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Re: [Gnu-arch-users] Re: [OT] the poetry of donald rumsfeld

From: Pierce T . Wetter III
Subject: Re: [Gnu-arch-users] Re: [OT] the poetry of donald rumsfeld
Date: Fri, 19 Mar 2004 13:18:04 -0700

On Mar 19, 2004, at 1:16 PM, Tom Lord wrote:

From: "Pierce T.Wetter III" <address@hidden>

  Actually, my interpretation is that even Saddam thought he had WMD.

Wow.   I haven't heard that one before.

I find it utterly implausible.  Totalitarianism is always built on a
system of factionalized informants all intersecting with every aspect
of life --- no such large-scale conspiracy could have worked.

Having participated in "conspiracies" in my work life before, I believe it. When management tells you "do this or you'll get fired", and what they ask for is impossible, its in everyone's interest to let them hang themselves. So you spend a lot of time looking busy without actually getting anything

"do this or you'll get shot" isn't much different, in fact, its probably worse.

Saddam had a lot of active programs to produce WMD, its just that none of
them were effective. There's a book "Saddam's Bombmaker" that's written
by the guy who defected in 1995 (which is what started to freak us out about Iraq). In one episode in the book, he talks about how one guy was leading
this project to enrich uranium using "lasers". Everyone knew it wouldn't
work, but no one was going to rock the boat, because he himself was stalling in order to defect...

Anyone who's been a software engineer for any length of time has run into a similar situation. All I'm really saying is that Saddam was being regularly lied to about progress in creating WMD, and that everyone knew better then to
rock the boat. Perhaps our intelligence was at TOO high a level.

As far as whether you believe that's plausible or not, the fact is that this used to happen during the Cold War all the time. The Russians used to ask us what their wheat harvests would be like because by the time the forecasts reached the Kremlin, they always said what they wanted to hear.

So really, totalitarian regimes tend to have _less_ information not more, because the information they get is only what they want to hear. One of the challenges in running a company for instance, is making sure you get the bad news.

Bottom line, conspiracies of silence are pretty easy to maintain, and are strangely, even easier in totalitarian regimes. It takes freedom to speak up and say "the emperor has no clothes".

A far more likely hypothesis has two parts (I'm cribbing-from and
paraphrasing Blix and, of all people, Harry Shearer (the voice of
Mr. Burns, on the Simpsons)):

1) Regionally, uncertainty about Saddam's military capabilities
   was worth a lot to him.   If his basic weakness were transparent,
   he'd have had trouble from neighbors and internally.

Yeah, according to the head of the council on foreign relations, one of the reasons we went into Iraq is that every Arab leader privately asked us to do something.

2) He didn't believe that the UN efforts were in good faith.  He had
   no credible positive incentive to come clean.

He was between a rock and a hard place and so I'll add my own (3):

3) He was probably accustomed to back-channel diplomacy and squeaking
   by with a wink and a nod.  He thought of himself as part of the
   "balance of power" in the region and thought that gave him more
   leverage than it really did.  Maybe he even _did_ come somewhat
   clean behind the scenes but was rudely interrupted by a cessation
   of those contacts.  That would explain how we had confidence that
   an invasion would succeed and why we embarked on a power-play to
   dispose of his regime.

  All of the above can be true, just add:

 4)  To back up his bluff, he had a number of WMD programs running in
various stages. Since building WMD is actually pretty difficult though,
few of them were as far along as we feared.


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