State-Run Media Caught With Pants Down

So the other day, AP ran one of those “Eek! Iran Is Just About to Nuke US!” stories.  It included, as such stories are wont to do, a scary sciency graphy graph with stuff in Arabic at the bottom to give the reader that illusion of Knowing What’s Going On that the media love to do as they flatter us  into getting ginned up about doing something stupid:

AP exclusive

In this case, the Something Stupid this story is calculated to stampede us toward is War With Iran.

It’s important to return to the story about AP’s nuclear Iran “exclusive” which I wrote about yesterday. Although it was intuitively obvious that the graph trumpeted by AP as scary and incriminating of Iran’s nuclear program was actually a farce, there is now new, overwhelming, very compelling scientific evidence that is the case. Whether as victim or recklessly culpable participant, AP helped perpetrate a dangerous hoax, and owes an explanation and accounting for what took place, including identifying the “officials from a country critical of Iran’s atomic program” who made false claims about what this is.

To begin with, the graph AP touted as reflecting some sort of nefarious, highly threatening and complex nuclear calculation is, in fact, widely available all over the Internet in the most innocuous places. Just consider this side-by-side comparison of the AP graph on the left, with the graph on the right on this harmless site designed to teach beginner users how to use Microsoft Excel:

iran apAt the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists (BAS), Yousaf Butt and Ferenc Dalnoki-Veress on Wednesday night wrote: “Graphs such as the one published by the Associated Press can be found in nuclear science textbooks and on the Internet.” Similarly, Prof. Muhammad Sahimi, a professor of chemical engineering at USC and expert in Iran’s nuclear program, told Richard Silverstein of Tikun Olum that “too many graphs like this can be generated by a competent undergraduate student.” So what AP presented to the world as some sort of highly complex, specialized document was, in fact, nothing more than a completely common graph easily found in all sorts of public venues.

Even worse, the calculations reflected on this graph are patently ridiculous. Butt and Dalnoki-Veress document that the graph “does nothing more than indicate either slipshod analysis or an amateurish hoax” [emphasis added]. That’s because, they explain, “the diagram features quite a massive error, which is unlikely to have been made by research scientists working at a national level”; namely:

“The image released to the Associated Press shows two curves: one that plots the energy versus time, and another that plots the power output versus time, presumably from a fission device. But these two curves do not correspond: If the energy curve is correct, then the peak power should be much lower – around 300 million ( 3×108) kt per second, instead of the currently stated 17 trillion (1.7 x1013) kt per second. As is, the diagram features a nearly million-fold error.”

This error is patently obvious to anyone versed in nuclear physics. Nima Shirazi yesterday spoke with Dr. M. Hossein Partovi, who teaches courses in thermodynamics and quantum mechanics at Sacramento State, and he echoed the BAS scientists:

“[Dr. Partovi], noting that the graph is plotted in microseconds, explains that ‘the graph depicted in the report is a nonspecific power/energy plot that is primarily evidence of the incompetence of those who forged it: a quick look at the energy graph shows that the total energy is more than four orders of magnitude (forty thousand times) smaller than the total integrated power that it must equal!’”

Notably, the nuclear expert quoted by AP in its article, David Albright, also seemed to be trying to tell AP that the graph contained this same obvious, glaring error, yet AP – eager to believe, or at least lead others to believe, that it had some incriminating evidence – either failed or refused to understand its significance. Buried in the AP article was this passage:

“‘The yield is too big,’ Albright said, noting that North Korea’s first tests of a nuclear weapon were only a few kilotons.”

But AP never indicated that this error strongly suggested that no real nuclear scientist would have prepared it, and immediately went back in the very next paragraph to touting the document as some sort of scary evidence of Iran’s threatening nuclear weapons machinations.

Then there’s the obvious crudeness of the graph itself, which I noted yesterday. Professor Sahimi told Silverstein: “The graph itself looks low quality, as if it has been drawn by hand.” And the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists authors noted the same thing: “the level of scientific sophistication needed to produce such a graph corresponds to that typically found in graduate- or advanced undergraduate-level nuclear physics courses.” Indeed, they added: “no secrets are needed to produce the plot of the explosive force of a nuclear weapon – just straightforward nuclear physics” [emphasis in original]. They continued:

“Though the image does not imply that computer simulations were actually run, even if they were, this is the type of project a student could present in a nuclear-science course. The diagram simply shows that the bulk of the nuclear fission yield is produced in a short, 0.1 microsecond, pulse. Since the 1950s, it has been standard knowledge that, in a fission device, the last few generations of neutron multiplication yield the bulk of the energy output. It is neither a secret, nor indicative of a nuclear weapons program.”

It is, to put it as generously as possibly, completely reckless for AP to present this primitive, error-strewn, thoroughly common graph as secret, powerful evidence of Iran’s work toward building a nuclear weapon. Yet from its inflammatory red headline (“AP EXCLUSIVE: GRAPH SUGGESTS IRAN WORKING ON BOMB”) to the end of the article, this is exactly what AP did. And it did so by mindlessly repeating the script handed to it by a country which AP acknowledged is seeking to warn the world about the dangers of Iran. This is worse than stenography journalism. It is AP allowing itself, eagerly and gratefully, to be used to put its stamp of credibility on a ridiculous though destructive hoax.

The obligation of journalists to protect the identity of their sources to whom they have pledged anonymity ends when the “sources” use them purposely to disseminate falsehoods. Indeed, the obligation to protect these sources not only ends, but a different obligation arises: to tell the public who fed them the hoax. This was exactly the issue that arose when it became clear that multiple sources had falsely told ABC News’ Brian Ross in late 2001 that government tests had linked the anthrax attacks in the US to Saddam’s chemical weapons program, a story that Ross spread far and wide – thus, as intended, heightening fears of Iraq, but which turned out to be completely false from start to finish. As numerous journalists argued then, Ross had the obligation to tell the public who was behind the hoax he so damagingly spread.

AP has that same obligation here. At the very least, they have the duty to respond to this scientific and documentary proof that the graph they trumpeted, and certainly the claims they made about it, are misleading in the extreme. On Wednesday afternoon, I asked AP to comment on these issues and have thus far received no response.

As both Shirazi and John Glaser document, the AP writer responsible for this absurdity, George Jahn, has a history of similar behavior. That includes producing an equally hyped and equally absurd report back in May featuring a cartoon-like drawing that, as Jahn put it, “was provided to The Associated Press by an official of a country tracking Iran’s nuclear program who said it proves the structure exists, despite Tehran’s refusal to acknowledge it.”

As the Iraq War proved, there are few things more irresponsible and dangerous than having a large media outlet trumpet extremely dubious claims from anonymous sources designed to hype the threats posed by some targeted foreign regime. That is exactly what AP is doing here, and given how obvious the sham is, it is inexcusable. AP owes a clear explanation of what happened here.

The real story here is not this inane graph, but the behavior of AP and its “sources”. That someone is purposely feeding this influential media outlet obvious hoaxes shows two facts: (1) the evidence of Iran’s nuclear weapons program must be very thin if fabrications of this type are needed; and (2) someone from an unnamed country or countries is very eager to scare the public into believing this weapons program exists and is vigorously proceeding, and is willing to use fraud to advance those fear-mongering ends.

UPDATE

Here, in its entirety, is the response sent by AP to all of the objections raised to its story:

“We continue to report this story.”

It’s hard to decide which is worse: the original story or their “response” to the very serious flaws in their reporting.

Having been stampeded by lies into a stupid and disastrous war in Iraq, I think that being stampeded by lies into a stupid and disastrous war with Iran would make me feel extra silly.  Why, when I fetch up with those thousands and thousands of Iraqi dead at the Pearly Gates, I’m going to be positively blushing if they look at me and ask, “Did you actually approve the swift dismemberment of Iranian children by bombs and drones on the basis of these transparent lies even *after* you realized what a sucker job your leaders and media did on you with our country?  Fool you once, shame on them.  Fool you twice….”

  • rachel

    hmm, it makes me wonder if they just lifted this graph from an Arabic language nuclear physics textbook?? I wouldn’t be surprised if they did.

  • Timbot2000

    Farsi….not Arabic..Iranians are not arabs

    • JL

      Beat me to it!

      I’m sure Mark knows this, just an easy and understandable mix-up. After all, Farsi is written using the Arabic script.

    • rachel

      yeah, I know that but then again the AP probably doesn’t care and I wouldn’t put it past them to show a picture from an Arabic language textbook and pass it off as Iranian.

  • http://davidgriffey.blogspot.com/ Dave G.

    It seems I’ve seen folks say that even if something is wrong, like using forged documents, it doesn’t mean the case isn’t valid. Still, though I don’t usually put much faith in the AP, it isn’t as if this is the only case that has been made that there might be something to worry about. And it seems there could be some solutions between ‘It’s all a Vast Anti-Iranian American Imperialist Conspiracy’ on one hand, and ‘To War! To War!’ on the other. That would, to me, be the best way to work the problem – make sure Iran doesn’t obtain a nuclear device without going to war.

    • Hezekiah Garrett

      Any weapon is safer in the hands of a stable, millenia-o;d nation and culture, especially one with a tradition of deep reflection, rather than in the hands of a relatively infantile nation founded entirely in revolutionary ideology.

      Maybe someone ought to stop Iran, but the nation with ‘nuclear-bomb-blood-of-innocents-on-its-hands’ folk probably shouldn’t be the ones doing it. The sheer hubris of such a group claiming to be doing so in the interests of peace is sickeningly laughable.

      • http://davidgriffey.blogspot.com/ Dave G.

        I suggest going and living in Iran then. Apparently a far more peaceful and balanced society.

        • Melanie

          When was the last time Iran attacked another country? When was the last time Iran dropped a nuclear bomb on another country? Compare that to the track record of the U.S. and I would say they look pretty darn peaceful.

          • http://davidgriffey.blogspot.com/ Dave G.

            Again Melanie, I’m more than happy to concede America is the worst country in history. But since Iran’s so great and we’re just so damn bad, why not move there?

            • Melanie

              I’m not sure we’re the worst country in history, but we might be. Just give us time. We’re definitely an empire at this point – a desperate and bankrupt one – and hurtling toward a fascist, closed society.

              I wouldn’t move to Iran for a lot of reasons that have nothing to do with the topic at hand. (That topic, by the way, is their supposed pursuit of nukes and warring ways that have no basis in fact. It takes only a few seconds of research to discover it was never said they would “wipe Israel off the face of the earth” but that wouldn’t be as much fun as believing they said it, right?)

              Though I would not move to Iran (especially now that the U.S. will probably pummel it like Iraq), I will tell you that I’m writing this comment from Latin America and not from the U.S. ;)

    • ivan_the_mad

      You’re displaying more than your usual ingenuity in missing the point.

      • http://davidgriffey.blogspot.com/ Dave G.

        Explain how I missed the point.

  • http://industrialblog.powerblogs.com IB Bill

    Not addressing the goofed article …

    Just a general sense I have of history/how things work. There’s sort of a reversal effect. Too eager to fight WWI, not eager enough to confront Hitler in WWII. We were too eager on Iraq, so we let Iran slide, but we should have confronted Iran, not Iraq. It’s sort of like one when someone gets walked over in a relationship and the next one they are too aggressive, or vice versa.

    Not that there any good options for us. And in any case, the window of opportunity for confronting Iran has passed.

    The peace protesters assured that Iraq would drag on and on and be political poison. And they had a partial point — the War on Terror was fatally flawed strategically — it was neo-colonialism with no end game. Thus, Iran gets the bomb, instead of being confronted next. Iran gives it to terrorists, and we’re all screwed. Our only hope is that Iran doesn’t give the bomb to terrorists like Hezbollah.

    A united front as a nation during the initial stages of the war on “terror” might at least have given us a chance at cleaning out the terrorist nests across the Middle East. We did have initial success in Lebanon and flipped Gaddafi based on our early wins in Iraq and Afghanistan. But it was more important to win political points and attack the GOP, so we couldn’t even win the battle at home. Plus, the GOP, as I said, had a fatally flawed strategy. So we’re going to have a nuclear Iran. Let’s hope we can contain it.

    BTW, the best of bad options was to kick the Taliban out, and go home, saying we’d be back if they allow their country to be used as a base against us. The answer was to dig Saddam Hussein out of his hole in the ground and go home, and say, we’ll be back if there is any more trouble. Instead, we tried to remake the world, and it remade us.

    • kenneth

      “Instead, we tried to remake the world, and it remade us.”………..
      That is the lesson that every nation inflicted with the psychotic delusion of empire always learns, and they always learn it the hard way. History reveals a 100% failure rate in this sort of thinking over thousands of years, but every last imperial strategist is sure they’re going to be the one to beat the curve. ALL of our problems in the Middle East are the result of neo-colonialism with no end game. We made Iran what it is today by supporting a fantastically corrupt and brutal regime which gave radical Islamist ideology the perfect conditions to thrive.

      We made Saddam Hussein what he was, because he seemed a convenient hedge to the Iranians. We gave him access to WMD technology for the same reason. When he got to be more trouble than he was worth, we had a handy pretext to oust him, leaving Iraqis with a shattered country and thousands of American casualties who suffered and died for absolutely nothing other than the ersatz manhood of chickenhawk politicians. In an extra twist of irony, Iraq is now a client state of Iran. Our invasion of Iraq and our policy of pre-emptive war as a primary tool of statecraft ensured that Iran will become a nuclear state. They would be fools not to. We helped create the Taliban along with our “ally” Pakistan, who found them to be a convenient thug force to counter India and the Soviets. We figured that since they accepted our weapons to kill Russians that they must be “pro-Western.”

      After grinding our military down to the nub there, the Taliban is still there, just not staying in the presidential palace. We installed some heroin brokers there, who preside over a country with zero infrastructure and no viable systems of long term governance. Now the neo-cons and Israelis are playing the WMD tune again with the complicity of the media. This time it’s Iran, and of course, this time we’ll nail it.

  • Kirt Higdon

    As usual, many of these comments simply assume that Iran is trying to make a nuclear bomb – this despite the fact that Iran’s religious leaders have declared nuclear weapons to be gravely evil and anti-Islamic and the fact that the US intelligence estimates say there is no evidence that Iran is trying to make a bomb. The maximum risk now, however, is probably not an all-out war against Iran. It’s the continued imposition and gradual tightening of sanctions which are already killing Iranians, especially children and the sick, by depriving them of needed medicine. Perhaps the sanctions will eventually starve hundreds of thousands of Iranians to death such as the sanctions against Iraq did to Iraqis before the war. The sanctions against Iraq were condemned by Blessed John-Paul II for their cruelty, but US Secretary of State Madeline Albright said they were worth it. I’m sure Hillary Clinton and Susan Rice will deem the murder of Iranians by sanctions to be worth it in terms of preventing Iran from making a nuclear bomb that it’s not trying to make in the first place.

    • ivan_the_mad

      Uncommonly common sense on the subject!

    • http://ohnimus.wordpress.com Christian Ohnimus

      *applause* this is the kind of reasonable, Catholic response that is needed on this subject.

    • http://davidgriffey.blogspot.com/ Dave G.

      Fair enough. But what do we do to prevent it from happening, just in case there is a chance that Iran may actually be up to something? I mean, just assume. What do we do to prevent it, since I’m a little squeamish about saying that if they do get a weapon and detonate it, then and only then I’m willing to concede the point? And I’m willing to say it’s all our fault. We screwed up. We made them what they are. If it hadn’t been for the US, there wouldn’t be sin in the Middle East. OK. But pretending that it’s all because of us that Iran could possibly, just possibly get a nuclear device and hand it over to terrorists (who only do bad because we made them bad, mind you), what do we do to prevent it? Sanctions are obviously out. War is out. We can’t just start flying drones in and killing people. And we know from history that as much as we might like to think otherwise, diplomacy doesn’t always work. So again, since I don’t like the idea of waiting until we find out we might have been wrong (especially since if we are wrong, there is a huge chance my neighborhood won’t be in the cross hairs), given what that would mean, what else can countries actually do to prevent it from happening?

      • kenneth

        The looniness of Ahmadinejad notwithstanding, the real powers that be in Iran are like politicians everywhere. They don’t want martyrdom. They want to safeguard and perpetuate their own power. Giving away nukes to terrorists or any non-state actors in no way furthers those goals. It would, in fact, almost guarantee their deaths and the erasure of their entire nation and culture from the pages of history. Even North Korea, whose top leadership is probably certifiable insane, retain some base level of self-preservation instinct. They don’t want nuclear war. They want nuclear leverage.

        We have helped foster an atmosphere in the world in which nuclear capability is perceived as the only safe insurance to retain national sovereignty. We have communicated to Iran in word and deed that regime change is our minimum bid, or that we retain that option for use at any time. No regime on Earth will stand for that, not if they have the financial and technical reach to arm themselves against it. What do we do going forward? For starters, we can stop pushing nations toward the bomb. For Iran, it may be too late to stop. In that case, we’re left with deterrence and the threat of mutual destruction that has kept all other armed states in check.

        • http://davidgriffey.blogspot.com/ Dave G.

          Again Kenneth, I’m more than willing to concede that everything is our fault. But you make an interesting observation:

          “Giving away nukes to terrorists or any non-state actors in no way furthers those goals. It would, in fact, almost guarantee their deaths and the erasure of their entire nation and culture from the pages of history”

          What makes you say that? Why would a nation fear that turning over nuclear devices to terrorists would have any negative impact on them? I would say it’s depending on who the terrorists struck out against. But I’m not seeing anything in the last 10 years of international diplomacy that suggests there would automatically be dire consequences – again, depending on who the nukes were used against.

          • kenneth

            Israel’s entire nuclear program is based around the idea that the Jewish people will not go into extinction alone. If Israel perceived a true immanent existential threat from a loose bomb, they would start burning down anyone responsible. Nuclear weapons are just not the sort of thing any nation state is going to relinquish control of to some ragged mopes who they consider to be low-level thugs in their employ. Nations don’t even give their best technology to cherished allies.

            Iran is happy to give third-tier short range missles and other weapons of terror to Hezbollah, but there’s no upside to giving them a nuke. Iran would bear ALL of the responsibility and punishment while losing control of the asset. Once they hand it over to some gang, that bomb could wind up anywhere, including Iranian soil, wielded by some restive anti-regime minority group like Sunnis or Kurds, or an opposition political movement – anyone. Nuclear weapons are the keys to one’s kingdom. It’s entirely likely that Iran might sell know-how and some production machinery to another state actor they’re not supposed to, as North Korea did, but they’re not going to give an operable weapon to some guys living in a cave.

            • http://davidgriffey.blogspot.com/ Dave G.

              But one thing is very important here. Israel, and no doubt Iran, has noticed that when there is conflict with Israel, the burden of rage and anger falls on – Israel. Even in this latest conflict, that everyone had to admit was prompted by Hamas, the condemnations were along the line of “we must admit Israel was defending itself, but only because it caused the problems in the first place and it’s still Israel’s fault.’ All of this ignores that healthy portion of the Arabic Muslim world that wants an Israel-less Middle East, and won’t stop until they get it. Even to the point that when concessions to the Palestinians are too great, it prompts attacks by those fearful that Israel may be allowed to exist. This is on the minds of Israel, and I don’t blame them. That’s why I think that even if a nuclear device was detonated in, say, Tel Aviv, the immediate outrage would disintegrate into finger pointing, divisions, ‘told you sos’, and the same collapse of purpose that we witnessed a few weeks after 9/11. To think that places like Russia, China, or Iran haven’t noticed this trend would be the height of naivety.

  • Roberto

    This says a lot about the low level of mathematical education in general and for journalists in particular. Drawing a standard Gaussian distribution curve (a concept usually presented in junior or high school) with its cumulative ogive (at most first year university), and labeling it with some physics words should make people laugh, not scared.
    You can find this type of graph in high school books, let alone nuclear physics tomes! As for the units, a quick Google search should be enough to get the right ones and/or to detect the error here.

  • Kirt Higdon

    Any country which has completely mastered the fuel cycle can produce a nuclear bomb in six months or so if it really wants to. Such countries now include Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, South Korea, Taiwan, Brazil, Argentina, South Africa, Ukraine, and probably some others I’m forgetting. How do we prevent any of them from making a bomb? South Africa actually once had one or more but gave them up. How do we prevent Germany and Japan from making nuclear bombs and maybe getting some payback for WWII? Here’s a couple of suggestions. Restore normal diplomatic and trade relations with Iran, lift all sanctions and have the same kind of relations with Iran that we have with all these other countries which could make a bomb if they wanted to. And – now I’m really going to go out on a limb – set a good example by disarming the US of nuclear weapons. This should preferably be done in conjunction with Russia, the only other power with enough nukes to devastate the world. Also throw US diplomatic support behind Iran’s proposal to make the Middle East a nuclear free zone, a good first step toward world nuclear disarmament.

    • http://davidgriffey.blogspot.com/ Dave G.

      Those are fine suggestions. But what about the parts of the Middle East that simply want Israel gone, no matter what concessions are made? And what if these don’t work? As much as it’s the modern incarnation of American Exceptionalism to imagine that everything is America’s fault, there are still those who think evil is capable of existing even if America didn’t exist. My concern is that so many of these solutions piggyback on the notion so common in post-Boomer America: If we just slap America (and perhaps the former USSR) into shape, the rest of the world will just line up. I’ve not seen that. Your suggestions? Sure. Why not. I’m for getting rid of the nuclear arsenals. More open trade? Perhaps. But the possibility of nuclear weapons will exist from now on. The cultural differences are still there. When we have a nation known to sponsor terrorism, whose leadership openly has boasted of a post-Israeli world, I think some other measures also have to be put into place.

      • Melanie

        Sorry, but I don’t see how we’ve tried diplomacy yet with all the occupying, assassinating, nation-building, and bomb-dropping we do.

        Dave, read Robert Pape. Terrorism is more closely linked to foreign occupation than anything else.

        • http://davidgriffey.blogspot.com/ Dave G.

          I haven’t said we did try diplomacy, and well we should. I’m also well aware of the roots and origins of modern day Islamic terrorism. And as I said, I’m more than willing to concede it’s all our fault. But now, the cat’s out of the bag and what should we do about it? The solutions mentioned follow that modern US thinking that the world still turns on the American axis. We cause the sin and only we can end the sin. Again, the underside of American exceptionalism. But just in case there are other factors there that go well beyond anything we can do through repentance and penance on our part, what other things can we do to mitigate the possibility in case – just in case – Iran were to be pursuing a weapon to use on our ally Israel (its most likely target), or any nation where thousands of lives could be snuffed in an instant?

          • Melanie

            Dave, I’m sorry, but I don’t follow you. If you concede that our foreign policy is both immoral and the cause of “unintended consequences” (or as the CIA puts it, “blowback”) then why wouldn’t the solution be to change the foreign policy to one that is both moral and effective in promoting peace (at least with our own country). It seems like you’re saying it’s too late to do the right thing so we must keep doing the wrong, immoral and ineffective thing in case some very unrealistic other bad thing happens that our immoral and proven ineffective actions could have prevented. I don’t get the logic.

            • http://davidgriffey.blogspot.com/ Dave G.

              Because I am being facetious when I say everything we did was wrong and it’s all our fault. Not that we were all right, or ever right for that matter. But to think the problems all rotate around us, and only with us will there be a solution, is simply the post-Boomer manifestation of American Exceptionalism. To be honest, the problems there have roots centuries old, and involve many factors in place long before Christopher Columbus decided to be someone. Sure, American policy, when failed, no doubt adds to the problems, and certain issues may trace themselves back to this or that one policy decision on the US’s part. But like anything, even if you get rid of the ages old causes of some of the problems, by now things have taken on a life of their own. Like it or no, whether the state of Israel should have been formed or not, there is a healthy portion of the Arab Islamic world that wants it out of there, and no amount of back bending on our part will change that. This is because, even if America never existed, there can still be sin and evil in the world, and even if Israel surpassed the seventh heaven in righteousness, that evil and hate may well continue. Ignoring that is like a doctor ignoring diabetes as a potential cause of constant thirst because he’s convinced that over activity is the only problem. That’s my point.

              • kenneth

                The problem is much more fundamental than moral or immoral or who’s “the good guy.” On a purely practical level, as Dr. Phil might say “how’s it working for you?” Almost all of our policy decisions in the Middle East, even when done with good intentions against evil men, have been stupid, short sighted and self-defeating. They have been grounded in imperial hubris which says “we don’t need to acknowledge complexity or tread lightly or hew to reality. We’re Americans, by God, and our drones talk for us. ”

                Every time belligerent threats and violence fails, we assume the solution is more and better belligerence and more clever technology. We can’t stop “the war on terror” so long as there are angry Muslims in the world, but we’re manufacturing new ones around the clock.

                Yes, there is a lot of Arab resentment and even genocidal instinct vis a vis Israel. However, Israel’s own actions, and our unquestioning acceptance of them, have completely sucked the oxygen out of the forces of moderation who would offer real peace terms for realistic terms.

                • http://davidgriffey.blogspot.com/ Dave G.

                  And all that’s fine and dandy. But it doesn’t deal with the fact that in light of these problems (whether they existed for centuries, were caused by America, or a combination thereof), no matter what we do, there is a chance – chance mind you – that Iran may be completely capable of evil on its own, that its people may actually stand idly by in the event of an unprovoked attack, and that the rest of the Middle East may approach Iran and call for some form of compensation or change on Iran’s part, but that may be about it. Then what? With even a slipshod nuclear device, we’re talking thousands upon thousand killed, tens of thousands more perhaps wounded beyond recovery. That’s an awful price for those people over there to pay in the off chance that the notion that since we screwed it up can fix it, turns out to be itself an extension of good old American hubris.

                  • Kirt Higdon

                    There’s a chance and not a small one that Israel may initiate a nuclear war on its own – a much greater chance that Israel will do so than will Iran, given that Israel has hundreds of nuclear weapons and Iran has none. Given there’s a chance – a chance mind you – that Israel may initiate a nuclear war, what do you propose US do about it? Perhaps stop arming Israel to the teeth and supporting it diplomatically at every turn? Or does US obligation extend only to overthrowing governments and killing leaders and ordinary people in countries which do not have nuclear weapons – or for that matter a powerful lobby in Washington?