No real comments in the other forum so I thought I would drop it here:
On 9-11 the US might well have had one of the most horrifying days in history. Not bloodiest to be sure, but most definitely most horrifying. For the first time in the history of the US, a nation stared in rapt attention as terrorists flew planes into public non-military buildings. For the first time in history we were actual witnesses to a horror as it happened, not seeing the more sterile after effects censored by the media. We saw it. It was an action that required an action of response. Unlike so many others here, George Bush was in a position to do something, I think he did a good job in expressing the grief and outrage we as a country felt, "You are either with us or you are with the terrorists, you either stand with civilization and good or with barbarism and evil. Choose.". In something like this attack, his statement coalesced the feeling felt by most Americans. American policy was reshaped and focused by Bush.
The new reshaping created a new policy of assertiveness for the US, really not seen since the Cold War. During the prior Clinton year's foreign policy generally tended to light reactive positions to quandaries in the world. For instance an attempt on Bush, illicits some cruise missiles, the Middle East, quick visit by the president and an attempt to rapidly cobble some sort of workable solution. Ephemeral actions, but in all honesty, not immediate dangers to the US. During the Cold War our oceans became ponds with the technology of ballistic missiles. When the war ended they became oceans again, we felt safe, regardless of the realities out there. Now we see the our oceans diminished again and find ourselves forced outward to influence world events, much as we did during the Cold War.
Underneath the Bush doctrine we have forced Pakistan to relinquish their ties, and support of the Taliban and their tolerance of Al-Qaeda. The Saudi's had to deal with the problem of 15 of its own citizens being the terrorists, the US citizenry also has a more suspicious view of the Saudi efforts to side step their lack of democracy by demonizing the West. Bush also strengthened our relations with Russia, China and India, who also have terrorist problems in their lands. Russia, China and India also now have friendlier relations with the US than with each other. Bush also focused on three very real problems with his axis of evil. Iraq (which there is much debate regarding whether to invade, but certainly not the level of depravity), Korea (a strangely prescient view was presented in another thread for Clinton's comprehensive view and bribe to keep Korea from being a nuclear power) and Iran (which was caught selling arms to the PLO and also has a desire for power projection into Afghanistan). While not Axis in a connecting alliance stance, they do present a "big three" of troublemakers for the US and actively and potentially destabilizing influences for their regions. But then we talk about nuance here, Bush did say once "My job isn't to nuance. My job is to say what I think. I think moral clarity is important". Leftists will cringe at words like moral clarity, but it did serve us well in World War II. Moral clarity can be very important in such a large challenge. Europe has no moral clarity. Face, because they are not sure, the Europeans dither and debate, the make plans, then cancel the plans, then make them again, but they never really do anything. We have seen that, and continue to see it in the Balkans.
Some of the complaints about Bush are somewhat old and hackneyed regarding his view of unilateralism. Actually Reagan faced worse resentment when he went to Europe about 20 odd years ago (and he won the cold war ). I remember, right after 9-11 when NATO activated article five (any attack on a single NATO nation was an attack on all NATO nations), Rumsfeld sent an envoy that said basically, thanks, but no thanks (one NATO aid summed it up "Preserve the myth, and laugh" (see the economist for December of last year if I recall correctly). Now, in recent months Bush has modified his actions on unilateralist while keeping the core issues active. With Euro outrage he compromised on the ICC. Middle east, Bush created a "quartet" of the EU, Russia, the UN and the US to oversee the creation of a Palestinian state. In other areas too he has worked hard to avert a continuing crisis (especially between Pakistan and India, which almost led to a nuclear exchange). Does US security translate to global security, or can global security exist and does it translate to US security?
I believe that often we have failed to recognize an "overview" of what Bush's policy has done, focusing on the issue du jour rather than trying to understand the overview. In one sense his policy has created a decidedly uncomfortable "realpolitik" in Europe. Very few Europeans have appreciated the extent to which Europe's relevance to the US has diminished. Europe has lived in a comfortable "Hobbiton" myth of coziness within the sphere of American economics and protection. It is not that way anymore, Europe has not yet really had to wade through conflicts alone, depending, even demanding that the US be involved, even in their own neighborhood the Balkans. This new real politik is fraught with both opportunities and liabilities (including one in which the US needs to reduce their expectations in Europe).
On the other hand, India, Pakistan and Russia have begun to ascend to a level more closely tied to an eastern approach of US policy, as they rise in importance they diminish the US attention to Europe. Europe will be left to its own devices and less active cooperation will come about as "passive" or culturally like minded cooperation will be depended on.
In any case there is a palpable shift in policy and it is very much reflected in both the Bush policy and the world's reactions to it. There are both positive and negative benefits (again did anyone really notice how close Pakistan and India came to a nuclear exchange?).
That's interesting... I would say that it is America that has been living in a comfortable myth, while Europe has been coming to grips with the reality of the world over the past years. America has had the luxury of being the sole superpower - invincible and not needing any help from anyone. Europe, on the other hand, has been forced to build a coalition of very different states - states that have long frequently in the past, yet have now come to work together peacefully. They have come to grips with the fact they now depend on everyone, and that their welfare depends on all other nations. America does not understand this much, even after 9/11.
Bush's strategy has polarized the world, and has placed Europe and the U.N. in far more powerful position than they previously held. Look at his speech over Iraq: No longer is America the spokesman for the "allies". Instead Bush is aiming to convince them to support us, almost in the way that voters are convinced to support one party over another. The polarizing strategy of Bush has placed Europe and other neutral nations in the middle of a war between America and terrorism. Who wins that war will depend on who these groups favor. As long as they are with America, we can intimidate any nation. But without their support, we can do little. We depend on the cooperation of other nations to fight terrorism housed in those nations.
Instead of having the World vs. Terrorism, we are now fighting the war of America vs. It's Enemies, with victory depending mainly on which side the neutral parties support. Both sides can blow eachother up, but the real battles are things like Pakistan choosing to support us. We won that battle, and hence have a much better capacity to prevent terrorism then we would if we had lost Pakistan's support.
Bush needs to recognize this. International support is everything in this game. For instance, we'd like to get Iraq on our side (by implanting a new gov't) but not at the cost of alienating lots of other countries. I think Bush may, in fact, recognize this, based on recent speeches and actions.
[This message has been edited by Tresopax (edited October 21, 2002).]
We all have myths. Kind of like the myth of Europe's co equal relevance in the world. But I think you mention one that has awakened the US view, that perhaps, shows that pre-emption at times is needed. As to needing help, its usually a two way street. I haven't seen Europe as being very likely to help beyond Britain. As a matter of fact, our president being compared to Hitler brings home the fact of how alone we are. And yet we still step forward to help Europe with its messes in which they may be an economic power, but are rather "dwarfish" in their ability to seek solution to problems in their own backyard (Balkans being a prime case).
quote:Europe, on the other hand, has been forced to build a coalition of very different states - states that have long frequently in the past, yet have now come to work together peacefully.
Are we talking about the Congress in Vienna? World War I or World War II?
quote:They have come to grips with the fact they now depend on everyone, and that their welfare depends on all other nations. America does not understand this much, even after 9/11.
It might be that in comparison to Europe our welfare is not so dependent on other nations. The help is appreciated, and wanted. But certainly not on a co-equal basis, a myth that becomes clear when Europes rhetoric outstrips its ability.
quote: Bush's strategy has polarized the world, and has placed Europe and the U.N. in far more powerful position than they previously held. Look at his speech over Iraq:
No, not really, he has isolated the left in Europe somewhat, and the left can only demonize him to maintain power with the hoi poloi. A left that really hasn't had to take much responsibility in the past 50 years other than complain. Of course the same thing happened with Reagan.
Funny how Clinton, who was just as unilateral has had as little criticism. Of course he played the lip service game better than Bush did, but when push came to shove, he was still a US unilateralist.
I think you need to think a bit more about what you are writing Tres, because it really doesn't reflect the reality of the situation, Europe in particular. After the cold war their relevance diminished and Asia's increased. You will again note that Bush has done quite well in the face of a potential nuclear threat in Pakistan and India, China certainly prefers us over Russia and generally some of the key areas of the globe are much more likely to respond to us than others.
I think you need to realize that international support is not everything, certainly not to the risk of American paralysis while other countries debate status and whether they should support us. Bush has gotten better at the Clintonesque lip service because in the end, the US will still do what it needs to do. The hand in the glove (velvet or iron) is still the same hand.
Bush has damaged his ability to build concensus. He like you have done this merely by illustrations of your opinion. Even if Bush steps away from his unilateralist sentiment for a moment, people and international leaders are not going to want to position the Bush administration into a position where they have no check over the US. Bush has shown himself to be negligent of the concerns of others, so why would anyone give him power? So he can do what he wants in the hopes that he might do something that will benefit them?
The key problem here is that you don't think Europe is important.
There is a contradiction though in such belief, when coupled with typical american doctrine.
However, i don't have time to go into it right now since i have school to get to ::sighs::
Your problem Pod is that most of Europe expects US action to be taken. They wanted us in the Balkans (because they could not come to a decision), they wanted the US in Africa and all these other places. Why? Because Europe expects it of the US. So your point is not shared by the factual experiences.
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Despite what Gandalf said, plenty of people deserve death, and brutal dictators are at the top of my list. After killing his sons, it could generate tons of bad PR for the US if he is summarily executed, though. I hope he is taken alive to stand trial in an international war crimes forum, and then sentenced to death for crimes against humanity. That will never happen, though. We're agin international forums in this country. If he is taken alive, he'll almost surely go on trial in Iraq or the US, not any international forum. Saddam awaits the hangman->> <--judges
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