Before continuing to Part Two of What Is To Be Done, let me respond very briefly to of the interesting responses to my open-ended post Some Questions. One of the anonymati refers me to a lengthy essay by Walt and Mearsheimer in which the authors offer at some length a policy framework they call Offshore Balancing. I do not disagree with the authors. As I indicated, I do not know what to think. But their essay at many points raises a question to which they do not provide an answer, and it is precisely the question [or more accurately set of questions] that leaves me without an answer to my questions.
The authors suggest intervening militarily in foreign lands only when America’s national interest is at stake. But that immediately raises the following questions: What [not who] is America? Does America have a national interest? What is that national interest? How is it decided whether there is such a thing as America’s national interest [not what that interest is, but whether it exists]? Is it, for example, in America’s national interest to see a balance of power maintained in the Middle East? Is that different from the question whether it is in my interest to see such a balance maintained? If I choose to take an interest in the economic development or political liberation of groups of men and women in the Occupied Territories, and if the democratic processes operating appropriately in America bring to power men and women who determine that it is in America’s national interest to support the current Israeli government, does that mean I am not really an American? Could California or Missouri or New Hampshire have a State Interest different from and taking precedence over America’s national interest?
In short, I do not find the underlying and unexamined assumptions of the Walt and Mearsheimer essay to be true. That, in a word, is why I am puzzled and why I raised Some Questions.