Friday, March 24, 2006

Albright Blows Sour Notes

Clinton's Secretary of State, Madeline Albright, has a very dumb op-ed in the Los Angeles Times:
It is sometimes convenient, for purposes of rhetorical effect, for national leaders to talk of a globe neatly divided into good and bad. It is quite another, however, to base the policies of the world's most powerful nation upon that fiction. The administration's penchant for painting its perceived adversaries with the same sweeping brush has led to a series of unintended consequences.
I don't remember that President Clinton took on Syria or the dictatorship in Haiti with any moral ambiguity.
The first is to understand that although we all want to "end tyranny in this world," that is a fantasy unless we begin to solve hard problems. Iraq is increasingly a gang war that can be solved in one of two ways: by one side imposing its will or by all the legitimate players having a piece of the power. The U.S. is no longer able to control events in Iraq, but it can be useful as a referee.
I suspect the Dog Trainer has edited this to the point of incoherence. Of course, we all do not want to end tyranny in the world; that is why there is still tyranny in the world.
The goal of the President's reconstruction of Iraq is an Iraq that controls itself; the lack of ability to give orders in Iraq is a measure of our success in achieving that goal.
Second, the Bush administration should disavow any plan for regime change in Iran — not because the regime should not be changed but because U.S. endorsement of that goal only makes it less likely. In today's warped political environment, nothing strengthens a radical government more than Washington's overt antagonism. It also is common sense to presume that Iran will be less willing to cooperate in Iraq and to compromise on nuclear issues if it is being threatened with destruction. As for Iran's choleric and anti-Semitic new president, he will be swallowed up by internal rivals if he is not unwittingly propped up by external foes.
A choleric anti-Semite is just fine as President of Iran? There are indeed countries that experience rough-and-tumble internal politics; Iran since the Shah isn't one of them. If Ahmadinejad has the Supreme Council and the Revolutionary Guards in back of him, who's going to have the clout to stop him?
Reading this in light of Albright's failure with North Korea's nuclear program, I wonder if she really gives a damn about nuclear proliferation by anti-American states? What we desire is not a "compromise" by Iran, but a surrender.
In the long term, the future of the Middle East may well be determined by those in the region dedicated to the hard work of building democracy. I certainly hope so. But hope is not a policy. In the short term, we must recognize that the region will be shaped primarily by fairly ruthless power politics in which the clash between good and evil will be swamped by differences between Sunni and Shiite, Arab and Persian, Arab and Kurd, Kurd and Turk, Hashemite and Saudi, secular and religious and, of course, Arab and Jew.
Ruthless "poker" by Washington is the reason there's an Islamist regime in Teheran in the first place.

No, hope is not a strategy. Hope is a worldview. It informs your strategy and tactics. Your hope guides your choices. I'd expect somebody who worked for the Man from Hope would understand that.

Why is it that so many of Bush's opponents don't understand the difference between a clear vision of outcome, and a blueprint to achieve it?

"Ending tyranny" isn't achieved by doing business with tyranny as if good and evil didn't matter.

I remember the episode of American Experience: Ronald Reagan, where George Schulz is accused of leading the first State Dept in decades that failed to reach an arms control deal with the USSR. Schulz replied, "So what?" And after that hung in the air, he explained he'd rather have no deal and avoid a disadvantage, than deal badly for the sake of a deal.

Madeline Albright preferred to make the deal. Thank God, she is relegated to writing op-eds for the Los Angeles Times.

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