Friday, February 24, 2006

Fukuyama's Conclusions: A Response

As requested, here are my thoughts regarding Fukuyama’s essay from his upcoming book America at the Crossroads. As I already stated in class, I don’t have any major problems with his arguments throughout the body of his essay, besides the fact that I disagree with his opening statement that US efforts in Iraq will ultimately be viewed negatively by history. As to the successes or failures in Iraq following the ousting of Saddam, well, that is the topic of perhaps another blog entry. But in regards to my response to Fukuyama’s essay, my main objections stem from his conclusions/solutions. First, what strikes me is his continued adherence to the goals of neoconservatism stating something to the affect that it would be a tragedy for the US if it dropped the spread of democracy from its foreign policy agenda. Indeed, in an attempt to revise his previous positions, Fukuyama has chosen to retain neoconservative goals but taken out of the equation the very factor that would enable neoconservatism, and any viable strategies that would result from its attempted implementation, to succeed. If one believes, as I do, that neoconservatism is currently the driving force behind US Grand Strategy in fighting the war on terror, then essentially he suggests that the US make its military a supporting effort in its strategy in fighting this war. This is ridiculous in a post-9/11 world. And what’s even more ridiculous is what he recommends to assume the main effort role in the military’s place-international institutions! What??!! Doesn’t he himself admit in his essay that these institutions are woefully inadequate (in their present state) to deal with the types of threats the US currently faces? I quote from his essay: “The world today lacks effective international institutions that can confer legitimacy on collective action.” He goes on further in the essay to sum-up the traditional conservative critique of these international organizations (to which he has no rebuke) stating of these institutions: “while useful for certain peacekeeping and nation-building operations, the United Nations lacks both the democratic legitimacy and effectiveness in dealing with serious security issues.” No kidding. I won’t even try to put it better myself.

Removing the military as our main effort in fighting the war on terror is also a fundamental shift in the United State’s view of the enemy which it is fighting. To not engage the enemy with arms is to suggest that these people can in fact be “managed.” Sorry. I disagree. As I have stated before in class, there is a short term and long term strategy in the war on terror. The short term calls for decisive military action to deal with an enemy that will not come to the negotiating table; an enemy that will again launch vicious attacks against the US if allowed to. It is also not to recognize that we are fighting an enemy that espouses a competing political ideology at extreme odds with liberal democracy. This ideology takes many forms—whether it be based on the Iranian model, Taliban model, or, as al-Zawahiri has alluded to, the establishment of an international caliphate. One ideology must be combated with another. Hence, enter the long term strategy. This is where neoconservatism comes into play. Which ideology would you prefer to be promulgated throughout the world? And I know what you are saying to yourself right now: “Yes, but why should we do it with the military?” To this I will answer, we don’t have time in the post 9/11 world to do it any other way. America always seems to train for the last war it fought. It is then taken off-guard when a new type arises. This war on terror is completely new, but make no mistake about it-it is a war and we must understand it as such. The battlefield is abroad and at home and the enemy must be fought at many different levels and on many different fronts---and it must be fought NOW, not later when international institutions and the international community in general decides its finally ready to confront it. Fukuyama’s insistence that the US should redirect efforts away from military operations to the restructuring of international institutions in order to enable them to achieve what are essentially neoconservative goals is naïve and dangerous. Don’t give those in the enemy camp that much credit. They are not interested in dealing with international institutions except, perhaps, for purposes of manipulation. Restructuring of international institutions should be a long term goal. But does anyone truly believe they will ever be able to operate efficiently enough to conduct the type of war that the US and its allies are currently engaged in? Give me a break.

As I stated in class, I’m not an ideologue. I don’t subscribe blindly to neoconservatism because I voted for President Bush or fought in the Iraq war. I subscribe to it because it is an idea that drives a strategy I believe will keep Americans safe while bringing better things, in the long run, to the rest of the world. If there is a better way of doing this, I’m all ears. But the alternatives I’ve heard all pretty much sound the same. They are relatively void of any truly new objectives combined with a softer approach to achieving these goals. This doesn’t cut it in today’s security environment. We must be activist and we must remain sure about the attractiveness of our freedoms and liberties....yes, sure enough to bet that in this shaky world if a dangerous regime that threatens the US, its neighbors, and its own people is toppled militarily we have the ability and courage to see the project through to a successful completion. I for one will never lose faith in either our military's or our nation's ability to do this. Why? Because, again as I have argued against some in class, I believe that the "values" the US and the West embrace truly are universal. Fukuyama apparently lost the conviction of his prior beliefs because things, from his perspective, haven't gone as perfectly as planned. Well, hate to say it, but things rarely ever do...especially in a place as historically volatile as the Middle East. But this doesn't mean we have failed, not by a long shot. In fact, I would argue just the opposite. But as I said at the beginning, that's for another discussion. Fukuyama's position also exemplifies the lack of creativity from those who oppose neoconservatism in establishing alternate strategies. Everybody loves to criticize neoconservatism, but once again, no one has managed to come up with a viable alternative strategy that meets today’s threats at the many different levels at which they must be met.

29 comments:

Gordon Shumway said...
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Gordon Shumway said...

The enforcer does a good job in pointing out a discrepancy in Fukuyama’s argument about the international institutions. I agree that international institutions cannot do much currently to control terrorism. At the same time I do not think that any institution can control terrorism, other then terrorism itself (if you want to consider it an institution).

The enforcer states that the war on terror is completely new. I disagree. The war on terror, if indeed you can call it a war, is not a new phenomenon. The reason why I question if it is a war is because, as Dr. Farley pointed out, labeling it a war gives it a finite value. It makes people feel that sooner or later it is going to end. This is an illusion. Terrorism has been around for ages (can be traced back thousands of year) and will continue as a threat all around the world from liberal western countries like the US, to countries like Sri Lanka with its internal terrorist problems. The best we can do is try to minimize its threat, but we cannot completely eradicate terrorism, just as we cannot eradicate crime.

Which brings us to the next point - long term strategy. According to the enforcer, our long term strategy should be promotion of democracy by the military means. I disagree with this as a viable option. Just as you cannot force a country like Kenya to prematurely liberalize its financial markets (as IMF was doing with its market fundamentalism – it had disastrous effects on the country as 14 banks went under within a year because the infrastructure was not ready), in the same manner, you cannot force a democracy onto a country and simply expect it to work. The want for the democracy has to come from within the country and the country has to be ready to take on democracy. This is where we get into the discussion of how important is the spread of democracy to the security of the US. Should we support the spread of democracy at any cost and risk such outcomes as Hamas winning the elections, or should we settle for a not-so-democratic regime, but which poses less threat to the security of the US? It is a question open for debate and warrants for another post.

MacGyver said...

I agree that in the "war on terror" there are short and long term measures that have to be taken. I don't disagree with what you propose on the short term side, but I do disagree on the long term. War is, and always will be, a short term solution to security threats. Institution building/development (Ex: Iraqi ministries, roads, electrical capacity, clean running water, private property rights, fair justice system, etc.) are the only cures for the long term. Smart WW2 planners learned their lessons after that war and didn't repeat the same mistakes they made after WW1. Hence, after WW2 there was no War Guilt Clause or reperations, just the Marshall Plan, NATO, and Bretton-Woods. Neoconservatism, at least in present form, does not address accuretly, how to wage the war on terror in the long term. Case in point: no postwar planning, not addressing looting problem, etc.
I don't believe that Neoconservatism makes America safer. I don't feel safer because of the war in Iraq, in fact I feel less safe. Al Qaeda has regrouped and now are gaining vital experience in Iraq. A new generation of terrorists have been harvested. According to terrorism experts like Peter Berger, Al Qaeda was on the ropes at the end of the Afghan campaign, both manpower wise and international support wise. We squander an opportunity to end them.
Lastly, I don't agree with the neocon philosphy because I don't believe that inherently America is a "shining city on a hill." We're human, that's all. Sure, there are a lot of great things about us, but one has to be infallible to put neoconservatism into practice, alas we're not. Lexington's column in this week's issue of The Economist does a great job elaborating my point.
So, I'll make a counter-proposal to the neocon position in the sake of an alternative strategy. Call it the MacGyver Doctrine Version 2.0. Here it is: at the end of the day this doctrine will work towards fewer people in the world that hate the U.S. What will do that? A combination of police action, development, investment in infrastructure, and war when an attack is preeminent. These actions will do more to win over the future generations of potential terrorists than a movement that disguises itself as benevolent when its actions are the opposite.

MacGyver said...

Sorry, my spelling is atricious.

MacGyver said...

get it? atricious?

The Enforcer said...

I appreciate Gordon's and McGyver's comments.

Gordon has two objections. First, he seems to want to get into an argument about semantics. I certainly agree that the "war on terror" is not an appropriate name for the conflict the US currently finds itself in. But regardless of the name, and regardless of what Dr. Farley says or does not say, this is a war. There is an enemy that is intent on launching deadly attacks on the US and that purports as its objectives a competing ideology. The enemies can be defeated through force of arms and the ideology can be discredited. Sounds like a "finite value" to me.

As to Gordon's second argument, that democracy cannot be "imposed" on nations' that do not cultivate it themselves, it is based on the flawed assumption that the governments currently in place do indeed already represent the consensus view of their people and evoke a legitimacy derived from their own unique cultural and historical experiences. I would agree that these governments certainly do ultimately spring from a nation's history. But are these current governments a direct result of a unique cultural experience? No way. I would argue that if the historical record was examined, it could be demonstrated that representative government was present in most societies at some level at one time or another. I will cite two relevant examples. First, Russia was brought up in our last class. Contrary to most of Russia's autocratic and dictatorial political history, it has been widely recognized by historians as having been one of the first European countries to establish a form of democracy. Anyone ever heard of the Princes of Novgorod from the 8th-9th centuries? They actually weren't princes at all but elected rulers who could be and were removed periodically by local elites. Two other examples in Russian history, this time regarding liberal democracy, can be cited from the Decembrist movement of 1825 (the very first open challenge to Tsarist authority) and the Provisional Government of 1917. I would argue that both of these movements failed due to more radical or authoritarian elements operating in society that could have been overpowered by outside support at one or more levels. Regardless, to state that democracy and liberalism are an anathema to Russian culture and society is to ignore the historical record.

My second example is the Middle East. To this I will defer to THE expert on Middle Eastern history and culture- Dr. Bernard Lewis. He wrote a brilliant article in the May/June 2005 edition of Foreign Affairs entitled "On Freedom in the Middle East." In it he does an excellent job of detailing the history of the current political movements and regimes in the region. Skipping these details (you can read the article yourself), he concludes that "freedom" and the institutions that purport it are not just culturally and historically compatible with the Middle East, they are actually the forms of government most natural to the Middle Eastern experience. Many of the current regimes in power, that have been mistaken by my classmates as the natural political heirs to these Middle Eastern experiences, are the direct result of foreign intervention and arrogance. The Arab monarchies in the tradition of the British and the Ba'athist regimes whose founding leaders had close ties with Nazi Germany are two examples of this. Bernard Lewis is pretty hard to argue with. If representative government takes holds in the region, the only people imposing anything on a society will be the members of that society themselves. How much more natural can this be to ANY culture? Again, many have debated in class, including McGyver and Gordon in their responses, that democracy is somehow a Western invention. We may have developed the concept more fully, but based on the evidence I have just cited, I don't buy that it’s absent in other cultures one bit. Just the opposite, the universality of representative government is evident in the history of many cultures throughout the world. Therefore, this argument that democracy is incompatible with one country or another is shallow and not based on a full evaluation of a nation’s history.

As for Mcgyver's comments, I have already in the above paragraphs answered his remarks about American arrogance and so-called "benevolence." But again, the US doesn't claim international perfection. The Soviet Union certainly did, though, in the ideology that it espoused, which is why dissent and debate were routinely suppressed. On the contrary, democracies and free societies openly recognize the fact that humans are anything but perfect. Hence, they make room for debate and peaceful changes of government which is the very reason why they are suited for a variety of regions. And I'm sorry you don't feel safe. My question to you then, “is there ever a time that you should have?” You sound incredibly naïve. The world is a dangerous place, and the Middle East even more so which is why we have a heavy footprint in the post-9/11 world in that area. Are you under the illusion that the Middle East was somehow a haven of serenity prior to the US invasion of Iraq? Are you somehow under the impression that the Arabs and Muslims had an overwhelmingly positive opinion of the US prior to Iraq? Does 9/11, Khobar Towers, USS Cole, first World Trade Center bombing ring a bell? How could you possibly have felt safe in this pre-9/11 world? Your McGyver 2.0 strategy is telling of your naivety concerning the international security environment. Police-action and institution building are crucial elements to fighting this war (and yes, again, it IS a war). But their promotion to status as "main effort" is a weak response to a dangerous opponent. I think in my original post I've already effectively dismantled Fukuyama's alternatives, and any suggestions that resemble it such as your own.

Gordon Shumway said...

This may be a bit disorganized, but I think the points get across fairly clear. To respond to the enforcer’s claim on the finite value of the “war on terror”…of course it sounds like a finite value when you say that the enemy can be defeated. But can it though? Are you suggesting that we can completely eradicate terrorism? If so then that my friend is naïve. If not, then we are back to the notion that we can only try to minimize its threat, not completely stamp out terrorism.

As to the rest of the enforcer’s argument…basically you are saying that we have to go out into the world and impose a particular type of rule or governance on a country. This sounds an awful lot like the Russia you speak of which imposed its rule and controlled/suppressed the opposition. Speaking of naivety, do you expect that going around the world telling people how to run their countries (and I’m not talking about their current governments, but even the general population) – especially by the use of force - will somehow magically convince these countries that we are their friends, and have their best interest in mind (regardless of whether that’s true or not)? Do you think that’s going to ensure their alliance with us? C’mon. It is more likely that such actions will push one country or another further away from us, not bridge the gap. Nobody likes an “outsider” trying to run their country or telling them how to do it. They’ll say, “Yeah, it’s great that you helped us get rid of our dictator, but now let US decide how we want to run our country instead of 'telling' us that a liberal democracy is what we need.”

I’m not arguing that certain democratic values don’t exist in numerous countries around the world, or that there is no empirical evidence that points to signs of democracy – although your example of the Princes of Novgorod is a weak one, because as you say yourself they were controlled by the elite, not the popular demand – however, that is hardly enough to conclude that WE should be “the deliverer” of the missing pieces of the democracy puzzle (especially not with guns in our hands).

The Enforcer said...
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The Enforcer said...
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The Enforcer said...
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The Enforcer said...

Yes, Gordon, your thoughts are a bit disorganized, as are your opinions. And as for evidence in my arguments, at least I offer some. The "Princes of Novgorod" lesson (along with the other examples I cited that you conveniently failed to mention) was intended to prove my point that there are many political traditions and experiences present in cultures and to contradict the claim by many in the class that democracy is solely a Western invention. I realize that the Princes were elected by the elite. You probably would have never known this if I hadn't pointed it out myself. But once again, the point is to demonstrate the many forms of political traditions found in any one nation's history.

As to the rest of your "arguments," apparently you didn't take note of the fact that I agreed with you that the name "war on terror" is not a good one. No, I don't believe that you can eradicate terrorism completely. I believe strongly, however, that it can be marginalized. There will always be groups that feel it is in their interest to pursue political goals through such means. But, any of these groups can eventually be defeated through the spread of a viable ideology that espouses freedom and liberty, an ideology that is, in most cases, directly opposed to what "terrorists" themselves espouse. Hence, in regards to Political Islam (our main opponent) this war is certainly finite. As I stated in the original post, one ideology must be confronted with an opposing one.

As to the means of spreading this ideology, there are many different ways of doing this. In the post-9/11 world I have argued, and I believe convincingly, that the military is a very viable-indeed the best-option for dealing with this issue. I realize this is the most controversial aspect of my argument. This is understandable. It all comes down, in my mind, to how one views the international security situation in a post-9/11 world. Mine is based on first-hand experience. Where is yours based? As for the comment regarding Russia, this comparison is so utterly ridiculous I will not even waste time responding to it. If someone would like to point out the obvious differences in my place, I would appreciate the support (although I realize my list of allies is short, if perhaps nonexistent).

And as to my recommended course of action's eventual results, I think you said it best yourself in your last comment. I quote you,

"Nobody likes an “outsider” trying to run their country or telling them how to do it. They’ll say, “Yeah, it’s great that you helped us get rid of our dictator, but now let US decide how we want to run our country..."

Exactly. That's the point of democracy. I rest my case and have no more to say on this issue.

MacGyver said...

For starters: "My question to you then, 'is there ever a time that you should have?' You sound incredibly naïve"

No, I always knew that terrorism was a potential threat and always will be, but after Iraq that threat has only been amplified. I'm anything but naive, I'm just a realist who looks at the cold numbers and sees that after Iraq moderate Muslims who were sitting on the fence would like to see America burn. Whereas before it was only the extremists out on the fringes. Were there best-selling Turkish films depicting American cruelty in Iraq before this past war? No, that society seems to have gotten off the fence.

But back to the broader point about the neocons, spreading freedom will not be the be-all, end-all to ending terrorism. This pancea is simplistic and weak when held under vigourous "cross-examination." Democracy is in Palestine, has extremism ended there? If neocons real goal in life is to spread freedom, then why aren't we in Belarus, Cuba, Zimbabwe, Myanmar, North Korea, Iran, or our "allies" in Jordan, Pakistan, Tunisia, and Saudi Arabia? Again, they say they're looking to spread liberty but lets see if they ever want to invade resource-poor Zimbabwe, or regional ally Saudi Arabia. Seems they only promote the cause of freedom when convenvient.

Freedom will not end extremism. That is naive. A thriving middle class will. Hence India, with the second largest Muslim population in the word, is peaceful. A Global Pew Research Poll reported last year that 71% of Indians had a favorable view of Americans. Let me reinterate-India, with the second largest Muslim population in the world, had the second highest rating of any nationality in the world for the US after Americans themselves who were at 83%. Again, lets concentrate on building a middle class.

Lastly, T.E., I'm sorry that you didn't appreciate my quickly-thrown together military doctrine. I thought it was kind of funny and had fewer holes than anything Rumsfield has ever done.

MacGyver said...

Also, I meant to throw this in: How did the British deal with the Malay asymetric warfare? It wasn't just through combat. It seems that they also spent most of their time building infrastructure.

Lastly: "It all comes down, in my mind, to how one views the international security situation in a post-9/11 world. Mine is based on first-hand experience. Where is yours based?"

Be very careful before you make bombastic statements like these. There are some people in this program who know quite a few things from personal experience about war, poverty, and combat.

Jesco said...

Just a little bit of support that moderate Muslims may support democracy, but they want us out as soon as possible: in today's NYtimes article, it says that al-Sadr is calling for unity between Shiites and Sunnis, in the form of a peaceful representative government, while "demanding a timetable for withdrawal of US forces." He is vocally blaming the US for the violence that just broke out.

If, in the eyes of Muslim leaders like al-Sadr-who have great influence over the people- our military presence in the name of democracy is equated with violence, rather than assistance forming a government, doesn't that defeat the purpose? I agree with macgyver that this has pushed possible moderates over the edge, as anti-Americanism has been enflamed even in non-Muslim countries by our perceived disregard for the sovereignty of other states. I don't think it matters what we say or how we frame it, what matters is how our opponent interprets the signals we send.

macgyver said...

Al-Sadr is a moderate?

The Enforcer said...

I stated VERY early this morning that my case regarding neoconservatism is closed. It remains so :) However, I was accused by Macgyver of being "bombastic" in one of questions and I thought this merited a short response.

I realize that there are many people in our class who bring to the table a wide-array of experiences. Abby has spent a good amount of time in South America, Vlad has lived in both Russia and Israel, Marie has lived and taught in France, Ryan is on his way to Central America over spring break, and there is at least one other member of the armed forces that I know of.

One's experiences should and do greatly affect one's opinions on world events. Hence, my question to Gordon was a legitimate one. I was accused by Gordon of being naive. This accusation cannot go unanswered nor can it fail to be followed up by a reciprocal question regarding the accuser's own experiences that effect his views. This is all I was doing. Relax.

In an effort to bring some civility back to this debate, both Gordon and Macgyver had good comments and legitimate points. I'm glad my blog has contributed in such a large way to the class debate on this topic.

I remain, as always, the loyal opposition to Dr. Farley's class regarding this topic. If any of my comments were ever perceived as anything other than, in the words of Steve Martin in his latest film "The Pink Panther," a bit of fun "verbal jousting" (ridiculous French accent omitted) I apologize.

Sincerely yours,
T.E.

Robert Farley said...

Enforcer,

You didn't just refer to an elite agreement between established, hereditary nobles who essentially enslaved a vast peasantry democracy, did you?

Please tell me you didn't just do that....

Let's be as frank as possible; the insitutions of elective monarchy have virtually nothing to do with liberal democracy as conceived in the modern sense. They are founded on no concept of egalitarianism or of human rights. To invoke Russian elective monarchy as an historical example of the democratic form truly goes beyond the pale. This is equally true of the various other elective monarchy formulas in Europe during and after the medieval period.

It would be better, perhaps, to invoke Athenian democracy or the Roman Republic, even though those two also fall far, far short of any modern concept of democracy. Nevertheless, the argument that democracy is some sort of "natural" form of government really does run up against the rocks of history; if it is natural, why is it so rare?

Robert Farley said...

Regarding Bernard Lewis and his discussion of the Middle East, it is quite right to recognize that the current regimes ruling the Middle East were installed by Western, democratic powers such as France and the United Kingdom. However, and perhaps I am simply ignorant on this question, I know of no predecessor regimes that maintained any of the institutions of liberal democracy, including egalitarian voting standards and an appreciation of basic rights.

What the Lewis argument evokes most clearly is the notion that there is no given form of government that is natural on unnatural to a particular people or region. Governments are dependent on institution building.

Robert Farley said...

"I would argue that if the historical record was examined, it could be demonstrated that representative government was present in most societies at some level at one time or another."

Setting aside the violence done to the history by the "Princes of Novgorod" comment, this doesn't fly even on its own merits. Were we to accept that the above statement is true (and there are some examples in some areas), it would say nothing about whether representative forms of governments are natural or no. If representative forms are simply one type that exist among a multiplicity of other forms, then it would be clearly wrong to treat them as some sort of "default" type that human societies revert to upon the collapse of tyrannical institutions. There would be no more reason to assume that tyranny on the scale of Ivan the Terrible was somehow "natural" than there would be to assume that elective democracy was natural.

Robert Farley said...

To follow up once more on the Princes of Novgorod point, consider how violently the Princes would likely have reacted to an attempt to install the kind of democracy and institutions that the United States is currently attempting to establish in Iraq; one person one vote, secure private property for everyone, religious tolerance, a set of individual rights protected from the state, a representative legislature with checks on executive power, and an independent legal system. Indeed, I doubt very much that the Prince of Novgorod would be notably different in their response to reforms of this sort than would Ivan the Terrible.

My point here is that people should resist this kind of facile analogy. I think liberal democracy is great, but you have to recognize that it exists as a set of institutions that take time and effort to develop. To treat it as a default state, or as one with plentiful historical forerunners, is to brutally misuse the historical record.

Robert Farley said...

And as a final final point, Bernard Lewis' status as THE expert on Middle Eastern history is in deep, deep question. Neocons love him, it is true, because he says things that they like. Scholars from other political viewpoints like some aspects of his work, but also argue that his body of research as a whole is deeply flawed. As such, it can't be plausibly argued that Lewis' work represents the scholarly consensus on questions of contemporary Middle East history.

Robert Farley said...

And as a final, final, final point, let me wonder aloud as to the basic connection neocons make between democracy and the collapse of terrorism. Democracies do sprout terrorist movements; this is the case in the United States, with left wing terrorism in the 1960s, right wing terrorism in the 1990s, and a history of terrorism in the South since the end of the Civil War. Ireland, a democracy since 1920, has managed to produce a robust terrorist movement. The same could be said of ETA terrorists in Spain and various left wing terrorist organizations in France, Germany, and Italy during the Cold War.

Liberal democracy is great, but I think it's premature to identify liberal democracy with the end of terror.

The Enforcer said...

Apparently Dr. Farley felt compelled to respond to an argument that was made, primarily on my part, to answer a very narrow debate that had been initiated by my classmates. That debate being that there is a "specific" form of government that is somehow unique to a particular culture. And as Dr. Farley so eloquently pointed out, this is not the case. Thank you, Sir, for proving my points even better than I apparently did so myself. I take it as a great compliment that the professor felt he had to get involved in this debate in an attempt to salvage it from becoming victim to a neoconservative victory :)

As for the now infamous Princes of Novgorod, explain it away however you wish. They were not unaccountable autocrats, and they were not communists--both of the so-called "historical" political experiences inherent in Russian political culture. Why does everyone keep harping on these poor Princes anyways? I did cite other examples in Russian history you know :) And I could cite more, but its pointless....

As I have closed the debate for my part on Neoconservatism, I now close the debate on this issue. This is not due to my lack of interest in the topic. I have two hefty midterms I must get busy on...and of course reading for Thursday's class so that I can prepare myself for the inevitable lively debates I know will come :)

The Enforcer said...

One more final, final, final, final, final thing. Dr. Farley writes:

And as a final final point, Bernard Lewis' status as THE expert on Middle Eastern history is in deep, deep question. Neocons love him, it is true, because he says things that they like.

Oh..you mean Neoconservatives like Dr. Stempel???

Robert Farley said...

Heh.

I have no idea about Dr. Stempel's attitude regarding Bernard Lewis. I have some sense (although a far from complete one) about the general academic appraisal of his work.

But, to return a bit to the Prince's of Novgorod point (and this must now be the longest discussion of the Princes on record in a blog), it's not quite enough for neoconservatives to say that a multiplicity of institutions have existed, and thus might exist in the future. I take this as self-evidently true, and would never argue that Middle Eastern culture somehow PREVENTS liberal democracy from taking root.

However, this isn't the point; if the Soviet Union had successfully invaded the United States with the purpose of replacing the US government with an authoritarian Communist dictatorship, I would expect that the process would take a very long time, would be very bloody and expensive, and might meet with only limited success even given a long term commitment. Replacing and recreating institutions, especially in areas that have no recent experience of such institutions, is dreadfully difficult work at best. This is the heart of Fukuyama's critique of the neocons; at least some of them believed that the simple removal of Saddam Hussein would be enough to bring about democracy in Iraq.

Now, there are now and there probably were then neocons who realized the extent of the task in Iraq. But this produces obvious questions regarding the willingness and ability of the United States to pay the long term costs necessary to supporting a neocon foreign policy.

Cavour said...

Just out of curiousity, am I the only one who had to look up the Princes of Novgorod on Wiki? Because I'd never heard of them before today.

Gordon Shumway said...

Dear T.E.

I would like to clean up some of the things that may have been misconstrued.

Of course I’m not comparing the US with the oppressive Russia, I was merely drawing a parallel between them on imposing a particular type of rule.

No enforcer. I did not omit to see that you disagree with the name “war on terror,” but I could’ve also sworn you said “the enemies can be defeated through the force of arms” and “sounds like a ‘finite value’ to me” which implies that we can wipe out terrorism…now you recant your initial statement and say we can only marginalize it.

If you’re going to quote my last statement then try not to leave out important parts as the last portion of that sentence (“…instead of telling us that liberal democracy is what we need”). What makes you so sure that liberal democracy as we know it will be the chosen type of government to sprout from a foreign invasion? I think Dr. Farley makes most of the points about democracy in different regions clear without any need to repeat them.

Finally, to answer your question about my experience. I don’t think there’s much point in trying to keep my identity hidden, and you obviously did not do your research on all your classmates. I lived through four years of a brutal war myself. So, my personal experience does shape a lot of what I say and is very relevant and valid.

Now, in closing, the enforcer makes some very good point and I completely agree that this should not be taken as anything else other then some “verbal jousting.”

Sincerely,

Gordon Shumway

Anonymous said...

Here is Hitch's response to Fukuyama:

http://www.slate.com/id/2137134/

The Enforcer said...

Another response to Fukuyama's essay. Check out our old friend William Kristol's article. If the link I provide does not work, go directly to The Weekly Standard website. Name of the article is "The Long War." Cheers to all. Off to take on an Econ Statecraft test now..fun, fun.

http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/011/909rqgza.asp