I must say, the volume of hate mail I've received over this story has been most impressive. No doubt my correspondents hope to intimidate me into some sort of recantation, or at least away from further fictional excursions of that sort. Sorry, little boys. I hate to disappoint you, but that doesn't work on me. Besides, as the flyboys like to say, if you're taking flak, you must be over the target.
The State Department's pusillanimous response to the violence against American embassies in Libya and Egypt makes it plain that our government is no longer concerned with the protection of American lives, property, and interests. What, then, might its priorities include?
- The good opinion of the Europeans?
- The good opinion of Islamic regimes?
- The mollification of Islamists and al-Qaeda affiliates?
- Soothing our seething domestic Muslims?
- Throwing a sop to the anti-military elements of the Democratic "base?"
Draw your own conclusions.
I continue to recommend the Godfather Principle as the most reliable foundation for American foreign policy:
"Had you come to me in friendship, this scum who ruined your daughter would be suffering this very day. And if by some chance an honest man like yourself made enemies, they would become my enemies as well. And then, they would fear you." [From Francis Ford Coppola's masterpiece movie The Godfather, derived from Mario Puzo's book of the same title]
The Romans had their own maxim: Oderint dum metuant. "Let them hate us, so long as they fear us." Niccolo de Macchiavelli rephrased it as "It is better to be feared than loved." Lord Palmerston, prime minister of Great Britain at the height of her Empire, said "England has no eternal enmities, no eternal friendships. She has only eternal interests." Theodore Roosevelt, otherwise not one of your Curmudgeon's favorite presidents, said "Speak softly and carry a big stick."
All of these are succinct formulations of the one and only principle that has ever applied to international relations:
Why? Quite simply:
- Nation-states exist in an anarchic relation to one another.
- Sovereignty is conditional on the power to maintain one's borders.
- They who seek to rule nation-states tend to respect power and only power.
- The scent of weakness in a nation-state draws predators the way a corpse draws flies.
This is true, and imperative, even when the nation-states of one's immediate concern are themselves in a "transitional" (i.e., chaotic) condition. Perhaps especially so, for mobs know no law and are notably short on inhibitions. They are driven by the impulses of the moment, which are usually bound up with the destruction of a perceived enemy. Say what you will about the late Muammar Qadaffi; his forces never dared to encroach upon an American embassy.
The ideal condition, given that the world is lousy with Muslims and other enemies of freedom, justice, and the United States, is for our nation to be so deeply and universally feared that no one anywhere would dare to offend us.
Let no one doubt the length or sharpness of our sword.
Let no one imagine that we lack the will to use it.
Let all the world tremble at the mere thought of what we're ready, willing, and able to do.
To be maximally gentle about it, that is not the case today.
When persons outside Nation X, pondering whether to risk its ire for some potential gain, assess the prospects, they confront four possibilities:
- Nation X can be strong and look strong;
- Nation X can be weak but look strong;
- Nation X can be strong but look weak;
- Nation X can be weak and look weak.
It should require no argument that posture #1 is preferable to all the others, and that posture #4 is to be avoided at all costs. What's more arguable is whether posture #2 should be preferred to posture #3. If the appearance of power can be maintained despite the objective deterioration of power, it might suffice to keep enemies at bay. However, the operation of international dynamics in our time guarantees that national weakness will be visible, and therefore that it will be exploited by the opportunists of the world. The last thing any nation should want is to be on the wrong end of that dynamic.
What's less well guaranteed is that strength will be visible. A chief of state such as Barack Hussein Obama can undermine international perceptions of our nation's true power. As matters stand, the American military could defeat any plausible confederation of opponents. But a president who's constantly apologizing for America and kowtowing to foreign satraps doesn't exactly emphasize that aspect of international relations.
At this time, we have the following categories of enemy:
- The states of the European Union;
- Islamic states and major concentrations of Muslims worldwide;
- The post-Communist states of Russia and China;
- The legacy-Communist states of Cuba and North Korea;
- The neo-Communist states of Venezuela and Bolivia.
No, we're not currently at war with any of the above. Nevertheless, they are our enemies in the most fundamental sense: all of them want to see the United States weakened. It is most definitely not in America's interest to oblige them. Neither is it good for the peace of the world that anyone think the United States is growing weak -- which is precisely what the Obama Administration's obsequiousness toward Muslim sensitivities is bringing upon us.
Our enemies must be made to fear us -- not in the sense that we're planning to invade and conquer them any day now, but in the sense that they should deem it unwise to provoke us, whether militarily, economically, fiscally, or rhetorically.
We cannot have that highly preferred state of affairs if our federal government persists in acting apologetic -- weak -- toward persons, organizations, and nations that hate us.
And so a president such as Stephen Graham Sumner, who understands freedom, justice, and the proper role of the president, would not hesitate to do as described below.
No, we don't have such a president at the moment. Whether we'll have one after January 20, 2013 remains to be seen.