Saturday, July 17, 2004

Gary Hart: no joke.

Gary Hart.  Mention his name and you are bound to get a snicker.  Donna Rice . . . "Monkey Business" . . .  But consider this from tomorrow's review (in the N.Y. Times) of his new book, The Fourth Power:
Few Americans have more right to say ''I told you so'' than Gary Hart. During the 1990's, when the foreign policy establishment was obsessed with Star Wars and other issues left over from the cold war, Hart headed a commission on national security with another former senator, Warren Rudman. Its report, issued early in 2001, warned of catastrophic terrorist attacks in which ''Americans will likely die on American soil, possibly in large numbers.'' Incredibly, the work of the Hart-Rudman commission was widely ignored by the press and the Bush administration.

''The Fourth Power'' builds on the many ideas of the commission, offering sweeping recommendations for how America should orient its foreign policy in the 21st century. Hart's timely central argument -- an alternative to both the neoimperialist impulses of the Bush administration and the creeping Kissingerian realism of the Kerry campaign -- is that the traditional military, political and economic powers of American foreign policy should be constrained by and imbued with a fourth power, America's unique principles. To those who advocate a crusading foreign policy of preemption to ''rid the world of evil'' and spread democracy -- even at the point of a gun -- Hart argues that the first casualty would often be America's moral authority: ''There is a vast difference between advocating, as I do, that America live up to its own principles and advocating, as the Bush administration does, that the rest of the world live up to America's principles.'' At the same time, Hart counters Kerry's retreat to a Kissinger-style foreign policy, based largely on America's interests, with a humble but still idealistic internationalism, with the spread of liberal democracy at its core. It's a call for nation building without Abu Ghraib.

In 1993, Hart sent President Clinton a memo arguing that the end of the cold war was the ideal occasion to reorient the military ''for new missions relating to hostage rescue, counterterrorism, low intensity conflict, guerrilla warfare and stabilization of new democracies.'' Much of this prescient document is reprinted as an appendix. We were told.
posted by tommayo, 11:07 AM

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