Monday, July 12, 2004

The Country That Cried Wolf

An article in today's New York Times highlights some of the ramifications of the irresponsible nature in which the Bush administration manipulated intelligence in the run-up to the Iraq invasion. Whether it was the pressure put on the CIA to corroborate pre-existing administration claims about Saddam's WMDs and connections to al-Qaeda, the reliance on duplicitous defectors provided by Ahmad Chalabi's dubious organization the Iraqi National Congress, the creation of the Office of Special Plans in the Pentagon with the purpose of taking raw unvetted intelligence from CIA sources and "stovepiping" it up to administration officials (thus circumventing CIA), or the numerous misleading statements made by high ranking administration officials (as I laid out in an earlier post), the Bush administration has severely undermined the credibility of the United States and our intelligence apparatuses at a most crucial period in history.

We rely, more than ever, on the cooperation of allies and other nations in our efforts to successfully police radical Islamist terrorists and to help the cause of nuclear non-proliferation, yet our judgment and assessments of these threats have been increasingly called into question. This loss of credibility greatly hinders our ability to enlist the help of other nations in these areas, yet without international cooperation, our goals are almost unachievable. Unilateral action is simply not a realistic option, as our recent experience in Iraq exemplifies.

The most recent example of how our efforts have been undermined comes in the arena of nuclear non-proliferation, in specific our intelligence regarding North Korea and Iran and their respective nuclear weapons programs. Apparently, some nations are pointing to the lack of veracity regarding our claims on Iraq's WMDs in order to cast doubt on our intelligence reports in relation to North Korea and Iran, intelligence reports that are of a much stronger nature.

"Mr. Bush's aides say other countries are citing Iraq to make the argument that America can never again be sure it is getting it right and thus must back away from the pre-emption doctrine enshrined in Mr. Bush's 2002 'National Security Strategy of the United States.'

China has been the most outspoken proponent of this view, suggesting publicly that the administration cannot be trusted when it asserts that North Korea has secretly started up a second nuclear weapons program - one based on enriching uranium. Administration officials say the Chinese are exploiting the Iraq findings for political convenience, because finding a solution to the North Korean problem will be far simpler if the evidence of a uranium program can be ignored.

'It hurts us, there is no question,' a senior aide to Mr. Bush conceded on Friday, as the Senate report was published. 'We already have the Chinese saying to us, `If you missed this much in Iraq, how are we supposed to believe that the North Koreans are producing nuclear weapons?' It just increases the pressure on us to prove that we are right.'

Iran is making a parallel argument. It admits - even boasts about - its efforts to enrich uranium, which it hid for 17 years from international inspectors until the evidence became overwhelming last year, forcing the country into a reluctant confession. Now the Iranians argue that the United States is riding another "assumption train," this time racing to the conclusion Iran's real goal is making a weapon, rather than seeking an alternative way to produce electricity."

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?