“That’s What I Mean By Strategic Thought”

“THAT’S WHAT I MEAN BY STRATEGIC THOUGHT”….Slate published this excerpt from Robert Draper’s Dead Certain back on Tuesday, but I just got around to reading the whole thing today. It truly defies description:

Bush, as always, bridled at the request to navel-gaze. “You’re the observer,” he said as he worked the cheese in his mouth. “I’m not. I really do not feel comfortable in the role of analyzing myself. I’ll try….

“You’ve gotta think, think BIG. The Iranian issue,” he said as bread crumbs tumbled out of his mouth and onto his chin, “is the strategic threat right now facing a generation of Americans, because Iran is promoting an extreme form of religion that is competing with another extreme form of religion. Iran’s a destabilizing force. And instability in that part of the world has deeply adverse consequences, like energy falling in the hands of extremist people that would use it to blackmail the West. And to couple all of that with a nuclear weapon, then you’ve got a dangerous situation. … That’s what I mean by strategic thought. I don’t know how you learn that. I don’t think there’s a moment where that happened to me. I really don’t. I know you’re searching for it. I know it’s difficult. I do know — y’know, how do you decide, how do you learn to decide things? When you make up your mind, and you stick by it — I don’t know that there’s a moment, Robert. I really — You either know how to do it or you don’t. I think part of this is it: I ran for reasons. Principled reasons. There were principles by which I will stand on. And when I leave this office I’ll stand on them. And therefore you can’t get driven by polls. Polls aren’t driven by principles. They’re driven by the moment. By the nanosecond.”

Dan Drezner is nonplussed: “Consider the following discussion question: what is missing from George Bush’s strategic thought?” His commenters immediately answer correctly: “strategy” and “thought.”

Read the whole thing. If you think you can stomach it.