Friday, August 26, 2005

The End of Diplomacy
On the heels of John Bolton's recent unraveling of an expected UN agreement, as I posted yesterday, Steve Clemons, writing at TPM, points to an editorial in The Independent:
With the arrival of the hawkish Mr Bolton to do the bidding of George Bush at the UN, relations between the US and the UN have never looked so bad. . . .judging from his few weeks in New York, Mr Bolton is not at the UN to negotiate. Since Madeleine Albright, President Clinton's UN representative, the US delegate has arrived with a rocket in his or her pocket. In the council, if the other delegates do not like what the Americans want, the US no longer hesitates to act without UN blessing.

Now Mr Bolton is at the UN with a mission. At the end of the Cold War, Francis Fukuyama famously decreed the end of history. We could be witnessing the end of diplomacy.
Clemons concludes:
America in the past has generally demonstrated capacity to be a great leader of others -- a planning nation, a strategic nation, a complex systems integrator in war and peace -- but now the obsession with doing things alone is a rejection of leadership and guarantees future weakness.
How many more Republican administrations will it take to render the US-UN rift unfixable? At any rate, as the Independent writer alludes, President Clinton still left dues unpaid, so Democrats have been far from ideal in global cooperation and we didn't exactly enter a Bush presidency with a strong UN relationship. Still, this new Bush-Cheney-Bolton path has us on a trajectory toward total isolation. With the economies of China and India rapidly gaining, and Europe inching (albeit 2 steps forward, 1 step back) toward more economic unity, isolation is not where we want to be. Will I live to see the day the US must approach the UN with hat in hand? Or at least with tail firmly between legs? That may be a stretch, but it is not a stretch to say that our demands and isolation will soon become less of a threat to the well-being of the UN and more of a threat to the well-being of the US.

Sorry for my language, but can we please get someone with some goddamn long-term world-view sense in a position of influence in DC?

Steve Clemons, by the way, has his own blog--The Washington Note--specializing in foreign policy politics topics that's always a good read.

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