Easier Said than Done

Kevin Drum is amused by the juxtaposition of candidate George W. Bush’s charge that President Clinton wasn’t applying leverage to get OPEC to “open up the spigots” and President Bush’s apparent failure to do just that. It’s certainly a fair criticism. Now, granted, we’ve got a little thing called the Iraq War going on an are somewhat limited in the pressure we can apply to ostensible regional allies. Still, candidates often rail against incumbents and then get into office and find out that their options are a bit more constrained than they’d thought. Remember candidate Clinton lambasting Bush 41’s immoral policy of returning Haitian refuges to Haiti and then continuing that policy upon assumption of office?

Most likely, these things are a function of perspective. From outside, it would seem obvious that the President of the United States–the World’s Sole Remaining SuperpowerTM–could make a bunch of Third World yahoos toe the line. Apparently, since Presidents Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush 41, Clinton, and now Bush 43 haven’t done that, it’s harder than it looks.

FILED UNDER: Economics and Business
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Mithras says:

    Now, granted, we’ve got a little thing called the Iraq War going on an are somewhat limited in the pressure we can apply to ostensible regional allies.

    Wait, wasn’t one of the many justifications offered for the invasion of Iraq that it would give us a long-term presence in the region that would show how good and wise we are, and a base for troops when the goodness and wisdom needed a few artillery rounds behind it? We’ve all but announced we’re there to overhaul their culture, chuck out the autocrats in charge and make them hold elections, and put a McDonald’s on every corner. If that’s not leverage, what is?

  2. James Joyner says:

    Well, not in one day. In the meantime, we need cooperation from the Saudis and others. You can’t do it all at once.