Hobgoblin of Small Minds

Golly, Lunghu is confused: what happened to that jingoistic Associated Press to which he’s become accustomed?  Just last month the AP was acting like a wholly-owned subsidiary of AIPAC, churning out a gushing stream of articles warning of Iran’s nuclear ambitions and playing up Iranian connections to bomb attacks in Georgia, India and Thailand.  Never mind that security specialists in Asia began to suggest that the bombers’ M.O. seemed to have the hallmarks of Israel’s own proxy terror group, the Iranian Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK).   You never heard anything about that from AP.

But suddenly, the AP is giving prominent place to articles like this:

Iran’s UN Fact Sheet: Weapons Track Not Confirmed
Iran has the equipment and raw materials to produce the fissile core of a nuclear weapon, as does any country that can produce its own reactor fuel.  But there is no evidence that the Islamic Republic has taken steps in that direction. … U.S. intelligence officials say they generally stand by a 2007 intelligence assessment that asserts Iran stopped comprehensive secret work on developing nuclear arms in 2003.

It’s almost as though somebody issued a whole new set of marching orders to the AP editorial staff.   Was all the prior hype just meant to pave the way for Netanyahu’s visit to Washington last month?  Did Obama’s obsequious speech to AIPAC sufficiently soothe the savage beast?  Difficult to say.

Still, AP’s old habits die hard.  The most expensive intell agencies in the world (ours) don’t think Iran is working on an atomic bomb, but …

Britain, France, Germany, Israel and other allies think such activities have continued past [2003], a view shared by the IAEA, which says some isolated and sporadic activities may be ongoing.  In its November 2011 report, the IAEA published a 13-page list of suspected experiments it says “indicates that Iran has carried out activities relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device.”  It underlined that it found the information “to be, overall, credible,” describing it as coming from “a wide variety of sources.”
“It is overall consistent in terms of technical contents, individuals and organizations involved and time frames,” the report says.

Now, let’s all remember that intell “consistency” can be easily orchestrated and stage-managed when the “various” sources involved are routinely sharing information and coordinating their activities as part of S.O.P.   In the post-9/11 world, that’s certainly what they’ve all been telling us they do.  Therefore, we can’t plausibly pretend that assessments coming out of Britain, France and Germany (or Israel, for that matter) will in every case have been independently crafted in utter ignorance of what their NATO peers have in the works.

In any event, consistency should never be the sole –or even the primary– determinant of information credibility.  Factors such as objectivity, precision, completeness and coherence also contribute to judgements of information quality.  Lunghu’s gonna guess that much of the IAEA’s information falls a little bit short on the objectivity, precision (suspected experiments?”) and completeness metrics of information quality.  Precision and completeness are usually too-good-to-be-true in the intell business, so it’s not entirely fair to critique the IAEA for making do with partial, fuzzy information:  it’s part of the generic intell landscape.  But when you begin to look at likely objectivity (or lack thereof) of the information sources, it’s a different matter altogether.

Who are those sources?  Well, in addition to the ones identified by name –Britain, France, Germany, Israel–  we have “other U.S. allies” who contributed to the IAEA’s report.  AP doesn’t name them, but the most likely candidates are the Arab states of the Gulf region:  Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, etc.  All of these Sunni kingdoms and sheikdoms fear Shiite Persian power –in large part because it threatens the internal stability of their own precarious regimes.  Not exactly what you’d call objective, disinterested observers.  And while they don’t have militaries large enough to challenge Iran, the Gulf states definitely have the money needed to rent the favor of nations that do.  In 2012, in the midst of a simmering Eurozone debt crisis meltdown, money is a weapons system that can easily conquer Europe … as the Chinese, Indians, Russians and Gulf Arabs are reaffirming every day.

In other words, for those of you who haven’t yet connected the dots, the push for harsher sanctions and military action against Iran has been fueled by an unholy ecumenical alliance between Israel and Sunni Arabs.  Britain, France and Germany are in the game in exchange for Gulf oil and petrodollar bond investments … while dreaming of another Libya.

Obama isn’t quite so eager to set the world on fire in an election year.  First, he’d be blamed by the entire world for any attack on Iran whether or not the United States was involved.  Then, he’d be blamed by Gingrich, Santorum, Romney et al. for not attacking sooner, or with nuclear weapons, or for not invoking a Christian God as he did so, etc.  And AIPAC would still want him to release Jonathan Pollard from federal prison.  Who needs that headache?

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