Saturday, February 21, 2004


I apologize to those of you who wrote to me but haven't received a reply. I really do like to hear from readers (some of whose letters I post), and I certainly read every letter I receive, but replying to them takes time. I'm sure that I could spend half of each day responding to letters. But that would leave little time for the other things that I need and want to do, such as prepare for my courses, write scholarly essays, read, run, play with my girls, and write blog entries. Something has to give. I'm afraid it's correspondence. The other day my inbox had swollen to more than 100 letters. Every day more were added. I kept thinking I'd start to answer them, perhaps at the rate of ten a day, but finally I gave up and deleted them. I did read every letter, so if you wrote to me, thank you. Richard Wolin on Jurgen Habermas on 9-11 Habermas's cosmopolitanism is, I think, too rigid. His rather pristine view of humanitarian intervention risks foundering on the question: how should one proceed in the event that multilateral institutions break down? One could argue that the German and French refusal to join the anti-Iraq coalition was less principled than the Anglo-American military intervention--which, after all, targeted for removal one of the twentieth century's most bloodthirsty and insidious tyrants. In September 2002, Gerhard Schroeder parlayed a brazen and thankless anti-Americanism into a semi-miraculous electoral triumph. Across the Rhine, Jacques Chirac took careful note of the domestic political gains to be won from playing the anti-American card. Since their first priority was the eminently "realist" goal of setting limits to American geopolitical reach, France and Germany were happy to let Saddam's brutal regime off the hook, thereby forsaking--or so one might argue--the precepts of humanitarian intervention that had been put to such outstanding use in Bosnia, Kosovo, and East Timor. Nor should one forget that in Kosovo, in order to forestall genocide, NATO was compelled to act in the absence of a Security Council resolution--to act unilaterally. On that occasion it was Russia that played an obstructionist role by threatening to block U.N. approval through use of its veto power. Sometimes liberal nationalism is the fallback position for a dysfunctional multilateralism. (Richard Wolin, "Kant at Ground Zero," review of Philosophy in a Time of Terror: Dialogues with Jurgen Habermas and Jacques Derrida, ed. by Giovanna Borradori, The New Republic: A Journal of Politics and the Arts 230 [9 February 2004]: 25-32, at 30)

No comments:

Post a Comment