June 26, 2007 [LINK / comment]

Consensus on foreign policy?

In the Outlook section of Sunday's Washington Post, David Ignatius picked up on a recent joint TV appearance (on the Charlie Rose Show) by three former national security advisers: Henry Kissinger (who also served as secretary of state), Zbigniew Brzezinski, and Brent Scowcroft. The two Republicans and one Democrat agreed that the United States must reassess its overall strategic posture:

Their collective message was this: In a radically changing world, America needs to be less arrogant about its use of power and more willing to talk to other nations.

Of course, such words would be regarded as defeatism or even treason by many flag-wavers, but it is indeed "Wise Advice" offered by the foreign policy realists. To my chagrin, I let my post-9/11 patriotic sentiment sway me from my realist intellectual roots, hoping that a determined show of force in Iraq might tip the balance in the Middle East toward more democracy and freedom. I stand corrected. The lack of success in stabilizing Iraq is beginning to have negative consequences on U.S. interests elsewhere in the world, and the sooner we face up to this harsh fact and readjust our commitment of precious resources, the better. Much as we might yearn for a more pragmatic, broadly-appealing approach to foreign policy, however, it probably won't happen during this administration. After all, President Bush essentially ignored every recommendation made by the Iraq Study Group last December. Perhaps the news that Senator Lugar is calling for a fundamental change in U.S. policy in Iraq may change things.

Blind stubborness in foreign policy is not restricted to the Bush administration, however: Michael Lind wrote a piece arguing in favor of "Liberal Internationalism" in The Nation. (Hat tip to Dan.) To me, that course of policy seems like wishful thinking, hoping that rising powers such as China can be "tamed" by the proper trade inducements. But the general thrust of refraining from trying to impose U.S.-made solutions around the globe is certainly appropriate, and in keeping with what the above-mentioned realists are advocating.

More GOP "Apostasy"

Robert Novak wrote about "Arnold's Apostasy: Is Arnold Schwarzenegger a Republican?" (Hmmm, that's a familiar theme! ) The Governator got burned when he tried to push legislative redistricting reform in 2005, and since having a "conversion experience" on the need for bipartisanship last year, he is reluctant to spend any of his political capital to help fellow Republicans in his state by making a deal on redistricting.

COMMENT by: Dan Clem, of Vermillion, SD on Jun 27, 2007 16:37 PM
Hi Andy,

I'm glad you enjoyed The Nation's article on Liberal Internationalism! However, I found your characterization of the article to be somewhat dismissive: "that course of policy seems like wishful thinking, hoping that rising powers such as China can be 'tamed' by the proper trade inducements."

The article reads like a mantra for those of us who have been staring in disbelief since the bellicose days leading up to the Iraq invasion. The author's statement that "the United States after Bush should reassert sovereignty and nonintervention as the basic organizing principles of foreign policy" really hits home. "If global peace is the goal of liberal internationalism, the means to this end are the self-determination of sovereign peoples and a global concert of power."