- By Thomas E. RicksThomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military for the Washington Post from 2000 through 2008.
Richard Armitage is an unusual guy in Washington — both candid and well-spoken. He also has a talent for making the right enemies. Now he of thick neck and broad shoulders has given an interesting interview to Prism, which is some sort of new publication at the National Defense University.
- At first, the U.S. government was able to keep Pakistani intelligence from meddling in Afghanistan. “The second surprise was frankly how successful we were for the first 4 years-almost 5 years-at keeping the ISI [Pakistan’s Inter-Service Intelligence] relatively out of it. They were so shocked with the speed at which we invaded Afghanistan that I think the ISI felt it was only a matter of time until we prevailed.” Armitage’s timeline here suggests to me that Afghanistan started really falling apart when the ISI went back in. That’s an interesting conclusion
- He says Bush and his war cabinet never formally considered whether to invade Iraq. “Never to my knowledge, and I’m pretty sure I’m right on this, did the President ever sit around with his advisors and say, ‘Should we do this or not?’ He never did it.”
- The Bush administration didn’t understand democracy and how to encourage it. “The Bush administration’s push for votes as though voting equals democracy was wrong-headed because a vote is something that happens inside a democracy, but is not necessary for a democracy. You can have a democratic system without having people raise their hands and have a secret ballot. Loya jirgas to some extent are these.”
- He believes Bush administration actions undercut the American position abroad. “It’s harder and made more complex when we abuse the writ of habeas corpus here or when we torture people.”
- Reading he recommends, and why: “Have you read the novels of Naguib Mahfouz? They’re great, and through them all you get a couple of things, I think. First, the good humor of Egyptians; they have enormous good humor. Second, patience and long suffering, but you realize that at some point in time you can’t joke something away. You can’t outwait it. I would be afraid the tipping point is going to come, and particularly now that the strategic center of gravity in the Middle East has shifted to Riyadh and away from Cairo.”
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Josh Rogin covers national security and foreign policy and writes the daily Web column The Cable. His column appears bi-weekly in the print edition of The Washington Post. He can be reached for comments or tips at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Previously, Josh covered defense and foreign policy as a staff writer for Congressional Quarterly, writing extensively on Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantánamo Bay, U.S.-Asia relations, defense budgeting and appropriations, and the defense lobbying and contracting industries. Prior to that, he covered military modernization, cyber warfare, space, and missile defense for Federal Computer Week Magazine. He has also served as Pentagon Staff Reporter for the Asahi Shimbun, Japan's leading daily newspaper, in its Washington, D.C., bureau, where he reported on U.S.-Japan relations, Chinese military modernization, the North Korean nuclear crisis, and more.
A graduate of George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs, Josh lived in Yokohama, Japan, and studied at Tokyo's Sophia University. He speaks conversational Japanese and has reported from the region. He has also worked at the House International Relations Committee, the Embassy of Japan, and the Brookings Institution.
Josh's reporting has been featured on CNN, MSNBC, C-Span, CBS, ABC, NPR, WTOP, and several other outlets. He was a 2008-2009 National Press Foundation's Paul Miller Washington Reporting Fellow, 2009 military reporting fellow with the Knight Center for Specialized Journalism and the 2011 recipient of the InterAction Award for Excellence in International Reporting. He hails from Philadelphia and lives in Washington, D.C.| The Cable |