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.

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