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To: George W. Bush
From: P.J. O'Rourke
Re: Winning at Foreign Policy

          he     trouble       with       foreign     policy     is,     as                         250,000          American
          you     may      have      noticed,     foreigners    –      with                         troops deployed over-
          all   sorts     of     foreign     notions;    wearing     funny                          seas.
          hats and coats; eating snips, snails and puppy-dog tails;                                    Not that we meant to
jabbering away in ish kabibble talk; and otherwise acting like they                                 conquer the world. The
aren't from around here. They're a problem. But, then, so are we.                                   U.S. Empire Planet No.
          The goal of tax policy is taxes. The goal of health policy is                             3 just sort of followed us
                                                                                                    home after World War
health. The goal of environmental policy is clear away scruffy caribou                              II. But we did promise to
and                                  seals                               so                         feed it and clean up after
that America's drillers for arctic oil don't get trampled or slapped with                           it, and the fact is, we
a flipper. But the goal of foreign pol-                                                             rule.
                                                                                                       So why doesn't every-
                                                                                                    body, like, obey? It's
                                                                                                    those foreigners again,
icy is to play the sub-                   the treaties are bogus,     dioxide anymore. And          and not just the ones
atomic particle in the                    that screws fostering       atomic bombs screw            who hate our guts but
quantum physics of the                    treaties of mutual co-      security at home, never       the ones who jump up
world, doing whosit and                   operation, all of which     mind      protection     of   and down and yip hys-
whatchamajigger while                     are bogus. And if we do     Americans abroad who          terically in greeting and
being everywhere at                       foster treaties of mutual   are screwed already be-       lick our hands and face
once. American foreign                    cooperation, that screws    cause we screwed up all       and hate our guts any-
policy is supposed to                     expanding trade because     the treaties of mutual        way. Start with the citi-
protect        Americans                  the thing nations like to   cooperation when we           zens of nineteen nations
abroad, provide security                  mutually        cooperate   fucked everyone at            who host sixty-one
for Americans at home,                    about most is making        Kyoto.                        major U.S. military
promote world peace,                      sure nothing cheaper and       Let's just conquer the     bases. They are about as
eliminate global human-                   better gets sold in their   world. Except we pretty       happy with us as we
rights abuses, improve                    countries. Which screws     much already have.            would be with 250,000
America's international                   improving       America's   Russia is borscht. China      highland              Scots
business opportunities,                   international    business   may be trouble down the       bivouacked in our midst
expand trade, foster                      opportunities, because      road but so far it can't      flicking their kilts at our
treaties of mutual coop-                  everybody          makes    get conquering armies to      girls, cranking up the
eration and, P.S., stop                   cheaper and better stuff    Taipei, let alone Topeka.     bagpipe music at all
global warming, which                     than we do. And             Western Europe looks          hours and filling our
we were going to do by                    America's international     awesome on paper –            shopping-mall          food
signing the Kyoto treaty                  business opportunities      they've got more people       courts with the stink of
regulating         carbon-                screw eliminating global    and a bigger economy          haggis.
dioxide emissions until                   human-rights abuses due     than we have. But                Our      foreign-policy
we suddenly unsigned                      to people around the        Britain,           France,    situation has become
on the grounds that the                   globe being chained to      Germany       and     Italy   like a sixth-grade class-
Kyoto treaty was ri-                      American       gym-shoe-    combined don't spend a        room. Regular old-
diculous and unenforce-                   making machines, dying      third as much on defense      fashioned diplomacy is
able and nobody who                       of gym-shoe lung and        as the U.S. Indeed, U.S.      out sick or something.
had signed it was even                    getting paid in shoe-       defense spending is           We're the substitute.
trying to meet the emis-                  laces.        Meanwhile,    equal to those guys plus         Everybody has to go
sions       requirements,                 eliminating       human-    Russia plus China plus        to the bathroom, see the
except for the countries                  rights abuses screws        the next six countries        school nurse, or wants to
of the former Soviet                      promoting world peace,      atop the defense-spender      get his dad to come in
Union who accidentally                    since we'd have to go to    list. Furthermore, we         for a parent-teacher
quit emitting carbon                      places like Chechnya        straddle the earth with       meeting and punch us in
dioxide because their                     and fight the Russians,     our imperial outposts –       the nose.
economies collapsed.                      who still have a lot of     sixty-one major military         You have, of course,
   But if we start backing                atomic bombs even if        bases in nineteen coun-       modified U.S. foreign
out of treaties because                   they don't have carbon      tries and more than           policy. We elected an
                                                                                                    administration         with

Rolling Stone, July 5, 2001 : pp. 53-56                                                                                       1

grown-ups in it: your                     arms to Iran, and gone         but it turns out to upset     bles and Goliath pulls a
dad's     friends   Colin                 back to trading muzzle         our friends, the Euro-        Jim Jeffords and starts
Powell, Dick Cheney,                      licks with fellow curs of      pean allies. They prefer      voting with Likud. The
Donald Rumsfeld. Gone                     oppression in China,           the      balance-of-terror    same for the Mick and
is the harumscarum                        Cuba and North Korea.          strategy because that         Limey head-butters in
Clinton      policymaking                 So you had Chechen             worked so well in             Northern Ireland. Some
apparatus with the fren-                  rebels over to the State       Munich in 1939. This          American soldiers are
zied bakeheads piling up                  Department for cookies,        shows      that     foreign   coming home from the
midnight pizza boxes in                   threatened to take a mop       policy can't be separated     Balkans – former Yugo-
the Old Executive Office                  and a sponge to Russia's       from defense policy.          slavia will have to make
Building, the clinically                  IMF slush fund, and            Unless we're going to         do with former peace-
insane confidants – vein-                 snubbed Putin by putting       use our defense forces        keepers.
popping James Carville,                   off a summit meeting           only to suppress internal        And cooling negotia-
toe-sucking Dick Mor-                     until June and then            enemies, and we aren't.       tions with North Korea
ris, the loose haircuts                   holding it in fashionable      Once the XFL was can-         about its missiles makes
like               George                 Slovenia.                      celed for not being stu-      sense, for the same
Stephanopoulos and the                       China is making hun-        pid enough, it was clear      reason that you'd decide
screaming bitch on the                    gry, slurping noises           that America's internal       to quit jawing with a
White House third floor.                  about Taiwan, selling          enemies had already           crazy person about the
The tone of America's                     bad things to Iraq and         triumphed.                    gun he's waving and call
discourse to the world                    has raised its military           Foreign policy can't be    911.
has       altered.    The                 spending by almost             separated from domestic          This is not how the
squeaking and stam-                       eighteen percent. And          policy, either. Congres-      previous administration
mering are gone; our                      China issued a defense         sional Democrats are          acted. Clinton kept
voice has changed. I                      white paper declaring          peeved about how ex-          International Monetary
listened to what you said                 that the principal threat      pensive the missile           Fund cash flowing into
last March when you                       to itself is the U.S.A.        shield will be. Democ-        Russia's       ever-crimi-
faced your first major                       You bet we are, you         rats want the money           nalizing economy. He
foreign-policy crisis: "I                 said on Good Morning           spent on a shield that        ignored Kremlin mis-
was presented with the                    America, where you told        protects        American      behavior, from Yeltsin's
facts. I made the deci-                   Charlie Gibson that if         teachers' unions from         shelling of elected repre-
sion. It was the right                    China attacked Taiwan,         incoming             school   sentatives in the Duma
thing to do." Those are                   we had an obligation to        vouchers and defends          to     Putin's     sticking
three sentences that Bill                 defend it.                     the nation against atomic     uninvited Russian troops
Clinton has never spo-                       "With the full force of     attacks by nuclear reac-      in Kosovo. Clinton
ken in his life. And you                  American          military?"   tors producing cheap,         compared the Chechnya
were      talking   about                 asked Charlie.                 clean electricity. But        fighting to the American
Russian espionage, not                       "Whatever it took,"         will the missile shield       Civil War (murdered
land scams, campaign-                     you said. So we'll all         work? Details of your         Chechens being on the
contribution finagles or                  keep an eye out for toad-      plan are sketchy, but         Mississippi statehouse
plump, flaky interns.                     stoolshaped clouds in          construction of the pro-      Confederate flag-flying
   The administration's                   the vicinity of Quemoy         ject seems to depend on       side). Clinton called
foreign-policy stance is                  and Matsu.                     extensive use of mate-        China America's "stra-
"disciplined and con-                        Then there's your           rials such as impossi-        tegic partner" and paid a
sistent," claims National                 missile-defense shield,        bilium and unobtainium.       nine-day visit to that
Security Adviser Condo-                   which is an example of            That said, the missile     country, not bothering
leezza Rice. "Blunt,"                     the baffling quantum           shield has been a bril-       himself with courtesy
says the Washington                       mechanics of foreign           liant ploy to get inside      calls to our real strategic
Post. "More confron-                      policy, no matter how          information           about   partners in the area,
tational, in-your-face,"                  "disciplined"       Condo-     Russian and Chinese in-       Japan and South Korea.
opines a maven at the                     leezza says that policy        tentions. When the town       Clinton announced, "We
Carnegie       Endowment                  is. (And how many              drunk and the town bully      don't support indepen-
for International Peace.                  Washington            policy   tell us not to get a new      dence for Taiwan," and
"Hey,       quit    bitch-                wonks dream of being           home-security system,         said of Jiang Zemin, that
slapping our fighter jets                 tied up and disciplined        we know where we              sweetheart of Falun
with your spy planes!"                    by Condoleezza is a            stand.                        Gong, "He has vision."
shout the Chinese.                        matter best left to the           Elsewhere on the dip-         Anything for peace,
   Russia had doubled                     Washington Post Style          lomatic front, you're         that     was     Clinton's
the number of its intel-                  section.) The missile          letting    Israelis     and   policy. Clinton had
ligence agents in the                     shield is supposed to          Palestinians go at it until   special peace-mongering
U.S., resumed shipping                    protect us from enemies,       David runs out of peb-        envoys      in     Cyprus,

Rolling Stone, July 5, 2001 : pp. 53-56                                                                                          2

Congo, the Middle East,                      Even going to hell        Pete's     sake,   Sudan.    assuming every war is a
the Balkans and flying                    doesn't work. Foreign        "Payment       of     U.N.   fight between good and
off to attend secret talks                policy is no longer the      arrears top of our           evil: "Snidely Whiplash
with Marxist guerrillas                   linear equation that it      foreign-policy agenda,"      vs. innocent Nell." Car-
in Colombia. Clinton                      was during the Cold          says Biden. You can          penter thinks American
made frantic eleventh-                    War, with the bucket-of-     shut up now, Joe.            defense spending is too
hour attempts to close an                 boohoos peace pukes at          The      conservatives,   high. "But given the
Israeli-Palestinian peace                 one end and the earth as     like Biden, are fond of      policies we're pursing,"
deal. What if the Jews                    a dough ball in the deep-    poking America's nose        he says, "it isn't as high
control Temple Mount                      fat fryer of Mutually        into     other    people's   as it needs to be." A de-
and the Arabs control                     Assured Destruction at       affairs. "Chaos in Africa    pressing thought since,
the movie industry?                       the other end and all        cannot be ignored," says     in a rational universe,
Jennifer Love Hewitt                      sensible people lined up     the Heritage Foundation,     America's $325 billion a
will continue to do love                  in the middle. Now           although everybody ex-       year        out-of-pocket
scenes, but she'll get                    foreign policy is a plane-   cept Africa has been         would be enough to
stoned to death in the                    geometry      pop     quiz   managing to do so.           simply buy all the
theater parking lot.                      where policy positions          Unlike Biden, how-        weapons in the world
   Clinton was every-                     must be plotted using the    ever, conservatives want     and let nations settle
body's      best     friend.              x-axis and y-axis of the     to increase the U.S.         their    quarrels     with
Except when he wasn't.                    Cartesian      coordinate    defense budget. And          rolled-up wet locker-
He used the military                      system. And don't worry      Heritage argues that         room towels.
more often than any                       about this metaphor          American troops should          Carpenter     estimates
other peacetime presi-                    going much further           be left in foreign coun-     that, with wiser security
dent. Clinton deployed                    because I flunked that       tries forever. "Any sub-     policies, America's de-
American forces into                      course in high school,       stantial cuts," says the     fense budget could be
combat zones an average                   too.                         think tank, "could signal    cut by a third. That's
of once every nine                           Disarmament-loving,       weakness or lack of          convincing until he says
weeks, conducted unde-                    probuttinsky Democratic      commitment to regional       America      has     "stop
clared air wars against                   Sen. Delaware says,          allies ... and invite ag-    fighting the idea of
Serbia and Iraq, and                      "Although we are at          gression."      This    as   growth of other powers."
launched missiles at                      peace, we still have         opposed to our current       The last time we stopped
Sudan and Afghanistan.                    major obligations around     tactic of having our         fighting that idea, other
   We've seen the results                 the world." Major obli-      shooters right in the        powers grew. And the
of Clinton's ad hoc,                      gations require Ameri-       world's face as if Amer-     powers were Mussolini's
higgledy-piggledy                         can security and leader-     ica had gone into the        Italy, Hitler's Germany,
foreign policy. It led to                 ship.    Security      and   Global Nightclub at          Tojo's Japan and Stalin's
steadily worsening rela-                  leadership         require   three in the morning,        Soviet Union.
tions with Russia and                     American ability to uni-     slapped its Glock down          This leaves us with
China; increased vio-                     laterally defend itself.     on the bar and shouted,      one remaining foreign-
lence in the Middle East;                 But, says Sen. Biden,        "Hope nobody here            policy option, which is
continued fighting in                     "The illusory goal of        wants to fuck with me!"      to have an overwhelm-
Africa and Asia; and a                    unilateral defense would     Call it the Puff Daddy       ingly powerful America
bunch of Serbs killing                    put American security        foreign policy.              that its on its duff. The
Albanians. And, now ...                   and leadership at risk."        Libertarians      would   problem with this is that
let's see where we are                    So what are we sup-          like to cut the military     it's what Pat Buchanan
with a tough, focused                     posed to do, Joe? Call       budget and give the          thinks we should do, and
foreign policy – steadily                 the U.N.? The United         problems of foreigners a     – I don't know about
worsening relations with                  States got kicked off the    good leaving alone.          you, George, but when-
Russia      and      China;               U.N. Human Rights            Spend less money and         ever I catch myself
increased violence in the                 Commission. I guess we       get in less trouble is an    thinking      like     Pat
Middle East; continued                    weren't honoring our         appealing idea (and also     Buchanan, I start to
fighting in Africa and                    major obligations –          what my wife has been        worry that the wicked
Asia; and a bunch of                      weren't fighting for         telling me to do for         witch of the GOP has
Albanians killing Serbs.                  human      rights     hard   ages). America needs to      put a spell on me and
   Foreign policy is like                 enough to meet stan-         get out of the "armed        I've been turned into a
the US Airways New                        dards of the other           social worker" business,     grumpy, pudgy, middle-
York-Washington                           countries on the U.N.        says Cato Institute's vice   aged white male who
shuttle. Make a 180-                      Human Rights Com-            president for defense        has three beers and starts
degree turn and you're                    mission such as Libya,       and         foreign-policy   yelling about foreigners.
still going to hell.                      Syria, Sierra Leone,         studies, Ted Carpenter.      Then – when I ask
                                          China, Cuba and, for         And we've got to quit        around and find out that

Rolling Stone, July 5, 2001 : pp. 53-56                                                                                      3

that's exactly who I am –                 covered the Persian            news of the very best        Germany fought practi-
I get remorseful and try                  Wars, and notice how           kind.                        cally everybody and
to summon the better                      little ink Herodotus gave         In the 1820s the ten      went on to richly, de-
angels of my nature, per                  to the efforts of Persian      biggest economies in the     mocratically elect Adolf
good Republican Abe                       relief agencies to feed,       world were China, India,     Hitler. So it's not a
Lincoln. If America                       house and provide medi-        France, Britain, Russia,     perfect system. But
hadn't been there to in-                  cal care to refugee            Japan, Austria, Spain,       wealthy      democracies
tervene, what would                       families at Thermopy-          the United States and        don't fight other very
have happened to the                      lae.) Anyway, without          Prussia, in that order.      often anymore. The
Jews of Europe, the                       Cold      War      bad-guy     Only two of these coun-      closest they've come in
Armenians of Turkey,                      troublemakers and Cold         tries,    Britain     and    the last fifty or sixty
South Africa's blacks,                    War good-guy trouble-          America, were democra-       years is the 1975 Cod
Tibetans, Cambodians,                     shooters, the number of        cies, and very imper-        War between Iceland
Tutsis, Kurds, Bosnian                    wars that aren't cold at       fectly so. Every country     and Britain. Casualties:
Muslims, Albanians in                     all has decreased by           except     Japan     was     Some cod. In fact, forget
Yugoslavia, Serbs in                      nearly half since the          engaged in wars of           democracy.           Once
Kosovo ... Then I think                   Soviet Union broke up.         conquest or internal re-     countries get rich, they
what did happen to                           The great powers of         pression. And in Japan,      don't like to fight too
them, and I have another                  the world are, for once        that was because the         much. There's an occa-
beer and start yelling                    in human history, on a         shogun had taken away        sional Argentine attack
about foreigners.                         honeymoon, albeit a dog        the rickshaw keys and        on an out-of-the-way
   There is, however,                     honeymoon where the            everybody in the country     place like the Falklands.
some good news about                      various          presidents,   was grounded.                Lots of rich countries
foreign policy. It turns                  premiers and high pleni-          Today the biggest         have soldiers in the Bal-
out that the end of the                   potentiaries sniff each        economies      are     the   kans, but those soldiers
Cold War, even though                     other's butts, growl, nip      United States, Japan,        are forbidden to get real
it's got us all confused,                 and get stuck together.        Germany,          France,    fighting. The French
wasn't actually a bad                     But the worst marriage         Britain, Italy, China,       send troops to former
thing. The PBS/NPR                        is better than divorce         Brazil, Canada and           colonies now and then,
types are giving the                      court – when H-bombs           Spain. All but China are     but that's because the
dreary      nuclear-winter                are the lawyers.               democracies and only         French like weird food,
scenarios a rest. Now                        Furthermore, there's        China indulges in mili-      world music and exotic
they're hepped on global                  news that's even better        tary repression. If we       babes. OK, there was the
warming, with it's more                   than hearing that our          measure according to         Gulf War – but your dad
cheerful prospects of                     folks are going to stay        which countries have the     knew we had to fuel up
balmy weather, vaca-                      together and not kill us       richest citizens rather      the Beemer. And even
tions at the shore in                     in our sleep. The news is      than which have the          when the United States
Greenland, and rising                     that the earth has be-         grossest gross domestic      went to war in Vietnam,
sea levels that will rid us               come immensely richer          products, the news is        most rich people dodged
forever of such annoy-                    over the last two centu-       truly splendid. Here, the    the draft. (Nothing per-
ances as Manhattan,                       ries (thanks to inventors,     top ten are Luxembourg,      sonal: I did too.) Rich
Miami Beach and, with                     investors and hard work,       the United States, Ber-      people don't like to be in
luck, Silicon Valley.                     and no thanks to treaties,     muda,        Switzerland,    the Army. The shoes are
Plus,      world      arms                alliances, spheres of          Singapore, Hong Kong,        ugly and the uniforms
spending has declined.                    influence, balance of          Monaco,          Norway,     itch.
The Stockholm Inter-                      power or conflicts in the      Cayman Islands and             […]
national Peace Research                   Great Game). Annual            Belgium. All of these
Institute estimates that                  global production of           places are marvelously         Who needs a foreign
global expenditure on                     wealth per person (ad-         well-behaved (except for     policy? All we need is
guns, bombs and so                        justed for inflation) has      the United States, some-     for everybody in the
forth dropped by one                      grown from something           times).                      world to be as happy,
third between the late                    like $650 in the 1820s to         The rich countries are    fat, self-indulged and
1980s and the late                        more than $5,000 in the        good and the good            overscheduled as we are.
1990s. Armed conflicts                    1990s.                         countries are rich. De-      But how can we make
are also on the wane.                        Interestingly,       the    mocracies don't fight        everyone on earth rich?
(Never mind how things                    wealth has grown most          each other very often        Let's sell them shares of
look on the front page of                 in places where people         anymore. Well, this isn't    hot dot-com stocks. It
today's newspaper. "No                    treat their fellow humans      exactly true. Germany        worked       during   the
bodies, no byline" has                    with some measure of           was more or less a           Clinton administration.
been      a    journalistic               dignity and respect. And       democracy rich before        Research assistance    by
dictum since Herodotus                    that is foreign policy         World War I, and             MAX PAPPAS

Rolling Stone, July 5, 2001 : pp. 53-56                                                                                       4

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