Fukuyama vs Krauthammer

I have to differ and say that I think that Fukuyama has it right - there is a need to separate the concept of fighting terrorism and the concept of promoting democracy. Wilsonianism never concerned itself with the former; neo-conservatism merged the two. What is needed is neo-wilsonianism, combining the idealism of the Carter era (tie foreign policy to human rights), the multi-pole approach to superpower influence advocated by Gary Hart, and a good dose of cowboy Jacksonianism.

Greg Djierjian writes an exhaustive defense of Fukuyama from Krauthammer's critique. The major excerpt:

Fukuyama is right. The time has come to, at least to some extent, decouple the war against terrorism from our forward democratization strategy. This doesn't mean that neo-Wilsonian instincts must be wholly shunted aside. Democracy exportation is part and parcel of a good deal of America's foreign policy history, and a strain of American exceptionalism that isn't going anywhere anytime soon. But the democratization strategy has to be better understood as a very long generational effort, undertaken soberly and methodically with allies, and not over the barrel of a gun, or via short-term, hastily organized attempts at rather clumsily stoking revolutions via a few dollars disbursed hither dither and the like. The situation in the Middle East is very delicate at the present hour, and Islamists in Egypt, Palestine, Iraq and points beyond are in the ascendancy, at least at the present time. Therefore order and stability, at least in the short term, need to trump fanciful talk of moving the entire broader Middle East region into post-Enlightenment democratic governance modalities. The Islamic world is not yet necessarily ready for a steady diet of Jefferson and Montesquieu, yes, even if we open up consulates in remote parts of Indonesia or near the corniche in Alexandria in some essay at 'transformational' diplomacy. This does not mean, as the easy straw man argument goes, that Arabs are not constitutionally capable of democracy, much like some said Confucians in Asia weren't after WWII. But the teeming Cairene masses, say, are likelier to gravitate towards the Muslim Brotherhood than Ayman Nour, alas, at least at this juncture. Let's be cognizant of such nettlesome realities, yes?

So rather than speak of Krauthammerian democratic globalism as some universalist panacea, we have to instead focus like a laser on fighting the most ruthless of the global terrorists, marshalling efforts on coordinating and obtaining intelligence to find and kill them, drying up their financing, and ensuring they no longer have quasi-sanctuaries in places like southeastern Afghanistan, parts of Pakistan, or portions of Iraq. Meantime, we need to continue to work to resolve the regional conflicts that contribute to a, yes, poisonous atmosphere in the region, foster economic development via increased trade ties and liberalization of economies (great job on Dubai!), and better employ 'soft power' through the region by better explicating the objectives of US foreign policy in the region to a very skeptical neighborhood. This is the kernel of our current struggle, not ensuring that everyone has the right to vote for Hezbollah or the Muslim Brotherhood or Hamas, at this very moment, in Lebanon and Egypt and Palestine.

The basic problem with Krauthammer's defense of the status quo is that it amounts to an empty statement rather than a game plan for victory. It is basically akin to saying, "Win!" - words are cheap, but hope is not a plan.

There are already many liberal advocates of what I have called neo-wilsonianism above. These include Greg, the team at American Footprints, and Abu Aardvark, to name but a few. I can't recommend these blogs highly enough for sustained discussion and serious analysis of the future of foreign policy. It looks to be at three years at a minimum before we ever see it put into practice, but this is going to be my single issue for '08.

UPDATE: see, this is exhibit A of the wrong approach:

While President Bush vows to transform Iraq into a beacon of democracy in the Middle East, his administration has been scaling back funding for the main organizations trying to carry out his vision by building democratic institutions such as political parties and civil society groups....The shortfall threatens projects that teach Iraqis how to create and sustain political parties, think tanks, human rights groups, independent media outlets, trade unions and other elements of democratic society.

...."Money keeps getting transferred away to security training. Democracy's one of the things that's been transferred," said Thomas Carothers of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace's project on democracy and the rule of law. "Without that, all the other stuff looks like just background work."

Yet that's what Krauthammer defends, and what Fukuyama critiques.

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