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Iran NIE And The Eight-year Carnival Of Lies

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Editor's Note:

Now that the neo-conservative train to war with Iran 
seems to have been derailed, we really need to understand 
what all this is about. William Pfaff is one of the most 
respected journalists in the world who writes on the Middle 
East and foreign affairs. He writes from France and rarely 
gets picked up by US papers. 

We have featured him before... and will probably do so 
more often as he has clear thinking that we are all in 
need right now. 


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                  Video Clip Of The Week

          CIA: Iran Halted Nuke Program in 2003

In a dramatic revelation, the CIA has announced that Iran 
halted its nuclear bomb program in 2003 and thus verified 
the claims of Bush critics. This major announcement pretty 
much makes Iran safe from US or Israeli attack. 

View: CIA: Iran Halted Nuke Program in 2003 
The Iran NIE And The Eight-year Carnival Of Lies - 
William Pfaff 

Paris, December 4, 2007 – The newly released American 
National Intelligence Estimate concerning Iran's nuclear 
status has been like the discovery of a freshwater spring 
in a Carolinas swamp. 

In its clarity, professionalism and evident concern for 
exact statement it could not be in more contrast with the 
bombast, distortion, political rhetoric, dissimulation 
and sheer lies with which the American public debate over 
Middle and Near East policy has been conducted during most 
of the past decade – and thanks to Washington, in most of 
the western world as well. How could this have happened? 

It seems that this NIE has been ready since the summer. A 
ferocious battle to change or suppress it must have been 
fought by the president's and Dick Cheney's men, as well 
as by the surviving neo-conservatives in the policy 
apparatus. Since the document's first internal government 
circulation, the president has nonetheless continued saying 
that Iran's (non-existent) weapons program threatened world 
war III. 

Have the president and vice president now simply given 
up serious defense of the policies they have ruthlessly 
promoted during the last seven years, and the dissimulation 
and distortion which accompanied most of those policies? 
That would be an admission that the Bush administration 
has been worn down or even defeated by forces within the 
government itself. 

Can having made General Michael Hayden Director of Central 
Intelligence and Robert M. Gates Defense Secretary been 
sufficient to restore the authority of professional 
standards, and belief in public duty and candor, within 
the Washington bureaucracy? 

An added intimation of presidential defeat was provided 
in George W. Bush's willingness to allow Condoleezza Rice 
to have her Annapolis conference, and her last grasp for 
some kind of Middle Eastern progress. The president's 
manifest lack of interest in any of it, during his brief 
visit to Annapolis, and his lack of courtesy towards the 
Arab leaders who had been bullied or blackmailed into 
attending, conveyed the sense of a man who has thrown 
down his cards and now simply wants to get his term over 
and not look back. 

One would like to believe that the appearance of one honest 
and professional public policy document in the Washington 
debate is harbinger of a springtime of truth and wisdom. 
Virtually nothing in the presidential primary season thus 
far would justify an assumption that the lies, mendacity 
and manipulation would end, whoever was elected president. 


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The language of policy and political discussion and debate 
in the United States has been poisoned during the last 
seven years, in the U.S. and to a considerable extent 
abroad, where other governments, and the United Nations, 
automatically have adopted the vocabulary and concepts 
current in Washington. 

The debasement of language is political, due to the 
American electoral system, by which campaigning is entire-
ly by unlimited paid television (or radio) advertising, 
imposing demagogy and simplism, frequently testing the 
limits of defamation and calumny. It also is due to the 
power of special interests in Congress and their influence 
on the public debate in Washington, distorting argument, 
cultivating euphemism, setting the media agenda, and 
imposing demagogy. 

There has, for example, been little or no honest mainstream 
public debate on Iran, Iraq, the Palestinians, the other 
Arabs, and Israel, in the United States since the Israeli 
war of 1967 and the Iranian revolution of 1979. 

The debate has been systematically distorted by consider-
ations of American government desire (and to a considerably 
lesser extent, that of the American public) for revenge on 
Iran for the 1979 humiliation of the United States, taking 
American diplomats prisoner, and the fiasco of the failed 
American rescue operation a year later. 

It is distorted by Israel's identification of Iran as its 
most important enemy in the region, now that Saddam 
Hussein's Iraq has been destroyed, producing global efforts 
to exaggerate Iran's regional and international importance, 
its military potential, and its threat to its neighbors. 

It is distorted by a counterproductive American policy to 
dominate oil production and commerce in the Middle East 
and Persian Gulf, and to exaggerate the true significance 
of nuclear proliferation, whose interest to a state like 
Iran, confronting major nuclear powers, is wholly 
deterrent. Nuclear weapons have no offensive value for a 
state like Iran; they simply limit the freedom of action 
of others. 

The distortion of language distorts reality. The NIE says 
Iran gave up its effort to develop nuclear weapons four 
years ago. Iran has since has been constantly paraded in 
American official statements as a rogue state on its way 
to assault the world, against whose power missile defenses 
must be constructed in the Czech Republic and Poland. 

It has all been bunkum, if not calculated lie. There was 
no Iraq mass destruction weapons threat. There is no 
Iranian nuclear threat. It was never a serious proposition 
that Islamic terrorists had to be fought in Iraq to stop 
them from attacking American cities. There has never been 
a serious intention in Washington or Jerusalem to allow a 
two-states settlement in Israel-Palestine. Allied countries 
nonetheless took all these lies seriously. So did the 
Palestinians. So, for that matter, did the Iraqis, and 
so – most of all – did Americans. As the great American 
carnival showman P.T. Barnum said, "There's a sucker born 
every minute." 


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