Saturday, August 10, 2013

Who Was the Best Foreign Policy President of the last 50 Years?

     Maybe George Herbert Walker Bush. He invaded Iraq, removed the Panamanian President, put an arms embargo, with the EU, still in place, on China, in response to Tiananmen Square, and two things I disagree with, trying to stop the break-up of Yugoslavia, and the military run aide programs in Somalia called UNITAF.

     I believe Iraq was, perhaps alone since WWII, a legitimate target for attack.  It had invaded Kuwait, whether or not it had historically been part of the same area, and whether or not April Glaspie hinted it was OK.  Bush failed, though, in not being able to co-ordinate the very tangled web of alliances and hatreds of local Turkic, Arabic and Farsi states, into a march all the way to the capitol.

     Removing the drug dealer who ran Panama, even if he had been running drugs with our CIA, was a special case form of invasion.  Panama is, in few senses, independent of the United States.  They use the U.S. dollar as currency.  If anyone ever invades the canal zone, America's military will defend it.  From that perspective, we removed our bad guy.  Offhand, I can't think of a cleaner way he could have been removed from power without assassinating him.

     I am sure we were not going to war with China over this.  We did co-ordinate an arms embargo with the EU.  I think that's the next, single, most powerful response.

     He was against the break-up of Yugoslavia.  I would have just tried to manage it better, along linguistic lines, natch.  Serbia had been the largest when Tito found himself newly in charge of something called Yugoslavia, so, to even it out, he carved off little parts of Serbia, and put them in other areas.  It's about three towns and a half of a small city in Kosovo, for example.  No longer in union, Tito's formulation has been a hindrance, and led to lawlessness and, in some cases, wars.

     In Somalia, the local power broker wanted us out.  One can argue that an estimated 100,000 people were saved by U.S. support for aide operations, but the 18 who died in Mogadishu were all the American media ever talked about.  It feels to me like Yet Another meddling in another country's civil war to get the outcome we wanted.  Somalia has not had a government since.

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