CURRENT AFFAIRS: What’s to be Believed?

Michael at 2 Blowhards has managed an interview with Gregory Cochran and is posting it online in two parts.  I found it an exceptional read, and while I do regularly visit Steve Sailer’s spot and try to keep up with all different views of the mess in Iraq, this guy (sic) Cochran puts it out with a blunt common sense intelligence that I like.

2B:What do you make of the other administration higher-ups who are involved in the mideast?

Cochran: Judging from Wolfowitz’s Congressional testimony about Iraq being secular, highly educated, and free of holy cities, he knew nothing. I think that Condi Rice started out not knowing a damn thing about the Middle East and I doubt if she knows much more today: I remember her (back in 2000) suggesting that Iran was backing the Taliban, which was just ridiculous — they’d come within an inch of war back in 1998. Which I had followed at the time, since I read the papers.

Judging from other issues, I’d say that neither Condi nor Rumsfeld know any history at all. Some might suggest that all the crap they spouted about guerrilla warfare in postwar Germany was a talking point, but I think they were sincere — i.e. utterly clueless.

My only reluctance in proclaiming Cochran an expert comes from the same gut feeling–or maybe just false hope and blind loyalty–that prevents me from taking any commentary as based in fact; the belief that what information is available to the general public is government controlled, and is not the whole story–nor should it be, if it bears the possibility of damaging national security.  For the longest time I defended Bush’s decision to go to war on Iraq because I believed that duh, they knew a lot more about the situation than I and the rest of the world did.  I would think that there have to be things the White House knows that I’m not privy to, nor should be.

So while I do think that Cochran’s likely spot-on, I still can’t accept without question if the research is based on "I’m thinking of Saddam’s invasion of Kuwait, which I foresaw just by reading the paper — but could the CIA?" or "I knew that every single article touching upon this subject in the New York Times and Wall Street Journal over the past twenty years said otherwise." or "Since I read the paper every single day, I knew roughly how much oil Saddam was smuggling out by truck and how big a kickback he was getting on the oil-for-food exports." or "Took about fifteen minutes of Googling to determine that."

Then again, we may know the whole story if all sources and avid research is done.  I’m just not that eager to yell Liar! liar! Pants on fire! when if we believe that government lies, it logically follows that we in fact don’t know the whole truth, good or bad.

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3 Responses to CURRENT AFFAIRS: What’s to be Believed?

  1. No, the US government does not know more than well read members of the public.

  2. susan says:

    Speaking strictly of intelligence rather than cognizance, I completely agree with you.

  3. You vastly overestimate the importance of classified information. Mike Scheuer had high level CIA clearance for anything related to bin Laden, and he says in one of his books (don’t remember which) that it didn’t really add much value to what was publicly available. Tom Barnett has worked a lot with DoD guys with high level clearances and he agrees with Scheuer, if anything finding that the guys who work with the classified stuff have a more skewed and myopic picture of what’s going on than he did just from reading the papers. Observation of the amount of times the CIA has been caught with its pants down supports this.

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