Wouldn’t we be in a better place if “Don’t Do Stupid Stuff” had been said by President George W. Bush? Not that President Obama has been right on Iraq/Afghanistan. “It’s true that Obama has never lived up to the cautious foreign policy maxim he’s coined: launching a destructive ‘dumb war’ in Libya, doubling down on Afghanistan with precious little to show for it,” writes Cato’s Gene Healy in his Washington Examiner piece. But what good have the Bush neocons done for foreign policy? Don’t do stupid stuff or DDSS would be a good place to start. Gene Healy says it best when he writes:
The United States paid a heavy price in pursuit of that dream: some 4,500 U.S. troops killed, tens of thousands more with traumatic brain injuries, hundreds of limb amputations, $1.7 trillion in direct budgetary costs so far and nearly half a trillion to come in veterans’ care and disability. Yet today, with Sunni jihadists pushing towards Baghdad, Iraq looks less like a Middle Eastern “City on a Hill” than a sectarian thugocracy, rapidly degenerating into a dystopian hellscape.
‘DDSS’ is a sound, even noble, foreign policy goal, one that can help us avoid further sacrifice of American blood and treasure — even as we try to extricate ourselves from past stupidities.”
Given that history, perhaps there’s something to be said for President Obama’s latest foreign-policy maxim: “don’t do stupid stuff.” At the very least, you wouldn’t think a “first, do no harm” approach to foreign policy would prove quite so controversial.
Yet “DDSS” has been greeted with contempt by the D.C. commentariat.
“How far we have come from the audacity of hope, yes we can” moans David Rothkopf, publisher of Foreign Policy magazine. “DDSS” just isn’t an “elevating notion,” he complains. (Neither, I suppose, is the Hippocratic Oath.) “A crude, meaningless phrase cannot substitute for statecraft,” sniffs former Bush aide Karl Rove in the Wall Street Journal.