George Bush’s Meditation on Strategic Wisdom

12 09 2007

From an excerpt of Dead Certain: The Presidency of George Bush by Robert Draper.

“The job of the president,” he continued, through an ample wad of bread and sausage, “is to think strategically so that you can accomplish big objectives. As opposed to playing mini-ball. You can’t play mini-ball with the influence we have and expect there to be peace. You’ve gotta think, think BIG. The Iranian issue,” he said as bread crumbs tumbled out of his mouth and onto his chin, “is the strategic threat right now facing a generation of Americans, because Iran is promoting an extreme form of religion that is competing with another extreme form of religion. Iran’s a destabilizing force. And instability in that part of the world has deeply adverse consequences, like energy falling in the hands of extremist people that would use it to blackmail the West. And to couple all of that with a nuclear weapon, then you’ve got a dangerous situation. … That’s what I mean by strategic thought. I don’t know how you learn that. I don’t think there’s a moment where that happened to me. I really don’t. I know you’re searching for it. I know it’s difficult. I do know—y’know, how do you decide, how do you learn to decide things? When you make up your mind, and you stick by it—I don’t know that there’s a moment, Robert. I really—You either know how to do it or you don’t. I think part of this is it: I ran for reasons. Principled reasons. There were principles by which I will stand on. And when I leave this office I’ll stand on them. And therefore you can’t get driven by polls. Polls aren’t driven by principles. They’re driven by the moment. By the nanosecond.”

Now compare that with the Economist said about Washington and Tehran this week.

The more George Bush flounders in Iraq, the greater his temptation to blame Iran. On August 28th he called Iran the world’s leading supporter of terrorism, claimed that its nuclear programme had put the Middle East “under the shadow of a nuclear holocaust” and authorised his commanders to confront Iran’s “murderous activities”. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iran’s president, sounds almost as if he is goading Mr Bush to attack. As a “master of tabulation and calculation”, he told Iranian students this week, he had concluded that the country’s enemies “dare not fight us”.

Hmm….this sounds like a dangerous game of chicken.

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