Tag: foreign policy

On U.S. Military Policy–McCain is No Reaganite

I wanted to call attention to an article I caught on “RollCall” the other day.  And it’s about McCain’s recent comments about the evil “isolationists” (in this case…a pretty decent portion of the American electorate apparently) daring to question military intervention in Libya:

“I wonder what Ronald Reagan would be saying today?” asked McCain, challenging what he termed the “isolationism” of leading members of the GOP for daring to question Obama’s Libya engagement.

McCain then went on to answer his own question:

“He would be saying that’s not the Republican Party of the 20th century and now the 21st century. That is not the Republican Party that has been willing to stand up for freedom for people all over the world, whether it be in Grenada, that Ronald Reagan had a quick operation about, or whether it be in our enduring commitment to countering the Soviet Union.”

Pascoe then goes on to explain that McCain’s assertion has little no connection to reality, at least the reality that Ronald Reagan considered thoughtful military policy. To illustrate this, he pulls a quote from Reagan’s book, “An American Life”:

What would Reagan do?

Our experience in Lebanon led to the adoption by the administration of a set of principles to guide America in the application of military force abroad, and I would recommend it to future Presidents,” Reagan wrote. “The policy we adopted included these principles:

1. The United States should not commit its forces to military action overseas unless the cause is vital to our national interest.

2. If the decision is made to commit our forces to combat abroad, it must be done with the clear intent and support needed to win. It should not be a halfway or tentative commitment, and there must be clearly defined and realistic objectives.

3. Before we commit our troops to combat, there must be reasonable assurance that the cause we are fighting for and the actions we take will have the support of the American people and Congress.

4. Even after all these other tests are met, our troops should be committed to combat abroad only as a last resort, when no other choice is available.

It’s clear to me that the mission in Libya fails in virtually every way on ALL of these counts:

  1. We have heard no argument–from anyone, least of all the administration–on why it is in our national interest to be in Libya.
  2. It’s apparent the Obama administration has absolutely no clue the importance of point number two, which is one point where McCain is always pretty good on–regardless of who is President–and it’s probably the thing that gets him the most riled up on news shows on the topic (“why won’t these Libertarians let us WIN?!?”).
  3. Congress? Who’s that? Really? He’s supposed to ask Congress.  Don’t think the Obama Administration got that memo.  Say what you want about Bush and Iraq; he at least got a resolution from Congress on the topic.
  4. Well…the funny thing about this one is that it’s inexorably intertwined with number one.  In order for something to be the “last resort” it must mean that one is “resorting” to accomplish something or solve something that desperately needs to be solved, in the resorter’s best interest.  Saying that military intervention in Libya was our “last resort” is almost like saying that as a “last resort”, I had to go twenty miles deep in the woods and shoot someone in the head who was beating their wife.  Maybe if it was someone I knew and loved (an “ally”), that would be possible, or someone that I knew was plotting to beat MY wife…or my friend’s wife.  But what were the other “resorts” that the Obama Administration went through?

The long and short of it is, everyone knows that I consider it one of my favorite past-times to beat up on Paulistinians who say we should “bring them all home” and take care of ourselves…that we should use “friendship and democracy” as the signature feature of American foreign policy, not military strength.  There are a myriad of responses to this.  Responses like, “OK, which countries should we remove our bases from? The ones who DO want us to stay…or the ones that don’t?  What about the ones that DO that are RIGHT NEXT DOOR to the ones that DON’T?” “If the whole globe goes to H.E.DoubleHockeySticks in a breadbasket, who are we going to trade with? If that doesn’t matter, then how is that not isolationist?” ETC ETC.

I think the above criteria from Reagan is a good starting point for the conversation on the topic, and leaves us with the overarching question:

What is our “National Interest”?

That’s a whole conversation for another day, but I think it’s clear that “standing up for freedom” is just not enough all by itself.  It wasn’t for Reagan, and it’s not for us.

Draft, anyone?

This article details the fact that it will require a draft to successfully execute an ambitious military-based foreign policy. Sounds obvious, but it’s rarely pointed out. Here’s an excerpt:

Still, if political leaders want to send the troops to solve a vast range of the world’s problems—if they want a military that’s far-flung, deployed on many fronts, and fighting in multiple theaters—then, at some point, numbers do matter. Or, rather, numbers and missions matter. If we want to maintain all these military missions, then the numbers have to go up. If we don’t want to do everything necessary to push the numbers up, then the missions have to be cut back.

So, should we continue to send troops overseas to fight wars, keep peace, settle conflicts, impose order, and build nations? How do we get the extra troops—pay them a lot more (and where do we get that money?), mobilize all the reserves, reactivate the draft?

Or should we handle international affairs in a different way, relying much more on military alliances and diplomacy—not because (or not just because) that’s often regarded as preferable to unilateral military force, but simply because there is no practical alternative?

I’ll take the latter.


Obama more naive than Hillary supposed.

Hillary accuses Obama of being “naive” for saying he would sit down at the highest level with Iran and Syria, etc., so he decides now to become hawkish, while simultaneously excoriating President Bush on his reckless war in Iraq.

Allright, so Obama’s solution to a reckless foreign policy and the war in Iraq without support from the “International Community,” is to posit a unilateral invasion of Pakistan, a country on a precarious and narrow edge of alliance with us on fighting terrorism? Why? Because that’s where Osama Bin Laden is supposed to be, and everyone knows that as soon as you catch or kill OBL, then we’ve won, and all the terrorists will take their IEDs and go home–as long as we cross our hearts and promise not to fight them anymore. Any OTHER terrorists we kill or capture, three more step up in their place, but not Osama; his group of terrorists are just like those ugly guys in the Fifth Element where if you just take the leader out, the rest of them won’t fight anymore. Just send in Obama the negotiator to take him out.

So if Obama is elected, how does he explain these remarks to Musharraf, when it comes crunch time on the Aghan border, there?

“Hey, Mr President, you know…I was just pandering to those right-wing nut jobs for votes. What’s a fella to do? Need that Middle America vote. You know how it is. I certainly can’t let that Clinton lady call me ‘naive,’ can I?”

And his solution to an irresponsible approach to the war on terror is to:

1) Sit down at the highest level with the extremist nutjobs we’re fighting.
2) Downgrade our “moderate” allies’ wishes and border sovereignty as not very important.
3) Double overall foreign aid to $50 billion.
4) Make foreign aid to Pakistan conditional on a Musharraf success at a Taliban crackdown.

I’m all for number four, number three is just sophistry, but does anyone but me find one and two a little bit odd? How about:

1) Refusing to negotiate with terrorist-supporting regimes.
2) Find more ways to uphold, support, develop and downright coddle those regimes that HAVEN’T sworn our destruction as their top priority (still a majority of the world, thankfully) forcing them to further alienate those regimes that HAVE sworn our destruction as their top priority.
3) Make ALL foreign aid to terrorist heavy nations conditional on their Governments’ crackdown on terrorist training camps…and (not to blatantly preempt a Scottie retort) that would include Israel AND the Palestinian Authority, AND Egypt, AND Jordan, etc.

On that note, does anyone know how to find 2006 U.S. Foreign Aid numbers. The latest I found is 2005:

Top 16 recipients of U.S. foreign aid for 2005:
1. Israel 2.58 Billion
2. Egypt 1.84 Billion
3. Afganistan 0.98 Billion
4. Pakistan 0.70 Billion
5. Colombia 0.57 Billion
6. Sudan 0.50 Billion
7. Jordan 0.48 Billion
8. Uganda 0.25 Billion
9. Kenya 0.24 Billion
10. Ethiopia 0.19 Billion
11. South Africa 0.19 Billion
12. Peru 0.19 Billion
13. Indonesia 0.18 Billion
14. Bolivia 0.18 Billion
15. Nigeria 0.18 Billion
16. Zambia 0.18 Billion


Best Panel Discussion Ever on "The Lobby"

Our newly designated Author Emeritus has a good post and a great link to a debate, put on by the London Review of books, on the often talked about Walt and Mersheimer article titled: The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy.

It’s a very interesting discussion, and intelligent enough to wish that the subject matter had been more broad. If approximately these same guys were to debate ACTUAL policy issues, I would tune in.

No Justice – No Peace

House Republican wants to restrict Pelosi’s travel

This is an interesting way to try to prevent Pelosi from continuing to travel to Iran, Syria, etc. pretending that she is the foreign policy Queen of the United States.

House Republican wants to restrict Pelosi’s travel
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) will not be permitted to use State Department funds to travel to nations that are known to have sponsored terrorism if a Republican amendment to appropriations legislation passes the House on Thursday.
The amendment to the $34 billion State and Foreign Operations bill, offered by Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), prohibits funds to be used to travel to Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan or Syria.