Ending the pax Americana 2

We are in principle against intervention in the internal affairs of other countries. But we are not for isolationism or pacifism – we regard either philosophy as a formula for national suicide. If other countries become belligerent, build up their armed strength, send their warships towards our shores, establish bases in countries on our borders, and declare their aggressive intentions towards us, the politics of those countries become our business. That is happening now. We are under threat – because Obama is deliberately weakening America. And his reaction to the result is to weaken America even more.

The conditions for major war develop much more easily when the U.S. is too weak. They are developing as we speak. 

To a meaningful extent, the significant increase we’ve seen in unrest around the globe since 2010 has been made possible, and inevitable, by the retraction of American power. Even where we still have power in place, it has become increasingly obvious that we aren’t going to use it. 

We quote from a website interestingly named Liberty Unyielding. The article on the extreme folly of the Obama administration’s moves to weaken America is by Commander Jennifer Dyer, now retired from the US navy. (Her own blog is at Theoptimisticconservative.wordpress.com):

The collapse of order in the Arab nations in 2011 was the first significant stage of the process. The perception that the United States would do nothing about a Hezbollah coup in Lebanon was tested in January of that year. The perception proved to be true, and when protests erupted in Tunisia and Egypt, for causes both natural and manufactured, a set of radical Islamist actors – the “establishment” Muslim Brotherhood, Sunni jihadists, Iran – saw an opportunity. The establishment Muslim Brotherhood has largely won out in Tunisia, but the battle still rages among these radical actors for Egypt, Syria, and now Iraq. Lebanon is being incrementally sucked into the maelstrom as well.

In multiple venues, Russia has watched the U.S. and the West effectively back Islamists in Russia’s “near abroad”: in Turkey (with support for the now struggling Erdogan government); in the Balkans, especially Bosnia and Kosovo; and in Syria. …

There was a time when the implicit determination of the U.S. to enforce the “Pax Americana” order – the post-World War II alignments of the region – held Russia in check. The Russians still derived some security benefit from that order, after all … It appears to me, however, that 2014 will be the year in which it becomes clear that, according to Russians’ perception, they no longer benefit from the old order. If we’re not going to enforce it, Russia will do what she thinks she has to.

In fact, Moscow’s pushback against the plan for Ukraine to affiliate with the EU constitutes just such a blow for perceived Russian interests. It is of supreme importance for Westerners to not misread the recent developments. The EU and the U.S. did back down when Russia pushed hard last fall. The only ones who didn’t back down were the Ukrainian opposition. I predict Vladimir Putin will try to handle the opposition factions cleverly, as much as he can, and avoid a pitched battle with them if possible. He respects what they are willing to do. But he has no reason to respect Brussels or Washington.

And that means he has more latitude, not less, for going after the regional props to the old order, one by one. As always, Russia’s inevitable competition with China is a major driver, along with Russia’s concern about Islamism on her southern border. The whole Great Crossroads – Southwest Asia, Southeast Europe, Northeast Africa, the waterways that snake through the region – is, if not up for grabs, at least in ferment. Look wherever you like: there are almost no nations where there is not a very present menace from radicalism, or where governments and even borders are not gravely imperiled by internal dissent.

Israel is the chief standout for politically sustainable stability and continuity. Romania and Turkey seem likely to at least retain their constitutional order in the foreseeable future, but Turkey’s geopolitical orientation, in particular, is less certain. Greece and Kosovo – even Bosnia – have serious internal problems. Egypt, Sudan, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Somalia all remain in crisis at various levels. Jordan and Saudi Arabia are relatively stable, and the Arab Persian Gulf states relatively so as well. But their neighborhood is going downhill fast. Iran is riding a wave of radical confidence, and the Taliban are resurgent in Afghanistan.

In this tumultuous region, it’s actually a little funny that Pakistan looks stable and staid compared to Iran, Afghanistan, and neighbors west. We can hope that Islamabad’s perceived need to maintain a symmetrical stance against India will keep Pakistan’s loose federation of intransigents federated, and the nukes under central control. But as we move across South Asia, we near another boiling pot. Thailand – long an American ally and pillar of stability in the region – has been rocked in recent months by national unrest of a kind not seen in Southeast Asia for decades. Islamist radicalism is a growing threat in Indonesia, and an unpacified one in the Philippines, after more than a decade of U.S.-Philippines collaboration in fighting it.

And, of course, China is making real, transformative moves against regional security with her proclamations about air space and maritime rights off her southeast coast.

This disruptive process, like the battles for many of the Arab nations, is already underway. We’re not waiting for something to happen; it’s started.

China assumes, quite correctly, that there will be no effective pushback from the United States. But two other nations with power and means will regard it as intolerable for China to dictate conditions in Southeast Asia: Japan and Russia. The dance of realignment among these nations has implications for everyone in Central Asia and the Far East. The day may be on the horizon sooner than we think when maintaining a divided Korea no longer makes sense to at least one of the major players. The day is already here when Chinese activities in Central Asia are alarming the whole neighborhood, just as Chinese actions are in the South China Sea. …

Russia and Iran are advancing on the US through Central America:

It’s no accident that as radical leftism creeps across Central America (falsely laying claim to a noble “Bolivarian” political mantle), the maritime dispute between Nicaragua and American ally Colombia heats up – and Russia shows up to back Nicaragua and Venezuela – and so does Iran – and unrest turns into shooting and government brutality and violence in Venezuela – and Hezbollah shows up there to openly support the radical, repressive Maduro government.

Now Iran has a naval supply ship headed for Central America, very possibly with a cargo of arms that are not only prohibited by UN sanction, but capable of reaching the United States if launched from a Central American nation or Cuba.

We’re not still waiting for the shocks to start to the old order. They’ve already started. I haven’t surveyed even the half of what there is to talk about …

She looks at the latest defense cuts with dismay and considers what the consequences will be:

This is the world in which the United States plans to reduce our army to its lowest level since before World War II, and eliminate or put in storage much of its capabilities for heavy operations abroad (e.g., getting rid of the A-10 Warthogs, moving Blackhawk helicopters into the National Guard). It’s in this world that DOD proposes to cease operating half of our Navy cruisers, while delaying delivery of the carrier-based F-35 strike-fighter to the Navy and Marine Corps. These cutbacks come on top of cuts already made to training and maintenance expenditures in the Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force that will affect unit readiness for years to come. …

Then comes what should be a shocking observation:

By cutting back on defense so drastically, America is deciding, in essence, to “fight fair”: to give whatever opponents emerge more of a chance to kill our soldiers, damage our interests, and drag out conflicts.

That would be hard to believe of any American leadership – until now. It is ludicrous. Worse, it is lunatic. But Obama has never concealed or disguised his wish to weaken America’s military capacity.

The decision “to further limit our capabilities to use power in politically relevant ways” will result in “even more global unrest: more conflict, more shooting, more blood, more extortion and political thuggery menacing civil life in the world’s poorer and more vulnerable nations”, and that cannot be good for America. The point is that -

These unpleasant trends will spill over into civil life in the wealthier nations soon enough

As it has, she points out, in Ukraine, Thailand, and Venezuela, “whether directly or through second-order consequences”.

Peace and freedom have to be tended constantly; they are not the natural state of geopolitical indiscipline, but its antithesis. …

We’re extraordinarily unprepared for the world that is shaping up around us. …

[And] a world that doesn’t want quiescent trade conditions, tolerance of dissent, the open flow of ideas, and mutual agreements, peacefully arrived at, will not have them.

That’s the world we are sentencing ourselves, for now, to live in. Perhaps we will learn from the consequences how to think again: about what it takes to guard freedom, and indeed, about what freedom actually is. 

It is Obama who needs to think again, but there is no reason to hope that he will. It could hardly be more obvious that he does not care for freedom.

America’s do-gooding wars without end 8

All Mark Steyn‘s columns are so good, so funny however serious and important the point he is making, that it’s hard to say this one or that one is the best or the funniest. But a recent article titled Too Big To Win, on the highly important subject of America’s wars, must surely be among his best and funniest.

We are picking sentences and passages from it to give our readers a taste, but we hope they’ll be enticed to read the whole thing here and enjoy the feast.

Why can’t America win wars? …

Afghanistan? The “good war” is now “America’s longest war.” Our forces have been there longer than the Red Army was. The “hearts and minds” strategy is going so well that American troops are now being killed by the Afghans who know us best. …

Libya? The good news is that we’ve vastly reduced the time it takes us to get quagmired. I believe the Libyan campaign is already in The Guinness Book of World Records as the fastest quagmire on record. In an inspired move, we’ve chosen to back the one Arab liberation movement incapable of knocking off the local strongman even when you lend them every NATO air force. But not to worry: President Obama, cooed an administration official to The New Yorker, is “leading from behind.” Indeed. What could be more impeccably multilateral than a coalition pantomime horse composed entirely of rear ends? Apparently it would be “illegal” to target Colonel Qaddafi, so our strategic objective is to kill him by accident. So far we’ve killed a son and a couple of grandkids. Maybe by the time you read this we’ll have added a maiden aunt or two to the trophy room. It’s not precisely clear why offing the old pock-skinned transvestite should be a priority of the U.S. right now, but let’s hope it happens soon, because otherwise there’ll be no way of telling when this “war” is “ended.”

According to partisan taste, one can blame the trio of current morasses on Bush or Obama, but in the bigger picture they’re part of a pattern of behavior that predates either man, stretching back through non-victories great and small — Somalia, Gulf War One, Vietnam, Korea. On the more conclusive side of the ledger, we have . . . well, lemme see: Grenada, 1983. And, given that that was a bit of post-colonial housekeeping Britain should have taken care of but declined to, one could argue that even that lone bright spot supports a broader narrative of Western enfeeblement. At any rate, America’s only unambiguous military triumph since 1945 is a small Caribbean island with Queen Elizabeth II as head of state. For 43 percent of global military expenditure, that’s not much bang for the buck.

At the dawn of the so-called American era, Washington chose to downplay U.S. hegemony and instead created and funded transnational institutions in which the non-imperial superpower was so self-deprecating it artificially inflated everybody else’s status in a kind of geopolitical affirmative-action program. …   In 1950, America had a unique dominance of the “free world” and it could afford to be generous, so it was: We had more money than we knew what to do with, so we absolved our allies of paying for their own defense. …

By the time the Cold War ended … U.S.–Soviet nuclear standoff of mutual deterrence decayed into a unipolar world of U.S. auto-deterrence. …

At a certain level, credible deterrence depends on a credible enemy. The Soviet Union disintegrated, but the surviving superpower’s instinct to de-escalate intensified: In Kirkuk as in Kandahar, every Lilliputian warlord quickly grasped that you could provoke the infidel Gulliver with relative impunity. Mutually Assured Destruction had curdled into Massively Applied Desultoriness. …

The Pentagon outspends the Chinese, British, French, Russian, Japanese, German, Saudi, Indian, Italian, South Korean, Brazilian, Canadian, Australian, Spanish, Turkish, and Israeli militaries combined. So why doesn’t it feel like that?

Well, for exactly that reason: If you outspend every serious rival combined, you’re obviously something other than the soldiery of a conventional nation state. But what exactly? In the Nineties, the French liked to complain that “globalization” was a euphemism for “Americanization.” But one can just as easily invert the formulation: “Americanization” is a euphemism for “globalization,” in which the geopolitical sugar daddy is so busy picking up the tab for the global order he loses all sense of national interest. … The Pentagon now makes war for the world. …

An army has to wage war on behalf of something real. For better or worse, “king and country” is real, and so, mostly for worse, are the tribal loyalties of Africa’s blood-drenched civil wars. But it’s hardly surprising that it’s difficult to win wars waged on behalf of something so chimerical as “the international community.” If you’re making war on behalf of an illusory concept, is it even possible to have war aims? What’s ours? “[We] are in Afghanistan to help the Afghan people,” General Petraeus said in April. Somewhere generations of old-school imperialists are roaring their heads off, not least at the concept of “the Afghan people.” But when you’re the expeditionary force of the parliament of man, what else is there?

Nation building in Afghanistan is the ne plus ultra of a fool’s errand. But even if one were so disposed, effective “nation building” is done in the national interest of the builder. The British rebuilt India in their own image, with a Westminster parliament, common law, and an English education system. In whose image are we building Afghanistan? Eight months after Petraeus announced his latest folly, the Afghan Local Police initiative, Oxfam reported that the newly formed ALP was a hotbed of torture and pederasty. Almost every Afghan institution is, of course. But for most of human history they’ve managed to practice both enthusiasms without international subvention. The U.S. taxpayer accepts wearily the burden of subsidy for Nevada’s cowboy poets and San Francisco’s mime companies, but, even by those generous standards of cultural preservation, it’s hard to see why he should be facilitating the traditional predilections of Pashtun men with an eye for the “dancing boys of Kandahar.” …

So the Global Integrated Joint Operating Entity is building schoolhouses in Afghanistan. Big deal. The problem, in Kandahar as in Kansas, is not the buildings but what’s being taught inside them — and we’ve no stomach for getting into that. So what’s the point of building better infrastructure for Afghanistan’s wretched tribal culture? What’s our interest in state-of-the-art backwardness?

Transnational do-gooding is political correctness on tour. It takes the relativist assumptions of the multiculti varsity and applies them geopolitically: The white man’s burden meets liberal guilt. No wealthy developed nation should have a national interest, because a national interest is a selfish interest. Afghanistan started out selfishly — a daringly original military campaign, brilliantly executed, to remove your enemies from power and kill as many of the bad guys as possible. Then America sobered up and gradually brought a freakish exception into compliance with the rule. In Libya as in Kosovo, war is legitimate only if you have no conceivable national interest in whatever conflict you’re fighting. The fact that you have no stake in it justifies your getting into it. The principal rationale is that there’s no rationale, and who could object to that? Applied globally, political correctness obliges us to forswear sovereignty.

On we stagger, with Cold War institutions, transnational sensibilities, politically correct solicitousness, fraudulent preening pseudo–nation building, expensive gizmos, little will, and no war aims . . . but real American lives. … Sixty-six years after V-J Day, the American way of war needs top-to-toe reinvention.

A woman’s war 8

The armed intervention by the US (with NATO) in the erstwhile communist and disintegrating state of Yugoslavia at the end of the last century, was probably the most unjustifiable war America ever waged.

Why did the US  expend blood and treasure where absolutely no interest of its own was involved? Why did it go to the aid of the Muslims of Bosnia, and protect – as it still does – assorted Muslim terrorist gangs in Kosovo?  True the Serb leader Slobodan Milosevic was a nasty man, but he wasn’t harming America or Americans. And as brutes in power go, he fell well short of the standard set by Saddam Hussein in Iraq. Funny that the left was so against Saddam being overthrown by US arms, yet so ardently for the overthrow of Milosevic.

Now at last comes an answer to “why?”. A revelation. And it should be enough to make the most hawkish of us blush.

According to Samuel Mikolaski, whose article appears today at American Thinker, the answer is: because President Clinton’s Secretary of State Madeleine Albright hated the Serbs.

At least “in part”  it was her “vitriolic, personal hatred of Serbs” that “facilitated” Clinton’s decision to “import Al Qaeda from Afghanistan into Bosnia”, and “skewed our foreign policy”.

Not since Helen of Troy had a woman’s emotion made nation go to war against nation. (Same part of the world, but a different sort of woman, and an opposite emotion.)

Samuel Mikolaski was born in the Balkans and grew up in Canada. He is a retired professor of theology, so understandably distressed by the “destruction and desecration of literally hundreds of churches, monasteries, cemeteries and other Christian landmarks, some of which are medieval treasures” by the Muslims to whom Kosovo has now been handed over (by the self-described Christian West!). “There are,” he writes, “more churches, monasteries and other Christian landmarks per square kilometer in Kosovo than anywhere else on earth”, because “Kosovo is to Serbian Orthodox Christians what Canterbury is to Anglicans and the Vatican to Roman Catholics.”

Although we don’t share the professor’s religious sensibilities, we do deplore the vandalism and philistinism. But the far greater outrage is the handing over of European territory to Muslim control.

There [was not] even a hint of anxiety or regret [on Clinton's part] at what his importing of Al Qaeda into Bosnia was causing as they settled down, married Bosnian women, and began the process of imposing Islamic radicalism on Bosnia, which had become significantly secular since the expulsion of the Ottomans from Europe after World War I.

From Bosnia and Kosovo we now have one of the largest and most virulent drug cartels in the world, the worst of white slavery and prostitution trafficking into Europe, and terrorist training compounds. (Several of the 9/11 hijackers spent time in Bosnia among their Al Qaeda compatriots.) …

It is scarcely credible, but nevertheless true, that the Clinton Administration ignored the Islamic Declaration by Alija Izetbegović, former president of Bosnia and Herzegovina, in which he clearly urged Islamists in Bosnia and worldwide to take up jihad against the West. Instead they regarded him as “their boy,” ignoring the proliferating terrorist cells in Bosnia. …

The latest bombshell is the Council of Europe’s recently adopted report… that Kosovo leaders, including Prime Minister Hashim Thaci, are complicit in crime, including organ trafficking. There is now a strenuous effort to sweep the body parts issue under the rug lest it torpedo efforts to legitimize the illegally mandated separation of Kosovo from Serbia. The data are horrific: Serbian captive youths were selected on the basis of genetic compatibility for killing in order to harvest saleable body parts. … But there is an insuperable obstacle to effective judicial proceedings: Kosovo is tiny, and it is almost impossible to shelter witnesses, should they come forward. Testifying would mean signing a death warrant against oneself and one’s entire family. …

Apart from which, a self-imposed code of “omerta” has been adopted throughout Europe (and in America by the Obama administration), with regard to Islam: a state of affairs commented on by one of the world’s foremost authorities on Islam, Bernard Lewis, in a passage quoted at the end of the article:

[There is now] a degree of thought control and limitations of freedom of expression without parallel in the Western world since the 18th century … Islam and Islamic values now have a level of immunity from comment and criticism in the Western world that Christianity has lost and Judaism has never had.

Which provokes another “why?”.