Unrequired Reading

Powell: His devastating critique of President Bush's Iraq adventure is scheduled to be published in 2010: Just in time

Nixon: Foreign Affairs will publish his critique of the 2007 Iran War (via Bill Safire): Inquiring minds want to know

My good friends at the Stop The Spirit Of Zossen weren't very impressed with what Washington wonks consider now to be "must-reading," Paul Pillar's critique of the misuse of intelligence to drum support for the Iraq war which was published in the new issue of Foreign Affairs. Here are the wise words of Dr. Strauss:
The Paul Pillar piece from Foreign Affairs is one of the most aggravating items the Stiftung has read recently. Pendantic and unconsciously retro, it arrives and lands like a wet noodle thrown against a wall, only to slither and slink to the floor.
So what? News to Mr. Pillar — we know this. We have known this for 3 years.
The problem with Pillar and the rest of the pre-2003 Intelligence Community hunkering down trying to survive is that they cling to the notion of an intelligence product cycle and policy maker resting on a shared value system of liberal democractic (small 'd') empirical rationality. Pillar assumes “this is the way it is supposed to be” like the sun rising in the East.
Pillar does not understand that he and this mindset represents the ultimate enemy of the Administration within the government. Pillar is an iconic stand in for the unconscious Rationalist, assuming that liberal democratic empiricism and belief in rationality is “the way the world works.”
This is an ideological regime. Committed to revolution here at home and abroad. And it is determined to destroy and uproot liberal democratic empiricism to be replaced by Belief, Authority, Hierarchy and Obediance. Welcome Mr. Pillar to the Counter Enlightenment. Why he expects the intelligence community to escape this revolutionary ideology escapes us.
If the Stiftung is harsh on Pillar, it is not that we don't agree with his dry recital of how the intelligence cycle was designed to function in an empirical, rational world. That cycle, while never perfect, represented an idealized state worthy of striving. But we are fighting off an ideological assault on the foundations of our society, Mr. Pillar — this is more than about the intelligence product cycle. To the extent Pillar helps the 4 people left in the world who actually read Foreign Affairs and don't know already what he is saying, it is, as the Kool Kids say, “all good.”
But we as a Nation are long are past the crisis of what he describes. Our issue is how to confront and stop a regime here at home committed to dismantling centuries of commitment to empiricism and rationality. Particularly when the Administration has radicalized and mobilized the dormant and latent irrationality and bigotry of a substantial portion of the Republican base captured by “Movement” adherents. For Pillar to appear in 2006 and tell us the Adminsitration used and uses intelligence for AgitProp deserves a “Hello McFly??!” rap on his forehead.
Count us underwhelmed. Too little, too late.


I actually read Foreign Affairs (as opposed to displaying it on my desk) and, in fact, the "pretigious" and you-can't-invade-a-country-without-it foreign policy magazine published a few years ago an article which I authored What Green Peril (and you cannot imagine how my "colleagues" in Washington and the academic community were jealous... I really enjoyed that part), as well as good reviews of my two books,Sandstorm: Policy Failure in the Middle East andQuagmire: America in the Middle East. But I wish they'll start providing more space to some more original and exciting stuff on Iraq and related issues as opposed to recycled material (like Pillar's) or analysis by people-we-all-thought-were-already-dead.


Gothamimage said…
I think Tom Friedman was the one who used to speak of "Colin Powell's eyebrows," being raised from time to time, to indicate his sotto voce opposition from withing the belly of the beast, the very policy he was (perhaps painfully?) defending on TV.

This must have cause Powell anxiety. He and Wilkerson are sad.

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