April 26, 2004

Berger's Vision: The Fisking IX

Sandy Berger was commissioned by Foreign Affairs to produce a foreign policy essay for the next president from a Democrat perspective.

This is much too long to analyze in one shot, thus the numbered title, Part IX is below:

A posture of strength and resolve and a willingness to define clear terms and to impose consequences are clearly the right approach for dealing with our adversaries. But where the Bush administration has gone badly wrong is in applying its "with us or against us" philosophy to friends as well as foes. Put simply, our natural allies are much more likely to be persuaded by the power of American arguments than by the argument of American power. Democratically elected leaders -- whether in Germany, the United Kingdom, Mexico, or South Korea -- must sustain popular support for joint endeavors with the United States. When we work to convince them that the United States is using its strength for the common good, we enable them to stand with us. But when we compel them to serve our ends, we make it politically necessary, even advantageous, for them to resist us. It would have been hard to imagine a decade ago that leaders of Germany and South Korea -- two nations that owe their existence to the sacrifice of American blood -- would win elections by appealing to anti-Americanism.

The problem here is that Berger is thinking too much in terms of black and white compared to the nuanced position of the Bush administration. No, I'm not kidding and yes, you read that correctly. The a large part of the exercise of Westphalia was in reducing nuance. The complexities of a particular country were reduced to a broad unit called the state. Everybody was homogenized and restricted from interacting with the component pieces of the state. You just took whatever where the outputs of that state and dealt with the ruling government to fix any problems you had with what ever came out. The internal workings were none of your business.

In the Westphalian revisionist efforts of the Bush and Blair governments, we're opening up those units called states and finding out that a large part of why entities such as Iraq were fundamentally unfixable were because some people had long been forging non-Westphalian alliances for private gain. People in the Functioning Core who are well connected politically are taking money from dictators in the Non-Integrating Gap in order to frustrate efforts at overthrowing the tyrants and moving these societies into the Core. This is becoming public in the slow motion catastrophe that is the oil-for-food scandal.

In such a situation where your allies are riddled with traitors who are in foreign pay and the obstructionism of a friend who doesn't yet see reason is indistinguishable from the obstructionism of a paid enemy agent there has to be a period of clarification where we sort the sheep from the goats.

Berger provides no recognition of this reality on the ground and his simplistic and naive position ignoring these important realities handicaps and will continue to handicap his ability to give useful advice.

How, exactly, would a future Democrat president address our current and future Cardinal Richelieu-like plotters who wield enormous influence with governments all across the Functioning Core? How are we supposed to react the next time governments in the Core are bought off by dictators in the Gap?

Posted by TMLutas at April 26, 2004 12:38 PM