Government is no less complex than politics.
That should be no surprise, insofar government is the creation of politicians, and is worked, modified, and stymied as politicians deal with one another to get what some of them want, and to keep what some of them want from happening.
Some of it is simply the cumbersome nature of large and multiple organizations, expected to work together and to follow the orders of individuals who think they are at the top with the authority to issue orders that should be carried out.
For this we have one of John F. Kennedy''s quotations. Not one of those expressing the glories of government, and its function to work with citizens to make things better, but . . .
“There is always some son of a bitch who doesn’t get the word."
Said during the Cuban missile crisis when an American U-2 plane wandered off course into Soviet air space, and risked a complication during already difficult and fluid circumstances
It doesn''t only happen to Americans.
In the same circumstances, a Russian commanding installations in Cuba ordered the shooting down of a U-2, which produced a retort from a more senior Red Army officer, “You have been precipitate in shooting the plane down while our negotiations with the U.S. authorities are progressing successfully."
Domestic governing is no less problematic. Perhaps more so, insofar as there is no official with the bloated title of "Commander-in-Chief."
Yet that title isn''t all it''s cracked up to be, even though it is enshrined in the Constitution.
"The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States . . . " (Article II, Section 2)
The Commander in Chief cannot order troops to move without going through a long bureaucratic chain that begins with the Secretary of Defense
. As anyone knows who has played the party game of sitting in a circle and passing a verbal message from one to another, the details change. Also in bureaucracy.
During the final days of the Nixon presidency, senior officials were concerned that the President--who was showing signs of intoxication and other elements of instability--would leap over the chain of command and order troops to protect him from other elements in the legal proceedings.
"Defense Secretary James Schlesinger requested a tight watch in the military chain of command to ensure that no extraordinary orders went out from the White House during the period of uncertainty (and) that no commanders of any forces should carry out orders which came from the White House, or elsewhere, outside the normal military channels."
Among the hallmarks of a democracy is a separation of power between different units of government, designed to keep any one individual or small group from too much power.
Details differ from one country to another (or in the United States from one state to another), but the essence is that numerous people--usually with different perspectives and constituencies--have to agree before anything is done.
Enacting a law is never enough. It has to be funded and implemented by a bureaucracy. Many programs exist on paper, but without any money, or enough to accomplish their tasks. Furthermore, it is common for legislation to be written in general terms, and to require subsequent rule making by various other officials before there are details ready to be enforced. Many times those steps never occur, take years to accomplish, or occur in ways that differ from the intentions of legislators who voted for the initial enactment.
Americans waiting for a new era in health insurance are currently seeing a House of Representatives--with Constitutional priority in matters of appropriations--responding to its Republican majority and deciding--so far-- not to fund key elements of Obamacare.
Currently there is another problem facing the United States and those of us dependent on its foreign policy. These are not the intricacies of procedures and bureaucracy that affect what is or is not likely to happen after leaders decide. Prominent now is the problem of a supreme leader who may be far from certain about what he should do.
A worrisome article in the New York Times
details what it calls "Obama''s Evolving Doctrine
." It might have been titled "Learning the Presidency," or "The Costs of Obama''s Education."
The article describes the aggression, moderation, and lack of certainty that has marked Obama''s foreign policy in the region of Libya eastward to Afghanistan and Pakistan since coming to office, up to and including recent waffling between preparing to attack Syria and pulling back with a peculiar turn to Congress, then signing on to a Russian initiative that may produce a peaceful resolution or maybe only a temporary saving of the presidential face.
The article also notes
"Mr. Obama has recommitted himself, he told world leaders on Tuesday, to devoting the rest of his presidency to two high-risk diplomatic initiatives: finding a negotiated end to the Iran confrontation, and creating a separate state for the Palestinians that Israel can live with, without fear."
Israeli politicians of left and right have reacted with intense suspicion about the linkage, indicating that they see unwanted pressure from the White House with respect to the details of negotiations with the Palestinians as a condition for Obama to press hard on the issue of Iranian nuclear weapons.
According to the conclusion of the Times article:
"And indeed, after the Congressional rebellion over his threat for the briefest of strikes against Syria, it seems hard to imagine how Mr. Obama can credibly threaten the use of force if Mr. Assad reneges on the chemical weapons disarmament plan.
Iran may be a different case. There the stakes are far higher, for Mr. Obama and for his closest ally in the region, Israel, and he made it clear that he would not allow Iran to obtain a weapon on his watch. The question, after five years and several evolutions of the Obama Doctrine, is whether the Iranians believe him."
No less relevant is whether Israelis believe him.