Friday, March 30, 2007

The Costanza Doctrine

Michael Fullilove lays out the "Costanza doctrine" in today's Financial Times.

As he notes, the "Costanza doctrine" "recalls the classic episode of the TV comedy Seinfeld, “The Opposite”, in which George Costanza temporarily improves his fortunes by rejecting all the principles according to which he has lived his life and
doing the opposite of what his training indicates he should do."

He goes on to say, "The Costanza doctrine is most closely associated with President George W. Bush and his first-
term confidants: the wild-eyed neo-cons and the dead-eyed ultra-cons. But there is a wider group,
which includes most presidential candidates and many of Washington’s foreign policy elite, who
are not fully paid-up subscribers to the doctrine but went along with it nonetheless. Allied
governments in London, Madrid and Canberra also signed up."

What are some of these principles that the Costanza doctrine seeks to overturn?

That "military and diplomatic resources are finite and should be directed towards your greatest

That you should not "weaken your intimidatory powers through poor military performance."

That " you get by with help from friends."

That you recognize "state-building is hard. ... Luckily there are numberless reports identifying lessons learnt. The
alternative would be to do the opposite of what those reports recommend."

That you acknowledge "democracy is a blessing that requires patient nurturing."

Finally, remembering that "if two dangerous states are struggling for dominance of a strategic region, maintaining a balance between them may be the least worst option."

He then invites the reader to determine to what extent all of these lessons have been ignored in Iraq.

I think that you are being unfair to Australia. That country has to do what it takes to maintain, improve, and enhance her ties with US. They are a small country and need US protection. I am not sure if Howard was aware of the real Iraq or not but even if he knew, as the Prime Minister of Australia, he could not afford to have Australia on the wrong side of US.
Australia had no choice but to accommodate the Bush administration on Iraq? Because otherwise the yellow hordes sweep down from China? Seems a bit simplistic to me.
Australia is surrounded by larger and more populous states. Their threat perception (to me - a foreigner) includes China, Japan, Indonesia, and India). They cannot afford to take chances on their relationship with US. That is the major reason that they were in Korea as well as in Vietnam.

I should like an Australian to correct me.
Well obviously Fullilove as an Australian disagrees with that assessment.
If you found Fullilove's piece interesting, you might also enjoy a piece I wrote three months ago called "President Bush's Plan for Iraq: The Opposite."
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