They hate you and they want you dead. Don’t worry, it isn’t personal, it’s just that the people who run the foreign policy establishment in Washington DC hate any good idea, and good ideas in foreign policy save lives. They hate you because you keep demanding things of them that they cannot do. You want safety, you want security, and you want “social justice”. You cannot get all of them, if you get safety and security, you won’t get social justice, if you get social justice, you will be subject to terror attacks.
If you want to go work in Washington in foreign policy, you have to understand that the industry does not want good ideas, in fact it actively hates them. There are people in this town who do nothing but go around and actively try to crush any good idea before it gets momentum. Most of these people are the ones in positions responsible for implementing or generating new ideas.
Why? Because good ideas make them look bad. Imagine the gall of some 20-year-old from a flyover state coming to Washington and having the audacity to have an idea that blows away the stale, crusty, dysfunctional ones the old men in the room had 30 years ago. How dare he! Who does he think he is anyway? You have to go to Harvard and then kiss establishment ass for 20 years in order to rate having an idea!
Why not steal the good ideas from the kids and use them you say? Too much work. By the time you go to Harvard and spend 20+ years kissing establishment ass, you are so tired and drained by the ordeal you have no more energy to actually implement anything. Any good idea implies change, almost always. So what it would save the lives of soldiers and civilians? What are they anyway? Really, after you spend 20 years or so in the foreign policy establishment in Washington, they are just statistics to you anyway. Nothing but numbers. The “good” news about working for the government is that good numbers or bad numbers won’t get you fired or promoted like in the private sector, seniority is all that matters.
So you say, I have a complaint against the foreign policy establishment in Washington. I’ve worked on projects ranging from briefs on Suuni and Shia divisions to a victory plan in Afghanistan, a disarmament plan for Iran, and Israeli arms sales. I’ve met with a lot of think tank “thinkers” and foreign policy people, worked in a couple Congressional offices, and pitched books to academicians. Maybe I just have a personal grudge. Well, you have to understand, it isn’t just that the policy establishment is geared to not accept new ideas, it is that there is a big bully in the room that distorts the industry and destroys it’s ability to function. That bully is, ironically, the Federal Government.
Let’s say you have actually been to a conflict zone in the Middle East or elsewhere. You don’t think of American casualties as numbers or statistics, but as faces. Let’s say you know people in other countries, have traveled overseas, speak multiple languages, have dealt with a foreign government… You have the makings of someone who really knows a lot about international relations. You are a good candidate for a foreign policy expert in Washington, right? Wrong.
Sorry, but you won’t get a security clearance, because even if you check out, it is so much more work for some lazy, under-incentivized bureaucrat to check you out that they won’t bother. They will throw you in the reject pile and grab the guy who has never left his small home town in the middle of Iowa.
I have nothing against Iowa, but a guy who has been in the Middle East will be a better Middle East expert than a guy who has never left the Midwest. Problem is, if you’ve been to the Middle East, you are harder to check out and you can forget about working in foreign policy.
Now let’s add ideology. In order to determine who is a good candidate to become a new “expert” when one of the old men finally kicks off to his eternal reward after taking up a slot for 90 years, we select out of certain universities. These are universities that happen to have a huge ideological bent in one direction, and it shows in policy decisions.
The main thing people learn in these institutions is that nobody should ever be offended. Judgement between people groups is evil, morality is relative, no idea is necessarily better than any other, and that since we cannot judge between people (including based on actual performance), other substitutes to performance, like seniority, become the factors that lead to promotion.
Washington wants you dead because it dare not offend people by profiling them. Instead, it will use a less safe and more costly system of checking everybody, including grandma. I have been in and out of Ben Gurion International Airport many times. It happens to be the number one terror target of all time, if you count actually thwarted attempts or plans. It also happens to be very quick, efficient, convenient, and safe to use. You stand in line for security about half as long as a comparable American airport (they don’t like lines at Ben Gurion because they don’t want too many people packed into one spot in case a suicide bomber somehow gets through their outer rings of security).
This is possible because they use multiple, concretic rings of security based on the principle of profiling for likely terrorists. This is a system designed to stop a terror attack rather than just prosecuting the leftovers after the carnage is cleared. Men with automatic pistols wander about the loading areas, not intercepting everybody, but selectively striking up conversations with those they think look suspicious, others stand in doorways and don’t stop everybody, only those they have been trained to spot as being too nervous, with odd body language, or coming from groups likely to include terrorists. Then they screen the bags, and remember, they hate lines because they don’t want lots of people in one place. A security officer can and will move an entire line and ticketing counter over in order to reduce the people in one area, or demand that an airline provide more people to handle the ticketing faster if a long line is developing. I bet you never thought of a line at the ticketing counter as a security concern, huh?
Beyond that, there are other layers, one inside the other as you proceed. The basic principle though is that not everybody is checked in the same way. They discriminate based on statistical probabilities. They use police methodology to look for certain behavior and body language, and they profile everybody. This requires more skilled personnel who have to be paid more (and who are much more polite, knowledgable and professional than TSA screeners), but since they are not buying incredibly expensive full body scanners, they actually save money. Leave it to the Department of Homeland Security to make you less safe for more money.
So you are less safe, you are more likely to die. You are a human sacrifice. You will die, so that others need not be offended. Get used to it, Washington wants you to die.
You have people working in Washington who were chosen for their position because it was easier for a bureaucrat to do a background investigation on them than because of their expertise. They come from certain schools because they usually have the family contacts to do so. They are trained up in their field by an insular academia to whom humans are at best statistics and at worst, a plague on our green mother Earth that should decrease in number. They are given honors in school based on how well they emulate, parrot, and copy the ideas of the old establishment, and given jobs in Washington based on how well they kiss ass. And you wonder why we have no national security strategy to worth mentioning?
Grand strategy? Security of our citizens? Plan for dealing with border security? Plan for victory in our war against Islamism? Plan for exiting Afghanistan? What are you talking about? We operate under foreign policy ideas left over from the mid Cold War era because the geriocracy dates from that period. It is tainted with ideas like the TSA’s operating principle that it is better to kill you than offend someone else because the new generation comes from religiously ideological and insular schools, and has no experience in the field whatsoever. When a random good idea does pop up by some mistake, it is stomped on so that it doesn’t make others look bad, and the creator told to wait his turn for 20 years or so while Americans die.
This is how your foreign policy establishment operates. The real problem is you. You want bipartisanship even though it really means watering everything down to a lowest common denominator rather than going with a good idea. You want social justice even though it is costing you lives. You want to feel good about not offending people even though it compromises your own security. You have not made enough noise about foreign policy in Washington. Even this tea party movement of the last year has focused on taxes and the deficit, not security. You are ok with how things are going even as you are fondled at airports and your protectors in uniform are dying by the day. You have not demanded something better. Well, I hope you are happy!