"If optimism is the order of the day when it comes to assessing one’s own chances in armed conflict, however, gloom usually prevails when evaluating another side’s concessions. Psychologically, we are receptive not only to hawks’ arguments for war but also to their case against negotiated solutions. The intuition that something is worth less simply because the other side has offered it is referred to in academic circles as “reactive devaluation.” The very fact that a concession is offered by somebody perceived as hostile undermines the content of the proposal. What was said matters less than who said it. And so, for example, American policymakers would likely look very skeptically on any concessions made by the regime in Tehran. Some of that skepticism could be the rational product of past experience, but some of it may also result from unconscious—and not necessarily rational—devaluation.
Evidence suggests that this bias is a significant stumbling block in negotiations between adversaries. In one experiment, Israeli Jews evaluated an actual Israeli-authored peace plan less favorably when it was attributed to the Palestinians than when it was attributed to their own government. Pro-Israel Americans saw a hypothetical peace proposal as biased in favor of Palestinians when authorship was attributed to Palestinians, but as “evenhanded” when they were told it was authored by Israelis."
"Most Arabs quite perceptively believe that "democracy" is a smokescreen for the Bush administration's hypocrisy and ulterior motives in the region. They see the hypocrisy of the intense U.S. pressure against the Islamists who run Iran, which has at least a bit of democracy in its system, while standing behind the governments of Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, which are heavily reliant on the support of Islamists, but have no democracy at all. And while the Bush administration shuns the radical Islamic Shi'ite government in Iran, it actively supports a government in Iraq that has a bedrock of support from radical, Iran-supported Shi'ites. Lastly, even the U.S. intelligence community acknowledges that the U.S. invasion of Iraq has exacerbated terrorism worldwide. In reality, Iran and al-Qaeda, two of the United States' principal adversaries, are the biggest beneficiaries of the Iraq war."
"President Bush’s new Iraq strategy calls for a rapid influx of forces that could add as many as 20,000 American combat troops to Baghdad, supplemented with a jobs program costing as much as $1 billion intended to employ Iraqis in projects including painting schools and cleaning streets, according to American officials who are piecing together the last parts of the initiative."painting schools. wtf?
"As we work our way through this seemingly intractable problem in Iraq, we must constantly remember that this is not just a troublesome issue from which we can walk away if it seems too costly to continue. What is at stake is not only Iraq and the stability of the Middle East, but the global perception of the reliability of the United States as a partner in a deeply troubled world. We cannot afford to fail that test."