Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Fukuyama in the Financial Times: History/My Story

In the FT Francis Fukuyama has pointed out a few tough truths that he assumes both candidates in the US election have taken onboard: namely that ‘the past two US administrations could assume American hegemony in both economics and security. The next administration cannot’; and that the task of the next Administration will be ‘to gracefully manage an adversely shifting global power balance and significantly diminished US influence.’
Ah, 'gracefully'… and so the sun sets (and the blood dries) on the US imperium. All empires must perish, by overstretch if not stagnation: I have had my 'issues' with the American version, though I prefer it still to any of the rival candidates now vying for succession.
Of course Fukuyama has got Russia on his mind and argues that the US were too brusque and bumptious through those early post-Cold War years when the Russian Bear was mangy and down on its knees. He clearly reckons Iraq as an irredeemable disaster, because he says that ‘one of the chief ways that US power has been diminished in this decade is in its moral credibility.’ And he’s also one of those who wants to throw the Nato Kosovo action back at Britain and the US too, for setting ‘an unhappy precedent of legitimising separatism.’ (But being separated from people who want you dead is a powerful driver. All I can say is that it’s all very well for wonks and scholars to favour the why-can’t-you-all-just-stick-together? option.)
Still, Fukuyama also manages to squeeze in the call-me-civilised qualifier (‘I do not want to be seen as apologising for Moscow’s behaviour… That Russian feelings of resentment are understandable does not make them morally right.’) And I daresay the strongest point he has is that the push for Nato membership for Georgia and Ukraine does look like nothing but an American game, and only Angela Merkel seems to have the seriousness to make this understood.
BTW why should one pay attention to Fukuyama? Not sure. But then, you know, this guy once forecast the End of History - a bold call, albeit completely wrong and wronger every day. Still, with such a brass neck maybe there’s a chance that one day he’ll call it right.

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