September 12, 2003

Neo-Cons Have Hijacked US Foreign Policy

This very important story illustrates one important
aspect of what I am referring to when I talk about an
emerging Popular Front of center, left, and yes even
some right of center...Significant elements of the
military and the intelligence community have already
joined in this Popular Front...Remember, this struggle
is not one of right versus left, this struggle now is
about common sense, human decency and the core values
we share with our real allies...

Published on Wednesday, September 10, 2003 by the
Boston Globe
Neo-Cons Have Hijacked US Foreign Policy
by Robert Kuttner

THE COUNCIL on Foreign Relations is the epicenter of
the American Establishment. Its top three officers are
Republicans -- Peter G. Peterson (chair), the former
commerce secretary under Nixon, leading investment
banker, and opponent of social outlay who must chair
half the boards in America; Carla Hills (vice-chair),
a corporate power-lawyer who was US trade ambassador
for Bush I; and Richard Haass (president), who
recently stepped down as one of President Bush's
sub-Cabinet appointees at the State Department. The
council is best known for its journal, Foreign
Affairs, ordinarily a fairly cautious and moderate
publication. So it was startling to pick up the
September-October issue and read article after article
expressing well-documented alarm at the hijacking of
American foreign policy. This is not how the council
ordinarily speaks.

The must-read piece is "Stumbling into War" by former
Assistant Secretary of State James P. Rubin. It
documents that Bush's feint to the United Nations was
a charade; that even as the administration was going
through the motions of diplomacy, war had been already
decided upon.

More important, Rubin documents that another path to
ousting Saddam Hussein was possible, had the
administration been more patient. Other nations, even
France, were in fact prepared to use force against
Saddam, but insisted on letting the inspections
process work first. Rubin demonstrates that every
major European nation "would have been prepared to
support or at least sanction force against Iraq if it
had not fully disarmed by [fall 2003.]" The
administration repeatedly rebuffed British entreaties
to pursue this other course, which would have
preserved a much broader coalition and shared
responsibility for reconstruction.

So America's lonely quagmire in Iraq was entirely
gratuitous. But it's still a well-kept secret that the
vast foreign policy mainstream -- Republican and
Democratic ex-public officials, former ambassadors,
military and intelligence people, academic experts --
consider Bush's whole approach a disaster. In
fairness, it isn't really Bush's approach. Foreign
policy is not something Bush closely follows. Mainly,
he fell in with the wrong crowd. A determined band of
neo-conservatives far outside the foreign policy
mainstream persuaded the president that invading Iraq
would demonstrate American power to tens of millions
shocked and awed Arabs. Instead, it has demonstrated
the limits of American power (but limitless
arrogance), and stimulated a new round of
fundamentalism, nationalism, and terrorism.

The neo-cons also contended that "the road to
Jerusalem goes through Baghdad." In other words, get
rid of Saddam and the Mideast balance of power would
shift; Israel's enemies would be softened up for a
peace settlement on Israel's terms. But much of the
violence between Israel and Palestine is home grown,
and any durable settlement must also be home grown.
The sacking of Iraq has only made both Israel's Ariel
Sharon and the Palestinians more intransigent.

The same neo-cons persuaded Bush that nation-building
and collaboration with bodies like the UN were for
sissies. But now, Bush has blundered into
nation-building in the worst possible circumstances,
in which Americans are viewed as inept invaders rather
than liberators. And he is begging for aid from the UN
and the very nations he scorned.

Does Bush know that he's been had? Increasingly, Iraq
looks like Bush's Vietnam -- a long-term occupation of
unfriendly territory in which Americans are targets;
an adventure based on misperceptions and
misrepresentations, where the benefits fail to justify
the costs.

US Representative David Obey, the ranking Democrat on
the House Appropriations Committee, recently sent the
president a letter which is worth quoting. "First,"
Obey wrote, in eloquent understatement, "I recommend
that you allow the secretary and deputy secretary of
defense to return to the private sector.

"Second, I recommend that the responsibilities for
developing and implementing foreign policy that have
traditionally resided in the Department of State be
fully restored to that department."

Obey goes on to recommend that the military be
restored to its proper role of military planning and
that government-wide coordination of intelligence be
resumed. All of this is by way of pointing out that
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and his deputy Paul
Wolfowitz, with little knowledge of the region,
arrogated to themselves diplomatic, intelligence, and
operational functions, and made a mess of them all.
Now Bush is trying to reverse course without admitting
it. Nothing would make that prudent reversal clearer
than firing this duo, who have ill served their
president and country.As the Foreign Affairs issue
makes clear, there's a large, competent, and
mainstream body of foreign policy experts ready to
step in. Then, the American people can decide whether
to fire Bush.

Robert Kuttner is co-editor of the American Prospect.

Copyright 2003 Globe Newspaper Company.


Posted by richard at September 12, 2003 02:04 PM