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KevinTheOmnivore KevinTheOmnivore is offline
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Old Dec 12th, 2005, 09:02 AM        An Imperial President
For you, Eye Tie.

I think this article points out one of the key distinctions we will need from future presidents if we wish to win the war on terror. You want to act on your own policy and expertise, and ultimately, you need to do what's in the best interest of the Americans who put you in office. I'll grant that. But if you can't at least pretend to be more diplomatic, and try to make it look like this war on terrorism is a multi-lateral job, then I think you're going to end up spinning your wheels in a lot of places.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/10416779/site/newsweek/

An Imperial Presidency

Bush's travel schedule seems to involve as little contact as possible with the country he is in.

By Fareed Zakaria
Newsweek


Dec. 19, 2005 issue - President Bush's most recent foreign trips, to Latin America and Asia, went off as expected. He was accompanied by 2,000 people, several airplanes, two helicopters and a tightly scripted schedule. He met few locals and saw little except palaces and conference rooms. When the program changed, it was to cut out dinners and meetings. Bush's travel schedule seems calculated to involve as little contact as possible with the country he is in. Perhaps the White House should look into the new teleconferencing technologies. If set up right, the president could soon conduct foreign policy without ever having to actually meet foreigners.

It's not that President Bush doesn't like foreigners. He does, some of them anyway. He admires Tony Blair, Junichiro Koizumi and Ariel Sharon, as well as a few others. But even with them—the "good men"—he doesn't really have a genuine give-and-take. Most conversations are brief, scripted and perfunctory. The president rarely talks to any foreign leader to get his opinions or assessment of events. Churchill lived in the White House for days while he and Franklin Roosevelt jointly planned allied strategy. Such collaboration with a foreign leader is unthinkable today. Insider accounts of Tony Blair's involvement with the Iraq war suggest that Blair was, at best, informed of policy before it took effect.

It is conventional wisdom that this lack of genuine communication with the world is a unique characteristic of George W. Bush. After all, Bill Clinton forged genuinely deep relations with his counterparts abroad. Though he traveled in equal grandeur, he showed much greater interest in the countries he visited. (In India he became a hero even though he had slapped sanctions on the country, an extraordinary case of personal diplomacy trumping policy.) George Bush Sr. had his famous Rolodex and dialed foreign leaders regularly to ask their views on things. Bush Jr. has set a new standard.

Bush's tendencies seem to reflect a broader trend. America has developed an imperial style of diplomacy. There is much communication with foreign leaders, but it's a one-way street. Most leaders who are consulted are simply informed of U.S. policy. Senior American officials live in their own bubbles, rarely having any genuine interaction with their overseas counterparts, let alone other foreigners. "When we meet with American officials, they talk and we listen—we rarely disagree or speak frankly because they simply can't take it in," explained one senior foreign official who requested anonymity for fear of angering his U.S. counterparts.

It is worth quoting at length from the recently published—and extremely well-written—memoirs of Chris Patten (who is ardently pro-American), recounting his experiences as Europe's commissioner for external affairs. "Even for a senior official dealing with the U.S. administration," he writes, "you are aware of your role as a tributary; however courteous your hosts you come as a subordinate bearing goodwill and hoping to depart with a blessing on your endeavours ... In the interests of the humble leadership to which President Bush rightly aspires, it would be useful for some of his aides to try to get into their own offices for a meeting with themselves some time!


"Attending any conference abroad," Patten continues, "American cabinet officers arrive with the sort of entourage that would have done Darius proud. Hotels are commandeered; cities brought to a halt; innocent bystanders are barged into corners by thick-necked men with bits of plastic hanging out of their ears. It is not a spectacle that wins hearts and minds."

Apart from the resentment that the imperial style produces, the aloof attitude means that American officials don't benefit from the experience and expertise of foreigners. The U.N. inspectors in Iraq were puzzled at how uninterested American officials were in talking to them—even though they had spent weeks combing through Iraq. Instead, U.S. officials, comfortably ensconced in Washington, gave them lectures on the evidence of weapons of mass destruction. "I thought they would be interested in our firsthand reports on what those supposedly dual-use factories looked like," one of then told me (again remaining anonymous for fear of angering the administration). "But no, they explained to me what those factories were being used for."

In handling postwar Iraq, senior American officials in Washington avoided any real conversations with U.N. officials who had been involved in Bosnia, Kosovo, East Timor, Mozambique and other such places.

To foreigners, American officials increasingly seem clueless about the world they are supposed to be running. "There are two sets of conversations, one with Americans in the room and one without," says Kishore Mahbubani, formerly a senior diplomat for Singapore and now dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy. Because Americans live in a "cocoon," Mahbubani fears that they don't see the "sea change in attitudes towards America throughout the world."

The imperial style has its virtues. It intimidates, allows for decisive action and can force countries to follow the lead. But it racks up costs. And it is particularly ill suited for the world we are entering. As other countries come into their own, economically and politically, they want to be listened to, not simply tolerated. They resent being lectured to by the United States. They are willing to be led, but in a very different style.

When Newt Gingrich was speaker of the House, he certainly didn't have a reputation for being weak-kneed or soft. But he knew the value of reaching out to others who had different opinions. He would borrow from management jargon and speak of the need to "listen, learn, help and lead." In that order.

Write the author at comments@fareedzakaria.com.

© 2005 Newsweek, Inc.
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Old Dec 12th, 2005, 03:48 PM       
good article! I'll pick at it later, when I'm not covered in work juices!
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Old Dec 13th, 2005, 01:44 AM       
a lot of the points brough up in the article seem pretty convenient to me. whenever it's the U.S. in question, the rest of the world can freely scold us under the auspices of the UN and protecting international stability. however, almost every nation out there has far more experience at ruling an empire and acting out of self-interest than the U.S. this article? pot? kettle? black.

now, how it improper that we do not treat all nations on an equal diplomatic footing? when one is playing poker, one doesn't hold onto a winning hand and allow the other players to continue drawing until they're satisfied. other nations avoided the Iraq war because it suited their interests (not because it was illegal, Saddam breached the 1991 cease-fire agreement) and have since gained from our efforts. we have the power to carry an imperial doctrine, we should do nothing less and we should be the primary beneficiaries of our efforts. I can guarantee that in 30 years, if we have not established ourselves in a position of world primacy, then both China and Russia will be striving to replace us.

I'm very tired right now and my mind has been overly stressed from having to deal with the most despicable rednecks imaginable, so I'm going to call it a night ;o
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Old Dec 14th, 2005, 02:12 PM       
Quote:
Originally Posted by ItalianStereotype
we have the power to carry an imperial doctrine, we should do nothing less and we should be the primary beneficiaries of our efforts. I can guarantee that in 30 years, if we have not established ourselves in a position of world primacy, then both China and Russia will be striving to replace us.
Okay, but couldn't you argue that a good emperor would both instill fear and demand respect? If you want to pull it from the Machiavelli playbook, if you must be feared or hated, then it's better to be feared. It seems that our approach abroad has fostered a good deal of hatred, too.

I don't think the argument here is that we should be really nice to Iran, for example. However, shouldn't President Bush at least pretend then to be more worldly?? As the article said, Clinton slapped sanctions on India and they loved him for it.

I also think that if so much of this war is an ideological one, then we need to do a better job to win the hearts and minds, no? I feel we're at a bit of a disadvantage here, because the world community has already been turned off so badly by the invasion over WsMD (which even Bush today acknowledged as a mistake). Instead, when Bush visits these sensitive places, he acts like a rock star passing through a meaningless mid-western town. Then he sends Condi Rice to talk about the tough issues, thus making him look weak and ignorant, because he himself couldn't/wouldn't talk about them when he was there.....!
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Old Dec 14th, 2005, 04:21 PM       
hearts and minds, hearts and minds. the standard of living in Iraq has increased immeasurably; well over half the people have faith in and support the new government, the new army, the new police force, people are making more money, receiving better educations, becoming able to afford western decadence, and yet many of them spit on their benefactors. really, what do we owe to the international community?

emperors don't necessarily need to rule by fear. a good emperor would instill nationalism in his own people, as well as a healthy respect for imperial authority both at home and abroad. oppositely, empires should not fear those who hate and distrust them, but should control them, destroy them, or put them out of mind. and in any case, though it may seem antithetical to the very nature of empire, an "emperor's" first priority should domestic care, I think.
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Old Dec 14th, 2005, 06:01 PM       
Quote:
Originally Posted by ItalianStereotype
hearts and minds, hearts and minds. the standard of living in Iraq has increased immeasurably; well over half the people have faith in and support the new government, the new army, the new police force, people are making more money, receiving better educations, becoming able to afford western decadence, and yet many of them spit on their benefactors. really, what do we owe to the international community?
Is it really that sunny and joyful there? I mean, I agree with you for the most part, but it can't all be because the evil, liberal media is reporting just negative stuff.

Who polled half the population?

Anyway, I suppose we owe nothing to the international community. But we do make demands of them. We want them to comply with the TWAT, we want them to send 9 soldiers to places so we don't look like a hegemon, we want to send prisoners there to torture so we can say "we don't do that!". So I guess we owe them very little, but they might soon disagree. We want to win this war, right? Then I think we need the international community. We need them on the same page as us, and we need them to believe that there is a joint-purpose here. Having them pick up some of the tab would be nice, too.

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a good emperor would instill nationalism in his own people, as well as a healthy respect for imperial authority both at home and abroad.
You think Bush has done a good job of this? Take FDR for example-- he was able to instill this nationalism, and he was able to use his Pearl Harbor to not only mobilize support, but to mobilize men in a draft. Think Bush has sold his foreign policy for Iraq well enough to do that???
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Old Dec 15th, 2005, 04:14 PM       
fine. well over half of the people polled. jerk.

is it really that sunny and joyful? aside from random suicide bombings, I'd say it's looking up! we've already established a new government, we're modernizing the Iraqi infrastructure, and vastly improved the quality of life for the citizens. we've done all of this in two years, and the average occupation requires at least seven. yes, we're doing well!

I would say that the problem lies in the fact that the war is so unpopular on a global scale. the average citizen, be he american, european, or arabic, is massively uninformed and has formulated an opinion, be it positive or negative, on this ignorance. at the government level, many are simply seeking to preserve their own interests, be they economic or social, in that standing up to the American "hegemon" seems quite trendy these days. still others, like socialist spain, are simply great bleeding vaginas.

Quote:
Anyway, I suppose we owe nothing to the international community. But we do make demands of them. We want them to comply with the TWAT, we want them to send 9 soldiers to places so we don't look like a hegemon, we want to send prisoners there to torture so we can say "we don't do that!". So I guess we owe them very little, but they might soon disagree. We want to win this war, right? Then I think we need the international community. We need them on the same page as us, and we need them to believe that there is a joint-purpose here. Having them pick up some of the tab would be nice, too.
so what do we owe them for this? why do we treat them as equals for sending 9 soldiers in the area that's not quite in, but next to the combat zone? friends of Rome were not equals of Rome.

what choice do they have but to turn to us? the war on terror won't serve as some great galvanizing force for the European Union, but eventually individual countries will realize that neutrality does not guarantee safety and that this is a conflict that they cannot win on their own. as they realize this, our role as the world's suzerain becomes clear. with or without the war on terror, the international community will survive, globalization will continue. with this considered, we must choose to either submit ourselves to the international community, or make our interests priority.

and really, I doubt that even FDR could rouse our nation today. the day after september 11th, there were already people tearing down the flags that people had put out and insulting the nation and those who had died. people today have become complacent and pacifistic, even at the expense of their nations' interests and ideals, too many people are ready to abandon the nation-state and the pride and duty that accompanies the notion.
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Old Dec 30th, 2005, 02:48 PM       
i'd like to take a tangent away from what we were discussing. I have a new question, and it may tie in to what you just said about American apathy.

Do you think Americans could today be lulled into a dictatorship, or a weird sort of "empire"?

The example i cite is this NSA stuff. Now we already have threads for that, so i don't want this to become a debate over that. However, I am of the opinion that the president may have very well violated the law here. There's legal experts, FISA court judges, as well as conservative intellectuals who can back me up on that. At the very least, let's just say he "took liberties" with the law.

A recent poll conducted shows that over 60% of Americans, 51% of Democrats, are okay with the spying.....! This is where i become curious. Even if this violated the Constitution, it would seem Americans are more than willing to hand over liberty for the sake of security. Maybe more than ever.

So i guess my question is two-fold:

A. If the tactics the president uses are necessary, welcome, and effective, then can a republican, free market nation even call itself such if it's willing to bend the laws when they become inconvenient?

B. If it means bending and perhaps even violating the Constitution, does that mean democracy and capitalism can't beat islamic fundamentalism, much like the President would claim?
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Old Jan 3rd, 2006, 11:39 AM       
First, Michael Moore notes that Pres. Bush only takes vacations, and now they complain that he is strictly business on his trips abroad. I don't understand.

I think it is good Pres. Bush goes and meets with other states, but is not infuenced by the opinions of others. We should seek cooperation, undoubtedly, but what is best for us is best for us, and those are my interests and the interests of the West in general.
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Old Jan 3rd, 2006, 11:43 AM       
Thank you for not being stupid.
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Old Jan 3rd, 2006, 01:24 PM       
Quote:
Originally Posted by KevinTheOmnivore
Thank you for not being stupid.
Thank you for not being sarcastic.
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Old Jan 3rd, 2006, 01:31 PM       
I wasn't being sarcastic. Have you read some of the other threads?
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Old Jan 3rd, 2006, 01:50 PM       
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Originally Posted by KevinTheOmnivore
I wasn't being sarcastic. Have you read some of the other threads?
Haha -- I am new [obviously] and so I will get more of a feel and answer back...

I do not feel I said anything particularly smart so I was not sure if u were going to attack me. I will get my legs for the board.
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Old Jan 3rd, 2006, 02:16 PM       
this is not your thread
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Old Jan 3rd, 2006, 03:07 PM       
actually, no, you should totally post in this thread too.
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Old Jan 4th, 2006, 08:23 AM       
Get a room.....
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