Saturday, October 07, 2006

Two Views on Denial

Regarding the folderol about Bob Woodward's new book "State of Denial" here are a couple of conservative perspectives They differ a bit, but I think the points can be coalesced into a single perspective; that being, look, we're at war, things happen, get over it. In the mean time, the enemy will try to take advantage of any weakness, yesterday, today and tomorrow.

This view is from William Kristol of The Weekly Standard. An excerpt:

Consider developments over the last week. Democrats hyped last Sunday's news stories breathlessly reporting on one judgment from April's National Intelligence Estimate (NIE)--that the war in Iraq has created more terrorists. More than would otherwise have been created if Saddam were still in power? Who knows? The NIE seems not even to have contemplated how many terrorists might have been created by our backing down, by Saddam's remaining in power to sponsor and inspire terror, and the like. (To read the sections of the NIE subsequently released is to despair about the quality of our intelligence agencies. But that's another story.) In any case, the NIE also made the obvious points that, going forward, "perceived jihadist success [in Iraq] would inspire more fighters to continue the struggle elsewhere," while jihadist failure in Iraq would inspire "fewer fighters . . . to carry on the fight."

What is the Democratic response to these latter judgments? Silence.

Here is an interesting perspective from Peggy Noonan. Another excerpt:

To the central thesis. Was the White House, from the beginning, in a state of denial? I doubt denial is the word. They were in a state of unknowingness. (I have come to give greater credence to the importance, in the age of terror, among our leaders, of having served in the military. For you need personal experience that you absorbed deep down in your bones, or a kind of imaginative wisdom that tells you even though you were never there what war is like, what invasion is, what building a foreign nation entails.) They were in a state of conviction: They really thought Saddam had those WMDs. (Yes, so did Bill Clinton, so did The New Yorker, so did I, and so likely did you. But Mr. Bush moved on, insisted on, intelligence that was faulty, inadequate.) They were in a state of propulsion: 9/11 had just wounded a great nation. Strong action was needed.

Here I add something I have been thinking about the past year. It is about the young guys at the table in the Reagan era. The young, mid-level guys who came to Washington in the Reagan years were always at the table in the meeting with the career State Department guy. And the man from State, timid in all ways except bureaucratic warfare, was always going "Ooh, aah, you can't do that, the Soviet Union is so big, Galbraith told us how strong their economy is, the Sandinistas have the passionate support of the people, there's nothing we can do, stop with your evil empire and your Grenada invasion, it's needlessly aggressive!" Those guys from State--they were almost always wrong. Their caution was timorousness, their prudence a way to evade responsibility. The young Reagan guys at the table grew up to be the heavyweights of the Bush era. They walked into the White House knowing who'd been wrong at the table 20 years before. And so when State and others came in and said, "The intelligence doesn't support it, we see no WMDs," the Bush men knew who not to believe.

I like Noonan's perspective. She also ended up praising the Woodward book, thinking before she read it that it would be off the mark.

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