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Finally a good idea: Developer licensing.

http://www.sdtimes.com/news/093/story1.htm

We license doctors and plumbers, but we let unprofessionals run amock in the software industry.

The madness has to end.

Developer licensing should also put at end to the outsourcing nightmare.

If you know your stuff, then get licensed. Otherwise, go find another profession.

IT.Manager
Thursday, January 01, 2004

It's funny that the current issue for that article is dated January 1, 2004:

http://www.sdtimes.com/issues/index.htm

But the article itself is dated January 1, 2003. Maybe they need to license people who write articles too. :-)

In all seriousness, I think that guy from Computer ASSociates is an idiot for even suggesting the idea to the Federal government.

Nick
Thursday, January 01, 2004

"Finally" a good idea? There have been "gatekeeper" camps, always hoping to nominate themselves as the guardians of the realm, who have been proposing licensing for years.

Licensing is a horrible, ridiculous idea, for the reasons expressed at http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=91166&cid=7850684. Set up barriers to entry, make software development more expensive than it already is (by building a "guild" of "righteous ones"), and you will vastly accelerate outsourcing to foreign nations not just for component, but for whole software systems. Disallow this? Well apart from that being a barrier to trade that would raise the ire of trade groups, it would severely hamper the competitiveness of American businesses.

Dennis Forbes
Thursday, January 01, 2004

Bah, make sure to parse the period off of the URL above. Apparently JOS should have some licensed developers guiding the unwashed masses.

Dennis Forbes
Thursday, January 01, 2004

Hrm... Hasn't this topic been hashed and re-hashed dozens of times on this board as well as others...

Do a search for Developer Licensing or Professional Certification and I'm sure you'll uncover a ton of other threads that beat the topic to death.


Thursday, January 01, 2004

The only thing that makes this discussable is that a couple of vested interests are looking to sneak this one in under the auspices of "Homeland Security" (all sorts of nutbar initiatives have snuck in under this cover).

What, you don't like licensing? You must be in with the terrorists!

Dennis Forbes
Thursday, January 01, 2004

IT Manager -

As soon as licensing eliminates bad plumbers, I'll sign up for developer licensing.

Please let me know when it happens.

Cognitive Dissonance
Thursday, January 01, 2004

IT Manager,

Licensing by itself won't put at end to the "outsourcing nightmare" nor will it solve any of the myriad of problems that I believe exist within this fragmented industry.

It is easy to license certain types of professions simply because the work they do is relatively easy to define (i.e. highly specialized).  For example, most people have a pretty good idea of what a plumber does for a living and how he/she goes about doing his/her work.  As a result, most homeowners/general contractors wouldn't dream of calling a plumber when they need a new roof or a bay window installed.

Pesonally, I believe worts and all this (i.e. the way the various IT industries currently work) is as good as it is going to get in my lifetime. Imo, "general consensus" is the missing piece of the puzzle (or missing and forever elusive ingredient) that is software development.

Unfortunately, death marches, chaos, trend chasing, and waste (among many other things) will be "the way things are" for a long time to come.

One Programmer's Opinion
Thursday, January 01, 2004

The article said: "Those licensed professionally would be held accountable for their work, such as for security breaches to critical systems."

The question I have is why software engineers shoould be held to totally different standards than other engineers, who are NOT held accountable.

* List the names of the engineers who lost their licenses when the Tacoma Narrows Bridge collapsed.
* List the names of the engineers who lost their licenses when the Challenger exploded due to a faulty o ring made by drug addled engineers and drug addled engineering managers at Rockwell Corp.
* List the names of the engineers who lost their licenses when the Hubble Space Telescope failed.
* List the names of the engineers who lost their licenses when the Mars Polar Explorer thought it had landed when the parachutes deployed.
* List the names of the engineers who lost their licenses when 74 workmen died when the Quebec City bridge collapsed due to a chord girder whose bracing was so inadequate it was self-evident to people with no knowledge of engineering.
List the names of the engineers who lost their licenses when the Hartford Coliseum roof collapsed due to its never having been load tested because the computer load modelling software was considered to be a panacea that did away with the need to do any real world testing. (and again, anybody who has built a backyard fence could tell that the bracing of the roof was flimsy with no lateral  or longitudinal diagonals).

I love studying these grand engineering failures.

When the guys that build bridges that collapse are held accountable, THEN we'll start talking about whether programmers who write games with minor bugs should be imprisoned and delicensed.

And then you are going to have to explain to me the reasons why you believe that the market will be willing to pay the price of developing flawless software. It can be done, yes it can. Welcome to the world where microsoft word costs thirty million dollars a license.

Dennis Atkins
Thursday, January 01, 2004

If we're going to license anyone to "fix bad software" let's start by licensing managers. And I'm talking about *anyone* who has decision-making authority with respect to software projects.

In fact, I can virtually guarantee that if software development is properly licensed, the first move would be that you cannot supervise a software project until you're a licensed software engineering manager with [x] years of experience as a licensed software developer.

The next logical step will be mandatory contractual clauses that going against the advice of a licensed software engineering manager (like deadlines or requirements analysis baselines) then the contract will be either null or subject to penalties.

I don't know, maybe a software licensing board could be taken by managers who think programmers are to blame for everything, but the manager types who are pushing the issue need to be *very* wary that developers might end up in charge.

Coder
Thursday, January 01, 2004

and why wouldn't they just hired licensed devlopers for lower rates overseas?

doobius
Thursday, January 01, 2004

Some problems:

1.  Nice idea - it's been around for years.  There have been
attempts to make "Professional Engineer" exams for
software types, but they all foundered on the shoals
of tech reality: by the time a solid and viable examination
can be put together, the underlying technology has become
obsolete.  It can take several years to put together a
professional licensing exam, and it ain't cheap: there'd have
to be a national licensing body with enough budget to
administer, grade, and - most importantly - maintain the
exams and keep them reasonably current.  (IEEE and/or
ACM is probably the best candidate at the moment).

2.  Technology versus Role, or both?  Should tests be at
the technology level (ie, Licensed ASP.NET engineer) or
at the role level (ie, Licensed Junior SW Engineer,
Licensed SW Engineering Manager), or both?  The
role tests would be really hard to do, since there's little
agreement in industry as to what to test and which one
of the dozens of doctrines and paradigms should be
tested.  (In practice, I suspect you'd have each paradigm
or doctrine treated as a technology: Licensed Extreme
Programming SW Engineer, for instance)

And what does it all mean?  If licensing regimes become
established and licenses are required to work on particular
projects, does this mean that you can't work on something
because you don't have a license yet?  Does this mean
that a new technology can't be used until a test exists for
it and people have been licensed to use it?

foobarista
Thursday, January 01, 2004

Although I don't disagree with your point, this one doesn't hold:
"* List the names of the engineers who lost their licenses when the Challenger exploded due to a faulty o ring made by drug addled engineers and drug addled engineering managers at Rockwell Corp."

The o-ring was not faulty - the temp was too low for the design specs of the o-ring. Engineers said so - management overruled.

So maybe coder has a point license the PHB's.

The rest of your cases I think prove your point.

sgf
Thursday, January 01, 2004

>"by the time a solid and viable examination
can be put together, the underlying technology has become obsolete."

Technology-specific exams would not be practical, neither are they necessary.

Test for the fundamentals, which do not change that often.  That could include demonstration of practical application of the fundamentals by having candidates develop and defend a project.

In addition, establish accountability so the practitioners will have a powerful incentive to develop the skills and pursue practices and processes which are not practical to test for.  The accountability aspect would probably have more of an influence or raising skill levels than the testing process.

A licensing system could still be effective without licensing every developer, as long as they license the decision-makers.  For example, you can do accounting or actuarial work without a license or certification, but you can't present certain papers as being official unless they are reviewed and signed off by a CPA or credentialed actuary.

A licensing system also does not have to be perfect to be effective for both developers and their clients.  No system is perfect.  Not every licensed doctor, accountant, or plumber is a good one, but there would be far more bad ones around if any John Doe off the street could become one without going through any sort of training and evaluation.

T. Norman
Thursday, January 01, 2004

Imagine a world of unlicensed pilots flying their unlicensed jalopies above our heads. Would you feel safe?

Ken
Thursday, January 01, 2004

"Imagine a world of unlicensed pilots flying their unlicensed jalopies above our heads. Would you feel safe?"

The world of debating would be so much better if people canned using such weak, completely inappropriate analogies. In virtually every discussion up pops a ridiculous and non-correlating analogy to questionably try to "prove" something.

Dennis Forbes
Thursday, January 01, 2004

"the temp was too low"

Man, so the engineers didn't know that o-ring was gonna be exposed to the extreme conditions of the space shuttle? What did they do? Outsource the o-ring to someone who had no idea what it was being used for?

Dennis Atkins
Thursday, January 01, 2004

And of course no one lost their professional license due to the Challenger disaster.

And its true that a huge number of the people on the Rockwell team tested positive for recent drug use when tehy tested them after the disaster. IIRC, the managers had the highest incidence of drug use - something like 30%.

If they weren't on  drugs and/or incompetant, o-rings that could not sustain exposure to shuttle conditions would not have been made.

Plenty of o-rings made by folks who weren't spaced out on crack worked fine.

And after all this, a bunch of proclamations, no one gets delicensed and it's back to astro-engineering while wasted - business as usual for the typical spaced-out government contractor, which Rockwell is.

Dennis Atkins
Thursday, January 01, 2004

The engineers did know the O-ring would fail at the low temperatures - they just did a poor job of convincing management of the problem. Tufte has a good write up in Visual Explanations.

Then add the possibility of Reagan speaking to the astronauts _during_ his State of the Nation address and you begin to see the pressure to launch...

Interaction Architect
Thursday, January 01, 2004


The Challenger was not about design, it was about mangagement:
http://www.me.utexas.edu/~uer/challenger/chall3.html#concerns

The "temperature of concern" for the o-rings was 32 degree fahrenheit. The shuttle launch platform is in Cape Canaveral, Florida, where freezing temperatures are exceptionally rare.

The root cause of the Challenger is *exactly* the same as the root cause of the Columbia disaster - management having an attitude of "this happened before and nothing went wrong, so it will be fine now."

You've probably experienced this attitude - ever had a manager poo-poo a security or disaster recovery recommendation saying, in effect, "we've never been broken into before, why the concern?"

Philo

Philo
Thursday, January 01, 2004

Let's licence the F*cking clowns in management too. I'm worked with much bigger asswhole managers and I have bad developers.

Jorel on Software
Thursday, January 01, 2004

OK, you're right Philo and others on Challenger. Very different story from the last time I read about it, but that article you posted boils it down to this:

> Managers often underestimated the risk involved with the shuttle due to their lack of technical expertise in engineering.

Thus I think we can see that the serious problems in engineering are from having these sorts of managers. I think its clear that licensing engineers won't solve any problems. But I would support regulation hat would make it a crime for persons who do not have a substantial amount of engineering *expertise* to manage critical engineering projects, and for those folks. The situation now is like having someone other than a doctor be in charge of surgery in a hospital - dangerous and irresponsible.

Dennis Atkins
Thursday, January 01, 2004

Here's a couple of the charts the Thiokol engineers used to try to convince management not to launch, plus the Tufte-ized version:

http://www.asktog.com/books/challengerExerpt.html

Interaction Architect
Thursday, January 01, 2004

That must be those pesky communists in China and Russia that blew up Challenger. Right, Denis? And of course, OSS commies had something to do with it, too! We must increase our nuclear arsenal to protect Challengers of the future! Dennis Atkins for the President! Zig Hail!

Dennis Atkins-fob
Thursday, January 01, 2004

Communists had nothing whatsoever to do with any of the engineering failures I listed.

Dennis Atkins
Thursday, January 01, 2004

You are confusing the OSS with the SS or something. Last I heard open source was most closely allied with libertarianism.

Dennis Atkins
Thursday, January 01, 2004

No Dennis, if money spent on maintaining our nuclear arsenal to keep parity with Russia and China along with money needed to maintain Navy to protect Taiwan had been spent on better engineering, we wouldn't have had those failures ! Right, Dennis?

Dennis Atkins-fob
Thursday, January 01, 2004

Hardly!

Look the only connection you can make is that if russia and china hadn't developed nukes, we wouldn't have bothered with the space program. But see, that's how the US works - we take the madness of nukes and nurn it into the productiveness of a working space program.

What threatens the space program is stupidity of management, workers on drugs, and retards who just don't give a cr!p about what they are doing (ie: measuring the mirror on the wrong side, etc).

What will save the space program is top notch engineering, and putting the engineers in charge of everything. Take the bureoucrats, pack them up in a box and stip em to China where they belong. They can have committee meetings all day long for all I care.

Dennis Atkins
Friday, January 02, 2004

By the way fob, i am not falling for your 'we routine' - I hear that chinese accent, you taiwan hater you!

Dennis Atkins
Friday, January 02, 2004

Chinese poster - how come China had to buy Russian destroyers when it wanted decent new destroyers and discovered the ones it built were no good?


Friday, January 02, 2004

I've better idea, let's license the users.  Here's one that was prepared earlier -  ( http://www.ecdl.co.uk/ ).  Imagine - competent users.

Happy new year BTW.

A cynic writes
Friday, January 02, 2004

"Imagine a world of unlicensed pilots flying their unlicensed jalopies above our heads. Would you feel safe? "

Ken, take a look at the licencing requirements (or lack therof of microlight aircraft..... scared now??

Tapiwa
Friday, January 02, 2004

Dennis,

The one thing that I find puzzling is you refer to NASA and Rockwell's 'drug addled' engineers?

Where did this come from?  What drug were you referring to; caffine?

Ged Byrne
Friday, January 02, 2004

One profession that has been found to be 'drug addled' are Pilots.  Licensing won't solve that problem then.

"A Virgin Atlantic pilot accused of being drunk in charge of a jumbo jet made his first court appearance in Washington yesterday"
http://travel.guardian.co.uk/news/story/0,7445,1112217,00.html

"Confidence in air crews was further questioned when a pilot working for a company handling BA flights was exposed as a heroin addict who regularly put the lives of his passengers at risk. "
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/956622.stm

Ged Byrne
Friday, January 02, 2004

Some interesting links

http://discuss.fogcreek.com/joelonsoftware/default.asp?cmd=show&ixPost=38915

http://discuss.fogcreek.com/joelonsoftware/default.asp?cmd=show&ixPost=38469

Tapiwa
Friday, January 02, 2004

I have to agree with Dennis, engineers, even doctors are rarely at risk of losing their license even after catastrophic failures.  Instead, they have liability insurance, just like I do.

Also, I believe Coder has hit on an important point.  In a former life, I taught an SEI/CMM introduction course.  Most companies were very unhappy to hear that the first changes had to be made by the management and project leaders.  That most failures were not tied to programming skill, but criteria by conflicting priorities, undocumented requirements, bad resource managment and poor planning.   

Most did not pursue it any further, or only paid lip service to the idea, once it became apparent they needed to learn to do their job, and be certified they did it well enough, to go to the next level. 

MSHack
Friday, January 02, 2004

Dennis,

just out of sheer curiosity, how did you hear the Chinese accent in my posting? May be, it was Taiwanese posting? ;)

Dennis, you normally write reasonable posts about software. Once you start going into politics, you start looking like a nuthead. Pardon my Chinese.

Dennis Atkins-fob
Friday, January 02, 2004

Personally I didn't believe many of the Dennis Atkins post in this discussion were really Dennis Atkins....I was sure someone was being `funny'.

Dennis Forbes
Friday, January 02, 2004

Ah, if that's the case, I bring my apologies to real Dennis Atkins.

former Dennis Atkins-fob
Friday, January 02, 2004

I think you should need a license to post as Dennis Atkins on this board.

Dennis Atkins
Friday, January 02, 2004

Ok, I'm still trying to work out the rationale behind this being a n emboldened thread.

Simon Lucy
Friday, January 02, 2004

MSHack--I'm curious about the CMM model.
Did any of the managers every try to buy their way to the next level? Just as people study to the test for the bar exam, medical board exams, etc.
Resisiting that is hard for any non-trivial sized organization.

mb
Friday, January 02, 2004

I'm not entirely sure on an analytical level how I do it -- I exchange email regularly with several Chinese and Taiwanese friends and so I am exposed to the particular language patterns. Maybe some words are used more frequently than others, or the words are organized grammatically according to particular idioms. It only works with people who went to school in those places and doesn't always work but sometimes I can 'hear' the difference. Maybe they use the same english textbook in most of china or same approach or something and so people have a certain way of speaking that is different from people who learned from a different textbook.

I think if these patterns were well-studied it might be possible to write a program that could take an email and identify the specific area of the world where the author came from.

Anyway, on the political thing, supporting freedom for china does not benefit americans! According to what I have read, the average IQ in China is 115 - the highest of any population in the world. Now the link between IQ and quality products is not absolute, but I do believe there is one. And so the chinese have the potential to make products and software so fantastic and so quickly that no one else can compete with them. However, currently, the quality of chinese products is extremely low with shoddy workmanship in textiles and the wrong ingredients used in chemicals and all sorts of things revolving around a lack of pride in one's work. This is because of communism. If you work hard and do a good job taking the initiative, you can be punished by the party. It's not really a problem with the theory of communism, but the fact that any time power is concentrated, it is abused because the bullies  who like to cause trouble and who hate tto see pepole succeed in their lives are the ones most motivated to seek positions of power in the party. And they will stop at nothing to get what they want whereas an honest man has his limits. This is why systems with centralized power alwoys become corrupt and dangerous, regardless of the whatever they say their values are.

Here's an article about how the party is jealous of honest entrepreneurs like Sun Dawu who do good deeds and create jobs, something the party can not do, so they arrest them!

http://www.usatoday.com/money/world/2003-12-22-china_x.htm

And here's an article about how the workers are trying to unite to protect the rights of the people and the party officials help corrupt factory owners by thwarting all their efforts:

http://www.nytimes.com/2003/12/29/international/asia/29CHIN.html

>Liao Yuanxin, the local chief of the government's All-China Federation of Trade Unions, listed candidates to represent workers of Neil Pryde, a foreign-run sportswear factory. For union committee member: two workers and two company managers. For vice chairman: the human resources director. For chairman: Huang Hongguang, a top factory boss.
>Left off the dais, and off the list, was Liu Youlin, a dogged 29-year-old clothing cutter who had campaigned, petitioned and agitated until officials agreed to set up the union. But according to his account and those of other workers present, he made himself heard.

The party is creating problems for the people and preventing them from creating good products. So instead they make products at very low wages and compete on price instead of quality. Imagine what would happen if China's immence intellectual power was allowed to make decisions on the level of the individual to create new and innovative products of high quality. The west would not be able to compete! All software would be made in china and people would praise its quality and seek the 'made in china' label.

Dennis Atkins
Friday, January 02, 2004

MB - none that approached me directly.  The problem with buying your way up the CMM ladder is the reviews that need to be done. 

What I found was that people were lookng for a checklist. That only companies with a financial requirement to move up, had any real interest. 

I think it is like requirements gathering.  Everyone knows that time spent up front saves even greater costs down the line, but they still want to see people coding _today_ and the business people will meet with you in three weeks.

 

MSHack
Friday, January 02, 2004

The company I work for has a development center in China. I guess all engineers there are party members; otherwise, I wouldn't be getting e-mails from them. And yes, only Chinese are such fools to think that a threat of violence can be effective. Other nations like us, Americans, prefer to deal with others in suade gloves. I mean we talked politely to Saddam, and he got out of his rathole just by himself!

Dennis Atkins-fob
Friday, January 02, 2004

Dennis, it's funny, but I'm not Chinese. I work with quite a few of them, and they are very proud of their national identity. So I don't pretend not being a Chinese. Trust me, I'm of different race.

Dennis Atkins-fob
Friday, January 02, 2004

Is Chinese a race? I thought it was a nationality.

Dennis Atkins
Friday, January 02, 2004

The Chinese threatening violence on taiwan is very different from the situation in Iraq. Taiwan has come of age and moved from a police state to a free country. Alongside this change, Taiwanese products went from being 'cheap junk' to being great competitive products you were willing to pay a premium for - some of the mest power tools are now made in taiwan and the quality is the same as american made products. What is taiwan doing to china? Is Taiwan gassing their population? Are they raping women and children? Are they torturing people who resist the will of the tyrant? No of course not. But iraq did this things, North Korea does them now, and China does many of them. The situation in in Taiwan is one of a big stupid bully (China's party officials) pushing around the smart kid who is doing his own thing and not bothering anyone (Taiwan).

And Tibet... do you really want to compare Tibet to Iraq? What Tibetans were torturing dissidents? What Tibetans were gassing their population? The old Tibetan population is one of the most pacifist, creative and lovely cultures that has existed. Members of this culture were lined up and shot by the Chinese brutes. They didn't stand a chance.

Dennis Atkins
Friday, January 02, 2004

Quite how this picture of Taiwan bullied by the PRC squares with how so many taiwanese families own companies in the PRC and generating so much revenue I can't work out.

Simon Lucy
Saturday, January 03, 2004

You don't think china threatens taiwan?

Dennis Atkins
Saturday, January 03, 2004

----"The Chinese threatening violence on taiwan is very different from the situation in Iraq"----

True, Taiwan has been part of China for thousands of years, whilst Iraq hasn't yet been admitted as the 52nd State, or nth colony.

Stephen Jones
Saturday, January 03, 2004

OK, Dennis, you admit that Internet may be used by non-communists in China. That's a good step forward in getting you out of your delusionary condition. As for the race statement, I don't belong to Mongoloid race. Hence, it'd be difficult to call me Chinese, although I guess there may be Chinese who are not Mongoloid. Pretty rare I reckon. And yeah, you know what Taiwan and Iraq have in common? I'll give you a hint: WMD...

Dennis Atkins-fob
Saturday, January 03, 2004

"Taiwan has been part of China for thousands of years"

Tell that to the Formosans - they may not agree with you.

Dennis Atkins
Saturday, January 03, 2004

> you know what Taiwan and Iraq have in common? I'll give you a hint: WMD...

So you are saying that China must defuse the Taiwan threat because Taiwan has WMD? Is that what the Party is telling you?

Dennis Atkins
Saturday, January 03, 2004

Dennis, you can be smarter than that. Since both Taiwan and Iraq don't have WMD, they can be occupied by a foreign power. Why? Because in the real world, the strongest wins. Real politik, you know.

Dennis Atkins-fob
Sunday, January 04, 2004

The US has deposed a tyrant who tortured raped and murdered people. The US is not there to take over iraq but to stabilize it and turn political power back to the locals, only this time they will be able to vote for their leaders rather than live in fear of them. The taiwanese do not have a brutal tyrant ruling over them and China will not be turning things over to the locals after stabilizing Taiwan, China will be ruling Taiwan as tyrant. You have the situations backwards.

Dennis Atkins
Sunday, January 04, 2004

----"The US has deposed a tyrant who tortured raped and murdered people."----

And guess who put him there and sold him the gas and arms needed to do that.

---"The US is not there to take over iraq but to stabilize it and turn political power back to the locals,"---

So it's really strange that Iraq is now less stable than before, and that the only people who voted into power a convicted fraudster who had been out of Iraq for twenty years were Americans.

Well not that strange actually; Afghanistan is also less stable now than before and the only people that appointed the ex-Haliburton employee president were also Americans.

And the same Americans who bombed thousands of inncent Panamians to put into power the most corrupt President the country has known (and considering how corrupt the ex CIA agent the Americans threw out first that's quite an acheivement)

And of course if you want to see brutal tyrannies take a look around the Caucasus, where the Americans are actively supporting the same so as to keep the oil supplies flowing.

And real cosy the US is with Obiang in Equatorial Guinea, even though he is a corrupt brutal dictator - but then he has oil as well.

At least the Chinese only tyrannize and threaten their immediate neighbours.

Stephen Jones
Sunday, January 04, 2004

Yes Stephen, I'll grant you that - the Taliban and Hussein made the trains run on time.

So instability after the removal of a despot means the despot shouldn't have been removed?

Philo

Philo
Sunday, January 04, 2004

In order to get allies for the removal of the Taliban (who are still very much alive and kicking by the way) the US made alliances with a collection of even nastier despots.

No doubt when those despots outlive their usefulness - or to be more precise their usefulness changes to providing an excuse to win an election and take the publics mind of the latest domestic scandal - then the US will suddenly find an overwhelming need to overthrow them to liberate their people, as it did with Saddam whom it had backed to the hilt to counter the evil Iranis ,or Osama whose Al_Quaeda the CIA had trained in order to defeat the evil Russians.

To justify an invasion because the despot used chemical weapons when your own intelligence agencies provided him with the satellite pictures of Iranian troop movements so he could gas them successfully reeks of hypocrisy.

Stephen Jones
Sunday, January 04, 2004

Stephen -

We only gave Iraq satellite information regarding troop movements to mitigate the problem of our arming the country - in exchange for the release of our citizens being held hostage - which we asked Iraq to invade in the first place.

Devil's Advocate
Sunday, January 04, 2004

Dear Devil's advocate,
                                  The hostages had been released years before. If you remember they gave them to Carter a couple of days before Reagan's inauguration. Nice try though. Keep practising - the GOP always needs weasels (it would staff the White House with Frenchmen if it believed its own propoganda!)

Stephen Jones
Monday, January 05, 2004

There were other American hostages taken apart from those at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran (I believe most of the principals in this case were held in Beirut). Although I was quite young at the time and my memory of the details may be somewhat fuzzy, I can corroborate my position. For example:

"The tangled U.S. foreign-policy scandal known as the Iran-contra affair came to light in November 1986 when President Ronald REAGAN confirmed reports that the United States had secretly sold arms to Iran. He stated that the goal was to improve relations with Iran, not to obtain release of U.S. hostages held in the Middle East by terrorists (although he later acknowledged that the arrangement had in fact turned into an arms-for-hostages swap)." excerpt Groliers Encyclopedia, at http://gi.grolier.com/presidents/aae/side/irancont.html

Devil's Advocate
Monday, January 05, 2004

The Iran contra was a complete disaster. The hostages in Beiruit were held by Hezbollah, which, as a Shiite group had contacts with Iran. The visits of Cheney and others to Iraq were before the Iran contra scandal broke out. If my menory serves me correctly the Iran contra mess was carried out in 1985 t0 1986 and Reagan kept a load of people in the dark; Shultz was furious.

The reason for giving satellite pictures to Saddam and supporting him was that Iran was perceived as the enemy at the time. It seems as if the Americans never learn, but they spend all their time backing up one dictator to fight another one, and then find they need the support of new dictators to defeat their erstwhile friends.

I didn't bring the politics up on this thread but I would suggest that Americans and Brits in particular should be wary of attacking other nations politics unless they want to be tarred with the same brush.

Stephen Jones
Monday, January 05, 2004

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