The Art of Self Deception

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The news that Iran gave up its uranium enrichment program a number of years ago has raised many eyebrows and left many people wondering whom or what to believe. Why would a “peace loving country” need 3,000 gas centrifuges and a heavy water reactor? Why would it need a nuclear energy program when it sits on one of the biggest oil wells in the world? And what purpose is there to their long-range Shahab missiles if they don’t intend to put nuclear warheads on them?

As the war in Iraq has already proven, intelligence reports are often flawed and even deceptive. They don’t say what they mean and they don’t mean what they say, and any report must be taken with great skepticism – especially when the report itself conceded that it was possible that the new information they were relying upon was based on deception.

Accepting the NIE’s intelligence data, which is based in part on the psychological assessment of the mullah’s motives and objectives and little else, is reason for great concern. The report openly admits to only having moderate confidence in its findings and that there are significant gaps in intelligence. One wonders if there are any biases behind those who produced this report and if their intention was to pull the rug out from under Israel and prevent a pre-emptive strike.

This is not the first time we have been scammed by misinformation and one highly doubts the matter will end here. Let’s remember that American intelligence agencies were as blind as a bat and taken completely by surprise on September 11th and failed to take notice of Syria’s nuclear program which Israel has now put out of commission. The NIE was way off in 1962 during the Cuban Missile Crisis and has been off target before. It’s incredible how much intelligence is used in this world to prove a lot of nonsence.

“The American administration’s attitude toward Iran is similar to the way they treated intelligence reports during the Holocaust about trains taking hundreds of thousands of Jews to the slaughter at Auschwitz,” said Minister Yitzhak Cohen of Shas. “In the middle of the previous century, the Americans received intelligence reports from Auschwitz about the rail tracks that were full of trains carrying victims to the death camps. They claimed at the time that these were industrial trains. Their attitude to the information from Iran about Iran’s intention to produce a nuclear bomb is reminiscent of their attitude then,” Cohen explained.

“Something went wrong in the ‘software’ the Americans used to analyze the severity of the threat of a nuclear Iran. Let us hope the United States knows how to fix that,” the former Minister of public Security Avi Dichter said.

“Israel and other countries in the world that are worried about the Iranian threat must help the U.S. to fix this malfunction in every way possible. It can be fixed by means of intelligence. A mistaken conception by the world’s leading power is not just an internal American issue. It has to alarm Israel and many other countries,” said Dichter.

He added that misconceptions of this kind throw into doubt the U.S.’s good judgment as mediator in the diplomatic process between Israel and the Arabs of Judea, Samaria and Gaza. “A mistaken American conception could turn into bad judgment on the question of whether or not Israel has discharged its commitments for Phase I of the Road Map,” he warned. “This could have very serious repercussions for Israel.”

So hold on to your umbrella. The dark clouds and lightning storm may be back far sooner than we can imagine. The fantasy that Iran has retired and is no longer a threat to world peace is difficult to sell to any intelligent person. Getting the facts is only half the job; the other half is to use them intelligently. Facts mean nothing unless they are rightly understood, rightly related, and rightly interpreted. An intelligent person not only knows how to take advice but also when to reject it.

They say that Olmert’s reaction to the report was to wave his hands in the air. When asked why he was waving his hands in the air he explained that he was chasing away the elephants. When told that there were no elephants, he replied: “Nu, so you see that it works.”

With such a bright Prime Minister, our only hope is “Shomer pesoim Hashem” – Hashem protects the fools.