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Lee Harris: The Multilateral Mirage Can Democrats embrace a sensible approach to foreign policy?
The Wall Street Journal Opinion Journal ^ | February 21, 2004 | Lee Harris

Posted on 02/20/2004 9:13:05 PM PST by quidnunc

The Democratic Party is in a bind. It needs to disagree with President Bush — that, after all, is the point of having two parties. It also needs to be more liberal than Mr. Bush, since that is the only way it can preserve its traditional ideological basis. But on the question of Iraq, the question arises: Is there really a liberal alternative to Mr. Bush's Iraq policy?

For the last several months the Democratic Party has tried to answer this question in the affirmative by employing two different rhetorical smokescreens: sentimental pacifism and multilateralism. Associated with the once hopeful candidacy of Howard Dean, the theme of sentimental pacifism is still on display in front yards across the country, in the form of those signs that tell us, "War is not the answer." But stripped of its rhetoric, what does this actually mean? That the Democratic Party is renouncing war as a matter of principle?

Of course not. The only people whose political views these signs represent is that small minority of principled pacifists for whom all organized forms of violence are anathema. But the Democratic Party cannot afford to become more liberal than President Bush if the cost of doing so is serious pacifism. And that leaves the alternative, the multilateral mirage: Yes, sometimes war is the answer, but only if the war that you have undertaken is multilateral.

This position, as espoused by John Kerry among others, holds that the problem with the war in Iraq was not the objective of the war, or even the war itself, but the way the decision to go to war was reached. It was not made multilaterally; and therefore it was not a war that the U.S. should have been engaged in.

Let's trim off the rhetoric and see what the word "multilateral" really means. Certainly it cannot mean merely having allies, since the U.S. had allies in its invasion of Iraq — and quite respectable ones, too, such as Britain and Spain. But if it means having enough allies to win the war, then clearly, since the Saddam regime is no more, it follows we had enough allies.

Multilateralism, as it is currently used by leading Democrats, means only one thing: action that is officially approved by the United Nations. But the moment this is grasped, the multilateral mirage vanishes. No Democratic candidate can tell the American people that he will only defend their national interests when the U.N. says it's OK for him to do it. That, like the pacifist option, is the path of political suicide.

-snip-

(Excerpt) Read more at opinionjournal.com ...


TOPICS: Editorial; Extended News; Foreign Affairs; Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: leeharris

1 posted on 02/20/2004 9:13:05 PM PST by quidnunc
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To: Tolik
FYI
2 posted on 02/20/2004 9:14:38 PM PST by quidnunc (Omnis Gaul delenda est)
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To: quidnunc
Another good find, which I feel compelled to post in its entirety so we preserve it.

=====

The Multilateral Mirage
Can Democrats embrace a sensible approach to foreign policy?

BY LEE HARRIS
Saturday, February 21, 2004 12:01 a.m. EST

The Democratic Party is in a bind. It needs to disagree with President Bush--that, after all, is the point of having two parties. It also needs to be more liberal than Mr. Bush, since that is the only way it can preserve its traditional ideological basis. But on the question of Iraq, the question arises: Is there really a liberal alternative to Mr. Bush's Iraq policy?

For the last several months the Democratic Party has tried to answer this question in the affirmative by employing two different rhetorical smokescreens: sentimental pacifism and multilateralism. Associated with the once hopeful candidacy of Howard Dean, the theme of sentimental pacifism is still on display in front yards across the country, in the form of those signs that tell us, "War is not the answer." But stripped of its rhetoric, what does this actually mean? That the Democratic Party is renouncing war as a matter of principle?

Of course not. The only people whose political views these signs represent is that small minority of principled pacifists for whom all organized forms of violence are anathema. But the Democratic Party cannot afford to become more liberal than President Bush if the cost of doing so is serious pacifism. And that leaves the alternative, the multilateral mirage: Yes, sometimes war is the answer, but only if the war that you have undertaken is multilateral.

This position, as espoused by John Kerry among others, holds that the problem with the war in Iraq was not the objective of the war, or even the war itself, but the way the decision to go to war was reached. It was not made multilaterally; and therefore it was not a war that the U.S. should have been engaged in.

Let's trim off the rhetoric and see what the word "multilateral" really means. Certainly it cannot mean merely having allies, since the U.S. had allies in its invasion of Iraq--and quite respectable ones, too, such as Britain and Spain. But if it means having enough allies to win the war, then clearly, since the Saddam regime is no more, it follows we had enough allies.

Multilateralism, as it is currently used by leading Democrats, means only one thing: action that is officially approved by the United Nations. But the moment this is grasped, the multilateral mirage vanishes. No Democratic candidate can tell the American people that he will only defend their national interests when the U.N. says it's OK for him to do it. That, like the pacifist option, is the path of political suicide.

There is no need for the Democrats to take this path. They could continue to disagree with Mr. Bush on Iraq and not terminate themselves, but only at a price: They would have to adopt a policy of neoisolationism, a position that is bound to be uncomfortably close to Pat Buchanan's, but which still offers a politically viable alternative to the policy of Mr. Bush.

Many Americans today wish the administration well in its idealistic efforts to bring democracy to Iraq, but remain skeptical of the political realities involved in such an undertaking. But such skepticism is not liberal, nor is it neoconservative; it is conservative in the old-fashioned sense of the word and based on a sober assessment of the difficulty of changing the deeply ingrained collective habits of strange peoples in strange lands.

If the Democratic Party wishes to articulate this conservative and skeptical doubt about the feasibility of extending liberalism to parts of the world that have no indigenous history of liberalism, then it would be serving a valuable purpose in our national dialogue. The Democratic Party would be then opposing the Bush administration on a principle that a large number of Americans can readily appreciate, even when they disagree with it.

Or the Democrats could always decide to stay liberal, and drop their opposition to President Bush's policy in Iraq, as Joe Lieberman has done. In addition, the Democrats might continue to wish that we had stayed out of Iraq, and yet still acknowledge that there is now only one realistic way forward to a more liberal world, and that is the way that America has taken.

Recall the case of William Jennings Bryan. Nominated three times as the Democratic candidate for the presidency, an extreme populist liberal, and yet an isolationist, Bryan resigned as Woodrow Wilson's secretary of state in the hope of keeping America out of the Great War, only to volunteer to fight the Germans as a private the moment Wilson declared a state of war to exist. Bryan saw what was at stake in the struggle, and he knew which side was the only side that he could possibly fight for--America's.
3 posted on 02/20/2004 9:30:17 PM PST by FairOpinion (If you are not voting for Bush, you are voting for the terrorists.)
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To: FairOpinion
Byran, unlike today's Democrats, loved his country.
4 posted on 02/20/2004 10:16:09 PM PST by thoughtomator ("What do I know? I'm just the President." - George W. Bush, Superbowl XXXVIII halftime statement)
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To: quidnunc
The pace of the attacks against our soldiers in Iraq picked up enrmously after our President announced that Iraqi assets were up for sale. If our intentions are truly decent, then it would seem to me that the answer is for the U.S. to give up control of Iraqi assets and oil and allow the U.N. to take this matter into hand. We have no business imposing our own economic far-right-wing economic ideology, which has caused untold misery and suffering to much of the third-world, onto the backs of the Iraqi people, and they know this. Because of the Bush team's refusal to do this, more of our soldiers die, and the world refuses to help, unless we bribe them.
5 posted on 02/21/2004 12:46:27 AM PST by Risa
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To: quidnunc
>>No Democratic candidate can tell the American people that he will only defend their national interests when the U.N. says it's OK for him to do it. That, like the pacifist option, is the path of political suicide. <<

THat's all they'd have to do is point out that our national interests were not defended at all by this war. As it turned out, Saddam was not an imminent threat to our national security, and we have largely abandoned the war against the Taliban, Osama, and the Saudi hordes of Wahhabis, by distracting ourselves with Iraq.
6 posted on 02/21/2004 12:52:54 AM PST by Risa
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To: Risa
There is not one sentence in your comment which contains either alleged fact or opinion which is not flagrantly false.

I suggest you consult Charles Krauthammer's brilliant speech recently convered on C-Span for a quick short course in reality from a man who has done the best thinking in this area and who has clearly identified and diagnosed this latest democrat-liberal disease as Gulliverism.
7 posted on 02/21/2004 3:08:16 AM PST by nathanbedford
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To: Risa
Who are you quoting when you say "imminent threat"?Could you link to the source?
8 posted on 02/21/2004 4:09:17 AM PST by MEG33 (John Kerry's been AWOL for two decades on issues of National Security!)
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To: Risa
and we have largely abandoned the war against the Taliban, Osama, and the Saudi hordes of Wahhabis, by distracting ourselves with Iraq.

And where is your evidence of your claims? What criteria do you adhere to that let's you make such ridiculous assertions? Number of troops? Resources involved?

So you know exactly what is being done in the fronts fighting the Taliban, hunting down Osama (most probably dead) and the confronting the Wahhabis? What information do you have that we don't that allows you to make these accusations?

Did you not hear President Bush when he said, clearly (unless you can't comprehend English) that this war would be fought overtly and covertly? Did you miss the part about success that couldn't even be mentioned?

As to Iraq and Saddam, are you clueless? Have you not understood the change in policy since 9/11? Have you not watched him ignore a cease-fire agreement he signed in 1991 and 16 UN (oh, they sure are tough guys) resolutions? When do you finally slap down the offender?

I hope and pray you don't have children. You couldn't discipline a dog.

9 posted on 02/21/2004 4:18:18 AM PST by Fledermaus (Be careful who you are posting to...It could be a Moby tweaking you with lies!)
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To: Risa
Economic far right wing economic ideology? This sounds like something Marx would write.
10 posted on 02/21/2004 4:29:51 AM PST by MEG33 (John Kerry's been AWOL for two decades on issues of National Security!)
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To: Risa
You can take the UN and stuff it up your butt.

Only a total moron would want the UN involved in anything. But then again, you live in Maine. Practically the seed bed of morons.
11 posted on 02/21/2004 4:32:11 AM PST by Fledermaus (Be careful who you are posting to...It could be a Moby tweaking you with lies!)
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To: nathanbedford
>>I suggest you consult Charles Krauthammer's brilliant speech recently convered on C-Span for a quick short course in reality from a man who has done the best thinking in this area and who has clearly identified and diagnosed this latest democrat-liberal disease as Gulliverism.<<

I don't need you or Charle's Krauthammer to tell me what reality is. I form my opinions on what the soldiers and the Iraqi people tell me, as well as my own exhaustive reasearch. Further, I don't consider Charles Krauthammer to be particularly brilliant either, considering the way he publically vilified American labor for opposing NAFTA--and ten years later American labor turned out to be right about the dire consequences they and the Mexican people would face subsequent to that undemocratic, elitist-serving treaty.

The truth is that the Bush adminstration has no right to put up Iraqi natural resources or assets for sale--they belong to the iraqi people and the Iraqi people have the right to choose what kind of economic system they'll have as well as what type of government. You obviously know little about this issue, and I'd recommend you do some research for yourself rather than listen to Krauthammer.



12 posted on 04/10/2004 9:35:02 PM PDT by Risa
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To: MEG33
>>Who are you quoting when you say "imminent threat"?Could you link to the source?<<

I didn't attribute the words "imminent threat" to anyone. Those are my words. Why do you ask?
13 posted on 04/10/2004 9:46:13 PM PDT by Risa
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To: Fledermaus
>>And where is your evidence of your claims? What criteria do you adhere to that let's you make such ridiculous assertions? Number of troops? Resources involved?<<

Below are three scholarly reports on the status of Homeland security and the war on terroism. By scholarly, I mean they are well-documented and subject to peer-review.

Inadequate Homeland Security
Council on Foreign Relations Report
Drastically Underfunded,Dangerously Unprepared
http://www.back-to-iraq.com/archives/000418.php#000418

For a summary of the above report:
http://www.back-to-iraq.com/archives/000418.php

BOUNDING THE GLOBAL WAR ON TERRORISM
Jeffrey Record December 2003
http://www.fas.org/man/eprint/record.pdf

America at Risk: A Homeland Security Report Card July 23, 2003
http://www.ppionline.org/ppi_ci.cfm?knlgAreaID=124&subsecid=900019&contentid=251895


I have been absent from my computer for a long time, so I am so I am just reading your repsonse to this issue. If you don't recall what this is about, I apologize for the intrusion at this late date.

best,
risa
14 posted on 04/10/2004 10:12:20 PM PDT by Risa
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To: Risa
Imminent was a term used to discredit the President..saying or implying the President said Iraq posed an imminent threat The President instead said he didn't want to wait for an imminent threat.

David Kay said,even without WMD discovered,Iraq was more dangerous than we supposed because of their scientific knowledge and the general chaos of the government.Selling secrets was a real danger and terror camps could proliferate.

We,of course,have not abandoned our war against the Taliban...Hammer and Anvil continue on the border of Pakistan and Afghanistan.

How long did it take to catch Eric Rudolph?The hunt for Osama continues and for his deputy.
15 posted on 04/10/2004 10:24:18 PM PDT by MEG33 (John Kerry's been AWOL for two decades on issues of National Security!)
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To: Risa
"Workers of the world unite, you have nothing to lose but your chains!" Is this your motto Risa?

Sounds like you may have had an all too typical American college education. It's a pity.

By now you may realize that members of this site think that free-market capitalism is the only econmic system a free people can freely choose by definition. It's called a "demand" economy--as its run by the people's demands...from the bottom up, not the top down.

All others are variations on "command" economics...which means a powerful government elite tells people what to do and owns much, most or all of the countries resources. Such is socialism, in one form or another.

There's a reason why the most prosperous and fastest growing economies on earth are capitalist. Show me a country rich in resources with a command economy--show me another with no resources with a demand economy--and I'll show you a poor vs. a rich country.

The Asian tigers come to mind, vs. African countries. It's very sad to see poor countries (often with lots of valuable resources) again and again turning to failed socialist command systems, when shining examples exist of countries with NO resources(with brutal histories of Western colonialism too)--and a commitment to a market economy--which are wildly successful.

God bless W. Bush for trying to push Iraq, kicking and screaming, into peace and prosperity. I hope and pray it works.
16 posted on 04/10/2004 10:36:35 PM PDT by AnalogReigns
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To: Fledermaus
>>You can take the UN and stuff it up your butt. Only a total moron would want the UN involved in anything. But then again, you live in Maine. Practically the seed bed of morons.<<

Before you go calling other people school-yard names, or telling people to stick things in their butt (you must be gay ),I would suggest that you learn some critical thinking and reasoning skills, and how to construct a rational argument.

Mission Critical Thinking
http://www2.sjsu.edu/depts/itl/

The logical fallacies Index(see 'attacking the person')
http://www.intrepidsoftware.com/fallacy/toc.php

Critical thinking across the Curriculum
http://www.kcmetro.cc.mo.us/longview/ctac/deduct/index.htm

Power of Logic Tutor
http://www.poweroflogic.com/cgi/MC/mc-fixed.cgi?exercise=1.1A

Critical thinking on the web
http://www.austhink.org/critical/




17 posted on 04/10/2004 10:37:36 PM PDT by Risa
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To: AnalogReigns
>>Workers of the world unite, you have nothing to lose but your chains!" Is this your motto Risa?<<

Before I answer, I'd like to know if you have ever studied economics? And What kind of education background do you have that makes you qualified to criticize the education of others?

You certainly don't know much about how the Asian economies acheieved their success--it wasn't by the libertarian market fundamentalism that the Bush administration wants to impose upon Iraq--that's for sure.

18 posted on 04/10/2004 11:14:28 PM PDT by Risa
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