Friday, December 21, 2007

Friday Morning Compilation or Food for Thought

How Do Nations Die? (CM)
Mark Steyn writes:

Not by war or conquest, but by a thousand trivial concessions, until one day you wake up and you don't need to sign a formal instrument of surrender because you did it piecemeal.

More here.

NIE Fallout (CM)
Rafael L. Bardaji, who directs one of the best think tanks in Europe, writes:

By considering Iran’s nuclear programme to have been halted, the NIE has called an end to a great number of things. First and foremost is George W. Bush’s policy of suffocating the Teheran regime by exercising greater political pressure and imposing stricter sanctions. ….

Second, the NIE has stripped the White House of its main reason for pushing for further sanctions on the UN Security Council. If securing these sanctions was always going to be a tricky matter, now the balance has clearly swung in favour of those who advocate a more conciliatory approach to Teheran. Very soon the Russians will authorise the delivery of fissionable material for the Busher reactor and nobody will be able to firmly oppose them.

Third, the NIE has blown away the incipient intra-European consensus regarding policy towards Iran. Whilst London and Paris had remained united in their belief that it was necessary to continue punishing the Ayatollah regime in economic, financial and technological terms, Germany, the European country that has the strongest trade links with the Islamic Republic, has never been that enthusiastic about imposing further sanctions.

More here.

Can We Rely on the NIE? (CM)
Former French intelligence operative Claude Moniquet makes these points:

· U.S. intelligence services have so far failed to predict the nuclearization of a single foreign nation.

· They foresaw neither the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 nor the collapse of the Soviet Union two years later.

· In Afghanistan, during the 1980s, while other friendly services, among them the French, urged the CIA to support more "moderate" tribal chiefs in the fight against the Red Army, the agency relied on the enlightened advice of its Saudi friends and supported the most extreme Islamists. U.S. troops are fighting and dying today for that blunder.

· The report's most controversial conclusion -- that Iran ceased its covert nuclear program -- is based on the absurd distinction between military and civilian. Iran itself admits -- no, boasts -- that it continues enriching uranium as part of its "civilian" program. But such enrichment can have only a military purpose.

· With this sleight of hand, though, the intelligence services effectively sabotaged the Bush administration's efforts to steer its allies toward a tougher position on Iran. · Paris in particular won't be amused about what appears almost like a betrayal. President Nicolas Sarkozy took a great political risk when he turned around French foreign policy and became Europe's leading opponent of a nuclear Iran. He even warned of a possible armed conflict with Iran -- not the most popular thing to do in France.

· The agencies say in the report that they don't "know" whether Tehran is considering equipping itself with nuclear arms. …With their multibillion-dollar budget, one might certainly expect the agencies to "know" these sorts of things.

· What everybody "knows" -- and not only those in the intelligence community -- is that Tehran has made it pretty clear that it wants nuclear arms and that it has very concrete plans for their deployment: to erase Israel from the map. Everybody also "knows" that nuclear arms would make the Islamic Republic almost untouchable, turning it into a regional superpower that could dictate its will on the Gulf states -- the world's suppliers of oil and gas. And everybody "knows" that this is an unacceptable prospect for the Gulf countries, practically forcing them to get the bomb as well. Over time the Middle East, not a very stable region, would become completely nuclearized.

More in this Wall Street Journal op-ed.

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