Friday, August 15, 2008

Fukuyama: the wrong streak continues

Yep, time to talk about Francis again. I thought he was wrong when all the Transforationalists were all a'ga'ga over his The End of History and the Last Man. There he made his ill-thought out premise that spawned many a lecture and TV spot to the masses of the historically ignoranant of all stripes that this nation's education system produces at the highest levels,
"What we may be witnessing is not just the end of the Cold War, or the passing of a particular period of post-war history, but the end of history as such... That is, the end point of mankind's ideological evolution and the universalization of Western liberal democracy as the final form of human government."
(I guess the Chinese, Russians, Islamists and Hugonistas still have not gotten a chance to read his tome)- and he has been wrong 80% of the time ever since.

Nice guy and smart guy, I'm sure -- but his opinion is not what he reputation makes it. Just isn't.

On Iraq, he was an early quitter/defeatist --- and as a result has lost a $100 bet with Bret Stephens over it and has admitted, though "on narrow terms," that the war is won and he was wrong. Sad, his ego is such that he has a very tough time coming to terms with the fact he, very human like, was wrong. Instead of accepting it and pondering, he makes a rather lame and grasping attempt to justify that he was wrong about being right -- or something like that.
What I absolutely did not concede, however, was the fact that this change meant that the war itself was worth it. By invading Iraq in the manner it did, the U.S. exacerbated all of the threats it faced prior to 2003. Recruitment into terrorist cells shot up all over the world. North Korea and Iran accelerated their development of nuclear weapons.

Indeed, Iran has emerged as the dominant regional power in the Persian Gulf once the U.S. removed its major rival from the scene and put its Shiite clients into power in Baghdad. While everyone is better off without Saddam Hussein around, the cost was hugely disproportionate. If you don't believe this, ask yourself whether Congress would ever have voted to authorize the war in 2002 if it knew there was no WMD, or that there would be trillion-dollar budget outlays, or that there would be 30,000 dead and wounded after five years of bitter struggle.

There are deeper, intangible costs. The Bush administration this week rebuked Russia for its disproportionate military intervention in Georgia; many rightly suspect Moscow's real goal is regime change of the pro-Western, democratic government in Tbilisi. But who set the most recent precedent for a big power intervening to change a regime it didn't like, without the sanction of the U.N. Security Council or any other legitimating international body?
Nice theory - but ignores the opportunity costs of not going into Iraq; the known unknown. Now there is a discussion I would like to hear him have with himself. Anyway, back to reality.

He was wrong about the surge, and back in May of '07 was way off the mark with a comparison to Vietnam that not only calls into question his knowledge of this war, but also that of the Vietnam War.
Let's not kid ourselves. The situation today is in some ways much worse than the one faced by President Nixon in Vietnam 35 years ago. At that time, South Vietnam had an army with a paper strength of 1 million men that, despite its problems, was able hold on for three years after the U.S. withdrew its ground forces. The South Vietnamese army provided Henry Kissinger with his "decent interval" between the U.S. withdrawal and South Vietnam's collapse. (Indeed, Kissinger argues with some plausibility that the South Vietnamese military could have hung on indefinitely if Congress hadn't cut off funds for U.S. air support.)
Gee wizz --- look at the facts. US support in '72; North Vietnam invasion stopped. Democrats in Congress in '75 cut off financial and military support; North Vietnam invasion succeeds. It really is that simple. If he doesn't get that - then he really needs to read outside whatever echo chamber he is hanging out in. Who wants/wanted to cut-n-run this time in Iraq? Remember what happened in the mid-70s after we cut-n-run in Southeast Asia? Ya think......

I'll let you read it all, but his reasons for supporting Sen. Obama (D-IL) (...a fine and honorable position to take) don't make sense to the point that I am not sure he is trying to convince himself or someone else.
ELEANOR HALL: So which president do you think would be the best placed to handle these challenges? Would it be president McCain, president Obama or a president Clinton?

FRANCIS FUKUYAMA: Well, it is a little bit difficult. In my own thinking since I have to vote in this next election, I personally actually don't want to see a Republican re-elected because I have a general view of the way democratic processes should work and if your party is responsible for a big policy failure, you shouldn't be rewarded by being re-elected.

I think of all the Republicans, McCain in many ways is the most attractive but he is still is too, you know, he comes from the school that places too much reliance on hard military power as a means of spreading American influence.

I think in many ways, Hillary Clinton represents both the good and the bad things of the 1990s and there is something in the style of the Clintons that never really appealed to me and so I think of all the three, Obama probably has the greatest promise of delivering a different kind of politics.

ELEANOR HALL: That is a big shift for you, isn't it? To go from a registered Republican voter to an Obama supporter.

FRANCIS FUKUYAMA: Yeah, but I think a number of people are doing that this year because I think the world is different at this juncture and we need a different foreign policy and there is this larger question about in American politics, I do think that we are at the end of a long generational cycle that began with Reagan's election back in 1980 and I think unless you have a degree of competition and alternation in power, certain ideas and habits are going to get too entrenched.
Isn't that what happened in '06? Isn't that why Francis was a Kerry supporter in '04? McCain is about as different as Bush as you can get - but having thrown his hat in with Obama you can't blame him for trying. Presidents are by in large individuals, not a party. A McCain Administration would be very different in many ways from a Bush Administration; mostly because McCain can't stand the Bushies. He should know that, but if he doesn't.... he either over his head dabbl'n in politics or is just a partisan hack; forgivable in one case, sad in another.

I think you can see though, especially if you read the whole interview, that the end of the quote points you in the right direction; he is still trying to justify his wrong-headed book's thesis while trying not to show too much buyer's remorse on Obama. I wonder if Georgia gives him any pause....

Being that he had 180deg lockoff with the, ahem, End of History!!!!! theme, he probably doesn't fully realize what most of us know and stated from the beginning; war is a dark room and you don't really know what is going to happen and what you will find there once you step into it. In 1939, no one would have predicted the Alliance with the Soviet Union and the resulting half-century of global State slavery and slaughter it would enable Communism to bring to the world.

That is just one example of history. It doesn't end. It won't end. You can't predict its course -- even if you have a high opinion of your very mortal self.

Be humble. Accept. Be humble again.

Me, I have and will always find myself with Baroness Thatcher.
Mrs Thatcher muttered: “The end of history? The beginning of nonsense.”

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