[Paleopsych] The American Interest: Fukuyama, et alia: Defining the American Interest
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Mon Nov 21 18:43:25 UTC 2005
Francis Fukuyama, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Eliot Cohen & Josef Joffe: Defining the
[Well, all right, here's the inaugural issue of a journal to counter the
neo-cons in foreign policy, maybe in more than marginal ways. But Frank wrote a
whole book arguing that transhuman technologies are a bigger threat than what
goes on Iran or Red China or whatever. So why is he back to foreign policy? My
answer is just that its easier to write about something one has already written
a great deal about and to which others reply and to which one further replies.
One the other hand, there are far fewer transhumanists arguing back and they
aren't nearly so high up the totem pole. There's only a small room for
transhumanists on the talk shows but lots and lots of foreign policy droaners
every night on the Jim Lehrer Newshour. Jim, how come foreign policy is much
more serious than domestic policy? I think Mr. Mencken would have an answer to
First, the summary from the "Magazine and Journal Reader" feature of the daily
bulletin from the Chronicle of Higher Education, 5.11.15
When it comes to predicting the future, intellectuals "tend to get
things hopelessly wrong," writes Owen Harries, a member of the Global
Advisory Council for this new, independent journal, which was founded
shortly after the demise of The Public Interest and a rift among the
editors of The National Interest (The Chronicle, April 15).
According to a statement from members of its editorial board, who
include Francis Fukuyama and Zbigniew Brzezinski, the new journal is
dedicated to the theme of "America in the World."
In his article, Mr. Harries writes that over the last century,
intellectuals have had an "appalling record of prediction." For
instance, in 1910, four years before the First World War, Norman
Angell, who would later win the Nobel Peace Prize, forecast the end of
all armed conflict -- whoops. Nor should anyone forget, Mr. Harries
writes, "the apocalyptic conclusion" reached in the 1970s by
intellectuals who believed overpopulation and industrial growth would
end the world by the 21st century.
Mr. Harries credits George Orwell for one theory on why the
intelligentsia get the future wrong. Orwell said that intellectuals
suffer from "power worship," or "the tendency to assume that whoever,
or whatever, is winning at the moment is going to prevail in the long
term," according to Mr. Harries. Intellectuals do that regularly, he
adds, "if not compulsively."
Considering another example of false forecasting from the 1970s, he
writes that many intellectuals then considered America's
counterculture, domestic assassinations, government corruption, and
mounting death toll in Vietnam as sure signs of democracy's end. The
events led Daniel Patrick Moynihan, an intellectual who later served
as a U.S. senator, to say that American democracy would have "simply
no relevance in the future." But, he notes, a democratic surge swept
across Europe, Latin America, and Asia shortly thereafter, culminating
with the fall of the Soviet Union.
"Certainly there is plenty of evidence of such worship in the history
of the last century," writes Mr. Harries. "How else can one explain
the widespread adoration among intellectuals of such vile and
murderous figures as Stalin and Mao Zedong, which persisted long after
evidence of their true nature was abundantly available?"
The inaugural issue also includes an interview with Secretary of State
Condoleezza Rice and an essay by Sen. Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut
on market-based solutions to global warming.
The article, "Suffer the Intellectuals," is available to subscribers
The editorial statement -- by Mr. Fukuyama, Mr. Brzezinski, Eliot
Cohen, and Josef Joffe -- is available at
--Jason M. Breslow
The American Interest (AI) is a new and independent voice devoted to
the broad theme of "America in the world." Our agenda is threefold.
The first is to analyze America's conduct on the global stage and the
forces that shape it--not just its strategic aspects, but also its
economic, cultural and historical dimensions. American statecraft is
not simply about power but also purpose. What is important to the
world about America is therefore not just its politics, but the
society from which those politics arise--including America's
literature, music and art, as well as its values, public beliefs and
its historical imagination.
The AI's second aim is to examine what American policy should be. It
is our view that the challenges and opportunities of our time
transcend the assumptions and vocabulary used by both the Left and
Right in recent years, and that we need to move beyond the defense of
obsolete positions. We therefore seek to invite the best minds from a
variety of professions to engage in lively and open-ended debate
founded on serious, sustained arguments and evidence. We wish to
provoke and enlighten, not to plead or to please the guardians of any
ideology. We take a pragmatic attitude toward policy problems,
privileging creativity and effectiveness over contending orthodoxies.
Third, though its name is The American Interest, our pages are open to
the world. The simple and inescapable defining fact of our era is that
America is the foremost actor on the world stage. For good or ill, the
United States affects the lives of billions because of its dominance
in military, economic and, ever more so, cultural affairs. Hence, the
AI invites citizens of all nations into the American national
dialogue, convinced that Americans have much to learn from the
experience and perspectives of others.
There is of course no single or simple "American interest." The United
States is what novelist Tom Wolfe once labeled our "wild, bizarre,
unpredictable, Hog-stomping Baroque country"; it is a complex society
that not just foreigners but Americans themselves often do not well
Therefore, The American Interest will not represent any single point
of view. The names listed on our editorial board and global advisory
council form an eclectic group, though not infinitely so. As the pages
below attest, we share many first principles, but we often disagree
energetically on their application. Both through what we share and
what we contest, we mean to enliven and to enlighten the public
We therefore invite adepts of all political schools and persuasions,
and those too busy thinking to concern themselves with labels, to join
the fray. In our five annual issues we want to provide the premier
forum for serious and civil discussion on the full spectrum of
issues--domestic and international--that shape America's role on the
world stage. We seek a discourse characterized by mutual respect,
humility and passion for useful truths.
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