April 24, 2008

Fukuyama ’74 Talks On Policy Post Bush

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Francis Fukuyama ’74, the Bernard L. Schwartz Professor of International Political Economy at Johns Hopkins University’s Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, addressed the follies of Bush and his advisors and the challenges that a new administration will face yesterday evening in a lecture entitled “American Foreign Policy after the Bush Administration.”
Fukuyama’s long and distinguished career as a political scientist and philosopher has included stints at the State Department, membership on the Board of Trustees of the Rand Corporation and advisory positions within the President’s Council on Bioethics, the National Endowment for Democracy and the Foundation for International Community Assistance. [img_assist|nid=30195|title=Moving on|desc=Francis Fukuyama ’74 speaks in front of a packed audience in Bio-Tech yesterday|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]
Fukuyama began by identifying the failures of the Bush Administration’s foreign policy strategy. He said that this strategy was based on four points.
“I would summarize this doctrine as containing four elements: a dire assessment of the threat of terrorism after 9/11, a doctrine of preemption in dealing with terrorism, the use of unilateralism in international relations and the promotion of democracy worldwide,” he explained.
VIDEO: Click here to see video of Prof. Fukuyama speaking before the lecture!
Fukuyama said that this strategy has been unsuccessful because of the current “weak state world,” in which many governments in areas like the Middle East are divided and impotent rather than modern and centralized. When dealing with such countries, Fukuyama asserted, traditional “hard power” measures such as military force are ineffective, since the governments of these countries have very little control over what goes on within their borders.
Fukuyama said that future administrations will have to wage a war of “hearts and minds” in order to divest Middle Easterners of their current negative image of the United States.
“The Bush administration has established a strong connection between American strategic interests in areas like Iraq and the promotion of democracy and I think that this has been disastrous,” he said. “It has made us look hypocritical and discouraged democratic groups in Middle Eastern nations from accepting aid from Americans for fear of looking tainted.”
Fukuyama stated that the vast majority of Middle Easterners do not hate Americans for who they are, but rather resent what they see as American intrusion and destabilization in areas like Iraq and Afghanistan.
He went on to propose a number of policy changes that would benefit a future administration, suggesting that the War on Terror be reframed as a global counterinsurgency effort or policing operation rather than a traditional war.
He stressed the importance of international networks like the United Nations, saying, “You need to deal with the terrorism and nuclear proliferation threats in a more multilateral way.”
Fukuyama also said that the U.S. needs to convince the poor and middle-class citizens of countries throughout the world that globalization and increased trade will benefit them and not just their countries’ elites.
He also noted that the American government needs to work on its implementation skills, citing the Hurricane Katrina aftermath and the War in Iraq as key examples of mismanagement.
“Even when we’re agreed on policy, somehow our agencies aren’t able to deliver the goods,” he said.
Fukuyama touched briefly on the situation in Southeast Asia, saying that he felt that the major powers of this region, especially China, would present key foreign policy opportunities in the future, and that the U.S. government should be prepared to deal with them even if they don’t democratize.
He emphasized that there would be no easy solutions to current policy problems and that different strategies would have to be implemented in different regions.
“Unfortunately, everyone wants to come up with a big overarching solution to solve today’s problems,” he said, “and I think that that’s a problem in itself.” Fukuyama came to Cornell as part of the Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies’ Foreign Policy Distinguished Speaker Series.
Prof. Nicolas van de Walle, director of the Mario Einaudi Center, said, “The objective of the foreign policy initiative is to bring to campus a discussion of contemporary politics and international affairs. The theme of the program throughout this spring and fall is American foreign policy in an election year.”
David Rosen ’08 said that it was one of Fukuyama’s books drew him to his lecture.
“I read The End of History and the Last Man — it’s a standard text in the political science field — and I thought it would be interesting to hear Fukuyama apply his ideas to the United States’ current world policy situation,” Rosen said.
Gwen Waichman ’11 found the lecture very informative.
“I learned a lot from Professor Fukuyama’s lecture,” she said. “Most Americans now believe that the Bush administration’s foreign policy has been seriously flawed, but it was interesting to hear him pinpoint exactly what went wrong in terms of policy formulation, execution and representation.”