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The Paradox of International Action

Old 03-20-06, 08:25 AM
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The Paradox of International Action

Has anyone read this article, or Dr. Fukuyama's new book? I'm curious what others might think.

Here's an excerpt of the article, from <a href = "http://www.the-american-interest.com/cms/abstract.cfm?Id=45">The American Interest website.</a> I've not yet read the piece myself.

<b>The Paradox of International Action</b>
Francis Fukuyama

<i>Editor's Note: This essay, adapted from a chapter in the forthcoming <b>America at the Crossroads: Democracy, Power and the Neoconservative Legacy</b> (Yale University Press), is the foundational introduction for a series of essays on global governance issues to appear in this and future issues of The American Interest.</i>

Whatever else it has done and may yet do, the Iraq war has exposed the limits of American benevolent hegemony. We have learned that American power does not seem to many others, including some we thought among our best friends, as benign as most Americans believe it is. But the war also exposed the limits of existing international institutions, particularly the United Nations, that are favored by most Europeans as the proper framework for legitimate international action. The United Nations was able neither to ratify the U.S. decision to go to war nor to stop Washington from acting on its own. From either perspective, it failed. The world today lacks effective international institutions that can confer legitimacy on collective action. Creating new institutions that will better balance the requirements of legitimacy and effectiveness will be the primary task for the coming generation. As a result of more than two hundred years of political evolution, we have a relatively good understanding of how to create institutions that are rule-bound, accountable and reasonably effective in the vertical silos we call states. What we do not have are adequate institutions of horizontal accountability among states.
You have to subscribe to read the full article. I'm not (yet) a subscriber...

There's also this article, which requires a subscription to <i>The New York Times</i>:

<b><a href = "http://select.nytimes.com/search/restricted/article?res=FA071EF6395A0C7A8DDDAB0894DE404482">After Neoconservatism</b></a>

<b>hahn</b> has already started this thread about it, which was sadly not well-received:

http://forum.dvdtalk.com/showthread.php?t=456482
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Old 03-20-06, 08:31 AM
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Naturally anything from The New York Times will be dismissed - rightfully so.

Now, if you wish to post something from a more reliable source, The Washington Times, Fox News, or The Weekly Standard - then it will be gladly accepted.



Creating new institutions that will better balance the requirements of legitimacy and effectiveness will be the primary task for the coming generation.

Do you really agree with that?

I'm not certain I do.
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Old 03-20-06, 08:44 AM
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Originally Posted by classicman2
Naturally anything from The New York Times will be dismissed - rightfully so.

Now, if you wish to post something from a more reliable source, The Washington Times, Fox News, or The Weekly Standard - then it will be gladly accepted.

Anybody stupid enough to dismiss an article or essay simply because it's published in the <i>NYT</i> deserves to remain ignorant. The fact that publication publishes pieces written by scholars like Krugman and Fukuyama demonstrates its commitment to a wide range of views.
Originally Posted by classicman2
Creating new institutions that will better balance the requirements of legitimacy and effectiveness will be the primary task for the coming generation.

Do you really agree with that?

I'm not certain I do.
I don't know that I agree with it. However, I respect Dr. Fukuyama's insight and knowledge, and would argue that if he suggests something then it probably shouldn't be dismissed blithely.

I think what Fukuyama is arguing is that neither the UN (through multilateral action) nor the US (through unilateral action) are able to solve all the problems that need to be and should be solved. A new formula for action is required, one involving multilateralism, but without the baggage of the UN. I dunno, it seems like a useful starting off point for discussion, at least.
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Old 03-20-06, 08:47 AM
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There's also this piece by Christopher Hitchens:
<a href = "http://www.slate.com/id/2137134/"><b>The End of Fukuyama</b></a>
Why his latest pronouncements miss the mark.
By Christopher Hitchens
Posted Wednesday, March 1, 2006, at 6:59 AM ET

America at the Crossroads, by Francis Fukuyama
I have a feeling that last week was a disappointing one for Francis Fukuyama, whose essay "After Neoconservatism" (adapted from his upcoming book America at the Crossroads) was awarded seven pages in the Feb. 19 New York Times Magazine. The anti-Danish mayhem that had been dominating the news was surpassed by the fantastic criminality and sacrilege in Samarra, and nobody seemed to have time for the best-advertised defection from the neocon ranks. This, I think, is a pity, since the essay exhibits several points of interest.

However, it must also be said that Fukuyama himself made it hard for people to concentrate on his words. There appears to be an arsenal of clichés and stock expressions located somewhere inside his word processor, so that he has only to touch the keyboard for one of them to spring abruptly onto the page. Thus, in the first paragraph, we are told that Iraq has become "a magnet" for jihadists, later that democracy-promotion has been attacked both from the left and (gasp) the right, later that neocons have issues with "overreaching," and soon after that "it is not an accident" that many neoconservatives started out as "Trotskyites."

Not everyone will appreciate the unironic beauty of those last two formulations; they will appeal most to the few who are connoisseurs of leftist sectarianism. The opening words, "It is no accident, comrades," used to be the dead giveaway of a wooden Stalinist hack (who would also make use of the deliberately diminishing term Trotskyite instead of Trotskyist). And these nuances matter, because Fukuyama now tells us that the book that made him famous, The End of History and the Last Man (1992), "presented a kind of Marxist argument for the existence of a long-term process of social evolution, but one that terminates in liberal democracy rather than communism." Alas, the purity of his Marxism was soon to be corrupted by the likes of William Kristol and Robert Kagan, whose position was "by contrast, Leninist; they believed that history can be pushed along with the right application of power and will. Leninism was a tragedy in its Bolshevik version, and it has returned as farce when practiced by the United States." Pause to note, then, that even the advocate of the new foreign-policy "realism" feels compelled to borrow the most overused anti-Hegelian line from Karl Marx's 18th Brumaire.

For all this show of knowledge about the arcana of Marxism and Straussianism, Fukuyama's actual applications of them are surprisingly thin. It is not even a parody of the Trotskyist position to say that the lesson they drew from Stalinism was "the danger of good intentions carried to extremes." Nor is it even half-true to say, of those who advocated an intervention in Iraq, that they concluded "that the 'root cause' of terrorism lay in the Middle East's lack of democracy, that the United States had both the wisdom and the ability to fix this problem and that democracy would come quickly and painlessly to Iraq."

The first requirement of anyone engaging in an intellectual or academic debate is that he or she be able to give a proper account of the opposing position(s), and Fukuyama simply fails this test. The term "root causes" was always employed ironically (as the term "political correctness" used to be) as a weapon against those whose naive opinions about the sources of discontent were summarized in that phrase. It wasn't that the Middle East "lacked democracy" so much that one of its keystone states was dominated by an unstable and destabilizing dictatorship led by a psychopath. And it wasn't any illusion about the speed and ease of a transition so much as the conviction that any change would be an improvement. The charge that used to be leveled against the neoconservatives was that they had wanted to get rid of Saddam Hussein (pause for significant lowering of voice) even before Sept. 11, 2001. And that "accusation," as Fukuyama well knows, was essentially true—and to their credit.

The three questions that anyone developing second thoughts about the Iraq conflict must answer are these: Was the George H.W. Bush administration right to confirm Saddam Hussein in power after his eviction from Kuwait in 1991? Is it right to say that we had acquired a responsibility for Iraq, given past mistaken interventions and given the great moral question raised by the imposition of sanctions? And is it the case that another confrontation with Saddam was inevitable; those answering "yes" thus being implicitly right in saying that we, not he, should choose the timing of it? Fukuyama does not even mention these considerations. Instead, by his slack use of terms like "magnet," he concedes to the fanatics and beheaders the claim that they are a response to American blunders and excesses.

That's why last week was a poor one for him to pick. Surely the huge spasm of Islamist hysteria over caricatures published in Copenhagen shows that there is no possible Western insurance against doing something that will inflame jihadists? The sheer audacity and evil of destroying the shrine of the 12th imam is part of an inter-Muslim civil war that had begun long before the forces of al-Qaida decided to exploit that war and also to export it to non-Muslim soil. Yes, we did indeed underestimate the ferocity and ruthlessness of the jihadists in Iraq. Where, one might inquire, have we not underestimated those forces and their virulence? (We are currently underestimating them in Nigeria, for example, which is plainly next on the Bin Laden hit list and about which I have been boring on ever since Bin Laden was good enough to warn us in the fall of 2004.)

In the face of this global threat and its recent and alarmingly rapid projection onto European and American soil, Fukuyama proposes beefing up "the State Department, U.S.A.I.D., the National Endowment for Democracy and the like." You might expect a citation from a Pew poll at about this point, and, don't worry, he doesn't leave that out, either. But I have to admire that vague and lazy closing phrase "and the like." Hegel meets Karen Hughes! Perhaps some genius at the CIA is even now preparing to subsidize a new version of Encounter magazine to be circulated among the intellectuals of Kashmir or Kabul or Kazakhstan? Not such a bad idea in itself, perhaps, but no substitute for having a battle-hardened army that has actually learned from fighting in the terrible conditions of rogue-state/failed-state combat. Is anyone so blind as to suppose that we shall not be needing this hard-bought experience in the future?

I have my own criticisms both of my one-time Trotskyist comrades and of my temporary neocon allies, but it can be said of the former that they saw Hitlerism and Stalinism coming—and also saw that the two foes would one day fuse together—and so did what they could to sound the alarm. And it can be said of the latter (which, alas, it can't be said of the former) that they looked at Milosevic and Saddam and the Taliban and realized that they would have to be confronted sooner rather than later. Fukuyama's essay betrays a secret academic wish to be living in "normal" times once more, times that will "restore the authority of foreign policy 'realists' in the tradition of Henry Kissinger." Fat chance, Francis! Kissinger is moribund, and the memory of his failed dictator's club is too fresh to be dignified with the term "tradition." If you can't have a sense of policy, you should at least try to have a sense of history. America at the Crossroads evidently has neither.
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Old 03-20-06, 08:49 AM
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Originally Posted by wendersfan
I think what Fukuyama is arguing is that neither the UN (through multilateral action) nor the US (through unilateral action) are able to solve all the problems that need to be and should be solved. A new formula for action is required, one involving multilateralism, but without the baggage of the UN. I dunno, it seems like a useful starting off point for discussion, at least.
That's what I think he's arguing also.

Question: If it's not unilateral nor multilateral, what else is there?
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Old 03-20-06, 08:52 AM
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Originally Posted by classicman2
That's what I think he's arguing also.

Question: If it's not unilateral nor multilateral, what else is there?
He's arguing for multilateral solutions, just not ones involving the UN (at least, that's how I'm reading it).
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Old 03-20-06, 08:55 AM
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Don't we have that capability already - NATO?
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Old 03-20-06, 09:00 AM
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Originally Posted by classicman2
Don't we have that capability already - NATO?
NATO is (a) a holdover from the cold war, and (b) in many ways a relic from a no longer relavent "Atlanti-centric" world view. What can NATO do with respect to North Korea? To Iran?

Oh, and here's the pertinent section from Fukuyama's NYT piece:
Originally Posted by Francis Fukuyama
<b>What to Do</b>

Now that the neoconservative moment appears to have passed, the United States needs to reconceptualize its foreign policy in several fundamental ways. In the first instance, we need to demilitarize what we have been calling the global war on terrorism and shift to other types of policy instruments. We are fighting hot counterinsurgency wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and against the international jihadist movement, wars in which we need to prevail. But ''war'' is the wrong metaphor for the broader struggle, since wars are fought at full intensity and have clear beginnings and endings. Meeting the jihadist challenge is more of a ''long, twilight struggle'' whose core is not a military campaign but a political contest for the hearts and minds of ordinary Muslims around the world. As recent events in France and Denmark suggest, Europe will be a central battleground in this fight.

The United States needs to come up with something better than ''coalitions of the willing'' to legitimate its dealings with other countries. The world today lacks effective international institutions that can confer legitimacy on collective action; creating new organizations that will better balance the dual requirements of legitimacy and effectiveness will be the primary task for the coming generation. As a result of more than 200 years of political evolution, we have a relatively good understanding of how to create institutions that are rulebound, accountable and reasonably effective in the vertical silos we call states. What we do not have are adequate mechanisms of horizontal accountability among states.

The conservative critique of the United Nations is all too cogent: while useful for certain peacekeeping and nation-building operations, the United Nations lacks both democratic legitimacy and effectiveness in dealing with serious security issues. The solution is not to strengthen a single global body, but rather to promote what has been emerging in any event, a ''multi-multilateral world'' of overlapping and occasionally competing international institutions that are organized on regional or functional lines. Kosovo in 1999 was a model: when the Russian veto prevented the Security Council from acting, the United States and its NATO allies simply shifted the venue to NATO, where the Russians could not block action.
Note he mentions NATO explicitly.
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Old 03-20-06, 09:07 AM
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I have my own criticisms both of my one-time Trotskyist comrades and of my temporary neocon allies,

I llike that.

Fukuyama's essay betrays a secret academic wish to be living in "normal" times once more, times that will "restore the authority of foreign policy 'realists' in the tradition of Henry Kissinger." Fat chance, Francis!
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Old 03-20-06, 10:45 AM
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Originally Posted by wendersfan
I think what Fukuyama is arguing is that neither the UN (through multilateral action) nor the US (through unilateral action) are able to solve all the problems that need to be and should be solved. A new formula for action is required, one involving multilateralism, but without the baggage of the UN. I dunno, it seems like a useful starting off point for discussion, at least.
An obvious solution would be the United States actually working with and through the United Nations. It seems an obvious point that multilateral actions would work better than unilateral actions -- look at the difference between the first Gulf War and the current Iraqi conflict as a perfect illustration of why no one country should try to police the world by themselves.

What we really need is a UN with teeth -- a fully-funded body with an active and expanded peacekeeping force backed by the combined militaries of the major world powers. We also need to dismiss the "caste system" that says that people from underdeveloped countries are incapable of being considered signifiant participants in world diplomacy.
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Old 03-20-06, 10:51 AM
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Originally Posted by NCMojo
An obvious solution would be the United States actually working with and through the United Nations. It seems an obvious point that multilateral actions would work better than unilateral actions -- look at the difference between the first Gulf War and the current Iraqi conflict as a perfect illustration of why no one country should try to police the world by themselves.

What we really need is a UN with teeth -- a fully-funded body with an active and expanded peacekeeping force backed by the combined militaries of the major world powers. We also need to dismiss the "caste system" that says that people from underdeveloped countries are incapable of being considered signifiant participants in world diplomacy.
1. There is no comparison between the Gulf War and the War in Iraq. One involved kicking an invader out - the other, occupying.

2. What the last thing we need is the U.N. deciding foreign policy for the United States.
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Old 03-20-06, 10:53 AM
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Originally Posted by NCMojo
An obvious solution would be the United States actually working with and through the United Nations.
This "obvious" solution is obviously flawed, because
Originally Posted by NCMojo
...a UN with teeth
is an oxymoron. The reasons why we can't
Originally Posted by NCMojo
...dismiss the "caste system" that says that people from underdeveloped countries are incapable of being considered signifiant participants in world diplomacy.
should also be obvious.
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Old 03-20-06, 11:08 AM
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Dr. F is correct that neither unilateralism with a single world power nor the current UN seem to be as effective, fair, or useful as possible. In that I agree. However, I have yet to hear a solution that is bound in the real world and can be applied practically.
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Old 03-20-06, 11:09 AM
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Geez, even when the rare thread worth discussing shows up someone immediately comes in and has to take potshots at other members.
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Old 03-20-06, 11:11 AM
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Originally Posted by X
Geez, even when the rare thread worth discussing shows up someone immediately comes in and has to take potshots at other members.


I'm not seeing it, unless you are referring to c-man's initial response, or my response to his NYT comment.
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Old 03-20-06, 11:17 AM
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I've taken no pot shots at any member - certainly not on this thread.
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Old 03-20-06, 11:17 AM
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Yes, I mean talking about attacking the publisher even though nobody has.
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Old 03-20-06, 11:19 AM
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Originally Posted by X
Yes, I mean talking about attacking the publisher even though nobody has.
I wasn't attacking the publisher.

I was merely poking fun.

Lighten up.
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Old 03-20-06, 11:20 AM
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"Talking about attacking the publisher" does not mean "attacking the publisher".
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Old 03-20-06, 11:27 AM
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That's correct - they don't mean the same thing.

One - I'm not attacking the publisher. I'm talking about people (conservatives, right-wingers, Bushites) on this forum who do question the authenticity of any thing coming from the NY Times, Washington Post, etc., believing they have a liberal bias.

Of course - the opposite is true. The liberals, left-wingers, and those that aren't Bushites attack Fox and other more conservative leaning media outlets.
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Old 03-20-06, 11:29 AM
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Duh. Thus my comment.
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Old 03-20-06, 12:23 PM
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Originally Posted by X
Geez, even when the rare thread worth discussing shows up someone immediately comes in and has to take potshots at other members.
Surely you see the irony in this post, as discussion has now ground to a halt.
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Old 03-20-06, 12:34 PM
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I like the idea of multilaterialism, but not necessarily needing the full consensus of the UN. When we take military action, we need to be seen in a good light by our friends, something that did not happen with respect to the Iraq invasion. We don't need complete support from the world, but we need to be seen as on the politically/morally correct side of the issue when we do need to use military force. We are also hamstrung to get anything done with respect to Iran because of Russia's and China's involvement in the security council.
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Old 03-20-06, 12:39 PM
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Not to be argumentative, but if a vital national interest of the United States is at stake, and we've exhausted all efforts at resolving the issue, is it really necessary to be on the right side of the issue? Most of the world is going to believe we're on the wrong side, regardless of the realty.

I think it's nearly impossible to be seen in good light by our friends if their interests conflict with ours as was the case in Iraq.
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Old 03-20-06, 12:47 PM
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Originally Posted by classicman2
Not to be argumentative, but if a vital national interest of the United States is at stake, and we've exhausted all efforts at resolving the issue, is it really necessary to be on the right side of the issue? Most of the world is going to believe we're on the wrong side, regardless of the realty.

I think it's nearly impossible to be seen in good light by our friends if their interests conflict with ours as was the case in Iraq.
Shouldn't the United States always be on the "right" side of the issue? I think a good part of the decline our current international reputation is that we have abandoned our position as a nation that truly stands for liberty and for freedom -- today, we're much more interested in promoting corporate concerns and feeding the mighty machine of capitalist consumption.
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