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Reflections on Gary Sick’s analysis of the Bush Administration’s `Grand Scheme’

July 30, 2007

 (see `Gary Sick: A Dangerous Moderate?’ just below)

I think Gary Sick has the main lines of the current US policy down pretty well. The most important thing is the very notion of a `grand scheme’, that it exists and that the Bush Administration is capable of it. So just a few thoughts that come to mind.

1. Is an idiot like the president capable of any grand scheme?

He’s not a idiot although he certainly liked to project the dumb cowboy image – he probably learned that from Reagan who was more of an idiot, capable of not much more than reading other people’s scripts as he did much of his life. Bush’s studied stupidiity doesn’t hide the mind of a genius, but he is a strategic thinker, a man with a neo-conservative plan which he has been implementing step by step. Furthermore, he’s got a team – battle-hardened from literally decades of political struggle, much of it high-level insider heavy weight stuff. And they are not idiots. Ultra-conservative ideologues yes; warmongers, advocates of torture, responsible for crimes against humanity in Iraq among other places of course. But not idiots. The team is a bit frayed right now, it ‘s taken a hit or two, but it is still in tact. Some of the names are familiar (Eliot Abrams, Cheney, Rove, but there are many behind the scenes still there and less obvious – Hadley, Wurmser and the like).

So yes the Bush Administration is capable of a grand scheme.

Not only that, but every US president since Truman has had to somehow find a balance between the Arab oil producing countries on the one hand with their strategic assets and money to invest and Israel on the other – partner in the US security equation for the region. So those who blow off the idea of a grand plan are really showing their own innocence (or political stupidity) about the US approach to the region. The grand plan is not a conspiracy – simply an attempt to rationalize conflicting economic and political interests in the region. The more a person studies the US approach to the region the less one can use expressions like `pro-Arab’, `pro-Israeli ‘. Better formulations would be `pro-Exxon’, `pro-Halliburton,’ `pro-Citibank,’ `pro-Boeing’. These do not seem to be terms that Gary Sick uses (to my knowledge) but I believe they are more relevant.

2. The New Cold War..

Sick mentions the term, cites some sources. I agree (and have developed some ideas on that below). Certainly the focus of it is as Sick states very early on in his piece:

“The essence of the argument was that the United States would attempt to sue the threat of Iran and a Shia political emergence to mobilize Arab support and perhaps even a degree of tacit Arab-Israeli cooperation. The strategy would also intend to shift attention from the US catastrophe in Iraq”

Thus the new Cold War.

Chomsky wrote a piece on Alternet arguing along similar lines and using the expression of a new Cold War as well. Chomsky, who also recently outlilned his ideas on the US grand plan for the Middle East (if I remember right in a piece in `Z’ Magazine), argues outright that the US will not attack Iran, and although Sick in this piece does not seem to speculate much on this, he seems to have a similar view (that everything will be done short of an all out attack because of the influence Iran has in Iraq).

I hope that they are correct. Wallerstein in his bi-weekly commentaries tends to agree. Although Wallerstein and Chomsky approach the situation from more of a marxist perspective and Sick (it seems to me) less so, the three share a common assumption: that one can still find a rational explanation for the current US policies in the region. I hope that they are right and it is not my style to take cheap shots at these thinkers as some colleagues now find it almost an intellectual sport to do. My concern (or put more honestly – my paranoid fear) is that this Administration acts out of an ideological perspective and vision. I cannot rule out a possible major military attack on Iran before the end of Bush’s presidency. This is especially the case with half of the armada of the US Navy hovering off Iran’s coast or within easy striking distance.

The bottom line: I’d like to see Chomsky, Sick and Wallerstein (and others) give more convincing arguments as to why the Cold War will not become a hot war. …

ok enough for now. I still think Sick’s framework is pretty solid overall and deserves consideration.

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