Tuesday, October 16, 2018

U.S. Foreign Policy Faces Grave Danger, Part 5

This post wraps up my series on U.S. Foreign Policy Faces Grave Danger.

In March 2005, Bush adviser Karen Hughes was named to a State Department post, Deputy Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy. In late September 2005 she traveled to Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey to open a dialogue with important Muslim countries. Her task was to persuade them that Bush’s War on Terror was not a War against Islam.

On September 26, 2005, Hughes met with a small group of Egyptians who had studied in the U.S. She told them “it’s sometimes hard to talk about difficult issues,” but that “we’re open to ideas.”

Prominent Egyptians told Hughes that the U.S. can improve its image in the Middle East only by changing its policies, namely, that its policies on Iraq, Iran, Syria, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and what the U.S. said was inconsistent with its [favorable] treatment of repressive Arab governments.

Hughes second stop was Saudi Arabia, On September 27, 2018, she told a group of Saudi women that they could be like her and have the right to drive and wear pretty clothes.

The Saudi women harshly criticized her for denouncing their culture and trying to force change on Saudi society. They told her that Saudi women were happy and did not like the image of unhappy Saudi women portrayed in the American media. These remarks met with applause from female colleagues dressed in the black abaya.

Next stop was Turkey. In a September 28, 2005, meeting with Turkish women active in non-governmental organizations, Hughes was harshly criticized due to Bush’s decision to invade Iraq.

Hughes trip was a total failure. But the fault was that of Bush and his foreign policy team, not Hughes. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice visited Egypt to talk about human rights. After a speech at the American University of Cairo on June 20, 2005, she got an earful from Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

In October 2007, Karen Hughes resigned her position and returned to private business.

Bush, Rice, and Hughes were steeped in the paradigm of Western democracy. It was inconceivable to them that Middle East residents were not equally keen on American political institutions, practices, and values. Bush’s vision of a just war in Iraq to promote democracy was in marked opposition to views held by the region’s major powers.

Diversity and Inclusion

Every U.S. college and university adheres to the doctrine that Diversity and Inclusion of students, faculty, and staff is essential for educated Americans to interact productively in their political, economic, and social relations with foreigners of different racial, religious, ethnic, linguistic, cultural, gender, tribal, social, economic, and other distinguishing characteristics. Diversity and Inclusion further stipulates that interaction between different groups must take place under respectful conditions in which the values, ideas, and contributions of each group are made to feel welcome and equally valued.

No prominent individual has been able to persuade university leaders and faculty that the doctrine of Diversity and Inclusion on which all of U.S. higher education is predicated could possibly be wrong in any way.

Much as Chinese higher education is governed by Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for the Modern era, so too U.S. higher education is governed by Bush/ObamaThought on Democracy with American characteristics of Diversity and Inclusion for the Modern Era.

Let’s consider the counter-argument.

First, the story of Karen Hughes is self-explanatory.

Second, those instilled with (blinded by) D&I as the only acceptable view of human relations will be unable to acknowledge, much less deal with, reality when it differs from D&I.

Third, individuals who factually describe, let’s call them “fact-based realists (FBR),” poor or harmful conditions among peoples in different places around the world will be harshly criticized by Americans who descend from, or identify with, those persons. Americans of African, Latin American, Asian, and other backgrounds will accuse FBR of racism, sexism, homophobia, and so forth. FBR will be compelled to recant their “disrespectful” statements and/or resign their positions. In American parlance, FBR will be accused of “blaming the victims.”

Fourth, stating the fact that the vast majority of countries and active secessionist movements, some three-quarters of the world’s population, live in countries that prize Homogeneity and Exclusion will be deemed heresy, punishable by loss of job and social ostracism.

Fifth, in plural societies, rival groups do not respect and value each other. Rather, rival groups hate each other. Perhaps that explains Bush’s failure to understand that his vision of a unified Iraq is not shared by Sunnis, Shias, and Kurds. Or, English and French-speaking Cameroonians. And on and on and on for dozens of countries and secessionist movements.

Foreign policy cannot be constructively conducted in a world driven by U.S. based identity politics that precludes FBR. It must go wrong. Think George W. Bush and Iraq. Think Barack Obama and Libya and Syria.

Politics in Plural Societies

Only now, that leftist intellectuals have rediscovered identity politics in the wake of President Trump’s presumed White-backlash election victory over Hillary Clinton, has identity politics come to the fore. The democracy school encompassing over 90% of U.S. political scientists has been trying to show that democracy is an unstoppable force spreading around the world, transcending group differences.

But in the past few years, these same scholars write of a democracy recession, a democracy depression. I’ll limit my comments here to Francis Fukuyama’s 2018 book entitled Identity: The Demand for Dignity and the Politics of Resentment. In a summary article published on September 12, 2018, in The Hill, Fukuyama states that “The United States invaded Iraq in 2003, arguing that it intended to replace Saddam Hussein with a friendly democratic regime. Fifteen years later, that goal does not appear in sight.”

What went wrong?

“The underlying problem in Iraq is the absence of any sense of overarching national identity. There is no entity called Iraq to which citizens feel loyalty, in preference to their ethnic group, sect, region, or tribe.” (Did he not know that Sunnis and Shias have been enemies for twelve centuries?)

“Within the greater Middle East, Syria, Somalia and Afghanistan have been embroiled in civil wars as a result of out-of-control identity politics.”

Fukuyama notes that the Democrat Party has changed from broad-based coalitions of the New Deal and Great Society to one based on its component identity groups. He blames that partly on Democrats who rejected assimilation to an overarching national identity and partly on Donald Trump and the rise of a new generation of right-wing identitarians. 

I’m not going to comment on the pros and cons of his recommendations for national service to cut across race, ethnicity, and class. You can buy his book, read them, and decide for yourself. What is important about his book, and a spate of others echoing the same theme, is that identity politics obstructs democracy. This is how they explain the democracy recession/depression and the rise of “nationalists” states around the world.

What is amazing has been their denial of FBR for decades, in which identities have been held in check by colonial powers and authoritarian regimes. FBR was not compatible with their global democracy activism.

Herein lies great danger. Diversity and Inclusion is an ideology. Ideology, as the late Professor William Riker stated, is a false view of reality. There can be no room for fact-based realists in the D&I utopian remake of American society. Conducting FBR foreign policy is going to be a nightmare for future presidents, secretaries of state, and secretaries of defense.

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