1 March 2006

Conservatives defecting from pro-war cause

Fukuyama, that academic paragon credited with resurrecting the tarnished image of manifest destiny, has recently pointed out what he regards as failings in the Bush doctrine. In a long discussion, part of an NPR story, Fukuyama cites the following three mistakes "of the Bush administration in its stewardship of U.S. foreign policy in its first term."

The first was threat assessment. The administration overestimated, or perhaps more accurately mischaracterized, the threat facing the United States from radical Islamism. Although the new and ominous possibility of undeterrable terrorists armed with weapons of mass destruction did indeed present itself, the administration wrongly conflated this with the threat presented by Iraq and with the rogue state/proliferation problem more generally. . . .

In addition, the Bush administration failed to anticipate the virulently negative global reaction to its exercise of "benevolent hegemony." The administration came into office with a strong ideological bias against the United Nations and other international organizations such as the International Criminal Court. Officials failed to recognize that they were pushing against a strong undertow of anti-Americanism that would be greatly exacerbated by their seemingly contemptuous brush-off of most forms of international cooperation. The emergence of a unipolar post-Cold War world had made the extent of American hegemony, as it turned out, a source of anxiety even to America's closest allies.

Finally, the Bush administration failed to anticipate the requirements for pacifying and reconstructing Iraq, and was wildly overoptimistic in its assessment of the ease with which large-scale social engineering could be accomplished not just in Iraq but in the Middle East as a whole. This could not have been a failure of underlying principle, since a consistent neoconservative theme, as noted above, had been skepticism about the prospects for social engineering. Rather, proponents of the war seem to have forgotten their own principles in the heat of their advocacy of the war.

I think nearly everyone would agree with the last point and most sane people with all three. Fukuyama then lists what he regards as the "four different approaches to American foreign policy today":

1. neoconservatives
2. "realists" in the tradition of Henry Kissinger, who respect power and tend to downplay the internal nature of other regimes and human rights concerns
3. liberal internationalists who hope to transcend power politics altogether and move to an international order based on law and institutions
4. "Jacksonian" American nationalists, who tend to take a narrow, security-related view of American national interests, distrust multilateralism, and in their more extreme manifestations tend toward nativism and isolationism.

Fukuyama claims that Shrub's War was born out of an alliance of neoconservatives and Jacksonian nationalists.

As if Fukuyama's defection from the cause isn't bad enough, William F. Buckley recently (Feb. 24) wrote an article conceding that one can "can't doubt that the American objective in Iraq has failed." Buckley claims that the postulates upon which the invasion were based have turned out to be untrue, namely:

1. "That the Iraqi people, whatever their tribal differences, would suspend internal divisions in order to get on with life in a political structure that guaranteed them religious freedom."

2. "That the invading American army would succeed in training Iraqi soldiers and policymakers to cope with insurgents bent on violence."

Alas, when conservatives like Buckley and Fukuyama start crossing the ideological lines, it's a sad day for the conservative pro-war cause.

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