Why was our intelligence community caught flat-footed about Putin’s moves? That’s a question being asked on Capitol Hill, and in Politico.
One answer is, “No, it wasn’t.” That one was given by James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence, and CIA spokesman Todd Ebitz, who both made statements to the effect that the intelligence community “included warnings of possible scenarios for a Russian military intervention in Ukraine.” I have to say that James Clapper has a bit of a general credibility problem regarding statements to the American public about intelligence. And a warning of a “possible scenario” does not include whether this was considered a distant possibility or a likely one.
The Politico article goes on to mention a bunch of liberal MSM pundits who failed to predict it. Gee, is that some sort of surprise? The tone was set by our president and his entire administration, followed slavishly by most liberal journalists, who have spent a great deal of time and effort saying what a pussycat Putin is, and ridiculing as outdated (Obama to Romney: “the 1980s are calling to ask for their foreign policy back”) anyone who might say otherwise. This began in 2008 with mockery of Sarah Palin, and reached a crescendo with Romney during the 2012 campaign.
To take any other scenario seriously would mean giving credence to those troglodytes Palin and Romney, agreeing with them instead of mocking them, and admitting that the world hadn’t turned into the fantasyland that suited Obama’s, Democrats’, and the MSM’s own rhetorical and political purposes.
The Politico article seems to be blurring the distinction between the intelligence community’s predictions and the predictions of people such as The New Yorker’s David Remnick, who may be in some ways “intelligent” but are not part of that community. But maybe Politico actually has a point, because expectations and mental set help to determine what can be seen and noticed. If the intelligence community is following the lead of the administration, its mental set may be such that it doesn’t see what it might otherwise see. Or, if Clapper and Ebitz are telling the truth and the intelligence community did see this coming (and I’m not at all certain they are), then the intelligence community can say whatever it wants, but if the administration has other ideas it doesn’t much matter what intelligence says. The administration can ignore them.