Monday, October 25, 2004

Articles like this one by one of my fellow Yalies just tick me off. The allegation that Mr. Koffler makes is based around the idea that Mr. Kerry would bring a more "adult" form of diplomacy to the White House, which would be more effective in our international pursuits.

This entire idea is laughable to me. Think back to your childhood. Remember the pecking order? (This may be more applicable to my male readers, as I know nothing of female adolescent hierarchy, aside from what I saw in the movie Mean Girls). Remember how there were guys on the totem pole that ranked above you, and to go against their wishes meant a beating, or stolen lunch money, or, worst of all, endless ridicule as you sank to the absolute bottom of the social ranking? Keep this in mind as we review Koffler's column.

The column starts with the not-so-new revelation that "Recently the Financial Times broke the story that Germany might join the reconstruction effort in Iraq if John Kerry wins the presidential election." And goes on to assert that: "very country that opposed the war had its own reason for doing so -- in Germany's case, a kind of default pacifism. The fact of the matter is that if France were the only country to have opposed the Iraq war, its opposition would have been irrelevant; the international community could certainly have overruled France's moral veto (if not its UN veto) and conferred legitimacy upon the effort toward democratic transformation in Iraq."

The problem here is, Mr. Koffler assumes that France's objection was morally based, as were those of Russia and China. Germany--it's true--has not joined an aggressive war since WWII, and that is a major part of their foreign policy. As I said to many peers at the outset of the Iraqi war, I was entirely OK with that objection. As we all know, their last two aggressive endeavors did not work out so well for the rest of the world.

But, as we're now learning, France, China, and Russia all had strong interests in maintaining Iraq's status quo. They had vested interests in the Oil-for-Food program, and in Saddam's continued manipulation of that for his own gain, so that they might continue to benefit from the kick-backs.

Oh, and if you disagree with this assessment of the situation, read Mr. Koffler's next paragraph:
"Here's how you know that the Bush administration was never serious about a genuine diplomatic campaign before the invasion of Iraq: An honest and competent pre-war diplomacy would have circumvented France entirely and appealed directly to Germany and other nations (but especially Germany) to support the war at least financially and politically if not militarily. Instead, the administration essentially ceded to France the role of spokesman for the bulk of the United Nations, knowing full well that the French had been bought off by the Baathists and were going to do everything in their power to block any effort at regime change."

But... but... but... I thought it was a moral objection! (Oh, and, if you remember, we did appeal to the entire Security Council, and each of these individual nations separately, not dealing simply with France). He then takes a slight tangent and rants about France's unworthiness to be considered an ally, using this to justify the following theory: "So the goal of any sensible American foreign policy vis-a-vis Europe would be to engender a split between France and Germany and pull the Germans into a tripartite alliance along with Britain, and in so doing attain some leverage over the consolidation of the European Union."

Um. Does anyone else remember Gerhard Schroeder's run for reelection? It seems to me that it was based entirely on an anti-American policy. Are we just supposed to forget that and assume it was all pandering to his people? Personally, that campaign makes it hard for me to believe that Schroeder would have done anything to help our efforts. His next point? "The alternative -- the Bush doctrine, if you will -- is to thumb our noses to all of Europe and pretend that hegemonic power can withstand near-total diplomatic isolation, until reality intervenes and at last proves otherwise." Well, that's not the Bush Doctrine, so I won't. Beyond that, this was not even the Bush diplomatic policy, but rather all we were left with. I'll address this more directly in a moment.

"What would it have taken to bring Germany into the pre-war coalition?"
Before I give you his conclusion, let me just say that if it is anything more than a recognition of the threat to the world and his own people posed by Saddam Hussein, based on the premise that he had, and was attempting to acquire further, WMD, then it's something I'm not willing to concede. So, his conclusions: "The same thing that it will take to bring Germany into the post-war coalition: some combination of recognition of the International Criminal Court, willingness to negotiate over Kyoto, easing of trade restrictions with the European Union, a return to the framework of the Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty, ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, international leadership on nuclear proliferation (which, pace Mr. Bush, is a lot more complicated than preventing terrorists from getting WMDs), etc."

Let's take these in order. skipping the ICC because it is mentioned later as well.
Kyoto: I refer you to my earlier post, which quotes the Senate Resolution, approved 95-0 by the Senate, which "Declares that the United States should not be a signatory to any protocol to, or other agreement regarding, the [Kyoto Conference] in December 1997 or thereafter which would: (1)mandate new commitments to limit or reduce greenhouse gas emissions for the Annex 1 Parties, unless [it] also mandates [...] commitments to limit or reduce greenhouse gas emissions for Developing Country Parties[...]" Sorry, folks, but the UN community isn't up for any such agreement, and the Senate will never ratify any alternative.
Easing of trade restrictions with the EU: 'Uh, hello folks, I'm John Kerry. I've got the support of trade unions precisely because I'm in the Party that supports restrictive tariffs, and, as a general policy, President Bush supports free trade.' Yeah, I'll leave it at that. You think the Dems are more likely to make trade concessions? Nice try.
Return to ABM treaties: Did you notice that once we officially and finally withdrew from the ABM treaty, the European governments all wanted to get on board? That's because it's a good idea to be able to protect ourselves from belligerent nations with ICBM capability (like, oh, say, North Korea?). Oh, and this is another couched example of Kerry's belief in the "global test" policy. The ABM treaty was written as an agreement between the US and Russia, and is against our national self-interest. Why should we give such sovereignty to frightened European governments?
Ratification of CTBT: Ditto on above, sort of. This is against our national interest, and we should not be willing to cede that choice to the EU.

"In other words, there are things that the Germans want from us, and things we want from them. Furthermore, I could make the case -- though it would take another column to do so -- that what we want from the Germans is good for Germany, and what they want from us is good for the United States. So both countries have a compelling interest in bringing Germany into the fold on Iraqi reconstruction, and diplomatic grown-ups should be able to reach some mutually acceptable settlement."
The problem remains that Germany's desires are not in our best interest, and they do not consider ours to be in theirs. In such circumstances, a consensus cannot be reached, and should absolutely not be pursued for the sake of diplomacy.

Koffler's closing: "Is it any wonder, now, why the president has taken so adamant a stand against joining the ICC in the presidential debates? American entry into the court might very well be the carrot that can enable us to internationalize the reconstruction and mend the diplomatic wounds of the past year. The unspoken message in Bush's non-sequiturs on the ICC was that the price of international cooperation in Iraq is too high to pay. If you, dear reader, think that's true, then perhaps you should vote for Bush. But if you know that it's plainly false, xenophobic and contrary to the national interest, then say whatever you please about John Kerry's equivocations: He's an adult on foreign policy and something significant is at stake in his election."

Ah, the ICC. If you'd like a copy of the West Wing episode that deals with this, I'd be happy to send it to you. Under no circumstances should we subject American soldiers to arrest by foreign nations. It is a clear invasion of our sovereignty, and puts our ability to make war effectively at serious risk. If your primary concern is preventing war crimes, and not simply placing checks on American power (the truth of the issue), then you should support the removal of Saddam Hussein without demanding concessions.

And, on to the "Kerry is an adult" comment. Remember that image I asked you to call up at the beginning of this post (long, long ago)? Do you also remember that, to avoid social ridicule, you behaved, dressed, and spoke the way the popular community did? The way they expected you to? And how the some people didn't, and were outcast for that fact? Or, maybe you were among the rebellious few. Where are those people now? Well, I'll tell you, the people that were smart enough to reject the expectation are succeeding at life, while the "popular" bunch is still manipulating others, and the followers are still following.

Do we want to be a nation of followers, leaders, or successful outsiders? Ideally, of course, we'd be the leaders, with other nations recognizing our points of view and falling into line. Failing that, should we make concessions to their ways of life? No. We should be content with being outcast, content with living on our own. We are prosperous, and will continue to be so. And eventually, the other nations will come around to see that we're worth dealing with. In the meantime, concessions are the childish way of life, not the actions of a mature, reasoning adult.

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