Wednesday, March 5, 2003
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A DEPRESSING DAY FOR U.S.
A DEPRESSING DAY FOR U.S. FOREIGN POLICY: Regular readers of this blog know that I strongly support an attack on Iraq, even if the United Nations doesn't go along. However, I will admit that today, the spillovers of that policy are dragging me down. I've already discussed the significant opportunity costs of keeping Iraq on the front burner indefinitely. Today is one of those days when the costs are front and center while the benefits seem like a distant mirage. Consider:
1) Michael Tomasky on the deteriorating state of Mexican-American relations (I think he's exaggerating things, but not too much).
2) The Los Angeles Times on the Bush administration's apparent acceptance of North Korean nuclear proliferation (link via Kevin Drum, who has more to say on this).
3) Slate's Fred Kaplan, who's been extremely sympathetic to an invasion of Iraq, assessing the month of diplomacy since Powell's UN speech: "It is becoming increasingly and distressingly clear that, however justified the coming war with Iraq may be, the Bush administration is in no shape—diplomatically, politically, or intellectually—to wage it or at least to settle its aftermath. It is hard to remember when, if ever, the United States has so badly handled a foreign-policy crisis or been so distrusted by so many friends and foes as a result."
Do I agree with everything that's said in these links? No. Do I think these pieces exaggerate? Yes. Is there something to what they're saying? Alas, I believe so.
The U.S. has to deal with the resentment that comes with being the global hegemon, China, Germany, France and Russia acting like spoiled teenage brats, and a lot of trouble spots in the globe. The Bush administration has not been dealt the best of diplomatic hands. That said, today is one of those days when I think the administration could be husbanding its hole cards a little better.
UPDATE: This Washington Post analysis captures a bit of what I'm feeling:
"The Bush administration this week has become increasingly isolated in the world over its determination to topple the Iraqi government, leaving it in a diplomatically difficult position in advance of a critical U.N. Security Council meeting Friday.
By contrast, Iraq has made great headway in splintering the Security Council, making it less likely it will approve a U.S.-backed resolution authorizing military action. Iraq over the weekend began complying with a demand to destroy missiles that exceeded U.N. restrictions, provided unrestricted access to seven scientists and promised to answer inspectors' questions on its weapons programs."
However, if you read further, it's clear that the foundation of this week's events was laid weeks and months ago:
"A number of foreign diplomats said they were taken aback -- even betrayed -- by what they perceived as the administration's rush to war. They seized on any evidence of Iraqi cooperation to argue that the inspections were working and that imminent military action was not necessary. Positions were so hardened by early last month that Secretary of State Colin L. Powell's extensive presentation of Iraqi misdeeds to the Security Council failed to sway many minds."
The $64,000 question is the last paragraph of the piece:
"The administration has frequently threatened that the United Nations would become irrelevant if the United States is forced to wage war without U.N. backing. But that argument has been turned on its head. France and other nations increasingly appear to believe a rejection of the U.S. position would rein in an administration they feel has been consumed with hubris."
I strongly suspect that France has grossly miscalculated the administration's willingness to act regardless of what transpires at the Security Council this week.posted by Dan on 03.05.03 at 04:55 PM