Pity the conservative thinker and reader haunted by the specter of a nuclear Iran. How would you feel if you got halfway through your day and someone punched a big hole in your already tenuous grasp on reality?
Vice President Cheney tried so hard to play his role of Big Daddy within the Big Daddy Party and protect the kids from facts that they were too young to deal with. But the intelligence community won, and finally we have professionals telling us what some of us knew: Iran's nuclear weapons program has long been more of a virtual threat, a diplomatic tool to keep its head above water in a complicated diplomatic ocean.
But don't worry, surrogates for the genius of our unitary vice president are already coming to the rescue. Check out some of the things they're saying.
The main line of response against the news from the U.S. intelligence community that Iran's nuclear weapon program is not fearful boils down to one word: Iraq. We overestimated on Iraq, therefore, we're probably underestimating on Iran. Check out Gabriel Schoenfeld at Commentary:
...the latest NIE is not a rock-solid judgment, and as we have already seen in a number of other dramatic instances, even the intelligence community's rock-solid judgments might not be solid at all.
To further the idea that consistency is the hobgoblin of the little minds, another junior blogger echoes this principle:
From overestimating the threat, we're going in the polar opposite direction, and being wrong in underestimating the situation is just as dangerous - if not more so.
But it won't stop there. I guarantee you. Look at this conclusion taken from the NIE itself about why Iran stopped pursuing its nuclear weapon program:
Our assessment that the program probably was halted primarily in response to international pressure suggests Iran may be more vulnerable to influence on the issue than we judged previously.
In no time at all, watch for wags on the right to declare that Iran's decision to drop its nuclear program in late 2003 is proof that we should have invaded Iraq. By implementing the Bush Doctrine, and demonstrating that the U.S. will take military action against proliferating boogeymen, they'll say we made Iran back down. Except that we didn't really know it until now.
Bottom line: It's time to let the adults take over on foreign policy again, and not the gawky teenagers who never stopped being pissed off about the hippies marching on their college campuses.
For half a decade now, Iran has been standing outside the room, waiting to make a deal with us. Iran is enriching uranium...yeah, so is Germany, and Japan is separating plutonium. We'd rather take aggressive diplomatic measures to put Iran in that category than to force them to feel like India, Pakistan, and Israel did in their decisions to arm themselves with nuclear weapons.
Four words, President Bush: Let's make a deal.