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Progressive Realism
Posted by: Jon Henke on Friday, July 21, 2006

Bumped up


Thomas Sowell urges realism from the anti-war crowd...

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Yeah, well — and this seems particularly relevant at the moment — an inability to differentiate between rhetoric and reality doesn't appear to be limited to the "peace" movement.

In recent weeks, there's been talk of US initiation of, or support for, military action against North Korea, Iran and Syria. There's a great deal of enthusiasm in the punditocracy for shows of strength, but not very much consideration for what was once termed a "structure of peace" — a careful balance of diplomacy, carrots, sticks and competing interests which produce stable, peaceful progress. There is, at least in public discourse, too much insistence upon direct ideological confrontation, not enough on relating our resources to our strategies — on recognizing limitations and alternatives. Richard Nixon addressed this very problem...
Before, we often acted as if our role was primarily one of drawing up and selling American blueprints. Now, we must evoke the ideas of others and together consider programs that meet common needs. We will concentrate more on getting other countries engaged with us in the formulation of policies; they will be less involved in trying to influence American decisions and more involved in devising their own approaches.
It's important to accept that, no matter how much we might like to see them gone, we're not going to simply topple the Iranian, North Korean and Syrian regimes. A more potentially productive course would be to accept that those regimes have legitimate, motivating national interests, and while we cannot hope to remove the regimes or negotiate away their primary interests, we can gradually reduce their options, break up their alliances and tie their hands. (Matt McIntosh has previously suggested economic interconnectivity with Iran)

This, essentially was the Nixon Doctrine, and it was crafted to cope with a situation very similar to our own...

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Much like the then-emerging polycentrism of the Communist world, our current challenge is far from unitary; not only is the challenge spread across multiple States, there are non-State actors operating within States, both enemies and allies.

With that in mind, consider this recent Robert Wright New York Times article on a foreign policy that could combine the best elements of both the Left and Right approaches: Progressive Realism...
Progressive realism begins with a cardinal doctrine of traditional realism: the purpose of American foreign policy is to serve American interests.

But these days serving American interests means abandoning another traditional belief of realists — that so long as foreign governments don’t endanger American interests on the geopolitical chess board, their domestic affairs don’t concern us. [...] In that sense progressive realists look a lot like neoconservatives and traditional liberals: concerned about the well-being of foreigners, albeit out of strict national interest.
The two "core themes" of Progressive Realism are:
  1. "a belief in, well, progress. Free markets are spreading across the world on the strength of their productivity, and economic liberty tends to foster political liberty. ... After all, if you believe that history is on the side of political freedom — and that this technological era is giving freedom an especially strong push — your approach to fostering democracy isn’t to invade countries and impose it."


  2. "problems that today accompany globalization call for institutionalized international responses. ... There is a principle here that goes beyond arms control: the national interest can be served by constraints on America’s behavior when they constrain other nations as well. This logic covers the spectrum of international governance, from global warming (we’ll cut carbon dioxide emissions if you will) to war (we’ll refrain from it if you will)."

The first theme will give the Left heartburn the second, the Right. Neither should, though. In both cases, the key is moderation. Democratization should not be the sole driving force of US foreign policy, nor should international institutions be the sole source of authority. But both, in moderation, make positive contributions.

The "Progressive" part of the phrase "Progressive Realism" may worry the Right, but if you look past the name, you'll find that Progressive Realism resembles nothing so much as the ultimately very effective Nixon Doctrine. Robert Wright even uses similar language — cost-sharing/free riders, reciprocal concessions, economic interconnectivity as a tool of progress, and a closer alignment of our interests with our ideals.

This strikes me as a worthy foreign policy proposal, and not entirely dissimilar to the foreign policy reorientation of concentric circles of engagement based on the relation of resources and objectives that I've suggested in the past. Your thoughts are solicited.
 
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"It’s important to accept that, no matter how much we might like to see them gone, we’re not going to simply topple the Iranian, North Korean and Syrian regimes."

A key flaw here is your addition of "simply" - which you then use to imply that the these regimes can’t be overturned. The same was said about Iraq, and yet the Baathists were overthrown in a matter of weeks.

Personally I am sad that so many so-called libertarians have gone from "sic semper tyrannis" to "let’s give tyrants legitimacy...totalitarian states are people too!"

Is this an artifact from the "hippie days of yore", i.e. the vile 1960s-1970s? If so, I am patiently awaiting for your kind to go senile.
 
Written By: Logic Police
URL: http://www.google.com
It’s not the toppling that is hard, it’s the care and feeding of the country after. We are unmatched in our destructive capability. We can barely keep a country in turmoil together, let along rebuild it. Three or four such efforts at the same time, would be politically unsustainable.

I’m pretty sure that’s what Jon is aluding to in that we can’t just "simply topple the Iranian, North Korean and Syrian regimes." Yeah, we can get rid of the regimes, but then what.

****

I think, what has been said in the National Security Strategy comes close with what you’re saying. A step further is saying that we need to match our resources to our plans, and our plans to our resources.

But, that takes time, money, concensus and political will. The "global war on terror" is a multi-decade project. Changing our institutions has taken longer then that at times. So, it’s a race to transform our military, and other institutions to deal with this threat (and other emerging threats) quickly enough to stay ahead of the game.

link

"Our Nation’s cause has always been larger than our Nation’s defense. We fight, as we always fight, for a just peace—a peace that favors liberty. We will defend the peace against the threats from terrorists and tyrants. We will preserve the peace by building good relations among the great powers. And we will extend the peace by encouraging free and open societies on every continent."


* champion aspirations for human dignity;
* strengthen alliances to defeat global terrorism and work to prevent attacks against us and our friends;
* work with others to defuse regional conflicts;
* prevent our enemies from threatening us, our allies, and our friends, with weapons of mass destruction;
* ignite a new era of global economic growth through free markets and free trade;
* expand the circle of development by opening societies and building the infrastructure of democracy;
* develop agendas for cooperative action with other main centers of global power; and
* transform America’s national security institutions to meet the challenges and opportunities of the twenty-first century.
 
Written By: Keith, Indy
URL: http://
Hadn’t kept up with Barnett lately. And interesting theory on the strategy involved. One hopes that there is this much thought behind what is actually going on with our efforts.

http://www.thomaspmbarnett.com/weblog/archives2/003483.html
So Tel Aviv administers the chemotherapy to Lebanon, hoping to kill the rogue cells while not harming the post-Cedar Revolution body that has successfully expelled the invasive presence of foreign matter (Syrian army).

Bush and Co. have long referred to Hezbollah as "A team" players in international terrorism, and with good reason, so Israel does us that favor (although one wonders how this blood-letting will let what is good in Lebanon survive this onslaught).

Short term, the target in question here is Assad. Israel puts enough pain on Lebanon and Syria suffers the cut of its economic lifeline to the world. Add in the refugees fleeing (reports of near 100k so far), and you stress Syria even more. Ultimately, one supposes, you hope to flush a lot of fighters outta Lebanon and into Syria, deradicalizing the former and radicalizing the latter (or just making the subsequent direct targeting of Syria as state sponsor of terrorism all the easier).

In effect, Bush lets Israel take up the challenge of Iran’s asymmetrical war against America and our strategy of Big Bang I. We’re fighting proxy to proxy now, making clear, Bush hopes, to Tehran that this route of diversion or diversification will fail.
 
Written By: Keith, Indy
URL: http://
"problems that today accompany globalization call for institutionalized international responses. ... There is a principle here that goes beyond arms control: the national interest can be served by constraints on America’s behavior when they constrain other nations as well. This logic covers the spectrum of international governance, from global warming (we’ll cut carbon dioxide emissions if you will) to war (we’ll refrain from it if you will)."
I’m on the "right" and this doesn’t give me heartburn per se. But it’s all in how you go about it. Using the "UN model" has proven to be an absolute disaster. The Kyoto model has also been a disaster, mostly because it was a very flawed document. Also, such institutions must not become some sort of global law that superceedes our own laws. That’s what the UN fetishists are trying to do.

Can you suggest a model that would actually work (or cite an existing model that may fit)
 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
Using the G8 (or an expanded version, say the G20) to back our military might with the economic resources to rebuild...

Using Barnetts A-to-Z model of development in a box... (paraphrased)
The UN says what is wrong... They’re actually decent at identifying the problems, just not in fixing to many of them.

The G20 says when we should all act in our common interest.

A coallition of the willing does the heavy lifting of regime change, goal is the quick kill and overwhelming force.

And a combination of the G20, other nations, NGOs, and the private sector helps clean up, build up and take care of the aftermath. The goal is to rebuild the institutions that make a nation and economy grow.
None of this precludes acting in self-defense, or going it alone. It just makes the recognition that going it alone isn’t optimal, nor efficient in our globaly connected world.
 
Written By: Keith, Indy
URL: http://
More along the same lines...

http://www.spectator.org/dsp_article.asp?art_id=10119
Having dumped a regime (thoroughly), we can still help create the institutions of popular sovereignty when that is the right thing to do, as in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Indeed, it would be irresponsible not to. The only existing models for Middle East governments are corrupt monarchies and former Soviet client dictatorships. We cannot in good conscience defeat a terror-sponsoring state (say) and leave it with a leadership vacuum. Iran, for one, would not hesitate to step in to fill such a vacuum, whether directly or through its terrorist proxies.

It’s worthwhile here to remember that, while Iran is the worst of the terror sponsors, to some extent they all do it. They all do it — that is, Middle Eastern states all exercise power through cat’s-paw terrorist surrogates of one kind or another. Sometimes they share such groups, one with another. But they all do it. That relationship goes back to the 1960s, when Egypt created the PLO. And we can’t let that continue.

As for "democracy," of course it is not a weapon, and perhaps that’s the wrong word to use, just as "terror" is the wrong word to use to describe our enemies. "Self-determination" will do. Some acknowledgement of the norms of modern Western commerce. An orientation toward peace, rather than toward self-serving military buildups.
 
Written By: Keith, Indy
URL: http://
The UN sponsored IPCC has recently been shown to use political influence to influence and skew scientific research reporting. You can’t trust the UN because it is the most corrupt institution in the world.
 
Written By: Bluebell
URL: http://
The basic problem with respect to the Nixon approach in our current circumstances is that we really have no ability to trust that the other side will play by the rules...and we have no viable way to make sure that the other side is held accountable. Nixon’s strategy is wise and workable only where there is some measure of confidence that, when a compromise is reached, both side will (more or less) honor it as having settled the matter. That has not been the case with respect to our dealings with terrorist entities (and Islamofascists in particular) who will take any compromise offered, see it (and portray it to their supporters) as weakness on our part, and then waste no time seeking a further compromise using the advantage obtained in our last compromise as the departure point for new concessions. Under such circumstances, the only merit that the Nixon approach has is that it delays our demise until all room for compromise has been lost....but that is sure enough not a result that I could support. Better to confront now and accept whatever resolution Fate has in store than be slowly "water-tortured" to death!
 
Written By: RAZ
URL: http://
What we need is a new Congress of Vienna. The great powers of the world divide it up into spheres of influence then support each other as they repress any sort of terrorism or adventurism in their region.

That means letting China squash human rights in Tibet, but sitting on N.Korea.
Its real politic but remember, the Congress of Vienna allowed peace in Europe for nearly half a century.

 
Written By: kyle N
URL: http://impudent.blognation.us/blog
RAZ, I was going to say something quite similar to your comments. What countries in the world today could we really depend on to honor an agreement in which we made significant compromises? Australia, Israel, Poland, Japan, Taiwan, probably Great Britain and Canada... and then the pickings get very slim.

Oh, some would probably be OK (folks like, say, Norway or South Korea). For many others (e.g. France or China) I would not trust an iota of our security or well-being to their good faith. And one of the main problems in dealing with Muslims is that their religion, as interpreted by the fanatics at least, gives them carte blanche to commit perfidy against non-Muslims.

I’m fine with making compromises to achieve results. But any "compromises" we make in the current atmosphere would probably be more like the old Soviet model. Their definition of compromise was giving them almost all of what they wanted, and then they would feel free to cheat to get the rest of what they wanted. Ronald Reagan called them on that, and the results were pretty good.
 
Written By: Billy Hollis
URL: http://
Personally I am sad that so many so-called libertarians have gone from "sic semper tyrannis" to "let’s give tyrants legitimacy...totalitarian states are people too!"
If you come across one of those, you should tell him that. Nothing I said supported "legitimacy" for tyrants. I merely suggest we choose are strategies wisely.
such institutions must not become some sort of global law that superceedes our own laws.
That’s true. I think the UN is best understood as an incredibly expensive place to conduct diplomacy. It should not be an end in itself, but a place for seeking ends. As for models, I think the important thing is not so much the nature of the UN as our diplomatic strategy within it.
Having dumped a regime (thoroughly), we can still help create the institutions of popular sovereignty when that is the right thing to do, as in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Can we create this institutions? I’m not sure that’s always possible; it may be that the institutions follow from the nature of the society in which they exist, rather than the other way around. It’s important to remember our limitations.
The basic problem with respect to the Nixon approach in our current circumstances is that we really have no ability to trust that the other side will play by the rules...and we have no viable way to make sure that the other side is held accountable.
That’s incorrect and a misunderstanding of the Nixonian approach. We don’t have to "trust" the other side. We make concessions dependent upon concessions, detente dependent upon moderation, rapprochement dependent upon cooperation.

You don’t have any ability to ’trust’ that your employer will give you your paycheck twice a month, either. But you have avenues of recourse if they do not, and your employer doesn’t want the negative consequences of not fulfilling their end of the bargain...so your employer pays you. Without you having to hold a gun to their head.
That has not been the case with respect to our dealings with terrorist entities (and Islamofascists in particular) who will take any compromise offered, see it (and portray it to their supporters) as weakness on our part, and then waste no time seeking a further compromise using the advantage obtained in our last compromise as the departure point for new concessions.
And yet, that’s not what happened under Nixon.
What countries in the world today could we really depend on to honor an agreement in which we made significant compromises? [...] But any "compromises" we make in the current atmosphere would probably be more like the old Soviet model.
But that’s not what happened. Nixon effectively replaced the Soviet Union as the dominant diplomatic power in the Middle East, he achieved a major relaxation of tensions with the Soviet Union, and even made serious progress on the human rights front. All because we could effectively use the carrot and stick.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://QandO.net
I don’t know why you think folks on the left would be opposed to #1. There’s no problem with a free market. As long as its policed. The invisible hand can only do so much.
 
Written By: Oliver Willis
URL: http://www.oliverwillis.com
That’s incorrect and a misunderstanding of the Nixonian approach. We don’t have to "trust" the other side. We make concessions dependent upon concessions, detente dependent upon moderation, rapprochement dependent upon cooperation.

You don’t have any ability to ’trust’ that your employer will give you your paycheck twice a month, either. But you have avenues of recourse if they do not, and your employer doesn’t want the negative consequences of not fulfilling their end of the bargain...so your employer pays you. Without you having to hold a gun to their head.
But many of the concessions we’d wish to negotiate, namely the cessation of support for terrorist non-state actors, seem not to admit to verification. And the problem with your "employer" analogy is that there exists an entity which will actually compel him to honor his agreement. What evidence or reasoning do you have to show that the UN has been, is, or could be a vehicle for real enforcement? And if not the UN, who?
But that’s not what happened. Nixon effectively replaced the Soviet Union as the dominant diplomatic power in the Middle East, he achieved a major relaxation of tensions with the Soviet Union, and even made serious progress on the human rights front. All because we could effectively use the carrot and stick.
What carrot can be offered a group whose ultimate goal, literally, is worldwide domination? Will Islamists ever of their own accord give up the pursuit of a global caliphate? The Soviet Union was a nation-state with hard targets, and based upon ideology which was relatively a newborn. Islamofascism knows no boundaries, and subscribes to a centuries old faith which differs from the "faith" of the Soviets in one key area: Islam has an afterlife. The USSR could be deterred by the threat of mutually assured destruction. The islamist believes on faith that no matter how much evidence to the contrary, Allah will give them the victory in the end. If he as one soldier in the battle against the infidels dies, it’s not his end, but the beginning of his reward.

How do international institutions deal with this scenario?
 
Written By: CNH
URL: http://
Sorry, but I have a problem with claims of ’realism’ coming from a guy who says things like:
The default neoconservative approach to weapons of mass destruction seems to be that when you suspect a nation has them, you invade it.
We know France has WMD. Ditto (just off the top of my head) Russia, China, India, and Pakistan. And we’re pretty darn sure Israel does. And yet there’s effectively zilch neocon interest in invading any of those countries. Clearly, mere possession of WMD isn’t the criteria for invasion, so either Wright is dangerously naive or being deliberately disingenuous, neither of which inspires trust in his pontifications on ’realism.’
But it does mean that, in the case of Iraq, ignoring the Security Council and international opinion had excessive costs: (1) eroding the norm against invasions not justified by self-defense or imminent threat; (2) throwing away a golden post-9/11 opportunity to strengthen the United Nations’ power as a weapons inspector.
Bwah? We’ve now gone beyond childlike innocence or cynical deception and right into serious drugs.
The last message we needed to send is the one President Bush sent: countries that succumb to pressure to admit weapons inspectors will be invaded anyway.
Even the UN, resolute only in its unmitigated fecklessness, admitted that Saddam was not complying fully with the weapon inspectors.

Wright can slap whatever pretty labels on his scheme that he wants, it’s just lipstick on the same old pig.
 
Written By: Achillea
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Written By: haiyanggu
URL: http://
There’s no problem with a free market. As long as its policed.

You mean, There’s no problem with a free market, except that it’s a free market. Which is exactly why I think folks on the left would be opposed to #1. You tell us flat-out that you are.
 
Written By: Wulf
URL: http://www.atlasblogged.com
Ah, maybe that’s not fair to you, Oliver. Based on what I have seen of your writing and beliefs, I assume that you mean that a lot of regulations should be imposed on those "free" markets. I certainly expect that most on the left would feel that way - that’s what distinguishes the left from the right.

But perhaps I have misunderstood you, and by "policed" you meant that people need governmental recourse for violations of contract - in other words, Capitalism without the "anarcho" prefix. If that is the case, then I apologize.
 
Written By: Wulf
URL: http://www.atlasblogged.com
I am leery of any foreign policy that is dictated by a "doctrine" that comes with a designer label.

In the end, all foreign policy should be ad hoc, based on the unique facts and history of that situation. Yes, that means "reinventing the wheel" for each case, but we have whole bureaucracies of people who are paid to do just that. It is always a good thing to be constantly re-thinking assumptions and looking for new angles.

What answers would "Progressive Realism" deliver about the current situation in Lebanon?

Lebanon is almost a failed state at this point. Hezbollah’s situation within Lebanon is almost analogous to the position of al Qaeda in Afghanistan before the recent war. The difference is that, in Afghanistan, al Qaeda was supported and protected by the Taliban, who were propped up by Pakistan’s ISI. Once we got to Pakistan we cut off the head of the snake. In Lebanon, Iran is the head of the snake.
 
Written By: Aldo
URL: http://
Jon, this is generally along the lines I think of in my own approach to U.S. foreign policy. I’d even flesh it a little further out, so you can see how it differs from Clinton-era benign engagement, as follows:

It differs from Clinton-era benign engagement because it demands steady the steady advacement of domestic political freedom even within allied countries. We’ve never been good at that, partly because we don’t care enough and partly because we don’t have enough leverage.

Both free-market economics and international institutions provide our leverage - incentives are created for nations both friendly and hostile to reform their domestic political institutions through access to the US market, and the markets of other domestically free nations. The other carrot is the promise of constraints on international behavior.

As for the cheating question, it’s a little obsessive and a little naive. Of course there will be cheating. Everyone cheats. The US breaks international agreements left, right, and center, often pretending that it’s just following an alternative interpretation, or making self-proclaimed exceptions, (the equivalent of signing statements), and so on, and so forth. But cheating on what, exactly? Progressive realism, as Jon puts it, isn’t about signing a treaty of friendship with Osama Bin Laden anymore than detente was about becoming friends with the Soviet Union. It’s about gradually creating boundaries to a conflict, such that the state actor (or non-state actors, as long as the organization controls territory and has a broad base of civilian support) no longer percieves it to be in their best interests to create the most aggressive of possible behaviors.

Jon, the first thing that needs to be done by a future president and foreign policy team that buys into this theory is to modify the WTO so that no state has permanent access, but literally has to buy access with the currency of gradual political liberalization. Free trade and the potential for economic growth is the prime carrot, and we’ve handed it over to autocracies right and left, on the naive hope that it would automatically liberalize their polities - and the result is China and Russia, to name two examples only.

 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
BTW, the above theory, both Jon’s and mine, as I understand it, do not apply to truly stateless international territorist groups, such as, for example, Al-Quieda. Conrolling no territory or population, a progressive realist is all for neutralizing and destroying these groups - because it is both feasible and ethically acceptable to do so.
 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
Aldo, you’ll have to remind me. When did we exactly cut off the head of that snake, again? I missed the CNN feed of GWB holding up Bin Laden’s head on a platter.

Hizballah and Al-Quieda are not analagous. Al-Quieda is an international terrorist network that controls no territory or population and fantasizes about dominating the Islamic crescent and imposing a totalitarian theocracy. Hizballah is the primary political and military representative of Shiite Muslims in Lebanon, all the way down to their seats in the Lebanese parliament. A better comparison is Hizballah and Hamas, or Hizballah and Al-Sadr.
 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
Glasnost,

I completely agree with you that Hezbollah and al Qaeda are not analogous as terrorist groups. Hezbollah is an example of what I think of as a "political" terrorist organization. The analogy would be to the Irish Republican Army. Al Qaeda is an example of what I think of as a "religious" terrorist cult. The analogy would be to the Aun Shinrikyo cult in Japan.

I was not comparing Hezbollah and al Qaeda ideologically. I was comparing them in terms of their relation to the state. Afghanistan and (Southern) Lebanon are both essentially failed states in which terrorist organizations have been allowed to take root and develop.

Similarly, you misunderstood my point about cutting off the head of the snake. It was my fault for writing metaphorically, rather than clearly explaining what I meant.

Al Qaeda and the Taliban had a symbiotic relationship in Afghanistan. There was no state support for al Qaeda directly, but the Taliban was an instrument of the Pakistani intelligence service (ISI), in much the same way that Hezbollah is an instrument of Syria and Iran.

Of course we have not captured Osama bin Laden, who is arguably the head of the al Qaeda snake (though I contend that the true head is Ayman al Zawahiri), but he is not the snakehead I was referring to in my previous comment.

When we went to war against al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan we were able to persuade Pakistan to abandon the Taliban, officially at least. Pakistan is the "head of the snake" that we cut off. My point was that it will not be so easy to cut Hezbollah off from its patron states.
 
Written By: Aldo
URL: http://
I don’t see how using cold war politics does anything but elevate our enemies to defacto world powers when they don’t deserve to be neither by might nor morality.

And we sucked at cold war politics. The only thing we were anygood at was using trade as a stick under Reagan and in the spirit of free markets we’ve signed that weapon away.

Not to mention that cold war politics would allow a country like Iran to grow technologically and eventually have a nuclear arsenal and ballistic missle system to rival the West. And lets see, the last cold war ended up costing us a lot of money and screwed over a lot of those inbetween buffer countries.

I’ll pass.
 
Written By: jpm100
URL: http://
1. Free markets are spreading across the world on the strength of their productivity, and economic liberty tends to foster political liberty. [...] The first theme will give the Left heartburn

Not at all.

Of course, there’s a huge difference between free markets and the capture by corporate or foreign interests currently encouraged under the rhetoric of "free markets". In light of that difference, try this or this.
 
Written By: Phoenician in a time of Romans
URL: http://
I don’t see how using cold war politics does anything but elevate our enemies to defacto world powers when they don’t deserve to be neither by might nor morality
Cold War politics have nothing to do with that. Our Supreme Court did that with their recent ruling.

 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
Dale! You ignora... oh nevermind...wrong thread.

My bad.

Interesting post. Im not brainy types like you guys seem to be but the way I look at the situation that we are in with Iran, Syria and NK its that we dont have time to do things diplomatically or economically.

Sure we might be able to just sit back and wait for NK to fall. Or they might try to prop up their economy by selling WMDs to other rogue states or terrorist groups. And even if they do collapse on their own someone will have to come in and pick up the pieces. Probably us. It usually is.

Iran will never be toppled any other way than through force. Ive been waiting on a "students revolution" for 20 years. It aint gonna happen. Their economy aint great but theyll have enough oil money to keep themselves in weapons and soldiers for as long as it takes to stay in power. Right now we can defeat them. If we keep wasting time dealing with them diplomatically they will eventually get nukes and we will never be able to stop them without horrific loss of life.

If a bully is five seconds away from beating the sh*t out of you, you really aint got time to sit and talk things out. Sometimes you just have to knock him on his ass and deal with the consequences.

p.s. Ace o Spades Rules.

 
Written By: atomic_amish
URL: http://
I read the two "core themes." They sound perfectly intelligent to me.

What I don’t see is how you get from these core themes to the cold war realpollitik stuff.

Number two is especially important, yes, we do have to go beyond arms control. In fact, we have to not merely revisit the way we handle conflicts, we have to revise the Westphalian model to close the loopholes that have been exploited over the last 350 years.

Internationally, we need to stop the cold war practice of recognizing dictatorships as sovereign. We need to change the international definition of legitimate government western liberal democracy—democratic institutions, suffrage, civil rights, and market-based economies. Sure, internationally despotic governments will still have rights, but only those eqivalent to a corporation, not national sovereignty, the international rights and protections legitimate governments recognize of other legitimate governments.

After all, this is just the next logical step in western liberalism’s advance. We did it to slavery, we can do it to despotism as well.

yours/
peter.
 
Written By: Peter Jackson
URL: http://www.liberalcapitalist.com
The two "core themes" of Progressive Realism are:

"a belief in, well, progress. Free markets are spreading across the world on the strength of their productivity, and economic liberty tends to foster political liberty. ... After all, if you believe that history is on the side of political freedom - and that this technological era is giving freedom an especially strong push - your approach to fostering democracy isn’t to invade countries and impose it."


"problems that today accompany globalization call for institutionalized international responses.
Actually, the two themes are consonant. Free markets liberate transnational Ruling Elites (wealthy Europeans and Ministry apparachniks, "cosmopolitan" Jews of no national allegiance, capitalist centers in Asia and America, the entrepreneur elite in China and other Rising forces) to cause a race in labor costs to the bottom....for their mutual enrichment. As standards of living are eroded (Africa, Latin America) or threatened (USA, Europe) - obviously the Ruling Elites need One World Government with a monopoly on law and use of legitimate force to suppress forces opposing globalization.

Logic Police -
"It’s important to accept that, no matter how much we might like to see them gone, we’re not going to simply topple the Iranian, North Korean and Syrian regimes."

A key flaw here is your addition of "simply" - which you then use to imply that the these regimes can’t be overturned. The same was said about Iraq, and yet the Baathists were overthrown in a matter of weeks.
No, it may be news to you, but Iraq was no "cakewalk", and the war to end the Ba’athist regime is still going on at a cost of 700 billion borrowed Chinese dollars, 18,000 casualties.

Iran has more people than Nazi Germany did, spread over an area as large as Nazi Germany and it’s conquests were in 1941, with better technology. Iran’s missile-making, conventional war materials production, and conventional war structure is spread over 8,000 different sites. There are over 200 nuclear sites we know of, likely 30-40 we don’t know about. Plus the real center of nuke technology, peaceful and non-peaceful - is in the minds of 25,000 Iranians spread out in dozens of universities, office complexes on top of the direct nuke technology centers. To end the Iranian nuke technology threat - you must end the minds behind it - meaning invasion to get them, or massive cluster bombing of Iranian schools and civilian areas. The "cakewalk" of Iran would also mean attriting an Army 90-100 times larger and stronger than Hezbollah, with detachments of Republican Guard and martyr brigades with several kilograms of RDX per matryr set up and blended into the population of each Iranian city and town. And the core is the Mullahs centers - which are all holy sites to Shiite Islam. Care to blast those religious site to help achieve your "easy regime change"? Iran might cost us 3-6 times the casualties and twice the China loans that Iraq has cost us...may put oil at 200 a barrel - pricey for those of us without our own Lear Jet or chain of liquor stores - but the Neocons might promise to double the tax cuts for the wealthy....so it might be popular in some quarters.

The difficulties with Iraq, where America is facing a far less potent foe than Iran, or the hard slog the Israelis are having weakening Iran’s proxy even after 3,000 bombing sorties should have disabused the Neos and their allies equally clueless on warfare that a single American or Israeli "surgical precision bombing raid" would end Iran’s threat...but of course it hasn’t stopped Kristol’s & Krauthammers idiotic saber-rattling.

"Easy Regime change by military force" in N Korea is never thought of by war planners, the S Korean and Japanese public...and China... as being anything less than an unmitigated mass slaughter if it ever is started. 11,000 heavy artillery launchers and 5,000 SRBM and MRBM missiles, and an Army of 1.2 million screened and fanatically loyal to ’Lil KIm - make "surgical, cakewalk" blabber the talk that would land a person outside neocon punditry in a mental facility. And that’s even before we factor in massive stockpiles of nerve gas, anthrax, active bioagents, and 5-7 plutonium devices the NORKs have.

I part a bit with Jon Henke on Syria. Not in the sense he fears though - Of the neocon’s nutty concept of War with our invincible technology and special ops supersoldiers accomplishing "regime change", then Occupation, and then firing every Ba’athist so as to create a Mega-Insurgency. But simply flipping them so they cut ties with Iran and choke Hezbollah off from state sponsorship. ....Which I think IS doable if we have the non-unreasonable agreement from Turkey, KSA, Egypt, the Gulf States, Jordan and Sunnis in Iraq that it essential to pry Syria out of the Shiite Persian sphere of influence to cut off the Hezbollah threat and Isolate Iran. Especially if the iron-tough Turks say they will join us in an attack if Syria stays allied with Iran. Right now, Syria is in a very nasty multi-sided anvil. All adjacent nations hate them. Their neighbors Turkey, Israel, and US expeditionary forces now in Iraq + American AF and Fleet assets in theater are far more powerful militarily. Syria has very commendable features that should not be destroyed. It is one of the few majority Muslim nations on the planet that has a substantial Chistian minority and well as Muslim sects considered heretics elsewhere, that exist in real tolerance. Syria has a secular tradition of rule. And before the power-drunk American neocons had installed their nose-ring on our dumb Commander in Chief, and had publicly threatened their existence back in 2002, Syria was cooperating with US on rooting out and killing Al Qaeda terrorists and with Turkey at ending the sanctuary Kurd terrorists had gotten. The reason why the neocons wanted American forces to achieve "regime change" in Syria is clearer than Iraq or any other country, given Syria’s cooperation with the US and Turkey. It was about our "Special Friend" being threatened by Syria.



 
Written By: C. Ford
URL: http://
Jon,

I certainly agree with the general direction, but it seems to me we need to narrow it down a bit. I am not ready to do that, but as it now stands many can justify a lot of policies within those lines. In fact I see a lot of noise on this thread where people are imagining all kinds of things under the rubric. I would enjoy a fuller description.
 
Written By: Lance
URL: http://
Jon,

In fact I would like to see how Peter’s suggestions could fit.
 
Written By: Lance
URL: http://asecondhandconjecture.com
RAZ -
The basic problem with respect to the Nixon approach in our current circumstances is that we really have no ability to trust that the other side will play by the rules...and we have no viable way to make sure that the other side is held accountable. Nixon’s strategy is wise and workable only where there is some measure of confidence that, when a compromise is reached, both side will (more or less) honor it
No, Nixon was never a particularly trusting soul...He had good reason not to be, for he did have enemies from the communists to the East Coast Establishment to the Jews using Hollywood and the media they controlled to try and pay him back at every opportunity for going after the Rosenbergs and other Jewish Progressives. But he was so distrustful it went past that into unreasonable paranoia....something he admitted and reflected on in his writings years after being forced to resign. Nixon was open on what he was wrong about, and without going into Lefty psychobble and Freudian analysis, tried to explain how he had decided as he did..and forcing readers to factor in what he didn’t know, explained the evolutions of his screwups or bad calls. He had been President without a group of insiders who was committed nothing but to protecting him and bailing him like the Clintom Bimbo Eruption Team did, JFKs Harvard Praetorian Guard - he didn’t trust enough people enough to set up that in the White House. People he trusted were outside DC and thus outside the loop, or fell by the wayside like Bill Rogers. But as an executive, thinking the White House was a Board run by the Chairman rather than a tribe of Henchmen that would die if the Clan Leader died, he communicated that loyalty was to the nation, the job, and themselves - a philosophy he stupidly reinforced by asking for mass letters of resignation to assist in revamping all appointed office holders after the 1972 election. Because of that, he trusted several figures in Watergate too much, for the wrong reasons, to do their jobs - and fell in the coverup when he misjudged the forces ready to bring him down, the power they could muster - and few in his inner circle were inclined to protect him.

He trusted the economic advisors who talked him into wage and price controls too much, said he was blinded to the threat of radical Islam through his overtrust on the Shah’s reassurances...and while he and the Communist Leaders generally honored the trust in agreements - his trust was badly betrayed by the Russians covertly continuing in their massive biowar VEKTOR Program. Nixon knew through Bush I and Clinton he had been betrayed, but died not knowing how bad it was - though Nixon had long before concluded that the Soviets were not a concern because MAD made biowar irrelevant. He was more concerned with the technology spreading and a N Korea, Egypt, Israel, Nigeria coming up with a Satan Bug that was let loose.

Jon Henke -
But that’s not what happened. Nixon effectively replaced the Soviet Union as the dominant diplomatic power in the Middle East, he achieved a major relaxation of tensions with the Soviet Union, and even made serious progress on the human rights front. All because we could effectively use the carrot and stick.
And he was able to create and implement a volunteer military, usher in mostly beneficial environmental measures that have cut airborn soot, lead, water pollution levels by 80%. Finish JFK’s man to the moon program, defeated the Vietcong counterinsurgency end American direct fighting in Vietnam. And transform NIH into a powerhouse of medical research that have helped save or prolong the lives of millions of Americans. As the President at the peak of 60s revolutionary days, he helped America resolve those domestic challenges far better than the Communists, Latins, or European Welfare state solutions did.

It just takes a few Jimmy Carters or Dubya Bushs coming after the Dickster to move him up a few notches in historical reputation. Another waste of office like Jimmy and Dubya, further realization that the MSM is seditious, and Nixon might be in the near-great ranks by 2050.


 
Written By: C. Ford
URL: http://
Aldo, I (now) see the analogy. However, something to think about: in a way, Afghanistan was easier than Lebanon - which I guess was your point - but the reason was that Afghanistan was not actually a failed state. A barbaric theocracy, yes, but the Taliban had the monopoly on armed force. When Al Quieda used it on us, it was by their okay, basically. They were the master.

In Lebanon, the state in which the terror group resides is not where support truly originates. Lebanon really is a failed state - Hizballah doesn’t use its force at Lebanon’s request. This is the type of problem, I would argue, that military force by itself may fail to solve.

Sort of like Palestine, for example.

Now, if Hizballah was based in Syria and attacking from Syrian territory, then you might be able to bomb the Syrian government into restraining them. But, as everyone says here, you can’t bomb the Lebanese into restraining Hizballah.

It’s easier to get a government to bend by force alone than a non-state actor.

 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://

 
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