Brent Scrowcroft says important things in the New Yorker. Go read.
OK. First, the color commentary. If you saw the last Bond flick, Die Another Day, you’ll remember the climactic father-son confrontation on board a burning cargo plane. That’s what I think is going on here, minus the part where the son electrocutes the father with an armored satellite laser vest.
This article also matters because it provides important backstory behind why people in this administration do what they do.
For example, Condoleeza Rice:
The disintegrating relationship between Scowcroft and Condoleezza Rice has not escaped the notice of their colleagues from the first Bush Administration. She was a political-science professor at Stanford when, in 1989, Scowcroft hired her to serve as a Soviet expert on the National Security Council. Scowcroft found her bright—“brighter than I was”—and personable, and he brought her all the way inside, to the Bush family circle. When Scowcroft published his Wall Street Journal article, Rice telephoned him, according to several people with knowledge of the call. “She said, ‘How could you do this to us?’ ” a Scowcroft friend recalled. “What bothered Brent more than Condi yelling at him was the fact that here she is, the national-security adviser, and she’s not interested in hearing what a former national-security adviser had to say.”
The two worked closely in the first Bush Administration, although Rice tended to take a tougher line than Scowcroft on Soviet issues. Robert Gates, then Scowcroft’s deputy and Rice’s boss, recalled how he and Rice would argue with Scowcroft in 1990 and 1991, during the period when Boris Yeltsin, as the elected leader of the Russian republic, became a rival to the Soviet leader, Mikhail Gorbachev. “Condi and I felt very strongly about reaching beyond Gorbachev,” he said. “Brent and Baker believed you could only deal with one President of the Soviet Union at a time.”
Rice’s conversion to the world view of George W. Bush is still a mystery, however. Privately, many of her ex-colleagues from the first President Bush’s National Security Council say that it is rooted in her Christian faith, which leads her to see the world in moralistic terms, much as the President does. Although she was tutored by a national-security adviser, Scowcroft, who thought it intemperate of Ronald Reagan to call the Soviet Union an “evil empire,” she now works comfortably for a President who speaks in terms of “evildoers” and the “axis of evil.”
Seriously, go read. It’s worth it.
When it comes to online debate I usually dismiss somebody who frames their opponent as ‘evil.’ Yes, this applies as much to liberals as to conservatives. It’s intellectually lazy and it gets in the way of understanding the real and often rational reasons why people do things. Further, in a fight not understanding your opponent usually goes along with losing. There’s no reason why that same rule shouldn’t apply equally well to politics.
Cole’s LawTim F’s Law , after the proprietor hereabouts. For a crucial precedent see Godwin v. Usenet.
Christopher Hitchens counterpoints the specific criticisms leveled by Scrowcroft. On goes the increasingly open war between the camps of Bush pere et fils.
Keep in mind when criticizing Scrowcroft that the man traditionally served and continues to serve as a cutout for George H.W. Bush himself.
Balloon Juice scholars have informed me that there already exists a Cole’s Law. In order to forestall a constitutional crisis, I propose the following as Tim F’s Law:
In the context of a debate, calling another’s motivations ‘evil’ should be considered synonymous with, ‘I don’t understand and am too lazy to find out.’