The Grand Strategy of the United States of America: From the Archives from 2003

stacks and stacks of books

Hoisted From the Archives from 2003: The Grand Strategy of the United States of America: Archive Entry From Brad DeLong's Webjournal: "The economic policy of the Bush administration has been frightening: The deliberate unbalancing of the long-term finances of the U.S. government in the hope of sharpening the funding crisis of the social-insurance state—with the effect of slowing capital formation and economic growth, and increasing the interest of economic crisis. The backing-away from the Republican Party's historic commitment to free trade. The reversal of Newt Gingrich's proudest achievement: the partial reform of the farm subsidy program.

The security policy of the Bush administration has been more than frightening; it has been terrifying...

... At the moment administration insiders are trying to convince elite reporters that the Bush administration did not deceive outsiders about Saddam Hussein's nuclear weapons program as much as deceive itself—that the highest levels of the Bush administration proved grossly incompetent at the basics. They did not know how to assess intelligence. Nobody had heard of Machiavelli's 500-year-old warning not to trust exiles: "Such is their extreme desire to return to their homes that they naturally believe many things that are not true, and add many others on purpose; so that, with what they really believe and what they say they believe they fill you with hopes..." Note that this declaration of incompetence is the Bush administration's spin on what happened.

But the most awful and dreadfully terrifying aspect of all has been whenever Bush administration intellectual allies talk about what they see as the motivating theory of the world underlying Bush administration security policy. They call the Clinton Administration naive for believing that international relations is a positive-sum game in which all sides can win. They speak of explicit concern on the part of the United States not just for its absolute but its relative economic power. As the University of Chicago's Dan Drezner puts it, the logic of Bush's National Security Strategy is to "prevent other great powers from rising, in order to ensure the long-term growth of freedom, democracy and prosperity."

But what does "prevent other great powers from rising" mean? What could it possibly mean other than "try to keep China and India desperately poor for as long as possible"—for when China and India close even half the gap in prosperity separating them from the industrial core, their populations alone guarantee that they will be very great powers indeed.

It is certainly not in the interest of world prosperity, or in the interest of China or India, to try to keep them poor. It is not in the national interest of the United States either. The history of the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries teaches us that there may well be something uniquely dangerous to world peace and political sanity during the two generations in which a culture is passing from a poor rural agricultural to a rich urban industrial (or post-industrial) economy. Whether the aggressive foreign policy pursued by Wilhelmine Germany, the Leninist and Stalinist agony of Russia, the terrors of Mao, the dictatorships of Mussolini and Franco, or the most monstrous Nazi regime—the twentieth-century transition to industrial society appears to be a very dangerous time both for the citizens of the country in transition and for neighbors and passers-by.

Is it really in the interest of the United States to try to "prevent other great powers from rising" at the cost of lengthening the period of time during which other societies are vulnerable to the devils that afflicted most notably Germany in the twentieth century? Wouldn't the rest of us rather minimize than maximize the time we might be faced with the problem of containing a National Hinduist India, a Wilhelmine China, or a Weimar Russia?

And do the rest of us want the children of China and India to be taught in fifty years that the rich countries at the turn of the twentieth century did all they could to accelerate the growth and increase the prosperity of China and India, or that the rich countries strove to "prevent other great powers from rising"?

It is long past time for a complete change of personnel at all levels of the Bush administration. The world cannot afford to have neoconservatives at high levels of the U.S. government who do not work for global prosperity and peace, but instead for maximum U.S. relative power. Now we do know that there are grownups in the Republican Party—statesmen who work for more rapid economic development, for multilateral cooperation, and for a world in which the United States leads because of its fortunate position rather than dominates because of its military power. They staffed the first Bush administration. Where are they?

#shouldread #security #hoistedfromthearchives