Tuesday, February 25, 2003

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WHO'S RUNNING THE FOREIGN POLICY STORE?: John Judis has an interesting but incomplete analysis of the different administration foreign policy factions. He divides up the administration into hard-core unilateralists (Rumsfeld, Cheney), half-realist/half-institutionalists (Powell, Tenet), and neocons (Wolfowitz). It does a nice job of highlighting the divisions within the administration.

It's incomplete in that I have no idea on what basis Judis is making these assertions -- he provides no actual evidence, says it's "based on interviews with administration officials, press reports and, where necessary, speculation." That doesn't fill me with confidence. It's also incomplete in failing to locate all of the key players (where's Condi Rice?)

Most important, Judis is too willing to lump Bush with Rumsfeld and Cheney as hard-core unilateralists. As I've argued elsewhere, Bush is a multilateralist, but a results-oriented one.

However, the difficulty of locating Bush raises an interesting and somewhat troubling management question -- why hasn't President Bush done a better job of privately managing these publicly feuding factions? (NOTE: As Brad DeLong makes clear, this applies to the administration's economic policy as well). It's clear that this president likes an open and honest debate about foreign policy matters. However, there's a difference between a private debate and a public one.

This administration has been far too public in its disagreements. The result is that anti-American elites in the rest of the world can seize on public comments made by some factions in the administration and trumpet them as official U.S. policy even when they may be a minority view. In contrast, the first Bush administration clearly has policy splits, but they were never made piblic until Bob Woodward wrote about them.

In the end, only the president has the authority to rein in such public divisions. Given the stakes involved in the current debate over Iraq, this should happen soon.

posted by Dan on 02.25.03 at 11:43 AM