Sunday, January 28, 2007

Where in the Game Are We?

How did the crisis get started? We're talking about politicized intelligence respecting weapons of mass destruction. We're talking about what James Webb described as the failure of American leaders to competently protect their people from threats. But we're not talking about President Bush and Iraq; rather about President Clinton and Iran. Yossi Klein Halevi and Michael B. Oren, writing in the New Republic (subscription only) go back to the genesis of the Iranian nuclear crisis.

The first reports from military intelligence about an Iranian nuclear program reached the desk of Yitzhak Rabin shortly after he became prime minister in May 1992. Rabin's conclusion was unequivocal: Only a nuclear Iran, he told aides, could pose an existential threat to which Israel would have no credible response. But, when he tried to warn the Clinton administration, he met with incredulity. The CIA's assessment--which wouldn't change until 1998--was that Iran's nuclear program was civilian, not military. Israeli security officials felt that the CIA's judgment was influenced by internal U.S. politics and privately referred to the agency as the "CPIA"--"P" for "politicized."

None of this is to argue that only the Democrats slant intelligence but merely to point out that politics and intelligence have been related for a long time. And not in the least within Israel itself.

A nuclear Iran will have devastating consequences for Sunni Arab states, too. Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Algeria, and, most recently, Jordan have declared their interest in acquiring nuclear power; Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has stated explicitly that Egypt may feel the need to protect itself against Iran's nuclear threat. Other Sunni nations could follow--including Libya, whose enmity toward the Saudis may draw it back into the nuclear race if Riyadh tries to acquire a bomb. A nuclear free-for-all, then, is likely to seize the Middle East. In this crisis-ridden region, any flashpoint will become a potential nuclear flashpoint. ...

That scenario leads some in the security establishment to call for renewed peace talks with Syria, aimed at removing it from the pro-Iranian front. The growing debate over Syria positions the Mossad--which says it's no longer possible to separate Damascus from Tehran--against military intelligence, which believes that President Bashar Assad wants negotiations with Israel, if only to divert the threat of sanctions against Damascus for its alleged role in murdering Lebanese leaders.

There is no debate among Israelis, however, about the wisdom of negotiations between the West and Iran. That, defense officials agree, would be the worst of all options. Negotiations that took place now would be happening at a time when Iran feels ascendant: The time to have negotiated with Iran, some say, was immediately after the initial U.S. triumph in Iraq, not now, when the United States is losing the war.

Not everyone agrees, however, that America is "losing the war". The Strategy Page asks, how so? Except in perception? Myth Number 10 in its "Ten Myths About Iraq" is the conventional wisdom that America is whipped.

10- The War in Iraq is Lost. By what measure? Saddam and his Baath party are out of power. There is a democratically elected government. Part of the Sunni Arab minority continues to support terror attacks, in an attempt to restore the Sunni Arab dictatorship. In response, extremist Shia Arabs formed vigilante death squads to expel all Sunni Arabs. Given the history of democracy in the Middle East, Iraq is working through its problems. Otherwise, one is to believe that the Arabs are incapable of democracy and only a tyrant like Saddam can make Iraqi "work." If democracy were easy, the Arab states would all have it. There are problems, and solutions have to be found and implemented. That takes time, but Americans have, since the 18th century, grown weary of wars after three years. If the war goes on longer, the politicians have to scramble to survive the bad press and opinion polls. Opposition politicians take advantage of the situation, but this has nothing to do with Iraq, and everything to do with local politics in the United States.

Maybe the fairest assessment is that the jury is still out. And upon how that jury comes back depends some -- if not all -- of the circumstances within which the world will deal with Iran.


Blogger Aristides said...

I think we just avoided an Archduke Ferdinand event in Najaf. And then you have the Karbala attack, and that attack last week against our military higher-ups that may or may not have been an inside job.

And on Drudge right now is the headline: "Iran Reveals Plans to Expand Role Inside Iraq." No link yet, but the game seems to be heating up.

1/28/2007 07:18:00 PM  
Blogger Red A said...

So Iran began its program around 1992 if not earlier. I suggest they wanted a nuke then to deter Iraq, which sounds fairly rational to me.

Now that we have ended their Iraqi threat, you'd think they might re-consider their bomb ambitions.

1/28/2007 07:23:00 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

Unless, of course, their bomb program is designed to serve larger, paralell national interests: regime survival and domination of the Arab League.

1/28/2007 08:21:00 PM  
Blogger Robert said...

Link to Aristides Cite

1/28/2007 08:58:00 PM  
Blogger Robert said...

" but Americans have, since the 18th century, grown weary of wars after three years."

The Cold War? No, I think the problem is the the anti-Vietnam generation that dominates the Democrat party, the media, and academia. They are still trying to prove their first take on Vietnam was right. It wasn't and only extreme self-righteousness can block the guilt and horror.

1/28/2007 09:13:00 PM  
Blogger summignumi said...

Robert, is right and I have said it too! The Anti-Americans control the MSM, Democratic Party, Academia and Bureaucrats of the Government! They have near control of the judicial branch also.

1/29/2007 01:16:00 AM  
Blogger Buddy said...

Re "CPIA", when the Clinton Gang came in touting their "permanent campaign" innovation, this is precisely what they were talking about. Can't say we weren't warned.

1/29/2007 07:52:00 AM  
Blogger Marcus Aurelius said...


IIRC sometime ago you posted some speculation on Saudi having a nuclear weapon? IIRC, it was a piece by somone else describing Prince Bandar getting jacked up by some Clintonista?

In any event I have held the Saudis have had a bomb since at least the time Pakistan tested theirs..

Red A, I don't think this will stop. Iran has regional ambitions and by the language of Ahmednuttyjihad it is clear he wants to lead the Islamic world against the West.

At least, Ahmednuttyjihad wants to be the seat of the Caliphate.

1/29/2007 08:50:00 AM  
Blogger Soldier's Dad said...

Marcus Aurelious,

"In any event I have held the Saudis have had a bomb since at least the time Pakistan tested theirs.."

The "United States Military Training Mission - Saudi Arabia" has been functioning since 1947.

The idea that the Saudi Military could have acquired a weapons system without the knowledge of US advisors is somewhat far fetched.

Do the Saudis have enough money to buy a Nuke off of Musharaff?...sure. They also have enough money to pay Musharaff to deliver a nuke to its intended destination.

red a,

"I suggest they(Iran) wanted a nuke then to deter Iraq, which sounds fairly rational to me.

Now that we have ended their Iraqi threat, you'd think they might re-consider their bomb ambitions."

I'm sure that was the sincere hope of many in various national security agencies. As long as Iran believed Saddam was building a bomb, there would be no way to convince them to give up their own nuke program.

Figure a minimum post Iran invasion force of 5 soldiers/1000 residents and one needs a minimum ground force of 350,000. An invasion of Iran would have required "For the Duration" deployments of the entire Army.

One would think the Iranians would be greatful, but the current Iranian leadership has fond memories of Jimmy Carter cowering before them.

1/29/2007 09:37:00 AM  
Blogger Swank Chambers said...

I think the problem is the the anti-Vietnam generation

I have to agree with robert, here. The vast majority of my generation (born in '68, the children of the flower children) with whom I've discussed this are decidedly of a "let's roll" mentality, whereas our fathers and mothers are clearly trying to relive their (vain)glory days, as thought the sixties hadn't ever really gone away.

Unfortunately they've managed, largely through academia, to pollute the minds of our sons and daughters to the point where anything the US does is automatically evil. I've had numerous exhausting conversations with many members of the 18-27 set who actually believe Iraqis were better off under Saddam than under the watchful eye of men and women sworn to uphold the Constitution of the United States, as though that were actually the issue.

They'll grow out of it - we did - the only worry is, will it be soon enough?

1/29/2007 09:51:00 AM  
Blogger Marcus Aurelius said...

Soldier's Dad,

Nowhere do I imply it was done w/o our knowledge. It wasn't here at the Belmont Club I read this, but in a Stanley Kurtz article on NRO:
Richard Armitage is famous for chatting with Robert Novak about Valerie Plame. But a conversation Armitage had when he was an assistant secretary of Defense in the Reagan administration is at least as interesting. Quite by accident, the United States had just stumbled onto a secret purchase of Chinese CSS-2 missiles by Saudi Arabia. The Saudis were in the market for a weapon that could reach Tehran, yet be deployed outside the range of Iranian surface-to-surface missiles. The Chinese CSS-2 missiles fit the bill, but were too inaccurate to be used for anything other than nuclear, chemical, or biological warfare. All known deployments of CSS-2s carried nuclear weapons, so the United States had to assume that the Saudis were secretly purchasing atomic warheads as well. Fresh from their attack on Saddam’s nuclear reactor, the Israelis realized they could be facing a new “Islamic bomb,” and so they threatened a preemptive strike.

1/29/2007 10:49:00 AM  
Blogger Kat said...

Unless, of course, their bomb program is designed to serve larger, paralell national interests: regime survival and domination of the Arab League.

don't forget to add "control of OPEC" since Ira's economy is 50% oil, 80% of which is oil exports. They want complete regional hegemony because they believe that is the only way to resolve their very real, gigantic economic issues (dare I say "depression"). Like the Soviets, they haven't quite figured out their economic model, failed leadership and inability to develop efficient and growth oriented industry is the cause of their failure, not the lack of local or international markets.

1/29/2007 01:28:00 PM  
Blogger RWE said...

Back when Pakistan and India conducted their competing series of nuclear tests, the question was asked "How could the CIA miss this in advance?"

The answer, provided on NPR one evening, was that while the leaders of both India and Pakistan clearly and publically indicated their intentions "The CIA analysts assumed that the leaders of other countries were no more honest about their intentions than were U.S. leaders, so they discounted those statements."

Okay, in other words, "Politicans all lie, so these guys in India and Pakistan must be lying and can be ignored."

Completely aside from what such an attitude says about the CIA's capabilities - (that is, the Post-Al Gore Reinventing Govt Initiative CIA, which presumably followed Gore's direction to reduce manning by 30%) - where do you suppose the CIA people learned that you could not trust government leaders to tell the truth? From the Clinton Administration, perhaps?

1/29/2007 01:40:00 PM  
Blogger Habu1 said...

Barbaro euthanized

1/29/2007 01:53:00 PM  
Blogger ricpic said...

What our establishment seems incapable of digesting is this simple fact: there is no way to finesse the clash with Islam. We must commit to a no holds barred total war against the Islamists.Only when the world of Islam, sunni and shiite, comes to understand that any further attack on America will result in terrible destruction and insupportable suffering for them, only then will there be peace. They must suffer. Terribly. To the faint of heart who object: better their children than ours. No victory, no peace.

1/29/2007 02:08:00 PM  
Blogger Marcus Aurelius said...


I can not see the attitude as being all politicians always utter BS, so when leader of nation X says something its obviously wrong or misdirection.

I think its much more perverse than simple cynicism or mistrust. The uber-sophistication of many on the coasts of this nation lead them to believe others in their position in other nations can not possibly mean what they say.

Ahmednuttyjihad is the prime example of this. When he stands up and talks about wiping Israel off of the map and doing us in, the sophisticatis tut-tut that he is just saying that to keep his population united. They do not take him at his word.

I think the one-liner for what I am trying to say is our intelligence & policy analysts are too clever by half and miss the obvious. After all, they did not take in 16 years of schooling plus four more of grad school, then perhaps some post-doc work to note and alert us to the obvious.

1/29/2007 02:48:00 PM  
Blogger RWE said...

Marcus A:

I think you are right about that, and furthermore, this is the first conflict in which we are constantly told to ignore what The Enemy is saying - or told that he really did not mean that.

This may not be the first time this was done - there were apologists throughout the Cold war for the communists.

And even in the USA we were told that the Black Power slogan of "Burn Baby Burn" was an exhortation for black people to lift themselves up, not to burn down houses. But burn the houses did.

But perhaps this is the first time in which The Enemy is consistantly disguising his message - that which is said in the mosques if rarely said openly - and that such a large percentage of the Media choose to ignore what is said by the Other Side or to distort it to make it less threatening. Must not get all those rednecks with the gun racks in their pickups all upset, you see - nor force the Lefty politicans to answer some difficult questions.

1/29/2007 04:12:00 PM  
Blogger rich said...

I Think this article also appears here:

1/29/2007 07:50:00 PM  

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