Monday, February 27, 2006

Send Clinton to Iraq?

This is precisely the idea that Andrew Sullivan proposes today. I think it is a good one.

In any other circumstance -- if we were talking about the Sudan, say -- I would pose an even bolder option: Send both Clinton and George H. W. Bush, but the reality is that the President's father, whatever his cache in foreign policy, would not be a viable choice in Iraq for obvious reasons. Sending Clinton seems like wise, innovative counsel. Such a step would allow the President to appear above party, would provide Iraqis with a familiar face for which they seem to hold at least some respect, and would allow Clinton to play to some of his strengths. As divisive a figure as Clinton is at home, in the rest of the world he is possibly the most respected and admired leader we have had in some time. He certainly is more popular than any president we have had in recent memory. Clearly the status quo is not working -- why not give this a shot?

Well, for one thing, this administration has not shown much inclination toward either deviating from their script, nor has it shown a willingness toward innovation. During an election year, politicos in the GOP will be unlikely to want to place a Democrat in a position to appear to be a difference-maker in Iraq. Bush is likey to be especially disinclined to send his immediate predecessor to break a logjam of this administration's making.

Still, wouldn't it be nice if Presidents showed a willingness to show real boldness, as opposed to the boldness of a speechwriter's pen? And it seems obvious that the current approach has not worked, is not working, and in decreasingly likely to work in the near future. If diplomacy is still on the table, is there a better option than Cinton?

Furthermore, imagine if the Democrats had to be part of the process, and not just stand on the side and criticize? Wouldn't that be something?


Rich said...

More popular than Reagan?

dcat said...

Oh, yeah -- in the rest of the world? Reagan was not exactly loved abroad -- not in Africa, to be sure (hello, Constructive Engagement) and not in Latin America. Now keep in mind, this is not an argument based on merit, but on perception -- Clinton was perceived in a certain way in the world, for right or for wrong. Clinton is very highly regarded in Africa despite his willful ignorance on rwanda, for example. Further, if one looks objectively, one can see Bush's Iraq policy as simply one logical continuum from Clinton's. Not the only continuum, to be sure.
Reagan was equally parts hated and loved in the rest of the world, and even were he was loved he was only loved in part -- for example, he had no closer foreign ally than thatcher, but you'd be hard pressed to argue that in England, Reagan was universally admired.
Perhaps Roger has something to add, given the nature of his work.