We’re All Realists Now
By Paul Wolfowitz, Foreign Policy August 24, 2009
Failing to Note the difference When the US Power Tank is Full or Near Empty
By Steve Clemons Foreign Policy August 27, 2009
A reply by Con George –Kotzabasis
Don Quixote with the ever present Sancho Panza at his heels was attacking windmills with his lance. Don Clemons not with the ever present Sancho Panza at his heels, Dan Kervick—but in critical moments you can count that real pals will show up—is attacking the impregnable cogitative fortress of Wolfowitz with a toy tank whilst Sancho Kervick is riding his intellectual hard working donkey at galloping speed to refill Clemons “near empty” tank so they can demolish the modestly crafted and cogent realistic argument of their bete noire Wolfowitz. It’s in the images of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza that the ‘slayers’ of the Wolf are made.
The realist Clemons, Oops, the “hybrid realist,” refuses, even at this late stage, to acknowledge that it was this far from near empty tank that defeated the insurgency in Iraq and that under the strong, resilient, and imaginative leadership of General Petraeus won the war in Mesopotamia. And by defeating Al-Qaeda in Iraq America became stronger not weaker as Clemons argues in his piece. But it will become weaker if as a result of the staggering foolishness of Obama in withdrawing US forces from the urban areas of Iraq prematurely that has led to a resurgence of bombings, which if they continue to increase could reverse the relative security of Iraq post-surge and its great potential to build democracy in the country and become a lodestar for the whole region, as both generals Petraeus and Odierno had warned the Obama administration. And for such a dire outcome the total responsibility will fall upon the “hybrid realists” or “policy realists” that according to Clemons rule the roost in Washington, and of course ultimately upon President Obama.
For a realist, of whatever ‘variability’, to argue in the aftermath of 9/11 that the war in Iraq was a Wilsonian idealistic intervention to impose American values and democracy on the country shows how out of his depth Clemons is from any kind of realism. Wolfowitz clearly states that the purpose of the war in Iraq was not to “impose” democracy by force but to “remove a threat to national and international security.” And as he says one can criticize the rights and wrongs of the war without diverting from, and changing, its purpose. Moreover on the issue of Quaddafi’s decision to give up his WMD programs Clemons contradicts his pivotal contention that America’s intervention in Iraq weakened its geopolitical power. For if that was the case and the perception why should Quaddafi need the “assurances” of a weakened America that “he could remain in power” as a trade-off for giving up his nuclear program, as Clemons states? Once again Wolfowitz is right on this point. Quaddafi relinquished his WMD programs because of ‘feared American will,” to quote Wolfowitz, because of America’s projection of power, of ‘can do’ might that spectacularly defeated both the Taliban and the elite forces of Saddam within few weeks and refuted all the prognostications of many pundits and so called realists who contended that the US could not defeat Saddam and would suffer the same fate as the Soviets in Afghanistan. It was also this display of US will and power that induced Iran to a ‘silent’ cooperation with the United States in the suppression of the Taliban when the US invaded Afghanistan.
Dan Kervick also is out of his depth in realpolitik with his moralizing piece. He states that “we should forbear from intervening because of odious (M.E.) behaviour to us.” States don’t intervene in the internal affairs of other states because of their odious conduct, that is, on moral grounds, but only when their explicit intentions and actions threaten the vital interests of another state. And both the intervention in Afghanistan and Iraq was not due to odious behaviour but to the potential and real threat these two rogue states posed to the US and the West in general.
Moreover, international laws in themselves and checks and balances cannot be the balm for the internal and external conflicts of nations, as Kervick argues, in an anarchic world without some dominant power backing these laws and checks and balances with an implicit force and its explicit use when necessary. And in our era this invidious burden and responsibility ineluctably falls on the shoulders of the United States. “Liberty and civil peace” do not fall like manna from the sky and protected by nebulous gods. They emanate from great benign states that are not squeamish to use force whenever this is necessary for their protection. Voila Amerique.