Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Not Godwin, Exactly

Matthew Yglesias compares the Bush Administration to Emperor Palpatine. But haven't we all?
What Tarkin's talking about here is a leading power -- the Empire -- trying to do away with the former constitutional order ("the last remnants of the Old Republic") in order to create a hegemonic one (Palpatine Unbound, as it were). Tagge is skeptical that this will work -- the political processes may be cumbersome, but they're actually necessary to maintain the system's stability. It would actually be even more cumbersome for the center to be constantly trying to impose its will on everyone without the assistance of the bureacracy. Tarkin's counterproposal is that the development of the Death Star has changed the situation -- use it once on Alderaan to make an example of them, and in the future fear will keep the local systems in line.

And I think it's fairly clear that something of this sort was motivating the Bush administration in 2002-2003. The key decisionmakers took the view that technological developments (the "revolution in military affairs") had radically enhanced America's ability to overthrow foreign governments. Rather than simply keep this power in our back pocket for use when circumstances clearly warranted it (as in Afghanistan) there was a palpable desire to make an example out of Iraq to send a message....

Except, of course, it hasn't worked very well. The alternative order-building strategy of liberalism and institutions was undermined by the war, while the war itself has had perverse effects. Countries more-or-less inclined to be well-disposed toward us regard our actions as erratic and unreliable, making them less disposed to cooperate, but countries more-or-less inclined to be ill-disposed toward us regard our actions as essentially ineffectual and are also less disposed to cooperate.
There's actually a bit more there, and it's one of the smarter Star Wars analogies to International Politics that I've seen in a while. Check it out.

No comments: