Sunday, November 21, 2004

The Australian: Different dynamic for Bush doctrine [November 22, 2004]

The Australian: Different dynamic for Bush doctrine [November 22, 2004]: "
Different dynamic for Bush doctrine
Ian Bremmer
November 22, 2004
THE world closely watched the US presidential election to see what the outcome might mean for the next four years of American foreign policy. Much has been written about how a win for George W. Bush would simply produce more of what some call the Bush doctrine.

But the second Bush administration will produce a foreign policy based on a substantively different set of premises and policy options than those we have seen over the past four years.

The first Bush administration created a foreign policy born out of the clash between two sets of policymakers – the neoconservatives and the multilteralists. Neither group can claim a greater influence. If the neoconservatives have held sway over the US's policies on Israel/Palestine, the so-called "New Europe" and, most notably, Iraq, the multilateralists have clearly been more influential in regard to China/Taiwan, India/Pakistan and North Korea.

The neoconservatives, such as Deputy Secretary of Defence Paul Wolfowitz, have sought at every turn to maximise Washington's freedom to act alone internationally, refusing to accept any constraints imposed by enemies, allies and international institutions.

That is why some within the administration were reluctant to accept NATO's assistance in Afghanistan right after September 11, and why the Bush administration kept the United Nations at arm's length even after the war in Iraq was announced over. Neoconservatives feared multinational alliances would produce more diplomatic obstacles than they would provide military assistance.

Multilateralists, such as outgoing Secretary of State Colin Powell, have argued that winning the war on terror requires the endorsement of international institutions and the construction of coalitions of the willing to co-ordinate an effective global response to a transnational terrorist challenge.

Multilateralists have insisted that a post-war equilibrium in Afghanistan or Iraq would not last without a commitment from others to do the peacekeeping and civilian reconstruction work Washington was not willing to do.

The neoconservatives insist that American power must be used to transform a dangerous international landscape before dangers abroad become disasters at home.

The logical opposite of isolationists, they argue it is essential to America's security that the US goes out into the world to look for threats and to destroy them wherever they're found.

Multilateralists say the war on terror can't be won by military means alone, and the co-ordination of international law enforcement and counter-terrorist intelligence and the effective use of public diplomacy depend on support from the international community.

They argue that, while the world benefits from effective US prosecution of the war on terror, the record of the past four years shows that this does not mean American foreign policy can expect the international support it needs.

That's why when neoconservatives insisted the Bush administration should not seek a UN resolution authorising force against Saddam Hussein, multilateralists argued just the opposite.

The neoconservatives urge Mr Bush to push rogue regimes from power at a moment in world history when no one is strong enough to push back. America's leverage won't last forever, they say. Use it while it's there.

Multilateralists fear an aggressive, go-it-alone American foreign policy so antagonises foreign populations that it becomes politically costly for foreign leaders to offer Washington much-needed support.

With Bush's re-election, both neoconservatives and multilateralists are now likely to find themselves with significantly less influence.

Both groups have seen their policies discredited, and neither group represents traditional Republican ideas about foreign policy.

After all, many of the neoconservatives began their political lives as Democrats, revolutionaries intent on changing the world order. By no definition are neoconservatives truly conservative.

Multilateralism, too, is rarely thought of as a Republican approach. Republican conservatives have traditionally argued that foreign wars are best left to foreigners, that alliances and entanglements leave America less free.

With Bush's re-election, we are likely to see a return of traditional Republicans, of foreign policymakers more in harmony with conventional Republican ideas about America's role in the world.

Traditional Republican foreign policy concerns itself with the defence of American power and interests, and views the promotion of democracy abroad as an often prohibitively expensive luxury.

With Bush's re-election, we are likely to hear more about regime change in North Korea, Iran and even Saudi Arabia, but are unlikely to see one. It means the US will pull as many troops as possible from Iraq at the earliest reasonable date following Iraqi elections.

It also means the US will continue to play the role of world policeman, but without the ideological context of a world order to give the role strategic coherence.

Ian Bremmer is a senior fellow at the World Policy Institute. (C) 2004 Tribune Media Services Inc."


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