20 April 2003


Howard Dean's campaign manager e-mailed me and informed me of this article. Dean contradicts Charles Knight's assertion that he favors "unilateralism" -- but without reference to Knight's assertion that he did so at a speech to the "Alliance for American Leadership, an invitation-only organization of foreign policy specialists most of whom were associated with the Clinton administration." People who are examining this candidate as if American democracy could be restored by electing a better dictator should ask him (or perhaps his campaign manager) if he can quiet Knight's rumor, and discuss what he actually said to the Alliance for American Leadership.

In other news, I've been alerted to an article in Le Monde that informs us that the neoconservatives are interested in using America's excess military might to bring democracy to the world. This may, in fact, be the public philosophy of many neoconservatives. But I have to question the sincerity of neoconservatives who proclaim thusly. Let's look, for instance, at what the US did for Afghanistan, with handpicked "leader" Hamid Kharzai pretending to represent the government in Kabul and with the warlords in charge throughout the rest of the country. Let's look at the US record in supporting dictatorships elsewhere, since the beginning of the 19th century -- dozens of invasions 'round the world, yet nothing for democracy. Let's think about what sort of Islamic fundamentalism would attain power if Iraq were to be allowed real democracy. It behooves me to think that the neoconservatives in power today would opt for the dictatorships of their choice (airbrushed with veneers of democratic process), rather than risk democracies which would, like Algeria almost did before they shut it down, become anti-Western.

I would argue, then, that the most honest statement of neoconservatism was Jeane Kirkpatrick's essay "Dictatorships and Double Standards," to be found in the November 1979 issue of Commentary magazine. Kirkpatrick argued that the United States should support "authoritarian" regimes as opposed to "totalitarian" regimes because, she argued, "authoritarian" regimes would become democratic eventually, whereas "totalitarian" regimes would never become democratic. By "totalitarian" she meant, of course, "Communist," the state-capitalist regimes of the USSR and China and their satellites. Now, the neoconservatives can't use Kirkpatrick's arguments any more, since the USSR collapsed and became "democratic" against all her expectations -- but her 1979 article still stands as the most honest statement of US neoconservative foreign policy to date. At least Kirkpatrick owned up to supporting dictatorship. Her argument's obsolescence reveals the neoconservatives as hiding, once again, behind meaningless declarations of "democracy."

You know, folks, in Francis Fukuyama's famous neoconservative book The End of History and the Last Man, it is proclaimed that "liberal democracy" is the ultimate, Hegelian, end of world-society. "Liberal," of course, is the neoconservatives' endorsement world for "free enterprise," the glorious pursuit of profit as seen through the eyes of those who appear to the rest of the world as corporate hegemons. What's interesting about Fukuyama's thesis, however, is that in picking up the "liberal" end, he can't explain the relevance of democracy to capitalism. Fukuyama can't explain why world-society wouldn't end up with capitalist dictatorships a la Singapore across the globe, and in actually addressing this question, he ruminates without producing any real answer. The rest of the neoconservatives have no real answer to Fukuyama's dilemma, either.

What this means is that not only is "free enterprise" not necessary for democracy, but that there's no substance in neoconservative claims that "free enterprise" is even relevant to democracy. In fact, in flying the banner of "free enterprise," the neocons don't seem to need the substance of democracy at all. Maybe this failure to give substance to an endorsement of "democracy," to give substance to any expressions of popular will beyond the particular neoconservative preference for "free enterprise," explains why the Bush Administration smells more like a dictatorship each day as it pursues its self-proclaimed chore of bringing "democracy" to the world.

Late-breaking: Howard Dean's campaign manager responded... saying that Dean was being cornered by some reporter with an absurd hypothetical question (which is of course quite likely)... stay tuned...


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