In his column in the NYT yesterday, Thomas Friedman made an interesting analogy. Analyzing the latest US National Intelligence Estimate on Iran, he simplifies it as thus:
…Now, Bush officials are trying to tell everyone: “No, no, Iran is still dangerous. You have to keep the coalition together to get Tehran to stop enriching uranium.” But in a world where everyone is looking for an excuse to do business with Iran, not to sanction it, we’ve lost leverage. Everyone in the neighborhood can smell it — and it worries them.
Said Gary Samore, director of studies at the Council on Foreign Relations and a former Clinton administration expert on proliferation: “The U.S. N.I.E., by leading with the statement that Iran has halted its nuclear weapons program, has left the misleading impression that the danger has passed."
The danger has not passed, because Iran is, in fact, still blatantly violating the UN proliferation rules to which it agreed and is still enriching uranium.
Friedman likens the situation to the state fair attractions of his youth, in which a guy would guess your weight within 5 pounds just by looking at you. If you managed to fool him, you went home with a stuffed animal. Similarly,
Out here on the Persian Gulf, where small countries learn quickly how to survive large predators, they’ve developed a similar skill: They can calculate a country’s power within 5 pounds, just by looking at it. If they’re wrong, they end up as a stuffed animal.
With the way the US N.I.E. framed their latest estimate, Friedman clearly believes it is Iran that will be left holding the stuffed animal.
I bet it's not a teddy bear named Mohammed.