Here, reproduced under the Fair Dealing provisions (§29) of the Copyright Act from the Globe and Mail
is an important article about some of America’s top strategists
Fukuyama keeps up the fight
In the 1990s he declared the ‘End of History.' Then in 2006, he put a rhetorical bullet in the backs of his neo-conservative allies. What remains for a right-wing apostate to do today?
Washington — From Saturday's Globe and Mail
Published on Friday, May. 28, 2010
When three American thinkers – an unbowed neo-conservative, a cheeky liberal and neo-conservatism's best-known apostate – gathered in the capital this month to discuss a young French scholar's new “biography” of the neo-con movement, they first had to settle on how to pronounce the author's name.
Francis Fukuyama, the Chicago-born former neo-con, begged the indulgence of Justin Vaïsse for pronouncing his first name à l'américaine.
Liberal Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne nodded to his own family's Quebec roots. “I'm a French Canadian, so I love saying Joos-tin,” he jested, pursing his lips.
As for editor William Kristol, whose Weekly Standard remains a safe house for neo-conservative opinion, he was true to its precepts of U.S. supremacy and unilateralism.
“As a neo-conservative, I have to give him the American pronunciation,” Mr. Kristol quipped, before poking his former brother-in-arms: “I'm a little shocked that Frank bowed to such a hegemonic and almost nativist manner of discourse, but that's okay.”
Emotions, apparently, are still a little raw. In 1992, Prof. Fukuyama's celebrated book The End of History and the Last Man helped provide neo-conservatism's intellectual fuel. His 2004 break with the movement accelerated its descent into foreign-policy purgatory.
Dr. Francis Fukuyama Reuters
As he wraps up his nine-year stint at Johns Hopkins University's School of Advanced International Studies – he's headed to Stanford in the fall – Prof. Fukuyama harbours no regrets about slamming the door on the house he helped to build. But neither has he turned his back on all of neo-conservatism's leading edicts.
The theorist, set to speak Monday in Toronto, still thinks democracy promotion should remain a key tenet of U.S. foreign policy. And he fears Barack Obama – for whom he voted – does far too little of it.
REVENGE OF THE REALISTS
“Although he gave a speech in Cairo almost exactly a year ago about the importance of democracy and accountable government in the Middle East, as far as I can tell he has done almost nothing to actually promote this,” Prof. Fukuyama insists in his bright but cloistered office on Washington's stately Massachusetts Ave. “He occasionally makes a nod towards democracy and human rights, but you don't get the sense that it's central to what he wants to accomplish.”
Not that Mr. Obama would get far if he tried. George W. Bush's go-it-alone “freedom agenda” sullied the name of democracy – and America – in much of the world. Neo-cons justified the use of unilateral military force to “democratize” Iraq based on the conviction, expressed a few years earlier by Mr. Kristol, that “American foreign policy is infused with an unusually high degree of morality.” The rest of the world could be forgiven if it didn't always see it that way.
By comparison, Mr. Obama has been deferential to multilateralism, noting in his first National Security Strategy, unveiled Thursday: “The burdens of a young century cannot fall on American shoulders alone – indeed our adversaries would like to see America sap our strength by overextending our power.”
Prof. Fukuyama supports the multilateral approach, but criticizes the narrowly “realist” foreign policy that appears to be favoured by many in the Obama administration, which is reminiscent of the Cold War détente of the Nixon era. If the neo-cons seem hopelessly utopian, the realists come off as overly cynical.
“American foreign policy has to be grounded in certain ideals. It's kind of in the American DNA,” argues Prof. Fukuyama, who, incidentally, was born the same year – 1952 – as Mr. Kristol and Mr. Dionne. “It's something we're hypocritical about a lot of the times because we don't live up to [our ideals].
“But creating an open, democratic world order is something that didn't begin with the Bush administration. It's been there from the beginning in terms of American objectives and the world is, on balance, better off for that.”
NEO-CON WARS 2: HISTORY STRIKES BACK
The fissure between Prof. Fukuyama and his fellow neo-cons arose over what he describes as their misreading of his celebrated 1992 bestseller. Its irresistible, if much-oversimplified, idea – that the fall of communism at the end of the Cold War marked the triumph of liberal democracy as humankind's political endpoint – underpinned the neo-con argument that the U.S. should use its opportunity as the world's sole superpower to spread democracy abroad, by force if necessary.
Ronald Reagan, neo-cons argued, had proved that intimidation, not détente, was key to eliminating the Soviet threat and freeing the citizenry of the “evil empire” and its satellite states. It was the failure to respond forcefully enough to Islamic terrorist attacks on Bill Clinton's watch, they reasoned, that led to 9/11.
By then, neo-con hawks such as Paul Wolfowitz had assumed pivotal positions in the Bush administration. And the Bush Doctrine – with its emphasis on pre-emptive strikes and unilateralism – became the motor of foreign policy.
“The greater the threat, the greater is the risk of inaction – and the more compelling the case for taking anticipatory action to defend ourselves, even if uncertainty remains as to the time and place of the enemy's attack,” the Bush administration asserted in its 2002 National Security Strategy (a document every president must submit to Congress).
The 2003 invasion of Iraq – to topple Saddam Hussein, destroy his (non-existent) weapons of mass destruction and install democracy – marked a neo-con high point.
But barely a year later, watching disaster unfold there, Prof. Fukuyama sent America's salon set into fits of chatter by renouncing his peers in what was then their bible, The National Interest. As he would further explain in 2006's America at the Crossroads, he faulted them for egging on the Bush administration to conclude, wrongly, that “history could be accelerated through American agency.”
The neo-cons did not take it lying down. Robert Kagan, who had helped Mr. Kristol pen the blurb about America's “unusually high degree of morality,” shot back in 2008 with the impertinently titled The Return of History and the End of Dreams. China's inexorable rise, Mr. Kagan argued, had shown that “growing national wealth and autocracy [are] compatible, after all.”
But despite robbing the neo-cons of their argument, history's return has only made democracy promotion an even greater imperative. “It may not come to war,” Mr. Kagan asserted, “but the global competition between democratic and autocratic governments will become the dominant feature of the 21st-century world.”
Prof. Fukuyama has not repudiated his own “end of history” thesis, even if he concedes that China's progress has led many thinkers to cast doubt on the inevitability, much less desirability, of democracy as the ultimate form of political organization. Even Russia, which a decade ago might have looked to the West for guidance, would now rather emulate China.
“The problem with that model is that you have to have good authoritarians,” Prof. Fukuyama counters. “They tend to produce them in East Asia for a number of reasons – historical and cultural. But in Africa, the Middle East and Latin America, it's pretty hard to find Lee Kuan Yews.” (Mr. Lee is the iron-fisted ex-leader of Singapore, credited with turning his city-state into an Asian Tiger.)
Like the Soviet Union, China has its own internal contradictions, which, in time, are bound to catch up with the regime. “It is extremely hard to govern that large a country in such a top-down manner without any kind of bottom-up accountability,” Prof. Fukuyama adds. “The question I would really raise is whether, in the long run, that part of the model is sustainable.”
History should take care of China, he argues. Modernization “tends to drive demands for political participation.”
NEO-CON WARS 3: ATTACK OF THE CLONES?
The neo-cons are not so patient. And they have a new bounce to their step. The 2007 troop surge in Iraq – which Robert Kagan's younger brother, Frederick, helped devise – worked. Even Prof. Fukuyama concedes Iraqis now have “a reasonable shot” at establishing a workable democracy.
What's more, isolationists such as Kentucky Republican candidate Rand Paul notwithstanding, the party has pretty much surrendered the formulation of its foreign policy to neo-conservatives such as Mr. Kristol, the Kagans and Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer.
“If Republicans want to oppose Obama on foreign policy to score political points, they naturally tend to gravitate around neoconservative ideas,” Mr. Vaïsse, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, writes in Why Neoconservatism Still Matters.
Mr. Krauthammer and Robert Kagan “both attack what they consider to be Obama's underlying assumption – America's inevitable decline – as well as his remedy – adapting to a ‘post-American world' by accommodating other great powers (most of them autocracies) at the expense of traditional allies (most of them democracies).”
If Mr. Obama falters – if his attempt to rein in Iran and North Korea by multilateral means fails, if he defers too much to China or Russia – the neo-cons are ready to pounce. Should the Republicans retake Congress this fall or (in their dreams) the White House in 2012, U.S. foreign policy could again come under their thrall.
It would not mark the end of history; just its repetition.
Francis Fukuyama addresses the Grano Salon Speakers Series in Toronto on May 31.
Prof. Fukuyama was, mostly, right in both The End of History and the Last Man
(1992) and America at the Crossroads
(2006) but (there’s always a but
isn’t there?) while I agree that democracy is the likely “end state” for our modern, 21st
century world it may
well be that we have not yet seen the contest between democratic forms. Prof. Fukuyama, like almost all Western thinkers, says “democracy” when he really means “liberal
democracy.” There is another form: conservative
democracy, which is what we see, full blown, in Singapore and, largely, in Japan.
What’s the difference? Liberal
democracies, our kind of democracy, has as its core value: the rights of the individual. Conservative democracies have for their central value: the rights of society. We expect our liberal
democratic system to protect each of us, as individuals, from the actions of the collectives
: big business, big banks, big labour, organized religion and government itself. People living in a conservative
democracy expect the state to protect their fundamental rights (life, liberty, security of the person, etc) but, also, to promote and protect social harmony, possibly at the expense of some individual rights. The explicit “trust” between the citizen and the conservative
state is that it will keep you, the individual you, safe, and allow you, in fact enable
you, to prosper, but it will do so will maintaining social harmony amongst all citizens.
Consider Singapore: elections are free and fair but many of the rights we take for granted, including freedom of expression and freedom of association and assembly are restricted to a degree that some Western observers consider anti-democratic. But every individual’s right to property is protected to a greater degree than in any other country
in the world, including the USA – in fact, on matters of property rights, the USA, under either Bush or Obama, looks positively communistic
and downright lawless compared to Singapore. Singapore is a full fledged democracy but it is not at all liberal
and that’s why many liberals
(Westerners, all) think it is some sort of dictatorship.
It is that model, conservative
democracy, towards which China is, glacially slowly, moving. The Chinese centre
doesn’t want democracy but it understands that the alternatives are either doomed to fail or unworkable or, as yet, invisible. They look with envy at the conservative
democracy Lee Kuan Yew crafted for Singapore. They (the Chinese) lack many of the advantages he had, such as deep public trust
in the institutions of the state – such as courts and the bureaucracy, legacies of British colonial administration. The Chinese people do not trust their courts or government agencies and the Chinese cannot manage a transition to a conservative
democracy until they can lick their HUGE corruption
problem. It was, despite a head start, Lee’s biggest challenge in Singapore and it remains a challenge in many, many (indeed most) countries including some liberal
democracies and most democracies of the third sort: illiberal
But, I suspect
the battle between East and West will be between conservative
democratic values. I hope
the two can coexist and that they can cooperate against the common foe: barbarism