Sunday, July 5, 2015

Beware of stage 1 thinking


Yoram Ettinger
 National security and foreign policymakers should study a critical lesson from the medical profession: The failure to think beyond the stage one effect of painkillers may solve short-term problems but will trigger long-term health risks: addiction, organ damage, nausea, headaches, dizziness, memory impairment and decreased cognitive performance.

National security and foreign policymakers should also heed the following observation by Thomas Sowell: "When most voters do not think beyond stage one, many elected officials have no incentive to weigh what the consequences will be in later stages. ... These reactions would lead to consequences much less desirable than those at stage one. ... Most thinking stops at stage one."
Sowell argues that "basic economics is generally misapplied because politicians think only in stage one -- the immediate result of an action, without determining what happens next. Many politicians cannot see beyond stage one because they do not think beyond the next election."

However, the track record of Western national security and foreign policymakers documents such shortsightedness: a tendency to sacrifice long-term considerations, complexity, principles and interests on the altar of short-term, stage one convenience and oversimplification. They ignore the glaring writing on the wall and lessons of the recent past.

The late chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Democratic Senator Daniel Inouye, detected the shortsightedness and self-destructive conduct of Israeli and U.S. policymakers regarding the Palestinian issue. He lamented his own participation -- at the request of then-President Bill Clinton -- in the September 1993 Oslo Accord signing ceremony: "While most participants rejoice the Rabin-Arafat handshake of the moment, I fear that in the long run it could lead to a funeral procession of the Jewish state."

Contrary to Inouye, Israeli and U.S. policymakers did not weigh the long-term consequences. Israel's eagerness to conclude the Oslo Accord with Palestinian leaders Mahmoud Abbas and Yasser Arafat was a stage one, short-lived pain reliever. As predicted by Inouye, the snappy stage one was succeeded by a second stage and long-term national security predicaments: "organ damage" (unprecedented Palestinian noncompliance, hate education and terrorism), "headaches" (intensified international pressure), "dizziness" (eroded posture of deterrence), ‎‎"memory impairment, nausea and decreased cognitive performance" ‎‎(addiction to further sweeping concessions, to the Palestine Liberation Organization and Syria, by Prime Ministers Yitzhak Rabin, Shimon Peres, Ehud Barak, Ariel Sharon, Ehud Olmert and Benjamin Netanyahu, as well as U.S. Presidents Clinton and Barack Obama), recklessly ignoring the thundering Palestinian mission statement, featured prominently in Abbas' school textbooks, mosques and media: It's the existence -- not the size -- of Israel!

"Peace in our time" -- and not thinking beyond stage one -- has channeled U.S. zeal into making a deal with the ayatollahs. 
U.S. policymakers assume that a nuclear Iran would act rationally and could be contained. They believe that a constructive agreement can be achieved at stage one without a dramatic, long-term transformation of the nature of the ayatollahs. They underestimate the deep roots of the overtly anti-U.S., apocalyptic, terrorist, subversive, expansionist, supremacist, repressive, deceitful and noncompliant nature of the ayatollah regime.

Therefore, they assume that just like the USSR, a nuclear Iran would be deterred by mutual assured destruction. However, unlike the USSR, the ayatollahs are driven by martyrdom and apocalypse. They are enticed -- not deterred -- by MAD. A conventional Iran is controllable, but a threshold Iran would be chaotically uncontrollable.
U.S. policymakers focus on a stage one agreement with the ayatollahs, overlooking the staggering second stage cost to vital U.S. interests of the U.S., thereby playing directly into the hands of the ayatollahs. The cost to the U.S. is spelled out in the heinous anti-U.S. writing, in bold, 40-point letters, written on the Ayatollah Wall, which was erected in 1979. It is reflected by the ayatollahs' track record, domestically, regionally and globally, including Death to America Day, observed annually on November 4 and featuring the burning of U.S. flags and photographs of U.S. presidents.

Stage-one-thinking policymaking could yield an uplifting ceremony in Lausanne. However, the succeeding stages would transform the ayatollahs into a threshold nuclear power, compounding the existing lethal threats to global sanity and paving the road to nuclear war.