2002 November 13 Wednesday
Melana Zyla Vickers On Clintonite Dominance Lite

Former Clinton Administration foreign policy officials are arguing that the US has too much power and it should restrain itself and only do what international institutions say it is allowed to do. That the Clinton Admnistration bypassed the UN on numerous occasions apparently was okay because the Clintonistas were liberal progressive Democrats and hence by definition (at least in their minds) were possessed of wisdom and enlightenment.

Now Charles Kupchan, another former official of the Clinton National Security Council has written a book about how the US is going to cease to be a dominant power (which is true - but there is this big question of timing). Kupchan sounds quite eager for that day to arrive:

Charles Kupchan, author of the book "The End of the American Era: U.S. Foreign Policy and the Geopolitics of the Twenty-first Century," agreed with Lind that Bush's foreign policy seems to be driven by a core group of conservative thinkers in the administration with exactly those such ideals.

"What we are seeing is a world out of balance, with a small group of people in the Bush administration (who have), in my mind, too much power," Kupchan said at the forum.

Writing on Tech Central Station Melana Zyla Vickers takes on the former Clintonites in an essay where she labels their approach Dominance Lite

These critics tried dominance-lite and failed. In the 1990s, Binnendijk, Kupchan and their NSC pals led by Sandy Berger gave dominance-lite a whirl. Their diplomacy was unbacked by credible threats of force. More importantly they employed militarily "proportionate responses" to various international outrages. This prompted greater violence and global danger, not greater diplomacy.

To name a few failed proportionate responses: the missiles flung after the Iraqi assassination attempt on President Bush in 1993, the missiles flung after the Al Qaeda bombings of U.S. embassies in Africa, the complete inaction after the U.S.S. Cole bombing, the missiles and airstrikes that followed Saddam Hussein's ejection of weapons inspectors in 1998, and the carrots-only package of incentives to North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons program, which was met with bald disregard.

I find the Clintonites shameless and audacious. They made huge mistakes in foreign policy. Their policies toward North Korea, Al Qaeda, and other threats has been shown by subsequent events to be hopelessly naive. Yet they are still out their flogging their discredited approach to foriegn policy. Are they unaware that they made fools of themselves? Are they just oblivious to the empirical evidence?

These people are all about process. Never mind whether the process achieves the desired outcome. They resist the very idea of declaring which outcomes would demonstrate a failure of policy because to the liberal foreign policy establishment (which itself is a small club since only domestic policy is important to them) o many liberals when it comes to foreign policy the process that they advocate is, for some reason, sacred. They believe that the world can only be made a safe and peaceful place thru international organizations and treaties and so they are just going to keep flogging that horse even if the horse is lying on the ground near death or running for a cliff.

Update: Henry Sokolski, author of Best of Intentions: America's Campaign Against Strategic Weapons Proliferation, has an essay in the Weekly Standard that reviews some of the history of US dealing with North Korea over North Korea's nuclear weapons program:

As generous as the deal was, Pyongyang went to work to dishonor it as soon as the ink was dry. In fact, within 24 months of its signing in October of 1994, U.S. intelligence judged that North Korea had already built two nuclear weapons. This meant that contrary to the deal's terms, which required North Korea to "consistently take steps to implement" its 1992 pledge not to possess nuclear weapons, the intelligence community believed that Pyongyang was secretly hoarding them. Clinton administration officials knew this. They decided, however, to dispute the intelligence finding and instead had Madeleine Albright announce that the deal had "eliminated" the Korean nuclear threat.

Late in 1997 and 1998, though, additional intelligence emerged that Pyongyang was testing high-explosive implosion devices for nuclear weapons and was working at several potential covert nuclear weapons sites. The Clinton administration, heckled into action by Congress and news leaks, again slow-rolled the matter. After more than a year of "tough" consultations with North Korea (and a promise of an additional half million tons of food aid), Clinton at last sent U.S. experts to visit just one of the suspect sites. In the interim, newspapers reported that U.S. satellites photographed North Koreans removing equipment from the site. When finally inspected--surprise--the site was empty.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2002 November 13 05:38 PM  US Foreign Preemption, Deterrence, Containment


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