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"Iran's Nuclear Ambitions" Pitch

Earlier, I mentioned the Powerpoint deck being used to pitch the idea of Iran’s Nuclear ambitions. Now, courtesy of Edward Tufte’s forums, we have links to the presentation (PDF). This is mentioned in “U.S. Deploys Slide Show to Press Case Against Iran
” in the Washington Post.

The presentation is a nearly classic example of how Powerpoint ruins a message, reducing [what should be] a complex argument to simple ones. Why anyone expects this to work in light of analysis failures around Iraq is beyond me.

From the title, “Iran’s Nuclear Fuel Cycle Facilities: A Pattern of Peaceful Intent?” forward, the pitch uses innuendo, not assertion. From the start, the claim is not “Iran is developing nuclear weapons,” but “A pattern of peaceful intent?” Why is this? Is there a lack of evidence for the weapons hypothesis?

The authors present their inability to offer a non-weapon explanation of the facts they’ve selected as evidence that their hypothesis is correct. (I happen to think that Iran probably is pursuing nuclear weapons. But this pitch doesn’t add anything to support that theory.)

The United States government sees Iran as a threat. The President has referred to Iran as a member of the “Axis of Evil.” US must offer up the best evidence available that Iran is developing nuclear weapons. Otherwise, our allies won’t be convinced. Convincing our allies that they should be concerned is worth revealing information about our technical spying capabilities. Because the US offers up only flimsy evidence, we can determine that there is no good evidence of Iranian intent to produce nuclear arms.

No. That previous paragraph is a mirror-image of the position taken by the anonymous author of the slides. The logic it contains is equally faulty.

One of the details I find most intriguing is the repeated use of the phrase “Another State” from slides 37-41. Why would that other state not be named? From slide 37 to 40, I was thinking it was North Korea, but on slide 41, North Korea is named. There’s no evidence that “Another State” is always the same other state; we’re lead to expect that it is, but there could be three slides of it being North Korea, and then one of it being another. I tried, briefly, to identify the state in slide 41 with a Google search on “2000km 700kg missile,” but no obvious candidate came up. This inability to confirm information on the slides makes me wary of the other data. Why are we protecting this other state (these other states?)

I had thought that the other state might be Pakistan, but that relies on the same faulty process of elimination logic.

Analysis this weak worries me a great deal.

5 comments on ""Iran's Nuclear Ambitions" Pitch"

  • John says:

    The state that this missile belongs to is Pakistan.

  • Chris Walsh says:

    “reduces a complex argument”?
    I see no evidence of that at all.
    Now, had you said “reduces what could have been a complex argument”, or “reduces what sanity demands be a complex argument”, I’d be with you.
    Neither subtlety nor truth is a hallmark of the current administration, so a simplistic argument is to be expected. That its predicates are either misleading or false is equally unsurprising.
    For what Powerpoint could do to a real Commander-in-Chief’s thoughts, one can always count on this classic.

  • Adam says:

    Thanks! Could you say what missile it is? Because none of the sites I saw listed a Pakistani missile that lined up with the reported capabilities of the missle.
    Man, you don’t let me get away with anything here!

  • beri says:

    “Analysis this weak worries me a great deal.”
    You could have saved a great deal of time by just saying, “The last time we saw analysis this weak, we ended up at “war” in Iraq.”
    Those politicians are not trying to convince thinking people. They are appealing to the same people who bought the WMD and “we will be greeted with flowers” arguments. Stop looking for logic. It’s not there, and you’re smart enough to have figured that out by now.
    Last week we thought the nuclear dangers of NOrth Korea were paramount. I guess it didn’t get enough people excited so now they’re running this up the flagpole to see who notices.

  • izar says:
    Looks like a Ghouri-III from the data and the illustration.

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