September 2, 2008

English summary

This issue of Diplomaatia is devoted to the subject of spreading democracy.

Former Estonian Foreign Minister Toomas Hendrik Ilves reviews Francis Fukuyama’s new book “America at the Crossroads: Democracy, Power, and the Neoconservative Legacy,” which analyses the intellectual origins of the Neoconservative movement and the consequences of the Neoconservative foreign policy.

This issue of Diplomaatia is devoted to the subject of spreading democracy.

Former Estonian Foreign Minister Toomas Hendrik Ilves reviews Francis Fukuyama’s new book “America at the Crossroads: Democracy, Power, and the Neoconservative Legacy,” which analyses the intellectual origins of the Neoconservative movement and the consequences of the Neoconservative foreign policy.

English summary

This issue of Diplomaatia is devoted to the subject of spreading democracy.
Former Estonian Foreign Minister Toomas Hendrik Ilves reviews Francis Fukuyama’s new book “America at the Crossroads: Democracy, Power, and the Neoconservative Legacy,” which analyses the intellectual origins of the Neoconservative movement and the consequences of the Neoconservative foreign policy. Ilves notes that Fukuyama, already well known for his frequent changes of position, has changed his views once again, turning from a believer in Neoconservatism to one of its most serious critics. But regardless of that – or possibly thanks to that – Fukuyama’s newest work, according to Ilves, “offers one of the best analyses of the US foreign policy’s intellectual landscape over the last five years and its roots.”
Ilves argues that the importance of Fukuyama’s analyses for the Estonian audience does not stem from the alternatives Fukuyama offers to Neoconservatism, but from the question it inevitably brings along: how are we, Estonians, able to cope in the world where the greatest power has abandoned the principles of Westphalian peace, international law and the institutional solutions built up over the last 60 years?
“The problem is that small states are very dependent on international law, treaties, the concept of the supremacy of sovereignty and the unacceptability of pre-emptive war. When we abandon these principles, we are back in the jungle in the struggle for survival. Although Article 5 gives us, as a NATO member state, a certain sense of security regarding possible attacks, the overall situation in the world has become significantly more uncertain.”
Ilves also argues that analyzing neoconservative foreign policy should help us better understand what the bases of Estonian foreign and security policy are or should be. “The strong Estonian and Eastern European support for the US has historic roots, but we support something different from what we have seen happening during this (George W. Bush’s – ed) administration,” notes Ilves.
On the other hand, one is entitled to ask what are Europe’s foreign politicy thoughts? “Forceless, reprimanding, risk-avoiding, at times ostrich-like foreign policy that has been Europe’s since it stood by and watched a catastrophe take place in Bosnia does not seem much better than the choices the US has made,” states Ilves. “For two years now, Estonia has been among the architects of the EU’s foreign policy, so this criticism is no longer solely about “them,” but also about us. Maybe it is time for Europe to try a different approach? In order to be able to avoid mistakes, policy makers should read Fukuyama’s latest book.”
The mistakes that have been made and the mistakes that can still be avoided in Iraq are the focus of an article by Kadri Liik, editor of Diplomaatia, who recently spent 10 days visiting Baghdad, Fallujah and Taji – Iraq’s Sunni triangle. She finds that the picture on the ground looks significantly more jumbled than one might conclude from reading Western newspapers. For example, despite the ever more frequent sectarian killings, the country is still far from an all-out civil war; and there is a lot to lose by leaving Iraq prematurely.
The experiences of the military on the ground in Iraq are described in more detail by Lieutenant-Colonel Leo Kunnas, who spent the last months of 2005 working as a staff officer in Camp Taji in Iraq. “As seen through the eyes of a coalition soldier, the war in Iraq does not resemble at all the notion about war that has become rooted in the Estonian psyche over many generations. That definition of war means cold, hunger, deprivation and lack of information. Contractors coming from South Asia, India or Bangladesh regularly end up piling too much food on their plates – and then they eat, because they are ashamed to throw food away. Here one also understands why hell is depicted as hot in the Bible. Primary needs are satisfied, actually the life here resembles the communist paradise that Lenin and others may have imagined in their perverse utopias. There is so much information in the command room and secret information net that it is hard to analyze all of it satisfactorily; and the internet and satellite phones connect you to the rest of the world.
But one aspect of war remains always the same: some die, others survive, several get wounded, some of the wounded recover and others do not. In this respect, all wars are same.”
The EU promoting democracy in the East is the focus of an article by Andres Herkel, an Estonian MP. “Is Islam an obstacle to democracy,” he asks, and finds that in and of itself it should not be, but the prevalence os Islam in a certain country still helps to create some less than helpful perceptions and misunderstandings, when it comes to setting criteria and assessing progress on the path towards democracy. In Azerbaijan, for example, the democratic opposition accuses Western institutions of not demanding enough of Azerbaijan, possibly because the latter is a Moslem country. At the same time, when Azerbaijan was reprimanded by the Council of Europe, the leaders of the country were certain that this happened because the West was just willing to see more shortcomings in a Moslem country than it would have seen elsewhere.
Herkel then turns to the Samuel Huntington’s theory about the clash of civilizations and states that there is a danger that “similarly to the Indian cast system, we label different cultures according to their supposed capability to democratize, and then this cast system becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. According to that system, Western Christianity would belong to the first cast, Orthodoxy the second and Islam to the third.”
The book review is written by Toomas Hiio, who discusses Max Jakobson’s latest book “Tulevaisuus?” or “Future?”.

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