Wednesday, September 15, 2004

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The CIA's take on intelligence reform

Ted Barlow has a good summary of a talk given by deputy executive director of the CIA Marty Peterson. On Iraq:

In his recounting, the CIA underestimated Saddam’s missile programs, which were more advanced than anyone realized; they overestimated his biological and chemical weapons programs, which he described as “more capabilities than functioning programs”; and they were approximately right regarding his nuclear weapons programs, which hadn’t restarted. In response to a question, he said that he doubted that Saddam had smuggled out WMDs to other countries before the war.

He made the point that the CIA wasn’t involved in the policy decision to invade Iraq, without expressing an opinion about whether it was the right decison. In general, I felt that he was making a good-faith effort to be non-partisan.

On China:

He’s very concerned about China and Taiwan. He says that China is investing heavily in their military, and that we can tell that they’re doing drills that show that they’re learning how to use their new hardware. He thinks that the end result of this activity is likely to be a crisis over Taiwan. He mentioned a converstation with the former Prime Minister of Singapore, who said that China and Taiwan, not North Korea, was the East Asian security issue that he was most worried about.

Read the whole thing.

posted by Dan on 09.15.04 at 12:04 PM


China is investing in a lot of things right now. The military spending is more on modernization than expansion - and I've heard they're actually reducing the size of the PLA. They're investing in the Olympics - which is a huge prestige thing, putting China at center stage. They're also investing heavily in education - particularly English language training.

I don't have a good overall perspective, just a ground level view of China, teaching conversational English to grade school kids... but I'm not worried about China.

posted by: Doc on 09.15.04 at 12:04 PM [permalink]

re: PLA vs trade and markets

Yes, this mirrors my experience while in China, the current regime understands that to stay in power the future has to remain hopeful for the average Chinese (and shutting down their major trading partners would result in the cities boiling over, to say nothing of their own dependence on western technology - for all the success they've had on advancing their own, they still can't keep their 737s flying without western inputs).

What's happening in the PLA is they are moving them from a "show" army barely capable of 1940's style homeland defense to something worthy of respect by their neighbors (vs being handed their heinie again, by, say, the Vietnamese). As well as establishing a cadre of competent soldiers who could participate in UN or equiv activities where appropriate to their own interests (and their interests in global civil society are increasing exponentially - i.e. emerging countries are impacted by interrupted energy and money flows much more painfully than 1st world).

And as long as we have a policy of "whatever it takes" (and a president who repeats it), deterrence (wrt Taiwan and anything else we care about) is guaranteed to work (and it doesn't hurt to have a carrier battle group or two available). A punitive offense capability (that is regularly demonstrated to be the best in the world) is a wonderful thing for ensuring the peace (and trade, and prosperity).

posted by: Ari Tai on 09.15.04 at 12:04 PM [permalink]

The CIA had an opening for an assassin. After all of the background checks, interviews, and testing were done there were three finalists - two men and one woman. For the final test, the CIA agents took one of the men to a large metal door and handed him a gun.

"We must know that you will follow your instructions, no matter what the circumstances. Inside this room you will find your wife sitting in a chair. You have to kill her." The first man said. "You cant be serious. I could never shoot my wife!"The agent replies, "Then you?re not the right man for this job."

The second man was given the same instructions. He took the gun and went into the room. All was quiet for about five minutes. Then the agent came out with tears in his eyes. "I tried, but I cant kill my wife." The agent replies, "You dont have what it takes. Take your wife and go home."

Finally, it was the womans turn. Only she was told to kill her husband. She took the gun and went into the room. Shots were heard, one shot after another. They heard screaming, crashing, banging on the walls. After a few minutes, all was quiet. The door opened slowly and there stood the woman. She wiped the sweat from her brow and said, "You guys didnt tell me the gun was loaded with blanks. So I had to beat him to death with the chair."

posted by: Jokes on 09.15.04 at 12:04 PM [permalink]

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