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Consider:

"It is better to be drunk with loss and to beat the ground, than to let the deeper things gradually escape."

- I. Compton-Burnett, letter to Francis King (1969)

"Cynical realism – it is the intelligent man’s best excuse for doing nothing in an intolerable situation."

- Aldous Huxley, "Time Must Have a Stop"







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Saturday, 31 January 2004

Topic: Bush

Why George Should Call Lord Hutton and See If Hutton is Free Next Week

As I mentioned earlier, that David Kay fellow has testified that there actually seem to be no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, and there probably hadn't been any for many years, and poor, innocent George Bush was misled by our intelligence folks - Tenet at the CIA and the like - and got suckered because he was so trusting.

It's not his fault! The poor guy trusted the wrong people.

How then, do you suppose the "intelligence community" - the spooks and spies - are going to react?

John le Carre, the British fellow who writes all that espionage fiction (and a former spy who's presumably in touch with his old colleagues) says this in his latest novel Absolute Friends: "The Iraq war was a criminal and immoral conspiracy. It was an old Colonial war dressed up as a crusade for Western life and liberty, and it was launched by a clique of war-hungry Judaeo-Christian geopolitical fantasists who hijacked the media and exploited America's post-Nine Eleven psychopathy."

But he's just being grumpy. Perhaps.

A few days ago Lord Hutton found that Tony Blair hadn't misled the British people by "sexing up" the intelligence available on Iraq. Must have been those awful spy guys, and the BBC not being supportive enough of the government's position.

I suspect the Bush Administration, which doesn't want such an inquiry - or so they have said so far - if faced with pressure to give into an investigation of some sort, will, no doubt, ask if Lord Hutton is available. Hutton would help out, of course.

Hutton would again find that the Bush administration was just doing its best, and was being picked apart by the mean, awful press (except for Fox News). I mean, why can't the press recognize its place as an arm of those in power?

Well, to be fair, CBS is coming around, refusing to air the MoveOn.org political advertisement during the Super Bowl. They'll give up the money. Won't touch it. Good little boys, they are.

But I digress. Shall we have an inquiry about the war we had - the war to remove threats that it seems we rather overestimated? I think the idea was that we were all going to die if we didn't act immediately - and the French, Germans, Chinese, Russians and most of the UN didn't "get it."

So we goofed. Shall we blame the spooks and spies?

You might want to read this:

Tinker, Tailor, Jurist, Spy
When it came to acting on intelligence about Iraq, there were none so blind as those who would not see
Christopher Dickey, NEWSWEEK (web only), January 30, 2004

Here's his take:
So the spooks are supposed to fall on their swords. In Washington and London, it's the spies who are taking the heat for all that wildly misleading stuff shoveled out of the White House and Downing Street stables about Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction. But, you know, it's not just bad intelligence that got us into Iraq, it's bad judgment about the consequences of invading and occupying such a place. And for that the Bush and Blair administrations have no excuses.
And he goes on to concede that it was never a secret that Saddam was a genocidal megalomaniac who wanted WMD. The trick was always to balance the risks he posed against the risks of deposing him.

Well. get did get a little off track there. And maybe that's the real problem. We perhaps could not have really known about the weapons (maybe), but we should have know about the costs.
The current Bush administration simply, and willfully, ignored that aftermath problem, and that's the real reason for the mess we're in now. ... Millions of dollars were spent by the State Department's Future of Iraq Project in 2002, laying out just about all the post-invasion needs and difficulties. But during its plunge into Iraq, the Bush administration not only tossed away those findings, it excluded from the upper levels of the first transition team just about anyone who'd taken part in the State Department's studies.

"It was ideological," says an administration official who watched this spectacle from up close. "These guys convinced themselves this would be a one-week war, we'd be out of there by August, democracy would be in full bloom, [the Pentagon's favored exile leader Ahmed] Chalabi would recognize Israel and they'd all live happily ever after." If you were off message you were on the outs. "Anyone who disagreed with them didn't just have a different opinion," says this official, "they were considered wrong to the point of being evil."
Well, sure. No one likes a naysayer, a grouch who always looks at the negative side of things. Who needs defeatists?

I guess we did.

In 2002 the president's chief economic adviser Larry Lindsey made the mistake of giving congressional testimony that the Iraq operation might actually cost $100 billion to $200 billion - and at a time Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld was talking something under $50 billion. Lindsey was soon out of a job. (And curiously there was word going around that Bush hated him anyway because Lindsey was so overweight - and Bush has no patience for folks with no self-discipline - so Bush wanted him out anyway.)

In February 2003, one year ago, a few weeks before the war, Army Chief of Staff General Eric Shinseki was asked at a Senate hearing how many troops he thought would be necessary to pacify Iraq after the war.

And what did the fool say?
"Something on the order of several hundred thousand soldiers. We're talking about post-hostilities control over a piece of geography that's fairly significant, with the kinds of ethnic tensions that could lead to other problems. And so it takes a significant ground-force presence to maintain a safe and secure environment, to ensure that people are fed, that water is distributed, all the normal responsibilities that go along with administering a situation like this."
What was this guy thinking?

As Dickey summarizes:
Perfectly reasonable, perfectly predictable, perfectly responsible - but not the kind of thing the Bush administration wanted to hear at all. General Shinseki, whose uniform, ribbons and stars testified to his expertise, was publicly rebuked by the Pentagon's civilian No. 2 , Paul Wolfowitz. The suit knew better. Such estimates, said Wolfowitz, were wildly "off the mark," and a figure of 100,000 was closer to the Pentagon's expectations.
Hey, Paul Wolfowitz studied under Leo Strauss at the University of Chicago and worked for the Rand Corporation. Who are you going to trust - him, or the general?

Well, we're at about 130,00 troops now. And things are just fine. Except for the borders being a bit porous, and the problem that even now Baghdad is without electricity for hours at a time, and the problem that our guys are dying every day with the roadside bombs and exploding pick-up trucks. And it's costing a billion a week. And we're saying no matter what our guys will have to be there for another three or four years. The suicide rate for our troops there is a but worrisome, yes, and moral is not helped by recent "stop-loss" orders meaning one cannot leave the military just yet - no matter what your papers say. And no Iraqis seem to be able to agree on any kind of government, and then there's the local ninety-percent unemployment rate. But not bad? Depends on whether you're a negative, defeatist sourpuss.

Was any of this predictable? Heck, who likes negative predictions?

So. If there has to be an inquiry about all this, should Bush call on Lord Hutton?

Hutton's report finds no fault with the Blair government in this case. Blair and his colleagues acted in good faith when they issued their we're-all-forty-five-minutes-from-death report on the evil weapons of mass destruction poised to end the good life in England's green and pleasant land. And as for what came after the war to get rid of these weapons? How could he have know?

So, George, blame the "intelligence community" for providing false information, and the other agencies for not saying how tough it was going to be once we took over control of Iraq. Who'd have thought that?

You say the problem is more and more folks are beginning to figure out you guys hyped the treat - in spite of warnings that a good part of the information was unsubstantiated, if not totally bogus? And folks can find out there is actual evidence you were given detailed explanations of what the post-war mess might be, and you laughed at the reports.

Yeah, you we're just being positive. A positive attitude is good.

But you'd better call Lord Hutton.

Posted by Alan at 14:49 PST | Post Comment | Permalink
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