Sunday, March 26, 2006

The Strategy Of Good Vs. Evil As Portrayed My Madeleine Albright

From the LA Times comes this op-ed piece by Madeleine Albright, entitled, Good versus evil isn't a strategy. In this essay, she criticizes the strategy of portraying this war as a battle, between good and evil. She also attempts to link it to the issue of Iran's current behavior. Here is a snippet:

(All emphases, in all quotes, are mine)


THE BUSH administration's newly unveiled National Security Strategy might well be subtitled "The Irony of Iran." Three years after the invasion of Iraq and the invention of the phrase "axis of evil," the administration now highlights the threat posed by Iran— whose radical government has been vastly strengthened by the invasion of Iraq. This is more tragedy than strategy, and it reflects the Manichean approach this administration has taken to the world.

It is sometimes convenient, for purposes of rhetorical effect, for national leaders to talk of a globe neatly divided into good and bad. It is quite another, however, to base the policies of the world's most powerful nation upon that fiction. The administration's penchant for painting its perceived adversaries with the same sweeping brush has led to a series of unintended consequences.


I am sure her heart is in the right place; but as usual, I must take her views to task, as they are not based on sound logic and judgement. I have two major points on this:

1. Look at this map. From a military-ground forces standpoint, what country is flanked by countries with U.S forces inside? Strategic advantage: United States. Strategic disadvantage: Iran.

Doesn't look so bad, now does it?

2. Madeleine seems to have some problems with short-term memory. In 1999, she used this argument to justify U.S. involvement, in the NATO action conducted against Serbia, while ignoring the looming threat of Islamofascism.

So, with that said, let's zero on this aspect of the debate.

In her book, Madam Secretary: A Memoir, chapter 22 is entitled, A Special Kind of Evil. Reviewer Robert D. Steele notes the following:
Most troubling to me is the chapter on terrorism, chapter 22, titled "A Special Kind of Evil." In exactly 17 pages (.03 of 512 text pages), Albright manages to gloss over the fact that she deliberately and repeatedly sided with Sandy Burger in constantly suppressing intelligence that warned suicidal terrorism was on the rise, and took a back seat--or no seat--on the subject of devising a national grand strategy for counter-terrorism. She is proudest of getting $1 billion for turning our Embassies into bunkers, something 9-11 demonstrated to be inconsequential.


Note how she calls it evil. But as we know from watching the Clinton Administration in action, they did not treat it, as such. In fact, as Mr. Steele states, there was no inclination by that administration to treat it as a "war" issue. Instead, it was treated purely as a "law enforcement" issue, from the eyes of a defense attorney, whose primary objective is to defend the perpetrators. Case in point, we were offered bin Laden, but the President didn't think we had a legal basis to hold him.

In 1999, during an interview with Jim Lehrer, while trying to justify the decision to bomb Serbian targets, she referred to Milosevic as "evil".


JIM LEHRER: But you take your knowledge of the... of what is intended militarily and what your knowledge... what you know diplomatically on your own and through Holbrooke and Hill and others who have been on the ground there, etc., been involved in this, you've been involved in this a long time, do the two come together? In other words, it adds up to you that this military action can cause this diplomatic result in terms of Milosevic?

MADELEINE ALBRIGHT: Well, I think that if you put together all the calculations as you've discussed them, there is the very best chance that this will happen. One of the hardest parts here is dealing with a cruel and evil man like Milosevic who is only interested in maintaining himself in power and doesn't care at all about his people or even what the world thinks of him. But I think that if you calculate this on the basis of what we have been trying to do diplomatically and the strength, the force that we're putting in there, we believe that the objectives that I've outlined deter and damage our are achievable.


Hmmm. Milosevic was evil. And it was okay to refer to him as evil, so as to effectively sell the concept of bombing a sovereign nation. So what's the difference between Milosevic and Saddam? Did not both kill, innocent people? In fact, if you could get an accurate count, you would most likely find that Saddam was responsible for far more deaths than Milosevic. So then, why does the term evil apply to Slobodan, and not Saddam?

Not convinced yet? Try this.

In a BBC report by Alan Little, let's look at how she refers to Milosevic:


LITTLE

The western world was still haunted by a profound collective guilt: it knew it had waited too long to intervene in Bosnia. Now one woman resolved not to make the same mistake again.

MADELEINE ALBRIGHT
US SECRETARY OF STATE

I believed in the ultimate power, the goodness of the power of the allies and led by the United States. We were dealing which such a basic evil, that could not be tolerated.

LITTLE

That evil was the Milosevic regime. For more than a decade, he had wrapped himself in the symbols of Serb identity. He'd persuaded the Serbian people that they were surrounded by predatory enemies, and led them to war against their neighbours. Milosevic needs conflict to stay in power. The world had failed to defend the Bosnians against Milosevic. In 1995, Serb forces marched into Srebrenica and murdered seven thousand Bosnian Muslim men and boys. In the west, many came to believe that the lessons of Bosnia could now be applied to the very different circumstances of Kosovo.

MADELEINE
ALBRIGHT

Milosevic was the same, evil Milosevic who had started this whole thing actually in Kosovo by denying them of their rights. And that we just had to stand up.



We could go on and on. But the bottom line is simple, the best way to lose credibility with the American people is to openly practice hypocrisy. That being the case, it's easy to see that this essay in the LA Times is nothing more than a feeble attempt to keep partisan politics in the news and to discredit the President for making his stand against the "evil" he perceives that we are facing in this day (just as they acted against what they saw was an "evil", in their day).

We can add to that the fact, the evil event of our day could have possibly been prevented, with a little more attention turned towards it, rather than just trying to get Monica Lewinsky's name off of the front pages of every major newspaper, in the country.


It all comes down to priorities.

So, as anyone with half an analytical mind can see, there definitely is a double standard being applied by the MSM, the former Clintonites, today's Democratic Party, and the rest of the leftist hacks (that get an audience with the MSM). In this case, it was the LA Times that bit into this one.


There is also another double standard being applied here that is more subtle and gets overlooked by the left, more often than not. When Europe wants military action in a country with leadership that it has deemed evil, it's okay. But when the U.S.wants it, it is wrong.

Translation:

The good vs. evil argument does not apply, when a Republican inhabits the structure at 1600 Pennsylvannia Avenue, but is justified, when it's a Democrat.


23 comments:

Always On Watch said...

LA,
Book review I mentioned to you.

Always On Watch said...

LA,
Part of the strategy for winning World War II was for the Allies to unite the citizens. In doing so, the leaders (Churchhill, Roosevelt) did not try to find the good qualities in the enemy, but rather to proclaim the bad aspects.

Albright is off-base, IMO. Evil does exist, even if it isn't pc to say so.

Also, I have no patience with "collective guilt"--right out of the Sixties pot-smoking crowd.

Always On Watch said...

Mustang has a new posting today.

LASunsett said...

Shazzzzzam!!! I'm there.

All_I_Can_Stands said...

LA, great post! Absolutely fantastic. Allbright (known in other places as half-bright, notsobright, alldim and others) is really a national embarrassment. Your expose on her hypocrisy is like a torpedo. Your point on the map is great too. I have seen one other place point that out and it is very powerful. Maybe next time Bush speaks he should have a big copy of the map behind him. He can make big red circles around Iraq and Afghanistan to each side of him. When he moves out of the way, instead of it saying Iran, it could just say NEXT.

LASunsett said...

AICS,

Thank you sir. It's amazing what a Yahoo search with the words Madeleine Albright, evil, and Milosevic will show.

ms. miami said...

One can certainly find hypocricy from either party.

To me, the more important part is the damage done by distilling foreign affairs down to 'good' and 'evil' countries (as if the u.s. has alwasy been a force for 'good'). Certainly, there are leaders perpetrating human rights abuses all over the world (yet, the u.s. is highly selective in who it chooses to go after, usually based on economic concerns).

It's dumbing down a complex reality and it leads to policies that lack sufficient nuance.

All_I_Can_Stands said...

ms. miami, when it comes to the rest of the world I would contend that the US has consistently been a force for good. There have been many foreign policy blunders, but we have never been a force for evil.

To you the term evil seems trite, but the recognition of evil is critical in these days.

you said "Certainly, there are leaders perpetrating human rights abuses all over the world (yet, the u.s. is highly selective in who it chooses to go after, usually based on economic concerns)."

What is your point? Would you like us to go after every one? Would you prefer us to allow evil to fester and human rights abuse multiply? Everyone knows the UN does nothing about it. The lefty protesters won't even take a day to protest the human rights abuses in Sudan, China, N. Korea, Iran and many other places. So who or what is going to mitigate human rights abuse around the world?

What should the criteria be if we are to do anything around the world to address this issue? Did you have a problem going into Kosovo? A military action is quite expensive, if we must be selective it only makes sense our goals would be national security and economically minded.

I also notice you had no criticism for Ms. Albright's usage of the word "evil" back in her day.

ms. miami said...

all i can stands- first of all, let's have a discussion just the two of us and leave out the "left" and the "right"- i don't know these people.

i don't suggest that the u.s. become globocop since we don't have the resources, but would prefer that my government not pretend that it selects its targets based on human rights violations or to "spread democracy."

i personally dislike the use of the terms "good" and "evil" in any case since it is falsely simplistic and an attempt to propagandize in religious terms.

p.s. since the u.s. government has assisted in or carried out multiple political assasinations in the world, i hardly qualify us as "good."

A.C. said...

Excellent piece. The same folks who refuse to say there's no evil in the world have little trouble tagging it on Bush.

All_I_Can_Stands said...

ms. miami,

you said '...but would prefer that my government not pretend that it selects its targets based on human rights violations or to "spread democracy."'

First, there is an underlying assumption that the government can only have one reason for doing something. That is kindof like buying a house just because you like the back yard.

Like I said, since we can't do it all the choices are to do nothing OR to do something. If we choose to do something, we may have several reasons for making a selection.

As for spreading democracy, what do you think the middle east needs most? I would say freedom and democracy are at the head of the list.

you said 'p.s. since the u.s. government has assisted in or carried out multiple political assasinations in the world, i hardly qualify us as "good."'

While I am not aware of these details, I think there may be times where it would have been understandable. I think that taking out Castro, Kim Jong Il or Chavez would has a high probability for making the world a better place. Also, 3 bullets for Saddam and sons would have been a lot cheaper than the war. I am not wholesale endorsing assasination, just stating it does not automatically take a country off the "good" list.

LASunsett said...

Ms Miami,

Let me clarify the argument. Madame Albright brought up the good vs. evil thing. I merely exposed the hypocrisy of her arguments.

Surely you are not defending her. Or are you?

ms. miami said...

all i can stands-

my point was about how the government justifies its war activities. i would prefer that my government be honest with me and express its actual reasons for invading other countries. (whether it's one or more reasons isn't important to me)

regarding the potential assasination of castro or chavez, i disagree with the concept of relative morality.

lasunsett- my point was that focusing on the hypocrisy of politicians seems much less important to me than critiquing their appropriation of religious ideas for political purposes.

All_I_Can_Stands said...

ms. miami said, 'my point was about how the government justifies its war activities. i would prefer that my government be honest with me and express its actual reasons for invading other countries. (whether it's one or more reasons isn't important to me)'

where do you claim dishonesty. you seemed to imply that stating one reason and then stating another implied dishonesty. My counter point was that there could be more than one reason for doing something; thereby eliminating the notion of dishonesty.

LASunsett said...

my point was that focusing on the hypocrisy of politicians seems much less important to me than critiquing their appropriation of religious ideas for political purposes.

When someone uses an argument against a practice that they themselves have used, it is certainly worthy of pointing that out.

To the best of my recollection, there was no mention of religion. Just because someone makes a distinction between good and evil does not always mean they are attaching a "religious" tag to it. To ignore a moral aspect of any argument just because someone may take a religious message from it, is not a sound practice.

I don't know if you have kids or not, but when you teach a kid right from wrong, that is a distinction you must draw. How else can you teach a kid the difference between "desired" behaviors and "indesired" behaviors? Do you say that killing someone for no good reason is undesired? Even if that is the case, you are still drawing that distinction, even though you may not be calling it bad of evil.

How you can deny the concept of a good and evil, I do not understand. Flying airplanes into buildings that had nothing to do with U.S. government policy is not evil? Are you saying that a Palestinian with a bomb strapped to his body that gets on a school bus and detonates it, killing innocent school children, is not evil? At least the Japanese attacked a military target, we cannot say the same for al-Qaeda or Hamas, can we?

Finally, from your statements, I can only gather that your standard of good is perfection. And that argument cannot be based in sound reasonable logic, since people are not perfect. I also do not buy into the elitist conventional wisdom that states there is no good or bad, just misunderstandings. While it's true each individual has to determine his/her own distinctions of what is good and what is bad, that doen't negate the fact there is good and bad.

Too simplistic? Well sometimes, we as humans make things much more complicated than they really are. And if that motive is to avoid the perception of some kind of force that guides this good and bad, then it would seem to me that some people are spending an inordinate amount of time, trying to deny the existence of such entities.

Left, right, good, evil, it makes no difference. They all still exist whether we want to over-explain it away, or not.

ms. miami said...

all i can stands- i feel that my government was very dishonest, or at least, intentionally misleading in justifying its invasion of iraq. you are welcome to disagree...

lasunsett-i think that you are going way off track from what i was discussing.

in my opinion, there is a big difference in describing the policies/acts of others as "bad" for our country vs. "evil," which connotes a sense of the cosmic. to me, it is inappropriate to use this term in the all-too-worldly realm of politics.

my standard of "good" is not perfection. however, i don't consider that my government has 'generally' been a force for good, as opined by others. i'm not saying that the u.s. is all good or bad, just that my personal tally is leaning towards the negative column.

you can call me elitist if you choose, but it really doesn't add anything to your argument.

All_I_Can_Stands said...

ms. miami,

where do you feel the government was dishonest? You have not specified.

Also, please provide the names of a few countries you would claim have been a force for good?

LASunsett said...

you can call me elitist if you choose, but it really doesn't add anything to your argument.

I didn't call you anything. I only described one ideal that is characteristic of an elitist:

I also do not buy into the elitist conventional wisdom that states there is no good or bad, just misunderstandings.

If that's where you fall, that's up to you to decide. And if that's what you decide, that's your business. But if that's your belief, then I disagree with you.

So how does that detract from my argument?

If you think that good and evil should not be used in the realm of politics, then tell that to Madame Albright. She used the term, evil, during her watch. But let's not stop there.

Recently Jimmy Carter used the term in a quote:

War may sometimes be a necessary evil. But no matter how necessary, it is always an evil, never a good. We will not learn how to live together in peace by killing each other's children.

Howard Dean speaking about Republicans in a speech last year said:

"This is a struggle of good and evil. And we're the good."

So if you are sincere in your assessment of this, you won't mind criticizing these people for using the term, as well. They used them in a "worldly" political realm, as well. Don't just selectively use it against an Administration you oppose, but apply it fairly across the board.

ms. miami said...

all i can stands- the bush administration based their invasion on the premise of security threats, which in my opinion, were very insufficiently researched. perhaps you disagree, but i personally require more due diligence from my government before exposing our people and resources to war. in any case, democracy-spreading became the "top reason" much later.

lasunsett- sorry if i misunderstood your elitist reference.

regarding the rest, i think that you still don't get my point. one could spend years finding where politicians of every stripe contradict themselves or seem hypocritical. i would rather focus my energy on critiquing some of the inappropriate methods any politican is using...

let me just say that i refuse to get sucked into this so-frequently played game wherein people accept an identity with some sort of un-nuanced bloc (left or right), then fall into scripted argumentation to "attack" the other side.

we currently have huge political issues to deal with, is this what's really important to you?

All_I_Can_Stands said...

"the bush administration based their invasion on the premise of security threats, which in my opinion, were very insufficiently researched. perhaps you disagree, but i personally require more due diligence from my government before exposing our people and resources to war. in any case, democracy-spreading became the "top reason" much later."

ms. miami, how can you say insufficiently researched? First, all other major intelligence agencies from other countries were in agreement in thinking that Saddam had WMD. Second, aside from the best intelligence efforts around the world how else could they have researched the issue without actually being on the ground in Iraq?

- We have multiple intel agencies claiming there were WMD
- We have the fact that Saddam did not provide full proof that he destroyed a stash we knew existed
- We have "US hostile" Hans Blix claiming before the war that he was fed up with Iraq's "cat and mouse games" in keeping inspectors from doing their jobs
- We have a known tight connection by Baathist party between Saddam's Iraq and Syria; making it a very likely scenario that Syria could and would take the WMD before the war
- We have Russia and China acting aggressively against our interests consistently, especially before the war; stalling the security council
- We have former Iraqi generals now claiming the WMD moved to Syria
- We have the Docex documents pointing toward supporting these claims

None of this is provable, but it is just as provable as the claim there was no WMD. There is certainly enough info to cast doubt on claims that the US lied or did not do due diligence.

ms. miami said...

all i can stands- like i said, 'sufficient' due diligence is a difference of opinion

LASunsett said...

let me just say that i refuse to get sucked into this so-frequently played game wherein people accept an identity with some sort of un-nuanced bloc (left or right), then fall into scripted argumentation to "attack" the other side.

This blog will not now, nor will it ever be guilty of such scripted argumentations. But there are times that an argument must be attributed to the people that are making it. Sometimes they are on the left and sometimes they are on the right. And when I disagree with either, I will say so. And I assure it it won't be because someone else says so, unless they present a reasonable argument to support their claims.

we currently have huge political issues to deal with, is this what's really important to you?

It is on a slow news day. And the day I wrote this, was just that.

BTW. Thanks for reading, I know you don't agree with me a whole lot, but your comments are always welcome here. Even though I don't always agree with you, you present your arguments courteously and with class (as does SF). And that is the only requirement I have for commenting. :)

PS-AICS must think so too, or he wouldn't take the time to debate with you. Check his blog out sometime and put your two-cents worth in, I know for a fact that he won't mind a bit.

All_I_Can_Stands said...

LA and ms. miami, good interchange. It is for these types of thoughtful yet courteous interchanges that keep me bloggin'.