Last year former US weapons inspector David Kay compared the debate about Iran's nuclear program with the debate about Iraq before the war. Similarly Joseph Cirincione, the director for non-proliferation at the Carnegie Endowment, now claims that "some U.S. officials have already decided they want to hit Iran hard." He is concerned that the "political or ideological agenda of a small group" will once again "create havoc in a critical area of the globe":
Does this story line sound familiar? The vice president of the United States gives a major speech focused on the threat from an oil-rich nation in the Middle East. The U.S. secretary of state tells congress that the same nation is our most serious global challenge. The secretary of defense calls that nation the leading supporter of global terrorism. The president blames it for attacks on U.S. troops. The intelligence agencies say the nuclear threat from this nation is 10 years away, but the director of intelligence paints a more ominous picture. A new U.S. national security strategy trumpets preemptive attacks and highlights the country as a major threat. And neoconservatives beat the war drums, as the cable media banner their stories with words like "countdown" and "showdown." The nation making headlines today, of course, is Iran, not Iraq. But the parallels are striking. Three years after senior administration officials systematically misled the nation into a disastrous war, they could well be trying to do it again.Cirincione might be wrong: This time the intelligence information might be better. Iran certainly is a bigger threat than Iraq ever was, but who trusts the Bush administration anymore? Many of those politicians and citizens around the world, who supported the U.S. policy towards Iraq, seem to be more skeptical now about U.S. statements on the extent of the Iranian threat (and the urgency) and doubt U.S. regime change capabilities. Besides, Anti-Americanism has increased, which makes supporting the U.S. even more difficult. "Trust us" is not enough to get support, more information is needed. Cirincione concludes:
The administration should now declassify the information it used to estimate how long it will be until Iran has the capability to make a bomb. The Washington Post reported last August that this national intelligence estimate says Iran is a decade away. We need to see the basis for this judgment and all, if any, dissenting opinions. The congressional intelligence committees should be conducting their own reviews of the assessments, including open hearings with independent experts and IAEA officials.About the national intelligence estimate see our related post: War against Iran? Populism against the US?