It may be worth noting the main difference between the book I published in January 2018 and this blog, which I opened in June 2019. Essentially, the book consisted of a moderate tone towards Washington, which missed an examination of liberal discourse and ontology. At its core, the book was essentially a polite suggestion to Washington that it should forge a partnership with China in order to address global issues. But the blog has developed into something radical for Washington’s standards, in the sense that the blog developed into a stern critique of Washington’s whole-of-government policy. And through the course of the blogging project, my discourse and thus my train of thought developed to the point whereby my discourse and train of thought arrived at the issue of liberal discourse and liberal ontology.
By arriving at the issue of liberal discourse and liberal ontology, I began to notice the implications of liberal discourse and liberal ontology for the international system which were hidden from my sight during the course of my book project. For instance, in the past, I was much more critical of Iran’s messianic state ideology than I am now. Although I still do not espouse the messianic dimension of Iran’s state ideology, I am not as critical of this particular dimension of Iran’s state ideology as I was in the past. Thus, this blog is not necessarily a complete break or divergence from the views I expressed in my book. Rather, this blog is a significant evolution of the views I expressed in my book because the blog takes into account the issue of liberal discourse and liberal ontology, whereas in the book, I was too young and inexperienced to notice or understand the implications of liberal discourse and liberal ontology for the international system.
In the previous blog post, I mentioned the phenomenon and process known as “decolonization” which has been ongoing for about a century now. “Decolonization” now coincides with the “Easternization” of international norms and rules, as well as the rise of China. At one point, the “democracy” and “human rights” of the Bush Administration – along with notions of “American Exceptionalism” and the American “way of life” – were what the late Edward Said called the “redeeming ideas” and the false pretexts for colonial and imperial policies. But part of the “decolonization” phenomenon and process is a refutation of what Nell Irvin Painter called the “racial science” which underpins the “redeeming ideas” of Western colonial and imperial policies. Thus, at the heart of liberal discourse and ontology is a pseudo-science.
In turn, mere pseudo-science has prompted the beginning of an “Easternization” of international rules and norms. And as Gideon Rachman has noted, Beijing’s long-term goal is to overturn Washington’s role of defining and enforcing international rules and norms. Beijing is able to set this goal because of the growth it has seen in both its ‘hard power’ and ‘soft power’ over the course of the last few decades. In turn, and as the Sinologist Howard French has argued, Washington will seek to confound Beijing to its notions of what constitutes international norms and rules in order to thwart Beijing’s expectation that people “will eventually bow before its authority.” But French concedes that: “A country of China’s size cannot be contained, and any effort to do so would be strongly counterproductive.” To conclude, there is a famous Afghan proverb, which states that if you are not strong enough to sever a person’s hand, then kiss it.