Thursday, April 20, 2017

Why I Gave Up On American Foreign Policy "Realism".

There are so many foreign policy "realisms" today in US that one has to keep oneself from nodding off while counting and naming them. 

Well, there are: offensive realism, classic realism, defensive realism, neorealism,  structural realism, deep fired realism, realpolitik, realism salad... so, you get the picture. All this field of "realisms" is saturated, especially in US, with all kinds of Ph.Ds sinecures and with "experts" who cannot predict their own next bowel movement, much less how a complex international system would act. However, the father of the American realism, Hans Morgenthau, was very specific in stating his "realistic" views in no uncertain terms: 

You see, so no matter what Russians do, such as technological development, unless they remain poor, undeveloped, uncultured people they represent a problem. Already after aggression in Yugoslavia in 1999, sensing a major shift in US foreign policy views (and posture) I started to exercise an illusion that US foreign policy "realists" may somehow balance out the insanity of all those Albrights, Talbots and other fine representative of US "school" of diplomacy and geopolitical "thinking" which started to emerge under Bill Clinton's Administrations. Boy, was I naive. While I am still sympathetic to "defensive" realist views, otherwise known as common geopolitical sense, I still can not see how American "realists" can possibly change US approach to foreign policy--the reason being that many, very many of those "realists" (there are some exceptions, as one may expect) are still thinking within either:

1. Framework of American exceptionalism and thus inevitably are biased towards main simulacra of American narrative. They still need mantras of US military being the "greatest in history", or of "shining city on the hill" or of "democracy" or...

2. They do exhibit all traits of plain simple irrational attitudes towards others, such as is the case with Russians towards whom US elites exhibit a complex of emotions, none of them positive

All of that can be explained, in the end "My country, right or wrong" is understandable, similar sentiments are known to many nations, not just US. However, if to go back to Carl Shurz'  expansion of Decatur's famous dictum, one has to keep in mind that the whole thing reads like this: “My country, right or wrong; if right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right.” United States of today can not be set right without repudiating the very foundation of American exceptionalism--a move which very few are ready to make because the result of it may not be a salvation but indictment. I started writing this text several days ago when today stumbled upon Srdja Trifkovic's piece in Chronicles Magazine. There Trifkovic makes an observation which I quote here (I wrote about this for years now): 
The Russophobes’ narrative is unrelated to Russia’s actual policies.  It reflects a deep odium of the elite class toward Russia-as-such.  That animosity has been developing in its current form since roughly the time of the Crimean War, when in his Letters From Russia the Marquis de Custine said that the country’s “veneer of European civilization was too thin to be credible.”

“No human beings, black, yellow or white, could be quite as untruthful, as insincere, as arrogant—in short, as untrustworthy in every way—as the Russians,” President Theodore Roosevelt wrote in 1905.  John Maynard Keynes, after a trip to the Soviet Union in 1925, wondered whether the “mood of oppression” might be “the fruit of some beastliness in the Russian nature.”  J. Robert Oppenheimer opined in 1951 that, in Russia, “We are coping with a barbarous, backward people.”  More recently, Sen. John McCain declared that “Russia is a gas station masquerading as a country.”  “Russia is an anti-Western power with a different, darker vision of global politics,” Slate wrote in early 2014, even before the Ukrainian crisis reached its climax.
Today, it could be openly stated that US "elites", including very many in the so called "realist" circles, are simply fixated on Russia. It is unhealthy fixation, since it is an uneducated one. Sadly, while raising its voice once in a while in an (futile) attempt to "if wrong, to be set right", American "realists" seldom achieve any tangible results and many are still not able to overcome a rigid ideological construct of their "realist" theory which believes "that world politics ultimately is always and necessarily a field of conflict among actors pursuing power". This is not the case with Russia who is explicit in stating her interests and concerns but to understand that, one has to know Russia. Very few even among "realists" do and that undermines their argumentation, even when it is a good one. As Trifkovic concludes: 

The Russophobic frenzy comes at a cost.  It further devalues the quality of public discourse on world affairs in the United States, which is already dismally low.  It has already undermined the prospects for a mutually beneficial new chapter in U.S.-Russian relations, based on a realist assessment that those two powers have no “existential” differences—and share many actual and potential commonalities.  It perpetrates the arrogant delusion that there is a superior, “Western” model of social and cultural thought and action that can and should be imposed everywhere, but especially in Russia.    
 I have very little to add here. 

No comments:

Post a Comment