Sunday, February 08, 2004

Boston Globe spottings 

The real Bush weapons problem: record spending levels, but no money to destory Russian weapons?

Kevin Paul *ahem* Dupont scolds Don Cherry for disliking the French.

This is utterly reprehensible: Online break-up services.

At least one academic thinks that Bush's policy of pre-emption is historically consistent with previous U.S. policies, aside from being just a good idea:
The postwar United States extended its sphere of influence partly through generous economic aid, partly through the alliance system, and largely by the consent of the states in its orbit. So long as the Soviet Union was around, small states always knew that there was something worse than American domination.

The end of the Cold War changed all that -- and found the United States without a grand strategy. President Bill Clinton, says Gaddis, thought that "globalization and democratization were irreversible processes, therefore we didn't need a grand strategy. Clinton said as much at one point. I think that was shallow. I think they were asleep at the switch."

Enter Prince Hal. The Bush administration, marvels Gaddis, undertook a decisive and courageous reassessment of American grand strategy following the shock of the 9/11 attacks. At his doctrine's center, Bush placed the democratization of the Middle East and the urgent need to prevent terrorists and rogue states from getting nuclear weapons. Bush also boldly rejected the constraints of an outmoded international system that was really nothing more than a "snapshot of the configuration of power that existed in 1945," Gaddis says.

Despite the dark predictions of critics, Gaddis writes, so far the military action in Iraq has produced "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 . . .; and an increasing nervousness on the part of the Syrian and Iranian governments as they contemplated the consequences of being surrounded by American clients or surrogates." Indeed, Gaddis writes, the United States has emerged "as a more powerful and purposeful actor within the international system than it had been on Sept. 11, 2001."

That's not to say that the Bush administration has behaved flawlessly. Gaddis says, "They don't give enough weight to how frightening it can be if you have that much power and then you deploy it, and you deploy language foolishly." Nonetheless, he stresses, "I do take them very seriously. I do think Bush is in charge himself, and has been very underrated as a leader in all of this just as Ronald Reagan was underrated."
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