Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Why is William Kristol so stupid? Martha Nussbaum wrote an article recently, first appearing in the Los Angeles Times, and subsequently appearing on the University of Chicago Law Faculty Blog, in which she points out that what happened in Mumbai may have very dire consequences for India's Muslim populations, and that Muslims have often been the victims of terrorism in India, the most recent example being "the slaughter of as many as 2,000 Muslim civilians by Hindu right-wing mobs in the state of Gujarat over several months in 2002." Kristol responds to this sensible post, which points out that mass violence against Muslims should be prevented by the Indian government, with huffing, bluster, and bullshit:
[Nussbaum] deplores past acts of Hindu terror against India’s Muslims. She worries about Muslim youths being rounded up on suspicion of terrorism with little or no evidence. And she notes that this is “an analogue to the current ugly phenomenon of racial profiling in the United States.”

So jihadists kill innocents in Mumbai — and Nussbaum ends up decrying racial profiling here. Is it just that liberal academics are required to include some alleged ugly American phenomenon in everything they write?
Okay, so far so bad, but it gets worse. In response to former (moderate Republican) senator Jim Leach's claim that we should view the attacks in Mumbai not as an act of war but of barbarism - Leach's attempt to restrain Indian military action in Pakistan - Kristol tells us
if terror groups are to be defeated, it is national governments that will have to do so. In nations like India (and the United States), governments will have to call on the patriotism of citizens to fight the terrorists. In a nation like Pakistan, the government will have to be persuaded to deal with those in their midst who are complicit. This can happen if those nations’ citizens decide they don’t want their own country to be dishonored by allegiances with terror groups. Otherwise, other nations may have to act.
And in case anyone was wondering where the reference to Samuel Huntington was, it comes up in the last paragraph: "Patriotism is an indispensable weapon in the defense of civilization against barbarism." What is it with these realpolitik foreign policy wogs who think that they're being sensible when in fact they're just taking everyone else's moderation and exaggerating it so that it becomes nationalistic bluster. When everyone else is still figuring out the level of Pakistan's complicity in the attacks, Kristol is already contemplating invasion. Perhaps he can personally lynch all of Pakistan's terrorists. Perhaps him, John Wayne, and Rambo can take Pakistan by force and restore to it a functioning democracy. I hope Kristol is enjoying his brilliant vice-presidential pick (Palin) and writing mediocre op-eds, because it's going to be a long time before the Republicans have any power in this country again.


Tim C said...

I enjoyed the post, Alex, but I have a pedantic correction. Kristol does not advocate realpolitik; in fact, neoconservatism consciously sets itself in opposition to realpolitik, also known as "realism." The nub of the disagreement is one of idealism. Realism concerns itself with stability, balance of powers, etc, whereas neocons find this an (ironically) maddeningly conservative approach to foreign policy. They believe that greater ambition in foreign policy can produce greater results, democratically speaking.

Fukuyama's The End of History probably has the best neconservative critique of realism. (Although today he claims he's no longer a member of the House of Kristol, and he voted for Obama.)

Here's a more recent debate on the issue between Joshua Muravchik and Stephen M. Walt:


You might already know this stuff and the realpolitik thing might have been a slip. In which case, sorry.

Alex Greenberg said...

Thanks Tim