Wednesday, February 22, 2006

End of the Neocon Game

[[P O L I C Y]] * Francis Fukuyama, a political economist, author of the best-selling book The End of History and the Last Man (1992), and one of the prime architects of modern neoconservatism, declares in his latest book that the movement--which advocates, in part, the military overthrow of autocratic governments in order to establish democratic ones--needs to be supplanted by a more realistic foreign-policy approach.

“Neoconservatism, as both a political symbol and a body of thought, has evolved into something I can no longer support,” Fukuyama writes in America at the Crossroads: Democracy, Power, and the Neoconservative Legacy, due in bookstores next week. An opponent of George W. Bush’s approach to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, who has called for Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld to resign and insisted he would vote against Bush in the 2004 presidential elections, Fukuyama “now thinks the war in Iraq is the wrong sort of war, in the wrong place, at the wrong time,” according to a story in The Scotsman. In an excerpt from the book that appeared recently in The New York Times Magazine, Fukuyama opines:
The Bush administration and its neoconservative supporters did not simply underestimate the difficulty of bringing about congenial political outcomes in places like Iraq; they also misunderstood the way the world would react to the use of American power. Of course, the cold war was replete with instances of what the foreign policy analyst Stephen Sestanovich calls American maximalism, wherein Washington acted first and sought legitimacy and support from its allies only after the fact. But in the post-cold-war period, the structural situation of world politics changed in ways that made this kind of exercise of power much more problematic in the eyes of even close allies. After the fall of the Soviet Union, various neoconservative authors like Charles Krauthammer, William Kristol and Robert Kagan suggested that the United States would use its margin of power to exert a kind of “benevolent hegemony” over the rest of the world, fixing problems like rogue states with W.M.D., human rights abuses and terrorist threats as they came up. Writing before the Iraq war, Kristol and Kagan considered whether this posture would provoke resistance from the rest of the world, and concluded, “It is precisely because American foreign policy is infused with an unusually high degree of morality that other nations find they have less to fear from its otherwise daunting power.”

It is hard to read these lines without irony in the wake of the global reaction to the Iraq war, which succeeded in uniting much of the world in a frenzy of anti-Americanism.
And in the wake of the Abu Ghraib torture scandal, which continues to be recalled by the release of troubling and previously unpublished photographs showing Arab prisoners humiliated and abused, that contention about U.S. foreign policy being “infused with an unusually high degree of morality” rings mighty hollow.

READ MORE:MacBush: The Neoconservative Tragedy,” by Jacob Weisberg (Slate).

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