Friday, January 11, 2008

How the Bushies Failed Again

My lord, how the Bush Administration and Condi in particular are complete fools. I'll admit that I generally don't read much on international news and assume that the important parts will filter through from the blogs I read. Well I guess this one took awhile, but the Bagnews just had a full story on how the Bushies and Condi in particular are largely to blame for the assassination of Benazir Bhutto. Not directly, of course, but for luring Bhutto back into Pakistan with impossible promises they were totally unable to fulfill, based upon a fantasyland plan that should have embarrassed a halfwitted turd. And that's putting it politely.

What the hell is the matter with these people? You'd think by now they'd finally realize that they're simpletons who don't really understand how the world works and would finally put faith in the experts that work for them. I mean, that's what they're there for. You trust your underlings to tell you what you need to know and make decisions based upon what you're told. But conservatives are authoritarians and authoritarians only understand a top-down model of leadership, where the people with authority tell the underlings what they need to do and the underlings obey.

And so here we are, in the eighth year of their reign of terror, and still read things like:
Many career foreign policy officials were skeptical of the U.S. plan. "There were many inside the administration, at the State and Defense Departments and in intelligence, who thought this was a bad idea from the beginning because the prospects that the two could work together to run the country effectively were nil," said Riedel.

Surprise, surprise.

Predicting the Predictable

But of course, we're not surprised at all. Were these people capable of change and learning from mistakes, they wouldn't be conservatives. And not only will they never understand what they did wrong, they will insist that they did everything right but that it was impossible to predict that any of this would happen...even if people did, in fact, predict what would happen.

And so we still hear things like:
On Tuesday, however, American officials fired back, saying they had provided a constant flow of threat reports to Ms. Bhutto and her political advisers, even before she returned to Pakistan on Oct. 18 after a self-imposed exile. American intelligence officials said they never received a credible threat of an attack with a specific date, time or place.

Which sounds awfully familiar:
I want to reiterate: It was not a warning. There was no specific time, place or method mentioned. What you have seen in the run-up that I've talked about is that the FAA was reacting to the same kind of generalized information about a potential hijacking as a method that al Qaeda might employ, but no specific information saying that they were planning such an attack at a particular time.

See. They never make mistakes. If you tell them how, where, and when an attack will happen and how to stop that attack, they will stop it. Otherwise, nobody could have done anything different; even if Bhutto told them what sort of security she required and the Bushies found themselves stuck in a very predictable position of not being able to make that happen.

Good Versus Evil

And the big question is: What in god's name is the matter with these people that they still imagine they can trust the foreign leaders they rely upon?

But I actually know the answer to that. Most conservatives have the mindset that they think there are only two types of people in the world: Good guys and bad guys. Good guys are the ones you like, and can trust, and can do no ill. And bad guys are the ones you don't like, can't trust, and can do no good. Even if good guys do bad things, like getting addicted to Oxycontin or being exposed as a vibrator-using pervert, they know that, deep down, they're still good people being wrongly smeared by a vicious foe who needs to be destroyed.

And bad guys are always bad; no matter how many "good" things they do to fool people into not hating them. Similarly, bad guys will always attack and insult you, and you should always dismiss their criticism, even if they pretend that they're just trying to be helpful. Because if they notice your flaws, it's obvious they must not be your friend. And while it's possible for them to start hating a person they once considered good; it's almost impossible for them to ever trust a bad guy.

And haven't we heard this repeatedly? They think we're all fools for trying to be nice to Muslims or thinking that we can appease them. They thought the same thing about the Soviets too, and now insist that it was Reagan's "Evil Empire" stuff that won the Cold War, and have striken Reagan's diplomacy efforts from the record. And then there's the fact that they insist liberals are out to destroy America and that we'll attack them no matter what they do. Trust me, they're not just the spokespeople of Irrational Hatred; they're also clients.

Good Guy Diplomacy

And that kind of thinking colors the Bush Administration's entire foreign policy, allowing the leaders they consider to be "good guys" to completely walk all over us and have us begging for more. Not that they necessarily think that these leaders will automatically do our bidding, but they're simpletons and imagine that a little carrot-stick routine will surely make everything work to their liking. And with the leaders they consider "good," it's surely more carrot than stick.

And beyond that, they still imagine that everyone else is dumber than they are, and fail to understand that these leaders have their own interests and domestic politics which might have nothing to do with America. They're simpletons, and can only imagine an America-centric worldview, where even the craziest cave-dwelling terrorist is hanging on Wolf Blitzer's every word, in order to determine if they should continue jihading or just hang-up their thawb and get a nice Brooks Brothers suit and a job in the banking industry. If only we could find some way to replace their NY Times subscriptions with the Washington Times, we would have won this war years ago.

And so they just imagined that Musharraf would realize how important it is to keep up the illusion of democracy in his country and welcome Bhutto with open arms. But reality said no such thing. Particularly as their instincts totally let them down and Musharraf is not a "good" guy. We might be stuck working with him, but we shouldn't trust him to be on our side at all. As with most power-hungry people, Musharraf is looking out for Musharraf.

Similarly, Saudi Arabia is looking out for Saudi Arabia and Israel is looking out for Israel. Where their political fortunes are exactly aligned with ours, we're safe; but it's impossible to know when that's happening and when they only want us to think that's happening. Only the Bushies imagine that these countries have our best interests in mind. These other countries are just laughing at our ignorance.

Carrots Versus Blackmail

And a big part of the problem is that you really should never trust your allies or distance your enemies too much. But as I said, these people are simpletons and will always allow their "allies" to see every card in our hand, while not even allowing our enemies to sit at the table. And both policies are getting us routed at every turn. Because they put themselves in positions where they simply have to trust their allies, and pray that the carrot they're offering will somehow make these people remain loyal to us; while using such a big stick on our enemies that they'll have no incentive to be our friends. And the bigger stick we need against our enemies, the more carrots we have to give our friends

But if your ally already has all the cards, your carrot is superfluous. And most likely, it's not a carrot at all; but blackmail. If someone has naughty pictures of you, you giving them money to not release the pictures is not considered a carrot. Similarly, if we're put in a position that we have to give money and weapons to a country in order for them to survive and they know upfront that our foreign policy requires their survival; that's not a carrot. That's extortion. By letting them know upfront that we need them, we're no longer in a position to demand anything from them.

And so we give them everything, including a freehand to grab more power and abuse human rights, and we can do nothing to stop them. Because they already know that we need them to survive, and so they are allowed to do whatever they want and we have no leverage to suggest otherwise. The same thing happened in Vietnam, with us installing Ngo Dinh Diem as a benevolent dictator, and eventually having to arrange a coup just to uninstall him. And, of course, we got suckered into the whole Vietnamese situation in the first place because we wrongly assumed that we could trust our allies England and France to do the right thing, and it turned out that they naturally put their own interests ahead of our own.

And the same thing happened in Central and South America, in the 70's and 80's with us being forced to support evil dictators, based upon the premise that it was better that they be our dictators than democratically-elected populists who might take orders from the Soviets. And that meant we had to supply them with money, weapons, and unlimited power; while we got nothing in return, other than a promise that they wouldn't take orders from Russia.

Mafia Politics

And the big problem is that we keep telling these people what our foreign policy needs are, and rather than have them beg for assistance, we beg them to take our assistance. It's as if Vito Corleone went around telling people he needed loyal supporters and asked them what favors he could provide to obtain their loyalty; and they insist that they need constant money and protection and if Vito ever stops providing this, that he'll suffer.

And that's the thing, for as much as people compare the Bush Administration to the Mafia, it's obvious these jokers don't have a clue how the Mafia works. At least not as far as foreign policy is concerned. If anything, it's as if we're the clients of these foreign countries, and we're the ones paying them for protection. We tell them that we want to invade Iraq or Afghanistan and ask them what we can do for them to support us in that, and then we give them as much as we can and are in no position to ask for anything in return.

And a big part of the problem is that these people are so simple-minded that even their black-and-white Good v. Evil paradigm has to be simplified even more so that it's just a handful of countries we need to worry about, rather than every country. They want to focus on attacking Iraq or Iran or whomever and simplify things by making it a chess board where all the pieces fit into one of two teams; you're either with us or against us.

But the truth is much more complicated. England and China and Saudi Arabia and North Korea and Mexico and Canada all have their own pieces on the board and they'll only help us as much as they need us to be helped. And it doesn't matter how much we try to ignore these other interests or imagine that we can bribe them enough that they'll be our pieces. These aren't our pieces and we do need to take their plans into consideration.

Letting Them See You Sweat

And so in this case, Musharraf knows that we will get seriously hurt if he loses power, and takes advantage of that. And the Bushies being as they are, only see their own weaknesses and don't see how Musharraf has more on the line that we do. Sure, Pakistan falling into the hands of Al Qaeda is really bad for us; but it's his fricking life on the line. And with Israel, I remain entirely ignorant as to why we need them and what they're doing for us. Sure, the humanitarian in me says that they're people and people deserve peace and prosperity, but the current international scene has no place for a soft heart.

And if anything, the soft heart is preventing us from doing what we need to in order to make the world more suitable for putting another country's interests on par with our own. After all, that's exactly what our allies are doing too. For instance, there can be no doubt that the illegal settlements in Palestinian territories have got to go in order for any kind of peace to be possible; so much so that even Bush said words to that effect. Yet, it's just a matter of time until he backtracks on that demand, and isn't in any position to say otherwise and is just sticking his neck out by even asking politely for this to happen. And, of course, the whole reason why the settlements continue to exist is due to Israeli domestic politics. So we're being screwed over because the Israeli politicians are looking out for themselves; and we're in no position to demand anything, despite all the assistance we provide to them.

And why is it this way? Because they know that we need them and will remain loyal to them, even if they're not loyal to us. Even if we catch them spying on us. For reasons that remain beyond my comprehension, we need Israel to survive more than they do, and so we remain their bitches; just as we remain bitches to all our other "allies." But were these people more intelligent, they could see things from the perspective of these other countries and realize that we're actually in a position of power; not weakness. But as usual, they only see their own weaknesses and therefore continue to get routed by people who are weaker than us.

And that's how we find ourselves in a place where we naively imagine that Musharraf wants to share power with a powerful foe and we pretend as if we can ensure security for someone who knew better, but foolishly believed our empty assurances and lost her life for it. Because our wise leaders continue to place blind trust in foreign leaders who are clearly too intelligent to do the same in return. And you can be sure that they'll do it again.

1 comment:

The Ridger, FCD said...

It's possible that Bhutto knew better and had her own agenda which didn't exclude being a target (though not necessarily dying), but that doesn't excuse these people from their inane reading of Pakistan's internal political situation. Musharraf is now threatening to attack any Americans who cross into Pakistan hunting bin Laden (bin Who?) or al Qaeda soldiers.

And now Bush is trying to make Olmert and Abbas work together, while still trying to keep Hamas in the outer circles of darkness. Hah. I can't even enjoy my laughter...