Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Wisdom—or at least, information— in the Daily Kos?

Todd Johnston has posted a lucid and actually entertaining, if condescending, explanation at the Daily KOS of the stages and difficulties of refinement to get from the 500 metric tons of “yellowcake” known to be stored in Iraq since 1991, and some hypothetical nuclear bomb.

His hypothesis is that Iraq has never had the manufacturing infrastructure to refine sufficient weapons-grade U235 to be any danger, so the purchase of additional yellowcake from Niger would have been so inconsequential that it can not have been a casus belli.

There are a few dead mice in the skulligallee, though.

He claims that as of about the time of Bush’s 2002 state of the union address, visiting scientists determined to their satisfaction that Iraq’s manufacturing capacity was so wrecked that they could not possibly refine their existing yellowcake to a level of purity that would pose any danger.

This assumes three unverified premises: (a) that the self-appointed inspectors he cites have any credentials for analyzing any country’s manufacturing capacity, much less that of a murderous dictatorship; (b) that Saddam and his regime had no access to any other refining capabilities other than those viewed by the visiting scientists; and (c) that the yellowcake would pose no danger unless refined to weapons-grade purity.

Paul Volcker’s official Report reveals that the criminally corrupt mis-management of the sanctions under the Oil-for-Food program never seriously hampered Saddam in pursuing any of his programs and goals. Even Bill Clinton found that only by unambiguous application of military force was Saddam ever persuaded to refrain from violating the restrictions placed on him. At the same time, it’s clear that Saddam and his scientists and technicians were enjoying vigorous cooperation and support from various other rogue states eager to join the “nuclear weapons club.” Documents, testimony, and other evidence have come to light showing that North Korea, Syria, and Iran, Libya, Pakistan, China, and several of the former republics of the Soviet Union, have had brisk involvement with proscribed development, procurement, and exchange of nuclear technology. (They have not all knowingly shared all around, but they have all participated in surreptitious and clandestine exchanges with outlaw suppliers, in which cross-traffic is extremely difficult to monitor or control.)

Meanwhile Iraq was throughout the 90’s consistently resisting monitoring of its activities, to the extent of transporting U.N. inspectors to wrong locations, refusing on occasion to allow them into the country, and actually threatening and intimidating the teams. Finally, in the last months before the long-threatened invasion, photos show vast convoys of trucks loading and carrying away equipment and materials from suspected weapons facilities in Iraq, across the border into Syria. Later in 2004, Syrian troops were assisting the Muslim government of Khartoum to massacre black African civilians in Darfur by use of chemical weapons, presumably acquired from Iraq in the pre-war transfer.

In a situation where an acknowledged Mass Murderer, Tyrant, and Liar has demonstrated repeatedly a willingness to violate restrictions, resist constraints, and circumvent inspections, only a naive bumpkin would assume Saddam, or any assessment by inspectors under such conditions, could be trusted. Saddam had for more than a decade been violating the terms of the armistice that halted hostilities after his 1991 invasion. Many wars have been declared in response to far less provocation than — to mention just ONE outrageous item — the hundreds of missiles Iraq fired at aircraft enforcing the United Nations “no-fly” zone. The simple fact is that Saddam NEVER lived up to the terms of the Armistice. There should be no question as to the right of the original coalition to emphatically and with extreme prejudice, put an end to his regime.

So, Todd Johnston is right in one sense: 500 tons of yellowcake kept in sealed barrels is inoccuous. But the British intelligence that Saddam’s agents were attempting to procure MORE, in addition to the 500 tons presumably safely under IAEA seal, stands. It has not been disproven. The point is that the attempt to locate further supplies confirms the continuing surreptitious efforts to pursue the development of nuclear capacity.

But so what if the known 500 tons of yellowcake remained under seal? Saddam was happy to show THAT to the inspectors, since as long as the inspectors announced to the waiting journalists that the seals remained intact, the defenders of Saddam would say, “SEE!? We told you he’s entirely innocent!”

But you have to realize, you don’t need a critical mass of fissionable U235 to create a terror weapon. In the 1980’s two noteworthy incidents occurred in which scavengers broke open the business-end of an abandoned and un-guarded medical radiotherapy unit. In Brazil, this contaminated an entire neighborhood, requiring hospitalization for scores of victims, and the institution of long-term follow-up exams for hundreds of neighbors and playmates for decades to come. In Mexico, several of the scavengers and family members died of radiation poisoning, and dozens were affected. After watching the U.S. Senators and Congressional Representatives decamp when a single letter with anthrax spores was found in one mail delivery, try to imagine the chaos that would result in a major metropolitan area, if a dirty bomb were detonated. It wouldn’t matter that the radiation exposure were no more than a few chest X-rays; people would be extremely reluctant to return.

I reject the left’s definition that Bush led us into war on false premises. We have been continuously at war with Iraq since 1991. President Clinton sent U.S. military forces to attack Iraq, and near enough to threaten attack, on at least ten different occasions in his presidency to persuade Saddam to adhere to the conditions of the armistice. The Left wants me to believe that Saddam was never any threat to U.S. or international security. They also want me to forget that Bill Clinton, Al Gore, and his secretary of State Madeleine Albright, on many occasions each said the exact opposite — publicly advocating the removal of Saddam’s regime as a threat to American and international security, because of the WDM, his open support of terrorism, and unrepentant bellicosity.

The doctrinaire criticism of Bush for doing precisely the same things that drew their praise when done by Clinton is powerful evidence that the current frantic demonization of Scooter Libby and Karl Rove is nothing but a contrived partisan smear. And this from people who for decades have worked tirelessly to frustrate, demoralize, and enfeeble the CIA. I have to take the position that two years should be sufficient time to figure out whether the Intelligence Identities Protection Act of 1982 in fact applies to the case involving Valerie Plame. If it does apply— if the divulging of her status is a prosecutable crime — AND if it is known who revealed this, there should be an indictment on that charge.

If “outing” Valerie Plame does not qualify as a prosecutable crime, we need to know why was a special prosecutor established? Why was a Grand Jury empaneled? Why was anyone compelled to give testimony under oath for an act the prosecutor - after two full years of investigation - cannot show to have been a prosecutable offense?

I’m not saying this because I admire Bush and want bad things to happen to Valerie Plame. I have had to go through clearance interviews and background checks myself to get security clearance in the past, and I take the responsibility very seriously, certainly far more seriously than did Sandy Berger, whose outrageous crimes against this country have been so famously ignored in all this.

But in the wider context of protecting this country from the people who are determined to do us harm, I choose Bush, who is the only one in the pack of would-be-leaders who seems to have a clue about addressing both the immediate and the long-term problem of Islamic Terrorism.

I am sick to death of hearing people talk about how much Arabs dislike and hate us. The Arabs that hate us have been hating anyone outside their closed society for fourteen centuries. The ONLY way to make them like us is to either submit to their will or drop dead.

We in America suffer from a self-imposed delusion, or profound distortion of reality, that results from our long insulation and protection from the turmoils of the rest of the world, the incredible abundance of this continent, and the iconoclastic creativity of a population of people willing to decamp from the societies that were stifling them. This is obviously not any new insight. The continuing tragedy is that so many Americans fail to keep this in mind, and continue to evaluate the world without considering how profoundly alien our experiences are from theirs.

For instance, in the Great Patriotic War (WWII) Russians lost at least twenty MILLIONS of their civilians from fighting, disease, starvation, massacres, etc. American military personnel killed totalled only about half a million, only ONE FORTIETH of Soviet deaths. Wait! Stalin executed and starved more than six times that many Soviet civilians in the twenties and thirties just imposing agricultural collectivization on the Ukraine! Long before the “Cold War” Soviet leaders had seen that a few million deaths could be readily absorbed by a totalitarian regime, without derailing national goals or will. To Americans, figures like that convey a sense of the end of the world.

How many of us are content to spend our evenings sitting in air-conditioned comfort, munching on micro-waved treats as we watch mindless sit-coms? (Hey! I’m one!) When Gramma’s cancer becomes unbearably painful, we have become accustomed (growing hospice movement notwithstanding) to removing Gramma to die in hospital, so as not to upset the children. Ditto for the family pets. As more we persist in such antiseptic attitudes, so more estranged we become from the experiences of people in Third-World countries, where Gramma suffers, cries out and is cared for or ignored right in the midst of the one-room hovel shared by the extended family and the pigs, goats, dogs, and chickens.

This is similar to the lowered resistance to childhood diseases found in kids raised in households that over-use antibiotics and antiseptic cleansers. When some new pathogen comes along, bred in the septic conditions which third-world citizens endure daily, we are poorly-prepared to resist. When Islamic zealots come forth equally disposed to saw the necks of Al Franken and Rush Limbaugh, Michael Moore and Charlton Heston, Jerry Fallwell and Hugh Hefner, we are paralyzed by our preoccupation with perfect procedure. While we’re arguing over which law to quote in the indictment, which court should have jurisdiction, and which researchers should be awarded grants to describe how Corporate Greed and Conservative bigotry are actually at fault, the victims heads have already been removed, and their spilt lifeblood feeds the flies.

We are too busy magnifying our differences to notice that a Demon has entered the room who doesn’t give a sh*t about whether you embrace diversity or oppose gay marriage.

The Demon wants to kill everybody it can’t enslave.

[Most Muslims living in America have chosen to immigrate rather than remain in the societies where they were born. Later generations of Muslims have chosen to stay in this country rather than return to the lands their parents fled. This suggests that their faith is tempered and moderated with a sense that individuals are accountable to GOD, not some fanatical Imam, and a confidence that a secular society like ours will protect them and guarantee the sanctity of their families and property more than Sharia did in the cultures they fled. In contrast, the tiny population of homicidally vicious Muslims to be found in America seem demonstrably to consist of militant converts recruited from prisons where they were serving sentence for violent crimes, or the Muslim fanatics engaged in that recruitment throughout the world.]

To get a handle on the conflict in which we are presently embroiled, you have to consider the history of Islam, particularly the militant zealotry that has been a part of it since its genesis.

Islamofascist terrorism is not truly a modern phenomenon. There are conflicts and hatreds that have erupted and continued with only lulls and breathers for thousands of years before Catholic Europe, Capitalism, or America appeared on the scene. Islamic zealots had been slaughtering their opponents for centuries before the British Isles were fully Christian. In the middle east where Christianity originated, Muslim armies moving into the territories we now call Egypt, Iran, Syria, Lebanon, et al, encountered communities composed primarily of Christians and Jews going about their business as they had for centuries. In almost every region in which Islam shares the territory with other religions, it seems to be in bloody conflict, as the militant factions attempt to impose Islam on those outside the faith. For all the protestations that it is a religion of peace, the evidence is is mixed.

The Prophet Mohammed during his life captained military assaults on villages and populations that opposed him, and approved the summary execution of captives and assassinations of critics and opponents. In the first decade after his death, the leadership of his new militant faith changed hands several times as one aspirant murdered his predecessor and took his place. In the first century after his death, Islam had been imposed on a vast swath of territory outward from the Arabian Peninsula, north, south, west and east, by ruthless military onslaught. Islam has been in bloody conflict with the people it encounters as it has expanded since the seventh century. (Some of my readers will point out that I’m repeating this history. Of course, I am. And I will continue to reiterate it. People need to be reminded of this.)

Islamic fanatics are currently engaged in blowing up, slaughtering and brutalizing Hindus in India, Bengladesh and Pakistan. This past week they beheaded adolescent Christian schoolgirls in Indonesia and truck-bombed international journalists in their Baghdad conclaves. They elsewhere continue to murder Buddhists and Christians in Malaya and the Philippines, Black African animists and Christians in Darfur, tourists and bystanders of all faiths in Bali, Egypt, and Turkey, hapless Londoners on their way to their jobs, Russian schoolchildren in Chechnya, progressive liberals in the Netherlands, and coreligionist Muslims in Africa, North America, Asia, the nations of the former Soviet Union, and, well, just about every country on the globe.

No, the murderous zealots are nothing new. What is a new thing under the sun is the self-loathing decadent psuedo-intellectual who accepts without critical examination the Marxist-Leninist indictment of Capitalism and Western Judeo-Christian civilization. Humans have exploited and tormented each other throughout history; Many of these turn to a “Trans-nationalist” or “One-World” solution, thinking that if only we had a unified government for the entire world, we could all just get along...

The nearest thing to a trans-national governing body is the United Nations. Okay, skim through the Final Volcker Report on the Oil-For-Food scandal, and picture those highly-cultured diplomats and bureaucrats of the United Nations administering YOUR life.

I recommend keeping a full bottle of single malt close at hand to steady your nerves.


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