Monday, January 08, 2007

Bush: a cuckoo in America's nest

Department of Psychiatry - University of Illinois at Chicago
"What’s clear is the enormous price our nation is paying for President Bush’s character flaws."
Paul Krugman - New York Times
David Seaton's News Links
I've come to the tentative conclusion that George W. Bush is some sort of "Manchurian Candidate", a cuckoo egg laid in the American nest by some foreign power that wants to manipulate the United States. There are many dark passages
in his youth where relevant documents are said to have disappeared. What if the intelligence service of a country with an ax to grind in the USA (what country doesn't?) had obtained evidence that would destroy Bush, even today, if revealed and had been blackmailing him and simultaneously propitiating his career till this day. Far fetched? Yes, certainly, but could you say that it is more far fetched than his strange behavior? To check out this theory a little farther you'd have to see if any country with a competent intelligence service is especially benefited by Bush's bizarre performance. DS

Why Hawks Win - Foreign Policy Magazine

Option A: A sure loss of $890

Option B: A 90 percent chance to lose $1,000 and a 10 percent chance to lose nothing.
In this situation, a large majority of decision makers will prefer the gamble in Option B, even though the other choice is statistically superior. People prefer to avoid a certain loss in favor of a potential loss, even if they risk losing significantly more. When things are going badly in a conflict, the aversion to cutting one’s losses, often compounded by wishful thinking, is likely to dominate the calculus of the losing side. This brew of psychological factors tends to cause conflicts to endure long beyond the point where a reasonable observer would see the outcome as a near certainty. Many other factors pull in the same direction, notably the fact that for the leaders who have led their nation to the brink of defeat, the consequences of giving up will usually not be worse if the conflict is prolonged, even if they are worse for the citizens they lead. U.S. policymakers faced this dilemma at many points in Vietnam and today in Iraq. To withdraw now is to accept a sure loss, and that option is deeply unattractive. The option of hanging on will therefore be relatively attractive, even if the chances of success are small and the cost of delaying failure is high.

Daniel Kahneman is a Nobel laureate in economics and Eugene Higgins professor of psychology and professor of public affairs at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.

Jonathan Renshon is a doctoral student in the Department of Government at Harvard University and author of Why Leaders Choose War: The Psychology of Prevention (Westport: Praeger Security International, 2006). READ IT ALL (hat to Paul Krugman)

No comments: