America the Arbiter? Hubris Has No Place in Foreign Relations

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), December 12, 2008 | Go to article overview

America the Arbiter? Hubris Has No Place in Foreign Relations


Byline: Daniel L. Davis, SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON TIME

Robert Kagan is one of the most influential and well-known authors and opinion-influencers on foreign affairs in the United States. He is a former speech writer for Secretary of State George Shultz, is a member of the prestigious Council on Foreign Relations, and was most recently a foreign policy advisor to presidential candidate John McCain. His views are given serious weight by many decision-makers in America and it is for this reason his latest work should be countered and firmly opposed, as it contains concepts and ideas that could prove to be antithetical - and therefore dangerous - to the interests of the United States.

In a December 2nd Washington Post article entitled The Sovereignty Dodge, Mr. Kagan begins by addressing a very serious issue, pointing out legitimate concerns regarding the growing and dangerous rift developing between India and Pakistan over the tragic terrorist attacks in Mumbai. It is very likely that the terrorists who planned and executed those attacks had some degree of assistance from organizations operating in Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), an essentially ungoverned region bordering Afghanistan. There is widespread and legitimate concern from the governments of several nations - including the United States - regarding the ability of terrorist organizations to operate outside effective government control in Pakistan. Mr. Kagan's prescriptions for this serious problem, however, would almost certainly do more harm than good, potentially resulting in a major regional war.

He suggests that if Pakistan can't adequately police its territory, the international community should declare parts of Pakistan ungovernable and a menace to international security and send in a military force to root out terrorists. Mr. Kagan then bizarrely suggests that Islamabad might save face with its people by supporting a plan to bring in European Christian armies to conduct combat operations on Pakistani soil against Muslims.

If the Western world has learned anything over the past seven-plus years of war in the Muslim-dominated countries of Afghanistan and Iraq, it's that they despise occupation forces and will not hesitate to use violence to force them out. How he imagines a foreign military force rooting out terrorists from the mountainous region of the FATA - which is even more treacherous than the lawless areas of Afghanistan - is not explained. As significant, he doesn't explain how this idea for Pakistan would succeed when NATO and American forces who have been conducting just such a mission in Afghanistan for the past seven years, have not.

But apparently Mr. Kagan isn't concerned with how his plan might be received by the people or government of Pakistan, as he rhetorically asks: Would such an action violate Pakistan's sovereignty? …

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America the Arbiter? Hubris Has No Place in Foreign Relations
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