Friday, September 15, 2006

"What we have is a failure to communicate"

Graham Allison, former Dean of the Kennedy School at Harvard, writes about the discounted but real danger of a nuclear terrorist strike on America at the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists. One of our chief weaknesses he argues, is a "failure of imagination".

Prior to 9/11, most Americans found the idea that international terrorists could mount an attack on their homeland and kill thousands of innocent citizens not just unlikely, but inconceivable. Psychologically, Americans imagined that they lived in a security bubble. ... As we approach the fifth year without a second successful terrorist attack upon U.S. soil, a chorus of skeptics now suggests that 9/11 was a 100-year flood. They conveniently forget the deadly explosions in Bali, Madrid, London, and Mumbai, and dismiss scores of attacks planned against the United States and others that have been disrupted. ...

As one attempts to assess where we now stand, and what the risks are, the major conclusion of the bipartisan 9/11 Commission deserves repetition: The principal failure to act to prevent the September 11 attack was a "failure of imagination." A similar failure of imagination leads many today to discount the risk of a nuclear 9/11.


A few hours ago the Belmont Club related Vladimir Putin's warning to Nathan Sharansky in a quiet moment at the Kremlin a year before September 11 about just such a terrorist attack. Sharansky's full article is at the LA Times, but the opening paragraphs give the flavor of Putin's prediction of proxy warfare as the future of international conflict.

"Imagine a sunny and beautiful day in a suburb of Manhattan," he [Putin] said. "An elderly man is tending to the roses in his small garden with his nephew visiting from Europe. Life seems perfectly normal. The following day, the nephew, carrying a suitcase, takes a train to Manhattan. Inside the suitcase is a nuclear bomb."

The threat, Putin explained to me a year before 9/11, was not from this or that country but from their terrorist proxies — aided and supported quietly by a sovereign state that doesn't want to get its hands dirty — who will perpetrate their attacks without a return address. This scenario became real when Al Qaeda plotted its 9/11 attacks from within Afghanistan and received support from the Taliban government. Then it happened again this summer, when Iran was allowed to wage a proxy war through Hezbollah in southern Lebanon and northern Israel.

Like Graham Allison, I considered denial -- an outright refusal to believe the possibility of such a threat -- to be America's greatest vulnerability. And that vulnerability has grown in direct proportion to the myth that terrorism has nothing to do with state sponsors. It was a myth initially contrived for the specific political purpose of discrediting neoconservatives who urged action against Saddam Hussein to prevent him from getting and distributing weapons of mass destruction. But the myth proved so convenient that it was allowed to grow. In the first three years of Bush administration, two regimes in Afghanistan and Iraq were toppled; Libya gave up its nuclear weapons program and Pakistan's AQ Khan came under scrutiny. Today the myth -- admittedly distorted -- has grown so strong that Iran, Syria and North Korea are secure behind it. The result is that today, no quantity of intelligence reports reaching an American President's desk would likely move him to take action against a state preparing to arm terrorists with nuclear weapons. As I wrote in A Joke at the Kremlin:

One consequence of the politics of the last five years will be to ensure that such warnings will on no account be taken seriously. 'A sovereign state attacking America through proxies? Don't be ridiculous. Those are stories that neoconservatives tell. If there were secret links between terrorist enabling states and terrorists we would have found out.' Now whether such accusations were ever true in the past is immaterial. They won't be considered true in the future. Not because there is some physical or factual bar to its existence but because of a political prohibition of its utterance.

Where would terrorists get nuclear weapons? Graham Allison answers categorically: from States.

Terrorists could acquire a bomb one of two ways: by obtaining a ready-made weapon from the arsenal of one of the nuclear weapon states or by constructing an elementary nuclear bomb from highly enriched uranium made by a state. Theft of a warhead by insiders, or a combination of insiders and intruders, would not be easy. But attempted thefts in Russia and elsewhere are not uncommon.

As to how this can be stopped, Allison notes that it is not rocket science. It is all a matter of trying: it is a matter of national and international willpower.

Nonetheless, I believe that the largely unrecognized good news is that this ultimate catastrophe is, in fact, preventable. There exists a feasible, affordable checklist of actions that, if taken, would shrink the risk of nuclear terrorism to nearly zero. ...  organized under a "Doctrine of Three Nos":

  • No loose nukes requires securing all nuclear weapons and weapons-usable material, as quickly as possible. The United States and Russia have proven themselves adept at locking up valuable or dangerous items: Gold is not stolen from Fort Knox, nor treasures from the Kremlin Armory.
  • No new nascent nukes means no new domestic capabilities to enrich uranium or reprocess plutonium.
  • No new nuclear weapon states unambiguously declares the nuclear club will not expand beyond its current eight members.

But what has been done on these fronts to combat nuclear terrorism? Are we any safer from a nuclear terrorist attack than we were on 9/11?

After the Trade Center towers fell, President George W. Bush declared war on terrorism; toppled the Taliban, eliminating Al Qaeda's sanctuary in Afghanistan; and articulated a new doctrine in which the United States would "make no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who harbor them." The Bush administration made an important conceptual advance in recognizing that the gravest danger lies in what Vice President Dick Cheney termed the "nexus between terrorists and weapons of mass destruction." ... On the other hand, in combating what Bush has rightly identified as "the single most serious threat to the national security to the United States" and the only terrorist attack that could kill a million Americans in one blow, the Bush administration has demonstrated a puzzling absence of focus, energy, and urgency. Indeed, some of the administration's actions have, in fact, made U.S. citizens more vulnerable.

And a large part of that lack of focus would probably come under the heading of "wasting" American effort on Iraq. Yet does anyone doubt that if Iran or Pakistan had been invaded to enforce Allison's third "no" there would have been persistent calls to leave that "quagmire" within two election cycles? And can anyone doubt that an Iran or Pakistan once invaded, then left to revert to its former condition would provide a ground for nuclear terrorism far more lethal than before? Here is the key problem with Graham Allison's excellent plan and the sticker price of believing in Vladimir Putin's cautionary tale: where is there the will to go down the long road that may prevent nuclear terrorism from becoming a reality?

34 Comments:

Blogger The Mad Fiddler said...

Separating fissionable Uranium in bomb-size quantities requires the resources of a state.

Generating bomb-size quantities of Plutonium can only be done by a Cyclotron farm or a breeder reactor, both of which require the resources of a state.

Separating either fissionable material (Uranum or Plutonium) to a purity sufficient for bomb-appropriate chain reactions requires the resources of a state.

Fissionable Uranium and Plutonium both emit radiation powerful enough to degrade their casings, High Explosive charges, and electrical control circuits over a few years. They require regular monitoring and maintenance, which in turn requires a highly-trained, stable workforce and long-term storage in a protected facility. These could conceivably be accomplished by a well-funded non-state terrorist group.

Delivery and controlled detonation of a nuclear device can be achieved by well-trained technicians, independent of the control and support of a state, IF they acquire a device which they know how to operate from a source which has kept it in working order.

On the other hand, a dirty bomb doesn’t require anything but some high explosives and a quantity of nasty crud.

9/15/2006 03:59:00 PM  
Blogger sirius_sir said...

My reaction to 9/11 was to think, this is going to get a whole lot worse, and probably sooner rather than later. I remember, in fact, thinking it's already too late.

It still may be. And I simply don't understand the reasoning of anyone who believes 9/11 was a one-off, or that if we just ignore the problem or fail to engage it, then somehow it really doesn't exist.

I'm not sure the problem for us is so much a failure of imagination as it is wishful thinking that everything will--somehow--be all right despite all contrary indications. It wasn't the failure to imagine the horrors of war that caused so many English and French to give Hitler a pass after Versailles, but rather an all-too-human desire to simply ignore that which seems too dreadful to confront.

But some problems only get more intractable with time. And the really big ones seldom ever just go away on their own.

9/15/2006 04:10:00 PM  
Blogger dueler88 said...

sirius/wretchard:

We have "won" or "tied" in so many military conflicts over the past century that it is, as wretchard notes, simply inconceivable that we can "lose" a military conflict. History shows otherwise. Rome. Byzantium. The Spanish Armada. Great Britain. The Ottomans. The Hapsburgs. All of these Goliaths met their ends at the hands of many different Davids. There's no reason to think that the United States couldn't have the same fate.

Military capability comes from will - the will to self-defense, the will to commit resources to increase defensive capabilty and the will to use them when necessary. Some of us still have that will; others of us are so disillusioned with the less-than-perfect social paradigm of the West that *anything* that forces change upon that paradigm is a good thing. Can there be any clearer example of Baby and Bathwater?

Many intellectuals think that somehow the "evolution" of the human species has made large-scale life-or-death struggles impossible. Still others think that "an eye for an eye makes everyone blind." But human nature's quest for power hasn't really changed much. In our sheltered world of Constitutionally-established individual power, we forget that such individual power is a relatively new phenomenon in the scope of human history.

Individuals that refuse to retain their individual power will eventually have power forced upon them. And it's sure to be something they don't like. But by then it will be too late.

9/15/2006 04:45:00 PM  
Blogger sfrcook said...

exactly sirius, there is no lack of imagination, unfortunately, nor is there the will to prevent the unimaginable. Not yet anyway. I shudder to think what price will need to be paid for the deceit and the delusions of the multiculturalists, the relativists, the utopian pacifists, the appeasers, and the apologists to be thoroughly, and finally, discredited.

Three thousand dead Americans apparently was not. Perhaps 30,000 or 50,000 or 100,000 will be. But then again, maybe not.

9/15/2006 04:51:00 PM  
Blogger Woman Catholic said...

sirius_sir wrote:

It still may be. And I simply don't understand the reasoning of anyone who believes 9/11 was a one-off, or that if we just ignore the problem or fail to engage it, then somehow it really doesn't exist.

Ironically, the more successful Homeland Security is at making 9/11 a one-off, the more people think 9/11 was just a one-off and the less people think we need to beef up Homeland Security. By the second term of the next Democratic Administration, Homeland Security will be so gutted and compromised by rules that 9/11 won't be a one-off after all. Lather, rinse, repeat.

9/15/2006 05:12:00 PM  
Blogger dueler88 said...

Teresita:

Take the irony to the next step, then: in spite of all of the efforts to increase our capacity to defend ourselves, headed up by Bush (for better or worse), the next attack WILL be Bush's fault because he didn't do enough, or he didn't do enough in the "right" places.

So the desire to take the ineffective Clintonian "law enforcement" approach to combatting Islamic Fascism will become even stronger.

Make yourself weaker in order to become stronger. Zen philosophy not withstanding, I'm not sure I can take much more irony.

9/15/2006 05:34:00 PM  
Blogger Tony said...

One must see this trend on the logarithmic chart, as Ray Kurzweil insists so often in "The Singularity is Near." Viewed as individual events in normal timeline, we are confused. Viewed logarithmically as steps in destruction, 9/11 leaps up a quantum level.

Seeing the wanton, suicidal destruction of 9/11/01 - no one can imagine that these guys would have NOT have lit off suitcase nukes in Boston, New York, D.C., Philly, Frisco, etc. ... if they had them.

There is a world war going on, and our enemies have jumped up a level in proven destructiveness - ie., MAX MURDER.

This is still why I firmly believe we should have nuked Kandahar and any other known targets of our known enemies ... before the sun ever set on the WTC or Pentagon on 9/11/01.

It would have been the most enlightened and merciful reaction we could have taken in response to the suicidally murderous attackers. It would have set the terms of the ongoing World War at the proper level. Ie., suicidally attack us, add your name to the list: Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Kandahar, y-o-u.


We would be much closer to peace by now.

9/15/2006 06:02:00 PM  
Blogger sfrcook said...

Dueler88 wrote:
"So the desire to take the ineffective Clintonian "law enforcement" approach to combatting Islamic Fascism will become even stronger."

Or perhaps the response will be the complete discrediting of the "law enforcement" approach. With a resultant strengthening of security measures which make the Patriot Act look like childsplay. In such a scenario, those who object to our current policies, will have been complicite in and contributed to the facilitation of the tragedy that ultimately leads to intrusions on civil liberties which are real, rather than imagined.

9/15/2006 06:07:00 PM  
Blogger Will Rayford said...

Maybe Putin's lively imagination stems from his having sold Iran all the necessary parts for building the bomb. "Come Comrades, come look into my crystal ball."

9/15/2006 06:07:00 PM  
Blogger Woman Catholic said...

sfrcook said:

I shudder to think what price will need to be paid for the deceit and the delusions of the multiculturalists, the relativists, the utopian pacifists, the appeasers, and the apologists to be thoroughly, and finally, discredited.

The 59 million dead in World War II was not a high enough price to discredit the appeasers, because even now the only question is what year in the 1930's we are repeating.

9/15/2006 06:07:00 PM  
Blogger Mark White said...

Failure of imagination works both ways. The terrorists don't imagine what the US would do in response to a nuclear strike on New York, but they wouldn't be very happy with the results. Anyway, even if we communicated to them that they wouldn't like our response, they aren't likely to accept our commitment to making the response.

That's why it's so important for us to make this a short war, rather than a long war. We're not facing a powerful enemy like the Soviet Union, one that could keep us from taking its centers of gravity. Our enemies are the mullahs and the sheiks -- the Shia Persians from Teheran and the Sunni Arabs from Riyadh.

Neither enemy has any technological edge. They buy all their inputs with oil wealth. Take away their oil wealth, and they're no longer players on the world stage.

Their oil wealth is all on the edges of the Persian Gulf, easily within range of our Navy, Marines and Airborne troops. If we take the oil regions, liberating the Shia Arab populations who constitute the majorities in Iran's Khuzestan province and Saudi Arabia's Hasa province, then Teheran and Riyadh can no longer afford to fund nuclear weapons development. They will no longer have money to fund terrorist cells and networks and madrassas and training camps. We will have the oil money.

We can use that oil money to fund roads and hospitals and universities and schools. That will not be popular with the mullahs and sheiks, but then, the mullahs and sheiks will be unable to fund any response. The moderates and technicians will be in charge of the money, and they'll spend it on building a civil society.

That's the way to be sure no one is finding a way to get a nuke to a terrorist cell that will deliver it to New York. Sure, it's hard to imagine a Mideast with the oil field run by a Western coalition instead of Islamic radicals. But if we fail to imagine a way to defund the people who are building the nukes in Iran and Pakistan (where the Saudis build their nukes), then it won't matter much whether we imagine them delivering the nukes to New York or not. They only will have to succeed once. We have to be perfect every time. Unless we imagine a way to shake up the game. Turning the long war into a short war will definitely shake up the game.

9/15/2006 06:11:00 PM  
Blogger Mark White said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

9/15/2006 06:12:00 PM  
Blogger Will Rayford said...

tony,
I agree with you. An ounce of prevention....or, well, maybe a couple of megatons of prevention.

9/15/2006 06:14:00 PM  
Blogger Woman Catholic said...

tony said:

This is still why I firmly believe we should have nuked Kandahar and any other known targets of our known enemies ... before the sun ever set on the WTC or Pentagon on 9/11/01.

Well, we did get revenge for 9/11 by changing the regime in Afghanistan and turning it into a thriving democracy. Most of the EUtopian nations (or wannabes) supported us in that (even Canuckistan is there in force, for Pete's sake!). The 2003 invasion of Iraq was a body blow to the Jihad. Here's our mistake: We want to keep the three ethnicities in Iraq under one flag, precisely the opposite of our position on Yugoslavia.

9/15/2006 06:32:00 PM  
Blogger Ilia Capitolina said...

September 11th was one step in a long series of incremental steps, the sum of which is a slow simmer. The attacks will continue and will gradually intensify. That’s been the pattern. That will continue to be the pattern.

9/15/2006 06:32:00 PM  
Blogger Cedarford said...

Comments closed on the Oriana Fallaci thread, 4 hours after news of her death, so a brief tribute:
She was justly famous for her interviews and being able to get to and persuade the world's most interesting people or most influential at any given moment (for global or regional sway)to sit down and then she somehow pulled away the curtains.

It was a notable talent. She was solidly on the Left, most "ill-inclined" towards dictatorships of the Far Right, fascist variety. I believe her similarly memorable "last shot" when she was already terminal with lung cancer, against Islam was another shot against another form of right wing fascism.

Unlike the rest of the Left which seems to be going way out on a "tactical" limb in allying with Islam as a useful "destroying, agent of change" against the West they hate above all other things - Fallaci always loved the best of the Western Civ and realized that radical Islam is no more controllable than Italian fascism or the bleak totalitarian urges of communist dictators.

She was always more interested, as an interviewer, as a war correspondent - in the Word, rather than the Image. A good looking woman, she never sought to exploit her looks as a "it's all about me" crusading TV journalist.

News of her death probably brings together the survivors of those who were in power in the 50s-80s, who make a grim silent toast of respect to her while wishing they never met her. Kissinger, Mitterand, Thatcher, Sharon if his coma permits some magical awareness...even Castro, who she was far too kind on..

And in the netherworld she joins, Khoumeni, Arafat, Ali Bhutto, Agnelli, Indira Ghandhi, Breznev, Trudeau, the long-dead Greek dictators, Generalissimo Franco, Ho Chi Minh, and Harold McMillan are all busy bracing the clubhouse door to keep her from getting in.

9/15/2006 06:35:00 PM  
Blogger RWE said...

The U.S. has become divided into the "doers" and the "talkers". The “Talkers” see their duty as telling the "Doers" what to do. The Talkers have even convinced themselves they are smarter and morally superior to the Doers and therefore more important. After all, unlike Doing, there is no such thing as morally inferior talk – except for claiming there is such a thing as morally inferior talk.

The basic idea behind the Talkers was explained on a Central California Coast PBS radio station one morning in the 80’s. “We just have to sit down around our kitchen tables and talk and we can end the threat of nuclear weapons” was how the Peace Activist put it. That was all it would take, sitting around our kitchen tables and talking, and then perhaps marching around the Vandenberg AFB main gate with some signs, and that would do it.

9/11/01 came as a rude shock to the Talkers. They were presented with graphic circumstances that showed that talking was not enough – in fact, if they thought about it they would realize that in some cases just Talking and not Doing was itself morally inferior. In fact, the entire process by which the airline pilots meekly turned their airplanes over to Islamic Facists was based on the superiority of Talking over Doing. Gradually they became convinced once more that Talking was enough - and if it was not it was because it was not the right kind of Talk. Diplomacy – formalized Talking - was the answer to everything. Furthermore, any problem that could not be handled by Talking could be ignored.

The Talkers at Harvard first got rid of the ROTC Doers on campus and then most recently invited the former President of Iran to come Talk. That should solve that problem.

A failure to communicate, indeed….

9/15/2006 06:49:00 PM  
Blogger Pierre Legrand said...

The article by Graham Allison I hope is the beginnings of a seriousness regarding the threat we face. I thought this is a terrific article right up until I get to the part where Iraq is considered a waste of time.
Proxy Terrorism From Iran a warning from Sharansky and Putin
My gosh saying that totally blew the authors credibility with me. It is simply unbelievable that anyone serious about stopping State Sponsored terrorism could be so blind. And yet BDS is alive an well.

9/15/2006 06:53:00 PM  
Blogger Reocon said...

Pierre Legrand said...
"The article by Graham Allison I hope is the beginnings of a seriousness regarding the threat we face. I thought this is a terrific article right up until I get to the part where Iraq is considered a waste of time."

A waste of time? Oh no Mssr. Legrand, it is far far more grave than that. Dr. Allison's analysis if far more condemnatory and it is a bit tendentious of Wretchard to give it such short shrift:

"Having called for war against Iraq on false premises , the Bush administration has paradoxically increased the WMD threat . According to the CIA, while the good news is that Osama bin Laden and the Al Qaeda command can no longer operate headquarters and training camps in Afghanistan, the bad news is that Iraq now provides "recruitment, training grounds, technical skills, and language proficiency for a new class of terrorists who are 'professionalized' and for whom political violence becomes an end in itself." [22] As jihadi networks strengthen in Iraq, on one hand, and Iran and North Korea accelerate their fissile material production, on the other, the likelihood of a deadly nexus between a terrorist buyer and nuclear seller increases. Reversing these trends will require a new strategic approach to the threat of nuclear terrorism." (emphasis added)

"FALSE PREMISES". "INCREASED THE THREAT". The War on Iraq failed to uncover WMD; it failed to uncover substantive operational links between AQ and Iraq (according to the President, Senate Intel Comt. and CIA); its resulting misadventures in democracy handed power over to Shiite Islamists allied with Iraq; it diverted resources from finishing off AQ in Afghanistan which is now sliding into anarchy; AND according to Allison it "increases" the liklihood of terrorist acquiring nuclear material. It is past time for an accounting. At some point in the near future even psuedo-conservtives like Victor Davis Hanson are going to be unable to defend this calamity and then the backdating for when it all went horribly wrong will be sad to witness.

The GOP should have had congressional investigations to get to the bottom of this utter disaster, this neocon treachery, at least two years ago. Now the damn Democrats are going to do it if (likely) they win in November. It's enough to make a real conservative leave his party if it hadn't already abandoned him.

9/15/2006 07:39:00 PM  
Blogger Reocon said...

Pardon, that should read "Shiite Islamist allied with IRAN."

9/15/2006 07:44:00 PM  
Blogger Ilia Capitolina said...

reocon,

The next attack will be by way of a bio or chemical weapon. If that doesn’t resurrect Vlad Tepes, the next step will be a smallish dirty bomb. And so on. That's been the pattern. That will continue to be the pattern.

Iraq will end up a failed experiment, for many different reasons. But it has laid bare the Jihadist face of the enemy. Just as democracy has laid bare the face of the Jihadist enemy in Palistan and in Israel.

You say that the "Bush administration has paradoxically increased the WMD threat." That is true. But the increased WMD threat is that which is facing the Jihadist enemy. There’s will be no hiding behind "plausible denial" next time around.

9/15/2006 08:03:00 PM  
Blogger Barry Dauphin said...

When Bush speaks about a threat to Western Civilization, the reporters covering the White House beat smirk and can barely restrain the laughter. They see it as simply fear mongering for votes. Should a nuclear weapon be detonated in the US by terrorists, the same reporters will be speaking about a failure of imagination in the White that didn't take the obvious steps to prevent this sort of thing.

9/15/2006 08:15:00 PM  
Blogger trangbang68 said...

I don't think the problem is a failure of imagination,but a surplus of imagination.Leave out the average jokers who are content to swill a deep draft of pop culture and sports,etc.People who think about the world we live in either see in spades that we're up against a vicious cult who want to destroy us ;or they see humanity as possibly unenlightened ,but ultimately containing a spark of divinity.
Every now and then a voice shouts out the truth and there's hell to pay.Whether its Fallaci,the Pope or even increasingly Bush;calling Islam what it is rings out like a voice crying in the wilderness.I've not had a moment of doubt since 9/11 that they would annihilate all of us if they could.

9/15/2006 09:30:00 PM  
Blogger 49erDweet said...

Those who think of 9/11 in NY, or 7/11 in London, as "one-offs" - besides flunking logic 101 classes, also fail miserably in math. Weren't each of those events at least "four-offs"?

9/15/2006 10:00:00 PM  
Blogger Cedarford said...

mad fiddler - A dirty bomb is piddling stuff compared to a real WMD, as long as we can finally get the Bushies to stop ignoring the decision on if we do a civil defense style cleanup to rapidly recover a city where a dirty bomb goes off or still stay with a "zero-tolerance" EPA standard that could make a city unihabitable for up to a year and cost 80-100 billion in economic losses. [Basically the difference between washdown to sewers and dilution to safe levels costing under a few tens of millions in costs, and thousands of people packing up minute specks of radiactive contamination over a year's time]. Inquiries on a decision have been blown off by the Bushies, saying "still studying the matter"...I guess studying it like they were studying Al Qaeda in the or how to protect NOLA from a hurricane in the 90s...

Sirius_Sir - 9/11 was a pretty low-scale attack compared to others in past wars. Just saying, "It changed everything!!" Doesn't make it so. We confront an ideology, not a tactic. All the Nazi and appeasement talk is dated, cliche'd, not applicable to the present situation. There is a danger of future attacks, but the emphasis on the 9/11 victims families by both the republicans and dems as suffering from a unique, never to be repeated attack belies the real danger of more attacks. That and being told the threat is low enough that we should just shop and enjoy the tax cuts for the wealthy if we are wealthy belies the danger. The Bushies have done everything they can to tell us we are in no danger of an attack, a Draft, being called on as a people to make any sacrifice other than in airports, as long as the "Heroes" protect us from one side of their mouths - while telling us of "gathering danger!" "Appeasement!" from the other side of their mouths...

" Will Rayford said...
Maybe Putin's lively imagination stems from his having sold Iran all the necessary parts for building the bomb."

Not true. Iran gets it's arms from Ukraine and our favorite trading partner, China, that is deindustrializing America. Russia has given NONE of the "all necessary parts" you claim are needed for a nuke. Russia is building 2 civilian nuke plants - something that America's companies have helped some 40 other nations acquire. Like with those 40 countries with American nuke technology, it lies with Iran and it's agreement to honor the NPT for it to run it's fuel long enough that the plutonium created is isotopically made unsuitable for bomb use.

Teresita - "Well, we did get revenge for 9/11 by changing the regime in Afghanistan and turning it into a thriving democracy."

I must have missed the "thriving democracy" part in my readings.

Should I look for it in the same place as the "now underway thriving democracy of noble, purple-fingered, freedom-loving Iraqis"?

9/15/2006 10:32:00 PM  
Blogger Pierre Legrand said...

The idea that Iraq increased the chances of a WMD attack is ridiculous. The chances of a WMD attack with all the Muslim nations of the Middle East developing WMD's as they were doing prior to our invasion of Iraq were extremely high. Now at least two states won't be able to give WMD's to terrorists, Iraq and Libya.

Furthermore anyone who still believes that Iraq was not in a collaborative relationship with Al Qaeda specifically and terrorists in general needs to go to work with the CIA. I hear they are hiring more people to parrot their ridiculous theories of Stateless terrorism.

The evidence was absolutely conclusive that Saddam was indeed using proxies to attack the US. The evidence is absolutely conclusive that Saddam was still developing WMD's and putting the CIA in charge of finding such weapons is one of the gravest failures of the Bush administration. The CIA couldn't find their ass if you gave them a head-start and hints. But the gravest failure of the Bush administration was taking so long to invade Iraq that Saddam was able to hide and move the weapons and programs. And yes if I were the Bush administration I would rather admit that there were no weapons rather than there were weapons but we were too darn incompetent to stop him from moving them.

Please avoid quoting anything the DIA or CIA has to say about anything. Like Senator Daniel Moynihan I believe that the CIA at least and at this point the DIA should be disbanded. In fact if I were the King of the USA on 9/15/2001 I would have arrested the top levels of the Bureaucracy in the CIA, FBI, DIA and Justice and charged them with negligent homicide. After the trillions we gave those incompetent fools they allowed a bunch of Arabs from a culture unable to build even a rifle to destroy 2 of our tallest buildings in NYC and successfully attack the Center of our Military Headquarters. No I am not amused with our "intelligence" agencies.

After the gravest attack on the United States NOT A SINGLE PERSON WAS FIRED...that is simply incomprehensible. If you were a Navy Captain and lost a battle because of incompetence you would at least lose your command. NOT A SINGLE PERSON was fired...TENET was given a gaddarn medal. No not amused. Sorry for the rant but my head is going to explode from the sheer bloody incompetence of our government.

9/15/2006 10:40:00 PM  
Blogger sirius_sir said...

Cedarford, if you don't understand an argument, you would do well not to enter into it. On the other hand, it's good of you to show that the failure to communicate isn't necessarily the responsibility of the one trying to impart information.

9/16/2006 07:58:00 AM  
Blogger Reocon said...

Pierre Legrand said...

"Furthermore anyone who still believes that Iraq was not in a collaborative relationship with Al Qaeda specifically and terrorists in general needs to go to work with the CIA. I hear they are hiring more people to parrot their ridiculous theories of Stateless terrorism."

Could you please cite some evidence of the AQ - Saddam Hussein collaborative relationship? I've heard POTUS deny there was such a link three times now, and his intel reach is greater than just the CIA. It would really be in his best interests to establish such a link, yes?

"TENET was given a gaddarn medal."

I share your outrage on this, a grave political misstep that look terrible already. History will not be kind.

"The evidence is absolutely conclusive that Saddam was still developing WMD's and putting the CIA in charge of finding such weapons is one of the gravest failures of the Bush administration. . . But the gravest failure of the Bush administration was taking so long to invade Iraq that Saddam was able to hide and move the weapons and programs."

This is a startling new development in political science and Defensive Strategy, particularly in the subfield of Deterrence Theory, which analyzes the means through which nuclear weapons protect territorial integrity. Under this new theory, the Legrand version, WMD are acquired not to protect against an invasion, but to be spirited away to a third country to embarass the invader! Don't wait, Mssr. Legrand, the security analyis industry can not afford to miss such talent.

9/16/2006 08:10:00 AM  
Blogger Ari Tai said...

re: After the gravest attack on the United States NOT A SINGLE PERSON WAS FIRED.

No, (Dr.) John Poindexter was fired for attempting to develop our own asymmetric advantage. He was such a naïf that he though by just explaining how we could better protect ourselves while preserving privacy with rules and oversight (since machines can't invade privacy, only people can) to the NYT that they'd become an instant supporter. Of course this is what got him in trouble before (doing what was right v. what was legal).

Call it an early indicator of the NYT being not the enemy, just on the other side. There's a Greek tragedy in here somewhere. Odds are good and rising that the programs they have shut down would have protected them and NYC someday in the future from a horrific event. As Mr. Moore would say "why did UBL attack NYC?! They didn't vote for (Mr.) Bush!"

Couldn't happen to a more deserving bunch - not that I'd wish an early death on anyone. In the Tragedies this is what they bring down upon themselves, wittingly - they know better yet condemn themselves. Who'da thunk that seeking the approval of the NYT would have led the liberal half of SCOTUS to interpret the Constitution as a suicide pact?

Character does matter, Mr. Clinton and others.

9/16/2006 08:42:00 AM  
Blogger Ilia Capitolina said...

Why does the NYT even enter our lexicon?

9/16/2006 08:55:00 AM  
Blogger Abu Nudnik said...

Yes, the Bush Doctrine that "the United States would 'make no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who harbor them'" is the key.

The signing of UNSC Resolution 1701 was a serious backward step and it must be reversed. I don't care how hard it is for Lebanon to secure her sovereignty by disarming Hiz'b'allah or how hard it is for the Afghanis to do the same viz. the Taliban but they must do so or be destroyed.

The United States needs to take an infinitely more serious approach. It must use every form of deterrence in its arsenal. The "superior American military power" is a myth if it is known that America will not use it!

9/16/2006 12:37:00 PM  
Blogger Pierre Legrand said...

Could you please cite some evidence of the AQ - Saddam Hussein collaborative relationship? I've heard POTUS deny there was such a link three times now, and his intel reach is greater than just the CIA. It would really be in his best interests to establish such a link, yes?

Sure lets start with his threats to Ambassador Glaspie prior to the Gulf War that: If you use pressure, we will deploy pressure and force. We know that you can harm us although we do not threaten you. But we too can harm you. Everyone can cause harm according to their ability and their size. We cannot come all the way to you in the United States, but individual Arabs may reach you. Now I am fairly certain that he didn't mean individual Arab lawyers or journalists coming to the US to vex us. But you may consider those possibilities if it fits your world view of events.

Then that little matter of the attempted Assasination of Former President Bush using Islamic Radicals. Naturally I can see you leaning towards your keyboard to tell me they weren't Al Qaeda. But patience padawan.

Then we have the Neo Con Reporter for Newsweek Christopher Dickey detailing the famed Secularist Saddam hosting all sorts of Islamic radicals who had the audacity to declare Saddam the Great Mujahideen. So Islamic radicals from all over the Middle East, Africa and Asia converged on Baghdad to show their solidarity with Iraq in the face of American aggression. Chechens in Persian-lamb hats, Moroccans in caftans, delegates who hailed “from Jakarta to Dakar,” as one Senegalese put it, poured into Baghdad’s Rashid Hotel, where Saddam’s minions urged them to embrace jihad as “the one gate to Paradise.” And the greatest holy warrior of all? “The mujahed Saddam Hussein, who is leading this nation against the nonbelievers,” they were told. “Everyone has a task to do, which is to go against the American state,” declared Saddam’s deputy Ezzat Ibrahim. The Americans had colonized Lebanon; they had colonized Saudi Arabia. But the line against them would be drawn in Iraq. Believers would triumph, said Ibrahim: “Our stand now can lead us to final victory, to Paradise.”

That was in January 1993. I was there, and every time I hear diplomats and politicians, whether in Washington or the capitals of Europe, declare that Saddam Hussein is a “secular Baathist ideologue” who has nothing to do with Islamists or with terrorist calls to jihad, I think of that afternoon and I wonder what they’re talking about. If that was not a fledgling Qaeda itself at the Rashid convention, it sure was Saddam’s version of it.

Which goes to the heart of the matter of the claim by the incompetent CIA that Saddam was a secularist who wouldn't have anything to do with Islamic Radicals.

Then we have Abdul Rahman Yasin who mixed the Chemicals for the WTC 93 attack. He was questioned by the FBI then let go. He fled to Iraq where he was wined and dined by Saddam. Oh he was born in the United States but held an Iraqi passport as did Ramsey Yousef. Now either you believe that Abdul Rahman Yasin was Al Qaeda and Saddam gave him santuary or that he was Saddams man either case condemns Saddam.

Then we have Al Shifa plant that was co-owned by Saddam, Sudan and Al Qaeda. If you try to say that Saddam did not know about Al Qaeda you still have to explain what famed secularist Saddam was doing working with the Radical Islamic Regime of Sudan? Here is famed Neo Con Michael Scheuer talking about those links, before he started saying they didn't exist.

In Sudan, bin Laden decided to aquire and , when possible, use chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN) weapons against Islam’s enemies. Bin Laden’s first moves in this direction were made in cooperation with NIF Leaders, Iraq’s intelligence service, and Iraqi CBRN scientists and technicians. He made contact with Baghdad through its intelligence officers in Sudan, and by a Turabi-brokered June 1994 visit by Iraq’s then-intelligence chief Faruq al-Hijazi; according to Milan’s Corriere della Sera, Saddam, in 1994, made Hijazi responsible for “nurturing Iraq’s ties to [Islamic] fundamentalist warriors.” Turabi had plans to formulate a “common strategy” with bin Laden and Iraq for subverting pro-U.S. Arab regimes, but the meeting was a get-aquainted session where Hijazi and bin Laden developed good rapport that would “flourish” in the late 1990s

Let us not ignore the attempt to blow up Radio Free Europe by using Islamic Radicals to drive a bomb into the building. We found out about that plot from the first Iraqi envoy who was given 150,000 dollars by Saddam to carry out this plot. He defected to England and spilled the beans. Saddam sent over Ahmed Khalil Ibrahim Samir al-Ani or al-Ani for short. He was Saddam's go to boy for terror operations. He immediately drew the interest of the Czech foreign service who ended up expelling him for his behavior.

But not before he was seen talking to Atta. Who seemed to have a fondness for Praque as he visited it frequently. He was known as the Hamburg student. Ironically when the Czech foreign service got control of the Iraq's Embassy they found al-Ani's appt book which did indeed list a meeting with the Hamburg student.

Hamburg student Atta was one of the leaders of Al Qaeda's terrorist operations.

Now why would President Bush downplay or deny links between Al Qaeda and Saddam? Good question and when I get a chance to I will ask him. But Vice President Cheney does not deny them.

As far as Saddam hiding his weapons why not? He certainly was never going to use them against us overtly. That would have been a disaster and he knows it. The entire point of WMD's to Saddam was to use proxies to deliver them. Unless of course Iran decided to attack not very likely.

9/16/2006 04:20:00 PM  
Blogger The Mad Fiddler said...

Thank you, Pierre Legrand.

Excellent work.

9/16/2006 06:48:00 PM  
Blogger Joseph said...

Stop enriching uranium?

Won't that just send more money to the backers of terrorism?

9/16/2006 09:16:00 PM  

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