Thursday, January 12, 2012

Understanding USA's Political spectrum - Part2 - Wilsonians

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 India License.

Author: Rudra Devacharya

Continued from Part One

They are Ideological Expansionists. They seek to use the economic, political and military might of the United States to create a world where all nations look to the United States for ideological leadership. Their goal is to have all other nations willingly subject themselves to the geopolitical dominance of the United States in a global Pax Americana.

Wilsonians pretend to be “anti-imperialistic”, and conceal their intentions behind rhetoric of “democracy”, “American moral compass” and “multi-lateralism.” In this sense, the Wilsonians are the most hypocritical of all the four groups.

The Wilsonians favour democracy in other nations, only when such democracy is guaranteed to be dominated by essentially pro-American parties who will toe the American line when it comes to making policy. They are intolerant of democratic systems which could potentially be dominated by independent parties who put their own national interest ahead of America’s.

Wilsonians with respect to India: In this sense, Wilsonians are the most likely group to be anti-India. They are relatively happy with Manmohan Singh because of his willingness to accommodate American interests; but they are deeply distrustful of Indian babudom, and they are completely against nationalist Indian parties like the BJP.

In fact, even though they claim to stand for “democracy”, Wilsonians prefer dictatorships that can be successfully manipulated by America, to democratic countries that are independent enough to oppose America. The Wilsonian path to American global dominance involves “balance of power” games which essentially amount to divide-and-rule. The Wilsonians see America as the true legates of the British Empire, even though they would like to couch their subsidiary alliances in the guise of “independent democratic regimes” that only seek the leadership of America because America is morally superior.

One important thing to realize about the Wilsonians is that, since the end of the Cold War, they have actually split into two competing camps.

As long as the Cold War was in progress, Wilsonians were more or less united in seeing international Communism, specifically Soviet Communism, as the chief obstacle to ideological dominance of the world by the United States. Henry Kissinger could be described as the archetypal old-school, Cold-War-Era Wilsonian. However, following the USSR’s collapse, there is disagreement among the two camps of Wilsonians as to what America’s priorities should be.

These two camps of Wilsonians:

2A) The “Bush Wilsonians”, also commonly known as “Neoconservatives”, who gained prominence during the George W. Bush regime. They include Cheney, Wolfowitz, Perle, Rice, as well as lower-profile figures such as Robert Blackwill. Think-tanks of the Bush-Wilsonian persuasion include the CATO institute, the American Enterprise Institute, the Heritage Foundation and the Project for a New American Century.

The term “Neoconservative” is actually a misnomer for this group, because they are actually less conservative than the other camp. They sought to radically reconstruct the American foreign policy establishment’s view of the world following the end of the Cold War.

From the Bush-Wilsonian perspective, the demise of the Soviet Union was the start of a brand new era in which America had a unique opportunity as the sole superpower to shape the world for domination. Ideologically, the Bush-Wilsonians subscribe to the notion that America must be the unilateral forerunner of Western civilization, inspired by a Judeo-Christian (mainly Christian) perspective.

They deviate from the old-school, Cold-War-Era Wilsonians in no longer seeing Russia as the chief threat to the United States, and rejecting the idea that American dominance must be pursued multilaterally through such organizations as the UN.

The Bush-Wilsonians regard China as the major future threat to the United States, followed closely by international Islamism. They are fervent supporters of Israel, owing to a strongly Biblical ideology.

As a means to ensuring American global dominance, the Bush-Wilsonians have sought to reconstruct the geopolitical framework of alliances and strategic partnerships that prevailed during the Cold War. They have tried to rope in India into the American camp by offering such carrots as the Indo-US Civil Nuclear Cooperation Agreement. They have also strengthened America’s ties with former Soviet Bloc nations in Eastern Europe, bringing Poland, Hungary and Czechoslovakia into NATO.

On the other hand, the Bush-Wilsonians have downgraded the American reliance on allies in Continental Western Europe, which they dismissively describe as “Old Europe”, even as they have sought to shore up a few key alliances of the Cold-War Era such as with the UK, Australia, and Japan.

Similarly, they have made some moves towards engaging Russia as a potential strategic partner rather than a competitor, especially in light of the challenges Russia appeared to be facing from a resurgent China and from Islamist terrorism in the early 2000s.

However, their approach to Russia has been wary, and often contradictory, as seen in the American support for the “Orange Revolution” in Ukraine, American initiatives to station missiles in East European countries such as Poland, and American backing of such individuals as Georgia’s Shakashvili who were belligerently anti-Russian. In such cases, some of the old-school Cold-War-Era Wilsonian prejudices seemed to re-establish themselves with regard to Bush-Wilsonian foreign policy.

These contradictions also manifested themselves when, after invading Afghanistan, the Bush-Wilsonians decided to rely on Pakistan as an ally against the Taliban, with fatal consequences.

The highlight of the Bush-Wilsonians’ dominance over the US Foreign Policy Establishment was of course, the Iraq War… something which has ended up destroying their credibility for the present.

Bush Wilsonians with respect to India: As far as India is concerned, the Bush-Wilsonians have made overtures to India that sharply contrasted with the dismissive attitude of the Cold-War-Era Wilsonians. However, the growth of predatory Evangelical missionary activity as Washington’s influence increased in Delhi during the Bush administration, is a warning sign that not all was well with US-India relations during this period. Additionally, the Bush-Wilsonians have repeatedly insisted that India “prove” its sincerity towards Washington, by downgrading its relationship with Iran for example.

When and if the Bush-Wilsonians regain their influence in Washington, India should game them deftly… securing all the benefits we can from their willingness to abandon Cold-War Era policy, but remaining careful not to cede an undue level of influence that might prove to be detrimental to our national and civilizational interests.

2B) Clinton Wilsonians: The second camp of Wilsonians that has emerged following the USSR’s demise are the “Clinton-Wilsonians.” They are actually more conservative than the Bush-Wilsonian “Neoconservatives”, in that their attitudes more closely reflect the classical Cold-War-Era Wilsonians’ worldview.

The Clinton-Wilsonians are the closest group to what Sanjay M likes to call “Atlanticists”. They are deeply distrustful of Russia, and less averse to China; they are also strongly invested in the idea of revitalizing the trans-Atlantic alliances with Western Europe that America maintained during the Cold War. For the rest of the world, the Clinton-Wilsonians firmly trust in the British techniques of divide-et-impera, and in our region in particular, they are the modern torchbearers of Olaf Caroe’s geopolitical agenda. They are more likely than any of the other groups to entertain the idea that Jihadi Islamism can continue to be a coercive policy tool in America's hands.

Think-tanks of the Clinton-Wilsonian persuasion include the Brookings Institution and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Most of the Non-Proliferation types who bash India while ignoring Chinese/Paki proliferation, are Clinton-Wilsonians.

The Clinton-Wilsonians showed their eagerness to reshape the world in America’s favour following the end of the Cold War, most prominently in two instances. One was the war in Yugoslavia, which was deliberately split up into ethnic nationalities, providing additional levers of control that the West could easily manipulate. The second was the secession of East Timor from Indonesia.

In both of these cases, it should be noted that the Clinton-Wilsonians proceeded to fulfill their agenda under the cover of “international consensus”, using the UN to pull together “coalitions” of nations which supported the American initiative. This modus operandi is a key point of differentiation between Clinton-Wilsonians from Bush-Wilsonians, who have been much more prone to reject the authority of multilateral bodies like the UN and carry out unilateral actions such as the Iraq war.

Clinton Wilsonians with respect to India: As far as India is concerned, the Clinton-Wilsonians (who include such functionaries as Strobe Talbott, Richard Holbrooke and Robin Raphel) are an inflexible, implacable enemy. This is the single worst group that could come to dominate US foreign policy, from our point of view. They continue the most anti-India traditions of the Cold-War-Era Wilsonians, supporting Pakistan to the maximum extent possible and winking at Chinese nuclear proliferation to Pakistan, even while they bash India for developing its own nuclear arsenal. They refuse to see India as a potential strategic counter to China, and prefer to cultivate China in a “G2” model of cooperative partnership for the short-to-medium term.

The Clinton-Wilsonians are the group who most fervently support Pakistan as a counter to India’s regional dominance, as described in George Friedman’s Stratfor article. They are the most likely group to retain the India-Pakistan hyphen wherever possible, bombard India with equal-equal psyops, and overtly rake up the Kashmir issue as a pressure point against India. They seek to restrict Indian influence to a sub-dominant level even within the “South Asian” region. This is in sharp contrast to the Bush-Wilsonians who made some attempt to dehyphenate India and Pakistan, with a view to bolstering India as strategic rival against China.

I do not see how the Clinton-Wilsonians can be won over… when they are in charge of US foreign policy, it makes more sense for India to engage with other powerful interest groups such as the Hamiltonians so as the modulate the virulence of the Clinton-Wilsonians’ initiatives against India.

Speaking of Wilsonians in general, Lyndon Johnson (who began the Vietnam war) was a classic Wilsonian president, as was his successor Richard Nixon (who reached out to China via Pakistan to form an alliance against the Soviet Union). This is an illustration of how the policy groups of Meade’s spectrum can often cut across Republican/Democrat party lines.

More recently, Bill Clinton has been a Wilsonian president who was, however, always careful to secure the backing of the Hamiltonians (whose power greatly increased during the Reagan years.)

It should be noted that there are many in the US Foreign Policy Establishment who do not fully commit to either the Bush-Wilsonian or Clinton-Wilsonian camps. Robert Gates is one such. Other examples include academics like Stephen Cohen and Christine Fair, who pretend to an independent "maverick" image but in reality always make statements that are in line with the Wilsonian flavour-of-the-month in Washington.

Continued to Part three

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