Sunday, April 11, 2004

Fareed Zakaria is Making Sense 

Not to be confused with the title of the Alan Keyes show, the title of this post actually makes sense. Zakaria reviews Hans Blix's book in the New York Times. Very good review, and he wonders why this administration (esp. Cheney) seems to have such a visceral loathing for diplomacy. I don't understand it--if diplomacy is a means, not an end, then it's neither a good nor a bad thing. Why does Cheney hate it so? And why didn't he learn any lessons when he was the head of DoD under Bush I?

Anyway, Zakaria writes:
But if getting Iraq right was tough, getting the diplomacy right was much easier. Reading this book one is struck by how, at the end, the United States had become uninterested in diplomacy, viewing it as an obstacle. It seems clear that with a little effort Washington could have worked through international structures and institutions to achieve its goals in Iraq. Blix and ElBaradei were proving to be tough, honest taskmasters. Every country -- yes, even France -- was coming around to the view that the inspections needed to go on for only another month or two, that benchmarks could have been established, and if the Iraqis failed these tests the Security Council would authorize war. But in a fashion that is almost reminiscent of World War I, the Pentagon's military timetables drove American diplomacy. The weather had become more important than international legitimacy.

Had Washington made more of a commitment to diplomacy, Saddam Hussein would probably still have been deposed. Blix's book provides ample evidence that the Iraqis would most likely not have met the tests required of them. But the war would have been authorized by the Security Council, had greater international support and involved much more burden sharing. Countries like India and Pakistan, with tens of thousands of troops to provide, made it clear that they needed a United Nations mandate to go into Iraq. The Europeans and Japanese (who now pay for at least as much of the reconstruction of Afghanistan as the United States does) would similarly have been more generous in Iraq than they are today.

Most important, the rebuilding of Iraq would be seen not as an American imperial effort but as an international project, much like those in Bosnia, Kosovo, East Timor and even Afghanistan. America is paying a price in credibility for its mishandling of Iraq. But the real price is being paid by the Iraqi people, whose occupation has been far more lonely and troubled than it needed to be.
As Brad DeLong says, why can't we replace Condi Rice with Fareed Zakaria?
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