

Did people from the future send George Carlin back in time to save rusty and K5? - leviramsey
[ Parent ]
Factoid (4.00 / 6) (#63)
by behindthecurtain on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 08:28:17 PM EST

An interesting little factoid: Out of all the countries without nuclear weapons, Japan would be the country capable of developing them (independently) the quickiest should the need arise. The estimate was that Japan can make modern nuclear weapons within 2 years if it chose to throw some money and ressources that way.

As China grows ever more powerful and the balance of power shifts in the region, I wonder if Japan will drop the constitutional clause that prevents it from participating in any offensive war. I think it would be in its best interest to do so. (And yes, I do realize that Japan does already have a large non-military military, security forces, coast guards, etc.)

I thought... (4.00 / 3) (#67)
by awgsilyari on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 09:14:14 PM EST

I thought the no-offensive-military rule was part of a treaty they signed during post-war reconstruction, not a domestic law.

As such, can Japan really just "drop it?"

--------
Please direct SPAM to john@neuralnw.com
[ Parent ]

Treaty (3.33 / 3) (#70)
by marx on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 09:34:33 PM EST

You mean like the ABM treaty the US signed?

Join me in the War on Torture: help eradicate torture from the world by holding torturers accountable.
[ Parent ]

Treaty backout. (4.00 / 1) (#200)
by Sanction on Thu Sep 12, 2002 at 06:58:32 PM EST

Which treaty, the one that said that either party could back out with x (don't recall how many) days notice?

Back to your cave troll.

Wow, This is the most amazing loaf of bread I've ever owned!
[ Parent ]

So what? (1.00 / 1) (#202)
by marx on Thu Sep 12, 2002 at 07:49:41 PM EST

The US still backed out, even if they did it legally. Japan can also back out of their obligation legally.

That doesn't mean they should though.

Join me in the War on Torture: help eradicate torture from the world by holding torturers accountable.
[ Parent ]

No, they can't. (none / 0) (#217)
by haflinger on Mon Nov 04, 2002 at 11:45:16 AM EST

There's a "forever" clause in the treaty.

Did people from the future send George Carlin back in time to save rusty and K5? - leviramsey
[ Parent ]
Constitution (4.60 / 5) (#73)
by DarkZero on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 10:03:57 PM EST

Actually, the law/rule is an amendment to their constitution, and therefore is as inviolable by the government as any amendment in the US Constitution. However, Prime Minister Koizumi has recently taken quite an interest in joining the United States in all of its endeavors, so the possibility of Japan taking an offensive stance in the future is very possible.

The possibility of Japan developing nuclear weapons is laughable, though. Even the most casual look at their culture immediately displays a huge and so far permanent scar on their culture from the United States's use of atomic bombs on their country in World War Two. If the Japanese government ever tried to develop nuclear weapons, they would have riots in the streets and possibly even a revolution to deal with first.

[ Parent ]

Factoid (4.50 / 4) (#78)
by Dan Gunn on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 11:17:20 PM EST

Japan would take two years to make an arsenal of nuclear weapons. Some officials within their government have stated Japan could produce a weapon in under 200 days.

[ Parent ]
Canada? (4.00 / 2) (#89)
by bobzibub on Tue Sep 10, 2002 at 01:53:18 AM EST

I'm sure Canada could build them pretty quick.  We've got reactors, uranium, a long history with nuclear power, the technical expertise...  Not the will or the need, thank God.  

I doubt Japan will drop the Constitutional clauses.  It would be provocative and the US will fight for Taiwan to contain China.  Japan is probably well within range of many Chinese missles, and they have a relatively small (geographically) and urban society.  They wouldn't fair well (if anyone does), and many remember the last time...

Mao did say a few things about nuclear war though, so China may have different opinions.

Cheers,
-b


[ Parent ]

Taiwan (4.00 / 1) (#100)
by behindthecurtain on Tue Sep 10, 2002 at 06:37:30 AM EST

In 50 years when the Chinese forces are a formidable enemy indeed, will the US go to war over Taiwan? I'm leaning towards 'no'. Why should the Americans care about Taiwan? Is it worth 100,000 American lives? Is it worth the risk of a nuclear confrontation?

I think it's really only a matter of time before Taiwan rejoins the mainland. It can't keep up with the Chinese on the military/economic fronts forever. And as stated, I don't think the US is willing to risk it all for them. Taiwan will probably become a 'one country, two systems' type of place like Hong Kong.

Of course, these assumptions assume that the Chinese leadership will not get overthrown by massive social unrest. I think they'll do just fine, though.

[ Parent ]

Some reasonableness left in mankind... (4.00 / 1) (#171)
by sphealey on Tue Sep 10, 2002 at 10:49:25 PM EST

An interesting little factoid: Out of all the countries without nuclear weapons, Japan would be the country capable of developing them (independently) the quickiest should the need arise. The estimate was that Japan can make modern nuclear weapons within 2 years if it chose to throw some money and ressources that way.
There are a dozen countries that could build nuclear weapons rapidly if they so chose: Canada, Japan, Sweden, Finland, Germany and Brazil come to mind immediately; others might take a bit of thought.

That they have not done so speaks to there being at least a little humanity left in the world. I understand that Brazil terminated and destroyed its nuclear weapons program at the request of its generals, who did not want to be in possession of such weapons should there be a conflict with one of their neighbors. Would such thinking would spread a little.

sPh

[ Parent ]

Ahem, poll? (2.66 / 6) (#66)
by PhyreFox on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 08:58:39 PM EST

"Other" should've been an option. I would've picked Fox News in a heartbeat but "other" would've done just fine.

Fox News? (3.00 / 1) (#82)
by gbd on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 11:39:01 PM EST

Er, Fox News is much further to the right than CNN is.

The story that the author linked to does display a fair amount of right-wing bias and government shillery, but it's a bit disingenuous to suggest that Fox News (of all places) would be any better.

--
Gunter glieben glauchen globen.
[ Parent ]

media's interests (4.00 / 3) (#68)
by shellac on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 09:22:59 PM EST

These sorts of headlines probably sell a lot more papers and bring a lot more viewers than "Saddam is some time away from nukes." The other, more disturbing possibility is that media companies stand a lot to gain by the US having a war in Iraq. These wars are great for ratings. It will be interesting to see how CNN's stock price does if there is an actual war.

I am willing to believe it is the former and not the latter. After all, there is something called journalistic ethics that news companies are supposed to follow. I guess all we can do is use a lot of different sources, domestic and foreign, and to always read between the lines. This is a lot easier with the internet, but it is a lot of extra research work for the average person.

Thanks for a really great post.

Wrong stock symbol (4.00 / 1) (#192)
by spectroman98 on Wed Sep 11, 2002 at 06:02:48 PM EST

CNN is part of AOL TimeWarner. You want this AOL instead.

[ Parent ]
To spot editorial bias ... (4.00 / 1) (#196)
by thebrix on Thu Sep 12, 2002 at 04:51:21 AM EST

subscribe to the AvantGo version of the site. With photographs, graphics and typographical tricks stripped out, articles put in linear sequence, and your being forced to read text from top to bottom, all sorts of things pop out that are disguised by a complex layout :)

The Guardian is far from unbiased; a friend once put it very nicely when he commented that the Guardian was a hundred times more dangerous than the Daily Mail because the Guardian's biases were relatively subtle.

[ Parent ]

Iraq broke the ceasefire. (3.75 / 12) (#76)
by MightyTribble on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 10:30:43 PM EST

The IISS report reveals nothing new, and there's nothing in there that's obviously wrong or misleading. It's a very solid report based on the publicly available information. Certain elements of the media see this as an attempt by the US and British governments to establish a casus belli.

But that's not the point. The point is, Iraq should be attacked for breaking the terms of the 1991 ceasefire. They've been in violation of the terms since around 1994, and *blatantly* in violation since 1998. Casus belli already exists.

Here's how ceasefires work : Two sides, currently engaged in active hostilities, agree to stop shooting each other for as long as certain conditions hold. The US, as the dominant power, dictated terms to the Iraqis. The Iraqis broke those terms. That means the US is well within their rights to start firing again, and *keep* firing, until a ceasefire is no longer applicable to the situation.

Everything else is just a PR battle to convince the public that the Hussein regime needs replacing. The US already has a legal justification and mandate, under the 1991 ceasefire, to attack Iraq. The UN may not like it, but they did sign off on the ceasefire. Doesn't mean they have to be involved in the next shooting match, but (and here's the kicker) they've already agreed to it. They did so in 1991.

Essentially, from a military and legal perspective, the Gulf War isn't over yet. We've just had a very long ceasefire, which Iraq has consistently flaunted for the last four years. The last US Administration tried to resolve matters through diplomacy. This Administration believes that diplomacy alone will not solve the problem.

While one may debate whether or not Iraq is in violation of the ceasefire, one cannot debate whether or not, in the case of such violation, the US has the necessary legal rights (such as they exist in the international community) to start shooting again.


Nice.. (2.33 / 3) (#80)
by Arkayne on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 11:33:35 PM EST

Very nicely said. If only the anchors on CNN had the balls to state such things.

[ Parent ]
Well (3.00 / 2) (#87)
by ebatsky on Tue Sep 10, 2002 at 01:16:19 AM EST

Maybe if U.S. sent real weapon inspectors to Iraq instead of spies it would have a valid reason to attack.

[ Parent ]
Two points (4.00 / 3) (#117)
by MightyTribble on Tue Sep 10, 2002 at 09:49:10 AM EST

None of the weapons inspectors are spies.

No, really. Think about it. A 'spy' is the nasty name for a *covert* intelligence agent, acting in an unofficial capacity.

If you're gathering intelligence using legal methods, with official permission to be there, you're not a spy by definition, no matter who pays your paycheck.

Guess what? The weapons inspectors are legal, with authority derived from the UN Security Council. Their mandate was to find Iraqi WMD and document them. Where are you going to find people with the skillset to do that? Harvard Business School? Wal-Mart? Or maybe, just maybe, places like the DIA, CIA and the military.

To claim they shouldn't be allowed in because they're 'spies' is falling for Iraqi propaganda and use of a loaded term. Who else *could* you send, if you want the job done right?! Only members of the military or intelligence agencies have the skills to do the job properly. But they're not spies, because they're legally present with a UN mandate.

Also, bear in mind that Iraq has, from day one of the weapons inspections, gone to great lengths to *hide* their stuff from the UN. Read any of the Weapons Inspectors reports, and you'll see references to Iraqi obfuscation attempts. They weren't co-operating from the beginning, and the Inspectors had to use every trick at their disposal to uncover these hidden weapons caches. And they weren't 100% effective - we know there's WMD caches the inspectors did not find.

[ Parent ]

Spies (3.33 / 3) (#131)
by marx on Tue Sep 10, 2002 at 12:20:14 PM EST

No, really. Think about it. A 'spy' is the nasty name for a *covert* intelligence agent, acting in an unofficial capacity.

If you're gathering intelligence using legal methods, with official permission to be there, you're not a spy by definition, no matter who pays your paycheck.

The inspectors gathered information on Iraq's conventional military, which they did not have permission to do. They were thus performing unofficial, illegal activities, and were thus spies.

Join me in the War on Torture: help eradicate torture from the world by holding torturers accountable.
[ Parent ]

I would think... (4.00 / 1) (#137)
by Kaki Nix Sain on Tue Sep 10, 2002 at 01:39:15 PM EST

... that in order to properly determine the number of nonconventional military programs that are going, some of the requisite information is "how many military programs total" and "how many conventional military programs". It isn't the only way that I would have tried, but I know that, had I been given the difficult job in question, that would have been one of the methods I looked into.

Do you know if the terms expressly forbade any gathering of information about conventional military programs or if they just didn't mention it? Both of which could be read off as "they did not have permission to do", but only one of them is wrong. The other just leaves the question open. As I have said, finding out some information about the conventional forces falls reasonably within the mandate of gathering all possible information about the conventional forces.

If someone, S, deliberately hides information X from you, you have the right to know X, and you can get X by subtracting Y from Z, then S bears a good bit of the blame for you looking for Y and Z.



[ Parent ]

correction... (none / 0) (#139)
by Kaki Nix Sain on Tue Sep 10, 2002 at 01:41:27 PM EST

... that one sentence should have been, " As I have said, finding out some information about the conventional forces falls reasonably within the mandate of gathering all possible information about the nonconventional forces."



[ Parent ]

Nope. Let's try this again. (3.00 / 1) (#147)
by MightyTribble on Tue Sep 10, 2002 at 04:40:16 PM EST

The inspectors gathered information on Iraq's conventional military, which they did not have permission to do. They were thus performing unofficial, illegal activities, and were thus spies.

Did they use illegal methods to gather this information? Did they break into offices in the dead of night, and photograph documents? Did they sneak into the country over the border, or travel on fake documents? Were they in the country without the permission or knowledge of the hosts? No? Then they're NOT SPIES. Stop falling for Iraqi propaganda.

Soviet Military Attaches in the West were regularly KGB Agents. They gathered intelligence from their host countries. But they were not spies because they had 'legal cover'.

KGB agents who entered the West on false documents (say, as businessmen, under false names) and then engage in illegal activities to gather intelligence, are spies. See the difference? Because in the intelligence community, there *is* a difference between a 'spy' and an 'intelligence agent'. The Weapons Inspectors were 'intelligence agents', and everyone involved, including the Iraqis, knew this. The Iraqis tried to use PR and politics to impede their work by mis-labeling them as 'spies', as part of their wider efforts to conceal their WMD programs and interfere with the mandated UN work.

To say that the US was acting in bad faith because some of the Weapons Inspectors were CIA is being hopelessly naive. Who *else* would you send on such a mission? A former Finnish Prime Minister? A clergyman? A Swiss banker? Get real. Everyone knew, and expected, the Weapons Inspectors to include intelligence agents.

[ Parent ]

Spying (4.00 / 1) (#159)
by marx on Tue Sep 10, 2002 at 07:02:32 PM EST

Did they use illegal methods to gather this information? Did they break into offices in the dead of night, and photograph documents?
Yes, essentially. This is what FAIR (here and here) has to say:
As for Iraq accusing weapons inspectors of being spies, Diamond might have mentioned that this accusation has proven to be correct. The Washington Post reported in 1999 (1/8/99) that "United Nations arms inspectors helped collect eavesdropping intelligence used in American efforts to undermine the Iraqi regime."

---

While noting "Saddam Hussein's numerous complaints that U.N. inspection teams included American spies were apparently not imaginary," the newspaper mentioned that the espionage operatives "planted eavesdropping devices in hopes of monitoring forces that guarded Mr. Hussein as well as searching for hidden arms stockpiles."

There is no conceivable way you can claim that eavesdropping on Saddam Hussein's bodyguards is anything other than spying. It is not in any way connected to the weapons inspections.

Your distinction between intelligence agent and spy is not very clear. Seemingly according to your definition, a Soviet military attache who assassinates the US president would not be a spy, because he had "legal cover". So it's a useless definition.

These people were performing hostile actions toward Iraq (likely planning assassination and gathering targeting information for air strikes), while claiming to be neutral UN weapons inspectors. This qualifies as being a spy.

Join me in the War on Torture: help eradicate torture from the world by holding torturers accountable.
[ Parent ]

Definition of spies. (3.00 / 1) (#199)
by Sanction on Thu Sep 12, 2002 at 06:50:54 PM EST

The distinction is important.  Your silly assinitaion of the president example has no relevance at all to the argument.  An intelligence agent like an attache is here legally, is known about, and does not usually engage in illegal activities.  They are very careful to watch everything, and will certainly pay attention to conversations between American officials within earshot.  They may even act as a courier for illegally gathered information.  The point is, though, that they simply report on everything they can see or hear in the normal and legal persuit of their duties.

Eavesdropping on Saddam or his bodyguards would be connected to the inspections.  Iraq was doing its best to hide any WMD's from the inspectors, and his conversations and those of his close advisors would be likely to give away some of his plans to do so.

Wow, This is the most amazing loaf of bread I've ever owned!
[ Parent ]

The KGB. (none / 0) (#215)
by haflinger on Mon Nov 04, 2002 at 11:41:35 AM EST

Yes, those "diplomats" and so on who worked for the KGB were spies. They were committing espionage, which is a felony offense in most countries. In many, it's punishable by death. Read The Mitrokhin Archive.

Did people from the future send George Carlin back in time to save rusty and K5? - leviramsey
[ Parent ]
Counting Tanks (4.00 / 1) (#148)
by MightyTribble on Tue Sep 10, 2002 at 04:51:30 PM EST

Another thing:

The inspectors gathered information on Iraq's conventional military, which they did not have permission to do. They were thus performing unofficial, illegal activities, and were thus spies.

The UN mandate was to locate and oversee the destruction of all Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. Let me give you an example of how this worked.

You go to an Iraqi army base suspected of having a store of chemical weapons. Does that make you a spy?

You see they have some T-55 tanks there. Does that make you a spy?

You ask to examine the ammo bins of the T-55s to see if they have any chemical shells in there. Does that make you a spy?

You count the number of T-55 tanks there. Does that make you a spy?

You enter each T-55, and examine all the shells in the ammo-bin, looking for chemical munitions. Does that make you a spy?

At the end of the day, you know that there were 23 T-55 tanks at that army base, and two of them had mustard gas shells in their ammo bins. Does that make you a spy?

You see how, in order to fulfill the UN mandate the weapons inspectors had to examine conventional weapons? It is physically impossible to search for WMD without examining conventional weapons, and everyone in the field knows that. The Iraqis made a stink about it in the hopes that enough clueless civvies would kick up a stink back home to impede this search effort. Remember, the Iraqis, from day one of the inspections, were doing everything they could to thwart the inspectors. Crying 'spy! spy!' was one of their tactics. But it doesn't make it true.

[ Parent ]

Assassination was not part of the UN mandate (4.00 / 1) (#160)
by marx on Tue Sep 10, 2002 at 07:11:39 PM EST

You see how, in order to fulfill the UN mandate the weapons inspectors had to examine conventional weapons?
No one has a problem with that. What we have a problem with is when they gather intelligence which has nothing to do with their mission.

See my post above. Eavesdropping on Saddam Hussein's bodyguard clearly has nothing to do with their mission.

No reasonable person would let in "inspectors" into their house or country who have shown that they are planning to assassinate him, or gathering targeting information like stock piles, radars etc.

Given that Cheney has said that the inspections don't matter, I think it's quite obvious that the inspections were never an end in themselves, they were a means for the US and the UK to topple Saddam.

Join me in the War on Torture: help eradicate torture from the world by holding torturers accountable.
[ Parent ]

Doesn't it? (4.00 / 1) (#167)
by MightyTribble on Tue Sep 10, 2002 at 10:11:23 PM EST

What if the bodyguard used to guard a WMD site, and knew of a secret cache of VX? Then is it OK?

You have to bear in mind that the Iraqis went to truly extra-ordinary lengths to hide their chemical stockpiles, and to interfere with the UN mission. A very extensive game of cat-and-mouse unfolded in Iraq from 1994 - 1998. Just read some of the UNSCOM reports.

To say the Americans didn't play fair is losing sight of the big picture, so I'll spell it out to you: Saddam had (still has) *hundreds of tonnes* of chemical and biological weapons - Sarin, Mustard Gas, VX and Anthrax, which he has done his damndest to keep. Saddam has also demonstrated a will to use these weapons, and has killed thousands of people with them.

Do you really believe that he should keep these weapons, just because there were CIA folks in UNSCOM?

[ Parent ]

Principles (4.00 / 1) (#172)
by marx on Tue Sep 10, 2002 at 10:52:52 PM EST

You and the US don't seem to have any principles. You paint a risk scenario, and then everything is allowed to prevent the scenario from becoming reality.

Why are police not allowed to torture suspects? Why are trials necessary?

You are saying that any method whatsoever is allowed to prevent Saddam Hussein from potentially using his weapons. This is simply not a reasonable position to take.

How about this:

The US has *thousands* of nuclear warheads. The US has also demonstrated a will to use these weapons, and has killed hundreds of thousands with them.

Do you really think the US should keep these weapons?

Would it not be prudent to launch a campaign to destroy these weapons, preferably by force, involving thousands of civilian casualties?

Join me in the War on Torture: help eradicate torture from the world by holding torturers accountable.
[ Parent ]

Au Contraire, my marxist friend (4.00 / 1) (#173)
by MightyTribble on Tue Sep 10, 2002 at 11:30:02 PM EST

You appear confused on several issues of statecraft.

First, in some countries, police *are* allowed to torture suspects.

One of those countries is Iraq.

Second, some countries use WMD against their own populations, to suppress civilian dissent.

One of those countries is Iraq.

The US has thousands of nuclear warheads. They've used precisely *two* in anger, during a legitimate, total war. And they've never used them again.

Given a choice between the US having nukes or Iraq, I'd go with the US any day of the week. Ideally no-one would have nukes, but alas they're a fact of life and simple physics, and we cannot roll back time and unlearn this stuff, no matter how hard we try.

The US has made numerous foreign policy mistakes. They have also passed laws or taken actions that I strongly disagree with. However, that I disagree with the US Government on certain issues does not prevent me from agreeing with them on others. And, more to the point, my disagreeing with them on certain issues will not result in my being tortured by electricity and rubber hoses, then dragged behind the sheds and shot. Unlike what would happen to me in Iraq.

You may not like America. But that shouldn't stop you from supporting them when they do something right. The regime of Hussein *is* bad, morally wrong and deserving of overthrow. I dare you to defend the Iraqi regime as something that deserves to survive and prosper. If the US is willing to finish the job this time, then I applaud them.

I do not see my support as a lack of principle - just a different set of principles from yours. It's called realpolitik, and, unfortunately for you, it's how the world works.


[ Parent ]

Principles again (4.00 / 1) (#174)
by marx on Tue Sep 10, 2002 at 11:43:13 PM EST

Dear Tribblist friend,

I dare you to defend the Iraqi regime as something that deserves to survive and prosper.
One of the most fundamental principles of international relations and law is "sovereignty". It doesn't matter what I think or don't think about a country, every country has a right to govern itself.

You can start fiddling with these principles which the UN, and the entire modern world, have been founded on, but then you don't have a right to whine when things go wrong.

For example, you can claim that Iraq is not a democracy, and thus we have a right to install one there. I can claim however, that the US is not a democracy, and that I have a right to install one there. I am thus allowed to overthrow the US government by force. Collateral damage would be unfortunate, but necessary I'm afraid.

Join me in the War on Torture: help eradicate torture from the world by holding torturers accountable.
[ Parent ]

Close, but no cigar. (4.00 / 1) (#175)
by MightyTribble on Wed Sep 11, 2002 at 12:11:57 AM EST

You're right to point out the notion of sovereignty. I'll return the favor. Allow me to explain that sovereignty alone is not an acceptable reason for non-intervention.

Say if I ruled a country, and decided that, as the democratically elected ruler of said country, I should kill all the mentally retarded people, everyone of Romany descent, people who voted against me in the elections, and those damn pesky Jews, no other nation should interfere because of my sovereign status? Bear in mind this is exactly what Nazi Germany did.

If I had the chutzpah to do something like that, do you *really* think the threat of sanctions would stop me? Bearing in mind that all oil sanctions did to the Japanese was cause them to bomb Pearl Harbor.

Every sovereign state exists *purely* at the whim of every other sovereign state. If you believe otherwise I suggest you go and read some more history. The UN is a recent invention (after the League of Nations failed, remember) to try to bring some order to the anarchy. It doesn't always work, and only has such power that the member states allow it.

The entire modern world was founded on blood. A great deal of that blood was shed because the actions of some sovereign states were found to be against the interests or beliefs of other sovereign states. So don't give me any of that "I can do whatever I like within my borders, and you have no right to stop me". I have as much right to stop you as is granted me by the size of my military, and my willingness to use it. Again with the realpolitik, I'm afaid.

There is no 'universal right to self-determination'. The rights you hold are what you can carve for yourself, and what your neighbours allow you to have. The current Iraqi regime is founded in blood, and has sufficiently angered a power strong enough to do something about it. Good luck to the US, I say. I don't even care if they don't install a democracy there - a regime friendly to the US, whatever the composition, will do fine.

As for the US not being a Democracy - sure, whatever. It's not the best one out there, but they do a pretty good job, all things considered (although the last Presidential election was a fiasco, it hasn't fundamentally altered the election system in any negative way).  You're certainly welcome to try an armed overthrow against them, but I for one, and I suspect millions others, will stand against you. On principle, if nothing else.

Finally, remember that Saddam *has* pledged to destroy the American infidel, just like you. If that's not a challenge to get bitch-slapped, I don't know what is.


[ Parent ]

Reason for attack (4.00 / 1) (#178)
by marx on Wed Sep 11, 2002 at 01:46:09 AM EST

Say if I ruled a country, and decided that, as the democratically elected ruler of said country, I should kill all the mentally retarded people, everyone of Romany descent, people who voted against me in the elections, and those damn pesky Jews, no other nation should interfere because of my sovereign status? Bear in mind this is exactly what Nazi Germany did.
Ultimately, I'm a pragmatist too, and I see what you're getting at. Are you telling me here though, that the reason the US wants to topple Saddam is because he is threatening and killing the Kurds in Iraq? You have a great sense of humor.

The US probably knew exactly what Saddam would use the chemical and biological weapons for, when they supplied him with them. Regardless, they have tolerated, or even supported, far worse persecutions than this.

The US is an interventionist true, but never for humanitarian reasons, only to further its own interests. Remember this: the US declared war on Japan because of Pearl Harbor before it went to war with Germany because of the Jews.

Join me in the War on Torture: help eradicate torture from the world by holding torturers accountable.
[ Parent ]

Indeed. (4.00 / 1) (#182)
by MightyTribble on Wed Sep 11, 2002 at 09:51:33 AM EST

Ultimately, I'm a pragmatist too, and I see what you're getting at. Are you telling me here though, that the reason the US wants to topple Saddam is because he is threatening and killing the Kurds in Iraq? You have a great sense of humor.

Not quite. I'm saying that you can't use sovereignty as an excuse to avoid intervention.

The US wants to topple Saddam because they've finally had enough of him. Saddam's breaking of the ceasefire gives them a legitimate casus belli, and 9/11 gives them a favorable political climate in the US, which makes things easier. It's a fortuitous convergence of circumstance and political will, nothing more. I'm pretty sure the US government doesn't care about the Kurds at all - but if they can use the excuse of helping the Kurds to justify intervention in Iraq, then more power to them. Unlikely, though, as it'll make Turkey unhappy... and Turkey will be key for any action against Saddam. Again with the realpolitik, I'm afraid.

The US probably knew exactly what Saddam would use the chemical and biological weapons for, when they supplied him with them. Regardless, they have tolerated, or even supported, far worse persecutions than this.

It wasn't the US government that supplied Iraq with the gas. Anyone with a chemistry degree and a decent lab can make the stuff. VX and Sarin, for example, are organo-phosphates. Insecticides. They're *really easy* to make, if you know how. Anthrax occurs naturally. Mustard gas is nothing more than Chlorine. Iraq brought off-the-shelf chemical lab components from US (and other Western) companies. That's not the same as the US government handing over a few thousand flasks of VX.

Also, the fact that the US has tolerated far worse transgressions than this does not mean that they are obliged to overlook every transgression. They get to pick and choose which ones are worth fighting over. The argument of "You can't do X because you previously ignored Y" holds no water at all in international relations. Probably not logical, maybe not fair, but that's the way things are.

The US is an interventionist true, but never for humanitarian reasons, only to further its own interests.

Well, duh. All states are selfish. Every. Single. One. It's one of the things that makes a state. Your *primary* goal is self-preservation, and most states are willing to do anything, up to and including war, to ensure their survival. Sometimes self-interest combines with humanitarianism (re: Somalia). Most democracies, for example, do humanitarian missions in the hopes of a second term. But not every intervention needs a humanitarian justification.

Remember this: the US declared war on Japan because of Pearl Harbor before it went to war with Germany because of the Jews.

Indeed it did. Perhaps you'll also recall that Roosevelt was doing everything he could to facilitate a war with Germany prior to Dec 7th, 1941? Heck, we had US warships attacking U-boats off the Atlantic coast, but Hitler didn't bite. Unfortunately, those pesky voters didn't want to save those German jews, so he couldn't act. Damn voters and their selfish isolationism, eh? Funny behaviour for a state you claim isn't a democracy.



[ Parent ]

Realpolitik is the 19th century. :) (none / 0) (#214)
by haflinger on Mon Nov 04, 2002 at 11:39:48 AM EST

This is the 21st century. Realpolitik went out a long, long time ago; sometime during the American Century, probably. (The U.S. has never practiced it. Always government by principles.)

Did people from the future send George Carlin back in time to save rusty and K5? - leviramsey
[ Parent ]
I doesn't matter if they were (3.00 / 1) (#176)
by RyoCokey on Wed Sep 11, 2002 at 01:10:13 AM EST

Under terms of the ceasefire, they had to admit and not obstruct the inspectors, whether they were spies or not. They could protest with the UN coalition and request the offending inspectors be removed, but in the end, they were in no position to dictate terms. They could either accept the inspectors or resume war. They chose the latter.



"...the average American finds it hard to accept all the hand-wringing over America's behavior we're hearing in Europe's two dozen languages given that
[ Parent ]
Inspectors (4.00 / 1) (#177)
by marx on Wed Sep 11, 2002 at 01:29:32 AM EST

They could either accept the inspectors or resume war. They chose the latter.
Except that it was the US who withdrew the inspectors. Nice try though.

Join me in the War on Torture: help eradicate torture from the world by holding torturers accountable.
[ Parent ]

Yeah. Sure. (4.00 / 1) (#190)
by RyoCokey on Wed Sep 11, 2002 at 04:55:52 PM EST

Funny, that's not what I recall.

"...the average American finds it hard to accept all the hand-wringing over America's behavior we're hearing in Europe's two dozen languages given that
[ Parent ]
Timeline (5.00 / 1) (#191)
by marx on Wed Sep 11, 2002 at 05:57:28 PM EST

This is a timeline of the events:
29 October 1997: Iraq bars US weapons inspectors, provoking a diplomatic crisis which is defused with a Russian-brokered compromise. [This is what you were referring to]

...

17 November 1998: Unscom inspectors return to Iraq.

16 December 1998: The UN orders weapons inspectors out of the country after Unscom chief Richard Butler issued a report saying the Iraqis were still refusing to co-operate. US air strikes on Iraq begin hours later.

So ultimately, it was the inspectors who withdrew, not Iraq who threw them out.

The reason they refused to let US inspectors operate freely was because they were spying. These accusations have since been proven to be correct.

Whether Iraq followed the correct protocol or not in making a complaint against the US inspectors, I don't know, but come on, they clearly have a right to refuse access to inspectors who are spying on the bodyguard of Saddam Hussein.

Join me in the War on Torture: help eradicate torture from the world by holding torturers accountable.
[ Parent ]

No they don't at all (3.00 / 1) (#194)
by RyoCokey on Thu Sep 12, 2002 at 12:30:07 AM EST

It's a ceasefire, it's not a peace treaty. The terms are absolute and any violation thereof results in the resumption of war. It doesn't matter if the inspectors were rifling through Saddam's dressers looking for underwear that wasn't his. They have no rights regarding chosing or expelling inspectors.

Such are the terms negotiated with those who lose wars.



"...the average American finds it hard to accept all the hand-wringing over America's behavior we're hearing in Europe's two dozen languages given that
[ Parent ]
Try logic sometime (4.00 / 1) (#197)
by marx on Thu Sep 12, 2002 at 07:09:06 AM EST

The terms are absolute and any violation thereof results in the resumption of war.
If this is true, then the US is at war with Iraq.

We can clearly see today though, that Bush is trying to persuade countries all over the world to allow him to go to war against Iraq.

This means that what you're saying is false.

Join me in the War on Torture: help eradicate torture from the world by holding torturers accountable.
[ Parent ]

You are indeed the master of selective memory... (3.00 / 1) (#198)
by Sanction on Thu Sep 12, 2002 at 06:50:40 PM EST

If you paid any attention at all to the debate, you would know that the reason that Bush claims the authority to resume the war without congressional approval is that very reason, that the ceasefire was broken and so the war resumes.  He is merely trying to get backing from other countries to help with US image, he has made it quite clear that he will attack if he wants to, with or without international backing.

This means that what you're saying is false, and given how selective your memory would have to be to not be aware of this, most likely means that you are a liar.

Wow, This is the most amazing loaf of bread I've ever owned!
[ Parent ]

Bush's dreamy opinions (3.00 / 1) (#201)
by marx on Thu Sep 12, 2002 at 07:26:15 PM EST

that the ceasefire was broken and so the war resumes
The problem is that Bush is the only one who has this opinion. Since we are talking about international law, the opinion of one single country is not that relevant.

According to the majority of the UN, the US is not at war with Iraq. Since there is no international judiciary, this majority opinion is the closest to an official verdict on this issue you will get.

Join me in the War on Torture: help eradicate torture from the world by holding torturers accountable.
[ Parent ]

Another problem. (none / 0) (#213)
by haflinger on Mon Nov 04, 2002 at 11:37:24 AM EST

I don't believe there was a declaration of war. It was just military action under a UN Security Council order.

Did people from the future send George Carlin back in time to save rusty and K5? - leviramsey
[ Parent ]
Ceasefire with who?? (4.00 / 1) (#144)
by Amesha Spentas on Tue Sep 10, 2002 at 03:53:47 PM EST

Here's how ceasefires work : Two sides, currently engaged in active hostilities, agree to stop shooting each other for as long as certain conditions hold. The US, as the dominant power, dictated terms to the Iraqis. The Iraqis broke those terms. That means the US is well within their rights to start firing again, and *keep* firing, until a ceasefire is no longer applicable to the situation.

Here's the problem with your little argument. Iraq negotiated a ceasefire with the International collation not with the US in particular. Because of this, only the International collation has the right to cancel the ceasefire, not the US. (Something that is not about to happen at this time.) If the US acts without the authorization of the International collation then it forsakes any "Moral authority" that it may have possessed during the first Gulf War. The US will then be stuck holding the bill, and if the US does not want to be seen as practicing modern day colonialism it will then need to pull out of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and, after a few short years, Iraq as well. Losing any immediate influence it may have developed over the last decade.

Registered to die for the government at 18, and had to pay postage on the registration form - AnalogBoy
[ Parent ]

US Ceasefire, ratified by the UN (4.00 / 1) (#152)
by MightyTribble on Tue Sep 10, 2002 at 05:11:35 PM EST

The ceasefire was with the US, which was acting under authority given it under prior UN SC Resolutions (there's about a dozen of them, I recall). Iraqi commanders did not negotiate with the Security Council - they negotiated with Gen. Schwartzkopf, who in turn answered to the President.

The US ceasefire was then ratified by the Security Council, after the fact (the ceasefire was in March, the Security Council ratified it in April).

Iraq's ceasefire agreement is with the US, acting under the authority of the Security Council.

If Iraq break the ceasefire with the US, the US retains the mandate previously given it by the Security Council. i.e. to use 'all necessary means' to ensure Iraqi compliance. Everything reverts to where we were prior to the US ceasefire of March, 1991. That's how ceasefires work.

It was a ceasefire, not a peace treaty. Bear that in mind. The situation is identical to what we have in Korea, where the US is still at war with North Korea. If either side breaks the terms of the ceasefire, the guns can start firing again quite legally, with no further international intervention.  

My argument makes no mention of moral authority, costs of such action, or political ramifications. I only state the legal basis, which is reasonably clear.

[ Parent ]

Peace treaties end wars. (none / 0) (#216)
by haflinger on Mon Nov 04, 2002 at 11:43:25 AM EST

War was not declared over Kuwait.

Did people from the future send George Carlin back in time to save rusty and K5? - leviramsey
[ Parent ]
It's fascinating... (3.77 / 9) (#77)
by Skywise on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 10:46:03 PM EST

To see the arguments and intelligentsia fly over publically accessible information that we don't even pay for.

Yes, the media is and always will be biased.  (I myself prefer a "known" bias as I can at least then get an idea of how the information is being skewed, rather than a reporter that just "gets at the truth").  The whole thing with Hearst was his ability to create news to manipulate actions.

But the problem isn't biased news, but just plain BAD information.

What everyone seems to be forgetting (including our news gatherers) is that plutonium is missing from both Russian AND US nuclear reactors.  And weapons grade plutonium was "missing" from Russia some years ago.  So its conceivable that Iraq might have enough fissible material for one, maybe a handful of bombs.

He already HAS a launching device with his scud missiles (not completely destroyed) and all he needs is a modified altimeter to act as a trigger.  

The reports don't cover this because the studies are on internal research.  Not cobbled together off-the-shelf parts systems.

Does it achieve anything for him?  It makes for a great bargaining chip.  He drives it into any Middle-Eastern country that supports the US and whammo, wipes out their leadership.  Or maybe he destroys their oil fields as revenge.  (Oddly, lobbing it at Israel is probably the least valued of his alternatives, but would make for great PR).

But back to the original point:  Somebody else on here said that newspapers were in the business of making money and titillating headlines sell more papers than "Everythings fine today."  And he's right.  The info we get at the public trough is either what our governments want us to hear (because even in the "Free speech" U.S. they'll clamp down on any sensitive information ASAP) or what can be sold to us as profit.  There's no real value in the information.

Unknown Variables (5.00 / 2) (#81)
by DarkZero on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 11:33:42 PM EST

What everyone seems to be forgetting (including our news gatherers) is that plutonium is missing from both Russian AND US nuclear reactors.  And weapons grade plutonium was "missing" from Russia some years ago.  So its conceivable that Iraq might have enough fissible material for one, maybe a handful of bombs.

He already HAS a launching device with his scud missiles (not completely destroyed) and all he needs is a modified altimeter to act as a trigger.

If this unknown variable were taken into account, we would have to assume that every nation and terrorist group on the planet has a nuclear weapon, because the vast majority of them are equally likely to have nuclear capability via a missile or less conventional means of usage (car bomb, suitcase bomb, etc.) and this unknown unknown variable that anyone from Iraq to Iran to Switzerland and possibly on to Bob the Quiet, Shifty Guy That Lives In The Apartment Down The Hall. Somehow, I don't think that that makes for a more intelligent discussion. In fact, if the media were reporting that Iraq probably has nuclear weapons because of this unaccounted-for plutonium, I think the cries of sensationalist journalism would be even louder.

[ Parent ]

Closer-but not quite there (4.50 / 2) (#86)
by nomoreh1b on Tue Sep 10, 2002 at 12:47:08 AM EST

I agree you are correct that the report didn't ask the fundamental questions here: What is the chance that the government of Iraq or another force(perhaps a non-governmental organization) could at this point use any nuclear weapons in response to a US attack upon Iraq?

What is the likely progression of nuclear technology in Iraq and related nations?

What kinds of geopolitical objectives might a nuclear program be appropriate for?

Personally, I think that the official missing fissionable material means there are folks hostile to elites that operate in the US and EU that have some nuclear capability. I don't expect that the US or Russian governments would be entirely candid if say a few nukes or neutron bombs were missing from their arsenals.

If a nuclear device were used anywhere in the world against Israel, the US or an allied nation, the government of Iraq would in the current situation lead the list of likely suspects in the popular consciousness. What this means is that if someone doesn't particularly like the government of Iraq or the US, there is a possible means by which someone can potentially conduct a nuclear attack and get someone else to take the blame for it. One important thing to get here: Saddam is not a religious extremist--he's altogether too secular for the more conservative religious element in the middle east. If a nuclear weapon were used in the US say, there will need to be an immediate response that the US public can understand--which would probably mean a substantial and immediate nuclear response against Iraqi cities and military centers.

The major objectives of the more militant elements in the middle east from what I can see seem to be to eliminate the existance of Israel as a "Jewish State" and a political unification of Middle Eastern nations that would rollback the colonial legacy and help the Islamic world regain some of its lost glory as a world power. I think there may also be some ambitions in promoting the continued spread of Islam into the Americas, Europe and places in Asia where Islam is a minority religion(Islam is already the second largest religion in the US after Christianity-and we are already seeing some hysterical reactions from US religious leaders like Billy Graham's son that could develop into something more extreme if the Islamic population moves from 3% of the US population to something more like 5% or 10%).

I don't buy the idea that anyone in the middle east need indigenous nuclear capability to get rid of Israel. There are fewer than 20 million Jews in the world-mostly clustered in Israel and a few major cities in English speaking countries and Europe. Much of that population could be taken out with a few dozen weapons that might be purchased on the black market or made with stolen nuclear materials. I personally think the most likely target of nuclear terrorism are centers of Jewish population in the US because the US may be less likely to respoknd as strongly to an attack as Israel would. There are limits to how many cities the US could take out in response to an attack that killed say 500,000 US residents. Stillo, if such an attack were strategically directed, it might be far more devastating to Israel than an attack directly on Israeli territory-say if it took out key elements of political, financial, academic leadership key to maintaining strong western support for Israel. Israel on the other hand has a lot fewer allies it needs to appeal to and might respond to an attack that killed 500,000 Israelies very forcefully with its nuclear arsenal or other weapons of mass destruction. The world standards for how a small country that has 10% of its population killed and its very existance threatened are rather different than for a superpower attacked by a smaller, weaker country that loosed less than .25% of its population in that attack.

The big reasons for having a self-sufficient nuclear program would be important to someone planning on consolidating a number of countries in the middle east that are now autonomous into something that looks like a "world power"(this was something that was tried to some degree by Nasser among other Arab leaders). China, India, US, EU(through France and Britain) all have substantial nuclear capability. I can believe that Saddam Hussein and others in the Middle East have aspirations to be the George Washington of the United Islamic States(or United Arab States)--I also suspect there are others more than willing to play upon those kinds of ambitions. A lot of folks in the Middle East don't like the way that boundaries were drawn during the colonial era-and want to place a major portion of the blame for current problems in that region on what happened during the colonial era.

There has been a tendency in the US to belittle the ambitions of the Islamic world and write these countries of as "medieval" countries that just can't "make it" in the modern world. The real situation is I think far more complex than that. The Middle east is far from a center of technological power. Still, a lot of the world's pool of financial capital is now centered in that region(i.e. look at the list of the world's "creditor nations" which include some smallish European countries, off-shore financial havens, Far Eastern countries--and nation in the Middle East). Also, Islam is in fact spreading in western countries and Islam has overtaken Christianity as the world's largest religion. This might not mean much to you-but it sure means a lot to the "true believers" in the Middle east.

[ Parent ]

But (4.00 / 1) (#88)
by ebatsky on Tue Sep 10, 2002 at 01:26:03 AM EST

Is it right to attack Iraq before any actual proof is presented? This makes it very doubtful that such proof even exists and makes you wonder what the real reasons behind the push for attack are. I suggest reading this article:

http://argument.independent.co.uk/regular_columnists/mark_steel/story.jsp?story= 330556

It may be insightful for some of you.

[ Parent ]

That's a whole different game... (4.00 / 1) (#92)
by Skywise on Tue Sep 10, 2002 at 03:25:43 AM EST

That's just the tip of the iceberg.

Tony Blair is dead set against the idea, but suddenly he pulls a 180 and teams up with Bush?  The UN publically contradicts Bush last Saturday on Bush' statements about Iraqs nuclear capability, the White House issues a mea culpa and says Bush misstated the facts, then not 24 hours later, Bush statements are taken as fact again by the media and the entire incident is "forgotten", and the UN issues no other statements...  Meanwhile, Scott Ritter (the weapons inspector for the US Military who, not 4 years ago, was screaming that Iraq still had chemical weapons capabilities and demanded that we go back into Iraq) is demanding that Iraq has absolutely 0 weapons capabilities and we should be leaving these poor guys alone.  Oh, and did you know he got paid a little under half a million by the Iraqi government 2 years ago to make a movie?  Meanwhile, Russia has intentionally struck up a new trade alliance with Iraq.

What does this all mean?  I dunno.  But it's all pieces of information I got from the regular news sources that I'm trying to put together.

[ Parent ]

Russia's trade agreement (4.00 / 1) (#128)
by Eccles on Tue Sep 10, 2002 at 11:35:07 AM EST

Meanwhile, Russia has intentionally struck up a new trade alliance with Iraq.

One theory regarding this is that if we do attack and want Russian support, we'll have to give them cash to compensate for the trade agreement being scuppered.

It should be noted, however, that the U.S. has given up claims of an Iraq/al Queda link due to lack of evidence, according to today's Washington Post.

[ Parent ]
Obvious reasons (2.00 / 1) (#183)
by RoOoBo on Wed Sep 11, 2002 at 10:18:13 AM EST

I don't think is so hard to see the real reasons for an attack to Irak:

1) Distract US population from their internal problems (economic and politic corruption).  Help Bush Jr. and the republicans to win the next ellections.

2) Take a strongest position in a key area of the world for the US interests (petroleum).  Arabia Saudi is no longer seen as a good 'ally'.  BTW, Afganisthan was also in a key area, another reason for an attack.  They just got a good motivation to start it.

3) Dominate the world and create the First Empire after the Republic ;).

Those are the reasons I see after the Bush administration.

[ Parent ]

Quick! Invade New Zealand! (4.00 / 1) (#153)
by rodgerd on Tue Sep 10, 2002 at 05:11:48 PM EST

By your logic, the US should rumble a carrier group to New Zealand! We could have a nuclear arsenal under construction right now!

And don't try to convince me the US intelligence forces know something. The FBI, Executive Branch, the incoming administration, and State Department all had information handed to them on a platter that an atrocity was coming, and they all chose to ignore it. Why should I believe that they now have secret knowlege the rest of us don't?



[ Parent ]
Re: Quick! Invade New Zealand! (4.00 / 1) (#155)
by khallow on Tue Sep 10, 2002 at 06:14:44 PM EST

And don't try to convince me the US intelligence forces know something. The FBI, Executive Branch, the incoming administration, and State Department all had information handed to them on a platter that an atrocity was coming, and they all chose to ignore it. Why should I believe that they now have secret knowlege the rest of us don't?

Well, because now and back then they have information sources (like Echelon) that the rest of us don't have access to? Remember the problem wasn't a lack of information, it was ignoring information. I suspect that the US is a bit more focused now.

Stating the obvious since 1969.
[ Parent ]

Echelon has been around for more than 20 years... (5.00 / 1) (#168)
by rodgerd on Tue Sep 10, 2002 at 10:37:53 PM EST

...in one form or another. One of the prime problems with US intelligence is, in fact, over reliance on toys like Echelon, and the hope that buying bigger and more expensive automated surveillance systems will ever be an effective substitute for people on the ground who are familiar with local language, customs, and culture.

And I can't see why they'd be more focused, or why more focus would necessarily produce better results. The Bush administration has made and then retracted a number of assertions about their rationale for attacking Iraq when it emerged they had no evidence (specifically around links between Iraq and al-Qaida). The administration has determined a course of action that seems to be more inline with the desires of wackos like Richard Pearle than based on any evidence. And it's going against the advice of a variety of respected former millitary and executive figures including such wild-eyed tree-huggers as James Baker.

The FBI has a record going back to its inception of blunders in key areas - Communism, nuclear secrets, and the Mafia being key examples; why would they suddenly have changed? The CIA's track record ought to be not merely an embarrasement to every US citizen, but a source of outrage; the only organisation which has done more to undermine the image of the US abroad (and put its citizens at risk) has been the State Department. This is the same State department that lied for years about the prospects of the Nationalists in China, and blocked Ho Chi Min from speaking with key US officials in an effort to avoid the US-Vietnam crises (and ultimately war) bought about by US support for France.

You can trust them if you like. Most positive things the US has achieved abroad have been in spite of the morons in her intelligence and foreign affairs teams; most of the things that make the US look bad have come about because of them.



[ Parent ]
New Zealand is... (3.00 / 1) (#158)
by Skywise on Tue Sep 10, 2002 at 06:46:37 PM EST

a>  Somewhat of an ally.
b>  Has no motivation to attack the US, or any ally of the US.

[ Parent ]
Iraq was an ally... (4.00 / 1) (#170)
by rodgerd on Tue Sep 10, 2002 at 10:44:27 PM EST

...who became an enemy all of a sudden (we have always been at war with Iraq). (And New Zealand is more than "somewhat" of an ally, even if a century of going to war alongside the US gets less friendly treatment than China...).

It's questionable whether Iraq has any such motivation. The only attack on a US ally was when a US diplomat indicated the was no interested in Iraq-Kuwaiti disputes, which Iraq took as a green light. Israel is the only US ally likely to be attacked Iraq - and that's unlikely unless the US goes to war against Iraq.



[ Parent ]
Hussein saying "Death to America" (4.00 / 1) (#181)
by Skywise on Wed Sep 11, 2002 at 08:50:21 AM EST

Isn't motivation?

And sure, tomorrow, New Zealand could become Axis of Evil #11 if they went off and became hostile towards the US.

Iraq was never really a strong ally to begin with, any more than Pakistan is now.  But the US didn't change attitudes towards them overnight.  They had almost a complete year to get out of Kuwait voluntarily, or work out some sort of solution.  But Hussein wouldn't listen to the US, or to the UN.  And that's ultimately what got him attacked.

That's a huge difference today, because Iraq is working with the UN, so the UN is essentially against the US action.

[ Parent ]

Iraq working with the UN (4.00 / 1) (#186)
by Cro Magnon on Wed Sep 11, 2002 at 12:27:25 PM EST

Are you sure? My understanding is that Iraq was merely saying it MIGHT consider working with the UN. And only while GW is still rattling his saber.
Information wants to be beer.
[ Parent ]
You're right. (4.00 / 1) (#188)
by Skywise on Wed Sep 11, 2002 at 04:24:21 PM EST

I should've been more clear.
Iraq is trying to "go through the process" with the UN and come to a resolution.

Personally I think that they'd happily go through the process then screw the law like they've done the last 3 times.  But you want to give the benefit of the doubt if possible.

But the fact that they're going through the process buys them some political points with the rest of the world, so the US can't easiliy argue that Iraq is unrepentant and needs to be stopped.

[ Parent ]

How many times (3.00 / 1) (#189)
by Cro Magnon on Wed Sep 11, 2002 at 04:51:46 PM EST

should we give them the benefit of the doubt? Do we let Saddam jerk us around, until he's strong enough to conqueror Saudi Arabia, jack up oil prices, and threaten to nuke anyone who interferes?
Information wants to be beer.
[ Parent ]
NZ's an ally? (none / 0) (#220)
by haflinger on Mon Nov 04, 2002 at 11:54:29 AM EST

Oh yeah, that sure explains the ejection from ANZUS.

Did people from the future send George Carlin back in time to save rusty and K5? - leviramsey
[ Parent ]
US Intelligence limitations (4.00 / 1) (#166)
by nomoreh1b on Tue Sep 10, 2002 at 10:04:57 PM EST

I agree that the US government is in way over its head when trying to assemble intelligence from the Middle East. The US has no serious spy network of its own in that region and is dependent upon Israel for "on the street" intelligence gathering(and Israel of course has its own agenda). This isn't the first time this has happened, during the cold war, the US was largely dependent upon the Gehlen organization, the spy network the Germans built up on Eastern Europe which was "acquired" by the US at the end of WW II(Reinhard Gehlen literally marched into a US Army camp and wound up becoming a general in the US Army eventually--though again, I would question how "unbiased" the information that organization produced was).

The only source of intelligence that is really under the control of US government "high tech surviellence of various types(especially spy satellites and such).

In this situation, the US government is like a big bruiser that has wandered into a territory where he doesn't speak the language and is utterly dependent upon a "friend" that does.

[ Parent ]

Nuclear testing (3.33 / 3) (#93)
by karjala on Tue Sep 10, 2002 at 03:50:07 AM EST

I think that before you can have nuclear missiles, you would need to do nuclear tests.

Such tests would have created explosions which would be detected by the international community and the US stations in the region.

I'm not sure how valid these statements are. Can someone post a reply?

testing testing (4.00 / 2) (#94)
by kvillinge on Tue Sep 10, 2002 at 04:12:54 AM EST

South Africa, Israel, North Korea and India are countries that for years have been accused of having nuclear weapons but I have never heard that these countries have actually made any full scale tests (except India a few years ago).

[ Parent ]
Testing (4.80 / 5) (#95)
by vrai on Tue Sep 10, 2002 at 04:42:21 AM EST

Right, as far as I know:
  • South Africa - Developed nuclear weapons in the 1970s (I think), didn't test them, and scrapped the program soon after. Currently the only (known) nation to have developed a nuclear deterrent and then got rid of it.
  • Israel - Got all their weapons off the United States (on 'loan'). As such does not need to test them.
  • India - Did a batch of tests a few years ago, in a 'who can make the biggest bang' race with Pakistan. While Pakistan is thought to have cheated on some of their test (by using lots of conventional explosives) there is no indication the Indians did. Lacks a decent delivery system though.
  • North Korea - Has been testing missiles (by firing them over Japan) but hasn't tested any nuclear devices. Probably doesn't need to as it could get them from China in a Israel/USA style relationship. Probably couldn't afford to develop its own even if it wanted to.

The current list of nuclear states is (in approximate order of yield):

  1. United States
  2. Russia
  3. China
  4. France
  5. United Kingdom
  6. Israel
  7. India
  8. Pakistan
Only the first five are have a real strategic capability (using ICBMs). The others can only hit targets fairly close to them (which is all they want to do anyway).

Remember though that Israel refuses to confirm the size of its arsenal, and India/Pakistan keep claiming that they have more than each other.

[ Parent ]

China's arsenal (4.00 / 2) (#97)
by zordon on Tue Sep 10, 2002 at 05:00:59 AM EST

I was under the impression that China did not actually have a very large nuclear arsenal. I read something (I know, not a good source) a few years back that said china had very few strategic weapons.
zordon
[ Parent ]
order of rank? (4.50 / 2) (#108)
by lonemarauder on Tue Sep 10, 2002 at 08:43:27 AM EST

Is that list intended to be in order of rank? Russia continues to have more nuclear weapons than anyone else.



[ Parent ]
\me digs frantically for sources ... (4.00 / 1) (#115)
by vrai on Tue Sep 10, 2002 at 09:38:22 AM EST

... as soon as I re-find the bloody page I'll post the URL. But it's excluding Russia warheads that have been disassembled or are no longer functional (due to poor storage conditions, e.g. flooded ICBM silos). This accounts for over 18,000 of Russia's official 1999 count of 28,000 warheads.

[ Parent ]
And... (4.00 / 1) (#135)
by rusty on Tue Sep 10, 2002 at 01:30:21 PM EST

...anyone know how securely stored the fissile material from all those dismantled warheads is?

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]
And how did SA develop nukes? (2.00 / 1) (#151)
by rodgerd on Tue Sep 10, 2002 at 05:04:10 PM EST

Why, Israel sold the technology to them. Nice country; great ally of the US - aiding nuclear proliferation to a racist nation.



[ Parent ]
Sources? (4.00 / 1) (#169)
by sphealey on Tue Sep 10, 2002 at 10:38:33 PM EST

    South Africa - Developed nuclear weapons in the 1970s (I think), didn't test them, and scrapped the program soon after. Currently the only (known) nation to have developed a nuclear deterrent and then got rid of it.

    Israel - Got all their weapons off the United States (on 'loan'). As such does not need to test them.

Could you post some sources please? Everything I have seen indicates that Israel developed its nukes internally, and that they did test one in the South Atlantic with the assistance of South Africa.

An assertion that the US transferred nuclear weapons to Israel is pretty strong. I would think that if there were anything to it that Iraq at a minimum would be playing it to the hilt.

sPh

[ Parent ]

Isreal (4.00 / 2) (#180)
by zordon on Wed Sep 11, 2002 at 07:49:29 AM EST

I am certain Isreal has the capability to produce their own nuclear weapons at this time, however in the past they bought much of their arsenal from the US.
zordon
[ Parent ]
R&D (5.00 / 2) (#103)
by nusuth on Tue Sep 10, 2002 at 07:17:28 AM EST

If one wants big nukes and/or efficient nukes, a fair amount of testing or data acquired from actual tests are required for R&D. OTOH if one just wants to make a gun type uranium bomb (which seems to be what Saddam is trying to do), local library is quite sufficient. This also applies to common folk/terrorist; with enough U235, making a "little boy"ish nuke is a no brainer. The good news is there is not much bomb grade U235 lying around and enriching uranium ore is very tough.

[ Parent ]
Not enough U235 lying around (4.00 / 1) (#105)
by karjala on Tue Sep 10, 2002 at 08:05:41 AM EST

Can't U235 be found in the black market?

[ Parent ]
I don't think so (4.00 / 1) (#106)
by nusuth on Tue Sep 10, 2002 at 08:25:38 AM EST

Plutonium should be much more accessible, yet there are no verified reports of succesful, illegal plutonium trading. Gun type U bombs are inefficient so U235 is useless except as a nuclear reactor fuel. But the enriching level reactor fuel is much lower than gun grade; if one has equipment to enrich reactor fuel to bomb stuff, he can also enrich raw ore to bomb grade.

[ Parent ]
Verified illegal trading (4.50 / 2) (#143)
by transcend on Tue Sep 10, 2002 at 03:13:42 PM EST

It is difficult to catch black cat in the dark room. If authorities prevent illegal transaction it becomes unsuccessful, however if they don't, it becomes hard to verify that transaction has ever taken place. However, if you can verify the fact that material has been stolen, and later recovered from somebody that couldn't possibly steal it, these facts could indicate material trafficking incident, right? Check out NIS Nuclear Trafficking Database.

[ Parent ]
Tell that to the Japanese... (5.00 / 1) (#150)
by rodgerd on Tue Sep 10, 2002 at 05:02:48 PM EST

About the uranium bomb being inefficient, I mean. It may not be as killorific as a plutonium bomb, but dropping one on Tel Aviv would still make a hell of a mess.



[ Parent ]
Guardian article looks very balanced to me (4.75 / 4) (#96)
by mreardon on Tue Sep 10, 2002 at 04:53:47 AM EST

Are you serious?!? How could the Guardian newspaper have covered this released report any more impartially? You have even misquoted the headline by leaving out the quotes and attributing the statement to the newspaper itself. Incorrectly quoting a newspaper article you are attacking leaves you very open to your own charges of lack of impartiality and imbalance yourself.

Are you serious? (4.00 / 1) (#104)
by mirleid on Tue Sep 10, 2002 at 07:41:53 AM EST

In what way does the lack of the quotes (the fact that it would have looked awkward with a double set of quotes notwithstanding) affect the content of the sentence? It is still misleading in the sense that the sentence as used is simply false.

The correct sentence would be "Iraq could build nuclear weapon within months, should it have access to fissile material and technical expertise to build a viable missile detonation system": which, as one other poster has pointed out, holds true for a large number of nations on the face of the earth, and is nothing special in and as of itself...



Chickens don't give milk
[ Parent ]
re: In what way does the lack of quotes.... (3.50 / 2) (#109)
by mreardon on Tue Sep 10, 2002 at 08:59:23 AM EST

This way:- The Guardian was quoting the report in its' headline. Not making the assertation itself!. There could not be a bigger difference. Whether the quoted sentence is false or not should be taken up with the IISS think tank, not the newspaper. The newspaper is not the arbiter of truth but the reporter and investigator of facts. To correct the headline as you did above shows a naive grasp of headline font size as well as a frightening penchant for censorship. Give the dear reader out there some credit for their intelligence and let them decide whether the statement is false after reading the article, as you were allowed to do.

[ Parent ]
That makes it even worse (5.00 / 1) (#114)
by mirleid on Tue Sep 10, 2002 at 09:38:21 AM EST

...because no such assertion is made in the report. If you take a look at the summary that was made available on-line, you'll find the following statement:

It could, however, assemble nuclear weapons within months if fissile material from foreign sources were obtained

So, assuming that this the sentence that is being quoted by The Guardian, they would need to, in the very least, add "..." to the end of the headline to let people know that a fragment, rather than a full sentence, had been reproduced. So, taken per se, the headline is, IMHO, indisputably false.

Moreover, I do not see where my proposed headline shows any penchant towards censorship in any way, shape or form. It does indeed show a penchant for making people accuratelly portray information. This, IMHO, should go without saying if the reporter is, as you put it, an investigator of facts; the fact is, the report says no such thing as they have reproduced in their headline.



Chickens don't give milk
[ Parent ]
why is the headline indisputably false? (4.00 / 1) (#127)
by mreardon on Tue Sep 10, 2002 at 11:32:29 AM EST

The REPORT:"It could, however, assemble nuclear weapons within months...".

The Guardian: "..could build nuclear weapons within months".

From the difference above do you really deduce the following logic?

>I think that these articles are just trying to create momentum to support an intervention in Iraq, and attempt to do so based on manipulation of information.

My contention is that I don't deduce "the report proves without a shadow of a doubt that Iraq is on the verge of building nuclear weapons" as your article intimates when I read the Guardian headline:- "..could build nuclear weapons within months". I read that Iraq could build nuclear weapons within months.

Re:censorship. You insist that the correct sentence should be <insert your previous headline here>...implying all other sentences are incorrect in one fell swoop, even the one you quoted from the IISS above. If this is not a tendency toward dogma and censorship then cut my legs off and call me shorty.

I still contend that the Guardian headline is adequate and should be taken in the context of the whole article, not as you wish per se. That is the whole point of putting an article underneath a headline. The article is IMHO balanced report quoting the IISS article. Whether the IISS report is balanced is another question. It is nonetheless newsworthy and therefore reported. You can't just shoot the messenger.

[ Parent ]

"..." placed at wrong end of sentence (4.00 / 1) (#132)
by mirleid on Tue Sep 10, 2002 at 01:11:36 PM EST

You have claimed that The Guardian's headline is a quote from the report. I am willing to concede that: my point is that, should it be a quote from the report (from a specific sentence that I reproduced on my previous post), it is a fragment of a sentence, and, as such, should bear "..." at the end to mean that the quoted sentence continues. Granted that this is a nitpick, and most people would probably not notice it, but since we are discussing the finer points of conveying meaning, I think that it is significant.

I never claimed that, as you put it,

My contention is that I don't deduce "the report proves without a shadow of a doubt that Iraq is on the verge of building nuclear weapons" as your article intimates

Rather, I wrote that the articles content describe the facts, eg, that Iraq will not have nukes any time soon without outside help, but that, at the same time, they bear headlines and intros that indicate otherwise. And that, in my mind, is misleading your readers...

Re: censorship, and as you so rightly put it, I think that that the correct headline should be the one that I put forth (or any other semantically equivalent sentence), not that it must be.

Finally, I agree that if somebody reads the full article (or, even better, if that person goes to the trouble of reading the report summary) s/he will be given an overview of the statements that are in the report. My point is that the people that only read headlines and intros (IMHO a large segment of the news-reading population, although I can't produce numbers to back this impression) will be mislead into thinking that Saddam is on the verge of building a nuke, which does not correspond to the contents of the report.



Chickens don't give milk
[ Parent ]
re:"..." :-) (4.00 / 1) (#142)
by mreardon on Tue Sep 10, 2002 at 02:48:38 PM EST

let's leave the nits picked :-) I wish only to defend the Guardian as it is one of only two newspapers around I have found worth reading and also has one of the best journalists IMHO.

If the article contents describe facts then we both agree.

If people are going to read the headline only, then jump to a conclusion and then not read the article then there is not much either of us can do about it, no matter how much we type.

perhaps we can both agree on the article presented by my other newspaper of choice as a more responsible headline - apart from the other 6 articles about the IISS from the Guardian over the last 2 days.

[ Parent ]

Precedents (3.83 / 6) (#99)
by Arevos on Tue Sep 10, 2002 at 06:06:06 AM EST

I'm a little off topic, perhaps, but the thing I find most worrying is the precedent this sets. Shortly after the US attacked Afganistan, Israel went after Palistine in order to stop the suicide bombers and islamic jihad terrorism. Under normal circumstances, I'd imagine that Israel wouldn't do that, but with the US waging a war on 'terrorism', they could hardly object to Israel's somewhat draconion terrorism policies. In fact, I believe President Bush said something to the effect of Israel being perfectly within in its rights to retaliate.

Now, if the US attacks Iraq, without UN approval, and without international approval, that could set a similar, more worrying precedent. For instance, if the US can invade another country without consequence, then China might risk an attempted invasion of Taiwan. Whilst there are certain moral differences, doubtless China could argue it was just 'protecting' itself.

And I'm not really picking on China here, even though I hold its government in no high regard. Just an example of what might happen, or is more likely to happen, if the US goes ahead anyway.

As for weapons of mass destruction, well, Saddam isn't likely ever use any weapon on the US. But it is possible, and the costs would certainly be high, if, by a remote chance, it succeeded. Then again, a war would cause no small amount of bloodshed, and, if the US suceeded, there would be a lot of hate from the Iraqi people. They might not overly enjoy the rule of Hussain, but, if I were them, I wouldn't feel too grateful toward a country that just bombed me. And in such a situation, if there are fair elections instated, the majority might vote for a hardline dictator anyway, if he promised retribution against the USA. Then we'd be back at square one, as free elections and true democracy might not last too long in such a situation.



Relax (4.00 / 1) (#111)
by DingBat1 on Tue Sep 10, 2002 at 09:11:43 AM EST


Unless something drastic has happened while I wasn't watching, China does not have the physical capability of pulling off an invasion, at the moment.

They don't have the sealift capability, or the naval assets to make it work. Soon, perhaps, but not right now.


[ Parent ]

That's fortunate... (4.00 / 1) (#116)
by Arevos on Tue Sep 10, 2002 at 09:46:56 AM EST

But my point was in general. What about an invasion of Pakistan by India, or vice versa, for instance? Still, I suppose I might be worrying to much about this, and I don't know enough about military strengths or weaknesses to make accurate guesses. But I can't see an invasion of Iraq not having nasty consequences, no matter how much good it might do.

...Maybe I should look on the bright side, though :)



[ Parent ]
Anymore? (3.33 / 3) (#107)
by skyknight on Tue Sep 10, 2002 at 08:40:05 AM EST

...one can't trust newspapers to be impartial anymore...

Heh... When could you trust them to be impartial? There has never been such a thing as an impartial media outlet. One must read several different ones and try to mentally assemble the different pieces into a cohesive whole. Anyone who accepts what one source says is a mere puppet on strings.



It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
Aggregate impartiality (5.00 / 2) (#110)
by Kintanon on Tue Sep 10, 2002 at 09:05:38 AM EST

At one point in the history of Media, if you listened to/read pretty much every Media source out there you would have an aggregate of information that contained no bias. But now the mainstream Media all seem to unite together with no dissenting voices. You can check CNN, MSNBC, FOX, the NYT, The Washington Post, and the BBC even and get almost the exact same opinion on this whole Iraq thing. Some are different in tiny details, but they all say essentially the same thing. So what happened to investigative reporting and competitive media? Why aren't the papers sending reporters to Iraq? Where is the interview with Hussein given exclusively to some big name reporter? You know he would do it if someone asked....

Investigative reporting is dead, now all of the big media outlets just rehash the same AP news feed over and over again.

Kintanon

[ Parent ]

Impartiality is the least of your worries... (4.50 / 2) (#113)
by DingBat1 on Tue Sep 10, 2002 at 09:32:30 AM EST


People seem to forget that the people that gather the news are fallible human beings.

I recently read an account by a reporter that illustrates the problem perfectly. This reporter was in Israel when the '73 war broke out. Hearing stories of terrific tank battles, he and a few colleagues jumped into a Jeep and headed out into the Sinai. Heading for the area of the battle they ran into a lone Israeli military policement at a crossroads.

The MP stopped them and asked where they were headed. They replied that they wanted to see the big tank battle. The MP replied that if they turned left they could see the remains of the battle. They followed his directions and, sure enough, came upon a field of burnt out Egyptian tanks.

Years later, this same reporter was back in Israel and looked up a friend of his who worked in the Israeli intelligence community. The reporter related the story to his friend. His friend smiled and confided to the reporter that the military policeman was most likely working for intelligence. Had the reporters turned right instead of left, they would have found a field of burnt out Israeli tanks.

It doesn't matter how impartial a reporter is if he isn't getting the real story in the first place.


[ Parent ]

Convenient propaganda. (2.00 / 2) (#119)
by drquick on Tue Sep 10, 2002 at 10:02:08 AM EST

How convenient, Saddam is just a few months away from building an A-bomb. I feel it's not a conincidence we are told this. Sounds like war propaganda to me. Saddam is so intimidatinfg with a "bigger arsenal" of WMD than before. I don't believe it! It's just to conveniently packaged, suitably scary, just in time for GWB's and Blair's little war expedition.

Brilliant observation, Holmes! (4.00 / 1) (#122)
by Skywise on Tue Sep 10, 2002 at 10:28:31 AM EST

The US and England seriously contemplate attacking Iraq.  You're a newspaper editor.  Do you run stories about Iraq (pro or con) to attempt to inform your readers, or do you run that story about the Maoists killing 56 security men in a western Nepal town?

[ Parent ]
Well, it bears repeating (2.00 / 1) (#146)
by drquick on Tue Sep 10, 2002 at 04:26:13 PM EST

As I said: it seems like a calculated "coincidence" that the research results are so useful to Bush n' Blair.

[ Parent ]
What?!?! (3.00 / 2) (#149)
by Skywise on Tue Sep 10, 2002 at 04:56:06 PM EST

The research results are NOT favorable to Bush n' Blair.

That's the whole point of this discussion!  If they were favorable to the double B boys, most of the world would be agreeing them..

[ Parent ]

Quoting the original article (3.00 / 1) (#123)
by mahood on Tue Sep 10, 2002 at 10:37:20 AM EST

Basically, what every one of those articles states is what the report [...] is saying
So they're reporting the contents accurately?

without fissile material [...] it could be some considerable time before Iraq has nuclear weapons capabilities.
Sounds OK to me...

But they are saying this and at the same time, still bearing headlines and intros that seem to indicate that the report proves without a shadow of a doubt that Iraq is on the verge of building nuclear weapons.
and how would you suggest they get people to read the articles? Would you be tempted to skip over a headline of "Iraq unlikely to make bomb without components, report says" or "Iraq could have bomb 'within months' report says"?

It's all about the ratings....

No Nukes Likely in Iraq, Says Report (5.00 / 1) (#134)
by rusty on Tue Sep 10, 2002 at 01:26:02 PM EST

Isn't that more true to the actual content of the report, while still getting the key eyeball-grabber words "Nukes" and "Iraq" up there?

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]
Conspiracy Theories (4.50 / 2) (#126)
by Kwil on Tue Sep 10, 2002 at 11:09:09 AM EST

To cut a long story short, I think that these articles are just trying to create momentum to support an intervention in Iraq, and attempt to do so based on manipulation of information

I think you're ascribing far too much maliciousness to the system. Quite simply "Iraq may have WMD in months" simply sells more papers than "Iraq incapable of building WMD in years without help".  Remember that the newspaper's goal is not to inform you but is to sell newspapers - or to be more specific, to convince advertisers that newspapers are selling.

Similarly, explaining the reasoning behind not attacking Iraq is a more difficult proposition to make on television, where complex arguments must be made to fit between commercials and the "balancing" view points, while "He's a dangerous man" fits just fine.

To be blunt, I don't think what anybody at CNN, USA Today, or the Guardian thinks about the possible war has nearly as much effect on what gets printed or said as the need to attract and display advertisements.

That Jesus Christ guy is getting some terrible lag... it took him 3 days to respawn! -NJ CoolBreeze


Egg Troll has a nuclear device! (none / 0) (#138)
by egg troll on Tue Sep 10, 2002 at 01:40:48 PM EST

And I'm prepared to use it against America's foes unless I'm appointed Emperor of Wyoming. My autocratic rule will be feared by all who live under my iron fist.

There will also be punch and pie for everyone.

He's a bondage fan, a gastronome, a sensualist
Unparalleled for sinister lasciviousness.

Uh-oh (none / 0) (#203)
by Captain Appalled on Fri Sep 13, 2002 at 10:24:48 AM EST

It's all fun and games 'til someone sweeps through Belgium.

[ Parent ]
Buy vs. Build (4.00 / 3) (#141)
by nomoreh1b on Tue Sep 10, 2002 at 02:24:03 PM EST

The fundamental problem with this report what that it focused on the capability of Iraq to develop a substantial nuclear arsenal with minimal outside assistance. What the report failed to analyze to my satisfaction is how likely it is that the government of Iraq(or other organizations) might be able to respond to an invasion of Iraq with use of a nuclear device. How many devices could now be missing from the arsenals of existing nuclear powers or be constructed using the materials that are now deemed as "missing"? It would strike me as much more likely that there are nukes in the middle east that have been purchased or stolen than that there are nukes that have been made there.

Nuclear missiles are important if one is attempting to deliver dozens of nuclear devices in situations in which there is substantial wartime preparedness. What is to stop nuclear terrorists from using a ship, commercial aircraft or a truck as a delivery mechanism for a nuclear device? What kind of political objectives might be obtained with use of 10-20 nuclear devices? What limits would world and internal public opinion place upon the response to such an attack?

RE: Buy vs. Build (4.00 / 1) (#156)
by brsmith4 on Tue Sep 10, 2002 at 06:31:58 PM EST

What the report failed to analyze to my satisfaction is how likely it is that the government of Iraq(or other organizations) might be able to respond to an invasion of Iraq with use of a nuclear device.

Um, first of all, this organization is not in the business of military strategy. Their sole purpose is to assess the amount of and development capabilites of NBC weapons of a particular country. It would be out of their bounds to some how assess whether or not Iraq would use these weapons against our troops. Their job was to assess iraq's capabilities. I believe they did so very well.


I give up on you people. You couldn't save yourselves from a bad dream. --God
[ Parent ]
RE: Buy vs. Build (5.00 / 1) (#161)
by nomoreh1b on Tue Sep 10, 2002 at 07:22:55 PM EST

Um, first of all, this organization is not in the business of military strategy. Their sole purpose is to assess the amount of and development capabilites of NBC weapons of a particular country. It would be out of their bounds to some how assess whether or not Iraq would use these weapons against our troops. Their job was to assess iraq's capabilities. I believe they did so very well.

In this case, a major component of Iraq's capability-and those forces that might respond an attack upon Iraq using nuclear include weapons that are stolen/purchased rather than built.

Examining the capability of countries in the middle east to create a nuclear arsenal is of major long term importance, but has little to do with the question of does Iraq have the capability nuke New York City if US troops show up in Bagdhad. Iraq doesn't need to build nukes to use them--and has major political objectives that could be obtained with use of 10-15 nukes-a number that could be theoretically obtained on the black market.

Examinations of capabilities here should include careful analysis of how much fissionable material is missing from US and Russian stockpiles and the capability of Iraq and company to buy nuclear weapons/devices on world markets and deliver them effectively. The omission of that capability in this analysis is a gross neglection of the sources claimed charter.

[ Parent ]

How transparent do things get? (1.00 / 2) (#145)
by mikelist on Tue Sep 10, 2002 at 04:18:12 PM EST

Does anyone else see the carnival huckstering from the Prez and his advisors? After tomorrow, if God willing, a terrorist attack succeeds anywhere in the US, he will have the entire nation's hearts, minds, and cajones in his hands. I'm afraid that the Constitution and Bill of Rights will eventually become bird cage liner. Sometimes I'm a little slow to catch on, they may be already. Ya think?

Media (2.00 / 3) (#157)
by greening on Tue Sep 10, 2002 at 06:39:39 PM EST

The media has been biased (and, btw, very liberal) since the dawn of time.

"British think tank warns of Iraqi threat" (USA Today) "IISS: The case against Iraq" (CNN) "Iraq could build nuclear weapon within months" (The Guardian)

They use these posts to attract viewers (their No. 1 goal is money, after all). They will always interpret things to their own goals and agenda's. They always have, always will.


et al, Glenn Murphy
The liberal media (4.00 / 4) (#193)
by broken77 on Wed Sep 11, 2002 at 08:14:26 PM EST

I really dislike reading when people say "the liberal media" as if they were saying "the L.A. Lakers". I really don't think you can prove a liberal bias in media reporting. You may be able to show me that there are more registered Democrats in journalist positions, but that's all you can show me. Also keep in mind, that (especially in modern day), Democrat != liberal. But, start here. I made several posts on this topics many months ago... I might just go and dig those up, cause I don't wanna go through the whole thing again :-)

I'm starting to doubt all this happy propaganda about Islam being a religion of peace. Heck, it's just as bad as Christianity. -- Dphitz
[ Parent ]

Like Iraq, I am six months from building a crude n (5.00 / 3) (#164)
by mjl on Tue Sep 10, 2002 at 08:50:59 PM EST

it is hard to get good material in New Zealand, being nuclear free. the best i can do is harvest material from smoke detectors. most of them have small amounts of americanium in them.

the irony, the irony

Iraq doesn't have missile technology? (4.00 / 1) (#165)
by LilDebbie on Tue Sep 10, 2002 at 09:02:37 PM EST

Iraq's nuclear capabilities is offset by its lack of missile technology capable of delivering such a device.

I recall the SCUDs from the first Gulf War being not all that accurate, but plenty capable of hitting Israel, which is really where the threat lies. Of course, if Iraq does not have nuclear capability, their missile technology is largely useless. Anyway, just a misconception I felt necessary to correct.

My name is LilDebbie and I have a garden.
- hugin -

No misconception at all (5.00 / 1) (#179)
by mirleid on Wed Sep 11, 2002 at 04:44:13 AM EST

The sentence refers to the lack of missile technology capable of delivering nuclear warheads. So, they might have SCUDs (and some some upgraded versions that they home-grew), but they do not have the capabilities to create the mechanisms (the "physics package" that I refer in my article) to detonate a nuclear warhead installed in such a missile. So, for all intents and purposes, even if they had nuclear warheads, they would like the means to deliver them via missile technology.



Chickens don't give milk
[ Parent ]
It's not that difficult (5.00 / 2) (#209)
by Quila on Thu Oct 03, 2002 at 07:53:51 AM EST

I used to work in Lance missiles, which was mobile missle capable of launching an enhanced radiation nuclear warhead to 75 miles and a conventional to 45 miles. It was a single missile body to which you could attach either conventional or nuclear warheads fairly quickly.

This system was developed in the mid-1960s, and used a transistorized firing computer about the size of a new HP Color LaserJet. The in-missile package was a simple gyroscope and some more transistorized boards, plus there was the equally ancient electronics package on the warhead. In other words, any computing power that thing needed to run a physics package is probably available now in an Atari 2600.

This system replaced the nuclear-capable Sergeant missile, developed in the late 1940s through the 1950s.

So, with all the cash Hussein has, all the capable engineers for hire throughout the world (Arabs send their kids to study in Western tech universities), and the massive computing power available in the simplest things, you don't think he could reproduce 50 year-old technology?

[ Parent ]

Modification (4.50 / 2) (#210)
by Quila on Thu Oct 03, 2002 at 08:55:44 AM EST

I should have differentiated between the missile program itself, when started in 1956, and had lots of rocket design problems and changes until the final version was successfully tested in 1970 -- but Hussein already has the SCUD and can avoid most of this development.

The Lance was built with nuclear generally in mind, but the decision to make Lance nuclear came in 1968, and the first missiles were fielded for training in 1972. Four years to engineer a conventional missile for nuclear, thirty years ago. Hmmm, how long has Hussein been without inspections? And his SCUD missiles were originally designed to deploy nuclear warheads too.

He has already shown he has engineering talent. In 18 months, his own people reengineered his SCUDs, more than doubling the range in order to be able to hit Tehran in the war with Iran. He then embarked on a program to build his own missiles, and by the time of the Gulf War had even successfully tested an very long-range first stage consisting of five connected SCUD bodies, and had designed a workable nuclear warhead for his SCUDs (the Gulf War caused him to lose what U235 he had though).

[ Parent ]

You're surprised by this? (4.00 / 1) (#184)
by Mr.Surly on Wed Sep 11, 2002 at 11:51:43 AM EST

News sources always sensationalize stuff.

My local news channel:

"What's in your home that could be killing you right now? Tune in at 11 to find out!"

Later, you find out it's an "exposé" on some old hat shit like radon.

I know what's killing you (5.00 / 1) (#208)
by Quila on Thu Oct 03, 2002 at 07:27:45 AM EST

Anxiety over having to wait until 11:00 to see whether theres's some deadly poison around.

[ Parent ]
or maybe just TV (4.00 / 1) (#211)
by Mindcrym on Sat Oct 19, 2002 at 03:19:09 AM EST

I was going to suggest the television itself.
-Mindcrym

[ Parent ]
Ohhh gawd (1.40 / 5) (#195)
by neurohax on Thu Sep 12, 2002 at 03:07:30 AM EST

*warning- venting session ahead* I hate it when people do the "media sensationalizes and distorts everything!" game. Essentially we have a madman who CAN acquire a nuclear device within MONTHS. I don't understand where the "Oh, it would be mean to attack them. We might hurt an innocent little girl" mentality is coming from... IF HE DOES OBTAIN NUCLEAR CAPABILITIES, MILLIONS WILL DIE. And I'm sure that those jobless Russian nuclear scientists with Cold War era mindsets REALLY care about keeping that info secret while their families starve. (I'm not saying ALL RNSs are this mindset, but you gotten think there's one or two around). It's a good thing the coutries that once made up the ussr know where all their nukes are. Oh wait, they're missing a few briefcase nukes... I guess that's no biggy. Someone probably just forgot to sign them out for show and tell day. So, say we don't do anything. Either a nuclear scud will be launched at Isreal, or the device will be smuggled out to someplace like, oh, say, Manhattan. Or maybe we just keep waiting to attack for, oh, say, a few months, and when we have our troops over there, they become the target. There is such an infinite number of possibilities where millions of innocent people die it makes NO SENSE to underestimate the situation. I could understand the peaceful mentality if they allowed weapons inspections, but I mean, come on! How gullible do you have to be to think nothing's going on when they are refused entry?!?! What? The inspectors smelled funny? They gave them mean looks? There is no conceivable reason to reject the process that will lead to lifting of sanctions and allow a return to normalcy over time. ARGH! Reminds me of all the people that accused CNN of running old footage of Palestinians dancing in the streets after 9/11. Hey, guess what? It was real. And after that the idea of "a free palestinian state" should have been laughed at. Instead everyone got so caught up in the media's role that by the time the accuracy was verified, no one cared. "Yeah here's your state. A remote piece of tundra in northern Syberia." Instead we're going to have to wait for good ole Kofi to pull his head out of his ass to do anything, but not until after figuring out every detail of how we'll distribute socks and mittens to the children. And it won't even matter because, like always, 99.9% of the cost/manpower/resources/etc/etc/etc will be coming from the US anyways. Because the rest of the world can't lift a damned finger to help. (sure send in some 'peacekeepers' - i.e. "after all the REALLY dangerous people are dead or far away, we can stick these idiots with powder blue berets in plain sight in the middle of the day. Have them walk around in 2's, so it's even more tempting to ambush them. If nothing happens, we have peace, cuz if you had a single mean bone in your body, you'd at least lob a urine filled water balloon at em.") (credit is due to the Brits who will at least get in a fighter jet and fly around a little to cause a distraction-at least they're using their fuel... oh wait, they're probably refueling using our refueling planes and dropping our bombs which were loaded at the bases we secured through billions of dollars of trade negotiating with the host country... Still they DO something.) And everyone will criticize the US for not supplying blue mittens for the boys and pink for the girls (or maybe FOR assigning sex biases colors, or maybe for not an equal ratio of each), and for one of our billion dollar bombs killing three innocent freedom fighters (while forgetting that the pilot was on route to destroy a mobile scud pointed at the center of Jerusalem and would have killed 50 school children. So the pilot may have been a little focussed on getting to his primary objective). Yeah, it would suck to be an Iraqi in the middle of a war caused by a leader you didn't like. But it would probably suck to be standing in the middle of New York staring at a psycho as he pushes a button to obliterated the city and millions of people. It would probably suck to have been one of the couples that lept from the top of the WTC holding hands. If we were barbarians and sent hordes of 'troops' in to rape and pillage, that's one thing. But, we are actively avoiding civilians. Even when they're being used as shields by their own countrymen. THAT is the difference. A battle between military powers is a war. Slaughtering the innocent is an atrocity. And it is that intent to do so that makes the Iraq situation so deadly. Put the shoe on the other foot. If Saddam had an arsenal of nuclear weapons, would he even flinch at using them? (And don't kid yourself.) *Okay, better now*

Paragraphs, man, paragraphs (3.00 / 1) (#207)
by Quila on Thu Oct 03, 2002 at 07:26:40 AM EST

Some good points though.

[ Parent ]
still, I don´t understand this (1.00 / 1) (#205)
by Niha on Mon Sep 16, 2002 at 06:51:22 AM EST

Still, I don´t understand this subject of Irak, US, massive destruction weapons( what a name, by the way ) and other things related. What is all this about in fact? Is Sadam Hussein a real menace for the humankind? Much more menace than others? Why can´t Irak have weapons? (well, the question should be why should anybody have weapons? On my opinion, no country should have any kind of them )

Because (3.00 / 1) (#206)
by Quila on Thu Oct 03, 2002 at 07:24:21 AM EST

He's shown that once he has them he can't resist using them to invade his neighbors.

[ Parent ]
Iraq's nuclear capabilities (none / 0) (#221)
by mesozoic on Wed Nov 13, 2002 at 08:17:05 PM EST

It's true that without buying or stealing nuclear materials and components from some other nation, Iraq could probably not develop a nuclear weapon within a few years. However, if it did, it would be able to manufacture a nuclear device within months.

So, how much are you willing to gamble on the presumption that nobody in the world, no matter what the price, is willing to covertly sell Iraq some nuclear materials? It's already been shown that Iraq has solicited several nations for nuclear materials and scientific aid; there is a lot of suspicion among the intelligence community that Russian scientists have been selling nuclear research to Iraq for some time. (I study at a university where the State Department closed our study abroad program in Moscow for precisely this reason; our partner university had been assisting the Iraqi nuclear project.) It is obvious that, given enough time, Iraq will develop a nuclear weapon. We simply don't know how long it will take.

The question then becomes, how long can we let this continue? After eleven years, Iraq has yet to disarm any of its existing chemical or biological weapons, and it is actively pursuing nuclear capability. Whether it will develop nuclear arms in a few months or a few years, is that a chance we should be willing to make? Should a nation as aggressively defiant as Iraq be allowed to continue its current behavior? Should we, the world, be willing to allow a nation as aggressively defiant as Iraq to continue its current behavior, knowing that if it succeeds, another regional war will be unavoidable?

The answer is 'no'. The nations of the world have stood up to nations like Iraq in the past, and the UN must be willing to do so again. In today's political climate, complacency is simply no longer an option.

"Never let your sense of morals prevent you from doing what is right." -- Salvor Hardin, Isaac Asimov's Foundation

IISS releases report on Iraq's WMD arsenal | 220 comments (214 topical, 6 editorial, 0 hidden)
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