Former Director of the NSA Denounces the Iraq War

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For several years Lieutenant General William E. Odom (ret.), formerly Director of the NSA (1985-88), has expressed the remarkable view that the US invasion of Iraq is "the greatest strategic mistake" in US history. In a podcast interview recorded on January 4, he elaborated on that proposition, and contended that an extended US debacle in Iraq could trigger the collapse of the current international system.

He talks about a loosening of constraints upon rivalries within Europe, a breakdown in the current peaceful balance in Northeast Asia, Russian meddling, Iranian meddling, arms races, and indeed the possibility of an international economic crisis along the lines of the 1930s. He clearly points out many new unevaluated risks which add up to "the greatest strategic mistake" in US history. Asked to explain why the US attacked Iraq Odom squarely puts responsibility on the neocons. He expresses concern that the President has put himself above the law, that on a wide range of fronts the President is undercutting the foundations of a liberal constitutional system, substituting for it executive rule. He also explains in colorful detail how the US military has understood international affairs over the past fifty years, how institutionally it has changed to deal with larger issues, and ways in which organizationally it is in jeopardy today.

Odom is now a Senior Fellow at the Hudson Institute in Washington D.C. and an Adjunct Professor of Political Science at Yale University.

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Cary Fraser - 1/22/2006

It is an indictment ofAmerican society and politics that William Odom is a former director of the NSA while George W. Bush is elevated to the Presidency.