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September 08, 2004

"We Will Never Understand People Who Wear Red Shirts," Said The Man In The Red Shirt

I didn't read The Threatening Storm by Kenneth Pollack before the war. (It's the book that many prominent liberals cited as persuading them the US had to invade Iraq.) But I'm reading it now.

These are my favorite two paragraphs:

p. 250:
One particularly dangerous method that many of the proponents of deterrence employ to make their argument is "mirror imaging." They essentially ask, "What would I do if I were in Saddam's shoes?" Similarly, they use their understanding of American decision makers... to ask how Saddam is likely to behave... While these are understandable approaches, they are also treacherous ones. We may not have a perfect understanding of how Saddam Hussein thinks, but one thing we know for certain is that he does not think like an American president... Assuming that Saddam Hussein will think and act like a Westerner -- indeed, like anyone but himself -- can only lead to disaster.

p. 255:
The inputs into Saddam's decision making are deeply suspect... What Saddam knew of America came mostly from his spies and diplomats who tailored their reports to his prejudices. Iraq's intelligence services do not provide Saddam with anything like a comprehensive or objective picture of his strategic situation... they have few assets overseas and little ability to gather information. Saddam has often gotten awful intelligence... that has led him to make terrible decisions... [O]peratives tend to write their reports based on what they believe Saddam wants to hear... [B]efore the Iran-Iraq War, Iraq had little information regarding developments in Tehran, the mood of the country, or the operational status of the armed forces and instead relied on the misinformation of former Iranian generals who had fled the Islamic Revolution and desperately wanted Iraq to attack to try to restore them to power.

Posted at September 8, 2004 11:25 PM | TrackBack

Jon, for God's sake, don't you have your email address posted anywhere? Your long lost friend would like to be in touch. I am in NYC.

Sorry to all others for the inappropriate posting!

Posted by: Laurel Severns Guntzel at September 9, 2004 08:16 PM