March 20, 2006

If Bush ruled the world (William Pfaff, MARCH 20, 2006, International Herald Tribune)

Intellectual poverty is the most striking quality of the Bush administration’s new National Security Strategy statement, issued on Thursday. Its overall incoherence, its clichés and stereotyped phraseology give the impression that Stephen Hadley, the national security adviser, and his fellow authors assembled it from the boilerplate of bureaucratic discourse with contempt for the Congress to whom it is primarily addressed.

It reveals the administration’s foreign policy as a lumpy stew of discredited neoconservative ideas with some neo- Kissingerian geopolitics now mixed in.

The statement’s only visible purpose is to address a further threat to Iran, as its predecessor, in 2002, threatened Iraq. The only actual “strategy” that can be deduced from it is that the Bush administration wishes to rule the world. The document is nonsensical in content, insulting to other nations and unachievable in declared intention.

If people read it to find a statement of American foreign policy’s objective, they will learn that the United States has “the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world.” Good luck.

Luck? We’ve increased the number of free states from 40 in 1975 to almost 90 now–luck has had nothing to do with it.



February 27, 2006

Bush’s Grand Strategy (Michael Barone, 2/27/06, Real Clear Politics)

[P]re-emption was not the only doctrine in the document. The words just quoted were preceded by a clause reading, “While the United States will constantly strive to enlist the support of the international community …” Even while claiming the right to act pre-emptively, Bush agreed to Tony Blair’s plea for a second United Nations resolution to justify military action in Iraq, even though it was justified by previous resolutions and Saddam Hussein’s defiance of them.

And there was more to the strategy of securing America than just dealing with immediate threats. The NSS called for “global efforts to stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations.” Bush critics say that he has undercut that by continuing to reject the Kyoto Protocol. But the agreement Bush concluded with India, China, Japan and Australia to limit growth of greenhouse gases seems likely to produce significant results, while the European countries, for all their hauteur, are failing to meet their Kyoto targets.

Bush has also gone beyond the NSS by agreeing to joint military operations with India and encouraging a Japanese military presence abroad — both counterweights to Chinese military power. Also going beyond his proposals is his massive commitment to combat AIDS in Africa, which is only hinted at in the document.

In other respects, Bush has not delivered on the promises of the NSS. The Free Trade Area of the Americas, envisioned for 2005, is nowhere in sight. And “an independent and democratic Palestine, living beside Israel in peace and security,” won’t appear soon.

Well, he can act unilaterally to destroy Iran’s nuclear program, and will if necessary, but you can’t unilaterally impose free trade. Meanwhile, Palestine is a democracy and Israel has been moved to the point where it’s about ready to recognize its independence — on Israeli terms — peace and security will follow.


November 9, 2005

Is There a Doctrine in the House? (RICHARD N. HAASS, 11/08/05, NY Times)

WHAT policy should the United States adopt toward China’s rise? How should we greet India’s emergence, Japan’s new assertiveness, Europe’s drift or the possible decline of Russia? How can the United States reduce terrorism, promote trade, stop nuclear proliferation and increase freedom?

These are among the toughest questions on the foreign policy agenda, and right now Washington is trying to answer them without a compass. Containment, the doctrine of resisting Soviet and communist expansion, survived some four decades of challenge, but could not survive its own success. What we need is a foreign policy for both the post-cold-war and the post-9/11 world.

It’s a curious thing: your personal dislike for our comprehensive and coherent strategy doesn’t actually make it cease to exist.

MORE (via Mike Daley):
A Foreign Policy Needs a Domestic Policy (Bruce Kesler, The American Enterprise)

Richard Perle, a key player in all things Iraq, minces few words:

Notwithstanding the caricature of the Bush Doctrine, portrayed by its critics as a menacing unilateralism serving a crusade to impose democracy by force, Bush has correctly understood that the dictatorships and autocracies of the Middle East are the soil in which lethal extremism and the passion for holy war have taken root and spread. He is under no illusion that democratic reform will come quickly or easily, or that it can be imposed from outside by military means. In pressing for reform, he has stood up against the counsel of inaction, self-designated as sophistication, from foreign offices around the world—including those of our European and ‘moderate’ Arab allies—and rather too often even from our own diplomatic establishment. Such counsel would leave the dictators in place for as long as they can cling to power or, worse still, have us collaborate with them and their secret services, or negotiate for their voluntary restraint, in the vain and by now discredited hope that we can thereby purchase safety for our citizens.

Another longtime observer, Richard Pipes, comments, “I do not recall a period in modern history when United States foreign policy has been under such relentless attack from abroad and at home as in the administration of George W. Bush.”

Pipes’s next sentence, at first, struck me as too partisan: “At home, the criticism is mainly inspired by Democratic frustration over Republican electoral triumphs and the feeling that the Republicans’ aggressive foreign policy is what makes them vulnerable.”

But then, Senate Democrat Minority Leader Harry Reid pulled the U.S. Senate into secret session to demand, “a searching and comprehensive investigation about how the Bush Administration brought this country to war.”

In doing so, Reid ensured that November 1, 2005, would forever be remembered as the day that the Democrat Party officially declared war on the war in Iraq. They’re now repeating their 1972 game plan of openly coalescing around eviscerating the war policy for which they’ve lost guts.

As Henry Kissinger reflected back in August, “America’s emotional exhaustion with the [Vietnam] war and the domestic travail of Watergate had reduced economic and military aid to Vietnam by two-thirds, and Congress prohibited military support, even via airpower, to the besieged ally.”