Saturday, July 22, 2006

"Fools' Crusade" part x


The second section of the Introduction (title above) expands on the notion that the Kosovo War marked a new, more aggressive phase in American imperialism, aided and abetted by the collusion of left-wing governments and elites.

Johnstone revisits the period immediately following the fall of the Soviet Union when, briefly, there was talk of a "peace dividend" and widespread hopes that the world was about to become a more stable, safer, and more peaceful place. I remember that time, too, and she is right--a lot of us hoped that the U.S. and NATO would demilitarize and lead the way towards a new era of peaceful coexistence.

But while it is disappointing that things didn't work out that way, Johnstone's simple-minded belief that the continuing military hegemony maintained by the United States is solely due to American policy and design is just ridiculous. To discuss American military deployment and foregin policy in the post-Cold War world without a discussion of Islamist terrorism or seperatist violence and civil war around the world is disingenuous, to say the least. There are brutal wars going on in Western Africa and Sudan as we speak, as well as the situation in Chechnya--to name just one of many warzones in the former Soviet Union. The world is clearly still a dangerous place, and imperialist dreams of the U.S. elite cannot be held responsible for all of it.

After dismissing humanitarian intervention with another oversimplification of the matter, with another swipe at the war in Afghanistan (what Johnstone's specific opposition to the war against the Taliban is, she never explains), she goes on to quote--approvingly--from David Fromkin's Kosovo Crossing: American Ideals Meet Reality On The Balkan Battlefields. Here is the quote:

"During the Cold War, we would not have gotten ourselves involved in a dispute like the one in Kosovo. [At this point she breaks--I do not have the book so I assume, but can't be sure, that the text continues in uninterrupted in the original.] In the days when the Soviet Union contained us, power realities would have kept the U.S. from interfering. It is because we are now free to indulge in backing up our ideals and sympathies with cruise missles that we are there."

That last sentence is a snarky, cheap shot--no wonder Johnstone approves of the author and his sentiments. However, aside from that last sentence, what Fromkin is describing here is the realpolitik of Henry Kissenger and the establishment Right. I mentioned how Johnstone credited the realpolitik Right for its analysis of the war in the last post. Here she goes again.

She wraps up this section by dismissing talk of a new, altruistic approach to foreign policy. Fromkin, having given her what she was looking for with his spheres-of-influence observation, now serves a contrary purpose by giving her a reference to a new, Wilsonian approach of American foreign policy for her to sneer at.


Owen said...

Kirk, you've identified the point in time where Johnstone seems to have got stuck - 1989. Up until then even the world wasn't really a simple place the major lines of conflict could be simplified. The problem with her view of the world is that she appears unwilling to take account of the complexities of an asymmetric balance of power as illustrated by your examples.

Owen said...

Just reread that - I should have written "Up until then, even though the world ..."