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AEI Goes Squishy

Man, I totally agree with this:

The war in Iraq and its chaotic aftermath, however, highlight the basic unipolarist misconception that sophisticated military and economic power are sufficient to subdue any adversary. . . .

Further, its nuclear edge is tempered by the other nations--including China, India and Russia, which have large, conventional forces and demographic depth--that have the means to respond with substantial nuclear retaliation. Even tiny North Korea, with maybe a half-dozen bombs, has become hard to tackle. The "war on terrorism," for its part, is far more complex than a massive deployment of men and munitions against a clearly perceived enemy-state or coalition of states. In this war, terrorism is not the enemy; it is a battle tactic used by an elusive, globally dispersed, well-funded enemy. Building a worldwide coalition of allies to fight such an enemy is not a policy choice. It is the only option in a war without conventional battlefields. . . .

Today, we are by no means in a multipolar world, one in which a coalition of major powers, acting consensually, would be invariably necessary to resolve international crises. But it is clearly not a world in which America can act unilaterally to resolve crises or wage simultaneous wars--including pre-emptive ones--without being constrained by limited resources and reach. . . .

As former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright once asserted, America is still the world's "indispensable power." It can create avoidable crises by plunging into poorly planned wars of choice, as in Iraq; or it can intervene as a coalition head to create relatively benign outcomes, as in the first Gulf war. But it would be hard to resolve a major world crisis without the active help of the United States. In other words, America continues to occupy the world's leadership position. But it's a board chairman's job, requiring persuasion, the creation of consensus and discreet flexing of power, as well as popular acceptance. Its tasks cannot be performed by a lone maverick. If the United States wants to reassert itself as a widely accepted, and respected, leader of the democratic world, it will have to carry the world with it. Its efforts will fail if it continues to believe it can wield unilateral power indefinitely in a unipolar world.

Well, what's a person to say about something like that except welcome to the left?

September 28, 2004 | Permalink

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Comments

Well, what's a person to say about something like that except welcome to the left?

"Help is on the way"?

Posted by: Kriston | Sep 28, 2004 4:53:27 PM

"Gautam Adhikari is a visting fellow at AEI."

What do you bet that visit is cut short?

Posted by: treetop | Sep 28, 2004 5:03:34 PM

I noticed that too: "a visiting fellow".

AEI: nice to visit, but wouldn't want to live there.

Posted by: ch2 | Sep 28, 2004 5:08:30 PM

Yeah, I'd say Jeane Kirkpatrick, if she can get her snoot out of the vodka, will chime in on Adhikari's visa status.

Posted by: Meteor Blades | Sep 28, 2004 5:11:45 PM

"-Consultant, The World Bank, 1992-present
-Senior Fellow, National Endowment for Democracy, 1998-2003"

Posted by: praktike | Sep 28, 2004 5:12:10 PM

Ah. Perusing his other writings, I see that his hobbyhorse is a closer alliance between India and the US.

Posted by: praktike | Sep 28, 2004 5:14:16 PM

News flash: someone from India opposes the Iraq war. Film at 11...

Posted by: Al | Sep 28, 2004 5:21:41 PM

I have long noticed that large numbers of conservatives believe the choice is between a mediocre liberal and an incompetent conservative. This is not just in regard to foreign policy. Even economically, many conservatives are concerned. While Bush may be good for the rich directly (through taxes), he is bad for business, which is bad for the rich.

The problem is, conservatives seem to prefer an incompetent conservative to a mediocre liberal. I think to some extent, this is because politics has become as personal as rooting for sports teams - or more likely - rooting against sports teams. Hatred of Democrats is probably the deciding factor. Hell, I gre up in Philly and I still hate the Celtics because of "Havelicek stole the ball!"

Then there are also those who are conservative for religious reasons or for the bigotry. There is no hope of swaying those.

I wonder if there is any campaign strategy that could have worked to sway conservatives - some way to allow them to vote for Kerry because it is in their own selfish best interest without them feeling like they are betraying their party. I'm sure it is too late now. That kind of campaign has to simmer slowly.

Posted by: Njorl | Sep 28, 2004 5:25:34 PM

The thesis seems to be that it's better for the US to have allies than not. Newsflash: I don't know anyone, no matter how "unilateral", who disagrees with this.

The situation was not that e.g. France desperately wanted to be our ally in this endeavor and Bush somehow didn't let them because he's so mean. The situation was that France didn't want to be our ally in this endeavor because they didn't want the endeavor to take place. (Don't believe me? Ask them.)

Given this reality we could either (1) not do the endeavor, or (2) do it but without France. For the zillionth time, "do it with France" was not an actual option on the table and a lot of people would look an awful lot less moronic and delusional if they would for god's sake stop pretending that it was.

Posted by: Blixa | Sep 28, 2004 5:36:05 PM

A question - is there a democratic or mainstream place, where experts, with a good blog voice, speak about national security/defense issues?

It seems that most of the sites - such as Victor Hanson, Belmont Club, etc, tend to be right-leaning, other than Intel Dump (which I read daily). "Winds of Change":http://windsofchange.net/ is the only place, other than Intel Dump, where I get a lot of information, and that has a community, although skewed right-wing as well.

But still, it would be great to see a "Daily Kos for security/defense" issues, that hopefully is non-partisan, has an ex-CIA, ex-FBI, anonymous analyst, great categories, etc, and comments turned on.

Does this exist, and I've simply missed it? Winds of Change would do the job, if it wasn't so right-leaning.

Posted by: JC | Sep 28, 2004 5:46:58 PM

And a lot of people would look an awful lot less moronic and delusional if they would realize that option 2) was batshit crazy.

The REASON France didn't want to go is because they knew it was an insanely stupid idea !
Conversely, France agreed to join us in Afghanistan or for the First Gulf War because they were sane ideas !

Those who refused to listen, and preferred their own fantasies to reality should not be allowed to speak again without being accompanied by responsible adults.

Posted by: ch2 | Sep 28, 2004 5:49:02 PM

ch2, your opinion that option 2) was "batshit crazy" is duly noted. It would seem that you've conceded my point, however, that there was no option 3), so, we're done. Thanks,

Posted by: Blixa | Sep 28, 2004 5:54:14 PM

Blixa - Right before the war, it seemed to me that Bush was wrapped up in some sort of comic-book revenge fantasy. You could read it in his body language, his hostile rhetoric, his haste, and so forth. Europeans are an older culture, they see us as "young" and "immature" to begin with. To them, Bush's style must have seemed downright infantile. It's no wonder they were hesitant about the whole endeavor. So yes, you're right that most of the people of Europe were not on board - but I think the reason they weren't on board has a lot to do with Bush.

Posted by: Josh Yelon | Sep 28, 2004 5:56:46 PM

"The thesis seems to be that it's better for the US to have allies than not"

Wrong.

The thesis is that it's crucial for the US to have allies.

Posted by: synykyl | Sep 28, 2004 5:57:45 PM

Josh Yelon,

After a lot of autobiographical/impressionistic sharing about how Bush "seemed to [you]" etc., it would appear that you've conceded my point as well. As for the idea that this was because of Bush, there is precious little evidence for that. Are you really saying that France would have been interested in participating in the Iraq war if only our President had been a different guy? (Keeping in mind that France has explained they're not going to be sending troops there if Kerry gets elected.) No; what you're really saying is that a President other than Bush would perhaps not have decided to invade Iraq. Which is fine, that's option (1), above.

We all seem to have a consensus that there was no option (3). Which is a pleasant surprise.

Posted by: Blixa | Sep 28, 2004 6:02:16 PM

synykyl,


Wrong.

The thesis is that it's crucial for the US to have allies.

The US did have allies in the invasion of Iraq, for the record. That said, if by "crucial" you mean something like "shouldn't do X unless we have", and if that really is the thesis, then I disagree with that thesis.

Posted by: Blixa | Sep 28, 2004 6:03:58 PM

Blixa,
This is a false dichotomy, and I just argued within it.
The real option 3: Working with the rest of allies would have meant.

a) Reinforce our bases in Saudi Arabia (with US and Allied troops)
b) Resume Inspections
c) Get the Europeans and japanese to pony up the dough
d) Make a real deal with Saddam (intrusive inspections for the lifting of food for oil, something we never offered).

Iraq was never the imminent gathering danger it was made to be. Most of the world knew it. They would have given us serious backing to deal with North Korea, which everyone aknowledged as a threat...

Now, one can only marvel at the waste and lost opportunities.

Posted by: ch2 | Sep 28, 2004 6:04:37 PM

The real option 3: Working with the rest of allies would have meant.

a) Reinforce our bases in Saudi Arabia (with US and Allied troops)
b) Resume Inspections
c) Get the Europeans and japanese to pony up the dough
d) Make a real deal with Saddam (intrusive inspections for the lifting of food for oil, something we never offered).

This is all a subcase of my option (1) (not invade Iraq). Yes we are agreed that this was an option.

What was not an option was option (3), invade Iraq with e.g. France's help, as you've conceded.

Posted by: Blixa | Sep 28, 2004 6:08:03 PM

JC - Tacitus is pretty good, as is Obsidian Wings.

Posted by: praktike | Sep 28, 2004 6:11:30 PM

> Are you really saying that France would have been interested in participating in the Iraq war if only our President had been a different guy?

Yes, exactly. Bush's style made it clear that he didn't care about the Iraqi people, he only cared about violent revenge. Given that, it was bound to turn out bad. People who didn't have ideological blinders on could predict this from the outset. That's what turned so many people off the war.

> Keeping in mind that France has explained they're not going to be sending troops there if Kerry gets elected.

Well, of course they're not going to send them after we've already lost. But if Kerry had been in charge from the outset, I suspect he could have gotten European support.


Posted by: Josh Yelon | Sep 28, 2004 6:15:49 PM

Blixa,
MMmmmm.

I disagree that the course of action that I layed out (agressive-threat backed inspections, with a carrot on the table) should be binned with the more simplistic (not invade Iraq). As a matter of fact, because of the threat, it has the possibility to become:

(3b) Invade Iraq with France if Iraq does not comply.

I WILL agree with you that (1) invading Iraq with France (as we have done), was NOT an option.

Posted by: ch2 | Sep 28, 2004 6:17:56 PM

What was not an option was option (3), invade Iraq with e.g. France's help, as you've conceded.

He is conceding that point only because invasion was a bad idea, whether France was on board or not. Whether or not France wanted to join that bad idea is irrelevant.

Posted by: S. Anderson | Sep 28, 2004 6:19:08 PM

Josh Yelon:

[Are you really saying that France would have been interested in participating in the Iraq war if only our President had been a different guy?]

Yes, exactly. [...] if Kerry had been in charge from the outset, I suspect he could have gotten European support.

LOL. Ok, well, we just disagree then; not much room for discussion here. Best,

Posted by: Blixa | Sep 28, 2004 6:19:57 PM

ch2,

As a matter of fact, because of the threat, it has the possibility to become:

(3b) Invade Iraq with France if Iraq does not comply.

And you think France might have agreed to something which could, conceivably, lead to (3b) with nontrivial probability? If so, we disagree and I'd leave it at that. Best,

Posted by: Blixa | Sep 28, 2004 6:21:40 PM

"What was not an option was option (3), invade Iraq with e.g. France's help"

What's wrong with your analysis is that it's hindsight. There WERE potential situations in which France would have been willing to participate in an invasion of Iraq. If Saddam had refused to allow the inspectors into the country, if Saddam had been linked by real evidence to al Qaeda, if Saddam could have been show by real evidence to constitute a threat, then as in Gulf War I, or as in Afghanistan, France we could ahve counted on French support.

It's only becasue none of those things were true that were left with the two options you cite.

Posted by: rea | Sep 28, 2004 6:22:13 PM

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