April 16, 2006
End of History? I’ll be Happy with the End of Neoconservatives
If you get a chance look at a copy of this week’s issue of Chronicle of Higher Education. Allan Wolfe, a political science professor at Boston College wrote an article on Francis Fukuyama, “How Bush’s Bad Ideas May Lead to Good Ones.”It seems Fukuyama, the neoconservative intellectual and professor at Johns Hopkins University who supported the war in Iraq, has had second thoughts. So it takes a debacle of epic proportions for neocons to start distancing themselves from each other.
Wolfe gives a great overview of Fukuyama’s new book, “America at the Crossroad”which was published by Yale University Press in February. The NYT also did a book review on it a few weeks ago. Wolfe starts with great background information on the architects of the neocon movement:
“Three of Wohlstetter's students were instrumental in applying his principles to the situation in Iraq: Richard Perle and Paul D. Wolfowitz, at the Department of Defense, and Zalmay Khalilzad, first an envoy to Afghanistan and now ambassador to Iraq. All three, along with William Kristol, Robert Kagan, and, for that matter, Fukuyama himself, signed a 1998 letter to President Bill Clinton, which viewed Iraq the same way foreign-policy hardliners had once viewed Communism; like America's previous enemy, they argued, Saddam Hussein was too irrational to be deterred by normal diplomatic means, and the only effective alternative was to remove him from power.”
Bush and Cheney moved to quickly support these ideas after 9/11. So did Rumsfeld, who believed that the United States could win in Iraq without deploying vast numbers of troops.
Now many of Fukuyama’s former colleagues are pushing the same agenda for Iran. Instead of supporting this plan, Fukuyama calls for a “dramatic demilitarization” of American foreign policy, and that the U.S. should approach multilateralism by relying on a wide variety of international institutions. Fukuyama theorizes that the neoconservatist's failure in Iraq could lead Americans to become more unilateral and isolated.
Interesting…if you want to check out the book, but don't feel like committing to buying it, Fukuyama excerpted from it in the article “After Neoconservatism”he wrote for the NYT Magazine in March. He claims the neocons got the thesis of “The End of History” all wrong.
“Many people have also interpreted my book ‘The End of History and the Last Man’ (1992) as a neoconservative tract, one that argued in favor of the view that there is a universal hunger for liberty in all people that will inevitably lead them to liberal democracy, and that we are living in the midst of an accelerating, transnational movement in favor of that liberal democracy. This is a misreading of the argument. "The End of History" is in the end an argument about modernization. What is initially universal is not the desire for liberal democracy but rather the desire to live in a modern — that is, technologically advanced and prosperous — society, which, if satisfied, tends to drive demands for political participation. Liberal democracy is one of the byproducts of this modernization process, something that becomes a universal aspiration only in the course of historical time.”
With no red bouncing ball on the pages, Fukuyama must've confused the administration with his academic writing. The way the Cold War came to an end has shaped the thinking of supporters of the Iraq war. It created an expectation that all totalitarian regimes were hollow at the core and would crumble with a push from outside. What an expensive lesson to learn at the sake of the Iraqi people.
The neocons rushed into Iraq because they believed their own hype that the Soviet Union fell apart as a result of their policies during the Reagan era. Never mind, that the USSR was already coming apart by the 1980's. Better luck with Iran….right?