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    30 May 2006

    Neocons Jumping off of the Bush Foreign Policy Titanic

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    In February of this year I mentioned this piece that appeared in NYT Magazine by ex-neocon Francis Fukuyama. Money quote:
    Neoconservatism, whatever its complex roots, has become indelibly associated with concepts like coercive regime change, unilateralism and American hegemony. What is needed now are new ideas, neither neoconservative nor realist, for how America is to relate to the rest of the world - ideas that retain the neoconservative belief in the universality of human rights, but without its illusions about the efficacy of American power and hegemony to bring these ends about.

    Basiclly he recognized that American Democracy with its post-9/11 nationalist sentiments as pushed by Republican conservative war mongers clashes heavily with other nationalisms when pushed from the outside at the barrel of a gun. This should have easily made the short list of concerns for foreign policy experts, or anyone with any clue about the bigger picture of geopolitical conflict. Of course the White House is a business oriented operation. We should have all expected this, I sure did. Unfortunately, the White House did not.

    Now Dr. Fukuyama is joined by his so-called expert friends at the American Enterprise Institute in this short position essay at their website written by Michael Rubin, Danielle Pletka. In it they are a little critical of how the White House used their doctrine. In a nut shell, the Bush Administration brought too much domestic political considerations into the grand foreign policy chess match, and the didn't "stay the course" as it was intended. Not in Iraq but in the grand plan so many of you were led to believe existed and would be implemented to move the Middle East in an alternative direction.
    In Egypt, where only last year Rice made herself a heroine to reformers by demanding competitive elections, the government has accelerated repression. It has imprisoned Ayman Nour, the leading opposition leader, on spurious charges. Where once the Bush administration threatened to withhold aid and won the release of a prominent democracy advocate, it is now silent. In early May, Egyptian police rounded up hundreds of demonstrators rallying in support of two judges who said that parliamentary elections were rigged. Yet Washington does not seek to reduce Egypt's $1.8 billion in annual aid. Instead, this month it hosted President Hosni Mubarak's son (and anointed successor).

    Pressure for changes also has lessened in Syria and Lebanon. In March 2005, in the wake of the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, the Lebanese people rose up to demand democracy and reform. The Bush administration cheered, but it soon lost interest. A July visit to Beirut by Rice, replete with the "obligatory" meeting with the puppet president installed by Syria, sowed doubt about the U.S. commitment to Lebanese independence. Washington's blunders have ensured that a Syrian stooge will likely govern Lebanon for another year.

    The same devotion to form over substance has been apparent in our China policy. Before his 2005 visit, Bush asked for the release of several political prisoners, including a New York Times researcher, Zhao Yan. The Chinese government ignored the request. The same polite query went to Beijing before President Hu Jintao's April visit to Washington. This time, Zhao was released, only to be indicted again once Hu's world tour was complete. Signs of White House displeasure? Not one.

    Is it possible that the administration is questioning the wisdom of promoting democracy as a long-term solution to U.S. national security woes? "Realists" suggest that the president has finally woken up and smelled the coffee. They say democracy gave us an Islamist government in Iraq and Hamas in Palestine. It could give us the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. Heaven knows what it would spawn in China or Libya. Better the devil you know.

    But there is no sign the White House has done any strategic rethinking. The president continues to believe his own preaching, but his administration has become incapable of making the hard choices those beliefs require. Instead, it has been quick to embrace the showy, if transitory, political advantages that come from welcoming Kadafi into the family of nations and China's president on a tour of Boeing.

    The many foreign dissidents and reformers who took Bush at his word are the first to pay the price for Washington's lack of backbone. They were told that if they took risks for freedom, the U.S. would stand with them. Letting them down will make it all the more difficult to find democratic allies. Brave individuals are the real building blocks for transitions to democracy. Without them, as we have learned in Iraq, there are few alternatives to the tyranny that threatens us all

    Posted by Geoff

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