Imperialism in an Age of Terror

Nob Akimoto

Nob Akimoto is a policy analyst and part-time dungeon master. When not talking endlessly about matters of public policy, he is a dungeon master on the NWN World of Avlis

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14 Responses

  1. George Turner says:

    I’m thinking you might need to read “Special Providence” or some of Meade’s other books. In Meade’s view, military force is only a tiny component of American power, and in many ways the least significant. I haven’t been following his blog, but perhaps his renewed focus on it is because most of our other forces have abandoned the field, defeated by self-doubt, ennui, and political correctness.

    Basically, the left-wing doesn’t really believe in anything anymore, other than free tuition and free internet, and perhaps the right to party. They’re prefectly happy to let half a billion women live as chattel and let gays get hung from cranes, because as the unrepentant chief philosopher of the Nazi party argued (and he is where their arguments come from, via the 1968 student movement), they have no right nor ability to judge another culture.

    He might be grasping for the last force we still have in the field.Report

  2. George Turner says:

    Well, it’s a viewpoint that resonates. How did the left go from trying to transform the world and raise people up from ignorance, free them from theocracy, superstition, and abject poverty, to viewing disposable plastic garbage bags as mankind’s primary existential threat? What happened to their spirit, courage, determination, and concern for their fellow man?

    It’s like they all got hooked on drugs back in the 60’s or something, rejected the struggle their parents and grandparents passed to them, had their brains sucked out, and focused on self-absorbed trivialities like kids in a special ed class. The rest of use are wondering why they ran off to get high and party (or establish the right to free 32-ounce drinks, or the right to ban free 32-ounce drinks, or whatever the heck popped into their heads) when there’s still so much unfinished work to be done.

    As Meade described us, we’re like an octopus, seemingly uncoordinated yet wrapping our tentacles everywhere. Four of our tentacles have gone numb, and half our remaining tentacles are tanbled up in the numb ones, leaving us weak and ineffectual. The complaint, of course, is that the remaining two tentacles are too menacing and need to be gnawed off.Report

    • bookdragon in reply to George Turner says:

      Perhaps they realized that carrying ‘the white man’s burden’ was a road to hell paved with good intentions?

      Seriously, the groups I’m familiar with, and support, who work to do these things have learned to work from within, after spending some time in the culture and listening to the people who live there. Education and empowerment work best from the ground up. International support certainly helps, but primarily when its providing resources for the people affected to build their own solutions. Imposing change – especially change in our own image – from the top down is almost always a recipe for resentment and failure.

      (Note: I say ‘almost’ because obviously there are exceptions. Genocide, for instance, should be met with extreme and immediate measures).Report

    • scott a. in reply to George Turner says:

      My take is that the world probably could do without an uncoordinated, incompetent octopus with its tentacles only loosely under any kind of rational control. It seems to me that your post illustrates that Americans have the ambition to be bringers of light and civilization and all the rest of it, but the record tells me that we’re pretty bad at it. The British sucked at imperialism, but even they had lots of Cambridge and Oxford graduates who took the time to actually learn the languages, cultures, and customs of the peoples they wanted to rule. Compared to them, on a competence level, we’re kids playing with action figures. Of all the major industrialized Westerm countries, as a people we were probably the most provincial and least interested in figuring out other countries and seeing things from their point of view. My basic point is that our grandiose ambitions far outrun our competence and understanding, and just “doing something” with other countries because we mean well, even when we don’t know what we’re doing, isn’t going to do them or us any good. If we can do something tangible and concrete and helpful that we know how to do, great. But a crusade against Theocracy and Superstition and Poverty? It may make us feel good, but without knowing what that would mean as specifically applied to a real country in the real world it’s just an excuse for mischief-making by pundits and leaders with ego adjustment problems.Report

      • George Turner in reply to scott a. says:

        And your position is exactly what Meade addressed in “Special Providence.”

        It doesn’t seem rational that uncoordinated thrashing could possibly compete with the highly educated European expertise at foreign policy. It also doesn’t seem like the uncoordinated chaos of the free-market could outcompete centrally planned communism, either. As Meade put it, if uncoordinated US foreign policy had been as successful as decisive and focused European foreign policy in the 20th century, the US would be back to 13 colonies hugging the Atlantic coast. The Europeans went from ruling empries that spanned the globe to being unable to field an army in Europe.

        His point about the octopus is that it doesn’t look like it can work. Pick some random country. We have businessmen cutting deals with their businessmen. We have employers trying to recruit people into a low-wage labor force. We have activists trying to get the workers to protest it. We have a Congress trying to put pressure on them to act differently, while the same Congress, under pressure from farmers, is giving them wheat. Out in the hinterlands we have missionaries teaching them about the gospels and mud stoves, and we have feminists telling them about birth control and that Christianity is a mysogonistic conspiracy, which is sometimes disputed by the Peace Corps volunteers they meet. We have our military advisors helping their armed forces, who watch US movies telling them the US military is evil.

        No matter what they do, they’re still engaged with the US from top to bottom. If they don’t like what some of us say, they side with others of us. They’re engaging our free-market of ideas, economics, and policies that are tuned to optimally fill niches, as opposed to some all-encompasing policy dreamed up by a diplomat that doesn’t fill any niche very well.Report

  3. Nob – I think this serves as a useful introduction to an attack on what you call liberal imperialism, but I for one would love to see a more direct and thorough rebuttal of something specific that Meade or one of his fellow travelers writes. I think that would give a better idea of exactly what it is that you’re addressing. Basically, I’m asking for a good and thorough paragraph by paragraph fisking of a Meade post, article, etc.

    I think you’ll find that such fiskings are also most enjoyable to write.Report

    • Mopey Duns in reply to Mark Thompson says:

      Seconded. This post would be better with more argument and less assertion. Obviously you think you are right, but people disagree in this stuff. If you expect the mere description of both positions will cause you to prevail, you are going to lose.

      For example, simply asserting we are safer does not prove anything. The quote from the Zenko foreign affairs article provides no facts that contradict the claim of danger, merely derides it. I don’t disagree, by the way. I just think the position should be argued. An since I can’t get into the article myself, since it is subscription only, it would be decent to throw some meat in the post.Report

    • I’ll probably tackle Paul Berman at some point, but I’m also preparing something more of a point by point on one of Mead’s longform essays.

      My problem with this one was more that I started getting into a screed about liberal hawks in general and I confess, got a bit side-tracked.Report