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

From: Tom Lord
Subject: Re: [Gnu-arch-users] Re: [OT] the poetry of donald rumsfeld
Date: Fri, 19 Mar 2004 13:07:29 -0800 (PST)

    > 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
    > done...

What you don't have in your workplace is management paying 3/10 people
to be informants plus, the threat of being caught at something meaning
that you will suffer torture and death.   I don't think you can
interpoloate from your corporate life to Iraq quite so glibbly.

    > 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...

But your hypothesis makes a leap from isolated events like that (if we
assume that they're credible reports) to an nation-wide
conspiracy.  If one lab is faking it -- ok -- but, all of them?   And,
if the conspiracy _were_ that wide, the resistence to invasion would
have looked different.   

Anyway -- if you're hypothesis were right, there'd be a paper trail.
We'd be seeing documents which are falsified progress reports from
these labs/facilities.  Iraqi people would be handing them out to BBC
reporters by now.  (Or, are you saying that the BBC is in on the same

Don't get me wrong.  He was a very unpopular guy and he didn't get a
heck of a lot of support during the invasion.   But I think you're
stretching it a bit to think he was so out of touch that he thought he
had WMD's when he didn't.    If _that_ could have been pulled off, it
would have been easier to just shoot him and 100 of his friends.

    >   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.

And, on the flip side, there's the Pentagon papers.   Yeah, sure --
the less advanced a gov't, the more that lies up the command tree
happen and matter.   No argument there.   But I think you are wildly
overreaching in your hypothesis that SH was _that_ far deceived.

    > 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.

Slow down there.   Lies happen and the Viet Nam experience illustrates
that they happen in what we can politely call a "free society" too.
You're making an unfounded leap to compare the various approaches to
information gathering that way.

More free societies do have one huge advantage at intelligence
gathering:  they tend to progress technically and economically
faster.  So, they have the best toys and the best analyists.

    >   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".

It'll be intersting if you're right.   I just don't buy it for a second.

    > >
    > > 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.

You talk about defectors and liars and all of that.

I think you can fix your hypothesis this way:

a) Our intelligence wasn't wrong.   We just lied about it.   

   We could get away with that because the _good_ intelligence
   was over very narrow channels (selected contacts in Iraqi labs,
   and the like).   Most of _our_ intel agencies were, in fact, 
   in the dark and producing wrong answers.    But the elite-best 
   intel ---  we knew Iraq had nothing.

b) Plenty of individuals w/in Iraq helped us bring Saddam down.

   You're right (I am guessing) that lots and lots of people wanted 
   to work against him.    

   I'm just saying that the (de facto) _coordination_ of those folks
   was not a grand conspiracy within Iraqi society ---- it all 
   came together externally, here in the US.

But, until we get the tapes from the bugs we planted in the WH, we'll
never know for sure.  So, enough of this for now, I guess, unless you
got something really interesting to add.


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