Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Philosophical Understanding of Pax Britannica and Pax Americana

“A History of Western Philosophy” by Bertrand Russell

Frankly speaking, I am a complete layman in philosophy. However, I found it necessary to understand philosophical background of British and American hegemony, which has been the anchor of liberal world order since the 19th century. For philosophical understanding of Pax Britannica and Pax Americana, I recommend “A History of Western Philosophy” by Bertrand Russell. Why? Let me explain it to readers, and comment briefly about this book.

As a master’s student at the London School of Economics, my primary focus was on the theory of hegemonic stability. In this theory, American political economists Charles Kinleberger and Robert Gilpin explore why liberal world order collapsed during the interwar period, and they conclude that the decline of Britain and reluctance of America to assume hegemonic role lead to the Great Depression and the World War Ⅱ.

Currently, I am reading very insightful books: “Empire: The Rise and Demise of the British World Order and the Lessons for Global Power” and “Colossus: The Rise and Fall of the American Empire” by Niall Ferguson, and “Dangerous Nation” by Robert Kagan. Reading these books, I am beginning to realize that moral leadership is more important in British and American hegemony than I thought of before. “A History of Western Philosophy” is a source of basic and in depth understanding of philosophical foundation of both hegemonies.

Professor Niall Ferguson at Harvard University describes British leadership in abolition of slavery. Based on Lockean enlightenmentalism, Prime Minister Lord Palmerston advocated Britain’s special role to lead moral, social, and political civilization. Palmerston sent gunboats to intercept slave trade, and supported liberal movements in Belgium, Greece, Italy, Poland, and the Iberian Peninsula. Robert Kagan, Senior Associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, illustrates how liberal ideals bolstered expansionist foreign policy of the United States. In “A History of Western Philosophy”, you can refer to modern British philosophers to understand ideological foundation of “benevolent imperialism” of the British Empire and the United States of America.

Throughout the history, numerous superpowers have emerged. However, few of them had universal ideals for progress and well being of human beings. The British Empire and the United States of America are completely exceptional from other empires in history. Let me mention a couple of super powers in history, in order to illustrate stark difference between their world order and liberal world order under the British and the American Empires.

First, I would like to talk about the Spanish Empire, which is the first truly global empire in world history. But it was far from precursor of the British Empire and American predominance today. The national foundation of Spain was “reconquista”, which driven by religious passion of Christians in the Iberian Peninsula to restore their homeland from Muslims. It was a kind of Crusade. Kings of Spain were so religiously passionate that they pursued intolerant Catholicism policies. At home, they repressed Muslims, Jewish, and Protestants with notorious Inquisition. As a Hapsburg king Carlos Ⅰ came to the throne, Spain had begun to assume itself the guardian of the Catholic, and became harsher against the Protestant. There is no wonder that Francisco Pizarro and Hernan Cortes terminated native civilizations in the Americas.

Another super power is China. Throughout the history, the Chinese Empire had been enjoying overwhelming economic and military strength over Asian neighbors and nations from the India to Europe. Using Confucianism theory of respect to the master, Chinese Emperors imposed an authoritarian hierarchy at home and abroad. Assuming themselves agents of the heaven to rule the earth, Emperors had been looking down on foreign “barbarian” kings until defeated by the British in the Opium War. Britain succeeded in incorporating the Oriental Dragon into new world order of Lockean, Smithian, and Ricardian ideals. The Chinese world order was far from liberal nor universal.

Unlike Britain and America, both Spain and China had no intellectual basis for global moral leadership. Nor did other great powers in history. “A History of Western Philosophy” narrates the evolution of Western philosophy from early days of Greek civilization. Bertrand Russell describes how philosophy began in Greece. Russell presents historical analysis to understand the background of the evolution in Western philosophy. Regarding modern day liberalism, Russell talks about the role of middle class citizens engaged in commerce and industry. Also, Russell points out that early liberalism was optimistic, energetic, and philosophic, because it represented growing bourgeoisies. This is an important point to understand British and American expansionism, because this confident liberalism has strong influences on their foreign policies as global super powers. Considering sheer volume of this book, it is hard to read the whole text of it. Moreover, it is tremendously energy consuming for a layman to get used to thinking processes and technical terms of philosophy. If you use this book for an encyclopedia of greatest ideas, it will be helpful for you to understand current global affairs further in depth.

I would like to mention furthermore about books in this post on another occasion. As I mention here, I am a complete layman in philosophy, and I shall appreciate comments from those who have good backgrounds. Moral leadership is a key to critical agendas in US foreign policy, particularly, the war on terror and promotion of democracy. When necessary, you can refer to “A History of Western Philosophy” to understand fundamental thoughts of shaping the world for the future.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Apology to Those Who Have Left Comments

I am sorry that Google comments do not show up on this blog, because I have re-installed Halo Scan trackback system since I have switched to Google Beta. Although they don’t show up, Google maintains your comments to this blog.

Again, I am sorry for this sort of inconvenience.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Five Questions on Islamic Radicalism

Understanding Islam is the key to win in the War on Terror. Western endeavor to curb radicalists include not only efficient military operations, but also political process and development assistance. Contrary to popular viewpoint, John Epostino, professor of religion and international affairs at the Wash School of Foreign Service, and Dalia Mogahed, Executive Director of Muslim Studies for the Gallup Organization, point out that Radical Muslims are rich, well educated, hopeful for the future, and admiring Western liberalism.

Let me review their analysis in “What Makes a Muslim Radical?” in web exclusive version of Foreign Policy in November 2006.

Question 1: Importance of Religion in Daily Life

(1) Religion an important of your daily life
Radicals: 92%
Moderates: 91%

(2) Attended religious service in last 7 days
Radicals: 56%
Moderates: 59%

There is no difference in religiosity between radicals and moderates. Authors conclude that religious fervor does not necessarily trigger terrorism.

Question 2: Education and Income

(1) Education level
Primary school or less
Radicals: 23% Moderates: 34%

Secondary school through university
Radicals: 44% Moderates: 38%

(2) Income
Low or very low
Radicals: 22% Moderates: 31%

Above average or very high
Radicals: 25% Moderates: 21%

Radicals are more well educated and affluent than moderates. It is not poor education and poverty that leads them to violent activism.

Question 3: Hope for the Future
Worse off
Radicals: 7% Moderates: 7%

Better off
Radicals: 53% Moderates: 44%

While people attribute suicide bombing to hopelessness, radicals feel more satisfactory with their life than moderates.

Question 4: Admired Aspects of the West
Western technology (top for both groups)
Radicals: 30% Moderates: 31%

Liberty/democracy/freedom of speech (second from the top for both groups)
Radicals: 22% Moderates: 22%

Muslim radicals do not hate Occidental way of life. Both radicals and moderates admire Western liberty and democracy.

Question 5: What the West Must do to Improve Relations with Islam
(1) What can the West do to improve relations?
Respect Islam (top for both groups)
Radicals: 39% Moderates: 36%

(2) What else can the West do to improve relations?
Refrain from interfering and imposing its beliefs and policies
Radicals: 17%

Economic development/jobs
Moderates: 22%

Both radicals and moderates want the West to respect Islam. While radicals feel Western involvement threats to control their life style, moderates explore more ties with the West through economic development.


Radicals are better off in terms of income, education, and future prospect. It is utterly wrong to assume that terrorists act out of desperation. The most important issue is Question 5. Although radicals admire Western liberalism, they feel Western commitment a critical danger for their civilization. On the other hand, moderates want more Western assistance in economic development and job creation.

It is impossible to satisfy completely opposite requirements by radicals and moderates. However, the West can show their respect to Islam through cultural exchange. Assistance in empowerment and community building will lead more moderates to pro-Western. These policies must be accompanied with hard power resolutions.

Friday, February 02, 2007

America’s Policy Direction in 2007

President George W. Bush gave State of the Union address on January 23. The President showed the guidelines to manage key domestic and foreign policy agendas, including budget deficit, social security, education, health care, immigration, energy and climate change, War on Terror, and the Iraq War.

Basically, the fundamental policy direction has not shifted so much from that of the last year. The media talk about closer understandings on climate changes between the current administration and Democrats. In fact, the President mentioned lowering dependence on oil and reducing emission of global warming gas last year. This year, President Bush talked furthermore that the United States explore the use of ethanol, in order to tackle this issue.

The most critical issue is the Iraq War and the War on Terror. While the President addressed to expand US commitment in Iraq. Democrats insist early withdrawal, but show no clear designs after this.

According to one post on Foreign Policy Blog, entitled “Passport live-blogs the State of the Union tonight” by Foreign Policy's editor Mike Byron on January 23, “despite reports to the contrary, we're expecting a speech that will seriously engage foreign policy issues, not least of all Iraq and Iran. Bush and his speech writers know that Iraq—and only Iraq—will define his legacy.”

Also he says that it is important to pay attention to Democrats’ response on two key issues: immigration and climate change.

On energy issue, both parties have reached a consensus that the United States must lower its dependence on oil. David B. Sandalow, Energy and Environment Scholar at the Brookings Institution, explains it as the following: National security hawks raise alarms about the vast sums of money sent each year to the Persian Gulf. Environmentalists warn about global warming. Farmers see new fortunes in the transition to ethanol. Consumers cry out when oil prices rise. (“Ending Oil Dependence, Brookings Institution Report, January 22)

Regarding climate change, the Bush administration explores resolutions other than the Kyoto Protocol. However, Warwick J. McKibbin, Professor of international economics at the Australian National University and Non-resident Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution, and Peter J. Wilcoxen Associate Professor of economics and public administration at Syracuse University and Non-resident Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution, argues as below in “A Credible Foundation for Long Term International Cooperation on Climate Change” in Brookings Discussion Papers in International Economics No. 171, June 2006.

If an international agreement is to succeed in reducing global carbon dioxide emissions, it should build on existing institutions to establish credible long-term incentives for major investments in physical capital and in research and development.

Despite consensus between current administration and Democrats on this issue, some gaps over the Kyoto Protocol still exist. The Bush administration needs to show persuasive alternatives, if it does not accept the protocol.

The most important issue is Iraq and the war on Terror. In his article to Armed Forces Journal on February 2, entitled “Buying Boots: The Challenge of Expanding US Land Forces”, Thomas Donnelly, Resident Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, points out that serious Democrats recognize it necessary to send more troops to Iraq by quoting a comment Senator Hilary Clinton. Furthermore, he mentions weak points of Democrats. “The Democrats, for all their boasting about the results of last fall's elections, understand that both their credentials and capacity to direct wartime policy are weak. They fear, rightly, being portrayed as weak on defense--here, too, they avoid any suggestion that we're engaged in a war--and well know that the powers of Congress pale before those of the commander in chief. With a view toward the 2008 presidential election, the Democratic leadership will want to be cautious and keep a tight rein on those most anxious and energetic to force a withdrawal from Iraq. Having been in the political wilderness since 1994, they care less about policy than power.” On the other hand, Republicans are not in a good position as they are obsessed with the loss in the midterm election, and there is no policy consensus among GOP presidential candidates.

Donnelly argues four questions need to be addressed for further commitment to Iraq: What's the cost and where will the money come from? How large should the increase be? What is the mission for this larger force? What kind of force do we need?

Once the size and kind of forces were decided, then, move on to strategies to defeat insurgents and promote political processes. This is mentioned in the article, “A Turning Point for the Iraq War” in AEI Newsletter in February. Frederick Kagan, Resident Scholar at AEI, insists that the priority must be given to establishing security around Baghdad. In addition, General Jack Keane (US Army, retired) commented that the United States could broker political solution in Iraq only by solidifying security. You can see the video of this event from this link.

The Iraq issue will be the foremost agenda for this year and 2008 election. It is time the real resolution was fixed up. In conclusion, please listen to the link for Kamen Rider Black RX, a Japanese SF super hero.

Take the risk, or the Evil will dominate the earth.
Wake up the hero! Burning light! The eternal battle with the darkness!
Wake up the hero! Shining sun! Endow me with love and courage!

Policymakers must be unyielding to terrorists as this song says.