Striking a new realism

International Herald Tribue, May 17, 2007:

Neither the Democratic takeover of Congress nor the beginning of the presidential campaign has yet started a meaningful foreign policy debate in the United States. In fact, setting aside Iraq, neither presidential candidates, Congress, nor the media have shown much interest in a serious conversation about the direction of U.S. foreign policy. And a majority of legislators and opinion leaders act as if Iraq were an isolated mistake resulting from the peculiar incompetence of the Bush administration rather than a logical consequence of the country's flawed post-Cold War foreign policy approach.

The problem is not new. When the United States became the only superpower, quite a few in the foreign policy elite could not withstand the temptation of triumphalism and a sense of unlimited possibilities. Near unanimity emerged between liberal interventionist Democrats and neoconservative Republicans, who together were able to dominate discourse on world affairs.

The American media's propensity to cover international relations through the prism of domestic politics helped to create the false sense of "Washington consensus." Those who have roles in previous administrations, connections to the current one, or a good chance to join the next one, enjoy the best access to op-ed pages and television. . . .

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