" />

Right Web

Tracking militarists’ efforts to influence U.S. foreign policy

Full-Throttle Unipolarity

Just two weeks ago conventional wisdom both here and in European capitals was that President George W. Bush’s second term would see a modest turn toward multilateralism and a new readiness to compromise on key issues with traditional U.S. allies.

Today, however, that particular conventional wisdom is being questioned amid renewed anxiety that the unilateralist trajectory on which Bush launched the United States after the September 11, 2001 attacks on New York and the Pentagon is back on track.

The biggest single reason for the change was the nomination of John Bolton, undersecretary of state for arms control and international security during the first term, to the high-profile post of U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

The problem, as pointed out by a number of Democrats, is that virtually everything Bolton has ever said about the UN suggests that he thinks the world, and particularly the U.S., would be better off without it, once opining (before 9/11) that if the UN secretariat building lost 10 stories, “it wouldn’t make a bit of difference.”

“This nomination is a poke in the eye to the world diplomatic community and a signal that the Bush administration is going to continue its unilateralist approach,” noted Joe Volk, executive secretary of a major peace group, Friends Committee for National Legislation (FCNL), one of a growing number of groups who are gearing up for a lobbying campaign to persuade senators to oppose Bolton’s confirmation.

Former Ambassador Chas Freeman described the appointment as “the equivalent of dropping a neutron bomb on the organization.”

But whatever the nomination said about Bush’s attitude toward the UN, it also demonstrated that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who is supposed to serve as Bolton’s superior if he is confirmed by the Senate, will likely play a much less powerful role in Bush’s second term than had been thought, particularly in the wake of her two tours-one with the president-of Europe last month.

Knowing how much Bolton had undermined former Secretary of State Colin Powell during the first term, Rice resisted pressure from Bolton, his Congressional backers and Vice President Dick Cheney by refusing to appoint him as her deputy secretary of state-choosing instead arch-realist Robert Zoellick-in what was seen as a kind of declaration of independence from the hawks perched in Cheney’s office and around Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

That defiance, followed by her triumphal tours of Europe where she repeatedly promised closer consultation, was widely considered a sign that the “realists,” previously led by Powell, had a new champion at Foggy Bottom and one who also enjoyed a much closer personal relationship with the president than her predecessor.

But the nomination of Bolton-who really served as Cheney’s and Rumsfeld’s cat’s paw at the State Department under Powell-has profoundly challenged the notion that Rice can stand up to them.

The fact that her strongest argument in favor of Bolton when she was challenged by senators privately on the decision to send him to the UN was that his tenure there may persuade him to modify his hard-line views, just as former anticommunist President Richard Nixon decided to launch a strategic relationship with Communist China in the early 1970s, confirmed to many here that Bolton was being forced down her throat.

While Bolton’s nomination was the immediate cause of the reassessment that is now taking place, there have been other signs that the balance of power within the administration has indeed shifted strongly toward the hawks.

Perhaps the most important was the little-noted appointment of J.D. Crouch as the deputy national security adviser under Rice’s former deputy, Stephen Hadley. While Hadley’s foreign policy views were seen as a mixture of realism and Cheney’s aggressive nationalism, Crouch, who served most recently as ambassador to Romania, is regarded as a right-wing extremist on both domestic and foreign policy issues.

A protege of William Van Cleave, a Rumsfeld ally and one of the leaders of the Committee on the Present Danger (CPD) in the 1970s who claimed that the Soviet Union intended to fight and win a nuclear war with the United States (whose daughter now serves as the chief of counter-intelligence under Rumsfeld), Crouch was also a favorite of then-Defense Secretary Cheney during Bush’s father’s administration, 1989-1993.

He worked in the Pentagon’s policy division under the current deputy defense secretary, Paul Wolfowitz, and I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, who has been Cheney’s chief of staff and national security adviser over the past four years.

After the first Gulf War in 1991-92, Wolfowitz, Libby, and Crouch were all involved in the draft of a controversial Defense Planning Guidance (DPG), parts of which were leaked to the New York Times and then explicitly repudiated by the administration.

It called for global engagement by the U.S. on its own terms calling for a military posture designed to deter “potential competitors from even aspiring to a larger regional or global role.”

It also urged Washington to create “ad hoc assemblies” to deal with crisis situations-the 1992 version of “coalitions of the willing”-and a doctrine of unilateral military preemption “to prevent the development or use of weapons of mass destruction.”

And it predicted that U.S. military interventions would be a “constant fixture” of the new world order. It omitted any role for the UN in preserving international peace and security.

When the draft was leaked to the Times, it caused an uproar, with Democratic Senator Joseph Biden claiming that it amounted to a prescription for a “Pax Americana” and others that it would make Washington the “world’s policeman.”

On Thursday, the Boston Globe reported that Rumsfeld has set forth the main priorities for the Pentagon’s latest Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR), a major policy paper to guide strategic planning through the end of the decade and beyond.

Among the most prominent priorities, according to the Globe account, will be preventing the emergence of a “peer competitor,” stopping the spread of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), and dramatically expanding the size of U.S. Special Forces in order to operate more freely and unilaterally worldwide.

The Globe, which described the Rumsfeld memo setting out his priorities as having a “go-it-alone” tone, omitted boilerplate language that has appeared in previous QDRs about the importance of U.S. alliances or the UN.

The unipolar world conceived by Wolfowitz & Co. in 1991 was expressed best by Bolton himself back in 2000. “If I were redoing the Security Council today, I’d have one permanent member because that’s the real reflection of the distribution of power in the world,” he said during an interview with National Public Radio’s Juan Williams.

“And that one member would be, John Bolton?” Williams asked.

“The United States,” Bolton responded.

Jim Lobe is a regular contributor to the Right Web program of the International Relations Center (IRC), www.irc-online.org. He is the Washington correspondent for Inter Press Service.

 

For More Information See Citizen-Based Global Affairs Agendas: http://www.fpif.org/cgaa/demil.html

 

For media inquiries, email media@irc-online.org or call (617) 666-5300.

 

Citations

Jim Lobe, "Full-Throttle Unipolarity," IRC Right Web (Somerville, MA: International Relations Center, March 16, 2005).

Share RightWeb

Featured Profiles

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), one of the more effective U.S. lobbying outfits, aims to ensure that the United States backs Israel regardless of the policies Israel pursues.


Erik Prince, former CEO of the mercenary group Blackwater, continues to sell security services around the world as controversies over his work—including in China and the Middle East, and his alleged involvement in collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia—grow.


Gina Haspel is the first woman to hold the position of director of the CIA, winning her confirmation despite her history of involvement in torture during the Iraq War.


Democratic Majority for Israel (DMFI) is a pressure group founded in early 2019 that serves as a watchdog and enforcer of Israel’s reputation in the Democratic Party.


Richard Grenell is the U.S. ambassador to Germany for the Donald Trump administration, known for his brusque and confrontational style.


Zalmay Khalilzad is Donald Trump’s special representative to the Afghan peace process, having previously served as ambassador to Afghanistan and Iraq under George W. Bush.


Robert Joseph played a key role in manipulating U.S. intelligence to support the invasion of Iraq and today is a lobbyist for the MEK.


For media inquiries,
email rightwebproject@gmail.com

From the Wires

The Senate on Wednesday passed a measure mandating the withdrawal of U.S. forces from the Saudi/UAE-led war against Houthi rebels in Yemen. The vote marks the first time since the War Powers Act of 1973 became law that both chambers of Congress have directed the president to withdraw American forces from a conflict.


The Trump administration’s failed “maximum pressure” approach to Iran and North Korea begs the question what the US president’s true objectives are and what options he is left with should the policy ultimately fail.


In the United States, it’s possible to debate any and every policy, domestic and foreign, except for unquestioning support for Israel. That, apparently, is Ilhan Omar’s chief sin.


While Michael Cohen mesmerized the House of Representatives and President Trump resumed his love affair with North Korea’s Kim Jong, one of the most dangerous state-to-state confrontations, centering in Kashmir, began to spiral out of control.


The Trump administration’s irresponsible withdrawal from the landmark Iran nuclear agreement undermined Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and emboldened hardliners who accused him of having been deceived by Washington while negotiating the agreement. However, the Iranian government could use the shock of Zarif’s resignation to push back against hardliners and take charge of both the domestic and foreign affairs of the country while Iran’s foreign opponents should consider the risks of destabilizing the government under the current critical situation.


Europe can play an important role in rebuilding confidence in the non-proliferation regime in the wake of the demise of the INF treaty, including by making it clear to the Trump administration that it wants the United States to refrain from deploying INF-banned missiles in Europe and to consider a NATO-Russian joint declaration on non-first deployment.


The decline in Israel’s appeal to Democrats is directly related to the wider awareness of the country’s increasingly authoritarian nature, its treatment of Palestinians, and its reluctance to take substantive steps toward peace. Pro-Israel liberals face a fundamental paradox trying to reconcile Israel’s illiberalism with their political values.


RightWeb
share