After the 9/11 attacks, the American and British intelligence services have reached the most unprecedented level of their failures. Almost all of what the U.S. had asserted to strike Iraq came out faulty. Apart from the prediction failures and wrong assessments, the Anglo-American intelligence world even experienced plagiarism. The US (and UK in some degree) has made anything possible to legitimate the military attack against Iraq and its ‘war’ against the ‘global terror’. However most of the reports prepared by the American and British intelligence bodies since 9/11 have undermined the public trust towards the US and the UK. And now we face another report, but this time it is different. While the Bush Government tries to persuade the entire World to impose more economic and political sanctions (even military measures) on Iran was hit by its own institutions. According to 16 agency National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) report Iran halted its nuclear weapon program in 2003. Moreover, according to latest findings even if Iran wants to develop nuclear weapons it must wait at least for more than 10 years to reach its aim. Previously the predictions were for 5 years. Israel was even asserting that Iran would have nuclear weapons in one or two years.
According to most of the experts it is very difficult to find any other document more harmful for a country’s foreign policy. Almost all the media network believe in that after this surprise report hereafter it is very difficult to declare war against Iran. Although President Bush still insists by saying “all the options against Iran are on the table”, after this report, even his own advisers accept that it will not be so easy to persuade US allies about the Iran issue. The new NIE estimate could decelerate already-sluggish diplomatic efforts to suspend Iran’s uranium-enrichment program, and calls into question the US’ increasingly hawkish rhetoric toward Iran.
By seeing this report as a conscious preference of US administration, some of our conspiracy lovers in Turkey even may say that “hereafter the alliance of Iran-the U.S. is in a very close future”. It is really hard to understand such a reversal intelligence report undermining the Government policies for the Middle East people. Many do not believe that the report is a result of American state pluralism. But the reality is actually different… The US makes big faults but it is exonerated by its own institutions. In fact the last NIE report also indicates the rivalry and pluralism inside the US. The recent assessment first could be considered a great contribution to the Democrats before the 2008 presidential elections. The second important point is that the NIE report was confirmed by 16 most important US intelligence agencies. The most significant one in these agencies is the Defense Intelligence Agency, a Pentagon unit. At the bottom of this report we see the signs of the Air Force Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance Agency (AF ISR), the Marine Corps Intelligence Activity (MCI), the Army Intelligence (AI), the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) and the Office of Naval Intelligence. At this point it may be said that the military found a good public way to say ‘stop’ to President Bush and Vice President Cheney loving adventure in the Middle East. Many people perceive this report as a message of security powers which is proving they do not want a war. Some of the names such as Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Admiral Michael Mullen had already not been supporting the idea of military intervention. Any official statement has not been made yet by Pentagon but according to leaking information, ministry officers are pleased with the non-ideological and realistic reports issued by intelligent services. Compared with Bush’s post 9/11 ideological (if not religionist) speeches, some Americans are also happy due to the existence of still working realist and pragmatic channels. The NIE vividly proves the Pentagon resistance against any military adventure following the Afghanistan and Iraq experiments, and clearly declares that an unprepared “military expedition” could be very harmful for the security of the US.
If we look at the post- report American policy, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates reminds that although the report is saying Iran has the capability to develop nuclear weapons, the best way of curbing Iran’s nuclear program is not to take military measures but to impose economic and political measures instead. Nonetheless Mr. Bush is still talking about taking of all the kind of measures including the war alternative. The difference of opinion in US Administration is very clear. But to conflict with its own intelligence units is staggering for an administration and this is a matter of concern for Washington. Some may claim that there was already this kind of discrepancies in the administration before the 2008 Iran NIE. As a matter of fact that President Bush used only some of the security reports which were serving to his aims and he simply ignored the remained reports. With this ideological approach he led the intelligence services to become absurd and controversial in many issues.
At the most the NIE report pleased the countries of Iran, Russia and China. Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was so to say the happiest person and called the report as “the announcement of the Iranian people’s victory”. Russia and China are also happy with the deterioration of the US image in the Middle East region. From the beginning these two countries have always been against any possible military intervention against Iran and with the report they specify that the NIE undercuts basis for US Iranian policy.
To sum up, the last NIE report deeply appalled the domestic and foreign policies of the US. US foreign policy and domestic balance of power in security issues were upended by the report. An attack on Iran in near future is not seen possible hereafter through relying on the nuclear power assertions. The US will have more difficulties even in the putting of economic and political pressure on Iran and it will certainly weaken international support for tougher sanctions.
9 December 2007
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Translated by Serpil ACIKALIN and Hande TOPCU