August 15, 2004

Daniel Drezner Presents a Specious Reason to Vote for George W. Bush

Matthew Yglesias quotes Daniel Drezner writing:

matthew: Drezner's Dilemma: Reading the interview [with Rand Beers], I was disappointed to see zero, zip, nada on democracy promotion. In fact, what was striking about the interview was the general lack of bigthink. On the other hand, there was a great deal of explication about the Kerry team's policy process -- pretty impressive for a campaign. This leads to an disturbing question. Which is better: a foreign policy with a clearly articulated grand strategy but a f#$%ed-up policy process, or a foreign policy with no articulated grand strategy but a superior policy process?

The implication is that George W. Bush has a clearly articulated grand strategy (but a "f#$%ed-up policy process"), and that his possession of a clearly articulated grand strategy is a reason to vote for him in November.

What is this "clearly articulated grand strategy" supposed to be? Drezner approves of an attempt to analyze Bush's "grand strategy" by John Lewis Gaddis. According to Gaddis, the Bush "grand strategy" has five components:

  • Preemption: the U.S. must take action to preempt and destroy asymmetric threats to its citizens.
  • Unilateralism: the U.S.'s actions must not be constrained by the requirement of seeking the consent or agreement of allies.
  • Hegemony: the U.S. must have and keep enough military power to decisively defeat any other combination of powers anywhere on the globe.
  • Democratization: The three components above will be used to democratize the world: the U.S. will use its military hegemony to undertake unilateral, preemptive actions to destroy threats and establish democracies--for "poverty wasn't what caused a group of middle-class and reasonably well-educated Middle Easterners to fly three airplanes into buildings and another into the ground. It was, rather, resentments growing out of the absence of representative institutions in their own societies, so that the only outlet for political dissidence was religious fanaticism."
  • Demonstration: Swift victories over the Taliban in Afghanistan and over Saddam Hussein in Iraq using only a fraction of America's strength (and followup attacks on other challengers... Syria? Iran? North Korea?) will demonstrate America's power and resolve, and convince other countries that they need to cooperate with and submit to American hegemony.

Now Daniel Drezner (and John Lewis Gaddis, perhaps) may think that having this "clearly articulated grand strategy" is a worthwhile and positive thing, but I do not. It's an incoherent mess. It makes about as much sense as relying on the giant alien space bats from beyond to guard our national security. Even had it been "well-implemented," it would be highly likely to have been a disaster.

To "demonstrate" that you can "preempt" threats that are not there is a strategy for national insecurity. To throw away your alliances is to make hegemony impossible: the U.S. cannot exercise durable hegemony over even Iraq without reliable allies to provide 200,000 Arabic-speaking military police; where are they? And "democratization" is not a magic bullet: our last attempt to "democratize" a Middle Eastern country--to rely on representative institutions to curb religious fanaticism--in the late 1970s in Iran did not turn out well.

That it was implemented by incompetents is not the only problem with Bush administration foreign policy. To pretend that it is does not raise the level of the foreign policy debate at all.

A Grand Strategy Of Transformation: foreignpolicy.com | December 1, 2002 | John Lewis Gaddis

...George W. Bush's report on "The National Security Strategy of the United States of America"... sets three tasks: "We will defend the peace by fighting terrorists and tyrants. We will preserve the peace by building good relations among the great powers. We will extend the peace by encouraging free and open societies on every continent."... The Bush objectives speak of defending, preserving, and extending peace; the Clinton statement seems simply to assume peace. Bush calls for cooperation among great powers; Clinton never uses that term. Bush specifies the encouragement of free and open societies on every continent; Clinton contents himself with "promoting" democracy and human rights "abroad." Even in these first few lines, then, the Bush NSS comes across as more forceful, more carefully crafted, and—unexpectedly—more multilateral than its immediate predecessor. It's a tip-off that there're interesting things going on here.

The first major innovation is Bush's equation of terrorists with tyrants as sources of dange... "shadowy networks of individuals can bring great chaos and suffering to our shores for less than it costs to purchase a single tank." The strategies that won the Cold War—containment and deterrence—won't work against such dangers, because those strategies assumed the existence of identifiable regimes led by identifiable leaders operating by identifiable means from identifiable territories. How, though, do you contain a shadow? How do you deter someone who's prepared to commit suicide?...

[P]reemption must be added to—though not necessarily in all situations replace—the tasks of containment and deterrence: "We cannot let our enemies strike first."... [And] "we will not hesitate to act alone, if necessary, to exercise our right of self-defense by acting preemptively against such terrorists, to prevent them from doing harm against our people and our country." Preemption in turn requires hegemony.... The West Point speech put it more bluntly: "America has, and intends to keep, military strengths beyond challenge." The president has at last approved, therefore, Paul Wolfowitz's controversial recommendation to this effect, made in a 1992 "Defense Planning Guidance" draft subsequently leaked to the press and then disavowed by the first Bush administration. It's no accident that Wolfowitz, as deputy secretary of defense, has been at the center of the new Bush administration's strategic planning.

How, though, will the rest of the world respond to American hegemony? That gets us to another innovation in the Bush strategy, which is its emphasis on cooperation among the great powers.... The final innovation in the Bush strategy deals with the longer-term issue of removing the causes of terrorism and tyranny. Here, again, the president's thinking parallels an emerging consensus within the academic community. For it's becoming clear now that poverty wasn't what caused a group of middle-class and reasonably well-educated Middle Easterners to fly three airplanes into buildings and another into the ground. It was, rather, resentments growing out of the absence of representative institutions in their own societies, so that the only outlet for political dissidence was religious fanaticism. Hence, Bush insists, the ultimate goal of U.S. strategy must be to spread democracy everywhere. The United States must finish the job that Woodrow Wilson started. The world, quite literally, must be made safe for democracy, even those parts of it, like the Middle East, that have so far resisted that tendency....

There are, however, some things that you won't hear or read, probably by design. The Bush NSS has, if not a hidden agenda, then at least one the administration isn't advertising. It has to do with why the administration regards tyrants, in the post-September 11 world, as at least as dangerous as terrorists.... Why, having buried the "axis of evil," is Bush still so keen on burying Saddam Hussein?... [T]he psychological value of victory—of defeating an adversary sufficiently thoroughly that you shatter the confidence of others, so that they'll roll over themselves before you have to roll over them. For Henry, the demonstration was Agincourt, the famous victory over the French in 1415.... How, though, to maintain the momentum, given that the Taliban is no more and that al Qaeda isn't likely to present itself as a conspicuous target? This, I think, is where Saddam Hussein comes in: Iraq is the most feasible place where we can strike the next blow. If we can topple this tyrant, if we can repeat the Afghan Agincourt on the banks of the Euphrates, then we can accomplish a great deal. We can complete the task the Gulf War left unfinished. We can destroy whatever weapons of mass destruction Saddam Hussein may have accumulated since. We can end whatever support he's providing for terrorists elsewhere, notably those who act against Israel. We can liberate the Iraqi people. We can ensure an ample supply of inexpensive oil. We can set in motion a process that could undermine and ultimately remove reactionary regimes elsewhere in the Middle East, thereby eliminating the principal breeding ground for terrorism....

If I'm right about this, then it's a truly grand strategy. What appears at first glance to be a lack of clarity about who's deterrable and who's not turns out, upon closer examination, to be a plan for transforming the entire Muslim Middle East: for bringing it, once and for all, into the modern world. There's been nothing like this in boldness, sweep, and vision since Americans took it upon themselves, more than half a century ago, to democratize Germany and Japan, thus setting in motion processes that stopped short of only a few places on earth, one of which was the Muslim Middle East....

Critics as unaccustomed to agreeing with one another as Brent Scowcroft and Al Gore have warned against diversion from the war on terrorism if the United States takes on Saddam Hussein. The principle involved here—deal with one enemy at a time—is a sound one. But plenty of successful strategies have violated it.... The Bush administration sees its war against terrorists and tyrants in much the same way. The problem is not that Saddam Hussein is actively supporting al Qaeda, however much the Bush team would like to prove that. It's rather that authoritarian regimes throughout the Middle East support terrorism indirectly by continuing to produce generations of underemployed, unrepresented, and therefore radicalizable young people from whom Osama bin Laden and others like him draw their recruits....

The Bush team assumes we'll have the moral high ground, and hence multilateral support, if we're cheered and not shot at when we go into Baghdad and other similar places. No doubt they're right about that. They're seeking U.N. authorization for such a move and may well get it. Certainly, they'll have the consent of the U.S. Congress. For there lies behind their strategy an incontestable moral claim: that in some situations preemption is preferable to doing nothing. Who would not have preempted Hitler or Milosevic or Mohammed Atta, if given the chance?

Will Iraq seem such a situation, though, if we're not cheered in Baghdad? Can we count on multilateral support if things go badly? Here the Bush administration has not been thinking ahead. It's been dividing its own moral multipliers through its tendency to behave, on an array of multilateral issues ranging from the Kyoto Protocol to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty to the International Criminal Court, like a sullen, pouting, oblivious, and overmuscled teenager. As a result, it's depleted the reservoir of support from allies it ought to have in place before embarking on such a high-risk strategy.

There are, to be sure, valid objections to these and other initiatives the administration doesn't like. But it's made too few efforts to use diplomacy—by which I mean tact—to express these complaints. Nor has it tried to change a domestic political culture that too often relishes having the United States stand defiantly alone. The Truman administration understood that the success of containment abroad required countering isolationism at home. The Bush administration hasn't yet made that connection between domestic politics and grand strategy. That's its biggest failure of leadership so far....

Posted by DeLong at August 15, 2004 07:15 AM | TrackBack | | Other weblogs commenting on this post
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What we need is a new global strategy. By Fareed Zakaria

http://fareedzakaria.com/articles/newsweek/080204.html

...what the 9/11 Commission report really does is take us back to basics, back to 9/12. The United States was attacked brutally by a new enemy, militant Islamic terror. How should we handle this threat? The commission puts forward a series of ideas and approaches in the first of two chapters of recommendations. This chapter ("What to Do?") precedes the one on organizational changes ("How to Do It"), which only makes sense. What the commission suggests doing is important, persuasive and a substantial departure from current policy.

The conclusion takes on the central organizing idea of the post-9/11 strategy--that we are at war--and is deeply skeptical of it. The report notes that the use of the metaphor of a war accurately describes the effort to kill terrorists in the field, as in Afghanistan. It also properly evokes the need for large-scale mobilization. But the report points out that after Afghanistan, the scope for military action is quite limited. "Long-term success," it concludes, "demands the use of all elements of national power: diplomacy, intelligence, covert action, law enforcement, economic policy, foreign aid, public diplomacy, and homeland defense." Even when it speaks of preventive action it suggests "a preventive strategy that is as much, or more, political as it is military."

The report describes the struggle as "more than a war," but what the conclusions make plain is that it really means that it is different from war. Of the 27 recommendations in this chapter, only one can be seen as advocating the use of military force: attacking "terrorists and their organizations." And even that one, on closer inspection, is more complicated. The sanctuaries identified are in places like Pakistan, Thailand, and Nigeria and in Central and Eastern European cities with lax border controls. What are we to do, invade these countries? The only way that we will apprehend or kill suspected terrorists and disrupt their organizations is by cooperating with these governments.

It is increasingly clear that the conflict in Afghanistan falsely fed the idea that the war against terrorism was a real war. In fact, Afghanistan was an exception. The reality of this threat, the very reason it is so difficult to tackle, is precisely that it cannot be addressed by conventional military means. Yet the prism of war has distorted the vision of important segments of Washington, especially within the Bush administration. This has produced bad strategy. The Yale historian John Lewis Gaddis has written on the Bush administration's strategy and describes its three pillars as hegemony, preemption and unilateralism. All three approaches seem justifiable if you believe that we are in a war that can be won militarily. All are counterproductive in a struggle that seeks to modernize alien societies, win over Muslim moderates and sustain cooperation on intelligence and law enforcement across the world.

The issue of Iraq highlighted these choices. If you believed that this was truly a war, all that mattered was defeating the enemy. If you believed that a broader political struggle was key, then creating a new and modern Iraq was in many ways more important than defeating Saddam Hussein. The administration showed its colors with a brilliant war plan and no postwar planning. Even in Afghanistan, where the war succeeded and the postwar settlement is working (though fragile), the administration's superhawks (such as Donald Rumsfeld) were continually opposed to greater efforts at nation-building. It doesn't help the war on terror, they argued. But it does help the struggle against Islamic extremism. And there is no war on terror that is not fundamentally an ideological struggle.

Posted by: glory on August 15, 2004 07:55 AM

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"..It's an incoherent mess. It makes about as much sense as relying on the giant alien space bats from beyond to guard our national security.."
Well put. Brad is getting very good at this blogging thing.

Posted by: zzi on August 15, 2004 08:37 AM

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I am unconvinced the administration ever had a strategy at all. Almost every element listed by Gaddis as a strategic component might also simply be the result of convenience and last minute excuses. Perhaps there was only one real element: invade Iraq. "Preemption" and "Unilateralism" were obviously the only way to get it done. "Hegemony" has been in place as policy over over half a century and is the very life-blood of the Military Industrial Complex. Nothing new here. "Democratization" only made the list after "WMD" and "Terrorism" were stillborn post invasion. "Demonstration" is simply laughable. Just what the hell have we demonstrated to the world, both potential allies and advisaries, over the past several years of stumbling around in Iraq? Certainly nothing that has made any of us more secure or free. Assigning "strategic vision" to this asshat bunch is grasping at straws in the shadow of a looming November 2nd...

Posted by: jim in austin on August 15, 2004 08:42 AM

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Gaddis' piece was published December 1, 2002. Curious that Drezner is reaching back this far for academic validation of sorts.

Posted by: trevelyan on August 15, 2004 08:57 AM

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Gaddis says: How, though, will the rest of the world respond to American hegemony? That gets us to another innovation in the Bush strategy, which is its emphasis on cooperation among the great powers....

Isn't there some kind of silliness in the comparison between American hegemony and cooperation among great powers?

Gaddis says: [T]he psychological value of victory—of defeating an adversary sufficiently thoroughly that you shatter the confidence of others, so that they'll roll over themselves before you have to roll over them.

So, removing Saddam Hussein will cause bin Laden to kill himself in despair, causing the destruction of jihadist terrorism?

Gaddis says: What appears at first glance to be a lack of clarity about who's deterrable and who's not turns out, upon closer examination, to be a plan for transforming the entire Muslim Middle East: for bringing it, once and for all, into the modern world.
So, blowing a nation to kingdom come will bring it into the modern world?

Gaddis says: There are, to be sure, valid objections to these and other initiatives the administration doesn't like. But it's made too few efforts to use diplomacy—by which I mean tact—to express these complaints.

Gaddis is a wuss: suggesting sensitivity in this time of mortal combat.

Who are these people? Do they ever compare their written words with the real world in front of their eyes?

Posted by: masaccio on August 15, 2004 09:46 AM

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This part is just plain nuts:

Hegemony: the U.S. must have and keep enough military power to decisively defeat any other combination of powers anywhere on the globe.

The US has about 5% of the world's population. A minority of that size can maybe hold onto a hegemony if it's matching automatic weapons against spears and bows. Even then, it gets ugly.

As I understand it, the "clearly articulated" goal would be to out-match any possible alliance of nations no matter how unlikely. Although I think US military spending may actually exceed the total of all other industrialized nations, it's hard to imagine winning a war against them all at the same time.

The reason we don't usually worry about this happening is that most of them are reliable allies who benefit more from peaceful relations and trade. But if I understand the hegemony plank, that's "girly man" reasoning, and in fact we ought to bankrupt ourselves so we don't have to depend on their good will for our survival. I can think of numerous flaws in this view, but one big one is the implicit assumption that the rest of the world's level of militarization will stay constant in the presence of a clearly articulated policy by the US of attaining this kind of hegemony.

I often wonder if neocon's love of grand strategy includes playing strategy games like Civilization. Even these games usually require more subtlety evinced in their arguments. On the other hand, I can sort of picture some of them getting good at strategic games and mistaking it for reality.

Posted by: Paul Callahan on August 15, 2004 10:00 AM

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Doesn't it matter which planet the space bats come from?

Posted by: bobcox on August 15, 2004 10:15 AM

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Brad, unfortunately you are missing the IMPORTANT point here.

The Bush administration has discovered something truly amazing. It does not matter in the slightest what you do, or what the consequences are, as long as you mouth the right words. They can get away with this because the media in the US believe that there job consists only of reporting what people said, with no attention paid to issues like consequences or context; and because the US is (for now) sufficiently well insulated from the rest of the world that it can get away with living in its own reality.

Until these two pathologies are changed, focussing on individual items is simply a distraction. You're better off trying to figure out exactly how the US is going to get hurt when reality eventually catches up, and how to protect yourself and your loved ones.

Posted by: Maynard Handley on August 15, 2004 10:24 AM

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It's grand. It's clearly articulated. It's also complete shite.

Posted by: ogmb on August 15, 2004 10:55 AM

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First, Bush clearly has a grand plan that makes quite a bit of sense. It goes back to the 90s, and can be read about here:

http://www.fpif.org/papers/foretold_body.html

Kerry's plan is to announce that he'll withdraw all our forces in six months. Smart. Really smart, John. That shows he's stuck in the same place he was in 1971. Which history shows was the wrong place.

Posted by: Patrick R. Sullivan on August 15, 2004 11:14 AM

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Bush doesn't really have a 'grand strategy', he has a grand goal.

But he doesn't actually know how to get there. Oh, he can tell you a 'plan', but there's no real connection between the plan and reality.

He's like the conquistadores wandering around looking for cities of gold. They had plans too. Maybe even maps and guides. Maybe a native named Xalabi promised to lead them, so long as he was named ruler of the conquered country.

Posted by: Jon H on August 15, 2004 11:34 AM

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"First, Bush clearly has a grand plan that makes quite a bit of sense. "

Bush is an underpants gnome. He wouldn't know a sensible plan if it bit him on the ass, and he wouldn't be able to execute one if he did.

Gnome 1: Collecting underpants is just phase one. Phase one: collect underpants.
Kyle: So what's phase two?
[Silence]
Gnome 1: Hey, what's phase two?!
Gnome 2: Phase one: we collect underpants.
Gnome 1: Ya, ya, ya. But what about phase two?
[Silence]
Gnome 2: Well, phase three is profit. Get it?
Stan: I don't get it.
Gnome 2: (Goes over to a chart on the wall) You see, Phase one: collect underpants, phase two-
[Silence]
Gnome 2: Phase three: profit.
Cartman: Oh I get it.
Stan: No you don't.
Kyle: Do you guys know anything about corporations?
Gnome 2: You bet we do.
Gnome 1: Us gnomes are geniuses at corporations.

Posted by: Jon H on August 15, 2004 11:40 AM

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** But he doesn't actually know how to get there. Oh, he can tell you a 'plan', but there's no real connection between the plan and reality.

What if his [unstated] plan was to enrich his cronies in the oil/gas and defense industries? (Now throw in the elimination of the inheritance tax for good measure)

If that's his plan how does it stand up to the reality on the ground? Not bad I'd say. Hard to imagine it going any better for them, really.

Posted by: Thumb on August 15, 2004 11:49 AM

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From Patrick Sullivan's link.

>America’s new National Security Strategy report is a succinct presentation of a strategy of military dominance that rejects the policies of deterrence, containment, and collective security.

OK, I'll bite. What's wrong with deterrence, containment, and collective security? Were these discredited and nobody told me? That's how the Soviet Union was ultimately brought to its knees, and how Saddam was prevented from threatening his neighbors for 12 years until Bush jumped the gun.

The fact that the Cold War did not lead to a single nuclear weapon used in a hostile act convinces me that these were amazingly effective and mature strategies. I won't say that they were humanitarian in any way, or that they encouraged democracy, but I believe that rejecting them would lead to a total disaster.

As much as neocons frighten me, it's not because I have a pollyanna view of the world. It's probably because I'm a pessismist. I see the only realistic goal of post-WWII military policy as figuring out how to keep the world from blasting itself back into the stone age until we manage to free humans from the confines of the planet and spread out enough that we can't all be wiped out in one war.

Deterrence, etc., which you implicit deride (by saying the position that rejects them is logical) are as far as I can tell about the only empirically tested method for at least delaying the total destruction of the human race.

Posted by: Paul Callahan on August 15, 2004 11:51 AM

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Beers’ interview is good. Gaddis’ final thoughts are sobering, especially from a year and a half ago, published when the invasion was imminent. His first paragraphs appear to misunderstand why our enemy is fighting us, however--a fatal mistake. The idea that democracy alone will fix it, for now, is a little ridiculous. It would be very nice if all the boneheads who enjoy our democracy would actually learn the preliminaries of its formation. And of course, nobody else in the world doubts that America SAYS it is for democracy, they’ve heard all about it; and everybody knows that democracy is REALLY furthered by talking to other people. Drezner’s question is misleading, because a superior policy process can lead to a better grand strategy than we’ve got. We live in a fascinating and exciting time, to see how a democratic system responds to such a new kind of force-threat. Framing that process as “talking to our allies” is a very good start, but of course it’s going to go much much further. I doubt whether we are going to see drifting at all, as Yglesias fears. I think a winning strategy is absolutely possible (and indeed the outlines are becoming quite clear), although it’s going to take a dimension of cultural psychology, and patience, along with a fine-tuned military strategy, beyond the comprehension of Bush and Cheney, for whom mere “democracy promotion” is indeed “bigthink”.

Posted by: Lee A. on August 15, 2004 11:59 AM

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A strategy, let alone a grand strategy, is more than wishful thinking. That's what Bush's foreign "policy" is. "We'll take out Saddam and scare people with our power and democracy will flower and the Arabs will lie down with the Israelis" is a fairy tale, not a strategy.

A strategy consists of a realizable objective along with a cause-and-effect method for achieving it. Bush and his neocons have failed to articulate the cause and effect method, and so don't even have a strategy to begin with. It's more like a child's magical thinking: "Saddam dead" = "flowering democracy."

In fact, the neocons are obsessed with magical thinking. At first it was "destroy the Soviet Union and Israel will be safe." That obviously didn't happen. So the next magical incantation was "destroy Saddam and Israel will be safe." Well, that's not happening either. But I'm sure they'll pull another rabbit out of their hat.

Posted by: Alan S on August 15, 2004 12:17 PM

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One has to wonder if that's also part of the grand strategy:

"WASHINGTON - Increasing numbers of National Guard and Reserve troops who have returned from war in Iraq and Afghanistan are encountering new battles with their civilian employers at home. Jobs were eliminated, benefits reduced and promotions forgotten."

http://tinyurl.com/4ooso

Posted by: ogmb on August 15, 2004 01:29 PM

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"The fact that the Cold War did not lead to a single nuclear weapon used in a hostile act convinces me that these were amazingly effective and mature strategies."

The Cold War was "fought" between two players of roughly equal capabilities and interests. Mutually assured destruction is a creditable threat if those in power are interested foremost in the perks that accrue from operating a sizeable country. That is, being General Secretary of the Soviet Union is a much better job when the country is intact.

In large part, militant Islam is not the same type of opponent and is not playing the same game. Suppose terrorists acquire five nuclear weapons and detonate them in the harbors of Long Beach, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland and Seattle (given possesion of the weapons, getting them as far as the harbors seems like a straightforward task). Against whom do you retaliate? Iran? North Korea? Saudi Arabia? If you flatten Iran, have you made the terrorists worse off? If you occupy North Korea, how long can you afford to stay? Can you "contain" Saudi Arabia?

Posted by: Michael Cain on August 15, 2004 01:32 PM

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"destroy Saddam and Israel will be safe."
"destroy Iran and Israel will be safe."
"destroy Syria and ......

Wasn't GW's grand strategy summed up in his now famous quote;
"f--k saddam, we're taking him out."

Posted by: ed on August 15, 2004 01:58 PM

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> In large part, militant Islam is not the same type of opponent and is not playing the same game.

I didn't mean to suggest otherwise. But containment and deterrence do work sometimes and should not be scrapped when they're effective. Saddam Hussein was susceptible to this strategy for exactly the reasons you cite. If the neocon argument was merely that the Cold War approach won't work against militant Islam, I would agree whole-heartedly. But actually, they developed their strategy long before 9/11 and weren't focused on non-state-supported terrorist networks such as al Qaeda. Quite the opposite. Wolfowitz saw a state (Iraq in particular) behind every act of terrorism including the Oklahoma City bombing. And the other half of the neocon strategy is Cold War style escalation on steroids--such as missile defense. This was traditionally rejected not only because of technological implausibility but because it interfered with mutually assured destruction, the cornerstone of deterrence. They wanted this during the Cold War, which would have changed doctrine, and now want it after the Cold War even though most of those threatening the US won't be doing it with missiles anyway.

Posted by: Paul Callahan on August 15, 2004 02:12 PM

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I've spent the past fortnight reading and sifting through dozens of Neocon institutional websites in the process of tracking out the Vast Plutocratic Conspiracy that is behind the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy, and bigods but that synopsi by Gaddis sounds like he's been visiting the same sites I have - PNAC, Eagle, AEI, CSP, EPP, and the rest. Yes, that is their idea of a Grand Unified Foreign Policy.

Which is why I say Giblets is the personified collective Id of the Right. Fearful of everyone else's "disturbing non-Gibletsness," the Neocons have to pre-emptively defend themselves before they themselves are eaten, as they imagine the immediate consequence of relaxing their "eternal vigilance" will be.

BOW BEFORE BUSHCO!!! BOWWWW!!! You there, HOW COME YOU'RE NOT BOWING? GUARDS, SEIZE HIM!!!

Posted by: bellatrys on August 15, 2004 02:57 PM

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Mr. DeLong,
As you may or may not be aware, our diplomatic relations with the space bats have been strained due to concerns over environmental policy implications and its effects on their related terran species (chiroptera). However, the president, pentagon, NSA and its advisors are working hard to ensure the support of the Giant Alien Space Bats as the primary defense in our national security policy.

Posted by: Condelezza on August 15, 2004 03:02 PM

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"Democracy," btw, in the language of PNAC et al (aka "Newspeak") means "friendly to US business interests." That's why the Endowment For Democracy was funnelling Scaife-Bradley-Olin-Coors-etc money to try to recall/oust Hugo Chavez.

Rev. Neuhaus, Michael Novak, and Rev. Sirico have also spent a lot of Scaife-Bradley-Olin-etc money on explaining why and how Democracy in Central America means friendly to US business interests, and why it's compatible with the Gospels regardless of what JPII says.

See also Hawai'i, bringing democracy to.

Posted by: bellatrys on August 15, 2004 03:06 PM

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[picked up by SETI]

Eeee eeeeee, ee eeeeee eeee eeeeee. Eeeeee eee eeee, eee eeeee eee eeeeeeeeee eeee Cheeeeee!

[translation]

Don't worry, my people love me. They'll support you, as sure as my name is [untranslatable alien space bat proper name]!

Posted by: bellatrys on August 15, 2004 03:10 PM

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It may be true that in the late 70s, the US tried to put the Shah's white dictatorship on a route to democracy. But it should be recalled that in 1953 Iran WAS a democracy, and that its elected government was overthrown by a highly successful CIA operation. The Shah was installed in power by the United States.
Far from benignly intending to bring democracy to Iran, in 1953 the United States heedlessly destroyed it.

Posted by: Distressedtosayi on August 15, 2004 03:49 PM

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Professor,

You know very well that the prime objective is not to democratize a ME nation. Democratize is the best case scenario, all things being equal. Our objective is to have a govt who's policies are more or less aligned with our own and who provides a platform for greater American authority in the region (military bases). In Iraq, we have that. Prof Drezner is right, the Democrats don't have a distinctive foreign policy because the Democrats share the same views on Iraq. The only distinction is political in that the Dems have to appease their lefty constituents; other than that, hardly a difference and thus, Dems struggle to create a distinction. If Clinton was President, we would be in Iraq. If Gore was President, we would be in Iraq. If Kerry was President in 2000, we would be in Iraq. For policy makers, its much better to not have that lefty base to continually appease politically. Its a waste of political capital and can become costly if America were to stray away from the right policy now that we are there.

Bottom line is that regime change in Iraq was an American foreign economic policy objective. Not a neo-con, not a Republican, but an American policy. The Democratic leadership will fail to create a distinction because none exists.

Posted by: Jas on August 15, 2004 04:48 PM

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This grand "kick ass and take names" strategy is designed to what? Keep us safe, powerful, and intimidating? So, it is a strategy for the Defense Dept. Where the hell are the grand strategies for the other depts? Where is the HHS grand strategy that will keep the US powerful in the sciences? Where is the Energy Dept. strategy that will ween us from foreign oil, and promote new technologies? Where is the Dept of Ed grand strategy that will ensure that US higher ed continues to be the top choice for most of the great minds of the world?

Posted by: rolf on August 15, 2004 04:52 PM

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I agree with jim in Austin as stated more succinctly by ed and less succinctly by me in a long rambling post at my url.

I am struck that the most Patrick Sullivan is willing to say is that Bush's alleged strategy "makes quite a bit of sense." This is not good news for Bush.

Instead of defending Bush Sullivan tells a flat out lie about Kerry changing Kerry's stated *hope* that he could *begin* to withdraw troops within six months into "Kerry's plan is to announce that he'll withdraw all our forces in six months."

"Smart. Really smart," Patrick. You are posting on the web. You will only convince us that you as stupid as you are dishonest by posting lies which can be disproven with a google search.

Given Mr Sullivan's relationship with reality I am not sure if this "That shows he's stuck in the same place he was in 1971. Which history shows was the wrong place" means that Kerry was wrong to propose the US withdraw from Vietnam, since history has shown that the US achieved victory with moderate losses after Kerry proposed withdrawing or because history showed that defeat in Vietnam lead to a worse war later as the dominoes fell.

I'd say history shows that when we followed Kerry's advice two years and many lives later, it became clear that those two years and many lives had be totally completely wasted.


s might be able He also asserts that history shows that the proposal to leave Vietnam in 1971 was a mistake.

Given Mr Sullivan's relationship with

Posted by: Robert Waldmann on August 15, 2004 05:56 PM

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Paul wrote:
" OK, I'll bite. What's wrong with deterrence, containment, and collective security? Were these discredited and nobody told me? That's how the Soviet Union was ultimately brought to its knees, and how Saddam was prevented from threatening his neighbors for 12 years..."

Deterrence and Containment worked because the USSR threatened all of the other major powers and it was in their self-interest to cooperate with the United States.

Absent that type of threat our allies are naturally following their own interests to a much greater degree while loudly insisting that United states continue to subordinate *our* interests to theirs as if the Cold war was still on. Bush is reviled because he is not buying in to such a ridiculously one-sided equation while being pretty arrogant, rubbing their faces in their own impotence.

The Europeans, Japanese, South Koreans do not view Islamist terror as fundamentally *their* problem. Their problem is finding a way to rein in the unbalancing power of the United States without forfeiting that kind of support and power when *they* need it. A tough balancing act but that is the best outcome for them though not for us.

Therefore, the fact that non-state actors are usurping the Westphalian sovereign prerogative of nation-states to wage war and this requires an effective response that IL allows when dealing with outlaws is a subject they and transnationalist progressive NGO's wish to wave away.

From this comes the demand to hold the U.S. accountable as if al Qaida were a state that was adhering to the Geneva Convention. It's a crock, intellectually and morally and they know it but the most effective restraints are those we accept ourselves. It's a position that finds great traction among Americans who already view American power as morally suspect.

So, yes, things are different than during the Cold War but some things never change.

Posted by: mark safranski on August 15, 2004 06:00 PM

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The problem is, we hate democracies, really. We hate it when other countries exercise their freedoms and do things like tell us no, you can't just take what you want, you have to pay us fair market value so that we can have a decent standard of living.

At that point we send in the Marines, or else hired goons, or maybe the CIA in disguise as locals, and overthrow them and put in a Generalissimo or three to take our orders and our payoffs as they keep the rest of their people in serfdom.

We've been doing it for over a hundred years - why stop now?

Posted by: bellatrys on August 15, 2004 06:43 PM

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sorry for poor editing. On a lighter note I think the headline for MY should have been
D to the D^6 (D to the sixth)
Daniel Drezner's Dilemma Delights Daniel Davies
who asked

can anyone, particularly the rather more Bush-friendly recent arrivals to the board, give me one single example of something with the following three characteristics:
1) It is a policy initiative of the current Bush administration
2) It was significant enough in scale that I'd have heard of it (at a pinch, that I should have heard of it)
3) It wasn't in some important way completely fucked up during the execution.

and answer came there none.

http://d-squareddigest.blogspot.com/2003_02_23_d-squareddigest_archive.html#89796111

actually I personally think that I have won the D-squared contest !!! Bush's manned mission to Mars has not been totally fucked up in the execution !!!!!

What's the prize ?

Posted by: Robert Waldmann on August 15, 2004 07:24 PM

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3 easy steps to democracy for Iraq:
1. Appoint an ex-secret service guy as prime minister.
2. Let him reinstate the death penalty.
3. Let him close the most popular Arab languague media outlet's bureau in the country.

Makes all sense, right? And, of course, never forget to try as hard as you can to win the hearts and minds of the people!

Posted by: jx on August 15, 2004 08:17 PM

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I'm semi-retired, but --

except for "democratization", which is a fantasy (except insofar as it means "installation of pro-American governments"), these points all would have been endorsed by Hitler if he had had enough power. It adds up to American imperialist world domination, period, and basically puts the American military above all questioning without need of justification. In this formulation, "They seemed like they might be a probblem sometime" is an adequate causus belli.

Posted by: zizka / John Emerson on August 15, 2004 08:41 PM

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> Instead of defending Bush Sullivan tells a flat out lie about Kerry changing Kerry's stated *hope* that he could *begin* to withdraw troops within six months into "Kerry's plan is to announce that he'll withdraw all our forces in six months."

> "Smart. Really smart," Patrick. You are posting on the web. You will only convince us that you as stupid as you are dishonest by posting lies which can be disproven with a google search.

And a google search will reveal that Mr. Sullivan has told many such lies. That would make him, well, a liar.

Posted by: clear thinker on August 15, 2004 08:42 PM

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> Bush's manned mission to Mars has not been totally fucked up in the execution !!!!!

I think the attempt to kill Hubble under the guise of refocusing NASA counts as a major publicly known fuckup, and there are numerous others along the same lines but not so well exposed. Basically, the Mars initiative is to science what Clear Skies is to environmentalism and Leave No Child Behind is to education.

Posted by: clear thinker on August 15, 2004 08:52 PM

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The problem is that the "grand strategy" was never gamed to assess the reactions it would provoke in the rest of the world. The first three elements--preemption, unilateralism, and hegemony--were bound to provoke considerable reaction among enemies and allies alike, and this was altogether ignored. This is why the "strategy" looks like an incoherent mess: it is a collection of ideas that was never tested and doesn't add up to anything useful. But let's remember: this is an Administration that is skeptical about the value of scrutiny and thoughtful analysis: reflection is not macho enough.

Early clues that the Administration was headed in a weird direction were provided when the DoD started obsessing over "compellence" and ignoring deterrence. It's equally strange that the DoD so easily abandoned containment--which might have served them well in the case of Iraq. Maybe this is what happens when you give people like Rummy, Wolfowitz, and Cambone too big a portfolio, and your national security adviser isn't the forceful arbiter she's cracked up to be.

Posted by: Jim Harris on August 16, 2004 05:12 AM

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"I'd say history shows that when we followed Kerry's advice two years and many lives later, it became clear that those two years and many lives had be totally completely wasted."

Speaking of having a shaky grip on reality, Kerry laid out his plan for Vietnam very clearly on the Dick Cavett show in the summer of 1971. It was essentially immediate and unconditional surrender to the Communists. At the time Nixon's Vietnamization had already reduced American troop levels from over 500,000 to about 220,000, and casualties were dropping from 14,500 in 1968 (LBJ's last year)to 4200 the year the Cavett debate took place. Smart, really smart, John.

What is notable about that debate in light of 33 years of hindsight, is that Kerry was wrong about every substantive point raised (and John O'Neill was correct).

1. Kerry argued that Vietnamization was a failure, because Nortb Vietnam was defeating the South's troops on the battlefield. Yet, in the very next year the North invaded with a quarter million troops, and was decisively defeated by a combination of South Vietnam's forces and American airpower. General Giap was relieved of command, and in January 1973 the peace treaty was signed.

2. Kerry argued that the Vietnamization strategy wouldn't result in the return of our POWs. He was wrong (and O'Neill was right).

3. Kerry argued we shouldn't expect a bloodbath in the Communists prevailed (and O'Neill said the opposite). Spectacularly wrong was JFK II! We only "lost" Vietnam thanks to people like John Kerry and his friends in congress who cut off aid to South Vietnam and hounded Richard Nixon into retirement. Absent Watergate, South Vietnam would have survived.

Kerry sounds similar alarms about our Iraq policies today. And he is wrong, just as he was in 1971.

Posted by: Patrick R. Sullivan on August 16, 2004 06:39 AM

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Yeah, if it had been up to Kerry we would have won the Vietnam war. Lucky thing Nixon remained in power.

Posted by: zizka / John Emerson on August 16, 2004 06:42 AM

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Correction: Yeah, if it had been up to Kerry we would have LOST the Vietnam war. Lucky thing Nixon remained in power.

Posted by: zizka / John Emerson on August 16, 2004 06:44 AM

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Posted by: trevelyan on August 16, 2004 07:13 AM

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Patrick WhoIsNotRepublican, if you want to suprise us by diverting everyone's attention away from anything that might matter in this election and towards Kerry's shamefully risking his life in Vietnam for his country*, I suggest we start the discussion by reading Tom Tomorrow's undispensable monday morning This Modern World:

http://www.salon.com/comics/tomo/2004/08/16/tomo/index1.html

* I do have to concede that your attacks are becoming more sophisticated over time. And surely, everyone knows that Vietnam was such a great success that there can ABSOLUTELY be no doubt the US should have stayed in there, even if it meant millions had to die on both side. Who would not want his or her country to have this kind of blood stain on their flag? Pat, can you please brush us up about that genius "domino theory", please?

Posted by: Jean-Philippe Stijns on August 16, 2004 07:46 AM

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To judge from his prose style and his air-headedness, Sullivan is somewhere between 20 and 35 years of age. In other words, he wasn't around when this stuff was coming down, though perhaps his father was, or his uncle, or whoever raised him. That person, I surmise,was some kind of fifties-style McCarthyite who watched his simple-minded world dwindle down into a morass of complexities. Think O'Reilly--that sort of thing. Sullivan's word to the contrary is not to be taken seriously on any of this, because he's not an honest man, and for all his boyishness, he's too old to grow up. It's too late for Sullivan to learn anything, ever.

Posted by: alabama on August 16, 2004 08:53 AM

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Sullivan,
You have really gone off the deep end now.

You are no longer even attempting to create the guise of having a rational discussion.

Is this how desperate the repubs have become? (yes Patrick you still are one).

Could have won Vietnam? You use Giap's replacement as evidence? Hell, they would have been moving down from the North more determined than ever in a year or so (assuming there is even a smigdeon of validity to your "evidence").

In fact they did just that in 1975.

The NVA had been fighting for dozens of years and they were not going to be denied victory. Anything that happened in 1973 was a minor setback.

The NVA was infinitely better in all respects to the ARVN.

We could definitely still be fighting that war for the ARVN. US casualties would be around 400, 000 KIA and probably a million or so WIA.

I don't even want to think about the cost in dollars., opportunity costs, etc.

What a loon you are.

Posted by: avedis on August 16, 2004 09:06 AM

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Sullivan has become a complete loon. He is not even attempting to create a guise of rationality.

Could have won Vietnam??? HA ha ha haha Ho ho ho ho, oh sheesh.

The "evidence" that he presents is so irrelevant and so off base and so incorrect that only the most uneducated base cretin could give Sullivan's arguement a second's serious consideration.

NVA/VC defeated in 1973? Hardly.

Sullivan, HELLO??!! what happened in 1975?

Try googling Siagon, fall, NVA, evacuation.

The NVA & VC had been fighting the war for dozens of years. They would not be deprived of victory; not for any cost.

Despite whatever the historically challenged Sullivan thinks happened in 1973, the NVA & VC were going to regroup and attack the south at the right time, which, again, is what they did do.

If we were still in Vietnam, which would have to be, we would have something like 400,000 KIA, over 1,000,000 WIA. I can't even begin to calculate the cost in terms of dollars, opportunity cost, ect.

Sullivan=Loon

Posted by: avedis on August 16, 2004 09:17 AM

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Sorry for double posting, I don't know how that happened.

Posted by: avedis on August 16, 2004 09:19 AM

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mark safranski wrote: "Deterrence and Containment worked because the USSR threatened all of the other major powers and it was in their self-interest to cooperate with the United States."

To repeat: I never meant to suggest that these approaches would be effective against stateless terrorists. But the neocons seem to want to reject these approaches entirely. They were advocating against them during the Cold War, and they succeeding in derailing an effective containment policy against Saddam Hussein. Containment is not the response to every threat, but rejecting it seems to fly in the face of over 50 years of experience--50 nail-biting years during which somehow, miraculously, a nuclear war was averted. I'm not a big fan of miracles, so I would say it was due to good luck or just maybe a superior foreign policy to one based on pre-emption and greater willingness to deploy forces.

I agree that al Qaeda poses an entirely different problem. The reason I don't trust the neocon approach is that they still believe that they are fighting against a state (it was Iraq, so they need to vote on which one it is now; I'll bet Syria).

Me, I'm still with the short-lived post-9/11 conventional wisdom that the approach was going to be better human intelligence, including a lot of arabic language speakers, and more international cooperation. (That was all the buzz until Bush decided that the problem was the existence of evildoers and that the solution was to use US military might to rid the world of evil.)

Posted by: Paul Callahan on August 16, 2004 09:35 AM

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Paul Wolfowitz and Scooter Libby developed what is now George W. Bush's national security strategy for then Defense Secretary Cheney back in 1992, long before our current obsession with terrorism. Their goal was to perpetuate US hegemony. The instrument chosen was US military power, which was the only unchallengable American strength. The paper was entitled the Defense Planning Guidance. I remember when it was leaked to the press - it sounded completely shocking and bizarre at the time, and caused a minor scandal. Our then President George H.W. Bush quickly disavowed it.

That doctrine is now our official policy. It is really universally disliked around the world, for obvious reasons. It's one of the main reasons for the plunge in US popularity. Yet foreigners are better informed about this basis for George Bush's foreign policy than Americans. Or maybe not. Maybe we Americans just think it's natural for the US to dominate everybody else by the threat of military force, because we're such boosters of democracy and all.

To put it mildly, this approach is a recipe for long term disaster. It does not have a single chance of success. It's discouraging the John Kerry hasn't said more about it.

Posted by: No Preference on August 16, 2004 10:59 AM

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Paul Callahan, language is nothing but a nuisance to Bush--mere noise, or something to trip over. The fact that language is a reality--the very stuff of communication and intelligence (and this includes the plain English of Paul O'Neill and Richard Clarke)--is completely lost on the guy, . And while it's possible to be clever and functional without a command of language, it's impossible to govern well without it. Bush is a man who was born to whip slaves on a cotton plantation, smiling as he does so--but born, as it happens, out of season.

Posted by: alabama on August 16, 2004 11:02 AM

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alabama -Just curious about your background in linguistics (given your remarks about Pat's possible age and experience) and hoping you can shed some light on Bush's character given his collection of speech acts that masquerade as intelligence.
I agree that Bush missed his period (that there is no grand strategy if I must stay on topic) which would have occurred before The Great Plains Ape decided that he'd had enough of the jungle.

Posted by: calmo on August 16, 2004 10:21 PM

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