- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 21, 2000

The trio of Colin Powell, Richard Cheney and Condoleeza Rice represents a departure in U.S. foreign policy. They will possibly be joined by senior advisors of former President Bush, such as Robert Zoelick and Paul Wolfowitz. Conservative realism will become the conceptual framework and foundation for President-elect George W. Bush's foreign and security policies.

By conservative realism I mean the following: that the international system is essentially anarchic; that the centrality of the state, i.e. the administration, is at the center of foreign policy; and that power, essentially military power, is the foundation of a foreign and diplomatic U.S. policy.

The world is no longer bipolar, and with the end of the Cold War, it has become multipolar. The new Bush administration is fully cognizant of this remarkable change in the international system. Conservative realism is not a Bismarckian realpolitik. It is a philosophical position that will inform the administration's behavior in war and peace.

The Bush administration will abandon and, in fact, reject the last eight years of Clinton-Gore policy, which it considers to be misguided. The idea of social welfare masquerading as foreign policy will be sent to the dustbin of history. Only when it serves U.S. interests will "humanitarian war" be a U.S. strategic goal. International relations will not be conducted on the basis of the aspirations of social groups. The multiplicity of nongovernmental organizations will no longer substitute for U.S. foreign policy.

Power means the modernization of the military with effective defensive and offensive missions. The United States must project military power that is generous and dedicated to the fulfillment of democracy and market economy in the international system. Secretary of State-designate Powell said that U.S. internationalism will be fulfilled "not by using our strength and our position of power to get back behind our walls, but by being engaged with the world."

To paraphrase Fareed Zakaria, the international system must operate like a market economy: profits, competition, maximization of power.

The Bush internationalist orientation must be tested by its implementation. The trio of conservative realists will anchor U.S. foreign policy at the center, which was marginalized over the last eight years. The mission must relate to realities and to unpredictability, which is the essence of the international system. It must be related to facts, not to utopian aspirations that assume that all conflicts are resolvable. Foreign policy will no loner be reactive. It will project the political and military strength of the United States and the values of democracy and free capital. It is too early to project exactly how the administration will deal with issues and regions. Obsession with disarmament and proliferation must end. American power is not demonstrated by military cuts. The mission of the Army is not to baby-sit failed states and fratricidal ethnics, but to win a war.

A major strategic issue that will be a concern of the new administration is the relationship between he European Union, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the United States. The recent U.S. role in the Balkans will be reexamined. The reexamination will take place in connection with the future of NATO, and a serious question mark will be put on the European effort to establish a parallel defense organization. NATO and an independent European defense organization will only weaken one another.

The Europeans must make up their minds. Are they going to be contributing seriously to NATO, or do they prefer a military organization of their own? The resolution of this issue will demand intense U.S. diplomatic efforts. Working with the allies means finding common ground for common purposes.

Concerning the major European power, Russia, the new administration will no longer appease Moscow and subordinate U.S. policy to utopian hopes that Russia will turn democratic and capitalist by fiat. The trend in Russia is, unfortunately, to the contrary. Here again a vigilant diplomacy will be of utmost importance. A new missile system and doctrine must replace the antiquarian ABM Treaty.

Concerning East Asia and the Pacific Rim, the policy toward China must be clear. The mishmash of a policy of human rights and free market has proved to be unsuccessful. The last administration failed to persuade the Chinese to move toward democracy. When it comes to the free market, Chinese territorial aggression toward Taiwan could not be squared by a special trade relationship. The administration should support China's role in the World Trade Organization. Concurrently, it must be aware that the good intentions of the Chinese are not yet clear.

When it comes to the Middle East, the new administration has committed itself to the security of Israel, as all U.S. administrations have in the past. Their concern for the Palestinians is significant and important for peace. The new president will end the weekly communications between the White House and the parties. As Mr. Powell has said, the issue of Jerusalem must be left to the parties. The new Bush administration will bring a halt to the convoy of messengers that act as surrogates for the president in negotiating with the Israelis and Palestinians. You invite them to Camp David when they are ready to negotiate, not when you assume they are, as was the case this summer. The utopian aspirations of Oslo have long ago been demolished by Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. The Clintonian utopia must be confronted with the reality that the Palestinians are not yet ready for peace with Israel.

Finally, Mr. Powell has committed to bringing an end to international terrorism, a most daunting task calling for a supreme effort to raise the level of intelligence sources and methods throughout the intelligence community. The proof is in the pudding.

Amos Perlmutter is a professor of political science and sociology at American University and editor of the Journal of Strategic Studies.

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