I’ve long believed that creating problems in order to struggle with their consequences was a purely Russian tradition. Like, for instance, the notorious Gorbachev’s “anti-alcohol campaign.” Its only visible result had been a dramatic increase in consumption of poisonous alcoholic surrogates, now the cause of death of more than 40,000 Russians annually.
However, the six years of the Bush administration have convinced me otherwise. More than once, the Bush’s White House demonstrated what Barbara Tuchman famously called “the pursuit by governments of policies contrary to their own interest” (The March of Folly, 1984).
The Iraq adventure is case in point. It’s hard to argue that one of the most obvious geopolitical consequences of toppling the Saddam Hussein regime has been an increasingly embolden Iran. Undeterred anymore by its fallen historical rival, Iran is now spending its resources – that would have otherwise been spent on containing Iraq – to assert its domination in the Gulf.
The Bush foreign policy team seems to have finally, however grudgingly, accepted this reality. But their reaction has been yet another folly. It was reported that the United States will provide billions of dollars in advanced weapons to Israel, Egypt and Saudi Arabia. The White House believes that this will pacify Iran and persuade it to halt its nuclear programs.
Has Condoleezza Rice ever heard about what happens when fuel is added to fire? But, quoting again Barbara Tuchman, “… the power to command frequently causes failure to think … Serious thought is not a habit of governments.”
There is an additional aspect of the arm deal: billions of dollars of military help will go to Egypt and Saudi Arabia, two of the most repressive regimes in the region. So much for the democracy promotion in the Middle East!