Expert on blowing
- Feb 12, 2003
mccainBarack Obama is the Democratic candidate for president. His advisers in foreign policy are generally Democrats. Together they carry with them an institutional memory of the Democratic Partys approach to foreign policy, and are an expression of the complexity and divisions of that approach. Like their Republican counterparts, in many ways they are going to be severely constrained as to what they can do both by the nature of the global landscape and American resources. But to some extent, they will also be constrained and defined by the tradition they come from. Understanding that tradition and Obamas place is useful in understanding what an Obama presidency would look like in foreign affairs.
Thus, the main thrust of the Democratic tradition is deeply steeped in fighting wars, but approaches this task with four things in mind:
1. Wars should not begin until the last possible moment and ideally should be initiated by the enemy.
2. Wars must be fought in a coalition with much of the burden borne by partners.
3. The outcome of wars should be an institutional legal framework to manage the peace, with the United States being the most influential force within this multilateral framework.
4. Any such framework must be built on a trans-Atlantic relationship.
good long reads both areJohn McCain is the Republican candidate for president. This means he is embedded in the Republican tradition. That tradition has two roots, which are somewhat at odds with each other: One root is found in Theodore Roosevelts variety of internationalism, and the other in Henry Cabot Lodges opposition to the League of Nations. Those roots still exist in the Republican Party. But accommodations to the reality the Democrats created after World War II and that Eisenhower, Nixon and, to some extent, Reagan followed have overlain them. In many ways, the Republican tradition of foreign policy is therefore more complex than the Democratic tradition.
The foundations of Republican foreign policy early in the 20th century therefore consisted of three elements:
1. A willingness to engage in foreign policy and foreign wars when this serves U.S. interests.
2. An unwillingness to enter into multilateral organizations or alliances, as this would deprive the United States of the right to act unilaterally and would commit it to fight on behalf of regimes it might have no interest in defending.
3. A deep suspicion of the diplomacy of European states grounded on a sense that they were too duplicitous and unstable to trust and that treaties with them would result in burdens on but not benefits for the United States.