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May 18, 2006

Comments

Davebo

The question I have is why is this published on Harper's blog and not in the magazine itself?

Craig

A number of current and former intelligence officials have told me that the administration's war on internal dissent has crippled the CIA's ability to provide realistic assessments from Iraq.

That almost makes it sound as if there was a time when the CIA provided good intelligence on Iraq, no?

Craig

The New York Times and others have reported that in 2003, the CIA station chief in Baghdad authored several special field reports that offered extremely negative assessments of the situation on the ground in Iraq—assessments that later proved to be accurate.

Is the job of the CIA to provide negative assessments, without offering solutions?

We had a lot of neagtive assessments of Al Qaeda in the years before September 11th too, you know. If that's all teh CIA does, we don't need a CIA. Assessments are fine, but the purpose of gathering intelligence is so that something can actually be DONE about problems.

No Preference

Craig, the CIA's first responsibility is to provide accurate assessments, negative or not. No solution can be built on inaccurate assessments.

In Iraq we can clearly see what happens when the truth is rejected by policymakers. How closely does the scene in Iraq correspond to what we were promised by the architects of this war?

Craig

No Pref,

I don't actually recall being promised any specific results from the invasion of Iraq. And I do recall a lot of dire predictions (on the news) that Iraq would disintegrate into civil war. For a long time it seemed like those predictions weren't going to come true.

A lot of mistakes (in my opinion) have been made in Iraq. But nobody predicted the current state of affairs. I'm not defending teh Bush admin on Iraq, of been complaining about it myself. But the CIA has been hosed for decades, and I just flat don't believe that the problems in the CIA are because the Bush admin has been interfering with them.

No Preference

You're living in some alternate universe.

There were definite predictions made about Iraq. We were going to be down to 30,000 troops after one year (Rumsfeld). Iraq's oil revenues would pay for the entire war (Wolfowitz).

The media supported the war and raised very few questions. There were those (me, for instance) who predicted that this would be a disaster.

I'll tell you something else, BTW. If we continue on our current course then we will have that full-blown confrontation with Muslims worldwide. If we continue what we're doing our power and standing in the world will drop precipitously - a process that has already started and will be obvious to all in 15 years.

Barry Meislin

And yet....

Craig

You're living in some alternate universe.

You couldn't just state your opinion without insulting me personally, could you? :o

I'll ignore it. I suppose that must be what you're used to.

The "promises" you reference look trivial to me. I thought you were talking about promises about Iraq's future. And neither of those things looks like a "promise" anyway.

The media supported the war and raised very few questions.

Congress, the Senate, and the American people also supported the war. BTW, I'm not sure what "questions" you expected the media to raise? The actual combat operations went much more qucikly and smoothly than anyone in the press predicted, including the pundits. I recall predictions that it was going to be a disaster because we weren't invading with enough troops, actually. Did you predict Iraq's military and/or Government would collapse so rapidly? If not, why not? You seem to be an expert. If so, can you point me to the dated prediction?

There were those (me, for instance) who predicted that this would be a disaster.

Really, now. You predicted that things in Iraq would go the way they have gone? Or, just a general "disaster" maybe? The two things aren't really the same, by the way.

I predicted that the people who opposed the War in Iraq with such venom would only be happy when Iraq was a hell hole.

Looks like I was right too.

upyernoz

hey craig, how do you reconcile this:

"And I do recall a lot of dire predictions (on the news) that Iraq would disintegrate into civil war."

with this:

A lot of mistakes (in my opinion) have been made in Iraq. But nobody predicted the current state of affairs."

both lines were taken from the same comment you made above.

i mean, you admit people predicted a descent into civil war. what is happening now (sectarian violence, lack of security throughout the country, regional independence movements) is a descent into civil war. so how can you say no one predicted this?

a sunni insurgency started by former baathist, the arrival of jihadist into iraq, separatist kurds, and shia demanding the right to rule is exactly what i and many others predicted before the war. and at the time, we were dismissed as pessimistic or unpatriotic (usually both). hell, even american intelligence agencies predicted a large-scale insurgency. and yet they were ignored too

it's remarkable how you can maintain the "no one foresaw a disaster in iraq" line when, right from the start, both the anti-war crowd and intelligence agencies were issuing warnings about this precise situation.

I predicted that the people who opposed the War in Iraq with such venom would only be happy when Iraq was a hell hole.

actually, you've been proven wrong. if i were happy with iraq being a hell-hole i would be happy about the current state of iraq. on the contary, i am quite upset with how things are in iraq. that's why i am bothering to argue about it now. even moreso because the current state was easily foreseeable and my own country's fault

besides (and it seems like i have to bring up this point every single time i argue with a pro-war person), its no use basing your argument on what goes on inside my head. if that's what your point comes down to (that liberals want us to lose in iraq), then you will lose the argument. the bottom line is that liberals have a better idea what goes on in their own head than you do. we simply have better access. you really should choose your battles better.

Craig

Gee, upyernoz, you're reminding me why I've been planning on taking this blog off my bookmarks since the last time I tried to engage ina discussion here. Thanks.

Anyway,

hey craig, how do you reconcile this:

I reconciled those two statements in the comment you quoted (out of context) from. Re-read it if you wish, but I'm not going to explain a "contradiction" that you fabricated for me. You put words in my mouth and then expect me to defend things I never said? Pfffttt.

i mean, you admit people predicted a descent into civil war.

No. The word I used was "disintegrate" - it's right there, in the part you quoted. The word YOU used is "descent" - the predictions were that Iraq would be in a state of civil war the moment Saddam was out of power.

Those predictions were false.

I'm not going to bother with the rest of what you wrote. You fight dirty. I don't read blogs to trade insults with people.

upyernoz

You put words in my mouth and then expect me to defend things I never said? Pfffttt.

um, i was quoting you.

No. The word I used was "disintegrate" - it's right there, in the part you quoted. The word YOU used is "descent" - the predictions were that Iraq would be in a state of civil war the moment Saddam was out of power

re: "disintegrate"

"descend" is the path to "disintegration." get it? it's a metaphor. disintegration is the bottom, stability is the top. by "decending into civil war" i'm saying it's on the road to disintegration.

re: "the moment Saddam was out of power"

now who's putting words in who's mouth? that's not what i thought would happen. nor do i remember anyone predicting a "disintegration" immediately after saddam left power. at best, people predicted that his removal would lead to a breakup of the country. and that is hardly off the table right now (i actually think it's unlikely in the short term, though a defacto partition has already kind of happened between the kurdish area and the rest of the country).

immediate disintegration may have been what you had in mind when you poo-pood the critics back in 02 and 03, but i don't think that's what we had in mind. maybe you should have listened to us a little closer.

I'm not going to bother with the rest of what you wrote. You fight dirty. I don't read blogs to trade insults with people.

i'm confused. how did i fight dirty? i reread my earlier comments and saw no name calling, or the like. i didn't try to insult you at all. i don't even see anything i wrote that could be unintentionally taken as an insult. why does it count as "fighting dirty" when i simply tell you that i know what i want to happen in iraq more than you do? that's not dirty, it's common sense. at least i think so. please explain why i'm wrong

Craig

upyernoz, you don't get to change my statements for me and then demand that I defend things I never said. That's about the cheapist and nastiest "debating" tactic there is. It's also a tactic that's used by sleazy journalists a lot, which may be why you think it's OK.

I'm just telling you, I DO NOT think it's OK.

upyernoz

what did i change? i quoted you.

sure, i used the word "descend" and not "disintegrate", but i tried to explain that above. (short version: "descend" is the route to "disintegration"). now either you buy my explanation or not. but you can't spin this into me "chang[ing] your statement" without at least making an attempt to argue that my explanation doesn't work.

but you're not explaining anything. it looks to me like you're just trying to avoid the discussion.

Davebo

"The "promises" you reference look trivial to me. "

So the differences between a self funding reconstruction and a reconstruction costing tens of billions of US taxpayer dollars is "trivial"?

Wow.

the aardvark

why do these comment section skirmishes seem to break out only on the weekends when I'm away from the blog? oh well...

Craig

So the differences between a self funding reconstruction and a reconstruction costing tens of billions of US taxpayer dollars is "trivial"?

What "reconstruction" are you talking about? Are you seeing something I'm not!?

And that's why I think those "promises" were trivial. The number of troops required to garrison Iraq or the amount of money the rebuilding is going to cost is completely irrelevant, because things never got to that stage. And they may never. There's a pretty good chance all that money got flushed down the toilet, and there's a pretty good chance there won't be any US troops in Iraq in the near future. Lives are more important than money, and mission success is more important than keeping troop levels low. All the pissing and complaining about these minor issues may have contributed to the sorry state of affairs right now, for all I know. Iraqis and AMericans both would be a lot better off if people had just been keeping their eye on the ball instead of looking for people to blame, the last 3 years.

upyernoz

why do these comment section skirmishes seem to break out only on the weekends when I'm away from the blog?

two theories:

(1) ya gotta keep us entertained or else we get bored and start arguing to pass the time

(2) when you say you're going away cowardly critics come out of the woodwork, thinking this is their chance to take cheap shots without an aardvark response. which is why when i try to engage them they cry and accuse me of being mean.

maybe it's a combination of the two.

Craig

Nose dude,

(2) when you say you're going away cowardly critics come out of the woodwork

I was in this thread before you were. Really! It's right there on the top of your screen! Scroll up and take a look. Furthermore, I posted that 2 days ago... pretty sure you're claiming I'm pyschic or something, and knew Abu Aardvark was going to take announce a break, 2 days before he did?

thinking this is their chance to take cheap shots without an aardvark response.

Pfffttt. Don't be such a baby. You tried to cheat and got caught. Deal with it. You could try actually discussing the issues with people, instead of twisting people's words around and trying to manipulate their responses.

which is why when i try to engage them they cry and accuse me of being mean.

Mean? I'm pretty sure my accusation was more along the lines that you were a dirtbag, rather than that you were mean :P

If you want to see mean, I could probably show you. I have a notoriously bad temper, and I'm pretty good at insulting people. Is that what you want? Of course, I couldn't do it properly until I researched you a bit and learned how to push your buttons, but I bet I could make you wish you never started reading blogs, if I wanted to.

Is that what you're looking for? Because I've been seriously working on trying to treat people better than I used to. Maybe I could make an exception in your case, though. What blogs do you hang out on? I'll get started right away.

upyernoz

craig,

you can't keep accusing me of cheating when you won't explain how i cheated. nor have you ever explained why the following paragraph was too unfair for you to reply to:

it's no use basing your argument on what goes on inside my head. if that's what your point comes down to (that liberals want us to lose in iraq), then you will lose the argument. the bottom line is that liberals have a better idea what goes on in their own head than you do. we simply have better access. you really should choose your battles better.

i've tried asking you about that and what you mean about "twisting your words" a couple of times now and you just refuse to explain. instead you prefer to call me a big meanie-head or dirt-bag or whatever. (and you say i fight dirty!)

which is why i find it so entertaining that you're accusing me of "fighting dirty" and not trying to engage in a real debate.

once again, for whatever reason (maybe i'm too dumb or just too consumed with meanness/dirtbaginess to understand), but i do not get how you reconcile those two sentences i originally asked you about without twisting what anti-war people were saying in 2003 into some unrecognizable parody of itself. if you want to engage in a reasonable debate, let's start over. why not try to explain where i went wrong without throwing up the "you don't want to debate" line ever 20 seconds.

you're wrong. i do want to debate. you're just acting as if you want to put on a show of being the reasonable one, while at the same time dodging my questions.

you asked what i want... that's what i want. a friendly debate. i challenge you to reread my first comment (before you suddenly got all huffy on me) and show me where exactly i stepped over the line.

Davebo

" Iraqis and AMericans both would be a lot better off if people had just been keeping their eye on the ball instead of looking for people to blame, the last 3 years."

Ah yes. The clap louder theory.

Well...For all you know...

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