June 29, 2004

Foreign Policy Brickbats

It's pretty clear that Foreign Policy Magazine has little love for George W Bush. A recent e-mail I got from them had the following items:

Imperial Amnesia
Europe's Quiet Leap Forward
Bush's Willing Enablers
The Metrosexual Superpower
Iraq's Excluded Women
Counting Civilian Casualties

And that's just in the free (or free registration) content. All the articles downplaying US accomplishments, hyping alternatives to the US and knocking George W Bush and his administration directly.

While I could get into a point by point rebuttal of a lot of the hot air that passes for serious criticism (I'm shocked, shocked, I tell you to find turmoil in a country with an active, foreign sponsored insurgency), It would make this post far, far too long. Rather, I think that what's really eating at the FP folks (and much of the rest of the left and right establishment) is that George W Bush has upset an apple cart that is so fundamental to their entire world view that, at all costs, his decision must not be confirmed by the next president of the opposite party. I'm speaking of Bush's decision to embrace post-westphalianism as the underlying logic beneath US foreign policy in his administration.

These people are not dumb. They simply hold that countries do not declare literal war against terrorist groups. War is reserved to interactions between states and has been since the Peace of Westphalia. In fact, when an Israeli cabinet minister declared that Israel was in a war with Hamas, he was savagely attacked and the Israeli government had to repudiate the idea. Since this happened after President Bush declared that we were in a GWOT, declaring war on all terrorist groups, the lack of condemnation in the US case is telling. They know that if they try to pull that kind of direct full court press on the US they will fail, uniting the country behind the President and his strategy.

Instead, they have opted for a death by a thousand cuts. Serious people with serious resumes write protest letters. Serious magazines devote article after article showing how GWB is an awful president and ruining the world. No good news gets reported, no risks are ever judged to have paid off. Only bad news, all the time, will be fit for print until this idea is dead and buried.

Unfortunately, the establishment has no realistic answer to the question of how to stop the terrorists without the framework of war. They would just prefer to keep the insecurity and dying to a sustainable level and value stability over problem resolution. In short, they are morally bankrupt and float in a sea of innocent victim's blood. They are the collective authors of the nasty bargains we have made to keep corrupt autocrats in power all over the world.

There was a time when such a bargain, compared to nuclear annihilation, seemed the lesser of two evils. In todays world, it is the greater of evils and must be named, shamed, and put aside as unworthy of our consideration.

The task of reforming the international system to unwind all the corrupt bargains of the past is huge. It can't be done all at once successfully. In fact, the terrorists' only hope of victory is for the US and allies to take on more than they can chew at once and strike in the zones of weakness that will inevitably form.

This struggle is the great challenge of our generation. And you won't hear about it for quite awhile on the evening news. They, after all, are not observers in the struggle, but participants.

Like Eisenhower confirmed FDR's New Deal, Nixon confirmed LBJ's Great Society, and Clinton confirmed Reagan's vision of America, GWB's foreign and domestic policy must not only succeed, but succeed in such a way that the next President from the opposing party will leave the heart of it untouched. There are two ways to avoid this. You can have an alternative intellectual framework to offer and implement when elected, and you can make the achievements of the policy so disreputable that agenda-less drift in wartime is preferable. It is that latter alternative that is what FP and all of the EU ankle biters are after.

Posted by TMLutas at June 29, 2004 10:04 AM