Friday, January 7, 2005

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Here's what I hear about Zoellick

Robert Zoellick will be moving from from U.S. trade representative to Deputy Secretary of State. Here's the Bloomberg report by Glenn Hall:

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick was nominated to the No. 2 post in the State Department as a replacement for Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage.

Zoellick, 51, whose nomination requires Senate confirmation, would serve as deputy to Condoleezza Rice, President George W. Bush's nominee for secretary of state. They worked together on the National Security Council under President George H.W. Bush in the late 1980s....

Zoellick is "a sensible choice,'' said Harlan Ullman, who taught Powell at the National War College and now serves as an adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington-based policy group. "He doesn't seem to have the ideological baggage of other people,'' he said. Zoellick "would be seen more in the centrist camp.''

Confirmation hearings in the Senate for Rice are scheduled to begin Jan. 18. A date for Zoellick's hearing hasn't been set.

Ullman said there was speculation Bush might choose John Bolton, the undersecretary of state for arms control, to fill the No. 2 spot at the department as Bolton often is the department's most outspoken critic of countries such as Iran and North Korea.

Bolton is not expected to remain in his current position, after failing to secure the deputy position, a State Department official said on the condition of anonymity.

Zoellick may prove even more helpful than Bolton because of his effectiveness in keeping a bureaucracy in line, said Gary Schmitt, president of the Project for the New American Century, a Washington-based policy study group.

That kind of control could mean Rice and Bush will face less dissent from the higher ranks of the department, Schmitt said.

"Zoellick is one tough nut when it comes to managing things,'' Schmitt said. "The bureau will be managed, that's for sure.''

Schmitt's approving comments suggest that Matthew Yglesias might be jumping the gun in claiming that the neocons lost this round -- though it's equally possible that Schmitt is just spinning.

Matt points out the difficulty in deciphering Zoellick's own political preferences:

I've heard it said that he's a principled free trader who's just happened to lose a lot of internal battles with the White House political team, but I've also heard it said that he's a committed mercantilist whose views have made it hard for the White House economic team to get a proper hearing for their views.

To which Brad DeLong replies:

For the record, I have heard neither of these things said. What I've heard said is that Zoellick was relatively ineffective as USTR, and in meetings was more interested in figuring out what the High Politicians wished to hear than in giving good counsel.

I assume Brad is hearing that after reading the Ron Susskind book.

For the record, what I've heard about Zoellick at USTR is that he did the best he could with a weak hand -- i.e., Bush was never willing to commit significant amounts of politial capital in favor of more vigorous trade policies. Perhaps you could blame Zoellick for being unable to persuade Bush otherwise, but I suspect henever got the chance. Given this constraint, Zoellick worked hard to keep the Doha round on track while simultaneously attempting "competitive liberalization" as a policy. Given the policy environment he was operating in, I'd give Zoellick a B+.

As for Zoellick's deep thoughts on foreign policy, I would recommend his article "A Republican Foreign Policy" in the January/February 2000 issue of Foreign Affairs. It was the less-noticed companion piece to Condoleezza Rice's essay in the same issue.

Here's one section from Zoellick's article:

Five principles distinguish a modern Republican foreign policy. First, it is premised on a respect for power, being neither ashamed to pursue America's national interests nor too quick to use the country's might. By matching America's power to its interests, such a policy can achieve its objectives and build credibility both at home and abroad. U.S. policy should respect the histories, perspectives, and concerns of other nations, but it should not be paralyzed by intellectual penchants for moral relativism. All states do not play equally important roles. Given America's responsibilities in the world, it must retain its freedom to act against serious dangers.

Second, a modern Republican foreign policy emphasizes building and sustaining coalitions and alliances. Effective coalition leadership requires clear-eyed judgments about priorities, an appreciation of others' interests, constant consultations among partners, and a willingness to compromise on some points but to remain focused on core objectives. Allies and coalition partners should bear their fair share of the responsibilities; if they do, their views will be represented and respected. Similarly, to have an effective U.N., the key nations that compose it must recognize that their actions -- not their speeches and posturing in an international forum -- will determine whether problems can be solved.

Third, Republicans judge international agreements and institutions as means to achieve ends, not as forms of political therapy. Agreements and institutions can facilitate bargaining, recognize common interests, and resolve differences cooperatively. But international law, unlike domestic law, merely codifies an already agreed-upon cooperation. Even among democracies, international law not backed by enforcement mechanisms will need negotiations in order to work, and international law not backed by power cannot cope with dangerous people and states. Every issue need not be dealt with multilaterally.

Fourth, a modern Republican foreign policy must embrace the revolutionary changes in the information and communications, technology, commerce, and finance sectors that will shape the environment for global politics and security. Because of these changes, people's aspirations -- to exercise their free will and transform their lives -- are rising in all corners of the globe. Communities of private groups, whether organized for business or social ends, will achieve results far beyond the reach of governments and international bureaucracies. The United States can leverage this dynamism to open minds and markets. America's foreign policy must promote these global trends. It must take practical steps to move the world toward greater freedoms and human rights. It should link itself to the agents of change around the world through new networks of free trade, information, and investment.

Finally, a modern Republican foreign policy recognizes that there is still evil in the world -- people who hate America and the ideas for which it stands. Today, we face enemies who are hard at work to develop nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons, along with the missiles to deliver them. The United States must remain vigilant and have the strength to defeat its enemies. People driven by enmity or by a need to dominate will not respond to reason or goodwill. They will manipulate civilized rules for uncivilized ends.

posted by Dan on 01.07.05 at 05:08 PM


Zoellick's iron-clad grasp of the patently obvious is impressive.

That that puts him in the upper decile in BushCo is the sad part.

posted by: Barry P. on 01.07.05 at 05:08 PM [permalink]

Given the limited interest in trade issues in the White House Zoellick's accomplishments at USTR have been remarkable. I regret his move to State only because Bush is unlikely to replace him as USTR with anyone near as able.

On the other hand, the fact is that Ms. Rice will need a strong number 2 more than most Secretaries of State. It is unlikely that President Bush will want to dispense completely with the briefings and emotional support she has provided as NSA, and that were in fact her primary function in that post. This will mean Rice will be spending a lot of time at State out of the building, and someone will need to run the Department when she's gone.

For what it's worth, what I have heard is that Zoellick did not simply accept this appointment, but first negotiated some terms as to what his responsibilities will be. I don't know what that means, exactly -- it could, I suppose, mean anything from Zoellick's being the point man on policy toward specific areas of the world (e.g. Latin America) to his being the means to allow State to poach jurisdiction over international economic policy away from Treasury. Or something else. We'll see.

posted by: Zathras on 01.07.05 at 05:08 PM [permalink]

Barry P: While his comments may seem patently obvious, I suspect there are many who would disagree with his goals.

The value of the piece is its clear statements that are easy to understand and interpret.

I most like his claim that results matter, not posturing. I have long felt that a distingushing feature of GWB's is his focus on results.

He truly wants to achieve goals, not just appear to achieve goals.

posted by: tallan on 01.07.05 at 05:08 PM [permalink]

It's a sign of the times that comments like this
"...there is still evil in the world -- people who hate America and the ideas for which is stands.." is considered rational discourse. First, does M Zoelick think we can really eridicate evil from the world? Second, does he really mean to equate evil with 'hating America'? According to The Lancet the families of anywhere from 50,000 to 75,000 Iraqi's have plenty of good reason to 'hate America' right now.

posted by: stari_momak on 01.07.05 at 05:08 PM [permalink]


Zoellicks enmity towards these people is not subject to reasonable discussion:

"People driven by enmity or by a need to dominate will not respond to reason or goodwill."

Simplified simplism is considered foreign policy these days.

posted by: Duh on 01.07.05 at 05:08 PM [permalink]

Haven't seen that many straw men in just five paragraphs in quite a while. Then there's the significant disconnect between Zoellick's rhetoric and practice under GWB.

"U.S. policy should respect the histories, perspectives, and concerns of other nations," Whoops.

"a modern Republican foreign policy emphasizes building and sustaining coalitions and alliances."

"Republicans judge international agreements and institutions as means to achieve ends" Except for those they have a fetish about denouncing as loudly and publicly as possible, even when this is detrimental to the national interest.

"The United States must remain vigilant and have the strength to defeat its enemies." As opposed to having an enormous share of our available forces tied down in a land war in Asia.

Have fun with those principles, Bob, you may be the only one who has them.

posted by: Doug on 01.07.05 at 05:08 PM [permalink]

Zoellick strikes me as an extremely capable individual. As I recall, he earned a law degree from Harvard. I have also heard that Zoellick is a rather arrogant man who tends to look down on other individuals. Is this true?

posted by: RM on 01.07.05 at 05:08 PM [permalink]

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