Sunday, December 9. 2007
I've been reading Trita Parsi's Treacherous Alliance: The Secret Dealings of Israel, Iran, and the United States, which has become all the more timely with the CIA's dismissal of any Iranian nuclear weapons threat. A major theme of the book is how Israel has always managed to find enemies to justify their arms buildup, and how they've often tried to maneuver the US into sharing their enemies -- all the better since the US is their leading arms supplier. We see this same dynamic working here, with factions in Israel and the US working so close in tandem that it's impossible to tell who's leading whom.
Fred Kaplan: Nuclear Meltdown. On the CIA's National Intelligence Estimate on Iran, conceding that Iran halted any nuclear weapons work in 2003, and that even if they changed their minds they'd be many years away from developing any nuclear weapons. This knocks off the rationale for a Bush Doctrine preëmptive attack, although it's not clear that that's sunk into the depleted cranium of The Decider yet. The right is trying to spin this as proof that tough talk and sanctions work. The timing actually suggests that invading and occupying Iraq had more to do with it. You could chalk that up to the Madman Theory, but number one any Iranian list of potential enemies to deter was Iraq under a post-sanctions Saddam Hussein, and Bush effectively eliminated that threat. Kaplan's conclusion:
I've been reading reports that the CIA conclusions have been known for at least a year, but were leaked now to check the World War III talk coming out of the White House. One thing that Elizabeth de la Vega points out in her Bush impeachment book is that it isn't necessary that Bush know he is lying to be guilty of fraud; he is just as guilty if he fails to make the effort to get the truth. Bush is claiming that he only recently found out about the CIA report. He could certainly have gotten access to those findings earlier if he had any wish to do so.
Mark Follman: An Iran bombshell for Bush. An interview with Flynt Leverett ("a former senior director on Bush's National Security Council"): "Oh, I think the president knew this was coming, and I think he was deliberately shifting his rhetoric on the issue to redefine the problem. Up until the fall, Bush's rhetoric literally for years had been that it's unacceptable for Iran to have a nuclear weapon. All of a sudden, that shifts to it being unacceptable for Iran to have the knowledge of how to build a nuclear weapon."
Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett: Bush's real lie about Iran. "President Bush's worst misrepresentations about the Iranian nuclear issue do not focus on whether Tehran is currently pursuing a nuclear weapons program or when Bush knew the U.S. intelligence community was revising its previous assessments. Rather, the real lie is in the president's claim that his administration has made a seroius offer to negotiate with the Islamic Republic, and that Iranian intransigence is the only thing preventing a diplomatic solution." Leverett reviews the diplomatic history. In 2003 (when Iran is believed to have halted whatever nuclear program they had) it was EU-3 (UK, France, Germany) who started negotiating with Iran, while Bush refused to participate.
Paul Krugman: Innovating Our Way to Financial Crisis. This is something of an explanation of the looming financial disaster, although it's still not clear just how this bottoms out. Krugman notes that the housing bubble "made even less sense than the dot-com bubble," but he doesn't go on to remind us that one of the reasons -- aside from the usual finance industry greed -- is that the expansion of easy housing credit was the only thing Bush had to prop up the US economy during his first term, establishing a partial sense of normalcy that was just good enough to squeak to reelection.