Thursday, August 10, 2006
Opposition versus Strategy: The Lamont Challenge
In the forthcoming issue of TNI, Senator Joe Biden will be offering his plan for dealing with Iraq and discussing how this fits in his overall vision for foreign policy. It has a realistic edge to it, about dealing with actual conditions on the ground rather than starting with your overall preferences, and advocates something I've also been promoting for years--a "division within unity" approach for reconciling demands for autonomy with keeping Iraq's territorial integrity intact.
But I don't know to what extent Biden's approach--a phased withdrawal based on yardsticks rather than strict adherence to a timetable--something Paul Saunders and I argued was the best approach last year--can capture the imagination of the Democrats and serve as the basis for a unified approach to foreign policy.
The other factor that worries me is our increasing inability and unwillingness to accept the need for trade-offs and choices. It seems that if we can't have the optimal solution, then we go home. Or we simply say that we "can do both"--a favorite Clintonism of the 1990s. We can have Taiwan declare independence and keep a good relationship with Beijing. We can pressure a government with sanctions and still get top line intelligence sharing cooperation. We can have a democracy in Lebanon that will expel Hezbollah (how this happens in a country that is 60 percent Shi'ite is not explained).
Some Democrats seem to be stumbling on realism as the preferred approach. Will Lamont be one of the converts to the "American ethical realism" of Morgenthau, Niebuhr and Truman?