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Unilateralism « Previous | |Next »
February 28, 2003

This is a good essay by Tony Judt on American hegemony and power and the unilateralism in American foreign policy ( Link courtesy of The Agonist).

I introduce the essay as a counter to the new script of the White House. This script says that they are Wilsonian idealists at heart and their foregn policy core is to bring freedom, democracy and civilization to the rest of the world. The script of bringing democracy through war and military occupation appears to be accepted by Ken Parish in his Bush promises democratic Iraq post.

One countertone says Arabs in the Middle East, don't need to be civilized by the US as they are civilized; and they are fighting their governments to create a vibrant civil society themselves. In contrast, the countertone of Judt's article is a reminder of the unilateralist creed of the Bush administration and its supporters. This strategy instrument states that:

'We know who we are, and we know what we want. Foreign policy is about national interests. National interests are served by the exercise of power. Power is about arms and the will to use them, and we have both.'

The Washington Post columnist, Charles Krauthammer has articulated the new unilateralism:

'...we now have an administration willing to assert American freedom of action and the primacy of American national interests. Rather than contain American power within a vast web of constraining international agreements, the new unilateralism seeks to strengthen American power and unashamedly deploy it on behalf of self-defined global ends...[It involves] Intervening abroad, not to "nation-build" where there is no nation to be built but to protect vital interests.'

Tony Judt says that under unilateralism:

'Powell notwithstanding, the realist (some might say cynical) consensus in the administration was that since America's allies are irrelevant to its military calculations and have no political choice but to tag along, nothing is gained by consulting them in advance or taking their sensitivities into consideration.'

The strategy is one of "going it alone," and paying a minimum of attention to the wishes and interests of others. What does that mean in terms of the emerging post-Iraq strategy for the Midldle East. One account is given by Sean Paul at The Agonist. It states that:

'The goal of being in Iraq is to compel nations in the region to act in our favor. It puts pressure on the Saudi's, the Iranians, and the Syrians because we are there, patrolling the neighborhood.'

The Judt essay is a review of Joseph S. Nye Jr, The Paradox of American Power: Why The World's Only Superpower Can't Go It Alone. Nye is not embarrassed by the reality of American supremacy and he has written a strong critique of unilateralism in American foreign. Nye is also implicitly skeptical of "realism," the approach to international relations that disparages a priori concern with rights, transnational laws, or moral objectives and confines diplomacy to the advance of American interests by all appropriate means.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 12:57 AM | | Comments (4)


Bush Jr is going to take democracy to Iraq, when he stole it from America. Please explain?

ausyankee, Bush stole democracy from America? Please explain?

Lost the popular vote. Would have lost the recount. Appointed by a hand-picked court. Like I said, who stole the democracy?