Friday, May 2, 2008

Auto Dreams



Between the Fall of the Wall and the Fall of the Towers, the world changed. As ancient, played collectivist dictatorships either fell or wobbled worse than weebils many govs tried to fire up a game of internal appeasement while maintaining political control.

"Autocrats" is the name and control is the game. One of Great Satan's coolest intelligentsia lays it out in a great bit that WaPo pubbed.

Robert Kagan is one of the Ancient PNACers. An original Neocon and an avatar of America Unbound.

Since Great Satan is the world's sole hyper power - lesser cats are reviving a game of 'Great Powers"

"Ideology matters again. The big development of recent years is the rise not
only of great powers but also of the great-power autocracies of Russia and
China. True realism about the international scene begins with understanding how
this unanticipated shift will shape our world."

Many believe that when Chinese and Russian leaders stopped believing in
communism, they stopped believing in anything. They had become pragmatists,
pursuing their own and their nation's interests.

But Chinese and Russian rulers, like past rulers of autocracies, do have a
set of beliefs that guide their domestic and foreign policies. They believe in
the virtues of strong central government and disdain the weaknesses of the
democratic system. They believe strong rule at home is necessary if their
nations are to be respected in the world. Chinese and Russian leaders are not
just autocrats. They believe in autocracy.

And why shouldn't they? In Russia and China, growing national wealth and
autocracy have proved compatible, contrary to predictions in the liberal West.
Moscow and Beijing have figured out how to permit open economic activity while
suppressing political activity. People making money will keep their noses out of
politics, especially if they know their noses will be cut off if they don't. New
wealth gives autocracies a greater ability to control information -- to
monopolize television stations and control Internet traffic, for instance --
often with the assistance of foreign corporations eager to do business with
them.

In the long run, rising prosperity may produce political liberalism, but how
long is the long run? It may be too long to have strategic or geopolitical
relevance.

In the meantime, the power and durability of these autocracies will shape the
international system. The world is not about to embark on a new ideological
struggle of the sort that dominated the Cold War. But the new era, rather than
being a time of common values and shared interests, will be one of growing
tensions and sometimes confrontation between the forces of democracy and those
of autocracy.

If autocracies have their own set of beliefs, they also have their own set of
interests. China's and Russia's rulers are pragmatic chiefly in protecting their
continued rule. Their interest in self-preservation shapes their approach to
foreign policy.

Russia is a good example of how a nation's governance affects its relations
with the world. A democratizing Russia, and even Mikhail Gorbachev's democratizing Soviet Union, took a fairly benign view of NATO and tended to have good relations with neighbors that were treading the same path toward democracy. But Vladimir Putin regards NATO as a hostile entity, calls its enlargement "a serious provocation" and asks "against whom is this expansion intended?" Yet NATO is less provocative and threatening toward Moscow today than it was in Gorbachev's time.

What is so scary about NATO? Military power? Nope. After all - Europa couldn't even take an 8 hour panzer drive to to Balkania to put Milosevic out of biz. Most of NATO only knows how to enjoy their freedom - not manning up to kill killers in scary places in the world.

Kagan preaches it right down the line.

It is the democracy.
The post-Cold War world looks different from autocratic Beijing and Moscow than
it does from democratic Washington, London, Paris, Berlin or Brussels. The
"color revolutions" in Georgia and Ukraine, so celebrated in the West, worried
Putin because they checked his regional ambitions and because he feared their
examples could be repeated in Russia. Even today he warns against "jackals" in
Russia who "got a crash course from foreign experts, got trained in neighboring
republics and will try here now."

American and European policymakers say they want Russia and China to
integrate into the international liberal order, but it is not surprising if
Russian and Chinese leaders are wary. Can autocrats enter the liberal
international order without succumbing to the forces of liberalism?
Afraid of the answer, the autocracies are understandably pushing back, with some
effect.

Controlled rule by autocratic autocrats - despite being so played and down right immoral is phoenixing to act out on the world stage. The last man and the "End Of History" may have probs dealing with it - but the lust for power is like any other other lust - all consuming, driving and nigh unquenchable. And the lust for absolute power is absolutely lustful.
Fascism was in vogue in Latin America in the 1930s and '40s partly because it
seemed successful in Italy, Germany and Spain. The rising power of democracies
in the last years of the Cold War, culminating in communism's collapse after
1989, contributed to the global wave of democratization.

The rise of two powerful autocracies may shift the balance back again.
Russia's foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, welcomes the return of ideological competition.

"For the first time in many years," he boasts, "a real competitive environment
has emerged on the market of ideas" between different "value systems and
development models."

And the good news, from the Kremlin's perspective, is that "the West is losing its
monopoly on the globalization process."

All this comes as an unwelcome surprise to a democratic world that believed such
competition ended when the Berlin Wall fell.

The New Millennium is not a dream. Yet, it is time to wake up and begin a benign tough policy of selective intervention and constant confrontation.

Pic by Hido

6 comments:

Findalis said...

Russia has never been a Democracy. It has always been an autocratic society.

Under the Czar free speech and other rights were suppressed. Education was suppressed. To maintain power the Czar had to keep his people ignorant and scared.

Then the communists came. They kept the scare (the Stalin purges are a great example), but increased education. When Gorbachev introduced freedoms and stopped the scare, the communists fell from power.

Putin has started the scare back up and is curtailing the freedoms. Criticism of him or his party is suppressed. But the people are educated. Will he fall finally? Maybe.

China has learned from the mistakes of the Soviet Union. They educate their people, but control every aspect of their lives. They control what they watch, read, see and speak. Violations of such controls will give one a long prison sentence or death.

China won't fall until the people get fed up with their government and decide to rebel. That will only happen if the military joins them.

Donald Douglas said...

Great post, Courney - again!

Kagan's right, of course. The truth is that international politics contains eternal truths, and one of these is the continual jockeying for power and prestige across the various regimes in the system.

Russia and China will do what they can, especially while they have affluence. Pseudo democracy in Moscow and pseudo communism in Beijing suits the ruling elites just fine, as long as they can continue their drive to the top ranks of the international hierarchy.

If they can depose the U.S. from the pinnacle, all the better.

But it ain't happening any time soon. For all of our current problems, our long-cycle of dominance is not near an end. Indeed, I think this century's going to be the American Century II.

More later ... have a great weekend!

Lord Nazh said...

"But the people are educated. Will he fall finally? Maybe."

As long as the people are educated, eventually they will be free.

Debbie said...

Very good article by Robert Kagan.

Education does lead to the desire for freedom. And yes there are ultimate truths, but I think many fail to recognize them or accept them.

Debbie Hamilton
Right Truth

Skunkfeathers said...

The world remains a dangerous place. The cost of the kind of freedom we enjoy remains being prepared to fight to maintain it, against any and all comers. Right now, it's Islamofascists. Tomorrow...perhaps a resurgent Russia or ever-inscrutable China.

Our vigilance, and their knowing that we are prepared and ready to meet any threat, is the only way to hold the far frontier and keep the enemies away from the gates.

That is simply the way the world is.

GrEaT sAtAn'S gIrLfRiEnD said...

Hey ya'll! Whoa - great stuff there. Kagan is rapidly becoming a personal fave. He's got a new book out later this month about upgunning Great Satan's military. Am Enterp is the only ones selling it so far and I to snag a copy from a very nice fanboy here soon.

The auto crats are playing a dangerous game. They really think they can manipulate their ppl with trade offs for a voice and a hand in guidance and nat'l direction. Good luck! They'll need it.