In sum, the dilemma or predicament which confounds Washington at the moment stems from Washington’s abuse of power over the course of the last two or three decades. And the only way to thwart an abuse of power is to confront it. But fighting the status quo and standing up to its abuse of power is also an art. As Arthur Schlesinger Jr. wrote: “The problem of classes is this: Class conflict is essential if freedom is to be preserved, because it is the only barrier against class domination; yet class conflict, pursued to excess, may well destroy the underlying fabric of common principle which sustains free society.”
One perk that comes with confronting an abuse of power is that you get to see less of Richard Haass, John Bolton, Wesley Clark, Mark Kimmitt, Condoleezza Rice, and other toxic neocons on television. And as crude and unsavory as they are, characters like Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin, Iran, and China are actually a check and a balance against the abuse of power simply by virtue of what game theory teaches us. And as one philosopher said, no amount of good will, morality, or religion can constrain the abuse of power, and only power can constrain power. Technology and the internet are also novel forms of checks and balances against the abuse of power which have manifested in a number of ways over the course of the last three decades. These abuses of power range from torturing people because of their beliefs and racial background to hegemonic policies which trampled over international rules and norms.
Jamal Khashoggi is often invoked as a reason for why the Biden Administration should avoid solidifying ties with Saudi Arabia as well as other Muslim countries. But if one invokes Khashoggi, then one must also invoke Shireen Abu Akleh in order to avoid double standards. Abu Akleh’s murder in cold blood was not only a gruesome and shameful blow to free speech and journalism, but it was also an indirect signal and a form of intimidation against those wishing to exercise their freedom of conscience and freedom of thought in the international community. And if Washington chooses to elevate the murder of one journalist over the murder of another journalist, then the pretense of democracy and human rights promotion needs to be dropped altogether and there should be an admission out of Washington that the entire objective and plan out of Washington over the course of the last three decades was to cater to just one exclusive, narrow, and specific interest group at the expense of the rest of the world.
But as mentioned before, a policy of global domination and global hegemony that is fostered by one exclusive, narrow, and specific interest group at the expense of the rest of the world and is then imposed on the world through bribery, censorship, force, and propaganda cannot be sustainable over the long run. Recently, we have been reaching the limits of such a policy both at home and abroad. Moreover, the limits to such a policy are imposed in a number of ways by people and by natural and social forces from around the world. Some of these limits have been mentioned above, and other limits are of an economic, political, social, and scientific nature that have been mentioned in older blog posts. And perhaps the project moving forward for the international community is to translate what was once a brute and corrupt past into something benign and beneficent for current and future generations.