Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Intercepting Iran’s Take on America

By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN / New York Times

There are two intelligence analyses that are relevant to the balance of power between the U.S. and Iran — one is the latest U.S. assessment of Iran, which certainly gave a much more complex view of what is happening there. The other is the Iranian National Intelligence Estimate of America, which — my guess — would read something like this:

To: President Ahmadinejad

From: The Iranian Ministry of Intelligence

Subject: America

As you’ll recall, in the wake of 9/11, we were extremely concerned that the U.S. would develop a covert program to end its addiction to oil, which would be the greatest threat to Iranian national security. In fact, after Bush’s 2006 State of the Union, in which he decried America’s oil addiction, we had “high confidence” that a comprehensive U.S. clean energy policy would emerge. We were wrong.

Our fears that the U.S. was engaged in a covert “Manhattan Project” to achieve energy independence have been “assuaged.” America’s Manhattan Project turns out to be largely confined to the production of corn ethanol in Iowa, which, our analysts have confirmed from cellphone intercepts between lobbyists and Congressmen, is nothing more than a multibillion-dollar payoff to big Iowa farmers and agro-businesses.


Yes, our last I.N.I.E. in 1990 concluded that after the collapse of communism, America was on track to become the world’s sole superpower and most compelling role model for Muslim youth — including our own. We were wrong. We now have “high confidence” that America is on a path of self-destruction, for three reasons:

First, 9/11 has made America afraid and therefore stupid. The “war on terrorism” is now so deeply imbedded in America’s psyche that we think it is “highly likely” that America will continue to export more fear than hope and will continue to defend things like torture and Guantánamo Bay prison and to favor politicians like Mr. Giuliani, who alienates the rest of the world.

Second, at a time when America’s bridges, roads, airports and Internet bandwidth have fallen behind other industrial powers, including China, we believe that the U.S. opposition to higher taxes — and the fact that the primary campaigns have focused largely on gay marriage, flag-burning and whether the Christian Bible is the literal truth — means it is “highly unlikely” that America will arrest its decline.

Third, all the U.S. presidential candidates are distancing themselves from the core values that made America such a great power and so different from us — in particular America’s long commitment to free trade, open immigration and a reverence for scientific enquiry wherever it leads. Our intel analysts are baffled that the leading Democrat, Mrs. Clinton, no longer believes in globalization and the leading Republican, Mr. Huckabee, never believed in evolution.

U.S. politicians seem determined to appeal either to the most nativist extremes in their respective parties — or to tell voters that something Americans call “the tooth fairy” will make their energy, budget, educational and Social Security deficits painlessly disappear.

Read it all in the Times ...

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