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Iran [Dec. 4th, 2007|06:14 am]
There's a headline from yesterday you should be aware of if you care about American foreign policy. The NYT article is here. Their analysis, which I unsurprisingly mostly agree with, is also over there.

First of all, I was overjoyed when I saw the headline, because I've been convinced their nuclear program was peaceful for maybe a year at this point, and it's nice to get confirmation of that. Especially since I'm rather generally disdainful of nuclear war.

But I'm also curious. Why release the report? Especially so publicly? No matter how much spin the National Security Advisor tried to put on it, there's no denying that this is a terrible blow to the administration. First, it directly contradict the rhetoric they've been spewing for the last several years. More importantly, it again calls into question the credibility of the American intelligence machine, either from direct incompetence or political pressure. Frankly, I don't think it's relevant to the issue at hand which it is, but admitting another big mistake just gives their opponents at home and abroad extra ammunition.

Another problem, and also a potential explanation, involves the Republican candidates for president. Many of them have made statements about foreign policy (those you can dig up on your own, though)and this probably compromises the positions they have been developing. Of course, they can't be expected to be in the know about such things, but starting of on a bad premise isn't going to impress the public with their knowledge and leadership ability, especially after the folly of this administration.

I think it's a potential explanation on the "ticking time bomb" theory. Specifically, that this report exists, and the administration chose to release it now because this is the point where it will do the least political damage, especially to those that need to pick up the torch. If they were to wait until primary season--or worse, the conventions--it could be disastrous rather than just harmful.

While I might generally suspect the "ttb" theory given that it's now a pretty slow news cycle, this lame duck administration doesn't have a lot to lose if it gaffs and the information comes out anyway.

Another theory is that this a very public way to try and jumpstart talks with Iran. Frankly, I've read reports from the diplomats in Afghanistan that say the Iranians got the Northern Alliance to sit up and listen when we weren't making diplomatic headway. If that's true, then we could really use their help in the pair (or is that a trio?, counting Pakistan)of powder kegs we are siting on over there. Admitting we fucked up might get them to the table looking to see what they can get from us or the EU. Granted, not what the administration would like, but at this point it needs to take what it can get.

I'm out of time, so I'll leave it there. Erudite commentary is, as always, appreciated.

From: thegelf
2007-12-04 01:30 pm (UTC)
I can't say I read the article/analysis in the NYT, I will after work today, but the Post's article included a quote from the CIA which boiled down to "It's going to leak anyway, lets get the big stuff out there in our own wording."
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From: thegelf
2007-12-04 01:30 pm (UTC)
And they released it now because Congress is about to get the fully classified report, and that's where they think the leak will come from.
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[User Picture]From: abmann
2007-12-04 02:10 pm (UTC)
In the EYE, Bush!

How's that for erudite? :)
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[User Picture]From: runthebear
2007-12-04 07:52 pm (UTC)
IMO they're playing on the already low national and international majority's opinions on the Bush administration. What better scapegoat than an already disgraced lame duck? Granted this puts most right wing conservatives and anyone else seen as being in league with the current administration in trouble and I doubt that part was an accident. It's a power play to influence the upcoming election and maybe start things rolling a year early so by the time the new administration comes in things will have snowballed into an unavoidable international dialog/reassessment of foreign policy Bush/Chaney and all their xenophobic right wing oil tycoon cronies can't quash-- i.e. probably for the better. So yeah. What Will said.
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