Kermit Snelson on Sun, 18 Aug 2002 01:26:53 +0200 (CEST)

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RE: <nettime> europa, usa, nettime (kagan)

Robert Kagan:

> It would be better still if Europeans could move beyond
> fear and anger at the rogue colossus and remember, again,
> the vital necessity of having a strong America - for the
> world and especially for Europe.

If that's not enough to tell you where Kagan's coming from, notice that
this observation immediately follows his unbelievable recommendation that
the "atavistic impulses that still swirl in the hearts of Germans,
Britons, and Frenchmen" be "played upon" in order to encourage those
nations to re-arm.

Kagan is, of course, a professional publicist for the USA's extreme,
"let's invade Iraq and overthrow the Saudis" right wing.  Check out the
biography and "recent publications" list on his official home page [1].  
Better yet, actually read some of those recent publications, like "Going
Wobbly?" and "Still Time for an Investigation" and "Cheney Trips Up" and
"The Coalition Trap" and "A Green Light for Israel" and the pre-911 "A
National Humiliation."  It's all hard-core warmongering, and much of it
openly accuses even President Bush of weak-kneed cowardice.

But that's not my point.  The point is that the Europe-USA tension that
Kagan "observes" doesn't really exist.  He's making it up.  The central
premise, as in all of the propaganda from his school (Carl Schmitt, Samuel
P. Huntington, Leo Strauss, etc.), is that liberal values must be paid for
in blood.  And as the solution to this invented ideological "conundrum,"
Kagan proposes that Europeans enjoy the liberalism and that Americans
enjoy the bloodshed.  He argues that both sides should embrace this
"double standard" as an "acceptable division."

The problem with his idea, of course, is that neither Americans nor
Europeans are buying it.  Europeans will never recognize a US prerogative
to blow up whatever and whomever they please.  Americans, on the other
hand, aren't about to give up their hard-won civil liberties, money and
even lives in the name of what Kagan calls (in classic Leo Strauss
fashion) "moral consciousness."  We know a con job when we see one.

Kagan knows that the inherent liberalism of American culture, not to
mention their old-fashioned street smarts and sense of self-interest, is
the Achilles' heel of his argument.  Unfortunately for Kagan, he can
address this objection with no better than this wishful hand-waving:

> Americans apparently feel no resentment at not being able to
> enter a "postmodern" utopia. There is no evidence most Americans
> desire to.  Partly because they are so powerful, they take pride
> in their nation's military power and their nation's special role
> in the world.

and this:

> In other words, just as Europeans claim, Americans can still
> sometimes see themselves in heroic terms - as Gary Cooper at
> high noon.  They will defend the townspeople, whether the
> townspeople want them to or not.

Perhaps Kagan can't tell the difference between Hollywood America and the
real one, but most Americans can.  And the reality is that Americans want
into what Kagan calls "a post-historical paradise of peace and relative
prosperity" just as much as Europeans do.  That's what unites, rather than
divides, the USA and Europe.  Americans, no more than Europeans, won't be
satisfied with being "stuck in history", as Kagan puts it.  Peace,
prosperity and the rule of law are for everyone, not just Europe, and
Kagan's best efforts won't convince Americans otherwise.  And I'm just as
sure that he won't convince Europeans, either.  Certainly not those
Europeans on nettime, right?

Kermit Snelson


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