Bush's Best Case Scenario Thinking Goes Wrong Again
The Bush Administration has again been caught engaging in what I call "best case scenario thinking." My morning paper carried a NY Times article on Secretary of State Rice's admission that no one in the administration saw the Hamas victory in the election in Palestine coming. As was noted in the article :
LONDON, Jan. 29 Â Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice acknowledged Sunday that the United States had failed to understand the depth of hostility among Palestinians toward their longtime leaders. The hostility led to an election victory by the militant group Hamas that has reduced to tatters crucial assumptions underlying American policies and hopes in the Middle East.As in the case of Iraq, the administration completely misjudged the likelihood that the people would respond in a positive way (i. e., in a way that would please George W. Bush) to the opportunity to have a democratic state and elect the "right" people. As Rice put it:
"I've asked why nobody saw it coming," Ms. Rice said, speaking of her own staff. "It does say something about us not having a good enough pulse."The article went on to say:
Immediately after the election, Bush administration officials said the results reflected a Palestinian desire for change and not necessarily an embrace of Hamas, which the United States, Israel and the European Union consider a terrorist organization sworn to Israel's destruction. But Ms. Rice's comments seemed to reflect a certain second-guessing over how the administration had failed to foresee, or factor into its thinking, the possibility of a Hamas victory.In Iraq, we had the same failure to see that our actions, however nobly conceived, could go badly wrong. Bush and his administration did not foresee the looting of museums and other government buildings, did not appreciate the difficulties in rebuilding the infrastructure of Iraq, and did notforesee the strong negative reaction to the overthrow of Saddam and, especially, to our continued presence in Iraq, to name just a few things that they didn't anticipate and plan for. This latter failure of foresight is especially telling -- what did Bush think the suddenly disenfranchised Sunnis would do? Why did he think that these Muslim people would not find the continued presence of Infidels to be offensive given the long history of such hostility.
It is pretty clear that the Bush administration does not worry overmuch about what might go wrong when we take action in the world -- keep the lid on Afghanistan, where, it seems, the Taliban continue to operate, overthrow Saddam and try to create a democratice state in Iraq, and aid and abet the free election of the leaders of the new (more or less) Palestinian State. These continuing failures to recognize and plan for what could go wrong in the Bush administration may simply reflect Bush's sunny disposition. Does he start every day singing "Oh what a beautiful morning, ...."? Or is it that he dismisses out of hand, information from our various agencies that suggest that actions he favors could have very bad outcomes. By now, I suppose the CIA doesn't bother to send over intelligence that conflicts with what Bush and his administration wants to do.
I cannot believe that the Israelis did not see a Hamas victory coming. If they did and they are our friends, they would surely have told someone in the Bush administration that there was a good chance this would happen. But, the Bush administration does not like to hear bad news. Too some degree, this failure and the Iraqi failure seems to reflect Bush's faith in the allure of democracy to people who have never experienced it. As Martin Indyk, a top Middle East negotiator in the Clinton administration, said:
"But on the American side, the conceptual failure that contributed to disaster was the president's belief that democracy and elections solve everything."This belief by Bush does not make him a bad person by any means -- it is a noble, and very idealistic, point of view. It just makes him a bad President.