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March 20, 2007

MWM seeks strong and muscular political party
Posted by Rosa Brooks

Hey Republicans: feeling a little unloved lately? Don't lose hope: Lonely Joe Lieberman's available, and he wants to be swept off his feet by a political party with a "strong and muscular" approach to foreign policy.

Hey, GOP, I think he's talking about you! Look, I know some people-- well, okay, a lot of people-- think you don't have a lot going on upstairs. But don't lose heart: there are those who like that in a political party!

- Seriously, folks: when are we going to stop treating US foreign policy as a chest-beating contest? With all due respect to our friends at ThinkProgress, we don't need to respond to Lieberman's coy little hints by insisting that "the current Democratic presidential candidates want to sharply reduce or eliminate the U.S. presence in Iraq. That is strong and muscular." That misses the point.

I'm as fond of "strong and muscular" as the next girl, but not as the measure of US foreign policy. To paraphrase Zbigniew Brzezinksi, we need to resist efforts to frame policy debates in terms of strong versus weak, or hard versus soft power: the real question is whether we're going to be smart, or stupid. I don't know about Joe, but I'll take smart over stupid any day of the week. 


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» Muscle Bound from Political Animal
MUSCLE BOUND....Rosa Brooks comments on Joe Lieberman's call for a Democrat with a "strong and muscular" foreign policy:I'm as fond of "strong and muscular" as the next girl, but not as the measure of US foreign policy. To paraphrase Zbigniew... [Read More]


Americans, almost uniquely in the world, have been suffering from a drug problem. This drug should have been washed out of the gene pool long ago by its very nature, yet it persists, particularly in the males of the species. Since men pretty much run things outside the home this drug continues to cause all kinds of problems with competitive, as opposed to cooperative, behavior--especially foreign relations and war. The drug is testosterone.

So what we need is more women on top. (This isn't a plug for Hillary because she talks more like men every day. She may be on the t-pill.) We need more people of the female persuasion to communicate and cooperate, at which women excel, rather than compete and fight which is the male testosterone-driven macho thing that always gets us into trouble.

Before Democrats, coming before the American public with three front-running Presidential candidates who all but advertise their novice status with respect to foreign policy and national security affairs, get too carried away with the theme that they are "smart, not stupid," they really need to come to grips with the consequences of the last Democratic administration.

Those consequences included a crippled State Department, evisceration of American foreign aid and public diplomacy programs, and eight years -- eight YEARS -- in which the United States looked on, doing nothing, while al Qaeda grew and prospered.

If that is what Democrats consider "smart" they should say so. If they propose to return to office the same foreign policy team whose failures set the stage for 9/11 they should say that too. But if they agree that the Clinton administration's fecklessness and inattention to American national security represented a legacy that has to be repudiated they should not just say so in plain language but declare the things with which they would replace it. With all respect to Mr. Brezinski, who is about as likely to serve in a future Democratic administration as I am, that declaration to be credible will have to come from someone else.

This harkens back to Clinton's statement that Americans will always vote for Strong, even if it's Wrong, and that Democrats, although they are more concerned with being Right, need to frame it as Strong, in order to win.

And yeah, Bush has tried to be Strong but turned out completely Wrong.

Zathras, you need to come to grips with your misconceptions about Clinton's foreign policy... when talking about "smart, not stupid" one doesn't make a good case by repeating lies and talking points spewed by the likes of Rush Limbaugh.

eight years -- eight YEARS -- in which the United States looked on, doing nothing, while al Qaeda grew and prospered.

A reliable source for this information, please?

Is it me, or is Zbigniew Brzezinksi trotted out like a dancing bear every time someone on the inexperienced side of military policy needs a handy act for the big top?

I say this because if there's a better example of a failed foreign policy than Carter's four years straddling Ford and Reagan I don't know to whom it would belong. This was the guy who had a colleague named "Vance" who resigned rather than watch the inevitable, crushin debacle of American foreign and military policy we now think of the "hostage rescue" in Tehran.

Talk about a makeover!

O, what of this former hawkish-dovish thinker of big thoughts? Well, he gave us MX, Salt II, the Camp David Accords and Basket III.

But he also had some role in the Iran hostage debacle. Many in the diplomatic ranks pointed to his policies as encouragement for the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. His 1979 paper discounting the notion of a rise in Jihadist militancy is almost the perfect example of poor forecasting, at best. It wasn't the first time. As an advisor to LBJ, he encouraged escalation in Vietnam, and his role in the campaign of W's father postponed the careers of Albright, Lake and Holbrooke. His contemporary endorsement of the creepy Walt effort about the "Lobby" influencing American foreign policy should make him verboten, but I guess there's always a second chance in America, right?

That's because he's now a "Realist" along with Kissinger and Scowcroft and a bunch of former CIA hacks and anti-Communist rightniks that the left once avoided, but now embrace.

Strange bedfellows.

Is this the guy we want to lecture us about Iran? Of all the people on the globe, we pick the one fellow most out of touch over the years about Iran, jihadist militancy, the Family Saud and the evolving terror campaign against Israel, the US and our allies?

Dance, Bear. Dance.

" I don't know about Joe, but I'll take smart over stupid any day of the week."

I don't know about Rosa, but I'll take the guy who ran with Gore over the architect of "smart" efforts like the Nojeh coup anyday.

At some point, someone is going to start asking questions about the rise of jihadist militancy in failed states such as Afghanistan, point to instances where the US aided a brutal despot like Hussein to foment a pointless coup in Iran, or his encouragement to PRC to coddle the Khmer Rouge as episodes that might make others around the world truly question to sagacity and morality of our foreign policy choices.

This is a 1998 interview with Zbigniew Brzezinksi, President Jimmy Carter’s national security advisor .


Q: Despite this risk, you were an advocate of this covert action [the U.S. government’s furnishing of weapons to Osama bin Laden and the Taliban, which brought the Soviets into Afghanistan]. But perhaps you yourself desired this Soviet entry into war and looked to provoke it?

B: It isn't quite that. We didn't push the Russians to intervene, but we knowingly increased the probability that they would.

Q: When the Soviets justified their intervention by asserting that they intended to fight against a secret involvement of the United States in Afghanistan, people didn't believe them. However, there was a basis of truth. You don't regret anything today?

B: Regret what? That secret operation was an excellent idea. It had the effect of drawing the Russians into the Afghan trap and you want me to regret it? The day that the Soviets officially crossed the border, I wrote to President Carter: We now have the opportunity of giving to the USSR its Vietnam war. Indeed, for almost 10 years, Moscow had to carry on a war unsupportable by the government, a conflict that brought about the demoralization and finally the breakup of the Soviet empire.

Q: And neither do you regret having supported the Islamic fundamentalism, having given arms and advice to future terrorists?

B: What is most important to the history of the world? The Taliban or the collapse of the Soviet empire? Some stirred-up Muslims or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the cold war?

"Some stirred-up Muslims"--remember that as the U.S. empire collapses as a result of another case of government ineptitude.

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