I agree partially with gregn that many on the right will blame you, the media and many others for "losing" the war.
For everyone else here, please read this article on what the surge is and is not by one of its architects. It's the best summary yet and should dispel a lot of myths.Comment Posted By Andy On 27.06.2007 @ 09:38
Another excellent post Rick. There's no reason you have to agree with your brothers and sisters on the right when they are wrong on this issue.
I am betting the surge does show some modicum of progress come September, but it will not amount to the kind of fundamental shift required to maintain public, and therefore, congressional support for the war. What it may provide is the opportunity to fundamentally change the mission to one of containment to prevent the inevitable spillover effects from a reduction in America's security presence.
Some of the commenters here and bloggers on other sites supportive of "victory" need to examine the history of "Iraq" and compare that to recent events for a demonstration of the futility of emplacing a western-style multiparty democracy there. The analogies with Japan and Germany are completely inapt given the culture of the region and the history of Iraq in particular.
The fundamental problem from the US side boils down to loyalty. In the middle-east and in Iraq in particular, loyalty to government is a rare commodity. In short, most Iraqi's put loyalty to clan/tribe or sect above loyalty to a central government. There is no military solution to that problem, which is why our efforts at training the Iraqi security forces have been mixed at best. You can train a security force to fight, but you can't train it to be loyal to it's government above loyalty to clan, tribe and even sect. For this reason alone the Iraqi government has little chance of success as a true democratic institution.Comment Posted By Andy On 26.06.2007 @ 19:15
Good post Rick. The only thing I would add is that CIA coup-plotting in support of US corporations and other questionable covert actions is pretty well documented in books such as "President's Secret Wars" by John Prados among others.Comment Posted By Andy On 22.06.2007 @ 11:45
Then all bets are off and both parties would scramble like hell to keep Bloomberg off the ballot in as many states as possible. Why take the chance that Bloomberg will siphon votes away from your candidate?
Which is exactly the problem. High office was not intended to be the exclusive domain of a two-party duopoly. The fact that the only non-party people able to marginally compete are multi-millionaires says more about the iron-fisted control of the political system by the parties than anything else.
However, I agree that an independent President is unlikely to get much through a Congress that is inherently hostile to anyone who isn't in the Democrat or Republican club. Of course, one would like to see independents in the House and Senate, but any such candidate that wins will be gerrymandered out of office.
So we will likely be screwed again this election cycle with a choice between to non-candidates that will cause most Americans to choose a the lesser of two evils and not a candidate they truly support. Is it any wonder less than half of Americans even both with elections anymore? Oh wait, that's by design!Comment Posted By Andy On 20.06.2007 @ 09:21
I really like Dave Schuler's criticism of Obama's plan as well as his identification of real root of the problem - health care costs:Comment Posted By Andy On 30.05.2007 @ 15:14
Just for the record, I think that our healthcare system has a problem but that it isnâ€™t an insurance problem. Healthcare insurance is expensive because healthcare is expensive. I donâ€™t think that healthcare costs can be brought down (without causing a public health problem) either by extending healthcare insurance to everybodyâ€”both sides of the cost equation need to be addressed. We need a substantially increased supply of healthcare as well as keeping the demand for healthcare within our means.
And no universal coverage plan will survive open borders.
Too hard on our intel people? You bet! We spend upwards of $70 billion on hardware, software, and the care and feeding of thousands of analysts and this was the best we can do? (Andy: I know I donâ€™t know what Iâ€™m talking about but something is still wrong with that picture.)
Haha, nice preemptive strike, Rick! Please don't take my previous comments personally, as I'm well aware the IC too often likes to cloak ignorance or incompetence in secrecy. It is hardly fair to blame you or anyone who is not familiar with the IC to understand its politics and complexities.
That said, let my try to pull back the curtain a bit to expose some of the underlying issues at hand.
First of all, and I believe I've mentioned this before here, even with perfect intelligence, predictions on development programs can never be made with any degree of certainty. Even if we knew everything Iran knows there would still be a significant lack of precision and accuracy in any prediction simply because there are always unforeseeable obstacles in a technically advanced engineering program. When developing new technology (even if it is just "new" to you), accurately predicting how quickly a particular nation's scientists will be able to master that technology is simply impossible. After all, we don't even know when our own development programs will be completed. All the intelligence resources on the planet cannot overcome this simple fact.
Remember that intelligence has two basic functions - to inform on capabilities and intent in the present and to make educated predictions on future capability and intent. The IC is outstanding at the former and has a mixed record on the latter. Again, no matter how perfect the data and information one has at present, there is always doubt as to what may happen in the future. The further into the future, the greater the number of unknown variables and therefore the greater the possible error in any prediction.
Secondly, and WRT to the Iran unclassified NIE, we simply don't have the full context that an entire classified NIE would provide. When the IC "forecasts" something like an Iranian nuclear capability, it is based on a set of assumptions - assumptions that often do not make it into the unclassified versions of intelligence estimates.
Intelligence from leaks are particularly problematic because they often intentionally omit important context, facts and assumptions that would cast the leaked information in a different light. So while leaked information may be factually true in the narrowest, most absolute sense, it's often misinterpreted because the context, underlying arguments and assumptions are missing. That is why one must always be skeptical of leaked intelligence because the leaker inevitably has an agenda and therefore will only leak information that supports that agenda. It really is akin to quoting a politician out of context to make them appear to say something they did not actually say or intend to say. Of course not all leaked intelligence is biased in that manner, but enough is that one should view leaked intel with cautious skepticism at best.
Finally, I should note that the IC's estimate is not, as the misleading WAPO headline you link to describes it, ten years away (from 2005, so 2015). The actually estimate says "early to mid" next decade which is really from 2011 to 2015. The IC has been updating the 2005 NIE for the last couple of months and the unclassified version should be published soon. We'll see if anything has changed. Still, 2011 is not that far off.
Again, when looking at predictive analysis such as "early to mid" decade, the underlying assumptions are a key factor. If Iran began a crash, overt program using its existing infrastructure, it could conceivably have material for a weapon in 2009, but that course of action would be easily detected and would provide ample cause and opportunity to stop it through military action. Therefore it's likely (though not assuredly) that one of the underlying assumptions in the 2011-2015 estimate is that Iran will not pursue an overt, crash program (which really is unlikely for a number of reasons) but instead reflects the estimate of when Iran could achieve a covert weapon. In other words, the IC is predicting when Iran could achieve a clandestine weapon undetected by the verification measures implemented by the IAEA and not predicting an overt "breakout" capability. We don't know for certain which assumption the IC is predicting here.
Anyway, those are some things to think about. I do believe there is time yet, though I agree in part with DG El Baradei that Iran has sufficiently mastered enrichment that the genie is effectively (or almost so) out of the bottle. Unless Iran can be stopped from learning more soon by suspending their program - and by soon I'm talking a couple of months - we will have to look at alternatives to preventing Iran from weaponizing.Comment Posted By Andy On 24.05.2007 @ 23:37
Everyone seems to assume the CIA is the intelligence community. It is one small part of it and this leak could have come from a variety of agencies, not just the CIA.
Frankly, I don't think the anti-Bush faction of the IC that were most likely responsible for previous leaks is responsible for this one since it would be counter-productive to their alleged goals. More likely, imo, is that it's from individuals who did not like the fact that covert action was put ahead of military confrontation. If covert action gets torpedoed then a military solution to Iran becomes more likely.Comment Posted By Andy On 23.05.2007 @ 16:19
Is it any wonder Congress has a lower approval rating than Bush - who's had numbers as low as any President in history? Congress is a god awful mess.Comment Posted By Andy On 16.05.2007 @ 12:18
I'm sure the wingers will skewer you again for this post Rick - good on you for putting the interests of the US ahead of partisan political interests. I read that Rove quote and it really pissed me off - I hoped he would have more important matters to be furious about than the leak of dissent from Republican ranks.
As for where we go now, I think we need to look at a containment strategy to limit spillover from bloodshed that is sure to follow the reduction in forces. Here is a good outline for some active measures we can take:
http://www.cfr.org/publication/12602/brookings.htmlComment Posted By Andy On 11.05.2007 @ 08:39
Quality > quantityComment Posted By Andy On 1.05.2007 @ 13:37