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Wednesday, July 30, 2003

0 for 25

Fareed Zakaria wrote something interesting in the June 16th issue of Newsweek. I was aware of this, but now that we know the WMD threat was at best, wildly overstated, it really bears some examination.

For decades some conservatives, including many who now wield great influence, have had a tendency to vastly exaggerate the threat posed by tyrannical regimes.

It all started with the now famous "Team B" exercise. During the early 1970s, hard-line conservatives pilloried the CIA for being soft on the Soviets. As a result, CIA Director George Bush agreed to allow a team of outside experts to look at the intelligence and come to their own conclusions. Team B--which included Paul Wolfowitz--produced a scathing report, claiming that the Soviet threat had been badly underestimated.

In retrospect, Team B's conclusions were wildly off the mark. Describing the Soviet Union, in 1976, as having “a large and expanding Gross National Product,” it predicted that it would modernize and expand its military at an awesome pace. For example, it predicted that the Backfire bomber "probably will be produced in substantial numbers, with perhaps 500 aircraft off the line by early 1984." In fact, the Soviets had 235 in 1984.

The reality was that even the CIA’s own estimates--savaged as too low by Team B--were, in retrospect, gross exaggerations. In 1989, the CIA published an internal review of its threat assessments from 1974 to 1986 and came to the conclusion that every year it had "substantially overestimated" the Soviet threat along all dimensions. For example, in 1975 the CIA forecast that within 10 years the Soviet Union would replace 90 percent of its long-range bombers and missiles. In fact, by 1985, the Soviet Union had been able to replace less than 60 percent of them.

He does not mention that they also never admit they were wrong. Their worldview is set in stone and they are actually a bit paranoid.

Which leads me to this op-ed from today in the NY Times by Lawrence Korb, former deputy defense secretary under Reagan who questions the reasoning behind moving American bases from Germany to eastern Europe:

Since moving to new bases would not save money or improve our strategic flexibility, there must be another motive.

If the neoconservatives had ever changed course even once over the past 40 years, I might be able to buy that it was Rummy’s pique at “old Europe.” But, they have never let facts on the ground alter their plans or their total faith in their original analysis. It’s really quite easy to see why Wolfowitz and Rumsfeld are moving our troops from Germany for no good reason.

It’s because they are planning to defend Eastern Europe from Russia.

I kid you not.

We’ve gone from “Dr Strangelove” to “The Russians Are Coming”

Just read Wolfowitz’s 10 Commandments…er… The Defense Planning Guidance, 1992. From the NY Times

Senior Defense Department officials have said the document will be issued by Defense Secretary Cheney this month. According to a Feb. 18 memorandum from Mr. Wolfowitz’s deputy, Dale A. Vesser, the policy guidance will be issued with a set of “illustrative” scenarios for possible future foreign conflicts that might draw United States military forces into combat.

These scenarios, issued separately to the military services on Feb. 4, were detailed in a New York Times article last month. They postulated regional wars against Iraq and North Korea, as well as a Russian assault on Lithuania and smaller military contingencies that United States forces might confront in the future.


The draft states that with the elimination of United States short-range nuclear weapons in Europe and similar weapons at sea, the United States should not contemplate any withdrawal of its nuclear-strike aircraft based in Europe and, in the event of a resurgent threat from Russia, “we should plan to defend against such a threat” farther forward on the territories of Eastern Europe “should there be an Alliance decision to do so.”

Nothing must stand in the way of the Master Plan.

And they are always wrong about everything.