Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
June 01, 2011

Obama On Iran: X Times Zero Is Greater Than Zero

With regards to Iraq's no existing WMDs, which were used to launch a war on it, the Bush administration's sell-points were not so much single pieces of (false) evidence, the Uranium from Nigeria, the bio-weapon trucks, the Antrax scare, but the sum of all of these pieces.

Even people who did not believe every single piece of the evidence could be convinced by pointing to the sum of them. A lot of dirt was thrown at Saddam's Iraq and for a lot of onlookers the amount of dirt thrown, even as it didn't stick, was enough to make Iraq look dirty.

In responses to the new Sy Hersh piece on the non-existence, which U.S. intelligence agencies confirm, of an Iranian military nuclear program, the Obama administration is now using exactly the same tactics. It asserts that the validity of each single piece of evidence is not relevant, it is simply the sum of them is what makes Iran dangerous.

In a Politico piece the administration responds directly to the Hersh piece:

“There is a clear, ongoing pattern of deception, and Iran has repeatedly refused to respond to the IAEA’s questions about the military dimensions of [its] nuclear program, including those about the covert site at Qom,” the senior administration official added. “These examples and more make us deeply skeptical of Iran’s nuclear intentions.”

The communicated strategy here is: "It is the sum of the evidence (about some of which we will not tell you), not the single explainable pieces, which makes Iran guilty."

It therefore does not matter to the "senior administration official" that the Qom sides was not secret at all. Iran declared the then still empty site to the IAEA on September 21 2009 and the Obama administration revealed it as "secret" only on September 25 2009. But that false evidence is only part of a pattern of other (likely also false) evidence and that is the reason, says Obama, why we must eventually bomb Iran.

In the New York Times the propagandist Broad lets the administration make the same point:

The seven categories of technology all bear on what can be interpreted as warhead design: how to turn uranium into bomb fuel, make conventional explosives that can trigger a nuclear blast, generate neutrons to spur a chain reaction and design nose cones for missiles.

Two diplomats familiar with the evidence, both of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity under the usual protocol, emphasized that no single one of the technologies stood out as indicating bomb work. Some, they conceded, have peaceful uses.

But the totality of the evidence, they said, suggested that Iran has worked hard on multiple fronts to advance the design of nuclear arms.

“It’s the whole variety of information,” one of the diplomats said. “You have to look at the whole thing.”

(Notice how Broad hides his sources as "diplomats" not as "foreign diplomats" as the NYT usual does when  they are not U.S. administration officials.)

But despite of what those administration stooges say, the "totality of the evidence" is not greater than zero when each and ever evidence point is zero. Any of the "seven categories of technology" has peaceful or non nuclear military purposes. Some of them are even very unlikely to be used in a military nuclear program.

A few weeks ago a scare was made of evidence of uranium deuterite as neutron generator in an Iranian bomb. As the Arms Control Wonk Jeffery Lewis pointed out:

This method is incredibly unique. Not only are there no civilian uses for imploding uranium deuteride to generate a burst of neutrons, NOT EVEN THE OTHER NUCLEAR WEAPONS PROGRAMS CONSIDERED THIS APPROACH.

Why, if Iran would build a bomb, would it use an unproven technology no one else has ever used for this purpose? Would you introduce some obscure new physics into your very first bomb if all the other experienced bomb builders used other better and by now well known, readily available and reliable methods? That is again not credible as evidence. But to the Obama administration that does not matter.

There new selling point is not the credibility of their alleged evidence, they even confirm that there is none, their selling point is the pattern THEY create by introducing all kinds of dubious technical evidence to make their case.

Posted by b on June 1, 2011 at 13:44 UTC | Permalink


Pretty soon Iran will be developing photon torpedoes and disruptor tech.

Posted by: TJ | Jun 1 2011 14:57 utc | 1

I wonder why they even make this stuff up any more. The US government will invade Iran (or bomb it into utter destruction) whenever they feel like it. The people's wishes matter little in our 'democracy'. So why worry about making up a myth?

Posted by: Joseph | Jun 1 2011 21:18 utc | 2

“There is a clear, ongoing pattern of deception, and Iran has repeatedly refused [...]”

we live in a world of fables; the Us administration is simply reaffirming its belief in the current narrative which requires a tough "western civilization" to counter the evil "others" (mainly Muslim, these days)

I begin to think that the real function of politicians, intellectuals and journalists in the era of "democracy" that began in second half of the XIX century is to "enact" and comment the fables we live in

The most encompassing fable of all is that of "western civilization" (a construct of that same period, in itself a most radical form of racism), which at its base is founded on the idea that the proof of our superiority consists in this very type of "historical consciousness" and in the endless rationalizations that feed it

The confabulation is, must be, endlessly reaffirmed; just imagine we heard something of this sort: "the Us president declares he is convinced Iran does not have a nuclear weapons program": a whole piece of the context in which permanent war makes sense would collapse; just try to imagine the consequences, the domino effect this assertion would have on our present conception of the world

Generally, the conclusion people arrive at from this sort of considerations is that our élites consciously lie because that's what's convenient for them; I think instead there's a deep need, rooted in the dynamics of the "democratic game", that compels actors in the public discourse to create fables within which their actions and ideas acquire a certain "meaning"; of course, when rethoric shadows reality beyond a certain threshold, we have what we can call a collective psychological pathology

I think that at the root of the impotence of antimperialists and anticapitalists today is the fact that opposition parties are still prisoners of the same need to oppose fables with fables; that marxism was conceived as the definitive "counter-fable", but turned out to be just another fable, and its collapse left a vacuum that still waits to be filled; and that this whole "Occidentalist" conception of the world pervades public discourse and society, and this accounts for the despairing feeling of impotence and ineluctable one frequently has when contemplating the current state of the world

One last thought before ending this rant: I think a key symptom that public debate is turning into a confabulation, is when affirmations of abstract "values" overshadow analysis of concrete collective "interests"; but since the demise of the socialist and democratic (in the sense of "popular") movements, collective interests have ceased to be a political factor; today we mostly have lobbies, which are an entirely different concept

Posted by: claudio | Jun 1 2011 23:44 utc | 3

b - if you read Arms Control Wonk again, I think you'll find that the Chinese first used this method for their bombs and then passed the information to Pakistan (who also used it) and it is suggested the A.Q.Khan passed the information on to Iran.

However, as I just commented on ACW, I don't think that the IAEA has any evidence that actually ties this uranium deuteride compression technique to the Iranians.

Posted by: blowback | Jun 2 2011 2:45 utc | 4

@blowback - that the Chinese first used this method for their bombs and then passed the information to Pakistan (who also used it)

The Chinese experimented with uranium deuterite but never used it in their weapons. Same with Pakistan. The group around AQ Kahn designed a bomb that would probably have used uranium deuterite but it never was more than a paper design. The competing group at PAEC build the Pakistani weapon and those do not use uranium deuterite but Polonium and Berylium. I'll repeat, no-one has ever actually build a weapon design with uranium deuterite neutron generators. This for very good technical reasons.

You can find more about this in this tread at Arms Control Wonk. See especially the comments by "SS Panzer" on Dec 24 2009.

Posted by: b | Jun 2 2011 7:55 utc | 5

I'm inclined to agree w/Joseph@#2...

Thom Hartmann: Life in Post-Legal America? articulates, quite overwhelmingly so, how we've brought the lawless Wild, Wild West to the world, with one deceptively (IMO) huge and methodical caveat, w/a hidden behind appearance of objectivity, he hijacks the whole pithy description and stunning articulate analysis with a one sentence linguistic detour by blaming all of these things on the Bush/Republicans administration, as if the Clinton Clan and Democrats weren't also apart of the whole vapid progression. Hell, truth be told, this whole progression has been on this trajectory since the Grassy Knoll shooters.

How did we get to this place where protesting government corruption is now illegal? Where up is down and black is white? Fucking bizarre-o-world, one big Arkham Asylum...

Yet we see, two instances of a meme coming into view, whose right may depend on being stark raving mad...

Welcome to Post-Legal America Post-Legal America and the National Security Complex

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Jun 2 2011 10:18 utc | 6

State Crimes Against Democracy (SCADs) are actions undertaken in direct violation of sworn oaths of office to circumvent, exploit, or otherwise undermine or subvert laws and institutions to advance personal or political gain and/or to silence or otherwise suppress public foreknowledge and awareness.
Weird, I distinctly remember posting several papers at MOA about SCADs, before b closed the bar last time, however, they aren't in the archives.

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Jun 2 2011 10:38 utc | 7

Perhaps the Israelis are following the examples set by the US: Halliburton had dealings with Iran while supposedly US corporations could not. They just set up subsidiaries.

So, why not, eh?

Posted by: jawbone | Jun 2 2011 23:46 utc | 8

Must view. Seymour Hersh on the Arab Spring on Democracy Now (start at 11:30 min).

A lot of interesting stuff in there on none-nuclear Iran, the Saudi-U.S. counter-revolutions in the Gulf. Also on Iraq. Exile Baathist prepare for a decisive fight with the Shia as soon as the U.S. is out.

Posted by: b | Jun 3 2011 17:28 utc | 9

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