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Friday, April 11, 2003

Answering Lee Anne-Lee Anne Millinger, the newest member of the Posse, asked some good questions in the comments of my War and Politics post of this morning. Do you think the Democrats will address the overall change in foreign policy initiated by the war in Iraq? First of all, it's helpful to try and figure out what that change is. It's a more muscular policy, to be sure, and one that isn't afraid to give the middle-digit salute to the UN. We got rid of a nasty regime with nasty weapons, but it cost a lot of American lives and American money. Yes, we "only" lost about a 100 US lives, but that's not going to be a figure we can justify for every garden-variety dictator. So, at least, we're willing to get rid of nasty regimes with nasty weapons. Right now, North Korea is about the only other country that meets those specs. We've got plenty of nasty regimes-the troops in Iraq can point northwest, east or south-southwest and find a few more. We've got a few governments with nasty weapons; Pakistan, India and Israel come to mind. However, only Kin Jung Il and his buddies go 2-for-2. We might also, if we can reconstruct Iraq, be willing to try such action in other places. Zimbabwe comes quickly to mind. However, Mad Bad Bob doesn't have any nukes, so we'd have to justify that on humanitarian grounds. A bit of racism and ethnocentrism might also keep us from helping in Africa; a lot of the "they aren't cut out for democracy" lines will be falsely applied. Given that as a policy tableau, the Democrats may either embrace this muscular Wilsonian policy or opt for the more traditional, wussier variety. If the early reports of nukes and chemical weapons and CNN keeping quiet about Iraqi atrocities in order to keep people there, the old UN-style multilateralism seems to be out of vogue for a while. However, that might not be enough to change the attitudes of a lot of the Democratic left who would prefer Jesse to Scoop. This might just blow up the Democratic party; if we get a nominee that embraces the Bush paradigm, we could see the Greens do very well picking up the Democratic peacenik left. How will they oppose a policy of pre-emptive strikes (when it worked in Iraq)?-By questioning the cost of such strikes and continuing to overestimate their cost. "Iraq may have fallen easily but [insert country here] is different." Democrats tend to be pessimists by nature, so they can overstate the strengths of the target country and overstate our weaknesses. They're probably going to be wrong, but that hasn't stopped them before. Will it depend on the fallout of the war as it affects Syria?- Syria knows that it's on double-secret probation and has one or two significant boo-boos before American troops are going be having a Road to Damascus experience. One boo-boo might get the offending facility bombed; two might get Bashir checking out six dozen raisins. I think Bashir is smart enough to not start something, but he might just be stoopid enough. I don't think Syria will seriously democratize, but if Bashir sees that as the alternative to Abrams tanks in Damascus, he might. How far do you think the Bush administration plans to push this policy?- Not too far. North Korea is a possibility, as is Syria. Iran is an outside possibility, but it's more likely that the US will let Iran stew in its own democratic juices and let the Iranians do the job. The benefits of a conflict need to be significantly greater than the costs and those benefits will need to be seen as humanitarian as well as make sense as realpolitic.

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