September 9, 2006, Connect the dots (run-up to Iraq war edition)
Just a brief snippet on the topic at hand, two of them actually.
The first comes from Kevin Drum (via the hot-hot-hot Bruce the Veep) and concerns a recent interview with General Scheid in the run up to the Iraq war when military logistics planner were trying to organize a "phase 4" (i.e. post war occupation) and Defense Secretary Rumsfeld threatened to fire any military officer who even suggested the need for post-war planning. Kevin (who supported the war, IIRC) now concludes that the subsequent occupation was little more than a cover to "democratize Iraq" after plan A (find the WMDs) didn't pan out. Well, the lack of planning for the occupation was so glaringly obvious, that one thought it had to be intentional; the evidence is getting clearer, of course, that it was just that. Further, the evidence is that the entire pretense of the war was domestic politics: planning for an occupation was felt to be politically untenable.
The old saying is that "amateurs think strategy; professionals think logistics." Needless to say, the civilians in charge of our military were, and are, the rankest (in every sense of the word) of amateurs.
Which moves us right along to our second item, this WaPo article which discusses the release by the Senate Intelligence Committee of two of five portions of a key pre-Iraq war intelligence report that it voted to declassify, which confirm that not only did Saddam not have ties to Al Qaeda (or Al Qaeda brand name user Al-Zarqawi) but he rebuffed efforts at such ties by AQ and tried to capture Zarqawi himself! Also, of course, the report notes the heavy reliance on Iraqi defectors (via Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress) who misled US intelligence on WMDs, and it notes how vigorously American intelligence services were trying to point out the lack of such connections to AQ or WMDs... which were, again, inconsistent with the Administration's domestic political needs.
At the moment, these would seem to be the facts (these and the North Waziristan deal, which means that unless OBL and the gang hand themselves in to us, we can safely write off even the remove possibility of their capture, as Pakistan has formally agreed to pull its military out of the area). On the facts, the very, very last thing the Bush Administration should be talking about is its handling of the war on terror. On the facts, we now know that (1) our "ally" Pakistan has made an internal decision not to capture the ringleaders of 9-11 who, we have been told, were directly responsible for the 9-11 attacks, and (2) those same ringleaders now operate under tribal protection in Southwestern Pakistan where they might well continue to plan terrorist strikes and (3) their Taliban allies are certainly engaged in a guerrilla war to reconquer Afghanistan; (4) Saddam had no WMDs, (5) Saddam had no AQ connections (and probably would have been delighted to help us against AQ, if we asked, ditto Iran), (6) we have thousands dead and hundreds of billions of dollars spent on a seemingly endless engagement in Iraq, where our options are to stay and continue bleeding while the situation escalates to all out sectarian civil war, or leave and watch the Middle East be further destabilized with a probable huge increase in oil prices and further economic power to (7) Iran, which like North Korea, has realized the importance of developing really nasty weapons as a deterrent to George W. Bush ordered American wars of "regime change".
We won't talk about domestic responses to, say, hurricanes, port security, or... stuff like that.
We'll just observe that conventional wisdom is that national security is Bush and the Republicans' strength. Only in America folks, is the backstory so strong that seemingly no set of facts will shake people from believing what they wanted to believe going in. If you want more tax cuts and reductions in environmental, worker safety and other business regulation, then by all means, it is perfectly rational to vote for the Republicans. But to do so because they are better on national security?
The Democrats might, in actuality, not be very good on it (though it was Democratic Presidents who won two World Wars, and held up our end during the Cold War, while both parties' Presidents had their troubles in Vietnam)... I don't really know. But to call the performance of George W. Bush in the last five years a strength...? That is just so belied by the facts that it defies all reason at this point. But then, Bush won't be appealing to reason... this round, will be played on raw emotion, images and subliminal messages... we are already well under way with a full pageant of AQ tapes, 9-11 imagery (including a prime-time propaganda spectacle), with politically driven orange alerts just weeks, if not days, away...
And in the end, the GOP is still counting on low voter turnout this year, by maximizing the sentiment of cynicism. And still, if that party is reelected to majorities in the houses of Congress again, despite the overall climate of cyncism, it will still surely be another triumph of hope over experience.
These are the foreign policy, security experts. Nobody is going to get told "You're fired."
Posted by The Heretik at September 9, 2006 7:00 PM
Facts! Always with the facts! How do you sleep at night, spouting off all of these facts? Go ahead, appease the enemy with these facts! Surely you can't expect the American voting public to consider facts?
Posted by Mixter at September 10, 2006 7:50 PM
Kevin Drum, IIRC, backed out of supporting the war as it became clear the Niger docs were forgeries. Marshall changed his mind around then, too, basically concluding this war now was going to be a snafu with costs outweighing gains. Both a little late -- but sooner than me, I'm afraid. Here is a link to my intransigent point of view back then (Mar 9, 2003) on their changes of heart. I wasn't a jerk about it, at least, but I was wrong. (Despite everything, I thought there were WMD, and I thought that was worth a war about.)
Posted by Thomas Nephew at September 16, 2006 11:59 PM