But beyond that, I want to tie Secretary Kissinger's discussion with the newly kindled debate over neoconservatism and realism that's been engendered by events.
Daniel Larison, at American Conservative, it tutting and strutting around like a rooster in a hen house, "The Democracy Promotion Fetish." Obviously, the fact that democracy in Egypt could result in extremely unfavorable strategic circumstances counsels against too much grandstanding for the freedom agenda (something that I noted here earlier, in my discussion of "analytical realism"). The thing to recall about Larison is that he's an America-basher in "paleo-conservative" clothing, who gets most of his props from the neo-communist left. Any exertion of U.S. forward power is "ill-considered" and risks "blowback" against the "American empire." It's all a bunch of hooey, in any case. It's laughable "neocon derangement syndrome" for the most part. And thus no wonder Larison's got absolutely zero influence outside the truther fever swamps and with the nihilist left's hate-addled crossover readers.
But Kissinger's discussion dovetails with something else I've been meaning to get to. It turns out the Harvard's Stephen Walt, at Foreign Policy, offers a realist analysis of the Egyptian revolution: "A realist policy for Egypt." For realist Henry Kissinger, who served during the Nixon years, the collapse of Mubarak's regime holds deep structural significance of epochal proportions. It's interesting how he places uncertainty over both Egypt's government and it's commitments to peace in the context of Israel's security. He sounds wise, just like the elder statesman he is. In contrast, Walt offers a convoluted revisionist realist take on things, and suggests that "realism dictates that the United States encourage Mubarak to leave ..." Well, it can. But the theoretical justification can't be adequately specified in a blog post. Besides, theory's not the point. Bashing Israel and proposing a major reorientation of U.S. policy is. Walt writes:
To be specific, this crisis in Egypt is an opportunity for the United States to rethink the underlying principles of the Pax Americana that Washington has sought to maintain in the Middle East for decades. That arrangement rested on three pillars: 1) unconditional support for Israel, 2) denying or discounting Palestinian rights, and 3) support for and collusion with various "pro-Western" leaders whose legitimacy was always questionable. Though this policy had occasional moments of success-such as the 1979 peace treaty between Egypt and Israel and the 1991 Gulf War -- it was always a long-term loser. Unconditional U.S. support removed any short-term incentive for Israel to cut a fair deal with the Palestinians, and collusion with leaders like Mubarak made the United States even less popular on the Arab street.Being on the right side of history apparently means throwing Israel under the bus. And again, the contrast between Walt's revisionism and Kissinger's traditionalism is striking. Indeed, Kissinger dismisses "university professors" (like Walt) at the clip. Real world forces impinge on the actions of states, what theorists refer to as constraints. But in Walt's world, Egypt's revolution provides the ultimate opportunity to downgrade both Israel's legitimacy and America's interests in the Jewish state.
In short, this as a moment when Barack Obama needs to be on the right side of history.
And this is why I don't trust realists like Stephen Walt. He goes hand-in-hand with folks like sleazy paleocon Daniel Larison, and together these shifty types provide high-falutin academic and ideological gloss to old-fashioned post-colonial progressivism. It's dishonest at the least and ultimately morally reprehensible.