Thursday, June 12, 2008

Rice's New Realism

So what's not to like in the Secretary of State's essay ("Rethinking the National Interest: The New American Realism"). Make strong and rising powers stakeholders in the international order, encourage weak and failing states to reform and democratize. Have Moscow and Beijing as our partners; increase the number of new democracies. Something for everyone in the "realism" and "idealism" camps.

But moving on this agenda--that is still not apparent to me after reading the piece. I'm glad that she endorses, for instance, the creation of a more permanent northeast Asian regional forum to build on the six-power talks, something that former Korean foreign minister Choi Sung-hong, former Japanese foreign minister Yoriko Kawaguchi, and Ian Bremmer proposed in TNI back in 2005.

I don't get a sense of what we are putting on the table, what are the "good enough" outcomes, what are possible trade-offs. There is a lot of referencing to the need to "balance" various competing objectives, ideals and interests. But I don't leave with a clear understanding of how the balancing takes place, and whether is it reactive to events, or flows from a long-term grand strategy.

Nik, you should know by know that with the American foreign policy elite, nothing is on the table, a "good enough" outcome is when everyone else gives in to our terms, and the tradeoffs are "my way or the highway".

the rest is just verbiage. It will take much more experience of the failure of US foreign policy to persuade the US foreign policy elite that the days of them dictating terms, especially to Russia, are well and truly over.
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