alien & sedition.
Wednesday, August 01, 2007
  The Bush Doctrine, Repackaged

Bob Kaufman calls it "moral democratic realism," and is apparently seeking to salvage some kind of legacy for it. George Weigel approves.

Says Kaufman:
Moral democratic realism offers a ..compelling framework for American grand strategy...because it takes due measure of the centrality of power and the constraints the dynamics of international politics impose, without depreciating the significance of ideals, ideology, and regime type. It grounds American foreign policy in Judeo-Christian conceptions of man, morality, and prudence that innoculate us against two dangerous fallacies: a utopianism that exaggerates the potential for cooperation without power; and an unrealistic realism that underestimates the potential for achieving decency and provisional justice even in international relations. It rests on a conception of self-interest, well understood, and respect for the decent opinions of mankind, without making international institutions or the fickle mistress of often-indecent international public opinion the polestar for American action...
Weigel compares this approach to the old "Catholic International Relations" theory of America and Commonweal. He seems to find in it some kind of appealing middle ground:
Kaufman rightly rejects alternative grand strategies on prudential grounds. Isolationism of the Pat Buchanan sort ignores the lessons of history and, to our eventual endangerment, abandons any American commitment to helping build order out of chaos in the world. Neo-realism (think Brent Scowcroft, James Baker, and most of the permanent State Department bureaucracy) imagines that messes like the Middle East can be managed by manipulating "our thugs;" yet this is precisely the approach that helped create conditions for the possibility of 9/11. Jimmy Carteresque multilateralism is hopelessly unrealistic, and thus dangerous.
We are presented with the argument that this Bush-derived theory of IR means detatching American policy from thuggery: risum teneatis, as images of Gitmo and Abu Ghraib and extraordinary rendition and all the rest come to mind, and the words of their neoconservative defenders echo in our memories. And we are meant to believe, after the utter debacle of unilateralism in Iraq, that it's the traditional multilateral approach (the approach that won the cold war) which is somehow "hopelessly unrealistic"? One wonders whether distinguished academics like Kaufman and Weigel have paused at any point during the past six years to peer out from their ivory towers onto the landscape of the real world. Perhaps they have been too busy doodling in their notebooks, coming up with grand-sounding phrases like "moral democratic realism," which, in case no one else has already made the joke, I would suggest sounds neither moral, nor realistic (the "democratic" aspect of it is probably neither here nor there).

Still, take note: the Bush doctrine, that recipe for catastrophe, continues to have its defenders, and they are determined to refine it into a permanent school of conservative international relations theory.

Labels: , , ,

Bush's strategy
= moral?
= democratic?
= realist?

As for moral, the open question is what "moral" might mean in politics other than pretense to be "moral". (The 'Prince' has to be a fox and PRETEND to be moral, but should not BE moral to remain flexible for politically necessary manoevers ... )

As for democratic, we definitely know now that it is not in the interest of US empire to allow Arabs to chose their governments - see Palestine, or Egypt, where the Muslim Brotherhood would get a two-thirds majority in really free elections.

As for realist, the Iraq misadventure tells us: It is all about ideological blindness, about wishful thinking, political dreaming ... And Rove ridiculed the "reality based" people - contrary to those who CREATE reality ...

Weigel/Kaufmann warn not to

"neglect the true 'root cause' of jihadist terrorism: 'the insidious interaction of poverty, brutality, and oppression that spawns secular and religious radicals and rogue regimes implacably hostile to the United States mainly for what it is rather than what it does.'"

Realism would make us take into account some real concerns that motivate jihadist terrorism. For those who pursue it, and those who support it, the general perception of a Western antiMuslim crusade do play a role.

The first part of the quote about the "root cause" is not so wrong -- but what did the USA do to help the Arab nations overcome poverty of the ordinary people, to support the opposition to the brutally oppressive governments with which the USA are allied?

Bush's concept is not one that can be formed into a consistent theory. It comes from the stomach, from intuitions, from prejudices shared by a majority of the people. It is intuitive and populist in its design.

Instead of a Kaufmannian Theory Bush's concept can be put in simple words:
"Trust me!"
"Follow your guts!"
"Follow God's will!"
"The Bible is our Constitution."
"There is good, and there is evil. And there is the battle between good and evil."
"We, the Americans, are God's people and inherently good and therefore successful."
"Who is not for us, is against us."
"Don't talk with your enemy - just crush him!"
"Keep it simple! The enemy is ONE."
Add a few more, and that will provide the whole "theory" - and in the appropriate form.
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