But to say those things would almost certainly annoy this president, who quite obviously still believes there is a deal to be made with the mullahs in Tehran. And if he believes that, will he not also believe that the Brothers are legitimate and quite likely desirable interlocutors? To put it bluntly, he favors enemies over allies, and not just in the Middle East. He was certainly annoyed when the Iranian people challenged the regime last year and the year before. We didn’t hear enthusiastic gushing about the millions of Iranians — every bit as young and vigorous as the Egyptians in Tahrir Square, and even more courageous (they endure horrible consequences, incomparably bloodier than those the brave Egyptians are facing, at least thus far). No, we hear vague generalizations, and the monotonous repetition of the proffer of an outstretched hand from Washington.
A cynic might suspect that he’s fallen into the same trap as Ronald Reagan, and is engaged in negotiating for the ransom of the several American hostages in Iranian custody. That might explain his unwillingness to denounce the regime more passionately, as most of us would wish. I am not one of those (although it would not surprise me if he were). I think he’s acting out of conviction. I think he’s convinced that the West–and especially the United States–is the root cause of global conflict, that our traditional allies should be jettisoned, and that the best way forward is to embrace the radicals, whether fanatical Muslims or radicals in Latin America or remnants of the failed Communist enterprise in Moscow. If it is true that he passed British nuclear secrets to the Russians, after receiving an explicit veto from London, it would be an important keystone in the structure of his world view.
Otherwise, how do you explain the great apology tour? Or the bowing to tyrants, whether short or tall?
As against this, he is killing a lot of Taliban and al Qaeda, and he went for the “surge” in Afghanistan. So there are limits to his willingness or desires to make deals with radicals. He doesn’t like Karzai any more than he likes Mubarak, and I haven’t seen the slightest hint that he has secret sympathies for the terrorists who are killing Afghans and Americans and American allies. He has swallowed hard and let the war go forward. Even if we posit that he’s intending to bail out of the war quite soon, that’s just a theory. For the moment, he’s fully engaged and that war is now his. Like it or not, as he might say. Those of us with children in uniform hope he is determined to win.
Which brings us back to Black Thursday. If our intelligence is as bad as we saw today, can we believe that it’s better in Afghanistan? The answer is, maybe. Could be. For the past many years, military intelligence has often been a lot better than the stuff coming out of the civilian agencies. Soldiers on the ground and drones and satellites watching evil men planting bombs to kill our troops have better motivation than men and women in Greater Washington reading classified cables. So let’s hope.
Meanwhile, as I have been saying ever since 9/11, we need a thorough purge of the Intelligence Community. We need fewer analysts, tougher minded officials prepared to deliver accurate news even if their superiors don’t want to hear it, and a system that permits our top officials to identify talented underlings, instead of pushing forward intelligence-by-committee that has proven to be wrong so often.