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The Beauty In Ambiguity: Interpreting The New NIE Report

By Kam Zarrabi, Intellectual Discourse


The recent NIE report has caused quite a stir among political analysts both for and against tightening the noose around Iran's neck over its nuclear program.


Questions are being raised whether the President knew about the recent findings long before its announcement and, if he did, when did he first become aware of it. According to several informed sources, the Vice President had been aware of the NIE findings as far back as a year ago, but angered with the report in its preliminary form, had tried to pressure the analysts to modify its context in order to comply more closely with the official Administration rhetoric about the imminent dangers of Iran's nuclear agenda. Both the President and his Vice President are now being blamed by the antagonists of the Republican administration for hiding the truth and deliberately lying to pave the way for extending the war into Iran.


Meanwhile, the hawkish media pundits have been throwing fits over the report, either denouncing it as false or interpreting the conclusions in the report in ways that would reinforce their original contentions about Iran's evil intents.


The report can, in fact, be interpreted in several ways, and to be certain, deliberately so. During his news conference, the President did exactly that. He seemed quite sincere that the NIE report had made it quite clear to him that Iran did have a nuclear weapons program until 2003, when it was rolled back due to the international pressures spearheaded by the United States. That, according to George W. Bush, proves that 1/ international pressures have actually been quite effective and, 2/ that there is no guarantee that Iran would not restart its weapons program clandestinely. He, therefore, concluded that continuous pressure on Iran will be necessary to prevent that eventuality. He emphasized that in his opinion Iran was a danger to world peace then, and continues to be a threat now.


There is, however, another way to interpret the NIE report, its contents and the timing of its release.


The American administration has been under relentless pressure, starting even before the invasion of Iraq, to target Iran for regime change, by force if necessary. The major proponents of this policy were the Israel lobby and its subordinate organizations, the neoconservative block, and the fundamentalist Christian Zionists whose influence on the White House has been more than marginal.


To pick a fight, so to say, Iran was accused of attempting to add nuclear weapons to its arsenal and hiding its illegal activities behind its lawful electrical generation projects. More allegations were trumped up to further rationalize the Administration's position regarding the Iranian "threat", which included Iran's interference in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as its support for "terrorist" organizations, Hezbollah of Lebanon and the Palestinian Hamas. Next was Ahmadinejad's unmeasured utterances about the "regime of occupation", meaning Israel, the Holocaust, as well as his exaggerated claims regarding Iran's uranium enrichment successes that, perhaps deliberately, left the door open for mistranslations and distortion.


After repeated statements by the IAEA that there was no evidence that Iran's nuclear projects were aimed at weapons development, the rhetoric from Washington was readjusted without missing a beat; now it was the possibility that Iran  might gain the "knowledge" of bomb-making that was equally as bad as actually making an atom bomb! The beauty of this line of "logic" was that the assertion was impossible to disprove, regardless of the IAEA findings.


Many political commentators and analyst familiar with the Middle East affairs saw an imminent threat of war against the Islamic Republic, calling it inevitable and only a matter of time and convenience. But it became quickly apparent that there existed a rift between the State Department and the war machine at Pentagon and the White House over the advisability of extending the war into Iran. Many among the top brass, especially the more senior and retired generals, were in disagreement with the prevailing mindset by the Administration hawks to push the war option regardless of its potentially disastrous consequences.


It had also become clear that the forces instrumental in driving anti Iran sentiments in the United States, were not as able to convince America's European allies to prefer the war option over diplomatic alternatives to deal with what was being portrayed as an "Iranian threat".


More importantly, Russia and China, the two giants with veto power in the Security Council and both with deep economic and strategic interests in Iran, began to show increasing opposition to the American attempts to heat up the war rhetoric to its flashpoint.


Most international observers, including myself, were of the opinion that even if Iran were, contrary to its official claims, developing a nuclear arms capability, possession of the bomb would only serve the Islamic Republic as a deterrent or a defensive tool, making it very costly for anyone to launch an attack upon its soil. There would be no reason, we argued, to assume that the Iranians would initiate a nuclear attack against Israel or anyone else in the region and self-destruct in the process. It was, therefore, quite clear that what was really meant by an "Iranian threat" was the fear that a nuclear armed Iran might discourage Israel and the United States from taking hostile actions against its territory for regime change as advertised, if not for outright occupation as in Iraq.


The wording and the timing of the new NIE report will, in effect, provide a new opportunity or a new "excuse" for the United States to, somewhat gracefully, adjust its counterproductive policies toward the Islamic Republic.


This is more than a win-win situation between the two arch antagonists. In this case nearly everyone can declare victory and come out a winner!


As the US President has already stated, the NIE report has simply validated his policy of diplomatic pressure, threats of possible military action and continued economic sanctions, leading to Iran's abandonment of its nuclear weapons programs in 2003.


Iran's exuberance is also well rationalized, and we read in the international press how the real winner has been the Iranian President Ahmadinejad, and the loser, George W. Bush.


The Russian, the Chinese and the non-aligned states opposed to sanctions or war against Iran feel vindicated. Russian Foreign Minister, Lavrov, was quoted as saying that Russia has no evidence that Tehran had ever had a secret nuclear weapons program in violation of international treaty obligations.


Meanwhile, the Democratic Party candidates will be using the report as a weapon against their Republican rivals, and the Republicans will be interpreting the same findings in ways that boost their own arguments.


The NIE report, in short, is vague enough to allow all parties concerned to declare victory of sorts and, at the same time, to keep the window of opportunity open for maneuvering the events toward a potential reconciliation or a détente to avoid a catastrophic war.


The hostile rhetoric from Washington will surely continue, superficially to be sure, in a face-saving attempt to retain credibility by "staying the course".  While the State Department keeps on pressing the Western allies and the Security Council for stricter economic sanctions on Iran, something that Condi Rice must do to retain the image of the world's superpower, the diplomatic approach will gain a renewed impetus.


The only groups that are sweating caustic soda and &%$##$*@ bricks in the public media over the new report are the hardcore Israel worshipping Zionists exemplified by John Bolton, and the Israeli regime, of course. The Israeli media are already up at arms trying to prove that the NIE report has been politically motivated and flawed.


In a twisted way they are absolutely right. The new report has been clearly politically motivated, but not for the same reasons that its detractors maintain. The likes of John Bolton, William Bennett, the hawkish media opinion molders and the neoconservatives claim that the report was prepared with the aim of discrediting the Republican White House.


It would, however, make much more sense to argue that the new NIE report was prepared under the direction of the Republican White House, preapproved even by the Vice President himself who has already declared that he cannot see anything wrong with its conclusions, in order to facilitate a strategic ratcheting down of the hostile and potentially deadly rhetoric against Iran.


The main obstacle in the path to a potential recovery from years of confrontation with Iran is the Israeli regime and its powerful lobby in Washington. Easing tensions between the United States and the Islamic Republic of Iran could very well lead to a peaceful resolution of most regional tensions in the Middle East, and that includes the Israeli-Palestinian issues. This is something that Israel would like to avoid at all cost.


Sensing that the new attitude in Washington might defuse these tensions, the Israeli regime and its Zionist supporters here are simply not going to sit still and watch as Washington employs Iran's cooperation, long in the offering by Iran, in settling the troubling dilemmas in the region.


Israel will do all it can to prolong the environment of hostility in the Middle East, consequently requiring America's military presence there. In that atmosphere, Israel will be able to count on America's economic, military and diplomatic support that allow it to postpone any resolution of their Palestinian problem indefinitely, while gulping up more Palestinian land and tightening the economic noose in the occupied territories.


It now remains to be seen what strategy the Israeli regime might employ to torpedo any attempt by the United States and Iran to settle their issues of contention. It is still within the realm of possibility that Israel might take some preemptive military action against certain Iranian targets, with the hope of dragging the United States into any ensuing developments.


Hopefully, the new NIE report will make it exceedingly more difficult for the regional mad dog to pursue its selfish interests at the expense of everyone else, particularly its chief benefactor, the United States.

... Payvand News - 12/10/07 ... --

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