Fukuyama may be coming down hard on the conservative view of economy – Will Fukuyama Embrace Socialism? – but that’s really nothing compared with the blistering critique he has reserved for foreign affairs issues.
Fukuyama sees the economic meltdown disfiguring brand America, but he points out that this corrosive process began earlier, with the Iraq War.
As you may recall, “promoting freedom and democracy” was the fallback story the Bush administration reverted to once it became clear that Iraq had no active WMDs programs and that it had had no part in the 9/11 attacks.
This may seem like a good enough story – after all, who would be against promoting freedom and democracy? You gotta love your freedom and democracy, right?
The problem, Fukuyama enlightens us, is that “to many people around the world, America’s rhetoric about democracy sounds a lot like an excuse for furthering U.S. hegemony”. And “by using democracy to justify the Iraq War, the Bush administration suggested to many that ‘democracy’ was a code word for military intervention and regime change”
I guess that indeed causes a problem. But that must be for sure the view of those “European socialists and Latin American populists” who are dead set against all things American anyway. As long as America’s allies and the “free world” at large keep buying the story, brand America won’t have to go on sale.
Well, then it’s time to start printing those discount coupons, because the gaps are widening, and the story simply isn’t holding anymore. Just consider Fukuyama’s candid admission: “We don’t have much credibility when we champion a ‘freedom agenda’.”
This is all the more striking if you consider that Fukuyama was one of the intelectual references of the neoconservative movement and an early supporter of intervention in Iraq. In 1998, he signed a letter from the Project for the New American Century (I know it sounds like something out of a James Bond movie, but it really existed) urging President Clinton to implement “a strategy for removing Saddam’s regime from power”, using a “full complement of diplomatic, political and military efforts”. The reason? “To end the threat of weapons of mass destruction”.
In 2001, shortly after the 9/11 attacks, Fukuyama and his neocon pals charged again. Indicating that Hussein “may” have “provided assistance in some form” to the terrorists, they again called for his prompt removal from power.
But even if he didn’t, it didn’t matter anyway, because “any strategy aiming at the eradication of terrorism and its sponsors must include a determined effort to remove Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq.” What’s more, leaving him in place would “constitute an early and perhaps decisive surrender in the war on international terrorism.” So, guilty or not, he simply had to go. No confusion there.
In case you’re loosing track, here goes a schematic: in 1998, the stated reason for removing Hussein from power was the danger he posed to the world with his WMD programs. In 2001, staying in touch with the latest trends, the reason switched to his being “one of the leading terrorists on the face of the Earth”. Who said those conservative boys aren’t trendy? They pay more attention to what’s cool than a Japanese Kogyaru girl.
It could be said in Fukuyama’s defense that he was consistent – after all, the only reason he didn’t subscribe to as a casus belli was precisely promoting freedom and democracy.
So Fukuyama may have supported military intervention in Iraq regardless of the flavor of the day justification, but he still tried to salvage the “freedom” and “democracy” ideas from being torched, alongside thousands of people, in the Iraqi hell.
In the end, he failed in that mission, and those pristine ideas wound up dragged through the Trigris’ mud – which may help explain his latter very public falling out with his old neocon friends.
Because it’s one thing to obliterate a country. Another, quite different, is to tarnish the conceptual pillars of brand America. And that he just couldn’t stand.