Shadi Hamid on Peter Baker’s weird theory that opposition from foreign service professions wrecked Bush’s strategy of democracy promotion:
Wait a second, wasn’t the State Department against another “new idea” in 2002? I seem to recall that there was some talk around then of invading a foreign country that had nothing to do with 9/11. I seem to also recall that the State Department bureaucracy was furious about this. President Bush was able, however, to overrule or circumvent this “resistance” because he wanted to. Iraq was his priority. I don’t doubt that Bush is sincere in his commitment to democracy, but I’m under no illusions that it was ever a top priority of his, or that it took precedence over more “tangible” strategic interests…like, um, supporting dictators with billions of dollars, something which Bush has proven quite fond of.
Right. Similarly, one doubts that the professional bureaucracy in the Treasury Department has been wildly enthusiastic about Bush’s tax-and-budget policies or that folks in the EPA love Bush’s environmental policies. The dominant views of the civil service, the foreign service, the uniformed military, and the intelligence community all really do matter in Washington, but Bush has time and again shown an ability to get his way when he’s determined to. The democracy agenda didn’t make it through the grinder because there was no agenda.