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Foreign Policy: theologians versus psychiatrists
Posted by: Jon Henke on Monday, July 17, 2006

Howard Dean argues for a faith-based foreign policy...
“If you think what's going on in the Middle East today would be going on if the Democrats were in control, it wouldn't, because we would have worked day after day after day to make sure we didn't get where we are today. We would have had the moral authority that Bill Clinton had when he brought together the Northern Irish and the IRA, when he brought together the Israelis and the Palestinians.”
This is, of course, just politicking, and not a serious explanation of Democratic foreign policy. (and if it was, the counterfactuals would be problematic) While moral stature is important, I don't think anybody seriously believes events in the 90s were driven by "moral authority" instead of by the geopolitical realities and the strategic positions in which those force ratios placed the actors.

But the position — and the general Democratic foreign policy thrust — reminds me of Henry Kissinger's description of the competing political schools of foreign policy thought:
[I]n America, there has been a tendency to divide foreign policy into two schools of thought. One that identifies foreign policy as a subdivision of psychiatry and another that treats foreign policy as a subdivision of theology.

The psychiatrists think relations among nations are like relations among people and you bring peace through this strenuous exercise of good will. The theologians believe that all foreign policies are a struggle between good and evil and the thing to do is to destroy the wrongdoer once and for all, after which normalcy returns.
This is as succinct and accurate a description as I've seen of the competing Left/Right amateur foreign policy punditry. Gregory Djerejian is running into similarly shallow criticism here and here.
 
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Well then, according to Deans logic, Bill Clinton and the Democrats are culpable for the 2000 intifada.
 
Written By: Jimmy the Dhimmi
URL: http://moorejack.ytmnd.com/
Pity the "faith-based foreign policy" link appears to map to the psychiatrist foreign policy faction instead of the theologian one.
 
Written By: Mark A. Flacy
URL: http://
The psychiatrists think relations among nations are like relations among people and you bring peace through this strenuous exercise of good will. The theologians believe that all foreign policies are a struggle between good and evil and the thing to do is to destroy the wrongdoer once and for all, after which normalcy returns.
Even if you think international relations are the same as relations among individuals, that doesn’t prevent you from thinking that some are good and some are evil, and that the key is for the good to destroy the evil. In other words, the theological position could be contained within the psychological position without any contradiction.

In fact, theology tends to deal with good and evil among individuals.

The only point I see in the pshycological position is that it implies that you could model forign policy on a framework for dealing with individuals. That might be a valid 1st order approximation for such forign policy, and perhaps it is essentially the right answer. But it does not give us any understanding of the very different forign policy positions we see across the right - left divide.
 
Written By: Don
URL: http://
The reason there is no democratic forign policy is that both democratic and republican administrations largely followed the recommendations of the Council on Foreign Relations. From the 60’s on, there was really no difference between republican and democratic forign policies. The goal of this nefarious organization was to keep the peace so that the US could push it free trade agenda and everybody could make some money. Those greedy and imoral people thought that Peace and prosperity were in Americas best interest.

The Bush administration replaced tahe CFR appointees with Neo-Cons. They want to do whats right. They want to end the middle east strife right now. They want democracy in the middle east (as long as Hamas doesn’t win the election). They expected American troops to be greeted as liberators. Instead we have seen nothing but war, bluster and a crashing dollar ever since. Anyone note that the markets are still down from their 2000 levels? Since when does a recovery not bring the market over its previous high?

Bushes forign policy of "lets bring democracy to the middle east policy" is reminicient of Woody Wilsons moral war to end all wars. It took the better part of a century to make up for Wilsons idealism. With any luck it will only take half that to make up for Mr. Bush’s.
 
Written By: cindyb
URL: http://
CindyB to recap:
CFR evil, status quo and peace bad
Dubya evil because he seeks to change the status quo...
And stocls down from their over-inflated 2000 levels...oh well, any way I thought money grubbing was EVILLLLLL, Cindy?
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
I agree with Don— I’ve always thought of relations between countries as being analogous to relations between individuals, yet I do not believe that all foreign policy problems can be solved by negotiations. Understanding a person’s psychology doesn’t justify their actions or imply that their behavior is "fixable" by any of our efforts, and likewise understanding the "root causes" of a country’s bellicose behavior doesn’t change what you’re going to have to do about it.
 
Written By: Wacky Hermit
URL: http://organicbabyfarm.blogspot.com
"Those greedy and imoral people thought that Peace and prosperity were in Americas best interest."
Well when "peace and prosperity" lets AlQaeda figure out how to make 1% of our GNP into a smoking hole in the ground, then maybe it’s time to change the strategy to one the CFR doesn’t like so much.

Not that they really have jack to do with it.

What’s your tinfoil budgeted at, really?

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
Cindyb,
Anyone note that the markets are still down from their 2000 levels? Since when does a recovery not bring the market over its previous high?
A very interesting question and one I have been doing a lot of thinking about. Not why they haven’t recovered completely, that was completely understandable, and unfortunately we have probably seen the highs for quite some time. The S&P500 has underperformed cash since 1998 and my guess by the year 2013 the stretch of returns below cash will still be going on. The Nasdaq will be lucky to cross 5000 again before 2035.

Of course none of that has to do with Bush. These are long term secular trends caused by the greatest over-valuation in US stock market history. By the way Cindy, recoveries often don’t lead to new highs. The S&P500 didn’t permanently exceed its high of 1966 until 1982. To quote Warren Buffett when he once remarked on this(I may have the quote wrong, but not by much) "ladies and gentlemen, that is not what I call a big move." The S&P500 was vastly more expensive relative to the underlying companies in 2000 than 1966 and the NASDAQ was in the rarefied air of the tulip mania, so your question is really silly, but I will defend you. Almost everybody believes as you do, including most professionals, so you are in good company.

No, what makes it interesting to me is the rather mindless cheerleading for stock markets on the part of believers in markets. It seems profoundly unwise to hitch arguments or justification for policies based on the performance of stock markets. They are capital allocating processes, not automatic wealth producers or accurate barometers of economic wisdom on the part of our government. It seems unwise to claim that our stock portfolio’s are proof our policy recommendations are wise. When the market doesn’t perform the way we would like we are open to comments such as Cindy’s. High market levels are not even necessarily desirable, they only reduce future returns, leading to exactly the complaint Cindy levels.

This is off topic, but as the secular bear market we have been in (meaning flat to down returns over a period of years) extend itself into another decade the habit of confusing stock market returns with other policies will hurt more and more.
 
Written By: Lance
URL: http://
Cindyb forgets the Reagan administration, which took on the USSR, and she also forgets that during the Cold War, nuclear weapons limited the value to conventional warfare. Furthermore, she doesn’t grasp that on 9/11, Islamic terrorism forced us to confront it (it tried to force the issue many times before, but never fully got our attention until 9/11).

The Bush administrations efforts in the Middle East may fail, but it isn’t an effort rooted in idealism as much as in hope: we might root out Islamic terror with democracy, then again we may just have to do it the hard(er) way. Either way, the Democrats have no viable plan.
 
Written By: Don
URL: http://
I think a lot of the Dems, and people like Djeririan need to read Ace of Spades post:

http://ace.mu.nu/archives/186405.php

Yes, you can use diplomacy but it has a lot of limits.
 
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
Cindy, Stock markets are not necessarily representative of the economy in general. Markets can be flat during periods of economic growth because not everyone works for a listed company and stock prices might not like a period of growth that results in high wages rather than higher profits.
 
Written By: Harun
URL: http://

 
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