For me, Sundays have always been a day of contemplation, rumination,
my usual daily meditations, of course, but most of all for reading. Lately,
the reading has not made it on to these pages, but today I'd like to rectify
that, for Sunday is an opportunity to sit back and do something very important:
|Condi vs. Deadeye … Hillary vs. McCain
We can't call the whole thing off.
Today I'd like to share what I believe is a very important piece
by Steve Clemons. But first and briefly, Steve is also mentioned today in the
Inquirer editorial, “The Iraq War: Three Years
Later An incomplete mission, a war-weary nation.” Weary, indeed,
incomplete is it in the nutshell. Instead of reading the rebranding of Rummy,
read the truth from Philly.
… … Still, these last three years
have created new critics of the United States and emboldened old foes. These
last three years have eroded America's prestige.
Before Iraq, said Steven C. Clemons,
a useful mystique surrounded the strength of the United States. Clemons heads
foreign policy studies at the New America Foundation.
Rogue nations such as Iran didn't know
the boundaries of our power. This blundering war of choice in Iraq has revealed
In his second term, Bush and Secretary
of State Condoleezza Rice have shown a new realization about the importance
of diplomacy. But they are working with far less leverage than before. …
Talking about something many find very controversial, the limits
of American power is one way to put it. I prefer the language that makes the
point that there is a limit to our influence through militarism alone. Ever
the hawk, I, this distinction is of critical importance, especially when dealing
with the likes of the non-intellectual anti-diplomacy influence of Deadeye.
A side step… Steve's blog doesn't provide for copying and pasting,
so I got the parts shown below from the Japan site, which I hope Steve will
forgive. I know esteemed writers like Josh Marshall and Steve Clemons don't
like their posts being cut apart, but for discussion purposes it's just tremendously
effective to make my point, rather than me paraphrasing a very complex argument.
I ask you to please take a moment to read
Steve's entire piece, because it can only be appreciated by reading it in
Another point, as all regular readers know, I have a particular disdain for Dr.
Rice, due to what I believe is her abject incompetence. But we'll leave that
out of this debate today. I just didn't want anyone thinking I was ready to
give her a pass because of Steve's a-political persuasions on foreign policy.
He's a bigger person than I.
So, we pick up it up where Condoleezza Rice has decided that America
being absent of diplomatic conversations is getting us in trouble. Well, duh. Oops, I promised, but it's just so hard. … … Ms. Rice
wants to change this reality. We all know what she ran into, none other than
the brick wall of Bush's ball carrier, Vice President Dick Cheney.
… …But where is George W. Bush?
Those who note the third anniversary of the United
States' Iraq war–that began with a stealth bombing effort to decapitate Iraq's
government on March 19, 2003 (U.S. time)–believe that the president fully
subscribed to the neoconservative posture of hard-edged democratization and
abandoned any pretense of realist cost-benefit analysis.
But given the clear quagmire the United States has
fallen into in Iraq–and the puncturing of the mystique of U.S. power in the
world in which enemies are now moving their agendas and allies are counting
on the United States less–Bush's foreign policy soul may be out for bid again.
Rice wanted to instill in Bush–using policy intellectuals
like Kaplan–the importance of redesigning U.S. engagement in world affairs
during a time of perceived U.S. ascendancy. Rice knew that an inertia rooted
in Cold War realities rather than contemporary strategy still drove most military
and foreign policy decisions, and she was trying to shake this up. Rice was
also trying–though she failed at that time–to modernize the “realist
church” of foreign policy and make Bush the first major patron of a “neorealist”
movement that used realism as a vehicle for limited democratic transformation
The bottom line conveyed to Bush was that while the
president had to “talk the talk of democracy,” he had to deal in
the real world with thugs and dictators. Democratizing undemocratic parts
of the world was a time-consuming and long-term process worthy of pursuit–but
more important was that the fundamental U.S. security interests were managed
and shored up as “transformative” efforts were pursued.
But Sept. 11 broke the back of Rice's efforts, which
were stymied as well in part because she did little to inculcate these neorealist
views across the broad swath of foreign policy practitioners embedded across
the executive branch.
Who is Robert Kaplan?
He had enough juice to get a sit down with the boss, according to Clemons. In
Kaplan's next article for Atlantic Monthly, while talking about Iraqi realities, Kaplan heaps praise on the Stryker
brigades, which got the push under a Democratic
president by the name of Bill Clinton. Everyone scoffed at the time, because
of all the effort, time and retooling these monsters took. Well, it's all paid
…The credit for this radically changed emphasis belongs
to successive Army chiefs of staff, particularly Eric Shinseki and Peter Schoomaker.
New hardware, such as the Stryker combat vehicle, also
plays a big role, facilitating a change in the relationships between captains
in the field and majors and lieutenant colonels back at battalion headquarters.
The Strykerâ€”with its added safety features that drastically reduce casualties
from IEDs and suicide bombs, its ability to travel great distances without
refueling, and a computer system that gives captains and noncommissioned officers
situational awareness and the latest intelligence for many miles aroundâ€”has
helped liberate field units from dependence on headquarters. … …
Coming Normalcy?, by Robert Kaplan
Clemons brings together an array of characters fighting for Bush's ear in the
midst of a power lock down orchestrated by Deadeye.
The drama depicted pits a woman against an entrenched, well known man who
has an in with all the boys who play ball on the same team. It's a gender based
struggle in an area of strategic importance that has a woman's ability to engage versus a man's instinct to use any rhetoric to make his point,
which is to hit first and talk after the dust settles, if it ever does.
It's important to note here that when Colin Powell tried to insert his diplomatic prowess, not only was he beaten back by Deadeye, but he bought into the Bush team plan. His lesson, however, seems more to do with how soldiers turn political operatives handle a confrontation with the commander in chief than the importance of pushing your policy beliefs in the face of great odds. Condi doesn't seem to be caught in Colin's trap, though she too has lost the scrimmages so far. That is until Deadeye fired the shot heard round the world, which has done more damage than anyone in the press wants to talk about. Shooting Harry Whittington has no doubt diminished Deadeye with W. Amazing that it took the vice president shooting someone in the face to wake up our ever out of touch prez. But that's the nature of “leadership” in the Republican ranks these days.
The importance of the issues raised lead, I believe, to a fascinating foray into what is
going to happen as women make their way up the political power structure to
seats of influence where bombs and brains, not to mention, boobs and balls, collide. We could be talking about
Condi vs. Deadeye, Rep. Heather Wilson vs. Rummy, or Hillary vs. McCain. This
truly is the opening salvo in the coming of women who will have power, and those women who will be considered strong enough to hold the reigns of ruling normally only held by men. We must
watch it and cull out the lessons. The fate of the future, our nation and the
world lies in our ability to decipher its meaning, as well as shift our sensibilities and prejudices so that women can be considered for a seat where war and peace are not only considered, but actually decided.