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Sunday, February 17, 2008

About face on NIE on Iran has gone unnoticed

In the weekend JPost, editor David Horovitz discusses the about-face that took place last week on the National Intelligence Estimate on Iran. The change in tune, which came in February 5 testimony by Admiral Michael McConnell before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, has gone largely unnoticed in the media and as a result has had little effect:
Typifying the American media's top-of-the-news coverage of the original, incompetently phrased NIE, The New York Times splashed it across page one on December 4, complete with numerous substories and sidebars, under headlines hailing the "Major Reversal" in the Iran threat assessment and the likelihood that the "New Intelligence May Force a Reshaping of Bush's Policy."

Typifying the American media's entirely indifferent coverage of McConnell's volte face last week, the Times did not so much as headline it at all - not on page one, and not on any other page, either. Rather, it buried what it called McConnell's belated "calibration" of the NIE's thrust, encapsulated in a few paragraphs, deep inside an article that headlined comments he made in the same Senate appearance about al-Qaida's improving ability to strike within the US.

When the original, exculpatory NIE was published, Iran's would-be-Israel-eliminating President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad hailed "victory," the international sanctions effort stalled, Russia began shipping fuel to the reactor it had built for the Iranians at Bushehr and Ahmadinejad's regime merrily intensified its declared centrifuge installations and operations at Natanz. Meanwhile, President Bush found himself accused by political rivals and other critics of having unwarrantably, even dishonestly, overhyped the threat posed by Iran. Some of the more hysterical voices went so far as to charge that his administration had been deliberately skewing the intelligence on Iran's nuclear drive to justify thrusting the United States into another unnecessary war.

McConnell's barely noticed reversal has changed none of that. It has done nothing to dent Ahmadinejad's public confidence that nobody is going to stop the Iranian drive now, and nothing to suggest to Iran that it need halt what McConnell acknowledged last week was the range of dual-purpose activities that daily bring it ever-closer to a nuclear weapons capability. The admiral's climbdown has injected no new urgency, and no stronger teeth, into the weak and snail-paced UN-centered sanctions effort. It has prompted no rethink by Moscow about assisting Teheran's "peaceful" nuclear programs. And with this US administration now counting down its final months, his "recalibration" has restored no credibility to Bush's efforts to thwart Iran - credibility that was swept away when the shattering original NIE essentially removed his administration's military option.
The way things look now, Israel is going to be left to deal with Iran alone:
If, as Ze'evi-Farkash is by no means the only observer to assert, the initial NIE was a function of the politicization of American intelligence, a report deliberately oriented to deprive Bush of the legitimacy for last-resort military intervention, it would appear to have achieved its goal. Indeed, whatever the motivation for that astonishing inarticulacy, the result has been the same: Iran off the hook, the US hamstrung, and Israel left to look after its existential interests with time running short and without so much as a supportive international climate.

Iran, state sponsor of the late, unlamented Imad Mughniyeh, is moving serenely toward the bomb, directly threatening Israel, on the point of remaking not just the regional but the global balance of power, and potentially threatening all American and free-world interests.
Keep that in mind when you go to the polls in November. Hopefully, the Americans will at least let the IAF fly through Iraqi airspace to get there.


At 5:52 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

It doesn't help that the U.S. State Dept, Defense Dept and intelligence departments all o.k. the Energy Dept's subsidizing of Russian nuclear institutes that make parts for Iranian nuclear reactors.


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