Wednesday Open Thread 2

Wow. My skepticism meter (as well as my penchant for looking at tide and moon charts for the coming military action) just went off the charts.  This article says:
April 12 (Bloomberg) -- Iran, defying United Nations Security Council demands to halt its nuclear program, may be capable of making a nuclear bomb within 16 days, a U.S. State Department official said.

Iran will move to ``industrial scale'' uranium enrichment involving 54,000 centrifuges at its Natanz plant, the Associated Press quoted deputy nuclear chief Mohammad Saeedi as telling state-run television today.

Sweet. Discuss.
Louisiana parish may hire ex-FEMA director

Fired after Katrina chaos, Michael Brown may do consulting for St. Bernard

I had to laugh at that one...but oh boy if this uranium enrichment thing turns out to be true. Iran really has become our nemesis, and we have overplayed our hand at every opportunity. It isn't just a coincidence that they have chosen our moment of weakness to force the issue--they are well aware that the US public has no stomach for the Iraq War, much less another one. As for the hopes of some in the administration who think an air war a la Kosovo would be feasible, let's just say I've got some news headlines for them, and none of them are good.  Those of us who stand to profit from higher oil prices are in high cotton these days...  
General Shwartkopf said in 1991 that the thing that made Saddam such easy prey was his utter predictability. Shoe's on the other foot this time.
...they are well aware that the US public has no stomach for the Iraq War, much less another one.
Well, I think you are wrong on this one. It is true that the public has turned on the Iraq war and the president that they enthusiastically supported at the outset. But in their glassy-eyed stupor, Americans stupefyingly already do support a military assault on Iran, 48% to 40% (see most recent LA Times poll here. And this is before the economy has experienced major shocks from fossil fuel depletion. It's frightening to contemplate what Good Americans might get behind when depletion really starts to bite in 5 or 10 years. In Germany before the war, many smart people left before the SHTF. The same thing is just starting to happen here and will accelerate if the US starts another war. An obvious problem is that the world is more 'full' now than it was then...
This "job interview" was a slightly sadistic (BUT justified) tease for a starving Mr. Brown.

We in New Orleans, are not down with Mr. Brown.  We are glad that he is out of town !

Yeah, I kind of figured this was the case. I couldn't imagine him being hired. Haven't really been watching TV this week, did this story get any play down your way? I almost fell over when I saw this story.
Just wondering if anyone else had to laugh when they saw the EIA's mendacious prediction of summer gas prices in the US. C%7D&siteid=mktw

In this report, the EIA predicts gasoline prices will average $2.62 through the summer driving season.  Prices are already a full 10 cents above this price and the summer driving season doesn't start for 6 or 7 more weeks!

I imagine even the $9.50/hour government office staff person with a GED who had to type this report for his/her boss recognized the absurdity of the prediction and rolled their eyes when they were given the task.

You are correct - I had the exact same reaction.  $2.62 average price this summer?  HUH?  We are there NOW!  Hello?  Oh wait - we were there last Friday.  Today we plowed right through that average price on upward.  We are headed for $3.00 a gallon average - just a matter of time.  Who wants to bet which week?
I guess I might have to gas up next week, I'm sure I'll be paying $3 or more.
And it will stay there, for the most part. I'll go ahead and predict $3+/gallon gas by year's end as well.  Historically speaking (over the last several years), average gas price at the pump are up by 1/3rd year over year.
I don't care what the "national average" is at the moment, our "city average" is $2.75.  And as everyone has pointed out, it isn't yet 'driving season' for us.

I put 'driving season' in quotes because our town happens to have the only Sam's Wholesale and Super Wal-Mart for a fifty mile radius.  On any given day you can see their parking lots packed with large vehicles and being loaded with a week or three worth of groceries and other supplies.  Or drive across town to the co-op and see the F350's getting a pallet of feed or fertilizer.  We drive here - a lot.  

It just gets worse after the kids get out of school and everyone hits the road to go escape the heat for a while.

So if it's only $3.00 before any hurricanes strike the GOM I'll be thankful.

For my own personal budgeting, I'm assuming $3, starting in a month or so, and staying there until whatever happens later this year (hurricanes, war, etc.).
Applaud the use of the word "mendacious" to describe the EIA and its predictions...thanks for elevating the discourse.
Yeah, 16 days.  The Iranians can just run off 54,000 centrifuges tomorrow using their replicators.  Is it too much to ask that the government doesn't insult my intelligence when they lie to me?
But we've know about the Natanz plant for at least four years now:
Natanz - From Wikipedia
In 2002, whistleblower Alireza Jafarzadeh revealed that the existence of a secret nuclear facility designed to enrich uranium extracted from the Yazd province using centrifuge technology.



... the Agency environmental sampling at Natanz revealed the presence of two types of highly enriched uranium;

... I have submitted for the record a paper by an Iranian expatriate, Alireza Jafarzadeh, who at one time was the Washington representative of a dissident organization based in London, the National Council of Resistance of Iran, which was the organization which disclosed much of what we have learned about the covert nuclear facilities in Iran.

I think the headline of the story is seriously misleading.  What Rademaker is actually quoted as saying is that once they have all 50,000 centrifuges installed and working then it will take them 16 days to produce enough uranium for each bomb.  That's 23/year.  Doesn't sound wildly implausible.  The headline makes it sound like he's saying they could have a bomb in 2 1/2 weeks from now, but that's really not what he said at all.  I believe they only have 180 centrifuges now, so they have to first buy or make the rest of them and get them all working.

I put a high value on your calm, collected and rational attitude to the whole peak oil issue. I think we need to stick as closely as possible to 'facts' 'rationaliy' and 'empiricism' as we can. TOD is really good at this part. However, I do believe, in the threads, we're allowed to 'speculate' as much as we like about the consequences of peak oil, and when we think the peak might come. The criticism and 'review' here is valuable, people have so many interesting insights and so much knowlegde. It's an interesting and ultimately constructive debate climate which I admire and value. Especially, in these times, I find this aspect of TOD close to inspiring. Though, it can, in these times, make one feel slightly nostalgic for what we appear to be losing.

I think we're really going to need to keep our feet firmly planted on the ground in the coming months, and try to hold on to our critical faculties and rationality, in the face of waves of war propaganda and war hysteria. We all need to try to remain as calm and unemotional as possible, or we risk being engulfed and swept along with the tide.

I know this is really difficult when all around us are losing their heads in the possible rush to war. It's also difficult not to become emotional and angry when faced with political leaders who apparently thrive on manipulation and lying to us. Can they really get away with it again? The thought almost beggars belief!

As far as I understand it Iran is a long way from developing a real nuclear weapon, years at least. The recent announcement about enriching uranium, does not mean they have the ability to produce highly enriched or weapons grade uranium any time soon. Apparently they have produced a very small quantity of low level enriched uranium 5% for use as fuel in a commercial nuclear power reactor: weapons grade is something else, over 80%. So there's a long way to go. But do most people understand these important differences? Aren't we reliant on our leaders not to lie to us? Given the appaling track record of the current administration in this area, aren't we right to be both highly sceptical, wary, and deeply nervous about where they are leading us? I think we are right to feel nervous.

President Bush missed an opportunity to catagorically deny that the United States was considiring military action against Iran and the possible use of nuclear weapons. He called Hersh's piece 'wild speculation'. But that was precisely what Hersh was writing about, 'wild speculation' in the Whitehouse about the possible nature of an attack on Iran. Bush did not, as far as I am aware, rule this out or take it off the table. Surely this is the very core of the 'debate' that Seymour Hersh has been writing about. What exactly is still on the table? Bush's statement appears, at least to me, to actually support and corroborate Hersh's story, and that should make us all sit up and take notice, no? Or am I being unfair when I read and understand Bush's words in this way?

That the spinmeisters and administration PR folks did not call Hersh's claims patently false implies instead that there is an element of truth there. Saying he is speculating, but not calling the speculation false implies that there is truth to it.
Stuart and all TOD posters.

I haven't even read all the threads here yet but see that most people have picked up on the 54,000 centrifuges.

I heard this quoted on NPR (which I usually trust) "as Iran having 54,000 centrifuges".  I laughed out loud and told my car pool companion that is totally impossible.  Centrifuges capable of seperating two isotopes of uranium are not like your standard lab centrifuge used for general science.  I doubt there are 54,000 centrifuges in Europe and the U.S. capable of seperating uranium isotopes.  Somebody please find some numbers to prove my ignorance!?

Anyway, Stuart and other posters are right that this smacks of propaganda of the worst sort to convince people quick military action is the only solution.  I reject that thought process and and want a more rational approach to diplomacy.  And the posters are also right that the 54,000 number will be picked up by the MSM and repeated until it becomes the "truth" which is then hard to debunk.

I am ashamed for my country that we use such blatant propaganda to further political ends.  We are supposed to be based on truth and ethical foundations.  We are far astray of our founding principles.  This behavior needs to be labelled for what it is in the press and the other branches of government while we still have the freedom to do so.

  If you look at the imagery in the two links following you will see dates of August and Sept 2002. Note two things.

   First, these are commercially available images. US satellite recon capabilities are classified but James Bamford has suggested US satellites can resolve an object the size of a basketball. Given this fact, it is difficult to see how a nation could hide anything much less a construction site the size of 250,000 acres.

   Second, it is clear from the imagery that construction has been taking place for some time. The roofs of the two centrifuge halls appear to be in the process of being covered over with dirt. Given that you would first have had to excavate the hole, then prepare and pour the foundation, let that firm up, pour the supports, pour the roof and let that set up, I suspect this construction had been underway and visible for over a year prior to the summer of 2002.

   So why did the Administration wait until 6 months before the November elections to raise a fuss? Why did they wait until the construction had been completed and then go after a hardened target? Why did they waste 2,300 American lives and 17,000 wounded in a nation with no WMD when the real thing was taking place next door?

read the label on the basketball.
"Made in China"

 "Oil CEO was here"
Nice one. You found me out. I'm a friggin' celebrity now. Never mind the Bullocks! Here come the Sex Pistols!

I'm off to war,


Just suppose you wanted to take out I-raq and I-ran..which order would you have tackled them?

It all seems to follow a logical path [to an unpleasant conclusion] to me.

cheers all

I recall Iraqi expats testifying about Saddam's WMD. Who ya gonna believe?
But really its a much better lie than the various missing WMD's in Iraq, The U.S. can just point to some smoking hole in the ground and say "yep, thats where the secret centrifuge program bunker was before we blew it up, trust us, it was there, but sadly the nuclear blast turned all the evidence to plasma, oh and by the way since we nuked it rather than using conventional bombs there is no way of telling if it is radioacive from the bombing, or because there were tons of U6 already there.
On the subject of lying, I would suggest that both you and TJ go back and reread the article. If there is a lie could you please explain what it is for the apparently less observant.
I did not mean to suggest that the article was a lie, but that the use of imminent nuclear weapons production as an excuse for attacking Iran is harder to disprove after the fact than the tons of "missing" WMD (chem/bio/nuclear) not found in Iran would be.

It is a point of debate as to if Iran seeks nuclear weapons (my guess is that they do, but my guess is of no value), what is not is that they seek nuclear power (The Russians are building the reactor). So, there are 2 things you could do with a large collection of centrifuges, create a small amount of bomb grade fuel quickly, or a much larger amount of reactor grade fuel in the same time.

The question of which of these paths was being followed could be answered by IEA inspections, just as inspections showed that Iraq had dismantelled its WMD program prior to the invasion. It is thus in the US interest to get the IEA thrown out of Iran while the jury is still out on which way they are going.

"may be capable of making a nuclear bomb within 16 days,"

Sure, may.  May can go from a probability of 0 (no way) to 1 (yes).  

I "may" be capable of building a nuclear bomb in 16 days. Indeed, I could say with a straight face that even my 12 year old nephew "may" be able to build a plasma proton cutter in 16 days.
  I "may" capable of betting on the right horse winning the triple crown.
   However, I seriously doubt all these things, including Iran building a nuclear weapon in 16 days, is going to happen.
   Something is rotten in the state of the Union, and the stink is coming right out of the oval office.

               Subkommander Dred

The article doesn't say very much at all. Iran "will move to" uranium enrichment using 54,000 centrifuges. Do they have 54,000 centrifuges? Article doesn't say. Iranian spokesman doesn't say. So when will this "move" come off? 2012? Nobody says. Wow. If they had 50,000 centrifuges they could make enough enriched uranium for a bomb in 16 days. If we had some ham and some eggs, we could have ham and eggs. And after the 16 days, would they then be able to make a bomb? Nobody says. Enriched uranium is not a bomb. This is hype, probably from both sides.

I have to admit I don't know why the Iranians should be helping BushCo to promote a war. Looks like a lousy bluff.

That is incorrect.  A nuclear weapon can be traced to its source.  So if someone steals nuclear fuel from US and claim it came from Russia, you can prove it was from US.
". . . may be capable . . ."

The Cubs may become world champions in 2006.
I may win the Nobel Prize in Economics for my brilliant TOD posts;-)

Publisher's Clearing House truthfully says, "YOU may be a winner!"

Why pay any attention at all to empty statements?

Why pay any attention at all to empty statements?

Because sometimes empty stat6ems are uesed as justification for an attack.

  1. The statement said "16 days", not the "next 16 days."

  2. The statement about 54,000 centrifuges came from an Iranian. He didn't say they had them or were planning on building them tomorrow.

The State Department official, doing the math, figured that with 54,000 centrifuges, the Iranians could produce enough weapons grade material for a bomb in a 16 day period.

It is easy misinterpret the article and then draw other mistaken conclusions based on this misinterpretation.

The article is written in such a way that it is meant to be misinterpreted.
I'm assuming you know this because you wrote it. Seriously, I'm not even sure it can be considered an article. It is basically a newsflash thrown together in the fashion that Bloomberg utilizes, which is just stringing together the latest soundbites with some other quotes from notables and rapping up with what amounts to cut-and-paste recent history from Bloomberg articles on the same topic yesterday.

I don't think anything was intended or "meant" in the sense that you describe.

Rather than argue with you, I will just repost the headline:

"Iran Could Produce Nuclear Bomb in 16 Days, U.S. Says"

and you can explain why most people who quickly glance at this will think this means 16 days from some point 5 years from today when they are completely ramped up, rather than 16 days from today.

As I note below, the article is of course technically correct.

But most people aren't quickly glancing at it and necessarily thinking this.

Most likely they are:

a) On the Bloomberg site, in which case they are most likely an intelligent observer on a specialized financial website.


b) They have been led to it by a Google search, in which case they were specifically targeting the information. In this case also they are probably intelligent and can make up their own minds just like you or I.

I read it, It didn't make me any more or less alarmed than I might or might not be. I'm grateful for the information.

The only thing we are all doing here discussing this thing is adding to the hysteria. How many potential fractions of a penny did we add to tomorrow's price of oil?

I would say that bloomberg gets quoted by Joe blow and the Other media can pick up with the headline and go and make news on it.  Why do we have 6 months of news about a guy that might have killed his wife and unborn baby?  Or any of the other stories that make it into MSM about things.  While We have to all agree that 164 Uranium purifers might be bad, and that if they had 54,000 of them they could make a nuke in 16 days.  We have to agree that they at present do not pocess the devices capable to make one, in so short a time.  But that did not prevent MSM, which Bloomberg is for anyone who sees the news about Iran, from making a sound bite into a white whale sighting.

What most people are trying to say is that Bloomberg should have used a different bit of headline writting.  The average news reader only reads the headlines.   Granted if we post on this site or others we are likely not average, but the rest of the country is considered the average reader.

No, this headline is the point (and the lie).  It will be picked up and repeated ad nausium, and with every repeat less of the qualifying info will be attached.  The targeted consumer of this "product" does not have the skills or interest in evaluating it, so even such gross misrepresentation will be effective.  The fact that it comes from Bloomberg will only make people think it's more serious, as that sounds like an important source.

Thus do they prepare the way.

I should qualify that comment - it's not assured that this particular attempt will "stick" - not every one works.  But there will be more, and the volume of this kind of crap is part of how I guage what is coming.

Just look at how many people still believe Iraq had some connection to 9/11, and ask why do they believe that?

Orwell once warned about a future where lies becoming truth and truth becoming lies.  We're nearly there.
Oh pulleeeeeeeeeeze, Oil CEO! You arguments strain belief and if I may say so, have your head in the sand on this one. Most people I know including my wife and I who the read the New York Times every day, do not study the articles with significant time or depth. Yup, sometime we don't read to the end - dogs and cats need to go out; kids need help wtih homework, a client or parishioner calls, etc. You know as well as anyone here how misleading the statement is.

My comment above is clearly not about New York Times readers. As for your last sentence, my response to anything that I find  dubious/interesting/potentially misleading is to read the rest of the details carefully.

But most people aren't quickly glancing at it and necessarily thinking this.

With all due respect, but on which planet do you live?

On my planet most people will start talking that Iran will have the bomb in 16 days (oh, wait wasn't it 6 days?), because their neighbour's cousin read that in the newspaper.

Again, see comment above to Fletcher. My statement only pertains to this Bloomberg article and the people reading it. Not some fictitious neighbor's cousin and their newspaper.
I think you have too rosy preconception for the people reading Bloomberg.

The other thing is that this article and the "16 days" nonsense are going to be quoted in numerous places exactly because of the presumable credibility of Bloomberg. The article is a fine example of how government propaganda works - some government official says some politically motivated half-truth, the media gets the signal and presents it in the correct light. Thus if you dig into it nobody ever lied, but if you interview the people that received the message, most of them will have gotten the politically correct part of it.

The other thing is that this article and the "16 days" nonsense are going to be quoted in numerous places exactly because of the presumable credibility of Bloomberg.

That remains to be seen. I'm going to hold you to this, although you may have to clarify what you mean by "numerous places." I'm assuming you mean other articles and stories, not  your neighbor's cousin's weekly, international-events chit-chat hour ;-)

Oil Ceo, I think you're beat on this one. Better find another battle, you've lost this one.

LevinK, apparently the folks at CounterPunch saw it the same way most here do:
"The lizards are cornered. Already we see shrill headlines like this one, "Iran Could Produce Nuclear Bomb in 16 Days, U.S. Says."
Never mind that Iran would need 50,000 centrifuges to produce enough enriched uranium. The fine print: it would take 13 years using the 164 centrifuges they currently possess."

The headline is misleading. I cannot help but likens it to the 1964 Gulf of Tonkin incident in which an exaggerated North Vietnamese attack on a U.S. ship prompted Congress to authorize President Johnson to expand the Vietnam War.

IMO, people quickly understood this one was too much and will try to shrug off the article below the carpet. I am almost sure somebody at Bloomberg will have a tough day today.

The main point remains though - there is a propaganda machine working restlessly against Iran... And also it is true that most people read just the headline and skim through the article.

I thought you weren't going to comment. Couldn't resist, huh.

This story just broke. Let's give it a week and then see what the buzz is about 16 days? You guys have too much time on your hands and I think you are just a tad bit too excited about this one ;-)

I'd like to ask you to keep your side comments for yourself. This is an oil&energy discussion blog and your personal remarks do not score you many points.
Excuse me? What the hell is that supposed to mean. That comment was for you from me pertaining to our discussion here. Did I miss something? Also, I didn't realize we were keeping score.
If you have a problem with what you consider personal remarks, then I suggest you use your scroll bar, move above this one 10 or 12 comments and see if you can find any similar ones that you and others have leveled at me.

Notice the little smiley face at the end of my last post.I suppose my biggest mistake was trying to discuss this on some type of friendly level.

Your comments do not show "friendliness" but not very well covered sense of superiority. As though you are saying 'what do you know...' all the time. I don't feel the necessity to bring here your previous posts, since if you don't feel it, it hardly makes any sense.

Trust me, I have a good sense of humor and I can see when someone is joking and when not quite...

That's fine Levin, if you feel that way, however you are wrong when you suggest my motives weren't true. I am always leery of anything followed by the words,"Trust me."

I wasn't joking, I rarely if ever use these little "emoticons," I think you call them. I thought it was a way of diffusing the possibility that what was said would be taken too seriously or mistaken for anger or bad intentions. It didn't work. I'm saddened by the fact you think I was using it as deception.

And I am still confused as to why you felt the need to lecture me that this was an oil&energy website when we were both discussing a piece on Iran in an open thread clearly devoted to that very article. The record will show that I certainly don't have any problem discussing either here nor advocating that others do the same more often.

I have tried hard to conduct this debate in a civil manner, but sometimes it is frustrating when you are getting hit by seventeen other people. I still feel your outburst was uncalled for.

Interesting... I see places like yahoo have first placed, then removed the link to the article from their news pages.

Probably everyone already realised this is too manipulative (no conspiracy here, I just suppose they have better editors). Anyway I stick to my words - if not only for this article concretely, then the rest of the anti-Iranian histeria presented in the media is evident.

Casus Belli, my friend, casus belli.
Hm... my personal opinion is that beating the war drum for Iran makes a wonderful favour for the neocons. Thus when it becomes evident they will not attack Iran all those that argued against war will appear idiots and Chicken Little's (again).

We are utterly underestimating Bush & Co in this game... do you think they will voluntary put the rope around their collective necks and then kick the barrel? All this propaganda is about intimidating Iran and suppressing opposition at home before the mid-term elections. Period.

mark 12:09
Oil CEO, why are you in denial? The article is clearly propaganda to justify blowing up Iran.
I am truly honored to be the subject of your first post ever on The Oil Drum. On behalf of everyone here, I extend a warm welcome. I have always been a huge fan of your work.

Margaret Thatcher

I also have not seen any retractions or clarifications.


Oil CEO -

I have read the entire article, and while technically the 54,000 centrifuges producing enough enriched uranium in 16 days is presented as an IF/THEN proposition, my impression of the way it was written is that it was deliberatedly meant to alarm.

Further down in the article it gets more into the realm of reality when it states that with its current 164 centrifuges it would take Iran 13 years to produce the required amount. It also states that Iran might be planning to eventually install some 3,000 centrifuges next year, in which case the production time would be 271 days.

The very notion of 54,000 specially constructed centrifuges somehow suddenly appearing is so totally preposterous as to be not worth discussing. Consider this: if each centrifuge and its associate piping and pumps, etc, occupied a 5 ft x5 ft floor space (in reality probably much more), then you would need over 31 acres under roof for such a facility.

Furthermore, who on earth has the capability of manufacturing 54,000 centrifuges of special design and materials of construction in any reasonable amount of time or at reasonable cost?  You could probably convert the largest auto plant in the US to manufacturing nothing but centrifuges for Iran and you probably would still need several years to produce that many centrifuges. This notion is a total fiction intended to alarm .... just some more war propaganda, nothing else.

Centrifuges aren't cheap either.  54,000 centrifuges would cost billions.  Simply starting up 54,000 centrifuges would take months.

 And where do you get the power to run these things? US WWII production was in the area of the Tenessee Valley Project and in Hanford to use power generated from the Columbia River.

 At present Iran is importing gasoline. To run a major centrifuge hall (the bomb every 16 days production line) they will require a massive electrical capacity. And if they build this electrical system it will be both visible and extremely vulnerable to air attack.

 The fact that no relevant data is being presented to the American people leads one in the belief that this is a re-run of the mis-information presented in the lead up to the attack on Iraq. Since when did the American electorate become nothing more than mushrooms?

The mis-information is in the headline. The article is relevant data. Your statement starting,"The fact...," is therefore not a fact.

While I agree with your first two paragraphs, I feel that the last one is opinion-laden, speculative nonsense. But I mean no disrespect, I enjoy having this discussion with you.

 My sentence commencing "The fact that no relevant data . . ." is not a reference to either the information contained in the article, or the article headline.

 We have a situation which has the potential to impact not just Iran, and not just America, but the entire world.

 Leave aside for a minute the issues associated with any nuclear strike. This board has been debating for months the potential impact of Peak Oil and the degree to which these impacts are either not understood, or are not more widely debated. I suspect the majority would agree that there is a strong probability of Peak Oil in the near term. The potential cascade of negative effects is sufficentley severe that it is unwise to discount this probability and highly prudent to examine potential mitigation and response.

To speak of striking Iran is irresponsible if you have not already taken steps to mitigate or prepare for Peak Oil. No nation has yet been bombed into submission; all of the available evidence is to the contrary, that bombing increaes the sense of social solidarity and focuses the survivors on retribution. Look at the impact of 9/11 on the United States. George II went from a "failed presidency" at 50% approval to "greatness" and 85% approval within the space of few weeks. The American peopel were lead into acts of agression which not only make no sense in terms of US interests and a coherent foreign policy, they also made no sense from a purely military perspective and have been the subject of recent critique by three senior officers.

 You are fortunate to live in a country which enshirines as its basic principles a set of self evident truths that apply not just to the citizens of America but to all peoples. And I include in that the Iranian people. And I include in that Mr Ahmadinejad however demented he may appear. That your founders were willing to make such bold statement and undertake such revolutionary experiment has been a source of continued inspiration to peoples across the globe.

In any democracy the citizens get exactly the government they deserve. People should not be afraid of their government; the government should be afraid of the people. One of your founding fathers said that. You need to work to make it true.  You need to grab your rifle in one hand and your pitchfork in the other and pay a visit to your represtative in Washington and express to him the fact your way of life may be coming to an end, that the executive is not respecting the constitution, and ask him what he intends to do about it. You can inform him that that same constitution gives you the right to bear arms so you can be given an accurate and straightforward explanation. At that point put your blunderbuss in his gut and what for him to splutter out his intentions. This is the relevant data that I referred to at the start of this post and it is this relevant data that I feel is both missing and sorely needed.

Well said, sir!
Great post.
Got my rifle. Looking for my pitchfork.
US WWII enrichment used a different technology, membrane diffusion, so you really can't compare the power requirements
Based on the well-known principle that molecules of a lighter isotope would pass through a porous barrier more readily than molecules of a heavier one, gaseous diffusion produced through myriads of repetitions a gas increasingly rich in uranium-235 as the heavier uranium-238 was separated out in a system of cascades. Although producing minute amounts of final product measured in grams, gaseous diffusion required a massive facility to house the hundreds of cascades and consumed enormous amounts of electric power.

John, I stand corrected. During WWII three methods were used: 1) gaseous diffusion; 2) electromagnetic separation; 3)liquid thermal diffusion.

The basic point, that running a production cascade of 3,000 or 54,000 machines will require substantial amounts of power, remains accurate.

For sure, and I was wrong, the Gas diffusion plants were set up after the war, during the war the US used electromagnetic enrichment (Calutrons) which were abandoned in '46 This was not meant as a critique of your content, just a bit of history, more than 1 way to seperate an isotope ;-)
In Nuclear News, the Amelo centrifuge plant manager said he used more electricity for the parking lot lights than for the centrifuges. Power cost is very low for centrifuges. Enrichment costs are pretty much all technology and manufacturing.
Why not say they could with 864,000 centrifuges make a bomb tomorrow?

  With 1,728,000 centrifuges it may have been ready yesterday. Seems a reasonable claim. Just a question of doing the math.
Whether Bloomberg is looking for site hits or beating the war drums, there is no doubt that this headline is purposefully alarmist.
It's not only alarmist, the headline propagates the Iran-bomb meme, so that whenever we hear "Iran," we think "nuke." And I find it hard to believe that Oil CEO really believes that the "convinceables" in our culture are the same folks who read to the bottom of the article. Ever seen the stats on Americans' average daily news consumption? Omitting sports, it's measured in seconds per day.
So what are you saying? That millions of Americans are just blowing through a couple dozen headlines a day? If it really is only seconds, then you have nothing to worry about, they would never have seen that one. Who's being alarmist here? Your comment on the "convinceables" smacks of needless elitism. For starters, try convincing me.
Sorry, not to offend. We are the elites here, btw, because we're not glued to American Idol. It's not my job to convince, only to inform, and yes, I meant what I said; US per capita median news consumption is measured in seconds per day.
Fair enough. However is that seconds of TV or newspaper or internet news? These are important distinctions.

I just flipped through the channels for 20 minutes. BBC, CNN, MSNBC, Fox, Local. Saw maybe four or five pieces on Iran, including a silly bit just now at the end of a Fox show replaying a Jimmy Kimmel(ABC) "dubbed" clip of Ahmedinejad(extra points if I spelled that right without looking it up) speech yesterday using CNN video(3 networks in one piece).

Nowhere did I hear mention of Armageddon in 16 days, just Condi talking tough, with footage of el Baradei and then some Intel "astronauts" working in what may or may not have been Iran or even on nuclear related equipment. Who knows.

There is so much out there. I don't know if most people pay attention to much of anything. I wouldn't worry too much about this particular Bloomberg piece, there will be something else to take its place tomorrow. Sy Hersh's article has already been forgotten about by those most excited about it two days ago. Yeah, yeah, if there is somebody who hasn't, please don't write in and scold me ;-)


I think all of us on this site benefit from your contrarianism.

But, I think, you're being truly silly on this topic.

I don't abide by Stuart's renegade headliner theory. For commercial or politcal concerns, Bloomberg has purposely obfusicated Iran's announcement & Rademaker's comments.

Should have said: headline writer theory
I appreciate the veiled compliment(?) here, but I actually don't think I'm playing the contrarian. My views here from the very beginning of this thread have clearly been lockstep with at least two other contributors, possibly three. In my opinion, our side of this issue is more moderate, more sane, and more establishment(I hope this last word doesn't get me in trouble). With all due respect, I think it's you guys on the outside looking in.

 Mrs Thatcher:

 It would be so much easier to determine your position on the issues if you would actually state it.

 The real Iron Lady had balls. She was not afraid to take, and state, a position.

 You complain over other posts, state you are in accord with 3 others and that you represent the mainstream.

 Once you take a position perhaps the rest of us can agree with you.

You aren't making alot of sense. Plenty here have disagreed with my position. The possibility that my representation of my views didn't meet your high standards apparently didn't prevent them from doing so.

If you don't think I've expressed clear positions you should probably reread my posts here starting from the beginning of this thread. If that doesn't help, I'd recommend not reading my posts. This option will save you time, also.

I feel that Sailorman and Stuart's posts here are worth rereading.

This is a small news piece like many others released everyday all over the world. It is not a neocon conspiracy as TJ, the original poster I was responding to, indicated. It couldn't be. The original number came from the Iranians.

It's "The Establisment" that has got us into the war in Iraq...

Subkommander Dred

  I like Oil better when he does his Thatcher impression.

  For a clear headed, no guff overview of the pending conflict between George II and Ahmadinejad the following is hard to beat:

Key excerpt:

What is really going on here is a ratcheting war of rhetoric. The Iranian hard liners are down to a popularity rating in Iran of about 15%. They are using their challenge to the Bush administration over their perfectly legal civilian nuclear energy research program as a way of enhancing their nationalist credentials in Iran.

Likewise, Bush is trying to shore up his base, which is desperately unhappy with the Iraq situation, by rattling sabres at Iran. Bush's poll numbers are so low, often in the mid-30s, that he must have lost part of his base to produce this result. Iran is a great deus ex machina for Bush. Rally around the flag yet again.

On 9/10, George II had an approval rating somewhere just under 50% and there were articles coming out about a "failed presidency." By 9/15, George II had approval ratings of around 85%.

By bombing Iran George II intends to give exactly the same boost to Ahmadinejad. The way Ahmadinejad is behaving, I suspect he is counting on George II to demonstrate continued brilliance in foreign policy.

I agree with you. What concerns me is that State Department officials should not, in my opinion, be producing statements which can be so easily misunderstood or misinterpreted, espcially not in the current climate. They appear to be not doing their job properly.

Contrary to Don Sailorman, I don't beleive we should ignore statements that seeminly lack content. I think even obviously false or misleading statements can contain 'content' or 'information,' just not necessarily the content they at first appear to have.

I just really wish I didn't have this unpleasant feeling that we are going to war again.

Given finite resources, I believe we should pay attention to information rather than noise.

In regard to speculation: Yes, in moderate doses occasional speculation can be useful, and I am a huge fan of "hard" science fiction in the tradition of Heinlein, Asimov, Clarke, deCamp and others--mostly engineers and scientists. On the other hand, as with alcohol, toxicity is in the dose, and I do believe an excessive amount of speculation simply adds to the noise level and subtracts from our understanding of fundamental issues.

All my really great and wonderful and elaborate speculations I keep for the science-fiction writing I do, and most respectfully, I do suggest that it might be be good for this site if others did the same.


But we so clearly are. Better just hunker down and get ready.
marking the parent to this
Note the Gulf of Mexico in this animation of sea surface temperature anomolies this year:

March 29 is the only day without a visible elevated temperature in the Gulf of Mexico.
Hello BabyPeanut,

Thxs for the animated charts, kudos!

Nobody yet knows how severe the upcoming hurricane season will be.  Sadly, many people will be hurt or killed, with billions in property damage. On the bright side [if that is possible], massive CAT3-5 damage along the US seaboard may convince enough people that global warming is real, and they will email flood their politicians to start a national Powerdown.

Being a fast-crash Doomer, my Gut tells me that the unwashed masses will do nothing to change politically, even if ten CAT5 killers rip ashore from Houston to Miami to Boston.  But my Heart is aching for something or someone to create a critical mass for 'No Thanks--I like Empty Tanks'.  That is why I post my admittedly speculative ideas, hoping others will help to mitigate the path ahead.

I hope enough Americans become aware of Peakoil and GW in time to peacefully change.  I am just one person trying to convince 300 million that their hearts should be aching too.  I can always gladly ingest an antacid for my gut if we successfully Powerdown.

But Broken Hearts arising from mindless and endless violence are much more difficult to treat.   The 'Nuke their Ass--I want Gas' mindset is not the best path forward for us as a country to deal with Iran, Peakoil, or GW.  Time will tell.

Bob Shaw in Phx,AZ  Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?

"I can always gladly ingest an antacid for my gut if we successfully Powerdown".

Well, from a peak oil aware fellow with occasional heartburn, I am wondering where you will find such an antacid post Powerdown? I take Prilosec, and it will be one of the many pharmaceuticals replaced by naturopathic alternatives, (like licorice in this case).

I hope you turn out to be pessimistic - I view myself not as a moderate or a doomer, but as someone who understands thermodynamics and human nature, and sees a large logistic shaped distribution of possible outcomes ahead of us, with various percentage likelihoods. The Mad-Max world is about 10% and the make-fuel-from-coal-without-frying-and-lovethy neighbor world about 10%. Lots of stuff in the middle.

Note to self: need to find out how to make/grow licorice

Hello theLastSasquatch,

Thxs for responding.  I recognize you from Jay's forum.  I am sure you are aware of Jay's conclusions, as am I, these cannot be readily discounted.  But as a possible remedy to infinite growth & detritus addiction: consider my 'No Thanks--I like Empty Tanks' speculation on the building of discrete, but very large biosolar habitats.  EnergyBulletin has an outstanding article that explores this potential:

I would be very interested in reading Kunstler's response.

Bob Shaw in Phx,AZ  Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?

Anise seed or fennel are easy to grow. Another fine antacid is taking a bite of raw potatoe and chewing it till its nothing but mush in your mouth and letting that trickle down the stomach.  Do not eat dairy, or  Meats or fats or raw sugars (candy of any kind).  Dry breads and some grains will help relieve the pain.  If you have formed ulcers you can seek out a holisitic healer, or any good Medicine-man or woman to help you.

Both anise and Fennel are second year seeding plants, so grow them with that knowledge.

Sasafras leaves and Chia seed can help reduce acid. Eat the young Sasafras leaves raw.  Put the Chia seeds in a bottle of water and let them chill, then shake and guzzle.  You might need to get used to both these cures the feeling in the mouth is odd.

For nausea (e.g. impending seasickness or reading some of the posts on TOD;-) and some other stomach upsets, candied ginger is highly effective.
Peppermint also seems to work, at least for me.
Mint also works and is very easy to grow. ;-)  Don't forget ginger for nausea although I don't know anything about growing it.  Is it a tropical plant?
There is a better view of this, with better temperature resolution, available from the site below by clicking on the SST Anomalies button:

Note that the SST anomalies for recent 5-day periods seem to be usually similar to/greater than the corresponding period last year, albeit with a different distribution, due to La Nina producing greater trade winds blowing warmer topwater from east to west.  That seems to be producing higher anomalies in GoM than at comparable times last season. May be harder to start a hurricane in the eastern Caribbean, (assuming warmer SST is required) but once it reaches GoM, Katie bar the door!

Les Lambert

As interviewed on "Journal", many of his former constituents are still upset that Gerhard Schroeder took the revolving door into managing the Russian-German pipeline for GazProm.

I think the Iranians are far from enriching uranium to weapons-grade, but they're sure having fun taunting our neocons.  That's almost as fun to watch as the Oil and Auto execs bickering.

They certainly are, generally because fueling Russian corruption using German money as a way to fuel German corruption is just bad long term business.

But to try to give just a few levels in the game -

  1. Schroeder didn't join Carlyle Group, he is making money from following his own previous policy interests in having Russia be a major supplier of industrial energy supplies to Germany, especially clean burning natural gas. He has always had a reputation as a womanizing opportunist, so no one was really surprised at his latest moves - though the adoption of a Russian child before he lost power was a touch irregular. In other words, lots going on in his private life, and lots going on in his public life. Most Germans have always been a bit appalled and/or a bit envious at the same time.
  2. Germany is trying to ensure reliable energy supplies, and other decisions made by the Schroeder government, such as building the Baltic pipeline(s) are just part of this bigger picture.
  3. When choosing between Poland, a previously somewhat outspoken supporter of the Iraq war and American interests in the EU, and resource rich Russia, Schroeder didn't really have a hard choice. Cutting the Poles out from a pipeline between Russian and Germany was the sort of decision most Germans heartily support - as they did, by the way, when aware of it. And seeing what happened with the Ukraine, Schroeder simply looks shrewd to most people now. Being number 1 means looking out for number 1, right? German society, at all levels I have met, is very aware of what energy means to an industrial society - the level of awareness of a broader world is several magnitudes higher here than in U.S. - maybe because so many companies in the region I live rely on world markets, while in Northern Virginia/DC, people with experience of the world seem to be in decline, especially in foreign policy decision making.
  4. The EU is very aware of the coming energy challenges, and both France's increasingly important investment in/securing of such areas as Algeria and Germany's increasingly investment in/closeness to Russia are seen as important moves in a game played over the next decade or two.
  5. The British are about to be hit with a 2x4 between the eyes - both France and Germany (to a lesser and declining extent, Holland and Norway also) will be the main conduits for 'reliable' natural gas supplies in the next decade or two, apart from LNG - somehow, I think LNG will cost more on the world market than a pipeline with long term price contracts. Basically, British energy interests bet on faith that peaking production was manageable, and that access to the Gulf, like access to the Caspian, was going to be the best way to ensure Britain retaining a major role in world oil/LNG markets. In part, that Britain is not a central player in EU politics will be paid off in standard fashion. On the other hand, the EU will still provide Britain much more than the U.S. has - but then, considering how much the U.S. seems to care about British interests, the EU doesn't have to do much to look better. That Schroeder will likely be sitting on the board of a company deciding where natural gas goes while Blair likely joins the Carlyle Group is the sort of thing which clearly shows the difference between various types of corruption. Schroeder's career change is still part of the plans for Germany to stay warm over the next few winters, while Blair's move will likely involve a lot of travel to warm regions, and likely not much visible concern about how many Britons may freeze.
  6. The EU is actively working on trying to work out ways for everyone to share. The German/Russian pipeline is part of hooking up the Danish/Norwegian/French/Algerian/Spanish/Italian/etc. system as a long term goal (whether explicitly or implicitly), so that gas can be distributed efficiently and 'fairly' throughout Europe, with national interests between various nations being as equitably handled as realistic in the world we live in. To give an example based on the Russian/German pipeline - either the Poles get a guarantee they can buy a percentage of the gas, paying Germany a transit fee from gas supplied through existing pipelines - good business is not about fairness - or they can finance/build a spur, paying a fee to whoever. Regardless, the Poles will pay, and also likely pay off, a number of people. Business is business. And in exchange, their children won't freeze in the winter significantly more than anyone else's. The EU is the result of war and its utter failure as a policy. We will see how it handles the coming challenges, but keep in mind, there is no real war constituency in Europe. Americans tend to misunderstand what that means, but personally, I think the Iraq war was a major reminder to most Europeans that war is idiocy most of the time. (And what happened in Yugoslavia was a reminder that war may be the only way to stop genocide, to show the other side of the coin.)
  7. Interesting that Schroeder's fairly corrupt practices made this thread, since in the last decade or two, what he did is essentially par for the American course, with a difference. Schroeder plans to stay comfortable in a system which takes care of German energy monopoly/industrial concerns over the long term, while most American corruption these days seems to involve nothing but pure self-interest, without a hint of anything else. Check into how German managers have been found guilty of self-dealing for giving themselves bonuses/pay raises while selling out the company they managed (still wending through the courts, however - former bank chairmen tend to have good lawyers, for example). As one manager said, if this becomes German practice, it won't be possible for Germany to have American style capitalism. A comment just showing how unconcerned the elite of German business are with what the majority of Germans believe. Well, that is until the strikes became ever more common.
   Schroeder will likely keep his new job, in the same way Kohl wasn't jailed for lying about illegal campaign contributions or destroying fairly vast amounts of records and computer drives detailing various energy deals involving France and East German refineries/petrochemical plants. Generally speaking, German energy politics remains a fairly domestic affair. And broadly speaking, they involve money and political compromise, often quite disgusting (Grozny was mainly about energy - look at a map and the pipelines, and Germany remains essentially silent, like all of Russia's other energy customers). But also speaking broadly, Germany still thinks the 'market' and solid engineering and planning of alternatives beats blood for oil - they already did that, after all. I could also note that the PhD holding current leader of the German government seems to being following tradition in considering long term planning as a major part of her job - no coverage at all of concrete German plans for energy over the next couple of decades seems to really appeared outside of the fairly small German language articles - in part, undoubtedly, because of deep controversy over nuclear energy. Bundeskanzlerin Dr. Angela Merkel's government could fall on that issue alone, and she knows it. On the other hand, I would expect her to get a very comfortable job with Siemens if she could reverse current German law about shutting down all of Germany's nuclear reactors over the next two decades. And the outrage to be on a par with that concerning Schroeder, to much the same practical effect in the end.
   And no, this essay is more than long enough without getting into details about the planned allocation of 10s of billions of euros for electric grid maintenance, support for various industries to secure future export revenue, and increasing the use of renewable energy and efficiency financed to the profit of the energy monopolies - Germany is not some sort of fantasy land, it is a fairly average capitalist industrial society, with essentially some of Europe's highest energy costs and largest spread in rates between industry and private users. Of course, if anyone can provide any information about comparable comprehensive American planning, I would be thrilled. Such planning has utterly escaped my notice (well in fairness, my Vice President and President have fought tenaciously to ensure that such planning remains secret, for their own good, if I understand the executive privilege agrument correctly). Though Germans still get somewhat hypocritically outraged by garden variety American corruption (to think I remember Carlyle as a parking/real estate company in downtown DC in the 70s - still need to check those old memories someday), they do actually expect a government to look towards the future and deal with it in a way which ensures their individual interests are adequately respected. Whether this will survive peak oil is unknown, but it is a much healthier base to start from, I think, even with its clear human flaws, which are also clearly acknowledged - greed as a reason for corruption is a constant in essentially all societies, and certainly in all that believe in the market as a way to organize economic activity.
The main problem is not that the Iranians can or can't actually process enough uranium to produce a bomb. The main problem is that the Iranians have just handed Resident Bush a perfect excuse for ratcheting up the war talk.

If there were ever a couple of dance partners better suited than Bush and the Iranian President, I don't know who is. Both are certified loons. Both are messianic, with the Iranian believing he may be the so-called thirteenth Imam. If anyone doubts now that we are steering towards war, they have their eyes closed.

This can go nowhere but down fast.

The irony is that I am not in favor of Iran getting the bomb and I am not in favor of bombing them, but that may be an inevitable outcome. In power politics, if you are living in a lunatic land and another lunatic land threatens you, you better hope you are in the bigger, badder, crazier lunatic land, cause neither of the loons is listening to reason.

This may be the prelude to the big clusterf*ck. Just waiting to see what minor Prince Ferdinand event sets this mother off.

"If there were ever a couple of dance partners better suited than Bush and the Iranian President, I don't know who is."

They are both grandstanding....I'm sure you meant "I don't know WHOM is."

"This can go nowhere but down fast."

What if it goes well and we help overthrow the Mullahs.  What if the minority is overthrown?

If you are going to play the pedant, get it right.
As the subject of the verb "is" the preposition should take the subjective case. "who" is correct.

"What if it goes well ..
What if pigs fly? Has Iraq taught you nothing?

"What if the minority is overthrown"
The Iranian government was duly elected.


Nick, I was being a dick on purpose after previously having my correct grammer corrected. The is should have been and are but that depends on what you definition of

"What if it goes well ..
What if pigs fly? Has Iraq taught you nothing?

Iraq is a completely different country.  This is like comparing the heart and stomach because they lie near each othe in the body.  I think given the nature of the problem Iraq is going well.  I have lost several friends there and several are still there. I talk to or email these guys all the time.  The picture they paint is different than what you see on television.

WWI was bad, and that made us hesitate in II at the cost of many lifes.  Hesitation is for cowards and frenchmen...when a true threat to national or global security presents itself we must act.

No, it wasn't. Elections in Iran are not free at all.
Going out on a limb here, but what if OUR minority was overthrown.  Any chance of that?  

At this point a political removal (impeachment) of the president is about as likely as my winning the powerball lotto. Unless some real nasty video or other hard proof of wrong doing that couldnt be explained away, the current congress wont act. Perhaps a Dem congress might but there's alot of ifs there, starting with IF they win both houses and IF no conflict has been initiated.  Half a year (plus the lame duck sesion) may be longer than we have.

With impeachment questionable at best, only one other possibility for mid-presidency course correction comes to mind: a military coup.  Never used in this country, it has been used by a number of other countries in the world.

Would that be possible here or has our political-military relationship so well integrated as to preclude this.

I am not a military person but so I don't know, but could one or more of our career armed forces look at the war gaming and conclude "this is suicide, and I/we're not going to allow it" and take out the political leadership.  I mean, we're already in uncharted territory (stealing/fudging election, manufacturing evidence among other things).  How much of a suspension of disbelief does one need to consider the possibility of a coup d'tat??

Just wondering if the US military was capable of overriding its own civilian rulers or would remain subserviant no matter what.

Any thoughts (current or ex mil comments extra appreciated)

One of the main reasons behind many of the 'leaks' to Hersh from serving US officers is precisely their fear that we're heading off to war again, based on 'questionable intelligence.' Many of the statements attributed to retired military personnel we've seen recently are almost unique in modern American history. I think it's clear that many serving and high-ranking officers share they same concerns as those who've gone public. One has to remember that these officers, both serving and retired, are not wild, screaming, left-wing activists who want revolution in the streets. They are mostly conservatives who are just scared to death about what they fear may be unfolding.

It's perfectly reasonable and honourable to be a conservative and a Republican and oppose the current Bush administration and it's 'ideology.' Recently the Republican Henry Hyde has cogently and intelligently criticised the Whitehouse from a conservative perspective and most of what he says deserves attention and respect.

Personally I don't mind conservatives or Republicans. If Americans vote for these people it's their business. Howver, I don't believe the current administration is 'conservative' or 'Republican.' I think they are something else altogether. It's what that 'other' really is, that confuses me, and I think about it a lot.

To call the current administration 'Fascist' is probably too easy, and too inaccurate. Maybe they represent something new, that we don't have a name for yet? It concerns me that so many of them appear to be 'diciples' of Leo Strauss. Now, it's probable that Strauss would turn in his grave at the thought of his teachings and writings being 'misused' in this way. It's a big philosophical area to get into here. None of this is meant to be the last word on this subject, just a few thoughts.

I do think though that it's important to remember that one can be 'conservative' and anti-Bush at the same time. As we move closer to an attack on Iran, I think we'll see far more criticism coming from this quarter.

No military backed coup d'tat, I'm afraid to say, based on my own (now somewhat dated) experience.  You may see some complaining and grumbling amongst the retired brass and even in the enlisted ranks, but as a general rule the officer corps is too level headed and non-reactionary for that.

On the other hand, I do not believe the active duty US military would actively oppose such a public groundswelling, should it take place.  No Kent State (those were national guard, anyway) or Bonus Army incidents today.

Members of the military are not obligated to obey illegal or immoral orders. An act of aggression against Iran could be considered an offense against treaty law in particular the UN charter. The first use of nuclear weapons could be argued as clearly immoral. The senior military officers need not take over the government, just refuse to obey illegal and immoral orders. Lower officers are obligated to follow the chain of command which means the president must first fire the Joint Chiefs then wait for Congress to approve new less ethical appointees.

has our political-military relationship so well integrated as to preclude this.

It is.

Service members swear to defend the constitution; not an office or individual.  And we take that vow very seriously.  The military is subordinate to civilian authority.  Period.  Think of the ultimately trained police dog.  Absolutely devoted to the handler.  I won't budge an inch until you signal.  But if you give me the high sign.....buddy, stand the f**k by.

I have GRAVE misgivings about any attack on Iran.  But not because of hyperventilated claims of nukes, or concern that we couldn't solve the attendant military problems.  Iran wouldn't stand a chance on the battlefield.

But the consequences are a bitch.

Is there a secret mutual defense pact between Iran and Russia/China/other? (possible)

Would southern Iraq erupt?  (Yep.)

Could we hold any "gains" long term.  ("How much ya willin' to spend?")

Should I keep asking easy rhetorical questions so I can generate a safe sound bite?  (Why not?  That's how DR handles the press.)

I guess my point is two-fold.

  1. I can't describe in polite English how incredibly wrong any attack on Iran would be on so many levels...morally, militarily, politically, oil-ically (ain't this language great that you can make up new words!) and so on.  This is not a military problem.  And don't get me started on what the unintended consequences might be like.
  2.  If I were personally ordered into the breach, I would go immediately and without hesitation.  I made a commitment to do that (obey civil leadership), and I would expect that you would expect no less.

If you can understand that dichotomy, you can understand my belief that a US coup is not likely to happen anytime soon.  It just doesn't work that way.

callsign "Spock"
Phrogs Rule!

Okay, this does make more sense.  Based on the comments above and some below I have gotten the impression that:

> When ordered to deploy/fight, that order IS carried out unflinchingly

> Lower ranking military members listen to their commanding for orders

> Upper level/top level military officers swear allegiance to the Constitution and not to the president/sec of defense or other civilian in charge

> The same individuals however do as ordered by civilian staff, but not without offering up at least input

And judging by recent ex-general comments, they do indeed disagree with the leadership from time to time.

Which raises another question.  What risks does a general face if he were to offer contradictory opinions to the civvies in private.  How about in public?  

It already looks as if dissenting Iran war-gaming opinions are filtering out of the military establishment.  How far could this go before BushCheney et al could put a lid on it?

I wasn't seriously expecting a coup but could the military leadership be enough to dissuade their civilian bosses from attacking, either privately or leaked through the media.

With few or possibly no exceptions, military officers I know are people who do not leak to the media. That is one reason I am so skeptical of journalists' articles based on alleged leaks from sources that supposedly have classified information. (True, some in government do leak on occasion, but they are generally back-stabbing politicians rather than high-ranking military officers. Also, many claim to be "in the loop" who actually are not.)

For a serving officer to protest, the only honorable thing to do would be to resign and then go public with reasons for resignation. To secretly leak would be dishonorable as well as being illegal in many cases, and that is the main reason few serving officers do so.

Note that officers who have resigned have blown their careers and hence have no need to be anonymous. Thus, there is good reason to be suspicious of journalists who cite "anonymous retired officers." Why retain anonymity?

I've heard of it, from the inside (former active duty).
It is not as uncommon as you might be led to believe.  Far better to let something slip anonymously and NOT ruin your career, unless you are already close to retirement.

Glad to help.  

 The same individuals however do as ordered by civilian staff, but not without offering up at least input

Absolutely.  And it's handled professionally and discretely.  I won't lie and say that I've personally witnessed these conversations.  But every now and then, an uncharacteristic decision is announced by the CG.  Later on, you hear through the grapevine that the CG lost when he went to the mat to prevent that decision.  And you would never know from his public demeanor.  

Which raises another question.  What risks does a general face if he were to offer contradictory opinions to the civvies in private.  How about in public?

No more or less than a civilian plant manager (say) taking issue with a senior executive over some business decision.  It depends on their baseline interpersonal relationship, how  he makes his case, is there any public embarassment involved...the usual human dynamics.

All of the generals I've met share 3 traits:

  1. Memory of an elephant.
  2. VERY intelligent
  3. Fantastic interpersonal skills.

(OK.  There is that one exception)

They are the kind of men and women that will meet you after 20 years and remember details about your family that you've forgotten.

Thanks for your comment - it confirms my expectations in regards to any kind of open revolt in the military.  I cannot imagine that eventuality, unless perhaps it came to a large confrontation with civilians in the US (which is what it took in the USSR).
It seems increasingly likely that Iran wants us to bomb them.  
What do you think Iran would gain from being bombed?  Is it possible they have a strong hand and just want to humiliate Bush?  Or do you think they are willing to sustain damage to unite Islam against the US and Israel in some substantial (not peaceful) way?  Or perhaps they think the damage to the US and Europe will be greater than what they sustain from the fallout of oil constriction?  Do you think Iran is a proxy?
What Iran gains from being bombed is the opportunity to expel the US from the entire Gulf region.  Thus preventing the US from achieving, in the fuure, what they have achieved for the last 30 years - artificailly low oil prices.  Notice the US has surrounded Iran, like they surrounded the USSR during the cold war.  They have bases in Afganistan, Iraq, Qatar, Kuwait, ships in the Gulf.  Iran sees the opportunity to displace the US.  

The US has already been expelled from Saudi Arabia, and their foothold in Iraq is tenuous.  Iran is positioning themselves as the voice of political leadership in the region, and waiting for the right moment to call for a end to all foreign military forces in the the region.  That moment will be the day after they are bombed.

...and the same day they give the appeal teeth by linking it to a blockade of all transport through the Straights.

First, I don't think 'Iran' wants to be attacked or bombed by anyone, especially not the United States. When we say 'Iran' what do we really mean? Some have indicated that they believe Iran is a totalitarian dictatorship with only minimal support amongst the population. Is it the leaders of the 'dictatorship' whom we are calling 'Iran' or is it the population as a whole? If it's the population as a whole, who, after all are victims of the dictatorial minority, surely we shouldn't punish them in a bombing campaign? Isn't there going to be a awful lot of 'collateral damage' among the people we are aiming to help/liberate?

We also have to be careful about how we judge and interpret President Ahmadinejad's statements. He is not in total control of Iran, not at the moment. I'm pretty sure he'd like to be in total control. He is using this crisis to gain support among the population and strengthen his position, which he hopes will result in him gaining evern more power. Our reactions to his statements are arguably counter-productive. We seem to continually play into his hands and bolster his position.

Instead of 'laughing' at his grandiose boasts about how far Iran has come in the nuclear fuel cycle, we do the opposite: we play right along and react with dread and almost hysteria, why do we do this? Why don't we adopt a sober approach to Iran and their puny attempst to develop nuclear energy? What we are doing is pushing Iranian religious fundamentalism and secular nationalism closer and closer together, why are we doing this? A country under attack always pulls together doesn't it? Witness the US in the immediate aftermath to 9/11 the country was united as never before. The same social/patriotic mechanisms aslo apply to Iran. An attack on Iran by the US will be their 9/11, why should it be any different? This whole idea that the Iranian regime is incredibly fragile and ready to fall given just a little shove, is just not credible. If we really want 'regime change' in Iran we have to adopt radically different policies that do not strenghthen the conservatives. In fact we should totally ingnore the conservatives and concentrate all our efforts on supporting the moderates. One of the simpliest ways to do this would be to establish deplomatic relations with Iran, end the American economic embargo, sign a non-agression pact, send Madonna to Tehran, and get back into the country pronto and start working. Drop the iron fist approach and reach out the hand of friendship to the mass of Iranian's. Undermine the hardliners from the inside with our natual allies - the young people of Iran, who are fascinated and interested in the United States. Personally I think Hollywood and MTV are worth more and provide more 'protection' for the US than atomic weapons. I think American culture is our real, fundamental, strength. American needs to turn away from 'militerism' and back towards 'culture' and 'example.'

Not all Iranians are religious fundamentalists, but they are patriots and proud of their country. Humiliating Iran is counter-productive in the extreme. Don't try to change Iran with bombs, it will never work, just look at Iraq, does anybody with half a brain really believe adopting the same policy in relation to Iran will be any more successful? This crazed 'neo-con' strategy just won't work, surely that much must be clear by now?

Of course if what we actually want, is conflict, and eventual war: then we should just continue with our present policies towards Iran, as if we've been lobotomized and human beings are definitely not smarter than yeast! thinks that BCR (Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld) have created a win/win situation for Iran.  They took out Iran's chief enemy and rival.  From here, if BCR back down, it makes Iran appear more powerful. If BCR attack Iran, it will inflame the entire Moslem world (even more) against the US.

Unfortunately, I think that the Iranian leadership--certainly not the Iranian people--welcome an attack because it would solidify their hold on power, while inflaming the entire Moslem world against the US.  

I think that we are seeing the beginning of worldwide resistance to the Neocon fantasies of BCR--from the halls of the Pentagon to Europe to the Middle East. The Joint Chiefs of Staff and a group of retired generals seem to be launching a coordinated attack on BCR.  

Following is an excerpt from a New York Times article on retired three star Marine General Newbold.  *Pay very careful attention to the following four words:  "The distinction is important."  This is a retired three star general sending a message that the officer corps owes its allegiance to the Constitution--not to Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld.

From the New York Times:

A leader's responsibility "is to give voice to those who can't -- or don't have the opportunity to -- speak," General Newbold wrote. "Enlisted members of the armed forces swear their oath to those appointed over them; an officer swears an oath not to a person but to the Constitution. The distinction is important." A leader's responsibility "is to give voice to those who can't -- or don't have the opportunity to -- speak," General Newbold wrote. "Enlisted members of the armed forces swear their oath to those appointed over them; an officer swears an oath not to a person but to the Constitution. The distinction is important."

The decision to invade Iraq, he wrote, "was done with a casualness and swagger that are the special province of those who have never had to execute these missions -- or bury the results."

I missed an obvious corollary to the Iranian political situation:  domestic US midterm elections.  If the Democrats gain control of either the House or the Senate, they will gain subpoena power, which will allow them to investigate all kinds of things that have heretofore been swept under the rug by the lapdog Republicans in Congress.  B/C/R are determined to prevent this.  The obvious solution?  A war.  

The long term goal is control of the Middle Eastern oil fields.  The short term goal is to hold on to political power.

So, we have two unpopular presidents who both need a war to solidify their hold on power.  This seems to suggest that we will have a war.  

The one ray of hope seems to be the Joint Chiefs of Staff and a group of retired generals.  

Some may find it ironic that the generals are campaigning against the war option, but for those who have military experience, it is not surprising.  The decision to invade Iraq, he (General Newbold) wrote, "was done with a casualness and swagger that are the special province of those who have never had to execute these missions -- or bury the results."

There is once again a general and growing dislike amongst those in the US military against 'those damn politicians' and political hacks with ZERO military experience or time served writing checks that they, inevitably, must cash.  
Shades of Vietnam, I would say, and McNamara's whizkids armchair quarterbacking.
Yes, thanks for all of this. I think it's important to recognise what these retired generals are trying to tell us. Heck, I don't even live in the United States and I think I understand them! They are functioning as a channel for the thought, attitudes and far wider discontent in the army, speaking for officers who cannot openly oppose the current administration. I think they are doing their best, but it's an uphill struggle.

It's a race against time in my opinion. I think the decision to attack Iran and go for 'regime change' has already been taken. The question now is, of course, who will stop it, can it be stopped? Could a massive anti-war movement out on the streets in millions stop an attack on Iran? It didn't work before Iraq did it? How many millions and for how long would it take? Think of France in the past few weeks. Millions of people can oppose a government and 'win.' Is such a scenario realistic in the United States? I don't know, I doubt it somehow, but who knows? Perhaps if it really looked like America was going to war again, with the outcome uncertain, the great mass of Americans might rouse themselves from their slumber and take back their Republic and their democracy. The question is will such a movement get going in time.

At the moment I feel less than optimistic about stopping the coming madness. I really fear for the future and nature of American democracy in the age of the long war. I think we should call it the wrong war instead. I also fear that if we do go to war again, it could effectively be the end of democracy as we've know it and the start of something else, something very different indeed.  

Sadly, most Americans are either uninformed (apathy, Kunstler's 'sleepwalking into the future'), underinformed (otherwise preoccupied, trying to keep their heads above water down on the lower end of Maslow's pyramid), or misinformed (victims of propaganda, manipulation, and spin by the MSM and TPTB) so I do not expect much from the multitudinious hordes.
Fellow TODers, what is the general consensus on nuclear power? Is it an okay strategy?

Check out this nifty GreenPeace ad:

Stuff like this will surely scare people away from even considering it.

what is the general consensus on nuclear power?

That it's controversial?

I'm ambivalent about them, not passionate enough to really fight for or against them.
Re Greenpeace clip; nifty or shifty? It may be correct that most containment vessels won't withstand a 747 impact. Even with no containment vessel at Chernobyl the number of casualties was less than would have been killed had a passenger plane crashed into it. It's a shame Greepeace has dumb down the energy debate.
Actually, it appears that nuclear power plants
producing clouds of ash and coating the environment
with radioactive frosting are not really all that bad
for the environment. In fact it appears that humans are
far more destructive than radioactive materials.

So I say, "Bring 'em on!" ;) mean immediate casualties, right?  By most reports, Chernobyl killed thousands over the last 20 years thanks to radioactive exposure (fallout, of course) and increased incidents of cancer.

"Nikolai Omelyanets, deputy head of the National Commission for Radiation Protection in Ukraine. "[Studies show] that 34,499 people who took part in the clean-up of Chernobyl have died in the years since the catastrophe. The deaths of these people from cancers was nearly three times as high as in the rest of the population.

"We have found that infant mortality increased 20% to 30% because of chronic exposure to radiation after the accident. All this information has been ignored by the IAEA and WHO. We sent it to them in March last year and again in June. They've not said why they haven't accepted it."

Evgenia Stepanova, of the Ukrainian government's Scientific Centre for Radiation Medicine, said: "We're overwhelmed by thyroid cancers, leukaemias and genetic mutations that are not recorded in the WHO data and which were practically unknown 20 years ago.",,2-13-1443_1914993,00.html

You cite where deaths from cancer are nearly three times as high as the rest of the population (in Ukraine?).  Given that cancer is typically causing 25% to 30% of normal deaths, this means they are seeing something like 75% to 90% of deaths from  cancer.  I am skeptical.

Also, there seems to be a large discrepancy with your cited statements and the data collected from the Hiroshima survivors.  Notably, there has been no compelling evidence for radiation effects on the children born after the war, so genetic mutation effects would be unexpected.

Dangerous. We'll run out of fissile material soon enough too.

Turn the bloody electric lights out forever and now. Light a campfire. Sing, tell stories, grow food. Be human again.

We have just about all current societies requiring significant energy inputs.  We know that our primary energy source is depleting, and that there will be a severe crisis if we don't prepare.  IMO, we would see more people unnecessarily dead 2010 to 2020 than in all the wars, pandemics, and famines of the 20th century.

I think there is going to be alot of pain no matter what we do, but we have a chance to slowly wean ourselves from the current infrastructure.  It will take investment in every energy-generating technology that we have to get us through the transition with any sort of grace at all.  

Not investing in nuclear power will make the future world a poorer and hungrier place, with millions of additional deaths.   Not investing in nuclear power will mean that desparate people will build many massive and dirty coal-fired power plants, which will kill thousands with particulates in the short term and millions with climate change in the long term.

Fear is appropriate with the options that we have in front of us. My concern is whether we will be flexible enough to fear what is likely to really hurt us, rather than fixate on  a phantasmal fear from another era.

If we increase societal energy usage with nuclear power and the population grows higher, the die-off will be worse and larger when we run out of fissile material.

If we immediately and carefully start aiming for a soft landing in the noncapitalist nontechnological paradise which is our inevitable future, we can bring the maximum number of people across the River to the land of Milk and Honey on the other side.

Re: Your Bloomberg quote at the top, PG.

This claim (16 days!) is ridiculous. I have never in my life seen an example of hysteria as pure as this. This is propaganda surpassing that of Hitler, Stalin, Berlusconi, Mao Zedong and all those throughout recorded history up to and including the Bronze Age.

I am embarrassed to be in the species Homo sapiens if, indeed, I am, in fact, a member of this particular group of hominids. This is something I sometimes have had doubts about--but I can't deny it, I've got the same genetic makeup that they do.

Absurd, crazy, delusional, self-serving, sociopathic, [you name it here] ....

How the hell are we going to live in a world that operates like this?

Everything in the article is technically correct, but it is misleading.  Technically, if they were to ramp up to 54,000, then they could produce one in 16 days.  But their near-term plans, if you read closely, are to ramp up to 3,000 over the next year or so...
Really good question, Dave.  I've been asking myself that for months.  People seem to be willfully obtuse, and that's putting it politely.  We are stupid, so we have stupid debates, like that ridiculous 'ports' fiasco a couple of weeks ago. Oil prices go up, and its the evil oil companies fault (even CNBC did a poll today on that, and the results were...consistent with stupid).  Even our stupid president apparently really thinks that ethanol will save us.  
Dave, with all due respect, the "claim," as pointed out by at least two people here is technically correct and basically a simple math excersize.

The "statement" by the State Department official is only one of possibility.

The news release by Bloomberg is just that and it's not signed by Goebbels.

Your comment on propaganda seems a bit far-fetched. And I'm not sure why you chose to include Berlusconi in that list, perhaps this is a Freudian slip as you were thinking of Mussolini.

I respect your comments here, Oil CEO, but I will not back down on this story. The headline is "Iran Could Produce Nuclear Bomb in 16 Days, U.S. Says".

Apparently, just this week, Iran managed to enrich uranium to a degree that would feed a nuclear power plant. That's it. End of Story.

Iran has informed the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency that it plans to construct 3,000 centrifuges at Natanz next year, Rademaker said.

``We calculate that a 3,000-machine cascade could produce enough uranium to build a nuclear weapon within 271 days,'' he said.

Iran may have the capability to do this, but considering the technical issues involved, I doubt it. And I consider their statements to be true just to the extent as I trust the statements from the Bush government--that is to say, not a all. This Bloomberg article is propaganda designed to support a military strike. I don't know who is behind it specifically, but I've got the general drift.

I am not going to sit here complacently and let World War III just happen. I will protest this in so far as I am able to do so. This is the most frightening shit I've ever encountered in my lifetime. I am not backing down. My previous post on the matter made this clear.

And all this rests on the assumption that if Iran did acquire the Bomb, they would use it or give it out to terrorists who would use it. Thus, we must conclude that they are suicidal. This must be considered carefully, but I find it implausible to say the least.

You are acting exactly like the global warming deniers here, Dave. What if you are wrong? Examine that question and the consequences from that. What if the Iranian leadership is ready and willing to die, en masse, to achieve a religious goal so long as they take Israel with them? We've all quoted Hersh here and respect his opinions on these issues but have you read Hersh's book The Samson Option : Israel's Nuclear Arsenal and American Foreign Policy?

(The gist of the book is that Israel is prepared to take most of the entire world down with them if they are ever faced with a situation that is the end of Israel.)

What if that is Israel's response to an attack by Iran? What if Iran knows this is Israel's response? What if Iran's leadership is counting on that response given that they believe that fomenting chaos and violence will hasten the return of the 12th iman?

Just because you cannot conceive of it happening doesn't mean it cannot happen. Hitler happened. Pol Pot happened. Lots of incredibly horrible things have happened that many people thought were totally irrationally impossible, yet they did occur.

What if you are wrong, Dave? Now, having considered the alternative, just what the hell can we do here? This is a mess and it would still be a gigantic mess if Kerry or Gore was in office too. There are no good options here, only bad.

Well, I don't get your global warming deniers analogy at all since I am one of the people on TOD who publishes (comments) on the seriousness of that situation.

As to your point about Israel, I have opposed their policies for many years now as regards the Palestinians. And, my full name is Dave Cohen, I am half-jewish and not at all anti-semitic (or xenophobic in any other way).

Re: "What if the Iranian leadership is ready and willing to die, en masse, to achieve a religious goal so long as they take Israel with them?"

I know about suicide bombers, I am not aware of the existence of suicide nations.

Israel is a dangerous wild card in this whole situation, as is unqualified US support for Israeli policies.

But my main point is that we are in a very precarious situation with regard to extremists both in the US and Iran (not the people, the governments) and we must take this very, very seriously.

best, Dave

Excuse me but you're the hysteric here. Read the article. Iran has a few hundred centrifuges. They are planning to ramp up to 3000 by year's end. They have space at Natanz for 54000. With those 54000, Radekar stated they could make a bomb every 16 days, which is a true statement.

You might choose to read more carefully rather than grind your anti-Bush axe so publicly next time. While Bush has issues, exaggeration does not assist your cause.

I have no idea what you're talking about here, GreyZone. Hysteria is when a Bloomberg article is entitled Iran Could Produce Nuclear Bomb in 16 Days, U.S. Says. That was not me. I read the article. As to my "anti-Bush" agenda, I'm sticking with that. But basically, I'm frightened. I can see where all this leads. That is not a happy place.

Wake up, GreyZone.

My opinion is that fault seems to lie with the Bloomberg headline writer.  The headline is an execrable piece of sensationalism.  The piece itself is mostly a fairly helpful laying out of the implications of various numbers of centrifuges.

I completely agree.
I cannot agree with this. The 54,000 number seems to be completely pulled out of the State Department's ass. The article never makes a point of saying "this is purely a hypothetical with no basis in reality and I can't even tell you, the reader, why we are printing it"

Why not just construct more fantasies like "And if a time came, high-ranking officials at the Pentagon say, that Iran had eleventy billion centrifuges, they could produce enough nuclear bombs to annihilate you and your entire family and the state you live in, in the time it takes you to watch American Idol...WITHOUT COMMERCIALS!!!11"

It's irresponsible and hysterical scare tactics - end of story. And of course now that Bloomberg has published it, it gives all the right-wing outfits(Drudge, Newsmax, etc.) cover to grab the headline and run with a chicken-little story

We are being brought to the brink of war - there is no longer a doubt in my mind. It's exactly the same tactics as Iraq, where all this faux-evidence is trumped for months and months until the debate has all been framed into a box where any "reasonable person" agrees that some sort of attack is necessary, and we then give Bush carte blanche to do as he pleases

It's madness, and this is well past the time to start calling it out

You get "most ridiculous comment from poster who didn't actually read article"-of-the-day award. The 54,000 number came from an Iranian official on state-run(Iranian) TV.

In fact, you didn't even read the blockquote Professor Goose posted in blue highlighting. I'm baffled by how you actually knew the number in question was 54,000.

Stuart, you and I know each other a bit and I would assume there is mutual respect. I regard you as a "heroic figure" in the peak oil community.

That said, the "sensationalism" you refer to is the entire point. This is a lead-up towards a war which will be a disaster for the world.

On my post the other day regarding Iran, you did not disagree with me but, rather, you got into the technical details of "bunker busting" and keeping the Strait of Hormuz open. I know that you too are personally alarmed about recent reports regarding Iran.

Perhaps you and I disagree about the severity of the situation. I find that you in general (using data and analysis) attempt to find a "balanced" viewpoint. I appreciate that very much. That's what makes TOD strong and reputable.

However, when I see crazy people planning for crazy events --which I know you do not discount-- I become more and more concerned. Both of us have looked at past oil shocks and effects. I can not predict the future, but we are considering oil shocks on a magnitude much greater than those that have occurred in the past. We are already undergoing such events in Iraq and Nigeria. Russia looks like it's going to let us down. But really, when fanatical interests go head-to-head on both sides, we are looking at a very serious situation indeed.

Not addressing you, so much, but TOD readers in general, this is not the time for a "reasonable, complacent" view of things to come. There are very serious instabilities developing both in (geological) production, economic investment and the geopolitics of oil. In my view, these recent deveopments can not be discounted. They must be taken very seriously.


 I do not know where this post will end up but I do wish to say I appreciate the fact of your being willing to take a stand.
 I share your fear over the outcome. I also share your view that intentional or not, there is a sense of deja vue here, that we are re-running the dis-information phase that preceeded the invasion of Iraq.
 Finally I also agree with your comment that we may be facing the onset of WWIII. I keep asking myself if this is what it was like to be in Europe prior to 1939? I also continue to ask  what is an appropriate form of response while at the same time feeling that there is very little that I can do.

 I disagree with Oil CEOs position as I don't see that he has stated a position. He has critiqued others for their interpretation of the article, and has claimed that he holds an "establishment" position.  To say "I hold the establishment position and agree with three other posters" is nothing but a nonsense statement.

I am glad that you spoke out. I appreciate the opportunity to dialogue with you. Shalom.


I disagree with Oil CEOs position as I don't see that he has stated a position.

I don't mean to get on your case. I think it's funny. I actually agree with many things you say.

Read my posts. That's my story, and I'm sticking with it.


I'm not trying to minimize the fact that the situation is very worrying.  After 6 years, we know how headstrong our President can be.  Could the administration who invaded Iraq without waiting to find out if there were any WMD there, who decided the Geneva conventions were "quaint" and that the constitution was a "goddamned piece of paper" be the first in sixty years to use nuclear weapons?  I would like to dismiss it, but I find I can't.  Hersh's piece chilled me to the bone.

All I am saying is that the alarmism in the Bloomberg question is entirely in the headline - and not at all in the quotes from the administration official.  So it's Bloomberg's fault.  Whether it was because Bloomberg wants us to go to war, or just because they want to say controversial things that will get them attention I have no idea.

Even if the nuclear thing turns out to be the the smoke-blowing of disgruntled closet liberals in the administration, it seems that Bush and Ahmadinejad are on a collision course.  Based on what I have seen of Bush, I do not think he will back down.  So then the question becomes what will Ahmadinejad do?  We do not know him as we know Bush.  He is acting like a man with a very strong hand to play.  He is not acting like a man concerned that a lot of his civic buildings might be smoking ruins in six months.  But why does he not fear that given Bush's track record?

I can think of about three classes of theories.

Class A) Ahmadinejad is crazy, or he cannot think across the huge cultural divide and thinks Bush will be rationally deterred by the obvious negative consequences of attacking Iran, or he just thinks his position is so morally correct that he feels obliged to follow it regardless of consequences.

Class B) he has secret assurances from Russia or China to effectively deter a US attack if such appears imminent.

Class C) He is deliberately trying to provoke a US attack.  He is willing to sustain whatever damage ensues because he has some kind of grand plan to turn the tables on the US.   My guess is that a sufficiently visionary and determined leader could pull off a major coup from Iran's position right now, but it's certainly risky.

Here's some of his Wikipedia biography:

He ranked 130th in the nationwide university entrance exams, and entered Iran University of Science and Technology (IUST) as an undergraduate student of civil engineering in 1976. He continued his studies in the same university, entering the Master of Science program for civil engineering in 1984, the year he joined the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (see below), and in 1987 received his Ph.D in traffic and transportation engineering and planning. The graduate program was a special program for the Revolutionary Guards members funded by the organization itself. After graduation, he became a professor at the civil engineering department at IUST.

In 1979, Ahmadinejad was the head representative of IUST to the unofficial student gatherings that occasionally met with the Ayatollah Khomeini. These sessions created the foundations of the first Office for Strengthening Unity (daftar-e tahkim-e vahdat), the student organization to which several members behind the seizure of the United States embassy belonged (this would become the Iran hostage crisis). Ahmadinejad became a member of the Office of Strengthening Unity. Before the seizure of the embassy, he had suggested a simultaneous or similar attempt against the Soviet Union embassy, but was voted down, resulting in independent pursuit of the idea by its proponents.

He joined the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps in 1986 during the Iran-Iraq War. After training at the headquarters, he saw action in extraterritorial covert operations against Kirkuk, Iraq. Later he also became the head engineer of the sixth army of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps and the head of the Corps' staff in the western provinces of Iran. After the war, he served as vice governor and governor of Maku and Khoy, an Advisor to the Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance, and the governor of the then newly established Ardabil province from 1993 to October 1997.

Ahmadinejad was mostly an unknown figure in Iranian politics until he was elected Mayor of Tehran by the second City Council of Tehran on May 3, 2003, after a 12% turnout led to the election of the conservative candidates of Alliance of Builders of Islamic Iran in Tehran. During his mayorship, he reversed many of the changes put into effect by previous moderate and reformist mayors, putting serious religious emphasis on the activities of the cultural centers founded by previous mayors, going on the record with the separation of elevators for men and women in the municipality offices[2] and suggesting that the bodies of those killed in the Iran-Iraq war be buried in major city squares of Tehran. Such actions were coupled with popular acts, such as distributing free soup to the poor.

Top student, engineering PhD, Professor, special ops combat experience, high-level military leadership experience, provincial governor, mayor of capital city, president by age 50.  Pretty damn impressive resume.  He may be a hardliner, but it seems he's very unlikely to be a fool.

Oh, and yes the respect is mutual.

Class C) He is deliberately trying to provoke a US attack.  He is willing to sustain whatever damage ensues because he has some kind of grand plan to turn the tables on the US.   My guess is that a sufficiently visionary and determined leader could pull off a major coup from Iran's position right now, but it's certainly risky.

What is the downside risk for him and his family?  

I'm betting he's seeing alot of upside.

You can a lot about a guy by looking at his resume.  One thing you can about Ahmadinejad is that he is not crazy.  As others have pointed out, calling the leader of your adversary "crazy" is just way to avoid serious discussion of real issues.

The most important thing to remember about Ahmadinejad is that he is a revolutionary.  He has worked to transform his nation.  I'm not talking about incremental improvement, I mean fundamantal societal transformation.  He is a man who has readily risked his life for his nation.  You can see what motivates him.  It is not individual fame, power, or wealth.  It is Iran's power and wealth.

I feel he believes that for Iran to reach it's potential will require confrontation with the US.  I'm sure he hopes this confrontation ends short of violence, but I'm equally confident that he believes Iran will prevail however the US chooses to persue the confrontation.

Iran has been quite transparent about their intention to develop a nuclear program and how they will react at each stage.  The US is the unpredictable one.

Dave, Techincally I beileve you are Homo sapien sapien,  But I do not have the bookin front of me that states that.  

We live in a sound bite world did you not know that?  I have the terrible duty to listen to friends and family that watch TV while they are on the phone with me.  They hear a bit of this and a bit of that, and by the time they go to bed at night and their brains decompress ( dreams are the rationalization of the imputs through out the day ) They tend to have really screwed up dreams and then they wake with a bad attitude and go on about the day make more of the same thing all over again.

I am not in the power seat and you likely don't want me there, but I don't watch TV (( The almost mindlessness of it these days is staggering )) I rarely listen to Radio news.  So if I were to become the "King" of the world I'd put all the world leaders and their henchmen in a big room and a bunch of wiffle bats and leave them there for a few decades.  (( don't ask about the food they will get you might have just eaten! ))

I could not promise world harmony but I would sure try to get better healthcare for everyone,  the pharma-biz would take a bit of beating some of them are likely to join the world leaders in that room.

And Yes I will ahve video sales after the fact, we have to fund raises for the widows and orpans of those leaders too you know.

Sorry Dan, I was with you up till the point where you said you were going to feed them...
My mom's tuna caserole everyday and her banana pudding,  yak,  or some of my own refridgerator experiments. I am sure they will complain. But I as a newly Crowned King have to feed them, though I have tasted old dog food, I might just force waly-world to make lots of dogfood like roughage for them,  heavy on the undigestible corn, and chicken bone meal.

I did say you might not like to know what I was going to feed them.


"How the hell are we going to live in a world that operates like this?"

Ummm... Maybe we won't

Any improbable event becomes a certainty given enough time, including global nuclear war.

Well, this is one of the main reasons I'm biting my nails for the oil to run out (I hope before the mushroom clouds sprout). We won't be able to build nuclear bombs long past peak. We will live good, happy, healthy tribal lives.
Wow! What a complete crock of unmitigated romantic "noble savage" twaddle. I suggest you read people like Jared Diamond, who have actually lived with the remaining hunter gatherer's out there. Their lives are not the romantic impressionist paradise that you seem to believe (and which was a popular view in the 19th century). There are both pros and cons. But by all means, I urge you to grab a stick, a stone, and go live in the Canadian wilderness in your underwear and tell us how wonderful it really is.
Ahh, I see the problem.  You've clearly chosen attire poorly suited to the region in your previous attempts.  

 I do not watch television so I cannot verify the following. A poster on another board was reporting that after the Iranian enrichment issue broke the lead item on one of the major network newscasts was that "Desperate Housewives" would go direct from broadcast to next day download.
The Desperate Housewives information is so yesterday.  (Lost will also be available next day)

I've been on pins and needles worried about that kitten stuck in the wall.

Let me preface my comments with the following observation: every time I think our Prez has reached a low point past which he can not proceed, I read something the next day that proves me wrong.  It really is amazing how bad/incompetent/awful this guy is.  I have difficulty believeing his approval ratings are still in the mid 30's, as opposed to in single digits.  Now I don't put anything past Bush.  I will not be surprised if Natanz is incinerated by a bunker busting nuke within the next few months.

As for Iran, why is it the end of the world if they get nukes?  Everyone says we can't let them have nukes, that the military option must be kept on the table, etc.  I think the conventional wisdom on this is freakin' crazy.

Nobody, not even George Bush or Ahmedinijad, are more crazy than Kim Jong Il, the Great Leader in North Korea.  But everyone realizes that they have the bomb, and the world hasn't ended yet.  There isn't even a crisis (a standoff maybe, but nothing as serious as what is happening with the Iranian situation).

I'm not saying that Iran getting the bomb is a good thing, but I'd say it's HIGHLY unlikely that Iran would use it's bomb in a first strike.  They know they would be immediately incinerated by US/Israeli nukes if they ever did such a thing.  The same holds true if their fingerprints were ever found on a nuke used by terrorists.

It would be suicide.  They won't do it for the same reason every other nuclear armed country has refrained from using nukes - the desire for self-preservation.  

Now, the Iranians want nukes for the simple reason that it will keep the US and Israel off its back.  It is painfully obvious that the US can't take action against North Korea because of their nukes.  Iraq did not have nukes and look what happened to them.

I'm sure there is more to it than simple self-defense - the desire to acquire the prestige of having a bomb, the fact that Ahmadinijad really is a nutjob himself, etc.  But self-defense is certainly one motivation, and a powerful one.  If I were an Iranian, you can bet your a** I'd want a bomb in a world where Bush is sitting in the White House.  I would want the deterrent.

Finally, it seems the best way to coax Iran to give up its nuclear program is to back off the hard line.  The US can acknowledge Iran's right to enrich uranium under the NPT.  The US could repudiate our nuclear agreement with India, a non-NPT country.  In short, we could show that we're serious about non-proliferation, instead of shutting up about the activities of countries we like and going ape-sh*t when countries we don't like toy with the idea of getting nukes.  The hypocrisy is obvious to even the most dim-witted imbecile.

I'm just so disgusted about this whole thing.  If Bush does end up nuking Iran, that's the last straw for me.  I'm going to go hard core activist and work 24/7 to see that he and his minions are put in the dock and convicted for war crimes.  In fact, I'm ashamed I haven't done it already.

Thank you, zeroworker: The Iranians have children whom they love, and that's why they're not predisposed to mass suicide. As Chomsky pointed out before you, the only rational reaction to Bush the Bellicose is to create a deterrent. Not to excuse any of the despotic...blah blah... lunatic... blah... Holocaust denial... blah blah, but they're still a nation of real, live people, and no one man can push them over the brink. Besides, Khameni wouldn't sign up for the incineration of his real-estate holdings, 12th Imam or no.
Once again, Josh Marshall offers insight to the latest Bush administration twist; this time with regard to the latest Iran-threat story, here.
Thanks Chay

When I heard the news coverage hyping the enrichment of a small amount today, it certainly smelled like the sort of hyping of the threat that we saw with Iraq in 2002.  Knowing the team that is behind these claims and their connection to the Niger yellow-cake claims of 2002 certainly makes one a bit more skeptical than usual.

Regardless, of the technical truth behind these claims, given the non-reality based assumptions, those f us left in the reality-based community need to look at the facts on the ground, rather than the hyped future that may or may not come to pass.   The present day reality is that Iran admits to only 160 or so centrifuges at this plant.  And the US admits that with that number they will succeed in making enough enriched uranium to build a bomb in 13 years!  Not exactly an immenent threat.  Iran may add capacity to reach 3000 in the next year.  But, it may not.  Certainly, to put the claim of 16 days (which requires 18 more years of capacity building at 3000/yr) at the front of the article smacks of the hype surrounding Saddam's capability of launching a chemical attack in only 45 minutes.

Bloomberg is either acting as a stenographer to the Gov't. or they made an editorial decision to hype the worst case scenario and expect the reading public to parse the reality-based part of the article from the fear/fantasy based parts.  

Defcon 4 folks...sounds like a runup to war to me...

>The present day reality is that Iran admits to only 160 or so centrifuges at this plant.  And the US admits that with that number they will succeed in making enough enriched uranium to build a bomb in 13 years!  Not exactly an immenent threat.  Iran may add capacity to reach 3000 in the next year

In 2003 IAEA Inspectors saw 160 centrifuges operating at the plant and parts for several thousand more (that needed assembly). Since that observation back in 2003 its very likely that Iran has assembled many more centrifuges, perhaps more than a thousand. The facility is large enough to hold about 50,000 centrifuges, but is probably unlikely that that have constructed that many centrifuges in that period.

However, if Iran was able to get the majority of the disassembled centrifuges on-line back in 2003, and a thousand or more centrifuges have be processing UF6, its possible that Iran could soon have sufficient quantities of Weapons grade Uranium within a short period to build a bomb. Consider the possibility that Iran might have had a thousand centrifuges online for about 2 years enriching Uranium.

The UN has essential order Iran to end all enrichment processes by the end of the month. If Iran fails to comply with these terms, then its probably very likely that a Air strike will occur sometime in May or June.

I highly doubt that a US air strike will include the use of Nuclear weapons. The nuclear card is simply a tool used to get the Irans to cave in. What is likely to occur is an conventional strike to disable the processing plant, destroy Iranian Air defense systems, and any Iranian military assets cable of distrupting the flow of oil in the Gulf. The US then would deploy a no-fly/demilitarized zone over parts of the country and make us of air power to prevent the Iranians from using the enrichment plants.

Any bets as to whether that no-fly zone would include the oil fields?
>Any bets as to whether that no-fly zone would include the oil fields?

No, unless there are nuclear sites or the Iranians attempt to deploy miltary hardware with in the fields that would endanger US pilots. The US probably has little interest in the Iranian fields as they are nearly depleted. Iran has past peak oil production in the 1980s and is struggling to keep production up. The only abundant energy resource that Iran has left is Natural Gas. Which would be of interest to Europe, Russia, India, and China, since it could be transported to these regions using pipelines. Using the Gas reserves would require a large investment in Gas to Liquids or Gas Liquification. It seems likely that the US would turn to coal (via Coal to Syngas) as a Natural gas replacement. Any land occupation of Iran for its Gas Assets would probably be either Russia or Europe. I don't think the US would permit China to move military assets in the region, and the rest of Asia (India, Japan) lacks that Military assets and personel to occupy Iran. I don't think the US would object to a Russian deployment assuming that the necessary agreements could be established.

The most important objective of the US for the Middle East is stablity and to keep the oil flowing as long as possible. Including making sure all major world powers have access to it.

Such a noble cause - this is fantasy.

If you bother to read the manifesto published by the people running this show, you will find the goal is to secure the energy sources AGAINST anyone who could be a rival to US power.

Decline or no, there is still enough oil in the Iranian fields to make it a juicy prize.  BTW, there are precious few large fields that are not in decline.

>If you bother to read the manifesto published by the people running this show, you will find the goal is to secure the energy sources AGAINST anyone who could be a rival to US power.

Where do you see this, or are you just reading in between the lines and drawing your own conclusions?

The US is still permitting the rest of the world to buy oil from the Middle East, and US oil companies are still drilling and selling drilling equipment to foriegn countries. For instance, Why doesn't  the US gov't prevent drilling rigs to be sold overseas to foriegn powers? In addition, the US asked for a global military effort against Iraq. Why invite other powers if your intension is to hog all the oil?

As it stands the US is still sharing access to oil and oil related technology to virtually everyone. Until this policy changes, it isn't a fantasy, its reality.

>Decline or no, there is still enough oil in the Iranian fields to make it a juicy prize.

I doubt it, and neither does Dr. Samsam Bakhtiari:

The Iranian fields have been over driven and its likely that Iran is due for a production collapse soon.

>BTW, there are precious few large fields that are not in decline

These are all heavy or sour crude and they aren't that large either. Iran's only abundant reserve left is natural gas.

Since that observation back in 2003 its very likely that Iran has assembled many more centrifuges, perhaps more than a thousand.

Where did they get all this equipment?  Or did the russians take apart a bunch of old centrifuges and ship them to Iran?

>Where did they get all this equipment?  Or did the russians take apart a bunch of old centrifuges and ship them to Iran?

I don't know. However, its not terribly difficult to manufacture them. Its possible that Iran purchased the materials required (steel tubing) and manufactured them some where inside of Iran.

"...swirl down history's drain."

That's some funny sh1t.

Ouch! That's gotta hurt!

===== ===== =====

Looks like it did hurt.

The second graph would be fun if it were a roller coaster.

Phew! It's a good thing China's economay and oil use is going to cool off a little this year -- oh, wait a minute:

BEIJING (AFX) - China's crude oil imports totalled 37.13 mln metric tons in the first quarter of 2006, up 25.3 pct year-on-year, the General Administration of Customs said.

Full story:

A 25 percent increase! What on earth?? I used to be happy before I came to this site :)

simple answer...china is doing exactly what the u.s. is doing, building up a reserve against supply else do you get increasing prices during a period of supposed "low demand"?...or ,too simple?
I think Chinese gasoline (petrol) and diesel price caps were driving the fuel market away from them because sellers didn't want to get ripped off.  The goverment of China recently bumped up the price caps 3% - 5%.  This could lead to increased supply and therefor increased consumption.
That's an interesting observation BP. I wonder how much refining capacity China has? As with all things China, I imagine however much it is, that it's going up. They did import marginally fewer oil products, which includes gasoline, correct?

I think 1 metric ton is roughly equal to 8 barrels of oil. Therefore that would be 297 million barrels, or roughly 3.3 million bpd of imports for the quarter. I hope steverino's comment about a SPR is right. If this is simply an increase in consumption (and a 100 percent increase in auto imports does make one wonder) then things are not looking good.

He he, there are those who say that Iran wants to drive the price of oil to $100(USD)/barrel to put the screws to the West. Wouldn't it be neat if the Chinese were helping that along? Not that I believe that at all, but conspiracy theories are fun!

The crude oil import numbers are impressive.  But this jumped out at me too:
Imports of automobiles and chassis from January to March surged 103.4 pct year-on-year to 50,874 units, with 21,869 units imported in March.

The magnitude of China's economy is now of an order that their yoy incremental growth is a substantial number in global terms.  The petri dish is filling up very quickly indeed now.

It strikes me as a fascinating coincidence that the developing nations' economic size and acceleration are kicking into high gear at the same time that we are peaking (usual caveats of +/- few years, conventional vs. all-liquids, etc.).

Anyone up for a quick game of Last Man Standing?

David Lightman: [to Joshua] Come on. Learn, goddammit.

[after playing out all possible outcomes for Global Thermonuclear War]
Joshua: Greetings, Professor Falken.
Stephen Falken: Hello, Joshua.
Joshua: A strange game. The only winning move is not to play. How about a nice game of chess?

Or perhaps this... (Last Scene, Three Days of the Condor)

You think not getting caught in a lie
is the same thing as telling the truth?

No. It's simple economics.

Today it's oil, right?

In a few years-- food, plutonium,
and maybe even sooner.

What doyou think the people
are going to want us to do then?

Ask them.

Not now. Then. Ask them
when they're running out.

Ask them when there's no heat
and they're cold.

Ask them when
their engines stop.

Ask them when people who have never
known hunger start going hungry.

Want to know something?
Theywon't want us to ask them.

They'll want us
to get it for them.

I'd forgotten about that scene.  Fascinatingly prophetic.
Wasn't there a Star Trek episode where Kirk, as a student, had to defeat a scenario that was purposefully written to be unwin-able?  He won by illegally rewriting the computer program.  Maybe we need that kind of out of the box thinking--not that I think we'll get it from the current adminstration....
The Kobayashi Maru scenario.  There was a decent ST novel with Chekhov's, Kirk's and Scotty's solutions to that and other scenarios.

why the huge production drop? Plenty of crude. Is the lower quality starting to be an issue (harder to find refinery capacity for higher sulfur etc?)
Yes, plus the changeover in the reformulated gasoline's primary additive from MTBE to ethanol (FBOB) in many markets, resulting in a lag (downtime) at the refinery.

Non-reformalated gas supplies actually rose, but demand rose faster.
Additonal info:

i have been following this forum for a while,  and i wish you guys would give summeries on your posts explaing things to idiots like myself .  It may seem obvious and redundant,  but it will really help imbiciles like myself.  Thanks .  
The same people in the administration are telling the same lies about Iran they told before about Iraq. It is all bullshit. Juan Cole is a source of Middle Eastern news that I have come to trust as he has been right on regarding Iraq.

Iran has not attacked any of their neighbors and has good relations with most countries in their region.  We, however, have been threatening them since Reagan. It is sad that right now, both the US and Iran are being ruled by religious whackos.

You know, we have never tried diplomacy with Iran. The CIA overthrew their last popularly elected government in 1953 and installed the Shah. The Shah ruled with an iron fist. His secret police imprisoned, tortured, and executed thousands. We supported the Shah until the bitter end. No wonder Iranians are a little distrustful of us. Is it any wonder some of them might consider revenge?

What incentive do they have to trust the US or to cooperate with us, eh? We encouraged Saddam to invade Iran, supported Iraq in their 10 year war, shot down a civilian airliner that was on the way to Mecca with 300 pilgrims, and constantly referred to them as part of non-existant axis of evil. Saddam disarmed, and what did it get him?

A lot of Iranians don't like us. They don't have any reason to like us. Hell, even I don't like us anymore. We have become the evil empire.

Stop the Iran War!

the immortal words of Pogo
"We have Met the Enemy (And He is Us.)"
Costa rica Johns

Do you have a citation for this?:

>>shot down a civilian airliner that was on the way to Mecca with 300 pilgrims<<

Some, but not all of the passangers had Mecca as their final destination, the plane was not headed there directly

Thank you for this
Happened in 1988 during the Iran-Iraq war. USS Vincennes shot down an Iranian plane they thought was an F-14, but turned out to be a civilian Airbus. See for ex
"I will never apologize for the United States of America! I don't care what the facts are!"
-- George Herbert Walker Bush, 1988 (Referring to the USS Vincennes downing an Iranian civil airliner)

 In fairness to the USS Vincennes I think it worthwhile to point out that the fleet units in company with her referred to her as the Robo-Killer. She was ready and willing to shoot down anything, anywhere, at any time. It didn't matter if it was US, or foreign, she was going to blow it out of the sky.
It was an Iranian jetliner that was shot down in July of 1987 by the USS Vincennes. The warship stated at the time they believed it was an Iranian F-14 (of the type that we eagerly sold them back when the Shah was in power) and later stated that it was in an 'attack profile' (my Dr Stranglove terminology may be incorrect) on the vessel. It turns out that this was not the case, and the the airliner was turning away and ascending at the time it was shot down with complete loss of life.

 Subkommander Dred

The Washington Post early editions repeat the 16 day claim, although its downplayed here.  But with the current level of hysteria, all articles are interpreted to mean how Iran is coming closer to getting nuclear weapons - even if that closer means 1/5000 of the way to a possible nuclear weapon.

As usual we are treated to the pro-adminsitration party opening line in every story about "Iran ... developing nuclear capacity".  I believe that the 16 day period comment was made as to coincide with the April 28 reporting date to the UN.

Meanwhile the NY Times reports it will take a bit longer than 16 days to produce a nuclear weapon:

"The United States government has put that at 5 to 10 years, and some analysts have said it could come as late as 2020."

Enriched uranium is only a quarter of the story anyway.  Then you have to put in in a configuration that will actually explode on command in a small light enough configuration to fit in a delivery mechanism.  Then the missile/bomber has to be tested.

16 days is completely ludicrous figure outside Hollywood of course.  There an engineer can work out an alien virus and infect a ship in a few days so that must be the timescale they  are working on - Hollywood time.

>Enriched uranium is only a quarter of the story anyway.  Then you have to put in in a configuration that will actually explode on command in a small light enough configuration to fit in a delivery mechanism.

This can be all done prior to having the enriched uranium and the design can be tested using un-enriched uranium. Once a portion of weapons grade Uranium is available, it can be quickly melted and poured into molds and machined on a lathe or milling machine to the desired mechanical tolerances. Enrichment is the tough part, they rest is easy.

>Then the missile/bomber has to be tested.

Iran isn't going to use a missile or bomber to deploy a Nuclear weapon. It will simply provide the bomb to a terrorist group to deploy and detenate it. This also makes Iran less likely a target for retailation since it pausible that the bomb came from some other source (ie Russian black market). The best option is to prevent Iran from getting the bomb. They can't use what they don't have.

Just because you own a gun (for "home defense") does not mean you are going to take it out on the town and shoot random people with it.  Even if some people in town consider you hard to get along with.
It is faulty logic to be worrying about Iran's nuclear ambitions, even IF true and ready in the short term.
I do not mind my neighbors who are armed with hunting rifles or shotguns or .45 automatic pistols or similar weapons for self-defense--as most of them are. But if my neighbors (such as a number of people [not my neighbors] in Minneapolis) have AK-47s and similar full-automatic weapons with large magazines, I begin to wonder what exactly they may be used for. There is a reason why Minneapolis was nicknamed "Murderopolis."

In the rural and small-town county where I live, aside from drunken vehicular and domestic homicides, I think there have been no murders at all for the past twenty years, though there have been a number of bank robberies and a few muggings with minor injuries, plus a number of nonfatal hunting accidents.

The defensive and deterrent quality of nuclear weapons I believe is legitimate in superpowers (or former or future super powers) such as Russia and the United States and China, and one can make a case for Israel. But I think nuclear weapons in the hands of India and Pakistan is a Very Bad Thing, and in the case of North Korea, sooner or later that insane and dangerous regime must go. There is a qualitative difference in nuttiness between the heavy-drinking twerp in N. Korea and his terrorized subordinates in comparison to our deeply flawed but not crazy G.W. Bush.

>Iran has not attacked any of their neighbors and has good relations with most countries in their region.  We, however, have been threatening them since Reagan.

This is false. Iran has been engaged in a covert war against the US and Israel since the beginning of the Iranian revolution. Its called Terriorism. Iran has been training, funding, and arming terrorists throughout the Middle East, Europe, and Asia. Iran has also tried to undermine the US gov't with counterfeiting and other clandestine tactics that have just failed.

>We supported the Shah until the bitter end.
Not really, other wise he would have not been overthrown or a he would have been replaced with successor of our choosing.

>A lot of Iranians don't like us. They don't have any reason to like us.

This is false. A large portion of the Iranian population does not hate the US, and likes western culture. US goods, Media (Movies) are prized in Iran. Its only the Revolutionary guard that is control of the country is anti-american. In many disasters that occured in Iran, the US has airlifted food and medical supplies to Iran.
(a Google search will turn up lots of articles like these)

>Stop the Iran War!

Great! Lets all work to convience the Iranians to give up Uranium Enrichment, then there won't be any need to for war to endanger the lives on both sides! The US and Russia are also willing to provide Iran with fuel rods for their nuclear power program. Why won't the Iranians agree to a compromise? Whats unfair with this compromise?

It's not possible to commit terrorism against Israel. It's all Palestinian territory and if they want to declare downtown Jerusalem a testing range for explosives, who has the right to object? It's the Palestinian's country and they can use eminent domain to seize any portion of it at any time. The 6 million European tourists called Israelis have no standing in what is somebody else's country.
Of course, by that logic, if the Chumash Indians declare Palo Alto a free fire zone, do I have the right to object if I get killed? I'll have to think about that.
But don't call them terrorists. They are freedom fighters, the resistance, or the patriots. Just as you would be if the Russians invaded the US after getting beat up on by the Chinese and kicked out of their country.
Terroists is hate language. It belongs on a political blog. Let's stick to oil.
Pacific Ethanol was being pushed as a good investment by someone yesterday. I just ran across this link tonight:

The bottom line? "More gambling than investing. Pass at current prices."

I also happened across a link that makes some of the same arguments I have made at my blog about the true cost of grain ethanol. I have argued that displacement of a gallon of gas costs at least $4 in subsidies, but they conclude that it is more like $7.87. Good stuff, and they make a nice presentation:


Keithster100 was. I believe him to be a pump-and-dumper and shill for ethanol stocks, based on previous posts.
Let me say this about Iran. It is NOT Iran that we should be talking about. One can engage in all kinds of speculations about what kind of danger Iran would represent under these or those conditions. But all of this is a total distraction from a KNOWN and UNDENIABLE danger.

There is a power that defnitely possess nuclear weapons, possesses more than anyone else, is threatening to use them, has used them, is continuing to develop them, has violated or torn up or walked away from all kinds of treaties involving these and other weapons, has a policy of pre-emptive war, has destabilized and staged coups in innumerable countries all over the world, has invaded many countries, uses between 25 and 30 pct of the world's resources, employs and sanctions tortue, seizes people anywhere in the world it likes and "renders" them to places of torture, holds its own citizens in indefinite detention, has rigged its own presidential elections, has over 700 military bases all over the world, has half the world's military budget, and the lion's share of the arms trade, and ... do you think I couldn't go on?

So why is the focus on Iran and not on this power? Is it because this power uses power it to corrupt and intimidate the governments and media of other countries?

This tactic of always putting the spotlight on SOMEONE ELSE's faults, the NEXT VICTIM, has to be combatted. The spotlight has to be turned on the power that is committing these crimes. It's not that other powers are as pure as the driven snow -- far from it. But there has to be a focus on the main problem. It's absolutely ridiculous to be discussing Iran's faults.

As long as the POTUS is a total liar, as long as Fox News continues to be comprehensible only when viewed as a propagnda ministry, when the rest of the MSM is primarily disseminating propaganda, serious people will be reduced to parsing factoids and arguing over angels dancing on the heads of pins. Clear thinking will not prevail in the face of so much disinfo.

May God help us. We don't seem to want to help ourselves.

The thing I get from those amazing video clips ("we don't wiretap, we need to get a warrant before we wiretap") is that they guy gets a buzz, a fix, from standing up and saying the opposite of what he is really doing.  Scary.
Well... everyone on the West knows that. And everyone of us is more or less a complicitor. Money and power rule and this same country is holding both.

Putting the guilt on someone else is a very basic psychological instinct. As long as it works the powers will be able to manipulate the public however they want to. If you ask me we are doomed on that point - we've already either embraced the hipocricy in our lives or found various ways not to confront it.

On the bright side after we accomplish that good work of shooting ourselves in the feet (or in the head in the more extreme scenarios) our resistance forces will need to wake up... we will not have much choice if we want to survive.

"And every one of us is more or less a complicitor."


Disenfranchised minorities?

No innocent victims?

Or do you have to try to assasinate somebody so as not to be ". . . more or less a complicitor"?????

N.B. Collective guilt absolves individual responsibility, because if everybody is a complicitor, then no one individual bears a noticeable amount of guilt and responsibility.

Those who have authority have responsibility.

We do not like those in authority.

Therefore, let us get rid of them by legal political means, because the alternatives are not likely to work.

"Therefore, let us get rid of them by legal political means, because the alternatives are not likely to work."

I agree, but I am no longer convinced the leagal political means are functioning.  I will continue to participate, as it cost me nothing to try, but I'll be watching very closely.  This election will be very interesting for so many reasons.

The alternative to legal political means is blood in the streets. Since the American Revolution, most of the rest have failed. Look at France--what a mess that was. France, by the way, is an interesting example of a great country full of mostly decent people who have had five hundred years of bad government, often atrociously bad governments, and yet despite all this and losing just about every military battle and war since Napoleon invaded Russia, the French people (except for the poor ones, especially immigrants from N. Africa) are doing pretty well, except for their penchant for alcoholism.  

But of course, as deGaulle put it: "Who can govern a country with 400 kinds of cheese?"

Yes, I understand the issue, and it infuriates me to see a system of such worth and value taken apart for money and power.  Perhaps I will be pleasantly surprised by the resilience of that system.  Perhaps not.  

6 months, at the most, until I find out.  

"6 months, at the most, until I find out." Yes, I agree with that. My anxiety level is going through the roof.
Has a modern state that kept control of its military ever been overthrown by a popular revolution?
I cannot help but be reminded of the wise words:
"The system reinforces the system".
Do not look for radical change from within the system.
That's why I said everyone of us is more or less a complicitor. Of course assuming that children and others with no power are outside the group. I did not say "all of us are responsible", thus smearing responsibility.

"Those who have authority have responsibility"

Who elected them? Whose responsibility is to remove them? The fact we are not really "getting rid of them by legal political means" is proving we are failing to meet our responsibilities. I acknowledge a lot of people are resisting but in this case I'd prefer the glass to look as half-empty instead of half full.

The real problem is as to why we are failing? Isn't it because part of us is always bound to the status quo? I didn't mean to smear responsibility, but to pose this question to everyone.

16 Days, huh?

  Wasn't it the "16 words" that were the famous bit of battle- baiting in the State-of-the-Union re: Iraq's supposed weapons?  Think they're so sick of it up there that they have decided to just mess with our heads?

Good catch. Is there anyway I can copyright the phrase so Hollywood has to buy it from me?
This shows how, like in the runup to the Iraq war, the media is eager and complicit in their propagation of war-mongering information and propaganda. I fear for the future of this country if the public continues to be misled into pre-emptive wars.

As Iraq has heralded the beginning of the "Energy Wars," it is clear that we have reached a crossroads. The current path pursued by the U.S. is leading to war, confrontation, and a scramble to a bitter end for the world's remaining resources. The alternative path of conservation, negotiation, and relative peace and harmony is fading. Iraq and the confrontation with Iran is the begining of the end for the American Empire, and all the good things it has stood for.

It is a sad era indeed.

I'm just testing out some new graphs. Any comment, question, or criticism is welcome.

Oil Rig Activity 1998 to 2006

This one is just the monthly numbers these two companies track with 13-month centered moving averages added.

Drilling is up, Price is up, Production is flat(?)

Drilling is up, Price is up, Production is flat(?)

More smaller deposits requiring more rigs and yielding less oil?
Right on all counts.  Rig activity is a good measure of new exploration, and to some extent desperation to combat depletion of existing fields. The oil outfits are having to look longer and pay more to find and pump less.
"Drilling is up, Price is up, Production is flat(?)"

Well, if I had lots of wells I'd love to prove a few more, knowing I could produce them at $100/bbl

The next one compares the production chart I posted last week to the rig count data from the chart above. Since the Schlumberger and BH numbers seem to correlate fairly well above, I'll just include Baker numbers here, since they go back all the way to 1995. I've removed the centered average from the Rig count data to get rid of some clutter.

Notice the spike in activity in 2005 and 2006, unmatched by production gains.

Oil Production vs. Oil Rig Activity

And the last one is that same production data plotted against the price of crude oil (Nymex Futures).

The dollars are nominal, I have not inflation adjusted.

Oil Production vs Price 1995 to 2006

What would this last graph look like with percentage changes from same month last year in both production and price? Could you please plot this graph, thanks.
It doesn't really work, because the percentages for price range up to 150% while production is all under 8%. When you plot on two axes everything gets thrown out of whack and you can't see much of anything. I'm going to keep playing with that idea using some other methods.

I like the graphs.  Haven't completely digested info yet.  Please continue refining them and bringing data to us.

Very nice.  That makes it clear that the last two "plateaus" before this one were led by a price decline (ie they were demand side-led), where prices have gone up or stayed high through this one.
18 months before food disappears from US shelves?

An interview with Lindsey Williams, Minister to men working on the Alaskan Pipeline for 3 years.

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Totally unrelated topic: Recent Italian politics -

Though I try to exert some discipline in making wild-ass speculations and suggesting connections where there is no evidence of any, I just can't help myself on this one.

It just occurred to me that only one day after Silvio Berlusconi had been voted out of power, Italy's most wanted fugitive, Bernardo Provenzano, the 'capo di tutti capi' of the Mafia, was captured outside the town of Corleone, Sicily. Coincidence?

Bernado 'The Tractor' Provenzano had been underground for almost 40 years, had been the subject of a nationwide manhunt for many years, and the Italian authorities decide to make their move practically the instant Berlusconi is out of power. Given the bizzare nature of Italian politics and the centuries-old role of the Mafia, it's not too hard to see a connection. Or is it just that I've seen too many Godfather movies?

Anyway, it looks like with Berlusconi out of power, Bush has lost another chum.  I'd like to see Tony Blair go down next.

My personal view is that Tony is a Bush's friend by necessity. Anybody changing him will not (I stress on that) break the allience with US. UK is losing power - in both senses of the word :) Sorry that I have to say it, but it also has a very deluded and spoiled by the years of cheap oil and NG general public that is effectively forcing its government in this quest for energy along with US. This will not change unless our government does something really out of limits like attacking Iran. Of course this will not happen unless we become much more desperate than we are now.

Berlusconi is a totally different animal. He is corrupt, arrogant and dangerous for his own country. I see where its appeal for the sheepish majority (present in any country) comes from, and I am glad that Italians finally found the will to bail him out.

Maybe some cop knew where he was and kept quiet till Berlusconi fell, and then swooped in to arrest him before the new president took over and renewed the treaty with the mafia?
I regard TOD as a bastion of the reality-based community. Sometimes, I almost think I'm on an island surrounded by a virtual sea of madness - the real world. However, there are people posting who do really seem to relish deliberately misunderstanding each other. In a strange way it's almost analogous to the 'misunderstandings' we are witnessing between Iran and the United States. It's like there are forces in both camps that are 'allies' and see conflict as a means to an end, and that end is, more Power for themselves. I don't think I need to add that such a 'reciprocal mechanism' is both difficult to control and ultimately very dangerous.

What also worries me is all this talk about 'madness.' Some have written that Bush and Ahmadinejad are 'crazy' or 'mad.' I think I've done this myself when I've gotten irritated. It's easy to do. I've also read that feigning madness is a 'tactic' which has it's advantages. One is 'unpredictable' 'illogical' and therefore harder to second guess in a conflict situation.

Now, one's heard this many times in relation to North Korea and their tactics and increasingly the same kind of arguments are used in realation to Iran and the United States.

This whole idea is Dangerous. We risk not being able or capable of communicating with each other in a conflict/crisis situation. Surely none of us is served by this bizarre situation?

We can go way back and find examples of this tactic of feigned madness being used, for example in Shakespeare's Hamlet. Hamlet survives by pretending to be mentally unstable or 'mad.' However, Hamlet is weak and uses 'madness' to hide behind and show that he is not a real threat. 'Madness' is the tactic the weak use to survive.

Do we really think 'madness' is a tactic the leaders of a super-power should be using? A super-power cannot by definition be 'weak' can it? Why adopt the attitude of the weak then? Surely a super-power like the United States should be so strong that its very 'predictability' is a sign of strength and purpose, not weakness?

<Tongue in cheek, school playground voice>
"Oh yeah?  Well, our leader is crazier than your leader!"

What is this world coming to?  A Dr. Strangelove-ian farce?

Historically, human relationships have always been about power. Power within the family unit, clan, tribe, or nation. Given that historic reality, it is natural for many to continue in that line of thought and to observe the world and plan their actions within that context. In such a worldview there are two choices - lord or vassal. Naturally, those holding such a worldview gravitate towards the notion that they should be the "lords" and others should be the "vassals". (I am not arguing that such a worldview is "correct" or not, simply pointing out the conclusions that arise from holding such a worldview.)

Therefore, conducting your foreign policy while based in such a worldview in a manner that seeks to enhance your power while diminishing that of others is completely consistent and rational. The problem then is not the logic of those in power because, given their underlying assumptions, their conclusions are inescapable. The problem is their assumptions.

Your post comes from a completely different set of assumptions and thus concludes that these actions are unstable. I don't see that at all. I've read the positions of the neocons and they appear to be acting completely rationally inside the context of their worldview. Attacking what they are doing doesn't help because from their perspective they've already proven that their course of action is the most rational course to take. If the rest of us are going to derail this, we have to derail them by attacking their assumptions and exposing the errors there. Unfortunately this is not a purely "good guy"/"bad guy" scenario. Both sides are more bad than good here and that is used as a leverage point by both sides against the other. (The US points at Iran. Iran points at the US. And on we go in a self-reinforcing cycle.)

Finally, I saw another argument made somewhere (I don't think it was TOD). Foreign Affairs has published an article titled The Rise of U.S. Nuclear Primacy, arguing that the US now has the capacity to launch a first strike against Russia and/or China and not suffer serious consequences for doing so. The hypothesis put forth is that the US is going to make an example of Iran using nuclear weapons in order to break the taboo against nuclear weapon usage and to clearly convey to Russia and China that they are now vassal states to the US. This thought is mind boggling yet given the wrong assumptions, such a conclusion might be inevitable.

WaPo has this article today, which may be apropos to our previous discussion of how poor areas become gentrified, and what happens to the ordinary folk when it happens:

Waves of wealth swamp Rocky Mountain West

As the rich ride in, many are priced out of homes on the range

JACKSON, Wyo. - In an era when the rich are the only income group getting richer, ever-larger waves of wealth are spilling in from the coasts and swamping the resort valleys of the Rocky Mountain West.

...The rich have collectively inflated real estate to prices that are far beyond the means of those who serve them supper, take their blood pressure or police their gated subdivisions. The service workers -- professionals and blue-collar alike -- tend to live in adjacent valleys and commute.

There is simmering resentment of the rich. Before a tour of pricey houses here last year, vandals stole 40 signs and changed the name of the tour from "Parade of Homes" to "Parade of Wealth."

I was getting a haircut today.  My barber is a fairly conservative guy.  Another customer groaned about the cost of living, and I mentioned that my sister just spent $58 filling her minivan.  My barber said he spent $78 filling his van, and claimed that, "it only costs $5 to take a barrel out of the ground, but they stick us for another 60 bucks!"

I don't generally argue with someone holding a straight razor (and I'm no authority on the real cost anyway), but clearly someone is already telling people who to blame.

Something I've seen no (or almost no) mention in all the Iran threads:  Pakistan.  Seems to me that an attack on Iran would likely result in the fall of the Musharraf regime, which is barely holding on as it is (with violent protests against US raids on border villages).  That means Pakistan, a country twice as large as Iran, would be taken over by Talibans - and they already have nukes.

But I guess Pakistan does not have oil and gas, so who cares, uh?

To start a different line of discussion:  what can China and Russia do to stop the Iran war?  Threaten to join in the mutual destruction?

Just saw an analysis predicting a shortfall of nuclear engineers numbering in the many hundreds over the next decade.  Would certainly put a wrench in the works of nuclear power programs.
I've been aware of this for some time, one of the main reasons I sometimes have not given much credence to the prospects of heavily ramped up nuclear power (fission) generation as a solution to diminishing hydrocarbon energy sources.
We're also short mining engineers and petroleum engineers, to name but a couple.
Stick with wind; it's lower tech. Just need to figure out the storage :)
>Just saw an analysis predicting a shortfall of nuclear engineers numbering in the many hundreds over the next decade.  Would certainly put a wrench in the works of nuclear power programs.

The US could probably attract Engineers from overseas to offset declines. Its has worked in the Technology and Medical sectors. I don't see any reason why it would not apply to Nuclear power.

I believe the analysis included overseas engineers - given the source (can't tell, would need a lawyer!), it should have.  
Err...that is a worldwide shortage, Techguy. Much like the worldwide shortage for petroleum (and to a lesser extent, mining) engineers. You'd have to find a way to take them from somebody else's ramping up nuclear program, a robbing Peter to pay Paul approach.
On Wednesday, Iran's deputy nuclear chief said his country intends to increase production at Natanz to the facility's full capacity of 54,000 centrifuges.

Mohammad Saeedi told Iran's Mehr News Agency that at full capacity, Natanz would provide enough low-grade uranium to operate a 1,000-megawatt power station.

Saeedi gave no timetable to reach the 54,000-centrifuge operation but said the country would have 3,000 centrifuges operational by next March. Nuclear weapons require several thousand centrifuges.

To quote Thomas Friedman in his interview with Terry Gross on Fresh Air

"Go Girl!"

The crazier Iran gets, the higher likelihood we invade and send oil to $100. I can't think of a fast way to get the American public to wake up and reduce carbon emissions.

Should we wait for a new hunderd million more cars in China to be manufactured?

Let the bombing begin.  Just try not to hit too many urban areas.