Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Immaculately conceived foreign policy

Adam Garfinkle has a thoughtful (and long) essay in Policy Review on what he calls "foreign policy immaculately conceived." He means this: "The immaculate conception theory of U.S. foreign policy operates from three central premises. The first is that foreign policy decisions always involve one and only one major interest or principle at a time. The second is that it is always possible to know the direct and peripheral impact of crisis-driven decisions several months or years into the future. The third is that U.S. foreign policy decisions are always taken with all principals in agreement and are implemented down the line as those principals intend — in short, they are logically coherent." The examples he works thorugh, from the U.S.’s support of the mujahedeen through the Pakistani regime during the 1980’s, to our support of the Shah of Iran (and other "friendly tyrants" problems), to the ending of the Gulf War in 1991, all illustrate the complications involved in making decisions. Another: "When President George W. Bush strove, from September 12, 2001 onward, to make the moral and strategic stakes of the war on terrorism clear, he was immediately enshrouded by an inescapable fog of irrepressible fact: namely, that our two most critical tactical allies in the war on terrorism, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, were the two governments whose policies had led most directly to 9-11. If that was not enough ambiguity with which to start the war on terrorism, the various sideswipes of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict soon provided more." Garfinkle is a speech writer to Secretary of State Powell.

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