Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Things fall apart: the National Intelligence Estimate

David Seaton's News Links
Like bursting a child’s toy balloon, the latest U.S. National Intelligence Estimate on Iran, which expresses the consensus of the 16 branches of the intelligence community, stated that Iran was not in the process of developing atomic weapons. Many observers believe that by issuing its report, the CIA, backed by the State Department and the Pentagon, has engineered a “palace coup” to keep Bush and Cheney from attacking Iran with catastrophic consequences for a US economy teetering on the brink of what appears to be a nasty recession. Simon Tisdall wrote in the Guardian, “That the CIA and others felt able to act in this manner is a measure of Bush's weakness and their own lingering anger over the Iraq WMD debacle.” Fred Kaplan wrote in Slate magazine, “If Bush were to order an attack under these circumstances, he would risk a major eruption in the chain of command, even a constitutional crisis”

The New York Times said, “Rarely, if ever, has a single intelligence report so completely, so suddenly, and so surprisingly altered a foreign policy debate”. Arnaud de Borchgrave of UPI added, “The latest NIE makes tougher sanctions against Iran mission impossible.” The Israeli newspaper Haaretz underlined, “However successful or flawed this report may be, there is a new, dramatic reality, in all aspects of the struggle against the Iranian bomb: The military option, American or Israeli, is off the table, indefinitely. “

Haaretz may be over optimistic. President Bush told Chicago Tribune reporter Mark Silva, “I have said Iran is dangerous, and the NIE doesn't do anything to change my opinion about the danger Iran poses to the world. Quite the contrary.” What Bush’s stubborn attitude reveals is that, as with Iraq, Iran’s supposed Weapons of Mass Destruction are merely an excuse for a project long in preparation. Helena Cobban of the of the International Institute for Strategic Studies wrote in her blog, “ever since I first came to the US in 1982, I have heard US and Israeli officials and semi-official sources claiming that Iran is "just two to five years" or thereabout away from having a nuclear weapon. I note that 1982 is now 25 years into the past and it hasn't happened yet.” Vice-President Cheney, the neocons and the powerful Israel lobby want to bring down the Ayatollahs before Iran becomes the dominant power in the Middle East. Bush’s last year in power may be their last chance. Exactly like Iraq, the confrontation with Iran is not about Weapons of Mass Destruction and certainly not about democracy or human rights. Again it’s about oil and Israel. DS

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