Leaving the Cold War Behind

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was widely praised when she announced during her confirmation hearing, “The time for diplomacy is now.

Of course, the time for diplomacy was actually three years ago, and the Bush administration seems set on repeating the errors that plagued its unsuccessful first-term diplomatic efforts.

The Defense Science Board Task Force, a Pentagon advisory group, last year specifically criticized the Bush administration for developing their diplomatic strategy using the prism of the Cold War. As Sydney Blumenthal explained:

The Bush administration, according to the Defense Science Board, has misconceived a war on terrorism in the image of the Cold War — “reflexively” and “without a thought or a care as to whether these were the best responses to a very different strategic situation.” Yet the administration seeks out “Cold War models” to cast this “war” against “totalitarian evil.” However, the struggle is not the West vs. Islam; nor is it “against the tactic of terrorism.” “This is no Cold War,” the report insists.

Which makes it more than a little disturbing that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice briefed State Department employees yesterday on how she plans to model her diplomatic strategy after American policy during the Cold War. She said past diplomatic success was “just a matter of harvesting good decisions” made by Cold War architects like Dean Acheson and George Kennan, and described how “we are now in a similar period.” “That is the basis of our foreign policy,” she said, “it’s a foreign policy based on the heart of who we are.”