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HomeDefenceU.S. Supply of Cluster Bombs to Ukraine Shows Limitations of Liberalism

U.S. Supply of Cluster Bombs to Ukraine Shows Limitations of Liberalism


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The Joe Biden administration’s controversial decision to supply Ukraine with cluster munitions is a telling illustration of liberalism’s limitations as a guide to the U.S. foreign policy, reported Foreign Policy on Wednesday.

“The administration’s rhetoric extols the superiority of democracies over autocracies, highlights its commitment to a ‘rules-based order,’ and steadfastly maintains that it takes human rights seriously. If this were true, however, it would not be sending weapons that pose serious risks to civilians and whose use in Ukraine it has criticized harshly in the past,” said the report.

“But as it has on other prominent issues, those liberal convictions get jettisoned as soon as they become inconvenient,” it noted. “This behavior shouldn’t surprise us: When states are in trouble and worried that they might suffer a setback, they toss their principles aside and do what they think it takes to win.”

When they turn to foreign policy, therefore, liberals tend to divide the world into good states (those with legitimate orders based on liberal principles) and bad states (just about everything else) and blame most if not all the world’s problems on the latter, it said.

Liberalism allows Americans and their closest allies to tell themselves that what’s good for them will be good for everyone else as well, but it has at least two serious flaws: universalist pretensions and fragility of liberal convictions, which have prevented the success rate of U.S. foreign policy from any improvement, it added.


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