...dont l'intérêt serait qu'il serait à la fois précis et sévère (pas sur les questions morales, mais sur celles de l'efficacité), selon l'analyse de l'Economist (en outre je serais assez curieux de savoir à quelle époque la CIA a "acheté les élections en France") :
On top of everything else, not very good at its job
Aug 16th 2007
From The Economist print edition
The United States has not, even in the eyes of well-disposed critics, been well served by its main intelligence agency
Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA
By Tim Weiner
MANY books have sought to show how badly the Central Intelligence Agency behaves. In this thorough and persuasive study, Tim Weiner describes how poorly it does its job. As a New York Times journalist who has covered espionage for many years, Mr Weiner knows what he is talking about. He does not play down the seamier side—for example, the opening of letters, snooping on critics, trying out drugs on Russian prisoners, plotting to kill foreign leaders and so on. Yet illegality and immorality are secondary concerns. His principal charge is incompetence, and this he pursues with the zeal of a prosecutor. The most powerful country in the world, he complains, has yet to develop “a first-rate spy service”.
He starts in 1945, when President Harry Truman decided to set up the CIA's immediate forebear, the Central Intelligence Group. He closes with the agency's unhappy part in the “war on terror” and the invasion of Iraq, one result of which was the demotion of the CIA and its director in an attempt to co-ordinate America's often discordant intelligence outfits.
The 1947 act that set up the agency gave it two tasks: briefing the president with intelligence and conducting secret operations for him abroad. In Mr Weiner's view the CIA was lamentable at both—and most presidents must take a share of the blame.
The CIA failed to warn the White House of the first Soviet atom bomb (1949), the Chinese invasion of South Korea (1950), anti-Soviet risings in East Germany (1953) and Hungary (1956), the dispatch of Soviet missiles to Cuba (1962), the Arab-Israeli war of 1967 and Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait in 1990. It overplayed Soviet military capacities in the 1950s, then underplayed them before overplaying them again in the 1970s.
The record of covert action is little better. In Japan, France and Italy the CIA sought to protect democracy by buying elections. It sponsored coups in Guatemala, Iran, Syria and Iraq, where a Baath Party leader boasted in 1963, “We came to power on an American train.” When an invasion of Cuba masterminded by the agency failed, it plotted to kill Fidel Castro. In ascending order of bloodshed, it took a hand in military coups in South Vietnam, Chile and Indonesia.
Was such skulduggery worth it? Did the extra security for the United States outweigh the immediate human cost, the frequently perverse geopolitical consequences and the moral damage to American ideals? Doubters repeatedly warned presidents that on balance the CIA's foreign buccaneering did more harm than good. Mr Weiner has dug out devastating official assessments of covert operations from the 60 years he covers suggesting that many were not worth it. The sceptics were not peaceniks or bleeding hearts but hard-headed advisers at high levels of government.
The CIA's defenders complain that only the bad news ever emerges. Yet if Mr Weiner is holding back good news, it is not for lack of searching. As 180 pages of end-notes attest, he has devoured congressional reports, former spies' memoirs and declassified papers from possibly the most unsecret service ever—a credit of a kind to American democracy.
Mr Weiner highlights many successes and is less harsh than many presidents. His title borrows a melancholy remark made by Dwight Eisenhower, who called what the CIA had wrought on his say-so “a legacy of ashes”. Richard Nixon, who had a sharp tongue, derided the agency's analysts as clowns reading newspapers.
Its very conspicuousness makes the CIA hard to put into perspective. Some people believe that its impact, for good or ill, is overdrawn. It is one American intelligence agency among many. Its budget is less than a quarter of that for eavesdropping and satellite spying, which the Pentagon controls. The armed forces also have intelligence organisations of their own.
At times recently the CIA has come to look almost dispensable. Mr Weiner's final chapter, “The Burial Ceremony”, describes the disdain in which the present administration came to hold it. By creating a new supreme post, the director of national intelligence, President George Bush has in effect robbed the CIA of direct access to the Oval Office. A 60-year struggle for influence ended with that change in 2004. In Mr Weiner's words, “The Pentagon had crushed the CIA.”
Though Mr Weiner strongly believes his country needs effective espionage, his hopes for it sound bleak. He ends with the bitter post-cold-war words of Richard Helms, one of the few CIA directors to whom he gives high marks: “The only remaining superpower doesn't have enough interest in what's going on in the world to organise and run an espionage service.”
Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA.
By Tim Weiner.
Doubleday; 704 pages; $27.95.
Allen Lane; £25
Copyright © 2007 The Economist Newspaper and The Economist Group. All rights reserved.
Cat and mouse games echo Cold War
By Con Coughlin
Last Updated: 1:37am BST 09/09/2007
The dangerous game of cat and mouse being played out in airspace protected by Britain has been provoked by Russian President Vladimir Putin's decision to attempt to re-assert his country's military prowess.
# RAF jets intercept eight Russian bombers
In what amounts to a re-enactment of Moscow's Cold War strategy, Mr Putin last month announced that he had given the order for Russia's fleet of nuclear strike bombers to resume their patrols throughout international airspace.
This resulted in the Russian Defence Ministry's announcement that fourteen strategic Tupolev 95 Bear bombers had commenced routine patrol operations over the Pacific, the Atlantic and the Arctic.
The Russians are quite within their rights to conduct such missions, which can be useful for maintaining or up-grading their defence capabilities.
Nato bombers regularly conduct such missions, although they generally confine them to Nato-controlled or neutral international airspace.
But the Russian exercises, which are probably designed as much to test Nato's air defence readiness as to improve the operational effectiveness of Russia's nuclear bomber fleet, are nevertheless fraught with danger as they are being undertaken against a background of mounting tensions between the West and the Kremlin.
In one of the worst incidents during the Cold War, the climate of mistrust led to the Russian air force shooting down a Korean Air Lines jumbo jet in 1983, with the loss of 269 lives.
In the latest incident a fleet of eight Tupolev aircraft were detected flying in a loose formation of four pairs and heading for international airspace that is regularly patrolled by Nato.
Initially they were intercepted by Norwegian F-16 jets. But as they entered the Nato area for which Britain has responsibility they were shadowed by four RAF F3 Tornado fighters.
The bombers eventually altered course to leave the Nato zone and headed back to their base.
The increased Russian air activity is part of Mr Putin's ambitious attempts to revive Russia's reputation as one of the world's leading military powers.
The end of the Cold War resulted in a drastic reduction in the size and effectiveness of Moscow's military arsenal, which left the United States as the world's undisputed military superpower.
But Russia's resurgent economy, which has been achieved by Mr Putin's renationalisation of the country's vast energy resources, has allowed the Russian leader to revive Moscow's military ambitions to the extent that Nato forces constantly need to be on their guard to be ready to react to any challenge the Russians may pose to Western security.
Mr Putin has also warned of Russia's need to modernise its nuclear arsenal in the face of the Bush administration's plans to deploy its anti-missile defence system in central Europe.
Information appearing on telegraph.co.uk is the copyright of Telegraph Media Group Limited and must not be reproduced in any medium without licence.
Un autre titre qui paraît ma foi intéressant, sur les autres chemins qu'aurait pu prendre la guerre froide... Comme quoi la vie n'est qu'un immense Twilight Struggle...
The cold war
A history of lost opportunities
Sep 13th 2007
From The Economist print edition
It might all have been different if the leaders of the United States and the Soviet Union had not, so often, found themselves swept along by events
For the Soul of Mankind: The United States, the Soviet Union and the Cold War
By Melvyn P. Leffler
WITH more than a year to go before the election, America's presidential campaign is entering a decisive phase. Numerous states have moved up the dates of the crucial first round—the party primaries and caucuses—to the very start of 2008. To the campaign teams, it is unnervingly clear that a painful culling of candidates will take place soon. Would-be presidents are therefore searching for ways to raise their profile, partly by publicising their visions of how America will interact with the world in the post-Bush era.
Into this mix arrives a highly relevant and much-needed historical study by one of the world's senior scholars of American foreign policy, Melvyn Leffler, a professor at the University of Virginia. “For the Soul of Mankind” assesses both what went wrong and what went right in America's diplomatic, military and political interactions with the Soviet Union during the thermonuclear stand-off of the cold war. The title, which Mr Leffler has taken from a remark by George Bush senior, shows how significant the author considers this subject to be. This is one of the best books on the period to have been written.
Mr Leffler focuses loosely on several moments of tension between the American and Soviet leaders. They include the Truman-Stalin contest over occupied Germany, culminating in the Berlin airlift of 1948-49, the Cuban missile crisis in 1962 and the tussle between Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev over America's “star wars” missile-shield programme in 1986. Mr Leffler sees his book as “a history of lost opportunities” when the cold war could plausibly have taken another course.
He tells a tale of nascent initiatives confounded by events. The combination of the two produced unforeseen results. He argues that neither America nor the Soviet Union intended to start a cold war over Germany, but “conditions in the international system created risks that Truman and Stalin could not accept and opportunities they could not resist.” Caught in a web of fear, ideology and temptation, the two leaders ended by entangling their countries in long-term conflict.
The book succeeds in being even-handed: both sides come under careful scrutiny. To describe the American home front during and just after the second world war, Mr Leffler employs a famous statement by John Kenneth Galbraith: “Never in the history of human conflict has there been so much talk of sacrifice and so little sacrifice.” But the author has no patience with nostalgia for Stalin either: he is clear about the brutality of the man.
Mr Leffler believes in the importance of individuals and their decisions, even if only to understand how both become derailed. “The cold war was not predetermined. Leaders made choices,” he writes. And, at the end, the choices that mattered were Russian ones. He argues that though America shaped the nature of the contest, Gorbachev was the key figure in its ending. In contrast to such scholars as John Lewis Gaddis, Mr Leffler finds that “Reagan was critically important, but Gorbachev was the indispensable agent of change.”
Any broad-brush survey such as this one will have its gaps and “For the Soul of Mankind” is no exception. Mr Leffler believes passionately that American policymaking towards the Soviet Union defined the second half of the 20th century. He is right, but he could have paid more attention to the leaders of other countries who helped to limit or expand the parameters of the possible. Nor is his choice of title entirely convincing. American and Soviet leaders clearly tried to shape strategy, but did they really struggle to save souls (as opposed to lives)? It is one thing for a politician to say so, another for a historian to adopt the same line, and requires more analysis than is given here.
But the shortcomings of Mr Leffler's book are few and his conclusion is powerful. He laments that all too often “ideology and historical experience” intensified American leaders' sense of threat “and tempted them to overreach when danger loomed.” At their best, American presidents maintained a delicate balance between power and restraint. They realised that they needed to achieve their goals not through war but through close co-ordination with allies. The book argues that, had they not lost this balance during periods of tension, they might have seen the opportunities hidden beneath the dangers.
Although Mr Leffler (wisely) leaves parallels to the present day implicit, he clearly has an important lesson to offer: a crisis is a terrible thing to waste. It makes unthinkable changes suddenly possible. International relations would look very different now if America, in the spirit of the better days of cold-war transatlantic co-operation, had seized the fleeting “we-are-all-Americans” moment after September 11th 2001. It could have accepted European offers of increased military collaboration rather than pursuing unilateral action. Without saying so explicitly, Mr Leffler leaves the unmistakable impression that the next person sitting in the Oval Office will find the road back to collaborative policymaking very long indeed. Campaign staffers writing foreign-policy statements for candidates, please take note.
For the Soul of Mankind: The United States, the Soviet Union and the Cold War.
By Melvyn P. Leffler.
Hill and Wang; 608 pages; $35