The NIE and its Discontents

It has been quite interesting watching some of the more hawkish elements of society react to the latest National Intelligence Estimate, which concluded that Iran shut down their nuclear weapons program in 2003.

One might think that the reaction to the report, even among hawks, would have been one of relief. After all, the intelligence shows that Iran is far away from having a nuclear weapon, and the report mutes the war drums that Cheney et al have been pounding for years.

In short, a war may have been averted, as a result of this report. Sadly, however, there are some who seem rather disappointed by this.

Much of this discontent has come from the Knesset. Haaretz is reporting that Israeli Public Security Minister Avi Dichter, thinks the US report was simply wrong.

"Something went wrong in the American blueprint for analyzing the severity of the Iranian nuclear threat," Dichter said. "We have to hope that the U.S. will know to correct this. Israel and other states must help in any way including providing intelligence material so as to fix this miscalculation."

Alan Dershowtiz, arguably the most prominent apologists for war crimes alive, called the intelligence "stupid."

The recent national intelligence estimate that concluded that Iran halted its nuclear weapons program in 2003 is just about the stupidest intelligence assessment I have ever read. It falls hook, line and sinker for a transparent bait and switch tactic employed not only by Iran, but by several other nuclear powers in the past ....If Neville Chamberlain weren't long dead I would wonder whether he had a hand in writing this "peace in our time" intelligence fiasco.
(Gary Hart, called the Dershowitz piece "not only hysterical but almost catatonic.")

Jeff Jacoby, a hawkish columnist for the Globe, not only attacked the report, but also said it was evidence that the Iraq war was a success. He wrote:

Chalk up another win for the Iraq war. If the NIE is taken at face value, the mullahs stopped their efforts to weaponize uranium in 2003 "primarily in response to international pressure." Now to what could that be referring? There is only one plausible candidate: the US-led invasion of Iraq and toppling of Saddam Hussein ... The failures of the Iraq war are frequently denounced. All the more reason to take note of its accomplishments.

William Kristol, editor of the Weekly Standard, echoes Jacoby's remarks with even more cartoonish comments.

President Bush's successful shift in strategy in Iraq a year ago, as part of his commitment to finishing that job, remains his greatest contribution to peace in the Middle East. The complete and unequivocal defeat of al Qaeda and of Iranian-backed proxies in Iraq is the best way to show Iran that the United States is a serious power to be reckoned with in the region. Resisting the temptation to throw away success in Iraq by drawing down too fast or too deep is the greatest service this president can render his successor. Only if Bush wins in Iraq will the next president have a reasonable chance to defeat the threat of a nuclear-weapons-seeking Islamic Republic of Iran.

Many Republican senators seem a little upset by all of this as well, including some of the presidential candidates.

This is par for the course when you have leaders who look to war as the first option, rather than as a last resort.