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Sharansky Inspires Bush's Foreign Policy Vision

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 26, 2005 8:33 am    Post subject: Sharansky Inspires Bush's Foreign Policy Vision Reply with quote

George W. Bush has unveiled a new vision for U.S. foreign policy. His inspiration: Israel’s Natan Sharansky

By Michael Hirsh
Updated: 3:13 p.m. ET Jan. 25, 2005

Sharansky’s influence on Bush’s thinking could have an impact in the years ahead

Jan. 25 - Natan Sharansky can bestow no higher praise than to call George W. Bush an honorary “dissident.” And the Israeli cabinet minister says he is elated that the U.S. president, in his second inaugural speech last week, appeared to fully embrace Sharansky’s vision of foreign policy. “It’s clear to me that he read my book,” Sharansky, a squat cannonball of a man with a heavy Russian accent, told NEWSWEEK. “I only wish that my mentor, Andrei Sakharov, were alive to see this,” Sharansky added, referring to the Soviet nuclear scientist who risked his life and career to help open up the Soviet Union.

Bush, in his Jan. 20 address, did prove himself a dissident in one sense. When the president declared that “the survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands,” he was delivering a dissent from traditional U.S. foreign policy, one that could have been lifted whole from the pages of Sharansky’s new book, “The Case for Democracy: The Power of Freedom to Overcome Tyranny and Terror.” (Public Affairs; New York). Bush, in fact, has been pressing the book on aides and friends in recent weeks and urging them to read it. And it is clear that Bush’s speech—as well as Sharansky’s influence—could have huge consequences for America in the coming years.

In Bush’s speech, drafted by chief White House speechwriter Michael Gerson with input from an old Sharansky ally dating to the Reagan years, National Security Council official Elliott Abrams, Bush in effect declared an end to a three-decade-old debate in foreign-policy circles. Fittingly, it is a debate that dates back to the fights over détente versus confrontation with the Soviet Union—and, not coincidentally, to Sharansky’s earlier incarnation as a jailed Soviet dissident. In a single, eloquent line, Bush sought to declare a truce to the old ideological struggle between U.S. government “realists”—those who believe protecting vital national interests has little to do with spreading democracy and freedom—and the so-called neoconservatives, who crusaded for these values. “America's vital interests and our deepest beliefs are now one,” he said.

In practice, of course, this battle of ideas will go on as U.S. officials wrangle over how to deal with recalcitrant regimes like Iran and North Korea. Administration officials were quick to play down the practical impact of Bush’s rhetoric, noting that the president declared the policy of spreading freedom to be “the concentrated work of generations.” But it is hard to avoid the conclusion that U.S. policy toward Iran and North Korea has now been resolved in favor of regime change--just as Bush once signed onto Sharansky’s goal of “regime change” in the Palestinian Authority in June 2002 when, in another speech heavily influenced by the Israeli, he said he would negotiate not with the autocratic Yasir Arafat but only with a newly elected Palestinian leadership.

At the very least, Bush’s rhetoric strengthens the hand of hardliners from the Pentagon and the office of Vice President Dick Cheney who see no way around the use of force or covert activity against such tyrannical regimes. As Sharansky’s old friend, onetime Pentagon advisor Richard Perle, told NEWSWEEK on Jan. 24, the current policy toward Iran has been one of “paralysis.” And, he says, the president’s speech “caused elation among dissidents in Iran. You read those words and the reaction is likely to be similar to Sharansky’s reaction when [as a dissident] he read Ronald Reagan’s words calling the Soviet Union an ‘evil empire.’”

Thanks to Bush’s speech, there may now be less willingness to cut a deal with the recalcitrant Iranian mullahs or the autocratic Kim Jong Il. A senior U.S. official denies this. He says the Bush team continues to hope for “behavioral change” like they got from Libya’s Mohammar Khaddafi--who’s off the regime change list since giving up his WMD. But in reality they don’t expect much from Tehran or Pyongyang. The danger is that yet more drift and paralysis in U.S. policy will ensue as Iran and North Korea get closer to becoming nuclear powers. Just as the hardline Sharansky has been criticized from his left for setting an impossibly high threshold for negotiating with the Palestinians—he opposes Ariel Sharon’s disengagement plan for Gaza—Bush could turn the totem of “democracy” into a convenient excuse for persisting in his stony refusal to talk directly to Iran and North Korea. There is also a danger of unintended consequences. Will the soaring rhetoric of freedom help bring regime collapse—an outcome few would mourn—or will it help to harden the nuclear ambitions of two regimes that Bush has declared to be moribund (the mullahs and Kim) but which have proved to have greater staying power than many thought?

Why is Sharansky’s influence so deep? In part because he didn’t pop out of nowhere. Sharansky has been speaking out in neocon forums for years, stiffening the spines of his former allies from the Reagan era. Chief among them is Perle who, in an interview, identified Sharansky as one of his two “heroes,” together with his old mentor, Sen. Henry “Scoop” Jackson. Their relationship is decades old. Back in the 1970s, when the Israeli was still a Russian named Anatoly Sharansky, Perle was the notorious attack dog for Jackson, fighting for Jewish emigration from the Soviet Union by pushing through the famous 1974 Jackson-Vanik bill, the opening shot fired against Cold War détente.

That was the first big battle over human rights in American foreign policy. Until then, the Cold War had been about realpolitik and detente, mainly “managing” the Soviet Union. Both men had been irrevocably changed by the experience of taking on what their mutual hero, Ronald Reagan, called the “evil empire.” Now each is in the midst of a new incarnation, fighting against Arab terror, yet they are animated by the same ideas as in the old days. Sharansky’s personal suffering under tyranny—and triumph over it—has made him a zealous campaigner for democracy in the Arab world, to the right even of his fellow Likudnik hawks in Israel. Perle and a small group of fellow neoconservatives have made it their mission to drag along Washington’s remaining “realists.”

In his book, Sharansky makes a powerful case that there is a common thread tying together the anti-Western hostility of old regimes like the Soviet Union and that of new enemies like the Islamist terrorists and their sponsors, including the Iranian mullah state and the Palestinian Authority under the late Arafat. “While the mechanics of democracy make democracies inherently peaceful, the mechanics of tyrannies make nondemocracies inherently belligerent,” he writes. Whether they are communist or Islamist, he argues, they must achieve legitimacy by creating external enemies, he argues. That’s a recipe for eternal conflict, he argues--as the autocratic Arafat proved by consistently sidestepping a peace deal.

So Sharansky’s influence represents a closing of the circle for the neocons who began battling for their ideas in the late ’70s and early ’80s. Sharansky himself says it is all a continuum, including the cast of characters, among them Abrams, Perle, Defense Department senior officials Paul Wolfowitz and Douglas Feith and Cheney’s chief of staff, Scooter Libby. “If you check their background, most of them were connected either to Senator Jackson or to the Reagan administration or to both,” says Sharansky. “And that’s why, by the way, many of them are my friends from those years. And in the last 15 years, we kept talking to one another.”

It is possible that America’s new embrace of Sharanskyism will also prove to be a recipe for eternal conflict. America will now be accused of hypocrisy every time it fails to live up to Bush’s promise “to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture.” In China, Russia and Taiwan, in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, Washington has shrunk from pursuing that policy too forthrightly, mainly because it needs friends. And Bush is unlikely to depart dramatically from this cautious course. That means, in turn, that his new statement of American policy is certain to come back to haunt him, just as Woodrow Wilson’s promise of self-determination haunted American foreign policy-makers after World War I. Especially when Natan Sharansky is out there, reminding him of his promise.
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Last edited by stefania on Wed Jan 26, 2005 12:37 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 26, 2005 10:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote


the article above may not be perfect , but it gives us hope that President Bush may follow the advises of wise people such as Natan Sharansky.

Former dissidents like him - who was held as prisoner in a Stalinist Gulag in the former USSR - ( who have met heroes such as Andrei Sakharov ) know more than everyone else what the lack of Democracy means and how all the peoples of this earth feel when they lack the most important element who allows us to survive - that is Liberty and Freedom.

From wise men like the former political prisoner Sharansky , the President of the world superpower draws a lot of teachings and the speech that Bush has gave last week proves that he is now being advised by those who dare to speak of the spreading of Democracy everywhere, from Iran to China, from Saudi Arabia to Pakistan, from Belarus to Moldova, from Egypt, Yemen and even Lybia.

All this, opposed to the so-called "realists" at the State Dept , who will try to obstacle Bush in the implementation of his vision.

It's up to him to resist these people' s opposition and take the lead of the foreign policy in his hands.

By hearing yesterday's dissidents he is hearing the cries for freedom of today's millions of dissidents and political prisoners.

Bringing, advocating and Promoting democracy is the most important mission and it is worth the cost so far in Afghanistan and Iraq ( despite many opportunistic westerners have been in vain hoping that the Iraqis refused to vote ) and it will be worth whatever cost in future
Referendum AFTER Regime Change

"I'm ready to die for you to be able to say your own opinions, even if i strongly disagree with you" (Voltaire)
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