February 7, 2005

Francis Fukuyama and Charles Krauthammer


Fukuyama Responds to Krauthammer: The Israelization of American Foreign Policy. You may recall that prominent neocon Francis "End of History" Fukuyama jumped ship awhile ago and criticized Charles Krauthammer in The National Interest for his lack of realism about the Iraq War. Krauthammer responded, predictably, by playing the anti-Semitism card. Here is part of Fukuyama's rebuttal:

"Krauthammer says I have a "novel way of Judaizing neoconservatism", and that my argument is a more "implicit and subtle" version of things said by Pat Buchanan and Mahathir Mohamad. Since he thinks the latter two are anti-Semites, he is clearly implying that I am one as well. If he really thinks this is so, he should say that openly."

A little late, perhaps, Francis? "First they came for Pat Buchanan, but I was not Pat Buchanan, so I said nothing. Then they came ...". But better late than never. Fukuyama continues:

"What I said in my critique of [Krauthammer's] speech was, of course, quite different. I said that there was a very coherent set of strategic ideas that have come out of Israel's experience dealing with the Arabs and the world community, having to do with threat perception, preemption, the relative balance of carrots and sticks to be used in dealing with the Arabs, the United Nations, and the like. Anyone who has dealt with the Arab-Israeli conflict understands these ideas, and many people (myself included) believe that they were well suited to Israel's actual situation. You do not have to he Jewish to understand or adopt these ideas as your own, which is why people like Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld share them. And it is not so hard to understand how one's experience of Arab-Israeli politics can come to color one's broader view of the world: The 1975 "Zionism is racism" resolution deeply discredited the UN, in the eyes of Jews and non-Jews alike, on issues having nothing to do with the Middle East. This is not about Judaism; it is about ideas. It would be quite disingenuous of Charles Krauthammer to assert that his view of how Israel needs to deal with the Arabs (that is, the testicular route to hearts and minds) has no impact on the way he thinks the United States should deal with them. And it is perfectly legitimate to ask whether this is the best way for the United States to proceed."

Well said. America's foreign policy blunders of the last 30 months have less to do with the fact that so many highly influential people in Washington and New York, like Krauthammer, think about Israel and its welfare all the time, as to the fact that it has become extremely dangerous to one's career to point out that they do. As Gene Expression blogged:

And I'm sorry, but ethnicity will and should legitimately be a topic brought up in the ensuing debate. Consider an analogy. Suppose that Wolfowitz, Perle, Shulsky, Feith, Ledeen, and all the rest were South Asian Americans rather than Jewish Americans and had names like Ramachandran, Patel, and Choudhury. Again they'd be selected from a highly educated group that was less than 2% of society (there are about 2 to 3 million South Asian Americans, about 1/2 to 1/3 the number of American Jews depending on how you count).

Now suppose they were pushing the US to invade Pakistan, and talking about how the Islamic terrorists killing Indian citizens in Kashmir were the same ones bombing the US on 9/11. Assume that they did this whilst having relatives, extended families, and significant contacts in India.

Now, their arguments would not - and should not - be dismissed out of hand. After all, it is probably more accurate to say that Al Qaeda, the Taliban, and the ISI are/were more closely involved in Muslim terrorism in Kashmir than they are with anti-Israeli terrorism in Palestine. (As far as I know, Al Qaeda has never directly attacked Israel.)

But while their arguments would not be dismissed out of hand, clearly their visible ethnicity would figure into the debate. Plenty of people would take their opinions with a grain of salt, knowing that humans tend to be ethnocentric on the population level if not the individual level. It would be scurrilous to dismiss their arguments simply because they were of Indian ancestry, especially if they were born in America. But it would be foolish to think their ethnicity wasn't impacting any of their arguments, and to rule out mention of their ethnicity as "anti-Subcontinental."

What we need, now more than ever, is free discussion. Closed discussion helped get us into Iraq.

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