Friday, March 23, 2007

Smart Imperialism

Given the dreams of militaristic domination and triumphalism that neocons were dreaming of back in the days of PNAC - it is refreshing to see some of them like Iran-Contra Armitage and go-it-alone Fukuyama are changing their tune (and trying to hide their own culpability). But today's Morning Edition piece on US foreign policy was a true work of constricted debate. The "experts" brought in represented a range of opinion varying from the Pentagon to the US State Department.

The scholarly guest list was as follows:
  • James Carafano, a senior research fellow with the Heritage Foundation. Carafano had a long career in the US Army.
  • Joseph Nye, a professor at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government. Nye has been a loyal servant to both the Pentagon and State Department.
  • Richard Armitage, currently working with Nye on a "bipartisan" study for the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). Armitage was a Deputy Secretary of State during Bush's first term.
  • Edwin Luttwak, a senior advisor at the CSIS who as his bio states "has served as a consultant to the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the National Security Council, the U.S. Department of State, and the U.S. Army, Navy, and Air Force."
  • Francis Fukuyama of the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. Worked for the State Department.
  • William Martel, an associate professor of international security studies at the Fletcher School at Tufts University. Professor Martel has worked for the Air Force, the RAND Corp., Air War College and Naval War College.
You can probably guess that none of these fellows is going to challenge the underlying premise that the US can and should dominate the globe. Instead these men all agree that since 2001 the US has relied too much on threats, military action, and unilateralism--what they call "hard power." But don't despair, by using more carrots and diplomacy Jackie Northam assures us that "...the US can attract them [allies] with the legitimacy of its long-standing policies and values. Nye calls this soft power."

Don't worry, NPR is not suggesting any wild-eyed hippie ideas like dismantling our global network of military bases or slashing our bloated war budget. Northam lets us know that "Professor Nye is the first to say that soft power by itself is not enough, and that hard power — whether it be coercion or military might — is also needed. The key, he says, is to balance the two so one doesn't undercut the other. The new term for this is 'smart power.'" And if any of you peaceniks are still whining about this, "Armitage says the ability to balance soft and hard power is a sign of a country's maturity and confidence."

And so children, the bedtime story ends: the US is a gentle giant at heart, with a history of noble and legitimate values, and the last six years have just been a little aberration (like the Vietnam War) and now we will get back on our best behavior, just like after Vietnam when as Northam tells us, "within a few years after American troops pulled out of Vietnam, the U.S. had regained its prestige and diplomatic power."

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Most excellent.

I'm a long time NPR listener. I don't remember the link trail, but I came to NPR Check and immediately appreciated the coverage.

You say with intellectual honesty what NPR spends all day avoiding.