Patterico's Pontifications


Pledge Case Overruled on Standing Issue

Filed under: Court Decisions — Patterico @ 8:53 pm

I don’t know why people say “I don’t like to say I told you so.” I love to say I told you so, and I suspect most other people secretly do too.

Anyway, you heard about the Pledge case? I told you so.

Not that it took a genius to see it coming. Still . . .

The Mentality of Diplomats

Filed under: 2004 Election — Patterico @ 6:51 am

Yesterday I discussed the Los Angeles Times‘s trumpeting of a letter, written by 26 former diplomats, criticizing George W. Bush’s foreign policy. The L.A. Times story found it significant that the letter had been signed by people who, like Ms. Bohlen, were “appointed to key positions by Republican Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.” Let’s take a look at the views of one of those diplomats: Avis T. Bohlen.

According to the Times, Bohlen was deputy assistant secretary of State for European affairs from 1989 to 1991, during the tenure of the first President Bush, and assistant secretary of State for arms control from 1999 to 2002. She appears to be the only person on the list who has ever served under President George W. Bush.

As assistant secretary of State for arms control, Ms. Bohlen fought the creation of a missile defense system. As described in this article by Rich Lowry of the National Review, Bohlen was a Clinton holdover who wrote a secret memo to Colin Powell opposing a missile defense system until the Russians and Chinese decided it would be okay:

Genuflect first, ask questions later. Or so goes the reasoning at the State Department, the part of government most likely to keep missile defense — finally on the cusp of reality — from ever happening. A February 2 “secret” memorandum from assistant secretary of state Avis T. Bohlen- a Clinton holdover-to Secretary Colin Powell nicely captures the institutional mindset at State. Bohlen recommends doing nothing precipitous on missile defense — in fact recommends doing nothing at all, at least not until the completion of another, endless round of consultations, discussions, and general reassurances and temperature-takings with almost any foreign power willing to consult and discuss.

“We should not withdraw from the [Anti-Ballistic Missile] treaty,” Bohlen warns Powell, “until we know what will replace it as part of a strategic stability framework.” That could take a long time. “We should look for ways to make NMD [national missile defense] and its evolution appear less threatening to the Russians and, if possible, the Chinese.” “The allies want real consultations before decisions are made, not briefings on what we have decided.” “Early discussions with the Russians could be a valuable input to the Administration’s policy deliberations.” What Bohlen recommends, in short, is a policy of logorrhea.

I had to look up that last word, which means “pathologically excessive (and often incoherent) talking.”

And isn’t that the function of a diplomat? It seems to me that there’s nothing that frightens diplomats like the prospect of decisive action. You can easily picture them wringing their hands, saying: Can’t we talk about this some more?

As Lowry characterized Bohlen’s memo in described this piece, Bohlen’s basic position on missile defense was “to avoid building a missile defense until the Russians sign off on it and approve the blueprints.”

Can you imagine how appalled Ms. Bohlen must have been by President George W. Bush’s undiplomatic handling of the lead-up to the Afghanistan war? Why, the Taliban almost certainly would have turned over Osama bin Laden, if the right diplomacy had been used!

This is one of the group of people whose opinions on George W. Bush’s foreign policy were deemed by the Los Angeles Times yesterday to be the hottest story in the world. But what I just told you about Ms. Bohlen likely won’t be printed in the Los Angeles Times. You’ll probably have to be content with reading it here. Because to the L.A. Times, Bohlen is just another diplomat with the credibility that comes with having served under two Republican presidents. End of story.

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