03 February 2008

Hillary Clinton: Entrenched wonk or experienced strategist

Hillary is like the intelligence community circa 1987--brilliant yet entrenched. The times have changed and the old guard needs to be disposed and fresh blood and ideas brought forth.

The current war, World War IV, is unlike anything ware seen before. The Great War and WWII were conventional with sides and delineated leadership. World War III (the cold war), although waged against an enemy with national borders and a set ideology, was significantly different than those wars previous as a result of Nuclear Weapons and the tremendous threat they posed (MAD). And with the fall of the Berlin Wall, it seemed that global threats were a thing of the past; it was "The End of History" and all that was left was global policing of rogue states. It is this fourth global war which has sprung from the third that requires a new and unprecedented strategy. The enemy now is one which transcends national borders and has limited central leadership. The Clinton policing of the 90's in the Balkans, North Africa, North Korea, and more will not be effective against the new threat. Hillary has not recognized the new threat for what it is, and we can only expect her to have modest success at best.

In 1945 as the war ends, military intelligence is cut as is much of the armed forces. Though with a quick recognition of the new threat facing the world, the arms race, intelligence is reinstated with the purpose of keeping the new threat contained and understood. That is 1947 with Truman creating the Central Intelligence Agency the first of what becomes numerous agencies processing a range of intelligence from Human to signal, to imagery. Fast forward 40 years and the National Intelligence Estimates fail to predict the end of the cold war. Massive failure or bad luck?

What happened? Tunnel vision and entrenchment amongst other problems. The National Security Council and Director of Intelligence (CIA head) and other agency leaders envisioned the cold war continuing. New satellites were launched, agents recruited, capabilities refined. The wheels turned and congress funded the efforts with little oversight and skepticism. The wheels turned more. The intelligence community needed to perpetuate their ideas to continue being funded. Dissenting, iconoclastic, and divergent views when proposed were moderated. The soviet economy was grossly overestimated and military spending underestimated. The intelligence was flawed with ingrained beliefs. And the the war ended far faster than any would have predicted. The old guard stayed in power too long without being turned upside down.

So Hillary is experienced though old school when it comes to these new times. Policing wont cut it. An entirely new model needs to be formed to fight this battle. The price of entrenchment will mean failure from the start. We need new blood for now, and more new blood later. Keep the wheels turning though with a new vehicle and a new driver.

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