Bushs Learning Problem
When I was a kid learning to play chess, I couldnt wait to move my queen. She was the most powerful piece on the board, so I wasted no time using her to attack.
Guess what? On his next turn, my opponent captured her. It hurt my little feelings, but those were the rules. I soon learned to take into account the danger that if I exposed her too soon, I would lose her. When you move a piece, you have to think about how your opponent may respond to it.
I guess President Bush never learned that lesson.
A few years ago, he was using expressions like regime change, axis of evil, global democratic revolution, and ridding the earth of tyranny without stopping to think how his opponents might react. He apparently thought they would realize he meant business and fold.
Slight miscalculation. As a North Korean general told an American reporter, We see what youre doing to Iraq. Well, youre not going to do it to us!
It seems that Kim Jong Il, a pretty evil sort of guy, wasnt in any mood for regime change, or democratic revolution, so he drew his own practical conclusion from Bushs words: Id better get me some nukes!
Im not saying he was right, but I see his point. You shouldnt need a high-tech crystal ball to predict that if you threaten to overthrow all the tyrants on earth, some of them are going to take countermeasures. Bush may not be the brightest bulb on the circuit, but why didnt anyone in his circle of geopolitical wizards foresee what his tough talk would provoke? Are they flabbergasted that North Korea accelerated its weapons program and may now have barged uninvited into the exclusive nuclear club? The regime that was once to the international community what Pluto is to the solar system may suddenly have acquired new stature.
Bush has responded with his usual resolve: this is unacceptable. Do tell! Well, we sort of knew that. Even the Communist Chinese, also members of the club not to mention the South Koreans and Japanese are alarmed at the prospect of having a nuclear-armed crackpot next door. Condoleezza Rice is probably taking the news pretty hard too.
If only Kim had known Bush would find his nukes unacceptable, he might have changed his ways and held free elections! But it may be too late for that now. Too bad. It would have been inspiring to see millions of emaciated North Koreans triumphantly holding up purple forefingers as they emerged from the voting booths. Alas, the prospects for democracy in North Korea remain, for the time being, dim.
This is only the latest achievement for Bushs foreign policy, matching his transformation of the new (and democratic) Middle East. Now that the Iraqi peoples aspirations to freedom have been realized, it would seem that there are no more worlds to conquer. If only the liberal media would report the positive developments, instead of making it sound as if the streets of liberated Baghdad are unsafe!
William Schwenck Gilbert, of Gilbert and Sullivan, once complained to the president of a railway company, Sunday morning, though recurring at frequent and well-established intervals, always seems to take this railway by surprise. And the most predictable patterns of human behavior, in the same way, always seem to take the Bush administration by surprise. For it, as for Scarlett OHara, tomorrow is always another day, and it never allows the past to darken its irrepressible optimism about the future.
Finally, the question must be faced: Is this man all there? If Kim is crazy, what is Bush? This is not a jeer. Experience reality seems to teach him nothing. Its beyond political ideology; maybe its a religious delusion reinforced by an inner circle of sycophants the madness of King George, as it were.
Bushs actions and policies get increasingly hard to defend. Old allies edge away from him. People who wish him well hardly know what to say. New revelations, as in Bob Woodwards State of Denial, confirm the disturbing impression of inflexible dysfunction and refusal (or inability) to contemplate alternatives. Its symptomatic that he cant imagine how the world looks to his enemies, whom he can describe only in rigidly moralistic terms, as if they must know how evil they are.
Sensible statesmen dont act this way. Neither do normal people.
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