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Why Oh Why Are We Ruled by These Liars?

Worst administration ever. Emptywheel surveys the blowback from the lies to motivate the Iraq war:

The Next Hurrah: Crying Wolf: Laura Rozen offers a long excerpt from Chris Nelson on North Korea. Nelson seems to be describing what happens to a country's foreign policy when a country has fluffed the intelligence too many times.

S. Korean officials had spent the past couple of weeks, since the rumors began, sounding both tougher and more upset at N. Korean behavior than has been their norm. But as the weekend progressed, there began to be news stories indicating doubts that US-supplied intelligence was 100% reliable...that is, that perhaps what is on or close to the launch pad is NOT actually a Taepodong-2 ICBM, but perhaps even just another Nodong.

That’s worth noting, as some non-government but expert US sources, themselves up to speed on the available classified intel, have been warning for more than a week that we should not jump to conclusions about what the DPRK is prepared to launch, and specifically hinting (can one hint specifically? Oh well...) that the rocket may turn out to be less than a Taepodong-2, when all the smoke clears.

Today, there were hints from S. Korea officials they may be starting to doubt the key parts of the story, at least as it has been spun by US “official sources”, specifically challenging “intel” that fueling has been completed. And one Korean “source who asked not to be named” in a Korea Times story went to far as to charge ulterior motive in all the US-based leaks, “Frankly speaking, aren’t the United States and Japan in a position that could enjoy the current situation?” [emphasis mine]

So let's see. The US announces that North Korea will test a long-range missile, one that could reach the US. It gets South Korea on board to support the threats it is issuing against North Korea. And then...

And then the questions come. North Korea isn't testing a long-range missile, it's testing the same old missile it has had. North Korea isn't launching a missile, it's launching a satellite (followed by assertions that even a satellite launch is a nuclear threat to the US).

And then, our allies the South Koreans, begin to doubt. Um, maybe not, they say.

Now frankly, I don't know whether the apparent preparation to launch something is a threat or not. Though I tend to trust William Arkin when he notes that launching a missile is one thing, and scaling down a nuclear bomb sufficiently to fit in that missile is entirely a different issue.

Much ado about nothing I say.

North Korea, starved for attention and with its own fish to fry domestically and in its own region, may or may not be preparing some rocket for launch, and it may or may not be attempting to use its missile as a bargaining chip or a PR stunt, and it may just be attempting to put its own satellite into space. What should crystal clear though in a world of risks and balances is that North Korea's missile, even if it exists, is hardly a threat to us.


The suggestion is that a nuclear weapon could be place on the Taepo Dong 2. It would indeed be a grave and provocative act, one that would be technically feasible by, say, 2016 at the earliest. And that's if we did nothing between now and then to help North Korea along in changing the situation.

Also, I hate to say it, but I've begun instinctively distrusting stories leaked to the NYT--Oh how the Grey Lady has fallen. But this story is as much about the US' credibility as it is about the NYT's diminishing credibility. South Korea was cooperating in our stern stance. And then it began to doubt us. Not only doubt us, but suggest that the warmongering obviously served US (and Japanese) purposes. It gave the US reason to dump more money into its defense contractor friends to develop a missile defense shield. And it gave Japan one more excuse to reconsider its non-nuclear stance.

You see, gaming intelligence does have consequences. It has the consequences of the 2500 numbers service men and women who sacrificed their life based on a lie. And it makes us absolutely untrustworthy with some of our closest allies.

Thanks Dick, for crying wolf.