August 02, 2004

Kerry's Foreign Policy

Actually, let me emphasize the point of this post on Kerry's probable foreign policy.

There are four components to undertaking an action: goal, strategy, plan and task. If agreement is not reached on the goal, the strategy to achieve the goal is meaningless to those who don't concur with the goal. Similarly, if the strategy is not agreed upon, then the plan is irrelevant at best. Changing goals requires changing strategies, which in turn requires changing plans.

For example, in the Cold War, the consensus goal, developed starting with Truman and Churchill, was that Communism represented a threat to the US and the West and had to be defeated. The strategy, developed soon after, was containment: the USSR and China would not be allowed to spread Communism further than it already had spread. (This is why Viet Nam was a lost war: Communism spread. The fact that S. Viet Nam was not a democracy was irrelevant to any measurement of victory.) In the Cold War, President Carter was judged largely on his failures in implementing that strategy. (Reagan, by the way, changed not just the strategy, but also the goal: from containment to economic collapse.)

Now, with the Terror Wars, history will likely start this period with the fall of the Shah of Iran, overlapping the end of the Cold War. But we did not even think of it as a war until 9/11, and some people (apparently including much of the policy wonks and high political officials of the Democrat Party) still do not see us as being at war in any meaningful sense. So the Presidents of this period, starting primarily with George H.W. Bush, will be judged in the end by their reaction to the threat of Islamist terrorism. Both Bush 41 and Clinton will be judged somewhat harshly for not seeing the rise of Islamist terrorism as the threat it is (though Clinton will likely suffer more, largely because both the end of the Cold War and Desert Storm occurred on Bush's watch): they did not grapple with the problem and espouse a goal.

Bush 43 has set a national goal: the destruction of terrorists with international reach and of all states which support such terrorists. The strategy is not entirely clear, but it seems that "shrinking the Gap" by democracy promotion in formerly terrorist supporting States, combined with absolute containment of nuclear proliferation beyond where it was at the start of the century, is the most likely contender. The Democrats will not help with the enumeration of a national strategy, because they fundamentally disagree with the goal that President Bush has set out.

For most Democrat leaders, Kerry clearly included, the national strategy in foreign policy is to use the military for showboating and tinkering around the margins, largely at the behest of the UN and Old Europe, and only when our national security interests are not truly on the line. The reason for this is that the Democrats largely do not have a foreign policy goal (that is seen as a distraction from the "real work" here at home on advancing towards Social(ist) Democracy in particular and Statism generally). To the extent the Democrat leaders have thought about foreign policy in positive terms (ie: what they will do rather than what the Republicans are doing wrong), they seem to be of the opinion that transnational progressivism - fundamentally the transfer of sovereignty from States to an international government - is the proper policy.

Because there is no agreement between Democrats and Republicans on the goals of foreign policy, there can be no agreement on strategy. And to some extent, the discussion of foreign policy right now is very disingenuous, because the Democrats don't agree with the Bush Doctrine goal (defeat the terrorists and States that sponsor them) but don't want to say so publicly because the public by and large agrees with that goal.

Here's the kicker: if President Bush is re-elected, it is likely that the strategy he has been following will work: we will have a much more stable and free Iraq in four years than now, and likely will have invaded Iran and/or Syria as well, and will have gone a great way to reducing terrorism; while if Kerry is elected, it is likely that we will be where we were at the end of the Carter administration: dispirited, wandering, leaderless and deeply in malaise - and will have suffered many, many more casualties than if we were actively making war on the terrorists.

Again, vote as if your life depends on it.

Posted by Jeff at August 2, 2004 07:59 PM | Link Cosmos

Well put.

Posted by: sama on August 4, 2004 08:38 AM
Post a comment