Hard News by Russell Brown

Read Post

Hard News: The Clamour to Cringe

98 Responses

First ←Older Page 1 2 3 4 Newer→ Last

  • Don Christie,

    and with all due respect, I don't give a shit about Australia.

    Maybe you should let all your mates over at Kiwiblog and in the National party know, Craig. With all due respect, of course.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1612 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    it's more likely to be an honest mistake than some sort of skulduggery (a view based purely on not much).

    Either way they are proving their complete unreliability as a source of information.

    I tend to think that intelligence agencies would be more prone than most institutions to groupthink. Academic communities thrive in a world of open information, repeatable discoveries and robust debate, but none of these is a possibility for the spook world. You're talking about information that is tainted by secrecy, political motives, monetary motives, torture, counter-intelligence, fear, ideology. Nothing about this lends itself to the truth being accessible.

    For instance, say this amazing intel is from some agent working in Iran? What's to say they aren't a double-agent? Or it's an Iranian double-agent that's been turned. Can we be sure they aren't a double-double-agent? Or perhaps it's just opportunists selling info to the highest bidder, who don't actually have any real intel at all. Maybe it's some covert team who have penetrated an abandoned nuke project? Who can say it just hasn't been moved?

    All I can see from the outside is a flipflop. It's an insult to my intelligence to suggest that it is the facts that have flipflopped. 1984 has been and gone. The fairest I could be is to say that they can't have been that certain in the first place.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8039 posts Report Reply

  • Neil Morrison,

    ...say this amazing intel is from some agent working in Iran? What's to say they aren't a double-agent?

    it does seem that that's what was initially thought - that the intercepted communications were a scam. Seems that's why the NIE publication was delayed - so they could verify the intelligence. It could still be that iran is gaming but it does appear that this was considered.

    But if the NIE is wrong then my guess is that this will all come out during the term of the next president who will most likely be a Dem with a More of the Carrot and Less of the Stick policy compared to Bush. Now if Iran is gaming this then just think what reponse such a president would make - most likely go back to more of the stick and for real this time.

    Since Nov 2006 • 932 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    It could still be that iran is gaming but it does appear that this was considered.

    The same comment applies before the "new information". It is quite possible that it's a game Iran is very good at. Given the flipflop I'd even say it's likely. Either they're good at hiding their weapons project, or they're good at hiding that they don't have one. I don't feel confident about either fact, and just conclude they are good at hiding stuff.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8039 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    For instance, say this amazing intel is from some agent working in Iran? What's to say they aren't a double-agent? Or it's an Iranian double-agent that's been turned. Can we be sure they aren't a double-double-agent? Or perhaps it's just opportunists selling info to the highest bidder, who don't actually have any real intel at all. Maybe it's some covert team who have penetrated an abandoned nuke project? Who can say it just hasn't been moved?

    You'd like to think that professional intelligence services with multi gazillion dollar budgets would be fairly good at sniffing such things out. Seeking other independent sources, physical evidence which backs up what they've been told. Just plain knowing when they've been lied to.

    Of course, you'd _like_ to think that, the reality of the American intelligence service over the past few years however...

    Since Nov 2006 • 6145 posts Report Reply

  • Michael Savidge,

    "Fuck!!" (in Persian of course)

    Iranians speak Farsi redneck...

    Somewhere near Wellington… • Since Nov 2006 • 310 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    "Fuck!!" (in Persian of course)

    Iranians speak Farsi redneck...

    I'm no expert on the topic, but at least according to Wikipedia you should check things out before you open your mouth. Particularly if you're going to be y'know, rude about it. Farsi and Persian seems to mean the same thing.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6145 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes,

    I have it on good authority that some people think that Iran is inhabited by cute pink fluffy bunnies. This information may, of course be wrong. Some of those bunnies may be vicious.
    On the other hand Iran might be developing nuclear power generation so as to conserve their stocks of oil for future generations and we can't have that can we? America has a right to plunder the wealth of other nations.

    The wireless north ;-) • Since Dec 2006 • 4454 posts Report Reply

  • Luke Williamson,

    "Well, there's still plenty to cringe about - and with all due respect, I don't give a shit about Australia. But it's also fair enough to give credit where credit's due."

    To hark right back to the beginning - couldn't agree more with this sentiment. I am so sick of hearing John Key/National/NZ Herald comparing us to Australia. Do they think that everyone in Aussie sits around comparing themselves and the latest statistics to NZ? The only real similarities between the countries are that we are somewhere in the South Pacific. Same goes for constant comparisons to how well Ireland is doing. Yeah! NZ is so like Ireland.
    I think NZ is a bloody interesting place to be right now - far enough away from the rest of the world to be doing our own thing, but close enough to export it if we need to.

    Warkworth • Since Oct 2007 • 234 posts Report Reply

  • James Bremner,

    Maybe things aren't going so badly after all?

    Tell that to all the dead people's families. In person. Make a tape, put it on You Tube. I'd really love to see it.

    You really ought to be making a request to Al Qaeda and Moqti et al terrorists & insurgents etc. to make a video on You Tube to apologize for the all the homicide bombings and murder and mayhem that they inflicted on Iraqis over the last few years. They killed, deliberately, a hell of a lot more people, and are thus responsible for the displacement etc, than the MNF killed, and any civilians the MNF killed, were killed by accident. There is no moral relativity there at all.

    NOLA • Since Nov 2006 • 341 posts Report Reply

  • Kracklite,

    Interesting podcast that may be pertinent to the Iran issue.

    It was part of a series of seminars on long term thinking by The Long Now Foundation

    Psychologist Philip Tetlock decided to start grading pundits and think tanks on the accuracy of their intelligence and predictions. Try here and scroll down to just above 2006. Blog summary here.

    Instead of saying, “I evidently had the wrong theory,” the
    experts declare, “It almost went my way,” or “It was the right
    mistake to make under the circumstances,” or “I’ll be proved right
    later,” or “The evilness of the enemy is still the main event here.”

    Tetlock’s summary: “Partisans across the opinion spectrum are
    vulnerable to occasional bouts of ideologically induced insanity.”
    He determined to figure out a way to keep score on expert political
    forecasts, even though it is a notoriously subjective domain
    (compared to, say, medical advice), and “there are no control groups
    in history.”

    Heh.

    In a nutshell, the narrower one's terms of reference, the less likely you are to be right. It was not a case of liberals or conservatives proving to be right, rather those who tended to be contrarian against their own inclinations and to qualify achieved better results overall. Simplistic, ideologically-driven assessments tended to be right only in the sense that a stopped clock is right eventually.

    The CIA's caution and the Bush administration's certainty now is discussed, and compared with that of the more rabid cold warriors when the Soviet Union neared its collapse.

    The whole series of seminars, and the Foundation's intent, I think many will agree, is fascinating in its own right.

    The Library of Babel • Since Nov 2007 • 955 posts Report Reply

  • James Bremner,

    While the Iranian regime, Iraq and the US are the big winners from the new NIE, the big losers are the Iranian people who will have to continue to suffer under a brutal regime that over the last 27 years has killed 4,000 people, solely because they were gay, amongst a litany of other brutal acts and oppression against Iranians.

    After the fiascos of not just missing 9/11 and then the Iraqi wmd NIE estimates, but missing Pakistan and India's nuke bomb programs, you would hope that the CIA etc really got their act together for this NIE on Iran. I read that the latest NIE was the product of over 1,000 pieces of reporting and intelligence, not just one or several items of inteligence, so one lives in hope.

    And..

    "Fuck!!" (in Persian of course)

    Iranians speak Farsi redneck...

    I'm no expert on the topic, but at least according to Wikipedia you should check things out before you open your mouth. Particularly if you're going to be y'know, rude about it. Farsi and Persian seems to mean the same thing.

    Cheers Kyle!!

    NOLA • Since Nov 2006 • 341 posts Report Reply

  • Danyl Mclauchlan,

    Cheers Kracklite - I've listened to a few of the long now seminars (mostly the singularity ones) but missed that one. Downloading it now . . .

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 894 posts Report Reply

  • Neil Morrison,

    I had a quick look at the Long Now site (only quick so the following observations could be wrong).

    It seems to be a sort of psychological/political equivalent of the Slow Food movement. Which is something I'd support. But a few of questions.

    Is this anything new? The idea that there are trade-offs between the short-term and long-term is hardly new. A lot of the conflicts in politics revolve around this issue and it's not because politicians are unfamiliar with this that problems arise, it's more that it's always a difficult dilemma to solve. Health funding is a classic example - the split between longer term prevention programmes and the need to deal with sickness now.

    And, how does this help with dealing with the remaining authoritarian regimes? If all nations were democracies than a Long Now form of diplomacy would make sense - and is in fact the sort of thing that goes on between democracies. But is it really something that can translate to dealing with people like Mugabe in every circumstance?

    It's not like the conflict that sparked this discusion is between the US and France or Australia and NZ.

    Since Nov 2006 • 932 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    The NIE report wasn't that much of a surprise ...

    **US report confirms Iran 'no imminent danger': IAEA official**
    A US intelligence report saying Iran halted its nuclear weapons programme four years ago confirms the UN atomic watchdog's assessment that Tehran represents "no imminent danger", a senior IAEA official said Tuesday.

    The report "validates the (International Atomic Energy Agency's) statements over the last years that inspectors have found no concrete evidence of an undeclared nuclear weapons programme in Iran," said the official, who declined to be identified.

    The report also validates IAEA head Mohamed ElBaradei's assessment "that he has not seen an imminent danger and that there is ample time for negotiations," the official added.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 17977 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    While the Iranian regime, Iraq and the US are the big winners from the new NIE, the big losers are the Iranian people who will have to continue to suffer under a brutal regime that over the last 27 years has killed 4,000 people, solely because they were gay, amongst a litany of other brutal acts and oppression against Iranians.

    I'm not sure about the 4000 claim -- it's an unverified 1996 estimate by one group, often repeated -- but there is no doubting the people ultimately in charge of the place are ogres.

    But even the Bush cultists weren't actually talking about overthrowing the regime: just conducting bombing raids on specific targets. So the NIE estimate just doesn't imply what you suggest.

    Look at the justifications for the Iraq invasion then consider the impact: 600,000 dead, four million refugees, the destruction of civil society (in large part in favour of tribalism and Islamic extremism) and then consider the wisdom of war.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 17977 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd,

    So if there's no concrete evidence of an undeclared nuclear weapons programme. how will the US know where to bomb?

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2906 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    So if there's no concrete evidence of an undeclared nuclear weapons programme. how will the US know where to bomb?

    No it's OK. They have smart bombs. They'll know where to explode.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6145 posts Report Reply

  • Terence Wood,

    You really ought to be making a request to Al Qaeda and Moqti et al terrorists & insurgents etc. to make a video on You Tube to apologize for the all the homicide bombings and murder and mayhem that they inflicted on Iraqis over the last few years. They killed, deliberately, a hell of a lot more people, and are thus responsible for the displacement etc, than the MNF killed, and any civilians the MNF killed, were killed by accident. There is no moral relativity there at all.

    And I for one would like to thank you James for your tireless work in providing us with tidy, succinct summaries of the conservative talking points of the day. It saves me from having to surf over that side of the fence and for this I am grateful.

    As for the "dead Iraqis, well that ain't our fault, that was the terrirists" argument, that's just plane silly. For a start, according to most reliable stats, a significant proportion of the dead have been killed by our weapons (and if you believe all of this was accidental then honestly I don't know where to begin). Secondly, we created the conditions that caused all this killing. This doesn't exculpate Al Qadea etc for their acts but at the same time surely it leaves some of the blood on our hands.

    We poured the petrol. We lit the match. And you want to blame the flames.

    Now, given the outcome of the invasion of Iraq, tell me again do you really think that invading Iran will make things better for the people there. And that if it doesn't, if we go ahead and invade knowing what we know and it turns to hell, that we won't deserve some of the blame.

    Since Nov 2006 • 148 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    To hark right back to the beginning - couldn't agree more with this sentiment. I am so sick of hearing John Key/National/NZ Herald comparing us to Australia.

    My point, Luke, was more that if you're stuck in a poorly resourced school with a barely competent teacher, it's pretty cold comfort to say "well, its worse in Australia." That may well be true - and I'm not saying looking at overseas successes and failures is a bad thing, as long as you don't think you can just pick up something that plays well in Broken Bottle, WA, drop it on Whykickamoocow High and expect to instantly get the same result. But I'd rather not see kids who don't get a second go at an education being used as lab rats, or reduced to a data point in a research paper.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 11621 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    to be sure, but given that this latest NIE on Iran is substantially different to that in 2005 it does suggest they have based this on what they believe to be good new intelligence.

    Or to be quite cynical, Neil, Captiol Hill is also substantially different from what it was in 2005. And I have fairly reliable intelligence there will also be a new tenant at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. in just over a year.

    You can argue that if US intelligence agencies were half as good at intelligence as they are at domestic politiciking and prosecuting turf wars they'd be truly formidable.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 11621 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    James, you may not have grasped my point. You said things aren't going so bad in Iraq. My point was that your observation depends entirely on whether you are the one who got killed, or had their family killed or kidnapped or bombed or any number of totally shit things which are daily life in Iraq, or whether you are sitting behind a keyboard in New Orleans not giving a shit. I suggest you are in the latter category, and that if you went to Iraq and tried to tell people that things weren't so bad, it would make fun viewing on YouTube. In fact, I suggest that if you did video it, Al Qaeda would do everything in their power to get that footage to air. It might seem rather gruesome to your relatives, they might get a wee taste of what your idea of "It's not so bad" is like.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8039 posts Report Reply

  • Tony Kennedy,

    "Iran is inhabited by cute pink fluffy bunnies"

    This calls for the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch ... or does that only work with white ones?

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 218 posts Report Reply

  • Andrew Smith,

    The situation in Iraq is obviously getting. There are a number of more hopeful signs coming from there, including this BBC report: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/7089168.stm. Yes, it's hard to tell people who have lost loved ones, but if this positveness there continues, it's got to be good news for the region. Whether you agree or disagree with the way it has come about.

    As for Iran, the latest NIE Report stated that they halted their nuclear weapons programme in 2003. This after Iran saying they never had one in the first place. So Ahmadinejad has been telling untruths for years.

    Since Jan 2007 • 150 posts Report Reply

  • Neil Morrison,

    Or to be quite cynical...

    from such a distance it's pretty hard not to be but I still think that one can sift thru the various more reliable info sources and get an impression of what's going on.

    The LA Times has Anatomy of an about-face on Iran which appears to be a straight analysis. Of course the spooks could still be wrong and there is definitely an attempt to make up for past mistakes - which even such fierce critics of Bush as Simon Tisdall think might turn out to swingin to far the other way.

    But it does look like the Buch admin accepts the NIE assesment at face value - it may turn out ot be wrong - but it looks like setting up a situation for more negotiation. If it is wrong then that will most likely playout in the next presidency and then the possiblity of millitary action will be much higher.

    Interestingly the Guardian in British spy station played role in US U-turn on Iran reports

    ...contrary to the speculation among bloggers about mutiny by the intelligence community, the president retains control over whether and when the estimates are published.

    Since Nov 2006 • 932 posts Report Reply

First ←Older Page 1 2 3 4 Newer→ Last

Post your response…

Please sign in using your Public Address credentials…

Login

You may also create an account or retrieve your password.