[Marxism] Intractable foreign problems
lnp3 at panix.com
Thu Jul 6 11:38:31 MDT 2006
Gabriel Kolko, Counterpunch, March 12 / 14, 2004:
Critics of the existing foreign or domestic order will not take over
Washington this November. As dangerous as it is, Bush's reelection may be a
lesser evil because he is much more likely to continue the destruction of
the alliance system that is so crucial to American power. One does not have
to believe that the worse the better but we have to consider candidly the
foreign policy consequences of a renewal of Bush's mandate.
A Driven President Faces a World of Crises
By Michael Abramowitz and Robin Wright
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, July 6, 2006; A01
From deteriorating security in Afghanistan and Somalia to mayhem in the
Middle East, confrontation with Iran and eroding relations with Russia, the
White House suddenly sees crisis in every direction.
North Korea's long-range missile test Tuesday, although unsuccessful, was
another reminder of the bleak foreign policy landscape that faces President
Bush even outside of Iraq. Few foreign policy experts foresee the reclusive
Stalinist state giving up the nuclear weapons it appears to have acquired,
making it another in a long list of world problems that threaten to cloud
the closing years of the Bush administration, according to foreign policy
experts in both parties.
"I am hard-pressed to think of any other moment in modern times where there
have been so many challenges facing this country simultaneously," said
Richard N. Haass, a former senior Bush administration official who heads
the Council on Foreign Relations. "The danger is that Mr. Bush will hand
over a White House to a successor that will face a far messier world, with
far fewer resources left to cope with it."
White House officials emphatically reject such pessimism, and yesterday
leading figures in both parties saw some diplomatic opportunity for the
United States out of the missile failure. But the events on the Korean
Peninsula underscored how the administration has lost the initiative it
once possessed on foreign policy in the aftermath of the Iraq invasion,
leaving at risk the central Bush aspiration of democracy-building around
They also showed how the huge commitment of resources and time on Iraq --
and the attendant falloff in international support for the United States --
has limited the administration's flexibility in handling new world crises.
"This is a distracted government that has to take care of too many things
at the same time and has been consumed by the war on Iraq," said Moisés
Naím, editor of Foreign Policy magazine.
National security adviser Stephen J. Hadley said in an interview yesterday
that such criticism is misplaced, adding that victory in Iraq is crucial to
success in fighting terrorists and in creating a new democracy that could
serve as a beacon to other Middle Eastern countries. "Is it a major
investment? Yes," he said. "The stakes are high [in Iraq], but we think the
rewards are commensurate to the effort, and the consequences of lack of
success are sobering."
Hadley agreed that there are "a lot of issues in motion right now" on the
international front. "In some sense, it was destined to be, because we have
a president that wants to take on the big issues and see if he could solve
them on his watch."
Even in the context of a post-Sept. 11, 2001, world, the array of tough,
seemingly intractable foreign problems is spreading. Renewed violence has
expanded to major cities throughout Afghanistan, as Afghan rebels adopt
tactics of Iraqi insurgents and as President Hamid Karzai's popularity has
plummeted. Iran is balking at demands to come clean or compromise on its
nuclear program, despite new U.S. and European incentives. Palestinians
launched longer-range missiles into Israel, while Israel has authorized its
army to invade part of northern Gaza.
Meanwhile, an Islamist militia in Somalia seized control of the capital,
Mogadishu. Mexico's future is uncertain after a close and disputed
presidential election. And yesterday, the price of oil hit a new high of
$75.19 a barrel.
Concern about such developments is cutting across the normal fault lines in
American politics, with critiques being expressed by conservative realists
such as Haass and liberal internationalists such as former secretary of
state Madeleine K. Albright. Albright said yesterday that the United States
now faces the "perfect storm" in foreign policy. "The U.S. is not as
unilateral as it is uni-dimensional," she said in an interview. "We have
not been paying attention to a lot of these issues. . . . Afghanistan is
out of control because not enough attention was paid to it."
Even neoconservative hawks who have been generally supportive of the
administration on Iraq and other issues said they are worried about the
direction of American foreign policy, and hope for a muscular response from
the Bush administration toward the latest North Korean provocation.
"North Korea is firing missiles. Iran is going nuclear. Somalia is
controlled by radical Islamists. Iraq isn't getting better, and Afghanistan
is getting worse," said William Kristol, editor of the Weekly Standard and
a leading conservative commentator. "I give the president a lot of credit
for hanging tough on Iraq. But I am worried that it has made them too
passive in confronting the other threats."
Senior administration officials said the United States is in a much
stronger diplomatic position than it has been in the past in dealing with
adversaries such as North Korea and Iran. On both fronts, the
administration has engaged in much more aggressive multilateral diplomacy
than it did in Bush's first term, and that effort could still bear fruit,
Hadley predicted the results of aggressive diplomacy would be seen in the
next few days with a strong condemnation of North Korea at the United
Nations. "We saw this coming. We worked the diplomacy," he said. "North
Korea went ahead, and in so doing didn't defy [only] us but defied the
entire international community."
Some outside experts agreed that Tuesday's seven missile launches could
help the administration make the case to China to work harder to rein in
Pyongyang. "This has to have gotten China's attention," said Rep. Jane
Harman (Calif.), the senior Democrat on the House intelligence committee.
"What some may see as a series of setbacks, I see as a series of
opportunities," she said.
Both Democrats and Republicans insisted that the United States can deal
with multiple crises, but some questioned how effectively.
"Every situation makes it more difficult to deal with another," said
Zbigniew Brzezinski, national security adviser in the Carter
administration. "It's like a juggler. You have to keep all the balls going.
Any one of them that is out of trajectory threatens all the others."
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