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April 29, 2007

Here's Where Michael Scheuer And I Part Ways

Michael Scheuer, the CIA's former main bin Laden guy, in an interesting character. He combines a left-wing analysis of al Qaeda's motivations with a right-wing willingness to kill! kill! kill!*

So I'm very much with him on the first part. Not so much when he says things like this, in a new attack on George Tenet:

[Tenet] may have been the ideal CIA leader for Clinton and Bush -- denigrating good intelligence to sate the former's cowardly pacifism and accepting bad intelligence to please the latter's Wilsonian militarism.

I guess Clinton's pacifism was a special type—the type that, for instance, involves dropping 2,000 cluster bombs containing 300,000 bomblets on Serbia.

Of course, that may be what Scheuer meant. Given that U.S. presidents generally range from minor war criminals to extremely major war criminals, he was probably grading Clinton on a curve. (In any case, I didn't realize pacifism was something that could be "sated." Only the blood from a thousand decomissioned F-16s could sate his lust for principled non-violence.)

*From Scheuer's book Imperial Hubris:

To secure as much of our way of life as possible, we will have to use military force in the way Americans used it on the fields of Virginia and Georgia, in France and on Pacific isalnds, and from skies over Tokyo and Dresden. Progress will be measured by the pace of killing and, yes, by body counts. Not the fatuous body counts of Vietnam, but precise counts that will run to extremely large numbers. The piles of dead will include as many or more civilians as combatants because our enemies wear no uniforms.

Killing large numbers is not enough to defeat our Muslim foes. With killing must come a Sherman-like razing of infrastructure. Roads and irrigation systems; bridges, power plants, and crops in the field; fertilizer plants and grain mills--all these and more will need to be destroyed to deny the enemy its support base. Land mines, moreover, will be massively reintroduced to seal borders and mountain passes too long, high, or numerous to close with US soldiers. As noted, such actions will yield large civilian casualties, displaced populations, and refugee flows. Again, this sort of bloody mindedness is neither admirable nor desirable, but it will remain America's only option so long as she stands by her failed policies toward the Muslim world.

Posted at April 29, 2007 05:52 PM | TrackBack

That's a very funny conception of "our way of life".

Posted by: buermann at April 29, 2007 08:07 PM

I don't have much time for Scheuer myself, but surely those quoted paras are something along the lines of 'If you think there's a military solution to the current conflict, just bear in mind what military solutions look like.' In other words, the military option isn't remotely doable and one should instead pursue the alternative of not standing by America's "failed policies towards the Muslim world". I don't think a guy who says 'it's genocide or something sensible' is actually proposing genocide.

I guess it depends on what he imagines those failed policies to be and what alternatives he proposes.

Posted by: RobW at April 29, 2007 08:17 PM

I'll give Clinton credit for one thing: he dared to do it to White Christian people! And a number still thank him for it!

Posted by: En Ming Hee at April 29, 2007 09:18 PM

Either you are missing Scheuer's point, or I am missing yours. I'd like to see those paragraphs blown up on every billboard in the country. (Not blown up as in kapow, but as in really, really big.)

Posted by: New Day at April 29, 2007 09:47 PM

Scheuer speaks of protecting Americans and preserving, as much as possible, our way of life. When people speak in such ambiguous terms it is difficult to know exactly what they are talking about. I mean just what aspect of the American way of life is Scheuer speaking about? Doubtless this kind of rhetoric has as many interpretations as there are people interpreting it. It could be, I suppose, the right to eat peanut butter sandwiches or perhaps our right to kill people that we imagine to be our enemies.

During the Cold War the CIA grossly exaggerated, or mistook depending on your view, the number of nuclear warhead tipped missiles the Russians had arrayed against us. And after the Cold War ended just who were the enemies that Americans needed to be protected against? Naturally if we actually don’t have any protracted enemies our national leaders are always willing to oblige by inventing them for us and in the process as in the case of Bush creating them with a natural inborn and insane desire to kill hundreds of thousands of people.

Also I am not quite clear on how it is that only the political right that have a desire to kill. FDR and Truman were no sluggards when it came to killing and all three of the democrat front runners Clinton, Edwards and Obama have not only supported the Iraq War by continuing to fund it and all have said that when it comes to Iran that nothing should be taken off the table, meaning nuclear bombs in everyday English. LBJ also was not shy in the killing department when you consider Vietnam.

Scheuer may have George Tenet pegged but he seems to get an awful lot of other stuff wrong or that at least is my impression from reading his column.

Posted by: rob payne at April 29, 2007 10:00 PM

michael scheuer worked in the CIA at a time when men were men and presidents were free to ask for other world leaders' heads on a platter.

btw, i dont think scheuer's is a left-wing analysis of bin laden so much as an honest analysis, although it never hurts to conflate the two :)

Posted by: almostinfamous at April 29, 2007 11:10 PM

Did you guys catch Tenet on 60 mins?

The spectacle of an idiot is sad. An idiot on the defensive is pathetic.
I am sure there's an institution in the US with a higher density of nitwits
per square inch than the CIA, but right now I can't think of any.

And the worst is, Stutts used to be the CIA's farm team.

Posted by: Bernard Chazelle at April 30, 2007 12:44 AM

i'm trying to read it without prejudice. does the column make any kind of case for the clinton administration making bad decisions about going after bin laden? if tenet presented the information as badly as scheuer now believes, what makes him also believe that clinton chickened out? it's not here.

also, it's very strange that scheuer is talking about throwing cruise missiles at or near pakistan during a nuclear crisis, without mentioning that nuclear crisis, or where he was talking about aiming the missiles; only that the clinton people and/or tenet were worried about collateral damage from the missile attack itself.

i don't necessarily accept the clinton people's argument that the nuclear crisis was the big reason they didn't act on bin laden information. but if you're arguing that the clinton people were cowards, you have to address that crisis, and say why it was not necessary to be worried about heightening that tension.

and this:

thousands of American families would not be mourning today had there been more ferocity and less sentimentality among the Clinton team.

a sentence begging for a maybe if i ever saw one, unless he's talking about the florida vote count in 2000.

Posted by: hibiscus at April 30, 2007 01:59 AM

As an aside the existence of "Wilsonianism" in international politics is largely a myth:

"There is no Wilsoniam system based on a reasoned approach to the international order, but largely empty rhetoric intended to suit the political needs of the moment to counter the Bolshevik's charismatic appeals throughout Europe to the war-weary masses. Had there not been a Lenin there was scant possibility that Wilson would emerge in the image of an idealist ready to denounce prewar and wartime treaties enshrining imperialist acquisition."

Posted by: Non Nato at April 30, 2007 07:54 AM

In the quote from Scheuer, it is telling that he talks about destroying infrastructure of all kinds, but never mentions oil. Do you think this means that the military has developed some kind of next generation Neutron Bomb that kills everyone AND destroys every kind of infrastructure except the stuff used to produce oil?

Posted by: Whistler Blue at April 30, 2007 02:38 PM

This is more sand-pounding from the same group of fascistic failures that told us the Sandinistas were going to invade Texas. Fuck them then. Fuck them now. BTW Danny Ortega is now president of Nicaragua and has ahelluva lot more long-term political viability than the prezidink and his PP does. Osama bin Laden for UN S.G. in 17'?

Conservatives are self hating hypocrites. A people truly at war with themselves. It's just too bad Liberals have no interest in destroying them anymore, like the Good Ol' Bolsheviks did.

Posted by: at April 30, 2007 09:12 PM

Say, I wonder where OSAMA BIN LADEN is?

Posted by: Mike Meyer at May 1, 2007 12:25 AM

The more "power" these people pretend to have, the less they actually do.It is time to illegalize the political parties and forever cut off the route in which losers like BushCO., Reagan and Clinton obtain office.

Posted by: at May 1, 2007 09:16 AM