National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq War:
From The New York Times:
  A stark assessment of terrorism trends by American intelligence agencies has found that the American invasion and occupation of Iraq has helped spawn a new generation of Islamic radicalism and that the overall terrorist threat has grown since the Sept. 11 attacks.
  The classified National Intelligence Estimate attributes a more direct role to the Iraq war in fueling radicalism than that presented either in recent White House documents or in a report released Wednesday by the House Intelligence Committee, according to several officials in Washington involved in preparing the assessment or who have read the final document.
  The intelligence estimate, completed in April, is the first formal appraisal of global terrorism by United States intelligence agencies since the Iraq war began, and represents a consensus view of the 16 disparate spy services inside government. Titled "Trends in Global Terrorism: Implications for the United States," it asserts that Islamic radicalism, rather than being in retreat, has metastasized and spread across the globe.
  An opening section of the report, "Indicators of the Spread of the Global Jihadist Movement," cites the Iraq war as a reason for the diffusion of jihad ideology.
  The report "says that the Iraq war has made the overall terrorism problem worse," said one American intelligence official.
  . . .
  The estimate concludes that the radical Islamic movement has expanded from a core of Qaeda operatives and affiliated groups to include a new class of "self-generating" cells inspired by Al Qaeda's leadership but without any direct connection to Osama bin Laden or his top lieutenants.
  It also examines how the Internet has helped spread jihadist ideology, and how cyberspace has become a haven for terrorist operatives who no longer have geographical refuges in countries like Afghanistan.
It seems to me that one of the major blind spots in international law and politics (at present) is the tenet that a sovereign state must have a fixed territory. In our modern society, that may not remain a requirement for a de facto sovereign and/or belligerent power.
"Categories, if you'll excuse a brief digression, are a useful way to get a handle on things you don't understand, as long as you don't get too attached to them and forget things like to pop out of one category and into another, and that sometimes the whole category turns itself inside out and becomes something different. It's useful, for example, to categorize your target as a sorcerer, if he is one; but if you get too attached to your category it'll leave you embarrassed when he suddenly pulls a knife on you." — Vladimir Taltos, from Steven Brust's Issola
Al Qaeda may be the first instance of an emergent new category.

I will also note (although disapproving of President Bush's strategy and tactics), while the overall terrorist threat has increased, the prospect for a permanent solution is improved as well. Of course, it may not be a solution we would want or be happy about.
9.24.2006 9:08am
Pete Freans (mail):
Whether this analysis is true or not is irrelevant. The article asserts that "Islamic radicalism, rather than being in retreat, has metastasized and spread across the globe." Terrorist cells, training camps, & financial networks were already in place well before the Iraq War. These lunatic networks never needed the war in Iraq as a justification for jihad. And what of the War in Afghanistan, Al Qaeda's principle place of business? Are we to believe that disrupting their central operations and sending their leader into hiding did not serve as a catalyst for more jihad (a war that even the most troublesome Democrats agree was justified)?
9.24.2006 9:29am
In further developments, intelligence authorities have also determined that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west.
9.24.2006 10:09am
Can there be any doubt now that the NY Slimes is the Al-Jazeera of the West? It's astonishing the length's they'll go to undermine our fight and embolden our enemies.
9.24.2006 10:18am
Pantapon Rose (mail):
I have to admit, I have little trust for the Times these days or quotes from unnamed sources without context. Hopefully, the report will be available online. If the argument in the report is that Iraq has been one contributing factor among many, that seems self-evident; but it's difficult to see how invading Iraq, which had been run by a secular dictator, would have been more inspiring for jihadists than invading Afghanistan, where jihadists had actually managed to set up their ideal state, and which provided the initial inspiration for their jihad when trying to expel the Soviets.
9.24.2006 10:27am
Humble Law Student (mail):
The argument is that Iraq has become a rallying cry for the jihadists. Of course, Afghanistan was a huge blow for Al-Qaeda. But, now the jihadist movement has moved beyond Osama's/Zawahiri's creation. The situation in Iraq is a highly effective recruitment poster for the extremists. While they may have taken great losses - the gains more than offset them. Or so the argument goes.
9.24.2006 10:52am
johnt (mail):
There's a rumor going around that Valerie Plame[ "one of the most beautiful women in Washington"] was brought back as a consultant on this, with her fat, greasy husband as technical and geographic advisor. Geographic advisor because any man who could confuse Niger with the whole of Africa must be good for something.

It is worth pondering, for at least a few seconds, what would have happened if we had done nothing. Recall that wise souls counseled, in retrospect naturally, that 9/11 was a police and intelligence matter, Toddy and Muldoon driving around the mountains of Afghanistan in Car 54.

Amending the above, suppose we had stopped with the fervently hoped for "quagmire" in Afghanistan? May we venture to guess what conclusions would have crossed the febrile brains of the more rambunctious representatives of the now renowned "religion of peace".

As the omnipresent "some" might say, is it possible that such a stoppage would be taken as an invitation for more disagreeable actions here and abroad.

Perhaps the cast of lard assed thousands milling around the water coolers, crowding the cafeteria, and counting the minutes to quiting time over at that home of egotistical incompetent, benefit recepients, known as Langley, might do an intelligence estimate on that.

But that would be counter productive as it would not put the Administration in the worst possible light. And one has to remember what one's mission in life is. Apart from reading the NY Times, from whence they get most of their intelligence.
9.24.2006 10:59am
Ron Hardin (mail) (www):
White's move to control the center has brought out Black's knights rooks and bishops from all over, where they were peacefully at rest before.

This shows the foolishness of controlling the center in chess.

Unless of course the whole game is the point, not the squares.
9.24.2006 11:01am
It also examines how the Internet has helped spread jihadist ideology, and how cyberspace has become a haven for terrorist operatives who no longer have geographical refuges in countries like Afghanistan.

Surely this is correct, thus Al Gore must end the Internet. Support our websites by shutting them down.

9.24.2006 11:44am
LTEC (mail) (www):
I've heard it so many times, I'm finally convinced when the left tells me that the threat of terrorism is worse than ever before. I also believe them when they tell me that Bush is constantly exaggerating the extent of the (almost non-existent) terrorist threat. I'll believe anything.
9.24.2006 12:29pm
John (mail):
The question is not how today's terrorism threat level compares to that before the Iraq war, which this report seems to assess, but how the threat level before the Iraq war compares to what it would be today if there were no Iraq war.

If you want to see the effect of the Iraq war, you must ask what the world would be like with or without it--not before and after. There is a big difference.
9.24.2006 12:30pm
NYT: "Invading Iraq was a bad idea"

JohnT: "What if we had done nothing"

I think that these are NOT opposite sides of the same coin. John: there was no mention in the article as to whether invading *Afghanistan* was a bad idea. I'd like to take this moment to inform you that Iraq and Afghanistan were, and are, two distinct places, the presence of those homogeneous smnelly brown ragheads notwithstanding.
9.24.2006 12:43pm
unhyphenatedconservative (mail):
Given that Assad just blaimed our presence in Afghanistan as part of the reason that our embassy was attacekd there, do you think that Islamists would not have used the toppling of the Taliban as a recruiting tool?
9.24.2006 1:11pm

Of course they would. But they wouldn't have Iraq as a giant free-range playground and recruiting center. Furthermore, if the >100k troops currently in Iraq had been sent to Afghanistan, the Taliban could have been eradicated, and not merely temporarily chased into the hills.

But what's done is done, I suppose. Georgie had a boner for Saddam and was going to slake it, regardless of any military or political rationale.
9.24.2006 1:42pm
unhyphenatedconservative: of course they would have but they certainly would not have been as successful. That does not seem very hard to follow it seems to me. Look at the support -- popular and military -- for the Afghan war and look at the lack of military support from the rest of the world and some of the largest protests in recent history against it. Europeans even hate the Iraq war; imagine being an 18 year old young, jobless man in the mid-east.
9.24.2006 1:47pm
Tom Holsinger (mail):
Any resemblence between what a document or person actually said, and what the New York Times claims it/he/she said, are coincidental. The New York Times has been neither reliable nor accurate for years.
9.24.2006 2:04pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
Assume the assertion to be true.

This implies what about the character of Islam generally?

A better interpretation is that Islam has waged continuous war against the rest of the world, pausing only when Muslim opinion understood that it was too overmatched militarily -- the situation that existed between 1700 and about 1990.

Islam is still overmatched, but Muslim opinion has swung away from recognizing that. This is analogous to manias for war we have seen in non-Muslim societies in our own times -- Austria in the years just before 1914; Japan in the '30s.

What is happening today has nothing to do with bin Laden or reaction to U.S. actions and everything to do with religion.
9.24.2006 2:09pm
Speaking the Obvious:
"It also examines how the Internet has helped spread jihadist ideology"

I *KNEW* Al Gore was to blame!!
9.24.2006 2:30pm
Barbara Skolaut (mail):
Shhhhh, Harry.

The Dems don't want to acknowledge that, or want anyone else to know it, either.

It won't help them regain power, and it's very un-PC.

Best keep that between ourselves so their widdle feewings won't be hurt.
9.24.2006 2:30pm
Tom Holsinger,

Remember, only believe what you want to believe!!! It's not reality unless you SAY it's reality!!!!
9.24.2006 2:58pm
JosephSlater (mail):
Some of the comments reveal people for whom the idea that the Iraq war was a good idea seems literally unfalsifiable by any and all types of actual data. No WMDs, no connection to 9/11, no connection to Al Qaida, no emerging movement for democracy in the mid-east, deteriorating political situation in Iraq, and now our own government reports the war has made the world more dangerous. But sure, let's blame it all on the NYT.
9.24.2006 3:03pm
Tom Holsinger (mail):

The NY Times has so many times inserted words people did not say into purported quotes by them, all to spin stories the way the Times wants them spun, that it has lost all credibility with me. I used to read the NY Times every day, and allowed for its spin.

Once I realized that the NY Times could not be trusted to quote people accurately, I removed it from my IE bookmarks and have ignored its stories since.
9.24.2006 3:37pm
Pantapon Rose (mail):
For myself, I view the NYT as just the flip-side of Fox News, much of the reporting is accurate, but there's a significant dose of political spin, and it's good to have a healthy dose of scepticism when getting news from either. In this case, we don't have access to the document in question (which was completed in April, so why is it being leaked now?), and without context, it's difficult to ascertain its meaningfulness, and how much the reporting is just spin, and judge the arguments presented. For example, is the war in Iraq worse for us than, say, our support for Israel? And does the report argue for correlation or causation, and if causation, what are the premises on which the argument rests?
9.24.2006 4:28pm
Eli Rabett (www):
Judith Miller
9.24.2006 4:37pm
Z Jones (mail):
Well said, JosephSlater.

Claims that the NYT is the "Al-Jazeera of the West" and that democrats are "willing to believe anything", as some respondents to this post would have us believe, are made ad hominem. They are the polar counterpart, and just as unfounded, as assertions that Bush and his administration are bloodthirsty, torture-loving, war-mongerers. Neither view adds value to this thread, or any other.

As Pantapon Rose said, hopefully the report will be available online. Perhaps we can wait to evaluate its legitimacy until then.
9.24.2006 4:40pm
Tom Holsinger,

Remember, only believe what you want to believe!!! It's not reality unless you SAY it's reality!!!!
9.24.2006 4:49pm
John (mail):

You must answer the question what the terrorist situation would be if we hadn't gone into Iraq, in order to argue the war was a bad idea on the terrorism front. The fact that it's worse than it was, if true, is really irrelevant, since it could also have been worse if we never went into Iraq (or, of course, better--but that's the debate, not this one).
9.24.2006 5:52pm
Kate1999 (mail):

Read the press reports more carefully: according to the reports, the NIE report actally says that the Iraq war is responsible for making the problem worse.

Here is the story from the front page of the Washington Post today:
The war in Iraq has become a primary recruitment vehicle for violent Islamic extremists, motivating a new generation of potential terrorists around the world whose numbers may be increasing faster than the United States and its allies can reduce the threat, U.S. intelligence analysts have concluded.

A 30-page National Intelligence Estimate completed in April cites the "centrality" of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, and the insurgency that has followed, as the leading inspiration for new Islamic extremist networks and cells that are united by little more than an anti-Western agenda. It concludes that, rather than contributing to eventual victory in the global counterterrorism struggle, the situation in Iraq has worsened the U.S. position, according to officials familiar with the classified document.
9.24.2006 5:57pm
if the >100k troops currently in Iraq had been sent to Afghanistan, the Taliban could have been eradicated, and not merely temporarily chased into the hills.

Yeah, the Soviets had 120,000 troops in Afghanistan for 10 years, and they totally eradicated Islamic extremism throughout the country, turning Afghanistan into a modern, secular industrial nation.

the "centrality" of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, and the insurgency that has followed, as the leading inspiration for new Islamic extremist networks and cells that are united by little more than an anti-Western agenda.

Before Iraq, it was the US "occupation" of Saudi Arabia, and US support for Israel, and bombing Iraq, and half a dozen other things, that united disparate groups behind the anti-western agenda. In short, if we weren't in Iraq there would be something else that was "central" to them coming after us.
9.24.2006 6:14pm
Well, of course terrorism has increased. But since it has increased within the confines of Iraq, that is supposed to make me worried how?
9.24.2006 6:23pm
fishbane (mail):
Well, of course terrorism has increased. But since it has increased within the confines of Iraq, that is supposed to make me worried how?

Let's put aside ignore the moral vaccuum inherent in this statement, and try to phrase simply.

"Increasing the number of people willing to die to kill people in our country is counterproductive to the goal of living in peace."
9.24.2006 6:51pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
But since it has increased within the confines of Iraq, that is supposed to make me worried how?

What breathtaking contempt for the 130,000+/- American soldiers in Iraq, to say nothing of the American contractors, etc.
9.24.2006 7:48pm
Antonio Manetti (mail):
To be precise, the increased threat of terrorism was less a result of the invasion itself but the bungled aftermath. Of course, it's impossible to know whether any other outcome was ever possible.

In any event, one lesson to learn is that a policy of threatening future preemptive wars loses its ability to intimidate when such a war goes badly for the perpetrator.
9.24.2006 8:03pm
Dear God...You people are not only stupid but wilfully so.
9.24.2006 8:04pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
Antonio, when you say 'any other outcome,' it depends what other outcome you have in mind.

I said, before it started, that we didn't have enough infantry. I suspect that if we had flooded the country with infantry, on the order of about a magnitude more than we had, the insurgency would have been squelched.

Some of the same people would still have tried, but they would have had much less time to build up a head of steam.

So that's one possible outcome that could have been different -- had we had a big army, which was impossible.

The stated desired outcome, however, that Iraqis should decide to govern themselves democratically and then do so, was never possible. The reasons are many, but it is worth recalling the words of Bassam Tibi, the Syrian political scientist: Arabs are not interested in democracy.
9.24.2006 8:29pm
fishbane (mail):
>i?Some of the same people would still have tried, but they would have had much less time to build up a head of steam.

More importantly, they wouldn't have been able to build a network of supply, the ability to recruit, and the ability to experiment in the marketplace of violence to figure out what works.

That's the real crime of the war - The U.S. actions in Iraq are breeding experienced terrorists in the same way a biologist might breed a bacteria culture - cause a hostile but not always deadly environment, and watch bacteria evolve to manage in the situation.
9.24.2006 8:53pm
"What breathtaking contempt for the 130,000+/- American soldiers in Iraq, to say nothing of the American contractors, etc."

So... how is this a critique of the Bush administration, then? You mean that soldiers sent to combat terrorists are facing terrorists in battle? The ultimate logic of your suggestion is that, to defeat terrorism, we must bring every American everywhere home.

It is obvious this "report" is claiming that it is less safe for the average American because of Bush's actions. But, as I said before, because insurgents in Iraq are behaving like terrorists doesn't mean that this is a threat to America itself. There's a terrorist who wants to blow up the World Trade Center, and a terrorist that wants to kill Sunni Iraqis. And, conveniently, we have people there to shoot and kill this latter group of terrorists.
9.24.2006 9:35pm
Commenterlein (mail):
"and a terrorist that wants to kill Sunni Iraqis"

A true Bush supporter at work.
9.24.2006 9:50pm
Tom Holsinger (mail):
The following post from the Say Anything blog describes this situation perfectly:
"... So what can the left do to overwhelm the right's steadfast support of Iraq and the war on terror? Why, run a political hit that makes it seem as though the war in Iraq has actually made us less safe and that the Democrat talking points were right all along.

It all starts with the New York Times. They talk to a bunch of "government officials" and "outside experts" who won't put their names to anything they say but will none-the-less allege that a National Intelligence Estimate memo concludes that the war in Iraq has created more terrorists and generally made us all less safe from terrorism. Of course, Times readers won't get to actually see the memo in question we'll just have to rely on these unnamed sources and the Times' own professional objectivity.

If that last statement isn't enough to give a person pause about buying into this, I don't know what is.

Regardless, the next step is endless media hype. The claims made in the Times article will be repeated ad nauseum, despite the fact that if this leaked intelligence info had stated that Iraq was having a positive impact in the war on terror it would largely be ignored by these same media types.

The third step is for Democrats to get on board and attack the President over media reporting from journalists who have apparently never seen the memo themselves but are instead relying on statements from unnamed people who aren't willing to put their names to their words because in talking to the press they are breaking the law.

The fourth step is the media to conclude, after all these other steps, that the leaked information is already having a detrimental impact on Republican political aspirations. Again, despite the fact that the only information we have about this memo comes from unnamed sources interviewed by a publication that clearly has a liberal agenda.

All within about 24 hours. Isn't that amazing? It is almost like it's coordinated or something.

I remember another major political story like this breaking in September right before an election. That one had something to do with some forged memos and the President's military service. Which isn't, of course, to suggest that I have evidence of fraud in this story we're hearing about today, I just find it interesting that the media always seems to come up with some major story that meshes perfectly with Democrat talking points right before national elections."
9.24.2006 10:56pm
Pantapon Rose (mail):
Kate, read the articles more carefully. The Post article (which is really just an article on the NYT article) says nothing about the report from the report; it simply relays what unnamed leakers say about the report (who, instead of speaking out when the report was finished in April, decided to leak six weeks before an election). The articles are about what anonymous sources are saying about the report, and there is a near-complete lack of details of what is actually in the report.
9.25.2006 12:23am
I suspect that if we had flooded the country with infantry, on the order of about a magnitude more than we had, the insurgency would have been squelched.

So let's see, we went in with 175,000 troops... an order of magnitude increase would be 1,750,000 troops... when was the last time we had this many troops available (meaning, you have to have three times as many as this in order to deploy this many forward)? We have not had 1.75 million troops available for deployment since WW2, and the idea that we needed this many to occupy Iraq is simply ridiculous. Not even General Shinseki made this argument!

Some of the same people would still have tried, but they would have had much less time to build up a head of steam.

There is no reason at all to believe this. The limiting factor is not number of troops but intelligence on the enemy, and ten times as many troops without any better intelligence on the enemy is just ten times as many guys sitting around doing nothing, angering the local population, and providing targets for IEDs.
9.25.2006 12:31am
fishbane (mail):
I remember another major political story like this breaking in September right before an election.

Yeah. I remember the Swift Boat crap, too. Hopefully more voters will this time around.
9.25.2006 12:32am
BTW, I don't think the war in Iraq has even been a remote success. But you are no less safe on the subway in the morning because of it, even from the perspective of limited resources aimed at limited goals.
9.25.2006 12:46am
Harry Eagar (mail):
Enoch, I already said it was 'impossible' that we would have so many troops. That's because we are not serious.

The decision to give up a standing army was taken in the early '50s at a time when an expanding economy could not afford to immobilize millions of men in uniform. The substitute, as far as national security went, was Ike's 'New Look' army, which was a nuclear army.

It didn't seem important at the time, I guess, but nobody thought through to the fact that if you have only a nuclear army, you can fight only a nuclear war.

At the very least, if we had had 15 or 20 divisions to deploy in Iraq right after the invasion, they could have secured the munitions dumps that were scattered by the hundreds, if not thousands, all over the country and which were plundered to build the weapons used against our soldiers.

You can starve an insurgency, but you have to be ruthless about it. Bush the appeaser will never do that.
9.25.2006 2:12am
David M. Nieporent (www):
A bigger flaw in the reported NIE is that it states something it cannot possibly know. It can conclude that Islamists are growing in number by using Iraq as a recruiting tool, but that's not the same thing as saying that Islamists would not be able to recruit if we had not invaded Iraq.

The first half of that is a statement of fact. The second is a mere prediction, something intelligence agencies are not particularly great at, for the simple reason that nobody is good at determining hypotheticals. (Although given the performance of our intelligence agencies pre-Iraq, it's not clear how good they are at assessing facts, either.)
9.25.2006 4:29am
johnt (mail):
bartman, I guess we can cancel Joe Wilson as resident geographer as sugested in my post, you at least note that two separate countries exist, Iraq &Afghanistan. What that has to do with the rest of my effort is a little less clear.

The issue was recruitment of terrorists, the premise that our invasion energized same, my position being that it is more than probable that adopting a policy best described as supine would encourage additional attacks, and not thousands of miles away !

Afghanistan, did you miss the part about about "quagmire" in the post? It took about two weeks for the media to start that song so it should twell you that it matters not which country was invaded but rather which President is in office.

However I am mollified by your guaranty that the Taliban would have been eradicated, it was a guaranty wasn't it, as well as the unstated premise and co-equal guranty that other radical muslim forces [Iraq for one] would have slept thru the whole thing.

Re George's boner; I assume if someone plotted to kill your father you would never get a boner.

Re "smnelly brown ragheads"; a chord of sympathy for the little devils perhaps? Regardless, have you gotten close enough for your olfactory talents, equal to your prognostic
abilities, to offer a description of any distinctive odors?
9.25.2006 10:40am
JosephSlater (mail):
Pantapon Rose:

While I think the NYT has been much more consistently correct about the Iraq war (and most things) than has Fox News (or the administration), I will certainly agree that we will know more when the full report is released and that healthy skepticism can be a good thing in many cases.

But (and this goes to John too), my comment was more a reaction to the other comments. I honestly believe, based on what I've seen here and elsewhere, that there are a certain number of True Believers for whom (again) the claim that the Iraq war was a good idea is unfalsifiable. Think of all the claims (listed in my original post) that the Bush admin. made that have now been conclusively proven false. That hasn't mattered to some, and it's increasingly difficult for me to imagine what kind of evidence would matter.
9.25.2006 10:56am
Houston Lawyer:
So, does the report actually say that all the Islamists agreed with our invasion of Afghanistan and were OK with it and were going to lay down their arms and become peaceful? Why is killing a terrorist in Afghanistan OK but killing one in Iraq not?

Would it have been OK to invade Pakistan in order to chase the Taliban there, or were we just magically supposed to seal off the Afghanistan border like we have done with the Mexican border?
9.25.2006 11:44am
Michael B (mail):
"I honestly believe, based on what I've seen here and elsewhere, that there are a certain number of True Believers for whom (again) the claim that the Iraq war was a good idea is unfalsifiable." Joseph Slater

A telling comment and conviction, ironically enough one which is itself unfalsifiable.

We might recall, for one, the brouhaha and all the sum certain opionions concerning Joseph Wilson, Valerie Plame, aka the flame out of PlameGate. But that all happened oh so long ago - down the memory hole of inconvenient truths.

Too, based upon a biblicist reading of this NYT article cum opinion piece, on a report yet to be released, much less critiqued, we're to draw conclusions about Iraq and the profusion of jihadists, as if all would be well (e.g., Afghanistan would be discounted) if it hadn't been for Iraq, much as all was well during the Clinton era, post WTC '93.

Yes, no doubt. And given the results to date pertaining to the current hurricane season, we're also to conclude global warming is a hoax. Or perhaps not, wouldn't fit within the agenda driven conclusions we want to reason backward from in order to justify.
9.25.2006 4:38pm
JosephSlater (mail):
Michael B.:

You ignore the substance behind my comments, and bringing up the entirely unrelated Valerie Plame matter (not to mention global warming) doesn't rebut my point. Nor do I think my point is ironically unfalsifiable -- it would clearly be falisfied if actual evidence could change the minds of some of the war's dwindling supporters.

Of course, the facts that there were no WMDs, links to 9/11, or links to Al Qaida; and the deteriorating situation in Iraq has caused many of the war's former supporters to rethink their positions, much to their credit.

But the some reactions to this new report which at least questions the last remaining straw of a justification have not just been, "well, let's wait and see what the full report says," which is reasonable. Some reactions can be fairly characterized as, "well, any argument like that just HAS to be wrong." At that point, it's fair to say that for some folks, NO evidence could convince them the Iraq war was a bad idea.

But you could go ahead and prove me wrong in your case by explaining exactly what sort of evidence it would take to convince you the war was a mistake.
9.25.2006 5:19pm
rocketsbrain (mail) (www):
For those interested in this stuff see this great piece by Scott Malensek.

Scott has just completed his extensive rebuttal to the Senate Intel Co's Phase II Report.

You'll never hear this from the LL and the MSM.


Bush Lied People Died NOT!

Re the NYT release of the NIE, read this rebuttal report by author Scott Malensek of the Senate Intel Co's recent Phase II Report. This a further example of the degree to which these important intel assessment/reports have become partisan hack jobs.


EXCLUSIVE: Rebuttal to Phase II Report

Scott has just completed his definitive rebuttal to the Phase II Report of the Senate Intel Committee:

Independent Rebuttal Report Regarding


Read More
9.25.2006 6:21pm
Michael B (mail):
Joseph Slater,

I didn't say, or so much as imply, that bringing up PlameGate or the hurricane season rebutted your argument. They are topical and reflect the inciteful quality of many contemporary social/political discussions and to that extent, if to that extent only, they are relevant.

In terms of unfalsifiability per se, strictly understood, there are all types of problems with bringing that into this discussion. Iraq is not a simple scientific experiment which can be subjected to empirical/rational and deductive processes. It's a protracted and hugely problematic aspect, variously debateable along sundry fronts, within a yet larger and yet more protracted civilizational set of crises, including social, political, financial/economic (the Oil for Bribes scandal), the international system (e.g., the U.N. again), ethnic, etc., etc. In that sense alone the very notion of "unfalsifiable," in the perjorative and categorically dismissive manner you're using it, is discountable. There's also the problem with alternative historical scenarios that obviously will never be able to be played. Other problems as well.

Likewise, there's no way I could "prove" you're wrong either; but I'm not the one invoking the "unfalsifiable" label.

As far as Iraq being a solid strategy or one that is less defensible or even a failure, only time will tell. Mary Habeck, in a well documented study, suggested the overall civilizational conflict could last two-hundred year, others have suggested a hundred, others still a few decades at minimum; the jury is out on this and I have no absolute opinion on what the duration and horizons might be. One thing seems apparent however, a strictly internal Reformation within Islam (countering the salafists such as the Muslim Brotherhood and in turn inspired by Qutbism, al Hassan, et al.) does not seem probable. It certainly seems unwise to sit on the sidelines, taking a passive role. What I do believe is that a decidedly forward deployment and strategy, in part to help ensure the battle will take place more there than here, is the proper strategy to employ.

Whether or not Iraq itself was the best way to initiate that decidedly forward initiative, imo, can certainly be debated with trenchant critiques (indeed, I'd encourage better informed critiques), but it's not clear at this point, in my mind and regardless of the NIE opinion (unless they can produce definitively deductive proofs of those opinions), that Iraq was wrong. We suffered defeats and setbacks after Pearl Harbor as well, that didn't make the Pacific campaign an incorrect initiative as conceived within the overall set of strategies which informed the prosecution of WWII. That's an analogy only, but it reflects the fact that we simply don't know.

The negative triumphalism, the dismissiveness you're voicing, is not at all soundly informed. As noted, it most certainly doesn't warrant the "unfalsifiable" label, a rhetorical flourish at best, not at all substantive or rigorous or better informed.

If you can prove me wrong, in an unfalsifiable manner or otherwise, I'd be interested in your proof.

(Many, many other facts and factors could be brought to bear as well - e.g., Saddam &Sons funding Hamas, Arafat, etc., Saddam &Sons' former internal terror and regional destabilizing influences, their aiding and abetting of the former status quo in general, etc. But that is a different aspect of the overall set of arguments which can be effectively deployed against your and others opinion on the subject. Another aspect still is the fact that the intelligence communicty itself can be highly partisan at times, e.g., the anti-administration interests within the CIA. So, once again, the pejorative use of the "unfalsifiable" label is a self-serving rhetorical device at best.)
9.25.2006 6:28pm
JosephSlater (mail):

Your post itself is arguably evidence to support my argument that the idea that the Iraq war was a good idea, for you and some others, is essentially unfalsifiable. For what is missing in all those paragraphs you typed is an answer to my question: what evidence could possibly convince you that the Iraq war was a bad idea? Sure, history isn't a chemistry set. But if you can't think of ANY set of facts that would convince you that it was a bad idea in the first place -- if proof undercutting any and every rationale for the war emerged, and yet your mind would not change -- then the idea that it was a good idea is unfalsifiable for you, in a way that is meaningful.

In contrast, I can honestly say that if at least most of the many claims the Bush administration had made about Iraq and the likely results of the war had turned out to be true (again, see WMDs, links to 9/11 and Al Qaida, being greeted by flowers, cost estimates, time estimates, etc.), I would have admitted that the war on the whole at least probably was a good idea. Of course those things weren't true, and indeed those facts have changed the minds of many.
9.25.2006 7:07pm
Michael B (mail):
No, not in the least, that's absolute sophomoric nonsense, my argument does not supply any such evidence. Indeed, when you reply in that manner you're simply furnishing proof of your own lazy minded dismissiveness, once again.

I'm dealing with the facts as we currently know them, not an alternative view of recent history. (E.g., most obviously an alternative history which resulted in a nuclear holocaust that could be linked to Iraq would convince me. But so what? That's not the recent history or set of facts we're facing.) I'm not avoiding your question, I'm dismissing it as trivial, anemic and inconsequential. This is not about alternative views of recent history, it's about the real world and the facts as we currently know them, also taking into account future, long-term outlooks as they might reasonably play themselves out.

For example and by contrast I could ask you: if ten or twenty or fifty years from now it can be shown that Iraq and a general forward strategic deployment was propitious (say something analogous to the Truman Doctrine at the beginning of the Cold War), would you agree that it was a wise undertaking? If you answer in the affirmative then you're agreeing with me, if you answer in the negative then you're answering in a manner which is contrary to the very definition of "propitious," hence it's no more than a rhetorical trap. Similarly with your own reductionist example.

It doesn't reduce to being "greeted with flowers"; if it did you'd be right, but it doesn't reduce to such a simplistic, formulaic "proof," which is why I elaborated on other aspects that I find to be critical, far more germane and, indeed, persuasive. Persuasive, that is, in suggesting that we simply don't know, not that I've formed conclusions in either a pro or contra direction. (And of course I'm not arguing mistakes were not made; though I also wouldn't argue that mistakes were not made during WWII either.)
9.25.2006 7:49pm
Fran (mail) (www):
If this war were only being conducted by a Democratic President, then we would really know what the GOP is thinking.

If Iraq is being conducted in the best interests of our nation; troop levels, objectives, planning, recognition of the enemy,(insurgents denied for many months), then something is wrong.

I would suggest that we look at the people responsible for making those decisions. Bush, Rumsfeld and the Generals(chosen by Rumsfeld).

GOP President Lincoln wouldn't have waited this long. Bush claims that the commanders on the ground have gotten what they've asked for.

Have we the people gotten what we've been told? Greeted with flowers, 50-100B, oil revenue will pay...

41 must wish that load had gone down the shower drain.
9.25.2006 8:12pm
JosephSlater (mail):

Adding more gratuitous insults doesn't make your argument any more convincing. At some point, one has to decide whether a war was a good idea or not. True, if the war actually took place, one can never know exactly what would have happened if the war had not taken place, but one can make some educated guesses and have an informed opinion. True, if something good (or bad) happens decades later, we can't know exactly to what extent, if any, the war contributed to it, but we can make some educated guesses and have an informed opinion. That's what historians do after the fact, and what policy-makers are supposed to consider before the fact.

Again, put as plainly as possible, pretty much every justification for the war has been disproven or is going down the drain. Again, for some folks, it appears that no set of facts could convince them the war was a bad idea. Again, you don't provide any for yourself. There's no "trap" there -- I gave you some sets of facts that would have changed my mind about the war, had they been true. Again, for you and a dwindling few others, the claim that the Iraq war was a good idea is unfalsifiable. Insults won't change that, but they will cause this to be my last word on the subject directed to you.
9.25.2006 8:41pm
j. perulfi (mail):
Is the report the first formal assessment of terrorism since the Iraq war or is it the first (ever) formal assessment of terrorism since the Iraq war? If it is the former, there may be some relevance. If it is the latter, it is merely the NYT.
9.25.2006 11:15pm
Michael B (mail):
The insult was directed at your argument, not you personally. Yes, the two are not entirely separable, but when you merely repeat the same position, after I've already made it clear that the scope of my concerns about Iraq are not limited to the scope you're attempting to limit them to, and instead are to be viewed within the broader horizon, the broader strategic interest, then you can admit we're talking about different interests and we can then move on, or you can address my broader concerns - assumming you still wish to engage, which, obviously, is your option. But to merely repeat the same premises you're attempting to limit the argument to, after I've already, and repeatedly, indicated I don't accept those premises, is not terribly productive.

As regards the NIE document, the President has apparently indicated it will be declassified, so we won't have to rely upon the veracity of the NYT and the leaker.
9.26.2006 3:15pm
Michael B (mail):
The declassified portion (small pdf) of the NIE report.
9.27.2006 10:01am