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13 December 2007


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frank durkee

Like it or not andy is correct. If you want to affect the narrative you have to have a counternarrative that does several things. First, that it counters factually the narrative you oppose; second, thsat it constructs, using facts, a counteernarrative that will stand up to attack; and third that you name the emotional, non-factual points as such and hold the'other' accountable for parading emotion as fact. there's more but that's a beginning. Otherwise one just mirrors the 'other' and that simply asks who can manipulate better and yell louder. Sistinguish fact from interpretation as much as possible.



First of all, thanks for the spirited debate.

WRT to reconfiguring centrifuges or batch processing to make HEU you have not really proffered any evidence that this is as difficult as you seemingly believe it to be.

Supporting my position I've provided to ISIS piece above and additionally is this from Dr. Charles Ferguson:

A centrifuge enrichment plant could be designed to allow the operator to change the connections among the centrifuge units to shift cascades from LEU to HEU production. Depending on the plant design, rearranging these connections could take little more than several days to a few weeks. This relatively rapid changeover poses challenges for safeguard inspectors who are trying to determine if an enrichment plant has produced weapon-usable uranium before use of that uranium in a bomb. Another safeguard challenge arises from the fact that an operator would not have to change the connections among the centrifuge units to produce HEU. The operator could use the less efficient process of batch recycling of LEU in an LEU cascade to boost the enrichment levels to HEU. That is, the LEU product from one pass through the plant could be used as the feed for another pass through the plant and so on until enrichment levels are increased to the desired concentration of uranium-235. Only a handful of passes, typically four or five, are needed to boost LEU to weapon-grade levels. Therefore, an LEU enrichment plant is a latent nuclear explosive material factory. However, as long as safeguard inspections are applied to the plant, the operator would have to be concerned that HEU production could be detected. But if the government that owns the enrichment plant wanted to produce HEU, it could kick out inspectors and abrogate its safeguard agreement.

I've found no nuclear experts who believe converting a centrifuge facility from LEU to HEU production is a significant challenge technically, but if I've missed something, please point it out to me.

Now, we can debate whether or not the Iranians currently have the expertise to reconfigure their cascades or batch process and, if not, when they might gain that expertise, but that is a topic probably well beyond the scope of the discussion here.

Furthermore, I'm aware of MTBF and would point to the example of Pakistan, which was willing to tolerate crashes to get HEU sooner rather than later.

I don't have much to disagree with on your comments regarding nonproliferation policy which were more complete than my own.

You've been doing the lion's share of the suggesting ever since.

Well, that's why I specifically asked you if my reading of what you wrote was correct, which you duly did. What is unfair or suggestive about that?

...you really can learn a lot from the good folks who contribute to Colonel Lang's corner of the intelligent universe (or is it the intelligence universe?)

Certainly! I've been an admirer of Col. Lang for some time and I'm always interested in the seemingly few spots on the Internet left that promote intelligent, open and fair debate - this is one of them.



Well, there's this:

"We actually drew up plans to attack North Korea and to destroy their reactors and we told them we would attack unless they ended their nuclear program," [Bill] Clinton told a security forum in the Dutch port city of Rotterdam Sunday.

"We were in a very intense situation," he said.

And this on the same incident:

Beyond mere plans, Clinton ordered in an advance team of 250 soldiers to set up logistical headquarters that could manage this massive influx of firepower. These moves sent a signal to the North Koreans that the president was willing to go to war to keep the fuel rods under international control. And, several former officials insist, he would have. At the very least, they say, he was prepared to launch an air strike on the Yongbyon reactor, even though he knew that doing so could provoke war.

Point 1. Iran was pursuing nuclear weapons (according the the IC) long before GWB came into office, long before troops were either in Iraq or Afghanistan and long before neocons were talking incessantly of "all options" being on the table."

Nobody here deny that Iran is persuing nuclear. What is being debated is Israel and its neocon operative demand for war as sole mean to solve tension with Iran.

These action reinforce the logic behind Iran thinking of needing nuclear. And by now Russia and China are fully supporting that logic.

You can keep thumping the war drum. But sooner or later Israel will face massive public backlash.

"Point 3. Israeli policy since at least 1980 is that it would become a party to a verifiable nuclear-weapons free zone treaty once the region recognizes it and there is a peace agreement, to include Iran."

Like I say. Israel approach to peace talk is this: "Be my friend or I'll shoot" Then it plays stupid why nobody trust them or wanting to blow them out. Israel consistently present itself as hostile player. It is only natural for everybody to take Israel as hostile player.

There isn't a single country in the middle east who trust Israel nor Israel words as good faith.

That's your problem. Either you want to accept it or not. Previously you can survive by getting bigger guns. But now we have reached nuclear. Yer screwed.

Michael Murry

From an excellent little book by T. Edward Damer on the rules of civilized argumentation entitled Attacking Faulty Reasoning (a practical guide to fallacy-free arguments):

"To ask others to accept your claim without any support, or to shift the burden of proof to them by suggesting that your position is true unless they can prove otherwise, is to commit the fallacy of 'arguing from ignorance,' for you are, in this way, making a claim based on no evidence at all. Indeed, you are basing the claim on the absence of evidence -- that is, on ignorance. ... In this way you fail to take responsibility for you own claims and even attempt to get your opponents to do your work for you. Moreover, since negative claims are notoriously difficult to establish, you are attempting to set yourself up for a 'win' by default. But in the argument game, there are no wins by default, for the merit of any position can be only as good as the argumentation given in support of it."

As I stated previously above, it takes far more time and careful phrasing -- as Professor Damer demonstrates -- to rebut Sheriff Dick Cheney saying, "We just don't know" (about alleged Iraqi W.M.D.) than it does for duplicitous Dick to go on repeating, ad nauseum, his shifting-the-burden-of-proof argument-from-ignorance fallacy that what he and his putative boss, Deputy Dubya don't know in fact justifies their claims that they do! Ditto for the same sloppy "strategy" of trying to claim that we really don't know what Iran can or intends to do but that just means that they must intend to do it nonetheless!

I cannot recall ever once seeing or hearing -- or reading about -- any media interviewer or reporter challenging Dick and Dubya's fallacious, fraudulent fables for the benefit of their viewers and/or readers. I never once heard any incredulous interlocutor simply state: "Well, if you don't know, why in the hell should any sentient carbon-based life form on Planet Earth give a rat's ass what you say?" I certainly never once in all these dreary years heard Tim Russert or Wolf Blitzer, or any of their sycophant-stenographer cohort clearly identify the relevant, blatant fallacies and -- in so doing -- debunk the drivel our government sophists ladel out for the somnolent, stupified masses to passively consume without reflection.

In spite of all the disreputatable demagoguery, though, the American public has -- as in the desultory days of America's War on Vietnam decades ago -- learned to its rage and sorrow that our governmental "representatives" lie just to keep in practice; just so they won't forget how. The common people may not know and recognize "The Art of Controversy," as Arthur Schopenhauer called sophistical dialectical disputation, but they do know the fable of the boy who cried "Wolf"(owitz) so many needless times that he lost all credibility regarding any alarms that he might raise in the future. We used do speak of the "Credibility Gap" between our government and "we, the people." Now we've got "Credibility Chasm." Yet still, some demand that we give known knaves the benefit of taking their fallacy-riddled, sophisitical dialectic tricks seriously. Sorry, but "fool me once, shame on you; fool me one hundred times, shame on nobody" doesn't earn Cheney, Dubya and the "neo" con-artists a hundred-and-first chance to do it all again vis-a-vis Iran based on all that we don't know about that country, its capabilities, and/or intentions.


So Andy, you dug deep enough...but you finally found the one statement uttered by Bill Clinton that the neocon would defend as a true one. There is no way on this (presently)green earth that Clinton was going to attack North Korea. Revisionist history aside. Just as the was no way Bush was going to attack. Even when N.Korea indeed, obtained the weapon! Look at their deeds....not their words. But, your point is taken anyway, to the extent that contemplated the attack it would have been an illegal and immoral action on the part of the US. And therefore the policy should be, and was, by many, condemned.



Whether you believe Clinton's threat against the North Korean's was credible or not is beside the point since it appears the North took it seriously.

And herein lies the difference between Bush warmongering, done from a pulpit, and Clinton's, done as part of diplomacy and in private. One was effective and the other has been a failure. The reasons for the different outcomes, I should hope, are rather obvious.


What proof have you that they took the threat as credible? They may have. They may have not. They may have took the bribe of aid, as credible. And they went ahead with their planning in any event. Bush..Clinton, agreements, whatever, they got their bomb. And then they negotiated from a position of strength. You have no evidence....as I have no evidence, what was the decisive motivating factor with any of Korea's leadership. Other that is, the fact that they went ahead with their plans, in any event. So please...spare me the tea leaf reading why people, whom we know, little or nothing, about did what they did. Let's focus on what they did. And what we did NOT do...despite all our bluster.


Well jonst, whether you choose to believe Clinton and his officials who were there is ultimately up to you, but they indicate the threat was a motivating factor for the North Koreans and they also state their intent to attack was real. Maybe they're wrong in their assessment of North Korean motivations (certainly a possibility given the insular nature of the regime) and maybe they're now lying about their intentions to strike, but given the choice of whose word to take on the matter in the absence of any additional evidence, I defer to them over you for reasons which should be obvious.

In any event the point remains - Iran is not the only nation we've threatened with military action over a nuclear program. One might even include Pakistan and the widely reported plans that US strike teams planned to raid and secure or destroy Pakistani nukes should the government fall. Although the context is different, it still represents planning and intent to unilaterally use military force against a sovereign nation's nuclear program.

One could also include an actual unilateral military action - Desert Fox - which was in large part aimed at destroying what remained of Saddam's WMD facilities.

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