Failed Perspectives on the World

22 May

Former US House Speaker Newt Gingrich is one of those public speakers who makes better arguments when he’s not around social conservatives. Shorn of some of its rhetorical excess, :

…[T]here’s a, there’s a bigger problem…nor am I comfortable around the world with our extraordinarily limited use of state craft. And I think that point you’re making’s right. The North Koreans are cheating on their agreement now for over 30 days. They’ll have nuclear weapons. We still, after five and a half years do not have control of, of Warziristan in northwest Pakistan, and it is both the place Bin Laden’s probably hiding and it is the place the Taliban uses to attack Afghanistan. We have been told by the U.N. in the last few days that the Iranians are now produce—producing at least 1300 centrifuges, producing nuclear material, and that they almost certainly will have a nuclear weapon within a year. We see in Israel that Hamas rockets being fired from Gaza have led the Israelis to actually abandon a town. I mean, nobody’s covered this very much, but an entire town has been abandoned now because it’s indefensible under the current rules of engagement. The British just arrested—just sentenced to life in prison without parole five terrorists. And in New Jersey two weeks ago, we arrested six terrorists, three of whom had been in this country illegally for six years and had had 75 encounters with the police without anybody noticing they were illegal. If you take this worldwide pattern—and by then, lastly, Estonia has been under assault, probably by the Russians, in cyber warfare for three weeks now, as a member of NATO and as part of the European Union. I mean, you look around the world, the forces of freedom are on retreat, the forces that are anti-freedom, pro-dictatorship, and, in some cases, purely evil are on offense…we need a dramatically expanded ability to use state craft. But I think it’s—I think you got to make any Iraq decision within the framework of this larger maelstrom of dangers that are growing across the planet.

. Rhetorically, it’s easy to fixate on one issue area (North Korea), but practically, the US cannot devote its entire diplomatic capital on one minor problem in one region of the world. The Bush administration needs a grand strategy that combines plural goals that Washington can achieve quickly. The problem in East Asia is not North Korea, but America’s relationship with China. Another problem is not North Korean nukes, but non-proliferation on a global scale. Yet another problem is American retrenchment in major policy areas that recalls the days of the Nixon administration. The Bush administration’s solution is to cherry-pick high profile issues and to eschew consistent policy. Richardson’s legalistic focus on agreements and resolutions only underscores how petty this overall unsound approach has become. :

Splitting the United States and China will be more difficult, but not impossible. China’s leadership was offended by North Korea’s blatant disregard of their warnings against testing a nuclear bomb. Whether this reflects a strategic judgment by President Hu Jintao that a nuclear-armed North Korea is unacceptable to China’s national interests, or simply embarrassment at being stiffed by a small dependent neighbor, remains unclear. To this point, China has been more concerned about the prospect of American actions aimed at toppling Kim Jong Il’s regime than about North Korea’s buildup of plutonium for nuclear bombs.

For Beijing, the Bush administration’s primary objective of regime change is its own worst nightmare. Collapse could send millions of refugees into China. More importantly, it would lead to absorption of North Korea by South Korea, thus eliminating the buffer between a military ally of the United States and China. Preventing this outcome was the reason China entered the Korean War and pushed U.S. forces back to the current divide between North and South Korea. Kim Jong Il’s objective must therefore be to persuade Hu that the Bush administration has not changed its stripes – that its real objective continues to be the destabilization, not the denuclearization, of North Korea.

Strengthening the NPT regime, ensuring China’s continued political development, and ameliorating tensions between China, Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan will do more to minimize the infuriating tactics of the Kim regime than directing confronting it (and then, allowing minority factions to undermine those actions).

Gaeseong is still in business. Conservatives, though, can find solace in Wachovia’s problems. The Boltonians have failed, and reduced to sniping from the wings.

In a globalized world, there just is no moral place for conservatives (especially goons peddling failed policies) committed to disrupting governments and economies like rival gangs eliminate competition.

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