Washington Warms to Indonesia's Unruly Army
the pomp and circumstance of the inaugural and the State of the
Union address now out of the way, the foreign policy direction to
be taken by President George W. Bush in his second term remains
a subject of considerable speculation and uncertainty.
diplomats and analysts are still poring over the list of Bush's
latest appointments for clues as to whether the hawks the
coalition of neoconservatives, aggressive nationalists, and the
Christian Right who dominated policy after Sept. 11, 2001
through the invasion of Iraq, or the "realists" who have
been ascendant since the late 2003 are on top.
the departure of the chief of the realist faction, former Secretary
of State Colin Powell, announced shortly after Bush's reelection,
it was widely believed that the hawks, led by Vice President Dick
Cheney and, to a somewhat lesser extent, Pentagon chief Donald Rumsfeld,
had a clear path.
notion received much wider currency in late December when it became
known that Bush had also accepted the resignation of arch-realist
Brent Scowcroft, the elder Bush's national security adviser, as
chairman of the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board
the appointment by incoming Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice
of U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick as her deputy, as well
as reports that she intended to fill the number three spot with
NATO Amb. Nicholas Burns and the State Department's regional bureau
with career foreign-service officers, suggested that the State Department
would continue to be a bastion of realism.
also signaled that Rice, who was seen as a weak national security
adviser during the first term, was prepared to resist Cheney, who
had promoted ultra-hawk John Bolton, the current undersecretary
of state for arms control and international security, as her number
the balance of power is anything but clear, particularly after the
announcement last week that the new national security adviser, Cheney
protégé Stephen Hadley, had chosen J.D. Crouch, a
gun and nuclear weapons enthusiast who may be even further to the
right than Bolton, as his deputy.
the first term, Crouch, currently ambassador to Romania, oversaw
Washington's withdrawal from the 1973 Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM)
treaty and the near sabotage of several arms-control negotiations.
the past, he has called for preemptive military action against North
Korea and Cuba. But he is perhaps most notorious for a letter to
the editor of the Washington Times blaming the 1999 massacre
of students at Columbine High School in Colorado on "30 years
of liberal social policy that has put our children in day care,
taken God out of the schools, taken Mom out of the house, and banished
Dad as an authority figure from the family altogether."
the coup that his appointment represents, it's still not clear that
the hawks are indeed in the driver's seat, in part because the game
of musical chairs is not yet finished.
to be announced, for example, is the replacement for the neoconservative
undersecretary of defense for policy, Douglas Feith. Also up in
the air is Bush's pick to be the first national intelligence director,
although it is known that the president's first choice was former
CIA director, Robert Gates, a consummate realist, who declined to
divining the power balance, the biggest unknown is what Rice herself
will do. No one doubts that, on a personal basis, she is far closer
to Bush than any other foreign policy adviser, but, during the first
term, it appears that she was reluctant to press her personal views
on the president.
Powell, who clearly never enjoyed good personal chemistry with Bush,
found himself isolated whenever Rumsfeld and Cheney, who emerged
as the single greatest influence on Bush in the first term, were
in accord. So the big question now is whether Rice as secretary
of state will feel empowered to weigh in against the two hawks in
ways that she didn't as national security adviser.
and until a clear policy difference emerges as it did early
in the first term when Powell praised South Korea's "sunshine
policy" toward North Korea only to be publicly contradicted
by Bush or, two months later, when the two sides battled over how
to respond to China's detention of a US spy plane and its crew
it will be very difficult to determine how the new team interacts
and which side is stronger on what issues.
course, external factors that also favor the realists are the budgetary
and manpower constraints both of which are related to Iraq
on Bush's freedom of action in his second term.
champions of unilateralism whose contempt for allies, particularly
Europeans, makes it very difficult to persuade other nations to
contribute money or troops to Washington's adventures, the hawks
must battle the growing concern among Republicans and the US public
that money does not grow on trees.
despite Bush's recent rhetorical flights extolling Washington's
mission of spreading democracy throughout the world, and particularly
in the Middle East, the hawks also appear attentive to opinion polls
that consistently show great public skepticism about the desirability
of deploying US troops to "liberate" foreign peoples,
the wildly enthusiastic media coverage of the Iraqi elections last
the generally mild tone of Bush's State of the Union Address suggests
that neither side has the upper hand at the moment. While the president
sounded tough on Iran, for example, his treatment of North Korea
of whom Cheney is reported to have once said, "We don't
negotiate with evil" verged on what for this administration
would be considered warmth.
least for now, it appears that the last year of Bush's first term
when the two sides were in constant contention with neither
able to clearly prevail offers the best insight into the
Lobe is Inter Press Service's correspondent in Washington, DC.
© 2005 Inter Press Service