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View Diary: Condi Lied: Declassified Memo from Clarke (416 comments)

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  •  Iraq (none)
    The neo-cons' desire to invade Iraq actually lends credence to the claim that they were oblivious, IMO.

    The major failing of neo-realism is the rigidity in thinking that leads you to believe your only threats come from other nation-states:  Al-Qaeda doesn't have an established state or army, so why should we worry about them?  Instead let's focus all of our money and attention into an unproven post-cold war missile defense shield.

    Combine this with poor communication between intelligence agencies and the general incompetence of many of them, I think 9/11 starts to look pretty inevitable.

    Even after 9/11, their focus on nation-states persists.  We have not captured bin-Laden, but have invaded two countries-- the second with virtually zero ties to terrorism.  It's proof enough to me that Bush still can't see that we're fighting a trans-national group, not just the states that "harbor" them.

    "If immortality is found in the absence of time rather than infinite stretches of time, then those who live in the present live forever."

    by WAmod on Thu Feb 10, 2005 at 09:22:25 PM PST

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    •  not buying your argument (3.66)
      here at all: will agree that they are inflexible, but their inflexibility is mostly that they are trigger happy, oil hungry and proactive rather than reactive. The psychic dynamics of the cold warrior were/are hardly as static and bipolar as they would have us believe: it was also a transnational and occasionlly asymmetric war, since at bottom it was "a war on communism" and not just about he USSR: it was a blanket excuse for proxy wars, clandestine narcoparamilitaries, domestic surveillance, etc. The war on terrorism is purposely extended to include "rogue states" like North Korea: not b/c the neocons think N.Korea has anything to do with Islamism, naturally, but because "the war on terror" works better now than the red menace and ups the ante considerably. So where you see a mistaken interpretion I see instead a willful attempt  extend the boundaries of an endless war. More fundamentally, however, things like the "pearl harbor" phrase used by the neocons pre-9/11 should be taken more literally and LESS figuratively according to your neo-realist idea: why the use for a metaphor here? Operation Northwoods shows that the domestic strike approach has been on he table before.    
      •  communism is a bad analogy (none)
        Beyond the obvious fact that no government has ever declared terrorism as their form of government, I have some problems with your analogy.

        Of course you can look at the "war on communism" from a liberal perspective, as you obviously do. I agree with that perspective.

        You can also look at it (as I think the neo-cons would) from a realist perspective-- that communism is only our enemy as it is adopted by nation states.  The Soviet Union, China, and North Korea are all players in the world stage.  These nations are our enemy, not some kind of transnational communist movement.

        The war on terrorism is not purposely extended to DPRK.  The extension the result of a rigid ideology, that focuses on getting alot of mileage from your hammer by making things looks like nails. The neo-cons' main motivation is that they believe America is in danger, and our only course of action against our enemies is through zero-sum relationships with other nation states.  They feel threatened, and are looking for "evil" governments around the world to pin it on, when the actual threat is an amorphic group of  fundamentalists.  I think your DPRK example re-inforces my previous post, not detracts from it.

        And the whole "new Pearl Harbor" thing is also somewhat of a red herring.  No one said "we need a new Pearl Harbor".  They said that the transition to a larger military was likely to be slow in the absence of a catsrophic event.  I think just about every military expert in America would have agreed with that in the late 90's, it doesn't mean they thought a "new Pearl Harbor" was a good idea.  Realims in political science doesn't preclude the use of metaphors as far as I know.

        "If immortality is found in the absence of time rather than infinite stretches of time, then those who live in the present live forever."

        by WAmod on Thu Feb 10, 2005 at 10:03:22 PM PST

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        •  addition (none)
          There's an easy proof to back me up here.  It's 2005, the Repugs have control of Congress and the White House, and they still don't give a shit about terrorism.

          They haven't changed their philosophy at all since 9/11-- just their rhetoric.  They're still focused on states-- Iran, Korea, Syria.  Meanwhile, OBL is still at large, and homeland security is grossly underfunded.  If only we could build a missile defense shield big enough, we'd all be safe again.

          You wouldn't say that they're still ignoring terrorism because they want more justification for further attacks?  

          It's much more likely to me that they're incompetent and bound by their warped perspective.

          "If immortality is found in the absence of time rather than infinite stretches of time, then those who live in the present live forever."

          by WAmod on Thu Feb 10, 2005 at 10:12:25 PM PST

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        •  not sure (none)
          I follow your reasoning at all now.

          Maybe I should back up a bit on this:

          on 1/26/98 a letter addressed to Clinton from the PNAC stated that "removing Saddam Hussein...needs to become the aim of American foreign policy."

          It was signed by 18 prominent neocons, including Wolfowitz, Abrams, Rumsfeld, Perle, Armitage, Woolsey, etc.

          To understand the neocon agenda and how it came to be so pivitol in our current administration one must understand a few things:

          a) the neocons or "vulcans" of Bush's war cabinet are not a historical anomoly, and most of them have worked directly in high levels with the cold war Republican administrations since Nixon: they are, in short, the kernal of the military industrial complex Ike warned about

          b)according to the PNAC doctrine, in order to obtain the objective or removing Saddam Hussein, "the only acceptable strategy is...military action" (from the letter cited above)

          c)in 1997 General Binford Peay 3rd testified before Congress that "America's vital interests in the Central Region [Centcom, roughly the Middle East] are long-standing...with over 65% of the world's oil reserves located in the Gulf states...the international community must have free and unfettered access to the region's resources" echoing the petropoitical background of miltary-enforced access first articulated by Carter in 1980: who designated the secure flow of oil from this region as a "vital interest"

          d)on 10/23/99, GWB spoke at the Citadel in Charleston, SC (my home town), and said: "As President...I will give the Secretary [of Defense] a broad mandate--to challenge the status quo and envision a new architecture of American defense for decades to come"

          e)on 11/13/95 a car bomb in Riyadh exploded ouside the offices of the Military Cooperation Program, a company linked to GHWB And James Baker, killing seven (includng five Americans). The Islamists picked this target and many others (throughout the middle east in the following years) as a symbol of how the ruling powers (in this case, the House of Saud) were puppet regimes for American oil-military interests.

          What do these five seemingly random historical factors hve in common? The answer is that they offer a revealing glimpse, given the context of what we all know, of how a confluence of factors--PNAC influence, the vital interests of oil (and of keeping OPEC pegged to petrodollars and not petroeuros, for instance), the ethos of GWB's military expansionism, the rise of Islamic terrorism directed at the US presence in the region--formed the backdrop in which both the 1993 WTC bombing and 9/11 and much else happened.

          The curious thing is that to me the simplest explanation for 9/11--that something was allowed to happen to fit a long-term agenda--does not necessarily mean that there was not an active and aggressive grup of Islamists who wanted to strike the US in retaliation for what it perceived/perceives as US imperialism in the middle east. That is to say, for a brief moment (9/11) the objectives of both the PNAC and the jihadis coincided. This could be coincidence, it could just be two converging entities on a collision course, or--BASED ON WHAT WE NOW KNOW REGARDING PRIOR WARNINGS--it could be something else.

          Chances are we will never know for sure, but to close out the possibility for good seems to me to be unwise.      

          •  I see what you're saying (none)
            I understand and agree with what you're saying here.  Bush did want to go into Iraq before 9/11.  Many in his cabinet have been salivating over the Middle East for years.  

            I acknowedge that 9/11 gave them pretty much free reign to enact their foreign policy in Iraq and elsewhere.  My point is that allowing 9/11 to happen or actively taking part in it is not the simplest explanation for their actions.  A simpler explanation is that their political ideology leads them to dismiss terrorism on the whole and focus on conventional states.  This ideology, combined with incompetence at the upper levels of the CIA and NSA, explains the administration's actions before the attacks.

            There's evidence that they have not changed their worldview, even after 9/11.  They are still focusing on Iran, DPRK, and Syria.  They have not made significant gains toward finding OBL or preventing further attack on our soil.  They still don't give a shit about terrorism, except as a rhetorical tool to advance their agenda against foreign "evil" nations.

            Their lack of concern with terrorism doesn't indicate to me that they are waiting for another attack so they can go to Iran.  It seems more likely that it's just a flaw in the  way they look at the world.

            "If immortality is found in the absence of time rather than infinite stretches of time, then those who live in the present live forever."

            by WAmod on Thu Feb 10, 2005 at 11:10:46 PM PST

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            •  Simple question (none)
              What, save a Pearl-Harbor-style attack like 9/11, would have enabled the Bush administration (with its PNAC ties, and explicit pre-9/11 desire to invade Iraq) to invade Iraq, to pass the Patriot Act, to establish Homeland Security? Is it possible to imagine how ANY of this could have transpired had 9/11 or something like it never happened? And if 9/11 had never happened, would these trigger-happy PNAC cold warrior hawks simply have abandoned their aims for a war entirely? The question is really how badly they wanted it (my answer is pretty badly), and what lengths (my answer is pretty far) they were willing to go? But there can be no denying that there is motive, that there is context, that there is pretext. Smoking gun proof? Perhaps not, but motive? Plenty.    
              •  hindsight and motivation (none)
                See my post [here ] on this same topic.

                  There was an excerpt from a book by a former admin official (I forget who) that described Bush's behavior right after 9/11.  Apparently, he was flustered and asking his analysts, who by then realized what had happened, whether they were absolutely sure it wasn't Saddam Hussein behind this whole thing.

                Of course, it could have been just a clever ploy on Bush's part.  But I tend to think it was a genuine feeling of his at the time.  He was, and still is, so focused on Iraq that he either lacks the capacity to recognize other potential threats, or simply doesn't care.

                Take little pieces of information from the real world and use them to bolster your neo-con fantasy constructions, while at the same time ignoring everything that doesn't fit.  It's the Bush admin's MO, and not just in foreign policy but domestic issues as well.

                52 FAA warnings?  Osama bin Who?  Whatever, we have to get these missile shields up before Saddam gets the bomb.  There's still work to be done is Afghanistan?  No way, Saddam is the real threat-- he tried to kill my pappy.

                And so on.  I wouldn't believe someone could be so stubbornly wrong if I hadn't seen the last 4 year with mine own two eyes.

                Maybe you disagree with my educated guessing about how Bush assesses and reacts to information.  But I think Bush's incompetence is an easy conclusion to draw and goes a long way towards explaining how 9/11 could have possibly happened.

                "If immortality is found in the absence of time rather than infinite stretches of time, then those who live in the present live forever."

                by WAmod on Tue Feb 15, 2005 at 05:18:19 PM PST

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