WSJ on fallout from the NIE whitewash, and posthumous victory for George Marshall arabists
America and Israel aren't the only ones worried about the mullahs getting a nuclear bomb.
BY MAX BOOT
Sunday, December 9, 2007 12:01 a.m. EST
Sultan Qaboos of Oman, King Abdullah of KSA, and Mr. World without Zionism
on the day the NIE was released. Gravitation to the STRONG HORSE
The release of the new National Intelligence Estimate will provide more fodder for those who claim that "neoconservative ideologues" and the "Israel lobby" are overly alarmed about the rise of Iran. In reality, some of those most worried about the mullahs wear flowing headdresses, not yarmulkes, and they have good cause for concern, notwithstanding the sanguine tilt many news accounts put on the NIE.
I recently visited the Persian Gulf region as part of a delegation of American policy wonks organized by the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Throughout our meetings in the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, the top issue was Iran's ambitions to dominate the region.
Evidence of those imperial designs is not hard to find. The Iranians are aiding extremists who are undermining nascent democracies in Afghanistan, Iraq and Lebanon. The beneficiaries of Tehran's largess include Hamas, Hezbollah and even, the evidence indicates, al Qaeda. (Saudi officials are quietly furious that Tehran has given refuge to some suspects in the 2003 Riyadh attacks.) Iran is building up its military arsenal, and has threatened to shut down the Persian Gulf (or, as Arabs call it, the Arabian Gulf).
What particularly concerns Gulf Arabs is the possibility that Iran could go nuclear--a concern unlikely to be erased by the ambiguous findings of the new NIE. While this NIE claims that Iran stopped its nuclear-weapons program in 2003 (in direct contradiction to an NIE finding issued just two years ago that "Iran currently is determined to develop nuclear weapons"), it concedes that "Iran's civilian uranium enrichment program is continuing." Such a "civilian" program could be converted speedily and stealthily to military use. As the new NIE notes, "Iran has the scientific, technical, and industrial capacity to produce nuclear weapons if it decides to do so."
That thought fills Sunni Arabs with dread. "If we accept Iran as a nuclear power that is like accepting Hitler in 1933-34," warned one senior Arab official, using the kind of analogy that back in Washington would get him dismissed as a neocon warmonger.
It should be obvious to all that the result
of the NIE is that neither
Israel NOR the Arabs
see the USA as reliable