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Continuing The Neo-Liberalism Discussion

with 5 comments

Badd Bob of Planned Obsolescence has built on my discussion about Neo-Liberalism with a thought-provoking post that asks some fascinating long term questions about where US hegemony could lead. Badd Bob puts China at the top of his list of adversarial states, but he questions how forceful the US can be in establishing and directing its power without generating blow-back.  There’s still plenty of work to be done in shaping the concept. Discussion open.

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Written by coolrebel

February 27, 2009 at 12:32 am

5 Responses

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  1. when it does, it must strike hard, quickly and very effectively, and get the hell out of dodge just as fast

    By my understanding, this makes you a devotee of the Powell Doctrine. I suppose that’s a step in the right direction.

    Again, I flinch when I see stuff like “running the show.” I feel this is where the distinction between neo-liberalism and neo-conservatism blurs. We’ve got have at least the illusion of multilateralism, otherwise we remain the prototype (within the Arab world) of the infidel occupier.

    Now I am not unconvinced that we can soften up some of the Iraqis and make them complacent, willing advocates of our Imperial goals. Witness Pakistan. But even there, you have the hardcore followers in the FATA and Swat Valley who would love to ride into Islamabad and seize power. This same scenario seems likely among Iraqi insurgents, motivated by Saudi (and other) support networks.

    sometimes peace is war

    Oh no! Orwell just rolled over in his grave.


    February 28, 2009 at 2:42 am

  2. very interesting refinement. the principle is not democracy for all, it’s simply that the world will be better off if the most powerful liberal democracy on the planet was running the show. neo-liberalism contains a great deal of realpolitik, but at its core i suppose it’s a sort of utilitarian position. america, still to this day, is the best chance the world’s got.

    re: the role of the ‘bigger stick’, my feeling is that warfare is best conducted without a shot being fired, economically, psychologically, and diplomatically. sounds odd but sometimes peace is war. every adversary has a weakness. we need to be determined in our exploitation of them, for our interests and the world’s. for example, i want to see Israel thrive, but the only way i can see that happen is if they are pushed into a two state solution. Sometimes you have to be cruel to be kind. And often, peace is the best weapon we have. Hamas and Hezbollah thrive on war – give them peace and they’re in deep trouble.

    The only time that America should resort to guns and ammunition is as an absolute last resort. But when it does, it must strike hard, quickly and very effectively, and get the hell out of dodge just as fast.


    February 28, 2009 at 12:37 am

  3. Hmm…so for you, neo-lib is principled and not pragmatic. I would have thought the opposite, that neo-liberalism’s ultimate goal would be an overall reduction in violence by state and non-state actors. Also, like you mention, neo-lib hopes to stabilize national security, which seems like pragmatic realpolitik to me.

    So then, what is the principle exactly? That democracy is good for everyone? That two democracies have never gone to war with one another?

    I’m actually still having a hard time locking down the definition of neo-liberalism. I understand the diplomacy, soft power angle, backed by the “big stick,” an unspoken threat of violence. You say:

    under the Neo-Cons, we talked loudly and carried a stick that frankly got smaller and smaller the deeper we fell into the morass of Iraq and Afghanistan.

    Reading this, it sounds like neo-liberalism is potentially more brutal in its violence (i.e. a bigger stick).

    I think we agree that the US must have a role in, for lack of a better term, policing the regions of the globe that are hotbeds of violence. I can only hope that a neo-liberal agenda would contain a modicum of multilateral cooperation among nations, and not the relative unilateralism of the Bush administration.


    February 27, 2009 at 11:49 pm

  4. yes, some blowback is acceptable within the neo-lib framework. it’s important to draw the distinction with reapolitik. neo-lib is not pragmatic FP, it’s principled FP, but because it stresses diplomatic + economic warfare rather than active military intervention, it’s likely to have less blowback than the neo-con alternatives.


    February 27, 2009 at 9:12 pm

  5. Regarding blowback–is it a matter of how much is too much? In other words, is a small amount of blowback tolerable within neoliberalism, if only as a cost of doing business?


    February 27, 2009 at 9:46 am

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