January 12, 2009

Still Looking for 12 Good Men Women Humans Beings



I refuse to go through all this again. I last addressed the issue of "intelligence" in detail in December 2007: "Played for Fools Yet Again: About that Iran 'Intelligence' Report."

I will provide you this excerpt:
Let us start with the most crucial point. The reaction from all quarters to the NIE relies on several interrelated central assumptions, ones that are regarded as so unquestionably true that no one thinks they need to be stated: that major policy decisions, including decisions of war and peace, are based on intelligence in the first place; that a decision to go to war is one made only after cool and careful rational deliberation; and that nations go to war for the reasons they announce to the world.


I put this fact in bold capital letters because I have explained these dynamics in detail in numerous essays over the last several years. I hasten to add that I suffer from not even a single illusion that this new article will make the slightest dent in "conventional wisdom," for I know it will not. Nonetheless, for the ten or twelve of you who are amenable to considering them, here are the facts.

From "You, Too, Can and Should Be an 'Intelligence Analyst'":
Intelligence is completely irrelevant to major policy decisions. Such decisions are matters of judgment, and knowledgeable, ordinary citizens are just as capable of making these determinations as political leaders allegedly in possession of "secret information." Such "secret information" is almost always wrong -- and major decisions, including those pertaining to war and peace, are made entirely apart from such information in any case.

The second you start arguing about intelligence, you've given the game away once again. This is a game the government and the proponents of war will always win. By now, we all surely know that if they want the intelligence to show that Country X is a "grave" and "growing" threat, they will find it or manufacture it. So once you're debating what the intelligence shows or fails to show, the debate is over. The war will inevitably begin.

To repeat: the decision to go to war is one of policy, and the intelligence -- whatever it is alleged to show -- is irrelevant. Don't argue in terms of intelligence at all. If you do, you'll lose. The administration knows that; many of its opponents still haven't figured it out, even now.
There's more -- a lot more.

Oh, hell. One more excerpt, because the ongoing distortions of this issue irritate me so profoundly:
In the most critical sense, I don't care about this latest assessment, just as I did not care about the earlier ones, about Iran or on any other subject at all -- for in addition to the rather important fact that such assessments are invariably wrong, I recognize that policy decisions are made on different grounds altogether. Moreover, in terms of U.S. foreign policy, I don't care if Iran does get nuclear weapons. As I have noted before, I do not view it as a remotely good thing that any nation has nuclear weapons, including the U.S. -- and I remind you once again that it is only the U.S. that has used them, when it did not have any legitimate reason for doing so and when it lied about every aspect of its actions and their consequences. But in terms of an Iran with nuclear weapons five or ten years in the future: "So Iran Gets Nukes. So What?" But the bipartisan commitment to American world hegemony has not altered in the slightest degree. The criminal catastrophe of Iraq is irrelevant to our ruling class, and it has not caused them to alter any of their most crucial goals.
Interestingly to me, this issue of "intelligence" and the close to unanimous inability and/or refusal to recognize its actual role is one that I will be discussing in my upcoming series on tribalism. I will analyze this subject in some detail (utilizing a very different perspective from that of the previous essays), as a demonstration of how most people have never learned to think at all.

That may sound extreme to you. Just wait, and I'll show you how and why that's true in the coming weeks. I will also explain some of the reasons why almost everyone keeps discussing "intelligence" as it if matters, when in fact it does not, certainly not in the way most people assume. Meanwhile, reading that earlier essay will give you a good headstart.