Thursday, March 22, 2007

THE WIT AND WISDOM OF KEN POLLACK: Much to the increase of the world's joy and laughter since 2002

Dumbo the Clown, without make-up

One often finds newspaper editors publicly wondering how to attract more readers.

One remedy is easy. Don't insult the minds of the readers you already have lest they go elsewhere.

On Tuesday, the Los Angeles Times ran a frontpage story on how difficult it was to build up the trust of Iraqis. Inside the story, however, it was destroying the trust of its readers when it called upon Ken Pollack.

"We are doing it, and all the other smart aspects of the Baghdad security plan, very late in the day," said "Kenneth M. Pollack," a "counterinsurgency expert" "who was an advocate of the 2003 invasion."

Saying Pollack was an "advocate of the 2003 invasion" is like saying the flattening of Hiroshima in 1945 was caused by "an explosion." Technically, it's accurate, but it's missing something.

More accurately, Pollack, as a Brookings man, was the Dean of the Mountebank Foreign Policy School of Experts on the War On Terror.

During the approach to war in 2002 and in 2003, Pollack was in the news hundreds, perhaps even thousands, of times. He and Brookings regularly milked the media for publicity and the reasons for war. And as you know, the media happily went along.

In 2007, it is appropriate to view Pollack as the Fleischmann AND Pons of the war on terror. Seeing him cited in print is as bracing as seeing an article entitled "Cold Fusion Real!" in the science section.

"It is going to be very difficult to build up the trust among the Iraqi public to make any of this succeed," said Pollack, dumbly, to the Times. "And it is going to be very difficult to build up any trust in a readership when laundering the likes of Pollack back into stories on what to do about Iraq," someone should have added in parentheses.

So your friendly neighborhood GlobalSecurity.Org Senior Fellow decided to skim through the ineffable wit and wisdom on Pollack from that happier time.

Be careful while reading the following rib-ticklers. You may laugh so hard you'll cry.

Pollack argues his case well, going beyond the vituperative pronouncements of the administration to link operational objectives to national strategy, but he does not spend much time on the reconstruction of the country, which is, after all, the reason for invasion in the first place. He does make two noteworthy points, however: the removal of Saddam would allow for withdrawal of most of U.S. forces in the Persian Gulf region; and second, with its wealth in oil, Iraq can pay for its own reconstruction. Naturally, there are advantages and disadvantages to each option, and critics abound, but for Pollack the question is "not whether [we invade], but when." -- from a review of the man's best-selling book in the Naval War College Review, Autumn 2002

You can tell a lot by the books people read, especially when the readers are members of Congress making life and death decisions about a war.

Winston Churchill is big on Capitol Hill, among both Democrats and Republicans. So is Kenneth Pollack's new book, "The Threatening Storm: The Case for Invading Iraq," whose title is derived from Churchill's "The Gathering Storm."

Not on the must-read list are books like Mark Bowden's "Black Hawk Down," a harrowing account of just how grim urban street fights can get, even for today's most elite forces. Nor, judging by interviews and the buzz on Capitol Hill, is there a surge of interest in "hearts and minds" books on Arab history or the culture of radical Islam. -- The Christian Science Monitor, December 2002

Sean Penn needs to read [Ken Pollack's] book. So do Mike Farrell, George Clooney and all the protesters who marched and chanted against an American-led war on Iraq in cities across the world last weekend. -- The New York Observer, January 2003

"Saddam has taken the entire Iraqi program on the road," said Iraq expert and former National Security Council official Kenneth Pollack in his recent best-selling book, "The Threatening Storm: The Case for Invading Iraq." -- subsequently repeated thousands of times, like an incantation to ward off common sense, in the Scripps Howard newswire, February 2003

Given Saddam Hussein's current behavior, his track record, his aspirations and his terrifying beliefs about the utility of nuclear weapons, it would be reckless for us to assume that he can be deterred. Yes, we must weigh the costs of a war with Iraq today, but on the other side of the balance we must place the cost of a war with a nuclear-armed Iraq tomorrow. -- Pollack, on Hussein's alleged WMD program and the reason for war, in the New York Times opinion page, February 2003. One bets they wish they hadn't done that now.

Despite its human and financial cost (which [Ken Pollack] says could be less than we think even as we prepare for the worst), we are the only ones who can prevent the world from facing a nuclear-armed Hussein. It's in our interest; it is our duty. -- Ft. Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, 2002

While the anti-war forces are derided, the media have turned pro-war intellectuals into stars. Each time you look up, you find another interview with Kenneth Pollack, the ex--CIA analyst whose book The Threatening Storm: The Case for Invading Iraq is the bible of war supporters. -- LA Weekly, February 28, 2003

While Iraqis "danced in the streets of Baghdad" in DC the "jibes were out for the naysayers who had feared a grueling and protracted conflict" to oust Saddam Hussein. VP Cheney called the war "one of the most extraordinary military campaigns
ever conducted" and "praised the 'carefully drawn plan.'" Cheney "was riding high" "as one of an elite corps of political prophets who had accurately forecast a quick collapse" of Saddam's regime. Cheney insisted that the war "would last 'weeks, not months.'" Others who predicted a short and decisive victory included Sec/Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Dep. Sec/Defense Paul Wolfowitz, Defense policy analyst Richard Perle, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), ex-CIA analyst Kenneth Pollack, and ex-Reagan
admin. official Kenneth Adelman (Efron, Los Angeles Times) -- Bragging Rights for Iraq, The National Journal, April 2003

"It's looking like in truth the Iraqi (weapons) program was gray. The Bush administration was trying to say it was black," said former CIA Iraq expert Kenneth Pollack, now at the Brookings Institution, a research center.

Pollack, who advocated a war to overthrow Saddam, said he believes more evidence of Iraqi weapons activity will be found. -- Knight-Ridder newspapers, June 2003

The Bush administration-funded worldwide book blitz.

Even as President Bush delivered his pivotal speech on September 12th to the United Nations regarding the conduct of Hussein's regime, we noted there was a very timely book launched at the same time by Ken Pollack of the Brookings Institute called, "The Threatening Storm." We contacted Mr. Pollack and asked him if he would interrupt his book tour, which was not that easy to persuade him to do, and he agreed and went on a number of digital video conferences and visits to countries as far spread as France, Austria, Finland, Germany, Hungary, and now he's scheduled for South Africa and he's agreed to do a series more. He's that third voice, and he is speaking about the cases, pro and con, of invading Iraq in a more reasoned and reasonable way than most people could, and he has another voice to offer. -- Undersecretary of State Charlotte Beers, at the National Press Club, December 2002

At a press briefing Dec. 18, State Dept. public diplomacy topper Charlotte Beers announced that her division has asked author Ken Pollack to interrupt a book tour and travel overseas to talk about his book "The Threatening Storm: The Case for Invading Iraq."

Turns out the State Dept. also has been courting foreign journalists over the past year.

"We set up many more responsive facilities than we've had in the past for the foreign press at the president's ranch in Texas, at the White House and in our own State foreign press centers, which are Washington, New York and Los Angeles," Beers said.

Storytelling stressed

A former Madison Avenie exec, Beers extolled the importance of "storytelling" in convincing overseas auds that the U.S. is only trying to do good. -- Daily Variety, December 2002

In fact, one of the reasons to go to war with Iraq sooner, rather than later, is so that we never find ourselves in that position where Saddam Hussein has nuclear weapons and we have to risk the obliteration of Riyadh, or Kuwait, and the Saudi oil fields, or Amman, or any of the other capitals of the region that we would worry so much about. Or, for that matter, New York. If the Iraqi's decided to put a nuclear weapon on a freighter, they could just drive it into New York Harbor and have the same effect there. -- Pollack, State Department-sponsored worldwide video conference, two weeks before war

In hitting American forces with chemical weapons, Saddam would exact vengeance, said Ken Pollack, a former CIA analyst now with Brookings. He also might hope to delay them from entering the city. -- Course of Baghdad Battle Hinges on Unknowns, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, March 2003

"Unlike so many Iraqi oppositionists, [Ahmed Chalabi] actually does what he says he's going to do," says Ken Pollack, research director at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution. -- from an article that should have been entitled, "Ahmed Chalabi -- A Great Guy!" by Sally Quinn, the Washington Post, November 2003

"I think that we will find the [WMD] stuff," Ken Pollack said. "I think it's simply a matter of time, but I think that we will find, at the very least, the production capability." -- in another State Department-funded worldwide videoconference with Ken Pollack, one entitled "Dr. Wrong, Once Again and With Passion," May 2003

In a New York Times op-ed piece, Brookings Institution analyst Ken Pollack writes "the search for Iraq's nonconventional weapons program has only just begun. In the meantime, accusations are mounting that the Bush administration made up the whole Iraqi weapons threat to justify an invasion. That is just not the case - American and its allies had plenty of evidence before the war, and before President Bush took office, indicating that Iraq was retaining its illegal weapons program" -- Pollack in the NYT via the National Journal, June 2003

In a world that valued logic and scholarly thought, Ken Pollack would have been run off the reservation a long time ago. This isn't that world.

However, Pollack is useful if you consider him to be mentally upside down. If Pollack makes a recommendation, do the opposite.

For example, when Pollack says "This is one of the biggest flies in the ointment in Iraq today ... If we're not willing to stay for the months, if not years, it will take to regain the trust of of average Iraqis, none of [David Petraeus's] smart moves are going to work."

Then the thing to do would be to recall General Physical Fitness and leave Iraq as soon as possible.

Better still, treat Pollack like Fleischmann and Pons.

Nb: "The Threatening Storm", hardback edition and in good shape, by Ken Pollack. One hundred fifty-two new and used copies from Amazon resellers, selling price: 37 cents in 2007.


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