zenpundit.com » kesler

Archive for the ‘kesler’ Category

Kesler on R2P Hypocrisy

Saturday, October 8th, 2011

Nice catch by Bruce Kesler who goes en fuego on the weirdly discordant note Anne-Marie Slaughter strikes in her latest New York Times op-ed:

Majority Rule Over Minorities: Ironic R2P Hypocrisy

The extremism of R2P’s leading proponent is exhibited in Anne-Marie Slaughter’s op-ed in today’s New York Times. Slaughter likens the Wall Street protesters to those demonstrating against oppressive regimes in the Middle East and recommends removal of the US system of checks and balances that protect minority views and avoid poorly developed political stampedes. (Slaughter doesn’t mention or give credence to the more numerous, mature citizenry participating in or supporting the Tea Parties more peaceful protests for more limited government intrusions into Americans’ private lives and earnings.)

R2P’s leading proponent, Anne-Marie Slaughter of Harvard, believes that US foreign policies and military interventions should prioritize the Right To Protect severely repressed peoples through US obeisance to liberal internationalist elites’ sentiments in favor of some they like regardless of the US Constitution or laws or national or security interests.

In today’s New York Times, Slaughter takes her R2P home to the US, advocating that majorities rule regardless of the formal and informal checks and balances of our political system and overriding the rights of political minorities. Again, it is the majorities that liberals like who should be given more powers.

Without any sense of proportionality or of core differences between the US and Middle East satrapies, Slaughter says, “Indeed, the twin drivers of America’s nascent protest movement against the financial sector are injustice and invisibility, the very grievances that drove the Arab Spring.” Slaughter then concludes, “The only effective response is a political response, of a nature and magnitude that convinces protesters on the streets that they can in fact secure the change they seek within, rather than outside, the system.”

Slaughter’s system, however, would reduce the ability of permanent or transitory political minorities to protect their interests. They would, also, further factionalize the US and make compromises more difficult as the power of centrists is reduced….

Read the rest here.

Good grief. Anne Marie Slaughter opining on the need for greater democracy and accountability to the people is somewhat akin to Ayn Rand calling for more welfare programs.

My suspicion here, since this rhetoric runs counter to Slaughter’s most influential ideas, is that Slaughter is just carrying water as part of the current Democratic political strategy of trying to co-opt the Occupy Wall Street movement. Perhaps the Axelrods and Podestas see that open-source protest movement to potentially be “their tea party”. Whatever. I will take her op-ed more seriously when she is marching against the Hedge fundies and Wall Streeters who are top donors to her Party, her administration and her university.

You can put a three corned hat on a Princeton theorist of global governance by transnational “governmental networks” but even if you adjust the hat at a suitably jaunty angle for maximum populist effect, the agenda underneath is still neither democratic nor popular.

More on R2P

Friday, September 23rd, 2011

Received a tremendous amount of feedback on this topic, mostly offline, but also on twitter and on other sites. Interestingly, of the minority who are strongly disagreeing with me, they tend to have their own problems with R2P doctrine. The next installment should be up tomorrow evening. In the meantime, here are a few more posts:

Bruce Kesler at Maggie’s Farm:

R2P: Right To Protect or Right To Preen?

….Neither COIN nor R2P are strategies. Unlike COIN, however, which is a set of tactics that may be applicable in some circumstances in pursuit of strategic goals (even if those goals may be arguable), R2P doesn’t have any operational tactics. R2P is more a clarion call to action, including actions that are contrary to US laws or popular will, in pursuit of internationalist goals for global governing as defined by transnational elites.

Further, R2P is cloaked in humanitarian rhetoric that allows liberal elites to preen, displaying their caring feathers, regardless of their ignorance of the military, regardless of the cost-benefit to US national security, and regardless that it isn’t their children being sent into harm’s way.

Lastly, R2P is reactive, not prescriptive of avoiding future threats to US security as a strategy must be. Much the same coterie who want to raise R2P to dominance over US foreign and military policies are largely dismissive of severely hobbling US allies or hollowing our military.

A brutally succinct assessment. 

Kesler, a veteran of the war in Vietnam and a former foreign policy analyst, is in sync here with many veterans whose experiences have made them skeptical of basing military intervention on grandiose idealism, along with the school of foreign policy realists. On the other hand, Anti-interventionists of all political stripes and backgrounds look askance at the assurance from R2Paternalistic advocates that enshrining R2P is not risky because such military interventions will be “rare” ( myself, I’d just like to see them done competently , in line with a coherent strategy, when the potential benefits significantly outweigh the costs).

Ken White, a respected senior voice at the Small Wars Council had this to say in an extended analysis of R2P in the comments section at SWJ Blog:

…. I’ll note that those whom Zenpundit rightly says will be “fired” will not be those who do the actual Protecting nor will they be the ones who pay the costs of such abject foolishness.

The R2P theory is the tip of an iceberg wherein the State — a State? — has overarching responsibility in all things and individuals have no responsibilities for them selves, indeed, no responsibility other than to act as the State directs. That is indeed monstrous.

In her paper linked by Zenpundit, Dr. Slaughter writes: “States can only govern effectively by actively cooperating with other states and by collectively reserving the power to intervene in other states’ affairs.” The first clause is possibly correct, the second is a road to unending warfare — quite simply, humans will not long tolerate it. I suggest that if that idea is applied to individuals, then I am endowed with the ability to get together with my neighbors and we can attack another neighbor whose only crime is to behave differently than do most of us. My suspicion is that will not work on several levels.

….She also writes: “The principal advantage is that subjecting government institutions directly to international obligations could buttress clean institutions against corrupt ones and rights-respecting institutions against their more oppressive counterparts.” Admirable. My question is what standard is applied to the determination of corruption and oppressiveness? What cultural norms are to be heeded and which are to be ignored? Who makes these determinations? If it is a collective decision, what precludes either mob rule or a ‘might makes right’ led possibly quite wrong determination…

Popular support for R2P may be inverse to the degree of public scrutiny the idea receives.

Kesler on R2P

Saturday, September 10th, 2011

Bruce Kesler, a long time friend of this blog, links here as he digs into R2P, the “Responsibility to Protect” doctrine and like me, finds the logical implications hold much to worry about in terms of being anti-democratic as well as destabilizing :

Transnational Elites Uber Alles

 It is the liberal internationalists’ concept of how US foreign policy ought to be. R2P reflects limitations of the US abilities to militarily intervene elsewhere as perceived by our liberal elites but raises our humanitarian impulses selectively by them to justify certain interventions, again, as they perceive which to be worthwhile. Further, R2P raises hazy international law or consensus of international liberal elites to supremacy over national law or consensus.

One of R2P’s main propounders, Anne Marie Slaughter, even advocates each US agency and members of our judiciary to act independently of Executive or Congressional oversight or law to conform to the consensus of foreign liberal elites. Slaughter is not just someone blathering. Slaughter was Dean of Princeton’s influential Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs from 2002-2009 then from 2009-2011 she served as Director of Policy Planning for the United States Department of State, now back at Princeton. Slaughter’s thinking is telling in the pieties mouthed by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Obama as they ignore US laws, ignore Syria’s worse repression and threat as they intervene in Libya, and extol a hostile majority in the UN to undeserved credence. Slaughter isn’t alone. Obama administration insiders Samantha Powers and Susan Rice are R2P foxes in the henhouse.

Methinks, given what passes for strategic thinking these days, that they pushed against an open henhouse door. Kesler continues:

For a taste of Anne Marie Slaughter

At first glance, disaggregating the state and granting at least a measure of sovereignty to its component parts might appear to weaken the state. In fact, it will bolster the power of the state as the primary actor in the international system…Giving each government institution a measure of legitimate authority under international law, with accompanying duties, marks government officials as distinctive in larger policy networks and allows the state to extend its reach.

Actually, it extends the uncontrolled reach of liberal elites within our government to act regardless of our laws or popular will.

Read the rest here.

This is not an argument over whether genocide is bad and should be prevented or the positive good of Western liberal societal values but rather over how power will be exercised in our name, for what reasons and by whom. Any good ends sought under a putative R2P doctrine can be done today if the political will for intervention is present. That will is crystalized when the ends, ways and means are scrutinized in open, free, debate under our constitutional norms, not by a self-appointed vanguard.

IRrelevant ?

Friday, February 20th, 2009

Longtime blogfriend Bruce Kesler, posting at Maggie’s Farm points to the growing disconnection between our largest  group of academic foreign policy specialists and…..our actual foreign policy.

Wonder why International Relations professors are ignored?

International Relations professors “are often the last people a president turns to for advice on running the world. At least, that’s what the professors say,” in a 2008 survey of 1743 IR faculty at every 4-year college and university in the US.   “Most revealing? Nearly 40 percent of respondents reported that these scholars have “no impact” on foreign policy or even the public discourse about it.”  Foreign Policy reports the results. 

If they, or you, are wondering why they are so irrelevant, just look at their top priority: “It’s a largely liberal internationalist agenda, one that names the most important foreign-policy priorities facing the United States as global climate change (37 percent).”

….Still wondering?  Read on:

“In 2008, for instance, we see fewer than half as many scholars (23 percent of respondents in 2008 compared to to 48 percent in 2006) describing terrorism as one of the three most significant current foreign policy challenges facing the United States.  Most surprisingly, while 50 percent of U.S. scholars in 2006 said that terrorism was one of the most important foreign policy issues the United states would face over the subsequent decade, in 2008 only 1 percent of respondents agreed….Concern over several other foreign policy issues is also declining markedly: when asked about the most important problems facing the country over the next ten years 18 percent fewer respondents chose WMD proliferation, 12 percent fewer said armed conflict in the Middle east, and 13 percent fewer indicated failed states.  At the same time, 17 percent more respondents in 2008 than in 2006 believed that climate change will pose a serious challenge…”

I suspect political ideology, intellectual fashion and academic tenure and promotion requirements for increasingly fractionated specialization all play a role in creating a worldview divorced from the actual community of senior foreign policy practitioners, career and appointee, Democrat and Republican. As for impacting public discourse, you have a few, august, “big names” who command a wide respect in and outside of the field and then some younger professor bloggers (like Daniel Drezner or our friends at Duck of Minerva) with a demonstrated ability to communicate effectively in normal, well-written, English. The vast, jargon -enamored, academic IR mainstream goes unheard and would probably not be understood by the average voter if they were ( my field, history, is no shining example of persuasive writing either).

Speaking of Drezner, he points to the Obama administration raiding academia to fill second through fifth tier foreign policy appointments. Will they change the game ? Probably not enough of them nor are they as a group as Left as the IR professoriate as a whole.

Kesler: “What McCain did Right and Conservatives Wrong”

Tuesday, November 4th, 2008

My friend Bruce Kesler no longer is a “regular” blogger but he has recently found the time for an occasional guest-post at Maggie’s Farm. It’s good to see Bruce back in the game even on a sometime basis and I’m pleased to point your attention to his following post:

Appearances and Mood

What McCain did right and conservatives wrong

 By Bruce Kesler

Over the past four years, conservatives have debated whether the Republican Party is serving them and the country.  This discussion was stirred by several  proposals by the Bush administration — particularly not vetoing some budget-busters, the nomination of Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court, and the immigration reforms that didn’t prioritize border controls – and the failure to fire back at the gross distortions and language by opponents.

Bush earned respect for his stalwart stance in Iraq, but even there lost points for his failure to act earlier to change a troubled strategy and command.  Seeming backpeddling and soft-shoeing on the threats from Iran and North Korea, though following closer to the liberals’ playbook, didn’t earn him support from liberals or conservatives.

The debate among conservatives and libertarians after this election is likely to grow much more heated, whether McCain wins or loses.

Although conservatives have stood most strongly behind McCain, conservatives do not expect much thanks or loyalty from McCain if he wins, and do expect McCain to continue his practice of alliance with many liberal proposals, as he has in the past.  That alone will add heat the pot.  On the other hand, conservatives will welcome his Trumanesque temper and bluntness replying to the likely continuation of intemperate Democrats in the Congress.

If McCain loses, conservatives will likely place most of the blame on him and his campaign for failing to take more advantage of Obama’s coterie of radical mentors, to alert more voters of their dangers.

At the same time, in defense of McCain’s campaign approach, those most likely to hold these associations as important are aware of them.  Meanwhile, in a campaign during which the overwhelming portion of the major media have utterly failed to research or expose Obama’s lack of record and record of shady allies, McCain would likely not have gotten much further in educating the wider public.

So, McCain has concentrated on trying to woo marginal voters.  Those non-partisans react more to appearances and mood.

McCain earned none of the points he should have for trying to tackle the credit-economic meltdown, even by comparison to Obama’s passivity.  Neither did McCain draw attention to the Congress’ tainted hands in creating it, but there are many Republican members who sat by and prospered from the false sense of well-being that preceded the deluge.  McCain did not throw the Congressional Republicans under the bus, as Obama repeatedly did every time a mentor was exposed.  And, McCain did exhibit a bully optimism in reacting to the meltdown and focused on quick actions.

It is that indefatigable optimism and sense of fair play that has been highlighted and redounded to his credit.  This is in line with his military and political record of bravely meeting challenges.  Despite every odd, McCain has fought the election to a near thing.

Conservatives must recognize that, for any of McCain or his campaign’s failings, it is among conservatives that reform must come.  Much of our NY-DC commentariat are corrupted by overlong proximity to comfortable power and cocktail circuits, exhibiting callowness, lethargy or outright capitulation.  Their lack of principle and intestinal fortitude must be replaced.  Much of our bloggers have been consumed by editorializing and not organizing.  The think-tanks we built and many major donors have been cringing or avoiding confrontation.  Rank and file conservatives mostly looked to this inadequate leadership instead of to ourselves to step forward and fight.

It will take a major overhaul to revive the conservative movement.  As in 1964, it will not come from the establishment, but must depend on openness to new participants and leaders.  Of course, that does not mean fringe elements or ideas.  The crucial role that National Review played post-1964 in guarding against that will require a new central forum of conservative sanity and principle.

No one can predict where they will come from.  But they must be encouraged, welcomed and supported when they appear.  Indeed, each of us must see in ourselves the willingness and determination to be those participants and leaders

Wise words.

American conservatism needs a substantial overhaul – perhaps even a 12 Step program – to recover it’s essence as an optimistic philosophy that profoundly empowers individuals and trusts them to make their own choices. Then, in my opinion, conservatives need to harness that spirit to a thorough comprehension of how globalization changed the world to operate in terms of metasystems and networks, so as to balance economic dynamism with resiliency (and learn how to get that point across in normal English). Then go on message and do not deviate.

The other side, if Senator Obama wins Tuesday, will be so consumed with jerry-rigging top-down, hierarchical, statist, solutions out of a fantasist version of the New Deal that they will inevitably overreach and create an opening for a new brand conservatism four years from now.

Or perhaps just two years. Time to get busy.

Switch to our mobile site