Good News on the International Front

Not only did the people of Venezuela thwart the power grab of their socialist leader Hugo Chavez, but now we learn that maybe Iran is not close to having a nuclear bomb after all. Most people, I suspect, greeted that latter revelation from a new intelligence assessment with a sigh of relief. The way it is being spun, though, in the media is that this is a “blow” for the Bush administration! Does anyone think that President Bush relished having to deal with this intractable problem? Oh, yes, I realize some people do. But I would just like to observe that the intelligence finding came from the Bush administration. Perhaps the partisans should be suspicious of this good news, as various foreign policy nightmares are apparently getting resolved.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Joe

    Both are good news but don’t get two carried away with the Iran bit the report also concludes that it appears that their current opporation is for civilian use but that it can easily be transformed into a weapons program any time and with very little effort. They already have the equipment they would need to do it.

  • Joe

    Both are good news but don’t get two carried away with the Iran bit the report also concludes that it appears that their current opporation is for civilian use but that it can easily be transformed into a weapons program any time and with very little effort. They already have the equipment they would need to do it.

  • http://planetaugsburg.wordpress.com Andy Adams

    Hmmm . . . let’s review our intelligence track record: We underestimated Saddam’s WMD program during Gulf War I. We had no idea Pakistan had a nuclear bomb before they tested one. We dismissed North Korea’s nuclear program and even supplied them with the means to establish one. We overestimated (apparently) Iraq’s WMD program before Gulf War II. We found that we had underestimated Libya’s WMD program when they gave it up voluntarily.

    The only thing consistent about our intelligence is that it is consistently wrong. Be afraid, very afraid.

    I suspect the only “proof” our intelligence services will ever have of Iran’s nuclear capacity is a mushroom cloud over a metropolitan city in Israel, Europe, or America. God help us.

  • http://planetaugsburg.wordpress.com Andy Adams

    Hmmm . . . let’s review our intelligence track record: We underestimated Saddam’s WMD program during Gulf War I. We had no idea Pakistan had a nuclear bomb before they tested one. We dismissed North Korea’s nuclear program and even supplied them with the means to establish one. We overestimated (apparently) Iraq’s WMD program before Gulf War II. We found that we had underestimated Libya’s WMD program when they gave it up voluntarily.

    The only thing consistent about our intelligence is that it is consistently wrong. Be afraid, very afraid.

    I suspect the only “proof” our intelligence services will ever have of Iran’s nuclear capacity is a mushroom cloud over a metropolitan city in Israel, Europe, or America. God help us.

  • fwsonnek

    It seems that the possible necessity of yet another preemptive strike lurks in the background of all this intelligence gathering.

    we condemned pearl harbor precisely because it was a preemptive strike. our views of the rule of law have changed over time it appears.

  • fwsonnek

    It seems that the possible necessity of yet another preemptive strike lurks in the background of all this intelligence gathering.

    we condemned pearl harbor precisely because it was a preemptive strike. our views of the rule of law have changed over time it appears.

  • http://www.cockahoop.com/ tODD

    “Does anyone think that President Bush relished having to deal with this intractable problem? Oh, yes, I realize some people do.”

    From what I’ve read, Bush wasn’t the administration member who was pushing the most for this war. And yes, I have no problem believing that Cheney (et al.) “relished” going to war with Iran. It’s no different than noting that the Bush administration obviously wanted to go to war with Iraq. Did they “relish” dealing with the “intractable problem” Iraq has become? Likely not — they apparently didn’t even believe it would be a problem, much less a drawn-out one. But it was a choice they wanted and got their way on. I don’t see how Iran would have been/will be any different.

    “But I would just like to observe that the intelligence finding came from the Bush administration.”

    Mr. Unitary Executive’s thoughts on the matter and Alberto Gonzales’ actions aside, I don’t believe that either the FBI or the CIA (or the other intelligence agencies) form part of the administration, as there are career people in there who work across presidencies. There has always been a give and take between various branches of government, even within the administration — cf. State vs. Defense.

  • http://www.cockahoop.com/ tODD

    “Does anyone think that President Bush relished having to deal with this intractable problem? Oh, yes, I realize some people do.”

    From what I’ve read, Bush wasn’t the administration member who was pushing the most for this war. And yes, I have no problem believing that Cheney (et al.) “relished” going to war with Iran. It’s no different than noting that the Bush administration obviously wanted to go to war with Iraq. Did they “relish” dealing with the “intractable problem” Iraq has become? Likely not — they apparently didn’t even believe it would be a problem, much less a drawn-out one. But it was a choice they wanted and got their way on. I don’t see how Iran would have been/will be any different.

    “But I would just like to observe that the intelligence finding came from the Bush administration.”

    Mr. Unitary Executive’s thoughts on the matter and Alberto Gonzales’ actions aside, I don’t believe that either the FBI or the CIA (or the other intelligence agencies) form part of the administration, as there are career people in there who work across presidencies. There has always been a give and take between various branches of government, even within the administration — cf. State vs. Defense.

  • http://www.cockahoop.com/ tODD

    But I was happy to read about the Chavez vote outcome.

  • http://www.cockahoop.com/ tODD

    But I was happy to read about the Chavez vote outcome.

  • Don S

    I wouldn’t get too excited about the Chavez vote outcome. Yes, I was surprised that he permitted the vote to go against him, unlike Putin, but I suspect it is because he has until 2012 to engineer an outcome more to his liking. His “goodwill” in this election could be a calculated move to push a very gullible liberal media into the tank for him when he holds an election on the same initiative next year, the year after, etc. until he gets what he wants. Anyone think the vote was really 51-49? The polls were nowhere near that close, but such a close result certainly justifies a re-vote next year.

    JMHO

  • Don S

    I wouldn’t get too excited about the Chavez vote outcome. Yes, I was surprised that he permitted the vote to go against him, unlike Putin, but I suspect it is because he has until 2012 to engineer an outcome more to his liking. His “goodwill” in this election could be a calculated move to push a very gullible liberal media into the tank for him when he holds an election on the same initiative next year, the year after, etc. until he gets what he wants. Anyone think the vote was really 51-49? The polls were nowhere near that close, but such a close result certainly justifies a re-vote next year.

    JMHO

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    Count me with those suspicious of the intelligence about Iran. For starters, it has only “moderate” confidence that Iran’s far away from having something; in other words, they don’t have clear evidence, and hence the spectre of “politically motivated intel report” must be considered.

    Would love be a fly on the wall at Mossad HQ & hear what they think they know.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    Count me with those suspicious of the intelligence about Iran. For starters, it has only “moderate” confidence that Iran’s far away from having something; in other words, they don’t have clear evidence, and hence the spectre of “politically motivated intel report” must be considered.

    Would love be a fly on the wall at Mossad HQ & hear what they think they know.

  • Joe

    tODD your comments are pretty bold. I am not sure what you are reading about Cheney’s motives but might I suggest you take a look at the “What does this mean?” section of the 8th commandment. Or even the historical account of Bush’s decision to order the invasion of Iraq.

  • Joe

    tODD your comments are pretty bold. I am not sure what you are reading about Cheney’s motives but might I suggest you take a look at the “What does this mean?” section of the 8th commandment. Or even the historical account of Bush’s decision to order the invasion of Iraq.

  • http://www.cockahoop.com/ tODD

    So Joe (@8), as I understand it, it’s okay to say that Ahmadinejad wants war, but not Cheney? Is that how it works?

    I’ll be the first to admit that I struggle with the 8th commandment (among others), especially with regard to our current leaders.

    But I really don’t understand how to apply it in situations like this. At what point would it have been okay to say Bush wanted to go to war with Iraq? 2000? Late 2001? 2003? Never, the war with Iraq just happened even though nobody wanted it?

    Are we allowed to say that Bill Clinton committed adultery? Is that defamatory? Or is it okay because it’s true? And how do we know it’s true — because we read about it somewhere? But why is it wrong for me to base my opinions on Cheney on what I have read?

    These are phrase semi-rhetorically, but I’d honestly appreciate some answers along these lines.

    That said, I’m not likely to heed the responses of people who think it’s fine to think ill of some people (foreign leaders, the intelligence community, Democrats, whatever), but not others.

  • http://www.cockahoop.com/ tODD

    So Joe (@8), as I understand it, it’s okay to say that Ahmadinejad wants war, but not Cheney? Is that how it works?

    I’ll be the first to admit that I struggle with the 8th commandment (among others), especially with regard to our current leaders.

    But I really don’t understand how to apply it in situations like this. At what point would it have been okay to say Bush wanted to go to war with Iraq? 2000? Late 2001? 2003? Never, the war with Iraq just happened even though nobody wanted it?

    Are we allowed to say that Bill Clinton committed adultery? Is that defamatory? Or is it okay because it’s true? And how do we know it’s true — because we read about it somewhere? But why is it wrong for me to base my opinions on Cheney on what I have read?

    These are phrase semi-rhetorically, but I’d honestly appreciate some answers along these lines.

    That said, I’m not likely to heed the responses of people who think it’s fine to think ill of some people (foreign leaders, the intelligence community, Democrats, whatever), but not others.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    For reference, Israel is pouring on some skepticism about Iran’s failure to make progress towards having nukes. I’m also skeptical that Chavez will abide by the vote here…..would love to be surprised in both cases, of course.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    For reference, Israel is pouring on some skepticism about Iran’s failure to make progress towards having nukes. I’m also skeptical that Chavez will abide by the vote here…..would love to be surprised in both cases, of course.

  • Joe

    The difference is your suggestion that they “relished” the chance to go to war. Want can be read to mean – thought it was necessary or really liked the idea but relished has a very clear meaning. Relished means Cheney et al. took enjoyment and/or pleasure from starting a war with Iraq and that they are just sitting around on pins and needles for the chance to start another war in Iran.

    In suggesting that you are making a decision to imput a particulare motive that you can never determine was true short of a confession. That is where the 8th commandment’s instruction to “put the best construction on everything” becomes paramamount.

    I also think your example, Did Clinton commit adultory is very different? It is factual and can be proven. But I could not say he did it because of X.

    As for Ahmadinejad, he has publicly confessed that he believes it his duty to usher in the chaos that is required before the hidden imam can return. But I don’t know if he relishes the idea that he is supposed to be an agent of chaos. He may hate it but think it is his duty. I don’t know his motive.

  • Joe

    The difference is your suggestion that they “relished” the chance to go to war. Want can be read to mean – thought it was necessary or really liked the idea but relished has a very clear meaning. Relished means Cheney et al. took enjoyment and/or pleasure from starting a war with Iraq and that they are just sitting around on pins and needles for the chance to start another war in Iran.

    In suggesting that you are making a decision to imput a particulare motive that you can never determine was true short of a confession. That is where the 8th commandment’s instruction to “put the best construction on everything” becomes paramamount.

    I also think your example, Did Clinton commit adultory is very different? It is factual and can be proven. But I could not say he did it because of X.

    As for Ahmadinejad, he has publicly confessed that he believes it his duty to usher in the chaos that is required before the hidden imam can return. But I don’t know if he relishes the idea that he is supposed to be an agent of chaos. He may hate it but think it is his duty. I don’t know his motive.

  • http://www.cockahoop.com/ tODD

    Okay then, Joe (@11), I retract my adopting Veith’s word “relish” and instead would like to say that I believe Cheney wanted to go to war with Iran. Is that okay?

    As for Ahmadinejad, my google-fu could not turn up any public statements by him that he believes it’s “his duty to usher in the chaos that is required before the hidden imam can return.” I found public statements by him that he believes in the Mahdi, or “hidden imam”, but nothing about chaos, intentional or no. Can you cite a source?

    Finally, do no one else’s statements here merit the same attention? You seem to voice mistrust of Ahmadinejad’s peaceful intentions (@1), Andy questions the veracity of the NIE and the effectiveness of our intelligence agencies (@2), Don S maligns both Putin and Chavez (@6), and Bike Bubba slanders Chavez (@10). Am I the only one to be made an example of here? Does it have anything to do with my left-leaning opinions?

  • http://www.cockahoop.com/ tODD

    Okay then, Joe (@11), I retract my adopting Veith’s word “relish” and instead would like to say that I believe Cheney wanted to go to war with Iran. Is that okay?

    As for Ahmadinejad, my google-fu could not turn up any public statements by him that he believes it’s “his duty to usher in the chaos that is required before the hidden imam can return.” I found public statements by him that he believes in the Mahdi, or “hidden imam”, but nothing about chaos, intentional or no. Can you cite a source?

    Finally, do no one else’s statements here merit the same attention? You seem to voice mistrust of Ahmadinejad’s peaceful intentions (@1), Andy questions the veracity of the NIE and the effectiveness of our intelligence agencies (@2), Don S maligns both Putin and Chavez (@6), and Bike Bubba slanders Chavez (@10). Am I the only one to be made an example of here? Does it have anything to do with my left-leaning opinions?

  • fwsonnek

    Todd , I dont see you fitting comfortably into any category actually. and you are all right. practicing the 8th commandment is something challenging here on blogs. it sorta takes the fun outta it all. but it is very good to do.

  • fwsonnek

    Todd , I dont see you fitting comfortably into any category actually. and you are all right. practicing the 8th commandment is something challenging here on blogs. it sorta takes the fun outta it all. but it is very good to do.

  • http://www.geneveith.com Veith

    tODD, here is a Reuters article about how bringing chaos on the earth will precede the coming of the Mahdi:

    http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1524384/posts

  • http://www.geneveith.com Veith

    tODD, here is a Reuters article about how bringing chaos on the earth will precede the coming of the Mahdi:

    http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1524384/posts

  • Joe

    “Our revolution’s main mission is to pave the way for the reappearance of the 12th Imam, the Mahdi,” Ahmadinejad said in the speech to Friday Prayers leaders from across the country.”

    “the Hojjatieh Society is governed by the conviction that the 12th Imam’s return will be hastened by the creation of chaos on earth.”

    http://www.iranian.ws/cgi-bin/iran_news/exec/view.cgi/13/10945

    “Okay then, Joe (@11), I retract my adopting Veith’s word “relish” and instead would like to say that I believe Cheney wanted to go to war with Iran. Is that okay?”

    Yes.

    My issue with your statement is not based on your left leaning opinions. Your comment is the only one that I undestood as acribing an evil motive onto someone else. Maybe my right leanings are coloring my reaction but it is certainly not intentional.

    Anyway, tODD I am going to take my own advice and not ascribe any motive onto you and I am going to give some thought as to whether I may have overracted.

    Do we have peace? I hope we do.

  • Joe

    “Our revolution’s main mission is to pave the way for the reappearance of the 12th Imam, the Mahdi,” Ahmadinejad said in the speech to Friday Prayers leaders from across the country.”

    “the Hojjatieh Society is governed by the conviction that the 12th Imam’s return will be hastened by the creation of chaos on earth.”

    http://www.iranian.ws/cgi-bin/iran_news/exec/view.cgi/13/10945

    “Okay then, Joe (@11), I retract my adopting Veith’s word “relish” and instead would like to say that I believe Cheney wanted to go to war with Iran. Is that okay?”

    Yes.

    My issue with your statement is not based on your left leaning opinions. Your comment is the only one that I undestood as acribing an evil motive onto someone else. Maybe my right leanings are coloring my reaction but it is certainly not intentional.

    Anyway, tODD I am going to take my own advice and not ascribe any motive onto you and I am going to give some thought as to whether I may have overracted.

    Do we have peace? I hope we do.

  • http://www.cockahoop.com/ tODD

    Veith (@14), thanks — I see that Joe (@15) also pointed to the same article in a different place.

    However, if that article is our sole source, and we use the rubric laid out here, then it would be incorrect (and unloving) to say (as @11) that “Ahmadinejad … has publicly confessed that he believes it his duty to usher in the chaos that is required before the hidden imam can return.”

    After all, here is what the article itself says (emphasis mine):

    But what really has tongues wagging is the possibility that Ahmadinejad’s belief in the 12th Imam’s return may be linked to the supposed growing influence of a secretive society devoted to the Mahdi which was banned in the early 1980s. Founded in 1953 and used by the Shah of Iran to try to eradicate followers of the Bahai faith, the Hojjatieh Society is governed by the conviction that the 12th Imam’s return will be hastened by the creation of chaos on earth.

    In short, the article goes out of its way to point out what complete hearsay Ahmadinejad’s desire for “chaos” is, using all those wonderful journalistic wiggle words. Ahmadinejad has claimed nothing about it in the article, but is merely very tenuously tied to an organization that has said something.

    And Joe (@15), as to “peace”, I’m not upset with you — if I sound defensive, it’s, well, because I do get defensive, but I was trying to hide that and ask honest questions. I still don’t see how you could think I was the only one slandering public figures here — were Putin and Chavez not also ascribed evil motives? I don’t mind being made an example of if it’s fairly applied, but I don’t feel it has been.

  • http://www.cockahoop.com/ tODD

    Veith (@14), thanks — I see that Joe (@15) also pointed to the same article in a different place.

    However, if that article is our sole source, and we use the rubric laid out here, then it would be incorrect (and unloving) to say (as @11) that “Ahmadinejad … has publicly confessed that he believes it his duty to usher in the chaos that is required before the hidden imam can return.”

    After all, here is what the article itself says (emphasis mine):

    But what really has tongues wagging is the possibility that Ahmadinejad’s belief in the 12th Imam’s return may be linked to the supposed growing influence of a secretive society devoted to the Mahdi which was banned in the early 1980s. Founded in 1953 and used by the Shah of Iran to try to eradicate followers of the Bahai faith, the Hojjatieh Society is governed by the conviction that the 12th Imam’s return will be hastened by the creation of chaos on earth.

    In short, the article goes out of its way to point out what complete hearsay Ahmadinejad’s desire for “chaos” is, using all those wonderful journalistic wiggle words. Ahmadinejad has claimed nothing about it in the article, but is merely very tenuously tied to an organization that has said something.

    And Joe (@15), as to “peace”, I’m not upset with you — if I sound defensive, it’s, well, because I do get defensive, but I was trying to hide that and ask honest questions. I still don’t see how you could think I was the only one slandering public figures here — were Putin and Chavez not also ascribed evil motives? I don’t mind being made an example of if it’s fairly applied, but I don’t feel it has been.

  • Joe

    tODD the end of my post was my attempt to state that I may not have applied the principles fairly to all those who posted. It was also a recognition that I may have let my predispositions (not yours) affect my judgment. I jumped quickly and dug in. I apologize.

  • Joe

    tODD the end of my post was my attempt to state that I may not have applied the principles fairly to all those who posted. It was also a recognition that I may have let my predispositions (not yours) affect my judgment. I jumped quickly and dug in. I apologize.

  • http://www.pagantolutheran.blogspot.com Bruce

    Andy Adams, #2: “The only thing consistent about our intelligence is that it is consistently wrong. Be afraid, very afraid.”

    Well, yeah, I’m concerned. But the history of the last twenty years or more of our intelligence services–which by the way are always going to be problematic at best–is a series of mole spies (80′s to early 90′s)followed by an overreaction to using humint sources, with a “wall of separation” created between the two main intelligence services–FBI & CIA. So for several years intelligence wasn’t shared, and we weren’t allowed to talk to “unsavories”, for fear they were TOO unsavory. And we ended up with an overdependence upon electronic intelligence with a dearth of humint, which is fighting with one arm tied behind one’s back.
    A mole like Robert Hansson (a next-door neighbor of my sister in Vienna, Va at the time of his arrest, BTW) just sends total shudders through a service, and creates distrust with other services that might be cooperating.

    Sometimes I think Harry Truman did it right: disassemble the previous intelligence service and create anew. Obviously, that would create a huge intelligence vacuum and so isn’t practical. But intelligence services are like my hard drive: they become fragmented and corrupt, and sometimes a complete reinstall is necessary.

  • http://www.pagantolutheran.blogspot.com Bruce

    Andy Adams, #2: “The only thing consistent about our intelligence is that it is consistently wrong. Be afraid, very afraid.”

    Well, yeah, I’m concerned. But the history of the last twenty years or more of our intelligence services–which by the way are always going to be problematic at best–is a series of mole spies (80′s to early 90′s)followed by an overreaction to using humint sources, with a “wall of separation” created between the two main intelligence services–FBI & CIA. So for several years intelligence wasn’t shared, and we weren’t allowed to talk to “unsavories”, for fear they were TOO unsavory. And we ended up with an overdependence upon electronic intelligence with a dearth of humint, which is fighting with one arm tied behind one’s back.
    A mole like Robert Hansson (a next-door neighbor of my sister in Vienna, Va at the time of his arrest, BTW) just sends total shudders through a service, and creates distrust with other services that might be cooperating.

    Sometimes I think Harry Truman did it right: disassemble the previous intelligence service and create anew. Obviously, that would create a huge intelligence vacuum and so isn’t practical. But intelligence services are like my hard drive: they become fragmented and corrupt, and sometimes a complete reinstall is necessary.


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