Realizing Real Realism

     Let me begin by apologizing for the space between my blog posts recently. Last week after I posted “On the third day of Ramadan…” my family and I shipped off to a Kampong for three days. If I had to take an aimless guess at a direct translation of “Kampong” it would be “Kam” = without and “pong” = internet. I jest, of course; a Kampong is a rural Malay village. Only one day back from the Kampong (Tuesday) I finally went to school and the last two days I have been trying to settle in. Therefore, I have not given much thought to my blog. Anyways, I’m going to post about school separately in hopes that it will make it onto the AFS blog (apparently they want stories about the exchange itself and don’t have much taste for in-depth musings about International Relations, globalization, etc. Of course I don’t blame them, they are getting government funding and if a socialist (god forbid! Freedom of speech only applies in the conservative book if you’re a god loving capitalist!) is posting on their blog I’m sure they’d have hell to pay).


     Had you asked me a month ago what my foreign policy paradigm was I would have told you that I was a realist who believed in offensive realism as a descriptive framework but not a functional model. However, over the past few weeks I realized that I was more of an idealist than I would have admitted. Up until this point I had on naively assumed that on some level every man, woman, and child on earth yearned for political freedom of the democratic flavor. I think this stems from the psychological construction of the average American which is simply explained as independent to a fault. What I failed to understand in some situations is that based on one’s cultural background, one does not always balk at big-brother governmental policies (i.e. Internet censorship). In fact, it seems that some Malaysians feel that democracy is an indulgence best exercised in moderation. This was summed up y a quote that appeared on AlJazeera English; a Malaysian minister was talking about the government’s plan to filter the internet and he said, “We cannot have a full-fledged democracy like the United States”. 


     This previously-held assumption of mine led me to hold an idealistic view on global political institutions such that I believed in the United States’ role in securing more democratic institutions across the globe (although I have always soundly rejected the Neoconservative militaristic interpretation of Wilson’s statement “The world must be made safe for Democracy”). Now I realize that from an Offensive Realism standpoint that the accentuation of United States international hegemony can only be achieved by accepting that certain institutions are beyond our power to comprehensively change. While it is all fine-and-dandy to support democratization in countries where the populace clearly shows support for a greater degree of political freedom (i.e. Burma), I have now realized that the cause of democracy in Afghanistan, China, et. al is a fruitless endeavor that only endangers our prospects for continued hegemony. Malaysia has taught me that entire populations can be psychologically comfortable with restrictive political mechanisms.


     Therefore, I have realized what realism means in terms of democratization; Not good or bad, just different. 

Published in: on September 2, 2009 at 2:26 PM  Comments (3)  
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