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Russil Wvong

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Jan 8, 2003, 2:11:32 PM1/8/03
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Interesting article posted to H-DIPLO comparing the Truman administration
to the current Bush administration.

Russil

--
From: "Kaiser, David, Prof." <kai...@nwc.navy.mil>
Author's Subject: Offner Roundtable: Truman and George W. Bush [Kaiser]
Date Posted: Tue, 7 Jan 2003 20:55:48 -0800

As I have already written a brief review of Arnold Offner's new book
myself, I read the roundtable with interest. Since I will have my own say
(which certainly would not have fallen outside the boundaries established
by the roundtable) in due course, I shall not address the issues raised by
the book. I do, however, want to address the comparison several of the
reviewers chose to make between Truman and George W. Bush--a comparison I
find, frankly, quite astonishing.

To begin with, Truman was far better prepared for the Presidency than
Bush. He had served ten years in the Senate, during one of Congress' most
active periods, and he had chaired the Committee on the Conduct of the
War, which oversaw the enormous mobilization of the US. He was also well
read in American history.

Much more important, however, are the huge differences in their policies.
Let us take, for instance, the issue of atomic weapons. Although one has
to read the roundtable pretty carefully to discover this, the Truman
Administration, having dropped the first atomic bombs, proposed
international control of atomic energy to prevent the spread of atomic
weapons. The Soviets rejected it. Some kind of international control,
through arms control treaties and non-proliferation treaties, has remained
the official policy of every Administration from Truman through Clinton,
and it has been implemented, to varying degrees, by the Eisenhower,
Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, first Bush, and Clinton
Administrations. The current Administration is the first one specifically
to renounce treaties to control the spread of atomic weapons, in favor of
the unilateral (if necessary) application of American power. Had similar
philosophies prevailed in the Truman Administration, the option of a
preventive war against the Soviet Union would have reached the top of the
list. As I understand it, that option got a little discussion around the
time of the Korean War but was never seriously considered.

More importantly, virtually every major Cold War initiative of the Truman
Administration received not just the grudging assent, but the active
support, of our major allies, especially in Europe. Indeed, as has been
noted in the roundtable, on some issues, like NATO, the Europeans took the
lead. Western Europeans, at least as much as Americans, feared that the
Korean War, if ignored, would lead quickly to a Soviet attack in Western
Europe. (Adenauer raised this issue at once.) Truman did not draw
reluctant allies in his wake. He was acting based on a widely shared
perception of a Communist threat.

I think it would be difficult, actually, to find a true analog to current
Administration thinking in the early Cold War period. Truman's severest
critics were isolationists like Robert Taft, and a shrinking minority of
leftists led by Wallace, whose views anticipated revisionist historians.
Perhaps I am forgetting some one, but I can't think of anyone in the late
forties or early fifties who believed that the unilateral application of
American power could solve any problem.

David Kaiser

Nes

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Jan 8, 2003, 3:07:50 PM1/8/03
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Russil Wvong wrote:
> Interesting article posted to H-DIPLO comparing the Truman
> administration to the current Bush administration.
>
> Russil

Hi Russil,

Interesting stuff.

Quote:

"...I can't think of anyone in the late forties or early fifties who


believed that the unilateral application of American power could solve any
problem."

The strangeness here is very pronounced. For the US is certainly no more
powerful today compared to potential rivals - neither militarily or
economically - than it was in Truman's time. Yet, the Bush Administration
have opted for ending US participation in anti-nuclear proliferation work
(and other dangerous technologies all to do with WMD), for adopting a
unilateral defense doctrine (which is really a stance of military
aggression), and for ending all major participation in multilateral treaty
work under the auspices of the UN.

The US is about to embark on a naked war of agression - a crime under
international law - and it seems that this war is destined to be only the
first in a whole series of follow-up wars and interventions.

Yet, the US is as vulnerable today as it was in in the 1950's, probably even
more so, since more and more strong and capable nations have emerged in the
interim with the technological and military wherewithall to seriously hurt
the US if push coms to shove. Strange and illogical, indeed!

Nes


Russil Wvong

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Jan 9, 2003, 1:17:28 PM1/9/03
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"Nes" <nmorph...@myrealbox.com> wrote:
> Russil Wvong wrote:
> > Interesting article posted to H-DIPLO comparing the Truman
> > administration to the current Bush administration.
>
> Quote:
>
> "...I can't think of anyone in the late forties or early fifties who
> believed that the unilateral application of American power could solve any
> problem."
>
> The strangeness here is very pronounced. For the US is certainly no more
> powerful today compared to potential rivals - neither militarily or
> economically - than it was in Truman's time. Yet, the Bush Administration
> have opted for ending US participation in anti-nuclear proliferation work
> (and other dangerous technologies all to do with WMD), for adopting a
> unilateral defense doctrine (which is really a stance of military
> aggression), and for ending all major participation in multilateral treaty
> work under the auspices of the UN.

Interesting point regarding US military power. The conventional wisdom
is that with the collapse of the Soviet Union, US military power is
unchallenged. US military spending, a relatively small proportion of
the US economy, is greater than that of the next several countries
*put together*. But in fact you're right, the development of nuclear
weapons and especially ICBMs means that the US is much more vulnerable
now than it was at the end of World War II. Nuclear weapons are a kind
of "equalizer": if you have nuclear weapons, which are relatively cheap,
it doesn't matter how much conventional superiority your opponent has.

By this reasoning, it's a vital interest of the United States to work
as hard as it can to prevent nuclear proliferation. But neo-conservative
hawks such as Richard Perle -- that is, ultra-liberals who see the world
as divided into good and evil, and who believe in spreading liberal
democracy by fire and sword -- don't accept this reasoning. Perle:

One of the things that...is fundamentally flawed in the multilateral
approach to arms control -- and particularly these large, very large
global agreements involving 150 or more states -- is that they put
together in the same regime the good guys and the bad guys, if I can
use those terms, the proliferators as well as the people who are
trying to stop proliferation. It's like the police entering into an
agreement with the criminals, and we will all agree to be bound by
the same code of behavior.

Unfortunately, these multilateral treaties by their very nature accord
the potential criminals the same rights and respect, if you will, as
the countries that are trying to contain that behavior. I think it's
a fundamentally unsound model.
www.centerforsecuritypolicy.org/index.jsp?section=papers&code=99-D_123

And:

Addressing the Senate Subcommittee on International Security in
mid-February [1997] (exact date unclear from report), Richard Perle,
Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security under
President Reagan, criticised over 50 former US and international
military commanders, including President Bush's Strategic Commander,
General Lee Butler, who recently (December 1996 - see Disarmament
Diplomacy No. 10) argued for significant and speedy progress towards
a nuclear-weapon-free world (NWFW). Perle argued that it was illogical
to call for such a world:

"If one assumes a serene world in which sovereign States give up
their nuclear weapons, how dangerous would the weapons be in the
first place? And if the world is still a dangerous place, how could
one safely assume that the weapons would be given up."

Perle argued that the, as he characterised it, impetuous call of
the retired military officials reflected a general tendency "on the
part of military and arms control professionals to attribute to
weapons themselves the properties that, in fact, derive from the
political situation in which they are fielded."
[http://www.acronym.org.uk/dd/dd13/13nwfw.htm]

George Kennan, on the other hand, argues that nuclear weapons are by
their very nature suicidal and unusable.

The second of our great postwar mistakes had to do with our
embracing the nuclear weapon as the mainstay of our military
posture, and the faith we placed in it to assure our military and
political ascendancy in this postwar era. We made the primitive
error of supposing that the effectiveness of a weapon was directly
proportionate to its destructiveness--destructiveness not just
against an enemy's armed forces but against its population and its
civilian economy as well. We forgot that the aim of war is, or
should be, to gain one's points with the minimum, not the maximum,
of general destruction, and that a proper weapon must be not only
destructive but discriminating. Above all, we neglected to consider
the strong evidence that the nuclear weapon could not be, in the
long run, other than a suicidal one, partly because of its very
destructiveness, together with the virtual certainty that others
would develop it, but also because of its probably environmental
effects. And by this commitment to a weapon that was both suicidal
and unsuitable to any rational military purpose we incurred, in my
opinion, a heavy share of the blame for leading large parts of
the international community into the most dangerous and fateful
weapons race the world has ever known.
["American Diplomacy and the Military", 1984]

Of course, Kennan has a much more pessimistic view of liberal democracy.

... this whole tendency to see ourselves as the center of political
enlightenment and as teachers to a great part of the rest of the
world strikes me as unthought-through, vainglorious, and undesirable.
If you think that our life here at home has meritorious aspects
worthy of emulation by peoples elsewhere, the best way to recommend
them is, as John Quincy Adams maintained, not by preaching at others
but by the force of example. I could not agree more.
[http://groups.google.com/groups?selm=7oo00v%24dpm%241%40nnrp1.deja.com]

--
It seems to me that there's a debate going on *within* the Bush
administration, between hawks such as Perle and Paul Wolfowitz and
those arguing for greater prudence, such as Colin Powell.
(Powell appears to believe that the goal in Iraq should be to
disarm Saddam Hussein, not to overthrow him -- although this may
be wishful thinking on my part.) The unanimous Security Council
resolution strengthened Powell's hand, but as we speak there's
probably major arguments going on behind the scenes.

Part of the problem is that the hawks' vision -- liberal democracy in
the Middle East -- is so alluring. If the US brought liberal democracy
to Germany and Japan, why not the Middle East? Even if it doesn't succeed,
why not make the attempt?

Having read a great deal of Kennan -- who played a major role in the
reconstruction of Germany and Japan, after all -- and other conservative
realists, I'm afraid the hawks' vision sends chills down my spine.
Kennan spent a lot of time arguing against utopian democratic crusades,
and to me this seems like another one.

Francis Fukuyama says, "What has been lacking in the current debate
over foreign policy is the articulation of a point of view that is
realist, and yet takes seriously the traditional conservative principle
of prudence." Well, here's some.

Kennan:

The English historian Herbert Butterfield has shown us with great
brilliance, and so has our own Reinhold Niebuhr, the irony that
seems to rest on the relationship between the intentions of statesmen
and the results they achieve. I can testify from personal experience
that not only can one never know, when one takes a far-reaching
decision in foreign policy, precisely what the consequences are
going to be, but almost never do these consequences fully coincide
with what one intended or expected.
[http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/foreign/gkchri.htm]

Hans Morgenthau:

When an intellectual finds himself in the seat of power he is
tempted to equate the power of his intellect with the power of
his office. As he could mould the printed word to suit his ideas
so he now expects the real world to respond to his actions. Hence
his confidence in himself, his pride, his optimism; hence, also,
the absence of the tragic sense of life, of humility, of that fear
and trembling with which great statesmen have approached their
task, knowing that in trying to mould the political world they
must act like gods, without the knowledge, the wisdom, the power,
and the goodness which their task demands.
[New York Review of Books, July 30, 1964]

Mark Danner:

Behind the notion that an American intervention will make of Iraq
"the first Arab democracy," as Deputy Defense Secretary Paul
Wolfowitz put it, lies a project of great ambition. It envisions a
post-Saddam Hussein Iraq - secular, middle-class, urbanized, rich
with oil - that will replace the autocracy of Saudi Arabia as the
key American ally in the Persian Gulf, allowing the withdrawal of
United States troops from the kingdom. The presence of a victorious
American Army in Iraq would then serve as a powerful boost to
moderate elements in neighboring Iran, hastening that critical
country's evolution away from the mullahs and toward a more
moderate course. Such an evolution in Tehran would lead to a
withdrawal of Iranian support for Hezbollah and other radical
groups, thereby isolating Syria and reducing pressure on Israel.
This undercutting of radicals on Israel's northern borders and
within the West Bank and Gaza would spell the definitive end of
Yasir Arafat and lead eventually to a favorable solution of the
Arab-Israeli problem.

This is a vision of great sweep and imagination: comprehensive,
prophetic, evangelical. In its ambitions it is wholly foreign to
the modesty of containment, the ideology of a status-quo power that
lay at the heart of American strategy for half a century. It means
to remake the world, to offer to a political threat a political
answer. It represents a great step on the road toward President
Bush's ultimate vision of "freedom's triumph over all its age-old
foes."

In its ambition and grandiosity there has been nothing like it in
American foreign policy since the "rollback" ambitions of General
Douglas MacArthur and his allies in the Republican Party a
half-century ago. Perhaps most striking, this vision - drawn from
an administration that has abhorred all talk of root causes and
treats terror as a free-floating malignancy with no political
history and no political goals - acknowledges that for the evil of
terror to be defeated the entire region from which it springs must
be made new.

The audacity of the crusade's ambitions is matched by the magnitude
of its risks. Before Sept. 11, the Islamist radicals had been on
the run, their project flagging. They had turned their talents on
the United States - the distant power that lay behind the thrones
in Riyadh and Cairo - only after suffering defeat on the primary
battlegrounds of Algeria and Egypt and Saudi Arabia. By invading
and occupying Iraq and using it as a base to remake the region,
the United States risks revitalizing the political project embodied
by Osama bin Laden. It is not only that Islamic radicalism may gain
new life and new converts but that moderate regimes will be threatened
and will respond harshly, leading them not toward democracy but away
from it, and that, finally, the force to which the United States
remains most vulnerable - terror - will once again visit our shores.
And this time, terror may come not just from a reanimated Al Qaeda
but from Hezbollah and other groups that heretofore saw the American
threat as not quite so direct. To divide the world into good and evil,
however effective that is as a means of building political support
and however gratifying that may be to Americans who see their country
as a "city on a hill," risks broadening a war that would be better
kept narrowly defined.
[http://www.markdanner.com/nyt/100802_Struggles_of_democracy.htm]

William Pfaff:

Bush supporters now have offered a new theory about American-led
peaceful revolution in the region, its democratization and peaceful
economic transformation, with reform of Islamic religious thought
so as to reconcile Islam with modern Western culture. The newly
disclosed plan for military occupation of a defeated Iraq makes up
part of this theory. The occupation will reform and "re-educate"
Iraq, supposedly in the way imperial Japan and Nazi Germany were
remade after 1945.

Only people who know little about Japan and Germany in the 1940s
could make such an assumption.

Historical ignorance, however deplorable, is not considered an
impediment to policy-making in today's Washington. But the people
putting these ideas forward cannot pretend to be ignorant of
political Washington, the nature and preoccupations of the U.S.
Congress today and the temper of American public opinion.

The numbers offered in Washington concerning such a military
occupation are between 75,000 and 100,000 troops. This is roughly
one-fifth of the total personnel of the existing regular army of
the United States. And the cost of an occupation is estimated at
some $16 billion per year. That is more than 4 percent of the total
U.S. military budget for fiscal 2003, including the post-Sept. 11
Bush administration's military budget increase.

There is no possibility whatever that the American government and
public would make such a commitment of men and money to Iraq.

Would other countries pay? Not if there had been no United Nations
mandate for the war.

Europe after 1945 simply needed to have its economy rebuilt. That
is what Marshall Plan money accomplished. The Marshall Plan did not
reform or transform European society, nor was it expected to do so.

Japan, like Europe, had an advanced industry in 1941. It would not
otherwise have been able to put up a ferocious three-and-a-half-year
defense against American offensives in the Central and Southwestern
Pacific and against the British/Indian advance in South Asia.

Japan in 1945 was also an intensely corporate, authoritarian and
hierarchical society. By leaving the emperor in place, and acting
with his consent and authority, the MacArthur occupation was able
to conduct a peaceful reform of the Japanese government, economy
and educational system. The Japanese authorities policed the country,
not the American occupation.

There was no resistance. Would there be resistance to American
occupation of Iraq? It is another agreeable fantasy to think that
American soldiers would be cheered as they arrived, and be encouraged
by the Iraqis to take over their country.

What would George W. Bush do, though, if the Iraqi army put up a
serious fight, and if the Iraqi public resisted an American
occupation? What Ariel Sharon is doing?
[http://www.iht.com/articles/73960.html]

Owen Harries:

During the 1990s I spent a lot of time arguing with a lot of
conservative American friends that the United States should use
its position of dominance, its vast power, with restraint,
discrimination and prudence. I argued that anything resembling
a "democratic crusade" or the imposition of a "New World Order"
was a bad idea--first because democracy is not an export commodity
but a do-it-yourself enterprise that requires very special
conditions; and secondly because an assertive, interventionist
policy was bound to generate widespread hostility, suspicion, and
if historical precedence meant anything, concerted opposition to
the United States. ...

And I regularly quoted the warning that Edmund Burke had once
given his fellow countrymen when Britain had been the world's
dominant power:

Among precautions against ambition, it may not be amiss to
take precaution against our own. I must fairly say, I dread
our own power and our own ambition: I dread our being too
much dreaded ... We may say that we shall not abuse this
astonishing and hitherto unheard of power. But every other
nation will think we shall abuse it. It is impossible but that,
sooner or later, this state of things must produce a
combination against us which may end in our ruin.

... The danger in all this is not of a hostile military response.
The United States is much too strong for that. It is rather of a
gathering political hostility which leaves America both dominant
and increasingly disliked and isolated--which would be an extremely
unhealthy state of affairs, not just for the United States but for
the world.

Let me be clear: After the outrage of September 11, I do not believe
that the United States could have reacted in any way other than as
she did. But doing so will carry a cost. The long-term significance
of what happened some months ago may be that it forced America
decisively along a course of action that--by emphasising her
military dominance, by requiring her to use her vast power
conspicuously, by making restraint and moderation virtually
impossible, and by making unilateralism an increasing feature of
American behaviour--is bound to generate widespread and increased
criticism and hostility towards her. That may turn out to be the
real tragedy of September 11.
[http://www.cis.org.au/Events/CISlectures/2002/Harries030402.htm]

If a democratic crusade in the Middle East is such a bad idea, what
should the US be doing instead?

Louis Halle, "The Cold War as History":

... real power is always something far greater than military power
alone. A balance of power is not a balance of military power
alone: it is, rather, a balance in which military power is one
element. Even in its crudest aspect, power represents a subtle
and intimate combination of force and consent. No stable
government has ever existed, and no empire has ever become
established, except with an immensely preponderant measure of
consent on the part of those who were its subjects. That consent
may be a half-grudging consent; it may be a consent based in part
on awe of superior force; it may represent love, or respect, or
fear, or a combination of the three. Consent, in any case, is the
essential ingredient in stable power--more so than physical force,
of which the most efficient and economical use is to increase
consent.

By using physical force in such a way as alienates consent one
constantly increases the requirements of physical force to replace
the consent that has been alienated. A vicious spiral develops
that, continued, ends in the collapse of power.

This suggests that the US ought to focus on strengthening *consent*
for its role in the Middle East.

The two greatest grievances against the US in the Arab and Muslim
world are the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the continuing sanctions
against Iraq. Brent Scowcroft has a concrete recommendation:
groups.google.com/groups?selm=39kD9.23376%248D.846006%40twister.austin.rr.com

While the inspection process is underway, the administration could
launch another diplomatic initiative that could rival the triumph
it just scored [the unanimous UN Security Council resolution],
and at the same time reinforce the success it has just achieved.
This initiative would take the form of devoting the same kind of
skill, audacity and laser-like attention to the Israeli-Palestinian
issue. Such a move could assuage some of the ill will stimulated
in the Middle East and Europe by the hard-hitting Iraq initiative.
It would show U.S. determination to deal with the one issue that
is the primary lens through which the Arab world views the United
States. ...

... a clear, high-profile U.S. effort to move with vigor to build
on our Iraqi diplomatic success with progress on the region's most
vexing and intractable problem could open the way for change in the
region that could be revolutionary, supporting all U.S. aspirations
for the area. It could attenuate -- perhaps even reverse -- deepening
anti-American feelings in the Middle East, feelings that, if left
unchecked, may threaten our security.

For a detailed blueprint from the International Crisis Group, see
[http://www.crisisweb.org/projects/showreport.cfm?reportid=706]
[http://www.crisisweb.org/projects/showreport.cfm?reportid=705]
[http://www.crisisweb.org/projects/showreport.cfm?reportid=704]

--
To me it seems that there's two separate problems:

1. What to do about Iraq's development of nuclear weapons.
2. What to do about hostility to the US in the Middle East.

I accept that in the end, the only way to prevent Saddam Hussein from
acquiring nuclear weapons, which would be disastrous, may be a full-scale
war, as Kenneth Pollack argues. But it's important to recognize that
going to war to solve problem (1) isn't necessarily going to solve (2).
Indeed, it may aggravate the problem. And the neo-conservative hawks'
proposal to solve (2) -- reshaping the Middle East -- looks dangerously
utopian to me.

Russil Wvong
Vancouver, Canada
alt.politics.international FAQ: www.geocities.com/rwvong/future/apifaq.html

Nes

unread,
Jan 9, 2003, 7:03:14 PM1/9/03
to
Russil Wvong wrote:
> "Nes" <nmorph...@myrealbox.com> wrote:
>> Russil Wvong wrote:
>>> Interesting article posted to H-DIPLO comparing the Truman
>>> administration to the current Bush administration.
>>
>> Quote:
>>
>> "...I can't think of anyone in the late forties or early
>> fifties who believed that the unilateral application of
>> American power could solve any problem."
>>
>> The strangeness here is very pronounced. For the US is
>> certainly no more powerful today compared to potential rivals
>> - neither militarily or economically - than it was in
>> Truman's time. Yet, the Bush Administration have opted for
>> ending US participation in anti-nuclear proliferation work
>> (and other dangerous technologies all to do with WMD), for
>> adopting a unilateral defense doctrine (which is really a
>> stance of military aggression), and for ending all major
>> participation in multilateral treaty work under the auspices
>> of the UN.
>
> Interesting point regarding US military power. The
> conventional wisdom is that with the collapse of the Soviet
> Union, US military power is unchallenged.

That's what the media pundits say. But it's wrong. The old Soviet missile
forces, the best missiles, the newest technology, are still waiting
underground in ICBM siloes or in boomers deep in the oceans for the day when
they will be needed. The same goes for the US. The two super powers of old
have simply agreed to scrap some of the older and more demanding systems to
maintain but they are just as ready right now to eradicate each-other as
during the moste tense periods of Cold War MAD! The Russians are having
financial trouble maintaining proper service levels on their missile forces,
so part of the US defense budget goes into helping them out. Nothing must
interfere with the balance of power.

By the way, this is why neither Russia nor the US have really enjoyed a
"peace benefit". And now the US is rearming (as if they ever actually did
decommission anything but a few obsolete systems), and they're spending
money like there's no tomorrow. Cold War military budgets of enormous
expenditure are back in vogue!

> US military
> spending, a relatively small proportion of the US economy, is
> greater than that of the next several countries
> *put together*.

This is a very controversial point. The US isn't truthful (and neither was
the USSR or is Russia) about the true levels of military expenditures. I
seem to recall that during the Reagan years that the US used around 30-35%
of the entire federal budget for the military. That would surely account for
more than a "small proportion" of GDP.

> But in fact you're right, the development of
> nuclear weapons and especially ICBMs means that the US is much
> more vulnerable now than it was at the end of World War II.
> Nuclear weapons are a kind of "equalizer": if you have
> nuclear weapons, which are relatively cheap, it doesn't matter
> how much conventional superiority your opponent has.

Yes, the current US debacle over North Korea and its nuclear weapons program
is a case in point.

> By this reasoning, it's a vital interest of the United States
> to work as hard as it can to prevent nuclear proliferation.
> But neo-conservative hawks such as Richard Perle -- that is,
> ultra-liberals who see the world as divided into good and
> evil, and who believe in spreading liberal democracy by fire
> and sword -- don't accept this reasoning. Perle:
>
> One of the things that...is fundamentally flawed in the
> multilateral approach to arms control -- and particularly
> these large, very large global agreements involving 150 or
> more states -- is that they put together in the same
> regime the good guys and the bad guys, if I can use those
> terms, the proliferators as well as the people who are
> trying to stop proliferation. It's like the police
> entering into an agreement with the criminals, and we will
> all agree to be bound by the same code of behavior.
>
> Unfortunately, these multilateral treaties by their very
> nature accord the potential criminals the same rights and
> respect, if you will, as the countries that are trying to
> contain that behavior. I think it's a fundamentally
> unsound model.
> www.centerforsecuritypolicy.org/index.jsp?section=papers&code=99-D_123

It sounds sensible, but isn't. Would the US agree to a stringent inspection
rutine where the US would have to allow total and unfettered access by
weapons inspectors? Surely not. So Perle is a hypocrite, isn't he? Or
doesn't he know about the "presumption of innocense" in jurisprudence?

> And:
>
> Addressing the Senate Subcommittee on International
> Security in mid-February [1997] (exact date unclear from
> report), Richard Perle, Assistant Secretary of Defense for
> International Security under President Reagan, criticised
> over 50 former US and international military commanders,
> including President Bush's Strategic Commander, General
> Lee Butler, who recently (December 1996 - see Disarmament
> Diplomacy No. 10) argued for significant and speedy
> progress towards a nuclear-weapon-free world (NWFW). Perle
> argued that it was illogical to call for such a world:
>
> "If one assumes a serene world in which sovereign States
> give up their nuclear weapons, how dangerous would the
> weapons be in the first place? And if the world is still a
> dangerous place, how could one safely assume that the
> weapons would be given up."

It also seems that this Perle person has a very active deathwish, and a
nasty one at that where he'd prefer to have the World burn to a radioactive
cinder around him if push came to shove.

> Perle argued that the, as he characterised it, impetuous
> call of the retired military officials reflected a general
> tendency "on the part of military and arms control
> professionals to attribute to weapons themselves the
> properties that, in fact, derive from the political
> situation in which they are fielded."
> [http://www.acronym.org.uk/dd/dd13/13nwfw.htm]

Doublespeak!

A person like Perle would never in a hundred years grasp the exacting logic
or solid argumentation of this reasonable view.

> Of course, Kennan has a much more pessimistic view of liberal
> democracy.
>
> ... this whole tendency to see ourselves as the center of
> political enlightenment and as teachers to a great part of
> the rest of the world strikes me as unthought-through,
> vainglorious, and undesirable. If you think that our life
> here at home has meritorious aspects worthy of emulation
> by peoples elsewhere, the best way to recommend them is,
> as John Quincy Adams maintained, not by preaching at
> others but by the force of example. I could not agree
> more.
> [http://groups.google.com/groups?selm=7oo00v%24dpm%241%40nnrp1.deja.com]

Oh yes. To contrast, Perle would force compliance and never forgive the
World that it doesn't like that. But he's not really a reasonable man,
right?

> --
> It seems to me that there's a debate going on *within* the Bush
> administration, between hawks such as Perle and Paul Wolfowitz
> and those arguing for greater prudence, such as Colin Powell.
> (Powell appears to believe that the goal in Iraq should be to
> disarm Saddam Hussein, not to overthrow him -- although this
> may be wishful thinking on my part.) The unanimous Security
> Council resolution strengthened Powell's hand, but as we speak
> there's probably major arguments going on behind the scenes.

I have a hard time buying the seeming dichotomy between the old Cold War
style "realists" and the new unilateralist neo-conservative hawks. They're
just alternating between who "carries the ball", passing it to each-other,
but the end result will be war after war- no two ways about it. The whole
"show" is monstrously inconsiderate of potential victims and also highly
deceptive, especially since the public in the US is led to believe there are
"doves" in the Bush Administration. Ha!

> Part of the problem is that the hawks' vision -- liberal
> democracy in the Middle East -- is so alluring. If the US
> brought liberal democracy to Germany and Japan, why not the
> Middle East? Even if it doesn't succeed, why not make the
> attempt?

"Would you buy a used car from this man?"

> Having read a great deal of Kennan -- who played a major role
> in the reconstruction of Germany and Japan, after all -- and
> other conservative realists, I'm afraid the hawks' vision
> sends chills down my spine. Kennan spent a lot of time arguing
> against utopian democratic crusades, and to me this seems like
> another one.

Yes, apart from the very likely probability that there really is no
democratic aganda for Iraq (or whoever) in this. It's likely just for show -
a tactic to disperse the critics and an attempt to entice naive right wing
liberals into the fold of "considerate" conservatism with "idealism"!
Propaganda warfare as usual.

> Francis Fukuyama says, "What has been lacking in the current
> debate over foreign policy is the articulation of a point of
> view that is realist, and yet takes seriously the traditional
conservative principle of prudence." Well, here's some.

True enough, except for the claim that traditional conservative US foreign
politics is or has been prudent. As far as I'm aware it's always been
imperial and expansionist in nature, starting right after the formation of
the US in 1776 with some Indian war and continuing to the present time, with
hardly any breaks or discontinuities.

> Kennan:
>
> The English historian Herbert Butterfield has shown us
> with great brilliance, and so has our own Reinhold
> Niebuhr, the irony that seems to rest on the relationship
> between the intentions of statesmen and the results they
> achieve. I can testify from personal experience that not
> only can one never know, when one takes a far-reaching
> decision in foreign policy, precisely what the
> consequences are going to be, but almost never do these
> consequences fully coincide with what one intended or
> expected.
> [http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/foreign/gkchri.htm]

That, at least, is highly accurate. Beware what you wish for...

> Hans Morgenthau:
>
> When an intellectual finds himself in the seat of power he
> is tempted to equate the power of his intellect with the
> power of his office. As he could mould the printed word to
> suit his ideas so he now expects the real world to respond
> to his actions. Hence his confidence in himself, his
> pride, his optimism; hence, also, the absence of the
> tragic sense of life, of humility, of that fear and
> trembling with which great statesmen have approached their
> task, knowing that in trying to mould the political world
> they must act like gods, without the knowledge, the
> wisdom, the power, and the goodness which their task
> demands. [New York Review of Books, July 30, 1964]

Somehow, I doubt that the sleepless nights of doubt and profound
self-examination are common to politicians, or to very many of them. They
are such brassy, superficial, ambitious, and oftentimes ignorant types. It's
mostly hard to understand (at least after they've been elected to office)
how they ever could have gotten where they have ended up through public
trust. Hm, another item of profound strangeness.

> Mark Danner:
>
> Behind the notion that an American intervention will make
> of Iraq "the first Arab democracy," as Deputy Defense
> Secretary Paul Wolfowitz put it, lies a project of great
> ambition. It envisions a post-Saddam Hussein Iraq -
> secular, middle-class, urbanized, rich with oil - that
> will replace the autocracy of Saudi Arabia as the key
> American ally in the Persian Gulf, allowing the withdrawal
> of United States troops from the kingdom. The presence of
> a victorious American Army in Iraq would then serve as a
> powerful boost to moderate elements in neighboring Iran,
> hastening that critical country's evolution away from the
> mullahs and toward a more moderate course. Such an
> evolution in Tehran would lead to a withdrawal of Iranian
> support for Hezbollah and other radical groups, thereby
> isolating Syria and reducing pressure on Israel. This
> undercutting of radicals on Israel's northern borders and
> within the West Bank and Gaza would spell the definitive
> end of Yasir Arafat and lead eventually to a favorable
> solution of the Arab-Israeli problem.

This is a dream, probably the one outcome the Bush Administration hopes for.
But, IMHO, the US will be unable to get there. It doesn't matter if the US
conquers Iraq or establishes bases there (which is highly likely) - the
Islamic World will turn against the US in unison, and the current crop of
bought and corrupt rulers in the Mid-East will be unable to avert that
outcome. The US is walking into a never ending mightmare, NEVER will US
troops be able to leave Iraq peacefully, the occupation will be forever, a
bleeding sore.

> This is a vision of great sweep and imagination:
> comprehensive, prophetic, evangelical. In its ambitions it
> is wholly foreign to the modesty of containment, the
> ideology of a status-quo power that lay at the heart of
> American strategy for half a century. It means to remake
> the world, to offer to a political threat a political
> answer. It represents a great step on the road toward
> President Bush's ultimate vision of "freedom's triumph
> over all its age-old foes."

If "we" (or "our" allies) do it its all right, if others do it is illegal
war, conquest, and aggression. All those plans have nothing with which to
commend them to the international community or to the world public, except
their straight forward double standard of morality, which even a child is
able to discern. They are illegal, they are imperial and aggressive, they
are destabilising, and consequently highly dangerous and threatening.

> In its ambition and grandiosity there has been nothing
> like it in American foreign policy since the "rollback"
> ambitions of General Douglas MacArthur and his allies in
> the Republican Party a half-century ago. Perhaps most
> striking, this vision - drawn from an administration that
> has abhorred all talk of root causes and treats terror as
> a free-floating malignancy with no political history and
> no political goals - acknowledges that for the evil of
> terror to be defeated the entire region from which it
> springs must be made new.

There it is. A clear case of Hybris. The divine punishment for that is well
known...

Yes, those few decisive years of the late General MacArthur in Japan really
have impressed the current unilateralist neo-cons. But they've forgotten
that at the time when MacArthur democratized Japan the Republican Party was
absolutely dead against it, and that MacArthur was persona non grata with
the old pre-war (WWII) Republican leadership. He was simply too
"progressive" and "liberal" in his views. Now, with the distance and
distortion of historical hindsight, the Republicans think they know how to
"democratize" somebody. Well, that idea is simply ridiculous, they're not
even able to play by the few democratic rules of their own nation. How could
they possibly be capable of making hostile Arabs accept a democracy by their
"good graces"?

> Only people who know little about Japan and Germany in the
> 1940s could make such an assumption.
>
> Historical ignorance, however deplorable, is not
> considered an impediment to policy-making in today's
> Washington. But the people putting these ideas forward
> cannot pretend to be ignorant of political Washington, the
> nature and preoccupations of the U.S. Congress today and
> the temper of American public opinion.
>
> The numbers offered in Washington concerning such a
> military occupation are between 75,000 and 100,000 troops.
> This is roughly one-fifth of the total personnel of the
> existing regular army of the United States. And the cost
> of an occupation is estimated at some $16 billion per
> year. That is more than 4 percent of the total U.S.
> military budget for fiscal 2003, including the post-Sept.
> 11 Bush administration's military budget increase.
>
> There is no possibility whatever that the American
> government and public would make such a commitment of men
> and money to Iraq.

There it is, the material reality that'll partly be responsible for the
rapid disengagement by the Bush Administration from any democratizing plans
in Iraq. Just like it happened in Afghanistan last year.

All of the above points are valid, as far as I'm able to tell.

Hm, not sure about the last bit. I think it would all have happened anyway,
just not as quickly.

Well, all of that was highly interesting, Russil. Thanks for the links, they
are very useful.

I'm afraid that the entire extent of the Us political upsets to follow in
the wake of 9/11 are only partly enumerated above. Much more sinister
developments than those mentioned by various writers are taking place. As
far as I can tell, the US has become a provisional dictatorship. It's
constitutional balance between the three branches of government has been
destroyed and the Executive has usurped the major parts of the powers of the
Legislative and Judicial branches. The Executive branch has gained the right
of unlimited interference in the private affairs of citizens, traditional
constitutional protections and guarantees have been made null and void, and
the all powers of law enforcement - massivily enhanced by new
unconstitutional legislation - concentrated in a centralized state run
infrastructure.

This is the beginning of political Fascism - when it comes in the US it'll
be wrapped in the Stars and Stripes (thus an old prophecy). This provisional
and interrim period of constitutional vacuum will probably be of short
duration. The US will get a new constitution, fashioned after the "best"
fascistic models of history. Then the Perles and Wolfowitzes of the
immediate future will no longer have to argue their points, they can simply
tell the World where it's "at", right?

Nes


Russil Wvong

unread,
Jan 10, 2003, 1:47:33 AM1/10/03
to
"Nes" <nmorph...@myrealbox.com> wrote:
> Well, all of that was highly interesting, Russil. Thanks for the links, they
> are very useful.

You're welcome. What it boils down to is, I think the US needs to
win over the hearts and minds of the Arab and Muslim world, not go
on a crusade to bring liberal democracy to the Middle East.

> This is the beginning of political Fascism - when it comes in the US it'll
> be wrapped in the Stars and Stripes (thus an old prophecy). This provisional
> and interrim period of constitutional vacuum will probably be of short
> duration. The US will get a new constitution, fashioned after the "best"
> fascistic models of history. Then the Perles and Wolfowitzes of the
> immediate future will no longer have to argue their points, they can simply
> tell the World where it's "at", right?

To me this is purely dystopian fantasy. :-) According to William Pfaff, the
totalitarian states of the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany were both modelled
on the totally mobilized war societies of World War I. Even in peacetime,
they were organized for total warfare, glorifying militarism, individual
sacrifice, and social cohesion.

The United States today does not match this description at all. It's the
most individualistic, hedonistic, and uncohesive society I can think of.
Nobody is going to rewrite the US constitution for total warfare without
popular backing, and there is none. In fact, actors and celebrities are
going on national television to argue against the war before it even
starts (e.g. the guy who plays Aragorn in Lord of the Rings).

I have no fear whatsoever that the US is going to turn into some kind of
totalitarian state. If the neoconservatives win the struggle within the
White House, they launch their democratic crusade, and things go badly,
I think what'll happen is a repeat of the Vietnam War years. It'd be a
disaster, but I don't think it'll lead to fascism.

Nes

unread,
Jan 11, 2003, 5:50:40 AM1/11/03
to
Russil Wvong wrote:
> "Nes" <nmorph...@myrealbox.com> wrote:
>> Well, all of that was highly interesting, Russil. Thanks for
>> the links, they are very useful.
>
> You're welcome. What it boils down to is, I think the US
> needs to win over the hearts and minds of the Arab and Muslim
> world, not go on a crusade to bring liberal democracy to the
> Middle East.

I'm not sure that the US can do that anymore - i.e. "winning hearts and
minds" in the Arab nations of the Mid-East. The time has passed when that
was a facile "thing" to arrange - buying the Arab street of whatever country
was required to get the job done, subverting whatever government that took
the fancy of Western imperial governments. Now, Arab nationalism - which is
quite unlike Occidental style nationalism in that it focuses on religious
values and institutions, less on the powers of secular government - has come
to dominate the "hearts and minds" of the 0entire Islamic World. How will
the US EVER be able to get out of that fix? - that one billion people on
Earth see them and their nation as deadly enemies? It'll take generations if
it ever happens, won't it?

>> This is the beginning of political Fascism - when it comes in
>> the US it'll be wrapped in the Stars and Stripes (thus an old
>> prophecy). This provisional and interrim period of
>> constitutional vacuum will probably be of short duration. The
>> US will get a new constitution, fashioned after the "best"
>> fascistic models of history. Then the Perles and Wolfowitzes
>> of the immediate future will no longer have to argue their
>> points, they can simply tell the World where it's "at",
>> right?
>
> To me this is purely dystopian fantasy. :-)

Well, as far as the formality of the present condition of the US
Constitution and the three (no longer) independant Branches of Government
are concerned, I'm surely right. The US is formally, from a strictly legal
point of view, a provisional dictatorship.

> According to
> William Pfaff, the totalitarian states of the Soviet Union and
> Nazi Germany were both modelled on the totally mobilized war
> societies of World War I. Even in peacetime, they were
> organized for total warfare, glorifying militarism, individual
> sacrifice, and social cohesion.
>
> The United States today does not match this description at
> all. It's the most individualistic, hedonistic, and
> uncohesive society I can think of. Nobody is going to rewrite
> the US constitution for total warfare without popular backing,
> and there is none. In fact, actors and celebrities are going
> on national television to argue against the war before it even
> starts (e.g. the guy who plays Aragorn in Lord of the Rings).
>
> I have no fear whatsoever that the US is going to turn into
> some kind of totalitarian state. If the neoconservatives win
> the struggle within the White House, they launch their
> democratic crusade, and things go badly, I think what'll
> happen is a repeat of the Vietnam War years. It'd be a
> disaster, but I don't think it'll lead to fascism.

Yes, that is correct, all of it, as far as I'm able to judge, except
possibly your last paragraph. The main reason why the Fascists of the -20's
and -30's in Europe had such an easy time grabbing power and imposing police
state regimes was (partly) due to the deep and lasting changes to societies
as a result of the total warfare mobilizations of the war (WWI) economies.
The US isn't there yet. And as far as I can tell that's the only
(incidental) practical brake on the present powergrab by the "new" extremist
right wing Republicans. Will they be able to overcome this difficulty?
Perhaps, another terrorist incident like 9/11 would surely do the trick! And
then there's a war, and another war, and another war etc. The cummulative
effects will make themselves felt. Each new one will make it easier for the
neo-cons to further their plans.

Nes


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