Floating Life 4/06 ~ 11/07

an archive

How Downer, Howard, Nelson and company are out of the debate…

I wonder if the gentlemen above ever read the magazine on the right, or if they have taken note of such recent books as After the Neocons: America at the Crossroadsv3n2thumb (Profile Books 2006 — $6.95 at your friendly remainder shop!) It appears a substantial portion of the Right have been embracing reality while we were looking the other way. Just what the implications of this are for the American elections remains to be seen; there are implications for our elections, because there is no doubt that what I am reading in After the Neocons and in the magazine on the right is far more Kevin Rudd friendly than the current Australian government’s ongoing love affair with the failing but horribly dangerous policies of the current US regime. This is not to say all these people are born-again liberals now: far from it. But there is more of reason in what they say and publish.

Fukuyama, for his sins, had been one of the signatories of the Project for a New American Century back in the Clinton era, and we know what that led to. There is a profile of Fukuyama here, and I commend the entire IRC Right Web Program from which that comes.

From the current American Interest: After Bush leads with an article by Barry R Posen.

With only 14 months left in the Bush presidency, it is not too soon to ask what will follow for U.S. foreign policy. While politics will determine the dramatis personae of the next administration, the challenges greeting the new President will transcend partisan plotlines. From now until election day 2008, the AI will examine questions of strategy, tone and tactics over a range of issues. We begin with Barry R. Posen’s case for strategic restraint (along with comments from members of the editorial board), an interview with Joseph Nye and Richard Armitage on “smart power”, and analyses of U.S. policy options in the Middle East and Afghanistan…

These four facts have interacted to draw the United States into costly national security policies that produce new problems faster than they can solve old ones. The great concentration of power in the United States skews the American security-policy debate toward activism. If the global distribution of power were more equal, U.S. policymakers would have to be more cautious about the projects they choose. The existence of a peer competitor would inject into the U.S. policy debate a persistent question: Will this project help or hurt our ability to deter or contain X? Moreover, it is tempting to imagine that with this much power, the United States could organize a safe world, once and for all?where the United States would remain the acknowledged military and ideological leader.

Whatever else it may achieve, U.S. activism is bound to discomfit other states. The great preponderance of U.S. power makes direct opposition to the United States difficult and dangerous, but other states are doing what they can to put themselves in a better position. Some fear U.S. freedom of action, worry about the possibility of being drawn into policies inimical to their interests, and so wish to distance themselves from the United States — even as they free-ride within the broader U.S. security umbrella. The European Union has gradually strengthened its military capabilities so that it can get along without the United States if it must. Others fear that U.S. policies will harm their interests indirectly, and look for ways to concert their power, as Russia and China have done in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. Still others expect U.S. attentions to be directed straight at them, and so they seek to improve their abilities to deter U.S. military action or fight the United States directly if they must. North Korea and Iran pursue nuclear weapons for those purposes. Iran also has developed a conventional capability to inflict costs on U.S. forces in the Gulf and has been implicated in inflicting such costs in Iraq. To the extent that the United States continues its current activist policy path, these reactions will continue and will slowly increase the costs of future U.S. activism. They will also reduce the propensity of others to share these costs…

From the May-June American Interest I would also recommend What do Muslims think? by Amir Taheri. It’s a good article. In fact I first came upon this new magazine — it is only in its second year — because of an interview with writer Amy Tan in that issue.

# READ Chapter One of After the Neocons (PDF)

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