Posted by: drew | March 20, 2006

National Security Policy and Intellectual Poverty

William Pfaff at the International Herald Tribune has some scathing words for Bush’s newly released National Security Policy. I’ve written about the pre-emptive policy stated in the report previously, but I’ll be honest and say I haven’t read the whole thing. It’s on my TODO list both for personal and professional reasons.

Having said that, I’ll reserve judgement on Mr. Pfaff’s review until I’ve read the document in full myself. I will say, however, that intellectual poverty and a dangerous lack of critical thinking have been the hallmarks of this Administration from the beginning. Judging from their recent rhetoric in press-conferences and speeches, I wouldn’t be shocked to see more of the same in the NSP report.

Intellectual poverty is the most striking quality of the Bush administration’s new National Security Strategy statement, issued on Thursday. Its overall incoherence, its clichés and stereotyped phraseology give the impression that Stephen Hadley, the national security adviser, and his fellow authors assembled it from the boilerplate of bureaucratic discourse with contempt for the Congress to whom it is primarily addressed.

Contempt for Congress? This administration. Never!

In summary, Mr. Pfaff’s interpretation of the report is:

  • There is no actual strategy discussed.
  • The NSP Report is filled with incoherent rhetoric, cliche’s, stereotypes, and other beaurocratic discource that says little other than:
  • We will pre-emptively act against foreign powers if we perceive a threat, whether real or otherwise imagined.
  • China, we’re shoring up support with your neighbors in the event that you don’t play nice with our policy, despite the fact that we previously said such meneuvering is dangerous and outmoded.
  • Iran, we consider you our greatest threat. You’re on notice.
  • North Korea, we’re watching you. We’re not going to mention pre-emptive action, but you better check yourself before you wreck yourself.

Go below to see more

Pfaff continues:

If people read it to find a statement of American foreign policy’s objective, they will learn that the United States has “the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world.” Good luck.

Ending tyranny in this world is a noble goal indeed. A goal which I would gladly support. However, one must be realistic when approaching this goal and realize that the US and our small coalition of friends we took into Iraq with us cannot possibly hope to achieve this goal on our own.

In the days after 9/11, the US had an amazing opportunity to mobilize the world towards this goal. Unfortunately, ideologues within the administration couldn’t wait to enact their PNAC-based plans to invade Iraq, who not only possessed no WMDs, but also posed no threat the the US whatsoever. The rest of the world was not “cool with this.” Bush and friends pressed on with their faulty plan and squandered the good will of the world.
Look at the lives and money spent in Iraq so far and tell me more about this coalition of the willing.

The document’s foreign readers will have two reactions. The first will be that it can’t be serious. The second will be that it has to be taken seriously since these people have spent three ruinous years in a futile effort to control Iraq; they must be assumed capable of doing the same thing again to Iran.

I do agree that all this rhetoric about saving the world from tyranny sounds a bit tinny when you look at the last three years in Iraq. One can only hope that if the US continues this “quest”, they will be far more careful before they go invading another sovereign nation. The rest of the free world really must share in this burden, both in money and blood.

The rest of the article speaks of the administration’s recent efforts to shore up support in India and Indonesia for the US as a balance against the quickly rising economic and military power of China, despite previously condemning “balance of power” politics as outmoded and dangerous.

She said: “We tried this before; it led to the Great War.”

Well, I sure hope this foray into the “balance of power” doesn’t end in another world war. I’ll post again after I’ve read the Report and see if I agree with Mr. Pfaff in his assessment.


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