What We Need Is A Little More Gridlock

27 Nov

I’m not even going to speculate why Senator John McCain continues to block the nomination of Susan Rice for Secretary of State. Ultimately, I have a blogging interest against those reasons being anything related to foreign policy, and everything to do with domestic politics, either partisan zeal or the composition of the Senate.  I just like Josh Busby’s schematical summary of the various foreign policy baronies.

Susan Rice has been one of the Obama Administration’s more ardent interventionists on Libya, Syria, and Darfur. Like McCain, Rice is willing to use military force to prevent atrocities and defend American interests. Liberal internationalists like Rice actually has views more in tune with neocons like McCain than they do with realists like John Kerry. Where realists are quite conservative about the prospects for using force in defense of the country’s values, both liberal internationalists and neocons are optimistic about the ability to remake the world in the image of the United States. That is what makes them both liberal. Indeed, neoconservative is a misnomer. They really should have been called liberal nationalists. Where they differ from liberal internationalists is on means. Liberal internationalists prefer multilateral instruments to address foreign policy problems whereas neocons prefer national ones.

I’m nominally a “liberal internationalist”, so Rice’s nomination is not welcome. Yet, as Busby also argues, Rice’s presence in the executive Cabinet might put fuel into the “liberal nationalist” juggernaut. “Rice appears more interventionist than the president himself, so she might actually be a check on voices like Vice President Biden who might be more hesitant to support interventions for humanitarian purposes.” But, a little gridlock is good, especially in foreign policy, where leaders should do less. Senator Kerry would accomplish that more directly, but Rice’s experience at the United Nations would be an interesting departure for foreign policy where domestic policy trumps international experience. And, it would infuriate the crackpots who think the UN is out to control the US.


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