Friday, December 07, 2007

Iran, the bomb and the CIA: "political machination and cowardice"

Normblog, with his usual acumen, puts his finger right on the money:

Yesterday I posted about the reaction of some British policymakers to the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iran. Here Yossi Klein Halevi writes about the response from Israeli security officials:

No one with whom I've spoken believes that professional considerations, such as new intelligence, were decisive in changing the American assessment on Iran. What has been widely hailed in the American media as an expression of intelligence sobriety, even courage, is seen in the Israeli strategic community as precisely the opposite: an expression of political machination and cowardice. "The Americans often accuse us of tailoring our intelligence to suit our political needs," notes a former top security official. "But isn't this report a case study of doing precisely that?"

Adds a key security analyst:

"The report didn't surprise me. The [American intelligence] system isn't healthy. It has been thoroughly politicized...".....[Shabtai] Shavit notes that the problem with the NIE isn't in its facts but its deliberate ambiguity. "The whole report is filled with assessments of 'high probability,' 'middle probability,' 'low probability.' I don't need that." And if he had written the report? "I would have based my assessment on the facts and said unequivocally that Iran is going to create the ability to make a bomb."

Naturally, those who are partial to the findings in the NIE will not be swayed by the judgement that the US intelligence system 'has been thoroughly politicized', whereas in other circumstances they... would be.

Isn't it obvious how the very CIA who were maligned for "tailoring" their reports to fit Bush's expectations and provide the rationale for attacking Iraq, is now celebrated as the voice of truth and perspicacity by the very same voices?

The CIA seems to have caught the Chamberlainian virus. We'll see whether a new policy will emerge, based, as the article suggests on "deliberate ambiguity... filled with assessments of 'high probability,' 'middle probability,' 'low probability.' "

The same kind of bad assessments that may have precipitated the invasion of Iraq are now served to block the way to put greater pressure on Iran. And the cheerers-on of each option have traded places with a precision that boggles the mind. No scepticism, nothing learned from past experience.

However, if you look at it from a different angle, what is noticeable is not a contradiction but a consistency, a conformity to one abiding principle: The Iraq war was bad because it was perceived as serving Israel's security interests. The no nukes Iran assessment is good because it harms Israel's security concerns. So whatever the denouement in Washington, it feeds into a greater narrative beloved by the Indecent Left, that of virulent anti-Zionism, and always benefits the ideology these sentiments nourish. If Israel is seen as the motive for war - good; if Israel is seen as the potential loser- good. Just like any conspiracy theory, such a narrative morphs in any which way to swallow up incongruities and irrationalities. Which reminds me of something my former professor once said when I asked him about what the Left was: The left is about conspiracy theories, he said with utter conviction.

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