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All he is saying is give war a chance: Democracy and world peace are really not such great ideas. Just ask author Robert Kaplan
11 Mar 2000| National Post pg B5 |Alexander Rose.

Whatever else journalist Robert D. Kaplan picked up during his sojourn in the Great Back of Beyond, it wasn't universal love, touch-feely harmony and a We-Are-The-World attitude. In this newspaper last weekend, reviewing The Coming Anarchy -- a collection of his recent assays he was in Canada to promote this week — Misha Glenny aptly remarked: "If you want to feel uplifted about the human condition, you should steer clear of Kaplan's work as a general rule." An example; The way to make this world a better place Kaplan casually proposes in his new collection of essays (named after his famous 1994 article in The Atlantic Monthly predicting cultural clashes, tribal and widespread environmental meltdown), is for Congress to reauthorize assassination as a political instrument to grasp that democracy is not suitable for everyone; and that world peace would actually make war likelier.

"I've spent a great deal of my life covering wars," he says. Moreover, "unlike a lot of journalists, I read -- I read a lot, a lot of history, a lot of philosophy.

Look at Livy (the ancient Roman historian)...'Drew him to classical philosophy. ''If you read the ancient Chinese, or Cicero, Machiavelli or Herodotus, these a strain running through them - which is that if you always think about might go wrong, things might start going right and you can avoid tragedy.'' Thus, ''tragedy is avoidable if you always maintain a sense of it.''

The problem, however, is that "the times we live in are so prosperous for us that it's hard to think tragically." And, most alarmingly, "Revolutions and upheavals happen when things are getting better, not worse."

...When Mr. Kaplan speaks of "realists" he is describing the Hobbesian view that man has a rapacious, brutal, selfish nature. On the world stage, this translates as furiously competing sovereign states battling over their respective interests, many of which are intractable. Realists therefore believe eternal and armed vigilance, not highfalutin UN declarations, are the key to ensuring "human security". ...Kaplan believes that there are three strands of "realism" battle for supremacy...."You don't have to believe in global warming, but we're entering a world in which there will be six billion of us and you have to realize that there are now enough of us living in urbanized conditions that we're occupying zones which are climatically and tectonically fragile. "Now, we've got 70% of the Chinese population producing two-thirds of the industrial output living in flood zones. Forget about Mozambique -- that's a sideshow."...So what advice would he give our Department of Foreign Affairs so that Canada could punch above its weight in the world?

Says Kaplan, without skipping a beat: "It's hard for a country of 30 million to have a pivotal impact. So the way to do it is to get behind an idea everyone knows is smart but nobody has the time or the inclination to push."

Is Foreign Affairs Minister Lloyd Axworthy's position on human rights and human security one such "smart idea"? Mr. Kaplan gives it short shrift (actually, no shrift at all). "It's far too flaccid and formless to be taken seriously because all he's really stating is a kind of easy truth. Tough truths, on the other hand, are things like when and where you intervene and under what circumstances.

"So, I would say Canada needs to go on fast forward to a Global Constabulary Force. NATO, with all its problems, worked well in Kosovo and Bosnia. So, we [i.e., Canada] will create an out-of-area military branch of NATO with some non-European members -- such as Japan, Australia, India, Brazil -- to form the core of the GCF." Then "we'll have a wider range of options during the next Rwanda, or next time something happens in a place with no strategic interest to anyone but where there's an overwhelming sense that we should 'do something.' But just talking about human security ... The minute you have something that everyone agrees with you know it's useless."

A lesson from the master himself.
floodplains  Greek  hard_choices  hard_power  hard_questions  hard_truths  history  human_rights  human_security  journalists  middle-powers  Niccolò_Machiavelli  political_theory  punch-above-its-weight  rapaciousness  realism  realpolitik  Robert_Kaplan  Romans  thinking_tragically  the_human_condition  world_stage  worst-case 
july 2012 by jerryking
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