Sunday, July 16, 2006

This Was Odd

I actually thought the other day--good God am I a realist?

There's no getting around the power of the U.S. and what do you do with all that power? An isolationist foreign policy seems like an impossibility at this point. It would have to be better than what we've currently got going--almost anything would besides overt world takeover which is where the U.S. may be heading-- but it will never fly.

Then there is the 'moral' foreign policy. It used to be that the assertion of concern with democracy in the non-U.S./non-Europe part of the world meant leave them alone. It often meant that. Now it means all out war.

There's one thing that I find striking and that is that a calculated measure of what was in the interest of the U.S. would have resulted in a much more 'moral' foreign policy. A cool-headed and rational and informed calculation. Perhaps those never happen which is why this meta-realist argument might not work. The argument is: If the Imperial Government of the United States would only think of its interests and its interests alone---primarily geopolitical, not economic (I think)--then what the actions it would engage in would be far more morally palatable than if it actively acted to promote 'moral' foreign policy aims.

Now what we have here could very well be a fake moral foreign policy wrapping with a crunchy economic-driven center. But the rhetoric has turned things on its head. It starts to look a little crazy to say 'I want a moral foreign policy.' What we have now is a moralizing foreign policy. But it's enough to put you off the whole idea of a moral foreign policy.

I often engage in these 'if I ran the world' flights of fancy. If I ran the world and if I were not the ethically concerned person I am with many qualms about war but some old craggy hardcore state department-ish pro-United Statesan. Well, from where I sit now, I would have invaded Afghanistan. With a large number of troops. I would have secured and rebuilt the country, poured bucketloads of money into it. I would have made Afghanistan into Panama, pretty much. And unceasingly, relentlessly attempted to track down Bin Laden. Really, for the public relations angle more than anything else. The simple formula: He attacked the U.S. The U.S. found him, put him on trial, killed him and now he is dead. It's very powerful, that little narrative. Not the solution to all problems, but a nice clear story arc.

As my craggy hardcore patriotic and yet reasonable self (the old and wise--where are they? They are nowhere to be found. Especially not in Washington, D.C. They've all retired.) I would have stayed very far from Iraq. Very far. Would I mess with Iran? Not directly. No, my craggy old white male self would do everything sneakily, smartly behind the scenes.

And I think--except for global warming, the empire would have lasted--although not remained untroubled--for decades. Decades and decades, a century or more. If I were Marcus Aurelius in the State Department.


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