A Real Conservative Foreign Policy

Conservatives seem to go back and forth over what is the best kind of Conservative foreign policy, the Neoconservative policy or the Paleoconservative policy. One would have us intervene in everyone’s business, and the other would keep our military entirely out of all other nations. Both sides are wrong, and we don’t need a Neocon or a Paleocon foreign policy, but instead, a True Conservative one. By True Conservative, I mean one with no prefixes or suffixes, one content with just being called Conservative.

Neoconservatives have a foreign policy that traditionally would have been a phenomenon of the left. Their policy promotes intervention where it is not needed, such as in Germany, where we have a large troop presence, and in much of the rest of the world where we are not needed nor wanted. Their foreign policy would put security over liberty, a mistake that would ensure the demise of our Republic. It is, in fact, not a Conservative policy at all, and instead, a policy which many leftists would happily sign on to. We need a foreign policy that will involve liberty-oriented maneuvers, and rational deployment based on defense.

Paleoconservative are believers in the Old Rights isolationism. This cannot be exercised in today’s world of terrorists and other subversive enemies. Our military must be recognized as a force for good, not to promote our values but rather our national defense. They are wrong simply because of the fact that they say our military cannot be used at all around the world. Their heroes such as Ron Paul claim to support a foreign policy which is based on sovereignty, not the promotion of democracy. But in practice, they believe that wars such as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as the possible war in Iran are not beneficial to our defense.

As you will notice, both sides of this Conservative debate have strong allies on the left, from Joe Lieberman to Russ Feingold. This would lead me to believe that neither side is sufficiently Conservative to deserve that title. Neocons abandon the old Conservative maxim “Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”-Ben Franklin, and the Paleocons abandon the Conservative ideal of keeping America exceptional. A true Conservative foreign policy would recognize the truth on both sides of this Conservative debate, and would make sure that our foreign policy promotes America, and defends American liberty.

A true Conservative national defense would keep our military strong, so as to promote “Peace through strength”-Ronald Reagan, while relieving ourselves of our involvement in most of the 180 nations which we have high troop levels in. It would recognize the threat posed by radical Islam, and would seek to destroy it, through technology and military force. A true Conservative national defense would remove us from the U.N. and secure the border with a massive electronic fence. It would increase our militaries size, while keeping many of our extraneous troops stationed in pointless areas such as Germany at home. It would fight the enemy with more common sense, not going down the Obama path of more troops in Afghanistan, when an infantry war has never been successful in that terrain. It would seek to streamline the military by exploring alternative technology such as the missile deployment system in Afghanistan. Finally, it would be fiscally responsible, at all times making sure that every single last military program was able to be funded, otherwise we would see the collapse of our military.

We need to pursue a Conservative foreign policy which will serve America best. Believe it or not, both Ron Paul and Dick Cheney are wrong on foreign policy, and clearly, neither of them or their followers are true Conservatives. We need the foreign policy advocated by true Conservative heroes such as Jim DeMint, Rand Paul, and Sarah Palin. We need a real Conservative foreign policy.

Reading "Decision Points"

Former president George W. Bush's book "Decision Points" has recently been published. While not exactly an exciting page-turner, the book does provide some insight into the White House for much of the last decade. There are several interesting things that "Decision Points" says.

Firstly, it is fairly obvious that "Decision Points" has been ghostwritten - that is, that most of the words are that of a ghostwriter rather Mr. Bush himself. Indeed, the autobiography sometimes reads quite like former President Bill Clinton's "My Life." Again and again, Mr. Bush is "reduced to tears" or "amazed" by Event X or Person Y. Such things also happen with striking regularity to Mr. Clinton in "My Life" (in contrast, President Barack Obama only cries once - when he first hears Reverend Jeremiah Wright make a sermon - in his non-ghostwritten "Dreams from my Father").

This sometimes makes for less interesting reading. For instance, Mr. Bush - or his ghostwriter - does his best to praise Vice President Dick Cheney as a great man and a service to his country. Given the rumors of conflict between Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney in the later years of his term, one wonders whether Mr. Bush really thinks this in his heart.

Despite its ghostwritten status, however, one still finds some interesting insights. Mr. Bush ordered his team to begin planning the Iraq War mere months after 9/11, for instance - something that will not endear him any to liberal critics. Also fascinating is his account of Hurrican Katrina. Mr. Bush talks at some length about the bureaucratic obstacles that prevented the federal government from taking control. Apparently the White House feared that doing this - the image of a Republican president ordering troops into a majority-black city in a state with a history of racial oppression - would create political scandal. Suffice to say that such considerations were probably the farthest from anybody's mind at the time.

The book, interestingly enough, focuses strongly on foreign affairs. "Decision Points" spends most of its time talking about Mr. Bush's wars and the aftermath of 9/11; domestic affairs are almost an afterthought. Only when a domestic crisis - stem cells, Hurricane Katrina, the financial crisis - intrudes does Mr. Bush turn his gaze away from the War on Terror. In fact, apart from foreign affairs related to the War on Terror the book is quite sparse. Mr. Bush includes a few pages on Russia and a few on China (aside from America, the two most powerful nations in the world) - but one gets the feeling that he does so only because of how bad it would look if he did not do so.

One wonders how an Obama-written "Decision Points" would be like. It would probably have an inverted concentration on foreign and domestic affairs: domestic affairs would be first, with foreign affairs an afterthought. Mr. Obama would talk about the stimulus, health care, financial reform, the Bush tax cuts (indeed, Mr. Obama probably would devote more time to the Bush tax cuts than Mr. Bush himself), and the economic recession. The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq would be given space only out of necessity, in stark contrast to Mr. Bush's approach.

Finally, Mr. Bush spends quite a remarkable amount of space defending himself. Again and again the former president - or his ghostwriter - talks about how he regrets how Thing A turned out, or about how he spends a lot of time thinking about whether he could have done Thing B differently (the answer is usually "no.") At points the book reads like a litany of mistakes Mr. Bush made, with Mr. Bush attempting to defend his decisions at the time.

Some will say, of course, that Mr. Bush's presidency actually was a litany of mistakes. Indeed, the majority of Americans probably endorse this view. In many ways, the reason that Mr. Bush wrote "Decision Points" was to contest this view. While not very convincing in doing so, it does provide some insight into how Mr. Bush made the mistakes that he did.

--Inoljt, http://mypolitikal.com/ 



Observing the White House’s Improving Diplomacy

When Senator Barack Obama ran for president of the United States, a major critique of him was his relative inexperience. The argument went that Mr. Obama just didn’t have enough time under his belt to govern the country, and it was used against him throughout the campaign.

This attack was not just political posturing. Many Mr. Obama’s political opponents – from former president Bill Clinton to Senator John McCain – genuinely believed that he did not have what it took to run the world’s most powerful country.

It has therefore been interesting to observe the affair of Mr. Obama actually running the world’s most powerful country.

In the beginning, the Obama administration did make several amateurish mistakes. These blunders were not of the strategic sort, but rather relatively small-fry things. They generally involved diplomatic protocol, or unintended embarrassment to important countries.

These were also things that tended to be out of Mr. Obama’s control. Most mistakes were made by new staffers green to the job, who should have taken care of obvious things but did not.

In March 2009, for instance, Mr. Brown visited the White House and gave the president a priceless gift: a “pen holder made from the wood of a warship that helped stamp out the slave trade – a sister ship of the vessel from which timbers were taken to build Mr Obama’s Oval Office desk.” Mr. Obama and his staff, new to the job and overwhelmed by the sudden work load, returned the favor by giving the Prime Minister a box set of Hollywood DVDs. For weeks after this gaffe, Great Britain’s infamously opinionated newspapers lamented the snub (see the linked article for one example).

There are other examples of diplomatic gaffes made as the Obama administration was still getting its bearings straight. These were mistakes like announcing plans to scrap a missile defense plan in Eastern Europe on September 17, 2009 – a date which happened to be the 70th anniversary of the Soviet invasion of Poland. Or, in an attempt to improve diplomatic relations, handing the Russian Foreign Minister a red “restart” button – with the Russian word “restart” misspelled.

Now, these blunders were not things countries go to war over. Most people – even the most politically engaged – have forgotten them, and conservative critics have generally been silent on the subject. Nevertheless, they were still sources of considerable diplomatic embarrassment.

The good news is that all these blunders came in 2009. As the Obama administration has settled in to the job, diplomatic gaffes have generally disappeared. Those blunders that were made after two months on the job would not be made today. There have been no Gordon Brown-type incidents since at least the end of 2009. After one and a half years as president, the administration now knows what gifts to give to important visitors (i.e. not DVDs), what dates to avoid announcing certain things on, how to spell in Russian, and so on.

More fortunately, these diplomatic gaffes have not led to anything seriously damaging to the United States. Despite the “restart” mess, relations with Russia have still improved markedly. Great Britain still remains a firm and committed ally to the United States, as does most of Eastern Europe. And for all his greenness, at least Mr. Obama is doing better than former president George W. Bush. At this point in Mr. Bush’s presidency, after all, Mr. Bush had just began a prolonged public relations campaign to invade Iraq.

--Inoljt, http://mypolitikal.com/



Oliver Stone's "Border" Shows Fall of South America's Berlin Wall

On April 13, 2002, an event occurred in Venezuela which was as world-historical for South America as the fall of the Berlin Wall was for Eastern Europe: a U.S.-backed coup against the democratically-elected government of Venezuela collapsed. The Bush Administration's efforts to promote the coup failed, in the face of popular resistance in Venezuela, and diplomatic resistance in the region.

The failure of the Bush Administration's effort to overthrow President Chavez was world-historical for South America because it sent a powerful new signal about the limits of the ability of the United States to thwart popular democracy in the region. In the years prior to the reversal of the U.S.-backed coup, popular movements in South America had suffered from a widespread "Allende syndrome": a key legacy of the U.S.-orchestrated overthrow of democracy in Chile in 1973 was the widespread belief that there was a sharp limit to the popular economic reforms that could be achieved through the ballot box, because the United States simply wouldn't allow formal democracy in the region to respond to the economic needs of the majority.

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America’s Inadequate Response to the Revolution in Kyrgyzstan

On April 7, 2010 the people of Kyrgyzstan, a far-away country straining under an increasingly oppressive president, liberated themselves. In a revolution recalling those of 1989, protests unexpectedly toppled the authoritarian government. The opposition quickly took control, promising free and fair elections.

The United States government promptly asked if the new administration would allow America to keep its air base in the country. It did not endorse the new government, instead releasing a statement that read:

We remain a committed partner to the development of Kyrgyzstan for the benefit of the Kyrgyz people and intend to continue to support the economic and democratic development of the country.

To be fair, there is some concern over the credibility of the new government. Kyrgyzstan’s president himself came to power after a similar revolution overthrew an authoritarian regime. Power might corrupt the new government as it did with President Kurmanbek Bakiyev.

Moreover, this military base is very important to the interests of the United States. It constitutes a vital logistical component of the war in Afghanistan. Outside of Afghanistan itself, the United States does not have another regional military base.

But sometimes standing for a principle is more important than even the most vital military base. These principles include things such as freedom, liberty, and democracy. America, however imperfectly, has always championed these values. When an oppressed people free themselves, it is a fundamental part of America’s creed to stand with them.

President Barack Obama himself – not Hillary Clinton – should take thirty minutes out of his week to call the new government, congratulating them for their efforts standing against tyranny. He should apologize for supporting Mr. Bakiyev (who in any case was no friend of the United States, having previously threatened to close the base).

Actions like these will be remembered by the new Kyrgyz government long after the United States forgets. They might – in fact, they probably will – even convince it to keep America’s precious air base.

--Inoljt, http://mypolitikal.com/

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