Wednesday, Bush is scheduled to announce a new policy. It sounds as though it'll focus on a surge in troop levels. Like so much of what he's done in Iraq, one can almost take his pick of reasons why this won't work. I will focus on the one reason most oddly passed over in the analysis and reporting I've seen.
The problem in Iraq is not a military problem. We have more military might than the opposition. The problem in Iraq is a social and political problem. The society has turned against us and there is no stable and convincing political center from which to formulate a coherent response to "the insurgency." The political forces within Iraq are not aligned to a nation-state. They are more tribal than national. And the rational response of individuals within this mileu is to align behind tribes or militias. And yet the rational thing for the individual is, of course, sadly and spectacularly irrational for the nation as a whole.
Bush has seemingly never taken the time to understand how the social dynamics of Iraq might differ from, say, the social dynamics of Switzerland. As long as he continues to think that what he faces is a military problem, he'll be unable to address this social / political problem. Curiosity may have killed the cat, but George's incuriosity about the peculiarities of social evolution and dynamics has killed thousands - with death tolls for Iraqi civilians and American soldiers rising in the last half of 2006. Like a Greek tragedy that traces its origins back to a character flaw, Iraq may become a warning about the dangers of making life and death decisions about topics for which one has no natural interest.
Sorry it's so long. You'll probably have to paste it back together.
"Irrational Is as Irrational Does"
by Richard Cohen |
Right. The fundamental problem is that our president does not understand the social dynamics of Iraq. But how could you expect him to? He's not even figured out the social dynamics of the United States.
When he said he was the "decider", many millions of people said "no, this really is a government of the people, by the people, and for the people." American's may sometimes be slow on the uptake, but they eventually rely on their core beliefs to shape their actions.
That's why the "decider" and most of those who supported him will be history in two years. Failure to understand the social dynamic of the U.S.
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