Friday, February 4, 2011

Friday quick-hits

There is a lot of stuff to talk about right now, and we've been largely absent from the conversation. Egypt is at the top of the list, of course. I'm reticent about engaging in the sort of sudden-expertism that's so prevalent in the blogosphere and on cable news, but there are certainly angles to this story that we can meaningfully weigh in on (for me it's American security assistance to Egypt and the broader U.S.-Egypt mil-to-mil relationship), and I hope to get to that in the near future. But for now I'm mostly focused on the immediate struggle against the Old Enemy (and late-afternoon drinks with some defense-blogging luminaries), so I just want to hit you with a few brief notes.

1. Read Jason's tank-wonk piece on what changing Army org structure means for armor culture and the future employment of tanks. Then read this excellent (if incidental) companion story in Aviation Week by Friend of Ink Spots Paul McLeary, Andy Nativi, and David Eshel: "Future of Main Battle Tank Looks Secure." Good contributions to the never-ending "Is Armor Dead?" debate.

2. Check out this review of the new Rumsfeld book by Bloomberg defense guy Tony Capaccio. Note this excerpt in particular:
“What was unique about Iraq was that the intelligence community reported near total confidence in their conclusions,” Rumsfeld writes. “Their assessments appeared to be unusually consistent.”
Now get in the way-back machine and go read Eli Lake in The New Republic in September 2002. This is six months before the Iraq war started, remember. Money paragraph:
But this is all mere speculation, because there is no NIE for Iraq and there probably won't be one anytime soon. The reason for this omission is that the Iraq hawks running the Pentagon and staffing the office of the vice president long ago lost faith in the CIA analysis. So they set up their own network for analyzing and collecting intelligence regarding Iraq and have been presenting it to the president themselves. The result is that instead of Bush receiving one assessment of the facts on the ground, he has for months been receiving two--one (more cautious) from the CIA and the other (more optimistic) from the Iraq hawks. As one former CIA analyst says, "Not since Vietnam has there been as deep a divide over intelligence as to enemy capabilities as you are seeing now in Iraq." The administration's confusion on Iraq, in other words, goes even deeper than its critics understand. It's not just that different factions in the administration disagree about U.S. policy vis-a-vis Saddam. They disagree about the fundamental facts on which that policy should be based.
The whole article is worth reading -- it's a thoughtful look at how the intersection of intelligence and policy is fraught with all sorts of problems of ideology, perception, and so on. Great, great work from someone I frequently butt heads with. Oh yeah, and Rumsfeld: face.

3. And finally, the Most Disingenuous Quote of All Time award goes to the anonymous defense industry flack who told Politico's Jen DiMascio (re: foreign military sales to Egypt)
“We do this because we are told by the U.S. government it’s in the U.S. national interest,” a defense industry official said, referring to U.S. sales abroad. “If at any time it stops becoming so, ... it’s not too hard to say we’d be on board with that.”
Um, riiiiight. That's why there's no Lockheed guy in Baghdad lobbying MNF-I and the Iraqi MoD that the F-16 is the best solution to Iraq's air-defense needs, right? They're just siting at their desks in Bethesda waiting for an order to come in, then executing on USG requests to support the national interest? Sure.

Hey, "national interest" can be a really complex mix of things, and it can include jobs and economic strength and industrial base health and a whole bunch of other stuff aside from military-strategic concerns. I get that. But it is just totally obscene for arms manufacturers to suggest that they only sell systems abroad "because [they're] told by the U.S. government it's in the U.S. national interest" -- with the further implication that they're not out ahead of the USG pimping their stuff as the best solution for everybody involved. Sure, the defense industry just fills orders as a public service, with the almost not-even-worth-mentioning side benefit that it helps to sustain their business and increase revenue. Bullshit.

And on that happy note, enjoy your weekend.

1 comment:

  1. Any updates with Raymond Davis in Pakistan. Was that Denver Post article of him and his family verified?