A New Can Of Worms
21 June 2003
More From Lieven
Some how I don't think historians will agree with the below.
"From this point of view, Clinton may well be justifiably seen by future generations as a particularly intelligent and valuable servant of American imperial capitalism, in a way that went beyond diplomatic cleverness. He seems to have understood three things that the Bush Administration has wholly or partly forgotten: that the American economy is utterly intertwined with the world capitalist order, depends on the health of that order and draws immense benefits from that order. This is indeed likely to be seen by future historians as the central tragic irony of the Bush Administration's world policy: that the United States, which of all states today should feel like a satisfied power, is instead behaving like a revolutionary one, kicking to pieces the hill of which it is king.
Clinton's policy, by contrast, was much more that of a stable hegemon. It was rooted in a recognition that the present age, especially since the collapse of Soviet Communism, has offered the American government unprecedented opportunities when it comes to co-opting the elites of other major states and defusing radical hostility to the United States. As noted above, the notion of "democratic peace" is deeply flawed and ambiguous, historically speaking. It is of especially questionable value in today's world, when so many countries are in fact only shell democracies, in which democratic government acts as a cover for oligarchical rule. Moreover, by far the single greatest example of successful capitalist economic development, China, is not a democracy and shows few signs of becoming one."
Presidential fecklessness in Vietnam, Beiruit, Iran and Somalia was often mentioned by Osama bin Laden as proof that the US was a paper tiger. Clinton was a stable hegemon only in that he didn't want to do anything. It was the Congressional Black Caucus that pressured Clinton into Somalia and Haiti. The domestic fallout from Kosovo -- Clinton didn't want to bring down Nato -- drove his decision there. The same day he bombed the Aspirin factory, was the day he testified before a grand jury about his perjury in the Paula Jones suit.
The Bush Administration does indeed know that it the US benefits from the current global system. It is the radical Islamofacists that are trying to undermine the US, not the Bush Administration seeking to kick the hill it stands atop. Give me a break. Had the US not invaded Afghanastan, we would faced more 9/11's. Iraq, another example used by Osama, to argue that the US should be attacked and exposed as the paper tiger it was also, by its very continuing existence, a threat to the global order. As is Iran and its nuclear ambitions.
Again, this is an excellent piece albeit flawed in its assumptions.
The Empire Strikes Back
An incredibly well written, albeit flawed review article in the Nation by Anatol Lieven compares the US. to pre-World War I Germany. Well written, but flawed. Here are a couple of points.
Clinton packaged American imperialism as globalism, and he was also genuinely motivated by a vision of global order in which America would lead rather than merely dictate. Bush is not just packaging imperialism as American nationalism; he and his followers are genuinely motivated by nationalism, in a way that Clinton was not, and, as nationalists, they are absolutely contemptuous of any global order involving any formal check whatsoever on American action.
At first glance this sounds almost reasonable. However, neither President wanted to make foreign policy the cornerstone of their Administration's. Moreover, Bush's policy is a reaction to the events of 9/11. He and "his followers" never came to office with a nationalistic zeal or contemptuous view toward International Organizations.
Europeans and other global elites have been attempting to leverage the UN and other organizations as a check on US hegemony. This is textbook Realism in International Relations Theory. Most of these elites, especially, are benefitting greatly from US hegemony. They take a free ride on defense and reap the benefits of International markets -- including the US's. There is no rational reason behind their actions they are simply challenging US hegemony because they believe that is what they are supposed to do.
Second, for every International Organization such as the UN that the US is contempuous of there is one that a) we do not control and b) we are ardent supporters of it. Here, the World Trade Organization comes to mind. It has ruled against us just as many times for us. The US supports organizations that are honest brokers, the UN -- as Iraq plainly showed -- is not one such organization. And finally, any country looking out for its own best interests -- a perfectly valid moral stance -- would resist UN attempts to meddle in the protection of the American people as the French and others clearly did in the Security Council with regard to Iraq.
20 June 2003
Joe Bast on ESR
Joe Bast offers some great insights on consolidating the movement in Illinois.
My favorite though, is when Joe discusses Illinois politics and the Heartland Institute's efforts:
JLB: Actually, we found that we could not make it in Chicago, which is why we decided to become a national rather than state or regional organization. I'm primarily a writer and publicist, so The Heartland Institute's comparative advantage has always been in writing and publishing. The political parties and governments of Chicago and Springfield, as near as I can figure, are invincible to good ideas, no matter how eloquently expressed or frequently published. After ten years of trying to "speak truth to power," I simply gave up and decided to find more receptive audiences elsewhere.
17 June 2003
I told you so.
State Sen. Kirk Dillard confirms my analysis of Governor Blagojevich's $10 billion pension bond arbitrage effort.
At the time I wrote that the four Republican defectors had nothing to gain by voting no and everything to gain if the plan worked out and they had voted for it. Voila!
This clearly demonstrates the need for a conservative agenda to be promoted in Illinois.
Here is my original letter to the editor at Illinois Leader.
Biotech crops gain ground in Europe reads the headline in the State Journal Register, today. It turns out, however; that the debate merely shifts:
"The issue now appears to be the environment," he said [NCGA president Fred Yoder]. "I think we have won the battle of food safety. I think they are finally realizing that is not a valid argument, and now they are shifting their concerns to environmental issues, and we have a great argument against those concerns as well."
Somehow, I doubt this is the beginning of the end, more likely it's the end of the beginning. Public pressure in Europe will be ramped up by farmers and franken food is a great issue political issue to burnish your trendy anti-americanism if you are a European politician. The merits of your case are irrelevent. This is a matter of political will.