What I Would Do Now: Foreign Policy Four

2006/10/30

Russia 

It bears repeating that we should have diplomatic contact with every country with which we have interests, and the “liking or disliking” a given country is juvenile and pointless. 


Russia in its dealings with other Western nations has been fairly consistent through Czarist, Soviet and present times. They have historically feared invasion, because they have been invaded so many times. Most recently by Germany, but prior to that, France, Turkey, Poland, Sweden and more, had a go at Russia, and lost. Soviet Military Doctrine had as received wisdom until 1988, that the West would attack them, they let go each opportunity to attack the West themselves. Finally they realized that NATO’s de facto mission was to keep Europeans from fighting each other, and that an alliance of over a dozen countries couldn’t actually organize a sneak attack. 

Generally the Russians have not started grandiose wars of conquest as have others: Ukraine and
Central Asia not withstanding. They have aggrandized territory, and bullied neighbors but cautiously without great risk. Their troops have gone home after their wars. They have in turn occupied Paris after defeating Napoleon and
Berlin after defeating Hitler, and have left. Though they stayed 40 years in Germany and took a chunk of East Prussia, they did leave without warfare, and they didn’t start the war that ended with their possession of
Berlin.
 

Speaking of Berlin, we should remember the Soviet/Russian state that conquered
Berlin in April 1945, had in March 1918 signed a humiliating peace treaty after abject defeat and collapse. The country went completely to pieces, with civil war, starvation, territorial transgressions by foreign army’s (ours included), and yet, 27 years later not only defeated but destroyed the state that had most tormented it.
 

We’ve lost ten solid years when we should have treated
Russia with due dignity and respect, and built credibility. We should have shown our goodwill toward Russia by acknowledging in the midst of their terrible times in the 90’s, that our two countries could reach a useful understanding, with an eye toward
Russia strength over time, rather than a 1995 snapshot. We should have made it clear that we recognized that Russia, Ukraine, Belorussia and
Kazakhstan were in their bailiwick. Treating
Russia with greater respect while they were temporarily in difficulties would have served our interests in the long run, and would have been of great use right now.
 

What we can do now is to not oppose Russia’s internal reorganization and their dealings with Ukraine, Belorussia and
Kazakhstan. Let’s face it, should
Russia decide to reacquire any of these bordering states they view as integral, we won’t really go to war over it, so there is no point in interfering there. Sanctimonious moralizing is poor statecraft, so too is robbing them when they are only temporarily weak.
 

China can be usefully contained by a ring of nations: Russia in the north and west, India in the south, Japan, Taiwan and Korea in the east, and the
U.S. generally, as I began describing in previous essays.
There is a lengthy list of reasons why Russia and
America have more to gain than to lose by cooperation, our strengths are complementary.
 

Why o why do we have such an inept and venal government. When, I think of our government, its manifold failures and missed opportunities, I sometimes recall the book ‘March of Folly’ by Barbara Tuchman, especially the piece about the Catholic Church and its last six Popes prior to the Reformation. It took a series of unparalleled catastrophes before the church righted itself, never regaining all that had been lost, both tangible and intangible. And all that through an avoidable and willful disregard of their duty, and their own self interest.  

It is impossibility that
America can regain its post 1945 preeminence without another colossal victory. Our position after the war wasn’t so much elevated as the other great nations were laid low. Those glory days are gone. Let’s live in the real world. We likely will need a new government for that to happen.

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What I Would Do Now: Foreign Policy Three

2006/10/19

Central Asia, Indian Ocean

In an effort to eradicate a plague we helped release for short term gain and at our own long term cost, the northern third of the so called arc of instability needs to be addressed. We have to eschew the juvenile and parochial notions that we are the super power and must get our way and that dislike of a given government requires action on our part. We can work with any government as long as the other nation works from self interest and not spite.

India is a democracy, respects trade and property and has assets that combined with the U.S. are formidable. I do not care about the non-aligned movement and all the rest of the claptrap that has kept the U.S. and India from working together. Unlike most of its neighbors, India progresses, its neighbors are largely poorly governed, poor, and undesirable. However the arc of instability passes to the northwest of India and thru what was until 1947 considered Indian territory.

By way of background Bangladesh is an interesting example or model of how Indian intervention succeeded and a model we could have followed at various times. Bangladesh used to be East Pakistan, oppressed by co-religionists of different nationality from West Pakistan they were desirous of independence. In 1971 Pakistan and India came to blows. In a brilliant campaign the Indian Forces out-thought and out-maneuvered the Pakistani Forces, with aid from Bangladeshi insurgents. East Pakistan fell and the new country of Bangladesh arose.

Well there are other peoples oppressed in the same fashion, who could benefit form a similar resolution. The key was in the rapid military phase, conquest and withdrawal. The Indians turned over the country to its own people quickly. The two governments have normal relations with both success and tension. Yet, there is no hostility, no fruitless occupation and no lasting enmity. The same could be done for other nations.

There are many, many nationalities throughout the so called arc, and most are under the thumb of some other nationality. Policies to bring “stability” to any region that depend on the peaceful subordination of one nationality to another are pipe dreams. We have to break things down further where necessary. The various ethnic groups of Kashmir, Pakistan and Afghanistan need to be allowed independence. Truly people of these counties don’t see themselves as Pakistanis or Afghani’s but as Tajik, Hazara, Uzbek, Aimak, Turkmen, Punjabi, Sindhi, Pashtun (Pathan), Baloch and more! They should have their own countries, until they do there will no peace without extermination.

India and the U.S. have the power to wreck the oppressive states and free these ethnicities. We don’t have the power to administer, occupy or dictate to these nationalities. Occupying a country until it is ready for independence is a phony pretext to dominate it, and it never works anyway because of human nature. We can cut their shackles but then it is entirely up to them to succeed or fail. But with this exercise of power we eliminate intractable oppressive problematic states. Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, can be considered based upon actual prior success. We must reassert the Tom Doctrine that we will recognize any government that is indigenously generated.

But to enact policies like these that look to a goal, and are informed by evidence instead of ideology, we will surely need a new government.


What I would Do Now: Foreign Policy Two

2006/10/19

The Northeastern Asia and the Pacific North:

The irritating distraction that is North Korea can be addressed, but first we have to know what our own goals are. I’d suggest that our goals generally should be to bind the three nations that are Western friendly, elective in government and prosperous, to us thru alliance and trade. They are Japan, Taiwan, and South Korea.

We should do this for both positive and negative reasons. Individually these countries cannot stand up to China. In conjunction with the U.S. the four deploy enough strength to become for all practical purposes not worth attacking. The U.S. can lead all three, but none of the three can lead the other two. Without the U.S. they will be divided and politically neutralized in detail by China. This will help extend and defend the nations that are Western oriented elected governments. These are self generated democracies and worth defending. This is incidentally the way to expand democracy. One nation cannot crash into another and make them democratic, but should a nation do so itself, we can lend our power to prevent democracy from being overturned from outside.

Once we have a four nation alliance of strength, purpose and unity I would a) recognize Taiwan as a sovereign and independent nation, b) recognize North Korea, and sign a peace treaty & non-aggression pact. I would stipulate no conditions beyond those contained in the non-aggression pact. And then I would aim North Korea at the Chinese and Russians, advising the North Korean government that the U.S. would recognize North Korea’s right to sovereignty over areas controlled by China and Russia that are currently or historically populated by Koreans, something like 25% of Koreans worldwide live in China or Russia.

Subsequently, I would try to move this alliance toward a rationalized system of trading regimes and a fixed currency exchange mechanism to our mutual benefit, and as part of my policy to bind together like-minded nations with the U.S. as the leading member but not the hegemon. Isolation and hegemony fail over time consistently, and sometimes quite dramatically. An organic agglomeration of free, peaceful, and prosperous nations that combine mutual respect for internal sovereignty with coordinated external policy will be unassailable by conventional means. They will have to be vigilant to guard against internally generated, self destructive policies enacted out of fear or greed, or for short term gain..

The current set of buffoons who run things, may possibly be replaced by a new set of buffoons, yet the systemic problems remain. We really need a new government.


What I Would Do Now: Foreign Policy One

2006/10/17

Many have said to me, to others, on the media that it is easy to criticize but what are the alternatives. There is truth in that. So, here are my proposals. If I were the President here’s what I’d do starting today. 

The Mideast: 

  • I’d call the leaders of the Kurdish factions to the White House to tell them I’d recognize an independent and sovereign Kurdistan. I’d act as honest broker between the Kurds and Turks, pushing the Turks to recognize Kurdistan and the Kurds to recognize the current Turkish-Iraqi border as permanent.
  • I’d let the current governmental figures of Iraq know the foregoing and that U.S. troops will be gone in 90 days. I’d consult with Al-Sistani and others to discover whether they want one or two Iraq’s. I’d offer U.S. good offices to mediate either outcome. Should civil war and anarchy break out, the U.S. would be a free agent, no guarantees without a mediated peaceable outcome.
  • I’d tell the governments of Egypt and Israel that their subsidies are coming to an end. I’d offer to the Israeli’s to mediate a resolution of permanent borders, with guarantees. Israel will need to provide me with two things, neither of which is a parochial history lesson. 1) Israel will state explicitly and with a detailed map, what permanent borders they will find acceptable, I don’t care where. 2) Israel will state explicitly one of two things, a) either Arabs within those borders will have the same civil rights as any Israeli citizen or that b) Arabs must leave Israel. All I need is a map and two paragraphs. Anything else goes in the trash.
  • Should the Hashemite King Abdullah be amenable, we could explore the enlargement of the Hashemite Kingdom to an approximation of the promised borders of 1918. The enlarged Hashemite Kingdom would, more or less, consist of Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon and would be
    Israel’s western and northern neighbor. The kingdom would be large enough to absorb dispossessed Arabs from Israel and strong enough to secure its borders. The current crazy-quilt of phony country’s and porous borders prevent security and resettlement. The U.S. military has proven its ability to rapidly defeat any conventional force and a complete inability to achieve soft political goals like peace and order.
  • I’d leave U.S. bases in Qatar and Oman with the understanding from those governments to a long term deal and nearly unrestricted use.
  • The U.S. can’t and has no need to be the world’s policeman. Democracy and Western ways cannot be exported through violence. The military is designed to fight, not to overcome ridiculous and transient political notions.  We have demonstrated that our military can reach anywhere and win. We have also demonstrated the truism that self aware nations cannot be ruled by liberal democratic foreigners. And they don’t need to be ruled by us. The Arabs have oil and little else the world wants. They have to sell oil. Their form of government doesn’t matter one whit, just that it is indigenous. Oil production is hideously vulnerable to guerrilla warfare, oil production requires peace and order, the form is irrelevant, let them choose. We need our own government to act in the real rational world instead of  cloud cuckoo land; and that’s why we need a new government, not just new clowns at the helm. 

  • I’d have a contingency plan for a Saudi Arabian disintegration and civil war. Saudi Arabia is another phony baloney country. There are no Saudi’s, just Arabs. They are of different tribes and have no history of unity. Saudi Arabia was cobbled together in the 1930’s by a desert brigand named… Saud.
  • I’d recognize the government of Iran (and others) under the new Tom Doctrine: that is to recognize any indigenous government as legitimate. It does not matter whether I like them or not. It is not our job to sit in judgment of other peoples, it is our job to look out for our own interests; I assume others will do likewise. I do not have to accommodate their interests either but I will examine them. In any case one has to talk with the ones with which one has differences… how else can they do what I want, if I don’t tell them what it is? For example I reserve the right to prevent any oil export from the Mideast to undesirable destinations. This is simple recognition that the U.S. never will have the power to control the oil at the source in practical terms. But we do have the power to deny it to others.

Will, Military Power, and Good Government

2006/10/08

The obvious failure of the Iraq war has now led the government and Administration to denunciation and scape-goating of legitimate critics, and an irrational call to ultimate belief in victory thru ‘will.’ Crazy stuff, that. Reliance on ‘will’ is only useful when the task is hard and the road long, not when the task is pointless and impossible. Denouncing and scape-goating is a traditional, if contemptible, way of dealing with failure by those who would eschew responsibility and accountability. But it is true nevertheless? No, it’s not, and the reason is simple, human nature and history show us that in the modern world, self aware peoples, cannot be conquered; only exterminated. Therefore any effort to conquer, garrison and administer an outcome is bound to fail no matter what. Ignoring the truth of this is to live in a fantasy world, one that is a little weird and paranoid. To be clear I am arguing against making the effort, and am not arguing for extermination.  

The record is clear on this. In Algeria, Malaysia, Vietnam, Afghanistan,
Indonesia, et al. Once peoples had a global sense of the world, a nationalistic sense of themselves and advanced Western weaponry no longer seemed magical, the whole idea of Western Imperial Hegemony became outmoded.
 Therefore if this idea of ‘will’ has any cachet it has it only with regard to the ‘will’ of the people defending; suffering tends to harden ‘will’ as in a crucible. We also see people rally to the colors of governments/movements they otherwise would detest, to fight the foreigner, as in WW2 Yugoslavia, Vietnam and so on. We should be able to understand this, because we would defend our own country to the limit too, were the roles reversed. 

We Americans need only look to our own revolution to see how the application of a military solution to a political problem fails utterly. King George III, would have had better success by eschewing force, and personally touring the coastal Colonial cities, making some benevolent gestures here, scolding malefactors there, with some positive general reforms implemented. That was an arena in which he could well have won. But like our own George 43, he was a man remarkable for his limitations. When then is military force useful? What is it good for, you ask? A well led, well trained, well sized, well equipped force, with a useful doctrine should be able to keep ones country safe from predation and allow one to topple opposing governments, break up brittle polities, and deny foreign nations achievement of their own goals, deleterious to our own. What follows will always be dicey.  For example, though Saddam’s Iraq presented no threat whatsoever of a military nature, Iraq squats on a considerable quantity of oil and that has international implications. The farcical notion of Iraq possessing WMD’s in 2003, and democratization thru force notion used at various times to justify the war were propaganda for domestic consumption. We had and have the power to deny that oil to others, though not to secure it for ourselves. We could have invaded with honestly stated goals, to overthrow the Saddam regime and more clearly assert our oil interests. The way to have done that is to isolate Saddam’s regime, recognize Kurdish independence and sovereignty, invade the Iraq rump state while publicly promulgating a list of inner circle types who are to be proscribed. Then order Iraqi troops and government officials to stay at home or in barracks and that the new leadership of the country would be drawn from persons of position who comply with our directives and are not named proscribed. Then, leave. It is critical that the invader accomplish this transition and leave with alacrity (they might have even thrown flowers, as we left peaceably). The new government’s legitimacy will come in large part form getting foreign troops out. They will understand that they can just as easily be returned. Should Iraq minus Saddam and Kurdistan descend into civil war, which is beyond our ability to fight, we could merely keep third nations from invading and would have to work with the regime that emerges. However there was a chance a modified regime could have been the outcome. Democracy is only functional when organic and is not likely at this time. Civilian control of the military is a good thing. Civilian meddling and micromanagement of the military is a bad thing. A government, that is democratic, should have transparent processes and debates. Transparency is the best inhibitor of corruption and incompetence, which we have in all too great abundance. We need a new governmental structure, not just different fools at the helm.