Foreign Policy Research Institute A Nation Must Think Before it Acts Editor’s Corner Summer 2008

Editor’s Corner Summer 2008

It is a great honor to assume the post of editor of this august and important journal. For over half a century Orbis has provided a critical service to both policy makers and scholars by offering a forum for the national debate concerning the most important issues facing the United States. During that time, my predecessors have maintained high standards in publishing articles that are both timely and timeless. I intend to continue that tradition.

When Harvey Sicherman approached me about assuming the editorship of Orbis, he asked me what changes I might be inclined to make. My response was the old Texas adage: ‘‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.’’ Under my editorship, Orbis will continue in its role as a policy-oriented journal. We will continue to organize each issue around a theme, as we do with this issue, which focuses on Europe. In the near future, I hope to organize issues that look at U.S. foreign policy after George W. Bush, the future shape of the U.S. military, developments in the Asia-Pacific region and the geopolitics of South Asia.

I wish to commend my immediate predecessor, Jim Kurth, for his contributions to Orbis and for both the help and guidance that he has so graciously provided me. He will continue to make contributions to Orbis as a member of the editorial board. Te saluto.

In These Pages

The Middle East ‘‘Peace Process.” This year, Israel celebrates its 60th year as an independent state. The new state immediately came under attack by its Arab neighbors. Over the next 25 years, Israel fought two other major wars. Since that time no issue has been more vigorously debated than the so-called ‘‘peace process’’ between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs. Marian Leighton examines the role of the United States as an intermediary in this process and argues that the U.S. approach to the peace process suffers from the persistence of a Cold War paradigm, which has led to proposals that are ineffective at best and counter-productive at worst. She concludes on a pessimistic note: ‘‘If the Cold War experience holds any final lesson for the ‘peace process,’ it is that—barring an unforeseen development, reminiscent of the Soviet implosion—the only realistic U.S. objective is conflict management rather than conflict resolution. Any other goal constitutes the triumph of hope over experience.’’

Misunderstanding the Roots of Terrorism. Since September 11, 2001, the focus of U.S. national security policy has been Islamist terrorism, once called the global war on terrorism (GWOT). As Sun Tzu said, ‘‘If you know the enemy and know yourself you need not fear the results of a hundred battles.’’ According to Adam Garfinkle, the editor of the American Interest, the problem we face today is precisely that we do not know our enemy in our struggle against Islamist terrorism. Instead, we have reasoned by analogies that are not applicable in the case of our enemy. From the perspective of liberal idealists, the way to defeat terrorism is to, on the one hand, alleviate the ‘‘root causes’’ of terrorist violence, poverty and social injustice; and on the other, address the supposedly legitimate grievances of those who claim to hate us.

From the perspective of conservative idealists, the problem is a ‘‘democracy deficit’’ which leads to terrorism ‘‘because other avenues of political participation are closed off to often justifiably frustrated citizens. These violent malcontents blame the West, the United States in particular, for the stultified environments in which they suffer, and so strive to attack its citizens and symbols.’’ Instead, argues Garfinkle, the real problem is ‘‘blocked modernization,’’ a phenomenon characterized, as in earlier epochs, by acute, disorienting rapid change, which produces social stress, division and religiously motivated violence. Therefore, rather than emphasizing the promotion of democracy in the Muslim world, Garfinkle contends that U.S. policy should focus in the long term on assisting gradual, sustainable economic reform in those areas of the world where modernization is clashing with traditional societies, and on promoting locally acceptable forms of the rule of law.

A World Without Nuclear Weapons? In January of 2007, four of the nation’s most distinguished statesmen—Henry Kissinger, George Shultz, William Perry and Sam Nunn—penned a Wall Street Journal op-ed that called for pursuing ‘‘a world free of nuclear weapons’’ by ‘‘reducing reliance on nuclear weapons globally.’’ The thrust of their argument was that non-proliferation is now an ascendant goal that should trumpany perceived advantages arising from our nuclear arsenal. Elbridge Colby takes issue with this view. He contends that while nonproliferation is a good, it is not the good, which is security. Security, he continues, is best ensured by retaining a strong and credible nuclear force. He argues that we err in linking non-proliferation and disarmament because it places two goods—security and non-proliferation—at odds. The problem of proliferation, while grave, can be managed. It is simply not worth giving up our security in errant service to it. The United States should pursue the latter as an important policy goal but not one that takes precedence over our nuclear deterrent—the best guarantor of our security.

Nuclear Smuggling. With the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union, many analysts expressed concerns about the possibility that the theft of ‘‘loose nukes’’ and the smuggling of nuclear material might constitute a threat to the current non-proliferation regime. The failure of this threat to materialize in the years immediately following the Soviet collapse subsequently led many of these same analysts to dismiss nuclear smuggling as more of a minor international nuisance than a first-order threat. But Rens Lee argues that nuclear leakage, including deliberate clandestine transfers of fissile material, is not just a threat but a reality and that nuclear smuggling has global ramifications representing a recurrent and dangerous threat to international security and stability. He provides a careful retrospective analysis of past smuggling cases in order to shed light on what proliferation damage might have occurred and what challenges we could face now and in the future as a result of nuclear smuggling.

A Focus on Europe. During the Cold War, Europe lay at the heart of American grand strategy and its policy of containment. U.S. policy makers feared that Soviet control of Europe meant the domination of what Sir Halford Mackinder called the Eurasian ‘‘World Island.’’ Mackinder expressed the logic of containment long before the early twentieth century when he wrote: ‘‘Who rules the World-Island commands the world.’’ The logic of containment called for a U.S.-led alliance on what Nicholas Spykman called the ‘‘Rimlands’’ of Eurasia, which led to NATO’s creation and the extension of the U.S. nuclear ‘‘umbrella’’ over the member states. Despite unavoidable tensions between the Europeans and Americans, NATO was an extremely successful alliance.

With the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union, divisions between Europeans and Americans, that had previously remained beneath the surface, burst into sight. NATO continued in force, to the surprise of many, but it became clear that Europe was charting its own course. As Ronald Granieri observes in his piece ‘‘False Friends and Unnecessary Enemies?’’ many Europeans and their American admirers argue that the future belongs to Europe—in the form of the European Union—because of the superiority of the European welfare state, its communitarian values and secularism, and Europe’s relatively pacific foreign policy based on ‘‘networks’’ and ‘‘soft power’’ in contrast to American reliance on traditional ‘‘hard power.’’

But Secretary of Defense Robert Gates recently chastised the European members of NATO for failing to pull their weight in Afghanistan. Many American critics of Europe see this failure as just one more example of what Granieri describes as ‘‘the general cultural malaise of a Europe that has abandoned its cultural heritage in favor of secular relativism at home and pusillanimous foreign policy abroad, with its shrinking populations threatened by a wave of unassimilated and inassimilable immigrants, largely Muslim.’’

Granieri argues that both of these American images of Europe are mistaken and that those who wish to see a weak and divided Europe are misguided. He advocates replacing Atlantic discord by a genuine Atlantic partnership between a strong and confident United States and a Europe possessing the structures, the capabilities, and the will to act as an equal.

Wess Mitchell examines European integration in the light of the successes and failures of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. While acknowledging that we must always be careful when using historical analogies, he argues that the EU can learn from the history of the Austro-Hungarian Empire that in a union of many moving parts, there is no substitute for flexibility. He observes that Austria-Hungary’s most successful periods occurred when it was closest to achieving a combination of political decentralization and economic liberalization. He contends that in light of this history, ‘‘the EU’s recent lack of progress toward the goal of ‘ever closer union’ is not necessarily a bad thing; rather than trying to find the ideal constitutional formula and put it into stone, the EU should seek minimalist political outcomes giving it the long-term adaptability it will need to meet the disparate and sometimes conflicting needs of 27 members.’’

Jeremy Black takes issue with Ronald Granieri concerning the issue of ‘‘Euro-skepticism,’’ arguing that it is not a ‘‘cranky idiosyncrasy’’ but a rational perspective focusing on history and the national interest. Accordingly, he is pessimistic about the future of European integration. He contends that it is difficult to see how a politically integrated European Union will work effectively given the range and diversity of views demanding attention. ‘‘When combined with other issues, such as the remarkable demographic transformation of the continent, it seems hard to predict any clear outcome.’’

Finally, Christos Kassimeris provides a historical overview of Greek foreign policy during the Cold War. It appears that Greece’s ambivalence toward the United States and the rest of Europe today can be traced to the perception by Greeks that NATO and the United States systematically subordinated the interests of Athens to their own.

Impromptus and Asides

It’s Easier to Be President When You’re Not. What will U.S. foreign policy look like after the Bush administration? The conventional wisdom is that it will depend on who the next president is. The rhetoric during this primary season would seem to support the conventional wisdom, but the conventional wisdom is probably wrong.

For instance, while John McCain has vowed to see the Iraq War through to the end, both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have made the rapid withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq the centerpiece of their campaigns. But the fact is that circumstances will limit the steps that a future president of the United States will take in Iraq or anywhere else in the world. Not too long ago, one of Sen.Obama’s foreign policy advisers, Samantha Powers, said as much when asked by an interviewer if her presidential candidate would immediately withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq. She replied that he would take account of the circumstances on the ground. Ms. Powers—now a former adviser to Sen. Obama—was widely perceived as having committed a ‘‘gaffe.’’ But the best definition of ‘‘gaffe’’ is an occasion when one inadvertently utters the truth.

Despite the rhetoric of presidential campaigns, the fact is that there has been a clear continuity in U.S. foreign policy since the end of the Cold War. In 1992, Bill Clinton articulated a foreign policy based heavily on the principles of liberal internationalism. But once in office, he found that the United States’ dominant position in the world required that America take active steps to ensure the preservation of a liberal world order.

Likewise, as a presidential candidate, George W. Bush campaigned as a conventional ‘‘realist,’’ criticizing the open-ended character of the Clinton administration’s foreign policy, and advocating a more constrained U.S. approach that students of international relations and security studies call ‘‘selective engagement.’’ His closest foreign policy adviser, Condoleezza Rice, was also known as a realist. But 9/11 changed things. President Bush subsequently pursued a much more aggressive foreign policy, one that far exceeded in scope that of his predecessor, who he had criticized during the 2000 campaign.

American foreign policy during both the Clinton and Bush presidencies were examples of primacy. Primacy is based on hegemonic stability theory, which holds that a ‘‘liberal world order’’—an international system based on free trade and the expansion of freedom—does not arise spontaneously as the result of some global ‘‘invisible hand.’’ Instead, a liberal world order requires a ‘‘hegemonic power,’’ willing and able to provide the world with the collective goods of economic stability and international security. The United States, as Great Britain before it, took up the role of hegemon not out of altruism but because it is in its national interest to do so.

The Bush Doctrine has been caricatured as a ‘‘go-it-alone’’ approach in which the United States intimidates both friends and allies, wields power unilaterally, and ignores international institutions. This has been the thrust of Sen. Obama’s critique of the Bush foreign policy. As he said in a Democratic primary debate:

[An Obama foreign policy] is not going to be as doctrinaire as the Bush Doctrine because the world is complicated. And I think part of the problem we’ve had is that ideology has overridden facts and reality. But I think that the basic concept—and I’ve heard it from some of the other folks—is that, increasingly, we have to view our security in terms of a common security and a common prosperity with other peoples and other countries. And that means that if there are children in the Middle East who cannot read, that is a potential long-term danger to us. If China is polluting, then eventually that is going to reach our shores. We have to—and work with them cooperatively to solve their problems as well as ours.

It is likely that a President Obama, like President BillClinton before him, will find that liberal principles without the means to ensure their survival and expansion are merely empty words. He will discover that the propagation of liberal principles requires power. As Donald Kagan has observed, history seems to indicate

that good will, unilateral disarmament, the avoidance of alliances, teaching and preaching the evils of war by those states who . . . seek to preserve peace, are to no avail. What seems to work best . . . is the possession by those states who wish to preserve peace of the preponderant power and of the will to accept the burdens of and responsibilities required to achieve that power.

Whoever the next president may be, he or she will learn what Bill Clinton and George W. Bush discovered: that is easier to be president when you’re not.

Bush’s Grant. When President Bush announced the Iraq War ‘‘surge’’ in January 2007, and placed the war’s direction in the hands of Gen.David Petraeus, it really became ‘‘George Bush’s war.’’ To an extent unmatched since Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation during the War of the Rebellion, President Bush assumed responsibility not only for the decision to go to war in Iraq, but also for the strategy and conduct of that war.

Of course, critics have always called it Bush’s war. But many Bush supporters, who agreed with the decision to go to war in Iraq, were able to blame intermediaries—former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld or the uniformed military—for problems with the conduct of the war. But after Bush’s speech announcing the surge, this was no longer possible. The President changed secretaries of defense and replaced the generals responsible for the actual conduct of operations. In so doing, he abandoned the strictures of what Eliot Cohen has called ‘‘the normal theory of civil-military relations.’’

This theory can be traced to Samuel Huntington’s seminal 1957 study of civil-military relations, The Solder and the State. Huntington sought to answer the central question of civil-military relations: how does society ensure that a military strong enough to defend it does not threaten it? In other words, how do we guarantee civilian control of the military while ensuring the uniformed military the ability to provide security? His solution was a mechanism for both creating and maintaining a professional, apolitical military establishment. Such a professional military would focus on defending the United States but avoid threatening civilian control.

Huntington called this mechanism ‘‘objective control’’ of the military, which required ‘‘the recognition [on the part of civilian authorities] of autonomous military professionalism,’’ i.e. respect for an independent military sphere of action. According to Huntington, objective control weakens the military politically without weakening it in military terms. Huntington reasoned that professionalizing the military would render it politically sterile or neutral. The quid pro quo for ensuring an apolitical military is avoidance of civilian interference or meddling in military affairs because this undermines military professionalism and so undermines objective control. ‘‘A highly professional officer corps stands ready to carry out the wishes of any civilian group which secures legitimate authority within the state.’’

Like most presidents since Vietnam, Bush bought in to the normal theory of civil-military relations, which calls for a line of demarcation between civilians who determine the goals of the war and the uniformed military who then conduct the actual war. This presidential deference to an autonomous military realm is the result of what has long been an element of faith when it comes to the conduct of war—that the failure of civilians to respect this division of labor was the cause of U.S. defeat in Vietnam.

But as Cohen pointed out in his indispensable book Supreme Command, the normal theory of civil-military relations has rarely prevailed in the case of democratic republics. Indeed, storied democratic war leaders such as Winston Churchill and Abraham Lincoln impinged upon the military’s turf as a matter of course, influencing not only operations but also tactics. The reason that civilian leaders cannot simply leave the military to its own devices during war is that war is an iterative process involving the interplay of active wills. What appears to be the case at the outset of the war may change as the war continues, modifying the relationship between political goals and military means. The fact remains that wars are not fought for their own purposes but to achieve policy goals set by the political leadership of the state.

And so it was with President Bush and Iraq. He outlined his plan and chose the general he believed could implement it. His critics assailed him for replacing generals who disagreed with his approach with ‘yes’ men. To illustrate just how absurd this criticism is, one has only to examine the precedent of Abraham Lincoln and his generals, George B. McClellan and Ulysses S. Grant.

Historians tend to treat McClellan as a first-rate organizer, equipper, and trainer but an incompetent general who was constantly outfought and outgeneraled by his Confederate counterpart, Robert E. Lee. But this is a serious misunderstanding of the situation that Lincoln faced. McClellan was not incompetent. Instead, McClellan and many of his favored subordinates disagreed with Lincoln’s policies, and indeed may have attempted to sabotage them. McClellan pursued the war he wanted to fight—one that would end in a negotiated peace—rather than the one his commander-in-chief wanted him to fight.

Until the disastrous series of Union reversals in the summer of 1862—Lee’s defeat of McClellan before Richmond, his subsequent defeat of Pope at Second Manassas/Bull Run, and the Confederate invasions of Maryland and Kentucky—the consensus in the North was that the application of steady military would convince the seceded states to return to the Union, based on the formula ‘‘the Constitution as it is, the Union as it was,’’ i.e., with slavery where it existed but with prohibitions against its expansion into the federal territories.

But the setbacks of 1862 convinced Lincoln that the initial strategy for dealing with the Rebellion was inadequate. The time had come, as he wrote to Cuthbert Bullitt, to stop waging war ‘‘with elder-stalk squirts, charged with rose water.’’

Lincoln now chose to defeat the Confederacy by attacking the social system of the South: the institution of slavery. Thus, after Lee’s invasion of Maryland was turned back at Sharpsburg/Antietam, Lincoln issued a preliminary Emancipation Proclamation on September 22 that gave the Confederates one hundred days to submit to the Union or face the prospect of immediate emancipation.

Southern Unionists, loyal slave-holders, and Democrats charged that Lincoln was ‘‘revolutionizing’’ the war by issuing his proclamation. Lincoln did not disagree, admitting that once the proclamation took effect, ‘‘the character of the war will be changed. It will be one of subjugation and extermination.’’ While generals such as Ulysses Grant and William Sherman, who had once believed that the war should not attack the institution of slavery, accepted the change, McClellan never did.

When this became clear to Lincoln after the Maryland Campaign of fall, 1862, he relieved McClellan. While the Emancipation Proclamation made the War of the Rebellion Lincoln’s war, it was not until early 1864 that he found the general that would take all the steps necessary to win it—Ulysses Grant.

By taking control of the conduct of the war and promoting generals who shared his vision, Lincoln ultimately crushed the Rebellion and saved the Union. In January 2007, President Bush replicated Lincoln’s approach in Iraq.

Gen. Petraeus is Bush’s Grant. After presiding over a reversal of U.S. fortunes in Iraq, Gen. Petraeus has been nominated by the president to assume command of U.S. Central Command, the former commander of which, Admiral William Fallon, was given to McClellan-like public pronouncements. Assuming the Senate confirms his appointment, we shall see if Gen. Petraeus will be able to replicate his Iraq success at the theater level, a region that includes Afghanistan as well as Iraq