erik lundegaard

Legacy of Something

I've been reading Tim Weiner's book Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA while on vacation in Vietnam (I know) and the big takeaway, for me, 100 pages in, reflecting the first 10 years of the agency's history, is this:

We were never as weak as we feared. Our enemies were never as strong as we feared. Our big mistake was our fear. It made us adopt a policy, chosen mostly in secret by a handful of men, that runs counter to an open democracy and that played to the strengths of our enemies: covert operations. They were better at this than we were because they lived in a closed, controlled society. We didn't fight from our strength but from our weakness. We tried to beat our enemy by becoming like our enemy, and in the process we weakened ourselves and strengthened them. And the only thing worse than our countless, bumbling failures was our few successes--not least because of the long-term consequences. Guatemala in 1954 became the blueprint for the Bay of Pigs in 1961. Iran in 1953 led to the Ayatollah in 1979... which led... which led...

And the press, in the golden age of journalism, was nowhere to be seen.

Meanwhile, today, the argument that we are weak, and that we need to become like our enemy to defeat our enemy, continues.


Posted at 07:16 PM on Fri. Mar 26, 2010 in category Books  
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COMMENTS

Mister B wrote:

One of the many things that bug me about Bush apologists is that they keep referring to the first WTC bombing as the day the Muslims started it.

Anyone who pays attention to world history knows that's not going anywhere near back far enough and it looks like we started it over there.

It's enough to make me want all US troops pulled out of every allied country (at least) because -- like Bill Maher has said several times recently -- once the US military moves into a country, it never leaves.

And I'm fairly sure a majority of the Tea Partiers (if not all of them) don't see military spending as a waste of taxpayers' money that we should be concerned about.
Comment posted on Sat. Mar 27, 2010 at 11:42 PM

Tim wrote:

That sounds like a fascinating read. In one of those "WTF kind of morons have we always been" ways. I'm reading "The Empire Strikes Out" right now, about baseball as a tool of foreign policy; I didn't know what to expect from it, but it's interesting to see the baseball elements of 20th (and 19th) century US military adventures and US-installed puppet dictators; I learned things like the US once claimed Nicaragua as a a colony. I never knew that.

Maher's been pretty good of late, Mike -- though I've yet to see this week's show.
Comment posted on Sun. Mar 28, 2010 at 06:48 PM

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