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WORLD POLICY ON AIR

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Jonathan Power: How Not to Deal with Russia

Jonathan PowerLet’s be frank: NATO is no longer needed. Indeed, this has been true for some time: once the Warsaw Pact closed up shop there was no good or honest reason for keeping NATO going. The threat that NATO was created to deter disappeared when the Soviet Union collapsed. It is now time to let the European Union take the strain—whether by trade, investment, diplomacy, or political intimacy (indeed, the hallmarks of a successful union that has mastered the art of expansion and influence by clever use of the carrot)—while America deals with its own problems, brought about by its quest for global influence and application of the Bush doctrine of “preventive war.” As Mark Leonard, the director of foreign policy at the Center for European Reform wrote in his clever little book of three years ago, “The contrast between the two doctrines is stark. The Bush doctrine attempts to justify action to remove a ‘threat’ before it has a chance of being employed against the United States. It is consequently focused very closely on physical assets and capabilities, necessarily swift in execution and therefore short term in conception, and unavoidably entirely military in kind. The European doctrine of pre-emption, in contrast, is predicated on long-term involvement, with the military just one strand of activity, along with pre-emptive economic and legal intervention, and is aimed at building the political and institutional basis of stability, rather than simply removing the immediate source of threat.” Passive aggression—the outward expansion of the Eurosphere—is just what the continent needs. For countries such as Turkey, Serbia, or Bosnia, the only thing worse than having the Brussels bureaucracy (with its multitude of new rules) descend on their political systems is to have its doors closed to them.

Benjamin Pauker: Talking to Our Enemies

Ben Pauker, Managing EditorThe savvy early adopters that read our nascent blog in its first few days last week might have noticed a curious banner advertisement, supplied by Google, along the right-hand side of our homepage. It was hard to miss. Framed in black, the ad set photographs of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Barack Obama side by side, above the question: “Is it OK to Unconditionally Meet With Anti-American Foreign Leaders?” Below were two buttons: “Yes” and “No.” But the advertisement offered only the illusion of choice; neither button worked and a click sent one directly to a page on John McCain’s website. While the World Policy Journal has always been a magazine of opinion—both left, right, and center (mostly left and center, to be fair)—the World Policy Institute, both the home and publisher of WPJ, is a “progressive” institution, and decidedly non-partisan. Not to mention that, as a registered non-profit, the Institute is prohibited from supporting political campaigns. The ad is now gone, banished from our site. But there’s a much larger question lurking here behind McCain’s ad: when did the notion of “meeting” become such a scarlet letter? And how has active, engaged—dare we say preemptive—diplomacy with those who oppose us become tantamount to weakness? This controversy began as an internecine war, touched off by Obama’s answer to a question posed to the candidates in the July 2007 YouTube debate. Asked whether he would, in the first year of his presidency, meet “without preconditions,” with the leaders of Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba, and North Korea in order to “bridge the gap that divides our countries,” Obama responded affirmatively. In what was perhaps a gut response, Obama recalled that both JFK and Reagan had met with their Soviet counterparts—not because they trusted them or doubted the very real danger that Moscow posed—but because negotiation, in and of itself, opened a door to the possibility of progress. Senator Clinton was quick to pounce, calling Obama naive, even reckless, and this line of attack has been gleefully inherited by the Republican nominee. It will no doubt intensify through November.

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