Thursday, January 18

The Great Capitalist Peace has come and gone

Last week while I was working on the Capitalism vs Democracy essays, I received an email from a reader, Dr. Ernie, who mentioned the "great capitalist peace" policy promoted by Messrs. Anatol Lieven and John Hulsman in their book, Ethical Realism.

As I've stated before on this blog, I have not read the book. But if Dr. Ernie has correctly interpreted the relevant passages, it seems that Lieven and his buddy are proposing that US foreign policy ditch the democracy doctrine and replace it with a capitalist doctrine.

Evidentially they argue that (somehow) this would bring about a "Great Capitalist Peace," as the authors call it, in which American hegemony would be eclipsed by the sheer success of nations the world over. That happy state of affairs would then somehow result in homegrown democracies in nations that had previously resisted democracy.

In other words, if Kim Jong-il's government could only become as rich and powerful as the US one, democracy would bloom in North Korea.

I can't even dismiss that attempt to eclipse the democracy doctrine as a college try because I assume college students interested in the topic know about the infamous Washington Consensus.

A wag noted that there never was a Washington consensus because economists disagreed on how to pull Latin America out of economic ruin. However, the Washington Consensus was overwhelmingly a laundry list of capitalist-oriented measures that were implemented with greater or lesser success in Latin America in the late 80s and the 90s. And they had applications outside Latin America and strongly colored US foreign policy in the 1990s and the runup to 9/11.

It was the list of measures that transformed the antiglobalist movement from a bunch of granola eaters and union bosses to where it is today, with ties to terrorist organizations and the clear-cut agenda of destroying the power of the United States of America. Indeed, the economist who coined the term "Washington Consensus" once noted that the antiglobalists couldn't even hear the term without "foaming at the mouth." He was barely exaggerating.

I don't know where Hulsman spent the 1990s, but I think Lieven is too sophisticated to have seriously proposed returning to September 10, 2001 and trying to pretend that the next day never happened, so I have no idea what he's up to in that book.

The world we knew on September 10 is gone, forever; it's gone because it was built on willful blindness. Many policy analysts in Washington and Brussels really believed at the time that globalization and its pro-free market orientation had already ushered in a great capitalist peace. And they took a patronizing attitude to the antiglobalist movement.

Again, I haven't read the book, but if the quotes Dr. Ernie sent me are indication, there have been more sophisticated attempts to get rid of the democracy doctrine, which is anathema to transnational corporations, antiglobalists, terrorists, state sponsors of terror, military dictatorships, and transnational crime syndicates.

The big question is whether the doctrine is still anathema to Brussels. Up until very recently I would have said yes. But in December a British analyst appearing on Fox Cable said bluntly that the new view in Europe is that immigrants assimilate or get out. He was speaking specifically of the Muslim immigrants, but the point is that Brussels might be looking at the democracy doctrine in a different light now that Europeans are getting their head screwed on straight.

If that is the case, the Eurocrats -- formerly the US Democrat Party -- will have to retrench because they follow the Brussels party line. I don't know where that would leave Mr Lieven.

"The business of America is business," it's said. But the foremost business of the US federal government is to defend America. US foreign policy needs to get its head out of economics books.

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