How Would You Define America’s National Interest?

Posted by DipNote Bloggers
June 20, 2008
Washington Monument During Sunset

Last week, Secretary Rice’s Foreign Affairs article on “Rethinking the National Interest: American Realism for a New World” appeared on DipNote. In the article, the Secretary considers what is in America’s national interest and states that “...Our security is best ensured by the success of our ideals: freedom, human rights, open markets, democracy, and the rule of law.”

How would you define America’s national interest and what factors should be taken into consideration when determining it?

Comments

Comments

Syrian P.
|
Syria
June 20, 2008

SNP in Syria writes:

@ Eric in New Mexico -- responding to earlier post.

No doubt that Cheney Bush & Partners Inc. gone to war in Afghanistan because of the need to secure Strategic Control of Oil/gas transportation from East to West via pipelines for the New World Conglomerate. Should you really be misinformed, which I doubt (share Zharkov opinion that you are shelling out Propaganda), will be happy to post detail of that master plan, rather lengthy and Dipnote max is 5000bits. But that is not all, it was necessary for Alcida to deconstruct and reconstruct Alqaida, forming one that is obedient and can play the false flag operations needed in Iraq, Afghanistan, now in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon others in the future. That is also necessary in order to eliminate the only possible military opposition that can be faced. Most other conventional armies like that of Musharraf and Fahd are obedient and not feared. Also, it was to gain control of the Opium trade that the CIA will need for Black Projects that is not budgeted by Congress (Dipnote please do not edit). Russia and China became the new market center, Colombia is way far now for the trade. They earn 5 stars for that mission accomplished as planned.
No you did not liberate Kuwait because you love that Emir Blue eyes or his harem rooms. This too a decade or so earlier was also well planned by the Senior Bush. It was an American Diplomat that gone to Baghdad to meet with Saddam and insinuate to that Baathist idiot, who served America and the West so well all his life. Accordingly, ignorant as he is, after getting CIA Intelligence leak ( what a favor huh) that Kuwait is slant pumping oil across the county line into his oil field, he did the expected and invaded. America cashed out huge, I mean billions upon Billions from the Kuwaitis and the whole world. That cash was used to prop the economy as well as refurbishing the entire U.S. armed forces. You would had the deepest of recession were not for all those billions the world paid up when the emissary demanded.

Syrian P.
|
Syria
June 20, 2008

SNP in Syria writes:

It can no be said any better, nor there can be other ways to secure America National Interests than the ways Sec. Rice said it. But if you to examine this panacea in past and current U.S. Foreign Policies, one will readily believe in a fairytale about a land of pink unicorns and gold castles than the U.S. Government standing by these declared principles that secure the larger interests of Americans and not just the 0.02% that own it. Who are you kidding or who are you trying to cheat, yourselves? The Americans. Not even the Canadian and Mexican people will buy your fairytale story. What, you have a short memory, or maybe you did not suffer life long mental and physical injuries from the crimes committed by one of the hundreds, a long list of your friends and dictators that you supported and backed in the past 50 years. Will be happy to post it all and the number of Millions each murdered, a list of the devastation and treasury bankruptcies they carried out.

So it is not the lack of ideal or not knowing them, but following through on them that is really in America best National Interest.

Judy
|
Colorado, USA
June 21, 2008

Judy in Colorado writes:

The interests of the United States have to be based in ethics. In other words, we have to strive to be the good guys, not falling into the traps of torturing others when it's convenient; not violating international law and international treaties; and realizing that our national interests are achieved only when we take into account the interests of others. Given our propensity for electing people without foreign policy experience, I wish each president was required to take (and pass) a course in diplomatic history and the basic tenets of diplomacy along with taking the oath to uphold and defend the Constitution. Each of our actions in the world has consequences. We promote ethanol and world food prices rise; we fail to deal with our dependence on oil in an ethical manner (invading sovereign nations is rarely ethical) and therefore make the world a less stable place. It's in our national interest to make the world a more stable place, not increase the instability to achieve short-term goals.

Luke G.
|
United States
June 22, 2008

Luke in New England writes:

I just wrote a two-part post on China that talks a lot about American interests in relationships with other countries.

"China - The next world superpower: What are you going to do about it?"
June 18, 2008

One hundred years ago Europe was the center of the world, but since then it has become less and less significant. The United States took Europe's place, but it too, will be replaced. China is already huge in terms of population, and it is growing very fast as a world market.

Sure China has a lot of problems that are going to slow it down, but in the long run, China will win. Some of the most productive and amazing cultures in history grew up in spite of, or possibly because of, limited natural resources. Also, Europe built a manufacturing empire under a cloud of coal smoke. America made it big on petroleum fumes. China will take over the world economy even while choking on a sea of pollution. China has challenges, but will succeed.

But China's success story differs significantly from stories of the past. Although previously thought impossible, China is growing at an amazing pace under the close management of a very authoritarian government. In the past, strong governments have only been successful at killing business. The fact that capitalism can thrive in such an environment is both surprising and disturbing.

It is disturbing, because we in the West treasure the many freedoms that we have inherited and often assume that they are universal and immutable. These freedoms, however, are both rare and delicate. If China continues to be successful in its growth without becoming more democratic, we could find ourselves in a very uncomfortable situation. We may find our government becoming more and more like the Chinese. After all, if it works for China maybe it will work for us.

Many argue that China has the government that it does because its culture prefers this type of system. If this is the case then maybe America and Europe have nothing to fear because our culture prefers democracy. A quick look at history shows that idea to be false. At the same time, there are thousands within China who have grown-up in the same culture and yet they are still asking for freedom. It is quite possible for people who want to be free to end up in a situation where they are not.

You may not want to force China to accept democracy, but you should at least consider the possibility of helping those who want democracy, if for no other reason than because China may soon be choosing your form of government.

Before you run off and start calling on the military to force China to convert to democracy, let me just say, use of force would not help, and it is not an option anyway. The combined forces (if you could get them to fight together) of Europe, America, and the Middle East could not even defend themselves in a war against China and its allies.

So what are we going to do?

I will talk a little more about that tomorrow. In the mean time, I would love to hear your thoughts on the topic.

I also would like to mention to any of my patriotic Chinese friends that might be reading this that I am not advocating the over-throw of the government. I have a very deep love for China, and its people, even the people within the government. Fighting is not the best option in this case. I hope for great success for China, and look forward to a much richer and more powerful China. I only hope that the People's Party will learn to love the people as much as I do.

and

"A Democratic China: The big dream and how you can help"
June 19, 2008

Yesterday, I presented a future that half of the world fears and half eagerly anticipates, a future in which China dominates the world both politically and economically. Today I will talk a little about what our options are in response to this huge change. While there are many goals we could choose in relation to China, I believe that democracy is a necessary first step that will make possible other desirable goals, such as a pursuit of human rights and basic freedoms, better economic opportunity for the under-privileged, and a cleaner and safer environment. As I mentioned yesterday, this affects not only China but also touches every person on earth. So, today I will be focusing primarily on ways to bring democracy and freedom to China.

For those who approve of China's current government and are applauding it's rise, let me just mention that even the best systems have room for improvement. I would love to have you along for the conversation. Together we can make China even better.

To those of you who would like to see a change in China, we must first deal with the fact that a large majority of the population prefer the government that they have. We must deal with a natural loyalty to what is familiar, a system of education that encourages intense nationalism, and a natural resentment of anyone or any nation that tries to force their culture on another. Any proposed solution that does not address these issues is doomed for failure from the start.

Keeping these two ideas in mind let us look at a few strategies proposed by various groups in the West.

Strategy One - Starve them into submission: This strategy seems to be popular among the most outspoken members of society. If someone does wrong they should be punished. What better way to punish an evil government than to deny them the opportunity to tax your trade with that country. And, who knows? Maybe the people will get hungry and decide they do not like their government any more. It works in America. We always take credit when the market is up and blame the government when it comes back down. But will it work for China?

In theory, this sounds like it should work, but in practice it has not. Cuba, North Korea, and many others have survived sanctions for a very long time and have even become more hardened because of it. Sanctions always hit the poor and weak the hardest, leaving the powerful and wealthy, the controllers of the government, untouched.

The only way sanctions could work is if they were sudden enough to shock the nation into extreme action in an already unstable environment. We really do not want to risk starting another civil war in China. Sudden and radical change in China could result in hundreds of millions of people getting killed, and the last civil war just moved China from one authoritarian government to another.

Remember also that the government controls the media, and cutting off trade would simply be explained as an attack on China and might even trigger a military response. It would also cut off our only line of communication with one-sixth of the world population.

Besides the high probability that attempting this with China would not work, it would also cripple the US and Europe as we are now quite dependent on Chinese products and capital. As the old saying goes, "this is like cutting off your nose to spite your face."

Strategy two: Use political pressure, sometimes accompanied by a threat or actual use of force: Political pressure actually works. Thanks to China wanting to be part of the WTO and to host the Olympics, they have responded to at least some of the "requests" made by other nations. As the most powerful nation on Earth, it only makes sense that America should be using its power to establish a democratic empire around the world. Or, does it?

One problem with this strategy is that for every concession China makes, they find two other ways to suppress freedom. Political pressure does not work against a country that has learned to respond positively in public and then privately run in the opposite direction. The second problem is that China is growing fast and will soon be in a position to ignore the demands of other nations. They already hold more power than most people realize.

In America, we see strikers winning against powerful organizations. We see one man taking on a huge corporation and winning. We focus on the power of the individual, we start to think that David will always defeat the Giant. We forget that those strikers and those individuals were successful because of the protection and assistance of a much more powerful force - a nation filled with people determined not to let the little guy get bullied. China is rapidly approaching the point where they no longer have to bow to the wishes of the decaying West. At that point those with little power will have no defender.

A third problem is that the Chinese highly value their pride. Saving face is something that is universally important, but it is especially important to the Chinese. The harder we push the less they will be able to give without losing face. Political pressure in this environment is actually counter-productive. Because of this, political pressure is the most dangerous of the options available, and yet if used correctly, is an important part of the solution.

Strategy three: Isolate ourselves and let them do whatever they want. They are a sovereign nation and so are we. There is an ocean between us (deserts and mountains in Europe's case). What they do there is their own business. Or, is it?

I am not even going to talk about moral responsibility and such, because people who make this suggestion consider national sovereignty to be a higher value than human rights blather. Instead, lets look at the practical implications of this approach.

First, if we leave China alone, will they leave us alone? China has given every indication of aspiring to world domination. Also, they own billions of dollars of US debt and reserves. They are not going to let us just walk away from that debt. They could easily buy California and France, setup a military presence, and force us to re-open our markets to their business people like Commodore Perry did in Japan 150 years ago.

Second, America and the rest of the nations in the West lack the strength to act as sovereign nations now. They lack strength militarily, economically and emotionally to be able to make it on their own. It would take a united world effort to isolate China which would take us back to strategy one which is not quite what those suggesting strategy three have in mind.

A closely related idea is to let them do what they want in their own sovereign nation and continue to fund the killing and illegal (even by their laws) imprisonment through trade that enriches party members. The only problem I see with this is that the world is getting smaller and what we allow in one nation will eventually be done where we live, and I guess that would even be fine if you plan to join the World Wide Communist Party. That goes back to yesterday's topic of why democracy is important.

Strategy four: Find ways to communicate with Chinese leadership about the benefits they personally could enjoy by adopting democracy. If the Communist Leadership sees that democracy is a better way to achieve their goals they will switch. The current leadership is not loyal to ideas. They are loyal to their own self-interests. But, is democracy the best option for the current leaders and can anyone demonstrate this to them?

First lets look at some benefits:

Leaders of democratic nations experience much longer and more enjoyable retirements than their dictatorial counterparts. Leaders in an authoritarian government, especially those close to the top, tend to get shot shortly before retirement.

At least some democratic leaders are genuinely loved by their people. If you do not let people say what they really think, you will never know whether you are really liked or not, and few dictators are liked anyway.

Democratic leaders at least have a chance at a good legacy in the history books. As a dictator, you may be treated with respect while you are still in power but after your death the historians will tear you to shreds.

The more democratic you are and the more you support human rights, the bigger your market will be. There are still thousands who refuse to buy from China while it allows sweat-shops and punishes people for trying to make things better. Gaining the moral high ground opens doors of opportunity that China can only dream about now.

Giving people a chance to choose their leaders increases loyalty and obedience to the laws, which frees the thought police to form a Chinese Madison Avenue.

And there are several more, but this at least establishes the idea that democracy has it is advantages, even for a former dictator. It is possible that they know this and are just trying to find the best way to make the transition. By focusing on communicating the benefits of democracy without trying to force them to change, we give them a chance to make the decision on their own, which allows them to save face. The current leadership did not choose this form of government. They inherited it, so they may not mind changing it a bit.

So we know that switching to Democracy would be in the best interest of the current CCP leadership, and have reason to believe that they might be open to the change. The only question left is, "Who is going to be brave enough to spend hours, months, or even years to win each leader over to the idea, and help them develop a plan for transition?"

Will you?

Or will you at least help those who are willing?

JOE
|
Tennessee, USA
June 22, 2008

Joe in Tennessee writes:

1. Unfortunately, Administration policy changes resulting from different views on serving America's interest in relation to the rest of the worlds do change. Sometimes they have to change with the alterations of Administrations and leadership, economics or civil unrest in other countries we deal with. Primary objectives are clearly written in the DOS policy and the Logan Act is supposed to protect the corporate interest from being involved politically. It is not what has happened throughout the world. From German interest charging people outside of Johannesburg, who have no income, for water in return for their legally held land to the present oil crisis that has had an economic devastation world wide. It is not Governments for the most part, but the lack of policing the economic system.

2. Given that, much of the problems which have developed are from Corporations world wide and not specific Governments. We all tend to confuse them because of Country of Origin. In this case, our Separation of Powers vested in the Department Of Justice is supposed to intervene...as they are now doing in the Montague crisis here and did with Enron. The downside is that they cannot perform this function until the damage is done. The largest problem in the judicial system world wide is reparation to victims. That is not just a US concern or problem.

3. NARCO dollar. That is a world issue which is not displayed by anyone, including the Russians. It was Greece at one point, Lebanon held arms at one time; they shift the Dark side of this economic system perpetually. These are calls of powers which are not in control of any specific government totally. They Never have been and as long as there is a demand, there will be a market which must be supported.

Yes, we have are problems here that need addressing, but many people are still trying to get here for a reason. That is common sense which you cannot deny. The fact America is trying to make many of the countries people are fleeing more democratic when possible is to ease the burden it now has on America as a whole. Let me ask you this: If it were not for America, where would the rest of the world be right now? Take away all the food programs, building, education and military protection: where would the world be? Disposing and demonstrating a greater good does not help anyone and America is a Greater Good. I believe that regardless of my personal situation.

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
June 22, 2008

Eric in New Mexico writes:

SNP,

I think you could turn over every rock in Afghanistan and still be looking for a mythical pipeline, that's why I didn't bother mentioning it. If one ever were to be built, I'm sure it wouldn't be crammed down Afghan throats, because they tend to react rather badly to anything so disrespectful as that...as the Soviets found out.

Secondly, If you wish to get hypothetical and discus conspiracy theory...let's get creative here...all that was de-bunked years ago, and I won't waste my time with it.

I would offer this as a thought...if, and I say IF Saddam were indeed "set up" as such.

Who would have had more motivation to do so than the Iranian government? Folks been weaving carpets in Iran for thousands of years, you do not think them capable of creating ethnic mayhem between Suni and Shia in Iraq today via "false flag" car bombings and attacks on mosques??

You speak of dictators America has "supported". indeed we have had relations with idiots and worse, but I think you'll find that two things were consistant. a) The US pressured them on human rights and b) the relationship with the dictator was to have access for America to have a decent relationship with the people, provide aid, and through them believed positive peaceful change was possible at their hands. generally only when a leader of a nation becomes dangerously stupid did we take action.

What is not in our national interest is to precipitously disengage from conflict. The results have cost millions of lives.

However SNP, A people must always be vigilent themselves that no leader come from among them to become such a monster.

So I must ask you, as it seems you silently imply that perhaps we should have removed them from power as an alternative to what they ended up doing? Asumming we could read minds, eh?

Then what do you suppose we should do with the tinfoil hat wearing dictator that runs your country?

I say this once again: It is a far braver man that lays down his weapons and walks a path to peace, than the one who clings to his weapons in fear of peace.

Your Assad does not strike me as being a brave man, but I hope he finds enough courage with Olmert to pull a "Ghadaffi".

Otherwise you just might consider stocking up on bottled water and canned goods after you read this article.

By the way, I do not lie, for that is what propaganda is, a lie. I have no reason to, for I'm the last person that would want to see a nuclear weapon detonated again in war, by anyone...including us.

Syria, NKorea helped Iran develop nuclear programme: German report
Sunday, 22 June 2008
BERLIN (AFP) Damascus and Pyongyang helped Iran to develop its nuclear programme through the construction of a suspected nuclear site in Syria that Israel destroyed last September, Der Spiegel reported.

But the Syrian president Bashar al-Assad is considering withdrawing his support for the Iranian programme, added the German newsweekly in its next edition out Monday, quoting German secret service reports.

According to those intelligence reports, it said, a joint plan by Syria, North Korea and Iran for a nuclear reactor for military use was to have been developed at the Al-Kibar site in the east of Syria.

The site -- to be inspected next week by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) -- was destroyed by Israeli warplanes with Washington's support. Syria denied it has military purposes.

The reports cited by Der Speigel claimed that North Korea was to help Iranian scientists to advance their nuclear programme, and that Al-Kibar was to have been used as a temporary site for Iran to develop a nuclear bomb until it was able to do so on its own territory.

The plan was discussed during a visit by Iranian President Mamhoud Ahmadinejad to Syria in 2006, according to the magazine.

The three countries also cooperated in the production of chemical weapons, said Der Speigel, quoting the same source. At the time of an explosion at a chemical site in July 2007, 15 Syrian soldiers, 12 Iranian engineers and three North Koreans were among the victims.

Ten months after the destruction of the Al-Kibar site, on the basis of allegations that a nuclear reactor was being built there with the aid of North Korea, the IAEA said it was sending experts to Syria to investigate.

Documents and detailed photographs supplied in April by Washington to the IAEA backed up the suspicions, but Syria rejected the allegations describing them as "ridiculous."

Iran and Syria, both parties to the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, signed a memorandum of cooperation at the end of May on the two countries' "independence and territorial integrity."

The alliance between the two regional neighbours, which goes back to the 1979 Iranian revolution, was strengthened in 2006 with the signing of an agreement on military cooperation.

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
June 22, 2008

Eric in New Mexico writes:

Judy, I think half of America has fallen for the guilt trips our detractors offer as propaganda as they work hard to build the means to our destruction.

I for one have not.

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
June 22, 2008

Eric in New Mexico writes:

Luke In New England,

I have a better solution to good US/China relations:

Real simple...If the Chinese leadership were to give Mr. Bush their secret to creating 25 million new jobs per year just to stay even with unemployment levels in an expanding population base.

Now that would be quite the trick being that we're lucky to create 5 million new jobs in a good year.

I think rather than take some kind of adversarial position in China's case, it is far more profitable in the long run to see the changes in human rights we would like to see happen in China through friendly dialoge, common sense, and economic cooperation on issues that are problematic between us, along with continuity in our common strategic interests for peace and stability in the region being undertaken in the 6 party framework...things will only get better between us rather than worse.

When one considers the change in tone from the time of the EP3 incident at the beginning of Mr. Bush's first term in office, it has been already quite a remarkable turnaround in bilateral relations.

In fact, China has undertaken to improve its relations with all of its neigbors, including Taiwan.

Why? Because China realized an adversarial status quo no longer served their national interest.

Syrian P.
|
Syria
June 23, 2008

SNP in Syria writes:

@ Eric in New Mexico -- Nuclear weapons are useless, they provides no security whatsoever. They were an effective deterrent in very special circumstance, with specific criteria's and time period, this not necessarily can be duplicated effectively in other strategic situations. In Syria case they are utterly useless. A gang of commandos, well trained and equipped with high-tech asymmetric technologies can accomplish Syria's national goals much more effectively than nuke or WMD. Syria is ruled by the Baath party in a facade that was built by the late Hafez Assad and now run by his son Bashar Assad. No one knows who advises the President, I can assure you SNP leadership don't have a say in anything transpiring in Syria. If we did, Syria will be looking more like Dubai than the mud huts of Iran under the Mullahs or Magnitogorsk under the Soviet. It will be the premier investment opportunity country and the place to tour and live, just a bit like heaven, a California that is not part of the Union.

SNP support Iran's nuclear program primarily, because it is their recognized right under International Laws and treaties to engage in such a research and development. Israel already maintains a nuke stockpile, produce illegally, in violation of those treaties. We also resent Jewish and American double standard and what appears to be a deliberate policy to keep countries of the Middle East backward and under submission. Should the Iranian work and develop a nuke, it is useless, it will not offer them any security or leverage, not as much as declaring publicly that any attack on Iran will result in immediate and corresponding attack on oil/gas facilities and pipelines throughout the Middle East, including Iraq. This is an effective deterrent in Iran?s case, bankrepting the world economy within 30 minutes of an attack on Iran is something every leader on the globe will ponder, if his country should be part of any such crazy idea. Additionally, nukes are readily available for sale, surprisingly there is no buyer and that have driven prices rock bottom in the past 10 years. To demand from Syria or Iran not to engage in research and development is ridiculous, one can easily get jolted into wondering why, what is behind this irrational and illegal demand.

The concept of engagement with dictators and those that plunder the wealth of a nation or carry out archaic policy that will result in the country devastation is absurd and cunning. It is a cop out and covers to profit from sad situation under the guise of engagement to have some control over relation. Face it, it never succeeded in 50 years, not once. Don't you and others keep throwing the Kaddafi rag in our face? You did not have to engage Kaddafi; the coward was trembling at the knees himself and surrendered out of fear, not wanting engagement but surrender. He already knows the taste of American bomb, during Reagan days and lost a child in that bombing. He was not going to take 2 decade of American refinement of precision bomb on his head again. The Iranians still have not tasted the helplessness of not been able to respond effectively with fire crackers to stop the rain of terror; they are busy building cannon and shells to respond.

Here is the highlight of your propaganda: ...America has "supported." Dictators, indeed we have had relations with idiots and worse, but I think you'll find that two things were consistent. a) The U.S. pressured them on human rights and b) the relationship with the dictator was to have access for America to have a decent relationship with the people, provide aid, and through them believed positive peaceful change was possible at their hands. Generally only when a leader of a nation becomes dangerously stupid did we take action??

Bashar Assad is not your typical dictator, more of the security state variety than oppressive dictators. When African American DOS head (blanked, can not remember his name, a past military man) visited Damascus in the preparation for the Iraqi oil grab war, demanded President Assad total cooperation and acceptance of the plan, Assad replied that it is not possible for him to do so, the people will not accept that decision. DOS head replied: What do you care about them, you are a dictator, lock up all those that disagree with you and throw the keys away. I can imagine what you told Pol Pot, we don?t care that you committed genocide and killed 5 million of your countrymen, we just need this from you and you can kill few millions more if that is what it will take. I guess this is what you are referring to as: pressure the dictator for human rights.LOL and LOL. Enough propaganda Eric lets solve issues and make agreement, it is not 1950 anymore, and the Comis are now far richer than Americans and have a real free society as well. In practice, not in slogans to be bought and sold by corn farmers in Iowa, straw hut dwellers in Philippine, cardboard box mansions in Tijuana or surfers in Florida.

Dan
|
District Of Columbia, USA
June 23, 2008

Dan in Washington, DC writes:

I work at the State Department, but my comments represent my own personal views and do not represent the official views of the U.S. Department of State.

Re: defining U.S. national interests, here is a link to a website with an article that I established back in 2004 -- before the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the subsequent U.S. launch of the "global war on terrorism." Thus, while some of what I wroted is dated, I believe that many of my ideas should and do continue to inform U.S. foreign policy and America's national interests.

In article hosted on this web site, I proposed an new name and a new agenda for U.S. foreign policy -- to work toward a "Fair Peace." See:
http://web.archive.org/web/20040210181109/http://www.fairpeace.org/

John
|
Greece
June 24, 2008

John in Greece writes:

@ SNP in Syria -- How many dictators were helped by Russia or China in the past?

How many of them are still receiving “help in order to make anti-American propaganda"? (Cuba, Venezuela, etc.)

You write, "…and the Comis are now far richer than Americans and have a real free society as well."

If by "Comis" you mean ex- Soviets or communists in general …it’s the first time I "meet" this word- I feel like asking you:

Are you sure?

A free society in Russia?
This is crazy to support! There are too many "killings" of free speech… you see.

Rich?
How many of them are wealthy?
1% of the ex-KGB members, as they were used to do?

JOE
|
Tennessee, USA
June 24, 2008

Joe in Tennessee writes:

My posting must have come when you were prompting the new page; though some of it is applicable... it was in response to another posting from last week.

1. Fiscal stability first and foremost: We need to address our home front to reflect what we project better at this junction. From our National Debut to Disparity in the monetary population base for example. The Department of Justice is doing its part; but, we do need to set up some better constraints so specific population bases are not hurt more than others with no enumeration. It makes us look hypocritical.

2. A solid stand on Free Trade which is fair to all sides. We cannot call it Fair Trade when there is a large disparity in ownership criteria and economic Country sanctions. There is no competition if the variances are too far apartãas with China.

3. Realistic and broader Approaches to peace worldwide. I.e.: When we initiate a refugee camp it is there for the stability and has a control infrastructure. Why not work to build a NEW city or town in these established areas as there is now a collective formed and positive projection for the children? Why send them back to towns uncontrolled and even if political stability occurs it will change on a moments notice? It simply puts them back to square one with the same fears and lack of direction. Why are there not National and International Food banks that grow and store basic food commodities completely nonprofit, but do provide payment for work, in stable countries or areas for this specific purpose? Cut out the profit farming completely from being a control impute as it puts too much control in Non Governmental policies. Hunger and peace are synonymous and should not be a profit situation given the overall objective of feeding the poor and stabilization. It is counter productive both internally and externally.

4. Our National Defense is paramount. Unfortunately we are not the Peace Corps of the world but there are fanatical and irresponsible leaders who will invade any Peace initiative which may affect their control or beliefs. The problem of WMDs to these leaders must be dealt with as swiftly as possible when all talks fail. It bothers me to think of the words that someone once told me: ...Why build them if we aren't going to use them? It is just a matter of who uses them first... Here we are 30 years later and the threat is actually greater due to the people who have control of these weapons or are building them. This is the worlds most emanate and immediate threat of human flaws in devastation that will be non retractable or corrective due to a poor reaction response. We need to have as much interaction with all world powers and consolidate a philosophy and platform that all will adhere to and eliminate those who will not.

I like the projection of a newer philosophy base; unfortunately, there is the realistic resurgence of polarization between our country and other world powers that must be circumvented for this to succeed. Be they maneuvering for control, elimination of the US as a world power or simply expanding, we have polarization now. Therefore, change may not be advisable.

It is great to see an actual DOS representative respond to a question and that the projection of a world peace ideology as primary directive, rather than the constant defensive posturing which the world sees in wonderful. The unfortunate part is the fact the DOS is in a similar position as the Dept. of Justice in that there is so much conflict, they do not get a chance to have the Olive Branch work on the forefront to the press and world. It is my understanding that the DOS always offers the olive branch situations first, it is simply not seen as often as it should be.

Zharkov
|
United States
June 24, 2008

Zharkov in U.S.A. writes:

"National interest" is a fiction used to justify expanding government influence beyond territorial borders. Not only does "a national interest" often vary with the personality of the president, it is synonymous for asserting a national obligation where none exists.

"National interest" is doublespeak because it is misleading and often means the opposite from the expected meaning. National interest is usually understood by citizens to mean a shared or collective interest of the public, a public interest, in a particular subject. It means the opposite when citizens' interests are ignored and only certain government officials have an interest in a particular outcome.

Americans share a common interest in winning the Olympic Games, but that does not imply a duty upon federal officials to fix the games in our favor. Some of us share an interest in free and fair elections in Mexico but that does not imply a duty to invade that country to ensure such result.

Our country is composed of millions of individuals whose interests are mostly unknown by federal officials because they never ask, but only a government can create a "national interest" lying outside its borders. "National interest" is used to justify action more often than to explain inaction. There is no consensus today of what "national interest" means or when it ends.

The "Terrorist in a Cave Theory": Some analysts claim that the American people share an interest in world order. So why should Americans care about order in distant parts of the globe? The usual answer is that even distant disorder can have effects that hurt, influence, or disturb the majority of people living within the United States. This view justifies U.S. military occupation of nearly every nation on earth because the wagging tongue of a revolutionary in a remote cave may result in a war somewhere else.

The "Hierarchy Theory": Ambassador Ellsworth explained the "hierarchy of importance" of America’s national interests, prioritizing them into four categories: vital, extremely important, important, and less important or secondary. The Commission on America’s National Interests in their 2000 report lists only five interests as being vital:
1. Prevent, deter, and reduce the threat of nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons attacks on the United States;
2. Prevent the emergence of a hostile hegemony in Europe or Asia;
3. Prevent the emergence of a hostile major power on U.S. borders or in control of the seas;
4. Prevent catastrophic collapse of major global economic, financial, and environmental systems; and
5. Ensure the survival of U.S. allies.

However, at least ten poor countries have major weapons-export industries. Twenty countries have the capability to make chemical weapons; fifteen are working to produce ballistic missiles; nine probably have nuclear weapons. This hierarchy of "interests" could also justify U.S. military occupation of much of the earth.

Secretary Rice gave us her view of our national interests and how to apply them: http://www.hoover.org/publications/digest/3484211.html but reconciling this with our Patriot Act, wiretapping without warrant, Abu Ghraib, extraordinary rendition, militarization of our civilian police force, internal checkpoints, and water-boarding, is impossible and sets a horrible example for governments of less developed nations we hoped to influence. When our domestic and foreign policies are wrong, our influence on other nations is wrong, therefore, bad domestic policies which violate our own Constitution are not in our "national interest".

The "Rice Theory" says we "deal decisively with the threat of rogue regimes and hostile powers, which is increasingly taking the forms of the potential for terrorism and the development of weapons of mass destruction". Is there any nation which lacks a "potential" terrorist - perhaps the Vatican?

Under current theories, our national interest in survival is best served by U.S. military occupation of all foreign nations. Yet that is impossible to sustain without serious damage to America. So the first question is not how national interest might rank or fit into a formula but "why is this a U.S. problem?”

Unless this threshold question can be answered affirmatively in great detail and with corresponding benefits to American citizens from work on it, there is no interest to rank.

One labor-saving word in the English language is the word, "No". After placing real U.S. national interest problems in a hierarchy, simply write "No" after every problem below "extremely important", and either allow the UN to earn it's pay by debating endlessly the lesser problems that the U.S. can no longer afford to deal with, or delegate it to another country able to deal with the problem. We cannot solve every problem and we generate a vast amount of animosity when we pretend that we can and then do not.

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
June 24, 2008

Eric in New Mexico writes:

@ SNP in Syria -- SNP, I suggest you do a little reading starting with the Country Background Notes:

http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/

It's not hard for anyone interested to see how you twist historical fact. But perhaps you believe what you do because you haven't bothered to research the truth for yourselves.

In any case, if you have a problem with it, It doesn't serve your argument to simply wish it away as "propaganda".

In the interests of context, being that it may be useful for folks to understand the post you originally responded to, I've pulled the URL from the archives. Plus it will give me the chance to respond to CID's post.

http://blogs.state.gov/index.php/entires/natural_resources_foreign_policy/

@ CID in France -- CID in France wrote:

"Syrians living impovrished and threatened by Israeli-American backed Baath Party security and military apparatus for more than 45 years under this slogan " Baathye, Baathye, Baathye, Ahdafuna, One Arab Nation with one Arab Eternal Messege). If Americans and Israeli thinks Syrians should, must and can live for 40 more years hearing this, then you should accept Americans living the same hearing Death to America for as long.

Should Israel or United States attack Iran, it will not be just Islamists from Arab Countries fighting you in Iraq and Israel on all fronts, but few million Syrians and Lebanese as well shall come to Iran defense. So please, do not make the same miscalculation you did during the Iraq invasion planning, plan right this time will you."

---

SNP, I'm guessing these letters stand for "Syrian Nationalist Party" or some such, please do feel free to elaborate if I'm incorrect.

I think I know my nation and people just a bit better than you do. I'm also fully aware of what we are capable of doing if the situation demands.

What I said regarding Assad "pulling a Ghaddaffi" and getting out of the WMD buisiness and renouncing terrorism as state policy is essential to any dreams you may have of seeing Syria ever become as prosperous as Dubai.

For the alternative is to become witness to your nation being placed back into the horse and buggy days in about 15 seconds without touching a hair on anyone's head directly. Although it would be fair to say it will be a hair raising experience should that option become essential to eliminating any and all offensive capability of either Syria or Iran, or both at once. As well as the fact that we could come back the next day and do it again if needed.

After which, it would take a decade or more to restore the infrastructure to previous levels.

To think of nuclear weapons applications in the classic Hiroshima style is "old school" thinking. If you think what I claim here to be untrue, do your own research into it.

It will be pretty hard for folks to sustain any asymetric activities when no one is able to supply Hizbollah and others the bullets for their guns.

I would suggest that if you can't remember that it was Colin Powell that paid Assad a visit, then you are hardly in a position to claim you correctly recall what was said to your dear leader.

All nations have the right to the peaceful use of atomic power for electrical generation purposes. Enrichment by a nation is not nessesary for the nation to receive this benefit of modern technology.

The fuel is supplied as a part of the contract of building the power plant. Spent nuclear fuel is then returned to the point of origin, again under contract.

So, you may support Iran in this, but remember that they are currently enriching nuclear material for reactors that do not exist, and won't for at least a decade. It is this inexplicable fact that has convinced a lot of folks that the enrichment is not being done for peaceful purposes. Completely aside from other tell tale evidence of weaponization activities.

When Assad builds a reactor that is not connected to an electric grid, does so in secret, and continues to pretend nothing was going on.... denying full IAEA access...you have a very big problem on your hands.

If Assad wishes to become the reason why Syria may soon come to a sudden a screeching halt as a nation, then so be it. It will be on his head, not ours.

Same with Iran.

If you ever wish to see a peacefull WMD-free zone in the Mideast, you should rethink your position in these matters.

The path to peace is clearly presented to give ethical infants the choice whether to take that path or not.

I would invite Dan from DC to opine on these matters of national interest, considering the education he has had.

Ronald B.
|
New York, USA
June 24, 2008

Ronald in U.S.A. writes:

America's national interest is human security. A balanced approach should be acheived at home and once reached, can be shared around the world.

The goal: to be safe and comfortable at home and anywhere around the world.

Zharkov
|
United States
June 24, 2008

Zharkov in U.S.A. writes:

Potential adversaries can be turned into friends on the basis of a "Golden Rule" approach to "national interest" that does not require taxpayer dollars to be shipped to dictators. A policy of mutually-assured destruction can be reversed into mutually-assured kindness. Syria is one example of a nation that could be our best friend or worst enemy depending on the mutual attitudes of our respective governments.

American (or more accurately, our bureaucracy's) "national interest" in universal democratization of other nations can be achieved when America leads by example. Nations should want to follow our example because it works for their citizens. For them to want democracy to work for their citizens, our democracy must be proven to work for our citizens - the ones who lawfully vote and not the ones who wish to buy influence.

America's future may depend on whether other nations believe our ideals are worth saving, because our immense military power cannot last indefinitely. American national interests are best protected by being friends with the people of other nations to the extent they allow.

"The Golden Rule" limits our aggression in trying to change the way other governments do business. If such governments see themselves failing, while those more aligned with our ideals succeed, they will adopt our ideals in their own unique way, which they should be allowed to do without incessant criticism from us, just as we hope to realign our government toward more the more libertarian, self-sufficient ideals of our founders without criticism from them.

Not all governments are reasonable, and some African governments need to be overthrown by their people or their peers in order to grow into a new democracy, but not to be ruled by a U.S. Africa Command. And why is there a US Africa Command? Does anyone in Congress or the Executive Branch seriously question why we need a U.S. African Command in Africa? Is it because we think Africa needs U.S. military occupation or training? Is martial law our ultimate export to Africa? Is another military government in Africa our way of being "on the right side of history"? Would not political training in respecting civilian control of the military and democratic or parliamentary rule be more appropriate for indigenous African military commanders?

The "Golden Rule" is not for everyone. As awful as the Rhodesian situation has become, the US government supported Mugabe's rise to power and our judgement on that occasion was incredibly bad. Mugabe became prime minister and was toasted by the international community and media as a new sort of African leader. Andrew Young was quoted at the time as saying, "I find that I am fascinated by his intelligence, by his dedication. The only thing that frustrates me about Robert Mugabe is that he is so damned incorruptible", said Jimmy Carter's UN ambassador to the Times of London in 1978.

The Carter administration, the Labour government in Britain, and the international left all insisted that Mugabe and Nkomo be part of the negotiating process - on its face a concession to terrorism - both guerrilla leaders pledged violence against any black Zimbabwean who dared take part in the April balloting. Nkomo called for a "bloodbath."

A year earlier Nkomo had ridiculed the "all party nonsense" advocated by the moderate black leaders and said, "We mean to get that country by force, and we shall get it." Mugabe, not to be outdone, issued a public death list of 50 individuals associated with the internal settlement, including the three black leaders of the executive council. ZANU described these individuals as "Zimbabwean black bourgeoisie, traitors, fellow-travelers, and puppets of the Ian Smith regime, opportunistic running-dogs and other capitalist vultures." Mugabe also expressed his belief that "the multiparty system is a luxury" and said that if Zimbabwean blacks did not like Marxism, "then we will have to reeducate them."

This was the same Mugabe whom Andrew Young, in that 1978 interview with the Times of London, had called "a very gentle man," adding, "I can't imagine Joshua Nkomo, or Robert Mugabe, ever pulling the trigger on a gun to kill anyone. I doubt that they ever have."

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Zharkov
|
United States
June 24, 2008

Zharkov in U.S.A. writes:

America lied to Rhodesia's citizens and they believed us. Now they must help themselves and not expect the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force to magically appear tomorrow to rescue them unless we are willing to actually follow through and do it. Eisenhower made the mistake of implying more than he was willing to deliver in Eastern Europe and a lot of good Czech citizens were killed as a result of his error. Kennedy made the same mistake at the Bay of Pigs and again the bravest Cuban patriots were killed. Israel risks the same mistake in attacking Iran, if it does, in the hopes of US rescue should that mission backfire into a wider war across the middle east.

America must stop promising more than we are willing to deliver, and we must stop bankrupting our country trying to solve the world's problems as if they were our own - some are not - and we have to respect our limitations. A "national interest" should not become a synonym for national obligation.

The fact that all 16 U.S. intelligence agencies concluded last November that Iran stopped nuclear weapons-related work in 2003 and has not restarted it, suggests that Iran's uranium enrichment is of little or no national interest to the US. (Source - Ray McGovern, CIA analyst for 27 years.)

How does Switzerland deal with the Iranian threat? Luxembourg? Brazil?

How worried is Saudi Arabia over a nuclear-armed Iran and what do they intend to do about it?

Iran's nuclear plans are an obvious concern Iran's neighbors and Europe, and Russia. Iran should remain their problem, not ours. They are in a better position to end Iran's nuclear weapons ambitions because they could be the first target if they fail. They receive radioactive fallout from nuclear testing. It is their groundwater that will be tainted by atomic fission. If they are not going to take action against Iran, then let's move on to a more urgent problem that actually is within the American national interest.

Should our military power expand the range of our national interests?

Which part of our constitution authorizes U.S. military bases in 132 other countries?

It is in America's national interest to tell the American people the truth, always, and there are many unanswered questions. Does the deployment of our military power around the world define what is in our "national interest", and are we not making a similar mistake that destroyed the Roman Empire?

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
June 24, 2008

Eric in New Mexico writes:

Zharkov,

Iran has become everyone's problem. They chose to become that at their own government's instructions.

As I said before on another thread Zharkov, "don't hang your hat on some politically skewed NIE".

---Read on---

On February 14, 2005 a leading member of Iran's Hizbollah, Hojjat-ol-Islam Baqer Kharrazi after years of silence delivered a harsh speech against the reformists and the administration in Iran, Iran Emrooz reported.

"I kept silent over the past 14 years, because Hizbollah needed to be restructured and I was busy with training the forces. Although no Iranian media reflected Hizbollah leaders' recent meeting with head of Iran's State Expediency Council, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, I should say we elaborated on Hizbollah's activities for Rafsanjani in detail and the former president was amazed with our progress." Kharrazi claimed.

"We don't need any guardian. And if necessary we will select our own president, ministers and parliament members. For without the Hizbollah forces the Islamic Revolution will collapse from within." the hardliner added.

Referring to the Sunni population in Iran's western, eastern and southern borders, Kharrazi said: "Presently the country's borders are controlled by Sunnis. We have to counter their growth in the country."

On Iran's nuclear issue, Kharrazi noted: "We have oil, gas and all other natural resources and thus we don't need interaction with other countries. We are able to produce atomic bombs and we will do that. We shouldn't be afraid of anyone. The US is no more than a barking dog"

---end article--

This and other statements since Amanidijad took office through a soft-sell military coup in 2005 (and by soft-sell I point to 2005 capaign posters in English as eye candy for the western press of a faux electorial process. The appointment of Rev. Guard in 18 of 22 ministerial positions, and subsequent appontments of Rev guard to civil positions accross the board on the local level across Iran) are just one telltale sign the coup has been ongoing and that the quote above was not in jest, and shows intent.

I think it behooves us as Americans to be completely accurate in our understanding of this situation regardless of which side of the political spectrum any of us comes from.

Zharkov
|
United States
June 25, 2008

Zharkov in U.S.A. writes:

What do you know for certain?

Are politician's speeches your main source of news?

Saddam reportedly claimed Iraq had WMD when it did not, to prevent Iran from invading Iraq. Our federal officials omitted to mention this to us so far but maybe they will get around to mentioning it sometime after next January?

Would Hezbollah claim to be more powerful than it is when Iran faces attack by nuclear powers? Of course.

When did Iran place Hezbollah in charge of Iran's nuclear research?

If Iran's government is truthful in saying it has no desire to develop nuclear weapons, then whose problem is Iran?

If Israel attacks Iran, should America open a third front in the war, to prevent the destruction of Israel and can we afford a third war?

Or should we be open and honest and say, if you attack Iran, America may not be there when you need us if President Obama so decides?

Syrian P.
|
Syria
June 25, 2008

SNP in Syria writes:

@ Eric in New Mexico -- You are asking SNP members to click on U.S. Media or GOV weblink to get info. That is like reading PRAVDA (means truth in English) in Brezhnev era..No thanks. Eric, you have no idea about your Nation or People, you are still living in 1950 world, on the island of Kiojima, and you are a miracle survivor to this day.

That is what the U.S. Secretary of State said to our President Bashar Assad, per verbatim. It is not that I don't remember his name, more like I don't want to ever remember his name.

But thank you, Domo Arigatto, for threatening the countries of Syria and Iran with your awesome nukes (Hiroshima style) another reason for these countries to hurry up in the stockpile.

But Eric, you see, in the Fifties few countries had fancy WMD, other than nuke. Now days in 2008 (I know time go slow in NM watching black corn growing), you have Tom, Dick and Harry, or Abdul, Ahmad and Mustafa that have Harvard PHD educations in molecular biology and NANO technologies, they can on an hour notice concoct the worst of potions. Let me educate you, how thing are in 2008. Eric, a pound of pure powder can wipe the entire modern metropolitan population out, and it will cost about $3000 to produce. Imagine there are countries in this world that have few thousand tons in exotic potions. You do not need missiles and secret black project bombers to deliver the final solution that is more effective than Hiroshima, a well trained Chiwawa puppy will do the job effectively. Hiroshima, the U.S. pride of achievement is now considered stupid act by modern day strategists. Not much will be left in the aftermath and you could not occupy the land. On the other hand, using powder, you get ready of the bad people and take all the land, cities and wealth intact.

SNP strives to build a peaceful environment in the Levant region, its aim is Peace, Prosperity, and Progress. Day by day we see the deception all around us, we see a million lies fabricated to invade other countries, rob their resources and enslave them. We see double standard and 8 years of Democracy drive that left 1.2 million Iraqis dead. We hear freedom and democracy and we see, shear evil terror, rape, murder, refugees, theft, corruption, death all around us. No one buying your threats and neither any promises. You are morally and spiritually bankrupt. Stop watching Black corn grow in N.M. and start watching online the U.S. debt clock, you may have the minimal intelligence to figure out that you are in fact financially heading into total bankruptcy as well. Don't worry, nations will not line up to buy your nuke stockpile like they did when the Soviet collapsed, they are already stocked up and have no use for it, except to defend themselves from the bankrupt Americans that will kill a whole nation for a bucket of oil perhaps.

Fortunately for mankind Eric, you do not have a monopoly on mass genocides anymore as in the 50s.

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
June 25, 2008

Eric in New Mexico writes:

@ Zharkov in U.S.A. -- Zharkov, Politicians don't "train forces." Irainian Hizbollah is the proud father of Lebanese Hizbollah, so you may appreciate a little analysis I dug up just now.

Seems I'm not the only one who is taking a hard look at intent.
http://corner.nationalreview.com/post/?q=NWUxZjA0NmNkZmY4MTBlZWNjMGY2MjI...

I don't have all the answers to your questions. Some of which are in the realm of decisions that must be made by those we elect to lead us. And those who lead this nation now.

I would suggest to you that you have just read part of the reason why the Iranian Rev. Guard Quods Force was declared by Congress to be a Terrorist Org.

Kind of hard to dismiss this little "confession" as "propaganda" when it comes from the horse's mouth, eh?

I think you'll find the IAEA has some info on this as well.

JOE
|
Tennessee, USA
June 25, 2008

Joe in Tennessee writes:

It would be nice if there were a separate debate blog for certain issues as there are many right and many wrong identifications related to some answers. Some would actually require histology of events which show interconnection and that could take hours if not days.

Presupposition of negative world events is what the DOS is about to a very large degree and the information base is quite strong -- because we do have feet to the ground. Not because we do not.

Iran is a problem because of stability reasons. It is not the average citizen of Iran or business men who are problematic, but Napoleonic and Fanatical figures who are not mentally stable to begin with that lead the people. Do not confuse the American Democratic method of elections to feel these leaders are actually chosen by the people.

Would you want President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as the head of your personal household? My God, listen to his ravings and speeches.

Z, as far as your concerned, let me put it on a level you may understand: Randy Newman, an American song writer has a line in a new release: "The worst Leaders of America are nowhere close to the worst leaders of the rest of the worlds history."

Move if you don't like it, or get involved in actual politics and change where you are to begin with. If nothing else, stop the negative and show a productive alternative. Anyone can find faultsãit takes intelligence to find plausible solutions.

You take American Policy out of the worlds equation and what is left?

Zharkov
|
United States
June 25, 2008

Zharkov in U.S.A. writes:

Major General Doug Stone has the right idea in his renovation of a Baghdad prison to nearly zero-out the recidivism rate using a form of "Golden Rule" philosophy with Iraq's prisoners. It is a working miniature example of how the worst enemies can be turned into friends.

Attacking Iran is only one alternative of many, and it is not the least expensive alternative for either side and the problem with it is that it may all be over nothing because we know nothing for certain.

When a decision is extremely difficult to make, it usually is because we do not have enough facts. With additional facts, most decisions are obvious. What we need about Iran is more information, not more propaganda and bluster.

Nobody will support an Iranian bombing run without knowing for certain that it was absolutely necessary. We need facts, not speculations. If we do not set some standards for starting a war, we are no better than the guys we defeated.

james h.
|
Italy
June 26, 2008

James in Italy writes:

The first and foremost question is whether the constitution is being observed, protected and defended. All else follows from there.

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
June 26, 2008

Eric in New Mexico writes:

Zharkov, To define America's National Interest, one must include the interests of all Humanity. For that is how broadly our "National Interest" extends out into the world.

In presenting the "bottom line" to SNP as I did, one should not confuse my words as advocating military action. What some have contemplated for us can come back to them in spades.

Yes there are other alternatives, but correct choices must be made by those that have yet to make them.

And that is known for certain.

It would be more correct for you to say that you do not know anything for certain, rather than assume the US gov. to be ignorant.

The problem with taking an ostrich stance with one's head buried in the sand, is that one might as well hang a sign on your backside that says "kick me". Ignorance is not in the end run blissfull by any definition.

So educate yourself:

THE REPORT OF THE COMMISSION TO ASSESS THE THREAT TO THE U.S. FROM ELECTROMAGNETIC PULSE ATTACK

http://commdocs.house.gov/committees/security/has204000.000/has204000_0.HTM

Ask yourself why an Iranian missile test would be considered "successful" when the self destruct button was pushed just after appogee of its trajectory.

--US National Interest in action:--

"This can be a moment of opportunity for North Korea. If North Korea continues to make the right choices, it can repair its relationship with the international community -- much as Libya has done over the past few years. If North Korea makes the wrong choices, the United States and our partners in the six-party talks will respond accordingly. If they do not fully disclose and end their plutonium, their enrichment, and their proliferation efforts and activities, there will be further consequences."
-Pres. GW BUSH, June 26, 2008

http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2008/06/20080626-9.html

---

Zharkov
|
United States
June 26, 2008

Zharkov in U.S.A. writes:

SNP in Syria has a fair argument. Why should arabs trust the US government when time after time, US officials are discovered creating their problems in the first place. A brief background search reveals the US helped Iran begin its nuclear program.

The Shah was our guy. The former Shah of Iran embarked on a very ambitious nuclear program in the 1960s. He purchased a small research reactor from the United States, and sent several hundred students to the West to study nuclear physics and engineering. Starting in the mid-1970, he began signing contract with KWU of Germany and Alsthom in France to build four nuclear power reactors. As part of that power program, he advanced $1 billion to France's Framatome consortium to build the Tricastin gas diffusion uranium enrichment plant. The contract stipulated that Iran would get up to 10% of the production from that plant once it went on line.

Only one year after concluding these agreements, the Shah signed a follow-on agreement with France in 1975, to build a nuclear research center in Isfahan, complete with two research reactors. And by the end of the decade, he had devised a plan to build as many as twenty nuclear power stations across the country. If our State Department wants to know where Iran got the idea to build nukes, look into a mirror. We provided Iran with the forbidden knowledge that we now claim we need to erase by bombing Iran.

The Islamic Revolutionaries who seized power in 1979, did so initially with the Carter Administration's support encouraging Khomeini to return to Iran. By April 1984, West German intelligence sources leaked reports to the press that Iran's clandestine nuclear weapons program was so far advanced that it would be capable of producing a bomb "within two years."

Since that time, Iran has built a large nuclear research industry with many reactors scattered around the country, and it would take a massive, simultaneous attack on most of them to suspend further research, until they are rebuilt, which would probably take a few years at most. In the meantime, war in the middle east could result in oil cutoff for Europe and a financial disaster for the EU because the ability to disrupt oil delivery is the main weapon in Iran's arsenal.

It could require a US military ground invasion of Iran to end their attacks on oil tankers and port facilities in the Gulf - Israel's military is too small for that job - and Iran's neighbors are either too rich or cowardly to confront Iran with soldiers, or else they see no problem with Iran having atomic weapons. Either way, Iran should not be our problem because Iran is in their neighborhood, not ours. If Iran bothers them so much, they can do something to solve the problem. If we continue doing everything for OPEC, they will never learn how to deal with their own problems. If we are to neutralize Iran for the benefit of OPEC, can we at least send them a bill this time for the cost, or do we ruin our citizens with a continuing devaluation of their dollars to pay for it?

Iran is not "everyone's problem" because we have no conclusive proof that Iran is making atom bombs and we may never have any, but if they are to be stopped from ever making a-bombs, OPEC members can do it. OPEC has a strong financial interest in avoiding nuclear war and they are in the best position to learn whether Iran is a danger or not. There is no shortage of arab intelligence services in the middle east and there is a shortage of CIA HUMINT assets in Iran, which is the reason why we do not know for certain if a nuclear weapons research program exists or not. We may guess one exists, but we cannot go to war on mere assumptions and guesswork as we did in Iraq. The best thing Iran could do at this moment to spare itself from attack would be to allow our spies to remain doing their job instead of arresting them.

Suppose Iran had already purchased atomic bombs from another country, what could we do about that?

Why should that be a US problem instead of a problem for OPEC nations? Again we see a so-called "national interest" turned into a "national obligation" or "duty" to act militarily where none exists.

Tim
|
Maryland, USA
June 26, 2008

Tim in Maryland writes:

I disagree with Secretary Rice: "...Our security is best ensured by the success of our ideals: freedom, human rights, open markets, democracy, and the rule of law." Defining US national interests (or national security) in terms of these ideals encourages our government to make serious international mistakes (e.g., the invasion of Iraq to set up a democratic government).

I believe that we can define our national interests in pragmatic terms that we can pursue effectively as a member of the international community. I believe that our most imperative national interest is in working for a community of nations that has only legitimate, effective governments. (That means no governments that disregard the interests of their own people and no failed states.) Without legitimate, effective governments the international community will continue to be doubly confounded in its attempts to resolve issues that affect us all.

First, it is virtually impossible to negotiate anything with illegitimate governments (witness the debacles in Myanmar and Zimbabwe), and there is no point in negotiating with a failed state (i.e., a government that is too corrupt or too incompetent to implement an agreement). Second, it is the very existence of illegitimate governments and failed states that consumes the attention and resources of the international community (thus diverting resources from problems that could otherwise be solved).

There are pragmatic ways to encourage governments to become legitimate and effective. One way is to publicly identify governments that are not - and to refuse to treat them as though they were. They should not be allowed to sign treaties, vote in the U.N. or qualify for credit/loans. We in the US continue to define our foreign policy in terms of rewarding our friends and penalizing our foes - often invoking our ideals (or our current preoccupations) to justify labeling friends vs. foes. This is political grandstanding and counterproductive. Our national interests are best served by working for a community of legitimate, effective governments. I believe that's the best way to help the world community as well.

Zharkov
|
United States
June 27, 2008

Zharkov in U.S.A. writes:

"The president must remember that the military is a special instrument. It is lethal, and it is meant to be. It is not a civilian police force. It is not a political referee. And it is most certainly not designed to build a civilian society." - Condoleeza Rice

http://www.hoover.org/publications/digest/3484211.html

Lewis
|
Japan
June 27, 2008

Lewis in Japan writes:

Following the 2001 terrorist attacks, "...the United States was swept into a fundamentally different world"- a world which we suddenly recognized as being asymmetric, a flattened and borderless playing field where neither isolated geography nor enormous armies could be relied upon to keep us safe.

In this world, hard power and soft power had become equals in importance. After the 2001 attacks, we possessed both in abundance- America's hard power was evident in our swift, effective, and (most importantly) justified removal of the Taliban, while world opinion and sympathies were on our side- giving us the lion's share of soft power.

In this brave new world, we emerged into the best possible position- by building up Afghanistan into a prosperous and stable democracy, enacting justice upon the perpetrators of 9/11 (justice =/= Git'mo) and using our soft power to strengthen our diplomatic initiatives, America had the potential to enjoy an era of unrivalled popularity while simultaneously continuing unchallenged hegemony.

Then came the disastrous decision to invade Iraq. The aftermath: our soft power, sympathies and popularity are but a faint memory. Interestingly, I believe one can mirror the rise and fall of America's soft power with the peaks and valleys of Bush's popularity throughout his Presidential terms* . Following 9/11, an Everest of popularity and sympathy, only to dip into a valley as the Iraq war grinded on.

Simultaneously, world perception of our military began high- less than a month after the towers fell, American forces were on the other side of the world fighting in Kabul. Yet, our halting, uneven progress in Iraq and massive casualties suffered turned our perceived strength on it's head: America the mighty had become America the paper tiger.

Thus, we now find ourselves in 2008 far removed from our post-9/11 position. Secretary Rice mentions that "the last eight years have also challenged us to deal with rising Chinese influence..."- she rightly chides those fearful of this, but fails to notice that which we should fear: China's rise (in soft power particularly) may come at the expense of America's fall. While China will not replace America as 'the new superpower', America's rapid drop in soft power has left a vacuum which China is eagerly seeking to fill. Recent missteps (Tibet, especially) have slowed their progress but with many nations viewing China as a preferable alternative to the United States, we may find diplomatic initiatives, business transactions, national alliances and military actions blunted by a more popular, loved and respected China. Worst of all, China does not have to fill the void in soft power for America to suffer from reduced influence- simply being disliked is enough to make it difficult for American businessmen, diplomats, foreign allied nations and military commanders across the world to pursue our national interests.

With this in mind, I would like to append to Condoleeza Rice's definition of our national interests one further item. While our security largely rests upon "...the success of our ideals: freedom, human rights, open markets, democracy, and the rule of law?, I would add (in the words of Nicholas Sarkozy) that in order to ensure that these ideals succeed, America must "be more liked". Secretary Rice acknowledges the need for a "...transformation and better integration of the United States' institutions of hard power and soft power..." but understates the vitality of this task. With the Bush administration serving as a lightning rod for the negative emotions of the international community, the inauguration of the new President (regardless of who it is) will mark a pivotal moment and a prime opportunity for America to reintroduce itself to the world and strive diligently to redeem ourselves in the eyes of the world. This is a chance that we must not miss- I strongly doubt we will have another.

* http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/in_depth/6038436.stm

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