Bob Zoellick and the Warm and Fuzzy GOP


Bob Zoellick, the investment banker who’s the leading candidate for the World Bank job, according to Irish punters, is the only Republican we’ve heard of who actually hugs endangered animals instead of blowing their heads off.

But will this dog hunt as the new World Bank president?

As Zoellick’s name continues to percolate, keep in mind that he was the designated hitter back in the 2000 presidential campaign to lay out the GOP’s foreign policy objectives.

His patter back then sheds light not only on what kind of internationalist he is but also on how 9/11 fit so beautifully into the GOP’s foreign policy objectives. No wonder everyone in the Bush regime was so motivated to invade Iraq.

Back in 2000, Zoellick, experienced in international diplomacy — unlike the deposed Paul Wolfowitz, who spent his time in Indonesia cozying up to Suharto and the army — was a war hawk who wasn’t a hawk. He’s not a neocon, but he was a signatory on their “New American century” manifesto to Clinton about Iraq before the Bush regime took office.

If you want to understand Zoellick, go back to January 2000, when he, Condoleezza Rice, and other Republicans mapped out the GOP’s world view for that year’s presidential campaign.

The essays by Zoellick and Rice in the January/February 2000 issue of Foreign Affairs show just how lucky the Bush regime was that 9/11 happened.

In “Campaign 2000: Promoting the National Interest,” Rice, then a Stanford professor, wrote:

With no Soviet threat, America has found it exceedingly difficult to define its “national interest.” Foreign policy in a Republican administration should refocus the country on key priorities: building a military ready to ensure American power, coping with rogue regimes, and managing Beijing and Moscow. Above all, the next president must be comfortable with America’s special role as the world’s leader.

Clinton, of course, wasn’t special enough. Zoellick, in his essay “Campaign 2000: A Republican Foreign Policy,” summed it up:

President Bill Clinton‘s intelligence and his ability to synthesize policy and politics at home held out the prospect that he could build on [George H.W.] Bush‘s initial efforts to redefine America’s position in the world. Unfortunately, the Clinton administration never adopted a guiding strategy or even demonstrated a sustained commitment to foreign policy. As a result, Clinton has failed to define a new internationalism for the United States, thus letting historic opportunities slip away.

Zoellick ripped Clinton’s “uncertainty on when and how to use American power — frequently hesitating, then overcommitting, and regularly failing to match means with ends,” adding:

This weakness has shadowed his initiatives to resolve humanitarian and ethnic strife with military intervention. His “nation-building” failure in Somalia was costly in terms of lives, the reputation of the United States, and America’s confidence that it can deal effectively with such problems.

And here was Zoellick on Clinton’s moves on permanently unhappy Haiti:

The U.S. invasion of Haiti and its multi-billion-dollar effort to bring “democracy” turned out to be an unhappy reminder that supposedly good intentions cannot save a flawed policy.

Feel free to compare this with George Bush Jr.‘s Iraq policy.

Anyway, Zoellick also noted:

Finally, many of Clinton’s ventures have the disquieting feature of being driven significantly by political polls and calculations; this perception has made it exceedingly hard for him to call credibly for bipartisan foreign policies.

Things never change, do they? Zoellick continued on this thread, but just note what has actually happened since the Bush regime took power. Here’s Zoellick:

The Clinton foreign policy style has also taken its toll abroad. The administration has caused too many countries to be weary, and even resentful, of the United States. The power of the United States is obvious to the world, but Clinton has failed to use that power wisely or diplomatically. His rhetoric has contained much hubris but little credibility. America is more influential if it speaks softly, but with firm conviction. If it asserts that it is committed to do everything, its commitments to everything are suspect.

“Much hubris but little credibility.” Uh-huh. After castigating Clinton for the very things that Bush Jr. wound up doing, Zoellick laid out the GOP plan, proclaiming that “five principles distinguish a modern Republican foreign policy.” Here’s the somewhat lengthy passage — please bear with me:

First, it is premised on a respect for power, being neither ashamed to pursue America’s national interests nor too quick to use the country’s might. By matching America’s power to its interests, such a policy can achieve its objectives and build credibility both at home and abroad. U.S. policy should respect the histories, perspectives, and concerns of other nations, but it should not be paralyzed by intellectual penchants for moral relativism. All states do not play equally important roles. Given America’s responsibilities in the world, it must retain its freedom to act against serious dangers.

Second, a modem Republican foreign policy emphasizes building and sustaining coalitions and alliances.

Third, Republicans judge international agreements and institutions as means to achieve ends, not as forms of political therapy. Agreements and institutions can facilitate bargaining, recognize common interests, and resolve differences cooperatively. But international law, unlike domestic law, merely codifies an already agreed-upon cooperation. Even among democracies, international law not backed by enforcement mechanisms will need negotiations in order to work, and international law not backed by power cannot cope with dangerous people and states. Every issue need not be dealt with multilaterally.

Fourth, a modern Republican foreign policy must embrace the revolutionary changes in the information and communications, technology, commerce, and finance sectors that will shape the environment for global politics and security.

Finally, a modern Republican foreign policy recognizes that there is still evil in the world — people who hate America and the ideas for which it stands. Today, we face enemies who are hard at work to develop nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons, along with the missiles to deliver them. The United States must remain vigilant and have the strength to defeat its enemies. People driven by enmity or by a need to dominate will not respond to reason or goodwill. They will manipulate civilized rules for uncivilized ends.

What happens when evil falls into your lap? What happens when you ignore the warnings, as Bush and Rice did in August 2001 when the President’s Daily Brief noted that Osama bin Laden might attack us with planes? What happens when you refuse to fill the key post of counterintelligence adviser, as the Bush regime did when Don Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, and Doug Feith blew off filling Brian Sheridan‘s post?

And if you’re spoiling for a fight, looking for a linchpin for your foreign policy, what’s better than 9/11? Of course no one wanted 9/11 to happen. But it was the perfect moment for the GOP.

The coalition of the willing goniffs was born: A campaign against Iraq would draw in a wide spectrum, from oil execs like Cheney to fanatical Zionists like dual-disloyalist Feith to the GOP’s powerful Christian right praying for Armageddon to the neocons and finally to the slightly more moderate Republicans like Rice and Zoellick looking for something to focus on as our “national interest” so we could re-establish our natural role as the planet’s top dog.

And Saddam Hussein was always in the back of their minds. Rice noted in her essay:

As history marches toward markets and democracy, some states have been left by the side of the road. Iraq is the prototype. Saddam Hussein’s regime is isolated, his conventional military power has been severely weakened, his people live in poverty and terror, and he has no useful place in international politics. He is therefore determined to develop WMD. Nothing will change until Saddam is gone, so the United States must mobilize whatever resources it can, including support from his opposition, to remove him.

Zoellick also had some harsh words for evil dictators, and while he was at it, he parroted the strong pro-Israel line of the new GOP:

The United States must counter those dangerous states that threaten its closest friends, such as Israel, or its vital interests, such as maintaining access to oil in the Persian Gulf. In dealing with the likes of Iraq and North Korea, the United States needs to offer consistent long-term directions to guide coalitions that will deter and even replace their brutal regimes.

Concessions to blackmail and threats, even if they serve as temporary expedients, will exacerbate these problems. The United States must retain the initiative so that its opponents are so worried about what America is planning that they cannot plot attacks or new forms of blackmail. Theater and national missile defenses will let the United States counter missiles carrying weapons of mass destruction from those countries that might target U. S. conventional forces or paralyze the United States if it intervenes against their threats. Time is on America’s side, not that of these decaying dictatorships — if the United States has the confidence and determination to stand up to, and if necessary defeat, its enemies.

But these weren’t calls for invading Iraq. As Rice wrote:

One thing is clear: The United States must approach regimes like North Korea resolutely and decisively. The Clinton administration has failed here, sometimes threatening to use force and then backing down, as it often has with Iraq. These regimes are living on borrowed time, so there need be no sense of panic about them.

What was needed was something that would justify the use of power, that would dissolve domestic opposition to such muscle-flexing against Iraq.

Face it: 9/11 was the best thing that ever happened to the Republican Party.

Now, whether the world needs another GOP foreign-policy architect to head the World Bank is another matter. One thing’s for sure: He wouldn’t be worse than Wolfowitz.