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Paging through Bob Woodward's "Obama's Wars," I should not have been surprised that the index lacks any entry for "intelligence." The excerpts that dribbled out earlier this week had made unavoidably clear that there was, in fact, no entry for intelligence in the disorderly process last fall that got the Obama administration neck-deep in the Big Muddy--to borrow from Pete Seeger's song from the Vietnam era.
Before reading through Woodward's book, the excerpts already published had left doubts in my mind that the Obama White House could be host to such an amateurish decision-process-without-real-process. I had seen a lot of White House fecklessness in my 30 years in intelligence analysis, but it was, frankly, hard to believe that it could be so bad this time.
Could it be true that, after going from knee-deep to waist-deep in the Big Muddy by his early 2009 decision to insert 21,000 additional troops, the President would decide to plunge neck-deep without a comprehensive intelligence review of the impact of the earlier reinforcement and a formal estimate of the likely impact of further escalation.
As it turns out, it was I who was being naïve. I can no longer avoid concluding that a hubris-hewed presidential mix of innocence abroad and raw politics at home slid Barack Obama into a decision that will cost thousands more lives and, in the end, be his political undoing. Add to the mix a heaping tablespoon of, let's say it, cowardice--and stir.
The procedure (or lack thereof) followed last fall virtually ensured that President Barack Obama would be forced, against what were clearly his better instincts, to be diddled by the four-stars into an escalated March of Folly deeper and deeper into Afghanistan. His intelligence and security advisers, themselves naïve and inexperienced, failed the President miserably.
Intelligence? Who Needs it?