Archive for Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Rice is wrong; the world isn’t getting safer

June 13, 2007

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Will Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice cheer the Bush administration's foreign policy record as much in her next job as she did last week?

That question kept pushing others aside as I reviewed Rice's spirited defense of how the Bush team has handled global affairs. She concluded that the world is a safer place today than it was when President Bush took office.

Nice try, but no.

The particular context for my question was an article that appeared recently in Foreign Policy journal (www.foreignpolicy. com).

That piece discussed how Rice supposedly convinced her bosses over the years that she embraced worldviews close to theirs, only to surprise them with her shifting perspectives after leaving their employ.

Although Rice might disagree with that assessment, it is likely that she will reinvent her current public positions - especially if she harbors the political ambitions that I suspect. For now, though, she walks essentially in lock-step with the White House.

My own view is that the world - because of a surging population, expanding contacts, more powerful and accessible weapons, stiffening competition for scarce resources, age-old ethnic and religious differences and fears, and fundamental human shortcomings such as greed, selfishness and delusions of superiority - is and has always been an increasingly dangerous place.

That is not to suggest that people lack opportunities to strive for better understanding, harmony and peace. But such efforts have never been sufficiently widespread and consistent. Although I have not given up on hope and optimism, the prospects - especially during the short term - are grim. Unless, of course, the United States consciously and urgently moves to improve the political climate. It is fully capable of such decisive action.

For instance, when the Cold War reached its zenith with the arrival of superpower nuclear parity, the situation turned as bleak as it ever had been. Then, in a welcome spasm of detente, wisdom and awareness, Washington and Moscow embraced arms control and, eventually, certain weapons reductions.

Unfortunately, a safer era was not the world's fate, for the shrinking East-West divide overlapped with the birth of a new wave of terrorism. Thanks to the Bush administration's aggressive pursuit of terrorists, I do agree with Rice that history will treat it more kindly than current critics have.

In other regards, though, such as the premature rush to war in Iraq, a foreign policy brimming with often-arrogant unilateralism and the designating of multiple countries as "outposts of tyranny" or as belonging to an "axis of evil," the Bush administration has exacerbated global tensions.

The negative repercussions of those policies will not significantly diminish in a year or five or 10. America's next president - whether Democrat or Republican - will bear a major responsibility to repair bridges, build connections and promote multilateralism.

Thus, contrary to Rice's assertion, the world in 2007 is not any nicer than it was in 2001. It is, in fact, as bad in some respects and even worse in others.

Consider that al-Qaida and its affiliates have metamorphosed into a larger, less visible and harder-to-monitor threat. The Taliban are resurgent in Afghanistan. The status of Palestinians remains unresolved. Peace still goes begging between Israel and much of the Middle East. North Korea and Iran are hugely disruptive. Saddam Hussein may be gone, but Iraq is more burdensome than ever. Climate change is disturbingly evident. Human rights abuses are rampant. Most of the world's people have benefited little, if any, from globalization. I could go on.

In sum, virtually every challenge that Bush faced at the beginning of his first term is there today, along with several additions. I hope that Rice is correct in declaring that America stands at the beginning of a historic transformation. If so, it will be mostly shaped not by Bush but by the presidents who follow him.

- John C. Bersia, an editorial writer for the Orlando Sentinel, is the special assistant to the president for global perspectives at the University of Central Florida.

Comments

Bill Chapman 8 years, 2 months ago

Iraq was a sore on the ass of the world and something needed to be done about it, but using falsified intel to do so was NOT the right way to do it and the U.S. is going to be paying for Bush's little lies for a very long time now. By using incorrect data (with the suspicion of knowledge of the intels' unreliability) the Bush has lowered the already low respect the U.S. has among the worlds' other nations (including our allies). What little respect we had in the middle east is going to depend on what we do it Iraq and Afghanistan. If we pull out (and leave a mess when we do) we can count on continued terrorism and higher anti-U.S. sentiments for a VERY long time.

Bottom line: Iraq needed something done about it, but doing so without a VERY good plan and LOTS of thought was STUPID! (That seems to be a Dubya thing).

jonas 8 years, 2 months ago

"ferdinandlanghoff (Anonymous) says:

Leftists hate Condi Rice so much that I believe the phrase "Like white liberals on Condi Rice" will replace "Like white on rice.""

Yes, it's good we have you here to show us what a quality posting presence looks like.

cough

My favorite so far is bubble's intuition that the world is safer because there are more, not less, people in it. I'll buy that one for 50 RMB.

On the off chance that you're not joking, I may laugh harder, so let me know if that's the case.

Richard Heckler 8 years, 2 months ago

How does the USA become safer when our President invaded a country that did not invade us and we continue to kill innocent Islams?

Bubbles 8 years, 2 months ago

Last time I looked there are millions and millions more humans on the planet since Bush took charge.

Looks like we are all safer. If we weren't don't you think there would be less of us?

Linda Endicott 8 years, 2 months ago

Well, number one, the U.S. didn't even become involved in WWII until after Japan attacked us. Up until then, we let Hitler do pretty much what he wanted.

As for "invading" Germany...when we entered WWII, we went to Europe primarily to liberate other countries...like England, France, Poland, etc...and the only way to complete the job was to enter Germany as well. But that liberation was also done with the blessings of England, France, Poland, etc...

Bubbles 8 years, 2 months ago

Jesus Christ do I have to explain everything?

We went to war with Hitler because we could not let him take control of the oil fields in the middle east.

a_flock_of_jayhawks 8 years, 2 months ago

Ferdinand, Your application of a simple comparison to a complex set of circumstances ignores many of the components that are at the crux of the predicament we find ourselves in. Before we invaded Iraq, we basically had Iraq circled (blockaded) and, despite their refusal to obey the UN, they weren't much of a threat. I am not the only one -- and there are many more experienced in global affairs than me, such as the author of the piece -- that feels that there were a multitude of options other than a military invasion that would have resulted in a successful resolution to the issues in Iraq. It's painfully obvious that our current administration, despite advice of experts, pressed forward with the invasion without having a plan, ANY plan, for establishing some form of stability in the aftermath.

One only has to look at the criticism being heaped on the President by GOP presidential candidates with respect to his track record in handling of foreign affairs to understand the presence of failures in that area. The US will suffer for years, possibly decades to come as we (hopefully) work with the other nations in the world to repair the damage done...and truly make multilateral progress toward a safer world. In spite of our might, we cannot make real progress alone or even with a handful of nations.

a_flock_of_jayhawks 8 years, 2 months ago

Ferd says - with my comments inline -

"So you would argue that the Clinton administration greatly exaggerated the situation when it claimed for eight years that Iraq was a threat?"

I said "much of a threat". Enough of a threat to warrant invasion as even a part of the solution? Nope. I don't feel that the Clinton administration exaggerated the situation, so I would not argue that. You attempted to put those words in my mouth.

"This "circle" around Iraq would have included Syria and Iran. Do you believe they were ideal partners in the effort to contain Saddam?"

If you truly believe that a complete physical barrier must exist for a blockade to effectively exist, you don't appear to have a knowledge of military strategy as I do (I have recieved formal training in it).

"Other options (e.g., sanctions, oil for food, etc.) failed to bring about a successful resolution to the issues in Iraq between 1991 and 2003. What options do you "feel" would have worked after 2003?"

As I said, I am not an expert in this area, but many that are agree that, given time, Saddam likely would have continued to have what little influence he had diminish to the point of irrelevance.

"Untrue."

Wow! One word? You can't provide any substantiation of how it is untrue? To most of us, I'm sure that the lack of a post-invasion Iraq plan is blatantly obvious. Military planners and senior military officials warned him before the invasion that there was no adequate plan to deal with post-invasion Iraq successfully.

"I believe only Ron Paul has said the invasion of Iraq was a mistake. The others have voiced criticism concerning events after the invasion."

Thanks for making my point here. I did not limit criticism merely to the invasion of Iraq, but aimed it more collectively at the foreign policy failures (that's the main point of the article). Ron Paul is not nearly the only one in agreement with that point. Besides, that's only an example coming from those that have a desire to lead our nation after President Bush has left office.

toefungus 8 years, 2 months ago

I don't care much for rice, but I like wheat.

a_flock_of_jayhawks 8 years, 2 months ago

Ferd, Without wandering into specifics, your posts continue to make my points and contradict your own.

The last comment concerning Leftists (what is the definition of Leftists?) and hatred of Condi are untrue. It is not hatred, but concern for the actions and direction of our great nation that continues to drive opposition to her. Something for you to consider: for those who stick to the substance of a debate, it really is possible to disagree with someone/something without harboring hate for them/it.

And I stand on the original comment of no plan, ANY plan. It is clear that the planning for a post-invasion Iraq did not truly begin until after the invasion was underway. Unless, perhaps, it was a secret to even the military. So, if you assert that there was a plan that the administration had in mind, what was it? Please support with references.

The fact remains that a blockade did exist. It is certainly possible for entities to partially circumvent blockades at various points in time, but it does not mean that it does not exist or cannot be effective in the end. Your insistence to the contrary reflects your ignorance of the subject. Furthermore, your attempt to mock my training is out of order. You have lost any crumb of respect that I may have reserved for you.

drake 8 years, 2 months ago

How soon all of you revisionists forget what Gore said then:

IN 1992, AL GORE ATTACKED PRESIDENT GEORGE H.W. BUSH FOR IGNORING IRAQ'S TIES TO TERRORISM. SEN. AL GORE: "[W]hen George Bush took office, he should have reevaluated what our relationship was with Iraq ..." CNN'S LARRY KING: "Well ..." GORE: "Let me finish, just briefly. Instead, he stepped up the foreign aid to Iraq, and he looked the other way when there were repeated incidents of terrorism in which Iraq had a part, terrorists operating openly in Baghdad, and repeated warnings from our national security people telling the Bush administration that Saddam was on a crash program to develop nuclear weapons, chemical weapons, and other weapons of mass destruction. And he overruled a lot of his advisers and extended another billion dollars of foreign aid, and the U.S. taxpayers are right now having to bail out Saddam Hussein for almost $2 billion. Just like the savings and loan bailout, now it's the Saddam Hussein bailout, and it shouldn't have taken place." (CNN's "Larry King Live," 10/5/92)

IN 1992, GORE SAID BUSH ADMINISTRATION WAS "CODDLING" SADDAM AND IGNORING HIS PURSUIT OF WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION. "Democratic vice presidential nominee Al Gore Tuesday attacked what the Bush campaign views as its strongest asset, as he charged the president caused the gulf war by 'coddling' Saddam Hussein. : He said recent evidence - including published reports and documents from congressional hearings - contradicts Bush's assertions he did nothing to enhance Saddam's development of weapons of mass destruction before Saddam invaded Kuwait. Gore said both the Reagan and Bush administrations received regular intelligence 'warnings' that Saddam was aiding terrorists and was bent on building such weapons." (Sam Vincent Meddis, "Gore Assails Bush On Iraq Policy," USA Today, 9/30/92)

"We know that he has stored secret supplies of biological and chemical weapons throughout his country." - Al Gore, Sept. 23, 2002

"Iraq's search for weapons of mass destruction has proven impossible to deter and we should assume that it will continue for as long as Saddam is in power." - Al Gore, Sept. 23, 2002

Kontum1972 8 years, 2 months ago

remember the gulf of tonkin incident?

LBJ, lied and look where we ended up...58K dead and countless wounded....for what? the vietnamese said if we invade their country again that they will throw us out... AGAIN!..

OBTW....you dont send a painted up woman in a dress to an islamic country to do business with muslims especially "rich ones".....aka shieks....unless there is a "special purpose"...catch my drift...

name a few things condi rice has accomplished.....?

why do we not a lessoning of hostilities..instead of the full frontal attacks now.....

the sec def is cleaning house now.....

shinseki was right.....but he was canned...

the sign said......"MISSION ACCOMPLISHED"......lol....whose Mission?

a_flock_of_jayhawks 8 years, 2 months ago

Ferd, OK. . memoryhole link From the link, Russ Kick says, "The project's observations and recommendations were almost wholly ignored by the administration during its pre-war planning for the occupation. Soon after the invasion, though, CD-ROMs of the reports were sent to the staff of the Coalition Provisional Authority."

Interesting link, BTW. Sounds like the post-invasion plan was for the CD to be distributed. I realize that they may have felt that they didn't have enough time -- that they needed to protect America from a threat -- but if they intended on heeding the project recommendations, why didn't they put a plan together? This is further proof that they did not have a plan, despite the fact that they had spent $5M to study it.

. GWU link was 404

. Pollack I highly respect his opinions and expertise in ME affairs. He was one of many who had opinions at that time. It seems, though, that he was making the case for a different course - not necessarily military invasion, although it was always an option.

In retrospect, we now know that Saddam did not place a high priority on obtaining nuclear weapons after 1991:

http://www.cnn.com/2004/WORLD/meast/10/06/iraq.wmd.report/

a_flock_of_jayhawks 8 years, 2 months ago

The record reflects that you are ignorant regarding blockades. Some people just can't grasp the facts. Sucks to be you.

a_flock_of_jayhawks 8 years, 2 months ago

Well, Ferd, if that is the only info that you encompass in your understanding of what happened, you are missing many of the components. Like the Allies invading Germany. Yeah, I studied that, too. You are wrong.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years, 2 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years, 2 months ago

Was it your mother who reqested removal of my post, Kevin?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years, 2 months ago

"Are you ready to debate the topic at hand now, or can you only issue personal attacks?"

Kevin, you don't "debate" anything, ever. But I guess if you don't flatter yourself, who will?

toefungus 8 years, 2 months ago

Yes, this thread is like puffed rice.

Bubbles 8 years, 2 months ago

I remember when Gore chastized Bush 1 for not going after Sadam during D. Storm.

One of his many complaints included Sadam's aquiring nukes, and gasing the kurds.

Gore said it was appalling that Bush 1 didn't go after Sadam.

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