Iran again

According to the Daily Telegraph, British officials are convinced that a US attack on Iran is "inevitable".

The Government is to hold secret talks with defence chiefs tomorrow to discuss possible military strikes against Iran.

A high-level meeting will take place in the Ministry of Defence at which senior defence chiefs and government officials will consider the consequences of an attack on Iran.

It is believed that an American-led attack, designed to destroy Iran's ability to develop a nuclear bomb, is "inevitable" if Teheran's leaders fail to comply with United Nations demands to freeze their uranium enrichment programme.

I recommend reading the whole thing.

Meanwhile, the Iranians are engaging in some serious saber-rattling, testing a new high-speed torpedo in the Gulf of Hormez, through which 40% of the world's oil must pass.

Iran successfully tested its second new torpedo in as many days Monday, the latest weapon to be unveiled during war games in the Gulf that the military said are aimed at preparing the country's defenses against the United States.

A spokesman for the elite Revolutionary Guards suggested the new, Iranian-made torpedo was more powerful and capable of going deeper than others in its arsenal.

Gen. Mohammad Ebrahim Dehghani told state television the ship-launched weapon can target submarines at any depth and is powerful enough to "break a heavy warship" in two. He did not give the name of the new torpedo or any details of its speed or range.

The torpedo was tested in the Straits of Hormuz, the narrow entrance of the Gulf and a vital corridor for oil supplies.

A day earlier, Iran announced it had tested a different new torpedo - the high-speed "Hoot," which means "whale." Iran said the Hoot, moving at up to 223 mph, was too fast for any enemy ship to elude. On Friday, it tested the Fajr-3, a missile that it said can avoid radars and hit several targets simultaneously using multiple warheads.
Israeli and US authorities expressed some scepticism, but oil prices jumped another $2 just in case.

The United States government is hopeful that the military operation will be a multinational mission, but defence chiefs believe that the Bush administration is prepared to launch the attack on its own or with the assistance of Israel, if there is little international support. British military chiefs believe an attack would be limited to a series of air strikes against nuclear plants - a land assault is not being considered at the moment.

Great, is there a better way to F-up our future than a joint US-Israeli attack on Iran?

Then is this going to be the 'Western Front' in the battle-plan?  I think there's some talk of getting the Boy Scouts to take on the ground assault...

"Last week, Venezuela's oil minister, Rafael Ramirez, said of Exxon Mobil Corp. "we don't want them to be here" because the Irving, Texas-based company has resisted tax increases and contract changes that are part of a policy by President Hugo Chavez's government to re-nationalize the oil industry."

What other country in it's right mind would sign onto this stupidity.

Yes, an attack on Tel Aviv. That would be far worse.

I've got to admit, that is exactly the kind of false dichotomy our recent foreign policy is built upon.
And does an attack on Iran actually serve to DEcrease the chances that Israel is targeted?

It's not just the PLO that has 'Never missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity'  The mutual paranoia in the region has done well for the arms dealers, and practically noone else.

It buys them 5-10 years.
Promises, promises.
Even for a doomer, this is ominous. Is it time for alarm yet?
On the eve of a US attack, I have a question for the readers: Who is more likeable- George Bush or that wacko President of Iran?
wacko President of Iran?

The 'wacko' label is based on what dataset?

Neither, and the presenting the problem as a choice between which personality is more likeable is just beyond dumb. Both these goofballs might just get their way and plunge us into what should have been an avoidable war. The tendancy of the bystanders (that's us)  to get involved in team boosterism is of no benefit to us. Neither one of these meglomanic sociopaths has anybodies interest at heart except their own and their friends, don't get sucked into thinking that power players give a rats ass about you or yours.

Actually I think this is bluff and bluster time.  

Actually I tried for a funny post and failed. I meant to say that both guys display a lot of similar personality traits (at least publicly). Sorry.
This latest Iranian test of a torpedo it claims can travel at 223 mph is interesting for several reasons.

If I understand correctly, any torpedo that can travel that fast is very likely a 'super-cavitating torpedo' (sometimes just called a 'cavitating torpedo').  Essentially, the principle is to rocket-propel the torpedo up to some critical speed at which point the unique frontal shape of the torpedo causes cavitation, or the formation of tiny bubbles of water vapor as the result of localized pressure drop. Once that point is reached, the torpedo finds itself surrounded by a blanket of micro bubbles that offers far less drag resistance than totally liquid water. Because of that, the torpedo, using the same amount of power, can travel at speeds several times faster than a conventional torpedo.

However, the development of such a torpedo has been fraught with a number of daunting problems, namely having to do aimability, control,  and range. The US Navy has done extensive work on super-cavitating torpedos, as have the Russians. The first version of a largely experimental Russian super-cavitating torpedo is named the Skvall (Squall). It is believed that the ill-fated Kursk may have been testing such a torpedo when it sank.

The main point here is that if indeed the Iranian claim is true, then that would almost assuredly mean that either the torpedo is a Russian Squall or its successor, or an Iranian-built torpedo based on technology supplied by the Russians.  I very seriously doubt that the Iranians would have the hydrodynamic R &D capability to develop something of this level of sophistication all on their own.

So, if this is not just fanciful propaganda on the part of the Iranians,  then it appears we might have a very disturbing situation in which the Russians have already supplied the Iranians with some of their top-of-the-line weaponry capable of doing serious damage to our naval presence in the Gulf, not to mention a much more serious threat to tanker traffic than already exists. Of course the trick is to launch the thing before you are detected and destroyed.

I don't claim to be an expert on modern naval weaponry, so I would be very interested to hear further comments by anyone out there who might be.  

I am not an expert too, but today the main Russian state TV channel has claimed that "Squall" might be smuggled into Iran through (the former Soviet republic of) Kyrgyzstan. Taking into account the level of propaganda, it may be just a diplomatic cover-up.
Anyway, the goal of Russian policy is downright: to arm the weakest so as the sides could shipwreck each other.
I found some interesting background on the Shkval.  Also, more evidence that the Iranian missile has Russian roots at, and other background at Airborne Combat Engineer.  Video footage of the Hout from Iranian TV at IranFocus
The Hoot and this technology is hard to maneuver or change course.

Also, what they fired and showed film of left an obvious wake which would be a drawback. But like any new weapon, if you have it in penny-packets it does not help much. You need lots of them.

Seems like if they could use them to sink a few tankers in strategic locations (or even anywhere), that would still be notable.
One tanker hit will put oil through the Persian Sea back 3-6 weeks.

The BIG point here is:  What would the American reaction be to the hit, let alone sinking, of the CVN Ronald Reagan (currently deployed out there) have on the psyche of America (especially red state America)?

For starts, invest in naval construction firms.

A penny or a pound(ing):

No, you (if you're Iran) don't get more than 3 shots, unless they're all going out in the same attack.  It's a good war-starter, but there's the bottleneck of defending the delivery vehicles, as well as your entire military/naval structure.  If we 'had to' take on Iran, tying them up would hang on air power.

Washington would LOVE to see them use one of those, on ANYBODY.  As soon as they throw a punch, GWB has his war.  Til then, Rice and Straw can taunt and tease, and maybe find new ways to trick out an attack..  

"As darkness settled over Europe on the evening of August 31, 1939, and a million and a half German troops began moving forward toward their final positions on the Polish border for the jump-off at dawn, all that remained for Hitler to do was to perpretrate some propaganda trickery to prepare the German people for the shock of aggressive war.

"The people were in need of the treatment which Hitler, abetted by Goebbels and Himmler, had become so expert in applying.  I had been about in the streets of Berlin, talking with the ordinary people, and that morning noted in my diary: "Everybody against the war.  People talking openly.  How can a country go into a major war with a population so dead against it?"  Despite all my experience in the Third Reich I asked such a naive question!  Hitler knew the answer very well.  Had he not the week before on his Bavarian mountaintop promised the generals that he would "give a propagandist reason for starting the war" and admonished them not to "mind whether it was plausible or not"?  "The victor," he had told them, "will not be asked afterward whether he told the truth or not.  In starting a waging a war it is not right that matters, but victory.

  -W'm Shirer,  Rise and Fall of the 3rd Reich  (p593)

..and on 9/1/39, with German SS dressed up as Polish Soldiers, and concentration camp prisoners as the 'Casualties',  Hitler feigned the "Attack on a German Radio Station at Gleiwitz", amongst others, which precipitated the action he had 'Taken every diplomatic tack to avoid'.. (Operation 'Canned Goods')

The YJ-83 is believed to be a derivative of the C-801 anti-ship cruise missile but can travel at supersonic speeds, making it very difficult for ships to stop.

This is a Chinese variant on the Exocet. It is believed that this missile is in Iran's inventory. If true then the Arabian Gulf is an Iranian lake.

The "SQUALL" mentioned by Stuart has a range of 7.5 miles. The Straits of Hormuz are 21 miles wide at the narrowest point.

Both the Exocet and the C-801 are sea skimming missiles and are deadly. The Exocet is relatively slow. It can be defeated by shipboard computer controlled guns which fire depleted uranium slugs to bring down the missile. These guns require about 120 seconds to acquire the target and set up for a firing solution. The Exocet is slow enough that it can be defeated by such gunfire.

The C-801 has a range of 75 to 150 miles (the greater distance has not been confirmed). The claimed speeds are in the order of 28 miles a minute. The missile skims just above the sea surface and its radar signature is lost in the surface clutter. The defensive systems do not have any time to react before the missile makes impact.

During the first Gulf war the coalition air force never once was able to locate and destroy an Iraqi SCUD on the ground. The SCUD and its launch vehicle are the size of a large fire truck. The C-801 is less than a quarter of this size and therefore much more easily hidden. To add to the problem, the west coast of Iran is rocky and cut with inlets and gullys; it is perfect terrain in which to hide this type of missile.

Given the capabilities of this weapon, Iran has the ability to dominate the entire gulf, not just the straits. During the Iran/Iraq war Kuwaiti tankers were reflagged as US vessels to enable USN convoys to be run. Convoy is no longer a viable response.

Given the other weapons Iran has recently demonstrated, I suspect they have been preparing for a confrontation with the US ever since the US supplied WMD precursor chemicals and other assistance to Saddham. My hunch is that George II is full of bluff and bluster. He is not trying to intimidate the Iranians; he seeks to intimidate the US electorate prior to the mid-terms.

This is my first post here after being a lurker for around a while. Firstly thanks for the splendid research undertaken by many on this site.

I have just seen a report in the UK here on the ongoing military exercises being undertaken by Iran. I was extremely interested in seeing a low flying aircraft that the Iranian's were reporting on which appears to be a 'ground effect' aircraft.

To my knowledge the Russians are the only ones that ever got anywhere serious with developing this technology. Larger test aircraft were flown during the last days of the Soviet Union.

Along with the torpedo I think this is quite significant.

Hi. I think I understand the potential military significance of the torpedo ... Ground effects might lead to a higher payload and some measure of stealth at the cost of flying only a minimal distance over the surface. Any other significance?

The BBC reported a denial by the MoD of any meeting to take place today.  Story

Regardless of whether or not this particular meeting took place I'm in no doubt that British, American and Israeli Officials have been preparing for some time.

Recall that Ariel Sharon had ordered Israeli Defence Forces to be ready by the end of March.  Story

So... what's that ticking sound? ...

My usual response to this kind of nonsense from the Americans, Israel and the Brits. If Iran had a bomb, which they don't, does anyone take seriously the possibility that they would use it or give it to terrorists to whom the connection could be traced? Is Iran suicidal? That's what it amounts to. Any use of a nuclear weapon would lead to the immediate destruction of much of Iran. This, in turn, would lead to serious acrimony between the US and China & the US and Russia.

I can not take the possibility seriously. I admit it, Iran is really hostile toward America and Israel as the statements of this deranged man

The President of Iran -- Figure 3

have made clear. But it might be useful to know that he's not in charge in Iran, it is this man, Grand Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

The Supreme Leader -- Figure 4
Click to Enlarge

It is not in any country's best interests to start World War III. Mutual assured destruction was the deterrent policy of the Cold War and would remain in place even if Iran had the bomb. There is escalating rhetoric or actions (eg. the torpedo) on both sides. This does not bode well since such situations have a tendency to get out of control. Finally, the level of stupidity and arrogance with these Neocons as reflected by the policies of Bush & Co. is almost beyond comprehension. Their announced policy of pre-emptive aggression whenever they conceive a threat alerts all the nations of the world as to who is really out of control here. Iran's president's speech-making about Israel should be taken for what it is--rhetoric--and not at face value. Iran wants a long and prosperous future just like we all do. And it looks like they'll get it if their natural gas reserves and recent deals with China, India and perhaps Russia indicate.


I would like to think you are right. But put yourself in the position of the Jews living in Israel. Can you trust Iran's leadership? Can you take them at their word, as your forebearers did of Hitler?

Your point about the Supreme Leader, this came from your reference:

1) "Ayatollah Khamenei is known for his radical anti-Western policies. He has repeatedly denounced the idea of talks with the United States. During and after the US-led war on Iraq, he was sharply critical of Washington's policies.[17] On the 2000 al-Quds Day Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called for the destruction of Israel.[18]"

Two of the last three Presidents of Iran have said 10,000,000 dead Muslims for the destruction of Israel is worth it. If you led Israel, would you accept that knowing Iran will likely have the nuclear bomb in three years time?

I am not high on religious fervor, I suspect you are not, but they are. "Never Again"

I must admit there is uncertainty as to whether these Iranians actually mean what they say. Perhaps I simply can not believe it. A resolution pretty damn quick leading to a well-defined Palestian state and a treaty with Israel would solve all these problems. Iran supports Hamas and Hezbollah. It would take the wind out of Iran's sails if Israel and Hamas just woke up, settled their disputes and made a political agreement, no doubt mediated by outside parties.

I agree that Iran's leader's statements and the building of a nuclear weapon there can't be reconciled if Iran is sincere about eradicating Israel. Again, I have a hard time believing that any responsible person would believe that "10,000,000 dead Muslims for the destruction of Israel is worth it". Maybe I'm naive and looking at a policy toward Iran like that of British PM Neville Chamberlain before World War II, who attempted to appease the Nazis.

But, launching an attack on them at this time would cause much geopolitical chaos on the internation scene. The implications of this are not hard to fathom. First, Iranian exports would probably stop. The Chinese, the EU and others who get or are anticipating those imports would be mighty angry about this. Here's what's at stake from the EIA. "Iran exports around 2.7 million bbl/d, with major customers including Japan, China, South Korea, Taiwan, and Europe".

Prices could spike well over $100/barrel right away. But there's more. Bush said that calling off the Dubai Ports deal would send the wrong message to the Islamic countries. What kind of message have those countries already received from the US having invaded Iraq and how would that message change if the US (or, much worse, Israel) launched a military strike against Iran's nuclear facilties?

Perhaps you're right that Iran's government contains crazy hardliners that can't be appeased in any way. In that case, any alternative we look at now leads to disaster.


Excellent discussion. And yes, a military strike would bring chaos to the world's oil supply. BUT NOT EVERYTHING IS BASED ON ECONOMICS. And that is the key.

I find it interesting that the Kadima Govt. in Israel is talking about a pullback in the West Bank and completing the wall. Hamas is not the best to politic with, but the wall makes things semi-permanent. Hadrian's Wall worked for the best part of 200 years.

For example, the Bush people, wrongly but, most thought liberating Iraq would help build a capitalistic modern state. It so far has faltered in that, but if it had/does work, millions of unemployed 18-30 year olds would have had a job. Remember, if your income is over $3500 a year income you most likely will not go on a Jihad.

Beggar, in another message, noted "Apocalyptic Resource War." The Bush people do not want that. That is why they bought into the India Nuclear deal, for example. They want to keep business flowing, though they may fail at that too!

Striking Iran would keep Turkey, SA, and maybe Egypt from thinking about building nukes.

How can completing the wall stop hostilities between Israel and Palestinians when (1) it encloses a whole lot of Paelstinian territory, (2) a large number of Palestinians work in Israel, and (3) there seem to be plenty of home made rockets getting lobbed from Gaza into Israel already.

The wall is a travesty and as doomed to failure as the Berlin Wall was - and there are plenty of Israelis who will tell you this.

As for "Striking Iran would keep Turkey, SA, and maybe Egypt from thinking about building nukes." - SA (Wouth Africa) had nukes and (quietly) got rid of them - or do you mean Saudi Arabia ?

Of course, either way, the Pakistani example would seem to indicate that the rule is "once you've built nukes you get to keep them - just be quick (and quiet) while you are doing it".

Big Gav,

The wall is working in that the number of attacks in Israel have dropped significantly in the recent past. The bombing a few days ago was from picking up a hitch-hiker in one of the far-to-the-east illegal settlements in the West Bank.

Also, the number of Palestinians working in Israel has been massively reduced over the past few years. Cheap labor in Israel has been replaced by Eastern Europeans (Rumanians, Bulgarians, etc.). It is by no means a perfect solution, but Hadrian's Wall did work for 200 years.

 SA is Saudi Arabia.

If Iran gets the bomb, and has several, yes, there is little we (USA) will be able to do about it except fall back to the second line. By that I mean, like what France has said a few months back, if the USA or Israel gets hit by an atomic bomb, the gloves come off.

Remember, if your income is over $3500 a year income you most likely will not go on a Jihad.

I'm not so sure about that.  Some of the Palestinian suicide bombers were quite well-off.  Many were solidly middle-class.  Some were educated professionals, some were parents of young children.  People who had something to live for.  

I think it's pretty clear that was causes terrorism is occupation.  Many Iraqis were very poor and oppressed under Saddam, but they did not start committing terrorist attacks until we invaded.  


It is not a perfect gauge, but a study was done a couple of years ago, I want to say by the International Institute of Strategic Studies out of the UK, but I could be wrong, and it had the following results.

It looked at 40 odd conflicts, many civil wars, around the globe and only two, both associated with the former Yugoslavia, where if you made more than $3500 a year your nation was plunged into war or civil war.

It is interesting that the Serbs thought the Muslim Albanians were occupying Kosovo and that is why they wanted to drive them out! Certainly even rich nations will fight if they are occupied, as did many of the French in WWII.

Yes, your point about Jihadists, that many come from the middle class or upper class of their particular nation is correct. But over history, give a person a job and a home and a family and they are less likely to go out and kill people. This is a good rule of thumb.

This was part of Bush's war in Iraq which is really a war to change to entire Middle East with its high unemployment and growing population. As to how successful this will prove in the end, well, it is not going well right now.


This was part of Bush's war in Iraq which is really a war to change to entire Middle East with its high unemployment and growing population.  As to how successful this will prove in the end, well, it is not going well right now.

Which was entirely predictable.  The Israelis has similar ideas about the West Bank.  They thought if they built them infrastructure and gave them jobs, all would be well.  Many thought they were actually doing the Palestinians a favor by the occupation.  We see how that turned out.  

"Perhaps you're right that Iran's government contains crazy hardliners that can't be appeased in any way. In that case, any alternative we look at now leads to disaster."

Bingo. This is not to say that the US government is "good" in any sense. I don't mean to imply that at all. But what we have here is a serious miscommunication. Iran runs on religious values. The US runs on economic values. They each speak and the other side doesn't really understand what is being said or why.

Yes, the president of Iran really does believe in the 12th iman. Yes, so does the ayatollah. This is neither bad nor good, just what is. However, you cannot go to men with worldviews like that and expect to talk to them about economics. And likewise, as they try to talk to us (and you, as a good example), many of us are flat out not listening or hearing what they are saying because we cannot believe they mean what they say.

Remember, Hussein said clearly what he intended to do and even sought clarification from the US about it. The US didn't believe he meant it and treated it as if it did not matter, which Hussein took to mean that it did not matter to us and thus was ok to invade Kuwait. And Hussein was considered a moderate compared to the extremists within Islamic culture.

From a religious perspective, these people cannot make peace with Israel. All talk from a scientific or economic perspective completely misses the religious perspective that they hold and which is the primary driver in their thinking processes. At only one point in time have Moslems ever sought peace with Israel since Isreal's creation in 1948. And that one time when Sadat sought peace, it cost him his life, to the glee and celebration of the radical Islamic factions in that part of the world. Israel was invaded the first year of its existence as a modern state. It has been subjected to wars, terrorist attacks, and political actions through its entire lifespan by these same people without cessation.

They mean exactly what they say, whether we consider it rational or not. To them, this is the only rational response possible. So here we are, with the irresistable force (Islam) staring at the immovable object (Israel).

You are not naive, Dave. You simply have a completely different set of assumptions underpinning your worldview. This means that you don't think as they do. Neither you nor they are "wrong" but you're not going to communicate until one side or the other recognizes the other side's assumptions, begins to understand them, and takes them seriously.

Is the 12th Iman the big guy that has "chosen" George to carry out his will? (as he is so fond of saying)

Very good insight. I always hated the 30 Years War and at least understood the ones that followed that were about power politics.

Iran's exports are about 5.8% of the world's exported oil. And Japan and China are loaded with US Dollars, so they will pay any price to get the barrels they need. This would produce a super-spike in prices and a shake-out in buyers like the world has never seen before.

Iran's quick and absolute refusal to go along with the UN Security Council's stern requests was a clear escalation of the confrontation.

To follow that up with war games in the Gulf and the show firing of all their best weapons is another escalation.

I am surprised that little mention has been made of the reach of Iran's influence. Hamas has just taken power in Palestine.  Hezbollah controls southern Lebanon, adjacent to Israel. Close ally Syria is staring over the Golan Heights, ready to recontest that battleground.

In western Pakistan, the province of Baluchistan is in open revolt against the Government, pretty much as they have been since the British pulled out in 1947. They have strong Persian ties and are mostly Shi-ite. This is also the area that Iran wants to pipe its oil and gas across to get it to India and China.

In Afghanistan, well who knows, but Taliban rebels probably flee over the border into eastern Iran at will. If Iran wanted to cause the US trouble, it could lend some heavy firepower to rebels to destabilise that area.

In Turkmenistan, can anybody fill us in there ?

Iran also has friendly relations with the waring tribes of Azerbaijan and Armenia who could easily attack the  pipelines that thread their way around the Kurdish areas of SW Turkey on their way to Mediterranean ports.

In Iraq itself, the constitution clearly says that the party with the largest number of seats gets to nominate the Prime Minister. So they nominate current head, Jaafari, who is supported by al-Sadr because, he says, when Jaafari finally has complete, legitimate constitutional power (soon) he will publicly TELL the US to leave.  The US has therefore been stalling and trying to get rid of Jaafari, by adding political muscle to the Sunni leaders who oppose Jaafari, by calling for a government of national unity (an impossible thing under current circumstances).  The supporters of the insurgence can therefore refuse their support and hold things up. An attack on Iran at this point would start a major uprising that would see coalition forces hiding in their barracks. UK forces have already planned their withdrawal from basra, and have invited the Australians to join them.  Plans for re-routing communications back to Australia have already been made.

Kuwait is a US puppet with oil refineries and US bases. You could easily expect Iran to target them.  Similarly Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar and the UAE.  All with US bases and all with major oil assets within short-range missiles.
Given that Iran will probably only have one chance to launch its shiny new missiles, wouldn't you have them on a hair trigger, aimed at where they will cause the maximum damage ?

A flow-on effect of such attacks would be uprisings against their puppet masters, and on-going destabilisation of US energy control.

With all this in place, it is little wonder that Iran thinks it can afford to up the ante.  The big question is whether the US is stupid enough to put its head into the noose.

10,000,000 dead Iranians OR 10,000,000 Martyrs to the Muslim cause....?

The bulk of the billions of Muslims are not well off and have very little to lose, their belief system is based around the idea that their god decides when they die and that if they die supporting Jihad that they will have a very good after life.. Indeed it is these very same traits that allow seemingly sane and healthy young muslims to perform suicide missions in the name of Jihad...

We in the west would be unlikely to contemplate the same sacrifice. We may be willing to fight for our country or values but would hope to survive the experience. It is obvious to me that when considering the possible actions of those that have such a different perception of the value of life and the cosequences of death it is unwise to project our own values into the evaluation...

What power would 10,000,000 martyrs have in the muslim world... And in a country with 50 million ??? their would still be plenty left to carry on...

Dave, you make good points here.  This kind of strike against Iran only makes sense to me if the US MilGov is engaged in an Apocalyptic Resource War.  Is this an endgame of some sort?  Is the MilGov trying to capture and hold the best resource "prizes" at any cost?
So, let's look at this (in a slightly tongue-in-cheek sort of way) from the POV of the Neo-cons.

They have the following problems:

  1. Diminishing resources (oil, metals, etc.)
  2. Runaway world population
  3. Global-warming
  4. China and India "stealin' our shit!"
  5. Lack-lustre incomes of their oil-industry drinking buddies

So what do they do?

Well if they provoke Iran into starting something that needs to be finished with some well-placed nukes, than that could also provoke the Russians and Chinese.  Of course, as those articles from last week show, the US now has enough nukes to completely annihilate both the Chinese and the Russians without even getting a blood-nose.

So what are you left with?

  1. A relatively unscathed US
  2. High oil-prices - to force the 'C' word that they cannot say in public, and to line their oil-industry pals' pockets
  3. 10-20% reduction in world population (more if India and Pakistan get caught in the nuke fight)
  4. A nice cooling of the world's atmosphere thanks to the nuclear-induced 'forcings'

It has that neat "Dr Strangelove" kind of simplicity.

And we're still down here, like, "WTF"?

1. A relatively unscathed US

I know you were using a Tongue-in-cheek view of NeoCon perspective, but do you think anybody really kids themselves that a  'Carefully Executed, set of Surgical-Nuclear Strikes against Iran, China and Russia'  would meet with less than everybody including Canada and Luxembourg joining together and jumping in to shut us down?  or if not that, does anybody suspect that there aren't still ICBM's aimed at NYC, DC and Disneyland, set to launch when the wrong person sneezes?

It's tricky to look at someone else's theoretical oversimplifications, because some of the most glaringly wrong assumptions just fly through with a pleasant smile on their face..

I wasn´t alive for the 50´s duck and cover routine.  Would somebody kindly tell me what to do in the event of a worldwide nuclear exchange?
  1. get away from windows
  2. curl up into the foetal position under school desk
  3. Kiss your sweet ass goodbye.
Office of Civil Defense

keep upwind

Thankyou Gentlemen!!!

Humor is the means for keeping my sanity.  Doesn´t taking some of the extreme views to their logical conclusion demand an armed revolution right now?  What the hell are we fighting for, SUV´s and the right to eat at McDonalds.  Ok that was a cheap shot stereotype but the question remains, what do we hope to preserve at this juncture.  Sigh, I forgot, in a representative democracy I am too stupid to vote on complex matters such as nuclear exchanges.  Dumb dee dumb dumb dumb.

I think beggar is precisely right.

Given the mindset of business as usual, i.e. the continued automobile centric society, the only recourse given the probable onset of peak oil is the fight for the last drops.

As long as powerdown is off the table, there is no other way to keep the consumer joyride going.

I have the unsettling feeling that we are rapidly getting boxed into the wrong decision and that every day that we do not work towards conservation and alternative energy is a day leading towards our attack on Iran. Should we do so, the harm that Iran could cause western economies is immense. Such an attack on the world economy would cause a clamor for more aggression, as Americans could not live without their life support for long.

The suspension of the constitution may not be far behind.

If there were one action that might save the Republicans from a midterm election slaughter would be an attack on Iran that causes a shutdown of the Hormuz Straights and ultimately halting the ongoing energy party in America.

Knowing how the Rove inspired Repugs work -- reelection at any cost -- I'd say the die is cast.

Maybe this comment should be elsewhere but,
Here are the EIA numbers I downloaded for the first 3 months of 05 vs 06 on crude, gas, and distillate

Crude  Production less NGL     down 8.7%
Crude imports                  down 2.9%
Crude runs to refinery         down 3.6%

Gas supplied                     up 1.0%
Gas refined production         flat 0.0%
Gas imports                     up 28.8%
Gas impt's + production          up 2.7%

Distillate supplied              up 1.9%
Distillate refined production    down  .7%
Distillate imports              up 27.9%
Distillate impt's + production  up  1.6%

The percentages were derived by summing the weekly posted daily averages for each year.

With the intelligence expertise the USA has demonstrated in the past 5 years a preempted attack on Iran is about zero, as long as Iranian oil production continues as is. The US Military now has a low confidence in the US intelligence services.
The US Military now has a low confidence in the US intelligence services.

NSA, i was told at sandia labs, has a reputation in the military for screwing things up.

Let's hope!

Also worth reading the Wikipedia on Operation Earnest Will, Operation Prime Chance, and Operation Praying Mantis.  This is background on how the US kept the Gulf open during the 1980s in the face of Iranian attacks on Kuwaiti and Saudi Arabian shipping.
A replay of the leadup to Iraq. Same shit, different day. But far more disastrous. For everyone. Shock-and-awe melted away in Iraq. It certainly cannot be re-established by sending ground troops into Iran. Nor can anything re-establish it else short of nukes. But that's what they intend to re-establish, else there is no sense whatsoever to all the shenanigans now. See the Hirsh link below.

Not only is the US leading up to attacking Iran, it has recently directly threatened Russia and China on the nuclear level! Part of this is to warn them away from coming to Iran's defense in any way. Read the Foreign Affairs link and the Washington Post link.

The poll ratings are in the tank because of Iraq. And yet they are ready to proceed into far deeper waters. Please thing about what this says about our so-called democracy! What we have is a disguised military-corporate dictatorship, and it may be necessary to take off more of the disguise very soon.

The demonization crap doesn't even deserve an answer. We attack where there's oil (or gas).

9-11 was a turning point. There were a couple of little wars after that. The war on Iran rates as another turning point. Sometime before November, maybe much before. Then we will be in a much different world. ar-primacy.html

Dave, unless what is left of the electoral system could do it this fall (which I doubt), I see nothing with the power to get rid of them - other than themselves.  Attacking Iran is the level of overreach that could do it.  But you are completely correct - once it begins we will be in a much different world.
China doesn't need to touch one weapon to burn the USA in a big way. Your US dollars only have value to buy products because presently China (holding 800 bill in T-Bills)wants it that way.A dump of China's US dollar holdings on the open market would put a spear through the heart of the US economy. Obviously China does not want to do this. However, it is a dangerous game when the schoolyard bully starts picking on little kids that know how to fight back.
Sorry to be a bit off topic but I thought it was worth mentioning this article (via energybulletin). The quote at the end of the excerpt below seems to confirm Simmon's claims about the Saudi's being forced to overproduce to the detriment of their fields:

Demand May Outpace Saudi Oil Capacity

DAMMAM, Saudi Arabia - The world's only oil superpower boosted output last month, launching a pair of projects that are part of a massive $55 billion endeavor to keep pace with the world's ever-intensifying thirst for oil.

But demand for the world's premiere source of energy is rising so fast -- by around 2 million barrels per day each year -- that even Saudi Arabia's vast resources will be unable to cope without drastic help, oil executives and analysts say.

Remarkably, even Saudis, who control over a quarter of the world's known oil, are calling for relief from relentless consumption.

"The current out-of-control demand is not good for us," Ghazi Al-Rawi, head of private equity at Gulf One Investment Bank, said in a recent interview. "When you have this kind of demand, you're forced to supply beyond the optimal rate. That's not a positive thing."

While I do think there's a good chance the Saudis are damaging their fields by pushing them too hard (based on explanations I've read from Simmons and others), I wouldn't read too much into that quote.  The speaker is a banker, and he could have meant simply that pushing supply that hard required a higher level of infrastructure investment, money which SA would prefer not to spend.  They'd rather produce at a lower, more economical rate (meaning lower marginal cost per unit), and sell each barrel for more money.

They're just as tied to the US in such decisions as the US is to them.

That banker wasn't the only one quoted in the story. There were quotes from a number of people indicating that a problem is imminent. In the long run, higher prices are good.


There have only been two swing producers of consequence--Texas & Saudi Arabia.  Texas, from about 1935 to 1970, and Saudi Arabia from 1970 to 2005

Texas peaked at 54% of Qt.   Texas had one "King of Oil Fields,"  East Texas, which had its final peak at the same time as overall Texas production.

Saudi Arabia is at 55% of Qt.   Saudi Arabia has one "King of Oil Fields," Ghawar.  

I suspect that Saudi Arabia and Ghawar are now following the same path as Texas and the East Texas Field.

So there is going to be more war.  Is anyone surprised?  I admit that I'm a hard core doomer.  I think we are headed straight for Olduvai, only rather than 2 billion humans by 2050 I think we're headed for a few hundred million at most living an agrarian lifestyle.  Some of you optimists need to explain how we can peacefully avoid this fate.  Every day we are another 200,000 over carrying capacity.  We are totally depended on a non-renewable resource that is running out fast.  And people are walking around in a clueless daze unable to break out of their destructive habits.

What would you do if you were running the USA at this point?  You all heard Bush's speech and watched the CNN special on peak oil.  Tar sands and corn ethanol is the best they can come up with.  Sorry folks, game over.  Time for war.

if i were president, id get people as many facts as i could out to the public, then finish my term and start a permaculture business in central vermont.

Well, Bush's Crawford ranch recently won an award for its sustainability.  Huge rainwater cistern, heat pump, solar panels.  Not what you'd expect of someone who really thinks cheap energy is an  American birthright.

people are fond of suggesting we watch what they do and not listen to what they say.  could any actions be louder?
If we initiate war with Iran, my guess is that the mask of democracy comes off completely.

My guess is also that we will not return to Olduvai, but to a different state.  The fallout from an all-out nuclear/otherWMD exchange will have us glowing green -- not literally, perhaps.  Imagine the nuclear power plants and other infrastructure melting down after a significant number of nuclear weapons take down power grids along with cities, military bases, and other critical resources.

How many nuclear power plants will be shut down properly?  How many will have problems?  How many toxic clouds will spread and how far and with what effects?

I think that it is absurd to think that we could launch a strike without suffering like retaliation.  Furthermore, there is a good possibilty that various WMDs would be unleashed over a fairly long period of time and in a variety of ways.  Add to this the burden of civil unrest amidst the chaos of such international violence.

The notion that after a nuclear (plus other WMD) exchange some folks will be scratching out an Olduvai Gorge living seems optimistic to me.  Possible, but optimistic.

It seems obvious that the US Government  -- Democrats included -- are deeply enmeshed in a kind of Apocalyptic Oil Age End Game.  The Democrats say nothing against the huge military expenditures, and merely claim that they would use more Special Forces and would execute warplans much more effectively.

The US government is providing a menu of choices to the "Voters" that does not include any options for peace, only for war-making.

Public discussion does not include any kind of move toward global cooperation for peaceful resource management.  We are already quite deep into the resource war.  The key so far has been to pretend that we are not, and keep to up the guise of "War on Terror" and "War for Democracy."

I don't know if the situation with Iran is still all about bluffing and calling bluffs, but it seems more dangerous now than ever.

It may be that the US "MilGov" believes that GOM fossil fuels and Saudi resources are too unpredictable to rely on.  Perhaps the Milgov is focused on capturing the Petroleum Resource Prizes at any cost?

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: If I were that pessimistic, I would put a frickin' bullet through my head.

Honestly, if the doomers of the world are sincere in their convictions (and I assume that's the case with any person, barring strong evidence to the contrary), then I can only conclude that they're happy to see things go down in flames and/or they think the situation is so bad that there's no point in trying to educate and activate other people regarding energy, environmental, and political issues.  I don't know which of those conditions would be worse, but I'm glad neither one applies to me.

IMO the doomer and all-is-happy-and-well crowd are so much  alike that I have trouble determining which one is more disastrous.

They both pick ideologies, which relief you from the necessity to take responsibility for what you do with your life. Why worry if there is a Doomsday scheduled for the next year? Or why do anything if everything always fixes by itself? These people will spend all their life waiting for their God to come down and save them, and at the same time secretly hope it will not happen, because you see there will have to be some choices to be made if it happens.

Personally I'm sorry that the PO problem attracted so many of those two camps. I don't believe in prophecies by default but I tend to believe in self-fulfilling prophecies - and this concerns me a lot.

There is a lot of truth to what you wrote!
While I don't doubt the people you describe exist, I don't think there are many of them here.  Even the most optimistic admit that we should be doing things like conserving and funding alternate energy sources.  Even the most pessimistic are taking steps to deal with the energy-poor future they expect (even if it's only to save themselves and their families).  I don't think it's fair to say people are not taking responsibility.  IME, the exact opposite is true.  They just disagree on what steps should be taken.
I do admit that generalising is a bad thing.

My point is that I have the feeling that some of us are tempted to go (ok, not all the time) in both extremes being much more comfortable psychological state than the messy reality. I deem them both as some sort of denial - a phase which is normal after you first encounter a certain problem. I do insist that sticking to them is very counterproductive.

As for preparations... it really strucks me how people are unable to balance their bets. They usually pick some scenario which they find more psychologically appealing and put all their chips on it.

My point is that I have the feeling that some of us are tempted to go (ok, not all the time) in both extremes being much more comfortable psychological state than the messy reality.

People do tend to see black and white instead of shades of gray, but I suspect it's much more in categorizing others than in their own views.  We all think we are moderates, who have made our decisions based on cold rationality.  It's everyone else who is "ignorant" or "extremist" or "swayed by emotion" or "believing what they want to believe."  ;-)

As for preparations... it really strucks me how people are unable to balance their bets. They usually pick some scenario which they find more psychologically appealing and put all their chips on it.

I don't think that's true, either.  I suspect most people are hedging their bets.  Growing their own vegetables and contributing to their 401(k)s.  I know I am.  It's just not terribly interesting to post about.  "I'm moving to Costa Rica and taking up goat farming" is interesting.  "I'm still contributing to my Roth IRA" isn't.

I realise it would be hard to continue this discussion without providing some examples, but I'll try to keep to the politeness the more detached level provides.

Tell me how do you want me to qualify the ideas of population control? Or the (not very well covered) silent support of the idea of a nuclear war (to reset the population I guess)? How to accept assertions like "6 billion of us must go"? Or the constant lamenting "we are gonna die, die, die" - like somebody has promised us to live forever, huh? I question your idea of all people trying to be moderates - no offense, but I suppose it is influenced by your own perceptions. I think a lot of people tend to grasp some ideology (doomer or whatever) and think this is the rational thing to do. Of course, this fits your words in the others always being extremes, but this is what my eyes are telling me and I tend to believe them.

On the personal note I agree you are probably right - most people are hedging (better or worse). I was actually frustrated by those that are willingfully detaching themselves from our current way of life and the society we have - probably taking for granted it will collapse completely, and choosing the path to isolate themselves if not to oppose to it directly. Personally I take this as a very bad sign - if we start to fragment instead of sticking together in the not so bright times that are coming ahead we will end up like Iraq, maybe even worse.

Interesting.  I'm still contributing to my 401K, but for the first time I'm considering reducing or eliminating it - maybe it won't be worth anything to me later, maybe it will.  Right now I consider that it's still worthwhile.

I'm not withdrawing from society, but rather trying to be more involved at a local level, and less concerned about the national level.  

In short, I'm eliminating mental limits and taboos that I've maintained for a long time, which is a liberating process.  I still have the same obligations, but it is worthwhile re-evaluating how to uphold them.  What is a requirement, what is just nice-to-have?  What is really important in life, what are just old habits of thought?  

Is thinking differently an advantage or not?  In a time when big changes are possible, I think it is very worthwhile to imagine those possibilities and how you might fit in.  It is amazing how one can embrace changes that once seemed abhorrent, and come to consider them as beneficial.  What changes to embrace, which ones to fight?

If one were too poor to have all sorts of new stuff and struggles financially, but still had food and shelter, family and friends, would you be better or worse off?

If the US broke up into smaller nations, would it be the end of the world, or could you live happily that way?

Some of what is posted here are just people going through this process, and everyone deals with it differently.  

I haven't enrolled in 401K yet (I've been in USA for only a year). I intend to take the risk of couple of more years to wander around until I see where things are headed and then to make this choice.

As for acting locally - IMO this is the very best thing to do for everyone. Making friends is the best possible investment I know of, and I believe the future will prove it... Especially if/when the material wealth starts evaporationg (which I personally will not regret that much).

Some of what is posted here are just people going through this process, and everyone deals with it differently.


Personally, I am contributing to my retire accounts the same as always, but I am not increasing my contributions, which I had planned to do before considering the implications of peak oil.  

Part of it is inertia, I confess.  I am not good at making decisions.  But there are things that make sense, no matter how it turns out, and I am doing those.  Diversifying, spending less, getting a smaller car, etc.

Tell me how do you want me to qualify the ideas of population control?

I don't consider the idea of population control to be extremist at all.  It's something we've been deeply concerned about as a society since the '60s, possibly since Malthus.  

Or the (not very well covered) silent support of the idea of a nuclear war (to reset the population I guess)?

I don't see that at all.  If it's "silent," how do you know it exists?

How to accept assertions like "6 billion of us must go"?

Doesn't mean a sudden dieoff.  How about a one-child policy, like China?  

I question your idea of all people trying to be moderates - no offense, but I suppose it is influenced by your own perceptions.

Not that they're trying to be moderates.  Just that they think they are moderates.  Face it, compared to the mainstream, anyone who even bothers to post here is a wacko extremist.  It's my experience that few consider themselves to be ideologues - even when they are.  ;)

Indeed, we are all influenced by our own perceptions and our own experiences.  It's possible for two reasonable people to look at the same information and draw different conclusions.  Doesn't mean one of them is being intellectually or psychologically lazy.  

I think a lot of people tend to grasp some ideology (doomer or whatever) and think this is the rational thing to do.

Don't look at what they say.  Look at what they do.  If they aren't giving away all their possessions and climbing to the hilltops to wait for the Rapture, perhaps they are not as extremist as you think.  People say outrageous things sometimes, especially on the Internet.  To make a point, to provoke discussion, to get attention.  

Or perhaps it's a personality thing. What you see as "ideological" others may see as decisive.  What you see as "moderate" others may see as "wishy-washy."  P vs. J, if you're familiar with Myers-Briggs.  

I don't consider the idea of population control to be extremist at all.

There is absolutely no way to reduce the population by natural means to the level advocated. Even China grew from 1 billion to 1.3 billion since it imposed its one-child policy and will keep on growing regardless. We can implement some measures for stimulating lower birthrate (tax policy, education etc.) but this has nothing to do with the control these advocates are logicaly leading to. Isn't it better to concentrate on feeding the people we have than thinking how to reduce them? Give them education and jobs and they will stop making kids without creating some "1984" type state.

I don't see that at all.  If it's "silent," how do you know it exists?

Well I did see the possibility of nuking Iran being "considered". I have that perception that as long the nukes fall off far from our backyards the idea for some people is acceptable. I apologise if I'm wrong.

Look at what they do

I'm mostly looking at what they don't do. All vocal groups of this sort don't give at all support to those pragmatic people behind the scenes who actually keep the lights on. Worse - they are hindering them all the way by proclaiming their wacky ideas - which are obviously getting roots in our intellectually lazy society. As long as "easy" solutions are being fed to the people, the people will pick the easy solutions. No matter the price.

There is absolutely no way to reduce the population by natural means to the level advocated.

It depends on the timeframe involved.  By next week, no.  In a hundred years?  Maybe.

Isn't it better to concentrate on feeding the people we have than thinking how to reduce them?

To me, that's putting your head in the sand.  At the very least, you want to keep the population from further growth. Assuming you want to avoid a dieoff, anyway.  We've seen it time and again: feeding people and giving them jobs is not enough.  You just end up with a lot more poor, hungry people.

I'm mostly looking at what they don't do. All vocal groups of this sort don't give at all support to those pragmatic people behind the scenes who actually keep the lights on. Worse - they are hindering them all the way by proclaiming their wacky ideas - which are obviously getting roots in our intellectually lazy society. As long as "easy" solutions are being fed to the people, the people will pick the easy solutions. No matter the price.

The antidote to speech you don't like is more speech.  After all, one person's idea of "pragmatic" may be someone else's idea of "idiotic."    

Forrest Mims is a guy you want to be very careful of.

However, Forrest Mims, an amateur scientist, author and chairman of the Texas Academy of Science's environmental science section, told The Associated Press there was no mistaking Pianka's disdain for humans and desire for their elimination in the speech he heard.

My personal plan for a nice life and some extra security has several parts.

I am trying to become a part of the local state on two levels, as a member of the home guard (No, I do not have my gun at home, I am too official for that. ) and as an active politician in my municipiality and debating with our parliament politicians whom I measure up to in some topics. Being a politician is hard since I am a man of principles and ideas, not humint and relations.

I am switching my field of work from internet and computer security to mechanical engineering and energy while also having a wide general knowledge. I am now close to a finished engineering exam, I only need to find focus and a company too work with and be inspired by. Or business partners to develop ideas togeather with.

If my professional career goes well I will complement my apartment with a cottage where I can enjoy summer and winter weekends on a small farm. But the cottage is not for survivalism, its to provide me with some physical workout and a nice demonstration of the physical world if I get children. Being tangible capital and a physical resource is a bonus.

If I make a lot of money I will invest almost all of it in businesses, my own or others and none what so ever in any pension plan or fund. I will only invest in things I can understand and at least partly control. A brand name with past performance means little for the future, it might be taken over by someone who sucks it dry.

I do basically want to be the person you would like to have as a neighbour. If the power should fail for any reason I will have some hot cofee and soup for my friends. If you have a pysical problem there is a good chance I have a usefull suggestion or at least a good question to ask.

Learning a lot about peak oil during the last year has meant almost nothing for my personal plans, the trends I have based them on have been obvious in other ways. Do not let one problem take over your whole life, there is more to the world then peak oil.

And I am in a not especially subtile way advertising my existence in a few parallell ways too see if it gives some intresting results. Trying to be part of the general CV noice do not seem to be fruitfull as I am a hexagonal peg in a world mostly full of round or square holes. I can partly fit in most everywhere but there ought to be a hexagonal one somewhere.

I call this the three bears position on peak oil, quite common here at TOD.  The doomers are too hot, the cornucopians are too cold, so somewhere in between should be just right.  Human nature I suppose, we just can't accept really bad news.
In the comments of some of the doomers I see sophomoric intellectual arrogance. Here are people who pretend to know the future--thus presumably boosting their self-esteem with their "realistic" or "hard-nosed" or "uncompromising" view of the world. But it is unmitigated BS to make unconditional prophecies, whether of doom or of cornucopia.

By way of contrast, thoughtful doomers such as Matt Savinar are trying to make self-defeating prophecies, and that is an entirely different enterprise, because it is constructive; the belief in these instances is that thought and action can make a difference to future outcomes.

BTW, I do not think much of the article:

"It is believed that an American-led attack . . . ."

Oh. "believed" By whom? Note use of the passive grammatical form to muddy the waters.

In regard to secret military plans, those who know do not talk, and those who chatter do not know. The view of the world in which high-level military or government officials routinely leak top-secret plans to reporters is, to be polite, highly questionable.

Dear Don, 'leaking information' has become an integral part of British political culture since Tony Blair became P.M. This has happened in the past, but it has increased immensely during his reign.

There are all sorts of reasons for leaking information to the press. It is no secret that large sections of the British military establishment are deeply sceptical of Blair's close ties with the Bush administration. The military is against a deeper involvement in Afghanistan, in Helmand provins. Helmand is a large, mountainous area about twice the size of Wales. The army is deploying around 3500 troops there. That is way too few soldiers for such a complex and ill-defined job. Realistically one would need around 30,000 men to adequately 'police' such a huge area. How does the officer-class react? Retired officers write letters to newspapers and express their concern. Serving officers 'leak' internal letters to chosen journalists. Letters that show their 'concern' about various logistical and tactical problems. It is their attempt to indicate their opposition to government policy without commiting 'treason.' This is the British way of doing things, believe me. It's the only way serving officers can 'publically' show oppostition with getting into hot water. Blair crushes those who oppose him ruthlessly.

This also applies to the coming Iranian adventure, though 'adventure' is perhaps the wrong word to use. British officers and officials are worried about the the whole region, going up in flames with the small British army in the middle of the inferno. They are right to be concerned, because, whilst safe in their forts, they are vastly outnumbered by the surrounding population. At the moment most of the population is hostile, but relatively passive. Probably well over 90% of Iraqies want the occupation over, but they are playing a kind of waiting game. Obviously this situation won't last forever eventually a large scale uprising will occur with probably disasterous consequences. As tension mounts it may only take a spark to start the conflagration. What the British are frightened of, is the Americans doing something rash or reckless that will provoke the feared uprising, an uprising that could prove unstopable once it gets going.

Basically the British army is worried because they simply have too few soldiers, should a large-scale uprising occur in Iraq, and they are worried they might even be overrun. After such a 'defeat' the resulting public outcry over an unpopular war could have unimagined consequences for the future role of the army in British society.

By their nature, "leaks" are easy to invent. I suggest that the type of information allegedly leaked to a journalist in the article posted above would require a high-level security clearance for the alleged source to actually possess it. I question your view that leaks of this nature are rountine or common in any branch of the British armed forces or from the diplomatic service or elected officials. Correct me if I am wrong, but there is such a thing as the Official Secrets Act in the U.K., and people that violate it and are caught are prosecuted to the full extent of the laws against treason.

"Creative journalism" or the "new journalism" or to be blunt, lies told by journalists are nothing new and are perhaps even more common now than in earlier times. The cliche that truth is the first casualty of war has never been more true than it is today.

The tortured use of the passive voice was a tipoff to me that the journalist in question is making up at least some of his stuff.

BTW, when one retires from military service (etc.) one loses one's security clearance; thus retired officers are out of the loop for new information but are still bound by the Secrets Act in regard to old information.

I say again: Those who know do not chatter (if they want to keep their jobs and out of jail), and most of those who write sensationalistic stories such as the one in question are writing highly politicized fiction.

Of course governments have contingency plans; this is nothing new and is hardly newsworthy. None of these plans--by their existence--suggests that action is imminent or inevitable or even very likely.  

Don, 'leaks' have become a way of life in the U.K. There are so many it's vertually impossible to keep track of them. The reason there are so many leaks is simple, though disturbing. There is such a chasm between what the govenment says in public and what is really happening behind the scenes. I know this sounds like 'conspiration' to you, can't help it though, it's the way things are now.

Information is powerful, which is why in the U.K. there is so much control of it. In the run up to the invasion of Iraq there were loads of leaks from public officials and less so from the military. Some top public servants resigned in protest. It's terrible knowing the govenment is lying and because of the Official Secrets Act one can't say anything openly, so one goes to the press covertly. It's very risky, but absolutely necessary, one has no choice. There are now so many leaks in Britain that we've got used to it. Downing Steet and ministries 'leak' information all the time to journalists. It's part of the game and since Blair came to power 'briefing' selected journalists has exploded. It's a way of planting stories for advantage and spinning policy to manipulate public opinion. One could call this 'officially sanctioned leaks.' Howver, increasingly there is 'unofficial leaking' of information. I cannot provide you with 'proof' for several reasons. But take my word some sections of the army are 'restless' and they have been briefing journalists about their concerns, completley off the record. This is rather new in Britain, that serving soldiers are covertly criticizing government policy, but that only goes to show how seriously they regard the whole situation.

There was a guy you've probably heard about called Dr. David Kelly. He was perhaps the leading expert on biological weapons and had lots of experience from Iraq. He began to leak information about Iraq to a couple of journalists. Basically he said Tony Blair was wildly exaggerating the threat from Iraq in order to justify war. Kelly was a fine man, a sensitive man, and he was smashed by the Blair machine like a butterfly on a wheel. Kelly killed himself when his identity was revealed as 'leaker.'
If he died before he was put on trial or sacked, his wife would be able to retain his government pension. A sad way to end a life of service to one's country. But people who know the truth cannot remain silent when a government lies to parliament, the country and to the world. Sometimes, like David Kelly one pays a very high price.

There are other examples. Two civil servants are on trial at the moment because they allegedly leaked the Downing Street Memo, a secret transcript of conversations between Blair and Bush, showing their duplicity.

The Sunday Telegraph story, may or may not be 'true' in a formal sense. The important part of the piece was getting the word 'inevitable' in relation to an attack on Iran out into the public domain. Believe me, the internal opposition to Blair in Britain is enormous especially after Iraq. No one believes a word he says anymore about anything.

I actually really wish you were right about the U.K. and that the leak culture was just something dreamed up by journalists to sell newspapers. That grave misgivings don't exist inside the army, only they do, and sadly you are wrong. Like you, I really hope we are not getting ready to lauch some kind of attack on Iran.

I do not say that leaks never happen, but I do believe they are the exception rather than the rule.

The British government has a tradition going back at least 350 years (say, to the time of Samuel Pepys) of using "leaks" to spread disinformation to confuse the enemy; I think no government in history has equalled the ingenuity of the British in both "inventing" information and concealing the truth in warfare, and I imagine you are aware of numerous instances that support these generalizations. (If not, I'll be glad to supply them.)

In regard to the article in question, today, Tuesday, the BBC reports, based on information obtained directly from the office of the Minister of Defence, that the "meeting" alleged to be planned for today did not take place, has not taken place, and will not (at least in the immediate future) take place. Who do you believe? The BBC? Or a journalist who may be strongly motivated to do "creative jouralism" to promote his own career or to reflect his own political bias.

Despite your own possibly serious nondrinking problem;-) you must be aware that many journalists hang out at bars and drink a helluva lot. Much of what is written and published is no more than bar-room BS (BRBS), where somebody who has talked to somebody who claims to have talked to somebody who has a source, ". . . unnamed but Very High Up, you understand totally reliable . . . "

We know that politicians lie. We know that lawyers lie. We know that used-car dealers lie. What I am asserting is that lying is widespread in the journalism trade, and if you are looking for integrity today, you are as likely to find it in a used-car salesman as you are in certain journalistic sources.

Of course not all journalists are dishonest--and neither are all used-car salesman. But just as the situation used-car salesmen are in tends to make many of them "shade" the truth, the situation that journalists (who are in great oversupply; it is pretty much a cut-throat competition trade) find themselves in encourages many of them to engage in "the new journalism," which is of course merely a euphemism for lies.

Honest journalists of integrity and courage, from George Orwell to Ed Murrow spin in their graves at such antics of those who debase a fine profession--but the offenders are many. (BTW, never was this more true than in the coverage of the Vietnam War.)

FWIW it does seem to me that it's entirely plausible these were real leaks to the Telegraph.  It's pretty clear the Downing St memos were genuine.  OTOH, it's also entirely plausible that this is official disinformation intended to intimidate the Iranians.  Or on the third hand, a result of a drunk source and sloppy journalism as you suggest.  I don't think we can tell with any reliability.
Which is why you must observe the actions.  The words mean nothing, or worse than nothing. From that I conclude the Bush administration is trying very hard to go into Iran, and likely will.  I have absolutely NO inside knowledge, but it served me well before the Iraq attack.  

That's not being a doomer, it's trying to make a realistic appraisal of what is likely to happen, so that I can be as best prepared as possible.

Others see it differently.  We will know by November - and if I'm wrong, I'll gladly eat crow for Thanksgiving!


So what would you have done if you were a German in 1933 or 34 and were able to see ahead? It's not a question of being too pessimistic or not pessimistic enough. It's a matter what the facts suggest.

Humanity is not doomed -- barring a big meteor -- but there are clearly very hard times ahead. How hard? We're all guessing. There's no hope for us as individuals long term. But at some level, humanity will continue, under better or worse conditions. We can only look at the struggle in the world, and perhaps even join it, to try make it turn out a little better. And this without any guarantee or promise of results.

Personally, I feel engaged, but also I look at it this way: there is no more interesting time in history to be alive and watch what is going on -- even if I am horrified. And I am. I hate flying. But when I do fly, I like to look out the window to see if the engines are on fire or a wing is coming off. Things will end soon enough -- no rush.

''So what would you have done if you were a German in 1933 or 34 and were able to see ahead?''

You get out if you can.

Any suggestions? :)
Possibly a lot of people are looking at recent history, and seeing little reason for ungrounded optimism.  To meet what everyone here agrees is the biggest challenge ever, just look at the results of the last two challenges, Iraq and Katrina.  You can make a good case that except for the wealthy and connected, everyone involved is "doomed" (ie, screwed big time).  The upper 1% will, of course, go on as always.

Even Stuart believes that under certain circumstances, we're SOL. I believe the number was 4% decline in energy.  There is some number of energy supply decline where things tank, and don't come back.  Once enrgy prices are going up 10-15% per year, you will not be able to afford the alternatives.

"Some of you optimists need to explain how we can peacefully avoid this fate"

Hold on a minute!  You can't just state your position and then demand that other people disprove it. That is an extremely lazy way to debate a subject.

If you have a theory or at least an opinion, then it is up to you to prove it.

Where is your evidence that the world cannot sustain 2, 3, 4 or even 5 billion people long term with fewer fossil fuels?

Where is your evidence that we need to shed 90% of the world's population just because of declining fossil fuels?

There are some vast unknowns about the coming decades. Nobody, and I mean nobody, has even an approximate idea what lies ahead.  So your amateur punditry about world populations in 44 years time is laughable! Comments like this are about as useful as a rubber screwdriver!

Reminds me of a student in class the other day arguing that we should ignore the doom sayers who argue that we are causing global warming. He argued that global warming was a natural swing in long term planetary cycles.

I then asked why we would want to exacerbate the problem. If your house is on fire, through no fault of your own, then why throw gasoline on it?

The ration of fossil fuel to calories of food produced should be evidence enough that food production may be problematic. Much of the gain in population on the planet resulted directly from the so-called green revolution. If you suddenly remove that fossil solar subsidy, then you have a problem.

I suggest you do some reading about the physics of the problem. Jerome a Paris from the Daily Kos recently published a very interesting take on this very subject recently.

Here is a snippet from the text:

We (humans) have a persistent and aggravated history of overharvesting stored energy, that is, consuming biotic energy resources at a rate that exceeds their regeneration or replacement rate -- whether this be for immediate alimentary needs or for more sophisticated applications like cooking, heating, clothing, etc.  We have a history of looting the stored biotic wealth of topsoil, for example (formed by millennia of forestation) in an extractive mode so as to reap exaggerated harvests from it for a limited time -- depleting it so severely that after the boom period is over, our return on labour invested diminishes rapidly and we have to fall back through a (usually pretty quick) series of devolving crops and practises.   This fallback and devolution is touched on by Jerome in the article;  a frantic spiral downwards from one to another apparently cheaper (slower, less dense) substitute until either equilibrium is restored, or desertification and die-off or migration result.

One end product of this kind of liquidation in an agrarian culture is an arid scrubby biome, xericultivated, with frugal animals like sheep and goats and chickens/rabbits being farmed, and mules or donkeys used for transport, rather than extravagant animals like beef cattle and heavy horses.  With concomitant changes in diet and social organisation a stable human population can live rewarding lives even in such a degraded biome.

The fossil fuel boom is (my view concurring with a school of historical/political thought here) just another one of these stories of looting, in a compressed time period, the accumulated energy discovered "free for the taking".  Whether it be topsoil or petroleum, the initial high burn rate cannot be sustained, and attempts to sustain it hit the walls of thermodynamics very quickly.  This is the final refutation of the infamous doctrine of substitutability:  we can't eat rocks and sand.

Nor, imho, can we sustain an insanely profligate burn rate as required by our present models of transport, housing, commerce, and agriculture by any sustainable substitutions for fossil fuels.  The burn rate itself is inherently unsustainable. This is at present a minority viewpoint, but it is mine until I see some compelling evidence to the contrary.  We should have been called, not homo habilis (clever though we are), nor homo sapiens, nor even homo economicus ("oikonomikos" is in its original usage the management of the finances of a household, and liquidation is piss-poor blind-drunk management);  perhaps we should have been called homo spendthriftus, the species with the high burn rate.

So ultimately the argument is we only have so much sunlight hitting the planet and that determines the carrying capacity.

Damn you entropy, damn you.


I love that, as I have to deal with anti-global warmers all the time:

"If your house is on fire, through no fault of your own, then why throw gasoline on it?"

I enjoy a good rant as much as anybody, but if "sustainable agriculture" is really impossible, that is bigger news than peak oil.  And such a claim might find some resistance amongst sustainable agriculture practitioners.

I am not a practitioner, but I would guess that there are fields that had been in production, in Asia, for centuries before fossil fuels even showed up.

So I think it is a mistake to make one of those long range (100+ year) predictions that when the fossil fuel age ends, the only answer is soil depletion.

We should concentrate on the problems immediately in front of us, and the available solutions.  I'm sure the practitioners have some ideas on that.

What was the planet's population the last time we lived on solar energy alone?  Less than a billion.  Have the laws of thermodynamics been repealed since then?  That seems to be as good an indication of carrying capacity as we can get.  Only this time it'll be lower because we've lost all our top soil, species and climate stability.  Sorry.

Read perilous optimism:,perilous_optimism.html

Dieoff is coming, so sit back and enjoy.

SolarDude, thanks for this link. Recommended. We have to stop consuming natural capital and learn to live off current income.
So, is Cuba's population back to pre-oil levels? If not, why not? You are obviously convinced of the arguments put forth by the other Doomers, perhaps you can tell us why there was not widespread die-off in Cuba.

And while you are at it, perhaps you can explain why all other forms of energy are going to just evaporate post-peak.

An important thing that seems to have escaped you is that, before oil, we did not have the large-scale renewable energy sources that we have today. Are wind, geo-thermal, hydro and tidal energy sources just going to disappear? Solar PV and solar water heating are also very recent developments.

I don't think, for the slightest moment, that these technologies are going to save our sorry, resource-consuming, "business-as-usual" lifestyles. They don't need to. While 90% of us are working our butts off in our future agrarian societies, there will be no time for PS2's, Xboxes and cable TV.

Dieoff is coming, so sit back and enjoy
You may be convinced that we are all going to die. So be it. You are obviously a "half-empty glass" kind of person that will not fight to the last for the things that you love.

Well that is not me.

As long as I can do anything to keep my family and myself alive, I will try it.

I do not give up when the going is tough.

Do not project your pathetic fears and inadequacies on the rest of us.

So, is Cuba's population back to pre-oil levels? If not, why not?

Because they still import staples like rice and beans?

Don't get me wrong, I admire what they've done, and I don't think the U.S., at least, will be suffering a dieoff anytime soon, but Cuba is not a good example of a real peak oil situation.  When Cuba suffered their oil crash, the rest of the world was still fine.  So Cuba could import food from overseas.  They could trade for infrastructure and raw materials they needed.  They could get international aid, if necessary.  And then they discovered oil of their own.  

And they aren't out of the woods yet.  They had severe power shortages a couple of years ago, caused in part by the heavy crude they produce from their own reserves.  (It's hard on the equipment.)  They are now suffering a natural gas shortage, which Castro is trying to address by giving out electric ricecookers from China.


Oh I admit it has not been (and still isn't) a picninc for them.

But then again, in the 15 years since they lost their oil imports from the USSR, they have not:

  1. Descended into outright anarchy, and
  2. Had a 90% die-off of their population

What Solardude, Cherenkov, et al. are saying a lot recently is that these two things are inevitable.

I say, PROVE IT!

And don't point me to North Korea. Their rigid, autoritarian government forced factory workers (under threat of death) to return day after day to derilict factories, instead of allowing them to transition to a more agrarian model (as Cuba did).  But despite that, they still only(!) had about 6% starvation deaths.

Now that you mention it...North Korea is an interesting example.  The reason they did so poorly was 1) they refused to ask for help from the international community and 2) they suffered some terrible natural disasters, including a tsunami that ruined their best farmland.

If there is a dieoff (and I'm not saying there will be), it will be for those reasons.  Unexpected disaster, and the inability of the international commnunity to help out.  That is what we will be losing with cheap oil: the ability to deal with unexpected events.  A hurricane, a flood, an earthquake, drought, crop failure, etc.  

In the old days, governments would store food for emergencies.  (Remember Egypt and the seven fat cows and seven skinny cows?)  Now, we just trust the global market, and assume we can buy what we need and ship it wherever it's needed.  China still maintains large food stores in case of famine, but they're the only ones.  

"That is what we will be losing with cheap oil: the ability to deal with unexpected events."

Agreed.  But the big difference between what happened to North Korea and what will happen to the rest of the world post-peak is that we have (if Stuart's predictions are correct) 20, 30, 40 or even 50 years to get to the same level of oil loss that the Koreans experienced in a matter of months.

Do you think we will just sit around doing nothing like the frog as the water around it slowly rises to boiling point?

Do you not think that there will be natural disasters during that time-frame that we will be able to learn from?

yes, it is going to be hard. Yes, we might loose a small number of us along the way.  

But 90% die-off is not inevitable.

Do you think we will just sit around doing nothing like the frog as the water around it slowly rises to boiling point?

That's the big question, isn't it?  I am honestly not sure.  

I could foresee a future where we keep thinking it's a temporary problem.  Or at least, TPTB encourage us to think so.  Don't worry, things will be back to normal, as soon as we win the war in Iraq...or build 10,000 nuclear power the war on Iran...get the fusion program the war on Venezuela...etc.

The other problem I see is that the population is likely to be growing, even as our resource base is dwindling.  If current trends continue, the U.S. population will be 45% higher by 2050.  By 2020, we will be consuming all the food we produce.  IOW, we might have trouble feeding our population even without peak oil.

With peak oil...immigrants from countries worse off than we are will be pouring over the borders.  As the economy sours, people will be poorer, probably more rural, and likely less educated - all factors that lead to higher birth rates.  Pushing the crunch into the future won't necessarily make it easier.

I think there will be increasingly serious energy shocks and as they become more serious, they will lead to die-offs. I could see Iraq becoming a die-off situation - the resource war as catalyst, a US pullout, and massacre of one group by the other two, or vice-versa.

I think it will be quite a while until die-offs happen in the industrialized world, but a few more Katrinas could change my mind. I also think it will be a while until we see severe enough die-offs to actually stop or reduce world population growth. By that point, we'll be used to them.

Which side are you going to be on?
"The International Atomic Energy Authority, the nuclear watchdog, believes that much of Iran's programme is now devoted to uranium enrichment and plutonium separation, technologies that could provide material for nuclear bombs to be developed in the next three years."

Not sure that this it true this is from the IAEA:

"During these investigations, the Agency has not seen indications of diversion of nuclear material to nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices."

They say jihad and we must believe them. two options.

  1. Kill every man woman and child ever able to strap a bomb to their chest.  Leave no village unscourged.

  2. Pull out of the region and police them from carrier groups never letting them in the nuclear club.  Phase out petroleum and make them irrelevant.  

I don't think america has the stomach for either.
There is option 3.

Stop waving our d*cks around. O.K. It was funny in Bravehart. But that was a movie.

There is a Vermont Teddy Bear you can buy on line that has a shirt on that says: "Nuke Iran."
I had planned to flag this Iran article when i read it this morning.   I have the same feeling of dread as during the lead up to Iraq--the dread that comes when I realize that the Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld gang are just not tethered.  

But it's even scarier now.  An embattled ignorant Bush may be particularly dangerous.  His Iraqi screwup is so bad that he's struggling to recoup.  His answer:  War?  Big Chief again?   Is Cheney no longer the boss?  Then who's calling the shots?  Rove?   Bush???!!!!   Voices from the Almighty?

The "no land invasion" can't be absolute.   I'm no military type, but can we  afford to let Iran control the Straits of Hormuz?   Absolutely not.  We'll have to swoop in take it over.  Maybe other strategic areas.   And that's just the first day.  

And at home, of  course, gas lines and $8,  10?  12?  a gallon.  We are a big fat staggering beast balancing precariously on a tightwire.  Will Iran be the slap upside the head that knocks us off?

It appears to me the US could keep the Gulf open by naval and air operations without invading Iran (as it did during the tanker war in the 1980s).  The US might lose a few warships/tankers, but I can't see how it wouldn't basically be able to keep the oil flowing from the rest of the Gulf.  The Iranians might fire a few of their new missiles to good effect, but before too long the overwhelming air power of the US is going to destroy them all.  Of course, Iranian oil might very well go off the market, which would have a pretty significant effect on oil prices all by itself.

Probably the larger risk would be if the US lost the support of the other middle Eastern countries who initiated an oil embargo (and/or a switch of their reserves out of the dollar).  The US also would suffer very badly a removal of Russian oil from the market, so they hold significant leverage also.  Chinese switching of their dollar reserves into other currencies would likely precipitate a dollar crisis. The US needs at least enough international consensus that other countries will stand aside rather than actively retaliating against a US strike.

At any rate, the Iranians are showing no interest whatsoever in compromising, so at some point the US is going to have to put up or shut up.

Actually I don't think anybody is in a position to use directly the oil weapon, even Iran if attacked. Most oil exporters don't have other significant sources of revenue and are unlikely to be able to hold on to it for the year or two neccessary for US for example to be seriously affected (there is SPR, maybe rationing etc.).

Oil will leak through illegal channels and trucks in neighbouring countries but will eventually reach the market. A switch away from USD is a more likely and potentially more devastating for US response.

If Iranian oil went off the market it would undoubtedly cause a rapid run up in prices.

If Russia wanted to they could easily withhold some percentage of their production.  With higher prices they don't need to sell as much to retain their level of income.  And by withholding some production prices rise even higher so their profit remains strong.

If Israel is involved in an attack on Iran various other Middle Eastern may become sufficiently annoyed to cut production a little too.

Venezuela is also angry with the US as are many other countries.  I'd say there is at least some possibility that the "oil weapon" could be used.  They wouldn't have to be blatant about it, just 10% reduction for "maintenance" reasons would have a big impact.

And it could snowball.  As prices climbed higher it would become ever easier for big producers to shave a little production as plenty of cash would be pouring in.

A rapid run up in prices would also make attacking oil installations far more attractive to Al Qaeda.  They've already tried to hit Saudi terminals.  With the US distracted with Iran it would surely increase their opportunity and the motivation to strike again.

Now compound this run up in the real price of oil with an attack on the dollar and you've got a very potent mix.

I believe England failed to contest Egypt nationalizing the Suez canal because of weak finances and the expected high cost of the military operation.  Our military runs on money.  Our country runs a huge deficit already and has huge debt.  Without money, no fancy weapons, no morale, no volunteers, no gas.  Iran knows the history and knows our current weaknesses which is why they don't think they must compromise.

How can the US afford to sustain increased war costs if the US dollar falls, oil rises and our creditors call in the loans or just cease lending more?

Massively increase taxes?  That will be real popular during economic calamity...  How many of our indebted business and families will be bankrupted by the combined blows?  How fast will our tax base shrink as the economy implodes?

The USSR was shattered economically.  I think the same could happen to the US.

As prices climbed higher it would become ever easier for big producers to shave a little production as plenty of cash would be pouring in.

I know it may sound strange in a PO blog, but the next biggest concern of all oil-producing nations after very low prices are very high prices :) Reason - they are all aware that if a significant, coordinated conservation effort is undertaken their future as rich energy suppliers of a monopolistic commodity is sealed.

As for the idea of punishing US - I acknowledge they all have enough reasons to hate us. But at the same time they are all dependant on that green paper we're sending back... it is all about balance of interests. The other thing is that if Venezuela for instance stops selling to US it will have to start selling to Europe, and the net effect in a global market would be zero.

Reason - they are all aware that if a significant, coordinated conservation effort is undertaken their future as rich energy suppliers of a monopolistic commodity is sealed.

This is why I find the fact that Saudi Arabia is calling on us to conserve extremely alarming.

Not only SA - Exxon Mobile and BP are also sending basically the same message. They are all afraid by the same thing - that unrestricted demand will force overproduction. This will certainly lead to what Matt Simmons predicted - a collapsing production from damaged fields.

Saudi Arabia will lose its credibility as reliable supplier and the world will start more or less successful effort for moving away from oil. I think the potential risks and negatives from such scenarios are far outweighting the perspectives of short-term superprofits.

They are all afraid by the same thing - that unrestricted demand will force overproduction.

They're the only ones who can overproduce their fields.  We, the customers, can't.

Saudi Arabia will lose its credibility as reliable supplier and the world will start more or less successful effort for moving away from oil.

I see that article as evidence that it's already happening.  The Saudis are opening talking about the end of the age of oil.  

The problem is that the market is now so tight that even the relatively small players can jack up the price.  Saudi Arabia may worry about what superhigh prices will do to the market, but they no longer have the ability to flood the market with cheap oil and offset the likes of Iran or Venezuela.  

I also have the impression that SA is beginning to change its rhetoric.  Personally, I'm not yet convinced whether it is real or simply an artifact of where and how I get my news.

If real, then the change in rhetoric is disturbing.  I expect to see a great deal of 'spin' from the relevant grovernments about who and what is to blame long before we see a no-sh!t, 'I like to bike!' ad campaign.

Any thoughts about whether there are truly substantive changes to Saudi rhetoric lately?

I think a couple of those new MIRVed missiles aimed at Saudi Arabian oil facilities like Abqaiq might put a crimp in world oil supply.

Just a guess.

Hopefully, the Saudis thought of this when they deployed their Patriot missiles.

Good insight.

3-6 weeks heavy disruption, longer for a while, with some bombs going off in PX's around the planet.

What happened to the Iranian Bourse? It is April and I see no impact of that item.

It hasn't opened yet.
waitaminute, Stuart, what was it that blew up the USS Cole a few years back, a simple speedboat loaded with explosives or soemthing to that effect?  Even if the US were to totally disable Iran's ability to fire missles at tankers, what's to stop them from using the "low-tech" option like what Al-Queda did to the Cole?  It'll be really freakin' hard to stop something like that unless each tanker were escorted by a convoy of warships.  

Just a thought,


Radar, air patrols?

The reason the Cole was hit was because they thought they were in a friendly port during peacetime.  No-one is going to get an unidentified small boat anywhere close to a warship on patrol during a period of active hostilities.

I would think that after an initial shock, if the US can keep Hormuz open most of the time, oil will still go through when it can - what are the alternatives?  But the price is likely to become very high.  And Iran may be able to create other disruptions from time to time, which would keep it volatile.  

But I think attempts to predict what will happen after an attack have low odds of being right.  The situation will be very unpredictable.  What will China and Russia do?

Once an attack begins, it will all be focused on the oil fields and Hormuz, and the whole nuclear facility thing will be as forgotten as WMD.

Recall the first Iraq war.  Our side bombed for weeks and didn't get all the missiles.  We had the German and French air forces working with us, too.  Unless the Iranians are very dumb, they are not going to lose all their toys quickly.

Also remember that war game done years ago where the U.S. general playing Iran managed to cripple the Persian Gulf fleet using less than what Iran has.  IIRC, they had to restart the war game so the U.S. didn't lose outright.

You mean British and French Air Forces.


 I tried to respond to your idea that the US can keep the tankers moving even during a state of war. I don't believe this to be true. The reasons are posted against your earlier post in this thread.

 With regard to your comment about the US loosing the support of other gulf states, China spoke yesterday of switching out of the dollar. This was widely reported. Less widely reported was that an hour after the Chinese announcement Kuwait, Qatar, and UAE all made similar announcements. I don't think this is coincidence. You need to look long and hard before you find a foreign policy more stupid, damaging, or counterproductive to long term US interests, than that of the administration of George II.

It bears pointing out that a US attack on Iran would be even more unilateral than our Iraq venture. The Security Council members, burned by Bush the last time, are already making it clear that their resolutions are not going to provide us with a loophole; and world public opinion is pretty much unanimously hostile to us, Bush proving, in this case at least, to be a uniter, not a divider.

I doubt if even this administration can be so stupid as to bring about a world-wide depression. They already hold the record for the dumbest single foreign policy move since WWII. (For the record, number three was the Anglo-French Suez operation. Number two involved somebody who stuck his dick in a garbage disposal and hit the on switch.)

I doubt if even this administration can be so stupid . . .

Never underestimate the potential for stupidity. The following ran on April 1st and I at first assumed it was, well, a joke. Maybe not.

Rice Says Era of U.S. Supporting Non-Democratic Regimes Is Over

April 1 (Bloomberg) -- U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the U.S. will no longer give explicit support to governments that are not elected, suggesting that spreading democracy now takes priority over maintaining political stability.

``The past 60 years of trying to buy stability at the expense of democracy is now gone,'' Rice said at a press conference in Blackburn, England, that was televised by the British Broadcasting Corp. The policy was one of ``Middle East exceptionalism,'' she said.

The comments strengthen assertions Rice made yesterday about the diplomatic priorities of the world's largest military power three years after it led an invasion of Iraq. Seeking to win over opponents of U.S. actions, Rice called the change in policy ``one of the most important'' her government has made. She didn't say specifically what the change would mean or name countries that are affected.

So what non-elected governments might Condi be referring to? Kuwait? Saudi Arabia? Oman? Qatar? UAE? Bahrain? Turkmenistan? Kazakhstan? Uzebekistan? Tahijikstan? Pakistan? Kyrgystan? No one appears to dispute the elections in Iran. No one appears to appreciate the Iranian government that was the outcome of those elections but then not that many people have a deep and abiding affection for the outcome of the 2000 elections in Amerikstan.

But to return to Rice. We can rephrase her statement thus: Instead of trying to buy stability at the expense of democracy, the US now plans to buy democracy at the expense of stability. Is this brilliant or what? She must be the first person to identify the deep connection between instability and democracy. If the price of oil goes to $300 and Amerikstan nukes everybody else, democratic governments shall emerge from the rubble. No doubt this is a brilliant new paradigim for statecraft.

Equally brilliant is Condi's unwillingness to elaborate on exactly what she means here. No point to clarifying what this change implies, or what nations may be affected. Did that already with the "Axis of Evil" and those nasty boys then went full tilt into defensive mode which left us no choice but to ignore them and go shoot up Afghanistan (wildly unstable as Kharzi controls nothing outside the range of his personal protective detail and is therefore a most democratic state).

My hunch is that there are a lot of foreign folks reading Rice's comments and trying to fathom exactly what she means. I suspect many of them will come to the conclusion that America is a heavily armed nation lead by idiots and therefore not to be trusted. Hopefully the American people will come to a similar conclusion.

This 'new' American policy apparently choosing 'democracy' over 'stability' is a true recipe for Instability and something close to eternal war. It is so 'radical' 'revolutionary' and 'distabilizing' in the extreme, that I think one could reasonably call it 'insane.' If she really means what she is saying, and isn't just pleading for 'help' because she knows this whole idea is both crazy and doomed to failure, then we are in really big trouble. Democracy in the Middle East would mean Hamas and the like taking over everywhere. Is that what we really want to happen? Do we really want to destabilize the entire Middle East and see all our friendly puppets fall from power to be replaced by radical Islamic regimes?

This socalled 'policy' reminds me of some aspects of Fascist ideology. The idea of 'creative destruction' and building a new world order on the ashes of the old. I fear we'll only be left with the ashes and precious little order in we really go down this insane route.

According to Colin Powell's former Chief of Staff at the State Department, Lawrence Wilkerson, the Iranians approached the US in 2003, from all appearances in good faith, with offers to enter into negotiations with the the US to resolve various contentious issues between them such as the Iranian nuclear program and their support for terrorist groups etc. However they were basically turned away by the Bush administration under the influence of the neocons and PNACers (according to Wilkerson).

I guess rather than negotiate, the neocons would much prefer to have another opportunity to unleash a shock and awe v2.0 demo on another Muslim nation as an example for those hard nosed, fanatical Muslims who weren't suitably impressed by S&A v1.0 as beta tested on Iraq. On the other hand,  maybe they just don't want to piss off all the defense contractors who would miss out on the very profitable contracts to rebuild the inventory of cruise missiles, bunker busters etc. to replace the ones that would be used up in an attack on Iran.

America's Botched 2003 Iran Diplomacy: No Talks with Evil People in the "Axis"

From the time of Bush's "Axis of Evil" speech and many, many years before -- it was clear that Iran's behavior was high on the roster of key U.S. national security priorities. We knew that Iran was a big nation, a key player in the Middle East, a financier of terrorist activity beyond its borders, and aspired to regional and international greatness, and that many factions inside Iran yearned for normalization of relations with America. It is a nation full of dramatic contradictions -- but it s a nation that needs to be dealt with, not ignored.

Ignoring Iran's self-initiated diplomatic effort in 2003 is exactly what President Bush, under the influence of Rumsfeld and Cheney, did.

Here is a segment from a fascinating article by Gareth Porter that reflects some of Wilkerson's insights as well as important commentary from Brookings Scholar and former NSC Senior Director for Middle East Affairs Flynt Leverett:

Lawrence Wilkerson, then chief of staff to secretary of state Colin Powell, said the failure to adopt a formal Iran policy in 2002-03 was the result of obstruction by a "secret cabal" of neo-conservatives in the administration, led by Vice President Dick Cheney.

"The secret cabal got what it wanted: no negotiations with Tehran," Wilkerson wrote in an e-mail to Inter Press Service (IPS).

The Iranian negotiating offer, transmitted to the State Department in early May 2003 by the Swiss ambassador in Tehran, acknowledged that Iran would have to address US concerns about its nuclear program, although it made no specific concession in advance of the talks, according to Flynt Leverett, then the National Security Council's senior director for Middle East Affairs.

Iran's offer also raised the possibility of cutting off Iran's support for Hamas and Islamic Jihad and converting Hezbollah into a purely socio-political organization, according to Leverett. That was an explicit response to Powell's demand in late March that Iran "end its support for terrorism".

In return, Leverett recalls, the Iranians wanted the US to address security questions, the lifting of economic sanctions and normalization of relations, including support for Iran's integration into the global economic order.

Leverett also recalls that the Iranian offer was drafted with the blessing of all the major political players in the Iranian regime, including Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khomeini.

Continued at:

Thanks a lot for posting this information. I read it too when it was first published, but I forgot where. I think it needs to get out to a wider audience.

Contrary to what many Americans seem to believe Iran is a really complicated society, aren't they all? This whole idea that Iran is some kind of totalitarian, absolute dictatorhip is both inaccurate and dangerous. The promotion of this simplistic idea is part of the propaganda war preceeding the real war.

Put in really blunt language, dropping nuance, almost everything the U.S. has done in relation to Iran for decades, has only strengthened the position of the hardliners in Iran and weakened the moderates right the way down the line. American policy has been so heavy-handed that one almost thinks it must have been deliberate policy, designed to promote extremists in Iran as a pretext for eventual war. This is of course an appalling conclusion to come to, are our motives really that dark and dastardly?

I think we have to slow down somewhat and use caution in relation to Iran. We must avoid any rush to war. The consensus appears to be that Iran is 5 or 10 years away from having a nuclear weapon. That's if it took the decision today and worked flat out in secret to build such a thing. How they would keep it secret is another matter entirely.

What Iran has today is a fledgling nuclear power programme, with the potential that they could, sometime in the future decide to begin the process of aquiring nuclear weapons. So an attack on Iran would be an attack to deny them the ability to potentially build a weapon in the future. That seems a pretty thin basis for starting a war now. Following this kind of logic could lead us to attack many nations in the future. Surely Iran or some other nation could justifiably attack the United States, claiming that it felt it might be subject to an attack five or ten years in the future. The United States cannot be the only nation allowed to launch preventive wars can it?

Secretary Rice recently gave another reason for U.S. antagonism with Iran. This had nothing to do with weapons of mass destruction. She stated that Iran's attitude the American plan to 'democratize' the Middle East was obstructive and unhelpful and that Iran was terrorisms banker and supporter. She appeared to imply that after a successful regime change in Iran, everything in the Middle East would change for the better and new era of peace, prosperity and democracy would emerge. I think this attitude is dangerous, simplistic, nonsense. Attacking Iran could have the absolute opposite effect. The whole of the Middle East turned into one gigantic, burning bonfire, of hate, destruction and war.

5 to 10 years to getting nuclear weapons is almost a nonsens argument. Any industrialized country with good universities can probably build nuclear weapons in about 10 years.

But it is worrying that they are building enrichment facilities. Having such facilities available cuts years of any future nuclear weapon effort and enables series production of warheads.

This can also give bad PR for nuclear power wich could be about as bad for our global post peak oil economy and environment as a war in the persian gulf.

I'm going to try to inject a bit of rationality and sanity into the debate on Iran. I'm not going to go into too much detail as I haven't got the time or space. There are some mistakes here, but there are some interesting perspectives too.

A couple of weeks ago I heard an expert on nuclear technology and nuclear weapons talking about Iran. His name is Frank Barnaby and he used to head an institure in Sweden called S.I.P.R.I. For decades they studied questions relating to the arms race and everything to do with the whole nuclear area. The institute has a good reputation as Sweden was considered a neutral country during the whole coldwar period.

Barnaby is a very moderate and sober guy. He's a bit like Hans Blix, clear, sober and methodical. Not given to hysteria or fantasizing.

Barnaby is critical of our attitude towards Iran. I think that's good, because we need some critical thinking about how we deal with Iran. He pointed out how difficult it was to produce atomic weapons from scratch. I'm not going to go into the whole thing here, otherwise I'd be writing all night.

Unless one is supplied with weapons grade uranium or plutonium producing the stuff is quite difficult and it's not that easy to hide such a large scale process. Even if one manages to produce or get hold of weapons grade materials one then has to build a bomb. This is also complicated and sophisticated techniques are employed. Barnaby who has spent his life studying these things, doesn't go in for this idea that one can make a bomb in the garage. One's dealing with deadly and highly radioactive materials here.

Then if one makes a bomb is that enough? No, according to Barnaby it isn't. One needs to produce three or four bombs at least. Because one doesn't really know if the things are going to work before one tries them out.

So one needs to detonate one or two somewhere and learn some more. Now one's successfully tested an atomic weapon in the Iranian desert and the whole world knows about it. What happens next? Well, the chances are one's major cities are nuked by Israel or Iran is attacked in some other way. Detonating a nuclear weapon to see if the thing actually works is a risky strategy for Iran.

So, one's got this nuclear weapon that one can't perhaps test, then what? Nuclear weapons come in all sorts of different sizes. How does one deliver the thing to the target? Sticking the thing on the top of a rocket isn't as simple as it sounds. First one needs a rocket that's big enough to carry the nuclear weapon. One now needs to test the rocket, several times to make sure one has the ability to hit the target. One doesn't want to hit the wrong country after all. None of this is easy. When one starts to test rockets that have a range of thousands of kilometres on a regualar basis one's neighbours start to get nervous, where might that not end?

Here endith Barnaby.

Let's drop the rocket theory for a moment. We'll use a plane instead for our nuclear weapon, again we've got to practice dropping it over and over again. Considering the sophistication of modern spy satelites this is also hard to keep secret for long.

Our nuclear weapon is probably relatively crude and rather large. We can't sling it under a fighter. We need something bigger something like a B52. Where do we get a B52 from? Iran buying a B52 is hard to find and difficult to hide. How many B52 type bombers do we need to be sure of getting through with our nuclear weapon? Well more than one. We need lots of bombers to be really sure we can deliver our bombs. What about our potential foes airforce and rocket batteries, when they see our bombers approaching won't they react? Yes they will, which is why we need to fly really high and have even more bombers and even more bombs. This is all strating to get really complicated and very expensive, as well as darned difficult to pull off. To have a real chance one would need almost total air superiority or be a nuclear superpower. Getting to be a nuclear superpower isn't easy especially doing it in total secrecy and on one's own without outside help. Who is going to give this help to Iran and why?

Iran then gives one of these big nukes to some terrorists who drive off with it in the back of a truck. How the hell are they going to explode the thing? How will they deliver the bomb to, let's say Israel. Will they drive all the way from Iran to Israel across the desert. A big truck with an atomic weapon in the back and these things leave a radioactive trail one can follow with a sniffer satelite? How realistic is all this terrorist stuff? How does one get a truck with an atomic weapon into an Israeli city?
I've even heard some people talking about terrorists using a ship to deliver their nuclear weapon, but a ship is even bigger and harder to get into Israel.

All I'm trying to say is, one shouldn't get hung up on all this nuclear bomb hype. Sure there is a lot of technology around and theoretically many countries could produce their own nuclear bombs, but it isn't that easy, and even if one has a few of the things a whole new set of problems arise.

As an afterthought one could perhaps consider who would actually control such a weapon in Iran. Would it be the army, the airforce, the navy, the secret service, the revolutionary guards? Who would have the trigger mechanism codes? Could a handful of people produce a bomb, keep it secret and decide to use the thing without opposition? Iran get's lucky, dispite all the odds, and nukes Tel Aviv, Israel replies by destroy every city in Iran and killing thirty or forty million people. How likely in the real world is such a scenario? Do we really, honestly believe Iran wants to commit collective suicide just for the chance of maybe nuking one Israeli city? Isn't this in reality war propaganda? Israel would survive such an attack and Iran would be gone, wipped off the map. There we have it. If there is any country that really risks being wipped off the map it's not Israel, it's Iran in a massive Israeli counter-attack.

Even if Iran develops a few nukes they will only have a defensive role. They will use them to defend Iran if it's attacked. They will be battle-field nukes. Is that the reason we're seeking a confrontation with Iran? Because we can't even accept the possiblity that they might at some stage be able to defend themselves? I really hope that's not the case.

Good post but this little bit:

A big truck with an atomic weapon in the back and these things leave a radioactive trail one can follow with a sniffer satelite?

Is technical fantasy. There are no satelites that can sniff out ground lever radioactivity and I have never heard about a reasonable way to build one.

The closest example to this that I have heard about was outside measurements done next to the hull of a Sovjet submarine that beached(!) in Sweden during the cold war. These measurements led to the probable conclusion that it was armed with nuclear torpedoes or had a very odd ballast.

To deliver a weapon that weighs perhaps 500 kilograms all you need is a wagon drawn by a single donkey. Nuclear weapons do not require sophisticated or swift means of delivery to be highly effective. With techonology of the 1950s the U.S. developed nukes that would fit inside an artillery shell six-inches in diameter; fortunately any Iranian atomic bomb is likely to be rather large, perhaps the same as the North Koreans and Pakistanis have--and from the same source.  
The Mark 19 shell for "atomic annie" was 280mm (11 inch) and weighted several hundred kilograms.  Not exactly burro portable.
I am familiar with the eight-inch shell and also with the capacities of donkey carts. Yes, you could carry one of those in a two-wheeled cart; pneumatic tires would help. Also, you fail to mention the lighter and handier shell fired from the six-inch artillery piece.

For more on nukes and their potential as terrorist weapons, let me recommend in highest terms the classic,

I am familiar with the eight-inch shell and also with the capacities of donkey carts.

Sometimes I think you might actually be John McPhee.

No, his style is better than mine;-)

But I do love his books--all of them.

In my mind the nightmare that would be Iran has to be seen as an extension of the ongoing "mess" that the U.S. has created in Iraq.

Bad as today was in Iraq from the American point of view, tomorrow will be worse, and so on as far as I can see. i.e. there is no reasonable probability in my mind that "Sadam version 2.0" (A dictator brutal enough to hold the country together, and at the same time be a reliable U.S. client) will be in power there any time soon, no sign that the civil war will diminish, no sign that the anti-American fighters are running short of weapons, fighters,  or support.   Thus it seems that to the extent that the U.S. still has some degree of control in Iraq the trajectory of that control has nowhere to go but down.

This then raises the question of who will fill the vacuum of power. Iran, beginning with its influence with the now no longer suppressed Shite factions in Iraq, is the obvious answer. I can't imagine the U.S. allowing the formation of such a regional alliance within oil / gas producing states, and I think it has been clear since the "Carter Doctrine" was promulgated that such events would not be allowed to come to pass. Washington will not allow Iran to attempt what Bin Laden was only able to dream of.

But how to prevent it? By creating sufficient chaos within Iran that it is in no position to engage in adventures outside its boarders (That's what "supporting the freedom loving people of "Country X" means right?)  I take this as a synonym for attack.

"Best case" possible outcome of such an adventure from the U.S. point of view? Certainly loss of gulf shipping for some period of time until the Iran military assets that threaten it (and the Saudi facilities on the far side) can be destroyed, loss of Iranian production from the world markets for an indeterminate time, huge oil price, unless of course this is the trigger for the consuming nations to say "enough" to the market pricing of oil and assume some form of state control of oil markets.

Worst case? Don't want to even think about it, escalation to WMD by any of the parties is certainly possible, in theater or overseas.

Timing? I would imagine they want to be well engaged prior to the U.S. mid-term elections in November

And I hope to goodness that I'm wrong about all of this!

Two things. The second is that they are giving away free money. More details below.

The first is that the article mentioned parenthetically at the end of the blog post is wrong. Oil did not close at $67.70 and did not jump $2. May crude closed today at $66.74, up 39 cents.

The second... what was I going to say? Something about free money? Oh, yes, I remember.

Current odds of a U.S. or Israeli air strike against Iran before the end of this year are only 20%. For all of you here who are positive this will happen, here's your chance to make some free money. Apparently bettors on these markets enjoy giving money away, so you might as well get yours while there's still some to get.

Of course, the other alternative is that 20% really is a reasonable estimate of the odds of this happening, and that all this saber-rattling is just a matter of posturing. But that's much less dramatic and won't sell nearly as many newspapers and web page views. I'd certainly rather believe every blow-hard and armchair strategist on the net than people who are confident enough to put their money behind their opinions.

I guess I must have imagined Florida winning the NCAA tournament tonight, then.  After all, the odds against them were 25 to 1 or worse.  They couldn't possibly have won, with so many people who were confident enough to put money behind their opinions thinking they didn't have a chance.  ;-)
Imagine that, Leanan. All those bettors in the market thinking that Florida would not win the NCAA championship. Sure makes a mockery of the idea that the market knows anything in advance, doesn't it?

Halfin, you always post about the wonders of the market solving our energy woes and knowing the future better than anyone else. How about putting a date on these predictions of your market, or at least a time frame? Then at least we'll be able to look forward to when you'll either be proven right or you'll shut up about it.

I've never said that the market would solve our energy problems. You have me confused with someone else.

As far as predictions, I have argued that when someone puts money where his mouth is, that adds credibility. I have also done a public service by pointing out how lucky are all you who are convinced that the market is not just slightly wrong, but blatantly, egregiously wrong (which is a substantial fraction of posters here). For you, the world is one where money grows on trees and is given away for free, just like is happening on this Iran market. You should be grateful that I have told you all these ways to make money, essentially risk free.

As far as markets' predictive abilities, study after study has failed to find a reproducible strategy that lets people profit significantly by out-guessing and out-timing the market. So, no, I am not going to stop reminding people of the reality of what markets are predicting any time soon.

Your assumption that all of us have extra money to put where our mouths are is incorrect.  Some of us must simply watch and see what happens, hoping to hold on to what we have.  Somehow, the assumption that opinions don't matter much if there is no money attached is offensive.
As far as markets' predictive abilities, study after study has failed to find a reproducible strategy that lets people profit significantly by out-guessing and out-timing the market. So, no, I am not going to stop reminding people of the reality of what markets are predicting any time soon.

LOL, a failure to predict the unpredictable does not prove a pattern (or advanced foreknowledge) in the unpredictable.

I am truly amazed.

1/If the USA is to invade Iran you will need to be prepared for a lot of casualties in Iraq. The Iranians are tough and battle hardened and will fight with conviction. Their state is not rotten at its core like Saddams Iraq.

2/There are a lot of tempting targets in the Gulf states. Expect the Shia to rise. Possibly other muslims.

3/Iran has the capability to make Al Quaida look like Sunday School boys. The war in Afghanistan may heat up. The Kurds may decide their self interest lies not with the USA.

4/Russia and China may seek to take advantage of US involvement in Iran. Re-unification with Taiwan. A new SU. The USA is less capable of absorbing millions of casualties from a nuclear war or possibly of surviving a nuclear winter.
If US forces are redirected to containing Iran other states may believe the USA will/can play its nuclear cards.

5/At some point people will realise it is not in their national interest to support Israel. The Israeli's behavior in palestine, the extended colonisation, the recent land grab of a wall, the killing of children is reported in the Muslim world, they see the Israeli's as the new Nazi. For example the poisining of the (Israeli citizen) Beduin's grain to force them to relocate. At some point as the middle east reserves diminish the 'landing strip' Israel becomes of limited value.

6/The USA has no invaded or stopped India, Pakistan or North Korea. Having nuclear weapons appears to make invasion less likely. If tghe USA invades perhaps you should expect Egypt et al to pull out all the stops to make secret Atomic weapons.

7/After the attack what then?

I think your last point is important. After the attack what then? One often hears that a full-scale invasion is not on the cards, only a massive air strike to take out the Iranina nuclear facilities. Some experts have calculated that this would/could result in around 10,000 civilian casualties. Supposedly Iran facilities are underground and close to civilian areas. How Iran would react to such devistation is a moot point. How would the United States react to a totally unprovoked attack that killed ten thousand civilians? Maybe the Iranians are different, maybe they are like us? Maybe they haven't got the ability to launch a counter-attack? Maybe they wouldn't dare? Maybe we'd nuke them is they tried?

Are we implying that are ability to nuke Iran will function as a deterrent? But if Iran really is suicidal and ready to destroy itself, how can this be true? Can we really argue from both positions at the same time?

What happens after the first attack on Iran? Do we think they will just learn their lesson and drop nuclear power and meekly submit to U.S. pressure and dictates? Isn't this highly unlikely? Wouldn't they start their nuclear programme all over again, only this time they'd be even more hostile to the United States? So we'd have to attack them again in another five or ten years, what would happen in the mean time in the Middle East?

This is the top story at DailyKos right now:

What's really behind the attacks on Jill Carroll

Rather depressing.  In short, it argues that the rightwing spin machine is villifying Carroll for the same reason Arabists are being pushed out of the State Dept. and Middle Eastern studies departments in academia are under attack.  Hardliners want to silence people who have a nuanced understanding of those they see as our enemies.  They did the same thing with China experts during the McCarthy purges:

20 years after the end of the Vietnam War, Robert McNamara, in his book "IN RETROSPECT The Tragedy and Lessons of Vietnam", partly blamed the failure of American foreign policy on the McCarthyite purges of the 1950s. Commonly known as the "China Hands" they were a group of scholars who lived and worked in China, spoke Chinese fluently and understood the culture intimately. After the victory of Mao and the Communists in the Civil War, men like John Service and Edgar Snow and women like Agnes Smedley came into the crosshairs of Joseph McCarthy and Richard Nixon and were purged from the State Department and from academia and even, in some cases, driven out of the country. The results were catastrophic for American foreign policy. With the purging of the most knowledgeable, reputable experts on Asia and with the elevation of anti-communist hacks, the American foreign policy establishment was unable to recognize the true implications of Mao's victory in the Chinese Civil war and instead aligned itself with the corrupt, ineffective Chiang Kai-Shek and the rump state of Taiwan. The United States would have no diplomatic relations with the third most powerful nation in the world for close to 20 years and the entire course of American foreign policy in Asia descended into the self-destructive madness of the Vietnam War.

Now the same thing is happening with Arab experts:

They are truly the heirs of the China Lobby in the 1950s and have already done as much, or even more damage to the ability of Americans to come to an informed, nuanced opinion on the Middle East and on Islamic culture. Journalists like Jill Carroll and Robert Fisk and academics like Noam Chomsky are a threat to the illusion they (the right) want to create, that Arabs, like the Chinese communists of the 1950s and 1960s, are a demonic, all powerful force that threatens the very existence of the United States, and they will be attacked, vilified, slandered, whispered about, accused of anti-Semitism and anti-Americanism, and driven out of any position of influence.
Leanan, Thanks for the information. This is almost like a man that voluntarily chooses to blind himself, cuts out half his brain, and then decides become a highwire artist.
Is there any evidence of Arab studies academics being targetted?  The only academic mentioned here is Chomsky who is not mainly famous for Arab studies and is very left wing, so we don't need to think very hard to know why right wingers would hate him.  A broader pattern of attacks on academics in Middle East studies would be important, but I don't see any evidence of such cited in this piece.
Here's a Salon article:

On Oct. 21, the House of Representatives unanimously passed a bill that could require university international studies departments to show more support for American foreign policy or risk their federal funding.
The IAEA has repeatedly stated that there is no prove of Iran trying to build a nuclear weapon. Iran has been extremely cooperative in recent years with this organisation. Ayatollah Khameini issued a fatwa against producing a Nuclear weapon; it's against Islamic religion. Iran is at least 10 years from acquiring a nuclear weapon. They have several dozens of centrifuges for uranium enrichment; to produce a nuclear weapon you need hundreds.

The US has systematically sabotaged Iran's willingness to cooperate with the international community. For example the Russian proposal to enrich uranium for the Iranians on Russian soil. Every claim by the US pointing to a so called Weapon Program has been debunked. For example the weapongrade plutonium traces found by the IAEA in centrifuges. The centrifuges as well as the traces originated in Pakistan. And so on.

The US measures with double standards towards Iran. Iran signed the NPT and complies with the conditions. Pakistan, India, and last but not least Israel, did not sign the NPT, but have the US's full support. "all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal then others" comes to mind.

The US acts like international treaties, like the NPT, only applies if they aprove, like they are the policemen of the world deciding who can do what, thus denying Iran the right to enrich uranium for peacefull purposes. It is quite clear, and it is to Iran, what the US aims at. No wonder Iran is showing its' teeth. Even without the 233 mph torpedo they have significant military strength.

I'm affraid Iran is toast, no matter what they do. Even if they cancel the entire nuclear program, the US will probably keep hammering on the WMD's (Words of Mass Deception)thing.
The ultimate goal of attacking Iran, except for the Military-Industrial complex' wet dream, IS to take all that oil of the market and plunge the world into depression, thus  keeping the oil in the ground for the future. Comparable to the present Balkanisation of Iraq.

The last paragraph of this post is speculation and I will not give a time line for the events to unfold, but to me it looks like this is the strategy of this fanatic religous apocalyptic morons responsible for US foreign policy.

I have several concerns with this:
  1. The Telegraph is regarded as a professional paper of record. But no other papers picked up on this 'scoop'. And none have done so to elaborate on the story in the last few days.
  2. The Telegraph is not a favoured paper for leaking to, even kite flying to the Telegraph is unusual . This suggests some real journalism. The Telegraph is not particularly favoured by Downing Street.(this is a worry)
  3. It occurred more or less at the time of the Condi-Jack love fest.
  4. The biggest problem for His Imperial Tonyness is without doubt the Sulking Scot. Our esteemed chancellor covets Tony's job and he wants out of Number 11 and into Number 10 before his egregious screw up of the economy becomes obvious to even the most retarded voter.
  5. The last thing His Tonyness needs right now is another war. We are firing nurses despite throwing unbelievable amounts of money at the NHS; Purchasing seats in the House of Lords is beginning to look like criminality; Opinion polls on Iraq are fundamentally negative, as are his Tonyness's personal ratings. Now , if he did not have a failing war on his hands, a 'good, quick war' would probably save his arse (we have a tendency to rally round the boys at such times). But we have two wars going on already.
  6. Half the Labour Party want to lynch him now. If he does back Bush on this one he would have The Labour Party,The people, all of Europe and probably the Tories and certainly the Libs and Scots Nats after his liver.
  7. If he comes up with some bollox about Weapons of Mass Destruction (Weapons of Minor Distraction?) No one, not even my dog would believe him.
8)For the first time in about 380 years, the Army will probably say get lost. The much abused Civil Service will start leaking tid-bits and will start to think of themselves in a post-Tony world. ('A tyrant's last enemies are his closest friends...')

No. I do not think a rational PM of the UK would seriously contemplate military action against Iran at this time...


Hey, since the 50's the U.K., along with all the other "civilized" nations have been prepared to turn all the cities of the world into clouds of plasma in the name of nor allowing some alternative view of materialism to prevail, how "rational" is that?

Never underestimate the ability of humans to screw up a good thing...

The Daily Telegraph is conservative.

Check out this:

here's the Leftist Guardians take:

Iran could strike first

International rules of war apply to all.

Simon Tisdall

April 4, 2006 12:31 PM
Iran's leadership would be legally justified in launching pre-emptive military action against the United States to defend itself against an imminent US attack on its nuclear facilties.
Confidential advice proffered in an internal Tehran justice ministry memo? The rantings of a crazy Islamist blogger? No in both cases. The suggestion came in a speech by John Reid, the British defence secretary, delivered in London on Monday.
Mr Reid made no specific mention of Iran, of course. He was talking about the future defence of Britain and its allies against attack by "barbaric" terrorists using weapons of mass destruction. The defence secretary suggested that international law and the rules of war, mostly agreed in the mid-20th century, were out of date and needed to be reviewed. A reasonable concern, no doubt.
But Mr Reid appeared to fail to appreciate that "international" law, by definition, is universally applicable and supplies protections and redress for all - and not for just the self-styled "good guys". And this is where he got into difficulty.
"Another specific area of international law we perhaps need to think more about is whether the concept of imminence - that is to say, the circumstances when a state can act in self-defence without waiting for an attack - is sufficiently well-developed to take account of the new threats faced," Mr Reid said.
Mr Reid went on to argue that terrorists "continue to try and acquire WMD... hopefully, we would learn of any such threat before any atrocities had been committed. I believe we would have strong legal grounds to take action to protect ourselves against attack."
He also quoted the British government's current legal advice that "international law permits the use of force in self-defence against an imminent attack but does not authorise the use of force to mount a pre-emptive strike against a threat which is more remote..." This was one of the key areas of law that needed to be reconsidered, he suggested.
But while Mr Reid's focus was non-state terrorism, Iran is the inescapable context in which his words will be considered.
The Bush administration is widely reported to be preparing military and other contingency plans for a possible attack on Iran's nuclear facilities and possibly other military and command and control targets.
President George Bush has repeatedly refused to rule the use of pre-emptive military force against Iran. He and his offiicials regulalry characterise the policies of the Iranian government as a threat to regional peace and stability. They have accused Iran of aiding attacks on US and British forces in Iraq.
Vice-president Dick Cheney has stated categorically that Iran will not be "allowed" to acquire a nuclear weapons capability - even though Tehran deies any such intention. And, specifically, the US says Iran is a leading sponsor of international terrorism. If it acquired WMD, it could supply such weapons to terrorists, it is claimed.
From Iran's perspective, all this amounts to a serious military threat that may not yet be "imminent" - but could soon become so. Its spokesmen have pledged to meet pain with pain and hurt with hurt.
The assumption until now has been that Iran would passively wait and see what the Americans do. But as Mr Reid has helpfully pointed out, western countries increasingly believe they have, or should have, a legal right to pre-empt. Logically, Iran has an identical right - and may choose to exercise it.
The possibility, however remote or unlikely it may seem now, of Iran attacking before it is attacked demonstrates how dangerous the whole Bush doctrine of pre-emption really is; and how problematic, too, are attempts to change international law to suit contemporary circumstances.

 There is the possibility that US actions and statements regarding Iran are intended to provoke a response that would then justify retribution.

 I agree with the earlier comment that both sides are talking past each other as they speak from fundamentally different premises. But I also think that neither of them truly seeks a dialogue with the other. The statements on both sides are actually targeted to a domestic audience.

 If you accept an attack on Iran then I believe you must also accept the loss of all oil shipped out via the straits. There is no SPR large enough to accomodate this interruption in supply. Remember the full might of America has been applied to Iraq for over 3 years and there is nothing to show for it but 100,000 dead and wounded and a billion of close to $1 trillion. Iran is a much stronger state and there will be no "Mission Accomplished" three months after hostiities open.

 Halt exports out of the middle east and I suspect Kuwait, UAE, and Qatar would all be plunged into economic crises and internal turmoil especially since the large US military installations in each of these states is "hidden" from their own populations.

 You can expect each of these states to suffer some form of disorder due to both the economic impacts and the populace rising up against rulers who permit infidels to launch attacks from their territory against fellow muslims.

 If George II proceeds with his threats (ie if the threats are factual representations of his intent) then you may as well pour gasoline over the middle east and toss in a match.  The impact on the world economy is easily imagined.

 The conclusion I draw is that George II is seeking to intimidate the US populace, not the Iranians. He needs to frighten America to overcome the Delay corruption scandal and his own low poll numbers.

 The real threat to America comes not from Iran but from the lack of intelligent analysis of the issues on the part of US corporate media.