Insider Briefing

"Try to get it right this time, David: It's Who's on first, What's on Second,
and I Don't Know's on Third."

You've heard or read the "official" line being offered up to the US Senate by Army Gen. David Petraeus and US Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker.

Now get an honest briefing on what is going on in Iraq and Iran from an "insider's insider" - Wayne White, top middle east analyst, formerly with the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research. Wayne spent 30 years with the State Department focusing on Middle East policy. He is now an adjunct scholar at the Middle East Institute.

Wayne was interviewed by George Kenney of Electric Politics (who offers up the best political/philosophical podcasts on the web IMO). Running time - 1 hour 19 minutes. Give a listen:

George Kenney was born in Algiers in 1956, during the battle of Algiers, to a US foreign service family, and grew up in the states, in Africa and in Europe. He has an MA in Economics from the University of Chicago. George joined the foreign service and was a tenured, mid-level career officer, serving as Yugoslav desk officer at the State Department headquarters in DC, when he resigned his commission in 1991 over US policy towards the Yugoslav conflict. He has been consultant in residence at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, published some 60 articles in the mainstream press, and done TV and radio as well. His activities were interrupted by an inherited blood disorder so his focus these days is his website "Electric Politcs". He lives in Washington, D.C. with his wife Sharon, an ordained UCC minister. I find his interviewing technique refreshingly honest and his questions insightful.


nzm said...

Thanks for this - will check it out.

There's a documentary series that's halfway through on Australian TV at the moment called Bush's War and is a frightening account of who made what decisions and on what grounds they were made during the post-9/11 era and into the Iraq war.

What's so sad for me as I view it is how Condolezza Rice and Colin Powell were hung out to dry in all the goings-on - as well as a few others.

What's so scary is how half-baked the major decision makers were and still are - or very much still playing out their own agendas.

The good old boy fraternity continues to damage the world.

The documentary can be viewed online at the above link.

Don Snabulus said...

White does do a good job at frankly evaluating what he saw in his role and continues to see. He obviously has his opinions, but seems honest enough to not be hobbled by them. I would like to read that Esquire article (I think that was the mag) as well by the General.

After listening to this, it becomes clear that the political discourse on both sides of the Iraq issue are becoming increasingly divorced from the reality of the situation.

To a returning soldier, it must be baffling to explain their experience people whose minds are running in such tangential grooves. Where do you begin, especially when people are still pretty angry about the initial debate? I bet a lot of them don't even try.

NZM said,

What's so scary is how half-baked the major decision makers were and still are - or very much still playing out their own agendas.

That is the worry going forward in any number of spheres (Peak Oil, Global Warming, etc.). It would really help to have people who can intelligently field the balls as they come at us.

Anonymous said...

A quote or two would help if I am to click on this and listen... After five years, it is still a war that most people don't feel concern them at all. How insulated we still feel, believing we are not affected.

Pandabonium said...

NZM - thanks for the link. I don't have much sympathy for Rice or Powell. They both knew they were lying. Powell made a career of lying, including work to cover up the My Lai massacre, and his performance at the UN was utterly disgraceful. Rice may be more of a realist than the neocons, but she is still working for them and is perhaps the most inept Secretary of State the US has ever had. (IMHO) Anyway the series looks interesting and I look forward to watching it.

Snabby - hasn't that always been the case for returning soldiers? They are tools used by the powers that be. Only they see war, everyone else just deals with abstract constructions. But for all my empathy for them, it is the civilian people on the receiving end of military power who I am most concerned for.

Anonymous - I agree that most people don't feel affected by it - at least in the USA. Odd considering the costs to their personnel, treasury, Constitutional rights, national security, energy, and credibility and moral authority in the world. Doubly sad considering the loss of life - not just for Americans and allies, but all life.

Sorry if I failed to "sell" the interview to you. Perhaps I'll do some quotes next time. But, you know, it isn't a big commitment to give it a try.

I once had flying instructor who taught me about how to execute emergency landings at night after an engine failure. He said to pick place to land that was dark and thus might offer minimal obstructions, and when I got to an altitude that I thought was getting close to the ground, turn on the landing lights and if I didn't like what I saw, I should turn them off.
(a bit of black humor, but apropos)

So try the interview in spite of my poor sales pitch. If you don't like what you hear, turn it off.