I don’t know if there is a single defining characteristic of the Administration of George W. Bush. If I had to choose one, it would be the arrogant, reckless indifference displayed by people who had no ability to appreciate or correctly forecast the likely consequences of their flawed policies. Whether it was the effects of their reckless economic, fiscal and regulatory policies or the predictable outcomes of their equally reckless foreign adventures, they showed a remarkable inability to acknowledge the likely catastrophe they set in motion.
The Bush regime believed, even boasted they could create their own reality, and the rest of us would just watch in amazement, unable to keep up. But of course, as with all arrogant regimes, the world caught up and overtook them. Yet the regime’s architects still don’t understand what they’ve done. Politico quotes Condoleeza Rice regretting that she and her boss didn’t do quite enough to rebuild the nation they systematically destroyed:
Rice, who was also national security adviser in the George W. Bush administration, said immigration reform should have been pursued quicker and is still “one of our really great problems.”And she said there should have been a greater focus on rebuilding Iraq after the overthrow of former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.“I think the overthrow of Saddam Hussein was done brilliantly, but frankly, looking back, I don’t think we thought enough about how to build the provinces and use the tribal networks once Saddam was gone,” she said. “Ultimately, there weren’t enough troops, which was why the surge was important.”
It does not seem to occur to Ms. Rice that one of the most important functions of a National Security Adviser is to think through the consequences of proposed national actions. Aside from asking whether what your boss and his militarist advisers are planning is justified by facts, laws and moral principles, the job requires you warn against measures that would destroy peoples, rulers, governments, whole cultures or institutions. You’d at least get your principals to recognize that the Pottery Barn rules apply: if you destroy something, you better be prepared to pay for it, because you probably can’t fix it.
But apparently, Ms. Rice did not understand the most basic elements of her job, and that failure cost the lives and limbs of hundreds of thousands of people. And no, no sane society would ever give someone that reckless a do-over.