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Eikenberry does not stop there. Rather, he
bluntly warns--in vain, it turned out--against a premature decision regarding a
troop increase, arguing "there is no option but to widen the scope of our
analysis and to consider alternatives beyond a strictly military
counterinsurgency effort within Afghanistan." He adds:
~"We have not yet conducted a comprehensive,
interdisciplinary analysis of all our strategic options. Nor have
we brought all the real-world variables to bear in testing the proposed
~"This strategic re-examination could either include or
lead to high-level U.S. talks with the Afghans, the Pakistanis, the Saudis and
other important regional players--including possibly Iran. ""
Extraordinary. Here is the U.S. ambassador to
Afghanistan bemoaning the fact that, as the President approaches his decision on
a large troop increase, there has still been no comprehensive analysis of the
wider issues that remain "unaddressed" in McChrystal's proposal.
Taking an objective look at a complex national security
problem is precisely the job for which President Harry Truman created the CIA,
giving its director the task of drafting what became known as National
Intelligence Estimates--a process in which all agencies of the intelligence
community can take part.
That no estimate has been prepared on Afghanistan/Pakistan
and the "unaddressed variables" is an indictment of President Obama and his
deference to the military. The President and other misguided
Democrats are hell bent on preventing the bemedaled Petraeus, a likely
Republican candidate for president in 2012, from painting them soft on
terrorism. Letting Petraeus run the policy, while avoiding any
critical intelligence analysis, is Obama's safe--and cowardly--way out.
During my tenure at CIA (from the administration of John
Kennedy to that of George H. W. Bush), I cannot think of an occasion on which a
President chose to forgo a National Intelligence Estimate before making a key
decision on foreign policy. However, in early 2002, President
George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney set a new kind of precedent when
they ordered CIA Director George Tenet NOT to prepare an NIE on weapons of mass
destruction in Iraq, out of fear that an honest estimate would make it immensely
more difficult to attack Iraq.
That did not change until September 2002, when Sen. Bob
Graham, then-chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, warned the White House
that, absent an NIE, he would do all he could to prevent a vote on war with
Iraq. That's when a totally dishonest NIE was woven out of whole
cloth (or, in the words of subsequent Intelligence Committee chair, Sen. Jay
Rockefeller, fashioned from "created" intelligence) to hype a threat from
non-existent Iraqi WMD.
After that debacle, new leadership was given to the NIE
process in the person of Tom Fingar who had run the intelligence unit at the
State Department. It was Fingar who insisted on a bottom-up review
of intelligence on Iran's nuclear plans, which resulted in an NIE that helped
prevent Bush and Cheney from attacking Iran--or encouraging Israel to do so.
That NIE, issued in November 2007, assessed "with high
confidence" that Iran had stopped working on the nuclear weapons part of its
nuclear program in late 2003, directly contradicting claims of Bush and Cheney
at the time.
Of equal importance, the Joint Chiefs of Staff and other
senior military had no appetite to take on Iran (or to acquiesce in Israel's
doing so) and insisted that the key judgments of that NIE be made public.
This time, on Afghanistan, it's different. Army
generals Petraeus and McChrystal apparently persuaded the Chairman of the Joint
Chiefs, Admiral Mike Mullen, that they knew what they're doing and didn't need
any intelligence analysts reaching troublesome conclusions.
What's the Rush?
From his vantage point in Kabul, Eikenberry seems impervious
to Dick Cheney's charges that the President is "dithering." The
first two (of three) subheadings in Eikenberry's second cable are:
"We Have Time" and "Why We Must Take the Time." He finishes
with an appeal to "widen the scope of our analysis."
Eikenberry is all but demanding a National Intelligence
Estimate, but stops short so as not to cross the President or rub salt in the
wounds that the ambassador's cables have opened in Petraeus and McChrystal.