POLI 341 Chapter Notes -Rent-Seeking, Bush Doctrine, Hegemony

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Hudson Summary
Paradox Unipolar moment, no serious challengers to American hegemony.
US has won a series of wars dating back to the Gulf War, militarily
very powerful
US dominates the Middle East as if it was an unprecedented threat
to national security
Why? What’s at stake here?
Traditionally, the interests were 1) containing the Soviet influence 2) Oil
interests around the Gulf 3) Protection of Israel as a strategic ally
o But since 9/11, there has been a move from upholding the regional status
quo, to radically intervening and socially engineering the region
Emergence of Islamist transnational networks, non-state actors,
has led to the US to misunderstand the terrorist threat
o What changed?
9/11. Was a watershed or historical fulcrum that posed a clear
security threat but not exactly a clear approach to the problem
Here, Hudson argues for the role of lobby groups, most
importantly, the neoconservatives, to sell a particular
approach to the problem
o Norman Domestic politics is a thrust of Middle East politics because of
long term interests that extend beyond the limited tenure of the
presidency or the individual idiosyncrasies of people in power
Dynamics of domestic politics that allows for lobby groups to have
a disproportionate amount of power Neoconservatives are
“supported by right wing Israeli circles” and they extol the
importance of American hegemony and the use of military force to
spread liberal values. This according to the lobby, is the best way
to achieve peace
It is important to note here that when Hudson speaks of the
neoconservative lobby, don’t think of them as if they were a
group of elites have hijacked the American policymaking
process. It’s not a new thing. These are interest groups.
Mearsheimer and Walt argue that loose group of
individuals that push policy because they believe it will
help the US. But objectively, it might not be in the national
interest. So the neocons are no different from a gun lobbiest
in Southern tenessee or an farmer in iowa rent seeking.
But the problem is that because there is no countervailing force in
domestic politics, there is no internal balancer. This is what gives
rise to what Hudson calls the neoconservative revolution. They
were able to influence congress, dominate political discourse so as
to sell the idea that proactively intervening in the US is probably
the best move.
Such was the ideological nature of the Bush Doctrine to shape
the Middle East to the US image to create instant power mix
democracies.
All of this explains why the US has alienated allies in the
region and perpetually have threats to national security
o And you’ll see this in the articles we’ll present later
Sadowski Critique
First of all, let’s start with things that I think he got right
o The policy that the US has pursued in the region has alienated a lot of
people, including their allies. Sadowski relates this to the “idealist” or
moralistic nature of the Bush Doctrine.
Realism tells you that if you use let ideology or domestic
politics interfere with your decisionmaking, you’ll get into a lot
of trouble
And it seems like this is the case. First of all, the US
policymakers have seriously misunderstood the
terrorist threat. Instead of thinking in terms of interests
and preferences, the policy was focused on fighting
terrorism itself. Terrorism with a capital T.
o Sadowski argues that the the Bush administration looked at the region
with tinted specs, promoting the idea that Saddam Hussein’s Iraq,
Khatami’s Iran and the Taliban’s Afghanistan had something in
common was just pure wrong. It was a strategic miscalculation.
Iran helped the US defeat the Taliban in the spring of 2001
Saddam Hussein and Bin Laden didn’t really like each other
much if you read up on it
So this miscalculation has clearly ostracized potential allies . it had a
polarizing effect. I agree with him there.
But then his main argument is that BECAUSE of this foreign policy
miscalculation, being too moralistic or idealistic, it has led to a “new
diplomacy
o This is the regional actors taking the first step in negotiations, talking
to enemies of the Washington without their approval
First of all, this new diplomacy is hardly new. He mentions that
the new diplomacy was modeled under the Oslo formula. So if
its not exactly new, how much of it can really be linked to the
Bush Doctrine?
o Second point of contention is that Sadowski reverses the causal logic.
In effect, the effect of his argument precedes the cause. The US did
pursue a miscalculated policy that has had many negative unintended
consequences.
But it is BECAUSE of this fact, that they have buck-passed its
role as a regional vanguard to regional states.
Buck-passing is a realist strategy to deal with threats. It
is like balancing except its clearly much smarter. If you
can achieve your political objectives by getting other
states to do the dirty work for you, they pay the price
and you can relax and enjoy the benefits.
This is not isolationism. Buckpassing is not to say that
the US is ignoring the region because it feels safe. It is a
tactic that means that if there is no potential hegemon,
not one that can threaten the US, then there is no point
of costly intervening
o So a cursory reading may suggest that the US involvement in the
region is waning. That’s one of our main themes. But I think it’s
precisely because of the Initial miscalculation that has led Washington
to retreat from the interventionist role to sit on the sidelines while
waiting for regional states to confront aggressors.
It is also important to note, the examples Sadowski gives of the
new diplomacy….Israel talking to Syria, Saudi Arabia including
Iran in discussions.
Syria and Iran are two states that the US does NOT have
diplomatic relations with. So it makes more sense that
the US is passing the buck, rather than losing its grip on
the region
o Like we’ve mentioned, the decline of US influence seems to be a
common theme. However, almost all the readings, at the end there’s a
little disclaimer which says
Well….technically the US still has the largest military in the
world
Well, yeah, it’s precisely because of this that it remains
to be a major asset to states. By passing the buck,
Washington is playing hard to get and not costly
intervening and exacerbating anti-Americanism
o If this can get regional states to take initiatives,
confront aggressors, while accommodating the
national interest at the same time, it sounds like
a good policy.