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September 12, 2007

They Hate Us Because Our Diplomats Let Them???
Posted by Heather Hurlburt

Further to my musings about how automatically everyone runs to the military side of the picture:  has anyone else noticed that GOP presidential candidates still think that beating up on our diplomatic service is a primary vote-getter?

Check out Rudy Giuliani's Foreign Affairs piece:

Our ambassadors must clearly understand and clearly advocate for U.S. policies and be judged on the results.  Too many people denounce our country or our policies simply because they are confident they will not hear any serious refutation from our representatives.  The American ideals of freedom and democracy deserve stronger advocacy.  And the era of cost-free anti-Americanism must end.

This is almost too ridiculous to parse.  Is he really saying that US diplomats don't understand US policies?  If so, whose fault is that?  Does he think they're not bright enough?  Does he really think that our people sit around Jakarta and Moscow and the Green Zone with their pinkies raised saying, "you're right, we've been wrong all these years, Chavez-style soft-authoritarianism really is the way to go, and George Bush does smell like sulphur??"

Perhaps Mr. Giuliani is just too provincial, hasn't seen our people at work enough.  I'd like to introduce him to the woman who was my mentor when I interned at the State Department 18 years ago.  Though the experience did turn me away from joining the Foreign Service, I worked with an impressive cast of characters.  I recently heard that this woman, whom I lost track of for a decade, is in Baghdad, running the Baghdad talks with Iran.  She and her husband each left very senior (and much less dangerous) diplomatic posts to go there.  Not to put too fine a point on it, but like thousands of other soldiers and civilians, she's advocating freedom, democracy and smart problem-solving with her life.  I'm not using her name here, but I'd take her judgement and advocacy on America's behalf over Rudy Giuliani's any day. 


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Pretty amazing, innit.

Further to my musings about how automatically everyone runs to the military side of the picture: has anyone else noticed that GOP presidential candidates still think that beating up on our diplomatic service is a primary vote-getter?

Who is "everyone"? The GOP is in deep trouble. Why would you take their candidates as emblematic of everyone?

Republican candidates are playing to the 30% of the country that form their wingnut base, still support Bush, and think he was done in by all those treacherous liberal, pinko, Arabist fifth columnists in the Democratic Party, the State Department, the CIA, and a lot of the rest of the executive branch. That's red meat for right-wingers, but I don't think the majority of the country is on the same page.

Dan, I think you've conflated two points. I do see "everyone" across ideological divides running to focus on the military testimony and ignore the more important question of whether political process is being maded or is even possible. I agree with you that it's hard to believe that much of "anyone" is jumping on that Giuliani point -- except for the folks who already believe that the UN black helicopters are after our lawn furniture, as Madeleine Albright used to say.

Rudy is just recognizing the obvious, that the diplomatic corps has to get on board the US world military hegemony train and shout hosannas for the stated US policy of pre-emptive military attacks. The Pentagon rules; its 'peacemakers' must be supported.

It's an alpha-beta thing, like Petraeus-Crocker.

Now that you mention it, what do our diplomats do, if they don't just "sit around"? What diplomatic successes have been scored recently? The whole world hates the US. Every challenge is met with military force. There are apparently no talks going on with Syria and Iran. No reconciliation in Iraq. Israel has a free hand to do whatever it wants. Egypt is more authoritarian despite (because of?) US aid. India and Pakistan are on tenterhooks. Forget Russia and China. Europe is getting nervous about Iraq and Afghanistan, justifiably. Latin America is pulling away. We have few friends in Africa--the new Pentagon creation AFRICOM can't find a home. The South Koreans have been told they can't have peace with North Korea. What DO they do?

This line is straight from john bolton, a man the G campaign named as an adviser.

Personally I agree with this commentary. It would appear better had it not been within hours by DA's B-team taking a break from watching The Daily Show to post about how Gen. Petraeus is a dishonest partisan hack.

For several weeks now, Heather, I have been coming across the argument that it doesn't matter whether military conditions in Iraq have or have not marginally improved, because the all-important political situation has clearly not improved, and is in fact worse. And I don't mean that I have just been encountering this argument in blogworld, but the same argument has also been made repeatedly on the lame MSM cable networks. People really do get it now, and public opinion has never been so opposed to the war. Yes, the White House would like people to focus entirely on the Petraeus testimony. But they aren't falling for it.

Any day that Dan Kervick is more optimistic about Iraq policy than I am is a day worthy of note. I hope you're right -- but what I read in the papers this morning suggests a policy that actually undermines the supposed security progress rationale of the surge, has no new answers to the political conundrum, but is still just a token withdrawal.
And Zathras, thanks. I will walk around muttering "I pity the fool" even more than usual.

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