Secretary of Defense

01.04.13

Wise Words *from* Chuck Hagel

Can we make Chuck Hagel's ghostwriter Secretary of Defense? From his 2004 Foreign Affairs article, "A Republican Foreign Policy":

The fourth principle of a Republican policy should be that the United States must continue to support democratic and economic reform, especially in the greater Middle East. We cannot lose the war of ideas. In many developing countries and throughout the Muslim world, we are witnessing an intracivilizational struggle, driven in part by the generational challenges of demography and development. This is not a clash of civilizations, as in Samuel Huntington's score, but one within cultures and societies about models of governance. States are not built from the outside in; they are built from the inside out. Many Islamic societies are seeking a path that balances modernity, tradition, and the demands of a younger generation for greater political freedoms and economic opportunities. Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Indonesia, and Iraq are all bellwethers of this struggle.

Initiatives to promote political reform should be based on realistic assessments of the needs and dynamics of each country, not on ideological orthodoxy. As Henry Kissinger has noted, "a foreign policy to promote democracy needs to be adapted to local or regional realities, or it will fail. In the pursuit of democracy, policy -- as in other realms -- is the art of the possible."

We should support democratic change through partnerships with friendly governments and democrats abroad, developed through consultation, diplomacy, economic incentives, human rights standards, and performance-driven measures for success. A model of foreign policy success in this area is Georgia, where U.S. support for democratic institutions and anticorruption initiatives over time helped contribute to the success of the "Rose Revolution" of 2004.

The Bush administration's "Forward Strategy for Freedom" for the greater Middle East, including the Middle East Partnership Initiative and increased funding for the National Endowment for Democracy, is a good start on an ambitious and pragmatic program for change in this region. Sustainable democracy will depend on institutions that support education, women's rights, and private-sector development. But it will also depend on progress toward the resolution of long-standing regional disputes such as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This problem does not stand still, it worsens -- and as it does, it increases the capacity for radical politics and extremist acts of violence throughout the region and the world.

The United States and its allies must therefore develop a regional security order for the greater Middle East that includes Israel, our Arab allies, Iraq, Turkey, Pakistan, and Iran. Regional security can be a bridge to a U.S. dialogue with Iran and another means to address Iran's support for terrorism and its nuclear program. Dealing with regional security in the greater Middle East, and especially with Iran and Iraq, will require intensive cooperation with our European and regional allies. The decision by Libyan leader Muammar al-Qaddafi to give up his nuclear ambitions and join the community of nations could be an example for Iran and other potential proliferators in the Middle East and elsewhere.