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Reblogged: A DIM History of American Foreign Policy, Part 3: Eisenhowe

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So how do you apply an otherworldly foreign policy in this world? How do you take the great ideal of “world peace” and bring it down to earth? Easy: worldly supernaturalism, or what Leonard Peikoff calls “M1.”

Once you have a mis-integrating umbrella concept that purports to apply everywhere at all times, and you try to apply it, its true contextual applicability becomes your great challenge. You inevitably find yourself trying to act in reality according to concepts that weren’t derived from reality, and you eventually come to a conceptual juncture: either dismiss reality, and become a cynic, or work to modify the abstractions in some measure to make them more useful.

Now, countries and cultures can maintain their allegiance to a mis-integrating thesis for a long time. As Leonard Peikoff discusses in the DIM Hypothesis, modes are resilient mental frameworks. They don’t have built in self-destruct buttons. Quite the contrary. They have sophisticated defense mechanisms within them to insulate them from negative outcomes by explaining them away, evading them, or metaphysically downgrading them. Modes are “anti-fragile.”

A good example of this is the calamity of the Crusades, a medieval M2 endeavor. (In my view, the Dark Ages were primarily non-modal, or what I call “U”–un-integrated. The people of this time were little more than brutes. But by the time 1095 rolled around the M2 mode had a significant hold on European culture, as illustrated by the modally laden conflict between popes and “holy Roman emperors,” which grew — as phenomena guided by human integration do — to encompass the relationship between popes and French kings, and popes and English kings…the church and the state in general.) Whether the Crusades went well or badly, the premise “God Wills It!” did not crack. If Christians won, He willed it. If Christians lost, He willed that too! There was certainly enough sin for the Church to point to, to shame people into maintaining modal compliance. The scale of a calamity, as long as it isn’t apocalyptic, does not upset an anti-fragile system.  A calamity is only a trigger for modal change, when there are powerful advocates of a new mode ready to take advantage of it.

In Europe, I think that only came about with the French Revolution, but — amazingly — in the DIM Hypothesis, Peikoff doesn’t have anything to say about this arguably most important event in human history! (Yes, the American Revolution is more important, as a positive step, but the French Revolution is much more influential on world culture. Was the Revolution D before its time? It certainly resulted in the dis-integration of many heads from their bodies! In my mind, it’s possible it was still M2. That’s one I really need to dig into. I suspect it was mixed, M1 — I don’t have an immediate answer to the question: Was Jean-Jacques Rousseau M2, M1, or D before Kant!? Anybody?)

Regardless, my point is that M2 is built to last.

Which is part of what fascinates me about the fact that Truman Doctrine M2 immediately became Eisenhower Doctrine M1 in American foreign policy. Just like that. A snap of the fingers! M2 out. M1 in.

The significance of the switch is something we’ll have to pursue at another juncture. Let me for the moment simply illustrate why Eisenhower was an M1 thinker…

The text I’m using to base this judgment is found here:

The first indication comes early:

“There are worldwide hopes which we can reasonably entertain, and there are worldwide responsibilities which we must carry to make certain that freedom–including our own–may be secure.”

Worldwide hopes — abstractions. Worldwide responsibilities — the application of abstractions to this world.

Another clue:

“There is…a special situation in the Middle East which I feel I should, even now, lay before you.”

Broad mis-integrating ideals are not much use by themselves. As a this-worldly user of ideas, Eisenhower found it helpful to reduce the scope of their application. Truman went from the particulars to the abstract. Eisenhower announces that we will be coming back down to Earth.

Of course, M1 respects M2, so Eisenhower bows to Truman’s ideals.

“Before doing so it is well to remind ourselves that our basic national objective in international affairs remains peace–a world peace based on justice. Such a peace must include all areas, all peoples of the world if it is to be enduring. There is no nation, great or small, with which we would refuse to negotiate, in mutual good faith, with patience and in the determination to secure a better understanding between us.”

But M1 does not cowtow. It is its own mode.

“…until a degree of success crowns our efforts that will assure to all nations peaceful existence, we must, in the interests of peace itself, remain vigilant, alert and strong.”

This world matters too. You need to carry a big stick!

Aiming to the support of the self-determination of Middle East nations (the ideal) AND to the containment of Soviet aggression (the harsh reality) how should America proceed?

“Our thoughts naturally turn to the United Nations as a protector of small nations.”

The ideal again.

“The United Nations can always be helpful, but it cannot be a wholly dependable protector of freedom when the ambitions of the Soviet Union are involved.”

Reality again.

“…The action which I propose would have the following features….

It would, first of all, authorize the United States to cooperate with and assist any nation or group of nations in the general area of the Middle East in the development of economic strength dedicated to the maintenance of national independence.

It would, in the second place, authorize the Executive to undertake in the same region programs of military assistance and cooperation with any nation or group of nations which desires such aid.

It would, in the third place, authorize such assistance and cooperation to include the employment of the armed forces of the United States to secure and protect the territorial integrity and political independence of such nations, requesting such aid, against overt armed aggression from any nation controlled by International Communism.

These measures would have to be consonant with the treaty obligations of the United States, including the Charter of the United Nations and with any action or recommendations of the United Nations. They would also, if armed attack occurs, be subject to the overriding authority of the United Nations Security Council in accordance with the Charter.”

The worldly supernaturalist Eisenhower contending with an M2 foreign policy handed down to him could do only what a worldly supernaturalist was by nature inclined to do. He began working out how the lofty abstractions of his predecessor could be applied to reality, alternating between more idealistic statements and pragmatic considerations, tilting one way and the other, as per his own M1 formula.

The Mossadegh crisis of 1953 and the Suez Canal crisis of 1956 demonstrate this M1 mode in action quite clearly. When Mossadegh threatened Western oil access, Eisenhower calculated that the threat of communism trumped the ideal of Iranian self-determination. Mossadegh was neutralized by the CIA. However, when France, Britain, and Israel threatened to “destabilize” the Middle East by taking over the Suez Canal, Eisenhower could see a way to be a supernaturalist and a realist at the same time. If Egypt was allowed to control its own destiny with Nasser at the helm, then Egypt would be appeased into staying out of the Soviet sphere. Eisenhower came down hard on his own allies, alienating them quiet significantly, but (arguably) achieving his regional aim.

The situation in Asia is also amenable to modal analysis.  What should one do about China?  Self-determination would required a “hands off” policy.  The rise of Mao, a radical intervention.  China’s sheer mass carried the day.  But Korea was not going to be handed over.  Self-determining South Koreans were going to get American help, if they didn’t want to become communist.  Of course, not to the point of actually saving all of Korea.  The harsh reality of Chinese and Soviet interest there would have to lead to a compromise between ideals and circumstances at the 38th parallel.

M1 was adaptable to both cases, and a modal understanding of Eisenhower is highly instructive in interpreting what to many people have been inconsistencies in his conduct. He was, in fact, not inconsistent. He was true to his mode in word and in deed.

Thus in rapid succession Truman committed America to M2, and, in light of the challenging realities inherent in the foreign policy sphere, Eisenhower tilted America’s mission to M1.

What came next is quite interesting. Any guesses?

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