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    The Will to Create

    Entries in Weekly Standard (3)


    Paul Ryan's confused foreign policy ideas

    In the article, Ryan is quoted as saying:

    "A world without U.S. leadership will be a more chaotic place," Ryan said. "A place where we have less influence, and a place where our citizens face more dangers and fewer opportunities. Take a moment and imagine a world led by China and Russia."

    What does Ryan mean by "leadership"? Who decides who leads and who follows? Is a lot of this some mental construct that has no validity in reality. I'm sure China influences many nations, as well as Russia. What does it mean to compete with China and Russia for a global leadership position. If it means war in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, military bases all over the world, wasting money on the IMF, The World Bank and the UN, giving aid to countries in which the Head Thug steals it before it reaches those in need, then, yes, let me imagine a world led by China or Russia and find it unthreatening. We wouldn't be led by China or Russia. Which nations would Russia or China lead and how would they lead them?

    I believe all this talk about allies in the world, and prevention of China/Russia leadership, is just a rationalization for the perpetual expansion of the military/industrial complex. I believe Ryan has bought the narrative developed decades ago by the power elite which needs an imminent threat to justify its power and control. I think Ryan is probably a good, patriotic man, but this type of rhetoric shows he hasn't thought very deeply about foreign policy, or very creatively. Later Ryan says we have to be careful and realize that our involvement can do only so much, so I know that he intuitively realizes that foreign intervention has caused problems.

    America is a powerful nation, and in reality no nation can successfully subdue us, and neither China nor Russia can create any stable alliance of nations to threaten us. The real global action is economic, and this is where we're retreating and declining into has-beens. Ryan needs to trust his first instincts and accept that bringing our military home is not "isolationism" and "decline" -- it's a principled strategy to prevent coercive intervention abroad and economic collapse at home. Unless there is an issue of genocide which calls for all civilized nations to act, the internal squabbles within nations or between nations is none of our concern, and fighting terrorism will never be successful by putting military troops on the ground in nations like Iraq and Afghanistan -- terrorism is mobile in cells and is not the threat it's made out to be. Yes, a few radicals can kill Americans, but being in Iraq and Afghanistan can not prevent this, and any country that harbors terrorists will not actually terrorize America, because they know a truly terrorized America will destroy that country. The Terrorists are playing on our fears and pin-pricking us, and now they are draining us financially and taking way too many young lives needlessly placed in dangerous situations.

    From the article:

    Ryan spoke at length about American exceptionalism as it relates to America's role in the world. "America is an idea," he said. "And it was the first nation founded as such. The idea is rather simple. Our rights come to us from God and nature. They occur naturally, before government."

    Our Founders warned against foreign entanglements. If America is great, then this is by actions, not through grand rhetoric and puffery. If America becomes the free and properous nation we can become, then so be it -- intervening in the affairs of others to get them to become like us is futile and immoral. Attraction rather than promotion is a much better principle. We have lessened our greatness through foreign entanglements, enriching brutal dictators, invading countries to stop communism when it wasn't our place to decide which nations should become communist nations. We found out later, that Russia had no imperialist ambitions, except in Eastern Europe, which had an affinity for communism, as a buffer from the West.

    Any form of statism/socialism, including Islamist statism/socialism, will fail on its own -- we don't have to get involved and try to prevent it from rising. Dictators will be overthrown when the people become hungry and tired of being used.

    The article goes on:

    This belief in the American idea, Ryan said, should inform the nation's foreign policy. "Now, if you believe these rights are universal human rights, then that clearly forms the basis of your views on foreign policy," he said. "It leads you to reject moral relativism. It causes you to recoil at the idea of presistent moral indifference toward any nation that stifles and denies liberty, no matter how friendly and accommodating its rules are to American interests."

    Ryan squarely rejected the position of increased isolationism. "Today, some in this country relish the idea of America's retreat from our role in the world," Ryan said. "They say that it's about time for other nations to take over, that we should turn inward, that we should reduce ourselves to membership on a long list of mediocre has-beens."

    He continued, "Instead of heeding these calls to surrender, we must renew our commitment to the idea that America is the greatest force for human freedom the world has ever seen."

    Who says we should "reduce ourselves to membership on a long list of mediocre has-beens"? Again, a policy of non-intervention doesn't mean that we accept decline and hide within our borders. We can be economically vibrant and globally open, but be militarily neutral regarding matters of civil wars and regional conflicts, unless we are threatened, or unless we are called on to stop another holocaust. We definitely have no business nation-building or "spreading Democracy" through military means. We can full-throatedly take stands on right and wrong and explicate our principles, but we can do it without military bases all over the world.

    More from the article:

    Regarding the recent civil unrest across the Middle East, Ryan spoke clearly about America's role and human rights. "We have a responsibility to speak boldly for those whose voices are denied by the jackbooted thugs of the tired tyrants of Syria and Iran," he said. He later continued, "What we can do is affirm our commitment to democracy in the region by standing in solidarity with our longstanding allies in Israel and our new partners in Iraq."

    On the American military efforts both in Iraq and Afghanistan, Ryan said the United States can and must "remain committed to the promotion of stable governments that respect the rights of their citizens and deny terrorists access to their territory." Failure to win, he said, "would be a blow to American prestige and would reinvigorate al Qaeda."

    Ryan also called for China to liberalize and become "integrated into the global order." But, he said, Chinese leaders should not count on the decline of the United States as a great power. "We must demonstrate that planning for the post-American era is a squandered effort on their part and that America's greatest days lie ahead," he said.

    Yes, we can stand with Israel in spirit and principle -- we've been doing this for decades -- yet remain militarily neutral in conflicts. Israel can defend itself, and if for some reason they can't because a concerted Middle-East effort is over-whelming Israel, then we can decide based on this situation, but to have a military bent up-front, sitting on ready to intervene at a drop of the hat, is what gets us in futile entanglements.

    When Ryan talks about Afghanistan and Iraq, I have to wonder what he sees that I don't. I don't see any way for these two countries to achieve and maintain stability -- we would have to be there for 100 years in order to see a real change. We need to leave Iraq, Afghanistan, the whole Middle-East, and if China and Russia want it, then they can have it -- they don't want it.

    We don't need to be drastically anxious about terrorism or China or Russia -- we need to heed Pogo -- "I have found the enemy, and he is us." If America pulls in and limits our State machine, and if the American people are allowed to utilize resources without government siphoning off such a large chunk, the idea of America will be a good idea once again. Ryan is part of the way there, but he's on the wrong foreign policy track.


    O'Rourke on the NYT and Arizona shootings

    P.J. O'Rourke writes a good column for Weekly Standard and confirms my analysis here. Mr. O'Rourke expresses himself much better, though.


    What will kill the Republicans

    Listening to people like Bill Kristol. The Weekly Standard, Kristol's magazine, advises the Republicans against a "myopic" focus on spending.

    In other words, Kristol wants business as usual, the status quo, a giant, bloated military.

    Hey, Kristol, it's not a myopic focus, just a focus -- and if the military is not a big part of that focus, nothing with the Republicans will change.