Now of course there are some hard core hangers on who are not ever going to believe this, and to them it falls in the same category as the idea that the WMD's that Saddam had were actually clandestinely shipped out to Syria in the middle of the night, where they still are, waiting to be used in the subways of New York and Washington.
There are others who probably feel that this makes it practically impossible for the administration to start a war with Iran.
My, my, my, the people in this camp (the "there is now not going to be a war" camp) underestimate the craftiness and spin capability of the Bush Administration. They also underestimate the idea that the Israeli's are still out there, and they are not going to buy into this report either.
There still is a possibility that the US or the Israeli's (or a combination of both) could hit the civilian nuclear infrastructure. I believe this would quickly cascade into the war that I have been talking about all along on this blog.
I still believe that war with Iran is just as likely as it was the day before the NIE came out. It will be much more difficult for them to convince us that it is a good and prudent thing to be sure, but, if they can't convince us they'll just do it anyway.
I have always felt like the decision to go to war in Iraq was a done deal on 9/12/01. Back in May 2007, I posted this very significant exchange from 2006 on this blog:
"Asked by “Meet the Press” host Tim Russert whether the United States would have gone ahead with the invasion anyway if the CIA had reported that Saddam did not, in fact, have such weapons, Cheney said yes.
“He’d done it before,” Cheney said. “He had produced chemical weapons before and used them. He had produced biological weapons. He had a robust nuclear program in ’91.
”The U.S. invasion “was the right thing to do, and if we had to do it again, we would do exactly the same thing,” he said."
The rhetoric coming from the Administration is eerily familiar. Iran still MIGHT develop a nuclear weapon (or even the CAPABILITY) in the future, because they did it before. So, to counter that, we MIGHT have to take action to keep them from MAYBE getting the CAPABILITY to produce a nuclear weapon. This MIGHT even include military action - we certainly cannot rule that out.
But, I believe the most significant piece of information comes from National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley where he says that "U.S. policy toward Iran has not changed because of the new report."
To me, this is pretty significant. Because, frankly, US policy toward Iran is advocating and agitating toward regime change. That is the ultimate goal. If the "policy" hasn't changed, that means that regime change is still the goal. The concern for the weapons, like concern for weapons in Iraq are just a trigger mechanism.
Do I believe that Iran has clean hands and are innocent as doves? No. Certainly not. But it at least seems that the dynamics have shifted here in a very permanent way.
I believe, as do many others, that it is time to talk to the Iranians. The ironic thing is that we claimed that we NEVER trusted the Soviets. During the cold war we never really stopped talking to them. This was not seen as weakness or unmanliness - it was seen as prudent, to keep horrible misunderstandings between the two nations from starting World War III.
Iran is a regional player like it or not.
I think it is prudent again now to talk to the Iranians. I don't expect this Administration to initiate those talks. My hope is that if we make it through the next year or so without plastering 1500 target points in Iran with cluster bombs that the next administration has the wisdom to at least open the door.
We don't have to give away the farm, but we should at least be willing to talk.