Update And Repost: Via Youtube-Uncommon Knowledge With Fouad Ajami And Charles Hill


I’d like to see how this has held up:

A quote from Hill’s forward to Ajami’s new book on Syria as discussed in the video:

“[The] greatest strategic challenge of the twenty-first century is involves “reversing Islamic radicalism”‘

Both men wanted to see more leadership out of the Obama administration.  They both argued that there needed American led involvement of some sort in Syria.  It’s a bad neighborhood, and we’ve got to provide leadership and side with the rebels as best we can.

Hill pushed further to suggest that if America doesn’t lead onto a new set of challenges that now face the West, then Europe surely isn’t capable of leading either.  If we don’t strike out on our own as Truman did with bold leadership after World War II, we will end a generations long experiment in American exceptionalism.  If we don’t lead, someone who doesn’t share our values, probably will.

I wanted to contrast this vision with Francis Fukuyama’s then new piece, entitled ‘Life In A G-Zero World,‘ where if I’m not mistaken, Fukuyama is ok with such a diminished role for the U.S:

‘It is clear that no other power is going to step in to fill this role of structuring world politics on a grand scale. It does not necessarily imply, however, that the world will turn into a chaotic free-for-all. What occurs after the retreat of US hegemony will depend critically on the behavior of American partners and their willingness to invest in new multilateral structures. The dominant role of the US in years past relieved American allies of the need to invest in their own capabilities or to take the lead in solving regional problems. They now need to step up to the plate.’


‘The regional military balance has already shifted toward China more than many American allies would like to admit. Moreover, while the basic American commitment to Tokyo under the US-Japan Security Agreement remains sound, the willingness of the Obama administration to risk military conflict with China over some uninhabited islands in the middle of the Pacific is not at all clear.’


To some degree, I think both analyses are right, in that we either renew our ideals and pursue exceptionalism, confronting and pushing against those who don’t share our ideals and interests as we have in the past (including the threat and potential use of military force), and/or we re-adjust and recognize the roles of others, but also recognize that they don’t necessarily share our ideals and interests and we can’t necessarily trust anyone to look out for our interests.

This requires us to cooperate and rely on international institutions to some extent, but also institutions which have serious design flaws, poor incentives, and can bind us in treaties and obligations for which our interests can be poorly served.

What I don’t want to see is a continued squandering of our leverage and our strength, mainly at the hands of what I see as a rather utopian and naive worldview, held aloft by tempered, but still rather Left-leaning democratic radicals and activists, who claim peace but see many of their own worst enemies in the West itself, and who still must deal with the world and its political base as it is.

What’s the best way forward?

Any thoughts and comments are welcome.


Addition:  Walter Russell Mead thinks Fukuyama gets Japan right.

Related On This Site:  From The Wall Street Journal: ‘Charles Hill: The Empire Strikes Back’Fareed Zakaria BBC Interview: America In DeclineRichard Lieber In The World Affairs Journal–Falling Upwards: Declinism, The Box Set

From The Atlantic: Samuel Huntington’s Death And Life’s WorkFrom The American Interest Online: Francis Fukuyama On Samuel HuntingtonFrom Foreign Affairs Via The A & L Daily: ‘Conflict Or Cooperation: Three Visions Revisited’Has Fukuyama turned away from Hegel and toward Darwin? Adam Kirsch Reviews Francis Fukuyama’s New Book At The City Journal: ‘The Dawn Of Politics’…Is neoconservative foreign policy defunct…sleeping…how does a neoconservatism more comfortable with liberalism here at home translate into foreign policy?: Wilfred McClay At First Things: ‘The Enduring Irving Kristol’

Some thoughts on Fukuyama and Leo Strauss: Update And Repost- From YouTube: Leo Strauss On The Meno-More On The Fact/Value Distinction?’

Richard Fernandez At PJ Media: ‘The New Middle East’Niall Ferguson At The Daily Beast: ‘China Should Intervene in Syria, Not America’…From Foreign Affairs: ‘The Geography Of Chinese Power’From Via Media At The American Interest: ‘History Made; Media Blind’From The New Perspectives Quarterly: Francis Fukuyama’s ‘Is America Ready for a Post-American World?’Repost-From The American Interest Online: Niall Ferguson on ‘What Chimerica Hath Wrought’

Democracy as we envision it requires people to constrain themselves within laws and institutions that maintain democracy…through Mill’s utilitarianism?: Thursday Quotation: Jeane Kirkpatrick – J.S. Mill  Is Bernhard Henri-Levy actually influencing U.S. policy decisions..? From New York Magazine: ‘European Superhero Quashes Libyan Dictator’Bernhard Henri-Levy At The Daily Beast: ‘A Moral Tipping Point’
Do we try and invest in global institutions as flawed as they are…upon a Kantian raft of perpetual peace?:  Daniel Deudney On YouTube Responding to Robert Kagan: Liberal Democracy Vs. Autocracy

From The China Daily Mail: ‘Why Are Chinese Tourists So Rude?’

Full post here.

Well, not all of them, by any stretch, but it’s interesting to note the reasons why.  Click through for more:

‘After almost every ‘rude Chinese tourist’ story, unfortunately, made SCMP.com’s top-10 list, I decided to give the question some serious thought.’

This strikes me as similar to complaints Americans can receive while abroad (loud, rude, coarse, disrespectful of custom, don’t speak the language, etc).

Because I couldn’t find a photo, here’s an unrelated incident with a likely drunken Chinese man on a Chinese Subway giving a white guy a hard time, and getting a little more than he bargained for.  Good times:


We are populous, but they are many times more so.   We have a large contiguous land mass with great differences in climate and natural resources, and so do they (and a longer history).  They can be pragmatic, practical and cheap (shopkeepers of the world), so can we.  They have what will be the largest economy in the world (still state-manipulated, modernizing, pegged to our dollar) and seek to control commodities and supply chains while making deals around the world. They are rattling sabers with their military and seek more cultural, business and political influence in their backyard and around the world.

Psychologically, this will pose some interesting challenges for both countries, with lots of friction and a trickier road to reach mutual cooperation and understanding with these two huge economies.  We’ve got some serious work to do to build and connect that common ground.


Fascinating piece here.

What’s life like in Beijing for an American editing an English-language Business Magazine?

Interesting quote on author Eveline Chao’s censor:

‘I understood then the mundane nature of all that kept her in place. A job she didn’t like, but worked hard to keep. A system that would never reward her for good work, only punish her for mistakes. And in exchange: Tutors. Traffic. Expensive drumming lessons. They were the same things that kept anyone, anywhere, in place — and it was the very ordinariness of these things that made them intractable.’

Related On This Site: Kissinger says our relations with China are incredibly fragile, and that due to its own past, it may not fit as easily into the Western models of statecraft as some would think: From The Online WSJ: ‘Henry Kissinger on China. Or Not.’

From The WSJ-Exclusive: ‘Eric Schmidt Unloads On China In New Book’

From The China Daily Mail: ‘The Cultures Of North Korea And China: Conflict Escalation Explained’

Over a billion people and a culturally homogenous Han core.  Rapid industrialization atop an ancient civilization.  There is state-sponsored hacking and espionage, a good bit of corruption and a lot of young men floating around fast-growing cities.   There are people fighting for their freedoms, better laws, and making their way forward.  There is an often lawless, ruthless capitalism (and hefty State involvement and cronyism) and it will take smart leadership to maintain steady growth. Can they do it?  TED Via Youtube: Martin Jacques ‘Understanding The Rise Of China’From Foreign Affairs: ‘The Geography Of Chinese Power’From Via Media At The American Interest: ‘History Made; Media Blind’From The New Perspectives Quarterly: Francis Fukuyama’s ‘Is America Ready for a Post-American World?’

Are we headed toward 19th century geo-politics?:  Obama’s Decision On Missile Defense And A Quote From Robert Kagan’s: ‘The Return Of History And The End Of Dreams’ From Foreign Affairs: ‘The Geography Of Chinese Power’Do we try and invest in global institutions as flawed as they are?:  Daniel Deudney On YouTube Responding to Robert Kagan: Liberal Democracy Vs. AutocracyFrom The American Interest Online: Niall Ferguson on ‘What Chimerica Hath Wrought’

From The New Perspectives Quarterly: Francis Fukuyama’s ‘Is America Ready for a Post-American World?’

Full essay here.

I’ve often admired Fukuyama because he thinks deeply and is a moral realist enough to realize that American influence abroad has a strong military component.  However, he’s also hitched himself to the neocon wagon, which then hitched itself to the Bush administration’s invasion of Iraq…and well..it’s not a good time to be seen anywhere near those wagons.   I don’t think this invalidates much of Fukuyama’s thinking, but he’s been busy looking in other directions.

So, where does Fukuyama see us headed?

“This is not a story about American decline. The US remains the dominant power in the world, but the rest of the world is catching up.”

Why?  In part because we owe a lot of countries money, and they’re earning and saving their own money:

“The People’s Republic of China has $1.5 trillion in reserves; Russia, $550 billion; South Korea, $260 billion; Thailand, $110 billion; Algeria, $120 billion. The little states of the Gulf Cooperation Council collectively have about $300 billion in reserves. Saudi Arabia just by itself is saving money at the rate of approximately $15 billion every single month as a result of energy exports.”

Another of Fukuyama’s reasons is that we’re still operating on dated models of statecraft: 

“We are trying to use an instrument—hard military power—that we used in the 20th century world of Great Powers and centralized states in a weak-state world. You cannot use hard power to create legitimate institutions, to build nations, to consolidate politics and all of the other things that are necessary for political stability in this part of the world.”

Yet, if we are in a weak-state world, we must work with our allies more closely, and I suppose this includes the U.N.  The U.N has problems and we are currently rationally pursuing much of our interest outside of it.  Also, the weak-state world is only part of the world.  Russia seems happy to try and re-live the cold war days by being weak enough to need to do so, and powerful enough to succeed in some ways.

Fukuyama goes on to argue that our biggest problems are of our own making and need our own solutions.  There are three that he highlights:

“…first, the diminishing capacity of our public sector”  

“…second, a certain complacency on the part of Americans about understanding the world from a perspective other than that of the US…”

“…third, our polarized political system that is incapable of even discussing solutions to these problems.”

He characterizes his 1st point by example of FEMA, The Department of Homeland Security, and other enormously inefficient public behemoths. 

The second is kind a vague moral chastizement of Americans for meeting their moral obligations as they did during the cold war:

“It is a scandal that in this monstrous new embassy we’ve created in Baghdad, we only have a handful of fluent Arabic speakers.”

I don’t know what to say to this, other than the fact that it’s a pretty bad argument.  

I suspect the many Arabic speakers we do have in America aren’t entirely integrated into our society enough to offer their services to fill that new embassy even if they wanted to (however much the equity ideologues insist that it’s so).  Bush has committed us to Iraq in many ways we didn’t, and couldn’t, forsee.   It’s important to note that Fukuyama himself has been distancing himself from Bush, the necons, and precisely those elements that have decided where our moral obligations are to be pursued.

The third point may be news to nobody:

“Polarization has put off the table serious discussion of how to solve some of these long-term and very clear challenges that every public policy expert understands.”

I’m pretty unsure as to what to do about this either.

See Also:  Fukuyama’s The End Of History

Related On This Site: Charles Krauthammer From March 2006: Fukuyama’s FantasyA Few Thoughts On Allan Bloom–The Nietzsche ConnectionFrom Bloggingheads: Robert Kagan Discusses The U.N. Security CouncilFareed Zakaria BBC Interview: America In Decline?Richard Lieber In The World Affairs Journal–Falling Upwards: Declinism, The Box Set

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