Friday, April 10, 2009

A Word About U.S. Intelligence In the Persian Gulf

This relates to my earlier post giving a brief historical perspective of the last 50 years or so in the region. I’ve split this out because it’s a bit more opinion oriented than that piece, which I tried to keep as factually based as possible.

Even a cursory examination of U.S. involvement in the Middle East demonstrates that our foreign intelligence and understanding of the area have been pathetically bad for quite some time.

President Carter (D-USA) was completely wrong about the Ayatollahs and how they would feel about the United States. President Reagan (R-USA) was equally wrong about Saddam Hussein.

In fact, I think these two administrations are the focal point of our problems in the area today. Each faced challenging decisions. Had they made different choices, the Persian Gulf region that President George W. Bush (R-USA) faced in 2002, would’ve been a quite different place. Not necessarily better, and not necessarily worse, but almost certainly different.

But that’s beside the point. The point is that (assuming the best of both men) both men were given faulty intelligence on the region and specific people. Both men made decisions based on this intelligence, with disastrous consequences.

So, it’s hardly surprising that in 2002-2003 we once again received faulty intelligence from the region and made (possibly) questionable decisions based on this data.

Keep that in mind when current and future Presidents make important decisions regarding the region.

1 comment:

Smitty said...

Just wondering aloud here:

I wonder how long it took us to figure out how to gather intel from our "classic" adversaries (Russia, et. al.). In other words, how to recognize feints within feints, how to discern when bribery and corruption works and when it doesn't, good info from bad; that kinda stuff.

Then I wonder how long it will take us to figure the same thing out in the Mideast, given that (broad brush here...) the cultural differences between us and them are way more vast than between us and our more classic adversaries.

Then I wonder if our "faulty intel" in the Mideast was just that...in air quotes. That we knew it was faulty and were ok with that because it provided us with a means to an end. And here we are.

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