Friday, July 01, 2005

"Intelligence" is rarely intelligent

A commenter to a previous post mentioned that once he was originally supportive of the war in Iraq but after reading that the "intelligence" to support the existence of WMDs could have been wrong he changed his mind.....let me respond.

"Intelligence" is rarely intelligent. It is regrettable that two successive administrations apparently (inasmuch as the complete truth really does await translations of the Iraqi archives, a complete inquiry of former Baathists, and assurances from Syria) have had no accurate idea of the extent, or lack thereof, of the Iraqi WMD arsenal. But incomplete or faulty intelligence — both hysterical overreactions or laxity and naiveté — is not rare when nations go to war.
We were fooled by Japan in 1941 and had no idea that its enormous fleet was a few hundred miles off Hawaii. The Soviet absorption of Eastern Europe caught utopians off guard in 1945-6. Everyone underestimated Mao's resilience ("Who lost China?"). MacArthur's "infiltrators" across the Yalu River turned out to be several Chinese armies. We know only now that the Soviets cheated on several major arms agreements — and had WMD arsenals far beyond what was disclosed. Its nuclear accidents and WMD catastrophes are still clouded in mysteries. Remember the Missile Gap of the 1960 election that helped to elect John Kennedy? Yet Cuba, we now learn, had more ready nukes than even Curtis LeMay imagined. The British surely had no warning about the Falklands invasion. An American ambassador gave the wrong message to Saddam Hussein in summer 1990, precisely because the CIA had no clue that Saddam Hussein was gearing up to invade Kuwait. Libya and Iran were further along with their nuclear programs than the CIA dared to imagine. Ditto North Korea. Who knew that Pakistan has been running a nuclear clearinghouse? The point is not to excuse faulty intelligence, but rather to understand that knowing exactly what the enemy is up to is difficult and yet almost never acknowledged to be so.

The threat of WMDs may have been the centerpiece of the administration's arguments to go to war, but for most of us, there were plenty of other — and far more important reasons — for prompt action now.
Let us for the nth time recite them:
Saddam had broken the 1991 armistice agreements and after September 11 it was no longer tolerable to allow Middle East dictators to continue as rogue states and virtual belligerents.

Two-thirds of Iraqi airspace were de facto controlled by the United States — ultimately an unsustainable commitment requiring over a decade of daily vigilance, billions of dollars, and hundreds of thousands of sorties to prevent further genocide.

He had defied U.N. resolutions; and he had expelled inspectors, demanding either enforcement or appeasement and subsequent humiliation of the international community.

It really was an intolerable situation that in perpetuity thousands of Kurds and Shiites were doomed on any given week that American and British planes might have been grounded.

Saddam had a history of war against Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Iran, and the United States, destroyed the ecology of the Mesopotamian wetlands, gassed his own people, and relented in his massacres only to the degree that the United States monitored him constantly.

Well, in addition, in northern Iraq al Qaedists were battling the Kurds. Old-line terrorists like Abu Abbas and Abu Nidal were at home in Baghdad. Husseinite bounties subsidized suicide-murdering in Israel.
A number of accounts had cited relationships between al Qaeda and Baathist intelligence. Iraq, in fact, was already at a critical mass. Faced with a brutal unending U.N. embargo and the loss of its airspace, it was descending into a badland like Afghanistan. The amorality is not that we took him out, but that after 1991 we waited about 100,000 corpses too long.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

You make great points and I see you won't be budged from your position. Its funny, that we spend so much of our time debating this, yet, we (everyone) knows we won't make a difference by doing so. And, on this topic of Iraq, to not change the other's opinion. But to defend our beliefs (or our den mother reasons for debating) and to argue to the point we hope it will fire up the other person to argue back. If not for the terrible day of 9/11 and the invasion of Iraq, I would never have visited this site, or chosen really to ever spend so much time debating any subject.
I'll just make it short and say I guess we have to agree to disagree.

10:46 AM  
Blogger djobe said...

Well, either way I appreciate you expressing an interest...

Any comments on Kelo? How about Sandra Day O'Connor's retirement and the impending judicial nomination explosion?

I will continue to try and make the ideolocial argument for the "invasion of Iraq," as well as the occasional stray reference to "buttered toast cats" and other pressing issues. Sorry for the total lack of baseball, but I am completely ignorant of the subject.
I will be playing fantasy football in the fall so I am sure I will speak of that---and poker.

1:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

my thoughts on the subject are that he expelled the inspectors to keep them from showing that he had nothing, which would have given other countries in the region no reason to respect him.
As far as the attrocities he committed in the past, we should have dealt with them then, and not 14 years after the fact.
Taking Saddam out when we did was too little, too late, and has, as a result, put our troops in danger.
When I say too little, too late, let me explain that. We didn't have the forces, in president G.H.W. Bush's opinion, to deal with the Iraqi military in 1991, so we didn't totally invade (or that's what I have been led to believe). When we did have the forces (the new invasion of Iraq), the force wasn't (and still isn't) large enough to ensure safety for our troops. If we had used our forces 14 years ago in a more effective manner, then we would probably not be dealing with this right now. Hindsight is 20/20.

I will also state, for your knowledge, that while I favored the war in Afghanistan, I was never for the war in Iraq. It might be because I don't believe that we should stretch our troops between 2 battlefronts (look at how doing so ended Germany's power in the 1940's, and understand that that is a military comparison, not an ideological one). It might also be because I didn't believe that Iraq had the resources to build WMD (because they had been sanctioned for so long). A third, and more likely possibility, is that I believe that we, as a nation, should have a department of defense, not a department of OFFENSE. If we are truely to be the moral guiding light to the rest of the world, which I believe we should be, then we shouldn't abuse our ability to defend ourselves by encroaching on other countries solemn dignities to exist peacefully in the international spectrum. All countries are different, and their cultures that define them are different. The way that Saddam twisted his culture was morally wrong. There is no denying that. However, we could have stopped that almost 15 years ago, had we had the balls to do so.
And so, politics become politics again.


11:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Everything I learned in Business Law seems to go against what the Kelo case ruled. I'm not up on it much, so I can't really express a view, except that one. As far as the supreme court goes, I feel most people don't understand the power Bush has right now and the possible ramifications it will have on current abortion laws and others, over the course of most of our lives. Same ole stuff there. I hope he makes the right decisions.

If you're looking for topics to discuss, 2 I'd suggest and would offer comments on, are Tort Reform and Social Security privatization. Get after it...:)

11:05 PM  

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