Friday, September 09, 2005

Hanson, Our Strange Foreign Policy

     If you think I'm up to it, I'll take on Brooks.

     OUR FOREIGN POLCICY: Totalitarism Zen Buddhism with a Dirty Harry complex.


Someday historians will appreciate the fact that America's foreign policy changed in 2001. For all the national angst over Afghanistan and Iraq, historians will come to appreciate that sometime after 2001 the United States embarked on a radically different, much riskier, and ultimately more humane foreign policy -- one of both pulling in our horns while at the same time promoting risky democratic reform in targeted areas.
Nobody seems to like it. Such a complex and hard-to-define change explains why conservative realists are chagrined by its Wilsonian traits, even as leftist isolationists are equally furious that it is imperial. Mainstream out-of-power Democrats don't like what we are doing because of George Bush, while traditional Republicans stay the course mostly because it is now the party line.
But those who don't like it simply haven't looked at the results in detail. But examine the policies of the last four years in some detail and the current charges about empire, hegemony, imperialism, and all the other common invective increasingly make little sense.
I am going to mix you up by mentioning free trade with China (which happened before Bush), and I am going to lead you down the garden path and not mention the CEOs main reason was for cheap Chinese labor. The United States, at some risk to its own economy, has essentially opened its entire market to the Chinese -- not just to force global competitiveness within its own industries, or even to flood us with cheap goods, but also to bring the quasi-Communist giant back into the world community.
Now I am going to lie to you about the actions of Democrat leaders, calling them China bashers.  Perhaps Sherrod Brown has been promoted?  Bush and his new foreign policy has seen no major changes in relations to China. While Democratic leaders demand hammering the Chinese, and the Europeans erect barriers, U.S. willingness to incur trade debt and not regulate foreign investment has almost overnight jumpstarted China as a global player -- dangerous of course, but perhaps less so if it has a stake in the world commercial order.
Now I am going to lie about India.  Not only has Bush's foreign policy had little or no impact on India, but also, India is trending towards ever increasing socialism.[1] India is the same story. Tens of millions of its citizens have overnight seen a revolutionary material improvement in their standard of living. This has mostly been due once again to classical liberalism on the part of the United States, which resisted protectionism and allowed billions in capital and millions of jobs to be outsourced to the Indians -- often at terrible costs in unemployment and readjustment here at home.
Now I am going to lie and call Europe more socialist than China or India, and lie again and say that the Indians and Chinese all like us, and lie a third time and say the Europeans all dislike us.  In fact, China is 42% favorable, India is 71% favorable, and all of Europe is between those.[2] As a result while a socialist, subsidized, and protectionist Europe racks up trade surpluses, despite its utopian rhetoric, it does far less to bring others up to Western standards of commerce and consumerism. That might explain why, if the Germans and French do not appreciate us, the Indians and Chinese apparently do. How odd that we worry over the infantile rants of 140 million envious and ignore the begrudging admiration of 2 billion increasingly confident.
Democrats and Republicans are trying to stop bases from closing in their own districts (domestic), but I'm only going to mention Democrats.  Unrelated, GW Bush announced some troop withdrawals in 2004[3], and withdrew most troops from Saudi Arabia.  I will lie and say it was ALL the troops[4]. Far from being imperial, the United States, aside from its efforts to close military bases here at home -- often bitterly resisted by Democratic congressmen -- is trying to bring troops home from nations that quite unrealistically do not shoulder their own defense responsibilities and seek cover for that abdication through cheap shots at America for both leaving and staying. It was not the Clinton administration that began withdrawing soldiers in large numbers from Germany, took all American troops out of Saudi Arabia, and began redeploying contingents from the DMZ in Korea -- with promises of much more to come.
Now I am going to bring up the Oil for Food scandal, most of which was directly overseen by the United States, both under Presidents WJ Clinton and GW Bush and through the UN Security Council, and ignore the scandal that didn't cost billions, but millions of lives; the imposition of sanctions for weapons Saddam did not have.  I challenge my readers, explain everything! Confusion also reigns over the American rebuke needed to reform the United Nations. Critics should ask themselves, was the U.N. of 1999 in better shape than today? Then, it was in the midst of a still covered-up, billion-dollar Oil-for-Food scandal, while the shenanigans of the Secretary-General's son went unknown, and horrific regimes served on the U.N.'s human rights commissions. Now, Kofi Annan and other U.N. bureaucrats themselves are suddenly decrying scandal and inefficiency, and calling for reform. We should ask them: why is all that happening now?
US and French policy coincided in Lebanon, and Syria withdrew.  Mubarak's rigged referendum has been upgraded to a rigged election.  Elected Arafat is much better dead.  I will now repeat baseless rumors that Palestinians killed Arafat[5]. And why are troops out of Lebanon today when they were not in 1995? Why is Hosni Mubarak at least going through the motions of holding rigged elections that he would not, say, in 1992? Are the Palestinians better off with the Arafat dynasty of the Oslo days or with the semblances of a democratically elected government -- and did the latter have anything to do with, first, the ostracism and, second, the ignominious death of Arafat, who once was so dearly beloved in European and American capitals?
Are Arab intellectuals more or less favorable towards America now? Despite the torrent of abuse following the March 2003 invasion of Iraq, are Arab intellectuals more or less certain today (than say 1995) that the United States only cares about realpolitik -- and does nothing to promote the democratic aspirations of the Arab people?
I'll ask other unanswered, unanswerable questions, and then assert that those who wanted America to invade Darfur are the biggest Iraq critics.  What hypocrites they are!  After all, Saddam was killing a few hundred people a year in his prisons, while five to fifty thousand people died in the last few years in the Sudan.  Anyone who says we should invade one must say we should invade both.  Then I will assert that an "allied presence" was gained in Iraq, and that would not have happened in the Sudan.  Trust me, I'm the world's best determiner of things that didn't happen. Is multilateralism an objective good in all circumstances or only a useful slogan to trash current policies in Iraq? Thus are current efforts to involve many nations to pressure North Korea bad or good? And is the outsourcing of the Iranian bomb p roblem for a time to the multilateral Europeans cowboyish or prudently communal? Indeed, some who last year called for US unilateral intervention to save Darfur (in the manner they had earlier demanded such steps in Mogadishu) are the first to castigate our efforts in Iraq that have won more of an allied presence than any adventure in the Sudan might.[emphasis mine]
I know the secret truth, the secret machina against the current policy. What, then, is going on under the radar, as leftists here at home continue to fault American foreign policy, even as it is caricatured abroad by European elites?
Leftists are becoming pre-FDR conservative right wing isolationists (even though they support the UN) and we all know that is synonymous with appeasement.  And even though I just credited Bush for withdrawing troops, now I am going to say leftists are wrong because they want us to withdraw our troops from Germany and the Korean penninsula. In some sense, the United States is reverting to its isolationist past by wanting to downsize in South Korea and Europe, convinced that our presence is only resented -- and that if Germany cannot be trusted after 60 years, or if after 50 South Korea cannot take care of itself, then there is not much more we can do anyway.
Bush does what other countries want us to do, and offers reassuring words, but this is way better than when Eisenhower's man Dulles helped strengthening NATO, SEATO, ANZUS, and other treaties.  We don't need no steenking pieces of paper. In other aspects, we are readjusting, taking the pulse of Japan and India and offering them closer ties if they wish -- to allay their worries about radical Islam and Chinese expansionism, but in a way far more subtle than John Foster Dulles's globe-trotting.
Taking the pulse of Japan and India was the same as attacking Afghanistan and Iraq, because although Afghanistan was, in some respects, refusing to hand U bin-Laden directly over to the United States, Saddam was using his oil money, in part, to fund a military that took less than four weeks to destroy.  Democracy will save us the effort of invading them again. By the same token, the United States intervened in Iraq and Afghanistan in the long-term hope that its terrorists and oil-dollar weapons would no longer be threats, and that by constitutional reform there, we could eventually lessen our military presence in the region.
Those who depend on our presence for their own security and incomes don't want us to leave, and possibly some others.  And it seems like everyone in the Middle East is angry with us, but we are the only good guys there! Thus the odd spectacle of Iraqi and Afghan reformers worried that we will not stay long enough, even as the Pentagon is worried that we have stayed too long. The Saudis, Palestinians, and Egyptians are angry that we are too disengaged from them and too intimate with Iraqi, Afghan, and Lebanese reformers. Meanwhile, Muslim Brotherhood types and other Islamists say we are too cozy to autocrats even as they mobilize to subvert the elections we alone are promoting -- while the fearful autocrats damn us as too naïve and too readily caving in to radicals masquerading as democrats.
No expert has honestly seen it my way unless they were party hacks. I don't know what we should call all of this. But so far, no foreign-policy expert has come up with a non-partisan and intellectually honest diagnosis.
Apparently I can't even explain it, but it resembles Totalitarism Zen Buddhism with a Dirty Harry complex. Perhaps it is a Zen-like mood we are in, of gradually allowing others to come to the fore, albeit with a warning "Go ahead, make my day, and see if you can do any better on your own."
We are leaving Iraq, you creeps, but we look tough doing it. With the smoke of gunfire yet in the air, the marshal is backing slowly out of the crowded and creepy saloon, but staring down outlaws and with six-guns still drawn.
  1. Maharashtra is the State with the greatest economic growth in India: Rediff: Maharashtra budget taxes rich, but fiscal deficit zooms
  2. Pew Global Attitudes Project U.S. Image Up Slightly, But Still Negative
  3. People's Daily Online Backgrounder: US overseas troops, military bases
  4. Global Security Saudi Arabia Facilities
  5. Washington Post: Documents: Arafat Died of Massive Stroke compared with Jerusalem Post

No comments: