American internationalism vs. sensible realism: America’s terrible foreign policy

a restarting of the Cold War could be coming

WASHINGTON, May 8, 2014 —  It was Franklin Roosevelt who declared, when asked about the dictator of the Dominican Republic, Trujillo:

“He may be a sonofabitch, but he is OUR sonofabitch.”

Our foreign policy today in the Middle East and eastern Europe demonstrates the more or less complete triumph over the few remaining “realists” in the State Department by the influential Neoconservative internationalists, for whom the spread and imposition of universal “liberal democracy” and egalitarianism is paramount. Thus, we undercut dramatically our friends–like Mubarak of Egypt–all in the name of “democracy,” while a majority of nations in the world use that much abused word in very different contexts, with little resemblance to what most Americans mean by it.

The disasters that we have helped create due to our intemperate desire to foster and impose American-style corporate “democracy” around the globe–in Ukraine, in the former Yugoslavia (especially Kosovo), in Somalia, in Iraq, in Afghanistan, and, yes, in Israel/Palestine–are there for all to see (but too few actually do).

Yet those two self-appointed leaders of legislative Republican insanity, John McCain and Lindsey Graham, now nearly outbid the glassy-eyed “one-worlders” in the Democratic hierarchy for sheer internationalist chutzpah. Whether suggesting that the US become involved in countless new “hot wars” for a nebulous concept of “human rights”, or ratcheting up the tensions with increasingly Christian and traditionalist Russia, these types, and the Neoconservative “talking heads” in general (think Jonah Goldberg, Charles Krauthammer, etc.), bid well to involve this nation in continuing, and expensive, never-ending conflicts around the world.

The Obama-John Kerry State Department is not much better, and Hilary Clinton’s “argumentum ad Hitlerum,” comparing President Vladimir Putin of Russia to Hitler, indicates that she, too, has bought into that outdated and overheated Cold War rhetoric. Save for some traditionalist “paleocons” and Ron Paulians on the right, and some remaining anti-interventionists on the left, both political establishments have accepted this template.

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Hosni Mubarak, the keeper of peace with Israel, is gone, thanks in large part to a warped and dangerous American idealism. The Egyptian military, trained and supplied by us, stepped in to save that nation from Islamic extremists, while McCain and the administration complained loudly about the lack of “democracy” and “human rights.” Well, where were they when the Islamists committed massacres and persecuted Egypt’s millions of Coptic Christians? What about the severe civil and criminal abuses by the elected Morci regime?  And this was “democracy”?

And Syria? Wasn’t Assad the leader who supported the US in its first war against Saddam Hussein? And hasn’t he been the secular defender of Syria’s large Christian minority that was persecuted and attacked by those fanatical Islamist rebels supported by John McCain and Lindsey Graham?  Recall what happened in the Christian village of Maaloula, perhaps the oldest Christian settlement in the world where the language of the New Testament (Aramaic) is still spoken, when those “friends of liberal democracy” invaded.

The latest crusade by McCain, Graham, and company, with the hapless John Kerry in tow, is to attempt to restart the Cold War with Russia.

Never mind that since 1991 Russia has shed its Communist past, with Putin denouncing the crimes of the Gulag and the Katyn Forest massacres; never mind that he has embraced very traditional and Christian measures domestically, reviving an historic Russian and Orthodox religious heritage; never mind that Russia, after the 9/11 attacks, was the first nation to offer its assistance to the US in “the war against terror” (and was basically slapped in the face by the Bush Neocon foreign policy establishment).

No; after the fall of Communism, too many in our foreign policy establishment believed that, at last, we lived in a “unipolar” world where only “American values” of egalitarianism and liberal democracy had any right to exist. Russia’s legitimate desire for “partnership” was disdainfully rejected; and, perhaps more significantly, the idea that somehow Russian commerce and industry would escape subinfeudation to Wall Street globalism was just unthinkable.

Currently, despite the weakness of popular support for any enlarged American involvement in eastern Europe or in Syria, the Neocon/globalist foreign policy establishment which also dominates the major media and the political class, Democrat and Republican, alike, continues to ratchet up the potential conflict, possibly unleashing a new Cold War. For them Assad and Putin are (using their favorite epithets) “thugs” and “dictators.”

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But that shouldn’t deter some deeper and cautionary reflections. For the entire history of mankind, most folks have lived under governments that were, to put it mildly, “authoritarian.” And most of those societies prospered.

Indeed, many of the greatest rulers in history were absolute monarchs and men who governed without the apparatus of an elected parliament, congress, or Duma. Think Alexander the Great, Charlemagne, Justinian, Emperor Charles V, Saint Louis of France, and Peter the Great. In many cases, those leaders did well for their nations, as indeed the wisest of them understood that eventually the “people” had to be favored and helped to some degree–a state could not continue to prosper or exist if its population remained disgruntled and poor (or, potentially, revolutionary). The economy had to be strengthened and wealth had to be spread about. Hasn’t this been the case, for instance, of China?

Even more important here is an overriding principle that America, in this post-Communist, post-Cold War period, has apparently forgotten: where we have no direct vital interests, we should not be involved.

There is no giant “Communist bear” fighting us for every inch of the globe any more. There is, of course, Islamism, and it is precisely in confronting that growing threat that we let our interference in the Middle East and our blind support for the Israeli state (and all of its incursions, settler home building, etc.) warp what should be an even-handed and restrained approach. Israel, after all, is quite capable of taking good care of itself. Perhaps if we had been a bit more evenhanded from the beginning, the Islamist threat might be a bit less for us here in the continental US? And certainly, some of the “dictators” in that region of the world–Saddam Hussein, Mubarak, and others–might still be around to restrain that extremism.

American history is replete with examples of fanatical, quasi-religious “crusades”–abolitionism, prohibitionism, feminism, sexual egalitarianism—that when followed produce cataclysmic and unforeseen disasters. The Neoconservative mania to “impose” (Allan Bloom’s word) our increasingly corrupt form of liberal democracy and egalitarianism on the rest of the world is just the latest example of this mentality, and it has had and is having the same kind of disastrous results, here and abroad.

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  • petex

    Terribly ignorant.

  • Fargo Wells

    Despite claims by those opposing liberty, we are not free to change our moral standards without risking irreparable damage to civilization.