He's had quite a lot to do recently. The following are excerpts from recent issues of his newsletter that have caught my eye. (The section titles are mine.)
The Boy Who Cried WolfThis item has to do with the recent political storm over how intelligence information was mis-used by the Bush Administration in order to gather support for the Iraq war. It reminds me of the fable of the Boy Who Cried Wolf.
January 30, 2004
Yet Congress was told as a factual matter that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and the means to deliver them even to the United States, recalled Sen. Ben Nelson (D-FL) this week.
"I was looked at straight in the face and told that [Iraqi] UAVs could be launched from ships off the Atlantic coast to attack eastern seaboard cities of the United States," he said. "Is it any wonder that I concluded there was an imminent peril to the United States?" See:
The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same (Sadly)
A sadly familiar military intelligence analysis from 1946 on the state of the Muslim world, titled Islam: A Threat to World Stability.
Out of miles of declassified files, an old U.S. Army publication called "Intelligence Review" recently surfaced. Intelligence Review was a classified journal published after World War II and prepared by the Army's Military Intelligence Service.
The first issue, dated 14 February 1946, explored a diversity of topics and regional conflicts.
One paper with current resonance, bluntly entitled "Islam: A Threat to World Stability," examined the dynamics of Islamic politics as perceived at the time. Another paper, "Wheat: Key to the World's Food Supply," addressed a global food shortage in 1946.
See Issue 1 of Intelligence Review (80 pages, 3.7 MB PDF file) here:
Some excerpts from the report that I've selected:
The Moslem world sprawls around half the earth, from the Pacific across Asia and Africa to the Atlantic, along one of the greatest of trade routes; in its center is an area extremely rich in oil; over it will run some of the most strategically important air routes.
With few exceptions, the states which it includes are marked by poverty, ignorance, and stagnation. It is full of discontent and frustration, yet alive with consciousness of its inferiority and with determination to achieve some kind of general betterment.
The net result of all these intrigues [referring to a series of self-proclaimed defenders of the Muslim faith throughout history] has been that the Moslems are properly suspicious of their leaders. The moment a new leader appears he is tempted by various European Powers to accept their "assistance," and almost inevitably his loyalty and discretion are eventually sold to one of them.
If the Moslem states were strong and stable, their behavior would be more predictable. They are, however, weak and torn by internal stresses; furthermore, their peoples are insufficiently educated to appraise propaganda or to understand the motives of those who promise a new Heaven and a new Earth.
Because of the strategic position of the Moslem world and the restlessness of its peoples, the Moslem states constitute a potential threat to world peace. There cannot be permanent world stability, when one-seventh of the earth's population exists under the economic and political conditions that are imposed upon the Moslems. [emphasis added]
This was written in 1946.
Silence of the Lambs
Congress has been curiously missing in action (or AWOL?) since September 11th. Thankfully, people are beginning to notice.
At a time when crucial matters of national policy are at stake, the current Congress has in important respects been missing in action.
"[E]ver since it passed the USA Patriot Act after the events of Sept. 11, 2001, Congress has stood by in an alarming silence while a fabric of new law governing the balance between liberty and security has been woven by the other two branches of government," observes the Washington Post in a penetrating editorial today.
See "Silence on the Hill...," January 5:
But this Congress has done worse than just stand by. It has also acted recklessly and without due diligence to dismantle some of the existing checks and balances that wiser legislators imposed after careful consideration.
See, for example, "Too Much Power," another Washington Post editorial, dated January 4:
Even conservative analysts sympathetic to the Bush Administration sense that something is awry.
"The American people cannot be expected simply to give the government the benefit of the doubt forever, agreeing that seemingly extralegal measures are justified," writes law professor Thomas F. Powers. "Open, robust, and if necessary prolonged debate of the issues is not to be feared."
See his article "Due Process for Terrorists?" in The Weekly Standard, January 12, 2004 here:
Thank you, Mr. Aftergood, for your excellent work.