Fareed Zakaria Gets One Wrong...
Rasky-DeLong "Covering the Economy": Discussion Notes: Week of January 17

Daniel Drezner Intervenes Intellectually Outside His Home Area of Expertise

Daniel Drezner writes:

danieldrezner.com :: Daniel W. Drezner :: Bill Clinton is responsible for the Iran mess>: So I see Brad DeLong is intervening intellectually outside his home area of expertise, [writing]...

George H. W. Bush and his advisors worked like dogs to establish two principles: 1. Aggression and conquest across national borders would be rolled back by the world community. 2. Superpowers would not intervene militarily outside their home regions without the blessing and support of the entire U.N. Security Council. With these two principles in place, there was sound hope--well, some hope--that nonproliferation policy would succeed

Let's clear some brush here: 1) DeLong's principle number 2 has not and likely never will be a cardinal element of American foreign policy, and anyone who tells you differently is selling you something...

Well then, I guess George H.W. Bush and Brent Scowcroft are selling you something. They explicitly write that--since the Security Council mandate given the U.S. and the coalition in 1991 was to liberate Kuwait--crossing the border to Iraq to overthrow Saddam Hussein and "unilaterally exceeding the United Nations' mandate, would have destroyed the precedent of international response to aggression that we hoped to establish." On the one hand, Dan Drezner's opinions about the foreign policy of the George Bush I administration. On the other hand, George H. W. Bush's and Brent Scowcroft's opinions. Whose do you think are more reliable?


George H.W. Bush and Brent Scowcroft (1998), A World Transformed, pp. 489-90: Trying to eliminate Saddam [Hussein in 1991], extending the ground war into an occupation of Iraq, would have violated our guideline about not changing objectives in midstream, engaging in 'mission creep,' and would have incurred incalculable human and political costs.... We would have been forced to... rule Iraq. The coalition would instantly have collapsed, the Arabs deserting it in anger and other allies pulling out as well. Under those circumstances, there was no viable "exit strategy".... Furthermore, we had been self-consciously trying to set a pattern for handling aggression in the post-Cold War world. Going in and occupying Iraq, thus unilaterally exceeding the United Nations' mandate, would have destroyed the precedent of international response to aggression that we hoped to establish...

Shouldn't Dan Drezner stick to his home area of expertise--not intervene intellectually in areas, like modern American diplomatic history, where he appears so out of his depth?


UPDATE: Dan Drezner responds:

look at p. 356, Brad!!: "We would ask the [Security] Council to act only if we knew in advance we had the backing of most of the Arab bloc and we were fairly certain we had the necessary votes. If at any point it became clear we could not succeed, we would back away from a UN mandate and cobble together a independent multinational effort built on friendly Arab and allied participation. The grounds for this would be the initial UN resolution condemning Iraq, the subsequent resolutions, and Article 51, along with a request from the Emir of Kuwait. In the end, if sanctions failed and it came to using force, [Richard] Haass and [Bob] Kimmitt reminded us that our ability to rally the necessary political support, with or without UN endorsement, would be enhanced significantly if we were seen to have tried hard to make diplomacy work [with Hussein]..."

To which I say, touche...