MORE ON FOREIGN POLICY….OxBlog also has several posts today on the subject of rhetoric and unilateralism:
Anyway, the real issue here is how supporters of American foreign policy can address the perennial argument that America’s record of immoral actions in the Cold War invalidates any aggressive initiatives the United States plans today….I think the proper response is to admit what the US did wrong and shift the discussion to the merits of its current policy. As Ken Pollack tells the WaPo, what we did in the 1980s “was a horrible mistake then, but we have got it right now.” The worst thing to do is come up with defensive justifications of immoral acts.
If only life were so easy. “Yes, we had it totally wrong in the 80s in the Middle East, and we were totally wrong about our frequent invasions of Latin America too. Appalling bad judgment, that. But we’ve got it right now.”
When a person shows bad judgment about something, we watch them carefully and demand consistent evidence that they have reformed before we trust them again. The same is true of countries. It may be that we have it right now, but we should hardly be surprised that the rest of the world does not simply take our word for it.