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The Universal Soldier
February 28, 2006: In 1992 foreign policy wonk Francis Fukuyama published his book "The End of History and the Last Man". It caused quite a stir. Now Fukuyama is back. In a think piece titled "After Neoconservatism" in the February 19th New York Times. Saying "End" was misread by the many who thought it a "neoconservative tract" positing a "universal hunger for liberty in all people" and an "accelerating transnational movement in favor of liberal democracy". According to Fukuyama circa 2006, "End" was actually "a kind of Marxist argument". Though not one leading inexorably to communism. The position he really presented was that the tendency to desire liberal democracy and political participation were byproducts of living in a "technologically advanced and prosperous" society. And that the primary, or initial, universal human desire is to live in such a society.

Will the real universal please stand up?

In "After Neoconservatism" Francis Fukuyama also says it would be a shame if Americans were to lose faith in our mission to "promote democracy around the world" and embrace cynical isolationism in response to the failure of democratization by force in Iraq. Which could be read as: though those who thought a freedom loving civitas would bloom in Iraq apres invasion may have advanced their ideals via erroneous policy, their intentions were basically good. That this adventure in idealism condemned thousands of people to death, maimed countless others, plunged a nation into social chaos and enhanced the political clout of the kind of Muslim fanatics who go crazy over cartoons, shouldn't make us turn too critical an eye on the bloody high mindedness that inspired it.

Let's see. Where have we heard this sort of argument before? Try the political left during the entire 20th Century. After multiple examples of mass death in myriad places became the flower of utopianism.

Also, if the desire for liberty isn't a human universal won't promoting democracy around the world be a pretty tough sell? But perhaps what Fukuyama means is that idealism about promoting world wide democracy must be rechanneled into feeding the universal desire for living in a prosperous society. Which will ultimately produce a world wide desire for democracy. Maybe.

Understanding what Fukuyama means now, is made more difficult by the fact that so many misunderstood what he meant then. To cloud interpretation still further, Fukuyama is renouncing the neoconservative foreign policy "The End of History" wasn't meant to inspire. But why renounce something for which you bear no responsibility?

All-about-oil types think idealism had nothing to do with invading Iraq. And doubtless the starry eyed stuff did commingle with various types of more base material. None the less, I believe Francis Fukuyama is correct in his analysis that idealism of the sort he describes was part of what moved President Bush and many (though not all) of his yes men and women from both parties. But then, I'm not a cynic. Which is why I'll never embrace cynical isolationism.

The USA should indeed cast its eye outward. First up: China. Maybe we could use diplomatic and economic pressure on our most beloved creditor to make them do right by their dissidents. And how about the trade and labor policies of China and other countries that are reducing our manufacturing base to rubble and leaving rust belt regions with government the primary employer and taxpayers the main source of "investment"? Then there's Mexico with its poverty, political corruption and social addiction to illegal immigration. Could it be time for a staged intervention at our borders? Paging Pakistan. Has Osama been rousted from the mountains yet? When Dubya declared that those responsible for 9/11 were wanted "dead or alive" who knew old age would be the bounty hunter! I could go on. So many non isolationist opportunities; so little time. But QT's main topic is the home front not foreign policy. Though I do try and keep my hand in re the universals.

When Christians ask why God allows atheism and doesn't make everyone a believer, the answer is that faith forced is no faith at all. President Bush, a purported Christian, seems to have forgotten the sticky wicket of free will when he invaded Iraq. It's as if he saw democracy as a medicine that had to be forced on a child for its own good, as opposed to something which loses meaning if not embraced freely. But hey-- maybe Dubya is in sync with the "kind of Marxist" reasoning of Francis Fukuyama. And like Fukuyama, believed human desire for freedom is not really universal, merely the sometime by-product of material conditions. If so, it means that Bush, who intellectuals like to paint as a dull boy, is among the few to have grasped the true meaning of "The End of History and the Last Man".

It also means that somewhere in the White House, possibly hidden behind a stack of bibles, there just might be a golden calf.

Carola Von Hoffmannstahl-Solomonoff

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Copyright (c) 2006 by Carola Von Hoffmannstahl-Solomonoff. This material may be freely distributed subject to the terms and conditions set forth in the Open Publication License. This license relieves the author of any liability or implication of warranty, grants others permission to use the Content in whole or in part, and insures that the original author will be properly credited when Content is used. It also grants others permission to modify and redistribute the Content if they clearly mark what changes have been made, when they were made, and who made them. Finally, the license insures that if someone else bases a work on this Content, that the resultant work will be made available under the Open Publication License as well.


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