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


IT'S WHAT WE DO:

February 5, 2007

The Clash of Civilizations Revisited (Samuel P. Huntington, a Harvard professor, is famous for his 1996 book The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order. He was interviewed by Amina R. Chaudary of Islamica Magazine (NPG, Winter 2007)
NPQ | You have argued that as civilization changes in America, it has moved toward focusing on democratic liberalism as an ideology.

Huntington | That always has been the American ideology. Since the revolution of the 18th century, America has basically had an ideology of liberal democracy and constitutionalism, though generally I try to avoid the use of the term ideology to describe this. I talk of American beliefs and values.

When you mention the word ideology, people have communism in the back of their minds, which was an entirely well-formulated ideology and statement of belief. You read the Communist Manifesto and you know what the core of it is. What we have, however, is a looser set of values and beliefs, which have remained fairly constant for two and a half centuries or so. And that’s really rather striking.

Obviously, changes and adaptations have occurred as a result of economic development, industrialization, the huge wave of immigrants that have come to this country, economic crisis, depression and world wars. But the core of the American set of beliefs has remained pretty constant.

If one of the drafters of the Declaration of Independence came back today, he would not be surprised about what Americans are saying and believing and articulating in their public statements. It would all sound rather familiar.

NPQ | How is the Muslim world faring in the context of a world that has mostly accepted, if in theory, not practice, liberal democracy?

Huntington | We’ve seen at least the beginnings of rather significant social and economic change in the Muslim world, which I think will in due course lead to more political change. Obviously, Muslim societies, like societies elsewhere, are becoming increasingly urban, many are becoming industrial. But since so many have oil and gas, they don’t have a great impetus to change.

At the same time, the revenue that natural resources produce gives them the capability to change. Countries like Iran are beginning to develop an industrial component.

NPQ | Do you think that the “Islamic civilization” will become increasingly coherent in the future?

Huntington | Certainly we’ve seen movements in that direction. Certainly there are various trans-Islamic political movements, which try to appeal to Muslims in all societies. But I am doubtful that there will be any sort of real coherence of Muslim societies as a single political system run by an elected or non-elected group of leaders.

But I think we can expect leaders of Muslim societies to cooperate with each other on many issues, just as Western societies cooperate with each other. I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of Muslim, or at least Arab, countries developing some form of organization comparable to the European Union. I don’t think that’s very likely, but it conceivably could happen.

NPQ | You’ve written, “Islamic culture explains, in large part, the failure of democracy to emerge in much of the Muslim world.” Yet large parts of the Muslim world have democracy—Indonesia, Mali, Senegal and even India, with its large population of Muslims. What is the connection, or lack of it?

Huntington | I don’t know what the answer to that question is because I’m not an expert on Islam, but it is striking the relative slowness with which Muslim countries, particularly Arab countries, have moved toward democracy. Their cultural heritage and their ideologies may be in part responsible. The colonial experience they all went through may be a factor in the fight against Western domination, British, French or whatever. Many of these countries were, until recently, largely rural societies with landowning governing elites.

I think they are certainly moving toward urbanization and much more pluralistic political systems. In almost every Muslim country, that is occurring. Obviously, they are increasing their involvement with non-Muslim societies. One key aspect that will influence democratization, of course, is the migration of Muslims into Europe.
In the end it is futile for both our own isolationists and for Islamic extremists to flail out against the Americanization/liberalization/democratization/globalization of the Islamic world. We are indeed evangelicals in the cause of universal liberal democracy and always have been. The periodic pauses in which we tone it down a little just end up being followed by needlessly bloody wars when someone annoys us enough that we re-engage the fight.


NONE TOO QUICK ON THE UPTAKE:

January 17, 2007

Rogue State America: Has America become a rogue state? (John B. Judis, 1/17/07, TNR Online)

What exactly are we doing in the Horn of Africa, where we have encouraged the Christian government of Ethiopia to invade Somalia and replace its Islamic government? As far as I can tell, we have violated international law, committed war crimes, helped Al Qaeda recruit new members, and involved ourselves in a guerrilla war that could last decades. It’s Iraq writ small. And it can’t be blamed on Donald Rumsfeld.

There’s an old principle of international law, going back to the seventeenth century, against one nation violating the sovereignty of another. It was often breached, but, after two world wars, it was enshrined in the United Nations charter. We criticized the Soviet invasions of Hungary and Czechoslovakia and justified the first Gulf war on these grounds. The purpose of this principle has been to prevent wars that could arise if more powerful countries simply took it into their hands to dominate smaller, less powerful ones. […]

In the 1990s, foreign policy experts, eager to identify a new enemy, hit upon the concept of a “rogue state.” A rogue state operated outside the bounds of international norms and had to be restrained. The obvious candidates at the time were Libya, Iraq, and North Korea. But the Bush administration has turned the United States itself into a rogue state. Tough-minded conservatives, flexing their “muscular” inclinations from comfortable sinecures in Washington, may dismiss concerns about international law and war crimes as inventions of silly panty-waist liberals. But these inventions, which, in the modern era, were championed by Theodore Roosevelt, were meant to protect Americans as well as other peoples from the wars and the inhumanity that prevailed for thousands of years. We ignore them at their peril, whether in Haditha or Ras Kamboni.

Mr. Judis is correct about the intervention being a mistake vis-a-vis the Somali people, but if he’s just now noticing that we’re a rogue state and sovereignty is a dead letter he doesn’t pay much attention to American history.


JUST WAIT FOR THE CHAPTERS WE HAVEN'T WRITTEN YET…:

November 28, 2006

Once upon a time in the west: a review of DANGEROUS NATION: America and the World 1600-1898 by Robert Kagan (Robert Cooper, Sunday Times of London)

The Monroe Doctrine of 1823 — that the US would not accept European interference in the Western hemisphere — was unilateral, like all subsequent American “doctrines”. But America also retained an ideological preference for Britain over the continental powers; if not a republic, it was at least a liberal monarchy. This was not the special relationship that the British still like to imagine. Britain was the superpower of the day; and it is this that accounts for the remarkable survival of Canada on a continent where the United States took everything else within reach. Dealing with America is always easier if you are powerful.

Why was the nation dangerous? Because it believed in itself and in its cause. America, Kagan tells us, was never a status quo power. It wanted to remake the world in its own image; and because its cause was righteous it saw no reason to limit its power. Reacting to the American wish to be rid altogether of the French and Indians, Edmund Burke argued for a balance of power in America. The idea that you could feel secure “only by having no other Nation near you was alien and repulsive to the European mind”. The search for absolute security — which was American policy then and now — represented, like the search for absolute power, immoderation; and that was dangerous.

So are idealism and democracy. The unnecessary wars that America fought in the 19th century — in 1812 against Britain, and in1898 against Spain — began on a wave of popular enthusiasm. (By contrast, America entered the necessary wars of the 20th century with reluctance.) Throughout this period the United States was long on ambition but short on the power to impose its ideals. But by the end of the century it had taken over most of the continent, settled the question of slavery, and was sending gunboats to Samoa, Brazil and Korea.

Dangerous Nation’s emphasis on democracy as a constant goal, accompanied occasionally by regime change (starting 200 years ago, during the war on piracy, with an attempt to overthrow the Pasha of Tripoli), make this a neoconservative history. Perhaps, but the case is well put and is beautifully written. This reader could not put it down, and cannot wait for part two.

MORE:
Back to the Future (Fouad Ajami, November 26, 2006, US News)

The sin of George W. Bush, to hear his critics tell it, is that he unleashed the forces of freedom in Arab-Islamic lands only to beget a terrible storm. In Iraq and in Lebanon, the furies of sectarianism are on the loose; and in that greater Middle East stretching from Pakistan to Morocco, the forces of freedom and reform appear chastened. Autocracy is fashionable once again, and that bet on freedom made in the aftermath of the American venture into Iraq now seems, to the skeptics, fatally compromised. For decades, we had lived with Arab autocracies, befriended them, taken their rule as the age-old dominion in lands unfit for freedom. Then came this Wilsonian moment proclaimed in the course of the war on Iraq. To the “realists,” it had been naive and foolhardy to hold out to the Arabs the promise of freedom. We had bet on the Cedar Revolution in Lebanon, thrilled to these young people in Beirut’s plazas reclaiming their country from Syrian tyranny. But that promise, too, has been battered, and in the shadows, the old policy of ceding Lebanon to the rule of Syria’s informers and policemen now claims a measure of vindication. On the surface of things, it is the moment of the “realists,” then: They speak with greater confidence. The world had lived down, as it were, to their expectations. And now they wish to return history to its old rhythm.

But in truth there can be no return to the bosom of the old order. American power and the very force of what had played out in the Arab-Islamic lands in recent years have rendered the old order hollow, mocked its claims to primacy and coherence. The moment our soldiers flushed Saddam Hussein from his filthy spider hole, we had put on display the farce and swindle of Arab authority.

Primacy and power. We can’t shy away from the very history we unleashed. We had demonstrated to the Arabs that the rulers are not deities; we had given birth to the principle of political accountability. In the same vein, we may not be comfortable with all the manifestations of an emancipated Arab Shiism–we recoil, as we should, from the Mahdi Army in Iraq and from Hezbollah’s Hassan Nasrallah in Beirut–but the Shiite stepchildren of the Arab world have been given a new claim on the Arab political order of primacy and power. In the annals of Arab history, this is nothing short of revolutionary. The Sunni Arab regimes have a dread of the emancipation of the Shiites. But American power is under no obligation to protect their phobias and privileges. History has served notice on their world and their biases. We can’t fall for their legends, and we ought to remember that the road to all these perditions, and the terrors of 9/11, had led through Sunni movements that originated in Egypt and Saudi Arabia.


BUT WE'RE EXCEPTIONAL EVEN WITHIN THE ANGLOSPHERE:

November 27, 2006

The Exceptionally Entrepreneurial Society (Arnold Kling, 27 Nov 2006, Tech Central Station)

Edmund Phelps is the 2006 winner of the Nobel Prize in economics. Shortly after his award was announced, Phelps published an essay on how capitalism in the United States differs from the system in Continental Europe. Phelps wrote,

There are two economic systems in the West. Several nations — including the U.S., Canada and the U.K. — have a private-ownership system marked by great openness to the implementation of new commercial ideas coming from entrepreneurs, and by a pluralism of views among the financiers who select the ideas to nurture by providing the capital and incentives necessary for their development. Although much innovation comes from established companies, as in pharmaceuticals, much comes from start-ups, particularly the most novel innovations…

The other system — in Western Continental Europe — though also based on private ownership, has been modified by the introduction of institutions aimed at protecting the interests of “stakeholders” and “social partners.” The system’s institutions include big employer confederations, big unions and monopolistic banks.

In Continental Europe, large banks control the bulk of investment. The United States has a more vibrant stock market, many more banks, venture capital firms, and other financial channels.

In Continental Europe, large established firms have access to funds from the large banks, but newer enterprises have a much more difficult time raising money. In the United States, the more competitive financial system gives more opportunity for entrepreneurs to raise start-up capital. […]

If the United States is exceptional because of our entrepreneurial culture, then our natural allies may not be in Continental Europe, in spite of its democratic governments and high levels of economic development. China seems more dynamic than Europe, but I would argue that China’s government-controlled financial system ultimately is not compatible with American-style entrepreneurship. Instead, we may have more in common with other nations of the Anglosphere, as well as such entrepreneurial outposts as India, Israel, and Singapore.

For the half century following World War II, the United States focused on democracy as the cornerstone of foreign policy. Democratic nations were our allies, and promoting democracy abroad was a top priority. However, it may be that American exceptionalism mostly reflects entrepreneurship. In that case, we have less in common with European social democracy than we thought previously. And, if our goal is to have more countries that look like America, then having them adopt a democratic political system may not be necessary and will certainly not be sufficient.

One wouldn’t expect a libertarian to grasp the fact, bit neither democracy nor capitalism are sufficient. They’re means, not ends.


WE DON'T DO REALITY, WE REMAKE IT:

November 22, 2006

Interventionism’s Realistic Future

By Robert D. Kaplan
Wednesday, November 22, 2006; A21

Hard-core foreign policy realists (the kind who say this country should rarely intervene again, anywhere) are hoping that in the wake of our comeuppance in Iraq things will be going their way. That is to say, U.S. foreign policy will be defined by an obdurate caution, coupled with a ruthless, almost mathematical application of balance-of-power principles. You’d think — to hear some of them talk — that we’re about to emulate China, which seeks only energy sources and advantageous trade agreements and cares nothing at all for the moral improvement of regimes in such places as Zimbabwe, Burma and Uzbekistan.

This is nonsense. Our foreign policy is about to experience an adjustment, not a flip-flop. Neither political party will support anything else if it really wants to elect a president in 2008. Just look at the dismay in this country over our failure to intervene in Darfur, even given the burden we already carry in Iraq. To be sure, the recent evidence that our democratic system cannot be violently exported will temper our Wilsonian principles, but it will not bury them. Pure realism — without a hint of optimism or idealism — would immobilize our mass immigrant democracy, which has always seen itself as an agent of change.


DOES MR. TANCREDO PLEDGE TO A FLAG OF THIRTEEN STARS?:

November 22, 2006

U.S. legislator warns of Bush plot to merge Canada, the U.S. and Mexico (Beth Gorham, November 21, 2006, The Canadian Press)

A U.S. legislator who backs tough anti-immigrant measures and more security at the Canada-U.S. border is warning Americans that President George W. Bush is plotting to integrate the continent.

And he says Prime Minister Stephen Harper “buys into it.”

Colorado Republican Tom Tancredo, revered by some U.S. conservatives for his efforts to staunch the flow of illegal immigrants from Mexico, said this week that Bush is a dangerous internationalist.

“He is going to do what he can to create a place where the idea of America is just that, it’s an idea. It’s not an actual place defined by borders. I mean this is where the guy is really going,” he told WorldNetDaily, a controversial conservative website.

Manifest Destiny doesn’t respect artificial borders.