NIE: Good News?

23:50 Tue 04 Dec 2007. Updated: 02:00 05 Dec 2007
[, ]

Another short post, I’m still not feeling great. My initial reaction to the recent NIE on Iran was that it was good news, because it made an attack on Iran less likely.

I still think that’s true, but Arthur Silber makes the point that it’s likely to be of only marginal importance. A key section:

The reaction from all quarters to the NIE relies on several interrelated central assumptions, ones that are regarded as so unquestionably true that no one thinks they need to be stated: that major policy decisions, including decisions of war and peace, are based on intelligence in the first place; that a decision to go to war is one made only after cool and careful rational deliberation; and that nations go to war for the reasons they announce to the world.


He’s absolutely right about that, of course. Although I don’t agree with the implication that decisions to go to war are made after irrational deliberation—the parties involved are rational, but their moral calculus is different from that of normal people.

Nevertheless, the refutation of that particular justification for an attack on Iran still qualifies as good news, even if it doesn’t definitively eliminate that possibility.

Leave a Reply