Thursday, August 22, 2013

Realpolitik, In the Hour of the Wolf

I am, by temperament, agreed with the pragmatic internationalist principles of Realism. Any political philosophy that has Cardinal Richlieu and Henry Kissinger as representatives, however, needs a tonic supplemental undercurrent. Idealism, particularly with regards to international law, still permeates much of my thinking and underlies that realism. So it is with great fascination that me, the child of an ambassador from Uganda, liberally educated in the West in the Great Ideas, observes the unusual rise of Libertarianism, the political philosophy of precocious adolescents, at center stage in what Nixon called The Arena.

The world, in that simplistic reducion of olde, is indeed "a dangerous place." The late Daniel Patrick Moynihan coined that term, serving, in essence, boob bait for bubbas. Obviously the world is a dangerous place (Averted Gaze). Most countries on this planet are ruled in a manner reminiscent of Chimpanzee society. Why do we need Al Jazeera when we have the National Geographic Channel and Animal Planet? The Generals in Egypt. The autocrats of the Stans. The governor of North Carolina (Exaggerated cough suggesting feigned detachment).

But I digress...

How is Libertarianism supposed to answer the global pandemonium? By retreating, it would seem, into an America First crouch (cue the Fight Song). Retreating off the world stage as the Syrian population is gassed. Coming home as Zimbabwe disintegrates. Selfishness, despite Ayn Rand's rhetoric, is not a virtue.

How about an ideological marriage between Niccolo Machiavelli and Hugo Grotius (which is, I believe, now legal)? Political realism with a grounding of what is achievable through international law. The present pandemonium should be met with America's hard and soft power (obviously), but dedicated to the principle of bringing about global order according to present international human rights laws. When the majority of sovereign nations on the planet are on the same page with regards to the principles of international law -- which, incidentally, owe their provenance to the United States Constitution -- then, collectively, outlier despotic regimes could be brought into line. That time -- and this is the Realist in me -- is not now. Ideally, Turkey would take the lead and with a combination of Gulf states and, perhaps, NATO aid, make the butchers of Syria pay for releasing chemical attacks in their backyard. Realistically, Turkey, bordered on several sides by dangerous countries, prefers -- not unlike Brazil, also bordered by difficult nations-- to always rely on diplomacy and soft power and not hard power to solve problems.

Let's hope that in some future era, possibly within the lifetimes of our children, some sort of era of global order will be realized. If not, lets hope that some form of global catastrophe or pandemic outbreak doesn't accelerate what appears to me to be inevitable. For then t might be too late.

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