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The Big Answer


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Great Delusion: Liberal Dreams and International Realities

a book by John J. Mearsheimer

(our site's book review)

Mearsheimer Rightly Argues That Liberal Hegemony Is Doomed to Fail

The Amazon blurb says that A major theoretical statement by a distinguished political scholar explains why a policy of liberal hegemony is doomed to fail.

In this major statement, the renowned international-relations scholar John Mearsheimer argues that liberal hegemony, the foreign policy pursued by the United States since the Cold War ended, is doomed to fail. It makes far more sense, he maintains, for Washington to adopt a more restrained foreign policy based on a sound understanding of how nationalism and realism constrain great powers abroad.

It is widely believed in the West that the United States should spread liberal democracy across the world, foster an open international economy, and build institutions. This policy of remaking the world in America’s image is supposed to protect human rights, promote peace, and make the world safe for democracy. But this is not what has happened. Instead, the United States has ended up as a highly militarized state fighting wars that undermine peace, harm human rights, and threaten liberal values at home. Mearsheimer tells us why this has happened.

The United States has ended up as a highly militarized state fighting wars that undermine peace, harm human rights, and threaten liberal values at home, and if countries resist democracy, we jam it down their throats
The United States has ended up as a highly militarized state fighting wars that undermine peace, harm human rights, and threaten liberal values at home, and if countries resist democracy, we jam it down their throats

Liberalism, Nationalism and Realism, Oh My!

The approach and development of the three basic isms of the book: liberalism, nationalism and realism, was an informative perspective from which to judge international relations. Mearsheimer deals with each ism and how the three interrelate and bump heads in national and international politics. He shows us how and why both liberalism and nationalism thrive in national politics but fail in international political relationships. So the third ism, realism, becomes the only successful approach to the relationships between nation states, mainly because of the cultural differences of the nations. Realism means that we need to avoid wars that cannot be won and should never start wars to promote our ideas about liiberalism and democracy—it may even mean never having to say we're sorry. This is a good summary of Mearsheimer's main point.

"Mearsheimer notes that spending billions of dollars on the latest in munitions is not an effective path to being the world’s moral arbiter. Rather, he posits that, to maintain a 'unipolar' world centered on U.S. interests, American foreign policy should base its actions in 'realism,' a strategy that pursues self-preservation via a balance of power between sovereign nations. A country that is internally sound, economically and democratically, will be one the world will want to emulate—and a nation strong enough to stay ahead of a rising China." (Source: The Great Delusion: Liberal Dreams and International Realities, publishersweekly.com)

Mearsheimer is hated by the global elite because he is the child who points out that the emperor wears no clothes
Mearsheimer is hated by the global elite because he is the child who points out that the emperor wears no clothes

Liberal Hegemony Failed Because It Was Never Results Driven

Mearsheimer is hated by the global elite because he is the child who points out that the emperor wears no clothes. The global elite have cornered the market on the conventional wisdom (CW) about how to run international relations, but this is only because they have bullied all other contenders out of the ring, and it is not because they have demonstrated the veracity of their theories. The international chaos, the rise of terrorism, and the retreat of democracy coupled with the rise of nationalism and authoritarianism all symptomize the failure of liberal hegemony. Why did it fail?

It failed because it was never results driven, and the political elements that supported it were never held responsible for its massive, expensive failures. As a result, the idiotic neocons that pushed the U.S. into quagmire after quagmire had no skin in the game, no consequence to pay. They were unaccountable. See Unaccountable: How Elite Power Brokers Corrupt our Finances, Freedom, and Security and Shadow Elite: How the World's New Power Brokers Undermine Democracy, Government, and the Free Market.

Stephen M. Walt bemoans the bipartisan verities of Washington’s foreign policy establishment, skewering its conformity, self-righteousness, and shared illusions
Stephen M. Walt bemoans the bipartisan verities of Washington’s foreign policy establishment, skewering its conformity, self-righteousness, and shared illusions

Trump Said He'd Replace the Failing Neoconservative Liberal Hegemony, but It Was a Lie

Trump made all the right promises about getting out of our wars, but when it got down to doing it, he chickened out
Trump made all the right promises about getting out of our wars, but when it got down to doing it, he chickened out

The Trump-era anti-establishment narrative ignores the fact that, despite campaign rhetoric like “our foreign policy is a complete and total disaster” and “we’re rebuilding other countries while weakening our own”, Trump has not veered far from the neoconservative liberal hegemony playbook of the bipartisan foreign-policy elite. Stephen M. Walt bemoans the bipartisan verities of Washington’s foreign policy establishment, skewering its conformity, self-righteousness, and shared illusions—and offers his own thoughtful prescription for a humbler, wiser and more effective US foreign policy. He and Mearsheimer seem to be on the same page. See The Hell of Good Intentions: America's Foreign Policy Elite and the Decline of U.S. Primacy.

The road to hell is paved with good intentions—like those of our global foreign policy elite pushing their idiotic liberal hegemony ideas
The road to hell is paved with good intentions—like those of our global foreign policy elite pushing their idiotic liberal hegemony ideas

The neocons hate Mearsheimer because there would be less money for war if his prescriptions were followed. The shadow government hates him for the same reason—those oligarchs, especially those in the weapons and war construction businesses like Halliburton, need five yachts apiece, you know. Four yachts apiece simply will not do! See Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World and The Shadow Government.

Stephen M. Walt and John J. Mearsheimer both keep focusing on the relative strength of the U.S. and China/Russia in terms of conventional weaponry, something likely to be made obsolete in any future conflict, where AI and super-cyberwar may dominate.

Conventional weaponry is likely to be made obsolete in any future conflict, where AI and super-cyberwar may dominate
Conventional weaponry is likely to be made obsolete in any future conflict, where AI and super-cyberwar may dominate

Foreign Policy Elites Consider Liberal Hegemony a Wise Policy, but Mearsheimer Disagrees—As Do We

Mearsheimer tells us "Many in the West, especially among foreign policy elites, consider liberal hegemony a wise policy that states should axiomatically adopt. Spreading liberal democracy around the world is said to make eminently good sense from both a moral and a strategic perspective. . . . proponents claim it helps protect liberalism at home by eliminating authoritarian states that otherwise might aid the illiberal forces that are constantly present inside the liberal state. . . . the best way to ensure that the rights of foreigners are not trampled is for them to live in a liberal democracy. This logic leads straight to an active policy of regime change, where the goal is to topple autocrats and put liberal democracies in their place. Liberals do not shy from this task, mainly because they often have great faith in their state’s ability to do social engineering both at home and abroad."

Mausoleum of assassinated president Omar Torrijos of Panama, killed by U.S. empire building insanity
Mausoleum of assassinated president Omar Torrijos of Panama, killed by U.S. empire building insanity

Of course, these ideas fly in the face of our history. It is well known that the U.S. likes to install dictators in other countries that will sell out their country if we make them rich, and the U.S. has had few qualms about toppling or assassinating elected leaders before the installation of the authoritarian ruler. All aspects of this process are for the sake of our corporatocracy. None of it is for their sake. Nevertheless, when the U.S. installs dictators, it loves to use propaganda in Western media that we are democratizing and liberalizing them, when in reality we are undermining and then destroying any democracy or rule by the people. See The Secret History of the American Empire: Economic Hit Men, Jackals, and the Truth about Global Corruption and The Concise Untold History of the United States.

Here a pickpocket is making a friend while picking his pocket covertly; this is the essence of U.S. international relations, even though CIA-inspired propaganda in Western media report we're democratizing other countries
Here a pickpocket is making a friend while picking his pocket covertly; this is the essence of U.S. international relations, even though CIA-inspired propaganda in Western media report we're democratizing other countries

But these are not the facts that are taught in universities which favor the neoconservative's liberal hegemony strategy of international relations. The U.S. is engaged in empire building despite the CIA-inspired propaganda in Western media that we are democratizing other countries, which has never been true—it is merely the cover story. See Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire. So neither Walt nor Mearsheimer spend much if any time discussing empire building, the corporatocracy, installing dictators in other countries, assassinations, or other ugly truths of the Ugly Americans. The liberal state spreads propaganda that we are spreading democracy near and far, but it is a fraud and we are doing nothing of the kind.

Mearsheimer drank the Kool-Aid and really believed that our neocons were seriously pursuing liberal hegemony policies to create democracies and improve human rights
Mearsheimer drank the Kool-Aid and really believed that our neocons were seriously pursuing liberal hegemony policies to create democracies and improve human rights

Mearsheimer Buys the Lie That Foreign Policy Elites Were Seriously Trying to Install Democracies and Improve Human Rights; We Don't; They Were Empire Building

In essence, then, we are saying that Mearsheimer drank the Kool-Aid and really believed that the empire building neocons who were enriching our corporatocracy at other nation's expense were in actuality seriously pursuing liberal hegemony policies to create democracies and improve human rights. Sure, the hegemony part is right. But the liberal democracy and rights improving is a bald-faced lie. We can just imagine the neocons having secret meetings somewhere between the 1940s and 1970s in which they planned to get as much control of the people on the planet as possible, but in order to make their greedy whores-for-the-corporatocracy plans palatable to the foreign policy wonks, they had to add the liberal part of the liberal hegemony concept, so the propaganda about U.S. doing good works around the world wouldn't seem so outrageous. The public insisted that our military be used to empower democracies and defeat villains like communism and fascism.

As Mearsheimer admits, our policy of remaking the world in America’s image is supposed to protect human rights, promote peace, and make the world safe for democracy didn't happen. Instead, the United States has ended up as a highly militarized state fighting wars that undermine peace, harm human rights, and threaten liberal values at home. The author thinks this was a case of oops—unintended consequences. But when the U.S. kept having oops happen all over the planet, even the blind could see that someone was not telling the truth. NO ONE could be that incompetent.

The U.S. foreign adventures are a horrendous record of failures, we have been acting like a bull in a china shop when we should have been setting a good example
The U.S. foreign adventures are a horrendous record of failures, we have been acting like a bull in a china shop

This would lead any truth-seeker to search for the reality under the words—the true intentions versus the stated intentions. Did the author believe the media's lies about intentions? Did he not know how CIA propaganda worked? The CIA had filters/editors at all mainstream media outlets that made sure that their cover story got reported. Any reporter writing stories about the truth would be up against these people and if they persisted, they'd be looking for another job. So they toed the party line. See Freedom of the Press—an American Delusion and Media Control, Second Edition: The Spectacular Achievements of Propaganda.

The CIA was bent on turning the works of great writers into propaganda (or at least getting writers to pretend they wrote CIA-written propaganda pieces)
The CIA was bent on turning the works of great writers into propaganda (or at least getting writers to pretend they wrote CIA-written propaganda pieces)


The CIA had filters/editors at all mainstream media outlets that made sure that their cover story got reported—any reporter writing stories about the truth would be in trouble, so at times the CIA would send these reluctant authors bribes, which usually worked
The CIA had filters/editors at all mainstream media outlets that made sure that their cover story got reported—any reporter writing stories about the truth would be in trouble, so at times the CIA would send these reluctant authors bribes, which usually worked; see Journalists for Hire: How the CIA Buys the News

Mearsheimer says he intended Great Delusion: Liberal Dreams and International Realities to be theoretical at its core, and it is—boringly so. He wanted to deal with the three isms: liberalism, nationalism, and realism. His book does a good job of this theorizing. But is it too naive? John Joseph Mearsheimer is an American political scientist and international relations scholar, who belongs to the realist school of thought. He knows the theories and science as well as any, but there's more here than meets the eye. Even though we saved the world from Nazis in the 1940s and saved South Korea from communism and saved Kuwait from Saddam, where are all the other liberal democracies we've created since then?


The U.S. Has an Ugly Record of Violence and Installing Tyrants

"Our leaders are cruel because only those willing to be inordinately cruel and remorseless can hold positions of leadership in the foreign policy establishment. People capable of expressing a full human measure of compassion and empathy toward faraway powerless strangers do not become president of the United States, or vice president, or secretary of state, or national security adviser or secretary of the treasury. Nor do they want to. . . . From 1945 to 2003, the United States attempted to overthrow more than 40 foreign governments, and to crush more than 30 populist-nationalist movements fighting against intolerable regimes. In the process, the US bombed some 25 countries, caused the end of life for several million people, and condemned many millions more to a life of agony and despair."—William Blum, author of America's Deadliest Export: Democracy - The Truth about US Foreign Policy and Everything Else. See also Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire.

The US has bombed some 25 countries since WWII, caused the end of life for several million people, and condemned many millions more to a life of agony and despair
The US has bombed some 25 countries since WWII, caused the end of life for several million people, and condemned many millions more to a life of agony and despair

Perhaps Mearsheimer defines liberalism differently than we do, but none of this sounds like empowering democracy or human rights or freedom to us. It sounds much more like being a murderous, greedy bully willing to kill, torture, maim, and rob to get access to cheap resources in other countries, while our media talks up our "democratizing" cover story.

The rest of the world sees that our military believes that Might Makes Right but constantly keeps illustrating that Might Makes Stupid
The rest of the world sees that our military believes that Might Makes Right but constantly keeps illustrating that Might Makes Stupid

Mearsheimer says that the key to understanding liberalism’s limits is to recognize its relationship with nationalism and realism. This may be true on paper and in theory, but in the real world of the foreign policy pursued since WWII, not only were results contrary to intentions, but our media's reporting of what happened were contrary to the truth. The reasons reported for our actions have been for freedom, democracy, rights, and the good of our citizens and yet the actions happened for none of these reasons—we were lied to.

The U.S. Has an Ugly Record of Only Enriching the Rich, the Oligarchs, the Corporatocracy, and the Tycoons

All these "liberal" actions in the world were for the benefit of the few: the rich, the oligarchs, the corporatocracy, the tycoons, and they had a negative effect on freedom, democracy, rights, and the good of our citizens. And this is more than predatory capitalism full of monopolies and financialization making the rich richer and the nonrich poorer. See Requiem for the American Dream: The 10 Principles of Concentration of Wealth & Power, the best book of the 21st century.

Americans do not have much more left to give. First predatory capitalism ate their jobs. Then their middle class. Then their incomes. Then their benefits. Then their college funds, retirement accounts, savings
Americans do not have much more left to give. First predatory capitalism ate their jobs. Then their middle class. Then their incomes. Then their benefits. Then their college funds, retirement accounts, savings

Note: "Americans do not have much more left to give. First predatory capitalism ate their jobs. Then their middle class. Then their incomes. Then their benefits. Then their college funds, retirement accounts, savings. Then their kids futures. Then their social systems, their safety nets and protections. The social contract itself. Then, finally, their democracy itself, corroding, corrupting, mutilating it. So what’s left?" (Source: How Predatory Capitalism Ate America From the Inside Out, umair haque, Eudaimonia and Co)

In spite of our leaders' rhetoric, all these 'liberal' actions in the world were for the benefit of the few: the rich, the oligarchs, the corporatocracy, the tycoons, not us citizens
In spite of our leaders' rhetoric, all these 'liberal' actions in the world were for the benefit of the few: the rich, the oligarchs, the corporatocracy, the tycoons, not us citizens


The ladder of class mobility has been rigged to prevent the nonrich from ever getting rich
The ladder of class mobility has been rigged to prevent the nonrich from ever getting rich


The trouble with the theorists like Mearsheimer in their ivory towers is they are too remote from where the tragic consequences are occurring to really comprehend the results of their words
The trouble with the theorists like Mearsheimer in their ivory towers is they are too remote from where the tragic consequences are occurring to really comprehend the results of their words

Hegemonic Liberalism Had Blowback—It Undermined Rights in the U.S.

Mearsheimer says that "within countries, I believe liberalism is a genuine force for good, and it is highly desirable to live in a country that privileges and protects individual rights. I consider myself especially fortunate to have been born and lived all my life in liberal America. Liberalism at the international level, however, is a different matter. States that pursue ambitious liberal foreign policies, as the United States has done in recent years, end up making the world less peaceful. Moreover, they risk undermining liberalism at home, an outcome that should strike fear into the heart of every liberal."

Big surprise—the hero that will ride in on a white horse and save us from all this Concentration of Wealth & Power is not Donald J. Trump. It is us!
Big surprise—the hero that will ride in on a white horse and save us from all this Concentration of Wealth & Power is not Donald J. Trump. It is us!

And darned if this "undermining liberalism at home" didn't happen. Dubya invades Iraq unprovoked and then Afghanistan and then O'Bomb'em attacks Libya and Trump attacks Syria. These people we attacked were not impressed by our liberal excuses about democratization—they saw our imperialism and empire building for what it was: terrorism. So they fought back with terrorism of their own, the same thing we'd do in their place. They're willing to fight a forever war and idiots like Dubya, O'Bomb'em, and the T-Rump (a small, confused, Twitter-loving T-rex) are also willing to fight a forever war forever, in spite of the obvious fact it will bankrupt us. All this foolishness did indeed undermine liberalism at home. Our rights are eroding, idiotic and brainwashed leftists are denying conservatives the right to speak, we are watching privacy vanish in a puff of NSA magic, we let fake news and Russia determine our election outcome. What's next, shower spy flies?

Fly #353242252 reporting: Citizen #312,756,972 doesn't seem to be hiding a thing—my conclusion is that she's clean; but just to be sure I think I'll hang around a bit longer!
Fly #353242252 reporting: Citizen #312,756,972 doesn't seem to be hiding a thing—my conclusion is that she's clean; but just to be sure I think I'll hang around a bit longer!