Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Unintended Consequences or Unattended Idiots

The law of unintended consequences is not hard and fast. It is not as clear-cut as say Newton’s 3rd law of motion. Great politicians and statesman are usually those individuals who are capable of understanding the most likely nature and scope of both the intended and unintended consequence of an action. Incompetent leaders spend no time considering the consequences of an action; they focus entirely on the action itself. Can there be a more clear definition of the incompetence of George Bush?

Marc Sandalow, the San Francisco Chronicle’s
Washington bureau chief, takes a look as some of Bush’s unintended consequences come home to root, while none of positive consequences promised by President Bush have occurred.

The oft-stated hope that a new Iraqi government would swiftly transform the region's fractured politics has been realized with unintended consequences: an emboldened Iran; the victory of Hamas in Palestinian elections; and Syria's departure from Lebanon. The familiar strain has been hatred between the Arabs and Israelis and a widely held assumption that the situation will grow worse before it improves.


This was not the sort of geopolitical shakeup predicted by President Bush when he declared two weeks before the Iraq invasion that "acting against the danger will also contribute greatly to the long-term safety and stability of our world.''

An intellectually weak and nearly functionally illiterate president turns the foreign policy of the United States over to a bunch of right wing ideologues, whose understanding of the Middle East is limited to their collective knowledge that there is oil under the sand over there. Who could have forecast that things would go so badly astray? Certainly not the neoconservatives whose ignorance and hubris created the strategic framework to which a detail adverse president would apply the tactical execution.

Pentagon adviser Richard Perle, an administration confidant who was among the strongest proponents of the notion that overthrowing Hussein would stabilize the region, insisted at the time the war began that the fruits of Iraq's liberation would come quickly.

"We want to bring real stability to the region,'' Perle said in a 2003 debate sponsored by Foreign Policy magazine. "We will hand over power quickly -- not in years, maybe not even in months -- to give Iraqis a chance to shape their own destiny. The world will see this.''

Perle said the chances for resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict "will improve as soon as Saddam is gone,'' and asserted that afterward "we will have a very good opportunity ... to persuade Syria to stop sponsoring terrorism.

"I promise we will be more effective in that if we remove Hussein,'' Perle said, exhibiting the confidence shared by many in the administration.

Ignorance is certainly a powerful tool when used indiscriminately. The neoconservative cabal that pushed the Iraqi war obviously had no idea what would happen as an immediate consequence of the war, nor what would happen in the region as the ramifications of this act rippled and reflected off each other.

Today, Iraq is near total civil war and potential partition. Iran is strengthened and emboldened. Syria’s power in Lebanon is going to increase as Israeli warplanes make the Lebanese government more and more irrelevant. Afghanistan is slowly succumbing to a resurgent Taliban. Iran is pulling multiple strings none of which will help the United States in the region. And, finally, the ascendancy of Islamic hardliners in both democratic elections and bare-knuckled power struggles indicates that what were once marginal political groups are now accepted in the mainstream.