Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Fukuyama redux

Among other things, Bret Stephens wonders when precisely Francis Fukuyama changed his mind about Iraq--before or after he publicly applauded the downfall of Saddam Hussein. To be fair, Fukuyama’s April, 2003 WSJ piece is studiedly ambiguous and surely prescient regarding the challenges we have faced.

But if Fukuyama has evolved into a relatively weak multilateralist--as Stephens seems to suggest and as the NYT article I discussed also hints, as opposed to someone who favors making use of all the instruments necessary to promote our interests and regimes whose principles are consonant with our own, then I can’t follow him down that path. I will, however, have to find the time to read his new book.

Discussions - 31 Comments

ViIt’s real simple, if you haven’t been checking out the military blogs, and all you really know about events on the ground comes from the New York Times and network broadcasts, OF COURSE you’re going to have turned south on Iraq.

Look at Buckley, although it should be said that Buckley has had one eye on the door all along.

There is something squalid about embarking on a military campaign, and just waiting to try to squirm out of it because of negative news coverage.

It’s pathetic really.

Vietnam just didn’t create an unwillingness to use force, IT ALSO CREATED A DISPOSITION to find failure in a military situation that becomes tough.

Whereas before Americans relied upon pride, manhood, professionalism and grit to emerge victorious, now, we have a situation where pundits and columnists simply repeat the slanted coverage of the major media.

It’s enough to make my stomach turn.

It’s enough to make my stomach turn.


Really? It’s the killing and death on the grounds of weak speculation that I find upsetting.


The sooner you guys get out, the better off the Iraqis will be in the longterm.


While it’s not going to be ideal (lets face it, it’s probably going to be awful), the current efforts are at worst excerbating the situation, and at best a waste of american lives and money.

Brian, the United States military is the only thing keeping the Shi’ite population from slaughtering the Sunnis. Think about it. Yes, many Iraqis are being killed, but it’s almost entirely the Shi’ite majority being targetted. What do you think is going to happen if the US pulls out? The argument is that the insurgents are only attacking because they want the US to leave, but that’s not true. They’re attacking because the future of Iraq (the center of the Middle East in every sense) is in the balance. It’s the radical[?] Islamists who are behind the attacks in an effort make us lose our will to fight, then they can forcibly take control of the country. Do you honestly think if the US pulled out tomorrow the Iraqis would be safer?

Do you honestly think if the US pulled out tomorrow the Iraqis would be safer?


Andrew I am almost paralysed by indecision on this one. It is a complete humanitarian nightmare.


Nothing the US is doing appears to me to helping resolve the situation though.


The best option is for the US to organise (and perhaps pay for) a UN multinational force made up of soldiers from the middle east.


UN observers would keep the worst excesses at bay, and it would be hard to feel the same animosity toward peace keepers made up of Saudis, UAE, Egyptians and pakistanis, as the Iraqis do to the US troops.


It’s a bitch though.

Brian, if you are concerned about muslims, then this campaign in Iraq and Afghanistan must succeed.

Islam hasn’t found within itself those attributes necessary for moral, economic and cultural improvement. They haven’t yet managed to depart from the ways of the pre-medieval, and enter into the pre-modern age, [let alone the modern, or the post-modern].

And absent American military muscle, they’re not going to find it. Were we to withdraw, not only would any "moderating" elements within islam become marginalized for another several generations, but the forces of "radical" or "pure" islam be ENORMOUSLY energized. Those people think they were the ones who brought down the Soviet Union. And now, not even a couple decades later, you would seriously ponder granting them a victory over the THE Western superpower? The very possibility of our enemies emerging alive, let alone victorious, is intolerable.

This isn’t any humanitarian "nightmare." The "nightmare" was the evil, the torture, the brutality of the Saddam years, ALL OF WHICH advanced nothing other than his grip on power. Compare that to the violence that Iraq is currently plagued by, which can be described as the birth pains to a society that Iraq and Islam has never known.

Our policy should be clear, we will do what ever it takes to prevail.

Besides if Iraq were a "humanitarian nightmare," where then are the refugees? Where then is the evidence of commerce fleeing? Where then is the evidence of the value of property plummeting? Where then is all the evidence of a society and economy falling apart? Those who desired American capitulation in Vietnam couched much of their rhetoric in a language of concern for the people of South Vietnam. But when we left, and the nightmare truly began, and MILLIONS of South Vietnamese people fled for their lives, {and at risk to those lives}, where was the concern then? The Catholic Church in America finally turned against the Vietnam war precisely on the supposed "nightmare" that the war had become for ordinary South Vietnamese. In retrospect, with all that we know of what happened after our pullout, that position becomes morally obscene.

Dan. It’s a mess. However, and I can’t help but say this, the US created this mess by choosing to invade when plenty of other options where on the table. Not invading for example.


The "nightmare" was the evil, the torture, the brutality of the Saddam years, ALL OF WHICH advanced nothing other than his grip on power. Compare that to the violence that Iraq is currently plagued by, which can be described as the birth pains to a society that Iraq and Islam has never known.


This kind of comment is endemic of the culture of amnesia that seems to prevail in the US.


In 1990-91, Saddam Hussein, made a sudden transition in the American consciousness from an obscure near-ally - granted commodities, high technology, weaponry, and even satellite intel­ligence data - to a slavering monster menacing the world. It was striking how quickly he could be brought from someone almost no American had heard of into the incarnation of evil.


You are just parroting what that media campaign taught you to think.


My wordy point is that the US did not invade for the good of the iraqi people, given the known history, who could possibly swallow that? Except of course the informationally challenged american public.


Our policy should be clear, we will do what ever it takes to prevail.


This of course lays bare the dynamo of your passion. You want to stay in Iraq, because you think (mistakenly in my view) it is best for the US. The Iraqi people don’t really enter into it.


I don’t know what should be done, but the US cannot simply act as an "honest broker". It is a participant in the horror, it is a primary cause. Give it another few years and you will actually have eclipsed SH in sheer numbers of deaths. Do you really want that on the US tab?


Get some credit by getting out now, and pay for the UN to sort this mess out. Oh, and Pray like hell that it works out, because rest assured if it doesn’t, you’ll deservedly be blamed for that too.


My advice? International law, binding on the US too. Longterm, it’s the only thing that will work.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/4788712.stm


A new form of Turkish Islam is emerging here, one which is pro-business and pro-free market, and it’s being called Islamic Calvinism.


While you chaps have been blowing stuff up, it has become increasingly difficult to convince a spooked EU citizenry that Turkey can make a responsible and positive contribution to the EU.


This is the model. Fight terrorism with law enforcment, strengthening international law in the process, and give generous assistance to the countries getting in their feet.

Brian, your faith in the UN is wholly misguided. When has the UN ever done anything worthwhile in its existence to end warfare that was not really a U.S. operation? Moreover, why should the U.S. not act in its own interest? That is what sovereign nations do, and it is the principle that guided American foreign policy at the Founding. Unfortunately, the Wilsonian internationalism had affected the Bush administration - and is at the root of your own love affair for the UN. You’re really not very different from Bush in your principles, at least when he’s arguing for a crusade rather than American national security interests.

Look, if the US really didn’t care about the Iraqi people we would’ve just lobbed a few nukes into Baghdad, and that would’ve been the end of it.

Baron - As with far too many comments here, I can’t tell if that’s serious or facetious.

Sounds like the ramblings of some psychopath: "If I really didn’t care about you, I would’ve slit your throat baby, but since I care about you, I just beat you to a pulp, broke your jaw, your ribs, both legs and an arm before I raped you for a week. When are you gonna appreciate my loving?"

You’re really not very different from Bush in your principles, at least when he’s arguing for a crusade rather than American national security interests.


Well I would never countenance the invasion and occupation of a country, even to enforce completely democratic and agreed international law. Thats the difference.


The law must be brought to bear on individuals, not entire countries.

Moreover, why should the U.S. not act in its own interest?


You have to look beyond short term national interest to the bigger picture.


Is it in our collective interest that the US spend $450 billion a year on weapons? Is it in our collective interest that the rest of the world meets that with their own $450 billion? Is it in our collective interest that thousands of nuclear weapons exist, enough to destroy the entire planet several times over?


Your national interest is at odds with the interest of the rest of the planet. That’s what national interest
is. A stupid, tribal zero sum game.


Long term, this argument will prevail. It has in every major developed nation state, and eventually it will globally because the alternative is dreadful. Planet Somalia, little fiefdoms expending finite resources watching, waiting and occasionaly warring.


That is truly depraved.

Sounds like the ramblings of some psychopath: "If I really didn’t care about you, I would’ve slit your throat baby, but since I care about you, I just beat you to a pulp, broke your jaw, your ribs, both legs and an arm before I raped you for a week. When are you gonna appreciate my loving?"


I found your comment loathsome, and unworthy of what is generally fairly even handed debate.


Your country invaded and trashed Iraq, yet somehow I’m the bad guy because I’m agonising over how best to deal with the hideous situation?


The most charitable interpretation would be to consider your posting some kind of projection.

Brian, no offense, but I don’t think you understood J. Montgomery’s post. He or she was mocking Baron’s comment (number 7), in which Baron basically suggests that Iraq should be grateful that we didn’t just nuke ’em.

Brian, no offense, but I don’t think you understood J. Montgomery’s post. He or she was mocking Baron’s comment (number 7), in which Baron basically suggests that Iraq should be grateful that we didn’t just nuke ’em.


oooops that was embarrasing. Still a pretty nasty comment, regardless whom it was directed at.

Maybe so, but don’t you think the sentiment in comment 7 was pretty nasty itself?

Maybe so, but don’t you think the sentiment in comment 7 was pretty nasty itself?


It’s appalling, I think I just censored that one right out.


Thats horrific all on it’s own ... sigh.

Brian, I’m not suggesting that America look only after its short-term interest. America should look after its own interests for as long as it exists. If that is harmonious with other nations, then great. If it is out of line with some or all other nations, that’s fine too. We’ll protect and defend our constitution and liberty, and other nations must do the same for themselves. You should read George Washington’s Farewell Address for an expression of the American mind on this. Your One World vision makes me feel warm and fuzzy, but it’s out of harmony with human nature and human history.

Coughlan, there are many people who want to nuke you but they can’t. They don’t have nukes. They would gladly slit your throat but you’re tucked away in sunny Sweden so they can’t get to you...yet. Every one of them is a muslim. WE AMERICANS DO NOT WANT TO HURT YOU so quit sighing.

There are only 3 ways to deal with the threat of islam:

1. We can nuke them;

2. We can opt for your approach, to subjucate ourselves to them; or,

3. We can try to democratize their countries so that their own political/legal systems will control them.

You have stated in the past that you refuse to read the koran to attempt to understand this. That’s o.k. I’ve read the koran for you. The violence in the world is not our fault. It’s in the koran. It’s dictated by the koran. Whether you accept this or not, the fact is that the United States of America is acting in your best interest as well as our own.

Your suggestion that the U.N. take over must be based on ignorance of the failures of the U.N. in the recent past and ignorance of the nature of the terrorism in Iraq. Have you really thought this through? Do you really think the terrorists will stop if the U.N. takes the place of coalition troops? Are you that naive?

And yes we have bigger bombs than everyone else. That’s how we won the cold war.

It’s in the koran. It’s dictated by the koran. Whether you accept this or not, the fact is that the United States of America is acting in your best interest as well as our own.


It’s in the bible too. Have you never read any Thomas Paine?


Whenever we read the obscene stories, the voluptuous debaucheries, the cruel and torturous executions, the unrelenting vindictiveness, with which more than half the Bible [NOTE: It must be borne in mind that by the "Bible" Paine always means the Old Testament alone.--Editer.] is filled, it would be more consistent that we called it the word of a demon, than the Word of God. It is a history of wickedness, that has served to corrupt and brutalize mankind; and, for my own part, I sincerely detest it, as I detest everything that is cruel.


There are a billion muslims in the world, most are moderate. Some are not. Just like christians. The moderates have the good sense to sift the wheat from the chaff in their "holy book" just like moderate christians do. Demonising an entire culture is exactly the way that dreadful wars start, and are justified. The 2nd WW being a graphic case in point.


Do you really think the terrorists will stop if the U.N. takes the place of coalition troops? Are you that naive?


You no doubt were gung ho for this war. Now that it’s a disaster zone, you are having a go at me for suggesting a different tack:-) No sense of irony ... they say that about americans:-) So I’m prejudiced too.


I don’t know, but there does seem broad consensus, in the rest of the world, and even in the US now, that the US is part of the problem.


That guy Murtha seems to make some sense, and isn’t he some decorated military guy, in with the in crowd? What do you know, that he doesn’t know?


The vision of the most powerful country on earth holding a rag tag bunch of unlucky sheep herders captive and subjecting them to torture must surely signal the death knell for this endeavour.


The US has already lost it’s reputation, pack it in before you loose your soul.

Still proffering subjugation eh Coughlan? Yes I was for winning the war. I am for winning the peace and I am againsts Islamists raping Swedish girls. Aren’t you?

Still proffering subjugation eh Coughlan? Yes I was for winning the war. I am for winning the peace and I am againsts Islamists raping Swedish girls. Aren’t you?


No. Is the short answer to all of the above.


Your comments are the classic attempt to dehumanise the "other". I live in Sweden, so by direct observation and experience, I know that this odious characterisation is untrue.


In the balkans the serbs, croats and bosnians circulated atrocitie stories before things really got going, specifically to get things going.


The nazis spread vile and horrendous myths about the jews.


The Roman authorities accused the christians of cannibalism.


What you are doing is nothing new, it’s just profoundly depressing in it’s familiarity.

You forgot:

We made up the twin tower bombing out of whole cloth. You’re right Coughlan Islam is not a threat. That girl was not raped in Sweden, they’re not rioting all over the world, they didn’t bomb trains in Spain, subways and buses in London, U.S. ships in Yemen, embassies in north Africa, barracks in Beirut, hotels in Indonesia and Jordan, etc. etc. etc. going back 1400 years and Muslims are o.k. with cartoons. We neo nazis are making it all up.

It is midnight here in Boxerland. Good night Coughlan.

We neo nazis are making it all up.


I never said that. Who knows, maybe some croat did kill a serbian baby, and vice versa? Once these things get going who can tell?


You are taking all of these incidents, some acts of terrorism, some local criminal justice issues, some true, some false, a pinch of vile "old testament" stuff from the Koran and weaving it into a globe spanning conspiracy to destroy the richest, most powerful and heavily armed nation on the face of the earth. Ever.


What a crock. What a gullible credulous individual you must be to spout this drivel.


Add Europe in there, and together we account for 50% of the global economy and 75% of the arms spending. We can afford to take the high road, and think of the longterm benefit for humanity.


People are people everywhere. The credulous and gullible on their side say the same stuff about americans. Case in point, that Turkish movie, with the scene in it where american troops murder a whole bunch of people at a wedding party. The bride the groom, and kids and all.


Pretty outrageous huh? Hurts doesn’t it? Do I believe that happened? No. That too is a crock.


Guido, you have to be alert to the bull from both sides.

Coughlan you lied. You said you were going to work.

You are taking all of these incidents, some acts of terrorism, some local criminal justice issues, some true, some false, a pinch of vile "old testament" stuff from the Koran and weaving it into a globe spanning conspiracy to destroy the richest, most powerful and heavily armed nation on the face of the earth. Ever.

What a crock. What a gullible credulous individual you

It’s not me. They believe it. Can’t you see?

They’re not rioting because they don’t like cartoons. They’re rioting because their imams tell them the koran dictates that they riot. Who’s the gullible one here? You or me? Let’s take a vote. I vote you. Voting’s closed. I win.

Coughlan you lied. You said you were going to work.


Couldn’t help myself:-) I am at work. I work from home. Stop distracting me!!!! I blame you, @{}~: Americans!!!

Brian, I’ve noticed that whenever anyone asks you a question about the efficacy of UN troops in stopping wars, genocides, and murders, your favorite tactic is to start denoucing the US as a war-mongering country that engages in wars, genocides, and murders while being detested by the "international community and opinion" while you conveniently sidestep the question. Your love of peace is admirable - the Greek playwrights praised manliness and courage even as they wrote the peace was obviously better than war - but I think even you realize that your vision does not work and will not work. Now, if you simply want to play the role of a gadfly, that’s fine with me but let’s hear some serious evidence and arguments about your vision rather than glittering generalities about peace and attacks on the U.S.

Now, if you simply want to play the role of a gadfly, that’s fine with me but let’s hear some serious evidence and arguments about your vision rather than glittering generalities about peace and attacks on the U.S.


OK, thats fair.


Firstly the UN is what we have currently and not my ideal. This should be no surprise, and I’ve said it many times before on this site. What we need long-term to prevent war, is uniform law binding on all individuals globally regardless of nationality.


Secondly, what you are detecting I suspect, is my own vacillation about whether a US withdrawal would in fact make things worse. This should in no way whatever detract from the basic principle that the US is squarely to blame for this catastrophe, that is a given. Iraq should never have been invaded. However, we are were we are, and withdrawal resulting in meltdown is a real risk. That said, things are currently getting worse anyway. So I’m tipping towards change of plan at this stage.


So why do I think handing over to the UN would be a good idea.


1) The terrorist attacks (often by Iraqis) are frequently against the US troops. Replacing these with troops from the middle east would make justification for attacks a lot harder.


Blowing up pork eating infidels who are occupying the lands of Islam and raping the women, is very different from blowing up fellow muslims.


2) The US is too secretive about what it is up to. There is broad scepticism that what we hear is in any sense reflective of reality. Given everything that has happened to date, this is a fairly reasonable stance, and unlikely to change.


The UN, on the other hand will have independent observers on the ground, in a much better position to monitor what the occupying forces actually do.


3) This could work if the US would :
a) Pay for it.
b) Supply air support and satellite reconnaissance, under continuing US control of course, but relatively available to the UN if things get hairy.


4) The ICC should be involved from the outset, with a view to telegraphing in advance to the various parties that the ICC is watching, and recording.


The recent death of Milosevic in custody, is a timely reminder that international law is no longer a (completely) toothless crone. She does have one or two canines that can be brought to bear.


5) It is true to say that the UN has a mixed record. However like the first confederacy the UN is to an even greater degree at the mercy of the member states.


It has no military, it cannot tax directly and any laws agreed are in effect non binding gentleman’s agreements.


Notwithstanding these significant structural problems, the UN has been modestly successful on many occasions. Details here : http://www.un.org/Depts/dpko/dpko/index.asp


The UN’s problems stem from the nation states, not the other way round. To quote Hamilton Federalist 15 :


Each State, yielding to the persuasive voice of immediate interest or convenience, has successively withdrawn its support, till the frail and tottering edifice seems ready to fall upon our heads, and to crush us beneath its ruins.


In an association where the general authority is confined to the collective bodies of the communities, that compose it, every breach of the laws must involve a state of war; and military execution must become the only instrument of civil obedience.


Such a state of things can certainly not deserve the name of government, nor would any prudent man choose to commit his happiness to it.


I hope I’m not going to get the same tired blizzard of "buts" and "hang on a seconds". I know Hamilton was not talking about global governance.


However he was talking about governance in general and the principle he illustrates is clear, and very, very sound.


Read all of Federalist 15 and it is blindingly obvious where the problem lies with global governance. Or if you need a biblical quote : No man can have two masters. Either he will love the one .... etc.


Nation states must pool their sovereignty for the collective good. It’s that simple.


It’s going to happen eventually because the alternative sucks so badly that either we will wake up before it happens, or after. But we will wake up.

.It’s not me. They believe it. Can’t you see?


Sure.


I can see that a tiny minority believe it.


However, thats not grounds to template that view onto a billion people.


Fundamental christians were blowing up abortion clinics and killing doctors fairly recently in the US. Are they representative of christians everywhere?


Guido, these stereotypical templates you spout about are dangerous. To talk about swedish women being gang raped by crowds of focused muslim operatives is calculated to inflame all the most basic passions in men, and harness them to do violence. This always ends with picking up the pieces.


So lets just skip the killing, slaughter and murder bit, and leap straight to the picking up the pieces.

Coughlan:

Your idea is brilliant. Fortunately, it’s already underway, courtesy of the policies of the George W. Bush administration and the United States military. Read this...please:

http://www.boredsoldier.blogspot.com/

Your idea is brilliant. Fortunately, it’s already underway, courtesy of the policies of the George W. Bush administration and the United States military. Read this...please:


hmmpfh ....


Thats a good blog. I’ve favourite placed it for further reading.


This is a good opprotunity to say that the majority of american soldiers are like this guy. Basically average americans, who in the main are decent people. Good to read this kind of blog from time to time.


My beef is generally higher up the chain, with people who organise missile strikes, knowing it will cause the death of innocents ... but enough said. This guy really does give one hope.


As someone who has lived in Ireland, I’m familiar with the concept of "dangerous far away war zones". People hear the worst about these places, and thats the overwhelming impression that is left. So having someone locally on the ground giving a more balanced view is good.


I am of course I am reading such blogs in particular I read this one, and it’s generally less positive than this US soldier, http://riverbendblog.blogspot.com/.


Although I don’t from his blog see a coherent US policy emerging, I see that people like him are pivotal in a situation like this. Good luck to him and I hope he stays safe.

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