« Spies In The Pentagon | Main | Among The Conservatives »

Process Critique

With regard to the business below and the continuing Drezner outreach program, let's note that the "process critique" of the Bush administration is a powerful one indeed. When you have a country where internecine disputes are being resolved by having one side bring on board the assistance of a foreign intelligence service while the other side decides to enlist the support of that country's domestic counterintelligence agency to discredit its opponents, something has gone a bit wrong with the interagency process.

Time and again this spring and summer (starting with Chalabi's fall from grace, the embrace of the Brahimi plan, Allawi's last-minte coup, the Chalabi arrest warrants, the second go-round of fighting in Najaf) we've seen situations where the National Security Council appears paralyzed at key moments with the president either unwilling or unable to intervene effectively. The result has been to thrust ever-more power onto mid-level officials who, acting without guidance, create new facts on the ground, effectively shifting American policy, and ensuring that do to NSC paralysis the country continues to drift temporarily on whatever course they've chosen. It's no way to run a government.

August 28, 2004 | Permalink


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Process Critique:

» The Critique from Hellblazer
Yglesias continues his outreach to the Dreznerites with an example pulled out of today's headlines. Myself, I'm not sure what the utility function would look like with respect to effort invested in flipping the .0001% of the right wing that... [Read More]

Tracked on Aug 28, 2004 12:52:49 PM

» The "Process Critique" from Bloodless Coup
It seems one of my biggest complaints about the Bush administration has an official name in the blogsphere - the process critique. If you don't know what I'm talking about, see Dan Drezner and Matt Yglesias. I've frequently posted on... [Read More]

Tracked on Aug 28, 2004 4:49:42 PM

» Gift Basket from Tom Jamme's Blog
Sweet Blessings, a new Christian-based online shop featuring cookie bouquets, candy bouquets and gift baskets, opens with a campaign to donate a portion of all profits to Habitat For Humanity. The devastation of hurricanes Katrina and Rita, while not a... [Read More]

Tracked on Oct 7, 2005 12:56:04 AM


Proxy War.

Posted by: Carleton | Aug 28, 2004 11:04:50 AM

Good thing they are running three then.

Posted by: Rob | Aug 28, 2004 11:48:55 AM

So maybe it is desirable to have a president who knows a thing or two about foreign policy. Imagine that.

Posted by: ScrewyRabbit | Aug 28, 2004 12:26:52 PM

It's call incompetence.

Posted by: Rook | Aug 28, 2004 12:33:22 PM

A though-provoking post. Why, for example, couldn't Rumsfeld take charge and say "Here, this is the way it is going to be?" Perhaps because Rumsfeld knows that the last person to speak to the President get his approval and can tell Bush:
"Rumsfeld exceeded his authority, Mr President, you are the big decision-maker." And Bush responds "Yup,yup, you are right, I get to make the big decisions. Who does Rummy think he is?"

So all the cabinet-level people can do is pass vague guidelines down to their subordinates. And play office politics.

Posted by: bob mcmanus | Aug 28, 2004 12:44:01 PM

"So maybe it is desirable to have a president who knows a thing or two about foreign policy. Imagine that."

No we saw in the Reagan administration a President who actually passed authority downhill. Weinberger ran defense, Schultz foreign policy, Watts environment,etc. What is key here is the ego/control of Bush/Rove/Hughes/Cheney. They actually do not delegate decision capability.
But won't make decisions.

Posted by: bob mcmanus | Aug 28, 2004 12:48:47 PM

"ensuring that do to NSC paralysis the country continues to drift temporarily on whatever course they've chosen"

Posted by: Spelling Troll | Aug 28, 2004 12:49:34 PM

In a triumph of pereception over reality, Bush has a 20 point edge over Kerry on "strong leader." So strutting pays off, in this neck of the woods. Now if Bush would just stick some medals on his chest. We know he doesn't have to have earned them.

Posted by: John Isbell | Aug 28, 2004 1:16:04 PM

The Israel spy story is about Israel and AIPAC and the neo-con agenda, not about Iran. Don't let Joshua Micah Marshall, Laura Rozen, or anyone else get away with trying to soft-pedal this or change the agenda (the classic refuge of weakness).

Don't be fooled by Josh's liberal patina and boy-next-door folksiness. Josh supported the US invasion of Iraq! He heavily promoted Kenneth Pollack's _The Case for Invading Iraq_ book. Josh supported Joe Lieberman for President. This is all on his website (unless he deletes it). He ignored Mearsheimer and Walt completely. Sure, there was some hand-waving. But THE issue in 2002-2003 was clear: invade Iraq or not. Josh supported invasion. Sure, now that the "new facts" of the US occupation are a fait accompli he's issued apologetic comments and tried to cover his tracks. BFD. I want my country back, and Josh is part of the problem, not the solution.

When Josh sustains deep and prolonged criticism of AIPAC and Israeli settlement's policy, then he might be worth reading again. Until then, there are plenty of better blogs out there. Including this one! Keep up the great work, Matt. (Also DailyKos, MyDD, Atrios, Buzzflash, etc.)

Posted by: David | Aug 28, 2004 2:01:42 PM

And I just want to register my objection to peanut butter.

Posted by: John Isbell | Aug 28, 2004 2:21:50 PM

Including this one!


Posted by: abb1 | Aug 28, 2004 2:46:31 PM

Right on, David!

You've probably all seen Juan Cole's post today on the broader problem of Israeli and "Christian Zionist" influence on US policy:


or http://tinyurl.com/22do3

This is a "MUST FORWARD" link. It's about as clear a statement as you'll find anywhere.

If you don't already know, Prof. Cole has the best and most informed blog going on Iraq and the Middle East. He's a professor at U Michigan and scholar on Middle East, South Asia, Islam, and Religious Studies (Islam, Sufism, Baha'i, Unitarian, etc.).

Posted by: Joel | Aug 28, 2004 2:52:12 PM

It looks like Iran is indeed a crucial part of this story. In fact, the Administraion is (or was) preparing for proxy war with Iran.

Franklin was involved with the arming of the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK), a terrorist organinzation opposed to the Iranian governement. The right loves the MEK; they're well-funded and have several friends in Congress. In fact, just this morning, a Fox News military "analyst" was advocating providing support for the MEK in retalition for their "support" of al-Sadr.

I agree that most Americans would be shocked to realize how much AIPAC influences U.S. Mideast policy. That aspect of the story will likely be lost in the media shuffle, as all will cringe from the usual fear of beaing labeled anti-Seimitic. But a US-Iranian war is excatly what the Likudniks most desire at this point.

Posted by: HeavyJ | Aug 28, 2004 3:27:28 PM

That's anti-Semitic. Sorry.

Posted by: HeavyJ | Aug 28, 2004 3:29:09 PM

Boy, I'd hate to be Juan Cole's inbox today.

Posted by: praktike | Aug 28, 2004 5:29:02 PM


Is there anything about this in the US media: Montreal man downed U.S. Plane, CSIS told?

Posted by: abb1 | Aug 28, 2004 6:06:30 PM

Huh? MY and Josh Marshall jumped off the Iraq bandwagon right around the same time. Marshall criticizes Likudniks all the time. Both Richard Perle and Michael Ledeen openly hate him. I'd call your post slanderous except that it's so freakin weird that it doesn't even make any sense.

Posted by: JP | Aug 29, 2004 12:00:42 AM

Did Josh Marshall ever "jump off the iraq bandwagon"? I know that Matt did, as well as Kevin Drum.

Posted by: joe | Aug 29, 2004 7:40:16 AM

Did Josh Marshall ever "jump off the iraq bandwagon"? I know that Matt did, as well as Kevin Drum.

Posted by: joe | Aug 29, 2004 7:40:17 AM

Joel-- Thanks for the Juan Cole link, I hadn't seen it yet. (I think the full URL you meant, cut off in your post, is:
cut-and-paste that all into one URL line. For 8/28/2004 06:52:35 AM, right?)


1) October 2002 was *the* crucial month, with the "Iraq" bill before the Senate as we headed into the first election since Florida-2000. Here's what Joshua Micah Marshall wrote: "Let me recommend a book to you in very strong terms. It's called _The Threatening Storm: The Case for Invading Iraq_ by Ken Pollack. ... As the title states, the book argues that there is no other good solution to the Iraq problem save a military one. ... at the end of the day he thinks that the only real option is to topple Saddam's regime and that the only real way to do that is by force. Now, I know many regular TPM readers don't agree at all with that proposition. It's one I find both deeply troubling and, I think, inescapable."

Clear enough? 'The only real option is to topple Saddam's regime by force.' Marshall had two very long and highly favorable interviews with Pollack at this time. He promoted and advertised Pollack's book on his blog. He didn't even mention John Mearsheimer once (when Mearsheimer and Walt had a paper debunking Pollack).
www.talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/001684.html and
week_2003_01_26.html#000651 (all one line)

2) Marshall supported Lieberman for President -- although he later disavowed this, too. As of December 2003, here's the number of references to each of the Democratic candidates on his website:

>Lieberman 191
>Clark 139
>Kerry 129
>Dean 117
>Gephardt 111
>Edwards 54
>Sharpton 11
>Kucinich 14
>Moseley-Braun 4

Remember, Dean was the clear front-runner up to that point; Lieberman was down to maybe 5%. But Josh gave him top billing.

3) If you dig into the content of his comments on Lieberman, well, let Josh's words speak for themselves. Here's an early quote, from March 2001 (they continued): "Okay, now that I've finally thrown off the burden of having to hew to a party line, I can finally come clean! I really dig Joe Lieberman. (And this isn't just a matter of tribal affiliation.) He rocks. ... There are at least a half a dozen Democratic senators who want to run for the big office in 2004 - including Lieberman, to put it mildly. But for the moment let's just focus on the two marquee New Dems who are in the hunt - Lieberman and Evan Bayh. It's really not too much to say that in terms of positioning for 2004 Lieberman is just kicking Bayh's butt. It's almost painful to watch."
week_2001_03_25.html#001232 (all one line)

To jump from that to snidely writing (in 2003) "Now, apparently I'm a Lieberman supporter" and calling a critic "rabid and foolish" for insinuating that Josh was favorably disposed towards Lieberman is more than a little harsh and disingenuous. Still think that Josh is straightforward and a nice guy? (If so, can I sell you some WMD in Iraq?) http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/
archives/week_2003_12_07.php#002298 (all one line)

Marshall may be a liberal on most things but he failed when it counted most and he continues to drop the ball. His current criticism of Bush on Iraq fails to acknowledge his own role in supporting the invasion last fall. (Same w/ Tom Friedman in NYT, and Pollack--too little, too late).

[And in case anyone has forgotten what an asshole Lieberman is, here's what Lieberman said on ABC-Good Morning, during the campaign: "Clinton made our party once again fiscally responsible, pro-growth, strong on, on values, for middle class tax cuts; and Howard Dean is against all of those." Huh? Dean is against values? Is anti-growth? Is against being fiscally responsible (when Vermont was the only state to balance its budget--despite that not being mandated)? Even the "middle class tax cut" thing was a red-herring--and contradicts the fiscal responsible attack. Dean cut income taxes in Vermont, and his proposed repeal of Bush's tax cuts targets upper-income brackets (not the middle class) was favored by virtually every economist.]

4) Uninformed American liberals like to think the problem is just "Likudniks". I wish it were that simple but it's not. Settlements in the occupied territories expanded more under Labor governments than under Likud governments. (In part to curry political favor.) So the fact that Marshall criticizes "Likudniks all the time" and that Perle and Ledden "openly hate him" isn't germaine. (Does he criticize settlements "all the time"? Why not?)

JP, I encourage you to learn more about these things. Juan Cole is a good place to start, as Joel suggests. As Cole points out today, via Michael Isikoff, the FBI was already investigating an Israeli mole in the Pentagon *before* Franklin, Rhode, Ledeen, Ghorbanifar, and Iran emerged on the scene.

A few other sources you might explore are Ha'aretz, Forward.com, and bvtshalom.org.

When this Israeli spy story first broke -- conveniently buried late Friday night before the RNC -- a blog suggested that we see how long the NYTimes kept it on the "first page". Answer: less than 6 hours online. In print it was buried deep inside, in "International News" (as if the Pentagon is a foreign country?).

As I said, this Israel spy story is about Israel and AIPAC and the neo-con agenda. Did you notice that Marshall-Rozen couldn't even write "AIPAC" *once* in their article? They obliquely refer to the CBS story and "via a pro-Israeli lobbying organization". "Israel" appears in only one sentence, that same CBS one. (Isikoff's article mentions Israel 21 times.) That's how it's done, my friends, that's how the agenda is shifted. With velvet gloves and focused analysis of other things.

These are sensitive issues, but they are not taboo.

Posted by: David | Aug 30, 2004 7:33:17 AM

I'm amused by all this "Israel controls the agenda! Clutch the pearls!" postings here. I would advise those of you who are in a snit about Israel to read Gerald Posner's new book on the Saudis. Now there's a government that has pumped millions and millions of dollars into anti-Israel propaganda here and around the world. They've also had ARAMCO bend to their will with regards to not hiring Jews or blacks to work for them, and had the State Departmetn enabling their racist and anti-Semitic hiring practices. Oh, and as a special added bonus, their oil revenues go to pay off religious nuts and to bankroll madrassahs. Now THAT'S what I'm afraid of.

Posted by: Just a girl | Aug 30, 2005 5:15:35 PM

The comments to this entry are closed.