Battlepanda: Why I am a realist


Always trying to figure things out with the minimum of bullshit and the maximum of belligerence.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Why I am a realist

Billmon lays it out:
This is what realism is all about -- seeking the least evil course in a world absolutely brimming with evil but perpetually short on freedom of action, even for superpowers. The degree of French "goodness," like the degree of U.S. "goodness," matters not a whit here. What matters is whether a ceasefire, on terms acceptable to Hizbullah, would be more evil or less evil than allowing the continuation of a war that no longer has much point to it (not unless the Israelis really are prepared to fight their way far enough north to put Hizbullah's rocketeers out of business.)

That's the choice, and all the harrumphing in the world about the "evildoers" isn't going to change the basic power equation. If Bush doesn't like the choices on the diplomatic menu, then he needs to be ready to send in the 82nd Airborne -- and accept the consequences. It doesn't look like he is.

Which is the heart of the problem, from a realist's point of view. The neocons are absolutely hooked on unilateralism: It's hardwired into their brains and it doesn't look like any number of fiascos will be enough to rearrange the circuits. The unlateral exercise of American power, particularly military power, is the fundamental, defining, unifying idea of neoconism. It can't be abandoned or the whole pretentious edifice collapses.

A unilateralism that reflects an accurate reading of underlying power relationships is one thing -- it may be ugly, but it can certainly "work," from a realpolitik point of view. Just ask Otto von Bismark. But a unlateralism based on nothing more than a conviction of one's own inherent superiority is a foreign policy disaster waiting to happen (and now it's happening.)

Emphasis mine.

Nick Gvosdev wrote a post cheekily titled "Nick Gvosdev, Enemy of Freedom" a while ago. I would similarly like to stand up and be counted. In a situation as fucked as the as the Middle East right now, with every party bloody-handed, it is hubris to speak of justice, freedom and the ideals of democracy.