Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

An example of why the President’s job is difficult: Muslim Brotherhood edition

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It’s the trade-offs that get you. I think that the nature of things and the laws of organizations mean that all the easy problems are solved before they reach the President’s desk. At every level of government, you have people working to solve problems. A problem moves up only when it becomes too difficult to be solved at its current level.

So you can think of the levels of government as salmon ladders, the problems (salmon) leaping up until caught (fixed), whereupon no more upward movement for that problem since, as it turned out, that problem was too easy to pass on the President, and it was solved at a lower level.

Question: How difficult are the problems that survive all the way to the President’s desk (or, in this case, Bannon’s desk)? Answer: Very damn difficult unless you simplify the hell out of it to make it a black/white sort of thing (no tradeoffs), so the decision is made easy, which the President likes, since he wants to be decisive. Wham! Done!

And then, of course, all the chaos and human suffering and loss of status in global eyes, not to mention financial losses. It turns out that maybe the simple-answer-to-complex-problems approach has some drawbacks.

Or, to take the case at hand, what about the Muslim Brotherhood? At Lawfare Lorenzo Vidino has a post that looks at the trade-offs: “Why the United States Should Be as Circumspect as the British about the Muslim Brotherhood.”

It begins:

Editor’s Note: The Muslim Brotherhood is a troubling organization for policymakers. Many terrorists passed through its ranks, and the Trump administration, spurred on by some in Congress and several U.S. allies, is even considering designating it a terrorist group.

Yet at the same time the Brotherhood has embraced peaceful politics and is cast as a barrier to radicalism. Lorenzo Vidino of George Washington University’s Program on Extremism places the Brotherhood somewhere in between. He calls for a more careful and nuanced approach that neither caricatures the group as a variant of the Islamic State nor whitewashes its many nasty aspects.


Over the next few weeks the Muslim Brotherhood is likely to feature at the center of Washington’s political debate. Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart and Senator Ted Cruz have recently introduced the Muslim Brotherhood Terrorist Designation Act and various indications point to the Trump administration’s inclination to take similar measures against the world’s oldest and largest Islamist group.

These moves have immediately sparked a heated debate. Their most visceral critics see the Brothers as the godfathers of modern terrorism and devious wolves-in-sheep’s-clothing engaged in the stealth subversions of the societies in which they operate. Their staunchest defenders see them simply as religiously conservative forces who have eschewed bullets for ballots—a source for stability in the Middle East, for integration of Muslims in the West, and a bulwark against jihadist wrath. . .

Read the whole thing. And think about how Bannon/Trump will make the decision—the process and the personnel.

It occurs to me that the combination of being contemptuous of experts and being woefully ignorant of knowledge your job requires is about as bad as it gets—like having sea-sickness and lockjaw.

Written by LeisureGuy

12 February 2017 at 1:50 pm

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