"Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please." (Mark Twain)
Wednesday, September 21, 2005
More than a dozen current and former intelligence officers knowledgeable about Iraq spoke with TIME in recent weeks to share details about the conflict. They voiced their growing frustration with a war that they feel was not properly anticipated by the Bush Administration, a war fought with insufficient resources, a war that almost all of them now believe is not winnable militarily. "We're good at fighting armies, but we don't know how to do this," says a recently retired four-star general with Middle East experience. "We don't have enough intelligence analysts working on this problem. The Defense Intelligence Agency [DIA] puts most of its emphasis and its assets on Iran, North Korea and China. The Iraqi insurgency is simply not top priority, and that's a damn shame."
There are a very limited number of recently retired four-star generals with Middle East experience. Barry McCaffrey (who has been an on-the-record source for Time in the past), Anthony Zinni, and Wesley Clark come to mind, but none of them retired all that recently. In any event, the source for these quotes is clearly someone of importance (they don't just give away four-star ranks, you know) and experience. And the quotes themselves point out something quite frightening - not only did the Junta get this war wrong in the beginning, they're still getting it wrong today. Of course, that's no surprise - when there is no accountability, there is no progress.
I expect that the Time article will become grist for a huge amount of bloviating in the next few days, but keep the central point firmly in mind: The war is lost, and there's no getting it back.