Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The Nominations Are Up

The nominations are now posted for the Watcher's Counsel. Not surprisingly, many of Council and Non-Council posts this week deal with the NIE on Iran, each looking at the issues presented by that document from a different perspective. All make interesting reading.

If you would like to take submit a post for consideration by the Council, please visit the Watcher and take advantage of his offer of link whorage.

The Council Nominees for this week are:

1. Wolf Howling - A Deeply Flawed NIE Changes Nothing and Everything
This is my tome on the issues rasised and the damage done by this NIE.

2. The Glittering Eye - What the NIE on Iran's Nuclear Development Weapons Doesn't Say
This is a very good post that argues that the NIE, by omission as much as by what is stated therein, still leads to the conclusion that Iran has, can and may attempt to build a nuclear arsenal. As such, the justification for imposing sanctions remains strong. I concur, though I think that the key countries that must come on board for significant sanctions are the EU nations, and within that group, Germany. I do not think we will ever get the type of effective sanctions we need out of the Security Council. My fear is that Germany's Angela Merkel, whose country has stubbornly resisted forgoing its significant trade with Iran to impose meaningful sanctions, will not have the power to force a sanctions regime through after the release of our NIE. I truly hope that I am wrong.

3. The Colossus of Rhody - U.S. "Stingy" On Foreign Aid
There are lies, there are damned lies, and there are statistics provided by Kofi Anon that Time Magazine reports at face value. I am not sure how long it took Rhody to pull apart this bit of anti-U.S. propaganda, but it is an excellent piece of work on his part, not to mention quite entertaining.

4. Done With Mirrors - How Kennedy Said It
DWM finds Mitt Romney's speech on religion to be pandering and, in comparison to JFK's similar speech, more than a bit wanting as respects a presidential hopeful. To be honest, Romney's religion means nothing to me, nor do I care for him as a candidate wholly irrespective of his religion, so I tuned out his speech. None the less, DWM's analysis is quite thoughtful and interesting. And after reading Kennedy's speech, I concur with DWM's conclusion.

5. The Education Wonks - Babies Having Babies: Now a Generational Problem
This is a particularly troubling tale of teen pregnancies with no responsible father being repeated along the lines of the linear family tree. I agree, our urban culture is a mess. I would be interested to know whether TEW feels that there is anything to be done that might break the viscious cycle.

6. Soccer Dad - Making NIE
Soccer Dad lifts the NIE's knickers to look at the "new information" that led to this NIE's surprising conclusion. It is a very good post, but it raises a troubling issue that I did not see before. The concerns of Israel and the U.S. with Iran are, for all practical purposes, coextensive. Why was this NIE released without any coordination or exchange of foreign intelligence? Information is the liguna franca of the intelligence business. I find it absolutely mystifying that our intel agencies would not be exchanging information on Iran's nuclear capabilities with Israel - or Britain, for that matter, who were equally caught unawares by this NIE. I understand we might want to hide sources, but this points to a truly systemic problem in our national intelligence cycle.

7. Bookworm Room - Explaining American Jews' Love for Israel and America
This is a fascinating philosophical post about an issue that, to me, is simple to answer. BW asks how a person can be a "loyal American" and support Israel. Some very distinguished guests at a speech she attended answered from their perspective as Jewish Americans. Do read this one and visit BW's site to leave your own answer.

8. Joshuapundit - Pearl Harbor... And 9/11
This is an exceptional post comparing and contrasting the America of December 8, 1941 and its response to attack by an existential threat with the America of 9-11 and our own, less effective response to a similar threat.

9. Rhymes With Right - Another Sign: Islam Is a Human Rights Violation
RWR is inflamed by the story of a young British Muslim woman who chose to convert to Christianity. Her family, led by her father, a Deobandi cleric, is trying to hunt her down and kill her for being an apostate. RWR makes a similar point to one I constantly make, that this violence is systemic to the orthodox interpretations of Salafi / Deobandi Islam and Khomeinist Shiaism. I would not go so far as to label the entirety of Islam a human rights violation. But having said that, Islam needs to go through its period of Enlightenment, and non-Muslims should do all that we can to help those reformists who seek to do precisely that. Balanced against that grass roots effort is billions in Saudi petrodollars being spent at every level of society and government to prevent any evolution of their medieval version of Islam.

10. Right Wing Nuthouse - Release of Iran NIE a Remarkable Testament to American Exceptionalism Rick takes a nuanced position with which, in the spirit of Hillary Clinton, I choose to both agree and disagree. As a threshold matter, I believe Democracy can only function on full and complete information, and thus I fully concur with Rick's premise that we are always better off with more transparency in government. But I think that the release of this NIE shows only as much about the strength of our democracy as surviving a sucking chest wound shows an individual's strength. The fact that the NIE was released as is - with numerous inconsistencies, policy advocacy, and what appears a deliberate intent to minimize the threat posed by Iran - points to a glaring weakness in our democracy more pronounced than the strength of "American Exceptionalism." Or perhaps I am looking at the glass half empty and leaking fast on this one. I am not arguing in any way that our leadership should be afforded the right to twist intelligence. In fact, I still think LBJ should have been impeached over the Gulf of Tonkin incident. That said, when and how to release information such as this needs to be a considered judgment by our leadership, not a reaction to toxic partisan politics.

11. Big Lizards - Hoodwinkers and Their Codependents: In Search of Intelligent Intelligence on Iran Dafydd has more than a few very reasonable concerns about the credibility of the evidence underlying the NIE. It is an excellent post that takes the issue further to our overreliance on signals intelligence and insufficient reliance on HUMINT. Our problem in that regard is systemic. We are still suffering from the Church Commission almost 40 years ago that devestated our intelligence agencies and, in its wake, left us with an overlawyered, highly risk averse spy agency. Indeed, it has only gotten worse with time and, in this toxic political climate, it is not going to change without far stronger leadership than we have at this point. Which is one of the reasons, as I wrote above in describing Soccer Dad's post, that it is inexplicable why we are not pooling our intelligence resources on Iran with other friendly nations - i.e., Israel and Britain come to mind. There are no secrets. We have sent our fully classified NIE to Israel for their review. That such was not done before now is just a travesty.

12. Cheat Seeking Missles - Burying a Hate Crime
CSM is very troubled by the apparent bias in the media against Christians that he finds fully evident in the recent stories about the killer, Matthew Murray. This is a systemic problem with a largely secular and left leaning MSM that shows more than a bit of disdain for Christianity yet a respect for other religions. I for one am still waiting for the NYT to show the cartoon images of Mohammed following their publication of Piss-Christ. That or for their stock value to drop below a dollar a share. Actually, the latter would be preferable.

12 1/2. Cheat Seeking Missles - Our Crumbling Civilization: Penn State Edition
By sleight of e-mail, Cheat Seeking Missles gets a second nomination this week. Or at least he will get one here. This post is about two Penn State students who mocked the victims of the Va. State massacre. CSM questions the judgment and intelligence of these students, and opines that such idiocy can only find a home in academia.

The Non-Council nominees for the week are:

Men of Valor: Part IVMichael Yon

Iran NIE and a PredictionMiddle East Strategy at Harvard

2007: Now, With Fewer Menorah Vandalizations, But More

What Happens After the SurgePajamas Media

The Price of Pork RefusalCaptain's Quarters

Deadly Bombing in ParisSnapped Shot

William Katz: New National Intelligence EstimatePower Line

What Iran's "Victory" MeansShrinkWrapped

Exclusive IPT Investigation Uncovers HLF Jury Room BullyingThe Investigative Project on Terrorism

In Politics Values Matter, Not

The Key Question About the NIE's Key JudgmentAmerican Thinker

The Huckster's Foreign Policy: Live By The Golden RuleAce of Spades HQ

Repetition, Repetition, and RepetitionEternity Road

Ineffective and Pointless -- But Very CostlyKlein Verzet

(and a half nomination to:)NBC Reverses Position on Freedoms Watch AdWake Up America