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December 04, 2007

The Iran NIE: Should We Be Happy?

Arthur Silber throws some useful cold water in everyone's face:

Let us start with the most crucial point. The reaction from all quarters to the NIE relies on several interrelated central assumptions, ones that are regarded as so unquestionably true that no one thinks they need to be stated: that major policy decisions, including decisions of war and peace, are based on intelligence in the first place; that a decision to go to war is one made only after cool and careful rational deliberation; and that nations go to war for the reasons they announce to the world.


Read it all.

I agree mostly, but not completely, with Arthur's take. Certainly the new NIE changes nothing about the bipartisan policy that we must run the middle east, which in turns means we must crush Iran. However, it may change the cost/benefit ratio perceived by our sane evil leaders about how we go about the crushing. It also strengthens the hand of our sane evil leaders vis a vis their insane evil rivals. Strangling and subversion may become more likely, and direct military assault less so.

Posted at December 4, 2007 07:26 PM

On the contrary. We seem to have learned quite a lesson in Iraq, as the release of the report suggests.
Yes, we shall "crush" Iran, but not with bombs or missiles. Rather, with American love and sharing of emotional tidbits, with support groups and focus on self-esteem, with human development psychology so that every Iranian can reach his or her full potential, with Oprah-like caring and with solution-oriented spirituality, with 7-step and 12-step programs.
Soon, Iranian society will be like ours, watching sit-coms and sports and reciting little warm and humorous essays on Iranian Public Radio.
Then, the end won't be far away. Victory through Love! America Ueber Alles, in a warm and cuddly kind of way, of course.

Posted by: donescobar at December 4, 2007 08:21 PM

No way Bush would have allowed that NIE if he hadn't agreed with it. In that sense, Arthur is right.
Seems a face-saving way for Bush take a pass on bomb, bomb, bomb / bomb, bomb Iran.

Posted by: Bernard Chazelle at December 4, 2007 08:29 PM

I'm going to have disagree with Bernard, here. Bush was just on today saying how he believed Iran is, was, and will be dangerous and how we must prevent them from gaining the KNOWLEDGE of how to make a bomb. Bush still wants to go.

Posted by: Rojo at December 4, 2007 08:51 PM

Rojo: I surely hope I'm right. But, with Bush, everything is possible, so who knows? Your pessimism might well be warranted.
It would be a gigantic humiliation for Bush, though, if he hadn't been able to tone down the language of the NIE. I am sure there might be a certain amount of "payback time" from the intelligence agencies for all the crap they had to take for their failures. But on balance I still have to go with the assumption that Bush is OK with it.
If the Kagan/Kristol/Podhoretz crew stays calm, then I think that'll prove you are right.

Posted by: Bernard Chazelle at December 4, 2007 09:35 PM

Bush smells the exit. He wants something(s) to "balance" seven years of failure and buddy-buddy corporate feeding at the federal troth.
Push Israel (after killing off Hamas) to make nice with Abbas, open up Iran (as in "open up China" by his predecessor)--and bingo, a legacy is made.
The pundits will be buying it and trumpeting it in ten years.

Posted by: donescobar at December 4, 2007 09:42 PM

This just in:
Bush announces visit to ME in January.
The legacy offensive has started.

Posted by: donescobar at December 4, 2007 09:57 PM

"legacy offensive"

I love it!

Posted by: Bernard Chazelle at December 5, 2007 12:23 AM

Astutely planning, Iran out maneuvers GWDCetal. Understanding the possession of a nuke meant the death knell, Iran moves away from the suicidal trek far enough in advance so as to let the steam out of the war machine's locomotive. At least for a moment. A long enough moment so as to remove one real reason that Iran had not been allowed into the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. Fear of an impending U.S. attack.

Presto, magic, this time next year, they are in safe and secure in the blanket of China and Russia. From an August 2007 article:

'For different reasons, Washington would like to see that such an eventuality is averted for the foreseeable future. As regards Iran, Washington would see its SCO membership as a setback to its robust diplomatic campaign to isolate that country.'

Scrambling to save the bucks, GW will go all out personally to seek diplomatic unions, but his hands have too much blood on them for others to shake publicly. And the money's bettor elsewhere.

My hunch is that when history glances back at the time of GWDCetal, it will chapter the U.S.'s suicide by non-diplomacy as the U.S. became known to be the impotent debtor nation that it really was. Having been dealt the hand of the century (9/11), GWDCetal will have squandered the resulting golden goose of a world united for a squeeze on a handful of oozing oil.

Posted by: Steve at December 5, 2007 12:59 AM

The Decider will decide. We are allowed to watch.

GW Bush, Oct 2, 2002: "The Constitution of the United States designates the President of the United States as Commander-in-Chief. The Congress of the United States plays a role, and I believe that this process we are about to embark on is the appropriate role that Congress should carry out its responsibilities. But at the end of the day, the final, most serious responsibility of sending young American men and women into harm's way rests with the President of the United States."

US Constitution:

Article I - The legislative Branch
Section 8 - Powers of Congress
To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water;

Article II - The Executive Branch
Section 2 - Civilian Power over Military, Cabinet, Pardon Power, Appointments
The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States

Posted by: Don Bacon at December 5, 2007 01:53 AM

It is as if German intelligence would've released a report in 1938 showing that the Sudetenland ethnic Germans weren't actually mistreated by the Czech at all; it wouldn't really change anything because Hitler's aim was expansion and not the stated goal of saving Germans from oppression.

Posted by: Non Nato at December 5, 2007 09:40 AM

A question: Does it matter what "ordinary" people think, about Iran, or about anything else? Or is it all just about what the "decider" wants?

Governments (not just our government) seem to believe it does matter what we think, at least judging by the amount of effort they put into lying to us.

And if it does matter what we think, then this NIE report is good news. If it doesn't, then it's not.

Posted by: SteveB at December 5, 2007 12:04 PM

Why now? Just a guess: Annapolis.

Posted by: sam at December 5, 2007 12:26 PM

IMPEACHMENT IS THE ANSWER to all these and many other questions. I urge YOU to move toward that end. Call Nancy Pelosi @1-202-225-0100 and DEMAND IMPEACHMENT.

Posted by: Mike Meyer at December 5, 2007 01:38 PM

You can call Nancy Pelosi and demand impeachment and butterscotch ice cream for all the good that would do, 'cause you're not going to get either. And why should she? She knows, just like everyone else, knows, that YOU will vote for whatever corporate-owned scumbag they choose. Pelosi has no incentive what-so-ever.

Posted by: AlanSmithee at December 5, 2007 01:54 PM

I agree with Rojo, but am as optimistic as Bernard. It shows that other parts of the US government (e.g, career intelligence, maybe the Pentagon) are finally able and willing to interrupt neocon plans.

By one account I heard, this NIE was essentially written six months ago, and there has been an internal struggle over it ever since. Is it too much to hope that Bush's unpopularity, his past failures, his lame duck status, the departure of key lackeys, etc are finally sapping this administration's power?

Posted by: Whistler Blue at December 5, 2007 01:55 PM

The difference being, BushCo has no goodwill, no trust, no more of that "capital" he bragged about in Nov. '04, and they staked all their fearmongering on the nookyooler threat, which has now been yanked out from under them. Sure, they could still do it, but it would take insanity and hubris on a truly Hitlerian level to try and attack now.

Posted by: . at December 5, 2007 02:46 PM

Is Alan Smithee picking fights with Mike Meyer? Or is it that ATR is a Democratic booster group and no one had the decency to tell me?

Posted by: StO at December 5, 2007 04:24 PM

Is Alan Smithee picking fights with Mike Meyer?

It's just Alan's thing - hump IOZ's leg, make sneering comments about "pwoggies", bwahaha, Dems are so stupid!!11!,rinse, repeat, etc. He seems to be about sixteen.

Posted by: at December 5, 2007 04:34 PM

Well, duh, it's not as if the Bushies care about intel except as a casus belli. And I've read several accounts that observe we still can't trust Bush, Cheney and the gang, as of course we can't. But this is good news.

Granted, many reporters and pundits are behind the curve, but I don't know that many people who really believed that the Bushies were trying to make wise decisions on Iraq, or now with Iran, or hell, anything. Arthur Silber often makes interesting points, but at times it really seems he assumes that others possess a naivete they just don't (I think he misreads Digby, and uncharitably, for instance). Regardless, the NIE changes the landscape politically and in terms of media coverage, but it is indeed important to remember we're not in the clear yet (if ever; some of the Dems' statements on Iran during the NPR debate were pretty dreadful).

Posted by: Batocchio at December 5, 2007 04:37 PM

In a way, it's fun to listen to them say, "But wait! Iran IS SO a threat"; I like the feeling that they've temporarily lost control of the narrative. But this is merely a stumbling block, and the sick pugilists will have in a few weeks put behind them the fact that there is no Iranian nuclear weapons program and resume the drive for war full throttle. It'll be like this NIE never happened.

I agree the Democrats ARE evil... I just don't see myself voting for one for president. Which Democrat would you actually vote for? I'm still holding out for the Kucinich or Gravel nomination, but....

Posted by: StO at December 5, 2007 06:44 PM

AlanSmithee. I'm very much afraid that YOU ARE WRONG---I'm voting for MICHAEL MEYER.

Posted by: Mike Meyer at December 5, 2007 07:23 PM

StO asks

I agree the Democrats ARE evil... I just don't see myself voting for one for president. Which Democrat would you actually vote for? I'm still holding out for the Kucinich or Gravel nomination, but....

At my website you can see a picture of the Re-Elect Gore 08 button, which I clipped from Buzzflash. I'd gladly vote for Kucinich, but don't think he has any chance to be nominated. Edwards has rhetorically aligned himself against the MICFiC*, Dodd says he's in favor of the Constitution, and Richardson says he'd actually end the occupation of Iraq (if I have understood him correctly). All these are positives from my perspective.

Would it be worth it to vote for a "sane evil leader" vs. an "insane evil rival"? I have to admit I can't decide right now.

DISCLAIMER - All this discussion assumes that the votes determine the results. There's no assurance this is true.

*MICFiC is an acronym for

M ilitary
I ndustrial
C ongressional
Fi nancial
C orporate Media Complex.

While recognizing that there are power struggles within it, the MICFiC term postulates a common purpose - to use, abuse, and confuse the populace - putting it metaphorically, to milk, shear, and slaughter the sheeple.

Posted by: mistah charley, ph.d. at December 6, 2007 10:29 AM

The Iraq boondoogle is the first time the mass mainstream public learned they had been lied to, bamboozled and stampeded to war - while the war was still being waged. The post-911 public initially supported the invasion because they were kowwed by fear, hysteria and needed a nanny.

Fast forward six years. The public has gotten wiser and stiff spines have come back in fashion, crawling out of their duct-tape turtle shells with a healthy dose of anger and "fool me once, shame on you" skepticism.

What we are seeing this week with the exposure of the NIE report on Iran is the first time the mass mainstream public learned they were lied to war - before the shooting even began. It is a momentous day!

The likelihood of war today and tomorrow is much more remote that it was last week. Naturally, that doesn't mean Bush, Cheney (and perhaps even Mossad) won't plant evidence, tell more lies and cook up false-flag ops to provoke the war of their masturbatory dreams.

Posted by: billy bob tweed at December 6, 2007 10:56 AM