The recently released National Intelligence Estimate on Iran’s nuclear ambitions has sent the neoconservatives into a frenzy of disbelief and recrimination against the CIA suggesting even that the CIA are plotting to undermine President George W. Bush and his stance against Iran.
Bush and his Secretary of State, Condoleeza Rice, have been insisting that Iran has been developing production facilities for enriching uranium to the levels needed to produce a nuclear weapon. Bush and Rice have also been insisting that the world can stop Iran enriching uranium by using diplomacy via the UN but have not, however, taken the military option ‘off the table’. Meanwhile, Vice-President Cheney has been saying that diplomacy is not going to work inferring that the only option is to militarily destroy Iran’s nuclear facilities. Cheney is backed up by neoconservatives both inside the administration and in the think-tanks and commentariat.
The neoconservatives have been the most ardent supporters of military action against Iran. In June of this year arch-neoconservative theorist, Norman Podhoretz, wrote his now well known article, ‘The Case for Bombing Iran’ in which he called, indeed prayed, for the destruction of Iran’s nuclear facilities. He felt sure that Bush “…will find it possible to take the only action that can stop Iran from following through on its evil intentions both toward us and toward Israel.” The NIE report, therefore, has come as a blow to Podhoretz. In his latest commentary Podhoretz accuses the CIA of plotting against Bush. He writes: “But I entertain an even darker suspicion. It is that the intelligence community, which has for some years now been leaking material calculated to undermine George W. Bush, is doing it again. This time the purpose is to head off the possibility that the President may order air strikes on the Iranian nuclear installations.”
Podhoretz is not the only neocon that is furious over the report. Ultra neocon warhawk Michael Ledeen, the so-called ‘Resident Scholar of the Freedom Chair’ at neocon headquarters, the American Enterprise Institute, finds the report simply unbelievable and can barely contain his seething cynicism and contempt of the ‘Intelligence Community’.
Max Boot, meanwhile, writing in the Wall Street Journal tries desperately to hide his disappointment of the implications of the report by reiterating the usual propaganda and rhetoric that the neocons have been spouting ever since the ousting of Shah and adding that he believes that many of the Arab states in the region wouldn’t mind seeing Iran attacked in order to ensure that Iran doesn’t become a regional nuclear power.
One of the most hawkish of all of the neocons, John Bolton, has also waded into the argument saying, predictably, that the report is simply wrong and the Intelligence Community “…is engaging in policy formulation rather than "intelligence" analysis, and too many in Congress and the media are happy about it.”
Bolton begrudgingly concedes, however, that: “While the president and others argue that we need to maintain pressure on Iran, this ‘intelligence’ torpedo has all but sunk those efforts, inadequate as they were.”
Certainly, short of some other startling evidence surfacing that contradicts the NIE report, or, alternatively, some other ‘event’ happening that can be blamed on Iran, the NIE report has effectively put an end to the notion that the US will unilaterally and pre-emptively attack Iran. But, as I and others have already written, the NEI report would not preclude the US from covertly supporting an initial attack on Iran by the Israelis and then overtly attacking the Iranians immediately after an Israeli initial attack in order to prevent an Iranian counter attack.
The NIE report has pushed the neocons further now into the Israeli right-wing Zionist camp because it is now only the Israelis that will be able to launch a pre-emptive attack against Iran.
But then, isn’t that what the neoconservatives wanted in the first place? An attack against the Iranians for the sake of Israel’s quest for a Greater Israel? And doesn’t it almost get Bush and the not-quite-as-hawkish members of his administration of the ‘warmonger’ hook – a call American public opinion is unlikely to tolerate?
So where does the NIE report now leave us?
Essentially, all it has done is put a slightly new slant on the propaganda and rhetoric against Iran. Since the issue of Iran’s nuclear ambitions is merely a smoke screen for Israeli and neocon calls for ‘regime change’ generally, the NIE report has simply moved the onus of effecting ‘regime change’ from the US to Israel.
Just as an aside, while the NIE report says that Iran stopped its ‘nuclear weapon program’ in 2003, the inference is that Iran had a nuclear weapon program prior to 2003. The reality is that there is still not a skerrick of evidence to suggest that Iran had a nuclear weapon program before 2003.
ISRAEL WARNS IRAN TO CO-OPERATE OR ‘PAY THE PRICE’
In a follow up to the above report, it seems Israel has been quick to warn Iran of military action telling Iran to “…co-operate or pay the price”. Since Iran has actually nothing to ‘co-operate’ about, especially in the light of the NIE report, one can expect that Israel will take military action.