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April 09, 2005

Progressive Strategy, Weekly Top Ten Lists

Weekly Top 10 List - Top 10 Myths Progressives Need to Let Go Of to Regain the Upper Hand on Foreign Policy
Posted by Suzanne Nossel

1. Americans like and care about the UN – Progressives love to cite studies showing that most Americans support the UN. That support may be a mile wide, but its an inch thick and never translates into political payback for politicians who either undermine or strengthen the world body  It's not that going through the UN on many issues doesn't make sense to people, but they need to see the rationale for it. 

2. Americans want to be liked/don’t want to be seen as a global bully – Most progressive foreign policy types (myself included) believe that, as a strategic matter, the U.S. is best off being liked and respected around the world. But this should not be confused with public concern for the U.S.’s popularity. If given a choice of whether the U.S. is better off being liked or feared around the world, most Americans would choose feared.   We need to explain that being liked need not be at the expense of being influential.

3. Americans care about alliances for their own sake – Clinton framed the progressive approach as: “with others when we can, alone when we must.”  (Amb. Richard Gardner may have originated this coinage).  Some have described the conservative ethos as “alone where possible, with others where forced to.” The public likes coalitions in that they save money, and because international imprimatur can save us divisive and politically costly internal debates. But they are also deeply attached to the idea that we can act alone. The end result is something like: “with others where possible, alone when we feel like it.”   So we cannot totally discount the option of going it alone.

4. A progressive foreign policy is reconcilable with protectionism – Protectionism will never look like anything other than hypocritical pandering to labor. That doesn’t mean labor’s interests don’t have to be taken into account. Progressives should be working now to put flesh on the bones of compromises involving labor and human rights standards that most agree are the only way forward here.

5. Either the left or the center will get a foreign policy platform it is reasonably happy with – Ain’t gonna happen on either side. Neither of their pure prescriptions will attract a broad enough constituency, so we need both sides under the tent. They can debate all they want in bars and blogs, but when it comes to politics, both sides need to replace purity with pragmatism.

6. America is a dangerous force in the world/does more bad than good – Americans will never follow a leader who believes this.  (A corollary myth we must abandon is the idea that a policy of promoting democratization is necessarily tantamount to imperialism.  Bush has made it that, but it needn't be.  See more on that here).   We need to assert a confident vision of how American power can be channeled to positive ends.

7. Americans can fully appreciate abstract threats – Though they are all critical issues, talk of loose Russian nukes, North Korean uranium enrichment and dirty bombs aren’t going to move ordinary Americans unless something happens to make these threats real. Until then, the criticism of conservatives’ over-emphasis on the terrorist risk at the expense of these dangers falls flat.  We should continue to talk about these things, but should not expect most Americans to focus on them.

8. The failures in Iraq will push ordinary Americans toward a progressive foreign policy – This did not happen in 2004 when Iraq was at its worst, and won’t happen in future. That most Americans do not approve of the U.S.’s approach to post-war Iraq is not driving them toward alternatives (probably because the level of casualties is low enough).   Our criticisms and the alternatives we offer need to go well beyond Iraq.

9. We’re up against a tradition of passivity and pacifism in our own ranks – Not so. Witness FDR, Truman, JFK and even Bill Clinton. We need to get over our own self-doubts if we’re going to win over others. Getting closer to the military as suggested here and here will help.   So will elevating people with the background and personality to be convincing in talking about security issues.

10. The U.S.’s challenges in the Middle East are primarily caused by our policy toward Israel – On the contrary, it’s the U.S.’s unwavering support (and his own history of hawkishness) that has allowed Ariel Sharon to move forward. Abbas’ election and the restarting of peace talks prove that Arafat was a huge part of the problem in recent years.   At the same time, there are areas where we can and should challenge Israel.

April 07, 2005


Pennywise and $250 Foolish
Posted by Michael Signer

Following Lorelei's well-taken question about how much progressives can learn from the military, here's a related issue:  as Ed Rendell recently asked in the  Democrats' weekly radio address, what in God's name is the Administration doing reducing health care benefits for our veterans? 

More importantly, what are progressives going to do about it?

The proposed 2005 Veteran's Administration budget would increase by $250 the annual health care premium for thousands of veterans in the government's TriCare system.  It would also increase the copays for "nonformulary" prescription drugs from $9 to $22 -- a 140% increase.

If it isn't already screamingly obvious, there's a national security dimension here. 

Esprit de corps is the magical ingredient in maintaining an effective fighting force.  If we're going to proceed with what's essentially a forced draft, we damn well better have the soldiers fighting for us happy, well-fed, and healthy -- along with the veterans who inspire them to join the service. 

Continue reading "Pennywise and $250 Foolish" »

April 06, 2005


Turning the Screws on Bolton
Posted by Suzanne Nossel

Apropos of Heather's point about making the Bolton confirmation hearings a referendum on values, it appears that progressives on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee are raising some new issues.  The NY Times reports:

[T]here have been accusations that Mr. Bolton has sought to remove dissenters from their posts or bar them from meetings called to discuss policies. A senior Central Intelligence Agency official has become the second government official to tell the Senate Intelligence Committee that he believes Mr. Bolton sought to remove him from his post after he complained that statements Mr. Bolton made in 2002 about a biological weapons program in Cuba did not reflect the views of intelligence agencies, Congressional officials said.

They said that the committee was reviewing those accusations, combined with previous allegations that Mr. Bolton had tried to suppress information undercutting the administration's contentions about unconventional weapons . . .

Some intelligence officials have complained that he used intelligence selectively, promoting views favorable to his positions on Cuba, Iraq, Syria and other countries.

If indeed Bolton made selective use of intelligence and tried to fire officials for voicing dissenting views, these actions are directly at-odds with President Bush's professed commitment to intelligence reform.  Though we may agree on little else, the need for unbiased weighing of unvarnished intelligence should be a matter of unquestioned bi-partisan consensus after what successive reports have revealed about the catastrophic failures surrounding the Iraq invasion.   

The public readily understands why willful manipulation of intelligence is dangerous.   Depending on what is brought out in the hearings, they may now understand why Bolton is dangerous too.


Grand Strategy for Progressives
Posted by Lorelei Kelly

More and more these days, it seems progressives and the military could learn a lot from each other and, in fact, with outreach and an appropriate communications strategy, the two could become allies in developing a new civil-military relationship for the post 9/11 era. 

Broadly defined, "civil-military relations" refers to the relationship between the armed forces of the state and the larger society they serve -- how they communicate, how they interact, and how the interface between them is ordered and regulated.

What do the military and progressives have to learn from each other?  First of all, progressives, with their populist bent and their intuition about the benefits of broadly inclusive liberal society -- have much to contribute to the kinds of missions that the military has embarked upon since the end of the Cold War.  Even the Weekly Standard embraces nation-building in this week's cover story .

Progressives, on the other hand, could use a few lessons in thinking about battle plans and the military conceptualization of Grand Strategy with its subdivisions of strategy, operations and tactics. Grand Strategy is a broad and long-term theme -- like containment during the Cold War.  Strategy, operations and tactics breaks this theme down into more manageable pieces. This way of thinking, both broad and simultaneous, might be helpful for a group of citizens who often mistake tactics (public protest) for strategy (600 page outline on world peace) and vice versa.  Full disclosure: I have a healthy history of being chained to fences, and costumed street actions -- and have also worked in academia.  I truly respect both these types of contributions, but think they could be coordinated much more effectively.   

Continue reading "Grand Strategy for Progressives" »


More re: Arabs on Arab Democracy
Posted by Suzanne Nossel

The fulltext of the Arab Human Development Report referenced below is now published on the UNDP website.   The NYT report was indeed skewed, in that the references to the US and Israel hindering Arab democratic development are embedded in a thorough discussion of everything Arab governments are themselves doing wrong on that score.   But the point stands the U.S. is seen as anything but a hero in the region, and that democratization in the Mideast may well not herald more positive attitudes toward the U.S. or Israel.

Several commentators objected to my reference to the U.S. playing a role in fostering democracies around the world that feel a sense of affinity toward America.   I did not suggest that U.S. foreign policy in the 20th century was either uniformly benign, or centrally focused on democracy promotion.   

It was intermittent, inconsistent, and at insincere, but I believe that the U.S. did, during important times during the second half of the twentieth century, stand for and promote a brand of democracy that had broad appeal around the world.   We made a concrete difference in Japan, Italy, Germany,  South Korea, Panama, the Philippines and the countries of Eastern Europe.  We inspired dissidents and freedom fighters in dozens more places.  The record is very uneven in Latin and South America and Africa, and attitudes toward the U.S. in those regions reflect that.  Luckily we don't have to debate this country-by-country, 'cause that's already been done on someone else's blog.

But the split between glass half full versus half empty on this score is reflective of a deeper divide among liberals about whether the U.S. can trust its own hand.  Some think that any role in trying to promote democracy around the world inevitably bleeds into self-interested and ultimately harmful meddling in other countries' affairs.  Our checkered history and relatively small number of true success stories is proof of that we are better off sticking to our knitting.   This was behind the neo-isolationism of the left that manifested during the debates over Iraq.

Others believe that American power can and must be used as a force for positive political change around the world, and seize upon historic examples to support this view.  I am of this school.  American power is by no means the right instrument to accomplish every foreign policy goal.  But it is a powerful and useful instrument, if deployed correctly.   And it is sometimes the only available instrument.   Yes, the history of U.S. democratization efforts is at best mixed.  But -- given the resources we possess and the weakness of alternative instruments - - rather than downing our tools, we ought to be trying to hone them.


Oh, To Be a Fly on the Wall
Posted by Michael Signer

So, according to Scott McLellan in the gaggle this morning, there were three Presidents, not one, on the hours-long flight to Rome this morning for the Pope's funeral:  Bush I, Bill Clinton, and Bush II -- all sitting right together on Air Force One.

Is anyone else struck by how strange this must have been?

Even though Clinton and George H.W. have been traveling together for weeks now raising money for the tsunami victims, it still strains the brain to imagine all three talking for several hours -- but maybe, just maybe, they talked about Scott Appleby's terrific article in Foreign Policy about how the new Pope needs to reach out, rather than reject, modern Islam -- and how cutting-edge ethicists in both faiths need to push their political wings toward progressive ends, especially on the intersection of poverty and instability, and the pursuit of just wars -- see, e.g.:

... the next pope must be the architect of a Christian-Muslim dialogue that fosters alternatives to policies and programs that violate the principles of Catholic social teaching. These principles include the preferential option for the poor, the sanctity of human life, and the need to formulate policies serving the common good rather than narrow interests. Muslim religious values lend themselves to this communitarian construction of society, but much work must be done by Catholic and Muslim ethicists to achieve shared visions on issues ranging from “just war” to birth control.

Alas, it was probably all long pauses, Clinton playing hearts, 41 munching pork rinds, and 43 making fratty jokes.  The above -- well, it's just a flight of fancy (okay, wince, I know -- sorry, long day at the office).


Arab problems democratizing being blamed on US (and - surprise, surprise - Israel)
Posted by Suzanne Nossel

The other day I did a post about how Bush's democratization efforts in the Mideast, though not without positive impact, are boomeranging into anti-US sentiment because of the larger wrapping of arrogance, unilateralism, chest-thumping, etc.

This morning's NYT reports on the latest Arab Human Development Report by the UN Development Program in which the US and Israel are blamed for the lack of progress toward democratization in the Arab world.   I haven't been able to track down the report itself online, but the summary suggests it calls for "swift and fundamental" democratic reforms, but rather than pinning the blame on Arab governments, shifts it to the region's usual suspects.  It states that as a result of the US invasion of Iraq:

the Iraqi people have emerged from the grip of a despotic regime that violated their basic rights and freedoms, only to fall under a foreign occupation that has increased human suffering.

Apparently the Bush Admin put on heavy pressure to try to get rid of this language.

This is the third such Arab Development Report UNDP has published, and the series has in the past been praised in that Arab academics have taken a clear-eyed appraisal of their region's problems and what needs to be done about them.   It is a report written "by Arabs for Arabs" that comes to grips with forces like modernization and globalization.   It is too bad that this latest version seems to try to turn the tables on the West, but it is emblematic of the problems that Bush's brand of democratization will run into. 

Some commentators have pointed out that we are better off with democracies that resent us and are bent on getting out of our orbit than with autocracies that breed terrorism.   

That's true, but those aren't the two alternatives:  throughout the last century the US helped seed democracies around the world that felt deeply aligned with our values.  The positive results of those policies are why belief in the spread of democracy is now among the major foreign policy pillars to have attracted bi-partisan consensus.   But now, for the first time ever, US-style democratization is getting a bad name.  We don't know the consequences of fostering a region filled with democracies that tend to be anti-US (and are unrepentant in their anti-Israel sentiments).  But it's possible we're about to find out.

April 05, 2005


Where is Karl Rove when you need him?
Posted by Heather Hurlburt

Paging Karl Rove...

please report to Bush Administration Latin America policy immediately. 

So our idea of how to promote democracy in Latin America is, when the Sandinistas re-nominate Daniel Ortega for president, but polling shows he is thoroughly discredited, with even a majority of Sandinistas preferring someone else, we promptly begin denouncing the election, 18 months before the fact?

The only thing I can think of more likely to drive up Ortega's popularity and make this pathetic 80s hangover relevant again is mining Nicaragua's harbors... oops, we tried that one already.

I feel confident Rove could handle this better.  Perhaps he should join Karen Hughes at State and be allowed to do so.

State Dept.

Can the "Dream Team" Reform its UN Mascot?
Posted by Heather Hurlburt

Well, it sure isn't a foreign policy team that looks like America... but you're right, Derek, that's a fine bunch of diplomats who've proved their chops under Republicans and Democrats, good policies and bad.

I had a lot of respect for Colin Powell, Richard Armitage and Marc Grossman too, though, which brings up a point -- this ain't about personalities.  That's why I wonder whether the John-Bolton-has-three-heads strategy is really the right one.

From outside the Beltway, it looks like more politics-as-usual and personal attacks.  And it seems overwhelmingly likely to fail.  Progressives could have used the hearings as an occasion to get together around four or five big principles of how the US ought to be acting in the world -- ones that resonate with regular folks -- and then seek Bolton's pledge that he would act in accordance with them.

Those principles -- respect other nations' priorities if we want them to support ours; follow through on promises we make; live by the same rules we ask others to live by; etc. -- are ones that everybody gets, whether or not they are able to name all the members of the Security Council.  They are a critical tool in explaining why Bolton's views and actions are a hindrance to US foreign policy.  But they are bigger than he, or any nominee.  If the Administration doesn't yet understand that this is how things get done -- and stay done -- no dream team of senior staff is going to be able to help.  But if the Administration really did change its tune on the UN, Bolton's presence wouldn't be a problem... at least not for very long.   

April 04, 2005


A Second Term Dream Team?
Posted by Derek Chollet

For weeks DA and others in the blogosphere -- as well as the old fashioned media -- have been fuming about some of President Bush’s more troubling appointments, especially John Bolton at the UN.

But what’s been interesting to me is how Bolton’s appointment, as disturbing as it is, has been the exception rather than the rule. Let’s face it, many of the President’s recent second term national security appointments give reason for hope.  Ok, I know, railing against the Administration is more fun, but I believe in giving credit where it is due.

In many cases, Bush and his Cabinet Secretaries have stacked senior positions (especially at State, but even at the Pentagon) not with neo-con ideologues or raging right-wingers, but with sensible, smart, tough-minded professionals – who believe in diplomacy and institutions and agree with progressive internationalist ideals more than they (and we) might like to admit.

I’ve pointed out before that this is especially true at the State Department, where Secretary Rice has surrounded herself with folks like:

Robert Zoellick, her Deputy Secretary. He’s a politically loyal Republican, to be sure, but a direct descendant of the pragmatic Baker school (along with Dennis Ross, he ran the Department under Baker). He’s tough and has some faults (just ask the Japanese), but is one of the Administration’s best diplomats – in fact, as USTR during the first term, he was the Administration’s only effective diplomat. He also believes deeply in international institutions – it was Zoellick, working under Baker and then Australian Foreign Minister Gareth Evans, who engineered the creation of APEC in 1989-1990.

Nick Burns, the Under Secretary for Political Affairs, State’s number three official. A career foreign service officer, he was a top aide and spokesperson for Clinton’s first Secretary of State, Warren Christopher. He just served as U.S. Ambassador to NATO, where he was superb – he did a great job with a very bad brief. He worked on Zoellick’s staff, and later as Rice’s deputy, during the first Bush Administration.

Philip Zelikow, Rice’s Counselor. Recently served as executive director of the 9-11 commission (where there were grumblings about his partisanship), and has been assigned with troubleshooting and overseeing State’s counter-terrorist and intelligence bureaus. Chapter 12 of the 9-11 commission report is practically a playbook for progressive internationalism – and an inherent indictment of Bush’s first term – and let’s hope that Zelikow works to put into practice what he preached. He co-authored with Rice a chronicle of a major U.S. diplomatic triumph, the unification of Germany during 1989-1990, and along with Nick Burns, was a Zoellick staffer in the Baker State Department.

Chris Hill, the Assistant Secretary of State for Asia (he's not confirmed yet, but will be).  Another career official, he rose through the foreign service under the tutelage of Richard Holbrooke, played a decisive role at the Dayton negotiations to bring peace to Bosnia and during the Kosovo crisis, and was a senior NSC official during the Clinton Administration responsible for the Balkans.

Stephen Krasner, Rice’s Director of Policy Planning. Kranser is an old Rice confidante from Stanford, and she is said to trust him completely. So far he is traveling with her full-time. While relatively unknown in Washington, he is a major figure in political science circles (PoliSci grad school quiz: name the other “two K’s”). If his academic writing is any guide, he promises to come up with interesting ideas – he has written an entire book on sovereignty, arguing that it has never really existed as a single concept (now that would be news to John Bolton!).

Importantly, similar choices have been made elsewhere – including, crucially, at the Pentagon. Late last week, the President announced that Wolfowitz and Doug Feith, two of the Pentagon’s top three civilian officials, would be replaced by:

Gordon England, the former Navy Secretary. England is highly regarded in defense circles, and many have hoped that he would replace Wolfowitz. He has done a good job as Navy Secretary, and his reputation is as a straight shooter, easy to get along with, and non-ideological.

Eric Edelman, currently U.S. Ambassador to Turkey. Edelman is one the finest foreign service officers of his generation, and his selection to replace the less-than-beloved Feith as the Pentagon’s lead civilian policy official was widely anticipated inside the building and throughout Washington policy circles. A former top aide to Vice President Cheney, Edelman was also one of Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott’s closest aides during the Clinton Administration, and helped shape the U.S. approach toward Russia and NATO enlargement during the 1990’s.

So what’s all this inside baseball mean? Will such officials shape the second Bush term? Maybe that's why Bolton is being exiled to New York. Or at least let's hope so.

Progressive Strategy

A foreign policy that's as bold as Bush's, but won't boomerang
Posted by Suzanne Nossel

Martin Peretz has an article in the New Republic about a big conundrum facing us foreign policy progressives: namely, how to come to grips with Bush’s successes in promoting democracy in the Middle East. Heather touched on this toward the end of her discussion of whether the spread of democracy will reach Zimbabwe, and whehter Bush will get credit for that. Peretz criticizes liberals for “churlishness” in the face of Bush’s achievements, noting that “One does not have to admire a lot about George W. Bush to admire what he has so far wrought. One need only be a thoughtful American with an interest in proliferating liberalism around the world. And, if liberals are unwilling to proliferate liberalism, then conservatives will. Rarely has there been a sweeter irony.”

I agree with his last point, namely that progressives must reclaim our heritage of liberal internationalism before conservatives steal and thwart it for good. I wrote about that in Foreign Affairs last year and more recently in a piece for CAP. I also think we need to give Bush props for ungluing Arab totalitarianism. Let's face it: most of us did not think this could be done, and we certainly had no plan for how to do it in the short-term.

We might as well give Bush credit because:

a) he deserves it (or at least part of it, sort of);
b) the country will credit him even if we don’t, so there’s not much to lose;
c) what’s happening in the Mideast is genuinely good news;
d) glueckschmerz (the opposite of schadenfreude, i.e. sorrow at someone else’s happiness) is unseemly.

But couple of new thoughts:

It’s not (just) churlishness that makes us hesitant to praise Bush’s accomplishments. Rather, we are convinced that key aspects of his approach -- the arrogance, the deception, the lack of accountability, the cronyism, the dismissiveness of critics and questioners, the failure to uphold democratic values while purporting to promote democracy, the refusal to admit mistakes -- are flat out wrong.

We’re not blind to the positive and important results of Bush’s daring in the Middle East. But we believe that over time, the negative sides of his foreign policy will likely overwhelm the positive, isolating America, making threats more difficult to contain, and undermining our influence and our security. It’s a tough to laud the results of Bush's press for democracy without being misconstrued as endorsing his foreign policy as a whole. We fear that anything perceived as easing up on the critique will open the door to an untrammeled brand of unilateralism that will ultimately prove counter-productive and dangerous.

Laura Rozen cites a piece in Ha’aretz entitled “Pro-Democracy and Anti-U.S.” that gets at the problem:

The sad part of all these examples . . . is that the American administration and Bush in particular are perceived as a scourge. Reform movements in Egypt, Iran, Lebanon or Syria, whose members are ready to be killed for democracy in their country, go berserk the moment they are accused of receiving American funds or contributions. To attain public legitimacy, it appears that each of these movements needs an anti-American slogan in addition to the pro-democracy slogan.

The paradox of Bush’s foreign policy may be that what is good for democracy turns out not to be so good for the U.S. Democracies built on a foundation of resentment toward us may not turn out to be reliable allies we can count on. Rather, fueled by populations that are skeptical and resentful of America, these countries may be less likely to support American policies than their predecessor regimes. We may be creating a world of democracies, but at the same time losing our footing at the center of it.

That does not mean democracy is somehow a bad thing, or that it shouldn’t be a centerpiece of U.S. policy. It does suggest that as a matter of U.S. interests, democracy coupled with kinship and support for the U.S. is far preferable than the former without the latter.

That leaves us to applaud Bush’s boldness, his willingness to commit U.S. power and energy in furtherance of important causes, and his sense of possibility about even the most intractable region of the world. We badly need more of all of those things within our own ranks. But at the same time, we must continue hammering at what’s wrong with Bush’s approach, and scheming to define a foreign policy that will be every bit as bold and visionary, but will attract rather than repel the rest of the world.


Drowning, Not Surfing
Posted by Heather Hurlburt

Goodness knows the Zimbabweans have earned a place in this latest parade of democratization.  I have been unpleasantly surprised to see how little of the context of their struggle makes it into any of the reportage.

To read most of the coverage of the latest Zim elections, in which I include us members of the chattertariat, you would never know that:

  • the opposition has been at this for a while -- these are the third bogus elections foisted on Zimbabweans by Mugabe in five years;
  • his methods of persuasion include denying food to opposition MDC members and entire neighborhoods or villages that have been MDC in the past;
  • on the other side of the ledger, Mugabe still enjoys almost-mythic status for leading guerrilla forces in Zimbabwe's war of liberation and sheltering South African ANC members during apartheid -- which is why Thabo Mbeki is so embarrassingly unwilling to let Mugabe fall of his own weight.

Oh, and I kept waiting for someone to mention that journalists now operate under incredibly strict restrictions and most foreign journalists have been expelled.  Charlayne Hunter-Gault's pieces on NPR were particularly frustrating in this department.  Great examples of journalism offering objectivity by failing to provide context -- a non-informed listener would have had a very hard time figuring out what was going on.

So, in a few months, when polls tell us that lots of folks believe that this wave of democratization was created by the Bush Administration, this is why -- the idea that people in places like Zimbabwe and Georgia and Lebanon have been struggling for years to change things just doesn't break through.  Strugging and failing is business as usual.  Now, as to why we seem to be at a "tipping point" in public demands for democracy -- that is an interesting question.

April 03, 2005


Zimbabwe Trying to Catch a Wave
Posted by Suzanne Nossel

Following this weekend's developments (see earlier post) the Zimbabwean opposition is now calling for a re-vote.  They seem to have concluded, smartly, that democratization happens in waves.  The events in Iraq, Lebanon, Ukraine, and Kyrgyz are mutually reinforcing.  For Zimbabwe, catching this wave would mean mustering a chorus of international protest against this week's rigged election (see Human Rights Watch's report on concerns that piled up in the weeks before the vote and here for the latest on what's happened since).   

The U.S. has a role to play in this, and not much to lose.  We should back the call for a revote, and for an array of legal and political reforms that would be necessary to make a second ballot fair.  The matter is complicated by an endorsement of the polling by a group of Southern African vote monitors.  But their conclusions are undermined by the reports from dissenters within the observer mission and by the known pro-Mugabe orientation of the head of the mission a cabinet minister in the government of Mugabe-friendly South African President Thabo Mbeki (Mbeki essentially called the Zimbabwean elections free and fair weeks before they took place).  Mbeki was wrong on AIDS, and he's wrong on this.

If we miss this chance, Zimbabweans will be stuck looking out for the next wave, a wait Mugabe himself says may last until he turns 100 in 2024.  While Mugabe himself may survive until then - -  all the signs in terms of its economy, life expectancy, food supply and more - - suggest that his country won't.

UN, Weekly Top Ten Lists

Weekly Top 10 List - Top 10 Reasons Why John Bolton Should Not Be Confirmed As U.S. Ambassador to the UN
Posted by Suzanne Nossel

Bolton’s confirmation hearings start Thursday, and its not too late to weigh in, particularly with Senator Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island.  While the chances of flipping any conservatives on the SFRC to vote against Bolton are slim, Chafee is thought to be the best prospect.  For more on Bolton check out the Arsenal archive, the CAP website, and especially the which is on the forefront of this battle.

Top 10 Reasons:

10. He hates the UN. He’s said that the U.S. should be the only country on the UNSC, that the UN building could be shaved of 10 stories without it making a difference, etc.  Check here for direct quotes.

9. He doesn’t believe in paying U.S. dues to the UN. And has said so.  A big part of the job of UN envoy is working with the Hill to get U.S. contributions paid.  Withholding dues in the ‘80s and ‘90s led to a diplomatic debacle that took years to put right.  We don’t have the time, energy or goodwill to waste on such battles.

8. He won’t enjoy the support of U.S. diplomats around the world. 60+ ex-diplomats have signed a letter opposing Bolton. Current envoys feel the same way.  But Bolton will need the embassies to back him in capitals to succeed in pushing through U.S. proposals (see Retail Diplomacy).  Personal views about Bolton will undercut this support. 

7. He and the Secretary of State are not on the same page. Insiders seem unanimous that Bolton was foisted on Rice.  This is a recipe for tension between USUN and the Seventh Floor, a fissure that other countries will try to exploit. 

6. His statements on China are reckless.  He clearly enjoys the role of provocateur vis-à-vis China and Taiwan.  At a sensitive point in relations, we cannot afford to have a flamethrower in the mix.

5. The damage will not be confined to the UN.  Bolton is not a team player.  He has  a track record of breaking rules and exceeding his mandate (including by setting an unauthorized deadline for Russian acceptance of US conditions for remaining in the ABM treaty).  The UN post touches on a wide range of issues, and is notoriously difficult for the State Department to control.

4. Denying confirmation would signal the world that the foreign policy opposition is alive and kicking.  If they see an active progressive opposition, the world will continue to distinguish between their view of this Administration and their view of America at large.  With Bush’s reelection and supposed mandate, the separation gets harder -- and more important -- to sustain. 

3. He will not change his spots.  Some, including progressives, have argued that Bolton may change his ways once at the UN.  But this is the man with whom Jesse Helms wants to stand at Armageddon.  Can you imagine, if the roles were reversed, conservatives giving the “benefit of the doubt” for a nominee they saw as weak on security (“well, once he gets to the Pentagon, that may toughen him up”).

2. He is a proven opponent of arms control.  Bolton has blocked a slew of arms control agreements, from the CTBT to a small arms accord and a biological weapons agreement.   With proliferation, terrorism and the combination thereof topping of the list of threats against the U.S., arms control belongs at the forefront of U.S. national security strategy.  Bolton will stand in the way of that.

1. He will be ineffective in representing U.S. interests.  And this is most important of all.  Promoting U.S. interests at the UN is an art and a science.  A hammer is an essential part of UN diplomacy.  But Bolton is missing the rest of the toolbox.  See my article on Retail Diplomacy (PDF) for more on how the US can get its way at the UN through crafty diplomacy.

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