Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Blind giant in Iraq: US incompetence in Middle East diplomacy and Intelligence

An article in the Washington Post discusses the complaints of the new US ambassador to Iraq, Ryan Crocker, who complains that the Baghdad embassy staff is inadequate.

Ryan C. Crocker, the new U.S. ambassador to Iraq, bluntly told Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in a cable dated May 31 that the embassy in Baghdad -- the largest and most expensive U.S. embassy -- lacks enough well-qualified staff members and that its security rules are too restrictive for Foreign Service officers to do their jobs.

"Simply put, we cannot do the nation's most important work if we do not have the Department's best people," Crocker said in the memo.

The fact is, the US has suffered from lack of competent Middle East personnel in diplomacy and intelligence for a very long time. Without intelligence personnel and diplomatic staff who speak the language, the US in Iraq is like a blind giant. It is not surprising that the US has suffered unpleasant surprise after unpleasant surprise in this part of the world: The Six Day War was a surprise. Iran 1979 was a surprise. Nobody knew the Shah was going to fall, and when he did fall, nobody did anything about it. Afghanistan was a surprise, Saddam's invasion of Kuwait was a surprise. The problems in Iraq were a surprise. Every terror attack in Iraq is a surprise. Hamas's election win was a surprise, and the implosion of the Palestinian Authority was another surprise.  At least, the fall of Lebanon to the Hezbollah, will hardly be a surprise.
Should these folks be giving "advice" to Israel?
Ami Isseroff

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