In Praise of Lesser Evils
Can Realism Repair Foreign Policy?
To the Editor:
Condoleezza Rice's "Rethinking the National Interest" (July/August 2008) presented the secretary of state with a unique opportunity to use the forum of this magazine productively. Unfortunately, the fundamental policies of the Bush administration have not changed, and her article was nothing more than a restatement of previous failed policies. Such pronouncements in the twilight of her tenure are nothing more than rhetorical justifications for the failed ideologies, poor judgments, and gross misuse of power that have characterized the Bush administration's foreign policy.
Rather than refute her claims of success one by one, it is enough to repeat what is publicly known and a matter of record. The Iraq war was not a war of necessity. Its initial stages were characterized by poor planning, the selective use of intelligence, and insufficient combat and occupation resources. For three and a half years following the invasion, George W. Bush, Rice, and other key policymakers in the administration were in a state of denial, and Iraq degenerated into open civil war. Five years, 4,100 American military deaths, and $700 billion later, the debacle continues.
Secretary Rice's vision, view of history, and accounting of the foreign policy status quo are fictional at best. In January 2009, she will leave office. The rest of us will be left to deal with our relatives who have experienced the war firsthand, pay for the war with our taxes, and strive to develop a nonideological foreign policy that reflects the United States' form of government and the practical limits of its power.
Steven L. Hull
Captain (Retired), U.S. Navy