Seamanship Quotation

“In political activity, then, men sail a boundless and bottomless sea; there is neither harbour for shelter nor floor for anchorage, neither starting-place nor appointed destination.”
— from Michael Oakeshott's
Political Education” (1951)

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Will Egypt lead Americans to re-think America’s foreign policy?

Not for long can American intellectuals sit on their hands when others are in the streets waving their slogans and calling Americans hypocrites. Michael Lind sees in the crisis in Egypt as another, possibly decisive, opportunity to re-open America’s approach to the world. His response to America’s inability to influence events in Egypt is austere and conservative.
“An Asia First strategy would require a different U.S. economic policy and a different U.S. military. American economic policymakers would have to abandon the utopian fantasy that China and its neighbors will abandon their highly successful versions of state capitalism for Anglo-American-style free-market capitalism. The U.S. would have to settle for a combination of managed and free trade across the Pacific.

“Meanwhile, the U.S. would also have to abandon the idea that it can maintain its post-Cold War hegemony in East Asia, without provoking confrontation with a rising China. Instead of encircling China on its coasts and its Central Asian land borders, the U.S. should adopt a less provocative "offshore balancer" strategy as an over-the-horizon naval and air power, adding its strength to that of Japan, India and other regional powers, if that is necessary to deter future attempts by China to intimidate its neighbors.

“America’s Middle Eastern policy would be subordinate to its Asia policy, if the U.S. pursued an Asia First strategy. The U.S. would abandon the attempt to be the quasi-imperial hegemon of the Greater Middle East as too costly, and adopt the more modest role of offshore balancer in that region, too. None of the three populous nations in the area, Iran, Turkey and Egypt, is powerful enough to dominate the others. The U.S. should seek to deter intervention by external great powers, not by permanently occupying and garrisoning the region from the Balkans to the border of Pakistan itself, but by promoting a regional concert among the great powers on the periphery of the Greater Middle East, including Europe, Russia, China and India. The stake of those countries in stability and peace in the region is much greater than any American interest in the area.”

-—Michael Lind, “Let’s end America’s ‘Middle East First’ policy,” Salon, February 2, 2011
This will not inspire neo-cons or liberal idealists. But, it may resonate with many Americans. It could even infiltrate the approaching Republican presidential primaries.

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