Wednesday, October 12, 2005

So, Powell Was Right?

After four years of 'go-it-alone-cowboy-style' diplomacy, there appears to be signs of a shift in State Department approaches, according to the LA Times.

For four years, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and his team faced off against administration hawks on one foreign policy issue after another, and usually went down in defeat.

These days, his successor, Condoleezza Rice, is pushing nearly identical positions, and almost always winning.

An administration that was criticized in the first term for an assertive, go-it-alone approach has reversed ground again and again, joining multinational efforts to keep nuclear arms from North Korea and Iran, mending ties with Europe, and softening a hard line on the United Nations and International Criminal Court.

"She's clearly trying to accomplish a number of the goals that Powell was going after, until he found himself stymied," said Stewart Patrick, who served in Powell's policy planning office.

A former senior State Department official put it more bluntly: "It's Powell's policy without Powell."

One interpretation of the reversal might be that the US is now willing to work with the world because it has established its bona fides as the lone superpower. I think that interpretation is hogwash, mainly because the opinion of the US has never been lower among our allies and the rest of the world.

I suspect one of the real reasons has to do with the fact that Iraq has become such a bloody quagmire that the US finally realizes that it needs the help and cooperation of the rest of the world in order to extricate itself from the disaster. Another reason might have to do with the fact that the White House is clearly in disarray after the debacles of the federal response to Hurricane Katrina, the falling poll numbers of Dear Leader, his ridiculous appointment of Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court,and the whole Plame scandal which appears at this point to implicate at least one White House official in the outing of a CIA agent.

PlameGate is an interesting part of the equation, since at its roots the matter deals with the run-up to the Iraq Invasion, done on the basis of what most believe to be lies and 'cooked facts.' Buried deep in the article is an irony that BushCo may not be able to appreciate at present.

Another important foreign policy shift came in April, when the administration for the first time set aside its strong objections to the International Criminal Court.

Administration officials, led by U.N. Ambassador John R. Bolton, then the State Department's arms control chief, had taken an unyielding line on the court, which was created to judge war crimes and genocide cases. Bolton and other officials argued that the tribunal infringed on U.S. sovereignty and could lead to foreign judges' trying U.S. troops and military and civilian leaders.

But in April, U.S. officials abstained from voting on a U.N. resolution, thus allowing the United Nations to recognize the court's jurisdiction over cases arising from the fighting in Sudan's Darfur region. Powell had recommended an abstention months earlier, former aides noted.
[Emphasis added]

Now, with any luck at all, that shift in policy just may come back to bite the regime in the not too distant future.


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