SEE NO EVIL, SPEAK NO EVIL, HEAR EVIL:

March 27, 2006

Musical brings Korean horrors home (Charles Scanlon, 3/27/06, BBC)

It is probably the least cheerful musical since Les Miserables – a three-hour song and dance extravaganza set in one of North Korea’s notorious labour camps.

Yoduk Story opens with goose-stepping communist soldiers and rousing revolutionary arias. Before long the action shifts to the hell of Yoduk – a North Korean prison camp that is believed to hold 20,000 political prisoners and their families.

It is the harrowing story of a celebrated state actress, who is sent to the camp with the rest of her family after her father is arrested as a spy – common practice in the North, where families down to the third generation are held accountable for the crimes of relatives. […]

South Korean officials says privately that the North is holding some 200,000 political prisoners – but they argue that engagement rather than direct confrontation is the best way to bring about change.

Almost the entire musical is set at the Yoduk camp – it is portrayed as a nightmare world of public executions, rape and starvation.

The heroine is raped by the camp commander and bears him a child – but later survives to forgive him.

The theme may be too dark for some, especially younger South Koreans, many of whom find it hard to conceive of the horrors taking place just across the border.

“I’d heard of the camps but never took much interest. Seeing it has really shocked me – it’s helped me to care more about what’s happening,” said Park Bang-hee, a student in her 20s, after the curtain went down.

The production can count on the enthusiasm of conservative and Christian groups – and is likely to spur debate on North Korean human rights, which have been overlooked in the rush to reconciliation.

Yes, who else cares about human rights these days but conservatives and Christians?


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?


SEN'S COMMON SENSE (via Tom Corcoran):

March 25, 2006

Democracy Isn’t ‘Western’: Cultural determinists should look beyond Ancient Greece. (AMARTYA SEN, March 24, 2006, Opinion Journal)

The belief in the allegedly “Western” nature of democracy is often linked to the early practice of voting and elections in Greece, especially in Athens. Democracy involves more than balloting, but even in the history of voting there would be a classificatory arbitrariness in defining civilizations in largely racial terms. In this way of looking at civilizational categories, no great difficulty is seen in considering the descendants of, say, Goths and Visigoths as proper inheritors of the Greek tradition (“they are all Europeans,” we are told). But there is reluctance in taking note of the Greek intellectual links with other civilizations to the east or south of Greece, despite the greater interest that the Greeks themselves showed in talking to Iranians, or Indians, or Egyptians (rather than in chatting up the Ostrogoths).

Since traditions of public reasoning can be found in nearly all countries, modern democracy can build on the dialogic part of the common human inheritance. In his autobiography, Nelson Mandela describes how influenced he was, as a boy, by seeing the democratic nature of the proceedings of the meetings that were held in his home town: “Everyone who wanted to speak did so. It was democracy in its purest form. There may have been a hierarchy of importance among the speakers, but everyone was heard, chief and subject, warrior and medicine man, shopkeeper and farmer, landowner and laborer.” Mr. Mandela could combine his modern ideas about democracy with emphasizing the supportive part of the native tradition, in a way that Gandhi had done in India, and that is the way cultures adapt and develop to respond to modernity. Mr. Mandela’s quest for democracy and freedom did not emerge from any Western “imposition.”

Similarly, the history of Muslims includes a variety of traditions, not all of which are just religious or “Islamic” in any obvious sense. The work of Arab and Iranian mathematicians, from the eighth century onward reflects a largely nonreligious tradition. Depending on politics, which varied between one Muslim ruler and another, there is also quite a history of tolerance and of public discussion, on which the pursuit of a modern democracy can draw. For example, the emperor Saladin, who fought valiantly for Islam in the Crusades in the 12th century, could offer, without any contradiction, an honored place in his Egyptian royal court to Maimonides, as that distinguished Jewish philosopher fled an intolerant Europe. When, at the turn of the 16th century, the heretic Giordano Bruno was burned at the stake in Campo dei Fiori in Rome, the Great Mughal emperor Akbar (who was born a Muslim and died a Muslim) had just finished, in Agra, his large project of legally codifying minority rights, including religious freedom for all, along with championing regular discussions between followers of Islam, Hinduism, Jainism, Judaism, Zoroastrianism and other beliefs (including atheism).

Cultural dynamics does not have to build something from absolutely nothing, nor need the future be rigidly tied to majoritarian beliefs today or the power of the contemporary orthodoxy. To see Iranian dissidents who want a fully democratic Iran not as Iranian advocates but as “ambassadors of Western values” would be to add insult to injury, aside from neglecting parts of Iranian history (including the practice of democracy in Susa or Shushan in southwest Iran 2,000 years ago). The diversity of the human past and the freedoms of the contemporary world give us much more choice than cultural determinists acknowledge. This is particularly important to emphasize since the illusion of cultural destiny can extract a heavy price in the continued impoverishment of human lives and liberties.

Because a false belief that the End of History is an organic outgrowth of their own traditions may speed these cultures towards it, we ought to encourage ideas like this, even though they’re complete nonsense. There’s no need to rub their faces in the fact that only the Judeo-Christian Anglo-American model works.


YET ANOTHER BENEFIT OF THE IRAQ WAR:

March 25, 2006

UN speeds up Darfur peace mission (BBC, 3/24/06)

The UN Security Council has voted unanimously to speed up preparations for UN peacekeepers to be deployed to Darfur in western Sudan.

The council is calling on UN Secretary General Kofi Annan to come up with a range of options within one month. […]

“It’s a real step forward in building peace across the entire country,” Britain’s UN Ambassador Emyr Jones Parry said in a statement.

In 2002 the President challenged the UN to be true to its principles and help enforce its own resolutions against Saddam. It failed. Nice to see it shamed into doing the right thing this time.


HOW LATE IT WAS, HOW LATE (via Luciferous):

March 24, 2006

Musharraf sends stern warning to terrorists (Mohammed Rizwan, March 24, 2006, Daily Times)

President General Pervez Musharraf has warned terrorists and extremists in Pakistan that they will be eliminated.

“I warn those foreign terrorists in Waziristan to leave otherwise we’ll finish them off,” he said in a speech to a large crowd at Minar-e-Pakistan on the occasion of Pakistan Day. “I also warn those religious extremists who burnt down The Mall on February 14 to refrain from such activities in future as destruction and arson will not be tolerated anymore.”

The president also appealed to the people of NWFP to support the operation against the terrorists. “If people stand by the Pakistan Army in Waziristan, I assure them that law and order will be restored in the area,” he said.

Ministry wants army action in FATA cut (Shahzad Raza, March 24, 2006, Daily Times)

The Interior Ministry has advised President Pervez Musharraf to deploy army troops against foreign militants hiding in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) only as a last resort and rely on paramilitary forces instead.

A senior Interior Ministry official told Daily Times that during meetings with the president on FATA, the ministry opposed frequent army operations against militants in the tribal areas. The president was advised that the Frontier Constabulary and Levies should be made responsible for taking action against militants in Waziristan and other troubled tribal areas. The ministry called for continuing the dialogue process to find out a political solution to the conflict. It proposed that pro-government tribal elders be encouraged to gain support for the government from tribal people.

One of the most basic lessons of 9-11 is that the civilized world can not tolerate geographical regions where no central political authority exercises sovereign legal power and can be held accountable for the cross border behavior of inhabitants. It would be best if the Pakistanis dealt with the tribal areas themselves, but if not we’ll have to eventually.


IF YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND THE AXIS OF GOOD YOU WON'T UNDERSTAND GEO-POLITICS:

March 24, 2006

Japan-Taiwan Ties Blossom As Regional Rivalry Grows (Anthony Faiola, 3/24/06, Washington Post)

With Japan seeking to shed a half-century of pacifism and reassert itself in world affairs, and China acquiring vastly larger economic and military might, relations between the two are as tense as they have been at any time since World War II.

Nowhere is their contest more visible than here in Taiwan, which China regards as a renegade province that must be reunified with the mainland, by force if necessary. In recent months, Japan has made a series of unprecedented overtures toward Taiwan, which was a Japanese colony from 1895 to 1945. In Tokyo, leading politicians are increasingly adopting the view that Japan must come to the island’s aid in the event of Chinese aggression.

Many analysts say they believe Japan’s evolving interest in Taiwan could tilt the regional balance of power. The United States, which has diplomatic relations with mainland China, is nonetheless sworn by the Taiwan Relations Act of 1979 to defend the island territory if it is attacked.

“The peace and stability of the Taiwan Strait and security of the Asian Pacific region are the common concerns for not only Taiwan, but also Japan and the United States,” Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian said during an interview last week. Therefore, he said, “Japan has a requirement and an obligation to come to the defense of Taiwan.”

Like many countries, Japan severed diplomatic ties with Taiwan in the 1970s in deference to Beijing’s “one-China” policy. But lately, Japan has been less particular about its rule of maintaining a careful distance. Twice in the past two months, Japan’s foreign minister, Taro Aso, has angered China by publicly referring to Taiwan as “a country.” Last year, the Tokyo government dropped visa requirements for visitors from Taiwan. And Japanese and U.S. leaders have for the first time jointly declared protection of the Taiwan Strait a “common strategic objective.”

In a less public gesture, Yoichi Nagano, formerly a general in the Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force, the army, is serving as the first military attaché at Tokyo’s de facto embassy in Taipei, the Interchange Association. In an interview, Nagano said he conducts meetings with Taiwanese government and military figures and sends regular dispatches to Tokyo.

In 2004, a group of Japanese legislators formed a committee on Taiwanese security. This May, Tokyo is set to allow former president Lee Teng-hui, the Japanese-educated champion of Taiwanese democracy, to visit Japan for the second time in 18 months. So-called Track 2 meetings between Japanese and Taiwanese politicians, academics and retired military officials have intensified, according to officials in Taiwan and Japan.

These moves coincide with the rise to power in Japan of a new crop of hawks in the long- ruling Liberal Democratic Party headed by Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi. During his five years in office, Koizumi has pushed aside rivals in the LDP who had long stressed the importance of maintaining a respectful distance from Taiwan.

When the media and pundits treat something like this in isolation from our burgeoning relationships with places like Mongolia, Indonesia and India and the allowances we make for Vlad Putin they do their readers a disservice.


THERE IS NO BRITAIN:

March 24, 2006

Is this the end of Lab-Lib Dem pact? (HAMISH MACDONELL, 3/24/06, The Scotsman)

NICOL Stephen, the Scottish Liberal Democrat leader, paved the way for an end to Lab-Lib Dem rule in Scotland last night when he insisted he would not compromise on either his anti- nuclear approach or his commitment to scrapping the council tax.

Mr Stephen told The Scotsman the Liberal Democrats would go into next year’s Holyrood elections with demands for a local income tax and a ban on all new nuclear power stations at the heart of their manifesto.

But with Labour taking a different view in both areas, there is now so much to divide the parties that it will be difficult for them to find sufficient common ground to form a third coalition.

Just take back full sovereignty of the nation.


MILEAGE MAY VARY:

March 23, 2006

Ukraine’s new, bumpy path: Its embrace of democracy contrasts with Belarus, this week’s elections show. (Fred Weir, 3/24/06, The Christian Science Monitor)

In contrast to the tight government control that largely squelched opposition forces in Belarus ahead of last weekend’s elections, Kiev’s main square is a veritable bazaar of competing voices. Nearly 50 rival political parties are heading into the final leg of parliamentary polls slated for Sunday. The roughly 2,000 foreign observers here have noted no serious irregularities, and Ukrainian experts say these are the freest and most open elections in the country’s history.

“There is absolute transparency, and an equal playing field for all parties,” says Alexander Chernenko, an analyst with the Committee of Ukrainian Voters, a grass-roots monitoring group. “There is no fear, no coercion. People feel this is irreversible.”

That Belarus feels compelled to have elections just to convey some faint patina of legitimacy suggests that its path is irreversible too.


THE REQUIREMENT OF CONSENT IS UNIVERSAL:

March 23, 2006

In 50-Yard Square in Belarus, a Country Within (C. J. CHIVERS, 3/23/06, NY Times)

Since a rigged presidential election on March 19, the capital of Belarus has seen a protest like none in 12 years of President Aleksandr G. Lukashenko’s autocratic grip. For four consecutive days, protesters have defied warnings of arrest and bloodshed and stood in a corner of October Square to demand a new race.

Their numbers rise to several thousand each evening, as they form a rally and impromptu dance party on the edge of an ice rink, and then dwindle, hour by hour, until midnight, when this core stands through the night, in two lines, to hold the place for the next day.

It is a frigid, risky vigil, given the Belarussian weather and the government’s history of reflexive brutality against those who dare to stand and call for better lives than Mr. Lukashenko’s island of Soviet nostalgia and corruption has been able, or willing, to provide.

Mostly they are young men in their 20’s. A few look too young to shave. But since Tuesday night, when the opposition’s leaders began to disagree about how best to proceed in their effort to unseat a president they do not recognize, this all-night core has become an independent force in a quixotic struggle.

Their influence emerged when one of Mr. Lukashenko’s two principal challengers, Aleksandr V. Kazulin, urged the protesters to disband Tuesday night and save themselves before the police crackdown.

“There is no sense in keeping them on the square,” Mr. Kazulin said. “We should think about our children, protect them, and not keep them in front of us.”

The protesters refused to go. And they rejected the label of “children,” applied to them by Mr. Kazulin, as well as by Mr. Lukashenko, as they crowded together in the plummeting cold. They formed their two lines, one facing out of the camp, to warn of any advance by the police, the other facing inward, to keep an eye on the behavior of the demonstrators, ensuring that no provocateurs had slipped inside.

After midnight, they occupied a portion of Belarus, a country of 10 million people the size of Kansas, that was no larger than a 50-yard square.

It was a country within.

The standard that a legitimate regime must have the consent of the governed is too universal to be turned back for long.


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.