The Flawed Premise of Nation-Building
Writing in the Claremont Review of Books, Mark Helprin argues
that the central proposition of American foreign policy over the last decade is fundamentally flawed. Our belief that we are capable of transforming a single Islamic nation--or the entire Arab world--into friendly liberal democracies with respect for human rights and international security is dangerous and negligent of history, according to Helprin. I am inclined to agree with him. While men have a natural desire for freedom and are capable of self-government, it takes a long time for a nation to reach that point-- and the Islamic nations as a whole are not entirely ready for that. The "evangelical" foreign policy of the United States in the ten years following the September 11th attacks has been futile, and we are in just as much danger today as we were ten years ago.
"To succeed, a paradigm of "invade, reconstruct, and transform," requires the decisive defeat, disarmament, and political isolation of the enemy; the demoralization of its population; the destruction of its political ethos; and the presence, at the end of hostilities, of overwhelming force. In Iraq and Afghanistan none of these conditions was fulfilled, the opposite impression flowing mainly from our contacts predominantly with an expressive, Western-educated elite, and from our failure to understand that despite the universal desire for freedom, equity, safety, honor, and prosperity, the operational definitions of each of these objectives can vary so much as to render the quality of universality meaningless."
We need to reinvent our foreign policy if we are to achieve its primary goal: the safety of the American people and their interests. We ought to support the cause of human liberty, yes, but not at the expense of our security, and with an understanding of the world around us. Read the whole thing
9:10 PM / September 13, 2011
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