Friday, December 08, 2006
I never asked for the truth but you owe that to me:
About Jeane Kirkpatrick: have conservatives reassessed her "Dictatorships & Double Standards" essay? I thought the line on it -- particularly among neocons -- was that it represented a triumph of amorality, as Lawrence has hinted several times. On NRO, however, Mona Charen praises the seminal essay's "hard-headed common sense." Maybe it depends on what kind of conservative one is; or how smart one is; or the fact that it would be uncharitable to criticize her now that she's dead. But tastefulness has never been a particularly potent conservative motivator when it comes to attacks on deviationists, so if anyone can set me straight on what conservatism-writ-large makes of D&DS, I'd appreciate it.
--Spencer Ackerman
Kirkpatrick's distinction between pro-soviet "totalitarians" and anti-soviet "authoritarians" helped justify U.S. collusion with the reliably anti-Communist Hussein in Iraq and the proto-Qaeda Mujahadeen in Afghanistan. I think some neoconservatives see their "international democratic revolution" as a way to make up for associating with such unsavory players during the Cold War. Richard Perle argued that it was the United States' duty to overthrow Saddam, precisely because it had tacitly supported him in the past.

Still, Kirkpatrick herself was a quintessential neoconservative - a New Deal Democrat (and one-time member of the Young Peoples Socialist League) whose anti-Communism evolved into full-blown Cold War conservatism.
Blogger The Special | 3:06 PM

I rather suspect that for Mona Charen, the fact that Kirkpatrick attacks Jimmy Carter is what counts.

With the benefit of hindsight, I'd say that Brzezinski comes off as more farsighted than Kirkpatrick. According to Kirpatrick, Brzezinski thought that Only the "delayed development" of the Soviet Union, "an archaic religious community that experiences modernity existentially but not quite yet normatively," prevented wider realization of the fact that the end of ideology was already here. For the U.S., Brzezinski recommended "a great deal of patience," a more detached attitude toward world revolutionary processes, and a less anxious preoccupation with the Soviet Union. Instead of engaging in ancient diplomatic pastimes, we should make "a broader effort to contain the global tendencies toward chaos," while assisting the processes of change that will move the world toward the "community of developed nations."

Kirkpatrick, meanwhile, was thinking that the fall of Somoza and the Shah in Nicaragua and Iran, respectively, removed any prospect for the development of democracy in those countries. But Nicaragua is a democracy today, and I'd say that Iran is closer to being a democracy today than it was under the Shah. There are elections. The candidates have to be approved by the clerics, but the practice of holding elections where voters have even a limited choice builds some of the habits and expectations needed for a fully functioning democracy.
Blogger Kenneth Almquist | 9:16 PM