Wednesday, June 16, 2004
Stockholm syndrome: A group of 20-some career diplomats and military officers have written a letter condemning President Bush's foreign policy. Frankly, I'm surprised they only managed to round up a few dozen signers.
There are plenty of people out there who are minimizing or attacking any comparisons between Bush 43 and the late Ronald Reagan, but this is a case where strong similarities can be drawn. Bush, like Reagan before him, is initiating a sea-change in American foreign policy -- and the establishment doesn't like it one bit.
When Reagan came into office, the official policy of the State Department toward communism around the world was one of attempting to accomodate, understand and contain. Reagan initiated a policy of confrontation and attempting to rollback communism. The diplomats at the State Department didn't like it one bit.
Even as late as 1987 and Reagan's famous "Tear down this wall" speech, the diplomatic corps was still resistant to any statements that would hurt the feelings of communist dictators.
Too many American diplomats -- the signers of this letter included -- suffered then, and still suffer now, from the polical equivalent of the Stockholm Syndrome. They don't represent American interests in the countries they're posted to, but instead are advocates for the other nation.
Bush 43 has pushed another sea change in American foreign policy as a response to the 9/11 terror attacks. Once again, diplomats whose loyalty ought to be to the United States are instead loyal to other nations and the status quo.
France, Germany and Russia -- the "allies" that we are said to have offended with our "unilateralism" (33 countries = unilateral?) -- wanted Saddam Hussein in power and the United States risking Navy and Air Force fliers lives enforcing no-fly zones to prevent atrocities against the Kurds and Shia. Why? For preferential oil contracts and cash from Saddam Hussein.
It may be another decade before the foreign policy establishment in Washington, D.C., gets it. We couldn't go on with the status quo in the Middle East -- that's what produced 9/11 and nearly 3,000 dead Americans. The Middle East must change, whether it wants to or not.
These diplomats are wedded to their stale worldviews. The world has changed, and American foreign policy must change to meet it.
Bush is doing what needs to be done.
Like Reagan's decision to confront communism, maybe 30 years from now President Bush's liberal detractors will concede that he was right to attack terrorism, instead of trying to find some accomodation. The diplomats seek a 21st century detente with radical Islamists. It didn't work with communism; why should it work now?