[Marxism] Elite ex-State Dept. and other bipartisan figures challenge Bush foreign policy
ffeldman at bellatlantic.net
Sat Aug 6 11:30:22 MDT 2005
Via NY Transfer News Collective * All the News that Doesn't Fit
Asia Times Online - Aug 3, 2005
Reviving 'The Radical Center'
By Jim Lobe Inter Press Service
As US President George W. Bush announced the unprecedented recess
appointment of ultra-nationalist John Bolton as his next ambassador to
the United Nations, a group of diplomatic heavyweights was preparing to
launch a bipartisan coalition to promote a return to a more moderate and
multilateral foreign policy.
Washington - As US President George W Bush announced the unprecedented
recess appointment of ultra-nationalist John Bolton as his next
ambassador to the United Nations, a group of diplomatic heavyweights was
preparing to launch a bipartisan coalition to promote a return to a more
moderate and multilateral foreign policy.
While the group, which calls itself the Partnership for a Secure
America, was not explicitly set up to act to oppose the more radical
initiatives of the Bush administration, the chief organizers - both
Republicans and Democrats - have sometimes been harshly critical of
specific Bush policies, especially the decision to go to war in Iraq and
innovative policy initiatives such as the promotion of preemptive war
against "rogue states".
The group includes top officials who served in the administrations of
presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, such as the two presidents'
most durable national security advisers - Samuel Berger and Zbigniew
Brzezinski, respectively - as well as former secretary of state Warren
Christopher; Clinton's first national security adviser, Anthony Lake;
former defense secretary William Perry, and former UN ambassador Richard
But it also includes leading Republican moderates, some of whom have
even served under Bush. They include former senator Howard Baker, who
served until last year as Bush's ambassador to Japan, and, even more
significantly, his most recent UN ambassador, former senator John
Danforth, who, since his resignation, has been uncharacteristically
outspoken about his concerns that the Republican Party has increasingly
come under the sway of the Christian Right.
Lawrence Eagleburger, a protege of Henry Kissinger and the number two in
the State Department under George H W Bush who also served briefly as
acting secretary of state in 1992, as well as one of Ronald Reagan's
national security advisers, retired General Robert "Bud" MacFarlane,
have also signed up.
Other leading Republicans include former trade representative Carla
Hills, former senator Nancy Kassebaum Baker, former New Jersey governor
and co-chair of the 9-11 Commission Thomas Kean, and the former deputy
secretary of state under Reagan, John Whitehead. Former UN ambassador
Thomas Pickering, who served under Bush Sr but, like Eagleburger was a
career foreign service officer, has also joined.
The new group will formally launch itself Wednesday at a news conference
in Washington conducted by two well-known and respected former
lawmakers, Lee Hamilton, a top foreign-policy Democrat during his many
years in the House of Representatives, who also co-chaired the 9-11
Commission and currently serves as head of the influential Woodrow
Wilson International Center for Scholars, and Warren Rudman, a prominent
Republican moderate and former senator who has served on several
bipartisan commission over the past two decades.
"The Partnership for a Secure America (PSA) is dedicated to recreating
the bipartisan center in American national security and foreign policy,"
according to the group's mission statement.
"Although partisan rancor has traditionally stopped 'at the water's
edge', this tradition of bipartisan cooperation has eroded significantly
in recent years in negative and harmful ways," it said, noting that its
goals include "heightening public awareness of and support for a
bipartisan national security and foreign policy", and "bringing leading
Democrats and Republicans together to seek common ground in national
security and foreign policy".
While such statements do not appear on their face to be directed against
the Bush administration, the group's organizers and the context in which
it was put together belie that impression.
On its website, for example, the new group, which will be run day-to-day
by former congressional staffers from both parties, cites a series of
public opinion polls that show strong support by both Republicans and
Democrats for policies that have been anathema to the administration,
including strengthening the UN and other multilateral organizations, a
nuclear test-ban treaty, the Kyoto Protocol to curb greenhouse
emissions, a more even-handed approach in the Arab-Israeli conflict, and
even engaging Iran.
Moreover, in addition to their individually voiced concerns about the
administration's unilateralism, global ambitions and its alienation of
traditional US allies, many charter PSA members have expressed - albeit
privately in the case of some of the Republicans - great unease about
Bolton's appointment as UN ambassador.
Bolton's reputation for exaggerating foreign threats, scorn for
multilateralism, intimidation of his subordinates, contempt for regional
and local expertise, and personal rudeness has made him a symbol of the
most extreme tendencies of the administration's hardliners led by Vice
President Dick Cheney.
By resorting to a procedural loophole that gives presidents the power to
make "recess appointments" whenever Congress is on holiday to get Bolton
to New York, Bush is seen by many not only as circumventing normal
constitutional requirements that give the Senate the power to advise and
consent to ambassadorial posts, but also as delivering a gratuitous slap
at the spirit of bipartisanship that has long been seen as essential to
the successful conduct of US foreign policy.
Indeed, much of the impetus for the PSA's creation was derived from
Bolton's nomination, according to organizers who have spoken with Inter
Press Service. They hope that the broad-based opposition to the nominee
could help lay the groundwork for a more strategic alliance of
"moderates" in both parties - sometimes called "the radical center" - to
move US foreign policy back to a more traditional and bipartisan course.
Whether such an ambitious goal can succeed remains very uncertain. While
the PSA's charter membership is indeed impressive, some very important
players known to be sympathetic to the cause have not yet signed on, at
These include George H W Bush's former secretary of state James Baker
and national security adviser Brent Scowcroft - the deans of Republican
realism - who may feel that joining such a potentially high-profile
group risks the loss of whatever moderating influence they retain in the
administration, particularly with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice
and Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick.
Similarly, Bush's first-term secretary of state, Colin Powell, another
realist who has made little secret of his disdain for Bolton, has
Another question, most recently raised by the editor of the Nixon
Center's "National Interest" journal, Nikolas Gvosdev, is whether the
"moderates" in both parties who have agreed to form the PSA are really
prepared to challenge their more ideological party comrades at the risk
of opening serious internal splits.
"I don't see in either party, as of yet", he wrote last week, "a
willingness to 'do battle' with members of their own side of the aisle
for the sake of a new bipartisan consensus."
Nonetheless, the fact of the group's creation marks a new stage in what
so far has been a largely disjointed and ineffectual effort by
independent elites, including foreign policy scholars and analysts,
former diplomats and high-ranking military officers, to rally opposition
to the more aggressive impulses of the current administration.
The leadership of major political figures from both parties - combined
with declining confidence in Bush, particularly with respect to Iraq and
his "war on terrorism" - may provide those often-isolated elites with
the political heft they have lacked to date.
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