Wednesday, October 1, 2003

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The management of foreign policy

[So, Dan, you've been a bit preoccupied with this Valerie Plame business. So what's your TNR Online essay going to be about?--ed.]

Go check it out for yourself. It's mentions the Plame Game -- but it's about foreign policy management in general.

posted by Dan on 10.01.03 at 06:46 PM


So you're linking to paid-only articles. Can't evaluate your opinion. I canceled my subscription to that rag when Peretz took over.

posted by: anon on 10.01.03 at 06:46 PM [permalink]

I don't think the Administration did badly at all on postwar planning. Clearly, they weren't omniscient; but they never pretended to be, stating publicly that lots of things couldn't be nailed down until after major hostilities ceased and the state of Iraq could be assessed. That's why they were accused of being secretive when they didn't say how much money would be needed for the occupation--they couldn't predict, and publicly said that they couldn't predict. As for the power grid, it was a wreck before we got there, and areas outside Baghdad got less power than they did within weeks of Saddam's fall (Saddam diverted power to Baghdad for political reasons).

In addition, their postwar planning was good enough to avoid the parade of horribles we were assured by war opponents would happen after a military victory--ethnic fighting, Iranian invasion, famines, epidemics, cats and dogs living together, etc. Honestly, things are going so well over there, compared to what I was worried about, that I'm nervous the bad guys are saving up some kind of spectacular multipoint strike to create a psychological Tet.

Certainly a more hands-on style by the President may be called for--I don't know enough about how he works to say for sure. But the dialectical approach to forming policy--people arguing with each other--may be especially important to an Administration constantly threatened with groupthink conformity due its homogeneous, corporate style and insulation from outside interaction. In short, the cure could be worse than the disease, with hands-on management and suppression of conflict leading to the disappearance of dissent and the loss of disconfirming data.

posted by: sp on 10.01.03 at 06:46 PM [permalink]

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