Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Missing the Bleeding Obvious

Intelligence reform is all the rage. I can hardly be against it though I do not consider myself informed enough to offer more than mere opinion. I wonder about concentrating authority when diversity of opinion may be better. And I wonder about the new groupthink that says we (and everybody else) were wrong about Iraqi WMD.

Nonetheless, I think that in concentrating on the mote in our eye we are ignoring the plank stickiing out of the other.

I wrote recently:

Look, it is easy for a sovereign nation to hide its activities and keep the evidence ambiguous enough to prevent a clear picture from emerging until it is too late to do anything about the offending nation going nuclear. Even with inspectors crawling over Iraq and intelligence agencies from around the world looking at Iraq, we never knew that there were no chemical weapons in firing condition as the Coalition went into Iraq.

Our only option is to forget about trying to establish clear proof of nuclear guilt and focus on the regimes. Your country is a collection of nutballs that make aggressive statements and you appear to be pursuing nuclear technology, missiles, and other weapons? Then your regime should be history and we will work for that result. We won't take the chance that you will get something that makes your threats real.

Good enough for government work, as they say. It's the regimes, stupid. Change them.

I was therefore heartened to see a kindred spirit:

At base, threats to international peace and security emanate from aggressive, authoritarian regimes that oppress their people and overtly threaten their neighbors — as did Hitler, Stalin, and Saddam, for all their differences, and as do the leaders of North Korea, Iran, and Syria today. We don't need perfect intelligence to know that.

It is not simply power but how a malevolent regime seeks to use it that matters. Democratic France is no danger to America despite its nuclear arsenal; Saddam's Iraq, by its very nature, was a danger with or without WMD.

We will make a grave mistake if we focus so hard on trying to get the ability to extract the damning memo signed by the despot to develop WMD that we ignore what is in the public domain. We only need to watch cable news to identify the threats to world peace.

Well, and then have the conviction to act on that knowledge.