So avers the reliable Jim Gourley, and I agree with his harsh assessment of the celebrification of Special Ops: "Everything is out of the closet. People hardly knew anything about the OSS during WWII. These days the script to Zero Dark Thirty is finished before Osama's body is cold."
Time to move the SEALs out of California to someplace like Biloxi?
I had known that Enoch Powell, before becoming the most controversial politician in modern British history, was an intelligence officer in World War II (and a very good one, according to his boss) and a classicist before that.
But one thing I learned in London after a wine-fueled dinner at the old school bohemian Chelsea Arts Club ("dress code: none") was that Powell was one of the editors of a very good edition of Thucydides. I checked on Amazon and unfortunately it costs too damn much.
Bonus fact: The original version of the Beatles song "Get Back" had an allusion to Powell's "rivers of blood" speech (which itself was a reference to Virgil). It is not often that you can pack Paul McCartney, Enoch Powell, and Virgil into the same song. What a bag of cats.
I'm not even gonna get into Eric Clapton's 1976 endorsement of Powell.
While I am on the subject of what I did in London, can anyone name the one-time terrorist who is honored with a statue just west of the Houses of Parliament? Hint: She eventually became a member of the Conservative Party.
Gen. James Clapper's prediction that Qaddafi probably will prevail in Libya got all the headlines. Less noticed in the director of National Intelligence's appearance before the Senate Armed Services Committee yesterday (Thursday) was this weird exchange:
SEN. MANCHIN: [Joe Manchin, Democrat of West Virginia] ...Which country represents to you that has the intent to be our greatest adversary, who could do -- you know, has the capabilities -- I know you weren't going to it, but who has the intent?
GEN. CLAPPER: Probably China.
SEN. MANCHIN: China. So Donald Trump's right?
(Response off mic.)
SEN. MANCHIN (?): (Laughs.) If the question is, pick one nation-state that has the intent.
GEN. CLAPPER: No, I said -- well, I -- if we didn't -- we have a treaty with -- you know, new START treaty with the Russians. So I guess I would rank them a little lower because of that, and we don't have such a treaty with the Chinese.
SEN. LEVIN: [Carl Levin, Democrat of Michigan] I'm just as surprised by that answer as I was by your first answer. You're saying that China now has the intent to be a mortal adversary of the United States?
GEN. CLAPPER: Well, the question is who -- from my vantage, you know, who would -- from among the nation-states, who would pose potentially the greatest -- if I have to pick one country, which I'm loath to do because I'm more of a mind to consider their capabilities -- and both Russia and China potentially represent a mortal threat to the United States. I -
SEN. LEVIN: Would you -
GEN. CLAPPER: Now we're getting into gauging intent, which, you know, I really can't do. I don't think either country today has the intent to mortally attack us.
SEN. LEVIN: I just want to be real clear. By that measure, we represent the greatest potential threat to both China and Russia. By that measure.
GEN. CLAPPER: From a capability standpoint.
SEN. LEVIN: Which is the measure you're using.
GEN. CLAPPER: Yes, sir.
SEN. LEVIN: OK. By that measure, we represent the greatest intent -- the greatest threat, by that measure, to both China and Russia.
GEN. CLAPPER: And I don't think our intent is to be -- attack them.
This afternoon I'll be at the annual CNAS policy hoedown. We will decide, among other things, whether COIN is last year's flavor or simply the beginning of a new era of warefare, as for example Mexican drug cartels erode national security on our southwestern border.
If you couldn't get a ticket, or didn't want to pay the scalpers, you can watch the whole thing on this webcast. The opening act starts at 1:30.
I can't tell whether that is Nagl or Exum in the photo above, by the way.
And I don't mean Sarah Palin. Judith "WMD" Miller has an opinion piece in today's Los Angeles Times. No, I ain't linking to it.
I guess the leper colonies of Africa refused her application to volunteer.
ANDREW ROSS/AFP/Getty Images
Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military for the Washington Post from 2000 through 2008.