Cultural Argument reviewed

Check out this article at Znet assessing some of Bernard Lewis and Samuel Huntington’s argument. Interesting in some points and overblown in others such as linkink “political Islam” to American foreign policy which is not completely the case. US foreign policy plays a role no doubt about that, but there are internal factors such as the lack of political representations and the failure of social changes with the help of other political forces.

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PNAC letter

to increase the level of military forces:

We understand the dangers of continued federal deficits, and the fiscal difficulty of increasing the number of troops. But the defense of the United States is the first priority of the government. This nation can afford a robust defense posture along with a strong fiscal posture. And we can afford both the necessary number of ground troops and what is needed for transformation of the military.

In sum: We can afford the military we need. As a nation, we are spending a smaller percentage of our GDP on the military than at any time during the Cold War. We do not propose returning to a Cold War-size or shape force structure. We do insist that we act responsibly to create the military we need to fight the war on terror and fulfill our other responsibilities around the world.

Ah neocons were always cold war nostalgics. Guess who lobbies for that?

Ilan Berman, long time no see

Do you remember the guy who wrote about why confronting Iran is necessary, with a detailed set of policy recommendations on how to go about this? Well, he just wrote an article linking Palestinian “terror” to Iranian aid. It’s good to see how each one of these guys have his own area of work for the benefits of US foreign policy.

Jim Lobe on Douglas Feith

Here:

Combined with several other personnel shifts, as well as a concerted effort to reassure the public and U.S. allies abroad that last week’s messianic inaugural address did not portend any dramatic new foreign policy departures, the resignation of Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith suggests that the administration is deliberately shedding its sharper and more radical edges.

(…)

Speculation about who may replace Feith includes Bolton, I. Lewis Libby, another neoconservative hardliner and Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff, and Richard Lawless, the more pragmatic, if hawkish, deputy assistant secretary of defense for Asia.

But Elliott Abrams, Rice’s former Middle East advisor, is considered the inside pick. Although neoconservative, Abrams is considered more flexible – and far more diplomatic – than either Feith or Bolton.

A day in the life of Michael Rubin

Two articles are present one in the Forward and one in Haaretz. It’s amazing how neocons choose their publications!

Feith to leave the Defense department

Here. There is a possibility that Scooter Libby would replace him according to Laura Rozen.

The fallacy in the export of democracy

Read this terrific article by historian Eric Hobsbawm that appeared originally in the December issue of Le Monde Diplomatique:

While threatening the integrity of universal values, the campaign to spread democracy will not succeed. The 20th century demonstrated that states could not simply remake the world or abbreviate historical transformations. Nor can they easily effect social change by transferring institutions across borders. The conditions for effective democratic government are rare: an existing state enjoying legitimacy, consent and the ability to mediate conflicts between domestic groups. Without such consensus, there is no single sovereign people and therefore no legitimacy for arithmetical majorities. When this consensus is absent, democracy has been suspended (as is the case in Northern Ireland), the state has split (as in Czechoslovakia), or society has descended into permanent civil war (as in Sri Lanka). “Spreading democracy” aggravated ethnic conflict and produced the disintegration of states in multinational and multicommunal regions after both 1918 and 1989.

The effort to spread standardised western democracy also suffers a fundamental paradox. A growing part of human life now occurs beyond the influence of voters – in transnational public and private entities that have no electorates. And electoral democracy cannot function effectively outside political units such as nation-states. The powerful states are therefore trying to spread a system that even they find inadequate to meet today’s challenges.

Europe proves the point. A body such as the European Union could develop into a powerful and effective structure precisely because it has no electorate other than a small number of member governments. The EU would be nowhere without its “democratic deficit”, and there can be no legitimacy for its parliament, for there is no “European people”. Unsurprisingly, problems arose as soon as the EU moved beyond negotiations between governments and became the subject of democratic campaigning in the member states.

It would have been difficult for me to express this idea in this clear and concise way. Thank you for making it happen Dr. Hobsbawm.