National Intelligence Director Blair had his first meeting with the Senate Armed Services Committee, where he was much more reasonable than most of the Senators. Both NID Blair and Defense Intelligence Agency head Lt. Gen. Michael Maples presented clear thinking and rational goals regarding Iran. The senators were the ones out for blood.
A welcome change from the last 8 years.
NID Blair said that many Arabic countries want to help prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. But the continuing conflict between Israel and Palestine makes it hard for them “to defend their ties to the US.”-
In other words, our one-sided approach to the Israel-Palestine conflict undermines our ability to reach peaceful solutions on other issues. The analysis is not new, but hearing the words from intelligence experts is.
The obvious followup is to ask if the US could use progress with Iran’s nuclear program as a means to opening Israel’s stance towards Palestine. Isn’t keeping nukes out of Iran worth peace with Palestinians?
It is an obvious question and opens a new line of thinking in our foreign policy. Yet in three hours of questioning, not one Senator asked.
The Senators were much more concerned about how much uranium Iran has. NID Blair said that Iran does not have any highly enriched uranium (bomb grade) and has not yet decided to produce any. Senator Wicker (R) Mississippi was not happy with this and spent his time having Blair and Maples repeat themselves. Iran does not have the material to make a bomb and is not trying to make it.
Senator McCain (R) Arizona was particularly whacky. After having his leading question shot down (doesn’t Iran missile programs mean they are developing nuclear weapons? No, those missiles have numerous, valid defensive applications), Senator McCain scolded NID Blair for not knowing the precise number and schedule drawdown of troops in Iraq.
NID Blair explained that is not his area of responsibility and he will provide his advice of security implications when the Pentagon asks him. But the Pentagon makes those decisions. Senator McCain blew right over that straight talk and continued his lecture. He has to know how the system works, so he was either grandstanding or lost.
Senator Lieberman (I) Connecticut questioned the thinking of NID Blair and heard that the Israeli-Palestine conflict fuels the way people think across the entire region, including Afghanistan and Pakistan.
These two intelligence professionals were handing the Senate a clear way to improve our standing in the Middle East. We need to help solve the Israel-Palestine conflicts and we can use Iranian Nuclear threat to do it.
How many of the Senators followed the lead? How many Senators were looking for new solutions to our challenges? How many Senators were fighting for change?