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Israel: "We have no doubt" that Iran is developing nukes
Posted by: mcq on Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Needless to say the most recent NIE has cause a bit of an uproar. And while I won't buy into to the conspiracy theories which claim a concerted effort to undermine this administration, I will say that the more I think about it the more I see a huge portion of CYA going on here.

The Intel community has covered its rear - if the administration attacks Iran and nothing is discovered they can say "we told you so". If that attack were to uncover a covert nuclear arms program, they could say "we said it was possible".

That, in the foreign policy formulation area, amounts to useless information. And I also have a tendency to have a lot more respect for the abilities - and information gathered - of the Israeli intelligence apparatus. And they're just not buying the conclusions of the current NIE:
Israeli officials yesterday disputed the conclusions of Monday's surprise U.S. assessment of Iran's nuclear program, citing "clear and solid intelligence" that Iran is continuing to develop nuclear weapons to threaten Israel and Europe.

"We have no doubt," said one Israeli official, who requested to remain anonymous. "If one looks at the investment, if one looks at the nature of the project, if you look at the cost to the Iranian economy, there is no logical explanation other than that the Iranian program is not benign."

The intelligence assessment revealed a rare open rift between the intelligence communities of two allies, which have cooperated closely and share almost all their information about Iran's nuclear program.

The U.S. National Intelligence Estimate said that Iran froze its program to develop a nuclear weapon four years ago, while it continues to engage in uranium-enrichment activity.

In addition to virtually eliminating the possibility that the U.S. will attack Iran before the end of the Bush presidency, the estimate widens the gap between Israeli and U.S. estimates on the time remaining before Iran could achieve a nuclear weapon.

Israel still insists that there is as little as two years to stop Iran from going nuclear, while the new U.S. assessment finds that unlikely to happen before 2010 to 2015.
"We have no doubt" is not a statement of equivocation. The current NIE is nothing but equivocation. To be clear, I'm not saying we should be readying an attack on Iran. I've been outspokenly against that because of the situation in Iraq. That's not to say at some time in the future I won't change my mind. However, I think we'd be foolish, especially given the intel from a nation who's very survival depends on getting it right, to suddenly conclude that there is no nuclear threat from Iran. Something's still going on there and until we get a better handle on it (which, frankly, I'm not sure our intel agencies are capable of doing), I think we need to continue to pressure Iran through sanctions and diplomatic means to open up their nuclear program to complete inspection.

Oh, and what drove the US conclusion that Iran had stopped its program?
"The Americans apparently came to their conclusions on the basis of human intelligence," he said, mentioning Gen. Ali Reza Asghari, a former Iranian deputy defense minister who defected to the West in February.

Oded Granot, a commentator on Channel 1, who, like Mr. Ya'ari, has good connections with Israel's security establishment, said American intelligence had intercepted a transmission from a senior Iranian military official several months ago, in which he expressed disappointment that Iran's nuclear weapons program had been halted.
Disinformation? Obviously it could be. And it comes from a sole source. They also claim that a "flood" of corroborating evidence became available in recent weeks. But again being the suspicious sort, I'd ask, if you found out your enemy had bitten on your disinformation campaign, wouldn't you also try to bolster that with corroborating "evidence"?

I sure would.
 
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Considering how damned good Mossad is, I’m inclined to pretty much take what they say on faith.

If they were to tell me that Immadinnerjacket liked wearing panties and frilling dresses, I’d believe them.

So when they say "Iran is working on getting nukes", I don’t doubt them much. They are 50% of the reason Israel is still around (the other 50% being the IDF).
 
Written By: Scott Jacobs
URL: http://
Once they procure enough nuclear fuel for a weapon, how long will it take to weaponize it if Iran resurrects its weapons program?

Isn’t the Uranium enrichment the slow step in the process anyway? I would imagine that a ’weapons program’ is a bunch of engineers drafting stuff in an office building, until the fuel is ready.

How much technology have they already achieved in that regard? After all, the NIE, if you accept its findings, claims Iran definitely had a nuclear weapons program until 2003. Do they simply need to put fuel into the warheads they have already crafted?
 
Written By: Jimmy the Dhimmi
URL: http://www.warning1938alert.ytmnd.com
This is sounds more and more like a war of semantics.

If one believes that "not working on nuclear weapons" means that they haven’t been actively working on a nuclear device, but doesn’t consider whether they are working to secure fissible material that could be used for a nuclear device, then the NIE make perfect sense.

Unfortunately, if that is the case, then we are no more secure.
 
Written By: Neo
URL: http://
Unfortunately, if that is the case, then we are no more secure.
Yeah, try to get people to be thoughtful about this issue though! Hah!

The Dems were already all over Hillary list night (not that I mind that part) with Biden especially citing the NIE report as proof that the whole vote on the Revolutionary Guards, and a hard line position on Iran is wrong because "Iran stopped their nuclear weapons program in 2003".

The mindless soundbyte people aren’t going to see this in any way other than Iran isn’t, in any way, shape, or form, developing nuclear weapons.

But as I said the other day, I know how this story goes, it ends with Israel blowing something up while the rest of the world dithers.

 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
And the best part of all this stupidity is
"Bush issued the stern warning as he sought to keep pressure on Iran despite a new intelligence report that Tehran halted its nuclear arms program four years ago, contradicting his earlier assertions that it was building an atom bomb."

Statements like this - "Bush’s assertions...." yeah, he gathers the intel himself and writes the reports.
No, the NIE isn’t contradicting itself, Bush is.
Uh-huh.

 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
Lessee, what is the track record of American intel over the years?

-Told us for decades that the Soviet economy was nearly twice as big as ours.

-Said the Soviet grip on Eastern Europe would not loosen and maintained that assertion right up to the point the Berlin Wall fell.

-Completely in the dark as to the nature of China’s military growth and capabilities.

-Was certain that Saddam had WMDs.

-Had no idea of the 9/11 attacks until the planes were hitting the buildings.

Show of hands please. Does anyone believe anything the NIE has to report, either past or present?
 
Written By: D
URL: http://

""The Americans apparently came to their conclusions on the basis of human intelligence," he said, mentioning Gen. Ali Reza Asghari, a former Iranian deputy defense minister who defected to the West in February."


In other words, they took verbal statements, which of course, can never be false, and gave them the imprimatur of fact.

What other recent episode had the same dynamic? Hmmm.. that’s right the Plame/Wilson debacle, where a DIPLOMANT goes on a ’fact finding’ mission in one country, Niger, talks to someone over tea, and declares that without question, Iraq never tried to obtain yellow-cake from the continent of Africa.

 
Written By: doubled
URL: http://
Over at Hotair they have a lot of good stuff from Bolton and Timmerman on just who is writing this stuff for the NIE.

It matches a lot of what friends tell me.
 
Written By: capt joe
URL: http://
They are 50% of the reason Israel is still around (the other 50% being the IDF).
Well the US of A is 80% of the reason there still is an Israel so you might want to rework those numbers.

Sure "We have no doubt" is not a statement of equivocation, nor is it a statement of evidence. Did this anonymous Israeli official ever have any doubt, could he even concieve of such doubts about Iran’s intentions? Look at what he offers for justification: the cost of the investment in Iran’s nuclear projects. And that’s it. From the cost he concludes that they must be after a weapon. He offers nothing on timing, nothing on ongoing efforts or progress, nothing on anything other than "they’ve spent a lot of money on nuclear plants and uranium processing." No kidding?

Doubled, I believe the incident you’re thinking of involved a fellow named Chalabi and the shadow intel apparatus this Administration set up when they found the intel community’s interpretations of Iraq’s activities not beligerent enough.
 
Written By: Retief
URL: http://
I think the NIE report is a sign that the neo-conservatives have lost the bureaucratic politics game in the White House, and the realists have won. In a best case scenario, this could also signal an improvement in American-Iranian diplomacy involving Iraq. More on my thoughts on my blog.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Good, now just get the neo-conservatives in Israel to agree with your assessment and they won’t see any need to send Israeli warplanes in to make new parking lots in Iran like they did in Syria.

 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
I think the NIE report is a sign that the neo-conservatives have lost the bureaucratic politics game in the White House
Or could it be the long term political bias of the authors of the NIE have finally come to the forefront.

Or could it be the authors of the NIE, chagrined by their Iraqi WMD issue, decide to play it safe with their report.

No way to know? When we watch the ashes of Tel Aviv falling to the ground will the NIE authors say "Darn, missed again!"

Truth be told, there Erb. If you believe the report then that is about as good a reason as I could ever find not to believe it.
 
Written By: SShiell
URL: http://
Well, it seems there has been some flip-flopping being done by one of the authors of the NIE Report as being reported over at The Captain’s Quarters’ Blog. On 11 July 2007, Dr. Thomas Fingar, Deputy Director for Analysis testified before the House Armed Service Committee. Just a slice:
Iran and North Korea are the states of most concern to us. The United States’ concerns about Iran are shared by many nations, including many of Iran’s neighbors. Iran is continuing to pursue uranium enrichment and has shown more interest in protracting negotiations and working to delay and diminish the impact of UNSC sanctions than in reaching an acceptable diplomatic solution. We assess that Tehran is determined to develop nuclear weapons—despite its international obligations and international pressure. This is a grave concern to the other countries in the region whose security would be threatened should Iran acquire nuclear weapons.
This guy Fingar was one of the main authors of the NIE report. So, it is no wonder the Administration is wondering what happened in the meantime.

As a side note: Retief. Your statement that:
This NIE was ready to go a year ago, but this administration didn’t like the conclusions.
Considering Fingar was one of the main authors of the NIE report, comments you make are just like you - BS.
 
Written By: SShiell
URL: http://
"I think the NIE report is a sign that the neo-conservatives have lost the bureaucratic politics game in the White House,"

Funny, I always thought the NIE was produced by the intelligence community, not the White House. Of course, I am not an expert in political science.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
Boris Erb squats and pees on the carpet in front of the dinner guests:
I think the NIE report is a sign that the neo-conservatives have lost the bureaucratic politics game in the White House, and the realists have won. In a best case scenario, this could also signal an improvement in American-Iranian diplomacy involving Iraq. More on my thoughts on my blog.
The NIE report is a sign that the intel community is trying to make policy.

Its conclusion about Iran turning the lights out in its nuclear weapons development program is meaningless in the face of Iran continuing to enrich uranium. It’s also meaningless in the face of the record of the Iranian regime.

But, yes, everyone go to Boris’s blog. No one should miss that Chatty Cathy on meth-amphetamine experience.
 
Written By: Martin McPhillips
URL: http://mcphillips.blogspot.com/
Caught a piece of MSNBC’s Hardball with Chris Matthews.

He and Bill Richardson don’t seem to understand that the NIE changes nothing in regard to the sanctions, since they are based of the actions or inactions in regard to the uranium enrichment program that the Iranians have admitted to having and are now running, but whose purpose is still not completely clear.

None of the sanctions have anything to do with a nuclear weapons program that may or may not be operational.

I also loved the clip of Bush referring to the Iranians coming clean on their "program", which Matthews assumed was the "nuclear weapons program" but quite obviously was the "uranium enrichment program". Can’t these clown keep up with the "program" ?

Richardson and Matthews ending thinking what fine pair their were. Yeah, a pair of idiots.
 
Written By: Neo
URL: http://
Good, now just get the neo-conservatives in Israel to agree with your assessment and they won’t see any need to send Israeli warplanes in to make new parking lots in Iran like they did in Syria.
Israel can do what it wants, I’m concerned with US policy.

But the idea that Iran would attack Israel is a bit nuts. They know Israel could destroy them, they don’t have a death wish. Iran is a threat to Israel, but not because of nukes, but because of groups like Hezbollah. Nukes are an indirect threat, in that they provide a deterrent factor and assure Iran of being a regional power (though again, they appear quite aways away from getting them). I don’t think the Israelis are stupid enough to think Iran would try to nuke them. But they are smart enough to know that nukes are not the biggest threat to the Jewish state. Terrorist organizations like Hamas and Hezbollah are.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
"But the idea that Iran would attack Israel is a bit nuts."

Because, as we all know, all nations act by our standard of rationality at all times, based on perfect information and sound assumptions. And we know that nothing in the future will change this.

"But they are smart enough to know that nukes are not the biggest threat to the Jewish state. Terrorist organizations like Hamas and Hezbollah are"

How many nuclear weapons do you think it would take to destroy Israel as a nation? Why hasn’t Hamas or Hezbollah done so?
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
I have no doubt Israel is sitting on a policy of deterrence that simply goes like this: If we are Nuked, Iran will receive the brunt of our retaliation. And I believe this to be a policy directly aimed at the possibility that Hezbollah and Hamas will act as agents for Iran in that eventuality.

(Note: If they do not have such a policy in place - I would do so yesterday if I were Israel.)
 
Written By: SShiell
URL: http://
"But the idea that Iran would attack Israel is a bit nuts."
I’m sure your assessment of Iran’s intentions will be as well received in Tel Aviv as the latest CIA intelligence reports are.

 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
But the idea that Iran would attack Israel is a bit nuts. They know Israel could destroy them, they don’t have a death wish.
Really? It seems there are those in Iran who would disagree with you. Hashemi-Rafsanjani, widely recognized as a moderate, once called on Muslim states to use nuclear weapon against Israel, assuring them that while such an attack would annihilate Israel, it would cost them "damages only". (Source: http://www.iran-press-service.com/articles_2001/dec_2001/rafsanjani_nuke_threats_141201.htm )

You are right - that is a bit nuts. But your statement sounds more like you are projecting because you cannot produce any factual basis for your statements.
 
Written By: SShiell
URL: http://
SShiell, of what exactly do you think the fact that an analyst publicly toes the party line in talking to congress is evidence? Go read the link. This was reported on a year ago.
 
Written By: Retief
URL: http://
I have no doubt Israel is sitting on a policy of deterrence that simply goes like this: If we are Nuked, Iran will receive the brunt of our retaliation. And I believe this to be a policy directly aimed at the possibility that Hezbollah and Hamas will act as agents for Iran in that eventuality.
That makes sense. I don’t think any top analyst, even in Israel, truly expects a frontal assault by Iran with nuclear weapons. Iranian foreign policy has been rational, consistent, Machiavellian and focused on being a regional power connecting Central Asia to the Mideast. Moreover, being Persian (and other ethnic groups) and not Arab, they don’t have the kind of emotional attachment to the Israeli-Palestinian issue as the Arabs do.

BUT the real thing that should scare Israel is the power of Hezbollah and Hamas, with Hezbollah more directly tied to Iran. Even if they never use nukes, Hezbollah can do a lot to hurt Israel. The fear of the US and Israel isn’t a sudden attack (though that might be cited for propaganda purposes — to get the public to see Iran as crazy and dangerous), but rather a shift of geopolitical strength to Iran. A nuclear Iran with a Hezbollah surrogate and ties to China and Russia would be the dominant regional power, and Israeli security would be compromised. Even without being attacked by WMD, Israel does face an existential threat. I also think that in both the US and Israel, they believe an all out confrontation with Iran would end up doing more harm than good. It is better to use international pressure and a carrot and stick approach to contain Iran and its desire to use Hezbollah aggressively (no doubt there are ongoing efforts to decouple Iran and Hezbollah — an Israeli deal with Syria might help do that).

Ultimately, though, I think Iraq has proven that military solutions to these threats are very, very dangerous. What appears to be a ’slam dunk’ or a cake walk can become a fiasco and a quagmire. The heady idealism of 2003 is giving way to a sober realism. Which, of course, is reminscient of the shift from JFK’s policies to Nixon’s back in the 60s (I’m sure Teddy would love to see his brother compared to Bush...)
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
This was reported on a year ago.
And I don’t care when it was reported but I do care about the source. The Deputy Director of the Analysis Directorate of the CIA testified in front of the House Armed Service Committee in July of THIS YEAR that Iran was actively pursuing Nuclear weaponry. For someone who has to put policy into effect, I would think that person would rely on his own intelligence services for the information he needed, rather than some article in a foreign newspaper. (Note: From a country whose own intelligence analysis match the July testimony.) The question remains - what happened between July of this year and the publication of the NIE report to change the status. (Which, according to the CIA itself, the administration had not seen prior to Wednesday of last week)

Now, if you want to further back up your claim with references to the National Inquirer - go for it!
 
Written By: SShiell
URL: http://
Erb, I think I see a pig flying in the far distance. In many ways, I agree with you on this one.
The fear of the US and Israel isn’t a sudden attack (though that might be cited for propaganda purposes — to get the public to see Iran as crazy and dangerous), but rather a shift of geopolitical strength to Iran.
I believe that is already happening but has not come to full fruition as yet. Iran must remove the sanctions - by hook or crook - or they can get all of the geopolitical power they want, it will be a power they will be unable to employ.

Why do I say that? Infrastructure. Iran is stuck in the 70s, economically and industrially. Sanctions employed in previous years have kept them from advancing and has caught them with their pants down. Imagine Germany prior to their industrialization on the 30s. Had war begun in 29 and not 39, Germany would have been pounded into the turf because they could not compete industrially. Iran is in the same fix. What the Versailles Treaty did to Germany of the 20s and 30s, Sanctions are affecting Iran in the same way today. Inflation, unemployment, balance of trade are all working against the Mullahs within the country and as long as some semblence of sanctions remian in place they will effectively be 40 years behind the rest of the world and working half-days to catch up. The only thing that is keeping their heads above water is $90+ a barrel of oil. And if the price of oil were to drop to the 50s again, watch out. That would push Iran into a corner, and a cornered animal is a desperate one.

(Note: I think JFK and W would have gotten along quite nicely, thank you very much.)
 
Written By: SShiell
URL: http://
Iran was actively pursuing Nuclear weaponry
Not according to your excerpt. In your quote, which I assume is the strongest statement supporting your contention, he focuses on US concerns, not facts.
Iran and North Korea are the states of most concern to us. The United States’ concerns about Iran are shared by many nations, including many of Iran’s neighbors. Iran is continuing to pursue uranium enrichment and has shown more interest in protracting negotiations and working to delay and diminish the impact of UNSC sanctions than in reaching an acceptable diplomatic solution. We assess that Tehran is determined to develop nuclear weapons—despite its international obligations and international pressure. This is a grave concern to the other countries in the region whose security would be threatened should Iran acquire nuclear weapons.
The only thing he affirms is that Iran is continuing to pursue uranium enrichment, which nobody disputes. Other than that it is all US concerns, interpretations of Iran’s interests during negotiations, and assesments of Iranian desires. There is nothing there that indicates that Iran was actively pursuing Nuclear weaponry. No doubt his statement was carefully constructed to avoid precisely such a statement.
 
Written By: Retief
URL: http://
The only thing he affirms is that Iran is continuing to pursue uranium enrichment, which nobody disputes.
There is nothing there that indicates that Iran was actively pursuing Nuclear weaponry.
Yeah, they need the 3000 centrifuges to get enough really heavy metal to craft superb ball bearings to supply the latest fad in skateboards that’s sweeping Tehran.
I mean considering the fact that they can fulfill their nuclear fuel requirements for any civilian power reactors from Russia that’s the only answer left for why they’d need any centrifuges in the first place.
 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
Maybe they don’t think depending on Russia forever is in their best strategic interest?
 
Written By: Retief
URL: http://
Ah, is this the new rational for their behavior.
You guys don’t miss a beat.
 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
SShiell: OK, our analysis on Iran is similar. Here’s a couple of points:

1. The US goal has been to alter the geopolitical balance in the region to one more conducive to American interests. This generally is seen as benevolent, a desire to eclipse extremism and support freedom and markets. However, if this goal is not stated and instead an alternative reason for policy activity is given — e.g., Iraq is getting WMD, or Iran will start WWIII — then it might at first be easier to sell the policy, but it can hurt ones’ credibility. That’s happened to the US with Iraq.

2. I agree completely that Iranian power is a very serious and real threat to both western interests and Israel. Their tools include terror organizations like Hezbollah and their strategic position in the Persian gulf (which can allow them to manipulate oil prices). They are Machiavellian in the way they play the game, and have developed real relationships with Russia, China and recently have even opened more to Saudi Arabia.

Point of contention: Is Iran a state that can ultimately be dealt with through a containment policy with something like detente, doing what is necessary to deter real aggression? Or is it a state which will only be defeated by regime change or military action? I’m absolutely convinced that the evidence strongly points to the former, that they have real weaknesses and real interests which will compromises possible. Moreover, I suspect that one reason the NIE report came as it did was because progress might be being made with them, especially concerning Iraq. It may be that the Bush Administration already decided that they reached a point where a change of tone made sense, and this is how it’s being engineered. If that’s the case, it’s a real success for the President.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Retief, go back and read your own comment. I realize he was speaking of concerns. You highlighted the testimony.
We assess that Tehran is determined to develop nuclear weapons
And you said what?
There is nothing there that indicates that Iran was actively pursuing Nuclear weaponry.
’Scuse me? Do you mind running that by me again? He said "Tehran is determined to develop nuclear weapons" but you interpeted that to mean "There is nothing there that indicates that Iran was actively pursuing Nuclear weaponry."

Is English your second language or what?
 
Written By: SShiell
URL: http://
Erb, I have stated on more than one occasion in this blog that war with Iran at this time could be disasterous. Not that we couldn’t cripple Iran’s nuclear weapons development program but more because of the resultant regional conflict that I believe would arise from such an attack.

At this time, I agree with you. Containment is the better course to pursue. And that very course is one of the reasons our continued presence in Iraq and Afghanistan is so important. A simple look at a map should show you with Iraq on the West and Afghanistan on their Eastern border, Iran is surrounded by US military power. Whether it is employed or not is almost immaterial. The fact that it is there and, even you will have to admit, as battle hardened and veteran a force as you have never seen since the end of World War Two, will be enough to force the Iranians to pause and consider. My experience has taught me: In war, he who hesitates is lost.

If the recent NIE is in fact correct and Iran did in fact shelve its nuclear program back in 2003, you have to ask yourself why? And the answer may not be to your liking but it could very well be our presence on both of its borders was enough to force a pause.

Where you and I disagree is the point of whether Iran "can ultimately be dealt with" at all. With the current leadership in place, I do not believe Iran can be dealt with and ultimatley there will be conflict in the region. So my only concern is the question - Now or later? Right now later seems to be the better answer hoping their leadership changes for the better.

(Note: I said Their leadership - not ours!)
 
Written By: SShiell
URL: http://
Dude, Saddam was determined too. But he wasn’t actively building the bomb. This statement is very carefully worded to avoid saying that Tehran was actively pursuing nuclear weapons.

looker, I don’t need to explain their behavior, all I have to do is point out a possibility other than the one you’ve latched on to.

SShiell,
Where you and I disagree is the point of whether Iran "can ultimately be dealt with" at all. With the current leadership in place, I do not believe Iran can be dealt with and ultimatley there will be conflict in the region. So my only concern is the question - Now or later? Right now later seems to be the better answer hoping their leadership changes for the better.
What in your view is Iran proper place in the region and in the world?
 
Written By: Retief
URL: http://
Where you and I disagree is the point of whether Iran "can ultimately be dealt with" at all. With the current leadership in place, I do not believe Iran can be dealt with and ultimatley there will be conflict in the region. So my only concern is the question - Now or later? Right now later seems to be the better answer hoping their leadership changes for the better.
Yes, we disagree. Moreover, I also question how serious a threat Iran is to the United States (would confronting Iran do us more harm than good?) Israel naturally sees Iran as a more serious threat, but Israeli interests are not American interests. In general, perhaps the less involved we were in the politics of that region, the better off we’d be (as is clear, I’m anti-interventionist in general on American foreign policy, and was just as critical of Clinton’s interventionism when he was President).

I do think Iran will change on its own. Clearly leadership changes, Ahmadinejad will very likely fail in his bid for re-election. The Supreme Leader is ill and old, and recent elections for the body that would choose his replacement found the conservatives and hard liners doing very poorly. Change will likely be slow, but it’s not like Iran is some kind of Stalinist state. Be patient. Iran will improve via slow steps ;-)
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Moreover, I also question how serious a threat Iran is to the United States
To the US, militarily, little or none. Economically? How does $200 a barrel of oil sound to you.

Probable? In the short run, No. Possible? With the current Iranian leadership - Yes. Would it be cutting off their nose to spite their face? Yes. But they don’t seem to care much what their nose looks like.

You tend to do a whole lot of projection, Erb. You look at what the logical person would do in a situation. I have lived in that part of the world. Logic has little or nothing to do with the day to day world out there - at least to our sense of logic. You find it hard to believe that they are as radical as they seem at times. You tend to believe it is for show, at least to a great extent. It is not. You see them chanting "Death of Israel" and "Death the America" and tend to think it is just sloganism. It is not.

As you, I am hopeful for leadership change in Iran. But if that new leadership is typical of what we in the west view as a Moderate, we may be in for a rude awakening. Rafsanjani, for example. He was the previous President nd lost to Allonmydinnerjacket only after the second ballot. Is is considered by many in the west to be moderate but he postulated that a nuclear exchange which destroyed Israel would be beneficial to the Muslim world:
If one day, the Islamic world is also equipped with weapons like those that Israel possesses now, then the imperialists’ strategy will reach a standstill because the use of even one nuclear bomb inside Israel will destroy everything. However, it will only harm the Islamic world. It is not irrational to contemplate such an eventuality.
And he is considered by many to be "a pragmatic conservative, who supports a centrist (but nonetheless Islamist) position domestically and a moderate position internationally, seeking to avoid conflict with the United States." If that is our view of an Iranian Moderate, I have to fear any future dealings with that country.
 
Written By: SShiell
URL: http://
SSHiell, "I lived in that part of the world" is as persausive as "I have a Ph.D.," it is a claim to authority that is irrelevant. I have a number of friends from Iran who would strongly disagree with you — they don’t like the current government, but they don’t think Iran is a real threat. Now, you may think they are wrong, but clearly they nullify at least for me your "I lived in that part of the world." Moreover, you are objectively wrong in saying that logic is irrelevant in that part of the world. Look behind the rhetoric and the extremists you might see in the street and look at actions. Iran is exceedingly rational in it’s foreign policy, and also fundamentally Machiavellian — amoral, they’ll do whatever they can get away with, but know when to pull back. That’s also pretty much what the NIE says.

So yes, Iran is a threat. It certainly is a threat to Israel. But the level of threat it poses to the US is limited, and we just need to be very clear in dealing with them. Because war would assure the economic problems you describe.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
You know the difference between us, Erb? You speak of what should be - I speak of what could.

The only reason I mention I have spent time in the region is that some of the people you depend upon for their analysis (like Juan Cole) have not. My time in the region means nothing, but from my time in the region I have learned it is better to trust the translation of a native than to someone who has never been to Iran. (Reference: Al Jazeera’s versus Juan Cole’s "Wipe Israel Off the Map" translations.) Which is one of many discriminations you seem to lack.

The man in the street does not push the button for war or conflict. That may not mean so much in this country where there are checks and balances built into the power structure regarding the wielding of such power. In Iran, and you can go ask your friends about this one, there are no such checks and balances. My point is simple: Any country whose "moderate’ leaders consider nuclear conflict rational is a threat to Israel and to us and the rest of the world - regardless of what you think they should do.
 
Written By: SShiell
URL: http://
SShiell, I guess you weren’t listening to Cap Weinberger and the Reagan Administration in the eighties as they were discussing a winnable (and Weinberger even hinted at inevitable) nuclear war. Of course Iran is a threat to Israel. And of course Israel has a strong deterrent (though it is in Iran’s interest to suggest that the deterrent may not be enough — again, look at the Cold War rhetorical games about nuclear weapons). And, of course, I still can’t say that you’re having been there trumps all the scholarship out there, and the words of those who lived and grew up there. In fact, it’s a meaningless attempt to claim authority in an argument, no more valuable than if I said that because I have a Ph.D. you should simply trust my judgment. Throw out both claims to authority, look at the arguments and analysis.

So, they, threats exist. Israel and the US is a threat to Iran, calling for "regime change" and labeling them the "axis of evil" is just as much a rhetorical bomb as what Ahmadinejad said. Looking at us from those quotes and we look like imperialists who want to shape the world in our western image, regardless of the will and identities of others. So let the politicians have their rhetoric, but recognize that reacting to cherry picked quotes does not really make for analysis.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
So let the politicians have their rhetoric, but recognize that reacting to cherry picked quotes does not really make for analysis.
Pot Meet Kettle! Looks like it’s black all around!
 
Written By: SShiell
URL: http://

 
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