February 25, 2006

Empire of Liberty: The Historical Underpinnings of the Bush Doctrine (Thomas Donnelly, June 24, 2005, AEI Online)

Far from constituting a radical break from American foreign policy, the basic impulses of the Bush Doctrine can be traced throughout much of our history. […]

Above all, American strategic culture is notable for the disproportionate role played in it by American political principles, or, to use the modern term, by ideology. We have sought to make an empire for liberty, to wield power not for its own sake but for the sake of securing the natural political rights “inalienable” to all mankind and which, alone in the American imagination, legitimize power.

This is not to say that the United States has pursued an entirely altruistic course or been unconstrained by the realities of statecraft and the limits of power throughout its history. Rather, it is to assert that American strategy-making and war-making have been informed by a belief that long-term security can be achieved, and only achieved, by the spread of liberal governance, and that American liberal governance is in turn impossible absent the exercise of American military power. In the case of the Revolutionary War, Americans understood themselves as Englishmen in America, and they would have preferred to remain within the British Empire had the price of security been accompanied by the liberties that were their rights as citizens of the empire. But what Americans wanted, London would not give. Increasingly, the colonists understood that only their own power could guarantee their natural political rights.

From the willingness of the revolutionaries to shed blood on behalf of what they held to be “self-evident” truths about human political equality to Lincoln’s declaration at Gettysburg that the Civil War, more than a struggle over states’ rights, would result in “a new birth of freedom,” America’s wars have consistently been shaped by the desire to create a balance of power that favors freedom. As American power and the empire of liberty–now including Europe, maritime East Asia, and new footholds in Afghanistan and Iraq–have grown, so the definition of an acceptable balance of power has shifted. The Bush administration’s focus on the greater Middle East is a natural step in this evolution.

The second source of American strategic conduct has been a belief that we stand at the center-point of international politics; the United States regards itself as a kind of “Middle Kingdom.” American strategic horizons have always extended in many directions: east, west, north, and south. Far from being natural “isolationists,” Americans have always felt themselves exposed to threats and dangers, with little strategic “depth.” When the United States reached its supposed natural frontier with the settlement of the American West, the American strategic imagination leaped over the oceans, first in the Pacific and then the Atlantic, believing that the homeland was only as safe as the farthest frontier. As the “rimlands” of Europe and the western Pacific were secured, the American security perimeter has moved forward into central and eastern Europe, the Middle East, central and south Asia.

The third theme of American strategy is the habit of expansionism. Believing ourselves to be safest not only when our outer perimeter is secure but also free, Americans have felt a necessity to project power unto the farthest reaches of the globe. In the period from the Monroe Doctrine to the Spanish-American War, the habits of expansion and preemption became more than rhetoric, and the commitment to individual liberty, wrenched from the fire of the Civil War, became an ingrained reality. In sum, American strategic culture came of age during this period, and, at century’s end, was no longer content to simply stand behind its ocean walls. Increasingly, a North American empire of liberty could not be separated from the larger world of empires abroad.

A brief taste of European-style imperialism in the late nineteenth century sufficed to sour Washington on direct conquest and rule, yet U.S. leaders have insisted for more than a half-century on exercising a de facto hegemony over defeated foes even well after they become formal allies. The United States cannot be said to “rule” Germans or Japanese, yet America asserts its desire to make the rules by which the international system operates and in which these nations are embedded; the phenomenon of economic globalization rests on a phenomenon of political and strategic Americanization. By incorporating past enemies into the ever-growing empire of liberty, the New World fundamentally changed the Old, and American strategic culture not only proved its enduring strength, but its fundamental flexibility and adaptability. At times, as during the late-Cold War period of détente, that flexibility proved so great as to call into question the basic tenets of American strategic culture. Yet though they bent, these tenets did not break.

Finally, as observed by Yale University historian John Lewis Gaddis and others, Americans have long had a predilection for preemption, prevention, and for what has lately been called “regime change.” Contrary to conventional wisdom, the concept of the “failed state” is one Washington policymakers have recognized throughout history; moreover, Americans have often moved rapidly to address these perceived dangers when the balance of forces appeared to be in our favor. Thus, as American colonists grew in strength vis-à-vis neighboring Indian tribes, their approach became strategically preemptive, preventive, and decisive–likewise with Spanish and Mexican competitors for the North American continent. When, during the twentieth century, the cost of preempting European great powers or preventing their wars seemed too great, the United States initially settled for a return to the status quo even while–in the voice of Woodrow Wilson–preaching revolution and regime change. Further involvement in Europe hardened American attitudes. Now, as the guarantor of a global order, the old habit is hard to break: acting to prevent weak, corrupt, and illegitimate governments from making mischief is central to American strategic thought and practice. And we most often regard wars as successfully concluded when failed states have been replaced with stable ones constructed on an American model.

In sum, there has been a more or less consistent purpose to American power and a strategic culture that remains a source of American conduct. It is at once “realistic,” in the sense of being a keen calculation of power, especially military power, and at the same time “idealistic,” in the sense of being motivated by a set of transcendental claims about the nature of the good society. The quest for the good society, as Gerald Stourzh observes in his study of Alexander Hamilton, has confined itself “within the walls of the city. Principles of political obligation and organization have been sought within the confines of a given society.” The growth of American power has raised our understanding of where our walls are, of the outer limits on the good society; our peculiar strategic culture has driven us onward.


February 22, 2006

US still urging reform in Egypt: Touring the Middle East, Rice pushes democratic reform in Egypt while talking tough on Hamas. (Joseph Krauss, 2/23/06, The Christian Science Monitor)

While many of the liberal opposition groups question whether Washington will continue pressuring Egypt to undertake greater reform after Islamists – the Muslim Brotherhood – made electoral gains here and Hamas’s win in the Palestinian territories, Ms. Rice assured a group of dissidents Wednesday that the US will continue applying pressure.

“One good thing about having the [Egyptian] president stand for election and ask for the consent of the governed is that there is a program,” Rice told a group of dissidents, editors and professors, the Associated Press reported Wednesday.

ROTTEN AT THE CORE (via Daniel Merriman):

February 22, 2006

UN Reform Book on Amb. John Bolton’s Reading List (PRWEB, February 21, 2006)

A new book calling for United Nations reform has attracted a surprise following among delegates to and employees of the UN, and it has now made its way onto the reading list for America’s ambassador to the global institution.

The office of John Bolton, who last year was appointed by President Bush to serve as U.S. ambassador to the UN, has accepted a copy of Joe Klein’s new book “Global Deception: The UN’s Stealth Assault on America’s Freedom”. The book made news in December when


February 22, 2006

Sri Lanka’s only hope for peace: The Sri Lankan government and Tamil Tiger rebels start their first direct talks for three years on Wednesday. The BBC assesses why they are so important. (Paul Danahar, 2/22/06, BBC)

Whether the Sri Lankan government likes it or not – and they do not – the Tamil Tigers have established a de facto state in the north-east of the country. […]

The Tamil diaspora, which has been hugely successful around the world, has also made the Tigers one of the richest militant groups, one that has its own navy and can afford long protracted battles.

But if they are brilliant guerrillas, the diplomat said, they are also supremely bad politicians.

He believes that the Tamil boycott of last year’s presidential elections was not part of a cunning plan but an act of political immaturity.

It snatched the presidency from Ranil Wickramasinghe, the former prime minister who negotiated the 2002 ceasefire, and handed it to Mahinda Rajapakse, who campaigned on a hardline ticket.

Things have been sliding downhill ever since.

But, analysts say, if the Tigers don’t have the political maturity now to move away from violence, they won’t ever get it if they are kept isolated from the outside world.

It’s a tough thing to ask the politicians to do because the Sri Lankan press are notorious for savaging anyone who suggests compromise.

But diplomats believe that until the Colombo polity shows it wants to help the Tigers make the transformation from the bullet to the ballot box, the deadlock cannot be broken.

The wrong side is being required to grow up here. As with the Kurds, Palestinians, Basque, ec., when a people consider themselves sovereign and have de facto sovereignty, they’re going to get their own state. That’s just a function of the democratic age.


February 22, 2006

Gorkha Rifles earmarks for United Nations Mission in Sudan (New Kerala, 2/21/06)

1/5 Gorkha Rifles (Frontier Force), an elite infantry battalion of the Indian Army, earmarked for the United Nations Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) on Tuesday.

India is contributing two Infantry Battalions to this mission in addition to certain support elements. The Force Commander in the Mission is also an Indian General, Lieutenant General J.S. Lidder.

It is for the first time in any UN Mission that an entire battalion has been earmarked as the Force Reserve Air Mobile Battalion.

Incidentally, this is the third foray of the battalion info the African continent, the first two having been during World War I and World War II. This highly decorated battalion has been awarded 23 Battle Honours and four Victoria Crosses in the pre- dependence period and the Battle Honours of Zojila, Kargil and Sehjra and Theatre Honours of Jammu and Kashmir and Punjab in the post independence period amongst many other awards and decorations.

Welcome to the Axis of Good.


February 21, 2006

Evangelical Christianity shifting outside West (Paul Nussbaum, 2/20/06, Philadelphia Inquirer)

Evangelical Christianity, born in England and nurtured in the United States, is leaving home.

Most evangelicals now live in China, South Korea, India, Africa and Latin America, where they are transforming their religion. In various ways, they are making evangelical Christianity at once more conservative and more liberal. They are infusing it with local traditions and practices. And they are even sending “reverse missionaries” to Europe and the United States.

In 1960, there were an estimated 50 million evangelical Christians in the West, and 25 million in the rest of the world; today, there are an estimated 75 million in the West, and 325 million in the rest of the world (representing about 20 percent of the two billion Christians worldwide), according to Robert Kilgore, chairman of the board of the missionary organization Christar.

Other experts differ on the number of evangelicals (estimates range from 250 million to nearly one billion) but agree that the number is growing rapidly.

“As the vibrancy of evangelicalism seems to have waned somewhat in the West, many in the non-West are ready to pick up the banner and move forward,” said Kilgore, a former missionary who is now associate provost at Philadelphia Biblical University. “Most Americans have no idea how big the shift has been.” […]

Evangelicals are among the fastest-growing segments of Christianity. Their global numbers are increasing at about 4.7 percent a year, according to Operation World, a Christian statistical compendium.

By comparison, the rate of growth for all Protestants is put at 2.2 percent a year, and for Roman Catholics at 0.5 percent a year. The world’s population is growing at about 1.4 percent a year.

Broadly defined, evangelicals are Christians who have had a personal or “born-again” religious conversion, believe that the Bible is the word of God, and believe in spreading their faith. (The term comes from Greek; to “evangelize” means to preach the gospel.) The term is typically applied to Protestants.

American evangelicals have gotten most of the public attention because they’re in the center of the media universe and because they played a pivotal political role in the 2004 U.S. election. But American evangelicals are a distinct minority, and their beliefs and practices are often significantly different from those of evangelicals elsewhere.

In Africa, some evangelicals practice polygamy. In China, some revere their ancestors. In South Korea, many believe in faith healing and the exorcism of evil spirits.

The melding of local traditions with Christianity has produced a religion that looks unfamiliar to many Westerners but is “vast, varied, dynamic and lively,” said Joel Carpenter, provost and professor of history at Calvin College, an evangelical college in Grand Rapids, Mich. Carpenter, an editor of The Changing Face of Christianity, is soon to be director of the new Nagel Institute for the Study of World Christianity at Calvin.

Evangelicals in the global South and East are, in many ways, at least as conservative as their U.S. counterparts. But they often diverge on such issues as poverty and war.

“On abortion or gay marriage, they sound like American conservatives. But on war and peace or economic justice, they sound like the Democratic Party,” Carpenter said. “And I have not met one foreign evangelical leader that approves of American foreign policy.”

If we can transform them from within there’s no need for a foreign policy geared at transforming them from without.


February 21, 2006

Contain Iran: Admit Israel to NATO (Ronald D. Asmus, February 21, 2006, Washington Post)

The United States already has a de facto security commitment to Israel. Any future U.S. president would go to the defense of that country if its existence were threatened by a nuclear-armed Iran. And in spite of the anti-Israeli and anti-Semitic voices that one can hear in Europe, there is little doubt that European leaders such as Tony Blair, Angela Merkel and even Jacques Chirac would also stand tall and defend Israel against an Iranian threat. Given this situation, basic deterrence theory tells us that it is more credible and effective if those commitments are clear and unambiguous.

The best way to provide Israel with that additional security is to upgrade its relationship with the collective defense arm of the West: NATO. Whether that upgraded relationship culminates in membership for Israel or simply a much closer strategic and operational defense relationship can be debated. After all, a classic security guarantee requires clear and recognized borders to be defended, something Israel does not have today. Configuring an upgraded Israel-NATO relationship will require careful diplomacy and planning. But what must be clear is that the West is prepared to match the growing bellicosity against Israel by stepping up its commitment to the existence of the Jewish state.

There are growing signs that Israel is interested in such a relationship with NATO.

Why lash Israel to the mast of a sinking ship? How about formalizing a new Alliance aimed at radical Islam and Communist China that would comprise Britain, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Poland, the Czech Republic, Russia, Japan, Mongolia, Taiwan, the Phillipines, Indonesia, India, Israel & Turkey to begin with.


February 20, 2006

Treat Pakistan, India equally: FO (Daily Times, 2/21/06)

The Foreign Office has called for the equal treatment of Pakistan and India as nuclear weapons states that are not signatories to the Non Proliferation Treaty, after France joined the United States in signing nuclear cooperation deals with New Delhi, APP reports.

India is a stable, pro-Western, protestant, increasingly capitalistic, liberal democracy. It’s entitled to be treated much better than a country where we depend on dictatorship to prevent a radical takeover.


February 15, 2006

Special report: America’s Long War: US introduces radical new strategy (Simon Tisdall, Ewen MacAskill and Richard Norton-Taylor, February 15, 2006, The Guardian)

>European governments are still digesting the contents of the US report and are expected to give full responses in the next few weeks. But initial reaction appears to be one of caution.

The Ministry of Defence said yesterday it had been consulted by the Pentagon as the review was drawn up and was pleased to see references to working with allies. As the consultation took place, Royal Marine commandos arrived at their base in southern Afghanistan yesterday at the start of a mission described in the Commons by government opponents as confused and unclear.

But British commanders expressed concern that increased attacks on suspect terrorists using drones – in which decisions are made rapidly by secret watchers based thousands of miles away – could have legal implications. They also highlighted potential infringements of sovereignty and the bypassing of political controls and of established rules of engagement.

Never mind the 21st century political correctness that would pass up a shot at the enemy just because of transnational legal fictions, if they haven’t figured out yet that our recognizing the sovereignty of others depends on their meeting our liberal democratic standards then they have their other foot in the 19th century.


February 15, 2006

A close ally, but no influence (Richard Norton-Taylor, February 15, 2006, The Guardian)

The Pentagon review has significant political, military, financial and even legal implications for Britain, analysts have told the Guardian. It assumes Britain will be closely tied to the US without any influence on its military strategy, they say, while the UK and its European allies are left with the burden of peacekeeping.

The US could in future be a “more comfortable partner” for Britain, says Colonel Christopher Langton of the International Institute for Strategic Studies, if it means there will be greater emphasis on “preventive threats rather than a heavy footprint”. But this is only a part of the picture painted by the Pentagon. British military chiefs, MI5 and MI6 have never liked the idea of a war on terror. Now, they say, the concept of a long war gives a spurious legitimacy to international terrorists.

The Pentagon makes clear the US will rely less and less on “static” alliances such as Nato. “We would by implication be part of any coalition of the willing in any part of the world,” Col Langton says.

Amyas Godfrey of the Royal United Services Institute says Britain will be “the biggest partner” in this enterprise. “If we want a say in international affairs we need to be part of it.” He compares a close partnership with the US in the long war with Britain’s status as a nuclear power in the cold war.

But Britain would be an increasingly junior partner, analysts suggest. Col Langton says: “The UK has to assume it will be piggy backing.”

The relationship between America and Britain has never been closer, and George Bush demonstrated his regard for Tony Blair (and Colin Powell) by acceeding to their request to try to use the threat of WMD to get the UN to endorse regime change in Iraq, but when it looked like Mr. Blair might do himself real damage at home if he joined in the war, Mr. Bush told him to feel free to bail out because we were fine going without them. Mr. Blair was reportedly stunned not so much by the magnanimity of the gesture as by the recognition of Britain’s ultimate insignificance.