Sunday, August 3, 2008

Neo-con Dialogue

I recently came across a fascinating dialogue between Francis Fukuyama and Robert Kagan. Some background if you are unfamiliar with these men. Francis Fukuyama is the author of one of the most influential works of political theory since the end of the Cold War entitled The End of History and the Last Man, published in 1992. Fukuyama argued that with the collapse of the Soviet Union and the successful, multi-national invasion of Iraq, history has come to an end. What he means is that perpetual competition between political ideologies was over, as all competitors to Liberalism (namely Fascism and Marxism) had failed. In winning the ideological battle, Fukuyama argued that Liberalism would be widely accepted throughout the world in an enlargement of the democratic order. If Leo Strauss and Irving Kristol were the intellectual forefathers of neo-conservatism, then Fukuyama was its living evangelist.

Beginning with the economic deflation of the East Asian "Tigers" and continuing through the second Iraq War, Fukuyama grew critical with his own theory and would come to reject the neo-conservative label. Enter Robert Kagan. Kagan would succeed Fukuyama as neo-conservatism's living intellectual. He has recently published a book entitled The Return of History and the End of Dreams, a title clearly meant to draw connection with Fukuyama's work. I have not had time yet to read Kagan's latest, but I am very interested to see how he reconfigures the neo-con project taking into account the return of international ideological conflict.

In this dialogue from Bloggingheads, the two scholars discuss some contemporary issues in foreign affairs, the future role of China in the international system and the "great powers" thesis.

Mason Slidell

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