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50THANNIVERSARYISSUE:PAST,PRESENT,FUTURE

RelativistsandAbsolutists:GrandStrategiesinaWorld ofFracturedNorms IrvingLouisHorowitz # SpringerScience+BusinessMediaNewYork2012 Abstract Thecurrentwidespreadrenewedinterestinthe developmentofgrandmi

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50THANNIVERSARYISSUE:PAST,PRESENT,FUTURE






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50THANNIVERSARYISSUE:PAST,PRESENT,FUTURE RelativistsandAbsolutists:GrandStrategiesinaWorld ofFracturedNorms IrvingLouisHorowitz # SpringerScience+BusinessMediaNewYork2012 Abstract Thecurrentwidespreadrenewedinterestinthe developmentofgrandmilitary-politicalstrategiesisafunction ofarapidlychangingglobalconfigurationofpowers.From thebipolarityoftheColdWar,whichbyitsveryconstruction limitedeithertheUnitedStatesortheSovietUnionfrom constructingmuchlessimplementingaunilateralframework, wehavemovedtoapoliticalandeconomicenvironmentin whichavarietyofnationsinpartsoftheworldthatdidnot figureintothepowerequationsofthepastcentury,invites isdiplomacyandfacetofacehumaninitiatives.Bargaining ratherthanblusteringmaybetheorderoftheage.Inthis,itis MetternichratherthanHegelthatmayproveabettersourceof negotiatingacomplexmulti-nationalworldorder. Keywords Internationalpolicy . Militarystrategy . State power . Authoritarianism . Strategicpractice . Strategic thinking . Nationalism . Politicalpragmatism . Political absolutism . Culturalrelativism . Normativevalues Eachoftoday slargePowersisleftgrapplingwiththe ageolddilemmasofriseandfall , seemstobecomemoreinsistent. Ihavelessaproblemwiththeterm strategy thanwiththe word grand. Fortheimplicationinargumentsforagrand strategyisthattheissuesincontentionareglobalratherthan nationalorevenregional.Oneofthemostcompellingadvo- catesof hegemonicclaims forstrategicthinking,ColinS. Gray,summarizesthepositionwell. Thepracticeofstrategy, singular,consideredasafunction,isaneternal,universal, essential,andthereforeunavoidablefeatureofhumanlife. Individuallyandvariablycollectively,peopleperformthe strategicfunctionasacompetitivenecessityforhumansur- vival. 1 Evenscholarswhoarecriticalofthetermstrategyand whoarecarefulnottoconfuseitwithpolicy,resourceappor- tionment,andplans,concludewithanoverallpositionthatthe 1 JohnAndreasOlsenandColinS.Gray, ThePracticeofStrategy : FromAlexandertheGreattothePresent .NewYorkandOxford: OxfordUniversityPress,2011.324pp.Seeespeciallytheessaysby JamesD.Kiras, ModernIrregularWarfare, pp.260 280;andColin S.Gray, Conclusion, pp.287 300. I.L.Horowitz( * ) TransactionPublishers,Rutgers TheStateUniversityofNew Jersey,35BerrueCircle, Piscataway,NJ08854,USA essentialgoalofapoliticalstrategyiswar.Regardlessofthespecificmethodsused,warhasbeenandisstillabouttheuseofarmedforcestoachievespecificpoliticalpurposes,al-thoughthemeansandmethodchange.Inthefaceofsuchtoughmindedthinking,arguingagainstsuchteleologicaldeterminismriskstheappearanceoftenderheartedness.Myconcernsarenottodebatethesignificanceofstrategicthinking,ortodefineorrefinethemeaningofthewordassuch,buttoinquirewhytheintentionsofthosewhomakethecaseforagrandstrategyrarelyfactorinthecapacitytomobilizeapopulation.NeitherintheHundredYearsWarof13371453,northecombinedAfghanistanwarsofRussiaandtheWesternPowersin19792012(inotherwordsthepresentera)hastheresultsbeendecisiveorconclusive.Timeandagain,suchelongatedmilitarystruggles,fueledbyleadersofexcep-tionalstrategicintelligence,havehadtosecureahegemonicoutcome.Idonotdisputetheimportanceofstrategyinpoliticaldecision-making;butIdocallintoquestionuniversalisticclaimsonoverarchingstrategyasarequisiteformilitaryread-inesstocombatfoes.Moretothepoint,thenotionofgrandstrategyitselfmustbecalledintoquestion,giventheshiftingnatureofstatepower,uneventechnologicaladvances,andtheuncertainwillingnessofpeopleatallrankstosacrificelifeandlimbtosecureatotalvictorythroughtheusesofarmedforce.MyviewisthatadvancedeconomicnationsandmilitaryleadersalikeareconfrontedwithaJanusfacedissue:theyseekagrandstrategyonwhichtobasepolicies,butinsteadendupimplementingadhocdecisions.Suchasituationdoesnotsatisfythesearchforglobaltranquilityforthepowerfulnornationalequilibriumforthepoorerregions.Ibelievethatthiscontradictioniswellenoughestablishednottorequirerepeti-tion.Whatremainstobeexplainediswhythissearch,thisdemandforagrandstrategy,continuestoremainagoalandguidepostforacademicandpolicyelites.Withoutthepresumptionofwidespreadacceptanceofagreednormsofbehavior,itissimplynotpossibletoestab-lishagrandstrategyinthepresentdaymilitaryorpoliticalrealm.Thisissoforavarietyofreasons:normsarethepracticalexpressionofprinciples.Lackingagreementonnorms,strategiesbecomerhetoricalincharacterandunen-forceableinpractice.Normsarelinkedtoculturalcontinu-itiesthatareenforceablebylegalsystemsthroughrewardsandpunishments.Whileeverysocietyhasarangeofwhatisconsideredpermissibleorimpermissiblebehavior,somesenseoflimitationsisunderstoodbyitsmembersandciti-zens.Onemightwellarguethephilosophicalpremisesthatunderliesuchpropositions.MyownontologicalpositionisrootedinKantiannotionsofethicalperformanceratherthanHegeliannotionsofhistoricaldestiny.Havingstatedtheneedforanormativebasisofsocialstructureasafoundationforgrandstrategy,itmustbeobservedonempiricalgroundsifnothingelsethatadvancedsocietieshaveforamultitudeofreasons,cometobecriticalandremovedfromabsolutisttheologiesandideologies.Intheirplace,areaplethoraabouttheimportanceofbeliefsinmaximizingchoicesbasedonopportunitiesthatadvancedsocietiesmakefeasiblethroughtheavailabilityofgoodsandservices,beyondanythingexperiencedinpreviousepochs.Thishasweakenednormativestructuresthathaveaidedandabettedaninformationandcommunicationworldinwhichsharpdifferencesexistaboutwhatinfactconstitutesaccept-ablebehavior,orifyouwill,normativebehaviorasdefinedbyandconfinedtothespecificsystemofanynationstate.Ifthepremisesstatedherearerejectedordenied,thenthebasisofthisargumentiscertainlyundercut.Atthatpoint,theempiricalaccuracyofmyclaimsaboutthebreakdownofabsolutismasacoremoralvaluebecomesthecoreissue.Theclassic,normativeview,groundedintraditionalab-solutistdoctrinewasenunciatedbythegreatRoscoePoundTheSpiritoftheCommonLawPoundgrantedthatsocietyisinaconstantstateofflux,butsawthelawasbeyondthereachofchange.Thatconviction,amountingtoalmostasuperstition,isalsoheldbythosewhobelievethatasystemofgovernmentdevisedbythefounderswithnearperfectlysuperhumanwisdom,isguaranteedtothecitizensoftheRepublicforeverbybeinginscribedinawrittenConstitution.Incontrasttosuchclassicalfoundingdoctrine,istheworkofJeromeFrankinLawandtheModernMindandhismanysuccessors.Forthem,itisadelusiontothinkthatthefoundationoflawisabastionofpredictableandlogicalactions.Theyseedecisionsinlawaswellassocietyasdefinedtoanenormousextentbypowerful,concealed,andidiosyncraticprejudicesbyjudges,lawyers,witnesses,andcitizensgenerally.Suchrelativismisnotsimplyanexpressionoflegalpreference,buthasontologicalfounda-tionsthatcannotbedismissed.Thenextlinkinthisanalyticchainisrecognitionofmushroomingculturalrelativismoftheassertionthatuniversalsmustcrumblebeforetheonslaughtofdiffer-encesareobservedintheglobalsocialorder.Again,mypurposeisnottoreasserttheneedforathirteenthcenturyunificationofbelief,evenifsuchuseofChris-tendomasaunifyingagencywerepossible.Ratheritistotakeforgrantedthatrelativismasamodelofbeliefiswidespreadandembeddedinthebehaviorofad-vancedsocieties.Consequently,sincewemusttakese-riouslytheprospectofasocietyinwhichnotionsof IrvingLouisHorowitz,PoliticalIndecisionandMilitaryMuddleinanAgeofGrandStrategy,TheForum.Vol.9,No.3.Fall2011. RoscoePound,TheSpiritoftheCommonLaw.NewBrunswickandLondon:TransactionPublishers,1998.224pp.JeromeFrank,LawandtheModernMind.NewBrunswickandLondon:TransactionPublishers,2009.446pp. Soc newsituationgivesevidenceofrationality,theinabilitytoconductwarfareshortofalloutnucleardisasters,andirra-tionality,willingnesstoconductwarfarepreciselyinthevanishingexpectationsofadefiniteoutcome.Thehistoricalevidencemakesitunlikelytoviewempirebuildingasaworkableefforttoshedlightonboththeuniquenessanduniversalityofgrandstrategyandmilitarystrategy.Fortodosoistoignorethecapacityofempirestoestablishnormativepatternsofsurvivalthatinsurepeaceaswellaswar,andcivilcodesofconductaswellasmilitarycodesofconflict.Itispreciselythosenorms,sometimesethicalothertimeslegal,andoftentheintertwiningofbothwitheachother,thatcreatethepossibilitiesinpastciviliza-tionsforawideconsensus.Alexandercreatedaworkablebalanceofmeansandends,forceandstability,inanempireextendingfromWesternEuropetoIndia.Caesarlikewiseusedtherelentlessexpansionofmilitarismasamechanismtoservethepoliticalambitionsofanelitecivilandmilitaryauthority,butalsotobroadentherangeoftheRomansocietytoincludemanysubjectedpeople.TheByzantineEmpirewasuniqueinthatitsverystrategyencompassedthedesiretoavoidwarbyeverypossiblemeansinallpossiblecircumstances,buttoalwaysbereadytofightatanytime.Thiswasindeedanefforttomaintainmilitarycombat-readiness,butitalsostronglyimpliedapoliticalworldinwhichpeaceisdesirable.Whatmakessuchexcursionsintothehistoricpastin-triguing,isthatthecontemporarysceneisoneinwhichtalkoftheriseandfalloftheAmericanempire,theAmericanCentury,andevenAmericandemocracy,havebecomecom-monplaceacademicrhetoric.Thesharedconsensusseemstobethatempiresfallwhentheyoverreachtheirgoals,orbetteryet,gobeyondtheircapacitytostruggleinaworldwherethemeansandendscontinuumbreaksdown.ItmightwellbesaidthatthestalemateinKoreaatmidtwentiethcenturywastheprototypeandthearchetypeofwhattookplaceinVietnam,Iraq,andAfghanistan.Thepostimperialstatusofasocietyisexemplifiedbyambiguousmilitarygoals,politicalstrategies,andevendiplomaticpurposes,butthenotionofdeclinegoesfarbeyondsuchasimplisticmodel.Itembracesahugetransformationinthenormativestandingofasociety,orbetteryet,thecollapseofnormsasameasuringrodassuch.ThegrandillusionoftheAmericanempirewasnotsomuchinitsoverreaching,asinitsdiplo-maticpresumptionsthatthesearchfordemocraticsystemswassoenthralling,andcaptivating,thatallsocieties,what-evertheirnormsortheologies,wouldembracesuchvalues.Thiswasanideologicalmistakethatpreviousempiresystemsdidnotusuallymake.Justaboutallworldclasscivilizationsinthepre-democraticperiodappreciatedthatrealpowerinterestswereatstakeandmustbeserved.Defeatednationscouldmimicandimitatethemannersandmoresoftheconqueringmilitaryforce(andindeedoftendidjustthatiffornootherreasonthantogainfavorandbecomepartoftheimaginingsoftheimperialpower).However,thenormativebasisofthesecivilizationsmayhavebeenover-extendedinmilitaryterms.Suchempireswererarelyfoolishenoughtobelievethattheheroicsofconqueringandmakingotherssubservientotherscreatedagroundswellofloveandappreciationoftheconqueredandsubservientpeoples.Thehubrisofdemocraciesisthattheysoreadilyignorethequestionofnationalandclassinterests,andfastenwithamazingideologicalfervorontheadvantagestothelessfortunatecitizensofdemocraticsystems.Therapiddisinte-grationoftheBritishEmpireinthetwentiethcentury,theequallyrapiddisintegrationoftheSovietEmpireinthesecondhalfofthatcentury,andnowtheweakeningofthepositionoftheUnitedStatesinthefirsthalfofthetwentyfirstcentury,isnotsomucharesultofmilitaryineptitude,asideologicaldisregardbyitsleadersofthesystemtheysoardentlydefend.ThisdoesnotimplythatnationslikeEngland,Russia,theUnitedStates,andothershavesimplydissolvedintofum-blingweakness.Theytendtoremainenormouslyadvantagedbyhavingattheirdisposalnewtechnologies,advancedmilitarycapacities,andtheabilitytoimposetheireconomicpoweronthelessdevelopedelementsoftheworld.Therearealsodifferencesbetweenpoliticalpower,militarystrength,andeconomicpower.Rollingthesetrium-viratesintoasingleconceptisariskyaffair.Thesediffer-enceshelptoexplainwhytheRomanEmpiredisintegratedmorethanathousandyearspriortothealterationofcartog-raphytoreflectthatfact.Wellintothenineteenthcentury,theRomanEmpirewasaghostlysuperimpositiononmapsbygeographersanditsdesignerswhoignoreditsutterdisintegration.TheTeutonicEmpireofWilhelmineGer-manyruledcentralEuropewhileinmythologyCaesarismstillruledinthefictiveworldofthemapmakers.Claimantstotheimperialthroneofthepresentwoulddowelltotakeseriouslyparallelsexhibitingsimilaritieswithavarietyofearlierregimes.Itisinterestingtonotethatthelastsuccessfuldesign,theCongressofViennaof1814,heldunderthesponsorshipofPrinceKlemensvonMetternich,achieveditsendpreciselybyusingastrategyofdiplomacyandnegoti-ation.Militarypowerwasunevenlydistributedthenasnowandcertainlysuchpowerdifferentialswereomnipresentinitsattendees.Butsuchgranddesignsreflectedaconsensualratherthanaconflictmodel.Thisuniqueinternationalcon-ferencewascalledinordertoremakeEuropeafterthe JohnLenczowski,FullSpectrumDiplomacyandGrandStrategyReformingtheStructureandCultureofUForeignPolicy.Lanham,Maryland:LexingtonBooks,2011.230pp.HaroldJames,TheCreationandDestructionofValueTheGlobal-izationCycle.Cambridge,Massachusetts:HarvardUniversityPress,2009.325pp. Soc speakofgranddesignsinsuchconditionsistodenyunsta-blesituationsastheyexistontheground.Givenasituationinwhichsharednormativebeliefsareextremelyfragileamongdifferentreligiousandpoliticalsystems,thetaskoflargepowersofatraditionalsortisthepracticalchoiceoffriendsorenemies,notthecapacitytosucceedinimplementingagranddesignwithvictoryordefeat.InmanypartsoftheMiddleEast,thechoicesarebetweenciviliandirectedmilitarydictatorshipsandclerical-lydirectedreligiousfactions.SuchstruggleshavenowbecomecommoninSyria,EgyptandLibya.ThegranddesignofWesternpowerscomesasanequallygranddesignofmilitant,largelytheological,forcesdirectingtheuprisingsintheMiddleEast.Insuchcircumstances,theembraceofdictators,oftenofabrutalsort,tocurbsuchagroundswellmovementoflargemassesbecomespainful,butperhapsinevitablechoicebetweenevils.TheclassicalEuropeanandNorthAmericanpowersarereducedtoadefensivepostureratherthanagranddesign.Inplacesofgreatstrate-gicimportancelikeSaudiArabia,thereislittlediscussionofdemocraticemancipation.Thereisgreathopethatsomehow,throughtheprocessofeconomicmodernization,suchanationwillbecomepartoftheWesternbloc.Itisbynomeanscertainthatchoosingoppressiveregimesallowsforevenadecentdecisionmakingprocess,muchlessagranddesignfordemocraticconquest.Nationsmustelecttostandwithtraditionalenemiesagainstnewermoredangerousfoes,orrecognizethattheissueoffriendsandenemiesmayrestonavisionofcombatantsthatisnolongerfeasibleorevenplausible.Eveninareasofmoretraditionalrivals,nationalismremainsapowerfulforceoffsettinginternationalorglobalconsiderations.Friendsandenemiesconstantlyshiftovertime.OurwartimeallyinWorldWarTwowasChina,whileourenemywasimperialJapan.Nowofcourse,JapanisverymuchclosertoWesternvaluesandcommitmentsthanChi-na,andfarfriendlieronthecompetitiveeconomicturf.IntheEuropeansphere,thegreatallyofWorldWarTwowasSovietRussia,andthegreatenemyNaziGermany.Now,ahalfcenturylater,GermanyistheEuropeanbulwarkofthefreeworldeconomy,whereaspastally,Russianauthoritar-ianism,castsadarkshadowlimitingU.S.policyevenwithrespecttoamilitaryshieldforceoraNATOalliance.TherelativelybrieftimeonecanspeakofanothernationasafriendorenemyindicatesthatinheritednotionssuchasgranddesignsmaynotpassmusterasasingularpolicyoftheUnitedStates.Presentdaygroundshiftsmayprovideasurerbasisforrelativismasaguidetoconservatives.ItisnotsimplyaculturalquirkofradicalsinthedecadeoftheToselectproperfriendswhilesortingouttheimproperenemiesthusbecomesataskforthosewhowouldgroundnationalpolicyexclusivelyoninheritedtraditions.Thefam-ilyofnationscalledtheUnitedNationsbecomesafore-groundformakingdifficult,butnotnecessarilypleasantchoices.TwohundrednationsintheUnitedNationspresentaformidablechallengeforestablishinggrandmilitarydesignsbyanyonenationorblocofnations.Atrulyhealthyfamilyofnationsworksoutconsensualarrangements,ofteninformally,withoutregardtoinheritedgroundrules.Adestructivefamilyofnationsbreaksapart,formsnewcoali-tionsandcreatesconditionsforyetmorevirulentformsofstrife.Inthatsensethenotionofagranddesign,evenifitistosurvivethewreckageofthepresentworldorder,cannotbelinkedsimplytomilitantmight.Todosocompromisestheverynotionofademocraticconsensus,andyetworse,standssmallchanceofsurvivalmuchlesstriumph.Thatistherootcontradictionofgrandstrategyinthe21stcentury.Granddesignchangesshorttermrequirementsofcivilso-cietiesandtheircapacitytoseekoutgroundsofsurvivalshortofwar.Thisisnotapleaforoneworldoritsopposite,ademandtoleavetheworldorganization.Seriousagenciesofmajorpowersmayobviouslyentertainsuchopposites,butfewofthemarepreparedtoriskthefabricofdiplomacytobringaboutanevenunsuresituation.Theworldtodayshowsmanysignsofregionalalliances,nationalcohesionbetweendifferentracialandreligiouselements,andsharedgoalsofmutualabundancepursuedinadifferentialmanner.Itfurthershowsafargreaternum-berofdisparateandconflictingapproachesbythemanynationsinwhichpowerremainsaforcethatisnearlyallofthem.Tospeakofagrandstrategywithaunitarysetofnormativecharacteristicsishardtoimaginemuchlessim-plement.Selfinterestratherthanuniversalnormsseemcharacteristicinthishighlyrelativisticenvironment.Hencethelikelihoodofanysingulartypeofstrategicthinkingemergingasanormisdifficulttoenvisiononoperationalgrounds.Whatemergesisnotapictureofaninternationalorderofthingsthatisespeciallyenticingorthatevendis-playsasingularcoreofvalues.Returningtoearlierempires,inwhichvastnumbersaresubjecttotheruleofanysinglepower,howeverestimableitscorevalues,seemshighlyimprobable.Iftheabovescenarioisrecognized,andactedupon,thenthepotentialforsurvivalofpowerful,ifnotomniscientstates,arereasonablygood.Ifnot,prospectsforagranddesigncanmoveahead,butwithuncertainsuccessforhighlydifferentiateddemocraticforces.WhataddsadimensionofconcernisthetremendousadvancesofrelativismintheWest,asituationinwhichfewwoulddareenunciatethesuperiorityofonenation,region,cultureorreligionoveranyother,coupledwiththecontinuationofabsolutisminmanypartsoftheworld,notablytheMiddleEast.Absolutistnationsshowgreat WalterRussellMead,MortalSplendorTheAmericanEmpireinTransition.Boston:HoughtonMifflin,1987.382pp. Soc