Henley’s Plan: Autarky In The U.S.A.

Maybe I’m just too tired right now; it’s been a heckuva week, on many fronts. But when I was pointed to Jim Henley’s Grand Plan, I just lost the capacity for reasonable thought; it was so dumb, such a dorm-room, bong-hit driven idea of how the world ought to be that I almost left it alone. Then I got a link to it from a non-blog person, and realized that I had to Go Back In There and wrestle with it.

Because for many of the folks on my team – the left – this is what foreign policy ought to look like, and in a big way my fear is that this could become something actually thinkable. And I’m not sure if I’m more scared that Trent’s vision of the world or this one will come to pass. Actually, it’s because I believe that this one leads, almost inevitably, to Trent’s.

“A Grand Strategy for the Rest – The Unqualified Offerings Plan, not just for Iraq but for terrorism generally:

1) Stop borrowing trouble

OK, that makes sense. The problem of course is that – as in the oldest known form of drama, tragedy – the trouble we’re paying for was borrowed generations ago. There’s no ‘ollie ollie oxen free'; no Original Position. So as a game-theory concept, it makes lots of sense. As a basis for real-world policy, it makes very little.

2) “Wait” for the people behind the trouble we’ve already borrowed to get old and tired or die off outright.

Right. First Rawls, then Kuhn; a full plate of philosophy’s Greatest Hits. Sadly, the dynamics are little more complex than that. Yes, the changes are large largely generational, but – a big but – the dynamics making the new generation take positions can’t be reset to zero, there are consequences for disengagement, and so there’s little but hope that would lead one to believe that – absent some positive act – the next generations will be happier to coexist than the last.

No, they don’t “hate us because we’re free.” Or put it this way, they may hate us because we’re free, but very, very, very few people can get worked up enough about our freedom to dedicate themselves to ending it – absent concrete American interference in their business. There’s a big difference between hating someone and troubling to cross the world to try to kick their ass.

Well, there are two problems.

The first one is, yes, they do – they do, because they are a part of an expansionist (as are all evangelical) religion that sees a unified worldwide church as is goal, and more important, because one of the strongest strains in that church was raised from stock created here in the West, and defines itself, not only internally through the Quran, but externally, against the West (see Qutb).

The second problem is that even if we tried, we couldn’t cut the ties that are at the boundaries between our cultures. Trade, migration, media…the big three drivers that force their culture into contact with ours – even without the mechanisms of imperialism (stipulating for the moment that imperialism is as powerful as he suggests) force us to deal with each other. Does he somehow think that the Playboy Channel and MTV will somehow stop being watched in Riyadh? And that this itself won’t be a threat to the established order?

And while he doesn’t go so far as to suggest autarky, he seems to forget that in a progressive analysis of trade – the kind engaged in by people who see hegemony and fight it – the terms of trade are always slanted toward the developed world (the West) and the trade itself is thus a part of the problem.

I want to be perfectly clear that this policy does not instantly remove all dangers. The first law of organizations is self-perpetuation. The existing anti-American terrorist organizations, like Al Qaeda, are not going to call off their jihad just because we pull out of Iraq and Saudi Arabia and stop writing blank checks to the Likud. But absent fresh humiliations, fewer and fewer young Muslim men will find the tired old call to yet more jihad worth heeding.

What humiliations, exactly, did he have in mind? Because I think he’s forgetting that OBL is talking about ancient colonial history, and battles in Andalusia and at the gates of Vienna. These folks have a much better sense of history than we do.

“Wait” is in scare quotes because it sounds more passive than the policy I intend. For one thing, I would continue to harry the men and organization behind the September 2001 atrocities to the ends of the earth. “Don’t Tread on Me” is my policy, and that’s what Al Qaeda did. Bite back hard. At the same time, don’t pretend that everyone on earth doesn’t respond to the same impulse – go tromping in the dens of others and they will bite back too. This country’s conservatives of old were smarter about this kind of thing: they didn’t think they were the only conservatives in the world. They didn’t imagine that you could deploy trooin 150-odd countries without provoking a reaction. They wouldn’t imagine that the reaction was noble, but they respected the force of nature that is the essential conservatism of the planet.

How the hell do we do this, given that we’re supposed to leave the Arab countries alone? Sneak in and assassinate them? Use Predators and Hellfires? Does he think that the Arab world won’t freaking notice when these guys suddenly start turning up dead? How does he think the sovereign countries that we’re supposed to be so sensitive to will react when we kidnap or kill their citizens or guests without their consent?

More important, can I get some of what he’s smoking?

For another thing, I believe the American system, as conceived if not always as practiced, is deeply attractive. So let’s be American. Let’s be free, for one thing. Kill the excresences on the Constitution the current administration as brought forth – the PATRIOT Act, the evisceration of habeas corpus, the asserted power to unreviewably revoke citizenship and declare someone an enemy combatant. Let’s trade and travel and welcome visitors to our shores. Let us, in other words, have the faith that we are our own best advertisement. Thence comes your Muslim reformation.

Yes it is, and here for once we’re largely in agreement. We’re not selling what we’ve got, because in no small part, we’re not living it.

“About those visitors. An obvious trend presents itself: young Muslim students who come to the West for a specifically technical education, who become radicalized politically by a poisonous combination of culture shock, homesickness, youthful hormones and – ironically – insularity (isolating themselves among other young Muslim men). America’s university’s are the glory of our educational system. And from what I’ve read, our graduate technical departments depend on a steady stream of foreign students to keep afloat. But I’d make it a requirement of a student visa that recipients take a heavy dose of humanities, especially American studies courses. I’d also have the State Department screen applicants better, though this would probably be of limited use. (I think the salient problem is students who are moderate at home and become radicals here.) Will cramming humanistic education down the throats of engineering students do any good? The college I dropped out of thinks so. MIT always bragged that it had the toughest humanities requirements of any elite school, glossing over the fact that it had to: it’s the only way most of its students would take those courses. I don’t for a moment believe the humanities requirement would convince every foreign student to love the United States. But it will help engage them with American culture in an open, nonviolent way. If nothing else, it’s an opportunity to let off steam.

Humanities like the Palestinian Studies courses they teach at Berkeley? Henley doesn’t realize or chooses not to see that it is a strong strain of self-hatred in the West that is reflected and amplified into Islamist hatred of the West. They’ve read Fanon, too. They took our own doubts and anger, planted them in much more fertile soil, and are growing the hate that we are dealing with now.

What about the oil? Buy it, same as we do now. Who’s not going to want to sell it to us? Saddam Hussein himself would have sold us all the oil we could use, absent sanctions. You can’t eat the stuff. It doesn’t even make a good salad dressing.

Right. But as noted, they think we’re screwing them by buying it, and we’re supporting a kleptocracy in so doing.

And let’s not forget that you can manipulate economies with it, and if you’re willing to accea little pain, you can shapolicy by paying brokers and thereby making friends. When you deal in hundreds of billions of dollars a year, a small taste will buy a large number of greedy and corrupeople.

What about Iraq? Bring the major players together in one room – anyone with a constituency. Tell them, “fellas, we’re out of here in time for Christmas. Start talking. You’ve got a chance to make your country something much better than you could have imagined. Or you can turn it into hell on earth. It’ll be your doing one way or another.” Stop paying non-Iraqis to do work Iraqis can do.

Right. You’re on your own kids! Have fun storming the castle!! Declare victory and leave. That’s a good plan. Our failure (of intention, planning, and execution) in Vietnam had significant negative consequences for our foreigh and domestic policies for decades.

Who will defend Iraq against its neighbors? Look at the place now. If you were the neighbors, would you want to bite that off? The real military estimated it would take a half-million US trooto secure the joint. You think Iran or Syria or Turkey dare to even try to scraup that kind of manpower?

What if Iraq becomes a weak state complete with Al Qaeda training camand weapons labs? See scare quotes around “wait” and the part about harrying the people behind the attacks on the US to the ends of the earth, above. If camset uwe pound hell out of them. It’s not like we don’t know how to bomb Iraq.

Hang on. Here we go again with the ‘please pound the hell out of them – but do it while you leave them alone’. I think he has a different meaning for ‘leave them alone’ than I do.

What About Israel and the Palestinians? Pull them in and tell them two things. 1) Israel will be paying its own way from now on. They can have what military equipment they can buy. 2) But we also will not be restraining them from any action they may wish to take to safeguard what they imagine to be their security. If they really want to kill Yasser Arafat, we’re not going to stop them. If they want to nuke Tehran, that’s Tehran’s lookout. Concentrates the mind. But Israel will have to stand on its own two feet, financially and politically. If Israel can’t survive as an independent country without ceaseless American financial aid and political backing, then Israel has failed as a refuge for the Jewish people – it’s simply a different version of the very dependence on powerful patrons that the early Zionists were trying to get beyond. I think Israel can survive, with prudent leadershiIronically, the key to the survival of the Jewish people is actually the diaspora: it’s much harder to exterminate the Jews if they aren’t conveniently gathered in one place.

So the end of Israel is AOK with our friend Jim; after all, the disapora will make sure that Jews survive. Who needs the only functioning pro-Western democracy in the Middle East? Ignoring the moral issues, this announcement is the trigger to the nuclear war scenario Trent seems to anticipate in the post below.

Some have feared that anti-Israeli terror grouwould make the US actually evicting Israel’s Jews by armed force the price of peace. We would refuse, of course, and destroy those grouif they messed with us. See “Don’t Tread on Me,” above.

What about cooperation against international terror? I’m for it. For instance, I favor using American law to interdict fundraising and organizing for Hamas, Lashkar, the Tamil Tigers and the IRA within the United States. “Terrorism” will be strictly defined as war crimes by non-state actors, so say that we’ll suppress fundraising for any armed rebellion – it’s bad international relations juju. For the duration of our Al Qaeda problem, I’d keep bases at Diego Garcia, in Turkey, Oman and Qatar and Afghanistan. I’d be willing to provide American trooto help overmatched foreign governments against anti-American terror grouin their midst, but I’d do due diligence to make sure we weren’t just being suckered into settling someone else’s quarrel for them.

So first off, we’ve just frozen the political sphere, saying we’ll support existing governments against rebels no matter what our interests may be. And we’ll send out trooabroad to die – as long as a) they’re attacking terrorists within countries (who will sit by and let our troooperate freely without military or diplomatic consequence); or b) it’s not in our interest, but some higher calling.

What about NATO? Remember when you were a kid, and you had a really good friend, so you started hanging out together constantly, and staying over at each other’s house all the time and suddenly you realized you were really getting on each other’s nerves? That’s us and continental Europe. And the way Iraq is going, I think there’s a good chance it’s us and Great Britain within one to five years. We all need some quiet time to ourselves, in a politico-military way.

Yes, it’s America First, all over again. Let me go get my Lucky Lindy button…

What about Korea? Something like 50% of the South Korean population lives within artillery range of the North. I don’t recall recommending that settlement pattern, do you? On the theory that South Koreans aren’t stupid, I take it to indicate their true estimate of the danger from the North. South Korea is a rich, powerful country that can afford as much defense as it needs. Nevertheless, North Korea has to be watched carefully, since it is desperately poor and either on the verge of becoming a nuclear power or already one. We tell Kim Jong-Il that if he so much as glances in the direction of anyone remotely associated with Osama bin Laden, including the Pakistani ISI or the “government” of Saudi Arabia, we will make his country look like a jamboree of Osirak reenactors. And if we get the idea that he’s trying to sell a nuke, we will provide him more than one of our own.

The Godfather defense. Right. If my kid catches a cold…I’ll kill you. How do we do this with a high enough standard of proof to satisfy a Congressional hearing after the fact? How do we show that KJI is actually running a sale on tactical nukes? Do we rely on the classified ads?

Note that intelligence is an inexact science; he’s willing to trigger the Seond Korean War if they do what we don’t want them to do, as long as…hell, I’m confused. We’ve had such good luck making deals with KJI in the past, why not do it some more?

That’s more or less the Grand Disengagement at a high level. Like I said, I see it taking a generation for the aftershocks to subside. That is, I’m solving the terror problem in no more time than the “reconstruct the entire Middle East” hawks, for a lot less money, with a lot less ammo and preserving a lot more freedom here. If they hate us because we’re free, they’ll really fucking hate us when I’m done.

Excethat it won’t solve the terror problem, it will make it worse. It will either leave terrorists free to operate with impunity or trigger wars with nations whose soverignty we violate to ‘hammer the bad guys’ as we chase them to the ends of the earth.

What if there’s another catastrophic terror attack? That will really suck. It will be important to summon up the resolve to stay the course

if that happens. Look, there are no guarantees in life. And if we get attacked tomorrow, do you think the uberhawks will tell you that this proves they were wrong all along? No. They’ll say it proves how urgent it is that we reconstruct the entire Middle East and probably Venezuela when we get a chance, and they’ll remind us that it’s going to take a generation. Like I said before, Fine, but then non-interventionism gets a generation too.

And then a third one, and a fourth one? And then we lose patience and nuke the fuckers…and we’ve brought my nightmare to life; we’re genoicidal killers. Because Mr. Henley and his crew want to have clean hands while they live in the world.

It takes time for things to play out. The atrocities of September 11, 2001, were in many ways the culmination of two taste treats that decidedly did not go together – the US buildup of militant Islam against the Soviet Union in the latter days of the Cold War and Phase I and II of the US War Against Iraq. (Now in Phase IV.) Phase III of the Iraq War – the invasion that began in March 2003 – was the sort of hideous foreign policy mistake that a country simply can’t avoid paying for in numerous ways. Pulling out will lead to a loss of prestige and will embolden our enemies. For a time. Dragging things out another year or five will cost even more prestige and foster even more emboldening. But we are not looking at the Apocalypse either. Losing Vietnam cost us prestige and emboldened our enemies. Within five years we were tightly cooperating with one of those enemies (China) against the other, and within 15, the other (the USSR) was no more. We cut and ran and won. The Soviet Union stayed the course in Afghanistan and bled to death.

Aha. It’s our fault. Then again, to many, everything in the world is the fault of the West; kind of like those for whom everything in the world is their parent’s fault.

I’m not inherently opposed to cutting and running, if what’s at stake – as it was in Vietnam – is essentially national prestige. You can reclaim that.

But the interests here are (a) inseparable – we can’t economically (or culturally) ‘disengage’ from the Islamic world; and (b) central to our well-being – it’s not only the oil and the economy, but the fact that while the Vietnamese Communist Party signed up for the internationalization of Communism, we didn’t need to worry about them, it was the USSR and China carrying that ball; Hanoi was happy to just bring Saigon into the fold. It was a nationalist manifestation of an international movement. Islamism isn’t nationalist. It hasn’t, doesn’t, and won’t stop at national borders.

Henley doesn’t see that. And that’s why the notion is stupid.

Go Read This Now – Berman in the NYT

Paul Berman has an oped up in the New York Times that summarizes my position on the election and the current situation in Iraq brilliantly. His concluding sentence:

bq. This is not a project for after the election … this is a project for right now. America needs allies. Today, and not just tomorrow. And America needs leaders. If the Bush administration cannot rally support around the world, let other people give it a try.

Meet my blogging theme for the next month.

Friday MotoGP News

As I’ve said, I’m a fan of Valentino Rossi, who bravely changed teams and is now racing Grand Prix motorcycles for Yamaha.

So here are Friday’s MotoGP Qualifying Results From South African Grand Prix:

1. Valentino ROSSI, Yamaha, 1:33.353
2. Sete GIBERNAU, Honda, 1:33.378
3. Loris CAPIROSSI, Ducati, 1:33.709
4. Max BIAGGI, Honda, 1:33.730
5. Kenny ROBERTS, Suzuki, 1:33.841
6. Colin EDWARDS, Honda, 1:33.859
7. Marco MELANDRI, Yamaha, 1:34.100
8. Makoto TAMADA, Honda, 1:34.177
9. Nicky HAYDEN, Honda, 1:34.208
10. Carlos CHECA, Yamaha, 1:34.540

Note that Roberts, Edwards, and Hayden are all Americans (although Edwards is a Texan, so some may disagree…). It’s like the 1970’s again in MotoGP…

The Black Swan

I’ve argued that the 9/11 Commission is fundamentally flawed in that it’s trying to review history as though it were lived with the perfect knowledge we have of the past – which we obviously cannot have of the future.

Tim Oren points us to an excellent op-end in the N.Y. Times on just this subject. It’s by risk analyst Nassim Nicholas Taleb, and here are three great quotes:

Much of the research into humans’ risk-avoidance machinery shows that it is antiquated and unfit for the modern world; it is made to counter repeatable attacks and learn from specifics. If someone narrowly escapes being eaten by a tiger in a certain cave, then he learns to avoid that cave. Yet vicious black swans by definition do not repeat themselves. We cannot learn from them easily.

…infinite vigilance is not possible. Negligence in any specific case needs to be compared with the normal rate of negligence for all possible events at the time of the tragedy — including those events that did not take place but could have. Before 9/11, the risk of terrorism was not as obvious as it seems today to a reasonable person in government (which is part of the reason 9/11 occurred). Therefore the government might have used its resources to protect against other risks — with invisible but perhaps effective results.

The greatest flaw in the commission’s mandate, regrettably, mirrors one of the greatest flaws in modern society: it does not understand risk. The focus of the investigation should not be on how to avoid any specific black swan, for we don’t know where the next one is coming from. The focus should be on what general lessons can be learned from them. And the most important lesson may be that we should reward people, not ridicule them, for thinking the impossible. After a black swan like 9/11, we must look ahead, not in the rear-view mirror.

I think we desperately need to learn to identify and respond to black swans, and that we need to build systems in our society and government that will let us do so. The swans are getting bigger and more deadly.

Who Are We To Judge?

Here, in a nutshell, is why I can’t step up and absolutely condemn Little Green Footballs. The folks that do this kind of thing don’t get to sit at the table and have ‘legitimate grievances’. No grievance justifies this kind of behavior. It is, in a word, barbaric. They videotaped butchery to satisfy their rage and inflame others:

Aljazeera earlier described the tape as “too bloody” and said it will not air it “in order not to upset viewers sensitivities”.

In a statement accompanying the tape, the abductors of the four Italians justified the killing.

“When your president says pulling the troops out of Iraq is non-negotiable then this means he does not care for the safety of his citizens as much as he is concerned with satisfying his masters in the White House,” the statement said.

“We have killed one of the four hostages we have in order to teach a lesson for those who are involved. We know they are guards working for the American occupation in our country.

“We ask you one more time to revolt once again in the face of your leaders and reject this unjust war on us so that we can protect your citizens. We are waiting for that from you or else we will kill them one by one,” added the Green Brigade.

Who are we to judge, you ask?

If you have to ask, you aren’t going to understand my reply.

UPDATE: More here – a show of true bravery by the executed hostage.

Must-See Iraqi T.V.

I can’t believe I forgot to blog this today…

We’ve been working closely with Jim Hake, of Spirit of America; Jim has fielded a new request from the 1st Marine Division – you know, the guys and gals in Falluja – they want to help set up a series of low-powerd TV stations, staffed by Iraqis, that will try and counter the two dominant themes in media coverage in Iraq:

* If it bleeds (or burns) it leads;
* If it makes the US look bad, it leads.

I’m not going to comment on how obvious this is, and how, instead of working with one guy in West L.A. and a bunch of bloggers, we should have been doing this as our troops moved North.

Instead, I’m going to comment on the wonderful flexibility of our people over there who will do what it takes to get what they need to do the job.

Click here to see what the Marines need, and help them (and us) out. And thanks to all the other blogs who are working on this as well, and to Jim for letting us help.

(and yes, I know I don’t have a TV set; in this case, I’ll make an exception!)

Between Eva Braun and the Porsche 911

Sometimes I just god-damn wonder about people.

It’s been a year and a month, roughly, since the start of the war in Iraq, and approximately a year since army-to-army hostilities ended.

And, overall, large groups of people – both within Iraq and the West – are declaring the occupation a failure, and the economy in Iraq collapsed and doomed. And, on a basic level, it’s our fault, because we didn’t have a Plan.

Now I have a number of issues with what has been done, and I’ll set some of those out in a later post, but I want to make one point first as a way of framing the discussion around a basic set of facts.

For many of us, there’s a kind of black hole between Hitler and Eva’s last stand in the bunker and the Porsche 911. Somehow, Germany – without taking a lot of room in history books – went from war, to partition, via the Airlift, to world economic leadership. That’s not quite the case. Let me offer up a few tidbits, so that you’ll understand how hard things were – and how much had to be done – between June 5, 1945 and, say 1950.

Here’s what the economy looked like in 1946 and 1947:

After World War II the German economy lay in shambles. The war, along with Hitler’s scorched-earth policy, had destroyed 20 percent of all housing. Food production per capita in 1947 was only 51 percent of its level in 1938, and the official food ration set by the occupying powers varied between 1,040 and 1,550 calories per day. Industrial output in 1947 was only one-third its 1938 level. Moreover, a large percentage of Germany’s working-age men were dead. At the time, observers thought that Germany would have to be the biggest client of the U.S. welfare state.

and this:

The winters of 1945/46 and 1946/47 were the worst Germans can remember. They were cold, and as many houses were still damaged, there was a lack of fuel (coal) and people were undernourished, many starved or froze to death. The British and the Americans, in their respective zones, did their best to alleviate the situation. The US Red Cross distributed addresses of German families to US citizens who were descendants of German emigrants and, in many cases, relatives of those in need. The American relatives than sent CARE PARCELS containing durable goods extremely scarce in war-torn Germany. The British efforts to prevent the German population from starvation stressed the country’s economy (which had not recovered from 5 years of war either) to the limit. During this process, the population of West Germany began to regard the British and Americans as liberators rather than occupants.

In large part, this was both the result of the extraordinarily destructive war, but also of deliberate policy on the part of the victorious Allies:

With surrender came the time for retribution. In the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) Directive 1067 of April 1945, General Dwight D. Eisenhower was instructed to occupy Germany “not…for the purpose of liberation but as a defeated enemy nation.” Allied occupation was to bring “home to the Germans that Germany’s ruthless warfare and the fanatical Nazi resistance have destroyed the German economy and made chaos and suffering inevitable and that the Germans cannot escape responsibility for what they have brought upon themselves.”

Such a shift in policy from retribution to rebuilding, from collective guilt to assistance, also meant a renunciation of reparations and of the dismantling of factories: Draining financial and industrial resources from Germany was hardly beneficial to its economic recovery. In early 1946, less than a year after V-E Day, this was a hard pill to swallow for most Americans. But Truman agreed with Churchill, and on May 25, Truman halted all reparations from the U.S. Zone. The punitive Reparations and Level of Industry Plan for the four zones—agreed upon only after months of haggling on March 27, 1946—was quietly scuttled.

To an extent, it was a result of inadequate planning. In his essay rebutting James Bacques’ charges that Eisenhower deliberately starved a million Nazi POW’s, Stephen Ambrose says:

After the first week of May, all of Eisenhower’s calculations as to how many people he would be required to feed in occupied Germany became woefully inadequate. He had badly underestimated, for two reasons. First, the number of German soldiers surrendering to the Western Allies far exceeded what was expected (more than five million, instead of the anticipated three million) because of the onrush of German soldiers across the Elbe River to escape the Russians. So too with German civilians – there were millions fleeing from east to west, about 13 million altogether, and they became Eisenhower’s responsibility. Eisenhower faced shortages even before he learned that there were 17 million more people to feed in Germany than he had expected.

No food shortage? This is the report of the Military Governor for Germany in July 1945: “The food situation throughout Western Germany is perhaps the most serious problem of the occupation. The average food consumption in the Western Zones is now about one-third below the generally accepted subsistence level.” The September report declares, “Food from indigenous sources was not available to meet the present authorized ration level for the normal consumer, of 1,550 calories per day.”

Mr. Bacque says that the prisoners were receiving 1,550 calories a day, and he contends that such a ration means slow starvation. He apparently never looked at what civilians were getting, in Germany or in the liberated countries. In Paris in 1945, the calorie level was 1,550 for civilians. It was only slightly higher in Britain, where rationing continued. It was much lower in Russia, where rationing also continued. As noted, the official ration for German civilians was 1,550, but often not met. In Vienna in the summer of 1945 the official ration sometimes fell to 500.

There is such a thing as common sense. Anyone who was in Europe in the summer of 1945 would be flabbergasted to hear that there was no food shortage.

As we realized the inadequacy of the Morgenthau plan, which intended to ‘pastoralize’ Germany as a way of ending the militant nature – and capabilities – of the German people. By all accounts, the plan was a disaster in conception and execution.

In reaction, elements of the U.S. Government reacted with their better natures.

I need not tell you that the world situation is very serious. That must be apparent to all intelligent people. I think one difficulty is that the problem is one of such enormous complexity that the very mass of facts presented to the public by press and radio make it exceedingly difficult for the man in the street to reach a clear appraisement of the situation. Furthermore, the people of this country are distant from the troubled areas of the earth, and it is hard for them to comprehend the plight and consequent reactions of the long-suffering peoples, and the effect of those reactions on their governments in connection with our efforts to promote peace in the world.

In considering the requirements for the rehabilitation of Europe, the physical loss of life, the visible destruction of cities, factories, mines, and railroads was correctly estimated, but it has become obvious during recent months that this visible destruction was probably less serious than the dislocation of the entire fabric of European economy. For the past 10 years conditions have been highly abnormal. The feverish preparation for war and the more feverish maintenance of the war effort engulfed all aspects of national economies. Machinery has fallen into disrepair or is entirely obsolete. Under the arbitrary and destructive Nazi rule, virtually every possible enterprise was geared into the German war machine. Long-standing commercial ties, private institutions, banks, insurance companies, and shipping companies disappeared, through loss of capital, absorption through nationalization, or by simple destruction. In many countries, confidence in the local currency has been severely shaken. The breakdown of the business structure of Europe during the war was complete. Recovery has been seriously retarded by the fact that two years after the close of hostilities, a peace settlement with Germany and Austria has not been agreed upon. But even given a more prompt solution of these difficult problems, the rehabilitation of the economic structure of Europe quite evidently will require a much longer time and greater effort than has been foreseen.

George Marshall – June 5, 1947

And they showed results:

During the last 10 months notable progress has been made in Western Germany, which is apparent to all the world. An entirely new atmosphere of hope and creative activity has replaced the lethargy and despair of a year ago.

Dean Atcheson – April 28, 1949

It took 4 years from the end of hostilities to start the turnaround of the German economy.

We started to implement a plan that would have turned Germany into Southern France, and turned 180 degrees and helped Germany reindistrialize.

That’s how things work in the real world. They progress in fits and starts, change and turn, and most of all, they take time.

The forces that oppose us are convinced that they are more patient than we are. They are convinced that if things in Iraq aren’t perfect – if the power isn’t on and unemployment ended and all the Iraqi women listening to NPR by September – well, it’ll be a quagmire then. And then what’ll we do?

Dean Atcheson and George Marshall were probably worried about quagmire as well. But they simply put their heads down and worked, and experimented, and tried things until – at the end of the day – they outlasted the problem.

They were leaders. We need some too.

Clarke vs. Dean (Diana Dean)

[Update: Note that the Seattle Times itself makes the exactly the same point that I do (hat tip to Instapundit)]

Fred Kaplan takes on Condi Rice in Slate. I’m not enough of a judge of inside-the-beltway baseball to have a sense whether Rice is a good bureaucracy wrangler or not. I do fully accept that doing so is a critical part of her job, and is a big part of what she’ll ultimately be judged for, which means in part that I’m reserving final judgment on how she’s done in the job for a bit.

Kaplan makes some arguments about why she isn’t, and you ought to read them and make your own decision.

But before you, do, let me alert you to a large steaming prairie platter set in the middle of his argument.He says:

This was one of Clarke’s most compelling points. In his book, testimony, and several TV interviews, Clarke has argued that the Clinton administration thwarted al-Qaida’s plot to set off bombs at Los Angeles airport on the eve of the millennium because intelligence reports of an impending terrorist attack were discussed at several meetings of Cabinet secretaries. Knowing they’d have to come back and tell the president what they were doing to prevent an attack, these officials went back to their departments and “shook the trees” for information. When Bush came to power, Rice retained Clarke and his counterterrorism crew, but she demoted their standing; terrorism was now discussed (and, even then, rarely) at meetings of deputy secretaries, who lacked the same clout and didn’t feel the same pressure.

This is a key point, and is, in fact the only fact-based argument he makes.

And, from all the information I’ve seen, it’s completely full of it.

I haven’t read Clarke’s book (yet), but I do remember the news accounts both at the time and afterward of the arrest of Ahmed Ressam, was that he had acted hincky when at the border checkpoint, and a normal border patrol officer hunch caused them to pull him in for close inspection. They searched his car – for drugs – and he tried to run and was chased down.

I missed the part in this story where – like at Waco – senior government officials stood by an open phone line and communicated closely with the troops on the ground. No one took credit for it in 2000, when it would have made a difference in an election.

And I’ve got to believe that if Clarke is taking credit for it now – claiming that good senior staff work foiled the Millennium Plot – either he’s puffing like a freaking blowfish, or there’s some data out there that hasn’t made it to the public record.

Here’s the story from the Seattle Times:

The Coho arrived in Port Angeles in the dark, just before 6 p.m., the last boat of the day. Customs inspector Diana Dean stopped each car as it rolled off, asking the drivers a few basic questions and wishing them a good trip.

The last car in line was a green Chrysler 300M with British Columbia plates.

“Where are you going?” “Sattal.”

“Why are you going to Seattle?” “Visit.”

“Where do you live?” “Montreal.”

“Who are you going to see in Seattle?” “No, hotel.”

The driver was fidgeting, jittery, sweating. His hands disappeared from sight as he began rummaging around the car’s console. That made Dean nervous.

She handed him a customs declaration to fill out, a subtle way of stalling while she took a closer look. He filled out the form and handed it back. By this time, Dean observed, he was acting “hinky.”

She asked him to turn the car off, pop open the trunk and step outside. Noris was slow to respond but complied.

At this point, the other customs inspectors were finished and waiting to go home. They came over to help process the last car of the day. Dean told them this might be a “load vehicle” … code for one used for smuggling. Inspector Mark Johnson took over the interrogation.

“Habla español?” he asked.

“Parlez-vous français?” the man replied, handing over his ID. Not a passport or driver’s license, but his Costco card.

“So you like to shop in bulk? You know, the 120-roll pack of toilet paper?” Johnson joked. He escorted Noris to a table, where he asked him to empty his pockets.

Inspector Mike Chapman searched the suitcase in the trunk. As he was doing that, inspector Danny Clem reached in and unscrewed the fastener on the spare-tire compartment. He opened the panel, looked inside and called out to Johnson.

Johnson, grabbing Noris by the shoulders, led him over to the trunk. At a hefty 240 pounds, Johnson had no trouble maneuvering the slim Noris. They peered in and saw no spare tire. In its place were several green bags that appeared to filled with white powder, as well as four black boxes, two pill bottles and two jars of brown liquid. A drug dealer, perhaps?

Johnson felt Noris shudder. He escorted Noris back to the table and patted him down for weapons. Inside Noris’ camel’s-hair coat was a bulge. As Johnson was slipping off the coat to take a closer look, he was suddenly left holding an empty garment. Noris was fleeing.

By the time it sank in, Noris was nearly a block away. Johnson and Chapman took off on foot, yelling, “Stop! Police!”

With his head start, Noris escaped. The inspectors couldn’t find him. Then Chapman noticed movement under a pickup parked in front of a shoe store. He squatted down, saw Noris, drew his gun and ordered him to come out with his hands up.

Noris stood up, arms raised, and looked at Chapman, just 20 feet away with his gun drawn. Then he turned and ran. “Stop! Police!”

Johnson joined Chapman on Noris’ tail. Noris bounced off a moving car but continued running. When he got to the middle of a busy intersection, he reversed direction, headed for a car stopped at the light and grabbed the driver’s door handle. The woman behind the wheel, startled, stepped on the gas, ran the red light and sent Noris spinning. Chapman and Johnson swarmed him.

They took him back to the terminal and handed him over to the Port Angeles police, who put him in the back seat of a patrol car.

Johnson took a sample of the white powder from the trunk to test. Was it heroin, speed, cocaine? Negative on each. As he shook the jars of brown liquid, Noris, who could see Johnson from the patrol car, ducked down to the floor.

Within a couple of days, the inspectors would learn that the brown liquid Johnson had shaken was a powerful, highly unstable relative of nitroglycerin that could have blown them all to bits.

Funny, I don’t see Richard Clarke’s name anywhere in that story.

Fred, care to shed some light on it for us?

Bob Kerrey in the NYT

Bob Kerrey has an oped up in today’s New York Times on his response to Condi Rice’s testimony and on his criticism of Bush’s strategy in dealing with the WoT.

First. let me say what a colossally offensive idea it is to me that someone charged with one of the most serious investigations of my lifetime – more serious in many ways than the Watergate investigation – would , before concluding hearings and outside the context of his fellow committee members – take a public stand like this.

I’ve been critical of these hearings as having been overly politicized, and focussed too much on the good of the respective parties involved, rather than of the Republic and this bit of gratuitous grandstanding validates all of those criticisms.

We need a careful, thoughtful, ruthless examination of the failures in doctrine and practice that led up to the events of 9/11, and based on this column alone, this circus of a hearing isn’t it. The fact that he’s willing to go public with his prejudgement at this point in the process makes a mockery of that process, and in turn damages our ability to look at the real problems that led to 9/11.

But let’s move past my annoyance about the provenance of the document, and talk about it on its merits.

At Thursday’s hearing before the 9/11 commission, Condoleezza Rice, President Bush’s national security adviser, gave a triumphal presentation. She was a spectacular witness.

I was a tough critic of some of her answers and assertions, though I believe I was at least as tough with the national security adviser for President Clinton. At the beginning and end of every criticism I have made in this process, I have also offered this disclaimer: anyone who was in Congress, as I was during the critical years leading up to Sept. 11, 2001, must accept some of the blame for the catastrophe. It was a collective failure.

Two things about that failure are clear to me at this point in our investigation. The first is that 9/11 could have been prevented, and the second is that our current strategy against terrorism is deeply flawed. In particular, our military and political tactics in Iraq are creating the conditions for civil war there and giving Al Qaeda a powerful rationale to recruit young people to declare jihad on the United States.

I’m sorry – they didn’t have a powerful recruiting presence in 2000? The videos of the USS Cole and the ruins in Manhattan weren’t good recruiting tools? What – you’re afraid they’re going to get pissed off at us? Here’s a question for you, Senator: How would we tell the difference?

Of course the attacks on 9/11 could have been prevented. So could the assassination of JFK, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and the battle at Little Big Horn. History is contingent, and the chains that lead to large events are themselves fragile. The problem is that we have only partial information at any time, and that we’re selective in what we look at. Looking forward, we’re usually looking at the wrong information, and don’t have all of it.

How many Arab men flew on 9/11? Which ones do we look at, which ones do we devote resources to, which ones do we detain?

How the hell do we know? Today, we know because we had the passenger manifests (and brave members of the cabin crews identified the hijackers by seat in their calls from the doomed planes). We know because we spent millions of investigator-hours poring over the trails left by those 19 men. But how do we do it moving forward in time?

The case for the first conclusion begins with this fact: On 9/11, 19 men defeated every defense mechanism the United States had placed in their way. They succeeded in murdering 3,000 men and women whose only crime was going to work that morning. And they succeeded at a time of heightened alert … long after we recognized that Al Qaeda was capable of sophisticated military operations.

I’ve said in the past that what we had was largely a failure of doctrine and imagination.

We allowed people to freely fly with knives (I flew with a Spyderco Delica for eight or ten years). The only sophisticated thing they did was to find four people who knew they would die and were willing to learn to fly, and 15 thugs who went along for the ride.

Remember, the attack occurred after President Clinton had let pass opportunities to arrest or kill Al Qaeda’s leadership when the threat was much smaller. It occurred after President Bush and Ms. Rice were told on Jan. 25, 2001, that Al Qaeda was in the United States, and after President Bush was told on Aug. 6, 2001, that “70 F.B.I. field investigations were open against Al Qaeda” and that the “F.B.I. had found patterns of suspicious activities in the U.S. consistent with preparation for hijacking.”

Once again I know that President Clinton, President Bush and Ms. Rice all faced difficult challenges in the years and months before 9/11; I do not know if I would have handled things differently had I been in their shoes. It has been difficult for all of us to understand and accept the idea that a non-state actor like Osama bin Laden, in conjunction with Al Qaeda, could be a more serious strategic threat to us than the nation-states we grew up fearing.

But here’s the nub of the question: would Al Quieda have been a serious threat as a non-state actor without the explicit and tacit support of states?

But this recognition does not absolve me of my obligation to ask those who were responsible for our national security at the time what they did to protect us against this terrorist threat.

One episode strikes me as particularly important. On July 5, 2001, Ms. Rice asked Richard Clarke, then the administration’s counterterrorism chief, to help domestic agencies prepare against an attack. Five days later an F.B.I. field agent in Phoenix recommended that the agency investigate whether Qaeda operatives were training at American flight schools. He speculated that Mr. bin Laden’s followers might be trying to infiltrate the civil aviation system as pilots, security guards or other personnel.

Yes, and I’ll bet we can find memos from other FBI field agents worried that Aryan Nation supporters are planning to break members out of jail, abortion clinic murders are prepared to attack … and so on. It the process of setting priority that’s critical, and sadly, we’re human and sometimes don’t have the right ones; and when we do have the right ones, it’s often for the wrong reason.

Ms. Rice did not receive this information, a failure for which she blames the structure of government. And, while I am not blaming her, I have not seen the kind of urgent follow-up after this July 5 meeting that anyone who has worked in government knows is needed to make things happen. I have not found evidence that federal agencies were directed clearly, forcefully and unambiguously to tell the president everything they were doing to eliminate Qaeda cells in the United States.

As opposed to all the other competing priorities (white supremacist cells, organized crime, drug smugglers, etc.) which were as high on the radar before 9/11? In reality, at that time the Bush administration was focussed on the ‘long game’ in taking the attack to Al Quieda, from what I’ve read. It was one of many foreign policy issues cooking in the background, and yes, the failure to move it up was a horrible one – but as Greg Easterbrook pointed out – I’m not sure it’s one that could have been changed.

My second conclusion about the president’s terrorism strategy has three parts. First, I believe President Bush’s overall vision for the war on terrorism is wrong. … military and civilian alike.

OK, here’s a conclusion. Let’s see where it goes.

Second, the importance of this distinction is that it forces us to face the Muslim world squarely and to make an effort to understand it. It also allows us to insist that we be judged on our merits … and not on the hate-filled myths of the street. Absent an effort to establish a dialogue that permits respectful criticism and disagreement, the war on terrorism will surely fail. The violence against us will continue.

Yes, that’s absolutely true. We need to be judged on our merits; but the state controlled and sponsored media, and the state sponsored religious institutions are the ones spreading hatred about us. How does he suggest that we pick that puzzle apart?

Such a dialogue does not require us to cease our forceful and at times deadly pursuit of those who have declared war on us. Quite the contrary. It would enable us to gather Muslim allies in a cause that will bring as much benefit to them as it does to us. That’s why President Bush was right to go to a Washington mosque shortly after Sept. 11. His visit … and his words of assurance that ours was not a war against Islam but against a much smaller group that has perverted the teachings of the Koran … earned the sympathy of much of the Muslim world.

One of us – he or I – is completely wrong in our understanding of the nature of the Arab and Muslim political world right now. In my understanding, the governments in the much of the Arab (and non-Arab Muslim) world are faced with increased pressure from fundamentalist religious movements that want to see sh’aria imposed and see the Muslim world in a conflict with the secular West. Who, exactly, does he think he can gather in to think kind of constructive mutual dialog?

How do we have such a dialog with diplomats from a country where we are pursuing ‘those who have declred war on us’? When the act of pursuing them is itself an act of war on the host country?

That the sympathy wasn’t universal, that some in the Arab world thought the murder of 3,000 innocents was justified, caused many Americans to question whether the effort to be fair was well placed. It was … and we would be advised to make the effort more often.

Third, we should swallow our pride and appeal to the United Nations for help in Iraq. We should begin by ceding joint authority to the United Nations to help us make the decisions about how to transfer power to a legitimate government in Iraq. Until recently I have not supported such a move. But I do now. Rather than sending in more American forces or extending the stay of those already there, we need an international occupation that includes Muslim and Arab forces.

OK, so the UN has been a cesspool of corrupt (or inept while others corruptly took advantage) oversight of the Iraqi export economy for the last decade. In addition, it is essentially the creature of forces who see themselves in opposition to or desiring to extract something from the West – an international version of the ‘poverty pimps’ of the urban programs of the 1970’s. And we’re supposed to hand the keys over to them?

Their effectiveness in Palestine aside, let’s add Bosnia, Rwanda, and a number of other spots on the tourist maps in Hell as places where the blue-helmeted smurfs have shown themselves to be at best ineffective and at worst, a fig leaf for disaster.

Time is not on our side in Iraq. We do not need a little more of the same thing. We need a lot more of something completely different.

Time only isn’t on our side if we say it isn’t, and so demonstrate to the world that we can’t stick with this long enough to win. Pronouncements like that are basically idiotic. Should we broaden diplomatic efforts both within the West and outside it? Of course. But our basic diplomatic position should be borrowed from the Civil Rights days, when people sang “We Shall Not Be Moved.”

More later…