Democracy Arsenal

May 17, 2005

Democracy, Human Rights, State Dept.

Dana Rohrabacher Got It Right
Posted by Heather Hurlburt

You won't catch me typing that very often.  But continuing Suzanne's effort to find common ground with our conservative friends, I want to note that Rohrabacher called it right on Uzbekistan -- and did it while the Administration was still summoning the courage to be "deeply disturbed" about Karimov's use of force.

I caught him regaling NPR listeners about his trip to Uzbekistan just last month, and how he had told President Karimov that he could "leave as a statesman" by allowing a free election for someone else to succeed him, or "leave feet first." 

This time, Rohrabacher understands something too many of our friends in the blogosphere do not -- that there are plenty of options between supporting authoritarian stooges and abandoning a country to extremist rule. 

Or, when it first became obvious a decade ago that Karimov was nobody's idea of a great ruler, there were options.  There were also considerably fewer radical Islamists.  Now there is a powerful, shadowy and highly radical Islamist organization, along with poverty, resentment, heightened ethnic tensions -- all in all, just the place for the US to be building big military installations.

Karimov has squeezed out civil society, peaceful Islam, and other avenues for protest -- and the US military presence makes a mockery of the well-meant efforts of State Department human rights officials to insist that the US really does want change. 

Last July, for example, the US determined that Uzbekistan was not making progress on human rights concerns and cut $18 million in aid.  Just a month later, though, Human Rights Watch says, the Defense Department ponied up an additional $21 million.  If you were Karimov, what would you think?

This is a great opportunity for progressives to stress what we would do differently with respect to two of Suzanne's questions from Drezner readers:  are you for democracy promotion, or not, and what about hypocrisy?

As I have written before, the US will deal with nasty governments in order to preserve our national interests, no matter who is in power.  "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds," Emerson says.  But smart policymakers -- a category that doesn't have to be limited to progressives -- will limit their hypocrisies by being able to ask themselves hard questions.  Such as:

how many of our eggs do we really want in this sleazeball's basket?

given the discouraging Soviet and British precedents, do we really want a long-term heavy-footprint presence in Central Asia?

are we diminishing our long-term prospects by getting ourselves identified too closely with this lousy government in the near term?

And, now that this violence has happened, and Karimov appears to be unrepentantly following up by ordering large-scale arrests:

are we stuck?  if so, what levers do we have, beyond expressing "deep concern," to put the situation on a better track and communicate to Uzbeks who aren't (yet) committed to Islamist revolution that there is another way?

Progressives on democracy promotion:  you promote democracy by increasing, in big ways or small ways, the ability of people to make decisions that affect their own lives.  You don't promote democracy by lecturing about it -- how much did conservatives like being lectured by Europeans about our elections?  You don't promote democracy by installing it by force, as I argued (with some nice company, like Wes Clark) in this month's Washington Monthly.   

May 12, 2005

State Dept.

Supporting State
Posted by Michael Signer

The rash of violence in Iraq continues, with two Iraqi officials assassinated and 18 more dead yesterday -- an insurgency driven at least in part by local resentment driven by a lack of trust in the occupying forces.  The same dynamic's in place in Afghanistan, too, where there was a massive anti-American riot yesterday

Local understanding, based on patient, long-term knowledge of local politics and culture, and long-range thinking about trends and attitudes toward America -- does this sound like a job for (a) the military?  Or (b) professional diplomats at the State Department?

If you answered (b), you win the prize.

Last night, I was at a dinner with Lorelei, several Hill staffers, and an Army officer who has been involved in the reconstruction of Iraq.  The conversation -- over middling but cheerfully served Greek food right near Capitol Hill -- circled around several topics, but most consistently returned to a single glaring focal point:  America lacks a professionalized diplomatic corps to put in place long-term planning and strategy for the world's hot spots.  And our politicians too often lack the will to sell diplomacy to their constituents.

Continue reading "Supporting State" »

May 08, 2005

State Dept.

Help State Help the Army
Posted by Lorelei Kelly

This past week, the House and -Senate agreed to the FY 2005 SUPPLEMENTAL CONFERENCE REPORT.

The final bill provides nearly $76 billion for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. The funding for the State Department's new office for the Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization ended up a disappointing $7.7 million, down from an initial request of $17 million. The final bill also funds international peacekeeping activities at $680 million, $100 million less than the President's request of $780 million. See a final summary on the appropriations website.

From these numbers, its obvious that most Members of Congress don't see foreign policy and defense as integrated concepts yet, despite all of our post Cold War experiences illustrating that they are. The need for a reconfigured division of labor in our national security apparatus should be obvious to any elected leader who is paying attention to the news for the past three years or even talking to a few returned soldiers back home in the district.

Creating a fully coordinated capacity for reconstruction and stabilization is perhaps the single most important step our government could take to lessen the load of our beleagured armed forces. In order to do this collaboration, we need parallel structures in Defense and State –which we don't have. Yet Congress allocates chump change to that end when it comes to setting priorities in the budgeting process. 

The under funding of capacity for civilian stabilization and reconstruction presents one of those moments when we all need to remind ourselves that there is no such thing as the word "should" on on Capitol Hill.  How could this have happened?

1. The Administration didn't really go to bat for the Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization. The White House could have rounded up the full funding with one or two phone calls to the Hill.

2. Which leads me to suspect that recent proclamations in support of democracy as a sort of new Grand Strategy is passive, not active. In other words, nobody actively disagrees, but there is no active nor identifiable political constituency to push it through.  Congress follows the path of least resistance and without strong support from the Executive Branch, it gets triaged out.

3. The people with the best stories to tell about the vastly changed needs on the ground. i.e. the Army and Marine Corps. are not political advocates.  They also don't have relationships with the progressive members of Congress who would take up this cause and fight for it.  Until recently, there has been no real concerted education effort to bring Congress--much less the progressives-- up to speed and to help them be effective on content and message.

4. Congress (Members and staff) are skeptical of new offices/bureaucracies in general, nothing personal against S/CRS. Most Members and staff know very little about post conflict reconstruction and many are generally anti-participation. (Yes, despite the fact that our Army is doing it anyway!)

5. There is resistance within State to S/CRS, and that resistance is known to Congress, thus inhibiting support.  This is partly territorial, partly resource protection, partly skepticism that S/CRS can do anything worthwhile.

There are some pieces of legislation floating around Congress right now that address the problem of civilian capacity. Senators Lugar and Biden have reintroduced their bill.  In the House, David Dreier (CA) (formerly only lukewarm on the issue) has introduced another. Here is a list of all the initiatives ongoing. My favorite comprehensive package is  Lynn Woolsey's (CA), bill called SMART  security.

One key challenge at the moment is to build a much broader citizen-based political constituency for conflict resolution in foreign policy.  This must happen before Congress will truly respond to the pressing need for change. Maybe the first step would be to make yellow ribbonbumper stickers that say "we support our troops AND our diplomats."

April 26, 2005

Democracy, State Dept.

Tomorrow's Headlines Today
Posted by Heather Hurlburt

Three topics I'd be very interested in if I were a magazine assignments editor, a corporate strategist, or the head of State's Policy Planning shop*:

1.  A small-c conservative shift in Europe is larger than most engaged Americans realize, with implications that we haven't much thought through.

Exhibit A is how the selection of Pope Benedict XVI stunned many American observers, even though in retrospect he was doing some pretty good campaigning for himself in the Italian media.  More specifically, how his election has been attributed to the church's concern with the decline in European catholicism.  (Remember that Europe is still vastly over-represented in the College of Cardinals.)  And what issue did he take on first?  A gay marriage law in Spain.  I'd never argue that the church's European cardinals are exactly in tune with the continental zeitgeist... but yet...

Exhibit B is the upcoming referenda on the EU constitutional treaty in France and the Netherlands.  The treaty is in trouble in France and a concern in the Netherlands, both traditional bastions of pro-EU sentiment.  In neither country is the vote really about the 400-page accretion of specificities and compromises that make up Giscard d'Estaing's treaty; in both the anti-treaty sentiment is tinged with anti-Muslim sentiment that has seized on the prospect of Turkish admission to the EU as one of its rallying points (an  opposition it shares with Pope Benedict, by the way.)

If a major EU country votes down the treaty, that will provoke a near-crisis.  Even if France and the others pull a "oui" out of the fire, the going for the Euro-phile project, and for the tolerant multiculturalism that many Americans, rightly or wrongly, associate with "Europe" is going to be tough for a few years. 

Might that have implications for how much energy and vision Europe can devote to challenges beyond its borders?  Are the "non" campaigners and the cardinals tapping into some very real discomforts with what the 21st century looks like, discomforts not unlike those that make Americans go running to George W. bush for another four years of safety from terrorism?  You bet.

2.  A diffuse, unsteady but very real "third wave" of democratization and "people power" is crashing around the world right now.  If I were a Bush Administration speechwriter, I'd be bragging about it at every opportunity.  Why aren't they? 

A theory:  we all spend a great deal of time worrying about democracy producing results we don't like in places like Iraq, citing the example of fundamentalists elected in Algeria 14 years ago, and so on.  But interestingly, the results most inimical to Washington's order of things right now are coming from Latin America.  Chavez is still in power, and still tweaking Washington; Ecuador can't seem to keep a government in power; and voters in Uruguay and elsewhere have acted n their dissatisfaction with how little growth has trickled down to bring in a "pink tide" of leftist governments in recent years.

And then there are the plucky democracy campaigners we can't (or won't) do much of anything to help -- Zimbabwe, Togo.

So narrowly, this wave of democratization was not made in Washington.  But it is changing the face of some critical regions -- the former Soviet Union, South America, parts of Africa -- in ways that are good for core US values in the long run, but perhaps challenging for Bush Administration interests in the short run. 

3.  An amen, brother to Derek's thoughts on building a strategic reserve of people who actually know something about the Arab and Muslim worlds to help make policy on them, with one addition; in my experience, we are also pretty short on Asia experts.  The broad issue corresponding to terrorism here is strategy for how the US positions itself politically and economically in a world where Asia is on the rise -- and then the ability to carry out such a strategy.  I find the Asianist shortage to get more severe the higher-up one goes; there are still too many of us reformed Sovietologists around.  Many of the Bush Administration's miscalculations, to my mind, can be explained by the paucity of policymakers whose minds were formed anywhere other than in the US-Soviet cauldron.

*Funny note:  I wanted to link to Policy Planning on State's website.  When I searched for it, this is what I got.  I had to pull up the org chart to reassure myself that the Policy Planning staff (of which I am an alum) was still there.

April 17, 2005

State Dept.

Chollet on Rice in Today's Washington Post
Posted by Suzanne Nossel

Great piece this morning by Democracy Arsenal's very own Derek Chollet looking at Condi Rice's potential.  Stay tuned to Democracy Arsenal to find out whether she fulfils the promise.

Rice Aims to Put Foggy Bottom Back on the Map

By Derek Chollet

Sunday, April 17, 2005; Page B01

In trying to explain the role of a secretary of state, George Shultz likens it to the more mundane occupation of gardening. Shultz, who served as Ronald Reagan's top diplomat, says the job entails working every day to keep our alliances healthy, pulling the weeds before they rage out of control, and combating the dangerous pests that want to steal or destroy the fruit. The gardening analogy captures much of what U.S. foreign policy actually is -- the pursuit of America's interests abroad through the constant nurturing of a complex array of actors, interests and goals. Every secretary of state in memory, in his or her own way, has tried to stick to it.

Shultz's former Stanford University colleague and pupil, current Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, wants to try something different. What's striking about her first three months in office is that she has articulated a role for herself and her department that goes far beyond the mere maintenance of diplomacy. She wants State to lead the reshaping of America's role in the world. She describes this as "transformational diplomacy," not just accepting the world as it is, but trying to change it. Rice's ambition is not just to be a gardener -- she wants to be a landscape architect.

Judged by her first months in office, Rice just might succeed. She has received a surprisingly warm welcome from the State Department professionals who were sad to see Colin Powell go and were fearful about what might come next. She has surrounded herself with a team of skilled bureaucratic players, including one of President Bush's closest advisers, Karen Hughes. Politicians on both sides of the aisle have praised her choices for key diplomatic posts. Inside the bureaucracy, excitement has shifted away from the White House and Defense Department and toward the State Department; after four years of beleaguered isolation, State's now a place where people want to go because that's where they believe the action is. And on Rice's recent whirlwind trips through Europe and Asia, she got rave reviews for her diplomatic skill -- as well as her fashion sense -- from some very tough audiences.

Part of her early success can be attributed to the usual honeymoon that every secretary of state enjoys -- especially those who had some degree of celebrity before moving to Foggy Bottom. Powell also rode into office on a tremendous wave of attention, excitement and glowing press. But as soon as he tried to assert himself, he proved out of step with his president and ineffective at fighting internal struggles. By this point four years ago, Powell's honeymoon had been shattered, as he found himself in public disagreement with Bush about whether the United States should engage North Korea in talks. (He favored doing so; Bush did not.) In many ways, he never recovered, leaving a legacy of dashed expectations.

Continue reading "Chollet on Rice in Today's Washington Post" »

April 05, 2005

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.   

March 22, 2005

State Dept.

When a Kennan Falls in the Forest
Posted by Heather Hurlburt

I have been waiting in vain since the weekend for someone to explain why folks who are neither Sovietologists nor Cold War historians nor American diplomats should care about the passing of George Kennan. Looks like I’m going to have to do it myself.

Kennan represents two vanishing strands in US public service: a class of people who believed in, or aspired to, the noblesse oblige, allegedly disinterested service of the upper classes; and a political culture where individuals with ideas could – and did -- change the substance of US policy and the frame in which it was presented to the country.

Go back and look at Kennan’s "Long Telegram" and "X article"; they are profoundly intellectual documents, spelling out his assessment of a foreign culture, its abilities and aspirations, and how the US might respond. They are devoid of domestic political calculation; they are not written to appeal to this wing or that of an Administration. Kennan was to be greatly frustrated later, when he became head of the Policy Planning staff, that he could not cut through the politics that surrounded the Secretary and dominated his calculations.

‘Twas ever thus.

Yet Kennan’s observations were hugely influential not just at the moment they were made, but later, when the framework he put forward ultimately withstood the assaults of John Foster Dulles and his proposals to replace Kennan’s “containment” with “rollback.” One article published in Foreign Affairs actually set both the framing and content of US policy toward our primary adversary for decades to come. No polling, no message-testing, no national listening tours to build support.

Much as we all pant to publish in Foreign Affairs, when’s the last time something published there enjoyed this kind of influence? Remember when Francis Fukuyama tried to pull something like it off at the Cold War’s end?

It’s not merely that Kennan was both brilliant in his thinking and lucky in his timing. Any one person’s ability to bestride the foreign affairs establishment is gone because that tiny, narrow elite establishment has been replaced, for better and worse, by … well, by us.

The old-style culture of public service, particularly in foreign policy, as the proper preserve of the wealthy and educated, filtered through just a few universities, banks and law firms, did spit up some tremendous minds, Kennan among them. But it disdained the minds of women, ethnic and religious minorities, state university graduates, and those of limited means. It encouraged America’s diplomats to think that their calling was higher than mere politics, though it involved understanding and manipulating the politics of others. And it encouraged American citizens to pay only the broadest attention to what their leaders did abroad in their name.

In the years after Vietnam, the diversification of elite education, the women's movement, and ethnic consciousness-raising caught up with those assumptions and the foreign policy elite that had encouraged them.

But the collapse of trust in public service, heightened partisanship over foreign policy, and the overwhelming flow of data we live with now also conspire to drown out a single voice speaking truth. If there is a George Kennan for militant Islam, say, could we remember the broader national interest long enough to listen?

How much has our culture, and the kinds of messages we expect from our leaders, changed since 1947? Look at the conclusion of the “X article.” Would any Secretary of State, or even any political figure, dare tell us this now?

The issue of Soviet-American relations is in essence a test of the overall worth of the United States as a nation among nations. To avoid destruction the United States need only measure up to its own best traditions and prove itself worthy of preservation as a great nation.

Surely, there was never a fairer test of national quality than this. In the light of these circumstances, the thoughtful observer of Russian-American relations will find no cause for complaint in the Kremlin's challenge to American society. He will rather experience a certain gratitude to a Providence which, by providing the American people with this implacable challenge, has made their entire security as a nation dependent on their pulling themselves together and accepting the responsibilities of moral and political leadership that history plainly intended them to bear.

State Dept.

Deja vu, or Vuja De?
Posted by Derek Chollet

A good reminder, Heather.  We agree that a key question is how Rice will handle the inevitable end of the romance and that rather than Deja Vu we experience -- to borrow a line from the profound movie "Top Secret!"-- Vuja De, the sense that this has never happened before.  You are also right that she has to stand for something -- which is what many both inside and outside the State Department believed that, for all his talents, Powell never did.   

I guess what makes her so interesting to me is that unlike most other Secretaries of State (including one you mention), she starts out not just with hoopla about who she is and what she symbolizes but with a very close relationship with the President, and she has many people around her (namely Karen Hughes, but there are others) who have same sort of credibility and influence over at the White House and even across the river.  This is an obvious point to make (but often easy to forget), and it does not help to answer the most important question: how she will use her unique position to shape policy.      

State Dept.

Honeymoon Rice: Deja vu all over again
Posted by Heather Hurlburt

Derek, re your Rice post, I know you remember 1997 at the State Department.  As I watch Rice, though, I keep wondering whether she and her handlers remember not just 1997, but 1998, 1999 and 2000.

In 1997, of course, Madeleine Albright became Secretary of State.  The first woman secretary... the American dream come true for a little immigrant girl, whose own story exemplified the triumph of freedom over tyranny... who worked the media, wooed the Europeans and wowed the Washington political dinner-theater circuit.

Bumperstickers proclaiming "Albright for President" -- even circulated, though not specifying whether of the US or the Czech Republic.  (She's ineligible here until the Arnold Schwarzenegger Amendment passes.  When it does, Albright-Granholm would be a heckuva primary... but I digress.)

Fan mail, adoring crowds, Annie Liebowitz photoshoots in Vogue...

Sound familiar?  Hey, whaddya know, you can be a diplomat and have a personality.  Interesting how this sort of trajectory never seems to happen to, say, the Secretary of Agriculture.

It couldn't last, of course.  The staff thought we knew that.  But when you get to thinking that your boss deserves the good press, before you know it, you're unprepared for the bad.  And Albright took a drubbing that was as unreasonable as her initial honeymoon was idealized. 

It will be interesting to see whether Rice's people are better prepared for this, and whether she herself is thick-skinned enough to handle the idols-with-feet-of-clay stories that are inevitable.  I have my doubts, but hey, prove me wrong.

Derek, your larger question can be boiled down to, does she have an agenda and if so, what is it?  It seems a safe bet to say that she is where she is because of her fealty to Bush's second-term agenda.  Jim Hoagland laid this out last weekend about as well as anything I have seen.  Can she turn the corners of this unilateralist-in-all-but-name agenda into a circle that maintains America's strongest asset, its leadership of great alliances and institutions for great purposes?  Can she, working with Karen Hughes but starting from what she herself says and does, use not just image but also policy to arrest the slide of America's standing in the world?  And, by the way, can she reassert State's policy prerogatives to complement the work Albright and Powell did resuscitating its funding?

I suppose we had better wish her luck.

State Dept.

Will it be more than a honeymoon?
Posted by Derek Chollet

By many measures, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is off to a strong start.  She has received a warm welcome from the State Department professionals.  Both Republicans and Democrats have praised her choices for key diplomatic positions, many of whom—Chris Hill, David Welch, Nick Burns—would have been up for senior jobs if John Kerry had won in November.  And on her recent trips throughout Europe and Asia, she got solid reviews from some very tough audiences.

But her success so far should not mask the tremendous challenges she faces—and the questions that remain about how she plans to meet them. 

Apart from Kissinger, Rice is the only person to have been both NSC Advisor and Secretary of State.  But her situation is most reminiscent of another Secretary of State to another President Bush, James A. Baker III. 

As a longtime friend of the 41st President, Baker’s authority was beyond question.  No one doubted that Baker spoke for the President.  The same goes for Secretary Rice today.

This much we know: like Baker, Rice will have exceptional influence, and therefore the State Department will have a more central role in foreign policy.  Yet this fact begs a far more important question: what will she use her influence for?

What we need from Secretary Rice is not more soaring rhetoric—we need action to meet immediate challenges, especially in Iraq, Iran, and North Korea.

During her recent trips to Europe and Asia, these issues turned out to be the skunks at the party.  In each of these cases American policy seems to be on autopilot—but it is hard to tell where they are heading.

It is truly distressing when one can say that of the three, our policy toward Iraq is clearest.  The recent elections gave reason for hope, but right now, there is no road map for the way forward, no sense of how the burden can be taken off American troops to provide for Iraq’s security.

Add to this the nuclear dangers from North Korea (which claims to have nuclear weapons) and Iran (who wants them), which aren’t getting any easier.  While Iran inches forward with its nuclear program, evidence mounts that North Korea has sold its nuclear materials to Libya, and possibly others.  For the past few years, the Bush Administration has not had an effective policy to handle these threats.  Part of the problem has been the Administration’s preoccupation with Iraq; another is that it has been too internally divided to reach consensus on way forward.  Instead, it has outsourced the problem to others.  This is yet another example of the Administration’s unilateralism: but rather than doing something alone, it is doing nothing alone. 

When it comes to handling these threats, Secretary Rice is right: it’s time for diplomacy.  It’s also time to have a policy.  How she meets these challenges will define how she is judged as Secretary of State.  One hopes that Rice will use her unique influence with the President—and the positive momentum she has created during her first weeks in office—to get the United States engaged.  Not just for her sake, but for ours.

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