Monday, December 03, 2007

Bad News for Warmongers: Iran Has Not Had A Nuclear Weapons Program Since 2003

Right-wingers who believe that "the surge" has been successful have this meme about liberals and Democrats in Congress not wanting to admit that the surge has been successful because then they can't hate Bush anymore. Well, I think I've discovered the flip side of that meme that attaches to Republicans and cheerleaders for war on the right. They are actually disappointed that Iran hasn't had an active nuclear weapons program since 2003 -- because they were so looking forward to opening up a third front in the war on terror, and now they won't be able to watch the bombs bursting in air over Tehran.

Victor Davis Hanson expresses this pathology perfectly in his commentary on that new National Intelligence Assessment in which the U.S. intelligence community concludes that Iran froze its nuclear weapons development program in 2003:

The latest news from Iran about the supposed abandonment in 2003 of the effort to produce a Bomb — if even remotely accurate — presents somewhat of a dilemma for liberal Democrats.

Are they now to suggest that Republicans have been warmongering over a nonexistent threat for partisan purposes? But to advance that belief is also to concede that, Iran, like Libya, likely came to a conjecture around (say early spring 2003?) that it was not wise for regimes to conceal WMD programs, given the unpredictable, but lethal American military reaction.

After all, what critic would wish now to grant that one result of the 2003 war-aside from the real chance that Iraq can stabilize and function under the only consensual government in the region-might have been the elimination for some time of two growing and potentially nuclear threats to American security, quite apart from Saddam Hussein?

The problem with this is that, for it to be true, time would have to be going backward:
Hanson is bright enough to know he's bullsh*tting. At the time when the NIE released today says Iran halted its weapons program, there were no nuclear-related sanctions in place, American firms (including Halliburton) were blithely bypassing sanctions from way before the news of Iran's nuclear endevours broke and the White house were making nice with iran over Iraq.

Are we to imagine that Cheney got in his Tardis and reversed time's flow so that later sanctions and threats would influence Iran's decision before the fact? Ridiculous. That would really be historical revisionism!

No, the most likely explanation is that IAEA inspections scheduled as soon as Iran's nuclear program was revealed - to say nothing of the snap inspections Iran's signing of an additional protocol would mandate - were going to find any current weapons efforts (which in any case could not have been at all advanced), so they were quietly dropped and hidden under a bureaucratic stone. Score another for the UN's nuke watchdogs, who were right about Iraq too. In fact, the only nations to successfully manage the proliferation path to nuclear weapons are those who have done so outside of the much-maligned NPT - Israel, Pakistan, India and North Korea. That seems to me to make a very strong case for insisting those recalcitrant nations fully sign up to the NPT, additional protocols and snap inspections and all, or face UNSC sanctions.

The New Republic's Isaac Chotiner declares that Hanson and his colleagues at the National Review are in love with war -- and commas:

The recent news about Iran's nuclear program has elicited amusing responses from our friends over at The Corner. Cliff May predictably smashes the NIE for being politically slanted against Bush. Even better, Victor Davis Hanson says that the disclosures present political trouble for liberal Democrats!

Are they now to suggest that Republicans have been warmongering over a nonexistent threat for partisan purposes? But to advance that belief is also to concede that, Iran, like Libya, likely came to a conjecture around (say early spring 2003?) that it was not wise for regimes to conceal WMD programs, given the unpredictable, but lethal American military reaction.

No, I didn't mistype that and insert extra commas--it's verbatim. As for the question he asks in the first sentence, well, the answer is yes!

For a truly lyrical paean to war in general, and crediting the Iraq war for every international development that is or seems positive, or that can be manipulated into appearing positive, see Neptunus Lex's ode, here:

A new National Intelligence Estimate says that Iran ceased active efforts to acquire nuclear weapons technology in 2003 - damned odd timing, that - while retaining a capability to get back in the game again at some point in the future.

The future is always theoretical. You look at where you’ve come from, take stock of where you’re at. Try to connect those dots to project forward into the future.

Ecce: A brief recap of the past and present:

  • Iraq - the heart of the Arab world - liberated from a brutal and fascist tyranny. The democratic election of a broadly representative government there. The forces of terrorist reaction forcefully suppressed.
  • Lebanon freed from Syrian military occupation.
  • Libya abandoned a long-term WMD program and is coming in from the international cold.
  • The governments of Saudi Arabia and Pakistan are allies in the fight against terror.
  • North Korea has agreed to disable its nuclear weapons processing plant.
  • Pro-US governments elected in Germany and France.

Gains in the international sphere are notoriously difficult to consolidate, even when progress is undeniable. Even when progress is undeniable on stubborn problems that had previously seemed intractable. Nations continuously tack to the breezes of their own interest through the use of balancing strategies, among others.

I don't think I have ever seen Lex quite so ... blissed out at the Garden of Eden the United States has created in Iraq, and spreading out all over the globe. If only we could bottle that divine sense of well-being and send a case to the 800,000 Iraqi refugees Jordan has taken in (the equivalent of 40 million in the United States); or the 1.2 million accepted by Syria, which has a population of only 18 million. Fortunately, we won't have to send too many bottles to the United States, or to Britain, or to Canada, or to our two "allies in the fight against terror," Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, because only a handful of refugees have been allowed in to those countries.

If nothing else, bottling the bliss in millions of bottles and packing them into thousands of boxes and sending the boxes to the Iraqis who have fled the death squads and the militias and the suicide bombings and the erstwhile terrorists and insurgents who are now (and for now, at least) helping the Americans clean out Al Qaeda by doing a little ethnic cleansing of their own, will at least reassure the 4.2 million Iraqis who are homeless and destitute that the sound of crickets chirping does not mean the world has completely forgotten them.


Lex said...

I'm actually quite excited that the Iranians have sidelined their nuclear program - that means that we won't have to worry about whether to strike their facilities, thereby unifying a growing disaffected population behind the mullahs, or suffer the existence of nuclear weapons in the hands of some rather unstable people.

And while you're painting paeans to war, don't forget American independence, the freeing of the slaves and the liberation of Europe from fascism while you're at it, Kathy. All those came with unfortunate consequences that were nevertheless objectively preferable to the status quo ante.


Kathy said...


American independence was gained through a war that involved only the people who wanted independence and the people who wanted to keep them from getting independence. It was a revolution, not an invasion. The colonists *chose* to fight Britain. They didn't invade another country and occupy it in the guise of "liberating" people who didn't ask to be "liberated."

Re your other two examples: The Civil War was not fought to free the slaves, and other than the brief Reconstruction period, the "freedom" enjoyed by former slaves and their descendants was pretty hollow. Black Americans were not legally property after the Civil War, but in the century that followed, they were not free in any meaningful sense of that word. In fact, they lived under a regime just as fascist as Nazi Germany. The details were different, but it was a 100-year reign of terror.

And that liberation of Europe -- a good thing, obviously, but it came at the cost of six million murdered Jews. The liberation of Europe from fascism came too late to prevent Hitler from realizing his dream of exterminating European Jewry. The Western Allies could have saved tens of thousands, and maybe hundreds of thousands, but refused to do so, long after they knew *exactly* what Hitler was doing to those Jews. The Jews were completely abandoned; they were almost completely wiped out; and *nobody cared.*

I would say that the U.S. and the Western world in general has a lot less to brag about in regard to WWII than it thinks it does.

I guess the near-extinction of an entire people, and the elimination of that people from an entire continent because the U.S. and Britain and others were, in their heart of hearts, grateful to Hitler for doing the dirty job of getting rid of the Jews, is one of those "unfortunate consequences" to which you refer.

Don't even think about denying that the Allies deliberately abandoned the Jews to their fate, Lex. You don't want to tangle with me on this one.