The U.S. and the Genocide in Rwanda 1994: Information, Intelligence and the U.S. Response

Ten Years On:

The Rwanda genocide took place ten years ago. George Washington University has released a new study, which includes access to newly declassified documents and previously unavailable insights. The study can be read here.

Its conclusions are mixed. The analysts were greatly impressed by the intelligence resources available to the Clinton Administration.

[C]onsiderable U.S. resources-diplomatic, intelligence and military-and sizable bureaucracies of the U.S. government-were trained on Rwanda. This system collected and analyzed information and sent it up to decision-makers so that all options could be properly considered and 'on the table'..... Despite Rwanda's low ranking in importance to U.S. interests, Clinton Administration officials had tremendous capacity to be informed--and were informed--about the slaughter there; as noted author Samantha Power writes "any failure to fully appreciate the genocide stemmed from political, moral, and imaginative weaknesses, not informational ones."
From the conclusion:
In sum, the routine-let alone crisis-performance of diplomats, intelligence officers and systems, and military and defense personnel yielded enough information for policy recommendations and decisions. That the Clinton Administration decided against intervention at any level was not for lack of knowledge of what was happening in Rwanda.
Why, then, did they choose not to act? Was it because they were "internationalists," and other countries had no interest in or will for intervention? The report does suggest this is part of the answer:
While some countries argued early for action, few actually ever brought any means to bear-the "lack of resources and political commitment" was "a failure by the United Nations system as a whole" as the Independent Inquiry on the UN noted. The U.S. did not encourage a UN response because it saw two potential outcomes: the authorization of a new UN force and a new mandate without the means to implement either; and worse, the very real possibility of the U.S. having to bail out a failed UN mission. For the recently-burned Clinton Administration, this looked like Somalia redux.
Finally, though, the blame falls on:
[T]he structure and personalities of U.S. decision-making during that late spring of 1994 when hundreds of thousands were killed as the U.S. and other nations stood by.
There are lessons here for the future. Intelligence is only part of the answer to any problem: "political, moral, and imaginative weakness" can undo even the best our Intelligence service careerists can provide. The Rwandan genocide is almost a mirror image of the Iraq invasion: the intelligence was spot on, and correctly interpreted and analyzed by the Administration. However, due to a lack of moral and political courage, as well as an inability to understand and use military force, the US (non)response allowed hundreds of thousands to die.

In Iraq, the intelligence was murky; the parts of the intelligence that were strongest were ignored by the Administration in favor of the parts that fit their own picture best; but their moral and political courage, and ability both to imagine a better future and the military means to bring it about, these things were unmatched in recent history. As a consequence, Rwanda ended in the worst genocide of recent decades; Iraq, though it is too soon to say it has ended, has emerged from war with the first chance at liberty and human freedom it has known.

There are those among you--Deuddersun, I recall, asked the question directly--who wonder how I can support George W. Bush in spite of his many mistakes and flaws. This is why.

KeepMedia | Esquire:Hired Guns

Life in the Mercenary Service:

Thanks to Doc Russia, I read this article from Esquire, entitled "Hired Guns."

The pay was good--up to almost $155,000 a year, most of it tax free, plus full expenses--but Iraq is a dangerous place to live. So dangerous that DynCorp also had to hire security contractors, many of them veterans of elite special-operations units in the U. S. military, to keep the cops from getting killed once they got there....

A moment later, we made our pit stop for guns. I was busy scribbling in my notebook when one of Kelly McCann's men, a former marine sniper named Shane Schmidt, walked over with an AK-47. Do you know how this works? he asked. I nodded. The week before, Kelly had shown me the basics on his firing range. (Designed by the Soviets to be effective in the hands of teenaged peasants, the Kalashnikov is not a complicated weapon.) Schmidt handed the gun to me. "Take care of it," he said. "If we get hit, don't panic. Collect your thoughts and shoot back."

He stepped back a foot and narrowed his eyes, sizing me up to see if I was the sort of person who might start pulling the trigger indiscriminately once trouble started. "Select your fire. You've got sixty rounds of Iraqi-made ammunition. That's it. Make each one count." I said I would, then racked a cartridge into the chamber, pushed the selector to safe, and got in the car.

It's not all guns and glory. Lots of contractors are back Stateside, where the taxes are outrageous and the guns are frequently banned by various levels of government. Still, there's work to be had if you've got the right skills. In addition to DynCorp, MPRI is a good opportunity if you're looking for this kind of work. There are some British outfits, too, including Sandline.

Tactical Information Operations

Tactical Information Operations:

Captain Daniel Morgan writes for Army Times on "lessons learned" in Iraq. He writes on everything, top to bottom, but the part that interests me most is how IO (Information Operations) play out at the company level.

Information operations are simple at the company level. IO has two purposes. First, you must distribute information to the people. Uninformed citizens in a country we just subjugated in war have the potential to demonstrate and possibly riot. You must inform them of your goals and actions. Second, IO involves not only passing out information, it requires the collection of information. The development of an informed populace and involvement of community leaders by a commander leads to information about hostile threats and benevolent projects.

The first step in CMO/IO [Civil-Military Operations / Information Operations] is to identify in priority areas to be funded for CMO. Simultaneously, commanders need situational understanding of the mindset of the sector. There are many TTPs that help in accomplishing this assessment. First, commanders need to determine who can help them. I broke my focal groups into business, education, political, and religious. Since we were the first forces into Mosul, Iraq, my soldiers and I had to get out into the streets and meet people. We developed a "list of influence" and began developing relationships.

On 13 September 2003, one of my platoons was ambushed, wounding three of my soldiers. The platoon was ambushed in a congested urban area with narrow alleys. After linking up with the platoon and conducting an aerial medical evacuation, a member of an Iraqi political party called me and said he saw the ambush and knew the attackers. The attackers were not home, but these men watched the houses of the attackers for 48 hours. They called me at 0200 to inform me they were home. The brigade commander gave us approval to conduct a cordon and search. We infiltrated the neighborhood, linked up with our "informants," and grabbed the attacker. This ambush cost the leg of one of my soldiers and through relationships we caught the culprit.

Leaders must understand the environment prior to committing blindly to some CMO plan. I had no true understanding of the mindset of the citizens in my sector. In addition, there were no performance measures of effectiveness to determine any success we were having in our efforts. Consequently, I developed a survey of attitudes and needs in Arabic that was common across all my sub-sectors. My soldiers hated this at first, but in the end we saw where we needed to be and what we needed to do. This situational understanding is vital to CMO/IO.

I imagine most bloggers think of IO as being propaganda and disinformation, played at the wide strategic level. It's that too, of course, but it is integrated into US military competency all the way to the ground.

Hat tip: Chapomatic.

Grim's Hall

Send the Texas Rangers!

The Sage of Knoxville has a post up excoriating MSNBC for a fairly pathetic mistake:

BUSH CAN'T GET A BREAK: Now he's being blamed for not invading Afghanistan in 1998! Here's the relevant passage from MSNBC:
The report revealed that in a previously undisclosed secret diplomatic mission, Saudi Arabia won a commitment from the Taliban to expel bin Laden in 1998. But a clash between the Taliban's leader, Mullah Mohammad Omar, and Saudi officials scuttled the arrangement, and Bush did not follow up.
Damn him -- governing Texas while Rome burned! Why didn't he send the Texas Rangers to finish off Bin Laden? ("One mullah, one Ranger!")
This seems like a good time to point out that I've been arguing for using The Texas Rangers in Afghanistan for quite a while. I think they're an excellent model for the challenges faced in that particular part of the world (see also this piece). Those articles were from August, but in the months since, the challenges haven't changed.

ParaPundit on Clarke

On Clarke:

ParaPundit has a good post up examining the Clarke claims. My own sense is that they're probably mostly fair. Certainly the impulse to stovepipe--that is, to hear only those parts of the intel picture that support the world view you brought to the table--is one of the biggest challenges in intelligence work. It takes years to get good at this, and an administration lasts only a short four, or eight on the outside. On this topic, I wrote elsewhere:

[T]he administration has several known intel sources, all of which are large corporate bodies of professional men who are devoted to improving their product.

Intel failures are nothing new (see Soviet Union, Unexpected Collapse of the), and in fact, they're part of the game. Still, when you've got several structures in competition (CIA/DIA, for example), with internal procedures to try and filter and improve information, you've got something a bit better than what Ijaz is drawing upon. It's still going to have some glowing failures, intel being intel.

I hope that the civilians in the Bush administration have been learning from their mistakes, of which there have been some several. I'm not sure the situation can be improved by introducing a new crowd of people with a similar ideological bent, who will have to relearn all those lessons about stovepiping... the very ones Clarke is complaining about. But of course, one never knows--it could be that Bush administrators don't learn, or that Kerry could put together a team that would be too wise to make those mistakes.

Human nature being what it is, I doubt either proposition is entirely true. Still, this kind of stovepiping will happen given the amateur nature of our leadership (a four- or even eight- year administration is just really getting good at things by the time it has to vacate office); as a consequence, the best we can do is try to pick people who will tend to stovepipe in the least harmful ways.

For myself, I'd rather have a president at this juncture whose instinct is to go for the throat when it isn't warranted, than one whose instinct is to hang back until a threat is proven beyond a doubt. Others may prefer the one who will insist on proof, and indeed, they may even be right. When the topic is terrorism, I suppose I am distracted by visions of what form that proof might take.
All that said, we as free citizens who love the Republic must be honest and admit that there have been some stiff intel failures. Clarke's claims may be a bit overblown, but they are probably accurate at base: some stovepiping probably did go on with Bush and his close advisors. We can hope they've learned, but like all nature, human nature: Naturam expellas furca, tamen usque recurret. That is, "You can drive nature out with a pitchfork, but she always comes back in." The only defense--and it is an especially poor one--is to try to make sure the people who are doing the stovepiping are bringing the right instincts to the table.


An American Soldier:

Welcome to new Milblog An American Soldier. It's apparently run by a US Army Drill Sergeant, which was my own father's profession once. It's an interesting site, although I am a bit shocked to learn that the Army has adopted Brazilian Jiu Jitsu as its close-combat form, and I wonder at the assertion that the Marines 'are not really a self-sustaining force'; but we'll let it go for now in brotherly friendship. If you do drop by, check out the short history of the Seventh Cavalry, which includes the following bit of poetics:

Let Bacchus' sons be not dismayed
But join with me, each jovial blade
Come, drink and sing and lend your aid
To help me with the chorus:

Instead of spa, we'll drink brown ale
And pay the reckoning on the nail;
No man for debt shall go to jail
From Garryowen in glory.

We'll beat the bailiffs out of fun,
We'll make the mayor and sheriffs run
We are the boys no man dares dun
If he regards a whole skin.

It'd be fun to know just how many of the great songs of America were originally bawdy drinking ballads to which we just set new words.

The Corner on National Review Online

Killing the Enemy v. Not Stirring Them Up:

Over at The Corner, Brit expatriates John Derbyshire (now a naturalized US citizen) and Andrew Stuttaford are having this conversation. I'm firmly in the "kill the enemy" camp. I realize that harsh acts of war do stir up the enemy and improve their recruitment--at least at first. Yet, as a son of the South, I also know that it's only Sherman's March that defeats. You have to keep up the pressure until the enemy does the worst he can do, and still breaks. That is the only road to victory.

Honorable persons in the other camp believe that victory is not necessary, and that peace can be had through negotiation. Well enough, if in fact it's true. For Israel facing Hamas--or for the West, facing Islamism--I'm not sure that it can be. The evidence points strongly in the other direction.

Sudanese Pharms:

Over at FreeSpeech there are several debates going on about Clarke and his credibility. One topic that keeps coming up is the destruction of the Sudanese Pharmecutical plant by cruise missile strike. After a few comments from the resident Canadian antiwarrior, I noted this:

This is, of course, why it's important to have a President or, at least, a SECDEF who understands the military's capabilities as they relate to intel issues. If they were sure this factory was producing chemical weapons for terrorists, the thing to do was to deploy a MEU(SOC) to take control of it, and have DIA sift through the records and equipment for intel and evidence. Then, if it's a real terrorist source, you get all kinds of useful information--and if it's an asprin factory, you still have an asprin factory.

Of course, there's a chance some Marines could be killed using this approach, unlike with the cruise missiles. But, on the other hand, there's much less chance of noncombatants being killed (as well as lowering the likelihood of people dying from absent medications), and protecting the lives of noncombatants is one of the moral duties when using military force. Marines are professionals, and they understand that duty.

Unfortunately, the politicians decided they'd rather kill some faceless Sudanese than risk front page headlines about dead American fighting men. Our intel on this topic is poorer as a result, and the anti-American legions have a talking point too.

I should reiterate that it isn't just understanding, but moral courage that is needed here. We've got the best fighting men in the world, and like everyone who is really good at something, they love what they do. They're willing to take risks to be sure it gets done right, and so the innocent don't suffer--the big lesson of the Iraq war was just what huge lengths our fighters go to in order to avoid harming the noncombatants. This is a confluence of the practical and the moral--but unhappily, no one with the courage or understanding to seize the moment was at the tiller.

Socialists & Terror:

Sovay points to the Spanish Socialist government's statements on terrorism, which is to be their "absolute priority," although Zapatero maintains that "We can't win against terrorism or rout it through wars, (which) are never an efficient way of eliminating or combatting groups of fanatics, radicals and criminals." Sovay notes approvingly that this approach "may not be as macho as the methods the Bush administration prefers[.]"

Meanwhile, Antoine Clarke at Samizdata reminds us of the methods used by the last Spanish Socialist government:

GAL was the name assumed by a anti-ETA terror group in the 1980s that entered France and murdered ETA members and supporters. I no longer have the details but there was a spate of terrorist attacks on Basques living in the Bordeaux area, as well as closer to the Spanish border.

Following the arrest of several GAL members it transpired that they were all either members of law-enforcement agencies and the armed forces, or recently had been. It later emerged that the money to finance GAL came from the Ministry of the Interior and was signed off ultimately by the Minister. Whilst the Prime Minister Felipe Gonzalez himself was never proven by documentary evidence to have sanctioned the GAL death squad, let me just say that if he ever wins a libel action on the issue, I will be amazed.

Two things are worth noting, firstly that both the French and Spanish governments were under Socialist control at the time, second that Spanish public opinion was firmly on the side of the death squads[.]

Mr. Clark finishes, "There is a strand of Western Socialist thought that takes the secular State seriously. I seriously doubt if there will be any safe-haven for Islamist terrorists in Spain for the forseeable future." If this is what Zapatero has in mind, I think this may be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

IMRA - Monday, March 22, 2004 Background: Marginal Cost Of Post-Yassin Attacks Zero?


I have considered this proposal, which I saw on Allah's blog, for a little while now. Considered coldly as an economic question, I can't see anything wrong with the logic.

There is every expectation that the killing today of Ahmed Yassin, head of
the Hamas terrorist organization, may lead for the various terrorist
organizations to make a maximum effort to carry out a "reprisal" attack or attacks.

With the killing of Yassin, Israel's decision makers find themselves in the curious situation that the marginal cost of killing more terrorist leaders in the coming days, at least in terms of terrorist response, is zero - and probably negative as the killing of additional terrorist leaders could disrupt terror operations.

Considered as a question of military science--the same. Unless the actions against terror groups bring actual state actors into the fray, escalation is not now possible. Which state actors would involve themselves in this fight? Syria? Lebanon? Both border Iraq, where the 101st Airborne and 1st Marines are currently stationed. Declaring yourself outright in support of Hamas against Israel might get you on the wrong side of the Bush doctrine--which is to say (and indeed, I find myself a bit shocked to say it) that the Middle East may, as a result of the Bush doctrine and the war in Iraq, enjoy more stability now than it has had in decades. The probability of an actual nation-state war against Israel is lower than it has been in our lifetimes, regardless of who you are reading this.

Egypt? I don't think they can afford it--they are now the second largest receipient of American foreign aid, but their military situation is weaker than it's been recently, and there will be no allies in this invasion. Iran is distracted by internal revolt, and too distant. It's not the time for the Gotterdammerung.

Terrorism has been a proxy weapon for these states for quite some time. The next few weeks will be a test of that weapon. Israel has committed itself, and there is no reason in economics or probability that it shouldn't carry through to the knife. There might be a reason in religion, but not in the Jewish religion as I understand it.

The word for the third food, "Karsi," leeks or cabbage, sounds like the word "kares," "to cut off/destroy." We therefore say a Yehi Ratzon that asks "may... our enemies be destroyed."

The word for the fourth food, "Silka" or beets, sounds like the "siluk," meaning "removal." We therefore say a Yehi Ratzon that requests "may our adversaries be removed."

The word for the fifth and final food "Tamri" or dates, sounds like the word "sheyitamu," "that they be consumed." Hence, we sat a Yehi Ratzon that implores "may... our enemies be consumed."

No peace is coming out of all this, though. That much seems certain. We have seen much of the promises of revenge from Hamas and others, and they echo the promises we have seen from each of these terror groups when they suffer some setback. But their enemies in Israel can promise too:
2 God is jealous, and the LORD avenges; The LORD avenges and is furious. The LORD will take vengeance on His adversaries, And He reserves wrath for His enemies;
3 The LORD is slow to anger and great in power, And will not at all acquit the wicked. The LORD has His way In the whirlwind and in the storm, And the clouds are the dust of His feet.
4 He rebukes the sea and makes it dry, And dries up all the rivers. Bashan and Carmel wither, And the flower of Lebanon wilts.
5 The mountains quake before Him, The hills melt, And the earth heaves at His presence, Yes, the world and all who dwell in it.
There is no doubt in my mind that we are going to see increased violence in the weeks ahead. There is now nothing to restrain either the terrorists or the Israelis--in the last case, not even the chance that state actors might involve themselves. Irony abounds, for stability among nation-states has made this war between Israel and non-state armies the more likely. Gotterdammerung may not be here, but these few poor mortals look ready to cast themselves into a tragedy no less wrenching. I see no alternative but to hope, or to pray, that good comes from it at last: to mourn for the doomed, and to hope for the valiant. If more good than that can be done, I can't imagine what.

UPDATE: The Belmont Club has its own thoughts, entitled "Survival Strategies in a Barroom Brawl."

Mudville Gazette


Welcome back to the Mudville Gazette. New server, Greyhawk says. I say the Weekly Standard broke him. Nice writeup, by the way.