January 11, 2007

Cynical or Delusional?

From Paul Krugman in the NYT:
The only real question about the planned “surge” in Iraq — which is better described as a Vietnam-style escalation — is whether its proponents are cynical or delusional.

Senator Joseph Biden, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, thinks they’re cynical. He recently told The Washington Post that administration officials are simply running out the clock, so that the next president will be “the guy landing helicopters inside the Green Zone, taking people off the roof.”

Daniel Kahneman, who won the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Science for his research on irrationality in decision-making, thinks they’re delusional. Mr. Kahneman and Jonathan Renshon recently argued in Foreign Policy magazine that the administration’s unwillingness to face reality in Iraq reflects a basic human aversion to cutting one’s losses — the same instinct that makes gamblers stay at the table, hoping to break even.

Of course, such gambling is easier when the lives at stake are those of other people’s children.
So, which is it? Cynically running out the clock until he can dump the unimaginable disaster in someone else's lap, or is Bush delusional, with a congenital inability to admit utter failure?

Or, as is likely, is it a little of both?

And which is worse?


At 1/12/2007 9:27 AM, Anonymous running on empty said...

I'm hoping it's cynicism. That way, I can hold on to the belief that he at least secretly admits this thing has been a complete debacle.

I was surprised when he mentioned Iran and Syria in his speech on Wednesday, but I don't see the comments as direct imminent threats to those nations (maybe I'm too optimistic). However, if irrationality is really driving his decision making, then folks like Mr. Olbermann could be right in sounding the alarm bells about possible attacks on Iran/Syria. That, to me, makes irrationality the worse scenario.


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