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Grand Strategy for a Divided America

Edward Campbell

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Despite our varying views on Iraq and the Arab world and Afghanistan and, indeed, Burnett’s gap, which includes pretty much all of the so-called Muslim Crescent, I think we can agree that the single most important driver for the coming decade and more, for that region and the world, is US foreign policy.  Here, reproduced from Foreign Affairs (July/August 2007) under the Fair Dealing provisions (§29) of the Copyright Act is a lengthy article which might provide a good jumping off point.

The authors, two distinguished American academics, offer a valuable history lesson, reminding us that what most Canadians – especially journalists and the commentariat – think of as traditional American foreign policy is only about 70 years old – dating from the Roosevelt administration.  Next they offer a six point programme which I think is worthy of debate.

While I find nothing to which I might object, I suspect that all six points will be controversial in some most almost all US political circles.  Readers who are familiar with Walter Russell Mead’s  Special Providence: American Foreign Policy and How It Changed the World (Knopf, 2001) will recognize that president Bush is, in Mead’s terms, a pure Jacksonian while Kupchan and Trubowitz are proposing a mix of Hamiltonian and Jeffersonian policies.

We are still a bit away from the day when China or India will challenge American hegemony but, as Prof Pan Wei of Peking University wrote (Harvard International Review), Under this poor leadership [provided by President Bush], a previously “benign hegemon” is becoming an oppressive tyrant that suffers opposition almost everywhere in the world.  Prof. Pan worried that vis à vis China President Bush’s foreign policy ” will ultimately cause the decline of US power, and it may not succeed in precluding China’s emergence from a new decade of political reform. Instead, belligerent confrontation will only lead to an escalation of tensions.”  It is, in my view, likely to do the same with India, Europe and much of the rest of the world, too.

That being said, it will be hard for a Republican administration to turn its back, completely, on Bush and his policies if only because of the political power of the religious right.  It will be equally hard for Democrats to do the same.  American power needs to be rebuilt, enhanced and then maintained – cutting and running is not the best way to build power.

Anyway, here it is:

Part 1 of 2

http://www.foreignaffairs.org/20070701faessay86406/charles-a-kupchan-peter-l-trubowitz/grand-strategy-for-a-divided-america.html
Grand Strategy for a Divided America

By Charles A. Kupchan and Peter L. Trubowitz
From Foreign Affairs, July/August 2007

Summary: Deep divisions at home about the nature of the United States' engagement with the world threaten to produce failed leadership abroad -- and possibly isolationism. To steady U.S. global leadership and restore consensus to U.S. foreign policy, U.S. commitments overseas must be scaled back to a more politically sustainable level.

Charles A. Kupchan is Professor of International Affairs at Georgetown University, a Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, and Henry A. Kissinger Scholar at the Library of Congress. Peter L. Trubowitz is Associate Professor of Government at the University of Texas, Austin, and a Senior Fellow at the Robert S. Strauss Center for International Security and Law.

MIND THE GAP

The United States is in the midst of a polarized and bruising debate about the nature and scope of its engagement with the world. The current reassessment is only the latest of many; ever since the United States' rise as a global power, its leaders and citizens have regularly scrutinized the costs and benefits of foreign ambition. In 1943, Walter Lippmann offered a classic formulation of the issue. "In foreign relations," Lippmann wrote, "as in all other relations, a policy has been formed only when commitments and power have been brought into balance.... The nation must maintain its objectives and its power in equilibrium, its purposes within its means and its means equal to its purposes."

Although Lippmann was mindful of the economic costs of global engagement, his primary concern was the political "solvency" of U.S. foreign policy, not the adequacy of the United States' material resources. He lamented the divisive partisanship that had so often prevented the United States from finding "a settled and generally accepted foreign policy." "This is a danger to the Republic," he warned. "For when a people is divided within itself about the conduct of its foreign relations, it is unable to agree on the determination of its true interest. It is unable to prepare adequately for war or to safeguard successfully its peace.... The spectacle of this great nation which does not know its own mind is as humiliating as it is dangerous." Lippmann's worries would prove unfounded; in the face of World War II and the onset of the Cold War, the bitter partisanship of the past gave way to a broad consensus on foreign policy that was to last for the next five decades.

Today, however, Lippmann's concern with political solvency is more relevant than ever. After the demise of the Soviet Union, the shock of September 11, and the failures of the Iraq war, Republicans and Democrats share less common ground on the fundamental purposes of U.S. power than at any other time since World War II. A critical gap has opened up between the United States' global commitments and its political appetite for sustaining them. As made clear by the collision between President George W. Bush and the Democratic Congress over what to do in Iraq, the country's bipartisan consensus on foreign policy has collapsed. If left unattended, the political foundations of U.S. statecraft will continue to disintegrate, exposing the country to the dangers of an erratic and incoherent foreign policy.

The presidential candidate who understands the urgency and gravity of striking a new balance between the United States' purposes and its political means is poised to reap a double reward. He or she would likely attract strong popular support; as in the 2006 midterm elections, in the 2008 election the war in Iraq and the conduct of U.S. foreign policy are set to be decisive issues. That candidate, if elected, would also enhance U.S. security by crafting a new grand strategy that is politically sustainable, thereby steadying a global community that continues to look to the United States for leadership.

Formulating a politically solvent strategy will require scaling back U.S. commitments, bringing them into line with diminishing means. At the same time, it will be necessary to stabilize the nation's foreign policy by shoring up public support for a new vision of the United States' global responsibilities. Solvency is the path to security; it is far better for the United States to arrive at a more discriminating grand strategy that enjoys domestic backing than to continue drifting toward an intractable polarization that would be as dangerous as it would be humiliating.

FINDING THE WATER'S EDGE

For Americans who lived through the bipartisan consensus of the Cold War era, the current political warfare over foreign policy seems to be a dramatic aberration. To be sure, Bush has been a polarizing president, in no small part due to the controversial invasion of Iraq and the troubled occupation that has followed. But in fact, today's partisan wrangling over foreign policy is the historical norm; it is the bipartisanship of the Cold War that was the anomaly.

Soon after the republic's founding, political parties formed to help overcome the obstacles that federalism, the separation of powers, and sectionalism put in the way of effective statecraft. With them came partisanship. During the nation's early decades, the main line of partisan competition ran along the North-South divide, pitting the Hamiltonian Federalists of the Northeast against the Jeffersonian Republicans of the South. The two parties disagreed on matters of grand strategy -- specifically whether the United States should lean toward Great Britain or France -- as well as on matters of political economy.

The Federalists worried that the new republic might fail if it found itself in a conflict with the British; they therefore favored tilting toward Great Britain rather than extending the alliance with France that was struck during the American Revolution. On economic matters, the Federalists defended the interests of the North's aspiring entrepreneurs, arguing for tariffs to protect the region's infant industries. The Republicans, however, continued to lean toward France, hoping to balance Great Britain's power by supporting its main European rival. And as champions of the interests of the nation's farmers, the Republicans clamored for free trade and westward expansion. At George Washington's behest, the two parties found common ground on the need to avoid "entangling alliances," but they agreed on little else.

Partisan passions cooled with the end of the Napoleonic Wars in Europe, and an era of solvency in the conduct of the nation's foreign affairs ensued. The collapse of the Federalist Party and the revival of an economy no longer disrupted by war ushered in what one Boston newspaper called "an Era of Good Feelings." For the first time, the United States enjoyed a sustained period of political consensus. Meanwhile, the peace preserved by the Concert of Europe, coupled with the tentative rapprochement with London that followed the War of 1812, made it possible for the nation's elected officials, starting with James Monroe, to turn their energies to the demands of "internal improvement." Americans focused on the consolidation and westward expansion of the union, limiting the nation's reach to what was sustainable politically and militarily.

This consensus was upended in 1846, when James Polk took the country to war against Mexico in the name of "manifest destiny." The Democrats -- the southern heirs to Jefferson's Republicans -- championed seizing Mexican territory and saw the war as an opportunity to strengthen their hold on the levers of national power. Fearing exactly that, the northeastern Whigs -- the forerunners to modern Republicans -- waged a rear-guard battle, challenging the legitimacy of Polk's land grab and the rise of southern "slave power." Polk's war, the United States' first war of choice, unleashed a new round of partisan struggle, aggravating the sectional tensions that would ultimately result in the Civil War.

An uneasy domestic calm set in after the Civil War, but it was soon brought to an end by divisions over the United States' aspirations to great-power status. Over the course of the 1890s, the United States built a world-class battle fleet, acquired foreign lands, and secured foreign markets. Republican efforts to catapult the United States into the front ranks, however, reopened sectional wounds and invited strong Democratic resistance. The Republicans prevailed due to their monopoly on power, but their geopolitical ambitions soon proved politically unsustainable. Starting with the Spanish-American War, the United States engaged in what Lippmann called "deficit diplomacy": its international commitments exceeded the public's willingness to bear the requisite burdens.

After the turn of the century, U.S. foreign policy lurched incoherently between stark alternatives. Theodore Roosevelt's imperialist adventure in the Philippines quickly outstripped the country's appetite for foreign ambition. William Taft tried "dollar diplomacy," preferring to pursue Washington's objectives abroad through what he called "peaceful and economic" means. But he triggered the ire of Democrats who viewed his strategy as little more than capitulation to the interests of big business. Woodrow Wilson embraced "collective security" and the League of Nations, investing in institutionalized partnerships that would ease the costs of the United States' deepening engagement with the world. But the Senate, virtually paralyzed by partisan rancor, would have none of it. As Henry Cabot Lodge, one of the League of Nations' staunchest opponents in the Senate, quipped, "I never expected to hate anyone in politics with the hatred I feel towards Wilson." By the interwar period, political stalemate had set in. Americans shunned both the assertive use of U.S. power and institutionalized multilateralism, instead preferring the illusory safety of isolationism advocated by Warren Harding, Calvin Coolidge, and Herbert Hoover.

One of Franklin Roosevelt's greatest achievements was overcoming this political divide and steering the United States toward a new era of bipartisanship. With World War II as a backdrop, he built a broad coalition of Democrats and Republicans behind liberal internationalism. The new course entailed a commitment to both power and partnership: the United States would project its military strength to preserve stability, but whenever possible it would exercise leadership through consensus and multilateral partnership rather than unilateral initiative. This domestic compact, although weakened by political struggles over the Vietnam War, lasted to the end of the Cold War.

The nature of the geopolitical threat facing the United States helped Roosevelt and his successors sustain this liberal internationalist compact. Washington needed allies to prevent the domination of Eurasia by a hostile power. The strategic exigencies of World War II and the Cold War also instilled discipline, encouraging Democrats and Republicans alike to unite around a common foreign policy. When partisan passions flared, as they did over the Korean War and the Vietnam War, they were contained by the imperatives of super-power rivalry.

The steadiness of bipartisan cooperation on foreign policy was the product not just of strategic necessity but also of changes in the nation's political landscape. Regional divides had moderated, with the North and the South forming a political alliance for the first time in U.S. history. Anticommunism made it politically treacherous to stray too far to the left, and the public's worries about nuclear Armageddon reined in the right. The post-World War II economic boom eased the socioeconomic divides of the New Deal era, closing the ideological distance between Democrats and Republicans and making it easier to fashion a consensus behind free trade. Prosperity and affluence helped nurture the United States' political center, which served as the foundation for the liberal internationalism that lasted a half century.
 

Edward Campbell

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Part 2 of 2

Reproduced from Foreign Affairs under the Fair Dealing provisions (§29) of the Copyright Act
http://www.foreignaffairs.org/20070701faessay86406/charles-a-kupchan-peter-l-trubowitz/grand-strategy-for-a-divided-america.html

A NATION REDIVIDED

Contrary to conventional wisdom, the collapse of bipartisanship and liberal internationalism did not start with George W. Bush. Bipartisanship dropped sharply following the end of the Cold War, reaching a post-World War II low after the Republicans gained control of Congress in 1994. Repeated clashes over foreign policy between the Clinton administration and Congress marked the hollowing out of the bipartisan center that had been liberal internationalism's political base. The Bush administration then dismantled what remained of the moderate center, ensuring that today's partisan divide is every bit as wide as the interwar schism that haunted Lippmann. Democratic and Republican lawmakers now hold very different views on foreign policy. On the most basic questions of U.S. grand strategy -- the sources and purposes of U.S. power, the use of force, the role of international institutions -- representatives of the two parties are on different planets.

Most Republicans in Congress contend that U.S. power depends mainly on the possession and use of military might, and they view institutionalized cooperation primarily as an impediment. They staunchly back the Bush administration's ongoing effort to pacify Iraq. When the new Congress took its first votes on the Iraq war in the beginning of this year, only 17 of the 201 Republicans in the House crossed party lines to oppose the recent surge in U.S. troops. In the Senate, only two Republicans joined the Democrats to approve a resolution calling for a timetable for withdrawal. In contrast, most Democrats maintain that U.S. power depends more on persuasion than coercion and needs to be exercised multilaterally. They want out of Iraq: 95 percent of House and Senate Democrats have voted to withdraw U.S. troops in 2008. With the Republicans opting for the use of force and the Democrats for international cooperation, the bipartisan compact between power and partnership -- the formula that brought liberal internationalism to life -- has come undone.

To be sure, the Republican Party is still home to a few committed multilateralists, such as Senators Richard Lugar (of Indiana) and Chuck Hagel (of Nebraska). But they are isolated within their own ranks. And some Democrats, especially those eyeing the presidency, are keen to demonstrate their resolve on matters of national defense. But the party leaders are being pushed to the left by increasingly powerful party activists. The ideological overlap between the two parties is thus minimal, and the areas of concord are superficial at best. Most Republicans and Democrats still believe that the United States has global responsibilities, but there is little agreement on how to match means and ends. And on the central question of power versus partnership, the two parties are moving in opposite directions -- with the growing gap evident among the public as well as political elites.

In a March 2007 Pew Research Center poll, over 70 percent of Republican voters maintained that "the best way to ensure peace is through military strength." Only 40 percent of Democratic voters shared that view. A similar poll conducted in 1999 revealed the same partisan split, making clear that the divide is not just about Bush's foreign policy but also about the broader purposes of U.S. power. The Iraq war has clearly widened and deepened ideological differences over the relative efficacy of force and diplomacy. One CNN poll recorded that after four years of occupying Iraq, only 24 percent of Republicans oppose the war, compared with more than 90 percent of Democrats. As for exporting American ideals, a June 2006 German Marshall Fund study found that only 35 percent of Democrats believed the United States should "help establish democracy in other countries," compared with 64 percent of Republicans. Similarly, a December 2006 CBS News poll found that two-thirds of Democrats believed the United States should "mind its own business internationally," whereas only one-third of Republicans held that view.

Fueled by these ideological divides, partisanship has engulfed Washington. According to one widely used index (Voteview), Congress today is more politically fractious and polarized than at any time in the last hundred years. After Democrats gained a majority in Congress in the 2006 midterm elections, many observers predicted that having one party control the White House and the other Congress would foster cooperation, as it often has in the past. Instead, the political rancor has only intensified. The White House, despite its initial pledge to work with the opposition, has continued its strident ways, dismissing the Democrats' call for a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq as a "game of charades." Just after capturing the House and the Senate, the Democrats also promised to reach across the aisle. But as soon as the 110th Congress opened, they gave Republicans a taste of their own medicine by preventing the minority party from amending legislation during the initial flurry of lawmaking.

The sources of this return to partisan rancor are international as well as domestic. Abroad, the demise of the Soviet Union and the absence of a new peer competitor have loosened Cold War discipline, leaving the country's foreign policy more vulnerable to the vicissitudes of party politics. The threat posed by international terrorism has proved too elusive and sporadic to act as the new unifier. Meanwhile, the United States' deepening integration into the world economy is producing growing disparities in wealth among Americans, creating new socioeconomic cleavages and eroding support for free trade.

Within the United States, the political conditions that once encouraged centrism have weakened. Regional tensions are making a comeback; "red" America and "blue" America disagree about what the nature of the country's engagement in the world should be as well as about domestic issues such as abortion, gun control, and taxes. Moderates are in ever shorter supply, resulting in the thinning out of what Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., aptly labeled "the vital center." Congressional redistricting, the proliferation of highly partisan media outlets, and the growing power of the Internet as a source of campaign financing and partisan mobilization have all contributed to the erosion of the center. A generational change has taken its toll, too. Almost 85 percent of the House was first elected in 1988 or after. The "greatest generation" is fast retiring from political life, taking with it decades of civic-minded service.

With the presidential campaign now building up to full speed and the domestic landscape already deeply etched along regional and ideological lines, the partisan confrontation is poised to intensify -- a recipe for political stalemate at home and failed leadership abroad.

RESTORING SOLVENCY

In the early twentieth century, deep partisan divisions produced unpredictable and dangerous swings in U.S. foreign policy and ultimately led to isolation from the world. A similar dynamic is unfolding at the beginning of the twenty-first century. The assertive unilateralism of the Bush administration is proving politically unsustainable. Eyeing the 2008 elections, the Democrats are readying ambitious plans to breathe new life into international institutions. But they, too, will find their preferred grand strategy politically unsustainable. The Republican Party, virtually bereft of its moderates after the 2006 elections, has little patience for cooperative multilateralism -- and will gladly deploy its power in the Senate to block any programmatic effort to bind Washington to international agreements and institutions. Especially amid the domestic acrimony spawned by the war in Iraq, partisanship and stalemate at home could once again obstruct U.S. statecraft, perhaps even provoking an unsteady retreat from abroad.

The U.S. electorate already appears to be heading in that direction. According to the December 2006 CBS News poll, 52 percent of all Americans thought the United States "should mind its own business internationally." Even in the midst of impassioned opposition to the Vietnam War, only 36 percent of Americans held such a view. Inward-looking attitudes are especially pronounced among younger Americans: 72 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds do not believe that the United States should take the lead in solving global crises. If Washington continues to pursue a grand strategy that exceeds its political means, isolationist sentiment among Americans is sure to grow.

The United States needs to pursue a new grand strategy that is politically solvent. In today's polarized landscape, with Democrats wanting less power projection and Republicans fewer international partnerships, restoring solvency means bringing U.S. commitments back in line with political means. Finding a new domestic equilibrium that guarantees responsible U.S. leadership in the world requires a strategy that is as judicious and selective as it is purposeful.

First, a solvent strategy would entail sharing more burdens with other states. Great powers have regularly closed the gap between resources and commitments by devolving strategic ties to local actors. The United States should use its power and good offices to catalyze greater self-reliance in various regions, as it has done in Europe. Washington should build on existing regional bodies by, for example, encouraging the Gulf Cooperation Council to deepen defense cooperation on the Arabian Peninsula, helping the African Union expand its capabilities, and supporting the Association of Southeast Asian Nations' efforts to build an East Asian security forum. Washington should urge the European Union to forge a more collective approach to security policy and assume greater defense burdens. The United States also ought to deepen its ties to emerging regional powers, such as Brazil, China, India, and Nigeria. Washington would then be able to better influence their behavior so that it complements rather than hinders U.S. objectives.

Second, where the war on terrorism is concerned, U.S. strategy should be to target terrorists rather than to call for regime change. This would mean focusing military efforts on destroying terrorist cells and networks while using political and economic tools to address the long-term sources of instability in the Middle East. Recognizing that reform in the Arab world will be slow in coming, Washington should pursue policies that patiently support economic development, respect for human rights, and religious and political pluralism. It should also fashion working partnerships with countries prepared to fight extremism. Pursuing regime change and radical visions of transforming the Middle East will only backfire and continue to overextend U.S. military power and political will.

Third, the United States must rebuild its hard power. To do so, Congress must allocate the funds necessary to redress the devastating effect of the Iraq war on the readiness, equipment, and morale of the U.S. armed forces. The Pentagon should also husband its resources by consolidating its 750 overseas bases. Although the United States must maintain the ability to project power on a global basis, it can reduce the drain on manpower by downsizing its forward presence and relying more heavily on prepositioned assets and personnel based in the United States.

Fourth, the United States should restrain adversaries through engagement, as many great powers in the past have frequently done. In the nineteenth century, Otto von Bismarck adeptly adjusted Germany's relations with Europe's major states to ensure that his country would not face a countervailing coalition. At the turn of the twentieth century, the United Kingdom successfully engaged the United States and Japan, dramatically reducing the costs of its overseas empire and enabling it to focus on dangers closer to home. In the early 1970s, Richard Nixon's opening to China substantially lightened the burden of Cold War competition. Washington should pursue similar strategies today, using shrewd diplomacy to dampen strategic competition with China, Iran, and other potential rivals. Should U.S. efforts be reciprocated, they promise to yield the substantial benefits that accompany rapprochement. If Washington is rebuffed, it can be sure to remain on guard and thereby avoid the risk of strategic exposure.

The fifth component of this grand strategy should be greater energy independence. The United States' oil addiction is dramatically constricting its geopolitical flexibility; playing guardian of the Persian Gulf entails onerous strategic commitments and awkward political alignments. Furthermore, high oil prices are encouraging producers such as Iran, Russia, and Venezuela to challenge U.S. interests. The United States must reduce its dependence on oil by investing in the development of alternative fuels and adopting a federally mandated effort to make cars more efficient.

Finally, the United States should favor pragmatic partnerships over the formalized international institutions of the Cold War era. To be sure, international collaboration continues to be in the United States' national interest. In some areas -- fighting climate change, facilitating international development, liberalizing international trade -- institutionalized cooperation is likely to endure, if not deepen. It is already clear, however, that congressional support for the fixed alliances and robust institutions that were created after World War II is quickly waning. Grand visions of a global alliance of democracies need to be tempered by political reality. Informal groupings, such as the "contact group" for the Balkans, the Quartet, the participants in the six-party talks on North Korea, and the EU-3/U.S. coalition working to rein in Iran's nuclear program, are rapidly becoming the most effective vehicles for diplomacy. In a polarized climate, less is more: pragmatic teamwork, flexible concerts, and task-specific coalitions must become the staples of a new brand of U.S. statecraft.

Far from being isolationist, this strategy of judicious retrenchment would guard against isolationist tendencies. In contrast, pursuing a foreign policy of excessive and unsustainable ambition would risk a political backlash that could produce precisely the turn inward that neither the United States nor the world can afford. The United States must find a stable middle ground between doing too much and doing too little.

BREAK ON THROUGH TO THE OTHER SIDE

Former Secretary of State Dean Acheson once claimed that 80 percent of the job of foreign policy was "management of your domestic ability to have a policy." He may have exaggerated, but he expressed an enduring truth: good policy requires good politics. Bringing ends and means back into balance would help restore the confidence of the American public in the conduct of U.S. foreign policy. But implementing a strategic adjustment will require dampening polarization and building a stable consensus behind it. As Roosevelt demonstrated during World War II, sound leadership and tireless public diplomacy are prerequisites for fashioning bipartisan cooperation on foreign policy.

The next president will have to take advantage of the discrete areas in which Democrats and Republicans can find common purpose. Logrolling may be necessary to circumvent gridlock and facilitate agreement. Evangelicals on the right and social progressives on the left can close ranks on climate change, human rights, and international development. Democrats might support free trade if Republicans are willing to invest in worker retraining programs. The desire of big business to preserve access to low-wage labor may be consistent with the interests of pro-immigration constituencies; building a bridge between the two groups would reconcile corporate interests in the North with immigrant interests in the Southwest. Democrats who support multilateralism on principle can team up with Republicans who support institutions as vehicles for sharing global burdens. Although these and other political bargains will not restore the bipartisan consensus of the Cold War era, they will certainly help build political support for a new, albeit more modest, grand strategy.

So will more efforts to reach across the congressional aisle. Roosevelt overcame the Republicans' opposition to liberal internationalism by reaching out to them, appointing prominent Republicans to key international commissions and working closely with Wendell Willkie, the candidate he defeated in the 1940 election, to combat isolationism. The next administration should follow suit, appointing pragmatic members of the opposition to important foreign policy posts and establishing a high-level, bipartisan panel to provide regular and timely input into policy deliberations. Form will be as important as substance as U.S. leaders search for a grand strategy that not only meets the country's geopolitical needs but also restores political solvency at home.

Congratulations to those who read it all!

 

tomahawk6

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Both authors are democrats living in their ivory tower. America in my opinion is alot more unified than the democrats/socialists want to admit. The voters are hanging tough on Iraq and illegal immigration. The democrats control Congress and 6 months into their term have passed none of the legislation that they promised the voters. The democrat strategy is to try to divide America and to pound out the theme that Bush is the great evil in the world and that if we would just communicate with the islamists then we could come to an agreement. Negotiating with bad guys from a position of weakness is a prescription for disaster. There are many modern day Neville Chamberlins but damn few Churchill's in the world. To fight an implacable enemy requires the will to win but all we hear from Washington's democrats and some republicans is doom and gloom. Iraq is a lost cause blah blah. The reality is that the democrats are invested in our defeat. If Petreaus reports in the fall real progress then the democrats lose politically.They cannot allow for a victory hence the constant efforts to defund the war. The Senate Majority leader is encouraged by some skittish republican senators and feels that he has the votes to defund the war.

Our troops are out on the frontline of the war on terror risking their lives all the while their politicians are busy undermining their efforts to protect the nation. This spectacle is disheartening and disgraceful.
 

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Tomahawk - well said - we too have 3 major defeatists up here

- Defeatist Number 1 - Jack Lay(down) Your Arms
- Defeatist Number 2 - Stephane (let someone else do the) Dion
- Defeatist Number 3 - Certain willfully mis informed and Spinning media channels - both electronic media and print - You'll ID them with these articles where the KIAs and the Mission are always praised then 1/3 of the way into the article "many critics say we should pull out." 
 

Edward Campbell

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tomahawk6 said:
... America in my opinion is alot more unified than the democrats/socialists want to admit ...

That would seem to be borne out by at least one opinion 'research' report which shows that:

1. Only 30% of Americans approve of President Bush's handing of the war;

2. Americans are evenly split on the question: was the decision to go to war in Iraq correct?

3. Less than 40% of Americans think things are going well in Iraq;

4. More than half of Americans want to bring the troops home now; and

5. Only 1/3 of Americans think the surge will make things better.

Maybe Americans are united, but not in the way one might wish.

 

tomahawk6

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I think the polls are slanted. If that many Americans opposed the war doe example where are the mass anti-war demonstrations ? If so few support the war then why are the democrats having a hard time forcing a troop withdrawal ? Finally many polls seem to show Congress with a much lower approval rating that the President. The MSN has been pounding Bush for six years now and yet the President seems to have enough political support to get his way on Iraq. It is not lost on the public that we have not had another terrorist attack - so Bush is keeping Americans safe which is really what leadership is all about.
 

Edward Campbell

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I don’t think that even the modest ‘agreements’  Kupchan and Trubowitz advocate as preliminary steps in the process of developing a (much needed, in my view) bipartisan Grand Strategy are possible now or even in the first term of the next administration.

My sense, an outsider’s ‘sense’ to be sure, is that the political divisions in America are, by and large, domestic – a battle for the ‘soul of America’ to be a bit dramatic.  Foreign policy and grand strategy are peripheral issues.

If the polls and reports I have read are anything like accurate then America is very hard for outsiders to interpret.  It is, uniquely in the West, a religious society.  There are inexact parallels (how’s that for a contradiction in terms?) with Japan where some Shinto* practices strongly influence domestic politics and foreign policy.

(Some commentators have suggested that only Muslim countries mix faith and politics so thoroughly.  I don’t accept that.  I don’t believe that most (even very many) Americans believe that the bible is a better political instrument than the US Constitution; I understand that most faithful, believing Muslims must believe that the Quran provides all the political guidance any state needs.)

But, Islam aside, public morality, legislated morality is an issue in the US to a degree that is difficult for foreigners to imagine.  For example: abortion and homosexual rights (both issues of ‘privacy’) are regarded as being both legally and socially ‘settled’ in Canada, Europe, Australia/New Zealand and parts of Asia; not so in the USA where a deeply rooted conservative (not, in any way neo-liberal) element wants to legislate individual liberty.

That, I think, is the issue with which Americans must come to grips, in their own internal political debates, during the next generation.  And, absent a major war, they will not, because they cannot, develop a bipartisan foreign policy and grand strategy until the domestic political divisions are resolved – one way or the other.

I think President Bush is right: Americans are “war weary” – just like Canadians.  America’s mythology says that when the US acts, solutions (victory, etc) follow along quite quickly.  Viet Nam is a festering exception that proves the rule: a long, long war which ended poorly.  Iraq is getting longer and longer and a mix of fatigue, disillusionment and fear of another Viet Name style failure are taking hold.

That war weariness does not help the Democrats in congress.  They now have their hands near the levers of power and most understand that their options are very limited.  The current ‘pull out’ resolutions are political posturing: Democrats doing to the Republicans and President Bush what Harper did to the Liberals with the Afghanistan mission extension decision – embarrassing them by highlighting their own internal divisions.  The congress is not going to cut off funding – its only meaningful (and immensely powerful) course of action – that would be a political ‘nuclear strike’ on the White House and it is politically unacceptable to most (enough, anyway) Americans.

Anyway: I agree with Kupchan and Trubowitz that a new, bipartisan grand strategy is necessary – not just for America, either.  I doubt it is possible until sometime after 2012, maybe even later, after some key domestic, social issues are sufficiently ‘settled’ to allow the political focus to be widened.

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* Shinto is, in my limited understanding, both more and less than a ‘religion’ as we tend to use that word.
 

GAP

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I essentially agree with what ER just said, with one exception..... That sometime in the near future there is not a strike at the US from outside....like 911, it will pull everybody together temporarily, and if it is bad enough, keep them there for a long while. The best thing AQ can do now is nothing.
 

tomahawk6

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Interesting ER. Whenever a democrat talks about bipartisanship it is a misnomer. If you look at the way they are operating in Washington today there is very little in the way of bipartisanship. If the democrats had enough votes as they do in the House to ram legislation through without republican support they do so. The democrats are socialists trying to spread their ideology and the majority of americans are not prepared to go down that road just yet. We see the failure of socialism in Europe and its something that isnt very attractive to the average american.

Right now most americans take positions on domestic issues from a religious perspective such as abortion and gay marriage. On gun issues its a matter of a right guaranteed under the constitution. The democrats see abortion as a civil right and do not extend that view to the right to bear arms - gun ownership. The democrats when given a chance believe in higher taxes which is the opposite view of many wage earners.

For me a winning strategy for foreign policy would be this - act always in America's national interest irregardless of the view of the rest of the world. Be prepared to act with or without allies. The democrats dont like military power and prefer to negotiate away the issues of the day. Its impossible to negotiate with stateless terrorists. I believe that negotiation is possible in many instances after you have secured the peace - meaning if you have killed enough of the bad guys to the point where they dont want to fight anymore. State sponsors of terrorism cannot be ignored they must be dealt with effectively and with a wide range of tools. As they are police states to one degree or another they can be destabilized and eventually overthrown. Iran for example lacks the ability to refine oil and must import gas this would be an ideal way to apply pressure to the regime. State sponsors of terrorism is the #1 national security issue and defeating terrorism is #2.
 

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I suspect that American opinion will fit rather neatly under a bell curve.  My guesstimate is that Tomahawk6 is over close to the right end – but by no means too near it, and Michael Moore, for example, is over towards the left end.

I’m guessing that most of those Americans who voted Democrat in the last election (pretty close in number to those who voted Republican at 39.6 vs 34.7 million, respectively) do not regard the Dems as being socialists.  I’m also guessing that only a minority of Republicans see the Dems as being socialists.

Caution, off topic:  I wonder how Americans will deal with David M. Walker, the Comptroller General of the United States and head of the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), and his ‘Fiscal Wake-up Tour.’  His numbers and the implications in them are frightening, to say the least and higher taxes and reduced expectations may not be negotiable.


Edit: hyperlink to Fiscal wake-up presentation - http://www.gao.gov/cghome/d061084cg.pdf
 

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A paper on the US National Security Strategy 2006 is attached. Prof is with DND's Strategic Policy Directorate.

Paper was part of a recently completed MA course in War Studies at Royal Military College. This is half paid by DND so here's your tax dollars coming back to you! :)

Extract

Bruce Berkowitz of the Hoover Institution  believes that in the face of a resilient threat the U.S. Government has to itself become quicker to adapt. He compares citizens of the old Soviet Union making jokes about how inept their government was but notes that the same jokes that used to be passed back to Washington are not heard from widespread support for the ideas of Islam confronting the west. He suggests there is a decades old real military limit to what the USA can bear which is on the order of 370 billion adjusted for inflation and when it gets to that level it declines by disengagement or a change of government at home. It happened with the abrupt cutoff of aid to England after the Second World War and in the mid 1970s in Vietnam. So in the end no perfect solution exists – and classic realism, means versus ends come back into vogue vs idealism – even the richest countries have limits. He offers some general principles to maintain a manageable engagement with the world:

“In sum, a strategy recognizing the need for sustainability would be developed consistent with these principles:

Know your long-term resources; aim for a concerted, sustained effort that is affordable and commands broad public support.

Be proactive in dealing with threats, even if this requires unilateral military measures; modest amounts of force now may avert the need for larger, unaffordable amounts of force later.

Be pragmatic in dealing with allies and potential coalition partners; don’t create unnecessary animosity, costs, or friction.
Yet be clear about the enduring values and goals the United States seeks. Officials need to be frank and sincere, not coy and calculating in public statements. We can trim our values from time to time when the situation demands, but officials need to be honest about it if they hope to keep public support.

Work as hard as necessary for a bipartisan consensus on long-term goals; the United States cannot maintain a predominance strategy based on 51 percent of the public as measured every four years on election day. Containment worked because it enjoyed broad support for many years.

Military power will be important, but soft power — American culture and international commerce — will, over time, have a greater effect in defeating or transforming our adversaries.

Like an expert mariner, the United States needs to ride these tides — which do run in our favor — so that we can reach our destination efficiently and assuredly. Maintaining our predominance requires a deft touch. Achieving this level of sophistication in U.S. strategy and policy may be the greatest challenge of all.”

Full paper at link
 

tomahawk6

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The vote tally was Bush - 60,693,281 which was 51% of the vote. Kerry had 57,355,978 or 48% of the vote. If you look at the state by state results you see the strength of the democrats. You are right I am a conservative which to the moonbats on the left make me something akin to Atilla. ;D

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:US_presidential_election_2004_map.svg
 

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Army.ca veterans will not be surprised to know that I agree, again, with Timothy Garton Ash.  Here, reproduced under the Fair Dealing provisions (§29) of the Copyright Act from today’s Globe and Mail is his latest:

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20070719.wcoash0720/BNStory/specialComment/home
Iraq is over. Iraq has not yet begun
The public wants the boys to come home, but the war's consequences will still range from bad to catastrophic

TIMOTHY GARTON ASH

From Friday's Globe and Mail
July 20, 2007 at 12:00 AM EDT

STANFORD, CALIF. — What conclusions can be drawn from the American debate about Iraq, which dominates the media here to the exclusion of almost any other foreign story?

First, that Iraq is over, in that American public has decided that most U.S. troops should leave. In a Gallup poll earlier this month, 71 per cent favoured "removing all U.S. troops from Iraq by April 1 of next year, except for a limited number that would be involved in counter-terrorism efforts." CNN's veteran political analyst Bill Schneider observes that in the latter years of the Vietnam War, the American public's attitude could be summarized as "either win or get out." He argues it's the same with Iraq. Despite President George W. Bush's increasingly desperate pleas, most Americans have concluded America is not winning. So: Get out.

Since this is a democracy, their elected representatives are following the people. Whatever the result of the latest round of congressional position play — which included an all-night marathon on the floor of the Senate from Tuesday to Wednesday, as Democrats attempted to outface a Republican filibuster — no one in Washington doubts this is the way the wind blows.

Publicly, there's still a sharp split along party lines, but leading Republicans are already breaking ranks to float their own phased troop reductions and proposals for partitioning Iraq among Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds.

Mr. Bush says he's determined to give the commanding general in Iraq, David Petraeus, exactly the troop levels he asks for when he reports back this September, and the White House may hold the line for now against a Democrat-controlled Congress. Leading Republican contenders for the presidency are still talking tough. However, the most outspoken protagonist of hanging in there to win in Iraq, John McCain, has seen his campaign nosedive. Even if the next president is a hard-line Republican, all the current Washington betting will be confounded if he does not, at the very least, rapidly reduce the number of U.S. troops in Iraq. After all, that's what the American people plainly say they want.

The American people's verdict is remarkably sharp on other aspects of the Iraq debacle. Asked who they blamed most for the current situation in Iraq, 40 per cent of those polled for Newsweek said the White House and another 13 per cent said Congress. In a poll for CNN, 54 per cent said the U.S. action in Iraq is not morally justified. In one for CBS, 51 per cent endorsed the assessment — shared by most of the experts — that involvement in Iraq is creating more terrorists hostile to the United States, rather than reducing their number. If once Americans were blind, they now can see. For all its plenitude of faith, this is a reality-based nation.

So Iraq is over. But the second conclusion is that Iraq has not yet begun. Not yet begun in terms of the consequences for Iraq itself, the Middle East, the United States' own foreign policy and its reputation in the world. The most probable consequence of rapid U.S. withdrawal from Iraq in its present condition is a further bloodbath, with even larger refugee flows and the effective dismemberment of the country. Already some two million Iraqis have fled across the borders and more than two million are internally displaced.

Now a pained and painstaking study from the Brookings Institution argues that what its authors call "soft partition" — involving the peaceful, voluntary transfer of an estimated two million to five million Iraqis into distinct Kurdish, Sunni and Shia regions, under close U.S. military supervision — would be the lesser evil. The lesser evil, that is, assuming that all goes according to plan and that the American public are prepared to allow their troops to stay in sufficient numbers to accomplish that thankless job: two implausible assumptions. A greater evil is more likely.

For the United States, the world is now, as a result of the Iraq war, a more dangerous and hostile place. At the end of 2002, what is sometimes tagged al-Qaeda Central in Afghanistan had been virtually destroyed and there was no al-Qaeda in Iraq. In 2007, there is an al-Qaeda in Iraq, parts of the old al-Qaeda are creeping back into Afghanistan, and there are al-Qaeda emulator-groupuscules spawning elsewhere, notably in Europe. The U.S. government's own latest national intelligence estimate, released earlier this week, suggests al-Qaeda in Iraq is now among the most significant threats to the security of the American homeland.

America has probably not yet fully woken up to the appalling fact that, after a long period in which the first motto of its military was "no more Vietnams," it faces another Vietnam. There are many important differences, of course, but the basic result is similar: The mightiest military in the world fails to achieve its strategic goals, and is, in the end, politically defeated by an economically and technologically inferior adversary. Even if there are no scenes of helicopters evacuating Americans from a flat roof of the U.S. embassy in Baghdad, there will surely be some totemic image of national humiliation as the military struggles to extract its troops and all the equipment it has poured into Iraq. Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo have done terrible damage to America's reputation for being humane; this defeat will convince more people around the world that it is not even that powerful. And Osama bin Laden, still alive, will claim another victory over the death-fearing weaklings of the West.

In history, the most important consequences are often the unintended ones. We do not yet know the longer-term unintended consequences of Iraq. Maybe there is a silver lining hidden somewhere in this cloud. But so far as the human eye can see, the likely consequences of Iraq range from the bad to the catastrophic.

Timothy Garton Ash is a professor of European studies at St. Antony's College, Oxford

I need to begin by saying that despite my reservations about attacking Iraq at all (I would have preferred Saudi Arabia if we had to go after the good ol’ root causes) had I been prime minister of Canada we would have been ‘in’ – part of Operation Iraqi Freedom, despite Canadians’ very real opposition, because I would have valued Western solidarity higher than my (and my fellow citizens’) concerns about George W Bush’s strategic grasp.  Australia and Britain made the strategically ‘right’ choice; Canada and France did not.  Australia and Britain now regret their choices, right as they may have been, Canada and France do not.

I think the ‘meat’ is in the penultimate paragraph.  America’s soft power which is, unlike Canada’s, real and great is badly damaged.  The American military’s capability to defeat almost anyone, almost anywhere, quickly and thoroughly is mostly unimpaired.  America’s capability to ‘lead’ in the world is taking a hit.  America’s ‘strategic judgement’ is open to serious question. 

Asia, beginning with India and Japan, is slipping, visibly, away from America – not towards China or anyone else, but, rather, into their own, regional ‘orbits,’ less tightly tied to America.  They will remain allies but more independent allies.  The so-called ‘quad’ is necessary to ‘balance’ China’s growing soft power which is markedly enhanced by America’s current problems.

 

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I’m resurrecting an old thread because I think this relates to grand strategy.

Here, reproduced under the Fair Dealing provisions (§29) of the Copyright Act from today’s Ottawa Citizen, is a column by the CanWest chain’s George Jonas:

http://www.canada.com/ottawacitizen/news/opinion/story.html?id=3edf0a6b-e292-4f71-ab5e-e7c3357ab829
George Jonas .
The duties of empire


George Jonas, The National Post

Published: Monday, March 03, 2008

Why are western military coalitions participating in the civil wars of the Hindu Kush and the Balkans? A partial answer: Entropy. We're in Afghanistan and Kosovo because - as they used to say in the old days - nature abhors a vacuum.

Empire wasn't the direction in which the world seemed to be heading as the 19th century turned into the 20th. On the contrary, old empires were ascending their funeral pyres, with independent nations, newly created or resurrected from history, rising phoenix-like from their ashes.

The first to self-immolate was the Ottoman Empire, soon followed by the Romanov (Russian), Hohenzollern (German) and Habsburg (Austro- Hungarian) Empires. The Second World War did away with the nascent imperiums of the Japanese, the Italians and the Third Reich.

In the postwar years the sun finally set on the British Empire, along with remnants of Belgian, Dutch, Portuguese and French imperial holdings from Southeast Asia to North Africa. The last to implode was the Soviet Empire, which collapsed in 1991. The period of empires seemed to be over.

Even confederations withered. Early in the 20th century the Scandinavian attempt at union ended in the divorce of Norway and Sweden. Arab experiments fared no better - the United Arab Republic barely lasted three years, before Syria jumped ship - nor did Slavic unions survive in Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, or the former Soviet Union. Czechs, Slovaks, Croatians, Serbians, Bosnians, Russians, Ukrainians, Byelorussians, etc., reverted to ethnic nationhood, while elsewhere, Tamil, Basque, Chechen and Kurdish nations tried to bomb themselves into being.

But there was also a counter-trend emerging. Many post-colonial nations had trouble with self-government. Some countries couldn't get a grip on, look after, or come to terms with themselves or their neighbours. They were engaging in bloody squabbles next door and in deadly civil wars inside their own borders. The latter sometimes amounted to genocide, as in the Hutu-Tutsi conflict in Rwanda. Many countries permitted themselves to be taken over by the most horrid dictators, unbalanced tyrants of the Idi Amin class, worse than their former imperial masters.

The United Nations, which was supposed to step into the breach, did not. The world body excelled only in posturing and dithering, whether under its furtive and indecisive Egyptian former secretary-general Boutros Boutros-Ghali, or his Ghanaian successor, the magisterially ineffectual Kofi Annan.

If Le Corbusier's architectural marvel in New York proved anything, it was that while being set loose in general assemblies can't turn hogs into humans, herds of swine, such as Third World dictatorships, can reduce lofty buildings to pigsties.

Strong and mature nations have had it with weak and immature nations, but more importantly, weak and immature nations have had it with themselves. The unforeseen situation that developed in the past 30 years saw the emergence of an inchoate yearning for big-power protection around the globe. Revealingly, while existing confederations (Belgium, Canada) teetered on the brink of secession, multicultural "Europe" emerged as a super-state.

By the 1980s, emergency response became essentially America's call, aided by some NATO countries. U.S. president Ronald Reagan responded in Grenada and Panama; British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in the Falklands; George Bush (the First) in Kuwait, the French on the Ivory Coast, the British in Sierra Leone. NATO intervened in Kosovo; George Bush (the Second) in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Even President Bill Clinton, much as he disdained projecting America's power in theory, found himself obliged to intervene in Bosnia, Somalia, Kosovo and Haiti. And, arguably, one of the worst blemishes on his foreign policy was his failure to intervene in Rwanda - a failure that resulted in an estimated hundreds of thousands dead.

Today, the world is crying out for big-power intervention. Paraphilia for colonization or re-colonization is the love that dare not speak its name - if anything, the rhetoric goes the other way - but the desire is plain. Countries unable to feed or govern themselves are looking to be rescued. The process accelerated in the last 18 years, with invitations to interfere, spoken or unspoken, from fratricidal Bosnia, Taliban-contested Afghanistan, war-torn Liberia, ethnically cleansed Kosovo, starving Somalia, oppressed Zimbabwe, or genocidal East Timor (where Australia found it advisable to land a small contingent only a few days ago to restore order after an attempted coup).

The collapse of the old world order created a vacuum - a black hole, really. It's a parallel universe, with all the duties of empire and none of its privileges. Riding America's coattails, Canada is being sucked into it.

George Jonas writes for the National Post.

© The Ottawa Citizen 2008

His seven paragraph history of the 20th century (”Empire wasn't the direction ... herds of swine, such as Third World dictatorships, can reduce lofty buildings to pigsties.”) ought to be required reading in all high-schools and ought to be committed to memory by all journalists.

Sadly, his deductions are a little weak.

It is true that “Strong and mature nations have had it with weak and immature nations, but more importantly, weak and immature nations have had it with themselves.” See, also: Robert Calderisi’s The Trouble with Africa (New York, 2006) for an insider’s view of the world from the point of view of the Weak and immature world. What is not true is that ”emergency response became essentially America's call”. What happened is that, post 1945, the world called out to America, seeking demanding help and America, usually reluctantly,* answered. 20th century America, like 18th century Britain, may have, absent-mindedly, stumbled into empire, but it, from Truman through Bush, did not seek one.

Canada is, as Jonas puts it, being sucked into a strategic black-hole, but we are not riding America’s coattails, at least not at America’s bidding. We chose to be a junior partner to the USA, in Ogdensburg, in 1940. About ten years later we assumed a realistic ’leading middle power’ role but we abandoned that after only twenty years. Thirty-five years later (under Prime Minister Paul Martin) Canada tried to enunciate a renewed ’leading middle power’ role but Mr. Martin’s government was short-lived and his successor has been less interested in such foreign policy declarations. We set our own course, in 1940 and again in 1970, and, despite our attempts to isolate ourselves from the world and its great issues, we are being sucked into the vortex, despite, not with, America.


----------
* The Kennedy (1961-63) and Bush (2001-2009) administrations being the activist exceptions
 

Greymatters

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It cannot be denied that the general public is likely highly confused by such insightful articles.  There have been at least three 'marketing' efforts over the past 5 years to convince the public that the US has a victory in Iraq.  Many leaders have been quoted as saying 'we are winning' or 'we have won'.  What is the public to think when articles like this come out and declare the problems are worse than when Iraq started?

It seems like the first thing to resolve, before trying to come up with solutions (good or bad as some of them may be), is whether the US leadership can agree on whether the battle has been won or lost and whether the enemy (along with which enemy) has been defeated.

 

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I’m bringing an old tired thread to life because the G8 is part of our (America's and Canada's) grand strategy for the 21st century.

This opinion piece, reproduced under the Fair Dealing provisions (§29) of the Copyright Act from today’s Globe and Mail, by former Ambassador to NATO and Ottawa insider/heavy hitter Gordon Smith deserves some attention:

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20080709.wcosummit10/BNStory/specialComment/home
We either lead, or we get left

GORDON SMITH

From Thursday's Globe and Mail
July 9, 2008 at 9:07 PM EDT

Canadian prime ministers have been part of the summit process now known as the G8 for two decades. This has allowed us to punch above our weight – something that may not be the case for much longer.

In an article on who should be at the summits, and who should not, the Forbes website stated: “Though it currently ranks near the top of the G8 in job growth and currency stability, the outlook for Canada as an economic world power is somewhat grim. It's losing manufacturing jobs to emerging markets in India, Mexico and Brazil, which will soon vault over Canada in the world GDP rankings. Canada's membership in the G8 makes the exclusion of those more prosperous nations even more egregious.”

Then, of course, there is China.

One of two things is likely to happen. The first is that the feeling that the wrong countries are meeting will develop to such a point that the summit will be reconstituted ab initio. Several countries will be dropped – Canada and Italy are the top candidates; others will be added, with China, India and Brazil the bare minimum.

The second possibility is that the +5 or Outreach 5 (Brazil, China, India, Mexico and South Africa) will be added as full-time members. This is the position of President Nicolas Sarkozy of France and Prime Minister Gordon Brown of Britain. The French President has gone one step further, suggesting that an Islamic Arab country also should be added.

Another leader who has spoken of the need to grow summit membership is President Dmitry Medvedev of Russia. The group's enlargement, beyond Russia's inclusion a decade ago, has not occurred as a result of opposition by the United States, and also by Japan. Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany also hasn't been enthusiastic at the prospect.

The U.S. position, however, is about to change.

Republican presidential candidate John McCain advocates dropping Russia from the G8 and creating a concert or league of democracies. While the idea of sitting only with other democracies may sound agreeable, it is hardly the way to break major global deadlocks. The countries that count must be around the table.

For his part, Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama understands the need for the leaders of key countries to be at the table. He has proposed precisely this to deal with the challenges of climate change.

The heads of China, India, Brazil, Mexico and South Africa are becoming increasingly frustrated by their roles at summits. They have now taken to meeting on their own, mirroring the heads of the G8 countries. This is half the world's population. What this leads to is the G8 coming up with a position on a critical issue like climate change, then trying to sell it to the others.

It doesn't work very well. The leaders of the five countries don't want to be treated as second-class citizens.

Who can blame them?

As the world becomes increasingly interdependent, a “steering committee” is required. The G8 has been too slow to recognize the new realities of the world; we are very close to institutionalizing a G5 alongside the G8. This division is the last thing we need. Instead, we need to engage key countries in an equal manner in solving global problems.

Canada has long prided itself on being a leader in building international institutions and, more broadly, an international order. The summit in Japan is now history. The next summit in Italy will be very important. A new U.S. president will be there, probably with other new faces around the world.

President Sarkozy has said the +5 countries will be included for a full time, not just “for dessert,” as was the case. This will give Canada the opportunity to go all the way in 2010. We took a leadership role in bringing Russia in. Now, the same needs to be done for China, India, Mexico, Brazil and South Africa. As well, there probably should be an Islamic Arab country – Egypt, perhaps?

If we don't help reconstruct the summit architecture, we soon may find there's no longer space for us in the building.

Gordon Smith directs a research project on summit reform at the Centre for Global Studies at the University of Victoria.

Canada (and the whole G7) was wrong to invite Russia in; it is neither a major economy nor a world leader in much of anything.

There are a few sensible options, including:

• The McCain plan – limit the Gn to functioning democracies that are, also, strong, important global economies. That probably shuts Russia out (as it should be) keeps Canada in and makes room inside the wire for Australia and India and, perhaps, Brazil. This makes the Gn something akin to the Anglosphere+ that some, here on Army.ca,  have advocated as a new global ‘strategic planning group;’

• Reduce the Gn to a ‘sensible’ few: perhaps only those with GDPs above, say, $3 Trillion - America, China, Germany and Japan. This returns the Gn to its original, economic, focus;

• Reduce the Gn to a few ‘blocks:’ the EU (GDP=$15+ Trillion), NAFTA (GDP=$15+ Trillion) and ASEAN + China, India, Japan and South Korea (GDP=$10+ Trillion) (that’s $40± Trillion out of a global GDP of $55± Trillion). This also returns the Gn to its original focus but recognizes the current realities and broadens the base.

Personally, I prefer the last but I’m guessing that the first is the more likely. In fact, I suspect that the Sarkozy plan will succeed: expel no one, ever, just enlarge and enlarge until the Gn becomes a huge, loose, amorphous and quite useless mass.
 

a_majoor

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You have hit the nail on the head once again Edward. Why we are in the G8 is somewhat embarrassing to begin with, Canada wasn't invited because of our stirling properties or vast economic and military strength but mostly to provide some extra North American "weight" for the United States to counterbalance an otherwise Eurocentric organization.

If we do need a Gn, then lets focus first on what the purpose of the organization actually is, then look for suitable candidates. There is no reason to be too bent out of shape if some nation or group (or ourselves) is excluded from the Gn, our dealings with that nation or block would probably be expedited by membership in a different forum, or simply through bilateral agreements.

By this reasoning, Canada should be a member of the Anglosphere group, a mamber of the Gn bloc encompassing North America or perhaps the Americas, and NATO or whatever successor organization that arises for collective security of the West (and as Iran gets closer to gaining nuclear and long range missile capabilities, the need to refocus on the collective security of Europe and the Americas as the "West" will only grow). Large amorphus groups with no real focus (like the proposed Gn that includes an Islamic Arab country as window dressing) should be avoided as a waste of time and resources.
 

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The surge in Iraq has clearly worked and the Iraqi security forces have made great strides.As Iraq winds down this should enable the US to deploy additional forces to Afghanistan.

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/iraq/article4276486.ece

American and Iraqi forces are driving Al-Qaeda in Iraq out of its last redoubt in the north of the country in the culmination of one of the most spectacular victories of the war on terror.

After being forced from its strongholds in the west and centre of Iraq in the past two years, Al-Qaeda’s dwindling band of fighters has made a defiant “last stand” in the northern city of Mosul.

A huge operation to crush the 1,200 fighters who remained from a terrorist force once estimated at more than 12,000 began on May 10.

Operation Lion’s Roar, in which the Iraqi army combined forces with the Americans’ 3rd Armoured Cavalry Regiment, has already resulted in the death of Abu Khalaf, the Al-Qaeda leader, and the capture of more than 1,000 suspects.

The group has been reduced to hit-and-run attacks, including one that killed two off-duty policemen yesterday, and sporadic bombings aimed at killing large numbers of officials and civilians.

Last Friday I joined the 2nd Iraqi Division as it supported local police in a house-to-house search for one such bomb after intelligence pointed to a large explosion today.

Even in the district of Zanjali, previously a hotbed of the insurgency, it was possible to accompany an Iraqi colonel on foot through streets of breeze-block houses studded with bullet holes. Hundreds of houses were searched without resistance but no bomb was found, only 60kg of explosives.

American and Iraqi leaders believe that while it would be premature to write off Al-Qaeda in Iraq, the Sunni group has lost control of its last urban base in Mosul and its remnants have been largely driven into the countryside to the south.

Nouri al-Maliki, Iraq’s prime minister, who has also led a crackdown on the Shi’ite Mahdi Army in Basra and Baghdad in recent months, claimed yesterday that his government had “defeated” terrorism.

“They were intending to besiege Baghdad and control it,” Maliki said. “But thanks to the will of the tribes, security forces, army and all Iraqis, we defeated them.”

The number of foreign fighters coming over the border from Syria to bolster Al-Qaeda’s numbers is thought to have declined to as few as 20 a month, compared with 120 a month at its peak.

Brigadier General Abdullah Abdul, a senior Iraqi commander, said: “We’ve limited their movements with check-points. They are doing small attacks and trying big ones, but they’re mostly not succeeding.”

Major-General Mark Hertling, American commander in the north, said: “I think we’re at the irreversible point.”
 

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If in the long term the American political class loose their will or focus, this might forecast the outcome:

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/16/opinion/16friedman.html?em&ex=1216440000&en=d77cee3b3772836d&ei=5087%0A

So Popular and So Spineless
By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN

Much ink has been spilled lately decrying the decline in American popularity around the world under President Bush. Polls tell us how China is now more popular in Asia than America and how few Europeans say they identify with the United States. I am sure there is truth to these polls. We should have done better in Iraq. An America that presides over Abu Ghraib, torture and Guantánamo Bay deserves a thumbs-down.

But America is not and never has been just about those things, which is why I also find some of these poll results self-indulgent, knee-jerk and borderline silly. Friday’s vote at the U.N. on Zimbabwe reminded me why.

Maybe Asians, Europeans, Latin Americans and Africans don’t like a world of too much American power — “Mr. Big” got a little too big for them. But how would they like a world of too little American power? With America’s overextended military and overextended banks, that is the world into which we may be heading.

Welcome to a world of too much Russian and Chinese power.

I am neither a Russia-basher nor a China-basher. But there was something truly filthy about Russia’s and China’s vetoes of the American-led U.N. Security Council effort to impose targeted sanctions on Robert Mugabe’s ruling clique in Zimbabwe.

The U.S. put forward a simple Security Council resolution, calling for an arms embargo on Zimbabwe, the appointment of a U.N. mediator, plus travel and financial restrictions on the dictator Mugabe and 13 top military and government officials for stealing the Zimbabwe election and essentially mugging an entire country in broad daylight.

In the first round of Zimbabwe’s elections, on March 29, the opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, won nearly 48 percent of the vote compared with 42 percent for Mugabe. This prompted Mugabe and his henchmen to begin a campaign of killing and intimidation against Tsvangirai supporters that eventually forced the opposition to pull out of the second-round runoff vote just to stay alive.

Even before the runoff, Mugabe declared that he would disregard the results if his ZANU-PF party lost. Or as he put it: “We are not going to give up our country because of a mere X” on some paper ballot.

And so, of course, Mugabe “won” in one of the most blatantly stolen elections ever — in a country already mired in misrule, unemployment, hunger and inflation. Some 25 percent of Zimbabwe’s people have now taken refuge in neighboring states. (I have close friends from Zimbabwe, and one of my daughters worked there in an H.I.V.-AIDS community center in January.) The Associated Press reported in May from Zimbabwe “that annual inflation rose this month to 1,063,572 percent, based on prices of a basket of basic foodstuffs.” Zimbabwe’s currency has become so devalued, the A.P. explained, that “a loaf of bread now costs what 12 new cars did a decade ago.”

No matter. Vitaly Churkin, Russia’s U.N. ambassador, argued that the targeted sanctions that the U.S. and others wanted to impose on Mugabe’s clique exceeded the Security Council’s mandate. “We believe such practices to be illegitimate and dangerous,” he said, describing the resolution as one more obvious “attempt to take the Council beyond its charter prerogatives.” Veto!

Mugabe’s campaign of murder and intimidation didn’t strike Churkin as “illegitimate and dangerous” — only the U.N. resolution to bring a halt to it was “illegitimate and dangerous.” Shameful. Meanwhile, China is hosting the Olympics, a celebration of the human spirit, while defending Mugabe’s right to crush his own people’s spirit.

But when it comes to pure, rancid moral corruption, no one can top South Africa’s president, Thabo Mbeki, and his stooge at the U.N., Dumisani Kumalo. They have done everything they can to prevent any meaningful U.N. pressure on the Mugabe dictatorship.

As The Times reported, America’s U.N. ambassador, Zalmay Khalilzad, “accused South Africa of protecting the ‘horrible regime in Zimbabwe,’ ” calling this particularly disturbing given that it was precisely international economic sanctions that brought down South Africa’s apartheid government, which had long oppressed that country’s blacks.

So let us now coin the Mbeki Rule: When whites persecute blacks, no amount of U.N. sanctions is too much. And when blacks persecute blacks, any amount of U.N. sanctions is too much.

Which brings me back to America. Perfect we are not, but America still has some moral backbone. There are travesties we will not tolerate. The U.N. vote on Zimbabwe demonstrates that this is not true for these “popular” countries — called Russia or China or South Africa — that have no problem siding with a man who is pulverizing his own people.

So, yes, we’re not so popular in Europe and Asia anymore. I guess they would prefer a world in which America was weaker, where leaders with the values of Vladimir Putin and Thabo Mbeki had a greater say, and where the desperate voices for change in Zimbabwe would, well, just shut up.

The "Grand Strategy" need not be completely "Wilsonian" in character, and I think most Americans recognize that targetted interventions in the mode of the "Bush Doctrine" need not lead to quagmires or the Jacksonian "Terrible Swift Sword" (especially now that the American military seems to have relearned the lessons of the long ago Moro Rebellion and the "Indian Wars").  On the other hand, a retreat into Isolationism will lead to terrible results around the world, and certainly be no blessing to us (consider how authoratarian regimes view property rights and contract law, and ask if Canada can exist as a global trading nation in these shark infested waters?).

How strange this isn't the topic of much greater discussion in the United States (especially in an election year)
 

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More on the alternative world where autocratic and authoritarian Powers have greater sway in global affairs:

http://www.nationalpost.com/news/world/story.html?id=675322

Hugs For Thugs

Russia and China don't care much about democracy and human rights. Their no-questions-asked foreign policy is drawing in some of the world's nastiest tyrants

Robert Kagan,  National Post  Published: Thursday, July 24, 2008

It is a mistake to believe that autocracy has no international appeal. Thanks to decades of remarkable growth, the Chinese today can argue that their model of economic development, which combines an increasingly open economy with a closed political system, can be a successful option for development in many nations. It certainly offers a model for successful autocracy, a blueprint for how to create wealth and stability without having to give way to political liberalization. Russia's model of "sovereign democracy" is attractive among the autocrats of Central Asia. Some Europeans worry that Russia is "emerging as an ideological alternative to the EU that offers a different approach to sovereignty, power and world order."

In the 1980s and 1990s, the autocratic model seemed like a losing proposition as dictatorships of both right and left fell before the liberal tide. Today, thanks to the success of China and Russia, it looks like a better bet.

China and Russia may no longer actively export an ideology, but they can and do offer autocrats somewhere to run when the democracies turn hostile. When Iran's relations with Europe plummeted in the 1990s after its clerics issued a fatwa calling for the death of Salman Rushdie, the influential Iranian leader Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani made a point of noting how much easier it is to maintain good relations with a nation like China. When the dictator of Uzbekistan came under criticism in 2005 from the administration of George W. Bush for violently suppressing an opposition rally, he responded by joining the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and moving closer to Moscow. The Chinese provide unfettered aid to dictatorships in Africa and Asia, undermining the efforts of the "international community" to press for reforms -- which in practical terms often means regime change -- in countries such as Burma and Zimbabwe.

Americans and Europeans may grumble, but autocracies are not in the business of overthrowing other autocrats at the democratic world's insistence. The Chinese, who used deadly force to crack down on student demonstrators not so long ago, will hardly help the West remove a government in Burma for doing the same thing. Nor will they impose conditions on aid to African nations to demand political and institutional reforms they have no intention of carrying out in China. In the great schism between democracy and autocracy, the autocrats share common interests and a common view of international order.

In fact, a global competition is under way. According to Russia's foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, "For the first time in many years, a real competitive environment has emerged on the market of ideas [between different] value systems and development models." And the good news, from the Russian point of view, is that "the West is losing its monopoly on the globalization process."

This comes as a surprise to a democratic world that believed such competition ended when the Berlin Wall fell. The world's democracies do not regard their own efforts to support democracy and Enlightenment principles abroad as an aspect of a geopolitical competition, because they do not see "competing truths," only "universal values." As a result, they are not always conscious of how they use their wealth and power to push others to accept their values and principles. In their own international institutions and alliances, they demand strict fidelity to liberal democratic principles. Before opening their doors to new members, and before providing the vast benefits that membership offers in terms of wealth and security, they demand that nations who want to enter the EU or NATO open up their economies and political systems. When the Georgian president called a state of emergency at the end of 2007, he damaged Georgia's chances of entering NATO and the EU anytime soon. As a result, Georgia may now live precariously in the nether region between Russian autocracy and European liberalism. Eventually, if the democracies turn their backs on Georgia, it may have no choice but to accommodate Moscow.

This competition is not quite the Cold War redux. It is more like the 19th-century redux. In the 19th century, the absolutist rulers of Russia and Austria shored up fellow autocracies in post-revolutionary France and used force to suppress liberal rebellions in Germany, Poland, Italy and Spain. Palmerston's Britain used British power to aid liberals on the continent; the United States cheered on liberal revolutions in Hungary and Germany, and expressed outrage when Russian troops suppressed liberal forces in Poland. Today, Ukraine has already been a battleground between forces supported by the West and forces supported by Russia and could well be a battleground again in the future. Georgia could be another.

It may not come to war, but the global competition between democratic and autocratic governments will become a dominant feature of the 21st-century world. The great powers are increasingly choosing up sides and identifying themselves with one camp or the other. India, which during the Cold War was proudly neutral or even pro-Soviet, has begun to identify itself as part of the democratic West. Japan in recent years has also gone out of its way to position itself as a democratic great power.

There is no perfect symmetry in international affairs. The twin realities of the present era -- great power competition and the contest between democracy and autocracy -- will not always produce the same alignments. Democratic India in its geopolitical competition with autocratic China supports the Burmese dictatorship in order to deny Beijing a strategic advantage. India's diplomats enjoy playing the other great powers off against each other, sometimes warming to Russia, sometimes to China. Democratic Greece and Cyprus pursue close relations with Russia partly out of cultural solidarity with Eastern Orthodox cousins but more out of economic interest. The United States has long allied itself to Arab dictatorships for strategic and economic reasons, as well as to successive military rulers in Pakistan. Just as during the Cold War, strategic and economic considerations, as well as cultural affinities, may often cut against ideology.

But in today's world, a nation's form of government, not its "civilization" or its geographical location, may be the best predictor of its geopolitical alignment. Asian democracies today line up with European democracies against Asian autocracies. Chinese observers see a "V-shaped belt" of pro-American democratic powers "stretching from Northeast to Central Asia." When the navies of India, the United States, Japan, Australia and Singapore exercised in the Bay of Bengal last year, Chinese and other observers referred to it as the "axis of democracy." Japan's prime minister spoke of an "Asian arc of freedom and prosperity" stretching from Japan to Indonesia to India.

Russian officials profess to be "alarmed" that NATO and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe are "reproducing a bloc policy" not unlike that of the Cold War era. But the Russians themselves refer to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization as an "anti-NATO" alliance and a "Warsaw Pact 2." When the Shanghai Cooperation Organization met last year, it brought together five autocracies -- China, Russia, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Tajikistan--as well as Iran.

The divisions between the United States and its European allies that opened wide after the invasion of Iraq are being overshadowed by these more fundamental geopolitical divisions, and especially by growing tensions between the democratic transatlantic alliance and autocratic Russia. European attitudes toward Russia are hardening. But so are European attitudes toward China: Polls show that in Britain, Germany, France and Spain, China's image has been plummeting in recent years. Only 34% of Germans had a favourable view of Beijing in 2007, which may explain why Chancellor Angela Merkel felt free to incur China's ire last year by meeting with the Dalai Lama.

This does not mean Americans and Europeans will agree on how best to handle relations with Moscow or Beijing. China is well beyond Europe's daily strategic concern, and Europeans are therefore more inclined to accommodate China's rise than are Americans, Indians or Japanese. When it comes to Russia, Europeans may want to pursue an accommodating Ostpolitik, as they did during the Cold War, rather than a more confrontational American style approach. Nevertheless, the trends in Europe are toward greater democratic solidarity.

The question is: How long will the Middle East remain the exception to this pattern? It is possible that, over time, autocracies such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia may see virtue in drawing closer to their fellow autocrats in Moscow and Beijing. It is also possible that a more democratic Lebanon, a more democratic Iraq and a more democratic Morocco may form a new bloc of pro-American democracies in the region, alongside the more moderate, democratizing autocracies of Kuwait, Jordan and Bahrain.

The global divisions between the club of autocrats and the axis of democracy have broad implications for the international system. Is it possible any longer to speak of an "international community"? The term implies agreement on international norms of behaviour, an international morality, even an international conscience. Today, the world's major powers lack such a common understanding. On the large strategic questions, such as whether to intervene or impose sanctions or attempt to isolate nations diplomatically, there is no longer an international community to be summoned or led. - Excerpted from The Return Of History And The End Of Dreams by Robert Kagan. Copyright 2008 by Robert Kagan. Reprinted with permission from the publisher Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc.

Copyright © 2007 CanWest Interactive, a division of CanWest MediaWorks Publications, Inc.. All rights reserved.

There actually never was an "international community" to be summoned or led, and there will not be one in the near future, fantasies about international law etc. notwithstanding.
 
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