reply to post by SplitInfinity
I think some parallels and some contrasts can be drawn between Afghanistan and the current Syrian situation.
As you say, the actual decisions here are almost always politically driven - but it may not be the politics that one first assumes. In Afghanistan,
the political decision that led to the situation you describe started off with conventional generals who wanted more fruit salad for their chests -
not to do the actual work to get it, but to be the ones to send the boys who DO do the work in. Up to the point they started sending conventional
troops to take over the fight, it was a winning war. We had Special Forces and a few other SpecOps on the ground doing what they do best, and it was
rolling right along. When Kabul fell and the Taliban fell, we had about 100 US troops on the ground, and we were skating right along.
Then some conventional generals got jealous, wanted their "fair share" of pretty ribbons, and they flooded the place with the wrong folks, It was
the politics of jealousy, and I don't believe those decisions in Afghanistan had anything at all to do with the intelligence community. They were all
doing fine until jealousy reared it's ugly green head. 25 years or so ago we routed a superpower of the day from Afghanistan using the SF techniques
for running a guerrilla war. a few SF types, a few CIA knuckle draggers, and a few "independent contractors" in country, and some of the men in the
Gray Flannel Cammies across the fence in Pakistan, and we routed them by Feb, 1989. Now, in contrast, we send in our OWN mega forces, and can't seem
to eliminate the Taliban. It's in reverse, any analyst worth his salt ought to be able to see that and correct it, and the fact that it's going the
way it is I chalk up to jealousy, rather than an intel failure.
Iraq was a bit different. It looks to me like the intel there was skewed to pursue an agenda. A genuine "political agenda", rather than the military
professional jealousy. this is why the war in Afghanistan languished for so long, being placed on the back burner in favor of a side adventure into
Iraq. Now whether that was the fault of the intel providers, or the fault of the actual decision makers, is an arguable thing. From all appearances,
the intel was correct at the time it was provided, but was misused and abused by the decision makers, twisted out of shape to promote their own
agenda. They used it as an excuse to prop up a pre-determined agenda, rather than pursue the avenues the intelligence actually indicated should be
pursued. We see what the result was, and that game ain't over yet.
The Iraq "intelligence failure", which was in all reality a policy failure instead, feeds directly into the Syrian situation right now. The "WMDs"
WERE in Iraq - we know this in part because we supplied some of them ourselves, we know some were used by Hussein against the Kurds and the Iranians
in the Iraq-Iran war - and then suddenly they weren't, and the buzzword became "where ARE those WMDs?" All we found there were a few items, a shell
here and a shell there. the rest were nowhere to be found, I know of one case where a VX shell was rigged into an IED in a roadway median, but was
found and disarmed before it was detonated. There were other cases of finds like that, but not many at all, and all of those were kept under wraps for
some unfathomable reason.
Now that war drums are beating in Syria, we're hearing the same thing - for what appears to be the same reason. I've no doubt that those WMD's made
it into Syria. I equally have no doubt that they will be used as a prop for a pre-determined agenda. They don't give a rats ass about the "WMDs" in
Syria, either - they're just a means to an end to scare folks into towing the line for the agenda. "We've GOT to go neutralize those WMDs! Oh, and
by the way, lets just scramble internal Syrian affairs while we're there, and then forget all about the WMDs in the process".
After all, we may need them to show up in Lebanon soon. Then we'll find that some of them made it into Jordan as well, and when the unrest boils over
there, why, we can use those same old WMDs to give the Muslim Brotherhood the keys to THAT kingdom, too!
It's the same old song and dance. it's not an intelligence failure, it's a policy failure, and the intel agencies will just take the fall for
"providing bad intel". Wash, rinse, repeat, and take the road show on to the next stopoff point.
Instead, I think we ought to use the intelligence and analysis as provided, rather than as a convenient prop for bad decisions by the simple expedient
of reading more into it than is actually there.