Thursday, December 01, 2005

Multilateralism, Nation-Building, and Pew Research on Our Place in the World

Iraq, Multilateralism, Nation-Building, and Pew Research on Our Place in the World

Out in the press, the realities of nation-building and multilateralism are being discussed, and there are many ideas and opinions being floated.

First, from the Washington Times:
"...the Pentagon, State Department and other agencies are brainstorming about proposals to create a permanent rapid-response corps of federal civilians who would deploy on call to rebuild a nation. "There is no way the current government structure is going to solve the problem," [spokesman for Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld Lawrence] Di Rita said. Getting U.S. government civilians to go to Iraq ran into trouble right from the start of the Coalition Provisional Authority."

The Wall Street Journal (Thinking Global):
"..the Bush administration has realized at great pain via Iraq that it can't achieve much in the world without more effective multilateralism. The challenges increasingly defy unilateral solutions: terrorism, international crime, pandemic threats, global warming, nuclear proliferation."
From a list of "thanks" at Thanksgiving [CSM, ]the author is glad for:
..A shift by the US away from unilateralism toward multilateralism. The relative loneliness of the US in Iraq has underlined the need for cooperation with other nations on specific issues and initiatives. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, clearly with the approval of President Bush, is cultivating alliances with European powers, and nations like Russia and China, as these coalitions seek collectively to curb the nuclear weapons ambitions of North Korea and Iran. There is even recognition of the helpful role that international organizations like NATO and the UN can sometimes play.
Max Boot/LA Times:
A hundred years ago, this type of involvement in other countries' internal affairs would have been called, frankly, liberal imperialism. Today, we prefer euphemisms such as nation building, peacekeeping and stabilization. But whatever you call such operations, they are essential to stop the spread of problems such as infectious diseases, terrorism, genocide, narco-trafficking and refugee flows....The issue is no longer whether we will do nation building but how well will we do it? .....To some extent, the problems in Iraq were a consequence of George W. Bush's oft-expressed disdain for nation building — an attitude we can be thankful he has rethought.

From: Were We Lied Into War? -- Some Detective Work by Andrew Bard Schmookler, who is an author and proprietor of (a site which forwards the notion that both sides of our polarized society have their moral blindspots), Bush's attitude toward the world in the lead-up to the Iraq war bordered on contempt and chastisement:
..Does not their reckless mangling of our major alliances lead us to infer that “the war on terror” was not really uppermost in their minds, but was rather used as a justification –a cover—for other ambitions? And as for the spirit behind those ambitions, one can look at how this president and vice president behaved in the period of nearly a year leading up to the invasion of Iraq. In their public statements, they gave us clear clues in the readily accessible language of basic human behavior...Their conduct was arrogant, not fearful...For months, they assumed an aggressive posture not only toward Iraq but toward the world generally. And for the international order they showed a feeling bordering on contempt.

...When the president–under pressure from the public statements from his father’s former chief national security aides-- finally decided to acknowledge that order, and go to speak to the United Nations, his demeanor was entirely presumptuous and boastful. Far from soliciting their help in a spirit likely to elicit it, he lectured and chastised the other nations of the world.

General William Odom says:
By themselves the Balkan countries were not all that important. Yet several great powers, especially Russia and Austria, were jockeying for strategic advantages there as they anticipated the collapse of the Ottoman Empire and competition for control of the straits leading from the Black Sea into the Mediterranean. Britain and France wanted neither Russia nor Austria to dominate; and Germany, although uninterested in the Balkans, was allied to Austria. From a strategic viewpoint, the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand in Sarajevo in 1914 was unimportant, but it set in motion actions that soon brought all of the major powers in Europe to war. Four empires collapsed, and the doors were opened to the Communists in Russia and the Nazis in Germany as a result. Brzezinski's point today is that the Middle East and Southwest Asia have precisely that kind of potential for catalyzing wars among the major powers of the world today, although nothing in the region objectively merits such wars...Thus Brzezinski calls for the United States to lead the states of Europe plus Russia, Japan, and China in a cooperative approach to stabilizing this region so that it cannot spark conflicts among them. As he rightly argues, the task of stabilization is beyond the power of the United States alone. With allies, however, it can manage the challenge.
The Cato Institute's Ted Galen Carpenter has a far less hopeful or creative outlook. He's sticking to his unilateralisms:
Regardless of their views about whether the war was justified or what policy Washington should pursue going forward, all factions in the debate need to realize that there is no global cavalry ready to ride to the rescue in Iraq. For better or worse, the Iraq mission is an American problem, and it is up to the American people and their elected representatives to craft a solution.

Ivan Eland is Senior Fellow and Director of the Center on Peace & Liberty at The Independent Institute in Oakland, CA:
Decentralization in both Bosnia and Iraq is the only hope for peace and prosperity. The ethnic or religious groups in neither country really want to live together. In both countries, the United States should stop its risky attempts to create a strong national government and allow genuine self-determination. In Iraq, this might take the form of a loose confederation or partition, with a sharing of petroleum revenues or oil fields to entice Sunni participation.

From the Pew Research Center:
The [Pew Research Center/Council on Foreign Relations study, “American’s Place in the World, 2005"].. finds just 32 percent agreeing with the sentiment “Since the U.S. is the most powerful nation in the world, we should go our own way in international matters, not worrying too much about whether other countries agree with us or not”. This is 7 points higher than the level of agreement in 2002 but identical with sentiment right before September 11, 2001 and a bit lower than 1993-95 levels..

..When it comes to the UN, Republicans are twice as likely as Democrats (56% vs. 24%) to say the U.S. does not need to cooperate fully with the international body..

"Nothing" Good to Say about Bush Foreign Policy -
"Well, he hasn't bombed Antarctica yet."

..A sizeable minority of opinion leaders could think of nothing to say when asked what has been best about Bush's handling of foreign policy. Fully 37% of scientists and engineers volunteered that they had "nothing" good to say or offerred a sarcastic response such as "Well, he hasn't bombed Antarctica yet." 17% of Military had "nothing" good to say about Bush's handling of foreign policy...

Terrorism and War in Iraq: The Biggest International Problem

.. Opinion leaders and the public largely agree that terrorism and the situation in Iraq are the biggest international problems confronting the nation...

Lost U.S. Credibility and Respect: Greatest Problem Facing the Nation

..Many influentials also identified America’s image in the world and the overall impression that America has lost credibility and respect as the greatest problems facing the nation. As one foreign affairs specialist put it, America has suffered “a loss of international confidence and respect due to the administration ramming a series of ill-considered political, economic and security policies.” A media executive described the problem in similar terms, saying America has “a lack of credibility as a fair and just world leader.”...

Loss of Respect for U.S.: A Major Problem

...Most who say the nation has lost respect believe that this is an important concern. Roughly four-in-ten Americans (43%) – two-thirds of those who say America is less respected – say this is a major problem for the country..

Iraq War as Reason for Global Discontent: A Bipartisan Belief

..Opinion leaders and the public overwhelmingly point to the war in Iraq as a major reason for discontent with the U.S. around the world. This belief is nearly unanimous among foreign affairs experts (95%), security specialists (93%), and scientists and engineers (90%). Even military leaders, who express relatively positive opinions of the military operation in Iraq, generally believe the war is a major factor in global unhappiness with the U.S. The general public concurs in
this view. Eight-in-ten Democrats point to the war as a major reason for international discontent with the U.S., and large majorities of independents (70%) and Republicans (64%) agree.