Damn, Wrong Again!

Francis Fukuyama is one of the smartest people who writes about politics (as far as I can tell), yet he is also consistently wrong in his assertions and theories.* In the early 90s his very influential essay The End of History and the Last Man, he proposed that geopolitics had reached a resting place with the fall of the USSR, that the world would tend toward stable democracy.** That didn’t turn out to be quite true, to say the least. Since the 90s the world has seen enormous challenges to Western-style democracy, from ethnic battles in Yugoslavia to the Bush-fueled rise of Islamic fundamentalism.

After Sept.11, 2001, Fukuyama and a collection of other intellectuals that have come to be known as the neoconservatives argued for a military approach to taking on the threat of Islamic terrorism, arguing that the United States must promote Western values and political systems worldwide, and not tolerate challenges to its authority. They got their wish in the invasion of Iraq, and some continue to insist that the decision was the right one.

Fukuyama, however, had a change of heart. Now he believes that the United States must continue to promote its values and interests, but without the use of military force, through economic development and ideas instead. He has written a new book America at the Crossroads: Democracy, Power, and the Neoconservative Legacy and started a new journal to promote this perspective. (The book has resulted in some great criticism, more interesting than the book to me.)

He sure is smart and articulate, but really, how often does an intellectual have to be really, really badly wrong before people stop listening to the ideas?

* He claims constantly that his writings are misinterpreted, but that’s too damn easy if you ask me. ** Of course this is simplifying, but whatever.

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