Monday, January 14, 2008

Finding Our Way Back to Traditional American Foreign Policy from the Wilderness of Neo-Con Fairy Tales

Let's hope the trail back is marked with white stones and not bread crumbs.

Madeleine Albright might have been a negative backdrop on the stage of Hillary Clinton's Concession speech at the Iowa Caucus. Standing cheek and jowl (emphasis on the latter) with Bill Clinton, she did not suggest change so much as a cultural retrogression to the 1990's.

But appearances are misleading. Not as svelte as Condi Rice (by a few decades), Albright nevertheless cuts an iconic figure, delineating a positive alternative to the Neocon mutation in U.S. foreign policy and directing a path back to realism.

Secretary Albright points the way out of the forest with her
Ten rules for No. 44:

  1. You must honor our troops by always keeping their sacrifices in mind, limiting them to essential missions, equipping them to do their jobs, and bringing them home safely and as soon as circumstances permit.

  2. You must recognize that the American flag includes both red and blue and that bipartisanship is not a four letter word. Neither Democrats nor Republicans have a monopoly on wisdom.

  3. Bear in mind that our country is exceptional because of its resources, traditions and ideals, not because we carve out exceptions for ourselves to the rules we insist that others obey; torture is not a weapon with which to fight terror; on the contrary, it has been a humiliation to us and a gift to Al Qaeda.

  4. Understand that, to many overseas, America today is identified more with violence and arrogance than justice and liberty - more with Guantanamo than Omaha Beach. Your actions and words can change that, but you are not the only story-teller on the street (or Internet). This means that you will have to work hard to resurrect confidence in the American brand. Speak carefully; listen patiently; earn respect without assuming or demanding it; and do battle each day with the axis of evil: poverty, ignorance, and disease.

  5. Attack Al Qaeda at its weakest point. These terrorists are not warriors but murderers who kill the unarmed, children, and Muslims. They offer no vision for the future except the sword. They should not be accused of Islamic terrorism for their crimes are profoundly un-Islamic. As president, you should make reference frequently and with favor to the Judeo-Christian-Islamic tradition.

  6. Don't allow President Bush's mistakes to dissuade you from promoting democracy. Subtract the passion for liberty from America and we would not be America. Remember, though, that democracy must evolve; it cannot be imposed. It is forged through the blending of lofty ideals with street level experience, as people dare to entrust their rights to others while gaining confidence in the rule of law.

  7. Believe in the American people. We're not cowed by danger and we are far more willing to sacrifice than most politicians suspect, provided we're treated like adults and told the truth.

  8. Reward honesty, not flattery; the advisers you need most are those who will be unafraid to warn you when you are about to go astray.

  9. Learn from the past, but don't rely on historical clichés to dictate future actions. The world never stops in the same place twice. Not every enemy is Hitler and intelligent acts of diplomacy should not be confused with appeasement.

  10. Forget Mt. Rushmore; if you are to leave the White House with your head held high, you must be ever mindful of your own capacity for error and that the voters, not God, made you president.
In her prescriptions for No. 44, Secretary Albright does not approximate my wish to have the Busheney apostasy annulled. Elsewhere, I have called for the restoration of the pre-Bush Overton Window. But if Albright's 10-step recovery program is followed by a future Clinton-Obama or an Obama-Clinton administration, there can be hope and promise for a restoration of American traditions of realism, sanity and legitimate leadership of the free world.


Iraq: We Are In Occupation Mode

Permanently. . .
Not to be confused with pacification.