Tag Archives: dan drezner

Should The U.S. Stay Or Should It Go?

8 Jan

the-clash-should-i-stay-or-should-i-go-epic-5There was an outburst of “grand theorizing” last week between the big heads in IR theory (under sub-heading “Grand Strategy”), and I was ecstatic. Well, intellectually intrigued. Should I stay or should I go? And, as Mick Jones (or, PSY) claimed about the meaning behind those immortal lyrics, the debate between “deep engagement” vs. “offshoring” (there’s a problem here with nomenclature, especially when Stephen M. Walt allows the “deep engagement” side its euphemism and justifiably objects to the “isolationism” tag, but then doesn’t offer a more media-friendly tag of his own, other than the clunky, “offshore balancing”.), let’s not let the niggling questions interfere with the rock. It was a classic debate.

Erik Voeten does have a point.

Neither of these are polar positions. Posen is no isolationist who wants to withdraw from every commitment. Brooks et al are not raving interventionists. This makes this to some degree about what the optimal level of engagement is rather than a debate about binaries. The merits of the specific policy proposals are thus very important.

Of course, I mean China – and South Korea’s role on that issue – when I read “specific policy proposals”. But, I also don’t recall a discussion about the intersection of path dependence within the American military establishment, or the role of multinational corporations, and grand strategy. Unfortunately, I can’t speak to Barry Posen’s argument, because his article is stuck behind a pay wall. So, Stephen M. Walt’s Foreign Policy contribution has to do the heavy lifting for the “Should I go?” side.

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The Real Reason Susan Rice Will Not Be America’s Top Diplomat

15 Dec

Secretary Susan Rice and meles ZenawiWomen can be excellent diplomats, and African-Americans should be on the international stage and crafting government policy. But, Susan Rice, the once-and-never-again nominee for U.S. Secretary of State and still ambassador to the United Nations, is a bad choice for the nation’s top diplomatic post, because of her record on Africa and her professional relationships with various African leaders.

The death knell of her ambitions was probably sounded by a New York Times story on Monday, which detailed how she failed to put pressure on President Paul Kagame of Rwanda to stop fomenting violence in Congo. The liberal establishment’s favourite paper also ran an opinion peace by an Ethiopian activist criticising Rice’s fulsome tribute to the late Meles Zenawi.

In an editorial, the Wall Street Journal recalled how Rice, an Africa specialist, had invested faith in young, progressive-seeming leaders such as Kagame, Zenawi and Yoweri Museveni in Uganda, but stuck by them when they turned out to be not so progressive after all.

Other pieces recalled how in the Clinton administration she had reportedly asked what effect the Rwandan genocide might have on Democrats’ prospects in the 1994 mid-term elections.

The NYT reported that Rice had watered down a UN resolution condemning Kagame’s support for Congo’s M23 rebels, whose recent invasion of Goma, the major eastern city, provoked international condemnation. It emerged that Kagame had been a client of Intellibridge, a Washington consultancy Rice worked for during George W Bush’s presidency.

Senator John McCain, who threatened to block her nomination, and other Republicans would have had plenty of material to make her confirmation hearing very uncomfortable, besides Benghazi.

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Susan Rice vs. China, 1-0

13 Dec

Susan Rice's Got GameThis exchange between U.S. ambassador Susan Rice and China’s Li Baodong doesn’t quite hit the level of Ambassador Adlai Stevenson’s October 25, 1962 “Until Hell freezes over” rejoinder to Soviet UN ambassador Valerian Zorin during the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis, but it belongs in the scrapbook.

Early today, the big power envoys squared off in a closed-door Security Council session over competing views about how the 15-nation body should react to North Korea’s missile launch.

Rice urged the Security Council to swiftly respond to North Korea’s surprise launch of a satellite (via a ballistic missile) with a statement condemning Pyongyang’s action as a violation of U.N. resolutions and characterizing it as a provocative act that “undermines regional stability.”

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