Friday, April 29, 2011

Dealing with Denial

Let's imagine that a decision-maker admits that he might be in denial but denies that it is intentional. How might he or she crawl out of the mental box?

Take the contentious issues of the degree to which Saudi Arabia and Israel may share strategic interests with the U.S. How might one move beyond fruitless argument? The simplest step that occurs to me would be to list the ways in which strategic interests coincide and the ways in which they clash.

Shared & Conflicting Strategic Interests: US-Israel & US-Saudi Arabia
Imagine! Merely to admit that such a list could be created would constitute a foreign policy revolution...or is it revelation(???) Washington. An initial version of such a list is provided as a target. I will be the first to attack it for not distinguishing between the "strategic interests" of the elite and the "strategic interests" of the societies. Making a simple list is not quite as simple as one might think!

More seriously, the obvious point is that the relative merits of an alliance are not really so obvious when one thinks about it. When you reach the (almost inevitable) conclusion that this is a less-than-satisfying approach, try Venn diagrams. But that's a tale for another day...

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