Rory Stewart on Dealing with the Obama Administration

I missed this one earlier in the Summer (I was on holiday). From the FT:

Since arriving at Harvard in June last year, he has been consultant to several members of Barack Obama’s administration, including Hillary Clinton, and is a member of Richard Holbrooke’s special committee for Afghanistan and Pakistan policy. “I do a lot of work with policymakers, but how much effect am I having?” he asks, pronging a mussel out of its shell.

“It’s like they’re coming in and saying to you, ‘I’m going to drive my car off a cliff. Should I or should I not wear a seatbelt?’ And you say, ‘I don’t think you should drive your car off the cliff.’ And they say, ‘No, no, that bit’s already been decided – the question is whether to wear a seatbelt.’ And you say, ‘Well, you might as well wear a seatbelt.’ And then they say, ‘We’ve consulted with policy expert Rory Stewart and he says …’”


13 thoughts on “Rory Stewart on Dealing with the Obama Administration”

  1. He’s not half fond of himself, Rory Stewart, isn’t he?

    I recall reading his own discussion of the greatness of his administration when he was in Iraq, something I always felt was not altogether compatible with views expressed about the British presence in opinion polls taken in the areas under his control.

    Still, rather him than Tim Collins.

  2. This has nothing to do with Rory Stewart, Chris, but do be sure you visit LibraryThing today or tomorrow, it being International Talk Like A Pirate Day and all. They’ve done quite a good job of observing the holiday. (Posting this here for other Stoa-readers who might be interested.)

  3. Patchen: Thanks!

    ejh: I think we were reading the Iraq memoir differently. I thought part of the point of the book was to emphasise the mismatch between what he thought in the early days was going on in his bits of Iraq, and what was really going on in those parts of Iraq, such that the Brits wouldn’t really ever be able to govern it in the way that they hoped they might. It’s a book about the limits of imperial power, not a celebration of Maysan under Stewart.

  4. The Stoa might be interested to note that the good people of Bracknell will have the chance to select Rory Stewart or Iain Dale as their Conservative Parliamentary candidate quite soon.

  5. I’ve known Rory longer than most (32 years and counting); if he’s going to be a Tory MP, that’s no surprise to me.

    He’s long had a radically hierarchical notion of different people’s worth in life and his first book is saturated with those politics.

    To my mind, it’s the basis of his critique of the war, that the neocons, having a utopian nature of what Afghanis were capable of, underestimated their true savage nature.

    Whereas they should have been left alone to their lives that were happily nasty brutish and short.

    I don’t think he views the great unwashed of the UK very differently.

    And I’m not looking forward to the next 18 months which will see hagiographies of him both in the theatre and in the cinema (RS to be played by Orlando Bloom).

  6. The root of the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq and the wish to invade comes from the Upper classes of the UK Establishment.
    They are the Government Front Bench, the Major Opposition Front Bench, Royalty, Justice, Banks, Military commanders, Armament Providers, Shipping Transporters, etc etc.
    One thing that most of these movers and shakers have in common is their Public Schooling. They are the Upper Class and they were the ones who wanted war and wish to impose their will on the Afghan people and soil the chances of British people being known as peace lovers.
    They control the Spin and the media and keep the majority in a stupor of hopelessness.
    Over a million went to the streets in London, much to late, to protest against the war on Iraq, they were ignored by the Government and the Queen. Leaving them with no voice.
    The Queen and the royal Family consider they have no active political role to play yet most of them are colonels of regiments and William and Harry have an unhealthy desire to go to Afghanistan and kill some of the locals.
    It was noticed that the Prince of Wales was very sorry about a Lt Colonel dying in action and attended his funeral, this showed a decided class distinction not shown to any of the common rank.
    All those servicemen in the UK forces are loyal to the Queen not the government, as are the MPs, the Police and the Justice.
    The Royals are full gung ho for military action. Why?
    The people of the UK did not clamour for wars in Afghanistan or Iraq, nor did the Unions, this came from the well educated Movers and the Shakers at the top.
    Today PM Brown and his Cabinet continue the spin that our war in Afghanistan is to stop El Quaida training camps being established in Afghanistan, ignoring completely that the Uk forces are providing a wealth of live training for the insurgents where before they had to pretend.
    The Afghan people have never had a central government that ruled over the country as is experienced in the UK. The majority of villagers and rural areas have independence and are self sufficient.
    There are ever changing tribal loyalties, each wanting a degree of independence that a central government can never provide for.

  7. Chris, Sorry for your cat. i was beginning to wonder what happened to cat-bloging, since the feline element of political theory blogging surely is one not to be missed.

    On Rory Stewart: he was on Dutch tv the other day and went out of his way to decry anything vaguely smacking of colonialism. I thought it was rather good that he liked Scottish dancing; the army should do more of that.

    The thing with the Dutch (apart from our bovine politicians who can’t even outclass the bloody Belgians) is that one is never sure how well the fake self-deprecation thing goes down with them. I suspect that may be a symptom of the same malaise as the one our politicians suffer from. As Roger Scruton said, the Dutch are unable not to take anything seriously (which admittedly is a bit rich coming from him, but there you are).

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