Intelligence and Richard Pipes

Power Line's current paean to Daniel and Richard Pipes includes this:

Many of those who "marginalized" Richard Pipes for his anti-Communism are still around. It would be nice to think that a few of them, at least, learned a lesson from the collapse of the Russian Empire and the downfall of socialism generally.

The funny part is that it is Pipes that should have learned something from the collapse of the USSR. Team B, which Power Line mentions, was established in 1976 to second-guess the CIA, because hardliners like Pipes thought that the CIA was underestimating the threat posed by the Soviet Union. As it was intended to, Team B concluded that the USSR was far more threatening than the CIA thought. With hindsight, we can now see that even the CIA was overestimating the threat, as they themselves concluded in a report in 1989. The collapse of the USSR underscores the weakness that Pipes didn't see.

This same sort of ideological second-guessing of our intelligence professionals is continuing today. Read about it in this article at the Center for Defense Information. Feith did a similar thing with his Office of Special Plans which corrupted our intelligence on Iraq, and it may be that Porter Goss is bringing this ideological corruption of intelligence into the CIA itself.


Friedman on Iraq

I don't much care for the writing of Thomas Friedman. I'm supposed to like him, since he is from Minnesota, and when he comes back here he is very popular. But I don't.

I think he has a bad case of finding fault without making useful suggestions. This is often the problem with opinion writers - they don't like the status quo, but can't think of anything to do about it. But with the good ones, even if they don't make concrete policy proposals, they at least suggest a general direction for change.

In his latest column, Friedman says, "What is terrifying is that the noble sacrifice of our soldiers, while never in vain, may not be enough."

He seems to be saying that the sacrifice of our soldiers is never in vain, by definition. This is outrageous and wrong-headed. It implies that whatever fool errand our president sends them on becomes instantly a noble crusade, not because the goal is worth the sacrifice, but for the very reason that our sons and daughters are dying.

I honor the service of our troops, and they serve by following our president, who represents our country. But, he can represent us well or poorly, and this president is doing it poorly. The service of our soldiers is always noble, but in this case it is being squandered in vain by our idiotic leader. It was similarly squandered in Viet Nam.

Friedman goes on to say, "We may actually lose in Iraq. The vitally important may turn out to be the effectively impossible."

No shit, Sherlock. He needs to read Max Sawicky, who points out:

the moral case for liberal interventionism does not imply the practical feasibility of any such project. The moral case borders on triviality: elsewhere in the world, people are doing awful things and somebody ought to stop them.

and also Bob Woodward's Plan of Attack. Woodward makes it clear that Colin Powell was against the war on Iraq from beginning to end. Powell thought that Bush never understood the ramifications of war.

Our military is powerful, but understanding our military prowess doesn't answer the question of whether a war, even one that is well fought, can achieve our political ends. A war on Iraq was never going to make us safer from terrorist attacks, no matter how well it was fought militarily.

Now we are out to establish a democratic social order in Iraq, and we hope to do it with our military power. What idiocy.

Consider Fallujah. The problem in Fallujah was that there were people there who didn't accept the government we appointed and didn't want to participate in the elections we were planning. To fix this problem, we drove 100,000 people from their homes and bombed and shot up the place, killing resisters and bystanders alike. Now they are sure to come around to our point of view, don't you think?

God and Disaster

In one episode of the Simpsons, Springfield is hit by a hurricane. The next day, the Simpsons go to church, and the sign out front says:

God Welcomes His Victims

Disaster Relief

Wouldn't it be a nice idea for the US to pay for a tsunami early-warning system in the Indian ocean? I read that Japan has offered their expertise to help build one. There is obviously a need, and our image in that part of the world is sorely tarnished. Not that this would make us popular overnight, but it wouldn't hurt.

I also hope that our aid effort will be large and, most importantly, sustained. It is wonderful to respond immediately to a humanitarian crisis, but once the affected people have a place to sleep, sanitation, and something to eat, the job of recovery is really just started.

We should help rebuild houses, villages, and economies. These people will be rebuilding for years - let's stick with them. We could easily afford to help rebuild houses and villages, and we could provide small loans to help restart local economies.