Saturday, April 11, 2009

Pax Americana Fugit?

by Smitty

Philo of over at The View from Alexandria posts a review of the POTUS world tour and summarizes:
it became clear that, as Caroline Glick says in a brilliant article, Obama was announcing that America will no longer act as the world’s policeman. Pax Americana is over.

By all means, pay attention to the lips. But do not ignore the wallet. At the moment, the US still allocates the lion's share of the global defense budget. Past performance is no guarantee of future outlays, however. Badly as some might wish to resurrect the Monroe Doctrine, the rest of the world may not permit it. You can't have tsunami relief without a navy, for example. And how do you fund the chronic boredom while you await the acute crisis?
Philo'a analysis gets more critical:
There are several lessons to take away from all this, I think. First, it’s become clear that the left really is fundamentally hostile to human freedom. Leftists talk as if they are the defenders of civil liberties, human rights around the globe, etc. Yet in every global conflict they take the side of those who quash civil liberties and violate human rights. I can only conclude that the talk is either insincere or based on the foolish fantasy that if the United States were friendly to bullies they would stop being bullies and become like us.
Come on, Philo: the Renaissance and Enlightenment were but fads. We now have the velvet handcuffs of Socialism to give us happiness in slavery. Lighten up and dig the cookbook, man.
Second, the Obama administration is at best naive, operating on the basis of such a fantasy. But it may something much worse than that. Glenn Reynolds famously said about some opponents of the war in Iraq: “they’re not anti-war; they’re just on the other side.” Think about the peace movement of the 1920s and 1930s. Some of those people were naive, thinking that if Britain and the United States disarmed and made enough concessions to Lenin, Stalin, Mussolini, and Hitler, there would be peace. But some were Soviet or Nazi sympathizers. Some were Soviet agents. Is Obama naive enough to think that if America disarms and appeases aggressors they will stop being aggressors? Or does he want the aggressors to win? Is he, in short, on the other side?
If he is Gödel's incompleteness theorem applied to the US Constitution, then we have to calmly admit that we got here over decades. Then we have to rip our eyes away from the inferior distractions like the League of Ordinary Milquetoasts and muster at the Tea Party for some principled, Constitutional opposition. Toughen up for the 2010 elections. This administration is only the Thing That Should Not Let It Be if we do nothing.(Stacy will flog me for that, no doubt)


  1. It's like I've died and gone to R'lyeh.

  2. "Badly as some might wish to resurrect the Monroe Doctrine, the rest of the world may not permit it. You can't have tsunami relief without a navy, for example."

    What does not having a navy have to do with the Monroe Doctrine? The Monroe Doctrine was the reason for building our Navy in the first place. A.T. Mahan and T.R. never doubted that the Monroe Doctrine was still our core strategic doctrine, and in their view expansion of it was justified chiefly on the grounds of protecting its integrity. It is a huge misconception that a grand strategy centered on the Monroe Doctrine amounts to isolationism. Our problem is that not that our current strategies see overseas affairs as important, but that we (or rather the foreign policy elites who run things) currently see them as equal or superior to our Hemisphere in importance. Mahan would have been appalled by such an idea.

  3. @eZekiel:
    It is a huge misconception that a grand strategy centered on the Monroe Doctrine amounts to isolationism.
    I think that's a fair criticism. A more thorough statement would have nailed down historical context of the Monroe doctrine, and explored the futility of any real degree of isolation in the era of Globalization.
    For example, you've got Davos Man floating the idea of a single world currency.
    I'd be interested in a URL pointing to alternate analysis of the tension between sovereign nations and outfits like the UN which you think is any good.
    It's quite similar to the problem of the 50 States vs. DC writ large.

  4. Quit lying, you bastard.

  5. @Philip:
    You call me a "liar" on RSM's blog and your title retreats to "Nasty Insinuations".
    You accuse me of agreeing with Philo. If you actually followed the links in the post, you'll see that I was pointing out that world defense budgets belie Philo's assertion--not that Philo himself is in any way dishonest, mind you.
    I'll give you some ground on having quoted "some were Soviet agents". If you've read Blacklisted by History (and I infer that you may need to) you'll see that this is a defensible, even modest, assertion.
    Good try at Rule 4, though.

  6. So whys should the US taxpayer engage in world wide defense socialism, “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need”? Should not the US taxpayer be allowed to keep their money instead of subsidizing the defense of its competitors? The money spent on defending their competitors should instead stay in the pockets of business, workers and investors in the US so they can use it to engage in productive activities to improve their completive edge.


  7. Point taken. Obama's announcements of policy shifts may or may not be followed up by action in allocating resources, sending aid to foreign countries, entering into or breaking military alliances, etc. It's too early to tell whether they will be. A President can't shift U.S. policy unilaterally and overnight.

    Still, I find his announced sympathies alarming. But thanks for cheering me up with the thought that there's a big gap between announcements and reality!