Friday, August 11, 2006

Another War Starting

In the wake of the Lebanon and Connecticut wars, a new war is opening up in the US foreign policy debate.

By the Connecticut war I mean the defeat of Senator Lieberman in the Democratic primary election. It's an event that will have a significant impact on the way the US foreign policy debates shapes up.

Yesterday, Richard Holbrooke said some sensible things in an OpEd in Washinton Post that I referred to here.

It wasn't too sensational - but uit certainly hinted that a more active and constructive US political approach wouldn't hurt.

Today, Holbrooke is blasted on the same pages by former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who makes it abundantly clear that he will seek a domestic battle over foreign policy along very different lines.

He represents a rather stark version of the policy line that have led Washington to give diplomatic cover to every aspect of Prime Minister Olmert's less than spectacularly succesful policies during the past month.

He attacks Holbrook's what he calls "diplomacy first - diplomacy always" school.

And instead makes it clear that "if violence is necessary to defeat the terrorists, the Iranians and the North Koreans, then it is regrettably necessary."

It is unfair to accuse Holbrook of never being willing to use force, but if Holbrooke can be desdribed as "diplomacy first", Gingrichj sounds very much like "violence first".

The Gingrich line is very much the line I warned of yesterday - seeing everything as just one great war, seeing the enemy as evil beyond evil, and seeing only violent confrontation leading to the defeat of the enemy as a defensible policy.

It's recipe for an accelerating number of wars, which much sooner than later will completely overwhelm the capacity also of the United States, and which will certainly put Europe in the danger zone even more than would otherwise be the case.

But Newt Gingrich most probably see things also in domestic political terms.

With a democratic party tearing itself to pieces over Iraq, and clear and present terrorist dangers out there, an increasingly hysterical tone in the security debate might perhaps bring some domestic policy dividends.

But as foreign policy, it is profoundly dangereous.

We have all a stake in the war starting over the direction of US policy.