Tuesday, August 17, 2004


I must say, I love Fareed Zakaria (international editor of Newsweek). He always has the most fascinating insight into Middle Eastern politics, and is one of the few big media pundits I actually respect. Anyway. Check out his commentary today about how the issue of "nuance" in context of this whole "real men don't wage "sensitive" wars" factors into this week's Kerry bashing by Bush/Cheney. snips:

The more intelligent question is (given what we knew at the time): Was toppling Hussein's regime a worthwhile objective? Bush's answer is yes; Howard Dean's is no. Kerry's answer is that it was a worthwhile objective but was disastrously executed. For this "nuance" Kerry has been attacked from both the right and the left. But it happens to be the most defensible position on the subject...

Bush's position is that if Kerry agrees with him that Hussein was a problem, then Kerry agrees with his Iraq policy. Doing something about Iraq meant doing what Bush did. But is that true? Did the United States have to go to war before the weapons inspectors had finished their job? Did it have to junk the U.N. process? Did it have to invade with insufficient troops to provide order and stability in Iraq? Did it have to occupy a foreign country with no cover of legitimacy from the world community? Did it have to ignore the State Department's postwar planning? Did it have to pack the Iraqi Governing Council with unpopular exiles, disband the army and engage in radical de-Baathification? Did it have to spend a fraction of the money allocated for Iraqi reconstruction -- and have that be mired in charges of corruption and favoritism? Was all this an inevitable consequence of dealing with the problem
of Saddam Hussein?

He then poins out an intriguing truism (illustrated in a book called "Execution", by Larry Bossidy, former chief executive of Honeywell) . In the business world, "it's widely understood that having a good objective means nothing if you implement it badly". But in order to create a culture that ferments good execution on big ideas, you have to encourage robust dialogue through frank, open-minded discussion of reality, where key underlying assumptions are challenged. As Zakaria puts it, "Say this in the business world and it is considered wisdom. But say it as a politician and it is derided as "nuance" or "sophistication." Perhaps that's why Washington works as poorly as it does. "

Obviously, this is one of the little bits of corporate "wisdom" Shrub never quite picked up while running several businesses into the ground. I'd expect more from Cheney, though.

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