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In Defense Of Foreign Policy Reptiles
April 18, 2007 11:01 AM   Subscribe

Learning From Ike: What a Republican realist could teach George Bush. "If we hope to succeed, we manage evil. We minimize, mitigate, and manipulate evil. But efforts to pre-emptively eliminate evil are prone to end in overreaction and destabilization, with consequences that are often worse than the original problem."
posted by Sticherbeast (36 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
I think the case of James Baker and the Iraq Study Group prove that nobody can teach GWB anything.
posted by DU at 11:14 AM on April 18, 2007


Is this by one of those guys who have been conspicuously silent of the subject of Bush and his fuck ups and now wants to jump ship? Because, seriously, fuck them.
posted by Artw at 11:19 AM on April 18, 2007 [5 favorites]


I've heard Communism would work, if only it was done properly.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:23 AM on April 18, 2007


HI I'M IN THE WHITEHOUSE AND I COULD UNDERTHINK AN INVASION OF IRAQ
posted by DU at 11:25 AM on April 18, 2007


It's worse than I thought...

So far, Bush's presidency looks like four years of impulsive overreach followed by two of desperate improvisation, but recall that Truman was unpopular and widely regarded as a failure when he left office. In 2009, something akin to Eisenhower's brand of calm, cold realism may offer the best hope of rebuilding the country's foreign policy. And George W. Bush's reputation.

...they actually think Bush is saveable.
posted by Artw at 11:34 AM on April 18, 2007


That was actually really interesting, and yeah, I like Ike.

But we live in different times. "Manage evil"? An honest look in the mirror would be a good start.
posted by dreamsign at 11:42 AM on April 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


except Bush is the very evil he wishes to vanquish
posted by four panels at 11:54 AM on April 18, 2007


I've heard Communism would work, if only it was done properly.

In all honesty, I'm not trying to snark, but I'm not sure if I get the analogy. What Rauch is recommending is a philosophy entirely opposed to the neocon philosophy, which makes him as unlikely an opponent of the Iraq War as Brent Scowcroft (or the Iraq Study Group). He's never been a fan of Bush, and while he was incorrect to have (IIRC) faintly allowed the war to happen, he never allowed it for neocon reasons, and he was never a hawk - he allowed the war because he trusted the intelligence which Bush&Co. had warped.

(He did, however, write that article on being an introvert.)

A more apt comparison might be "Socialism works in Sweden." Realism only works in certain situations, when pursued wisely and in measured doses. If someone could wisely and cautiously allow Iraq to at least somewhat settle, and to cease forthwith all the Iran saber-rattling from the right.

I disagree that Bush's reputation could ever be properly saved. At best, if a genius is elected in 2008, he'd be remembered as a dangerous buffoon whose errors were halted after some time. But surely, if Iraq could ever become a viable republic, Bush would be remembered at least somewhat more warmly, even if erroneously?

I don't think the article is perfect or a gospel truth, or that Rauch is a left-wing angel entirely simpatico with my own beliefs, but I don't see how it excuses Bush's folly. He's recommending a course of action to steer away from furthering its misery.
posted by Sticherbeast at 12:13 PM on April 18, 2007


Why We Fight
posted by homunculus at 12:14 PM on April 18, 2007


Reptiles?
posted by briank at 12:15 PM on April 18, 2007


briank, I think this is what 'reptiles' references.
posted by quin at 12:34 PM on April 18, 2007


Reptiles?
Read the article, kthx

"neither hawk nor dove but, ... a reptile: a cold-blooded realist."
posted by bashos_frog at 12:38 PM on April 18, 2007


Pshaw bashos_frog, my 'reptiles' was more fun.
posted by quin at 12:40 PM on April 18, 2007


In those days, Communist China was the closest thing to today's Iran: a rising regional power, radical, ideological, antagonistic, and increasingly bold.

This is mixing apples and axis of evils.
posted by three blind mice at 12:42 PM on April 18, 2007


Is this by one of those guys who have been conspicuously silent of the subject of Bush and his fuck ups and now wants to jump ship? Because, seriously, fuck them.

Jesus Artw, you're a reactionary. Reason has been pretty consistently opposed to the drug war, the invasion of Iraq, and the Patriot Act, to name a few Bush policies they oppose.
posted by chlorus at 12:58 PM on April 18, 2007


I disagree that Bush's reputation could ever be properly saved.

Am I the only that recalls all the gushing and revisionist love making that went on when Nixon died? And the now lovingly used phrase "Nixon Republican" to refer to some glory days of pure Republicanism? If Nixon can have a rebirth some day, GWB surely could.
posted by spicynuts at 1:06 PM on April 18, 2007


chlorus - Pff. Check this guys articles. "Bush's 'forward strategy of freedom' is a sound and overdue policy change. " (mid 2004), etc... etc... etc...
posted by Artw at 1:17 PM on April 18, 2007


Am I the only that recalls all the gushing and revisionist love making that went on when Nixon died? And the now lovingly used phrase "Nixon Republican" to refer to some glory days of pure Republicanism? If Nixon can have a rebirth some day, GWB surely could.

I do remember that gushing, but I feel that it faded shortly afterwards, and that the tone, in general, was more of respecting the dead and shining a little light on Nixon's accomplishments. Nowadays, he is still seen as the corrupt politician he was, and no one would relish being compared to him.

And I'm no psychic, but I can't imagine anyone relishing such a comparison with Bush for a very long time, even if the next president remedies all his errors.

That said, I think that we will see, for a long time, at least a constant, small, but loud segment of the population who will always see Bush as a hero manqué, whose noble wars were undone by some nefarious political schemes or another. People are strange that way.

After all, Ann Coulter ranked even Warren G. Harding as one of her very favorite presidents. People will always find a way to justify bizarre shit.
posted by Sticherbeast at 1:21 PM on April 18, 2007


Reptiles?
Read the article, kthx

"neither hawk nor dove but, ... a reptile: a cold-blooded realist."


Yes, thank you SOOOOO much for pointing out something I'd already ready, bashos_frog.

I have never seen a reference to "reptiles" as a characterization of political positions WRT war-mongering, and wondered whether this was something Rauch made up on his own for this article or referred to an actual coinage being used.

I'll remember to consult you for an annoying snark the next time BEFORE I ask.
posted by briank at 1:26 PM on April 18, 2007


Very interesting, thanks for the post. I've always admired Eisenhower, this article sums up the reasons why pretty well.
posted by zoogleplex at 1:30 PM on April 18, 2007


I'll remember to consult you for an annoying snark the next time BEFORE I ask.

Just make sure to keep it in MetaTalk, you herpetophiles.
posted by voltairemodern at 1:31 PM on April 18, 2007


Problem with being a reptile is that you have to be willing to eat your own kind, or those who are ostensibly your own kind but arrived at the same conclusions on purely dogmatic grounds. Nothing pisses me off more than a populist appeal to pathos, and the left is just lousy with that sort of language as well.
posted by litfit at 1:47 PM on April 18, 2007


Artw: Is this by one of those guys who have been conspicuously silent of the subject of Bush and his fuck ups and now wants to jump ship? Because, seriously, fuck them.

Rauch's pretty well-known; he's the author of Demosclerosis. Here's an archive of his columns in the Jewish World Review. For example: November 5, 2001.

But with respect to the subject of the article--the foreign-policy realists--there was a great deal of public opposition to the war among prominent realists. Brent Scowcroft, George H. W. Bush's National Security Advisor: Don't Attack Saddam, August 2002. John F. Mearsheimer et al. put a paid ad in the New York Times: War with Iraq Is Not in America's National Interest (PDF), September 2002. George F. Kennan, October 2002.

There was a notable exception: Henry Kissinger.

More on political realism. Previously.
posted by russilwvong at 2:04 PM on April 18, 2007


IKE Bush
posted by caddis at 2:04 PM on April 18, 2007


Honestly, I can see Bush being lauded. But not by this generation. When we are all dead and have no emotional connection to this time and the historians look back and see a stable Iraq and how it influenced the region, then yeah, Bush II might get some credit.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:57 PM on April 18, 2007


He dismissed the idea that the world was a democracy waiting to be liberated. Americans must not, he said, "assume that our standard of values is shared by all other humans in the world. We are not sufficiently informed." Eisenhower was a staunch enemy of communism; and this man who spoke of willingness, in a conflict, to use nuclear weapons as "bullets" was certainly no peacenik. But he understood the limits of power, and that when a superpower pushes, the world pushes back.

Who else wants an I Like Ike button?
posted by Mikey-San at 2:58 PM on April 18, 2007


When we are all dead and have no emotional connection to this time and the historians look back and see a stable Iraq and how it influenced the region, then yeah, Bush II might get some credit.

Is this before or after the Rapture ?
posted by y2karl at 3:05 PM on April 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


Brandon, if any good comes out of that mess, it'll be in spite of Bush, not because of him.
posted by Malor at 3:10 PM on April 18, 2007


As Osama made pellucidly clear with those pre-election video releases, Bush is already very well regarded in some quarters.
posted by jamjam at 3:23 PM on April 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


Very interesting article, I like. And Malor, I agree with you very much, but people get funny when presidents die. All of a sudden everybody loves Reagan-wtf? I don't want to speak for Brandon Blatcher, but I think he just meant that Bush may be looked back on fondly, eventually, not that he should be. It's my sincere hope that, considering the havoc he has wreaked, the least we can do is remember him for the smug, incompetent jerk-off that he is.
posted by HighTechUnderpants at 3:31 PM on April 18, 2007


bashos_frog> Read the article, kthx

Hey, here's an idea: maybe make the post itself meaningful enough that we could understand what it was about before having to waste time reading the 4,000 word article figuring out what the oblique reference is. It's the best of the web, right? Distilled so we don't have to weed through all the chaff finding the best part, right?
posted by avriette at 3:42 PM on April 18, 2007


When we are all dead...Bush II might get some credit.

With the Fox News treatment this sentence actually makes sense.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 4:11 PM on April 18, 2007


On further thought, if Iraq ever achieves stability and democracy, I can see its future citizens being somewhat thankful to Bush.

"Sure, they bungled a lot of things, but at least they got they ball rollling that got Iraq where it is today."

Hopefully I'm wrong, but time has funny way of shaping history.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:21 PM on April 18, 2007


On further thought, if Iraq ever achieves stability and democracy, I can see its future citizens being somewhat thankful to Bush.

Open arms! Open arms!
posted by Artw at 4:35 PM on April 18, 2007


George Bush could underthink a plate of beans...
posted by Eekacat at 5:41 PM on April 18, 2007


Reason interview with Jonathan Rauch.
posted by russilwvong at 10:07 AM on April 26, 2007


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