Apropos the post below, John Judis has a solid piece on the threat of a Rudy Administration that concludes with this great observation:
The centerpiece of Giuliani’s claim, however, is the suggestion that his approach to fighting crime provides a model for conducting foreign policy. In a recent essay for Foreign Affairs, he wrote: “I know from personal experience that when security is reliably established in a troubled part of a city, normal life rapidly reestablishes itself: shops open, people move back in, children start playing ball on the sidewalks again, and soon a decent and law-abiding community returns to life. The same is true in world affairs. Disorder in the world’s bad neighborhoods tends to spread. Tolerating bad behavior breeds more bad behavior.”
This is a foolish analogy. In policing the world, the United States cannot claim to be enforcing its own laws; we lack legitimacy to do so, as we found after invading Iraq. When the NYPD went into poor neighborhoods, it was not an occupying force; when the U.S. military took over Baghdad, it was, and it suffered the consequences. Some of the “neighborhoods” Giuliani wants to clean up, such as Iran, possess their own armies and can call on other “neighborhoods,” such as Russia and China, to deter an attempt to punish them for bad behavior. In short, the world is not New York writ large, and the trade-offs between authority and liberty look very different from the White House than from Gracie Mansion. But these distinctions seem lost on the man who aspires to be the next mayor of the United States.
Right. Trying to treat the entire world as if it were the sovereign territory of the United States is going to produce catastrophic results. The observation that the world needs forces to try to help bring order to some “bad neighborhoods” has a lot of truth to it, but insofar as that order is brought it’s going to need to be done by institutions and through mechanisms — first and foremost, the UN but also regional groups in their own back yards where appropriate — that are capable of doing so in a reasonably legitimate manner. Just having the President dictate to the rest of the world, however, isn’t going to fly.