Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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Fukuyama’s latest

In today’s WSJ, Francis Fukuyama and Adam Garfinkle offer their prescription for pursuing the Bush Administration’s goals of fighting terrorism and promoting democracy in the Middle East. While acknowledging that the two might have some connection in the long run, they argue that the better policy now is to decouple them:

Democracy promotion should remain an integral part of American foreign policy, but it should not be seen as a principal means of fighting terrorism. We should stigmatize and fight radical Islamism as if the social and political dysfunction of the Arab world did not exist, and we should shrewdly, quietly, patiently and with as many allies as possible promote the amelioration of that dysfunction as if the terrorist problem did not exist. It is when we mix these two issues together that we muddle our understanding of both, with the result that we neither defeat terrorism nor promote democracy but rather the reverse.

They’re surely right that democracy doesn’t in the first instance yield results we find congenial; democracy isn’t in its nature liberal in the classical sense. And they’re surely right that political dysfunction in the Middle East isn’t the sole cause of terrorism, that the failure of Western European countries adequately to integrate immigrant populations has something to do with it as well.

But I wonder whether their policy prescription is realistic, given the climate of public opinion in the U.S. They treat the GWOT as largely a low profile police and intelligence action. And they treat democracy promotion as something that should also be low profile, with as much distance from official U.S. policy as possible. This would ultimately disengage the public from both ends, which would indeed leave them to the experts, but it would also, I think, substantially diminish public support for them. You want isolationism? Then go this route.

It seems to me that the only obvious differences--and they’re non-negligible--between Fukuyama and the Democrats are, first, that FF wouldn’t basically give up on our military commitments in Iraq and Afghanistan and, second, that FF wouldn’t put as many eggs in the UN basket. Would the Democrats welcome him as a defector? Perhaps. Would he be influential there? On the first, no. On the second, why not? I think that his position, especially on Iraq, would prevent someone like HRC from courting him before the nomination was in hand, but I can imagine Fukuyama as an integral part of any Democratic candidate’s post-nomination effort to move toward the center. Wave bye-bye.

Update: Jon Schaff has more. He reminds of a piece that Fukuyama would do well to re-read: Charles H. Fairbanks’s "The British Campaign Against the Slave Trade," published in Marc Plattner’s Human Rights in Our Time, unfortunately long out of print. If you can’t find it any other way, send me an email and I’ll do what I can about getting you a copy of the essay.

Discussions - 2 Comments

I always wondered why the fascination with Francis Fukuyama -- from an academic point of view, almost everything FF has written about has been discredited as way too simplistic or simply wrong. FF writes well, but not with a lot of substance -- but I guess that’s what gets attention.

It seems to me that the only obvious differences--and they’re non-negligible--between Fukuyama and the Democrats are, first, that FF wouldn’t basically give up on our military commitments in Iraq and Afghanistan and, second, that FF wouldn’t put as many eggs in the UN basket. Would the Democrats welcome him as a defector? Perhaps. Would he be influential there? On the first, no. On the second, why not?

The Democrats are as divided on WOT as the GOP used to be on the New Deal and Dr. Win the war. The fact is, both FDR and Reagan unleashed a complex realignment of ideological and political forces, of which, left their respective intellectual heirs and parties traversing upon predictable trends of offense and defense --Think of Dean’s bellicose "In your heart you know he’s right" ongoing campaign.

Honestly, does anyone actually argue that America is on the cusp of a G. Washington-induced nativist withdrawal from the world around us? Get real. Give us the world or give us death!

Democratically of course. :)

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