True realism

The Washington Post’s Jim Hoagland shows that one need not admire President Bush to be concerned about the apparent return of the foreign policy “realists.” As Hoagland notes, these are the “policymakers who failed to anticipate and then opposed the breakup of the Soviet Union; who were not realistic enough to see, much less prevent, the Balkans from plunging into flames; and who coddled dictators from Beijing to Baghdad.”
Judging from recent reports, the Baker prescription for dealing with Iraq will consist of coddling dictators from Damascus to Teheran.
Hoagland sees “realism” as “too often a euphemism for cyniicism, for playing for time, and passing up big opportunities. . . .” In the current environment — with Iran poised to become a nuclear power — trying to buy time is not a very realistic option. Neither, says Hoagland, is trying to get back to the 1990s. Instead, “true realism lies in recognizing that [President Bush’s] diagnosis of a crumbling order in the Middle East was sound, even if his prescriptions were not.”

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