Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Wisco Reacts to the Iran NIE

While I'm not terribly surprised that may on the right side of the Cheddarsphere are going down with the Bush Administration's foreign policy ship, it is interesting to note just how they are spinning what can only be seen as a unequivocal embarrassment for the President.

Yesterday I looked at how the rest of the world was responding to the Iran NIE, so now it only seems reasonable to take a look at the local reaction:

Mary Eden doesn't think the Democrats have done enough to get tough on Iran's belligerent language:

It really makes me sick that these Dem candidates prefer to bash Bush and the "neocons" for saber-rattling rather than holding Ahmadinejad accountable for his defiance of the world community and his threatening, inflammatory rhetoric.

Never mind the fact that American neocons aren't saber-rattling -- they actually want to bomb Iran. The Iranians, on the other hand, can't really be accused of saber-rattling because -- thank God -- it turns out they don't have a saber to rattle. Little details like this are good to know when engaging in international affairs.

Jessica McBride pens an absolutely incomprehensible post on the matter that begins with this breath-taking lede:

Funny how it's now the Democrats who are staking crucial foreign policy questions by assuming the validity of national intelligence estimates, this time relating to Iran.

Funny? Are they simply supposed to ignore NIEs all together? Most Democrats assumed the validity of the last NIE and developed their policy positions around that intelligence product. Now, it turns out that the original NIE was incorrect, but that the reality of the revised NIE actually give greater credence to their position ... and it's not the Democrats that are wrong, but it's the NIE? McNride is going to have to do better than that.

She should start by reconsidering the very next thing she says:

Let's hope those intelligence estimates - much assailed by Democrats for their past inaccuracy on Iraq - are right this time.

What does she by "assailed"? They were proven to be wrong. The intelligence that was used as the reason for going to war with Iraq was "vetted" through a special Pentagon team known as the Office of Special Plans, which has been the subject of much criticism since the beginning of the invasion. In today's Washington Post David Ignatius dishes on how the CIA set up a special internal office -- free from political pressure -- to evaluate Iranian nuclear capabilities. In other words, this report is the product of intelligence analysis as it is intended to be done.

But, none of this really matters to McBride, because the flawed Iraqi intel is meaningless:

I'd rather have the situation in Iraq, than inaction based on estimates that are wrong and consequently end up with a nuclear Iran in my lifetime. At least in Iraq, we deposed a belligerent tyrant who gassed women and children and wanted to get nukes to destroy Israel.

You heard it here first, folks: Jessica McBride, cunning strategic thinker that she is,wants more cowbell in the Middle East.

Patrick McIlheran carries water for several prominent neocons, who are basically saying, "But how can we trust this NIE?" Well, the burden of proof is now on you guys and short of plucking a Shahab Missile with one of those atomic symbols painted on the side out of Tehran, no one will believe the Bomb Iran crowd. McIlheran also parrots much of Bush's absolutely embarrassing press conference yesterday by reminding is readers that this NIE shows that at least Iran did have a nuclear program and blah blah blah ...

McIlheran even goes so far as to lap up the sheer bullshit that the NIE actually represents a victory for the Bush doctrine:

But, as Joscelyn and Victor Davis Hanson both say, the natural question now is that if Iran indeed did stop working on a nuke in 2003, might that show "that Iran, like Libya, likely came to a conjecture (around say early spring 2003?) that it was not wise for regimes to conceal WMD programs, given the unpredictable, but lethal American military reaction"?

This is nothing like Libya. If Iran's ending of its nuclear program was contingent on the success of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, why didn't it restart the program back up when the American troops began to get bogged down and it appeared increasing impossible for the military to conduct three separate wars in three different countries in the Middle East? Wouldn't that be more demonstrative of a genuine intent to create a nuclear program?

These are essentially the three tracks that the right is using to defend what is without question a humiliating, if not catastrophic, loss of American credibility in the international arena. We've been discussing possible hostile action against Iran for several years now in exactly the same way that the dialog over Iraq was conducted before the invasion. Despite the lessons we should have learned from our misadventures in Baghdad, the Bush Administration came close to falling into the same trap again.

It's not the Democrats, it's not the intelligence community, it's not the foreign policy establishment, its not the media -- but it is the Bush Administration. Oddly enough, Bush is missing from many posts against the Iran NIE, which should be seen as an almost conscious unwillingness to discuss the most local aspect of this development -- the President's utter incompetence with foreign affairs.

See this discussion between former CIA official Larry Johnson and ex-diplomat Victor Comras. Comras brings up the canard that Iranian leadership can not be trusted to make "rational" decisions. This argument now gets increasingly less credible in light of the new NIE because US intel is now saying that that Iran has, in fact, made a very rational decision by giving up its nuclear program in 2003.

MORE: Kevin Drum on the Ignatius article ... Iran scholar Farideh Farhi on Bush's press conference ... Matt Dupius is tracking developments ... Haaretz: "The time has come for U.S. to persue talks with Iran"... Joe Scarborough gets in on the action ... Shaun Mullen on Cheney's role:

There are indications that Cheney tried to suppress the NIE findings, which the White House has known about for at least a month or two as the noise machine shifted into higher gear with “leaked” reports of fleet maneuvers in the Persian Gulf and preparations for military strikes. When the veep was unable to halt release of a summary of the report, he successfully blocked release of key findings that would further embarrass the administration.

And then National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley delivered the coup de grâce by claiming that the report didn’t undercut the administration’s hysterical war-drum beating. Besides which, it wasn’t completed until a few days ago. (Wink, wink. Nod, nod.)

And George Friedman (here, too) has a few things to say.

EVEN MORE: This is too rich!

For a thorough on-going examination of the NIE check out the Arms Control Wonk, Jeffery Lewis.

1 comment:

CJ said...

Bush just loves that "fear factor".

Let's just pray that Congress doesn't buy the pile of **** this time.

Man, the dude just loves his war ****.