Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Quickies: KISS Off Dept.

     The Wall Street Journal boasts some fine editorial work. However, even an insightful article can contain a clinker or two:

     Today Mr. Obama has become our most politically correct president, with nothing real to say on the threats we face. No surprise, then, that the chief beneficiary would be our most politically incorrect candidate, Mr. Trump.

     Because when Mr. Trump speaks about suspending Muslim immigration or “bombing the s—t” out of oil fields controlled by Islamic State, what supporters hear is this: I won’t let political correctness stand in the way of keeping America safe. And when Republicans respond by tut-tutting about how distasteful they find him—instead of showing why his argument is full of holes—they too come across as condescending, implicitly sharing the president’s belief that the knuckle-dragging American public just can’t handle the truth.

     That’s a pity, because as admirable as a lack of political correctness is in a dangerous world, it’s no substitute for a tough foreign policy. For the main weakness of Trump foreign policy is not that it’s “fascist,” “unhinged” or “outrageous.” It’s that it’s almost all seat-of-the-pants.

     “Seat of the pants” is a circumlocution” for “simplistic.” Herewith, a word of advice to every politician who aspires to national office:

Foreign Policy Can, Should, And Must Be Simple.

     A simple foreign policy would look like this:

  • No foreign aid of any kind, for any reason.
  • No alliances except for during a declared war;
  • Well-controlled borders to assure national sovereignty;
  • Free international trade except for state of the art military goods;
  • An immigration policy that excludes persons from hostile regions or cultures;
  • A strong military with a “reflex” component that can be anywhere in 12 hours or less;
  • A policy of immediate reprisals for any harm done to Americans or Americans’ property;
  • No “special relationships” that would compromise any of the above provisions.

     The above would say to the rest of the world: Show us your best and we’ll show you ours. But don’t mess with us, or we’ll stomp you – and we’ll laugh at your stupidity while we do it.

     Granted that we’re a long way from such a foreign policy now. We’d have to make quite a lot of changes to get near it. But simplicity, as delineated above, would guarantee that other nations could not fail to understand what we say and do – or to anticipate how we would react to this or that initiative on their part.

     A foreign policy must never encourage adventurism adverse to one’s own interests – and a complex, endlessly mutating policy that seems to be unanchored to any principle encourages that in quantity. Remember this bit of wisdom from Henry John Temple, better known as Lord Palmerston:

    "There are neither eternal allies nor eternal enemies. Only interests are eternal."

     There’s a reason Palmerston is regarded as the foremost statesman of his time.

3 comments:

  1. Fran, someday I'd like to hear your thoughts about, "Free international trade except for state of the art military goods."

    Thomas Sowell is a well-spoken proponent of free trade. But many others say we're being suckers for trading with partners that effectively use slave-labor and/or tariffs.

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  2. One minor suggestion:

    An immigration policy that excludes AND REPATRIATES persons from hostile regions or cultures.

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  3. And I would add that Lord Palmerston ignored islam, although it is probably just that he had no need to consider them at that time he wrote this quotation. It may not qualify as "eternal" (of course, that's like saying "infinite"), but I think 1400 years would come as close as Western Civilization has come to "eternal".

    Unless Western Civilization is suicidal, I think it should consider islam an eternal enemy, even if - somehow, miraculously - all muslims pulled back into one location and stopped their incursions and violence. They have been somewhat subdued at times in the past, but have never, ever relinquished their stated desire for a universal caliphate.

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