Universal Order

Whereas a hegemonic policy leads to “insolvent foreign relations” to quote from Walter Lippmann, a normal foreign policy “consists in bringing into balance, with a comfortable surplus of power in reserve, the nation’s commitments and the nation’s power.” Even an American statesman whose economic and military resources surpass those of other nations “must still bring his ends and means into balance” as Lippmann argued. The statesman who does not bring a balance between ends and means “will follow a course that leads to disaster.” 

Both in the past and in the present and as evinced by Lippmann’s writings, the United States has been proceeding in its relations with other nations “without a foreign policy which takes account of [American] interests.” Once American interests are assessed and accounted for by American statesmen, everything else will fall into place. As Lippmann wrote: “Then, when we know what we ourselves need and how we must achieve it, we shall be not only a great power. We shall have become at last a mature power. We shall know our interests and what they require of us. We shall know our limitations and our place in the scheme of things.”

And as Lippmann also argued, America’s destiny is to forge a “universal order,” and the forging of this “universal order” consists of two stages. The first stage is “the binding together of the dismembered parts of Western Christendom.” And the second stage proceeds once the first stage has been completed. As Lippmann wrote: “From this beginning a great prospect offers itself: that the schism between East and West, which opened up in the Dark Ages from the fifth to the eleventh centuries of our era, may at last be healed.” Lippmann added: “This, I believe, is the prophecy which events announce. Whether we now hear it gladly or shrink away from it suspiciously, it will yet come to pass.” 

Lippmann argued that by denying its ultimate destiny of having been tasked with the establishment of a universal order that ultimately brings West and East together, the United States and the Western civilization which depends on American power for its survival “will become a disorganized and decaying fringe around [Russia] and the emergent peoples of Asia.” Once this destiny of establishing ‘universal order’ is “comprehended” by the American people, then the American people will become “equal” to their destiny, as Lippmann put it. Lippmann also wrote: “The vision is there, and our people need not perish.”

And as Hannah Arendt wrote, no government can survive war in this day and age due to novel circumstances and evolutions in technology and warfare. War would translate either into a domestic revolution which would replace the government which initiated war, or foreign powers would impose their will on a government that has been diminished by war. As a matter of fact, domestic challenges to the American state and foreign interference in American affairs have already taken root after America’s failed hegemonic wars in Afghanistan and the Middle East. It follows that: “Only if we succeed in ruling out war from politics altogether can we hope to achieve that minimum of stability and permanence of the body politic without which neither political life nor political change is possible.” 

Also, technology and advancements in weaponry means that calculation, strategy, and tactics no longer apply to the realm of politics and war. “Chance and personal factors” matter more than anything else in these novel circumstances. In turn, Arendt spelled out what should be the American position in order to preempt the translation of “Chance and personal factors” into catastrophe and mutual annihilation: “Ultimately and short of catastrophe, the position of the West will depend upon its understanding of revolution. And revolution involves both liberation from necessity so that men may walk in dignity and the constitution of a body politic that may permit them to act in freedom.”

Arguably, all of the recent American failures on the foreign policy front stem from a broader and more basic failure to understand the revolutionary spirit of non-Western peoples and where this revolutionary spirit ultimately comes from, despite the fact that Americans once had a revolution themselves and aware of what the revolutionary spirit aims and strives for.

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