Thursday, March 6, 2014

the last book I ever read (Promises to Keep by Joe Biden, excerpt fifteen)

from Promises to Keep: On Life and Politics by Joe Biden:

In the first months after he took office, George W. Bush reached out to the ranking Democrat of almost every Senate committee, but not to me. I didn’t take it personally. I was the lead Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, and Bush wasn’t much engaged in foreign policy. He was like most of the other governors I’d seen take office. Carter, Reagan, and Clinton had all been shy about taking on big issues in foreign policy unless and until forced by circumstances. Bush seemed even more uncertain.

And it worried me that he had put in place a team that was essentially at war over foreign affairs. On one side was Secretary of State Colin Powell, an old-school Republican internationalist who seemed to want to engage in the world. On the other side were the neo-isolationists like Vice President Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld. The Rumsfeld clique was talking about pulling out of the Balkans, walking away from the international global warming pact called the Kyoto Treaty, and canceling President Clinton’s signature on the international treaty that set up the new International Criminal Court for prosecuting individuals for genocide and other war crimes. They were so intent on going ahead with Reagan’s Star Wars missile defense shield that they were willing to pull out of earlier arms control treaties to get there—inviting, in my view, another arms race. The missile defense system seemed to be the perfect metaphor for the neo-isolationist policy. Let’s arm the heavens, they were saying, and protect the United States of America, the rest of the world be damned.

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