The "hawks" I was referring to include Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Wolfowitz, but not Powell.
The expected reply. I presumed that Wolfowitz would be at the center of your concern. I left his name off the short list and added Colin Powell as a depth probe. Your views are clearly not idle speculation, which is good. We might learn things from each other here.
I would also like to learn more about the members and actions of the Defense Policy Board.
Why? Are their interests and potential conflicts of interest any more (or less) relevant than those of other external advisors? The buck stops with elected officials. They decide. They are the ones with the power, the ones with the accountability, the ones that should be blamed for any and all corruption. What sets this group apart from any other advisory panel? Do we not have similar panels for matters of science? For matters of economics? Etc? There is a requirement, and properly so, that elected officials divest themselves of holdings that could create any conflicts of interest. That would be a pretty tough standard to extend to advisors and lobbyists, though. Often the best source of expert analysis and advice will come from those who do happen to have vested interests, since it is from looking after those interests that the expertise developed in the first place.
I agree that increased transparency in the post-Enron age is desirable. One of my biggest criticisms of this administration is its general tendency to obscure. By all means, let light shine into the nooks and crannies and uncover any irregularities. Nevertheless, I agree with and wholly support the administration's push to reassert the importance of Executive Privilege. I find Cheney's argument on that issue overwhelmingly persuasive. So even transparency has its practical limits.
One thing it did was examine the so-called "Wolfowitz doctrine"
Examine away. To me, the pertinent issue is not the origin and evolution of the policy, but rather whether or not the policy itself is sound, being the right direction for us to go, in the grander scheme.
The Frontline episode speculated that Cheney had been an active contributor to the original draft as well, but did not provide specific evidence.
Ranking officials from the administration of Bush 41, including Eagleberger, Scowcroft, and Baker, have all insisted that the decision to halt the Gulf War when we did was the right decision at the time, given the intelligence we had at that time. They have also admitted that if more had been known, such as just how close Huessein was to a nuclear breakthrough, and such only-in-hindsight tidbits such as his surviving far longer than anybody then thought possible, and the ultimate futility of the Iraq Containment Policy, that pushing on to Baghdad would have been justified, and perhaps also the right thing to do. Eagleberger, Scowcroft, and Baker all came out with concerns last fall, before Bush went to the UN, but Cheney turned out to have been right: the inspections were doomed, a futile and even vain pursuit.
That much is pretty much out in the open. What's not clear is how far Wolfowitz and others in the defense department believe that the policy of preemption should be taken.
I disagree. I think it has become quite clear. The policy, in general, has been adopted by the administration. They might have chosen to quibble and spin, to apply Clinton Doublespeak(TM), but they haven't. The word "preemption" has been used. They are not skirting the issue and playing diplomatic patty cake. That being, since the "moral clarity" aspect of the policy has also been adopted.
Now, if war with Iraq keeps the security alert at orange, doesn't it sound like Perle has the potential for financial gain through Trireme?
That's quite a stretch. All they'd need to do to keep the security alert at Orange is... to keep it at Orange. "Chatter" is a rather vague thing, and they could go in and out of citing that or other causes for dialing the Terror Alert up and down from Yellow to Orange on a regular basis, if they're willing to yoyo the entire nation so that one pal "on the outside" of the government can rake in a few extra bucks. Sounds like a wild stretch to me, at least. No need to take on the enormous, inevitable political heat of a war just for a few "defense dollars".
I'm sorry, Gris, you really lost me here. This line of thinking is pretty hardline partisan, on par with suspecting Clinton of bombing Iraq as a diversion from scandal. It runs rather far up the "cynicism meter".
I'm certainly not going to spend any time extolling the virtues of the countries he mentioned, but it does make me wonder exactly how they plan to approach them.
As the Frontline article you linked me to points out, GW Bush took on both "hawkish" and "dovish" advisors in equal force. Bob Woodward's book tells pretty much the same tale, painting the Prez as being firmly in charge and deliberately surrounding himself with opposing views and encouraging them to have at one another in the most rigorous debate. That's actually a rather clever way to have the weaknesses, as well as the strengths, of these points of view exposed to him. Now whether he came up with the clever balance all on his own, or merely took the advice of others who set this up for him, I can't say. I'm not sure it matters.
You don't seem to find any comfort in that, though. Just the presence and influence of any hawkish perspective alarms you?
Yup, my sources are the New Yorker and Public Broadcasting, so you can cry "liberal media" at me in you want.
Perhaps you've mistaken me for Ozy.
I do have one comment on this line, though. You spill the word "hawk" as if, by definition, that ought to be viewed as a Very Bad Thing(TM).
I've made a case in this thread in the last 48 hours as to how, in some circumstances, the hawks are more likely to achieve long term stability and peace than the doves. I don't even see this principle as debatable, however I do admit that distinguishing between when the dove approach has not been adequately tried vs when it has been tried and has failed, is of vital importance. The hawks who want to jump the gun risk much. Even if they are right, if their path is pursued then we'll never know they were right. You know, the Catch 22 of Increased Security: you can't prove a negative. How will we ever know that the attack that didn't come would have come otherwise? The hawk vs dove equation gets massively sticky very quickly.
The question of the day is whether the crew of hawks who assembled what you've called the Wolfowitz doctrine are right or not. If they are, then Wolfowitz was a genius ahead of his time, and this batch of hawks have had a foresight and clarity of vision that could have stood us in better stead if it had come to greater influence more quickly.
Surely there is danger in being too hawkish. What the French (and all their allies and adherents) seem unable to admit, is that there is also danger in being too dovish. I hate to keep pointing back to the Nazis, that becomes almost cliche, but as alarmed as you may be by "what the hawks might do if nobody was watching", I am at least equally alarmed by what the enemies might do if we cage all of our hawks.
OK, it makes sense that there is a group of knowledgeable, experienced people who meet and advise our current elected officials on such matters. It also makes sense that, because they're dealing with classified information, their meetings would be confidential. But, that does mean that there's a group of unelected indivisuals, largely invisible to the press and public, who are meeting regularly and who have the contacts and the ability to influence national policy. That doesn't do much for my confidence in my ability to understand exactly what is going on and why it's happening!
So let me ask you this. Do you admit that there is any advantage to our interests, at this point, to retain some information as secret, even Top Secret, because if it fell into the hands of our rivals and enemies, that our national security could be threatened?
That may seem like a condescending question, but unless your position is one of proliferation of weapons technology information (just as an example) then you have to accept that somebody has to "be in charge" of the secrets. And unless you want our elected officials to make all the decisions on their own, without advice, on whatever personal expertise or lack thereof they may hold, then we must accept that advisors not in positions of direct accountability ARE going to gain some access to secrets and their advice will have direct influence on -- though not control over -- our policy. Um... where's the problem here?
Seriously. What is the alternative you want to see? I am all for checks and balances in the system, but once again, it is the elected officials with the actual power, and they are accountable both to the laws of the land and to the various mechanisms descending either directly or indirectly from election results.
Where you see cause for alarm, I see reason to take heart. The system seems to me to be working. Perhaps it could use a little more daylight, but I don't think it is anywhere near broken, at least not in light of the available alternatives.
While the watchdogs and partisans and various media out there serve a purpose in questioning issues of this sort, I find them ALL vulnerable to spin. Is there any such thing as a spin-free zone these days? Pretty hard to find. Articles like the story you pointed to are useful. Always good to be informed, and to check into both sides of important issues. But I go back to what I said in my last post to you. I've watched these officials in interviews. I've seen them respond to the questions. I can see when they are spouting the official line, everyone sticking to the same story, but I also see sometimes when they go beyond that line and actually answer questions.
And I wonder: why are you so alarmed? Do you really believe the hawks are loose cannon who want to lead us to ruin? I think a lot of what they've been saying for a decade now, in ever more pointed forms, has been borne out. Wolfowitz was right about our lack of support for the Shiite uprising that WE called for. We didn't do the right thing there, and we're paying for it now. I hope we can get that debt paid off here, finally, and move forward again, but it will take a lot of work and some painful sacrifice. Cheney was right about Saddam's reaction to more inspections, too. If these guys keep turning up the right answers, while the dove solutions and speculations keep falling short, that's going to speak for itself.
I think it's worth noting that in the wake of being egregiously backstabbed by the French, that Powell is now firmly on board with the hawks. The diplomacy was given its best shot. What more was there to do, with the French standing in the way of any unity? There was NO HOPE of bringing effective political pressure to bear through the UN. Can we at least agree on that much?
The hawkish policy is a rising star not because there's no one sensible at the helm, but instead because both sides have been given their say and their sway, and the dovish approach is hamstrung by a decade of degradation of our credibility. The pendulum will swing back the other way in the wake of this war. If it does not, I'll come back here and eat crow. It's my belief that the current war will see the vindication of the hawks and their approach, but also that this very triumph will reopen the way for talks that can actually get things done, renewing the doves and giving rise to their star. We don't want to become the bullies of the world, and we won't. But we do need to have some backbone, and more urgently, to be perceived as having firm resolve, if we are going to be able to insist that others keep their agreements with us.
No more Carter-style "blind trust" accords with North Korea. We should demand assurances from them that are credible and verifiable, along with returning them enough assurances and aid to make it in their interests to play along. A firm but fair hand will be our best shot to resolve that one peacefully. Are we taking the easy road by conquering Iraq, picking on the littlest guy first? Maybe. If that's the only major war we have to fight in the next two decades, I at least will look back on it as an overwhelming and brilliant success. I guess that remains to be seen.