A World of Failed States, Militias and Refugees


The flood of refugees from war-torn Africa and the Middle East into Europe got me to thinking about something I wrote five years ago in “Boomergeddon,” back when the world still seemed relatively sane. I recognized that fiscal constraints would prevent the United States from maintaining its role as the world’s policeman. Despite all the criticism of America for its arrogance and clumsiness in dealing with other countries, I argued, the world would miss us when we were gone.

The future of a world without a U.S. to police it will be more failed states, more militias, more drug lords, more insurgents, more genocide, more refugees, more economic migrants, more sanctuaries for terrorists and more haven for privates. The expanse of territory subject to barbarism and warlordism will expand, and the expanse subject to the rule of law will shrink.

I guess I was right about that one.

Indeed, I wasn’t pessimistic enough. I never imagined the ability of millions of migrants from impoverished developing countries to slip into Europe. Human smuggling channels, once created, are not easily shut down, as we have learned in the United States. National frontiers are more porous than ever, and when confronted with human tragedy, western democratic societies do not have the stomach to seal their borders while millions suffer. But our welfare states are living on borrowed money and borrowed time. Absorbing tens of millions of the world’s poor will only hasten the inevitable reckoning.

What can the United States do? Not much. Sequestration has shrunk the size of the military to the smallest it’s been since before World War II, and Americans have little appetite for foreign intervention. Making matters worse, it’s getting harder and harder to tell the good guys from the bad guys. Europe, even with global chaos spilling over its borders, is even more impotent to act. Meanwhile, the global collapse of commodity prices will undermine the economies of resource-exporting countries from Brazil to Angola; as economic chaos spreads, social and political turmoil will follow. And don’t forget: Iran will acquire nuclear weapons in ten years, if not before, giving its mullahs North Korean-style impunity for its provocations.

What some believe to be the “arc of history” — the lifting of millions from poverty and the spread of human rights — soon will be seen as anything but inevitable. As much of the world slips into a new Dark Age, political, economic and social progress around the world over the past century will be seen as the product of one thing: pax Americana. As America retreats, chaos will fill the vacuum.

Have a nice day. Enjoy the respite from history while you can. Prepare your children for the world to come.


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  1. LarrytheG Avatar

    don’t know where to start… but I’m going to hold off until others comment.

  2. The New York Times’, Tom Friedman, said in the days following September 11, 2001, when self-examination everywhere was rampant to try to discover where we had failed that allowed such a thing to happen, that above all else, the attack was a “failure of imagination.”

    And, so our inferior imagination remains, a skill at which the developed world still fails, miserably.

  3. LarrytheG Avatar

    re “failed nations and they’ll miss us when we are gone”

    just to keep things on an even keel:

    According to one accounting, the U.S. has 662 overseas bases in 38 foreign countries and they cost an estimated 100 billion dollars annually.

    We have 970,000 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans on disability in the VA.

    I think most people are just fine with the US and the military giving humanitarian aid – and in fact think if we did a little more of that and a little less of occupying – we’d do better at winning friends and influencing enemies.

    The OECD countries are _not_ “socialism” and yes – they can provide health care to all their citizens without going broke – not everyone will get everything they want for health care so it’s sort of a damned in you do (provide it) and damned if you don’t (provide it) – there is no “sweet spot” – you’re either socialist and going bankrupt for your socialist sins or you’re killing your folks with death panels.

    but if we think the planet is becoming more and more failed nations – are we not indicting the human race itself?

    I have more optimism than that. I see other nations ascending to the ranks of the 1st nations..

    and I’m hopeful American will learn more about the rest of the world and that we are not the be all to end all – to many others.

    The 4th largest nation in the world by population- what is it? how many know? how many know it’s main religion?

    If you gave a blank map of the Middle East to 100 Americans how many would successfully label the countries – much less know which countries are Shia and which are Sunni?

    I would posit that one of the true dangers of this world – is the fact that the US is the most powerful country in the world – and it’s citizens are largely ignorant of the rest of the world other than what they see or hear on 24/7 talk radio and cable TV.

    1. “If you gave a blank map of the Middle East to 100 Americans how many would successfully label the countries – much less know which countries are Shia and which are Sunni?”

      Were you referring to the 100 Americans in the US Senate?

      Our President would flunk this test also…

      1. LarrytheG Avatar

        average Americans .. and I would bet the POTUS would do better than most in Congress.

        my bigger point is that average Americans don’t know much about the rest of the world beyond popular media soundbites – and yet, as a country, we wield significant power and influence world events – sometimes in very ignorant and stupid ways.

        Most Americans do not know the cultural issues between Suni and Shia Arabs or how that plays into the geography and politics of the Middle East and too many believe we can use Military force to fix it.

        In another day and time – this mindset would be referred to as Colonialism and Manifest Destiny.

        1. One can only hope that Obama knows his geography – given that he has ordered 500 drone strikes vs. GW Bush’s 50. Just imagine what a genius like Joe Biden might do as president if he had the keys to America’s drone fleet. “Mr. President, are you sure you mean Baltimore and not Bangalore?”. “Maybe, all those Pakastani cities sound the same to me.”.


    2. LarryG, you say, “I would posit that one of the true dangers of this world – is the fact that the US is the most powerful country in the world – and it’s citizens are largely ignorant of the rest of the world other than what they see or hear on 24/7 talk radio and cable TV.”

      Yes, agreed. Only, as to our children’s generation, I fear they don’t even listen to talk radio or watch cable TV news. In fact, despite their college educations, they hardly listen to or read anything today except self-selected music streaming and self-selected feeds on social media and particular blogs of interest. And, even if they wanted to, there is simply no equivalent to the old-style comprehensive “network news” today, save possibly PBS Newshour.

  4. Andrew Roesell Avatar
    Andrew Roesell

    If we would keep to our own borders, and actually defend them, while respecting other countries’ borders by not invading them, imposing economic sanctions, and actually try to live up to the standards of civilization ourselves, rather than mere technology, perhaps people would not be outraged by the hypocrisy emanating from our Presidents, Secretaries of State, Ambassadors, and visiting members of Congress, when they speak loftily about how others should run their countries? Refugees are largely the result of wars, and, yes, why does the U.S., if it were merely a republic, need 600 or, as I have seen elsewhere, 900 bases, around the world? The answer, clearly, is it is no longer “merely” a republic, but something else. The U.S. has recapitulated the history of the Papacy: Once the Bishop of Rome, “first among equals,” among his brother Bishops, who then raised himself to be head of the Church. America, once a republic now has elevated itself [“we see farther” as Madeline Albright said], to have a universal jurisdiction over the world. Every border and every election, every atrocity, and every war, HAS to have an American response, and that, not just an opinion. In the meantime, our own government REFUSES, absolutely refuses, to guard its OWN borders, and places aliens above its own citizens! Such a regime is mad. What is the cure for such a thing? Who can remedy it? Failed states, then, are largely the result, a symptom of, “failed elites.”

    1. We have indeed exercised a sort of universal jurisdiction over the world. That’s what Nuremberg was all about. And after WWII we claimed to have delegated that role to the U.N.

      Yet people keep on burning and gassing whole villages of their own civilians and chopping off reporters’ heads and blowing up ancient artifacts and committing atrocities on innocent social and medical volunteers; many of these victims are American. The U.N. does nothing about it; should we, therefore, do nothing about it?

      Where there is gross human suffering and a gross absence of effective government, can we afford to stand by and do nothing? As Jim says, “Have a nice day!”

  5. Steve Haner Avatar
    Steve Haner

    Note: the isolationist strain lives within the modern Republican Party! We have to stay in a leadership role, but we do have to be smart about it and I totally agree that living up to our own principles works out well in the long run.

    I’m reading now the Smith biography of Eisenhower. He ran for Prez basically to counter the isolationists of his day, and he has an interesting record of good and bad decisions on foreign policy. A good one was not trying to save the French at Dien Bien Phu and trying to keep us out of a war there (and do we consider Vietnam an enemy or even a problem these days? He was right not to fear them.) and a bad one was assisting the 1950s coup in Iran. That was all about oil, as were the Bush era Gulf Wars, and the result 60 years later is a crop of enemies and problems…..There is a direct line from the Dulles brothers and Churchill to the mobs of refugees fleeing Syria today.

    Once Ike cut the deal to end the Korean War, during the rest of his term not one American died in a military conflict. So claims Smith. You hate war? Elect someone who has seen it up close.

    But the Fortress America isolationists were wrong before WWII, wrong after WWII, and still wrong. It is a global economy now.

    1. “Peace, commerce and honest friendship with all nations; entangling alliances with none.”

      Thomas Jefferson

  6. LarrytheG Avatar

    re: chopping people’s heads off

    the world is a big place with a lot of problems in more than a few countries and twitter videos only highlight a few of the terrible
    atrocities which are actually promoted by the bad guys to get attention.

    we keep getting drawn to the Middle East of late but the truth is there are brutal actions taking place in Asia and Africa – ongoing also – and in a country with 18 trillion in debt and who cannot provide health care for their own people and, in fact, have more of their people in prison than any other country on the planet – there is a limit to what we can do and our duty is to work with other countries in the world to use International Human RIghts commissions and Amnesty International, Mercy Ships and others to work to help others – and to do so – without making the primary focus of our effort – military intervention.

    The US does have a global interest and mission – but we do much better when we do not use the military to interfere with the affairs of other countries.. it almost always ends in disaster.

    There is a big difference between being there to help when asked and essentially invading and occupying and end up fighting insurgencies who are not faceless but have families – and killing and torture follow and hearts and minds lost … it ends badly. The US military is the wrong tool to use. It’s not a tool primarily designed to fix things.

  7. Reed Fawell 3rd Avatar
    Reed Fawell 3rd

    I fear we may be sliding towards a millennial event.

    Turkey, formally our eastern rock of Gibraltar against the Soviets and Persians is showing surprising weakness, internal instability and confusion.

    This is remarkable, this Turkish irresolution. It has not seen since before AtaTurk resurrected the heart of the Ottoman Empire. Even more remarkable is that his irresolution is sown in the face of helpless but desperate refugees fleeing a world collapsing around Turkey. A world from the Black Sea, to the Caucasus, to the Balkans and back around to Greece and to the Middle East – a world so weak and stricken that war refugees go wherever the terror drives them without the opposition of any organized or civilized force . In their world the center cannot hold. Its already gone. Up to the Gates of Budapest, repeating the histories of centuries before. And it is happening before our very own American eyes as we stand helplessly by.

    And, in these times of growing pestilence, violence and destruction, only Germany stands with any certitude, confidence, and morality.

    Yet now even Germany may not be able to hold Europe together, at least not the Post WWII Europe we have come to know and take for granted.

    For much of the rest of Europe is spent as a force capable of standing behind our Western civilization in world. And paradoxically, save for Germany, much of Europe is a dying Weimar Republic writ large. France is now weakened to the point of internal fracture under the current and growing stress. Britain no longer “punches above its weight”. And the US most recently has torn up that special alliance that played such a positive roll in the 20th century world, among so many others.

    No, today Europe, now sooner than later, could collapse of its own weight, Greece being the canary in the mine of the Mediterranean states on both sides of that Great Inland Sea from Gibraltar to the Bosporus and now to the far eastern side of the Black Sea to what’s left of Georgia.

    Why? Because the forces of Chaos, the Four Horseman of the Apocalypse armed now with nuclear weapons are on the march unopposed.

    Witness the highly aggressive rise of a rapidly coming modern day nuclear armed Persian Empire in Alliance with a ravenous Russian Bear, both working in tandem, intent on carving up the Middle East starting with the already collapsed states of Syria and Iraq at ground zero of the historic crossroads of three continents, before Persia and the Bear work outward.

    Israel already has its back to the wall. It is cornered.

    But likely Jordan is next. And then Egypt. And then Saudi Arabia comes under the knife after the Emirates and after Afghanistan. Ridiculous, you say. To which I say, Who is going to Stop them. America? Barack Obama?

    Without help no where now is sight, Israel’s only realistic chance is a massive nuclear strike on population centers of its implacable enemy.


    To the north into Europe, to the east into the former Soviet Republics, to the south into Mecca and to the west across the historic Mohammedan lands of North Africa up into Spain as far north Toledo, the Four Horsemen of Apocalypse will rampage, gathering up the worlds oil and its vital sea lanes of commerce carrying trade worldwide, and destroying cultures once owned and long claimed by the Four Horsemen from the Atlantic to the Baltic to the Indian subcontinent and inland rim of China.

    Ridiculous, you say. To which I say, Who is going to Stop them. America? Barack Obama?

    Hell, its already happening. It already happy before our very eyes. Happening from Georgia to the Crimea to western Ukraine, to Lebanon, to the ancient cradle of civilizations in Syria and Mesopotamia (Iraq) and from there across much of Mediterranean North Africa, including Egypt which we tried our best to give away and may yet still succeed in doing if we have our way, and almost all of this has happened within the past ten years.

    And why not? Putin will rule or die. To rule he needs war. His arms are flowing into wars now going on in the Middle East and Eastern Europe. And he has only started pushing into massive growing weakness in the places we wants to go and has to go to survive personally, the new Peter the Great. Its an old story.

    So are the wars with the Persians.

    Wars with Persians have been going on since the fifth Century BC Greeks were Satan battling Cyrus the Great’s Achaemenid Empire. Their current wars in the name of Mohammed is only the latest edition that picked up the banner in the 6th Century AD. Yet another ugly fact our leader ignores.

    And speaking of America and our leaders. They and we have disarmed. We’ve abandoned the real world. We’ve left it wide open to ravages of War and Pestilence. We’re the modern day sick man of the world.

    We can’t even enforce own borders. We can’t even win a war against a 5th rate power. We can’t even educate our children. We can’t even protect our police. We can’t even pass an annual budget without borrowing from others Trillions of dollars. We can’t even tell the truth. We can’t even figure out our values, who we are, and what we believe. We Can’t even figure out what our own words mean. We can even figure out who are friends are. We can’t even figure our who enemies are. Or what secrets we should keep from them.

    I keep having this bad dream. Its of John Kerry sitting as a young man, a former naval officer, telling Congress about how his fellow American soldiers routinely cut off the ears of their enemies. Now, 40 years later, I still have a hard time believing that really happened. Or that it really is happening all over again.

  8. Andrew Roesell Avatar
    Andrew Roesell

    Dear Reed, I am sorry to say that while I admire your learning and the grace with which you wrote, I find too many differences of cause and effect to be able to respond in a detailed way that is economical in my time and attention. I will say that, in general, the U.S. has imposed regimes upon societies (think of the Shah of Iran and the Samozas) in order to further its own agenda in which social order in the short-to-midterm was paramount, usually to economic special interests. Now, our elites have changed their minds, many of them, and believe that the long-term effects of such policies have been instability, by assisting the rise of religious fanatics opposed to the same regimes, and that only “democracy” i.e. elections in which the popular will is expressed can create stability. We see what has been from this view, and it is not pretty, either. The U.S. entered WWI to “make the world safe for democracy.” We see what that resulted in, Bolshevism & WWII & the Cold War. Each time we tell ourselves, or rather the interventionists tell us, “stick in the muds,” “unless we go such-and-such then… [fill in the danger and location] then [fill in the fatal consequence]. We were suckered again into going into Iraq, for Israeli interests (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Clean_Break:_A_New_Strategy_for_Securing_the_Realm) We are not responsible for the world, but the inhabitants of the societies in question ARE responsible for them. Our own society, its elite especially, has become utterly decadent, and for us to to presume to be able to solve other people’s problems would be deeply suspect, but while we are under siege and our laws transmogrifying into parodies of justice is almost comical. I respect you greatly, Reed, but we have tried the “NeoConservative” formula and it has only wrought more war, more fanaticism. You cannot save people from themselves. Sorry to ramble on. Take care.

    1. Andrew, I agree with you that American power has been a very blunt-edged sword, more akin to a mace, really, and that we have made repeated errors in and mistakes. But as far as imperialistic, war-mongering hegemons go, we were probably the most enlightened the world has seen. We kept the sea lanes open for global trade. We avoided global conflagrations. We stifled regional conflict. (While the world has seen its share of wars and conflicts in the post-World War II era, I suspect the record will show in the next 10 to 20 years, the pax Americana was, in fact, more peaceful than what will follow.)

      Americans don’t have the stomach for more war. But, while we can disengage from the world, the world will not disengage from us.

      Europe is learning that from its migrant crisis. The Europeans don’t meddle in other peoples’ affairs. They mind their own business and tend to their nice, peaceful welfare states. They have unilaterally disarmed, and represent no threat to anyone. But they seem powerless to stop a flood of a million migrants seeking refuge. Does anyone seriously believe that this million-person wave of migrants will be the last? Does anyone seriously believe that the wars and civil wars and terror that have displaced millions around Africa and the Middle East will cease any time soon?

      I agree with Reed that the Western World is in the advanced phases of decrepitude. Our finances are in hoc to our welfare states. Our economies are in hock to the rent-seekers. We are unilaterally disarming. And, most dangerous of all, we have lost our confidence in the superiority of our way of life. We have lost the sense that it is something worth fighting and dying for. Others will fill the vacuum — Iran, Turkey, China, Russia, ISIS, India, Pakistan and who knows what else. Does anyone seriously believe the world will be better off as these nations all jockey for regional primacy?

      1. NoVaShenandoah Avatar

        I think that a few million dead Vietnamese and Iraqis, not to mention the essentially exterminated Christians in Iraq, and the Palestinians (Christian as well as Muslim) made refugees may disagree with the benevolence of our actions.

        Let me put it this way: contrary to every other country in the world, we have been at war continuously since WW2! And ‘collateral damage’ is a polite way of saying ‘innocent civilians killed’.

    2. Reed Fawell 3rd Avatar
      Reed Fawell 3rd

      Andrew –

      And I respect your opinions too, and admire your learning as well, and consider you a worthy opponent in any debate on this subject.

      First, thought, while I admire a good number of neo-conservatives, I do not consider myself one of them. And I try my best to come to my opinions by our own independent study of history. And it is here that I have come to my opinions, for whatever they might be worth, on the application of national power abroad.

      Hence, I believe that America since its founding has had a special, if changing, role to play in the world, and that America cannot abandon the world, or its special place within it, without being consumed and destroyed by the world, most particularly in the modern age.

      That said:

      I think perhaps that where you and I might differ is that I believe that such effort can be successful if its done with great wisdom and understanding as well as a deft and multi-faceted touch in an always strong foreign policy, including in the application of its power ( military, diplomatic, and economic), and that only then will we have the best chance or indeed any chance at all to keep peace in the world while also having a chance, irrespective of peace, to do the greatest good possible in that world.

      Unfortunately, this requires a genius that few possess or can summon to their side, although the critical need for such deft application cannot be avoided for long without harm. Fortunately, we have a classic example of such a President in action. And, like all highly successful geniuses, he was and is greatly misunderstood and unfairly maligned to this day in my view.

      To my great surprise after a good deal deal of study I have come to believe that our most effective President in the modern world internationally was Theodore Roosevelt (who I also consider to a great disaster as a post president).

      And I consider our worst by far modern President internationally to be Woodrow Wilson by a country mile.

      Study and compare these two men, their words and actions one to the other, and remarkably practical insights can be found.

      Learn the difference between these two men in action on the world stage and one knows what one needs to know about how to have the best chance to do the most good in the world. That is my view. Of course its heresy to many, but no good deed ever goes unpunished much less fully appreciated.

      I have begun a piece on that subject that I’ve temporarily had to put aside, but will pick up again as soon as time allows. Its beginning can be found in the last and lengthy footnote 25 to the Saipan Section of my website at 2ndarmoredamphibianbattalion.com

      1. Andrew Roesell Avatar
        Andrew Roesell

        Dear Reed,

        Thanks for your suggestions to study and compare Presidents T. Roosevelt & Woodrow Wilson. Someone I admire in terms of foreign policy is King James I of England. Goaded by Puritans to engage Spain and other Catholic powers and factions in religious war, he resisted these “sirens’ calls” for intervention, and again opposed them on their desire to persecute and “root out” Roman Catholics at home, merely because of their religion. It will be hard enough to preserve America in the coming decades, but launching global crusades in defense of planet Earth will only divert attention to where our attention most belongs, right here at home, and incur costs (in lives and treasure) that Americans should not be asked to bear, because these are not their fights. We should pray for the peace of the world, use diplomacy for that end, and try, once more, to be an example that other countries would seek to emulate. But is the multicultural-transsexed-sprawlburbia we inhabit really something worth emulating? The Muslim world, rightly, recoils in horror at what we have wrought here, and Europe’s own version, even as they seek work in these places. (But being rich, or powerful, is not any ultimate justification, for “many who are first now, will be last, and many who are now last, will be first,” it is written.)

        “Take up the White Man’s burden—

        Send forth the best ye breed—

        Go send your sons to exile

        To serve your captives’ need

        To wait in heavy harness

        On fluttered folk and wild—

        Your new-caught, sullen peoples,

        Half devil and half child

        Take up the White Man’s burden

        In patience to abide

        To veil the threat of terror

        And check the show of pride;

        By open speech and simple

        An hundred times made plain

        To seek another’s profit

        And work another’s gain

        Take up the White Man’s burden—

        And reap his old reward:

        The blame of those ye better

        The hate of those ye guard—

        The cry of hosts ye humour

        (Ah slowly) to the light:

        “Why brought ye us from bondage,

        “Our loved Egyptian night?”

        Take up the White Man’s burden-

        Have done with childish days-

        The lightly proffered laurel,

        The easy, ungrudged praise.

        Comes now, to search your manhood

        Through all the thankless years,

        Cold-edged with dear-bought wisdom,

        The judgment of your peers!”

        Source: Rudyard Kipling, “The White Man’s Burden: The United States & The Philippine Islands, 1899.” Rudyard Kipling’s Verse: Definitive Edition (Garden City, New York: Doubleday, 1929).

      2. Reed Fawell 3rd Avatar
        Reed Fawell 3rd

        PS –

        One day historians will come to discover the startling resemblance between the ideologies, operating procedures and results achieved by Woodrow Wilson and Barack Obama. Interesting too is the fact the Woodrow Wilson, America’s first truly ‘progressive’ President, was also among its most racist.

  9. Andrew Roesell Avatar
    Andrew Roesell

    If America cannot, or, will not, “reconstruct” Iraq or Afghanistan, then how can we “make the world better off” using similar methods? If we bit off more than we could chew in a “sideshow” like those places, how, possibly could we hope to do the same with these greater powers. We need to recall the words of our First Chief Executive under the 1787 Constitution, a certain gentleman planter from Fairfax County, and set aside these illusions of saving the world from itself. No, there will be terrible wars, some of which our government planted the seeds to, and others it had no role in bringing about, and we cannot seriously effect them, without impairing our own society. As far as the Europeans are concerned, in addition to a “what would Hilter not do?” logic, they have chosen to admit these people at least in part due to what they see as their economic “requirements”, of maintaining the size of the labor force. What they need to start doing is bringing their birthrate back up to replacement level, and repatriate over time, those whom they have admitted. As far as America’s benevolence in the world is concerned, that depends on where you sit. In some places, like western Europe after World War II, yes. In other countries, not so much. We need to see ourselves more in a broader continuum of civilization, and not always as this preening, exceptional, “city on a hill.” He exalts himself will be abased, someone once said.

    1. Andrew, I’m not sure we’re really disagreeing here — just emphasizing totally different things. You’re focusing on the limits to American power to effect positive change. After our experience in Iraq and Afghanistan, I have few illusions on that score. But there is a positive side to the American-empire balance sheet that remains invisible to most people — maintaining open sea lanes for trade and making regional powers much more hesitant about invading one another, which I don’t hear you disputing. My emphasis is on what happens when we’re gone. The world will be even messier than what it already is. Do you seriously dispute that?

      One can acknowledge that the world will be a messier place, but it’s not our problem, or it’s beyond our capacity to address. If that’s what you’re saying, I might agree with you.

      I am discouraged by the quality of the foreign policy debate taking place in the presidential campaign. The peacenik wing of the Democratic Party is utterly deluded to think that diplomacy not backed by force will accomplish anything. The NeoCons apparently have forgotten our searing experience in Iraq and seem inclined to more adventurism for which the nation has no stomach and cannot afford. And Donald Trump blusters about how he could negotiate better deals, presumably through the magic of his personality and brilliance, oblivious to the complexity of the issues and limits to American power.

      As a nation, we are severely conflicted about our aims. Is our goal to serve our national interest? Is it to spread democracy and open trade? Is it to promote environmental and social justice? There is no consensus. We can’t even agree if America is a force for good or ill in the world. We are collectively incoherent. As a result, I’m afraid, we will accomplish none of these goals.

      1. Andrew Roesell Avatar
        Andrew Roesell

        I do not dispute that there is a positive side to the American Empire, like the British, the Roman, etc. But it must be delineated clearly and not fall into one of endless expansionism based notions either of “glory” or of humanitarian-messsianism, whatever. America’s first priority should be on America’s own survival, which is in doubt. Your question, would the world be “a messier place” without America? Yes, from the point of view world infratructure, the sea lanes you mention as just one example. But I ask, which America? Eisenhower’s? Obama’s? In some ways America is making the world a MESSIER place, as is secular Europe. A spiritually and morally messier place, even as their technological abilities flourish. But better a good America, then a merely “Great” America. While I support Donald Trump, I object to his emphasis on this “greatness.” Greatness and goodness are not in necessary conflict, but a greatness that disdains the good is a menace as much as anything else it might do from an “infrastructural support” point of view. But we should not pit these terms against each other, but maintain the proper order: Good, then great, if God wills it, and only to the extent that the latter does not sap the former.

    2. NoVaShenandoah Avatar

      The goal is not to reconstruct anything. The goal is to have perpetual war – as was actually the thesis of a paper written by defense & industry experts in 1945 (wish I had a link handy). They got their wish.

  10. LarrytheG Avatar

    I believe the US CAN and has a duty to be a force for good in the world. That DOES NOT mean to interfere in the internal affairs of other countries because no matter how much the advocates say it _can_ be done right – we have nothing but systematic failure to show for our efforts.

    And the left is NOT opposed to the use of military force – at all for the situations where it is not unilateral on our part. Jim would be better off in his generations to say that “the left does not believe in unilateral interventions where the US is acting on it’s own without support of our own allies”.

    As soon as we start ticking off one, by one, why our allies are not behind us – usually in pejorative terms, we are on our way to a bad outcome – history shows.

    why we think we are justified in inserting ourselves into the affairs of some countries – and not others is also curious… it reveals more about our real motivations. If you want to talk about “failed” nations – there ew quite a few more than just in the Middle East -yet I see no such ardor on the parts of those who want to intervene in other countries to do so in Africa or Asia….or Central/South America why?

    This country, along with Europe , Australia, Canada and others stands for human rights and Democratic governance. We encourage and support countries moving that way and we use sanctions to show our displeasure with those that are going to opposite direction – as we should.

    but force and intervention into other countries is not a solution. We create enemies and we make places in the world where we are no longer welcome – and we undermined allies in those places when we unsettle nations around them.

    Neocons do not have the answer. They are a threat to the very basis, rationality and competency of this country – in my opinion.

    1. Andrew Roesell Avatar
      Andrew Roesell

      And which “human rights” are those? Abortion? Homosexuality? Transsexuality? These are sins in the Christian faith, and in Judaism and Islam. The West has not not outgrown its penchant for “crusades” and spreading A gospel, but it has changed the Cross for the “rainbow” and its creeds have changed over the centuries, but the same desire for wealth and meddling stays the same. Liberals are still crusaders and puritans at heart, only apostate ones, spreading darkness for light, with their swords pointed menacingly against the “savage heathen” of more exotic climes, still hell-bent on remaking them in his own image, the fashion of the age.

      1. LarrytheG Avatar

        you can divide up human rights into those that are considered independent of any particular religion or you can include those that have a religious context but going to war with other countries over disagreements of a religious nature or even more problematic than those of which most peoples of the world – regardless of religion to agree are human rights.

        Calling Liberals “crusaders” in the sense that they want to impose their beliefs on other people or in other countries -is kind of off the beaten track especially since the are regularly accused of being “soft” on getting involved in other countries affairs.. and usually opposed to using govt to impose religious beliefs on those governed.

        Maybe I misunderstood and that is not what was meant.

        1. Andrew Roesell Avatar
          Andrew Roesell

          Dear LarrytheG, I think we will find in the years ahead that such niceities of religious and non-religious versions of “human rights” will be reduced to a single one, and it will not be the “religious” variety. And where disputes over economics and politics come into play, this secular, “more expansive” view, will be a handy club to wield against “recalcitrant” states. Liberals believe that they are the future toward which all mankind aspires and that it is their duty to spread these beliefs to every corner of the globe. Who gave them this “great commission”?

          1. LarrytheG Avatar

            re: ” the great commission”

            I don’t think you’ll find too many liberals who think we should “spread their beliefs to every corner of the globe”.

            Liberals typically do not favor intervention in other countries affairs to start with … much less to impose our values and beliefs on their people.

            when you actually hear folks who espouse those incursions into other countries – you’ll not often mistake them for “weak” liberals. –

            Liberals also typically do not believe that religion should be in government to start with – per our founding fathers.

            re: ” disputes over economics and politics come into play, this secular, “more expansive” view, will be a handy club to wield against “recalcitrant” states.”?

            nation states or US States? on one place you talk about every corner of the globe and here .. not clear.

  11. Reed Fawell 3rd Avatar
    Reed Fawell 3rd

    I think Jim is coming at this issue from the same place, and is doing so with the same objectives and overarching methods, that I am.

    TR’s foreign policy as I view his policies and his actions – his speak softly and carry a big stick policy combined with his sense of what the US needed to do internationally for this world to have the best chance to survive and thrive in peace – is I think the classic example of how to make that work for America and for the world.

    This is not to say in that world is not a very messy place. Nor is it to say that people like General Leonard Wood will not grossly abuse the public trust if given a chance such as happened in the Philippines and elsewhere at the turn into the 20th century.

    But, in my view, that the people of the Far East were far better off with the US in the Philippines than under the free reign boot of the monsters of Imperial Japan.

    And similarly that South and Central America gained great benefit from TR’s ouster of the Spanish from much of the Americas and from his keeping the Imperial Germans at bay and insuring instead that America built and controlled the Panama Canal and was able to enforce the Monroe Doctrine for more than a hundred years. These accomplishments brought great benefit in lieu of the alternatives that surely would have come to pass with Spain and Germany otherwise ruling the Americas, as far north as Mexico.

    Of course we don’t have the space to discuss TR’s winning the the Nobel Peace Prize for his ending the 1905-1906 Russo-Japanese war while surrounded by US Marines at the US Naval Base at Portsmouth Va.

    With regard to antique language of this age, and the values and behavior fully acceptable in his times, we must measure TRs accomplishments by the times he lived in, and the standards of those times, and how his actions benefited those people living in those times over the alternative had not TR taking the actions he did despite those times and because of them.

    With regard to “We need to recall the words of our First Chief Executive under the 1787 Constitution, a certain gentleman planter from Fairfax County, and set aside these illusions of saving the world from itself.”

    I feel confident that George Washington – one of the most aggressive, forceful and wise warrior statesmen of his age – would not for a minute stand for nuclear weapons in the hands of the Mohammedans capable of reaching the shores of his newly independent United States any more than he 22o year ago accepted his countries paying tribute to those Pirates on that far away Barbary coast, but instead at his first practical chance he authorized that those amazing American Built Frigates be built, the envy of the age, the perfect expression of American Genius, all designed for the mission that ultimately brought those Pirates to heal in their dens on that distant North Africa coast, despite Europe’s cynical use of those pirates for their own Imperial advantage for generations . Like I said, America has also always held a special place in the world, making that world a better place. Thanks in substantial part to George Washington, and many others since.

  12. Andrew Roesell Avatar
    Andrew Roesell

    LarrytheG, this is re: “the great commission”. Answer: Both, To cudgle both American states and foreign states for being “retrograde” to “evolving” Liberal “ideals.” Oh, the ambiguities of language, English style. You are very patient and with thick skin to my pricklings! ;-)<

  13. LarrytheG Avatar

    well Andrew – you out of my league when you say ” “ To cudgle both American states and foreign states for being retrograde” to “evolving” Liberal “ideals.” I don’t know what it means.

    can you translate for us slow ones?

  14. Andrew Roesell Avatar
    Andrew Roesell

    Nothing more than smacking down governments and societies that have “failed to keep up with” the more “advanced” Liberal notions of just what constitute human rights, the latest versions being transsexuals, but there are others, and there will be more such things to come – polygamy, pedophilia, etc.

  15. LarrytheG Avatar

    so the SCOTUS is a bunch of liberal ideologues?


  16. Andrew Roesell Avatar
    Andrew Roesell

    I’ll assume that was a rhetorical, Larry! ;-)<

  17. LarrytheG Avatar

    trying to understand how we resolve these kinds of issues.

    do we do it the way we currently do it with elected Governance and an appointed but confirmed lifetime SCOTUS that rules by majority vote and is subject itself to Constitutional amendments and new Congressional laws..

    or what?

    I’m trying to see how we maintain a country with laws and a Constitution when we have diverse views and religions.


    1. Andrew Roesell Avatar
      Andrew Roesell

      Yes. Stop centralizing all of our laws on these things into a “one-size-fits-all”, centralized mould. True federalism allows states to set their own standards. It existed even when the original 13 states were colonies of Great Britain. In Massachusetts, the Congregational Church was established. In Virginia, the Church of England was established. Pennsylvania had no established church. The attempt to impose Liberalism on all 50 states has led to a “Cold Civil War” and it may turn hot if the poisonous atmosphere and rank disrepect for all religion, the Constitution (the actual one, not what the judges whimsically say it is) and all other law continues. It is Liberals who have forced themselves upon everyone else. They brook no compromise or disagreement. It is the most pressing problem we face as a country today. Why don’t they understand this? I am not demanding that they change their opinions, only that they not force the rest of us to live under their dictates, a not too strong word for what they are doing, continually, every day. I pray you will try to talk sense to your friends and go back to a federal model of governing our country, or it will fall apart in a catastrophe that will make the 1861-1865 ordeal pale by comparison. I almost get the feeling that many Liberals want this to happen, judging by their repeated ultimata: Submit to our dictates or we will send the troops, the police onto you. This reality is the single greatest reason many Americans oppose gun control: Only this tyrannous Liberal elite, and street criminals would have guns! No way. People are sick and tired of being lied to, ignored, disrespected, you name it. I am a reformer, not a revolutionary. This is bad for Liberals, long term. They are playing with fire, and I get the sense that they think they have everyone sufficiently “whipped” to make them think that there will be no problems from their abuse. WRONG. All of those orange and blue “tea party” plates should tell you, something is afoot, Trump’s campaign, too, and we are almost, if not there already, at the point of no return, when the country will disintegrate, we become “a failed state,” and something like the Spanish Civil War breaks out. WE HAVE TO AVOID THIS.

      1. LarrytheG Avatar

        is there an inherent flaw in our model of governance that has led to this?

        is this problem inherent in all advanced economy countries (OECD)?

        are there countries that have better models of governance that avoid our problems?

        1. Andrew Roesell Avatar
          Andrew Roesell

          No, I don’t think there is a systemic flaw as such, in terms of the formal design, but it is the unwillingness to be governed by that design, for all of its flaws and imperfections, to win at all costs, including villifying one’s opponents, and that, is done by both sides. We no longer see each other as “fellow Americans”, but as members of mutually hostile groups, who “slam” and “bash” each other, and try to “crush” one’s opponent. This is very disturbing rhetoric, and all sides engage in it. The parties seek 50-state dominance for their perspective. But the Liberals are willing to import a new electorate and the Republicans are desirous of importing a new workforce, hence the “bipartisan conspiracy of silence,” on immigration all these years. The political culture is extremely toxic and shutting down the government, or parts of it, is “payback”, so to speak, against the Establishment by those Conservatives who are totally alienated by it. There is no love. But there is plenty of hate. And hate can precede actions of a kind that involve “other means,” as Clausewitz noted on war. And we’ve got to give people the sense that the country belongs to them. They feel dispossessed, culturally, economically, and politically, and they are angry for it. The far right uses the term, “minority occupation government” to describe this. I would describe it as a “corporate occupied government” that has no loyalty to anything but its own, perceived, interests.

          1. LarrytheG Avatar

            well I agree about the split and about the dysfunction with respect to governance.. very apparent.

            and perhaps things will drag on until future elections – which likely won’t put one side or the other completely in charge and at some point a pragmatic realization will occur that – we can’t go forward without each side swallowing some toads.

            I think the left can stand it’s own self on most issues but I’m not so sure about the right – which is itself split.

            Sanders folks will vote for Clinton and vice versa – will the other side vote for their nominee?

  18. Andrew Roesell Avatar
    Andrew Roesell

    A Dream Deferred

    by Langston Hughes

    Langston Hughes homepage

    What happens to a dream deferred?

    Does it dry up
    like a raisin in the sun?
    Or fester like a sore–
    And then run?
    Does it stink like rotten meat?
    Or crust and sugar over–
    like a syrupy sweet?

    Maybe it just sags
    like a heavy load.

    Or does it explode?

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