Tuesday, April 27, 2004

The man behind the curtain, Wizard of Oz edition Issue 1

Today we are at a startling crossroads of history. While some may debate the legitimacy of the policies in Iraq, there is no question that the effect on the sentiment of the people in those regions is inflammatory. "Security and intelligence officials are convinced that further major acts of terrorism are being planned in several countries - especially, but not exclusively, against American, Israeli and British targets."

Meanwhile as the spies all say that they can do the job, the truth is in fact that they can't do the job. I guess it's our fault for not holding their feet to the fire however.

If Condi has lost her perspective, she should step down. Her job is not to protect the President if it means getting in the way of giving him the information that would allow him to protect the country.

The oldman has made his case before for a more robust intelligence operations capacity, and it is showing now more than ever in its lack. What we do not need is to blast our way into Najaf using the blunt instrument of the military. What we need is what one friend of mine said more lessons from the Mafia. Sadr needs to be deposed by a locally funded army, or to be conveniently found floating face-down in his bath one morning. This is something only a truly functional foriegn operations directorate can deliver however.

The thought that like the critiques of the Sopranos we might be sitting back and saying "we need more murder" to make it work better might seem cold-blooded and evil. Let everyone be reminded however that the cost of doing without such a capacity is not a care-bear kind of world, it is kids like this getting shipped back home so that their families can make their peace before pulling the plug.

If there is a choice between Americans dying and foreigners dying, I pick Americans over foreigners. If there is a choice between many dying and a few dying, I pick the few to die. It's a remarkably nationalistic and utilitarian philosophy. What it requires however is a lot of responsibility and personal insight.

Certainly various delusions and johnny come lately confessions of reservations can't however hysterical the accusations argue away the disaster that were predicted well before hand by arguing for more time to follow policies that are equally likely to end in tears.

Meanwhile on the ground, kids pay with their lives and their limbs for the hesitation and waffling at the top.

If the US military and Admin knew what it was doing, it wouldn't be sending in AC-130's to strafe targets in Najaf. They're just working themselves up to invade Najaf because they're afraid to back down and they don't know what else to do.

The oldman has proposed plans on how to both get the Iraqis to handle Najaf, and how we can used a beefed US troop presence to train enough Iraqis to stabilize the country.

While I am amused at Swopa's comment on Needlenose that my plans not foolproof , I will say three things. The first is that (a) It's better than the plan now, even if as Swopa states it's because there is no plan now! (b) I've always acknowledged the need for political concessions to make this deal work and (c) No it's not guarenteed to work but it's a sight better chance than merely muddling through as we are now.

If we are going to make this work, we basically have to take a very different stance on doing things. The truth is that there is no Wizard behind the curtain. There is no kind, benevolent government filled with competent cadres of officers that have some sort of plan behind the scenes to put things right. The word coming out from the inside is that "We've gone off a cliff (in Iraq)" and "We're fucked,". Behind the curtain of propaganda there are just some guys in suits who have soft hands and haven't done a lick of work in a lot of years, just like your bosses out there in corporate land, and just like them making silly decisions can calling it planned.

Well we have a chance to set this straight, but only if somebody up on high will show some sense and hire someone behind the scenes and for God's sake just listen to them long enough to do this right. If there's an opening on Negroponte's team, well I haven't signed any commitments for next year and I'm still available.

I'd like to say one thing and that is that whatever my criticism of Daniel Drezner, he at least is facing up to facts. For this he is being attacked as being pessimistic by certain commentators. Maybe they feel that to express concerns is to be disloyal. I consider it the height of loyalty. I don't condone Mr. Diamond running, even if I can understand it as a human being. I'm sure he felt impotent and incapable of saving what he came to feel was a doomed venture.

I for one do not believe that Iraq is doomed. However there is a problem. Acknowledging a problem is a step toward fixing it. Denial is a sure road to disaster. In my mind and heart, speaking out about the difficulties in Iraq is the one thing I can do to help make sure that such a crucial venture succeeds. Also I've made sure to lace my criticisms not just with vague proposals (like seeking more troops from allies) but with concrete doable plans for alternative methods of proceeding.

Anybody who thinks these kinds of ideas are liberal or disloyal ought to read these two articles by the Weekly Standard essentially advocating the more Iraqi training and more boots on the ground. These two issues are linked. The only way more of our troops could be effective is with more Iraqis by their sides, and the only way to get more Iraqis trained quickly is with more of our guys. Now we just have to put the weight of the President's full commitment behind them!

I think that anyone now making excuses for Iraq not going well is just being defensive. It's not about blame. It's about fixing the problem. And if people are too afraid to admit a problem might exist because they're afraid of blame, well that's not leadership. That's the way a juvenile acts. Lying about where you were last night doesn't get the car out of the ditch.

There's a phrase that was taught to me young, that many who are still apologists for the Administration's "subtle" genius ought to learn:

Wishing doesn't make it so.


Remember when the oldman said that the Admin would go back and screw up Najaf and Fallujah? Well, as it turns out the Admin has begun doing just that.


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