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December 04, 2007

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OK, I give up: what's the Elvis Costello hint?

I prefer Imperial Bedroom and Get Happy. I'd put it maybe at #3.

I prefer Imperial Bedroom and Get Happy. I'd put it maybe at #3.

He wants her broken with her mouth wide open
'cause she's this week's intelligence?

On the other, I'm somewhat disturbed that Bolton is bragging to a national newspaper that his foreign policy views are impervious to changing facts. Empiricism is for weenies and appeasers, after all.

On the gripping hand, sometimes it's best to let data age. The trick is knowing when those times are.

Not saying this is one of those times, just that recent data isn't always a subset of good data.

it takes a man of bold vision to see past the facts into the future he wants to create.

Ok, shorter me: intelligence and good intelligence are not synonymous. Or, we could just unlearn the lessons of the last half-decade.

I'm sure he only accepts the wisdom of intelligence analysts when they write their reports taking dictation of his fantasies.

This is an enormous event, this makes it extremely improbable for the administration to carry out the military action action against Iran that I was wholly convinced would happen up until yesterday.

The American intelligence apparatus is obvious trying to reestablish its credibility after the humiliations of 9/11 and, even worse, Iraq. This forceful presentation is presumably a product of spine regrowth and Gates shutting down the Feith-Wolfowitz designer intelligence shop at the Pentagon.

Curiously, just like Iraq and before the Soviet Union in the 1970s, the threat-hyping (more recently evolved into threat-invention) hawks have been proven to be *completely wrong* on the issues: in each case the 'fanatical' 'totalitarian regimes' proved, surprise, to consist of complex interactions of different agendas, rational thinking within a particular ideological context, and generally malleable and receptive to the type of diplomatic-economic levers the hawks repeat like a mantra each morning 'have failed'.

Slarti, you do realize this NIE is from one year ago and the administration has tried to keep it from being made public don't you? I think that has aged enough.

"in each case the 'fanatical' 'totalitarian regimes' proved, surprise, to consist of complex interactions of different agendas, rational thinking within a particular ideological context, and generally malleable and receptive to the type of diplomatic-economic levers the hawks repeat like a mantra each morning 'have failed'."

The only example that is different is the current administration of this country. Although that might be starting to change.

With the issuing of the NIE, it makes you wonder if Bolton said "this week's intelligence" or "this week's intelligence".

Norman Podhoretz continues his descent into foaming-at-the-mouth thermonuclear genocidal rage:

But I entertain an even darker suspicion. It is that the intelligence community, which has for some years now been leaking material calculated to undermine George W. Bush, is doing it again. This time the purpose is to head off the possibility that the President may order air strikes on the Iranian nuclear installations...How better, then, to stop Bush in his tracks than by telling him and the world that such pressures have already been effective and that keeping them up could well bring about “a halt to Iran’s entire nuclear weapons program”—especially if the negotiations and sanctions were combined with a goodly dose of appeasement or, in the NIE’s own euphemistic formulation, “with opportunities for Iran to achieve its security, prestige, and goals for regional influence in other ways.”

Proving once again that no chickenhawk analysis of a foreign policy issue is complete without the ubiquitous reference to Munich 1938. Have Bolton, Podhoretz and their ilk ever used any other historical analogy?

This just gives the administration a chance to announce in, say, March that Iran has, ZOMG!, restarted its nuclear weapons program and then throw in a bunch of BS about how they recently got nuclear materials and advanced technology from Pakistan/North Korea and are this close to having a bomb. Mushroom cloud, mushroom cloud!

There's a colony of alien brain-sucking nanites in his mustache giving him his talkin' orders.

LJ: I took it to mean “this weak intelligence”.

I haven’t really digested this yet but it seems to be very good news. At least it would be if I had any faith left in our intelligence services.

Reaction in the right-o-sphere seems to be ranging from “this justifies the Iraq war (because Iran got nervous and shelved it)” to “this is just another attempt by the intelligence community (like the selective leaks) to tie W’s hands”.

All in all though, it doesn’t address the enrichment program. Once you have the enrichment capability it is really just a matter of assembly.

I'm going with the theory that professionals in the intelligence community staging a revolution against the political pals and "loyal Bushies." Something along the lines of: "You either release our true estimate now, or we leak both the true estimate and also our recordings of your decision to ignore this news for political purposes."

After all, we're not in a 2nd year of a first term presidency with high public approval any more - we're in the last year of a presidency with record-setting disapproval scores. The Democrats may not recognize this, but the civil service folks apparently realize that Cheney will be gone in one year and one month.

"this justifies the Iraq war (because Iran got nervous and shelved it)"

I'm curious whether anyone in the administration will try this approach.

I'm curious whether anyone in the administration will try this approach.

Bush has a press conference at 10.

OCSteve,

Every industrialized nation in the world has the capacity to build a nuclear weapon in a year or two, if it wishes. Nuclear weapons technology (of Hiroshima type weapons) is extremely simple, compared with many other modern technologies. If you wish to prevent a nation from achieving this capacity, you must also prevent it from achieving a modern society.

However, there are two things that are much more difficult than the bomb itself: constructing a nuclear weapons system capable of delivering the weapon to a rationally chosen target and achiving political will to carry the financial and political costs of doing this. Very few countries are inclined to build nuclear weapons, although there are dozens of theoretically nuclear-capable nation.

So beyond that being an incredible reach on the quote. This Year's Model is *clearly* his best? Clearly better than Imperial Bedroom, Trust, My Aim Is True, Armed Forces, King of America and All This Useless Beauty? I'm not even sure Declan's *clearly* the *2nd Best* Elvis.

Let's see, who to beleive?

Al Baradei, who has a scary foreign-sounding name, but is an actual nuclear physicist, who has been consistently right.

Or John Bolton, who has a scary walrusian mustache, and is a moronic ideological blowhard, who has been consistently wrong.

Decisions, decisions.

"So beyond that being an incredible reach on the quote. This Year's Model is *clearly* his best? Clearly better than Imperial Bedroom, Trust, My Aim Is True, Armed Forces, King of America and All This Useless Beauty?"

I'd have to say Imperial Bedroom was his best. But maybe Publius is saving the other albums for future posts.

Imperial Bedroom - Clinton impeachment
Trust - anything to do with politics
My Aim Is True - Dick Cheney
Armed Forces - 2nd Amendment rights
King of America - signing statements
All This Useless Beauty - drilling in Alaska

I'd have to say Imperial Bedroom was his best.

By which you mean "Armed Forces."

I've never based my view on this week's intelligence.

That says it all.

Also -- do I detect a nod to Barry McGuire, publius?

Thanks -

Put me down for Declan as the best Elvis, Armed Forces as the best album, and John Bolton as a horse's ass.

Valerie Plame's brief included Iran's WMD development programs, didn't it?

She was outed and her network destroyed in 2002-2003, wasn't she?

2003 is when Iran shut down its nuclear weapons development program, isn't it?

Seems to me it's possible the Bush Admin knew Iran had shut down its program - via Valerie Plame - and responded by a)ignoring her analysis and b) outing her.

"we need the lunatic perspective for balance"

Nice ad hom. Glad I can expect "moderation" here.

"who has been consistently right"

Perhaps in his own mind.

Nuclear weapons technology (of Hiroshima type weapons) is extremely simple, compared with many other modern technologies.

Indeed. But obtaining weapons-grade uranium is not so simple as you believe. Building a uranium bomb is quite easy, it's getting the uranium that is a major challenge (I would recommend Rhodes' "The Making of the Atomic Bomb" for a fascinating recounting of the technical issues involved; how many countries TODAY have the ability to establish a TVA-sized power setup? Not to mention the other technical issues).

Publius, are you seriously suggesting that Elvis Costello is second best to Elvis Presley? Or is there a third Elvis of which I am unaware? Your taste in music, while generally mildly questionable, has never seemed to be actually dead wrong, but this could be a first.

No, no, CaseyL. Clearly it was the outing of Plame that caused Iran to see that error of its ways. Another triumph of the Bush administration! Can a Nobel Peace Prize be far behind?

"Can a Nobel Peace Prize be far behind?"


No doubt offered satirically, but uncomfortably close to reality.

Lurker: Every industrialized nation in the world has the capacity to build a nuclear weapon in a year or two, if it wishes. Nuclear weapons technology (of Hiroshima type weapons) is extremely simple, compared with many other modern technologies. If you wish to prevent a nation from achieving this capacity, you must also prevent it from achieving a modern society.

I’m not sure I understand you, or that we are disagreeing here. There were only seven countries capable of enriching uranium. Iran makes number eight. Currently they can produce reactor fuel. From this point (as I understand it) they simply have to keep adding centrifuge cascades to get to the point where they can produce weapons grade material. As I noted, from there it’s just a matter of assembly.

I agree that most industrialized nations have the capacity if that’s where they want to focus their efforts. But developing the capability is hardly required to become a modern society.

OCSteve: I agree that most industrialized nations have the capacity if that’s where they want to focus their efforts. But developing the capability is hardly required to become a modern society.

You feel it's not necessary to be industrialized to be a "modern society"?

You feel it's not necessary to be industrialized to be a "modern society"?

Yes, I do actually.

Jes: You feel it's not necessary to be industrialized to be a "modern society"?

I’m not sure about that. But I was referring to capacity vs. capability. An industrialized nation inherently has the capacity to enrich uranium. Developing the capability is not necessary to become a modern society…

An industrialized nation inherently has the capacity to enrich uranium. Developing the capability is not necessary to become a modern society…

It was a serious question, but of course it all depends on what you mean by "modern". ;-)

If we agree, however, that any industrialized country has the capacity to enrich uranium, the only way to prevent some countries from having the capacity to enrich uranium is to prevent them from becoming industrialized countries.

(And of course the definition of "industrialized country" is also rather ambiguous, which is why geographers tend to prefer "developed".)

We've seen what happens to the people of a country, especially the children, when more powerful nations decide that an economically developed/industrialized country should be shoved backwards - made less industrialized/less developed.

So, in practical argument, if you are willing to kill children by the million, you can stop a country from developing the capacity to enrich uranium.

Given that killing children is generally regarded as a bad means to any end, it follows that the ethical method is to arrange by diplomatic means that, though a country could begin to enrich uranium and thus develop its own nuclear weapons, it will not.

You all need to listen to 'Get Happy!!' repeatedly.

Just wait a gosh damn minut, it should only yake a month to blame 9-11 on Iran.

Or get the Saudi's to send bin Laden over to kill 3000 Americans and Bush and the Republicans could blame it on the Persians.

I'm with Phil - I think Imperial Bedroom was probably his best. But All This Useless Beauty has to be at least mentioned when it comes to singles.

And with Joe Thomas too - Costello passed that other Elvis a while back...

You were actually agreeing with me. Phil has some wacky notion about Armed Forces being his best.

And the opening line of Imperial Bedroom almost sounds like a comment on Bolton:

"History repeats the old conceits -- The glib replies, the same defeats"

Oh. Right. Sorry. Armed Forces is strong but I agree it's not Imperial Bedroom.

Kudos on the suggested use of the other albums as well. So in the same vein - the post originally being about Hillary . . . brings to mind Almost Blue.

Crimso,

I agree with you. Getting the fissile material presents the technological challenge, which is why those countries that want the bomb most have the difficulty of obtaining it. However, if you have advanced metallurgical chemical and industries, the problem of building enrichment plants (or fuel reprocessing plants) becomes only a rather standard engineering work. There are of course technological hurdles to be jumped, but qualified engineers can do it. (I think that the OSHA and environmental concerns are the most difficult issues, but that would apply only to most OECD countries.)

Building a molecular beam epitaxy instrumentation to manufacture optoelectronic semiconductor chips is much more difficult than building an enrichment plant. The difference is but scale. A MBE chamber fits into a room, while an enrichment plant covers several hectares. Even for Americans, the Manhattan project was mostly about learning to make an industrial organization of unprecented scale to work, not about Physics.

If Germany, Sweden, Italy or even Czech Republic would desire nuclear weapons so much that they would be willing to bear the international condemnation following the decision to build them, there would be no tchnological concerns to stop them. Even the project management aspect is nowadays the common property of all nations.

Bolton's quote also evokes (unintentionally, surely) Lillian Hellman's "I will not cut my conscience to fit this year's fashion" (from the HUAC/blacklist/McCarthy period).

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