I made the sound of one jaw dropping Monday when National Security Adviser Steven Hadley said that the latest National Intelligence Estimate on Iran "suggests that the President has the right strategy."
On Tuesday, Mr. Bush himself further confounded me when he said the NIE indicated the need to further intensify the harsh sanctions against Iran and, apparently, nixed any notion that his administration would accept any new diplomatic initiative from Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
I nearly became hysterical later on Tuesday when neoconservative fabulist Frank Gaffney said in the National Review that the NIE's reasons for assessing that Iran abandoned its nuclear weapons program were "highly subjective and debatable," even though those reasons were highly classified and there's no conceivable way he could know what they were. Wednesday evening I experienced something akin to rapture when Gaffney repeated his spiel on Chris Matthews' Hardball and demonstrated once again to the entire known universe that he wouldn't know reality if it crawled up his pant leg and died there.
Madmen, Neocons and the Washington Post
In all, the neocons' reaction to the NIE shows that at this point in their tea party, they've all gone hare and hatter bat plop crazy. The main myth they're trying to spin is straight out of an H.G. Wells novel. The intelligence estimate judges with "high confidence" that "in the fall of 2003, Tehran halted its nuclear weapons program." How does Hadley expect us to believe that Bush's Iran policy had anything to do with that? John Bolton and his team of leg breakers didn't bully the U.N. Security Council into ordering Iran to suspend all uranium enrichment activity until 2006. However you want to parse what Hadley and others are saying about Bush's "right strategy," they're trying to plant the idea into the minds of Joe Six Pack and Melissa Merlot alike that Bush's tough guy stance was the thing that made Iran give up its nuclear bomb program, and there's no way that happened unless the smart boys at the American Enterprise Institute invented a time machine we don't know about.
Bush is trying to hang much of the justification for continuing his present Iran policy on Ahmadinejad. To hear Bush tell it, he was all roses and lipstick with Iran until Ahmadinejad came into power, and that's when he had to turn into a big meanie. It's more accurate to say Bush didn't pay much attention to Iran until Ahmadinejad came along and started hurling schoolyard insults at him, which Ahmadinejad knew full well that Bush would react to like a kindergartner. Bush is trying to fabricate an impossible link between Ahmadinejad and nuclear weapons even though the most pre-sapien members of his following can plainly see there isn't one.
And Frank, Gaffney… My word! I've come to expect pretzel logic from him, but lately he's sounding as batty as I've heard him since the first time he compared somebody he didn't like with Hitler. He's no longer content to compare apples and oranges; now he's equating oranges with elephants. In his latest article for National Review titled "Where’s Our Churchill?," he describes Iran as "a regime animated by apocalyptic visions every bit as dark as Mein Kampf," and echoes the standard neocon wheeze that frames direct diplomatic talks with Iran as the present day analog of Neville Chamberlain's "appeasement" of Nazi Germany in 1938.
Gaffney and his fellow ficticioners don't bother to mention that in 1938, Nazi Germany had the world's most highly trained and technically advanced military and nobody was ready to stand up to it. The gross domestic product and defense budget of 21st century Iran, by contrast, are less than five percent those of the United States. And unlike 19th and 20th century Germany, modern Iran has never initiated an armed conflict.
When you're more than twenty times stronger than a country that has never started a war, talking to it hardly constitutes "appeasement."
In March 2006 Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said that America "faces no greater challenge from a single country" than Iran. If that's the case, we can quit spending more than a half trillion dollars a year on our military because we don't need one.
It's not a surprise, or even a disappointment, that the administration continues to pluck its Iran narrative from a bull. But I'm devastated that the editorial staff of the erstwhile fourth estate bastion Washington Post is so willing to help the Bush crowd erase history before it's even written. Their Wednesday column, "Intelligence on Iran," backs the Bush company line by recommending that it's an "odd time to recommend" that the administration drop the "precondition that the [Iranian] regime suspend uranium enrichment" prior to beginning "a broad dialogue."
This completely ignores the clause in the U.N. Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty--which both the United States and Iran have ratified--that says "Nothing in this Treaty shall be interpreted as affecting the inalienable right of all the Parties to the Treaty to develop research, production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes."
Our intelligence agencies just told us Iran isn't developing nuclear energy for weapons purposes, and we're signatories on the treaty that guarantees Iran's right to do what it's doing. The WaPo editorial staff dances around this circumstance by trotting out the lamest bullet in the neocons' Iran bashing arsenal: "Iran's massive overt investment in uranium enrichment meanwhile proceeds in defiance of binding U.N. resolutions [which, keep in mind, are in defiance of the U.N.'s own Non-Proliferation Treaty], even though Tehran has no legitimate use for enriched uranium."
A first semester political science major at the most obscure community college in America can figure out that the less of its own oil an emerging nation burns, the more it can sell to finance its infrastructure and economic growth. Before said poli-sci major starts her sophomore year, she can piece together the strategic wisdom that says if you're the first Middle East oil nation to establish a functioning nuclear energy industry, you'll become a regional superpower.
And by the time she's picked up a full scholarship to finish her baccalaureate studies at Stanford, she'll realize that the Iran crisis has always been about nuclear energy, not nuclear weapons, because if Iran and its senior partners China and Russia can control when and how the world transitions from fossil fuel to the power of the sun, Dick and Dubya's big oil buddies will have to suck hind spigot on the global energy cash cow.
If our small town poli-sci major can figure that out, the editorial staff of the mighty Washington Post should damn well be able to figure it out too.
It sickens my heart to reflect that in my youth, the Washington Post single-handedly rescued the United States Constitution from obliteration at the hands of Richard Milhouse Nixon.
What has become of us?
Commander Jeff Huber, U.S. Navy (Retired) writes from Virginia Beach, Virginia. Jeff's novel Bathtub Admirals (Kunati Books) will be available April 1, 2008.