Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Intel assessment nukes ‘Iran nukes’ hysteria

George W. Bush in January 2007:

I take the Iranian nuclear threat very seriously, even though the intel on Iraq was not what it was thought to be.

Happily not too many people seem to be taking this man very seriously at all of late.

Iran hasn’t had a nuclear weapons programme since 2003, a stunning new assessment released by US intelligence agencies has found.

Perhaps this is a tad premature, but this could be the final nail in the coffin of the credibility of this clown and his troupe.

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Anonymous Dylan said...

I saw that this morning, Jacob, but I'm not sure what it is going to prove.

It was another NIE that helped make the case for the Iraq War. To quote one take on the pre-Iraq NIE:

"On October 1, 2002, Tenet produced a declassified NIE. But Graham and Durbin were outraged to find that it omitted the qualifications and countervailing evidence that had characterized the classified version and played up the claims that strengthened the administration's case for war. For instance, the intelligence report cited the much-disputed aluminum tubes as evidence that Saddam "remains intent on acquiring" nuclear weapons. And it claimed, "All intelligence experts agree that Iraq is seeking nuclear weapons and that these tubes could be used in a centrifuge enrichment program"--a blatant mischaracterization. Subsequently, the NIE allowed that "some" experts might disagree but insisted that "most" did not, never mentioning that the DOE's expert analysts had determined the tubes were not suitable for a nuclear weapons program. The NIE also said that Iraq had "begun renewed production of chemical warfare agents"--which the DIA report had left pointedly in doubt."

That declassified NIE helped make the Bush administrations case for the war in Iraq and made what we now know to be some pretty silly claims. Nukes? WMD? They just didn't find any.

So is this latest report to be taken at face value? Has the credibility of the reporting agencies improved since 2003?

I would hope it could be and that indeed the credibility is somewhat restored.

Yet if an estimate could be so wrong last time isn't it reasonable that we not embrace this one all to quickly as proof positive that people who imagine that Iran might be after nukes are wrong?

4/12/07 11:56 PM  
Anonymous Jacob said...

True enough, the flipside of this latest assessment could be that it is being deliberately cautious (or even over-cautious?) with a view to not repeating the exhorbitant claims made last time.

Presumably it's guided somewhat by IAEA assessments, which (from memory) have been all over the place in recent times -- perhaps due to political expectations?

One would expect anyway US intel will be going to great lengths to 'get it right' this time. It's of course incredibly important if the US wants to avoid any further loss of international poltical capital.

And that's something the Leader of the Free World cannot afford. Nor those of us who believe that the Free World can still salvage a semblance of being that 'beacon' to the rest of the world, etc.

5/12/07 12:22 AM  
Blogger Father Park said...

Hi Dylan. Yes, I agree, these NIEs are what they are: estimates. That used and bandied about by the administration was "cooked" though - as you say. Tenet has since, as we know, "revised" his view.

Iran? My view is that, yes, they’d love the weapon. Do they have it? Not yet and it is not likely near – in a sense that it can be delivered. Matters little if you’ve the deadliest weapon in the world if you can’t lob it beyond Pasargadae.

All that said, the Iraq nonsense – and it was nonsense – has absolutely crippled US credibility on any of these issues. It will be the abiding legacy of this absolutely incompetent and over-reactionary administration.

Remove the arsehole ideologues from the administration policy (as they now have been from the administration) and nothing surprises. The US is a world hegemon. Sure there is the EU; sure there is China and sure there is the rising Asia. The difference is that none of the aforementioned (for the present) can back their economic clout with the military sophistication and delivery of the US.

What has transpired in the Middle East (under US purview) is simply what a hegemon does: secure its interests. The players are simply that – tokens to be moved and used.

The war in Iraq was not ever fought for the furtherance of democracy. The war in Iraq was never fought on behalf of oppressed, disenfranchised Iraqis seeking a voice. The war in Iraq was fought to secure resources. Not to, necessarily, gift those resources to US interests but to guarantee US access into the future. This is what hegemonic powers do.

As this is not Harry’s site I will indulge an historical illustration. In the Fifth century BC Athens ruled the Aegean and considerable parts of mainland Greece. In 436/5 she took an inordinate interest in two of her trading rival’s colonies: Corcyra (Korfu) and Epidamnos (now in Albania). It lead to war with Sparta. Why? Because these controlled the grain, precious metals and – more importantly – timber trade with the west and Sicily.

As the excellent historian Peter Green observed: “An empire without bread starves. An empire without precious metals soon is unable to support itself. A naval empire without timber rapidly becomes a contradiction in terms”.

I might observe that an industrial world hegemon without secure access to oil rapidly becomes a contradiction in terms.

5/12/07 12:41 AM  

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