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Undermined on Iran?

Justin Webb | 04:06 UK time, Tuesday, 4 December 2007

John Bolton - the former US ambassador to the UN - told me over the weekend that an attack on Iran would be justified under international law because it would be an act of self-defence. That is the case that appears to be damaged by the latest National Intelligence Estimate, with its suggestion that so far there is no bomb to be concerned about and no evidence of an existing effort to make one.

Anti-American mural on the side of a building in Tehran, IranCan you legitimately defend yourself against something that does not exist and might never exist? But at the same time, if anyone doubted Iran's potential to be a threat - well, the intelligence agencies seem almost certain that there was a nuclear weapons programme in Iran until 2003. The document also makes plain that although that weapons effort has probably not been restarted, it could be one day. The option, according to the report, is being kept open.

Still, the problem for the Bush administration is that this is not the headline. The headline is that the spies are holding up their hands and saying they want to change their story - as they put it in this document: "Tehran's decision to halt its nuclear weapons program suggests it is less determined to develop nuclear weapons than we have been judging since 2005." As the Huffington Post put it, rather cutely I thought: "Plans for World War Three have been stymied."

And that is not just the view of the left here: I talked to a former senior advisor to the White House who feels sick at the way in which all of this stuff has to be discussed openly, and fears that the Bush team has been fatally undermined on Iran by its own intelligence agencies. Revenge, perhaps, for the flak they took over Iraq?

Comments   Post your comment

  • 1.
  • At 05:22 AM on 04 Dec 2007,
  • nonoy Ramos wrote:

I dont believe in the news. Something went fishy backstage. What was really the agreement made between Iran & USA? Perhaps US economy cannot anymore withstand the gas price increase and the falling dollar. Perhaps USA was threaten that if they pursue hitting on Iran the oil trading will shift to Euro. The US dollar will further erode. Come on fellows, with their rhetoric, both economy suffers. Iran & US currency both fall making Euro & Canadian money appreiciate. US cannot withstand anymore with its economy getting hit by the sub prime mess. If US want to plan for a war, got to hit it right away. Prolonging the iran-usa standoff was a waste of time & tax dollar money. Imagine the full US military armada roaming the persian gulf, that's a lot of tax money wasted.

  • 2.
  • At 05:50 AM on 04 Dec 2007,
  • Robert Turner wrote:

What country will be the next target for these crazy neocons? They should know that the world is sick of war and their maneuvering of the media before they send the troops to "liberate" a certain country. I feel sorry for the US troops in Iraq, especially the deceased and their families. Once in a while, I heard they say "support our troops" for their sacrifice in defending our freedom.I have and will always support the military but I don't feel they should be in Iraq to protect our freedom; because I never feel the US or the world's freedom is threatened by Iraq or by Iran. What a bad joke! Let's not forget about the Vietnam War: 58,000 US dead and now the US is the #1 business partner with the Communist China and Vietnam! We know that the weapons of mass destruction in Iraq was a farce. We also know that Iran's nuclear ambition is the neocons fabrication. Let's us keep an eye on these neocons and their terrible war plan, I wonder what country's interest do they serve? Certainly not the US and its people. They make this country looks so bad in the eye of world. Peace, no War!

I think publishing this report, although a slight embarassment to the Bush administration, is more about giving the Republicans a chance to run for the White House as "peace loving defenders of democracy." This report allows them to stop screaming for Iranian blood, at least until after the election.
All the blather about "this report means our diplomacy has been working" from the White House just illustrates how deceitful that bunch is. I'm sure any diplomacy targeting a threat that doesn't exist will be effective to some degree.

  • 4.
  • At 12:30 PM on 04 Dec 2007,
  • Mark wrote:

US intelligence has a very bad track record for assessing nuclear weapons programs of foreign countries. We should ignore this report and take it as one more likely badly flawed set of inaccurate and inadequate observations, incorrect assumptions, and wrong conclusions. The report is inconsistent with other facts and the behavior of Iran. The US should continue to apply maximum pressure through sanctions to force Iran to stop enriching uranium and become completely transparent. Failing that, a massive pre-emptive strike on Iran's nuclear and other military and industrial facilities is the only policy which makes sense to protect American security from this threat.

  • 5.
  • At 12:31 PM on 04 Dec 2007,
  • Huw Spanner wrote:

If international law allows the US to attack Iran in 'self-defence' because it believes Iran may be planning to attack it, surely it follows that the same law allows Iran to attack the US in 'self-defence' on exactly the same basis. In fact, this creates an absurd circular argument that because (it would seem) almost every country may be regarded as a legitimate target by the US, therefore almost every country is entitled to attack the US pre-emptively in self-defence, therefore the US is entitled to attack them pre-pre-emptively!

  • 6.
  • At 12:51 PM on 04 Dec 2007,
  • Tom wrote:

If you go back and read the Staff Report of the House Permanent Select
Committee on Intelligence (August 23, 2006), and then read the IAEA's response to that report, it becomes quite clear that the Bush administration was unwilling to recognize the facts and was "shaping intelligence" much like Iraq. It was amusing to see words such as "outrageous and dishonest" or "erroneus, misleading, and misrepresented" contained in the IAEA response.

What I fail to understand is why the current administration has adopted such a antagonistic approach to the rest of the world. Equally sad is the selective Alzheimer's the voters n this country seem to have; we may well want to forget that the war in Iraq was based in part on misleading and false information; I'm sure the rest of the world will not. Thankfully another potential blunder appears to have been averted.

  • 7.
  • At 01:05 PM on 04 Dec 2007,
  • Marc wrote:

Inadequate evidence of weapons of mass destruction...this sounds familiar. Of course, this does not mean the possibility of another war has dimmed at all in the long run, no matter who wins the next 'election'. A powerful portion of the American elite have put all their cards in taking control of the Middle East, and they know what's at stake. The Europeans were the last to try this and like the rest of the world, must be shaking their heads at a powerful empire and the failing, desperate strategies by its elite.

  • 8.
  • At 01:16 PM on 04 Dec 2007,
  • Bob wrote:

Bolton's and all of the Bush administration's approach to foreign relations is with a Dirty Harry mentality: "We're right. Shoot first. Ask quesitons later." Consequently the US is despised by most of the world and thumping our chest about how we saved everybody in WWII just reminds us of a better, stronger America with better, stronger leaders who understood the usefullness of detente and the evils of war. Bolton is like the a guy in a tavern who gets drunk, gets in a fight and wins only because his boys are there to back him up. If it was one on one he'd be done.

  • 9.
  • At 01:18 PM on 04 Dec 2007,
  • Eric Hammond wrote:

I'm an American. There are a lot of different opinions going on over here. Those that have the blinders off have been feeling, for the most part, very uneasy about the direction of the current administration. VP Cheney led the charge to Iraq with circumstantial evidence. Was war with Iraq a last resort after all else failed? Few here believe it was. There was an agenda and it was carefully executed in concert with the hawkish media. I have read that we are close to 1 trillion US dollars into this war. About half of our foreign debt. It's so far from common sense concerning what has happened... has our country fallen into the Twilight Zone? VP Cheney is now beating the war drums for Iran. Good lord. It's insane, and I hope people in other countries realize that there are a lot of Americans just baffled by what's happening over here. When did my country decide to bail on its constitution and opt for fascist imperial behaviour? Invading a country for resources is illegal - so is doing so without a clear and present danger to the US. Perhaps, to some up my feelings, I can say the following - When a government abandons common sense, it has outlived its usefulness. Know that many here would choose peaceful resolutions in the world, and that the hawks that are in control are not, by any fathom of a majority, representing the will of the American people. Which, begs the question "If America is not acting through the will of its citizens, what the hell exactly is it doing?".

  • 10.
  • At 01:29 PM on 04 Dec 2007,
  • Chernor Jalloh wrote:

Hi Justin,so this latest report has finally showed that Iran is not capable enough to develop a nuclear BOMB and i wounder if Mr Bolton's book will be the best seller.

  • 11.
  • At 02:49 PM on 04 Dec 2007,
  • Qasem wrote:

One of my friend asked the following questions in his weblog:

1- If Iran did have a nuclear weapons' program up until 2003, and NIC is so confident about its existence (not focusing on its discontinuance), how come IAEA isn't aware of it?

2- If IAEA is aware of such past program (assuming that this claim is not like those that were discredited by IAEA), but is unable to investigate, then it should probably be because of Iran's non-cooperation. Then how come such issue is not even mentioned in the list of questions (about outstanding issues) IAEA has asked Iran?

3- If Iran "has the scientific, technical and industrial capacity eventually to produce nuclear weapons", then Iran can start a clandestine program , as soon as tomorrow, somewhere in the central salt desert, or inside Alborz mountains in the north, or underneath the Urumia lake in the west. What is the point of asking Iran to halt its uranium enrichment program for its "not yet completed" nuclear reactors?

What are the possible answers to the above questions? do you know?

  • 12.
  • At 02:51 PM on 04 Dec 2007,
  • Hoslo wrote:

Mark says "We should ignore this report and take it as ... incorrect assumptions, and wrong conclusions. The report is inconsistent with other facts and the behavior of Iran."

"OTHER FACTS" ? what other facts?
who else have been collecting facts on Irans "WEAPONS PROGRAMS"?

IAEA said the same in its latest report from Iran!

SO, Who else do you mean have the "FACTS" in this case?

Russia and China are spying on us all. We know that. They are in fact syping on everybody. They say the same as this report and the IAEA.

That leaves us with one last option:
Israelis!? I personally do not trust "FACTS" coming from Israel!
They say its midnight and then I am sure it must be noon!

  • 13.
  • At 03:06 PM on 04 Dec 2007,
  • Mark wrote:

Eric Hammond, I'm an American also and I think it is YOU who have the blinders on. Was the war with Iraq the final resort if all else failed? Contrary to what you say, most felt the time had come, have you forgotten so soon? Saddam Hussein had thwarted the conditions of the truce which ended hostilities in 1991 and 17 UN Security Council resolutions for 12 years. France, Germany, Russia, and China were circumventing the sanctions designed to get food and medicine to average Iraqis for oil without allowing him to rebuild his military strength. Iraq was firing on American planes practically every day. Corruption resulting in not enforcing the sanctions went right to the top of the UN including the Secretary General's own son. Iraq had paid stooges in European Parliaments to protect its interests. Hans Blix inspectors looked like a bunch of Keystone Kops while Saddam Hussein's government played a shell game with them. George Tennet the Clinton appointed Director of the CIA told President Bush Iraq having WMDs was a slam dunk while President Putin of Russia told him Iraq was going to attack America on its own soil. When would have been the right time to act in your opinion? What if President Bush hadn't acted and all these people were right and there was an attack? People like you would have been the first to call for his impeachment. That's why the overwhelming majority of Americans and Congress supported the invasion at the time. Europeans opposed it because they wanted to see America attacked. Anti-Americanism long predates the invasion, the most recent wave incited by Schroeder and Chirac to get re-elected in Germany and France.

A trillion dollars to the US over five years is well under 2% GDP, not all that much to fight a war of this kind for this long. What do you think 9-11 ultimately cost?

Your characterization of America as acting in a fascist imperial behavior is an outrageous lie and I defy anyone to demonstrate that the US stole so much as one drop of Iraq's oil.

It's common sense to act in a way that when you think there may be a mortal threat to you but you do not have absolute proof, you don't pretend that the threat doesn't exist, you continue to make plans on the assumption that it does especially when even though you are the world's only superpower, an attack on you with a nuclear weapon would turn all of human civilization on its ear.

As for what people in other countries think...ultimately they don't count, we do not exist to please them. BTW, I remind you that President Bush was re-elected (with no help from me) AFTER the invasion of Iraq. He IS the will of the American people whether they have buyer's remorse now or not.

  • 14.
  • At 03:08 PM on 04 Dec 2007,
  • mb wrote:

To the last post: it is people like you in the world which have it in the mess it is in today, with conflicts, wars, and "face offs"springing up left and right. If it is your tax dollars that are hurt, don't place the blame on the other side, but on the inefficiency for your own government. Obviously, the armada would have not been circling around the Persian Gulf if your country had provided its people with accurate and transparent reasons for the attack of another country.
It is somewhat as the whole Bush administration is unravelling, because what has seemed like the trademark of the administration for almost 8 years now, have boil down to two things: Iraq didn't heave WMD, and now, neither does Iran. If the Bush administration wants to save any face, I would suggest working reaaaal hard on that Palestinan state everyone seems so anxious about, because, as things go now, this administration will be remembered for nothing except a failed war on an imaginary enemy. If I were you, I wouldn't worry about the tax dollars spent on the ships roaming the Persian Sea, but more on the past 7 years of war and worry more about the other 500 billion or so that have been kissed goodbye - an the check hasn't even been brought to the table yet.

  • 15.
  • At 03:15 PM on 04 Dec 2007,
  • John Warner wrote:

Self-defence by its very nature implies defence. Pre-emptive attacks - no matter how much money is spent on PR is nevertheless an act of aggression. Acts of aggression are illegal in the eyes of International Law. It's all very simple.

The American Government (and indeed the English Government) is constant committer of war crimes and acts of imperial aggression against sovereign states. These are not acts that are perpetrated with the knowing (and by knowing I imply a degree of factual knowledge - rather than the jingoistic scare tactics paraded before the eyes of the nation) approval of their respective countries, but under the implicit instruction of multi-national corporations seeking wealth and power. As Rockefeller once said 'Give me control of a nations currency and I care not who makes its laws.' The people of the Armed forces are normal people in extraordinary situations and this is true of their opposition. There was a socialist saying during the First World War that went 'A bayonet is a weapon with a working class man at both ends.' The only differences in modern warfare is that the weapons are better and the opportunities to die for the wealth of others has been extended to both sexes.

War in any respect is a war for the ruling classes, those in Afghanistan, Iraq and the one to come - and it will come - in Iran are no different for their Humanitarian or Defensive brandings.

  • 16.
  • At 03:22 PM on 04 Dec 2007,
  • MarkW wrote:

John Bolton likes to start wars but is never willing to put himself at risk.
To quote his Yale yearbook: "I confess I had no desire to die in a Southeast Asian rice paddy. I considered the war in Vietnam already lost."

Under the UN's NPT, Iran is entitled to the full fuel cycle, including uranium enrichment. The Security Council can't remove that right.

Iran hasn't attacked another country for hundreds of years and many Iranians remember the US-backed coup over Mossadegh as they recall the US (and UK) support for Iraq during the Iran/Iraq war.

Iran wants to trade with the rest of the world and would like parts for its Boeing civilian aircraft.

  • 17.
  • At 03:30 PM on 04 Dec 2007,
  • Matt wrote:

No matter how much everyone here wants to believe that the US was until now aggressively pursuing plans to invade and subjugate Iran, the fact is that we have never seriously been able to consider that option. We simply don't have the manpower to do that and still hold down Iraq and Afghanistan. That would just be one war too many; All the posturing about military action has been for purely diplomatic purposes. Anyone with an understanding of the size of our military can see that. Additionally, it seems highly unlikely that the current administration would try such a thing this late in the term. No, the White House was well and truly fooled by the poor intelligence on Iran's nuclear weapons program (as, I might add, were most European governments).
One thing about the suggestion that the NIE was published out of spite: The CIA, DIA and NRO simply don't play politics like that. No matter how much they might feel abused by a government they are aware that the information that they provide may be used to make decisions that put Americans in danger. They rightly take that responsibility very seriously, and I think that's shown by this abrupt change of course.

  • 18.
  • At 04:40 PM on 04 Dec 2007,
  • Bob Watts wrote:

I'm afraid the Americans (US citizens) are paranoid about being attacked. From Orson Wells "War of the worlds" radio play, when many Newyorkers deserted their homes to ronald Regans "Evil empire".
Now Bush's "Holly wars".
And they are the only nation to drop the atomic bomb in anger.

  • 19.
  • At 06:08 PM on 04 Dec 2007,
  • Kavitansh wrote:

I would like to see a wise US President in the upcoming 2008 Presidential Elections.

We, as US citizens should be more serious while voting. Our vote makes a lot of difference to the world peace.

We made mistake in last two presidential poles but not this time.

We need a President with Wisdom, Foresight and love for Peace & Development.

  • 20.
  • At 08:15 PM on 04 Dec 2007,
  • Simon Waugh wrote:

Why not quote a specialist in international law regarding the legalities of self defense and the obligations of the UN Charter rather than the opinion of John Bolton who openly regards the UN as useless unless it exclusively serves the Bush administration’s interests?

Why not mention that Al Baradei of the UN, who correctly assessed Iraq’s WMD capabilities as being extremely limited if not defunct, issued a report in recent months that assess Iran’s nuclear weapon development capability to be similarly limited?

Why not mention that the publication of the NIE was delayed for a year, just as previous NIEs have been since at least 2004, and that once again it’s findings (from all SIXTEEN intelligence agencies) have cast doubt on the adamant rhetoric and claims the Bush administration has made whilst the NIE was being suppressed (as also has been the case regarding Iraq)?

Why not mention that Iran has been constrained by 18 years of sanctions that have limited their nuclear ambitions? Why not mention that Iran needs 64,000 cascading centrifuges to produce a typical 5 kilotons of weapon-grade material and only has possibly 3,000 thus far, or that it took India and Pakistan 30 years to develop their own nuclear weapons and that actual nuclear experts calculate that it would take Iran at least 10 years to develop a deliverable nuclear capability if that is, they devoted the considerable resources required for such a program at the expense of more pedestrian needs?

Why not mention that even if Iran had refined enough material for a “practical” warhead today, they don’t have a missile which can get beyond part-way into Iraq, let alone hit Israel (their supposed primary target) or Europe—so where’s the threat?

Why not mention that the US has been a consistent threat and real to Iran since the deposing of the US/UK installed Shah rather than Iran being a threat to the US, militarily or politically? Why not mention that the two US carrier groups stationed off Iran’s coast have been deployed all whilst the NIE was being suppressed and possesses a far more capable force than the entire Iranian military? Again where is the threat?

Why so glib about the “former senior adviser’s” comment that he fears the Bush team has been fatally undermined by open discussion of the issue of whether or not the US has a case for engaging in third war in the region, particularly when both Iraq and Afghanistan have been abject failures and yet still continue, when both have run on longer than the US involvement in WWII, when the cost has already reached that of the Vietnam war, when the US is facing a record $9-trillion debt (80% of its GDP and thanks in significant part to the Iraq misadventure) whilst its currency has dropped to record lows and its most optimistic annual economic growth projections are significantly less than 2%? Why is none of this worthy of discussion by the public who pays for all this? Why allow, in the final sentence that the 16 US intelligence agencies are simply taking “revenge” for “the flak they took over Iraq” and thus imply that the NIE is simply a political document when it is a matter of record that the Bush administration selected identified dubious intelligence and used it to create their own politically self-serving “analysis” that has been proven to be utter rubbish?

Why is all this framed as simply a political ‘spat’ and a game of only abstract interest? Why is all the above ignored by the majority of the press? Why do I as an ordinary citizen with no special access to ambassadors and advisers and officials know more about this subject than this article and almost ever other article readily available from the mass media written by those “in the know”, whose jobs are to report the facts or provide reasoned and authoritative analyses? Why is that, do you suppose?

Suggestion: how about setting up an interview with me, a US citizen who is paying for the current wars and would be forced to pay for a war with Iran and allow me to provide an informed citizen’s perspective (shared by many should add) on the issue rather than yet another litany of partisan hyperbole from self-interested self-promoting ideological hacks? It could be quite interesting.

  • 21.
  • At 08:36 PM on 04 Dec 2007,
  • Bedd Gelert wrote:

I have a perverse form of respect for John Bolton. Tony Blair spent a lot of time trying to convince us that Iraq had Weapons of Mass Destruction, and he then expended a lot of effort convincing the UN that they should allow attacks on Iraq.

George Bush wasn't that fussed about the United Nations, but seemed to think that it was important to spread freedom and democracy in the Middle East.

With John Bolton he doesn't care whether Iran has nukes. He has absolutely no interest whether they adopt democracy. He doesn't make any effort to pretend that he wants to justify military action through the UN.

His 'What You See Is What You Get' attitude is 'Attack is the best form of defence, so we'll get our retaliation in first and bomb them whether they have nukes or not'.

Well, at least he's honest, even if it is morally, ethically and legally indefensible..

  • 22.
  • At 08:40 PM on 04 Dec 2007,
  • argumentum ad logicam wrote:

The NIE report affirms the neocons' and Bush administrations' flawed logic and form to push for war with Iran. Any discussion ergo conclusion based on material found yet NOT found renders the logic circular and invalid. Frued, make room for your kissing cousins.

Excerpt from an interview available at

Noam Chomsky on U.S. Policy Towards Iran
Noam Chomsky interviewed by Paul Jay
The Real News Network, November 19, 2007
PAUL JAY, SENIOR EDITOR: ElBaradei, is the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, stated quite definitively there is no evidence of a nuclear weapons program in Iran. The recent resolution—the Kyle-Lieberman amendment—and the recent U.S. sanctions against Iran, which one of the charges is that Iran has been helping what they call insurgents in Iraq. There's practically no evidence of that either. Based on what we know as evidence, there's not a lot of reasons for U.S. policy to be as aggressive right now towards Iran as it is, certainly not for the stated reason. What really does motivate U.S. policy towards Iran?
NOAM CHOMSKY, PROFESSOR OF LINGUISTICS, MIT: Well, if I can make a comment about the stated reasons, the very fact that we're discussing them tells us a lot about the sort of intellectual culture and moral culture in the United States. I mean, suppose it was true that Iran is helping insurgents in Iraq. I mean, wasn’t the United States helping insurgents when the Russians invaded Afghanistan? Did we think there was anything wrong with that? I mean, Iraq's a country that was invaded and is under military occupation. You can't have a serious discussion about whether someone else is interfering in it. The basic assumption underlying the discussion is that we own the world. So if we invade and occupy another country, then it's a criminal act for anyone to interfere with it. What about the nuclear weapons? I mean, are there countries with nuclear weapons in the region? Israel has a couple of hundred nuclear weapons. The United States gives more support to it than any other country in the world. The Bush administration is trying very hard to push through an agreement that not only authorizes India's illegal acquisition of nuclear weapons but assists it. That's what the U.S.-Indo Nuclear Pact is about. And, furthermore, there happens to be an obligation of the states in the Security Council and elsewhere to move towards establishing a nuclear weapons-free zone in the region. Now that would include Iran and Israel and any U.S. forces deployed there. That's part of Resolution 687. Now to your question. The real reasons for the attack on Iran, the sanctions, and so on go back into history. I mean, we like to forget the history; Iranians don't. In 1953, the United States and Britain overthrew the parliamentary government and installed a brutal dictator, the Shah, who ruled until 1979. And during his rule, incidentally, the United States was strongly supporting the same programs they're objecting to today. In 1979, the population overthrew the dictator, and since then the United States has been essentially torturing Iran. First it tried a military coup. Then it supported Saddam Hussein during Iraq's invasion of Iran, which killed hundreds of thousands of people. Then, after that was over, the United States started imposing harsh sanctions on Iran. And now it's escalating that. The point is: Iran is out of control. You know, it's supposed to be a U.S.-client state, as it was under the Shah, and it's refusing to play that role.

  • 24.
  • At 09:19 PM on 04 Dec 2007,
  • Ken wrote:

Hey, Mark-

All Americans can't be scared little girl terrorist propagandists like yourself. Personally, I have enough faith in our military and intelligence apparati to know that Islam and terrorism were NEVER real threats to the United States - no more than that nonexistant Iranian bomb the administration wants to start a war over.

An American conservative, still trying to justify the invasion of Iraq - do we need any more to see that Mark's opinions on politics are irrelevant?

  • 25.
  • At 10:35 PM on 04 Dec 2007,
  • Heywood Yerbloemie wrote:

"Suggestion: how about setting up an interview with me... and allow me to provide an informed citizen’s perspective... on the issue rather than yet another litany of partisan hyperbole from self-interested self-promoting ideological hacks?"

After your exhaustive post, there's no need to do that. And you've done what you accuse the Bush administration of doing: you've read the NIE redactions - or the media filleting of them - and you've picked the KJ that fits your views.

And there *is* a substantial portion of the US media already devoted to rehearsing the tired 'Bush lied...' hyperbole you've just vented, to say nothing of Prof Chomsky's cod-profound warblings of moral equivalence.

  • 26.
  • At 11:40 PM on 04 Dec 2007,
  • iman wrote:

I'm Iman.I live in Iran.
American people should not blame Bush for Iraq.Just this terroristic attacks could take place in USA,if Bush didn't attacked Iraq.Is not fair to blame army,just remember two towers.I am sure that Iran would follow nuclear program after critics had been drawn down.I know my country's gowernment better.
Iran has been not stopped nuclear program,they are going ahead to enrich.You say ,CIA took a mistake in Iraq ,How are u sure that CIA have not taken a mistake in Iran,Maybe Iran has not stopped the program.
This regime(iran) kills his people simply,refer to human right reports of UN,they will kill all world,if they can do it.In middle east, problems are so complicated,please don't analyze them while u are sitting in your home and have not even once tripped to this region of world.

  • 27.
  • At 12:14 AM on 05 Dec 2007,
  • Eric Hammond wrote:

I don't think most US citizens are paranoid of being attacked. It's such a paradox, though. On one front, the administration and press play up the threats (let's face it, it's riveting news). On another front, our (US) foreign policy for the last 50 years has forged sharp and distinct factions that, in turn, have created fierce foes. We have a reason to be worried, yes, but in most cases, it's our own actions and legacy that have caused such hatred. Not in all cases, but enough. How could Iran not consider the US an enemy after we supported Iraq during the Iraq/Iran war for many years. Then, in an about face, we are now occupying Iraq. Yes, yes, I know there is much history between those two events. My point here is that most Americans aren't living in fear of being attacked. Whatever fear is present is mostly drummed up by the media. If we'd spend more energy trying to mend our relationship with Iran, rather than beating our chests and touting threats of war, perhaps there would be less fear about Iran's nuclear program. One thing is certain: given time and resources, more and more countries will come to possess nuclear weapons. The policy of preventing these countries from WMD development through acts of violence... is likely to seed the motivation to seek revenge in the future. The issue at hand is not to go to war with Iran - would be yet another foreign policy decision with devastating long term effects - but to seek the common ground and find a way to mend the past. It's the only way to absolve the fear. Why are we no longer afraid of Russia possessing stockpiles of long range nuclear missiles? We are somewhat allies now, and economically tied one another. It is possible - do we have the courage to make peace with Iran?

  • 28.
  • At 12:32 AM on 05 Dec 2007,
  • Graham wrote:

That we can have the niceties of such a debate is because our fathers and grandfathers stood up for what they believed in.
Bush is a man of action, not words. With God willing he will instruct the armed forces to destroy Iranian strategic positions. Has 9 11 taught us nothing? After the event is too late. Who would want to see a mushroom cloud over one of our great cities? We must do with is right for us and for our children, act now and destroy any threat we see on the horizon.

  • 29.
  • At 08:14 AM on 05 Dec 2007,
  • Nidhi Sharma wrote:

Bush Administration is trying to fool everybody and taking steps towards their personal gains.

So, we should stop giving them any more chances and bring them to the level they deserve.

Let's make the right decision in the coming US Presidential Polls 2008.

  • 30.
  • At 10:49 AM on 05 Dec 2007,
  • Qasem wrote:

As an Iranian Citizen, who is writing from Tehran, I would like to thank those who oppose war. I want to say that every one want peace. We, I and other Iranians, want peace too.

When I look at the facts on the grounds, it is not us who is threatening the word. It is US and some aggressive other people who constantly are saying they want to invade my country. They even have it ratified to use new generations of atomic bombs against targets very close to populated cities in Iran.

I am a bit worried about some of the comments, for example the one by Graham. Dear Graham, we are the inheritance of an old empire. It is a long time that we, however, come to the conclusion that no empire last forever, regardless of how much cruelly it wants to expands its horizons. It should be obvious that war brings no peace. It just leads to more war and less peace.

We want to enjoy our freedom and liberations beside having the same rights as other nations have.

  • 31.
  • At 12:31 PM on 05 Dec 2007,
  • phil wrote:

What with Bush's tax breaks for corporate kleptocracies, refusing to sanction cigarette maker's profits being used for chlidren's healthcare, adding $2 trillion to America's national deficit, completely trashing the constitution, treating the american public with utter contempt and turning the the senate and congress into a laughing stock round the world, advocating the use of torture and flushing $1 trillion tax dollars down the toilet on a pointless war on the other side of the planet, any damage that Iran could do to America pales into insignificance compared with the damage Bush and his neocons nutcases have already inflicted on America. How has this wingnut not been impeached yet?

  • 32.
  • At 12:43 PM on 05 Dec 2007,
  • phil wrote:

Failing that, a massive pre-emptive strike on Iran's nuclear and other military and industrial facilities is the only policy which makes sense to protect American security from this threat.
Ha ha ha ha ha! Wow! I guess 9/11 and the Iraq war really didnt teach America anything. (You do realise your economy would stop working if Iran stopped selling oil dont you?) No? Oh you surprise me, just another ignorant yank spouting huh? The only policy that makes sense is never let America do anything until the grown ups have actually checked the policy to make sure it doesnt blow up in your faces like every other policy undertaken by this misguided madcap administration.

  • 33.
  • At 02:23 PM on 05 Dec 2007,
  • Mark wrote:

phil 31

I think America's most misguided policy was intervening in World War I. Had it let all of Europe finish killing itself off, World War II and the cold war might never have happened saving America much expense and other sacrifice later on.

Should US policy on Iran change? Yes. Since the report concluded outside pressure works with this regime, it should be ramped up exponentially. This should include far stiffer sanctions and far more explicit threats of direct military action backed up with a clear show of force. This is the time and opportunity to scare them into sanity before it is too late.

Frankly Phil, I wouldn't worry about America's economy, it seems to be doing just fine and if we have a recession, it will likely be mild and short just like the last one. America has survived far worse economic crises than the current one resulting from these foolish loans. Of course the impact on the rest of the world, especially Europe could be far worse...just like it was the last time. Remember how it was in 2000? European economists said a US recession wouldn't affect Europe but that recession was ancient history in America before Europe even began to recover.

At least some American economic and market analysts don't agree with your conclusions about the price of oil. They say the sooner we reach $150 a barrel oil, the sooner we get to $20 a barrel oil. Why isn't there a larger supply of oil on the market? Because at the moment, OPEC doesn't want it that way. Are you worried the North Sea is running out and Russia won't sell the UK any? Looks like they have Britain and the rest of Europe over a barrel :-) BTW, America has enough coal within its own borders to supply its energy needs for the next 250 years. Think of Europe's coming forced cutbacks on consumption of fossil fuel as a way to offset CO2 emissions by China, India, and the US. Maybe it's time for the UK to re-open those shut down coal mines and forget about CO2 emissions for awhile. Rhetoric about climate change is nice but it won't keep your toes from freezing on those cold winter nights.

  • 34.
  • At 02:56 PM on 05 Dec 2007,
  • sandy wrote:

lot is being said here...about the adminstration bushism and blah blah blah.....someone mentioned it right the opposition in the US is a club of elite politicians who decide politics only in kitty parties and golf courses...they have turned into a joke...but what have the people done there to stop the war...its a democratic country i do protests which look like carnivals.....i am an outsider...really dont know if the common people really voted for the war or it was a media gimmick....i just feel it did..given the so few and less charged up many people know the name of your president?? huh? may i know how long does it take to remove a president..why do you wait for him getting impeached??? how can you be so aloof ??? i thought your neighbours were more passionate in expressing their feelings when bush went visiting them. you are afraid of shedding blood for a protest??? i think if bush and co. did all this. then u allowed him to do it. its as simple as that....had you not carried teddy bears and candles ..and carried a single wooden 12 inch scale would also have done the job....1 lakh people thats not a small number to bring a change...the only american who probably learnt it the hard way ( i hope she had asked her son not to go to the war in the first place ) was called an attention whore.....its a shame.....the common people out there who come here to comment to show how nice they are...are actually running from guilt....trying to are not better than bush...its your doing!!! go and push more opinion poll buttons....... and see if you can stop a war...

  • 35.
  • At 03:00 PM on 05 Dec 2007,
  • Matt wrote:

America's economy wouldn't "stop working" if Iran cut off oil exports unilaterally; we don't buy that much of it at this point anyway, compared to the total volume. The reason the oil embargo of the 1970s was so effective was that all of OPEC was behind it. The strategic use of petroleum as a weapon is often overstated in its effectiveness; Countries like Iran and Venezuela cannot, for the most part, even refine their own petroleum, they ship it, in Iran's case, across the Gulf or, in Venezuela's case, to Florida, Texas and Louisiana. Petrochemical export, like every export, is a two-way street. Ceasing to export Crude would destabilize the marketplace for oil, it's true, but it would also remove one of Iran's main sources of revenue. That's why you see threats of embargo more often than actual embargoes.

  • 36.
  • At 03:17 PM on 05 Dec 2007,
  • Blake wrote:

"As for what people in other countries think...ultimately they don't count, we do not exist to please them."

We do exist in the same world as them, though, and would do well to occasionally take this into account.

  • 37.
  • At 04:11 PM on 05 Dec 2007,
  • Mark wrote:

Blake 34

"We do exist in the same world as them, though, and would do well to occasionally take this into account."

We do take it into account more than occasionally, when and how it suits our own interests. Every other country does exactly the same. Ultimately when deciding on a course of action "we come first" is the policy of every nation's government. It's something we should also take into account...occasionally.

  • 38.
  • At 06:37 PM on 05 Dec 2007,
  • John Warner wrote:

Mark. . . the American coal reserves are sufficient for 211 years at current output and consumption - which accounts for 46% of US energy output. However, with crude oil expected to dry up in the next ten to fifteen years, combined with increasing population size and therefore energy consumption - plus the fact that the US exports a lot coal to Canada - I wouldn't hold your breath on it lasting a half century - though it seems your personal viewpoint is 'lookout for number one and let the rest go to hell', so you probably won't be too concerned about your grandchildren. (this is all using figures from a US government website, by the way:

In addition to this, the main reason - and - again, this is available for all to see if you RESEARCH your opinions - that the US joined the First World War late is that your armed forces were small and poorly trained (as opposed to large and poorly trained as they are now), which meant that even had the American public wanted to - which they didn't - the US would have been unable to join in from the off set. The reason you joined in at all - going against public opinion at the time (something the US government never seems to tire of) - is that US economists and corporate businessmen saw a huge profit to be made in the increased output of the arms industry and that all it would cost would be the lives of their countrymen - another thing that never changes.

As for the second world war? Georgy Boy's grand pappy made the Nazi war effort possible with his company being the largest provider of vital oil to the Nazi regime, so technically speaking, the US have already put the world at risk with their flagrant profiteering and are doing so again. Wars aren't faught to protect anyone, or to defend anyone or to liberate or chastise, they're faught because your government, and mine and those of the entire world are in it for the money.

If you really believe that the US could happily survive without the rest of the world, then you need your eyes testing. There will come a time and very soon when the countries of this world must co-operate or die. If you think it's about nuclear weaponry, look no further than the US assisted Israeli states large nuclear arsenal - as Chomsky says in the excerpt I posted above - or the aid given to India to purchase Nuclear weaponry. Your government has deceived you and is turning you against the world, just as it is turning the world against itself. The ideal citizen in the modern dystopia is inward-focused, patriotic and scared and if you allow it to continue, your government (and again mine) will weild all of the totalitarian powers that they so admired in Hitler's Germany, those that they sought to install in Africa and the Middle East in the 60's and 70's when progressive democracies were toppled for fear of them teaming up with the 'pinkos'.

Have a think mate. Ask yourself where you've gotten this world view and then ask yourself if it bears any semblance to the real world. But most of all, just think.

  • 39.
  • At 10:22 PM on 05 Dec 2007,
  • Justin wrote:


I watched your programme with John Bolton and have to say that I was very impressed to see him try and dismiss the PNAC - a neo-con think tank that is quite clearly the source of Bush's foreign policy and something to which Bolton is a signatory.

It's important to point out that PNAC suggested regime change in Iraq years before the Iraq War started in 2003.

Also, the PNAC once revealed that its own policies would be hard sold to the American public unless an event took place "like a new Pearl Harbour". And this was said well before September 11th.

I don't subscribe to the conspiracy theories surrounding 9/11 or Iraq but I do find the PNAC's rhetoric disturbing.

Check out their website:

  • 40.
  • At 10:43 PM on 05 Dec 2007,
  • Mark wrote:

John Warner #37
Your skewed view of history and the world is so distorted, the facts so wrong it is pointless to refute it item by item with comments. However, right now...your losing...whether it knows it or not. Sarkozy, Merckel, and Brown know it. That's why a few weeks ago they came hat in hand to a lame duck President their populations despise. They got a nice pat on the back and a handshake for their efforts and nothing more.

"it seems your personal viewpoint is "lookout for number one and let the rest go to hell" That's not just my viewpoint, it's practically everyone's. In every nation. By Chomsky's definition, we're all rogues.

It's a strange one, this announcement by the US intelligence agencies that Iran is less of a threat than the US President would have us believe. And just as they've started imposing sanctions. I think we'll need to wait a few weeks to see what else has been going on. Maybe some political changes in Iran are on the way? The Iranians are not completely stupid, they know that such a level of confrontation with the west can only eventually lead to their own destruction.

  • 42.
  • At 05:39 PM on 06 Dec 2007,
  • Bruno S wrote:

I like visiting this kind of blogs for the entertainment value. It is awesome to see how stupid we humans really are, how much we love the "herd" mentality and how insecure we all feel individually.

Perhaps, we, cooperatively, really deserve to annihilate our own species through our own doing. We don't deserve to have been entrusted with a "superior" brain power compared to the rest of living species on this planet for we don't know how to use it other than for the intrinsic altruistic values of self-interest.

So, let us go on then, and war with each other until there's no one left; this Earth will be lot better of without us to run the show.

Maybe a new species will evolve, not necessary human one, which will be better steward than we ever were.

US, Iran, Russia,China, UK...what's the difference...we're all human..we're all doomed...and all because we follow like "sheep"....unless...

maybe it is time for the individuals in all nations to start thinking like the members of this planet as belonging to one society instead of many different ones...then, maybe we'll be able to avert our own demise through wars

Remember, what goes around, comes around!!!

  • 43.
  • At 06:28 PM on 06 Dec 2007,
  • cthings wrote:

Your mention of the "sheep" mentality is spot on.

To long have the people of the world been ruled by misleading shepherds that take the herds to slaughters, only to get rich at the expense of our blood and tears.

Wake up sheeple, your future should be in your hands, not the hands of those that have shown they can't be trusted.

  • 44.
  • At 06:48 PM on 06 Dec 2007,
  • Mark wrote:

Bruno S #41
I think like a human being...with an instinct to survive. When I see a mortal threat that I can't avoid, I face the fact that my best chances are to eliminate it regardless of the consequences. When you are locked in a cage with a crazy man, your only option is to kill him before he kills you first. And you don't go ahead believing in one report saying that there is no threat from a proven unreliable source when it goes against the grain of everything else you know and have seen about that person. (That's how do-gooder people think when they let "cured" psychopathic killers out of lunatic asylums for the criminally insane who then go on to kill again.) What's your solution, the thinking of the society you come from, to sit around with him, talk with him, hold hands with him, and sing Kumbaya? No thanks, I'd like to live long enough to see the sun rise tomorrow. A pre-emptive strike against Iran's nuclear installations is every bit as justifiable as shooting a burglar who is lurking around your house trying to break in. I know that's illegal in the UK but not in the US. There are still people with enough red blood and testosterone in their veins in America to do more than sit around wringing their hands hoping danger will go away by itself. Experience has proven that doesn't work. The longer we wait, the greater the danger becomes. The best time to act would be right now.

  • 45.
  • At 09:57 PM on 06 Dec 2007,
  • Some Guy wrote:

While this may seem like it undermines the war on Iran, I don't think it will stop Bush.

Where are the wmd's of Iraq? There hasn't been any official reprimand on anyone regarding this. Clearly, Bush wanted an Iraq war and he got one. I believe he will try the same with Iran.

If Congress stands upto him, then he will pull a Vietnam and call it a military action. Just like every thing he signs, he releases a signing statement saying he is exempt.

  • 46.
  • At 10:18 PM on 06 Dec 2007,
  • adam wrote:

I really object to the picture you have put up of that wall in iran wth the american flag, when what you are writing about has nothing to do with that.

  • 47.
  • At 10:49 PM on 06 Dec 2007,
  • Steven Martin wrote:

If we use this "Self Defence" argument and apply it to Iran, then Iran has every right to attack us right now, because we are clearly acting in a threatening way and may well attack them soon.

The world will become a very dangerous place if any country can attack any other on the flimsiest of pretexts.

  • 48.
  • At 06:57 AM on 07 Dec 2007,
  • sandy wrote:

Mark Not only Iraq, Wmds, Iran and Nukes....are there there are other threats too not only to you but to your whole country infact to the whole world....I will list a few....i know its a never ending list ...but will welcome others to add on too..i am sure it would be fun......
1. there are mosquitos which can be fatal.....
2. snakes...
3. birds....
4. tigers who knows tigers are multiplying and planning an attack on the human race....
5. aliens...o my god we have thought about it at all.... quakes....
7. volcanoes....
8. famine...
9. global warming.....
10. car accidents... what if there are 1 million accidents at the same time..u never know....
11. tooth brush with your paste...what if you choke on it.....
what if the whole country chokes on itat the same god...possible...everything is possible.....

get rael man..... you will die one day.. for sure... everyone who comes has to go....its not our world....pls live and let live....if iran attacks you have the full rights to retaliate....but thats a big if...respect that....also these are matters on which you have little control...better still you work on that 11 items i have might make a difference ... who knows...and who cares.....get some help and come out of that i am going to be doomed syndrome.....

  • 49.
  • At 02:54 PM on 07 Dec 2007,
  • tubby wrote:

What an eye opener for me....Many of the views posted here point to a mistrust of government - on a similar footing to those views held by some within the UK. We all seem to be bombarded with news and information by our so called leaders designed to scare and intimidate us. Eventually were all conned into supporting these wars. My sympathies to all those families who have or are sacrificing for this cause (which is?). The more l listen to these hawks the clearer it becomes to me that the motives behind them are that of Control - power and money (is this so hard for some to believe). Personally l never really considered the Middle East as a threat until one day my Government told me they were. Since those days it now seems like a WAR not against IRAQ or IRAN or terrorist regimes but against (and for the control of) the whole Middle East, sold to Joe Public as War on Terror. Eventually l heard it so much that the reporting lost all credibility or integrity coming across as controlled - contrived and pre-meditated. At first l believed it but now with hindsight it seems l was manipulated to think feel and vote in a certain manner. The middles EAST and IRAN will not become an enemy UNLESS by deliberate design. Once our governments start a WAR and create civil unrest through division like in IRAQ they can simply sit back and watch the country self destruct. Once the people have exhausted themselves you loan corrupt puppet governments the money to rebuild. Once you control the money you control the government / people / policy and natural resource. I do however feel a change. The administrations and governments of our country have underestimated the intelligence of the people. They have treated us with such indignation and contempt that we beginning to think for ourselves and more open to each others opinions - thoughts and points of view. The more we do this the closer we get to understanding when were being hoodwinked. l hope we who consider ourselves as democratic and morale countries take back the reigns of power. Were supposed to control our governments who are supposedley fairly elected by us to represent our best interest. However somewhere along the lines we stopped thinking for ourselves and left it those who have no care or compassion for us or our children. As a result the government now controls us through fear and intimidation. Through indivisual thought and responsibility for our own action we can collectively make a change. Good or bad at least were hen the masters of out own destiny.

  • 50.
  • At 04:46 PM on 07 Dec 2007,
  • Mark wrote:

Of all 365 days in a year, December 7 is the perfect day to discuss this topic. I wonder how many who were born and live East of the pond know enough about America to know why. I even wonder how many on my side know why. We have a saying in America, those who forget the lessons of history are condemned to repeat them. Tuition generally escalates steeply the second time around.

  • 51.
  • At 05:18 PM on 07 Dec 2007,
  • Mary Parks wrote:

The problem America now faces in the world is that 'US intelligence' is seen by many as a contradiction in terms.

  • 52.
  • At 10:59 AM on 09 Dec 2007,
  • Jim wrote:

Why John Bolton appears to get generous coverage across all BBC platforms but too little attention to Thomas Fingar, the principal author of the report on Iran for the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE), which represents the consensus of the 16 US intelligence agencies?

Why not interview Fingar alongwith Joseph Cirincione and Flynt Leverett
to provide the audience with the much desired points and counterpoints approach?

  • 53.
  • At 04:27 AM on 23 Dec 2007,
  • Derek wrote:

I wonder what the world reaction would be if someone in the US were to paint a side of a building with a large Iranian flag and write the words "Down with Iran" on it.

  • 54.
  • At 04:41 PM on 25 Dec 2007,
  • LS wrote:

I enjoy reading your commentaries even if I don't like the subject or agree with your, or others opinions. Please continue to share your observations with us.

  • 55.
  • At 11:11 AM on 26 Dec 2007,
  • Raymog wrote:

The intelligence agencies were catastrophically wrong on the Iraq intelligence suggesting that Saddam Hussein could launch a Nuclear or Biological Weapon at London within 45 minutes in 2003. So wrong in fact, why should they ever be believed again? What planet are these people on? My own dumb intelligence assessment based on gut feeling is that if I were Iran, I would not bother producing expensive long range weaponry. I would simply produce the basic materials needed (Uranium/Plutonium?) and supply it to Terrorists so they can do the dirty work. Either building a rudimentary bomb and sending it in via a Truck to a large population center or using the materials in Dirty Bombs.
Bin Laden demonstrated how easy it is to panic powerful nations in the west with much smaller acts of terrorism. As I understand it the Nanantz plant is spinning it centrifuges furiously to achieve that aim, expect a consignment in your neighbourhood soon!

  • 56.
  • At 11:25 AM on 26 Dec 2007,
  • Raymog wrote:

The intelligence agencies were catastrophically wrong on the Iraq intelligence suggesting that Saddam Hussein could launch a Nuclear or Biological Weapon at London within 45 minutes in 2003. So wrong in fact, why should they ever be believed again? What planet are these people on? My own dumb intelligence assessment based on gut feeling is that if I were Iran, I would not bother producing expensive long range weaponry. I would simply produce the basic materials needed (Uranium/Plutonium?) and supply it to Terrorists so they can do the dirty work. Either building a rudimentary bomb and sending it in via a Truck to a large population center or using the materials in Dirty Bombs.
Bin Laden demonstrated how easy it is to panic powerful nations in the west with much smaller acts of terrorism. As I understand it the Nanantz plant is spinning it centrifuges furiously to achieve that aim, expect a consignment in your neighbourhood soon!

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