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My personal musings about anything that gets on my radar screen--heavily dominated by politics.
|What Do All Of These Have In Common?
A very interesting confluence of commentaries have run over the wires of Real Clear Politics in the last several days. See if you can spot the trend.
Stephen Hayes opens up today with a lengthy assessment of the difficulties Porter Goss is facing as he tries to reform the CIA. To quote: After hundreds of words from the Post we still have very little idea of what, exactly, Goss is doing that has caused so much heartburn at the agency. But if he's aggressively reforming the bureaucracy, he should most certainly not stop. Next comes this from Michael Ledeen, which concludes: It was widely reported that the CIA had not a single human agent in Iraq as of Sept. 11, 2001. That alone shows the magnitude of the failure of those people now leaking and whining as they finally leave. And finally, also from today, this editorial in the Rocky Mountain News, which ends with the following zinger: If there's a legitimate criticism to be made of the White House's rump-kicking at the CIA, it is the tardiness of it. Because so much is at stake, the need has been urgent for intelligence gathering that is alert, tough-minded and analytically first-rate. That is hardly what this country has been getting.
The second set of articles deals with an entirely different organization. Start with the writings of Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ), referencing a letter written by Kofi Annan: It boggles the mind that a world leader could display such naivete in the face of efforts by thousands of insurgents and foreign fighters to terrorize and impose a Taliban-style rule in Fallujah, complete with summary executions. The good Senator goes on to excerpt an important rejoinder by the interim Iraqi Prime Minister, Iyad Allawi: I share your strong preference for a political solution over military confrontation. But I did not find in your letter a new plan or a new strategy beyond this strong preference. Next, move to this piece from yesterday by Robert Novak; a key point: The scandal is not complicated. Money from Iraqi oil sales permitted by the Saddam Hussein regime under U.N. auspices, supposedly to provide food for Iraqis, was siphoned off to middlemen. Billions intended to purchase food wound up in Saddam's hands for the purpose of buying conventional weapons. The complicity of U.N. member states France and Russia is pointed to by the Senate investigation. The web of corruption deepened when it was revealed that Annan's son, Kojo, was on the payroll of a contractor in the oil-for-food program. This is a developing story, led with alarming (for Annan!) competence by the freshman Minnesota Senator Norm Coleman. Every day his committee seems to unearth or reveal some new facet of the Oil-for-Food Scandal, like yesterday's gem that the real amount of embezzlement was $21 billion--about twice what was first thought.
And the third thread, though it has not been as widely written about (as of this writing) is the nomination of Condaleeza Rice to replace Colin Powell as Secretary of State. Of course, the surface elements of that story are ably (or not-so-ably) covered; it's the implications that are interesting to me. Replacing Powell, who is almost always mentioned with some variation of "who has not always agreed with the hard-line approach of this administration", at a department which is almost always seen as "having a somewhat adversarial relationship with this administration", with somebody who is in the inner circle of Bush advisors, and who almost certainly appreciates the use of force when necessary, strikes me as a signal to State: get on board.
So what, you may still be wondering, is the common thread?
You have a troubled, but progressing, shakeup at the CIA--the agency through which we "observe" the rest of the world. You have growing evidence of massive institutional corruption and "naivete" at the U.N.--the institution which is the forum for our dealings with the rest of the world. And you have a Bush loyalist with hawkish tendencies moving to the State Department--the agency through which we communicate with the rest of the world.
In each case, major institutions that have done their level best to maintain the global status quo are faced with an insistent call to reform. This, at a time when the volatility in the world is at a quantum moment (a moment that will define geopolitical dealings for a generation). And in every instance, President Bush and his allies are moving into positions to have maximum impact on the shape of events.
Buckle up, folks. This ride is just starting to get interesting.