Friday, March 30, 2007
The Costanza Doctrine
As he notes, the "Costanza doctrine" "recalls the classic episode of the TV comedy Seinfeld, “The Opposite”, in which George Costanza temporarily improves his fortunes by rejecting all the principles according to which he has lived his life and
doing the opposite of what his training indicates he should do."
He goes on to say, "The Costanza doctrine is most closely associated with President George W. Bush and his first-
term confidants: the wild-eyed neo-cons and the dead-eyed ultra-cons. But there is a wider group,
which includes most presidential candidates and many of Washington’s foreign policy elite, who
are not fully paid-up subscribers to the doctrine but went along with it nonetheless. Allied
governments in London, Madrid and Canberra also signed up."
What are some of these principles that the Costanza doctrine seeks to overturn?
That "military and diplomatic resources are finite and should be directed towards your greatest
That you should not "weaken your intimidatory powers through poor military performance."
That " you get by with help from friends."
That you recognize "state-building is hard. ... Luckily there are numberless reports identifying lessons learnt. The
alternative would be to do the opposite of what those reports recommend."
That you acknowledge "democracy is a blessing that requires patient nurturing."
Finally, remembering that "if two dangerous states are struggling for dominance of a strategic region, maintaining a balance between them may be the least worst option."
He then invites the reader to determine to what extent all of these lessons have been ignored in Iraq.
I should like an Australian to correct me.