Tuesday, November 20, 2007

American Hegemon

Mark Steyn:
"...But on this Thanksgiving the rest of the world ought to give thanks to American national sovereignty, too. When something terrible and destructive happens – a tsunami hits Indonesia, an earthquake devastates Pakistan – the United States can project itself anywhere on the planet within hours and start saving lives, setting up hospitals and restoring the water supply.

Aside from Britain and France, the Europeans cannot project power in any meaningful way anywhere. When they sign on to an enterprise they claim to believe in – shoring up Afghanistan's fledgling post-Taliban democracy – most of them send token forces under constrained rules of engagement that prevent them doing anything more than manning the photocopier back at the base.

If America were to follow the Europeans and maintain only shriveled attenuated residual military capacity, the world would very quickly be nastier and bloodier, and far more unstable. It's not just Americans and Iraqis and Afghans who owe a debt of thanks to the U.S. soldier but all the Europeans grown plump and prosperous in a globalized economy guaranteed by the most benign hegemon in history.

That said, Thanksgiving isn't about the big geopolitical picture, but about the blessings closer to home. Last week, the state of Oklahoma celebrated its centennial, accompanied by rousing performances of Rodgers and Hammerstein's eponymous anthem:

"We know we belong to the land

And the land we belong to is grand!"

Which isn't a bad theme song for the first Thanksgiving, either.

Three hundred and 86 years ago, the Pilgrims thanked God because there was a place for them in this land, and it was indeed grand. The land is grander today, and that, too, is remarkable: France has lurched from Second Empires to Fifth Republics struggling to devise a lasting constitutional settlement for the same smallish chunk of real estate, but the principles that united a baker's dozen of East Coast colonies were resilient enough to expand across a continent and halfway around the globe to Hawaii."


Absolute brilliance in this column. To often do we forget what the United States has done for the world.
Or perhaps a better way to term it:
What would this world be like without the United States?
How would this world be different without a peaceful empire of liberty stretching from the foamy shores of the Atlantic to the shining coast of the Pacific, with Texas in the middle?


Happy thanksgiving ya'll.

21 comments:

Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Mark Steyn says some good things sometimes.

Good to see you again.

Palm boy said...

This is the first I've read of him, but I liked this a lot.

Thanks Matt, Glad to be back.

Gino said...

"How would this world be different without a peaceful empire of liberty "

empires, by nature, cannot be pacifist.

Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Gino, ever heard the term Pax Romana?

under_the_mercy said...

Pax Romana was more a Romanization of the western world then an era of peace. It was filled with assassinations, tyranny, rebellions, etc. i.e. the Hebrew revolt of 70 A.D.

"When something terrible and destructive happens – a tsunami hits Indonesia, an earthquake devastates Pakistan – the United States can project itself anywhere on the planet within hours and start saving lives, setting up hospitals and restoring the water supply."

Why should our government have the power to force us to give? Though it has now, by a series of laws been made legal this is truly no different than stealing. Yes, we should give to the poor and needy, but we should not be compelled to do so, especially with money designated toward our country’s needs. Charity is the responsibility of the individual, not the government. Frederic Bastiat wrote an amazing booklet which I highly recommend entitled “The Law” wherein he addresses this very problem which he calls “legal plunder”. He described legal plunder as when

“…the law takes from some persons what belongs to them, and gives it to other persons to whom it does not belong… the law benefits one citizen at the expense of another by doing what the citizen himself cannot do without committing a crime”

This is, in fact, no less then socialism.

Take a look at our government’s massive foreign aid program. i.e. in response to the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake, we donated 2,825 billion U.S.D.

I am reminded of the preamble of our Constitution which states

“We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

Notice the words “domestic” “common” and “general” are all referring to U.S. citizens.

Gino said...

"peaceful empire of liberty "

liberty, only if you mean taking from some to give to the politically appropriate, or using empire to prop up a forign regime that keeps others down, like our defense of israel even after they've done their ethnic cleansing policy, the same kind of policy we warred against yoguslavia over,

Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Under the Mercy, you are being far too ideological.

Politics is politics.

If a country gives aid to another country, it buys influence. That means power.

Maybe you dont like the idea of a poweful state, but the Russians and the Chinese do.

If the USA fails to exercise power in the world, the Russians and the Chinese will fill the vacuum.

Forget ideology. The Chinese dont care about it, so why should the west?

God Bless

Matthew

Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Gino, the middle east is a complex place.

The Israelis have done questionable things, but their neighbours have done and will do worse.

If the USA does not support Israel, she will be under risk from her neighbours. That would be an unacceptable lack of balance in middle east politics.

The USA needs to maintain her support for Israel, but at the same time do everything possible to maintain negotiation between the hostile parties there.

God Bless

Matthew

Gino said...

if israel should fall, why should it matter in terms of US influence?
the arab states have plenty of division amongst themselves for us to empiracally exploit.

israel is a welfare child. its benefits to us are minimal.
what she does for us startegically is only a fraction of the trouble her existence causes directly.

my position: if the jews want to live there, they have to fight it out with the indigenous themsleves instead of dragging 'big brother' into their squabble, at much great expense to big brother's own people.

Palm boy said...

Gino, I think that your record of the Isreal/Arab conflict, and the US involvement with it, is a little skewed.
In my lifetime, at least, the US has been actively involved in stopping the Isrealies from destroying Palestine, and bringing 'peace accord' after 'peace accord' into place. The actual effect has been naught but ceding land from Israeli territory into Arab hands.

Why does Israel matter? A friend is a friend. Much like Pakistan has helped in our War on Terror, Israel and ourselves, in general, share the same enemies. No reason to disband an ally of ours.

Matt, I think your point regarding ideology is absolutely valid.
If the United States does not exert a power across the globe, then both the Russians, who are longing for a return to the days of the Soviet Empire, and the Chinese, who are in a prime position, in the event of a vacuum, to fill in with a tyrannical global power.

'Empire of Liberty' is a term I use, refering to the scope and magnitude of the US, as well as the liberty we enjoy as US citizens.
Compared to Rome or Istanbul, or the Persians, even the British during her colonial rule, the United States is a bastion of liberty, the likes of which the world has not seen.

Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Getting theological for just a second, we are living in the times of the Gentiles, in which the world scene is domminated by Gentile empires.

Empires a the way the world works.

The modern nation state is a recent creation.

For centuries, a major part of mankind lived under the rule of multi-ethnic empires. Some were nasty, some were benevolent.

This is a political reality that we have to accept, rather than insisting on an ideological commitment to national self-determination and non-interventionism.

Every Blessing in Christ

Matt

Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Gino, what would happen if Israel were destroyed?

There would be a major power inbalance in the middle east. Such a situation could be potentially explosive. Maintaining a stable balance of power in the middle eaast is an end in itself.

God Bless

Matt

under_the_mercy said...

Pardon me, but could you be a little more specific concerning what exactly I am being ideological about? What I attempted to present was an argument for a non-interventionist foreign policy, and that is certainly not idealistic. Yes politics is politics, and aid buys influence but you must weigh the cost : benefit ratio. In the case of my example concerning the earthquake what did we get in return worth 2,825 billion?

What do we get from Israel worth 3 billion a year and a heck of a lot of grants? Israel was not even a country until after WWII, what “lack of balance” would result from Israel’s assimilation into the Arab countries? If Israel were to fall one of the major causes of strife (Israel as a nation) in that area of the world would cease to exist. You must also realize that we will never be able to resolve the Arab – Israeli conflict, it will continue until the tribulation ends (Isaac and Ishmael).

Assuming you are right and the Russians and the Chinese acquire vast influence around the globe, so what? As you said politics is politics and commerce will go on.

Palm Boy, I believe you would benefit from a deeper investigation of U.S. International affairs, including what OTHER countries say about us. However, I must stress that the point is not whether or not we are doing good around the world, but that we are doing. Most American’s think a democratic republic is the best form of government, around the world this opinion is not so widely shared. What would you think if another country came in and tried to make our country a monarchy saying it was for our own good. What right do we have to force (and I do mean force) our opinions upon others.

I believe my point concerning legal plunder stands.

Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Under the Mercy, the cost of the aid is meaningless unless considered withint the context of what other countries were spending.

If the USA ceased to give overseas aid, there would be serious political implications.

"What would you think if another country came in and tried to make our country a monarchy saying it was for our own good. What right do we have to force (and I do mean force) our opinions upon others."

This is my whole point about ideology.

There is no such thing as rights.

It is only through power that rights are lost or enforced.

If such an incident as you suggest occured, who could stop it?

But if the USA can benefit from forcing its will on other countries they should do so and none may say unto them, 'What doest thou?'

SolaMeanie said...

The comments from Mark Steyn are all the more interesting because he's an expatriate Brit.

I haven't popped in here in several days, and look what I miss. A great kerfuffle. I wish I had time to participate in the discussion. I will say this, though. I think the American Constitution is worth keeping, and I wish today's American leaders would pay more attention to it.

I am all for upholding the principles of liberty, but we need to be careful about trying to impose it in regions of the world where there is no tradition of it. Some people aren't ready to handle American-style democracy.

Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Indeed, Solameanie.

That is why America needs to assist dictators who act in her interest like Musharaf.

Securing national interests must always come before ideological concerns about liberty and democracy.

under_the_mercy said...

D.F.

you seem to be rejecting any absolute basis for right and wrong and advocating that might makes right?

Did I interprete you correctly,
Or are you simply stating that that is the way the rest of the world views things.

Also, could you please be more specific concerning "serious political implications" I find it difficult to have a rational discussion while such vague terms are used.

I must admit I find your final comment extremely disquieting.

"Securing national interests must always come before ideological concerns about liberty and democracy."

Would not this reasoning eventually lead to a total reformation of the government toward tyranny, anarcny, etc. (of course this is of no consequence if my initial interpretation of your comment was correct.)

Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Under the Mercy, I am a Christian. I believe that there is absolute right and wrong.

But there is no absolute set of values by which we can do politics.

The political scene is as we find it.

This world is Satan's kingdom. There is no Christian way to do politics. The Bible supplies us with no political programme.

The USA is a good country. It is in the interest of my own country to ally with it.

"Would not this reasoning eventually lead to a total reformation of the government toward tyranny, anarcny, etc. (of course this is of no consequence if my initial interpretation of your comment was correct.)"

There is already plenty of tyranny and anarchy in the world.

The more powerful countries of the world will generally act in their own interest. The USA has tended to seek a kind of abstract moral good. That is fine as long as this does not lead to the Russians and the Chinese getting the better of her.

I think political realism is called for.

"Serious political implications"

I cannot be much more than vague. We were discussing an hypothetical situation.

If America did cease to give aid, nobody can be sure exactly what would happen.

However, the USA woud lose influence among the countries who benefit from aid and from those that might need aid in the future.

The USA would also loose negotiating strengh with the countries that were willing to give aid. That could lead to military and economic disadvangtages.

Every Blessing in Christ

Matthew

SolaMeanie said...

Matt,

I am scanning this very late after doing a radio program, so I hope to respond more in time. I might even do it in a post at my own blog, because what you said is worthy of in-depth discussion. Specifically, "There is no Christian way to do politics. The Bible supplies us with no political programme."

I disagree strongly. The Bible gives us very clear principles and a worldview, and it is from those principles and worldview that Christian voters/public servants derive their platforms.

Now, while I disagree, I cannot blame you for such an understanding as the traditions of our country are different, despite the fact that England is our Mother Country. In Europe, there has been a long-standing idea that religion and politics are separate. It has not historically been that way in the United States until fairly recently. When you hear the term "separation of church and state," that was in the Soviet constitution, but never the American one.

I hope to flesh this out more as I have time, but do give it a rethink. If you think about it in terms of the change of heart the Holy Spirit brings about in a believer, and the way that Christian values work themselves out in both individual life and in community, this has a domino effect on society. When Christians are elected to public office, the values a Christian office holder has should ultimately affect the way he or she conducts themselves, votes, advocates, etc.

Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

I believe that Christian values can make a big influence on politics. Great Britain has benefited from the moral influence of Protestantism and the Bible.

However, I would challenge you to find any kind of ideology or political programme in the Bible.

The Bible tells us nothing about whether foreign aid is acceptable.

Some people try to argue that Christianity should be pro-welfare or anti-welfare and can give the proof texts, but they are attempting to cross a major cultural gulf between different kinds of societies.

Every Blessing in Christ

Matt

under_the_mercy said...

My comment referring to tyranny and anarchy was referring to the U.S., not other countries.

"This world is Satan's kingdom. There is no Christian way to do politics. The Bible supplies us with no political program."

I hold that there is a Christian way to do everything, God and the Bible should invade and control every part of our life without exception. While you are correct that the Bible gives no specific program for politics, the morals and values in the Bible should still be applied. Take for example Israel, God set down certain rules by which they were to run their country. In the present day such ideas as liberty and justice hold in the same way.

Based upon our (US) constitution and biblical principles, I see no justification for the government to force its citizens to give their tax dollars to help another country out of economic distress. This is no different then stealing and socialism.

"The USA would also loose negotiating strength with the countries that were willing to give aid. That could lead to military and economic disadvantages."

By military advantages do you mean such things as our (US) military bases still stationed in Germany from WWII? If so then yes, we would lose them, but I believe them to be detrimental to our country in the long run anyway.

As for economic advantages, I do not believe there would be any serious change, business is business, and trade will go on.