December 13, 2005


Superpower vulnerability (Henry C K Liu, 12/14/05, Asia Times)

In foreign policy, the US has been operating on the basis that its national values have been validated by triumph in the Cold War and that its resultant sole-superpower status now earns it both the moral right and the military means to spread such values over the whole world. Resistance to such self-righteous values is now deemed evil by US moral imperialism, in need of elimination not by persuasion but by force. This new approach has made the world less safe than it was during the Cold War, the end of which briefly entertained a false hope for a new age in which a world with only one superpower could thereafter live without war, hot or cold. Instead, the world has been plunged into successive holy wars of imperialistic moral conquest by the sole remaining superpower, bringing escalating terrorist attacks on to the US homeland. The impact on domestic policy from terrorist threats has in turn been the wholesale suspension of civil liberties in the name of homeland security.

Such holy wars of moral imperialism cannot be blamed entirely on neo-conservatives in the second Bush administration. While the two wars on Iraq were initiated by the two pere et cie Bush administrations that sandwiched eight years of Clinton rule, the Bosnia and Kosovo wars were the handiwork of Clinton administration neo-liberals. The faith-based foreign policy of George W Bush echoes the value-based interests of the foreign policy of Bill Clinton, such as the grandiose aim of enlarging democracy by force around the world and preventing mass starvation and ethnic genocide by spilling more blood.

We have, of course, operated on this premise since at least the Revolution, though arguably since Magna Carta, and perhaps since the Crucifixion, Mount Sinai, or the Garden. The Holy War ends when every people enjoys the liberty that God granted them a right to. The idea that just because History has Ended, war could end, while the Middle East was still benighted, was obviously absurd.

Posted by Orrin Judd at December 13, 2005 8:13 AM

"This new approach has made the world less safe than it was during the Cold War..." Yes, but it's good.

Posted by: Luciferous at December 13, 2005 9:00 AM

...the grandiose aim of enlarging democracy by force around the world and preventing mass starvation and ethnic genocide by spilling more blood.

Another bright light.

Posted by: Barry Meislin at December 13, 2005 9:03 AM

You said:

"The Holy War ends when every people enjoys the liberty that God granted them a right to."

There is a book that Muslims read, that doesn't share your outlook of the future.

Posted by: AllenS at December 13, 2005 9:14 AM


Sure it does. Where there's conflict with our values we'll just rewrite their book.

Posted by: oj at December 13, 2005 9:20 AM

You'll need a big "eraser".

Posted by: AllenS at December 13, 2005 9:30 AM

We've erased bigger.

Posted by: oj at December 13, 2005 9:35 AM

Those billion-plus folks in China are putting together a pretty big eraser. I guess by oj's reckoning it'll be ok if they use that big eraser to rewrite our book (probably with Muslim help, by the way), since they'll have the biggest eraser.

Posted by: apc at December 13, 2005 9:48 AM

apc's notion that a billion Chinese constitute a "big eraser" calls to mind something one of my professors said back in the 60's about the geopolitical weight of Chins; "we're not fighting with pitchforks, you know."

Numbers are a hinderance now. More numbers mean greater dependence on logistic systems vulnerable to precision attack.

Technology not just trumps numbers--it did that at Obdurman when the Maxim guns shattered the fuzzy-wuzzies. Now technology reverses numbers from a capability into a limitation.

I am afraid those of us who pine for the fall of the West will have to wait for more than mere numbers. The great issues of the coming times will not be decided by majority votes, but by blood and technologies yet to be seen.

Posted by: Lou Gots at December 13, 2005 10:09 AM

Of course, as has been pointed out on this blog, there in fact is less war now than in the past. And it's more efficient -- compare the cost-benefit ratio of Operation Iraqi Freedom to the Iran-Iraq war.

RE: the Chinese threat. Tom Clancy had the best one-line analysis of the Cold War: "I don't sweat the Russians. They don't teach their people to think." Do the Red Chinese?

Posted by: Bob Hawkins at December 13, 2005 10:27 AM


The Chinese have nothing. They'll be what we want them to be, not vice versa.

Posted by: oj at December 13, 2005 10:28 AM

once the middle east goes democratic its peoples will either fall away from islam or convert to chritianity. like all such brittle constructs, islam can not exist where a free choice is allowed. how many people in russia are still communists ?

Posted by: noam chomsky at December 13, 2005 10:36 AM

Wait a second. You're not fooling me!! No way you're Noam Chomsky.

Posted by: Twn at December 13, 2005 10:44 AM

The Chinese aren't exactly operating with pitchforks, either, and they're catching up technologically. In any case, the point I was trying to make was about the small-mindedness of the idea that it's our right to impose our "book" on the rest of the world.

"I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones." Albert Einstein

Posted by: apc at December 13, 2005 11:20 AM

apc: So which of the world's peoples are not endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, including life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness? Or, to put it another way, how is it broad-minded to leave billions languishing in tyrrany?

Posted by: Mike Morley at December 13, 2005 12:25 PM

christmas is the thin end of the wedge, christianity is growing by leaps and bounds there and that's while the government is trying like hell to supress it. keep in mind that the wot terror is strictly an arrabs vs all others war, and arabs are the bottom of the barrel in every way.

Posted by: noam chomsky at December 13, 2005 12:41 PM

apc, you and Liu and your crowd still don't understand Americans. We keep telling you and telling you and telling you...we keep showing you and showing you....and you STILL refuse to see the simple fact that is in front of your face.

Americans don't particularly care about other countries, nor do we have any strong desire to force our values or our political/economic system on other peoples. In general, we offer them good will and a mild hope that they adopt many of our ways which have been well shown to lead to peace & prosperity. But if they choose to not, we don't mind--we believe that everybody has the freedom to go to hell in their own way, if that's their wish.


That's why we took out Saddam and not France. Neither are/were friendly to us, but France didn't attack us nor openly & directly help & support people who do.

We can & will ignore the wasps that are merely buzzing around the garden---but when one stings our kid, the gloves come off and we take out the nest.

Posted by: fred at December 13, 2005 1:27 PM

apc: Einstein was right -- until the Israelis responded with helicopter gun ships.

What fred said.

Now that everyone pretty much agrees that OJ's a leftist, I need a new hobby horse. I think that it's going to be the war over American exceptionalism. It's a war that conservatives are getting into late, because we didn't realize that there was any question. Now it seems that the American left and some foreigners (!) want to argue that the US is just another country and the Democrats are starting to listen. For a start, everyone needs to commit fred's comment to memory. We are not just another country.

Posted by: David Cohen at December 13, 2005 2:29 PM

Einstein was wrong, we are in WWIV.

Posted by: Sandy P at December 13, 2005 4:09 PM


Hardly small-minded to force on them a system that requires they be treated with God-given dignity and rights that precede the state.

Posted by: oj at December 13, 2005 4:55 PM