O que é este blog?

Este blog trata basicamente de ideias, se possível inteligentes, para pessoas inteligentes. Ele também se ocupa de ideias aplicadas à política, em especial à política econômica. Ele constitui uma tentativa de manter um pensamento crítico e independente sobre livros, sobre questões culturais em geral, focando numa discussão bem informada sobre temas de relações internacionais e de política externa do Brasil. Para meus livros e ensaios ver o website: www.pralmeida.org.

Mostrando postagens com marcador Foreign Policy. Mostrar todas as postagens
Mostrando postagens com marcador Foreign Policy. Mostrar todas as postagens

terça-feira, 15 de agosto de 2017

World War I and the Triumph of Illiberal Ideology - Matthew McCaffrey (Mises)

World War I and the Triumph of Illiberal Ideology

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Mises Daily, 08/14/2017

Just over a century ago, in August 1914, the major European nations plunged their peoples into one of the most disastrous conflicts in history. The First World War claimed at least seventeen million lives, destroyed the social and economic fabric of Western Europe, and played a vital role in the expansion of state power around the world. It is therefore difficult to exaggerate its importance.
The causes of the war are too many and too complex to discuss in a short article (however, for those interested, the late Ralph Raico provides a fascinating overview here). I will discuss only one general problem that helped fuel the catastrophe: the ideological shift that occurred in Europe in the late 19th and early 20th centuries away from the liberal philosophy of laissez-faire and laissez-passer and toward autarky, protectionism, nationalism, and imperialism. Mises, himself a veteran of the First World War, identified these latter ideologies as joint causes of numerous conflicts. Furthermore, he repeatedly warned that war is a necessary outcome of abandoning economic freedom, which is inextricably tied to the spirit of liberalism and its philosophy of peace:
Aggressive nationalism is the necessary derivative of the policies of interventionism and national planning. While laissez faire eliminates the causes of international conflict, government interference with business and socialism create conflicts for which no peaceful solution can be found. While under free trade and freedom of migration no individual is concerned about the territorial size of his country, under the protective measures of economic nationalism nearly every citizen has a substantial interest in these territorial issues. (Mises, 1998 [1949], pp. 819-820)
Economic nationalism, the necessary complement of domestic interventionism, hurts the interests of foreign peoples and thus creates international conflict. It suggests the idea of amending this unsatisfactory state of affairs by war. Why should a powerful nation tolerate the challenge of a less powerful nation? Is it not insolence on the part of small Lapputania to injure the citizens of big Ruritania by customs, migration barriers, foreign exchange control, quantitative trade restrictions, and expropriation of Ruritanian investments in Lapputania? Would it not be easy for the army of Ruritania to crush Lapputania’s contemptible forces? (Mises, 1998 [1949], p. 827)
By and large, these are the kinds of international conflicts that developed in the decades prior to 1914. As relative free trade declined and imperialism flourished, a culture of militarism swept Western Europe, triggering a race to accumulate military assets and materiel on a previously unknown scale.  By the outbreak of the conflict, every major belligerent except Britain had also adopted conscription so as to ensure an abundant supply of human as well as physical resources. Such policies could only end in disaster.
It is important, however, that even though many soldiers were compelled to fight, extraordinary numbers also volunteered for service, especially in the early days of the war. This fact is not so astonishing once we acknowledge the role of ideology. Throughout the 19th century, the nation-state had come to play an increasingly important role in forming the identities of many young European men. This development added a personal ideological dimension to warfare that was largely new, and which also created divisions along political lines among peoples who could otherwise have been at peace. It also helps explain the patriotism and nationalism that lead so many volunteers so unwittingly to the slaughter. Crucially, these sentiments were nurtured and reinforced by many important institutions of European society, especially its intellectual classes, who bear a large portion of the blame for rationalizing and glorifying war.
To take only one example, in his book A History of Warfare, John Keegan recounts a call to arms issued jointly by the rectors of the Bavarian universities on August 3rd, 1914:
Students! The muses are silent. The issue is battle, the battle forced upon us for German culture, which is threatened by the barbarians from the East, and for German values, which the enemy in the West envies us. And so the furor teutonicus bursts into flame once again. The enthusiasm of the wars of liberation flares, and the holy war begins. (quoted in Keegan, 2004 [1993], p. 358; emphasis in original)
This passage hints at the ideological climate in much of Europe after its retreat from an all-too-brief trend toward liberalism. Yet even including the melodramatic rhetoric, the ideas invoked above are indistinguishable from ones made today by both military and culture warriors. The use of religious language to frame a political conflict, the idea that war has been forced upon the blameless, and the claim that barbarians from foreign nations represent an existential threat to civilization that can only be overcome by abandoning reason and resorting to violence based on appeals to tribalism and a (different) barbarian heritage, are still familiar in an age when the European empires have been replaced by an American one. They also run strongly counter to the principles of liberalism.
Historically, the immediate result of the rectors’ appeal was the mass enlistment of German students; so many volunteered that they formed two new army corps. These men were flung almost untrained into battle against British regulars at Ypres in October, 1914, where 36,000 were massacred in only three weeks (Keegan, 2004 [1993], pp. 358-359).[1] This senseless death did not, however, serve as a rebuke to the military class, much less provide an impetus away from international and domestic conflicts; instead, it was simply mythologized and used for propaganda by the Nazis in the Second World War.
The lesson then is that the human costs of war do not in and of themselves teach anything to those who are not willing to listen. War will not cease until the ideas that support it are removed, and until they are, their costs will simply be used as justifications for further conflict. In Mises’s words, “To defeat the aggressors is not enough to make peace durable. The main thing is to discard the ideology that generates war” (Mises, 1998 [1949], p. 828).

[1] I have been unable to verify this estimate, and other sources suggest the number killed was significantly lower. In any case though, casualties were horrific.

domingo, 2 de julho de 2017

A politica externa de Obama analisada e criticada - Robert G. Kaufman

Lieber on Kaufman, 'Dangerous Doctrine: How Obama's Grand Strategy Weakened America' [review]

Robert G. Kaufman. Dangerous Doctrine: How Obama's Grand Strategy Weakened America. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2016. 304 pp. $40.00 (cloth), ISBN 978-0-8131-6720-6.
Reviewed by Robert J. Lieber (Georgetown University)
Published on H-Diplo (July, 2017)

Donald Trump’s surprising political victory in the 2016 presidential election has caused foreign policy observers to turn with alarm, apprehension, or anticipation to the new president’s foreign policy. In doing so, they have understandably shifted their attention away from his predecessor. However, Robert G. Kaufman’s recent ambitious book does a major service in identifying and critiquing not only the foreign policy doctrine developed and pursued by President Barack Obama but also the manner in which this represented a profound break from the post-World War II mainstream of “muscular internationalism” and in the author’s judgment damaged America’s national security and endangered its allies (p. 197).  
Kaufman, in focusing on the period from the January 2009 inaugural through the 2014 midterm congressional elections, dismisses arguments that Obama’s policies reflected inexperience or absence of a real foreign policy strategy. Instead, he identifies a coherent Obama doctrine, derived from a synthesis of classical realism, neorealism, and liberal multilateralism, adding that this doctrine “appropriates the most problematic features of these paradigms without their countervailing virtues” (p. 185). The unifying theme that runs through Kaufman’s work is a critique of retrenchment in Obama’s foreign policy.[1]
In seeking to categorize Obama’s foreign policy orientation, Kaufman opts not to utilize any of the four designations that Walter Russell Mead set out a decade and a half ago in his widely cited work, Special Providence.[2] Mead’s menu of categories—Jeffersonian, Hamiltonian, Jacksonian, and Wilsonian—might seem tempting, for example, in suggesting that Obama’s policies could in some respects be considered Jeffersonian in his preference for a less interventionist foreign policy with more emphasis on domestic concerns, but Kaufman finds that Obama does not belong to any of these schools of thought. Instead, a particular virtue of Kaufman’s book is that he embeds his analysis of American foreign policy and the Obama doctrine in contemporary international relations theory (chapter 2). Here the author notes that while the Obama doctrine defies easy categorization, in effect it synthesizes elements from several foreign policy paradigms. He identifies Obama as “an unrealistic defensive realist with a strong pre-disposition to multilateralism minus the grace of liberalism” (p. 38). In practice this meant a disinclination to promote liberal democracy and a dangerous disinterest in regime type—a significant difference from Reinhold Niebuhr, whose philosophy the 43rd president claimed to embrace. As a consequence, Obama was prone to conciliate America’s adversaries without taking sufficiently into account the challenges and threats they posed.
To buttress his case for an alternative foreign policy strategy, Kaufman reaches back to draw on traditional geopolitical thinkers’ work, including Halford J. Mackinder’s 1904 essay, “The Geographical Pivot of History,”[3] which warned that any power gaining control over Eurasia, the “World Island” or “Heartland,” would possess resources enabling it to dominate the world, and Nicholas Spykman’s 1942 book, America’s Strategy in World Politics: The United States and the Balance of Power, arguing instead for the importance of the “Rimland,” the coastal territories encircling Eurasia (p. 61). In weighing their concepts, Kaufman also incorporates the ideas of Henry Kissinger to argue that “the United States has a vital and enduring interest in preventing a hostile hegemon from dominating any or all of the world’s major power centers—Europe, East Asia, the Middle East” (p. 61).
For foreign policy scholars and policy experts, the book—with its sixty-two pages of footnotes and bibliography—will be a rich source of information about policy debates. Here too, Kaufman provides valuable comparisons with the foreign policies of previous presidents. In doing so, he makes copious use of Obama’s speeches and foreign policy documents including the administration’s national security strategies. Based on this work, he identifies seven “tenets” of the Obama doctrine: 1) protection of the world from the arrogance of American power and exceptionalism; 2) preference for multilateralism as the preferred option in foreign policy, with “leading from behind” in Libya a case in point; 3) the discounting of the significance of regime type or ideology (including radical Islam); 4) the use of force only as a limited or last resort; 5) preference for soft power and diplomacy along with a relaxed view of great power threat; 6) retrenchment as a strategic necessity; and 7) the engagement or conciliation of rivals.
Kaufman makes frequent reference to how international relations scholars have understood Obama, not only in doctrinal terms but also in the assessment of specific regional and functional policies. The advantage of this approach is to provide the reader with a copious range of analyses by leading scholars and policy experts. While valuable, repeated reference to these interpretations and analyses at times slows the narrative thrust of the author’s arguments. For example, in the space of five pages on Obama’s policy toward China, Kaufman works into the text the ideas of Josef Joffe, Nicholas Eberstadt, Charles Krauthammer, Paul Krugman, George Shultz, Bryan McGrath and Seth Cropsey, Andrew Krepinevich, and James Holmes.
Kaufman’s treatment of Obama’s foreign policy is unique in several respects. One is that he unabashedly writes from a “neo-Reaganite” point of view and in doing so advocates a strategy of “moral democratic realism” (pp. 150, 4, 39), which he identifies with foreign policies pursued by Democratic and Republican presidents, especially Harry Truman, Ronald Reagan, and George W. Bush, not only during the Cold War but after it as well. Kaufman defines what he calls the “enduring principles” of moral democratic realism and argues that these must inform alternatives to the Obama doctrine (p. 191). These principles include the need for the United States to strive to remain the world’s default power; restoration of strong defense as the best means of deterrence; emphasis on regime type for discerning friends, foes, and threats; the need to think geopolitically; the importance of American exceptionalism; and a recognition that “different times call for different strategies to best preserve America’s national interest” (p. 196).
In an epilogue to the book, written well before the 2016 election, Kaufman concludes with a partisan call for “a series of Republican presidents in the hawkish internationalist tradition to restore the American power and prestige that the Obama Doctrine has so imprudently squandered” (p. 211). In his view, this restoration will be the work of decades, but in the near term, one wonders what he would make of the unfolding Trump presidency and whether it foreshadows a return to muscular internationalism or instead an idiosyncratic continuation of the Obama era.
[1]. This theme is analogous to one I set out in Retreat and Its Consequences: American Foreign Policy and the Problem of World Order (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2016).
[2]. Walter Russell Mead, Special Providence: American Foreign Policy and How It Changed the World (New York: Routledge, 2002), xvii.
[3]. Halford J. Mackinder, “The Geographical Pivot of History,” The Geographical Journal 23, no. 4 (April 1904): 421-437, https://www.jstor.org/stable/1775498?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents. Kaufman also cites Mackinder’s Democratic Ideals and Reality: A Study in the Policies of Reconstruction (New York: Henry Holt, 1919).
Citation: Robert J. Lieber. Review of Kaufman, Robert G., Dangerous Doctrine: How Obama's Grand Strategy Weakened America. H-Diplo, H-Net Reviews. July, 2017.
URL: http://www.h-net.org/reviews/showrev.php?id=48813
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.