Wednesday, August 15, 2007

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More candidates in Foreign Affairs

In the September/October issue of Foreign Affairs, Rudy Giuliani and John Edwards get a crack at articulating their foreign policy vision.

The gist of Giuliani's essay, "Towards a Realistic Peace":

The next U.S. president will face three key foreign policy challenges: setting a course for victory in the terrorists' war on global order, strengthening the international system the terrorists seek to destroy, and extending the system's benefits. With a stronger defense, a determined diplomacy, and greater U.S. economic and cultural influence, the next president can start to build a lasting, realistic peace.
The gist of Edward's essay,"Reengaging With the World":
In the wake of the Iraq debacle, we must restore America's reputation for moral leadership and reengage with the world. We must move beyond the empty slogan 'war on terror' and create a genuine national security policy that is built on hope, not fear. Only then can America once again become a beacon to the world.
Time to go read these essay. Back soon.

Be sure to check out FA's Campaign 2008 website as well.

UPDATE: Sweet Jesus, the Giuliani essay is badly written. James Joyner, Kevin Drum, Jim Henley, and Matthew Yglesias all go to town on it.

Even more disturbing is the failure to comprehend different foreign policy doctrines. Consider this paragraph:

A realistic peace is not a peace to be achieved by embracing the "realist" school of foreign policy thought. That doctrine defines America's interests too narrowly and avoids attempts to reform the international system according to our values. To rely solely on this type of realism would be to cede the advantage to our enemies in the complex war of ideas and ideals. It would also place too great a hope in the potential for diplomatic accommodation with hostile states. And it would exaggerate America's weaknesses and downplay America's strengths. Our economy is the strongest in the developed world. Our political system is far more stable than those of the world's rising economic giants. And the United States is the world's premier magnet for global talent and capital.
You know, you can slam realism for not caring much about human rights, or for advising a hard-hearted approach to world politics. What you can't do is claim that realism "exaggerate[s] America's weaknesses and downplay[s] America's strengths" because it doesn't pay attention to economics.

Then there's this whopper:

America must remember one of the lessons of the Vietnam War. Then, as now, we fought a war with the wrong strategy for several years. And then, as now, we corrected course and began to show real progress. Many historians today believe that by about 1972 we and our South Vietnamese partners had succeeded in defeating the Vietcong insurgency and in setting South Vietnam on a path to political self-sufficiency. But America then withdrew its support, allowing the communist North to conquer the South. The consequences were dire, and not only in Vietnam: numerous deaths in places such as the killing fields of Cambodia, a newly energized and expansionist Soviet Union, and a weaker America. The consequences of abandoning Iraq would be worse.
Actually, the fall of Saigon was, in the end, the final falsification of the domino theory that Giuliani's essay unconsciously accepts. South Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia collapsed. That was it. The Soviet Union's subsequent expansionism proved to be its ruination, as it found itself bogged down in Afghanistan.

I could go on, but it's too tedious. This is an unbelievably unserious essay.

posted by Dan on 08.15.07 at 09:27 AM


i wonder if John Edwards home security system is 'built on hope and not fear'?

posted by: dylan b on 08.15.07 at 09:27 AM [permalink]


No, that would be his budgetary proposals...

posted by: Appalled Moderate on 08.15.07 at 09:27 AM [permalink]

I'm guessing the folks at FA came up with the titles, but I think it's interesting that Rudy's title states a goal, while Edwards' title is simply the same boilerplate "we need to be liked" - a tactic, rather than a goal. Being liked for the sake of being liked. FA sure knows these candidates - it's almost as if the candidates themselves wrote the titles.

posted by: Dan on 08.15.07 at 09:27 AM [permalink]

Did you read Rudy's whole piece? Does that sound like anything you have confidence in?

posted by: Joe Klein's conscience on 08.15.07 at 09:27 AM [permalink]

Actually, Wonkette has the best take on this I've seen (not to mention the best description of FA I've ever read...):

posted by: CZ on 08.15.07 at 09:27 AM [permalink]

So the fall of Saigon was the falsification of the domino theory? Dr Drezner, that is surely a stretch. The domino theory was predicated upon a weak or nonexistent response to Communist aggression. Did the dozen plus years and many thousands of casualties not demonstrate that such advances might be strenuously resisted, raising the cost to unacceptable levels?

You act as if the intervening conflict had no impact upon the responses of either side, a highly doubtful proposition.

posted by: Rocco on 08.15.07 at 09:27 AM [permalink]

I know that we shouldn't expect much from these campaign articles, but was anyone else confused by the Giuliani piece? Maybe I should have read it more carefully, but I still have no idea what a ''realistic peace'' is supposed to look like and he contradicts himself a number of times. He says the sovereign state is not under the threat of disappearing any time soon, but then singles out terrorists as the greatest threat to the international system and America. He says the concept of diplomacy has been wrongly characterized as a choice between ''appeasement'' and ''talking for the sake of talking,'' but then his only recommendation to improving America's diplomacy is to never talk for the sake of talking, ignore the U.N. (most of the time), and tweak the State Department, VOA and RFE. And why single out Realism for criticism, mischaracterization and praise, and leave other schools of thought completely out?

Does anybody else think that he completely misunderstands the sources of anti-Americanism? The problem is not -- as Rudy says -- that the State Department is bad at trumpeting U.S. accomplishments and policies. Anyone who has attended a daily briefing or a speech by Rice or Bush knows that the U.S. is constantly playing up its policies in public, perhaps a little too loudly and a little too proudly. With the fall of the USSR Rudy's suggestions seem akin to an American tourist in Japan speaking English more loudly and slowly a Japanese person that doesn't speak the language. Not only does it not improve the chance you'll be understood, it probably offends the Japanese person's cultural sensibilities. Of course there are problems in the State Department and every other large government bureaucracy. I would suggest, however, that having a dearth of Arabic speakers is a bigger problem than Foreign Service officers that don't know how to trumpet the greatness of America. And as for VOA and RFE, those archaic instruments of public diplomacy lost a great deal of credibility with the fall of the USSR and the rise of the internet and new media.

I'm not saying this article's any worse than the other candidates', just interested to see what people think of Rudy's.

posted by: Paul on 08.15.07 at 09:27 AM [permalink]

Sorry, have to make a correction. Second paragraph, about the sixth line down...accidentally inserted the words ''with the fall of the USSR'' into the beginning of the sentence, which makes absolutely no sense. Sorry about that.

posted by: Paul on 08.15.07 at 09:27 AM [permalink]


While I wouldn't bet money on the issue, my recollection of the Domino Theory is that unless perimeter containment was maintained, the forces of communism would overwhelm our allies in a given region, causing our allies in other regions to doubt our commitments to them, and creating the domino effect for which the theory is named. It wasn't saying much about driving up the costs (more of a MAD thing, that), but rather positing that it was either win or die in every corner of the globe. All regions were equally important.

In many ways, the fall of Saigon and the Vietnam/China conflict (as well as the Sino-Soviet split) showed that the predictions of the DT were incorrect and that "international socialism" was not a monolithic force.

Then again, I stopped reading about Vietnam as soon as the President and his advisors started talking about it -- my rage bladders didn't have the capacity to accept so much overflow.

posted by: Troll on 08.15.07 at 09:27 AM [permalink]

But Giuliani's essay (or at least the portion cited) does not mention the domino theory -- only Drezner does. The Cambodian genocide that took 4m lives hardly merits a breezy 'That was it' (to which the proper response is a snarky, "Oh, well, that's OK then")

And, of course, Soviet expansionism proved to be its ruination only because of resistance by the U.S. backed Mujahideen (which, of course, is where Bin Laden got his start).

I don't agree with the Guilian argument here, but it doesn't strike me as ridiculous.

posted by: Slocum on 08.15.07 at 09:27 AM [permalink]

"What you can't do is claim that realism "exaggerate[s] America's weaknesses and downplay[s] America's strengths" because it doesn't pay attention to economics."

Err, yes you can - but it's not just economics. I'll agree the article is written as clearly as it could be, but realism definitely does downplay American strengths like democracy on a constant basis. I sat through courses with a couple well known realist professors, some of whom Dan should know real well from his previous position, who did this time and again. So, yes - it's absolutely possible.

posted by: Me on 08.15.07 at 09:27 AM [permalink]

How do you square an "unbelievably unserious essay" with Barnett's "seriously impressed"?


Barnett may have a personal stake--he is a Giuliani campaign adviser--but he is also one of the brightest grand strategists currently out there.

posted by: JA on 08.15.07 at 09:27 AM [permalink]

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