Over at Daily Kos there’s a bit about Dubya’s tendency to personalize things:
What’s depressing is this infuriating penchant for Bush to villify individuals, as though our battles can be won by exterminating a few well-placed leaders. We have seen this with al Qaida and OBL, we have seen it with Saddam Hussein, and now with our two latest boogeymen — Sadr and Abu Musab Zarqawi.
The enemies we face are bigger than one person. Killing Sadr would be as effective in ending Shiite opposition as capturing Saddam was in ending Sunni opposition (or killing his sons, for that matter). Killing or capturing Osama bin Laden would make us all feel good (especially killing him), but it wouldn’t have any real effect on Al Qaida operations.
Yet the administration insists on creating the fiction that killing or capturing any one man can help us win our various wars. It’s understandable, in a way — a relatively easy way to prove progress to a domestic audience.
This is one case where I don’t think Bush is really to blame. The tendency to focus on individuals is actually fairly common in American diplomacy. I don’t remember the details, but this is something Kissinger covered in his book, Diplomacy. The point Kos makes is perfectly valid in terms of how focusing on individual personalities can be the wrong approach, but it’s not necessarily a flaw of Bush’s particularly (although I’ll grant that his lack of attention probably exacerbates the problem).