Wednesday, November 19, 2008

More Fun With Condi And "The Old Gray Lady"

This is a follow up to this prior post about the feature article in last Sunday’s New York Times Magazine, in which Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and three others reporting to her were questioned by Times reporters Helene Cooper and Scott L. Malcomson.

Basically, I have some issues with Madame Secretary’s answers – continuing…

We have said to Iran that this is about changing your regime’s behavior, not changing your regime. That has been the message all along.
I will give Rice credit here for being definitely less hawkish than the neocons, but for her to deny that Bushco has never had any thoughts on military action against Iran is a fantasy; as noted here, Sy Hersh of The New Yorker documented how our “good friends” the Israelis were helped Dubya and Deadeye Dick “stovepipe intelligence” in anticipation of military conflict by providing evidence of Iran’s development of a “trigger for a bomb” two years ago.

(I’m not arguing that Iran isn’t a threat, by the way, but mainly pointing out that this followed the same pattern as the runup to the Iraq war, particularly when you add the Kyl-Lieberman Amendment to the mix.)


If (the so-called “Responsibility To Protect”) turns out to be nothing but words, the Security Council is going to have a real black eye, and in the Darfur case it has turned out to be nothing but words. I think it has been an enormous embarrassment for the Security Council and for multilateral diplomacy.
I think there’s a lot of truth in that, but the following should be noted from here also…

It has taken President George W Bush nearly three years to match his impassioned rhetoric about what he decries as genocide in Darfur with tougher US action against some of those blamed for the suffering. When Bush announced sanctions on Tuesday, advocacy groups and lawmakers wished the president had been harsher and wondered whether it was a case of too little, too late for Darfur. The violence has killed 200,000 people and forced 2.5 million more from their homes since it began in February 2003.
And to argue that the Iraq war had nothing to do with our decision not to commit troops to Darfur is an utter fantasy.

And finally, here comes probably the most boneheaded remark of the entire piece (appropriately enough, by Daniel Fried again, at the very end)…

Do you think Bush expected 9/11? No. Did Clinton expect Bosnia? No. Man makes his plans; God has his own.
As much as I read and re-read that, I’m still having a difficult time with my thoughts of utter disgust and revulsion.

As noted here, in March of 1999, Bill Clinton prodded NATO into a bombing campaign against what was once Yugoslavia and Serbian thug Slobodan Milosevic, which unleashed the disintegration of that country into Serbia and Montenegro as a result of a brutal domestic uprising.

You can argue that Clinton and Secretary of State Madeleine Albright’s actions were ham-handed stemming from the so-called Dayton Accords of 1995, which some argue was a pretext for Clinton and NATO to flex their muscle against Milosevic. However, Milosevic’s troops in Bosnia were committing acts of genocide, and Clinton believed he had to act; he had already acknowledged that he was wrong not to intervene in a similar crisis in Rwanda earlier in his presidency.

Also, you could forget about further U.S. troops in the region, since we already had about 20,000 there at the time, and without the bombings, the only other alternative was to send more troops (can you say, “Vietnam”?).

And by the way, here’s something else to consider: brutal as it was, the bombing worked, and (with the help of Russian diplomacy), the Serbs withdrew, with no further U.S. casualties (here).

Simply stated, Clinton made a controversial calculation that achieved the “least worst” result possible (and let’s not forget that this little matter was playing out at the same time).

And to compare any of that to 9/11? To compare any of that to the utter horror and chaos precipitated by the fact that this bunch utterly ignored the warnings from Richard Clarke, among others, to pay attention to al Qaeda?

There’s a lot of old history that I could rehash here, but I’ll merely point out the following from this article in The Nation…

The various accounts offered by the White House are almost all inconsistent with one another. On December 4, 2001, Bush was asked, "How did you feel when you heard about the terrorist attack?" Bush replied, "I was sitting outside the classroom waiting to go in, and I saw an airplane hit the tower--the TV was obviously on. And I used to fly myself, and I said, well, there's one terrible pilot. I said, it must have been a horrible accident. But I was whisked off there. I didn't have much time to think about it." Bush repeated the same story on January 5, 2002, stating, "First of all, when we walked into the classroom, I had seen this plane fly into the first building. There was a TV set on. And you know, I thought it was pilot error, and I was amazed that anybody could make such a terrible mistake...."

This is false. Nobody saw the jetliner crash into the first tower on television until a videotape surfaced a day later. What's more, Bush's memory not only contradicts every media report of that morning, it also contradicts what he said on the day of the attack. In his speech to the nation that evening, Bush said, "Immediately following the first attack, I implemented our government's emergency response plans." Again, this statement has never been satisfactorily explained. No one besides Bush has ever spoken of these "emergency plans," and the mere idea of their implementation is contradicted by Bush's claim that at the time, he believed the crash to have been a case of pilot error.
The events leading up to the Bosnia bombing were premeditated by a president with a particular outcome that was largely realized. The events of 9/11 showed a president who was absolutely befuddled and overmatched by horrific events that possibly could have been mitigated or even prevented with a minimum of diligence or forethought (yes, it’s true that I’ll never know if I’m right, but I’ll never know if I’m wrong either).

I only know that if Daniel Fried really believes what he says, then he has absolutely no business serving this country in any diplomatic capacity whatsoever.

Update 11/23/08: And speaking of Richard Clarke, he had what I believe were some interesting words on the latest Zawahri tape here (tied to this post, the third item in particular).


section9 said...

Much of what Richard Clarke writes is self-serving horseshit. The man is always a hero in his histories of 9/11. All you have to do is look at who was the consultant to that awful "Path to 9/11" film.

The President and Rice understood that Al Qaeda was a threat going in. Far from ignoring it, they planned to invade Afghanistan to deal with it. The Afghanistan War Plan was in Rice's in-box on 9/11.
That fact is testament to the fact that not only did Al Qaeda have the initiative, it had strategic surprise.

Liberals don't get that the enemy gets a vote. You believe, and have believed since that time, that Rice and others "allowed" 9/11 to happen. This is typical of liberals who believe that memos and pieces of paper can stop men in caves who practice fifth generation warfare and compartmentalization of information and communications. Even Richard Clarke had to admit at the 9/11 hearings that had all his warnings been heeded, AQ probably could not have been stopped.

He had to admit this because of one thing: even he understood, as Rice did, that we never had decent intelligence about Al Qaeda. The CIA, hobbled and halfwitted, had no Arabic or Pashtu speakers in country. Most of its field agents lived in cul-de-sacs in Suitland, Maryland, as they had throughout the 1990's. This is not a partisan point, and had nothing to do with Clinton or Bush. Rather, the American people have been poorly served by a 65 billion dollar a year white elephant of an intelligence agency that failed in its core competency of protecting and getting advance warning of a threat against the American homeland.

George "Hair on Fire" Tenet had no idea what was coming. Neither did the rest of the CIA. That famous August 6th PDB that Democrats like to go on about was as pathetic a piece of work as has ever been produced by the Agency: its most recent intelligence was from 1999. But in the aftermath of the attack, the Agency succeeded in getting the politicians in both parties to attack each other and not investigate why the Agency failed to protect the people.

Here's the issue for Liberals: as long as you accept the flawed Clarke Narrative, you'll refuse to go in and reform the CIA. It's your government now. Obama owns the intelligence. He's getting the same second rate, half-witted performance that Rice received. Only you can't go running around and blame Republicans when the next disaster strikes, because you'll have refused to make the necessary reforms and clean the necessary stables to make sure that a President Obama is getting good intelligence.

You'll see how bad the CIA is when the Iranians test their first nuclear device without warning. Only there won't be any Republicans to blame.

Don't say you weren't warned.

Oh, lastly, about Darfur. As we have won the war in Iraq cleaning up the Genocidal regime of Saddam Hussein, why aren't you asking the question of why the Germans couldn't dispatch the Fallschrimjager or the French the Legion? They're NATO. What are they, helpless? Or do those governments have backroom deals with the Sudanese junta the same way they did with Saddam?

doomsy said...

I’m not in a position to critique the work of Richard Clarke. All I know is that he served four presidents, including three Republicans, and when talk surfaced for a time that Rice could end up as McCain’s running mate, that was something Clarke wanted because it would mean an exchange with her over how Dubya handled al Qaeda in a public forum. And the only thing I know about Clarke and that awful “Path to 9/11” propaganda show on the Mickey Mouse Network is that he thoroughly decried the made-up scene where Sandy Berger supposedly passed on attacking bin Laden.

And I know what you think of Clarke, but he claimed that, in January 2001, he sent Rice a memo called “Strategy for Eliminating The Threat of al Qaeda,” but because Bush had downgraded counterterrorism from a cabinet-level job, Clarke had to deal with deputy secretaries instead, including at-that-time Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, who didn’t get around to even acknowledging Clarke until April, and when he did, Wolfowitz said Iraq was more of a threat. This led to more foot-dragging until July, when Wolfowitz and the other deputies had a proposal, which was basically the same one Clarke presented to Rice in January. And because of vacations, the first meeting on al Qaeda didn’t take place until around Labor Day.

As I said, would al Qaeda have been stopped if everyone were doing their job? Nobody knows one way or the other, and it sounds like Clarke acknowledged that also.

I’ll tell you what, though; if you don’t like Clarke, fine. Listen to Paul Bremer, of all people, who actually got this right before he screwed up Iraq; in February 2001, when Bremer was executive director of the Hart-Rudman Commission, he offered to brief Bush and Cheney on terror threats, but he was denied, leading Bremer to say at that time, “What they will do is stagger along until there’s a major incident, and then suddenly say, Oh, my God, shouldn’t we be organized to deal with this?”

And by the way, concerning what you call a “pathetic piece of work” (the 8/6/01 PDB), it reported the following: “patterns of suspicious activity in this country consistent with preparations for hijackings or other types of attacks, including recent surveillance of federal buildings in New York.” That doesn’t sound very “pathetic” to me – it sounds prescient as hell.

And you think Tenet “had no idea of what was coming”? That’s interesting, because I suppose then that J. Cofer Black, Tenet’s counterterrorism chief, didn’t know either, since they both warned Rice in July of that very possibility (with Rummy thinking all of the “noise” that Tenet rightly thought was trouble was merely “a grand deception”).

So that means Clarke, Tenet, Bremer and Black didn’t know what they’re talking about, but you and Rice do? Color me skeptical on that one.

And concerning Iraq, Gen. Petraeus has defined “victory” as “an Iraq that is at peace with itself, at peace with its neighbors, that has a government that is representative of — and responsive to — its citizenry and is a contributing member of the global community." Pretty reasonable barometers, I must say – and did I mention that 58 people were killed in bombings last week (with the usual denials about violence returning and insurgents staging a comeback from our military officials)?

Also, concerning Darfur, I don’t care about Germany and France – I already admitted that the UN shares a big amount of the blame and Rice was partly correct. And I’ll make sure I blame Obama if any other catastrophes take place because Undersecretaries of Defense in his administration harangued CIA operatives into providing phony intel, as that useless waste Douglas Feith did before we invaded Iraq (though I’m sure Obama will have the good sense not to allow someone like Feith within miles of the Pentagon).