Monday, October 15, 2007

Old Wine In New Wineskins? Foreign Policy Gurus Line up for '08

The American Conservative has a piece on the foreign policy advisors to the top tier of POTUS candidates in '08.

Unsurprisingly, almost all have served in previous administrations, ranging all the way back to Carter days when I worked a short stint with Tony Lake. I had two dinners with Richard Holbrooke back in the days of Richard Nixon, so some of these gentlemen are ageless. As one anonymous source puts it:
“My view is, if you want a shift in strategy, you aren’t going to get it from these people, who are just hungry for a job in the next administration,” observed one Beltway policy wonk. Any conceivable Democratic White House, he noted, would smell a lot like the status quo. Reappearing would be a phalanx of Clinton I protagonists with names like Albright, Holbrooke, Lake, and Berger, followed by a lesser-known generation of liberal interventionists like Peter Beinart, Lee Feinstein, Martin Indyk, and Anne-Marie Slaughter.

The fact that Sandy Berg[l]er is still in the mix reflects the truism that foreign policy wonks on both sides of the party fault-lines are unaccountable shameless hacks. As for Poppy Bush's legacy, his Scowcroft Boomers are McCainites and Giuliani has the most neo-cons:
While supporting the mission of global American hegemony, Martin Kramer makes it clear that not all nations, particularly Muslim ones, are destined for the “advance of human freedom” Bush described to a joint session of Congress in 2001. Admitting his ideas clash with the president’s, Kramer has publicly explained that undemocratic regimes that nevertheless ensure security, avert war, and combat terrorism should be left alone.

At an AEI-sponsored event in June, Kramer explained his brand of neorealism as an Arab-regime thing: “any attempt to promote democracy, far from making things better, might make [conditions] worse,” for broader U.S. and Israeli interests in the region.

Kramer did not name the regimes in question, but his new Giuliani colleague Berkowitz did in a column for the Israeli-based Ha’aretz newspaper in 2005, pointing to West-friendly Jordan, Kuwait, and Egypt. One might as well throw in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, which are now considered Petri dishes of Islamic revolution because of what Kramer appraisingly called “consensual authoritarianism.”

So Wilsonian idealism can only reach so far, and as long as the brutality remains at a low level, the US can keep the alliances firm. After a survey of all the graduates of the Jerry Bremer School of CPA hard-knocks still working for candidates, the best line comes from a libertarian:
“In Washington, nothing succeeds more than failure,” declares Ted Carpenter, defense policy expert for the CATO Institute. “How else do you explain it?”

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