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The thoughts and theories of a guy who basically should have gone to bed hours ago.

I know, I know - what's the point? But look at it this way - I stayed up late writing it, but you're reading it...

Let's call ourselves even & move on, OK?

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Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Bush Administration Beseiged by Good News

Power Line points us to this Washington Post article about the recent NIE finding that Iran halted it's nuclear weapons program in 2003.

The title of the article is A Blow To Bush's Tehran Policy.

Here's a sample:

The new intelligence report released yesterday not only undercut the administration's alarming rhetoric over Iran's nuclear ambitions but could also throttle Bush's effort to ratchet up international sanctions and take off the table the possibility of preemptive military action before the end of his presidency.

Iran had been shaping up as perhaps the dominant foreign policy issue of Bush's remaining year in office and of the presidential campaign to succeed him. Now leaders at home and abroad will have to rethink what they thought they knew about Tehran's intentions and capabilities.

This could possibly be the most twisted logic I've ever seen in a mainstream news article. Basically, they're saying that Bush and Co. were gearing up for war in order to stop Iran's nuclear program, and now that we've learned the nuclear program has stopped, the whole "gearing up for war" plan is a miserable failure.

By "failure" here, they could just as easily have meant "success." The point is not (nor is ever) to go to war. I realize that those seeking to paint the President as an indiscriminate war hawk say that over and over again, but in the real world, the point is to promote the best interests of the United States. If our actions (both our military actions in Afghanistan/Iraq and our diplomatic saber-rattling regarding Iran) helped convince Iran to stop pursuing nuclear weapons, then the policy worked, and we're happy to achieve our goals without military conflict. To declare something a failure because the contingency plan you had in case of failure had to be scrapped is twisted logic indeed.

National Security Adviser Stephen J. Hadley tried to say as much:

The White House said the report vindicated its concerns because it concluded that Iran did have a nuclear weapons program until halting it in 2003 and it showed that U.S.-led diplomatic pressure had succeeded in forcing Tehran's hand. "On balance, the estimate is good news," said national security adviser Stephen J. Hadley. "On the one hand, it confirms that we were right to be worried about Iran seeking to develop nuclear weapons. On the other hand, it tells us that we have made some progress in trying to ensure that that does not happen."

Hadley disagreed that the report showed that past administration statements have been wrong, noting that collecting intelligence on a "hard target" such as Iran is notoriously difficult. "Welcome to the real world," he said.

Indeed. In fact, the big risk now, as I see it, is what happens if this intelligence estimate is found to be wrong. After all, we were pretty convinced that North Korea had given up their program after signing a treaty during the Clinton administration, only to find out later that they'd been continuing in secret. If we find out two years from now (or heaven forbid, just before the 2008 election) that Iran still has a nuclear weapons program, will statements made today be held up as evidence for "Bush lied, people died?"

Our leaders certainly deserve a great deal of criticism of late, mostly for not modifying their approach in the face of new information. When they do acknowledge a new direction, dragging them through the public square for it seems rather hypocritical.

posted by Brian at 4:58 PM


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