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05 May 2008


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David Habakkuk


It wasn't LWT who were responsible for the ITV auctions.

The idea was recommended in 1986 by the Report of the Committee on Financing the BBC, chaired by the economist Professor Alan Peacock, with the FT economics columnist Sam Brittan a key member.

It was a conception so idiotic that only rather simple-minded free market economists like Peacock and Brittan could have thought it up. Anyone with the least knowledge of the industry was aware that, given the immense imponderables, there was no rational method of forecasting advertising revenue. So the idea actually involved awarding franchises either to the most reckless, and leaving them without money to make programmes -- or to those bidders lucky enough not to face serious challenge.

That key staff in the companies could then explain that because they might be poached by other bidders, they needed 'golden handcuffs' was simply one of a whole series of unintended consequences of the original silly idea. It certainly may very well be that it was the LWT group -- Bland, Dyke, Bragg, and Barry Cox -- who thought it up.

The destruction of the old 'public service' culture in ITV followed very rapidly -- with LWT and Dyke in the lead.

In one sense, this does not matter all that much. On Weekend World, we tried to write as though for an intelligent sixth-former -- that is, someone curious but without prior knowledge. In those days, such a person had to look for information to newspapers and television programmes. These days, they have the immense resources of the internet.

The decline of serious investigative journalism does matter, although there is very good investigative work done on the net. What matters most of all is the disintegration of standards in the television news programmes. I think this has probably gone further in the U.S., than in the U.K., but even here they are shadows of what they were.


Tom B

When someone can make a convincing argument for Israeli capacities to attack Iranian nuclear sites that doesn't involve using nuclear missiles launched from within, or close to, Israeli territory, I'll assign a value; currently, it stands at zero.

I don't understand why you think that my odds are so out of line; ludicrously high odds of a US attack on Iran have been assigned for several years now, which I can only put down to a serious analytical failure when this presumptive high-probability event continually fails to materialise.

The objective circumstances that are required to "enable" US military action have deteriorated every year since the invasion of Iraq, and continue to deteriorate on a near-daily basis.

Tom Griffin

What one really needs are ways of bringing together information about these various networks, so they a map of the relevant interconnections can be build up which people can draw on.

An online wiki is one way of doing this. Sourcewatch is a good example:

Spinwatch runs a similar wiki called SpinProfiles in the UK, but it is not currently publicly available.


londanium wrote:

"I don't understand why you think that my odds are so out of line...."

No no, not "out of line" at all; certainly defensible and indeed between this post and your last on the subject as well reasoned as my somewhat higher estimate, if not moreso. And in fact as it was significantly lower than mine and what seemed to me that of others' here too I very much liked its bold and provocative nature. So often these blogs can turn into embarrassing echo chambers it seems to me.

I guess my somewhat higher general estimate just stems from a relative lesser belief in the ability to tell the future from the past. (Because I didn't eat broccoli yesterday don't mean I ain't gonna eat it today.) But yeah, there's been lots of predictions about us striking Iran in the past that haven't materialized, and yes even the "objective conditions enabling us to do so" have deteriorated.

Like Churchill used to say though, while true, I wonder if this isn't also a bit non-comprehensive. That is, not only that other objective grounds make such a strike more likely, but also that such decisions are not determined by objective grounds anyway but by what's subjectively in the heads of the decision-makers.

As to the former, objectively, as time has gone by the Iranians are coming closer and closer to enrichment ability, and both George Bush's time to forestall that has gotten objectively shorter and shorter, and so has the Israelis', including their doing so with Mr. Bush's approval, backing, help, defense, and etc., etc.

And as to the latter, those objective changes may have changed the subjective views of the Israelis and/or Mr. Bush. After all, the objective circumstances required to enable us to enter the war and fight the Japanese (or the Germans) starting in 1941 or even 1942 were abysmal. But we went ahead and announced an embargo on oil to Japan anyway which they had repeatedly said meant war. And, with the perfect retrospective verdict of history, the objective circumstances required to enable us to go into Iraq and achieve what was wanted have turned out to be non-existent too.

So of course it's the subjective question of what's in the minds of Mr. Bush and the Israeli's here that's the bottom line, and thus to a fair extent it's what's come out of their mouths at least that have me thinking in higher terms than you. But I don't for a moment gainsay the validity of you discounting same to a greater extent than me. (And of course have to admit that in fact you're being more objective than me by so doing.)


David Habakkuk

Tom Griffin, johnf

What makes building a map of relevant interconnections both more important and more difficult is the phenomenon johnf described as operating in relation to Clinton and Lewinsky -- the feeding of information back into one country through the use of the media in another.

Compounding the problem is the fact that networks cross countries, but our understanding often does not. For example: there are clearly networks which involve people in the U.S., the U.K., and Italy -- but people who know about the U.K. end are liable to find Italian politics baffling, and vice versa.

I absolutely agree that an online wiki is a good way of building up a cumulative fund of knowledge -- although one can see all kinds of problems. Sourcewatch is certainly invaluable.

In the U.K. it would I think be a help of SpinProfiles could be made publicly available -- at the moment it has a rather baffling page which invites one to create an account, and then seems to make it impossible to do so. (Unless my technical inadequacies are making me misunderstand!)

I was heartened to see that Colonel Sam Gardiner is blogging at Spinwatch, as his Truth from These Podia is an invaluable contribution. And of course, like Colonel Lang, he understands the military technicalities -- which are fundamental to making sense of a good deal of the most important disinformation.



thank you for expanding the conversation and expose regarding 'those' (neocons) on both sides of the atlantic who have such a disrespect for life and seek to 'enslave' those who are not part-n-parcel of their neocon apparatus. to the neocons on your side of the pond, they look upon us (spelled u.s.) as their colony to do with at their whim. the neocons in israel look upon us (spelled u.s.) as their 'second state' to do with at their whim. both sets of neocons (yours and israels) along with the neocons in our u.s. seem almost gleeful at the thought of the spilling of more american military personnel blood as well as iraqi and iranian.

neocons = death masters.



I would suggest that the Iranians have fairly conclusively demonstrated the necessary competence to enrich uranium to reactor grade and are showing - relatively openly - an increasing ability to both scale up and operate more efficiently. More pertinently, there is increasing evidence that they have now developed the technical competence to indigenously manufacture critical centrifuge components. Essentially, the cat is well out of the bag on this one. This needs to be balanced against the 2007 NIE - that had already been delayed for quite some time - that has thoroughly undermined the use of covert Iranian weaponisation as a route to military conflict.

I suspect that a large part of the neocon/veep/Israeli displeasure at this is that it spikes this issue as a tool of coercive diplomacy.

It's worth tracking the Bush administration's rhetorical shift away from the nuclear issue as a potential military trigger towards Iran is killing US troops in Iraq as the trigger issue. Then again, when you look at the small print in the pronouncements they tend to be sufficiently hedged to apply only to an alternate reality where fantasy Iranians of neocon desire who suddenly appear in armoured columns in Iraq supplant the actual ones they have to deal with.

The Bush administration is indeed running out of time - which begs the question as to why they haven't acted sooner if military action was a priority; the clock running out is indicative of the Bush administration inability to actualise a military option - and contrary to those who advocate that this is a motivating factor, I'd assert that they're more or less timed out on this already.

Look at it this way - we're well into the 100 day countdown to the Olympics, so there's absolutely no chance of the US breaching etiquette and, potentially, starting a war with one of Beijing's key crude oil suppliers. By the end of August we're well into hurricane season, and with crude prices at anything close to current levels there's no chance of any military action in the 60 day run-up to an election ( there would be serious legal and career peril if the Bush administration started a war with Iran and Obama then won ).

The only glimmer of hope for the advocates of military action is Gates resigning, a McCain victory, who then tips Cheney the wink that he'll immunise everyone involved and take the flak if it all goes Pete Tong - even if it means that he's already a lame duck president by the time of his inauguration. Personally, I don't think McCain is that stupid.

That said, McCain is still going to be in exactly the same position, should he win, that Bush/Cheney are in no with respect to Iran now.

I can only conclude that the reality in Washington is that Iran policy, such as it is, is still stuck in a vacuum, regime change is still the policy objective, no one has a clue as to how to achieve it, there's no military route to it, and the default position has remained stuck at we ain't gonna talk to Iran - except for Ryan Crocker - unless they surrender first.

To be honest, the situation seems to be that there's a widespread understanding that the only thing worse than not bombing Iran, is, er, bombing Iran.

Cold War Zoomie

...if it all goes Pete Tong...

Chuckle. That's a new one on me. My Brit girlfriend loved this guy's show in the mid-1990s. It made me want to drive needles through my eyes.

Speaking of music and London - my most frequented clubs:

Ain't Nothin' But...

100 Club

Oh, and by the way, I haven't changed my mind (yet): we're not attacking Iran.



Makes sense to me. My only qualm/quibble/whatever is whether that "widespread" understanding you note at the end extends as fully to Pennsylvania Avenue.

Seems to me *the* big question that is going to exist in the wake of all this baloney is going to be exactly what was going on in Bush's brain. I just have a tough time understanding that man's drivers.


Clifford Kiracofe

David Habakkuk,

You said "a map of the relevant interconnections can be build up which people can draw on." Absolutely, and your posts and others in this thread are most helpful in this regard. Given the betrayal of the United States (and the UK) into the Iraq morass to the tune of a projected $5 trillion and countless thousands (tens of thousands) of dead and wounded, those reponsible (and their families) require cold and detailed scrutiny. Hopefully, we can intensify this scrutiny appropriately in this and threads to come at SST.

Johnf, thanks for the reference to Drudge and context. It does appear from your comment that someone/thing is running him. Of course, he is laughing all the way to the bank and luxuriating in his Miami, Florida palaces. I located some useful biographic data at Wiki:

One feature of the Bush43 propaganda/dezinformatsia campaign in 2002 was the suppression in the US press of information about the intense debates in the British Parliament. Particularly, Labor Party opposition to Blair's pro-war policy.

At the time, I monitored major US press and London press daily per Iraq during the run up to the October 2002 war resolution vote and still have several boxes of clips/downloads which I hope to sort through some day. It was logical to me to get a sense of what our closest ally was up to. The Washington Post, NYT, and others really suppressed information about the sharpness and content of the debate in the UK and the profound opposition to Blair's war line.

This was of course to dutifully limit information in the daily press not conducive to the White House war policy. It was obvious to me that this suppression of news on British opposition to the war was designed to make it easier to pass the pro-war resolution in Congress and befuddle the American people generally. The impression was given that our British ally was unified and fully behind us in all of this etc.

There was also a fellow who played a key cutout role between Israeli "think tanks", US Neocons, and London. He was a conduit for Israeli dezinformatsia and played a role in the dodgy dossier Blair put forth. I think his name is Barry Rubin.

He is involved in a network pivoting around Herzliya.

IASPS is a core neocon Israeli think tank with US presence. Many leading US Neocon "defense policy" types like Perle, Wurmser, etal are in this mix. http://www.iasps.org/index.php

Perle, etals "Clean Break" paper is conveniently at: http://www.iasps.org/strat1.htm

On this side of the pond, aside from AIPAC, noteworthy influential Neocon think tanks include:

Frank Gaffney's Center for Security Policy is here:
Frank is extremely influential on Capitol Hill and with the Christian Zionist movement leaders. He is very industrious and very able.

The Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs is here (Cheney was on the Board and this org has strategically penetrated US military circles):

One of the directors of JINSA is Shoshona Bryen, wife of Stephen Bryen. For the latter, a piece by Stephen Green gives some context:

WINEP, the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, is a think tank offshoot of AIPAC. http://www.washingtoninstitute.org/templateI01.php

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