The Right Coast

November 18, 2004
Wolfowitz's Vision
By Mike Rappaport

The Belmont Club reports on Paul Wolfowitz's vision:

Radek Sikorski, at one time a deputy minister of defense in Poland,put a rhetorical question to Wolfowitz: "The US president used to be seen as the leader of the free world rather than just president of one country and America used to be seen as a benign global empire. Now, after 9/11, understandably, this is a more patriotic, perhaps even a more nationalistic country. But won't the price of running a nationalistic American empire be much higher than managing a co-operative one?" Wolfowitz responded:

The premise of your question is that we're out to run an empire, but there is no American empire. Look at Japan and Korea. They were part of this so-called empire in the cold war. After the second world war and the Korean war, we invested heavily in the defence and economic systems of countries like Japan and Korea - hardly an imperial undertaking. I would submit that we have benefited enormously from their strength and their ability to stand on their own feet. They're now contributing to the rest of the world. We're so much better off with a Japan as a strong trading partner than a Japan as a basket case. If people want to redefine the word "empire" to mean this as an empire, then it's just semantics. We are not trying to control these countries so we can exploit their resources. We're trying to enable these countries to stand on their own feet and our experience says that when they do so, we're better off. It's back to the absurdity of saying we're trying to impose our ideas on other people when we want to help them become democracies. There's more legitimacy to the question of whether we are really prepared to live with what they produce when they become democratic. There's an uncertainty about the democratic process and there's always a danger that bad people will get elected. But it's a funny empire that relies on releasing basic human desires to be free and prosperous and live in peace. One of the things about this moment in history is that nobody really thinks they can produce an army, a navy or an air force that can take on the US. That should channel human competitiveness into more productive and peaceful pursuits.