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Note to Rice, ‘Bombingham’ Isn’t Iraq

Posted by Tony Listi on April 6, 2008

Rice, like Bush, is not a true and pure conservative.,_bombingham_isnt_iraq

By Diana West
Thursday, April 3, 2008

I wonder if Condoleezza Rice was surprised by the headlines over her comment to The Washington Times that America suffers from a national “birth defect” — namely, the practice of slavery at the time of the nation’s founding.

Make that the first founding. She said she considers the civil rights movement to be the nation’s “second founding.” The secretary of state made another point. She said “one of the primary things” that attracted her to the candidacy of George W. Bush “was not actually foreign policy.” Rather, she explained, “it was No Child Left Behind.” She continued: “When he talks about `the soft bigotry of low expectations,’ I know what that feels like.”

Rice has actually said all of this before, including more emphatic remarks on No Child Left Behind and “soft” bigotry. “I’ve seen it. Okay?” Rice said in 2005 to The New York Times. “And it’s not in this president. It is, however, pretty deeply ingrained in our system and we’re going to have to do something about it.” Rice offered as an example her own high school teacher who suggested she was junior college material.

Maybe someone should inform the secretary of state that being underestimated, turned down or shunted aside is, alas, part of the human experience, not the exclusive function of race. But it’s probably too late for that. As secretary of state — not, say, secretary of education — Rice has long been doing “something about it” on the world stage. Instead of different states and school systems, she’s been working with different countries and belief systems. Suddenly, things about the Rice Doctrine — better, the No Country Left Behind Doctrine — begin to fall into place.

I’ve written before about how Rice makes faulty comparisons between the evolution of democratic principle (all men are created equal) in the United States and the introduction of democratic procedure (ballot boxes) to the Middle East, always ignoring both the miracle of our 18th-century Constitution, which contained the blueprint for abolition, and the dispiriting reality of 21st century Islamic constitutions, which charter Sharia states where freedom of conscience (among other things) doesn’t exist. I’ve written also about how she sees the transformation of her once-segregated hometown of Birmingham, Ala., as the blueprint for democratizing the Islamic world. Hers is a worldview personal to the point of autobiographical, as when she explains how, as a daughter of Birmingham (or “Bombingham,” as she has called it), she can relate both to Israeli fear of Palestinian bombs, and Palestinian “humiliation and powerlessness” over Israeli checkpoints, which she sees as a form of segregation. What she never seems to realize is that such “segregation,” far being the sort of prejudice she remembers, is actually an Israeli line of defense against the ultimate prejudice of Palestinian bombs.

Considering her remarks about America’s “birth defect” — an egregious term for any secretary of state to use about a nation that has brought more liberty to more races, colors and creeds than any in history — I am struck anew how deeply Rice’s vision of race in America, or, perhaps, in segregated Birmingham, affects her vision of America in the wider world. It is as if Rice sees American influence as a means by which to address what she perceives as disparities of race or Third World heritage on the international level.

This would help explain her ahistorical habit of linking the civil rights movement to the Bush administration’s effort to bring democracy to Iraq and Afghanistan. Indeed, in a 2003 speech to the National Association of Black Journalists, she argued that blacks, more than others, should “reject” the “condescending” argument that some are not “ready” for freedom. “That view was wrong in 1963 in Birmingham and it’s wrong in 2003 in Baghdad,” she said. In 2006, she made a similar point. “When I look around the world and I hear people say, `Well, you know, they’re just not ready for democracy,’ it really does resonate,” Rice told CBS’s Katie Couric. “It makes me so angry because I think there are those echoes of what people once thought about black Americans.”

There’s something shockingly provincial at work here. In seeing so much of the world through an American prism of race, Rice has effectively blinded herself to historical and cultural and religious differences between Islam and the West. To put it simply, neither Baghdad nor Gaza is Birmingham. And nothing in all of history quite compares to Philadelphia.

Diana West is a contributing columnist for and author of the new book, The Death of the Grown-up: How America’s Arrested Development Is Bringing Down Western Civilization.

Posted in American History, Government and Politics, Intellectual History, Iraq War, Israel and the Middle East, Political Philosophy, Race, Racism, and Affirmative Action, The Constitution | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Iran, Nukes, and the 2007 NIE

Posted by Tony Listi on December 5, 2007

The Key Question about the NIE’s Key Judgment

By Herbert E. Meyer
December 5, 2007 

In the Intelligence business, you get paid for just one thing: to be right.
So here’s the key question about the Key Judgment of the National Intelligence Council’s new National Intelligence Estimate on Iran’s nuclear intentions and capabilities: Is this judgment supported by the evidence?
The judgment that’s stirring up all the controversy — and it’s a real shocker — comes in the very first sentence: We judge with high confidence that in fall 2003, Tehran halted its nuclear weapons program. The judgment is astonishing for two reasons. First, it flies in the face of virtually everything we know – or thought we knew — about the Iranian regime, its capabilities and its intentions. Second, If the new Key Judgment is correct it means that Iran had halted its nuclear weapons program fully two years before publication of the National Intelligence Council’s 2005 Estimate on this same subject, which concluded “with high confidence” that Iran “currently is determined to develop nuclear weapons.”
Let’s hope that the new Key Judgment is correct, because it would be very good news for world peace — although it would raise the troubling question of how our Intelligence Community could have been so wrong back in 2005. But if the new Key Judgment is incorrect — in other words, if Iran in fact is now building nuclear weapons — the political impact of its publication will be catastrophic. That’s because it will make it virtually impossible for President Bush to stop the Iranians by launching a military attack on their nuclear facilities or by working covertly to overthrow the regime itself. And, of course, it would raise even more troubling questions about the capabilities of our Intelligence Community.
Skepticism is Warranted
Simply put, we need to know for sure whether the new Key Judgment is right or wrong. And, given the long list of failures and reversals that has plagued our Intelligence Community during the last decade, it’s reasonable to be skeptical.
To understand what to do next, keep in mind that all NIEs consist of two parts: the “Key Judgments” and the text itself. It’s the text that includes, or should include, the evidence that our intelligence agencies have gathered relevant to the issue at hand. Obviously, you complete the text before writing the Key Judgments, which emerge from the text itself. And because the Key Judgments are just that – judgments – it sometimes happens that the leaders of our various intelligence agencies will agree on the evidence but disagree about the meaning of the evidence. That’s why there are often dissenting opinions within the Key Judgments.
What was released on Monday is only the Key Judgments. The text itself hasn’t been released — and won’t be, because the text presumably contains highly classified data relating to what we’ve learned about Iran’s nuclear programs from all sources including, of course, our spies and satellites.
But the text is available to leading members of Congress, including members of both the House and Senate intelligence oversight committees. Today — right now, this instant — every one of these individuals should get hold of a copy of the NIE and read it. More precisely, they should cancel whatever appointments and public events are on their calendars, turn off their cell phones, then sit quietly with a pen in hand and work their way, slowly and carefully, through the text of the NIE. And when they’ve done that, each Representative or Senator should step forward to report – without giving details – whether the Key Judgment about Iran’s nuclear weapons program is, or isn’t, supported by the evidence.
Has Congress got the Brains?
Alas, given today’s partisan political atmosphere — and, even more distressing, the limited intellectual abilities of the people we elect — this may not be sufficient to provide the confidence we need. If ever there was a time for a fast-track Presidential commission – this is it. Why not ask a half-dozen or so of the sharpest minds in our country to read through this NIE and to tell us – again, without providing details — whether the Key Judgment is supported by evidence within the NIE’s text. Not all members of this commission need be intelligence experts – or Iran experts, for that matter. In fact, it would be better if most aren’t. The two qualities required are intellectual firepower and credibility. We ought to be able to find six such souls among the nearly 300 million of us. And the whole thing shouldn’t take more than a week’s time, if that.
It is no exaggeration to say that Iran holds the key to whether or not the world is facing a nuclear war. Surely, it’s worth an extra effort to be confident that this time, our Intelligence Community has got it right.

Herbert E. Meyer served during the Reagan Administration as Special Assistant to the Director of Central Intelligence and Vice Chairman of the National Intelligence Council. In these positions, he managed production of the U.S. National Intelligence Estimates. He is author of How to Analyze Information.

Posted in Government and Politics, Israel and the Middle East, The War on Terror | Tagged: , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Israel Struck a Nuclear Project in Syria, Analysts Say

Posted by Tony Listi on October 14, 2007

Published: October 14, 2007

WASHINGTON, Oct. 13 — Israel’s air attack on Syria last month was directed against a site that Israeli and American intelligence analysts judged was a partly constructed nuclear reactor, apparently modeled on one North Korea has used to create its stockpile of nuclear weapons fuel, according to American and foreign officials with access to the intelligence reports.

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Posted in Government and Politics, Israel and the Middle East | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Israel Strikes Syrian Nuclear Material from Korea?

Posted by Tony Listi on October 2, 2007


Israel on Tuesday began to lift its strict veil of secrecy on an air strike in Syria last month, allowing the media to report on the raid without attributing such reports to foreign sources.

An F-16I fighter jet on the runway.
Photo: IDF

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Posted in Government and Politics, Israel and the Middle East | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »