Saturday, November 06, 2004

The World Today - Foreign policy a challenge for Bush in his second term

The World Today - Foreign policy a challenge for Bush in his second term: "Foreign policy a challenge for Bush in his second term PRINT FRIENDLY EMAIL STORY
The World Today - Thursday, 4 November , 2004 12:18:00
Reporter: Eleanor Hall
ELEANOR HALL: The most urgent and potentially dangerous challenges for the next Bush administration are likely to be in the areas of foreign policy.

So will a second Bush administration adopt a more moderate approach to foreign policy, as some analysts have been suggesting, or will President Bush' decisive victory embolden the neo-conservatives?

One foreign policy analyst well placed to answer this is Dr Lawrence Korb.

A former Assistant Secretary of Defence in the Reagan administration, Dr Korb is now Senior Fellow at the Centre for American Progress and a former Deputy President of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Dr Korb spoke to me a short time ago from his home in Virginia.

LAWRENCE KORB: I think that the neo-conservatives will be emboldened by the victory, since so much of the campaign was fought on foreign policy grounds. That's not why the President won, but basically this war dominated, virtually, the last month of the campaign.

ELEANOR HALL: Now we heard House majority leader, Tom Delay, say today that this victory means it's time not just to fight the war on terror, but to win it outright. What do you think he means by that?

LAWRENCE KORB: Well, I think what he basically means is that we should continue the policy of regime change for those groups that support terrorists, and we ought to follow up more on the President's admonition, you know, either you're with us or against us, and if you don't support us in this war, then we will go on without you, and we'll go after those people who we think are supporting the terrorists.

ELEANOR HALL: Now, presumably the choice of personnel in the next administration is going to be critical in the future of foreign policy. Do you believe that Donald Rumsfeld will stay, and who do you think might replace the dove in the first administration, Colin Powell?

LAWRENCE KORB: Well, Secretary Rumsfeld wants to stay, because he wants to finish the transformation of the military to take our military out of the, as he puts it, out of the industrial age more into the information age, and he was not able to get much of that done in the first Bush administration because of the war, the attacks of September 11th.

I think if you take a look at the Secretary of State, this is going to be a key indicator – if the President should reach across the aisle and get somebody like a Senator Biden, for example, a leading Democrat, then I think you would see an indication of getting the parties to work together.

On the other hand, I think if he goes with one of his own people, like somebody like Condoleezza Rice, the National Security Advisor, or Paul Wolfowitz, the Deputy Secretary of Defence, then I think it's an indication he plans to continue the same type of policy he's had in the first administration.

ELEANOR HALL: Now, you're a former Assistant Defence Secretary yourself. If you were advising the President right now, what would you be telling him are the most important foreign policy measures he should take immediately?

LAWRENCE KORB: Well, I think what he has to do is get help from the rest of the world to deal with the situation of Iraq. Our situation is… our military is overstretched very badly, and we're vulnerable in places like Korea, for example, or if something should happen in the Taiwan straits.

I think the next thing that he needs to do is work together, primarily with the Europeans, on Iran. Iran is a very dangerous situation, and also work with our allies – with China, Russia, Japan and South Korea – to deal with the situation in North Korea.

ELEANOR HALL: How likely do you think it is that he will be able to reach out to European allies, for example, in a second administration?

LAWRENCE KORB: I think it'll be very difficult. One thing he could do is move on areas that are important to Europe that are not directly connected with the war on terror –the International Criminal Court, for example, the Kyoto Protocol – those are issues that are very important to the Europeans.

And if he would sit down with them and try and work out some of the objections that the United States has to those arrangements, I think that would go a long way to creating an environment which he could then cooperate in situations like Iraq and Iran.

ELEANOR HALL: And how confident are you that the US will head in the right direction, as you see it, in terms of national security and foreign policy over the next four years?

LAWRENCE KORB: Well, unfortunately, I don't think it'll be able to continue on this idea, sort of, unilateral if they can, multilateral only if they must, rather than sort of the opposite way in which the Republican Party from Eisenhower to his father, which was 'always multilateral if we can, unilateral only if we must' approach.

ELEANOR HALL: Do you think there's likely to be division inside the Republican Party then?

LAWRENCE KORB: Well, I think divisions will occur if the situation in Iraq is not brought under control, because while the American people did vote for the President, they did it in spite of his Iraq policy, not because of it.

And if that situation continues to drag on with casualties – we're now getting close to 1,200 casualties – and every day there's some horrible thing going on in Iraq, and if there doesn't seem to be any end to it, I think you're going to see opposition from his own party from people like Senator Lugar and Senator Hagel.

ELEANOR HALL: And how high do you think the stakes are in the next four years, particularly in terms of foreign policy?

LAWRENCE KORB: Well, I think they're very, very high, because if we don't get the situation with al-Qaeda under control, there's liable to be more attacks, not only on the United States, but on its interests and its friends around the world.

And we now know that because of the way in which we handled Afghanistan and also going into Iraq without a clear reason, we have basically increased al-Qaeda – it's metastasised – it's now in some 60 countries, and you have many people in the Arab world that see our invasion of Iraq as an indication that Osama bin Laden may have been correct about what he says about the United States.

ELEANOR HALL: You're a former member of a Republican administration, but you essentially seem to be saying that the first Bush term did not get it right on critical things like the war on terror.

Would you have preferred a Kerry win?

LAWRENCE KORB: Well, I think I would have preferred a different approach in foreign policy, and it looked like Kerry… Kerry actually had the same foreign policy as Bush's father did, and this was my Republican party, as I mentioned, from Eisenhower through his father, this is the way that he was approaching it.

I mean, the Democratic Party has become the, if you will, the party of international realism, whereas the Bush administration has a very, very idealistic radical approach to the world.

ELEANOR HALL: What hope do you have that that ideological approach might change? Where could the change come from?

LAWRENCE KORB: Well, I think the one hope for changes would be that President Bush begins to worry about his place in history, and then becomes concerned about the legacy he will leave, and he would not want to leave office with the United States' prestige around the world at an all time low.

ELEANOR HALL: And how confident do you think that we may see that change, at least in the second half of this next administration?

LAWRENCE KORB: Well, I'm not terribly confident, based upon everything that I see in terms of even the President's speech today, that he will do that.

And of course Vice President… you still have the same Vice President Cheney, who's very influential and is really sort of the architect of the approach that the President has taken to the world.

ELEANOR HALL: Former Assistant Secretary of Defence in the Reagan administration, Dr Korb, who's now Senior Fellow at the Centre for American Progress, speaking to me from Virginia."

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