Tuesday, August 06, 2002

Stability, the Shibboleth of American Foreign Policy

I haven't commented previously on matters of politics or American foreign policy, not because I have no opinions on such matters, but because I have been preoccupied with other things, and felt that others were saying the things I believed better than I could have.

But I urge all of you to read a brilliant article by Ralph Peters titled Stability, America's Enemy, which appeared in the Winter 2001-02 issue of Parameters, the US Army War College Quarterly. I am grateful to Lane Core at The View from the Core for bringing this article to light on his blog.

In this article Peters deftly exposes the self-destructive fallacy that has been pursued by our government for the last century, the fallacy of supporting so-called "stability" in our international relations rather than remaining true to our own professed values and priorities. This pursuit of a false stability, he writes, is what led to our dismal record in South America and Africa, and has gotten us into trouble in the Mideast as well.

Peters also exposes the self-delusion that the goal of our foreign policy is somehow to spread "Democracy" to those poor benighted nations which don't yet have it. This sort of thinking was most succinctly articulated by Woodrow Wilson's slogan "Make the world safe for Democracy" (in my opinion Woodrow Wilson should go down as one of the most deluded and destructive men in history). This way of thinking is nothing less than the idolatry of Democracy, which Dr. Russell Kirk called "Democratism." Peters points out that "Democracy is a highly evolved mechanism for maintaining the society we have achieved, but it is not a tool for creating a society worth maintaining." Democracy is a result, it is not a means or method to obtain a result. Peters adds, " Democracy must be earned and learned. It cannot be decreed from without." We must face up to the fact, PC mantras and populist flag-waving aside, that some nations and peoples are not yet ready for democracy, and would be far better off having the experience of a couple of centuries of feudal monarchy or hereditary oligarchy under their belts before attempting the formation of a democratic republic. If we had learned that lesson, perhaps South and Central America wouldn't be in the mess it's in, and Russia wouldn't be in a state of near-anarchy, with its de facto rulership by warring criminal mobs.

Thanks to Ralph Peters for an outstanding political-historical study, and again to Lane Core for bringing the article to my attention.