Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Francis Fukuyama, on the need for accountability

Check out this great interview with neocon Francis Fukuyama, on how and why he voted the way he did in the presidential election:
I not only didn't vote Republican, I voted for John Kerry this time.... For me it was a big step. I didn't vote for Kerry with a great deal of enthusiasm because it seems to me that he had a lot of the problems that I associate with a certain kind of Democrat, but I did think that if public accountability was to mean anything that, you know, a President who presided over, I think one of the biggest policy fiascos we've gone through in my life time... you shouldn't be rewarded for it.
Fukuyama then explains why the fact that the electorate didn't hold Bush accountable will likely exacerbate Bush's worst failings as a leader:
If this kind of accountability doesn’t work then there won’t be any rethinking of things. I think the Republicans would have gone through quite interesting self-examination had Bush lost, and one of the things that I’m really worried about now is, given that the President does not seem to me to be a very reflective person in general, it’s very possible that he’ll take this as a mandate to simply do what he’s been doing without really reviewing his Cabinet and trying to go back and rethink things and ask where they’ve made mistakes or where they could have done better.
Fukuyama also provides a plain account of how the split between Europeans (and the anti-war crowd everywhere) and Bush-neocons perspectiveshared by much of the American population is at bottom related to a fundamental difference of opinion about what September 11 meant:

One of the things among the many chasms that has opened up between Americans and the rest of the world is the way the interpreted September 11. I think a lot of Americans really do believe that this is the beginning of an upward curve of terrorism using weapons of mass destruction, and the idea that you could sneak a nuclear weapon into Washington or New York and set it off is a very real fear.

Whereas I think most Europeans, they’ve seen terrorism before, it’s the IRA in London... and it’s a low level, it is just a nuisance, it’s not really a cataclysmic kind of attack.

And I honestly, I think it is not possible to say empirically which one is actually true but they justify very different kinds of policies and I think that a lot of Americans and a lot of people in the Bush administration made up their minds quite early that they were facing the much more severe form of it. Certainly it’s safer to operate from that assumption because you know the last thing you want to do is get that wrong and then suffer a catastrophic attack and then have the history books say that you were asleep at the switch when this horrible thing happened.

Read the whole thing.

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