Without revealing its sources, those who compiled the NIE have to be taken on faith. Should we? Is their record one of such amazing accuracy, displaying such an uncanny understanding of, inter alios, Bin Laden, Saddam Hussein, and General Musharraf? Have the compilers of the NIE shown they comprehend the Ikhwan in Egypt, or why Libya “gave up” its nuclear project, or what Bashir in Khartoum plans to do to keep holding off any effective intervention in Darfur?
Do you have confidence that those in our intelligence services comprehend the meaning, and menace, of Islam, as fifty years ago Western intelligence services understood the meaning, and menace, of the Soviet state, and Soviet Communism? But in those days there was a better class of agent, one well-versed in Communism and in the history of the Soviet Union. He was aided by many refugees from the Soviet Union and Soviet-dominated Eastern Europe, as well as by former Communists in the West (see The God That Failed) and defectors from the Soviet security services, whether those services were called the Cheka, or the NKVD, or the KGB.
Do you have the impression that the American and other Western governments have been listening to, de-briefing, the equivalent today — that is, such defectors from the Army of Islam as Wafa Sultan? Why not find out what she thinks might be possible in Syria, with an Alawite-controlled army but a Sunni-controlled government? Have they been listening to Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Ibn Warraq and so many others? And these defectors are being joined every day by the intellectually and morally most advanced people — their numbers are few, but truth is on their side — who through no fault of their own, were born into Islam, and then made the slow mental journey, with a long stopover at the waystation called “Muslim-for-identification-purposes-only” Muslim, until they made it to the wide uplands of complete, and unapologetic, apostasy.
The fact that not only Israel, but many European governments, are now reported to have raised a skeptical eyebrow about the NIE report, that even the operation of Al-Baradei seems surprised, should make us hesitant about adding our voices too quickly to all those screaming with what they presume is delighted vindication, or vindicated delight. They assume we are all merely going to accept, without the slightest doubt or questioning or skepticism, this most unlikely, un-verisimilar news, the conclusions hedged in with qualifying words that seem not to have been noticed, or if noticed, to have been paid no heed.
The Bush Administration, however, has created the conditions where such things are accepted. Its lunatic policy, both naive and sentimental, of keeping American forces in Iraq once the regime had fallen and the entire country scoured for weapons of mass destruction — that is, by February 2004, the month after David Kay made his final report, and two months after Saddam Hussein had been captured — in order to bring “democracy” to “ordinary moms and dads in the Middle East,” has created those conditions. And that policy of the Bush Administration is based on willful ignorance of Islam and Jihad and Islamic supremacism, and fear of learning about, recognizing, and figuring out how best to deal with the meaning, and full menace, of Islam and Jihad and Islamic supremacism.
One wonders who continue to be the biggest boosters of the Iraq democracy project. Is it Condoleeza Rice, or others? If it is she, as a loyal supporter of the belief that “democracy” (defined in the most primitive, elementary-school manner as the mere head-counting that characterizes the “democracy” in Iraq), then she needs to realize, sooner rather than later, that the ideology of Islam can no longer be put off as an object of study. And that study will require training people in Islam, its world-view, its meaning and menace. They will not learn by continuing to deposit them into the jaws of the smiling crocodiles of Islamic apologetics — such as Esposito and his Saudi-funded operation, or Bechtold at the Foreign Policy Training Institute. That farcical reading list provided to General Vines, some months ago, on the recommendations of Esposito and Bechthold — Vines himself could be excused for not realizing what that list had been designed to conceal, and what to present — must not be repeated.
But in the present atmosphere of such incomprehension, there is no reason to credit the NIE report on Iran. It is true that one could know very little about Islam and find out the truth about Iranian plans. But if you are not versed in the duplicity that comes naturally in the world of Islam (Fouad Ajami keeps warning about that, even though he fails to connect that duplicitous world which Americans remain babes in the woods with Islam, taqiyya and kitman, Muhammad’s “war is deception” and his many examples of his acting on that motto), then you are much less likely to possess the right frame of mind for analysis of data, or even for assigning such dangerous adverbial phrases as “with a high degree of confidence” and “with a moderate degree of confidence.” I would put a “high degree of confidence” only in those analysts of Iran’s project who have a thorough understanding pf Islam, a learning that cannot come from relying on the small army of apologists abroad in the land, and not only of Islam, but of the particular chiliastic version, Hidden Imams and all, to which the finger-waving (that finger-waving means, in Iran, something very menacing indeed) Ahmadinejad devoutly subscribes.