Friday, June 13, 2014

Iraq — Why didn't we see it coming?

Back in my day in the Army, intelligence was all about foreign countries, particularly those where we had troops, and unstable places that might erupt at any time. The idea was to know as much as we could about what was going on, so that if we had a conflict, we'd know what to expect — military forces, social conflicts, important people and what they were up to. What was going on in this country was never mentioned, at least within Army intelligence — it was all outer-directed. But there seems to have been a trend in the other direction. Our government seems to be inordinately concerned with what the American people might get up to. It's long been trite to say that while the Russians have largely abandoned the totalitarian mind-set, we seem to be getting into it. We used to send out propaganda to the world, trying to persuade them that our system of freedom and openness is something they should emulate. But somewhere along the way, we forgot about most of that, and most of the government's propaganda seems devoted to persuading Americans that freedom isn't all that great after all, but what we need instead is an all-powerful government that will take care of us in every way, telling us what to eat, what to think, how to raise kids, what weapons to own (none), and what kind of behavior is acceptable, roughly described as "political correctness."

So of course we have no clue any more about what's going on overseas. Iraq is taking us by surprise, just as the initial Iranian revolution did. All our knowledge about foreigners seems to be concentrated into dividing them into good guys and bad guys, and talking about our "friends" (countries don't have friends, just temporary allies) and "enemies," many of which are our enemies because we're always in their face. And that's a result of our neocon/liberal foreign policy. Vox day elaborates at

Focusing on the real enemy

I fail to see why anyone is even remotely surprised that the US intelligence apparatus missed the biggest international developments of the year:
United States intelligence agencies were caught by surprise when fighters from the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) seized two major Iraqi cities this week and sent Iraqi defense forces fleeing, current and former U.S. officials said Thursday. With U.S. troops long gone from the country, Washington didn't have the spies on the ground or the surveillance gear in the skies necessary to predict when and where the jihadist group would strike.

The speed and ease with which well-armed and highly trained ISIS fighters took over Mosul, Iraq's second-largest city, and Tikrit, the birthplace of former Iraqi ruler Saddam Hussein, have raised significant doubts about the ability of American intelligence agencies to know when ISIS might strike next, a troubling sign as the Islamist group advances steadily closer to Baghdad. And it harkened back to another recent intelligence miscue, in February, when U.S. spy agencies failed to predict the Russian invasion of Crimea. Both events are likely to raise questions about whether the tens of billions of dollars spent every year on monitoring the world's hot spots is paying off -- and what else the spies might be missing.
U.S. intelligence isn't focused on external events or the activities of foreigners, it is focused on American citizens. They're much more concerned about what people like you and me are writing on this blog than they are with whatever the jihadists and Russians are doing. Given that the well-armed and highly trained ISIS fighters were probably armed and trained by the U.S. military, the fact that U.S. intelligence had no idea what they were doing can only indicate a complete lack of interest.

After all, there are millions of Christians and gun owners and military veterans who need to be spied upon and federal intelligence resources are not unlimited. And it's not like U.S. intelligence saw the fall of the Soviet Union coming either.
Quibcag: I don't know who the girls are, but they're keeping an eye on things.

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