Tuesday, September 11, 2007
The James Baker Disconnect?
My dinner companions and I, however, were struck how the 2008 presidential campaigns seem unable or unwilling to engage in the type of frank, pragmatic discussion we were hearing, and why Baker's "Ten Maxims" which seem pretty common sense provoke such a strong reaction that somehow this is striking at core American values. (This continues a discussion I started on this theme from last month.) I don't know how to explain it. Is it really a product of post-Cold War euphoria about the "handcuffs coming off" of American foreign policy that leads to that type of reaction?
It would be useful if former officials at his level could address three broad questions:
a. What is the future of national sovereignty in a world that in so many ways does end-runs around traditional nation-states? Are the problems we now face at root problems of dysfunctional sovereignty? Is it possible that some nation-states cannot be fixed?
b. Does the division of foreign policy labor at the national level continue to make sense, requiring only periodic adjustments, or is the disconnection between bureaucracy and reality in some danger of growing wider? If so, is there a remedy?
c. Foreign policy before World War II was mostly the realm of attorneys, business leaders, and career diplomats. After 1945, academics became increasingly prominent. Is there still a perspective and experience that non-academics bring to making foreign policy that is uniquely important?
If Secretary Baker has addressed these points in TNI, then I apologize for missing what he said.
Easy. The reason none of the candidates address our problems in this logical way is that it is a certain recipe for electoral defeat. The American People prefer candidates to tell comforting, flattering lies to them about their present situation and prospects than face the hard truths about how we have squandered the economic and moral strengths that underpinned our foreign policy coming out of World War II.