Andrew Bacevich, “The Age of Illusions”

Andrew Bacevich discusses his book, “The Age of Illusions”, at Politics and Prose.

With books including The Limits of Power, America’s War for the Greater Middle East, and Twilight of the American Century, Bacevich, professor emeritus of history and international relations at Boston University, has proven one of our most incisive foreign policy analysts. In his new book he charts the remarkable period since the end of the Cold War, showing that while the West’s victory seemed to validate American-style liberal democratic values, the nation’s engagement in several wars and expanded globalization led not to world peace and prosperity but to inequality, divisiveness, and Trump.

https://www.politics-prose.com/book/9781250175083.

Andrew J. Bacevich is professor emeritus of history and international relations at Boston University. A graduate of both the U.S. Military Academy and Princeton University, he served in the U.S. Army for twenty-three years. His recent books include The Limits of Power, America’s War for the Greater Middle East, and Twilight of the American Century. His writings have appeared in the New York Times, the London Review of Books, and the American Conservative, among other publications.

The Great Delusion: Liberal Dreams and International Realities | SOAS University of London

The Great Delusion: Liberal Dreams and International Realities was a talk given by Professor John J Mearsheimer at the Centre for International Studies and Diplomacy, SOAS University of London on 21 January 2019.  Find out more at http://bit.ly/2Dv5nlZ

It is widely believed in the West that the United States should spread liberal democracy across the world, foster an open international economy, and build institutions. This policy of remaking the world in America’s image is supposed to protect human rights, promote peace, and make the world safe for democracy. But this is not what has happened. Instead, the United States has ended up as a highly militarized state fighting wars that undermine peace, harm human rights, and threaten liberal values at home. Mearsheimer tells us why this has happened.

Speaker
John J. Mearsheimer is the R. Wendell Harrison Distinguished Service Professor of Political Science at the University of Chicago, where he has taught since 1982. He graduated from West Point in 1970 and then served five years as an officer in the U.S. Air Force. He then started graduate school in political science at Cornell University in 1975. He received his Ph.D. in 1980. He spent the 1979-1980 academic year as a research fellow at the Brookings Institution, and was a post-doctoral fellow at Harvard University’s Center for International Affairs from 1980 to 1982. During the 1998-1999 academic year, he was the Whitney H. Shepardson Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York.

Professor Mearsheimer has written extensively about security issues and international politics more generally. He has published six books: Conventional Deterrence (1983), which won the Edgar S. Furniss, Jr., Book Award; Liddell Hart and the Weight of History (1988); The Tragedy of Great Power Politics (2001, 2014), which won the Joseph Lepgold Book Prize and has been translated into eight different languages; The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy (with Stephen M. Walt, 2007), which made the New York Times best seller list and has been translated into twenty-two different languages; Why Leaders Lie: The Truth about Lying in International Politics (2011), which has been translated into ten different languages; and The Great Delusion: Liberal Dreams and International Realities (2018).

He has also written many articles that have appeared in academic journals like International Security, and popular magazines like Foreign Affairs and the London Review of Books. Furthermore, he has written a number of op-ed pieces for the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times dealing with topics like Bosnia, nuclear proliferation, American policy towards India, the failure of Arab-Israeli peace efforts, the folly of invading Iraq, and the causes of the Ukrainian crisis.

Finally, Professor Mearsheimer has won a number of teaching awards. He received the Clark Award for Distinguished Teaching when he was a graduate student at Cornell in 1977, and he won the Quantrell Award for Distinguished Teaching at the University of Chicago in 1985. In addition, he was selected as a Phi Beta Kappa Visiting Scholar for the 1993-1994 academic year. In that capacity, he gave a series of talks at eight colleges and universities. In 2003, he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Chair
This event will be chaired by Professor Arshin Adib-Moghaddam. Arshin Adib-Moghaddam is Professor in Global Thought and Comparative Philosophies at SOAS University of London and Fellow of Hughes Hall, University of Cambridge.

33:50
Madeleine Albright’s comments we are the
indispensable nation we have a right we
have the responsibility and now we have
the military power since we’re Godzilla
to turn the world into a different place
to remake it in America’s image think
about the concept of American
exceptionalism no American politician
can you know move one micrometer away
from American exceptionalism right you
know that Barack Obama who got
criticized on this issue was forced to
say that America is the indispensable
nation he used those words
it’s American exceptionalism we’re
different we’re better but that
nationalism juiced the liberalism the
nationalism coupled with the liberalism
coupled with the fact that we were so
powerful coupled with the fact that we
had this template in their head about
how we were going to make the world a
much better place
and we were off to the
races what’s the track record let’s talk
about the Bush Doctrine and the greater
Middle East the Ukraine crisis and
us-russia relations I’ve talked a bit
about that and then the failure of
engagement with China these are the
three most glaring examples of failure
the bush doctor the Bush Doctrine was
designed to turn the Middle East into a
sea of democracies in keeping with
liberal hegemony it’s very important to
understand that the war in Iraq 2003 was
not going to be in the minds of the
liberal hegemonist the last war in the
Middle East it was the first stop on the
train line
the second stop on the train line if you
want to include Afghanistan
we didn’t go
much further in terms of invading other
countries because Iraq turned into a
fiasco but the idea was that we could
use military force or the threat of
military force the threat of military
force to overthrow governments in the
region and install liberal democracies
in their place and therefore produce
peace in the Middle East that solved the
proliferation and terrorism problems I
know this sounds crazy now but this is
the way we were thinking you remember
Afghanistan is finally under American
control by December 2001 and then in
early 2002 the Americans are talking
about maybe invading Iraq the Israelis
catch wind of the fact that we’re going
to do Iraq and the Israelis send a
high-level delegation to Washington to
say why are you doing Iraq you should be
doing Iran
it’s the greater threat the
Americans say don’t worry Iraq is the
low-hanging fruit we’re gonna go in and
do a rack and then when we’re done with
Iraq will either do Syria or Iran next

but we won’t have to do one or two more
of these military invasions before
everybody in the region understands how
powerful we are and throws up their hand
and jumps on the american bandwagon
the
israelis foolishly believe the americans
thinking that we have found the magic
formula for winning wars and they then
begin to champion an invasion of iraq
right what’s the result total disaster
it’s truly amazing the amount of murder
and mayhem that the united states is
responsible for in the Middle East truly
amazing
virtually no successes and nothing but
failures and failures were huge numbers
of people died countries are physically
wrecked
Afghanistan now the longest war in
American history I know not a single
37:47
national security analyst who thinks
37:49
there’s any possibility we can win that
37:51
war and all we’re doing is checking
37:52
can down the road now so that Obama
37:55
doesn’t get blamed for losing
37:58
Afghanistan and now Trump doesn’t get
38:00
blamed for losing Afghanistan to Iraq we
38:03
wrecked that country Syria where the
38:06
United States displayed of a very
38:08
important role in trying to topple Assad
38:11
that’s hardly ever repeat reported in
38:14
the media that’s a total disaster the
38:17
amount of murder and mayhem we’ve
38:19
created in Syria no Libya we did a great
38:21
job there right with the help of the
38:23
Europeans my god right the Bush Doctrine
38:27
in the greater Middle East an abject
38:29
failure then there’s the Ukraine crisis
38:31
and us-russia relations I’ve talked a
38:34
little bit about this you know in the
38:35
West here in Europe and certainly in the
38:38
United States we blame the Russians for
38:40
the crisis well I don’t buy this
38:44
argument for one second from the time we
38:47
started talking about NATO expansion the
38:50
Russians made it very clear that it was
38:52
unacceptable to them they were too weak
38:55
to stop it in 1999 that’s when the first
38:58
tranche took place they were to stop too
39:01
weak to stop in 2004 which is when the
39:04
second tranche of expansion took place
39:06
but after 2008 when we were talking
39:09
about doing Georgia and talking about
39:11
doing Ukraine they said this is not
39:14
gonna happen
39:15
it was April 2008 at the bucura summit
39:19
the bucura Sneyd au summit April 2008
39:21
where when the meeting was over with the
39:24
declaration was issued by NATO that said
39:27
Georgia and Ukraine would become part of
39:30
NATO the Russians went ballistic it’s no
39:33
accident ladies and gentlemen that a
39:35
couple of months later in August 2008
39:38
you had a war over Georgia Georgia
39:40
Russia war August 2008 Bucharest summit
39:42
April 2008 and then on February 22nd
39:46
2014 you had a major crisis break out
39:49
over Ukraine the Russians had no
39:54
intention of letting either Georgia or
39:57
Ukraine become a Western bulwark on
40:00
their doorstep and the end result is
40:04
that neither one of those countries has
40:06
come Western bulwark and the Russians
40:09
are going to great lengths to wreck
40:10
those countries and the Russians are now
40:13
going to great lengths to split NATO
40:15
apart and split the EU apart so that
40:17
they can expand further eastward and
40:20
further where we have terrible relations
40:24

analysis was based on the idea that
57:28
there is a genuine effort in u.s.
57:31
foreign policy to export democracy and
57:36
some would say that you know this was
57:39
more like a Trojan horse to expand US
57:42
dominance or hegemony or however you
57:44
want to call it and that example such as
57:47
Pinochet in Latin
57:48
America or the Shah in Iran or or you
57:51
know us alliances with with autocracies
57:53
all over the world do not really
57:56
unprovided of evidence for a real
57:59
genuine effort to spread democracy in
58:02
the way it was done in in Europe with a
58:04
Marshall Plan that was really a genuine
58:06
effort to democratize absolutely agree

with you the European continent but with
the Iraq invasion in particular there
was no Marshall Plan there was no really
systemic structure competent effort to
create a democracy the only
administrator that was guarded after the
invasion was the oil ministry
and none
of the others so this is just a point
for my for my own understanding about
the trajectory of of you know what
happened to to the liberal United States
and we used to no good
these are two great issues and let me do
my best to answer them I take them in
reverse order first of all with regard
to what happened with the Shah would
happen with Pinochet Guatemala in 1954
and your comments on the Marshall Plan
remember my argument is that liberal
agenda only takes effect with the end of
the Cold War really about 1990
so I
would argue that the this is just
dovetails with what you said the United
States has a rich history of
overthrowing democratically elected
leaders right and furthermore preventing
the emergence of Democrats in other
cases and furthermore aligning itself
with murderous thugs and dictators
and
my argument would be then in a world of
realpolitik where security competition
is it play you’re going to see a lot of
that kind of behavior so I’m not
challenging that part of the story in
any way what I’m saying is that after
59:58
1990 Oh
but so recently up until Trump the
United States I believe was genuinely
committed to spreading democracy around
the world now a number of people
including some of my really good friends
make the argument that you make which is
dead even after 1990 this is a Trojan
horse their argument is John this is you
know the atavistic realist United States
taking advantage of the unipolar moment
to dominate the globe and then
disguising its aggressive behavior with
liberal rhetoric okay now uh I think
that’s wrong okay and I think whether
you’re you and my friends are right or
I’m right is largely an empirical
question it may be the case in thirty
years when they open the public records
there is an abundance of evidence that
supports your perspective which is that
we behaved in a very realist
we tried to become a global hegemon and
we successfully covered it up and we
bamboozled people like John okay that
that may happen I cannot deny that okay
but my argument to you and to my friends

is that I believe that’s wrong and I
61:23
believe that the people who are who have
61:29
been conducting American foreign policy
61:30
are not that clever they’re fools
61:32
they’re fools and they are remarkably
61:36
idealistic and I think there is an
61:39
abundance of evidence to support my
61:41
position right I can’t adduce it all
61:44
here or we can’t have a big debate about
61:45
it but I do think that’s true and the
61:48
reason I go to the case of NATO and I
61:50
say that NATO was not about containment
61:53
cuz I’m anticipating your question
61:56
necessarily from you maybe from somebody
61:59
in the audience
61:59
right and I’m trying to show you that
62:01
NATO expansion was not realpolitik at
62:04
work
62:05
it was liberal hegemony but again I
62:09
think I’m right in the terms of the
62:11
story that I’m telling you
62:12
but again this is an empirical question
62:14
and as you well know we want to be
62:16
humble in this business because we’re
62:18
sometimes proved wrong your question
62:21
about nationalism and liberalism I’m
62:23
gonna make two responses to that first
62:26
of all I do think one can make an
62:28
argument that liberal democracy is in
62:31
trouble in the United States with Donald
62:34
Trump as the president I think most
62:37
people believe that there is some chance
62:40
some reasonable chance he will get
62:42
reelected I think eight years with him
62:45
could do a great deal of damage to
62:47
liberal democracy but I would take it a
62:52
step further and say that Trump is a
62:54
manifestation of you know underlying
62:58
forces that are at play here that don’t
63:03
bode well for liberal democracy so I’m
63:05
not at all making light of what a
63:09
dangerous situation were in and of
63:11
course not only applies to the United
63:14
States as I told you folks in my talk if
63:17
you go look at Freedom House’s data
63:19
since 2006 the number of liberal
63:22
democracies in the world has been going
63:24
down now another fascinating issue you
63:28
raise is the whole question of the sort
63:36
of omnipresent state in the United
63:39
States right that doesn’t look like a
63:42
liberal state it looks like it’s
63:44
interfering in the management of almost
63:48
everyone’s daily life I don’t want to go
63:53
into this in any great detail but
63:54
basically when I talked about rights I
63:59
was talking about negative rights I was
64:02
talking about freedoms and the problem
64:05
is that in the modern world this is all
64:07
to be a good thing we’re not just
64:09
interested in negative rights were
64:10
interested in positive rights and the
64:14
best example of that is just think about
64:16
this the right to an equal opportunity
64:20
it’s not just the right to life liberty
64:22
and the pursuit of happiness we you’re
64:24
talking about freedoms those were
64:26
we’re talking about rights like the
64:28
right to health care the right to equal
64:33
opportunity those are called positive
64:35
rights and they’re very important in
64:38
every society today including the United
64:41
States and the point is once you start
64:44
talking about positive rights as well as
64:47
negative rights the state begins to get
64:50
involved in a really serious way and you
64:53
remember folks when I told you about the
64:55
three solutions that liberals have to
64:59
dealing with potential for violence
65:01
I said inalienable rights tolerance and
65:04
the state and remember that I said that
65:07
it’s very important to have a limited
65:09
state and the point that you’re making
65:11
is that we’re moving away from that
65:13
limited state and I think in modern
65:17
societies it’s very hard not to do that
65:22
I’m agreeing with you because of the end
65:24
is because of the emphasis on positive
65:26
rights and then when you start thinking
65:30
about things like artificial
65:31
intelligence the national security state
65:34
the ability of the state to intervene in
65:36
our daily lives you see that liberal
65:39
democracy is a fragile device that
65:44
really has to be protected so I’m
65:47
agreeing with you in very important ways
65:50
in terms of ever saying that was
65:53
essentially the point that we are all in
65:56
the same boat in many ways trying to
65:58
struggle to keep the rights alive when
66:00
trying to struggle to keep a democracy
66:03
alive here but questions from from the
66:07
audience and if I may I take two at a
66:10
time John is that okay it’s perfectly
66:12
fine I should have said at the beginning
66:13
by the way switch off your mobile phones
66:15
I mean Jeff reminded myself with a so –
66:19
two questions the lady with the colored
66:23
jumper yes I forgot to bring over a big
66:31
piece of paper
66:33
hello thank you very much for your talk
66:35
in your talk you mentioned international
66:37
institutions particularly the WTO and
66:40
the IMF as kind of instruments of
66:43
liberal hegemony I’m wondering what do
66:45
you see the future of those
66:47
international institutions now that
66:49
there’s a failure of in of liberal
66:52
hegemony thank you okay one more
66:54
question the gentleman in the back just
66:57
right at the back yes with the highest
66:59
hand ah yes that’s what the blue blue
67:01
sweatshirt hi thanks you said that
67:08
obviously liberal Germany is faltering
67:12
is it any more or less faltering than
67:17
autocracies such as China Russia Thank
67:21
You Jon first question had to do with
67:32
the future of international institutions
67:34
I believe that in a highly
67:40
interdependent world and we live in a
67:43
highly interdependent world a globalized
67:46
world a hyper globalized world cult
67:49
whatever you want international
67:52
institutions are absolutely essential
67:55
and that doesn’t mean that certain
67:59
international institutions won’t die but
68:02
if they do they’ll be replaced by new
68:04
international institutions there’s just
68:07
no way you can do business without
68:11
international institutions international
68:13
institutions is I learned a long time
68:15
ago when I wrote an article on this
68:17
subject are basically rules and you need
68:20
rules for all sorts of reasons when
68:23
you’re doing business and that business
68:25
can be economic it can be military I
68:28
mean if you have military alliance NATO
68:31
as an institution the Warsaw Pact as an
68:33
institution if you’re gonna fight the
68:35
Cold War all over again you’re going to
68:36
do it with a mill
68:37
Alliance which is an institution you
68:39
need the WTO although I think you need a
68:42
different variant of it you need the IMF
68:45
the World Bank the Chinese have created
68:48
the aii big institutions are here to
68:50
stay
68:51
Donald Trump can get rid of NAFTA but he
68:54
in effect just produced another
68:56
institution that looks like NAFTA so
68:59
institutions aren’t going away no
69:01
question in my mind on that the
69:05
gentleman up here asked me about whether
69:07
you know the Chinese political system
69:10
and the Russian political system were
69:12
also failing and maybe failing more so
69:15
than liberal democracy I don’t know what
69:19
the answer is to that at this point in
69:21
time I think that both the Chinese and
69:26
the Russians are doing reasonably well
69:28
at this point in time what the long-term
69:31
future of those political systems is
69:35
it’s hard to say so I’m just not too
69:41
sure I think in in both the Chinese in
69:45
the Russian case a lot depends on the
69:47
economy and I think a lot depends on how
69:53
much progress they make on the economic
69:57
front over the future but I think at
70:00
this point in time to some extent
70:02
everybody’s in trouble okay two more
70:05
questions
70:06
the lady in the back all the way
70:16
my question is about based on the
70:20
relationship between China and United
70:22
States do you think we are entering oh
70:26
we are already living you know in new
70:29
Cold War era and secondly do you think
70:34
that sports country US and China will
70:37
end up in Susa dated Trump’s will end up
70:41
way so City Detra okay second question
70:52
yes the gentleman right here would you
70:57
wait for the microphone it’s right that
71:02
it’s in the front yeah thank you
71:04
it’s okay sorry to make you run hi John
71:09
thank you for your talk much of the US
71:12
political discourse lately around Trump
71:15
seems to be focused apart from the
71:17
collusion with Russia seems to be on the
71:20
lack of coherence of foreign policy and
71:23
I think looking at some of trumps
71:26
rhetoric in recent years it seems to
71:29
align a lot with the core tenets of your
71:31
book tragedy of great power politics and
71:33
in particular we see Trump adopting an
71:35
offensive realist position towards China
71:37
we see him somewhat buck-passing Syria
71:40
to Russia and we see a kind of offshore
71:42
balancing with regards to NATO in Europe
71:45
so my question is to what extent do you
71:48
think that Trump is a meerschaum
71:50
heurists
71:50
so to speak truth
71:51
[Music]
71:54
okay John okay I’ll take the first
72:01
question on China and the United States
72:04
and the young woman in the back asked me
72:07
if I thought there was a new Cold War in
72:10
store between those two countries I
72:13
think the answer is yes my basic view of
72:18
international politics is that the great
72:20
powers in an ideal world want to
72:23
dominate their region of the world and
72:26
they want to do like the United States
72:29
did in the Western Hemisphere they want
72:30
to be the only great power and they
72:34
don’t want any other distant great
72:36
powers coming into their backyard and if
72:40
you look at China today China’s growing
72:44
economically and militarily and I think
72:49
that the Chinese are very interested as
72:51
they should be in dominating Asia and
72:55
that means not only being the most
72:58
powerful country in the region but also
73:01
making sure the Americans are pushed out
73:04
the Americans well the Chinese talk
73:11
constantly these days about the century
73:14
of national humiliation which ran from
73:17
the late 1840s until the late 1940s the
73:21
Chinese were weak over that hundred year
73:24
period and they were exploited by the
73:28
Japanese the Americans and the European
73:30
great powers they have never forgotten
73:32
that
73:32
and their goal is to make sure they are
73:35
really powerful in the future if you
73:38
were to go up to a Jap to a Chinese
73:40
policymaker or remember the Chinese
73:43
foreign policy League and say to that
73:45
person you have two choices you can be
73:48
twenty times more powerful than Japan or
73:51
Japan can be 20 more times powerful than
73:54
you do you think it makes any difference
73:56
they would laugh in your face they would
73:59
tell you we know what happened the last
74:00
time Japan was 20
74:02
more times powerful than us we intend to
74:04
be 20 times more powerful than Japan in
74:07
the future and then when you ask the
74:09
Chinese behind closed doors what they
74:11
think about the Americans running ships
74:13
and aircraft up their coast and having
74:16
ground forces off their coasts and
74:18
places like Korea and Japan they will
74:21
tell you in no uncertain terms if they
74:24
get powerful enough they will try to
74:25
push us out beyond us meaning the
74:27
Americans beyond the first island chain
74:29
and then beyond the second island chain
74:32
and if you look at how they think about
74:33
the waters around them they’ve made it
74:35
very clear that they think the South
74:37
China Sea belongs to them and we’ve made
74:40
it clear to them we don’t agree with
74:42
that they’ve made it clear they think
74:44
the East China Sea belongs to them and
74:47
there’s a real possibility they’ll get
74:49
into a fight with the Japanese over
74:51
those small islands in the East China
74:53
Sea
74:53
then there’s Taiwan which is a potential
74:56
flashpoint of great significance China
74:59
is not a status quo power so the Chinese
75:03
as they get more and more powerful are
75:06
going to try and become more and more
75:09
influential in East Asia and they’re
75:12
going to try and push the Americans out
75:13
and you know what the Americans are
75:15
going to do the Americans are going to
75:16
pivot to Asia and they’re going to try
75:18
and contain the Chinese and they’re
75:20
going to push back so I would argue that
75:24
there is likely to be trouble ahead and
75:29
put it in your terms you are likely to
75:31
get a new Cold War in Asia second
75:38
question had to do with Trump and he
75:43
accused me of being in bed with Donald
75:46
Trump intellectually this is a
75:49
frightening thought
75:54
yes right that’s right then we know
75:58
there is no connection look to be
76:03
serious I think that I think that Donald
76:06
Trump has no coherent foreign policy I
76:10
think he flies by the seat of his pants
76:12
and he has certain intuitions and I do
76:18
think apropos your question that some of
76:21
those intuitions are consistent with a
76:23
realist perspective in other words when
76:26
Trump says that he is not interested in
76:30
using military force to spread democracy
76:33
around the planet that’s an argument
76:35
that resonates with realists there’s
76:38
just no question about it now another
76:41
example that you used was containment of
76:44
China right that of course resonates
76:47
with realist logic but also you want to
76:50
remember that the person who articulated
76:52
the pivot to Asia was Hillary Clinton
76:54
and the Obama administration the Clinton
76:56
administration was also interested in
76:58
the pivot to Asia so this is not
77:00
something new to trump but it gets
77:03
consistent both with the Democrats and
77:05
with Trump with basic realist logic my
77:08
problem with Trump is that he’s done a
77:10
half-baked job of pivoting and dealing
77:14
with our Asian allies Trump’s big
77:16
problem and this is where you know he
77:18
parts for realism his realist believed
77:21
that alliances matter allies matter and
77:24
if you’re gonna deal with an adversary
77:28
like China right you need help from
77:31
countries in East Asia and you don’t
77:34
want to be slapping him around which is
77:36
what he does I also think the TPP the
77:39
trans-pacific partnership which was an
77:41
economic institution that was designed
77:44
to contain China right it was designed
77:48
for economic purposes but also for
77:49
security purposes he vetoed that or he
77:53
killed that when he came
77:54
to office that was a big mistake so I
77:58
think a lot of what he has done is
78:00
inconsistent with a realist approach but
78:03
there is no question that he does have
78:04
realist tendencies although again it’s
78:07
not part of any sort of grand theory of
78:11
how the world works okay last round of
78:14
questions
78:16
the gentleman white sweatshirt thank you
78:24
so much for your talk it’s very
78:26
enlightening I just have a question with
78:30
regards to the Iraq invasion
78:33
so you said and I quote there are
78:36
virtually no successes in Iraq and I
78:39
personally think that there were some
78:40
successes for the United States let’s
78:44
put aside all of the inexplicable damage
78:46
that has been wrought on to the Iraqi
78:49
population I think that there were
78:53
benefits for it for its economic
78:56
interests in the long term we can see
78:59
today that although what was done in
79:01
Iraq was a failure in many ways many oil
79:05
contracts if not all were given to
79:08
American country companies like
79:10
ExxonMobil war was created which
79:14
increases the demand for for weapons
79:17
which in turn can increase manufacturing
79:20
and selling of weapons by American
79:23
companies although all these contributes
79:27
to the economic superiority of the
79:29
United States and its prominent
79:31
companies so we need a question I will
79:34
come to the question because we’re
79:35
running out of time all right I
79:37
apologize for that so we can’t imagine
79:40
the United States today without its
79:42
superior economy right so I ask can the
79:49
Iraqi invasion be seen as a commercial
79:51
success for the United States
79:53
thank you very much the second question
80:05
hi thank you very much for your talk
80:08
my question is regarding the European
80:10
Union as America focuses on itself more
80:13
and liberalism takes a backseat do you
80:16
think there is a future for the European
80:18
Union and what do you think the future
80:19
holds for Western Europe thank you I
80:29
should go okay thank you
80:31
with regard to your question about Iraq
80:33
I thought you were gonna argue that it
80:36
had some benefits for Iraq but obviously
80:39
you’re arguing that it had benefits to
80:41
the United States economic benefits for
80:43
the United States I don’t believe that
80:46
I think it’s estimated that the two wars
80:53
won in Afghanistan and two in Iraq and
80:56
the Iraqi war is the more expensive the
80:58
two of the two is gonna cost us
81:00
somewhere between four to six trillion
81:03
dollars over time again when you think
81:08
of all that money and and and and the
81:11
consequences for the Iraqi people it’s
81:14
just stunning right but for the six
81:16
trillion dollars I don’t think the oil
81:19
companies ended up making much of profit
81:24
as a result of the invasion and I think
81:28
in terms of arms sales yes we sold some
81:31
more arms but not enough to really
81:34
matter not enough to really affect the
81:36
economy so I don’t think I don’t think
81:42
that you’re right that the the United
81:44
States benefited economically from this
81:47
war but again even if it did it wouldn’t
81:49
justify you know what happened in Iraq
81:53
and by the way remember that one of the
81:55
principal consequences of the invasion
81:58
of Iraq was the creation of Isis just
82:01
don’t want to lose sight of that
82:04
second question a very interesting
82:06
question on the EU and the future of the
82:08
European Union and you prefaced it by
82:11
saying America’s losing interest in
82:15
Europe to some extent and as American
82:18
interest in Europe wanes what does that
82:21
mean for the EU I make two points first
82:26
of all I believe that one of the reasons
82:29
probably the main reason that European
82:32
integration has been so successful and
82:35
there has been peace in Europe is
82:37
because of the presence of the American
82:40
military in Europe its NATO it’s the
82:45
American pacifier as I often say to
82:48
audiences you know I’ve spent a lot of
82:50
time going around Europe since 1990 when
82:52
the Cold War ended I have never met a
82:56
single policymaker a single pundit a
82:59
single academic a single representative
83:03
of the foreign policy establishment in
83:05
any country in Europe who wants to see
83:07
the Americans leave Europe this is quite
83:09
remarkable and now I was recently
83:12
Romania as recently in Denmark the
83:15
Romanians and the den Danes do not want
83:18
us to leave Europe and it’s because they
83:20
understand that this I’m throw but the
83:23
American military presence that NATO
83:25
underpins the EU and peace and security
83:29
in Europe okay that’s my view so in
83:33
terms of the future of the EU what
83:37
really matters in terms of the United
83:39
States is that we stay in NATO keep NATO
83:43
intact and keep American forces here the
83:47
second point I would make to you the
83:49
problems in the EU today despite all
83:52
Donald Trump’s rhetoric have nothing to
83:55
do with the United States they’re mainly
83:59
Eurocentric problems problems associated
84:02
with the euro problems associated with
84:05
brexit if you look at what’s going on in
84:07
Italy and a lot of these problems by the
84:10
way have to do
84:10
with nationalism right I’m not going to
84:12
get into that in any detail here but
84:14
there are real problems in the EU today
84:17
but those problems are not the result of
84:21
the United States right so the Europeans
84:24
have to figure out how to fix those
84:25
problems but more importantly for the
84:28
Europeans they got to keep the Americans
84:30
here in my opinion I think the America
84:33
the European elites understand correctly
84:35
that an American military presence is a
84:38
pacifying factor here in Europe the main
84:43
pacifying factor thank you very much
84:46
John unfortunately we have to leave it
84:48
at that there will be a drinks reception
84:51
outside in the foyer but join me once
84:54
again to in thanking professor much I’m
84:58
afraid
84:58
excellent
85:00
[Applause]
85:05
you
85:06
[Applause]

Charles Murray on Coming Apart

This week on Uncommon Knowledge, longtime American Enterprise Institute fellow Charles Murray discusses his controversial new book, Coming Apart, about what American was, is, and will become. He also reveals his personal score on his now famous “bubble quiz.” Take the quiz here http://www.scribd.com/doc/77349055/Co…

24:48
let’s talk about the functioning of a
free society because that’s what I go
back to the founders were unanimous in
saying this Constitution will not work
with just any kind of population the
population must possess certain virtues
and this virtue virtue chef this is not
just one or two founders who said this
they all did and they also focused on
four that were crucial all of them agree
there were others that they had in the
list but these four were central the

  1. integrity of marriage
  2. industriousness
  3. religiosity and up
  4. plain american
    honesty

and they said you know without
those you cannot have a self-governing
population the trends that i described
in Fishtown
are in effect saying that the virtues
required to be a self-governing
community are slipping toward a tipping
point beyond return and at that point we
will have a permanent lower class that
is different in kind from a lower class
that the united states has had before
in
that it is both sizeable and it is no
longer participating in american
institutions so you will have you will
have an upper class that will still be
living a fine life and the middle class
will be doing fairly well but something
very fundamental to the common the
universality of being an American let
the embrace that it that it intended to
have of all people that’ll be gone and
that is going to be a huge loss it’s
also going to
induce the creation of an extensive
welfare state far beyond the one we have
now from coming apart a few statistics
Charles I’ll just run through a few of
those you present voted in the
presidential election down 22 percent
from 1960 to 1996 attended a public
meeting on town or school affairs down
35 percent from 1973 to 1994 served as
26:47
an officer of some club or organization
26:50
you talk about the Elks and rotary and
26:53
so forth local organization 42 percent
26:56
from 73 to 94 percentage of parents with
26:59
children under age 18 who were members
27:01
of the PTA down 61% from 1960 to 1997
27:08
and these statistics tell us what well
27:12
these come by the way from Bowling Alone
27:15
the excellent book written by Robert
27:18
Putnam about a decade ago they are
27:21
represent across the American population
27:23
those reductions the native question
27:26
that arises well were these evenly split
27:28
across right they were not so that these
27:32
reductions are concentrated in Fishtown
27:34
in the working-class community and it’s
27:36
and what difference does that make
27:38
well the social capital because that’s
27:42
the social scientists phrase for it is
27:45
another word for what has been the glue
27:48
of American community which has been the
27:51
spirit and the vitality of American
27:52
community and that goes away and it’s
27:56
all linked up with the other trends that
27:58
we’ve discussed in previous segments
28:00
religiosity who accounts for these
28:03
wonderful kinds of social capital Robert
28:06
Putnam says about half of all social
28:08
capital comes directly from the
28:10
religious population and even more comes
28:12
from it because religious people are
28:14
more likely to be engaged in secular
28:16
forms of social capital than
28:18
non-religious people so you’re looking
28:20
at a real mess focused on Fishtown not
28:24
in belmont coming apart quote the big
28:27
question is whether the remaining levels
28:29
of social trust in Fishtown are enough
28:31
to sustain anything approaching the
28:34
traditional expectations of a
28:36
American neighborliness and local
28:37
problem solving it is hard for me

Trump’s trip to Europe was a complete disaster, and not because he acted like a boorish bully

On his recent visit to Europe, he managed to convey once again his contempt for America’s European allies, and to demonstrate that he places more value on his own personal comfort than on the sacrifices that US soldiers have made in the past.

The trip itself cost millions of taxpayer dollars, yet Trump chose to skip a key ceremony honoring US war dead at Aisne-Marne American Cemetery because it was raining.

The White House offered up a cloud of unconvincing excuses for Trump’s absence, but other world leaders were not deterred by the fear of a few raindrops, and neither were past presidents ObamaClinton, Bush, or Kennedy back in their day.

By choosing to stay warm and dry in his hotel room while other world leaders acknowledged the heroism of those who fought and died for freedom, Trump gave the concept of “American exceptionalism” a whole new meaning.

Overall, Trump seemed intent on proving that while the obligations of being president might force him to go on such trips, he doesn’t have to behave himself while he’s there.

For example, Trump is correct to accuse China of engaging in a variety of predatory trade practices and of failing to live up to its World Trade Organization commitments. He is also right when he complains that Europe has neglected its own defenses and relies too much on American protection (though he still seems to think NATO is a club with membership dues)..

He is hardly the first US official to criticize European defense preparations but being unoriginal doesn’t make it wrong.

Trump is also correct in his belief that Europe, Russia, and the United States would be better off if the divisions that presently divide them could be bridged or at least alleviated.

It would be better for Europe if Russia withdrew from Ukraine, stopped trying to intimidate the Baltic states, and stopped murdering former spies in foreign countries.

It would be good for Russia if Western sanctions were lifted and it no longer had to worry about open-ended NATO expansion. And it would be good for the United States if Russia could be pulled away from its increasingly close partnership with China.

For that matter, Trump wasn’t wrong to see North Korea’s nuclear and long-range missile programs as a serious problem that called for creative diplomacy.

The real problem is that Trump has no idea what to do about any of these issues, and he seems incapable of formulating a coherent approach to any of them. To the extent that he does have an actual policy toward Europe, for example, it is the exact opposite of what the United States ought to be doing.

Trump’s broad approach to Europe is one of “divide and rule.” He’s called the European Union a “foe” of the United States, and he has backed a number of the political forces that are now roiling the Continent and threatening the EU’s long-term future.

He endorsed Brexit, expressed his support for Marine Le Pen in France, and thinks well of illiberal leaders like Viktor Orban of Hungary and Andrzej Duda of Poland. Why? Because he thinks dividing Europe into contending national states will allow the larger and more powerful United States to bargain with each European state separately rather than face all of them together, and thus secure better deals for itself.

This approach might be termed “Neanderthal realism.” Playing “divide and rule” is a good idea when dealing with real enemies, but it makes no sense to sow division among countries with whom one has generally friendly relations and close economic ties, and when their collective support might be needed in other contexts.

This approach also runs counter to Trump’s stated desire to reduce US security commitments to Europe and to get Europe to take on greater responsibility for its own defense.

If you really want the United States to get out of the business of protecting Europe, you should also want Europe to be tranquil, capable, prosperous, and united after the United States withdraws. Why? So that Washington doesn’t have to worry about developments there and can focus its attention on other regions, such as Asia.

A Europe roiled by xenophobia, resurgent hyper-nationalism, and persistent internal wrangling wouldn’t be to America’s advantage; it would be just another problem area we’d have to keep an eye on.

Nor would a divided Europe be of much use in addressing any of the other problems on America’s foreign-policy agenda.

Why doesn’t Trump see this? Possibly because he is reflexively relying on the same tactics that brought him to the White House.

It has worked tolerably well here in the United States, because a lot of Americans are still angry or fearful and Trump is both shameless and adept at fueling those emotions. This same instinct leads him to behave abominably abroad: Insulting British Prime Minister Theresa May and London Mayor Sadiq Khan, deriding Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada as “Very dishonest & weak” or derisively tossing Starburst candies to German Chancellor Angela Merkel during a meeting of G-7 leaders.

.. The problem, of course, is that the boorish behavior and conflict-stoking policies tend to backfire on the world stage.

.. Trump’s bullying bluster didn’t win big trade concessions from Canada, Mexico, or South Korea; the shiny “new” trade deals Trump negotiated with them were nearly identical to the old arrangements and in some ways inferior to them.

And given how Trump has treated America’s allies, why would May, Merkel, Macron, Abe, or Trudeau do him (or the United States) any favors? The declining US image abroad compounds this problem, as foreign leaders know their own popularity will suffer if they help Trump in any way.

.. Trump’s personal conduct is not even the biggest problem. Arguably, an even bigger issue is the strategic incoherence of his entire transactional approach. His overarching objective is to try to screw the best possible deal out of every interaction, but this approach instead makes it more difficult for the United States to achieve its most important foreign-policy goals.

.. Threatening trade wars with allies in Europe or Canada makes little sense from a purely economic perspective, for example, and it has made it harder for the United States to address the more serious challenge of China’s trade policies.

If Trump were as worried about China’s trade infractions as he claims to be, he would have lined up Europe, Japan, and other major economic actors and confronted China with a united front. Similarly, pulling out of the Iran nuclear deal and threatening allies with secondary sanctions not only raises doubts about America’s judgment (because the deal was working, and the Europeans know it); it just fuels further resentment at America’s shortsighted bullying.

.. It is increasingly clear that Trump was never the brilliant businessman he claimed to be; he got most of his wealth from his father using various shady tax dodges, and the Trump Organization may have been heavily dependent on illegal activities like money laundering.

.. We should focus less on his personal antics and inadequacies and focus more on his inability to formulate effective policies, even on issues where his instincts are in fact mostly correct.

.. Sadly, the 45th US president possesses a world-class ability to get things wrong, even when he’s right.

Opening to the Question of Belonging: John A. Powell

because we are so powerfully rooted to the notion of individuality, in some ways race affronts that. But the real affront is the whole notion of individuality. Individuality, as we think of it, is actually extremely problematic.

MS. TIPPETT: Well, see — yeah, and you make this really fascinating point that — you say that there are two parents to the way we are now; the way we grapple with race, among other things. And one is slavery. Get that. And the other is the Enlightenment and that, in fact, it’s from the Enlightenment that we inherited this idea that the conscious mind could know everything; that we could be reasonable.

MR. POWELL: That’s the American exceptionalism. So the United States became extremely, extremely attached to the notion of individuality and independence. Now think about the groups who were not independent. They were the Africans. They were the Indians. They were women. They were anyone who was not a white male. So the notion, the Enlightenment project, which had this hubris that we could control everything, including the world, when we can’t even really control ourselves.

MS. TIPPETT: And yet, this condition of each of us in isolation, which you associate with whiteness, which is this culture of domination, is not sustainable, and it’s not desirable.

.. MS. TIPPETT: And we’re running into the limits of our ability to convince ourselves that it is desirable.

MR. POWELL: No, there are so many expressions that help us see it. And sometimes people talk about “We need to do things to connect.” And on one hand, that’s right, but on the other hand, it understates what it is. We are connected. What we need to do is become aware of it, to live it, to express it.

So think about segregation. Segregation is a formal way of saying, “How do I deny my connection with you?” in the physical space. Think about the notion of whiteness. So whiteness in the United States, as it came, as it took form, believed that one drop of “black blood” — whatever that is — would destroy “whiteness.” Turns out, whatever that means, most white Americans actually do have black blood. The reason that most African Americans look like me or like Gary is because white blood and black blood’s been mixing up for a long time. And so I think that as we deny the other, we deny ourselves, because there is no other. We are connected.

.. that that movement was as much for the sake of his soul as it was for the sake of people of color.

And it’s worth saying that. To me, that’s one way of talking about your point that we have to talk about whiteness.

.. I was teaching a class at the University of Minnesota, and I was talking about the taking of Native American land. And most of my students were white students, and one student objected; it’s like, “This is a such-and-such class. Why are we studying the history of Native Americans?” And I said, “We’re not. We’re studying the history of America. So, when we talk about the appropriation of Native American land, or when we talk about slavery, we’re not talking about the history of black people, we’re talking about the history of this country.”

.. I don’t care if you came here last week or ten days ago, you can’t understand this country without understanding the institution of slavery. It was pivotal.

.. MR. POWELL: The human condition is one about belonging. We simply cannot thrive unless we are in relationship. I just gave a lecture on health, and if you’re isolated, the negative health condition is worse than smoking, obesity, high blood pressure — just being isolated.

.. How do we make it infectious; how do we — people are longing for this. People are looking for community. Right now, though, we don’t have confidence in love. You mentioned love earlier. We have much more confidence in anger and hate. We believe anger is powerful. We believe hate is powerful. And we believe love is wimpy. And so, if we’re engaged in the world, we believe it’s much better to organize around anger and hate.

And yet, we see two of the most powerful expressions — certainly Gandhi, certainly the Rev. Dr. King

.. And there was a period of time when I was feeling really overwhelmed with a lot of this stuff. And I was talking to my dad, and I said, “Dad, this is just too much. I can’t do it all. I’m trying to do all of this stuff by myself.” And he looked at me; he said, “Well, john, you know you’re not alone.” And I said, “Well, what do you mean, Dad?” He said, “Well, you got God with you.” And I realized, although I don’t organize around God in the way that he does, my mistake was, I thought I had to do it; that “I” was defining it, instead of “we.” So…

MS. TIPPETT: …you were in that white mode.

MR. POWELL: Exactly, exactly.

[laughter]

So I think we should both get out of that white mode and do it together. [laughs]

.. today, the majority of whites today say they’d prefer to live in an integrated neighborhood and send their kids to integrated schools. What they mean by that is a different question, but also the world and demographics of the country are changing. And to live in a white enclave is not to live in the world. And I think it has” — I think you were — this is an interview — “it has a certain deadness to it. It has a certain spiritual corruption to it.”

And you said, “I think most people, white, black, Latino, and otherwise, would like to see something different. We just don’t know how to do it. And we’ve been so entrenched in the way things are. It’s hard to imagine the world being different.” You speak for me, you speak for so many people. This is what we’re up against. I feel like this is what we have to attack first — this inability to see differently.

You told one story about Oak Park, near Chicago. It was just really helpful to me. You said, when we tell stories about, “You integrate neighborhoods, and housing values go down,” and the way we always tell the story is, “Blacks moved in, African-American — people of color moved in.” And the way we could tell the story is, “Whites moved out.” But you talked about how — just this very practical measure that was taken so that the housing values didn’t change. Would you just tell that story? I feel like these little stories are really crucial, as well.

MR. POWELL: And there are really a lot of them. They’re little, and they’re big. So Oak Park is in Chicago. Chicago’s one of the most segregated areas in the country. Cook County has the largest black population of any county in the United States, and a lot of studying of segregation takes place in Chicago. So here you have Oak Park, this precious little community. And there were liberal whites there. And blacks started moving in. And they were saying, “Look, we actually don’t mind blacks moving in, but we’re concerned that we’re going to lose the value of our home. That’s the only wealth we have. And if we don’t sell now, we’re going to lose.”

And it basically said: If that’s the real concern — not that blacks are moving in, that you’re going to lose the value of your home — what if we were to ensure that you would not lose the value of your home? We’ll literally create an insurance policy that we will compensate you if the value of your home goes down.

And they put that in place.

.. Think about Katrina. So these examples are all around us, and yet, we don’t tell stories about them. Katrina — the face of Katrina, when you remember it, it was blacks stuck on roofs as the water was rising. What’s not told is that Americans, all Americans, gave to those people. It was the largest civilian giving of one population to another in the history of the United States. So here you had white Americans, Latino Americans, Asian Americans, trying to reach out to what they saw as black Americans. They were actually saying — they were claiming: We have a shared humanity. And they actually did a poll asking people if they were willing to raise taxes to rebuild: 70 percent of Americans said, “Yes, we would tax ourselves to help those people.” The pundits and the politicians ignored it, and so that story simply didn’t get told.

.. I put something I call “targeted universalism,” and where we want to get to is not simply what whites have. We actually need to state what is our goal. And then our way of getting there will vary, based on how we’re situated. And different groups are situated differently. So if we just say, “Let’s have our proportionate share of what whites have,” that’s an improvement over where we are now, but it’s not far enough.

we’re talking about what I call a “circle of human concern” — a circle of concern for all life, human life and, I would say, non-human life as well. And in that effort, it’s important to make sure that people of color are really valued and situated and have resources and political and other power that other groups have. But it’s also important to actually continue to be in relationship to whites. I think, ultimately, a healthy world really requires not just a restructuring of what people of color have, but a restructuring of white identity.

.. in the 1960s, Bundy wrote about the “negro problem” at the Ford Foundation, but today, I would write about the white problem. We really need to come to terms with the white problem — not in a negative way, not in terms of white guilt, not in terms of beating up on whites, but really trying to help whites, because we are deeply related, give birth to a different identity.

.. one of the best school systems in the United States was the Wake County school system. That’s the Research Triangle, which has more Ph.D.’s than any other area of the country. It was actually quite interesting, because they took it to the voters, and they said, “Do you want to have this school system which is educationally and economically integrated?” And the voters said, “No.” So then they took it to the politicians, and they said, “This makes sense, which — the voters said no, but would you vote for it as a politician?” And the politicians said, “No.” And then the business community said, “Unless you do something about the school system in Wake County, we’re leaving.” It was actually the business community that pushed it through.

.. “So Dad, why do you think” — because he’s very Christian, I said, “What do you think God is keeping you here for?” And he said, “I guess my last lesson to teach the kids is, how to care for me.” So instead of seeing it as a burden, because he needs care, it’s like, “That’s my last gift to you, is to teach you how to care.” And it really is wonderful.

I went to Stanford. I was one of the co-founders of the Black Student Union at Stanford. And we had a meeting, and in that meeting, we decided that there were definitely some good white people, but not that many.

[laughter]

And it took a lot of energy to find them. The transaction cost of finding good white people was way too high. So we decided, “OK, let’s just stop trying to find these — let’s not relate to white people.” Actually, I didn’t support that position, but that’s where the group went. And I left the meeting. It was about noon, and I was walking across Stanford. And I don’t know if you’ve actually been to Stanford, but the center part of Stanford is very busy, especially at noon, and there’s always people teeming about. And I’m walking back across campus in this area, and there’s nobody there. It’s empty. And all the time I was at Stanford, I’ve never seen that part of the campus like that. And then, there’s this one woman walking toward me.

Again, the physical space where students hang out is actually quite small, so you see students all the time. I’d never seen this woman before, and I never saw her again. And as she’s walking toward me, I notice she’s blind. And she has a cane. And she walks into a maze of bicycles. And I said, “Oh, that’s too bad.” And as she turns, knocks down bicycles, she starts panicking. And I’m thinking, “That’s really sad, but we just made this agreement. It’s not my problem.” I keep walking. She turns again, and she knocks down more bicycles. And finally, I can’t walk past her. And I go over, and I take her out of the maze of bicycles, and then she goes on her way. And I go back to the meeting, and I say, “I can’t do it. I can’t adhere to that agreement.”

And to me, that was one of the defining moments. And I sort of — I’m not a theist, but I wonder, how did the universe send that woman to me, that she helped me to engage and claim my humanity, that took me on a different path? And I think being human is about being in the right kind of relationships. I think being human is a process. It’s not something that we just are born with. We actually learn to celebrate our connection, learn to celebrate our love. And the thing about it — if you suffer, it does not imply love. But if you love, it does imply suffering.

So part of the thing that I think what being human means — to love and to suffer; to suffer with, though, compassion, not to suffer against. So, to have a space big enough to suffer with, and if we can hold that space big enough, we also will have joy and fun, even as we suffer. And suffering will no longer divide us. And to me, that’s sort of the human journey.