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Foreign Affairs: Can America Save the Liberal Order Through Illiberal Means?

To save democracy, we must destroy it https://www.foreign...
Godawful hall liquid oxygen
  02/22/24
why should white americans care about any of this when the e...
frisky razzmatazz theater stage
  02/22/24
...
slimy location mother
  02/22/24
...
beady-eyed library voyeur
  02/26/24
“ To save democracy, we must destroy it” I di...
jet-lagged razzle new version kitty
  02/22/24
...
jet-lagged razzle new version kitty
  02/22/24
Hmmmmm
jet-lagged razzle new version kitty
  02/26/24
Now do Obama’s China Policy
Chrome blood rage
  02/26/24
The entire piece is about how the Western liberal order is s...
Godawful hall liquid oxygen
  02/26/24
And as we all know, Trump would never promote friendly relat...
jet-lagged razzle new version kitty
  02/26/24
We're destroying democracies in other nations to save ours. ...
Godawful hall liquid oxygen
  02/26/24
No one else here has the ability to trigger Obeezy the way y...
Chrome blood rage
  02/27/24
Where are we doing this? Where in the world would be a democ...
Burgundy yarmulke
  02/27/24
DM totally misrepresenting content to try to score points fo...
Burgundy yarmulke
  02/27/24
fart-sniffing Jewish balderdash tp
metal stirring legal warrant friendly grandma
  02/26/24
what does liberal mean here? openminded?
Awkward dilemma
  02/26/24


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Date: February 22nd, 2024 1:02 AM
Author: Godawful hall liquid oxygen

To save democracy, we must destroy it

https://www.foreignaffairs.com/united-states/age-amorality-liberal-brands

“How much evil we must do in order to do good,” the theologian Reinhold Niebuhr wrote in 1946. “This, I think, is a very succinct statement of the human situation.” Niebuhr was writing after one global war had forced the victors to do great evil to prevent the incalculably greater evil of a world ruled by its most aggressive regimes. He was witnessing the onset of another global conflict in which the United States would periodically transgress its own values in order to defend them. But the fundamental question Niebuhr raised—how liberal states can reconcile worthy ends with the unsavory means needed to attain them—is timeless. It is among the most vexing dilemmas facing the United States today.

U.S. President Joe Biden took office pledging to wage a fateful contest between democracy and autocracy. After Russia invaded Ukraine, he summoned like-minded nations to a struggle “between liberty and repression, between a rules-based order and one governed by brute force.” Biden’s team has indeed made big moves in its contest with China and Russia, strengthening solidarity among advanced democracies that want to protect freedom by keeping powerful tyrannies in check. But even before the war between Hamas and Israel presented its own thicket of problems, an administration that has emphasized the ideological nature of great-power rivalry was finding itself ensnared by a morally ambiguous world.

In Asia, Biden has bent over backward to woo a backsliding India, a communist Vietnam, and other not so liberal states. In Europe, wartime exigencies have muted concerns about creeping authoritarianism on NATO’s eastern and southern fronts. In the Middle East, Biden has concluded that Arab dictators are not pariahs but vital partners. Defending a threatened order involves reviving the free-world community. It also, apparently, entails buttressing an arc of imperfect democracies and outright autocracies across much of the globe.

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Biden’s conflicted strategy reflects the realities of contemporary coalition building: when it comes to countering China and Russia, democratic alliances go only so far. Biden’s approach also reflects a deeper, more enduring tension. American interests are inextricably tied to American values: the United States typically enters into great-power competition because it fears mighty autocracies will otherwise make the world unsafe for democracy. But an age of conflict invariably becomes, to some degree, an age of amorality because the only way to protect a world fit for freedom is to court impure partners and engage in impure acts.

Expect more of this. If the stakes of today’s rivalries are as high as Biden claims, Washington will engage in some breathtakingly cynical behavior to keep its foes contained. Yet an ethos of pure expediency is fraught with dangers, from domestic disillusion to the loss of the moral asymmetry that has long amplified U.S. influence in global affairs. Strategy, for a liberal superpower, is the art of balancing power without subverting democratic purpose. The United States is about to rediscover just how hard that can be.

A DIRTY GAME

Biden has consistently been right about one thing: clashes between great powers are clashes of ideas and interests alike. In the seventeenth century, the Thirty Years’ War was fueled by doctrinal differences no less than by the struggle for European primacy. In the late eighteenth century, the politics of revolutionary France upheaved the geopolitics of the entire continent. World War II was a collision of rival political traditions—democracy and totalitarianism—as well as rival alliances. “This was no accidental war,” German Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop declared in 1940, “but a question of the determination of one system to destroy the other.” When great powers fight, they do so not just over land and glory. They fight over which ideas, which values, will chart humanity’s course.

In this sense, U.S. competition with China and Russia is the latest round in a long struggle over whether the world will be shaped by liberal democracies or their autocratic enemies. In World War I, World War II, and the Cold War, autocracies in Eurasia sought global primacy by achieving preeminence within that central landmass. Three times, the United States intervened, not just to ensure its security but also to preserve a balance of power that permitted the survival and expansion of liberalism—to “make the world safe for democracy,” in U.S. President Woodrow Wilson’s words. President Franklin Roosevelt made a similar point in 1939, saying, “There comes a time in the affairs of men when they must prepare to defend, not their homes alone, but the tenets of faith and humanity on which their churches, their governments, and their very civilization are founded.” Yet as Roosevelt understood, balancing power is a dirty game.

Western democracies prevailed in World War II only by helping an awful tyrant, Joseph Stalin, crush an even more awful foe, Adolf Hitler. They used tactics, such as fire-bombing and atomic-bombing enemy cities, that would have been abhorrent in less desperate times. The United States then waged the Cold War out of conviction, as President Harry Truman declared, that it was a conflict “between alternative ways of life”; the closest U.S. allies were fellow democracies that made up the Western world. Yet holding the line in a high-stakes struggle also involved some deeply questionable, even undemocratic, acts.

In a Third World convulsed by instability, the United States employed right-wing tyrants as proxies; it suppressed communist influence through coups, covert and overt interventions, and counterinsurgencies with staggering death tolls. To deter aggression along a global perimeter, the Pentagon relied on the threat of using nuclear weapons so destructive that their actual employment could serve no constructive end. To close the ring around the Soviet Union, Washington eventually partnered with another homicidal communist, the Chinese leader Mao Zedong. And to ease the politics of containment, U.S. officials sometimes exaggerated the Soviet threat or simply deceived the American people about policies carried out in their name.

Strategy involves setting priorities, and U.S. officials believed that lesser evils were needed to avoid greater ones, such as communism running riot in vital regions or democracies failing to find their strength and purpose before it was too late. The eventual payoff from the U.S. victory in the Cold War—a world safer from autocratic predation, and safer for human freedom, than ever before—suggests that they were, on balance, correct. Along the way, the fact that Washington was pursuing such a worthy objective, against such an unworthy opponent, provided a certain comfort with the conflict’s ethical ambiguities. As NSC-68, the influential strategy document Truman approved in 1950, put it (quoting Alexander Hamilton), “The means to be employed must be proportioned to the extent of the mischief.” When the West was facing a totalitarian enemy determined to remake humanity in its image, some pretty ugly means could, apparently, be justified.

That comfort wasn’t infinite, however, and the Cold War saw fierce fights over whether the United States was getting its priorities right. In the 1950s, hawks took Washington to task for not doing enough to roll back communism in Eastern Europe, with the Republican Party platform of 1952 deriding containment as “negative, futile, and immoral.” In the 1960s and 1970s, an avalanche of amorality—a bloody and misbegotten war in Vietnam, support for a coterie of nasty dictators, revelations of CIA assassination plots—convinced many liberal critics that the United States was betraying the values it claimed to defend. Meanwhile, the pursuit of détente with the Soviet Union, a strategy that deemphasized ideological confrontation in search of diplomatic stability, led some conservatives to allege that Washington was abandoning the moral high ground. Throughout the 1970s and after, these debates whipsawed U.S. policy. Even in this most Manichean of contests, relating strategy to morality was a continual challenge.

In fact, Cold War misdeeds gave rise to a complex of legal and administrative constraints—from prohibitions on political assassination to requirements to notify congressional committees about covert action—that mostly remain in place today. Since the Cold War, these restrictions have been complemented by curbs on aid to coup makers who topple elected governments and to military units that engage in gross violations of human rights. Americans clearly regretted some measures they had used to win the Cold War. The question is whether they can do without them as global rivalry heats up again.

IDEAS MATTER

Threats from autocratic enemies heighten ideological impulses in U.S. policy by underscoring the clash of ideas that often drives global tensions. Since taking office, Biden has defined the threat from U.S. rivals, particularly China, in starkly ideological terms.

The world has reached an “inflection point,” Biden has repeatedly declared. In March 2021, he suggested that future historians would be studying “the issue of who succeeded: autocracy or democracy.” At root, Biden has argued, U.S.-Chinese competition is a test of which model can better meet the demands of the modern era. And if China becomes the world’s preeminent power, U.S. officials fear, it will entrench autocracy in friendly countries while coercing democratic governments in hostile ones. Just witness how Beijing has used economic leverage to punish criticism of its policies by democratic societies from Australia to Norway. In making the system safe for illiberalism, a dominant China would make it unsafe for liberalism in places near and far.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine reinforced Biden’s thesis. It offered a case study in autocratic aggression and atrocity and a warning that a world led by illiberal states would be lethally violent, not least for vulnerable democracies nearby. Coming weeks after Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin had sealed a “no limits” strategic partnership, the Ukraine invasion also raised the specter of a coordinated autocratic assault on the liberal international order. Ukraine, Biden explained, was the central front in a “larger fight for . . . essential democratic principles.” So the United States would rally the free world against “democracy’s mortal foes.”

The shock of the Ukraine war, combined with the steadying hand of U.S. leadership, produced an expanded transatlantic union of democracies. Sweden and Finland sought membership in NATO; the West supported Ukraine and inflicted heavy costs on Russia. The Biden administration also sought to confine China by weaving a web of democratic ties around the country. It has upgraded bilateral alliances with the likes of Japan and Australia. It has improved the Quad (the security and diplomatic dialogue with Australia, India, and Japan) and established AUKUS (a military partnership with Australia and the United Kingdom). And it has repurposed existing multilateral bodies, such as the G-7, to meet the peril from Beijing. There are even whispers of a “three plus one” coalition—Australia, Japan, the United States, plus Taiwan—that would cooperate to defend that frontline democracy from Chinese assault.

These ties transcend regional boundaries. Ukraine is getting aid from Asian democracies, such as South Korea, that understand that their security will suffer if the liberal order is fractured. Democracies from multiple continents have come together to confront China’s economic coercion, counter its military buildup, and constrict its access to high-end semiconductors. The principal problem for the United States is a loose alliance of revisionist powers pushing outward from the core of Eurasia. Biden’s answer is a cohering global coalition of democracies, pushing back from around the margins.

Today, those advanced democracies are more unified than at any time in decades. In this respect, Biden has aligned the essential goal of U.S. strategy, defending an imperiled liberal order, with the methods and partners used to pursue it. Yet across Eurasia’s three key regions, the messier realities of rivalry are raising Niebuhr’s question anew.

CONTROVERSIAL FRIENDS

Consider the situation in Europe. NATO is mostly an alliance of democracies. But holding that pact together during the Ukraine war has required Biden to downplay the illiberal tendencies of a Polish government that—until its electoral defeat in October—was systematically eroding checks and balances. Securing its northern flank, by welcoming Finland and Sweden, has involved diplomatic horse-trading with Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who, in addition to frequently undercutting U.S. interests, has been steering his country toward autocratic rule.

In Asia, the administration spent much of 2021 and 2022 carefully preserving U.S. ties to the Philippines, at the time led by Rodrigo Duterte, a man whose drug war had killed thousands. Biden has assiduously courted India as a bulwark against China, even though the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi has curbed speech, harassed opposition leaders, fanned religious grievances, and allegedly killed dissidents abroad. And after visiting New Delhi in September 2023, Biden traveled to Hanoi to sign a “comprehensive strategic partnership” with Vietnam’s one-party regime. Once again, the United States is using some communists to contain others.

Then there is the Middle East, where Biden’s “free world” coalition is quite the motley crew. In 2020, Biden threatened to make Saudi Arabia a “pariah” over the murder of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi. By 2023, his administration—panicked by Chinese inroads and rising gas prices—was trying to make that country Washington’s newest treaty ally instead. That initiative, moreover, was part of a concept, inherited from the Trump administration, in which regional stability would rest on rapprochement between Arab autocracies and an Israeli government with its own illiberal tendencies, while Palestinian aspirations were mostly pushed to the side. Not surprisingly, then, human rights and political freedoms receded in relations with countries from Egypt to the United Arab Emirates. Biden also did little to halt the strangulation of democracy in Tunisia—just as he had decided, effectively, to abandon Afghanistan’s endangered democracy in 2021.

Indeed, if 2022 was a year of soaring rhetoric, 2023 was a year of awkward accommodation. References to the “battle between democracy and autocracy” became scarcer in Biden’s speeches, as the administration made big plays that defied that description of the world. Key human rights–related positions at the White House and the State Department sat vacant. The administration rolled back sanctions on Venezuela—an initiative described publicly as a bid to secure freer and fairer elections, but one that was mostly an effort to get an oppressive regime to stop exporting refugees and start exporting more oil. And when a junta toppled the elected government of Niger, U.S. officials waited for more than two months to call the coup a coup, for fear of triggering the cutoff of U.S. aid and thereby pushing the new regime into Moscow’s arms. Such compromises have always been part of foreign policy. But today, they testify to key dynamics U.S. officials must confront.

(http://www.autoadmit.com/thread.php?thread_id=5494427&forum_id=2#47426630)



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Date: February 22nd, 2024 1:21 AM
Author: frisky razzmatazz theater stage

why should white americans care about any of this when the eroding demography of their own nation is the only truly meaningful story of the modern era? any article about 'america' or american policy which does not begin with this reality is worthless blather.

(http://www.autoadmit.com/thread.php?thread_id=5494427&forum_id=2#47426658)



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Date: February 22nd, 2024 2:55 AM
Author: slimy location mother



(http://www.autoadmit.com/thread.php?thread_id=5494427&forum_id=2#47426747)



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Date: February 26th, 2024 11:45 AM
Author: beady-eyed library voyeur



(http://www.autoadmit.com/thread.php?thread_id=5494427&forum_id=2#47439617)



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Date: February 22nd, 2024 1:34 AM
Author: jet-lagged razzle new version kitty

“ To save democracy, we must destroy it”

I didn’t see this in the article. Or is this just an expression of your opinion? That is what you want right - fascism and the mass murder of tens of millions of Americans, as you’ve stated here so many times?

Article is pretty interesting. Biden’s been very pragmatic on foreign policy. He’s doing a great job of building a base of support against China. Too bad Donald did so much to help China.

(http://www.autoadmit.com/thread.php?thread_id=5494427&forum_id=2#47426678)



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Date: February 22nd, 2024 1:38 PM
Author: jet-lagged razzle new version kitty



(http://www.autoadmit.com/thread.php?thread_id=5494427&forum_id=2#47427842)



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Date: February 26th, 2024 11:43 AM
Author: jet-lagged razzle new version kitty

Hmmmmm

(http://www.autoadmit.com/thread.php?thread_id=5494427&forum_id=2#47439596)



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Date: February 26th, 2024 11:46 AM
Author: Chrome blood rage

Now do Obama’s China Policy

(http://www.autoadmit.com/thread.php?thread_id=5494427&forum_id=2#47439625)



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Date: February 26th, 2024 12:15 PM
Author: Godawful hall liquid oxygen

The entire piece is about how the Western liberal order is so fragile and would cease to exist if we did not support strong arm dictators to do our dirty work

If that is the case, why does the Western liberal order even exist if it would collapse without forcing authoritarians on other peoples?

(http://www.autoadmit.com/thread.php?thread_id=5494427&forum_id=2#47439784)



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Date: February 26th, 2024 12:21 PM
Author: jet-lagged razzle new version kitty

And as we all know, Trump would never promote friendly relations with autocracies. Right?

I see you’re admitting you made up the “to save democracy we must destroy it” part. Good job.

You also seem to be tacitly admitting you want to end democracy as well. I’m proud of you - you’re becoming more honest.

(http://www.autoadmit.com/thread.php?thread_id=5494427&forum_id=2#47439811)



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Date: February 26th, 2024 12:51 PM
Author: Godawful hall liquid oxygen

We're destroying democracies in other nations to save ours. My point stands

(http://www.autoadmit.com/thread.php?thread_id=5494427&forum_id=2#47439914)



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Date: February 27th, 2024 12:59 AM
Author: Chrome blood rage

No one else here has the ability to trigger Obeezy the way you do. What is your secret power?

(http://www.autoadmit.com/thread.php?thread_id=5494427&forum_id=2#47442453)



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Date: February 27th, 2024 2:24 AM
Author: Burgundy yarmulke

Where are we doing this? Where in the world would be a democracy absent our meddling?

(http://www.autoadmit.com/thread.php?thread_id=5494427&forum_id=2#47442524)



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Date: February 27th, 2024 2:27 AM
Author: Burgundy yarmulke

DM totally misrepresenting content to try to score points for his nonsensical worldview? Does the day end with Y?

(http://www.autoadmit.com/thread.php?thread_id=5494427&forum_id=2#47442525)



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Date: February 26th, 2024 12:19 PM
Author: metal stirring legal warrant friendly grandma

fart-sniffing Jewish balderdash tp

(http://www.autoadmit.com/thread.php?thread_id=5494427&forum_id=2#47439801)



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Date: February 26th, 2024 12:58 PM
Author: Awkward dilemma

what does liberal mean here? openminded?

(http://www.autoadmit.com/thread.php?thread_id=5494427&forum_id=2#47439939)