Monday, January 12, 2009

The Prophetic Vision of Owen Harries

Just before the Clinton Administration took office in January 1993, Owen Harries penned his "Fourteen Points for Realists". Some of the points he raised are quite useful to be considered by the incoming Obama Administration.

Among them--"stop thinking of as a matter of course in terms of a unified political entity called 'the West' .... Already the French and Germans and the Japanese clearly do not think or act in terms of a united West."

Where should the U.S. focus its attention? "On the north Pacific, where the intersecting interests of three great powers and a divided Korea make the danger of a general conflagration real" and "on the Middle East where the combination of oil, religion, passionate hatred, sophisticated weaponry, an old-fashioned readiness to resort to force and commitment to Israel requires American involvement."

Interestingly enough, given the recent Moscow-Kyiv spat: "The regional relationship between Ukraine and Russia is of great importance, but it is difficult to see how the United States could play a major role if the relationship were to deteriorate seriously. Good offices, yes--but beyond that intervention would be both dangerous and probably ineffectual."

And, of course, his comments on democracy promotion--and his conclusion that, echoing Brent Scowcroft, "America should be content merely to 'nudge' other countries, rather than attempt to interfere deeply in their internal affairs" and his prediction of "only trouble" otherwise--are quite prescient.

Well, Latin America was left off the list of places that increasingly matter to America.
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