Nuclear Tipping Point
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"Al Qaeda has been seeking nuclear weapons for 10 years" – the 9/11 Commission Report
What if they get a nuclear weapon?
We are at a nuclear tipping point and the actions being taken are not adequate to the dangers.
Nuclear Tipping Point is a conversation with four men intimately involved in American diplomacy and national security over the last four decades. Former Secretary of State George Shultz, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, former Secretary of Defense Bill Perry and former Senator Sam Nunn share the personal experiences that led them to write two Wall Street Journal op-eds, in support of a world free of nuclear weapons and the steps needed to get there. Their efforts have reframed the global debate on nuclear issues and, according to the New York Times, "sent waves through the global policy establishment."
"Nuclear weapons today present tremendous dangers, but also an historic opportunity. U.S. leadership will be required to take the world to the next stage — to a solid consensus for reversing reliance on nuclear weapons globally as a vital contribution to preventing their proliferation into potentially dangerous hands, and ultimately ending them as a threat to the world." From The Wall Street Journal Op-ed by George Shultz, William Perry, Henry Kissinger and Sam Nunn, January, 2007
The film is introduced by General Colin Powell, narrated by Michael Douglas and includes interviews with California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev. Nuclear Tipping Point was written and directed by Ben Goddard and produced by the Nuclear Security Project in an effort to raise awareness about nuclear threats and to help build support for the urgent actions needed to reduce nuclear dangers. It was produced with support from NTI’s Nuclear Security Project in cooperation with Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, with funding from the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Mr. and Mrs. Richard P. Anderson, Phineas Anderson and Stephen Stranahan.
For more information on the Nuclear Security Project, please visit www.nuclearsecurityproject.org.
If you want this documentary with better image quality and you have patience and plenty of disk space (2.31 GB needed), you can find the original DVD rip at Demonoid: http://www.demonoid.com/files/details/2176344/3100888/
I have taken the DVD rip from Demonoid and shrunk it with DVDshrink to 1,050 MB size and then converted it to mp4 format with Handbrake. The result is a single 290 MB mp4 file with quite passable image quality. The movie is 53 min long.
Apr 13, 2010, 23:58:43
Number of files
649d , 11h 32m 1s ago
Thank you for ripping and sharing this. I am looking forward to watching it.
This is not a crticism, just a tip. You might get better results by ripping the source directly to mp4 rather than first DVDShrinking it.
Apr 14 2010, 07:42 CEST
"Nuclear Tipping Point is a conversation with four men intimately involved in American diplomacy and national security over the last four decades. Former Secretary of State George Shultz, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, former Secretary of Defense Bill Perry and former Senator Sam Nunn share the personal experiences that led them to write two Wall Street Journal op-eds, in support of a world free of nuclear weapons and the steps needed to get there. Their efforts have reframed the global debate on nuclear issues and, according to the New York Times, "sent waves through the global policy establishment."
No offense, but any program in which American government officials like the ones listed above, who are all part of the bureaucracy and machinery of imperial operations that sanctions and implements American state violence, especially the likes of mass-murderers and war-criminals like Henry Kissinger, pontificate on threats of nuclear weapons, sounds like pure pro-American drivel and American state propaganda.
Not to mention there is the sheer chutzpah and gall of government officials of a country that has been the only one insane, barbaric and racist enough to use nuclear weapons, and that on a civilian population, and one with the biggest nuclear arsenal on the planet and one that continues to develop monstrous nuclear weapons, of blathering on about the dangers posed by nuclear weapons.
Apr 14 2010, 08:57 CEST
Just another thing to take away the attention of the real problem.
Al Qaeda is not the real problem on this planet but US/EU militarism is.
Apr 14 2010, 10:04 CEST
Thanks for your tip. I'm new to this game of compressing one of these ridiculously large DVD rips to a more reasonable size that doesn't clog up the internet. The original DVD rip at Demonoid (2.3 GB) had 4 VOB files, and when I tried Handbrake directly on the first segment, VTS_01_1.VOB, it only compressed that 23 min segment. It seems I would have wound up with 3 or 4 separate mp4 pieces. DVDshrink fused and compressed the separate pieces into one that I could then convert with Handbrake into mp4.
Handbrake is the only program I know of in Linux (which I'm running) that can convert DVD rips with VOB files into a single file in a format (mp4) that most media players in Windows, Linux and MacOS X can play. I'm surprised that the resulting quality (almost 10fold compression for this movie) is actually quite passable. If you can give me a tip on how best to convert one of these standard DVD rips with AUDIO and VIDEO folders and multiple VOB, BUP and IFO files in a single pass to a single avi or mp4 file in Linux, I'd appreciate that.
Re the criticism posted here: I would be horrified if a city like New York, Washington, London, Paris, Madrid or Mumbai, with millions of innocent people, gets wiped out in a terrorist attack with a loose nuke. Whatever you may think of the merit of the four individuals who are featured in this movie, they do have a lot of clout. Their two op-eds in the WSJ in 2007 and 2008 incited a debate that doubtlessly contributed to Obama's convening in Washington of the two-day summit on getting rid of all nukes that ended yesterday with some positive results. Let hope that this process rapidly gathers momentum and saves some of us from the fate of getting incinerated prematurely.
BTW, this DVD can also be obtained for free from: http://www.nucleartippingpoint.org/home.html
Apr 14 2010, 12:15 CEST
I haven't seen this piece, so don't know how good it is. But my natural response when I see names like Kissinger and the funding sources (Hoover, Carnegie etc) the piece has, is extreme scepticism. Just as the recent PR event has shown, the convention was basically another tool to put pressure on Iran.
I too would be horrified if nuclear weapons were used again, either by terrorists or state-terrorists. So surely the goal should be a world FREE of nuclear weapons, not a world where nuclear weapons are only possessed by the major powers.
It seems the US now wants to get other countries to store highly-enriched uranium and other left-over pieces of nuclear weapons and enrichment in the United States. I detest nuclear weapons, but in light of recent development where Russia is trying to create a deal where enrichment uranium is sent to Iran instead of them producing it themselves, this should have people's alarmbells going off.
A solution where the US have 'monopoly' on nuclear technology is hardly going to promote peace or energy security.
And as to Obama's 'vision' of a nuclear-free world: It is simply a lie. He has no such goal, whatsoever. Even this deal with Russia allows 1,550 nuclear weapons. Enough to destroy the world many, many times over. The reason they do this is simply due to costs. It's very costly to maintain 10,000+ nuclear warheads, some with ageing technology, so it makes sense to reduce it to more manageable numbers.
This has nothing - nothing - to do with removing nuclear weapons from the military's arsenal.
Just as a small token of evidence.. If the US were interested in a world free of nuclear weapons, why are they voting against UN resolutions trying to establish a nuclear weapons-free zone in the Middle East?
Apr 14 2010, 13:24 CEST
Thanks for the film and the comments.
I pretty much agree on the hypocricy. Didn't Obama just promise not to use nukes as a first strike weapons against non-nuclear states, of course except Iran. Others are still valid targets for a first strike. I wish Russia or China would be crazy enough to use similar language. lol
Sure it is important to try to make sure that they are not used and to try to limit the number and availability etc. But there is so much BS going on. One could do something other than help India or Israel to maintain and develope nuclear weapons.
Didn't mrs Clinton announce that 3 billion dollars is budgeted to modernize nuclear weapons while Obama was bullshitting about limiting the arsenal.
Apr 14 2010, 15:20 CEST
Haven't heard numbers, but that wouldn't surprise me. Same with the UK last year or so. Developing new NWs for the subs I think it was. This at the same time as pressure is brought upon Iran, who we have ZERO evidence is actually developing nuclear weapons. No wonder Ahmadinejad, as crazy as he is, says the West talks with two tongues.
Just imagine if Pakistan or China said something similar.
"We won't use nuclear weapons against other states, except India."
"We won't use nuclear weapons against others, except Hong Kong or Tibet."
Even if a cure for cancer and AIDS was developed tomorrow, the media outcry would smother it.
When the US says it, there is silence. Nobody even points out the dual standards, let alone problematizes it.
As mentioned I haven't seen this film, but a documentary that talks about nuclear issues that doesn't focus on this double standard is pretty much worthless in my opinion. It's the huge pink elephant in the middle of the room that nobody are allowed to talk about.
Apr 14 2010, 15:36 CEST
I can for example note that an organization Alyn Ware, winner of the 2009 Right Livelihood Award (an *actual* peace prize), is involved with are circulating a letter to garner support for getting US tactical nuclear weapons out of Europe.
Earlier they also wanted Obama to state the US would only use nuclear weapons as a deterrent, not a threat. Obama did not comply, still insisting on threatening other states with the use of nuclear weapons.
If Obama was serious about this, he should have no problem whatsoever with implementing such a policy. Sadly, as we have learned more frequently lately, Obama is a great speaker, but his policy is at least as bad as Bush's.
They both had a lot of goodwill to build on after 9/11 and the election victory, but both are wasting it away with wars and threats of war.
Apr 14 2010, 15:47 CEST
The idea that Obama's little nuclear summit was designed in any way to remove nuclear weapons, and especially American nuclear weapons, is of course laughable. It just isn't factually true, as Pangaea has elaborated on above.
Sadly, it also goes against everything we know about history, human nature and the operation and logic of power-systems: no power-system will voluntarily relinquish its power and advantages. So this isn't about being "anti-American": if any other country was in the same position as the US, i.e., the top-dog in international affairs and whose military technology and destructive capacity dwarfs all nations on the planet combined, I don't see it behaving any differently.
Secondly, it is important to understand that notwithstanding the PR exercise that was the Great Messiah Obama's nuclear summit and the treaty between Russia to reduce their nuclear stockpiles to a more cost-manageable level, this does not preclude the US from continuing to develop nuclear weapon technology, as it has done so continuously since first using nuclear weapons against Japan. Nor does it preclude the US from threatening to use nuclear weapons against countries like Iran as Americans do often with that disgusting, oft-repeated phrase "all options are on the table", which liberal Democrat Hillary Clinton - who is, might I add, another American State department official of the likes that seem to be in this wonderful "documentary" of yours - put her own spin on with her ghoulish utterance: "we will be able to totally obliterate" Iran.
See the piece below, for one example, on the long-held desire and plans by the American government to use bunker-busting "tactical nukes" on Iran. These are newer types of horrific nuclear weapons that the US has developed and which it was actually considering for use against Iran, and possibly still might be; and if not at the moment, I guarantee the next Republican adminstration will put that agenda back on on the table. The cute names like "bunker busters" and "tactical nukes" are propagandistic terms that are used to hide the fact that these are indeed nuclear weapons, and have all the destructive capacity and horrific results as any conventional nuclear weapon:
For a more humorous take on the America's hypocrisy, see this collage by IOZ:
Sorry, but the US let the nuclear genie out of the bottle when it decided to drop a nuclear bomb, not once but twice, and explicitly target civilians. It continues to behave belligerently by threatening countries like Iran with nuclear annihilation if they don't bow down and kiss the robes of the current Western Imperial power, i.e, itself. If American government officials in this propaganda piece blather on about nuclear proliferation and don't deal with these issues, this "documentary" is indeed worthless and serves as nothing more than American state propaganda.
Apr 14 2010, 16:58 CEST
I'd recommend you see the movie and read those WSJ op-eds and then mull the whole thing over.
It isn't just those four individuals with possibly tarnished reputations interviewed in the movie that are dedicating their lives to getting rid of nuclear weapons. Many other people have woken up to this threat that Obama rightly calls the gravest threat facing us all at this time. One example I just came across last week is Valery Plame who was outed by Cheney as an FBI operative (working there on nuclear non-proliferation) who is now working on this goal in a non-gov organisation.
Much of your argument revolves around the belief that nuclear weapons are desirable to own and are of some use to states. I don't think this belief is shared in high government policy circles anymore, at least not in the West. On the contrary, nuclear weapons are seen there as having become increasingly hazardous, as they might be launched by accident (we had many close calls already, and they are still on hair-trigger alert in the US and Russia) or they can find their way into terrorists' hands to whom the concept of deterrence simply doesn't apply anymore that was behind states having so many essentially unusable weapons.
The goal is indeed a world completely free of nuclear weapons and of the technology needed to highly enrich uranium for weapons, beyond the point necessary for making fuel for nuclear power plants. The deal offered by the US and Russia to other nations of providing the fuel needed by them for their nuclear power plants if they forego developing their own enrichment technology (which can easily be expanded to make weapons-grade plutonium) seems an eminently reasonable solution to me.
The deal that the US offered to the Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan of dismantling the nuclear weapons they inherited from the former Soviet Union and to buy up the fissible material in them to burn it up in Nevada and/or degrade it to fuel that could be used in US reactors also seems like an eminently reasonable step to get rid of nuclear material. The movie makes the point (not verified by me) that 16% (if I'm correct) of all the electricity used in the US that originates from nuclear power plants there, comes from fuel bought in this way from the Ukraine.
The US or Russia don't have a nuclear monopoly anymore, and they know full well that any desire to maintain such a thing will only lead to further proliferation. Today, nuclear materials are everywhere, often poorly secured. You can learn from the Internet how to build a bomb with it, and you can ship it anywhere in a container.
The fact is, nuclear nonproliferation is practically dead today, and one has to start somewhere to revitalize that objective and then gradually shrink all existing nuclear arsenals. This is actually what's being done, in stages, by the US and Russia, and it received a major boost yesterday, at the nuclear summit in Washington.
I don't think it's very intelligent to be cynical and raise the untenable argument that the real objective behind these initiatives is simply a desire by the US for continued superpower domination. If this attitude prevails and nothing is being done to reverse the spread of nuclear materials, you can be sure of catastrophe that will affect everyone.
I hate to agree with Kissinger but one of his comments in this movie gave me pause for thought because he really nailed it. I paraphrase: "There is a better than 50% likelihood that within the next 5 or 10 years a nuclear weapon will be used by terrorists. When that happens, the entire world will rush to secure nuclear materials. If that is so, then why don't we do it now before such a catastrophe occurs."
Personally I think, his is a generous estimate; we probably have less time than that. Perhaps Mumbai will be first, with Punjabi officers in the Pakistani army or ISI passing a nuclear device to their Punjabi Muslim brothers, nephews or uncles who are affiliated with Lashkar-e-Taiba (who were behind the horrific 2008 Mumbai attacks). Or Moscow getting hit with one of their own poorly secured devices, acquired by Chechnyans. Or New York, courtesy of Al Qaeda or the Taliban and their Pakistani sympathizers. What would be the consequences of this? Rank cynicism doesn't help here, it leads nowhere.
Apr 14 2010, 17:25 CEST
For the record, I want to say that this is not "my movie", as one of the posters here referred to it. I have nothing to do with this movie or the organization(s) that made it or supported it or promote it. I came across it on Demonoid two days ago, and I went through the trouble of reformatting it to make it easier to download because I think this issue is extremely important and something I've been worrying about for many years.
Regrettably, the tenor of the commentators here has been one of complete cynicism and whole scale rejection of the initiatives discussed in the movie. I find it impossible to believe that any intelligent person wouldn't agree that the issue of nuclear proliferation and nuclear terrorism is one of the most pressing of our times. Finally, something is being done to move in the right direction. Most of the commentators here talk as though we're still stuck in the Bush years.
If you agree on the urgency of these nuclear issues (including the danger of your own hometown, you included, getting nuked by non-rational terrorists), then what would YOU do to deal with it, other than taking the first steps that are actually being taken (read the final communique from this summit). Also, consider that you probably would not have gotten these initiatives from a McCain/Palin administration nor from any Republican administration potentially coming in in 2012. Let's be constructive, rather than cynical and blasting Obama for taking the first steps needed, as feeble as they are.
Apr 14 2010, 18:24 CEST
In both of your posts, you referred to "American Government Officials" making government propaganda pronouncements in this movie. None of the four main protagonists are currently government officials. They are private individuals, out of government, and they express their own private opinions. In fact, the only current government official shown in this movie who could be said to speak for the government is Obama who appears twice, for less than a minute at a time. That's hardly what I would call a Government propaganda film.
Apr 14 2010, 18:38 CEST
I fully agree with you it's a very important issue, and it's good something is finally being done. Leftover nukes from the Soviet era is indeed a big issue. As is nukes attached to US planes who happen to fly about here and there, and many other issues.
But you just can't be as gullible as you come across here. People have been government officials because they have supported state and corporate power throughout their whole lives. Technically some of these people aren't in government anymore, but their views have not changed, and some will surely be in government again in the (near) future.
The goal of these people and the government they (used to) represent is NOT a world free of nuclear weapons. If it is true as you claim that government, especially in the West, these days look disfavourable towards nuclear weapons, why do they keep on threatening other countries with their use?
That para-quote by Kissinger said nothing btw. He is known to be pretty strange in the head, and that quote doesn't exactly deflate the impression of a madman. It's simply something to scare people with. Government people often use that technique to force through whatever policy they want enforced.
Furthermore, if it was true that Russia and China wanted nuclear non-proliferation, full stop, they would ACT in trying to achieve this. This goal of 1,550 nuclear warheads will be the number for years, maybe decades, to come. They could have really stepped up to the plate, and shown the world where their money is, and proclaimed they would destroy ALL nuclear warheads, as is their obligation per the NPT. Instead they, especially the US, are trying to come across as some kind of peace-loving nuclear weapons hater, doing their best to achieve peace in the world, but coming up against the likes of Iran who just don't want peace.
The truth, as often, is the complete opposite.
Just to repeat: Yes, I agree NWs is a terrible threat and they should be removed. But we should also be very aware that this is NOT the goal of the major powers, they have been fighting it for decades, and acknowledge that this move have different goals and motivations than normal human beings would have. They are state managers, and their prime goal in life is to increase state power for the states they represent.
Apr 14 2010, 19:52 CEST
that's nitpicking. You know very well that these ex-government officials are part of the same American elite establishment as current government officials, and for all intents and purposes, continue to shill for the American state and amplify government propaganda, whether they're in government or out. They all share the same belief in Ameican Exceptionalism, and the belief in the right of America to dominate the world, militarily and otherwise. They share the same underlying assumptions about the "benevolence" of the American state and of policy planners, and share the same narrow spectrum of ideological doctrines. It's just ahistorical, ignorant, and shockingly naive to not understand this basic fact.
"Much of your argument revolves around the belief that nuclear weapons are desirable to own and are of some use to states. I don't think this belief is shared in high government policy circles anymore, at least not in the West."
This is just rubbish. Of course nuclear weapons are desirable by states. I don't see the West giving up its nuclear weapons in any meaning way. The West knows its nuclear weapons and scientific and technological ability are a source of power, and something to use to threaten countries that don't fall in line, e.g., Iran. The West has dominated world affairs for the last 500 years largely because it won the race to scientific and technological discovery, and then subsequently used that scientific and technlogical superiority to slaughter the "darkies" and conquer the rest of the world in bloody colonial conquest, clambering to the top perch in the hierarchy of world affairs, where the West remains, with the full intention of staying there by beating down any independent state that tries to achieve the same level of scientific and technological advances and that might threaten American and Western hegemony.
"The goal is indeed a world completely free of nuclear weapons and of the technology needed to highly enrich uranium for weapons, beyond the point necessary for making fuel for nuclear power plants. The deal offered by the US and Russia to other nations of providing the fuel needed by them for their nuclear power plants if they forego developing their own enrichment technology (which can easily be expanded to make weapons-grade plutonium) seems an eminently reasonable solution to me."
That's because you're some smug white Westerner living in the comfort and security of the West, and most likely, the US. There is nothing "eminently reasonable" about this solution. No Western state would ever accept such as arrangement if the tables were turned so why do you think countries like Iran should? It's giving up sovereignity and putting the security of your state in the hands of an outside state that doesn't share your interests and the welfare of your people. Why would any state agree to that? You're not the one getting threatened constantly by the US, as is Iran. You're not a state sitting in a region of the world, i.e, the Middle-East, that the West has geo-poltically dominated for at least the last century, and continues to do so, causing great death, destruction and slaughter as a result of geo-political manuevering, power-politics, military internventions, covert-ops, etc. It's just a way to prevent other states from developing the same knowledge and technological capability that nuclear-capable states already have, and a means to keep other states in a subordinate position, and allow the states who currently monopolize nuclear technology to cling to that monopoly, so that, I repeat, these states can then threaten to use nuclear first strikes against countries, e.g., Iran.
The US or Russia don't have a nuclear monopoly anymore, and they know full well that any desire to maintain such a thing will only lead to further proliferation.
There is no evidence whatsoever to support your claim that the US or Russia know their desire to maintain a nuclear monopoly will only lead to further proliferation. In fact, the evidence is quite the contrary as these states are donig precisely the opposite, which is to try to ensure only they, and favourable client states, e.g., Israel, India, etc, develop nuclear technology, while other states are denied the same rights.
"I don't think it's very intelligent to be cynical and raise the untenable argument that the real objective behind these initiatives is simply a desire by the US for continued superpower domination."
Actually, it's a very tenable, realistic argument based on the actual evidence and track record of the US, and based on how power works, and how imperial states behave. What is stupid, childish and naive is believing the US has somehow changed its spots just because Obama and the Democrats are in power for the moment. Or that imperial states are suddenly going to behave in a different way than they have always behaved in throughout history, which is always to continue their domination at all costs. The American goals of global dominance and hegemony and the belief by American elites in their God-given right to dominate the planet by military means and to slaughter hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of brown people in the pursuit of those goals are bipartisan. Again, it's just ahistorical, childish and naive to not understand that basic fact. It's not "cynical" but realistic to understand the essential continuity of American foreign policy and goals, notwithstanding certain stylistic changes and small differences between one political party versus the other.
"Perhaps Mumbai will be first, with Punjabi officers in the Pakistani army or ISI passing a nuclear device to their Punjabi Muslim brothers, nephews or uncles who are affiliated with Lashkar-e-Taiba (who were behind the horrific 2008 Mumbai attacks). Or Moscow getting hit with one of their own poorly secured devices, acquired by Chechnyans. Or New York, courtesy of Al Qaeda or the Taliban and their Pakistani sympathizers."
This is just fear-mongering. I won't speak about the Chechnyan case because I don't know exactly how secure or unsecure Russian nuclear weapons are, but every serious policy analyst I've read and heard from agrees that Pakistani nuclear weapons are incredibly secure, and that the Pakistani army is a secular institution, and a very professional, and capable army. The chances of "Pakistani sympathizers" or the Taliban getting access to Pakistani nuclear weapons is really miniscule. And Pakistan isn't stupid. They know India won't hesitate to nuke Pakistan if India ever suffers a nuclear attack that can be traced to Pakistan. The same logic applies to the stupid fear-mongering by American officials and the American establishment about Iran. Even if Iran did develop nuclear weapons, it would simply be used a deterrent against US and Israeli desire to attack their country. Iran is not stupid. Contrary to the propaganda, Iran's leaders are quite rational and savvy. They would never attack Israel.. at least, not be the ones to initiate an attack on Israel because they're well aware Israel possess nukes and won't hesitate to vapourize their country, as would Israel's God-father, the US.
"Regrettably, the tenor of the commentators here has been one of complete cynicism and whole scale rejection of the initiatives discussed in the movie. I find it impossible to believe that any intelligent person wouldn't agree that the issue of nuclear proliferation and nuclear terrorism is one of the most pressing of our times. Finally, something is being done to move in the right direction. Most of the commentators here talk as though we're still stuck in the Bush years. "
Again, not cynicism but realism, and an understanding of America's track-record and behaviour. I do agree that nuclear proliferation and nuclear terrorism is a pressing issue. I just think if the US was actually serious about nuclear proliferation it wouldn't for example.. be helping India to develop nuclear technology! Or allowing Israel to have a monopoly of nuclear weapons in the Middle-East, and helping to cover for Israel's barbaric treatment of the Palestinians. Or threatening Iran with nuclear first strikes and "obliteration".
As far as being "stuck in the Bush years", there is very little difference between Obama and Bush. You seem to be suffering from the deep delusion that Obama or the Democrats for that matter are substantially different from the Republicans and from Bush. Again, there is no evidence whatsoever to back up that belief, and in fact, there is plenty of evidence, from civil liberties, to Obama's embrace of the Bush adminstration's most extreme veiws on executive power, to even domestic policy and the rewarding of the financial industry and health insurance industries, to suggest the opposite. When it comes to foreign policy, surely you can't be as gullible and naive to believe that Obama and the Democrats are in any way substantially different from their predecessors, Republican or Democrat. The American goal to domiinate the Middle-East and control oil reserves there through military interventions if necessary, to pick just one foreign policy objective, is one that has a long history. Bush and company and their motivations and actions were not particularly anomalous in the long, bloody and brutal track-record of US foreign policy in the Middle-East or elsewhere..it's only their level of clumsiness, belligerence and arrogance that has allowed the ugly underbelly of US imperialism to become obvious. You seem to be a good liberal Democrat .. that's the only explanation I have for your gullibility and shockingly naive assertions.
Apr 14 2010, 20:17 CEST
damn.. seems Pangaea beat me to it...sorry for making the same points as Pangaea made above (and more concisely) but I was typing up my response just as he was typing his.
Apr 14 2010, 20:27 CEST
please watch this Bill Moyers interview with Juan Cole about Pakistan, which I hope will allay your misplace fears about Pakistan becoming a failed state anytime soon, and about Pakistan's nuclear arsenal:
Juan Cole is a highly respected expert on the Muslim world and knows what he's talking about. He's actually lived in the Muslim world, including in Pakistan, and he doesn't have a particular ideological agenda, which cannot be said for the ex-government officials, ghouls and American war-criminals that feature in this documentary. Please note also that this interview was conducted in 2009 when the American media and American establishment, from government officials to right-wing think tank "experts", were blathering on about the incipient collapse of the Pakistani state just because the Taliban had won some minor victory and temporarily taken over some Pakistani town. All that fear-mongering by the American media and think-tank "experts" turned out to be completely wrong, which is not surprising, considering most of them have no idea what they're talking about. They're just interested in advocating for more war, more slaughter of Muslims, and to provide justifications for the American occupation of Afghanistan and even an expansion of American military intervention in Pakistan.
The point is that I don't understand how any non right-winger would trust American ex-government officials or American establishment figures, such as the ones in this documentary. Even if they're not trying to be deliberately deceptive, they view the world through a very limited ideological lens, which is one that seeks to defend American power and dominance first and foremost. They are either incapable of, or just not particularly interested in understanding the root causes of nuclear proliferation and terrorism. What they want is security for themselves but none for the people outside the American empire and the West. They want the US to have its cake and eat it too, i.e, be able to control the world for the benefit of the US, be able to slaughter Muslims and Arabs with impunity, and not face any consequences. Like you, they only care about the security of their own countrymen and state but don't want other states to have the same security and ability to deter American and Israel attacks. This doesn't seem like a real solution to nuclear proliferation and terrorism to me. That is why I wouldn't trust anything these American establishment fucks have to say.
Apr 14 2010, 22:42 CEST
Your preconception seems to be that people, especially very intelligent people like these four, and the institutions they influence, can't change their mind in the light of new developments. You argue that since the US in its contest with the Soviet Union has relied on nuclear deterrence for half a century, this obsolete policy stance has to continue forever, in spite of changed circumstances. Moreover, it has to apply to conflicts with other nations, meaning that other nations that mess with the US will be nuked or will be threatened with a nuclear attack. The absurdity of that stance should be obvious. The landscape has changed massively in recent years, and one doesn't have to be very smart to recognize that nuclear weapons today, in the hands of legitimate states, are liabilities to be best gotten rid of, world-wide, for the sake of the security of these states.
You seem to believe that something can be accomplished by legitimate states by their use of nuclear weapons or by waving the threat of using them. The US couldn't possibly use nuclear weapons, and therefore any threat of using them is empty and will be seen as such. Do you really think the US could or would use nuclear weapons against Iran? Under what circumstances? I'm not talking about bunker busters; lets focus here on the real menace, i.e. high yield nuclear bombs.
Aside from that one dumb remark Hilary Clinton made about obliterating Iran which she made while she was campaigning as a presidential candidate, trying to appear tough and appealing to the Jewish and redneck vote and NOT SPEAKING as a government official which she wasn't at that time, I'm not aware of any nuclear threats made by the US to Iran. Since you claim they exist, please provide the source. Where and when did Obama or Clinton (as secretary of state) threaten Iran with nuclear attack, and under what conditions?
You categorically state that "the goal of these people and the government they (used to) represent is NOT [your caps] a world free of nuclear weapons. If it is true as you claim that government, especially in the West, these days look disfavourable towards nuclear weapons, why do they keep on threatening other countries with their use?" Again, please back this up. Which Western governments are threatening which other countries with the use of nuclear weapons?
Let's keep small tactical nuclear bombs such as bunker busters out of the equation for now. They are highly controversial, and my impression is that the Pentagon is backing off on championing them. Let's not blur the issue, first things first, i.e. first focus on getting rid of the thousands of nuclear weapons in the high kilo- to megaton range.
I thought what Kissinger said in the movie (my paraphrase) was one of the sanest things I've ever heard him say, and you've got to be really cynical or paranoid to pass this off as mere fearmongering, in the service of US nuclear domination of the world. Also, you're making the same mistake that Temptation is making. Quote: "Government people often use that technique to force through whatever policy they want enforced." Kissinger is not a government official or spokesperson, and at this time he has no power to force through any policy.
Another piece of faulty reasoning: "Technically some of these people aren't in government anymore, but their views have not changed, and some will surely be in government again in the (near) future." How do you know their views haven't genuinely changed, in the light of changed circumstances? If Kissinger wants to prolong the status of the US as a major world power, he will recognize that today it is detrimental to the US to put much credence in nuclear weapons anymore, as they are much more likely to be used against it as to be of any use for it.
Also, it is unlikely that he or any other of these four will be in government again. Please accept the possibilty that they are speaking as concerned private citizens rather than painting them as bogeymen, fronting for an evil government.
"Furthermore, if it was true that Russia and China wanted nuclear non-proliferation, full stop, they would ACT in trying to achieve this. This goal of 1,550 nuclear warheads will be the number for years, maybe decades, to come. They could have really stepped up to the plate, and shown the world where their money is, and proclaimed they would destroy ALL nuclear warheads, as is their obligation per the NPT."
Here you are being naive. A demand of Russia or China or the US to commit to a destruction of ALL their nuclear warheads, e.g. by 12/31/10, would be ludicrous. This is going to be a protracted process that will have to proceed in stages and will require negotiations as complicated and messy as the Copenhagen negotions on climate change policy were.
BTW, by no means does the NPT obligate its signatories to "destroy all their nuclear warheads." The exact wording is: "Each of the Parties to the Treaty undertakes to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament, and on a treaty on general and complete disarmament."
In sum, I applaud Obama for taking the first feeble step that is way overdue, and I applaud these four individuals in the movie for kind of cheerleading for his goals. If you are intent on completely stonewalling these efforts and refuse to see any merit in them, based mostly on what seem to me to be rather rigid ideological views, then keep your fingers crossed that you don't live in a city in which a nuclear bomb may go off one of these days.
If on the other hand you support efforts to rid the world of nuclear weapons, then tell me who is doing anything along these lines aside from Obama or who has the clout to really make a difference in this endeavor if not Obama, as the president of the US.
Apr 14 2010, 23:29 CEST
Thanks for pointing me to this interview with Juan Cole whose expertise I respect and whose commentary I have read frequently. I'm looking forward to watching that Moyers program. However, there are also countervailing views.
Personally, I'm sceptical about assertions that the Pakistani nuclear arsenal is safe (they have close to 100 warheads). My info is that many high-ranking officers in the ISI and army are Punjabis who have family members who so to speak work for the other side, in this case Lashkar-e-Taiba who were behind the 2008 Mumbai atrocities. In that case, there is good evidence now to believe that such individuals in the Pakistani army aided the Mumbai attackers.
If instead of merely providing training, weaponry and logistics to Lashkar-e-Taiba, these rogue elements in the Pakistani army were to provide a nuclear device to be detonated in an Indian city, how could India respond to this effectively? It would be as difficult to identify the culprit as it was in the case of the Mumbai attacks, and in the absence of instantaneous definitive identification there would be no justification for a whole scale retaliatory nuclear attack of Pakistan by India - if there ever were such a justification. It's simply absurd to envision such a scenario. I.e. Pakistani nuclear terrorists would get away unscathed. Deterrence doesn't work anymore in such a situation.
The only solution is to scrap nuclear devices altogether, for the sake of the security of everyone. And that's the message that finally seems to be percolating through the US global policy establishment. I don't find it helpful to nip the potential success of such an endeavor in the bud by insinuating ulterior motives.
In a country like the US, individual citizens own more than 250 million firearms (3 in 10 Americans are gun owners). In most European countries hardly anyone owns a gun, in fact it's difficult to own one. In which of these countries is a citizen more secure from getting killed with a gun? How did it get to be this way? Through reason and through seeing what's in the best interest of the security of everyone, previous gun owners included.
Apr 15 2010, 00:45 CEST
From a Guardian article from two days ago:
"Pakistan yesterday came under increased pressure over its nuclear arsenal when a Harvard study warned of "a very real possibility" that its warheads could be stolen by terrorists."
"Pakistan's prime minister, Yousaf Raza Gilani, assured Barack Obama the country has an "appropriate safeguard" for its arsenal, understood to consist of 70-90 nuclear weapons.
However, a report by Harvard University's Belfer Centre for Science and International Affairs, titled Securing the Bomb 2010, said Pakistan's stockpile "faces a greater threat from Islamic extremists seeking nuclear weapons than any other nuclear stockpile on earth"."
"Both the US and Britain have declared themselves satisfied with Pakistan's security measures for its nuclear weapons, despite the rise of the Pakistani Taliban and other extremist groups. But yesterday's Harvard report said there were serious grounds for concern.
"Despite extensive security measures, there is a very real possibility that sympathetic insiders might carry out or assist in a nuclear theft, or that a sophisticated outsider attack (possibly with insider help) could overwhelm the defences," the report said."
So much about the security of Pakistan's nukes.
Apr 15 2010, 01:15 CEST
first I apologize for my tone and if I got personal with some of my comments. I appreciate your substantial, thoughtful points and I'll try to do my best to respond to them.
you seem like a fairly reasonable person.. but citing some minor Guardian article whose main source is Harvard University really doesn't prove anything about Pakistan's nuclear arsenal. You seem intelligent enough to realize that I hope. Even that Guardian article says that both the American and British government are quite satisfied with Pakistan's security measures for its nuclear weapons.
And that's before we even get into Harvard University, that bastion of the American establishment from which many American war-criminals, mass-murderers and imperial managers have graduated, including Obama. Give me a break, please. That Guardian article is hardly definitive proof of anything. The American academia is quite notorious for its ideological biases and rigidity, for serving American state and corporate power and for serving as training grounds for mandarins of American power, i.e., liberal and conservative intelligentsia who provide intellectual rationalizations and ideological cover for American imperialism, aggression and mass-murder. In fact, if Harvard University says something, you should believe the exact opposite.
Anyway, all I'm saying is that based on Harvard University's track-record, one should be very skeptical of any claims it makes. Who are the people behind this report? What is their ideological agenda? Who funds this "Belfer Centre for Science and International Affairs" and what the credentials and backgrounds of the alleged "experts" on Pakistan who wrote this report? Have any of them lived in the Muslim world, and in Pakistan? As I said already above, why in the world would any intelligent person trust anything by these American foreign policy "experts" and by the American elite establishment considering their track-record for supporting military aggression, for rationalizing American and Israeli barbarism (see Alan Dershowitz for a prime example of these Harvard luminaries), for providing ideological cover for American imperialism, and for being almost always completely wrong about the regions of the world, such as the Middle-East and the Muslim world, they profess to be "experts" on?
"The US couldn't possibly use nuclear weapons, and therefore any threat of using them is empty and will be seen as such. Do you really think the US could or would use nuclear weapons against Iran? Under what circumstances? I'm not talking about bunker busters; lets focus here on the real menace, i.e. high yield nuclear bombs."
really? You really think US would never use nuclear weapons against Iran, or some other country in the future? Why are you so sure about that? It's easy for you as a white Westerner living in the US to be so sure about that..but one should ask people on the other side of the American empire who have their countries bombed and their people slaughtered by American bombs, missiles and robot-drones if they share your certainty. As I said already, your country is the only one insane, racist and barbaric enough to use nuclear weapons.. and one that continues to develop even more nuclear weapons. Given that track record, why would any reasonable person think it wouldn't use nuclear weapons against some other country in the future? You seem to dismiss the whole bunker buster issue as if it's some minor thing..but they're still nuclear weapons and have all the attendant dangers of nuclear radiation and fallout. Sorry, but no, you don't get to dismiss bunker busters that easily. As I've already said, the Bush administration was seriously considering using those weapons against Iran. A country like Iran should take such information seriously, as they should the constant threats by the US and Israel to attack their country.
"If instead of merely providing training, weaponry and logistics to Lashkar-e-Taiba, these rogue elements in the Pakistani army were to provide a nuclear device to be detonated in an Indian city, how could India respond to this effectively? It would be as difficult to identify the culprit as it was in the case of the Mumbai attacks, and in the absence of instantaneous definitive identification there would be no justification for a whole scale retaliatory nuclear attack of Pakistan by India - if there ever were such a justification. It's simply absurd to envision such a scenario. I.e. Pakistani nuclear terrorists would get away unscathed. Deterrence doesn't work anymore in such a situation."
Look, everybody knows the Pakistani intelligence has contacts with the Taliban and with groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba. But make no mistake about this: these fundamentalists are an asset to the Pakistani army, and the army and ISI decide how to use them, not the other way around. The Pakistani army and ISI use them against India in the conflict over Kashmir, for one, and more recently, in the Mumbai attacks. Now, do they have full control of these terrorist groups? Of course not. That doesn't mean though the highest levels of the Pakistani army would ever allow extremist elements access to Pakistan's nuclear arsenal. As I said already, by all accounts, the Pakistani army is a secular and highly capable and professional institution.
It is one thing for the Pakistani army to use these religious fanatics against India, and it is a whole another thing to provide them with nuclear weapons. As I have said already, every serious policy analyst, including those in the US and British government, are quite satisfied about the safety of Pakistan's nuclear arsenal. The idea that the Taliban are going to get access to Pakistan's nuclear arsenal is insane. I suggest you try and think this through rationally and look at the facts instead of succumbing to propaganda and fear-mongering.
Your second fallacy is equating the Mumbai attacks with a possible nuclear attack against India. From everything I have read and seen, India was quite tempted to attack Pakistan in retaliation for the Mumbai attacks.. It felt quite justified to do so as it had evidence of Pakistani intelligence connections to the Mumbai terrorists. The only reasons it refrained from doing so was because the Indian government realized it would probably be counter-productive in the long run so they exercised wise self-restraint. However, a nuclear attack is a whole other thing. Under those circumstance, it seems likely all bets would be off, and the rage of its nationalist Hindu movement and its citizens would be so great that it would probably find it quite justifiable to launch a whole-scale nuclear attack on Pakistan. And if I understand this, I don't see why Pakistani intelligence and the Pakistani army wouldn't understand it either. As I said, the Pakistani army isn't stupid. So I disagree with you that deterrence would not definitely work in this situation.
Apr 15 2010, 11:06 CEST
"Aside from that one dumb remark Hilary Clinton made about obliterating Iran which she made while she was campaigning as a presidential candidate, trying to appear tough and appealing to the Jewish and redneck vote and NOT SPEAKING as a government official which she wasn't at that time, I'm not aware of any nuclear threats made by the US to Iran. Since you claim they exist, please provide the source. Where and when did Obama or Clinton (as secretary of state) threaten Iran with nuclear attack, and under what conditions?"
All I had to do was google "nuclear first strikes iran" and I came up with so many articles about Obama's recent nuclear summit about which you seem so sanguine and celebratory about. Here's just one article from the WSJ:
U.S. Keeps First-Strike Strategy
Here's just the first paragraph. I suggest you read the whole article to understand what the US is really upto with that nuclear summit. Here' a hint: it's not to give up its own nuclear weapons but rather to prevent other countries like Iran from developing nuclear technology so that the US can continue to threaten Iran with nuclear-first strikes, and prevent Iran from developing nuclear technology and a deterrent to US and Israeli threats and plans to attack their country.
"WASHINGTON—The Obama administration will release a new national nuclear-weapons strategy Tuesday that makes only modest changes to U.S. nuclear forces, leaving intact the longstanding U.S. threat to use nuclear weapons first, even against non-nuclear nations."
Here's another article from the Globe and Mail:
Obama’s new nuclear strategy maintains first-strike option
"Under the policy, the U.S. will not launch a nuclear attack against any country that signs the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and abides by it, a loophole leaving both North Korea and Iran on any potential target list. It also pledges not to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear countries, officials said, in contrast to previous administrations, which reserved the right to retaliate for a biological or chemical attack by a non-nuclear state. But Mr. Obama included a major caveat: The countries must be in compliance with their non-proliferation obligations under international treaties. That means Iran would remain on the potential target list.
"Mr. Obama’s Nuclear Posture Review says the U.S. won’t launch a nuclear attack against any country that signs the Non-Proliferation Treaty and abides by it, leaving North Korea and Iran on any potential target list.
“All options are on the table when it comes to countries in that category,” Defence Secretary Robert Gates said, referring to Iran and North Korea."
Notice the phrase "all options are on the table" by Robert Gates above. As I said already in one of my earlier comments, when the US says "all options are on the table" regarding Iran, it is a threat of nuclear-first strikes against Iran. You are just ignoring facts by pretending otherwise.
Apr 15 2010, 11:42 CEST
In my opinion, one of the most knowledgeable individuals on the issue of nuclear terrorism is Graham Allison of Harvard University School of Government. I've been following his commentary over the years, and I largely attribute my continued interest in this matter to periodically being exposed to his warnings about the dangers ahead of us.
He wrote the forword to the 2010 report "Al Qaeda Weapons of Mass Destruction Threat: Hype or Reality?" by Rolf Mowatt-Larssen of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard Kennedy School. In that forword he describes the author as "the individual in the U.S. intelligence community who is widely recognized as the leading analyst of WMD terrorism" and he says this about the report: "Mowatt-Larssen has now compiled a comprehensive chronology that addresses the skeptics head-on, by presenting, in unclassified form, al Qaeda’s roughly 15-year quest to acquire WMD. By assembling the best publically-available evidence in an authoritative, readable account, he offers a must-read advance in our understanding of the threat. This record provides an essential grounding for serious thought about how to combat a defining threat of the 21st Century."
Mowatt-Larssen's work is also the source of the quotes I posted from the Guardian article which was taken from "Containing the Bomb 2010", an annual publication put out by the Belfer Center. This is probably the definitive up-to-date unclassified publication on the issue of worldwide nuclear terrorism. You can find it here: http://www.nti.org/e_research/Securing_The_Bomb_2010.pdf
The situation in Pakistan is described on pp. 28-32. The introductory paragraph reads as follows:
Pakistan’s modest nuclear stockpile
arouses global concern because Pakistan is
also the world headquarters of al Qaeda;
its stockpile faces a greater threat from Islamic
extremists seeking nuclear weapons
than any other nuclear stockpile on earth.
Despite extensive security measures, there
is a very real possibility that sympathetic
insiders might carry out or assist in a
nuclear theft, or that a sophisticated outsider
attack (possibly with insider help)
could overwhelm the defenses. Over the
longer term, there is at least a possibility
of Islamic extremists seizing power, or
of a collapse of the Pakistani state making
nuclear weapons vulnerable—though
present evidence suggests both of these
scenarios remain unlikely.
One specific plausible scenario that Mowatt-Larssen proposed was that high-ranking army officers of Punjabi origin who have familiy members affiliated with Lashkar-e-Taiba and who secretly sympathize with the intention of this organization of incorporating most of Kashmir into Pakistan, pass a nuclear bomb via their family counterparts to Lashkar-e-Taiba which uses it attempting to bring India to its knees on the Kashmir issue. India has no real target for a justifiable attack because they could only allege that among the culprits are unidentifiable rogue elements in the Pakistani army. You see the dilemma. Apparently, the same sort of clandestine "army" support was given to Lashkar-e-Taiba in the 2008 Mumbai atrocities, and it led to an unresolved standoff betwen India and Pakistan.
Movatt-Larssen calls this scenario a "family affair" in which tribal kinship relations and religious and nationalist affiliations supercede allegiance to the army and the state. The same sort of thing is going on (or used to go on) in the Western provinces (Waziristan) where Pakistani army officers are supposed to fight their own cousins who are in the Taliban, a situation that only leads to collusion and that the West then describes as "corruption" in the Army.
In any case, thanks for restimulating my interest in these matters. I'll be reading the "Securing the Bomb 2010" report and also watching the Juan Cole interview. It will be interesting to probe the apparent disparity between what Cole claims (at least according to your characterization) and what the Belfer Center report asserts about the security of the Pakistani nuclear arsenal. There's also an "Unreported World" documentary aired on Apr 09 10 by Channel 4 (in the UK) entitled "Pakistan's Terror Central" that is about Lashkar-e-Taiba, precisely the organization one probably has to worry about the most in Pakistan. This video was uploaded to OBT a few days ago. From these sources I expect to obtain a more informed view on this matter.
I won't be posting the results of this appraisal here. For my taste, this discussion has gone on long enough; I think we all had our say and we can let the matter rest there for now.
BTW, I don't live in the US and I'm not a US citizen nor do I have family there. I live in a quiet town in Europe that will never see a terrorist bomb. It doesn't matter to me whether it is Russians, Indians, Americans or Brits who get snuffed out by the hundreds of thousands in a major nuclear terrorist attack. The one indubitable fact is, they would all be innocent, and the victims would include scores of children. Such a thing cannot be allowed to happen. There are other ways of settling conflicts.
Apr 15 2010, 13:48 CEST
Chomsky considers the Financial Times to be essential reading, one of the most important newspapers and a paper that he reads every day. The Financial Times? You're kidding! That pink rag that is the flagship reading of the international, capitalist business class? Well, says Chomsky, competitive businesspeople and financial managers love their money and hate losing it because they got the wrong information. They are the greediest of the lot in their hunger for true facts, accurate information about what's really going on in country X in which they operate and have their investments. Hence, if you want to get the most reliable facts about the world, Chomsky says, read the Financial Times. People who love soaking up ideology and propaganda will go to Fox News or some leftist media outfits, intelligent people will read the FT and then do their own thinking about the facts they're getting there.
The same goes for the US intelligence services. These people are not getting paid to fabricate propaganda and then pass it on to the president; they are supposed to give him the true facts, as far as they can ascertain them, regardless of how pleasant or unpleasant they may be. The intelligence failures of the Bush administration were not so much due to the facts not being known, they were due to manipulation of intelligence reports at the highest levels, in accordance with neocon ideology. Bush didn't want true facts, he wanted what suited his preconceived notions, and he got it from spineless officials. Many midlevel CIA analysts resigned over this prostitution of their ethics.
This also holds for much of what analysts and researchers at Harvard's School of Government produce. People who fabricate facts or whose analyses don't hold up or merely cater to ideological whims don't survive very long in such an environment. To reject their analyses with a blanket condemnation that everything that comes out of Harvard must be the opposite of the truth is equivalent to blinding oneself and getting duped by one's own ideology, be it anti-capitalist, anti-globalist, anti-American, whatever.
Keep in mind that Stephen Walt, the coauthor with John Mearsheimer of the study on "The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy" is a dean at the Harvard School of Government. I think there is a lot of truth in their study, and I would call it anything but self-serving US government propaganda. So I'd recommend you take a look at some of the publications from Harvard's Belfer Center, esp. those of Mowatt-Larssen on nuclear terrorism, someone who had been an intelligence analyst for 30 years. Perhaps he's actually telling the truth!
With that, I'm saying Good Bye. May you all be well!
Apr 15 2010, 15:26 CEST
I haven't read all the comments yet, but I just want to post this interview from DemocracyNow! yesterday.
He pretty much confirmed my view above. The Kissinger quote is ridiculous and only intended to raise fears about (non-state)terrorists getting their hands on nuclear weapons. The reality is very different. It's nigh on impossible to get their hands on them (even in Pakistan), and even if they somehow did, it would be virtually impossible to assemble them, let alone actually making it explode in a mushroom form.
Apr 15 2010, 17:12 CEST
Thanks for the discussion with Cole and Mufti. Was very interesting. And again it highlights the absurd image the Western press and people like Kissinger are trying to paint of Pakistan and the Taliban.
They're always trying to create Satans and Good Guys. The world isn't that black and white. There is of course the issue of the US often being the Satan, but also that you can't pin all kinds of movements in the world on these two extreme ends of the spectrum.
Also, Taliban is not a homogeneous group only filled with extremists who want to implement a strict form of Sharia law. There are moderates and there are extremists, just as in any kind of social group or movement.
Apr 15 2010, 17:46 CEST
are you seriously saying that the US see no use in nuclear weapons any more, and are therefore trying to get rid of them all?
If they see no use in nuclear weapons, why do they keep up this sharade about preventing Iran of getting nuclear weapons?
As already mentioned above by Temptation, the US constantly threatens other countries with the use of nuclear weapons by the "all options are on the table" phrase, so I won't address that any further.
And btw, if Obama's position is that the US can use nuclear weapons against non-signatories of the NPT, even if they currently don't have nuclear weapons that would ELIMINATE Iran from the category, and it would INCLUDE Israel.
So that is clearly not the qualification for inclusion or exclusion. I am increasingly believing Chomsky's notion that world affairs work much like the Mafia. Do as we say and you're fine, go against our will and suffer the consequences.
At the end of the day, this is why Iraq was attacked, and this is why the US are threatening Iran with attack.
Personally I don't think the US will attack Iran in the near future. US troops are too busy running 3 wars in the region, in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan. But more importantly, Iran can actually put up a bit of a defence. The last thing the US wants is a war that will inevitably kill thousands upon thousands of soldiers. We know the US public would quickly turn against the war then, even though they've been submitted to massive amounts of anti-Iran propaganda over the last few years. I think the US are pursuing the same path as they did with Iraq. First smother the country and its economy with sanctions, then see where that leads. If the leadership finally succumb to the dictats of Washington, fine, we may allow them to breath again. If they don't, there is the option of invading them further down the line, when they're virtually incapable of defending themselves.
If, and this is a massive if as we have no evidence to support it, Iran are trying to assemble nuclear weapons, you can be 100% sure it will be as a deterrent against a US or Israeli attack. You are quite correct, I think, that nuclear weapons of the 'normal' form will not be used, not even by the US. But you are very mistaken if you believe nuclear weapons have no role to play. There is no way Iran or anybody else can KNOW the US will not use nuclear weapons again. They are not dumb people, they saw that Iraq was just a sitting duck and was eventually attacked. If Iran were able to get a massive deterrent in the form of a nuclear bomb, the US would think twice about attacking them, as a nuclear bomb just might drop on Tel Aviv.
As mentioned, there is no evidence to support US propaganda about Iran trying to acquire the bomb, but if they are, this will be the reason - as a deterrent against US attack.
Lifting the eyes a bit further, I think the mention above of Western technology dominating world affairs is very apt. What scares the West the most is not the fact that Iran are not following orders, but that they are developing technologically. Yet again, it's the "threat of a good example". If countries in the region see that Iran are able to defy the Don and develop their technology and economy along the way, others may want to stake out an independent path as well. Nobody likes to be a slave to foreign interests.
Apr 15 2010, 18:20 CEST
It turns out that Handbrake (which I'm running in Linux) allows you to convert DVD rips with multiple VOB etc. files in a single pass to a single mp4 file. They have to be in a folder named VIDEO_TS. For example, the original source (DVD rip) of this movie had a size of 2.31 GB. With the setting "Constant Quality RF: 20 (61%)", Handbrake converted this source to an mp4 file of 304 MB size and surprisingly good video quality (perhaps a tiny notch better than the mp4 movie I'd posted here, which I had converted from this source in two passes). That took about 30 min on my laptop.
I'll check out the various pieces of software you suggested. Many thanks for your tips!
Apr 17 2010, 00:40 CEST
Leaving the other discussion behind (been done to death anyway I guess), what programs can do this in Windows?
It's been years since I did this and can't remember what I used. Can DVDShrink do this directly from .VOB to any kind of format, like avi, mpg, mp4?
Apr 17 2010, 17:42 CEST
Handbrake is available for Windows, Linux and MacOS X ( http://handbrake.fr/downloads.php ), and it does the re-encoding of the DVD rip to mp4 in a single pass and with user-controllable compression. You don't have to first shrink the original rip with DVDshrink. The VOB etc. files have to be in a folder named VIDEO _TS, and in the "Source" window in Handbrake you have to check the box ""Open VIDEO_TS folder". With the most recent version 0.9.4 the Handbrake developers discontinued supporting conversion to avi format; mp4 (= m4v) is the only supported format. They said that avi is best forgotten as it is a mediocre and obsolete format.
Apr 17 2010, 19:21 CEST
Can both Handbrake and DVDShrink do this from mounted DVDs? I assume so, and seem to remember that working with DVDShrink back in the day when I did this.
I also prefer to watch on a big screen. Unfortunately the TV-in stuff on my old TV (must be 10 years old now) doesn't work any more. But I bought a 24 inch widescreen a couple of months ago, so it's great to watch on the PC now. Can't sit in a comfy sofa, but still..
Apr 17 2010, 20:46 CEST
so, do away with the nukes that have cost trillions to make,-will cost trillions to decommission- that kept the peace allegedly, and they can start costly wars again.
Apr 19 2010, 20:44 CEST