The Revival of the Liberal Order, 3/29
I don't see it happening
One of the conceits of the center-left and center-right commentary on the Ukraine situation is that the international liberal order is going to revive. On the contrary, I see it eroding further.
Start with the pre-existing trend to erode the liberal order within the West.
When congressional Republicans attacked attorneys for representing Guantanamo detainees, for example, the entire profession rallied around them. The American Civil Liberties Union noted that John Adams took pride in representing British soldiers accused of taking part in the Boston Massacre, calling it “one of the best pieces of service I ever rendered to my country.”
But that’s not how the new associates saw Boies’s choice to represent Weinstein. They thought there were certain people you just did not represent—people so hateful and reprehensible that helping them made you complicit. The partners, the old-timers—pretty much everyone over 50—found this unbelievable. That wasn’t the law as they had known it. That wasn’t America.
Read the entire sobering piece.
Concerning the use of financial sanctions to crack down on the Canadian trucker protest, Michael Young writes,
When the government can bring a person’s practical participation in society to a standstill with the push of a button, it becomes silly to even talk about individual rights or due process. In the face of this new kind of push-button power, exercised at the whim of the governing party with zero legal oversight, individuals can simply be deleted from the system—even if, technically speaking, they are never charged with or convicted of a crime.
Now turn to the international scene. As Zvi Mowshowitz points out,
Samo Burja has been the primary plausibly objective advocate I know about for Russia’s military being competent and for the expectation of a Russian victory, and the only one to back up this claim with a lot of detailed information, as well as predictions that Western sanctions would backfire.
The Zvi goes on to criticize Burja’s position. Instead, it appears that those who see Russia as suffering humiliation and defeat are more likely to turn out to be correct.
Assuming that Russia is chastened and no nuclear escalation takes place, we are entitled to be happy with the outcome. But I do not believe that optimism about the liberal order is warranted.
If our goal was to impede Russia’s aggression, a ban on exports to Russia of any militarily useful items would have been appropriate. But sanctions that are intended to hurt the Russian people rather than Mr. Putin’s military power are sanctions that I cannot support.
But if Russia comes out of this badly, many people who supported broad sanctions will step forward to take credit. The next time someone does something they don’t like, such as protesting against a government policy, economic sanctions against the protesters will be high on the list of options for dealing with dissent.
Will the rest of the world now be motivated to join the liberal order? Do you see that happening in China? Iran? Or will those countries instead be more motivated to strengthen their armed forces and advance their nuclear weapons capabilities?
In a true liberal order, your status rises with your ability to persuade. In an illiberal order, your status rises with your ability to conform and coerce. The Fantasy Intellectual Teams project was consistent with a liberal order. Our current media environment is not. We are rewarding soldiers, not scouts.