Some Links On Foreign Policy & Ukraine

Walter Russell Mead notes Les Gelb getting publicly uncomfortable with our current foreign policy:

‘Gelb points out that Obama’s inclination towards diplomatic negotiation without the threat of military follow-through could encourage potential aggressors to act without fear of retribution.’

Anne Marie Slaughter advocates for caution:

‘For some frustrated with the complexity of the post-Cold War world, redividing the globe along an East-West axis would be comforting. Yet doing so serves military and defense interests all too well, as George Kennan understood as he watched his original doctrine of containment become an entrenched enmity licensing military adventures in the name of anti-communism’

Yet, as Claudia Rosett points out, putting all of our energies into international institutions and law…is… well…:

‘The UN body that should really be objecting to Russia’s seizure of Ukraine is the UN Security Council. But with Russia holding one of the Permanent Five veto-wielding seats, the Security Council is even more impotent than usual. So Ukraine had to take its case to the General Assembly, where the resolutions can carry a certain heft as a reflection of general opinion, but have no binding force’

In advocating for peace, aiming U.S. energies towards peace talks and negotiations through international institutions actually leading to more peace? What about Libya, Egypt, and Syria?

As linked to before.

David Goldman wrote the following back in 2008, a few years after Ukraine’s Orange Revolutionjust as Georgia was flaring up, and when Putin stepped-in (to Georgia) to maximize his advantage:

‘The place to avert tragedy is in Ukraine. Russia will not permit Ukraine to drift to the West. Whether a country that never had an independent national existence prior to the collapse of communism should become the poster-child for national self-determination is a different question. The West has two choices: draw a line in the sand around Ukraine, or trade it to the Russians for something more important.

My proposal is simple: Russia’s help in containing nuclear proliferation and terrorism in the Middle East is of infinitely greater import to the West than the dubious self-determination of Ukraine. The West should do its best to pretend that the “Orange” revolution of 2004 and 2005 never happened, and secure Russia’s assistance in the Iranian nuclear issue as well as energy security in return for an understanding of Russia’s existential requirements in the near abroad. Anyone who thinks this sounds cynical should spend a week in Kiev.’

Related On This Site:  Charlie Rose Episode On Libya Featuring Bernhard Henri-Levy, Les Gelb And OthersFrom The National Interest: ‘Inside The Mind Of George F. Kennan’

Nearly three years ago now: Eric Posner At The Volokh Conspiracy: The Bear Is Back!

Is Bernhard Henri-Levy actually influencing U.S. policy decisions..? From New York Magazine: ‘European Superhero Quashes Libyan Dictator’Bernhard Henri-Levy At The Daily Beast: ‘A Moral Tipping Point’Charlie Rose Episode On Libya Featuring Bernhard Henri-Levy, Les Gelb And Others

From New York Magazine: ‘European Superhero Quashes Libyan Dictator’

Full piece here.

This seems worthy of note, given the current American foreign policy regime:

‘And yet Libya—so far the most aggressive humanitarian intervention of the 21st century—depended not on any broad public movement nor any urgent security threat. There was instead a chain of private conversations: Hillary Clinton moving Barack Obama, Nicolas Sarkozy moving Dmitri Medvedev, and at the chain’s inception this romantic propagandist, Bernard-Henri Lévy. “I think this war was probably launched by two statesmen,” Lévy told me. “Hillary Clinton and Sarkozy. More modestly, me.”*


“No, no, no, no,” Lévy says. “My country, our country, for the first time since the American Revolution, has come to a foreign country to help a revolution, to help a war of liberation, and this is good, this is beautiful, this is noble …”


“Pascal Bruckner, another French philosopher and often an ally of Lévy’s, notes that this is Lévy’s natural mode. “Elections, discussions with the unions, economic problems—all these problems do not interest him,” he says. What Lévy has instead is “a will to turn politics into an epic, and to abandon everything that is prosaic.”

Well, I’ve heard the approach unaffectionately termed “neo-neo-colonialism.”  Is it working?

Is victory defined as freedom from the injustices of the tyrant?  Was this the “wise” course as opposed to the invasion of Iraq (which is flaring into sectarian violence after withdrawal)…by properly distancing ourselves and by respecting the will of  the Libyan people (or leaving them to their mess and alligning with Europe)?  Or is that just because some folks agree with the principles and the less violent outcome is a bonus?

Are the architects of any war responsible for those outcomes?


Here’s a Leo Strauss quote on Edmund Burke posted earlier.  It’s a strange place to find ourselves with a Frenchman (of the Left) potentially at the helm of our foreign policy:

“What ever might have to be said about the propriety of Burke’s usage, it is here sufficient to note that, in judging the political leaders whom he opposed in the two most important actions of his life, he [sic Burke] traced their lack of prudence less to passion than to the intrusion of the spirit of theory into the field of politics.”

Addition:  Of course, if he is actually at the helm of our foreign policy…

Related On This Site:…Bernhard Henri-Levy At The Daily Beast: ‘A Moral Tipping Point’Charlie Rose Episode On Libya Featuring Bernhard Henri-Levy, Les Gelb And OthersFrom The New Yorker: ‘How Qaddafi Lost Libya’

From Foreign Affairs: ‘The Problem With Obama’s Decision To Leave Iraq’Walter Russell Mead At The American Interest Online: ‘Obama’s War’

Yes, Edmund Burke opposed the French Revolution: Sunday Quotation: Edmund Burke On The French Revolution

From Foreign Affairs: ‘The Problem With Obama’s Decision To Leave Iraq’

Full post here.

‘The ostensible reason for America’s withdrawal is that the two sides could not agree on the legal terms for an ongoing U.S. military presence — specifically, whether American troops would be subject to local laws. Indeed, Obama was right to make immunity for U.S. troops a deal-breaker. Yet this impasse was probably surmountable.’

Possibly, but it would have been a lot of work, and Obama would have had to break his campaign promise.  He’s a politician, after all.  Iran looms large, however, and many, many problems remain.  Republicans haven’t been making a lot of good noise about foreign policy.

There’s this quoted statement from Obama’s speech on the White House Blog:

‘The United States is moving forward, from a position of strength. The long war in Iraq will come to an end by the end of this year. The transition in Afghanistan is moving forward, and our troops are finally coming home. As they do, fewer deployments and more time training will help keep our military the very best in the world. And as we welcome home our newest veterans, we’ll never stop working to give them and their families the care, the benefits, and the opportunities that they have earned.’

I give Obama credit for sticking to his plan, though it may have brokered away some other positions of strength.  It’s been a long road and a difficult position to inherit. Politically, he clearly needs to appeal to any center he can, the troops, and of course, try to expand his base which seems to be anyone expecting the government to be an intermediary in most aspects of American life (though perhaps necessary in the case of the VA and benefits to soldiers).  One of his best bumps occurred after taking out Bin Laden.

On this view, America would need to leverage the support of the people of the Middle East toward some shared ideals of freedom against the Al Assads, Gadhafis, and Mubaraks as well as other assorted nationalist autocrats of the region.  As for the ideals, in Western circles they are often humanitarian, human rights based, Left democratic including the Anne Marie Slaughter vision…and for Obama perhaps some liberation theology thrown in…out with Churchill, in with MLK).

Of course, in the Middle-East this may all mean something quite different.

Feel free to highlight my ignorance.

Related On This Site: David Ignatius At Foreign Policy: ‘What Happens When the Arab Spring Turns to Summer?’

Related On This Site: Walter Russell Mead At The American Interest Online: ‘Obama’s War’Walter Russell Mead At The American Interest: ‘French Secularism Dies In the Middle East’From The New Yorker: ‘Obama And Israel’…The Hamas Charter is pretty scary:  Repost: A Few Thoughts On The Current Israeli Military Operation Into Gaza: A Shift In U.S. Attitudes?

Add to Technorati Favorites

From Bloggingheads: Anne Marie Slaughter And Stephen Walt

Full discussion here.

What’s first for the Obama administration? 

1.  The Economy  2.  Iraq   3.  Afghanistan  4.  Iran  5.  Nuclear non-proliferation….?

A good discussion.  I suppose we all have are own interests to protect, but Slaughter’s green thinking might be pretty wishful (as much to do with Princeton politics as with global politics?).  Walt’s push for Obama using all of his (Obama’s) political capital on a two-state solution seems to be serving his own interests.

We have to be a little more clever, and better players on the global scene.  A friend pointed out there’s as much possbility for creating havens for the noble and ignoble in the Bush administration’s foreign policy (the Axis of Evil) as there is in anti-colonialism (Robert Mugabe).  Maybe, maybe not…but something to think about.

Add to Technorati Favorites