....If you thought the neocons were vanquished, disappearing along with the Bush-Cheney administration, better think again. Their mindset still animates most of what the GOP offers in opposition to President Barack Obama's magical apology tour. For while the president won a Nobel Peace Prize for his heartfelt mea maxima culpa, Charles Krauthammer & Co. see no reason to surrender America's two-decades-and-counting "era of maximum dominance" to the Chinese simply because Beijing holds the pink slip on our national economy.
First, some details.
At the heart of this struggle lie two diametrically opposed views of today's world: one that accepts globalization as the all-powerful shaper of human destiny, and one that does not, thereby leaving open the "choice" of primacy, in Krauthammer's vernacular. For Obama, globalization is an inescapable condition of profound interdependency -- the destroyer of zero-sum competition. But for Republican hawks, globalization is nothing more than the next playing field upon which fierce great-power competition and conflicts will unfold. In the minds of these "true realists," globalization has, to date, failed to change human nature. As a result, its perceived interdependencies amount to nothing in the face of determined ideologues -- themselves included.
The historical ironies here are rich. The neocons, who previously were the most triumphant revelers in America's decades-long role as bodyguard to freedom's advance, now express the most frantic Hobbesian fears about what globalization has unleashed. Meanwhile, the normally homebody Dems, as now embodied in the Kant-like calm of Obama, seem to absorb all these challenges as natural outcomes of America's recent success in accelerating globalization's expansion -- that serene Roosevelt-cum-Clinton-cum-Obama belief in America's dealmaking acumen.
To simply ascribe the difference to the right's "hard-headed" realism and the left's "woolly headed" idealism obscures the historical record. With no great-power war in over six decades, and classic state-on-state war virtually eradicated, we are now left with the weeds of civil strife -- and the terror groups they spawn -- spread across a host of fake states cynically left behind by Europe's 20th-century colonial powers. This is the proverbial hill of beans in a world that's seen global GDP increase approximately six-fold over the past three decades! As for the dawning era of "hyper-proliferation" that Krauthammer decries, we're still dealing with a whopping total of two emerging nuclear states (North Korea and Iran), the first since Israel (no. 6), India (no. 7) and Pakistan (no. 8) began knocking on that door in the latter half of the Cold War.
Indeed, on a per capita basis, humanity now enjoys the most peaceful and prosperous period in its entire history. FDR's "New Deal for the world" morphed into the post-World War II international liberal trade order, which in turn begat the free West, the global economy, and ultimately this thing of ours called globalization, with its frightening subtext of civilizational miscegenation -- aka, Americanization. Slap Obama's multiracial face on this package and, buddy, it doesn't get any better than this.
A synopsis of the book and its ideas- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vQFJM0_EdmYAgain we spot the essential divide between a post-Cold War Democratic mindset that views the world primarily in terms of economics and interdependency, and a pre-globalization Republican mindset that dismisses all that peace-through-trade thinking as dangerous nonsense, still preferring to divide the world between political good guys and bad guys, with nary a strategic economic interest to unite them.
And it's no coincidence if that delineation suggests a generational break. That is just another aspect of the neocons' deep fears about America's future, as represented by our young president's non-ideological pragmatism.