Friday, December 7, 2007

Look Ma', No Nukes- The NIE Report on Iran

So in the midst of saber-rattling about the threat posed by Iran's "alleged" nuclear weapons program (President Bush has warned Iranian nukes could ignite World War III), the US National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) was released this week. And what do 16 different U.S. intelligence agencies conclude? That Iran stopped its nuclear weapons program back in 2003, and has not restarted it since. The news has sent the neocon war hawks, the White House and their allies into a frenzy. President Bush, in a series of bizarre speeches, has claimed the report doesn't change anything and that Iran is still dangerous. Neocons and warhawks have spent a great deal of print and air time attempting to spin the report to their liking, or questioning its validity. We've seen this story before, during the lead up to the Iraq war. Only that time, it was behind the scenes, and the intelligence community was pressured to cherry-pick information to come out with bogus claims. After getting blamed for that fiasco in the end (as the hawks and the White House sought to cover their role in pushing for war), the intelligence community has decided they aren't getting burned twice. An awkward looking National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley, released the NIE this past Monday in full spin mode--probably only because he knew leaks were inevitable if they tried to bury it. In fact, looks as if President Bush knew the direction the NIE was going since at least August, but STILL continued its saber-rattling. And this guy still isn't impeachable?

So here we are, at an interesting place, where the main drumbeating for war has been interrupted by intelligence reports that come (ironically enough) from the very country that has been doing the most saber-rattling. What do with this pause? The hawks and neo-cons have been busily shoring up support from the Europeans and others. Iran has declared the NIE a victory. World bodies like the UN are moving cautiously. And the White House is still into spin, spin, spin. Three articles below that attempt to shed some light on the meaning of the NIE and where things can, and should, go from here, from three of my favorite writers: an earlier Nov piece by author Trita Parsi, Robert Scheer at the Nation and Juan Cole at

The Iranian Challenge
by Trita Parsi

Iran will be the top foreign policy challenge for the United States in the coming years. The Bush Administration's policy (insistence on zero enrichment of uranium, regime change and isolation of Iran) and the policy of the radicals around President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (unlimited civilian nuclear capability, selective inspections and replacing the United States as the region's dominant power) have set the two countries on a collision course. Yet the mere retirement of George W. Bush's neocons or Ahmadinejad's radicals may not be sufficient to avoid the disaster of war.

The ill-informed foreign policy debate on Iran contributes to a paradigm of enmity between the United States and Iran, which limits the foreign policy options of future US administrations to various forms of confrontation while excluding more constructive approaches. These policies of collision are in no small part born of the erroneous assumptions we adopted about Iran back in the days when we could afford to ignore that country. But as America sinks deeper into the Iraqi quicksand, remaining in the dark about the realities of Iran and the actual policies of its decision-makers is no longer an option.

full article:

Bush on Iran: Fool Me Twice
by Robert Scheer

Bush is such a liar. Or is he just out to lunch on the most important issue that he faces? In October, he charged that Iran's nuclear weapons program was bringing the world to the precipice of World War III, even though the White House had been informed at least a month earlier that Iran had no such program and had stopped efforts to develop one back in 2003

full article:

The GOP's Iran Option is Off the Table

Rudy Giuliani was counting on Iran as a weapon of mass distraction in the '08 race. But the flailing Republican right has just been disarmed.

By Juan Cole

Dec. 11, 2007 | The conclusions of the latest National Intelligence Estimate regarding Iran's lack of a nuclear weapons program will have a profound impact on the 2008 presidential campaign. The report may well prove a key element in throwing the election to the Democrats. Republicans have used the alleged nuclear threat posed by Iran to scare the American public and to turn attention away from Iraq, economic troubles and Republican scandals. But the NIE findings have pulled the rug out from under the Grand Old Party.

full article:


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