Non-Bush approaches to the

October 28, 2003

Non-Bush approaches to the War on Terror.

Sebastian Holsclaw
asks for suggestions for a Democratic party policy towards the war on Terror. I got into the comment discussion there and wanted to copy my main points over here for my own reference. Off the top of my head, this is what I suggested.

The United States should shift from its current binary notion of terror=bad, non-terro= good to a policy based on human rights, the rule of law, and national self-interest. The current administration's approach forces us to either choose between ideological purity coupled with some foul policy partners or a more practical and humane set of allies and enemies at the cost of creating a clear division between national rhetoric and national policy. Opening up a gap between claimed ideals and practical actions is always a bad idea.

As it is I worry that the Bush administration has encouraged Iran and North Korea to speed up their nuclear weapons research, has forfeited our authority to comment on the civil war in Chechnya, and is otherwise pursuing a worldwide foreign policy based entirely on clever sound bites designed for domestic consumption.

Instead what would a foreign policy look like if we based it on:
1, human rights
2, rule of law
3, continue Bush's notion of extending the idea of active pursuit to include using military means to attack harbors and safe havens for international terrorists
4, do a better job with intelligence gathering.

In effect this would be a realist/liberal foreign policy approach. Off the top of my head this would lead to the following policy suggestions:

I, follow through in Iraq. this means 1, making sure we do not _look_ like an imperial power; 2, helping Iraq transition from a rule of cronyism to a rule of law; 3, quickly bringing Iraqis back into basic governance - police, military, etc.; 4, giving up some measure of control over this process to international agencies (even if they are less effective at 2 and 3) so as to avoid creating an imperial image.

II. Stop trying to fund foreign policy through unfunded debt. That was Johnson's mistake in Vietnam and it hurts to see Bush repeating most of Johnson's follies.

III, Resume the search for Bin Laden. If this means getting troops out of Iraq to do the work, then either increase the US military or turn over control in Iraq to other countries (but not Turkey - see I.1)

IV, Remember to do some basic cost-benefit analysis in anti-terrorism prevention. Don't spend billions to reduce a low-risk threat before spending millions to reduce a high-risk threat. Don't be afraid to educate rather than just scaring people.

V, Continue the process of encouraging democratic politics, free speech, and economic activity in the Middle East and the rest of the Third World. Do this not with sabre-rattling rhetoric or military intervention but with cultural tools such as Radio Free Iran (or whatever they call it), the paunch corps, and the outreach efforts made over the last couple of years by the American muslim community.

VI, Focus this cultural effort on the schwerpunkt (spelling) of the middle east - Egypt, Iran, and Saudi Arabia in that order. Any change that does not effect the most populous and richest nations is bound to be epiphenomenal. Wolfowitz et al are trying to reach these countries via the domino effect and contagious liberty. The Iraq strategy might work, but I would use the cultural press described in V instead.

VII, As part of the full court press, adjust American farm policy, American policy towards Kyoto-style environmental talks, and American influence over international lenders to improve the basic economies of the developing world, especially the muslim parts of the developing world.

VIII, Try to reduce tensions in Israel. I would suggest 1, supporting the Israeli protective fence; 2, insisting that the fence run along the minimal border enclosing the 1967 line plus the densely populated suburbs; 3, insisting that Israel repudiate and abandon the aggressive settlements on the West bank, including putting up the money to buy out relocate all West Bank settlers outside the protective fence; 4, pressing the Palestinian authority to move to greater democracy and open-ness; 5, extending economic aid to Palestine, through small business loans administered outside the Palestinian authority if need be; 6, insisting that both Israel and Palestine commit themselves to full adherance to human rights and the rule of law, preventing Israel from continuing on their current path toward apartheid.

And so to do the dishes.

Posted by Red Ted at October 28, 2003 08:34 AM | TrackBack