AS USUAL, OUR FLAW IS BEING TOO AMERICAN (via Tom Morin):

April 12, 2006

Pipes calls war a success (Bill Steigerwald, April 1, 2006, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review)

Q: Were you in favor of going to war in Iraq, and how do you think it’s progressing or regressing?

[Daniel Pipes]: I was in favor. I continue to be in favor of the campaign to eliminate the rule of Saddam Hussein, with all the dangers to the Iraqis, to the region and to ourselves. From April 2003 on, I have argued that the U.S. government and its allies should have lower expectations than actually is the case. That we should treat the Iraqis like adults; that we should understand that they are going to run their own future, their own destiny, not us; that our role there is at best advisory, and that we should be patient. So lower expectations and a longer time horizon.

Q: Does that mean a significant change in what we are doing now, in terms of policy. Should we announce withdrawals?

A: The number of troops is not my issue. It’s the placement and role of the troops. For three years now I have been protesting the use of American troops to mediate between tribes, help rebuild electricity grids, oversee school construction, which seems to me to be a wrong use of our forces, of our money. The Iraqis should be in charge of that. We should keep the troops there, in the desert, looking after the international boundaries, making sure there are no atrocities, making sure oil and gas goes out, otherwise leaving Iraq to the Iraqis. […]

Q: Do you generally agree with President Bush’s Middle East policy — its goals and its methods?

A: I agree with the goals much more than the methods. I just gave an example of Iraq, where I believe the goal of getting rid of Saddam Hussein and trying to have a free and prosperous Iraq are worthy goals. I criticize the implementation. The same goes with democracy. I think democracy is a great goal for the region. I criticize the implementation; I think it’s too fast, too American, too get-it-done yesterday.

We’d have done better by doing less, but that’s not who we are.

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STOP AT A BAKER'S DOZEN:

March 28, 2006

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


THE MOST UNLIKELY FELLOW TRAVELERS:

December 6, 2003

Strategy and the Idea of Freedom (Douglas J. Feith, Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, November 24, 2003, Heritage Lecture)

That was a time when we neo-cons, of which I was a junior member, and the folks we called the paleo-cons, made common cause:

To support beleaguered democracies,
To beleaguer the Soviet Empire, and
To advocate a US foreign policy of peace through strength.

The Heritage Foundation helped create the alliance of the neo-cons, those of us who started our political lives as Democrats, and the old-fashioned conservatives. It was an alliance of the profoundest type, anchored in philosophical principles. It was not tactical, not a political marriage of convenience.

The realignment of US politics that joined William Buckley with Irving Kristol and Norman Podhoretz – that bound together supporters of Barry Goldwater with supporters of Scoop Jackson and Hubert Humphrey – has helped change our country and the world. At home, it made the conservative slice of the political spectrum a lively place, intellectually scintillating, creative, ambitious to transform government, attractive to young people, and decidedly non-stodgy.

Abroad, the makers of the Reagan Revolution – with the Heritage Foundation as a key node in the network – elevated the status of ideas as weapons in the arsenal of democracy. The Reaganites understood Realpolitik; they grasped the importance of guns and money and the other “hard” realities of world affairs. But they appreciated also the potency of the human desire of freedom.

They saw the Cold War not as a balance-of-power exercise between two “superpowers” – much less an arms race between “two apes on a treadmill” – but as a noble fight of western liberal democracy against Soviet communist tyranny. They abraded conventional sensibilities by speaking of an “evil empire” and insisting that the truly representative voices in that empire were those of Lech Walesa, Vaclav Havel, Andrei Sakharov, Anatoly Sharansky and their fellow dissidents.

This engagement in philosophical warfare, I need hardly remind folks at the Heritage Foundation, created no small controversy in the politics and diplomacy of the western world. President Reagan’s talk of democracy and good-versus-evil and his exhortation to tear down the Berlin Wall were widely criticized, even ridiculed, as unsophisticated and de-stabilizing. But it’s now widely understood as having contributed importantly to the greatest victory in world history: the collapse of Soviet communism and the liberation of the peoples of the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe without a war.

Which is why it’s so disturbing to see the palecons (Pat Buchanan and his Buchananeers in particular) on the opposite side of history at this time.


NEW DEFENDERS OF THE FAITH:

October 19, 2003

What It Takes to Be a Neo-Neoconservative (JAMES ATLAS, 10/19/03, NY Times)

Among the enduring legacies of the earlier [Vietnam] era was the split between liberals who opposed the war and the small splinter group that would become known as the neoconservatives. The group’s decision to support the Vietnam War — or at least to oppose those who opposed it — was a shift that would lead them to a new level of power and influence.

The war in Iraq has shown signs of a similar split: a pro-war faction of the liberal intelligentsia has rejected a reflexive antiwar stance to form a movement of its own. The influence of these voices isn’t to be underestimated. The marginality of intellectuals is a myth; even in the resolutely hermetic world of Washington, their voices are heard.

For the liberal intellectuals of this generation, the war in Iraq has required nuanced positions. Michael Ignatieff, director of the Carr Center at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and a self-styled “liberal centrist,” focused on the human rights issue: if liberating Iraq from the tyranny of Saddam Hussein saved opponents of the regime from torture or death, that in itself justified the war.

The political philosopher Michael Walzer, the editor of Dissent magazine, was ambivalent, but directed much of his anger at the rigid politics of the anti-interventionist left in the face of Sept. 11.

Christopher Hitchens, a columnist for Vanity Fair who had disapproved of United States intervention in the first Persian Gulf war, was excited about Americanization as a revolutionary force. Calling himself a “Paine-ite,” he saw the new war as an uprising against an illegitimate state.

The writer Paul Berman forcefully expressed the opinion that not only was President Bush justified in his prosecution of the war but that he had dragged his feet. Terrorism, Mr. Berman wrote in his book “Terror and Liberalism,” is a form of totalitarianism; the war in the Middle East is a war to defend liberal civilization. […]

In the early stages of their ideological development, neoconservatives saw themselves more as reformed liberals than as true conservatives. Mr. Bell, who predicted “the end of ideology,” identified himself as a socialist; Mr. Kristol identified himself — in a famous formulation — as a liberal who has been “mugged by reality.”

Yet in the end, all were liberals who, by the 1970’s and the midpoint in their careers, were proud to identify themselves as neoconservatives, who were not the heirs of classical conservatism but rather had discovered the limitations of liberalism. A neoconservative, it might be postulated, is one who read and repudiated Marx; a conservative, one who read and embraced Hume, Locke and Hobbes.

This generation of liberal intellectuals, like its precursors, prefers to see itself less as a political coalition than as an assemblage of writers with diverse views — which of course it is. Ideological labels are always provisional. Yet however much their attitudes toward the war in Iraq differ from those of such contemporary neoconservatives as William Kristol and