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US Grand-Strategy in the Planetary Impasse

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Abstract

Social Democracy is the only historical actor that can attempt to forge a Green World Order. The key challenge for a social democratic administration attempting to solve the planetary impassee will be creating a moral economy of discipline that can be reproduced over the long run.
US Grand-Strategy in the Planetary Impasse By
Anusar Farooqui and
Apratim Sahay
Global Green New Deal Workshop
Baltimore, October 28-29, 2019
Global Politics in the Planetary
Impasse: Point of Departure
Green World Order can only come about through a conscious remaking of the
world – a question not of technics but of forging a stable alignment of
sociopolitical forces.
Social democracy is the only historical actor that can attempt the remaking.
Good news: GND may be a solution to the impasse of elite-mass relations in the
Western world. Exit is still blocked unless the United States follows a grand-
strategy that subordinates all other foreign policy goals to this goal.
Left is extremely weak in foreign policy — need to articulate a social democratic
grand-strategy. Working at this high level of analysis, we can only recommend
basic design principles.
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The Escalatory Logic of the Hockey
Stick of Doom
Hockey stick is baked into
the logic of fossil
modernity – stock of
carbon is a function of
large-scale patterns of
behavior.
The price we pay is
exponential in length of
delay – the further up we
ride up the hockey stick the
greater the panic.
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October 28-29, 2019 3
A Global War on Carbon?
Abstract analysis of means without without reference
to ends is responsible for the evident urge to
weaponize the Green project.
Sanctions talk puts the cart before the horse –
means must be subordinated to ends’.
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October 28-29, 2019 4
Operations analysts “saw air
war less as a strategic process
aimed at victory and more as a
technical process in which the
assembly and refinement of
means became paramount.”
– Michael Sherry
Lessons from ‘the Best and the
Brightest’
Kennedy intellectuals were convinced of the
importance of restrained use of force as an
instrument of national policy.
Some sort of disciplinary regime is indispensable to
solve the physical problem of decarbonization.
Coercion must be leashed to policy — there must
be ‘an economy of force’.
Policy must be leashed our commitments —need a
moral economy that can be reproduced over
decades.
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October 28-29, 2019 5
“How can the United States employ
military power as a rational instrument of
foreign policy when the destructive
potentialities of war exceed any rational
purpose?”
We must grasp “the practical and moral
necessity of disciplining mass violence.”
— Robert Osgood
American Social Democracy Had a
Plan: Kennedy’s Attempt at World
Order, 1961-1968
Rising tide of expectations’. Kennedy
intellectuals were supremely worried about the
threat of guerrilla war in ‘the grey areas’ – whence
the decade of development’.
What shattered in 1968 was the moral economy
of Kennedy’s attempt at world order — what went
wrong?
‘Modernization as Ideology’? Latham ignores
the explanandum of Modernization theory — the
combined and uneven development’ of the
world.
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October 28-29, 2019 6
Communist guerrillas “are the
scavengers of the
modernization process.”
– Walt Rostow
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The Great Divergence is the story of
combined and uneven development on
the hockey-stick of doom.
Rumors of either’s demise are greatly
exaggerated.
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Absolute
Poverty
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No Secondary
Education
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Total
Epidemics
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What Went Wrong?
Hilsman’s problem –
lack of administrative
capacity. Solution:
intervention-in-depth.
Blockages drove
escalation in Indochina.
What brought
Kennedy’s attempt at
world order to grief was
the response function
of the peasant.
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Strategy in the Planetary
Impasse: The Hard Problem
Blockages will drive intervention-in-depth again – the specter of White people showing
up in strength in the hinterlands of the underdeveloped world. Moral economy of social
democracy demands that we leash violence even more tightly to policy.
Key design principle: bake-in watchdogs, media surveillance, feedback pipes — ‘a hot line
to the peasant’ — into every intervention.
Limits of Western power– no matter what we do, many efforts will simply fail. We must be
prepared to abandon projects at any level of ‘commitment’.
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October 28-29, 2019 13
Strategy in the Planetary
Impasse: Polar Powers
Strategy design requires identification of the response functions of all veto actors.
Oil patch strategy. US-EU outward. Germany is the key to Europe. Anglo-Saxons and
Japanese will follow US-EU lead.
Trying to prevent China from becoming a first-rank power is a fool’s errand. The
climate emergency is a question of the next decade. But China won’t close the military
gap before midcentury skip cold war, go straight to détente.
Compellence is not an option with India and China – friction-free tech transfers must
be on the table. Abandon the self-congratulation of the liberal-democratic discourse.
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October 28-29, 2019 14
Strategy in the Planetary
Impasse: Troublemakers
Russia can shield a whole anti-
Green World Order coalition of
states under its nuclear umbrella –
Russia must be isolated from
China.
Oil polities can be expected to
make trouble. Oil monarchies can
be isolated through financial
discipline — with blockade and
sanctions held in reserve.
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The Moral Economy of Discipline
in a Green World Order
Implicit de-legitimization of the use of force on the world stage is the intellectual origin of
the Left’s Achilles’ heel.
It is the incongruence of ends on the one hand, and means and commitments on the
other, that runs afoul of moral economy — in order to forge a legitimate disciplinary
regime, we must subordinate means to ends and ends to commitments.
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Special thanks to Alyssa Battistoni for forcing me to grapple with the
hard problem.
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