Is Iran a "true" threat? Apparently so, going by its policy statements, but the Independent asks you to put your trust in "yet".
When a country seemingly on the verge of acquiring nuclear weapons calls for one of its neighbours to be "wiped off the map", the world surely has every cause to worry. When the country making the threat is vast, volatile Iran, and the object of its hostility is Israel, the worries multiply.
Yet Iran is a complicated and confusing country, as visitors to Tehran soon become aware. ... Other murals proclaim official hostility to America, the "Great Satan", but the capital's youth are well up with trends in American movies and R&B music. ... All the [Iranian] President was seeking to do, they said, was to draw attention to the world's failure to implement UN resolutions condemning Israel's treatment of the Palestinians.
If the Independent's line of reasoning seems like a helluva way to perform risk analysis on such an important subject, then surely what we want is a hard assessment performed to the highest professional intelligence standards. One combining input from UN weapons inspectors, collateral confirmation from German, British and Italian intelligence and the Central Intelligence Agency. Just to make doubly sure a mission or two by former ambassadors to surrounding countries might be in order to clear up any uncertain facts. Then one can really be sure of whether or not Iran is a threat and speak with assurance as these learned gentlemen once did of Iraq. (Hat tip: Glenn Beck)
"One way or the other, we are determined to deny Iraq the capacity to develop weapons of mass destruction and the missiles to deliver them. That is our bottom line."
- President Clinton, Feb. 4, 1998 on CNN.
"We know that he has stored secret supplies of biological and chemical weapons throughout his country."
- Al Gore, Sept. 23, 2002 on the Washington Post
"In the four years since the inspectors left, intelligence reports show that Saddam Hussein has worked to rebuild his chemical and biological weapons stock, his missile delivery capability, and his nuclear program. He has also given aid, comfort, and sanctuary to terrorists, including al Qaeda members ... It is clear, however, that if left unchecked, Saddam Hussein will continue to increase his capacity to wage biological and chemical warfare, and will keep trying to develop nuclear weapons."
- Sen. Hillary Clinton (D, NY), Oct 10, 2002 on the Senate Floor.
But wait, we now know that the CIA believe Iraq was not a threat. All the reports upon which President Clinton, Al Gore and Senator Clinton based these statements were cooked up by a vast right wing conspiracy, or something. That's been proven by Libbygate. According to David Ignatius:
Behind the indictment of Lewis "Scooter" Libby lies a subterranean battle ... Cheney and his aides didn't trust the CIA. They thought the agency was sluggish in pursuing allegations about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction and Saddam Hussein's links with al Qaeda. ... Now this saga has come full circle. ... To me, that's the real crime in Libbygate -- that the Bush White House became so passionate about its goals that it treated the CIA as the enemy.
If only Cheney had trusted the CIA and not made war on his own intelligence professionals, things would have been alright. The world has come full circle again. Iraq is now history; Iran is on the table. The question facing everyone, not just the Independent, is what Iran's real capabilities and intentions are. Now Washington, freed of the machinations of Scooter Libby and Dick Cheney, can turn with full confidence to its intelligence agencies and ask, is Iran a "true threat?" and expect an accurate answer, or something.