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I indicated to Yannis and Umberto that I would be happy to display or link to any information they provided on this blog and Umberto has requested that I post an email (which is similar to one on the – closed – WAC mailing list) that he sent to me. The full text is below. He also feels that the vote was not as close as I suggested in my blog to which I have replied that it is simply my recollection, as someone with a view of about 2/3 of the chamber. I am willing to be corrected by any independent authority on this matter. I am still concerned that no effort has been made to correct the misinterpretations of those in the press and blogosphere that read the earlier Press Release and continue to encourage Yannis and Umberto to do so.

Dear Leif,

Many thanks for your email. I’ll let Yannis deal with most of the issues you
raise as I believe he is in a more appropriate position to do so, but I would
like to clarify the point in which you call me into cause. In fact it is a
point that seems to have generated some really unnecessary confusion and which
I have already clarified more than once with Claire – sorry Claire you are now
going to hear this one again! – and I have also sent a message to the WAC list
about this (that for some strange reason not all members seem to have received
– a technical itch)

You mention that there were amendments made at the plenary, in fact made by
myself. I would like to clarify that there were no amendments whatsoever made
either by myself or anybody else. What happened at the plenary is that the
chairman (assuming an authority that he really should have not had) decided to
split the resolution into two. The two separate parts of the resolution were
both carried by the plenary. The resolution was split to allow separate votes,
and since the two votes generated the same result, in terms of the opinion of
the plenary it makes absolute sense to reestablish the resolution to its
original format.
Concerning the advice passed to the assembly (and eventually to the executive)
the only obvious slight rewording that became necessary was that by divorcing
the second paragraph from the first the reference to Iran had gone. I made this
absolutely clear at the plenary: the resolution only concerned Iran and not
just any relationship with the military. It is very unfortunate that despite my
clarification and despite what I believe should have been obvious the second
part of the resolution was not discussed by the executive – I assume in totally
good faith – for what it was but it was rather taken to mean any relationship
with the military. This mistake has become clear from the information provided
by Claire including the justifications why the executive decided not to follow
the advice of the plenary on the second paragraph. The splitting of the
original resolution has therefore created unncessary confusion and Yannis has
been right in reestablishing it to its orginal format. I hope you will consider
this clarification and what I am telling you now in the information you will
provide in your blog. I am confident that we are both keen to present the
evidence honestly and clearly, independently from our potential differences of
opinion. If there are still grey areas, please do get back in touch.




  1. So the problem, it seems to me from these and other postings I’ve seen on the subject, is that the original proposal was not worded as clearly as it might have been. Even when the two paragraphs formed a single proposal, it was ambiguous as to whether the second refered to all conflict or to a putative invasion of Iran only. The addition of “in specific regard to the motion addressing Iran above” was made to clarify this in the case of two separate proposals, but then omitted by the proposer when the proposals were re-merged in the press release (on the assumption that the limitation was now clear, which it wasn’t).

    It remains true, however, that it is much harder to correct a story than to disseminate a misleading one (since corrections make less jazzy headlines), especially if the slightly incorrect version suggests an outcome you would have approved anyway. Note that I’m not suggesting any dishonesty or machievellianism here, only natural forces in the media.

    Have you written to New Scientist letters page to correct this story, by the way? It might be better coming from someone who was there and can report events first hand.

  2. I agree entirely. Whatever the original aims were, the fact is that was widely misinterpreted by bloggers and members of the WAC mailing list. Claire (the WAC president and Umberto) have taken steps to clarify the situation for the mailing list. I’ve told those those bloggers I know and raise dthe issue. I’m a little reluctant to personally chase up each avenue though, now that the issuers are aware of the situation. I feel it would be more appropriate for them to do so and I’m not sure I entirely understand their reluctance.

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