Articles

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

America Has No Foreign Policy

The United States of America has a State Department, it has row after row of people who speak badly every language from Arabic to Swahili badly, and it has rich donors who take on the task of acting as ambassadors to some foreign country every four to eight years. There are think-tanks, actual tanks and institutes dedicated to turning out papers on foreign policy. And despite all this, or perhaps because of all this, the country still has no foreign policy.

Americans are by nature isolationist. American leaders, since Woodrow Wilson dumped ashes from his pipe on the Oval Office carpets and dumped America into the international game of empires, are bent on getting involved in world politics. Unfortunately everything they know about world politics comes from the back of cereal boxes. And yes that includes our current precious genius who comes to us from eating dog and living the life of a privileged member of Indonesia's upper classes, but knows almost as little about the world outside Chicago, as he does about economics.

The big problem with American foreign policy is that there isn't one. Our current foreign policy can be boiled down to three words. "Don't Hate Us." The current administration has introduced an innovative fourth word. "Please."

It's a long way from a century ago when American leaders still had no foreign policy, besides warning European countries to stay out of their hemisphere, but had begun to think that being involved in the affairs of other countries was a prerequisite for global good citizenship.

Theodore Roosevelt won a Nobel Prize for trying to get the Russians and Japanese to end a disastrous war in which the Japanese had the suicide determination and the Russians had the machine guns, but barely broke even.

Roosevelt, like many of his successors, had no true foreign policy beyond articulating American greatness on the world stage. But the deeper those successors involved themselves in international politics, the more they came to see American greatness as the obstacle, not the point. The more the United States became involved in organizing global alliances to hold back one threat or another, the more that same national greatness began to be seen as an obstacle to maximizing those alliances.

A hundred years ago, American presidents thought that their country should be a world power because of the manifest destiny of its national greatness. A century later they were minimizing that national greatness to preserve world power status.

Roosevelt's "Pedicaris alive or Raisuli dead" became "Let's Pull Together" and "Don't Hate Us" during the Cold War. And today the motto, in a world where a whole lot of people want to do it, is, "Please Don't Kill Us."

The United States does not appease in pursuit of its objectives, appeasement has become the objective. Being hated is the ultimate national security threat. Being loved is the ultimate national security objective. These aren't even sarcastic observations. They are actual policy.

CVE (Countering Violent Extremism) through outreach to Muslims is our foreign policy and like global warming and gay rights, it encompasses every single area of our government, to the absurd extent that NASA's top priority under the dog-eater-in-chief was designated as improving Muslim self-esteem. NASA's former priority of boosting American self-esteem was no longer appropriate because that would just make people hate us even more and make us act in such a way that they would hate us.

Americans and American leaders now both want the same thing. To be left alone. But American leaders remain convinced that the best way to be left alone is to appease those who might want to attack their country by minimizing national power and contributing more lunch money to their international cause of free lunches.

America is often accused of bullying other nations, but our policies are not those of a bully, they are those of his victim cowering in the corner with broken glasses and smeared tears, one hand extended with his crumpled up lunch money inside. Our lunch money total comes into the many billions, but as our bullies and their advocates remind us, we're rich enough to be able to afford it.

The kid in the corner has been bullied enough that his only policy is avoiding another incident. That is our foreign policy, driven by CVE or Here's Some More Halal Lunch Money, finding ways of getting the bullies to leave us alone. Even the more militant elements of our military campaign are defensive, ripe with ways to convince the bullies to leave us alone, using drones to minimize civilian casualties and nation building exercises to turn our bullies into friendly peaceloving countries.

Reactive foreign policies are a recipe for defeat, but America has never had any foreign policy beyond progressive world citizenship and coalition building against global threats. And that has made American into the world's social worker and the world's policeman for so long that it has hardly any sense of what it might want for itself, as a country.

America is still involved in global citizenship projects even though the dictatorships who are the plurality of the global polity and the progressives who define global citizenship innately hate it. while working hard at maintaining global coalitions that do not exist against a threat that not even it is prepared to name. Whatever relevance these had, they no longer have any relevance when the conventional clash of nations of the Cold War gave way to the ride of the barbarians in the Islamic Wars of Terror.

The United States has been suckered into playing the same game as Israel. The impossible game of winning wars without alienating anyone. And that game is played by not winning wars and being more hated than if they had won all those wars. If we are forced to fight because we are hated, then the only way to avoid fighting is not be hated which means fighting just enough to survive, but not enough to earn us any more than the minimum amount of hate balanced against the minimum amount of survival. And if we win, maybe they'll leave us alone. If they don't, we'll fight back even less.

During the Cold War the United States sacrificed its economy, its trade balance and its manufacturing sector to score coalition points and contain Communism. With Communism defeated and capitalism thriving in Russia and China, the United States is now stripping away civil liberties to counter Islamic terrorism. But that doesn't just mean strip searches in airports, it means outlawing anything that offends Muslims. And if we survive that, and the Muslim world becomes a mecca of free speech, then we'll have won yet another Pyrrhic victory at our own expense.

Countering external threats is a legitimate foreign policy interest, but it cannot be the only interest. That way leads to a purely reactive foreign policy and down the garden path to Stockholm Syndrome politics that accept responsibility for the actions of an aggressor to maintain the illusion of control over his actions. Our leaders, the ones who eat dogs and the ones who just pose for photos with them, are already there. If we reach European critical velocity, then we'll be there as an entire nation, not just members of our chattering and spending classes.

America needs a foreign policy that is bigger than its defensive needs but smaller than progressive ambitions of global citizenship. It is a foreign policy that cannot be defensive or altruistic, but that actually resurrects the long buried question of American interests, rather than American obligations or needs. And to get there, the country's policymakers have to get in touch with their 19th Century selves and stop asking what America is obligated to do for the world or what it desperately needs from the world, but what it would like to do with the world.

That is the way that Russia or China think. It's the way that most countries, from the largest rivals to the smallest islands, approach the outside world, not as a place that they are obligated to or whom they dare not offend, but as a place for extending their ambitions and sense of self into. That does not mean going on a spree of territorial expansionism, necessarily, but that too would be a healthier way to function than the listless apathy of appeasement that has overtaken American foreign policy.

A foreign policy is assertive. It seeks to gain things, rather than to minimize losing things. It is not as concerned with the feelings of the world, as it is with the feelings of its own citizens. To the question of what it wants, it does not answer with the time-honored response of Miss America contestants, to make the world a better place, but rather it answers to make America better, bigger, richer and stronger. That answer is not idealistic, it is realistic. It is how other countries expect us to think and it is how they react no matter how altruistic our policies may be.

American foreign policy needs goals and horizons to gain definition. It needs to want something more than a way to avert the next big explosion or to feed the hungry people of Warlordistan to have a foreign policy that is based on substance, rather than cobwebs of fears and dreams. It needs to stand not for a better world, but for a better, stronger and richer America.

19 comments:

lemon lime moon said...

America got suckered into policing and protecting the world while allowing itself to go down the drain.
Our best self defense would start with a strong manufacturing base and a balanced budget.

Leo said...

@lemon lime moon
Our best self defense would start with a strong manufacturing base and a balanced budget.

Strong manufacturing base weakened and budget became unbalanced for a reason. And without honest in-depth analysis of that reason and subsequent adequate reaction trying to deal with manufacturing and budget would be like trying to cure symptoms and not a disease.

Marcel said...

One of the first things to go under the process of empire collapse is any coherent foreign policy.
It all becomes the aimless wanderings of a drunken man.

Job 12
'He takes away the understanding of the chiefs of the people of the earth,And makes them wander in a pathless wilderness.
They grope in the dark without light,And He makes them stagger like a drunken man.

And overthrows the mighty.
He deprives the trusted ones of speech,And takes away the discernment of the elders.
He pours contempt on princes,And disarms the mighty.
He uncovers deep things out of darkness,And brings the shadow of death to light.
He makes nations great, and destroys them....

Ravis said...

It would be a mistake to underestimate the deliberateness of this administration's foreign policy. They are rejecting the traditional view by which you judge them, much as they reject traditional America itself. They are collectivists, globalists. They are certainly not aimless.

Anonymous said...

Daniel, what an excellent article on our very neither present nor accounted for Dissembler-in-Chief.

Leo said...

Some random thoughts: let's assume that the worst (or the best, depending on perspective) happened, some actual video and audio and other records and materials came to light, which proved beyond the shadow of doubt the true anti-american nature of this regime, and the true anti-american nature of this dear leader. And then what, suddenly the hell breaks loose, media exposure, imminent impeachment, change of power, some riots etc .. or just nothing?

Leo said...

America needs a foreign policy that is bigger than its defensive needs but smaller than progressive ambitions of global citizenship. It is a foreign policy that cannot be defensive or altruistic, but that actually resurrects the long buried question of American interests, rather than American obligations or needs. And to get there, the country's policymakers have to get in touch with their 19th Century selves and stop asking what America is obligated to do for the world or what it desperately needs from the world, but what it would like to do with the world.

Rarely truer words were spoken. And the thought of what would be required of current country's policymakers to even grasp the meaning of this fragment of text fills me with dark pessimism.

SFMEDIC said...

Lets not forget that Roosevelt also ushered in the era of Progressives, Unions and other Communist ideals. Between Lincoln and Roosevelt the stage was set to dismantle the Constitution. All that was needed was for Carter and Obama to show up.

Adam Greenfield said...

Leo- If they found a video of Obama, Clinton, Biden, Soros, Aires and others dicussing how they wanted to destroy America and rebuild it as a Socialist Empire, the media would just claim it wsa taken out of context and it's just part of a Vast Rightwing Conspiracy.

There is currently plenty of smoking guns out there, yet the media doesn't care enough to ask questions.

Kurt said...

There is currently plenty of smoking guns out there...

And to also respond to Leo...

Each time another smoking gun appears I think to myself "NOW they'll get it." But they don't. I wish for but no longer expect a "come to Jesus" moment among Democrats. Even if all three branches were solidly Leftist you'd never get enough "OMG, look what we did. Maybe it is our fault" to make a difference.

moshe said...

The best foreign policy for America would actually be a return to Monroe's foreign policy. Absolute control over the Western hemisphere, with a long-term goal of extending American borders until they stretch uninterrupted from the Bering Strait to the Straits of Magellan. And hang the Eastern hemisphere.

Dennis Latham said...

I have to disagree with this article, which hasn't happened yet. But I think the 5th element figure head in office knows exactly what he is doing in the Middle East. No one will ever convince me that the Arab Spring was a spontaneous uprising on the same day in each country. It was planned and executed, and in the process eliminated leaders, who were weak allies, but still allies in a part of the world going quickly to radical Muslims. Anyone who believed the uprisings were for democracy is delusional. Right after Eqypt fell, the women were told to go home and shut up. Now, in Syria, we are going to arm the same Islamists we are fighting in Afghanistan, all under the direction of Obama and those who pull his strings. And most people in America don't care because most don't even know where Syria is and probaly think it's part of Long Island. Our foreign policy is to make the Middle East one big Islamic state and to destroy the United States by making our troops fight enemies that we arm. The whole damn thing is ridiculous while back home Obamacare will systematically wipe out the lower classes and the all the baby boomers.

George J. said...

Yup. Pretty spot on. The US is expected to look after everyone else's interests before their own, while other countries are expected to look after only their own, especially if it's at the expense of the US's.
America even mildly pursuing something in their interest inevitably incurs the wrath of the Leftist Marxists (although many are unaware that they are Marxist, they just think they're being principled and "anti-colonialists" - I would know, I used to be one).

Doug Mayfield said...

In order to have a foreign policy, a country must have values. What should be our national values, freedom and individual rights and the corollary, limited government, have slowly, surely, steadily, vanished from America over the last 100 years.

It is no surprise that with a dealer in Socialist poison in the White House, who embraces dictators world wide, Communist, (Chavez, Castro), Fascist/Communist (Putin),
Islamic (Morsi, Ahmadinejad, the Saudi Royals), our foreign policy is appeasement to those dictators.

It will take an intellectual revolution in America to put our foreign policy back on its feet. Before we look after our own interests, we have to have some, other than groveling to the latest tyrant, Islamic and otherwise.

Lakota47 said...

The muslims has the same policy as the US had when they took the land away from the American Indian. One territory at a time with broken treaties from one end of the US to the other. If this Muslim President does not stand up to this Islamic invasion then we'll all be on reservations with the women that are so liberial minded at this point wearing Burkas.

Empress Trudy said...

On the upside, in the longer run the Arab states will all destroy themselves in a systematic program that will make Stalin's Ukrainian famine look amateurish. With their imaginary new 'freedom' the population will explode right at the time all the oil and money runs out. In the meantime they haven't built any infrastructure, haven't educated anyone and they went on a program reminiscent of Pol Pot's liquidation of everyone who could read.

Sounds like a plan. I mean that. Carry on, full speed ahead. And take a few EU states down with you.

in the vanguard said...

"America" only has a domestic policy only - to destroy itself.

SobrietyMatters said...

Thought provoking article, as usual, here. Takes my thoughts down the road to Domestic Policy. Do we know what our domestic policy is any more than we know where our foreign policy stands? Wow, sobering, isn't it.

Time to pick a cause everybody and support it. Action speaks louder than words. There are many causes to choose from. Just search "conspiracy theories". Where ever you see those two words, what comes after it is usually truth.

Thomas said...

In reply to moshe:

How can borders be “expanded” when we cannot even define and or defend the borders we currently have. Moreover, the La Raza disciples in our government believe borders are inherently "racist." You’ll have to expel those traitors first, starting with Maria Solis, head of the Labor Department.

We have a long way to go before the Monroe policy of foreign affairs could ever be reinstated.

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