Soob

Politics, Foreign Policy, Current Events and Occasional Outbursts Lacking Couth

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Backpedaling?


Not even slightly...And that's a problem.

At least as far as I'm concerned. Regardless of the seeming uncertainties involved in the "high" or "moderate" or "moderate-to-high" confidence the NIE's* latest report entails, the idea that President Bush simply tosses this assortment aside and pushes ahead with his rhetoric regarding Iran is tantamount to either a feeble minded idiot savant wanting a particularly colorful lollipop or a frustrated leader unwilling to let go of the last "Big Bang" that will define his legacy and bring the delusion of "democracy" to the Middle East. I'm simply befuddled by Bush's reaction to this "latest" report (hard to believe he only read it last week) today:

"Iran was dangerous, Iran is dangerous and Iran will be dangerous if they have the know-how to make a nuclear weapon,"

Ah. And that's well and enough to piss on diplomatic efforts, push for further sanctions and maybe utilize the firepower of one (or all) of the three CSG's in the Persian Gulf, is it? An NIE report details the scaling down of the Iranian nuclear program and the answer is to simply ratchet up pressure?

I've never been much for proclamations of the "absolute," believing instead that most circumstances contain more details then they've yet been afforded. In this situation, however, I'll hang my ass out a bit and toss a bone to the dogs of certainty regarding our President Bush. This fellow's not on the even keel of executive decision making as far as Iran is concerned. And believe me, I've imagined or put forth much conjecture otherwise and I've tossed my lot in with him twice at the ballot box. And yet here we are where some inkling of geo-political equilibrium in the Middle East could begin (imagine that in collusion with the Annapolis talks) and yet the reaction is thus. In two words; sad and frightening.

* I've got two avenues for the NIE:

If you're not at work then read a synopsis (and the commentary) at Swedish Meatballs Confidential (evocative women and intelligent insight...the only thing missing is a pint of stout...) otherwise DNI has the PDI here.

Addendum: Via Tom Barnett:

"You have to realize: if the National Intell Council releases this NIE now, then the Bush White House has had all this info for many months and is still pushing WWIII rhetoric.

If that does not strike you as abject and dishonest fearmongering, then you're too far gone."

A week ago I'd have cocked an eyebrow at the essence of the above...

9 comments:

Adrian said...

"Iran was dangerous, Iran is dangerous and Iran will be dangerous if they have the know-how to make a nuclear weapon"

You can say that about anyone!

"Texas was dangerous, Texas is dangerous and Texas will be dangerous if they have the know-how to make a nuclear weapon"

"Amnesty International was dangerous, Amnesty International is dangerous and Amnesty International will be dangerous if they have the know-how to make a nuclear weapon"

Arherring said...

I wonder what would happen if the U.S. suddely flip-flopped on Iran? Lifing all sanctions, standing up at the U.N. and announcing that we hold out our hand in unconditional friendship, and extending full diplomatic relations to Iran.

What would happen to their radicals? What would happen to their westernizing younger middle/upper class? How would it affect regimes like North Korea?

subadei said...

Arherring, I think it's blow a lot of the hot air out of the fanatics sails. It'd be pretty tough to put on a "death to America" rally. I think Israel would likely squawk quite loudly and it would make the "Jewish lobby" conspiracy all that more ridiculous.

Funny you mention North Korea as right on the heels of the NIE Pres. Bush wrote a letter to Dear Leader to be delivered by Chris Hill. Details here

subadei said...

Adrian, yep he's stubbornly refusing any notion of diplomacy and sounding completely ridiculous at the same time.

Ymarsakar said...

Why do you think classified information leaked to make Bush look bad is going to be better than CIA Tenet's "slam dunk" promise?

Ymarsakar said...

The problem with Bush is he favors diplomacy too much and will always do so for the time he is in office.

Even now, the BBC has distorted his position and the information the President is using to make his policy decisions.

Adrian said...

It's John Podhoretz in disguise...

subadei said...

I'm a bit baffled, ymarsakar. What element of the NIE was "leaked?" Could you clarify? Am I misinterpreting?

Furthermore, could you expound a bit on the BBC distortions? I'd like to know any and every facet of this subject.

Ymarsakar said...

It's John Podhoretz in disguise...

I don't see the point of your comment, Adrian. I wonder if you have one.

What element of the NIE was "leaked?"

The American officials who described the highly classified operation, which led to one of the biggest reversals in the history of American nuclear intelligence, declined to describe how the notes were obtained.

But they said that the Central Intelligence Agency and other agencies had organized a “red team” to determine if the new information might have been part of an elaborate disinformation campaign mounted by Iran to derail the effort to impose sanctions against it.

In the end, American intelligence officials rejected that theory, though they were challenged to defend that conclusion in a meeting two weeks ago in the White House situation room, in which the notes and deliberations were described to the most senior members of President Bush’s national security team, including Vice President Dick Cheney. “It was a pretty vivid exchange,” said one participant in the conversation.


Last time I checked, the BBC and the New York Times weren't in the business of being in legitimate contact with US government sources on what intelligence estimates are given or not given to the US President.

I mean legitimate as in being in legitimate contact due to an administration policy that rewards good stories over harmful ones, but the NYTimes, let alone the BBC, does not have such a relationship with the US administration in which it is recognized that to maintain access certain harmful subjects must never be mentioned.

So while the Key Judgements and certain portions of the NIE were declassified, probably for political reasons, the New York Times puts a good argument out that they had access to classified information as well.

Ah. And that's well and enough to piss on diplomatic efforts, push for further sanctions and maybe utilize the firepower of one (or all) of the three CSG's in the Persian Gulf, is it?

You simply take as the only data point souce for your reaction against Bush by reading what the BBC said Bush said? Nobody is immune to propaganda and nobody here has suddenly become immune. Nor has the BBC changed their policy of selective quotation, especially not in relation to what the US President has said.

The question of what Bush said really has to do what you think he said. I see things differently, most probably.

If you see Bush as meaning this,

"the idea that President Bush simply tosses this assortment aside and pushes ahead with his rhetoric regarding Iran..."

then you will have the BBC distortion. It is true, it is indeed an idea. But it is an idea propagated by propaganda apparatuses.

Link

I tend to agree with what Neo-Neocon wrote here.

He makes the interesting point that, if Iran did indeed stop its bomb development program back in 2003 (and it is by no means certain that it did), the most likely precipitating factor would have been the invasion of Iraq. In addition, the report itself indicated that the new information leading to the NIE’s conclusions may have been a psychops by the Iranians. And, if it was not, and if we do have a reliable source high in the Iranian government, Fernandez wonders whether the gratuitous publication of some of the details as to how that intelligence was obtained has compromised the safety of that person.

Oh, but who cares, if there’s a good story, and if it appears to hurt Bush? Well worth it.

If you detect a tone of bitterness in my voice, it’s because I’m tired of the politically motivated release of classified information. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, this is what Fernandez has to say about the fact that the report was based on notes obtained “from the deliberations of Iranian military officials involved in the weapons development program:”


Whether the Democrats knew about this release ahead of time or not, is questionable, but it is true that all of this is simply information campaigns being run on a political template. Perhaps the intel community wishes to cover their backs by releasing their Key Judgements just in case.

It is an absolute certainty, however, that Bush didn't want such things released. Bush is notoriously tight lipped about saying anything about anything related to military affairs and internal foreign policy arguments.

This is simply another example of the media taking a shot against someone that has the power to fight back, but hasn't and won't even though he could. Perhaps this was coordinated with the Democrats, perhaps not. Doesn't really matter in the end. The question is about "which faction gets to benefit from dealing with Iran".