Saturday, November 14, 2009
Have Obama Liberals Embraced Realpolitik?
It seems to me there is still a rather large difference between the Kissinger/Kirkpatrick model and the sort that some liberals embrace. With the former, you would favor propping up this or that regime for reasons of both economic and political principle - namely to defend against foreseen anti-imperialism or communism.
Support for vicious, undemocratic brutality was justified by the greater threat of where these leftist movements were imagined to lead. Yet there was always a good deal of sympathy for the plutocratic regimes. Not only were they acting as proxies for western interests that stood to lose substantial investments, but their very existence was in large part a natural extension of the capitalist narrative: that in markets there are winners and losers, and pity he who ends up on the losing side.
Yet with modern liberal realism, concerned as it is inherently in the progressive concept of social justice, it seems you have less an apology for the propping of regimes’ right to exist, and more a pragmatic, short-term avoidance of instability so as to increase not only future democracy and economic prosperity but social equality. When undemocratic Afghanistan is given aid to go after the Taliban or Al Queda, no apologies are made for the paradigm – within the logic of liberalism it is certainly illegitimate.
What’s more, it is hard to compare the brutality of the Taliban & Al Queda with the Sandinistas or most other communist revolutionaries (although you could draw reasonable comparisons between the Taliban and Latin American Death Squads). Going further, Hamid Karzai – or even Gen. Musharaff are hardly Samoza or Pinochet.