Experts told us that allegations that US Central Command (CENTCOM) distorted intelligence related to the fight against the Daesh, if confirmed, would repeat a longstanding pattern of the military fabricating analyses to satisfy political leaders. Last week, a US Congress report revealed that CENTCOM distorted intelligence to present a positive outlook of anti-Daesh efforts in Iraq and Syria. Retired US Army Colonel and historian Douglas MacGregor said:
We’ve encountered the readiness of ambitious colonels and generals to “cook” analyses of all kinds since the early 1960s, not just intelligence. When the truth is ugly, only a lie can be beautiful. It’s that simple. Ever since the dismissal of US Army Chief of Staff General George Decker, who tried to warn against the United States getting involved with Vietnam in the 1960s, US Chairmen of the Joint Chiefs and service chiefs consistently told their political masters whatever they wanted to hear. Since then, a series of equally politicised and sycophantic Chairmen and Chiefs upheld this tradition. As a result, top generals colluded with US presidents to cover up major policy failures.
Whenever the White House feels the need to compensate for failed policies and strategy, presidents and their administrations pressure the military’s senior leadership to provide good news to spin the story. The late Soviet Marshal N V Ogarkov was right to try to warn the Soviet leadership about the military difficulties of intervening in Afghanistan in 1979. Decker’s warning is reminiscent of Marshal Ogarkov’s later warning to the Politburo regarding Afghanistan. A recent example of the pattern was the exaggerated claims of success for General David Petraeus’s counterinsurgency strategy in Iraq a decade ago, Petraeus’s policies in reality consolidated Iranian control of Iraq and set the stage for a regional Sunni-Shia war. However, that was of little concern to the Surge architects or to the Bush White House. What the White House wanted was relief from criticism and clear sailing for the next presidential election… in the long-run, it proved disastrous.
California State University Professor Emeritus of Political Science Beau Grosscup agreed with MacGregor:
The practise of encouraging the presentation and manipulation of false intelligence at the highest US policymaking levels went back to Vietnam. This is just the latest example of a longstanding tradition of massaging ‘intelligence’ to serve National Security State interests. Since the Vietnam War, the Pentagon has been hugely successful at monopolising the reporting of combat events.
Douglas MacGregor holds a doctoral degree in international relations from the US Military Academy at West Point. He commanded a unit in the Battle of 73 Easting, which was a decisive tank battle during the 1991 Gulf War.
16 August 2016