by D. Cupples | This year, the Bush Administration vociferously claimed two rationales for attacking Iran:
1) that Iran had nuclear weapons, which posed an imminent threat;
2) that Iran's government had armed U.S. enemies in Iraq (as opposed to drug lords or other individuals operating in Iran without government approval).
The recent National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) eroded the first claim, stating that Iran had dropped its nuclear-weapons program in 2003. If the other claim is proven true, then the Administration's severely weakened credibility might be revived a bit. Today's Washington Post indicates that Administration officials are refocusing on the arming-our-enemies claim, albeit via vaguely created impressions. For example, David Satterfield (adviser to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice) said:
"Tehran's decision does not necessarily mean the flow of those weapons from Iran has stopped, but the decline in their use and in overall attacks 'has to be attributed to an Iranian policy decision.'"
Satterfield doesn't actually say that weapons flowing from to Iraq came from Iran's government (as opposed to drug lords or other individuals operating in Iran without government approval). Yet, he gives the vague impression that Iran's government was responsible.
Similarly, U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker said:
"that the decision, 'should [Tehran] choose to corroborate it in a direct fashion,' would be 'a good beginning' for a fourth round of talks between Crocker and his Iranian counterpart in Baghdad."
Translation: we'll engage Iranian officials in diplomatic talks if they admit our past allegations that Iran's government (as opposed to drug lords, etc) had armed our enemies.
On Friday, Secretary Rice made this seemingly positive non-statement:
"The United States, she said, remains 'open to better relations' with Iran, adding, 'We don't have permanent enemies.'"
Translation: even if Iran's government (as opposed to drug lords, etc) had sent weapons to Iraq, we'll forgive Iran.
That same day, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said:
"'The jury is out ' on whether Iran is playing a less-destructive role.... There has been a reduction in . . . attacks,' Gates said. But, he said, it is uncertain whether the decrease is a result of U.S. and Iraqi actions "or whether the Iranians have begun to reduce the level of support. . . . We don't have a good feeling or any confidence in terms of how to weigh those different things."
Gates' inherent, though certainly vague, messages are:
1) We still believe Iran armed enemies and caused violence in Iraq
2) But violence in Iraq has declined (i.e., General Petraeus was right);
3) Then again, Iran's government--not the surge--might have caused the decline;
4) Then again, Iran's government might not have caused the decline.
The Bush Administration's crediblity began suffering severe blows after its vague claims about WMDs and Iraq's link to 9/11 were debunked.
Since September 2007, the Administration's credibility faced further blows, as intelligence analysts began questioning the validity of military statistics regarding violence in Iraq. Making matters worse, attacks in Iraq were reported as Administration officials made optimistic yet confusing statements about violence in Iraq.
Just this month, the NIE was released about Iran's having dropped its nuclear-weapons program in 2003 -- causing many Americans to (again) wonder if the Bush Administration had tried to mislead our nation into a war.
Despite their errors about Iran's nuclear program, Administration officials may actually be right about the Iranian government's alleged arming of our enemies.
The problem: the Bush Administration has so often made erroneous statements and given false impressions that we citizens don't know what to believe anymore.
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