Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Clinton as the fox

Charles Krauthammer compares Reagan with Clinton, as hedgehog and fox. "Clinton was the fox. He knew -- and accomplished -- small things. His autobiography is a perfect reflection of that -- a wild mishmash of remembrance, anecdote, appointment calendar and political payback. This themeless pudding of a million small things is just what you would expect from a president who once gave a Saturday radio address on school uniforms."

"His great failing was foreign policy. Viewing the world through the narrow legalist lens of liberal internationalism, he spent most of his presidency drafting and signing treaty after useless treaty on such things as biological, chemical and nuclear weapons. All this in a world where the biggest problem comes from terrorists and rogue states for whom treaties are meaningless."

Discussions - 9 Comments

Oh, Charles! If anyone benefited from our "holiday from history," it’s George Bush, who ran in 2000 on the idea that the U.S. should retreat from the world, put up a missle shield, and refrain from foreign adventures in "nation building," and no one should worry if he can’t recall the names of his counterpart in Pakistan. Now he’s serious about terrorism, in a sense, but that’s a function of circumstance.

K’s piece shows much of the failings of neocon foreign policy thinking: using force is the sign of seriousness, while building ties of good will to other countries is derided as liberal mushy-headedness.

I should think that if a willingness to resort to arms were really the neo-cons’ standard for measuring the seriousness of one’s foreign policy, the Clinton administration would rate quite well.

I always thought building ties to other nations was a matter of prudence. This applies to allies as well as enemies. Prudence dictates many paths in foreign affairs. One should be strong and enforce one’s principles and treaties and not allow others to see signs of weakness. For example, Afghanistan and Iraq, in combating terrorism, finding/preventing rogue states & WMD’s, and stopping treaty violations from a previous war. China and N. Korea will probably dictate negotiation out of prudence and strength because fighting a nuclear war to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons is probably not all that prudent. Finally, dealing with allies necessitates prudence. One does not always need to go along with allies - for example, Europe - because one’s interests and principles should probably trump amiability. But, clearly it is wise and prudent to have allies and so they should be maintained and wounds healed after tensions occur, if possible. Sound prudent, Brett?

Also, if you’re attacking Bush for changing his foreign policy from his plans in 2000 to 2004, is there any possibility that a "little" event called September 11th might have changed things a little? In this case, some force just might be necessary and prudent in a "new world order." Building ties in this world instead of the application of military force where necessary is imprudent and downright stupid. One might think that it is the responsibility of other nations to recognize THEIR need to build alliances and bridges rather than capitulating them and any principles that just may be right - I am thinking of the pitiful example of Spain’s withdrawal from Iraq after its suffering the terrorist attack and voting in socialists to combat terrorism. Boy, sounds prudent to me!

Tony: When you say
some force just might be necessary and prudent in a "new world order." Building ties in this world instead of the application of military force where necessary is imprudent and downright stupid.
you seem to be saying that the use of military force is completely justified if any nation sees fit. Do you think it’s prudent for a nation to wage an agressive war in violation of international law? Do you see any value in international law?

Correction: Before my last post was uploaded, I was disconnected and so the punctuation was botched. The punctuation should read: "some....stupid,"

The remainder of the post should be okay.

Frank - Who enforces international law?

International Cops and International Judge Judys.

Unless it’s an International Wild West in which case we use the International Marshal and the International Sheriff (i.e. International Cowboys).

John: Maybe, although the deployments under Clinton pale in comparison to what’s happened in the past few years.

Tony: Two points. 1) Note which treaties Krauthammer derides. I’m not sure he agrees with you even on the prudence issue. 2) Bush was responding to events after 9/11 (recall what he was doing on that fateful day). That’s fair enough. It remains to be seen whether the response (in Iraq at least) really is "prudent."

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