Updated: 5/16/2006; 3:36:50 PM.

Current events
Post-9-11 events and analyses

daily link  Wednesday, October 26, 2005

U.K. Poll: Iraqis Oppose Foreign Troops: "Four out of five Iraqis oppose the presence of U.S. and British troops in their country, and two out of five believe insurgent attacks on those troops are justified, according to a "secret" poll conducted by the British Ministry of Defense. The findings were reported in the Sunday Telegraph, a conservative newspaper that strongly supported the invasion of Iraq in 2003."  More details on opposition to coalition forces, and the implications for the "hearts and minds" campaign.  10:18:05 AM  permalink  

"Artists and Bureaucrats"   A paper from Pat Lang,  diagnosing the problems with US intelligence, principally the tendency for management to be risk averse and antagonistic towards the intelligence professionals, and the pressure from political leaders to support their predefined policies.  He also offers ideas from other countries.  "This problem exists across the world in every country where serious foreign policy and military issues must be considered and decisions on policy and strategy made on the basis of a systematic consideration of available data. .. In some places external “think tanks” are used to “test” the result of internal analysis. In others countries, reliance is placed on the competitive analysis of two or more intelligence agencies, often one military and the other civilian. In Israel, within the Directorate of Military Intelligence there exists something called the “Devil’s Advocate” [whose members] have the job of opposing the analysis accepted by the government and of preventing the acceptance of institutional “group think” as the basis for decisions. For the senior Israeli officers who serve in the “Devil’s Advocate” section it is understood that opposition to the judgments of the rest of the intelligence community will have a career price and that the officers who do this work should look forward to a fruitful life in retirement from the army soon after their service in this job. Nevertheless, they perform a vital; perhaps “priceless” is not too strong a word, service for their country. None of these devices seem altogether suitable for the United States as a “safeguard” against overwhelming pressure to bring their analysis into conformity with policy. The sheer scale of the institutions involved in American life dictate modification of the methods used in smaller governments. Some approach that combines the better features of these institutional “fixes” would probably be appropriate."

This reminds me of the moves toward growing a system of open source intelligence as a counter-balance to conventional secret intelligence.

  10:00:38 AM  permalink  

Next steps in Iraq: A few notes I wrote this morning.  Update: John Kerry released a speech he'll give tonight with the same points.  9:54:42 AM  permalink  

Zbigniew Brzezinski: A sorry foreign policy own goal:  "About 60 years ago Arnold Toynbee concluded, in his monumental Study of History, that the ultimate cause of imperial collapse was "suicidal statecraft". Sadly for President George W. Bush's place in history and, much more important, ominously for America's future, that adroit phrase increasingly seems applicable to the policies pursued by the US since the cataclysm of September 11. ..

[The Iraq] war, advocated by a narrow circle of decision-makers for motives still not fully exposed, propagated publicly by rhetoric reliant on false assertions, has turned out to be much more costly in blood and money than anticipated. .. In the Middle East it has stamped the US as the imperialistic successor to Britain and as a partner of Israel in the military repression of the Arabs.  Fair or not, that perception has become widespread throughout the world of Islam. .. It is a self-delusion for Americans to be told that the terrorists are motivated mainly by an abstract "hatred of freedom" and that their acts are a reflection of a profound cultural hostility. If that were so, Stockholm or Rio de Janeiro would be as much at risk as New York City. Yet, in addition to New Yorkers, the principal victims of serious terrorist attacks have been Australians in Bali, Spaniards in Madrid, Israelis in Tel Aviv, Egyptians in the Sinai and Britons in London. There is an obvious political thread connecting these events: the targets are America's allies and client states in its deepening military intervention in the Middle East. ..

America's ability to cope with nuclear nonproliferation has also suffered. The contrast between the attack on the militarily weak Iraq and America's forbearance of a nuclear-armed North Korea has strengthened the conviction of the Iranians that their security can only be enhanced by nuclear weapons...

In a very real sense, during the past four years the Bush team has dangerously undercut America's seemingly secure perch on top of the global totem pole by transforming a manageable, though serious, challenge largely of regional origin into an international debacle. Because the US is extraordinarily powerful and rich, it can afford, for a while longer, a policy articulated with rhetorical excess and pursued with historical blindness. ..  Flailing away with a stick at a hornets' nest while loudly proclaiming "I will stay the course" is an exercise in catastrophic leadership. ..

But it need not be so. A real course correction is still possible.. In a bipartisan setting, it would be easier not only to scale down the definition of success in Iraq but actually to get out, perhaps even as early as next year. And the sooner the US leaves, the sooner the Shias, Kurds and Sunnis will either reach a political arrangement on their own or some combination of them will forcibly prevail. "

  9:25:53 AM  permalink  

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Copyright 2006 © Ken Novak.
Last update: 5/16/2006; 3:36:50 PM.