Sunday, April 27, 2008



I love it that people have been digging some of the posts here at DWT. One steady digger, Harry, has gotten very pushy lately though. He's always asking when the next post is going up and demanding more, more, more. After I posted on McCain's blatant hypocrisy on fiscal matters, Harry demanded a companion piece on McCain's even more dangerous stance on foreign affairs.

Ken and I have been posting about the dangers of McCain's warmongering and his truculent schoolboy bully attitude towards other countries. After 8 years of Bush and Cheney, it's the last thing America needs! When Bush was running for President in 2000 he laid out a "humble foreign policy" to the voters. Please take a look at him explaining it then:

After he started attacking countries, breaking treaties and making outrageous demands on (small) sovereign nations, he explained that 9/11 changed everything. Yet, reading Against The Tide by Republican Senator Lincoln Chafee paints a very, very different picture. Exactly one day after the Supreme Court made Bush president, Cheney came striding over to the Senate for a meeting with the Republican moderate caucus. Keep in mind that half a dozen far right GOP senators had been defeated and that the Senate was evenly split 50 Democrats to 50 Republicans. Chafee felt that Cheney was coming over to meet with the moderates about getting a centrist consensus together. Was he wrong!
In steady, quiet tones, the Vice President-elect laid out a shockingly divisive political agenda for the new Bush administration, glossing over nearly every pledge the Republican ticket had made to the American voter. President-elect Bush had promised that healing, but now we moderate Republicans were hearing Richard Cheney articulate the real agenda: A clashist approach on every issue, big and small, and any attempt at consensus would be a sign of weakness. We would seek confrontation on every front. He said nothing about education or the environment or health care; it was all about these new issues that were rarely, if ever, touted in the campaign. The new administration would divide Americans into red and blue, and divide nations into those who stand with us or against us. I knew that what the Vice President-elect was saying would rip the closely divided Congress apart. We moderates had often voted with President Clinton on things that powerful Republican constituencies didn't like: an increase in the minimum wage, a patients' bill of rights, and campaign finance reform. Mr. Cheney knew this, but he ticked off the issues at the top of his agenda and did it fearlessly. It made no difference to him that we were potential adversaries; he was going down his to-do list and checking off Confrontation Number 1.

More than anything else, Cheney and his treasonous cabal of future war criminals wanted to attack Iraq. And they were going to do it by hook or by crook. McCain is doing his best to lull Americans into believing he's the Bush they fell for in 2000 instead of the Cheney they got the day after the election. Can't be fooled again? We'll see. The new issue of Newsweek takes measure of McCain's foreign policy pronouncements and paints a picture that makes Cheney look almost moderate! And sane. You see, Cheney and Bush just wanted to attack small, weak countries that couldn't defend themselves. McCain wants to play tough with real countries-- ones that can and will fight back... like Iran, Russia and China.
On March 26, McCain gave a speech on foreign policy in Los Angeles that was billed as his most comprehensive statement on the subject. It contained within it the most radical idea put forward by a major candidate for the presidency in 25 years. Yet almost no one noticed.

In his speech McCain proposed that the United States expel Russia from the G8, the group of advanced industrial countries. Moscow was included in this body in the 1990s to recognize and reward it for peacefully ending the cold war on Western terms, dismantling the Soviet empire and withdrawing from large chunks of the old Russian Empire as well. McCain also proposed that the United States should expand the G8 by taking in India and Brazil-- but pointedly excluded China from the councils of power.

We have spent months debating Barack Obama's suggestion that he might, under some circumstances, meet with Iranians and Venezuelans. It is a sign of what is wrong with the foreign-policy debate that this idea is treated as a revolution in U.S. policy while McCain's proposal has barely registered. What McCain has announced is momentous-- that the United States should adopt a policy of active exclusion and hostility toward two major global powers. It would reverse a decades-old bipartisan American policy of integrating these two countries into the global order, a policy that began under Richard Nixon (with Beijing) and continued under Ronald Reagan (with Moscow). It is a policy that would alienate many countries in Europe and Asia who would see it as an attempt by Washington to begin a new cold war.

...The neoconservative vision within the speech is essentially an affirmation of ideology. Not only does it declare war on Russia and China, it places the United States in active opposition to all nondemocracies. It proposes a League of Democracies, which would presumably play the role that the United Nations now does, except that all nondemocracies would be cast outside the pale. The approach lacks any strategic framework. What would be the gain from so alienating two great powers? How would the League of Democracies fight terrorism while excluding countries like Jordan, Morocco, Egypt and Singapore? What would be the gain to the average American to lessen our influence with Saudi Arabia, the central banker of oil, in a world in which we are still crucially dependent on that energy source?

The single most important security problem that the United States faces is securing loose nuclear materials. A terrorist group can pose an existential threat to the global order only by getting hold of such material. We also have an interest in stopping proliferation, particularly by rogue regimes like Iran and North Korea. To achieve both of these core objectives-- which would make American safe and the world more secure-- we need Russian cooperation. How fulsome is that likely to be if we gratuitously initiate hostilities with Moscow? Dissing dictators might make for a stirring speech, but ordinary Americans will have to live with the complications after the applause dies down.

To reorder the G8 without China would be particularly bizarre. The G8 was created to help coordinate problems of the emerging global economy. Every day these problems multiply-- involving trade, pollution, currencies-- and are in greater need of coordination. To have a body that attempts to do this but excludes the world's second largest economy is to condemn it to failure and irrelevance. International groups are not cheerleading bodies but exist to help solve pressing global crises. Excluding countries won't make the problems go away.

McCain appears to think that he can magically unite the two main strands in the Republican foreign-policy establishment. But he can't. This is not about personalities but about two philosophically divergent views of international affairs. Put together, they will produce infighting and incoherence. We have seen this movie before. We have watched an American president unable to choose between his ideologically driven vice president and his pragmatic secretary of State-- and the result was the catastrophe of George W. Bush's first term. Twenty-five years earlier, we watched another president who believed that he could encompass the entire spectrum of foreign policy. He, too, gave speeches that were drafted by advisers with divergent world views: in that case, Cyrus Vance and Zbigniew Brzezinski. It led to the paralyzing internal battles of the Carter years. Does John McCain want to try this experiment one more time?

A more important question one might ask is if the American people want to try this experiment one more time with John McCain instead of Bush and Cheney.

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At 9:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The only salvation Bush might have to his place in history is if anoth preident is elected that is even worse than he his. St. John the McSame would probably fit that bill



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