18 February 2007


An Alternate Perspective on American Interests

Last night, I finished listening to the audio of this BloggingHeadsTV discussion between Michael Lind and James Pinkerton, both of the New American Foundation. I don't know squat about Pinkerton, but I've enjoyed several of Lind's books, including Up From Conservatism and The Next American Nation. He seems to me an honest American-centric intellectual whose sense of the nation extends well beyond his ivory tower. He has some interesting perspectives, some quite out of the mainstream, but they always seem grounded in well-researched history.

The discussion has to do with Lind's newest book, The American Way of Strategy. In it, he paints the current Iraq war in a strategic framework concerned more with keeping other great powers, Russia and China in this instance, out of the Middle East and securing American hegemony there. He doesn't dispute how things have gone wrong in the conduct of the war, but he frames it in something other than any of the removing a threatening state, removing a collaborator with terrorists, democratizing the Middle East, and War on Terror frameworks that have each been used at one or more times as the motivation for the war.

I haven't read the book, but intend to add it to the to-read list. In the meantime, the discussion at least has made me rethink some of my own ideas on the contemporary situation, particularly regarding the Islamacist threat. While Lind acknowledges that one nuclear bomb can ruin your whole day, he argues that the Islamacists, and Iran even, just don't pose a strategic threat to American interests, interests he sees, rightly in my perspective, as being more concerned with securing the survival of the Republic and it's democratic freedoms, and less with the interests of some imagined capitalist corporate or sectarian masters. He also argues, pretty persuasively, that maybe our interests are better served by a framework of great-power collusion and negotiation than either by going it alone or by trying to align almost 200 nations in one direction at the U.N.

An interesting listen/watch. If you've got an hour, you might want to consider it.

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