<$BlogRSDUrl$>

Friday, January 14, 2005

It is easy to forget... 

I am in the middle of John Lewis Gaddis' book, Surprise, Security, and the American Experience, which quite crisply places the foreign policy of George W. Bush into the history of American responses to threats to the continental United States. I recommend it.

I am always struck by the speed of events and how quickly we forget all that has happened since September 11. Pending the official TigerHawk review of Gaddis's book, which may or may not ever see the light of day, I thought you would be interested in the following passage. It reminded me of all that has happened (bearing in mind that Gaddis's book was written at the end of 2003):
It was not just the Twin Towers that collapsed on the morning of September 11, 2001: so too did some of our most fundamental assumptions about international, national and personal security.

That was the situation President Bush confronted before that morning had ended. Any administration in such a crisis would have had to rethink what it thought it knew about security and hence strategy; but this administration has done so in a particularly startling way, with striking results. To sense how much so, try a time travel exercise: place yourself back on that terrible day and ask how you would have responded had someone predicted the following:

That the United States would quickly respond by invading, and easily conquering, the nation any historian could have told you would be the most resistant to invasion and conquest, Afghanistan -- and that it would have the support of the Afghan people and most of the rest of the world in doing so. That the Bush administration would then, over the next few months, undertake the most fundamental reassessment of American grand strategy in over half a century, and that it would publish the results of this rethinking, for all to read, discuss and dissent from. That it would then, in a manner fully consistent with that strategy, seek the approval of its allies and the United Nations Security Council for what it regarded as the next logical step -- going after Saddam Hussein's Iraq -- and that it would fail miserably in getting that approval.

That the United States would then nonetheless, with the help of Great Britain, go ahead and attack Iraq anyway, in the face of the direst warnings about the risks of military resistance, the use of weapons of mass destruction, the eruption of outrage in the Arab world, a new outbreak of terrorism, a huge increase in the price of oil, and astronomical estimates of the human and material costs of the operation -- only to have none of these things happen. That among the things that did happen would be: a modest improvement in American and global economic conditions; an intensified dialogue within the Arab world about political reform; a withdrawal of American forces from Saudi Arabia along with their redeployment to such formerly inhospitable locations as Afghanistan, Iraq, Uzbekiatan, Kyrgzstan, Romania, and Bulgaria; and an increasing nervousness on the part of the Syrian and Iranian governments as they contemplated the consequences of being surrounded by American alients or surrogates.

Finally, that much of the rest of the world would find itself amazed, and if truth be told somewhat alarmed, over the emergence of the United States as a more powerful and purposeful actor within the international system than it had been on September 11, 2001 -- as well as over one of the most surprising transformations of an underrated national leader since Prince Hal became Henry V. If anyone had predicted all of this on that day, you might have wondered what pills they'd been popping or what weed they'd been smoking. You almost certainly would not have taken them seriously. And yet, this is indeed what's happened.

It is true that some of these achievements are not as clearly unambiguous as they appeared when Gaddis wrote a more than year ago, but there are other achievements that might be added to his list. In any case, if the events of the past year were added to those that might have been imagined on September 11, the "what weed" question would still obtain. What weed, indeed.

6 Comments:

By Blogger Spear Shaker, at Sat Jan 15, 12:06:00 AM:

Let's not forget Libya, and Ghadafi's renouncement of his WMD program. . . also, let's not discount how the entire MidEast has to now confront the democratic election process unfolding within its midst. . .  

By Blogger Gordon Smith, at Sat Jan 15, 12:49:00 AM:

Sounds like President Bush's team's got a real fan on their hands. Does the work mention that Bush and Co. were making plans to invade Iraq long before Sept. 11? Yes, Bush has shown everyone just how much muscle the U.S. can flex. Like a bull in a china shop.  

By Blogger TigerHawk, at Sat Jan 15, 07:06:00 AM:

Gaddis is not obviously pro-Bush, notwithstanding the short passage I quoted. The book is largely an extended essay on diplomatic history, and it is very hard to figure out who Gaddis admires. His sections on FDR's foreign policy are in roughly the same tone.

You and I have been back and forth on the Iraq war before, Screwy. You're very focused on this idea that the Bush White House was intent on doing something about Saddam even before September 11, as if that were evidence of something nefarious. My view is quite different -- as I argued at length in my giant Iraq post in early October, we were going to have to take Saddam's government out one way or the other eventually, even if September 11 had not occurred. With the exception of China, Iraq was our most challenging obvious international problem before September 11. Remember, we were by any measure already at war, flying more than 10,000 sorties a year and bombing them weekly. One would hope that the Bush people would be focused on Iraq.

The other unusual aspect of your -- "oh-my-god, Bush was going after Saddam even before September 11" -- argument is that it essentially attacks him for being too consistent. That's a new one in politics, I must admit.

Now you might say that this criticism was brought on by the particular rationales served up by the White House for the Iraq War. Certainly, in retrospect, those have not worked out, and that has hurt Bush's credibility. But as you well know from reading this blog, the stated rationales and the actual rationales for diplomatic and military coercion usually bear little resemblance to each other, a condition of international relations that I do not find in the least troubling. How, after all, can we deceive our enemies if we do not let our leaders deceive everybody?  

By Blogger Get-A-Free-House, at Wed Oct 05, 09:24:00 AM:

This Is The Best Thing That You'll Ever Come Across If You Are In The Market To Buy A House.

Click Here For More Information


New Home Community
New Home Community
New Home Community
New Home Community
New Home Community
New Home Community
New Home Community
New Home Community
New Home Community
New Home Community  

By Blogger The Answer Man, at Wed Oct 05, 02:23:00 PM:

Frustrated And Disappointed Because You Think You Can't Afford A Beautiful New Custom-Built Home?.......

Well, Think Again............. Because You CAN!

Click Here For More Information



custom home design
custom home design
custom home design
custom home design
custom home design
custom home design
custom home design
custom home design
custom home design
custom home design  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Fri Oct 07, 04:54:00 AM:

Your blog is excellent - keep it up! Don't miss visiting this site about half price book. It pretty much covers half price book related stuff.  

Post a Comment


This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?