I suppose it is part of the corruption of contemporary language that an analysis of American foreign policy by a senior associate of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace should argue for the right of the
Kagan’s chief concern in OF PARADISE AND POWER is that Europe (representing Paradise, an unrealistic place where diplomacy, compromise and law replace war as a solution for international problems) is suspicious of Power, wielded by a “realistic”
He attributes this to the fact that Europe is militarily weak compared to the
This is a convenient analogy for someone making a case for violent attack. Convenient, but based on a premise which Kagan does not examine: that the target of the hunter is truly a dangerous animal. But what if the target is a wounded bear, not really a threat, but whose death is desirable so the hunter can have its skin, or perhaps so that the hunter can show off his prowess. Might the hunter not lie about the danger posed by the bear in order to conceal his real motives, and justify destroying the animal?
All analogies are imperfect, but I would argue that mine is closer to the truth than Kagan’s: substitute for the hide of the bear the oil of the
Unquestionably, Iraq was ruled by a brutal tyrant but that tyranny was not the primary reason given either by the Bush administration for going to war, or by Kagan, for defending the war. Kagan describes the threat, in the closing pages of his book, as “the threat posed by terrorism and weapons of mass destruction”.
As I write this, both the claim that
Kagan is correct in saying that “Europeans and Americans do not share a common view of the threat posed by terrorism and weapons of mass destruction”. But to attribute this to the weaker military position of Europe misses the point: Europe does not see the threat because it simply doesn’t believe the claim that
He would have to explain why, if
He bases this right on a premise which he never examines, only declares without evidence: that the United States represents “the liberal democratic world”, that the Bush doctrine of using force for “regime change in despotic governments, and if necessary at the expense of international law and the UN Charterâ€¦has sprung naturally out of the liberal, revolutionary American tradition” that the United States “has always tended towards the promotion of liberal principles”, that the U.S. may ignore international law in the pursuit of “morality and justice”.
Kagan must think that his readers either know no history or have historical amnesia. In the long history of
What of the overthrow of democratically-elected governments in
Kagan doesn’t ask why it is the
To put it another way, the
It is not surprising that Kagan does not want to ask the important questions. His job is — like Henry Kissinger, like Condoleza Rice — to supply an intellectual justification, superficial as it is, for the bullying and violence of