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Posts Tagged ‘Bush’


From Liberty to Reapolitik: What Are The Tradeoffs?

   Posted by: FMFP    in Uncategorized   Print Print

Obama’s approach to foreign policy offers the country a return to realpolitik. The idea that foreign policy should be based on practical considerations rather than ideological ones. To be sure, we have witnessed a genuine shift in standard party lines over the past eight years with a conservative President preaching the gospel of liberty while liberal critics at home defend the virtues of a realist foreign policy. Ironically, the debate has been turned inside-out with many on both sides of the aisle echoing their ideological predecessors’ critics. Admittedly, I myself have become confused on the best approach to take to advance America’s interests.

There are certainly valid concerns that America cannot impose its Western views and system of democratic capitalism on other countries against their will. At least not successfully. And efforts to do this have often resulted in increased anti-Americanism and possibly even more jihad-type blowback. As well, realist non-intervention policy allows us to avoid tough questions like why did we intervene in Somalia but not Rwanda, Bosnia but not Darfur or why did we invade Iraq and not North Korea. The arguments against nation-building seem logical and intuitive.

On first glance, the idealist foreign policy seems utopian and arrogant – traits that I would certainly not want in my foreign policy. According to critics of this policy and its current adherent, President Bush, the results have been equally negative. During President Bush’s tenure, we have seen a continuing network of terrorists intent on destroying the West and America in particular. Attacks have hit many countries: Spain, Indonesia, India, Britain, Netherlands, etc. But have they increased? I don’t know. I’m sure there are many different statistics out there that support both positions but regardless, we would like to see less violence. We have also seen the anti-Americanism in many countries increase. This sentiment possibly helped populists like Hugo Chavez and Evo Morales or strongmen like Putin or Ahmadinejad distract their populations from their government’s failed policies at home. But to what extent it is hard to know. Finally, we have spent enormous amounts of money and American lives on a policy that has yielded few quantifiable results. With all this, it appears the costs clearly outweigh the benefits.


Upon further inspection, however, perhaps the world was made a better place. In Iraq we have finally seen some progress and can begin to feel a little more hopeful of that country’s future. We saw Libya’s leader, Moammar Gaddafi relinquish his nuclear weapons upon a presumable estimation that it was better to deal with the West than to face potential war and revolution. Additionally, we witnessed several peaceful revolutions in Ukraine (Orange), Georgia (Rose) Kyrgyzstan (Tulip) and Lebanon (Cedar). These were important events as well. For instance, in the Cedar revolution, we saw the Syrians expelled after nearly thirty years of occupation. In Afghanistan, we see great turmoil still, but women undoubtedly have more rights than before when the Taliban was in charge.

There has been some undeniable successes in the foreign policy world associated with President Bush’s liberty-spreading idealism (and tinge of machismo). Of course, success in stopping Iran or North Korea in their efforts to obtain a nuclear weapon have not been so successful. But you could argue that those are situations where the US and international community have taken a much more realist (and “diplomatic”) approach.

In any event, in the next four years we are likely to see a much different approach that we can only hope is as successful at freeing people from the chains of oppression. Will an Obama administration possibly become more liberal internationalist in office? How will Obama be more ‘realist’ than Bush? How more idealistic? Was the Bush administration’s emphasis on democracy really that much of a departure from America’s past? Or was it a departure in a positive way, i.e., remedying past support for cruel dictators in the interest of stability?

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North Korea: The Limits of Diplomacy

   Posted by: FMFP    in China   Print Print

Anyone following the North Korean diplomatic situation over the last ten years or so can’t help but throw their hands up in the air. Perhaps the consistent theme in all of the agreements and compromises that have been reached over the years is that North Korea always wins. At no point does this seem more true than today.


Two months after convincing the U.S. to remove North Korea from the State Department’s list of terror sponsoring countries in exchange for written verification of its nuclear disarmament process, North Korea has reneged. In what seems to be an almost comical series of rebukes on U.S. led diplomacy, the North Korean regime has refused to provide written verification that it is in fact, actually disarming its nuclear capabilities. Anyone counting on a nuclear free Korean peninsula, I wouldn’t hold my breath.


Even worse is that the North Koreans have already begun reaping the ‘rewards’ of the fuel oil agreement reached under the six party talks with China, S. Korea, Japan and Russia. Supposedly the remainder is going to be halted upon receiving this verification, but this is basically just kicking the can farther down the road until the Obama Administration takes office in January.


What do we have to look forward to? Obama has denounced the hardline stance of the early Bush Administration and the six-party talks and instead called for bilateral negotiations, saying “more diplomatic engagement is necessary.” Perhaps Obama was referring to the good ole days of bilateral negotiations in the 1990′s under President Clinton. Leading up to the 1994 Agreed Framework, North Korea threatened to pull out of the non-proliferation treaty and develop a nuclear weapons program. This was met by negotiations that allowed the North Koreans to give up their nuclear ambitions in exchange for the equivalent energy in fuel oil and two 1,000 MW light water reactors to be primarily subsidized by the U.S., South Korea and Japan.  Unsurprisingly, the fuel oil began to flow but the attempts by North Korea to enrich uranium, disallow IAEA inspectors free access, and bait its neighbors continued.


"I will make you an offer you can't refuse. I'll even throw in a nuke. Let's Deal!"

The type of diplomacy used by the Bush Administration under Christoper Hill and Condi Rice has consistently failed to move the ball forward and it is unlikely more talking by an Obama Administration will do any better. Kim Jong-Il has consistently gotten the upper hand in his dealings with the US/West because he realizes that no matter how many North Koreans he starves or nuclear weapons he chases, the limits of diplomacy will save him.

We need a new strategy for N. Korea, one that can actually move/force them to discontinue their nuclear weapons program.  

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Nuclear Deterrence Expanded Strategy

   Posted by: Pat    in China, Russia   Print Print

Deter This!

In the final few months of the administration, the Bush team is making a strong stand on strengthening and expanding American nuclear deterrence, mainly in terms of non-state actors and terrorists.  In 2006, right after N. Korea detonated its first successful nuclear test, Bush stated the rogue state would be held “fully accountable” for the transfer of nuclear weapons or materials to any nation or terrorist organization.  And in late October, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates (who will be Obama’s Def Sec as well) made a major speech with this emphatic statement:

“[T]he United States will hold any state, terrorist group, or other non-state actor or individual fully accountable for supporting or enabling terrorist efforts to obtain or use weapons of mass destruction – whether by facilitating, financing, or providing expertise or safe haven for such efforts.”

So anyone, I mean anyone, ‘supporting’ or ‘enabling’ terrorist efforts to get and then use WMDs will be held responsible.  The way they will be held responsible is still cloudy, but one can assume Gates and the United States are warning of a cloud that is very clear.  President-elect Obama has stated that he views the detonation of a WMD in US territory as the greatest threat to American national security and I imagine he will be rather supportive of this policy.  

This newly defined deterrence doctrine still has a lot to be worked out.  How will the U.S. expanded deterrence policy work with its NATO or U.S.-Japan alliance commitments?  How will the deterrence policy work in a complicated world of allies, partners, neutrals, great powers, and hostile states?

There are many ways that the US can use such a policy to bring together a multilateral grouping that can tackle this problem, which nearly all can agree is a serious threat to international security.  The Obama administration could lead a charge for first NATO, followed by other allies like Japan and Australia, to wed their deterrent policy to the United States and further the work of the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism and the Proliferation Security Initiative in curtailing the growth of WMDs.  One can also see Great Powers like Russia and China wanting to work together in making sure that terrorist and other unstable states or groups gain WMD capabilities.  Elbridge Colby of Real Clear Politics also asserts that the initiative would reduce friction and even conflict in the aftermath of a catastrophic strike, given that, currently, there is no clear set of rules of the road for countries either suffering or inadvertently serving as a launch pad for an attack.

What do you think of this ‘expanded deterrence’?  Will Obama augment the policy or follow it forcefully? Will the US be a leader in promoting a similar form of deterrence with its allies and around the globe or are state’s interests too diffuse and protected to join together in such an important security matter?

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How's it going? My names Barack.

Nearly two weeks after Pres-elect Obama picked his national security team, most of the press and even some on the right are praising him for his prudent selections. I must admit that the moderation and experience of his team are reassuring to those who listened to him on the campaign trail often pander to the peacenik Left. So similar to his economic team selections, Obama has delivered on form.

Unfortunately, this is right on target with the prediction during the campaign that the Right can expect some good people (form) on Obama’s team but it should not hold its breath for friendly policy (substance). Putting aside the interesting and perhaps prescient talk of a clash of personalities in Obama’s cabinet, there are lots of important national security policies that could directly affect our immunity from an attack on U.S. soil. This threat might require Obama to “give” some substance to the Right.

Scientific Chart

Stuart Taylor of the National Journal does a good job laying out a few of these policies in his recent article “Balancing Security and Liberty,” where he calls for prudence to carry the day when making these national security decisions, such as on interrogation methods, wire tapping, POWs, etc.:

“This prospect [of a nuclear detonation in a major city] puts into perspective the efforts of many human-rights activists, Obama supporters, and journalists to weaken essentially all of the government’s most important tools for disabling terrorists before they can strike…

Indeed, the prospect of anyone in the U.S. being inappropriately wiretapped, surveilled, or data-mined seems to stir the viscera of many Bush critics more than the prospect of thousands of people being murdered by terrorists. This despite the paucity of evidence that any innocent person anywhere has been seriously harmed in recent decades by governmental abuse of wiretapping, surveillance, or data mining. On these and similar issues, Obama will have a choice: He can give the Left what it wants and weaken our defenses. Or he can follow the advice of his more prudent advisers, recognize that Congress, the courts, and officials including Attorney General Michael Mukasey have already moved to end the worst Bush administration abuses.

[O]ur way of life may well depend on catching nuclear or biological terrorists before they can strike. And the only way to catch them is through aggressive use of wiretaps, data mining, searches, seizures, other forms of surveillance, detention, interrogation, subpoenas, informants, and, sometimes, group-based profiling. Many of these powers and techniques are still tightly restricted by the web of legal restraints and media-driven cultural norms that were developed in sunnier times to protect civil liberties — and would be even more tightly restricted if civil libertarians had their way. I sketch below how Obama should strike the liberty-security balance in three areas…

Wiretapping and data mining:…Obama, a harsh critic of Bush’s secret, unilateral defiance of FISA’s rules from 2001 through 2005, wisely broke with most liberals by voting in July to relax those rules. He should propose a complete overhaul and simplification of the almost incomprehensibly complicated law. It should be easier to use sophisticated computer data-mining programs to fish through millions of calls and e-mails for signs of possible terrorist activity. At the same time, privacy protections should be improved by tightening the rules to detect (through use of audit trails) and prevent unnecessary dissemination or retention of the intercepted information and to punish severely any misuse of it. An additional privacy protection, suggested by Posner, would be to forbid use of this information for any purpose (including, say, tax fraud prosecutions) other than to protect national security.

Detainees: Obama should keep his promise to close the Guantanamo prison camp, within a year if possible, and should release as soon as possible and urge Congress to compensate all detainees who are found to be both nondangerous and nonprosecutable… But Obama should spurn the clamor to simply release any and all of the more than 240 remaining detainees who cannot be criminally convicted. Instead, he should establish a blue-ribbon, bipartisan commission to study all the available evidence on each detainee. Many may turn out to be both extremely dangerous and impossible to convict of crimes, as the military claims, because of strict rules of evidence and other obstacles. Obama should continue to detain that group, probably in U.S. lockups, while working with Congress to establish a new process to give these men every possible opportunity to challenge the factual and legal bases for their continued detention.

Interrogation: Obama should promptly issue an executive order reinforcing the criminal ban on torturing detainees and imposing a general rule against harsh methods. He should also direct the Justice Department to revoke or revise any as-yet-unrevoked legal opinions taking an unduly narrow view of the anti-torture law. But for reasons discussed in my May 3 column, he should preserve the option of using coercive methods short of torture in especially urgent cases, if the attorney general personally approves. And he should ask himself: What would I want done if the CIA captures another terrorist mastermind such as Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, who is determined not to talk but whose secrets — if extracted — might well save many lives?…”

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Afghanistan: US Review of Conflict

   Posted by: Pat    in Middle East   Print Print

A French NATO solider looking over Kabul

In September, with the Afghanistan situation becoming more untenable and dangerous, the Bush administration ordered an extensive review of the conflict. The review was headed by War czar Lt. Gen Douglas Lute and included many expert voices from inside and outside government and was due to be completed in time for the new administration. Pieces of the reports assessments and recommendations are finally coming out. Here is what we know about its assessment so far.

The Afghan security situation is definitely precarious and risks becoming worse if the Afghan government continuous to be unable to stretch its authority further outside of Kabul. The report acknowledges that the US/NATO and other international aid groups need to focus on extending good governance and services throughout the country and do whatever they can to bring enough security to cities and towns so economic activity can blossom.

One of the central parts of the review seems to be a greater emphasis on viewing the conflict in a more regional light, especially regarding Pakistan. Though the report does not seem to weigh too much one side or the other on attacks in Pakistani territory, it does strongly admit that the two nations’ futures are forever intertwined and any solution to one involves the other. A senior military official stated:

In this regard, the review urges Mr. Obama to take a far more regional approach to the problem, as Barnett R. Rubin and Ahmed Rashid suggested in their latest Foreign Affairs piece. Another US senior official, involved in writing the report, discussed the lack of progress made by American public and financial report to Pakistan since 9/11:

“We’ve gone seven long years proclaiming that Pakistan was an ally and that it was doing everything we asked in the war on terror. And the truth is that $10 billion later, they still don’t have the basic capacity for counterinsurgency operations. What we are telling Obama and his people is that has to be reversed.”

Of course the destabilizing Mumbai attack makes all of this that much more complicated as the US/NATO desperately want to avoid any serious military build-up or clash between India and Pakistan, as just the fear of such a thing would cause Pakistan’s military to redeploy their Afghan border troops to the south.

From what I’ve read about the report so far, it seems to agree that the Afghan situation needs more troops, but I could not get any specifics. The US military announced that the first brigade, about 3,500 to 4,000 troops, will be deployed to Afghanistan this January and the location of their placement speaks volumes about the war’s progress. Most of these soldiers will be based just south of the capitol Kabul and its nearby Logar and Wardak Provinces, with only a few heading to country’s deep east and south, where most of the major fighting has occurred. Kabul and its adjacent provinces at one time were considered rather safe, but attacks by insurgents have risen steadily in the past year, and it is hoped that these troops can provide greater security. It is unknown exactly where or when the rest of what is reportedly to total 20,000 additional American troops will be deployed, but one can assume the nation’s southeastern border with Pakistan a likely site.

Also of note, according to American commanders, the Taliban is expected to have more of their fighters remain in the country (instead of going back to Pakistan), in order to continue the momentum and territorial gains. So this winter is not expected to be as calm as hoped.

(Photo Source: First two by Zainal Halim, last one by Center for Sacred Story)

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I would like to share with you two videos that bring interesting views and ideas about many important issues facing the world and more specifically the Obama administration.  The first video is more all encompassing and features Council on Foreign Relations President Richard Haas and Brookings Institution Saban Center’s Martin Indyk being interviewed by The Man, aka Charlie Rose.  The video covers many issues (listed below) and is centered around the new book ‘Restoring the Balance: A Middle East Strategy for the Next President.’  The book features many worthy and proven IR scholars, but how many times must we here that America has been off-balance and needs a new direction, are we really that off our historic trajectory?  

Issues covered:

  • Assigning a US envoy each for Israel-Palestinian and Pakistan
  • US rapproachment with Syria
  • Unconditional negotiations with Iran
  • Iraq falling off in its centrality to US foreign policy
  • Obama’s likely slower moving democracy promotion
  • Balancing with and against Russia

The second video is a short clip featuring research fellow Neil Joeck from Lawrence Livermore National Labs speaking about Obama, Pakistan, and the use of nuclear weapons.  Joeck outlines:

a possible Obama nuclear policy, which may include reducing the U.S. nuclear stockpile and acknowledging weapons only be used as a deterrence.

However, Joeck says America’s stance will have little affect on Pakistan because the country does not need to use nukes as a deterrence, but rather to prevent a conventional war with India.

He also said, “From Pakistan’s point of view nuclear weapons are not ethically bad or morally bad.”



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NATO has just finished another formal summit of member foreign ministers yesterday and several interesting issues were debated. Going into the summit were the central issues of Georgia and Ukraine’s future membership, the US missile defense system in Eastern Europe, relations with Russia (connected to the previous two), and the war in Afghanistan.

Weeks ago i discussed here, how the Bush administration was making a strong push for a more rapid acceptance of Georgia and Ukraine into the Alliance. Much has been made of Germany’s leader Angela Merkel’s resistance to such a maneuver, arguing that it would just incite Russia and would need to wait. Germany, along with other European states, has many reasons to desire to go slow on Georgia and Ukraine’s membership as the country is strongly tied to Russia in energy and other business ventures central to its economy and national well-being. Trade between Russia and Germany increased by over 25% last year and Merkel probably fears further antagonizing Moscow into further destabilizing actions, as the joining of NATO by its former vassals Georgia and Ukraine would likely do.

Now the US’s Bush Administration wants to give no concessions to what it has described as a ‘newly aggressive’ Russia. By outwardly supporting the integration of Georgia and Ukraine into NATO it is sending a message to Moscow that the Alliance cannot be intimidated or have its decisions made from an outside power. Of course, the fact is that Russia is a great power that matters greatly to NATO, as the military alliance would not exist without it. Basically, Germany is advocating ‘guiding’ Russia and the US ‘containing’ it.

What happened at the NATO summit was a little bit of accommodation and containing regarding relations with Russia. Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer stated the Alliance would begin “a conditional and graduated reengagement” with Moscow, saying that “Russia is such an important factor in geopolitical terms, that there is no alternative for NATO than to engage Russia.”

In terms of the ascension of Georgia and Ukraine, the Alliance members reconfirmed that the two states would eventually become full-fledged members and that cooperative reform programs, like the NATO-Ukraine Commission and newly formed NATO-Georgia Commission, would be accelerated. This outcome has to please Germany and other members who desire a more moderate growth strategy, and I would think placate the US, as progress toward the two’s acceptance is at least involving other mechanisms besides the lengthy Membership Action Plan. Russian Ambassador to NATO Mr. Rogozin told his home audience back in Moscow that this signaled a break or a weakness in the Alliance: “there is an open split within NATO and it will widen if NATO tries to expand further. The schemes of those who adopted a frozen approach to Russia have been destroyed.” It should be noted that as members of NATO are having this debate, the people of Georgia are still dealing with a rather menacing Russian force on and in some places inside their newly reduced borders.

The US defense missile defense shield (MDS) was also a topic of debate during the summit and this brought unquestionable good news for the Bush Administration. In the final communique of the summit, all foreign ministers gave their unanimous support for the Czech and Poland based MDS, calling it a ‘substantial contribution’ to Western defenses. The communique also called for Moscow to embrace American proposals for greater cooperation regarding the system. In this debate, Moscow clearly suffered a setback, at least for the moment.

Lastly, Afghan troop levels were discussed in the light of the upcoming Obama administration arrival in January. Secretary General Scheffer stated in an interview; “It’s crystal clear that we need more forces in Afghanistan.” Scheffer also stated that he was sure that leaders’ phones would be ringing all around Europe soon after the inauguration, with Obama on the other line asking for troops and money. The consensus seems to be that these leaders may have a harder time saying ‘no’ to a newly elected Barack Obama then to a lame duck Bush, but I’ll believe this only when I see it. I’ll leave you with a call to action by Scheffer to all his members:

“The allies need to do better. I want to see the balance in this alliance. I don’t want to just see more American troops. It has to be a combination of a military and civilian surge, and what slightly concerns me is that allies on this side of the ocean will have difficulty in matching the extra effort a new U.S. administration might put into Afghanistan.”

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Mumbai’s Consequences

   Posted by: Pat    in Uncategorized   Print Print


Taj Hotel in Mumbai - Even birds hate terrorism
Taj Hotel in Mumbai – Even birds hate terrorism

With the assault on Mumbai finally at an end, we can start to look at some of its likely consequences. The attacks, allegedly perpetrated by an unknown radical group in the name of Allah, killed at least 195 people, including several Americans, and created unseen havoc in one of the world’s great economic capitals. Though the nation of India has seen its share of terrorist attacks, including an assault on its parliament and a tremendous train bombing, it appears that Mumbai attack of November 2008 may be lead to a sea change in the way the Indian populace looks at Islamic terrorism.

The Times of India immediately put out an editorial basically stating that the nation was at war: 

“The scale, intensity and level of orchestration of terror attacks in Mumbai put one thing beyond doubt: India is effectively at war and it has deadly enemies in its midst.” 

Many of the citizens of Mumbai and state government officials have also made comments that ‘this is enough’ and referenced the US War on Terror as a possible strategy to follow.  These coordinated and dramatic attacks were carried out in a way that resembled war, they even featured a beach landing assault, and the targets chosen, major centers of commerce and foreign travelers, also raised the assault’s international exposure.  One cannot pretend that only India was attacked, as Americans, Britons, and Jews were all targeted and Mumbai’s businesses touch nearly every part of the globe.

For Indian perspective, one issue to immediately look to is the failure of their intelligence network to sniff out any possibly leads to prevent this incident.  Considering the sophistication and breadth of this attack involving tens, maybe hundreds, of perpetrators, how could they so effectively hide this coming calamity? The Indian police and commando units fought valiantly, but why did they have to come all the way from New Delhi?  That’s like an attack occurs in NYC and the US government had to send in elite fighting forces all the way in DC.  

Mumbai’s place as the center of Indian commerce also plays an important part in the possible ramifications of this incident.  Economists and investors are already saying that this attack could cause the city from becoming a regional financial powerhouse that it so much desires for itself.  As I mentioned on the day of the attack, the continuing presence of terrorist attacks hurts India’s ability to project its power outward.  A nation with internal fissures that are still volatile will struggle in its attempts to spread its influence elsewhere.  Now I’m not saying India is an anarchial state by no means, but it is true that incidents like this, if seen to be unstoppable and consistent, will decay international views of the state, and this includes less foreign direct investment.    

The Mumbai Massacre also puts India’s geopolitical position concerning Pakistan in more muddled waters. India’s President Singh has already stated that he believes there were ‘foreign’ influences in this attack, aka Pakistan.  With the perpetrators origins still unknown, it is too early to say if the Pakistani state or ISI had any involvement, but years and years of distrust lead to suspicions that may be just as powerful as the truth.  Pakistan’s has already agreed to send their top ISI chief to India to help in the investigation and to try and show transparency and cooperation, and this is a very positive sign.  If the perpetrators were in fact homegrown radical Islamists or from Pakistan, but unconnected to the ISI, other problems of course arise, but at least this may not lead to a greater war.  

This massacre will likely have consequences over much of India’s future and it will be worth watching to see how the nation, both its citizenry and its government, react in the near and extended future.  Will India start to more aggressively hunt terrorists and terrorist networks, a la the US War on Terror?  Or will this incident just be seen in the prism of the ongoing Indian-Pakistani clash over Kashmir?  

I’ll end this post on a positive note by quoting none other than Dubya:

“The killers who struck this week are brutal and violent, but terror will not have the final word,” President Bush said. “People of India are resilient. People of India are strong. They have built a vibrant, multiethnic democracy that can withstand this trial. Their financial capital of Mumbai will continue to be the center of commerce and prosperity.”

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Bush’s NATO Gambit

   Posted by: Pat    in Russia   Print Print

In a surprise move for a president being called the lamest of lame ducks, the Bush administration is making a hard push to get both Ukraine and Georgia into NATO. The diplomatic push is not just advocating the acceleration of the MAP method, a slow process of aligning military and political structures between a state and NATO, but is in fact pursuing the outright immediate acceptance of each of these Russian neighbors.

This is a surprise move for several reasons. The US tried to go through the usual Membership Action Plan (MAP) process back in April during a NATO Summit in Bucharest, but Germany, France, Spain, Italy and several other members opposed even this, apparently fearing antagonizing Russia. For these NATO members, there was not many positives to come out of such a move. Does this current US move therefore mean that the Bush administration believes something has strategically or politically altered this position? Or is this just a last minute effort by the Bush administration to get these allies and Russian neighbors into the Western alliance?

This diplomatic move by the US comes just days and weeks after reports that the government of Georgia was guilty of an aggressive attack in South Ossetia that no doubt helped provoke a Russian counterattack and from bellicose statements by President Medvedev regarding the US missile shield in Poland and Czech. This seems indeed like a gambit by the Bush administration. While everyone has been talking about a return to an ‘old world order’ and a setback for US democratic and strategic gains, the Bush administration seems bent on showing the opposite. Most foreign policy scholars and pundits all asserted that the US overreached in its encroachment into Eastern Europe and that it would be forced to back down to Russia’s ‘sphere of influence’, but the near opposite seems to be occuring as the US has stood strong on the missile shield, given Georgia $1 billion dollars in aid, and now is asking its NATO partners for a Ukrainian and Georgian shotgun wedding.

Man oh man, what do you think France, Germany, and other NATO members who were against Georgia and Ukraine’s membership think about this new purposal?  Is there a chance they could change their mind?  What does the US have to gain by this move?  Is this just a hopeless last gasp by the Bush administration?  Does Bush fear that Obama may not pursue further NATO membership and therefore wants to get it done or at least started before he leaves office?  And most intriguing, what would Russia do if Ukraine and Georgia were all of sudden in NATO?

This is truly a gambit by Bush, one that may have some very important implications for NATO and European security :

“This is a real turnaround of the U.S. position,” said a senior NATO diplomat who requested anonymity because of the delicacy of the issue. “We reached a compromise in Bucharest after much haggling. Now, we are being asked to cancel it and effectively discard the MAP program. This is putting the unity and credibility of the alliance at stake.”

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Advice to the President-Elect

   Posted by: Pat    in Middle East, Russia   Print Print

To no one’s surprise, President-elect Obama has been riddled with foreign policy advice from a myriad of sources.  Russian President Dmitri Medvedev and the Taliban have each put forth threats and hopes for reconciliation with the newly elected US president, though the latter come with caveats that Obama change the country’s respective missile defense and military presence in Afghanistan policies.

In the academic world, the journal Foreign Affairs has been featuring advice for the to-be president for going on 2 years now, and finally has a name to put to its policy recommendations.  On the site, they currently feature an old essay by Dean Rusk, who would become JFK’s Secretary of State, describing what he sees as the President’s role in foreign policy.  Barack Obama himself put forth his own foreign policy beliefs and views in an earlier article for the magazine.  Lastly, Peter Beinart describes what he calls a ‘liberal foreign policy’ under Obama.

Foreign Policy Magazine also has some interesting articles advocating policy recs for the big O.  The most interesting pieces were ‘Five Physics Lessons for Obama‘, featuring the issues of nuclear terrorism, global warming and space, neo-con Richard Perle’s 7 recommendations, and another piece calling for Obama to ‘go for it‘ on many vital and challenging issues.  FP also asks several experts to pick their diplomatic Dream Team for the administration.

And who better, I know a lot of you would say ‘anybody!’, to give advice to the new administration than the current Secretary of State and former National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice.  Rice gives her thoughts and advice in a lengthy New York Times Magazine article.  It is fascinating to see just how different the challenges facing Obama’s administration are from the one’s President Bush’s faced on his inauguration day in 2001.  

In one bit of good news for world stability and for the current Bush and future Obama administration is the approved security pact between the US-Iraqi government, providing a legal standing to the presence of US troops in the country until 2011, when they will be nearly mandated to leave the country.  

Lastly, geez I can’t stop, here is a transcript from Obama’s 60 minute interview last night, though they only discuss foreign policy for a few moments.

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