Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Changing Our Minds About Iran

How much proof do you need before deciding a lifelong enemy is no longer out to get you? At what point can we decide that Iran really has turned a new leaf and has stopped developing nuclear weapons. Analytic tools used to tell fake missile attack warnings apart from the real thing during the Cold War can help, and I describe how at Pajamas Media.

Nothing follows.

35 Comments:

Blogger havapilot said...

Nice post! I would take some exception to your question, "If not even the Soviets knew what was going to happen, how could the CIA?" There are many situations where an outside perspective provides a view that encompasses "the big picture" and a more realistic truth. I'm reminded of how my spouse, after meeting a friend's new fiancee for the first time, told me later that she was "all wrong" for our friend. My spouse was right (on that and many other similar circumstances), even though our friend was certain he'd met his soul mate.
Perhaps countries can be guilty of not being able to look objectively at themselves...just like people.

12/12/2007 05:06:00 AM  
Blogger RWE said...

Baysian analysis depends on the establishment of a "Prior" - data showing what happened previously. Once a Prior is established, the appropriate formulae can be applied to estimate the probability.

Of course, establishing a Prior can be a very tall order. And once you have it there will always be those who will argue that the entire Prior does not apply in the circumstance of interest. Such arguments vary from highly technical analyses at the nuts and bolts level to no more than "Well, that stuff does not apply to us! Those other people were idiots"

And indeed, a certain amount of the data should not apply. Or not apply as much. Reasons can be the fact that part of it is older data to actually different situations. But as you point out, making a huge change in the prediction is hard to do.

The largest part of my job is the establishment of Prior data for Baysian analysis. Gathering and organizing the data is a challenge. Arguing that the results are applicable is often a near impossibility. Even in the hardest of the hard sciences, people tend to believe what they wish to.

12/12/2007 05:45:00 AM  
Blogger Teresita said...

At what point can we decide that Iran really has turned a new leaf and has stopped developing nuclear weapons.

There is no proof that Iran ever developed nuclear weapons in the first place, let alone stopped.

12/12/2007 06:18:00 AM  
Blogger Leigh A said...

Wonderful post!

I am not a mathematician but am interested in how you postulate a 99.9 percent certainty rate declining to 99.7, given a 25% margin of error.

12/12/2007 06:31:00 AM  
Blogger Peter said...


Bruce Bueno de Mesquita
has a sterling track record of political predictions using game theory.

What people do may be fairly predictable even if the consequences may not be.

12/12/2007 07:05:00 AM  
Blogger Kinuachdrach said...

Teresita wrote:
"There is no proof that Iran ever developed nuclear weapons in the first place, let alone stopped."

But the recent NIE says that Iran had a nuclear weapons program before 2003. And the NIE says that Iran stopped in 2003. If Ms. T is right and we cannot believe the bureaucrats about Iran pre-2003, then logically we can not believe them about Iran post-2003.

That means we just don't know anything about Iran for sure -- which, come to think of it, sounds right.

12/12/2007 07:32:00 AM  
Blogger eggplant said...

Wretchard's comment about the failure to predict the collapse of the Soviet Union reminds me of my own failure to predict the collapse. Years ago I had a job in West Germany about 20 km from the East German border, i.e. the Iron Curtain. I often traveled in the old Soviet block to places like Prague, Cracow and Budapest (magnificient cities!). During my travels, I saw an entire culture rendered rotten by socialist totalitarianism. In Prague and Budapest, I'd chat with the locals about their perceived future and the impression I always had was the Soviet Union would survive for at least a century. The reoccuring opinion was the basic mechanisms for change had been destroyed by socialism/communism (this stuff was really evil). The people there were just existing and no longer able to change their environment. Effectively the social apparatus that could bring about change had been crushed by the state.

My error concerning the Soviet block was in assuming that change always came from the "bottom up". What I failed to see was the possibility of "top down" failure. Gorbachev did the inexcusable by admitting the Soviet system needed fixing and attempting repair. He then found himself in the situation that I've found myself in when trying to repair a very old car in disrepair, i.e. I tried to fix one simple thing but broke two others then tried to fix the two other things but broke four more things then tried to fix those until the whole car was a wreck.

The Soviet Empire had the superficial illusion of strength but it was a deception. The old cliche was correct: The Soviet Union was like the knight in bright shining armor, mounted on a magnificent horse but the man inside the armor was rotting away due to terminal syphilis.

I worries me that there could be other "obvious" things like the eminent collapse of the Soviet Union that I'm simply unable to see.

12/12/2007 10:01:00 AM  
Blogger eggplant said...

Peter said:

"Bruce Bueno de Mesquita has a sterling track record of political predictions using game theory."

I don't believe significant future political events can be predicted with a mathematical model. One can not predict the future of a simple compound pendulum because it is mathematicaly chaotic. Complex processes like world economic and political systems pass through myriads of branch points. Tiny perturbations at the different branch points can determine radically different future histories, e.g. Princip's pistol could have jammed when he assassinated Archduke Franz Ferdinand.

One can not predict this sort of stuff. The best one can do is predict general trends, e.g. where the peaks of probability distributions are likely to go. Even that's dodgy, e.g. those probability distributions could go away entirely if an Iranian nuke goes off in New York city.

12/12/2007 10:22:00 AM  
Blogger Zenster said...

How much proof do you need before deciding a lifelong enemy is no longer out to get you?

Considering how there is positive proof of Iran sponsoring attacks that have killed hundreds of Americans, reversing any suspicion of their continuing enmity would require overwhelming evidence to justify such a reduction of estimated threat. Simple logic dictates this, especially when combined with the sure knowledge that Iran is willing to breach even the most basic diplomatic tenets, as in their 1979 violation of International Soil.

At what point can we decide that Iran really has turned a new leaf and has stopped developing nuclear weapons.

Such a decision can only be driven by the very highest levels of physical transparancy, none of which have been given anything but lip service by Iran. The coefficients in this equation assume almost statistical polarity due to the catastrophic penalties for drawing incorrect conclusions.

But after the real September 11 occurred there was considerable doubt over whether radical Islamists, with their belief in a paradise (or in the case of Iran the return of the 12th Imam) following an apocalypse, could be deterred like the Soviets. Religious fanatics might actually welcome an apocalypse and bring it on at the first opportunity.

This single fact must abrogate all hope for achieving any viable deterrent in dealing with Iran. Imputing rationality to individuals who clearly demonstrate irrational behavior is a serious contravention of logic.

For all of Iran's tremendous oil revenues, where else could so much of this money have gone were it not siphoned off into nuclear arms R&D? Even the corrupt mullahs cannot draw down Iran's treasury in such a fashion. Only obsessive pursuit of atomic weapons provides an adequate explanation for why Iran's leadership has allowed gasoline and food shortages to cause near collapse of their economy. This is confirmed by how reliant Iran's strategic goals are upon deployment of nuclear weapons. Annihilating Israel and imposing Tehran's political will in the MME (Muslim Middle East) requires atomic bombs and nothing less. All of this is further corroborated by how Iran's conventional military forces are wholly inadequate to such a task. They have literally been starved in favor of acquiring Weapons of Mass Destruction that obviate any need for troop or materiel buildups.

Yet the task of predicting when an enemy might get WMDs has proven very difficult to achieve. The evidence is rarely clear-cut. In a situation of ambiguity, what should a rational President do? Bruce Blair says: keep measuring. Not just once, but repeatedly and often.

Along with those repeated measurements must also come a rigid adherence to worst case logic. America is tasked with assessing an enemy that totally disallows any concrete verification of its intentions—stated or otherwise—and has a proven track record of sponsoring or directly engaging in asymmetrical warfare causing hundreds of military and civilian deaths. Disregarding these highly polarized factors is to bet the farm on nebulous and unsubstantiated or uncorroborated input that is just as easily contaminated by a partisan agenda with the direct intention of misguiding America's strategic pursuits.

That such intentions are paramount to outright treason speak quite ill for their credibility and must obligatorily give rise to the most serious possible doubts regarding any ostensible claims of veracity.

Again, America's national security is utterly reliant upon this NIE and there is simply no outside corroborating evidence to provide even minimal assurance of its validity. To make even moderate reductions of Iran's threat assessment based on this thoroughly tainted and ill-supported document is a recipe for disaster.

12/12/2007 11:15:00 AM  
Blogger Teresita said...

America's national security is utterly reliant upon this NIE and there is simply no outside corroborating evidence to provide even minimal assurance of its validity.

Our national security is threatened only if Iran has ICBMs as well as nukes. We don't exactly have a thriving container ship trade with Iran. Last I checked, Israel wasn't a US territory. Iran can't even use oil as a weapon, if they embargo the US, Saudi Arabia will be happy to make up the shortfall.

12/12/2007 11:37:00 AM  
Blogger Wretchard said...

The original a prior was that Iran did not have nuclear weapons. Go back far enough in time and that was certain to be true. Over the course of several years we have adjusted our belief to hypothesize that they were developing a nuclear weapons program.

The new NIE doesn't assert that Iran never had a nuclear weapons program, but that it stopped this program around 2003. Now just as several measurements were required to alter our belief that Iran had no nuclear weapons program at all the argument is that several measurments are now required to conclude that it has stopped. That seems a quite unexceptionable and sober attitude to take.

Teresita argues that there was no proof Iran ever had a nuclear weapons program. If that's the case then the current NIE is flawed prima facie because it asserts that the nuclear weapons program -- which Teresita argues never existed -- was stopped. You can't use a statement asserting that something was stopped as proof that the activity stopped never existed at all.

Iran has been at least partially responsible for how they have been viewed. They've repeatedly and publicly threatened to nuke Israel explicitly. This would be the equivalent of threatening to shoot someone in public; and even though the gun isn't visible in the waistband, any prudent person would keep looking for evidence of carry until you were relatively sure the guy was unarmed.

12/12/2007 12:06:00 PM  
Blogger Zenster said...

teresita: Our national security is threatened only if Iran has ICBMs as well as nukes. We don't exactly have a thriving container ship trade with Iran.

Your profound ignorance is showing.

Iran has many proxies by which a nuclear device could be smuggled into America. In case you haven't noticed, our southern border is almost sponge-like in its porosity. Iranian or proxy agents could bribe Mexican port authorities with breathtaking ease. Coyotes would do the rest for a similar sum.

Last I checked, Israel wasn't a US territory.

Your willingness to abandon one of the most productive and democratic nations in the MME (Muslim Middle East) also indicates a pervasive hatred for liberty and freedom. Try not to forget that there are mosques in Israel. There are no synagogues in Saudi Arabia or the vast majority of MME countries. What does that say about them? What does that say about Israel?

Have you ever bothered to compare the number of Nobel Prizes won by Jews as compared to those awarded to Muslims? Remember that Muslims represent some 20% of this world's population, while the Jews are a mere 0.2%. That's a ratio of 100:1. Were it not for how totally stagnant and Neanderthal most MME cultures are, it would seem incredible that the ratio of Nobel Prizes awarded is some 25:1. If one properly discards Yasser Arafat's farce of a Peace Prize the ratio climbs to an astonishing 33:1. I'll let you guess who is on the winning side of that equation. Yet you, teresita, evidently have no compunctions about abandoning the MME's sole outpost of democracy and religious freedom.

Finally, this priceless little gem of yours:

Iran can't even use oil as a weapon, if they embargo the US, Saudi Arabia will be happy to make up the shortfall.

Wise up, America doesn't even import any Iranian oil and has not done so for almost three DECADES. Iran's threat lies in its supposed ability to choke off the Straits of Hormuz. This is just one more reason why Iran needs to be neutralized post haste.

Tehran's mullahs seek to blackmail the world into acquiescing over their pursuit of nuclear weapons. Only an idiot cannot foresee what new blackmail and extortion will happen once these madmen obtain Weapons of Mass Destruction.

If none of that bothers you, then your IQ and shoe size are probably a good match.

12/12/2007 12:29:00 PM  
Blogger Kevin said...

It was a very good article and explained a seemingly simple but very important point. Intelligence collecting is constantly evolving. Why? Because events, and our knowledge of them are forever changing. The process of collecting and analysing intelligence works best when it is conducted in the spirit of the scientific method or John Boyd’s OODA-loops. Intelligence collection and analysis fails catastrophically when it is corrupted by dogmatic political concepts that by their very nature cannot be wrong. So instead of studying the real world, intelligence agencies are tasked with validating the imaginary world created by their political masters. We saw this in the Iraq War run-up where Saddam’s possession of WMD’s was an article of faith; the truth of which was beyond rational discussion. The ambitious young intelligence analyst was not rewarded for accuracy; only for political zeal. A fundamental rule of epistemology is that you cannot “know” something is true unless you allow the possibility it is false. But political dogma is never “false“ in the eyes of the political high priests. So if you wanted your career to advance you sifted the data until you found evidence of Iraqi WMD’s. Just as twenty years ago, the infamous Team B within the CIA provided the wild overestimations of Soviet military capacity their political overlords demanded at the same time the USSR was actually starting the process of implosion.

In the example of Operation Barbarossa, this was not exactly an intelligence failure; it was simply a case of Stalin refusing the admit the startling fact the Hitler had used him like a cheap whore with the non-aggression treaty. In the end it mattered little, it’s not like the Russians were going to mount a preclusive defence anyway.

In the case of Lebanon in 2006, I would say the real intelligence failure was not the missile count but Israel’s ignorance of the ability of Hezbollah fighters to stand and fight and to stop a conventional Israeli infantry attack in it tracks. In other words, that Hezbollah would actually dare to conduct a preclusive defence against an Israeli frontal attack.

12/12/2007 12:52:00 PM  
Blogger eggplant said...

Kevin said:

"In the case of Lebanon in 2006, I would say the real intelligence failure was not the missile count but Israel’s ignorance of the ability of Hezbollah fighters to stand and fight and to stop a conventional Israeli infantry attack in it tracks."

What drove events in the 2006 Lebanon attack was the Russian made Koronet anti-tank missile. The Koronets negated the advantage of the Israeli Merkava main battle tanks (once thought to be the world's best tank). This was a classic example of "technological surprise" not unlike the long bow and the Battle of Agincourt.

12/12/2007 01:32:00 PM  
Blogger Peter Grynch said...

Terresita,
The preferred delivery platform for a nuke targetting an American city is a cargo container or a Ryder truck.

You're still hoping to refight the Cold War.

Mutually Assured Destruction is a poor defensive strategy when the other side is convinced that their destruction will bring about the return of the Ninth Imam and guarentee them a cushy spot in Paradise.

12/12/2007 01:34:00 PM  
Blogger jj mollo said...

Great article Wretchard! I think it's probably a little extreme, though, to characterize Bush's prior as 99.9 percent. I'm sure he's been suspicious of all intelligence since he entered office. His priori faith in a CIA assessment was probably less than 80%, dropping to 60% after 9/11. The missing WMDs in Iraq probably made him even more of a generalized skeptic than before. I would guess that he's probably about 50-50 now on whether Iran has an active program, and maybe 60-40 on the NIE. Still, it doesn't much matter whether Iran has a program, just as it didn't matter with Iraq. What matters is their desire for a program, their motivations with regard to the US and Israel, and their heavy involvement in a dual use program. The facility in Syria is also a problem that may reflect on Iran. One hopes that Bush, at least, has a good understanding of what it was.

12/12/2007 02:08:00 PM  
Blogger Teresita said...

Peter Grynch said...

Mutually Assured Destruction is a poor defensive strategy when the other side is convinced that their destruction will bring about the return of the Ninth Imam and guarentee them a cushy spot in Paradise.

The flaw in your argument is that Iran could bring about its destruction right now by raining chemical weapons on Tel Aviv with missiles. That they have not done so means they aren't as eager to meet the 9th Imam, or 13th Ummagumma, as you paint them to be.

12/12/2007 02:25:00 PM  
Blogger Wretchard said...

The "99.9" figure was Blair's example. I think he used it to simplify the computation in a hypothetical example. But you could use any base number of a priori belief.

12/12/2007 02:29:00 PM  
Blogger Teresita said...

W: Teresita argues that there was no proof Iran ever had a nuclear weapons program. If that's the case then the current NIE is flawed prima facie because it asserts that the nuclear weapons program -- which Teresita argues never existed -- was stopped. You can't use a statement asserting that something was stopped as proof that the activity stopped never existed at all.

We know that North Korea has "stopped" their nuclear bomb program, but we still do not have proof their nuclear bomb program existed in the first place. Sure, there was an earthquake in 2006, but even a country that can't make a bicycle can load 400 tons of dynamite in a mine shaft and blow it up. This is what I'm getting at. When the NIE says Iran "suspended" their atomic bomb program, this is like saying the arrest of Jose Padilla "suspended" his dirty bomb program.

12/12/2007 02:32:00 PM  
Blogger PeterBoston said...

I don't believe significant future political events can be predicted with a mathematical model.

You can believe whatever you want. The man's established (published) track record speaks for itself.

12/12/2007 03:05:00 PM  
Blogger exhelodrvr1 said...

Teresita,
That type of "logic" will lead you to disaster. Had our intel connected all the available dots in Dec 1941, they wouldn't have "known" that Japan was going to attack until the first release lever was actually pulled in a Japanese cockpit. Israel still doesn't "know" that they were going to be attacked in 1967. Arab troops massing near the border and other intelligence indications could have just been coincidences.

What point are you trying to make?

And as far as national security being threatened, what do you think the economic and cultural effect would be on our society if a single nuke was exploded in a major U.S. city? Multiply the 9/11 effect by what - 100? 1000?

12/12/2007 03:18:00 PM  
Blogger Teresita said...

Iran's bomb is (and has always been)two years away, and it's almost 2008, therefore the Israeli PM is warning that their bomb will be ready in 2010.

12/12/2007 03:27:00 PM  
Blogger whiskey_199 said...

Teresita -- North Korea claimed it set off a nuke in testing. It did not yield the outcome they desired (likely problems with the fuzes) but there you are. They have them.

This is established. You can take Kim Jong-Il's word for it. Iranian and other observers witnessed the test.

You are also willfully ignoring the elephant in the room. Iran wants nuclear weapons, has tried for decades to get them (as Israel, Pakistan, India, South Africa, and North Korea tried and succeeded). ALL the OTHER nations abjured the HEU route for technical reasons. HEU is useful in making the "gun-type" bomb, ala "Little Boy." Oppenheimer did not even bother to test it, but the device has drawbacks.

It does not last long (the Uranium decays quite quickly). The device is fragile and must be kept in unarmed conditions most of the time. The device cannot fit on an ICBM. It can be delivered by either bomber (problematic with US Air Supremacy) or via shipping container.

Iran currently wants the US Navy out of the Gulf. Against the USN they have no recourse. Against US cities which cannot be moved and are vulnerable to unchecked shipping containers particularly from Mexico, they have much recourse. Iran controls Hezbollah and has extensive ties to AQ including top people they shelter there. Such as Saad bin Laden. Osama's son and putative heir.

Should Iran decide to FORCE the US out of the Gulf and Med the use of "nuclear car bombs" to eliminate US cities, threaten more unless we withdraw, would seem quite logical. After all we've surrendered to every other demand and the Iranian leadership does not FEAR THE US but rather has CONTEMPT FOR US.

As to Israel, I believe your attitude is Exhibit A of the pure hatred that the Left has for Jews. The Left wants nothing more than to return the world into Medieval feudalism, with themselves holding the whip and the ordinary people turned into despised serfs. The Left hates Jews because it views them as agents of modernistic change which allows ordinary people to compete on near-equal terms with the Hereditary nobility of Leftists. The Left (and the far-right) hate Jews PRECISELY because they have produced so many nobelists in science and given societal changing technology that makes the average person able to compete with their nobility.

We are quite likely to get the most obvious result -- nuclear container bombs blowing apart DC and NYC in decapitation strikes, by "deniable" proxies and Iranian demands followed by demands for "proof" of Iran's complicity. Leading to catastrophic responses to prevent follow-on attacks.

[As for Stalin, he ordered idiotic last stands instead of fighting retreats. It was only when he nearly lost everything that he listened to people like Zhukov who forced him to conduct war intelligently.]

12/12/2007 04:55:00 PM  
Blogger eggplant said...

I earlier said:

"I don't believe significant future political events can be predicted with a mathematical model."

PeterBoston replied:

"You can believe whatever you want. The man's established (published) track record speaks for itself."

Many people think that Nostradamus has a pretty good track record. I remain skeptical of both.

12/12/2007 05:42:00 PM  
Blogger Teresita said...

Yet you, teresita, evidently have no compunctions about abandoning the MME's sole outpost of democracy and religious freedom.

Very good that Israel is a democratic nation that has religious freedom. Hong Kong was also a democratic nation that had religious freedom, and now it has been absorbed by China for ten years. Yet we did not consider that takeover a threat to our national security. Hezbollah in Lebanon, and Hamas in Gaza regularly lob shells and rockets toward Israel. We do not consider that a threat to the national security of the United States, otherwise the Department of DEFENSE would have intervened. As a matter of fact, during Gulf One, we forced Israel to sit on their hands while Saddam lobbed Scud missiles at Israel, because we were focused on getting Iraq out of Kuwait, which we DID consider to be a threat to the national oil security of the United States.

12/12/2007 06:06:00 PM  
Blogger waffle/gaufre said...

Back to the original question:

How much proof do you need before deciding a lifelong enemy is no longer out to get you?

I would say, when the Berlin Wall falls... and even then watch out for a trojan horse false surrender.

As for the NIE, I think it's nonsense.

Iran is incapable of expanding it's refinery capacity to produce enough gasoline. The basic infrastructure of the country is collapsing, yet what little technological capability they have is being diverted into their nuclear program.

If the ultimate aim of their nuclear program is electricity, then what they are doing is totally irrational.

If getting an atomic bomb is more important than basic infrastructure, then what they are doing makes perfect sense.

But we don't know if the Iranians are rational actors or not.

Part of the problem with applying bayesian analysis here is that one has to assume rational behavior on the part of the Iranians to be able to use Bayes to refine what their objectives are.

And, one has to guess at what Iranian objectives really are in order to test if they are rational actors.

In order to use bayes here, it seems to me that you have to assume what you are trying to estimate.

12/12/2007 07:25:00 PM  
Blogger Wadeusaf said...

I don't doubt that the lifelong enemy is out to get us still. I think the question is too leading, and doesn't lend itself to the perspective appropriate to the tools you want to use.

Otherwise I am humbled by the depth of your analysis. It gives us much to chew over, and reason to pause.

12/12/2007 10:56:00 PM  
Blogger TGGP said...

Iran should be a natural ally of the US. It was an enemy of Taliban ruled Afghanistan (they murdered several Iranian officials and persecuted Shi'ites) and Ba'athist Iraq (Saddam invaded their country and supported the Mujahedin al Khalk). They support Shi'ite militias allied to the Shi'ite dominated government of Iraq like the Badr brigades that oppose the Sunni insurgents supported by Saudi Arabia that are causing the most problems in Iraq for coalition forces. Iran has been less prone to invading other countries and followed a more rational foreign policy than the U.S or even Israel. The people urging conflict with Iran are largely the same as did for Iraq, and all their claims about WMDs and links to al Qaeda turned out to be false, and the war ended up being tremendously costly in American lives and dollars and strengthened Iran. Why trust them again?

12/12/2007 11:00:00 PM  
Blogger Alexis said...

I think that (a) our intelligence agencies have been manipulated by the Iranian government (and it wouldn't be the first time) and/or (b) our intelligence agencies are waving around their arms when they really have no clue what they are talking about.

As it is, I think it is wise to take the comments of foreign leaders at face value. If people chant that they desire a genocide against the American people in their mosques, I am inclined to believe them.

One can either presume someone is lying or presume someone is telling the truth. If you presume truth, there is a chance the other person will fool you. If you presume falsehood, there is a chance the other person will be offended that you don't believe him. As a rule, most people tell the truth most of the time.

As a rule, I think it is better to assume other people are telling the truth (including one's worst enemies) with the possible result that one may be fooled. The chance of being fooled is far preferable to offending other people by assuming they are a bunch of liars. (Few attitudes cause enmity so quickly as assuming that another man is a liar.)

So, when the Iranian government asserts that it desires genocide against Americans and genocide against Israelis, I am inclined to take them at their word. The problem with America's political leaders is that they all too often refuse to believe that their enemies will sincerely state their intentions in public.

12/13/2007 11:06:00 AM  
Blogger Alexis said...

There is an alternative reading of the NIE report -- that the Iranian government has had a working model of a nuclear weapon since 2003. In such a case, Iran's breakneck enrichment of uranium and acquisition of missile technology make sense if Iran seeks to have the capability of putting together sixty nuclear warheads all at once while technically not being a nuclear power during the interim period.

The idea would be to ensure that Iran's transition from a non-nuclear power to a nuclear power would be so instantaneous that no outside power would have a political window of opportunity to sabotage its arsenal.

If Iran is truly sincere in its desire to destroy America, one or two nuclear weapons would not be enough. It would probably require about sixty nuclear weapons to ensure that its master plan is implemented.

12/13/2007 11:16:00 AM  
Blogger John Sadowski said...

Alexis, that is terrifying.

12/13/2007 12:56:00 PM  
Blogger Mad Fiddler said...

oops

12/13/2007 01:18:00 PM  
Blogger Mad Fiddler said...

A little review of history reminds us that there have been many times that the vast majority of folks are WRONG about some issue --- enmeshed in the mythology of their longfathers --- while just a few see things with clarity. There are plenty of other occasions in which a number of wise folks discover in the fullness of time that they were wrong about their conclusions simply because all available information and expert analysis precluded any other interpretation of the data.

I have a relative who can't constrain herself at our family gatherings from muttering a long list of items I'm going to add to my trademarked register "Catechism of the Delusional™." You can hear her as a sort of demented pedal tone underpinning the topical chatter in the videos distributed later by our crazy Aunt. Most recent was this murmured sneer "When you go to war, you better ****KNOW**** what the real situation is..."

It really is kinda sad. Without even delving into abstract and arcane philosophical positings, it is not possible to know precisely what is going on in the NEXT ROOM, which is why many parents insist that their daughter keep her door open when her boyfriend visits. I've written a software program which recognizes and devastatingly mocks when anyone starts blathering about how we were "LIED TO about WMDs by Bush just to trick us into going to War." It would at least have a grudging subroutine that would not erase the comment so long as the writer acknowledged that the spineless U.N. and EVERY OTHER WESTERN COUNTRY's Intelligence aparatus independently had concluded that Saddam was amassing WMDs, and that William Jefferson Clinton and Empress Dowager Hillary had also made repeated public statements throughout the 1990's, calling for the forcible removal of Saddam's threat if he failed to prove he'd destroyed his weapons, et cetera.

How the heck are we supposed to stand up to the Mullahs --- or even a pack of cranky infants in diapers ---- when a huge portion of the West believes that the ENEMY of all mankind is the Bush Adminsitration?

Let's see... Mullahs came to power after Fearless President Peanut withdrew support from the Shah of Iran in the mid-1970's. The Brave and Compassionate U.S. Newspersons reminded us night after night that the ***Shah HAD SECRET POLICE... that TORTURED PEOPLE!!!!!*** Of course it was true. Over the decades Reza Shah Pahlavi ruled, hundreds of his opponents disappeared or were found murdered. Others were forced to flee to Europe and the U.S. Yes, the Shah had secret police and used brutal tactics to suppress dissent. He also committed the fatal errors of promoting women's rights, so they could attend school and college and hold jobs and pursue careers alongside men. He wrested control of land distribution from the Imams, making it possible for peasants to advance their fortunes.

By contrast, the Mullahs and their Revolutionary Guard every year since coming to power, have arrested and executed TENS OF THOUSANDS of Iranians, for adultery; fornication; for wearing western clothing, attending western movies, for being Christian, or Hindu; followers of Bahá’u’lláh, Zoroaster, or the Buddha; for being Communist, a union organizer, counter-revolutionary, or a critic of the Revolution; for being homosexual. These days in Persia, construction cranes and cherry picker trucks seem to be used primarily to display the strangled bodies of such victims of the Revolutionary courts, to encourage properly submissive demeanor in the others. The Mullahs have sent teams of assassins into Europe and North America to murder Iranian expatriate critics of the Islamic Revolutionary government, and Mullahs and Imams in the government have issued death sentences as "fatwas" --- which give license to any faithful Muslim anywhere in the world to execute the condemned person --- against their perceived enemies.

Does Salman Rushdie still have an unlisted phone number?

*******

Seriously, If you're going to discuss the question of whether the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Government seems to be trying to acquire nuclear weapons, you first have to be able to grasp and acknowledge the vast hemmorhage it has loosed ***ON ITS OWN POPULATION**** simply to consolidate power and suppress dissent. You cannot deny this and pretend to make any rational analysis of its intentions in the wider context of international contention.

12/13/2007 10:26:00 PM  
Blogger Zenster said...

Killer post, mad fiddler. Thank you so much. I'm sure my Iranian friend would applaud every single word of yours.

12/13/2007 11:30:00 PM  
Blogger Mətušélaḥ said...

Richard Fernandez writes: "Israel was almost destroyed by its failure to detect the Yom Kippur surprise attack in 1973."

All the warnings were there. Israel just didn't want to believe them.

12/14/2007 08:35:00 AM  

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