Tuesday, November 16, 2010


But we believe that the use of intelligence-driven, precision, targeted operations against high-value insurgents and their networks is a key component of our comprehensive civilian-military operations.
     [Hillary Clinton in defense of General Petraeus]
Can sophisticated phrasing hide a grimmer sort of truth? Is it possible that in many cases “intelligence-driven” sometimes only means that Afghanistanis are using the U.S. military to do away with their enemies? That those enemies may not be insurgents at all? It is extraordinarily difficult, I would submit, to operate in theaters where our own people don’t themselves speak Pashtu, Dari, Urdu, Arabic, or, for that matter any other language that people of the Islamic realm actually speak. Further, we have far too few people who’ve themselves spent long enough actually living the kind of life that enables them to “read” the population as we can read our own. The more sophisticated the language about a conflict, the less we should trust it. Such language hides the truth.


  1. Ugh. This post is true but hardly as much fun to read as the one that follows or the one that proceeded it!

  2. Make that the two that proceeded it. You poetic muse is with you this week!

  3. "Intelligence" is not intelligent.
    The Iraq War and WMDs demonstrated that. However, we were not intelligent enough to get the point.

    And you are so correct about the use of "sophisticated" language as a disguise:

    intelligence: does not have a clue
    precision: bombs wedding parties
    targeted: look out for friendly fire!


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