Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Kagan's cautious change of heart

By Libby

I'm inclined to ask, after reading this op-ed, "Who is this guy and what did they do with the real Robert Kagan?" It's a far cry from the bellicose pro-belligerence rhetoric we've come to expect from the professional warmongers.

Regardless of what one thinks about the National Intelligence Estimate's conclusion that Iran stopped its nuclear weapons program in 2003 -- and there is much to question in the report -- its practical effects are indisputable. The Bush administration cannot take military action against Iran during its remaining time in office, or credibly threaten to do so, unless it is in response to an extremely provocative Iranian action. A military strike against suspected Iranian nuclear facilities was always fraught with risk. For the Bush administration, that option is gone.
I'd agree with Ezra that this "seems worthy of celebration." The operative word being "seems."

Maybe I'm just too suspicious after seven years of false propaganda and fear-based manipulations, but I'm a bit wary to take this apparent new turn toward realistic thinking at face value. I'm a trifle concerned by the caveat, "unless it is in response to an extremely provocative Iranian action" in light of the news that our DefSec is in Iraq.
MOSUL, Iraq - Defense Secretary Robert Gates will use his latest unannounced trip to Iraq to assess whether the downturn in violence in parts of the country can be sustained, and whether Iran is working to quell the shipment of arms into Iraq, officials said Wednesday as the Pentagon chief made his sixth visit to the country.

Senior Defense officials said the jury is still out on both fronts, and the Pentagon is being cautious not to declare victory yet in either case. [...]

They emphasized that critical questions remain — including how seriously to take indications of a decline in the amount of Iranian weapons coming into Iraq. The officials said it has yet to be proven, through either intelligence or other assessments, that a significant portion of the reduction in violence is due to any deliberate policy by the Iranian government.
Kagan gives the administration some excellent advice in his op-ed but it's not clear to me that they intend to take it and neither do I have great confidence that Kagan would maintain his position should the White House decide not to do so. I think we've been here before.