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British Intelligence is Smarter than Ours By: Alan M. Dershowitz
FrontPageMagazine.com | Thursday, March 06, 2008


Anyone who doubts that Iran is determined to develop deliverable nuclear weapons should not be in position of decision making or influence. The evidence is as clear as can be, despite the “fog of peace” artificially constructed by the recent National Intelligence Estimate issued by our government’s collective intelligence agencies. It may be true, as the estimate concludes, that in 2003 the Iranians shifted from a single track approach to a duel track approach—from taking direct steps toward building the bomb to taking indirect steps that have both civilian and military applications. But it does not follow that either the goal of the program, or even its schedule, has changed significantly.

As I demonstrated in a blog posting on Huffington post, nothing has really changed with regard to the Iranian nuclear threat since 2003 --except that Iran is closer today than it was then to developing a nuclear bomb.

Yet our intelligence community seems to have fallen for Iran’s version of two-card monte. Either that, or they are deliberately trying to pull the wool over the eyes of the American public in order to discourage what they believed was a drum-beat for a preemptive attack on Iranian nuclear facilities.

One prominent public figure who seems entirely willing to pull the wool over his own eyes, and those of his readers, is former senator and former presidential hopeful Gary Hart.

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Hart defends the National Intelligence Estimate and castigates me for questioning its Pollyannaish conclusion. He compares those who are concerned about Iran with old-time cold warriors who are trying to fight “the Cold War all over again.” He went so far as to call my concern about Iran’s nuclear ambitions “not only hysterical but almost catatonic” (He must mean “paranoid” since catatonics manifest their illness by immobility and inaction.)

Well, now my concerns about Iran have been echoed by the British Parliaments’ Foreign Affairs Committee, and the Chief United Nations nuclear inspector.

Here is how the British Committee’s chairman put it, following a visit to Iran and based on the extensive evidence received by the group:

“There is a strong possibility that Iran could establish a “breakout” nuclear weapons capability by 2015.” A “breakout capability” is the ability to manufacture a nuclear device within a short period of time by virtue of its nonmilitary nuclear technical capabilities and assets.”

Precisely what I, and other critics of the National Intelligence Estimate have been saying! Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the President of Iran, seems to agree. Last Friday he boasted that Iran “will have the final victory in the nuclear arena.” This doesn’t sound he’s talking about a peaceful nuclear alternative energy source in his oil-soaked nation.

Last week the chief United Nations nuclear inspection provided new evidence, including video from Iran’s own military laboratories, showing work “not consistent with any application other than the development of a nuclear weapon.” The Iranian representative shouted out that the new evidence consisted of “baseless fabrications.” No one believed him.

No one except Gary Hart, who has a clear conflict of interest when it comes to the Iranian nuclear program. For years now, Hart has been a mouthpiece for the former Soviet Union, especially in the area of alternative energy. He is a founder of the United States-Russia investment fund. It is Russia which exports much of the material necessary for Iran’s nuclear program. If Iran were forced to end its nuclear program, Russia would suffer and so would Gary Hart.

Despite this obvious conflict of interest, which Hart failed to disclose, he has the temerity to accuse others of harboring hidden agendas. This is what he wrote:

“The real question is this: What is Professor Dershowitz's agenda here? Many bloggers automatically assumed is has to do with Israel. But Professor Dershowitz does not say so and, having known and respected him for many years, I presume if he is angry because the intelligence report undermines his broader purpose, he would have the courage to simply say so.

Until he does, one must shake one's head in sadness at a fine mind longing for the Cold War, or for a new villain to justify a wrong-headed empirial militancy in the Middle East, or who knows what.

Perhaps now is the time for everyone to put their cards on the table.”

Well my cards are on the table. Yes, I worry that an Iran with nuclear weapons, that it has already threatened to use against Israel, would become the first nation in the mid-East to use its nuclear arsenal, not only against Israel but against American interests. I worry that if Iran gets the bomb, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and other mid-East nations will feel it necessary to go nuclear as well. I worry that Iran may hand off nuclear material to its surrogates, including Hezbollah. I worry that the deeply flawed and misleading National Intelligence Agency will make a preemptive attack against Iran more, not less likely, because it will weaken the case for sanctions, as it already has, and embolden Iran to move even more quickly toward developing nuclear weapons. I strongly prefer diplomacy and sanctions to a preemptive military strike. That too is why I am so critical of the highly politicized and misleading National Intelligence Estimate. I am certainly not a cold warrior, that too is why I don’t want to see a nuclear Iran. A cold war with a nuclear Iran would be even more dangerous than the one we had with the Soviet Union, because of Iran’s suicidal and apocalyptic leadership.

So Gary Hart, my cards are on the table. Now let’s see yours!


Alan M. Dershowitz is a professor of law at Harvard. He is the author of many books, including, most recently, “The Case Against Israel’s Enemies.”


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