One of our best journalists, Michael Gordon of the New York Times, poses a question that I’ve been asked repeatedly over the past few days: why did the government decide–AT THIS TIME–to go public with the information about the Iranian activities in Iraq?
It’s a popular question, and Gordon gets some sensible answers from our military spokesmen in Iraq: the casualty level was rising, and we weren’t getting anywhere with the Iranians despite numerous diplomatic demarches (keep that in mind when the likes of Jim Baker and Lee Hamilton whine that we should talk to Syrians and Iranians. We do, but we don’t get no satisfaction).
Moreover, Gordon got an additional tidbit: the decision had been hotly debated within the administration.
…the decision by American military officials to put forward the evidence in a full-scale briefing was not an easy call, according to Maj. Gen. William B. Caldwell IV, the American military spokesman in Iraq. One concern was that discussing the weapon would let adversaries know how effective it is.
This is intel-communityspeak, and like most of that dialect, it’s nonsense. As if the mullahs didn’t know they were killing more and more of us with their shaped charges! And I doubt it was the real reason. It’s more likely that the opposition was based on the IC’s compulsive desire to avoid conflict with Iran, a moral infection that has afflicted Intel officers for decades.
The question “why NOW?” is generally misleading, since much of the time government decisions and actions happen when they do because that’s when the bureaucracy finally spewed forth a decision or approved an action. But if you’re looking for an answer to the question, I’ve got another one for you. The Europeans have confessed to failure in the negotiations with the mullahs over the nuclear project. And they now say that sooner or later Iran will have atomic bombs.
So they’re not entitled to devote their energies to restraining Bush. And he’s moving a bit. Not much, but it’s certainly a better. If only he’d move faster. Please.