Monday, January 30, 2006

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 — 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.

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Blogger The Language Guy said...

I see that my blog suggests that I don't think free elections are a good thing. That is actually not true. My problem is that the US seems almost invariable to back the wrong side in the world. In Vietnam, instead of making friends again with Ho Chi Minh after we determined he would win any free election in Vietnam as a whole, called off the election and installed a series of puppets in S. Vietnam that all failed to win the support of the people. In Africa, we never once backed the winning side until Jimmy Carter backed the insurgents in Rhodesia. Time after time we backed the losing side in S. America. We backed the Contras. The Sandinistas won. We have ired the leadership of Venezuela in the last year or so. You don't win many friends when you back the losing side. In politics, the main thing is to win. After that you try to influence the winner. Israel would have protested mightily any attempt on our part to deal with Hamas. Perhaps it is time to tell Israel to take a hike. For their own good. Fat chance they will deal with Hamas in a productive way. What I fear is an increased destabilization in the Middle East. That will help no one but those who profit from destabilzed states of affaris.

3:21 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not only did Israel not see this coming, *Hamas* did not see this coming. Being a majority party puts them in a very uncomfortable situation--and what does any of this have to do with telling Israel to take a hike? What would we negotiate with Hamas about (not that we should) that didn't involve Israel?

1:44 AM

Blogger IbaDaiRon said...

Well, I've changed my mind: I'm ready to vote for "Cluelessa" in 2008!

(BTW, is there a lot of paperwork involved in immigrating to "J_G World"? Life sounds so much simpler there!)

6:03 AM

Blogger The Language Guy said...

j_g, I will not dignify your comments about Democrats with a reply. They are simply too ignorant to be worth a responce.

urijah, it seems that we have already begun negotiating with Hamas. Russia, the EU, and the US are telling Hamas that the money will stop flowing to Palestine until they cease and desist from attacking Israel. This is the kind of thing I had in mind by saying we should tell Israel to take a hike in re the refusal to negotiate. One must always negotiate with anyone when there is a chance for success. As a wise man said many years ago, one does not make treaties with one's friends. One doesn't need to. One does this with enemies and creating treaties and agreements with someone like Hamas is not done because you trust them (you don't) but because it provides a foundation for building trust. It may sound nuts but I believe Hamas' victory may in the end be a good thing for now we are in a position to influence them for the first time.

8:01 AM

Blogger IbaDaiRon said...

Ah, Honorable Elder Sister, once more have you demonstrated the true depth of your intuitive understanding. I bow in humble awe of your obviously superior character and intellect.

2:50 AM

Blogger Full Metal Attorney said...

Perhaps what people want is a good king rather than a mediocre democracy, and that hope for a good king defeats the US when we try to convince them that the next king will not always be good.

9:58 AM

Blogger concerned citizen said...

Damn! Missed the God discussion & came home from vacation during the political one.
It seems to me L.G., no matter what walk of life, everyone's an expert at politics, except for me. I never even have much of an opinion or get all fired up about it.
Except I voted for Ralhf(can't spell it) Nader, twice. Because I don't like the two party thing.It seems like the same thing to me.

1:17 AM

Blogger The Language Guy said...

Voting for Ralph Nader helped elect Bush. I would be ashamed of myself for voting for that meglomanaiac.

6:56 AM

Blogger concerned citizen said...

That is where YOU are wrong my friend. If you want I'll tell you why.

11:47 AM


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