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04/17/2003

Shaping Foreign Policy

Foreign Affairs magazine is known to be as influential a
publication as you’ll find in the corridors of Washington. The
other day I saw a reference to a 1996 article by William Kristol
and Robert Kagan as having a profound impact on shaping
Bush Administration policy in the war against terror,
specifically, the doctrine of preemptive strikes.

Well, it just so happens that I have every Foreign Affairs issue of
the past 20 years so I thought we’d take a look at the Kristol /
Kagan piece titled “Toward a Neo-Reaganite Foreign Policy.”
Kristol, of course, is the Editor of The Weekly Standard, while
Kagan is one of the most influential strategists of our time and
author of the highly acclaimed book, “Of Paradise and Power:
America Vs. Europe in the New World Order.” This release
goes beyond a Policy Review piece he did last year titled “Power
and Weakness,” which I featured in this space 1/30/03.

Understand the backdrop for the July/August 1996 essay. The
Republican Party was being pulled by both the isolationists and
internationalists, the Buchanan vs. Dole factions, as the
presidential election heated up. You’ll recognize many of
today’s themes, though, in the excerpts I have chosen.

---

“(Today) conservatives tailor their foreign and defense policies
to fit the presumed new political reality: an American public that
is indifferent, if not hostile, to foreign policy and commitments
abroad, more interested in balancing the budget than in leading
the world, and more intent on cashing in the ‘peace dividend’
than on spending to deter and fight future wars.”

“(President Ronald) Regan called for an end to complacency in
the face of the Soviet threat, large increases in defense spending,
resistance to communist advances in the Third World, and
greater moral clarity and purpose in U.S. foreign policy. He
championed American exceptionalism when it was deeply
unfashionable. Perhaps most significant, he refused to accept the
limits on American power imposed by the domestic political
realities that others assumed were fixed.”

“Conservatives will not be able to govern America over the long
term if they fail to offer a more elevated vision of America’s
international role.”

“During the Cold War, the strategies of deterrence and
containment worked so well in checking the ambitions of
America’s adversaries that many American liberals denied that
our adversaries had ambitions or even, for that matter, that
America had adversaries. Today the lack of a visible threat to
U.S. vital interests or to world peace has tempted Americans to
absentmindedly dismantle the material and spiritual foundations
on which their national well-being has been based. They do not
notice that potential challengers are deterred before even
contemplating confrontation by their overwhelming power and
influence.”

“In a world in which peace and American security depend on
American power and the will to use it, the main threat the United
States faces now and in the future is its own weakness.
American hegemony is the only reliable defense against a
breakdown of peace and international order. The appropriate
goal of American policy, therefore, is to preserve that hegemony
as far into the future as possible. To achieve this goal, the United
States needs a neo-Reaganite foreign policy of military
supremacy and moral confidence.”

“Whether or not the United States continues to grant most-
favored-nation status to China is less important than whether it
has an overall strategy for containing, influencing, and ultimately
seeking to change the regime in Beijing.”

“U.S. military leaders harbor justifiable suspicions that while
they serve as a kind of foreign legion, doing the hard work of
American-style ‘empire management,’ American civilians at
home, preoccupied with the distribution of tax breaks and
government benefits, will not come to their support when the
going gets tough.”

“The United States achieved its present position of strength not
by practicing a foreign policy of live and let live, nor by
passively waiting for threats to arise, but by actively promoting
American principles of governance abroad – democracy, free
markets, respect for liberty.”

“(History shows) that the American people can be summoned to
meet the challenges of global leadership if statesmen make the
case loudly, cogently, and persistently. As troubles arise and the
need to act becomes clear, those who have laid the foundation for
a necessary shift in policy have a chance to lead Americans onto
a new course.”

“Conservatives these days succumb easily to the charming old
metaphor of the United States as a ‘city on a hill.’ They hark
back, as George Kennan did in these pages not long ago, [ed. the
“Mr. X” article on containing the Soviet Union] to the
admonition of John Quincy Adams that America ought not go
‘abroad in search of monsters to destroy.’ But why not? The
alternative is to leave monsters on the loose, ravaging and
pillaging to their hearts’ content, as Americans stand by and
watch. What may have been wise counsel in 1823, when
America was a small, isolated power in a world of European
giants, is no longer so, when America is the giant. Because
America has the capacity to contain or destroy many of the
world’s monsters, most of which can be found without much
searching, and because the responsibility for the peace and
security of the international order rests so heavily on America’s
shoulders, a policy of sitting atop a hill and leading by example
becomes in practice a policy of cowardice and dishonor.”

“It is worth recalling that the most successful Republican
presidents of this century, Theodore Roosevelt and Ronald
Reagan, both inspired Americans to assume cheerfully the new
international responsibilities that went with increased power and
influence. Both celebrated American exceptionalism. Both
made Americans proud of their leading role in world affairs.
Deprived of the support of an elevated patriotism, bereft of the
ability to appeal to national honor, conservatives will ultimately
fail in their effort to govern America. And Americans will fail in
their responsibility to lead the world.”

---

Frankly, were it not for 9/11 the current administration may not
have fulfilled the hopes and dreams of Kristol and Kagan. But
since the attacks, the President has been focused like a laser
beam and has basically followed the gameplan outlined above.

Brian Trumbore

*Hott Spotts will return next week.



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04/17/2003

Shaping Foreign Policy

Foreign Affairs magazine is known to be as influential a
publication as you’ll find in the corridors of Washington. The
other day I saw a reference to a 1996 article by William Kristol
and Robert Kagan as having a profound impact on shaping
Bush Administration policy in the war against terror,
specifically, the doctrine of preemptive strikes.

Well, it just so happens that I have every Foreign Affairs issue of
the past 20 years so I thought we’d take a look at the Kristol /
Kagan piece titled “Toward a Neo-Reaganite Foreign Policy.”
Kristol, of course, is the Editor of The Weekly Standard, while
Kagan is one of the most influential strategists of our time and
author of the highly acclaimed book, “Of Paradise and Power:
America Vs. Europe in the New World Order.” This release
goes beyond a Policy Review piece he did last year titled “Power
and Weakness,” which I featured in this space 1/30/03.

Understand the backdrop for the July/August 1996 essay. The
Republican Party was being pulled by both the isolationists and
internationalists, the Buchanan vs. Dole factions, as the
presidential election heated up. You’ll recognize many of
today’s themes, though, in the excerpts I have chosen.

---

“(Today) conservatives tailor their foreign and defense policies
to fit the presumed new political reality: an American public that
is indifferent, if not hostile, to foreign policy and commitments
abroad, more interested in balancing the budget than in leading
the world, and more intent on cashing in the ‘peace dividend’
than on spending to deter and fight future wars.”

“(President Ronald) Regan called for an end to complacency in
the face of the Soviet threat, large increases in defense spending,
resistance to communist advances in the Third World, and
greater moral clarity and purpose in U.S. foreign policy. He
championed American exceptionalism when it was deeply
unfashionable. Perhaps most significant, he refused to accept the
limits on American power imposed by the domestic political
realities that others assumed were fixed.”

“Conservatives will not be able to govern America over the long
term if they fail to offer a more elevated vision of America’s
international role.”

“During the Cold War, the strategies of deterrence and
containment worked so well in checking the ambitions of
America’s adversaries that many American liberals denied that
our adversaries had ambitions or even, for that matter, that
America had adversaries. Today the lack of a visible threat to
U.S. vital interests or to world peace has tempted Americans to
absentmindedly dismantle the material and spiritual foundations
on which their national well-being has been based. They do not
notice that potential challengers are deterred before even
contemplating confrontation by their overwhelming power and
influence.”

“In a world in which peace and American security depend on
American power and the will to use it, the main threat the United
States faces now and in the future is its own weakness.
American hegemony is the only reliable defense against a
breakdown of peace and international order. The appropriate
goal of American policy, therefore, is to preserve that hegemony
as far into the future as possible. To achieve this goal, the United
States needs a neo-Reaganite foreign policy of military
supremacy and moral confidence.”

“Whether or not the United States continues to grant most-
favored-nation status to China is less important than whether it
has an overall strategy for containing, influencing, and ultimately
seeking to change the regime in Beijing.”

“U.S. military leaders harbor justifiable suspicions that while
they serve as a kind of foreign legion, doing the hard work of
American-style ‘empire management,’ American civilians at
home, preoccupied with the distribution of tax breaks and
government benefits, will not come to their support when the
going gets tough.”

“The United States achieved its present position of strength not
by practicing a foreign policy of live and let live, nor by
passively waiting for threats to arise, but by actively promoting
American principles of governance abroad – democracy, free
markets, respect for liberty.”

“(History shows) that the American people can be summoned to
meet the challenges of global leadership if statesmen make the
case loudly, cogently, and persistently. As troubles arise and the
need to act becomes clear, those who have laid the foundation for
a necessary shift in policy have a chance to lead Americans onto
a new course.”

“Conservatives these days succumb easily to the charming old
metaphor of the United States as a ‘city on a hill.’ They hark
back, as George Kennan did in these pages not long ago, [ed. the
“Mr. X” article on containing the Soviet Union] to the
admonition of John Quincy Adams that America ought not go
‘abroad in search of monsters to destroy.’ But why not? The
alternative is to leave monsters on the loose, ravaging and
pillaging to their hearts’ content, as Americans stand by and
watch. What may have been wise counsel in 1823, when
America was a small, isolated power in a world of European
giants, is no longer so, when America is the giant. Because
America has the capacity to contain or destroy many of the
world’s monsters, most of which can be found without much
searching, and because the responsibility for the peace and
security of the international order rests so heavily on America’s
shoulders, a policy of sitting atop a hill and leading by example
becomes in practice a policy of cowardice and dishonor.”

“It is worth recalling that the most successful Republican
presidents of this century, Theodore Roosevelt and Ronald
Reagan, both inspired Americans to assume cheerfully the new
international responsibilities that went with increased power and
influence. Both celebrated American exceptionalism. Both
made Americans proud of their leading role in world affairs.
Deprived of the support of an elevated patriotism, bereft of the
ability to appeal to national honor, conservatives will ultimately
fail in their effort to govern America. And Americans will fail in
their responsibility to lead the world.”

---

Frankly, were it not for 9/11 the current administration may not
have fulfilled the hopes and dreams of Kristol and Kagan. But
since the attacks, the President has been focused like a laser
beam and has basically followed the gameplan outlined above.

Brian Trumbore

*Hott Spotts will return next week.