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Comment: Re:Iran is not trying to save money (Score 1) 343 343

Don't get me wrong. The mullahs are no saints. The Iranian regime is tyrannical and brutal.

You're sure you're not trying to hard to be reasonable and balanced?

The Iranian regime does not look all that tyrannical to me if you compare to the neighborhood, but then I also think they never had a nuclear weapons program, so that may be a bit too much to swallow for reasonable people, especially if you take in account the rough neighborhood they're in.

Comment: Two layers of propaganda (Score 2, Interesting) 157 157

It's useful to keep in mind there's two layers to the Snowden-betrayal array of claims.
- There's the claims that he did damage.
- there's the underlaying claim that this proves that he did wrong.

In fact whenever a whistleblower comes out, there will be some damage in some areas. The same applies to journalism. Whenever you expose wrongdoings or questionable practices from those in charge it can be argued this helps the enemy, even if only by tarring the image of the government. But I think the main point is, it should be considered an acceptable cost of transparency of governance. Transparency has been embedded in the US constitution 200 years ago for a reason. Mostly, those accusing Snowden don't understand that reason, or see no reason to bother with it. Transparency means that to some extent the governing still represent the governed(although you need to close the feedbackloop to really achieve that).

So yes, I think the claims that Snowden damaged the US foreign policy are wildly out of proportion, but I also think that as long as some precautions were taken to limit damage done, then it's acceptable. That should be the general attitude towards whistleblowers: that some damage due to disclosures is acceptable, worth it.

Comment: Translation (Score 3, Insightful) 122 122

Met Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe said: "If people imagine that we’ve got the resources to do as much intrusion as they worry about, I would reassure them that it’s impossible.”

In other words, "
If people think we're trying to screw them as much as possible with the limited resources we have, I would reassure them we are."

Comment: Re: Exodus (Score 1) 692 692

Joe Haldeman wrote a novel about it, The Long Habit of Living(renamed to Buying Time). One had life extension procedures that in principle allowed the rich to amass more wealth and power , making the wealth distribution more skewed. But then the the life extension procedure was made extremely expensive and short lasting, which in principle could redress the balance. As long as the foundation that handled it would take care of redistribution, because it became a huge concentrator of wealth. I liked that book. It was reworked into a graphic novel that reused the same themes in different ways.

Comment: Re:The no-WMD crowd was accidentally correct (Score 1) 270 270

Sure, things are more complicated than I'm claiming. But I was well aware of what was happening while it was going on. You're using as reference the most egregious cheerleader of the WMD campaign.

Do you think people currently care about Iranian WMD? Not only did they never exist, nobody even would care if they did.It's just an alibi. Of course you need to make a lot of noise about it to make the alibi work.

Comment: Re:An intelligence officer? Well he MUST be expert (Score 1) 270 270

Syria's defense was good enough to hurt a lot. Saudi Arabia doesn't care much about that because they're not attacking directly. They're avoiding open military conflict. The same with Turkey. The only ones actually openly attacking Syria is Israel, but even they are mostly working indirectly by supporting those inside.

Comment: Re:The no-WMD crowd was accidentally correct (Score 1) 270 270

I think the relation between your narrative and reality is very weak. WMD were not a driving force for the US invasion. They were merely the alibi. You've got the reasoning behind the alibi wrong, but even if you had it right it would already be missing the point. The 'doubt' there was left was only about a theoretical question. WMD or no WMD: then one shell of mustard gas proves the WMD thesis. But if the question had been 'significant WMD, enough to be militarily relevant' then there was no doubt. The bottom line is the US took Iraq because they could, and people went along with the alibi to save face.

Comment: Re:An intelligence officer? Well he MUST be expert (Score 1) 270 270

Assad did have a powerful military. That didn't stop the Saudis.But I agree, the whole WMD excuse was made into something important by people who knew very well that Iraq was almost defenseless. As Wolfowitz said in the runup to the war 'I could take Iraq with 10000 men'.(If I recall correctly). If Iraq had been strong everything would have been different.So it was important for Saddam to appear strong. I've heard claims that oh dear Saddam fooled us into thinking he had WMD. Bollocks.

Comment: The utter depravity of Saddam & Sons (Score 1) 270 270

I call bullshit. Sure, they were a nasty bunch but there's a lot of those around . Saddam himself was cruel but he also thought it was necessary to be so. As dictators go, he was relatively competent. That was maybe the main reason the US turned on him: too competent. Iraq had been developing itself very well and was becoming a bit too independent and too powerful.
The sadism of his eldest son was another matter.

Comment: Re:The no-WMD crowd was accidentally correct (Score 1) 270 270

By Judy Miller. Really. She's full-o-shit.

What all of the intelligence community understood was that whatever the WMD capacity was of Iraq, it was insignificant. That they were uncertain of Saddam's efforts or intents , that I can see. It's hard to prove a negative. But part of the effect of the propaganda effort was to change the question. "Saddam would like to have chemical weapons". "Saddam is trying to make them". "Saddam would make them if we normalize relations".

I think politicians on the other hand were often eager to be fooled. They were deliberately gullible because they often thought taking over Iraq was not such a bad idea. Because of a simple logic that removing something bad would make things better. Because they thought it a good idea to redesign the neighborhood. Because they didn't see any other way to end the blockade. Because being perceived as being fooled was preferable to being perceived as afraid to row against the current. Because they thought it was going to succeed and didn't want to be on the wrong side afterwards.

In practice what happens with propaganda is there is no real center anymore of people who really know what's going on. Everyone is just believing someone elses lies. The same is still going on about Iran.

Steve Jobs said two years ago that X is brain-damaged and it will be gone in two years. He was half right. -- Dennis Ritchie