Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The New Strategy: From the Ashes

The Phoenix Initiative is the Democratic Party's answer to Neo-Conservatism's Project for a New American Century. In fact, the somewhat cheeky title of a related commission is The Project for a New American Security. Its reports have created the operating system that will articulate Obama's foreign policy decisions.

The Neo-Conservative strategy was based on the Wagnerian assessment that American power was only threatened by its own timidity and that we should therefore move as quickly and unilaterally as possible to establish an unchallengeable dominance.

The Phoenix Project's strategy is no less operatic in ambition, but completely embraces a new kind of internationalism, ascendant under Clinton, that the Bush administration all but scuttled.

The authors are listed below, look for their names in the coming weeks as the new administration is announced:

Anne Marie Slaughter: Dean of the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International affairs at Princeton University. She is the author of "The Idea that Is America: Keeping Faith with Our Values in a Dangerous World." An earlier work, sure to get the goat of conspiracy theorists, "A New World Order," dealt with the rise of global transnational bureaucracies and global government. She is a member of the National War Powers Commission, a body of American diplomats and scholars which produced a report urging legislation that would limit the war-making powers of the Executive Branch.

Bruce Jentleson: Professor of Political Science at Duke University. PhD from Cornell, Master's from The London School of Economics. Before taking on the Phoenix Initiative project, he was a Visiting Senior Research Fellow at Oxford University and the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London, and a Fulbright Senior Research Scholar in Spain.

Ivo Daalder: perhaps the most recognizable name on this list, and certainly the most memorable, (it is Dutch), Daalder was Bill Clinton's man in Yugoslavia. He is a prolific author of books on foreign policy that can be characterized as a frantic ringing of the watchman's bell on the deck of the Titanic as ice looms into view. He is a member of The Council on Foreign Relations, and a Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institute.

Anthony J. Blinken: a trans-atlanticist who served on Clinton's National Security Council and raised alarm bells presciently over the Bush administration's neglect of our image abroad. He coordinates the Democratic staff of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Blinken is also member of The Council on Foreign Relations. He has traveled to Iraq and Saudi Arabia, and has gone on record as saying that though the war in Iraq was ill-advised, stabilizing the region should be our main priority.

Lael Brainard: Vice President of Global Economy and Development at The Brookings Instiute. She taught at MIT and is considered an expert in Competitiveness. She has also written extensively on global poverty. She has spoken in debate format on Obama's economic policy. One wonders what remains of Obama's intentions to press China on currency manipulation in the current financial crisis, when its reserves are looking so important. Brainard, who may be our trade representative, would be the one to ask.

Kurt M. Campbell: one of the more intriguing figures on this list, he was an officer in the Navy with extensive intelligence experience and served the Joint Chiefs of Staff, he studied music in Russia and received his Doctorate in international relations from Oxford. Campbell now runs StratAsia, a strategic advisory company that focuses on Asia. He is also the director of The Aspen Strategy Group, and is CEO of The Project for a New American Security. He is interested in the global security aspects of climate change.

Michael McFaul: the Russian expert. A Stanford Professor and Senior Associate at the Carnegie Endowment for Peace, he has been sought out for his counsel on the new direction in Russo-American relations since the invasion of Georgia.

James O'Brien: A principal of The Albright Group LLC. A Yale Law graduate, he is an expert in investments in "transitional states" especially in Southeastern Europe, to which he was a Special Presidential Envoy, and the Middle East.

Gayle Smith: The African expert. Spent 20 years covering Africa as a journalist. Is now a Senior Fellow at The Center for American Progress. She left the Clinton Global Initiative in 2007. She was Special Assistant to President Clinton and Senior Director for African Affairs at the National Security Council.

James Steinberg: Deputy National Security Advisor in Clinton's second term, now Dean of the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas. He has been a Senior Fellow at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, a Senior Analyst for the Rand Corporation, and is a Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institute. He is credited with giving Obama his Pro-Israel makeover.

Susan Rice: on leave from the Brookings Institute, she was assistant secretary of state for African Affairs. She is considered an expert on weak and failing states, the implications of global poverty and transnational security threats. No relation to Condoleeza.

She wrote the introduction to the Phoenix Initiative, from which the following is excerpted:
“This report breaks away from such traditional concepts as containment, engagement, and enlargement and rejects standard dichotomies of realist power politics versus liberal idealism.”

So we have that to look forward to.

Thank you to Nation Masters for the image of the phoenix from the Aberdeen Bestiary. Nation Masters is a great resource. For example, did you know that though Russia is roughly 127 times the size of Bangladesh, its population is slightly smaller? True.