Tuesday, September 26, 2006

The National Intelligence Estimate

Here's the three-plus pages of "key judgements" from the April 2006 NIE. It's worth reading, particularly since it takes about five minutes. You can also tell it's a consensus piece because the thesis seems to cover just about everything. The bottom line is, "four underlying factors" are fueling the spread of the jihadist movement:

  1. "Entrenched grievances, such as corruption, injustice, and fear of Western domination, lead to anger, humiliation, and a sense of powerlessness"
  2. "The Iraq jihad"
  3. "The slow pace of real and sustained economic, social, and political reforms, in many Muslim majority nations"
  4. "Pervasive anti-U.S. sentiment among most Muslims"

If you can think of something that is happening, has happened or could happen vis a vis the West and the Islamic world, that doesn't fall under one of these factors, you're more imaginative then me. For example, support for Israel can fall under 1 or 4. The Danish cartoons and the Pope's recent speech defintely fall under under 1. Any use of military force to halt Iranian nuclear enrichment, would definitely fall under 1 and 4 and could easily become the a new number 2. A military intervention in Darfur by the West could be taken as another exanple of 1 and 4, and again could even be another 2. Even aid to foreign Islamic governments only seems to exacerbate 3.

Ironically, it's very similar to a CATO Instititute white paper on terrorism I read in the late 1990s. That paper proposed a solution for the rising anti-American terrorism in the Middle east at that time. First, it listed the major grievances that Muslims had with America: support for Israel, bases in Saudi Arabia, the occasional tomahawk strikes on Iraq, etc. The answer, it explained, was very simple. Stop doing those things, stop angering the terrorists, bring the boys home and everything would eventually settle down. (Not very surprising from the libertarian CATO institute. Not very practical then, and even less so now. I mean, we actually gave up the bases in Saudi and that hasn't seemed to take the edge off the situation.)

To it's credit, the NIE doesn't advocate ending our involvement in the Muslim world. But it does say, between the lines, just about anything we do, have done, or will do is going to make angry men angrier.

My recommendation is to read the NIE, then go read The Coming Anarchy and Blackhawk Down to get yourself in the right frame of mind for the next 20 years or so.


copy editor said...

The NIE states a time frame of abotu 5 years to develop political structures to drive a wedge between those who would use terror and those who would use politics. We can see such a wedge in previous terrorist movements (Provisional vs. Real/Continuity IRA). Five years may be optimistic though. That time frame necessitates great success in Iraq. Are we on a course for such success? Keep in mind, the bloodiest months in Iraq happened after this NIE was written.

MikeD said...

Interesting question. Note that we need to clarify what we mean by "bloody months". If we mean, blood spilt in sectarian violence, then the bloodiest months happened after the NIE report. If we mean American blood spilled in Iraq, then it's incorrect. Since the NIE, American casualies have settled down in the 60-80 per month range and we had far bloodier months than that before the NIE. And sectarian violence can cut both ways. Every incident can either push the country toward civil war or alienate the general populace from the fanatics.

Joe said...

"My recommendation is to read the NIE, then go read The Coming Anarchy and Blackhawk Down to get yourself in the right frame of mind for the next 20 years or so."

Dude... stop being so optimistic!