I suspect that the American people suspect that the N.I.E. report on Iran's plans for itself as a nuclear power is false.

There are at least two reasons for this.

The first is that, left and right, we just don't believe the Bush administration on virtually anything and everything.  I can't remember when an administration was so reflexive about lying.

The second reason is that we have seen Ahmadinejad up close.  He is an aggressive psychopath, and--whatever the N.I.E. says--his designs are as clear as day.  Actually, like Hitler's.  But the so-called informed people in those years also thought that he would come around...that he had actually already come around.

This is not a sufficient analysis of the report which, however, has clearly not convinced England, France, Germany, and, match this, Saudi Arabia.

And it hasn't persuaded one of the shrewdest British journalistic analysts of foreign policy I read.  Gideon Rachman has an article in Tuesday's FT headlined "The myth of a grand bargain with Tehran."  And he is true realist, although--for my taste--he's a bit sentimental about the Palestinians.  Still...

One of Rachman's points is that the quickie American turn-around on Iran's atomic ambitions "will probably be a boon to hardliners in Tehran."  Iran has faced down the world.

Another is that "Most of the evidence suggests that the determination to get a nuclear bomb is a national project in Iran--uniting different political factions...The nuclear programme has become a symbol of national machismo--and is also widely regarded as a strategic necessity, given that Iran is surrounded by hostile powers."

If Bush believes his advisers this time he is really endangering the nation and the world.  Imagine confronting Iran when it has atomic bombs.  In retrospect, Iraq will have been a picnic.


PS: A'jad told a news conference today that Iran will have 50,000 nuclear centrifuges in five years.