Why Condi Rice's Foreign Policy Approach Is Flawed

News Abroad

Mr. LaFeber is the Tisch University Professor at Cornell, and author of America, Russia and the Cold War, 1945-2002.

In her January 18, 2006 speech at Georgetown University, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice attracted attention by arguing that U.S. foreign policy would henceforth be shaped by a “transformational diplomacy . . . rooted in partnership, not paternalism.” Her address was taken by some observers to mean that the neoconservative policy assumptions which have condemned the United States to the tragedy in Iraq and elsewhere were being replaced by a realist perspective taking American policy back to the more constructive days of the partnerships George Marshall and Dean Acheson (whom she singled out for praise in her question-and-answer session), formed with Western Europe and Japan. These partnerships aimed to institutionalize both the rebuilding of those war-devastated partners and the containment of the Soviet Union.

A closer reading of her speech leads to another conclusion: the address is mostly old, failed policy dressed in necessarily different rhetoric. Most significantly, Rice began the speech not by emphasizing partnership, but with George W. Bush’s Second Inaugural Address from which she quoted that it is U.S. policy “to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world.” This “mission,” Rice added, is “transformational diplomacy,” and nowhere does she say this diplomacy came out of any partnership – which is well, because it didn’t.

Nor could it. Only a person ignorant of human history could seriously discuss “ending tyranny in our world.” Rice’s putative hero, Dean Acheson, told a group of military and diplomatic officers in 1949 that the idea that good and evil could not coexist in the world was the height of absurdity. Good and evil, Acheson noted in his own inimitable fashion, had coexisted ever since Adam and Eve left the Garden of Eden, and given the historical record (and, one might add, nuclear weapons) , such coexistence, this Cold Warrior believed, had to continue. The partners Rice has in mind tend to see the world through Acheson’s eyes, not the President’s or, apparently, her own.. Given Acheson and the partners’ long historical view and insights into human nature, they did not, and do not, believe that “tyranny” can be eradicated everywhere; it is rooted in a human nature that cannot be changed, only contained. Bush and Rice’s religious views, and the President’s faith in American military power, may lead them to believe human nature can be universally cleansed to suit their idealism, but all of recorded history is on the side of Acheson and the partners.

“If you’re relativist about right and wrong, then you can’t lead,” Rice told the Georgetown audience in her question and answer session. That axiom indeed served Bush well in winning elections by overly simplifying security issues. But it became an albatross around the neck of U.S. diplomacy when the President bragged he would call evil by its proper name, proclaimed Iran and North Korea as parts of the Axis of Evil – and now, with Iraq in near civil war and U.S. strategic options disappearing, he finds it necessary to bargain with the Iranians to prevent civil war in Iraq and essentially turn the North Koreans over to China and South Korea who have quite a different approach to Kim Il Sung’s regime than does, or did, Bush. Rice’s remarks contain the kind of good/evil dichotomy that many Americans love to hear, but such a dichotomy has little to do with the world they have to deal with in 2006. Evil exists, but the lesson of the past three years leads to the conclusion that the evil of terrorism should have been dealt with not by holding elections or deploying U.S. Marine divisions in Iraq. It could have been better dealt with, as Professor Michael Howard argued in a remarkable (and remarkably ignored) article in the January/February 2002 Foreign Affairs, by covert, combined intelligence operations directed against terrorist cells. Among other implications, Howard’s recommendation could have led to the killing or capture of Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri (who has been linked to recent bombings in Europe) in Tora Bora during late 2001-2002, instead of pulling out the U.S. Special Forces and covert agents who were pursuing him and sending them to Iraq. The worst possible tactic, Howard warned, would be war (especially, one assumed, a virtually go-it-alone conflict falsely labeled a preemptive war) against an Islamic nation-state that would generate more jihadists than it eliminated.

Rice’s two major proposals, spreading democratic regimes and forming new partnerships to do it, are contradictory. There is no obvious interest in Europe, Japan, or other U.S. allies to embark on a Wilsonian mission to the democratically deprived. A notable exception to this reluctance is Poland’s deep involvement along with Washington’s in the Ukrainian and Georgian regime changes. Democratizing Iraq, Iran, Syria, Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, or Pakistan, to mention only some of the more important players in a broad region profoundly destabilized by the Iraq war, has drawn considerably less interest from Rice’s hoped-for partners.

She gives away the central weakness of this “transformational diplomacy” by her use of history. At Georgetown Rice several times mentioned the rebuilding of Germany and Japan between 1945 and 1951 as models for future regime changes. As some people tried to point out in the months before the invasion of Iraq (when the German and Japanese models were loudly proclaimed as universals by the neoconservatives and their then allies in the media), the experiences in Germany and Japan are the exceptions that prove the rule. Rebuilding worked in those two instances because of uniquely favorable circumstances: homogeneous populations, reliable military security, legitimate local administrators through whom the occupiers could work, legitimacy brought by allies who cooperated (sometimes unhappily) with Washington, and a full U.S. treasury used by officials willing to commit billions of dollars up front. These uniquely favorable circumstances stand in striking contrast to those found in all subsequent U.S. wars down to and including Iraq and Afghanistan. Rice noticeably never mentions Vietnam, that great effort of U.S. nation-building in the half-century after 1951, nor does she note the repeated failures of American attempts to impose stable democracies (teaching them how to elect good men, in Woodrow Wilson’s instructive words), in the Caribbean, Central America, Mexico, Cuba, and the Philippines over the past 120 years.

Americans have repeatedly tried Rice’s “transformational diplomacy” and it has failed. Redoubling an effort based on bad history and false assumptions will not change the outcome. Nor will it be changed by Rice’s other proposal at Georgetown: to increase rapidly the number of Foreign Service Officers and relocate them from traditional postings to the newly contested areas where culture clashes and terrorists breed. Such a turn would be welcome if policies were reconsidered and many billions of dollars more made available. But as Karen Hughes, among others, learned on her trip to the Middle East in late 2005, old U.S. policies delivered even with the smoothest of Madison Avenue’s phrases get nowhere with local audiences. And Bush’s devotion to tax cuts, along with huge deficits, make the scope of Rice’s proposal a pipe dream rather than a budget line. On this issue Bush has made his decision: he prefers K Street and the interests it represents over C Street and its State Department. This has to be “the work of a generation,” Rice declared. True, but if any of its goals are to be realized, the work will have to begin with the generation that follows the Bush administration.

Rice’s Georgetown speech is less a movement back to the realism and multilateralism exemplified by her old mentor, Brent Scowcroft, than it is a repackaging of failed neoconservative policies that seeks to disguise regime change with the rhetoric of Wilsonian democracy, and that hides a lack of actual multilateralism (and badly needed legitimacy) with such misleading phrases as “coalition of the willing,” or, in this case, “partnership.” If the second Bush administration does understand the historic mistakes made by the first Bush administration, it cannot by proved by Rice’s appearance at Georgetown. Acheson advocated the Marshall Plan and NATO. In stark contrast, Rice advocates nothing that might institutionalize “partnership.” She offers only the suggestion that the United States “localize our diplomatic posture” and create more “virtual presence posts” in which American diplomats can exchange computer messages with the target audience. It is not a bad idea, just irrelevant to the need for rethinking and radically readjusting U.S. foreign policy. To rephrase, the Rice doctrine revealed at Georgetown never confronts the administration’s failed assumptions about human nature, spreading Wilsonian democracy, and what true partnership with allies should mean.

This article first appeared at Japan Focus and is reprinted with permission.

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More Comments:

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

Try looking at a map. Europe is 30 odd countries, and a vastly greater number of distinct nationalities, regional subgroupings and other assorted multiplicities, not some Rumsfeldian excreted monolithia of Old and New or East and West. THAT is both history and present reality. The EU is not a United States of Europe. History is not regurgitation from dubious neo-con websites.

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

Not bad, but the interesting litany offers little to no justification for the kneejerk conclusion. We won the world wars and the achieved the objectives in Korea. The "peace" may have been "lost" afterwards (more by Republicans than Democrats by the way) but whatever their flaws, and you certainly don't mention all of them) these predecessors were at least statesmen with ideas. Condi's last functional idea was circa 1991.

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

This is one of the best articles ever on HNN but it unfortunately fails to properly identify the real purpose of Condi Rice being Secretary of State, making speeches "using the rhetoric of Wilsonian democracy", etc.

The author classifies her remarks as "repackaging" of old failed concepts, and shows convincingly, with multiple examples, why this is an apt description. But, he misses the point behind Rice's snow jobs.

It may seem from Rice's statements that the "second Bush administration" has failed to recognize "the historic mistakes made by the first Bush administration", but that interpretation would be at odds with the second administration's track record. The idea of America going it alone, damn the torpedoes, the Turks, the Saudis, the Canadians and "Old Europe", is gone. The domino theory of "regime change" in Iraq leading to liberty and universal suffrage and subsidiaries of Halliburton blossoming in Syria, Iran and Sudan is moribund. The Iraq fiasco has been a string of defeats and disasters: no allies, no WMD, no stability, no paying expenses with oil revenues, no real enhanced regional role for the U.S. military, no peace between Israel and Palestine and no deterrence whatsoever to the remaining "evil axis" countries, North Korea and Iran. The White House chickenhawks are in full retreat on nearly all their pretended principles. They know full well how royally they screwed up between 2001-04, but they don't care because the whole purpose behind an asinine, counterproductive and oxymoronic "war on terror" and the blunder-ridden "regime change to disarm Saddam of his WMD" was to set up fearmongering as a campaign tactic for winning electoral legitimacy in November 2004 for the then unelected AWOL "War President". That mission was accomplished and now the objective is avoid the public realizing how badly America's national security was damaged in the process and at the hands of these corrupt incompetents

Rice's job now may be tricky and difficult, but can be simply stated: Cover-up. Do and say whatever it takes to obscure, hide, distort, deny, and evade responsibility for the most disastrous foreign policy in American history. That is why Rumsfeld and Cheney are still in power despite their high crimes and misdemeanors, and why Gonzales was put in charge of law enforcement. Their job descriptions all involve keeping lids on their past horrors until the end of 2008 after which all the Bush Admin.'s monumental cock-ups can be blamed on the administration which follows it.

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

You are both dancing around words to justify untenable positions. Iran is not a real democracy because elections are rigged, voters are intimidated, opposition candidates jailed or killed, and the representative legislature's enactments subject to veto by an unelected clergy. Democracy means majority rule and Iran is further from it than most countries, at least based on every independent international ranking I've ever seen. It is still lower, near the bottom globally, when it comes to human rights and individual freedoms, which are not the same thing as democracy.

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

Despite your highly confused Europhobia, you are using a European language, even if you cannot spell it.

E. Simon - 3/11/2006

I should point out that the disaffectation pertains just as much to what the Iranian "voter" realized Khatami couldn't do once in power. The rigging of the system not only encompasses the vetting of candidates but what they can do once there. Compare Iranian turn-out rates from their last three elections. They've learned.

E. Simon - 3/11/2006

I have to agree with Peter. And I think Mr. Halsey's chronology is a bit off. From what I remember, there might have been a "new paradigm," (or as I would put it, a new hope), but that occurred with the election of Mohammad Khatami - first in 1997 and then in 2001. Ahmadenejad ran more on economic issues with a socialist-sounding appeal to the lower classes mixed in with some of that old time religion. The youth have been understandably disaffected, as they put much more stock than they realized they should have in Khatami, and voted in much lower numbers than in the previous 2 elections. As has been stated, the system's a bit rigged.

Of course, we can complain all we want about what kind of connections make it likely to attain the presidency in the U.S. But with the kind of restrictions in Iran, it's about as democratic as the Soviet Union was. There were elections there too. At some point you have to be realistic about the meaning of your democracy given how incredibly restrictive the candidate selection process is by higher legal authorities. This flow chart is a good visual representation of just how restrictive we're talking. Note how many of the positions that provide input into "approving" elected candidates are themselves unelected:


Frank Halsey - 3/11/2006

Iran’s from of democracy doesn’t seem very democratic to us but ever since their elections in 2005, a new hope or paradigm was created around liberalism, democracy, and human rights. Movements were born. Yes, there are thousands still in prisons but workers, women’s feminist groups, political oppositionists, writers, journalists, intellectuals and students, and the rest, are all beginning to recognize that Ahamadinejad isn’t solving their problems and the last elections were democratic in form, rigged or not (even in the US the talk will never go away about the suspicious 2000 and 2004 presidential elections) and it is a growing democracy. The structure of power in Iran is a web of institutions that combines theocracy and democracy. This is not far removed from what many wishful but unrealistic thinkers in our own land would want someday. Iran’s democracy is imperfect there and it will probably grow better as long as the US doesn’t try to speed it up with regime change or transformational "diplomacy", mess it up, because these things have to develop at grass roots levels which in time will form something closer to Western democracy. It is a matter of time before the people will throw out their present leader and his mullahs.

Rob Willis - 3/10/2006

Why, Peter, we agree. Democratic-style government includes a number of possible variations on the theme. A democratic nation does not always equal or pretend to satisfy the ideals of democracy.

I am not defending an untenable position. Iran, "Palestine" and any other number of "nations" do not strive for principles even remotely assumed by the democratic model.

Rob Willis - 3/10/2006

If we accept that any mechanism of representation which yields a result superficially similar to our system is a democracy, then Iran is a democracy. The greater question is what actual rights and protections the individual has within the resulting framework. Hitler was elected in a democratic fashion too, so does that suggest that the mechanism will always produce a admirable result?

Iran is deeply involved in the Iraq conflict, but they are not doing so to reinforce the eventual blossoming of democracy there. A true democratic nation would be on the side of the coalition, not the terrorists.

I preceive Rice's comments about "partership" the same way I understood Bush's use of similar rhetoric in the past, i.e. a partnership with freedom-loving individuals and groups throughout the region who are currently under the yoke of internally hostile leadership. It is diplomatically impractical to encourage partnership with regimes who have no political interest in allowing greater freedom within their states for a host of reasons.

Rob Willis

Frederick Thomas - 3/10/2006

The mushroom cloud per se was made US policy by Truman, ne c'est pas? Then he shrank from using it in Korea (or even threatening to) and got 160,000 US kids killed fighting against China with its 800 million population, purges, famines, etc. for whom every casualty was a national blessing.

FDRs statesmanlike approach included numbskull flunkout economics which turned a recession into a depression, which was experienced by no other country.
Then he mongered US entry into WW II, by getting 3,000 American sailors killed deliberately when he knew the exact time and place of the attack from radio intercepts. Fewer than 10% of Americans wanted WW II, until he shoved it up their noses. (Stennett: "Day of Deceit".)

Vietnam "heavy" was of course instituted by LBJ, or his handlers such as Rostow, using such fakery as the Tonkin Gulf scheme, and we of course lost it.

Wilson et al was such a statesman that he violated the law of the land to load highly illegal war contraband on the Lusitania and other heavily armed passenger ships upon which Americans were encouraged to sail. 20,000 illegal 3-in artillery rounds in the nose of the Lusitania exploded devastatingly with only a single torpedo, to split the ship and send it under immediately, along with hundreds of Americans. (Colin Simpson, "The Lusitania")

What is there about Democrat presidents who feel they have to get hundreds or thousands of Americans killed to justify their stupid wars? Is it perhaps contempt for the American people, or simply the criminal mind in action?

Then of course we have Clinton's exploits in Somalia, Sudan (Al Quaida, pharma plant), and Haiti, all failures conjured by a Secretary of State who says she did not even know she was Jewish. Like, DUH!

So how is Bush/Condi? She personally may be the most intellient and best educated of the lot (check her Stanford record and pubs), and is loyal, which is of course her main job. And by the way, we won both of her wars. I'd give her at least a "B+," with an "F" to most of her predecessors.

Frank Halsey - 3/10/2006

Mr. Keuter, just a minor point here. Iran not a democracy? You really need to look up, even if it’s a little, about the country of Iran or maybe what a democracy is. Democracy, for example, in the Netherlands isn’t the same as in the US or of the same variety in other countries, now really, you can look this up yourself. Iran is a republic who has a president that’s elected to 4 year terms by popular vote. They also have two candidates running against each other. Ring a bell? Their council of ministers are selected by the president and approved by its legislature. Now I know you don’t like their flavor of democracy but they don’t like ours either. And of course you can find corruption and political pressure groups in Iran just as easily as you can in the good old USA.

Jason KEuter - 3/10/2006

Bull. I've discussed Lafaber's post, just not in a way that is to your liking, so you call it "nothing new", accuse me of a lack of originality and then, in an apparent quest to avoid appearing to be that which you condemn, reach for something "new" and say Iran is more of a democracy than America. I have heard statements as foolish as that before, but I must say, you have achieved your goal of saying something closer to new on a continum from quote to new. So let's face it, I'm responding to you but really writing to everyone else.

Lafaber's criticism is that the Wilsonian vision of American Foreign policy is dangerously unrealistic and does not involve true "partnership". The strength of his argument lies in the assumption that more "moderate" or conservative attitudes towards undesirable regimes have yielded "partnerships in the past". Further, the obvious assumption is that by "partnership" Lafaber is referring to the traditional major powers.

Pointing out that no such smooth partnership has existed in the past suggests that what Lafaber is proposing is to subject American foreign policy to the approval of "partners" who generally withold that approval regardless. In other words, Lafaber really objects to an "active" foreign policy, and prefers instead one based on the delusion that tyrannies don't yield serious problems that spill over the borders of those tyrannies.

As for Lafaber's criticism of the token nature of Rice's efforts, does he expect her to beat her shoe on a podium and promise to Iran that we will bury them?

I agree that token efforts won't accomplish transformational objectives and that herculean tax breaks and pork-laden spending bills make them unsustainable. And this touches on the central issue: American unwillingness to actually commit serious resources to dealing with very serious, potentially catostrophic problems. I doubt very much that Lafeber is looking for any such commitment of resources, however, and is instead arguing for dressing up appeasement and abnegation in the ridiculous garb of "partnership" and "multi-lateralism". His invocation of the Marshall Plan is coupled with his oppostion to war and is thus ahistorical, and avoid the unpleasant truth that both parties won't address, and that is that transformation takes place once defeat in a large scale destructive war has rendered the obstinately wrong into considering that they are wrong. Further, he's ignoring that a large part of what brought about World War II, which led to the MArshall plan, was ideology. Thus, while we may not succeed, a foreign policy direct against ideologies that promote and perpetuate tyranny is close to a moral imperative. It may not work, which means war or slavery is the answer.

Frank Halsey - 3/9/2006

Mr. Keuter, what "you" are saying has been said before. There already is an overwhelming cacophony of opinion and analysis that is already out there that most of us can read for ourselves and not have to plod through your posts for another tortuous rehash. So far, all you’ve done is attack Lafeber’s history and said nothing really about Rice’s transformational diplomacy, that is, how it is current and relevant in light of today’s hot issues. Especially the politics between Iran and America.

That’s part of what transformational diplomacy all about at the moment. Regime change in Iran. And our State Department has cobbled together an Office of Iranian Affairs to deal with it To promote change in Iranian policies and actions. They want to develop a government there that reflects the desires of the people. This is the issue. This is part of this administration’s idea of transformational diplomacy in Iran and other countries they’ve set their sights on. Of course, that’s the argument here, the question. . LaFeber is asking if it’s flawed.

Iran is a democracy. Probably more so than the US. They do have elections, you know. Of course, you may not agree with who they elect, but that happens to be the democratic process. So if Iran is a democracy, and it is, what is the US doing there? Do we only play ball with the democracies who are like us? Or are we going to have to live again with other nuclear powers in the world? Or maybe it’s not either/or. Maybe a new approach in foreign policy is feasible that integrates the US’s military, economic, political, cultural, and diplomatic, and other powers. The correct ends neoconservatism seeks are a democratized and liberalized world. But military power is too blunt and costly an instrument to bring about these ends.

Jason KEuter - 3/9/2006

In "closing", what is going on between Europe and the US is a continuation of the Cold War security arrangement. US bases in eastern Europe do not represent an "abandonment" of Western Europe and for all the hoopla about "old" and "new" Europe, America is simply expanding the protective umbrella historically accorded to Western Europe to eastern Europe as well. Wetern Europe remains under that security umbrella, although it doesn't pay to point this out too much during election time.

There is no separate European way, despite the politically convenient arguments of both Western Europeans and American isolationists and American leftists anxious to tout the virtues of European welfare states compared to the evils of American capitalism.

Jason KEuter - 3/9/2006

Haven't read it, although I've enjoyed some of his other works (Balkan Ghosts in particular). Meanwhile, since you disagree, I take it your contending:

1. That Lafaber's argument shares no characteristics in common with Kissinger's doctrine of "realpolitik", which is based on the inevitable permanence of bad regimes and argues for diplomacy as a mechanism for containing their influence.

2. That there was a Golden Age of Transatlantic Cooperation, or, to put it another way : Charles de Gaulle never existed (people confuse the first Gulf War for some type of historic norm of international cooperation much like cultural conservatives confuse family life in a 1950's suburb as "traditional".)

3. That the EU is not expanding into Eastern Europe.

4. That eastern European countries are not nervous about their former oppressor -Russia - and that Russia hasn't been doing anything lately that would stoke those fears.

5. That Bulgaria and Romania and Poland aren't new sites for US military bases and prospective NATO partners.

6. That Western Europe has a checkered past with Eastern and Central Europe (i.e those smaller states are generally pawns and battlefields in Imperial games between the major powers)

7. That the US position regarding those powers has not been more friendly than other European powers towards self-determination for those powers, consistently chastised as "unrealistic" by those powers with vested interests in maintaining a two-tiered status system within Europe (pawns and masters)

I am very familiar with the idea of American exceptionalism, which has some merits. If you could explain specifically how it fits into any of my previous posts, that would be appreciated.

Jason KEuter - 3/9/2006

Does your map show eastern and central Europe being Soviet colonies for a good alf century?

David H. Noon - 3/8/2006

For anyone who cares, this previous post will spare you the agony of reading Robert Kaplan's "Of Paradise and Power," which utilizes the familiar, overworked and lackluster two-world metaphor of American exceptionalism to explain . . . well, just about everything.

Jason KEuter - 3/8/2006

Mr. Halsey,

address some of the issues raised:

Are eastern and central Europe important to the EU?

Is Russia's recent history (lamenting the decline of the Soviet Union; going against the Orange Revolution in the Ukraine; inviting Kim Jung Il to celebrations marking the end of WWII; overtures to Hamas; opposition to strong measures on Iran) perhaps enough to stoke the fires of anxiety in Central and Eastern Europe?

Was the U.S. more or less aggressive against Russia than Western Europe during the Cold War? Is anti-Americanism stronger in Eastern and Central Europe than Western Europe or weaker?

The answers to all these questions point towards the following: a paradoxical relationship between the US and "Europe" (which really means Western Europe) - namely that the EU project requires a superpower US that has an economy powerful enough to satisfy the wants of its own citizens and enough surplus wealth to pay for the Pax Americana in Europe and elsewhere. Failure to do the latter will force the least powerful states in Europe to seek protection within Europe, which in turn will lead to rearmament and alliance building in Europe that has, historically spelled disaster for both Europe and the world in the twentieth century.

Arguably, much of that ended with the Cold War, but the Cold War enslaved too many European countries under communism. Although the US was not always as confrontational with communism as we perhaps should have been (the reason today's neo-cons became neo-cons in the first place), it was nonetheless always more anti-Soviet than the Western Europeans, who often regarded the US and Soviets as moral equivalents from the safe confines behind US military protection from those Soviets.

During the Cold War, Western European did not want the Us to disrupt the cold war peace and draw it into an American conflict with Russia. And here's the rub : Western Europe didn't want to be drawn into a conflict with Russia OVER CENTRAL OR EASTERN EUROPE.

This is a continuation of a long standing problematic relationship between Western and Eastern Europe. Thus, in order to keep Eastern Europe within the European fold, Western Europe will accept the pax Americana...all the while viscerating it at the polls.

Sort of like the Canadian commentator who invited AMericans to settle in Canada and become Canadian, an identity characterized by fretting and fussing over US cultural Imperialism all the while enjoying American TV shows, movies and products - free from the taint of producing them!

Or you could simply call this "vandalism" and say there are no arguments being made. Or say, "it... (which you won't name or specify)... has all been said before".

Given the paucity of argument, fact, reference or any other evidence of anything remotely resembling learnedness in your own post, it seems fair to say you're projecting. That's a Freudian term. Have you heard of him? He lived in the Austro-Hungarian Empire in its waning days. Have you heard of that? Why don't you connect some important characteristics of the Austro-Hungarian Empire to some issue of present concern. Or if you don't know anything about the Austro-Hungarian EMpire (I know I've always found the subject exasperatingly multi-syllabic and a little too heavy on confusing geographical terms), try your hand at something else. Just, please, try writing about history - the ostensible purpose of this site.

Frederick Thomas - 3/8/2006

Foreign ministers everywhere and for all times do not make policy, they execute it, however bad it is.

Execution always means, among other things, making war for an entirely different reason than given publicly, and mongering war. If we want to criticise them for that unethical behavior, let's start with WW's boys:

William J. Bryan (1913-15) Robert Lansing (1915-20), and Bainbridge Colby. Who successively connived and covered up the Lusitania arming and her sinking, the illegal shipping of arms to combatants on civilian ships, the falsification of war information (esp casualties) to the public, and the disastrous Versailles agreement which guaranteed WW II.

Not bad enough? Try FDRs boys:

Cordell Hull and Edward R. Stettinius, Jr. (1944-45), who successively helped monger WW II by provoking Japan's attack and not letting our sailors know it was coming, just to get the body count up, by schmoozing every mass-murdering communist they could get their hands on, and losing most of east Europe and Asia to slavery under the communists.

Then we have HSTs minions:

James F. Byrnes, George C. Marshall (1947-49) Dean G. Acheson. While Byrnes and Marshall were relatively beneign, aside from the loss of Eastern Europe, Acheson announced that "our defensive line against Communism does not extend beyond Japan," and thus invited North Korea's attack, which eventually killed over a million and left the North the starving mess that is still is.

That is before we get to Dean Rusk and NSA Walter Rostow, but then you know that story-it went on for 10 years.

The American statecraft was so bad in the last century that it almost makes one wish for Metternich. At least you knew where he was coming from.

So Condi wasn't the first to play the game, and her predecessors appear to be more destructive by factors. We should hold them all in opprobrium, not just the Republican ones.

Frank Halsey - 3/8/2006

Keuter, your posts are more like vandalism and you haven’t persuaded anyone here unless they are already on your side of the aisle. What you're saying is nothing new or necessarily true. Try again.

Jason KEuter - 3/8/2006

it was Wilson who went to Versailles and was dersively mocked by Clemenceau for suggesting that the very regions of Europe I'm talking about have self-determination. The fact that they have it now and that they're courting the US to protect it is rooted in the US long standing support for that determination that began with Wilson and was renewed during the Cold War. Western Europe, meanwhile, was anxious for the belligerent US not to stir up too much trouble with the Russians, lest they should fall in harm's way. It's easy to see why many in the east see the US as a counterweight to both Russia and Western Europe, whose anxieties about the EU were heightened in large part because the east didn't trust the knee-jerk anti-Americanism of the more powerful EU members.

Jason KEuter - 3/8/2006

I have no Europhobia, and I don't worry much about typos either. Now, back to what I was writing about : the European welfare state is only sustainable because the United States spends enough to ensure peace in Europe. Remove the US from Europe, and witness smaller central and eastern European states states nervously look at Russia to the East and then look west and find no major military power willing to defend them.

The dilemma the western powers face is that they need an expanded European market, that includes central and eastern Europe, to make their dream of a counter weight to US power viable.

This raises two throny problems: first, who will manand pay for the military to assuage the eastern partners fears of Russia? That would require spending a lot of money that presently goes to placate what has traditionally been an unruly Western European populace.

That would also require that the eastern and central Europeans trust the Western Europeans with their security : that has been disastrous, and they simply refuse to do so. Hence Poland's defiance of France regarding the Iraq war, which led to a downright Imperial finger wagging from Chriac that made clear that the traditional contempt with which many Western Europeans view the east is alive and well. Then you have the other news: Bulgaria and Romania inviting the US to build bases in their countries (along with Poland). And you have Bush's high profile visits to the Baltic states when those states are anxious to rid themselves of the Russian military.

Thus, the European Dream of a unified European Union that will serve as a "Counterwieght" to US power and will presumably offer a more peaceful pplayer in geo-politics, simply cannot exist without that power. The protective umbrella of the US has moved east, and without it, there would be no "European way" so many Europeans and so many Americans on the left make invidious comparisons with the American way, which provides a more abundant consumer society and plenty of surplus dough to cover Europe's military needs as well.

What you're reading here Mr. Clarke is called analysis. I congratulate you on your well spelled, infantile clarification of the obvious.

Of course, I am writing in English, which many people regard as ambivalently European, as their present lack of use of the Euro indicates. Of course, you could retort that English is a Germanic language. I'm sure that's what you would've said had I given you the opportunity. It too would have been infantile, but at least it would've involved more than making clear what language I'm using.

Try saying something about history next time.

Jason KEuter - 3/8/2006

Lafeber seems to be a realpolitik Kissinger kind of guy. It is hard not to see his comments as flagrantly anti-Republican. His earlier work on Central America, for example, argued against accomodation with tyrants in Central America and argued against it for precisely the same reasons that Wolfowitz argues against such policy: it is unrealistic! The regimes in place ultimately lead to far greater problems than the threats they pretend to address.

Lafeber and the American left are not against human rights and democracy as guiding principles of US foreign policy as long as being for human rights and democracy make them against US foreign policy. Lafeber uses perfection, of course, as the excuse for inaction, but what he's really arguing for is American passivity in the face evils it has the power to stop.

Moreover, he's exaggerating the degree of "partnership" America has had in the past in order to buttress his argument. That Europe didn't commmit serious resources to Iraq is in keeping with the norm. America is the major military power; Europe is the consumer society. European anti-Americanism is mostly an expression of resentment of dependency and weakness. Euopre will never stannd and admit that it can only bribe its lower classes into allowing the state to be stable with generous welfare state protections that Europe couldn't afford if America's military didn't guarantee the European peace. Given the fundamentally neurotic position of Europe (dependent and arrogant), it is Lafeber who is being unrealistic in thinking that some "partnership" in transatlantic relations looms on the horizon if only America would get real.

James Spence - 3/6/2006

Rice’s spreading the gospel of ending world tyranny maybe raises a purely practical problem (like the costs to our already debt-ridden nation). Her idea of transformational diplomacy will be translated by many around the world as American interference in other’s internal affairs and not every country they want to bring this crusade to will buy into it despite Evil. So far, I only see transformations but not much diplomacy. Where are the diplomats in this picture? As in diplomatic protocols between nations which America sometimes seems to ignore with their "partners".

What Rice’s speech at Georgetown points to is a statement by Michael Ledeen (American Enterprise Institute - which influences the administration’s policy). It is interesting since it coincides with Rice’s/America’s concept of transformational diplomacy:

Ledeen said, "Creative destruction is our middle name, both within our own society and abroad. We tear down the old order every day, from business to science, literature, art, architecture, and cinema to politics and the law. Our enemies have always hated this whirlwind of energy and creativity, which menaces their traditions (whatever they may be) and shames them for their inability to keep pace. Seeing America undo traditional societies, they fear us, for they do not wish to be undone. They cannot feel secure so long as we are there, for our very existence-our existence, not our politics-threatens their legitimacy. "

With the luck of Forrest Gump, it just might work but practically speaking, how is America going to going to go about ending tyranny and what does this "new" foreign policy have to do with all the issues floating around out there? If their planning for the transformation of Iraq has become an embarrassment it will be interesting to see how they manage this on a global scale, but as Rice said, this will take generations.