Friday, February 24, 2006

Francis Fukuyama Pulls The Plug On Neoconservatism

Francis Fukuyama has come out against the end results of neoconservatism, in a great and wide-ranging New York Times Magazine piece that reviews the "naïve Wilsonianism" animating the Bush administration's invasion of Iraq. Samples:
The problem with neoconservatism's agenda lies not in its ends, which are as American as apple pie, but rather in the overmilitarized means by which it has sought to accomplish them. What American foreign policy needs is not a return to a narrow and cynical realism, but rather the formulation of a "realistic Wilsonianism" that better matches means to ends.
Of course, in this Fukuyama merely retreats into ever-smaller jars; if you can't whup the terrorists, he seems to be saying, push them into power directly or indirectly and watch as they grapple with the rubber-hits-the-road details of governance:
A durable Israeli-Palestinian peace could not be built upon a corrupt, illegitimate Fatah that constantly had to worry about Hamas challenging its authority. Peace might emerge, sometime down the road, from a Palestine run by a formerly radical terrorist group that had been forced to deal with the realities of governing.


But the overarching lesson that emerges from these cases is that the United States does not get to decide when and where democracy comes about. By definition, outsiders can't "impose" democracy on a country that doesn't want it; demand for democracy and reform must be domestic. Democracy promotion is therefore a long-term and opportunistic process that has to await the gradual ripening of political and economic conditions to be effective.

The most charitable view of the Bush administration's views going into Iraq was that the adventure would end with a stable and democratic Iraq on friendly terms with the United States and the West generally, on perhaps hostile terms with neighbor Iran, all to the general betterment of the world oil markets. That this has not happened reveals a profound failure of imagination on the part of the Bush administration when it came time to draft the post-invasion parts of their plans.