Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Kerry is Morgenthau Attaturk belongs to the "realist" school of foreign policy. Reader PJHawk tipped me off that Kerry had an OpEd in the Washington Post over the 4th of July weekend that I would likely agree with given what he knows of my foreign policy inclinations. When not commenting on goofy little pictures and talking about myself in the third person (I can multitask) Attaturk has an interest in foreign policy -- particularly superpower foreign policy. Hans Morgenthau was once seen as a "hawk" in foreign policy circles of the 1950's. Though Henry Kissinger and his book "Nuclear Weapons and Foreign Policy" may have seemed more a model for Dr. Strangelove, there is little doubt that up until Vietnam Morgethau was seen as a tough and militaristic Teutonic scholar, in large part because he seemed completely non-idealistic. But that pattern changed in the wake of Vietnam, which Morgenthau early on opposed. He did so because he believed it a waste and a misapplication of U.S. military power and foreign policy interests. He turned out to be exactly right. A short summation of Morgenthau's principles can be found here. But in even shorter summary they are: 1. Politics is governed by objective laws. 2. International Politics centers around the acquisition and maintenance of power. 3. "Power" is a dynamic item, not a static one. 4. While Morality is important in State exercises of power, it is necessary to use Morality within the prism of the proper exercise of power. 5. Morality for one nation is not universal morality, i.e. some states will have a different moral dynamic than others. 6. Therefore, the interest and actions of State must all be done within the dynamic of either obtaining OR preserving power. It is that last dynamic that matters most -- The United States is the top dog in the world, maintaining our power is key to maintaining our stability and security. Not engaging in overarching high-risk actions causing states to have interest counter to our own. Kerry's OpEd is all about that.
Our foreign policy has achieved greatness only when it has combined realism and idealism, our sense of practicality and our deep commitment to values such as freedom and democracy. Look back at NATO and the Marshall Plan, the enduring creations of the Truman administration.
Kerry is EXACTLY correct, not just a little, but exactly. The Bush Administration has been as unilateral in its application of international polictics as any Administration since the turn of the 19th into the 20th Century. Since the Treatry of Versailles, despite of the generation-long hiccup immediately afterwards, the United States has gone about working within the international community. In my opinion Bush has managed to combine in his first term, the illogic of Wilsonian Idealism with the pugnaciousness of Polk's Warmongering (Wilson and Polk certainly had Mexico in common). This faulty method of non-diplomacy has backfired badly -- something the Administration is now learning to their misfortune [and which they continue to lie about]. We may be the big dog in the world, but that is no reason to tweak countries that should be our allies. The world is safest throgh collective security and not making foolish moves to shake that security up. Despite 9/11 the United States has profited greatly from this alliance system, it remains our best hope to contain (not eliminate, that is impossible) terrorism.
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