Cheat-Seeking Missles

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Multipolarism And Progressive Realism

Here they are, the picture children of a "multipolar" global vision: the thug who is systematically destroying the economy and democracy of Venezuela, and Daddy's Boy Assad, showing that no special gifts are necessary to carry on a bruttalitarian regime.

Chavez's tour of world despots continues his quest for a seat on the UN security council -- as if we needed more evidence of the failure of that organization. His ticket is multipolarism, which is a brilliant concept: Put all the dictators, nuke-hiders, terrorist-abettors, rights-killers and election-stealers in one pot, stir them up with some spicy anti-American rhetoric, and set them loose on the world with a cloak of dark legitimacy.

"No matter how strong the American empire becomes and no matter how much force it uses, it will be defeated," Mr. Chavez told the crowed. "We and Syria as well as other countries will be an army of tigers, struggling and strong." Pipsqueak piped in that Syria and Venezuela reject "international hegemony."

Isn't "international hegemony" a definition of Syria in Lebanon?

Of course, but my point is this: the American Left is a sucker for a good turn of phrase, a sweet rhyme, a new word. They've already embraced the silly concept of "a world without borders" and now they, too, are going to begin the multipolar talk. After all, they decry US imperialism and cry out for a new world.

In doing so, they will join Russia and France, big supporters of anything that diminishes US power, and they'll be comfortable with that. They'll also be in league with Chavez, Assad, Kim Il Jong and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad ... and I fear that they'll be comfortable with that, too.

Here's evidence, from Sisyphus:
Disenchantment with Bush foreign policies is an important step for the public but it isn’t enough. There need to be alternative frameworks of foreign relations presented. Joseph Nye suggests the Democratic Party follow the recommendations of Robert Wright and others to have come to call “progressive realism.” He writes,
… how should America use its unprecedented power, and what role should values play? Realists warn against letting values determine policy, but democracy and human rights have been an inherent part of American foreign policy for two centuries. The Democratic Party could solve this problem by adopting the suggestion of Robert Wright and others that it pursue "progressive realism." What type of foreign policy would ensue?

It would start with an understanding of the strength and limits of American power. The US is the only superpower, but preponderance is not empire or hegemony. America can influence but not control other parts of the world. Power always depends upon context, and the context of world politics today is like a three-dimensional chess game. The top board of military power is unipolar; but on the middle board of economic relations the world is multipolar; and on the bottom board of transnational relations - comprising issues such as climate change, illegal drugs, avian flu, and terrorism - power is chaotically distributed.

Military power is a small part of the solution in responding to these new threats on the bottom board of international relations. Resolving these requires cooperation among governments and international institutions. Even on the top board (where America represents nearly half of world defense expenditures), the military is supreme in the global commons of air, sea, and space, but more limited in its ability to control nationalistic populations in occupied areas.

A progressive realist policy would also stress the importance of developing an integrated grand strategy that blends "hard" military power with "soft" attractive power, creating "smart" power of the sort that won the Cold War. America needs to use hard power against terrorists, but it cannot hope to win the struggle against terrorism unless it gains the hearts and minds of moderates. The misuse of hard power (as at Abu Ghraib or Haditha) produces new terrorist recruits.
Multipolarism is already being used by leftist thinkers to justify a Clintonian view of the military -- a cruise missile here, a bluster there -- and deny the viability of a concerted "hard" military reaction to global Islamofascism and the threat of a global alliance of bad guys. It is a governing philosophy that still clings to economic incentives and diplomatic negotiations with the idea that we can win hearts and minds.

It does not recognize that we have tried that approach since the 1940s in the Arab world, but have accomplished nothing -- terror grows, Islamic states do not or cannot control it, or willingly support it. When an Islamic state supports terrorism, as Iran and Syria do, does Progressive Realism think incentives and diplomacy will work?

The American electorate will not be comfortable with the idea of willingly letting our brief shining moment as the world's only superpower quickly fade. But the American Left is not afraid of the American electorate; they are afraid of the concept of America, so they will push these concepts, and candidates like John Kerry, who see themselves as the intellectual wing of their party, will parrot them.

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