A former State Department bigwig unloads. - Quite a read!

I think the point was that the intelligence vetting system was so closed up by the neocon-Cheney-Rumsfeld cabal along with a compliant CIA director that even people in the know were getting lied to and (to some extent) lying to themselves. Beyond this was the point that Saddam tried to (and succeeded quite well) in making people (esp the Iranians) think he had all sorts of WMD poised and ready to go. 9/11 was a near term memory at that point and even those who knew better weren’t pounding on the Oval Office door very hard because they only had a piece of the puzzle and weren’t (and couldn’t be) sure Saddam didn’t have WMDs.

Everything we know now about how this went down, and assuredly with more to come later, points to a confluence of

1: An angry President looking for an excuse to hit terrorists and Iraq (if possible)
2: Neocons plugged into the highest levels of executive decision making (ie Cheney -Rusmfeld) looking for an excuse to restructure the Middle East political landscape and make Israel more secure
3: Administration flunkies and department heads looking to cozy up to the president instead of giving objective advice (Rice-Tenet et al)
4: Ex-patriot Iraqi political connivers & con men looking for their best re-entry strategy
5: A compliant press supporting a wartime President
6: A belligerent dictator who had frustrated the US for years faking everyone out
7: Incredibly poor quality &/or lack of intelligence and lack of coordination between intelligence agencies

Someday, when most of the pieces of the puzzle come together this will make for a fascinating history lecture.

On this board, there are people who are clearly Right of center or who actually vote Republican most of the time who spoke out with concerns about the invasion of Iraq. There are also people on this board who supported the war and who have withdrawn that support as more information has been discovered.

It really does this discussion no good to start throwing vague shots at participants on this board for perceived failings, using such a broad brush that the innocent, the guilty, and the uninvolved are all splattered with tar. Unless someone ventures into this thread with a specific opinion or opposing claim, let’s leave all the “those people” references for some other thread, perhaps in the Pit.

Two quibbles:

Bush was looking for an excuse to invade Iraq even before he was elected president (partly because of Wolfowitz’s term paper and partly, perhaps?, out of a sense of restoring his dad’s honor).

Rumsfeld is not really a neo-con. Rumsfeld is a team player with enough force to get things done (although sufficiently ham-handed to get things done poorly). Reading the punditry on Rumsfeld in the summer ofd 2001 provides an interesting view of the man, along with some possible reasons why he has been willing to be the flag-bearer for so much of the administrtation’s idiocy.

As well, I am very troubled by the whole “Israel connection” theme that threads its way through all of this. As much as I sincerely admire Israeli tenacity, spunk, and enthusiastic practice of democracy (which borders on the anarchic), I worry that while we are her best friend, she is her own best friend as well.

All true, however experienced officials knew, or should have known, that the decision making process had been short circuited. They also knew, or should have known, of GW’s unblemished record of lack of accomplishment and his unwillingness to engage in detailed investigation. I knew it and I am out in left field.

Colin Powell certainly had no need to worry about his career or what he would do if he weren’t Secretary of State. And Scowcroft had no such concerns either. I don’t know anything about Wilkerson but by the time you get to his level you are well enough established that an alternative to your present career isn’t that difficult to find. Of course there is that filthy rodent Karl Rove and his defamation machine …

Yes, there is the value of being in a position of power is a better place to correct things that go awry, or keep them from it, but Powell didn’t do anything until long after he was no longer an insider. Scowcroft was never in an inside position and so was free to point out deficiencies in the “barbarians are at the gates” claim.

Powell was possibly tied up by his military training. Argue like hell while the plan is being formulated, but once the general says " This is what we’ll do." you start figuring out “how” and not “whether.”

Given GW’s record in the business world, coupled with the fact that the UN inspectors were finding no evidence of any of the claimed weapons, and the tie with Al Qaeda was hogwash, I never doubted my view that the attack on Iraq was completely unjustified.

Rush Limbaugh has, on many occasions, stated that he once worked for the Kansas City Royals. That is, in fact, true.

You’ve asked this very same question before. I’d like to answer as I should have answered then:

Is Israel America’s best friend? On a grassroot level, absolutely. You won’t find a group of people who like and respect America - and all it stands for - more than my countrymen.On the political level… I fdon’t know how politicians think, butI can tell you that in this part of the world friendship is everything, and we don’t turn our backs on our friends. Can America say the same?

So is Israel Israel’s best friend? Certainly, just as I hope America is America’s best friend. Nations should act out of enlightened self interest, and those that don’t tend to scare me. Just remember - having trustworthy friends is always in your best interest.

I have to add something, though. Not all those who claim to act in Israel’s best interest actually ask Israel if we need or even want their help. Just look at those who now want to declare war on Syria, in part in order to protect my country. Did they ever stop to wonder that we might prefer a weak yet stable Syria under Bashar Assad, over another Iraq across our northern border? We could have “regime-changed” Damascus at our pleasure, at any point over the past 20 years. The fact that we didn’t should be a hint to all those starry-eyed neo-cons out there.

To be fair to Scowcroft, he came out against invading Iraq at the appropriate time:

Wilkerson, OTOH, came a bit late to the idea of being true to his country rather than his President. Scalding as his criticism may be, it arrived a year too late to make a difference.

Who rules your country - elected politicians or bureaucrats? Politicians should dictate the what; it’s up to the bureaucrats to determine the how. A bureaucrat who wants to dictate the what should go and get herself elected.

And yes, I’ve worked in government.

There is little to say to people who, having decided the world should work a certain way, need concern themselves no further with how it in fact works.

It shows. :wink:

Sorry. Your argument fails on multiple levels. In theory, no one “rules” the country, however, the people select legislators and executives who will carry out the basic will of the populace. However, implicit in that delegation of authority is the trust that the legislators and executives will strive both to carry out the will and to ascertain that will without using lies and subterfuge to create a false will. Implicit in the notion of the executive branch hiring people with specific areas of expertise is the trust that they will rely on that expertise when they make the decisions to carry out the general will of the populace. Ignoring the people who provide expertise (or deliberately providing them with misleading information) subverts the process.

In this case the what would appear to be a defense of the country against foreign attack. Therefore, the how is clearly subverted when lies are used to rationalize a diversion of resources from the preparation of that defense for the purpose of attacking some other country that is not involved in launching terrorist attacks against the country.
Without the constant claims from the White House the Iraq was actually a danger, the “rulers” (populace) of the country would have been quite happy to be assured that actions taken in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Egypt, and other nations to curtail actions by al Qaida along with actions taken against banks and false front charities to provide terrorists with money would have quite satisfied the “rulers” (populace). It is the job of the bureaucrats to provide the executive with correct information so that the executive and the populace can agree on the “what.” Making decisions in a vaccum destroys that effort.

(And the notion that the leaders should simply set marching orders and all the functionaries should just march out in formatioin has been the cause of the ruination of numerous countries, states, cities, corporations, and civic groups. It is an inherently stupid notion that has never been supported by historical events.)

OK, that’s one.

OK, maybe Scowcroft made one try. However in order to overcome the avalanch of baloney coming from the administration’s propaganda mill, it required more. Followup is crucial to any campaign because the attention of the public is easily captured by fanciful dangers. Article after article would do some good and work to get like minded heavyweights to come into the battle too. Going to war isn’t something to be decided in haste, barring an actual attack on the US or Iraqi troops massing on the borders of, say, Saudi Arabia. Nor can the efforts of the nations chief executive be stalled with one opinion piece in the WSJ. The idea of “better safe than sorry” is hard to combat and I believe has made us less safe and in perfect position to be very sorry indeed.

I’m certainly aware of that. And there are many more who did not, and have not publicly revisited their positions here, or indeed have had any more comments to make on the subject, but are very likely still reading the relevant threads. Is it really worthy only of the Pit to try to coax at least updated views out of that contingent?

Nor is anyone here doing that. To name names from whom such reconsideration is still awaited would be squarely a Pit matter, so it is not clear why you call holding short of that a “broad brush”. You know as well as I do which individuals are referred to, and so, especially, do they. The ones who used a broader, wirier brush in calling into question our basic love of country, support of our military, basic intelligence, and ability to handle emotions above simple hate, right here in this Forum, repeatedly, and without, I might add, very many moderator mentions about discussions of character. Are my recollections mistaken?

Regardless of the accuracy of your memory, if the posters to whom you refer are not posting to this thread, the swipe is irrelevant to this discussion.
So many of these “debates” on the Iraq invasion turn into little more than personal feuds and I would just as soon not have to wade through them.

And when do we get to the part where you explain the how and why the best way for politicos to conduct their affairs in re the bureaucracy is in an atmosphere of other than what Wilkerson recommended, specifically a unidirectional, top-down approach that your recommend?

Excerpts form Scowcroft New Yorker interview


Sorry - I must disagree. Politicians will often consult one group of people (e.g. focus groups, sub-committees, voters) for the policy and then turn it over to another group, the bureaucracy, to implement it. If the politicans choose not to consult the bureaucrats, that is their perogative.

This is beyond the scope of my point.

Perhaps this is a difference between Britain and America? In Britain the Civil Service is politically neutral.

Howls of derisive laughter, Bruce! Politically neutral doesn’t mean what it sounds like, folks. Ever seen Yes, Minister? It’s exaggerated, but not inaccurate.
In England, the bureaucrats tend to wend their own way, in despite of the parties.

Regardless of any neutrality, perceived or real, the function of the civil service is to provide both service and expertise. When the expertise is ignored, the political leaders are fools. When the civil service is provided misinformation on which to direct their expertise, the political leaders are subverting the process.