Tuesday, October 24, 2006

One More Foreign Policy Mass Vision

This time from Michael Lind, NewAmerica Foundation.

Long piece, but stick with it. Will be in next month's American Prospect.


Much of America’s weakness will be the result of self-inflicted wounds: the unnecessary invasion of Iraq, along with the Bush administration’s gratuitous insults to allies, its arrogant unilateralism and its hostility to international law. But as tempting as it may be to put all of the blame on the Bush administration, the truth is that most of the trends that will limit American power and influence in the next decade are long-term phenomena produced by economic, demographic and ideological developments beyond the power of the US or any government to influence. The rise of China, the shift in the centre of the world economy to Asia, the growth of neo-mercantilist petro-politics, the spread of Islamism in both militant and moderate forms -- these trends are reshaping the world order in ways that neither the US nor any of its allies can do much to control.

Lind argues that the long 90s (Fall of Berlin Wall until 2003 Iraqi Insurgency) we predicated, among both Republicans and Democrats of various sorts on some flawed assumptions--three in particular: unipolar world, liberal victory, and free market ideology.

1.Unipolar world.
--Neocons being those under Bush who sought to install a US unilateral order
--Neolibes being those who saw US/Europe/NATO/UN humanitarian invasion order with US at head.

The world, as Lind argues, has been multi-polar since at least the 70s. India and China's rise is now 25 years in the making. Islamism, especially of the Radical bent, comes from the humiliation of the 1967 Arab-Israeli War.

2.The victory of Democracy (note themes in Ferguson)

Lind again:
The fact is that most of the people engaged in political violence today -- from the Basque country to the Philippines -- are not fighting for individual rights, nor for that matter are they fighting to establish an Islamist caliphate. Most are fighting for a national homeland for the ethnic nation to which they belong. For most human beings other than deracinated north Atlantic elites, the question of the unit of government is more important than the form of government, which can be settled later, after a stateless nation has obtained its own state. And as the hostility towards Israel of democratically elected governments in Palestine, Iraq and Lebanon shows, democracy can express, even inflame, pre-existing national hatreds and rivalries; it is not a cure for them.


3. Economics


Then there is economics. The conventional wisdom of the long 1990s was correct that capitalism had defeated socialism, but mistaken to assume that the libertarian capitalism fashionable in the US in the late 20th century was the winner. The Japanese never adopted laissez-faire capitalism and China and Russia in recent years have devised their own mixes of state capitalism and free markets.

Remember Ferguson: disintegrating Empires (Lind #1), ethnicities and how democracies can exacerbate sectarian strife (Lind #2), and Economics (Lind #3).

Lind goes on to make many fruther points about how this does not automatically bode well for Democrats. And that if a Dem is elected in '08 will have to deal not only with the death of the Long 90s, but the added catastrophes borught about by Bush--who will be very unlikely to pull out of Iraq if his lame duck tenure starts after Nov. 7th and continues through the 08 Election.

The key then is the establishment needs a new vision, combining both realism, multi-lateralism, uni-lateralism (where necessary), Powell Doctrine conservatism, new alliances with rising Asia, allowing the world to exist in strong regional security zones (Asian NATO), ethical realism, and liberty through law buidling, (pieces of) all of them.

Minus that we are going to see as Ferguson and Lind suggest mass instability in the coming decades on the foreign scene.

What all three of these point to--ethno-nationalism, neo-mercantilism, and multi-polarity is the interpaly between globalized fragmentation and the rising need for stability (blue) and transparency (orange) around the world, especially Asia, on its own terms.

That blue, blue/orange, orange/blue, orange nexus is most volatile in many ways and has been historically. Environmental, human rights, nationalisms, wage gaps, culture shock from modernity, rural flight, upheveal. And all of that going to take place with the technological frame of instant communication, global weapons trade, internet.


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