in the days of the "Evil Empire," the United States pursued what was
called the "bleeding strategy" toward the Soviet Union.
to the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the Reagan administration,
like the Carter administration before it, decided to bankrupt Moscow as
the best way to win the Cold War.
The Soviet Union would be financially bled.
isolating Cuba and Vietnam would force the Soviets to pump considerable
sums of money into these clients to prop up their regimes. Supplying
weapons to the mujahedin fighting the Soviets in Afghanistan would put
heavy costs on the occupation.
Reagan's Strategic Defense Initiative (Star Wars) would force the
Soviet Union to devote ever-increasing shares of its national wealth to
its military forces.
the collapse of the Soviet Union and the demise of its Communist
rulers, many American conservatives hailed the bleeding strategy as the
main reason for winning the Cold War.
won it. Although simple minded, this belief lingers among Reagan's
champions in America. The existence of the strategy is also widely
known abroad, especially among Russian officials and intellectuals.
Now, the shoe is on the other foot.
with Russian, EU and Chinese officials strongly suggest that the
bleeding strategy is now being used against Bush's America.
is no secret that the leaders of these major players view Bush's
preemptive use of force, his pre-occupation on the war on terrorism and
on challenging axis-of-evil regimes, his disdain for the UN and
international law, and his highly threatening military buildup,
including the U.S. missile defense system, as contrary to their
interests. Presidents Vladimir Putin, Hu Jintao, Jacques Chirac, and
others favor multipolarity, not American unipolarity.
it difficult to re-direct Bush to a wider, more internationalist
orientation, these leaders are taking advantage of what they see as an
opportunity to blunt and eventually change the direction of U.S.
foreign policy. They appear to have adopted three ways to do it.
Bush's narrow focus allows them to appease the United States by joining
the war on terrorism and to step back by tacitly approving the Iraq
then is free to pursue his narrow agenda. And that leaves the rest of
the world free to pursue their agendas without much U.S. interference.
Russia moves to reestablish its sphere of influence and rejoin Europe.
China advances its economy and regional influence in its pursuit of
great power status. The EU concentrates on expansion, unity and even
major powers in Europe and Asia see Bush's grand strategy as weakening
American power almost daily -- power that they see as misguided and
harmful. This weakening is good.
that the United States employed a bleeding strategy to debilitate and
fracture the Soviet Union, major powers are now content to let the
United States bleed itself. Little help is given to the expensive
occupation of Iraq.
to Bush's costly (and dubiously effective) missile defense system are
muted and it proceeds. China, EU countries, Russia and Japan are
lending money to the United States to the tune of $2 billion daily,
thus aiding and abetting huge budget deficits that will eventually
squeeze Washington's financial ability to maintain its imperium.
Interest payments overseas mount. The dollar weakens.
bleeding makes the United States less able to engage in militarism
elsewhere, such as toward North Korea or Iran. It burdens the United
States, thereby lessening its international economic clout. It reduces
Bush's opportunities to interfere in their domestic affairs, whether on
human rights, elections or economic restructuring, thereby giving them
wide policy latitude.
because Bush's strategy is unsustainable because of its enormous costs,
its failure to deal with a wide variety of important issues and its
dramatic denigration of diplomatic influence, major powers know that
Bush's grand unipolar design cannot last long.
either Bush changes or he and his policies will be repudiated at the
polls. Bushism, like Bonapartism, is not forever. The United States
will eventually return to normal diplomacy, military moderation,
multilateral operations, and to support for international law and
There is no need to advertise the bleeding. Bush is doing the bleeding pretty well all by himself.
Nicholas Berry, director of ForeignPolicyForum.com, contributed this comment to The Moscow Times.