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Earlier this week, Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit linked to two important essays from the September/October issue of Foreign Affairs: one written by John Edwards, the other by Rudy Giuliani. I've already read lots of commentary, serious and silly.
As Foreign Policy issues will play a critical role in the upcoming Presidential election, and Presidency, how candidates frame such issues should be a critical factor in judging their qualifications for the Presidency.
At the risk of adding redundancy to the debate, here's my take on their essays.
Edwards frames his essay with the following admonition: At the dawn of a new century and on the brink of a new presidency, the United States today needs to reclaim the moral high ground that defined our foreign policy for much of the last century.
Two immediate thoughts: this will certainly be all about what Bush has done wrong (natch), but I also wonder how long one can reasonably refer to the present as the "dawn of a new century. That seems so Y2K.
The rest as annotated below. We must move beyond the wreckage created by one of the greatest strategic failures in U.S. history: the war in Iraq. Rather than alienating the rest of the world through assertions of infallibility and demands of obedience, as the current administration has done, U.S. foreign policy must be driven by a strategy of reengagement. The great debates of International Relations revolve around the aftermath of World Wars I and II, and decisions taken in the midst of Cold War struggles. Should we have tempered vengeful reparations leveled against Germany in 1919; should we have turned against Stalin after defeating the Nazis and Japan. Yet, Edwards sees our carrying the fight against terrorism directly against primary state sponsors of terror as a "great strategic failure." Not your grandfather's strategic failure, I'd say.
And what on earth is Edwards referring to, with "assertions of infallibility and demands of obedience?" We spent months trying to work within the context of the UN in forcing Saddam Hussein to abide by UN resolutions, we strove mightily to work with all our allies, not juts coalition partners, only to discover that many of those we sought to persuade had already been bribed or corrupted by Saddam. Obedience? Whose obedience do we possibly try to compel? This sounds remarkably similar to the grossest caricatures of our enemies official press political cartoonage. Edwards needs to reengage with reality.
With confidence and resolve, we must reengage with those who pose a security threat to us, from Iran to North Korea.
Where's Edwards been? We've been all kinds of engaged with both these nuclear mavericks in all manner of bad faith negotiations. Re-engage? One fears that only with arms, would this suggest a new "confidence and resolve," or generate any positive result.
And our government must reengage with the American people to restore our nation's reputation as a moral beacon to the world, tapping into our fundamental hope and optimism and calling on our citizens' commitment and courage to make this possible. We must lead the world by demonstrating the power of our ideals, not by stoking fear about those who do not share them.
Americans remain hopeful, proud of our ideals, and optimistic about our power to do good, despite the continual criticism and slander against us, not just by real enemies, but by domestic political partisans, Edwards among them. "We don't need bumberstickersm" Edwards snipes, objecting to the formulation of a War on Terror as "stoking fear." The threat of thousands (or millions) of innocents slaughtered by a catastrophic attack is very real, and has a very real precedent, as Giuliani can personally attest. This serves as the most craven posturing from Edwards and others of his ilk: that the threat from terrorism and its state sponsors is exaggerated or inflamed. We fight terrorists, terror organizations, and their state sponsors because they seek to kill innocents and wage war against civilian populations, not because they don't share our ideals.
In avoiding the temptation to rule as an empire, we hastened the fall of a corrupt and evil one in the Soviet Union. The lesson is that we cannot only be warriors; we must be thinkers and leaders as well. Edwards mentions Ronald Reagan several times in this essay, always positively. Given he's so admiring of Reagan's legacy, you'd think he'd recall that Reagan achieved what he achieved for the US in ultimately prevailing over the USSR through strength and confrontation. And that he was soundly and bitterly criticized throughout the entire process by those of Edwards' Democrat colleagues who were around at the time. There is no question that we are less safe today as a result of this administration's policies. The Bush administration has walked the United States right into the terrorists' trap. By framing this struggle against extremism as a war, it has reinforced the jihadists' narrative that we want to conquer the Muslim world and that there is a "clash of civilizations" pitting the West against Islam. From Guantanamo to Abu Ghraib, the "war on terror" has tragically become the recruitment poster al Qaeda wanted.
And, if we had followed what Edwards seems to suggest as an alternative, we would have played into the Jihadists' narrative tat we were weak and unwilling to stand up against their provocations. Al Qaeda's own captured planning and status documents reveal that our aggressive response since 9/11 was entirely contrary to what they expected and hoped to exploit. Trying to use our media to turn the public against the Bush Administration and their foreign policy is their fallback strategy. Again, Edwards and his partners among the Democrats are helping our enemies achieve this lesser objective.
We should begin our reengagement with the world by bringing an end to the Iraq war. Iraq's problems are deep and dangerous, but they cannot be solved by the U.S. military. For over a year, I have argued for an immediate withdrawal of 40,000 to 50,000 U.S. combat troops from Iraq, followed by an orderly and complete withdrawal of all combat troops.
For anyone who claims that Democrats aren't calling for immediate retreat, I give you John Edwards. Note that he starts with this premise, but see what he calls for in the next breath:
Once we are out of Iraq, the United States must retain sufficient forces in the region to prevent a genocide, a regional spillover of the civil war, or the establishment of an al Qaeda safe haven. We will most likely need to retain quick-reaction forces in Kuwait and a significant naval presence in the Persian Gulf. We will also need some security capabilities in Baghdad, inside the Green Zone, to protect the U.S. embassy and U.S. personnel. I thought we would pull all combat troops out of Iraq? Will these Baghdad and Green Zone forces be some other kind of troops? (Note to John, combat troops might be best.) And how many troops does Edwards think would be required to hold in Kuwait to prevent genocide or a regional spillover of civil war, or the establishment of an Al Qaeda safe haven? Doesn't that place us smack dab where we are right now? That's what our military experts (those not seeking jobs with a Democrat administration) are saying. What we are doing now, with the "surge," is designed to best prevent exactly what Edwards claims as our rightful objectives in Iraq.
The past few years have brought the biggest crisis in civil-military relations in a generation. The mismanagement of the military has been so severe that many of our most decorated retired officers are speaking out. I will reengage with our military through a basic doctrine of national security management that has been demolished by the current administration: military professionals will have primary responsibility in matters of tactics and operations, while civilian leaders will have authority over political decisions and in all matters of broad strategy.
What on earth is Edwards talking about here? Military voices, despite a few critics and political partisans, are very supportive of GEN Petraeus, his counterinsurgency doctrine, and current surge operations. The military, in this entire affair, has been 100% responsive to however the mission has been defined, and whatever priorities military and civilian leadership have defined. If Edwards thinks any aspect of that needs fixing, he's not any keen student of the US military. Perhaps he's been reengaging a bit too much with some of our international critics (some of whom have a serious problem in this regard).
As commander in chief, I will do everything I can to repair the sacred contract with our active-duty personnel and veterans. Central to this sacred contract is a simple and solemn pledge to every man and woman who risks his or her life for our country: we will take care of you as you have taken care of us. My administration will guarantee quality health care for our servicemen and servicewomen and every generation of veterans, provide families with the support they need to withstand the strain of separations, and ensure that returning troops have access to the education and opportunities necessary to succeed in civilian life.
Dare I say it? From an Iraqi Veteran, to politicians: before you promise us one more benefit, bonus, piece of relief or perk, how about getting 100% behind our mission? I am almost embarrassed by the steady stream of pandering going on (on both sides of the aisle). Stop treating the military like just another special interest group who's loyalty you can buy.
We must begin to create a world in which the despair that breeds radical terrorism is overwhelmed by the hope that comes with universal education, democracy, and economic opportunity. By exercising this sort of leadership, we can transform a generation of potential enemies into a generation of friends.
We can begin by leading the fight to eradicate global poverty and provide universal primary education. At first glance, these areas might not seem directly related to our self-interest. But they are in fact intimately tied to our present and future national security. Unsurprisingly, we see radicalism rising today in unstable countries such as Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, and, of course, Iraq and Afghanistan.
Herewith Edwards transposes familiar liberal "crime fighting" orthodoxy onto the challenge of terrorism. Poverty causes crime, therefore poverty causes terror. Never mind that most Jihadis come from educated and privileged elites except of course for those unfortunates that get fooled into serving as "suicide" bombers or children or the handicapped used as bomb camouflage.
If that's not perverse enough, Edwards goes ahead and heaps on the rest of progressive orthodoxy: education as the "cure" for poverty, "Clean water and sanitation are also necessary to improve health, education, and economic prosperity," universal (as in, worldwide) access to drugs and medical treatment. Mention of the Global Development Act, described as a kind of bureaucratic solution for redundant and ineffective global development efforts. Think DHS for global poverty, a "Global Poverty Czar" and the like.
That was painful.
Rudy Giuliani, in contrast, presents somewhat more muscular Foreign Policy positions, without the poverty breeds terrorism gloss. Giuliani speaks of a different kind of "reengagement," as well.
We are all members of the 9/11 generation.
The defining challenges of the twentieth century ended with the fall of the Berlin Wall. Full recognition of the first great challenge of the twenty-first century came with the attacks of September 11, 2001, even though Islamist terrorists had begun their assault on world order decades before. Confronted with an act of war on American soil, our old assumptions about conflict between nation-states fell away. Civilization itself, and the international system, had come under attack by a ruthless and radical Islamist enemy.
America and its allies have made progress since that terrible day. We have responded forcefully to the Terrorists' War on Us, abandoning a decadelong -- and counterproductive -- strategy of defensive reaction in favor of a vigorous offense. And we have set in motion changes to the international system that promise a safer and better world for generations to come.
This is as clear a distinction as can be drawn between some of the Republican candidates for President, and the near entirety of the Democratic Party. You either buy into this premise, or you see it as hype, distorting what should be exclusively a law enforcement problem.
Giuliani generates a very concise formulation of key foreign policy challenges:
The next U.S. president will face three key foreign policy challenges. First and foremost will be to set a course for victory in the terrorists' war on global order. The second will be to strengthen the international system that the terrorists seek to destroy. The third will be to extend the benefits of the international system in an ever-widening arc of security and stability across the globe. The most effective means for achieving these goals are building a stronger defense, developing a determined diplomacy, and expanding our economic and cultural influence. Using all three, the next president can build the foundations of a lasting, realistic peace.
From here, Giuliani builds his arguments on this logical foundation.
Achieving a realistic peace means balancing realism and idealism in our foreign policy. America is a nation that loves peace and hates war. At the core of all Americans is the belief that all human beings have certain inalienable rights that proceed from God but must be protected by the state. Americans believe that to the extent that nations recognize these rights within their own laws and customs, peace with them is achievable. To the extent that they do not, violence and disorder are much more likely. Preserving and extending American ideals must remain the goal of all U.S. policy, foreign and domestic. But unless we pursue our idealistic goals through realistic means, peace will not be achieved.
This is the fatal flaw in those who think that Diplomacy presents an end in itself. You cannot negotiate in good faith not and achieve any real results or avoid disaster with an enemy determined to achieve its objectives in disregard of what they agree to on paper or in meetings. We must remain vigilant to dishonesty and violence against our interests cloaked in a diplomatic veneer. We cannot be played for patsies evermore.
Above all, we must understand that our enemies are emboldened by signs of weakness. Radical Islamic terrorists attacked the World Trade Center in 1993, the Khobar Towers facility in Saudi Arabia in 1996, our embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998, and the U.S.S. Cole in 2000. In some instances, we responded inadequately. In others, we failed to respond at all. Our retreat from Lebanon in 1983 and from Somalia in 1993 convinced them that our will was weak.
This is the real aim of modern terror against us, to compel us to return to just this kind of passivity.
We cannot predict when our efforts will be successful. But we can predict the consequences of failure: Afghanistan would revert to being a safe haven for terrorists, and Iraq would become another one -- larger, richer, and more strategically located. Parts of Iraq would undoubtedly fall under the sway of our enemies, particularly Iran, which would use its influence to direct even more terror at U.S. interests and U.S. allies than it does today. The balance of power in the Middle East would tip further toward terror, extremism, and repression. America's influence and prestige -- not just in the Middle East but around the world -- would be dealt a shattering blow. Our allies would conclude that we cannot back up our commitments with sustained action. Our enemies -- both terrorists and rogue states -- would be emboldened. They would see further opportunities to weaken the international state system that is the primary defense of civilization. Much as our enemies in the 1990s concluded from our inconsistent response to terrorism then, our enemies today would conclude that America's will is weak and the civilization we pledged to defend is tired. Failure would be an invitation for more war, in even more difficult and dangerous circumstances.
Has someone from Vets for Freedom been talking to Rudy? These are our talking points between now and GEN Petraeus' September report to Congress.
The United States must not rest until the al Qaeda network is destroyed and its leaders, from Osama bin Laden on down, are killed or captured. And the United States must not rest until the global terrorist movement and its ideology are defeated. Much of that fight will take place in the shadows. It will be the work of intelligence operatives, paramilitary groups, and Special Operations forces. It will also require close relationships with other governments and local forces. The next U.S. president should direct our armed forces to emphasize such work, in part because local forces are best able to operate in their home countries and in part in order to reduce the strain on our own troops.
Giuliani displays a keen appreciation of the full range of US capabilities against our terrorist enemies and their state sponsors. You'll never hear this kind of discussion from Democrats. Not with any competence, anyway, as reflected in the squabbling between Senators Clinton and Obama over Obama's many recent foreign policy bumblings.
For 15 years, the de facto policy of both Republicans and Democrats has been to ask the U.S. military to do increasingly more with increasingly less. The idea of a post-Cold War "peace dividend" was a serious mistake -- the product of wishful thinking and the opposite of true realism. As a result of taking this dividend, our military is too small to meet its current commitments or shoulder the burden of any additional challenges that might arise. We must rebuild a military force that can deter aggression and meet the wide variety of present and future challenges. When America appears bogged down and unready to face aggressors, it invites conflict.
The U.S. Army needs a minimum of ten new combat brigades. It may need more, but this is an appropriate baseline increase while we reevaluate our strategies and resources. We must also take a hard look at other requirements, especially in terms of submarines, modern long-range bombers, and in-flight refueling tankers. Rebuilding will not be cheap, but it is necessary. And the benefits will outweigh the costs.
Military leaders and experts have been making this claim since the ill-informed drawdowns in the Clinton (42) years. This is the real crisis in civil-military relations, contrary to Edwards' formulation. The next U.S. president must also press ahead with building a national missile defense system. America can no longer rely on Cold War doctrines such as "mutual assured destruction" in the face of threats from hostile, unstable regimes. Nor can it ignore the possibility of nuclear blackmail. Rogue regimes that know they can threaten America, our allies, and our interests with ballistic missiles will behave more aggressively, including by increasing their support for terrorists. On the other hand, the knowledge that America and our allies could intercept and destroy incoming missiles would not only make blackmail less likely but also decrease the appeal of ballistic missile programs and so help to slow their development and proliferation.
Nice to know Giuliani is as big a fan of Reagan as Edwards.
We must preserve the gains made by the U.S.A. Patriot Act and not unrealistically limit electronic surveillance or legal interrogation. Preventing a chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear attack on our homeland must be the federal government's top priority. We must construct a technological and intelligence shield that is effective against all delivery methods.
Again, a strong stand in contrast to Democrat hysterics over the "imperial" Presidency and an "erosion" of civil liberties at home. Giuliani reads the US public spot on, recognizing that the public wants protection, and will severely punish those who protect potential terror cells against reasonable intelligence gathering and exploitation. America has been most successful as a world leader when it has used strength and diplomacy hand in hand. To achieve a realistic peace, U.S. diplomacy must be tightly linked to our other strengths: military, economic, and moral. Whom we choose to talk to is as important as what we say. Diplomacy should never be a tool that our enemies can manipulate to their advantage. Holding serious talks may be advisable even with our adversaries, but not with those bent on our destruction or those who cannot deliver on their agreements. Iran is a case in point. The Islamic Republic has been determined to attack the international system throughout its entire existence: it took U.S. diplomats hostage in 1979 and seized British sailors in 2007 and during the decades in between supported terrorism and murder. But Tehran invokes the protections of the international system when doing so suits it, hiding behind the principle of sovereignty to stave off the consequences of its actions. This is not to say that talks with Iran cannot possibly work. They could -- but only if we came to the table in a position of strength, knowing what we wanted. Giuliani knows what to make of Iran. Finally, we need to look realistically at America's relationship with the United Nations. The organization can be useful for some humanitarian and peacekeeping functions, but we should not expect much more of it. The UN has proved irrelevant to the resolution of almost every major dispute of the last 50 years. Worse, it has failed to combat terrorism and human rights abuses. It has not lived up to the great hopes that inspired its creation. Too often, it has been weak, indecisive, and outright corrupt.
Likewise, the ineffective and corrupt UN.
The next president must champion human rights and speak out when they are violated. America should continue to use its influence to bring attention to individual abuses and use a full range of inducements and pressures to try to end them. Securing the rights of men, women, and children everywhere should be a core commitment of any country that counts itself as part of the civilized world. Whether with friends, allies, or adversaries, democracy will always be an issue in our relations and part of the conversation. And so the better a country's record on good governance, human rights, and democratic development, the better its relations with the United States will be. Those countries that want our help in moving toward these ideals will have it. Note that Edwards and Giuliani point to the same ultimate goal for the US, better relations with the world. For Edwards and the Democrats, the strategy is to do whatever it takes to bring that about: the US must change. For Giuliani, the key to better relations is a common basis and acceptance of democratic norms and human rights: those who oppress and terrorize must change, or be overwhelmed. The 9/11 generation has learned from the history of the twentieth century that America must not turn a blind eye to gathering storms. We must base our trust on the actions, rather than the words, of others. And we must be on guard against overpromising and underdelivering. Above all, we have learned that evil must be confronted -- not appeased -- because only principled strength can lead to a realistic peace.
: Instalaunch from Instapundit
, thanks Glenn!UPDATE #2
: Jay Reding
graciously links here, amplifying my distinctions between Giuliani and Edwards as "hard versus soft." Exactly so. Terrorism isn't hairstyling, and foreign affairs ain't hairgel.
Labels: Iraq, politics, war on terror