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Jim Lobe on Iran NIE

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Read Jim Lobe’s excellent account of the Iran intel—excerpt below:

What I think is particularly remarkable about the NIE — aside from its conclusions and willingness to virtually repudiate the main conclusions of the 2005 NIE (a reflection no doubt — in addition to new intelligence and analysis — of the political space created by the hawks’ decline and the realist rise in the intervening period) is its implicit policy recommendations which (surprise, surprise) echo that the realists (particularly SecDef Gates and Zbigniew Brzezinski who co-chaired the Council on Foreign Relations task force on Iran in July 2004 — less than a year after Iran’s decision to suspend its apparently secret military nuclear program) have long argued:

“Our assessment that Iran halted the program in 2003 primarily in response to international pressure indicates Tehran’s decisions are guided by a cost-benefit approach rather than a rush to a weapon irrespective of the political, economic, and military costs. This, in turn, suggests that some international scrutiny and pressures, along with opportunities for Iran to achiedve its security, prestige, and goals for regional influence in other ways, might — if perceived by Iran’s leaders as credible — prompt Tehran to extend the current halt to its nuclear weapons program.”

Aside from the factual findings of the NIE, this is by far the most important passage in the NIE, because it asserts that the Iranian leadership is a fundamentally rational actor — a traditional nation-state, if you will — that calculates what it does in recognizable terms and that, in any event, is not a an ideologically-crazed, fanatical regime of the kind that neo-conservatives and their aggressive nationalist allies have tried so hard to depict. This depiction, if accepted by the mainstream media, completely undermines the hawks’ efforts to compare the Islamic Republic with the Nazis. (For the latest example of this comparison — and a particularly strained one, at that — see Max Boot’s piece today’s Wall Street Journal in which, reacting to the NIE, he quotes “one senior Arab official” as saying, “If we accept Iran as a nuclear power that is like accepting Hitler in 1933-34.”)

Irancove @ December 6, 2007

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