June 10, 2004


Kerry Faces the World: What would a John Kerry foreign policy look like? In some ways a lot like one the current President's father could endorse (Joshua Micah Marshall, August 2004, The Atlantic)

In early February I sat in a Starbucks in downtown Washington with Dan Feldman, who is helping to organize Senator John Kerry's foreign-policy team. We discussed Kerry's vision of America's role in the world, and the people who might play important roles in his Administration if he is elected President, touching on everything from the crucial issue of Iraq and the simmering crises in North Korea and Iran to NATO and the proper balance between international alliances and the brute force necessary to secure American interests abroad—collectively, the foreign-policy questions that are central to the next election, and to the next four years. [...]

As we discussed this, Feldman outlined a course that starkly departed from the one charted by President Bush, yet was equally unlike the approach—characterized by soft multilateralism and fealty to the United Nations—portrayed by Republicans as typical of Democratic foreign policy. Feldman emphasized the need for skilled diplomatic management and a willingness to use force abroad, but also an essential caution. The more he spoke, the more he called to mind the policies of the first Bush Administration.

George H.W. Bush has receded into history. But his Administration's traditional if unimaginative attitude toward foreign relations lives on through his National Security Adviser, Brent Scowcroft, who re-emerged two years ago as one of the most unabashed and difficult-to-dismiss critics of the buildup to war in Iraq. Democrats once viewed Scowcroft as the champion of an amoral and shortsighted foreign policy that sacrificed American values in order to achieve stable relations with great powers and avoid trouble in hot spots like the Balkans (a view, incidentally, shared by many of the neoconservatives who surround the current President). It was Scowcroft who secretly traveled to Beijing shortly after the Tiananmen Square massacre to reassure the Chinese that government-to-government relations needn't suffer despite the bipartisan indignation of the American public. But in 2002, lacking a consistent criticism of the drive toward war, many Democrats eagerly took shelter in Scowcroft's high-profile opposition.

One would have assumed that Mr. Marshall would support Kerry and oppose Bush, but surely he isn't boasting that he's just another "champion of an amoral and shortsighted foreign policy that sacrificed American values in order to achieve stable relations with great powers and avoid trouble in hot spots"?

Posted by Orrin Judd at June 10, 2004 7:37 PM

Shouldn't the damning paragraph be changed to "achieve a state of subservience to the UN and to avoid making any difficult decisions that might influence the next election?"

Posted by: jim hamlen at June 11, 2004 12:36 AM

OJ --

Of course he is.

Posted by: Uncle Bill at June 11, 2004 7:35 AM

This sounds like some nice spin on the bureaucratic desire for 'stability' above all, which isn't much more than hoping that if we are quiet the bad guys will leave us alone.

I'm sure pointing back to a Republican administration was the objective of the exercise (isn't Kerry's latest foreign policy line that he'll do basically the same things GWB will have to do in the next four years, only better?) but it makes you wonder about why they are skipping over eight years of foreign/defense policy that advocated 'stability' uber alles?

Until you think about 'successes' like a never ending war in the Balkans, ignoring genocide in Africa, allowing NK to expand their nuke program, bombing aspirin factories and empty terrorist training camps, bombings at the WTC, bombings at US military facilities and embassies, passing up a chance to nab Bin Laden...

Posted by: Chris B at June 11, 2004 8:23 AM

Not so fast. Symbols matter, as ideas have consequences. Having Hanoi John as president would sent a message of weakness and appeasement. As a nation, we need to keep going forward on the part we are on. To appear as Spain would be disasterous: we can do anything with bayonets except sit on them.

Posted by: Lou Gots at June 11, 2004 10:32 AM