Tim Dunkin: Watching the Train Wreck

Each of us makes mistakes. Sometimes they’re little mistakes, but sometimes they’re very big. Sometimes they have serious consequences. Sometimes they are open and obvious for the whole world to see. Or, to paraphrase the Apostle Paul, “Some electorates’ sins are open beforehand, going before to judgment; and some electorates they follow after.”

So it is with the unfortunate decision by the American electorate to choose Barack Obama as our President. This is proving to have been – as many a Cassandra had warned – a big mistake. It’s more than just a bit iffy whether the nation’s collective wallet will survive even a single term in office for President Pickpocket. The radical changes that he, with a willing Congress, is trying to bring to virtually every area of our government and economy threatens to destroy, once and for all, the constitutional, limited-government system that our Founders created at our nation’s inception. Under Obama, government intrusion into areas as wide-ranging as the health care system, the auto industry, the banking industry, control of the internet, even the nation’s subway systems, makes anything previously seen even under the worst of his predecessors look like nothing. It can fairly be said that Barack Obama is the most radical President that America has ever had, at any time, in any context.

One area in which he has proven himself to be radical, and radically destructive, is in the area of this nation’s foreign policy. Through a combination of calculated stupidity combined with an extremist socialist sympathy for our enemies, Obama has succeeded in setting the American approach to foreign policy on its head. Granted, American foreign policy has not always been even-handed, nor has it necessarily always ended up being beneficial to the United States in the long run. However, it has always been guided by the desire, at least, to follow a rational approach to our relations with the rest of the world that seeks the good of the United States, first and foremost. This is as it ought to be. Obama, however, has discarded this fundamental principle, and appears to put the long-term benefit of the United States and the West, with its established systems of stability, far down at the bottom of his list of priorities. This will, eventually, make the world a much uglier and more brutish place for all involved.

In a nutshell, for the past two centuries, the international system of diplomacy has centered around the efforts by the Anglosphere to maintain a thalassocracy, a control of the world’s sea lanes, so as to facilitate free markets and the rising prosperity fostered by capitalism. First Britain, and later the United States, placed a premium on sea power that enabled both nations, in their time, to be able to project power and influence far beyond their borders, and far beyond what their populations and geography would suggest they ought to be able to do. It is through this lens that pretty much all of the foreign policies of both nations since the accession of Queen Victoria should be viewed.

In the 19th century, Victorian Britain ruled the seas – no single nation on earth could have successfully challenged the might of the Royal Navy. Britain eventually was to secure an empire upon which – literally – the sun never set. Much of the reason for this was that Britain had an interest in providing coaling stations and other naval necessities that would allow it to project sea power as far afield as India, Australia, and South Africa. A large measures of Britain’s European diplomacy, with its efforts at preserving the power structure established by the Congress of Vienna in 1815, and why she fought the wars that she did that involved other European powers (such as the Crimean War), was for the purpose of maintaining a balance of power on land that would prevent any single European nation from having the leisure to devote its resources to building a fleet that could challenge her Navy. Her colonial wars, on the other hand, were often for the purpose of securing both resources AND markets.

When the United States, beginning with Teddy Roosevelt’s Great White Fleet, began to emerge as a dominant naval power at the beginning of the 20th century, her purposes were generally coincident with Britain’s – maintain the openness of the sea lanes for trade, and prevent threats to that freedom of the seas from rising. Much of America’s “gunboat diplomacy” in Latin America involved the mad scramble by the United States to keep socialistic Latin American dictators from interfering with these sea lanes and with the flow of resources and trade goods. After the United States eclipsed Britain as the preponderant military power following World War II, America has found itself the keeper of the seas, a nation with a navy that no nation could really hope to defeat.

This system has worked tolerably well. For most of the 19th century, Britain’s maneuverings helped to contain the European penchant for fighting each other. From 1815 to 1914, Europe saw a century of general peace. This is not to say, of course, that there was no war on the European continent at this time, but the system of alliances engineered in part by the Victorians, as well as the ability of the Royal Navy to blockade anybody who got too far out of line, helped to prevent the constant, low-level warfare that had been the European landscape since the fall of the Roman Empire in the west. This system broke down, notably, when Germany decided to try to not play the game anymore. The Germans attempted to build a navy to compete with Britain’s, and simultaneously tried to secure a hegemony over the central European landmass – something British policy historically tried to prevent. The result, via several steps that I have omitted here for the sake of brevity, was the collision of Germany hegemonism with what eventually became a largely Anglosphere-led coalition, known as World War I and World War II (I refer to them seemingly as a singular event because they, in many ways, were a single war with a 21-year cease fire in the middle).

After World War II, with the advent of American hyperpower, the Anglospheric thalassocracy was back in business. American power, even at its nadir under Carter, could never have really been challenged directly by the Soviet Union, which is why the Soviets had to pursue a policy of proxy wars. This preponderant U.S. military power, backed by our nuclear arsenal, prevented the very thing that so many feared – another world war.

As I alluded to above, the impetus for this system of diplomacy and foreign policy was the maintenance of open trade and markets, for what we would call “market capitalism.” Though this economic system was pioneered by the Dutch, the English, starting in the 18th century, were the ones who really ran with that ball. Classically liberal ideas of personal economic freedom imbued the English version of capitalism with an animating spirit that the purely mercantile Dutch form did not have. It is this capitalism that enabled Britain, her associated Anglosphere territories, and the United States to attain to the overwhelming dominance that they have enjoyed. Even today, despite the increasing socialization of their economies, the cultural Anglosphere (here defined as the U.S., U.K., Canada, Australia, and New Zealand) account for over 27% of the total world GDP, despite having only 6.3% of the world’s population. Further, other Western countries that, during the Industrial Revolution, had adopted much of Anglo-American capitalism, also account for a much greater share of the world economy than their populations would suggest they should. Even nations such as Chile and India, in regions not typically considered conducive to “imperialistic” capitalism, have seen their economies prosper in direct proportion to the extent to which they have adopted capitalistic elements into their economic systems.

Despite the moaning and complaining that socialists make about “colonialism” and “cultural imperialism,” the fact remains that Anglo-American capitalism has brought a good share of peace and stability to the world and has helped to raise the standards of living for hundreds of millions around the globe. Yet, there are of course those “intellectuals” (falsely so called) who butter their bread by convincing poor and needy people in underdeveloped countries around the world that capitalism is the cause, not the cure, for their poverty. The solution proposed by these “intellectuals” usually involves the imposition of socialism, the destruction of any native wealth that may be in the hands of an incipient middle class, the redistribution of that wealth, and the inevitable devolution of the social system into a dictatorship. Whether were talking about Communism in Asia or Africa, or your typical run-of-the-mill banana republic in Latin America, the result for the people is the same – stomachs full of propaganda and hate-America demagoguery, but empty of food and prosperity.

Hence, the problem with having Barack Obama as the American President. Obama fundamentally accepts the socialist notion that capitalism is the cause of economic misery, not the solution to it. He also fundamentally accepts the premise that the creation of wealth by means of industry and ingenuity is a bad thing, that it is “unfair” to those who don’t display these traits and who consequently remain poor and needy. And Obama appears bound and determined to do everything he can to reduce the ability of the American thalassocracy to maintain a stable economic, and therefore political, order in the world.

First, in Europe. Obama has systematically worked to reduce American exceptionalism, and to bring it under the power of European internationalists and one-worlders. Reversing the previous decisions by U.S. Presidents to refuse to allow international (and specifically European) bodies, such as the International Court of Justice, to have power over U.S. interests, Obama is working hard to submit us to them. He is, even as I write this, over in Copenhagen, hard at work selling out American sovereignty to internationalists, using the spurious premise of the imminent destruction of the world via “global warming” as an excuse to submit us to an economy-destroying emissions treaty. This is not simply an attack on American national sovereignty, it is also designed to be a manacle preventing the U.S. from exercising its power to maintain the capitalistic thalassocratic system. One of the benefits of American power during the Cold War was that, while we might play along with the United Nations and other international bodies when it suited us, our power gave us the option, and the very real ability, to operate independently of these international bodies whenever they made stupid decisions, as they often did. If we lose our sovereignty, we lose our ability to not be sucked into other nations’ bad ideas, especially those that would fundamentally undermine our economic strength and flexibility.

Not only this, but Obama has also basically destroyed the progress that we had made in courting and securing valuable allies in Eastern Europe, such as Poland, Ukraine, and the Czech Republic. Having these nations as a counterbalance to Russia was an important part of maintaining the balance of power, both in Europe and on the high seas, forcing the Russians to devote energy and time westward instead of outward. Yet, by unilaterally backing out of our missile defense treaties with the Poles and the Czechs (which were defensive, despite the Russian propaganda – you don’t attack anybody with anti-missile missiles), Obama not only alienated these nations, but has done even greater damage. He has proven that a treaty with the United States is not worth the paper it is written on.

In the Middle East, Obama appears to be going out of his way to antagonize the one solid ally that we have in the region – tiny, democratic Israel. He presumes to think to tell the Israelis what they can and can’t do, what they can and can’t build, in their own country. He also appears dangerously close to giving the Palestinians legitimacy in their actions against Israel, reversing long-standing U.S. policy that we have pursued for decades. I’m sure the radical Muslims are happy, but those seeking a stable Middle East should not be. Elsewhere in this region, Obama has basically made himself a laughingstock for the Iranians. They don’t respect him, they don’t fear him. They are accelerating their nuclear program and becoming more aggressive towards foreign commerce and shipping in and around the Persian Gulf. Libya, which had been effectively neutered by Bush, is now reneging on the positive steps it had taken towards leaving its status as a rogue regime. This can do nothing but help to strengthen the Islamism that threatens U.S. interests everywhere.

In East Asia, Obama is also considered a joke by the rogue regimes in China and North Korea. North Korea is becoming even more aggressive – even to the point of trying to engage (but unsuccessfully) South Korean naval units in cross-territorial combat, as well as firing ballistic missiles over the territorial waters of Japan. China, to whom Obama recently kowtowed, gave him absolutely nothing – not even “assurances” that they would work with him to achieved common goals. Indeed, China continues to pursue a hostile monetary policy towards the United States, and is beginning to step up its pressure against India, always with the veiled military threat, almost as if to dare the Indians to ask themselves whether the US will rescue them this time around should China decide to annex Arunachal Pradesh.

Surely Taiwan, South Korea, and Japan, our traditional allies in the Pacific littoral, must be asking themselves the same thing – would an Obama-led America really have the guts to engage the Chinese or North Koreans per the stipulations of our treaty obligations with these nations, should one of those nations decide to move against them? The answer is probably “no,” as they well realize, which is why these nations have been moving towards intraregional cooperation and away from reliance upon their ostensible American ally. There’s a reason why Japan, after 60 years of complacency, is suddenly starting to think of their military in terms of its ability to project power outside of the Home Islands. Abandoning our allies and yielding this vital region to Chinese domination would be a tremendous blow to the cause of freedom, capitalism, and trade the world over. The “Asian tigers” – Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore – account for a large and growing proportion of world trade, commerce, and manufacturing. Allowing them to be coerced into the Chinese version of a Co-Prosperity Sphere would do irreparable damage to U.S. interests.

In Latin America, Obama has tried to make nice with Hugo Chavez, the thuggish dictator of Venezuela who has been busying building up a socialistic anti-American coalition with Ecuador, Bolivia, Brazil, Cuba, and Nicaragua for the purpose of subverting the entire region for the cause of world socialism. Concomitant with that, then, has been these socialists’ collusion with the Chinese, inviting them into a region that for good reason has traditionally has been an American sphere of influence. This presents not only a threat to American commerce and trade, but even to our physical security. At the same time, Obama has actively sought to drive away our allies in Latin America. He has repeated snubbed and insulted the Colombians, of whose Rightist regime he disapproves. He also attempted to give legitimacy to the effort by the Honduran usurper Zelaya to subvert and overthrow his own nation’s constitution – something he was prevented from doing by the quick thinking and action of the Honduran judiciary and military. Yet, the whole Honduran incident shows that, just as Obama doesn’t respect our own Constitution here at home, he is not in the least concerned about anybody else’s constitution abroad, at least not when these documents would get in the way of promoting world socialism.

All over the world, Obama has pursued what can only be termed an anti-American foreign policy for this country. Further, to the extent that he has tried to exert U.S. power on the international scene, he has done so ineptly and unconvincingly. The Russians openly laugh at him. The Chinese treat him like an ornament of court, not a serious negotiator. The North Koreans just keep firing their missiles, and the Iranians just keep purifying their uranium. Chavez continues to make jokes at his expense (literally). The Europeans, while personally liking the fact that he’s hip, he’s cool, and he says all the Left things, don’t really take him seriously. Nobody who’s anybody in the world really thinks Obama is a credible force in modern diplomacy. He was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize – after having only been in office for ten days – as a “good boy” pat on the head from the world socialist establishment that knows he’s their junior partner.

Unfortunately, as Obama’s foreign policy unfolds, stringing along from one debacle to the next, it’s like watching a slow motion train wreck take place. Car after car after car pile up, you want to scream out a warning to those in the cars behind, but it’s just too late. It’s already in motion, nothing can be done at the present to stop it. All you can hope for is that, when it’s all done, you can salvage something out of it and move on from there. In the same way, Obama has already damaged American prestige and credibility enormously. The balance of world power is already being fundamentally changed, and not for the better. Aggressive dictators and regional hegemons are being encouraged in their belligerences, and the fundamental constant of American hyperpower – which relied as much upon the stabilizing force of military and economic threat as much as it did on the actual exercise of force – is being taken out of the equation. Whereas we avoided a world war from 1945 to the fall of the Soviet Union, largely because of the implied force of American thalassocracy, the stage is being set for the return of the bad old days of the settlement of international issues by force.