Consider this list:Well.... the thing about that list is that everyone on it is pretty old. And I'm not sure how many yonger realists there are on the GOP side. Hence the title to this post.
The dirty little secret is that all of these pragmatic conservatives have more in common with Obama's world view and that of the progressive community as a whole than they do with McCain and Neoconservatism. Right now most of them are sticking with McCain because of old friendships and loyalties, a desire to stay out of politics, or because they are social and economic conservatives. But don't be surprised if Powell's endorsement will encourage more of these pragmatic foreign policy conservatives to come over to the Democrats over the next few years. But don't be surprised if Powell's endorsement will encourage more of these pragmatic foreign policy conservatives to come over to the Democrats over the next few years.
- Colin Powell has endorsed Barack Obama.
- Richard Lugar, Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has endorsed Obama's approach to diplomacy over that of McCain.
- Brent Scowcroft refuses to endorse either way. Pretty telling for a former Republican national security advisor, especially since he was opposed to the war in Iraq.
- James Baker continues to support direct talks with Iran and has for the past two years. (Actually just read the entire five secretaries of state even transcript from CNN. It's one big endorsement of Obama's foreign policy)
- Kissinger and Schultz are op-eds in the Washington Post and Financial Times calling for a more moderate approach towards Russia.
- Kissinger has also called for direct talks with Iran (At the Secretary of State level).
- Chuck Hagel has traveled to Iraq with Obama and while not publicly endorsing looks to be pretty clearly in favor of Obama.
- Secretary of Defense Bob Gates is giving speeches that sound a lot more like an Obama foreign policy than a McCain foreign policy.
Pakistan has reached a critical new phase in its long-deteriorating financial situation, as investor flight and bleeding of national reserves force the country to scramble for international funds to shore up its economy. With the global financial crisis draining coffers in the United States and Europe, the key U.S. ally in the war on terrorism is seeking help from an old friend newly flush with cash: China. President Asif Ali Zardari arrived in Beijing on Tuesday for a four-day state visit as concern has surged over a possible debt default by Pakistan that could cripple its economy and spark more civil unrest. While the amount of money Pakistan needs in the short term is relatively small -- $4 billion to $6 billion -- analysts say the climate of crisis and public anger over domestic bailouts in the United States and Western Europe have made even a modest infusion from its Western allies politically difficult.... Pakistan is going to the Chinese now "because you go to the guys with the money," a senior International Monetary Fund official said. "And right now, the Chinese are the ones with the money."Hat tip to Kevin Drum, who observes:
[T]his is the kind of thing that's a canary in the coal mine. Global power generally flows to "the ones with the money," and to the extent that this is China, not the United States, our influence in the world inevitably wanes.The thing is (and Kevin acknowledges this), Pakistan and China have a longstanding alliance, so this kind of move is not as surprising as the Reykjavik-to-Moscow box step. Furthermore, from a U.S. perspective, this is disconcerting only if the trip to Beijing undercuts Western institutions like, say, the IMF. Which this move by Pakistan does not seem to be doing:
A last option might be seeking a lifeline from the IMF, though such an agreement is seen as politically difficult for the new government. Pakistan paid off the last of several IMF loans in 2005, with Musharraf hailing the accomplishment as a breaking of the nation's beggar's bowl. By seeking IMF help now, analysts say, the new government may find itself in the difficult position of explaining to the population why it needs to glue that bowl back together. Pakistani officials, however, are meeting with IMF officials in Washington now, seeking their "seal of approval" on the plan to rein in runaway spending threatening to bankrupt the government. Although IMF officials say the Pakistanis are not seeking a loan, IMF approval of their economic plans could pave the way for other institutions, including the World Bank and Asian Development Banks, to offer lending. It could also make approval of an IMF loan at a later date happen faster. "What they want is an endorsement in principle," a senior IMF official said, "something that would make financial support go more smoothly if they decide they do need to ask for it."Conclusion: as a harbinger of change, this is a very small canary. UPDATE: The Financial Times reports that Hungary and Ukraine are going to the IMF for emergency lending to stabilize their financial systems. What's telling here is that Ukraine went to the IMF rather than Russia.
I expected the multiple choice, or “Job Knowledge,” section to be the most interesting in terms of the priorities the questions revealed. I once imagined the Foreign Service to be a glamorous collection of pinstriped polymaths. And indeed, the sample question leading into the multiple-choice section (“What jazz musician helped introduce bebop?”) tested the sort of knowledge you can imagine needing to whip out to enliven an embassy reception. But “Job Knowledge” is a tiny fraction of the entire written test—just one of four sections on the exam, and not even the longest. I was given 40 minutes to answer 60 questions. There were no tricky vocabulary words or esoteric concepts, no special strategies to digest. There was one question on world religion. One on European history. One on George W. Bush’s tax cut. One on the U.S. Congress. One on the political leanings of the American media. There was nothing on oil, nothing on terrorism, nothing on Iraq or Afghanistan or China. Indeed, the questions were all the sort of stuff a regular newspaper reader with only a passing knowledge of American politics and history would be well-prepared to answer. As I clicked through the questions, I was surprised to see a large number—probably one sixth of the total—read like a pastiche of management-consultant jargon. I clicked through puzzlers about motivating employees, corporate restructuring, and organizational conflict management. A sample captures the feel: “A work group that has high performance norms and low cohesiveness will most likely have which of the following levels of performance: (A) Very high (B) High (C) Moderate (D) Low.” “Job Knowledge” also included questions anyone who’s turned on a computer in the last five years should be able to answer: “It is common practice of e-mail users to have some specific text automatically appear at the bottom of their sent messages. This text is called their …?” As I checked my answers, I counted silently. Almost half of the questions dealt with subjects that had nothing to do with politics, economics, history, or culture. Whoever designed the exam decided to devote about 20 minutes of it to testing what applicants know about the United States and the rest of the world. If you took out the questions on American politics, culture, and economics, you’d have even less. By my calculations, that means only about 10 minutes of the Foreign Service written exam requires any specific knowledge of—or even interest in—anything “foreign.”I'd be curious to hear from FSOs about whether Curry is exaggerating or accurately depicting the deficiencies of the test.
In the end, both candidates put forward mainstream internationalist positions on most issues related to national security, stressing the prudent use of military force, working in concert with allies and insisting that America could still be an active force for good in the world. What was odd was that this hopeful vision of America’s role in the world clashed badly with their rhetoric on the global economy. When talk turned to economics, the rest of the world was viewed as a scary, scary place.
Jim Lehrer didn't ask a single question about China.Think about this for a second. China is clearly the one country that can challenge the United States as a peer competitor in the next decade. There are economic, regional, security, human rights, and global governance issues where Washington and Beijing don't see eye to eye. And there was no question that addressed any of this. That is a whopper of an omission for a debate about foreign policy. Question to readers: what other foreign policy issues were not even discussed at last night's debate?
Harry Truman’s presidency illustrates the lasting impact of first impressions. For many Bush officials, Truman is a comforting role model—another wildly unpopular wartime leader who aimed big and is now viewed as one of the presidential greats. As Rice reflected, “When you’re at the beginning of a big historical transformation, it doesn’t look like you’re doing much right.” Bush himself invoked Truman at his 2006 West Point graduation speech, comparing the struggle against Communism to the war against Islamic radicalism and noting that “Like Americans in Truman’s day, we are laying the foundations for victory.” No one disputes that Bush’s aims are sweeping or that, like Truman, he seeks to transform international relations for a new enemy in a new era. Bush’s second inaugural proclaimed American foreign policy to be nothing less than spreading “democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world.” The difficulty of the task, he said, “is no excuse for avoiding it.” Ending tyranny would be “the concentrated work of generations.” As Rice noted, the president does not just defend the status quo. When it comes to vindication, however, the Truman parallels fall short. History’s judgment of Harry Truman came early, not late. His greatest cold-war policies were recognized as triumphs from the start, and his failures remain failures to this day. Truman’s March 1947 containment speech to Congress was met with a standing ovation and press reports that instantly hailed it as a historic landmark in U.S. foreign policy. His European economic-recovery program, the Marshall Plan, also attracted widespread public support (thanks in large part to the administration’s own public-relations campaign) and produced impressive and fast results. In 1953, just five years after it began, the Marshall Plan formally ended, Europe was well on its way to economic recovery and Secretary of State George Marshall received the Nobel Peace Prize for his work. At the same time, history has not reversed judgment about Truman’s foreign-policy failures. Nixon may have opened China, but Truman still lost it. For starving North Koreans or anyone who worries about Kim Jong-il’s nuclear weapons and crackpot tendencies, the Korean War is still searching for a happy ending. Truman, like Bush, did face stormy opposition and plummeting public approval during his presidency. But his low popularity had many causes, and foreign policy was not the primary one. Postwar economic reconversion, high taxes, government spending, labor disputes, the firing of General Douglas MacArthur, the anti-Communist hearings of Senator Joseph McCarthy and salacious corruption scandals including influence peddling with fur coats and deep freezers all helped to sour the public’s mood by 1952. In January, Truman’s public disapproval hit a whopping 67 percent, a record surpassed only by the current president. Notably, the same poll asked Americans what they believed were the most important issues in the 1952 presidential election. More said government waste and corruption than the Korean War. Republican Party leaders agreed, ranking corruption and wasteful government spending their top two campaign issues by overwhelming margins in a November 1951 Gallup poll. The Korean War ranked a distant fourth (behind taxes), and other foreign issues were even lower. Domestic policy, not foreign policy, was the administration’s greatest weakness and the Republicans’ best hope. Combating the “mess in Washington” became one of Dwight D. Eisenhower’s central campaign themes. The Republican presidential nominee made headlines and scored one of the biggest ovations of the campaign when he assailed the Truman administration as “barefaced looters” during an Indianapolis stump speech. The notion that Truman was drummed out of office for foreign-policy failures that were subsequently judged successes might be comforting, but it is not correct.Again, go check it all out. [Wait, if you're a senior editor, what am I?--ed. You're the person who should remind me to link to this essay as well. Damn straight!--ed.]
Signs of progress in Iraq have left America’s top foreign-policy experts experiencing a rare sensation: optimism. For the first time, the national security establishment appears more positive about the war in Iraq, U.S. efforts in fighting global terrorist networks, and the security of the United States and its people. But these experts are increasingly critical of the U.S. government's approach to the world—from Iran and Pakistan to U.S. energy policy and addressing failed states.Well, you didn't expect optimism about everything, did you? Click here to access all of the data. Be forewarned, however -- like Groucho Marx, I don't completely trust any group of experts that includes me as a member.
The "myth of the paper tiger," as Snyder explains in his National Interest article "Imperial Temptations," holds that enemies are:Here's the thing -- Snyder's argument, paradoxically, can help to substantiate the neoconservative argument and weaken the realist argument about how regime type explains Russian behavior. Why? In his original book, Snyder argued that the "myths of empire" were less likely to appear in either democratic or totalitarian states. He argued that they were most likely to plague mixed, oligarchic regimes -- because imperial myths were the best way to sustain domestic support. "Mixed, oligarchic regime" pretty much fits Russia perfectly. This leads to two interesting questions.capable of becoming fiercely threatening if appeased, but easily crumpled by a resolute attack. These images are often not only wrong, but self-contradictory. For example, Japanese militarists saw the United States as so strong and insatiably aggressive that Japan would have to conquer a huge, self-sufficient empire to get the resources to defend itself; yet at the same time, the Japanese regime saw the United States as so vulnerable and irresolute that a sharp rap against Pearl Harbor would discourage it from fighting back.Snyder goes on to discuss the "Bush Administration's argument for preventive war against Iraq" as an example of this line of reasoning, but it clearly remains a mainstay in foreign-policy arguments of all types.
A broad shift in America's approach to the world is justified and overdue. Bush's basic conception of a "global War on Terror," to take but the most obvious example, has been poorly thought-through, badly implemented, and has produced many unintended costs that will linger for years if not decades. But blanket criticism of Bush misses an important reality. The administration that became the target of so much passion and anger—from Democrats, Republicans, independents, foreigners, Martians, everyone—is not quite the one in place today. The foreign policies that aroused the greatest anger and opposition were mostly pursued in Bush's first term: the invasion of Iraq, the rejection of treaties, diplomacy and multilateralism. In the past few years, many of these policies have been modified, abandoned or reversed. This has happened without acknowledgment—which is partly what drives critics crazy—and it's often been done surreptitiously. It doesn't reflect a change of heart so much as an admission of failure; the old way simply wasn't working. But for whatever reasons and through whichever path, the foreign policies in place now are more sensible, moderate and mainstream. In many cases the next president should follow rather than reverse them.Read the whole thing, and not just because Zakaria cites your humble blogger. In some ways, this Bush administration is the mirror image of the Carter administration's experience in foreign policy (hence the title of this post). In both cases, a new administration rejected both the prior administration's grand strategy -- and spurned the intellectual traditions of their own party -- to chart out a new approach to foreign policy. Both of these new approaches In both cases, these new approaches yielded more failures than successes. And, in both cases, the president altered his approach in response to these failures -- to the point where the foreign policies of their last year in office strongly resembled the status quo they had inherited. Of course, the difference, crudely put, is that Carter moved from dovish to hawkish, while Bush has done the reverse.
Having learned the limits of force in Iraq and Afghanistan, US military strategists are rewriting decades-old military doctrine to place humanitarian missions on par with combat, part of a new effort to win over distrustful foreign populations and enlist new global allies, according to top commanders and Pentagon officials. The Defense Department is implementing a series of new directives to use the American arsenal for more peaceful purposes even as it prepares for war, including a little-noticed revision this year to a document called "Joint Operations," described as the "very core" of how the military branches should be organized. The effort illustrates a growing recognition that, to combat radical ideologies and avert future wars, the Pentagon must draw more heavily on its deep reserves of so-called soft power - its ability to set up medical clinics in a remote part of the world, for example - to balance the more traditional "hard power" of military force, according to more than a dozen US military officers in several regions of the world and planners inside the Pentagon. "Things have changed significantly," Jerry Lynes, a retired Marine Corps colonel who is now chief of education and doctrine for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in an interview. "We have taken our traditional principles of war and added to them." The changes have already translated into new military operations. When a US military team arrived by helicopter in Cambodia's rural Kampong Chhnang Province in late May, the imam from the local mosque spread the word and hundreds of locals descended on the Americans. But it was not confrontation they sought. It was free healthcare. The Friendship Clinic, offering primary and vision care, dentistry, a women's health center, and medical training, was part of a first-of-its kind humanitarian mission called Pacific Angel by the Honolulu-based 13th Air Force.The story also highlights another oddity: while the Pentagon is making this adjustment, they'd really like a different agency to take the lead:
[W]hile the change in emphasis is generally accepted as a positive development, some are also warning that the military risks taking on nonmilitary missions that should be the purview of the State Department and other civilian agencies. Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates, who has called for greater emphasis on diplomatic and economic tools to further American interests, warned in a speech this month about the "militarization" of American foreign policy and repeated his calls for building new civilian capacity for strengthening fragile states. Others have also cautioned against using the military to perform jobs better suited to civilians, such as democracy building and development aid.I'm sure many will blame the Bush administraion for this state of affairs -- but I think what's going on here is the result of how the foreign policy budget is authorized. Congressmen are happy to authorize more defense spending, because that's easier to justify to their constituents, particularly those constituets whose livelihoods are tied into the military. Authorizing civilian spending on foreign policy, however, just looks like a handout to other countries -- it's much easier for Congress to say no to that authorization, and look fiscally prudent in the process. The long-term effect of this skew, however, is that the military is organizing and running an ever-greater share of foreign policy operations. Lest anyone think I'm ranting against the armed forces, I'm trying to say that they don't want this responsibility. They're stepping up because no other agency possesses either the resources or the willingness to act. Until and unless budget and operating authority are reallocated in the executive branch, this 'militarization' of foreign policy is not going to stop. And, irony of ironies, it's the military that most wants to stop it."Our [foreign] policy is out of whack," said Kenneth Bacon, a former assistant secretary of defense who now runs Refugees International, a nonprofit organization. "It is too dominated by the military and we have too little civilian capacity."
According to an anonymous but well-connected source here at Netroots Nation, the First Law of Foreign Policy Punditry states that the less you know about a region, the more dangerous it must be. Thus, when a foreign policy expert knows nothing about a region, it automatically becomes elevated to the gravest national security threat we face as a nation. Unfortunately, this sounds oddly plausible.No it doesn't -- if this was true, television and print would be replete with people warning about the manifold dangers of sub-Saharan Africa -- only to find themselves shouted down by the people predicting doom in Bangladesh. There is, however, a selection bias at work in IR punditry. In my experience, TV producers and op-ed editors aren't interested in hearing you say, "nothing has changed" in response to the news du jour. Therefore, one is more likely to hear and read statements by pundits who genuinely believe that recent events are threatening. [So is there a First Law of Foreign Policy Punditry?--ed. Blame any situation on anti-Americanism.]
Most of the core members of his team served in government during President Bill Clinton’s administration and by and large were junior to the advisers who worked on Mrs. Clinton’s campaign for the Democratic nomination. But they remain in charge within the campaign even as it takes on more senior figures from the Clinton era, like two former secretaries of state, Madeleine K. Albright and Warren Christopher, and are positioned to put their own stamp on the party’s foreign policy. Most of them, like the candidate they are working for, distinguished themselves from Mrs. Clinton’s foreign policy camp by early opposition to the Iraq war. They also tend to be more liberal and to emphasize using the “soft power” of diplomacy and economic aid to try to advance the interests of the United States. Still, their positions fall well within centrist Democratic foreign policy thinking, and none of the deep policy fissures that have divided the Republicans into two camps, the neoconservatives and the so-called pragmatists, have opened.... Mr. Obama’s Republican rival, Senator John McCain of Arizona, has a far smaller and looser foreign policy advisory operation, about 75 people in all, and none are organized into teams. In 2004, the Democratic presidential nominee, Senator John Kerry, had a foreign policy structure similar in scale to Mr. Obama’s, but it had limited influence on the candidate, who had spent 20 years in the Senate, former advisers said.Take that for what you will.
Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates warned yesterday against the risk of a "creeping militarization" of U.S. foreign policy, saying the State Department should lead U.S. engagement with other countries, with the military playing a supporting role.You expect to hear the phrase "creeping militarization" with regard to U.S. foreign policy from a lot of places -- most of which would be ensconced within the academy. When the Secretary of Defense is saying it, however, it's worth taking notice. More here:"We cannot kill or capture our way to victory" in the long-term campaign against terrorism, Gates said, arguing that military action should be subordinate to political and economic efforts to undermine extremism.
Broadly speaking, when it comes to America’s engagement with the rest of the world, you probably don’t here this often from a Secretary of Defense , it is important that the military is – and is clearly seen to be – in a supporting role to civilian agencies. Our diplomatic leaders – be they in ambassadors’ suites or on the seventh floor of the State Department – must have the resources and political support needed to fully exercise their statutory responsibilities in leading American foreign policy.From a standard bureaucratic politics perspective, this kind of behavior is damn unusual. Agency heads usually don't go around saying that other agencies need more resources. Of course, Gates himself likely doesn't think much of that perspective:
One of the reasons I have rarely been invited to lecture in political science departments – including at Texas A&M – is because faculty correctly suspect that I would tell the students that what their textbooks say about government does not describe the reality I have experienced in working for seven presidents.
That's pretty savvy analysis, if you ask me. More generally, I think the notion that mere election of Obama would represent a "soft power surge" as it were, should be tempered. It's not that there would be no Obama effect. It's just that it would be concentrated in places where elites are enthusiastic about him and his policies. This would mean Europe, Africa and Latin America, I suspect. Other regions -- the Middle East, Russia and Asia -- might be less receptive. [What about McCain?--ed. He would certainly get an enthusiastic reception in East Asia, and given his trade policies I expect Latin America and any country that wanted an FTA with the United States would be keen on him. He would play less well in Europe, Russia and the Middle East.] UPDATE: Oh, there's also this from Greene and Delap: "The idea that some might consider him a "Muslim apostate," as Edward Luttwak controversially proposed in The New York Times, has been notably absent from Arabic op-ed pages."
Most Arab columnists writing about Obama have concluded that the exigencies of American politics undermine any efforts by politicians to change the country's foreign policy in the region. "With every American election, Arabs investigate the potential presidents, while forgetting that every American president who enters the White House will be governed by American interests and by the information that is presented to him," Alhomayed wrote. "Our problems have been left to us to deal with, and we are the biggest losers."
McCain has never been confused for an isolationist, but neither can he be confined to either of the other factions [realism and neoconservatism--DD]. One reason is temperamental; McCain just doesn?t like labels, and he isn?t very good at sticking to orthodoxies ? a personality quirk he has tried hard to control during the campaign. ?He?s not a guy who drinks Kool-Aid easily,? says Gary Hart, the former Democratic senator who was once close enough to McCain to have been a groomsman in his wedding. ?He?s suspicious of any group who sees the world that simply.? Lorne Craner, a foreign-policy thinker who worked for McCain in the House and Senate in the 1980s, told me that McCain had a standing rule in his office then. All meetings were to be limited to half an hour, unless they were with either of two advisers: Jeane Kirkpatrick, the Reaganite idealist, or Brent Scowcroft, the former general who was a leader in the realist wing. McCain loved to hear from both of them at length. It?s clear, though, that on the continuum that separates realists from idealists, McCain sits much closer to the idealist perspective. McCain has long been chairman of the International Republican Institute, run by Craner, which exists to promote democratic reforms in closed societies. He makes a point of meeting with dissidents when he visits countries like Georgia and Uzbekistan and has championed the cause of Aung San Suu Kyi, the imprisoned leader of the Burmese resistance. Most important, as he made clear in his preamble to our interview, McCain considers national values, and not strategic interests, to be the guiding force in foreign policy. America exists, in McCain?s view, not simply to safeguard the prosperity and safety of those who live in it but also to spread democratic values and human rights to other parts of the planet. McCain argues that his brand of idealism is actually more pragmatic in a post-9/11 world than the hard realism of the cold war. He rejects as outdated, for instance, a basic proposition of cold-war realists like Kissinger and Baker: that stability is always found in the relationship between states. Realists have long presumed that the country?s security is defined by the stability of its alliances with the governments of other countries, even if those governments are odious; by this thinking, your interests can sometimes be served by befriending leaders who share none of your democratic values. McCain, by contrast, maintains that in a world where oppressive governments can produce fertile ground for rogue groups like Al Qaeda to recruit and prosper, forging bonds with tyrannical regimes is often more likely to harm American interests than to help them.This strikes me as a spot-on assessment of McCain's foreign policy instincts -- a little less postmodern, "we create reality" than George W. Bush's, but nevertheless leaning quite heavily in the neocon direction. It's this passage, however, where McCain mentions something I haven't heard from him before on foreign policy:
Most American politicians, of course, would immediately dismiss the idea of sending the military into Zimbabwe or Myanmar as tangential to American interests and therefore impossible to justify. McCain didn?t make this argument. He seemed to start from a default position that moral reasons alone could justify the use of American force, and from there he considered the reasons it might not be feasible to do so. In other words, to paraphrase Robert Kennedy, while most politicians looked at injustice in a foreign land and asked, ?Why intervene?? McCain seemed to look at that same injustice and ask himself, ?Why not?? ?I think we?ve learned some lessons,? McCain told me. ?One is that the American people have to be willing to support it. But two, we need to work more in an international way to try to beneficially affect the situation. And you have to convince America and the world that every single avenue has been exhausted before we go in militarily. And we better think not a day later or a week later, but a year and 5 years and 10 years later. Because the attention span, unfortunately, of the American people, although pretty remarkable in some ways, is not inexhaustible.?.... McCain is relying on the same strategy to achieve success both in Iraq and in the November election. In each endeavor, McCain is staking everything on the notion that the public, having seen the success of a new military strategy, can be convinced that the war is, in fact, winnable and worth the continued sacrifice. Absent that national retrenching, McCain admits that this war, like the one in Vietnam, is probably doomed. Near the end of our conversation in Tampa, I asked him if he would be willing to change course on Iraq if the violence there started to rise again. ?Oh, we?d have to,? he replied. ?It?s not so much what McCain would do. American public opinion will not tolerate such a thing.?The Bush administration's fundamental mistake was to believe that a generation-long project could somehow be pursued without the need for consensus by anyone outside the executive branch. McCain seems to get that. After researching what the American people think about foreign military interventions, I'm pretty sure that the American people don't want us in Iraq regardless of how well the surge works (Bai makes this point later on in the article). I'm not sure, however, whether this will be the deciding factor in how they vote in November. The paradox: for McCain to be a more prudent foreign policy president, he needs to have a hostile public constraining him. Of course, if that's the case, then it's entirely possible he won't be elected president in the first place.
Dan Price, the international economics official at the White House National Security Council, said the Group of Eight rich countries must ?lead by example?. Mr Price, one of the key officials preparing for the July G8 summit in Japan, told the Financial Times that the group should issue ?a strong . . . statement on open investment and trade policies?. This should be ?aimed not only outward but to the G8 countries themselves?.Also in today's Financial Times:
In one of his last acts as Russian president, Vladimir Putin on Monday signed a long-awaited law restricting foreign investment in 42 ?strategic? sectors, including energy, telecoms and aerospace.... Russian officials claim the rules are more liberal than those in many other countries. But some foreign investors have said the list of restricted sectors is too long ? by some estimates, accounting for more than half the economy ? and that the language leaves too much scope for interpretation. Analysts also warn that the law leaves the door open for more sectors to be included in the future.... Under the new rules, foreign private investors will have to seek permission from a committee chaired by the Russian prime minister ? set to be Mr Putin after he stands down as president this week ? to take more than 50 per cent of companies in strategic sectors. Foreign state-controlled companies will be barred from taking a controlling stake in strategic companies, and will have to seek permission for a stake of more than 25 per cent. As well as energy, aerospace and defence, sectors defined as strategic include mining, space technology and nuclear energy. ?Dominant? fixed-line telecommunications companies are also included. Broadcast media covering at least half the country are deemed strategic, as are large-circulation newspapers and publishing companies. Some eyebrows were raised at the late inclusion of the fishing industry.
2007 marked the 60th anniversary of the founding of the State Department?s Policy Planning Staff. This agency, housed in the State Department, is unusual in two respects. First, it will forever be associated with its first director, George Kennan, and the successful doctrine of containment that he originated. Second, the mission of Policy Planning is, according to its own website: ?to take a longer term, strategic view of global trends and frame recommendations for the Secretary of State to advance U.S. interests and American values.? This goes against the grain of a 24/7, real-time, rapid-reaction era when government policymakers define the long term as two weeks from the present. As the United States prepares for the 2008 election, there is a yearning for a new approach to foreign policy. Containment is dead and gone, the Bush doctrine has been unpopular at home and abroad, and isolationism is not an option. In a world of complex, overlapping and asymmetric threats, the need for policy planning has never been greater. Both policymakers and scholars need a better grasp of how to craft viable, long-term strategies for the 21st century.... Moving forward, the future of policy planning ? in both the abstract and bureaucratic senses ? is open to question. What are the proper ideas orient American foreign policy? Is the Policy Planning Staff, as currently organized, influential enough to improve American grand strategy? Is it even possible for any planning agency to retain its relevance in the modern era?Click here for a look at the conference program. The event is open to the public, so Boston-based readers can register their attendance by clicking here. For those of you not in the Bosto area, don't fret -- if all goes well, all of the sessions will be webcast in real time.
It would be a "cop-out" for countries to skip the opening ceremonies at the Beijing Olympics as a way of protesting China's crackdown in Tibet, President Bush's national security adviser said Sunday. The kind of "quiet diplomacy" that the U.S. is practicing is a better way to send a message to China's leaders, Stephen Hadley said. President Bush has given no indication he will skip the event. "I don't view the Olympics as a political event," Bush said this past week. "I view it as a sporting event." The White House has not yet said whether he will attend the opening ceremony on Aug. 8. "This issue [of the boycott] is in some sense a bit of a red herring," Hadley said in a broadcast interview. "I think unfortunately a lot of countries say, 'Well, if we say that we are not going to the opening ceremonies we check the box on Tibet.' That's a cop-out. "If other countries are concerned about that, they ought to do what we are doing through quiet diplomacy, send a message clearly to the Chinese that this is an opportunity with the whole world watching, to show that they take into account and are determined to treat their citizens with dignity and respect. They would put pressure on the Chinese authorities quietly to meet with representatives of the Dalai Lama and use this as an opportunity help resolve that situation," Hadley said.Hadley goes even further in the New York Times' version of the story: "[Hadley] suggested that the recent public protests, particularly in the chaotic Olympic torch processions, would only backfire." Three thoughts on this:
1) Is Hadley seriously suggesting that the Tibet issue was going to crop up in "quiet diplomacy" in the absence of public protests? I suspect that, absent the news coverage, the only way it would have surfaced would have been in a completely pro forma way, with the inevitable "go away sonny, you're bothering me" reply from Beijing. 2) When, exactly, has the modern Olympics not been a political event? 3) Six months from now, will a reporter please remember to ask Hadley,"Hey, all that quiet diplomacy you've conducted with China on the Tibet issue, how did that pan out?"
One of the chief concerns of the pragmatists is that Mr. McCain is susceptible to influence from the neoconservatives because he is not as fully formed on foreign policy as his campaign advisers say he is, and that while he speaks authoritatively, he operates too much off the cuff and has not done the deeper homework required of a presidential candidate.Ouch. This story, along with Jason Zengerle's autopsy of the McCain campaign's inner divisions, does not paint a glowing picture of the candidate's decision-making processes (for a small antidote, see Michael Lewis' recycled Slate essay). Larry Rohter's story on Barsck Obama doesn't make me feel much better:
With the war in Iraq and Islamic terrorism among the top issues in the campaign, all three of the presidential contenders have sought to emphasize the value of their very different foreign policy credentials. Senator John McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee, has often pointed to his military and combat experience, while Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton has emphasized her involvement in international and national security issues as both first lady and a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. But Mr. Obama has argued that his rivals? longer official record is no substitute for his real-life grass-roots experience. ?Foreign policy is the area where I am probably most confident that I know more and understand the world better than Senator Clinton and Senator McCain,? he said in his remarks in San Francisco. ?Experience in Washington is not knowledge of the world,? he continued, provoking laughter among those present. ?This I know. When Senator Clinton brags, ?I?ve met leaders from 80 countries,? I know what those trips are like. I?ve been on them. You go from the airport to the embassy. There?s a group of children who do a native dance. You meet with the C.I.A. station chief and the embassy and they give you a briefing. You go take a tour of plant that? with ?the assistance of Usaid has started something. And then, you go.? During the speech, Mr. Obama also spoke about having traveled to Pakistan in the early 1980s. Because of that trip, which he did not mention in either of his autobiographical books, ?I knew what Sunni and Shia was before I joined the Senate Foreign Relations Committee,? he said.... Mr. Obama?s advisers argue that ?there are multiple aspects to experience, each of which can be relevant.? Mr. Obama?s experience ?provides a different kind of insight? than the traditional r?sum?, said Susan E. Rice, a former assistant secretary of state for African affairs and a National Security Council official who is one of Mr. Obama?s foreign policy advisers. ?At a time when our foreign policy and national security have so obviously suffered from a simplistic, black-and-white interpretation,? Ms. Rice added, having ?an American president who spent part of his formative years and young adulthood living in a poor country under a dictatorship brings an understanding of the complexity of things that others may not have. I?m not saying that official travels and Congressional delegations are without value, but there are limits to what you can glean from that.?Jamie Kirchick (who beat the Times by two days on this story, it should be noted) points out the obvious political problems with this position. What strikes me, however, is the hubris involved in Obama's position. Yes, extended travel and living abroad can expose one to information that would not come from an official junket. I'm not sure that such travel at the age of six really counts for much. Furthermore, last I checked, Obama had this kind of experience in only two countries (Indonesia and Pakistan). That leaves an awfully large part of the globe unexplored. It also elides the point that, as president, Obama is far more likely to have to deal with the very dignitaries he dismisses in the story. [UPDATE: Marc Ambinder makes this point better than I:
Some Obama campaign aides privately admit that their boss has a tendency to use superlatives when a comparative is called for. What's weird about Obama's peacock displays is that they're unnecessary. No one -- not even messianic Obamniacs -- believe that he has more foreign policy experience than John McCain, although many millions of voters may well come to believe that Obama's life experience in general gives him a better vantage point. Obama's confidence is one of his more attractive qualities as a candidate. Sometimes, though, that confidence crosses the border into other, less attractive qualities.]Suddenly, claiming imaginary sniper fire doesn't look like that bad of a sin. UPDATE: It is truly amazing that on a day when the press might be forgetting about Bosnia and focusing on the foreign policy flaws of her rivals, the Clinton campaign manages to pull off a.... Clintonesque blurring of the facts.
Six years after 9/11, we still don't have a grand strategy.
This year's presidential campaign has highlighted the divide in Democratic foreign-policy circles between hawks and doves. My run-in with Pletka, however, reveals a split within the GOP as well, between realists and neoconservatives. It was not always so. When George W. Bush ran for president in 2000, he evinced a largely realist policy platform. His chief foreign-policy spokesperson, Condoleezza Rice, wrote a realpolitik essay in Foreign Affairs entitled ?Promoting the National Interest.? Bush governed differently than he campaigned, however. The September 11 terrorist attacks led to a rethink of foreign-policy priorities. Neoconservative ideas?particularly democracy promotion?were placed at the heart of the Bush administration's grand strategy. By early 2008, Pletka's statement might very well be true. John McCain's foreign-policy team has not been terribly friendly towards GOP realists?which says something about the Republican Party's foreign-policy transformation.Read the whole thing -- it's not long.
[There is] a thesis that I've been cogitating on for the past few months: despite claims by international relations theorists -- including most realists -- that the overwhelming majority of Americans hold liberal policy preferences, it just ain't so. Even if those beliefs are extolled in the abstract, when asked to prioritize among different foreign policy tasks, the realist position wins.From this germ of an idea, a conference paper emerged. And, a short three-and-a-half years after the original idea, "The Realist Tradition in American Public Opinion" is out at Perspectives on Politics. The abstract:
For more than half a century, realist scholars of international relations have maintained that their world view is inimical to the American public. For a variety of reasons?inchoate attitudes, national history, American exceptionalism?realists assert that the U.S. government pursues realist policies in spite and not because of public opinion. Indeed, most IR scholars share this ?anti-realist assumption.? To determine the empirical validity of the anti-realist assumption, this paper re-examines survey and experimental data on the mass public's attitudes towards foreign policy priorities and world views, the use of force, and foreign economic policy over the past three decades. The results suggest that, far from disliking realism, Americans are at least as comfortable with the logic of realpolitik as they are with liberal internationalism. The persistence of the anti-realist assumption might be due to an ironic fact: American elites are more predisposed towards liberal internationalism than the rest of the American public.The article -- in fact, the entire issue -- is available for free online. Go check it out. I doubt I will publish many other articles in which I say that George Kennan is 100% wrong.
In the days immediately after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, members of President Bush?s war cabinet declared that it would be impossible to deter the most fervent extremists from carrying out even more deadly terrorist missions with biological, chemical or nuclear weapons. Since then, however, administration, military and intelligence officials assigned to counterterrorism have begun to change their view. After piecing together a more nuanced portrait of terrorist organizations, they say there is reason to believe that a combination of efforts could in fact establish something akin to the posture of deterrence, the strategy that helped protect the United States from a Soviet nuclear attack during the cold war. Interviews with more than two dozen senior officials involved in the effort provided the outlines of previously unreported missions to mute Al Qaeda?s message, turn the jihadi movement?s own weaknesses against it and illuminate Al Qaeda?s errors whenever possible. A primary focus has become cyberspace, which is the global safe haven of terrorist networks. To counter efforts by terrorists to plot attacks, raise money and recruit new members on the Internet, the government has mounted a secret campaign to plant bogus e-mail messages and Web site postings, with the intent to sow confusion, dissent and distrust among militant organizations, officials confirm.Read the whole thing. The article chronicles a variety of tactics designed to impair Al Qaeda's strengths on the web and in the hearts and minds of Muslims. It's good stuff. But it's not "deterrence" in the Cold War sense of the word. Successful deterrence of Al Qaeda would be taking place if the organization decided not to take action because they feared retaliation by the United States against assets that they held dear. Deterrence works if an actor refrains from attack because they calculate that the cost of the adversary's response would outweigh any benefit from the initial strike. But that's not in the U.S. strategy. Instead, what U.S. officials appears to be doing is decreasing the likelihood of a successful attack -- by sowing confuson, interdicting logistical support, and reducing sympathy for the organization. The closest one could come to deterrence is if one defined Al Qaeda's reputation as a tangible asset that would face devastating consequences after a successful attack. Even here, however, the U.S. strategy is primarily to weaken Al Qaeda by increasing the odds of an unsuccessful attack. The more appropriate word to use here is "containment." The United States is trying to sow divisions within the jihadi movement -- much like Kennan urged the United States to do among communists of different nationalities. The United States is applying counter-pressure in areas where Al Qaeda is trying to gain supporters and symathizers -- much like Kennan urged the application of "counter-force" in areas where the Soviets tried to advance their interests. This is all to the good. But it's not deterrence. Indeed, this is one of those rare moments when the headline -- "U.S. Adapts Cold-War Idea to Fight Terrorists" -- is more accurate than the lead of the story.
1) There was unanimous agreement that the term "rogue states" was pretty stupid as a category. 2) The most amusing moment for me was when AEI's Danielle Pletka accused me of being on the far left -- because I suggested some realpolitik approaches to foreign policy (like prioritizing counterproliferation over democracy promotion). When informed of my party status later, Pletka replied, "well, he's not like any Republican I know!" Apparently, Brent Scowcroft, George H.W. Bush, George Schultz, and Henry Kissinger are now barred from entering AEI. 3) Wesley Clark was on the same panel as Pletka and myself -- we were charged with giving advice to the next administration. It was interesting to note that Clark had no difficulty speculating about a president Clinton or a president McCain -- but it took a great deal of time and effort for him to say "President Obama" even as a hypothetical. 4) If you want to amuse yourself for a while, ask Ed Luttwak a question about... anything. He's good for at least an hour's worth of interesting free association on any topic. 5) There's something about California... at one of the conference dinners I saw the ghosts of Democratic Campaigns Past -- Michael Dukakis, Kitty Dukakis, Warren Christopher, etc. The freaky thing was that none of them looked like they had aged since falling out of the public spotlight. 6) Redeye flights suck eggs.That is all -- you can read the LA Times' Scott Martelle for staight reportage of the conference.
1) They will always try to gain a psychological edge over you. They'll do this by never showing you the schedule. They'll want to talk to you alone. Test you when you?re tired and jet-lagged. 2) All negotiations with rogue leaders take place between three and four in the morning. 3) When rogue leaders try to show you hospitality, iit will happen in ways that might compromise you. 4) Rogue leaders care a surprising amount about public opinion -- in the United States and in their own country 5) Acting deferentially is not always the way to go. When Richardson met with Hussein, he mistakenly crossed his legs and showed Husseing the sole of his shoe, a big no-no in the Middle East. Hussein stormed off, and Richardson't interpreter told him he should apologize. He chose not to, which apparently impressed Hussein.11:55: All rogue leaders want a visit from the President of the United States 12:00: Richardson believes that when dealing with rogues, all diplomacy is personal. He then gives a shout-out to George H.W. Bush as one of the best on this front. 12:01: Richardson is now sitting down with the LA Times' Maggie Farley. He says in response to Cuba, "by the way, the [Cuban] embargo is not working." He then says he wouldn't lift it unless Cuba took major steps towards liberalizing its regime. 12:02: Richardson: "George Clooney has been more effective in his Sudan diplomacy than the U.S. government." 12:05: Thinks a lot of simple steps -- closing Guantanamo, no more Abu Ghraibs, etc., will buy the U.S. a lot of goodwill. 12:10: In a response to endorsing Obama vs. Clinton, Richardson gives his boilerplate -- he feels a sense of loyalty to the Clintons because of past appointments.... but he did throw his hat into the ring against Hillary, so that only goes so far.... he likes Obama, thinks he's got... something, can't put a finger on it. Does plan to endorse someone. He's bemused that he's getting more press attention now than he did when he was running. Doesn't think endorsements matter, anyway. I should add that, based on what I've heard while here, it's pretty damn obvious that Richardson would like to endorse Obama. 12:15: Just asked Richardson a question about whether the U.S. could influence who wins the Iranian presidential election in 2009, thereby removing Ahmadinejad from the equation. Richardson stalls for a bit, talking about broad Iranian support for closer U.S. ties. He then -- surprisingly -- trashes Radio Free Europe, Radio Marti, thinks they don't work terribly well. Would prefer to liberalize travel bans. etc. as a way to improve U.S. image inside Iran. In the end, thinks Ahmadinejad will lose. Doesn't really answer my question -- but bonus points for not getting fraked by me typing into the blog as he gives his answer. 12:20: Richardson thinks the most effective sanctions are the travel bans to elite leaders. 12:30: That's it. On to lunch!
[N]o matter how ill-conceived they may have been, Power?s bellicose words aren?t an aberration. Instead, they highlight the adversarial style of a new generation of Democratic foreign-policy mavens who have more in common with the raucous world of bloggers than the somber, oak-lined environs of the Council on Foreign Relations.OK, I follow this world pretty closely, and I have to ask -- who the hell is Heilbrunn talking about? No doubt there are netrootsy types -- Spencer Ackerman, Glenn Greenwald and Matt Yglesias, for example -- who blog about foreign policy with a fierceness that matches Power's rhetoric. None of these guys are "Democratic foreign-policy mavens," however. On the other side of the ledger, the foreign policy mavens who populate either the Center for American Progress or Democracy Arsenal aren't terribly bellicose. Seriously, I'd like Heilbrunn or others to name names here. Is there a generation of bellicose mavens who slipped under my radar? My guess is that Samantha Power was sui generis -- a crusading journalist who made the leap to policy advisor (the only other person I can think of who made a similar leap was Strobe Talbott.... minus the crusading). It's a pretty rare crossover. UPDATE: The New York Times' Ashley Parker -- in a story about how bloggers live/work/geek out in DC -- provides one data point for Heilbrunn:
Mr. Ackerman, who also lives in the house, blogs and works for The Washington Independent, a Web site that covers politics and policy. In April, his personal blog will move to the Web site of the Center for American Progress, a liberal policy group.Still, this is insufficient data to characterize a trend.
Mexico and Canada on Wednesday voiced concern about calls by Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement, as the Democratic presidential hopefuls compete to adopt the most sceptical stance towards free trade ahead of next week?s Ohio primary election. In a televised debate on Tuesday night, Mr Obama and Mrs Clinton both threatened to pull out of Nafta if elected president unless Canada and Mexico agreed to strengthen labour and environmental standards. Arturo Sarukhan, Mexico?s ambassador to the US, told the Financial Times that the US, Canada and Mexico had all benefited from Nafta and warned against reopening negotiations. ?Mexico does not support reopening Nafta,? he said. ?It would be like throwing a monkey wrench into the engine of North American competitiveness.? Mexican diplomats believe a renegotiation could resurrect the commercial disputes and barriers to trade that the agreement itself was designed to overcome. Jim Flaherty, Canada?s finance minister, also expressed ?concern? about the remarks by the Democratic candidates. ?Nafta is a tremendous benefit to Americans and perhaps the [candidates] have not had the opportunity to familiarise themselves with the benefit to Americans and the American economy of Nafta,? he said.I've said it before and I will say it again: Democrats cannot simultaneously talk about improving America's standing abroad while acting like a belligerent unilateralist when it comes to trade policy. In fairness, the New York Times' Michael Luo argues that both Clinton and Obama aren't out-and-out protectionists. Of course, saying that Clinton and Obama aren't as bad as Sherrod Brown or Byron Dorgan is damning with faint praise. Furthermore, just because Clinton and Obama voted for some free trade deals does not mean they're really keen on the idea. UPDATE: Scary fact of the day: the anti-NAFTA pandering is not the worst trade rhetoric emanating from the candidates. No, for that you'd have to turn to Obama's co-sponsoring of the Patriot Employer Act -- which Willem Buiter and Anne Sibert label, "reactionary, populist, xenophobic and just plain silly." Hat tip: Greg Mankiw. ANOTHER UPDATE: CTV reports the following:
Within the last month, a top staff member for Obama's campaign telephoned Michael Wilson, Canada's ambassador to the United States, and warned him that Obama would speak out against NAFTA, according to Canadian sources. The staff member reassured Wilson that the criticisms would only be campaign rhetoric, and should not be taken at face value.... Late Wednesday, a spokesperson for the Obama campaign said the staff member's warning to Wilson sounded implausible, but did not deny that contact had been made. "Senator Obama does not make promises he doesn't intend to keep," the spokesperson said. Low-level sources also suggested the Clinton campaign may have given a similar warning to Ottawa, but a Clinton spokesperson flatly denied the claim. During Tuesday's debate, she said that as president she would opt out of NAFTA "unless we renegotiate it."The Canadians have denied the specifics of the report.
Daniel W. Drezner is professor of international politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University.