International

The Crisis of Legitimacy

Leading neo-conservative Robert Kagan, a founding member of the Project for a New American Century, recently delivered a speech in Australia on the topic of The Crisis of Legitimacy: America and the World.

It is well worth reading if you are interested in what people like Kagan are actually thinking rather than the cartoon interpretations some present.

“What kind of world order do we want?” asked Joschka Fischer , Germany ‘s foreign minister, on the eve of the U.S. invasion of Iraq in March 2003. That this question remains on the minds of many Europeans today is a telling sign of the differences that separate the two sides of the Atlantic — because most Americans have not pondered the question of world order since the war.

They will have to. The great transatlantic debate over Iraq was rooted in deep disagreement over world order. Yes, Americans and Europeans debated whether Saddam Hussein posed a serious threat and whether war was the right way to deal with it. A solid majority of Americans answered yes to both questions, while even larger majorities of Europeans answered no. Yet these disagreements reflected more than just differing tactical and analytical assessments of the situation in Iraq . As Dominique de Villepin, France ‘s foreign minister, put it, the struggle was less about Iraq than it was between “two visions of the world.”

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