Robert Stein 1924-2014

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Thursday, November 15, 2007

Friends, Foes and Who Knows?

The Musharraf Mess should remind Presidential candidates and voters that we are not living in Bush World any more, where other countries are either allies or enemies, good or bad guys to whom we either send tons of money or bunker-busting bombs.

Belatedly, the Administration is leaking word that they have doubts that Musharraf "can survive in office and have begun discussing what might come next."

Lesson #1 for the next President: If your foreign-policy people take five years to discover a not-very-subtle military dictator has been blowing smoke about his dedication to democracy and playing us for saps about opposing Islamic extremists, you need a whole new State Department and CIA. Or if they have been doing their jobs and nobody around you has been listening, you are surrounded by the wrong people.

Lesson #2: When an iffy ally like Musharraf is sitting on a stockpile of nuclear weapons, you don't want to wait until he is on the way out to start finding out where those weapons are, who controls them and reaching out to those who do.

Lesson # 3: Have all the photo ops you want with the Saudis, Iraqi Sunnis and al-Maliki's mob, but keep a close eye on what they are doing when there are no lights and cameras.

In a world where foreign relations have morphed from checkers to three-dimensional chess, the next White House is going to need a new generation of policy makers and analysts who can see beyond the outdated clich├ęs of the Kissingers, Brzezinskis and Podhoretzes.

Voters should be looking for clues about candidates who understand that.

1 comment:

anonymous said...

Sage advice from Mr. Stein.