Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Why Mongolia (4)

To continue this thread and perhaps clarify what I seem to have left ambiguous, let me note the following in response to the always thoughtful Yan:

The other day, I wrote: "As should be known by now, I'm with Double Toothpicks here: there are reasons for the US's cozying up to Mongolia that are for the US's own national interests." I didn't mean to imply that the airbase angle is the SOLE reason that the US is friends with Mongolia. Obviously, there are several reasons:

1) Support for Mongolia's contribution to the War on Terror

2) Building friendship with a country, an alliance with whom would add considerably to the US's own regional and global positioning.

3) Support for Mongolia as a new and successful democracy in that part of the world

4) Giving Mongolia a shot in the arm by giving it good press and bringing it into the international spotlight.

But note: the two dominant ones (#1 and #2)--those without which Bush wouldn't have visited Mongolia in the first place--are strongly American interests. If it weren't for #1 and #2 on the following list, #3 and #4 would never have been sufficient to earn Mongolia a presidential visit. In other words, American self-interest (which may be and are shared by other countries) are the driver of American foreign policy. This is the case with just about every country everywhere (one notable exception is Europe, where countries are apparently giving up on their own national interest for those of a greater Europe), so I don't see why this should be a surprise to anyone.

Of course, there are also altrusitic motives that the US apparently has with re: democracy and freedom. But even then, if democracy and freedom abroad were sharply against American interests, I sincerely doubt that America would be quite so involved in promoting them in the world. Eventually, everything in politics (and perhaps beyond) boils down to some kind of self-interest. I'm not saying that this is the way things should be, but that's the way I think they are. There you are. I hope I'm clear this time.

Note: This response is also posted in the comments section of the post that prompted it.


Blogger yan said...

The most important reason is probably that Bush just was in the area. ;)

11/30/2005 9:01 AM  
Anonymous Nathan Hamm said...

I don't think #2 is the least bit important. The last thing the US needs or wants is to be in a situation of potentially having to defend Mongolia. It's too hard to get to. And in almost any imaginable scenario in which the US would want to use airbases there for offensive capabilities, the planes would have hostile territory that would probably deny overflight rights (if not be seeking to shoot them down were they the hypothetical targets).

#1 & #4 are where I'd put my money. In fact, #4 is one of the Col. Wilhelm's pillars of the defense relationships.

11/30/2005 7:28 PM  
Blogger Garrett said...

Why must everything be so cynical? Hasn't anyone heard of diplomacy? One might argue that all diplomacy has at least a thread of self interest, which is not a bad thing.

11/30/2005 8:09 PM  
Blogger nabetz said...

Nathan, Robert Kaplan has actually also weighed in on #2, apparently drawing on Col. Wilhelm himself. See more in my post and comment (scroll down) here:

12/01/2005 5:47 PM  
Blogger Mashift said...

My friends,
First of all, thank you for your interest in Mongolia and helping me for my studies. I closely observe what you guys say about mongolia and I frequently cite your discussions in my papers as well.
Hereby, I just wanted to share my humble ideas about Mongolian developmental and security issues.
What you guys think about the impact in six party dialogue on North Korean nuclear weapon if Mongolia jumps to that diologue and makes it seven party?

3/10/2008 11:06 PM  
Blogger samraat said...

4/04/2010 9:39 PM  
Anonymous Via Nomada said...

Thank you for this really interesting blog!

5/23/2011 2:09 AM  

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