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The President and the Secretary

Is America doomed to live in the shadow of most paranoid opinions?

The US administration proved to be rather active in May. Both the president and the secretary of state of the USA were traveling and releasing a variety of statements. Being used to certain similarities, the people started talking about the “good and bad” of the policy, which embraced the entire global consciousness exercising both the clearly visible brutality (Condoleezza Rice) and the verbal tolerance (President Bush). It unintentionally brings up a question of the true face of the US-led foreign policy.

Peculiarity of internal forces correlation

It was the first time in a hundred years when the Republican Party took over the White House, the Senate and the House of Representatives for the second time in a row. It happened before only after the North's victory over South in the Civil War. The colossal power was concentrated in the hands of the administration of the Republican Party only. The party, however, had its Center, its Rightist and Leftist wings. Let us analyze the correlation of these factions as they were approaching the power in the USA.

To be more precise, the leftist wing, the former Atlantic establishment, has been pushed aside from power. The political power has been divided between the center (which we would refer to as democratic imperialists) and the rightist flank of Republicans (they usually call them Neoconservatives). Neoconservatives comprise the first former Undersecretary of Defense, who currently chairs the World Bank – Paul Wolfowitz; Deputy Chairman of the vice president's headquarters, Lewis “Scooter” Libby; the curator for issues of the Middle East, Southeast Asia and Northern Africa in the National Security Council, Eliot Abrams; a member of the council for the development of the defense politics, Richard Pearl. Other Neoconservatives talk about politics, but they do not form it – they are its philosophers: Max Boot in Wall Street Journal, William Kristol in Weekly Standard, Charles Krauthammer in Public Interest and Commentary. Philosopher Sidney Hook, Irving Kristol and Robert Kagan write books. Jean Kirkpatrick is a teacher. James Woolsey, ex-director of the CIA talks about memories, Michael Novak studies theology. Neoconservatives are good at such analytical centers as the US Institute of Entrepreneurship, the Project for the New American Century, in such foundations as Bradley, John Olin and Smith Richardson.

The team of the US president (democratic imperialists) opposes Neoconservatives in the center. Such people are President George W. Bush, Vice President Richard Cheney, Defense Minister Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, the national security advisor. They do not regard Neoconservatives with favor all the time. Many of the “grands” condemned the vehement activity of Neoconservatives in the Balkans, skipped through international sections in Bush's speech, when George W. Bush was running for presidency. Liberal foundations – Ford, Rockefeller and McArthur are stronger: $833 million in 2003 against $68 million Neoconservative funds.

Neoconservative magazines have a smaller print run against such purely liberal ones as National Review, Nation, New republic, New Yorker, not to mention Time and Newsweek.

The credo of Neoconservatism can be formulated as follows: the public proclamation of the USA's superiority in international affairs, the reduction of the role of international organizations, striking preventive blows against potential adversaries, conducting any actions to prevent from the proliferation of WMD, suspecting even staunchest allies of fraud, destroying the axis of evil (Iran, Syria, North Korea), the active use of the exclusive fact of the American omnipotence (“history does not forgive inaction”). The mantra of Neoconservatives: the creation of nuclear weapons by one of the rogue states (aggressive states) is the biggest danger that the USA currently has to deal with. They believe that illegal groups that wish to penetrate into the USA might use the weapons for their subversive activities.

Neoconservatives celebrated the political omnipotence triumph during the tragic time for the USA. When the shocked country was seeking the lost balance after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the Neoconservatives immediately appeared on the international arena and put forward a series of active actions to the president and the administration on the whole. The actions complied with the then panic-gripped condition of the state, which faced no war on its territory for 150 years. The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq made Neoconservatives look into the matter in detail. Max Boot, one of the most active Neoconservative politician wrote that President George W. Bush concluded after the largest terrorist attack in the USA that the US administration could no more continue running “frugal” foreign politics.

Neoconservatives rejoiced at the ambitious National Defense Strategy, which the Bush's administration approved in 2002. The strategy declared the right of the US federal government to strike preventive blows in the event the nation's state agencies considered the policy of a certain state was anti-American. This is the document that American Neoconservatives cherish most.

Is the USA doomed to live in the shadow of most paranoid views that eventually might disperse the power of the USA, the giant, and deprive the country of most important allies and become an impossible attempt to carry out police functions in all directions? One can see the obvious inner-departmental struggle taking place in the White House, the Capitol and the Pentagon. If Neoconservatives were the winning party in the struggle, we would witness military actions against Iraq and Afghanistan a lot earlier. Now we would be witnessing the USA striking North Korea and Iran. Quite on the contrary, we can see first attempts of the Republican administration to establish contacts with the two parties.

There are enough sober-minded people in the USA, who are not intoxicated with the position of the only superpower. The quickly won war in Iraq (and in Afghanistan too) showed that peace was quickly vanishing too. A leading American sociologist, Immanuel Wallerstein, wonders why the USA's major military response to the terrorist attacks virtually became the incursion in the country, which had nothing to do with 9/11 attacks. “Full speed ahead!” This is the motto of the incumbent US administration. If the speed is reduced, the Bush's administration will look very stupid indeed, and the defeat later seems less painful than the crash today.

Neoconservatives firmly state (to be on the safe side) that they have been standing for more active, energetic and fast interference in the “national construction” in Iraq and Afghanistan. They already accuse Rumsfeld-type politicians of being sluggish, of having a skeptic attitude to the USA's participation in the creation of new states in the Middle East. They back the expansion of the American presence there. The modern American Neoconservatism is a powerful and united force, which can be quite sophisticated in ideological disputes and in the interpretation of the ultimate American course in the rest of the world.

Neo-conservatives sweep aside any similarities to Vietnam. They remind that England lost over 500 soldiers during the suppression of the Iraqi rebellion in Iraq in 1920, which is a lot more than the USA's current losses in Iraq. If the USA continues losing its servicemen in Iraq, if $87 billion assigned to Iraq do not stabilize the situation there, if NATO finds itself in a crisis, if the Shiite ayatollah regime is established in Iraq instead of democracy, the USA's image in the world will suffer a considerable damage, and America will start looking for a scapegoat. They already know what they will call it.

The central organizational element

The center of this world-ruling power is the National Security Council, which includes the US president and his assistants. This agency has more resources, power, prerogatives and abilities to use force in any part of the world. One may say that the US National Security Council enjoys more power than any king has ever had in world history. It is noteworthy that the Council was originally focused on the reaction from the USSR during the first 45 years of its existence. The Council obtained unimaginable powers after the break-up of the Soviet Union, although even the US Congress does not confirm such authorities. The Security Council does not receive much attention, but it functions daily and makes decisions, which affect the whole world. Those included in the Security Council represent the world's most influential elite. The council's members presently ignore the external reaction and opinions of other countries outside the US. It is noteworthy that the department's work remains unpunished – its members do not have to go through the procedure of parliamentary hearings.

The recent major person in charge of the US National Security Council, Condoleezza Rice, was undoubtedly closer to the president than any of her predecessors on the post of the president's national security advisor. Ms. Rice said once that she was spending up to six or seven hours next to the president. In addition, she became an “unofficial” member of the presidential family, as she was spending Sunday dinners and even vacations with the president's family.

Rice's loyalty to the president as a leader and a persona is obvious. Mr. Rice described the president as a person who has a lot more of strategic thinking than any other president that she had ever seen. “Something provokes his thought process time and again for intelligence estimations and moves to specify his strategic course. I have seen a lot of that in the summer residence in Camp David and at his ranch in Texas. We would sit down working on a certain issue and he would say all of a sudden: “You know, I just thought…The situation in China…” This is something that people do not understand when they talk about the president. If you are not sitting next to him in the Oval Office, you will not be able to see it,” Condoleezza Rice said about the president.

Colin Powell has seen the two Bushes in the White House. Powell's opinion on the matter is quite similar: “Bush 43rd resembles Bush 41st with his readiness to act, although it was a process for the 41st. The process was preceded with special thinking, whereas the 43rd is more guided by internal navigation system, not by the intellect. He knows what he wants to do and what he wants to listen about how he can accomplish his goal,” Powell said.

The position of the traditional establishment

Rice's views about optimal activities of the US National Defense Council developed during her work in the Defense Council of George Bush, where Brent Scowcroft (the most influential presidential advisor after Henry Kissinger and Zbigniew Brzesinski) used to be her teacher. This is the elite, in which apologists and antagonists of the current course are conducting a modest, albeit extremely important struggle.

Brent Scowcroft is a staunch antagonist of the course conducted by the George W. Bush's National Security Council. Scowcroft identifies his struggle as the struggle of “traditionalists” that he used to lead, with the “transformists” that came with George W. Bush, pragmatics against Neoconservatives plus democratic imperialists, internationalists against unilateralists, people that won the Cold War against the fighters for the “war against terror.”

The latter split the erstwhile unity in the American elite, as they aggressively pushed triumphers of 1991 aside from the levels of fantastic power. Brent Scowcroft did not even chair the presidential council for external politics afterwards.

Scowcroft tried to explain the reasons of George W. Bush's disposition to radical decisions as follows: “The transformation occurred on September 11th. The incumbent president is very religious. He perceived it as something unique, a catastrophe that came from above during the time when he was the president of the United States. He perceived those events as a mission, his personal mission to put an end to terrorism.” Scowcroft added that the problem is about the absolute belief, a motive so noble that it OKs everything that is being done in revenge, for it goes about the just cause.

The analysis from Brent Scowcroft is clear: from traditional relations with allies to the Abu Ghraib scandal – the less moral ambiguity you have in your outlook, the easier it is to justify your actions.

According to Scowcroft, another problem springs from the fact that “if you believe that there is only good in what you do, then it would be a sin to deviate from the course.  It means that absolutism either creates dangerous political decisions or opens the United States to accusations of hypocrisy.

Scowcroft: “For example, you defend the thesis about the export of democracy and you find yourself in the arms of such leaders, whom you can not describe as followers of democracy that are always ready to stand for democratic ideals. Absolute truths cannot be called in question. It is impossible to practice pragmatism and brush all criticism aside. One may say that traditionalists declared war on transformists. As a result, the courses of the 41st and the 43rd presidents, father and son, traditionalists and transformists, become opposed to each other. According to Scowcroft, the 9/11 terrorists  attacks gave an opportunity to transformists to say that the situation in the world was worsening very fast, and that they had to be brave.

The contrast of the incumbent National Security Council and the council that Scowcroft used to chair is obvious. Condoleezza Rice is proud of her creation: “I would not like to have the National Security Council that would bear some resemblance to Brent's council. It was dealing with coordination, not efficient issues. It was smaller and less energetic,” said she. Chairing the National Security Council, Rice required unconditional loyalty, the total subordination to the president's course and habits. “Supporting the president is your first duty. If the president wishes to have a text printed in size 12 font, but you are giving him a text of 10-sized font, you must provide the president with a necessary font size.”

The liberal establishment – traditionalists affirm that Mr. Rice has turned the National Security Council to an organization that serves to individual whims of one person instead of serving to national interests.

”There are two models to execute the functions of a national security advisor: to provide the president with information and govern the council as an organization. The difficult thing about it is to solve both problems at once,” Scowcroft says.

Traditionalists believe that being the national security advisor, Condoleezza Rice was always busy with being on president's side. She would always whisper something to his ear, and became his alter ego in foreign policy issues. It changed the role of the National Security Council as the center of the analysis, capable of being critical to its own course.

As a result, president's loyalists started perceiving Secretary of State Colin Powell, who was regarded in the world as the owner of the “voice of reason” next to the impulsive president, as a suspicious person. Powell had to make excuses to foreign audience on many occasions.  Powell started losing his influence and left the administration as a result. Powell's deputy, Marc Grossman, said: “We became red tape of no use.”

Traditionalists in the American diplomacy gave way to democratic imperialists in the face of Vice President Cheney and Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, the National Security Council chaired by Ms. Rice.

Thus, we can see that the traditional Atlantic establishment (personified by Scowcroft only at present) was defeated on the inner-political arena. The so-called “difference” in the approach of the US administration to global issues can be seen only in traces and differentiations of “democratic imperialists” and neo-conservatives. President George W. Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice reflect this inner struggle on the level of the US National Security Council.

Anatoly Utkin, especially for Pravda.Ru