THE CODA LEAST OF ALL:

April 16, 2007

THE ANGLOSPHERE VS. JIHAD: a review of A HISTORY OF THE ENGLISH-SPEAKING PEOPLES SINCE 1900 BY ANDREW ROBERTS (JOHN O’SULLIVAN, April 15, 2007, NY Post)

‘LES Anglo-Saxons,” argues Andrew Roberts, were united by the English language and by the Common Law. Still more links were listed by Winston Churchill in 1943: “Common conceptions of what is right and decent, a marked regard for fair play, especially to the weak and poor, a stern sentiment of impartial justice and above all a love of personal freedom . . . these are the common conceptions on both sides of the ocean among the English-speaking peoples.”

Roberts has built “A History of the English-Speaking Peoples Since 1900″ around four great ideological challenges to the dominance of the English-speaking world and its liberal values: Prussian militarism in 1914, Nazi-Fascist aggression in 1939, Soviet Communist aggression in the Cold War and the Islamist jihad against the West today. He tells the story of how these conflicts were begun and (with the exception of the last) resolved.

Roberts’ message is essentially optimistic. The first three challenges, he points out, were formidable; all seemed, at times, to be within reach of their goals; all benefited initially from a reluctance of their intended victims to take them seriously, but all eventually lost because “les Anglo-Saxons,” once aroused, were powerful and determined enough to crush them.

The fundamental insight of the


STOP AT A BAKER'S DOZEN:

March 28, 2006

Fukuyama’s Fantasy (Charles Krauthammer, March 28, 2006, Washington Post)

History will judge whether we can succeed in “establishing civilized, decent, nonbelligerent, pro-Western polities in Afghanistan and Iraq.” My point then, as now, has never been that success was either inevitable or at hand, only that success was critically important to “change the strategic balance in the fight against Arab-Islamic radicalism.”

I made the point of repeating the problematic nature of the enterprise: “The undertaking is enormous, ambitious and arrogant. It may yet fail.”

For Fukuyama to assert that I characterized it as “a virtually unqualified success” is simply breathtaking. My argument then, as now, was the necessity of this undertaking, never its ensured success. And it was necessary because, as I said, there is not a single, remotely plausible, alternative strategy for attacking the root causes of Sept. 11: “The cauldron of political oppression, religious intolerance, and social ruin in the Arab-Islamic world — oppression transmuted and deflected by regimes with no legitimacy into virulent, murderous anti-Americanism.”

Fukuyama’s book is proof of this proposition about the lack of the plausible alternative. The alternative he proposes for the challenges of Sept. 11 — new international institutions, new forms of foreign aid and sundry other forms of “soft power” — is a mush of bureaucratic make-work in the face of a raging fire.

Mr. Krauthammer is, of course, wrong about History not being at its End, but, oddly, Mr. Fukuyama takes many of the wrong lessons from history. Most importantly, as Mr. Krauthammer points out, he reverts to exactly the error that Woodrow Wilson made after WWI. Where George W. Bush has taken the democratic self-determination ball and run with it, Mr. Fukuyama proposes instead a shift in focus to the same kind of futile League of Nations folderol that consumed Wilson and turned victory in that war into defeat. A genuinely American foreign policy requires the universal extension of our ideals to peoples not yet free, not the erection of transnational bureaucracies that tie us down.

It should always be rememberd that Wilson had 13 good Points but went down fighting for the awful fourteenth:

I. Open covenants of peace, openly arrived at, after which there shall be no private international understandings of any kind but diplomacy shall proceed always frankly and in the public view.

II. Absolute freedom of navigation upon the seas, outside territorial waters, alike in peace and in war, except as the seas may be closed in whole or in part by international action for the enforcement of international covenants.

III. The removal, so far as possible, of all economic barriers and the establishment of an equality of trade conditions among all the nations consenting to the peace and associating themselves for its maintenance.

IV. Adequate guarantees given and taken that national armaments will be reduced to the lowest point consistent with domestic safety.

V. A free, open-minded, and absolutely impartial adjustment of all colonial claims, based upon a strict observance of the principle that in determining all such questions of sovereignty the interests of the populations concerned must have equal weight with the equitable claims of the government whose title is to be determined.

VI. The evacuation of all Russian territory and such a settlement of all questions affecting Russia as will secure the best and freest cooperation of the other nations of the world in obtaining for her an unhampered and unembarrassed opportunity for the independent determination of her own political development and national policy and assure her of a sincere welcome into the society of free nations under institutions of her own choosing; and, more than a welcome, assistance also of every kind that she may need and may herself desire. The treatment accorded Russia by her sister nations in the months to come will be the acid test of their good will, of their comprehension of her needs as distinguished from their own interests, and of their intelligent and unselfish sympathy.

VII. Belgium, the whole world will agree, must be evacuated and restored, without any attempt to limit the sovereignty which she enjoys in common with all other free nations. No other single act will serve as this will serve to restore confidence among the nations in the laws which they have themselves set and determined for the government of their relations with one another. Without this healing act the whole structure and validity of international law is forever impaired.

VIII. All French territory should be freed and the invaded portions restored, and the wrong done to France by Prussia in 1871 in the matter of Alsace-Lorraine, which has unsettled the peace of the world for nearly fifty years, should be righted, in order that peace may once more be made secure in the interest of all.

IX. A readjustment of the frontiers of Italy should be effected along clearly recognizable lines of nationality.

X. The peoples of Austria-Hungary, whose place among the nations we wish to see safeguarded and assured, should be accorded the freest opportunity to autonomous development.

XI. Rumania, Serbia, and Montenegro should be evacuated; occupied territories restored; Serbia accorded free and secure access to the sea; and the relations of the several Balkan states to one another determined by friendly counsel along historically established lines of allegiance and nationality; and international guarantees of the political and economic independence and territorial integrity of the several Balkan states should be entered into.

XII. The turkish portion of the present Ottoman Empire should be assured a secure sovereignty, but the other nationalities which are now under Turkish rule should be assured an undoubted security of life and an absolutely unmolested opportunity of autonomous development, and the Dardanelles should be permanently opened as a free passage to the ships and commerce of all nations under international guarantees.

XIII. An independent Polish state should be erected which should include the territories inhabited by indisputably Polish populations, which should be assured a free and secure access to the sea, and whose political and economic independence and territorial integrity should be guaranteed by international covenant.

XIV. A general association of nations must be formed under specific covenants for the purpose of affording mutual guarantees of political independence and territorial integrity to great and small states alike.

[editor's note: Redefining Sovereignty contains both the Fourteen Points and an essay by Francis Fukuyama]

MORE:
-LECTURE: Democratic Realism: An American Foreign Policy for a Unipolar World (Charles Krauthammer, February 12, 2004, 2004 Irving Kristol Lecture, AEI Annual Dinner)


STUPID WOGS:

March 27, 2006

Fukuyama’s John Kerry moment: a review of America at the Crossroads Democracy, Power, and the Neoconservative Legacy By Francis Fukuyama (Steven Martinovich, March 27, 2006, Enter Stage Right)

[A]merica at the Crossroads is one of the better arguments against the war and its aftermath, both on philosophical grounds and real-world politics. In it Fukuyama argues that the current strain of neoconservatism, one he no longer considers himself a part of, responsible for the war in Iraq is far different from the one pioneered by the alumnus of the City College of New York in the 1930s and 40s. While the movement’s founding fathers were convinced that American power could be used for good in the world — as World War II proved — today’s neoconservatives have departed from several key principles.

Those principles include an aversion to preemptive wars and recognition that social engineering — which Fukuyama uses as a euphemism for nation building — was extraordinarily difficult. If Saddam Hussein was indeed a danger to global security, Fukuyama argues, then the war was too preemptive considering the failure to actually find the weapons of mass destruction the world was led to believe he possessed. And the post-war difficulty the coalition is experiencing is certainly proof that building a democracy is impossible without the internal demand for liberty and the institutions necessary to sustain it.

If there’s no internal demand then why did the Iraqis adopt a liberal constitution and why do they keep turning out for free elections?


IF ONLY HE WERE A DEMOCRAT….:

March 26, 2006

Neo No More: a review of America at the Crossroads by Francis Fukuyama (PAUL BERMAN, 3/26/06, NY Times)

The neoconservatives, he suggests, are people who, having witnessed the collapse of Communism long ago, ought to look back on those gigantic events as a one-in-a-zillion lucky break, like winning the lottery. Instead, the neoconservatives, victims of their own success, came to believe that Communism’s implosion reflected the deepest laws of history, which were operating in their own and America’s favor — a formula for hubris. This is a shrewd observation, and might seem peculiar only because Fukuyama’s own “End of History” articulated the world’s most eloquent argument for detecting within the collapse of Communism the deepest laws of history. He insists in his new book that “The End of History” ought never to have led anyone to adopt such a view, but this makes me think only that Fukuyama is an utterly unreliable interpreter of his own writings.

He wonders why Bush never proposed a more convincing justification for invading Iraq — based not just on a fear of Saddam Hussein’s weapons (which could have been expressed in a non-alarmist fashion), nor just on the argument for human rights and humanitarianism, which Bush did raise, after a while. A genuinely cogent argument, as Fukuyama sees it, would have drawn attention to the problems that arose from America’s prewar standoff with Hussein. The American-led sanctions against Iraq were the only factor that kept him from building his weapons. The sanctions were crumbling, though. Meanwhile, they were arousing anti-American furies across the Middle East on the grounds (entirely correct, I might add) that America was helping to inflict horrible damage on the Iraqi people. American troops took up positions in the region to help contain Hussein — and the presence of those troops succeeded in infuriating Osama bin Laden. In short, the prewar standoff with Hussein was untenable morally and even politically. But there was no way to end the standoff apart from ending Hussein’s dictatorship.

Now, I notice that in stressing this strategic argument, together with the humanitarian and human rights issue, and in pointing out lessons from the Balkans, Fukuyama has willy-nilly outlined some main elements of the liberal interventionist position of three years ago, at least in one of its versions. In the Iraq war, liberal interventionism was the road not taken, to be sure. Nor was liberal interventionism his own position. However, I have to say that, having read his book, I’m not entirely sure what position he did adopt, apart from wisely admonishing everyone to tread carefully. He does make plain that, having launched wars hither and yon, the United States had better ensure that, in Afghanistan and Iraq alike, stable antiterrorist governments finally emerge.

Mr. Berman and Mr. Fukuyama are certainly correc t that the President should have made the liberal case for intervention and it’s curious that he didn’t because it is so easily articulated and so obviously morally compelling. Imagine how much more popular and global support there’d have been for removing Saddam had he just gone to the United Nations and said something like the following:

Our common security is challenged by regional conflicts — ethnic and religious strife that is ancient, but not inevitable. In the Middle East, there can be no peace for either side without freedom for both sides. America stands committed to an independent and democratic Palestine, living side by side with Israel in peace and security. Like all other people, Palestinians deserve a government that serves their interests and listens to their voices. My nation will continue to encourage all parties to step up to their responsibilities as we seek a just and comprehensive settlement to the conflict.

Above all, our principles and our security are challenged today by outlaw groups and regimes that accept no law of morality and have no limit to their violent ambitions. In the attacks on America a year ago, we saw the destructive intentions of our enemies. This threat hides within many nations, including my own. In cells and camps, terrorists are plotting further destruction, and building new bases for their war against civilization. And our greatest fear is that terrorists will find a shortcut to their mad ambitions when an outlaw regime supplies them with the technologies to kill on a massive scale.

In one place — in one regime — we find all these dangers, in their most lethal and aggressive forms, exactly the kind of aggressive threat the United Nations was born to confront.

Twelve years ago, Iraq invaded Kuwait without provocation. And the regime’s forces were poised to continue their march to seize other countries and their resources. Had Saddam Hussein been appeased instead of stopped, he would have endangered the peace and stability of the world. Yet this aggression was stopped — by the might of coalition forces and the will of the United Nations.

To suspend hostilities, to spare himself, Iraq’s dictator accepted a series of commitments. The terms were clear, to him and to all. And he agreed to prove he is complying with every one of those obligations.

He has proven instead only his contempt for the United Nations, and for all his pledges. By breaking every pledge — by his deceptions, and by his cruelties — Saddam Hussein has made the case against himself.

In 1991, Security Council Resolution 688 demanded that the Iraqi regime cease at once the repression of its own people, including the systematic repression of minorities — which the Council said, threatened international peace and security in the region. This demand goes ignored.

Last year, the U.N. Commission on Human Rights found that Iraq continues to commit extremely grave violations of human rights, and that the regime’s repression is all pervasive. Tens of thousands of political opponents and ordinary citizens have been subjected to arbitrary arrest and imprisonment, summary execution, and torture by beating and burning, electric shock, starvation, mutilation, and rape. Wives are tortured in front of their husbands, children in the presence of their parents — and all of these horrors concealed from the world by the apparatus of a totalitarian state.

In 1991, the U.N. Security Council, through Resolutions 686 and 687, demanded that Iraq return all prisoners from Kuwait and other lands. Iraq’s regime agreed. It broke its promise. Last year the Secretary General’s high-level coordinator for this issue reported that Kuwait, Saudi, Indian, Syrian, Lebanese, Iranian, Egyptian, Bahraini, and Omani nationals remain unaccounted for — more than 600 people. One American pilot is among them.

In 1991, the U.N. Security Council, through Resolution 687, demanded that Iraq renounce all involvement with terrorism, and permit no terrorist organizations to operate in Iraq. Iraq’s regime agreed. It broke this promise. In violation of Security Council Resolution 1373, Iraq continues to shelter and support terrorist organizations that direct violence against Iran, Israel, and Western governments. Iraqi dissidents abroad are targeted for murder. In 1993, Iraq attempted to assassinate the Emir of Kuwait and a former American President. Iraq’s government openly praised the attacks of September the 11th. And al Qaeda terrorists escaped from Afghanistan and are known to be in Iraq.

In 1991, the Iraqi regime agreed to destroy and stop developing all weapons of mass destruction and long-range missiles, and to prove to the world it has done so by complying with rigorous inspections. Iraq has broken every aspect of this fundamental pledge.

From 1991 to 1995, the Iraqi regime said it had no biological weapons. After a senior official in its weapons program defected and exposed this lie, the regime admitted to producing tens of thousands of liters of anthrax and other deadly biological agents for use with Scud warheads, aerial bombs, and aircraft spray tanks. U.N. inspectors believe Iraq has produced two to four times the amount of biological agents it declared, and has failed to account for more than three metric tons of material that could be used to produce biological weapons. Right now, Iraq is expanding and improving facilities that were used for the production of biological weapons.

United Nations’ inspections also revealed that Iraq likely maintains stockpiles of VX, mustard and other chemical agents, and that the regime is rebuilding and expanding facilities capable of producing chemical weapons.

And in 1995, after four years of deception, Iraq finally admitted it had a crash nuclear weapons program prior to the Gulf War. We know now, were it not for that war, the regime in Iraq would likely have possessed a nuclear weapon no later than 1993.

Today, Iraq continues to withhold important information about its nuclear program — weapons design, procurement logs, experiment data, an accounting of nuclear materials and documentation of foreign assistance. Iraq employs capable nuclear scientists and technicians. It retains physical infrastructure needed to build a nuclear weapon. Iraq has made several attempts to buy high-strength aluminum tubes used to enrich uranium for a nuclear weapon. Should Iraq acquire fissile material, it would be able to build a nuclear weapon within a year. And Iraq’s state-controlled media has reported numerous meetings between Saddam Hussein and his nuclear scientists, leaving little doubt about his continued appetite for these weapons.

Iraq also possesses a force of Scud-type missiles with ranges beyond the 150 kilometers permitted by the U.N. Work at testing and production facilities shows that Iraq is building more long-range missiles that it can inflict mass death throughout the region.

In 1990, after Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait, the world imposed economic sanctions on Iraq. Those sanctions were maintained after the war to compel the regime’s compliance with Security Council resolutions. In time, Iraq was allowed to use oil revenues to buy food. Saddam Hussein has subverted this program, working around the sanctions to buy missile technology and military materials. He blames the suffering of Iraq’s people on the United Nations, even as he uses his oil wealth to build lavish palaces for himself, and to buy arms for his country. By refusing to comply with his own agreements, he bears full guilt for the hunger and misery of innocent Iraqi citizens.

In 1991, Iraq promised U.N. inspectors immediate and unrestricted access to verify Iraq’s commitment to rid itself of weapons of mass destruction and long-range missiles. Iraq broke this promise, spending seven years deceiving, evading, and harassing U.N. inspectors before ceasing cooperation entirely. Just months after the 1991 cease-fire, the Security Council twice renewed its demand that the Iraqi regime cooperate fully with inspectors, condemning Iraq’s serious violations of its obligations. The Security Council again renewed that demand in 1994, and twice more in 1996, deploring Iraq’s clear violations of its obligations. The Security Council renewed its demand three more times in 1997, citing flagrant violations; and three more times in 1998, calling Iraq’s behavior totally unacceptable. And in 1999, the demand was renewed yet again.

As we meet today, it’s been almost four years since the last U.N. inspectors set foot in Iraq, four years for the Iraqi regime to plan, and to build, and to test behind the cloak of secrecy.

We know that Saddam Hussein pursued weapons of mass murder even when inspectors were in his country. Are we to assume that he stopped when they left? The history, the logic, and the facts lead to one conclusion: Saddam Hussein’s regime is a grave and gathering danger. To suggest otherwise is to hope against the evidence. To assume this regime’s good faith is to bet the lives of millions and the peace of the world in a reckless gamble. And this is a risk we must not take.

Delegates to the General Assembly, we have been more than patient. We’ve tried sanctions. We’ve tried the carrot of oil for food, and the stick of coalition military strikes. But Saddam Hussein has defied all these efforts and continues to develop weapons of mass destruction. The first time we may be completely certain he has a — nuclear weapons is when, God forbids, he uses one. We owe it to all our citizens to do everything in our power to prevent that day from coming.

The conduct of the Iraqi regime is a threat to the authority of the United Nations, and a threat to peace. Iraq has answered a decade of U.N. demands with a decade of defiance. All the world now faces a test, and the United Nations a difficult and defining moment. Are Security Council resolutions to be honored and enforced, or cast aside without consequence? Will the United Nations serve the purpose of its founding, or will it be irrelevant?

Surely rather than declare themselves irrelevant by their own inaction and opposition the member nations and the Left would have rallied to the cause of liberal intervention, no?


HOW MANY "MODEL DEMOCRACIES" EMERGED FROM THE USSR?:

March 22, 2006

Interview with Ex-Neocon Francis Fukuyama: “A Model Democracy Is not Emerging in Iraq” (Der Spiegel, 3/22/06)

SPIEGEL ONLINE: Your new book, “America at the Crossroads: Democracy, Power, and the Neoconservative Legacy,” is a rejection of the political views you have held throughout your academic career. What happened?

Fukuyama: Iraq happened. The process of distancing myself from neo-conservatism happened four years ago really. I had decided the war wasn’t a good idea some time in 2002 as we were approaching the invasion of Iraq.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: Why? After all, one of the neo-conservative pillars is a profound belief in democracy and the spread of democracy.

Fukuyama: I was partly unsure whether the United States could handle the transition to a democratic government in Iraq. But the biggest problem I had was that the people pushing for the intervention lacked self-knowledge about the US. When I look back over the 20th century history of American interventions, particularly those in the Caribbean and Latin America, the consistent problem we’ve had is being unable to stick it out. Before the Iraq war, it was clear that if we were going to do Iraq properly, we would need a minimum commitment of five to 10 years. It was evident from the beginning that the Bush administration wasn’t preparing the American people for that kind of a mission. In fact, it was obvious the Bush people were trying to do Iraq on the cheap. They thought they could get in and out in less than a year.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: Where did this belief come from? Was it naivete, hubris or just plain ignorance?

Fukuyama: A lot of the neo-conservatives drew the wrong lessons from the end of the Cold War and the collapse of communism. They generalized from that event that all totalitarian regimes are basically hollow at the core and if you give them a little push from the outside, they’re going to collapse. Prior to the fall of the Berlin Wall, most people thought that communism would be around for a long time. In fact, it disappeared within seven or eight months in 1989. That skewed the thinking about the nature of dictatorships and neo-conservatives made a wrong analogy between Eastern Europe and what would happen in the Middle East.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: So it was an invasion based on misinformation and misinterpretation?

Fukuyama: Yes.

The more legitimate criticism is that they failed to follow through on leaving that quickly. But he’s certainly right that we almost never follow through and stay for decades once we get the democratization process going–just look at all the Eastern European states that only had their color-coded revolutions over the past couple years or Belarus and Kazakhstan which haven’t quite reached the End of History even now. Iraq doesn’t have to be all that democratic 14 years from now for it to precisely resemble the real Eastern Europe, as opposed to the one of Mr. Fukuyama’s imagination. Just because things are headed our way doesn’t mean they get there overnight.


ENOUGH BREAST-BEATING (via Tom Corcoran):

March 3, 2006

NeoConservatism vs. NeoFukayama (Michael Brandon McClellan, 03 Mar 2006, Tech Central Station)

[F]ukuyama correctly recognizes the imminent danger of any “realism” that allies the United States with forces that are committed to preventing democratization and liberalization in the Arab world. However, he does so in a way that evidences his fealty to the eminently ineffective Woodrow Wilson. Wilson foolishly believed that peace could be promoted and that freedom could be defended in the absence of force. It is worth remembering that his brainchild, the flaccid League of Nations, demonstrated its non-military peacekeeping worth by permitting Mussolini to crush Ethiopia, Hitler to occupy the Rhineland, and Japan to forcibly steal Manchuria. Wilson leads to Munich.

Fukuyama advocates the “demilitarization” of the war on terror, and the augmentation of organizations such as the State Department and multilateral international organizations. Such a sentiment would make Woodrow Wilson proud. However, given the historical record, it is hardly a sufficient prescription. Indeed, it is ominous. A policy that is limited to diplomatic engagement with the very authoritarian beneficiaries of the Middle Eastern status quo cannot reasonably be expected to alter the terror producing status quo.

Let us therefore lay it out clearly — Fukuyama is merely arguing a nuanced liberal internationalism. His conclusion is as follows:

“Neoconservatism, whatever its complex roots, has become indelibly associated with concepts like coercive regime change, unilateralism and American hegemony. What is needed now are new ideas, neither neoconservative nor realist, for how America is to relate to the rest of the world — ideas that retain the neoconservative belief in the universality of human rights, but without its illusions about the efficacy of American power and hegemony to bring these ends about.”

Therein rests the difference between neoconservatism, which is democratic realism, and the Wilsonian idealism of Francis Fukuyama. Both groups believe in the essentiality of promoting freedom as a matter of policy. Only one however, recognizes the vital relationship between the promotion and protection of freedom and the wielding of hard power. As I wrote in TCS back in 2004, those who abide by the law of the jungle will not voluntarily accept the rule of law in the absence of force. Make no mistake about it; American withdrawal would leave the Middle East to the control of thugs and terrorists. While America is powerful, it must strive to change the heretofore disastrous Middle Eastern status quo for the better.

The reality is that the very force of American ideas that neoconservatives don’t much understand, like the fact that men are entitled to be treated with dignity because Created in God’s Image, is sufficient to effect many of the changes in most of the places we’re seeking to liberalize in the Middle East, so major uses of force are not much required, though should never be ruled out. We used force in Afghanistan–though a limited amount–because of the peculiarities of the Taliban’s open relationship with al Qaeda and we used siignificant force in Iraq because we owed Saddam for failing to abide by the UN resolutions that ended the first Iraq War. But places like Morocco, Libya, Lebanon, Palestine, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, etc. are liberalizing without our being required to apply force and aren’t going to be able to stop the forces they’ve set in motion. We may still need to take out Iran’s nuclear program by military means, but the heavy-lifting is more or less done. As Ronald Reagan won more with a rhetorical war–pointing out the truth that Marxism had failed and could never succeed–so too will the rest of this war be won by rhetorical/ideological warfare, which drives home the point that the Middle East will remain backwards until it reforms its societies along the lines of the Anglo-American model.


THE KENNANIZATION OF SAINT FRANCIS:

March 1, 2006

The End of Fukuyama: Why his latest pronouncements miss the mark (Christopher Hitchens, March 1, 2006, Slate)

The three questions that anyone developing second thoughts about the Iraq conflict must answer are these: Was the George H.W. Bush administration right to confirm Saddam Hussein in power after his eviction from Kuwait in 1991? Is it right to say that we had acquired a responsibility for Iraq, given past mistaken interventions and given the great moral question raised by the imposition of sanctions? And is it the case that another confrontation with Saddam was inevitable; those answering “yes” thus being implicitly right in saying that we, not he, should choose the timing of it? Fukuyama does not even mention these considerations. Instead, by his slack use of terms like “magnet,” he concedes to the fanatics and beheaders the claim that they are a response to American blunders and excesses.

That’s why last week was a poor one for him to pick. Surely the huge spasm of Islamist hysteria over caricatures published in Copenhagen shows that there is no possible Western insurance against doing something that will inflame jihadists? The sheer audacity and evil of destroying the shrine of the 12th imam is part of an inter-Muslim civil war that had begun long before the forces of al-Qaida decided to exploit that war and also to export it to non-Muslim soil. Yes, we did indeed underestimate the ferocity and ruthlessness of the jihadists in Iraq. Where, one might inquire, have we not underestimated those forces and their virulence? (We are currently underestimating them in Nigeria, for example, which is plainly next on the Bin Laden hit list and about which I have been boring on ever since Bin Laden was good enough to warn us in the fall of 2004.)

In the face of this global threat and its recent and alarmingly rapid projection onto European and American soil, Fukuyama proposes beefing up “the State Department, U.S.A.I.D., the National Endowment for Democracy and the like.” You might expect a citation from a Pew poll at about this point, and, don’t worry, he doesn’t leave that out, either. But I have to admire that vague and lazy closing phrase “and the like.” Hegel meets Karen Hughes! Perhaps some genius at the CIA is even now preparing to subsidize a new version of Encounter magazine to be circulated among the intellectuals of Kashmir or Kabul or Kazakhstan? Not such a bad idea in itself, perhaps, but no substitute for having a battle-hardened army that has actually learned from fighting in the terrible conditions of rogue-state/failed-state combat. Is anyone so blind as to suppose that we shall not be needing this hard-bought experience in the future?

I have my own criticisms both of my one-time Trotskyist comrades and of my temporary neocon allies, but it can be said of the former that they saw Hitlerism and Stalinism coming—and also saw that the two foes would one day fuse together—and so did what they could to sound the alarm. And it can be said of the latter (which, alas, it can’t be said of the former) that they looked at Milosevic and Saddam and the Taliban and realized that they would have to be confronted sooner rather than later. Fukuyama’s essay betrays a secret academic wish to be living in “normal” times once more, times that will “restore the authority of foreign policy ‘realists’ in the tradition of Henry Kissinger.” Fat chance, Francis!

Mr. Hitchens’ questions here are too particular, especially where Mr. Fukuyama is concerned, his End of History having been a universalist argument:

The twentieth century saw the developed world descend into a paroxysm of ideological violence, as liberalism contended first with the remnants of absolutism, then bolshevism and fascism, and finally an updated Marxism that threatened to lead to the ultimate apocalypse of nuclear war. But the century that began full of self-confidence in the ultimate triumph of Western liberal democracy seems at its close to be returning full circle to where it started: not to an “end of ideology” or a convergence between capitalism and socialism, as earlier predicted, but to an unabashed victory of economic and political liberalism.

The triumph of the West, of the Western idea, is evident first of all in the total exhaustion of viable systematic alternatives to Western liberalism. In the past decade, there have been unmistakable changes in the intellectual climate of the world’s two largest communist countries, and the beginnings of significant reform movements in both. But this phenomenon extends beyond high politics and it can be seen also in the ineluctable spread of consumerist Western culture in such diverse contexts as the peasants’ markets and color television sets now omnipresent throughout China, the cooperative restaurants and clothing stores opened in the past year in Moscow, the Beethoven piped into Japanese department stores, and the rock music enjoyed alike in Prague, Rangoon, and Tehran.

What we may be witnessing is not just the end of the Cold War, or the passing of a particular period of postwar history, but the end of history as such: that is, the end point of mankind’s ideological evolution and the universalization of Western liberal democracy as the final form of human government. This is not to say that there will no longer be events to fill the pages of Foreign Affair’s yearly summaries of international relations, for the victory of liberalism has occurred primarily in the realm of ideas or consciousness and is as yet incomplete in the real or material world. But there are powerful reasons for believing that it is the ideal that will govern the material world in the long run.

Instead, on the basis of his own theory, Mr. Fukyama might ask himself these questions:

(1) Is Islamicism appreciably different than Nazism, communism, socialism, etc. were either in terms of ideological structure or likelihood of succeeding as a political system?

(2) If you somehow arrive at affirmative answers to those two questions, then: is Islamicism likely to defeat “economic and political liberalism” as those others failed to do, or at least to achieve a long term modus vivendi, such that we’ll be forced to recognize Islamicism as a viable alternative to liberal democracy?

(3) If you somehow arrive at an affirmative response there, then the question is: oughtn’t we strangle Islamicism in its crib, as we failed to do to Bolshevism in Russia and Nazism in Germany? If the answer to all these is, more sensibly, in the negative, then: aren’t the current events that cause us all so much consternation, just one more chapter in the completion of the victory of liberalism in the material world, exactly the kind of event Mr. Fukuyama acknowledged would continue to fill the pages of Foreign Affairs (and the NY Times Magazine)?

It’s hardly surprising that folks aren’t enjoying this chapter of the Long War anymore than they did the prior ones, but it is shocking that some are losing confidence in the outcome during what is far and away the easiest and least bloody yet written.


NEVER ASK A NEOCON HOW TO SOLVE A CULTURAL CRISIS (via Pepys):

February 27, 2006


THERE IS ONLY ONE CIVILIZATION AND SEVERAL PRETENDERS (via Mike Daley):

February 26, 2006

The civilisations of the modern world are more likely to collapse than collide (Niall Ferguson, 26/02/2006, Sunday Telegraph)

or all its seductive simplicity, I have never entirely bought the theory that the future will be dominated by the clash of civilisations. For one thing, the term “civilisation” has always struck me as much too woolly. I know what a religion is. I know what an empire is. But, as Henry Kissinger might have said, who do I call when I want to speak to Western Civilisation? Anyone who crosses the Atlantic as often as I do quickly learns how vacuous that phrase has become.

As Robert Kagan said, in another Great American Essay, “Americans are from Mars, Europeans are from Venus” – at least when it comes to the legitimacy of using military force. In a whole range of ways – from the way they worship to the way they work – Americans and Europeans are more than just an ocean apart. As for “Judaeo-Christian” civilisation (a phrase popularised by Bernard Lewis, another prophet of the great clash), I don’t remember that being a terribly harmonious entity in the 1940s.

The really big problem with the theory, however, is right in front of our very noses. Question: Who has killed the most Muslims in the past 12 months? The answer is, of course, other Muslims. [...]

Now Huntington is too clever a man not to hedge his bets. “This article does not argue,” he wrote back in 1993, “that groups within a civilisation will not conflict with and even fight one another.” But he went on to reassert that “conflicts between groups in different civilisations will be more frequent, more sustained and more violent than conflicts between groups in the same civilisation.”

Sorry, wrong. It is well known that the overwhelming majority of conflicts since the end of the Cold War have been civil wars. The interesting thing is that only a minority of them have conformed to Huntington’s model of inter-civilisation wars. More often than not, the wars of the New World Disorder have been fought between ethnic groups within one of Huntington’s civilisations.

To be precise: Of 30 major armed conflicts that are either still going on or have recently ended, only 10 or 11 can be regarded as being in any sense between civilisations, in the sense that one side was predominantly Muslim and the other non-Muslim. But 14 were essentially ethnic conflicts, the worst being the wars that continue to bedevil Central Africa. Moreover, many of those conflicts that have a religious dimension are also ethnic conflicts; religious affiliation has more to do with the localised success of missionaries in the past than with long-standing membership of a Christian or Muslim civilisation. [...]

The future therefore looks more likely to bring multiple local wars – most of them ethnic conflicts in Africa, South Asia and the Middle East – than a global collision of value-systems. Indeed, my prediction would be that precisely these centrifugal tendencies, most clearly apparent in Iraq today, will increasingly tear apart the very civilisations identified by Samuel Huntington.

In short, for “the clash of civilisations”, read “the crash of civilisations”.

The fundamental problem with the clash of civilizations theory is that it’s an outgrowth of multiculturalism, whereas the End of History, though Mr. Fukuyama never grasped the fact, is essentially Evangelical. China and the Middle East are going to evolve into liberal democracies because they have no other choice. You just can’t build a decent society and a functional state/economy on Confucianism or Islamicism.


ADD A KING AND YOU'RE DONE:

January 30, 2006

The Surprise of History (Lee Harris, 30 Jan 2006, Tech Central Station)

[H]egel is arguing that as long as America still had a virtually unlimited frontier it would remain a land of opportunity, a place where those who were not content with their lot in life could simply pick up and move on to virgin soil, creating for themselves a new life that was almost entirely of their own making — which, of course, is exactly what many Americans were doing when Hegel wrote his lecture, and would continue to do for a long time after his death.

Because America had this convenient remedy for those who were dissatisfied with the status quo, there was no danger that those who were deeply dissatisfied with their position in the world would pose a political threat to the stability of the social order. Instead of rebelling against the status quo, they simply left it behind and went in search of a better life for themselves in the frontier — potential rebels became pioneers. “If the ancient forests of Germany still existed, the French Revolution would never have occurred. North America will be comparable with Europe only after the measureless space which this country affords is filled and its civil society begins to press in on itself.”

Hegel’s conclusion? “It is therefore not yet possible to draw any lessons from America as regards republican constitutions.”

It is hard to imagine a more sober statement than this, and one less full of moonshine and nonsense. Here Hegel is telling those who have made up their minds about the significance of the United States not to jump the gun — it is too early to say how its historical course will develop. It may be that America will prove that large scale republics are possible; but, on the other hand, it may not prove this at all. Only the future can decide this question.

In other words, not only does Hegel refrain from trying to predict the future himself, but he discourages it in others. Not only does he refuse to give “absolute answers” on the question of where history is headed, he rejects even tentative ones. In fact, all he is prepared to say is that a society that has a vast frontier available to it can afford a more libertarian and less centralized form of government than one that lacks such a frontier.

Curiously enough, those who are familiar with the American historian Frederick Jackson Turner’s famous Frontier Thesis will see that Hegel anticipated the basic logic of this thesis sixty years before Turner announced it. What might well have surprised Hegel is how short a time it would take to declare the American frontier closed.

Yet Hegel was quite prepared for history to surprise him. Unlike Marx, who did believe that history obeyed iron-clad laws similar to those scientific laws that governed the behavior of physical objects, Hegel recognized that the existence of human freedom, and the role of accident and chance, rendered all attempts to predict the future course of history futile and even dangerous. Again, unlike Marx who did believe that history would have an end, Hegel emphatically rejected such a notion. There would always be something to divide human beings, and hence there would always be a struggle between them, and out of this struggle would arise the phenomenon known as history.

The normally reliable Mr. Harris seems not to have taken Mr. Fukuyama’s point here. The argument is not that history will cease happening because it has reached its end–an obvious absurdity–but that in liberal democracy mankind has reached an End of History in the sense that the millennia long argument over what kind of state and society is the best has been decided dispositively in favor of liberal democracy:

The distant origins of the present volume lie in an article entitled “The End of History?” which I wrote for the journal The National Interest in the summer of 1989. In it, I argued that a remarkable consensus concerning the legitimacy of liberal democracy as a system of government had emerged throughout the world over the past few years, as it conquered rival ideologies like hereditary monarchy, fascism, and most recently communism. More than that, however, I argued that liberal democracy may constitute the “end point of mankind’s ideological evolution” and the “final form of human government,” and as such constituted the “end of history.” That is, while earlier forms of government were characterised by grave defects and irrationalities that led to their eventual collapse, liberal democracy was arguably free from such fundamental internal contradictions. This was not to say that today’s stable democracies, like the United States, France, or Switzerland, were not without injustice or serious social problems. But these problems were ones of incomplete implementation of the twin principles of liberty and equality on which modern democracy is founded, rather than of flaws in the principles themselves. While some present-day countries might fail to achieve stable liberal democracy, and others might lapse back into other, more primitive forms of rule like theocracy or military dictatorship, the ideal of liberal democracy could not be improved on.

The more accurate argument against Mr. Fukuyama is that, like almost all neocons, he’s failed to understand the centrality of religion to human affairs and, therefore, not understood that for most countries the End will indeed be their end. That sad fact leaves plenty of tragic history to be played out, but can’t change the fundamental point that the Anglo-American Judeo-Christian Republic can not be too much improved upon.


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