October 27, 2007

Like Hardy Perennials, The Bad Ideas Linger On...

George Packer asks a very good question: "Every now and then, a discredited official leaves the Administration, but why doesn’t a discredited idea ever get fired?"

Yes, the Wurmsers come and go, talking of (Arab Shi'a) risorgimento (with apologies to T.S. Eliot) , but the ill-advised policies live on. There are many possible reasons why, but among them dim-witted denial must rank highly. For an excellent example, see N-Pod getting the M. Kakutani treatment here:

Often the reasoning in this book is downright perverse. For instance Mr. Podhoretz contends that the continuing violence in Iraq is actually “a tribute to the enormous strides that had been made in democratizing and unifying the country under a workable federal system.” He continues: “If the sectarian militias thought that unification was a pipe dream, would they be shedding so much blood in the hope of triggering a large-scale civil war? If the murderous collection of die-hard Sunni Baathists, together with their allies inside the government, agreed that democratization had already failed, would they have been waging so desperate a campaign to defeat it?”

Remember now, the President and his Vice-President take the counsel of such men very seriously. When cretinous friendly 'journalists' aren't being brought around for a pep talk, it's deep think with the VDH, Bernard Lewis and N-Pod ranks that passes for grand strategy 'think time' in today's White House. And it's just one reason (feel free to list others) that discredited ideas aren't getting "fired", per Packer's well-turned formulation. Put differently, it's Alice in Wonderland la-la land over in the Oval Office, and the patient ministrations of Bob Gates and the like notwithstanding, that's not going to change much these next 15 or so months. Which means the prospects of a strategic revamping of our posture in the Middle East (or anywhere else, for that matter) before the end of this Administration hover somewhere between less than zero and nil.

Posted by Gregory at October 27, 2007 12:17 PM

It can't be accidental that the neocons always frame issues as "heads I win, tails you lose." If there is a lot of bloodshed in Iraq it must be because the idea of democracy is on the right track and is frightening to the bad guys. On the other hand, if everything is peaceful it means that we've put in place an orderly society that is well on its way to democracy.

Similarly, the fact that there has been no terrorist attack in the US since 9/11 means that we're doing things right, just as if we had been attacked would mean that we need to redouble our efforts to do more of the same.

Posted by: Tillman Fan at October 27, 2007 04:11 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Which means the prospects of a strategic revamping of our posture in the Middle East (or anywhere else, for that matter) before the end of this Administration hover somewhere between less than zero and nil.

Congratulations! Your Bush Derangement Syndrome Club Card is in the mail!

And the best part is that your statement above is only correct if you are talking about a positive strategic revamping. With this crew, not only is a negative strategic revamping a possibility, its a near inevitability.

For instance, the Turkey/Kurd mess --- its going to require a strategic revamping, and whatever we choose to do is only going to make things worse. Do we continue to support the extreme level of Kurdish autonomy, and thus undergo a strategic revamping of our relationship with Turkey? Or, do we side with Turkey, and undergo a strategic revamping of our relationship with the Kurds, and the Iraq central government?

And that just the inevitable strategic revamping we will have to undergo in the next 15 months. There are a couple of strong possibilities for forced "strategic revamping" --- like a fundamentalist/military coup in Pakistan, or another terrorist attack on US soil, or a renewed insurgency by the tanned, rested, and ready Sunni nationalists that Petraeus allowed to reorganize for short term domestic political consumption. We can't predict what our options will be, merely that all options considered by Bushco will only make things worse.

Then there is voluntary revamping -- like attacking Iran. Keep in mind that Bush thinks it would be irresponsible to leave the Iran problem for the next (Democratic) President, and our only hope is a virtual military coup here in the US, with the Joint Chiefs refusing to carry out the orders of the President.

I bet right about now, your old Belgravia stomping grounds are looking mighty good....

Posted by: p_lukasiak at October 27, 2007 05:55 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

What was plukasiak struggling to say, in English? I think all the attempts at sarcasm and insults kind of destroyed the legibility, which is unfortunate, as I'd like to read a legible version of his ideas, whatever exactly they may be?

Posted by: Sierra Walden at October 27, 2007 06:23 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I find myself thinking more and more of Bush as the Franklin Pierce of the 21st century. Of course, Pierce's party had enough sense not to renominate him...

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw at October 27, 2007 11:58 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Well, I'd like to point out that Greg was one of the first bloggers to point out what kind of mess we'd be getting into with Turkey and the Kurds... I don't think it's fair to really assign BDS to him now - he's been very open-eyed about the whole mess for several years.

Then again, I can also understand p_lukasiak to a degree. It's an incredibly frustrating situation.

Could you Americans please do something to make sure that this nightmare ends, BEFORE the next disaster level is reached?

Posted by: Mentar at October 28, 2007 08:30 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

The reasons the ideas have never left is that in the eyes of this administration, the ideas have never been discredited.

They have been implemented poorly by people no longer there, they have been sabotaged by the traitorous left, they have been misrepresented by the "liberal media", etc.

However, the ideas were valid before and remain valid.

At least from the perspective of people that don't look at the world realistically.

Posted by: john at October 29, 2007 10:54 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Passing fancies may be discarded, but core beliefs don't. Particularly when they've brought a lot of benefit to those promoting them, and when failure is a minor problem to be spun.

Posted by: Barry at November 1, 2007 10:10 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

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Gregory Djerejian comments intermittently on global politics, finance & diplomacy at this site. The views expressed herein are solely his own and do not represent those of any organization.

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