Damn boy, for a psychologist (or psychiatrist or whatever the hell he is) Bagnews can sure get a little ruthless with his powers of observation. I read him everyday, but haven’t seen anything as cold-blooded as his recent post, Condi’s Middle East Scrapbook: The January ’07 Inserts. And the fact that he’s not particularly rude and allows the pictures to do the talking just underscores how cold-blooded the whole thing is.
And we can add to that his Huffington Post entry: Condi’s “New Horizon” , in which he so deftly states:
Because, when it comes to Ms. Rice, there is no operative or working strategy, no sign of formulation in progress, nothing. Just pictures. And sound bites. And they aren't even her sound bites!
And this can be combined with the clip I saw on Colbert last night of Donald Trump (of all people) also dishing out on Rice, by pointing out that she was merely going to the middle-east for photo-ops and hand-waving, rather than engaging in necessary negotiations. And for all of Trump’s flaws and egotisms, the guy knows negotiation and knows he’s not seeing it now. And for Mr. Pizzazz to be criticizing someone for lack of substance…ouch.
Diplomacy for Dummies
And the thing is, for all people have talked about how bright Condi is, I’ve just never seen it. What I’ve seen is a tenacious person with a good memory for intelligent-sounding phrases, who knows some basic techniques of office politics and power plays, but little else. And even there, she’s been constantly upstaged by Cheney and Rumsfeld, who are two of America’s toughest empty suits.
But I’ve never seen anything from her to indicate that she was truly intelligent; if, for no other reason, an intelligent person would have done much better at her job and would have been able to outmaneuver Cheney. As things were, she was denied her proper role as National Security Advisor, instead being relegated to being Bush’s Foreign Policy Nurse Maid; rather than acting as the nexus of America’s intelligence community. And even as Secretary of State, she seems dead in the water.
But this goes beyond her and includes Cheney and the rest of the whole aggressive conservative movement that tried dooming things for Reagan the way they’ve doomed things for Bush. Sure, they’ve always thought negotiation was a sign of weakness, but it was always assumed they did this as part of a strategy. That’s always what they wanted people to believe. That they could be master diplomats if they chose to, but they chose not to, because they thought diplomacy was for losers. And that’s still the stance Cheney takes.
But the truth is much more simple: They suck at diplomacy. They can’t negotiate. They don’t know the basics of it, and aren’t even sure how it’s supposed to work at all. And this is the real reason they never trusted it. Not because it was always being misused, but because they never understood how it was supposed to work in the first place. The only game they know how to play is hardball, and if that doesn’t work for them, they imagine that everything else must be hopeless. And with them in charge, it is.
It’s like a caveman trying to use a buzzsaw. Sure, it’d help them greatly if they could use it, but they’d probably hurt themselves right off the bat and insist that it was evil. And that’s exactly what these morons do. They don’t see the limits of their abilities and just imagine that the tools are dangerous.
And sure, this is probably also Bush’s fault, because he’s such a schmuck on this front too. He likes to see himself as the Cowboy President or whatever, and thinks diplomacy’s for losers. But he really wouldn’t be too hard to work around, if they could actually get things to work. They could explain it to him in posse-talk, I’m sure. Or perhaps show him a clip of The Magnificent Seven, and he’d start to understand the importance of working with others.
But they can’t, due to their own shortcomings and blindspots. Rice hops around the middle-east and somehow just expects diplomacy to happen. As if it’s all photo-ops and sound bites. And it’s not. Those are the trappings of diplomacy, but they aren’t even a significant part of it. It’s like an alien race trying to duplicate Christmas by wrapping empty boxes and can’t understand why it seems so pointless.
But she doesn’t know what else to do and she’s unlikely to have any underlings who can help her out. The Bush Admin is full of idiots who have been raised to believe that diplomacy can’t work and is a fool’s errand, and all the real diplomats would have left or been pushed out long ago. But they know all the action’s in the middle-east and that people seem to get excited when they travel there and talk to important people; so they keep doing it, hoping that it will finally work out for them.
And so there she is, hopping around. Meeting with diplomatic minds far superior to her own, who must be wondering what the hell she’s doing there and when she’s finally going to get down to business. Because in the dog-eat-dog middle-east, you’d have to be fairly diplomatic to rise to the top and stay there; while in the American conservative evolutionary chain, it only took the ability to appear tougher-than-thou.
And that’s all they really see when it comes to diplomacy: More posturing, more bullshit, and pointless speechifying. And that’s why when they send Condi to the middle-east, yet again, it really is just a fool’s errand. And in that regard, they sent the right person for the job.