Saturday, November 15, 2008

Bailouts, Handouts, and Screwing America.

When a majority of people are receiving a handout from their government, they will vote for the candidate that continues the gravy train. This constituency will continue to exist as parasites on their host country and will never rise above sustenance level. Of course sustenance level in the West means that you have a car, cable, a house, and enough food to become obese...

Americans who get the goodies don't want to notice the flaw because they're the comfortable with the American dream version of poverty. Those in the Democrat party rely on the humanity's innate laziness and recognize that exploiting that human trait makes people dependent on he who offers the most goodies. A dependent constituency will continue to vote in favor of the gravy train and that, in turn, gives job security to the powers-that-be!

Just for some perspective:

During the presidential election campaign many were dumbfounded upon hearing for the first time that at least a third of Americans pay no income taxes whatsoever. The Tax Foundation notes that in 2006, 45.6 million filers (33%) paid no income tax whatsoever. Under current law, in 2009 47 million filers--representing approximately 96 million individuals-- will pay no income tax.

The Foundation maintains that under Obama's tax plan 63 million filers-- representing 44% of all returns-- will pay no income tax. In contrast, in 1985, just 16.5% of filers paid no income tax.

It appears Obama wasn't kidding about redistributing the wealth, although he appears to be somewhat late to the game.

At the other end of the spectrum, IRS data show that in 2006 the top 10% of all filers ($109,000 and above in taxable income) paid 71% of all income taxes. The top 25% ($65,000 and above) paid 86% of all income taxes.


So, 44% of the population will not pay a dime and will actually get money back with Obama's plan...The top earners and virtually every small business will be taxed at 39% (from 36%) until 2010. In 2010, everybody's taxes will go up another 3% minimum, totaling 42% on every business or individual making more than $109k. With a tax rate like that, I think we can kiss a lot more jobs goodbye! Obama's tax break of $1000 for every job a company keeps in the US doesn't even come close to covering the minimum of $7500 increase on a company's existing tax obligation. Every smart business will relocate to a more tax friendly country.

That's bad, but worse comes when you start to realize the rest of the agenda being pushed by congress and Obama. The card-check legislation will be pushed through giving the unions the power to intimidate employees into voting them into existence in previously non-union shops. That will increase corporate costs exponentially and scare any new foreign investors and companies from coming to the US to do business. It will also be added incentive for existing companies operating the the US to move out ASAP.

Unions are a poison to business and kill a company's viability. For example, look at what the unions have done to Ford.

According to the latest calculations, the gap between Japanese and American carmakers' profits average out to about $2900 per vehicle, and the home team does not have the advantage.

A big reason is the cost of labor. As analyzed by Harbour-Felax, labor costs the Detroit Three substantially more per vehicle than it does the Japanese.

Health care is the biggest chunk. GM (Charts), for instance spends $1,635 per vehicle on health care for active and retired workers in the U.S. Toyota (Charts) pays nothing for retired workers - it has very few - and only $215 for active ones.

Other labor costs add to the bill. Contract issues like work rules, line relief and holiday pay amount to $630 per vehicle - costs that the Japanese don't have. And paying UAW members for not working when plants are shut costs another $350 per vehicle.

Here's one example of how knotty Detroit's labor problem can be:

If an assembly plant with 3,000 workers has no dealer orders, it has two options. One is to close the plant for a week and not build any cars. Then the company still has to give the idled workers 95 percent of their take-home pay plus all benefits for not working. So a one-week shutdown costs $7.7 million or $1,545 for each vehicle it didn't make.


Talk about a good gig! In addition to the paid vacation the company gives you when they have to shut down the plant, if you're ever laid off or have your position eliminated, you get to join the 'Job Bank.'

The Jobs Bank was set up by mutual agreement between U.S. automakers and the United Auto Workers union to protect workers from layoffs. Begun in the mid-1980s, the program is being tapped by thousands of workers. Many of those receiving checks do community service work or take courses. Others sit around, watching movies or doing crossword puzzles -- all while making $26 an hour or

The Big Three automakers agreed to the system to protect union workers from outsourcing and technology. But with Ford and General Motors losing money in North America -- and contract negotiations due in 2007 -- the future of the unique program is uncertain. [THANK GOD!]


Now, don't forget, congress is currently trying to use the $700 billion tax dollars (finance sector's bail-out cash) to bail these horrendously run companies out...Government sponsored corporate welfare.

Pelosi said any aid to the automakers would come with conditions. She didn't specify the level of assistance she supports, but said it should come from the $700 billion Congress authorized the Treasury to use to help stabilize the financial services industry. Pelosi said she is tapping House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank to write the legislation that may be considered as early as next week.


I can guarantee you that the 'conditions' will be to make cars that suck and nobody wants to buy. Further, I can guarantee you that if congress invests that much money into the automotive manufacturing industry, then you can bet they'll start taxing and regulating the foreign cars -cars manufactured in the US and making a profit like Toyota- and force them out of business. New legislation will artificially inflate the prices of cars Toyota makes and ultimately create thousands more jobless Americans as Toyota et al are forced to close down (more people added to the dole constituency).

The lack of availability and competition will force us to buy some piece of crap car; manufactured with sub-par labor, to government specification. Forget about buying a car that's built to the specifications in demand (SUV's: bye, bye). I'm sure CAFE standards will come into play and manufacturers will be forced to build light weight cars with more plastic and aluminum than steel and highway deaths will sky-rocket (gotta love unintended consequences of Democrat policies).

Then, we have Barney Freakin' Frank in charge of the legislation...the guy most responsible for preventing oversight into Freddie and Fannie is in charge of writing the legislation distributing billions of dollars to the automotive manufacturing industry. This is the same guy that was
screwing a male lobbyist working for Fannie Mae. So the ever-ethical Frank was on the House Banking Committee and screwing their lobbyist. I think that qualifies as a conflict of interest!!! Meanwhile, Fannie was giving him boatloads of cash for his campaigns and together, they were screwing America.

Meanwhile, the WoT goes on...What will Obama do?

Now that the US elections are over, Islamic Militants can get back to business as usual.

Bomb attacks kill 8, wound dozens across Iraq

Spate of Iraq attacks leaves 23 dead

These stories don't qualify as anything: 'Test' worthy; rather, they are more along the lines of 'wear on the will of the American People.' Stories like this (especially when US casualties are kept to a minimum and can be used in favor of the "leave 'em to their civil war" narrative) will serve to confirm Obama's policy of withdrawal -regardless of conditions on the ground. An Obama friendly media - "I want to do everything I can to make this thing work"; Chris Matthews- will cover for any atrocities that may be committed once the troops are pulled out. Sixty percent of the American population won't even know if a genocide ensues after we pull out. Of course, that makes it all the more disgusting to think of the 40% of the population who are informed and vote Democrat. They'll be aware -at least on a base level- of their complicity in any atrocities committed as a result of our pulling out before Iraq's fledgling government was deemed capable of handling the combined influence of Iran and Syria. They'll know just like they knew about the killing fields and the slaughter of the Vietnamese Boat People after Democrats forced a premature pull-out of Vietnam following a horrendously run war.

Now, for context, you should remember our President Elect's former adviser Rob Malley was forcibly retired from the campaign just prior to news releases regarding his meetings with Hamas. Malley's job was "to meet with all sorts of savory and unsavory people and report on what they say." He's never denied who he's met with; it's just what he does...

The more things change, the more they stay the same...Recently,
Hamas says they've met Obama advisors in Gaza:


smail Haniyeh's political advisor says Islamist group met with US president-elect's aides in Strip following online correspondence; 'they told us not to come out with any statements so as not to harm Obama's campaign,' Ahmad Yousuf says. "We were in contact with a number of Obama's aides through the Internet, and later met with some of them in Gaza, but they advised us not to come out with any statements, as they may have a negative effect on his election campaign and be used by Republican candidate John McCain (to attack Obama)," Yousuf said in an interview with London-based Arabic-language newspaper Al-Hayat, published Tuesday


Now, I like to remain critical of stories like this, and indeed, there is a report of a report I was able to find in WND's article: Hamas 'in crisis' after report of Obama-aide meetings
in a well-circulated but false report, the Xinhua-China news agency claimed Hamas released a statement yesterday denying it held any meetings with Obama advisers.
I couldn't find the original Xinhua-China news agency story...

Barack has a history of shady associations
Barack is tight with Khalidi -who served as a mouthpiece for Yassar Arafat.
Barack has reversed positions on Israel multiple times.
Barack tried to negotiate a delayed pull out of Iraq -despite his immediate pull out rhetoric to his base.

According to Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, Obama made his demand for delay a key theme of his discussions with Iraqi leaders in Baghdad in July.

"He asked why we were not prepared to delay an agreement until after the US elections and the formation of a new administration in Washington," Zebari said in an interview.


Obama may come out and tell us what he's going to do, but I don't think we can trust him...

Monday, November 10, 2008

NYT Releasing State Secrets...Again...

When it comes to undermining US national security for a story, nobody brokers secrets like the New York Times...

WASHINGTON — The United States military since 2004 has used broad, secret authority to carry out nearly a dozen previously undisclosed attacks against Al Qaeda and other militants in Syria, Pakistan and elsewhere, according to senior American officials.


To which I reply: GOOD!!!!! Followed up with: If the US hadn't been carrying out covert attacks against Al Qaeda, then our administration has been derelict in their duty to protect (preemptively) the US.

I haven't looked for the left's reaction to this story, but I'm sure I don't really need to...I'm quite certain there will be hand wringing, general condemnation, a reinvigorated impeachment movement, and a continued loathing for the methods and tactics necessary to fight terrorism that has kept us free from attack for seven years.

I can't wait until we hear Obama's response to this program and his spin...I can guarantee you that he's gritting his teeth -pissed- that this story even came out. I am 100% positive that he would have liked to continue this program and would have preferred for it to be kept on the Down Low...Now, he's going to have to find a scape-goat that can be properly crucified for his bases' consumption. My bet is on Gates once it becomes known that he agreed to the deal after taking over for Rumsfeld.

Mea Culpa, Mea Culpa

It has been a long time since I posted due to political disillusionment, burnout and a general dissatisfaction with the Republican candidate selected for us by the media and party elitists -who believe more in winning than standing on principle. It is very difficult to fight the ideological battles that I am compelled to fight when my 'Party Leader' has more in common with the opposition than with me.

It was a true struggle for me to pull the lever in McCain's favor -the lesser of two evils- but I did though I struggled mightily to do it. Palin's pragmatism and lack of political insider taint is what actually brought me over from write-in to pulling in favor of the McCain / Palin ticket. The funny thing is, the argument Liberals used in an attempt to harm McCain ('she's a heartbeat away from the presidency') was the greatest incentive for me to vote McCain!

When PA went blue, I predicted McCain would lose. It was bizarre, because I thought I should feel disappointed, or angry, or something...crazily, I felt relieved. I was relieved he didn't win and I don't have to feel guilty for anything he might have done -as president- in my name. I was relieved because I didn't want responsibility for the legalization of 10-20 million illegal immigrants. I was relieved that the devastation of our economy through Cap & Trade legislation would not be realized by a Republican president. I was relieved that the march to socialism would not continue under a Republican leadership. I am discouraged and afraid of our future under Obama and his leftist, rubber-stamp congress; but I have hope that the kernel of conservatism will live on and, with reform, it can still have a home in the Republican party.

Our nation has diverged from the principles laid down by our founding fathers. Despite their prescience and understanding of human nature codified and put down in the Constitution, we have managed to weasel around their safeguards and are quickly approaching a society that is an anathema to their original plan. We are well on our way to serfdom and if the majority of Americans don't wake up to the realities of collectivist ideology and and where it inevitably leads, we will find ourselves slaves to the state.

I'm going to make a sincere effort to post more often and will attempt to put into words all of that which has led to my own disillusionment. I'm making this commitment in the hopes that we, as a nation, can forestall or prevent the bleak future that I foresee. I'm going to do this as an outlet for me to vent my angst, form and understand my philosophy (and how it relates to conservatism in general), and to regain and share hope in our nation's resilience in the face of a massive and concerted effort to resign our freedom in favor of a perceived security.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Googlebombing Obama: First Wave [shamelessly stolen from RWN]

* Guess whose mentor is a Communist? Obama, that's who!

* Why isn't Obama patriotic enough to hold his hand over his heart for the Star Spangled banner?

* What has Obama got against flag pins?

* Obama wants to give away 845 billion dollars of your money to ungrateful Third World countries.

* Who loves to hang around with terrorists? Obama, that's who!

* Do people even know why they're voting for Obama?

* Che Guevara and Obama.

* Texas state Senator Kirk Watson can't name a single thing Obama has ever achieved.

* Obama wants to waste 850 billion dollars of your money.

* Here are 8 things you need to know about Obama and Rezko.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

My Fellow Americans...

Anger brings out my fatalistic side...


The party has spoken and conservative ideals along with capitalism are finally about to be slain! This cruel and vicious system promoting a meritocracy will finally die in favor of a more sensitive system -needs testing America.

Illegal immigrants, come join the party. You deserve the fruits of American prosperity as it was created with your hard work and at the expense of your home countries. You are welcome to come work in the American Breadbasket to bring the world food. We have roads that must be built, children needing care, ditches to be dug and lawns in need of trimming. Come work in our gardens and receive free education, health care, and social services. Your honorable work shall be the backbone of our new America. Your needs at the forefront of our mind as the epitome of a working class immigrant scratching out a living with nothing more than the strength of your body and the pureness of your spirit.

Entrepreneurs and small business owners, you need to close up shop and join with the nationalized version of your enterprise. The unfair atmosphere of competition you have engendered in this country is now at an end. It's time for you to give up your windfall profits to those in need. You can replace that profit with a sense of patriotism and relish the good will of your fellow man as you help to pick up those less fortunate or less ambitious, or less able, or less industrious, or less motivated, or less intelligent, or less driven, or less talented basically less rich than you...

Middle Class workers, if you curry favor and toe the new line, you can move up in society and pick the fruits of high society. We're going to raise your taxes, but we'll be providing you with so many more services. You should think of it as helping out the poor with every extra dollar you give. You will be required to stay with your job and your company will be required to keep you...you'll never have to worry about being unemployed again! Unless, of course, work has become too stressful and is deemed hazardous to your overall mental health. In that case, you'll still be able to receive the care that is your right...

America is a rich nation and we shall use that wealth to cure all the ailments capitalism has created and will strive to level the playing field here at home and abroad. Together, we will solve poverty, feed the hungry and cure the sick. No child will ever be without equal medical coverage.

No person will be forced to live with the crippling effects of old age. Euthanasia sites will immediately be opened in conjunction with drive through abortion clinics so no elderly or children need to live without love or in suffering. Mandatory euthanasia will be implemented for all terminal disease to ease the burden of suffering and to free up medical resources for those with greater need and the ability to be rehabilitated.

Thank you my fellow Americans for finally seeing the evils of capitalism and the damage it and free market economics have caused. America will be a beacon to the world showering all with her beatific light and benevolent spirit. Together, we shall make and treat all as equals regardless of the size of one's bank account.

-Madam Presidente Hillary Clinton
and the Unifier: Co-Presidente John McCain.
-excerpted from the letter of John to the Clintonians

Monday, December 10, 2007

Iran 'hoodwinked' CIA over nuclear plans?

I know I'm obsessed, but liberals usually settle for rewriting history which will hurt future generations, but can be corrected. In the case of the NIE, I believe Left leaning policy makers and the willing press cabal are attempting to rewrite the present and are putting us in grave danger by underestimating Iran.

From the linked article:

British spy chiefs have grave doubts that Iran has mothballed its nuclear weapons programme, as a US intelligence report claimed last week, and believe the CIA has been hoodwinked by Teheran.

The timing of the CIA report has also provoked fury in the British Government, where officials believe it has undermined efforts to impose tough new sanctions on Iran and made an Israeli attack on its nuclear facilities more likely.


I would be crushed to see Israel launch an attack on Iran...crushed I tell ya!

More:
The security services in London want concrete evidence to allay concerns that the Islamic state has fed disinformation to the CIA.


good luck with that...conventional wisdom suggests that the CIA buried and destroyed all evidence contrary to their current conclusions...

Cot'd:
The report used new evidence - including human sources, wireless intercepts and evidence from an Iranian defector - to conclude that Teheran suspended the bomb-making side of its nuclear programme in 2003. But British intelligence is concerned that US spy chiefs were so determined to avoid giving President Bush a reason to go to war - as their reports on Saddam Hussein's weapons programmes did in Iraq - that they got it wrong this time.


Huh. Ya think?

UPDATE

Here is another perspective on the NIE report:

Iran may have resumed
nuclear arms program

"Intelligence Brief: NIE Report on Iran's Nuclear Weapons Program"

Huh...This doesn't sound anything like the spin you hear on the news when they're talking about the NIE...

09 December 2007


he latest U.S. National Intelligence Estimate, released on December 3, confirmed PINR's analyses from 2003 that Iran was likely seeking to acquire nuclear weapons. As PINR stated in 2003, Iran's interest in acquiring nuclear weapons lies in its goal of becoming the dominant state in the Middle East. By gaining a nuclear capability, Iran would have more leverage when dealing with rival countries, such as the United States, Israel and, previously, Iraq. Nuclear weapons would help to solidify regime survival in Tehran, and prevent outside states, such as Israel, from responding effectively to Iranian encroachment in the region.

The NIE, however, also provided information that somewhat contrasted with PINR's 2003 analyses. PINR assessed that the U.S. interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan would hasten Iran's attempts to acquire nuclear weapons, since Tehran would consider itself at an increased threat of a U.S. attack and would want to demonstrate itself as a nuclear power to ward off U.S. attempts at "regime change," one of the Bush administration's policies at the time.

Instead, if the intelligence of the NIE is correct, it demonstrates that Iran halted its program in 2003, likely because it perceived a U.S. attack highly probable and did not want to provide Washington with evidence of a nuclear weapon gambit. Furthermore, in 2003 and early 2004, the situation in Iraq was still relatively stable, and Tehran probably perceived a U.S. attack on its nuclear facilities or government a possibility.

Despite these developments, it is clear that Iran has not shelved its goal of acquiring nuclear weapons. In fact, Tehran may be waiting for an outcome in the Iraq and Afghanistan interventions before deciding on whether to continue its weapons program.

In fact, as PINR stated in October 2003 after Iran responded to international pressure and suspended its uranium enrichment program temporarily, suspending its weapons program does not mean that the country will be unable to acquire nuclear weapons; instead, it allows it to continue upon a nuclear research program, ostensibly for civilian purposes, and at a certain point in the future "could quickly weaponize its nuclear energy program and become a nuclear-armed state." In similar language, the NIE found that "Iranian entities are continuing to develop a range of technical capabilities that could be applied to producing nuclear weapons, if a decision is made to do so."

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Ahmadinejad declares victory in nuclear dispute

Update

John Bolton has an op-ed in the Washington Post that's very insightful.

Coulda toldja this would happen!




Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad greets his supporters in Ilam province in western Iran


(Mehdi Ghasemi/AP)

President Ahmadinejad was in celebratory mood in Ilam
Nico Hines, Tom Baldwin in Washington and Sheera Claire Frenkel in Jerusalem

President Ahmadinejad declared victory over Washington today after a US intelligence report concluded that the Iranian regime had halted its nuclear weapons programme four years ago.

The White House insisted that the report would not alter the international community’s policy on Iranian nuclear ambitions, but Moscow was quick to point out that there was never any proof Iran was trying to create nuclear weapons.

Mr Ahmadinejad responded to the publication of the report by holding a triumphant rally in Ilam, western Iran, where he addressed the US directly.

“Today, the Iranian nation is victorious but you are empty-handed,” he said.
Related Links

* Iran is still a nuclear threat, says defiant Bush

* Relax? Don't. Iran can still build a bomb

* Neighbours still fear Tehran threat

“If you want to start a new political game, the united Iranian nation will resist you and will not retreat one step from its programme . . . We will continue our nuclear programme and we will not give it up.”

The National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) released on Monday appears to have removed the casus belli for an American airstrike against Iran. But President Bush yesterday refused to rule out the prospect of military action and insisted that Iran remained a genuine threat to world peace

In a White House press conference, where he was bombarded with questions about the implications for his own credibility, Mr Bush declared he had seen nothing to change either his own mind or Washington's policy on Iran's nuclear ambitions.

“Iran was dangerous, Iran is dangerous and Iran will be dangerous if they have the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon,” he said.

At his last press conference on October 17 Mr Bush said that anyone “interested in avoiding World War III” should back his efforts to prevent Iran developing a nuclear weapon.

Yesterday, he struck a defiant note, claiming that this week's National Intelligence Estimate should be regarded as a vindication of - and a reason to continue taking - a tough stance towards Tehran.

“I view this report as a warning signal that they had the programme, they halted the programme,” said the President. “The reason why it's a warning signal is they could restart it.”

He has record low approval ratings and increasingly appears a marginalised figure in US politics with his name being mentioned only twice in a two hour Republican presidential debate last week.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

STRATFOR BRIEFING

I'll be writing about and excerpting this very soon...

The NIE Report: Solving a Geopolitical Problem with Iran
By George Friedman


The United States released a new National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Dec. 3. It said, "We judge with high confidence that in the fall of 2003, Tehran halted its nuclear weapons program." It went on to say, "Tehran's decision to halt its nuclear weapons program suggests it is less determined to develop nuclear weapons than we have been judging since 2005." It further said, "Our assessment that Iran halted the program in 2003 primarily in response to international pressure indicates Tehran's decisions are guided by a cost-benefit approach rather than a rush to a weapon irrespective of the political, economic and military costs."

With this announcement, the dynamics of the Middle Eastern region, Iraq and U.S.-Iranian relations shift dramatically. For one thing, the probability of a unilateral strike against Iranian nuclear targets is gone. Since there is no Iranian nuclear weapons program, there is no rationale for a strike. Moreover, if Iran is not engaged in weapons production, then a broader air campaign designed to destabilize the Iranian regime has no foundation either.

The NIE release represents a transformation of U.S. policy toward Iran. The Bush administration made Iran's nuclear weapons program the main reason for its attempt to create an international coalition against Iran, on the premise that a nuclear-armed Iran was unacceptable. If there is no Iranian nuclear program, then what is the rationale for the coalition? Moreover, what is the logic of resisting Iran's efforts in Iraq, rather than cooperating?

In looking at the report, a number of obvious questions come up. First, how did the intelligence community reach the wrong conclusion in the spring of 2005, when it last released an NIE on Iran, and what changed by 2007? Also, why did the United States reach the wrong conclusions on Iran three years after its program was halted? There are two possible answers. One is intelligence failure and the other is political redefinition. Both must be explored.

Let's begin with intelligence failure. Intelligence is not an easy task. Knowing what is going on inside of a building is harder than it might seem. Regardless of all the technical capabilities -- from imagery in all spectra to sensing radiation leakage at a distance -- huge uncertainties always remain. Failing to get a positive reading does not mean the facility is not up and running. It might just have been obscured, or the technical means to discover it are insufficient. The default setting in technical intelligence is that, while things can be ruled in, they cannot simply be ruled out by lack of evidence.

You need to go into the building. Indeed, you need to go into many buildings, look around, see what is happening and report back. Getting into highly secure buildings may be easy in the movies. It is not easy in real life. Getting someone into the building who knows what he is seeing is even harder. Getting him out alive to report back, and then repeating the process in other buildings, is even harder. It can be done -- though not easily or repeatedly.

Recruiting someone who works in the building is an option, but at the end of the day you have to rely on his word as to what he saw. That too, is a risk. He might well be a double agent who is inventing information to make money, or he could just be wrong. There is an endless number of ways that recruiting on-site sources can lead you to the wrong conclusion.

Source-based intelligence would appear to be the only way to go. Obviously, it is better to glean information from someone who knows what is going on, rather than to guess. But the problem with source-based intelligence is that, when all is said and done, you can still be just as confused -- or more confused -- than you were at the beginning. You could wind up with a mass of intelligence that can be read either way. It is altogether possible to have so many sources, human and technical, that you have no idea what the truth is. That is when an intelligence organization is most subject to political pressure. When the intelligence could go either way, politics can tilt the system. We do not know what caused the NIE to change its analysis. It could be the result of new, definitive intelligence, or existing intelligence could have been reread from a new political standpoint.

Consider the politics. The assumption was that Iran wanted to develop nuclear weapons -- though its motivations for wanting to do so were never clear to us. First, the Iranians had to assume that, well before they had an operational system, the United States or Israel would destroy it. In other words, it would be a huge effort for little profit. Second, assume that it developed one or two weapons and attacked Israel, for example. Israel might well have been destroyed, but Iran would probably be devastated by an Israeli or U.S. counterstrike. What would be the point?

For Iran to be developing nuclear weapons, it would have to have been prepared to take extraordinary risks. A madman theory, centered around the behavior of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, was essential. But as the NIE points out, Iran was "guided by a cost-benefit approach." In simple terms, the Iranians weren't nuts. That is why they didn't build a nuclear program.

That is not to say Iran did not benefit from having the world believe it was building nuclear weapons. The United States is obsessed with nuclear weapons in the hands of states it regards as irrational. By appearing to be irrational and developing nuclear weapons, the Iranians created a valuable asset to use in negotiating with the Americans. The notion of a nuclear weapon in Iranian hands appeared so threatening that the United States might well negotiate away other things -- particularly in Iraq -- in exchange for a halt of the program. Or so the Iranians hoped. Therefore, while they halted development on their weapons program, they were not eager to let the Americans relax. They swung back and forth between asserting their right to operate the program and denying they had one. Moreover, they pushed hard for a civilian power program, which theoretically worried the world less. It drove the Americans up a wall -- precisely where the Iranians wanted them.

As we have argued, the central issue for Iran is not nuclear weapons. It is the future of Iraq. The Iran-Iraq war of 1980-1988 was the defining moment in modern Iranian history. It not only devastated Iran, but also weakened the revolution internally. Above all, Tehran never wants to face another Iraqi regime that has the means and motivation to wage war against Iran. That means the Iranians cannot tolerate a Sunni-dominated government that is heavily armed and backed by the United States. Nor, for that matter, does Tehran completely trust Iraq's fractured Shiite bloc with Iran's national security. Iran wants to play a critical role in defining the nature, policies and capabilities of the Iraqi regime.

The recent U.S. successes in Iraq, however limited and transitory they might be, may have caused the Iranians to rethink their view on dealing with the Americans on Iraq. The Americans, regardless of progress, cannot easily suppress all of the Shiite militias. The Iranians cannot impose a regime on Iraq, though they can destabilize the process. A successful outcome requires a degree of cooperation -- and recent indications suggest that Iran is prepared to provide that cooperation.

That puts the United States in an incredibly difficult position. On the one hand, it needs Iran for the endgame in Iraq. On the other, negotiating with Iran while it is developing nuclear weapons runs counter to fundamental U.S. policies and the coalition it was trying to construct. As long as Iran was building nuclear weapons, working with Iran on Iraq was impossible.

The NIE solves a geopolitical problem for the United States. Washington cannot impose a unilateral settlement on Iraq, nor can it sustain forever the level of military commitment it has made to Iraq. There are other fires starting to burn around the world. At the same time, Washington cannot work with Tehran while it is building nuclear weapons. Hence, the NIE: While Iran does have a nuclear power program, it is not building nuclear weapons.

Perhaps there was a spectacular and definitive intelligence breakthrough that demonstrated categorically that the prior assessments were wrong. Proving a negative is tough, and getting a definitive piece of intelligence is hard. Certainly, no matter how definitive the latest intelligence might have been, a lot of people want Iran to be building a nuclear weapon, so the debate over the meaning of this intelligence would have roared throughout the intelligence community and the White House. Keeping such debate this quiet and orderly is not Washington's style.

Perhaps the Iranians are ready to deal, and so decided to open up their facility for the Americans to see. Still, regardless of what the Iranians opened up, some would have argued that the United States was given a tour only of what the Iranians wanted them to see. There is a mention in the report that any Iranian program would be covert rather than overt, and that might reflect such concerns. However, all serious nuclear programs are always covert until they succeed. Nothing is more vulnerable than an incomplete nuclear program.

We are struck by the suddenness of the NIE report. Explosive new intelligence would have been more hotly contested. We suspect two things. First, the intelligence on the Iranian nuclear program consisted of a great number of pieces, many of which were inherently ambiguous and could be interpreted in multiple ways. Second, the weight of evidence for there being an Iranian nuclear program was shaded by the political proclivities of the administration, which saw the threat of a U.S. strike as intimidating Iran, and the weapons program discussion as justifying it. Third, the change in political requirements on both sides made a new assessment useful. This last has certainly been the case in all things Middle Eastern these past few days on issues ranging from the Palestinians to Syria to U.S. forces in Iraq -- so why should this issue be any different?

If this thesis is correct, then we should start seeing some movement on Iraq between the United States and Iran. Certainly the major blocker from the U.S. side has been removed and the success of U.S. policies of late should motivate the Iranians. In any case, the entire framework for U.S.-Iranian relations would appear to have shifted, and with it the structure of geopolitical relations throughout the region.

Intelligence is rarely as important as when it is proven wrong.