3.30.2007

The Costanza Doctrine

The Financial Times attempts to rationalize Bush's Iraq Policy by comparing it to George Costanza's "Opposite Theory".


The Iraq policy pursued by the Bush administration satisfies the Costanza criterion: it is the opposite of every foreign policy the world has ever met.

The Costanza doctrine is most closely associated with President George W. Bush and his first-term confidants: the wild-eyed neo-cons and the dead-eyed ultra-cons. But there is a wider group, which includes most presidential candidates and many of Washington’s foreign policy elite, who are not fully paid-up subscribers to the doctrine but went along with it nonetheless. Allied governments in London, Madrid and Canberra also signed up.

In “The Opposite”, George breaches the most fundamental laws in his universe – for example, the age-old principle that “bald men with no jobs and no money, who live with their parents, don’t approach strange women”.

Similarly, in its geopolitical incarnation, adherents to the Costanza doctrine cast aside many of the fundamental tenets they learnt at staff college or graduate school. Let me name a few.

This is a very clever little editorial, but this isn't the Bush Administration's reason for staying in Iraq. We're staying because Bush and his supporters are hoping against reason that they will be proven right. And if they fail that, then they hope to cloud the issue enough to weave a narrative that proves them correct.

I'm not sure that the "Opposite Episode" represents the Bush Administration accurately. I think I would suggest the "Revenge Episode" when Costanza travels halfway across the United States in an attempt to deliver a clever one-line response to a man that disrespected him in New York. Basically, the man makes fun of George Costanza in a meeting and doesn't think of a retort until several hours later. So, he sets up a meeting with the guy in the Midwest and sets himself up so the guy makes the same joke again and Costanza delivers his clever one-liner. And, of course, he gets zinged again and can't come up with a clever response until several hours later.

This, in a nutshell, is the Bush Republican's response to Vietnam and the first Iraq War. We would've "won" Vietnam if we argued that those hippies didn't "support our troops". We would've really won the first Iraq War if *that* Bush had the balls to march our guys right into Baghdad and toss Saddam out.

It's unfortunate that this Administration's foreign policy draws so many comparisons to a terrific sitcom. Meanwhile, Iraq continues to spiral into oblivion and nobody is supposed to mention it because it might make our sensitive little troops upset. This isn't a sitcom, it's a bit closer to Greek Tragedy at this point...

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