|Pix Credit: Daily Mail|
|Pix Credit HERE: Disposition Matrix|
Khamenei - who has the final say on all matters of state - said Iran's first priority after the killing was the 'definitive punishment of the perpetrators and those who ordered it.' He did not elaborate. And, in an intervention that risks inflaming conflict even further, a former head of the US's Central Intelligence Agency labelled the assassination a 'criminal' act and branded it 'highly reckless'. John Brennan - who was director of the CIA from 2013 to 2017 under the administration of president Barack Obama - said he did not know who was to blame for the murder of Fakhrizadeh-Mahabad but labeled it a 'criminal' act.(as reported HERE).
This post offers some very brief reflections that build on this most curious and quite public pronouncement (one that comes after several years of such pronouncements). It comes from the perspective of a complete outsider and what that outsider might read into this most recent effort by this celebrity, whose success in that respect at least appears to continue to rise on utterances like this one.
|The Wiz, No Bad News|
3. Diva. There has always been a notable tendency for individuals to grasp at influence, especially when they are playing a subordinate role near the top of power hierarchies. But the culture of that influence grazing is shaped both by the times and the technology available. The Americans live at a time of an infatuation with reality television, with true confession teleplays and movies, and with outsize notions of heroes in spandex. The tragedy of security operatives becomes acute where they become public performers in political contests. Mr. Brennan's feud with Mr. Trump exposed both (at the expense of the nation, perhaps) in a light that both may come to loathe. But it is difficult to see what appears to others when blinded by the righteous light of one's own views. When one makes something personal, the cost of the loss of perspective is usually personally borne. There is little that breeds distrust than an older person with strong opinions backed by secrets that may hinted at but may not divulge. There is something askew about an administrator of secrets indulging in the mass politics in the style of his political adversary.
4. End games. Actors in the security apparatus make awkward advocates for political causes--and are more awkward shills for political figures. Americans have a high tolerance for some movement between the bureaucratic and political (electoral) establishments: George H.W. Bush had been the 11th Director of the CIA more than a decade before he became the 41st US President. But what does one do when the opposite occurs: when a president offends the sensitivities of the intelligence community; when he rejects their professional advice; when he mocks them? In the ordinary course, I suppose, the intelligence community could *sigh* (in an institutional sort of way if such a thing is possible) and continue its work; perhaps it might even use that moment for self reflection of the sort that sometimes be useful. Or it could be offended; it could be defensive. And in the process of offense and defense do what it has been accused of doing in other even more important issues involving policy--it could contribute to the construction of a narrative that suits its own vanity and in the process undermine that of their (institutional) adversary. Yet the issue is great--what does a political establishment do when its chief despises its intelligence community; what does it do when the intelligence community despises its chief?
5. The Loquacious Security Operative. None of these behaviors bodes well for a Republic, much less one facing its own inner and outer demons. Worse yet, perhaps, is the habit, increasingly evident, of a loquaciousness on the part of senior officials in the business of gathering, analyzing and advising on (other states') secrets (and our own). Yet that creates something of a quandary. The heads of a state's security apparatus are always speaking. Sometimes they speak to each other; sometimes they speak at each other. Conversations may be direct or indirect, they may use words or be conveyed by gesture or events; or they may be uttered by others playing a (conscious or unconscious) role. That is all to be expected in the world in which they and their colleagues (and I use that term loosely) inhabit. Loquaciousness, then, may be a bad habit. it may be a tool, it may misdirect, or it may reveal (in this case factional conversations). And yet, in the context in which it appears contemporaneously, it is not clear how it advances national rather than personal interests.
6. Intergenerational warfare and the art of speaking. Lastly, I end this reverie by turning away from the personalities to the object to which their attention ought to have been drawn. The current generation of officials appear to have lost a certain discipline with the fall of the Soviet Empire. With some exceptions (there are always exceptions, but exception marks what is common, oh so very common to an age), the concept of duty appears be be undergoing revision. Perhaps in an age of the therapeutic, a duty is self ought to be paramount. That might ultimately prove regrettable. But the value of self love s that it never lives long enough to see what it leaves in its wake when its object moves to another plane of existence. Yet self love is a fertilizer that overfeeds the sense of the self--and it produces the arrogance that tempts disaster. That is the arrogance that began infecting the upper levels of the academic, institutional, and bureaucratic elites from the time of the end of the first Communist Empire. It has blinded its wielders to the rise of other empires, and has permitted an indulgence in internalized warfare that potentially debilitates the collective which is it meant to serve. It sees itself in everyone and it assumes that rules--includig those of duty, of honor, and of fidelity to basic ancient principle, need not apply to those who wield the instruments of their manifestation. And that, perhaps, witnessed time and time again since the 1990s, and increasingly after 2001, is the most regrettable end to the meanderings of thought that the pronouncements of a former head of an important apparatus of our security infrastructure leads.