Friday, March 17, 2006

Delusion and the new Bush National Security Strategy

Sure the Bush administration was delusional in 2003. There were three core delusions. Most and importantly and disastrously, Bush/Cheney were convinced that we would be able to take over Iraq and easily transform it into a client state that would eagerly host tens of thousands of American troops. Then there was the equally delusional conviction that American troops would then be able to invade Syria and Iran while intimidating Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Egypt into becoming democratic client states themselves. The Bush/ Cheney administration deluded themselves into thinking that the whole Arab Middle East was ripe for transformation into democratic states and American allies and that we could leverage the whole dramatic make-over if we just took over Iraq ourselves. Finally, the Bush administration believed that this enormous transformation could be executed at little cost or no cost to the U. S. "Iraq's oil wealth would pay for the invasion." "We could take Tehran without firing a shot." It was all going to be so easy.

Well, it didn't turn out that way by a long shot and the most inspired delusionals (Paul Wolfowitz and Douglas Feith) are spending more time with their families.

The delusional stage of Bush/ Cheney foreign policy has been over for more than two years now. Instead, the Bush/Cheney administration has repositioned itself. Sure the administration is still talking about "democratization." After all, it would be political suicide for Bush/Cheney to admit that the whole adventure in Iraq had been a disastrous mistake based on delusional assumptions. However, the Bush administration no longer assumes that Iraq is going to become an American client state, that the rest of the Middle East is going to be transformed into democracies, or that the U. S. is going to be able to avoid paying enormous costs in lives, money, and reputation for the Iraq adventure. Like, Spectrum 7 and Harkin Oil, American foreign policy has gone from from unsustainable expectations to a series of dry holes to covering up the failures.

So, how are the failures going to be covered up:

1. By sustaining the rhetoric of foreign policy delusion while drastically lowering the expectation of any success. Bush's introductory letter characterizes his administration as weakening but not defeating global terrorism. That's still delusional. Now that it has a firm base in Iraq, gobal terrorism is stronger than it was when Bush took office in 2001 and a great deal stronger than it was in 2003. But the new security document doesn't assume that the U. S. will be able to transform the Middle East by waving the banner of "pre-emptive strikes" and "democratization." Delusional rhetoric minus delusional expectations is not insanity, it's politics.

2. The other part of the Bush policy strategy is to produce small and medium scale successes to distract the American public from the reality of large-scale failure in Iraq. That was the point of forging a "new strategic partnership" with India. The Bush administration isn't going to be India's friend any more than it's going to be the friend of France or Germany. However, the Bush administration desperately needed a foreign policy "win" and they were willing to pay a high price for that win in terms of giving countenance to India's nuclear arsenal. Look for more costly wins in the future. But this isn't delusional as well. The Bush administration knows that it has a weak hand in American politics, but it's still playing that hand as hard as it can. The Bush administration knows that their core foreign and military policies have failed disastrously. Now they are doing their best to keep those failures from becoming political failures for the Republican Party as well.


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