[by Mark Safranski, a.k.a. “zen”]
I have a new piece up at War on the Rocks ( which, by the way, is doing an important Indiegogo fundraising drive):
A mostly forgotten Arab adversary of American influence in the Mideast, the late Egyptian dictator Gamal Abdel Nasser, once said “The genius of you Americans is that you make no clear-cut stupid moves, only complicated stupid moves which make us wonder at the possibility that there may be something to them we are missing.”
The Obama administration appears determined to live up to Nasser’s estimation of our strategic acumen.
The latest evidence for this proposition would be the ill-fated affair of the administration’s former battle plan to retake the Iraqi city of Mosul from the butchers of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). Problems began at the inception when the anonymous but official Central Command (CENTCOM) briefer revealed a plethora of sensitive operational details to reporters, a move described by journalists in their stories as “odd,” “very unusual,” “rare.” The stories provoked a firestorm of criticism from members of Congress, the Iraqis, and within the Pentagon itself which predictably led the administration’s numerous admirers in the media to mobilize andtake up a defensive crouch, speculating as to the clever hidden motives for releasing the plan. [….]
Read the rest here.
The dust-up over the Mosul Plan is, in my view, symptomatic of dysfunctional organizational problems, especially with the senior White Hose staff and NSC. The latter of which is now of enormous size, estimated 400-500 people, depending how you count various civil service employees and military personnel on “loan” from their agencies and departments ( a “mini-State Department”, in the words of one member of the natsec community).
By contrast, Brent Scowcroft helped the collapse of the USSR to a soft landing and managed the Gulf War with an NSC of about 50.