Thursday, May 22, 2008

The Newest World Order

Steven Martinovic on Enter Stage Right reviews Robert Kagan's latest book, "The Return of History and the End of Dreams;" the cover like "Of Paradise and Power" a work of art, the title a wink at Francis Fukuyama's new world order bestseller from a decade ago, "The End of History and the Last Man."

"Kagan argues that the short-lived era of nations competing with each other economically has once again given way to the old game of geopolitics – back to a world of clashing national interests. Instead of communism, liberal democracies have to deal with the threat of autocratic regimes – Russia and China primarily – who view the expansion of an international liberal order as aggression. Concern for democracy and human rights, the autocrats believe, threatens the old notion of Westphalian sovereignty. And while they don't export an ideology per se, autocracies export their example of strong central government combined with limitations of freedom – all to preserve "order" and continuation of power – to their client states."
Indeed, the retreat from Kantian teleological notions does not mean a farewell to Hegelianism in international affairs. The current cohort cannot be expected to be very responsive to calls to let go of the post-democratic ideals of world government.

Steven Groves on Spero News outlines U.N. plans to force autonomous nations (notably the U.S.) to go along with international interventionism, opposed to the principles of Westphalian sovereignty (or what's left of that). Just how far these post-democratic initiatives go is proved by the R2P pressure group made up of 'private citizens,' a supposedly grassroots movement but actually manned by an international intellectual elite. Let's put it this way: it's highly unlikely you'll find your grocer to be a card-carrying member. Read Groves and shiver over the banality of Byzantian intrigue in the corriders of global power at the expense of democratic principles!

In the neo-conservative context, which views the spread of democracy as the best answer to evil empires, Martinovic notes: "So how does the West deal with a new pragmatic autocracy – one which has kept the lid on political aspirations while still bringing a measure of material wealth – which doesn't fear organizations like NATO for its military power, as Kagan argued in a recent Washington Post essay – but rather the spread of democracy it represents?"

"Kagan's 21st Century agenda for democracies is one that largely draws from the Cold War years. He proposes an alliance of democracies like Canada, the U.S., Japan and India, among others, which would complement NATO and the United Nations. He argues that liberal nations need to continue promoting democracy for nations like Russia and China and to intervene to promote the same in the Middle East, even if that means assisting in the overthrow of regimes friendly to the United States."

"Critics will likely either praise or dismiss "The Return of History and the End of Dreams" as a "new" or more "realistic" neoconservatism, perhaps demonstrating that they never fully understood what that conservative strain's founders were really arguing. Regardless, what Kagan's latest truly represents is a clarion call to those who believe that it is possible to peacefully coexist with autocracies, that negotiation and trade are the only tools necessary to bring autocracies into the fold of democracy."
"If Kagan isn't convincing enough, perhaps the words of Sergei Lavrov, Russia's foreign minister, will be. In an essay last year he argued that, "[F]or the first time in many years, a real competitive environment has emerged on the market of ideas for the future world order that are compatible with the present stage of global development" one that sees competition between different "value systems and development models." They don't sound like the words of someone open to accepting liberal democracy and human rights."
Lavrov's words give pause for thought and enquiry: what precisely is the value system and the development model prevailing in Russia today? Who knows is kindly requested to elaborate. On a scale of subjective totalitarianism we might rate it a post-Communist dysfunctional empire with a bent for personality worship, less virulent than Milosevic's fascistoid nationalism - but certainly not shades removed from post-democratic transnational progressivism.


Pajamas Media: "The Glenn and Helen Show: Robert Kagan" (audio file)

- Filed on Articles in "Transnational Progressivism" -


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