The situation regarding the Obama administration in the Middle East today is something like putting a child who is still learning the rules up against the world’s greatest poker players. For the first six months of a new president that is an understandable problem but if it continues longer the feeble condition of this administration’s foreign policy starts to seem permanent. — Barry Rubin, “Obama Administration’s Arab-Israeli Policy Adjustment: Out of the Frying Pan Into the… Saucepan“
I have a theory about this. It’s not that Obama and his immediate advisors are dumb, although Obama himself has very little experience with Mideast diplomacy (he should ask Bill Clinton, who learned the hard way). It’s that they trust ‘experts’ too much.
JFK had the same problem. He listened to experts and invaded the Bay of Pigs.
The thing about experts is that to a certain extent their reputations are made by holding novel or even extreme positions. It has little to do with being right more often than wrong. And in fact the personal consequences of being wrong in academia or the CIA (as in the Bay of Pigs case) are rarely serious.
So ‘experts’ like Scowcroft and Brzezinski can present bad ideas like the ‘linkage theory’ and be applauded in the really, really uniformed media and by those who understand that it’s nonsense but see it as a way to weaken Israel. Whereas if the President adopts this theory and then makes policy which results in a disaster, he’s blamed.
I recommend the Rubin article linked above.