At the event I hosted a week ago today, Mort Kondracke was among the approximately 45 guests. Mort is an open-minded ‘radical centrist/moderate independent’ columnist who thinks, like I do, that blind faith by many to anachronistic perspectives as well as ‘inertia’ explain government policy better than most any other set of drivers. I think he is a guy who believes in good public policy and not letting laziness, ideological or otherwise, preempt policy outcomes the nation deserves.
In his syndicated column, he writes about the lunch meeting we had and challenges Scowcroft’s and Brzezinski’s brands of realism with a well-argued alternative take on where we are with Iraq and the upcoming elections.
In one graf, he writes:
The session was sponsored by the nonpartisan New America Foundation, usually a font of crisp new ideas for solving the nation’s problems. At the moment, NAF seems to be dedicated to a reversal of Bush’s “neo-conservative” foreign policy and a return to the “realism” associated with Bush’s father and increasingly favored by many Democrats.
I need to spend some time with Mort so that he knows that what we are trying to do in my new foreign policy project here is to not fall back into the stale grooves of old-style realism and instead look forward to developing some new parameters and benchmarks for American foreign policy.
Realism and its roots will be an important part of developing a forward-looking foreign policy framework, but “realism” as it used to be simply doesn’t fix America’s or the world’s current problems. Realism modernized, reformed, and broadened seems to me to be a worthwhile discussion to have — but I’m sure that derivatives of yesterday’s realism would only be an ingredient in a more enlightened U.S. foreign policy framework.
Interestingly, Scowcroft mentioned this at the beginning of his remarks when he commented on how globalization of problems was undoing the nation-state and making it vastly harder for nation-states to realistically assess and counter global problems, particularly on their own.
Scowcroft said:
The second thing I want to talk about today is “Globalization,” a kind of a buzz-word now. But I mean it in the most fundamental sense: the change in the way the world operates.
It is a fundamental erosion of national boundaries, and therefore the role of the nation-state. There are so many forces; economic forces, technological forces, environmental forces and political forces, terrorism being one of these as well, that are flowing back and forth across borders and defying the nation-state’s ability to do what the nation-state has always done, which is to provide for the security and welfare of its citizens.

I want to link Mort Kondracke’s piece today because he was not swept away by the presentations by Scowcroft and Brzezinski and debated them on their own terms (without distorting their meaning or intent).
Mort does know how to do it, and he’ll hopefully be a regular at our foreign policy forums.
— Steve Clemons