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Iran War Clock Set At Ten Minutes To Midnight 315

Posted by Soulskill
from the just-hit-the-snooze-when-it-goes-off dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "The Atlantic has assembled a high-profile panel of experts, including a former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Iran, a Senior Vice President at the Council on Foreign Relations, a Deputy Head of the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv, and a military correspondent at Haaretz, to periodically estimate the chances of conflict with Iran. The Iran War Clock is not designed to be pro-war or anti-war. Instead, the purpose is to estimate the chances of conflict in the hope of producing a more informed debate. Each panelist makes an individual estimate about the percentage chance of war and we report the average score and based on this number, the Iran War Clock is adjusted so that the hand moves closer to, or further away from, midnight. 'On the one hand, the panelists are highly knowledgeable. On the other hand, there are sufficient members of the panel that any individual error should not have an overly negative effect on the aggregate prediction.' If there is a zero percent chance of war, the clock hand is at 20 minutes to midnight. Each extra 5 percent chance of war moves the hand one minute closer to midnight. 'We're humble about the accuracy of this prediction, which is really a collective "gut-check" feeling. But it may be closer to the truth than the alternative forecasts available.' The panel's first estimate puts the odds of war in the next twelve months at 48 percent, consistent with predictions market Intrade.com, which estimates a 40 percent chance of a U.S./Israeli strike by December 2012."
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Iran War Clock Set At Ten Minutes To Midnight

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  • Brilliant! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nman64 (912054) * on Friday March 09, 2012 @03:29PM (#39304111) Homepage

    Hearing the ticking of a clock and seeing a deadline approaching always has a calming effect!

    I'm sure this will be taken every bit as seriously as the Doomsday Clock.

    • by oodaloop (1229816) on Friday March 09, 2012 @03:52PM (#39304445)
      A symbolic clock is as nourishing to the intellect as photograph of oxygen to a drowning man.
    • Eh... it could go either way (waggling hand).

      The world isn't about right and wrong and anyway, what you consider right and wrong is considered rather silly by 6 billion people. It is about trying to ensure that tomorrow won't be a hell of a lot worse then today. And a Muslim run world would be a hell of a lot worse? Want to proof me wrong? Reverse the migration streams. As bad as some claim the west is, a lot of people would risk a dangerous crossing in tiny boats for a living as toilet cleaners rather then

      • And a Muslim run world would be a hell of a lot worse? Want to proof me wrong? Reverse the migration streams.

        I don't disagree with the point you're trying to make there, but just take a look at how many people there are trying to get into Saudi Arabia and the UAE to find work. Migrants go where there is money.

  • Framing? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Haffner (1349071) on Friday March 09, 2012 @03:32PM (#39304151)
    This is possibly the most deliberately confusing way to try to explain our chances of war to anyone. Twenty minutes to midnight means a 0% chance? Why are we restricting a scale designed to have 720 minutes to just 20? This is just designed to scare people (for whatever reason) into thinking war is more probable than it really is. I have no problem with the panel, just the manner in which they displayed their results.
    • Re:Framing? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Oswald McWeany (2428506) on Friday March 09, 2012 @03:38PM (#39304241)

      This was my first thought too!

      If there is a zero percent chance of war, the clock hand is at 20 minutes to midnight

      We're basically rigging the system to LOOK like war is inevitable no matter what we do. This sounds like a PR event to get people READY for war more than give a realistic assessment.

      People will see "20-minutes to midnight" and think OMFG!@!@!@!@!11111@@@@@ (internet has changed how people thing)

      If you're used to seeing we're only 20 minutes from war- when war comes it is just because it is a foregone conclusion. No reason to complain to the government... we've been this close all along!

      Using the same scale we're currently at 20 minutes to midnight before Obama personally castrates all men in West Virginia using a switch blade knife... only 20 minutes from midnight folks... it's inevitable- don't fight it.

      • We're basically rigging the system to LOOK like war is inevitable no matter what we do.

        That sounds accurate to me! All the politicians are falling over themselves to say they're going to kill the other guys. It's not the peasants asking for it. The nobles are the ones leading it. The military industrial complex, conservative pundits, and a few other rich individuals who for one reason or another want to see a big fight are the few leading the charge. Aside from locking them up, what can we do?

      • by khallow (566160)

        Using the same scale we're currently at 20 minutes to midnight before Obama personally castrates all men in West Virginia using a switch blade knife... only 20 minutes from midnight folks... it's inevitable- don't fight it.

        I bet it's rusty too.

        We're basically rigging the system to LOOK like war is inevitable no matter what we do. This sounds like a PR event to get people READY for war more than give a realistic assessment.

        Or more likely to panic people into opposing a war with Iran. My view is that Obama wouldn't go to war without a Pearl Harbor incident. And he's not going to troll for one unlike say Lyndon B. Johnson's Gulf of Tonkin incidents. So that leaves it up to other people such as the possible replacement for Obama. And that right there is probably the explanation. Get people thinking about a possible war with Iran now, then maybe they'll kick some money over to Obama's campaign warchest.

      • They are only negotiating the dates and times. Before or after the election.

    • And More Framing? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn@nOspAM.gmail.com> on Friday March 09, 2012 @03:40PM (#39304273) Journal

      This is possibly the most deliberately confusing way to try to explain our chances of war to anyone. Twenty minutes to midnight means a 0% chance? Why are we restricting a scale designed to have 720 minutes to just 20? This is just designed to scare people (for whatever reason) into thinking war is more probable than it really is. I have no problem with the panel, just the manner in which they displayed their results.

      I thought the same thing. Why not simply say "48% chance of war by December 2012"? Another thing I found quite humorous was that this is titled "The Iran War Clock" which made me think 'damn those war mongering religious fundamentalists' but then when I get to the end of the summary I see they reference a "U.S./Israeli strike" which makes me think 'perhaps this should be called The U.S./Isreali War Clock'? I mean, is this clock about Iran nuking a neighbor or Israel? Or is this clock about the US and Israel tag-teaming on Iran? Or is it a split and, if so, what's that split on the 48%?

      And yet another peculiar thing was that I searched around for the panel's positions and stances of each member in order to understand why this war clock is now at ten minutes and how this is any different than, say, the past twenty years of Iran. It's a coin flip that war will break out by the end of the year? Hasn't this always been sort of the sentiment with Iran? What makes this so different now, specifically?

      • by houghi (78078)

        Why not simply say "48% chance of war by December 2012"

        Because it is meaningless as well.

      • It wont happen from us this year or probably Israel either. US elections may have something to do with what happens to Iran.

    • by xx_chris (524347) on Friday March 09, 2012 @03:46PM (#39304361)
      It was a Bush underling, Jed Babbin. Schwarzkopf was honored as a Honorary First-Class Private in the French Foreign Legion in 1991. France sent 18,000 troops to that war.
    • by Kenja (541830)
      Because the whole dooms day clock thing was created during the cold war and is intended to scare people into obedience.
    • by MightyYar (622222)

      Ed Hocken, Police Squad:
      "Doctors say that Nordberg has a 50/50 chance of living, though there's only a 10 percent chance of that. "

    • by Chris Burke (6130)

      Yeah, they should have ditched the stupid metaphor that implies we need to be preparing for war right now (if it was 10 minutes 'til midnight on New Year's Eve, you'd be breaking out the champagne glasses if they weren't out already).

      Instead let's just use a simple qualitative scale with no physical metaphor at all.

      Like right now we're at "HOLY FUCK WE'RE ALL GONNA DIE!", which means there's only a small chance for war.

      • by mcgrew (92797) *

        Like right now we're at "HOLY FUCK WE'RE ALL GONNA DIE!", which means there's only a small chance for war.

        Your post made me think of an old song, which I'll mangle here to bring it to the 21st century:

        Well, come on all you big strong men,
        Uncle Sam needs your help again.
        Got himself in a terrible jam
        Way out East out in Iran
        Put down your books and pick up a gun
        We're gonna have a whole lot of fun.

        And it's 1, 2, 3, what are we fightin' for?
        Don't ask me I don't give a damn
        It's just like Vietnam.
        And it's 5, 6, 7,

    • This is just designed to scare people (for whatever reason) into thinking war is more probable than it really is.

      Oil companies would love for us to go to war with Iran, but the threat itself will do. Gasoline prices going through the roof lines their pockets, and they don't give a rat's as that it will destroy the already fragile recovery of a recession that was caused mostly by gasoline prices. $1.05 here when oil man Bush took office in 2000, $4.65 when the economy collapsed eight years later. That money

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 09, 2012 @03:35PM (#39304193)

    is give peace a chance.

    • by oodaloop (1229816)
      For everything there is a season. A time for war...
    • by yog (19073) *

      What about Iran's continuing threats to destroy Israel, not just the supposedly mistranslated rhetorical device "wipe from map" but also the very real and unmistakable threats to destroy the country? What about their continued stockpiling of advanced missiles in Lebanon, manned by Iranian technicians, with the sole purpose of bombing Israel from just over the border, in direct violation of the 2006 UN-mediated armistice? What about Iran's continued sponsorship of terroristic activities all over the world?

    • by MightyYar (622222)

      Insightful? Platitudes are insightful now? I got a million of 'em:
      Good things come to those who wait
      It was meant to be
      Time heals all wounds
      Nothing is impossible
      Perception is reality

      In all seriousness, the last decade of Iran policy has been giving peace a chance. Eventually, they will ride the peace train long enough to arrive at Nuclearville. I still don't think that means war (in fact historically it makes it less likely), but peace has definitely been given a chance. Of course, Iran could just pull out o

      • by oodaloop (1229816) on Friday March 09, 2012 @04:11PM (#39304791)

        Eventually, they will ride the peace train long enough to arrive at Nuclearville.

        In Islam, they have a word for this: Hudna. Basically, a call for peace, or temporary cease-fire, when you need to reload. The fact that the religion/culture of this area of the world is taught this concept, and has a word for it, should speak volumes. Bin Laden called for peace when he was being bombed in 2001. Hamas has called for peace when they were attacked by Israel. None of them seriously want peace; just time to reload.

  • by brainzach (2032950) on Friday March 09, 2012 @03:35PM (#39304203)

    The chance of going to war with Iran is a 9.5 based on a scale from 9 to 10.

  • by Overzeetop (214511) on Friday March 09, 2012 @03:36PM (#39304213) Journal

    WTF - a zero chance of war means 11:40pm. Shouldn't that be closer to 12:01 AM? I mean 10 minutes to midnight (when, I presume, we launch the pumpkins and somebody gets caught wearing rags instead of a ball gown) sounds a lot worse when compared to a 24 hours day than to a 20 minute window.

    Threat Level for the day: Chartreuse

    • by JeanCroix (99825)
      I was hoping someone could explain the percent chance of war with Iran in terms of a car analogy. It would be about as apt as the clock.
    • by vux984 (928602)

      Right, come see my Canada doomsday clock...

      Its only 18 minutes to midnight.

      By the time you watch an episode of simpsons... even if you skip the commercials... we could be at war.

      But don't let that worry you, my Alien Invasion Conspiracy doomday clock which tracks the chances that an alien fleet is behind the moon right now and is coordinating with the CIA and FBI to prepare a combination harvest & extinction of the human race has been very accurately set at only 20 minutes to midnight.

      What a retarded me

  • by Catbeller (118204) on Friday March 09, 2012 @03:38PM (#39304243) Homepage

    I assume none of you tech types are actually going to die in Oil War III?

    • by oodaloop (1229816) on Friday March 09, 2012 @03:49PM (#39304387)
      Yeah, it'll be just like the last World War that started when Israel bombed Iraq's Osirak nuclear facility in 1981.
    • by jdgeorge (18767)

      The outrage is that this "war clock" seems designed to promote the idea of starting a new war.

    • If we went to war with Iran, I would very probably die in that war. That's the job I do. Sometimes wars are easy, sometimes not. But somebody has to be first. Most of the people doing the dying at this point in the game signed up during the war. We know what we signed up for.

      What is there to be outraged about? That I'll die in a pointless war? I'm pretty sure I've already prepared for that when I signed up the first time. Or do you think the present dying is really meaningful? I don't know if it
  • by owlnation (858981) on Friday March 09, 2012 @03:40PM (#39304261)
    This (and the Doomsday Clock) are just stupid gimmicks. They get in the way of facts. It's just lousy journalism.

    Just state the percentage chance -- percentages are clear. Even if they are just probabilities and do not necessarily reflect what will happen in any way.

    Considering Iran's leadership, anything could happen at any time. Using a retarded clock with a deliberately confusing scale isn't going to make that any clearer.
  • by pushing-robot (1037830) on Friday March 09, 2012 @03:40PM (#39304279)

    'We're humble about the accuracy of this prediction, which is really a collective "gut-check" feeling

    Actually, we asked two guys if there would be a war. One said "yes", the other "no". So we were going to say there was a 50% chance, but then we changed it to 48% because that sounded more scientific.

  • Claiming that we're 10 minutes to war, even a figurative 10 minutes, is like claiming that we're 20 years from nuclear fusion.

    It's not something you can sensibly calculate, and any attempt is going to be based more on personal prejudices. They will also have an incentive to constantly keep the clock near doomsday for the same reason that the Homeland Security threat level never goes down to green.

  • How about no? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ZorinLynx (31751) on Friday March 09, 2012 @03:46PM (#39304357) Homepage

    How about we just stop playing world police? I don't want to send our youngsters out there to die in another shithole just because of overly paranoid people in government.

    Leave Iran alone. If they actually *ATTACK* our allies, *THEN* I can understand going to war. But let's not fucking START one.

  • Looking for attention

  • That makes it seem like it's entirely random, like the chances for an asteroid collision.

    In fact, though, the decision to go war or not will be made by a handful of people or just one: Obama.

    And since this is going to be a preventive war (preventing Iran from enriching nuclear fuel for its power and medical reactors), it's an at-will decision.

  • I always thought that the whole point of the Doomsday Clock was to demonstrate the brinkmanship of the Cold War, ie that we were always near the point of outright conflict, and that certain events could bring us closer to or further away from that point. Our relationship with Iran is vastly different than ours was with the Soviets, and we are much further away from an outright war than we were with the Soviets. To me, 10 minutes to midnight means that Israel has already loaded the bombs on the wings and I
    • by PPH (736903)
      Yeah, but 5:45 PM sounds like we've still got time to stop by the 7-11 for a six pack and the video rental place for a couple of porn DVDs.
  • by elrous0 (869638) * on Friday March 09, 2012 @03:51PM (#39304435)

    Every Israeli is require to serve in the military (or equivalent public service). And when those soldiers finish basic, they do it on top of Masada [wikipedia.org]. Pretty powerful message. Better to take on the Roman Empire and be completely wiped out than to compromise, even in the slightest.

    If Israel wants to jump off the cliff and start a war, that's their business. If they would rather all die than to compromise with the Palestinians or Iranians in any way, that's their call. Build all the provocative settlements on Palestinian land you like, put up more walls to ghettoize them even more, kill all the Iranian nuclear scientists you like. Keep being pricks all you want.

    But this American doesn't want to follow them off the cliff that they seem DETERMINED to jump off of. I don't want to see my President start World War III out of some foolish bullshit belief that Israel is looking out for ANYONE else but Israel, that we're BFF's. Find another way to get the Jewish vote, Mr. President.

    • by Dan667 (564390) on Friday March 09, 2012 @04:02PM (#39304621)
      israel is the drunk girl at the bar that starts fights, but expects you to fight them.
      • israel is the drunk girl at the bar that starts fights, but expects you to fight them.

        That's not really fair; the Israeli military has probably been in more combat over the 64 years since the foundation of the country than has any other army on the planet. It's more like your crazy friend who goes out to the bar with you and gets both of you into fights. Which may be a sign that it's time too say, "Dude, it's been great, but I just can't hang out with you any more."

        • by PPH (736903)

          "Dude, it's been great, but I just can't hang out with you any more."

          Israel is like your alcoholic brother-in-law. You are going to back him up. Or you aren't welcome back home again (i.e. AIPAC will cut you to pieces come the next election).

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 09, 2012 @04:27PM (#39305037)

      Odd, I'm an Israeli vet and I've never been to Masada as a soldier. Have been to the wailing wall at my end of bootcamp ceremony though.
      What makes you think we Israelis are so suicidal? we wouldn't have made such progress in mere decades if we didn't value life.
      Yes, there is a certain sense of paranoia in us Jews. But you're not paranoid if they are really after you ;-)
      We have to come up with a credible threat against Iran otherwise no sanctions at all would be placed against Iran's insane regime. Obama was falling all over himself trying to approach them when the forged elections and subsequent slaughter of demonstrators forced him to give up that pipe dream. Do you seriously want them to obtain nuclear weapons? Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Egypt (if they don't all starve by then) have made it clear they will join the nuclear club if that happens. How is that in America's interest?
      I think an actual strike on Iran will end badly. Ending that psycho regime via sanctions will be good for everyone.

    • that's reserved for our favorite nation,

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Most_favoured_nation#United_States [wikipedia.org]

    • --Better to take on the Roman Empire and be completely wiped out than to compromise, even in the slightest.--

      Uh, I don't think this statement is totally true and besides it was around 2000 years ago. I also find the remark slightly racist and I'm not even Jewish I don't think. Israel in 1948 accepted the UN resolution on the matter and the Arabs refused. The UK was in charge of Palestine then. So it's all their fault.

  • Does this mean the use of a nuclear weapon is more probable?

    http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doomsday_Clock [wikipedia.org]

  • Not the Secretary of State, not Assistant Secretary of State, not Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, not even Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, but 'Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Iran'. If that isnt a made-up title it ought to be. As distinguished as the title of Junior Interim Alternate Representative for Regional Greensward Eliminations that I gave my dog.
  • by ch-chuck (9622) on Friday March 09, 2012 @03:59PM (#39304579) Homepage

    Just in time for daylight savings time, after which the clock will be 10 minutes until 1AM, crisis averted.

  • by Dan667 (564390) on Friday March 09, 2012 @04:01PM (#39304607)
    with out new wars.
    • by artor3 (1344997) on Friday March 09, 2012 @04:24PM (#39304997)

      Sure you can. You just need the threat of a war, which will let you justify designing and building all sorts of new weapons, hiring new advisers, conducting field exercises, etc. You need a war every decade or two so that the threats seem valid, but we've already had plenty, so there's no need for another. All the profiteers need right now is saber-rattling, and they've got that in spades.

  • It would have been funnier if it counted towards Dec. 21, 2012 rather than just midnight.

  • by PPH (736903)

    Self destruct clocks are always stopped with 3 seconds to go.

For every bloke who makes his mark, there's half a dozen waiting to rub it out. -- Andy Capp

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