In the recent "briefing" on Iran-Supplied-US-Soldier-Killing weapons, the anonymous military personnel involved were forced to admit that their claims of official Iranian government involvement was based on "inference". Since that time I have heard numerous talking-heads and unsourced comments to the effect that "it is inconceivable that these weapons could be smuggled out of Iran without approval from the highest levels of the Iranian government." More recently General Pace and President Bush have backed off this claim but it highlights a real problem with many of our military and civilian leaders: a lack of Imagination.
During one of the Gulf Wars (I forget which), I remember hearing a comment from a US General that Saddam must have WMD because the Scud missiles he was using were too inaccurate to be effective without chemical or biological warheads. Huh? If only the General had been alive during the Iran-Iraq War and could recall that Iraq launched numerous Scuds toward Tehran without a single chemical or biological warhead on board. How did this guy get to be a General?
I'm afraid that this sort of thinking pervades the highest levels of our government and military: if I can't think of an alternative explanation than mine must be true! This would not be quite so worrying if the individuals involved could think beyond the tiny world views that they have constructed for themselves. Their conclusions are reached before their analyzes have even begun so the number of outcomes is limited.
It is tempting to blame the conservative mindset. After all isn't the very definition of conservative the distrust of anything different? That kind of thinking does nothing to expand your mental horizons. The circles that Cheney and Rumsfeld built would certainly qualify as conservative and the military has become arguably more conservative in the past decade.
Perhaps in the Franken Administration things will be different. (that's a joke!)