Loyalty vs. Competence

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I just got a press release from G. Gordon Liddy's people, informing me that the erstwhile plumber had this to say about the appointment of Condi Rice to fill Powell's shoes:

Condi is an excellent choice because she has the complete confidence of the President—she's totally loyal to him.

I spoke to Sy Hersh this weekend, who made a similar comment—absent the positive connotations—about Alberto Gonzales. David Brooks and the Spectator, meanwhile, are up in arms over "mutiny" at the CIA. As Hersh put it, watch for the transformation of the executive branch into a "yes men's paradise."

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  1. G. Gordon Liddy has “people?”

    Eek.

    Why is it that the people who most need to have someone tell them they’re full of crap, are the least likely to let someone like that near them?

  2. …watch for the transformation of the executive branch into a “yes men’s paradise.”

    This is sounding eerily like Saddam’s regime. Of course, without the brutality.

  3. So is W a drooling dunce who is spoon-fed policy by his conniving advisors or an evil mastermind working his mojo over his weak-willed staff of lackeys?

  4. Julian Sanchez,

    Why is this so upsetting? This is what every administration does. If they fuck up, well, put their feet to the fire; until that time, this is simply de rigueur.

  5. Of course, John Kerry would have been much worse.

  6. What Jason Bourne said

  7. thoreau,

    I’m not particularly convinced that either Bush or Kerry (if he had been elected – which was always a long-shot) post-Iraq have much room too manuevre.

  8. I second Jason as well.

    Not only is this par for the course, but this isn’t a boardroom where diversity of opinion is a goal. Dissention creates more problems than it supposedly eliminates, when mixed with rapidly changing culture shocks and upheavel, and especially when allowed to continue in military or intelligence operations.

    Of course, I’m speaking about those that might stand in the way of change vs. a disagreement on intelligence analysis. We need as little of the former and as much of the later as we can get.

  9. Ah, Mr. Sanchez,

    and Seymour Hersh is considered an unbiased expert to assess Alberto Gonzalez’s juridical competence (or the lack thereof) based upon what? His own lawyerly acumen, perhaps?

  10. perhaps, mr bourne, what makes it more upsetting is the fact that what they’re saying yes to is so radically ideological and jacobin.

  11. “So is W a drooling dunce who is spoon-fed policy by his conniving advisors or an evil mastermind working his mojo over his weak-willed staff of lackeys?”

    I don’t think anyone’s suggested that because Bush prefers to surround himself with people who won’t challenge his ignorance that he’s some kind of “mastermind.”

    It’s rather likely that he’s a dunce (I don’t know if he drools; probably in his sleep like the rest of us) who is spoon-fed policy by his conniving advisors AND who prefers to have people around who will agree with him.

    After all, this is the guy who said, “That’s the interesting thing about being the President. Maybe somebody needs to explain to me why they say something, but I don’t feel like I owe anybody an explanation.?

  12. gaius marius,

    Well, if that’s the case then perhaps they will eventually share the same fate as the real Jacobins. 🙂

  13. I’m just glad we have a jobs program for Kremlinologists.

  14. “they’re saying yes to is so radically ideological and jacobin.”

    Oh man,… that radical and jacobin 51% of the country, what will they do next?

  15. President Kerry might have tried the same thing. However, in that case it would be the conservatives complaining rather than for the most part being silent or joining in.

  16. It’s amusing to watch the feigned outrage over the president’s failure to stack his cabinet with ideological opponents. Well, alternately amusing and sad, I guess.

  17. If find it very telling that so many people confuse organizational loyalty with “yes-men.” If Sy Hersh et al had ever actually worked within a large executive organization they would know that is not true.

    Organizational loyalty isn’t about telling the boss only good news it is about being honest and ernest. Every lifecycle of every policy has two main phases: the decision phase, where an internal debate occurs over what course of action should be taken, and the execution phase, where policy decided on is actually implemented. A loyal person argues forcefully for what they believe is the best policy in the decision phase but once a decision has been made they sincerely try their best to implement the policy even if they lost the debate in the decision phase.

    To many people today feel they have no moral obligation to earnestly try to execute policies that they disagree with. Losing an organization debate just means that they will continue with their preferred course by covert means or even to actively sabotage the new policy.

    Every organizational leader, whether public or private, has the right to ask that the people who are working for him are honest and sincere. If an individual cannot execute polices they disagree with then they need to resign.

    The truely dangerous ”yes-men” are those that dishonestly say, “Yes I will execute” when they have intention of doing so. If Sy Hersh had more experience outside his own little word he would know that.

  18. Shannon Love,

    So, like almost all your statements in the past, your arguments come down to unsubstantiated armchair psychology. This is almost as bad as your ignorant comment concerning Voltaire’s comment on British admirals. *chuckle*

  19. “The truely dangerous ”yes-men” are those that dishonestly say, “Yes I will execute” when they have intention of doing so.”

    That might be true in the private sector. But in government, it seems to me that the most dangerous yes-men are the ones who will do whatever it takes to make their boss happy, even if that means doing something unethical. Like, say, lying in order to gain support for a war.

  20. Shannon Love,

    Its kind of interesting how your arguments parallel arguments I’ve heard from liberals concerning the study of history – namely that only women can write “the history of women.” What you’ve done is make the equally foolish argument – that only “executive organization” can write about “executive organization” people.

  21. Not to mention it’s BS: “Yes Men” are the ones who won’t tell the Boss he’s about to make a BIG mistake. No other points of view. All it does is limit options to whatever fits a predefined ideology.

    Worse yet, they’re being picked because of loyalty not competence. I mean, good God, Rice for Sec. State? Keeping Donald “We only need 60,000 troops for Iraq” Rumsfeld?

  22. To many people today feel they have no moral obligation to earnestly try to execute policies that they disagree with. Losing an organization debate just means that they will continue with their preferred course by covert means or even to actively sabotage the new policy.

    Shannon-

    While the distinctions that you draw might be useful, I question your contention that “too many people today feel…” Are you suggesting that in the past people were much more loyal to organizations? Feelings of organizational loyalty may wax and and wane somewhat in various companies, governments, and other large organizations, but I seriously doubt that there were ever “good old days” when everybody was a good team player.

  23. thoreau,

    Nice fisking of Shannon Love.

    _________________________

    BTW, Margaret Hassan, RIP

  24. thoreau,

    One thinks of the feud between Jefferson and the Federalists in the first Washington administration.

  25. Or rather, those who would become the Federalists.

  26. Morat – Rice is less qualified than Colin Powell, how, exactly? His background was as a general, after all – hardly what one would want in a diplomat, non?

    Or perhaps you would compare Rice’s qualifications to the academic Madeline Albright? Perhaps you think a corporate lawyer (what’s his name, Clinton Secy of State), has a better background?

    Rice is quite well qualified. The fact ythat you disagree with her on policy grounds is a different issue.

  27. R.C. Dean,

    What policy grounds does she espouse? What Rice purported to be her policy doctrine early in the Bush administration is no longer her policy. She was a self-desribed “realist” at the time (along the lines of Kissinger), but now she follows the lead of the neo-conservative utopians.

  28. If Rice was an unknown quantity, I would agree that it is too soon to judge her competence. However, even many of her supporters have been disappointed by her performance as NatSec Advisor. The person who holds that position is supposed to manage the various intelligence agencies to avoid precisely what has been going on for the last three years: battles over turf and resources, politicization of intelligence analysis, etc.

  29. SR hits the nail on the head. A former Stanford Provost and professor of international relations with DC experience would ordinarily look like an excellent choice for Secretary of State. But when you find out that she’s done a poor job coordinating amongst the various executive agencies as National Security Advisor, suddenly the situation changes and she no longer seems so excellent.

  30. If I had the chance to ask her a question in her confirmation hearing, I would ask her what steps she plans to take to repair our relations with our traditional allies.

  31. If I had the chance to ask her a question in her confirmation hearing, I would ask her what steps she plans to take to repair our relations with our traditional allies.

    Maybe she could mail them a little book on how to write a letter of apology?

    In all seriousness, France, Germany, et al, were only “our traditional allies” for as long as they needed us to keep the Soviets off their ass. Prior to that our relations with most of them ranged from indifference to open warfare.

  32. “In all seriousness, France, Germany, et al, were only “our traditional allies” for as long as they needed us to keep the Soviets off their ass. Prior to that our relations with most of them ranged from indifference to open warfare.”

    If someone asks her my question at the hearing, not that anyone will, I hope she replies with your answer.

  33. In all seriousness, France, Germany, et al, were only “our traditional allies” for as long as they needed us to keep the Soviets off their ass.

    And we were their allies because they spent a lot of money on defense during the Cold War, provided us with bases their, and thus kept the Atlantic free of Soviet dominance. It was a mutually beneficial situation; don’t stupidly imply that it was “charity” or that the U.S. did all of this alone.

    Prior to that our relations with most of them ranged from indifference to open warfare.

    Well, that was true of nearly the entire planet prior to WWII (even the U.K.), so your point is moot. The U.S. is rather new to the game of long-term allies.

  34. Dan,

    Anyway, none of those nations owes the U.S. an apology for the very simple fact that they were right in their warnings regarding Iraq.

  35. Simply put, Rice is unqualified because after her staff had been told that experts at the Energy Department believed the notorious aluminum tubes were probably intended for small artillery rockets, she went on to tell the American people and the world that the tubes were “only really suited for nuclear weapons programs.”

    I think since most of the leaders of the rest of the world are not loyalists to the Bush administration, they’ll know that when they meet the new U.S. Secretary of State, they’ll be shaking hands with a woman who deliberately lied to increase support for a war (I’d underline “war” if I had any html skills). In what way is such a person deserving of any respect whatsoever?

  36. Les,

    I thought her excuse that she hadn’t read the report was lame and disingenuous.

  37. I would only add that without our traditional allies choosing to assist us with the deployment of medium range missiles, and, thereby, making themselves the likely target of a potential first strike, we might not have won the Cold War as we did.

    I suspect we’ll need such assistance again if we’re going to win the War on Terror. Obtaining such assistance is one of the responsibilities of the Secretary of State, is it not?

  38. Ken Schultz,

    Yes, with opposition from some European publics (and the U.S. public for that matter), Kohl, Thatcher and even Mitterand accepted the placement of those missiles. They had to option to take Finland’s route after all, but instead they made themselves a big, fat target.

  39. Jason,

    Especially since it was wasn’t just one report, but several.

  40. Les: “Simply put, Rice is unqualified because after her staff had been told that experts at the Energy Department believed the notorious aluminum tubes were probably intended for small artillery rockets, she went on to tell the American people and the world that the tubes were ‘only really suited for nuclear weapons programs.'”

    Don’t you know? The DOE, like the CIA, State Dept., Joint Chiefs of Staff, etc., is filled with anti-American/anti-Bush (the terms are now synonyms) Arab-cuddlers whose sole mission in life is to weaken our defenses against Islamo-fascism.

  41. Jason,

    And there were demonstrations and much debate in France, England and Germany as I recall. And unlike Bush the Younger, when Reagan saw the opposition, Reagan didn’t hide in a hole and call the Europeans names; he got on a plane and appealed to the peoples of France, England and Germany dircectly.

  42. So how is old Sy? Is he back on solid food yet?

  43. Dan, you ass, German pilots patrolled our skies under the control of NORAD in the weeks after September 11.

    When you’re friend sees that you are about to walk off a cliff, he tries to stop you.

  44. When you’re friend sees that you are about to walk off a cliff, he tries to stop you.

    And we were their allies because they spent a lot of money on defense during the Cold War, provided us with bases their, and thus kept the Atlantic free of Soviet dominance. It was a mutually beneficial situation; don’t stupidly imply that it was “charity” or that the U.S. did all of this alone.

    mr joe, mr bourne — don’t you see? those bits would imply that some nation besides the united states is responsible for something good in the world. and, in the age of american triumphalism, that simply cannot be acknowledged to be so.

  45. I would only add that without our traditional allies choosing to assist us with the deployment of medium range missiles, and, thereby, making themselves the likely target of a potential first strike, we might not have won the Cold War as we did.

    Our “traditional allies” only chose to “assist us” with the deployment of medium-range nuclear missiles after the Soviets had already deployed theirs. It’s nonsensical to pretend that we deployed those medium-range missiles in order to protect ourselves, or that deploying those missiles made Europe more vulnerable to a first strike. You’re just mindlessly reiterating official Soviet propaganda, long-refuted.

  46. Another thing: the argument that Europe and the United States were equally-valuable allies to each other doesn’t fly. Europe did very little to protect the United States from the Soviets, while the United States provided the lion’s share of the military protection for Europe.

    That doesn’t mean we helped them out of selfless reasons (I should have guessed that Jason would hit on the stupidest possible interpretation of my remarks — it’s his gift). We helped them because it was not in our interests for Europe to fall to the Soviets. But it should be obvious that it was even *less* in Europe’s interests for that to happen. They got more out of the alliance than we did. As soon as that ceased to be the case, they lost interest in being our allies.

  47. Dan,

    Our “traditional allies” only chose to “assist us” with the deployment of medium-range nuclear missiles after the Soviets had already deployed theirs.

    So what? That doesn’t defeat the very valid observation that Europeans had a choice in the matter; indeed, it enhances the dangers associated with that choice. Indeed, if the Europeans were as weak-willed as you imply, they would have not chosen to deploy them. Yours is a self-fisking statement.

    It’s nonsensical to pretend that we deployed those medium-range missiles in order to protect ourselves…

    Our actions in Europe was predicated on protecting on ourselves, and this included the deployment of the Pershing IIs. You really do not understand the nature of our presence in Western Europe if you think – as you appear to – it was about altruism or charity. We were there because having forces in Western Europe protected the Atlantic sea lanes and because any relaxation to the Soviet menace, any allowance of encroachment into any free area of the world, would be slow suicide for us. I find it humorous that you, a neo-conservative, don’t realize this; that, indeed, you appear to adopt the soft-headed and long-discredited Kissinger doctrine instead.

    …or that deploying those missiles made Europe more vulnerable to a first strike.

    Actually they did make Europe more vulnerable, as of course the Soviet archives have demonstrated in full measure; the Pershing II’s worried the hell out of the Soviets, and so Soviet military plans changed to include a tactical nuclear first strike before their conventional invasion.

  48. I should have guessed that Jason would hit on the stupidest possible interpretation of my remarks — it’s his gift

    Dan, if you said it then you said it. Nobody can change the fact that you said it. You are obviously either a liar or somebody too stupid to realize what you said. He’s merely pointing out what you said and demanding that you realize what you said.

    Undoubtedly something else will occur to me immediately after I hit “post” and then I will post another short message immediately after this. And then another idea will occur to me and I will insult you again. I will do this several times and point out how ignorant you are in each one, and then at the end I will say “Well, I know what you said, and if you don’t then you’re either stupid or lying.”

    Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to report for duty in the French Marine reserve. It’s time for my annual training. My wife and my gay lover will both be there, helping me study for my law school exams. I’m paying for law school by working as an engineer in New Hampshire. I’m the only guy in my platoon who grew up in Alabama, all the rest are from France.

  49. Really, I think it’s quite ridiculous that Dan expects me to read his mind. If he says something that has a stupid interpretation then how else am I supposed to interpret it? Reasonably?

    Off to France!

  50. What Jason said, of course.

    I have sometimes wondered if there might not be two people posting under Dan’s name. One of them makes semi-informed posts, maybe he researches what he writes before he hits the “Post” button; the other just seems to regurgitate half-remembered phrases that he might have overheard as a child at the dinner table. That’s my working theory anyway, but I don’t know for sure; I just know that this is one of the stupidest things I’ve ever seen Dan post.

    Here’s a Soviet Communique’ with an analysis to boot(Analysis italicized):

    “KGB Center Pushes Operation RYAN, February 1983 (excerpt from KGB cable translated by Oleg Gordievsky)”

    No. 373/PR/52
    17.02.83 Top Secret
    Copy No 1
    London
    Comr[ade] Yermakov
    [A. V. Guk]
    (strictly personal)

    Permanent Operational
    Assignment to Uncover NATO
    Preparations for a Nuclear Missile
    Attack on the USSR

    “In view of the growing urgency of the task of discovering promptly any preparations by the adversary for a nuclear missile attack (RYAN) on the USSR, we are sending you a permanently operative assignment (POA) and briefing on this question.”

    “The objective of the assignment is to see that the residentura works systematically to uncover any plans in preparation by the main adversary [the United States] for RYAN and to organize a continual watch to be kept for indications of a decision being taken to use nuclear weapons against the USSR or immediate preparations being made for a nuclear missile attack.

    “The new orders assumed that a preliminary US decision to launch a nuclear missile attack, even if made in secret, would require a variety of consultations and implementing actions that could be detected through a combination of overt and clandestine scrutiny. According to the KGB Center:

    “One of the chief directions for the activity of the KGB’s foreign service is to organize detection and assessment of signs of preparation for RYAN in all possible areas, i.e., political, economic and military sectors, civil defense and the activity of the special services.
    Our military neighbors [the GRU] are actively engaged in similar work in relation to the activity of the adversary’s armed forces.42
    Three categories of targets were identified for priority collection. The first included US and NATO government, military, intelligence, and civil-defense installations that could be penetrated by agents or visually observed by Soviet intelligence officers. Service and technical personnel at such installations were assigned a high priority for recruitment. The second target category consisted of bilateral and multilateral consultations among the US and other NATO members. The third included US and NATO civilian and military “communications networks and systems.”

    “Rezidenturas were instructed to focus on changes in the operations of US/NATO communications networks and in staffing levels. They also were ordered to obtain information on “the organization, location, and functioning mechanism of all forms of communications which are allocated by the adversary for controlling the process of preparing and waging a nuclear war”–that is, information on command-and-control networks.43

    Moscow’s new sense of urgency was explicitly linked to the impending deployment of US Pershing II intermediate-range ballistic missiles (IRBMs) in West Germany. The Soviets as well as some Western military experts saw the Pershings as a new destabilizing element in the nuclear balance for two reasons. First, these highly accurate IRBMs were capable of destroying Soviet hard targets, including command -and-control bunkers and missile silos.44 Second, their flight time from Germany to European Russia was calculated to be only four to six minutes, giving the missiles a “super-sudden first strike” capability.45 In a crisis, the Soviets could be attacked with little or no warning, and therefore would have to consider striking at the Pershing launchsites before being struck by the US missiles.46″

    http://www.cia.gov/csi/monograph/coldwar/source.htm

    I guess we’re all makin’ it up Dan.

  51. I think she’s cute.

  52. …while the United States provided the lion’s share of the military protection for Europe.

    That’s not even remotely true. The lions share of protection of Europe came from Europe – whether we are talking about boots on the ground, aircraft, etc.; indeed, this became especially true from the 1960s onward when the U.S. was spending the bulk of its military dollars outside of Europe. What the U.S. did was help Europe re-arm in the 1950s; after that the Europeans armed themselves.

    (I should have guessed that Jason would hit on the stupidest possible interpretation of my remarks — it’s his gift).

    Its the most plausible interpretation.

    Here let’s repeat your actual statement on the matter to illustrate my point:

    It’s nonsensical to pretend that we deployed those medium-range missiles in order to protect ourselves, or that deploying those missiles made Europe more vulnerable to a first strike.

    If it wasn’t to “protect ourselves” then it obviously was for some other purpose, that other purpose most plausibly being altruism. Pray reveal, what was our purpose if it wasn’t to “protect ourselves?” If it had nothing to do with protecting our national interests, etc., then what exactly was it all about?

    Ken blew out of the water your notion that placement of those Pershing IIs did not increase the threat to Western Europeans.

    Ken,

    Can Dan & Friends be any more ill-informed than they are?

    neither jean nor gay nor jason,

    So, your basic point is the following:

    (a) One shouldn’t read books.

    (b) Pointing out the inconsistencies and errors in the statements of others is wrong.

    (c) Telling people that they are liars when they don’t admit to what is pointed out in (b) is wrong.

    (d) Multiple posts are wrong.

    (e) You don’t like my biography.

  53. …while the United States provided the lion’s share of the military protection for Europe.

    That’s not even remotely true. The lions share of protection of Europe came from Europe – whether we are talking about boots on the ground, aircraft, etc.; indeed, this became especially true from the 1960s onward when the U.S. was spending the bulk of its military dollars outside of Europe. What the U.S. did was help Europe re-arm in the 1950s; after that the Europeans armed themselves.

    (I should have guessed that Jason would hit on the stupidest possible interpretation of my remarks — it’s his gift).

    Its the most plausible interpretation.

    Here let’s repeat your actual statement on the matter to illustrate my point:

    It’s nonsensical to pretend that we deployed those medium-range missiles in order to protect ourselves, or that deploying those missiles made Europe more vulnerable to a first strike.

    If it wasn’t to “protect ourselves” then it obviously was for some other purpose, that other purpose most plausibly being altruism. Pray reveal, what was our purpose if it wasn’t to “protect ourselves?” If it had nothing to do with protecting our national interests, etc., then what exactly was it all about?

    Ken blew out of the water your notion that placement of those Pershing IIs did not increase the threat to Western Europeans.

    Ken,

    Can Dan & Friends be any more ill-informed than they are?

    neither jean nor gay nor jason,

    So, your basic point is the following:

    (a) One shouldn’t read books.

    (b) Pointing out the inconsistencies and errors in the statements of others is wrong.

    (c) Telling people that they are liars when they don’t admit to what is pointed out in (b) is wrong.

    (d) Multiple posts are wrong.

    (e) You don’t like my biography.

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