[Allan Topol / AllanTopol.Com]
Lightning paced thriller writer
of International Intrigue
National Bestselling Author

Politics and Foreign Policy
by Allan Topol, [IMAGE]2004


Photo Courtesy: Julie Zitin
[Allan Topol / AllanTopol.Com] There was a time, which now seems very long ago, when the phrase, “foreign policy is non partisan” was the norm in the United States. What that meant for those too young to remember was that leaders and members of both parties in Congress backed the President on foreign policy issues. Bitter antagonisms might rage on domestic issues like taxes and welfare programs, but when it came to making war or peace, both political parties and much of the country usually, although not always, supported the President.

Perhaps that wasn’t the ideal way to run the country. Constructive debate on foreign policy issues can be valuable. “My country, right or wrong,” is not a healthy way to run a democracy.

But regardless of what happened in the past, the current situation is radically different. Foreign policy disputes are now bitter and hostile. Even moderate civility plays no part in the discussion. By denigrating the President in this manner, we show a great weakness to foreign governments and undercut any American policy.

On Iraq, Americans are deeply divided, which is fair enough because, after all, whether we should have launched the war to topple Saddam Hussein is something upon which reasonable minds can differ. What is not acceptable is the vitriolic character of the disagreement on both sides.

The anti war people see President Bush and his supporters in the government as the devil incarnate. Their criticisms are so sharp and vituperative that they know no bounds. Even the most outrageous charges are made that transcend human decency. Notions of patriotism have no role in tempering their charges. Do they really believe that the world was a better place with Saddam Hussein in power, torturing the Iraqi people and threatening his neighbors?

The Bush people can do no right. If they say black, his adversaries say white in a shrill knee jerk reaction. If he says right, they say wrong with an equivalent ferocity.

The President’s supporters, for their part are equally outrageous. Whoever dares to question Administration policy is castigated in the harshest terms. All one has to do is tune into a right wing talk show. In about two minutes you’ll get the idea. And for eight years the right tore into Clinton with the same savagery.

The debate has done more than polarize the country. It’s downright ugly.

The newspapers and their columnists are marching to the same beat. There’s no point reading the columnists any longer. Even a sixth grader knows where each of them stands on the issue. Once I see the title on a column and the name of the author, I can pretty well summarize the column without reading it.

When I raised this point with a friend last week, he said that I didn’t appreciate how much hostility exists in our society in general. Seen from this perspective, he argues the vitriolic voices on foreign policy are no different than the openly hostile court pleadings filed by lawyers in well respected firms, road rage expressed by motorists cut off at a traffic light, or basketball players who believe they were improperly fouled.

That may be true, but the problem is that the intensity of the blind opposition is undermining the recent glimmer of hope that we could emerge from Iraq with some measure of success, despite the setbacks of recent months. To be sure, Iraq will never be what we hoped for, in terms of an ideal democracy, but it may lead to an exit strategy.

The formulation of the Iraqi transition government and the transfer of sovereignty is at this point going better than seemed possible just weeks ago. The critical ingredient is the emergence of Ayad Allawi as Prime Minister. There is a real possibility that he could be a strongman with the force of personality to pull the country on its feet and battle the insurgents.

This is by no means clear, but it’s possible. To be sure, a strongman does not have a role in a true democracy, but Iraq will at best be a semblance of a democratic state.

Even the President’s most bitter foes should acknowledge that Allawi is better than Saddam Hussein. But they won’t. They don’t believe in giving the man they believe to be the devil his due.

In their desire to see Bush humiliated, his foes would have the U.S. fail and our country be disgraced around the world. To me, that’s an irrational position. It won’t benefit any American. Certainly not Kerry if he is elected and inherits a weakened country. But then again, hatred blinds.

The time has come to end the bitter hostility on Iraq in the United States, regardless of what people thought of the war. Let’s try for a measure of broad support for the new Iraqi government. All Americans will gain if Allawi makes a go of it.