Obama needs to learn the truth about Iran, and about the proposed missile defense system in Europe

Obama’s aanbod aan Rusland om geen anti-rakettensysteeem in oost Europa te plaatsen in ruil voor Rusland’s steun bij het beletten van Iran om nucleaire wapens te produceren, berust op valse grondslagen meent Scott Ritter – en ik ben het met hem eens.

..Russia has always, correctly, claimed that any missile defense system deployed in Eastern Europe can only be directed at Russia. While both the Bush and Obama administrations denied that was the case, Poland has all but admitted its concerns are not about missiles coming from Tehran, but rather missiles coming from Moscow. The American “sweetener” for a potential Polish loss of a missile shield is to offer Poland advanced Patriot surface-to-air missiles, whose intended target is clearly not a Persian missile which cannot reach Polish soil, but rather Russian missiles and aircraft which can.

There are three basic facts that the Obama administration needs to address, but as of yet has not: First, missile defense systems are inherently destabilizing and only contribute to the acquisition of offensive counters designed to defeat those defenses. Second, the rapid expansion of NATO in the past decade has in fact threatened Russia. And third, the Iranian missile “threat” to Europe has always been illusory.

The proposed U.S. missile defense shield in Eastern Europe has been a highly flawed concept from its very inception. Although it used unproven technology, it was sold as a means of protecting Europe from a threat that did not exist (Iranian missiles), while creating the conditions for exposing Europe to a real threat that the missile defense shield was incapable of defeating (Russian missiles). The fact that Obama would put the missile defense shield up for trade as part of a “Grand Bargain” with Russia on Iran only underscores how little value the system has to begin with. It is a big zero, both from a military and diplomacy perspective. Obama, in making it part of his bargain, was trying to give it value it lacked, and the Russians weren’t buying.

The Iranian situation is far too real, but not in terms of the dangers posed by anything Iran itself is doing. The United States has not helped matters by hyping the threat posed by nonexistent Iranian missiles targeting Europe and capable of carrying nonexistent nuclear warheads. Russia has expressed a desire to work with the United States to better control Iran’s program of uranium enrichment, which Iran and the nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), state has been clearly demonstrated as part of a peaceful nuclear energy program. For Russia to buy into Obama’s “deal,” it would have to buy into a threat from Iran’s missile and nuclear programs, a threat Russia does not believe to exist.

Obama would do well to call in his national security team and have it lay out the intelligence information used to assert the Iranian threat. There must be such a foundational document, since Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Michael Mullen and the president himself all have repeatedly referred to the “threat” posed by Iran’s “nuclear weapons” ambitions. It is important to distinguish between what we know and what we think we know. For instance, we know that Iran does not have any highly enriched uranium, the kind needed to produce a nuclear weapon. Just ask Adm. Dennis Blair, the director of national intelligence. This is what he told the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee this week in testimony on Iran. And yet many in the U.S. intelligence community continue to state unequivocally that Iran is on the verge of possessing a nuclear weapon.

Obama should take each assertion put forward about Iran’s nuclear ambition and then reverse-engineer the underlying factual basis for making that assertion. If he did so, he would quickly find that he and his advisers know less about Iran than they think they do. The entire U.S. case against Iran is built on supposition and speculation. If the president disassembled the speculative assertions, he would find them cobbled together from an ideologically motivated methodology designed more to justify a policy of containing and undermining Iran’s theocracy than understanding its nuclear ambitions…

Secretary of State Clinton impressed many when she spoke of the need for America to embrace “smart power.” The implication of her words was that the United States, under President Obama, would use all the tools available, especially diplomacy, in seeking to solve the myriad problems it faces around the world in the post-Bush era, including the problem of Iran. But one cannot begin to solve a problem unless one first accurately defines the problem, for without that definition the “solution” would in fact solve nothing. Any solution to the problem of Iran must be derived from an accurate intelligence picture of what is transpiring inside the country today, one drawn more from fact than ideologically based fiction. Obama is advised to challenge the totality of the current U.S. intelligence used to define Iran as a threat, and purge once and for all the corrupting ideological “Team B” holdovers who still reside within the structure of the American intelligence community. Intelligence is never about hearing what you want to hear, but rather about learning what you need to know.

Obama needs to learn the truth about Iran, and about the proposed missile defense system in Europe…

Barack Obama, Meet Team B (Scott Ritter in Truthdig)

UN nuclear watchdog: Israel’s ‘perceived double-standard’ hurts NPT (Haaretz/Reuters)

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