Friday, July 08, 2005

Will It Sell?

Washington Post editor Bob Woodward, who has just published a new book about W. Mark Felt titled, “The Secret Man”, said on Larry King last night that the terrorist bombings in London yesterday made George W. Bush a wartime President once again. Woodward even went so far as to say he could see that the disasters in London had stiffened Bush's spine. Woodward said the Prez became, once more, the leader he needed to be. Are the people in the USA and the world going to buy that baloney? Yesterday, Bush looked like the floundering jerk that he is. One wishes he had grown a spine. One wishes he'd said, “Homeland Security is going to see to it that the subway systems in the USA are made even safer than they already are.” But no. He said, “…I instructed them (Homeland Security) to be in touch with local and state officials about the facts of what took place here and in London and to be extra vigilant.” Extra vigilant. Translation: I'm not sure what I can say or what I can promise until I've asked for permission from Karl Rove, so I'll just say the most inoffensive thing I can think of. There was a very troubling Op/Ed piece in the New York Times this morning titled “Our Ally, Our Problem” by Peter Bergen. Bergen's position is that so far, terrorists have proven to be British citizens. And he had facts to back up his premise. But why did Bergen see fit to publish his article today of all days? And why did the NYT allow it to be published today of all days? Are we seeing the beginning of a new hidden agenda? As in, now that Prime Minister Tony Blair is a liability to the Bush administration and the Brits hate us, they have to be discredited. Peter Bergen is a fellow of the New America Foundation. Who are these people? Their mission statement says: “Powerful forces - from rapid technological change to massive demographic shifts, from economic globalization to terrorism - are remaking America. Now, more than ever, our nation needs a robust public debate, one that does justice to the complex challenges and opportunities of this unfolding era. Yet there remains a dearth of new thinking on both sides of the political divide, as well as a lack of investment in developing the creative young minds most capable of crafting new public policy solutions. The purpose of the New America Foundation is to bring exceptionally promising new voices and new ideas to the fore of our nation's public discourse. Relying on a venture capital approach, the Foundation invests in outstanding individuals and policy ideas that transcend the conventional political spectrum. Through its Fellowships and Policy Programs, New America sponsors a wide range of research, writing, conferences, and events on the most important issues of our time.” The NFA Internet site says, “The New America Foundation is an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit public policy institute that was conceived through the collaborative work of a diverse and intergenerational group of public intellectuals, civic leaders, and business executives. New America's founding President and CEO is Ted Halstead, and its Board of Directors is chaired by James Fallows. Based in our nation's capital, the Foundation opened its doors in January 1999.” NAF certainly sounds benign. Until one name on their board of directors pops out like a zit on prom night: Francis Fukuyama, Dean of Faculty, SAIS, Johns Hopkins University. Francis Fukuyama was a founding genius of the Project for the New American Century--that Iraq war breeding ground which was masterminded by William Kristol in 1997. PNAC's signers were: Elliott Abrams, Gary Bauer, William J. Bennett, Jeb Bush, Dick Cheney, Eliot A. Cohen, Midge Decter, Paula Dobriansky, Steve Forbes, Aaron Friedberg, Francis Fukuyama, Frank Gaffney, Fred C. Ikle, Donald Kagan, Zalmay Khalilzad, I. Lewis Libby, Norman Podhoretz, Dan Quayle, Peter W. Rodman, Stephen P. Rosen, Henry S. Rowen, Donald Rumsfeld, Vin Weber, George Weigel, Paul Wolfowitz. PNAC's mission statement is more aggressive, more obviously pro-military than the New America Foundation. But PNAC's aims also were cloaked in high-minded, freedom-loving rhetoric. In case you've forgotten, here is PNAC's Statement of Principles as written by the editor of the right-of-center Weekly Standard, William Kristol: “American foreign and defense policy is adrift. Conservatives have criticized the incoherent policies of the Clinton Administration. They have also resisted isolationist impulses from within their own ranks. But conservatives have not confidently advanced a strategic vision of America's role in the world. They have not set forth guiding principles for American foreign policy. They have allowed differences over tactics to obscure potential agreement on strategic objectives. And they have not fought for a defense budget that would maintain American security and advance American interests in the new century. We aim to change this. We aim to make the case and rally support for American global leadership. As the 20th century draws to a close, the United States stands as the world's preeminent power. Having led the West to victory in the Cold War, America faces an opportunity and a challenge: Does the United States have the vision to build upon the achievements of past decades? Does the United States have the resolve to shape a new century favorable to American principles and interests? We are in danger of squandering the opportunity and failing the challenge. We are living off the capital -- both the military investments and the foreign policy achievements -- built up by past administrations. Cuts in foreign affairs and defense spending, inattention to the tools of statecraft, and inconstant leadership are making it increasingly difficult to sustain American influence around the world. And the promise of short-term commercial benefits threatens to override strategic considerations. As a consequence, we are jeopardizing the nation's ability to meet present threats and to deal with potentially greater challenges that lie ahead. We seem to have forgotten the essential elements of the Reagan Administration's success: a military that is strong and ready to meet both present and future challenges; a foreign policy that boldly and purposefully promotes American principles abroad; and national leadership that accepts the United States' global responsibilities. Of course, the United States must be prudent in how it exercises its power. But we cannot safely avoid the responsibilities of global leadership or the costs that are associated with its exercise. America has a vital role in maintaining peace and security in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. If we shirk our responsibilities, we invite challenges to our fundamental interests. The history of the 20th century should have taught us that it is important to shape circumstances before crises emerge, and to meet threats before they become dire. The history of this century should have taught us to embrace the cause of American leadership. Our aim is to remind Americans of these lessons and to draw their consequences for today. Here are four consequences: we need to increase defense spending significantly if we are to carry out our global responsibilities today and modernize our armed forces for the future; we need to strengthen our ties to democratic allies and to challenge regimes hostile to our interests and values; we need to promote the cause of political and economic freedom abroad; we need to accept responsibility for America's unique role in preserving and extending an international order friendly to our security, our prosperity, and our principles. Such a Reaganite policy of military strength and moral clarity may not be fashionable today. But it is necessary if the United States is to build on the successes of this past century and to ensure our security and our greatness in the next.” Also on the New America Foundation Board of Directors are: Christie Todd Whitman (former Gov. of NJ, and now President of the Whitman Strategy Group) and Fareed Zakaria, editor of Newsweek International. So, what am I saying? I'm just saying…Peter Bergen doesn't sound like he's up to any good, I wouldn't let Francis Fukuyama change my cat's litter box, and the New America Foundation may not be as non-threatening as they would like us to believe.

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