WOLF BLITZER: Going after the Taliban then Saddam Hussein, and pushing for democracy in the Middle East. Is President Bush a visionary or, as some critics charge, an incompetent who is destroying America’s goodwill around the world?
Joining me here in Washington, two guests. Ivo Daalder, he’s a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. He’s co-authored a new book entitled “America Unbound: The Bush Revolution and Foreign Policy.” And John Hulsman is a research fellow at the Heritage Foundation for International Policy Studies. Also here in Washington. Thanks to both of you for joining us.
Ivo, what’s your bottom line as far as President Bush and his foreign policy doctrine in the aftermath of 9/11?
IVO DAALDER: It’s basically twofold. One, that the foreign policy is perceived as revolutionary in the sense that it is a major departure from how U.S. presidents, Republican and Democrat, have been doing their foreign policy since at least the end of the second world war. We’re no longer tied to alliances; we’re doing these things alone. We’re no longer acting through international institutions, or, in many cases, on the basis of international law. That is a major, radical depart from where we were.
BLITZER: Is it a good departure?
DAALDER: Well, it may in some sense be good. But in general, I don’t think it is helping the United States achieve the goals that it wants to achieve.
BLITZER: Because you could argue, as many of his supporters do, that after 9/11, the world for the United States changed.
DAALDER: The world is definitely different. There’s no doubt about it. And we have to figure out new ways of dealing with it. But the fundamental question is, are these the kinds of challenges that face today that we can really do on our own? Or do we need cooperation of others? And if we decide we need the cooperation of others, whether it’s on dealing with the war on terror, whether it is on nuclear nonproliferation and chemical or biological proliferation or rebuilding Iraq, then how are we going to get that cooperation?
Are we going to get it in the way that this administration says we’re going to get it, which is basically to go out and do as we think is right and hope that others will follow? Or are we going to work it the old-fashioned way, which is to sit down with them, to try to figure out how we’re going to have common strategies to implement common policies for common visions? Because ultimately, as we see in Iraq, being alone is very costly.
BLITZER: Well, let me let John respond to that. You study foreign policy. Is it a bad thing what the president has done?
JOHN HULSMAN: No. I think it’s a response to the world we live in. As you say, that world has fundamentally changed. I think we need to be very careful about the notion of interdependence, too. For instance, France and Germany, certainly given the policies of the administration, probably wouldn’t support us in large numbers in terms of money in Iraq. But let’s be honest; Germany and France don’t have any money to give us even if they would support us.
BLITZER: But they have troops that they could be providing. They are helpful in Afghanistan, for example.
HULSMAN: No, they are, indeed, but let’s talk about what really matters in Iraq right now, which is reconstruction. The war is over. These two countries couldn’t give us money even if they wanted to. Both have run afoul the stability pact. They have deficits of over 3 percent. They have unemployment over 9 percent. And Germany has absolutely no growth at all. So the idea that if we were just nicer to them somehow they’d contribute more I think really has to be looked at very carefully.
Let’s take Australia as a case study. Many people in Australia, although their government went with us, were very much against the war. But Australia wants to conclude a new free trade agreement with America because it suits their interest, it wants to keep the Anses (ph) treaty because it suits their interest. It wants to keep dealing with us on intelligence matters for al Qaeda. Why? Because they were tragedyically bombed in Bali. I think we really have to separate between things that change people’s policy toward you and things that make people angry. They aren’t the same.
BLITZER: Do you want to respond to that?
DAALDER: Yes. I don’t think the war is over in Iraq, as we’re seeing every single day. The war continues. And the real question is, how are we going to fight that war? Are we more likely to be successful if we reduce the American face on that occupation and bring in a greater degree of international capability and legitimacy?
And the notion that a country like France and Germany doesn’t have money to contribute is frankly laughable. These are among the most richest countries in the world. And instead, what are we relying on? We’re relying on greater American debt, greater American deficits in order to fund what is the…
For all of us who care about preventing an Iranian nuclear bomb, what’s the best way to keep preventing that? [The JCPOA is] not perfect, but it’s something. These conventions are never based on the premise that all the parties are telling the truth, it’s about enforcement mechanisms. No arms control agreement is based in trust.
Pompeo undoubtedly will rely on his shared political perspective and his personal relationship with the president, but given the way this president plays this role, it’s hard to see how you’re not going to have some degree of daylight.