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Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Francis Fukuyama versus the neocons?

It appears that well known neocon thinker Francis Fukuyama has had a re-think. There's an extract from his book in today's Guardian.
Here's some of it:
There were other reasons why the world did not accept American benevolent hegemony. In the first place, it was premised on the idea that America could use its power in instances where others could not because it was more virtuous than other countries. Another problem with benevolent hegemony was domestic. Although most Americans want to do what is necessary to make the rebuilding of Iraq succeed, the aftermath of the invasion did not increase the public appetite for further costly interventions. Americans are not, at heart, an imperial people.
Now that the neoconservative moment appears to have passed, the US needs to reconceptualise its foreign policy. First, we need to demilitarise what we have been calling the global war on terrorism and shift to other policy instruments. We are fighting 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. Meeting the jihadist challenge needs 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.

Here's the damning section:
The war's supporters seemed to think that democracy was a default condition to which societies reverted once coercive regime change occurred, rather than a long-term process of institution-building and reform. Neoconservatism, as a political symbol and a body of thought, has evolved into something I can no longer support.
Remember Fukuyama had signed up to the 'Statement of Principles' for the major neocon base Project for the New American Century in 1997.

He's also said the blindingly obvious which few of the pro-war people particularly in the UK would say because of the utter contradictory nature of their actions:
The most basic misjudgment was an overestimation of the threat facing the US from radical Islamism. Although the ominous possibility of undeterrable terrorists armed with WMD did present itself, advocates of the war wrongly conflated this with the threat presented by Iraq and with the rogue state/proliferation problem.

But some comments are dubious to say the least:
What we need are new ideas for how America is to relate to the world - ideas that retain the neoconservative belief in the universality of human rights
To be polite, the concern for human rights is not something that the neocons have put into practice. In fact Fukayama's statement is quite perverse in the light of what we know about the people neocons have supported over the years.

I haven't checked and so he may say something about it in his book but I wonder what Fukayama now thinks of his infamous idea concerning 'the end of history' which seems flatly contradicted by events of recent years.


Anonymous kww said...

I had somehow missed the neocon concern for human rights. Not half as much though as those kidnapped and tortured in the new American gulags and 'rendition' camps. All in the name of democracy and civilization.

February 22, 2006

Blogger J. B. Hood said...

My undergrad work was in Intl Studies (politics, theory, etc), and FF was a major player then as now.

I think the "concern for human rights" that he claims neo-cons possess is the "preservation" of democratic western civ against (early) fascism and especially communism and various socialist governments which wind up restraining human rights such as property, prosperity, individual choice.

In a nutshell, I think FF and other neo-cons simply see themselves as offering a different(they think "superior") battery of human rights to those offered by leftists.

I could be wrong on all this, though--it's been a while! It's important to revisit it, though, as I have to spend a fair amount of time deconstructing some such thoughts among US Xians.

February 22, 2006


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