Some people have been suggesting that the investigation into the Plamegate affair is the source of the market’s woes.

I totally disagree.

However, given that this is all anyone can talk about, its time for a brief respite from Economics to take a short sojourn into the world of politics:

With indictments imminent in the Plamegate case, there’s a lot of focus on those 16 words in the State of the Union speech, and the false basis for war. But we should be focusing not on the alleged excuses, but on the underlying policy error:  The Iraq War was a massive failure in strategic planning — and not, as the media has suggested, an intelligence failure.

Whether WMDs were found or not, the entire strategic policy making process was apparently obsessed with Saddam. This pushed aside the more pressing issue of fighting Terrorism. Do not lose sight of how foolishly dangerous this was.

Yes, there were also staggering execution problems, including wrong troop levels, a lack of follow through, little coalition building, no post-war planning, etc., but lets put those aside for the moment.

At the heart of the Fitzgerald investigation was the WH retaliation against the Wilsons for pointing out ginned up INTEL. But we should be focusing less on today’s news, and more on the terrible strategic thinking (or lack thereof) that led to the decision to invade Iraq.

This was not an intelligence failure (in either sense of the word) — it was a failure of judgement, a reflection of the worst kind off decision making at the very highest levels.

And this criticism isn’t a case of 20/20 hind sight: No less an authority than Brent Scowcraft, national security adviser under President Gerald Ford and George H.W. Bush, warned the administration and the public about this erroneous thinking. Seven months before the invasion, he penned a WSJ Op/Ed alerting us to these issues. Scowcraft correctly identifies that a War on Saddam would be a huge distraction form what should be our biggest priority: fighting terrorism.

Can you recall when else in our history that: 1) a more respected military leader; 2) so sternly warned an Adminsitration they were on the verge of;  3)  making a colossal strategic military error; 4) that would put the country’s National Security so at risk; nation’s 5) and was so roundly ignored? (I can’t)

Here’s an except from that 2002 WSJ Op-Ed:

"We need to think through this issue very carefully. We need to analyze the relationship between Iraq and our other pressing priorities–notably the war on terrorism–as well as the best strategy and tactics available were we to move to change the regime in Baghdad.

Saddam’s strategic objective appears to be to dominate the Persian Gulf, to control oil from the region, or both. That clearly poses a real threat to key U.S. interests. But there is scant evidence to tie Saddam to terrorist organizations, and even less to the Sept. 11 attacks. Indeed Saddam’s goals have little in common with the terrorists who threaten us, and there is little incentive for him to make common cause with them.

He is unlikely to risk his investment in weapons of mass destruction, much less his country, by handing such weapons to terrorists who would use them for their own purposes and leave Baghdad as the return address. Threatening to use these weapons for blackmail–much less their actual use–would open him and his entire regime to a devastating response by the U.S. While Saddam is thoroughly evil, he is above all a power-hungry survivor . . .

But the central point is that any campaign against Iraq, whatever the strategy, cost and risks, is certain to divert us for some indefinite period from our war on terrorism. Worse, there is a virtual consensus in the world against an attack on Iraq at this time. So long as that sentiment persists, it would require the U.S. to pursue a virtual go-it-alone strategy against Iraq, making any military operations correspondingly more difficult and expensive. The most serious cost, however, would be to the war on terrorism. Ignoring that clear sentiment would result in a serious degradation in international cooperation with us against terrorism. And make no mistake, we simply cannot win that war without enthusiastic international cooperation, especially on intelligence.

Possibly the most dire consequences would be the effect in the region. The shared view in the region is that Iraq is principally an obsession of the U.S. The obsession of the region, however, is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. If we were seen to be turning our backs on that bitter conflict–which the region, rightly or wrongly, perceives to be clearly within our power to resolve–in order to go after Iraq, there would be an explosion of outrage against us. We would be seen as ignoring a key interest of the Muslim world in order to satisfy what is seen to be a narrow American interest.
Even without Israeli involvement, the results could well destabilize Arab regimes in the region, ironically facilitating one of Saddam’s strategic objectives. At a minimum, it would stifle any cooperation on terrorism, and could even swell the ranks of the terrorists. Conversely, the more progress we make in the war on terrorism, and the more we are seen to be committed to resolving the Israel-Palestinian issue, the greater will be the international support for going after Saddam.

In sum, if we will act in full awareness of the intimate interrelationship of the key issues in the region, keeping counterterrorism as our foremost priority, there is much potential for success across the entire range of our security interests–including Iraq. If we reject a comprehensive perspective, however, we put at risk our campaign against terrorism as well as stability and security in a vital region of the world.

Just something to mull over while the Nation’s focus is on the retaliation for outing what was bad INTEL. But the real problem, the bigger issue, the lasting mystery, was a policy failure so massive in scope and nature, that even today we have trouble comprehending how it happened. 

Its easier to wrap our little heads around the "bad intel" rationale, then to comprehend the enormity of the failings in so many ways and at the very highest levels. 

Had the White House made similar errors in 1939, you would likely be reading this website written in German . . .

Source:
Don’t Attack Saddam
It would undermine our antiterror efforts.
BRENT SCOWCROFT
WSJ, Thursday, August 15, 2002 12:01 a.m. EDT
http://www.opinionjournal.com/editorial/feature.html?id=110002133

Category: Politics, War/Defense

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

20 Responses to “Intel versus Strategy Failure”

  1. Simon says:

    I agree with your emphasis on a policy failure over an Intel failure. But I think you are glossing over one major point. The Administration misled the American people, including me. We trusted (and the Congress as well) the representations made by the President, the Vice President and other members of the Administration about mushroom clouds, uranium tubes and the Niger uranium purchase and supported the President’s decision. No rational analytical reasonable person in the Administration’s shoes would have accepted the shaky intelligence as a basis for war. The British effectively said so in the Downing Street Memo. Wilson’s report was 1 of 3 stating that the Niger uranium sale claims were false. The CIA refused to let the President put the claim in a speech in October 2002 and only permitted its includion in the SOTU address based on verbal pyrotechnics. We were purposely mislead in a manner not seen since the Gulf of Tonkin. In my book, with tens of thousands dead and maimed, and our treasury depleated, crimes were committed.

  2. erikpupo says:

    Barry,

    Actually, from my understanding of history, both George Ball and George Kennan did not agree with the decision to send troops into Vietnam. While neither of them may be considered tru military genuises, I can remember further dissent from other lower-level military strategists as well.

  3. Idaho_Spud says:

    I wasn’t misled.

    It was obvious at the time that they were obsessed about Saddam Hussein (Clinton being their previous obsession), and that they were rationalizing anything and everything to justify destroying him.

    Anyone that got in their way needed to be destroyed as well. That strikes fear into others who might cross you in the future. It’s been pretty consistent behavior actually.

  4. D. says:

    A bigger mistake occured more than 20 years ago when the US did not jump on the opportunity to reduce its reliance on oil. Instead, it gave the Arab elite 20 more years to enrich themselves at the expense of its people and in some cases brainwash their people.

    If the US wants better international cooperation it will need to think a little more in terms of “what’s in it for them” or become a little less self serving.

    As soon as a country benefits from some kind of competitive advantage, the US refuses to respect its commitments and/or treaties. The NAFTA agreement is a perfect example. The US owes Canada more than 5 billion dollars because it imposed illegal tarifs on forest products and now refuses to pay it back. Canada did not dump, it simply benefitted from a drop in currency. America loves capitalism and free markets but only inside its boundaries. But even that is questionable!

    And now, instead of focusing on efficient cuts in oil consumption, America wants to mess around with the daylight savings time. Get serious!

    If the US wants a little more international cooperation, it needs to wield its power a little more efficiently and care about what other countries think about their elected leaders.

  5. Idaho_Spud says:

    A couple of other things: Iraq was more of a horrific dictatorship and rogue nation than a terrorist training ground unlike say, Syria and Iran.

    One of the silly rationalizations they used at the time to sell the Iraq war was WMD in the hands of a malevolent dictator who might use them on the US.

    Well guess what? N. Korea is really *has* WMD, and is actively working to build a ballistic missile that can reach the US.

    I propose that the reason we haven’t invaded N. Korea (besides the obvious fact that the administration isn’t obsessed with destroying Kim Il Sung), is because they *knew* that Iraq really didn’t have WMD, and thus there was nothing to fear.

    N. Korea, being a slightly bigger kid on the playground than Iraq (meaning they really DO have WMD), might use them if invaded, and therefore cannot be safely invaded with CNN taping everything.

  6. Bill says:

    Simon, I agree with everything you say except that I would disagree about the glossing over.

    This post is not supposed to be the full story, but instead works for me like the first paragraph of a great argument. It takes the high ground and focuses on the position that Iraq was a serious strategic error.

    The subtext is there. It is a neat trick of any debate to get agreement early on something, then come back to it at the end to send the zingers in.

    If we get all to agree that Iraq was a horrible strategic error, THEN prove that the error was made by a small core, while at the same time that core (WHIG) used deception on not only the public but the congress, I think that we have a case of, as Al Franken has been saying, treason.

  7. Mark Sullivan says:

    Scowcroft not Scowcraft, by the way.

    BR: But I prefer Scowing Crafts, not Scaring Crofts . . .

  8. Dean N. says:

    Lies and truth?

    Real issue behind Plamegate is Libby and the Administration lying about discrediting Wilson who was telling the truth about WMD and exposing their lies about Iraq.

    All the spin cannot change the fundamental fact that lying about exposing a CIA agent and reasons for taking a country to war should be a taken a lot more seriously than lying about having sex with a women other than your wife (remember Starr).

  9. ElamBend says:

    Spud,
    If your first supposition is taken as the administration’s view, then there course surely must be taken as successful in regard to Libya, and possibly as a key ingredient to the pressure that is now upon Assad in Syria.

    If however, you suppose that one of the key drivers of Sunni Islamic terrorism is it’s hand-in-hand relationship with Arab chauvanism, then possibly placing our troops in the heartland of such chauvanism makes sense, especially given the faltering sactions progam on Iraq that has now been shown to be completely ineffectual and corrupted. (Even in non-Arab muslim lands there is a driving Arabization demanded by the pay-masters and terror leaders coming out of the Arabian peninsula)

    My understanding was always that this was the true objective of the Iraq invasion and that the WMD thing was a hyped-up (and ham-fisted) justification. [for the record, I was surprised the we didn't find anything].
    Unfortunately, much of the execution was just as ham-fisted.
    As for it being a distraction from the War on Terror; well, I’m just not sure exactly what we aren’t doing the we could’ve done had we not been in Iraq, short of helping more in Darfur. Would it be to invade Pakistan instead? We’re being asked to draw down what troops we have in Afghanistan now. Syria? Without an Iraqi spring board, we would have had to gone through Lebanon, over the mountains and throught the Beka valley AND worry about Iraq on the other side. As for the KSA, well, the holy cities and oil make it not a politically viable place to apply military pressure. So, short of that what are we NOT doing?

    North Korea is, right now, strictly a regional problem. Pakistan has spread more WMD technology than them, and don’t forget any invasion of NK would seriously risk the viability of our ally S. Korea, they would never agree to it.

    As for oil dependancy, as soon as we come up with an alternative to jet fuel, then we can seriously talk about ending oil dependancy. Until then, we’re stuck with it.

    PS – Libby should go to jail.

  10. Joshua says:

    “Had the White House made similar errors in 1939, you would likely be reading this website written in German . . .”

    Because of the “errors” the White House did make in 1939, 1.5 million Jewish children didn’t get much of a chance to speak any language (Even when the U.S. was finally forced into war, the American government did its level best to not lift a finger to help the drowning Jews of Europe.). On the other hand, even if the Roosevelt Administration had wanted to go to war much earlier, an anti-Semitic American public would have stopped it in its tracks.

    I have always found the American Jewish love affair with FDR to be utterly bizarre.

  11. will says:

    Blind into baghdad is a good look at the prewar choices.

    http://www.epic-usa.org/Default.aspx?tabid=185

  12. ElamBend says:

    The problem was that there WAS a post-war plan, but when the post-war reality didn’t fit the plan, the administrations reaction seemed to have been to try to fit the plan on top of the reality anyway; thus critical time was lost that should have been spent preparing for and putting down the nacent guerilla war.
    I think the current, military spawned, anti-guerilla military stategy is much better.
    A big factor must have been de-Baathification and the break-up of the old Iraqi army, which has been critisized. However, unless we planned on turning over Iraq to a new, albeit, friendly, Sunni regimed; those actions had to be taken. (I think many Sunni initially presumed that we were just getting rid of Sadam, but were going to leave the rest of the old power structure mostly in place and only at the prospect of loss of position did the insurgency really gain broad appeal).

  13. Marc Brazeau says:

    Well argued, and true. However, poor strategic decisions are not illegal. The campaign of deceit to carry them out and protect them from truthtellers was.

  14. ElamBen says:

    My first doubts about the existence of WMDs came during Powell’s presentation to the U.N. It just seemed so weak. I dismissed though feelings a) because I assumed we had better stuff that we couldn’t reveal for tactical reasons and b) Powell wouldn’t give such a poor dog-and-pony show unless he was more sure of his info. (Maybe he was sure, because of Tenet who seemed to genuinely think his intelligence was solid).

    Either way, the presentation seemed weak to me and gave me an uneasy feeling at the time causing me to think that perhaps the administration shouldn’t have pinned the whole thing on WMD issues.

  15. bt says:

    Pakistan is the biggest WMD proliferator and the biggest supporter of terrorism (Taliban was created in Pakistan and supported by Pakistan in its efforts to control Afghanistan; Al Qaeda operated freely in Pakistan before 9/11 and still operates in Pakistan, albeit with a little less fanfare).

    If WMD and terrorism are truly a priority for this adminsitration they would have gone after Pakistan. “Going after” doesn’t mean invading the country, but ostracizing and squeezing it much the same way N.Korea and Iran are these days. Instead, the administration fell in love with Pakistan’s dictator (who, BTW, overthrew a democratically elected government; there goes the “spreading democracy” rationale).

    What puzzles me is that even if the administration was so dumb and incompetent, what happened to the people and institutions of our country? Why did the people act so dumb as to let a couple of fools take the country on foreign misadventures? We claim to be so proud of our freedom of speech and freedom of the press etc etc, but what good did all of that do when it was time to deliver? What good are those freedoms if they are used by tyrants to turn a population into a gullible mass of flag waving flock of sheep? Boy, it was such a shame to watch how easily the administration manipulated the public with terror alerts!

    If democracy is so valuable, how come it wasn’t exercised? How come no one is held accountable for being negligent enough to ignore 9/11 warnings? How come no one is held accountable for the massive Iraq war screwups? How come no one (other than a couple of low level recruits) was held accountable for torture (which, of course, is hard to accept so we call it “prisoner abuse”. Yeah right!)? All of these aren’t things that happened in a far away place long time ago. These happened right in front of our own eyes and the people who did this are still in power! What a shame.

    And guess what? Whatever the administration did, it did it in your name, with your military resources, and with your own tax dollars. All of this bad karma isn’t going to go away overnight. Just because you ignore it doesn’t mean it is going away. The consequences will linger on for many many years and as the jingoistic high wears off and reality hits, the drunken masses will repent for not having been awake and responsible when they had the chance. And those that were awake and pointed out the absurdities (e.g. the people who cautioned against the war *before* the war started) and the irrationality will come out better. If you were one of those, congratulations, you can sleep well while the masses awaken from their jingoistic orgy.

  16. ElamBend says:

    Effectively squeezing Pakistan becomes excedingly hard unless you are willing to risk losing Afghanistan or even further radicalyzing Pakistan.
    If you truly believe the Pakistan is the major well-spring of Salafist terrorism with all the facts that are available, then nothing I can say will change your mind.

  17. D. says:

    “As for oil dependancy, as soon as we come up with an alternative to jet fuel, then we can seriously talk about ending oil dependancy. Until then, we’re stuck with it.”

    That is such an American way of thinking and that’s why the world is losing confidence in America! Look around… there are many ways to cut oil dependency:

    1. Smaller vehicles

    2. Smaller homes

    3. Less development in non-livable areas (i.e Vegas)

    4. Less suburbunization, better city planning

    5. Less divorce, hence less households, less cars, less homes. More focus on people and less on material stuff usually helps preserve a marriage

    6. More cohesice family values: 2 or 3 generations per home

    7. Less value on stuff more value on services. i.e put more value on teachers’ income than SUVs

    It all takes a change in values and in many countries it means better quality of life!

  18. FT says:

    BR is Barry Ritholtz’s original article. FT is me.

    BR: Some people have been suggesting that the investigation into the Plamegate affair is the source of the market’s woes. I totally disagree.

    FT: You are correct, it is much more a factor of Fed’s interest rate actions, American reactions to debt and its increasing costs, and the prospect of inflation.

    BR: However, given that this is all anyone can talk about, its time for a brief respite from Economics to take a short sojourn into the world of politics:

    BR: With indictments imminent in the Plamegate case, there’s a lot of focus on those 16 words in the State of the Union speech, and the false basis for war.

    FT: British intelligence, to this day, supports what Bush said.

    BR: But we should be focusing not on the alleged excuses, but on the underlying policy error: The Iraq War was a massive failure in strategic planning — and not, as the media has suggested, an intelligence failure.

    FT: Please name for me one major country that said in 2002 that Saddam’s Iraq did NOT have WMD’s.

    BR: Whether WMDs were found or not, the entire strategic policy making process was apparently obsessed with Saddam. This pushed aside the more pressing issue of fighting Terrorism. Do not lose sight of how foolishly dangerous this was.

    FT: Saddam was a known supporter of terrorism. As to fighting terrorism? Please give suggestions about what Bush should do. I’ll comment on our own borders later.

    BR: Yes, there were also staggering execution problems, including wrong troop levels, a lack of follow through, little coalition building, no post-war planning, etc., but lets put those aside for the moment.

    FT: If Bush had put in more (or less) troops, why do I think that you would be critical of that? Al-Qaeda, and other Moslem extremists, like to plant bombs in Iraq, among other places. Your solution please? Would you like for Bush to put more Iraqis in prison? As for ‘Coalition building’ ? Saddam’s corruption extended across the world with the Oil-For-Food program.

    BR: At the heart of the Fitzgerald investigation was the WH retaliation against the Wilsons for pointing out ginned up INTEL. But we should be focusing less on today’s news, and more on the terrible strategic thinking (or lack thereof) that led to the decision to invade Iraq.

    FT: I don’t think history will be very kind to either Mr. Wilson or Mrs. Plame.

    BR: This was not an intelligence failure (in either sense of the word) — it was a failure of judgement, a reflection of the worst kind off decision making at the very highest levels.

    FT: Then ask Bill Clinton who said the following on July 22, 2003: “When I left office, there was a substantial amount of biological and chemical material unaccounted for. That is, at the end of the first Gulf War, we knew what he had. We knew what was destroyed in all the inspection processes and that was a lot. And then we bombed with the British for four days in 1998. We might have gotten it all; we might have gotten half of it; we might have gotten none of it. But we didn’t know. So I thought it was prudent for the president to go to the U.N. and for the U.N. to say you got to let these inspectors in, and this time if you don’t cooperate the penalty could be regime change, not just continued sanctions.”

    Remember UNSCOM? Why then did Saddam pussyfoot around throughout the 90’s?

    If there is a ‘problem’ with Bush, it is that he does more of what he says than most politicians.

    BR: And this criticism isn’t a case of 20/20 hind sight: No less an authority than Brent Scowcraft, national security adviser under President Gerald Ford and George H.W. Bush, warned the administration and the public about this erroneous thinking. Seven months before the invasion, he penned a WSJ Op/Ed alerting us to these issues. Scowcraft correctly identifies that a War on Saddam would be a huge distraction form what should be our biggest priority: fighting terrorism.

    FT: Even President Bill Clinton, in general, agrees with Bush. See Bill Clinton’s quote above (written several months AFTER the invasion).

    BR: Can you recall when else in our history that: 1) a more respected military leader; 2) so sternly warned an Adminsitration they were on the verge of; 3) making a colossal strategic military error; 4) that would put the country’s National Security so at risk; nation’s 5) and was so roundly ignored? (I can’t)

    FT: I can. There are numerous examples during the US Civil War for example.

    BR: Here’s an except from that 2002 WSJ Op-Ed:

    BR: “We need to think through this issue very carefully. We need to analyze the relationship between Iraq and our other pressing priorities–notably the war on terrorism–as well as the best strategy and tactics available were we to move to change the regime in Baghdad.

    FT: Bush’s response to the prime perpetrators of terrorism has been diplomatically restrained. In many areas, Bush has been attacked for being too aggressive. And your proposed solution?

    BR: Saddam’s strategic objective appears to be to dominate the Persian Gulf, to control oil from the region, or both. That clearly poses a real threat to key U.S. interests. But there is scant evidence to tie Saddam to terrorist organizations, and even less to the Sept. 11 attacks. Indeed Saddam’s goals have little in common with the terrorists who threaten us, and there is little incentive for him to make common cause with them.

    FT: One of the mistakes of the first President Bush was that he ordered Schwartzkopf to stop 100 miles from Baghdad. But I also understand that there were great diplomatic reasons to stop our advance.

    Almost the whole Middle East is generally a trouble spot and a haven for terrorists. This was true pre-9/11, and post-9/11 too.

    BR: He is unlikely to risk his investment in weapons of mass destruction, much less his country, by handing such weapons to terrorists who would use them for their own purposes and leave Baghdad as the return address. Threatening to use these weapons for blackmail–much less their actual use–would open him and his entire regime to a devastating response by the U.S. While Saddam is thoroughly evil, he is above all a power-hungry survivor . . .

    FT: Amazing that you left this paragraph in, since Scowcroft is saying that Saddam had WMDs. That was a VERY common understanding before 2003. This is somehow conveniently forgotten since Saddam’s departure. Somehow *17* UN resolutions against Saddam is forgotten also.

    BR: But the central point is that any campaign against Iraq, whatever the strategy, cost and risks, is certain to divert us for some indefinite period from our war on terrorism. Worse, there is a virtual consensus in the world against an attack on Iraq at this time. So long as that sentiment persists, it would require the U.S. to pursue a virtual go-it-alone strategy against Iraq, making any military operations correspondingly more difficult and expensive. The most serious cost, however, would be to the war on terrorism. Ignoring that clear sentiment would result in a serious degradation in international cooperation with us against terrorism. And make no mistake, we simply cannot win that war without enthusiastic international cooperation, especially on intelligence.

    FT: ‘virtual consensus in the world against an attack’ ?? Mainly by those that Saddam paid off with money from the Oil-For-Food program. Russia and France come to mind immediately.

    Meanwhile in America, it is the *BI*-partisan failure to defend our borders that has been one of two our greatest failings over the past four years. The other is excessive spending which will bankrupt us. But where is the Democrat criticism about the border failures? or even the budget failures? On the contrary, the Democrats want us to spend even more!!

    BR: Possibly the most dire consequences would be the effect in the region. The shared view in the region is that Iraq is principally an obsession of the U.S.

    FT: As usual, it is the job of the US to clean up a mess.

    BR: The obsession of the region, however, is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. If we were seen to be turning our backs on that bitter conflict–which the region, rightly or wrongly, perceives to be clearly within our power to resolve–in order to go after Iraq, there would be an explosion of outrage against us. We would be seen as ignoring a key interest of the Muslim world in order to satisfy what is seen to be a narrow American interest.

    FT: What are you saying? Should we abandon Israel? Can Moslems ever be reconciled to Israel? Go see the Moslem reaction to the Gaza pullout. Go see the Iranian president’s comments this week. Why is Israel such a thorn to them?

    BR: Even without Israeli involvement, the results could well destabilize Arab regimes in the region, ironically facilitating one of Saddam’s strategic objectives. At a minimum, it would stifle any cooperation on terrorism, and could even swell the ranks of the terrorists. Conversely, the more progress we make in the war on terrorism, and the more we are seen to be committed to resolving the Israel-Palestinian issue, the greater will be the international support for going after Saddam.

    FT: So far, October 2005, I fail to see the destabilization. On the contrary, with Afghanistan and Iraq on the mend, there is a lot to be optimistic about. Bush’s goal is a less-repressive Middle East. It is true however, that freedom, in and of itself, might lead to destabilization.

    BR: In sum, if we will act in full awareness of the intimate interrelationship of the key issues in the region, keeping counterterrorism as our foremost priority, there is much potential for success across the entire range of our security interests–including Iraq. If we reject a comprehensive perspective, however, we put at risk our campaign against terrorism as well as stability and security in a vital region of the world.”

    FT: Bush is changing our foreign policy of allowing despotic regimes to continue, especially in the Middle East. One problem at a time. Do human rights mean anything? And if you are going to start about North Korea or Iran, then I would like to hear your suggestions on those countries too.

    BR: Just something to mull over while the Nation’s focus is on the retaliation for outing what was bad INTEL. But the real problem, the bigger issue, the lasting mystery, was a policy failure so massive in scope and nature, that even today we have trouble comprehending how it happened.

    FT: You keep on repeating ‘policy failure’. Did you hear the news last week? I heard something about the approval of a new Iraqi constitution? And do you suppose Iraq (or even the US) would be better with Saddam still in power? And your alternative is . . . what?

    BR: Its easier to wrap our little heads around the “bad intel” rationale, then to comprehend the enormity of the failings in so many ways and at the very highest levels.

    FT: Afghanistan is free. Iraq is free. Again, ‘failings’ ? By the way, didn’t more American die on D-Day (to liberate the French!) than in two years in Iraq. ‘Failings’ ? What on earth would you have written on June 7, 1944?

    BR: Had the White House made similar errors in 1939, you would likely be reading this website written in German . . .

    FT: In 1939, Joseph Stalin, half of England, and OVER half of the US made the major error of underestimating Germany. The US didn’t *get it* for over two years AFTER September 1939. I would like to see what your opinion would have been in 1939.

    Please stick with economics. That is a far better subject for you.

  19. ElamBend says:

    D.
    Our world economy thrives on trade, no matter how little or how less consumeristic we are in America. All of your energy related suggestions would in essence be bailing against the tide.
    As for your more social suggestions, I don’t know how to answer. How or how would such things be mandated? I agree that many of them would be good things socially and culturally, but and this is, for sure, the American in me, how I live with my family and friends is no one’s business my ours and vica versa.
    It cannot be legislated. So we must address such things by other means.

  20. D. says:

    ElamBend:

    I agree, our world does thrive on trade but GDP growth does not have to depend on material stuff. Services can also take over.

    America has become rich by being industrious and exploiting its land and resources. This has been changing though. It really looks like America is now exploiting other countries resources and bullying them when things don’t go its way.

    As other countries gain power, they will rebel and do whatever it takes to gain control over their own resources and destiny. Trade will thrive in the future but I’m not too sure how America will fare or all the whole thing will pan out. I can see many conflicts building. There are many tug of wars going on and war is never good for trade because protectionism takes over.

    I also agree that you are free to do whatever you want just as much as the others are free to terrorize you. A lot in the middle east is of America’s own making. The developed world’s materialism, meddling and bullying has helped fuel the conflict in the Middle East.

    We are all sharing the same planet and it’s getting smaller.