YOU SEE, THEY'RE ON A LOOP.

With regard to the sputtering rage with which many neocons have greeted the NIE's determination that a nuclear apocalypse is very likely not imminent, Eric Alterman and and George Zornick point out that this kind of thing has happened before, and before, and before. Conservatives massaging intelligence to achieve their policy objectives, and attacking the intelligence community when it does not produce work that conforms to those objectives, has been a common occurrence over the last several decades. (This is what actual conspiracy-mongering looks like, folks.)

Related, in this morning's Christian Science Monitor, Ray Takeyh and Vali Nasr describe how the NIE could actually undercut support for Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and other hardliners in Iran:

The silver lining of the report may well be the weakening of Mr. Ahmadinejad and his politics of defiance. The president might celebrate the report's findings as a victory for Iran, but he can not take credit for it. Nor will it in all likelihood favor him in his ongoing tug-of-war with political rivals. It is not Ahmadinejad's hard-line rhetoric and uncompromising posture in negotiations that are to credit for the change in Iran's fortunes. Rather, they come from a decision to halt the nuclear weapons program that Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei blessed in 2003, when reformists were in charge.

With war no longer imminent, the supreme leader may see less value in Ahmadinejad's confrontational politics. And he, not the president, has the last word in foreign policy matters. [...]

At first glance, the NIE appears to have undermined the Bush administration's hard-line approach toward Iran. But the irony is that Washington now has the ability to further undermine Ahmadinejad while regulating Iran's nuclear program through diplomacy and dialogue. Suddenly, Washington may be facing a Tehran that is unyielding on its nuclear prerogatives but is also more pragmatic.

So why are the neocons acting like someone canceled their birthday party?

--Matthew Duss

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