Speaking to students as part of the continuing lecture series focusing on globalization Monday night, filmmaker and foreign policy journalist Saul Landau questioned the effectiveness of current U.S. foreign policy. The policy of preemptive wars and the with-us-or-against-us mentality, he argued, do not make sense, as the policy creates exactly the conditions it is trying to alleviate.
As a critique of not only the Bush administration but also the mass media, Landau said, “It is very hard to understand foreign policy if you are lied to.”
This, of course, is not only true for American citizens, but also leaders of other countries.
After President George W. Bush chastised Sen. John Kerry during the presidential debate last week about not including Poland in the list of allies in the war in Iraq, it is somewhat ironic that Poland is pulling its troops for the same reasons Saul mentioned during his talk.
Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski said to the Associated Press he felt “uncomfortable due to the fact that we were misled with the information on weapons of mass destruction” and would therefore begin pulling troops out of Iraq as early as the beginning of next year.
Engaging countries harboring terrorists in unthreatening ways, Landau further argued, led to Syria giving the United States detailed information that foiled a terrorist attack on U.S. installations in the country. He said to his knowledge this was the only time such an attack was prevented through information given by a country in the Middle East.
Inexplicably, though, they are now “paying for it,” Landau said.
A recent article in Time magazine appears to confirm this. Quoting an anonymous high-ranking “Democratic official,” Time wrote “a leading Pentagon hawk recently hinted that the doctrine of pre-emptive war could soon apply to potential new targets,” one of which would likely be Syria. According to senior Pentagon policy official William Luti, “there are at least five or six foreign countries” on a list of countries that may warrant military action, Time wrote.
Landau is not alone in claiming that such threats force countries such as Iran or North Korea to develop nuclear weapons or other WMDs to deter a U.S. invasion or attacks on their instalations.
Ironically, that is precisely the situation U.S. foreign policy tries to prevent; through diplomacy and what is generally referred to as “soft power,” military actions should be rendered less necessary.
In that regard, the Bush doctrine of preemptive wars and lack of distinction between terrorists and those who harbor them has failed miserably.