The IAEA drools on, announcing (surprise!) that Iran hasn’t really complied with the tough demands of the Great Powers. Nobel Prize Winner al Baradei, at long last headed for retirement, proclaims that the investigation is at a “dead end.” The Great Powers sternly demand that Iran be nice. The mullahs give them the finger, announcing ten more enrichment facilities and warning they mightwalk away from the negotiations on which President Obama had based his “new policy.”
And now what?
It’s all very confusing, isn’t it? Since I don’t know a living person capable of parsing it all, I turned to the dead for enlightenment. For once, the ouija board worked well, and within a few minutes I was talking to my favorite spirit, the ghost of James Jesus Angleton, once upon a time the head of CIA counterintelligence.
JJA: It just shows you how easy deception can be, whatever the facts are.
ML: How can you know it’s a deception if you don’t know the facts?
JJA: That’s the beauty of it. And sometimes they are so good at trickery, you lose even when you win. Take the story of the Qom reactor, for example. As usual, it was a secret project. We found out about it. Then–and this is rather alarming–they found out that we knew, and were about to go public. So they preempted us, they announced it first, and then ‘invited us’ to go look…after several weeks. During which time they carted off the damning evidence. So what we’re left with is a dismantled facility, and a mystery: how did they know we knew? Did they penetrate us? Or an ally? Or the IAEA?
ML: Don’t we know by now?
JJA: You’d hope so, but I tend to doubt it. Our counterintelligence isn’t very good. The FBI seems more interested in Israeli lobbyists than US Army jihadists, after all…
ML: Now the Iranians say they are going to build ten more reactors.
JJA: Yes, and for all we know, they have already started them. Or some of them. Or maybe none. Haha, they tell so many lies it’s impossible to know when they actually make a true statement.
ML: It might be like the usual magician’s patter, don’t you think? You know, when he says “I will now make the rabbit disappear from my hat…”
JJA: Exactly. When he says that, the rabbit is long gone. So when the mullahs roll up their sleeves, wave their wand, and say “we will now make ten reactors magically appear from nowhere,” they probably have some already.
ML: So what’s the solution? What should Obama do?
JJA: First of all, stop acting as if he believed that his election has changed the world. The Iranians really don’t care about the American president’s name, or his “special gifts,” or his rhetorical talents. They want to destroy America.
ML: And then there’s the history. Every American president from Jimmy Carter to the present has tried to make a deal with Iran, and failed.
JJA: Indeed. That’s a logical corollary to the first point. Add to that, the last 8 years or so, with the French, Brits and Germans trying to broker some deal. Another failure.
ML: And so? Is war inevitable?
JJA: It’s not only inevitable, it’s on. It’s been on for thirty years. But no president has been willing to say so. Somebody needs to shift the focus from the nukes–where they have great opportunities to deceive us–to the war, where we already know a lot and could know a lot more if opponents of the regime saw we were fighting back.
JJA: Most Iranians, including officials at very high levels of the regime itself, would believe that we cannot be defeated once we decide to fight back. They would try to help us…some already have.
ML: Those defectors that the regime wants back so badly.
JJA: Right, and you can be sure that there are others, in Iran, who are giving information to the Israelis, the French, the Brits…
ML: And to us. I met some of them back in 2001 and got some very valuable information about Iranian activities in Afghanistan.
JJA: But as I recall, the policy makers didn’t want to hear about it. Even Tenet was angry.
ML: Yes, but he invented all kinds of nonsense about it in his book.
JJA: Well (the ouija board started to spark, and Angleton’s voice was breaking up) if you don’t want to know the truth…
And he was gone. I never got the chance to ask him how he thought we should fight back. Next time…