Update: Slouching toward Tehran


Further evidence that Armageddon may not be postponed by the latest National Intelligence Estimate on Iran comes from my own sidebar, a Time article by Mark Thompson, ironically, about how the NIE means there will not be a war with Iran:

The U.S. military contributes nine of the 16 intelligence agencies whose views are cobbled together in NIEs: the Counterintelligence Field Activity, the Air Force Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Agency, Army Intelligence, the Defense Intelligence Agency, the Marine Corps Intelligence Activity, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, the National Reconnaissance Office, the National Security Agency, and the Office of Naval Intelligence. Some critics have suggested that the military simply found a public way to quiet the drumbeat for war coming from Vice President Dick Cheney and his shrinking band of allies in the Administration.

There was no formal response from the Pentagon. It is evident, however, that the U.S. military, already strained by wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, has no appetite for a third war. That’s true even if a series of strikes against nuclear and other targets inside Iran were carried out by the Air Force and Navy, the two services who have sat, somewhat frustrated, on the sidelines as the Army and Marine Corps has done the heavy lifting in the two wars now underway. Some Pentagon officials welcomed the new NIE as evidence that the intelligence community is not tied to ideology, as some critics argued was true during the buildup to the Iraq war in 2003.

Still, Pentagon officials made it clear that this was not a political move by the brass — that the military’s lack of desire for another conflict and the conclusions of the new NIE are coincidental. They stress that the military focuses on “intentions, not capabilities” when assessing threats, and that the final unclassified portion of the NIE warns that the intelligence community believes “with high confidence that Iran has the scientific, technical and industrial capacity eventually to produce nuclear weapons if it decides to do so.”

Pretty lights over Tehran? Be the first to start an office pool on whether and when. I mean, it’s not like the administration will wait for a critical point in the election cycle and then call for missile strikes, but we’ve got a pretty good window to estimate.

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