August 24, 2008
Who Or What Makes U.S. Foreign Policy
Andrew Bacevich has some good insights on U.S. foreign policy, but now I am a bit confused about two different reasons he gives for its dubious quality.
This from the August 15 Bill Moyers Journal:
Our foreign policy is something that is concocted in Washington D.C., but it reflects the perceptions of our political elite about what we want, we the people want. And what we want, by and large - I mean, one could point to many individual exceptions - but, what we want, by and large is, we want this continuing flow of very cheap consumer goods.
We want to be able to pump gas into our cars regardless of how big they may happen to be, in order to be able to drive wherever we want to be able to drive. And we want to be able to do these things without having to think about whether or not the book's balanced at the end of the month, or the end of the fiscal year. And therefore, we want this unending line of credit.
So the decisions made in DC somehow do reflect the general will of the people.
But in today's LA Times oped Bacevich finds different culprits:
The very structure of American politics imposes its own constraints. For all the clout that presidents have accrued since World War II, their prerogatives remain limited. A President McCain will almost certainly face a Congress controlled by
a Democratic and therefore obstreperous majority. A President Obama,
even if his own party runs the Senate and House, won't enjoy all that
much more latitude, especially when it comes to three areas in which the dead hand of the past weighs most heavily: defense policy, energy policy and the Arab-Israeli peace process. The military-industrial complex will inhibit efforts to curb the Pentagon's penchant for waste. Detroit and Big Oil will conspire to prolong the age of gas guzzling. And the Israel lobby will oppose attempts to chart a new course in the Middle East. If the past provides any indication, advocates of the status quo will mount a tenacious defense.
Which is it: The peoples wants? The special groups? How do they connect?
George Monbiot with another view:
If we seek to understand American foreign policy in terms of a rational engagement with international problems, or even as an effective means of projecting power, we are looking in the wrong place. The government's interests have always been provincial. It seeks to appease lobbyists, shift public opinion at crucial stages of the political cycle, accommodate crazy Christian fantasies and pander to television companies run by eccentric billionaires. The US does not really have a foreign policy. It has a series of domestic policies which it projects beyond its borders. That they threaten the world with 57 varieties of destruction is of no concern to the current administration. The only question of interest is who gets paid and what the political kickbacks will be.
Monbiot is partisan: "crazy Christian" are not the only group that politicians accommodate. Guess what Obama will do when the "Save Darfur" crazies want accommodation. Monbiot also writes: to threaten with destruction "is of no concern to the current administration." It was never of concern for any administration.
But take those partisan remarks away, he seems to be right and he somewhat reconciles both varients Bacevich expresses.
What unites these view is that the U.S. domestic political system is configured in a way that U.S. foreign policy is not created from a well understood common interest of all U.S.citizens, but from the political influence and special interest of multiple small groups of constituents.
I am still not sure whether that is the right way to see it. How should foreign policy be made?
Posted by b on August 24, 2008 at 12:52 PM | Permalink
i don't think it is contradictory what bacevich is saying. these special interest groups with their most loyal ally the media have created, ' a popular will' - & we have seen that on a number of occassion where the population has acted against it own proper interest having followed the neocons, hook line & sinker
it is what i suggested in a post yesterday that the u s is so fascinated with itself in a way that is just as fanatic as any taliban - that it is not concious, that it is not aware, that it does not want to be aware - so that in the end - this population lives in a happy mutal infantilism with their media
this example of the massacre in herat is not only a war crime but it is a structurally important moment - as these massacres were in vietnam (reliance on the air for example) where they solidified the support for the vietcong - it was massacres that brought the buddhist & the cathiolic elements, on side. yet the us is awash with a childish game about the vice president, as if it meant anything at aall, it doesn't
bacevich is a profoundly conservative thinker - read the work & as i pointed out so too is paul craig roberts - i think their anger is partly so intense because they being old elitists are confounded by the criminal stupidity of the bush administration & the more quotidian stupidity of the american electorate
though both bacevich & roberts writeabout foreign affairs - i would not underestimate how profoundly these men were moved by the absolutel evil response to what happened after katrina because in that moment state power in the u s was revealed for what it is, in essence
Posted by: remembereringgiap | Aug 24, 2008 1:24:56 PM | 1
I have always believed that empire is quite popular in America. Jingoism is common place and it is so because empire is cheap or at least seems to be. Such popuarity will only end when it is expensive, and seen to be expensive, by the public. Yes there is a corporate media. But they are only telling what people wish to hear; We are good, they are bad. If the tomorrow CNN told the real story about, for example, the Georgia war, people would just turn to FOX. It is like 19th century Britain. Empire was popular then too.
You will never hear Herbert Spencer's attitude about patriotism in America today.
Some years ago I gave my expression to my own feeling – anti-patriotic feeling, it will doubtless be called – in a somewhat startling way. It was at the time of the second Afghan war, when, in pursuance of what were thought to be “our interests,” we were invading Afghanistan. News had come that some of our troops were in danger. At the Athenæum Club a well-known military man – then a captain but now a general – drew my attention to a telegram containing this news, and read it to me in a manner implying the belief that I should share his anxiety. I astounded him by replying – “When men hire themselves out to shoot other men to order, asking nothing about the justice of their cause, I don’t care if they are shot themselves.”
Posted by: Lysander | Aug 24, 2008 1:43:58 PM | 2
In the context of the Georgia-Russia conflict, William Pfaff ask the same question:
Who Is Responsible for U.S. Russian Policy?
One can understand that a hysterical and demagogic Georgian nationalist like Mikhail Saakashvili might think he could wipe out long-standing ethnic dissidence in his country by attacking Russian peacekeepers legally stationed in those enclaves to protect the dissidents. But who in Washington is promoting this strategy of hostile military and political encirclement of Russia? What conceivable interest of the West does this serve?
It is a senseless policy, apparently meant to intimidate Russia, but why? For the sake of perpetuating international tension so as to strengthen the forces that with Cheney and Bush have been promoting constitutionally unaccountable executive rule in the United States?
Could it be as simple as too many cooks in the kitchen and no one at the helm - if I may mix my metaphors?
Posted by: Hamburger | Aug 24, 2008 2:22:53 PM | 3
i don't know if you saw it but the russian diplomatic representative - a rightist as it turns out - gave an entretien on russia today - exceptionally smart - but boy he really mixed his metaphors - about cooks in the kitchen, about cats in bags - in these heavy time it was a delight to see someone who could speak
Posted by: remembereringgiap | Aug 24, 2008 2:29:10 PM | 4
It has to be repeated time after time: men make history but they don't make the history they want. Many people wanted to invade Iraq and the result was bad, there may be many reasons why the result was bad but the fact is that it has been bad. Didn't the"people" want to invade Iraq? Even my daughter scolded me because I "didn't want to defend the country". Politicians and citizens do what they must at a given time and then find out whether their insights were correct. History would be exceedingly boring and deadly if there was no chance, no contingency, no citizens willing to blow up themselves. What a surprise was for Napoleon that a ragtag group of Spaniards would defeat his armies. Was Bailen such a great feat? It wasn't but it resonated throughout Europe, Napoleon was not invincible. And then the Russians did him in. Another ragtag regressive people. So Bacevich is as I interpret right, the people want something but the something may be unattainable. Are the politicians so corrupt? Not more that people in general. Destiny is tragic, we know we are eventually destroyed but we carry on, with a heavy heart and guilty for all those that suffer, that are blown apart, killed before birth but everything done in the name of the people's will.
Posted by: jlcg | Aug 24, 2008 2:31:38 PM | 5
If you examine the who is/was most active in the anti Russian campaign within the United States, not now, but for the last six years or more, you will have your answer. As to the why, consider it Breznev nostalgia, yearning for a time when Russia was being dismantled via Berezovsky's privatization post, billions were being laundered out of the country, the country's media was being gathered in one or two hands (Guzinsky) and the oligarchs (Khodorovsky) were about to make long term deals with western oil companies.
Posted by: Thrasyboulos | Aug 24, 2008 2:33:32 PM | 6
Reinforcing the "domestic policy makes foreign policy" meme: (Which may be right or not - I don't know)
A National Security Council official commented to us: "Just when we may able to engineer a passable exit from Iraq, our domestic politics are pushing us toward deeper involvement in a much more dangerous set of problems in Pakistan and Afghanistan."
Maybe that's spin, but I doubt ...
Posted by: b | Aug 24, 2008 2:58:47 PM | 7
In The New American Militarism: How Americans Are seduced By War Bacevich gives the history of the successful propaganda campaign to create public support for a large, aggressive military. He can hardly cover even a fraction of the territory in brief fora like TV interviews and op-eds. Powerful, well-connected interests can create public demands for their own interests, especially when the demands are about things with which the public has little direct contact, so I don't think Bacevich is necessarily giving two contradictory versions. And I agree that Monbiot brings in another good, bridging point.
Overall, in foreign policy as well as domestic policy, we will flub along in destructive and self-destructive ways until we get better democracy. As long as the powerful (i.e., rich) control the government, we will continue to have a plutocracy that pursues its own narrow interests at home and abroad.
Posted by: nihil obstet | Aug 24, 2008 3:03:03 PM | 8
Another bit from Swoop: The Democratic Party’s Foreign Policy: The Watchword is Continuity
Rather than unilateral action, the platform emphasizes "working with our allies and restoring our standing in the world." Commitments to reexamining the focus of counter-terrorism strategy are balanced by concerns regarding climate change, nuclear disarmament, international development and disease control. Behind these conscious distinctions in rhetoric, however, substantial continuities exist with now-conventional perspectives in Washington regarding America's relationship with the rest of the world. [...] The paper calls for US military efforts in Iraq to be wound down. However, other military engagements are foreseen, pre-eminently in Afghanistan and by providing tangible support for democratization. The paper’s format assumes that the large part of the international agenda demands "American leadership" to define them. All in all, the broader rhetoric of assertive US engagement sounds a cautionary note to observers anticipating a radical departure in the conceptual drivers of US foreign policy in 2009.
No 'change' at all.
What drives this?
Posted by: b | Aug 24, 2008 3:07:50 PM | 9
Politicians and citizens do what they must at a given time and then find out whether their insights were correct.
If only that were so, jlcg. Let's face it, Long Dong Dick Cheney is the Commander-In-Chief, for all intents and purposes, and he gave an excellent explanation as to why invading and occupying Iraq was a terrible idea back in 1994. His explanation then was every bit as valid in 2003, yet he invaded anyway, knowing full well the consequences. I don't know about you, but I can only conclude that they wanted chaos because controlled chaos trumps uncontrolled order. Iraq was ripe for the picking. The U.S. had so thoroughly weakened it via Gulf War I, sanctions and periodic aerial bombing assaults that it was a mere shadow of its former self, and actually quite vulnerable. The U.S. couldn't allow another interest to exploit that vulnerability from a geopolitical perpsective taking energy resources into account. They knew exactly the risks and the outcome and decided it was worth the price (and what a price it garnered...oil closing in on $150/Barrel).
http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-1724548370876617758&ei=B7uxSNe0LpCKrwK-qLjaDA&q=cheney+about+iraq+during+Gulf+War+I&vt=lf&hl=en>Here's the link.
Posted by: Obama bin Biden | Aug 24, 2008 4:05:15 PM | 10
Perhaps some amerikan, preferably one of the shills for a dem prez who come in here advocating support for Barak Obama in the contest against John McCain, would care to ask his/her beloved dem organisation about their support for Hamid Karzai and his mafia government in light of this Independent story. Headed "Afghan president pardoned rapists" the article tells us that Hamid Karzai has quietly pardoned three men who committed a very public and very violent gang rape of a middle aged Afghani woman enquiring about her son's disappearance.
The woman, Sara, and her family found out about the pardon only when they saw the rapists back in their village.
“Everyone was shocked,” said Sara’s husband, Dilawar, who like many Afghans uses only one name. “These were men who had been sentenced and found guilty by the Supreme Court, walking around freely.” . . .
. . . The most powerful local commander, Mawlawi Islam, was running for office despite being accused of scores of murders committed while he had been a mujahedeen commander in the 1980s and a Taliban governor in the 1990s, and since the fall of the Taliban in 2001. Sara said one of his sub-commanders and body guards had been looking for young men to help in the election campaign.
“It was evening, around the time for the last prayer, when armed men came and took my son, Islamuddin, by force. I have eye-witness statements from nine people that he was there. From that night until now, my son has never been seen.”
Dilawar said his wife publicly harangued the commander twice about their missing son. After the second time, he said, they came for her. “The commander and three of his fighters came and took my wife out of our home and took her to their house about 200 metres away and, in front of these witnesses, raped her.”
Dilawar has a sheaf of legal papers, including a doctors’ report, which said she had a 17mm wound in her private parts cut with a bayonet. Sara was left to stumble home, bleeding and without her trousers. "
Unless stories of what life is really like under the motley collection of gangsters and warlords given free rein over Afghanistan by the so-called "Coalition of the Willing", does gain circulation in amerika, no one will question this beauty contest being held on the basis of "National Security" issues.
It is the amerikan election process where both sides adhere to a commonly shared unreality, which is one of the most effective tools for brainwashing amerikans about their empire's true motives.
The coalition, in effect USuk and a few poorer nations living off the military aid which isn't a gift, but a mortgage against their nations future independence, will fall apart if much more strain is put on it by the people of Afghanistan desperate for a chance of a life without gun-toting thugs terrorising them.
Every week we see more and more Afghanis say "I'm mad and I'm not gonna take it any more". The 'no-go' areas where coalition or government forces are only welcome if they arrive tooled up to the max, get bigger and bigger.
Do people never ask "how is this happening? If we're the good guys and the resistance are the thugs wanting to rule Afghanis with an iron fist, why do most ordinary Afghanis appear to support them not us?"
The Vietnam parallel has been dragged out too often particularly in Iraq where skillful divisions by amerika caused the different groups to fight each other rather than unite against the invader, but the label was first applied to Afghanistan when the USSR got bogged down there, the population is more homogeneous than Iraq's, more like Vietnam's determined nationalists. Every grouping seems to have suffered equally during a century and a half of attempted colonialism. Yet the people haven't lost their will to resist. Actions such as Karzai's empathy for sociopathic rapists seems to have made that easier. Still amerika and all the rest of the greedy imperialists so eager to squash Afghanis under the heel of their 'superior technology' would do well to remember Vietnam, and how a truly committed population of nationalists can destroy the biggest, most technologically advanced armies by using the weapons of patience and determination.
Like Vietnam where the west was told the resistance were first of all communists who wanted to subjugate themselves to USSR or China (Vietnam has trodden it's own path independent of either in the decades since independence), amerikans are told that the Afghani resistance is comprised of looney Muslim fundamentalists fighting for foreign powers (in this case the probably dead and certainly irrelevant Osama Bin-Laden).
It is as if peeps have been convinced that Afghanis are from another planet that they aren't motivated by the same basic urges that keep the rest of humanity ticking along. That would have to be the case if ordinary Afghanis were so eager to fight for some mysterious foreigner who allegedly boasts of his eagerness to oppress Afghanis further.
The truth - That the resistance is comprised of Afghanis from urban and rural areas, from educated and illiterate families, united by circumstance, who have witnessed or suffered under the injustices of Karzai's gangster regime, is never discussed.
So over the next week when Obama-ites are out touting the Mutt and Jeff pairing of Obama and Biden consider that the new Veep won't be trying to temper Barak's blind stupidity on Afganistan with any realpolitik.
According to Biden Obama stole his his ideas on Afghanistan from him (Biden):
While their debate exchanges were mostly friendly during the race, Sen. Biden did draw attention to Sen. Obama's limited foreign policy credentials, in comments which Republicans have been swift to repeat. Sen. Biden characterized the junior senator as a "Johnny-come-lately" on Afghanistan, praising him for having adopted Sen. Biden's own ideas, including a troop surge in the country.
Worst of all if this false view of Afghanistan's courageous freedom fighters is allowed to persist, and USuk finally bow to the Karzai government's suggestion of a political settlement with selected members of the resistance, chiefly those who had been in the former Taliban regime but were too slow in hopping across to Karzai or who had been sold into orange suits by their political opponents and amerika's "most wanted" list, it will have all been for nought.
Afghanistan will still be oppressive, incapable of supporting it's population because too many greedheads are taking too much, and most of all there will be no peace.
The opportunists amongst the resistance (every movement has some), will have been separated from their more idealistic influences and the new government will be exactly like the old government, and that means the peace will be very short lived.
Posted by: Debs is dead | Aug 24, 2008 5:43:09 PM | 11
It's very possible, even likely, Bacevich, -- like Ron CIA Suskind -- is a fake whistleblower serving a damage-control purpose just like Naval Intelligence Officer Bob Woodward back in the day.
I'll add also, that Bill moyers, as mush as I like him, is also ex-CIA. A lie within an enigma, rapped inside a puzzle? Thank-you Herbert Walker..
How should foreign policy be made?
aside from the obvious, here's a start...'no promised land, no holy book, no chosen people'.
Posted by: Uncle $cam | Aug 24, 2008 5:45:31 PM | 12
I don't get it, the world loves our music, our films, our fashions, our freedoms; why shouldn't they love our foreign policy?
Posted by: ralphieboy | Aug 24, 2008 5:57:52 PM | 13
here we disagree my friend uncle $cam, while i wouldn't dismiss out of hand that bacevich also operates as an intelligence operative - i think his disgust is genuine like roberts - they believe in a decent america living within her means - they are kind of puritans - & i am not surprised that in the last four years we read these expressions of disgust by deep conservatives. they see what the superficial commentariat that sells itself day & night in the mass media, cannot - that their ship is going down - if not today then tommorrow & if not tommorrow in the near future. they are not simply isolationists but in their way they are every bit as anti imperialist as their texts would suggest. certainly they want to guard their interests but they think they are intelligent enough to do so without all the problems inherent in imperialism
& we should be clear - that to every degree it can be measured the imperial project is not only a failure but it is a disaster that is sailing close to catastrophe - these people can see that & they want to save something from the ruins that will be the results of that catastrophe
& loss teaches you something & while i was not unmmoved by his obvious broken heart over the wasted death of his son in iraq - it was evident how muvh his fury was coloured by that loss without ever being simply about sentiment
i sense the disgust in the text of bacevich & roberts are real & constitutive
Posted by: remembereringgiap | Aug 24, 2008 6:06:44 PM | 14
Moyers is repeating that Old Calvinist meme that everyone (else) just wants easy credit (and too much slap-happy sex no doubt), he must have Norwegian parents, although every Norwegian I've ever known was a falling down drunk wife beater indebted to the bank, so maybe Calvinism is Swedes, Finns and Pennsilfaanisch Deitsch. Kinda like Baptists, preaching that everyone (else) is going to Hell.
Hey, I'm just messin' with you! That 'Too Much Easy Credit' and 'They Made the Wrong Choices and Have to Suffer Now' though are white narrow face tight ass creditors''code words' used by those Exceptionalist Elites Moyers memes for.
Bacevich is correct in large part, but ignores the more than half of Americans who work for government or contract to government, and the bankers, brokers, oil and arms industrialists who are preying (sic) for, "We have always been at war with Eurasia", so they can keep hunkered down in their No Work Here Self Entitled sandbag cube and continue drawing that white welfare worker paycheck and pension.
Hey, I'm not messin' with you. After working at all levels of government and also private there is clearly a huge disparity between government "work" and work-work.
Whatever floats your boat, just get your hand out of my tax-worn back pocket, Joe.
Monbiot is correct as far as that goes, but it explains nothing. Is SoS Condi Rice provincial in her outlook, simply incompetent, or a mere toadie to imperialists? Monbiot can't answer that. What is an 'international foreign policy'? Either you shun it, pull your resources in to your 200-mile limit, or else you're 100% all-in.
I would offer this synthesis: First throw away Moyers (he's a Baptist minister, with a Bachelor of Divinity degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary).
Then take Bacevich's premise, tumble and polish it with Monbiot's provincialism, and lack of focus & resolve. Finally roll it in a nebulous event-horizon around the financial mega-pipeline between NYC, WADC and London.
The Sun never sets on the English Empire, and that's all you really need to know.
Posted by: Sharif Bakka | Aug 24, 2008 6:11:27 PM | 15
& we should be clear - that to every degree it can be measured the imperial project is not only a failure but it is a disaster that is sailing close to catastrophe...
Yeah, we all know that, except for slothrol’s alter ego. And not just ‘close’. We’re already peering into the chasm and dreading the fall.
- these people can see that & they want to save something from the ruins that will be the results of that catastrophe”
and yeah, that’s me too. Don’t know what else to do and I’m trying not to feel guilty that I might be elite enough to make it through the bifurcation.
@ Sharif Bakka
the financial mega-pipeline between NYC, WADC and London.
Kind of sums up a lot of it in my mind. Thanks.
Posted by: Juannie | Aug 24, 2008 7:13:36 PM | 16
i take people like bacevich & roberts at their word but perhaps that is because i have become so used to the smarmy soliloquies of the necons that people like bacevich actuall appear to breathe
some nights it is so clear that the bloody us empire is so much like the roman empire that it becomes chilling reading what appears to be ancient history or classical studies & comprehending in 2000 years not much has changed
when you look for comparisons with a caligula or a nero you don't have to look very far
every leader imagining themselves the flawed caesar but really not only not a caesar but they are hardly men - they are like eichmann after all is said & done . technicians of terror & tedium
Posted by: remembereringgiap | Aug 24, 2008 9:11:55 PM | 17
or like attilla, powerful & empty
Posted by: remembereringgiap | Aug 24, 2008 9:26:38 PM | 18
It should be made by overt constitutional means, rather than secretive executive improvisation, reflecting informed empathetic citizens, rather than cynical self-aggrandizing ideologues, to serve the national interest, rather than narrow elites.
Till then, the increasingly effective resistance to our presently fabricated foreign policy is immensely gratifying. Too bad so much disproportionate foreign suffering now attends America's self-inflicted wounds. This will change.
Posted by: Pvt. Keepout | Aug 24, 2008 11:37:46 PM | 19
More or less on the same topic:
Simon Jenkins - "We tilt at windmills as world war looms"
Is the world drifting towards a new global war? From this week the dominant super-power, America, will for three months pass through the valley of the shadow of democracy, a presidential election. This is always a moment of self-absorption and paranoia. Barack Obama and John McCain will not act as statesmen but as politicians. They will grandstand and look over their shoulders. Their eye will stray from the ball.
Meanwhile, along history’s fault line of conflict from Russia’s European border to the Caucasus and on to Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan, diplomats are shifting uneasily in their seats, drums are sounding and harsh words are spoken. The world is now run by a generation of leaders who have never known global war. Has this dulled their senses?
To any who lived through the cold war, recent events along Russia’s western and southern borders are deeply ominous. Moscow initially spent the 17 years since the fall of the Soviet Union flirting with the West. It had been defeated and had good reason for disarming and putting out feelers to join Nato and the European Union. It took part in such proto-capitalist entities as the G8.
In the case of Nato and the EU it was arrogantly rebuffed, while its former Warsaw Pact allies were accepted. Moscow was told it would be foolish to worry about encirclement. A nation that had never enjoyed democracy should content itself with basking in its delights. Russians in the Baltic states and in Ukraine should make their peace with emerging governments. The political clutter of the cold war should be decontaminated.
Suddenly this has not worked. The world is showing alarming parallels with the 1930s. Lights are turning to red as the world again approaches depression. The credit crunch and the collapse of world trade talks are making nations introverted. Meanwhile, the defeated power of the last war, Russia, is flexing its muscles and finding them in good working order.
On Thursday Gordon Brown told his troops in Afghanistan that “what you are doing here prevents terrorism coming to the streets of Britain”. He cannot believe this any more than do his generals. Afghanistan poses no military threat to Britain. Rather it is Britain’s occupation and the response in neighbouring Pakistan that fosters antiwestern militancy in the region. Like the impoverishment of Germany between the wars, the stirring of antiwestern and antiChristian sentiment in the Muslim world can only be dangerous and counter-productive. Yet we do it.
The Taliban are fighting an old-fashioned insurgent war against a foreign invader and recruiting Pakistanis and antiwestern fanatics to help. They have succeeded in tormenting Washington and London with visions of a destabilised nuclear Pakistan, a blood-drenched Middle East and an Iran whose leaders may yet turn to jihad. For Brown - or the American presidential candidates - to imply that these conflicts with the Muslim world are making the world “safer” is manifestly untrue.
Worse, it distorts policy. Rather than calming other foes so the West can concentrate on the conflicts in hand, it is pointlessly stirring Russian expansionism to life.
There is no strategic justification for siting American missile systems in Poland and the Czech Republic. It is nothing but right-wing provocation. Nato’s welcome to Georgia and Ukraine, for no good reason but at risk of having to come to their aid, has served only to incite Georgia to realise that risk while also infuriating Moscow.
Russia is well able to respond recklessly to a snub without such encouragement, so why encourage it? The more powerful state - America - surely has an obligation to show the greater caution. Any strategic decision, such as the goading of Moscow, must plan for its response. Nato’s bureaucracy, lacking coherence and leadership, has been searching for a role since the end of the cold war. That role is apparently now to play with fire.
Any student of McCain or Obama, of Russia’s Vladimir Putin and Dmitry Medvedev, or of the leaders of Britain, France and Germany, might conclude that these are not people likely to go to war. They are surely the children of peace. Yet history shows that “going to war” is never an intention. It is rather the result of weak, shortsighted leaders entrapped by a series of mistakes. For the West’s leaders at present, mistake has become second nature.
Throw into the witches' brew this sinister lump of gristle from today's NYT interview with Saakashvili:
Georgian President Vows to Rebuild Army
He predicted continued American support and said that he spoke by phone with the presumptive Republican nominee for president, Senator John McCain, as often as twice a day, and that he was in regular contact with Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr., who has been picked to run for vice president on the Democratic ticket.
Posted by: parvati_roma | Aug 24, 2008 11:46:38 PM | 20
Upper chamber backs independence of Abkazia and South Ossetia -
Russia's upper chamber of parliament has unanimously voted to ask the Russian President to recognise independence of Abkazia and South Ossetia.
Posted by: Mentalic | Aug 25, 2008 3:21:12 AM | 21
Russia appeared to outmanoeuvre the west diplomatically yet again yesterday, as Mr Medvedev told his ambassador to NATO that Russia was ready for any action the alliance might take against Russia, including the suspension of all cooperation. NATO relies heavily on Russian cooperation for its operations in Afghanistan, and the announcement left Western countries scrambling to say that they did not want to suspend all contacts just at the time when they were hoping to send a strong punitive signal to Moscow.
Also, Kouchner announces the Eu has no plans to impose sanctions on Russia. Looks like the Lion of the Caucasus, who has revisited Gori, the site of his previous show of courage, will have to be content with Dick Cheney, the latest of The Neocon Visit Of The Day program, courtesy of his American neocon sponsors.
Posted by: Thrasyboulos | Aug 25, 2008 12:29:22 PM | 22
Lysander: thanks for the link to Spencer
Posted by: Cloud | Aug 25, 2008 5:21:46 PM | 25
How is foreign policy made?
See, it starts with this guy named Ahmed Chalabi...
Posted by: Enoch Root | Aug 27, 2008 5:32:53 PM | 26
I don't know for sure, but I side with giap in 14 with regard to Bacevich,
who was in fact highly critical of U.S. policy well before his son's death in Iraq. I remain very grateful for Uncle $cam's many many valuable contributions here. I suspect that most of us tend to share Janos Kadar's
sentiment "if you are not against me, you are with me", rather than
the Bushian converse.
Posted by: Hannah K. O'Luthon | Aug 28, 2008 4:30:47 AM | 27