Dec 7, 2007

Anti-Iran IO Loses a Paramount Theme

Some readers may have raised their eyebrows at our assertion on Monday that the "new" NIE on Iran's nuclear weapons program -- ... has been [minor tweaks aside] in the can for nearly a year now.

This statement is significantly at variance with the administration's narrative that the NIE was only completed last week, and moreover, that the paradigm-shifting information about the state of Iran's nuclear weapons program was acquired in late Summer via "intercepts."

Never forget one of the key teachings from The Book of Meatballs, "Any time you hear of a U.S. official speaking publicly about 'intercepts' -- even on background -- some sort of bullshittery is afoot."

One reason we were able to make our claim about the well-seasoned NIE is that we had pointed readers in November 2006 to the important part of a typically logorrheic piece by Seymour Hersh in our post titled: CIA Finds No Evidence Of Iranian Nuclear Weapons Program.

Corroboration was furnished in the February 12, 2007 edition of The American Conservative magazine. Ex-CIA officer Philip Giraldi wrote:

An as yet unreleased U.S. National Intelligence Estimate on Iran concludes that the evidence for a weapons program is largely circumstantial and inconclusive, while the Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte reported that Iran is five to ten years away from having a weapon even if it accelerates the process and no one interferes with its development. Negroponte was predictably fired for his unwillingness to alter the intelligence, and the NIE is unlikely to see the light of day unless it is rewritten to conclude that Iran is an immediate threat.

[To make matters worse, at the time that Negroponte was told to hit the bricks, administration officials were telling anyone who would listen that the ex-DNI was bored with his job, only went into the office for a few hours a day, and spent the rest of the work week beside the pool at a health club.]

Unless Giraldi and Seymour Hersh are both blessed with uncanny powers of precognition (in which case they would be well advised to become professional lottery players), the White House put its credibility (don't laugh) on the line in the furtherance of the anti-Iran Info Op.

At some point they decided that the pressure op against Iran was more important than devising a policy around the facts as they knew them to be.

Don't believe them when they say that the president was not kept fully briefed about critical developments regarding Iran's nuclear weapons program.

As most of you folks here know, it doesn't work that way.

And now, some characters -- the most capable of whom whose training, experience and temperament qualify them to be "War on Christmas" theorists -- are calling for a review of the intelligence behind the NIE's key judgments about Iran's nuclear program.


PS Though somewhat distant from being in perfect interpretive congruence with our NIE pontifications, ZenPundit's Mark Zafranski has generously put together a thoughtful NIE roundup while Haft of the Spear's and Threat Watch's hyper-sage Michael Tanji has written a nigh poetic and not-to-be-missed reflection on the NIE circus.


Adrian said...

The NIE's real coup against the 'bomb Iran at all costs' crowd isn't the judgment on the nuclear weapon, but the 'carrots & sticks' judgment, that Iran aren't a bunch of loonies willing to sacrifice 70 million Iranian citizens for a chance to blow up some Jews. This NIE not only takes away the nuclear-weapons justification for bombing Iran, but also takes away the 'aiding terrorists in Iraq' justification - if Iran's leaders respond to carrots & sticks, we can use measures short of killing in order to influence their level of support.

Meatball One said...

Hi Adrian


The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel 2007 went to Hurwicz, Maskin and Myerson for "for having laid the foundations of mechanism design theory". [pdf]

Their work, imho, is far from being irrelevant to situations with two negotiating parties, each huddling with lopsided and incomplete information about the other, trying to secure the best deal for themselves.

My flip application of all this to U.S. and world security would be: The "unbalanced Chief Executive" strategy has been gamed -- it can work in very short term crisis situations, but carrying it four or five years too far is dangerous to our security.-Effwit

In the end, as always was, Iran is a rational, albeit different, nation and it's citizens and leaders want to live and breath and enjoy their Johnnie Walker Red Label, Sunday lashings on the square, family picnics, burka'd daughters on horseback, and secret block parties to the beat of Britney and Justin.

We have to learn that there exists decisive value for our national security by establishing high and publicly declared standards regulating the restraints we apply on the deployment of our overwhelming assets of deadly force upon other.

These restraints, and the standards governing them, must be at least at par with our resolve to use force when such time is upon is. And we must be sure that our standards of restraint are known by all men and all nations - and that we are perceived as adhering to those standards of restraint - else the gravest dangers beset upon us.

From such a perspective, I am tempted to suspect that the current tenants of the White House have perhaps farked somewhat with the security of the nation. But that's just my undereducated guesstimate.

Meatball One said...

Speaking of which:

have ye a gander at this paper by Myerson, Sir Adrian:

Adrian said...

But it's not ever two parties negotiating with each other - it's multiple parties, which makes everything that much more confusing. Which is the point of Myerson's paper - it's the third parties that we win over through our restraint, not the party we're immediately negotiating with.

Meatball One said...

Sorry for my sloppiness. Thanks for your attentiveness. You ZenPunditeers are sticklers for detail ;)

Adrian said...

A ZenPunditeer? I'm pretty sure he doesn't know who I am...

Meatball One said...

If we're in the utilities-challenged outer burbs of his map then you must be somewhere near ZP's ground zero.

BTW, I was a soccer goal keeper. Were/Are you a player?

Adrian said...

I was a right-winger (oh the irony) and central defender until my ankles got hacked to pieces, I got concussions, and I got sick. Then I switched to fencing (epee), and now I only play pickup games and such, and cheer on the Revs.