Monday, June 2, 2008

The Kite Runner

Contrary to the popular opinion of supporters and foes, not even a President Obama will simply disengage from Iraq or unilaterally disarm the United States. This Thursday and Friday, the Miller Center will host a conference, The Politics of Troop Withdrawal, that I hope brings much needed clarity to the subject.

If history is a useful guide, the reality will be that removing ground forces from Iraq will be linked to stepped up air war and covert operations. The hawks will be assuaged by enhanced focused on Afghanistan and doves will approve de-escalation.

When Obama calls Iran small, he isn't discounting the threat that it poses. He is simply making a cold, rational decision in the face of a deepening commitment and diminishing resources to support a client state on the Iranian border.

The dissolution of the USSR caused a disruption to the military establishment on a level that it had not encountered since the end of the Second World War. September 11, 2001 was utilized, like Korea, to justify not only maintaining the status quo ante but to greatly expand it.

Barack Obama proposes to recalibrate the focus from expansionism to security. In its quixotic quest, the Bush administration is threatening the apparatus that has guided foreign policy since FDR. The futility of preventing the rise of lesser powers is a lesson that the Chinese taught America in Korea, Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. The policy of accommodation, fiercely resisted by LBJ and eventually accepted by Richard Nixon, has been accepted doctrine until George W. Bush arrogantly chose to revisit the issue.

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