Friday, March 21, 2008

Shorthanding

Read this:
President Bush said Thursday that Iran has declared that it wants to be a nuclear power with a weapon to "destroy people," including others in the Middle East, contradicting the judgments of a recent U.S. intelligence estimate.

Apologists claimed the that Bush had "shorthanded", I suppose because the it is a composite of two statements, one a lie and one a misinterpretation. The lie is that Iran has declared that it wishes to develop nuclear weapons. In fact, the Iranians have over and over said the opposite (our intelligence services happen to be of the opinion that they are telling the truth). The misinterpretation is of the comment that Ahmadinejad declared he the desire to wipe Israel "off the map".
Here's more from the article.
But most striking was Bush's accusation that Iran has openly declared its nuclear weapons intentions, even though a National Intelligence Estimate concluded in December that Iran had stopped its weapons program in 2003, a major reversal in the long-standing U.S. assessment.
...
Experts on Iran and nuclear proliferation said the president's statement was wrong. "That's as uninformed as [Sen. John] McCain's statement that Iran is training al-Qaeda. Iran has never said it wanted a nuclear weapon for any reason. It's just not true. It's a little troubling that the president and the leading Republican candidate are both so wrong about Iran," said Joseph Cirincione, president of Ploughshares Fund, a global security foundation.

Others said it is unclear whether the president believes what he said or was deliberately distorting Iran's position.

"The Iranian government is on the record across the board as saying it does not want a nuclear weapon. There's plenty of room for skepticism about these assertions. But it's troubling for the administration to indicate that Iran is explicitly embracing the program as a means of destroying another country," said Suzanne Maloney, an Iran specialist at the State Department until last year and now at the Brookings Institution's Saban Center.

Juan Cole has more on this here.
This is very much akin to McCain saying that Iran is training Al-Qaeda. Both involve deliberate distortions designed to demonize Iran, and ratchet-up tensions.
Few experts sill believe that there will be an attack on Iran (at least, not until McCain is president). What then is the meaning of this? Election year fear-mongering.

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