04 December 2006

Bush Will Send Us to Endgame Without The Advantage (CS)

When we watch spy films, caper movies, or international espionage thrillers or read novels with complicated intrigue, the most admirable characters and connivers with impressively executed plans are those who plan ahead, see all the elements in play, and manage to have contingency plans and a deep web of deceit to ensnare their opposition. An easy comparison (made sometimes implicitly or explicitly in movies or novels like that) is to a chess player. The analogy is made because chess is a game of advanced strategy wherein focus, territory and guile are key traits necessary for success. The relationship of chess to international policy and warfare, even without considering its tradition as a means of teaching war strategy, should be readily apparent. Leave it, then, to one of the greatest chess players of all time to point out how United States policy has failed in Iraq.

Important to note within Kasparov's analysis is how he is critical of America's pinhole focus not only temporally and geographically, but in terms of affecting international opinion towards America and thus toward a viable international strategy against terrorism and fanaticism:
Any intervention causes resentment, and even many traditional allies oppose U.S. plans almost out of hand. America's overly proactive foreign policy has also allowed other nations to avoid responsibility for their own safety, and to avoid making the tough decisions that come with that responsibility.

From the outset of the war with Iraq, liberals were criticized for being too concerned with international opinion and attitudes. An example was often made of the typically flaccid and ineffectual United Nations. And yet, at the same time that conservatives damned the logic of working with the international community, they praised Bush's creation of a "Coalition of the Willing" which was, essentially, an appeal to that very international community which they disdained out the other side of their mouth.

If it was not bad enough that American bullheadedness pushed away potential allies, keeping up untenable policies in Iraq has alienated many of those who were willing to be part of the "coalition" in the first place. Even those who should be our closest allies, like England, are feeling the doubt. Meanwhile, our allies in the region of the Middle East become increasingly nervous. Because of President Bush's unwillingness to consider these relationships or to garner new ones, we may be on the precipice of disaster in the region without a single friend to turn to.

And what of NATO? Here is an international organization that conservatives have been so proud of for keeping Communism in check during the Cold War. Now, their mission in Afghanistan is one of the most important ones on the international stage, despite how American media may try to ignore it. The recent NATO meeting in Latvia would have been a great moment to use international capital to leverage those countries who have been trepidatious into a more aggressive and cooperative stance in the region. Instead, the summit was "divided" and any attempts to pressure less involved countries "had only a modest impact." America may still easily be "by far the strongest external power in the Middle East," but it cannot succeed entirely alone, as conditions in Iraq and the South-east of Afghanistan are proving.

The problem that these politicians ironically can't seem to realize is that they are dealing with democratic leaders in many of these cases who must keep their voters satisfied in order to retain the power they hold. Our image to the people of democratic nations from whom we would desire help in international struggles actually does matter. I would rather not play politics with the voting bases of every democracy out there (I'm trepidatious about the nature of the political game solely in the U.S.), but the reality of leveraging international forces in an age of public image, hyper-media, and hyper-aware populi requires it.

Go ahead and read Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's letter. It is, after all, addressed to us, the American people (an intelligent stroke in itself). He talks of peace, democracy, and freedom... He voices disappointment at violations of human rights, promises broken by the U.S. administration, and the unfortunate situation for our servicemen and women in Iraq. He rhetorically slams Bush while praising us and he damn nearly pulls it off, particularly where he points out how the prolonged war in Iraq is destroying the prospect of any fruitful domestic agenda. This is the image he is (at least more succesfully than President Bush) showing, not only to us, but to the rest of the world, particularly the Middle East.

And yet there are strong indications that Iran continues to seek nuclear weapons. Ahmadinejad continually hints at destroying Israel (even in the "peaceful" letter to the American people, if you read between the lines). Most recently, there are reports of censorship as Iran joins the ranks of the "enemies of the internet." Without a sullied image, the U.S. could easily show Ahmadinejad incapable of putting his money where his mouth is without losing power in his own country. We could prove through democracy that he cannot, ultimately, stand for it.

As it is, though, Ahmadinejad is proving himself capable of playing the game. We've left an opening and he is taking it. In chess at its highest levels of skill, every mistake is vital. On the international stage, the United States has made many blunders. Still, though Iran would like to initiate a sort of endgame (and as Republicans seem largely willing to play right into their hands), there is still time to reconsider and mount a viable defense. It will take, however, plans that consider all pieces in play and where they currently lie.

Sensible and strategic minds can see that the Bush administration has been more than a national security disaster... It is, at this point, an international security disaster. Those who have opposed Bush in this country don't want to lose. Republicans shouldn't be so ridiculous. We're just considering the whole board. How else are we to achieve checkmate?


Blogger Brendan said...

This is like the crown jewel of political thought on the internet to this point ... your one error was leaving out any sort of illustration, thus ensuring that it will never be read by President Bush.

Bravo, esteemed colleague.

12/04/2006 2:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Doublespeak. Plain and simple.

12/05/2006 11:08 AM  
Blogger aarrgghh said...

it would seem that the necons have a handicap with strategies requiring more than one move.

12/05/2006 11:43 AM  
Blogger Brendan said...

Seems more like they believe one move, executed visibly and forcefully enough will make all potential opponents scatter and cower in fear and deter any future challenge. One of the primary pitfalls of thinking you're on a mission from Jesus.

12/05/2006 12:00 PM  
Blogger zencomix said...

They fail to realize that the Triple Pawn Defense won't work, particularly if the Pawns keep dying.

12/05/2006 12:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We're in a Zugzwang.

12/05/2006 12:26 PM  
Blogger Matt said...

If somebody could translate this into checkerspeak and forward it to the White House, we might just get out of this mess.

12/05/2006 12:50 PM  
Anonymous {õ£õ} said...

We are Far from ZZ anon!
The US game is so completely fubar in the region that we will likely lose billions of dollars in weapons left behind during a hasty retreat.

What's worse, it is now possible the entire US force may become trapped in Iraq with now way out.

12/05/2006 12:58 PM  
Anonymous Praedor said...

Matt, Matt, Matt...you're aiming too high:

If somebody could translate this into checkerspeak and forward it to the White House, we might just get out of this mess.

If it can be translated into Tic-Tac-Toe-speak, THEN Bush might be able to comprehend it.

Checkers...Bush...Hah! Too complex, too many pieces to deal with.

12/05/2006 1:24 PM  
Anonymous Praedor said...

Matt, Matt, Matt...you're aiming too high:
If somebody could translate this into checkerspeak and forward it to the White House, we might just get out of this mess.
If it can be translated into Tic-Tac-Toe-speak, THEN Bush might be able to comprehend it.

Checkers...Bush...Hah! Too complex, too many pieces to deal with.

12/05/2006 1:24 PM  
Blogger Craig said...

the comments building up here express the opinion many of us have... The Bush administration's view of the world and how to exert influence within it is anything but nuanced. We could be accused of acting superior, if only all the evidence didn't back us up.
The Right Wing has contended that Bush is not an idiot. Personally, I think he has a very specific intelligence (how to operate/advance within the good ol' boys club) which only goes so far. But even supposing the propaganda that Bush is "just a regular guy"... Why should that make him worthy of the job? or capable? We are, after all, talking about the HIGHEST office in the land.

12/05/2006 6:15 PM  
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