J sent this link to me today. The author argues that in pursuing stability as a diplomatic goal, America has turned its back on its anti-imperialist values, propping up reprobate regimes of rascals for American businessmen when it should have been supporting the anti-imperialist freedom fighters. There’s more than a little righteous indignation at our doing so, and I always appreciate when the good thing to do is shown to be the practical thing, too.
And it would have been in America’s business interests in the long run, too.
America’s finest values are sacrificed to keep bad governments in place, dysfunctional borders intact, and oppressed human beings well-behaved. In one of the greatest acts of self-betrayal in history, the nation that long was the catalyst of global change and which remains the beneficiary of international upheaval has made stability its diplomatic god.
From Ralph Peters (2002), “Stability, America’s Enemy, Parameters, Winter 2001-02, pp. 5-20.
And I wonder what J, who studied the Evil Empire back before it fell down and couldn’t get up and was I believe well prepared to beat it into submission on the battlefield, thinks about Ralph’s ideas on dealing with the Russian Federation. J?
Actually, he’s pretty much on target. Russian culture is a whole lot more “eastern” than “western” so they think totally different than our Judea-Christian heritage has taught us. They are much more “ends justifies means” than us and displaying “weakness” is very hateful. They are very sensitive to feeling inferior. Treating them as a peer (even when they’re not) and keeping them on a verifiable relationship (think START I & II) is critical. His point about never giving rewards in advance is exactly correct. “If I already have the reward, why execute the behavior?” would be a very “Russian” way of looking at things.
Incidentally, the whole Russian Federation ain’t done morphing. I don’t think they will be able to continue to prop up the dinosaur even in its present configuration for very long. Which is a very real concern, and one the “status quo” proponents latch onto. A nuclear power rapidly disintegrating can create some very real problems. Where is that crystal ball when you really need it?
Anyway, his comments on the Middle East were interesting. That was really outside the box. And his analysis of Africa was interesting. Nobody knows what that’s going to look like in 50 years. Cuba was thought provoking and Indonesia was really interesting. I noticed though that he left out India – clearly a world player in development and South America – so close to home we can’t ignore.
His fundamental point though was definitely valid and drives home a very intrinsic point – for a nation that owes it’s birth to throwing off Old World failed government, we surely spend a lot of time chasing after it. Do we really know who we are? Do we really have our own vision of where we are going? Should we really care what the EU (or UN) or any individual European state thinks of us? Will there be ANY European states 50 years from now?
We are taken out of all those systems and we’re better. By any measurement. Their approval really is a non-issue since they haven’t approved of us since 4 JUL 1776.
The world is a changin’ and we are really having a hard time seeing that. From the Clash of Civilizations, to Globalization, to the death of soveriegnty (sp?) in Europe, to the rise of something in Africa, to whatever China will become, to whatever India will become, to whatever NAFTA grows to (combination with MERCOSUL?), we won’t recognize our world’s political map in 50 years. On the way, lets not latch onto Europe, China, or Russia and defend indefensible old world vision.