Bush: A 'Dissident' in His Own Government?
Posted by Shadi Hamid
I feel like I have an obligation to comment on Peter Baker’s
Washington Post piece on why/how the Bush administration’s efforts to promote
1. At best, the article's interesting in the kind of way a car crash is interesting ("car crash" refers to the Bush administration, not Baker's writing style). At worst, it's quite bad and incredibly misleading. President Bush comes out as a courageous visionary whose wonderful ideas were stilted by the State Department bureaucracy and by the government’s traditional resistance to new ideas (Poor George, he says he feels like a "dissident" within his own administration). What’s funny is that the State Department comes across as being separate than the Executive Branch, as if it was founded for no other reason than to defeat any good ideas that come out of the White House.
What’s strange, though, is that nothing of note or interest is said about Condoleezza Rice, who comes off as periphery player. She’s mentioned a few times, but only in passing, and only, it seems, so that Baker can continue with his narrative. However, over the course of 3000 words, we learn nothing about what Condi thinks about her rebellious bureaucracy. Presumably, as head of the State Department and invested with the authority granted to her by the President of the United States, she could have done something about this. It’s doubly amazing that Rice is more or less ignored by Baker, since she was central in articulating a foreign policy orientation known as “constructive instability” (a radical way of looking at the world that, while scary, isn’t altogether bad. For a primer on CI, see here and here).
2. Wait a second, wasn’t the State Department against another “new idea” in 2002? I seem to recall that there was some talk around then of invading a foreign country that had nothing to do with 9/11. I seem to also recall that the State Department bureaucracy was furious about this. President Bush was able, however, to overrule or circumvent this “resistance” because he wanted to.
3. Wait, didn’t the Bush administration just announce a $20 billion arms deal to
4. Unbelievably, Iraq gets only one mention in the whole article. This is absolutely amazing.
More to say about this, but I’ll save it for another post. Suffice it to say that Baker deserves an “understatement of the last six months” award for this unassuming nugget: “The
5. If only one good thing can come out of this article, I hope it is that someone in the White House will read it and then decide to demote Richard Boucher (read the article and you'll see why...if you like indulging dictators, though, you'll think he's a star).