CIAO DATE: 10/04
Summer 2004 (Volume 29 Issue 1)
Mature democracies such as the United States are generally believed to be better at making foreign policy than other regime types. Especially, the strong civic institutions and robust marketplaces of ideas in mature democracies are thought to substantially protect them from severe threat inflation and “myths of empire” that could promote excessively risky foreign policy adventures and wars. The marketplace of ideas helps to weed out unfounded, mendacious, or self-serving foreign policy arguments because their proponents cannot avoid wide-ranging debate in which their reasoning and evidence are subject to public scrutiny.
When Gen. Eric Shinseki, chief of staff of the U.S. Army, testified in February 2003 that an occupation of Iraq would require “something on the order of several hundred thousand troops,” officials within George W. Bush's administration promptly disagreed. Within two days, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld declared, “It's not logical to me that it would take as many forces following the conflict as it would to win the war”; Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz characterized Shinseki's estimate as “wildly off the mark.” More than a year after the occupation of Iraq began, the debate continues over the requirements and prospects for long-term success. History, however, does not bode well for this occupation. Despite the relatively successful military occupations of Germany and Japan after World War II, careful examination indicates that unusual geopolitical circumstances were the keys to success in those two cases, and historically military occupations fail more often than they succeed.
For decades, scholars have pointed to Japan as proof that countries can opt out of the violent world of realpolitik. Constructivist scholars in particular argue that the “culture of antimilitarism” that developed in Japan after its surrender in World War II led it to adopt a highly restrained foreign policy and to forswear the development of offensive military forces. Japan's postwar behavior, these scholars argue, demonstrates the potential for domestic politics and norms to determine a state's security policy; it also underscores the salience of constructivist theory in international politics.
Can the United States maintain its global lead in science, the new key to its recently unparalleled military dominance? U.S. scientific prowess has become the deep foundation of U.S. military hegemony. U.S. weapons systems currently dominate the conventional battlefield because they incorporate powerful technologies available only from scientifically dominant U.S. weapons laboratories. Yet under conditions of globalization, scientific and technical (S&T) knowledge is now spreading more quickly and more widely, suggesting that hegemony in this area might be difficult for any one country to maintain. Is the scientific hegemony that lies beneath U.S. weapons dominance strong and durable, or only weak and temporary?
Discussions of security in recent years have frequently concerned the ways in which the complexity of technologically advanced societies can be an Achilles' heel. Various observers and real-life events have drawn attention to how relatively unsophisticated threats against air travel, power grids, computer networks, financial systems, lean manufacturing processes, and the like can have devastating effects. There has been little effort, however, to approach the problems that complexity poses for security in a comprehensive way, though this is not to say that work applicable to such a purpose has failed to appear.
Israeli strategist Zeev Maoz's controversial article, “The Mixed Blessing of Israel's Nuclear Policy,” calls for Israel to disband its nuclear weapons program and join with Arab states in the region to create a “nuclear weapons-free zone.” The article, however, ignores the history of Israeli-Arab relations, especially the unending Arab call for Israel's annihilation and the indisputable record of Arab and Iranian noncompliance with international legal obligations. Most ominously, this record includes Iran's recently revealed pursuit of nuclear weapons while party to the 1968 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. How little has been learned in some academic quarters. Should Israeli leaders take seriously Maoz's call to renounce nuclear weapons, they might as well agree to commit national suicide. Deprived of its nuclear deterrent, Israel would be at the mercy of governments that unambiguously profess genocide against a country half the size of Lake Michigan.