A perfect example of the absurd inanities uttered by 'tough' foreign policy advocates was offered by Bush National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley. In a New York Times article published today Mr. Hadley favored us with a gem of sage opinion that undoubtedly exemplifies the quality of advice he has been sharing with Bush for the last several years. In an article reporting that the Baker Iraq Study Group would recommend that the U.S. talk with Iran and Syria in an attempt to improve the situation in Iraq Mr. Hadley, in his wisdom, emitted this pearl: "'Talking isn’t a strategy,' he said...." My goodness, here is an insight so blindingly brilliant that it will surely be heard round the world: "Talking isn't a strategy." Many of us will be glad that Mr. Hadley has disabused us of the belief, certainly widely held, that 'talking' is a strategy.
I frankly have difficulty understanding how this nonsense is reported without some critical comment. Clearly, no one in their right mind thought 'talking' was a strategy, and yet the National Security Advisor of the United States of America is apparently allowed to erect this strawman and deftly knock it to the ground without comment by the New York Times. Apparently Mr. Hadley does believe that NOT talking to our opponents is a strategy because the Bush administration has pursued this 'strategy' all over the world: they haven't talked (much) to the North Koreans, they haven't talked to the Iranians, they currently aren't talking to the Syrians, they refuse to deal with the democratically elected Hamas government of the Palestinians, they have ignored the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for six years, etc. The Bush administration didn't even have a strategic vision for their war of choice in Iraq; and THEY are enlightening the rest of us benighted auditors on what is and what is not a strategy?
Such inane, knee-jerk opposition to talks and negotiations with our foreign opponents is a prime part of the explanation of Why Pseudo-Conservatives Can't Do Foreign Policy.