Let’s say within Western civilization there are many operational conceptions of liberty, woven into doctrines and movements, internalized into minds and informing various personal decisions (join this group or that-accept this boss’s instructions or not-date this guy/girl over that).
Such conceptions often come into conflict with religious beliefs, self-interest, duties and loyalties to family, to tradition and promises kept as citizens to other citizens. They also come into conflict with competing factions and rival political interests.
Let’s also say, that, exhausted or not, overextended or not, ’empire’ or not, the United States has serious internal and structural conflicts over operational conceptions of liberty, woven into recent institutional, political and policy decisions.
How such conceptions might be affecting foreign policy is probably worth thinking about. This blog believes that Barack Obama was a serious shift Leftwards politically, towards a kind of cooled liberation theology, peace idealism and identitarianism with many collectivist elements. There may be many valid historical reasons for this turn of events (specific and institutional injustices, among others), though I think such a turn came with familiar disagreements over the interests of activist elements butting-heads with a more pragmatic, humanitarian, liberal internationalism.
I believe this has also led to the further disenfranchisement of many Tea-Party Republicans, limited-government supporters, and has helped hasten the profound populist movements within both parties profoundly unhappy with the status quo.
Despite and because of such shifts, it’s interesting to think in terms of what might be staying relatively the same, or at least, more slowly changing within ‘corridors of power.’
There are many legal constraints and similar logistical challenges placed in the lap of any sitting President. There are unique unforeseen events which come to define any term.
Robert Kagan on American foreign policy similarities moving through time from Bush–>Obama–>Trump.
‘All this began to change as Putin came to worry about his own hold on power in Moscow. He was alarmed by the democratic revolutions in Georgia and Ukraine in 2003 and 2004. But as McFaul notes, it was the disastrous Russian parliamentary elections of 2011 that had the greatest impact. The widespread protests against election irregularities and against Putin’s planned return to the presidency for a third term led him to revive the “old Soviet-era argument as his new source of legitimacy — defense of the motherland against the evil West, and especially the imperial, conniving, threatening United States.”
It seems U.S. foreign policy may be lacking a deeper, strategic vision for our place in the world and our stance towards Russia, in particular, with no end in sight to a divided political and civil debate.
In fact, I don’t know how bad it will get. Here’s to hoping for the best, and expecting a pretty bad run, and meanwhile, for others in the world to act as they see fit.
What do you know?
Any thoughts and comments are welcome.
Another favorite of this blog, Kenneth Minogue, tried to identify the connective tissue common to ideology: ‘Alien Powers; The Pure Theory Of Ideology‘.
See Also: Google books has ‘Political Order In Changing Societies‘ and ‘Who Are We?: The Challenges To America’s National Identity‘ (previews)available.
Huntington’s page at Harvard here.
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’