A Few Thoughts On Foreign Policy-Adam Garfinkle At The American Interest: ‘Conservative Principles Of World Order’

Full piece here.

Click through for some ideas on resetting conservative foreign policy principles:

‘If Republicans adopt this basic view as a counterpoint to that of the second Obama Administration, it would be good for the country. It makes sense on its own terms and it would encourage a more serious approach to a subject we have lately tended to sleepwalk through. Can Republicans come together around this vision? Please, I hope so.’

The Republican party has not been showing good foreign policy leadership, and there seems to be a real lack of overall vision lately. Garfinkle throws out some ideas: American liberty as the measure of all things, international security through strengthened sovereignty, and live and let live, as some possible guiding alternatives.

In the meantime, what’s the current administration’s approach?:

Here’s a quote from Anne-Marie Slaughter, on liberal internationalism:

‘The central liberal internationalist premise is the value of a rules-based international order that restrains powerful states and thereby reassures their enemies and allies alike and allows weaker states to have sufficient voice in the system that they will not choose to exit’

America must be restrained, and constantly appeal to and/or help to create an international order, regardless of the design flaws of the current international order.  The liberal international map doesn’t always line up with the terrain, and can overlook many problems beyond the limits of its understanding.

For example:

What kind of table do we have to sit at if Al Qaida and the Taliban, or the people ruling Northern Mali are on the other side?  Obama is still using drone strikes, special ops and security agency capabilities on them anyways, so some of this may simply be politics.

Does the formality of speaking with the Taliban, say, before some potential military action, or listening to Gadhafi or Ahmadinejad (both state sponsors of terror) drone on for an hour on the floor of the U.N., or waiting for the U.N. to act in the case of Syria, have some symbolic value that eclipses the value of our freedom to act unilaterally or in an alternative coalition to which we are bound under different rules in protecting our interests?

What dangers are coming from picking winners and supporting rebels (which America has almost always done from installing a Shah, to supporting the Taliban against the Russians) in what seem like endless Middle-Eastern conflicts according to the liberal internationalist doctrine alone?

What if Russia is simply adversarial (Cold War), and like some in China, would pursue interests and ideals that put it in direct conflict with what we hold most dear, as well as our interests?

And perhaps most importantly:

What confers legitimacy and moral authority upon those international bodies to whom we would appeal to resolve our disputes, bind ourselves, and try to bind others, given the enormous chasms between peoples and ideas, free and unfree societies, wealthier and impoverished nations, rogue actors and rogue states?

Part of the reason the U.N looks and acts the way it does, is because it reflects what’s out there.  The incentives may simply be wrong.

I suppose the burden is on those of us who espouse more conservative, or classically liberal Western ideas and principles to come up with something.  Generally the ideals which guide many European secular humanists, the human rights crowd, and those who often seek peace unto itself find liberal internationalism appealing, and many such folks have been most effective at creating international institutions.  That said, I’m not necessarily on board what’s become of the neo-conservative option either;  using military force to spread democracy, often resting upon the national greatness platform.   The long-term consequences and costs of Iraq are up for debate, but if Iraq is how that vision is implemented, a debate is overdue in my opinion.  We can still pursue our interests, but we’ve arguably got to be a little smarter and more strategic about it.  We’ve got to earn our national greatness again.

Here’s a suggestion I threw up before, just to put it out there:

How about a coalition of free traders, that works for the common self-interest of protecting the life-blood of our respective economies with naval forces against piracy, drug-runners, and corrupt and aggressive regimes that agitate in international waters?  Perhaps America, Britain, Australia, Canada, Japan, South Africa, South Korea, Germany, France, Israel, Brazil, Chile (China down the road) could start something like a cleaned up, international, merchant marines?

Or maybe regional trading partners are responsible for their own waters and borders, and more powerful actors can assist in regional waters and international waters.  It would be nice to see trade come front and center in at least guiding how freer and more trade oriented societies pursue common interest, and this could include China, to some extent.


What about here at home, and our economy?:

-As Garfinkle points out, domestic policy will affect what we do abroad:

Many people are looking around and seeing signs of cultural and political stagnation and real economic stagnation, if not decline, for the U.S. relative to the rest of the world.  The winds have changed, but we still can set our sails again.

At the end of the video below made right after Obama was elected in 2008, Peter Thiel argued that real growth has been stagnant since about 1970 after accounting for the recent housing collapse.  The average family is working harder to stay mostly in the same place.  He attributes this to the fact that real technological advancement is obviously occurring, but just not exponentially, and it’s not exponentially increasing real wages, nor the same growth rate for the GDP we had for previous generations (mainly the Boomers).   Those days of economic growth may be gone and this is mostly due to increased global competition and a new landscape to which America needs to adapt.

He wants to reframe the debate away from the culture wars and battles for control of the public square (the decline of institutionalized religion, the rise of feminism, women in the workforce, race, identity politics etc).  Politically, the Left clearly has a lot of reasons for holding aloft science and technology (at the very least they’ll always need a goose to lay the golden eggs, but it goes much deeper).  The Right begrudgingly accepts the importance of technology, but downplays its importance and has its own plans, according to Thiel.

He’s started the Thiel Fund that offers money to people willing to pursue an idea outside of the academy.  He wants people to focus on the state of education, especially STEM going forward, to be a little more realistic on the tech economy, and to stay competitive globally and to work toward open trade and freer capital markets.

Addition:  Does he advocate for greater realism on the tech front or is he lamenting the lack of grand, sometimes utopian visions attached to capital markets?  See the link to Virginia Postrel above.


Related On This Site:  Adam Garfinkle At The American Interest: ‘What Did The Arab Spring Really Change?’Adam Garfinkle At The American Interest’s Via Media: “The Rise Of Independent Kurdistan?”..Adam Garfinkle At The American Interest on Egypt: ‘Still More of the Same—and Something New’

How does America lead or pursue its interests in this new landscape?:  We need to confront the rise of Islamism and the realities of many Muslim societies through our policy.  Putting women’s rights and international institutions front and center when you’re dealing with Al Qaida and the Taliban, assorted enemies, a suspicious China and a weaker adversarial Russia has serious problems …Via Youtube-Uncommon Knowledge With Fouad Ajami And Charles Hill…Daniel Deudney tries to build a global raft partially upon Kant’s idealism and says the global institutions we’ve got are better than nothing: Repost-Daniel Deudney On YouTube Responding to Robert Kagan: ‘Liberal Democracy Vs. Autocracy’

From The American Interest: Francis Fukuyama Interviews Peter Thiel-’A Conversation With Peter Thiel’… part of Fukuyama’s platform came from Huntington, but also Hegel via Kojeve.  From The American Interest Online: Francis Fukuyama On Samuel Huntington…Can economics and politics ever be a science…Hegel’s influence can be problematic: Update And Repost- From YouTube: Leo Strauss On The Meno-More On The Fact/Value Distinction?’…Has Fukuyama turned from Hegel toward Darwin…do we need a more moral, bureaucratic class here in America and across Europe?: Adam Kirsch Reviews Francis Fukuyama’s New Book At The City Journal: ‘The Dawn Of Politics’

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