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Neocon architect says: 'Pull it down'

22 February 2006 - 01:02 PM

Neocon architect says: 'Pull it down'


ALEX MASSIE
IN WASHINGTON

NEOCONSERVATISM has failed the United States and needs to be replaced by a more realistic foreign policy agenda, according to one of its prime architects.

Francis Fukuyama, who wrote the best-selling book The End of History and was a member of the neoconservative project, now says that, both as a political symbol and a body of thought, it has "evolved into something I can no longer support". He says it should be discarded on to history's pile of discredited ideologies.


In an extract from his forthcoming book, America at the Crossroads, Mr Fukuyama declares that the doctrine "is now in shambles" and that its failure has demonstrated "the danger of good intentions carried to extremes".

In its narrowest form, neoconservatism advocates the use of military force, unilaterally if necessary, to replace autocratic regimes with democratic ones.

Mr Fukuyama once supported regime change in Iraq and was a signatory to a 1998 letter sent by the Project for a New American Century to the then president, Bill Clinton, urging the US to step up its efforts to remove Saddam Hussein from power. It was also signed by neoconservative intellectuals, such as Bill Kristol and Robert Kagan, and political figures Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle and the current defence secretary, Donald Rumsfeld.

However, Mr Fukuyama now thinks the war in Iraq is the wrong sort of war, in the wrong place, at the wrong time.

"The most basic misjudgment was an overestimation of the threat facing the United States from radical Islamism," he argues.

"Although the new and ominous possibility of undeterrable terrorists armed with weapons of mass destruction did indeed present itself, advocates of the war wrongly conflated this with the threat presented by Iraq and with the rogue state/proliferation problem more generally."

Mr Fukuyama, one of the US's most influential public intellectuals, concludes that "it seems very unlikely that history will judge either the intervention [in Iraq] itself or the ideas animating it kindly".

Going further, he says the movements' advocates are Leninists who "believed that history can be pushed along with the right application of power and will. Leninism was a tragedy in its Bolshevik version, and it has returned as farce when practised by the United States".

Although Mr Fukuyama still supports the idea of democratic reform - complete with establishing the institutions of liberal modernity - in the Middle East, he warns that this process alone will not immediately reduce the threats and dangers the US faces. "Radical Islamism is a by-product of modernisation itself, arising from the loss of identity that accompanies the transition to a modern, pluralist society. More democracy will mean more alienation, radicalisation and - yes, unfortunately - terrorism," he says.

"By definition, outsiders can't 'impose' democracy on a country that doesn't want it; demand for democracy and reform must be domestic. Democracy promotion is therefore a long-term and opportunistic process that has to await the gradual ripening of political and economic conditions to be effective."

This article: http://news.scotsman...fm?id=266122006

British, U.S. spying draws us closer to Orwell's B

04 January 2006 - 02:23 PM

http://www.mercuryne...ws/13506583.htm



My waking thought on Christmas Day was that George Orwell's vision of Big Brother was no longer a hypothetical possibility but an actual near-term threat. That realization was synthesized from two news events, one here and one in Britain.
In Britain, the government recently decided to deploy global positioning system (GPS) technology to track every vehicle in the U.K. every minute of the day. Just as GPS sensors are mandated for use in every cell phone in the near future in the United States (for our safety, of course), Britain will mandate the use of a GPS sensor in every car. ``Has Reginald White arrived at the grocery store yet?'' will become a question answerable by the security division of Britain's DMV.
The British government promises safeguards to prevent spying on ordinary citizens, but who will follow up on those promises?
In the United States, President Bush is acting under apparently self-granted powers to ``authorize'' the National Security Agency (NSA) to spy on Americans -- of course, only on Americans threatening terrorist acts.
In an act of high integrity, one of the judges of the secret court that grants Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act search warrants resigned, citing the fact that Bush was now bypassing even that minimal civil rights guarantee by directly authorizing NSA spying on U.S. citizens. One can only imagine that this troublesome judge will be replaced with one more friendly to the administration.
With only the need to combine two real-world technologies for spying and tracking, the vision of 1984 -- once just a dark philosophical concept -- becomes an engineering project.
The president and those to whom he delegates his authority can now authorize government spooks to listen to us in our homes and on our cell phones. When we are not home, they can track us in our automobiles. The system could be airtight and could be used to control our actions.
It's simple enough for most Silicon Valley companies to create a chip to detect a valid GPS signal and disable an automobile's ignition system to prevent citizens from the ``unauthorized use'' of their own vehicles.
The final move into the totality of 1984 requires only a bit of philosophical drift, as exemplified by J. Edgar Hoover's directive to spy on the Rev. Martin Luther King because he was a subversive. If Bush's latest acts are left unchallenged, the government will become bolder at spying on whomever it wants and secretly jailing those it deems a threat to national security -- all with no troublesome warrants or messy public trials.
In this environment, acts other than terrorism will certainly be put on the subversive activities list, all in the name of protecting our freedom.
Why should law-abiding citizens fear these trends? Because the government cannot be trusted. I don't trust President Bush to honor my rights, nor did I trust President Clinton, who was caught with secret FBI files on his political enemies.
It's not that I'm unpatriotic. The founders of our country did not trust any government -- either that of George III or an uncontrolled democracy. That's why we have the Bill of Rights to protect American citizens from their own government -- by demanding, for example, that ``Congress shall make no law abridging the right of free speech.''
Our property is also protected from illegal search and seizure, and we are not to be put in jail without knowing the charges against us or having the right to confront our accusers in a public trial. Secret courts are inconsistent with the Bill of Rights, the defining document of American freedom.
What's the worst thing that Al-Qaida can do to America? We have probably already seen it. Of course, the government can talk about bigger things, like the use of weapons of mass destruction, to justify its use of totalitarian tactics.
I would much rather live as a free man under the highly improbable threat of another significant Al-Qaida attack than I would as a serf, spied on by an oppressive government that can jail me secretly, without charges. If the Patriot Act defines the term ``patriot,'' then I am certainly not one.
By far, our own government is a bigger threat to our freedom than any possible menace posed by Al-Qaida.
is the CEO of Cypress Semiconductor in San Jose. He wrote this article for the Mercury News.
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