A Scorecard: Bush's Hawks & Doves
Jude Wanniski
December 19, 2000


Memo To: Website Fans, Browsers, Clients
From: Jude Wanniski
Re: To Bomb or Not to Bomb?

If you are new to the foreign-policy/national security game, you really need a scorecard to keep track of the hawks and doves flying around the President-elect -- that is, the folks who always are looking for trouble and places to bomb, and those who want to head off trouble and prefer diplomacy. Over the weekend, Mr. Bush announced his first appointments in this realm, naming General Colin Powell as his Secretary of State and Condoleezza Rice as the National Security Advisor. General Powell is very definitely a dove, which is why I’ve always thought he was such a popular fellow with the American people. Diplomacy first, force later. Ms. Rice is an academic who I suspect is more hawkish, only because she gets along so well with the hawks, but we shall see. The leading hawks flitting about are two former Pentagon intellectuals who served in the Reagan administration, Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz. Shoot first, ask questions later. In his Wall Street Journal column Monday, Editor Robert L. Bartley puts in a plug for these two fellows -- whom Colin Powell probably would call “bombers,” if he were not so polite.

On Bartley’s “OpinionJournal.com” website yesterday, the lead feature is by Jack Heilbrunn, a prominent “think tank” hawk who is generally unhappy if we are not bombing Arabs or Muslims or the occasional Serb, somewhere in the world. As you see from the headline, “Win Another One for the Gipper,” Heilbrunn assumes that if Ronald Reagan were President today, he would be looking for places to bomb, as if Reagan were a bomber. I’m reminded that long after V.I. Lenin died, the Stalinists justified every bloody purge on the grounds that if Lenin had lived, he would have ordered it too! Heilbrunn is nervous that Bush is loading up his team with doves. Note his concern that Wolfowitz may be brushed aside as Defense chief and given the CIA to play with. Sadly, I’m afraid Wolfowitz will get the CIA, making it easier for him to identify places where we should bomb. One of the chief reasons I almost did not vote for Bush was out of fear that the bombers around him would continue to goad Moscow, Beijing, Teheran and New Delhi into a hostile alliance against us. Clinton/Gore have been doing that a little-at-a-time, themselves goaded by GOP hawks. There’s nothing these boys like better than a good-old-fashioned shoot-’em-up. They don’t like to see our weapons get rusty. Although Vice President-elect Dick Cheney was Secretary of Defense in the last Bush administration, I still count him more dove than hawk. He even gets along with Arabs. Thank goodness for that.

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Win Another One for the Gipper
Where are the Reaganites on Bush's foreign-policy team?


By common consent, George W. Bush has assembled the foreign policy equivalent of the 1927 New York Yankees' Murderer's Row. With Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice slated to become secretary of state and national security adviser respectively, Mr. Bush effectively immunized himself against charges of inexperience during the campaign. As he prepares to assume the presidency, however, there are grounds for concern.

The need for unanimity during the campaign masked the divide, but the suppressed splits between realists and neoconservatives are now emerging. If Mr. Bush relies exclusively on his father's old team to staff his administration, he risks ignoring a more important presidential legacy -- Ronald Reagan's.

When Mr. Reagan became president, he didn't just defeat the McGovernism of the Democratic Party. He also repudiated the realist policies of Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger, who believed that the best that the U.S. could do, in the wake of Vietnam, was to manage its decline gracefully. They sought to tie the Soviet Union into the international community with a web of arms control treaties and economic deals. Neither Nixon nor Mr. Kissinger believed in taking the Soviet Union to task for its human-rights abuses. In their view, Soviet behavior at home and abroad was supposed to be moderated by détente. The opposite occurred. The Soviet Union was emboldened, and American power diminished precipitously.

Mr. Reagan, who was anything but "realistic," took a very different approach. He embraced the neoconservative vision of promoting democracy abroad, both with military force and through institutions such as the National Endowment for Democracy. He insisted that the Cold War was a battle between good and evil, and he demonized the "evil empire."

The foreign-policy establishment fretted that Mr. Reagan was running the risk of nuclear war. But instead of creating a nuclear holocaust, his moralistic crusade forced the Kremlin leadership to engage in internal reform, which led to its demise. Mr. Reagan helped bring about the collapse of the Soviet Union. The lesson of the Reagan presidency is that internal political change of hostile regimes, not diplomatic flummery or a balance of power, is the key to maintaining American power.

George Bush père and his advisers, however, looked askance at Mr. Reagan's exuberant belief in democracy and capitalism. Caution was their watchword. In a sea of "new world disorder," they clung to the melting glacier of geopolitical realism. National security adviser Brent Scowcroft reacted with alarm to the end of the Cold War, fearing instability in the Soviet Union's former territories. President Bush thus warned the Ukrainian parliament against a "suicidal nationalism."

The Gulf War was seen as a justifiable war only to ensure that Saddam Hussein did not gain control over oil in the region. Moral arguments for toppling Saddam cut no ice. Overthrowing the Iraqi tyrant, so the idea went, might destabilize the area. Similarly, the Bush administration refused to intervene in the Balkans. James Baker's only response was that Yugoslavia should remain a single entity with Slobodan Milosevic in charge.

Perhaps Mr. Bush's advisers, such as Ms. Rice, Robert Zoellick and Richard Haass, have learned from these episodes. Already the Bush team is making overtures to Russia about carrying out deep cuts in nuclear arsenals and, at the same time, making it clear that the new administration will move ahead with missile defense. Attempts to get Europe to contribute more to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and warnings against setting up a separate European defense force are also sound. By all accounts, Mr. Bush himself has been diligently working on national security issues.

And yet, the discomfort with which the Bush team regards the Reagan approach is palpable. Mr. Scowcroft, who has played an important role in the campaign, calls Mr. Reagan a "romantic." The foreign-policy motto of Mr. Bush's advisers still seems to be the Hippocratic oath -- first do no harm. Mr. Powell's "exit strategy" is a recipe for inaction. Ms. Rice has attacked Secretary of State Madeleine Albright's description of the U.S. as the "indispensable nation" and called for pulling the U.S. troops out of the Balkans. Mr. Haass has even recently written that American power is doomed to "erode" and that "the proper goal for American foreign policy...is to encourage a multipolarity characterized by cooperation and concert rather than competition and conflict." Can anyone imagine President Reagan saying something like that?

Mr. Bush should listen to Reaganite advisers such as Paul Wolfowitz and Richard Perle as well. Mr. Wolfowitz has always been skeptical of engagement with China, and he has been a staunch proponent of defending Taiwan. He has argued for bombing the Serbs and wants to step up military pressure against Saddam, including aiding the Iraqi opposition. Other neoconservatives Mr. Bush might consider naming to posts include the Carnegie Endowment's Robert Kagan, Princeton University professor Aaron Friedberg, and the American Enterprise Institute's Jeffrey Gedmin, an expert on NATO.

But don't count on it. The word is that Mr. Wolfowitz may be shunted aside to director of the Central Intelligence Agency rather than be offered a major cabinet post like Defense. If Mr. Bush is really intent on reshaping foreign policy, however, he should consider winning another one for the Gipper.

Mr. Heilbrunn writes on foreign affairs for the National Interest and the Times Literary Supplement.