Thursday, May 25, 2006

fascism, fukuyama, etc.

Diebold machine via the Augusta Chronicle(l.);Nicola Jennings cartoon of Francis Fukuyama via the Guardian.

1.from Billmon: "Cooking With Gas"

It's quite unfair, if you think about it. The Saudis hold token elections for toothless municipal councils -- in which women weren't even allowed to vote -- and get petted and praised by democracy boy and his office wife. Egypt holds semi-rigged elections for its national parliament, in which an illegal opposition party nonetheless wins a substantial number of seats (albeit under various aliases) -- and gets nothing but grief. So what does Saudi Arabia have that Egypt doesn't have (or at least, not in exportable quantities)?

2.via American Samizdat:
"Top Ten Signs of the Impending U.S. Police State"

3. a reminder, from indie journalist Robert Lindsay that the war is hardly over in Afghanistan either.

4. hey Francis: next time, say something before the bombs start falling:
from Scott Harrop, guest-posting at Helena Cobban's Just World News:

Why has Fukuyama's recently released book, America at the Crossroads: Democracy, Power and the Neoconservative Legacy (Yale UP) caused such a sensation? Quite simply, here we have a leading inner member of the neoconservatives in the Reagan and Bush Administrations breaking ranks with his former comrades. His book and his address at UVA explain why and set out a better course for American foreign policy.

In his lively prepared remarks , Fukuyama condensed his book into 30 minutes. He began with an overview of neoconservatism's roots. Evolving far from its origins on the Trotskyite left in the 1930?s, neoconservatives after World War II retained an idealism about the universality of human rights and were impressed that American power could be used for noble purposes. On the domestic front, neoconservatives focused on counterproductive consequences of government social engineering efforts.

Yet between these two themes emerged a key contradiction and legacy. The same movement so eloquently skeptical of government'?s capacity to enact social transformation was as sure in its convictions about the utility of international force to bring about ?transformation? for other countries.

Applied then to the post 9-11 world, the Bush neoconservatives made three critical misjudgments. First was the expansion of the doctrine of pre-emptive war into that of preventive war. After 9/11, Fukuyama agreed that containment was no longer an option and invading Afghanistan was necessary - to pre-empt a demonstrated imminent threat. But too many variables of the presumed threat from Iraq were unclear. What imminent threat was to be pre-empted?

Out of a desire to be lazy, I was just going to post these links and excerpts and leave it at that, but Fukuyama bears some HugoCommenting:Harrop discusses FF's remarks at some length, and just based on this JWN post(haven't read th' book), it's difficult to not come away with the impressions that

1.Fukuyama's thesis is just warmed-over Kerryism, a la Mister there's-a-better-way's pusilanimous insistence(s) in 2004 that even though he voted both for and against the war, if it was up to him he would've worked harder to get the Europeans to support it first, but hey I'm not a dove, don't accuse me of that, blah blah blah... Only with bigger words, and (presumably) footnotes.

2.Apparently Fukuyama says nothing about the shifting rationales for the war, as if the phoney-baloney concern about WMDs from '02-'03 is just not something we talk about in polite society. Harrop doesn't call him on this, saying nothing about it either. As I was hitherto unfamiliar with Harrop's writing, I don't know if I should attribute this to an oversight or flimflammery.

3.Harrop is kind in not pointing out that Fukuyama is an intellectual seeking redemption*, because he's (a)best known for The End of History and the Last Man, and (b)how blitheringly wrong he was in The End of History, because he seemed to buy the staggeringly insipid assumption that the fall of Soviet communism was, somehow, the only unentanglement of a major world conflict that mattered, because the Soviets, the Europeans, and the Americans were the only peoples that mattered in geopolitical terms. Billions of other people exist, sure. But to make shoes and low-cost electronics gear for us, give us their oil, and maybe smile when we visit their countries and take photos of their charmingly indigeneous ways.

*Harrop says Fukuyama arrived at his UVA speech gig on a Harley(please stop laughing). This strikes me as tellingly poetic, not only because it reminds me of Kerry's lame Leno appearance doing the same thing two years ago, but because Harley Davidsons are ridiculously overpriced and antiquated bikes sold as boutique items for yuppies who want to recapture their youth, much as FF wants to recapture his relavence.