Tuesday, July 06, 2004
America Deserves Better # 20
Due to travels, and some time lost to upgrade my internet access, I have been off-line for about 4 weeks, so I will be sending 2 or 3 letters in a row. One of the more interesting events recently has been the release of a statement by "Diplomats and Military Commanders for Change" News services have noted that for such apolitical national servants to issue such a statement is unprecedented in American history. That they felt so compelled to set such a precedent speaks for itself. Clearly they feel the same compulsion that has caused me to write these letters. Relative to Bush administration diplomacy, their statement fully supports the points I have been making. I hope you will find this exceptional initiative persuasive. For more information go to http://www.diplomatsforchange.com/ .
The only way to repair America's standing and influence in the world is to defeat this administration. America deserves better.
Best regards, Murray
Following are opening remarks by spokesperson Phyllis Oakley, former assistant secretary of State for Intelligence and Research, in advance of the official statement of the Diplomats and Military Commanders for Change:
"Deep concern about the current state of our nation's international relations compels us, 27 men and women who have served the United States in senior diplomatic, national security, and Military positions, to speak out and call for a fundamental change in the United States' approach to foreign policy.
Let me note that we did not seek large numbers of supporters for our statement -- we have assembled a varied and representative group of like-minded former senior career officials. Since news of the statement came out, we have been besieged by calls from friends and colleagues around the world who have offered support and encouragement. This is very gratifying.
Before reading the statement, I would add that to be involved in an act that will be seen by many as political if not partisan is for many of us a new experience. As career government officials, we have served loyally both Republican and Democratic administrations. We have not only worked overseas; we have also held positions of major responsibility in the Department of State, Department of Defense, National Security Council, and at the United Nations. For many of us, such an overt step is very hard to do and we have made our decisions after deep reflection.
We believe we have as good an understanding as any of our citizens of basic American interests. Over nearly half a century we have worked energetically in all regions of the world, often in very difficult circumstances, to build piece by piece a structure of respect and influence for the United States that has served our county very well over the last 60 years.
Today we see that structure crumbling under an administration blinded by ideology and a callous indifference to the realities of the world around it. Never before have so many of us felt the need for a major change in the direction of our foreign policy.
We will be among the first to recognize that the nation currently faces unprecedented threats. We recognize too that the Bush administration is now reaching out to allies. But everything we have heard from friends abroad on every continent suggests to us that the lack of confidence in the present administration in Washington is so profound that a whole new team is needed to repair the damage. Repair it we must, we believe, as the future security and well being of the United States depends on it."
Statement of DIPLOMATS AND MILITARY COMMANDERS FOR CHANGE
The undersigned have held positions of responsibility for the planning and execution of American foreign and defense policy. Collectively, we have served every president since Harry S. Truman. Some of us are Democrats, some are Republicans or Independents, many voted for George W. Bush. But we all believe that current Administration policies have failed in the primary responsibilities of preserving national security and providing world leadership. Serious issues are at stake. We need a change.
From the outset, President George W. Bush adopted an overbearing approach to America's role in the world, relying upon military might and righteousness, insensitive to the concerns of traditional friends and allies, and disdainful of the United Nations. Instead of building upon America's great economic and moral strength to lead other nations in a coordinated campaign to address the causes of terrorism and to stifle its resources, the Administration, motivated more by ideology than by reasoned analysis, struck out on its own. It led the United States into an ill-planned and costly war from which exit is uncertain. It justified the invasion of Iraq by manipulation of uncertain intelligence about weapons of mass destruction, and by a cynical campaign to persuade the public that Saddam Hussein was linked to Al Qaeda and the attacks of September 11. The evidence did not support this argument.
Our security has been weakened. While American airmen and women, marines, soldiers and sailors have performed gallantly, our armed forces were not prepared for military occupation and nation building. Public opinion polls throughout the world report hostility toward us. Muslim youth are turning to anti-American terrorism. Never in the two and a quarter centuries of our history has the United States been so isolated among the nations, so broadly feared and distrusted. No loyal American would question our ultimate right to act alone in our national interest; but responsible leadership would not turn to unilateral military action before diplomacy had been thoroughly explored.
The United States suffers from close identification with autocratic regimes in the Muslim world, and from the perception of unquestioning support for the policies and actions of the present Israeli Government. To enhance credibility with Islamic peoples we must pursue courageous, energetic and balanced efforts to establish peace between Israelis and Palestinians, and policies that encourage responsible democratic reforms.
We face profound challenges in the 21st Century: proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, unequal distribution of wealth and the fruits of globalization, terrorism, environmental degradation, population growth in the developing world, HIV/AIDS, ethnic and religious confrontations. Such problems can not be resolved by military force, nor by the sole remaining superpower alone; they demand patient, coordinated global effort under the leadership of the United States.
The Bush Administration has shown that it does not grasp these circumstances of the new era, and is not able to rise to the responsibilities of world leadership in either style or substance. It is time for a change.