Thursday, October 1, 2015

The Old World Order

     In his book America Alone, Mark Steyn refers to the United States as “the non-imperial superpower:” the first nation to rise to preeminence among the nations that doesn’t attempt to use its military or economic supremacy for its own gain. Steyn notes, correctly, that this is a state unprecedented in the history of the world. It’s made still more striking by America’s frequent deployment of its military, entirely at its own expense, in “world policeman” duties and in succoring those of distant lands beset by natural calamities.

     Previous dominant powers never did such things, Instead they extended their borders, acquired distant colonies, and extracted tribute.

     Well, it appears we’re at the end of our run in that role. The enervation of our military by the Obama Administration – got to save the bucks for food stamps, sex-change operations, ObamaPhones, and Planned Parenthood, don’t y’know – coupled to The Won’s absolute unwillingness to use force in defense of American interests, much less in support of American influence in geostrategically critical regions, has reduced us to the level of a pre-World War I England or France: a non-negligible nation, but only one equal among others. We’re potentially capable of exercising might and influence, but only after surmounting some rather high hurdles, including the abjuration of our prior inanition.

     Time was, we could have avoided accepting the role of planetary guardian of justice. It would have required that we stay out of World War I. Indeed, in J.F.C. Fuller’s comments on that conflict, he quotes Winston Churchill, at the inception of World War I the First Lord of the British Admiralty, as saying that the U.S. should not have entered the conflict:

     Years later – in August 1936 – Mr. Churchill, in a statement to William Griffin, editor of the New York Enquirer, is reported by the latter to have said that “America should have minded her own business and stayed out of the World War. If you hadn’t entered the war the Allies would have made peace with Germany in the Spring of 1917. Had we made peace then there would have been no collapse of Russia followed by Communism, no breakdown in Italy followed by fascism, and Germany would not have signed the Versailles Treaty, which has enthroned Nazism in Germany. If America had stayed out of the war, all these ‘isms’ wouldn’t today be sweeping the continent of Europe and breaking down parliamentary government, and if England had made peace early in 1917, it would have saved over one million British, French, American, and other lives.”

     Such a judgment, rendered in hindsight and premised upon an arguable selection of causal mechanisms and predicted outcomes, is always a matter for dispute. Nevertheless, it is plain that World War I was the necessary precursor to World War II. World War II was the event that gave us the bipolar world of the second half of the Twentieth Century. When the Soviet Union collapsed and Red China renounced Communist economics, the U.S. stood alone as the “hyperpower:” the nation at pinnacle of world power, upon whose approval the ambitions of other nations must depend. There is no route to that destination that wouldn’t have required our involvement in World War I.

     But what’s done is done. We took the mantle, and for a substantial term of years we wore proudly. We discharged the duties of the office fairly well, though it must be said in retrospect that we intervened in several conflicts in which our net contribution was not positive. What was unavoidable from that point forward was that were we ever to step down from the post, the vacuum that would result would draw powers far less benevolently inclined than are we. And so it is: the Old World Order, in which nothing but power is respected and no nation is inclined to serve any interests but its own, is upon us once again.

     Yesterday’s demonstration by Vladimir Putin of America’s flaccidity has ripped off the masks. The “hyperpower” is revealed to have grown soft in its middle age. It has been made aware of its inability to preserve a state of international affairs it favors. It has neither the necessary force nor the will to use it, while Putin’s Russia, expansionist Red China, and the emergent regional powers of the Middle East, eagerly move forward into the vacuum its retreat has created.

     Would a change in domestic Administrations bring favorable changes to the international situation? Probably; no previous Administration did half as much damage to American military might or international influence. However, it appears from history to be the rule that once a power is on the move toward expansion and aggression, only decisive military defeat can check its course. They who desire increased power over others are good at convincing themselves that “history is on our side.” Such notions are seldom disabused except at the point of a bayonet.

     Thus, even should the United States awaken from its slumbers, install a fresh and assertive Administration backed by a Congress completely in accord with it, make a complete turn-around militarily, and assert its weight in world affairs with all possible resolve, we’re unlikely to regain “hyperpower” status without first defeating the expansionist ambitions of Russia and China at minimum, whether by direct opposition of forces or through the exertions of American-backed proxies. Do we want unchallenged global dominance and the “world policeman” role back badly enough to do any of that? Will the 2016 elections bring about such a reversal in our public priorities?

     Don’t bet on it.

     More anon.

1 comment:

  1. Churchill's thoughts on the error of U.S. involvement in WWI are odd give the efforts of the British to involve us in WWI. Leaking the Zimmerman telegram seems like Britain very much wanted us involved. That link also refers to "a massive British propaganda operation, the likes of which the world had never seen before" that "[helped] move the United States to support the Allies." Britain's army of 1914 was wiped out by 1915 and it continued to suffer horrendous casualties so Winston's implication that Wilson somehow barged into the war at his own initiative is a bit disingenuous.

    He was right about the catastrophic result of our intervention. Which was totally unnecessary and contemptible in view of Wilson's campaigning to keep us out of the war. I think the modern principle is it's ok to campaign against involvement in foreign wars but there transpire the flimsiest reasons for such involvement then one's campaign promises are cancelled.

    One bogus chemical attack or one "barrel bomb" attack suffice for U.S. involvement in Syria, or am I being too contentious here? Or does Assad look like a meanie? I'm a bit confused why we're in Syria. One thing we know is that the U.S. drops a bomb surrounded by shiny ball bearings in a sleek, clean, aerodynamically-efficient container, not one in a primitive barrel with nails for shrapnel, it's not the same thing. The use of a barrel, if true, is just aesthetically gross.

    Ok, I'm waxing polemical here, I know.

    Fran, I don't see "the expansionist ambitions of Russia and China" of which you speak. E. Ukraine and Crimea would be under Ukrainian control today if Nuland hadn't been a busy little bee subverting the elected government of that country. Nor is it surprising that Russia should act to stabilize a regime that permits it to have a naval base on the Med when the U.S. is beavering away to overthrow that regime. According to what constitutional authority Obama is doing this but, hey, that's so yesterday.

    In the case of the Russian base for the Black Sea Fleet in Crimea and their base in Syria no one but no one has heard Obama and his toadies utter one word of assurance to the Russian about those bases, not that it is a U.S. prerogative to utter such words.

    Do the Russians have 80 odd military bases around the world? I just don't see their seeking to emulate our ruinous and moronic involvements around the world. Putin is, if anything, a voice of sanity where the U.S. has become un-bleeping-hinged.

    The Chinese did discover that a lot of their uranium somehow turned up under under the ground in Tibet, so we did see some Chinese expansionism. It's island-building efforts in the Spratlys or wherever involve very little territory and certainly not inhabited territory and are not qualitatively that different from what we have done in our hemisphere. The Monrovianistic Doctrine on our part didn't involve appropriation of tiny islands but our warnings to the rest of the world served the same purpose. I suppose China gains defensive depth by extending its forces further from the mainland but its new generation of anti-ship missiles intended, at a minimum, to swarm U.S. Navy ships nearby probably make those new island bases unnecessary.

    Chinese presence around the world is overwhelming commercial in nature. There are no Chinese troops outside of China I'm aware of, though that might change in Syria. Again, something that would never come about if we had kept our mothertrucking noses out of Syria.

    Obamanian stupidity is the greatest threat to peace in the entire world. The reckless and misguided effort to demonize Russia must stop before we get into serious trouble. Putin has deftly show Obama's "anti-ISIS" to be simply anti-Assad efforts and we just need to accept the fact that Obama's been outmaneuvered.

    Thanks be to God.

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