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Fighting Terrorism and Promoting Democracy

 
 
Reply Sat 11 Jan, 2003 09:46 pm
From the Jan/Feb 2003 issue of Foreign Affairs, this article address a crucial part of the Bush Adminstration's foreign policy. It's an essay which is a long read but very well worth the time:

LINK TO ESSAY, FOREIGN AFFAIRS MAGAZINE

Opening paragraph:

SPLIT PERSONALITY

When George W. Bush took office two years ago, few observers expected that promoting democracy around the world would become a major issue in his presidency. During the 2000 presidential campaign Bush and his advisers had made it clear that they favored great-power realism over idealistic notions such as nation building or democracy promotion. And as expected, the incoming Bush team quickly busied itself with casting aside many policies closely associated with President Bill Clinton. Some analysts feared democracy promotion would also get the ax. But September 11 fundamentally altered this picture. Whether, where, and how the United States should promote democracy around the world have become central questions in U.S. policy debates with regard to a host of countries including Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Uzbekistan, and many others.
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Type: Discussion • Score: 1 • Views: 8,854 • Replies: 135
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Diane
 
  1  
Reply Sun 12 Jan, 2003 02:47 pm
Checking in.
0 Replies
 
Lightwizard
 
  1  
Reply Sun 12 Jan, 2003 03:16 pm
I know it takes some time to read the essay and even more time to absorb it.
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ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Sun 12 Jan, 2003 04:41 pm
Checking in, back later.
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jeanbean
 
  1  
Reply Sun 12 Jan, 2003 05:27 pm
Terrorism&Speading Democracy
Democracy works best, only if the people themselves want it.
Certainly, Hussein has committed evil, but not more evil than
Bush has created.
Israel is the only "democracy" in the Middle East.
But, Israel gets its weaponery from the US.
No wonder the Palestinians jumped up and down,
when they saw a picture of the WTC collapsing.
Democracy is over-rated!
0 Replies
 
Phoenix32890
 
  1  
Reply Sun 12 Jan, 2003 05:29 pm
Read it once, and will read it again. Besides what I learned from the article, I learned something else. I really do not have sufficient knowledge of foreign policy. Confused THAT will be corrected. In this day and age, it is absolutely essential to really understand what is going on in the rest of the world!
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fishin
 
  1  
Reply Sun 12 Jan, 2003 05:41 pm
I'd guess that there have been glaring inconsistancies in every Administration's Foreign policy programs and really couldn't offer any better if pressed on the issue. When you are dealing with 180 different countries you are going to use at least 180 different approaches.

The only thing I see that I would offer as a suggestion is that we (the US) should quit using our military in "nation building" and similar ideas. It isn't the proper role of the military nor does it send the right message to other countries. How inclined would you be to believe that 5,000 or 6,000 foreign troops are all here to help you?

In the cases where the military IS needed the in country commander should be reporting to a State Dept. official in that country. The Dept. of State HAS TO BE seen as being in the lead and any military presence has to be subbordinate to them. The military shouldn't be making foreign policy decisions. They should be assisting the State Dept. on in accomplishing whatever policy the State Dept. comes up with. Way to much foreign policy is hidden in the military IMO.
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Lightwizard
 
  1  
Reply Sun 12 Jan, 2003 06:08 pm
The world has gotten smaller before our very eyes and our politicians and diplomats (who should be playing less in politics and more in ethical persuation) have a harrying job balancing our policies with our own self-interest. I certainly will make some adjustments to my viewpoints from reading the essay and fisin' certainly has expressed something I can subscribe to with no problem. I believe we've done a piss poor job of selling ourselves in other countries and giving the impression that we're too introspective with our own problems to bother with the problems of other countries. Sure, we give them money but isn't do we really have enough of a voice, enough direction given to these countries to advance our own safety and welfare? I prefer to ask questions that settle down thinking I know it all -- reading literate essays instead of watching the talking heads on TV will open up a closed mind faster than anything. Of course, you have to go to the right places to read anything worthwhile. Plopping a MacDonalds onto the main throughfare of a large foreign city certainly doesn't advance our cause.
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Lash Goth
 
  1  
Reply Sun 12 Jan, 2003 07:14 pm
My generalized take on the article is:
Perfect foreign policy demands the US speaking out to most every country in this world, to thump them over human rights issues and tyrrany when they are wrong, and pat them on the head with billions when they make steps toward democracy and improved human rights. This rule is coupled with the need of the US to do what is necessary to get the assistance of all these people in helping us prosecute terrorism.

The dual, and sometimes opposing, goals seem at points in the article to be impossible. Look at what they said about our handling of Musharraf. We needed his help. We got it. He made steps toward democracy. We rewarded him. The article says he backtracked. I hadn't heard of this. Nor have I heard about our response, if any to his 'backtracking.' But who is to judge the degree of our patting and thumping? How perfect are we expected to be in this endeavor?

I am thankful for LW's posting of this article, because it is very apparent to me that Geo Bush 1) has an incredibly difficult to impossible job set before him in foreign policy and 2) he is almost perfect in the attempts he has made. I believe this source is unbiased, and preeminently qualified to make their assertions.

I think the job of National Security is harder for the sitting President at this time than it has ever been before. Washington and Lincoln used to get this nod from me, but what this President has on his plate pales his predecessors' difficulty. This is not pro-Bush or pro-GOP propaganda from me. It seems the world has been shaken up and set on it's ear. No other president has had so many cultures, leaders and countries to consider. Threats internally and externally.

IMO, we are fortunate to have an administration who is addressing all the issues raised in this article. We can't be held responsible for all the outcomes, but I am well pleased with the effort at this juncture.
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JLNobody
 
  1  
Reply Sun 12 Jan, 2003 11:12 pm
Foreign policy
I'll be with you after reading the article.
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Lightwizard
 
  1  
Reply Sun 12 Jan, 2003 11:29 pm
I'm not sure how anyone could perceive that Bush is perfect in his approach to foreign policy. He came into the Presidency with embarassingly little knowledge or understanding of any other country besides our own and I believe he could have used more tutoring in that area. He continues to rely on advisors and I can't chalk this up to "delegating." 9/11 tragically, dramatically and abruptly made him face up to what continuing problems there are in the world. Our image, however, doesn't seem to bother him or his adminstration. Perhaps he can do what he did with his businesses -- make it seem like we're all together and then sell us to the highest bidder. A government is not a business.
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Lash Goth
 
  1  
Reply Sun 12 Jan, 2003 11:31 pm
Re: Terrorism&Speading Democracy
jeanbean wrote:
Democracy works best, only if the people themselves want it.
Certainly, Hussein has committed evil, but not more evil than
Bush has created.
Israel is the only "democracy" in the Middle East.
But, Israel gets its weaponery from the US.
No wonder the Palestinians jumped up and down,
when they saw a picture of the WTC collapsing.
Democracy is over-rated!


jeanbean--Your comments trouble me.
Do you really believe W is guilty of crimes comparable to Saddam Hussein?

Do you believe the Palestinians were justified in celebrating 911?
0 Replies
 
Lash Goth
 
  1  
Reply Sun 12 Jan, 2003 11:48 pm
Lightwizard wrote:
I'm not sure how anyone could perceive that Bush is perfect in his approach to foreign policy. He came into the Presidency with embarassingly little knowledge or understanding of any other country besides are own and I believe he could have used more tutoring in that area. Bush's actions in foreign policy began when he took office. His prior knowledge, or lack thereof makes no difference.

He continues to rely on advisors and I can't chalk this up to "delegating."
What President doesn't rely on advisors. If he wiped away their advice, he'd be branded a 'unilateralist' or a lone wolf. He does what every President has done. Listen to experts, and then make a decision.
9/11 tragically, dramatically and abruptly made him face up to what continuing problems there are in the world.
911 made us all face up to a world we didn't recognise. Since then, he has taken a commanding lead in prosecuting the war on terrorism, and trying to pull together a worldwide consensus. He is on good terms with many world leaders. He followed the prescribed methods of the foreign policy magazine you lifted the article from. These people are highly qualified to speak to Bush's performance. What do you know that they don't?


Our image, however, doesn't seem to bother him or his adminstration. The world hated us long before W threw his hat in the ring. What would YOU do to make the world like us, while you were prosecuting what constitutes a bubbling World War.

Perhaps he can do what he did with his businesses -- make it seem like we're all together and then sell us to the highest bidder. A government is not a business Knew it was too good to be true. The article you posted was great. An unbiased piece on the job at hand, and the very good progress being made. Now, you have crawled back into that dark, partisan cave.
[/color]
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Diane
 
  1  
Reply Sun 12 Jan, 2003 11:49 pm
LW, the article was an excellent overview of American foriegn policy including the added complications of 9/11.

Our record isn't a terribly honorable one, with blatant comprmises made if we have a profitable relationship with dishonorable dictatorships. There isn't much trust in America's policy, considering our past self-interested maneuvering.

The worries over whether we would honor our promises to support Afghanistan after the Taliban were ousted are justified. From the article:
"No easy solutions to Afghanistan's profound political problems are in sight. At a minimum, however, the administration must strengthen its commitment to making reconstruction work. This means not only delivering more fully on aid, but exerting real pressure on regional power brokers to accept the Kabul government's authority and working harder to establish an Afghan national army. No matter how pressing are the other fronts of the war against al Qaeda (such as the increasingly worrisome situation in northern Pakistan), the United States must fulfill the responsibilities for reconstruction that came with its invasion of Afghanistan." How can our policy be so shortsighted when we have so much to lose?

It is WAY past my bedtime, but I look forward to reading what others have to say and I hope to add to my comments.
0 Replies
 
Lightwizard
 
  1  
Reply Mon 13 Jan, 2003 12:42 am
No -- 9/11 made us face what was there all along and we'd foolishly put it on the back burner. The "it can't happen here" caused us to relax our security on airlines -- the minute I was that air marshalls were no longer to be on flights, I knew it was the beginning of the end. Otherwise, why decide now we need stringent airline security when we needed it all along?
There were government reports that we desperately needed to upgrade that security, one of them by Al Gore.

It's one thing relying on advice and another not making a decision based on any of one's own concepts, ideas and knowledge. You have to have enough knowledge to be able to trust the advisors, not blindly follow their advice. I don't believe Bush has that knowledge -- he's using the Presidency as his class in foreign affairs. What good moves your seeing and that the article commends are often credited to him but I don't buy it.

I believe if you'll remember, we were getting a significantly better shake from foreign diplomats, the foreign press and the peoples of other nations before Bush took office. Does the word isolationism mean anything? It certainly looked like we were headed in that direction before 9/11. Irregardless, that's no excuse that our government is roiling up hatred of the US around the world. It shouldn't be continued status quo (even though I know that's the conservative albatross). What policies there are in the past that has put us in the position the essay elaborates on are no excuse for two years of ditto, ditto, ditto.
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georgeob1
 
  1  
Reply Mon 13 Jan, 2003 09:32 am
Very interesting thread. The survey results particularly interested me. They show an assessment of the foreign policy effectiveness of various U.S. Presidents that is almost exactly reciprocal to my own. I believe that both Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton advanced some constructive elements in their foreign policies (Human rights for Carter, and free trade for Clinton), but that overall both delivered poor results and created serious problems for their successors.

I would rate Ronald Reagan at the top. He inherited a depressed and bloodied U.S. image abroad and equivalent state of mind at home - a country obsessed by the perceived need for "detente" after Vietnam and in the face of a relentlessly strong Soviet Union, and stunned at the (needless) triumph of radical Islam in Iran and the accompanying spectacle of the imprisonment of our embassy staff by Iranian revolutionaries, - and the oil crisis that went with it.

In very short order he reminded us and the world that the truth was very different from the general perception. It was the apparently strong Soviet system that was rotten within; the United States was in fact the strongest country in the world and, among its competitors, the least willing to knowingly harm its citizens or others. He followed a brilliant articulation of those points with policies that quickly forced the soviet Union into crisis and collapse and which turned domestic "stagflation" (remember that?) into the longest economic expansion in the century. Interesting too that he did this in the face of resistance from our ever-timid allies and the disapproval of much of the domestic political establishment. Compare that to the dodging and weaving of the Carter and Clinton presidencies.

I read the linked article from Foreign Affairs and found it to be a rather typical exposition of the apparent contradictions in current policy, but with very little indeed to illuminate the underlying causes or alternatives that would eliminate or reduce them. Academic enough in style and tone, but hardly penetrating or insightful in content. Indeed a careful reading shows that the author recognized this and even conceded that external events do drive policy and often do not permit actions perfectly consistent with this or that preconceived taxonomy. It is the sort of stuff that will get one published, but is not worthy of much serious attention.
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Lightwizard
 
  1  
Reply Mon 13 Jan, 2003 10:40 am
georgeob1 -- you're correct that the essayist makes no declarations but only dissects where we are at on the issues of terrorism and promoting democracy. It brings up more questions than answers and is not written in the usual didactic absurdities found in many Op Ed pages and on pundit TV. I disagree that it is not worth serious attention. I just am curious what periodicals you read. Perhaps those that are written by authors who don't want to get published?
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georgeob1
 
  1  
Reply Mon 13 Jan, 2003 11:23 am
Lightwizard,

"... perhaps those who don't want to get published?" That was cute and I enjoyed it.

What periodicals do I read? Very few; The Economist & The Atlantic Monthly are the only regulars. In earlier professional endeavors I had occasion to be a regular reader of Foreign Affairs, but am glad now to be relieved of all that pedantry. There is of course the occasional jewel, but it is usually hidden among many thorns. Pundits and academic careerists have their career ladders too and publication is one of the principal rungs. The passage of time is, in my experience the best filter and I increasingly look to history for understanding of current events.

I wouldn't say that the article in question "brings up" any questions, so much as it merely restates them amidst a lot of mostly meaningless distinctions and qualifications. There was so much more the author could have done with the same material. Consider the limits the unfolding stream of events in the world imposes on even those policies that are motivated by this or that central value or idea. Now that could have been interesting.
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Lightwizard
 
  1  
Reply Mon 13 Jan, 2003 11:51 am
I have a standing subscription to The Atlantic Monthly and peruse The Economist on the Internet fairly regularly. I also scan Foreign Affairs even though I no longer subscribe. I got more out of the article than you did. I believe The Atlantic had a very good essay on the same subject last year or the year before but can't find it. I would have probably preferred to post that but I can't really describe Foreign Affairs as pedantic. I have submitted to them and received a long outline of their publishing policy along with the, of course, rejection. It was very open in it's policy as far as the way an essay should be written but it did demand some stringent research that I hadn't performed accordingly. Much like what one reads in this forum. On my film discussions, one can catch me in a mistake but my research in that field is a great deal more extensive as a base and I keep a current library on the subject.

Actually, I'm going back to read the article again as I'm not that certain that I assimilated everything it had delved into.
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trespassers will
 
  1  
Reply Mon 13 Jan, 2003 12:17 pm
Since so far the overwhelming favorite on this poll is Bill Clinton, I am genuinely curious to know to what specific elements of his administration's foreign policy people are pointing when they express their agreement.

(That was a bit wordy, wasn't it? How about, "What exactly did you like about Clinton's foreign policy?"?)
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