TBIMG Question #20 ~ Shock & Awe

by Dr. Madhi Obeidi and Kurt Pitzer

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TBIMG Question #20 ~ Shock & Awe

Unread postby Liz » Sat Jul 28, 2007 10:59 am

Let’s expand on yesterday’s question....
What did you find interesting in this story?
Was there anything that shocked or surprised you?
What surprised you most about the story?
You can't judge a book by its cover.

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Unread postby Betty Sue » Sat Jul 28, 2007 12:13 pm

Actually, what I found interesting in this story was that I got involved in it. I'm ashamed to say I'm a total ostrich when it comes to anything related to wars, and I only intended to skim this book and not answer any questions. :dunce: Dr. O's writing drew me in.
The international intrigue and deception in acquiring knowledge and materials was pretty shocking. And, though it wasn't news, it was still pretty shocking to read about how Saddam could so easily order the murders of his relatives and associates and so arrogantly keep building opulent palaces and monuments to himself. :mad:
I was most surprised at how they could completely obliterate the Rashdiya site and build an exact replica of the facility with new materials (from new soil to the placement of the coffeemaker!) within two weeks and get away with it!! :-O
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Unread postby Liz » Sat Jul 28, 2007 12:20 pm

Betty Sue wrote:Actually, what I found interesting in this story was that I got involved in it. I'm ashamed to say I'm a total ostrich when it comes to anything related to wars, and I only intended to skim this book and not answer any questions. :dunce:


Could have fooled me. :highfive:

Betty Sue wrote:I was most surprised at how they could completely obliterate the Rashdiya site and build an exact replica of the facility with new materials (from new soil to the placement of the coffeemaker!) within two weeks and get away with it!! :-O


Wasn't that amazing? :-O
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Unread postby Betty Sue » Sat Jul 28, 2007 4:05 pm

Liz wrote:
Betty Sue wrote:Actually, what I found interesting in this story was that I got involved in it. I'm ashamed to say I'm a total ostrich when it comes to anything related to wars, and I only intended to skim this book and not answer any questions. :dunce:


Could have fooled me. :highfive:

:lol: I know!! I can't believe how I jump in here every day and yakety-yak! :eyebrow:
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Unread postby Liz » Sat Jul 28, 2007 4:10 pm

Betty Sue wrote:
Liz wrote:
Betty Sue wrote:Actually, what I found interesting in this story was that I got involved in it. I'm ashamed to say I'm a total ostrich when it comes to anything related to wars, and I only intended to skim this book and not answer any questions. :dunce:


Could have fooled me. :highfive:

:lol: I know!! I can't believe how I jump in here every day and yakety-yak! :eyebrow:


It's much appreciated, Betty Sue. :cool: Keep up the good work.
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Unread postby fansmom » Sat Jul 28, 2007 5:18 pm

Betty Sue wrote:I was most surprised at how they could completely obliterate the Rashdiya site and build an exact replica of the facility with new materials (from new soil to the placement of the coffeemaker!) within two weeks and get away with it!! :-O
I'm with you on that, Betty Sue. That completely amazed me.

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Unread postby Liz » Sat Jul 28, 2007 5:38 pm

In terms of the technical end of it I found this part interesting:

“Another obstacle was the production of uranium hexafluoride. Although this was a far easier task than building a centrifuge, we had turned the job over to a team from the IAEC, and they were having trouble converting the reactor fuel into the dangerous and highly radioactive gas. This fact was later a source of puzzlement to UN weapons inspectors. During the 1990s they repeatedly asked whether we had produced large amounts of uranium hexafluoride. They felt that our success in building a centrifuge would indicate that we had the ability to produce any amount of raw fuel we desired, since it was an easier task. They couldn’t understand that our resources were limited, and that for years I had put the vast majority of them into overcoming the more challenging problem of the centrifuge itself.”

I found this interesting because (1) I wasn’t aware of such details, and (2) the UN weapons inspectors weren't aware that Iraq’s UH resources were limited and didn’t seem to understand Iraq’s focus.

I also thought reading his account of the US invasion was interesting from the perspective of an Iraqi and someone who was experiencing it firsthand.
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Re: TBIMG Question #20 ~ Shock & Awe

Unread postby Linda Lee » Sat Jul 28, 2007 8:10 pm

Liz wrote:Let’s expand on yesterday’s question....
What did you find interesting in this story?
Was there anything that shocked or surprised you?
What surprised you most about the story?


The book itself was far more interesting than I expected it to be, it was very easy to read.

I was surprised at how quickly the scientists were able to develop the centrifuge technology. It wasn't as quickly as Hussein Kamel wanted but it was an amazingly short time for a project of this complexity especially when everything was clandestine.

I, too, surprised at how quickly and thoroughly the Rashdiya facility was redone, including the removal of the soil.
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Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Sat Jul 28, 2007 8:31 pm

I'll add my sentiments to those already expressed. I too was surprised that I was drawn in to the book as much as I was. I admit some of the technical stuff bogged me down but I found the writing and the story very compelling. Also the rebuilding of the Rashdiya site was mind boggling. They must have had that in their "what if" planning file for quite a while. Liz, like you I was very surprised at how they preceived the American invasion.

The other thing that I found surprising was how many countries were involved in providing the technical knowledge and components. The world marketplace is indeed expanding. I'm glad we have the nuclear watchdog agencies but how can they ever keep ahead of the curve?
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Unread postby nebraska » Sat Jul 28, 2007 8:47 pm

Like Betty Sue, I was amazed that I found this book interesting at all. It is not my usual kind of reading material. It is not my favorite book ever, but I found it more satisfying than I expected. I was surprised by the way Dr. Obeidi was able to describe some of the technology in terms that I thought I understood when I read about it. He was able to bring very complicated science down to the level of a non-scientist....at least to the point where I felt like I understood what was happening. I had been very intimidated by that subject matter.

I was shocked when that bomb/missle hit his home. That had to be terrifying.

I was surprised how much trouble he had making contact with American authorities to tell them what he knew after the American invasion......and shocked that so few scientists are accounted for.......or were offered sanctuary. I find it strange to think of someone like Dr. Obeidi living among us, unknown, going to the mall, etc. and none of us know who he is. Do we really know who is sitting in the next booth at McDonald's? :-O

I was amazed at how little of the history I remembered from that time. I tend to not watch the news much because I feel so much of the news is biased. But I basically remembered little or nothing of what happened during that time period. I was completely shocked by H Kamel's assassination.......wasn't that big news when it happened? It was like reading a book of fiction with a surprising plot twist when I read about that whole series of events. :blush:

I was also surprised by how unrealistic Saddam could be for a man who ruled a nation and had such big ambitions.........concrete beams to defend the city?????? It put many things in a different perspective.

I guess I have rambled enough........... :-/

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Unread postby ThirdArm » Sat Jul 28, 2007 9:30 pm

As several others have mentioned, I,too, was surprised by the account of the rebuilding of the Rashidya site. :-O

Also, I knew from the news about Saddam's personality; but it was entirely another to read about it from someone with firsthand experience. It was amazing to read about how much actually got done, working within the framework of denial and delusion.
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Unread postby gemini » Sat Jul 28, 2007 9:45 pm

Well I, first went into reading this for the most obvious reason and also why a movie would go over well, looking for anything that would fill in the blanks about the WMD story. With it still being debated here in the US, I thought this book might fill in the answers. The second reason was to read it and find out why it interested Johnny. I expected it to be boring but it kept my interest and was easy to follow. I didn't read it expecting to understand nuclear technology but how close Saddam came to acquiring it.

I was also fascinated by a remark someone (I forget who) made before we started the discussion that it was written without going into politics. This made me feel better about reading it but, I can't agree with this statement now. Like fansome says it is very hard to keep present politics out of discussing any of the topics because they are so relevant to today.

I think what I liked most about the book was the description of the family gathered around the TV watching Al Jazeera and CNN just like we would do in the same situation.

The thing that surprised me the most besides some of the things already mentioned was how acceptable it was for them to learn English and go to school in the United States.
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Unread postby Liz » Sat Jul 28, 2007 11:08 pm

nebraska wrote: Like Betty Sue, I was amazed that I found this book interesting at all. It is not my usual kind of reading material. It is not my favorite book ever, but I found it more satisfying than I expected. I was surprised by the way Dr. Obeidi was able to describe some of the technology in terms that I thought I understood when I read about it. He was able to bring very complicated science down to the level of a non-scientist....at least to the point where I felt like I understood what was happening. I had been very intimidated by that subject matter.

I was shocked when that bomb/missle hit his home. That had to be terrifying.

I was surprised how much trouble he had making contact with American authorities to tell them what he knew after the American invasion......and shocked that so few scientists are accounted for.......or were offered sanctuary. I find it strange to think of someone like Dr. Obeidi living among us, unknown, going to the mall, etc. and none of us know who he is. Do we really know who is sitting in the next booth at McDonald's? :-O

I was amazed at how little of the history I remembered from that time. I tend to not watch the news much because I feel so much of the news is biased. But I basically remembered little or nothing of what happened during that time period. I was completely shocked by H Kamel's assassination.......wasn't that big news when it happened? It was like reading a book of fiction with a surprising plot twist when I read about that whole series of events. :blush:

I was also surprised by how unrealistic Saddam could be for a man who ruled a nation and had such big ambitions.........concrete beams to defend the city?????? It put many things in a different perspective.

I guess I have rambled enough........... :-/


And I was surprised by what I didn't know or remember. :dunce: I think I will retain what I read here more than anything I ever saw on the news. He did have an amazing way of explaining the technical aspects to the lay person.
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The only thing that matters is the ending. It's the most important part of the story.

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Unread postby Liz » Sat Jul 28, 2007 11:16 pm

gemini wrote: I was also fascinated by a remark someone (I forget who) made before we started the discussion that it was written without going into politics. This made me feel better about reading it but, I can't agree with this statement now. Like fansome says it is very hard to keep present politics out of discussing any of the topics because they are so relevant to today.


This was my major fear about this discussion because we try to steer away from politics here. And to my delight, you all have been really great about that. :thumbsup: :thumbsup: I know it's been hard. And it's been hard for me. So :toastingpirates: to you. But I make it sound like we're at the end here. We aren't. We still have a few more questions to go. And I have more to say about what surprised me, but that might have to wait until tomorrow as the DH is waiting for me to be done here so we can go watch a movie. :-/
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The only thing that matters is the ending. It's the most important part of the story.

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Unread postby fansmom » Sat Jul 28, 2007 11:28 pm

I must confess I'm a bit of a news junkie, which I think makes it especially hard for me to keep politics out of the discussion. I can tell you exactly where I was and what I was thinking during Colin Powell's presentation to the UN, where I was when the war started, etc.

What movie did you see, Liz? AWE isn't playing around here any longer. :bawl:


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