out to bat was the unfailingly uninspiring Jacob Heilbrunn.
In a Wall Street Journal article entitled drearily
enough "Win Another One for the Gipper," Heilbrunn
declares: "If Mr. Bush relies exclusively on his father's
old team to staff his administration, he risks ignoring
a more important presidential legacy Ronald Reagan's."
Reagan's legacy, Heilbrunn reveals, is for the United States
to go around the world bullying other countries into following
Washington's diktats. Heilbrunn calls such interference
in other countries' internal affairs "promoting democracy."
Bush Sr.'s advisers, according to Heilbrunn, were very uncomfortable
about "Reagan's exuberant belief in democracy and capitalism.
Caution was their watchword. In a sea of 'new world disorder',
they clung to the melting glacier of geopolitical realism."
Imagine, splutters an indignant Heilbrunn, the "Gulf
War was seen as a justifiable war only to ensure that Saddam
Hussein did not gain control over oil in the region. Moral
arguments for toppling Saddam cut no ice." The very
idea! Looking after your own interests rather than worrying
about "democracy" in a corner of the world you
do not know the first thing about. Even that gives the Heilbrunns
of this world too much credit. They have no interest in
"democracy," only in the establishment of "pro-American,"
or rather "pro-Israeli," regimes.
Heilbrunn then goes on to argue that the "Bush administration
refused to intervene in the Balkans. James Baker's only
response was that Yugoslavia should remain a single entity
with Slobodan Milosevic in charge." Really? This is
the usual back-to-front "neo-conservative" history.
It was the Bush Administration that precipitated the war
in Bosnia by its early recognition of the "independence"
of Croatia and Slovenia, and, most important, by its sabotage
of the 1992 Lisbon accord between the Bosnian Serbs, Moslems
and Croats. Here is how Susan L. Woodward describes it in
her scarcely pro-Serb book Balkan
Tragedy: "By March 18, the three party delegations,
meeting at Lisbon, had agreed on and signed a document outlining
the political principles of a republic composed of three
constituent nations, each with the right to self-determination,
and of the regional cantonization of its territory
the same time, apparently influenced by the appeals for
recognition from Izetbegovic's foreign minister, Haris Silajdzic,
Secretary of State Baker was intensifying his pressure on
the European capitals. A week after the signing of the Lisbon
accord, Izetbegovic reversed his position
6, at the NATO meeting in Brussels
persuading his Western allies to recognize Bosnia-Herzegovina
as a sovereign state." And thus began the terrible
carnage, in which the United States egged on the Moslems
and blamed everything on the Serbs. The "neo-conservatives"
shrieked for more US intervention, even as the evidence
mounted that it was US intervention that caused the mayhem
in the first place.
concludes predictably enough: "Mr. Bush should listen
to Reaganite advisers such as Paul Wolfowitz and Richard
Perle as well. Mr. Wolfowitz has always been skeptical of
engagement with China, and he has been a staunch proponent
of defending Taiwan. He has argued for bombing the Serbs
and wants to step up military pressure against Saddam, including
aiding the Iraqi opposition. Other neoconservatives Mr.
Bush might consider naming to posts include the Carnegie
Endowment's Robert Kagan
.But don't count on it. The
word is that Mr. Wolfowitz may be shunted aside to director
of the Central Intelligence Agency rather than be offered
a major cabinet post like Defense." To the rest of
the world the idea of Wolfowitz as head of the CIA cooking
the intelligence reports is the stuff of nightmares. To
"neo-conservatives," however, any limit on his
ability to get the United States involved in some war or
other is immediately interpreted as defeat.
silliest "neo-conservative" onslaught by far appeared
in Slate. Its author was Robert Wright, a reliable
advocate of the divine right of liberal elites to rule.
According to Condoleezza Rice, he writes, the "struggle
for the soul of American foreign policy is between austere
realists, who keep their steely gaze on the national interest,
and weak-kneed, mush-minded liberals, who get lost in humanitarian
concerns and an obsession with multilateral cooperation."
But, Wright cries with the barely controlled excitement
of one who believes no one before him had ever made this
observation, "national interest" and "humanitarian
concerns" are by no means mutually exclusive. To the
contrary, it is in America's interest to be humanitarian.
"Some people me, for example believe
that, more and more, it is in America's national interest
to address certain humanitarian issues abroad. For example:
If we help resolve some obscure overseas political grievance
before it has time to fester into terrorism (terrorism featuring,
say, biological weapons) isn't that in America's interests?"
Worse even than Wright's solecism "me, for example"
is ungrammatical is his reductio ad aburdum
way of arguing. If every grievance in the world could eventually
degenerate into "terrorism" and "biological
weapons," then indeed the United States must intrude
into every single dispute, no matter how obscure the cause
or the geographic location. Moreover, we should even extend
this principle into our daily lives. You see that husband
and wife quarreling over there? The prudent thing would
be not to interfere. But how can we be sure that the man
will not one day murder his spouse? Or that she will not
one day, out of distress, crash the car killing herself
and her children? A busybody principle would license everyone
snooping into everyone else's affairs. Hence the fraudulence
of Wright's argument: He will only permit the United States
so long as it is run by New Democrats like himself
of course to sort out other people's conflicts. Wright
would not for one moment permit other countries to investigate
the nature and consequences of, say, the United States'
unconditional support for Israel.
Wright goes on, it is also in America's interest to cooperate
with allies, a notion apparently beyond the grasp of Rice:
"We need the cooperation of other nations on more and
more issues-fighting terrorism, solving environmental problems,
fighting drug running and other transnational crimes, isolating
Saddam Hussein and other creeps so doing things that
alienate 'the international community' carries an increasingly
high cost." This, of course, is the typical disingenuous
nonsense we get from the liberal interventionist brigade.
Wright knows perfectly well that on almost all of the issues
he lists, the United States has for years pursued policies
that most of the rest of the world finds profoundly objectionable.
For example, other than our faithful pup Great Britain,
ever member of the UN Security Council wants to end sanctions
against Iraq. As for "terrorism," most countries
blame it on the United States for its unrelentingly pro-Israeli
involvement in the Middle East. Most countries are also
outraged at US policy on "drug running." They
believe that the drug trade is being driven by insatiable
American demand. Fighting the "drug lords" merely
provides the United States with a pretext to intervene in
the internal affairs of other countries.
what is this agonizing about? Powell and Rice are nothing
if not trite and conventional in their views. Neither has
ever ventured to question any of the last decade's shibboleths.
In the pronouncements following his nomination Powell parroted
every cliché under the sun. There was no indication
he was prepared to reevaluate anything. On Iraq: "We
will work with our allies to re-energize the sanctions regime
We're doing this to protect the peoples of the region, the
children of the region, who would be the targets of these
weapons of mass destruction if we did not contain them and
eliminate them." That Saddam Hussein is still in power
more than ten years after the imposition of sanctions gives
rise to no fresh thoughts. That it has caused immeasurable
suffering to people who had nothing whatsoever to do with
the building weapons of mass destruction is a matter scarcely
even worthy of reflection.
for Condoleezza Rice, she sounds as if she were a permanent
fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. In her Foreign
Affairs article earlier this year she made a great show
of opposing the Clinton Administration's policy of "nation-building,"
without ever quite specifying what exactly she meant by
that. But she raised no objections to any of Clinton's interventions.
She had no problems about bombing Serbia. Kosovo, she explains,
"was in the backyard of America's most important strategic
. Slobodan Milosevic's rejection of
peaceful coexistence with the Kosovar Albanians threatened
to rock the area's fragile ethnic balance
States had an overriding strategic interest in stopping
him." Bombing an ancient European country was not only
the humane thing to do it served America's "national
interest." Rice's position does not seem in the slightest
different from that of Robert Wright. He prefers to talk
of humanitarianism, she of national interest. It is a measure
of the absence of any genuine debate about US foreign policy
that its limits are circumscribed by the views of Condoleezza
Rice on the one hand and Robert Wright on the other.
objection to Clinton's foreign policy amounts to nothing
more than anxiety that we may not have enough forces at
hand to bomb into submission whoever needs to be bombed
into submission. It is "unwise," she writes, "to
multiply missions in the face of continuing budget reduction."
Under a Bush Administration, she exults, "military
take center stage
new weapons will
have to be procured in order to give the military the capacity
to carry out today's missions." Well, that's a relief.
In other words, there is nothing wrong with "today's
missions" that few hundred extra billion dollars cannot
every issue Rice and the Hideous Harridan are indistinguishable.
Rice is a wholehearted supporter of NATO expansion: "The
door to NATO for the remaining states of eastern and central
Europe should remain open." Rice frets about the supposed
rise of Russia: "Moscow is determined to assert itself
in the world and often does so in ways that are at once
haphazard and threatening to America's interests."
What exactly does "threatening to America's interests"
mean? Given how foreign policy establishment types like
Rice define their terms, it must mean any policy pursued
by Russia's leaders that does not lead to their country's
subordination to the United States. Rice hates the Europeans
developing their own armed forces as much as Albright does:
"The United States has an interest in shaping the European
defense identity welcoming a greater European military
capability as long as it is within the context of NATO."
Tiresomely enough, Rice is also troubled by China: It is
"a potential threat to stability to in the Asia-Pacific
.China will do what it can to enhance its position,
whether by stealing nuclear secrets or by trying to intimidate
Taiwan." Note the weasly words of the professional
foreign policy functionary: "a potential threat to
stability." A bad case of the common cold could be
a "potential threat to stability." Besides it
is hard to think of a "potential threat to stability"
more potent than United States support for Taiwan independence.
why the "neo-conservative" hysteria about Powell
and Rice? It is an ominous early indication of the enormous
pressure they are ready to exert on the Bush Administration
to ensure that the United States continues to exercise its
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