Monday, February 06, 2006

The Real Lesson From Iraq: Shoot Faster, Ask Fewer Questions Later

While many in "elitist" foreign policy circles are stuck debating the impact that Iraq - and the concomitant tarnishing of the "preventitive war doctrine" - may have on the ascent of an isolationist revival, the birth of some new tripartite hybrid of realism/idealism/liberalism, a blending of neo-conservative liberal internationalists or similarly bastardized doctrines, Richard Perle cuts through all the unbridled wonkery with the real lesson from the Iraq campaign: Not only should we not temper our willingness to engage in future military interventions of choice, we should actually be quicker to launch preventitive wars - and even less circumspect when assessing relevant evidence of threats.

Interestingly, it was the faulty intelligence on Iraqi WMD programs - which itself was severely exacerbated by the tendency to overhype, distort and prevaricate about the available evidence in the run-up to the Iraq war (especially nuclear related material) - that provides this circular and unabashedly Orwellian loop of justification. From Reuters (via Arthur Silber), Perle discusses intelligence on Iran's nuclear capabilities and associated timelines:
"If you want to try to wait until the very last minute, you'd better be very confident of your intelligence because if you're not, you won't know when the last minute is," Perle told Reuters on the sidelines of an annual security conference in Munich.

"And so, ironically, one of the lessons of the inadequate intelligence of Iraq is you'd better be careful how long you choose to wait." [emphasis added]
Who knew? The lesson from the Iraqi intelligence cherry picking fiasco - a scandal that has severely undermined the prospects for success in our current mission - is that we should be more prone to believe the cherry picking. We are, in fact, collectively guilty of being unduly skeptical of dubious intelligence.

Come to think of it, he's got a point. Acting on this mandate, we should just fold the entire intelligence apparatus (CIA, FBI, DIA, INR, etc.) into the new and improved Office of Extra Special Plans. Move over Negroponte, Goss and the rest of those dovish dawdlers. It's high time we got someone in charge who can appreciate the exigencies of the brave new intelligence gathering landscape.

I'm sure Mr. Perle would join me in saying: "Ironically, one of the lessons of the inadequate intelligence of Iraq is that we should put Douglas Feith in charge of the whole operation." You just can't be too careful with these things ya know.

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