Wednesday, October 01, 2014

ISIS - How Did the U.S. Miss Warning Signs?

"How the U.S. missed warning signs about the Islamic State" PBS NewsHour 9/29/2014


EDITOR’S NOTE:  On the Sept. 29, 2014, edition of PBS NewsHour, a second guest in our discussion of U.S. policy on the Islamic State was unexpectedly unable to join our discussion due to a last minute technical malfunction.  We strive to include multiple points of view whenever possible on the NewsHour and regret this technical error.

JUDY WOODRUFF (NewsHour):  We pick up now on the president’s statements that the intelligence community underestimated the Islamic State group’s capabilities and overestimated the Iraqi military’s willpower.

For that, we get the perspective of Frederick Kagan.  He’s director of the Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute.  He was a leading advocate for the surge of American forces in Iraq in 2007.

And, Frederick Kagan, we welcome you back to the program.

FREDERICK KAGAN, American Enterprise Institute:  Thanks, Judy.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  So, let’s divide this in two, because there are two comments the president made here.

Number one, he said that the intelligence community was caught off-guard about how fast, how strong ISIS was growing.  How do you see that?

FREDERICK KAGAN:  Well, I mean, Director Clapper said that they had underestimated the ISIS threat and overestimated the Iraqi security forces.

But when you go back and look at the testimony that General Flynn, the DIA director, gave in February and a number of other testimonies and statements, it is pretty clear that the intelligence community leadership was tracking the rise of ISIS and seeing the threat and seeing the danger.

And so I don’t think it sounds like the intelligence community really missed this one in a big way.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  But hasn’t Director Clapper, though, said this in so many words, that they were caught off-guard?

FREDERICK KAGAN:  Well, he said — yes, he did say it in so many words, but he also went on to give a little bit more context than that.

And what he really specified was that they had not been able to estimate accurately the will to fight of both sides.  And that, you know, may have helped them not see Mosul fall as rapidly as it did, not see the ISF collapse as rapidly as it did.

But that’s a very particular issue.  What he didn’t say was that they had fundamentally missed or misjudged the rise of ISIS in general or the threat.  He can’t say that, really.  And he wouldn’t say that because his people have been testifying to it.

No comments: