April 28, 2004

Berger's Vision: The Fisking XV

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 XV is below:

Iraq, too, will require a generational commitment by the international community. Regardless of whether the war was justified, everyone now has a profound stake in Iraq's success. The disintegration of that country along ethnic and religious fault lines would destabilize the Middle East and energize radical movements that threaten the world. A stable and democratic Iraq, on the other hand, would stimulate reform throughout the region. Attaining the latter outcome will require continuous involvement in Iraq's reconstruction and political development, as well as a proactive military posture that does not leave foreign troops hunkered down in bases and barracks, delegating security to an ill-prepared Iraqi security force. But that level of involvement will be unsustainable -- and will be considered illegitimate by ordinary Iraqis -- unless it is viewed as a truly international, rather than exclusively American, effort.

The irony is that the Bush administration's unilateralist approach has let our allies off the hook: it has given them an excuse to shirk these and other global responsibilities. A Democratic administration would not be so dismissive of our allies on the issues that matter to them. In turn, it would have authority to demand far more of them on the issues that matter to us -- whether stabilizing Iraq and Afghanistan, democratizing the Middle East, or combating the spread and potential use of WMD.

And if these allies say no thank you, they'll stay out of Iraq anyway? You end up right back where the "unilateralist" Bush administration has placed us, in a posture of selective cooptition, cooperation and competition balanced in the same relationship. They're not wholehearted allies, but not enemies either. They are self-announced strategic competitors but not competitors in raw geopolitical strength. They're ankle biters trying to draw down US strength so they don't have to climb what they feel are impossible heights to catch up with us.

Anybody can pick a pretext about which to be outraged. Kerry's support of the Sharon plan would do fine all by itself. Diplomacy is often the art of making mountains out of molehills and vice versa in the neverending pursuit of your country's permanent interests. If the French, German, and other governments who are balking now are doing so based on their permanent interests, no amount of calm soothing words will smooth their ruffled feathers. The feathers are ruffled as part of a political strategy, one that will not be denied.

Posted by TMLutas at April 28, 2004 08:40 AM