I’ve been thinking about President Bush’s relationship with Congress and how he has reined in Senators Specter and Dodd and put down (soon to be former) Senator Daschle. It’s quite like the Axis of Evil approach. If you have a number of enemies, any one of which you can defeat but who, in total, are too much to take simultaneously, you can get improved behavior through the old technique of an example for the encouragement of others. If you name the worst target, then take it out, you tend to encourage competition among the remainder to not be at the top of the list.
This is what Libya did when it turned over its WMD. It’s not that Libya suddenly decided to be a fine, upstanding nation. All Qaddaffi really wanted was the assurance that he wasn’t at the top of the USA’s enemies list. It’s the bear in the woods joke — a state doesn’t have to cooperate with the USA, it just has to be less uncooperative than other states. While it would be nice for such former rogue states to suddenly turn fully toward the light, that’s just not going to happen. Raising the bar of tolerate behaviour is nevertheless good progress.
I just find the emerging pattern in the Senate very familiar in this light. Now that Daschle’s had his ticket punched, we will hopefully see a shift from Senators seeing who can be the most obstructionist to trying to not be the most obstructionist. It’s all about hitting high payoff targets first — just like invading Iraq.