Monday, October 09, 2006

armitage = powell = State = sane ?

* following up on my comment about emptywheel and pow wow's conversation that i mentioned yesterday, pow wow says:
"But in the end, I think what it probably comes down to is instinct. I have an instinct about Armitage and his role based on his interview(s) and activities, and I'm probably discounting evidence against that bias and highlighting evidence for it. And you have a different instinct (based on much more research and background material) and therefore the evidence I discount you highlight because it underscores your instinct.

Lukery's comment is a great example of that: lukery's read is exactly the read I would put on Armitage being offered those intelligence jobs through Card (a job I believe Armitage was said to be after for a long time). To me, that information helps to verify my bias against Armitage's "innocence" - they'd (Cheney/Rumsfeld/Bush) never want a "Powell Man" heading the CIA (or DNI) in opposition to them, I figure. But your theory works to make that same information back up your instinct that Armitage is basically an innocent caught in the crossfire between OVP/DOD and State/CIA."
ew follows up with:
"pow wow

Thanks for the response. That's the kind of thoughtfulness many people pushing the Armitage theory aren't offering, I appreciate it. And again, I'm not opposed in principle the Armitage's involvement, but there is abundent evidence that he's not."
I don't think that EW is talking about me when she says 'many people pushing the Armitage theory...' - but, FTR, I'm not pushing any theory about Armitage's complicity in the Plame story. I don't have a position on that at all. We all seem to agree that he was a dupe - and there's some open discussion about how willing or unwilling his dupeness was. I've seen nothing that suggests that it was willing.

However, and separately, (and emptywheel and i have 'clashed' over this issue before) - emptywheel does view the world through a particular lens of institutional battles - particularly State vs OVP vs CIA, and she seems to see those institutions as (generally) separate and unique distinct. My personal *sense* is that things are a bit more complicated fuzzier than that - and i come at this with my own institutional biases - not least is Sibel's observation that State is perhaps the most corrupt dept - as well as my predisposition to view things through personal/selfish prisms (cf joe lieberman).

emptywheel may very well be correct in 'over-weighting' the institutional factors - but pow wow is at least correct to identify that she uses that frame (and i dare say that EW is very much aware of that fact).

Having said that, I still disagree with the premise of this:
"As to the Corn DCI or DNI gig (keeping in mind that, for all his history as a Death Squads afficianado, Negroponte is considered a State entity), do you really think they wanted to give DCI/DNI to someone they cared about? That job exists soley to oversee a massive failure. They want that person to fail a bureaucratic battle in favor of Rummy (as Negroponte currently is doing)."
They gave Negroponte the Iraq thing to fuck up, and then promoted him, and they gave DCI to Goss who is a long time insider hack, and then to Hayden for the same reason. IMHO, if they offered the same gigs to armitage, it wasn't so that they could hang him with it, it was so that they could get what they wanted. Given everything we know about these people, I think that you'd need a pretty strong argument to argue otherwise.

and AFAIC, the indicators seem to be pointing away from armitage = powell = State = sane
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update: see emptywheel's comment below.
update: slight edits for clarity

update: starroute in the comments says:
I may represent a third side in this debate, but I tend to see the real struggle as being between relatively objective information-gatherers and analysts on one side and cherry-pickers on the other. And I read things like the emasculation of the CIA, Rummy's purges in the Pentagon, and Hoekstra's recent report calling for more aggressive intelligence analysis as attempts to institutionalize the cherry-picking approach to policy. That's the background against which I've tended to view l'affaire Plame as well.
That sounds about right - although I'll add that the 'cherry-pickers' are criminals who primarily cherry-pick so that their criminal enterprises can flourish, whether that's selling drugs, selling arms, stealing oil, or blowing up countries so that they can 'making a killing' on the reconstruction.

8 comments:

profmarcus said...

for quite a while, i subscribed to the "armitage as innocent" theory, but, as i've read more and more over the months, i've come to realize that he is a consummate player, much cannier in the ways of politics and protective camouflage than meets the eye of the casual observer... while i don't necessarily think he is a dark force himself, he certainly seems capable of aligning himself with dark powers if it meets the needs of his own ego and insures his political survival... ironically, this view was bolstered when i discovered that he is one of the most notorious gossips in the upper echelons of d.c...

Simon said...

I can't really see Armitage as an innocent when it comes to Iraq, he was intimately involved in behind-the-scenes goings on during the '91 Gulf War. Colin Powell was Chairman of the Joint Chiefs at the time and he too knew far more than has ever been publicly acknowledged. I think they have a kindred (shared?) knowledge about Iraq since that time. Somehow I can see that RLA would not have wanted the role of DCI for fear of closet skeletons leaping out and consuming him at some later point in time. The role of DNI is slightly different, I wouldn't want to comment of that, but without a doubt RLA is a power player. My guess is that he doesn't like Cheney and isn't about to do him any favours, but won't do much about it because he already knows that Cheney's time is almost up and that he himself has still got some way to go.

emptywheel said...

Three things.

First, we know Armi doesn't like Dick--that's the reason he didn't accept the DCI/DNI positions.

Second, I think my take on "institutions" is unfairly represented here. For example, I don't think State Department employee Bolton is part of what those of us who followed the infighting call "State." It's arguable whether Grossman is or not (though I'd caution against using just one lens as a judge for these things). But there is clearly a faction that most people, using shorthand, call "State" that was opposed to OVP/DOD in 2003 wrt the relatively narrow question of the Iraq War. Fight about who was where. But you'd have to argue a lot more comprehensively--and factually--to suggest that faction didn't exist.

Third, I hope (and know I have tried to clarify on this point) that I never said State was "good." State was pushing a strong man with the consensual backing of Iraqis in 2003. Not a better solution, per se, than a Chalabi bribed government--certainly not democratic. The "good-evil" dichotomy is a binary others (and frankly, lukery, I'd put you here) impose on this description which doesn't exist--and which if I've claimed, I didn't mean to. State was a different faction than OVP. Better in the sense that it wasn't the driving force for the war. But nonetheless supporting a bunch of Kissingeresque theories about realpolitik that belie our very reasons for war in Iraq. But the only way folks have gotten to this binary is by assuming the factionalism on Iraq and Plame is the same as that on other issues, like supporting hegemony.

Argue against my depiction of players in the factions. Argue with facts (which I'm not seeing, frankly, at all) that these factions are wrong. But please don't, once again, suggest I'm saying one side is "good" here. One side is undeniably the driver of the Plame affair. The other is (arguably--prove me wrong if you will, but use evidence please) not a central driver in the Plame affair. But that says little about whether I, personally, support either factions views about world politics.

And one more thing. Those of you so quick to throw Armitage in bed with Cheney. Can you explain why Armi is the most sane speaker on Iran (from either party), yet Iran is clearly one of OVP's big gold rings? Say what you will about Armitage. But either he's lying his ass off when he says Persia will regain its hegemonic position and we need to prepare for that fact, or he's on a polar opposite position from the Neocons on their signature issue.

starroute said...

The tendency for the extreme hawks to cast State(INR)/CIA as the bad guys goes back at least 30 years, to when Bush's Team B was set up to do a runaround and come up with scarier intel on the Russians to justify the hysteria of the Committee on the Present Danger. Heck, some of it might even go back to when Joe McCarthy was witch-hunting after Commies in the State Department. The hatred of ideologues for bureaucrats is a constant and for me transcends questions of whether Person A is allied with Person B against Person C.

I may represent a third side in this debate, but I tend to see the real struggle as being between relatively objective information-gatherers and analysts on one side and cherry-pickers on the other. And I read things like the emasculation of the CIA, Rummy's purges in the Pentagon, and Hoekstra's recent report calling for more aggressive intelligence analysis as attempts to institutionalize the cherry-picking approach to policy. That's the background against which I've tended to view l'affaire Plame as well.

lukery said...

prof - Armitage is indeed very canny - and he has quite a sordid history. he is regarded as one of Australia's 'best friends' - if i'm not mistaken, starroute has pointed to some articles that say that armitage was laundering some heroin money through banks here back during the vietnam days.

he and all his mates threatened (in 2004?) australians that they'd better not elect a new PM. Fukker.

lukery said...

ew - thnx.

"we know Armi doesn't like Dick--that's the reason he didn't accept the DCI/DNI positions."
I'm curious as to why he was offered them at all - particularly given their track record re promoting people. Offering those gigs to him was either consistent with every other promotion, or it was an aberration. Interesting either way. That was the main point of the post.

I apologise if i misrepresented your frame re 'institutions' generally, and if i suggested that you gave State a free pass. When we have previously spoken on this issue, I was unclear in that post (which I later clarified) when i wrote that people think that State=Good I was only referring to the Plame matter. Further (from memory), I think I also amended "people think State=Good" to "people think State=Innocent"

As it happens, it appears that I was wrong about that, because it appears as though the 'State' folks probably are innocent in the Plame matter.

"But please don't, once again, suggest I'm saying one side is "good" here. "
I'm not quite sure what you are saying here, I don't think I made any such claim. All I meant to say was that you appear to "'over-weight' the institutional factors" relative to me.

lukery said...

thnx starroute - post updated with your 'cherry-picking' comment. The thing is, if Sibel is right, then most of the cherry picking appears designed to further criminal enterprises.

emptywheel said...

two quick points

I think starroute is right that to some degree there are those who believe in facts, and those who don't. But among those who don't, there are those who conducted a massive fraud (called the Iraq war) on the American people, and those who believe in lying to the American people as part of normal governance.

Also, note that a lot of the hawks currently tied to OVP were in State in the 1980s and 1990s. According to Ritter, many of those who were gaming the Iraq inspections were in middle levels of State.