Thursday, November 10, 2005

Always Wrong. Never in Doubt 

Courtesy of our august colleague Susie Madrak at Suburban Guerrilla: Most of what follows will be familiar to you if you've read James Mann's Rise of the Vulcans, but if you need a reminder, there were plenty of good reasons why wiser heads in the Bush 41 administration used to refer to the Cheney-Rumsfeld-Wolfowitz cabal as "the lunatics." It wasn't just the studied indifference to realpolitik. It wasn't just the imperialist wet dream of permanent global hegemony. It was also their gawdawful track record:
In the 1970s, when President Richard Nixon's policy of detente was under attack by some former military officials and conservative policy intellectuals, Ford administration officials Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld were among those challenging as too soft the CIA's estimate of Moscow's military power.

Rumsfeld and Cheney wanted to create a "Team B," which would have access to the CIA's data on the Soviets and issue its own conclusions . . . .

Team B's conclusion that the CIA was indeed soft on the Soviets was leaked to sympathetic journalists and generated public support for a new round of military spending, particularly on missiles. Team B's conclusions turned out, years later, to be false.

"In retrospect, and with the Team B report and records now largely declassified, it is possible to see that virtually all of Team B's criticisms ... proved to be wrong," Raymond Garthoff, a former U.S. ambassador to Bulgaria, wrote in a paper for the CIA's Center for the Study of Intelligence three years ago. "On several important specific points it wrongly criticized and 'corrected' the official estimates, always in the direction of enlarging the impression of danger and threat."
Plainly history is repeating itself, but we seem to be stuck in the tragic mode. When do we get to the farce?

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