March 9, 2000
Doubts About Intervention
me a cock-eyed optimist if you will, but despite the almost complete
lack of any discussion of foreign policy let alone any serious questions
about whether recent foreign policy has been wise during the major-party
primaries, I suspect the American people are more on the anti-war
side of things than the designated leaders or the establishment
media can conceive.
start with a Paul Harvey broadcast I happened to catch while driving
this week. It was the day a dozen French soldiers were wounded.
He offered the assessment that come November Kosovo would be "an
albatross around Al Goreís neck, mainly because the commitment is
turning out to be longer and more open-ended that advertised, and
seems unlikely to solve problems rather than making them worse.
I donít listen to Paul Harvey often, and I didnít follow him closely
during the Kosovo war, so I donít know what he was saying then.
But he certainly speaks for a lot of middle Americans in the heartland.
If he views the Kosovo commitment as an "albatross," a
lot of other people who donít get noticed by the media think so
a bit more evidence. Last week NewsMax.com,
the Web site run by Chris Ruddy, the former New York Post
reporter who dug out and explained numerous unanswered question
about Vince Fosterís death, released
a poll it had commissioned from John Zogby, generally viewed
as one of the most accurate pollsters because of his record calling
elections in recent years,
on foreign policy. It showed that "Americans by large majorities
oppose the United States militarily defending several key allies,
including Taiwan, Israel and South Korea.
the question asked was: "If attacked by another country, should
the United States help defend militarily, even though it cost American
soldiers their lives, Ö.[insert country here]. The sample of 1,155
respondents was asked the identical question about Taiwan, Israel,
Kuwait, South Korea and Kosovo.
largest "no" vote, at 74 percent, was for Kosovo. But
71 percent of Americans donít believe the U.S. should defend Kuwait,
the casus belli for Desert Storm. Fully 72 percent of Americans
donít think US forces should be deployed to defend South Korea,
69 percent oppose US troops to defend Taiwan, and 59 percent wouldnít
approve of defending Israel.
be sure, Zogby introduced a touch of realism that is often absent
from hypothetical poll questions by including the phrase "even
though it could cost American soldiers their lives." Nonetheless,
the findings could be significant. Even though the likelihood of
US intervention has been small for most of these countries (besides
Kosovo and Kuwait, of course), most policymakers have assumed for
decades that the alliances with South Korea, Taiwan and especially
Israel included the possibility of military defense.
be sure, Americans tend to "rally round" a president when
a real intervention looms, but such large majorities inclined to
oppose military intervention just might give policymakers pause
the next time an intervention is contemplated.
maybe not. Foreign policy gurus, if anything, pride themselves on
being ahead of public opinion (in a superior and enlightened way,
of course) and more than willing to ignore it if their conception
of the proper role of the United States in a dangerous world can
be said to be at stake.
HARDLY AN ISOLATIONIST OUTPOST
is fascinating that NewsMax.com would commission and publicize this
poll. If anything, the site has tended to focus on dangers to the
United States (especially from mainland China) and to feature stories
and opinion pieces that deplore the depletion of military resources
and make the case for more military spending. Retired Admiral Thomas
Moorer is featured often and Washington Times writer Bill
Gertz, who did a book on the malignant intentions and actions of
the mainland Chinese and the dire implications for US national security,
is a regular featured columnist.
has taken a long time to process the bursting of its "bubble
economy" some ten years ago and the full implications still
arenít reflected in new policies and institutions. But important,
even radical changes have occurred and more are coming, presaging
a solid economic and political recovery over the next few years.
the message Tsuneo Nishida, Consul General of Japan in Los Angeles,
delivered to a joint meeting of the Japan America Society and the
Orange County World Affairs Council a couple of weeks ago. Mr. Nishida,
described to me by former US State Department official and retired
ambassador John Malott as "one of Japanís very best diplomats,"
said Japan is struggling to redefine itself and is more open than
ever to learning from the more dynamic ways of the US economy.
PRIVATE SECTOR INVESTMENT
long-term goal in Japan, says Mr. Nishida, is sustainable recovery
fueled by private investment, not government spending. He noted
that some taxes have been cut and short-term interest rates reduced.
Deregulation, especially of the financial sector, is at the center
of Japanese restructuring. As barriers to foreign competition are
reduced, he noted, many Japanese companies have shifted from the
old model in which a lifetime job with one company was considered
the norm to a more flexible system.
response to a question, Mr. Nishida said the Japanese government
was likely to shift from a "stimulus" budget to seeking
a balanced budget within the next two years. That would be an important
confirmation of that he calls a dramatic change in thinking in Japan
and a big step toward future economic growth.