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

Charlie Rose Episode On Libya Featuring Bernhard Henri-Levy, Les Gelb And Others

Full video here. (52.52 min long, originally aired 04/04/11)

Bernhard Henri-Levy, Les Gelb, and others discuss the Libya intervention.  Henri-Levy defends the humanitarian approach (appealing to the ‘creeds’ of France, America and Britain).  The video gets interesting when Gelb gets involved at about minute 14:00, and wonders why the U.S. is stuck carrying most of the water, with so many downside risks (weak rebel forces, a still well-armed Gadhafi, a hypocritical and weak Arab league, high potential for deeper and deeper involvement).

Even if you are grateful for a change in U.S. foreign policy, and think like most people the humanitarian approach has worthy objectives (hammered from past atrocities and experiences on the ground in other countries, towards global governance) we are still using our political and military resources (people, maybe your friend or neighbor) and potentially subsuming our sovereignty to a framework for very questionable returns, and with so many risks.

Any thoughts and comments are welcome.  Here’s a quote from a previous post:

‘According to my observations (for which I claim nothing by that they are all I have to go by) inaction is better than wrong action or premature right action, and effective right action can only follow right thinking. “If a great change is to take place,” said Edmund Burke, in his last words on the French Revolution, “the minds of men will be fitted to it.”‘

Addition:  As a reader points out, if you make the Gadhafi/Saddam Hussein comparison, there is general agreement on how tyrannical, and dangerous, both leaders were/have been, but also general [sic] agreement that the injustices each visited upon their own citizens partially led to U.S. involvement:

How are the two most recent president’s definitions of freedom (Bush’s human freedom…Obama’s arc of history…) getting crafted into foreign policy?  Any president will have to deal with the bureaucratic and institutional structures in place.

Another Addition:  Perhaps it’s worth noting the backdrop of French colonialism, Northern Africa, and the French intellectual Left (Henri-Levy, Derrida, Camus to some extent). Henri-Levy is essentially asking for more Western involvement (including the use of military force) because presumably, the Arabs can’t do it for themselves (neo-neo colonialism?).  So, if Henri-Levy did get Sarkozy’s ear on this, and Obama waited on the French to form some semblance of political consensus for action…was it worth the wait?  What American interests are at stake?

Related On This Site:  Walter Russell Mead At The American Interest Online: ‘Obama’s War’From The WSJ: “Allies Rally To Stop Gadhafi”From March 27th, 2009 At WhiteHouse.Gov: Remarks By The President On A New Strategy For Afghanistan And PakistanFrom CSIS: ‘Turmoil In The Middle-East’From The New Yorker: ‘How Qaddafi Lost Libya’A Few Thoughts On Watching Operations In Libya