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04 December 2007

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Walrus

Col. Lang wrote:

"What is not comprehensible is that their fear somehow captured the "minds" of the present population of of the White House, the NSC staff and the office of the Vice President. The tail has truly been wagging the dog. The interests and attitudes of a small client state have been allowed to seize control of the policy of an ecumenical empire. Was not this surrender and acceptance of capture an abandonment of the sacred oath sworn to the Constitution of the United States?"

Well now it seems I've got my Christmas present. This is the first ray of sunshine I've seen this whole year.

What has been bleedin' obvious for years is now in the mainstream media. Let's just hope that the Neocons and AIPAC have run out of aces.

Time will tell if America regains its senses and dismantles the Gulags and torture chambers, throws out the Patriot Act and FISA, and starts behaving somewhat according to the principles espoused in it's Constitution.

God knows there are enough real issues (like Global Warming, Health Care, the Economy)that could better occupy our time.

Merry Christmas to all and peace to all men.

chimneyswift

Pay, Col.? And how should it happen? Should the Dems take up hearings? Could they be bipartisan at this point?

It seems to me that if what we're reading here is true, there is a good chance this could be viewed as treasonable offenses, no? Should there be a capital case made if so?

I will say again that this is what comes from letting the policy makers responsible for Iran Contra go unpunished. There will be more unscrupulous men poised for power--there always are--and ignominy alone has proven an ineffective deterrent.

And it was more than Iran-Contra, of course, but that was huge. This is about the shortsightedness and conceit of most all of the American elite, in one way or another, and it was "just agreed" (and acquiesced to) that the leaders of the country should not be punished. It may not have been predictable how far this particular group of demagogues would take things (at least not commonly), but it was predictable that it would be taken for carte blanche.

Now we have a situation involving many of the same faces in politics, in the media, &c. where these men will be leaving office anyway or were not elected and hundreds of thousands at least have died already. And the profits of the few have been unmistakable.

I agree, someone should pay. Thank you for leading the way on this, and for providing a forum for sane discussion. These are sad, hard times for patriots.

arbogast

It is unwise to isolate consideration of Iran from the rest of the recent events in the United States.

Alan Greenspan produced the current economic crisis in the United States by keeping interest rates criminally low for many years. In addition, he encouraged the creation of the financial innovations that are now destroying America.

Why?

Stupidity? Neglect?

No. The neocons needed financial support for their colonialist adventures in the Middle East. Alan Greenspan provided it for them.

What is happening today is a kind of rear-guard action by responsible elements in government to save what is left of the glory of the US.

They are definitely the few. And they are definitely brave. God go with them.

jon

It may be that sanity has finally reared its head in Washington. Although I would consider the release of this NIE to be another move in a long game, rather than a game ending smash. It's only faintly amusing to see the administration tap dancing to explain how Iran is, in fact, both ends as well as the middle: a logician's triple-axel.

Israel does have some genuine existential angst. Recently, it's actions have served to compound its problems and to make any true and lasting settlement of their problems recede still further.

Dispassionately considered, I fail to see how Iran has, or can be expected to pose, a life threatening capability regarding Israel. A strong national and regional competitor, certainly. Ability to make mischief and to provide support to palestinians and other regional governments, absolutely.

Further UN sanctions have likely evaporated. France and germany may be just a little upset at being danced so far down the road. Russia and China have been strengthened.

If Iran minds its manners, the IAEA may well facilitate the rest of its fuel cycle on a silver platter.

And of course Ahmadinejad has just made his bones, staring down the US. He's sure to have a few choice sound bites ready for the occasion.

But Paul Wolfowitz is returning to State just in the nick of time. Heckuva job there, team.

Charles I

#If that is true, then someone should pay... pl"

Someone is - your soldiers and citizens. And someone will - generations to come stripped of all government services but the military - their health care, pensions and domestic security in the hands of privateers, and treated to elections by Diebold, and taxed to pay the $10 TRILLION dollar debt forecast by next January.

From where I sit, 43 abandoned the Constitution with the original diversion of $700M legislated by Congress to fund the Afghan war to his festering Iraq imperative just after 9/11

Jose

Finally a welcome dose of reality, pragmatism and humility from a man who thougt himself "Augustus" and "Princeps" of the world.

Don't worry about the Neocons and the Israelis they still reign in this administration especially with Elliot Cohen "supervising" the Middle East Peace process, Olmert making new demands everyday and the return of Wolfie.

Oath to the Constitution, with these characters or this Congress?

But someone will pay for this and her name is Hillary Clinton who will crucified by her Democratic opponents.

"Fool me once, shame on you fool me twice, shame on me"

The Republicans are actually helped by the facts coming out before we attacked another country based on lies.

Our position in the Middle East is so bad that Robert Baer is writing that the Gulf States are observing the Zenith and Nadir with this administration:

http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1690696,00.html


eaken

i sincerely hope people don't think this movie has ended...

-bwg

"What is not comprehensible is that their fear somehow captured the "minds" of the present population of of the White House, the NSC staff and the office of the Vice President." It's so incomprehensible that one must question whether it's even true. U think it's more likely that there are a group of neocons/likudniks who fearfully believe it and another group, probably including Cheney and other non-neocon hawks who have their own reasons for drumming up fear and conflict regarding Iran and who are using the neocon/likudniks as cover to further their own purposes. Those purposes may well be energy related and long-term strategic.

JohnH

Actually, the most damaging statement in the NIE is that "Tehran’s decisions are guided by a cost-benefit approach rather than a rush to a weapon irrespective of the political, economic, and
military costs."

In other words, the Iranian leadership is not a bunch of "Mad Mullahs." The implication is clear that if Iran had a nuke they would behave like other nuclear powers--they would not use it except if attacked. It also implies that they fully understand the consequences of trying to make Israel disappear via a nuke--mutually assured destruction.

Furthermore, Trita Parsi has revealed that "most Israeli strategists recognize that Iran represents a strategic challenge to the favorable balance of power enjoyed by Israel and the U.S. in the Middle East over the past 15 years, but it is no existential threat to the Israel, the U.S. or the Arab regimes." http://tonykaron.com/2007/10/09/iran-the-inflatable-bogey/

This is not about nukes, but about instituting US hegemony over the world's oil suppliers and about Israel, in that order. If this is to be the foreign policy of the USA it deserves a thorough public debate, not a secret Oval Office mandate cheered on by the 'defense' industry and various and sundry fearmongers and warmongers.

Matthew

Col: I do not disagree with your analysis of the Israeli mind. Unfortunately, you don't take it a step further: Israel is a threat to America. It's hideous intervention in our politics, and the torn loyalities of the Israel-Firsters is a direct threat to Israel's Muslim neighbors and a direct threat to lives of millions of Americans. It's time to say to them in clear language: Stop trying to make your enemies our enemies. Look at the skewed morality examplified by Podhoretz the Elder: "...as an American Jew, I beg you, bomb Iran." Well, as an American Christian, I say, "Don't you friggin' dare. And certainly not im my name."

Bobo

It is a calming feeling to know we will now not be running off to a new war to spend our grandchildrens money and our sons blood.

#43 will be OOO in a year or so, how much trouble can he get us in or leave us with in that time?? A bunch I figure. Hopefully someone takes over who can put the Neo Cons on the backest back burner of all .

My bigger puzzle is, is Israel worth being our ally?? They seem to have caused us a number of large problems that will never be fully solved. They also seem to stir up a hornets nest at the drop of a hat plus they seem to have to much control over our decision making. Why not ponder about picking another ally over there??

Sure would like to hear your opinions but leave your insults on the keyboard.

meletius

In our failed republic, this scandal of lying and further attempts to corrupt the decision-making process will be forgotten and glossed over by the MSM in around a week.

We cannot reform ourselves any longer, despite the existence of a few honorable Intel analysts telling our clown prince emperor he has no clothes.

Cheney will have the dogs of war back out on the moors in a month. But jolly good show anyway, pip, pip. The historians will certainly appreciate it.

Being dead wrong has no consequences to the failed pundit class of BushAmerica. They never "pay" no matter how many times they're wrong. Time, Newsweek, WaPo, all a cesspool of congenital error and falsehood---read at your own risk.

And the lying, deceptive elected officials of Bushco? Pay? That's a very bad joke indeed.

The intelligentsia of Imperial Russia simply got drunk. Off to do the same, as we are as failed a state as Czarist Russia....

zenpundit

"the return of the final "gollum"

Golem ?

Admittedly, Gollum wouldn't be too pretty either. :o)

--Blue Girl

Chimneyswift wrote: I will say again that this is what comes from letting the policy makers responsible for Iran Contra go unpunished.

Amen. And Nixon before them. A few of those feckless thugs cooling their heels in a prison cell would have made the current crop of miscreants think twice, (or at least once).

Personally - I think the release of the NIE is tied to the GAO report that was released last Friday that, in essence, calls out General Petraeus as having lied to Congress in September.

And for all intents and purposes, if this was a head-fake, it worked beautifully.

robt willmann

Every once in a while, in an unguarded moment, the truth slips out. This often happens while under the influence of intoxicating liquor, or during that most unguarded of all moments--pillow talk.

But today, on 4 December 2007, it happened at a presidential press conference.

The release of some small part of the National Intelligence Estimate on Iran generates a psychological boost in those opposing a military attack on Iran, and I think will embolden some to take a stronger position against such an attack.

Even the mild-mannered Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Mohamed ElBaradei, managed a mild version of the Smiling Stiletto in the Ribs in an IAEA press release which said that he--

"... received with great interest the new U.S. National Intelligence Estimate about Iran´s nuclear program which concludes that there has been no on-going nuclear weapons program in Iran since the fall of 2003. He notes in particular that the Estimate tallies with the Agency´s consistent statements over the last few years that, although Iran still needs to clarify some important aspects of its past and present nuclear activities, the Agency has no concrete evidence of an ongoing nuclear weapons program or undeclared nuclear facilities in Iran."

http://www.iaea.org/NewsCenter/PressReleases/2007/prn200722.html

But we should not rejoice too soon. For at the press conference, we hear this--

"Question: Mr. President, thank you. Just to follow, I understand what you're saying about when you were informed about the NIE. Are you saying at no point while the rhetoric was escalating, as 'World War III' was making it into conversation, at no point nobody from your intelligence team or your administration was saying, maybe you want to back it down a little bit?

The President: No, nobody ever told me that. Having said -- having laid that out, I still feel strongly that Iran is a danger. Nothing has changed in this NIE that says, okay, why don't we just stop worrying about it. Quite the contrary. I think the NIE makes it clear that Iran needs to be taken seriously as a threat to peace. My opinion hasn't changed.

[snip a little out]

Now, the Iranians -- the most difficult aspect of developing a weapons program, or as some would say, the long pole in the tent, is enriching uranium. This is a nation -- Iran is a nation that is testing ballistic missiles. And it is a nation that is trying to enrich uranium. The NIE says this is a country that had a covert nuclear weapons program, which, by the way, they have failed to disclose, even today. They have never admitted the program existed in the first place.

The danger is, is that they can enrich, play like they got a civilian program -- or have a civilian program, or claim it's a civilian program -- and pass the knowledge to a covert military program. And then the danger is, is at some point in the future, they show up with a weapon. And my comments are, now is the time to work together to prevent that scenario from taking place. It's in our interests."

When asked how the rest of the world will react now that the NIE is saying the opposite from two years ago, the president says--

"... And I think this is a -- it's a -- to me, it's a way for us to continue to rally our partners. That's why I'm working the phones and Condi Rice is working the phones. All of us are calling our partners. And I appreciate many of the comments that have come out of the capitals."

I can imagine what some of the "comments" have been from "our partners" to Bush jr and Ms. Rice about this. Yet, as he said, his "opinion hasn't changed" about Iran.

But then a little of the truth comes out.

"Question: The clarification is, are you saying that this NIE will not lead to a change in U.S. policy toward Iran, or shift in focus?

The President: I'm saying that I believed before the NIE that Iran was dangerous, and I believe after the NIE that Iran is dangerous. And I believe now is the time for the world to do the hard work necessary to convince the Iranians there is a better way forward. And I say, hard work -- here's why it's hard. One, many companies are fearful of losing market share in Iran to another company. It's one thing to get governments to speak out; it's another thing to convince private sector concerns that it's in our collective interests to pressure the Iranian regime economically.

So I spend a fair amount of time trying to convince our counterparts that they need to convince the private sector folks that it is in their interests and for the sake of peace that there be a common effort to convince the Iranians to change their ways, and that there's a better way forward.

So our policy remains the same. I see a danger. And many in the world see the same danger. This report is not a 'okay, everybody needs to relax and quit' report. This is a report that says what has happened in the past could be repeated, and that the policies used to cause the regime to halt are effective policies, and let's keep them up, let's continue to work together."

Now I get it. The NIE is not going to change the policy or the intentions of the Bush jr administration at all. It's those foreign businessmen and women who don't want to see their investments and money-making in Iran bombed to bits. And even though it's easy to convince some cheesey foreign politicians to jump on the war wagon, it is "hard" to convince those foreign "private sector" folks, who don't have the power to tax or create money out of thin air, to do so. They are "fearful of losing market share in Iran to another company".

That is the real lead paragraph for the news stories.

Foreign businesses are slowing the war train down.

The press conference can be found here--

http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2007/12/20071204-4.html

There is still an unanswered question: since the NIE makes the statement that Iran had a nuclear weapons program, what did the "program" consist of?

Some, or all, of the answer could be in the IAEA reports. But going into that would make this comment too long.

From what was said at that press conference, the possibility of war with Iran is still with us.

TRStone

I listened to "To The Point" on PRI today where there was a discussion an the NIE conclusions. The most strident voice in opposition to that conclusion was an Isreali pundit who reiterated the "fact" that was known to "everyone" that the Iranians are re-fitting their submarines to accept nuclear armed missles so they could destroy earth as we know it!
That is quite an existential threat (too bad the Native Americans, Cambodians, and many other indigenous cultures who are aggrieved don't have the support of the US Treasury to redress their fears).
Either the will is there to solve problems or it isn't. If it is, get to it, or if it isn't, admit death and destruction to all is the answer and put humanity out of it's misery (a truly GWB black or white moment).

PeterE

Could the Bush Administration have prevented or censored the NIE assessment? I suspect that the answer is "Yes". If so, why was it published? I suspect (hope) that Bush actually wants to take a moderate approach to Iran and now he has a rationale-- or at least a reason to avoid bombing, etc. (After making the obligatory noises to mollify the neocons.)

Will

Time for sober dispassionate analysis. Why does the tail wag the dog?

I have often quoted James Petras' socialogical data here- the gist of it being that 2.5% of the population :

"represent 25-30% of U.S.'s wealthiest families (citing Forbes). He asserts that they weild their wealth effectively. As an example(citing Richard Cohen in the Washington Post) -- supplying 60% and 35% of the total contributions respectively of the American Democratic and Republican political parties
."

My own gleaning of the news is that there are 2 cabinet officers, 2 supreme court justices, 13 U.S. senators, and 34 congressmen who are Jewish. Why are the reasons for that percentage being higher that the 2.5%?

Cultural factors that contribute toward ambitions, social cohesion, group help, but there is a factor seldom mentioned.

The Ashkenazi (European Jewish) verbal and general IQ is higher than the general population as a whole, 125 & 115 respectively. The IQ distribution is the Gaussian or Bell shaped curve. On its right tail is the higher IQ. Less and less people in the higher ranges and diminishing quickly.

Imagine a second bell curve but shifted to the right and centered on 115 instead of 100. Then the area under the curve between 115 and 140 is greatly increased for this second curve. This goes a long way to explaining why 30% of the student body of Harvard and Yale are Jewish. Education is ladder of success and influence.

Unfortunately for the U.S., blind loyalty by the (so far) majority of American Jews for an expansionist Israel has embroiled American in never ending Mid East Wars.

Andy

Col. Lang,

A little assumptions check here:

A similar case to Iran is another axis of evil - North Korea. The aggressiveness of our policy with the DPRK is constrained when compared to Iran by several factors: China, an existential military threat to South Korea, and regional allies that do not want us to pursue military action.

Now, suppose the DPRK didn't have a NWS and UNSC-member patron, and it wasn't an existential threat to its neighbors, and our regional allies (Japan mainly) were more amenable to the use of force. In such circumstances, would our policy be substantially different from Iran?

I trust you see where I'm heading with this?

Could not US and Israeli policy simply be aligned, as opposed to one dominating or overly influencing the other? How can one tell the difference?

Paul Hartvigson, Denmark

Comment from reader in Copenhagen, Denmark

"The interests and attitudes of a small client state have been allowed to seize control of the policy of an ecumenical empire."

This is really bad wieved from another client state - Denmark. I suppose that's what my country is in that parlance.

In my own words, there is an irrationally strong identification with the US, on the right side of our political spectrum. So we're in Afghanistan, and we were in Iraq - and for the latter the political centre was too cowed to resist.

But if we're following the US in for ideological / sentimantal reasons. And the US is led by an irrational identification with the most narrow and shortsighted Israeli interests. Then It's no benefit to us to be another client state of your empire

The rethoric has been ugly, and the pro Bush Danish rightists have been uncritically "pro-american", just at vocal and dominant groups in the US are more pro-israeli than most of the israelis themselves.

All this makes little sense from a rational pespective of an empiere or a client state. But this seems also about something benighted with using other countries as your political totem - thereby freeing you from the noisome liberty to chart your own course.

Paul

Clifford Kiracofe

The NIE is a small step on the long road ahead as was the publication of the Mearsheimer and Walt book on "The Lobby."

The issue is not Israel as such, IMO. It is not logical that Iran, even if it did have nuclear weapons, would use them against Israel which has a Muslim component, not to mention a Christian component, as part of its population. I suppose we will hear next that Iran has "smart nukes" that will kill only Jews and not Muslims (particularly those who do not want to be martyred).

The issue is the political power of a transnational imperial elite network composed of BOTH Jews and Gentiles. In the United States, Bush and Cheney represent the Gentile faction and the Neocons represent one intellectual element of the "domestic" Jewish faction. In the Bush Administration, Elliot Abrams, Elliot Cohen, and now Wolfie again appear to dominate Middle East policy.

The issue is NOT one of Jews corrupting Gentile leaders with weird strategic visions and foreign policy, IMO. The issue is that certain Gentile factions and certain Jewish factions in the US (and elsewhere) cooperate and collaborate for mutual benefit within an imperial policy. Israelis (Jews, Muslims, and Christians) are just as much victims as Americans (Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, atheists, agnostics and etc.) are one could argue.

The model of the British Empire in the 1830s and 1840s comes to mind. Factions within the British Gentile elite aligned with elements of its Jewish elite (Montefiore's, Rothschilds, etal.) to promote the creation of a Jewish entity in the Holy Land. This was Palmerston's policy. It was a strategic policy designed to cut against Egypt and Russia in which he planned that wealthy international Jewish interests would support the Ottoman Empire in return for the establishment of a Jewish entity. This was NOT some "secret conspiracy" as it was in the newspapers of the day and well-known to all.

In effect, the Jewish entity becomes a "marcher state" within an imperial policy...19th century Britain/late 20th and 21st century USA.

"There exists at present among the Jews dispersed over Europe, a strong notion that the time is approaching when their nation is to return to Palestine....It is well known that the Jews of Europe possess great wealth; and it is manifest that any country in which a considerable number of them might choose to settle, would derive great benefit from, the riches which they would bring to it....it would be of maniufest importance to the Sultan to encourage the Jews to return to, and to settle in Palestine, b ecause the wealth which they would bring with them would increase the resources of the Sultan's dominions..." [Palmerston to Ponsonby, August 11, 1840 despatch, No. 134, August 11, 1840, P.O. 78/390]. See, Frederick Stanley Rodkey, "Lord Palmerston and the Rejuvenation of Turkey, 1830-1841," The Journal of Modern History, Vol. II, No. 2, June 1930, pp. 193-225.

The alignment of Christian Fundamentalists with Jews promoting a "restoration" in the Holy Land dates from the Palmerston period. There is nothing new about it at all. For which see, Jasper Ridley, Lord Palmerston (London: Constable, 1970).

The American Conservative has an interesting review of the Mearsheimer and Walt book:

..."But it should be noted that casual newspaper readers in Israel, in Britain, and soon in the rest of Europe, where the book is being translated into seven languages, are being treated to far more nuanced and serious discussion of The Israel Lobby than Americans have been....."

http://amconmag.com/2007/2007_12_03/cover.html

Mearsheimer and Walt do not effectively address the Christian Zionist issue nor the issue of imperial policy. Nonetheless these gaps have been, and are being, filled by other scholars.

The US foreign policy establishment is, as the world can see very well, wholly decadent and incompetent. I should think "an agonizing reappraisal" of our foreign policy and national strategy is in order.

swerv21

pl:

baer says that the NIE was greenlighted by POTUS. i tend to agree that the conventional story of the WH blindsided by it is naive and inaccurate.

do you agree?

if so, what might that tell us?

many of the posters over at Syria Comment are suggesting that, as a result of the NIE, Syria stands to benefit 'spectacularly'. they would point to a recent comment made by israeli MK Danny Yatom (given after a briefing by Defense Minister Barak)that israel should enter into negotiations with the syrians immediately and without preconditions.

my question is this:
if the U.S. intelligence community has now effectively called Iran's bluff, with WH blessing, what does that do to the value of 'flipping' Syria?

if the price of a syrian-israeli peace deal was being negotiated now, id say that the cost to syria just went up significantly. This is especially true when you consider the 'restoration of isreali deterrance capablity' we saw a few weeks ago.

the silliest thing that supporters of israel can do right now is to continue to trumpet the 'iranian' threat- this just plays into the syrian hand in that it inflates the value of a 'flip'.

judging by the comments of the Yatom, I'd say that the Israelis recognize this.

the NIE declassification is a strategic move- not a tactical one. while the goal of informing the public debate is laudable, id suggest that the intended audience was much further afield.

and i wouldn't worry too much, if it doesn't work out for our vital interests this time around in two years we can have another 'reassessment' of the iranian threat.

the result of the NIE is that prospects for a syria deal are much lower- barring a dramatic game-changer (for that i'd be looking at huzbullah right now). the isreali price will be too high.

W. Patrick Lang

TR Stone

I would like to know in what Iranian shipyard the submarines are being modified by what Iranian or foreign company. pl

All

I doubt if president Bush is capable of the complex "play" suggested by some here. pl

Sidney O. Smith III

Thank you, Col. Lang, for your insights. Hope lives in the land of E Pluribus Unum.

And the essay by Arnaud de Borchgrave was a 500 foot home run. Yes, sports analogies are frowned upon by some, but this does seem a particularly American moment, and there just hasn’t been many the past few years.

“Walrus” summed it up perfectly in the first comment on this thread. Isn’t Walrus from Australia and wasn’t Arnauld de Borchgrave born in Belgium and later served in the Royal Navy? It looks like people from abroad are helping us immeasurably to get our act together.

Of course Raimondo the Rothbardian in his latest screed goes out of his way to prevent any sense of overconfidence. Make what you will of Raimondo but he has taken on the neocons as few have. Talented writer he is.

At another thread here at sst, “michael savoca” wrote, “My guess is that there are un-sung hero's high up in our Military and Intelligence organizations who fought hard for the release of the truth that Iran…”

I agree. Odds are high that some within the USG were willing to sacrifice their careers on behalf of the American people and our friends around the world. So I raise a mug of beer in honor of the unsung heroes.

Will

@Andy
" Could not US and Israeli policy simply be aligned, as opposed to one dominating or overly influencing the other? How can one tell the difference? "

The difference is told by trail of American U.N. vetoes on behalf of Israel and flouted & broken U.N. resolutions.

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