Bicycle Diaries: Spiny George

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25.1.07

Spiny George


A good buddy who now works in DC sent me this Soviet era propaganda poster. It reminded me of Spiny Norman, the hedgehog that shadows Monty Python's delusional Dinsdale Piranha. The poster declares, I have my own opinion. That reminds me of our delusional president's State of the Union performance on Tuesday night.


Yesterday, Bush's speech also reminded The Washington Post's Harold Meyerson of a hedgehog; but of a different sort altogether. His op-ed piece used Isaiah Berlin's famous distinction between foxes and hedgehogs to criticize Bush's Iraq war policy. Below are the relevant excerpts.
In Isaiah Berlin's typology of leaders, Bush isn't merely a hedgehog who knows one thing rather than many things. He's a delusional hedgehog who knows one thing that isn't so.

In the war itself, meanwhile, our current policy has achieved new depths of senselessness. The administration is lining up support from our longtime Sunni allies in the region -- Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt in particular -- as a buffer against the spreading influence of Shiite Iran within Iraq and across the Middle East. Inside Iraq, meanwhile, we have cast our lot with the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, a sectarian Shiite with long-standing ties to Iran, and hedged our bet by cultivating the support of another Shiite leader, Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, who is even closer to Iran.

This isn't an example of Kissingerian subtlety -- waging the Cold War, for instance, by tilting toward China over the Soviet Union. This is an example of world-class incoherence, entirely of our own making. We charged into Iraq with some dim sense that Hussein's successor government would be headed by representatives of the long-persecuted Shiite majority, but we assumed that comity would prevail between the Shiites and the displaced Sunnis.

Then we rendered that dicey proposition all but impossible by sacking the Iraqi army and most of the civil service -- in effect, plunging the Sunni population into mass unemployment with no prospect of reemployment. We fed the Sunni resistance, which fed the Shiite retaliation.

This is foreign policy as nonsense, as the American people have apparently figured out.

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