Wednesday, September 27, 2006

The NIE, the Iraq war and the "fueling" of terrorism 

I have not written about the leaked National Intelligence Estimate and the related claims that the Iraq war has resulted in the "fueling" terrorism because I have been too busy, and will remain too busy at least through tomorrow. Glenn has a few useful links, as does Power Line. As usual, Andy McCarthy, who has been a machine lately, has a particularly creative take.

Perhaps I will dig into this story later in the week. Until then, may I offer a few quick comments in no particular order.

Since when are National Intelligence Estimates reliable, especially with regard to Iraq? They are always hedged and chronically emphasize the wrong material, so they are put to political or argumentative ends. If NIEs are as authoritative as critics of the Bush administration seem to be suggesting, then there is nothing left of the claim that Bush "lied" to get us into the Iraq war. His arguments about Iraq's WMD came right out of the 2002 National Intelligence Estimate on that subject.

More substantively, we -- by which I mean anybody who has read any military history -- know that we are creating more terrorists. All escalations -- and Iraq and Afghanistan were escalations by the United States -- cause the enemy to recruit more soldiers. That does not mean that the enemy's strategic position is improved. Germany had more men under arms in 1943 than in 1940, but its strategic position had not improved, it had worsened.

Now, you would say that Germany's strategic position in 1943 had worsened because the United States and the Soviet Union were then fighting against Germany. In other words, as fast as Germany was able to put men under arms, its enemies (the Allies) put even more men into battle.

In the present conflict, as fast as al Qaeda and affiliated groups have been able to recruit people, many more soldiers have entered the fight against it. Yes, some Iraqi Sunni Arabs have entered on al Qaeda's side, and some Muslims elsewhere have been polarized into the terrorist camp. Blowback, however, goes in both directions. Since the invasion of Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Jordan and the Shiites of Iraq have entered the fight on our side, not because they like us -- they don't -- but because they have been forced to choose. Hundreds of thousands of Arab soldiers and police and intelligence officers are today hunting al Qaeda when in 2003 they were neutral, or trying to act as though they were. In all likelihood, the enemies of the jihadis have increased their numbers even faster than the jihad. The pool of neutrals is shrinking, and of these newly polarized people, more are joining the fight against the jihad than on its behalf.

MORE: I excerpted a relevant Stratfor analysis here.


By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Sep 27, 08:19:00 AM:

This is an excellent post and I agree with its assessment, but it misses the point of the NIE leaks.

The leaking and publishing of selected portions of the NIE was solely an act of political warfare. The reliablility of the NIE is irrelevant. It doesn't matter whether what was leaked was true, it only matters whether it contributes to the larger objective, which is to de-legitimize the campaign in Iraq.

Yes we need to debunk the inaccurate claims, but we have to assume that the next attack in the Left's de-legitimization campaign is being prepared. Our challenge is to shift from always being reactive to being proactive. We need to wage a counter-delegitimization campaign against the Left.  

By Blogger Daniel DiRito, at Wed Sep 27, 11:08:00 AM:

As we approach the midterm election, it is safe to conclude that little focus will be given to these realities and their eventual resolution...other than the GOP arguing that we cannot cut and run and the Democrats contending that the existing course of action is an unmitigated failure. I understand the partisan nature of politics but I can't help but look for reasonable alternatives that might succeed.

I contend that the Iraqi conflict, as well as the prevailing Middle East tensions, will be lessened in equal proportion to the success we achieve in providing for a Palestinian state. Given that the NIE assessment posits that, "If democratic reform efforts in Muslim majority nations progress over the next five years, political participation probably would drive a wedge between intransigent extremists and groups willing to use the political process to achieve their local objectives", then it would be reasonable to conclude that any progress with the Palestinian issue will greatly enhance the speculative potentiality of the NIE report. Absent the Palestinian effort, I'm of the opinion that the NIE timeframe is overly optimistic and dependent upon a relatively static progression without the prevalence of unforeseen events and escalations...which seems unlikely at best.

Frankly, I doubt that the existing Republican approach or the alternative of withdrawal supported by a number Democrats will serve to alleviate the existing conditions and bring relative stability to the troubled region. Neither approach has the wherewithal to alter the prevailing sentiment. Conversely, a voluntary effort that would demonstrate our ability to discern the profound importance of a successful Palestinian state would, in my opinion, yield exponential goodwill. Given the current conditions, such an effort has little risk.

Read more here:


By Blogger jpe, at Wed Sep 27, 08:41:00 PM:

Bush's lie wasn't in relying on the NIEs, but in misrepresenting the strength of the case (see, eg: providing a version of the NIE to the senate scrubbed of information that undermined his case for war).

In other words, his release of this NIE is just more of the same.  

By Blogger Cassandra, at Thu Sep 28, 02:05:00 AM:

Phil, that was an extremely astute comment, sad to say.

I agree with TH's assessment of the reality of the situation, but perception
is reality for too many people.  

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