Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Kissinger on Egypt: 'Classic Pattern of Revolution'

From Britain's Channel 4, "Henry Kissinger warns Channel 4 News that if an Islamist government replaces Mubarak in Egypt that it would be a 'fundamental change to the kind of world we have known since World War 2'."

The first thing to note is how brutally Kissinger slaps around his interviewer, Krishnan Guru Murthy, who throughout tries unsuccessfully to impugn not only American foreign policy toward Egypt, but Kissinger himself. Seriously. It's like an aged professor putting a disrespectful student in line.

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.

In short, this as a moment when Barack Obama needs to be on the right side of history.
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.

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.


Anonymous said...

Now we are starting to get some common sense out of you.

As an aside, Kissinger gives us a glimpse of what American elites were like once upon a time: competent, serious. deep thinking, knowledgeable, articulate and. above all, aligned with the interest and fate of Western Civilization and the USA. Kissinger was only one among many.

Contrast him with Hillary and her whole gang of political opportunists and neo-communist, '60 creeps that make up our current "elites". It give one shivers of fear for the nation.

Norm said...

Here we go with Israel again. There is no Arab - Israeli peace because to the majority of Arabs the term "peace" means that Israel no longer exists. At least we know and understand that Walt agrees with the majority Arab opinion and how and where he is trying to steer American public opinion and foreign policy.

Jason_Pappas said...

I'm with you on Larison and Walt.

As you know I'm skeptical the naive idealists in Egypt will be lamps for the Muslim Brotherhood wolves. Revolutions that went wrong are the norm (English leading to Cromwell, French ..., Russian ... Iranian ..., etc.)

Jack Wheeler gives me some reason to hope that it can be different in Egypt. Here's his article or

He argues that if the military keeps its power it can serve as a check on democracy going bad.

Now that I think of it, that is not unlike Turkey's history after Ataturk. They had a so-called "guided democracy." It's far from ideal but it can keep Egypt from becoming the next Taliban state. Arabs have a way of living a lie. For example, their current belief that "Mubarak is bad" but "the military is good" is absurd since Mubarak is a child of the military. But it can be a lie the are willing to tell themselves if they have some concrete change to work with.

Jason_Pappas said...

Silly typo should have read: "will be lambs for the Muslim Brotherhood wolves."

Reaganite Republican said...

Great find Dr D, linked at Reaganite Republican:

Perusing the Conservative Blogosphere...