January 22, 2005

More on the Inaugural

More on the speech here.

A day after President Bush's inaugural speech vowing to spread freedom in the world, administration officials said Friday that Mr. Bush was setting a long-term goal that did not portend dramatic changes in American foreign policy but rather an expansion of existing approaches. A senior official said that the speech signaled Mr. Bush's intention to raise the need to expand freedoms in Russia, China and the Arab world but that this did not mean that such pressure would become the only factor in these relationships.

"It's not a discontinuity, a right turn, but an acceleration, a raising of the priority," the official said of the new policy direction, discussing the speech with reporters on Friday. The official insisted on anonymity in order, he said, to keep the focus on Mr. Bush's words and not those of his aides.

The official also said that American officials would not necessarily raise principles of freedom and democracy with foreign leaders in a public way because doing so might sometimes be counterproductive.

"Do you want us to be rhetorical or to be effective?" the official asked, asserting that senior administration officials had, for example, raised concerns about anti-democratic trends in Russia [ed. note: And Uzbekistan too, for example] long before these concerns were mentioned publicly by Secretary of State Colin L. Powell on a trip to Moscow last winter...

...The administration official said that while the speech was aimed at being bold - he used the word "bold" several times to describe it - the president's address did not imply that the United States would impose its views on other countries or overlook their particular social and political problems.

"One of the purposes of the president's speech was to get countries to do some self-examination and see where they are on accepting a vision of freedom and greater liberty for their people and to prod them a little bit," said the official.

I think that's about right. Hyper-feverish, neo-Wilsonian messianism is not nigh. Reminder: My take on the speech, from yesterday, here.

P.S. On the Euro-rapprochment meme, don't miss this either:

A rapprochement with Germany comes naturally to Ms. Rice and her selected deputy, Robert B. Zoellick, both of whom were involved in the country's unification in 1990, an example of transformational diplomacy that left a lasting impression on the incoming secretary of state. The likely No. 3 at the State Department, R. Nicholas Burns, who is now ambassador to NATO, is also a committed Atlanticist.

"We see old European hands coagulating at the top of the State Department," said Jonathan Eyal, a British foreign policy expert. "We see a secretary of state with the ear of the president, we see the president coming to Brussels and deferring for now to European diplomatic efforts in Iran, and we see a quest for quiet mediation in the Airbus-Boeing dispute. All of that seems to amount to an opportunity we must grab."

UPDATE: More support for B.D.'s thesis here.

Bush's speech appeared to put the United States on a course in which moralism and idealism, rather than realpolitik, form the philosophical foundations of foreign policy. But White House officials said that is a misreading of how Bush operates. "His goals are deeply idealistic," Gerson said. "His methods are deeply realistic. In fact, that was one of the themes of the speech, that this traditional divide between realism and idealism is no longer adequate for the conduct of American foreign policy."

Be sure not to miss this interesting snippet from the WaPo piece:

One meeting, arranged by Peter Wehner, director of the White House Office of Strategic Initiatives, included military historian Victor Davis Hanson, columnist Charles Krauthammer and Yale professor John Lewis Gaddis, according to one Republican close to the White House. White House senior adviser Karl Rove attended, according to one source, but mostly listened to what became a lively exchange over U.S. policy and the fight for liberty.

Gaddis caught the attention of White House officials with an article in the latest edition of Foreign Affairs magazine that seems to belie the popular perception that this White House does not consult its critics.

Gaddis's article is, at times, strongly critical of Bush's first-term foreign policy calculations, especially what he calls the twin failures to anticipate international resistance to Bush's ideas and Iraqi resistance to peace after the fall of Baghdad. But the article also raises the possibility that Bush's grand vision of spreading democracy could prove successful, and perhaps historic, if the right choices are made in the years ahead.

So, who says Bush can never listen to critics!?! I had blogged Gaddis' piece here, btw.

Posted by Gregory at January 22, 2005 02:46 AM

No one has been able to convince me yet that Colin Powell is the source of the estrangement between the US and "old Europe." Or that his replacement should be seen as any sign of progress at reconciliation. It's not as if Europeans lacked respect for Powell, or as if he didn't know where Europe was, or what had gone on there in the late 80s.

In sum, I don't see it as having been about the personalities at State, and don't see why changing the personalities is going to make any difference.

In fact, I think European leaders respected Powell for his independence. And his record of accomplishment prior to joining this Administration.

Efforts have been made at reconciliation constantly over the last 18 months, and they are quite similar to Bush's attempts at bipartisanship: he's more than willing to get along with you so long as you agree with him. Respect for opposing points of view (especially with respect to legal questions), and compromise to meet legitimate needs are just not the guy's strong suits. (Nor are they attributes his core constituency particularly cares for). Instead, the Admin trumpets its "moral clarity," branding as immoral, either implicitly or explicitly, anyone who does not share their view on what should be done.

Dr. Rice's public persona these last few years has played to this much more strongly than Powells -- certainly one would expect this of anyone in the WH, but it has seemed to me that it's a comfortable position for her to be in. One can't know how she'll do in the new role, but I, for one, didn't think her Senate testimony gave any reason at all to hope for anything better.

OT: Commenting to a prior thread, I compared some of the noise made re: the ongoing conflict in Iraq to rooting for a football game -- meaning a sort of mindless insistence on 'winning' when reality is always going to be much more nuanced than that. As I think about it, football fandom is a bad analogy. I mean no one thinks I'm a traitor to the Redskins for suggesting that Joe Gibbs made the wrong quarterback call. The most diehard fans are often the harshest critics. I wish more conservatives would accept as the default that most liberal criticism of American policy is meant in exactly this spirit. It may not be as fun as calling people traitors, though . . . Actually, not OT, because a considerable part of European criticism is also of this kind. A great many of the Europeans who are mad at us are not mad because they hate freedom, or because they are cowards, or because companies in their countires were making money from the Oil-for-Food program. They're mad because we've disappointed them by our smug lawlessness. They want to believe in the America of MLK's dream. And it's not that we're not perfect, it's when we wear our imperfection as a badge of honor . . .

Posted by: CharleyCarp at January 22, 2005 05:24 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Charley, sorry but I find that it's the Left and Europe that resorts to accusing anyone who disagrees with them of being evil far more often. Cries that "it's all about Oil!" (especially from European nations which had, say, oil interests in Iraq with Saddam) ARE accusations that someone is being evil or a traitor.
I don't think that this Administration has called any country evil for not supporting the action in Iraq. I think that the Administration has reacted angrily to countries who called us evil for doing it, though. Similarly, the complaints about bipartisanship and multilateralism are as old as the hills. The Democrats have frequently called "bipartisan" bills with one or two Republican sponsors, and the reverse as extreme. When some European countries and the US disagrees, the US is called "unilateral," even when we have allies throughout the world and in Europe who agree with us.

Posted by: John Thacker at January 22, 2005 04:19 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink


Did I use the word evil? Can you cite for me any spokeman of any developed country using the word evil to describe US policy in Iraq?

Saying that it was all about oil is not claiming that the US government is engaging in treason. Nor is that a claim of evil, unless "evil" means "something I'd don't like" or "an insufficient reason to cause the deaths of thousands." I suppose you can find protesters saying that it was all about oil, and I suppose you can find people who think that the oil has nothing whatsoever to do with it. Can you show me a statement by the French or German government to the effect that they think it's all about the oil? Or the Canadian government? Mexican?

Complaints about phony bipartisanship may be old, but anyone who's been in DC for more than 15 years can tell you that relations between opponents on the Hill are qualitatively different now than, say, 10 years ago.

The Europeans didn't call the US "unilateral" just because they disagreed with the policy. They used that word because (a) the US said to the UN 'if you don't do it, we will;' (b) the US acted as if Res 1441 gave it a legal right to use force; and (c) senior US policy makers openly debated whether they should work through any of the international frameworks. This is unilateralism, even if there were allies. Many US policymakers were proud to embrace the unilateralist label in the Spring of 2003.

Even if I agreed with you about the historical facts, John, I'd still have to say that two wrongs don't make a right, and that if we want our policy to succeed, we have to figure out a way to get people who broadly agree with our values, even if not always with our actions, to help out with those actions. This is what Dr. Rice is talking about when she's promising to engage in public diplomacy. If all she's going to do is go to Europe and say (a) you started it and/or (b) you're just as bad as we are (or worse), well, that's not exactly going to convince anyone to do anything. And we're the ones trying to get them on board with us, so it is incumbent upon us to be conciliatory.

My point is that she, the President, and a substantial number of the President's supporters come at the whole thing from a viewpoint similar to yours. And I don't see any hope that people with that view, sincerely held as it is, are going to get people like me (or those less tolerant of conservative hyperbole) to support actions "you" want. Not least because it often seems that you (plural -- including the President) are not interested in approaching me (by which I mean those who agree with me) with anything but threats, insults, and/or excuses.

Posted by: CharleyCarp at January 22, 2005 05:19 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

CharleyCarp: [Europeans are] mad because we've disappointed them by our smug lawlessness.

Is it smug lawlessness? First, the U.N. was given the opportunity to deal with Iraq's ongoing obstruction of Blix's investigation and the litany of other violations. It did not.

Second. Saddam had every opportunity to choose to life under the umbrella of civilization. He chose not to. When you choose to live outside civil constructs and live by only the laws of nature, any reply is allowed. Credit the coalition with a measured response. Even the abuses of Abu Graib are wending their way to redress. While any reply is allowed, Bush has constrained our response.

If your conjecture is, in fact, Europe's opinion, then they ought to rethink how they are going to encourage all of us to never have to resort to a coalition response again. For instance, as a good start, they could support a functional and effective U.N. After all, we agree this sort of intervention is distasteful. But no intervention is more distasteful.

Posted by: sbw at January 22, 2005 09:31 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink


If you don't see either smugness or lawlessness, nothing I can say will make you see it. Take my word for it: a whole lot of people see it.

The US does not "give" the UN opportunities. It's a constituent. At least that's how a non-unilateralist would see the matter. But go back to February 2003, and you don't see Iraq preventing the success of the new 1441 inspections, it was the US that told the UN to get out so it could attack. Blix, Europe, Canada, Mexico were all trying to let the inspections regime continue a little longer. We said no.

The notion that any reply is allowed to people who choose to live outside civil constructs is basically a definition of lawlessness. My neighbor makes too much noise late at night. Week after week, the cops are called, tell them to quiet down, and they only do so while the inspector is there. So what, I can shoot them down in the street next time I see them? No. The US has signed a treaty -- which under our Constitution is the law of the land -- in which we agreed to to use force except when authorized or in self-defense. We gave away the right to do what you think we can do -- and when we take back what we gave away, people think that maybe there's some lawlessness going on.

I agree that convicting Graner is a good start, and hope everyone involved gets theirs. I hope people who abused detainees at Guantanamo get theirs, as well as the people who were moving ghost detainees around Abu Ghraib to avoid Red Cross inspections, and the people who are currently holding ghost detainees -- and subjecting them to conduct we would call torture if directed against us -- are held accountable as well.

What we Americans really have to watch out for is Dred Scott thinking: "these people have no rights that we are bound to respect." Because although you might not be such a person, as you know, there are many here among us.

Finally supporting "a functional and effective UN." So far as affirmative conduct is concerned, the UN is and has always been at most an American tool. It is only effective when we weild it (although not always so) and never effective in any other case. For the life of me, I can't see why we would want it to be effective independent of our control.

Posted by: CharleyCarp at January 22, 2005 11:05 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

let the inspections regime continue a little longer

Q: How many inspectors did it take to see that Saddam was not fully cooperating with Resolution 1441? A: One.

Q: How much more time was needed? A: None.

They did not have to find WMD, they had to find that Saddam was not fully cooperating, which Blix admitted was the case.

My preference is for the U.S. to work with the U.N. framework. For that to happen, the U.N. framework has to work. Perhaps Kofi Annan's recent statements indicate that business is no longer as usual.

I disagree that the U.N. has been, as you suggest, an American tool. You certainly can't see that from the record.

You should also be willing to consider that people who work outside the framework of peaceful problem resolution forsake the benefits of that framework. That we continue to extend benefits to them is our prerogative, not our duty. When one chooses to live solely by the law of nature rather than the constructs of man, no one is obliged to treat you otherwise.

Posted by: sbw at January 23, 2005 03:06 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

If I can post on-topic for a moment...I wonder that no one seems to have considered the possibility that Bush's Inaugural Speech came out the way it did because he wanted an Inaugural Speech to strike a certain tone -- confident, optimistic, visionary. Think of it as a post-election campaign speech.

My guess is that the connections between rhetoric and policy that will have to be made mostly haven't been yet. Administration spokespeople haven't been able to say what Bush's statement means for our relations with Saudi Arabia, or Pakistan or China because no one knows. Maybe a lot. Maybe nothing.

This is something that people who haven't worked in government sometimes don't understand. Public statements seem voluntary, but often they are only partially so. Newly elected Presidents have to give an Inaugural address. By tradition -- and because of the weather -- this one couldn't be as long or detailed as a typical State of the Union speech that goes on for an hour or more. But an Inaugural speech that sounds prefunctory in any way would generate bad press, and one that dwelt specifically on the issues of the day would be at risk of getting overtaken by events up until the moment it was delivered. So variations on a broad theme were decided on.

I'm not saying this was good or bad, only that it is likely that the speech came out the way it did mostly because of the requirements of the occasion. Lots of policies get started that way; it's just not easy to ascertain what they will be immediately after the speech is given.

Posted by: Zathras at January 23, 2005 04:47 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink


I don't disagree with you about the inspections regime, if the point of the inspectors was to find out whether there was some excuse to attack Iraq. If the purpose was to find out whether Iraq had WMD, then additional time would have been justified. Lots of people, including countries who had voted for 1441, thought that the more important question was the latter. In the run up to the failed second resolution, the US found that it could not even get a SC majority (with or without France) for its interpretation. We couldn't get Mexico to vote with us. Because they, and much of the rest of the world, thought it actually mattered more whether Iraq in fact had WMD than whether Iraq was or was not playing cute with the President of the United States.

I get that you don't think it mattered what the actual WMD state was. I presume that you get that plenty of people think it did matter. If the US wants people to support its activities in Iraq, and in other places in the future, it's going to have to act like it gets the fact that plenty of people of good will can have disagreements about issues like this.

That's Dr. Rice's new job, and I'll say, again, if she's going to approach it as you do, she'll have a very rough road. (My point is that I think she will -- because she agrees with you, and not with me, about [for example] what 1441 was about.)

Posted by: CharleyCarp at January 23, 2005 06:09 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

CharleyCarp - with regard to nations that didn't want US-coalition intervention in Iraq - the fact that they didn't want it doesn't mean that they are, themselves, followers of the UN's ' the nation-state is an isolate sovereign' concept. The idea that the nation state is internally sovereign and can only go to war in self-defense, is a clause that ignores human rights abuses within the state. It is indeed an article in the UN charter - and one that is completely out of date, permitting massive genocides and human rights abuses.
Further- you are ignoring that other states, for example, regularly go in, unilaterally and without UN approval - and without the uproar that this US-Coalition act achieved. France, for example, has moved into its ex-colonies, which it retains rigid controls over, at least two dozen times in the past 20 years. No one has said a word.

Canada has a minority government with strong links to France (despite 80% of the population being anglophone), and made its decision to be 'against the war' because of its links to France. Additionally, Canada ideologically defines itself, in a 1960's socialist ideological mode, as 'not-American'. Canada didn't follow the UN's eternal -'do nothing and hope it will go away' tactic in Bosnia, but, when the US gave up on the UN and went in with NATO, Canada went along.

The UN an American tool??? No- consider it a tool of France. Most certainly not American! The UN has become a corrupt hapless overpaid bureaucratic deadend. I don't even know if it can be reformed.

Posted by: ET at January 23, 2005 07:03 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Charleycarp, at the risk of disabusing you of your conjecture, consider these excerpts from U.N. Resolution 1441 [My emphasis added]:

"4. Decides that false statements or omissions in the declarations submitted by Iraq pursuant to this resolution and failure by Iraq at any time to comply with, and cooperate fully in the implementation of, this resolution shall constitute a further material breach of Iraq's obligations and will be reported to the Council for assessment in accordance with paragraphs 11 and or 12 below;"

"11. Directs the Executive Chairman of UNMOVIC and the Director General of the IAEA to report immediately to the Council any interference by Iraq with inspection activities, as well as any failure by Iraq to comply with its disarmament obligations, including its obligations regarding inspections under this resolution;"

"12. Decides to convene immediately upon receipt of a report in accordance with paragraphs 4 or 11 above, in order to consider the situation and the need for full compliance with all of the relevant Council resolutions in order to secure international peace and security;"

CharleyCarp, you can interpret the number 3 to be a 2 but that does not make it a 2.

BTW, and back to the Bush putting substance behind his inaugural words, see: the Ukrainian perspective, courtesy of Instapundit.

Posted by: sbw at January 23, 2005 08:23 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink


You forgot to cite the part of 1441 where it says authorizes military action.

The part you did quote says that if Iraq fails to comply with the reporting requirements, that failure should be reported to the SC, and that the SC will then think about what to do. There was no majority -- even without thinking of a veto -- for 'attack immediately. Had 'continue inspections for 6 months' been presented without the assurance of a US veto, it would have passed. I'm not saying that you, Dr. Rice, or anyone else has to see this as having been the better choice. You should understand that there are people who think it would have been a better choice, though. Such people can understandably feel that the US's unwillingness to pursue the option that a clear majority favored, and instead to pursue a policy for which no majority could be cobbled, was 'unilateral' or 'lawless.'


I don't see any evidence at all for the proposition that connections with France pay any significant role in Canadian decision-making with regard to the US. I'd be interested if you can find a single Canadian who would agree with that.

I also can't think of a single time the SC has done anything constructive at the instance of France, without active US support. Or at the instance of anyone else. This is what I meant -- it is only a useful tool when we are using it (or someone else is using it with our sanction).

I see that you find the restraints on state on state aggression in the UN Charter to be quaint. Maybe the US should pass a law rescinding its agreement to those limits. We all know that the drug laws in the US are violated every day. Many find them either quaint, counterproductive, or both. Be that as it may, if one of the Bush girls is stopped with a baggie of reefer, she'll be free to argue both quaintness and counterproductivity. End result, though, is that there would be plenty of people who would consider her conduct lawless.

Posted by: CharleyCarp at January 23, 2005 11:44 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

that failure should be reported to the SC, and that the SC will then think about what to do.

The failure was reported back. The Security Council did spit. Wonder why? Let's all sit back and watch "Oil for Food" unfold. When the U.N. proved impotent, the coalition responded. Deal with it. You know, a functional U.N. would be quite something. Imagine a world where villainy was addressed. Or, in your world of relativism, is the only villainy actually dealing with it.

Posted by: sbw at January 24, 2005 02:38 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink


My congressman is a member of the minority. Suppose he suggests that taxes on the upper 2% of incomes be increased to deal with the deficit. Suppose his bill doesn't get out of committee. Does this mean he, or maybe I, can just start robbing rich people's houses (and send the money to the Treasury)? Imagine a government that tried to live within its means.

Greg's post suggests that Dr. Rice is going to make progress with European reconciliation -- because of the people she's hiring, and because (as Greg knows) she says she wants to do so. I said I don't think she has it in her, not least because her boss's constituents don't have it in them. Your comments prove my point.

Europeans don't have to 'deal with it' when Dr. Rice comes a-courting. They can sit quietly on the sidelines, and let the US 'deal with it.' That's where we are now, and where we will remain.

Or in your world, can you insult people into being your friend?

PS I know why the SC didn't pass a resolution in the Spring of 2003 extending inspections to find out the answer to the important question whether there were in fact WMDs: the US would have vetoed it. The UN is, by design, impotent to defy the wishes of the US.

Posted by: CharleyCarp at January 24, 2005 05:48 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

CharleyCarp, I suggest you read More on the Inaugural Speech to re-establish a firm basis for discussion.

Meanwhile, thanks for providing me with some substance for my upcoming blog entry on the Neo-Liberal, or "Neol".

A characteristic of the Neol is that so long as they can grasp one fact, others are unnecessary and, as it happens, irrelevant. One fact is a sufficient to form a platform from which to leap to a generalization. Generalizations, we all know, can be embraced with passion. And those who do not embrace the generalization with passion are uncivil, ignorant and deserve to be hated. Did I miss anything?

Posted by: sbw at January 24, 2005 01:07 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Dang. Neo-Lib has already been taken.

Posted by: sbw at January 24, 2005 01:11 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink


I'm sorry, but I have no idea what you are trying to say to me. I don't know why anyone would apply the term neo-liberal to me, don't understand why anyone would think that I prefer generalizations based on a single fact to a more nuanced view based on context, don't think I've said anyone deserves to be hated. I certainly don't expect people to agree with me, and don't think they are ignorant merely for failing to do so. I think anyone who calls me a traitor because I don't agree with him/her is uncivil and, in fact, IS ignorant. I don't think I mentioned any other incivility above. In sum, I think you might have missed everything.

Not that it matters -- conversations about me are boring: to me, you, and everyone who stumbles onto this sliver of text. Adios.

Posted by: CharleyCarp at January 25, 2005 04:20 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

CharleyCarp: conversations about me are boring

You, and people of the same persuasion, are the issue.

Left and Right views are "true" but artificial distinctions. The real tussle is between those who can think about thinking, and those who either can't or won't. Whether intended or not, Bush's Inaugural address reframed the discussion about Iraq to accentuate the distinction between the combatants as a war between those fighting for raw control and those fighting for a process of government.

Bush's address sweeps away the persiflage that has encumbered the issue since U.N. Resolution 1441 was first passed.

Well, it sweeps it away for those willing to consider what he said. If you look back at your litany of messages, you marshall all the arguments to avoid considering whether you want to throw your support behind those who just want control or those who want a functional process of government.

Yes. This is about you. This is about how you think about world issues. Bush's inaugural address dared you to look in the mirror.

Posted by: sbw at January 26, 2005 03:44 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink
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