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Archive for March, 2006

Friday, March 31st, 2006

BRIEF NOTE

Busy morning – and I am now headed out the door to get the Firstborn and the Son of Zenpundit their very first library cards. I’m also going to put in an interlibrary loan request for Martin van Creveld’s The Rise and Decline of the State and The Transformation of War so I can write that review of 4GW theory, not having any copies of either in my personal library on hand ( not even in the much feared, overstuffed, packing boxes in the garage).

Part III of Foreign Policy And The American Elite will be posted tonight and possibly a few other things as well.

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Thursday, March 30th, 2006

THE COMING OF THE FREEBOOTERS: PRIVATE MILITARIES ON THE MARCH

Dr. Chet Richards of DNI and author of Neither shall The Sword did not have long to wait to see the start of his predicted trend toward greater availability of PMC combat services.
J. Cofer Black has announced that Blackwater is now able to provide “Brigade-sized force” on short notice for peacekeeping or counterinsugency operations.

Mr. Black’s extensive record at the CIA and State Department in fighting Islamist terrorism was featured in the bestselling book Ghost Wars by Steve Coll.

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Thursday, March 30th, 2006

FOREIGN POLICY AND THE AMERICAN ELITE: PART II

Link Preface:

American foreign policy in an age of proximity by Dave Schuler at The Glittering Eye

Foreign Policy And The American Elite: Part I” by Zenpundit

In Part I. and on previous occasions I have suggested that there is a disconnect between America’s bipartisan elite and other Americans and that this disconnect is currently being acutely felt on the issue of immigration reform where members of Congress of both parties hold views approximately inverse to those of their constitutents. Put to a referendum, it would be all but certain that the American people would vote for very tough penalties on illegal immigrants and those who employ them. In contrast, the average U.S. Senator is aghast at the thought of any bill that might have real teeth because that would stem the flow of cheap, illegal, labor somewhat and aggravate Mexican nationalist and LaRaza ethnic activis back home.

Now, as I have said, immigration is generally positive, particularly in the long run but the current immigration policy is not, neither economically or in terms of national security. Nor are the costs of immigration, legal and illegal, equitably shared. Tellingly though, the status quo, which is generally unfavorable to America, does benefit our bipartisan elite while imposing real costs on average Americans in the form of depressed wages, higher taxes, higher crime rates and strains on educational, health and welfare systems. When the elite consistently puts its own interests ahead of national interests in so obvious a way, their stewardship of the state loses legitimacy. Part of the reason for this disconnect is that our bipartisan elite has changed significantly in the last forty or so years.

For those old enough to remember, there was once something in this country called ” The Eastern Establishment”, the one hated by Richard Nixon and denounced by the anti-war demonstrators of the New Left. The term has mostly fallen out of use for a number of reasons but it really did exist at one time. It dominated Wall Street, our universities, the legal profession, the media and the most important departments of the Federal government including State, Treasury and Defense as well as the CIA. The Establishment ran the United States for almost a century until it foundered the ship of state on the rocks of Vietnam.

The Eastern Establishment came about as a fusion after the Civil War as the old money elite like the Roosevelts, Livingstons and Lodges sought to co-opt and “civilize” the children of the noveau-riche robber barons like the Vanderbilts, Rockefellers, Stanfords and so on. Sociologically, the Establishment was wealthy, white, well-educated and irrevocably Protestant, preferably Episcopalian though the Presbyterians put in a good showing. Despite the moniker ” Eastern”, Southerners of a genteel ancestry and paternal influence were counted among their numbers as were, more rarely, a few Westerners with sizable interests in banking or railroads.

It was a decidedly exclusionary group. Aside from elitist and fairly deep-seated prejudices against Jews, Blacks, Mexicans, Italians and Women, Irish Catholics rated no higher as readers familiar with the saga of the Kennedy family are no doubt aware. Nor did fellow WASPs who came from humble origins and went to the wrong schools, like Richard Nixon or LBJ, fare much better in their eyes. Members of the Establishment were largely investment bankers and lawyers with Anglophile tastes and an Atlanticist worldview who carried both a sense of entitlement as well as that of noblesse oblige.

Despite a profoundly narrow outlook, the Establishment produced a truly remarkable number of first class statesmen – Charles Francis Adams, John Hay, Elihu Root, Henry Cabot Lodge, Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Henry Stimson, George Marshall, George Kennan, Paul Nitze, Dean Acheson, Charles Bohlen, Averrell Harriman, Dean Rusk, McGeorge Bundy, John J. McCloy, Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr. – outside of the conquering founders of great empires, there are few examples in history that are comparable to their collective achievment of steering an outlier republic through grave dangers to world hegemony.

The men of the Eastern Establishment were successful not merely because of their often considerable education and social cohesiveness but from their general acceptance of the long view in preference to the short and a serious attention to the underlying economic fundamentals governing world affairs. That they were ” Present at the Creation” was no idle boast – they had a hand in the creating and understood how the institutions that they proposed were going to work in the real world. They married American national interest to the global greater good in a way that most foreign leaders could find attractive or at least, tolerable.

The Establishment is dead and gone. It has been replaced by a new American elite whose values have shifted as a result of the Eastern Establishment’s grand failure in Vietnam but that will be discussed in Part III.

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Tuesday, March 28th, 2006

CASPAR WEINBERGER, R.I.P.

Former Reagan administration Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger, the architect of the post-Vietnam era military build-up that was a critical element in Reagan administration Cold War strategy, died this morning after a battle with pneumonia. He was 88.

Weinberger, who had served in the Nixon administration and where he was known as ” Cap the knife” for severe budget cutting, oversaw one of the largest defense transformations in the history of the world. One of the few top advisers with unlimited access to the president, Weinberger was famous for his acrimonious battles with Secretary of State George Schultz, his longtime former colleague at Bechtel Corporation.

Ironically, Shultz and Weinberger were allies in opposing the Iran-Contra covert operations engineered by DCI William Casey, NSC Adviser John Poindexter, former NSC adviser Robert McFarlane and Colonel Oliver North. Despite his opposition to the Iran-Contra affair, Weinberger was prosecuted by Special Counsel Lawrence Walsh – a legal move regarded by most Republicans as vindictive and groundless – and ultimately was pardoned by the first President Bush.

Weinberger, despite his advocacy of robust American defense budgets, was exceptionally cautious about the use of military force and promoted the ” Weinberger Doctrine” now better known as the ” Powell Doctrine” that put fairly strict and clear tests for potential American intervention. He initially opposed both the multinational intervention in Lebanon as well as the invasion of Grenada before joining the administration consensus.

Rest in peace, Mr. Secretary.

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Tuesday, March 28th, 2006

WHITE HOUSE SHAKE-UP

Andrew Card, longtime Bush Chief of Staff, has been forced to resign and is being replaced by OMB Director Joshua B. Bolten. If conservatives, Republicans and the nation at large are lucky, this move will only be the first of an injection of new blood for the Bush administration.

The resignation was hailed at the big pro- Bush blog RedState, which gets things completely wrong because everything there is viewed through the prism of short-term movement and partisan politics ( Hat Tip: Memeorandum)

“Andy Card has served the President well for more than five years. We cannot, however, say that he has served conservatives or the Republican party well. He is, among other things, fingered as the man behind the Harriet Miers nomination that caused a fracture in the base and emboldened conservatives to fight the President. He also deserves some blame for the mishandling of the Dubai Ports Deal. “

Well, yes. By the same token Card has been part of everything that has gone right with the Bush administration as well. He has been not only Bush’s Chief of Staff and doorkeeper but virtually his shadow since taking office. Card’s involvement in the White House decision-making process was integral even by the historical standards of chiefs of staff, so his legacy cannot be relegated to the outcome of one or two issues.

Andrew Card had to go because when an administration hits the skids – as nearly all of them do in the second term – in our system the president cannot resign but his designated ” prime minister” must and usually this is all to the good. Sherman Adams, H.R. Haldeman, Don Regan, John Sununu and Mack McLarty all had to leave at a time when their president was under fire. Card has served longer than any of them except Sherman Adams and the effects of the grueling treadmill of a White House schedule take their toll. Creativity, energy and political judgment are sapped as crisis management stress, groupthink and isolation desensitizes and distorst the perceptions of even extraordinairly adept politicians.

Bolten does not need to do a purge or a complete housecleaning but new blood, new ideas and new perspectives are badly needed in the White House. Relationships need to be strategically rebuilt with Congress, the press and the American people so the Bush administration can catch a second wind.

The nation is at war. We cannot afford years of drift.

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