Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Big Brass Balls

No doubt there will be better analysis offered elsewhere of the curious example of double-speak and logical dysfunction displayed in Douglas Feith's op-ed in today's Washington Post, but this stands out for sheer nerve:
In evaluating our policy toward Iraq after Sept. 11, 2001, my office realized that CIA analysts were suppressing some of their information. They excluded reports conflicting with their favored theory: that the secular Iraqi Baathist regime would not cooperate with al-Qaeda jihadists. (We now face a strategic alliance of jihadists and former Baathists in Iraq.)
Feith wants you to believe that the present Ba'athist/jihadist alliance in Iraq, created entirely by the invasion, confirms his previous, wholly inaccurate (some would say deliberately misleading) assertion of such an alliance, a proposition directly counter to the CIA's "favored theory" ("favored theory" being an attempt at dissembling what someone with a clear conscience would call duly vetted intelligence).

Feith tries to disparage an accurate appraisal by calling it "theory" and mischaracterizing it as an assertion that Arab nationalists would never ally themselves with their jihadist enemies (this no doubt a clumsy attempt to grease his exit, using would not when in fact the intelligence conclusion was, more relevantly, that they were not).
But the invasion has only proven what we already knew: that when faced with a common enemy Arab nationalists and jihadists, among other regional players, will cooperate. We also know, by the same example of the Soveit occupation of Afghanistan, that in the absence of such a threat they will quickly resume internecine hostilities.

Feith is not merely trying to save his skin with this distortion; his arguments belie a perverse satisfaction and sense of opportunity realized by the persistent movement Feith represents. Now that they have clumsily created a reality of the illusion they fabricated, they use it to argue for a continuing presence in Iraq and even a wider war. It is in this context that we should also view the current narrative drive to generate outrage at the Iranian provocation of the U.S. in Iraq; something that might be more accurately characterized as Iranian reaction to U.S. provocation.

He further seeks to cover the tracks of his office's incompetence and lack of integrity by describing the proper rejection of compromised intelligence as "suppressing" information. By an illusory standard implied here, every shred of information offered warrants equal consideration, and being right counts for nothing, as the "suppressed" information Feith pines for has since been proven, to put it gently, hogwash.
There's no small hint of irony in this language; by promoting unsupported allegation and outright fraud over the objections of intelligence analysts and citing it as reliable intelligence Feith, not the intelligence community, effectively suppressed analysis.

And what of those "excluded reports"? Intelligence delivered to policymakers in Feith's office by the charlatan Ahmad Chalabi, which they in turn fed into the intelligence system to extract, by considerable effort, the same distorted picture of Iraq they now claim was the result of "failed intelligence." If not for the bloodshed it would be almost charmingly picaresque.
Why we would even humor such people, let alone spare them the widespread disgrace they deserve as they find comfortable sinecures in academia and elsewhere, while continuing to elect those who take them seriously, is beyond me.


Black Sea said...

As Steve Sailer has reported, " . . . Doug Feith's initial response to 9/11 was proposing that instead of bombing Afghanistan, we should bomb Paraguay, Argentina, and Brazil instead to catch the terrorists off guard."

Well, you've got to give him credit for thinking outside of the box. I'm sure this response to 9-11 would have been quite the attention getter, particularly among our Latin American neighbors.

Of course, we all remember Tommy Frank's assessment of Feith's strategic thinking. It really is amazing to consider that Feith represents - or represented -someone at the apex of America's military and strategic hierarchy.

As you point out, the guy's just going to sail through life. He was born to wealth, he has political, economic, and academic connections, and his unassailable arrogance will allow him to continue in the belief that he was right all along. About everything.

What a success story.

Dennis Dale said...

I fear we are nearing the end of a long period of eroding honor and ethical behavior, to say nothing of competence, in public service and in the quality of democratic leaders.

Our public servants are relatively clean of old fashioned corruption, bribe taking and the like, yet more corrupt the higher the principle involved.
The greater the lie, the more lethal its consequences, the higher the stakes, the less they feel constrained to behave ethically; perhaps this is the sort of corruption you get when people start believing in messianic concepts like "the end of history" and "America's unique position in the world." One can do no wrong when he believes he's on the side of God.

Watching Feith in person, presents a dramatic image of the spectacle; he's so insistent on his blamelessness--utterly without fault!--that you can only conclude he believes deeply in his righteousness, ethical behavior and honesty be damned.

Vanity, at bottom, is destroying us, and who better to embody this decline than GWB: all bluster, falsity, and self-conscious image projection.

grumpy said...

you should feel grateful that you are here describing the actions of a (relatively) minor player in this great game.

We Brits, on the other hand, have the misfortune to be 'led' by one Tony Blair - he who apparently believes himself to be the Messiah.