The American Interestrnby Srdja TrifkovicrnWill President Bush Resist thernGlobal Interventionists?rnIn the second presidential debate last October,rnGeorge W. Bush warned VicernPresident Gore that it is not America’srnrole to patrol the planet and to arrangernother peoples’ lives in its own image.rnThe United States must be proud andrnconfident of our values, he said, “butrnhumble in how we treat nations that arernfiguring out how to chart their ownrncourse.”rnThis was a breath of fresh air afterrnMadeleine Albright’s triumphalist ravingsrnabout the “indispensable nation.”rnOther rays of hope included Bush’srnpledge to order a review of America’s foreignrncommitments and his promise torn”scrutinize open-ended deployments, reassessrnU.S. goals, and ascertain whetherrnthe)’ can be met.” The appointments ofrnCondoleezza Rice as national securityrnadvisor and Colin Powell as secretary ofrnstate have further encouraged hopes thatrnBush will usher in a new era of pragmaticrndiplomacy, based on rationally definedrninterests rather than ideological obsessions.rnSo far, the President has displayed arnhealthy disinterest in foreign affairs.rnWhile Beltway sophisticates may gasp inrndisbelief at Bush’s famous confusion ofrnSlovakia with Slovenia, or his referencernto Greeks as “Grecians,” his focus on domesticrnissues is comforting. The reallyrndangerous presidents are the professorialrnknow-it-alls like Woodrow Wilson, whornintend to boss the rest of the worldrnaround because of their presumed omniscience.rnThe battle for Bush’s ear is far fromrnover, however, and some whisperersrnspeak with forked tongues. Several presidentialrnadvisors belong to the Gouncil onrnForeign Relations, which has traditionallyrnprovided the internationalist cadre ofrnthe U.S. foreign-policy elite, regardless ofrnwhich party occupies the WTiite House.rnThere are people on his team —notablyrnPaul Wolfowitz and Richard Perle —rnwhose hegemonist malevolence is comparablernto Mrs. Albright’s but who are alsornmore competent and “rational.”rnBush’s guiding principles, insofar as theyrnexist, appear contradictory; it is far fromrncertain whether they will be strongrnenough to resist pressiue from the hegcmonists.rnPresident Bush readilv admits that herndefers to his advisors on foreign issues: “Irnmay not be able to tell you cxactiy the nuancesrnof the East Timorian [sic] situation,”rnhe told the New York Times lastrnyear, but he woidd “ask the peoplernwho’ve had experience” to guide him.rnThat would be fine for a man imbuedrnwith strong core beliefs. But Bush is notrnan instinctive defender of national sovereignty,rnand his latent tendencies torntransnationalism are demonstrated by hisrnrefusal to defend U.S. borders from thernmigratory invasion that is irreversibly alteringrnAmerica’s character. Pie docs notrnseem concerned with maintaining America’srnability to preserve the traditionalrnmoral fabric, social structures, and economicrninterests of her own people.rnThe same flaws afflict tiic new nationalrnsecurit) advisor. While Rice is a hardworkingrnprofessional, her lack of an articulatedrnstrategic vision could make herrnvidnerable to ideologues. Her stated prioritiesrninclude not only military stabilit’rnand world free trade but “the spread [sic]rnof democratic values.”rnVice President Dick Ghcney, however,rnis a corporate globalist ratiier than arnneoconservative interventionist: Wherernothers see menaces, he sees markets.rnStill, he is no peacenik: As defense secretary,rnhe directed the U.S. invasion ofrnPanama and Operation Desert Storm.rnHis oil-industry background and connectionsrnhave naturally made him interestedrnin the forthcoming Caspian Searnoil bonanza. As CEO of Halliburton,rnthe world’s largest oil-services provider,rnCheney denounced sanctions againstrnIran because of all the missed businessrnopportunities. He is a traditional WallrnStreet imperialist, less ideological in hisrnoutlook and certainly more evenhandedrnon Middle Eastern issues than most Beltwayrnexperts.rnColin Powell, a self-styled “RockefellerrnRepublican,” has the image of arn”reluctant warrior,” in contrast to thernneocons’ triiunphalisni. He stresses thernimportance of having clear political objectivesrnbefore engaging in military intervention,rnand he favors the use of massivernforce and an “exit strateg)” once the decisionrnhas been made. Unfortunately,rnPowell is strong on means and mute onrnends. He completely avoids the questionrnof how objectives should be defined, andrnhe seems to have no definition of vital nationalrninterests. This leads to prevaricationrnwhere clarit)’ should prevail. Powellrnwas opposed to Clinton’s intervention inrnthe Balkans at first, and \’hile his supportrnof the Kosovo intervention mav be interpretedrnas a soldier’s reflex reaction that,rnonce ou are in, you have to get the jobrndone, it also reflected a fundamental lackrnof intellectual and moral rigor and a confusionrnof strategy and tactics. His weakrnconvictions will be used by those of hisrncolleagues who hold very strong views —rnalbeit wrong ones —to tailor a straightjacketrnfor Powell and to set the agenda.rnUltimateh’, only George W, Bush canrndecide if such pressure will be resisted. Itrnwill be strong, since global interventionistsrnare found not only within his administrationrnbut in the United Nations, a hostrnof influential think tanks, the militar’-industrialrncomplex, and the media. Theirrncry will always be “somefliing must berndone,” as Simon Jenkins noted in thernnines ofl/3ndon, because modern Americarnis eerily akin to late-Victorian Britain:rn”That is what happens when speciousrnideologies gain a hold on vain men.”rnAt present. President Bush still lacksrnthe confidence of a leader with a developedrnv’orld view. He is also short on tiiernintellectual apparatus needed to counterrnthe hegemonist intellectuals who yearnrnto run the planet. On tire other hand, thernBush family has never felt comfortablernwith ideologues. And President GeorgernW. Bush is a short-tempered man with arnstreak of haughtiness, which will be arnhand}’ asset if some neocon starts lecturingrnhim.rnIn the end, the Texas oil mafia mayrnwell prove to be the best faction of thernnew administration. They may be greedyrnand amoral, but we can hope that theyrnwill resist the temptation to invent newrnmissions, la’ down new embargoes, andrnfabricate new comts. Unlike some ofrntheir advisors, Bush and Cheney are atrnleast recognizably human.rncrnMARCH 2001/43rnrnrn