Electoral victories by Republicans are just part of the story. When I first moved to contemplate this peculiar utopian vision, I was struck by its apparent futility. What I did not understand was that beating liberal ideas was not the goal. The Washington conservatives aim to make liberalism irrelevant not by debating, but by erasing it.
Building a majority coalition has always been a part of the programme, and conservatives have enjoyed remarkable success at it for more than 30 years. But winning elections was not a bid for permanence by itself. It was only a means. The end was capturing the state, and using it to destroy liberalism as a practical alternative. The pattern was set by Margaret Thatcher, who used state power of the heaviest-handed sort to implant permanently the anti-state ideology.
In the 34 years before she became prime minister, Britain rode a see-saw of nationalisation, privatisation and renationalisation; Thatcher set out to end the game for good. When she sold off nationally owned industries, she took steps to ensure that workers received shares at below-market rates, leading hopefully to the same soul transformation. Much of this programme has already been accomplished, if not on the precise terms Norquist suggested.
President Bush announced privatisation to be his top priority on the day after his re-election in , although he had not emphasised this issue during the campaign. He proceeded to chase it deep into the land of political unpopularity, a region from which he never really returned. He did this because the potential rewards of privatising social security justify any political cost.
At one stroke, it would both de-fund the operations of government and utterly reconfigure the way Americans interact with the state. Once the deal has been done and the trillions of dollars that pass through social security have been diverted from the US Treasury to stocks in private companies, the effects would be locked in for good.
First, there would be an immediate flood of money into Wall Street; second, there would be an equivalent flow of money out of government accounts, immediately propelling the federal deficit up into the stratosphere and de-funding a huge part of the federal activity.
The practical results of such a titanic redirection of the state are easy to predict, given the persistent political demands of Wall Street: low wage growth, even weaker labour organisations, a free hand for management in downsizing, in polluting, and so on. The longing for permanent victory over liberalism is not unique to the west. One of the most effective of these has been massive public debt.
Naomi Klein has pointed out, in case after case, that the burden of debt has forced democratic countries to accept a laissez-faire system that they find deeply distasteful. Regardless of who borrowed the money, these debts must be repaid - and repaying them, in turn, means that a nation must agree to restructure its economy the way bankers bid: by deregulating, privatising and cutting spending. The formal justification is one of the all-time great hoaxes. By cutting taxes, it is said, you will unleash such economic growth that federal revenues will actually increase, so all the additional government spending will be paid for.
David Stockman, the libertarian budget director of the first Reagan administration, did the maths in and realised it would not rescue the government; it would wreck the government. This is the point where most people would walk away. Instead, Stockman decided it had medicinal value. He realised that with their government brought to the brink of fiscal collapse, the liberals would either have to acquiesce in the reconfiguration of the state or else see the country destroyed.
This is government-by-sabotage: deficits were a way to smash a liberal state. The Reagan deficits did precisely this. He got tough with the federal workforce. So-called virtues George W Bush proceeded to plunge the budget into deficit again. That reduces public faith in government, which is precisely what the Republicans want. But his theory seems more accurately to describe the stratagems of its fans on the American right. And the correct term for the disasters that have disabled the liberal state is not suicide, but vandalism.
Loot the Treasury, dynamite the dam, take a crowbar to the monument and throw a wrench into the gears. Slam the locomotive into reverse, toss something heavy on the throttle, and jump for it. Mainstream American political commentary customarily assumes that the two political parties do whatever they do as mirror images of each other; that if one is guilty of some misstep, the other is equally culpable.
But there is no symmetry. Liberalism, as we know it, arose out of a compromise between left-wing social movements and business interests. It depends on the efficient functioning of certain organs of the state; it does not call for all-out war on private industry. Conservatism, on the other hand, speaks not of compromise, but of removing its adversaries from the field altogether. The resources and organisational heft of the well-off and hyper-conservative have exploded. But the org anisational resources of middle-income Amer icans.
The resulting inequality has greatly benefited the Republican Party while drawing it closer to its most affluent and extreme supporters. And as American inequality widens, the clout of money will only grow more powerful. As I write this, the lobbyist-fuelled conservative boom of the past ten years is being supplanted by a distinct conservative bust: like the real-estate speculators who are dumping properties all over the country, conservative senators and representatives are heading for the revolving door in record numbers.
Throwing the rascals out is no longer enough. A friend of mine summarised this concisely as we were lunching in one of those restaurants where the suits and the soldiers get together. It would be nice if electing Democrats was all that was required to resuscitate the America that the right flattened, but it will take far more than that. A century ago, an epidemic of public theft persisted, despite a long string of reformers in the White House, Republicans and Democrats, each promising to clean the place up. Nothing worked, and for this simple reason: democracy cannot work when wealth is distributed as lopsidedly as theirs was-and as ours is.
The inevitable consequence of plutocracy, then and now, is bought government. Labels: Politiek. Russian politicians and their partners in Tskhinvali, the capital of the breakaway region South Ossetia, said that when Georgian forces tried to seize control of the city and the surrounding area, the physical damage was comparable to Stalingrad and the killings similar to the Holocaust. But a trip to the city on Sunday, without official escorts, revealed a very different picture.
While it was clear there had been heavy fighting - missiles knocked holes in walls, and bombs tore away rooftops - almost all of the buildings seen in an afternoon driving around Tskhinvali were still standing. Russian-backed leaders in South Ossetia have said that 2, people died in fighting in Tskhinvali and nearby villages. Since Russian troops occupied much of Georgia last week, Kremlin officials have suggested strongly that both South Ossetia and its fellow rebel region, Abkhazia, should gain independence from Tbilisi.
Russian troops have kept tight control on access to Tskhinvali, often bringing reporters in on coordinated trips. In addition to Russian soldiers, South Ossetian militia fighters roamed the streets. One of them, drunk, walked up and showed off a shiny watch. While there was extensive damage to some structures, most buildings had front doors on their hinges and standing walls. For every building charred by explosions - the Georgians are accused of using multiple rocket launcher systems - there were others on tree-lined streets that looked untouched.
One government center was hollowed out by blasts, but the one next to it teemed with workers. While the city was still teetering from the violence, families sat on benches in front of their homes and ate fruit. Many talked about the Georgian incursion on Aug. In short, the city was scarred but still standing. Researchers for Human Rights Watch, an international advocacy group, had similar findings as McClatchy about casualty numbers in Tskhinvali. Labels: Georgie , Politiek. CHICAGO - Labor groups on Thursday asked federal regulators to look into whether Wal-Mart Stores Inc broke the law during company meetings with store managers where it warned about the consequences of a proposed labor law backed by Democrats.
Wal-Mart denies that it tried to influence voting. A spokeswoman for WakeUpWalmart. She added that the comments varied in their directness. Wal-Mart has acknowledged holding meetings with U. But the retailer, which has kept its U. Wal-Mart opposes proposed legislation that would make it easier for workers to unionize by signing a card rather than holding a vote.
Obama, a co-sponsor of the original bill, has called for passage of the act. Presumptive Republican presidential nominee John McCain has voted against it. Wal-Mart spokesman David Tovar said that if the FEC decides to investigate, it will find the company did nothing wrong. He declined to say whether any managers had been disciplined for making unapproved comments. Labels: Amerikaanse verkiezingen. Labels: Religie. McCain the Antichrist? Their conclusions, while highly controversial, may have a dramatic impact on the elections, since many Bible-believing Christians have already expressed doubts about McCain's fealty to Christianity.
The analysis was conducted by the respected True Bible Society, and it will be published next month in the End Times Journal.
The analysis was especially ironic, given that it came out just one day after McCain was accused of subtly hinting that Barack Obama could be the Antichrist. McCain ran a commercial depicting Obama as "The One," giving rise to charges that he was sending a subliminal messages to anti-Obama Christians. Ultimately, the Antichrist will marshal forces from Babylon to spark a showdown with Christian and Jewish-led forces in the battle of Armageddon.
But Hussein's death meant that the Antichrist is someone else. Since Obama wants to get out of Iraq, he can't be the Antichrist either, concluded Jenkins. Jenkins said his teams suspicions were further heightened when genealogical research showed that McCain's great-grandfather was actually not John McCain, but John Mihai. Mihai is an ancient Romanian name, and according to Bible-believing Christians, the Antichrist is likely to be a Romanian. It means that McCain might easily pretend to be the Redeemer.
Robert Dreyfuss, a Nation contributing editor, is an investigative journalist in Alexandria, Virginia, specializing in politics and national security. Copyright C The Nation. Labels: Politiek , Religie. Volgens de Rokerskerk is het recht om te roken via een beroep op de vrijheid van godsdienst afdwingbaar. De VWA controleert sinds het ingaan van het rookverbod op 1 juli gericht op overtredingen. Overtreders krijgen eerst een waarschuwing. Als een ondernemer blijft weigeren het rookverbod na te leven volgen boetes. Laten ze vooral naar de rechter stappen.
Ze komen er vanzelf wel achter dat dit een hopeloze zaak is. Je kunt wel een vergelijking maken tussen een verslaving en religie opium van het volk , maar dat wil nog niet zeggen dat een verslaving een religie is. Roken heeft op zich niets te maken met opvattingen over een transcendente werkelijkheid. Ze zullen toch een verhaaltje moeten verzinnen waaruit blijkt dat ze moeten roken om de een of andere transcendente werkelijkheid eerbied te betonen of zoiets. Ik vrees dat het ze daarvoor aan verbeeldingskracht ontbreekt. Labels: Religie , roken.
Anticipating the anniversaries, Professor Richard Dawkins is presenting a series on Channel 4. These are welcome ventures. On the evidence of its first episode, Professor Dawkins's exposition of Darwinism will be an important public resource. Darwin founded a branch of learning that has remarkable explanatory power and also grandeur. That the mechanism of evolution is natural selection is one of the great discoveries of science, with implications far beyond evolutionary biology.
As Ernst Mayr, the biologist, wrote: "No educated person any longer questions the validity of the so-called theory of evolution, which we now know to be a simple fact. We customarily think of objectors to Darwinism as Protestant fundamentalists. There is in fact a worrying trend for Muslim children to be taught the myths of creation, and the pseudoscience of "intelligent design", as an explanation of the origins of life.
Myths have beauty and narrative power. But their place is in art and literature, not science. The ideas of Darwin are also a venture of beauty and the imagination. And they have the merit of being confirmed by mountains of empirical data. Darwin's modern expositors have a difficult task but a noble calling. They merit an enthusiastic hearing and gratitude. Labels: evolutie , Religie , wetenschap.
German hackers have constructed a route around the great firewall of China. The Chaos Computer Club said its technology will help athletes and journalists travelling to Beijing for the Olympic Games to circumvent censorship. These "Freedom Sticks", regular USB drives with pre-installed copies of the TorBrowser and Torprojects software, will only be available during the two-week period of the games. Tho' much is taken, much abides; and tho' We are not now that strength which in the old days Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are; One equal-temper of heroic hearts, Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.
If some sneer at such sentiments as religion, then let us make the most of it. This time, let us get it right. Anne Applebaum, who embaressed herself last week by writing a screed against space exploration, proves herself a glutton for punishment by this week whining about the mail she got.
Although I've grown used to this phenomenon, I was nevertheless completely unprepared for the passions sparked by a column I wrote last week ["Mission to Nowhere," Jan. I meant to point out, in a mild sort of way, that human space travel might not be absolutely necessary, that it might cost more money than we can afford at the moment, that robots do most of the work better, and that the notion of humans living on Mars might be pretty far-fetched.
Write something controversial, even offensive, moi? In fact, the e-mail onslaught ran about in my favor. Many of the positive missives came from scientists, even ex-NASA scientists, and ran along the lines of "thank God someone has said the emperor has no clothes. Of course, Applebaum does not reveal who these people are. But the negative ones were remarkable both for the level of anger and for the fact that most contained no rational arguments whatsoever. Sort of like Applebaum's original article. In any case, I'd love to review that e-mail. Maybe Applebaum's definition of "no rational arguments" is really "arguments I don't understand.
Then she proves her ignorence of history. The Apollo missions were halted because there wasn't anything to do on the moon and the public grew bored. This is a canard often put forth by the space haters, as Stanley Kurtz calls them. Actually what truncated Apollo was an additude by political elites at the time that "all that money" would be better spent on social programs. The space shuttle, as a Brookings Institution budgetary study reports this week, was conceived as a cheap way of sending humans on as many as 60 missions a year.
The cost and complexity of keeping people on board alive quickly led to a radical downscaling of the program to an annual average of five missions, and even those had limited scientific capability. And until the Challenger crash -- let's be honest here -- the public had lost interest in the space shuttle as well. The space shuttle was compromised by politics from the beginning.
It was built for half of the development money NASA requested, was envisioned to satisfy all the launch requirements of the United States impossible for any single vehicle to achieve , and was operated by a government agency. Of course it was expensive and unreliable. But there is no law of nature that suggests that space travel should be expensive and unreliable. So's walking down the street. Then perhaps Ms. Applebaum should learn a little bit about the subjects she choses to write about and try to be a little less condescending. Homer Hickam, one of my favorite authors, weighs in about the new Bush space initiative.
He is favorable, as one might expect, but he makes a crucial mistake: Let's be clear. Space is a nasty and cruel place for human beings. The analogy that going into space is like Columbus sailing off to discover the New World followed by hordes of immigrants is ludicrous. The moon isn't the Bahamas and Mars isn't New England. Antarctica is the better analogy. The world has been mucking around down there for over a century but I don't see too many towns sprouting up on the ice.
Yet what's happening there is productive. The scientists and engineers who have journeyed to that far-away place are there to try to figure out some things, such as how the Earth works. Of course the Bahamas and New England were "nasty and cruel" places four hundred or so years ago when the first European settlers arrived. But people were able to settle and prosper there nevertheless, even though many died in the process. That's why we used to refer to, in the days before political correctness, "taming the frontier.
One doesn't get too many settlers if they can't make a living where they propose to settle. If we can avoid turning the Moon and Mars into science reserves, then I suspect that the economic opportunities at those places will be sufficient to attract settlers. Paul O'Neil is already back peddling. But of course he is. Rand Simberg is disdainful of Stanley Kurtz's analysis as being insufficiently nuanced. Stanley Kurtz muses briefly about the military implications of the new push beyond LEO.
He agrees with your humble servant that China is the new rival in a new space race. Glenn Reynolds sees the analogy of the opening of the American West to proposals to do the same with the high frontier of space. It starts, it seems, with the Bush proposal being the equivilent of Lewis and Clark. Monday, January 12, Howard Dean's proposal to repeal the Bush tax cut and then cut payroll taxes is a net tax cut for the rich and a tax increase for everyone else.
Brendan Miniter agrees with your humble servant that sending America back to the Moon and on to Mars is a political winner for President Bush. Further, Mr. Bush's space initiative offers a positive vision at a time when his Democratic rivals are immersed in petty political squabbles. What's more, the initiative has allowed the president to seize the mantle of John F. Kennedy by embracing a visionary project. The Democrats look small-minded when they take the line that space missions are too expensive in this era of budget deficits.
That's got to hurt for the party of big government. International participation in the Bush space exploration plan will likely be structured differently than the space station. I also suspect that the players will be different. Bush and lose. Via Chris Hall. The first poll about space taken after the announcement of the Bush initiative has some interesting results.
The problem is that the choice doesn't exist. The United States is already spending hundreds of billions of dollars a year on education, health, and so on and that is not going away just because people are going to the Moon and Mars. Nevertheless, I think this is tha mantra that will be taken up by opponents like Howard Dean. Stanley Kurtz examines those of us who believe that in space resides the future of the human race he directly quotes both Rand Simberg and your humble servant and those like the hapless Anne Applebaum who find the whole idea tedious.
Kurtz declares himself to be in the middle where he suggests most of the country is. I think some of his conclusions are wrong. If the Moon and Mars are "like Mount Everest" it is only because we have been treating those places like it. With the new Bush policy, that may be be about to change.
Jeff Foust has an interesting rundown on the Democrat candidates' reaction to the Bush space policy initiative. Cutting through the rhetoric, it seems to me that the reaction except possibly the one from Wesley Clark is, "NO! Howard Dean squirmed last night, as only a guilty white liberal could, as Al Sharpton inflicted a good, old fashioned mau mauing upon him. Sunday, January 11, It seems I'm not the only one who finds that the Dean Campaign strongly resembles a cult.
The Chicago Tribune, favorably disposed toward the idea of exploration beyond LEO, has a fun thought: What better way to unlock mysteries than to do it in person? There may be more dream than reality in what Bush wants to do. One official said an astronaut trip to Mars wouldn't take place for at least a decade.
Come to think of it, though, Bush will be out of the White House by then, whether or not he wins a second term. Would it be a surprise if he's thinking about a next job that requires extensive travel? Well, he has flown high performance jets and is likely to be a healthy man in his late sixties. What a cap to a brillient career it would make. Howard Dean likes to boast about his nearly six hundred thousand internet supporters. But President Bush has compiled an E-Mail list of six million supporters. Saturday, January 10, I am convinced that they are doing this for sound, public policy reasons.
But no White House undertakes a major new initiative without a full awareness of the political consequences if it is comprised of smart people. And the people of the Bush White House are some of the smartest in the history of the Republic. For starters, despite some grumbling one sees in the media, the initiative will pass the Congress.
All indications are that, unlike Bush 41, the Bush 43 White House has done its due diligence, checking with the Congress, NASA, and certain select others to ascertain what is feasible. My prediction is that the new initiative will be rammed through the House by a comfortable margin. It may take some deal making and sausage making to get it through the Senate intact, but it will pass there as well.
Of course this year is an election year. Howard Dean or Wesley Clark will have to explain to people why they are against an initiative that will not only expand the opportunities for science and commerce beyond the heavens, but will stimulate economic growth and job creation in certain states like California, Texas, and Florida. I suspect they will have great difficulty in doing so and will wind up losing votes. There are two objections to the initiative that quickly fall apart on close examination and are contradictory as well. First, say the naysayers, we cannot embark on a program of space exploration while there is a deficit.
Leaving aside the fact that a twenty billion dollar a year NASA by and likely more in the next decade is not exactly a budget buster, complaining about the deficit has never been a political winner in the United States. Second, say the naysayers, we need to spend the money on other things, most likely social programs. That argument was potent enough to truncate the Apollo Program in the early s. It is not very potent today. Americans have had thirty years of failure in social programs to come to the realization that spending hundreds of billions on the poor and the oppressed do not necessarily translate to actually helping the poor and the oppressed.
Of course, one cannot defund the space program to lower the deficit and fund social programs. So once again, President George W. Bush, whom his enemies persist in thinking the fool, has managed to outmaneuver his enemies and at the same time strengthen the health and vigor of the country he was elected to lead. Machiavelli would be very proud. Tom James muses about the commercial possibilities inherent in going back to the Moon and on to Mars. Friday, January 09, Howard Dean explains why he is consorting with a bunch of extremists in Iowa.
Frank Sietzen and Keith Cowling provide more details on the Bush space initiative. Apparently human and robot operations will be integrated. It likely won't, since the robots uber alles crowd is motivated partly by religion and partly by politics. Chris Hall has some good comments about the new Bush space initiative, along with a myriad of links to others' comments.
Adam Keiper has some much needed advice for the implementation of the Bush space policy. Thursday, January 08, It has been confirmed. And perhaps, at long last, the new Age of Discovery shall begin. If they pull this off as advertised, I propose that we name the first lunar settlement Georgetown. More on the upcoming announcement. Sounds like a good opportunity for privitization to me. Addendum: Rand Simberg's reaction to the Bush proposal, in advance of certain details, is sadly and predictably summed up in one word: "NO!
David Grinspoon seems to be in favor of colonizing Mars. But only if it is done is the sensitive, politically correct, multilateral way. It must not be done by Americans alone, or even in the dominate role, because that might smack of nasty things like "manifest destiny. With the Spirit Mars rover triumphant, speculation abounds about the timing and nature of the new Bush space policy. There seems to be gathering consensus, though, that the historic moment has finally arrived to send people beyond Low Earth Orbit. Bob Zubrin has a conversation about, oddly enough, Mars.
Wednesday, January 07, With the redistricting fight all but over, Texas Republicans prepare to pick up seats in the US House. Even if Dean or some other Dem were to luck their way into the Oval Office, their agenda is essentially DOA in the Republican Congress sure to exist for the next fifteen or so years. Bob Zubrin, of all people, appears to have written a splendid satire about the Israeli-Arab conflict. Anne Applebaum of the Washington Post manages to embaress herself with a silly screed against space exploration.
They look like -- well, they look like pictures of a lifeless, distant planet. They show blank, empty landscapes. They show craters and boulders. They show red sand. Death Valley, the most desolate of American deserts, at least contains strange cacti, vicious scorpions, the odd oasis. Mars has far less than that. Not only does the planet have no life, it has no air, no water, no warmth. The temperature on the Martian surface hardly rises much above zero degrees Fahrenheit, and can drop several hundred degrees below that.
Sounds a lot like that desolate desert Senator Daniel Webster sneered at about a century and a half ago. You know, the one that became California and the American southwest. Applebaum seems unaware of the human capacity to make such places not only livable, but comfortable. But I suspect she would not understand the concept of terraforming. Mars, as a certain pop star once put it, isn't the kind of place where you'd want to raise your kids. Speak for yourself. I wonder if a Martian settlement, by its nature, would have crime, drugs, or bad schools.
Nor is it the kind of place anybody is ever going to visit, as some of the NASA scientists know perfectly well. If the average person on Earth absorbs about millirems of radiation every year, an astronaut traveling to Mars would absorb about , millirems of a particularly virulent form of radiation that would probably destroy every cell in his body. An exaguration, as Bob Zubrin has pointed out, and is no doubt preparing to do so again. Also, one might say, part of the problem with the way we approach space exploration at the moment.
No, the public does not understand that. And no, not all scientists, or all politicians, are trying terribly hard to explain it either. Too often, rational descriptions of the inhuman, even anti-human living conditions in space give way to public hints that more manned space travel is just around the corner, that a manned Mars mission is next, that there is some grand philosophical reason to keep sending human beings away from the only planet where human life is possible.
One actual "Star Trek" actor, Robert Picardo, the ship's holographic doctor, enthused this week that "we really should have a timetable to send a man to Mars.officegoodlucks.com/order/53/1767-aplicacion-para-rastrear.php
Transition to the Roman Empire
Mars should be part of our travel plans. Our journey into space will go on. But why should it go on? Or at least why should the human travel part of it go on? Crowded out of the news this week was the small fact that the troubled international space station, which is itself accessible only by the troubled space shuttle, has sprung a leak. Also somehow played down is the fact that the search for "life" on Mars -- proof, as the enthusiasts have it, that we are "not alone" in the universe -- is not a search for sentient beings but rather a search for evidence that billions of years ago there might possibly have been a few microbes.
It's hard to see how that sort of information is going to heal our cosmic loneliness, let alone lead to the construction of condo units on Mars. Having rejected "grand, philosophical reasons", Applebaum rejects the good science reasons. None of which is to say that it isn't interesting or important for NASA to send robotic probes to other planets. It's interesting in the way that the exploration of the bottom of the Pacific Ocean is interesting, or important in the way that the study of obscure dead languages is important. Like space exploration, these are inspiring human pursuits.
Like space exploration, they nevertheless have very few practical applications. But space exploration isn't treated the way other purely academic pursuits are treated. For one, the scientists doing it have perverse incentives. Their most dangerous missions -- the ones involving human beings -- produce the fewest research results, yet receive the most attention, applause and funding. Their most productive missions -- the ones involving robots -- inspire interest largely because the public illogically believes they will lead to more manned space travel. Now we get to the obligatory "robots uber alles" blather.
Of course Applebaum seems bored even by that sort of thing too and therefore assumes that anyone who is not must be stupid. Worse, there is always the risk that yet another politician will seize on the idea of "sending a man to Mars," or "building a permanent manned station on the moon" as a way of sounding far-sighted or futuristic or even patriotic. Nope, mustn't be any of those things. Those are bad things to be.
The Chinese are embarking on their own manned space program, since sending a man to the moon is de rigueur for would-be superpowers. The result, inevitably, will be billions of misspent dollars, more lethal crashes -- and a lot more misguided rhetoric about the "inspiration of discovery," as if discoveries can only be made with human hands. Of course as someone once pointed out, there is no such thing really as "unmanned space exploration.
As anyone who is involved in such things know, eventually you have to get the men out from behind their computer consoles and at the point of discovery, as it were, to fully understand what is being discovered. And, of course, robots make very poor settlers or even tourists. Too bad Applebaum is too arrogant to understand this. Addendum: Rand Simberg gives Applebaum the back of his hand as well. Addendum: So does Chris Hall.
Tuesday, January 06, An assessment of the military implications of China's manned space program that should serve as a sobering wakeup call for those folks who think that the flight of Shenzhou V was a stunt with no meaning beyong prestige. The sad but funny controversy over Congressional redistricting in Texas, that featured two instances of Democrat lawmakers fleeing the state, has reached its conclusion. The Republicans are entirely triumphant and it looks like that the Democrats in Texas are headed for permenent minority status. Private sector work related to a return to the Moon proceeds apace.
If this story in the tabloid Daily Mirror is true and Princess Diana was indeed afraid that Prince Charles wanted to do away with her, then it would only be in a long tradition of British royals offing one another. William II was probably murdered by his brother, Henry I. Henry VIII sent two of his queens to the block. Just imagine Jimmy Carter being transported to Middle Earth and trying to broker a peace agreement between Gondor and Mordor while inveighing against racism against Orcs. Monday, January 05, The Spirit Mars Rover, and her sister Opportunity, offer a challenge.
Those successes demonstrate that despite the manned space program's current doldrums, there are plenty of individuals involved with NASA who are eager and able to rise to the challenges of the final frontier. However, summoning that spirit requires a clear vision and a specific plan. When President Bush gives his State of the Union address, Spirit will still be exploring Mars — it is likely to have been joined by its sister craft Opportunity. The names of both craft epitomize the current state of NASA's manned program. The spirit exists to send men to the moon or to Mars.
The opportunity awaits. All that is needed is the vision and the plan. There was a Dean for America campaign rally in New Hampshire recently that seemed to me to more resemble a revival meeting for a cult. And not a nice one either. The Cult of Dean reminds me of those groups that end up in a compound somewhere surrounded by the FBI and the ATF or getting ready to drink the koolaid to go meet the mother ship. Taylor Dinnerman offers an analysis of the state of political play for things space. I think he arrives at about the right conclusions for the wrong reasons.
Therefore if President Bush proposes something more modest, say a lunar base, then the President can claim to be more responsible than Dean. The problem is that Dinnerman forgets Dean's capacity for duplicity and flip flopping. And it came from both of them. For example, in the transition, Brent was the one that kind of put forward the notion that we really need to take some bold initiatives to try and get the Soviet troops out of Eastern Europe. But it was also the President, particularly as the administration went along, who would be saying, We have to take an initiative to get out in front of this.
The world has changed and we have to get out in front of these events and lead and here are some things that I want to do. On all of the major initiatives of the Bush administration that had anything to do with arms control or reducing forces or changing deployment patterns or things like that, all of those initiatives were sparked by either Bush or Brent and it was always the two of them pushing the rest of the administration, pushing Cheney and pushing Baker in particular. Bush and Scowcroft on all of these issues were way out in front of the rest of the administration.
And often Cheney and Baker would resist these moves. A good example was the second round of reductions in Europe where in one meeting Powell and Cheney were adamantly opposed and believed that NATO North Atlantic Treaty Organization would absolutely have a collective stroke if we proposed something and two weeks later came back from a trip to Europe and said the Europeans are waiting for this.
But it was always on these broader, long range initiatives, these strategic moves, that was the product for the most part of a dialogue between Brent and the President, usually in private. But it also had its down sides. They sit there and talk and they come up with a notion about the new world order. They took it in sort of good grace. But they both played a key role—. One other question along this line. Different Presidents have had different tolerances for conflict among their highest level advisors, and different Presidents have done different jobs encouraging discussion while maintaining at least civility and some degree of compatibility among participants.
Bush welcomed differences of view. One of the reasons that the gang of eight became so important, not just in the Gulf War but more broadly, dealing with all of the things that were going on, was that it was a small enough group that he could get differences of view out on the table and not worry about leaks. And that was the discipline of the Bush administration that that happened. Sometimes Cheney won, sometimes Baker won, sometimes Scowcroft won. Sometimes they all lost.
But there was a lot of debate and dialogue. And Powell. Very key player in a lot of this. As I say, there were very few NSC meetings. Generally the meetings were in the Oval Office. It was a meeting in January. I think it was before the war started, just before the war started, and we ended up having to open up all of the doors to the Oval Office to the outside to let the smoke out. First we were choking, then we were freezing. It was not a good way to make policy. How did that come about? Was that because of the people chosen? Was it because President Bush had known them for years? Was it something about General Scowcroft that made all this stuff work as well as it did?
I think it was all of those things. It was, first of all, I think, very important that almost everybody in the inner circle in the administration had known each other for a long time. I mean, it is kind of common knowledge at this point, Cheney had been deputy White House chief of staff under Ford when Bush was DCI and Scowcroft was national security advisor.
Baker had been over at Commerce. They just all had these, we all had these relationships. I had known Cheney for a long time when he was on the intelligence committee.
I had not known Sununu. None of us really knew Sununu. So there was just a long history that we all had, and we all had a lot of experience in government. Other than Sununu really. This was a very experienced group of people. Everybody had a great sense of humor. I mean, there we are, with a great danger of the coalition shattering if Israel retaliates. But it was this ease with one another, I think it was the confidence that nobody was going to leak on each other, that there was no backstabbing.
I think that a big part of it was that everybody knew that was the way Bush wanted it. If President Carter had wanted to do something about the relationship between Vance and Brzezinski, all it would have taken would have been one meeting. So he let that go on because he saw a purpose to it. Would you just describe what the Deputies Committee was and your role in it and we can go from there? It is what immediately told me within a few weeks of the arrival of the Clinton administration that I would never have lasted had I chosen to try, because the first time I sat through one of those four hour, free wheeling seminars, that would have been the last.
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I believe that, Brent and I wanted to clear away a lot of the clutter that had grown up in the interagency forums in the Reagan administration and have a cleaner process but also have a Deputies Committee that in fact could really move the policy ball down the field efficiently and effectively. We knew that that required, first of all, that real deputies show up.
In the past, most of the representatives at the table had been sort of third and fourth level people, particularly from State and Defense. But we had a problem with Defense and State. I think the first deputy was Don Atwood. He wanted Bob Kimmitt to attend. I think he wanted his man in the room. He also, I think, saw Eagleburger as having a different role in the department and being more focused on managing the department than spending all of his time in meetings at the White House. And he also thought that Kimmitt, given his role as undersecretary for political affairs, would be able to give the direction necessary in the department for things to be carried out.
We had the same problem with Cheney. In the case of Defense, Cheney actually made a much more sensible argument, I mean a rational argument of why Atwood should not be the guy. So Cheney wanted Paul Wolfowitz. And we will so inform the President. And, there were a couple of things that were very important. First of all, we never presumed to make a decision. We never presumed that we were more important than we were.
The principals always knew that they had the job, not us. We might do some tactical things, but anything of any consequence went to the principals and they were informed of that, so they knew all the time what we were doing, what our options were, what we were looking at and so on. And I think that the second factor was that we did keep them very well informed of what we were doing, and the fact was, as I have suggested earlier, before I ever went in the room, Brent and I, at a minimum, Brent and I had talked about what the meeting was about, where we thought we ought to come out. The other reason that I think it worked was that we kept the interest and the engagement of all of the members of the Deputies Committee.
I think that in two and a half years, I could count on one hand the number of meetings that I let run more than an hour. Everything was done in an hour. I always concluded the meeting with a conclusion. I would summarize where the debate was, what the differences were, what our recommendation was, what the opposition view was if there was a different point of view.
My view was to use the Deputies Committee not only to devise policy options and to make recommendations on policy, but to cut away all the extraneous bull shit and so we had a sharp—if we had a difference of view, it was sharply defined and it was on the critical issue. So I think all of those things contributed to the success of the Deputies Committee.
What became a joke among us was that more and more parts of the government began wanting to have their issues brought to the Deputies Committee because it was a place they could get a prompt decision. It got to the point where we had to be very careful about our agenda and keep it focused, because there were so many parts of the government that wanted to have their moment in the situation room.
Well, they were issue driven and event driven, but anybody, in essence, could call for a Deputies Committee meeting. In other words, any one of the deputies could call for a meeting if they thought it was necessary. And often the events would force the Deputies Committee. Because all of these people became Talmudic. Medieval metaphysicians had nothing on arms controls experts for how many angels could dance on the head of a pin. And I would just get so frustrated. I would bet of the handful of meetings that ran over an hour, every one of them was on one of those two subjects. I would absolutely lose my cool on tech transfer.
Because they would come in, Commerce and State and Defense would have this huge fight over whether some piece of machinery should be on the list or something. This is a policy making group. And I would send them all away. Because I tried to keep it focused on what we knew we could do and what we could handle. It was a little reversal of roles there. Did these meetings take place at a typical time of day? Did all the deputies know to keep this hour clear during the day?
No, they took place at all different times of the day. And more often than not, mid to late morning and early to mid afternoon, but they would basically—and one of the keys, and really the decision by Baker and Cheney to send Wolfowitz and Kimmitt was inspired in a way because the Deputies Committee became, in many respects, one of the primary responsibilities of the job for Kimmitt and for Wolfowitz, so they would just clear their calendar to come to these meetings.
Everything else really was secondary. There were really very few, very few substitutions. Very rarely would somebody not be able to come. Well, it only happened once, when the Iraqis invaded Kuwait. She said, The Iraqis have invaded Kuwait. I said, No shit? So I was headed home the next day anyway so I call Scowcroft and I said, Do you want me to get on a plane this afternoon? Let me say one other thing about the Deputies Committee. I think one of the main reasons why the Deputies Committee worked as well as it did was the unique chemistry among the individuals.
It was a rare congruence of people who had their egos under control, people who had great sense of humor, highly developed sense of the absurd, who had a lot of experience in government and who respected each other. One of the great side benefits of the Deputies Committee, as they told me, was that it created relationships among the deputies that allowed them to solve a lot of bureaucratic problems bilaterally, outside of the Deputies Committee. That had not happened before. They developed a relationship that actually spilled over outside the Deputies Committee in a way that was very productive.
Well, not a lot actually as I recall. Occasionally there would be a policy paper, an options paper to look at. We more often directed the preparation of papers than spent a lot of time on them. We directed the preparation of a lot of interagency papers on policy options and things like that. Then we would meet and go over those papers. But I was not, I wanted to focus—my memory is a little vague on this—but one of the dangers of meeting on a paper is that you get bogged down in people wanting to change happy to glad.
Bob might have a criticism or a suggestion or something and I would say, Does everybody agree with that? But I would try to focus on the substance of the paper rather than the wording of the paper. Because I wanted to focus on the substance and make sure we had the options right. And we looked at three options: one was destroying the Republican Guard, the second was throwing Saddam out of Kuwait, and the third was bringing about a change of regime in Baghdad. Well, we agreed on the first two in about ten minutes and we spent two weeks debating the third one.
We were debating among ourselves: Is this a realizable objective? How do you actually make that happen? It sounds great but how do you make it happen? Do you have to occupy Iraq to get it? We had all just gone through the experience in Panama of not being able to find Noriega, eight or nine months before, and we had a hell of a lot more information and a hell of a lot more presence in Panama than we were going to have in Iraq. To what degree are we likely to shatter the coalition if we try to bring about a change in regime?
And so on and so forth. So we ended up recommending against the inclusion of that as a war aim. And the President actually signed off on the war aims—so we knew going in what our objectives were going to be. Now, what role did you play in managing that? Well, the virtue of the NSC staff is that it is very small. I mean, there is very little bureaucratic stuff, administrative stuff, that you have to put up with.
Towards, about the last year, we hired one of these people who was kind of high maintenance. He was a good guy and a smart guy and we hired him on Africa. I think his name was David Miller. And Miller was an activist.
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He wanted to do a lot of things and he wanted to run a lot of things. He was very close to Scowcroft. He and Brent were very close friends. I spent more time keeping him corralled then I spent on the entire rest of the staff. And you never have to testify in front of Congress. The administrative things were really very, very modest. Just for the sake of future historians, can you remember a bad idea that this gentleman came up with that you had to get rid of? He always had these great ideas for snatching terrorists overseas.
You know, kidnapping them and bringing them back to the United States. So I just, in principle had a problem with that and he was constantly trying to come up with one of these schemes. Brent usually was very phlegmatic about things like that. He kind of counted on me to make sure that nothing ever happened. Well, it is very idiosyncratic and determined by Presidents. When you have a highly structured process like existed under President Eisenhower, I mean, in some ways, the process became more important than the substance I think in some of those instances. But the key is, both with the Deputies Committee and the principals around the President, one more time, comes back to the chemistry of the individuals.
One of the reasons we had all these guys continually come to the meetings was that they felt it was a productive use of their time, that they got something out of it, their department got something out of it, and the process worked. Was it understood that you would report the conclusions of the meeting, of the Deputies Committee meeting to Scowcroft and the President? And the way it would work, like I say, is that everybody would go home, go back to their home agencies and report to their principals.
So the principals always knew, and then I would usually right after the meeting go tell Brent what had happened. That kind of thing gets around. You described this institution as if it was always the same throughout the period that you were Deputy National Security Advisor, but did the Deputies Committee evolve at all?
Was it always as important as you've made it out? Pretty much. On the policy side pretty much from the beginning. Where it evolved really was in October of , after the failed Panama coup. There was a lot of grumbling among the principals that our crisis management had been found wanting and the President explicitly gave responsibility to the Deputies Committee for crisis management at that point.
From that moment on, that was a role that was new and it evolved. That was an arena where, for the first time, we started using the closed circuit television connections among the agencies that had been put in by the Reagan administration. Again, we felt, we all felt strongly about leaks and there were virtually no leaks out of Deputies Committee either during the Bush administration. I also felt that face-to-face give and take was more important for policy discussions.
But the closed circuit TV is great for crisis management, because it allows each representative, the representative of each agency in effect to be right next to his information pipeline. So the closed circuit television is a big advantage in crisis management. But I think it really helped.
Generally the NSC staff member kept the notes. The NSC staffer was responsible for taking the notes. I think it is a mistake from a command and control—. I think it is a great convenience for people at lower levels to communicate and so on but I think that for decision makers it is a bad idea. You arrive and the Bush administration announced a policy review on Russia and this policy review seems to take somewhere between three and four months.
Why did it take so long? What were the debates at the time. Whey did it take so long? I think that the biggest problem, as the staff kept looking at the paper, as it evolved, there was sort of no there-there. Below the Deputies Committee level, they kept pushing the bureaucracy to do more and I think it was just in an effort to try and get some substance into the thing, that made it take so long. Just trying to see if there was any creativity out there in the bureaucracy. I know, as I recall, Scowcroft and I kept asking, Where is it? Soon, soon.
Well, I think, it really goes back to the reason for the studies in the first place. And that was, I think both Brent and I believed, and I think maybe the President believed, that the Reagan administration had gotten out ahead of itself in the last six or eight months of in dealing with the Soviet Union, that their aspirations had outrun reality and had outrun the capacity of the government to absorb and deal with what they were trying to do. It was more on the strategic side than the conventional side.
So I think the reviews derived from several motivations. One was what we thought was an entirely appropriate opportunity to just look at everything freshly and see where we were giving new people time in the government to catch up and come up to speed on what had happened and what the realities were around the world in these areas, especially in the Soviet Union, Eastern Europe, Western Europe. We knew that there were a lot of dramatic events on the horizon, they were already on the way. The round table talks had already started in Poland in January, and so the notion was, I think I used the line in my book, the triumph of hope over experience that maybe there were some interesting ideas out there in the bureaucracy that we could use.
There was never any idea that we would depart in any significant way in terms of going backward, in terms of the relationship with the Soviet Union. I think that partly was part of this process as well. We had this whole thing going on two tracks. One, we had this huge policy leviathan going on under the auspices of the Deputies Committee and second, at the same time we had going on, under the auspices of the Deputies Committee, and also among the principals, beginning very early on, the need to sit down and come up with some very bold new approaches in terms of dealing with the changes in Europe and in the Soviet Union and in preparation for the NATO summit.
But they were both strategic in the sense that they were both being driven by very large events and the need to develop a strategy on how to cope with them. In other words, the failures of implementation of the reforms, the failures and the collapsing of parts of the economy. The same things was true on the military side. Other than in their foreign engagements, such as in Afghanistan where there were bold moves and they were implemented, my view as an agency guy, as a CIA guy, were always shaped by the fact that for me, actions in this realm, in the international realm, always spoke louder than words and especially when dealing with governments like that of the Soviet Union, and particularly irreversible actions.
If this is carried out, it truly will change the character of the Soviet military presence in Europe. So we were waiting to see if he would do if he said what he would do. And it was when we began to see them moving in that direction that it then became clear that some commensurate response was required by the United States to get out in front of this. All of the governments in the west and all of the press—a lot of the pressure that was being put on Bush to do something bold, was in considerable response to that December speech by Gorbachev.
But we were waiting to see if the rhetoric would be matched by the actions. When it began to be matched by the actions, early on, long before our Soviet national security review came out, it was clear that we needed to seize the initiative. Did you have any intelligence that would lead you to believe in that period that the Soviet military would oppose the rhetoric of the General Secretary, or was the issue for you whether Gorbachev meant what he was saying or not?
I think that it was more we had seen too many instances of Gorbachev issuing dramatic directions and nothing happening. I mean, this was part of the problem with a lot of his reforms. He would announce it, particularly on the economic side, but also some on the political side, and then nothing would happen.
So there were a lot of considerations associated with that, but it had more to do, I think, with not overt opposition, political opposition from the military, but whether they would in essence just try to wait him out. You mentioned earlier that General Scowcroft had an idea for one way of solving this policy problem which was to propose the withdrawal of American and Soviet forces from Eastern Europe. Why, did he want to do that or was that a way of prodding the system forward?
Do you remember? No, I think he wanted to do that. I think he saw a real opportunity. I think he saw, by late fall, , it was apparent, at least in Poland, that the regimes were going to have to change in some respect in order to get cooperation to try to deal with their economic problems and that things would begin to become unraveled at that point. And I think that Brent really and truly believed there would be an opportunity to get the Soviets out.
He was willing to be far more bold than anybody else. Because that would then—it was a radical reaction and I think in both his book and some of the others, and in mine in fact, I think I said I thought Cheney was going to faint or have a stroke or something. Brent said Cheney was stunned or something when he Brent put this on the table, but the idea was, if you got the Soviet troops moving out of Eastern Europe, then the East Europeans would find a way to greater independence from the Soviet Union and that would then have an influence in the Soviet Union itself.
In your book and in other places, there are some wonderful words about your trip to Moscow. But I was wondering, in retrospect, what effect that visit in, I believe it is May of , had on you. Virtually none. It was pretty much as I expected it to be. Did that even though, particularly for Baker I believe, did that event push the process at all? I mean these meetings in May, for you and Eagleburger? I think our process was going forward independently of that, and under great pressure from the President.
A lot of pressure from the Europeans, a lot of pressure from the press. But that was not a new feeling on his part, it antedated the European pressure and the press pressure. But, it put a premium on moving ahead, getting something through the bureaucracy. What were your responsibilities with regard to press relations? I actually had relatively little contact with the press. On occasion I would do an interview but it was very rare. Because it is at this time that you put out that significant piece on the nature of reform in Russia. I vetted the speech with State and everyone else.
Oh, yeah, hell yes, I wrote it. Well, yeah, Shultz tried to get me fired. He was furious. He called me up on the telephone, read me the absolute riot act. The Under-Secretary for Political Affairs. Reagan listened and after Shultz left he turned to the two of them and said, What am I going to do? I agree with Gates.
So I survived it. So the other source of pressure, we talked about the press, the other source of pressure in the spring of were the Europeans and you and Eagleburger are sent out as—I think it was Margaret Thatcher who called you tweedle-dum and tweedle-dee. No, Bush did not want to spring a major new proposal on them and surprise them.
So our job was in fact to inform them what the proposal was going to be and to get their reactions to it before he gave the speech. So the letters that we brought from him to the leaders and then the briefing associated with it that we gave, was really their first exposure to exactly what Bush was going to propose.
They wanted to eliminate the Lance missile—. No, that came later. Things moved far enough so that when we could do something more a year later she was willing to swallow it. But there was considerable concern that several of the European leaders would have problems, including Mitterrand. So, both Mitterrand and Thatcher, from a political standpoint, welcomed the proposal but both were fairly nervous about it in terms of its military implications. Mitterrand much less so than Thatcher. But he was certainly not as enthusiastic as Kohl was. Kohl, I thought he was just going to—he was slathering at the idea of this proposal, and Andreotti liked it a lot.
But Thatcher was very skeptical and Mitterrand was a little uncomfortable. The Europeans were talking much tougher than they wanted to act. As long as you understand that, then you understand how to deal with the Europeans. You mentioned that of course, the White House sees all the time a collection of simultaneous crises. You had problems in China. Did the Deputies Committee in the month before Tiananmen discuss where reform was going in China and provide some warning that there might be a violent clash?
Then, in a way, we were just incredulous that Gorbachev went out and mingled with the crowd and that the Chinese A let him do it and B that he was insensitive enough to what was going on in China to do it. So I think there was a general appreciation of the likelihood of the Chinese cracking down. Then we began, of course, to see the movement of Chinese forces from around the country toward the capital and that made it pretty apparent that they were going to do something. Let me go back one step.
Did you have a sense that the demonstrations were coming in the first place? I think what surprised people, as much as anything, was that the Chinese government allowed things to go as far as they did in Tiananmen without breaking it up or stopping it when it was much smaller. The President knew James Lilly very well. They had known each other for some time. Do you recall that there was a separate channel for the President? I mean, was the President particularly interested in what Lilly was sending back from Beijing? When the violence erupted on the third and fourth of June, the CIA station chief was not in Beijing apparently.
So one has the impression therefore that this was a surprise. The one thing I remember, I was up in Kennebunkport with the President at the time and he was there for the Memorial Day weekend or some long weekend and I remember it was my first weekend at Kennebunkport with Bush and we had the death of the Ayatollah, Tiananmen Square, and a third thing happened that has never gotten any press play or any write up in the history books or anything else, a train in the Soviet Union carrying children to camp was going through a narrow pass parallel to a gas pipeline and the gas pipeline blew up and there were children killed on that train.
And because of all these other events that happened, it never got any publicity, but we were dealing with all three of these things at the same time, and a humanitarian thing on the Soviet side, could our burn specialists help and things like that. I called Brent and I said, What the hell is going on? There was a sense within the administration that the Chinese government might in fact back down. Were there discussions that took place as to what the American response then should be?
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For all the criticism of Bush for his inaction, he acted first and with, in most respects, the most severe measures of any of the governments around the world in terms of imposing the sanctions that we did on the Chinese. It got kind of lost in the congressional uproar over the thing. So I think there was a sense—again, I would have to go back and read the materials because my memory on this is really vague—of inevitability that there was going to have to be a crackdown or the Chinese were going to lose control.
And, so we had, we had already talked about some of the sanctions and that was one of the reasons why, I think he imposed the sanctions within 24 hours. So I think we probably had already prepared some contingency plans. The President considered himself an expert on China for obvious reasons. But he, you know, he was just on the phone with Brent and with Baker constantly on the whole thing. I think that Brent was probably having some meetings down in Washington. I think the term in the secondary literature, the name for this is Operation Yellowbird, a name invented by journalists, but the United States did assist these dissidents to come out, did it not?
And then made it seem as if France had done it, because many of them ended up in Paris. I believe there were press conferences. But that was a US operation, was it not? Almost certainly not. A lot of them were already in prison and beyond our reach. What was the discussion before the Scowcroft trip out to China? I think that was mostly handled by the three of them, including the toast writing.
I said, Have you got your toast prepared? And so the United States policy is now to do something to remove Noriega. I assume there must have been a Presidential finding at that point to remove him? What I remember about the situation is that the Agency lets us know that this major has come to them and asked for help in a coup attempt against—. And there was a great discussion about whether to help this major or not. I remember we got into a huge twist over the question of helping this major and the proscription against assassination.
There was a very strong feeling, I know I felt this way, I think Brent felt this way, and I think the Webster actually felt there was some risk along these lines as well, that if the major had any brains at all there was no way that Noriega would walk out of that room alive. And that, more than anything else, was one of the reasons why we decided not to help. We had no confidence in this major. The agency, as I recall, did not have any kind of a longstanding relationship with him.
I think he was a walk in, in effect, and there was a real concern that he was just going to shoot Noriega or somebody else would. So there was a general feeling on the part of the senior people in the government that we would not be a party to this coup attempt.
There was some discussion about the quality of the intelligence surrounding that attempt, etc. Do you feel the quality of what was coming in from the ground was useful? What was the quality of intelligence on the situation in Panama at that time, and these principals.
I would say that the quality of the tactical intelligence, meaning timely intelligence that was actionable, was poor. As it usually is, in very short run kind of things. We collected an incredible amount of intelligence on those guys and it was always about 24 hours out of date. It was never something that you could lay your hands on. What he was doing and his actual movements and where he was and so on, we were always hours, if not a day or two, behind. So, in terms of being able to act upon that intelligence, there was really nothing that we could use.
That implies also how quickly these things become stale. Do you feel that the windows of opportunity to assist in this coup vanished rather quickly because there was this quick staleness? Well, I think the view that most of us had was based on what the major had told the Agency, that this was a coup attempt that was almost certainly going to fail.
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