The left-wing blogosphere continues to slam the intellectual dishonesty of media-appointed foreign policy 'experts,' but there are people out there with real experience. A bipartisan group of former government officials has come to some very different conclusions than the pundits: The Surge is failing, the Global War on Terror has gone disastrously wrong, and Hillary Clinton has drawn some badly mistaken conclusions about America's safety.
The journal Foreign Policy and the Center for American Progress have published their annual survey of "America's 100 Most Respected Foreign Policy Experts" - State Department leaders drawn from from both political parties - and their evaluation of the Administration's "Surge" and the "Global War On Terror" is devastating.
The GOP and the media keep telling us that protecting us from terrorism is a Republican Party strength. So how badly is this Republican Administration failing in that effort? 91 percent of this bipartisan group say the world is becoming more dangerous for us and our country. That's up 10 percent ... since February.
Here are some of their other conclusions:
92 percent - in other words, virtually all of them - agree that the War in Iraq has adversely affected our national security. That includes 84% of those who describe themselves as "conservative."
Most (83 percent) doubt that Iran's nuclear intentions are peaceful, but less than 1 in 10 believe we should respond militarily. 8 out of 10 believe diplomacy or sanctions are an appropriate response. (How often have you heard that argument lately on television?)
So, how about that Surge? The report says it all:
More than half say the surge is having a negative impact on U.S. national security, up 22 percentage points from just six months ago. This sentiment was shared across party lines, with 64 percent of conservative experts saying the surge is having either a negative impact or no impact at all.
58 percent believe that Sunni-Shiite tensions will have increased in ten years' time.
Only 3 percent believe Iraq will become a "beacon of democracy."
Only 5 percent believe Al Qaeda will be weaker.
Pakistan, for its part, is a nightmare. The report says:
When asked to choose the nation that is most likely to become the next al Qaeda stronghold, more experts chose Pakistan than any other country, including Iraq ... More than half of those surveyed believe the current U.S. policy toward Pakistan is having a negative impact on U.S. national security.
Will the terrorists "follow us home"?
Only 12 percent believe that terrorist attacks would occur in the United States as a direct result of a U.S. troop withdrawal from Iraq. Eighty-eight percent of the experts said that either such a scenario was unlikely or that they see no connection between a troop withdrawal from Iraq and terrorist attacks inside the United States. This line of thinking was consistent across party lines ...
On June 3, Sen. Hillary Clinton said "I believe we are safer than we were." Yet virtually all of these experts say she's wrong, including those who worked for her husband. And her comments this week about those "new tactics" she claims are working were similarly off-base. Sen. Clinton promotes herself as the candidate with the most experience, but experience doesn't bring much value unless a leader also demonstrates good judgment.
To be fair to Sen. Clinton, most experts also disagree with Sen. Obama's statement that he would not negotiate with Hamas, and with Sen. Edwards and others who call for an immediate withdrawal (although the number of experts supporting immediate withdrawal is growing rapidly). And a great majority disagree with Giuliani's contention that the Surge is working and Sen. McCain's assertion that terrorists would "follow us home" if we withdrew.
So why does that new Brookings Institution report suggest that the Surge may be working, if these experts overwhelmingly disagree? As Kevin Drum explains, it's because the report's authors ignored seasonal variations to pretty up what is otherwise an exceedingly grim record. For consultant/wonk types, that's one of the oldest tricks in the book.
Guess who's listed as "spearheading" that report? None other than noted "expert" and alleged "war critic" Michael O'Hanlon.
Not that the "Surge" isn't accomplishing anything. As the New York Times reports, more Iraqis have been driven from their homes since the increase began. Per the Times, "... the United Nations migration office calls (it) the worst human displacement in Iraq's modern history." The Iraqi Red Crescent has reported a doubling of internally displaced Iraqis, to 1.1 million, since the February build-up. That's 100,000 new refugees per month.
A question for Sen. Joe Biden and Michael O'Hanlon: Is this what you guys mean by a "soft partition"?
And a question for the media: Why do we continue to see wildly inaccurate and deceptive prognosticators like O'Hanlon on television day after day, while this bipartisan pool of experts goes unseen and unheard?