Sunday, August 15, 2004
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Brad DeLong, cartoonist extraordinaire
I must say I admire DeLong's Bush-like, straight-shooting rejoinder -- except for the fact that the entire post is so cartoonish in its treatment of Bush's grand strategy that it undercuts his point. So let's inject a little Kerryesque nuance into the discussion.
First of all, I'm puzzled that DeLong believes Gaddis is praising unilateralsm -- because that's nowhere in his Foreign Policy essay. Indeed, one of his points -- which DeLong quotes -- is that "even in these first few lines, then, the Bush NSS comes across as more forceful, more carefully crafted, and—unexpectedly—more multilateral than its immediate predecessor."
One could argue that Gaddis must have it wrong, and that the administration has, in practice, been astonishingly unilateral. I penned a counterargument to this back in February 2003 and I'll stand by it. The key point: "At worst, the administration can be accused of threatening to act [and eventually acting] in a unilateral manner if it doesn't get most of what it wants through multilateral institutions. Which is pretty much how all great powers have acted since the invention of multilateral institutions."
Yes, the Bush administration has acted more unilaterally than the previous administration, but the extent of its unilateralism is a question of degree rather than some revolutionary paradigm shift. Which is the point of distinguished diplomatic historian Melvyn Leffler in International Affairs. Leffler is hardly a full-blooded fan of the Bush NSS, but the main point of his essay is that the key components of the Bush grand strategy -- hegemony, preemption, democratization -- have appeared and reappeared throughout recent American history. To claim that Bush and/or the neoconservatives sudddenly invented what's in the National Security Strategy is to look at the history of American foreign policy wearing a really powerful set of blinders.
Leffler also underscores a point I made in March of 2003 about why democratization was not an unrealistic goal in Iraq.
Brad is enough of a historian to know better than this post. Once he reenters the land of the three-dimensional, the blogosphere will be a better place.posted by Dan on 08.15.04 at 09:36 PM
Count me as a fan of Brad's but he's a less partisan economist than he is a historian.posted by: mark safranski on 08.15.04 at 09:36 PM [permalink]
Ooh, you really got him that time!
He's cartoonish, and he's fat!posted by: ooh on 08.15.04 at 09:36 PM [permalink]
“So let's inject a little Kerryesque nuance into the discussion.”
I feel rather confident that Daniel Drezner is engaging in a bit of tongue and cheek. Still, it kind of rubs me the wrong way. John Kerry does not come across as a nuanced thinker willing to look at differing perspectives. No, he’s simply a flip-flopping liar who will say and do anything to achieve political power. The Christmas 1968 in Cambodia fib reveals Kerry’s moral bankruptcy. How does one lie and damage their country merely to build political alliances? Does Kerry even believe in anything? The man does not seem to possess a coherent and well developed philosophy of life. I don’t think that I’m exaggerating when accusing Kerry of ultimately relying on putting his wet finger into the air to see which way the wind blows.posted by: David Thomson on 08.15.04 at 09:36 PM [permalink]
I’m definitely not revealing a previously unknown mystery of the universe. John Kerry is a lying sleaze ball---and just about everybody knows this---including his most loyal supporters. They don't disagree, they simply don't give a damn! The visceral hatred of George W. Bush is so intense that many Democrats could care less. They will not hesitate to vote for a morally flawed, flip-flopping candidate if it removes the current president from office. We can only hope that one election day a majority of the voters are not also so reckless with our nation’s future.posted by: David Thomson on 08.15.04 at 09:36 PM [permalink]
Surely you can't be as stupid as to actually believe what you posted? As a non American looking from the outside it seems to me that John Kerry isn't a flip flopper, he just doesn't see the world in black and white like Bush does. If you'd care to even research it slightly you'd see that his so called flip flops are simply taking a more nuanced position. As for Christmas in Cambodia, there is simply no evidence either way.
We're all in luck. Recent polls show that a majority of Americans are not going to be reckless with our nation's future on this November 2nd.
As a parent of two, I am very much relieved, I know you are too.
P.S. Up yours.posted by: RecentPolls on 08.15.04 at 09:36 PM [permalink]
A small question: why do intelligent people on this side of the Atlantic continue to refer to France as an "ally"?
The French don't see themselves that way. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, it has been axiomatic in French strategic thought that the greatest threat to France's independence, distinctive identity and gloire is the US hyperpuissance. Or, as Vedrine put it, France is "a mouse forver trying to avoid being crushed by the [U.S.] elephant."
France in the last decade has repeatedly sought to thwart, counter, delay or, failing the above, insult US efforts in the middle east and elsewhere.
From Chirac's recent stunts re NATO troop additions for Afghanistan to gutting sanctions to signing eleventh-hour deals with Saddam (W. Qurna oilfields deal in Nov 02) to joint military exercises with the Chinese, France has signalled to us again and again that they do not consider themselves a reliable or loyal ally of the US.
Why do we keep telling ourselves otherwise?
"To claim that Bush and/or the neoconservatives sudddenly invented what's in the National Security Strategy is to look at the history of American foreign policy wearing a really powerful set of blinders."
Well said Professor. Those opposed to the Administration for the adoption of the NSS overlook that the NSS was prominently positioned in the hearts and minds of FP wonks before the NSS was made public.
Professor, isn't the NSS in lockstep with the Washington Consensus? And wasn't the Washington Consensus prominently positioned in the Clinton WH and Treasury?posted by: Jas on 08.15.04 at 09:36 PM [permalink]
"As a non American looking from the outside it seems to me that John Kerry isn't a flip flopper, he just doesn't see the world in black and white like Bush does."
The hell with your postmodernist approach to truth. Human beings can reach reasonable certitude on many things. Even a theological modernist such as myself has no trouble in believing in objective reality.
"As for Christmas in Cambodia, there is simply no evidence either way."
John Kerry's campaign has already officially conceded that he did not spend Christmas 1968 in Cambodia. They are trying to make up another lie that might past the laugh test. So far, Kerry's people are failing miserably.posted by: David Thomson on 08.15.04 at 09:36 PM [permalink]
Well, I think that the problems with the NSS, essentially, are:
(a) its gratutitous sneers at what it puts in scare quotes -- the "international community." That kind of stuff may go over well in an AEI-penned polemic, but the US government should not be needlessly alienating people like that.
(b) its very brazenness. Speak softly and carry a big stick, I say. That doesn't mean "speak sneeringly, and mire your big stick in a pile of mud."posted by: praktike on 08.15.04 at 09:36 PM [permalink]
France is a non-military strategic rival of the United States and has been since DeGaulle pulled France out of the NATO military command. They simply have greater freedom of action in 2004 than in 1984 or 1974.posted by: mark safranski on 08.15.04 at 09:36 PM [permalink]
David, at this point I don't care whether Kerry is a flipflopping liar who will do anything to get power.
Bush has demonstrated that he is a flipflopping liar who will do anything to get power, and he has done a collection of things that are disastrous to the nation.
Bush is our first PoMo president.
If it turns out that Kerry is just as bad, OK, Bush has had his turn. Time to give somebody else a chance.
At this point I would prefer a random republican voter to Bush for president. I would prefer a random ditto-head to Bush. I would prefer a random Little Green Footballs poster to Bush.
At this point if it was a choice between Bush and a random Alcoholics Anonymous member, I'd take the AA member. I'd take an NA member.
I can kind of understand that you'd try to get people to think that Kerry is just as bad. But it doesn't matter. Voting for Bush at this point would be like bending over for the gay SM thug and saying "Please sir, I'd like some more.".
Even if you somehow think that Kerry would be *worse* than Bush, consider that he's likely to be gridlocked. Bush would pretend he had a mandate to keep creating new disasters. Anybody who's gridlocked is better than Bush, unless we could get Bush gridlocked too.
Good points, praktike. I could not agree more that this admin's problem is essentially one of tactlessness.
But it's possible to overrate the importance of tact. Certainly the Leffler essay in Foreign Affairs overreaches in its estimate of the relevance of a Wilsonian notion of a world "community" to the current world situation.
There is no consensus today-- neither was there any in 1919, for that matter-- concerning what should replace Westphalian notions of sovereignty in an age of rogue states and global terror movements seeking to get and use WMD. Leffler makes the mistake of assuming that a fundamental similarity of values between us and the Euros-- supporting rule of law, an aversion to colonialism, aiding third world development within the global trading system-- effectively trumps any potential clash of interests or strategic doctrines.
In fact, the core French notion of triangulation-- first applied by De Gaulle to the two superpowers, now increasingly applied by Chirac to us and anyone hostile to US power, especially in the middle east-- makes a mockery of the notion of "community." France and increasingly Germany view their prosperity and above all their independent status as powerful, self-respecting major players on the world stage as incompatible with the vigorous exercise of US military force.
There is no other explanation for the extraordinary refusal of Chirac to allow NATO to supply a few more troops to support Afghanistan's development. France and Germany today view our military interventions with the same mix of alarm and determination to thwart them as we viewed France and Britain's attempts in the Suez Crisis to hang on their colonial influence. In European eyes, thwarting us on Iraq is America's payback for Suez.
posted by: lex on 08.15.04 at 09:36 PM [permalink]
Again, there is indeed an operational "community" of free societies, and we see this in the extraordinarily close cooperation btn us and the Euros in intelligence sharing and police work.
The core difference concerns 1) the application of US military force in pursuit of strategic (as opposed to humanitarian) ends and 2) democracy promotion in volatile parts of the middle east where France and Germany have many billions of $$$ in energy / manufacturing / telco / banking etc contracts at stake. There is nothing at all like a "community of values" in these areas. We are in direct conflict with the Euros on these points and would be regardless who occupies the White House. So it's likely that our cooperation in non-military and non-strategic matters will increase, even as we face more resistance, especially regarding Iran, in the strategic area.
You don't make war against your brother. But that doesn't make him your friend. Brotherly squabbles can be extremely nasty precisely because it's unrealistic to expect a shared heritage to result in mutual love and respect. So it will go between us and our democratic European little brothers.
oops... keep forgetting how much it grates him to be called "little" brotherposted by: lex on 08.15.04 at 09:36 PM [permalink]
interesting points, lex.
I think there is indeed a bifurcation between common goals and US goals. France and Germany will support the former and in some cases work to subvert the latter. This is to be expected, I suppose.
But I think you go off the rails here:
... because I don't think this would have been the case without the Iraq kerfuffle.posted by: praktike on 08.15.04 at 09:36 PM [permalink]
It seems from this post that Prof. Dresner does accept and support the Bush “grand strategy”, as articulated by Gaddes and others, of preemption, hegemony and democracy creation. The question remains , however, what would a “well implemented” version of this strategy look like?
It seems to me that this is the question the right has not answered. On this board, for example, DT tells us that Kerry would be worse, MarkB and others tell us that we can’t judge implementation because the job is not done till we take down Iran, TommyG tells us that “equivocating” is asking for defeat, and Prof D points out that Gaddes never said “unilateralism.”. None of these responses answers the question.
Looks to me like our “strategy” is, to this point, one of “lets kick tail and take names.” And that will be “victory”. On that score, the Bush implementation of the “well articulated” NSS is a resounding success with respect to “preemption” and military “hegemony”. Viewed in this light, Bush was right to say “Mission Accomplished” on the Abraham Lincoln, because in this limited sense, it was. Our military power is simply awesome.
The strategy begins to go off the rails, however, when it assumed a “multilateral” acceptance of US hegemony in realms other than the military. I doubt the “coalition of the willing” was the multilateral acceptance of the strategy its architects were hoping for. It’s not that the Bush folks wanted to act unilaterally – it’s that the idea that our allies would accept US hegemony appears to have been wishful thinking.
So, looking back at the NSS with 20/20 hindsight, how could it have been implemented to achieve multilateral acceptance of US hegemony and avoid the anti-American sentiment that gets stronger and stronger with each act of “preemption”? Does anyone have an answer?
I think that Professor Drezner misunderstands the nature of left-wing intelligentsia's critique of Bush these days.
You see, professor, one need not exceed the degree of effort that Professor DeLong put into his critique of Bush's foreign policy. To the left-wing intelligentsia, it is blindingly obvious that everything that Bush has done is wrong, and any purported analysis of what Bush has actually done is completely superfluous. Hence, the cartoonish views are, in actuality, an efficient use of Professor Delong's time, since any greater effort is unnecessary.posted by: Al on 08.15.04 at 09:36 PM [permalink]
Praktike - this reply makes utterly no sense:
lex: In European eyes, thwarting us on Iraq is America's payback for Suez.
p: ... because I don't think this would have been the case without the Iraq kerfuffle.
Let's try again.
Suez to Eisenhower and Dulles = unacceptable (because colonialist) application of European power in a region of enormous political and economic consequence to the US.
Iraq to Euros = unacceptable (because strategic) application of US military power in a region where enormous European commercial and political interests are at stake.
Key difference of course being that the UK and France were effectively prevented by Eisenhower from taking Suez, whereas France and Germany failed to prevent the US from destroying Saddam and occupying Iraq. UK and French colonial power was destroyed and US hegemony in the noncommunist world was asssured in 1956. In 2004, the US remains effectively without rival and is unlikely, even if Kerry wins the election, to withdraw from Iraq. Hence the continuing effort by Chirac to thwart, hinder, counter and generally piss off the US wherever US military force is strategically applied, ie, to serve essentially US national purposes rather than humanitarian ones.posted by: lex on 08.15.04 at 09:36 PM [permalink]
So, looking back at the NSS with 20/20 hindsight, how could it have been implemented to achieve multilateral acceptance of US hegemony and avoid the anti-American sentiment that gets stronger and stronger with each act of “preemption”? Does anyone have an answer?
The disconnect occurs because we are trying to leverage a Europe-centered alliance in a totally un-European context. The Euros (except for the UK) have next to no useful assets or leverage in the middle east or South Asia. OTOH certain states, principally France, have an enormous economic and strategic interest in accomodating enemies of the US such as Saddam's Iraq and the mullahs' Iran. They were as likely to support us in Iraq as Yeltsin was to support our war against Milosevic.
To be clear, it's crazy to suppose that we would ever have received "multilateral acceptance of US hegemony" in Iraq (or Iran), as you put it, from nations that:
-- no longer have any common enemy with the US;
-- have every economic interest in not only not preventing Saddam's overthrow but also in ending sanctions and doing billions of $$$ in business with him;
-- perceive an urgent strategic interest in preventing the US from using force not only strategically but also pre-emptively in the middle east;
-- sense a strong domestic political need to visibly tilt toward Arab nations opposed to Israel and the US.
OF COURSE the French would oppose our efforts to overthrow Saddam! They were doing everything in their power to undermine sanctions against him and were looking forward to exploiting one-third of his oil reserves (see TotalFinaElf's sweetheart deal in Nov '02 to develop the W Qurna fields).
Here's my solution to your conundrum: let's create and further Asia-centric alliances and security structures for dealing with Asian, ie middle eastern and far eastern, security issues. I don't fault Bush nearly so much for failing to bring along the Germans and French as I do for failing to cultivate and win over the Turks, Jordan and (perhaps) the Saudis.
It's a colossal waste of time, in my view, to keep trying to deny the ineradicable conflict between us and the French (and to a lesser degree, the Germans) in the middle east.
Time to scrap NATO and start replacing it with an alliance that incorporates rising Asian and Eurasian powers such as Turkey and India and also
And quit wasting so much @!!*^%#^%!! time with can't help us, can't really hurt us European states like France and Germany.posted by: lex on 08.15.04 at 09:36 PM [permalink]
I do not have the precise figures on how Kerry's political support breaks down. I think it's reasonable to assume that the overwhelming majority of his support is purely partisan - ABB - and his actual draw based on his own merits is probably lower than any non-incumbent nominee in recent history.
This is where the Cambodia/Swift/Vietnam story really counts. He cannot parlay his twenty year senate record into votes from anyone concerned about national security, economic, or social policy.
Even Bill Clinton, fully aware of having full benefit of media bias and with the knowledge that Foley and Mitchell had painted Bush 1 as a liar via the tax summit tax increases, knew that a D.C. liberal was unelectable nationally. He worked the 'new' democrat label to the hilt precisely for that reason.
Kerry cannot run on his senate record. He gets a pass for being a war hero from his base because he repudiated his acts after the war...and he's not George Bush. If Kerry can't parlay four months running a swift boat into credentials for world leader he can't offer anything else. That's why the issue is important. That's why there's no Form 180 and little chance there ever will be.posted by: TmjUtah on 08.15.04 at 09:36 PM [permalink]
All this parsing of the NSS and it's meaning, both in the abstract and in its practice, it’s a waste of time.
The real issue, one that Kerry will fail (either in the election or in office, should enough voters be stupid enough to vote for him) is how do we respond security threats prior to their manifestation against Americans and American interests?
Bush's position, obviously, is that post 9/11, we cannot afford to wait. Deterrence will be action.
Kerry's position, as articulated in his convention acceptance speech, is that "any attack will be met with a swift and certain response." To Kerry, deterrence is the promise of action, but only after Americans are killed and American interests attacked.
In a world in which terrorists are very likely to acquire weapons of mass destruction in short order, can we afford to wait until they’ve nuked D.C.?
Kerry says yes. Bush says no. Vote according to your wishes.posted by: Tim on 08.15.04 at 09:36 PM [permalink]
hegemony, pre-emption, democratization -- your shorthand for Bush's NSS. OK, then answer this: what real threats has Bush pre-empted? Iraq didn't have WMD (as was shown by the UN inspections that the war cut short). Meanwhile, Korea goes nuclear and Iran is about to follow -- with no discernable, effective response on the part of Bush. So much for pre-emption. How about democratization in the Middle East (or Africa or Asia, if you like)? Give one example of a country that has become more democratic in the past four years due, at least in part, to Bush Administration policy. You can't. Finally, hegemony. That term can mean many different things, but let's consider it broadly, as the exercise of strong influence over the affairs of other countries. Well, we destroyed Saddam's regime, but I don't think you could say we're exercising any sort of meaningful control over affairs in Iraq right now. Meanwhile, we can't get the Europeans to go along with effective anti-Iran initiatives and we've let China take control of the situation with North Korea.
So, even on its own terms, Bush's NSS is a disaster.posted by: Charlie Robb on 08.15.04 at 09:36 PM [permalink]
Delongs first problem is that he mistakes Leadershp... IE; Marching in the direction of what's right knowing others will follow... with unilateralism.
Delong's problem apparently stems from his still not understanding what the definition of 'right' is.
Delong shouldn't think of himself being alone in this problem. We had quite a number of these prior to WWII, as well... Neville Chaimberlain among them.
TexasToast has an important point.
What would the grand strategy look like if it was done well?
I say, first we'd have to give up the idea that foreigners should like us. Who cares whether the french or the germans or the iraqis or anybody likes us or approves of what we're doing? If we're the empire, we tell them what to do and they do it whether they like it or not, and they don't complain because they don't want to get punished.
Who cares about NATO? NATO is the USA plus a few little european flourishes. If we're the empire, we should disband NATO and tell the europeans to disarm or else. We'll protect them from everybody but us. Who needs NATO, who needs europe to argue with us? They can pay taxes to us for our protection.
Surely we can run the EU better than they can run it themselves. Let them have their democracies, and when they come up with democratic stupidities we'll set them straight. (Too bad we don't have anybody to perform that service for us....)
Make it plain that if necessary we'll use WMDs on anybody who opposes us. If foreign populations fail to overthrow their antagonistic overlords before we take care of the problem, it's their own damn fault if we kill them.
This is what hegemony *means*. Pre-emption follows; we don't give our lackeys guarantees that they'll be OK if they conform minimally, we do what we want to them when we want to, and if they get our attention they get to re-negotiate from scratch every time. Democratization means they do what we want; we certainly don't intend to foster democracies that oppose us.
The document included at the beginning a vow that we would *never* allow US military supremacy to be challenged by another power. So long as we can maintain that, the rest works. It doesn't matter what the rest of the world thinks so long as they obey. There is no exit strategy from superpower status because they don't intend us ever to relinquish that status, the USA is intended to be the single world superpower forever.
My first thought was that this was a silly position when we're inevitably going to run out of aviation fuel, but that was because I hadn't thought it out. We *could* put up low-performance planes that sip corn oil. We use planes that guzzle avgas and do ten-gee turns because some of our potential enemies can afford fast planes too. When there isn't much oil we can still have the best military; it doesn't matter about the constraints provided our enemies face the same constraints and provided we can still invade any nation in the world and they can't beat us on their home ground. So long as we can kill any combination of enemies then we can ignore everybody else's preferences.
And that's all it takes to do the grand strategy well.
Hi Charlie Robb:
Give one example of a country that has become more democratic in the past four years due, at least in part, to Bush Administration policy. You can't.
Oh, yes I can. While you were sleeping, the Afghans took the liberty of restoring elections, the Iraqis created nationwide caucuses in preparation for elections, Khadaffi's son in Libya has begun opening up that country to foreign scrutiny and asserted that Libya, having scrapped many tons of nuclear materials, is seeking to institute some democratic reforms, and the Venezuelans just completed a nationwide presidential referendum.
You can go back to sleep now.
"....it appears the train wreck in Iraq..."
Isn't that what you quagmire types were calling it during the two day sandstorm during the invasion?
What? Iraq hasn't been transformed into Vermont yet? But it's been 18 months! Where's the plan?
I can only imagine what would have happened if FDR had to put up with the "are we there yet daddy?" contingent during WWII.......posted by: Stan on 08.15.04 at 09:36 PM [permalink]
I can think of 2 countries that are more democratic (did not say full fledged democracies...gotta roll around on the floor before you can crawl, etc..) today than they were 4 years ago. Are you suggesting that we should attack NoKo and Iran? NoKo went nuclear before Bush was in office and illustrates why if a rogue nation is on it's way to nuclear capabilities, we should pre-empt it. That does not mean that there is not pressure being put on NoKo (that would be multilateral pressure). Please answer this question for me. If Bush attacked Iran, would he A) be an imperialist aggressor who is attempting to take ALL of the oil in ME for his buddies (in addition to trying to destroy the ROP and establish a beachhead for McD's, KFC, Starbucks, and a new SUV dealership)? or B) would he be pre-empting a regime that is a known supporter of international terrorism from getting the capability to develop nuclear weapons? Which do you think the Euros would pick? The Looney Left? NYT? What would you do if you were faced with the same situations as GWB, if you were president?posted by: Charles on 08.15.04 at 09:36 PM [permalink]
You are getting the hang of it. Seriously, though, what would weaken themselves so that other countries don't get their feelings hurt? (Aside from a lot of EU countries) When was the last time the UK, Africa, S. America, Mexico, Canada, Most of Asia, Australia, worried about the U.S. invading or attacking? Colin Powell put it best when (paraphrased) said all we have ever asked for was a place to bury our men.posted by: Charles on 08.15.04 at 09:36 PM [permalink]
Has anyone on this site read Brad's
Delong is correct. We can not and must not rely on giant alien space (read: moon) bats to provide our security.posted by: Todd on 08.15.04 at 09:36 PM [permalink]
DOn't hate the playa, hate the game.posted by: Charles on 08.15.04 at 09:36 PM [permalink]
Bithead talks about "knowing others will follow". Given that the "coalition" in Iraq consists of 130000 US troops and a handful of others, it seems that DeLong is not alone in not understanding this leading and following thing...posted by: Marc O on 08.15.04 at 09:36 PM [permalink]
I think I've come up with a solution to the unilateral/multilateral issue.
We can do one of two things:
Come to a consensus with our 'allies' on what to do, then act,
Reach a decision regarding what we need to do then create a coalition of allies who agree with us.
Because our security interests were at stake, Bush chose the latter.
I say good for him!
posted by: Syl on 08.15.04 at 09:36 PM [permalink]
It appears your answer regarding multilateralism is simply to pick new allies whose interests dovetail with ours in south Asia. This sounds good, as far as it goes, but it seems to me our actions are undercutting these new “allies” with their own populations.
As to democracy creation, we seem to have created InstaDemocracies (TM) - a thin veneer of western democratic process on top of an Islamic culture. The only successful Islamic democracy that I am aware of is Turkey – and they did it without our help or interference. Your examples may turn out to be successes, but I fear it won’t be any time soon. Afghanistan seems to be reverting to a feudal society run by warlords and strongmen, with Karzai as the democracy cheerleader. One of the main reasons for our continued occupation in Iraq is the argument that one can’t have democracy without security, and we seem to have simply given up trying to establish true security in Afghanistan. Still, its relatively peaceful, it does what we want, and it gives us a base for future operations. Lets call it “democracy creation” and be happy. Right?
Perhaps that is the better approach – as our efforts to suppress opposition and establish security in Najaf, Fallujah, and other places seems to work against a peaceful democratic process and create more enemies for us. The suppression of Al Jazeera doesn’t exactly show the adoption of democratic values by our own surrogates – much less by the opponents of the regime we have created. The shia were supposed to be our “allies”, weren’t they? Woops again.
Texas Toast..if you read some of the Iraqi bloggers you'll find a more nuanced view than "the shia were supposed to be our 'allies', weren't they? Woops".
Only about 10% of the Shia support Sadr at all and part of that support is made up of those following what they think is the strong horse. The vast majority of the clerics, including the major one, Sistani, support us rather than al Sadr.
Basing your analysis of the Iraq situation on false premises only gets you false conclusions.posted by: Syl on 08.15.04 at 09:36 PM [permalink]
At first I thought this was a parody, but I guess its not. I'd like to ask some of you who have this same attitude a few questions.
Are you aware of the impact that foreign grad students in the US have in areas such as scientific research, product development, technological innovation? We are already seeing a large down turn in grad applications. What do you think will happen to us if we cease being the magnet for the world's best minds? Is the latest Einstein now sitting somewhere observing this strange change in the US and deciding to go to Cambridge instead of MIT?
On a more personal level, there are many of us who feel a deep connection and respect for the rest of the world and would like these feelings to be mutual. I'd like to be able to go to museums in Paris and Berlin and not feel like I have to say I'm Canadian. I'd like to soak in the rich culture of Tuscany or the Greek Isles without having to keep a low profile because I'm an arrogant, insular American. A great deal of our own heritage is intertwined with ideals from Greek, Roman, British and other antecedents. We don't exist in a vacuum.
You state, "The document included at the beginning a vow that we would *never* allow US military supremacy to be challenged by another power. So long as we can maintain that, the rest works."
Well, what exactly is "the rest?" This so called grand strategy only relates to military supremacy. The omission of any strategy related to quality of life issues is breathtaking. It's like being alive during the fall of the Roman Empire. Historians years from now are going to be as puzzled as we are now towards the ancient Romans, as to how those alive at the time permitted their world to slowly decay and crumble.posted by: hank on 08.15.04 at 09:36 PM [permalink]
I wasn't talking just about Sadr. Go read Juan Cole about the Shiite clerics "on our side". They seem to be tilting the other way.
PS You actually used the word "nuanced"? :)posted by: TexasToast on 08.15.04 at 09:36 PM [permalink]
I ran across your good points on US foreign policy both here and at Medienkritik and agree witn you that the idea of the US ceding (degrees of) its hegemony to please certain "allies" is self-sabotage at its loopiest. You also wisely speak to our need for better Asian alliances. Still, have you considered the impact an Asian focus will have on our children? My daughter is learning Japanese and some Thai, but she really ought to study Chinese, Malaysian and Indian dialects along with Arabic and Farsi. Seems so unfair that the generation putting this language burden on its progeny had it so easy in their own foreign language requirements. Should we BlameBush? At least under a Kerry "Let America be Europhiles again" presidency, kids would be able to relax and brush off their parents' old French and German primers.
Your email address doesn't appear to be current, and so I am forced to post verbiage that doesn't advance any argument here. Apologies.posted by: charlotte on 08.15.04 at 09:36 PM [permalink]
This is an utterly pointless discussion. Bush wants to fight the war, but because of domestic politics he cannot.
And Kerry won't fight the war (you're completely delusional if you think he does).
Either way, we lose. Too bad. It was a grand experiment while it lasted.posted by: Tim on 08.15.04 at 09:36 PM [permalink]
t seems from this post that Prof. Dresner does accept and support the Bush “grand strategy”, as articulated by Gaddes and others, of preemption, hegemony and democracy creation. The question remains , however, what would a “well implemented” version of this strategy look like?
It seems to me that this is the question the right has not answered.
This *is* the 'well implemented' version of that strategy- war is messy, nation-building is messy, and establishing a democracy in a state where the neighbors don't want democracy is *very* messy. Anyone who tells you otherwise is either ignorant of history (and I readily admit that many on my side of the issue *are*) or trying to mislead.
The questions that need to be answered, IMO, are
1) if Kerry would continue the current strategy,
1a) if not, what strategy Kerry would be using, (waiting for Iran to declare itself a nuclear power is *not* a strategy)
2) how that would be better for the US, both in the short term and the long term, than what Bush is doing.
Obviously, these are questions the _left_ needs to answer, not the right.posted by: rosignol on 08.15.04 at 09:36 PM [permalink]
Tim wants to fight a real war, darn it. He wants a Normandy, a D-Day! But all he has is a mishmash of terrorist groups dispersed all over the globe, many of whom are only interested in local issues, not storming beaches. Poor Tim.posted by: poorTim on 08.15.04 at 09:36 PM [permalink]
I have in the back of my mind the unworthy thought that studying the Bush administration's "grand strategy" is like contemplating the military strategy of John Bell Hood.
That is unfair. The Bush administration did seek to attack the enemy after 9/11, it is true, but not blindly or recklessly; it struck both hard and shrewdly in Afghanistan before beginning the Iraq operation. Its primary goal there -- preventing Iraqi weapons of mass destruction being transferred into the hands of people who would use them against us -- having been, shall we say, overtaken by events, the administration has taken to emphasizing, intermittently, a goal shared by some though not all of its members. This is the creation of a democratic Iraq, as the first step in creating a wave of democratization across the Middle East.
Now, as far as Paul Wolfowitz is concerned this represents grand strategy. For George W. Bush it is simply improvisation. Bush's thinking on foreign policy before 9/11 was a blank canvas, and Wolfowitz and his allies were simply the first people to show up with some paint and a brush. Even so more pragmatic considerations -- the WMD issue, the recognition that an Iraq that did not need to be contained would not require American troops in Saudi Arabia -- drove post-9/11 American policy toward Iraq until events made them moot. As a means of justifying the war, democratization is Plan B.
Unilateralism is similarly a fancy name applied by both Bush's supporters and opponents to describe an America that puts its own interests first. As Dan suggests, America like all nations has done this fairly consistently throughout its history; as a doctrinal innovation there is nothing much to Bush's unilateralism. There is a great deal to it as a reflection of Bush's personal preferences; he does not like having to explain himself to foreign leaders or the media, and really does not like the time and effort doing so diverts from his abiding preoccupation, the 2004 campaign. To the extent his administration prefers unilateralism it does so largely because this involves less work for Bush personally. On subjects where his direct involvement is not required -- say, the resuscitation of the Doha round of trade talks -- his administration is as multilaterally inclined as any other.
Now, having dismissed the idea that Bush administration policy is a product of grand strategy I should note that most administrations have pursued policies recognizable as strategy only after the fact. World politics is not chess; unless you are Henry Kissinger you can't see more than a couple of moves ahead, and even Kissinger didn't always see the board clearly. Foreign policy is a matter of defining American goals -- something that is heavily influenced by what American goals have been in the past -- and pursuing them as best one can a step at a time. I don't think the absence of a grand strategy is necessarily a strike against the Bush administration. I do object to the pretense that steps obviously gotten up on the spur of the moment reflect the strategic design of a President who in public can barely explain what he had for breakfast, let alone his vision for America's role in the world.
I don't object to improvisation either; anyone who does shouldn't even be thinking about foreign policy, let alone designing it. As long as goals are properly defined and understood -- as long as they are worthy, attainable, and consistent with one another -- the path toward attaining them can consist almost entirely of improvised steps and still find its way home. It is in the definition and understanding of foreign policy goals where I see the present administration falling short, especially with respect to Iraq.posted by: Zathras on 08.15.04 at 09:36 PM [permalink]
I'd like to visit Paris, Berlin, the Greek Isles and Tuscany and not have to hide my disgust at their puerile and immoral politics. Cheapshots at American policy is what many Europeans spout and spew instead of looking at the farce that is their own "soft power". Old Europe does nothing about genocide, terrorism, and proliferation round the world and at home, other than to wring hands, explain away, or even to do business with the perpetuator governments. In its proxy fight against the US, the EU has kept the Israeli-Palestinian crisis at a boil by backing Arafat. Chirac had lucrative business deals with Saddam, and so the French opposed our Iraq war "on principle". The EU hasn't been able to stop Iran's nuclear program, as they crowed they could, but they nix UN sanctions against the mad mullahs. The EU says "no" to sanctions against the Sudan because they have a more sophisticated understanding of what "genocide" means than do the Yanks. Apparently, mass murder and mayhem do not add up to "genocide" when French oil interests and Arab loyalties are at stake.
As an American, I offer no apologies for my nationality to those very unserious Western Europeans. Sure, Europe is a great museum to visit, but the only changing exhibits I ever see when I go these days are the mushrooming Muslim communities and migration of West Euro businesses to vigorous East Europe and Asia.
There is no worry over which way the brain-drain flows in this world; it flows right into the US basin. Only terrorism regs have affected visa and schooling applications for international students, but the impact is not significant. Americans could "connect" better with other nations, if they were to pull out of an outdated Eurocentric worldview. Asia, Australia, Latin America and Africa are ripe for more US engagement. I, for one, have been getting my passport stamped in non-Euro countries where the attitudes are less condescending and more pragmatic. Beautiful places, too!posted by: charlotte on 08.15.04 at 09:36 PM [permalink]
I think that it is a mistake to think that France and the United States have had the same geopolitical interests, at least since the end of the WW I. Fascinating article at: http://www.policyreview.org/aug04/kojeve.html
The article was apparently presented to de Gaulle after it was written in 1945. It explains quite a bit of why France has acted the way it has since then. It posits that since WW II, the world has come to be ruled by empires, as compared to nations. He claims that Germany lost that war because it was stuck in the previous epoc. At the time the article was written, he looks at two empires, a slavic / Orthodox empire, in the form of the USSR, and an Anglo-American / Protestant empire. France was stuck between them, and alone would not have the whereforall to stand up to either one. He pushes the formation of a Roman Catholic empire, centered in France, Italy, and Spain, and, of course, led primarily by France. He also pushes to get these countries' colonies back, to help with this "empire". The point of this would be to play these two empires off against each other, with a slight leaning towards the Americans and British, and to be big enough that they would not get run over.
Almost 60 years later, this article explains quite a bit of how France has acted since then. It explains how France was so stupid in both Vietnam and Algeria. It explains why France pulled out of NATO. It also explains the origins of the EU.
The author expected that the Germans would ally with the British and the Americans, since they are somewhat more Protestant than Catholic, have hated the French for millenia, etc. The Germans, of course, joined the French in founding the EU, but I suspect that the author would applaud that, as it gives their empire even more weight.
Thus, is France an ally of ours? Only tokenly. Are their geopolitical interests the same as ours? No, and it should be noted that thwarting us, in and by itself, is seen as in France's self interest, esp. after the formal demise of the Slavic empire (aka, the USSR).
One other note about the article is that the author suggests allying with the Moslem world. He believed that it would not be that hard to do.posted by: Bruce Hayden on 08.15.04 at 09:36 PM [permalink]
"Iraq didn't have WMD (as was shown by the UN inspections that the war cut short)."
In a sense, you are correct, that Iraq had no WMD when the war started. However, according to today's Washington Times, there is mounting intelligence that Saddam had it removed to Syria with the help of his own border agents just before Operation Iraqi Freedom began. See the story,
"Meanwhile, Korea goes nuclear"
... for which we can thank the Clinton Administration, who turned a blind eye to N. Korea's violation of its no nuke promises made back in the early 1990s in exchange for U.S. economic aid. N. Korea was well on its way to nukes with impunity before Clinton and Gore left office.
"and Iran is about to follow -- with no discernable, effective response on the part of Bush. ... Meanwhile, we can't get the Europeans to go along with effective anti-Iran initiatives and we've let China take control of the situation with North Korea."
Not discernible to you, of course, since the media isn't reporting it. Read up on the Administration's Proliferation Security Initiative and the Caspian Guard, directed at choking off both N. Korea and Iran's nuclear development, at http://www.techcentralstation.com/072904B.html
The Bush Doctrine of preemption is merely an extension of U.S. foreign policy since WWII, beginning with President Truman's policy of containment toward the Soviets, continuing to the Reagan doctrine of "peace through strength," which culminated in the demise of the Soviet Union.
Even that cowboy President Bush knows that preemption doesn't necessarily mean putting down the enemy through military action, or even unilaterally. Both the PSI and the Caspian Guard are being pursued through peaceful means and with the assistance of many nations, even those who opposed our action in Iraq. According to the State Department's website, more than 60 countries have signed on to the PSI in the first year.
I'm sure you consider yourself a well-informed person, but it helps to take a look at all the facts, not just those spoon-fed you by the "ABB" media.posted by: lawduck on 08.15.04 at 09:36 PM [permalink]
there are many of us who feel a deep connection and respect for the rest of the world and would like these feelings to be mutual. I'd like to be able to go to museums in Paris and Berlin and not feel like I have to say I'm Canadian. I'd like to soak in the rich culture of Tuscany or the Greek Isles without having to keep a low profile because I'm an arrogant, insular American.
??? If you're so unsure of yourself that you feel the need to say you're Canadian, I'm not sure I can help you, but I can say that, having spent many years in a country that's no friend of the US and that has a cultural heritage as great as those you mention, it's patently silly for anyone to go into a proud nation expecting to be liked.
I'm pretty sure that you have not experienced a level of raw hatred, spilling into open violence, directed against the US such as I witnessed in Russia in 1999 during the Kosovo air campaign. One of my (Canadian, as it turns out) co-workers was attacked on the streets of Moscow. Shots were fired into the US Embassy. My parents cancelled their trip to visit me.
I never felt the need to apologize to any of my Russian friends, colleagues, business partners, landlord or anyone I came into contact with on the streets because it's just politics. Sport for intellectuals. This discussion will not save the world or make any difference to anyone. As more than one gypsy Russian cabbie said to me at that time (I speak Russian), "Yeah, you're an OK guy but I tell you, if I were young I'd grab a rifle and be on the next train to Beograd!"
Nothing personal. BTW, your Greek hosts feel the same way about Cyprus.
Oh, and if you care to probe a little under the surface of our Tuscan idyll you may learn that many of your Tuscan hosts-- certainly more than a few of the 500,000 Italians who snapped up that rather disagreeable old Florentine woman's latest anti-muslim screed-- would love to kick the *&^%$%#%$# out of the muslim homeless shlumping around the center of Florence. No doubt plenty of those who wear kaffiyehs would love to blow up some Israeli settlers.
And in the Louvre you may encounter some of the kids from les cites who take pleasure in spray-painting statues and other gems from France's patrimoine.
In short, your tender feelings strike me as no less ludicrous, no less a badge of self-absorption, as the Ugly American demanding that everyone speak English to him. Despite your protestations, you live, as Ugly A. does, in an America-centric world. He expects everyone to bow before him; you expect everyone to applaud you and your president.
I myself couldn't give a shit what strangers think about either one. Certainly not while playing tourist and admiring the Farnese Palace or the parthenon.
My advice to you would be to toughen up a bit and recognize that national conflict and resentment is the normal state of human affairs.
A great deal of our own heritage is intertwined with ideals from Greek, Roman, British and other antecedents. We don't exist in a vacuum.
True, but our destiny, like the world's destiny, clearly resides in Asia. Frankly, what your Greek and Roman and British hosts think means a helluva lot less to us and our future than the choices made by millions of Chinese and Indians and Japanese.posted by: lex on 08.15.04 at 09:36 PM [permalink]
It's always comforting to know that knowing nothing about the subject won't stop the opinions from flowing.
Anyone here read Tommy Franks' book yet?
I have, and it appears
(a) he thinks Rumsfeld is doing a decent job;
(b) he thinks the President has provided sound leadership;
(c) he never thought post-war operations in Iraq were going to be easy and none of the post war planning he was involved in was premised on it being easy; and
(d) he thinks Iraq was an entirely appropriate next step after the Afghanistan campaign.
Of course, as commander of CENTCOM at the time, what does he know ....posted by: BradDad on 08.15.04 at 09:36 PM [permalink]
He pushes the formation of a Roman Catholic empire, centered in France, Italy, and Spain, and, of course, led primarily by France.
lol That's so classically French. Soc ialist, Catholic, left, right-- it all comes down to the deep parochialism of a rural nation that's still terrified of protestant individualism and yankee commerc ialism.
Maybe, in order to shut them up for once and for all, we should just sign a separate trade agreement with the French under which we agree to restrain WalMart and all big box retailers from ever setting foot in France; provide a subsidy of $30,000 per farmer for every wizened old peasant within fifty km of the major tourist autoroutes; guarantee a floor price for all Bordeaux futures from the ten leading houses from now through 2040; and agree to drastically reduced American tourist quotas to limit the number of sensitive sould like "hank" who clutter the Quai d'Orsay each year.
This passage fromthe 1945 French outline for a Latin "Empire" to offset the Germano-Anglo-American Protestant "Empire" is especially funny:
the Latin “mentality”... is specifically characterized by that art of leisure which is the source of art in general, by the aptitude for creating this “sweetness of living” which has nothing to do with material comfort, by that “dolce far niente” itself which degenerates into pure laziness only if it does not follow a productive and fertile labor (to which the Latin Empire will give birth through the sole fact of its existence).
This shared mentality — which entails a profound sense of beauty generally (and especially in France) associated with a very distinct sense of proportion and which thus permits the transformation of simple “bourgeois” well-being into aristocratic “sweetness” of living and the frequent elevation to delight of pleasures which, in another setting, would be (and are, in most cases) “vulgar” pleasures — this mentality not only assures the Latin people of their real — that is to say political and economic — union.
It also, in a way, justifies this union in the eyes of the world and of History. Of the world, for if the two other imperial Unions will probably always be superior to the Latin Union in the domain of economic work and of political struggles, one is entitled to suppose that they will never know how to devote themselves to the perfection of their leisure as could, under favorable circumstances, the unified Latin West.... [I]t is precisely to the organization and the “humanization” of its free time that future humanity will have to devote its efforts.
(Did Marx himself not say, in repeating, without realizing it, a saying of Aristotle’s: that the ultimate motive of progress, and thus of social ism, is the desire to ensure a maximum of leisure for man?)
Mais bien sur... ils ont la bombe, la technologie et l'Armee Rouge, mais nous avons la irresistible force du LOISIR!posted by: lex on 08.15.04 at 09:36 PM [permalink]
I agree completely with the posters here who disparage preemption. Don't do anything until Americans die, is my way of thinking! Not a hand should be lifted, not a troop dispatched! Let them kill all the Americans they want to. And then, after we get Germany's permission, if the Democratic Party says it's okay (and they will, as long as it's not an election year with a Republican incumbent... gotta have those priorities in order, after all), if we won't be damaging any investments French companies have in the region, THEN and ONLY then we will dispatch the full force of the American supboenaing process and haul those dirty terrorists into court! That'll show 'em! That's the kind of behavior the UN can get behind!
But why are we assuming that the Bush administration *has* a grand strategy, apart from doing something big and getting re-elected? There's precious little evidence that there is a grand strategy of the depth that so many bloggers, both pro-Bush and anti-Bush, assume. What there is of strategy is etched out by the re-emergence of CIA-State Dept conventional wisdom on Iran, North Korea, etc. These policies are not too different from Clinton's.
What you see with the Bushies is what's become of the Republican party -- less conservative with each year, dogmatically lazy, obsessed with spin and the media, and assuming that when they invade Iraq, everything must go according to some script spun out by Wolfowitz and believed in with fervent faith by Bush. I've actually had discussions with neocon friends who seriously think Bush is channeling Bernard Lewis - has Bush even *heard* of Bernard Lewis? Has Rumsfeld?
The blog world is made up of armchair strategists attributing too much *intent* to this administration. Remember when Bush came into office, he was fixated on the opposite of what he's doing now.
Really.posted by: Dallas on 08.15.04 at 09:36 PM [permalink]
France has no real interests outside Europe. French foreign policy outside Europe is defined by the personal pecuniary interests of its political elites. Sales of French goods are merely vehicles to secure kickbacks aka bribes for whoever controls the French government at the moment.
This is true even in Europe to some extent. Milosevic's bribes to then President Mitterand of France availed him nothing when Chirac replaced Mitterand. So the French changed their position on Bosnia from supporting the Serbs to opposing them. That is one of the reasons why the Bosnians survived (Clinton is most of the other reasons).
Milosevic then immediately started bribing Chirac so, when Kosovo became an issue, the French government sided with the Serbs. But Milosevic couldn't pay Chirac fast enough over Bosnia.
Stop thinking in terms of national interests where France is concerned. French national interests are almost entirely confined to the old EU area. Outside Europe you should consider the behavior of the French government as if France is just another tin-pot third world tyranny. What's in it for them that run the government?posted by: Tom Holsinger on 08.15.04 at 09:36 PM [permalink]
Some of you people are freakin' nuts. What is the real genesis of your bizarre hatred of France? FOX "News?" France has acted, well, french, forever. It's not like there has been a recent turn of attitude. I'm not saying that the French advocate for US interests, but the level of your venom is inappropriate to the behavior of the French. This is what I hate most about the Bush Admin. For whatever reason, it has touched a nasty chord in some people, and it has created an atmosphere where it's like everyday people have suddenly been given the go-ahead to speak in terms that are just outside the bounds of civilized behavior. Can't tell the difference from some of these posters and the crap coming out of al Queda. Mindless hate. Hate that is out of proportion to events. Hate that refuses to differentiate. Hate without scale or balance. The scary thing is that one can see how easy it would be to turn some of you people into Nazi-like creatures, ready to kill anybody for the state regardless of the consequences for your country or your children. You are so ready to hate something, anything that Limbaugh or Cannity just need say the word and all you automatons will burn every icecream store to the ground. Or hate people from Iceland. Or people who wear green. Or ????posted by: toarms! on 08.15.04 at 09:36 PM [permalink]
Some of you people are freakin' nuts. What is the real genesis of your bizarre hatred of France? FOX "News?" France has acted, well, french, forever.
Yes, I know.
What has changed is that I (and, it seems, a lot of other people) are no longer willing to put up with it. Now that the Soviet Union is gone, why should France's perfidy be tolerated?
I can not think of any good reasons.
By the way, you're wrong about the feeling being expressed towards France. It's not hate- it's contempt.posted by: rosignol on 08.15.04 at 09:36 PM [permalink]
You have no idea what is going on here in America.
We have 2.4 million Viet Vets, 80% of them with an x-ray hatred of Kerry. Not white hot. X-ray.
They are digging up dirt on this slime ball about 3X faster than he can vacuum it up.
Now obviously you are not being kept well informed on the subject.
Mifgt I suggest you get a copy of "Unfit for Command" and find out what it is all about.
Or google - kerry swift boat.
Kerry is running on a Nam record that has more holes than swiss chese. And we haven't even got to the part about him slaughtering farm animals and comitting other war crimes.
To watch the day by day unraveling and the work product of a bunch of reaearchers on the subject go here:
There are hundreds each with their own ideas looking for something on Kerry and his relationship to Vietnam.
Let me leave you with a little joke to help you understand Kerry's current political situation.
Why did Kerry run on his Vietnam record?
Because sleeping in the Senate for twenty years doesn't sound near as good as shooting a man in the back.
What is the War Hero Afraid of?
I don't hate the French. I speak the language, love the culture, work for a French company. What I find annoying is the persistent stupidity of our political and media elites that's shown in the insistence-- against all the evidence and all logic-- that France is an ally. This notion surprises the French, who consider themselves a rival to the US. Whether it's the statements of top politicians, the essays of intellectuals or the results of opinion polls, it's overwhelmingly clear that, since 1990, the vast majority of the French have viewed the US as a grave threat to France's independence and status as a major, self-respecting power.
This has nothing to do with Bush and everything to do with the cold facts of international power relations. Chirac repeatedly went out of his way to humiliate Clinton during the 1990s, and even if Nader gained the White House, Chirac would do his level best to thwart and where possible humiliate a President Nader. It has nothing to do with Republicans or Dems or Fox News.
France is far more sympathetic culturally than is supposed-- they're much more capitalist than the press perceives-- and far less sympathetic strategically than is supposed. Perhaps such a subtle and difficult distinction is beyond the heads of our politicians and mainstream journalists, but such is life.
Nothing against the individual French, BTW-- they're great people. Hope to buy a house there someday, possibly retire there.
lexposted by: lex on 08.15.04 at 09:36 PM [permalink]
The French have been doing what they should do - base their foreign policy on their own national interest, as they perceive it. They'll draw no criticism from me for that.
What galls me (sorry for the pun) is the degree to which (a) France - and other nations - doesn't appear to believe we have the same right; and (b) Americans - you know who you are - seem to believe any American policy which doesn't win the approval of the French is illegitimate.
On Iraq, the interests of the United States and those of France, Germany & Russia diverged.
France, Germany & Russia had business relationships in Iraq - with Saddam - to protect, did not fear becoming targets of any WMD Saddam might give to terrorists - they knew we'd be the target - and more or less agreed with Saddam's preferred resolution of the Palestinian / Israeli conflict.
Given we're in the bullseye, we feel a bit differently about the potential of Saddam giving WMD to terrorists - and unlike much of "official" old Europe, we're not in favor of sacrificing Israel to make the Palestinians happy.posted by: BradDad on 08.15.04 at 09:36 PM [permalink]
Bithead talks about "knowing others will follow". Given that the "coalition" in Iraq consists of 130000 US troops and a handful of others, it seems that DeLong is not alone in not understanding this leading and following thing...
30 other countries means nothing to you.
On the other side.
France is in many ways disposed toward us roughly as Russia is, esp in the middle east, where they are determined to displace us and thwart us wherever they can.
No one seriously believes Russia's an ally. Why does our political class maintain the fiction that France is an ally?
What will it take to overcome this nonsense? Do we have to wait for the day, hopefully not too far off, when a majority of our congressmen, DoD and State and CIA officials are of non-European origin?posted by: lex on 08.15.04 at 09:36 PM [permalink]
Isn't it obvious that when deciding for whom to vote what Kerry did in Vietnam and what Bush did after he graduated, and before he got religion, are near the lowest rungs on the criterial ladder?
While I agree our falling out with France is largely over our respective national interests, it certainly was alarming to see the degree to which France sees her interests diverging from our own. Chirac's France did not merely decline to join our Coalition, it led the charge against it. His France is not just not our ally, nor merely neutral or mildly set against us. It did its damnedest to turn international opinion against our efforts and stop us from unseating Saddam, and obviously not for pacifist principles, as some poor souls are deluded into believing.
In the bigger picture, though, Chirac's policies are not only an expression of French interests over ours, but an affront to much of the civilized world. (They say the same thing about us! But they're wrong and we're right, you see...) Just when other nations usually led by the US start to muster the will to act against certain humanitarian, terrorist or proliferation abuses by rotten regimes and fanatical factions, Chirac would sue to be their (non-military) protector and friend. Just look at a few that have been on his Christmas list: Saddam's Iraq, Iran, Syria, Rwanda, the Sudan, Zimbabwe, Togo, Bongo, China (against Taiwan), North Korea, and Michael Moore.
toarms, I don't hear anybody advocating wild-eyed hatred of the French people, whose salon politics, with notable exceptions, range from the inane to exasperating, especially toward Americans. Most of us realize their politics can be like couture fashion worn over both their better convictions and parochialism. My daughter makes regular trips to the country and has always been accorded the best of hospitality. She loves it there and even gets away with not disavowing her President, somehow. Still, this conservative "automaton" continues to refuse French wine in the absence of further directives from FOX. I, also, am waiting for PETA to launch their campaign against French cruelty to snails for the nice bumper sticker it would make.
You state, "The document included at the beginning a vow that we would *never* allow US military supremacy to be challenged by another power. So long as we can maintain that, the rest works."
Well, what exactly is "the rest?" This so called grand strategy only relates to military supremacy. The omission of any strategy related to quality of life issues is breathtaking.
Hank, I was not doing parody but also I was not doing advocacy. I was looking at where the ideas are heading.
If you start out with the idea that military supremacy is all that matters, and you believe that you do have military supremacy, then all the other strategies can be "Whatever I want". Not enough money to support the bloated military? Tax the rest of the world to pay for it, they owe it to us for enforcing the Pax Americana. Not enough bright foreign grad students choose to study here? Requisition them. Etc.
I think people may pick up this attitude by listening to too many war-history buffs. Armies in the field get whatever they want -- in wartime. They can requisition what they want, occupy what they want, etc. If they start getting too many civilians doing resistance they can hold tribunals and then hang who they want. It's a heady thing to hear about the way armies can get quick decisive results, during wartime. It's only natural to think about how quick and decisive it would be to make decisions that easily all the time.
My biggest concern is that we might not be a (an only) superpower forever. Ideally we should work for the good of the whole world and look for a way to step down gracefully when we can't keep it going. I'd hate to be in the world's only only-former-superpower when we suddenly couldn't protect ourselves from the world htat hates us. Better not encourage the world to hate us.
I have other concerns but that's the biggest one. I figure that one ought to be a show-stopper unless we deal with it. We need an exit strategy for being the world's only superpower.
J Thomas -
Many prominent Democrats reflect your worldview.
That's why it is essential as few of them as possible are allowed responsible positions in any level of government.
tired of irrelavancies -
I'm not as nearly impressed with anything Kerry has said as much as I am with his rhetoric and legislative record as reflected in his 20 years of senate experience. If he was to actually do what he says what he would do (if anyone has been able to figure out what that actually is beyond "what Bush is doing, but better") it would be a categorical rejection of his and his party's philosophy.
I don't think that's likely. He can stay on as Kennedy's page.posted by: TmjUtah on 08.15.04 at 09:36 PM [permalink]
Read the TNR peice, but not the Leffler essay, and its funny you mention them, cause you are talking 2003. Its 2004 -- AND WE'VE SEEN THE RESULTS. This is a Miss America strategy for foreign policy -- i.e. wishful thinking. I don't care if you love the ideaology -- YOU yourself have said this policy team is messed up beyond comparison. Hence, they are going to be as effective in implementing "democracy promotion" as Miss America is going to be in ending World Hunger. Actually, check that, because Miss America usually isn't a glutton. However, its pretty clear that some members of this administration are the most illiberal and secretive (you've said the latter yourself, many times) people in all of Washington. I 'm sure they'll provide great democratic role models.posted by: Jor on 08.15.04 at 09:36 PM [permalink]
UPDATE: Brad responds, wins "game and set."posted by: Golgotha on 08.15.04 at 09:36 PM [permalink]
I'd hate to be in the world's only only-former-superpower when we suddenly couldn't protect ourselves from the world htat hates us. Better not encourage the world to hate us.
The parochialism of this charge always astounds me. Let's take a little tour d'horizon and see where exactly we find significantly higher levels of anti-US sentiment than in the late 1990s:
CHINA: there is no evidence that the Chinese resent us more today than when China-bashing (over human rights, mainly) was at its height during the 1990s and was manifest in the spy plane incident in early 2001. Change in Amerophobia since 1990s: none or slight, pre-9/11 increase.
INDIA: anti-US sentiment has always been high in post-imperial India, partly as a residue of anti-British feeling, partly from years of soc ialist pro-Soviet third way preaching by the country's elite. However, with the rise of the BJP and increased anti-muslim sentiment it seems extremely unlikely that anti-Americanism has increased. What we see are increasing overtures from India to Israel and the US. Change in Amerophobia since 1990s: slight decrease.
RUSSIA: anti-US sentiment reached its peak in 1999 during the Kosovo air campaign. Popular banner held up by elite university students in Moscow read, "MONICA: SHARPEN YOUR TEETH!" US Embassy was shot at; foreigners speaking English were attacked in the streets. Change in Amerophobia since 1999: significant decrease.
JAPAN: hard to say. Japan is eager to see US hegemony maintained so that China may be balanced and N Korea contained. Culturally, the Japanese show a level of indifference to the environment that exceeds anything seen in the US. Best guess is no significant change in anti-US sentiment since 1990s.
SOUTHEAST ASIA: perhaps an increase in anti-Americanism in muslim Indonesia but more likely neutrality in the wake of the Bali atrocity; a decrease in those parts of SE Asia that are alarmed by the rise of jihadist terror across the region (Australia, Singapore, NZ, Vietnam, sopme Filipinos). Net-net, Bali probably outweighs Iraq, hence a decrease in anti-Americanism.
"MODERATE" ARAB STATES (Jordan, Egypt, Saudi, etc): clearly a huge increase in anti-US sentiment due to the Iraq war.
AFRICA: too large and diverse to characterize accurately, but clearly we're seeing a sharp and growing cleft between evangelical Christian Africans and muslim Africans, esp. in the most important African state, Nigeria. Obviously, the former tend to be more pro-US and the latter more anti-US than was the case five years ago.
EUROPE: fair to say that across Europe-- Old and New, West and East, North and South-- there has been a significant rise in anti-American sentiment, especially in Germany, also in Britain. Exceptions to this would include the smaller East European states that remain grateful for our opposition to the Soviets and for entry into NATO (the Balts, Romania, Bulgaria).
Also, the most deeply anti-American of the Europeans-- the French, Spaniards who remember the days of our support for Franco, Greeks who remember the strife of the 1970s-- are not more anti-American than in the 1990s. The evidence suggests that French anti-Americanism in particular spiked in 1991-1992 (from about 35-40% of those surveyed in 1988 to 55-60% in 1992) as a result of what was for France a catastrophic shift in world politics: the end of the SU, the unification of Germany and the ascendancy of a US hyperpuissance without rival.
TURKEY: probably a significant increase in anti-Americanism, as shown by the extraordinary decision to refuse us landing rights prior to the invasion.
LATIN AMERICA: perhaps an increase in anti-Americanism in Brazil and Venezuela; no significant change everywhere else. No evidence that the Mexicans would prefer to see Senor Bush's party replaced in the White Hosue by a Mexico-bashing, increasingly isolationist and populist Democratic party.
Sum of the above:
--a huge increase in anti-Americanism in two regions (Arab world and in most of western Europe);
--a slight decrease in two nations that comprise 1/4 of the world's population, 1/3 of its natural gas, and most of its technical talent and stocks of NBC weapons that are outside the US: India and Russia;
--net-net, no significant change in China, Japan, Africa and Latin America.
I don't know about you, but my take on the above is that anti-Americanism is a problem specific to our relations with two regions in particular, not "the world." In every other region-- especially the crucial nations ie China Japan India and Russia-- there has been no significant increase in anti-Americanism during the Bush administration (and in the case of India and Russia, a slight decrease).
In other words, the problem is not anti-Americanism per se but a clear and growing strategic divergence from much of western Europe, which we can expect will, increasingly, expand its ties with the Arab states (and Iran as well) both as a matter of opportunism (significant contracts and political influence to be gained) and necessity (fear of desperately-needed arab immigrants causing domestic upheavals).
Properly understood, the problem is the potential fusion of these two geostrategic views. Call it the "Eurabian tendency".
What should be our response to the Eurabian drift? Obviously, we have nothing to gain from this and should not make it worse than it is. But it seems equally obvious that by crudely conflating this very regional problem with our global relations-- especially with far more important nations such as China-- we run the risk of, as usual, failing to understand those non-European and non-Arab nations' concerns on their own terms and applying bogus solutions that neither advance our interests nor address the real problem with any effectiveness.
India, Japan, and Australia (and Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore, a wise and very influential leader in the region) are all on our side. Russia is helping and can help even more if handled properly. China is China and has its own concerns and special requirements. The Africans and Latins have their own problems.
It's about time we recognized where our longer-term strategic interests lie. Time to start shifting resources and attention to the Eurasian and Asian powers and prepare for the inevitable evolution of a Eurabian geostrategic bund.
Lex, thank you for the detailed and well-reasoned analysis.
I think that we can't depend on the Bali incident to improve other people's opinion of us. They may choose to dislike us and the terrorists both.
And you seem to make no distinction between what governments do and what their citizens think. In some countries it probably doesn't much matter what the citizens think. But both governments and populaces can change their opinions very quickly, given a big stimulus.
You point out that our recent problems all involve europe/middle-east. By coincidence, this is the region we have been throwing our weight around. We have been pushing japan to develop a navy and become a regional power. We have mostly accepted that north korea is in the chinese sphere of interest. We have accepted that chechnya is russian and we won't interfere.
In practice we mostly haven't been acting like a superpower, except in the middle east. We've been *talking* that way, but they pay more attention to what we do than what we say. And we haven't actually thrown our weight around anywhere except the middle east.
And middle east oil is important to everybody. So of course china and japan are both trying very hard to get oil pipelines from siberia.
Iraqi oil isn't that important yet, they can't pump a whole lot, and they can't pump it reliably because of the resistance. Do the tremendous iraqi reserves matter that much? Too soon to tell, we mostly have Saddam's word for a lot of those reserves. If we go after iran or saudi arabia the rest of the world is likely to get a whole lot more upset at us. Right now they're strongly in appeasement mode.
Bushies talk like they think we're the one world superpower even though we aren't particularly that on the ground. What's the exit strategy away from pretending we're a superpower?
Thanks for your reply. To your points:
I think that we can't depend on the Bali incident to improve other people's opinion of us. They may choose to dislike us and the terrorists both.
Many postmodern Europeans do, but this is not the way most non-Europeans think. Most people on this planet still prefer to take sides. If we are at war with the jihadists, most Russians and Indians and probably a plurality of Chinese and Japanese will take our side. Those four countries alone comprise about half the world's population. That's enough support for me.
Your notion that the US does not behave "like a superpower" in Asia is bizarre. The only reason Taiwan is not part of mainland China is the projection of US power right up to China's shores. Likewise, the notion that we're throwing our weight around western Europe is off the mark. You may not have noticed but we're withdrawing most of our troops from western Europe.
America's behavior does not dictate others' opinions of us. My point here is that there are fundamental, structural geopolitical reasons for the Europeans and Arabs to turn against the US today. The longer-term drifting away from the US of most of western Europe and many Arab states is inevitable, regardless who occupies the White House.posted by: lex on 08.15.04 at 09:36 PM [permalink]
re: Lex wrote: "The parochialism of this charge always astounds me. Let's take a little tour d'horizon and see where exactly we find significantly higher levels of anti-US sentiment than in the late 1990s"
I think there need to be more caveats in your analysis of trends in anti-Americanism in Asia. In China, according to the Beijing Area Survey (conducted by a reputable polling group from Peking University) polling data on Beijing residents' views of the US shows an overall declining trendline in levels of amity for the US from 1998 to 2003 (using a 100 degree feeling thermometer -- pretty standard tool). The good news is that in general better educated, middle class respondents consistently 'like' the US more than those with less education and less money.
In contrast to this declining level of amity for the US, there has been basically no change in respondents' evaluations of the 'identity' traits of Americans (as people) -- their level of 'warlikeness' or its levels of 'arrogance'. That is, there has been no trend towards greater 'othering' of American people.
As for Southeast Asia, I think attitudes towards the US are more complicated than your 'net decrease' conclusion. I spent 6 months in Singapore last year interviewing top officials in a number of foreign and national security positions. There are growing concerns about two aspects of US diplomacy. 1) its emphasis on the GWOT to the detriment of greater focus on economic engagement in the region (Chinese premier Hu Jintao's trip to SEA was uniformly seen as more attuned to regional concerns about economic development than Bush's trip around the same time) 2) the perceived unwillingness to rein Taiwan independence forces. A lot of countries in the region -- including Singapore -- believe that the US is hitching its security wagon too closely to the current pro-independence government in Taiwan, giving it more free rein to push for formal independence, thus risking a major conflict between the US and China. The last thing the Singaporeans want is a Sino-US war over Taiwan, and at the moment they are more likely to blame Taiwan for provoking any such conflict.
As with any discussion of anti-Americanism we have to distinguish between anti-American government-ism (which as assuredly increased in SEA) and anti-American people-ism (which probably has not).posted by: AIJ on 08.15.04 at 09:36 PM [permalink]
What will it take to overcome this nonsense?
A continued Republican administration.posted by: Bithead on 08.15.04 at 09:36 PM [permalink]
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