Thursday, July 06, 2006

If it's all you've got, maybe hope IS a plan

Kevin Drum, after an excerpt from Abu Aardvark about the now-dead effort at democracy promotion from the US, writes:
But that's really just a single piece of a broader, and even more remarkable turn of events: the Bush administration literally seems to have no foreign policy at all anymore. They have no serious plan for Iraq, no plan for Iran, no plan for North Korea, no plan for democracy promotion, no plan for anything. With the neocons on the outs, Condoleezza Rice at the State Department, and Dick Cheney continuing to drift into an alternate universe at the OVP, the Bush administration seems completely at sea. There's virtually no ideological coherency to their foreign policy that I can discern, and no credible followup on what little coherency is left.

As near as I can tell, George Bush has learned that "There's evil in the world and we're going to stand up to it" isn't really adequate as a foreign policy for a superpower but is unable to figure out anything better to replace it with. So he spins his wheels, waiting for 2009. Unfortunately, the rest of us are left spinning with him.
Some people - including some well-respected scholars - actually bought the whole "democracy promotion" line from Bushco. I'm not sure why, but they did. Some really interesting articles were written about how this signalled a profound shift in US foreign policy, what this meant for global security in the 21st century, etc.

I suppose I occasionally pondered what it meant if Bush was serious about democracy promotion, but I have to say it never occurred to me that it was a serious policy. Given the early actions of the war (for example, firing Jay Garner for the audacity of advocating early elections and a quick exit*) it quickly became clear that "democracy promotion" was simply another in the string of lies sold to the American public.

The problem is that the American public wasn't the only one listening. The Arab public heard it too, and some of them hoped it was true. So you can imagine the disappointment when they see the Americans backing Israel's attacks on a democratically-elected government (however noxious it is, you have to grant that Hamas was the choice of the Palestinian people), or Washington's support of the Mubarak regime in Cairo, doesn't do a lot to help foster pro-American attitudes.

Moreover, as K-Drum notes, without the fig leaf of their lies, they're left with the plain facts that they have no plan for, well, anything. I don't need ideological consistency, or consistency at all for that matter. Some rough idea of what the White House's goals are would be a nice start. But three years and a bit in to Iraq, we still don't know what the endgame is. So the idea that we'll get a clear picture of what the objective in Korea or Iran is unlikely.

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