February 02, 2007

And Still More News from the Land of Stupid

I provided a bit of news from the Land of Stupid in a post concerning some of Our Ultimate Leader's recent remarks. It appears this will be a series proceeding unto eternity. I realize it's horribly shocking to some that I should associate Stupid with Our Ultimate Leader -- traitorous, in fact. Send me to Gitmo! Especially since I also wrote that I want the United States to lose. I am irredeemably evil and surely going to hell. I've long since become accustomed to these facts; I now regard them as an unending source of amusement. But you may read this at your great peril.

The Washington Post prominently heralds this momentous and totally, mind-shatteringly unexpected news:
A new National Intelligence Estimate depicts an Iraq involved in a multi-faceted struggle among religious groups and sects and says that without a sharp reversal in the violence and changes among the Shiite, Sunni and Kurd leadership, the situation could further deteriorate.

The estimate, which represents the views of all elements of the intelligence community, presents a much grimmer picture of the situation in Iraq than the Bush administration has acknowledged in the past.
Say it isn't so! It may be "National" and it surely is an "Estimate," but I have been unable to ascertain why the word "Intelligence" appears in the document's title.

This is news only to those people who have been in deep comas since 2002 and have just awoken. As some of us fortunate enough to have been conscious for extended periods during this same time have been painfully aware (although whether this is in fact "fortunate," I leave as an exercise for the reader), many people predicted all the disasters that have befallen us in Iraq before this insane and criminal enterprise began.

And shortly after our imperial project got underway in earnest, I wrote the following in October 2003 (in the earlier entry reposted in the second half of this essay):
[R]eturning to the point of my earlier post, here is an announcement which apparently comes as startling news to many prowar hawks. It's quite simple: there is no good solution to the situation we have created in Iraq. None.

This is what I mean. On the one hand, we can pour huge amounts of money into Iraq over the next five, 10, 20 or more years. Of course, given the manner in which the system currently operates, that means a great deal of that money will be lost through bureaucratic inefficiency, or through corporate-statist corruption. In addition, given a dominant long-term presence by the United States, it is very possible that that will lead only to more terrorists who hate the United States.

So, we can pour untold billions into Iraq, all in an effort which history demonstrates quite conclusively will not succeed. And, no, Iraq is not like Germany or Japan after World War II. In addition, all of that money belongs to U.S. taxpayers -- so this probably doomed effort will massively disrupt and distort our own economy for years to come.

Or we can simply leave as quickly as possible -- which means that Iraq is likely to become what it was not before our invasion and occupation: a state which serves as headquarters for those who wish to destroy us, and which is genuinely and in fact a grave threat to us. Which, I repeat, it was not before. That obviously is not a very good idea, either. So the only way out that I see at this point, which admittedly is not a good "solution" at all, is to bring the international community into a much more active role in rebuilding Iraq, and as quickly as possible. (That would mean, among other things, that we cease demanding that others pay for the reconstruction efforts, while maintaining almost all control ourselves.) That would serve several ends: it would lessen the financial burden on the United States; it would defuse at least some of the enmity currently directed toward us; and it might save some American and Iraqi lives. Not a good solution in my view, but markedly better than the others.
Such a proposal to internationalize the rebuilding effort, which a number of people suggested, became impossible some time ago.

I wrote the following in May 2005, in "Embracing Ignorance on Principle":
We invaded and occupied Iraq thinking that Iraq's own history was utterly irrelevant to our own aims. The Iraqis wanted freedom, we thought, just as everyone does; we would provide it, even if we had to do so at the point of a gun, and even if we had to kill roughly 100,00 Iraqis (or more) to do it. As I noted yesterday, this is why we failed before the first U.S. soldier set foot on Iraqi soil. In the most critical sense, we never bothered to educate ourselves about the history and desires of the people we set out to "liberate" (even if we grant that was the aim, despite all the evidence to the contrary) -- which meant that, fundamentally, we did not know what we were doing.

And we still don't, as Bennet's article and many similar ones make painfully clear. And this is yet another reason why I maintain, as I explained yesterday, that we should leave immediately, or as close to immediately as we can -- and set a time limit of six months at the outside, for example, for the withdrawal of all U.S. troops. Not only are we a significant source of the ongoing violence, but we continue to refuse to learn about the nature of the Iraqis themselves, and what their perspectives and their aims are.

Because we are determined to remain ignorant of the actual nature and consequences of our own actions, and because this state of ignorance appears to be ongoing and unchangeable, the degree of the disaster will only increase. This is why we must leave now. The longer our withdrawal is delayed, the greater the devastation will be.

Ignorance is never bliss -- and it is especially not bliss when a huge military force is deployed against another nation, one which never seriously threatened us, and when we engage in torture, murder and devastation on a huge and unforgivable scale. Our actions are only made worse when they are supposedly "justified" by the indiscriminate use of terms such as "liberation" and "freedom," when those otherwise laudable and even glorious goals are used in a manner devoid of context and lacking in any specific meaning.
But now -- in February 2007 -- the breathlessly anticipated National Intelligence Estimate portentously warns that "the situation could further deteriorate." The picture is "much grimmer" than the administration and its numerous propagandists would prefer us to believe. Wow. Jeepers, golly gee, and smack me silly.

And about "intelligence" more generally and concerning its purported role in determining policy, I give you Gabriel Kolko once more:
But collective illusions have characterized the leaders of most nations since time immemorial. They have substituted their desires, ambitions, and interests for accurate estimates of what may occur from their actions. At best, intelligence organizations gather data of tactical rather than strategic utility. An infrastructure of ambitious people exists to reinforce the leaders' preconceptions, in part because they too are socialized to believe what often proves to be illusion. But bearers of bad tidings are, by and large, unwelcome and prevented from reaching the higher ranks of most political orders. It is extremely difficult for nations to behave rationally, which means accepting the limits of their power, and what is called intelligence has to confront the institutional biases and inhibitions of each social system. Thus deductive, symbolic reactions become much more likely, notwithstanding the immense risks of their being wrong. The US war in Iraq and the geopolitical folly of its larger strategy in the Persian Gulf is but one recent example of it.

It is all too rare that states overcome illusions, and the United States is no more an exception than Germany, Italy, England, or France before it. The function of intelligence anywhere is far less to encourage rational behavior--although sometimes that occurs--than to justify a nation's illusions, and it is the false expectations that conventional wisdom encourages that make wars more likely, a pattern that has only increased since the early twentieth century. By and large, US, Soviet, and British strategic intelligence since 1945 has been inaccurate and often misleading, and although it accumulated pieces of information that were useful, the leaders of these nations failed to grasp the inherent dangers of their overall policies. When accurate, such intelligence has been ignored most of the time if there were overriding preconceptions or bureaucratic reasons for doing so.
We who are traitorous, blasphemous and generally to be despised, dare to revise and update Lincoln:

Government of the Stupid, by the Stupid, and for the Stupid. Perishable, after all.

See also: The Painful Object of the Verb

No Way Out -- but Out

Get Out Now: Just Do It

A Genuine Mission Impossible