According to Michael Lind, writing wistfully in the Financial Times, the Iraq campaign has punctured the “mystique” that made the American Empire possible.
Lind laments that the neocons had fouled the playground for the “neoliberals” like him – a breed that cheered Clintonian interventions as a way of establishing the Kagan-Kristolian Benevolent Global Hegemony (BGH) by using international institutions, instead of tearing them down:
“neoliberalism, like neoconservatism, depended on the mystique of American power… The horrors that we know about, and those about which we have yet to learn, are even more fatal to the neoliberal project than to its neoconservative rival…”
“What population now will want US soldiers in their country…? […] Without US forces doing the heavy lifting in UN or Nato interventions, the ambitious neoliberal strategy of muscular internationalism becomes impossible.”
“Now that America’s reputation for benevolence and irresistible power has been severely damaged, the US will be forced to settle for a far more modest role in the world than that sought by both neoliberals and neoconservatives.”
Well, pardon me while I cheer – twice, if not three times, because this sounds almost too good to be true. I really do wish the whole Imperial project were so discredited, as that would be good for both the world and America.
Violence is corrosive; it turns people into things (Simone Veil) and degrades any notion of humanity. Seeking dominion over others is recognized as archetypal evil (i.e. Sauron in Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings). Lind may believe his “neoliberal” colleagues wish to use their powers of violence for good, but that simply cannot be done. I’ve been trying to prove that for years by offering proof from the Balkans – not that others haven’t proven it in other ways many times over already, and yet there’s people who just don’t get it.
Anyway, by dumping the imperial dream on the midden-heap of history where it belongs, America could begin to re-examine its near-moribund Republic and maybe repair at least some of the extensive social, political and moral damage its government has wrought over the past century or so (maybe more). Absent the ever-threatening Hegemon, people in the rest of the world would have to deal with their problems themselves, assuming responsibility for the consequences of their actions (instead of trying to enlist the Empire’s aid against their rivals). This would generally lead to fewer conflicts and upheavals, as the power equation would now be purely local.
Again, sounds too good to be true.
I still wish for it, but if wishes were horses, beggars would ride.