Saturday, September 02, 2006

Diplomacy and force. I do not want to give the erroneous impression that I do not favor diplomacy among nation states to resolve problems. I most decidedly do. However, there is no question that our country must maintain a strong defense because there are those powers, no matter how we conduct ourselves, which would want to attack and ultimately destroy us. It is, I believe, the nature of man.

I also though believe, we must, because we are witness to the utter failure of contemporary US foreign policy, begin anew. We need to change US foreign policy to scrupulously monitor and ever so judiciously employ the use of force. Force should be used exclusively where we are directly and maliciously attacked by a foreign power whether it be a nation state or a rogue group. That would mean that our entrance into Afghanistan, in my opinion, was warranted. Without it costing the US grossly in manpower, money and munitions in Iraq, we could have concentrated entirely on Afghanistan which really was the umbilical cord of terrorism and the nexus for Al-Quaeda. We could have, as we did, remove the Taliban and effect a surgical strike to take out the perpetrator of the 9/11 attacks, Bin Laden and Ayman Al-Zawahiri which we have astonishingly yet to do. At the same time we would have been able to monitor strictly the politics and behavior of Iraq. Now, we are quagmired. We are damned if we leave and damned if we don't. I believe as Peter Galbraith I think has suggested, the only avenue left for Iraq would be to divide it into three -- Kurds, Sunni and Shia. The US then should step aside.

If that ever succeeds, there must be an attempt over decades to redo US foreign policy so that we remain strong but gentle. Countries must begin to know we will be there for humanitarian good but if attacked we will respond. It is clear to me that unilaterialism to effect Middle East democracy is a disastrous neo-conservative pipedream and failure. We cannot be the supreme inseminator of democracy throughout the world. Nor should we be.

We need more than a "coalition of the willing." We need nations -- even nations who generally are not on our side -- to be on our side because not to do so would be too disadvantageous. Through economics we can help many. With bombs we help none. The cause in Iraq was not just. It was an error of biblical proportions and we will be paying its price, I think, for generations to come. I believe though we can reverse that error slowly over time so that a new New Deal will emerge not only for our country but for people around the world as well.
If they could they would: I respond to Professor Zinn's Op Ed "War is not a solution for terrorism," in the September 2, 2006 edition of the Globe. Professor Zinn and I have had email exchanges on this issue. He remains one of the most influential professors of history I encountered. I agree, I do not feel safer since 9/11. I, too, shudder to think of how many bombs our country has "inevitably" dropped on innocents in many theaters of war. Professor Zinn, though, still has not answered my inevitable concern. I call it the if they could they would concern. I do not understand how Professor Zinn can view the human species and think that American might is the cause of most of the ills the modern world confronts. What if we were a country which nary dropped a bomb on anyone or developed weaponry to do so? Does Professor Zinn think that either the Soviet Union and its sphere during the Cold War or the violent Arab world today would be passive toward the west? Given the violent proclivities of man and his quest for power, I do not think so. Some bomb throwers, some nefarious nation states or some religious fanatics somewhere if they thought they could they would visit upon the west utter destruction. What would we do then? Diplomacy is wonderful and I'm always an advocate of it when possible but it does nothing if our populous, in the interim, lies on a tarmac of dust.