Thursday, November 27, 2008

The One Percent Doctrine by Ron Suskind

If the Western world was really going to make a pretense of a higher moral departure point — of greater sympathy and understanding for the human being as God made him, as expressed not only in himself but in the things he had wrought and cared about — then it had to learn to fight its wars morally as well as militarily, or not fight them at all; for moral principles were a part of its strength. Shorn of this strength, it was no longer itself; its victories were not real victories; and the best it would accomplish in the long run would be to pull down the temple over its own head.
-- George Kennan looking out over war-torn Germany after World War II

Pulitzer Prize winner Ron Suskind trains his sharp, analytical eyes on the War on Terror. His previous book, The Price of Loyalty, focus on the early years and of the Bush administration, revealing that the overthrow of Saddam Hussein was in the works long before the World Trade Center attacks. The One Percent Doctrine picks up roughly where Loyalty left off. It is the rest of the story, as Paul Harvey would say.

The "One Percent Doctrine" is often referred to as the "Cheney Doctrine" since he was the one to articulate it, and ensure that those in the administration as well as those in government agencies adhered to it. It its core, the doctrine is this: When assessing terrorist threats, if there is a one percent chance that the intel is correct, then the US acts as if the evidence is rock solid. Leave no stone unturned. It seems fairly easy to see the the problems that an approach such as this would cause. But after the 9/11 attacks, Cheney and the president held action in high regard. They didn't prize thinkers, people who could see that international issues are multifaceted. They wanted to surround themselves with doers, people who acted on instincts and suppositions, never mind that they weren't always right. Cheney's "One Percent Doctrine" was the framework under which these actions took place., and it fundamentally informs the way the US is fighting the War on Terror.

I am not going to attempt to get into the details of this book -- too much is covered. But I will say that this is not simply an attack on the Bush administration. It is a critique of US intelligence and of the way that our nation is waging this global war on terror. Suskind spoke with a host of government officials at the state and federal level -- some from the White House. The conclusion that he draws is that in its no-holds-barred pursuit of its enemies, the US has killed thousands of innocent people, alienated many of our allies, trampled the civil liberties of its citizens, and astonishingly caught very few terrorists.

Suskind ends the book by citing a text foundational to both Christianity and Islam. Deuteronomy 16:20: Justice, justice shalt thou follow, that thou mayest live, and inherit the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee. He states that most Hebrew scholars agree that the word "justice" is not simply repeated for emphasis, but that it is said once for the ends and once for the means.

4 comments:

Nihil Novum said...

Better lock your doors, commie.

Brooke said...

You are one book away with over an entire month left.
My hat goes off to you.

Carlton said...

Thanks. You can put your hat back on.

Brooke said...

Good, was waiting for you to okay that.