ZenPundit
Tuesday, October 25, 2005
 
FUKUYAMA'S REASSESSMENT OF THE BUSH DOCTRINE

The End of History for Preemption ? Francis Fukuyama writes in " The Bush Doctrine, before and After" the following:

"Under the right circumstances, it is impossible to make a normative case against preventive war: if suicide terrorists with WMD are clearly planning an attack on the US on the territory of another country, it is hard to argue that America does not have the right to take matters into its own hands rather than wait for United Nations Security Council permission to act. Even the UN's High Level Panel on reform admitted as much. The problem is that, in the real world, such conditions almost never exist. We seldom have good information about our enemies' capabilities or reliable ways to predict their future behaviour. Failure to find Iraqi WMD exposed the limits of US intelligence capabilities. The Bush administration merged the terrorism/WMD problem with the rogue state/proliferation problem in a way that skewed the risk-reward calculation toward preventive war. The Iraq war showed that traditional prudential strictures against preventive war ( Bismarck once called preventive war "committing suicide for fear of death") remain valid even in an age of suicide terrorism.

The second dimension of the Bush doctrine has to do with its approach to allies and legitimacy, also known as "unilateralism". I do not believe that most administration officials were contemptuous of global public opinion. Many felt, however, that legitimacy had to be won ex post, rather than ex ante via a Security Council resolution. Officials such as Donald Rumsfeld believed, not unreasonably, that the collective action mechanisms of the UN and of the Europeans were broken, as evidenced most recently in the Balkans where only US leadership brought the Bosnian and Kosovar conflicts to a close. In its own eyes, the Bush administration was playing the role of "benevolent hegemon", providing global public goods that the rest of the international community could not.

The Bush administration failed to anticipate the almost uniformly hostile reaction to benevolent hegemony, not only among those countries traditionally hostile to US purposes, but also among America 's closest European allies. Legitimacy came neither ex ante nor ex post. At an elite level, leaders may seek to restore good relations with Washington out of self-interest, but at a mass level there has been a seismic shift in the way much of the world perceives the US , whose image is no longer the Statue of Liberty but the hooded prisoner at Abu Ghraib.

There are several reasons for this. A hegemon has to be perceived not just as benevolent but competent. With the administration's failure to find Iraqi WMD and its bungling of the Iraq reconstruction process, Washington 's credibility plummeted. The Bush doctrine's preventive war doctrine was, moreover, based on implicit assertion of US exceptionalism. Given that the US would almost certainly criticise a similar anti-terrorist policy proclaimed by Russia , China or India , its assertion of this right rested on the premise that America is somehow more disinterested than other nations. Americans may believe in their own good intentions but international legitimacy emerges only if others do as well. Long before the Iraq war, Americans failed to perceive deep currents of anti-Americanism building up."


The U.S., it must be said, was first decried as a " hyperpower" in 1994 when it was being criticized abroad for too little unilateralism, not 2004 when it was widely ( and erroneously) criticized for too much. Fukuyama concludes:

"The best way to assess the durability of the Bush doctrine is to ask how likely it is to be applied again in the future - that is, how ready is the US to again intervene unilaterally to topple a rogue state proliferator and engage in another nation-building exercise? The answer comes from the Bush administration itself, which has already backed away from military confrontations with both North Korea and Iran in favour of multilateral approaches, despite much clearer evidence of nuclear programmes in those countries. This suggests the doctrine has not survived into Mr Bush's second term, much less become a permanent component of US strategy against global terrorism"

The United States is inevitably going to be involved in future " nation-building" enterprises simply because the Gap is going to continue produce horrors that will reach a threshold that connected, democratic, vocal populations in the Core will find impossible to ignore once the suffering is of a sufficient magnitude. Or when some ongoing atrocity neatly coincide with state interests. Nor will a future president shrink from a better safe than sorry military intervention approach in a situation where loose nukes and irrational hostile actor are involved.

No, what will happen is like with Munich, Pearl Harbor and Vietnam, 9/11 and Iraq will become analogies that get weighed against one another in a future crisis as statesmen struggle with questions of war and peace.
 
Comments:
Fukuyama left out the influence of the mainstream media, who could find something bad to say about the Easter Bunny.
 
Yes, and in Europe since about 1992-1995 the'68 generation is running the media and they notched up anti-Americanism across the board.

Ditto ROK under Kim Dae-Jung who used government power to pressure conservative anticommunist voices out of the Korean media and put the Communist dominated National Teacher's Union in charge of public school curriculum
 
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In the past, we erected monuments to great military leaders and great victories. The genocides over the millenia were always forgotten enabling the next without a blink of the eye.

After WWII, Holocaust Monuments were constructed so that we would never forget and never repeat those mistakes. And we place good words on them declaring,"Never Again".

Then Stalin kills his millions and we declare,"Never Again". Then Mao kills his millions and we declare,"Never Again." Cambodia, Bosnia, Irag, Rwanda, Sudan, Argentina - again "Never Again".

Humans are crisis oriented. As individuals, we don't get out of the way of hurricanes, tsunammis, or fires until death is upon us and it is too late. As nations, we do not prevent death and destruction unless we are inextricably bound up with the actors having to much to lose.

Mutually assured destruction held the world together for 60 years under the prevailing theories of symmetrical warfare and nations. Today we see the playing out of 4G/GG with open source warfare, we are faced with a concept antithetical to G. Washington's Farewell Address - mutually assured survival.

The new warfare model is forcing greater reliance upon alliances in order to remain viable states. Greater cooperation between survivor states will require integration of law enforcment, military, and economic entities often at the expense of national and individual freedoms. Modern nations can no longer play the zero-sum game in which there are winners and losers as there is no longer either.
 
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