Just to note that, in his weekly column for the National Post of Canada Wednesday, David Frum appears to agree with Bill Kristol that the NIE has made a U.S. attack on Iran before the end of Bush’s term highly unlikely. “The NIE,” he writes, “is a foundational political fact that will make it politically impossible for the Bush administration to launch a strike at Iran’s nuclear facilities.” He insists that the administration has actually “never had any real intention of striking (those) facilities,” but that ”The new intelligence estimates makes it politically impossible to do something that was not going to happen anyway.”
Frum, as the co-author with Richard Perle of An End to Evil, has been a superhawk and, with Perle, has long maintained that the CIA (and the State Department), in particular, has deliberately tried to undermine the Bush Doctrine, a charge he repeats in his latest article. But, as he points out: “An NIE is not a CIA product. An NIE represents the consensus view of the 16 U.S. national intelligence agencies… It would be very unwise and irresponsible to mark the NIE down as the work of disgruntled internal political opponents in the bureaucracy.” This is a far more serious position than that put out by some of Frum’s colleagues, like Danielle Pletka or Frank Gaffney, who have depicted the NIE as a sinister conspiracy against the White House.
But Frum is explicit about rejecting Bob Kagan’s suggestion that Washington now engage Iran in unconditional negotiations, arguing, “A ‘grand bargain’ is the dead end to avoid.” Instead, he goes back to the “regime-change” strategy of the Committee on the Present Danger (CPD) and is counting on a combination of falling oil prices (due to the reduced danger of war in the Gulf), a poorly managed economy, enhanced economic sanctions, and “communications operations” (now to be led at the State Department by his AEI colleague, James Glassman); and discontent with the mullahs to achieve the desired end.