conciliators and dominators

I'm not fond of broad labels asa general rule, but in this case I ake an exception, out of grudging respect for the empirical, not political, utility of these: conciliators vs dominators in shaping foreign policy.

These classes transcend the traditional left-right or hawk-dove fault lines, and have emerged as a new division between schools of thought. Dominators are those who advocate a form of might makes right, whereas conciliators are more reliant on traditional agreements and treaties, as their respective underlying engines of international relations. The essay points out that dominators are now firmly in charge of foreign policy and as war with Iraq draws nearer and the lambasting of teh UN proceeds with more vigor by the Bush Administration (with rather ironic rhetoric of "relevance" being in danger if the UN does not simply acede to US policies), this characterization assumes more and more accuracy.

The essay does an excellent job of documenting dominator-behavior by the Bush Admin and examining the historical roots of each school. However, what is more interesting is an analysis of the common ground:

The overdrawn typology of dominators focused on muscular unilateralism and conciliators inclined to treaties and multilateralism is useful for ordering chaos, but the two camps also have much in common.

They both support superior U.S. conventional military capabilities, and provide generous funding to the Pentagon for these purposes. Both support improvements in U.S. intelligence-gathering capabilities, recognize the value of reducing deployed nuclear forces, and seek the earliest possible deployment of effective theater missile defenses. The two camps also agree that asymmetric threats and proliferation challenges are now paramount. And in the heat of a national election campaign, both camps voted by significant majorities to authorize the Bush administration to wage war against Saddam Hussein.

This argument is in parallel to the neo-conserative and neo-wilsonian division, functioning as an alternate description of the same phenomenon. It is possible to combine these labels and see that there is a pattern linking them. It is no coincidence that eth architects of foreign policy in the Bush Admin are peope like Perle, Wolfowitz, and Rumsfeld, who are teh dominator archetype, but who also fit the Likudnik label (which alludes to the central tenet of neocon belief, that US interests lie inextricably tangled with those of Israel).

The essay concludes that both conciliators and dominators are wrong and that a new synthesis is necessary:

Conciliators need the help of dominators to strengthen treaties, but dominators are intent on meting out justice, not on treaty-strengthening measures. The game plan favored by dominators is a sure-fire recipe for the militarization of U.S. nonproliferation policy. States fearing U.S. power projection capabilities will continue to seek deterrence through their own mass-casualty weapons and novel means to deliver them. Thus, rather than having a cautionary effect, even the successful use of force could breed additional cases of proliferation�unless military success is accompanied by the treaty-strengthening measures conciliators seek. The net effect of successful coercion accompanied by scorn for arms control and nonproliferation treaties would further weaken treaty regimes, setting the stage for more proliferation and more unilateral enforcement�unless the enforcer chooses isolationism instead.

A successful, long-term strategy of containing and rolling back proliferation therefore requires the leverage provided by dominators and the tools favored by conciliators. Dominators need the preferred instruments of conciliators as much as treaty supporters need the muscle that dominators would prefer to apply.

The article invokes"cooperative threat reduction" as a possible synthesis in this vein, but frankly I think this is the wrong approach, and disagree completely. In failing to make the link between neo-cons/wilsons and conciliators and dominators, the article misses the essential underlying point of the neo-s - that democracy is the ultimate desired end product. Rather than create an array of treaties backed by force to restrain threats from rogue states on a regional level, flourishing democracies will negate the rogue-behavior internally. This is the real long-term goal to work towards.

The problem with the neocon approach is of course that the commitment to democracy is mere lip-service. As can be seen with the Turkish Parliament vote to deny staging to US troops (though US troops are ignoring the refusal, apparently), sometimes democracies don't play ball. This is the reason that strongmen like Hosni Mubarak are favored over idealists like Nasser and Sadat. Ultimately, conciliators need to reaffirm their commitment to democracy as their primary platform.

No comments: