I just read your article and had a couple of things that I would want the next president to know as well:
- How much of what we are doing in Central Asia is motivated by the "War on Terror" and how much is jockeying for control of the world's remaining oil reserves?
- To the extent that we are trying to monopolize the oil in the Persian Gulf and Caspian Sea Basin, how much of that is for our national security and how much is strictly for the benefit of oil companies?
- How could Russia potentially retaliate for our efforts to take over the export routes from the Caspian Basin? Would it hurt our national security to leave that to the Russians in exchange for their traditional posture of leaving us the Persian Gulf?
- If we were Russia or China, how would we respond to the United States trying to take control of the two major oil producing regions in the world? Why should we expect Russia or China to respond differently than we would in that position?
- Which business interests are using our foreign policy apparatus to enrich themselves while enflaming animosity in other countries toward the United States? What would our foreign policy look like and how much would we save if we didn't use our military and diplomats as their enforcers? How can we disentangle those business interests from our government and neuter their influence?
- What do we gain by leaving the Israel-Palestine conflict an open wound? Are we just the victims of the best lobbying effort ever, or are we getting something out of it like using Israel as the bad cop and possible having them as a scapegoat when things finally fall apart in the Persian Gulf?
- If a bipolar Cold War produced relative stability for decades, why can't we have a stable multi-polar peace, that gave us, Russia, China, and Europe spheres of influence?
- For you generals and intelligence analysts old enough to have lived through the Cold War, can you tell me with a straight face that Iran or any other country would be stupid enough to use nukes on us or give them to terrorists who might when we have 10,000 warheads to retaliate with and are the only country who has demonstrated the willingness to use them?
- The same question on a smaller scale applies to Israel: how exactly would a nuclear armed Iran be a threat to Israel when Israel has several hundred nukes to respond with, a handful of which could take out all the major cities in Iran?
- What was in those classified pages about Saudi Arabia in the Joint Congressional Inquiry into 9/11's report? Even without those pages being released, there is far more evidence of Saudi government involvement in 9/11 than either of the two countries we invaded, Iraq and Afghanistan. Why did the Bush administration let them off the hook?
The frustration I have with all of these questions is that these are not part of the public debate, and instead we hear our elected leaders talk in childish terms of chasing terrorists, WMD (wasn't the old NBC acronym more precise and less alarmist?), or spreading democracy. We ignore each of those three things when it suits our perceived interests. We don't care about Saudi terrorists or their lack of democracy, and we clearly don't care about nukes in Pakistan, India, or Israel. So other interests are in play that aren't in the debate.
- What are the various "off the books" covert activities involving American business and government operatives, whose interests do they serve, and how can we keep them from creating incidents to steer our foreign policy?
I guess American politicians keep doing it because it works on the American public, but it makes us, and even the politicians themselves, look retarded in the eyes of the rest of the world.
I'm embarrassed to say I forgot to send Ray a pretty big one:
- To the extent that we have any real interest in strategic access to Iraq's oil, how has the Bush effort to gain favorable terms for US oil companies at the Iraqis expense hurt us there, and what can we do to gain the trust of Iraqis?
Friday, November 07, 2008
Questions Obama must ask intel briefers to separate bullshit from reality
Ray McGovern, former CIA analyst and presidential briefer posted some question he thought Obama should ask his intel briefers. This inspired me to come up with a list of question of my own, designed to separate the embarrassing, childish propaganda of the Bush administration from our real foreign policy goals and challenges, and send this email to McGovern: