Saturday, April 15, 2006

Neo-Conservatives and their Love of War

I occasionally will read The Weekly Standard to read up on just what my enemy thinks. Yes, neo-conservatives are my political enemy here in America. They are the driving force behind the war in Iraq, and it seems from reading this article entitled "To Bomb or Not to Bomb" that they are the driving force behind a new war with Iran. As you read this article, you can't help but think that these people can only see things through American eyes. (Rage Against the Machine has a song called No Shelter which has as lyrics, "American eyes, American eyes, view the world from American eyes.") Sun Tzu has said:

So it is said that if you know others and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles; if you do not know others but know yourself, you win one and lose one; if you do not know others and do not know yourself, you will be imperiled in every single battle". Sun Tzu --Art of War, Chapter 3: Attack By Stratagem
Once again neo-conservatives show how little they understand not only Iran, but the whole Islamic world. Once again, they only see the world through American eyes. It is a very dangerous thing to do, see things only through your own eyes. At least there is a small sliver of hope that neo-conservatism is dead, or dying, in the water. Francis Fukuyama, one of the original founders of neo-conservatism has rejected neo-conservatives's current views of the world in his new book called America at the Crossroads A New York Times review says the following regarding the book and Mr. Fukuyama:
In February 2004, Francis Fukuyama attended a neoconservative think-tank dinner in Washington and listened aghast as the featured speaker, the columnist Charles Krauthammer, attributed "a virtually unqualified success" to America's efforts in Iraq, and the audience enthusiastically applauded. Fukuyama was aghast partly for the obvious reason, but partly for another reason, too, which, as he explains in the opening pages of his new book, "America at the Crossroads," was entirely personal. ....... Fukuyama offers a thumbnail sketch of neoconservatism and its origins, back to the anti-Communist left at City College in the 1930's and 40's and to the conservative philosophers (Leo Strauss, Allan Bloom, Albert Wohlstetter) at the University of Chicago in later years. From these disparate origins, the neoconservatives eventually generated "a set of coherent principles," which, taken together, ended up defining their impulse in foreign affairs during the last quarter-century. They upheld a belief that democratic states are by nature friendly and unthreatening, and therefore America ought to go around the world promoting democracy and human rights wherever possible. They believed that American power can serve moral purposes. They doubted the usefulness of international law and institutions. And they were skeptical about what is called "social engineering" — about big government and its ability to generate positive social changes. Such is Fukuyama's summary. It seems to me too kind. For how did the neoconservatives propose to reconcile their ambitious desire to combat despotism around the world with their cautious aversion to social engineering? Fukuyama notes that during the 1990's the neoconservatives veered in militarist directions, which strikes him as a mistake. A less sympathetic observer might recall that neoconservative foreign policy thinking has all along indulged a romance of the ruthless — an expectation that small numbers of people might be able to play a decisive role in world events, if only their ferocity could be unleashed. It was a romance of the ruthless that led some of the early generation of neoconservatives in the 1970's to champion the grisliest of anti-Communist guerrillas in Angola; and, during the next decade, led the neoconservatives to champion some not very attractive anti-Communist guerrillas in Central America, too; and led the Reagan administration's neoconservatives into the swamps of the Iran-contra scandal in order to go on championing their guerrillas. Doesn't this same impulse shed a light on the baffling question of how the Bush administration of our own time could have managed to yoke together a stirring democratic oratory with a series of grotesque scandals involving American torture — this very weird and self-defeating combination of idealism and brass knuckles? But Fukuyama must not agree.
What Fukuyama is now basically arguing is that neo-conservatives have forgotten their roots, (from the article above comes this interesting sentence: "They upheld a belief that democratic states are by nature friendly and unthreatening, and therefore America ought to go around the world promoting democracy and human rights wherever possible."), and that the practicality, and not the theoretical, aspects of neo-conservatism has lost its way. It is his argument in his new journal called The American Interest. In an article entitled The Paradox of International Action he says the following in the abstract (I am not a subscriber and just stumbled upon his new journal):
Whatever else it has done and may yet do, the Iraq war has exposed the limits of American benevolent hegemony. We have learned that American power does not seem to many others, including some we thought among our best friends, as benign as most Americans believe it is. But the war also exposed the limits of existing international institutions, particularly the United Nations, that are favored by most Europeans as the proper framework for legitimate international action. The United Nations was able neither to ratify the U.S. decision to go to war nor to stop Washington from acting on its own. From either perspective, it failed. The world today lacks effective international institutions that can confer legitimacy on collective action. Creating new institutions that will better balance the requirements of legitimacy and effectiveness will be the primary task for the coming generation. As a result of more than two hundred years of political evolution, we have a relatively good understanding of how to create institutions that are rule-bound, accountable and reasonably effective in the vertical silos we call states. What we do not have are adequate institutions of horizontal accountability among states.
So here is a question that arises out of this conversation. Just how benign does America look when it talks about war with Iraq, war with Iran, and war with North Korea (oh yeah, now that NK has nukes, we don't talk about them anymore....)? Is America friendly and non-threatening? By STARTING two wars (it seems a war with Iran is inevitable from the talk coming out of the mouths of neo-conservatives), has America fundamentally changed its very nature? Is it a standard of peace and liberty? Or does this not have, in actuality, the very sound that Orwell warned us about? WAR IS PEACE FREEDOM IS SLAVERY IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH Fukuyama is almost right. It isn't international action that is paradoxical, but the Bush Doctrine of preemption and unilateralism that is paradoxical and anathema to what America really stands for. Why? Why is it paradoxical? It comes back to American eyes. What some Americans do not realize is that America is looked at by most of the world as a light, a beacon, an example of what should be, what they should be. Many Americans do not realize this because they cannot see with the eyes of others, but their own. Transform America into what will be perceived as an ugly, aggressive beast, and America's highly important standing as the Light of the World, will diminish, and perhaps China will take over as the example to the world. Fukuyama and his former neo-conservative fellows believed in the early 90s with Fukuyama's "End of History" essays that the final epitomal form of government is the liberal democratic kind that flourished in 1989 as described by Huntington in The Third Wave. America's example is what led so many of these nations to turn to democracy. Today however, in the regions where America attempted to subvert nations (neo-conservatives's guerrilla campaigns of the 70s and 80s), those nations are rejecting Western-style governments, and/or, movements that support and want to strengthen ties with the West. In South America, leftist socialist parties continue to gain political strength on the waves of Anti-Americanism. In the Middle East, in Palestine, Hamas---certainly no lover of the West---won the election, stunning many in the West. (I wasn't surprised---but this is for another discussion). In Iran, the mullahs continue strengthening their hand. In Iraq, the party with the strongest ties to America lost in the election. In Pakistan, the only thing keeping Musharaf in power is that he is a dictator! America can influence the world for good. What I say, though, will be called by neo-conservatives as keeping the "status quo". Because I don't want to go to war, I'm called "status quo", "anti-American", "coward," "lover of terrorists", blah blah blah. America won the Cold War not because it fired a shot at the Soviet Union, but because it didn't. Peace won that conflict. RHMD


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