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repairing bridges? « Previous | |Next »
September 8, 2003

An article in The Australian Financial Review by Madeline Albright entitled 9/11:Two Years On is of interest over and above the defence of the Clinton administration's foreign policy to counter the Republican disdain for all things Clintonian. (If the AFR links go, then the article can be found here at Foreign Policy.)

A key point in this text is the way the view of the world structures choices in national security policy. The Bush administration has a simple view: it is America versus the international terrorists. In this view other nation-states are either with America or with the terrorists; America can go it alone in the fight against terrorism; the axis of evil has to be confronted; anticipatory self-defence is the cornerstone of national security policy; America would act against threats regardless of international law, the doubts of allies and world opinion. The pre-emptive strike doctrine was a replacement for international law.

This 'Bring them On' view of the world that is highly divisive. Australia may concur, but many nation states, especially those in Europe, do not see international relations the way Washington currently does.

Albright is critical of the French view that that the power of the US endangers the interests of European democracies, and hence there is a need for Europe to counter balance the hegemonic power of the US.

Albright's concern is with the shift by the Bush Administration from fighting al Qaeda in Afghanistan to invading Iraq. She says:

"The problem is that Bush has reframed his initial question. Instead of simply asking others to oppose al-Qaeda, he now asks them to oppose al-Qaeda, support the invasion of an Arab country and endorse the doctrine of pre-emption - all as part of a single package. Faced with this choice, many who staunchly oppose al-Qaeda have nevertheless decided that they do not want to be "with" the US, just as some Iraqis are now making clear their opposition both to Saddam and to those who freed them from him."

Iraq was a war of choice not necessity for the US. There was little to be gained by creating the impression that the US did not care what others think. Albright's concern is to narrow the divisions between the US and Europe.

How so? Albright says drop the demand that others follow where the US leads; focus more on al Qaeda; allow the doctrine of pre-emption to disappear quietly; separate out the problem of al Qaeda from halting the proliferation of WMD; become more serious about nation-building in Afghanistan; work with allies not against them.

Somehow I do not think that Bush will heed this advice judging by what I've heard Condaleeza Rice saying on Radio National this morning. Pacific Views says the speech is all about making sacrifices for freedom, defeating the enemies of freedom making their big stand in Iraq and doing whatever is necessary to achieve victory in the war on terrorism.

Iraq is the new frontier in the Hollywood view of things that is being articulated by President Bush.

A transcript of the Bush speech can be found here. It's about America fighting to defend the freedom of the civilized world with courage and confidence. America accepts the duties of to defend the civilized world. Opposing the terrorists must be the cause of the civilized world. So members of the United Nations have an opportunity and the responsibility to assume a broader role in assuring that Iraq becomes a free and democratic nation.

That is a bit of turn around. Is it genuinely repairing bridges?

Comments on the Bush speech can be at Road to Surfdom.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 12:31 PM | | Comments (0)