The Philadelphia Inquirer
September 26, 2004
goals, different worldviews
of a weekly series on key issues leading up to the election
relationship with the rest of the world was already transforming before
the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, though the extent of the changes to come
were barely telegraphed to voters in the 2000 election campaign.
During a presidential debate four years
ago, candidate George W. Bush and Vice President Al Gore sounded
remarkably similar in their assessment of how the world's remaining
superpower should comport itself.
The unilateralist Bush doctrine --
demonstrated most clearly by the administration's invasion of Iraq despite
international protests -- represents a distinct departure from the
multilateralist approach of the Clinton administration and that of George
Both President Bush and Sen. John Kerry
promise a stout war on terror as the centerpiece of their security plan --
both pledge vigorous fights to curtail weapons of mass destruction; both
promise to support democratic efforts overseas. But the pathways they
propose are built on fundamentally different worldviews.
Kerry says the president has embraced an
"arrogant" disregard for the world and promises to build
"an America that listens and leads." But the president's
supporters say everything changed after Sept. 11; America does not need to
seek a "permission slip," as Bush recently put it.
The U.S. foreign policy debate long has
been characterized by a struggle between America's isolationist instincts
-- the view that the United States should preserve its sovereignty by
steering clear of international commitments -- and a recognition that the
United States must work cooperatively with allies to achieve its national
For most of the 20th century, America
built alliances to promote freedom and democracy -- two world wars and the
Cold War. At the end of the Cold War, the elder Bush followed by Bill
Clinton embraced internationalism in which the United States exerted its
influence, but within the bounds of international institutions.
One example of the cooperative approach
was the elder Bush's "New World Order," in which the president
skillfully assembled an international coalition to oust Iraq from Kuwait
in the 1991 Persian Gulf War -- but stopped short of ousting Saddam
Hussein as a concession to allies. The unilateralists later pointed to the
willingness to accommodate an evildoer like Saddam as an example of the
weakness of the "realist" approach, which calls for a balance of
power among states, regardless of their character.
With the implementation of the younger
Bush's policies, Iraq has become a laboratory to test whether the
unilateralists' go-it-alone strategy will work.
Iraq and the war on terror will be the
primary concern facing the next administration. Other flash points will
Nuclear proliferation: Iran and North
Korea have defiantly moved forward to develop nuclear weapons. Pakistan
appears to have rolled back scientist A.Q. Khan's secret nuclear
proliferation network, but the extent to which it thrived clandestinely
only serves as a chilling reminder of how easy it might be for terrorists
to obtain fissile material.
Europe: America's historic allies are
peeved at being brushed aside during the Iraq invasion and its aftermath.
The U.S. government will have to confront whether a unified Europe will be
more of a rival and less of a friend in the future.
Middle East: Peace talks on the
Israeli-Palestinian issue are on hold, sidelined by Iraq. The
administration says that a resolution is impossible until democracy has
taken root in the Middle East, which brings this issue back to Iraq.
Russia: Facing determined political
rivals and bold Chechen separatists, Vladimir Putin's government continues
to shift dangerously away from democracy. Keeping Russia engaged while it
confronts real security challenges will be a diplomatic challenge.
Humanitarian crises: The world wrings
its hands as tens of thousands die in the Darfur region of Sudan,
reflecting a deep ambivalence about getting involved in countries where
the stakes are nonstrategic. The United States has been trying to organize
an African response to Darfur, but it is only the latest crisis on the
continent in the absence of political will to resolve them.
Narcotics: The war on terrorism has
eclipsed the war on drugs, most evident in Afghanistan, where opium
production has exploded in the absence of the Taliban.
Want to learn more? Independent analysis
and data available at:
Click on "Issue Guides," then "America's Global Role."
Council on Foreign Relations. Under "The Source," click on
"Campaign 2004." Its magazine Foreign Affairs is at www.foreignaffairs.org.
Foreign Policy Association. Numerous articles and analyses. Click on
"Bookstore," then "Citizen's Guide to U.S. Foreign Policy
2004" to purchase or read chapters of its pamphlet.
President Bush's foreign policy
casts the world in a prism of good vs. evil, promising to confront
terrorism with a "steely resolve." The long-term strategy for
defeating terrorism is based on building democracies in Iraq and elsewhere
because "free people do not support terror."
The highlights of his security and
foreign policy agenda:
Reform intelligence services by creating
a national intelligence director and establishing a national
Continue transformation of the military
into lighter, faster forces stationed in strategic locations around the
world while bringing home many Cold War-era contingents.
Increase development assistance by 50
percent to nations that promote economic freedom and demonstrate a
commitment to governing justly.
Push forward on the missile defense
system to shield the United States from rogue nations with long-range
Continue funding the five-year, $15
billion emergency plan for AIDS relief.
Encourage international financial
institutions to offer grants instead of loans to developing nations to
avoid the burden of insurmountable debt.
Double the budget of the National
Endowment for Democracy to $80 million, including promoting democracy in
the Islamic world.
Sen. John Kerry's proposals place
a great emphasis on assembling a broader coalition of allies to
"maximize international cooperation" to fight terrorism. He says
President Bush has alienated the rest of the world -- bullying rather than
persuading -- at America's peril.
He also promises to curtail the spread
of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons.
Other highlights of his security and
foreign policy agenda:
Expand active-duty forces by 40,000 to
relieve the strain on the military, and double special-forces capability
and transform the National Guard for homeland security.
Complete a global clean-out of potential
nuclear bomb-making materials in four years and negotiate a global ban on
production of material for nuclear weapons.
Create a director of national
intelligence to manage all components of intelligence while protecting
intelligence agencies from political pressures to encourage a culture that
Increase research into alternative
energy sources and encourage energy conservation to "free America
from its dangerous dependence on Mideast oil."